5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister what Parliament is to understand from the following statement: -
The present Government had put fiscalism out of the bonds of a Parliament that was not competent to deal with it. ‘It had been put. into the hands of men who were able to apply business treatment to a question of business.
Are we to understand from that statement that the Inter-State Commission will! draw up a set of recommendations which the Government will adopt in the form of a Bill?
– I mean nothing of the kind. Evidently my honorable friend has been reading what some of my critics are saying. I am responsible for, not their setting of the matter, but my own.
– The statement which I have read is part of the report of a meeting addressed by the Prime Minister in Sydney.
– I ask the honorable member to put his question on the notice-paper.
Maternity Allowance - Preference to Unionists
– Has the Prime Minister read an address by the AttorneyGeneral, reported in yesterday’s metropolitan newspapers, in which that honorable gentleman declares that he is entirely against the maternity allowance, and would, if he had his way, wipe it out, and that he would also refuse to allow preference to be given to unionists, either by Government action or by a legal tribunal. I ask further whether that is the policy of the Government?
– I again remind the House, as I have done on several previous occasions, that it has been ruled repeatedly that questions founded on newspaper statements are not in order unless the questioner makes himself responsible personally for the accuracy of the report which he quotes.
– I do that.
– The policy of the Government will be declared at the proper time by the head of the Government.
– I ask the Prime Minister if proper steps have been taken to put a stop to blackbirding in New Guinea ?
– I am not aware of any blackbirding there, but I should be glad if the honorable member will bring under my notice any facts in his possession regarding the matter.
– The Government will have the House with them in putting a stop to blackbirding.
– I ask if drastic steps are being taken to prevent New Guinea natives from being deceived, and indentured practically without their knowledge, and in some cases against their will?
– I hope that that is not the condition of affairs in New Guinea.
– I am afraid that it is.
– In that case, the matter is very serious, and will be considered by the Government.
– I ask the Prime
Minister if his attention has been drawn to a statement by the Vice-President of the Executive Council at Echuca. His colleague is reported to have said of the Government -
They had’ a great programme, which they would give to the people when they wore ready for it. They awaited the decision of the new Governor-General whether they would be allowed to go to the country or not.
Is it true, as the remarks quoted indicate, that a double dissolution has already been asked for and refused? Can the Prime Minister say when we shall get’ from the new Governor-General the reply for which, according to the honorable senator, the Government are waiting?
– It is regretable that one of so much experience and discernment as the honorable member should not have become aware long ago that it is not customary for Governments to tell the House all that transpires in their communications with GovernorsGeneral.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council should be chained up.
– I am not aware that the honorable senator has said anything wrong. Honorable members opposite constantly try to read into speeches delivered by those on this side meanings which no sane and reasonable man would, or should, attribute to them.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs observed the advertisement of a person who calls himself “ Raima “ the Healer? Is he aware that this person is said to have been prosecuted under the Victorian Pure Foods Act and convicted, and that, on appeal, the conviction was quashed by the Full Court on the ground that the article sold was not a food within the meaning of the Act?
– What is advertised?
– This man advertises that he cures diseases of all kinds. Will the honorable gentleman take the steps necessary to invest this Parliament with power in respect to commerce to deal with frauds of this kind ?
– If the honorable member will kindly furnish to me a copy of the advertisement to which he has referred, I shall be in a better position to answer the question.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs why he is adopting a different method in connexion with the present outbreak of smallpox from that which he adopted a few months ago?
– Because it is not smallpox.
– I am not aware that any different method has been adopted, but if the honorable member will kindly indicate more particularly what he means, I shall be better able to give an answer.
– Is the Honorary Minister in a position to give any information as to the progress of works at the Federal Capital?
– I could give my honorable friend a great deal of information if the House would be content to listen to me. If the honorable member will place any questions on the notice-paper, I shall be only too happy to answer them.
– Is it a fact that work has been practically stopped, and, if so, when is it intended to resume it?
– It is not a fact that work has been stopped. Advertisements have already appeared calling for tenders for certain sections of the work in connexion with the Mount Stromlo reservoir, the reservoir on the top of Red Hill, and the completion of the pipe line between the two; and, further, in connexion with the main sewer.
– About a month agoI asked a question in regard to the number of labourers and mechanics employed at the Federal Capital twelve months ago, and the number at present employed, and up to the present I have received no answer.
– I remind the honorable member that he and other honorable members have for the last month prevented any questions being answered. In my opinion, it is time these informal questions ceased, and that we proceeded with the real questions and the business of the country.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House in order to direct attention to a matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ the intolerable position in which the Government has placed the House in regard to the Tariff question.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– Disgraceful and systematic obstruction!
– I must ask the Prime Minister to withdraw those words.
– In compliance with your direction, sir, I withdraw the words.
– It is not merely in compliance with my direction, but in compliance with the Standing Orders.
– I take this step because of the unsatisfactory replies that were given by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs to questions put by me on Friday last in connexion with the Tariff. We were then told by the Minister of Trade and Customs that 463 applications associated with the Tariff had been sent on to the InterState Commission, and that 320 witnesses, whose evidence concerned 149 applications, had been examined. It appears from what the honorable gentleman said that there are now 300 of the applications in regard to which no witnesses have been called, while further applications are still reaching the Commission. Furthermore, the Minister stated that up to the present evidence had been taken only in one State, and that it would be necessary for evidence to be heard in all the States before there could be any rectification of anomalies.
– That is not what I said.
– If the honorable gentleman did not use those exact words, he used words very like them.
– The honorable member should look at Hansard. He did not pay the Government the courtesy of notifying that he intended to move the adjournment of the House.
– The Minister knows very well that the Standing Orders would prevent my quoting from the Hansard of this session; but this is the note which I took of the words used at the time - . . . so far, evidence on Tariff matters had been taken only in Victoria, and, obviously, before a progress report could be made by the Inter-State Commission in respect to any industry, those affected in other parts of Australia should be given a chance to present evidence.
Mr. Tudor then asked ;
Does that answer mean that no Tariff matters will be dealt with until the Inter-State Commission has taken evidence in every State of the Commonwealth ?
The Minister of Trade and Customs replied -
Certainly not. The conduct of the proceedings is entirely in the hands of the Commissioner.
I do not see what other meaning can be attached to the Minister’s words than that evidence is to be taken in each of the States, unless it so happens - although it is almost an impossibility - that there is an industry confined to one State, and not affecting any other.
When the Minister of Trade and Customs told us that the matter was entirely in the hands of the Inter-State Commission, the Prime Minister added, “ It is not going to be taken out of the hands of the Commissioners.”
The honorable member for Maribyrnong asked that the evidence taken before the Commission should be placed before honorable members; but it has been intimated that this is not to be done. lj for one, absolutely refuse to be bound by the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. The Commissioners have no responsibility to my electors, and, so far as I am concerned, they are not going to perform duties that are my right in this House.
We have been told that the Commissioners will give us a summary of the evidence on which they have arrived at certain conclusions; but I desire to have the whole of the evidence. The Chairman of the Inter-State Commission is a confirmed Free Trader, and was for years one of the strongest advocates of the Free Trade policy in the New South Wales Parliament; and evidence which might be satisfactory to him in regard to industries in my own and other electorates might not be satisfactory to me. As a matter of fact, while I should be glad to have a copy of the evidence, I cannot commit myself to any of the conclusions which may be arrived at by the Inter-State Commission. I submit that the Government, in referring the Tariff to the Inter-State Commission, and ‘ giving them no instructions as to whether a report was to be quickly presented, handed over a matter that very properly belongs to this Parliament. When the Tariff was referred to the Commission, the Government might have told the Commissioners that it was a matter of urgency, and that there should be a report at the earliest possible moment. Aa it is, the Commission has been sitting for nearly twelve months, and has dealt with only one State, with some 300 applications yet to be considered; and it becomes evident that during the life of this Parliament’ there can not even be a rectification of Tariff anomalies. This is a negation of the policy on which the present Government were returned. I have with me the report, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 4th April, 1913, of the policy speech delivered ait Parramatta by the Prime Minister, at that time leader of the Opposition.
– The Age accepted him as a Protectionist after that speech.
– After stating that the Tariff matter would be referred to an independent Board - these gentlemen knew at the time that the Inter-State Commission Bill had been passed- he said -
This need not, and will not, prevent a prompt rectification of such anomalies as are discovere’d by the Department in its administration.
And in Parramatta, which hitherto had been known as a Free Trade stronghold, that statement was applauded. Apparently the attitude of the Government is that there are no anomalies.
– They said there were any amount of them.
– The Labour Government dealt with a large number of items under the Tariff, but the present Minister of Trade and Customs, speaking at Toowoomba on the 8th April of last year, said that this was altogether insufficient. The honorable member’s speech covered five or six columns, and was headed with the word “Advertisement,” showing that it was paid for, and that it was to go forth to the people of Australia as his fully considered utterance. The honorable member complained about the small work done in regard to the rectification of Tariff anomalies by the Fisher Government, and he repeated the statement of the present Prime Minister that there was to be a “ prompt rectification of anomalies.”
After the first rectification of Tariff anomalies by the Fisher Government, the previous Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Yarra, in order to obtain evidence in connexion with further anomalies, issued question sheets to manufacturers, and this investigation was proceeding when the Minister went out of office, but the need for the rectification of anomalies was so urgent, as shown by the investigations being made, that the then Prime Minister told the country that even if the electors did not amend the Constitution to enable the new Protection idea to be carried out, the Labour Government would still go on with the question of the Tariff. The result of the investigations instituted by the previous Minister of Trade and Customs were in the possession of the present Government immediately they came into office, and have been in their possession for twelve months. Will the present Minister say that the information derived does not reveal the fact that there are anomalies in regard to the Tariff? He knows perfectly well that it does. At any rate, if there were no anomalies to be rectified immediately, why did the present Prime Minister and the present Minister of Trade and Customs both refer to the need for the immediate rectification of anomalies even without waiting for the report of the Inter-State Commission?
– Why did you not deal with them in the previous three years?
– The Labour Government dealt with a considerable number of anomalies, but as the honorable member was out in the wilds of Australia, where there were no newspapers to read, apparently he does not know this, or know that the Tariff had been even mentioned in the House. But the honorable member has come here for the purpose of preventing the Tariff being dealt with. He won his seat on the statement that he would prevent any further protection being given to Australian industries.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member admits that he was returned to Parliament for this express purpose.
– Quite right.
– If a few more honorable members opposite would confess this-
– One is enough.
– Yes, one is enough, but we know there are other members on the Government side who are in the same position. What was, during the last campaign, the attitude in New South Wales of those supporting the present Government? Sir Joseph Carruthers, who stumped the country in their favour, is reported in the Daily Telegraph of the 6th May last year, to have said -
I have always held, and still hold, that there is nothing which so rapidly makes for’ extreme wealth on the one hand, and extreme poverty on the other, than high tariffs.
Mr. Wade is reported, on the 10th of May last year, to have said -
My remedy for trusts is to take away the Tariff duties on articles affected by trusts.
The honorable member for Parkes in a signed letter appearing in the Daily Telegraph on 23rd April, 1913, said -
Both the Free Traders and Protectionists have, whilst preserving their respective convictions, mutually agreed to allow the Tariff to stand “as it is.” ; to make no material alteration either in the direction of increasing or decreasing its incidence.
The honorable member always speaks his convictions fearlessly, and it is quite evident that the arrangement honorable members opposite have come to was correctly stated by him. The Daily Telegraph on the 8th April, 1913, in referring to the policy speech made by the ex-Prime Minister, said -
And what he says now is that the Tariff Labour will propose, if returned to power, is one that will cover the difference between wages paid in Australia and elsewhere. A venerable and mendacious old argument, this.
The present Australian Tariff seems to be reasonably protective, and to express the fiscal opinion of a majority of the people. That being so, no necessity suggests itself to the Liberal Party for meddling with it one way or the other, except to remedy proved anomalies.
The present Government, in submitting their programme to Parliament last year, made the following statement in regard to the Tariff:-
The Inter-State Commission has already been appointed, and, in addition to fulfilling its constitutional duties, it will supervise and report to Parliament with respect to industrial production and commercial exchange. It will also inquire into the working of the Tariff and its operation and effect upon the investment of capital, and the employment of labour in Australian industries. It will make recommendations from time to time for the adjustment and revision of the Tariff, due regard being had to the interests of all sections of the community. In the meantime any anomalies discovered in the existing Tariff will be dealt with. “In the meantime.” According to the actions of the Government, the phrase “ in the meantime “ does not mean “ inside twelve months.”
– It does not mean “ in our time.”
– It certainly does not, and now the Government come down with two paltry Bills in order to seek some party advantage by striving to get a double dissolution before the Tariff is dealt with. Thus they show that they have no intention of dealing withthe Tariff during this Parliament.
The words in the policy statement - the Inter-State Commission “will make recommendations from time to time for the adjustment and revision of the Tariff, due regard being had to the interests of all sections of the community “ - are an evasion. Is it the business of the Inter-State Commission to have regard to all sections of the community ? It all depends upon which way we look at the question. Mr. Piddington, the Chairman of the Inter-State Commission, may look at it from what he calls the stand-point of the rural consumers, and come to the conclusion, as he has done previously, that the interests of such consumers are best conserved by a policy of Free Trade. If so, we shall have no recommendation from him in the direction of giving further assistance to Australian industries. I say this is a matter that ought to be left to the Government, and to this House. Members of this House represent various sections of the community, and it is their duty to protect those sections. In my opinion the Tariff issue is not the true business of the Inter-State Commission.
It was stated in the House the other day that everybody was satisfied with what the Government are doing. I have here a report of the annual meeting of the Western Australian Chamber of Manufactures, held in Perth in August last, and reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 30th August, 1913 -
At the Chamber of Manufactures annual meeting the presidential report stated that the attention of the Minister for Customs had been called to a Fremantle firm importing a quantity of furniture, comprising several thousand pieces, from China. The Minister had promised the matter would be considered in the Federal Parliament.
It has never been considered by the Federal Parliament. This was a matter of urgency brought under the Minister’s notice by the manufacturers of Western Australia through their organization, and a complaint was made that furniture was being imported from China, to the detriment of local citizens interested in the industry. Yet, in spite of the Minister’s promise, the matter has never been brought before Parliament. The report continues -
Mr. Keyser, a member of the Sydney Chamber, exhorted West Australian manufacturers to hold fast to the prospective plank, and expressed the opinion that in the InterState Commission the dominating note of personnel was Free Trade, though Mr. Lockyer was certainly a Protectionist.
It is evident’, therefore, that the manufacturers of Western Australia were dissatisfied some seven or eight months ago with the attitude of the Government on the Tariff question.
So far as I am concerned, there are two directions in which the Tariff requires to be amended. Firstly, to deal with anomalies, and to more substantially protect Australian industries ; and, secondly, to repeal those duties which are purely revenue-producing. By the first reform we would encourage Australian manufactures, and provide more work for our people; and, by the second, we should remove the load which the majority of the people are now bearing, because of the taxes being raised upon necessaries of life which are not produced in Australia.
– Which are not being produced in Australia - you should make that! clear.
– Yes. I emphasize that point, “ Which are not being produced in Australia.” The Prime Minister, in the speech to which I referred, said, under the heading of “ Cost of Living “-
I should add, further, that since becoming the responsible leader of the party I have been inundated with appeals from all sorts of people as to what I propose to do to bring down the cost of living, and, at the same time, intimating that, in their opinion, the present high cost of living is the direct and sole result of the present Tariff. I do not hesitate to say, without discussing the subject fully, that I am hopeful an expert investigation of the Tariff may lead to a substantial reduction in the purely revenue duties of the present Tariff schedule.
Surely, without any investigation by the Inter-State Commission, or any one else, every honorable member knows perfectly well that there are a number of duties which are revenue-producing only, and, as I pointed out in a speech delivered’ by me in this House last year, the Government could bring down a Bill any day in the week to wipe out those purely revenueproducing duties, and help to reduce the cost of living, without requiring any investigation by any outside body at all, tlie particular items being perfectly well known to both Ministers and private members. But not a finger has been raised by the present Government to carry out that promise to the people.
As a matter of fact, that was one of the important statements made by Ministers of the present Government throughout New South Wales when they were appealing to the electors. I have in my hand an official pamphlet issued by the Liberal party in New South Wales, and printed with the authority of Archdale Parkhill, General Secretary of the Liberal organization in that State, asking the people to vote for the Liberal Senate candidatesSir A. J. Gould, E. D. Millen, and C. W. Oakes- “ to bring about low rents and cheaper living;” and, in the electorate which the honorable member for Lang represents, there were placards all over his electorate, “ Vote for W. E. Johnson, and reduce the cost of living.” That followed upon the statement of the Prime Minister that the revenue producing duties should be wiped out, and a burden taken off the backs of the people, so far as concerns revenue raised from the necessaries of life not produced in Australia. Yet nothing has .been done, and I venture to say that the Go vernment have no intention of doing anything.
Instead of grappling with the Tariff issue the Government declared their intention to try to get a double dissolution by introducing two Bills that do not deal with the business of the country in any way, but are intended simply to bring about a deadlock in the legislative halls of the Commonwealth. I am reminded by the honorable member for Kennedy that the Treasurer, hinted, if he did not actually say, that it was the intention of the Government to bring before the House a proposal for additional revenue duties; indeed, that is the only deduction to be drawn from the business paper.
What is meant by the proposal that the House shall to-day go into Committee of Ways and Means, and Committee of Supply to find means of raising revenue? We know perfectly well’ that the Government obtained supply which was to last them from June last until next June, if not into the middle of July, and yet now, at the beginning of May, we have a proposal that the House shall go into Committee of Supply, and the probabilities are that those additional revenue duties, which were more than hinted at by the Treasurer the other day, will be brought forward.
– Do you think the amendments should go “to private people first?
– The honorable member for Werriwa came into this House as a Free Trader.
– I am still a Free Trader.
– The honorable member says he is still a Free Trader, and here we have an additional reason why the Government should shelve the Tariff issue. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Werriwa, knows perfectly well, as an old parliamentarian, what must be the effect, in the present state of parties, of a declaration by him that he is a Free Trader, and is going to fight this matter out if it comes before the House.
– That shows that we are free, while the Labour party are bound by caucus.
– It is because honorable members opposite are free to turn their own Government out of office that we find the latter going back on the pledges which Ministers gave the people at the last Federal election. It is because the supporters of the present Government are a party of shreds and patches - because they have no common binding policy save their hatred of, and opposition to, the Labour movement - that they cannot come together on this or any other great question of public importance. That is why the Government have shelved the question. They do not propose to deal with it during the life of the present Parliament, since they have said that they intend to send both Houses of Parliament to the country as soon as possible.
In conclusion, I venture to say that a majority of the honorable members of this House, regardless of party, desire that the Tariff shall be dealt with. I cannot debate this matter as I should like to, inasmuch as under the Standing Orders I am not permitted to speak for more than half-an-hour, and I shall be compelled, probably, to take another opportunity to refer to it. I have a sheaf of correspondence from manufacturers in my own electorate relative to the Tariff, but I have not time to quote them to-day. Some of the matters covered by this correspondence were represented to me as being very urgent immediately upon the assembling of this Parliament nearly twelve months ago, but for the reason I have just mentioned I cannot go into details affecting my own electorate in particular and Australia generally. I take this opportunity, however, to let my constituents know that I am no party to the stand taken up by the Government on this question, and that I have availed myself of every means within my power to induce the Government to carry out the pledges which they made to the people in this regard. Ministers calmly tell the House that the whole matter has been handed over to the InterState Commission. That body, according to them, is to be the guardian of all the interests of the community in respect of the Tariff, and we are to act upon its report without having more than a summary of the evidence upon which its conclusions are founded. There is no indication as to when the Tariff will be dealt with, and the Inter-State Commission has not been asked to report within any specified time. The action of the Ministry in pushing on with certain other business shows that they have no intention of dealing with the Tariff during the life of this Parliament, and, in these circumstances, the words of the motion which I have submitted literally express the proposition that the Government . have placed the House in an intolerable position in regard to the Tariff question.
.- I am surprised that the Minister of Trade and Customs has not seen fit to rise at once and give the House some definite indication of what the Ministry intend to do with regard to the great question of the Tariff. The replies which Ministers have given to questions on this subject are somewhat equivocal. We do not know exactly where they stand, but some of us have arrived at what we believe to be a reasonable conclusion as to their attitude. The interjections made a few moments ago by the honorable member for Calare and the honorable member for Werriwa clearly show the influences to which the Government are subjected when they and their supporters meet in caucus. The honorable member for Calare was returned to this House for the express purpose of opposing any revision of the Tariff in the direction of granting further protection to the industries of Australia. A large proportion of the supporters “of the Government belong to the old Free Trade party which we had thought to be absolutely dead.
– Would the honorable member increase the duties ?
– In some cases I would considerably increase them. I am anxious that we should have a scientific revision of the Tariff. I would point out to the Free Traders on the Government side of the House - and they seem to preponderate - that prior to Federation New South Wales was regarded as a Free Trade State, and that any income which it obtained through the Customs Department came principally from revenue duties. I can see the old New South Wales influence operating in this House to-day.
– Pardon me.
– I am not referring to the honorable member, for I regard him as a brilliant exponent of the Protectionist policy. Although he has lived in the midst of Free Traders in Sydney for forty years, he has remained a strong Protectionist, and he is also one of the most loyal members of the Labour party. Prior to Federation, as I was pointing out when interrupted, New South Wales was regarded as a Free Trade State, and many of her industries were in a very backward condition. But what has happened since the passing of the Federal Tariff ? From 1891 until the inauguration of Federation the progress made by the manufactories of New South Wales was very small, but since the passing of the Commonwealth Tariff, which gave a certain measure of protection, the industries of New South Wales have advanced by leaps and bounds. In 1891 the value of manufacturing plant in New South Wales was £4,000,000; in 1912 it was £14,000,000. The factories of that State, in 1891, numbered 3,056, with 43,000 employes, as against 5,162 factories and 90,000 employes in 1912. Then, again, the wages increased there from £4,272,000 in 1891 to £11,600,000 in 1912. The output of New South Wales factories was valued at £16,500,000 in 1891, whereas in 1912 it wasvalued at £61,163,000. The added value in the course of manufacture in 1891 was £8,000,000, whereas in 1912 it had increased to £22,000,000. In one year alone there was an increase of £7,000,000 in the value of the output of her manufactories. I quote these figures to show that even with a mongrel Tariff great advances have been made. With a scientific Tariff the advance would have been far more pronounced, and if we had a scientific Tariff now New South Wales, in common with all the other States, would benefit very considerably.
– The cost of living has gone up 35 per cent.
– The honorable member would delight to obtain from China and Japan everything that he wears and uses in his household. Does the honorable member consider that we should patronize manufacturers who pay their workmen only 9d. a day? The logical effect of his argument would be thai we should buy our goods where they can be obtained most cheaply. That would mean putting the Australian workman into competition with Chinese workmen receiving only 6d., 8d., and 9d. a day.
– His god is cheapness.
– In that case he must get his goods from the low-grade nations, whose workmen receive such awful wages.
– Protection does not prevent competition; it merely transfers it from one man’s shoulders to another’s.
– That argument has been disproved long ago. If the honorable member could guarantee to me the same social, economic, and industrial conditions throughout the world, I would vote for Free Trade. But, knowing the degraded state of the labour of many of the countries with which the artisans employed in Australian industries have to compete, I cannot understand a true Australian agitating for Free Trade. I believe in Australian goods for Australian people. If ever there was a country which should be self-contained, that country is Australia. We have practically every climate, and can produce almost everything. Why, then, should we not impose sufficient protection to encourage the development of all the resources of this wonderful country? The honorable membet for Cook spoke of a pledge made by the Labour party at the last election. That pledge was discounted by our opponents, and particularly by the press, though one of the chief newspapers in the Commonwealth, in a leading article published on the 1st April, 1913 - a very significant date - said, “ Whatever happens, the Labour party now stands irretrievably pledged to serve the cause of effective protection.” That was the comment on” the policy speech of the honorable member for Wide Bay, delivered at the end of March. Unfortunately this journal did not support protectionists during the electoral campaign; it criticised severely many of us who claimed tobe staunch protectionists then, and who had been so before that time. We were blamed for our negligence in Tariff matters during the three years preceding the election.
– The Labour party spoke on the fiscal question with so many different voices that’ no one knew which to accept.
– The policy speech to which I refer expressed the sentiments of the bulk if not of all the members of the Labour party in Australia. The following figures, taken from bulletins issued by the Commonwealth Statistician in February last, show the extent of our importations. The figures are for 1913, and are arranged in accordance with the classification followed by the Statistician. They are these -
It is a great waste of wages to send so much money away to purchase goods in other countries. Probably £35,000,000 or £40,000,000 worth of the goods imported could be manufactured in Australia, and this would give employment to thousands of men. I cannot conceive how it is that, in these latter days, any Free Traders remain. Unfortunately, Free Traders predominate in the Liberal Caucus, and have assisted the Ministry to place the responsibility of Tariff revision oh the Inter-State Commissioners. I, along with the honorable member for Cook, and others, have uttered my protest against what is being done. At the present rate of progress I do not know whether the Commission will make any recommendations to Parliament during this generation.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has the matter under observation.
– He has too many matters under observation. I hope that the country has him under observation, and notes his apathy.
– What does the honorable member for Echuca think of this?
– He has no fiscal faith.
– The honorable member must answer for his own faith.
– Of the present Ministers, the Minister of Defence, the Honorary Minister, Senator Clemons, the Minister of External Affairs, the Prime Minister, and the Honorary Minister, Mr.
Kelly, are all Free Traders. The AttorneyGeneral has said, “ I believe in effective Protection,” which, from what I can gather, means simply revenue duties.
– This Ministry is much like the last.
– The honorable member for Indi will have to account for the sins of this Government, which will be reckoned against him. The action of the honorable member for Cook this afternoon shows that the Tariff is not a Victorian, but an Australian concern.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am in full agreement with the honorable member for Maribyrnong that we require a scientific Tariff, if it were possible, not one such as we have; but the honorable member went on to say that Parliament, which knows nothing about industrial matters, should deal with Tariff revision. Whatever may be said of the Inter-State Commission, its recommendations will place before us evidence such as Parliament has not had to guide it during any previous consideration of the Tariff.
– That statement is an insult to the Tariff Commission.
– I was not a member of the House when the Tariff was dealt with after the Tariff Commission had reported, but I am of the opinion that members did not vote then in accordance with the facts presented by the Commission. On the contrary, they voted at the dictation, or, rather, I will say in accordance with the desires, of combines, trusts, and corporations. Knowing the obstinacy of some honorable members, probably these combinations treated them as one treats a pig; that is, they pretended to try to drive them in the direction opposite from that in which they wanted them to go. Twelve years ago I pointed out in this chamber that what was being done would create a nail trust, and I have had the pleasure of seeing that prophecy fulfilled.
– It is a selfish gratification.
– It is a pleasure sometimes to have proof that you were able to accurately perceive the ultimate effects of legislation. Some members of the Labour party were as clear and distinct in their pronouncements as to what would happen if certain duties were imposed as I was; all credit to them for it. I hope that the leavening influence of their intelligence has spread through the party, and that when the Tariff comes to be again considered, there will be a more intelligent discussion than we have had hitherto. The honorable member for Maribyrnong seems to think that Protection ends competition, whereas it merely transfers it from the shoulders of one man to the shoulders of another. Our primary producers have to send their produce - meat, hides, tallow, wool, wheat, butter, fruit, and rabbits - to the other side of the world, to sell it there against the competition of all other countries, and to pay freight on its transport. But when they come to buy agricultural machinery, the local manufacturers say, “We cannot meet the competition of the world, although we have no freight to pay.” Protection merely transfers competition from the shoulders of the man who ought to bear it to the shoulders of the man who is already competing, in the markets of the world; in other words, it makes the farmer bear two competitions instead of one; and that is neither reasonable nor fair. It is quite true that we may in this way build up the city at the expense of the country; but it certainly is not the way to increase the production of wealth. By so much as the Tariff may be necessary to encourage the production of particular articles, and by so much as the article produced fails to be of the value it would be in other countries, are we lessening the value of our natural production, and diminishing the amount of wages that can be paid to the workers. If all the farmers and others engaged in the agricultural industry were bound together in one union, they would begin to recognise that they were called upon to bear two competitions; and it is only right that the burdens of life should be equally distributed. Each burden is in itself heavy enough, and no double load should be heaped on any single individual. Let all share the burdens, and let each gain, as far as possible, the profits of his work and industry. If the Labour party depart from that doctrine they will only heap up further burdens on the masses of the people.
– The honorable member must recognise that Sydney has gone ahead since Protection was inaugurated.
– Largely at the expense of the primary industry.
– Does the honorable member mean the wool industry ?
-I mean agriculture. If it had not been for the remarkable progress of agriculture there would not have been the development of machinery we have seen. For the past four or five years we have had the largest imports and exports, and the greatest increase in wages, and we know that the general prosperity increases with the imports. If we wipe out the imports and exports we wipe out the prosperity of three-fourths of the people. After all, there is nothing wonderful about trade, which people only carry on for their own advantage, and Parliament has no right to interfere in favour of any class. If any help be extended let it be to those who desire to get the full results of their work. Do not bind the people down in such a way that they must buy from any capitalist who puts his money into some concern. I have nothing to say against capital, because the great want of the country is capital; and I wish I could give a large portion to everybody in the community.
– I should like the honorable member to show us how the people are to get the full results of their labour.
– That is . one of the problems that every one of us would like to understand. While a man may not get the full product of his labour, we ought to see that, under no circumstances, is any of that produce taken away from him. When taxes are imposed by the Tariff, or otherwise, we surely do not think that there is a philanthropic body of men willing to pay £16,000,000 a year through the Customs House for the benefit of the workers ! If there ‘ were such a body of men, they would be deserving of the highest praise. One moment some Protectionists pretend that it is the importer who pays the duty, and the next moment they have to admit that the duty is passed on with an additional charge for the advance of the money. I regret that the Australian Labour party should absolutely act in opposition to the Labour party of any other country in the world. Elsewhere Labour ‘ representatives fight to keep taxes off the people, but in Australia the Labour party, while amusing themselves by talking against trusts and combines, vote as those trusts and combines dictate, and thus heap up the public burdens.. It is fortunate, indeed, that there has been such an increase in the value of our great natural productions, “because otherwise the burden of taxation would have become most severe. It is said that this Parliament has done nothing; but, at any rate, the Government have prevented the increase of burdens, and this is the first Parliament for many years that has sat without doing a considerable amount ‘ of harm. The Government and their supporters have not been numerous enough to effect good sound legislation, but we have put some check on the foolish, insensate, nonsensical legislation which is said to be against the interests of wealth, but which increases the earnings of the wealthy by one and a half fold.
– Is the honorable member going to take any notice of the report of the Inter-State Commission ?
– I shall be ready to read the report of the Inter-State Commission, but whether I shall find myself bound by it is another matter. It is the evidence that I have to consider, and which will guide me in coming to a decision. As I read events in this and every other country, they show that, when Tariffs meddle or interfere, they increase the public burden, build up trusts, and in every way delay the advancement of the country.
– Is this the ‘ scientific Protection of which the honorable member is said to be in favour?
– All efforts at a scientific Tariff seem to have the result which followed the appointment of the Tariff Commission in the United States of America in 1881. Every member of that Commission was a Protectionist; but, after the evidence had been given, all had become Free Traders except one, and he was admittedly the stupid man of the party.
.- I indorse the action of the honorable member for Cook in bringing the Tariff question before the House. The sincerity of the honorable member has been questioned by honorable members opposite, who point out that the Labour’ party, during their three years in power, could have altered the Tariff in any direction they chose. At Gympie, in 1910, the
Leader of the Opposition stated that it was, the intention of the Labour. Government to submit certain questions by referendum, and that, if these questions were answered in the affirmative, immediate action would be taken to bring into operation the New Protection policy. Unfortunately for the manufacturing, labouring, and other interests of Australia, the referenda proposals were defeated. At the last general election, in 1913, the Leader of the Opposition, at Maryborough, distinctly stated that if his party were again returned, and even if the referenda proposals were defeated once more, the first business of the National Parliament would be the revision of the Tariff. That was the pledge made, and I am positive that it would have been honored if the Labour Government had been returned to power. Whether rural representatives opposite approve of the Prime Minister’s promises or not, the fact remains that that gentleman, as Leader of the Opposition, when placing the policy of his party before the country, pledged himself to Protection as definitely as did the Leader of the Opposition. Now, however, while the whole of the members on the Opposition side are prepared to support a revision of the Tariff, a majority of the Government supporters repudiate the promise made by their leader during the last campaign. What an inconsistent position is that of honorable members opposite I On the platform they tell the electors that they favour industrial legislation, that they are whole-hearted supporters of the Wages Board system, and that they are prepared to continue the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The object of all. this legislation is to compel manufacturers and employers to comply with certain conditions; and the policy of Australia to-day is to regulate the hours, wages, and so forth, of every man and woman employed in our industries. Some honorable members opposite go further, and claim that to the Liberal party belongs the credit for the initiation pf this class of legislation. However that may be, we are gradually creating here a standard of living which is superior Ho that in the older countries; and, in the majority of cases, the conditions are such as manufacturers elsewhere are not called upon to comply with. In Australia we have in operation a fortyeight hours’ week in the great majority of our manufacturing industries, and in many cases a forty-four hours’ week. I regret to say that there are some who are not enjoying the benefit of the form of legislation to which I have referred, but the majority of our people in Australia are enjoying industrial conditions that are superior to those operating in other parts of the world. Yet we find individuals who claim to be in favour of industrial legislation, and yet absolutely refuse to raise their voices or record their votes to give protection to the people engaged in our industries, and whose living depends on the prosperity or non-prosperity of those industries.
– What about collecting the money from other members of the community to make up the difference?
– Can the honorable member, who is a Free Trader, point to a single Free Trade country where the workers generally have a standard of living equal to that which exists in Australia to-day, and which has been brought about by Protection - such as it is - and the various forms of industrial legislation in operation? If a public man says that he favours industrial legislation in order to protect the workers, and compel the manufacturers to comply with certain conditions, and yet, on the other hand, advocates a system that allows the products of the sweated labour of other countries to come into Australia and compete in the open with the products of our own workers made under the industrial conditions prevailing here, he is inconsistent. Yet that is the attitude of the honorable member for Werriwa and others who hold the same views. There is a growing feeling in parts of some rural districts in favour of a system of Free Trade. This is due to the fact that a number of people like the honorable member for Werriwa are going through the country preaching a false gospel, false so far as the interests of Australia are concerned. In years gone by, when the prosperity of their industry depended on home markets, the farmers were not in favour of Free Frade, but now that the people of Australia generally have been taxed to give them improved facilities in order to get their produce to the markets of the older countries of the world, they favour it.
– Have not the farmers paid for those facilities?
– Every section of the community was taxed for the purpose of assisting the farmer to get his produce to the markets of the older countries. This false doctrine of Free Trade is being preached throughout the rural districts by a coterie of Little Australians. The Labour party recognise how important the prosperity of the rural industry is to the community, but those who take a broad view must recognise that in regard to the general prosperity of the community, the manufacturing industry is just as important as the rural industry, and that each is dependent on the other.
– A large proportion of farmers are capable of taking a broad national view in respect to a policy of Protection.
– I admit it; they recognise that those engaged in the manufacturing industry need protection against the cheap competition of the outside world; and though there are many men sitting behind the Government who preach Free Trade, there are others who go before the electors and proclaim themselves Protectionists, but yet, when the opportunity comes for carrying out their pledges, are found wanting, and are prepared to shelve the question of Protection altogether.
– Where are the Ministers?
– Though you block the business of legislation, administration must go on.
– The Ministry say that they cannot get on with the business of the country as parties are at present situated. Had a Bill for the revision of the Tariff been brought before the House - and considering the position of the parties, it would have been an excellent move on the part of the Government - every member of the Opposition would have given it his wholehearted support, and recorded votes in the interests of the manufacturing industries of Australia and the people employed in them. It is the only consistent and logical attitude to assume in conjunction with that honorable members adopt in regard to industrial legislation.
– Why did not the Labour Government introduce a Bill ?
– The ex-Prime Minister gave the pledge that if certain proposals in the referenda were carried, the question of Protection would be brought before Parliament, and it was because the referenda proposals were not carried that the promise was not carried into opera- tion to its fullest extent. Even though a Bill for the revision of the Tariff was not introduced, certain anomalies were rectified, though not to the extent they deserved ; but even if the Labour Ministry did not take up a great deal of their time in dealing with the rectification of anomalies in the Tariff, there were such important measures as the Navigation Bill, the Land Tax Bill, and Bills dealing with other matters passed during their term of office.
.- I am sorry Ministers do not regard this matter in an important light. The Minister of Trade and Customs interjected a moment ago that we were endeavouring to block business. I shall no doubt be charged by a certain section with obstructing business. I cannot conceive of a more interesting, or more important, matter this Parliament might occupy its time with than the question of the need for further Protection in the Commonwealth of Australia. We had to-day an invitation from the honorable member for Maribyrnong to the Prime Minister to do something to find employment for the unemployed. Why is the number of unemployed growing ? It is because we are bringing into Australia every year over £70,000,000 worth of goods, many million pounds’ worth of which could be made by Australians getting the Australian standard rate of wages and working under the Australian standard of conditions. I look at the imports. I do not bother so much about the Inter-State Commission or their reports. If goods are coming into Australia in large quantities it is very evident to me’ that Australia needs more Protection. But what do the Ministry care about Protection? The honorable member for Cook has shown us what certain members of the Liberal party think of the question. I. wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs what he has to say in reply to our challenge that his view regarding the Tariff question is wrong, when he says that it would not be right to interfere with the Inter-State Commission? The honorable member for Cook has pointed out that last year the Ministry promised to rectify anomalies when they were discovered, and that they intimated there were certain anomalies which might be dealt with. Why are they not dealing with them ? Why, instead, are they forcing through the House certain legis lation which, in regard to its incidence, has nothing to do with the welfare of the people of Australia ? What is the reply the Ministry make to the very strong indictment of the honorable member for Cook ? They put up the honorable member for Werriwa. He is the gentleman put up by the Liberal party to reply to the challenge which has been uttered by Protectionist members of the Opposition. I expect that the Ministry will next put up the honorable member for Parkes, who is a Free Trader, and the honorable member for Franklin, another Free Trader, and the honorable member for North Sydney, or the honorable member for Calare, both Free Traders. Thenthere is another semi-Free Trader, the right honorable member for Swan. Where is the knight of the Crown of Italy that he does not say something as to the immediate necessity of an amendment of the Tariff ?
– Is the Treasurer in order in prompting the honorable member for Werriwa with questions and interjections ?
– Order !
– The statement of thehonorable member for Gwydir is quite incorrect.
– There are too many Free Traders on the Government benches to admit of our getting any relief from the present Government. The honorable member for North Sydney would reduce the duties if he had the opportunity. We haveheard from the Prime Minister that he is in favour of maintaining the Tariff as it was decided by the majority of the people of the Commonwealth at the election of 1906, when Australia voted largely Protectionist. It will be remembered that Sir George Reid raised the Free Trade banner, and was beaten, and it was generally recognised that Australia wasProtectionist. Honorable members of the Labour party said that they were prepared to maintain the policy decided” upon that election. But that did not prevent the Prime Minister and other FreeTraders coming into the House and doingtheir level best to reduce the duties proposed in 1907. They did not considerthat they had a mandate to vote for Protection. On every occasion they will” vote to reduce the protective duties. Today I asked the Prime Minister whether- he had not stated that the present Government had taken fiscalism out of the hands of a Parliament that was not competent to deal with it, and put it into the hands of men who were able to apply business treatment to the Tariff. The Prime . Minister replied- that those words were not his utterance, and, in an irritated manner, said that the question ought to be put on the business-paper. I do not want to do the Prime Minister an injustice, and charge him with having said things he did not say, but that statement was published in the Melbourne Age on the 12th May as having been uttered by the Prime Minister at the opening of an eight-storied factory, covering a space of over 2 acres - an establishment being erected by David Jones and Company, of Sydney, for the carrying on of a number of industries, including the manufacture of underclothing, tea-gowns, and boys’ clothes, ticket-writing, laundering, &c, all being the result of Protection. The Prime Minister said that he had not used the words which I said were attributed to him in the report.
– I did not say I did not utter them.
– At this interesting function, the opening of a modern factory, the Prime Minister proposed success to the factory, and, according to the report in the Sydney Morning Herald, an interjection from Mr. Griffith on the subject of Protection prompted the Prime Minister to reply -
I do not know whether it is safe to talk unadulterated fiscalism, but for the first time this Government has put the fiscal question out of the hands of Parliament, which is not competent to deal with it, and into the hands of men who have no axe to grind, and no object in life but to apply business treatment to the Tariff, and recommend to Parliament the results of their independent investigations. (Applause.)
– That is a condensed report of a speech that would have occupied one and a half columns.
– The reporter took the trouble to report the Prime Minister in the first person. In the honorable member’s remarks are two charges: Firstly, that this Parliament is not competent to deal with the Tariff, although we have dealt with it on all occasions, and another charge is that honorable members in this House have axes to grind.
– I say that the discussion to-day has proved that statement up to the hilt.
– Let the honorable member rise and reply to the indictment from this side of the House, and explain why the Government will not deal with the Tariff issue.
– Why has the Leader of the Opposition nothing to say on this question ? Why is he dumb ?
Opposition Members. - Why are you dumb ? He is waiting for you to speak.
– It is rather interesting to find this sudden enthusiasm on the part of honorable members opposite in the cause of Protection. It is rather interesting to remember, too,’ the fact that this Parliament has been nine or ten months in existence, and honorable members opposite have never said a word about Protection up to the present moment.
– That is not correct.
– They have hardly mentioned the subject. Their politics seem to come out in spasms. They seem to seek a time when it is a good move to raise a political war-cry, and without any regard to past records, past opportunities, or past professions, they rush headlong with the cry, “ Why do not the Government do something with the Tariff?”
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– How beautifully honorable members echo it - like a lot of phonographs. That cry comes beautifully from ‘a body of men who, for three years, could have done anything they liked with the Tariff, because they had a majority in both Houses, and they had not a body of men opposed to them who were determined to do all they could to block legislation of any kind. Of course, I am not suggesting that honorable members opposite will take such a course.
– Why not deal with the issue on its merits?
– For three years the. honorable members, who are now thirsting to have the industries of Australia put on a proper footing, refused to do anything except to amend a few anomalies in the Tariff. All of a sudden they have awakened to the fact that they must raise some cry against the Government.
– We moved, a motion of censure on this question last year.
– On this only?
– I am afraid the honorable member’s memory is failing, because no vote of censure was moved on the Tariff issue alone. As an instance of the extremes to which honorable members will go in their inaccuracies, the honorable member for Fawkner stated that a majority of the Government supporters had now repudiated a pledge they had given. Can the honorable member name a single member on this side of the House who, by any word of mouth, has repudiated any pledge to the people?
– Name him; who is he?
– The honorable members for Calare and Werriwa.
– And the Minister of Customs.
– It is not fair controversy for honorable members to throw phrases like that about. They must know that such statements are inaccurate when they make them. And they make them vague so that they hit no one directly, and there can be no refutation of them. That is,just an illustration of the method of fighting adopted by honorable members opposite. They make vague charges, so that there may be no necessity to prove them.
– We have named you already.
– Will the honorable member give me one instance? I defy the honorable member to produce any remark of mine which supports the charge he has made. He knows that he cannot do it.
– For twelve months you refused to do anything.
– The honorable member for Cook is another who makes charges without anything to support them. The position of the Government has been clearly stated, and they are carrying out the policy that they announced. We announced plainly that, so far as we were concerned, we stood by our Tariff policy* and we have, by neither word nor deed, gone back on the promises we made. We further stated that it was our intention to appoint a Commission to investi gate the industries of Australia. We constituted the Inter-State Commission at the earliest possible date, and we set the Commission to work. Honorable members opposite seem to think that we ought to amend the Tariff without considering the interests of all parts of Australia; that only one part of Australia should be considered. I say that the whole of Australia is interested in Tariff reform. When we are framing a national Tariff we must act upon’ national lines. What I stated in this House before was distinctly this, that we have a Commission talcing evidence on important industries. The Commission has taken evidence in Victoria, and has had a short sitting of a week in Tasmania. It is the intention of the Commissioners to take evidence in other cities, and as soon as the Tariff Commission presents any report the Government will be prepared to decide as a matter of policy what action shall be taken. There will be no delay in this matter.
– A clever method of shirking the Government’s responsibility.
– The honorable member’s idea seems to be to amend the Tariff without inquiry. The Government have announced all along, and members on both sides of the House know, that to legislate without knowledge leads to injustices in the Tariff and to anomalies which often confound the policy which it is intended to carry out. It was announced some time ago that so far as the Government were concerned, in legislating upon Tariff matters, we desired to legislate with knowledge, and the InterState Commission as now constituted will collect information, and it will enable the House to legislate in a way that will make it possible for us to give proper assistance to the industries of Australia. An allegation was made by the honorable member for Cook in moving his motion that we intended to wait till the evidence in the industries in all the States was taken.
– That is what you said.
– I did not say that.
– You did.
– I said the reverse of that. I said that the Government were prepared to take action immediately the reports were received from the InterState Commission,’ and I repeat it. The honorable member for Yarra asked me on Friday, “Does that answer mean that no Tariff matter will be dealt with until the Inter-State Commission has taken evidence in every State of the Commonwealth?” and my reply was, “Certainly not.”
– But what did you say just before that?
– That is my answer as reported in Hansard, and no misrepresentation is going to alter the fact. I intend to make an announcement of my intentions. Of course, if the honorable member misunderstood me-
– That is the way the Government twist.
– There is no twisting; the honorable member is an expert in that.
Several honorable members having interjected,
– May I call your attention, sir, to the constant interruptions on the part of honorable members opposite ?
– My attention having been directed to the constant interruption, I must ask honorable members to cease interrupting, and to allow the honorable member who is addressing the Chair to have full advantage of the time that is allotted to him.
– My answer is contained in Hansard, and if the honorable member for Cook does not care to accept that he can do the other thing. The Government have announced their intention of taking action in regard to the Tariff as soon as the Inter-State Commission’s reports are presented, and we are in a position to take such action. The statement which has been made by honorable members opposite is entirely without foundation, as is usual. It is a peculiar thing that honorable members . opposite are all running away from the Inter-State Commission at the present moment. What are they afraid of ? They passed the Act which enabled the Inter-State Commission to be appointed, and, now that we have appointed the Commission, they are afraid of it.
– I always objected to the appointment of the Commission.
– The honorable member is honest in that statement; but the
Labour Government introduced the Bill which provided for the appointment of the Inter-State Commission, and now that we have appointed it - now that the members of the Commission are making a judicial inquiry so that Parliament may be able to act with knowledge - we find the members of that party running away from it, and trying to raise political clap-trap cries.
– Why not obtain progress reports?
– We shall receive reports from the Commission as they are ready. It was invited by this Government to deal at first with urgent matters - with all industries needing urgent attention; but, as a matter of fact, not one industry has applied to the Commission to deal with a Tariff question on the grounds of urgency. While the Commission is judicially investigating these Tariff questions, and doing its duty in that way, we shall not interfere with it in the exercise of its duty. What would be said if, before it had completed its inquiry on some Tariff question, we took the whole matter out of its hands, and proceeded to deal with it? If the Commission had taken evidence only in Queensland with regard to some great industry common to Australia, what an outcry there would be in Victoria if we proceeded at that stage to deal with the question. Would not manufacturers in this State say, “ Why, you have not even allowed us to give evidence before the Commission?” It is our duty to hold the balance evenly between all the States. If any one in any part of Australia desires to give evidence with respect to an industry, surely the right to give that evidence is not to be denied. Honorable members opposite appear to think that it should be, and there are people in this State who seem to imagine that the fact that evidence has been given here with regard to a Tariff question should be sufficient to conclude the whole matter. The attitude of the Government is that the Inter-State Commission shall proceed to deal with the matters placed before it in the exercise of its own discretion, and that its reports, when presented, will be acted upon. In conclusion, I desire to refer to a statement that has been made with regard to the supply of a full report of the evidence taken before the Commission. Two or three honorable members have said that, because a verbatim report is not to be placed before Parliament, they consider that they will not be bound by its findings.. I would remind them that even if a full report were presented, they would not be bound by the findings of the Commission. Honorable members are not of necessity to accept its conclusions.
– There is no suggestion that we are.
– But some honorable members opposite have said,”If we do not get a verbatim report of all the evidence we shall not accept the conclusions of the Commission.” I would point out that the value of the reports will lie in the fact that they come from an independent body, acting in a judicial manner. The Commission is examining many witnesses; it is also taking a great deal of evidence in confidence, and it will be able to present to Parliament a well-weighed, wellconsidered report, which should enable us to act with knowledge instead of in ignorance. How many honorable members bothered to read the verbatim reports of the evidence that was taken by the Tariff Commission ? The reports of the evidence taken by that Commission covered thousands of pages, and cost the country a very large sum to print.
– The honorable member was a party to that expenditure.
– In so far as I was a member of this House, I was a party to it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish only to add that a summary of the evidence taken by the Commission will be available for the consideration of honorable members, and that it will supply the substance of the matters dealt with.
– There is yet five minutes during which we may discuss this motion, and I am afraid-
– Is the honorable gentleman going to waste time?
– Order !
– Do honorable members opposite desire, then, to adjourn the House?
– Let us have a vote.
– Is that what honorable members opposite want?
– We want a vote.
– Is the Leader of the Opposition in this little game?
– I am in favour of this motion.
– And the right honorable member desires that it shall go to a vote?
– I am glad to hear it.
– It is a vote of censure.
– Order! Honorable members must cease interjecting.
– I ask the Leader of the Opposition why he has not the courage to support this motion with his voice?
– I shall support it with my vote.
– Why sneak behind these members of your party?
– I put a policy before the country, and supported it.
– After deliberately blocking the same policy for three years.
– Is the Prime Minister in order, Mr. Speaker, in referring to the Leader of the Opposition as a sneak ?
– I did not understand the Prime Minister to say that the honorable member was a sneak. If the Prime Minister did so, he was not in order.
– I did not say it. Let the honorable member quote what I said, and I shall withdraw it if exception be taken to it.
– The Prime Minister asked why the Leader of the Opposition was sneaking behind his colleagues like a sneak.
– The Prime Minister has denied that he used the words alleged, and it is usual to accept an honorable member’s disclaimer.
– We cannot.
– Is it in order. Mr. Speaker, for an honorable member to make such imputations as the honorable the ex-Speaker is constantly making against ‘me ? He is constantly putting into my mouth words that I have not used.
– I rise to a further point of order.
– There is already a point of order before the Chair, but I do not know whether it is desired that I should regard it seriously. I can deal only with specific points as they arise, and cannot give a ruling on a mere generalization.
– I rise to a point of order.
– I will withdraw anything that I said. I wish to know from the Leader of the Opposition why he is going to support this motion, which, if carried, will dispossess the Government of their positions?
– That would be a pity.
– Whether that be so or not, it is not customary for the leader of a party to remain dumb while his followers do all the talking upon a motion so important as this undoubtedly is. The Leader of the Opposition shows a singular and absolutely entire want of courage in getting behind his followers. The right honorable member has, perhaps, already abdicated. Has he “gone under” to the new party?
– This is good sidetracking.
– The honorable member may well laugh. I congratulate him on the way that he is controlling the actions of the Opposition.
– The Prime Minister has admitted that the question is an important one.
– And it is because of its supreme importance that I decline to take part in this trifling with it in the National Parliament. Every one knows that there is not an atom of sincerity in these propositions.
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister has said that there is not an atom of sincerity in this proposition. I contend that that is a disorderly remark.
– I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the imputation.
– Am I supposed to withdraw everything?
– I was named for less than that.
-Order ! The time allotted to the discussion of motions under the Standing Orders has expired.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
Railway Travelling of Members - Dissent from Mr. Speaker’s Ruling.
The first Order of the Day (Government Preference Prohibition Bill)having been read by the Clerk,
– I desire to bring forward a question of privilege.
– I submit that the honorable member cannot do so now.
– I shall conclude with a motion. The question to which I propose to refer concerns the Prime Minister, amongst others, and relates to the treatment that is meted out to members of the Federal Parliament when travelling by rail in New South Wales.
– I submit that the honorable member cannot bring forward such a question at this stage.
– A question of privilege may arise at any time.
– No; a question of privilege must be a question suddenly arising.
– The question has arisen suddenly.
– Under the Standing Orders an honorable member may rise to speak upon a matter of privilege “ suddenly arising.” The question raised by the honorable member may be a matter of privilege, but it certainly does not appear to me to be a matter of privilege “ suddenly arising.”
– Had you waited, sir, a little longer you would have realized that this question has arisen very suddenly, and I am sure that if you had had meted out to you the treatment which I, with others, received last night you would agree that this is aquestion of privilege which has suddenly arisen. This is the first opportunity I have had to refer to it. Has the Prime Minister himself no regard for the dignity of his position? The honorable gentleman was taken out of a train by which he desired to travel expeditiously, and forced to take a seat in a slower train.
– I must rise to order in the interests of the transaction of public business. This form of interrupting public business must be put an end to by somebody at some time or other, . and I make an appeal to you, sir, in the interests of the transaction of the business of this House.
Several honorable members interjecting -
– Order ! I must insist that order shall be maintained, especially when a point of order is being raised. If honorable members will not permit me to hear what is being said, so that I may form a clear judgment upon the question raised, I shall have to take some other means of enforcing the authority of the Chair. Honorable members must be heard in silence.
– I feel that I should appeal, to you, Mr. Speaker, to put the Standing Orders into force. They preclude the possibility of any motion such as the honorable member wishes to move being brought forward now as a matter of urgency. It is clearly laid down in the Standing Orders that, at the expiration of two hours after the meeting of the House, the Orders of the Day must be called on, and a question of privilege cannot intervene in the manner proposed. Besides, the question raised is not one of privilege, and no one knows it better than those who are raising it. This is only another way of interrupting public business, and this sort of thing must cease.
– I take exception to the statement of the Prime Minister that an attempt is being made, not to raise a question of privilege, but to interrupt public business.
– The statement is quite true.
– It conveys an imputation which I ask shall be withdrawn.
– I call on the Prime Minister to withdraw anything which may be regarded as offensive by, or an imputation on, another honorable member.
– It has not been said that my remark is regarded as offensive. I should like to know whether I must withdraw anything and everything that honorable members opposite take exception to? If so, I shall be unable to utter a syllable.
– That is a reflection on Mr. Speaker.
– Not at all. I wish to know what the law of Parliament on the subject is. It is evident that honorable members opposite are merely using the proposed motion as a means of again interrupting public business and occupying the time of the House.
– Is that in order?
– The Prime Minister is not in order.
– Mr. Speaker–
-I am prepared, . without further assistance, to give my decision on the points that have been raised. It is laid down in the Standing Orders that the Speaker gives his ruling when a point of order is raised; and it is only when he is in doubt, or desires enlightenment, that discussion on the point raised is permitted, and its duration is entirely within the discretion of the Speaker. When the Speaker has stated that he is prepared to give a decision, it is not the practice to continue debating a point of order. In the first place, I point out to the Prime Minister that the Standing Orders require that objectionable statements concerning, or imputations affecting, honorable members must be withdrawn, and that it is the practice of Parliament to require the withdrawal of words considered personally offensive.
– The ability of honorable members opposite to say that they are being reflected on is unlimited; they could go on objecting all night. There must be some limit.
– It is not customary, nor is it permissible under the Standing Orders, or under the practice of Parliament, to traverse the Speaker’s ruling. The Speaker’s decision is final, unless objected to in a regular and formal way, as provided for by the Standing Orders. If honorable members, when exception is taken to any remark as offensive, would at once withdraw it at the request of the Speaker, a considerable amount of time would be saved, and proper parliamentary decorum would be preserved.
– The Prime Minis- .ter has not withdrawn what he said.
– I understood him to do so.
– I beg to withdraw once more.
– Having allowed the Prime Minister to intervene, I hope you will permit me, Mr. Speaker, to ask you to look at Standing order 111.
– That is not a point of order. I was about to quote to the House the standing order to which the honorable member desires to draw attention. It says -
An urgent Motion, directly concerning the privileges of the House, shall take precedence of other Motions, as well as of Orders of the Day.
I direct the attention of the House to the fact that this afternoon another motion was declared to be one of urgency, and was debated until half-past 4. The honorable member for Gwydir did not rise when that motion was called on, to move the motion which he now claims to be one of urgency, but which is not immediately connected with the business of the House. Standing order 284 declares that -
All Questions of Order and matters of Privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other Question.
Those’ are the Standing Orders that apply in this case. As to the urgency of the question which the honorable member for Gwydir wishes to discuss on a motion of privilege, I point out that nothing to which the matter relates has suddenly arisen. The honorable member himself allowed another motion to intervene which prevented a discussion of the matter to which he wishes to draw attention, although he was in the chamber before that motion was moved, and could have risen at any time in the interim since the House met, and I regard his action in doing so as practically an admission that the matter which he wishes to discuss is not one of urgency.
– Then we can have it to-morrow.
– “With regard to what constitutes privilege, May says that breaches of privilege may be divided into these classes -
The subject-matter of the honorable member’s motion does not come under that heading, nor does it come under -
The third class of breaches of privilege is spoken of as -
The fourth class comprises -
Parliament; or interference with officers of the House in discharge of their duty.
The honorable member’s motion does not cover breaches of privilege coming under any of these heads.
– What about the indignity ?
– May speaks of indignity in connexion with some proceedings in the House. What the honorable member wishes to refer to took place in a railway train, beyond the precincts of the House, and cannot be said to be a matter of urgency which has suddenly arisen. The matter can be dealt with on notice.
– Is not interference with a member who is travelling to perform his parliamentary duties a matter of privilege ?
– It is not a matter of privilege of an urgent character coming within the category that I have read. It would be for the House to determine whether it was an interference involving a breach of privilege.
– Do you, sir, maintain that if a member is interfered with in his progress to this House, and prevented from reaching here in a fit state to carry on his duties, that is not an infringement of our privileges?
– I am of opinion that, if an honorable member were forcibly prevented from coming here to attend to his duties, it would be a matter of privilege, to be dealt with by an ordinary motion. Seeing that in the present case other business has been allowed to intervene, and that what has occurred did not happen immediately before the meeting of the House, it can scarcely be said to be subjectmatter for a motion of privilege, to be dealt with as one of urgency. What has occurred is in no sense a matter of urgency, because it can be dealt with as well at a later hour, or 6n some subsequent occasion.
– What about the motion to dissent from your ruling given last Friday, which I have placed on the notice-paper ?
– Standing order 119 says that if motions have not been disposed of within two hours after the meeting of the House, the Orders of the Day shall be called on.
– I rise to order. It is time that this matter was cleared up, because it affects you, sir, and the business of the House. I raise a question of privilege on something happening in this Chamber. Surely something must be <lone to provide that the business of the House shall be carried on. On Friday last, the honorable member for Bourke moved an amendment to the motion of the Attorney-General which forms the subject of the Order of the Day, and you, sir, ruled it out of order. The honorable member for Gwydir thereupon gave notice of his intention to move to-day that your ruling be dissented from.
– I submit that there ‘is no question of privilege.
– The honorable member does not know what I am about to say.
– The honorable member has made it abundantly clear that he wishes to treat as a matter of privilege the putting aside, under the standing order, of the notice of motion to dissent from your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I say that that cannot form the subjectmatter of a motion of privilege.
– The Prime Minister is quite wrong. I knew that he did not “know what he was talking about.
– I require that’ observation to be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it. The point I wish to make is this: You, sir, have ruled that a certain amendment is out of order. Were the motion of dissent of which the honorable member for Gwydir has given notice, to be called on, and agreed to by the House, the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke could be debated, but if the motion of dissent is shelved until to-morrow, the amendment cannot be debated, which is a serious matter.
– I submit that the honor-
Able member for Kennedy is out of order. You, sir, have ruled that under standing order 119 Orders of the Day must be called on, and the first Order of the Day has “been read by the Clerk. The honorable member for Kennedy is merely traversing your decision in attempting to raise a question of privilege in this way, and is therefore out of order.
– I have no wish to traverse your ruling, sir. The House is in a difficulty, and if I can help it out, I shall be glad to do so, whatever honorable members may think. If you, sir, rule that the motion cannot be discussed,
I must, although very much loth to do so, move to dissent. I must do this in the interests of Parliament.
– This ceases to be a Parliament if we cannot discuss the matters, put before it.
– Yes. The Standing Orders lay it down as clearly as possible that no motion of censure must be held over the Speaker for a moment longer than may .be unavoidable.
– There is no motion of censure hanging over the Speaker.
– Under the circumstances, the motion of the honorable member for Gwydir is the first thing that should have been discussed, because it is of serious importance to the House, involving the protection of the minority. I regret that the Prime Minister has taken the steps he has; and I trust, Mr. Speaker, that you will withdraw your decision, so that we may proceed. *.
– I have taken no steps. I rise to a’ point of order. The honorable member is accusing me of having taken steps to prevent the transaction of public business.
– That is not in order.
– I ask that the accusation be withdrawn as offensive.
– I know that this must be irritating to the Prime Minister, and that-
– I am not irritated.
– I withdraw, any thing that the Prime Minister may desire me to withdraw.
– Honorable members do not assist me to a calm decision by all these irritating interjections and interventions.
– This, as I say, is a serious matter, quite apart from any party politics or party considerations. It must be remembered that, while we on this side are in Opposition to-day, we may be on the Treasury bench to-morrow; and, under the circumstances, I trust that the question may be discussed.
– The position is a very simple one. The question is not one of privilege, but one affecting the Standing Orders. As to the last point raised by the honorable member for Kennedy, I have to point out that mere dissent from a Speaker’s ruling does not necessarily involve a vote of censure on the Speaker.
In the first place, what are known as Speakers’ rulings are really not Speakers’ rulings, hut decisions of the House until the House otherwise decides. It is quite possible that the House may be absolutely wrong and the Speaker absolutely right as regards any decision he may have given. But the House has the right to decide always for itself, and this conveys no reflection on the Speaker. A motion of dissent was moved from a ruling on Friday, and that motion was placed as the first notice of motion before Government business; and in the ordinary course it would have been called upon after questions upon notice. However, the House itself took action, and decided that something else should intervene - something which the House decided was of an urgent character. The discussion of that question took up the whole of the two hours which were available for the discussion of motions; and I had no option, under the Standing Orders, but to interrupt the debate when two hours had expired, and call on Orders of the Day. Standing order 119 is as follows: -
If all motions shall not have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate thereon shall be interrupted, and unless the House otherwise orders, the Orders of the Day shall be taken in rotation.
That is exactly what is being done on the present occasion, and what has been done on previous occasions. No discretionary power is given to the Speaker; he is bound, under the Standing Orders, after two hours, if all motions have not been disposed of by that time, to call on the Orders of the Day; and I am simply carrying out the Standing Orders and the practice of the House.
– I intend to move that your ruling be dissented from.
– Some of the honorable member’s own decisions as Speaker, I think, bear out my ruling.
– I am quite prepared to defend my own decisions as Speaker when the occasion arises. I desire to move that your ruling be disagreed with. I very much regret having to do this.
– I submit that the honorable member may not speak, but may merely give notice of motion.
– I desire to give notice of my intention to move that the ruling of Mr. Speaker be disagreed with.
– The honorable member for Kennedy gives notice that he will move -
That the ruling of Mr. Speaker, that a motion by the honorable member for Gwydir, standing first on the business-paper for to-day, dissenting from Mr. Speaker’s ruling on an amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke, be dissented from.
The motion’ will be put down for consideration on the next sitting day.
– May I ask a question ?
– I rise to a point of order.
– The business must be proceeded with.
– I want this business settled, if possible.
– What, precisely, is the Prime Minister doing 1
– Order ! Is the Prime Minister rising to a point of order ?
– Yes; and my point of order relates to what is taking place, here day after day. I “mean the practice of asking questions about your rulings, Mr. Speaker, and about the business of the House - about everything - after the business of the day has been called on. I submit that if this practice is permitted indefinitely, the House can do no business. I should like to know whether all such questions are in order.
– There is nothing under the Standing Orders to prevent any honorable member, if he so desires, from raising a question of privilege, or a point of order, or from submitting a motion of dissent from a ruling as long aa he conforms to the rules of the House and does not abuse his rights. I am governed by the Standing Orders which confer those rights on honorable members, and it is not the province of the Speaker to intervene in their exercise, except where rules are .transgressed, but rather for the House to decide whether or not the Standing Orders shall be amended in certain directions.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire, sir, to ask your ruling in regard to standing order 119. Would it be in order to move that the discussion on the motion by the honorable member for Gwydir in regard to your ruling, be proceeded with?
– I call the attention of honorable members to the fact that # this point arose in the last session of the Parliament on a very important occasion, and it was then ruled that such a step mustbe taken before the expiration of the time allowed for motions.
– MayI ask a question, Mr. Speaker? I desire to know whereI am.
– This is grossly irregular. I have explained the position. There is a motion of dissent, and nothing can now intervene.
– I rise to a point of order.
– There is nothing before the House, and there can be no point of order. I call on the business of the day.
– Mr. Speaker-
– I call on the honorable member for Kennedy.
Debate resumed from 8th May . (vide page 832) on motion by Mr. W. H. Irvine -
That he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to prohibit, in relation to Commonwealth employment, preferences, and discriminations on account of membership or non-membership of an association.
.- I understand that the question now before us is whether leave shall be given to introduce a Bill to prohibit preference to unionists in the Government employ. First, I have to regret that the AttorneyGeneral, who is in charge of the measure, is not present, and I cannot but regard this as discourteous. The Government profess to be extremely anxious to proceed with business, and it is somewhat unfortunate that they do not take a keener interest in the immediate question before us. Honorable members opposite, though, no doubt, they would all like to discuss this question, have not the courage, with one or two exceptions, to rise in their places.
– Wait until the proper stages are reached.
– I suppose that will bethe stage when the doors are locked. The honorable member for Gippsland is hardly in a position to pose as an authority on the mode of conducting the business, seeing that, so tospeak, he has been here but a few hours.
– My experience is that length of time here does not beget wisdom.
– I agree with the honorable member; and if there were a few more like him here, we should have legislation to commit us all to a lunatic asylum.
– I submit that a remark of that character is grossly offensive.
– I ask the honorable member for Kennedy to withdraw the remark.
– I suppose I must withdraw it.
– I had better withdraw all the words I uttered about the honorable member, if he objects to them, though he is, I think, the only one outside the institution I have mentioned, that would object. The Bill under consideration opens up one of the biggest questions with which the House has to deal. It is idle for our opponents to come, along with the stupid idea in the minds of some that they can stop the progress of industrial organization. No men have been subjected to such enormous difficulties as those gone through by men who have brought these organizations to their present stage. Many have lost their lives in the struggle for the combination and organization of workers, and in the effort to gain better conditions than those prevailing in days gone by - conditions which I hope we shall never see again. Before factory laws or laws regulating the operations of mining were introduced, the workers were compelled to toil under almost inhuman conditions. Reports of Commissions presented to the House of Commons, and to Legislatures in the United States of America and elsewhere, have disclosed that in many factories children, six, seven, and eight years of age, took the places, not merely of the mothers, who took the places of the fathers, but of the men also, and worked twelve-hour shifts with overseers standing over them with straps to keep them awake. It was the revolt against such a condition of affairs that brought about the trade union movement, but the formation of Labour organizations had to be done in secret, and the books and minutes of the unions had to be concealed from the authorities. Even Parliament enacted that the workers should not be permitted to combine or ask for additional wages or better conditions. It was not until early in the nineteenth century that this restrictive legislation was repealed, and the workers got a better opportunity of organizing, and, as a result of their organizing, were able to enforce better conditions from their employers. Such has been the early history of the privations and hardships which originated the Labour movement. It is remarkable that, while the AttorneyGeneral says that he does not believe in giving “legal preference” - to use his own words - in public or private affairs in any shape or form, he has not the moral courage to say that he is prepared to wipe out all preference to unionists.
– You are getting it by instalments.
– But the great vital principle is not touched by the Bill before us. The measure is merely a declaratory one for the purpose of showing that the Government and their supporters do not favour preference to unionists.
– It shows that they are not in favour of granting preference to unionists by the aid of public money.
– The honorable member does not understand the question. The great bulk of the people affected by preference to unionists are not touched by the Bill. The measure is merely a declaratory one, for the purpose of telling the world that the present Government are not in favour of preference to unionists. ‘ But no one would accuse them of being in favour of preference to unionists. At the last election they said, on the public platforms, that they were not in favour of preference to unionists, but they have pot the moral courage to propose an amendment to the Arbitration Act in that direction; in fact, they are afraid to deal with the general measure.
– There are many on the Government side who believe in preference to unionists, but not in Government employ.
– Now we have it. While the Government started out with the general proposition of no preference to unionists, they are now not prepared to go on with it because one or two of their supporters - even if it be the honorable member only - are in favour of preference to unionists to those who are not in Government employ. The Government abandoned their original idea. They were afraid to come down to the
House with it because some of their supporters were not in accord with it.
– Nothing of the kind.
– There was no more prominent question before the country at the last elections than this same Bill.
– At the last election the Bill had not seen the light, and could not have been before the electors. We can only drag out information from honorable members opposite piece by piece. We have an admission from the honorable member for Nepean. When the Government came down last session with a proposal to amend the Arbitration Act in relation to preference to unionists, it was suddenly withdrawn. Why? Because the honorable member for Nepean had said that he was not in favour of it.
– The honorable member did not say that.
– The honorable member for Nepean said that the only preference to unionists he opposed was that where public money was used.
– I said that there were men on the Government side who believed in preference to unionists, but not in Government employ.
– We know now why the Bill was withdrawn. It is quite evident that honorable members on the Government side were not unanimous. A large number of unions can enforce preference to unionists. If preference to unionists is a good thing for those organizations that can enforce it, why is it not good for some of the weaker organizations ? As a matter of fact, our opponents take every step they possibly can to try to prevent the growth of labour organizations, but they might just as well attempt to stop the tide with a pitch-fork. There was a time when it might have been done, but it is not possible to-day. Our opponents know that any legitimate attempt to stop the growth of industrial organizations would probably lead to a revolution. The present position of trade organizations has, in many cases, been brought about by bloodshed and by dragging from the powers that be the privileges the workers enjoy to-day. It is said that preference to unionists should not be given because the organizations take political action. Those organizations that can enforce preference to unionists certainly take political action, and they will do so whether our opponents lite it
Or not, hut the hope is that our opponents may prevent political action being taken by the weaker organizations, who seek, by that action, to better their conditions. Have not employers derived all the benefits and privileges they enjoy to-day by political action ? Every action of aggression towards the workers has been taken by political action. The early organization of trade unions was prevented by political action. In the early stages of their existence these organizations were retarded by political action. It was through political action that Governments sent troops to shoot down trade unionists who sought better conditions. And now to-day, because those organizations, which our opponents, by political action, tried to prevent coming into existence,’ and whose progress they retarded, are now taking political action, honorable members opposite squeal, and say, “It was good enough for us to use against you when you were trying to form your organizations, but it is not good enough for you to use in order to better your conditions.” Trade organizations will use political action to better their conditions. It is absolutely idle for our opponents to say they should not do so. The trade unionist of to-day is not what the trade unionist was fifty years ago. Have we not given him the right to join a union, and the right to record a vote? Have we not also given him the right to be educated? Do we not go so far as to tell him that we shall prosecute him if he does not send his children to get the necessary education that the State provides, so that they may grow up to be better citizens at a later period ? Can we expect the organizations, composed of educated people, and with the franchise extended to them, and with the opportunity of realizing the power they wield - can we expect them to remain as their predecessors were thirty years ago ? It is not reasonable to expect it. As a matter of fact, these combinations will become stronger, and bigger, and will wield the power they possess to get a fair share of the wealth they produce, as well as better conditions. The Attorney-General tells us frankly that he would not give any preference of any kind, but the most remarkable thing is that we find the Government introducing a system of preference at the first oppor tunity they get. Even though they deny preference to the trade unionists of this country, and deny them the right to say whether they will work with non-unionists or not, we find the Government are the first to initiate preference, under the law which enables them to sit on the Treasury bench. The Government have given to certain contractors preference without calling for tenders, and that involves the using of Government funds to the extent of £40,000 or £50,000, and yet they turn round and say that preference to unionists should not be given amongst’ the employes casually engaged under the Government, because it means the expenditure of Government funds upon those particular individuals. What is happening on the transcontinental railway today? The Government cannot obtain men who are outside the organization, and they are obliged to give preference to unionists, whether they like it or not. Yet it is Government money which is being expended. The honorable member for Nepean tells us that the Government do not believe in preference to unionists in relation to men employed on the Government works. But that is only so much sham and hypocrisy for, as I have pointed out, the Government are giving preference to unionists to-day on the transcontinental railway. That will continue to be done on all big works where there exist vast organizations of workers who can enforce the principle of preference to unionists. It is a remarkable thing that where preference to unionists can be enforced by the organizations, industrial trouble very rarely takes place.
– We have had industrial trouble on the transcontinental railway.
– The reason is that the Government will not pay the wages that are asked. The honorable member, being one of the most intelligent members of the party, will understand the point that I am trying to make. The whole argument of the Attorney-General is that we should not give preference to unionists where the expenditure of Government money is involved. That is the whole bone of contention, so far as the proposed Bill is concerned. Yet we find that the Government are obliged to give preference to unionists on the transcontinental railway, otherwise they could not get the line constructed, because all the men employed are in an organization sufficiently strong to compel the Government to give preference. Because of the strength of that organization, the Government are prepared to accept the principle in that case, while, at the same time, imposing a penalty on others who are less advantageously situated in the cities and elsewhere. That action is not only inconsistent, but it is a rotten thing for the Government to do. The Government have no right to give preference to unionists even on the transcontinental railway, if they are honest in their opposition to the principles because, in giving preference there and refusing it elsewhere, they are differentiating between two sets of people. So far as the proposed Bill is concerned, the honorable member who sought to introduce it gave practically no explanation as to why it was to be brought down. I am at a loss to understand how the honorable member has the courage to bring down .the measure after the exposure of the preference given by the Government in connexion with the contract to Mr. Teesdale Smith. That was one of the most glaring cases of preference that I know of. The Government refused to call for tenders, and gave preference to one of their own supporters. The Attorney-General talks about spoils to the victors, but let me tell the honorable member that I have never known a more glaring case of spoils to the victors than the instance of the Teesdale Smith contract. It was an instance so glaring and palpable that any man could see exactly what was being done. It is all a hollow sham for honorable members to tell us that they do not believe in preference. Then, again, we are told by our opponents that the principle of preference to unionists will be the means of driving men into organizations. Of course it will; that is the object of it. We do not want the principle except for that purpose. Even the Attorney-General has said on different occasions that we can never hope to have any peaceful settlement of the industrial troubles that occur from time to time until we have, on the one hand, the labourers completely organized, and, on the other hand, the employers completely organized. That is the position that we take up. We say that there should be complete organization on both sides, and, until there is that complete organization, there will be no machinery available by which industrial disputes can be dealt with. The whole aim of compulsory arbitration has been to force the employers, on the one hand, and the employes, on the other, into organizations, the idea being that once both parties are completely organized we are in a better position to control industrial movements than we can ever hope to be while both parties remain in a disorganized state. Compulsory arbitration will practically break down unless there is complete industrial organization. That has been the whole trend of development. First of all, there were the small guilds, then came the craft unions, firstly amongst the skilled workers, and afterwards in the different crafts. The great mass of the people, however, were in no organizations whatever, and, while the small guilds and craft unions met the requirements of the time in a slight way, they did not deal with the great mass of workers who produced the world’s wealth, and who were the most poorly paid in the whole community. As time went on, it was recognised that only from a more complete organization of the workers could great reforms come. Attempts were then made to organize this big industrial army, so as to get the workers into a body which would be able to claim better conditions than they had been able to obtain previously. I need only mention the instance of the shearing industry. Is there any class ‘of men under heaven who were worse treated than the shearers were prior to the formation of the Australian Workers Union? I say that they were the worst-treated class of men in Australia, and only by organization did they improve their lot. There is also the instance of the sugar workers, and the honorable member for Richmond, “ the rising hope of the Liberal party,” will know that what I am about to say is correct. The condition of those workers was anything but good.’ I have known men working in the sugar industry who were treated little better than the kanakas, and it was that treatment which helped to drive them into an organization. Then there is the case of the rural workers. Owing to the conditions these men have had to work under, and the miserable wages they are paid-
– There is no quarrel between . the rural workers and their em,ployers.
– I have heard that statement a hundred and one times, hut, if there is no dispute, they are making a mighty big noise about it.
– There is no dispute.
– I admit that amongst the farmers of this country there are many fair-minded men. I dare say the great bulk of them are fair minded.
– And are paying fair wages.
– Some of them are, and I was glad to hear the honorable member for Hume say that they are paying better wages than the rural workers axe asking for. But what is the reason for all the protest against the rural workers’ log if the farmers are paying better wages than the workers are asking for?
– Because the rural workers do not want the log.
– The great bulk of the farmers are prepared to pay fair and reasonable wages, and give reasonable conditions to their employes, but there are others who are not prepared to do that. They are the men who bring about trouble, and if the honorable member for Gippsland is sincere in his protestations this afternoon, he will have sufficient courage to go amongst the farmers who are paying good wages and congratulate them, and also congratulate the workers on the organization they are bringing into being. I was pointing out how badly the shearers and the sugar workers were treated prior to their organizing. Now let me refer to an organization which the honorable member for Hindmarsh is interested in. The carrying of heavy bags, some of them weighing 3 cwt. and 4 cwt., and the piling of those bags in high stacks, was a means of killing thousands of men employed in that industry. Yet who were the people who fought against a reform ? We found honorable members on the Government side fighting against the introduction of a smaller bag.
– I think we introduced it.
– The majority of members sitting behind the Treasurer were sitting on this side at that time. The right honorable member was a member of the Ministry, and, I think, the smaller bag was introduced by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. The right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro are,
I think, the last two remaining of the then Ministry, but the majority of members who are now sitting on the Government side never lost an opportunity of saying that the introduction of a smaller bag was an injustice to the farmers, and that the men who refused to carry the large bags were mere loafers. The death of an honorable member who sat on this side of the House, and who died suddenly last session, may be traced to the fact that while working on the wharfs he had to carry and stack these heavy bags. It is idle for our opponents to tell us that the employers want to do the best they can for all parties. I do not hesitate to say that, if the opportunity offered, we should have prevailing to-day the conditions that operated twenty or thirty years ago. Every concession, every benefit, that the worker has gained has been wrung from the powers that be; no voluntary concession has been made. Those who did not hesitate to avail themselves of a constitutional means of coercing the workers and of tyrannising over them in days gone by now howl like a lot of curs because their opponents say that they intend to avail themselves of exactly the same means of bettering their conditions. We are told that but for vile agitators like some honorable members on this side of the House the rural workers would cheerfully follow their occupations. That, no doubt, is the view of the honorable member for Gippsland; no doubt, he would say that but for the agitators “ everything in the garden would be lovely.” The Attorney-General and others of his party assert that they desire to bring about more harmonious relations between the workers and the employers, and that they also wish to see the employes securing the full fruits of their industry. But what is the position ? Statistics show that the worker does not get anything like the full fruits of his toil; that out of every week he works two days for himself and four for his employer. In such circumstances, is it not idle to say that the relations between employers and employes should be more harmonious? The very action which the Government are taking is but another effort to divide society into two clearly-defined classes : those who produce wealth, and those who own the means of production, distribution, and exchange. These are two antagonistic forces. On the one hand, we have the men trying to get as much as they can for their labour; while on the other, we have the employers seeking to obtain the largest possible returns from the machinery in their hands. That being so, we must expect industrial unrest. The men are determined to stand up for their rights. As the result of education, they are fast realizing that they have powers of which they did not dream a few years ago. They are going to try to enforce those powers, and industrial upheavals will take place from time to time. The introduction of machinery is throwing more and more skilled labour out of employment every day. In the Steel Trust of America we have an organization employing something like 230,000 hands. Its first object was to break down the organizations of industry, and it has succeeded so well that to-day not a union man is to be found in its employment. Having broken down unionism, it tried to displace skilled labour, and it did so by introducing more machinery, and employing men taken from the southern portion of Europe - men who could not speak the English language - in place of skilled local labour. The position to-day is that not more than 20 per cent. of the labour employed in the trust can be classed as skilled labour. The unskilled labourers employed by the trust work - for seven days a week - from ten to fourteen hours per day, and receive 7d. an hour. Honorable members opposite represent a class of people who, if they had their way, would set up in Australia the same state of affairs. This displacement of skilled labour by machinery is taking place throughout our industrial activities, with the result that the unskilled labour market is flooded and the one class of men is competing against the other in the struggle for existence. How can it be said, then, that preference to unionists and their organization is detrimental to the best interests of the community? If we want to rid ourselves of the present industrial unrest we must wipe out, first of all, class distinctions. The struggle for existence is compelling men to join various industrial organizations, and our unions are likely to increase very considerably in numbers. The Australian Workers Union originally comprised the shearers and bush workers alone, but, as the result of negotiations, it has joined forces with the Australian Workers Union of Queensland, which includes the sugar workers, miners, carriers, and others, and to-day it numbers nearly 100,000 men. By reason of its strength the union is able, in most cases, to enforce preference to unionists. The Government say that preference to unionists shall not be permitted, but the casual labourers employed in undergrounding the telephone lines, as well as in carrying out other works under the control of the Department of Home Affairs, will be members of this vast organization, and preference will have to be given unless these works are to be held up, just as in the case of the construction of the transcontinental railway. It is ridiculous for the Government to tell us that they are sincere in their proposals in this regard. Ministers themselves have declared on the public platform that the Bill is designed to do something more than abolish preference to unionists - that it is to bring about a political crisis.
– The Attorney-General said on Monday that he would withdraw it.
– The Government may or may not withdraw it. I have an amendment to move which should commend itself to the House.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– In order that we may know where we are, I propose to move an amendment.
– In order to assist the Government.
– Quite so. We all desire to assist the Government to bring about a more harmonious situation in regard to this Bill.
– The honorable member is most kind.
– I reciprocate the honorable member’s sentiment. It seems to be necessary that the Government and their supporters may know what is intended, and be able to speak outside in one way, not in two or three. It is therefore advisable to obtain the fullest information as to the need for legislation of the kind proposed, and we cannot do better than refer the proposal of the AttorneyGeneral to a Select Committee. We were told in connexion with the Tariff that all information should be obtained in regard to the various industries affected by any revision, so that our legislation might have a scientific basis. It is for that reason that Tariff revision has been referred to the Inter-State Commission. I do not propose that the subject of preference to unionists shall be referred to the Inter-State Commission, because I realize that that would mean shelving it for a considerable time. If the Commisssion had to put it aside until its Tariff recommendations had been put before Parliament, there might be a delay of five or six years. Of course I do not want to bring that about.
– That is right; play the game !
– It is certainly a game that is being played.
– I regret that the Prime Minister does not possess the sporting instincts of the honorable member for West Sydney. The amendment which I move - and I suggest that the AttorneyGeneral should wait until he has heard it before consulting May’s Parliamentary Practice to find objections to it - is -
That after the word “ That,” the following -words be inserted : - “ in order to legislate effectively on the question of preference to unionists in Government employment, a Committee be appointed to inquire into the question, and, if it appears . desirable, to prepare »nd introduce a Bill relating thereto.”.
That is a reasonable amendment, and certainly in order. May I ask the Government to give it consideration ?
– And support.
– The Prime Minister and Attorney-General are consulting together, so that I hope the Government will give my proposal the fullest support. The Bill which it is sought to introduce does not go to the root of preference to unionists. We know exactly what it contains, because we have been told by Ministers’ here and in the country what is its object and scope. Last session the Attorney-General introduced a comprehensive measure dealing with preference to unionists in connexion with arbitration. That measure gave opportunity to go into all the pros and cons of the matter. But the Bill for which leave is now being sought confines our attention to one small point, and therefore I assert that honorable members are not sincere in regard to it.
– I was required to withdraw a similar expression.
– Then I withdraw my remark. Ministers have declared that the object of the Bill is not to prevent preference to unionists, but to bring about a crisis. It is that which led me to say that I thought the Government were not in earnest.
– I second the amendment, and I think that it would be good policy for the Government to adopt it. We are led to understand that the Bill which it is sought to introduce is practically on the same lines as that of last session, and, according to Ministers, is to be brought in to force an appeal to the people which will alter the constitution of this and the other House. Party feeling has been greatly excited by this proposal. I do not think that debates of this character are calculated to increase the dignity of the House, or to strengthen its influence in the country, and the sooner we can get back .to what I call a healthy state of affairs, the better it will be for Parliament and for the country.
– What does the amendment mean? I cannot understand it. In order to legislate, you propose to inquire whether you should legislate.
– Whatever the wording of the amendment, there can be no difference of opinion as to its object, which is the appointment of a committee which will consider the whole question at issue, without party prejudice, and in a manner consonant with the dignity of the House. If, after inquiry, the committee reports that a Bill of the kind proposed should be brought in, I take it that the measure will be introduced. On the other hand, the committee may report that there is no need for any measure of this kind.
– The amendment says, “ In order to effectively legislate on the question of preference to unionists.” Apparently you do not mean to legislate.
– Undoubtedly we do.
– The honorable member thinks that there .should be effective legislation on the question ?
– After the line of action taken by the Government last session, and after the introduction of a Bill nf this kind, the amendment of the honorable member for Kennedy is surely one worth considering.
– The honorable member means as to the necessity of “ legislating effectively “ - very good !
– Or not legislating.
– There is nothing about “ or not” in the amendment.
– If the House, in its wisdom, accepts the amendment, it will be open to the Committee to report in favour of such legislation, or of leaving matters as they are at present.
– But the amendment says “ in order to legislate effectively”; how, then, could the Committee inquire whether we should or should not legislate ?
– I do not know that we shall get over the difficulty by the Prime Minister repeating that he does not know what the amendment means. I am trying to show what the proposal means, and giving reasons why the Government should support it. I have not risen this afternoon to lecture anybody; that is not my object or idea; but, with all deference, I submit that the lines on which we are proceeding do not add to the dignity of the House, or advance the best interests of Australia. This is a very serious question; and if we are worth our salt, we ought to give a lead to the people as to the best lines of legislation.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad that the Attorney-General agrees with me.
– I agree with that remark.
– Is it desirable to legislate on lines that will give rise to the most heated party passions and prejudice ?
– That, surely, is for the House, and not for a Committee, to determine.
– That is a very queer argument. If the AttorneyGeneral were experimenting with dangerous explosives, and, in an accident, injured, not himself, but a neighbour, I think he would be held responsible; and the measure before us is an explosive of the most dangerous kind ; indeed, it would be difficult for the Government to introduce a more explosive ohe.
– Some people call the measure a “ shadow “ and a “ sham,” and the honorable member calls it a dangerous “explosive” - which is it?
– I, also, have called the measure a sham; and it is perfectly true that it is one. The Bill, will affect not more than 3,000 people, ‘ or probably not so many, and all that is de sired can be, as, indeed, it has been, brought about by administrative act. Further, a succeeding Government could, by administrative act, repeal such a measure to all intents and purposes. As I say, the measure is a very high explosive, and, doubtless, very useful for the purposes of political fireworks. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we have to go to the country on a Bill of this character, what is to be the issue placed before the electors ? That issue will not be represented . by the measure that I have described as a sham; but we shall have all over again the discussion of years ago on freedom of contract. That aspect, however, will not be presented or fought over in the cities or metropolitan areas; honorable members opposite have too much wit to “ flog a dead horse “ such as this in the big centres. It will prove, however, a splendid cry for the country districts, where the passions and prejudices of the primary producers can be roused against unionism, and the whole course of action of the Labour party. There will be let loose all those distinguished workers in the cause of Liberalism, whose chief characteristic is that they never speak the truth except by accident. Two-thirds of them cannot gek an honest day’s work from anybody; they belong to that section of the community who have never any constant work, and for obvious reasons. What is going to be the effect of such a fighting policy amongst the farmers and primary producers? Is such a campaign worthy of the dignity of this House, the dignity of the Government, or the. dignity of the Conservative party in Australia? There can be only one answer to that question. I have said that I do not believe in the measure, because it is a sham.
– Is this a proposed amendment on the sham?
– It is an amendment of what, in the abstract, is a sham, but which is a high explosive in the hands of the Government.
-I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the word “ sham “ as applied to the Bill.
– I withdraw the word, Mr. Speaker, but I must, say that the Prime Minister invited me to use it.
– An honorable member is not entitled to make an irrelevant speech, by way of reply to irrelevant interjections.
– Is it an explosive sham or a sham explosive?
– Another view of the matter may he taken. Industrial unrest will continue and spread all over the world, for the reason that the workers are becoming more intelligent and enlightened, and are beginning to realize that the civilization of to-day presses harshly, heavily, and cruelly on the great masses. “We are, of course, better off iu many respects than our British brethren, but the conditions which make for the present system are in our midst here, as well as abroad. I have no desire to enter into a heated party squabble, because this is too serious a question for that sort of treatment. It is terrible when we realize how colossal wealth is being built up by one section of the community, while the other section work for a bare living. These latter have nothing to sell but their labour, and as labour will not “keep,” it has to be disposed of in the market at once, if the people are to live; and the profits thus made tend to create further wealth for the more fortunate section. I am not complaining about people owning wealth, but merely pointing out how brutal, immoral, and barbarous is the present system of civilization. It is -a disgrace to mcn of intellect and culture, who have had all the advantages of education, that they do not do something to bring about altered conditions. ‘Che workers, with their trade unions and other organizations, are working steadily in one direction ; and the Labour party have ever been in favour of arbitration and conciliation and other peaceful methods of solving the problem. There is a demand for better conditions, ‘and the steps that are being taken are not taken out of revenge or any feeling of that sort. Our great desire is to banish hatred and other strong feeling, and to regard the matter from a philosophical point of view. Let us realize the blots on our civilization, and, for Heaven’s sake, try to remove them ! If we fail, we shall, at all events, have the satisfaction of having tried. At present, the workmen «an go to the Court and obtain an award ; and the time may, and, I think, will, come when another section of the community will have to face a tribunal, the duty of which will be to fix prices; the one is the logical outcome of the other.
Colonel Ryrie.- If the award suits the workman he will abide by.it, but, if otherwise, he will not.
– The honorable member need not worry on that score. Every day in the newspapers we read of men being convicted of felony, but we do not say, on that account, that the laws against felony are a failure. On one side we have the educated section of the community ; on the other side we have the uneducated; and as the strain of hard work .does not tend to brain culture such as is enjoyed by those who do not work, there should be large-hearted charity extended in the one direction where there would be hesitation to grant it in the other. Could not the Attorney-General find a better job than bringing in a Bill like this? He may differ from me as to the evolution that is to take place according to the picture of civilization that I have drawn. I know that it is his task to protect invested interests and the conservative interests against what he thinks are the inroads of the great mass of the working people. There is a clear line between the two parties. There is ahead trouble enough, passion and hatred enough, without honorable members opposite going out of their way for the purpose of manufacturing further trouble. That is one reason which makes me feel so bitterly against honorable members opposite. I do not blame them for being conservative. I respect Conservatism. I differ from it in principle, but I recognise that some men, by their education; environment, and by their very mental constitutions, do not take a hopeful view of things, and are frightened that those who share my views will break things, and take extreme action. They recognise that evils exist, but they think that our remedies may not be effectual, and may make things worse. But such Conservatives do not go out of their way to make war on their fellow-men. They are content to simply block any further advance by those who share my opinions, and thus give the country a breathing time until the people are prepared to allow affairs for another series of years to be under the management of those who seek to bring about a policy of extensive reform. Though I do not agree with that position, and have always fought it, and always shall fight it,
I understand it, and respect it. Some of the most honoured people in the country hold those opinions. Now the Prime Minister has asked what benefit is to be derived from a Committee, but I put it to him that to climb down by the means Wehave suggested is the best way out for them. I do not say “ climb down “ in an unkind way. We all make mistakes, and do not care to climb down if we can help it. The Government have taken up a mistaken policy. If the matter dealt with by the Bill is submitted to a Committee, and judged apart from party prejudices and passions, and something is found that will justify legislation upon the subject, well and good, but in any case our suggestion provides for the Government the opportunity to back down,
If not to reverse their policy. I do not ask them to pass a measure of reform to which honorable members of the Opposition can subscribe.All I ask is that they shall mark time on this Bill, and proceed with legislation that should be considered. There is plenty of work on which this Parliament could run its natural course, legislation of a character that must be dealt with, and then we should get upon a better plane, and do some effective work. I hope the Government will allow better counsels to prevail. Last session the spectacle was not too good, and the outlook for the present session is none too hopeful. There is a determination on the part of the Opposition to oppose legislation of the character of that brought down by the Government. Any intelligent man will agree that itis the only logical attitude we can assume, having regard to the principles we have taken up. Our action cannot be misunderstood by any one. No Ministers are anxious that time should be frittered away when beneficial work could be undertaken, so there is every reason why a measure of this sort should be referred to a Committee. There are heaps of precedents for such a course. On many occasions in the House of Commons, when party feeling has run high, amendments of this character have been brought forward with success, and for the benefit of the people of the Mother Country. They frequently raise the tone of debate, and get honorable members out of the tendency to recrimination that always exists when there are two sections that are strongly represented in the coun try. The unrest which is characteristic of our time is going to continue.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m
– -Before dinner,I was urging upon the Government the desirability of their accepting the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Kennedy. I am not here to lecturethe Government, or anybody else, because I do not think that that attitude comes with good taste from anybody; but I am of opinion that the Government committed an error of judgment in proposing the Bill for the introduction of which they are now asking leave. They have committed an error of judgment in again bringing forward a Bill of that character, having regard to its history during last session, and the electrical state in which the House is to-day, and is likely to continue.. I am not saying that by way of recrimination. I am not talking about the measure itself, because I look upon it as a very flimsy proposal, and one likely to be of very little value ; in fact, if it becomes law, it will only affect somethinglike 2,000 or 3,000 employes of the Government, and all that the Bill proposes to do has been done by the Government as an act of administration. One is not surprised at the Government doing that when one recollects the principles that are continually enunciated by honorable members on the Government side; but I ask the Government and their supporters to consider whether it is according to the best traditions of this House? Is it the best way we can spend our time, to have a conflict over a question that must have imported into it all the bitterness of party prejudice and misrepresentation? As I have previously pointed out, this is merely a revival of the old question of freedom of contract. The Bill will not frighten anybody in Hindmarsh or any of the big cities, but the Government may make it a big stalkinghorse so far as the primary producers are concerned. For that reason, I appeal to the Government to support the amendment, and they will then have an excellent opportunity of backing down from the position they have taken up. They are not the first persons in the world to make a mistake; but all of us, when we recognise that we have made a mistake, are anxious to rectify it as quickly as we can. Governments, no matter from which party they are chosen, are liableto com- mit errors of judgment, and that is. the charge I bring against the Government tonight. If the amendment is -passed, the proposal to introduce this Bill will be referred to a Committee, and the result ot the Committee’s investigation will be to discover grounds on which a measure can be framed, or to advise that such legislation should be deferred to a later period. I do not think any honorable member will seriously contend that he is giving to the country the best that is in him when he is a party to any legislation that is born of strife and feelings bordering on revenge. Any party that takes its lead from a section of its adherents who like that sort of work, is not doing the best that can be done for. the country. There is plenty of legislation with which we can occupy our time. Some three years ago the question of Tariff reform was very much before the people of the Old Country, and some honorable members who are present to-night were in England, and had an opportunity of observing the attitude of the leading statesmen of the Motherland. I am not referring to the statesmen of either party in particular, but to the leading statesmen of the British Parliament; and I have never felt such pleasure and pride as I did over their attitude in regard to Tariff reform. They had, and they have to-day, difficulties to contend with; but one of the chief objections they had to dealing with the Tariff question was that they saw the terrible condition of millions of the working people of Great Britain, and they said, “ If we cannot do anything to make the conditions of these people better, we will not do anything to make their conditions worse.” That may not be a very great attitude for a reformer to take up ; but it was a masterly attitude for a statesman to adopt, and I ask the Government to take that attitude to-day. There is a tremendous bitterness of feeling in regard to this industrial question, and I would appeal to both sides of the House to remember that we have to face this problem, or it will be faced by others when we have passed away ; and possibly they, having a clearer view, and education being more widespread among the working classes, will be able to deal with these problems more satisfactorily than we can to-day. What are the Government going to get out of this measure, even if they get leave to introduce it? They are going to let loose throughout the country party ani- mosity, party hatred, and all the bitterness that can possibly confront us.’ Dust is to be thrown in the eyes of the primary producers, and they will be told of all sorts of iniquities that will spring from this industrial movement, which, I say, is one of the best guarantees in the world today for industrial peace and for the solidarity and strength of the British Empire. The uplifting cif the great masses can never be effected from the top; they must work out their salvation from beneath; and mistakes, no doubt, will be made. The educated section of the community never makes any mistake, and I do appeal to the Government to withdraw this motion and allow us to proceed with something useful. ‘ In the time allotted to us, let us do something that will be of value to the community.
– This amendment is no withdrawal.
– It is not a with.drawal, but it is a way out of the difficulty. If I were to appeal to the honorable member for Kennedy to withdraw the amendment, and then ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the Bill, I could quite understand him saying that that was not a fair position to put him in.
– What will you do if we withdraw the Bill?
– I should ask the Government to get on with some legislation that is of value to the country. I am not going into any details.
– It is not wise to go into details, is it?
– There is the question of the Beef Trust. We know the history of that trust in America. It simply taxed the whole of the consumers of America and ruined the graziers. To-day the trust cannot buy the quantity of stock it requires in America. Is it that America is played out for stock-raising ? Would any sane man on the face of the earth believe that? Stock-raising is played out in America only because the grower has no guarantee that when he raises his stock he” will not be ruined by the trust, as his predecessor was ruined previously. We know what the trust has done in the Argentine. The Argentine is not blest, or cursed, with a federal system of government; but the Government of that country have, in their wisdom, decided to limit the export of frozen meat to a certain quantity per annum. They say to the ‘Americans, “If you choose to trade here, well and good, but you must not do it at the- expense of the Argentine.” :What have we done in Australia? The Attorney-General says that he proposes to bring in a measure to deal with this question. My own candid opinion is that he will not be able to do so; because, as has been said on different occasions, an alteration of the Constitution is necessary in order to give this National Parliament power to cope with the matter. The Attorney-General says we have that power. Let him bring down his Bill. However we may differ from the Attorney-General, we must admit that he is generally capable of making out a good case for anything that he takes up, and he may be able to convince me that there is a chance for this Parliament, even with its present restricted powers, to do something. The Opposition have no desire to hamper the Government. We wish rather to assist them in passing legislation that will be useful to Australia. The National Parliament cannot be judged by the number of Bills that it passes. There are some questions which we might be justified in discussing for a month, and even then we might not feel competent to arrive at a definite decision as to the action that -should be taken. I do not know what the press may say, nor do I care, but I submit that Parliament is not bound to pass a Bill a day or even a Bill a month. We have to consider the’ quality rather than the quantity of our legislation. The mere fact that a large number of Bills is passed in one session is no reason for congratulation. The quality of our legislation is the point to be considered, and a record of the passing of many Bills may point to nothing save that our legislation has been swift, and, perhaps, of a shoddy character. Another question to which this Parliament might well turn ‘its attention is the control of the Murray waters. At the recent Conference of State Premiers a proposal was made to deal with the Murray by a system of locking, the Commonwealth to find something like £1,000,000, and the remaining expenditure to be borne by Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.
– Have not the Government referred that matter to the InterState Commission?
– It should not be referred to the Inter-State Commission; it should be dealt with by this Parlia ment. There may be some feeling between the States concerned, but where on this continent is there a better assembly for discussing and settling the question in the interests of the people of the whole Commonwealth .than is the National Parliament? Legislation dealing with the subject should follow broad national lines. Many people in South Australia believed, prior to Federation, that the National Parliament would have control of the Murray River. Indeed, I think two-thirds of the people of Australia held that view. But later on they found that Federation would not help them out of the difficulty. Any intelligent man viewing the fact that the two parties in? this House are practically equally divided, would say, “ If members had any patriotism they would sink their differences of opinion and come to anagreement upon national issues of pressing importance to the people.” This question of the Murray waters demands the combined wisdom of the National Parliament. There is also the revision of the Tariff awaiting our attention. Honorable members opposite say that the Labour party should have dealt with it when in office. My answer is that so many large and important questions of pressing urgency demanded our consideration that it was impossible to dispose of them all. If I were making an unreasonable proposal I should not- be surprised’ if the Attorney-General turned it down, but the position that I take up is that we do not and cannot make the issues in this great country. The electors have returned to this House two parties practically equal in number, . and those who know the A B C of public life must recognise that in such circumstances nothing in the way of reform or progressive legislation on vital party lines can be attempted. Recognising this, the Government should deal with the broad, non-party questions that await our attention. It is all very well for the Government to say, “ We do not like this or that”; but they are in the same position as we are. We should like to be able to carry reforms calculated, by evolution, to change the face of our civilization, and to bring about a better distribution of wealth by removing the system of wage slavery that we have to-day. That, however, can be done only when the people return a party sufficiently strong numerically to do so. The Go- vernment and their supporters, I repeat, are in rauch the same position that we occupy. That being so, I am not making an unreasonable proposition when I urge that they should interpret the mandate of the people on the lines indicated by me, .and introduce important non-party measures. I have by no means’ exhausted the list. Measures dealing with company law, bankruptcy, and one or two other subjects have long been promised. There is now ample opportunity to deal with them. The Government, therefore’, should accept this amendment. The proposed Committee would furnish a report on which they might act. There need be no hurry on the part of the Committee in bringing up a report. A little delay would tend to cool down the party passions and prejudices which now exist. We have had enough of that sort of thing. There is thrown on every honorable member the responsibility of maintaining the’ dignity and prestige of the House, and we should so act that when we receive our walking tickets we shall be able to hand over to our successors the conduct of the business of the country with the prestige of the National Parliament unimpaired. We urge the Government to give up the mistaken policy they are now pursuing, and to deal with national questions. The break of gauge is a question with which they might also deal.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that question.
– I was not going into detail. After we have collected all the information on the question that we can get, we may find that it is not worthy of the attention given to it. Parliament can either turn its attention to matters of urgent reform, for which there is the mandate of the people, or it can take the alternative course to which I have referred. I ask the Attorney-General whether he will withdraw his motion ?
– It is not in order to ask or to answer questions during a debate.
– Perhaps the AttorneyGeneral will let me know, through you, Mr. Speaker, whether he will support the amendment for the appointment of a Select Committee.
– No, Mr. Speaker.
– I again point out, and I wish to impress it upon honorable members, that it is contrary to the Standing Orders for a member who is speaking to ask, or for the Minister in charge of business to answer, questions during the course of a debate. If such a practice were allowed, it would lead to disorder.
– I am surprised at the reply of the Attorney-General, but I hope that he will consider the views that I have put forward, and that Government supporters will insist that Ministers’ shall retrace their steps, and not pursue further a line of action which is not in the best interests of the country. There are many questions to which I might refer, but I am afraid that in dealing with them I should be treading on dangerous ground.
– What about the rural workers ?
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The proposal before the House is that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire generally whether legislation of the kind sought to be introduced, or of some other kind, should be passed to deal with preference to unionists. As a reason why the whole subject should be referred to a Select Committee, I propose to quote some strong opinions regarding preference to unionists expressed by the Prime Minister some years ago. They come under the following headings : -
The passages which I propose to read are to be found in a great speech delivered by the honorable gentleman, in 1900, when a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. It is reported in the New South Wales Mansard for the 2nd August, 1900. The Prime Minister, having delivered his speech, had proofs of the report submitted to him by the printer, and, on the following day, calmly corrected them in his office, so that his remarks might be preserved for posterity in the public records of the country in the exact form that he wished them to take. This speech was not made when he was within the ranks of the Labour party. Years before he had left the Labour party to join the so-called Liberals. At the time of its delivery, he had been a Minister of the Crown in a Liberal Administration, and had had many years’ experience in Parliament. The speech, therefore, was the expression of one whose mind must be considered to have matured on the question with which he dealt. Having taken some interest in union matters, and having heard the question of preference to unionists threshed out in great union assemblies, in public debates, and in this Parliament, I say that the arguments and pathos of the speech, excel anything that I have heard. Speaking of voluntary action in settling disputes, the honorable member said -
All that voluntary action can do for the settlement of these disastrous industrial troubles has been done; but in spite of all that has been done, men are to-day being victimized because they belong to trades organizations. The other day a mine manager discharged six men, the reason given being that the trade of the mine was falling off, and that, therefore, these men had to go. It was only a coincidence that they were the six men at the colliery who had agitated for an advance in wages, which was afterwards conceded. They attended the meeting, at which it was determined to ask for this advance, and, so to speak, took a lead of the proceedings whereby it was secured, and it was merely a coincidence that they, and only they, were sent about their business at a time when there was an appearance ©f a falling off in trade.
With variations, that has been the experience of the union movement from the beginning down to- the present day. Members of a trade, fearing injustice, invite their fellows to band together, and become their spokesmen, agitating for better conditions. This: at once brings upon them the wrath of their employers, because the improvement of working condi- tions and the increasing of wages means the corresponding curtailment of profits. Every device known to the human mind is practised to get rid of such men, coercion being used to drive them out of the industry. The Prime Minister, when he made his speech, .had been PostmasterGeneral in an Administration of which the present High- Commissioner was the head. Having worked in mines, the instance which he cited appealed to him directly.
– We should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.”]
– It is to be remembered that the Prime Minister, when he spoke, had had experience in the Old Country as well as in Australia, and knew the hardships to which unionists had been subjected in both parts of the world.
Dealing with the attitude of Australian capitalists, and to show why unionists should be more fully protected in Australia than in any other country, he said -
Having had experience of both countries, I venture to say that there is a difference between the capitalism of the Old Country and the capitalism of these Colonies. . . .
It seems to me that the difference in the capitalism in the two communities is largely one of temperament. In the Old Country there is still a lingering trace of the old spirit of noblesse, which has come down from feudal times. I am glad to say that it has not yet left tha capitalism of the Old Country. In these young countries most capitalists have had to force their way up from the ranks, and the process has developed a somewhat harder side to their natures. They have become what may be called professional capitalists.
From a remark recently made by the honorable gentleman, it would appear that he is now the spokesman for those capitalists. He pointed out that there was greater necessity for protection for the workmen in Australia by the expedient of preference to unionists than there was in the Old Country, because Australian employers, generally speaking, were a harder lot to deal with, and more given to desperate and inhuman measures, than those of whom he had spoken.
Now we come to the third point, when the Prime Minister answered the objections of employers to preference to unionists -
But now let ns see for a moment what this objection really is, and whether it is so formidable as it might appear in some quarters. I take up a criticism of the Bill by the Builders’ and Contractors’ Association, and here the objection is put in sentences.
Then he quoted the objections of the Employers Association as follows -
We also question the justice of imposing disabilities upon nine-tenths of the industrial community at the instance of the trade-union “tenth” in order that the majority of the employes may be coerced into joining trades unions or becoming industrial Ishmaelites.
That is the same old “ gag “ - for it cannot be called an argument - that is put forward by the employers to-day ; and the reply by the Prime Minister of 1900 is as applicable now as it was then. The honorable gentleman has never retracted those words; in fact, he has emphasized them by saying that he has never turned round on any of his principles.
He went on to deal with the question of free labour -
It is a recognised rule in unionist circles that unionists should not work with free labourers.
Yet the honorable gentleman is a party to a Bill which seeks to compel unionists to work with free labourers on the public works of the Commonwealth. He proceeded -
X know a great many people who will not agree with that. The reason why that takes place to-day is this : A free labourer is i regarded by the unionist as a menace to his wages, as a menace to his ‘ price. It is in order to secure his price that he has to sacrifice the free labourer. That is the reason why unionists very much object to work with free “labourers, because the free labourer is only used, as a rule, by the employer in order to coerce the unionist to accept conditions which the unionist dislikes. That being so, under this Bill the motive of the employer to employ free labour will be taken right away. The free labourer is never called into requisition at all, except in times of industrial trouble.
May I remind the honorable gentleman that he recently delivered himself in a speech before an organization which is, presided .over by that evil genius of the workers of Australia, one J. T. Packer. When the tramway employes at Ballarat were trying to obtain an increase of wage, which then stood at 30s. a week for married men, this Packer of this Liberal strike-breaking labour institute, wrote to the manager of the company to the effect that if the unionists were not prepared to work for wages the members of the organization were prepared to send men from Melbourne to do the work at the company’s price. Yet the Prime Minister honoured this organization with his presence, gave it his blessing, and sent it on its way rejoicing. The Prime Minister stated that those strike-breakers are never called into requisition except in times of industrial trouble, and there can be no excuse that he did not understand the position. Some honorable members opposite may not realize what it is for a man, with a wife and family, to be struggling on 30s. a week, and, when tie has banded with his fellows to obtain a few shillings more, to find, just as success is within his grasp, that some one else comes along and deprives him of it. The increase of wages would have meant more boots and more education for his children - would have meant bread and butter instead of bread and dripping - but all his efforts are rendered abortive by the free labourers. As I say, some honorable members opposite may not understand these matters, but that cannot be said of the Prime Minister, who realizes the ‘position perfectly well, and had it in his mind when he was speaking. He went on to say -
Man for man, it is a recognised rule that the trade unionist is at least the equal of the free labourer in ability at his work. Therefor£ it is not on account of superior workmanship that the free labourer is employed, but in order that he may be a menace to the unionist, who is employed for the time being, or in order to defeat him if he is out on strike.
The honorable gentleman tells us that the free labourer, whom this Bill has been introduced to placate, is not employed because he is the better workman, but for the express purpose of being a menace to unionists; and yet, as an employer of labour on behalf of the people of Australia, he now proposes - in fact, he ad,mits having already done so - to employ them, not because they give better value to the public, but because, by their means, he can help them to break down unionism as employers generally are trying to break it down.
– And to get cheap labour.
– Quite so. The honorable gentleman went on to say -
As this Bill is going to stop strikes, there will be no further motive ob the part of the employer to take the free labourer under his protecting care.
We have an Arbitration Court which is presided over by one of the Judges of the High Court, and it has absolute jurisdiction over the public works of the Commonwealth. If there is no need for this discrimination of favour of unionists when there is an Arbitration Court to settle matters, surely, on the honorable gentleman’s own argument, there is no need for him to do by this Bill what the Government have already done, namely, encourage those who object to workmen’s organizations. He went on -
I should like’ to say, as the result of long experience in these matters, that if honorable gentlemen will think for a moment what is the object of the free labourer, and the effect of the free labourer upon the condition of the unionist, they will see a very good ground for dislike on the part of the unionist to the free labourer.
The Prime Minister has been sitting in his place while I have quoted his own speeches and expressions of opinion, and no denial has come from him. We know that, as a rule, if the Prime Minister objects to any statements regarding him, he uses his privilege freely. He sits there interjecting every two or three minutes to contradict statements that may be put forward, tut he, has never stood up in the House and contradicted the speeches I have quoted.
I now wish to refer to the question of freedom of contract. The Prime Minister is now connected with a party who bandy about the sacred name of liberty, and the following reply of his to an argument based on that old sentiment, is very appropriate at the present time. He says-
We hear it in these words : that this Bill is an interference with liberty - an interference with the principle of freedom of contract. I often think that those gentlemen who make this objection must be very ignorant of our industrial history. They must be very ignorant of the operations of tins principle of the freedom of contract when they claim for it so many virtues and so many advantages. The industrial history of this, and every other country, shows that masquerading under this principle of freedom of contract has been some of the most ghastly and horrible slavery that this or any other country has ever known. Go to the beginning of this century and read there a picture of the operation of this principle cf freedom of contract. I have here a volume entitled Industry in England, by Mr. H. de B. Gibbins. Any one who will take the trouble to read this book will, I think, for ever after be very careful as to how he uses that phrase, “ freedom of contract.’* We are not here, I take it, to mouth shibboleths either of liberty or protection or anything else. We are here to investigate facts, and to see the bearing of them, and they are facts in the industrial life of this country.
The honorable gentleman, who is seeking to return to the old principle of freedom of contract, under which the employer shall be free to choose non-unionists as against unionists, here states that that principle has been responsible for some
Mr. J, B. Catts. of the most ghastly tragedies in the industrial life of the Empire. His words are as true to-day as they were when uttered in 1900. He went on to picture how employers with freedom of contract, treated little girls in England in the factories, and he quoted the speech of a member of the British House of Commons as follows: -
Our ancestors could not have supposed it possible - posterity will not believe it true - that a generation of Englishmen could exist, or had existed, that would work lisping infancy of a few summers old, regardless alike of its smiles or tears, and unmoved by its unresisting weakness, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, sixteen hours a day, and through the weary night also, till, in the dewy morn of existence, the bud of youth was faded, and fell ere it was unfolded. . . .
Here is a picture put forward by our present Prime Minister of the treatment employers will mete out to tiny toddling girls in their lisping infancy.
– Does he say that he was misreported ?
– No; and when the speech is quoted in his presence he walks out of the chamber. He does not like to be reminded of these convictions of his, which, I venture to say, are just as much his convictions to-day as they were on the day they were uttered. The Prime Minister may have changed his position, but he has not changed his convictions on the matter. It is absolutely impossible for a man in the maturity of His manhood, after having been for many years in public life, to put forward opinions of this description which are not his real opinions. To imagine that a man would do that sort of thing is to have an opinion of him that I would not like to describe. Then the Prime Minister proceeds as to the work of these girls on the night shifts in the factories of England. He says - . . Then, in order to keep them awake, to stimulate their exertions, means are made use of which I shall now advert, as a last instance of the degradation to which this system has reduced the manufacturing operatives of this country. Children are beaten with thongs, prepared for the purpose. Yes; the females of this country, no matter whether children or grown up - and I hardly know which is the more disgusting outrage - are beaten, beaten in your free market of labour, as you term it, like slaves. The poor wretch is flogged before its companions - flogged, I say, like a dog, by the tyrant overlooker. We speak with execration of the cart whip of the West Indies; but let us see this night an equal feeling rise against the factory thong in England.
The Prime Minister to-day is not advocating this principle of freedom of. contract with his lips, but he is the head of & Government which puts up a man like the Attorney-General to advocate the principle, and when the bell rings he will come in and record his vote in favour of it, knowing perfectly well that he does not believe in it.
Taunts have been hurled at members of the Opposition for discussing matters at a party meeting, and coming into the House, and voting in accordance with the decision of the majority at the party meeting; but was there ever such an instance of an honorable member subordinating his conscience on matters of principle, and recording his vote in favour of a principle against which he has given such utterances ?
– I wonder if the AttorneyGeneral Kas an iron collar on him. You know that he said he put an iron collar on us.
– The AttorneyGeneral never advocated opinions- like this, and went back on them. He has never associated with the people who advocate these opinions. He has always been associated with that class in the community who stand for the very evils the present Prime Minister was attacking.
The Prime Minister, in his speech, proceeded to quote an authority on industrial matters, Richard Oastler, as follows -
I am quoting this as a perfect picture r.f freedom of contract - the shibboleth which is being mouthed to-day by all employers-
Apparently, he has not forgotten the picturesque language he adopted some years ago, judging by our recent experiences of the honorable member in this House - and I cannot but believe that those who mouth it so fully must be very ignorant of what is meant in its full operation at the beginning of this century. I will tell you what I have seen.
Will honorable members just imagine the pathos of this statement -
Take a little female captive, six or seven years old; she shall rise from her bed at 4 o’clock in the morning of a cold winter day, but before she rises she wakes, perhaps, halfadozen times, and says, “ Father, is it time ? Father, is it time?” And at last, when she gets up and puts her little bits of rags upon her weary limbs- weary yet by the last day’s work - she leaves her parents in their bed, for their labour - if they have any - is not required so early. She trudges alone through rain, and snow, and mire, and darkness, to the mill, and there for thirteen, fourteen, sixteen, seventeen, or even eighteen hours, is she obliged to work, with only thirty minutes’ interval for meals and play. Homeward again at night she would go, when she was able, but many a time she hid herself in the wool in the mill, as she had not strength to go. And if she were one moment behind the appointed time, if the bell had ceased to ring when she arrived with trembling, shivering, weary limbs at the factory door, there stood a monster in human form, and as she passed he lashed her. This, he continued, holding up an overlooker’s strap, is no fiction. It was hard at work in this town last week. The girl I am speaking of died; but she dragged on that dreadful existence for several years.
The Prime Minister was answering those who seek for freedom of contract, which principle, if operative, this Bill would concede. We know perfectly well that what the Bill purports to deal with was put into operation by the Government twelve months ago, so that the measure will not effect anything. At the same time the Prime Minister cannot escape his responsibility for the principle involved in it, and last year in their policy programme the Government indicated that they were prepared to put it into operation, as far as the Commonwealth has jurisdiction, in regard to the whole of the industries of Australia. However, they probably thought that this general application of the principle of freedom of contract was too big an undertaking, and that it would not act with the public of Australia, and they thought that they had better try the public with a small dose of it before going on with the full measure, so they have given us a little dose of it in this Bill. They have put it into operation only in regard to the day-labour system in the Commonwealth service. They think that this will satisfy the employers, and bring them to heel when the Liberals are out to light, and that it will open the financial chests of the monopolistic cliques of Australia on their behalf; and if they get back into power they will revert to the full principle referred to in their programme of last year, which apparently has been abandoned for this Bill, which, though milder in its declaration, still commits them to the principle. The
Prime Minister also quoted another great authority on this question. He said -
We cannot do better than refer to an authority which is more frequently quoted by the opponents of this measure than perhaps any other - an authority whom they nearly always regard as being on their side. I refer to John Stuart Mill. I am going to quote a few sentences from his essay on liberty. Whatever other people may say of John Stuart Mill, I disagree with him in many of his statements; but I recognise in him one* of the clearest and most profound thinkers on these questions that our race has ever produced. This is what John Stuart Mill says : “ The object of this essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force, in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion.
That principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty_ of action of any of their number is self- protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
Then he adds his comment, and says -
That quotation from John Stuart Mill correctly describes the principle operating under this Bill.
He was there referring to the principle of preference to unionists being included in the Arbitration Bill introduced in the New South “Wales Legislative Assembly. The Prime Minister had made a study of these authorities. Not only had he practical experience of how the matter affected the workmen, but he had also read the great industrial authorities for and against preference to unionists, and he was giving voice to his matured convictions after his practical experience and years of studying the question.
Now I come to the question of the Judge exercising judicial preference; that is, if, on a plaint being referred to the Arbitration Court presided over by a High Court’ Judge, upon the evidence produced, the Judge thinks that it “would be in the interests of the whole community if he granted preference to unionists, he may do so. This principle was embodied in the Bill that the Prime Minister was discussing when he was a member of the New South Wales Assembly, and his remarks are very much to the point, because, in the Commonwealth Act, the discretion is left to the President of the Arbitration Court, who is a Judge of the
Mr. J. JET. Catts.
High Court, and this Bill, so far as it has any operative effect, seeks to withdraw part of the jurisdiction of the Court in this matter. This is what the Prime Minister had to say about it -
We commit millions of pounds’ worth of pro- .perty to the disposal of our Judges every day.. All over the world the Courts of Law determine the conditions of families and of estates, and it seems to me that we should not hesitateabout committing trade disputes to the arbitration of a Court in regard to which we have the highest guarantees to assure us that theCourt will be what we say it will be. We commit these material interests to the hands of men to whom w.e are content to commit the issues of life and death.
Our High Court Judges have committed to their care issues of life and death. If one of our citizens is tried for his life there is an appeal from every Supreme Court to the High Court, and the Judge of the Arbitration Court can therefore sit in the High Court and decide questions of life and death. The present Prime Minister argued on these grounds- - that the Judge presiding in the Arbitration Court might safely be intrusted with the exercise of his discretion on the evidence on a question of preference to unionists, but this Bill asserts the bad principle that, though a Judge might safely be allowed to exercise this immense jurisdiction over the lives of citizens, he is not to be intrusted to decide whether preference to unionists should be granted in day-labour works under the Commonwealth. Then he proceeded to say on the same question -
Now you can say anything you like about; what is possible under this Bill; but when yourefer a matter to the decision of a Judge, whatever you may think of the opinion he mayhold, it is assumed that he is competent to give a decision. But every one of these casescited presupposes that the Judge is going tobe a fool, and not an ordinarily intelligent man. Is not the very reason of inquiry to enable the Judge to find out what is themeasure of justice in the claim of either side ?
We have had Mr. Justice Higgins presiding over the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It has been said in some quartersthat this Judge has been very sympathetic with claims put forward by the workmen ; but there has been no single instance that I can call to mind’ since he has been presiding over that Court, in which he has ordered judicial’ preference to unionists. In every casewhere claims have been filed in the Arbitration Court the union has claimed pre- ference to unionists ; but this Judge, who according to the Prime Minister, is not to be trusted to hear evidence as to whether preference to unionists shall be granted on works under the Commonwealth Government, has never in the history of the Court, since 1905, awarded preference to unionists on the evidence put forward.
An Honorable Member. - He did so in the Brisbane tramway case.
– I must correct myself to that extent; I remember the instance mentioned. In the Brisbane tramway case the Judge did not, in the first instance, award preference to unionists; he said, “I do not wish to interfere with . the employers in their choice of their workmen, but if I find that the men are being victimized, the union may come back to me, and I shall be compelled to award preference to unionists.” True to the instincts of that type of employer, the manager of the Brisbane Tramway Company did go in for wholesale victimization of the men. who had banded themselves together to better the conditions of themselves and their fellow-workmen, and then, only then, did the Court say that, in order to stop such tyranny and prevent the employers from evading the decision of the Judge in regard to the conditions of labour, ho was compelled to give a preference that would protect unionists. That was a case in which the tramway company were doing what the Prime Minister has described in the speech I have quoted, when he spoke of the half-dozen miners banding themselves together to advance the interests of themselves and their class; but through some flimsy pretext of a falling-off in trade, the men who had taken leading parts in the union were sacked. Preference to unionists is to prevent victimization of that kind; and in the tramway case the Judge was obliged to give preference to unionists, in order to protect the men against the employer. If the number of workmen concerned was to be totalled up, it would probably be found that the President of the Arbitration Court delivered awards which governed the working conditions of at least a quarter-of-a-million of workmen, and the only instance in which he awarded preference to unionists was in connexion with the employment of two or three thousand men.
The next point I wish to deal with is what unionism has done for workmen and for the community generally; and on this point the Prime Minister was no less emphatic. He adduced arguments why workmen’s organizations should be encouraged, and why their members should get preference over those who did not subscribe to the upkeep of the union. The honorable member argued that, in the interests of the whole community, such organizations should be encouraged, and to afford that encouragement it was necessary to give to them preference in their employment, so as to encourage other men to join the unions, which were a boon to society, and were making it possible for the workers to live on a higher plane of civilization than before. This is what the honorable member said -
It is generally recognised to-day, I think, by all intelligent men, that nearly’ all that has come to labour by way of advancement has been per medium of these organizations. One can readily understand the feeling of the unionist when engaged in a dispute in defence of the privileges he already enjoys, and which he has hardly won by many years of arduous toil, when a man is brought into the arena to try and wrest those privileges from him. The free labourers, in these unionist centres at any rate, step in to reap where they have not sown. It is that feeling which gives rise to hostility on the part of the unionist.
Then the honorable member developed the case he was making out for the protection of unions and unionists.
I venture to say, that upon the merits of the case alone, the Bill does right to give a preference to the trades unionist. I have already said that in my judgment trades unions have done more for the workers than, perhaps, all the other influences which operate to advance our civilization put together. That is not my opinion only; it is the opinion of those who have studied the question deeply, and who are in a sphere which enables them to detach themselves from the influences which operate with those who have had anything to do with these troubles. It is their opinion that trades unions have done a great deal of good to the country at large. Almost the last speech that Mr. Gladstone delivered before he died furnished an opportunity for a statement of this kind.
Continuing, the honorable gentleman quoted this statement by Gladstone -
I believe the trades unions of the world are the bulwarks of our modern Democracy. “ That,” said the Prime Minister, “ is Mr. Gladstone’s deliberate opinion in almost the last speech he delivered.” And then the honorable member, giving evidence of his research and study, quoted Thorold Rogers. He said -
Thorold Rogerswill be admitted to be one of the clearest-headed men we have who has ever investigated this subject. He says -
The public is profoundly interested in the efficiency and independence of the working man. By the former, the industrial success of the country is guaranteed and secured. In the latter lies the only hope that we shall be ever able to realize in our day what the trade guilds of the middle ages aimed at,. and in some direction unquestionably secured. . . The trades unions of London and other large towns do not, perhaps, exercise the moral discipline over their members which they might do if their fellows more generally enlisted in the system, and they will do as they get stronger and better informed, but I am abundantly convinced that the trade unionists in England include in their numbers the most intelligent, conscientious and valuable of the working men.
That is Thorold Rogers’ view of trades unionists. He says -
I confess to. having at one time viewed them suspiciously. A long study ofthe history of labour has convinced me that they are not only the best friends of the workman, but the best agency for the employer and the public, and that, to the extension of these associations, political economists and statesmen must look for the solution of some among the most pressing and the most difficult problems of our own time. I shall hope to show this after I have dealt with the facts of the present situation.
Those are the opinions of writers who have studied these questions deeply, and therefore, it seems to me, to be but a just recognition of the work of trade unionists and, apart altogether from its incidental bearing upon the Bill, that this preference to trade organizations should be given.
We have seen cases in some unions in Australia where a minority of the organization has refused to abide by the majority’s decision.’ There have been cases in which there has been a decision by the union that work should be continued during some industrial friction; but a minority of members have broken away, and thrown the industry into chaos and strife. In order that organizations might be able to exercise discipline over a minority that broke away and caused industrial unrest, when the majority of workmen in the industry desired that further opportunity should be given for a peaceful settlement, the Prime Minister argued that there should be encouragement to men to join the organizations. He contended that when industrial trouble loomed on the horizon, men who were not members of a union should be encouraged to join, so that the discipline of the leaders of the organization might be exercised openly, and so that disputes might be settled in a constitutional and peaceful manner. Preference should be the encouragement given to bring about industrial peace and the settlement of these disastrous troubles by reference to the Law Courts of the land.
The honorable gentleman has made one effort to extricate himself from the position in which he finds himself. On 10th June, 1912, he went to Lithgow, the district which first returned him to Parliament, and in the course of a speech which he made, some questions were raised in regard to preference to unionists, and as to whether he had altered his opinion. The honorable gentleman replied, “ Oh, no, I have not altered my opinion. My opinion is what it was before; but other people with whom I was associated have altered their opinion. It is they who have done the jumping round.” That statement fastens upon the honorable gentleman the holding of these opinions from 1900 to 1912.
When pressed to state in what way the others had done the jumping round of which he spoke, he said that he believed in preference to unionists before the unions took part in politics - when they were purely industrial organizations - but since they were taking political action to secure the objects for which they were banded together, he now objected to preference.
Before exploding that excuse, mayI say that almost every object of a trade union is to-day the subjectmatter of political action? The workers band together to secure the payment of a minimum wage, a shorter working day, the provision of devices to protect them when working amongst machinery, better sanitary conditions, more breathing space, and separate lavatories in factories for male and female workers, compensation in case of accident, and so forth. Almost every object aimed at by a union, as something to be gained by organization, is the subject of political action. Surely if men are banded together and are paying in to their union a few pence a week to attain these objects, that fact should not debar them from securing preference. It might be necessary, for instance, for a union in Western Australia to send a deputation to the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General in Melbourne, to ask for an amendment of the navigation law, so as to provide for compensation to seamen injured in the discharge of their, duties. But the very moment that they spent money in sending that deputation here it would be said that they .were taking political action, and were to be put upon straight away. That, according to the Prime Min,ister, would be an evil. According to his argument - if it be an argument - the men should go out on strike, throw the whole industrial community into a state of turmoil, and rely only on brute strength in fighting out the issue. They must not take constitutional measures to remedy their grievances.
As a matter of fact, I can knock away that prop on which the Prime Minister is relying. I find that he himself, when secretary of the Miners’ Union at Lithgow, convened a meeting of the unions in the district, and proposed that they should combine to secure the re-“ turn of members of Parliament. I quoted the honorable gentleman’s letter a few days ago, and now that I am linking him up with this question, it may not be out of place to quote it once more. It shows that the Prime Minister was in favour of preference to unionists at a time when unionists were taking political action. It is the last proof that need be given of his support of the principle. I have shown that he argued in favour of it in 1900, that in 1912 he said that he had not shifted from his original position, that he believed in preference to unionists when the organization was for industrial purposes and not for political action, and now, by quoting this letter, I shall show that he invited the unions of the Lithgow district to join with him in taking political action to return members to Parliament. The letter is as follows: -
Having regard to a communication which recently appeared in the daily press purporting to have been written by the secretary of the Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association to the Trades and Labour Council, suggesting the fusion of the Labour forces of the district, with a view to returning a representative to Parliament whose sympathies should be entirely with the worker, I am directed by my delegate board to submit for your consideration the following proposition : - That two (2) representatives from each Labour organization of the Hartley district meet, at a time and place to be hereafter arranged, for the purpose of taking the necessary steps for the return of a Labour candidate at the next general election.
The need for this has been emphasized by the unsympathetic, and actively hostile attitude assumed, by our present member throughout the long and wasting strike, in the midst of which our own organization is plunged at the present time. During the present crisis, Mr. Hurley has not failed whenever the opportunity presented itself to declaim against the tyranny and unrighteousness of the methods of our procedure, as well as having gone out of his way to be brutally offensive towards those members upon whom only we can rely to furnish us with the means of voicing our complaints in the Parliament of the country. Not only so, but very recently Mr. Hurley gave expression to words in the House which can only be construed as containing a direct challenge to the Labour organizations of this district. Furthermore, since the commencement of the present struggle Mr. Hurley has never evinced the slightest desire to help in any ‘way those of his constituents and supporters whose fortunes have been so adversely affected by the continuance of the strike, and, indeed, has shown in every possible way and manner the strong sympathy with those who in this struggle must be regarded as the opponents of trade unionism. In view, therefore, ‘of the unquestionable attitude taken up by Mr. Hurley with respect to the progressive developments of the Labour forces of this colony, my Board is anxious to express its cordial agreement with the action taken by the Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association, and urge the earnest consideration of the above proposition as the best means of giving effect to that sympathy which exists amongst the various workers of the Colony, and which can only find fitting expression in that unity of action which shall secure to us direct representation in the Parliament of this Colony.
Hoping you will give the matter your best attention, and do me the favour of an early reply. (Sgd.) Jos. COOK’
Miners’ General Secretary.
In the face of all these arguments by the honorable gentleman in favour of preference to unionists, he puts up a colleague to move the motion for leave to introduce the Bill, the motion for its second reading, the motion for its third reading - in fact, to watch the Bill in the interests of the Government. The Bill has already been before the House, but the Prime Minister has not said a word on it. He has not said a word in the present debate, though he has had any number of opportunities to speak, and I venture to say that he will not speak a word.
– Because he knows that he cannot go back upon his opinions as reported here, although he can vote in opposition to them when the hell rings. In view of these statements, which I hope we shall have an opportunity of presenting to the public from every platform, I venture to say that the Government are not trying to deal with legislation which is for the benefit of the country. They are trying to make out that there is obstruction on this side because we do not propose to treat this as a measure designed to benefit the country in any way. I venture to say that if ever this matter does go to the country, and we submit the views of the Prime Minister, the doom of the Government will be cast, and the result will be their overthrow, and the return to the Treasury bench of the party which, for the previous three years, did more in nation building work than all preceding Governments haddone.
In view of the opinions of the Prime Minister, I submit that we ought to have further investigation before this question becomes the subjectmatter of a Bill. The question ought to be referred to a Select Committee, who should have the opportunity of putting the Bible in the hands of the Prime Minister and finding out on oath whether the man, who is claimed by the party opposite to have sufficient political wisdom to lead them and this country, really believes that the Bill to be brought before the House is one designed to serve the best interests of Australia.
.- I desire to make a few observations on the amendment, sir; but as I have a few important words to say, I ask you’ to get me a full House. [Quorum formed.] The proposal to refer the Bill to a Select Committee is, to my mind, a brilliant idea, because a Select Committee could inquire whether there is any sincerity about the suggestion of the Attorney-General and his satellites that we are afraid to go to the country, and that they are not. I noticed that, on Monday night, the AttorneyGeneral went down to the place called Sandringham, and said in a speech he made that he was putting an iron collar on certain people. It was not very complimentary on his part to suggest that this party is a dog. He said that naturally the hand that put on the collar, being the nearest, was the hand that was bitten. Of course we know that he is a very elegant gentleman, who always uses very elegant language, and sometimes adopts very elegant metaphor. But on this amendment I shall not be able to deal with that matter, and shall have to refer to it at another stage. The honorable gentleman said, “ I am against preference of any kind, judicial or other,” That, no doubt, expressed his feelings. It also expressed, I suppose, the feelings of the Tories who are associated with them. I think that a Select Committee, if appointed, might very wisely devote their attention to a consideration of the judicial powers of the High Court with reference to this very subject.
– How would it do to send it to the Inter-State Commission?
– I would be quite willing to send the matter to the Inter-State Commission if it could be done, and let them hand over the Tariff to this Parliament, if the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral prefer it. By the way, the other evening, the latter, because I said he was the ap-o-the-o-sis of equity and justice, laughed. He said that he did not understand that term.
– Oh, no; I did not understand your application of the word.
– Perhaps I misunderstood the honorable member. However, I will pass that.
– If a man sees agood word in the dictionary, he is bound to use it..
– I have not used the word for some years, and when the AttorneyGeneral laughed I was for a moment puzzled. When a schoolmaster laughed at my pronunciation of a word, I thought naturally that I was wrong, but I find that, as a matter of fact, all the modern dictionaries give the pronunciation I used.
– I did not for a moment refer to your pronunciation of the word, but to your application of it.
– I am glad to hear it. The women of the Australian National League say, “ What a fine man the AttorneyGeneral is!” I have been wondering during the last day or two where he got his reputation for grit, go, and gumption. I suppose that somebody has observed him at a picnic of the Women’s National League when he was in a very frisky mood.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to address himself to the amendment.
– All right, sir; I shall leave that subject. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was passed through this House with the assistance of the Prime Minister, and as he did not vote on clause 40, we must, I suppose, give him credit for believing in the principle upon which it is founded. That clause, which is now section 40 of the Act, provides that - ‘
The Court, by its award, or by order made on the application of any organization or person bound by the award, may direct that as between members of organizations of employers or employes (not being sons or daughters of employers) offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall, in such manner as is specified m the award or order, be given to such members, other things being equal.
– I was away ill when the first Bill was under consideration.
– I presume that, had the Prime Minister been here, he would have voted against this provision for preference to unionists. The honorable gentleman does not answer.
– Did he pair on the clause ?
– No; he took no part in a division. The proposed Select Committee could inquire whether the conciliation and arbitration law has been a failure, and what are its defects, if any. It could ascertain whether there is any reason why that great Judge who presides over the Arbitration Court should not be permitted to exercise the powers given to him by the Statute. ° Mr. Justice Higgins has done a great deal for Australia, and long after he has passed away his name will be quoted here as that of Mr. Justice Marshall is quoted in the United States of America.
– Mr. Justice Higgins is already quoted in America.
– Yes. His dictum that an industry must pay a living wage, which must be such as will enable a man to marry and bring up a family in comfort, will, before many years have passed, be accepted in all civilized countries.
– The AttorneyGeneral’s name will also live.
– Yes. Judge Jeffreys’ name lives, too. When the AttorneyGeneral applies epithets to us, we are at liberty to give him some of his own medicine. The President of the Arbitration Court has made some eighteen awards, and about 250 agreements for the settlement of disputes have been filled. The captains, officers, stewards, cooks, pantrymen, engineers, firemen, and seamen, in fact, all employed on Australian coastal steamers, are now working under agreements and awards made in the Court. These agreements have been faithfully kept, and appear to have given satisfaction to employers and employes alike. I suppose that the time will come when we shall have a Commonwealth line of steam-ships.
– To take some of the beef out of the country?
– Perhaps to carry to London, when the Australian consumers have been supplied, some of the fruit grown in the Prime Minister’s orchard.
– Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the amendment ?
– When we have a Commonwealth line of steam-ships, I hope that this Parliament, if the Court decides that in manning the vessels preference shall be given to men who are unionists, will support that decision. If, in these modern times, when the schoolmaster has been so much abroad that every one has received some education, the seamen,, stewards, cooks, deck hands, engineers,, and others employed on steamers, have nob learned the benefits of unionism, they should be taught by having a man at the head of the gangway who will say, “ You cannot come aboard to join the crew of this vessel unless you first join and pay your subscription to a union.” The members of the Women’s National League who come here, if they come here often enough, will see that that is the correct view to take. The proposed Select* Committee might well consider that aspect, of the question. Awards have been given by the Arbitration Court covering the employment of shearers and shed hands. They have been in operation for over fiveyears, and have brought peace to an industry in which for many years therewas strife. Indeed, at one time in> Queensland there was talk of armed rebellion, because no settlement could bearrived at in a dispute between pastoralists and shearers and shed hands. What objection can there be to giving preference to shearers and shed hands?” I do not know that the Commonwealth will ever run a station property or ranch* to use the term employed in other parts of” the world, but in the Northern Territory we shall probably be breeding horses. It would be a good thing to inquire, from that point of view, whether the view taken by the Attorney-General that there should be no preference, judicial or other, is right. There has been an award given dealing with fruit pickers and packers at Mildura andRenmark. There were innumerable strikes there, whereby tons of raisins were lost, but the award brought peace to the industry. I would suggest that the Select Committee should go to Mildura and make inquiries as to whether there would be any danger in giving preference to unionists in that place. There was also the award in Broken Hill and Port Pirie, and the boot trade award. These are working very smoothly and satisfactorily. The President’s principle of finding the unskilled minimum wage, founded on the normal requirements of a man, wife, and three children has been adopted all over Australia, and, I read, in several countries in Europe and America. I do not know that we can ask the Select Committee to go to Europe and America to ascertain whether there would be any objection to preference to unionists.
– Why not?
– If the Attorney-General and Prime Minister, and some few of the Tories-
– I am not feeling very well myself.
– I do not wonder at it, but the honorable member should not allow the Attorney-General to direct the operations of the Ministry.
– What am I to do? I cannot help it.
– The attitude of the AttorneyGeneral is, “ If you do not do what I say I will burst up your Liberal party.” If I were Prime Minister I would let him go. No doubt another Conservative could be returned for his constituency.
– I must ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the subject before the Chair.
– I take great exception to the class character of the Bill. I want the Select Committee to inquire if this is the same Bill that was introduced last year. We have not been told yet that it is. If it is, I am against it. I want the Committee to investigate this part of it: “No preference or discrimination shall be made for or against any person in relation to any employment by the Commonwealth or any Department or authority thereof on account of his membership or non-membership of any political or industrial association.” The AttorneyGeneral, the dignified embodiment of equity and justice on the public platform, when the Women’s National League are sitting there worshipping him, said that he had no objection to lawyers being brought under the Bill. I want the Select Committee to find out why. I should put him in the witness-box, on his oath, and ask him why he has left the lawyers out of the Bill. A year ago I asked him this very question, and he said, “ I can assure the honorable member that the provisions of the measure will apply to the members of the legal profession as well as to members of other professions,” and I believe that that was his intention at first.
– He has done it.
– He has not, and he knows it. Why has he not carried out his promise? A few evenings ago I asked, “ Why does not the Bill apply to the professional classes?” and the AttorneyGeneral said, “ It does; we are an organization, and it applies to us.” The AttorneyGeneral is surely too good a lawyer to make a mistake like that. The Bill refers to members of an industrial or political association. As the honorable member for for Bendigo said the other night the Bar Council is.no doubt a very industrious body, but it is not an industrial organization.
– How do you define “industrial”?
– The honorable member knows that the High Court would simply dismiss them. The honorable member will ask me questions, but he does not contend that a member of the Bar Council is a member of an industrial organization.
– Why not? I want light thrown on the subject.
– The honorable member wants a good deal more light than he thinks he does. Unfortunately, I am not permitted to charge him 6s. 8d. for my advice. Some day I shall move that all members of Parliament be entitled to appear before the High Court. We shall see if the Attorney-General is in favour of preference to unionists then.
– I do not think it would do us much harm.
– That interjection shows that the honorable member is not given to pray, as Bobby Burns did, “ The Lord gie us a guid conceit o’ oursels.” If it is fair to put the lawyers in the Bill, why has not the Attorney-General done so ? Why has he his eye on the working classes all the time? I said the other night that he hated them, but I believe he loves them so much that he could eat them without salt. The Attorney-General thinks this Bill a grand piece of electioneering. The Select Committee might inquire whether there is any real value in this so-called test measure. I do not believe that the people will be misled into voting against the great Australian national Labour party, when they discover that the Bill is directed mainly against the people who earn their wages by manual or semi-manual labour. I also want the Select Committee togo through the High Court rules, and through the law concerning the High Court, which empowers the Judges to make rules regarding the barristers and solicitors who may appear before them, and to fix the fees that shall be paid to them. All this goes to show that the lawyers’ union is one of the strongest in the world.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral still say that the Bill will apply to the members of the legal profession?
– He will not answer my question, but asks me for a definition of an industrial association.
– We shall have to get the High Court definition of an industry.
– The High Court definition of an industry would not include barristers.
– Would it not? Why not?
– Will the AttorneyGeneral say that his proposed Bill covers the lawyers ?
– I think so. None of us can say until the matter comes to be decided by the, Courts.
– Will the honorable gentleman have any objection to put the word “ lawyers “ into the Bill ?
– No suggestion has ever been made that there is such a thing as Government preference to lawyers.
– I have suggested it myself, and other people have suggested it. No one else can get preference. What occurred in Victoria only the other day? Mr. Justice Hodges, I think it was, was trying a case, and a barrister came into Court without having his brief marked. The Judge said, “ Why have you done this thing? A brief ought to be marked before a lawyer comes into Court with it.”
– Is not that quite right ?
– I believe it is.
– Do you know the reason for it? -
– I think I do.
– What is it?
– I am not in the witnessbox now, and the honorable gentleman will permit me to continue my speech in my own way.
– I hope the honorable member will tell me, because I do not know.
– I believe that one reason is that a lawyer might go into Court with an understanding that if he won he was to get some money, and if he lost he should get nothing. The AttorneyGeneral is not listening’ now.
– Yes, and I think the honorable member has given the reason.
– The honorable gentleman did not think that I knew it. The object is to prevent litigation, and to prevent gambling in the Courts. If the AttorneyGeneral is now satisfied that I know something about the matter, I may proceed to the next point.
– The honorable member was setting it up as an awful example, and he now admits that it is a very proper practice.
– I say that it is a very proper practice for a lawyers’ union. The Attorney-General argues that lawyers get no preference, and I say that they are given preference by the Courts.
– Because no non-union lawyer is allowed to appear before the Court.
– No non-licensed chemist is allowed to sell drugs, and no non-licensed cabman is allowed to carry passengers.
– It is quite right that no quack chemist or quack doctor should be allowed to practise. It is for the benefit of the public that there should be unions, but that is what the AttorneyGeneral cannot see. While it is for the benefit of the general public that there should be unions of lawyers, medical men, architects, and so on, it is for the benefit of civilization that there should be unions of carpenters, plumbers, labourers, and others.
– Is the honorable member in favour of compulsory unionism for carpenters?
– I will not allow the AttorneyGeneral to cross-examine me. He is trying to get me off the point, which is that lawyers at present are given preference by the Court. If the lawyer whom Mr. Justice Hodges lectured in Court the other day was expelled from the union by the Bar Council, and applied to the Attorney-General for employment, the honorable gentleman, would not give him any. He would say, “ You are not a member of the union, sir, and we give preference to unionists.” But we have the Attorney-General’s own case. He is a very strong unionist, and a thorough believer in unionism so long as it applies to the legal profession.
– I am in favour of unionism in every form.
– So much in favour of unionism is the honorable gentleman that he will not meet one of his own colleagues in Court. I believe that the Hon. Patrick Glynn is quite qualified, but owing to some difference of opinion on the subject of the rules of the union–
– Mr. Glynn is a solicitor as well as a barrister.
– Owing to this difference of opinion the Attorney-General would not work with his colleague in the Court.
– Unfortunately for tlie honorable member he is a little inaccurate, because I have appeared in Court several times with the honorable gentleman referred to.
– I am quite willing to withdraw my statement if I have been misinformed. I was informed that the Attorney-General would not act with the Hon. Mr. Glynn as a barrister except in certain cases.
– Except on constitutional questions before the High Court
– Will the AttorneyGeneral say whether that is correct?
-Order ! The honorable member is not in order in asking the question.
-Very well, sir, I shall, not press the point. Wherever we turn we find these unions, and I should like a Select Committee to inquire whether there would be any disadvantage to the legal profession in granting preference to unionists; whether there would be anything disastrous to civilization in giving preference to medical men who might come up for employment in the Commonwealth Public Service; and whether there would be anything detrimental in granting preference to architects. We shall be requiring the services of architects in connexion with the Federal Capital, and I think that preference should be given to the union architect. I am sure that the honorable member for Kooyong, who is another union lawyer, will agree that that would be quite right. It is strange that the honorable member should be found voting for an anti-preference to unionists Bill. I do not know what is coming over the so-called Liberal party when they allow themselves to be run by the Tories, with the Attorney-General at their head. I want a Select Committee to make inquiries into the bona fides of a number of trade unions. Honorable members will no doubt recollect that the Hon. King O’Malley, when Minister of Home Affairs, issued an edict, in which he said, “I find that we are only paying builders’ labourers 8s. 4d. per day. Pay them 9s. per day, and give preference to unionists.” I might have the builders’ labourers’ rules with me, but, if not, I could supply them to the Select Committee if it be appointed. I wish the Committee to inquire into the bona fides of the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Association. It is stated that it was formed sixty years ago, when carpenters were getting 4s. 6d. a day. I find that it is claimed that the association has paid no less than £3,250,000 in benefits.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– This association claims to have expended £3,250,000 in sick, un- - employed, accident, superannuation, funeral, and trade benefits, and its membership is more than 62,000. What are the entrance fees to this organization? They are 5s. per member, with contributions of ls. per week for full benefit members, and 4d. per week for trade benefit members. Now, is it not a fair thing to give preference to members of that organization who have raised wages from 4s. 6d. per day sixty years ago to what they are at the present time? Then let me take the case of the Australian Builders’ Labourers Association. The objects of that body are thus set out, “ To obtain and maintain reasonable hours of work and fair wages and conditions, to improve, protect, and foster the best interests of its members, to assist by just and equitable methods in the settlement of any differences which may arise between the members and their employers, to provide benefits to members when unable to work as the result of accident, and to establish a fund to carry out the foregoing objects.” Is there anything extravagant in the claims of that association? Let the proposed Select Committee ascertain. They will not find in the rules of that organization anything such as may be discovered in the rules of the High Court as to the fees which barristers may charge - they will find no twenty or twenty-five guineas per day, with ten-guinea refreshers. All that the Minister of Home Affairs did was to direct that these builders’ labourers should be paid 9s. per day, and that preference should be granted to unionists. The Attorney-General, ‘who is the idol of the society classes of Victoria, said, “ We will not permit you to have preference to unionists,” and the Prime Minister, whose opinions were quoted by the honorable member for Cook to-night, knows perfectly well what is the work of a labourer. He knows that these builders’ labourers who are associated together for these moral objects are entitled to preference at the hands of the Commonwealth.
– He knows that he ought to employ the best men in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– And the best men are to be found in the unions. Let the honorable member go to the Trades Hall in any city, and he will there meet men who are good tradesmen in their respective avocations. If the presidents, secretaries, and committees of these trade associations considered themselves only they would have no need to be members of a union at all. But they have some sympathy with their fellows, and with the wives and families of their fellows, and consequently they meet together, and form these trade unions. Surely the Government ought to help these men in the groundwork which they are performing by granting them preference in any employment which the Commonwealth has to offer. It is not a very great deal of employment, it is true. Some honorable member said that it embraces only 2,000 or 3,000 men in the Commonwealth. The AttorneyGeneral will doubtless tell the public that we wish to interfere with the Public Service Commissioner and the Public Service Act. But that Act contains many sections directing how persons shall gain admission to our Public Service. To do so, they must first pass certain examinations. They have to be able to read and write, to know something of arithmetic and geometry, and, in some cases, of French or German. The AttorneyGeneral and our opponents, with the aid of the daily press - and I wish to say here that I recognise some of the- excellencies of the daily press - will attempt to blind the people as to the true merits of the Bill which the Government wish to introduce. I would like to see a Select Committee appointed to inquire into this matter, because I believe that the evidence taken by such a body would find its way into the daily press and act as a counterblast to the speeches of the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister. I do not know whether I ought to occupy any further time in dealing with other trade associations. I hold in my “ hand the revised rules of the Amalgamated Coachmakers and the Rolling-stock and Wheelwrights Society of Victoria. By-and-by we shall be entering upon the railway business, and we shall have to employ wheelwrights and coachbuilders. Why should they not be granted a preference ? I read : ‘ ‘ The objects of this society shall be for the purspose of adopting such regulations from time to time as. will conduce to the benefits of members generally, to give support to its members when unemployed, to afford protection in cases of oppression, to assist them to obtain a fair remuneration for their labour, to abolish the system of piece-working, to use its influence in consolidating the system of working eight hours a day, to prevent any encroachment on the rights of the various trades, and for any purpose affecting the interests of members which the society may determine.” Will any honorable member opposite say that a union which has been formed to assist its members when unemployed should not get preference? Let the Select Committee which I desire to see appointed inquire into this matter. The Prime Minister should not object to that. I have read a speech which was delivered by him in his best Sunday afternoon clerical voice-
– Nasty !
– No, it is not. He has several voices. He has the voice of a lion sometimes, when he is attacking honorable members upon this side of the chamber,’ but at other times he coos like a dove. The honorable gentleman knows all about the unemployed, and my desire is to get him into the witness box, and ask what he meant the other day when he spoke about a man deteriorating every hour when he was unemployed.
– I thought we were discussing the question of preference?
– We are discussing the desirability of appointing a Select Committee to inquire into some of the honorable member’s speeches on the question. If I were a member of the Committee I should ask the honorable gentleman, “ Do you think that an organization like the Amalgamated Coachmakers, RollingStock, and Wheelwrights Society, which provides unemployment benefits, ought to receive preference at the hands of the Commonwealth?” That, I think, is a very fair question, and I now put it to the people of Victoria and of the Commonwealth. At present there is no comprehensive system in Australia for dealing with the unemployed. The Salvation Army may give food in return for certain work; and, under the circumstances, considering the poor response to the appeals for subscriptions, I suppose it is about the best that that body can do. But neither State nor Commonwealth afford any means of dealing with the unemployed, whereas the trade unions do.
– Will the honorable member deal with the amendment ?
– I desire that the proposed Committee should inquire into the bona fides of the society I have mentioned, and ascertain whether or not it ought to be given preference. Then, again, there is the Operative Bakers Society. I do not know that the Com monwealth is likely to employ bakers, although there is, I believe, a State bakery in New South Wales, which supplies bread to public institutions at1d. a pound.
– And gives short weight and bad bread !
– I am surprised that a New South Wales member should slander his fellow-citizens in that way.
– Will the honorable member address himself to the question ?
– The honorable member has suggested that the State Government of New South Wales are trying to poison hospital patients.
– The honorable member for Capricornia is not in order in replying to an irrelevant interjection.
– I am suggesting that the. proposed Select Committee might ascertain whether the operative bakers should have preference in the event of such men being employed by the Commonwealth. Further, the Committee might inquire as to the possibility of the Commonwealth entering into the drapery business, although I believe there is plenty of competition in that business now. The motto of the Shop Assistants Association is as follows -
For the cause that lacks assistance, For the wrongs that need resistance, For the future in the distance, And the good that we can do.
The objects of the association are thus set forth-
To educate its members to a high standard of commercial efficiency. To promote the interests of its members by fostering and promoting fraternal and sympathetic co-operation with each other. To obtain and maintain reasonable hours of work, fair wages, and conditions. The advancement of members, morally, socially, and intellectually.
– I call the honorable member’s attention to the terms of the amendment, and to the fact that his remarks do not appear to me to be in any way connected with the question before the Chair.
– I am offering material on which a Select Committee might work.
– The amendment does not provide scope for such remarks.
– If the Committee were appointed it would, I imagine, endeavour to ascertain whether it is feasible to carry out such a Bill if it were introduced and passed.
– Only in relation to Government employment.
– I shall leave the drapers’ assistants and deal with lift attendants. These latter follow a very humble, but, nevertheless, a very necessary occupation. There are lift attendants in the Government service, and honorable members might be surprised to learn that they are members of an association. We must be approaching the millennium when we find all these workers organized. The objects of the Lift Attendants Association are -
To obtain and maintain reasonable hours of work and fair rate of wage. To improve the industrial conditions and protect the interests of its members.
How unselfish all this is!
– I remind the honorable member that what he is quoting does not appear to have any connexion with the amendment.
– As there are not many lift attendants in the service of the Commonwealth, I shall leave that point; but I think it will be admitted that the “Federated .House and Ship Painters, Paperhangers and Decorators Association of Australia may reasonably come under the designation of Commonwealth employment. All this trouble has arisen out of the builders’ labourers being paid 9s. per day and preference to unionists being granted in the Department of Home Affairs. I want a Select Committee to inquire into the rules of the Federated House and Ship Painters, Paperhangers and Decorators Association, with a view to ascertaining to what extent its members should be granted preference. A great many carpenters are employed by the Commonwealth, and I would like a Select Committee to inquire whether the rules and objects of the Carpenters and Joiners Association are what they claim to be. If they are, the members of this association should get preference. The following are the objects of this association : -
The objects of this society arc to raise funds for the advancement, protection, and organization of the trade; to render legal assistance to members for the recovery of wages; and for the mutual support of its members in cases of sickness, accident, and superannuation; for the burial or cremation of members and their wives; for the loss of tools; for assistance to members out of work; and to assist (to a reasonable extent) any branch or district desirous of joining with other organized branches of trade with which our members are identified either in the ship or housebuilding industries, with a view to advancing the material conditions of the worker; also as directed in the following rules, to form a contingent fund, which shall be used for the purpose of granting assistance in cases of distress not otherwise provided for by these rules; to aid our own or any other organized trade to take legal proceedings under the Employers’ Liability Act and Workmen’s Compensation Act on behalf of members who may have been injured or met their death by accident in the British Isles and in countries where Acts of this description are in operation.
The assistance to recover wages is very necessary. Sometimes employers refuse to pay their men. A lot of people talk about the advantage of capital to labour, but the carpenter does his work before he gets his wages, and sometimes he does not get his wages. I believe that if a Select Committee inquired into the justification for leave to introduce a Bill of this character, they would decide that leave should not be given. Should a Committee go through the rules of the hundred and one organizations of employes in Australasia they would see that associations formed for such highly moral purposes are entitled to preference to unionists. I doubt if they would find anything hi the objects of the Bar Council of the nature of the humanitarian proposals to be found at the head of the rules of industrial organizations. If any one should get preference, it should not be legal members of the Bar Council, nor medical men, nor architects. It should be those men who have to use the plane and the saw, and the pick and the shovel. I venture to think that a Select Committee would tell the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister that leave should not be given to introduce a Bill of this character.
– Would you serve on the Committee ?
– I am not too keen on Select Committees or Royal Commissions. I have had experience of both, and they are very trying and arduous, and take a good deal out . of one. If some young honorable member would be willing to act on the Committee, I would be willing to give way to him; but, of course, if no one else would act, I would be willing to take part, if requested by the House to do so.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
.- It is with some degree of regret that I rise to my feet to-night. I have spoken in connexion with the motion for leave to introduce this question, and I regret that I find it necessary to address myself to the amendment, hut I cannot allow the opportunity to passwithout some attempt to place before the House my opinions upon it. I speak with all due respect when I say that the motion itself implies that there is a desire, not so much to settle industrial troubles as to utilize a position which the Attorney-General has created in order to attain some end the Government have in view. That end is what? To, if possible, plunge this country into industrial unrest, and to make out of the industrial situation a condition of affairs which will enable them, if they possibly can, to limit the power which the Labour party has in this House, where the Government find themselves in a hopeless position, and also in another place, where we are perfectly satisfied, and have the Government under the whip. The Attorney-General has attempted to make much profit out of the situation. He has stepped out of the ordinary run of things, and, in his public utterances, has outlined a course of action which he thinks will aid his party.
– What are those new leaders in the corner concocting ?
– We will concoct anything we please, so long as we whip you.
– I rise to order. Did you, sir, hear the statement of that honorable member that the only object of the Opposition is to whip me? First of all there is a frank admission that what the honorable member desires to do is to waste time, if he means his remarks politically, and, if not, I ask for your protection from these physical threats.
– I take it that the honorable member’s remark, although it was in reply to an irrelevant interjection, which,in itself, was disorderly, was really not intended in a literal or physical sense.
– I am prepared to whip the honorable member in any sense, whether physically or politically.
– These interchanges across the chamber are altogether out of order, and personal interchanges especially only lead to a series of interjections, all of which promote disorder, in which I have frequently to intervene in order to quell it. I ask honorable members to have some consideration for the Speaker, who has to remain in the chair all the time, whereas other honorable members are able to get some relief by various means not involving their continuous attendance in listening to speeches.
– I thank you, sir, for your protection from the Prime Minister. I am “ one of the saftest of the family,” but I am doing the best I can, and I think I ought to have some consideration.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I must again ask honorable members to refrain from these interjections. Six minutes or more have elapsed since the honorable member for Dalley rose, apparently to address himself to the amendment, and so far he has not uttered one sentence in connexion with the amendment. «
– The regret is mine that I have not had the opportunity.
– Will the honorable member address himself to the amendment ?
– I will do so if Ministerial members will permit me. In our amendment we seek, if possible, to have this serious industrial question investigated by some Select Committee. I am not much concerned about a Select Committee. If I could take the course of action I desire, I would fight the question out straight and clean, and there would be no Select Committee. But, nevertheless, if the Administration are prepared to meet us on any reasonable basis, and we can refer this question to a Select Committee, I, being desirous of peace, am willing that such a Committee should be appointed to give the question such consideration as will enable the House to come to a determination on effective lines for a peaceful settlement rather than that strife which is implied by the course of action which the Government now seek to take should occur. The honorable member for Cook referred this evening to trade unionism and to the benefit it had been to the indus- trial world, in England and elsewhere. He sought to make the point that peace should arise by settlement, in contradistinction from the attitude taken by the Attorney-General. I propose to quote from Thorold Rogers’ Six Centuries of Work and Wages, and I am sure the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General will admit the value of the quotation I am about to make. They will not dispute the reputation of the author as an economist, while as a writer of the history of industrialism he is undoubtedly beyond question. I propose to quote from page 429, in which he deals with wages and prices, my desire being to place in opposition to the statements of the Attorney-General the opinions expressed by a writer not less lacking in ability than is the honorable gentleman himself. Thorold Rogers wrote -
As, therefore, wages do not rise with prices, no crime against labour is more injurious than any expedients adopted on the part of Government which tend to raise prices. Unluckily for them, many working people have been misledby interested sophistry into believing that high prices for employers mean good wages for workmen.
-i call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I appreciate the courtesy of honorable members who have just come in, and would point out that in the quotation I have just made, Thorold Rogers sets forth the precise attitude that has been taken up by the Attorney-General. The honorable gentleman has told us, quite recently, that if the positionof the workers is to be improved, then the money now being paid away in connexion with the maternity allowance should be devoted to technical education. Here we have the writer showing that high prices for employers do not mean good wages for workmen. He goes on to say -
I do not deny that if an artificial stimulus is given to some particular industry, the demand for the produceof which is limited but continual, and the craftsmen in which are also limited, such a callingmay get enhanced wages for a short time.
But surely we are not dealing with the question of enhanced wages for a short time in any particular industry. We are dealing, rather, with the broad question as to how far preference to unionists or non -preference will be beneficial or otherwise to the community as a whole.
– The honorable member seems to misapprehend the nature of the amendment. I would point out to him that it deals, not with the question of whether preference to unionists would be beneficial to the community as a whole, but with the principle of preference to unionists in relation to Government employment, the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the subject, and the question whether it appears desirable to prepare and introduce a Bill relating to preference to unionists in Government employment.
– I am fully aware of the nature of the amendment, and am seeking to give reasons why a Select Committee should be appointed.
– How many members should be appointed to the Committee?
– If I had my way, 1 would have a Committee of the whole House. I put it that the Committee must inquire into the full question of unionism and preference.
– Order !
– I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the violence of the honorable member for Gwydir, who is not only interfering with the Government Whip, but is taking his property from him.
– He is not in the House.
– I noticed the incident in the front gangway, and called for order at once. The honorable member referred to has left the Chamber.
– I mighthave gone further with the quotation, but I have no desire to waste the time of the House. I have here another quotation from the same authority.
– Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the conduct of the honorable member for Gwydir.
– Order ! I call the attention of the House to the conduct of certain honorable members in interrupting the proceedings by a course of actions which do not at all tend to the dignity of the Chamber. I ask honorable members to cease that kind of conduct, and to allow the honorable member who is speaking to address the Chair uninterruptedly.
– I rise to order, sir. 1 submit that no honorable member is entitled to bring bedding into the chamber, and I request that you order that the bedding be taken out, as it is not in keeping with the dignity of the Chamber. I appeal to honorable members to say whether if this is a dormitory.
– I remind the honorable member that as far back as 1905 it was ruled by Mr. Speaker Holder that -
Members sire entitled to make such reasonable use of the benches -
– Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable member is out of order in interrupting the Chair. I again call the attention of honorable members to the standing order, which provides that the Speaker, when he rises, must be heard in silence. A question of order has been raised, and in deciding it I have a right to be heard in silence. As I said, Mr. Speaker Holder ruled in 1905 that-
Members are entitled to make such reasonable use of the benches in the House as they may find it convenient to do, even to the extent of bringing in bed clothes and reclining at full length.
This question was raised subsequently, when it was again ruled -
It is not disorderly for members to lounge on the benches, and even to go to sleep in certain circumstances, but they are not justified in doing so in such a fashion as to cause inconvenience to others.
– I am pleased to hear your decision, sir, on the point of order, because honorable members on the other side will need their blankets, and bedding, too, before we have finished. I wish to get to the question at issue. I am compelled to make another quotation by reason of the attitude of the AttorneyGeneral and honorable members on the Ministerial benches.
– Order ! Will honorable members resume their seats?
– Thorold Rogers, who certainly is not less lacking in capacity than the Attorney-General and honorable members on the Ministerial side, says at page 440 of his book, Six Centuries of Work and Wages -
Three processes have been adopted by the working classes, each of which has had a vast, and should have an increasing, influence in bettering the condition of labour and making the problem of dealing with individual distress, however caused, easier and readier.
That is precisely what we seek to do when we approach the issue with a view to the amendment of the measure to be introduced by the Attorney-General.
– Order !
– I call your attention, sir, to the conduct of the honorable member for Richmond on these benches.
– Order ! I warn honorable members that if any more of these * disgraceful proceedings occur I shall certainly ask the Prime Minister to take action against any honorable members offending. I shall not allow the proceedings of the Chamber to be conducted in such a disorderly fashion. I take this opportunity of intimating to honorable members that they know what to expect if they persevere after I have called for order. I hope that I shall have no more interruption of this kind.
– On a point of order, sir, I submit that the Government Whir* has no right on this side of the House at all.
– Order ! There is no rule which prevents any honorable member from temporarily occupying any seat in the chamber, provided that he does no* occupy one which belongs to another honorable member who desires to occupy Hi at the time. It is done every day in this House.
– I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether the Government Whip was in order in making a violent attack on the honorable member for Cook?
– I rise to order, sir.
– Order ! Will the honorable member for Dalley and the Prime Minister resume their seats? I have already dealt with this matter, and ask that a recurrence of the proceedings shall not take place.
– But, sir, “you blamed the honorable member for Cook.
– Order ! The honorable member for Dalley.
– I rise to order, sir. I want a direction as to whether an honorable member is entitled to remove another honorable member’s private property in the chamber.
– It is not private property, but Government property.
– Certainly an honorable member is not entitled to interfere with any other honorable member’s private property.
– I rise to order. Has the honorable member for Gippsland any right to presume that any honorable member would take away any other honorable member’s property?
– Order! I do not know that any such imputation has been made.
– I make an imputation, sir, and ask your attention to it, and it is that honorable members of the Opposition have not only violently wrenched the property of honorable members on this side from them, but taken it and hidden it under their seats.
– I have already pointed out that it is distinctly not in order for an honorable member to interfere with another honorable member’s property in the chamber. But I would remind the Prime Minister that if any disorder of that kind arises again it will be for him to ask the House to take action by a specific motion if matters proceed to the point of a member or members having to be named.
– I rise to order, sir.
– Is this a new point of order?
– Yes. How are we to know whether articles in the chamber for the purpose of keeping honorable members warm on this cold night belong to certain honorable members ? Does this paraphernalia belong to these honorable members, or is it public property?
– I am not called upon to decide what property belongs to honorable members. The only point I can decide is that honorable members must not interfere with the property of other honorable members. ,
– I want to know, sir, whether any honorable member is entitled to the use of articles in the chamber which we have no evidence or knowledge belong to individual honorable members to the exclusion of others.
– Order ! A question of that kind is not one that should be asked.
-I wish to ask you, sir, a question. Are you satisfied that the material brought in here is of a sanitary character; that it is not infected with some disease?
– That is not a question that should be asked, nor is this the time for asking questions. These frivolous points of order must cease. The honorable member for Dalley.
– I protest that all these interruptions lead me away from my argument. I might mention here that all that is under my seat is my overcoat.
I ask honorable members to listen to a very important quotation relating to the question before the House, which I propose to make from Six Centuries of Work and Wages. It reads thus -
Three processes have been adopted by the working classes, each of which has had a vast, and should have an increasing, influence in bettering the condition of labour and making the problem of dealing with individual distress, however caused, easier and readier.
– I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that a member of the Opposition is on this side of the chamber, trying to create disorder.
– That is a deliberate lie.
– It is quite true.
– The Prime Minister should have informed me of the disorder.
– I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the exSpeaker, the honorable member for Kennedy, has characterized the Prime Minister’s remark as a lying statement.
– I withdraw what I said.
– The quotation continues -
They should be viewed by statesmen with unqualified favour, and be treated by working men as the instruments by which they can regain and consolidate the best interests of labour.
We have been seeking to consolidate the interests of Labour, and the AttorneyGeneral and those associated with him have put forward a proposition which we hold will not permit that consolidation. Therefore, we have moved an amendment providing for the appointment of a Select Committee to calmly and carefully review the situation. Surely no honorable member will take exception to that. If we can by peaceful means bring about a general consolidation of public effort and social life, so that strife and warfare shall cease, we shall be acting in the public interest. The passage continues -
They arc trade unionism, or, as I prefer to call it, labour partnership, co-operation, or the combination, in the same individuals of the function of labour and capital; and benefit associations or the machinery of a mutual insurance society.
Are not honorable members opposite talking of some system of mutual insurance?
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the question of preference to unionists in Government employment.
– I am prepared to apply them to any body of persons, whether Government servants or outside servants.
– The honorable member will not be in order in dealing with outside servants.
– May there not be a system of insurance for public employes?
– The Bill which the Attorney-General seeks leave to introduce is to prohibit preference to unionists in Government employment ; it does not deal with the insurance of Government employes.
– Let me get to another point. To quote again -
So important do I conceive these aids to the material, intellectual, and moral elevation of the working classes to be, that I would, even at the risk of being thought reactionary, limit the privileges of citizenship, the franchise, parliamentary and local, to those, and those only, who entered into these three guilds - the guild of labour, the guild of production and trade, and the guild of mutual help.
– What is the authority ?
– Thorold Rogers,- a name not unknown in the annals of Labour. He says that he would make even parliamentary and local franchises depend upon membership of certain guilds.
A question to be considered by the proposed Select Committee would be the possibility of victimization under the Bill which it is sought to introduce.
– I think that this address is worthy of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Preference may be given to unionists, and it may be given to nonunionists. It matters not to me whether 200 or 300 or 2,000 or 3,000 persons are likely to be affected; we must consider thelikelihood of victimization. I feel sure, from my personal knowledge, that there has been victimization in State and Commonwealth services. It exists, and it will continue. Why, then, do not the Government permit a careful investigation by a Committee, with the object of safeguarding our public servants? We must protect them against even the possibility of victimization. We must consider whether the conditions of their em ployment are such as will prevent victimization. Is it wrong to ask for a Select Committee to inquire into these matters ? Under the Public Service Act certain individuals are guaranteed certain wages, and work under certain conditions. In addition, there are temporary employes who are engaged for six, nine, or eighteen months, subject to conditions imposed by Department officials. Men may be ready to accept casual work for the meanest possible wage. We hear the phrase “freedom of contract.” Under that system men may, out of their inexperience, despair, and necessity, be forced to accept the lowest possible wage. Sweating is not unknown in the Public Service of the States and of the Commonwealth. In our Postal Department men have been forced to work extraordinary hours for the smallest remuneration that could be given to them. If this has happened in one Department, why should it not happen in all? Do we not, therefore, need a Committee to inquire into the effect of freedom of contract in Government employment? There is already an Act which gives to public servants the right and privilege of appearing before the Court in opposition to any course of action which the Administration may think desirable; and thus employers and employed are brought face to face, and have to abide by the decision of the judicial body.
– I draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The Attorney-General would deny preference to individuals who are not permanent members of the Service; and he has been making much out of that attitude. The Commonwealth Act provides that preference may be granted; and, that being so, why should the Government deny it to trade unionists who are prepared to do their work effectively? Of course, the Attorney-General would abolish the Arbitration Courts and give no preference whatever. He would favour the old laissez faire, which simply means, “ Do the best you can, and to hell with the hindmost.” I do not use that word offensively, but merely as an emphatic expression of the view which I think the Attorney-General takes of our social and industrial situation. Is there any hope of a peaceful settlement of industrial strife in such an attitude as that?
There is not; and if they desire anything in the nature of a solution of the problem, the Government and their supporterswill meet us by accepting this amendment. Of course, if the Government desire strife they can have it, for we on this side are not afraid to go to the country on such an issue. If, however, it be possible to meet and proceed together on some lines of peaceful reform, such as that suggested in the appointment of a Select Com mi ttee, we on this side shall be only too glad. Why should honorable members opposite object to the amendment? The Attorney-General has twice or three times to-night declined to accept it, with that determination so characteristic of him - a determination which I admire, for it speaks of a strong man. But there is just a possibility that the honorable gentleman may reconsider the position, and to-morrow see the opportunity of getting into “ holds “ with us, not in a spirit of enmity, but in a spirit of association, with the object of finding an immediate settlement of a difficult and delicate situation. It is perfectly certain that a satisfactory settlement cannot be arrived at by fighting, to which at present we appear prepared to resort. As I say, we on this side are prepared to hold out the olive branch, and it is for honorable members opposite to pick it up. We have been told that the Opposition are seeking to prevent legislation; but that charge is groundless. What we are seeking to prevent is what we regard, from our standpoint as a Labour party, as bad legislation; and, therefore, we suggest, as an amicable solution, the appointment of a Select Committee. We are face to face with a position that may plunge us into serious trouble. There is no doubt that if this Bill be passed in the form suggested, there will be found throughout Australia an organized force prepared to oppose it at all costs and hazards. If we can avoid that, and preserve peace, by all means let us do so; let us resort to intellectual methods, and not to strikes and disruptions, which mean so much harm to the country as a whole. Although the Attorney-General may be prepared to do so, I do not think that those sitting behind him are ready to face the issues that will arise when we on this side take up the cudgels, as we undoubtedly shall if this Bill be forced through the House. I do not know what may happen in the Senate, but the Government may be able to force us to the country; and I urge that this extreme step should not be taken, unless it cannot be avoided. Let us have a Select Committee to ascertain how many public servants are concerned. Can the Attorney-General tell me how many are concerned ?
– It is too late to answer questions.
– The honorable member for Dalley is not in order in asking a question in debate, nor would the AttorneyGeneral be in order in answering it.
Mr.HOWE. - I bow to your decision, sir, but it is a question which, I think, might well have been answered without intervention from the Chair. The silence of the Attorney-General convinces me that the Government are not in possession of the facts, and cannot tell us whether 300 or 3,000 men are involved. What is there in the amendment that the Government and their supporters should bo afraid of? Do they fear that the facts are against them, and that on investigation the Bill will be found to be valueless? Are they, after all, utilizing this little measure for ulterior motives - to gain some little end in their own particular interests. All the facts ought to be placed before the House, and a Select Committee presents the best means. What harm could a Committee do ? Honorable members opposite are afraid to answer. They are not concerned with the question of preference or non-preference, but they are concerned with a little cry that they propose to pour into the ears of their own people, in the hope that it will be carried from one to the other, and result in the defeat of the Labour party. If the Government and their supporters are not prepared to accept the amendment, we are prepared to meet them on any basis or any platform they like.
– I think we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
Mr.FINLAYSON (Brisbane) [11.31]. - Every honorable member knows that during last session, when we were discussing this question, there was a direct indication given to the Government as to the only possible attitude we, as a party, could take. The question of the prohibition of preference to unionists is a matter which we cannot afford to regard lightly. We must accept it as a challenge to our principles. Last session the Prime Minister was warned, as he has been warned this session, that we as a party must lose no effort in trying to defeat the object of’ the Government. If there is any doubt in the minds of honorable members as to the real intention of Ministers in regard to the measure, when, through circumstances, fortunate so far as the Government were concerned, though unfortunate for us, the Bill was pushed through this House and taken to the Senate, the subsequent conduct of honorable members opposite during the recess, particularly the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, and their public statements, must have completely disabused the minds of any intelligent member of the community.
– May I direct atten-tion to the state of the House? [Quorum formed.]
– The matter of the prohibition of preference to unionists in Government employ is a clear indication of the . mind of the Government in regard to preference to unionists generally. Honorable members and the public have no doubt upon it. But may I offer this suggestion to the Prime Minister?
– I desire to draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– A very serious crisis had arisen in the Imperial Parliament, and that crisis was sought to be removed by just the means we have suggested to-night. In the House of Commons they did not refer the matter of the alteration of the Home Rule Bill to a Committee, but they held what are popularly known as “ conversations “ among the leaders of both sides, by which it was proposed to arrive at an agreement. So the Prime Minister will see that by the amendment submitted to-night we are striving to do exactly what was sought to be done in the Imperial Parliament. We are not actuated by obstructive tactics. We simply desire to find an honorable way out of what must be admitted is a difficulty. Honorable members opposite must be aware that the Opposition, by every means in their power, even to the last drop of blood - if one may use the phrase - must oppose the proposal of the Government. But we. are willing to meet Ministers privately, and discuss the mat ter, and come to some understanding with them, because we are as anxious as honorable members opposite are to get on with the business of the country. Honorable members are aware that the discussion of this measure .will offer an extended source of obstruction to the passage of useful legislation. We cannot allow the Bill to pass if we can find the means to prevent it. Our very existence as a party depends on certain well-known and clearly-defined principles, and, as preference to unionists is one of those principles, we are prepared to stand by it at all hazards, and to use every constitutional means in our power in order to oppose any attempt to deprive unionists of the right to organize and secure that preference which the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated is their just and lawful due. If the Government are anxious to go on with useful legislation here is a way out of the difficulty. There are important social items that sadly need attention. There are urgent matters of legislation that we are willing to support. There are quite a number of “measures urgently needed. Therefore, why should we deliberately and wilfully have the pathway of the progress “of legislation obstructed by the Government bringing in a Bill which will create obs’truction in the House, and excitement in public affairs, of which no honorable member can see the end? The principle of preference to unionists has been forced upon us. I have the authority of the Prime Minister for saying that the position of the workers to-day is due largely - if not entirely - to the unions, and their loyalty to each other, and their demand for the recognition of their rights. He has said -
It is generally recognised to-day, I think, by all intelligent men that nearly all that has come to labour by way of advancement has been per medium of these organizations. One can readily understand the feeling of the unionist when engaged in a dispute in defence of the privileges he already enjoys, and which he has hardly won by many years of arduous toil, when a man is brought into the arena to try and wrest those privileges from him. The free labourers step in to reap where they have not sown. It is that feeling which gives rise to hostility on the part of the unionist.
I have no desire ,to be referring continually to the statements of the Prime Minis,ter in regard to this matter. They are so thoroughly well known, having been so repeatedly quoted in the House, that honorable members are quite well aware that the very things for which we ask, the very principles for which we stand, are those which have always been advocated by the Prime Minister, and from which, by word, he has never withdrawn, though - which is very important - by deed he has done so. The unfortunate position in which we find ourselves is just a repetition of ancient history. Unionism was forced upon the workers. When we remember the condition of our own kith and kin in the Old Country years ago ; when we think of their absolute degradation - almost slavery, if not worse in some cases - we wonder that the Empire of which we are all so proud in certain directions should have reached even the power and glory that it has attained. T wish to give honorable members a glimpse into the history of industrial affairs in Great Britain. It marks the starting point of that movement which we now call the trade union movement, the demand for preference for members of unions based on the inalienable right of every member to stand by his fellow members, and the securing for each and every member of a union the proper return to which his labour entitles him. I quote from a very fine book recently published, and entitled The Church and, the New Age, written by the Rev. Henry Carter. This book, on page 63, deals with mill-owners of England and their need for labour, and says -
The mill-owners systematically communicated with the overseers of the poor, who arranged a day for the inspection . of pauper children. Those chosen by the manufacturer were then conveyed by waggons or canal boats to their destination, and from that moment were doomed to slavery. Sometimes regular traffickers would take the place of the manufacturer, and transfer a number of children to a factory district, and there keep them, generally in some dark cellar, till they could hand them over to a mill-owner in want of hands, who would come and examine their height, strength, and bodily capacities, exactly as did the slave dealers in the American markets. After that the children were simply at the mercy of their owners, nominally as apprentices, but in reality as mere slaves, who got no wages, and whom it was not worth while even to feed or clothe properly, because they were so cheap and their places could be so easily supplied . . . . Children were often worked sixteen hours a day, by day and by night. Even Sunday was used as a convenient time to clean the machinery. . . . They were fed upon the coarsest and cheapest food, often with the same as that served out to the pigs of their master. They slept by turns and in relays in filthy beds, which were never cool,; , for one set of children were sent to sleep in them “n’s soon os the others had gone off to their daily or nightly toil. There was often no discrimination of the sexes; and disease, misery, and vice grew as in a hot-bed of contagion. . . The catalogue of cruelty and misery is too long to recite here; it may he read in the Memoirs of Robert Blincoe, himself an apprentice, or in the pages of the Blue Boohs of the beginning of the century, in which even the methodical dry official language is startled into life by the misery it has to relate . . During the whole of the period of 1800 to 1820, and even to 1840, the result of their sufferings was seen in the early death of the majority of the children, and in the crippled and distorted forms of the majority of those who survived. On the women and grown-up girls the effects of long hours and wearisome work were equally disastrous.
Even adult men were treated as mere chattels. Under what was known as the Boundsman system, “the Parish sold pauper labour to the occupiers of property at a certain low price, and made up the difference between that and the scale allowance. Sometimes tlie paupers were sold to the farmers at auction. At Yardley, Hastings, e.g., all the unemployed men were put up to sale weekly, and the clergyman on one occasion- saw a lot of ten men knocked down to one of the farmers for 5s.
That is an extract from the report of the Royal Commission on Poor Laws in 1834. Well might Southey say, in a letter written in March, 1833, that “ the slave trade is mercy compared to it.” That is a picture of a condition of things from which, I am sure, honorable members on the Government side recoil with horror equally as much as we do. They are quite willing to dissociate themselves from anything of that character, and I would not for a moment say that any member on the Government side believes in conditions of labour such as are there pictured. But it was those conditions that brought about the movement in Great Britain, and has startled the movement into life in Australia, that h&s developed trade unionism, that great principle of comradeship, that exhibition of fraternity which is surely as great and grand as the world has yet seen. I cannot forget that from early ages, before the dawn of the Christian era, the workers of the world were banded together in indissoluble unions so strong, so effective, and so secure in their foundations, that no workmen in any craft, and no man who had to associate with his friends, or who was performing labour in the same calling as other men, was outside a union.
– I beg to call attention to the state; -of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– On a point of order. The honorable member for Gippsland, when you, sir, ordered that the bells should be rung, expressed pleasure that he was relieved for the present of what he was pleased to call “this clatter.” I object to that word, and desire that it be withdrawn.
– I have no knowledge of what the remark applied to, but the honorable member for Brisbane did not take exception to it. I do not know whether the remark applied to the honorable member who was speaking or to the ringing of the bells, but the word itself is not disorderly, unless it had an offensive application to an honorable member.
– I was trying to show that the workers were forced, by the unfortunate condition in which they were placed in the earlier days of the industrial movement, to band themselves into unions, and it is well known to every honorable member that unionism, even at that stage, partook of a very strong political character. In the objections of honorable members on the Government side, and their supporters generally, have expressed, stress is laid upon the fact that the unionism of to-day is political, and therefore preference should not be granted to it. I desire to point out that the workers themselves were forced into political action. It was because the laws of the country were so shockingly opposed to the trade unions, and to their having any privileges or recognition, that the workers were at one time forced to abandon their unions, and later on to seek to obtain redress by parliamentary action. Honorable members will remember well how, on the introduction of machinery, and the consequent displacement of very large numbers of workmen, very regrettable riots took place, notably the “Luddite” riots in 1811 and 1816, ‘when the workers revolted against the introduction of machinery, and thought that by smashing the machinery they would improve their employment. They learned better as years went on, and on page 65 Carter says -
Throughout these years there were constant appeals to Parliament by the operatives to sustain their rates of wages, enforce the legal restrictions of the number of apprentices, or prohibit certain kinds of machinery. The appeals were founded on long established custom, tor from the sixteenth century Parliament had regulated wages and conditions of employment, or empowered Quarter Sessions to do so locally. But, in face of the Industrial Revolution, Parliament stood perplexed. The problem was unprecedented. The wage-earners’ standard of life was confessedly degraded. Mediaeval trade laws, framed for the hand-working age, clearly needed revision in an age of machine labour.
Parliament/ instead of helping the workers by its acts, hindered them, arid shattered their hopes. Carter finishes a very interesting chapter by saying -
It was in these circumstances that the toilers - left to work out their own salvation - drew together, developed organizations of defence, and the modern trade union movement was born. Rioting was futile; Parliament would not help; the workers must help themselves.
For many years the workers had to depend on their own organizations, but in those years those infamous combination laws were introduced, and the workers who had been denied proper wages and conditions were also denied the right to form unions and to secure those benefits which they ought to have obtained by combination and associative effort. On the other hand, the employers were well assisted in every possible direction by those very same laws. I could quote one or two rather striking illustrations of that fact. Laws in favour of the unions were quite unknown, but laws in favour of the employers were very strong indeed, and the consequence was that men were often compelled to abandon their unions, simply because they were unable to stand up against the law. I may later on quote a passage which gives several instances of men who, for infinitesimal offences against the law, and simply because they were unionists and demanded rights in virtue of their unionism, were cruelly treated by the laws of their country. To show how the unions were treated at that time, and how closely related the proposals of the Government, in Australia to-day are to those now effete and discredited laws, let me read the following passage to honorable members. On page 74 Carter says - ‘
The following is the actual wording of the “Document” which ironmoulders were asked to sign during the period following the great engineers’ strike, to which reference is made on a later page : -
Declaration made by the undersigned on engaging in the employment of- . I,
A.B., do hereby honestly, and in ils simplest sense and plainest meaning, declare that I am neither now, nor will, while in your employment, become a member or contribute to, or otherwise belong to or support, any trade union or society which directly or indirectly, by its rules or any of its meetings or transactions of its business, or by any means of its officers or funds, takes cognisance of, professes to control, or interferes with the arrangements or regulations of this or any other manufacturing or trade establishment, the hours or terms of labour, the contracts or agreements of employer or employed, or the qualifications or period of service. I do also declare that I have no purpose or intention to call in question the right of any man to follow any honest calling in which lie may desire to engage, or to make what arrangement and engagement of the workmen he pleases upon whatever terms they choose mutually to agree.
To show how closely that is allied, not only to the proposals of the Government, but to the continual actions of their supporters outside the House, may I remind honorable members of several cases in point ?
– I would remind the honorable member that he has already spoken on the main question, and he will be in order only by confining himself to the amendment, which deals with a proposal to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the question of preference to unionists in Government employment.
– I am not overlooking that fact.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the main question, or in traversing ground which he has traversed before.
– The matter I am submitting now is quite foreign to anything I have previously said on this question. I am trying to keep within the lines of the amendment. The proposed Committee is to inquire into whether it is right and proper to introduce a Bill to prohibit preference to unionists in Government employment. I am trying to prove that in order to legislate effectively on the question of preference to unionists, not only in Government employment, but in any employment whatever-
– The honorable member will not be in order in going outside the question of preference to unionists in Government employment.
– There are two points to be considered in that connexion. In the first place, the Government proposal has been accepted as a challenge on the whole principle of preference to unionists generally. It has been said by the Government that it is a challenge. In the second place, the Commonwealth has already in its employment a very large number of workmen, following various callings, and many of these belong to unions which demand certain rates of pay, irrespective of what may be the opinion of the Government of the day, since they are working under the awards of Wages Boards or of Arbitration Courts.
– The question of * what may or may not have been generally admitted by the Government does not affect the terms of the motion; but the honorable member will be in order in discussing the question on the lines of the second point raised by him.
– If the Government are going to prohibit preference to unionists, what will be the position when the Commonwealth employs a still larger number of these men? If, for instance, an award of the Arbitration Court provides for certain rates of wages to builders’ labourers, then, in employing such men, the Government must observe that award, since the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has been granted by this Parliament power to provide for preference to unionists. If this motion were passed, or if the amendment were rejected, it would mean that the men, in such circumstances, would either have to face immediate dismissal, or leave their unions. The second alternative is what the Government would probably invite, and it is that very danger that causes us to oppose the Bill. My opposition is due, not to any desire to delay business, but to the fact that we are here up against the principle, the policy, and the platform of our party. We must fight this Bill by every possible means. The Government need be under no misapprehension. We are standing in the direct line of succession to men who, in the Old Country in days gone by, had to fight, and many of whom had to suffer, and even die, for the very principles for which we are fighting to-day. I propose to make a quotation from the judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Higgins in the tramway case, in which he had to decide whether preference to unionists should be granted. The Brisbane and Adelaide companies were opposed, not only to preference to unionists, but to the principle of unionism, or, at all events, to all but a certain kind of unionism. Mr. Justice Higgins said -
I find that the forbidding of the badge is, in the case of Melbourne and of Brisbane, merely part of the policy of the companies to suppress ‘unionism, and especially federated unionism. In the case of Adelaide, the position is somewhat complicated by the passion of the general manager for military formation and appearance. It is the old device - first keep away unionism as long as you can; and then, when it must come, create a dependent union, and attract the men to it by favours. Mr. Badger and Mr. Wilcox frankly admit that they have tried to prevent unionism among their men; and I have no difficulty in finding that they have granted indulgences, privileges, benefits, attractions of all sorts, to mcn to retire from the union, and that they have encouraged and bolstered up rival unions - what, the mcn call the “company’s union” - in order to injure the men’s union. “ Company’s union “ is a name which, as one of the “company’s union” members told me in evidence, is given by the men because they reckon the company “gives us good tilings which the men’s union does not get.” There is no doubt a bitter feeling between the two bodies. In Melbourne, the company’s union has about 70 members; the men’s union, in spite of the company’s antagonism, has over 1,500 in the Melbourne Tramway Company alone. The gross revenue of thu company’s union from subscriptions of the members is about £42 per annum, and all the rest of the expenditure comes from outside donations. There would be no rivalry of unions, and little or no friction, if the men were left to themselves. The company’s union could not last but for the company’s coddling. This creating and fostering of a rival union, tins encouragement of its members and discouragement of the members of the other union, is the root of such bitterness as there is; and the companies could easily get rid of the bitterness by ceasing to bestow exceptional favours on the company’s union. The badge is not to blame. The word “intimidation” is much more applicable to what the companies have done than to the wearing of tha badge. In 1004 Mr. Badger - as lie admits - dismissed several men for attempting to form a union; but he reinstated them on the condition that they would drop the idea. The tramway men in Brisbane en-‘ joyed the use of a recreation hall, which they much prized; but when Mr. Badger formed his company’s union, he handed the hall over to it, and forbade the others to enter. From the point of view pf the companies, the endeavours to stifle unionism may seem justifiable; but from the’ point of view of this Court the endeavours cannot be treated as legitimate or reasonable. For the very Act which creates this Court expressly sanctions and encourages unions. Under section 2 (VI.) one of the “ chief objects “ .of the Act is to “ facilitate and encourage the organization of representative bodies of employers and of employees and the submission of industrial disputes to the Court by organizations.” The system of arbitration would be unworkable without organized unions; and it is my duty to carry out the Act and to give effect to the will of Parliament.
I would emphasize the point that the provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for preference to unionists was deliberately inserted, as Mr. Justice Higgins said, as a guarantee of industrial peace. In support of that contention, I would read the following quotation from a speech made by the honorable member for “Wentworth, the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, as reported at page 729 of Hansard of 21st September, 1913. The honorable gentleman said in this House -
Preference to industrial unionists is provided for in our legislation to encourage the formation of unions for the purpose of bringing about industrial peace. It is recognised in the Statute that the existence of men outside such organizations makes the securing of industrial peace by a Court more difficult. The law provides, other things being equal., that preference shall be given to the members of industrial organizations registered under the Act.
That, in itself, establishes our claim that this question should be referred to a Select Committee, seeing that we are unable, apparently, to settle it in Parliament. It is evident that this debate is to go on indefinitely. It seems that there is to be a trial of brute strength; that we are to have a muscular tug-of-war and legislation by exhaustion. If the debate is to go on as at present, it seems that we are to be here night and day,, and that not until one side is beaten or exhausted will the matter be settled. The prospect is not at all attractive to any man who loves his country or desires to see any progress in our legislation. That Parliament should be brought wilfully by the Government to such an impasse - that we should be brought up against » stone wall and forced to face an impossible situation - is neither creditable to the Government nor satisfactory to the people. If the Government are able by this process of exhaustion to force the Bill through this House, there still remains to be considered the prospect of its passing in the Senate. That- prospect is gloomy in the extreme. Every honorable member knows that the Bill is doomed before it reaches the door of the Senate. “Why go on with business in that fashion? ls there no way out? “We say that there is. Honorable members on both sides declare that legislation in connexion with this question is necessary, though we do not agree as to the kind of legislation that is necessary. Therefore, the leaders on both sides have every inducement to try to arrive at an honorable arrangement. Is it too much that we are asking that the subject of preference to unionists in Government employment shall be submitted to a conference of leaders? There may be reasons which appear satisfactory to Government supporters for not giving preference to employes in the Government service; but not only is preference to unionists accepted in every country in. the world, but in some countries unionism is enforced by law. That is borne out by this extract -
The following clause with regard to preference to unionists has been placed in the schedule of the recently given award in the Nelson Tailor and Tailoresses case in the New Zealand Arbitration Court, before Judge Sim : - It shall be the duty of every employer, when engaging a worker, to ascertain whether lie or she is a member of the union; and if -he or she is not a member of the union, the employer shall notify the secretary of the union accordingly within seven days of the date of engaging such worker. It shall be the duty of every non-unionist engaged as aforesaid to join the union within seven days after receiving from the secretary of the union a request in writing to do so. It shall be the duty of every non-unionist employed in the trade at the date of the coming into operation of this -award to become a member of the union within fourteen days of such date. Non-compliance with any of the above-mentioned provisions shall constitute a breach of award. No employer shall place any obstacle in the way of any representative of the workers’ union in the collection of moneys due; provided that the collection shall not take place in any work-room often er than once a fortnight, and that a representative of the union shall obtain permission from the employer previously to visiting such work-room.
The tendency in industrial matters is towards an ever closer organization, and the advance of unionism in Australia is paralleled by its advance in other parts of the world. There is also taking place a process of linking up, of consolidation, and of concentration that will make the trade union movement throughout the world practicably irresistible. The one thing at stake is preference to unionists. We demand that preference to unionists shall be recognised in not only one, but every direction. That demand is not based on any question of unfairness or prejudice, but on the recognition of the solid and incontrovertible fact that men and women have joined trade unions to better their conditions, to improve their opportunities, and to secure higher wages. It is not more than ordinary justice that those whose efforts have gained the advantages which have come from organization should be permitted to enjoy them. The labourer is worthy of his hire, and one cannot speak on these matters without being reminded of the statement of the Prime Minister that the non-unionists are skulkers, and act unfairly towards their fellows. The proposal of the Government is to declare by Statute that preference to unionists shall not be allowed in Government employment. There would be less objection to such a declaration by Executive minute. After this Government took office, no one was alarmed when they abolished, by administrative act, preference to unionists in Government employment. That was expected, and it may be safely predicted that if the Labour party again get3 control of Commonwealth affairs preference to unionists will be recognised again. We shall recognise all the time, and every time, the unions that are recognised officially, and registered under the laws that we have passed. The proposed Bill aims a blow at a statutory provision, but does so indirectly and unfairly. If the Government earnestly desire to abolish preference to unionists in Government employment and elsewhere, we are ready to debate the question with them in connection with an amendment of the. Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Governments of nearly every country in tho world have repeatedly tried to discourage and to destroy the work of the trade unions. A Commission was appointed in Great Britain to inquire into the subject generally, and the Rev. Henry Carter, at page 85 of his book on The Church in tha New Age, states that -
When tho reports of the Commissions were issued they were seen to be more favorable to unionism than had been anticipated. A majority report went some way toward improving the legal position. The minority report, for which Harrison and Hughes were responsible, went farther, and recommended that “ All special laws affecting contracts for labour should be repealed, and that no act done by a number of men together should be punished. as a crime if it were not criminal in itself.” Legal protection was also accorded to union funds.
That was very little protection to the trade unionists -
The Times said “ True statesmanship will neither cease to augment nor to reduce their (tha unions) influence; but, accepting it as a fact, will give it free scope for legal development.” But the Government Bills, which followed in 1871, took away with one hand as much as they gave with the other. The good points of the minority report were conceded, but “ peaceful picketing “ in support of a strike, even by a single person, was definitely declared criminal. A storm of protest arose, but unavailingly, and the Bills quickly became law.
Then follow some of the most disgraceful records in the Old Country in connexion with this matter -
Seven women were imprisoned in South Wales merely for saying “bah” to a “blackleg.” In 1872, a number of London gas-stokers were dismissed for complicity in a strike; others who refused to work until their mates were taken on again were prosecuted, and sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment.
On page 101 reference is made to the decision of the House of Lords in the Taffvale Railway Case in 1901 -
By this decision the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants were held responsible for the unlawful acts of certain of its members during a strike in South Wales, and the Taffvale Railway Company obtained £23,000 damages against the society.
– I am unable to see the connexion with the amendment.
– This attempt to prohibit preference to unionists in Government employment is a political move, and I am showing that it is in line with what has been done by the Imperial Government. In Great Britain an attempt was made to prohibit unionism in connexion with any employment. This Government, by the necessities of the case, is forced to propose the prohibition of preference to unionists only in Government employment. If Ministers are opposed entirely to preference to unionists, there is an honest, legitimate, and reasonable way of putting forward their views. What is now proposed will not do what is desired, but will breed no end of difficulties and trouble in the Government service. A large number now are, and in the future a much larger number will be, members of unions, and may be working under awards of the Courts which the Government will have to recognise. If these awards impose preference to union ists, in what position will the Government be? This attempt to prohibit preference to unionists will excitethe worst passions of the community, and will breed more industrial strife than we have known in any period of our industrial history. When addressing the House previously on the original motion, I made reference to this point ; and I am so impressed with the dangers of industrial disputes and industrial strife that I am supporting thisamendment in the belief that it offers a. reasonable, legitimate, and proper wayout of the difficulty. We do not desire strife - we do not desire industrial war. The history of the whole trades union movement is ‘characterized by one factmore than any other, and that is, that those concerned have always sought, by every possible means, to establish harmonious relations with the employers. That they have not been able to do so is* not their fault, and that they have had* to fight is possibly their misfortune ir* some directions; but all this has certainly educated the workers of the world” in the knowledge that, while they may rely to a large extent on their own. powers of organization to secure certain benefits that they legitimately desire, and are honorably entitled to, there is a power in their hands that they must use, and that they are increasingly using in every country in the world, namely, the power of Parliament to protect them in the enjoyment of their rights. The Bill seeks to defeat that very purpose, and the amendment is an effort to avoid strife and disorder - that industrial upheaval which this proposal of” the Government, if persevered in, is sure to bring about. The words used in the amendment are “ in order to effectively legislate “ ; and it is impossible to so legislate if the Government are going to be adamant in their opposition. If the Government have only one idea, and are not open to argument - if their minds are thoroughly made up to fight this question by every means at their disposal, and if they are prepared to set in motion the whole electoral machinery, and put thecountry to a cost of anything from £60,000 to £80,000, in order to establishthis principle - they must accept the responsibility for all that may follow. Certain it is that not only in this House, but in every town and place, the workers, and? the people generally, will be divided by a very Sharp line of cleavage and demarcation. There is no doubt that by this proposal the people of the country will be split into two antagonistic sections. Here we are, trying by means of conciliation and arbitration to bring about a better and a saner understanding between employer and employed, and yet the Government’s proposal is to antagonize them and to create enmity; industrial peace is on their lips, but war is in their hearts. The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, perhaps better than any other honorable member on his side, knows that if the principle of preference in Government employ, and trades unionism, were recognised, he would be saved any amount of trouble, because then he could deal directly with bodies instead of being irritated by irresponsible individuals. The honorable member is thoroughly aware that it is much easier to deal with an organization than with separate persons. We desire even more than the Government do to deal with this question of preference to unionists, because it is one in regard to which we are in deadly earnest, as meaning our very bread and butter. Indeed, it is a matter of death and life; politically it is our breath, and industrially it is our living. We demand that in this connexion there shall be no unnecessary cleavage in the community. There is so much possibility of improvement, socially and industrially, that one regrets that such questions as these should be unnecessarily obtruded; and I hope that even yet the Government will see that the amendment is not in any way unfair or unreasonable, but an honest desire to promote peace in the community.
– I should have been gratified if the Attorney-General had softened somewhat to the appeal made to him from this side, and had accepted the amendment as a way out of the ridiculous position in which he has placed, not only the House, but the country, in submitting the Bill. There is no doubt that this measure requires the fullest investigation; and the policy of the Government throughout its short reign has been to delegate -to Boards, Royal Commissions, or Select Committees anything and everything they did not understand. I may say that if the Government continue to remit to such bodies all questions they do not understand, we shall soon have nothing but roving Commissions all over the country. We were told that, in order to understand what the Tariff is, and what amendments are necessary, it was necessary to send it to the Inter-State Commission.
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable member, but I see nothing in the amendment relating to the Tariff.
– I am only using this as an illustration, and pointing out that in the case of the Tariff, the Government deemed it necessary to have it fully investigated by the Inter-State Commission, in order that they might at some time arrive at a solution, though they have not said when. I suppose that, so long as a solution is arrived at some time, the Government will be satisfied to wait.’ Then, again, there is the Electoral Commission, although this body found nothing to inquire into. Everything was proved to be all right; but it was necessary to have an inquiry in order to remove the stigma placed on the Government by the charges they had heaped on the heads of members on this side. Another matter that puzzled the Government, though it did not puzzle many other people, was that involved in the question of whether powellised sleepers could be demolished by the white ants.
– I must call the attention of the honorable member to the fact that he is not dealing with the amendment.
– I wish to show why the Government should accept the amendment. Inasmuch as this course has been adopted in all the cases I have mentioned, and in other cases in which they failed to find guidance in their own intelligence, we ask them to submit this Bill to a Select Committee. The Attorney-General, in his last public statement, said that this Bill would mean giving preference only to men in the Public Service who are not provided for by Statute. I observe, however, that the honorable gentleman’s leader does not wholly agree with him, and told the House that when the Government policy was disclosed it would be by the head of the Government, and not, I suppose, by the “head” that has controlled the Government so long. However, we wish to know whether the statement made represents a fact or not. How many men in the Service are provided for by the Public Service Act, the Conciliation and Arbitration .Act, and so forth? It is essential that these facts should be known, in order that the public may not be wholly deceived; and the Select Committee would give us those facts on sworn testimony, and we should then have tangible grounds on which to proceed. We might also be able to discover how many of -even the casuals in the Government employ were already in unions enjoying preference to unionists. We should know how many of them are not under the obligation to respect preference to unionists, not only in regard to casual workers, but also in regard to those who should be encouraged to join unions, and so bring about that contentment and that measure of justice that should exist between employers and employes. I believe that investigation would show that under the present conditions not more than 200 of those engaged by the Government would come under the operation of the Bill. Clearly, therefore, it is a waste of time discussing measures, having before us merely imaginary conclusions, statements not borne out by facts, and figures that cannot be supported. There is no justification for the Bill until, at any rate, a thorough investigation has been held. On all other matters the Government have not only agreed to, but have initiated, similar inquiries, with the alleged object of getting information to guide them. It is possible that a Select Committee would inquire as to the effect of preference to unionists on the general welfare of the Commonwealth, as to whether the action the Government propose to take would improve public affairs, and as to whether the Government would run the risk of disorganizing the whole business of the continent. They could also ascertain whether the Government are prepared to do what no private employer is prepared to do; that is, to gather around them a host of unemployed who are not members of unions, and who are the least capable tradesmen and give the least valuable return for the money paid to them. We are entitled to ascertain what good will emanate from giving leave to intro- duce the Bill. No doubt investigation by a Select Committee would divulge a. state of affairs that would put an end to the action of the Government. The only reason for the attitude of the Government towards the amendment is that they fear the result of the information that would be secured by a Committee of inquiry.. The Committee would necessarily extend its inquiries in order to investigate the effect of preference to unionists in all occupations, and would make inquiries of men having the experience of union and non-union labour. If evidence was called from firms employing large numbers of men, it would be found that in most casesthe doctrine of the Government would not be tolerated for five minutes. The bulk of employers know the value of unionism, to which preference to unionists is the natural corollary. But the Government burke inquiry. They know that an investigation would enable the people tounderstand the position without difficulty. I have been an employer and an employe. As an employe I always felt that I was. happier working amongst a body of men who had signed the same bond as myself,, and who contributed to the same union. It is that- comradeship and brotherhood among workers that makes men feel happy in their work, and gives to employersa more steady, reliable, and profitable return than can be got by having a mixed’ body of workers, or by not recognising” the right of unionists to enjoy the fruitsto gain which they have sacrificed somuch in the past. ‘ A Committee would fully expose the Bill as a mere scarecrow, and the Government for all timewould be known as the Scarecrow Ministry. And rightly soL because measuresof this character that nave no foundation, that are merely shadows and myths, introduced for the purpose of deceiving thepeople, are exposed at once when the light of inquiry is thrown upon them. The Government will, as a result, be compelled to withdraw this measure in disgust at the puny effort they have made tocarry out the business of the country. For many years there was no organization within the Public Service, and at that time there- was nothing but continued discontent. No Postmaster-General, either under the State regime, or under that of the Commonwealth, had any possible chance of doing justice to his
Department, or of giving satisfaction to himself. It was a case of every man for himself, and each man cutting the other’s throat. The selfishness and inhumanity were evidentall the time, and Ministers were worn out listening to appeals, not from a body of men, but from individuals. Individual complaints were the result of the lack of organization in the Federal Service; but since the law has recognised organization, and granted the right of those in the Federal Service to go to the Arbitration Court, the Commonwealth employes have banded themselves into organizations for their common benefit. I guarantee that the files will show a very different state of affairs from the .times gone by, when Postmasters-General and members of Parliament were worried from Monday morning till Saturday night, and tortured by individual complaints and troubles that used to come to hand by every mail. That sort of thing went on, and I know that since organization has taken place in the Department the Government, by reason of their law, have encouraged men to join organizations for the purpose of appealing to the Court. And I would remind honorable members that the men cannot appeal to the Court unless they are organized; individual workers cannot appeal to the Court. If the Government were to succeed in introducing nonpreference in the Government service, even amongst the casual employes, they would immediately undermine the advantages gained by the unionists in that Service, and, by so undermining them, would gradually substitute non-union labour, and bring discontent into other branches, where at present organization is a safetyvalve.
– I wonder why the Honorary Minister changed his mind. He spoke very eloquently upon this subject on one occasion.
– The Honorary Minister Kas proved by every action since he has been a Minister that he knows very little about these things, and the more he tries to do the more he falls in the esteem of his colleagues and of the country. He is not in the happy position of saying, “ Bless the day when I became a Minister,” but must say “Curse the day when I took office.” Tlie honorable member had a reputation up to that time; if it was not emblazoned on his banner, it was, at any rate, in the crucible, and might have turned out something good. We want to ascertain by means of this Select Committee how many men will be affected by the proposed Bill, how many among the casual employes are enjoying preference to-day, what unions they belong to, how many non-unionists are in the Government service to-day, and what changes the Government have made in the conditions that prevailed when their predecessors controlled the affairs of the country. The only method of discovering those things is by an independent inquiry,’ not only into the preference which has existed in the Commonwealth service, but also into the inroads which the Government have made in that preference, and the intentions of the Government in substituting non-preference for preference. The ‘ Committee would also report as to whether the Government proposals would be beneficial to the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– If the report were against you, would you object to it?
– The honorable member cannot honorably object to an inquiry of this nature, seeing that he has already acquiesced in the appointment of Royal Commissions, which are to-day inquiring into other matters. If it was thought necessary to appoint Commissions to investigate the powellising of timber, the Tariff, and electoral matters, it is ten times more necessary that this question of preference to unionists should be submitted to a Committee, so that we may be able to feel certain of the effect which the Government Bill will have on the men working in the Service. We want to know to what extent the Government’s proposals are likely to bring about disintegration in the Service, which has worked more harmoniously, successfully, and satisfactorily lately than at any time since I have been a member of this Parliament. To a large extent there is contentment in the Public Service to-day, and that was brought about by inquiry. How, otherwise, was it possible for the Government to get at the core of the discontent that existed in the Postal Service in days gone by? A Commission was re-, quired to not only uproot the evil, but to drag forward evidence, analyze it, and come to conclusions, and convince Parliament that the time had, arrived when the haphazard methods of the past should cease. Injustices had sprung up through the absence of organized effort, owing to the fact that only portion of the men in the Service had seen the wisdom of organization, whilst the greater number of men thought that by standing out of the organization they would curry favour with those for whom they worked. Accordingly, they did not attempt to come into the organization until the Postal Commission had reported and recommended that justice should be done, that an increase in salary should be given, that hours of labour should be reduced, that conditions should be improved, that overtime should be paid, that travelling expenses should be allowed, and that certain leave, never permitted before, should be granted.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I was saying that, under the old conditions, the Postal Service was nothing but a disorganized body. There was an attempt at organization, but there was no direct gain likely to come from it, because, in days gone by, most of the men appointed to the Postal Department were appointed by reason of political influence, and they had been taught to rely upon the influence and recommendation of individual members of Parliament to get them into the Service, irrespective of qualifications oftentimes, and to secure them promotion, whether merited or unmerited. So it happens to-day that, through lack of a system of unionism, and failure to recognise the value of unionism, and the advantages that can be gained by united effort, the Public Service is still encumbered with a lot of worthless and hopeless men, who never have earned, and never will earn, the money that is being paid to them, under a system that gave them promotion by seniority and social influence rather than by merit. That is the result of freedom of contract, individual effort, and political influence bordering on corruption; aye, worse than corruption, because it undermined the value and efficiency of the Service. The day came when the Public Service realized that there was something in being united, and to-day those men having discovered that, x by united effort, they could uplift each other, whereas by individual effort they often dragged each other down, the tide in favour of organization is rising faster even than does the tide in the Northern Territory. The organization in the Postal Service at the present time comprises nearly the whole of the permanent staff in the clerical, mechanical, and general divisions.
– Some of them have been before the Arbitration Court.
– The Postal Commission, which was practically a Wages Board, investigated every phase of their employment - and it was then that the value of organized effort was brought home to the Public Service. Parliament subsequently, decided that the General Division should come under the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The result was that the men began to organize more thoroughly, and proceeded to formulate cases to be put before the Court. In some of those cases a decision has not yet been given, but as the outcome of the judgments already delivered public servants are more convinced than ever of the value of united effort. The AttorneyGeneral speaks with two voices on this question. In the first place he declares that he is opposed to preference to unionists whether it be administrative or judicial, whilst, in the second place, he says that he believes in unionism. What a contradiction. Does not the honorable gentleman realize that unionism cannot progress without preference?
– I call attention to the state of the House, and ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to make sure that there are honorable members actually lying under the blankets on the benches. [Quorum formed.]
-The AttorneyGeneral in taking up this attitude occupies an anomalous position. In his own profession there is a union of the most pronounced type, and in connexion with it preference to unionists has always been observed.
– I rise to order. I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that the honorable member for Dalley has taken possession of some of my property.
– He did not take it.
– I do not know whether he did or did not, but he is in possession of it, and I ask you, sir, to direct that he give it up.
– I know nothing about this.
– I am not in a position to say to whom belong the goods in question, and which are rather unusual in the chamber. I cannot therefore direct that they be given up.
– I say that the property is mine.
– The matter can only be settled by honorable members themselves. If the honorable member for Richmond says that the property is his, and the honorable member for Dalley does not deny that statement, then I must ask the honorable member for Dalley to return it.
Mr.Webster. - Mr. Deputy Speaker -
– Order ! I have given my ruling.
– In the circumstances I take my property.
– You let that blanket alone.
– It is my property.
– I trust that honorable members will remember that they are in Parliament. Will honorable members resume their seats?
– The Government Whip will get as much as he wants. He is not, going to run this show.
– I call your attention to the fact that the honorable member for Dalley will not obey your direction. and return the property which does not belong to him.
– No direction was given.
– I think that before the question is decided, you, Mr. Speaker, should demand proof of the Government Whip’s statement that the property belongs to hirn. He should be required to produce his receipts.
– At an earlier stage of the proceedings, I pointed out that it was certainly not in order for an honorable member to appropriate to his own use the. property of another, or to take it from his possession in the Chamber. If any property has been so appropriated. I must ask that it be restored.
– On the point of order, sir, I desire to explain that I was reclining here when some one placed a pillow under my head, and threw a blanket over me. I do not know who did this; but if any honorable member tries to take a thing from me by force, he will be met by force.
– The honorable member for Ballarat put the blanket over the honorable member.
– I saw what happened. An honorable member, actuated, apparently, by kindness, took a pillow from a seat where it was not being used, and placed it under the honorable member for Dalley’s head. The honorable member for Dalley did not personally appropriate it. I do not think it was taken with any desire to deprive the rightful owner of the article. It was not in use at the time, and the honorable member for Dalley, appearing to be in an uncomfortable position, the pillow was placed under his head. I understand that the property has now been restored, and I hope that we shall not have a repetition of what took place a few moments ago.
– I fancy that the incident just closed was an attempt on the part of the Government Whip to prevent me from concluding my argument in the time allotted to me. I was proceeding to point out that the Commonwealth Public Service has gained everything by combined effort. Even the clerical division has been organized, and preference is practically given under the Statute law of the country to members of that branch of the Service. The whole policy of the Department is practically that of preference to unionists. The only section of the Service to which that policy does not apply is one which, if we are to believe the Government, does not actually exist to-day. We ask for an inquiry to ascertain, amongst other things, whether or not it does exist. What have the Government done in other matters in regard towhich they needed enlightenment? They have appointed Commissions, at great cost to the Commonwealth, to investigate and report on the questions concerned. I ask them to’ refer this Bill to a Committee. It will then be seen that not 2,000 men, and not even 200 men, would be affected by it, because those who to-day are in casual Government employment belong to unions claiming preference. One cannot but admire the candour of the AttorneyGeneral, although I doubt whether his leader likes it. He stated the other day that the Bill will not apply only to casual employment in the Public
Service. We wish to examine him on oath before a Select Committee to discover whether he really knows how many men would be affected by it. If that were done, the public would see the hollowness of this proposal. The real desire is to undermine unionism, and to make the unionist think that the advantages that he has won are to go to the loafer, and skulker, to use a term applied years ago by the Prime Minister to the nonunionist, who is mean and contemptible enough to accept the benefits gained by the sacrifice, organization, and united effort of the unionists. The Attorney General knows that the Bill is a scarecrow, and the Government that ‘ he is driving will be known in the days to come as the “ Scarecrow Government.” When the history of this Parliament is written, and our youngsters have to learn who misgoverned the country in 1914, let them read in large letters at the top of the page the words, “Reign of the Scarecrow Government.” We know how much money has been spent on the Attorney-General’s education. He, with his mighty talent, his forensic skill, his subtlety and cunning, which has enabled him to delude his fellow-men, might now be expected to remember the land to which all of us must ultimately go, and to wish to undo some of his past work. He might be expected to use his great intellect, not for the undermining, but for the strengthening of unionism. Although he says that he is in favour of unionism, he introduces a proposal which cuts the heart out of it. He might well be called the “ Tory-General,” instead of the Attorney-General. I am one who joined a union at the age of sixteen and a half years, when preference to unionists was undreamt of, the preference being all for non-unionists. Strikes were then the order of the day. Who caused them ? The non-unionists, who for decades, to my knowledge, have created industrial unrest. The Attorney-General recognises that the organized army of Labour is so powerful that he cannot allow this proposal to be submitted to a Select Committee. He knows that the verdict of an independent body of men on this proposal would be such as would put an end to his political existence. In my opinion, his motion is not worth the paper that it is written upon.
– What will he have to say when he is brought to his last account?
– He will wish that there was an Arbitration Court to appeal to, in which case, no doubt, he would claim preference as a member of the Barristers’ Union. When I turn the searchlight of criticism on the AttorneyGeneral, and peer into the depths - I was going to say of his villainy - but that would be unparliamentary–
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I move -
That the honorable member be granted an extension of half-an-hour.
– I second the motion.
– I do not know of any reason why an extension of time should be granted.
– The Attorney-General interrupted the speaker a good deal.
– As a personal explanation, I wish to say that I regret an episode that occurred a few moments ago, and of which I may have been the cause. The honorable member for Dalley was lying uncovered, and knowing him to be in bad health, and seeing on the benches opposite a blanket and pillow lying unused, I thought that he might have the benefit of them. At the present moment I see one honorable member opposite using three pillows. It was a disgraceful act for the Government Whip to seek to take the pillow away from the honorable member for Dalley. I am sorry that I was not here when he did so.
.The first thing I see in this morning’s newspaper is the heading “ Blankets for Liberals.” Unquestionably there is preference to Liberals in this matter. From time to time Ministers and their followers addressing public meetings throughout the country have spoken in horror of the iniquity of giving preference to different classes. They have spoken of it as destructive of the liberty of the subject, saying that the Government, which imposes taxation on every citizen, should give all an equal opportunity. Such a Government might naturally be expected to show some consistency.
-i call attention to the presence of strangers.
– Does ‘the honorable member refer to the press?
– If the honorable member reads the Standing Orders, he will find out the meaning of the word “ strangers.”
– Do I understand the honorable member for Henty to be calling attention to the presence of strangers?
– Yes, under standing order 435.
– -The honorable member for Henty having called attention to the fact that there are strangers in the House, it is my duty to put the question, “ That strangers be ordered to withdraw.”
– There is no motion before the House.
– It is my duty, under the standing order, to forthwith put’ the question, which cannot be debated.
Question resolved in the negative.
M.’r. ANSTEY.- We have seen in this Chamber to-night that the Government, after all, do not really wish to prohibit preference generally, but only in the case of particular sections. They have shown a preference to their own side in the matter of blankets and pillows, which are not provided with the money of the members of the Government, but with the money of the general taxpayer.
– Order !
– Who says the members of the Government have not provided the money ?
– I say so.
– It is a mistake,
– Those pillows and blankets which are provided for honorable members opposite-
– When an honorable member makes an accusation, and that accusation is denied, is that honorable member in order in continuing to make it?
– Of course, when an honorable member denies an accusation, the honorable member who has made it is expected to withdraw it
– The honorable member for Henty has no authority for saying that the members of the Government paid for the blankets.
-I am merely deciding the point of order. I was about to call the attention of the honorable member for Henty to the fact ‘that he himself was hardly in order.
– But you have not decided my point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker The Attorney-General said that the statement of the honorable member for Bourke was incorrect ; and I ask whether the honorable member for Bourke is in order in repeating what has already been denied?
– I have already pointed out that the honorable member for Bourke was out of order in making any reference to those matters, which are not relevant to the subject under discussion.
– I was referring to preference in the matter of blankets merely as an illustration. One of the objections raised to the Bill is that it is intended to prevent something that does not exist, and, therefore, it. is suggested that a Select Committee should be appointed to ascertain the real facts. The Attorney-General last night informed his audience that if the Bill were carried, it would prevent any future Government from giving preference to any section of the community; and that statement has been said to be as far from truth as heaven is from hell. A Select Committee would be able to inquire and report as to whether the Bill did contain one word that affirmed a principle or established any machinery to carry that principle out.
– The honorable member is singularly inaccurate, because if this amendment be carried, the Bill can never come before the House or any Committee.
– The AttorneyGeneral now says that the object of the amendment is to prevent the Bill ever coming before the House.
– So it does. Your statement was that I had misrepresented the character of the Bill that the Government are asking leave to introduce, but if the amendment is carried the Bill the Government seek to introduce cannot be introduced, and will not go before the Committee.
– Certainly the Committee will not inquire into the Government’s Bill, but it will inquire into the general question of preference to unionists, and it may report that the Government Bill deals ineffectively, or too extensively, with the’ matter. Time after time in the history of Anglo-Saxon Parliaments Bills have been referred to Select Committees, sometimes with the idea of enlarging their scope, and sometimes with the object of modifying them. For instance, a Bill to repeal the duties on leather was referred to a Select Committee, and the Committee was instructed to report what should be done in the matter. The Committee now asked for may report that a Bill is unnecessary, or they may prepare a measure that will deal more effectively with the subject. The Government measure is not a machinery Bill; it is. merely the affirmation of a principle, and as an act of legislation is worth nothing more than a resolution carried by a debating society. It has no power of operation; it cannot be carried into effect. If, on the day after it is passed, an official should give preference to a unionist there would be no power to punish him. If a Minister were to give preference to any section of the community, there would be nothing by which he could be impeached, fined, or penalized in any way, or even held up to public opprobrium. In fact, the measure is a mere pretence. There is no machinery in it to carry into effect that with which it professes to deal.
– Is the honorable member in order in discussing a Bill which has not been introduced ?
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject-matter of the amendment.
– The Attorney-General adopts a remarkable attitude. He raises a point of order when one attempts to answer his interjections. The AttorneyGeneral says that the Bill has power which will operate in a certain direction. Other honorable members absolutely deny this. Therefore it is fair that the matter should be referred to a Select Committee. It may prepare another Bill; it may enlarge or modify the scope of the measure introduced by the Government; it may provide the machinery clauses which the Government have omitted from their measure; it may impose prohibition, not only on industrial associations, but also upon the Government, preventing the giving of preference to any body of contractors until, or unless, other contractors have an equal opportunity of tendering for particular work. There is no knowing to what extent it might go. It would have power to send for persons and papers, and secure and sift all the evidence available on the subject, and thusinform the country as to whether the accusations made against the last Government had any foundation. It could adjourn from place to place. Like the Tariff Commission, it would not be able to secure all its information in one State. It might go to the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow^ where 500 or 600 men areemployed, and examine the men, and theofficers, and discover if any injury hasbeen done to any person, or if any nonunionist has been deprived of employment, and see where are the suffering wives and children of men deprived of employment by the” iniquitous action of the late Government. It could go to Cockatoo Island, and inquire into the history of the works there, and see whether there has been an unjust example of preference, or whether any one has been deprived of employment. It could travel to the various naval works in Sydney Harbor, also to Jervis Bay. where there are many men working. Would it not be ‘a splendid thing if it could ascertain that a poor man who did not happen to belong to a union had gone to JervisBay, only to find he could not get work because he did not happen to belong to a union? Would it not be a fine thing for the Government to be able to hold up thispoor crucified man to public view as an example of the poor suffering men lacking work through the tyrannizing action of the late Government, and deprived of means of existence? When we come to think of the political capital the Government would derive from the investigations of such a Committee, we cannot understand their attitude towards the amendment. The Committee would gather just what the Government lacked in the shape of tangible evidence. Ministers take their stand on general principles, but how strong would they be, how they would orate on the platform, if they could only hold up one person who had been crucified, and made a victim by the late Government ! The Committee could also travel to Duntroon, and Acton, and the Military College, and to the Cotter River, where there is the beautiful flowing stream that is to fertilize the land surrounding the future capital of Australia. Would it not be splendid to pick out a victim there? Isit not worth while appointing a Select Committee, if only to in- dorse the action of Ministers, and prove how strong their case is ? If the Government desired to secure adequate information they would be only too anxious to have a Select Committee appointed so as to secure all possible evidence in order to justify to the country i the enforcement of this measure. Everybody knows that the late Government were accused of giving spoils to the victors in all shapes and forms. It was said that all good positions in the Government service were given to friends of Labour Ministers, and those friends in turn gave preference to others who had been politically and industrially associated with them. At the Cotter River a large number of men are employed, and if a Select Committee were appointed they might elicit information which would enable the Government to expose to the country the iniquities committed by the Labour party when they were in power. Then there are, at the woollen mills, men who were appointed by the Labour Government, and to whom preference was given, to the exclusion of non-unionists and free labourers who were not given a chance. The Committee could take evidence there, and what a tremendous illustration that would be of the tyranny of the Labour party ! Would that not be a justification for the Attorney-General, in his fine flights of oratory about upholding the equality of all citizens before the law and the liberty of the citizens? Why should the honorable member not avail himself of all the opportunities which the prerogatives of the Chamber give him to secure all the information that is at hand? The honorable member could carry the country by sheer weight of evidence, instead of having to depend on the mere generalities which he indulges in at present. At Crib Point there are naval works where hundreds of men and bosses, appointed by the late Government, are employed. There, again, the Committee could take evidence. In fact, the world is full of possibilities, and if a Committee were appointed it would unquestionably supply us with a wealth of facts. Instead of having the affirmations of one party and the denials of the other, would it not be better to have before a Select Committee witnesses who would give their evidence upon oath and whose words would be recorded in black and white ? At Crib Point there is a clothing factory in connexion with which the Labour Government are charged with having appointed officers because of their political and industrial association with the Labour party. Surely amongst all the girls and men employed at the factory there is a wealth of evidence lying to the Government’s hands. From the clothing factory the Committee could pass on to the small arms factory, then to the cordite factory, and so on, from point to point, and place to place. Having done their work in Victoria and New South Wales, the Committee could pass on to South Australia, proceed to Port Augusta and ascertain what injustices have been done in connexion with the transcontinental line. Afterwards they could travel by boat to Western Australia to examine the post-office site in Perth, pass on to Kalgoorlie and take all the evidence they could possibly secure there, proceed round the coast to Port Darwin, and go down the Katherine River, and on to Alice Springs, and miss not a single chance of taking evidence. The Committee might even examine the native races of the Northern Territory. Upon the evidence thus secured and submitted to the House we could proceed to legislate. If the Committee had not time to complete their labours before the end of the session, the Standing Orders would permit of their continuing their operations by order of the House. The work of a Committee travelling from one part of Australia to another in the manner I have described would be invaluable, because its opportunities would not be restricted to the one matter of preference to unionists. It could not travel from State to State without observing many things that might be of advantage, and the intellectual standard of the House would be enhanced. Members of the Committee would come back with a wider vision, and we should all be gainers by the increased information which would be at our disposal. Now I come to the composition of the Committee. The Committee should, of course, comprise men of unqualified judgment, men who are able to rise above party bias, men of honour and understanding. It would necessarily follow that there would be some members who would be excluded. I would not make the Committee too large ; but, at the same time, I would not exclude any member who wished to sit on it, so that if the Committee were large enough the amount of information that would be gathered in the course of its travels would increase from day to day. dishing, in his Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies, tells us that -
The appointment of a few members, selected from the whole bod)’, for the performance of some particular duty, furnishes so obvious and convenient a means of facilitating the transaction of business, in a legislative body, or other deliberative Assembly, that it would be strange not to find the employment of committees a common practice in both branches of .Parliament from the earliest period. Accordingly in the most ancient of the Journals of the Commons, which are now extant, and as early as the year 1.554, there are entries of the appointment of committees.
It is remarkable that the first Select Committee of which there is any record was appointed as the result of an amendment to a motion for leave to introduce a Bill. That was in 3554. I find that, there was a Bill to avoid counterfeit steel; a Bill against the shooting of gags, whatever that might have been; a Bill against the unlawful assembling of masterless men, and a Bill for avoiding sand out of the sea. In the first case, my Lord Willoughby laid out the Duke of Suffolk, who, with fifty-two others, was charged with high treason, and the whole of thom finally lost their heads. As a reward for his services, my Lord Willoughby wished the Commons to carry a Bill by- which all the property of the Duchess of Suffolk would on her death pass to him. The duchess asked to see the Bill. My Lord Willoughby opposed her request, and the Government, between the partisans on both sides, found themselves in a quandary. The duchess got one of her supporters to move for leave to introduce a Bill relating to the matter, and my Lord Willoughby in the end had all his trouble for nothing. A Select Committee was appointed, and the weight of evidence secured by it was such that the Government had to retire from their position. That shows the value of Select Committees. Amendments upon motions for leave to introduce Bills have been allowed for centuries in the British Parliament, and I presume that this House, in adopting the procedure of the House of Commons, recognised that the power to move such amendments might at some time prove of value, lt was recognised, no doubt, that there might come a time when an effort would be made to burlesque legislation. I have heard some honorable members say that chi-i Bill is a mere burlesque. If a Select Committee were appointed it could determine the question. There are Bills which it is absolutely necessary to refer to a Select Committee in order that a matured judgment may be brought to bear upon them. On the 9th May, 1816, Castlereagh moved for leave to introduce a Bill to repeal duties on leather. An amendment was moved for the appointment of a Select Committee to report to the House. The Government, when introducing that measure, should have been in a position to go right on; but there were such big interests at stake that the House in its wisdom decided that the matter should be referred to a Select Committee. All the authorities go to show that the amendment in this case should be carried. If it were, other important measures which the Government say they desire to bring on could be dealt with at once. That being so, we are really trying to assist the Government when we say that instead of arguing this question until doomsday we should refer it to a Select Committee for investigation and report, so that in the meantime proposals for dealing with the financial situation, which the Government say must claim our consideration, may, together with other measures, be brought forward. We do not know what the decision of the Select Committee would be. It might, propose to enlarge the scope of the Bill; on the other hand, it might propose to modify it. If it found that there was. no value in the Bill at all, it would tell us so. There is not a proposition in the Government programme - if any one happens to know what that programme is - that could not be dealt, with whilst the Select Committee was investigating thisquestion. Tor all these reasons - because of the universality of the practice; because from time to time Parliament hasdeemed it desirable to refer such questions to a Select Committee- I think that the Government would be wise in accepting our amendment.
– The purpose of the amendment is to bring about inquiry, and I may say, on behalf of the Labour party, that the more inquiry there is into the proposals of the Government the better we shall be pleased. The Prime Minister has furnished us with abundance of evidence in regard to a period of nearly thirty years: in this country, and has drawn also fromthe experience of other countries, to sup- port the proposition that the progress of the people in industrial matters has depended largely, if not wholly, on the determination of united bodies to have preference shown to their members. I cannot believe that the Prime Minister has seriously changed his mind on this subject, and if political exigencies have now associated him with colleagues who will not permit him to express his true views, he is to be pitied rather than blamed.
– The right honorable member ought to know all about that, judging by his conduct lately.
– What does the Prime Minister mean?
– That you have taken the whole thing out of his hands, and are dragging him at your heels.
– The Prime Minister could ascertain the facts without making misstatements. Now that he has made the charge so that I can reply to it, I say that I myself suggested during this sitting that a vote should be taken on the amendment. No other person suggested it until I had done so.
– Did the right honorable member suggest the obstruction of our business at this stage?
– Is the Prime Minister in order in saying that there has been deliberate obstruction 1
– The Prime Minister imputed obstruction, and I ask him to withdraw his remark.
– I asked a question.
– This is an instance of the Prime Minister’s prevarication.
– It is possible to make an imputation by asking a question. Of course, if the Prime Minister assures me that he intended no imputation, I accept the assurance.
-1 call your attention, sir, to the allegation of the honorable member for Bourke that I indulge in prevarication, and I ask that the remark be withdrawn.
– The honorable member will withdraw the suggestion.
– I withdraw with pleasure any imputation that I may have made.
– Not very long ago, when dealing with this1 subject, I think in Melbourne, the Prime Minister stated that grave dangers were threatening the civilized world by reason of the militant attitude .of unionists generally, and he illustrated his argument. with references to what had taken place in Leeds, Johannesburg, Brisbane, and other places! In each of these places disputes arose as to the rights and privileges of unionists, including their right to preference under certain circumstances. In Leeds there were disturbances such as must be deplored by every person who has the welfare of humanity at heart.
– I submit that these remarks are irrelevant.
-SPEAKER. - I ask the honorable member for Wide Bay to connect his remarks with the amendment.
– I submit that I am entitled to use the facts quoted by the Prime Minister to show the need for an inquiry into the question of preference to unionists, as applied either by a Government or by private individuals.
– The amendment restricts the discussion to preference in regard to Government employment.
– It asks for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into matters connected with the proposal to prohibit preference to unionists in Government employment. Any sensible Committee that might be appointed would, of course, have to inquire into the facts of private employment. If a Committee were appointed to inquire into a certain Government contract, it would be absurd to say that questions should be asked about nothing but Government contracts. No doubt the desire of Ministers is to do justice to the majority of the people of Australia; but we differ from them on a question of policy, and intend to carry the difference before the country.
– As soon as possible..
– Is the honorable member serious ?
– The Prime Minister need not laugh ; he will not escape it. We came through all this in 1910. Bluff will not count in these matters for any length of time. Preference to unionists is, and always will remain, a great principle. Industrial unionism began among the toiling masses. Those first connected with the movement suffered for it, and although to-day the workers are organized as they never were before, those prominent in the movement largely suffer from their connexion with it. The question whether in a. Democratic country the Executive should give effect to the policy of Parliament or should leave it to .others to determine whether there should he preference, and under what circumstances–
-SPEAKER.- The right honorable member has already spoken on the main question, and is now rather wide of the amendment, which provides for the appointment of a Select Committee.
– I submit, as a point of order, that that is the only question the right honorable gentleman may now discuss.
-I have already indicated that.
– One of the questions which must go to such a Committee i3 that submitted by the Prime Minister himself, namely, whether this proposal of the Government is good for the country. My opinion is that the Bill, as submitted to the House, is not in the best interests of the people; and, therefore, it ought to go to a Select Committee for further investigation. Since 1904 this Parliament has affirmed, by large majorities, the principle of preference to unionists; and this Government, without a mandate from the people, and without full consideration of the matter, propose to abandon a policy that has been recognised by a previous Administration. Seeing that the Government have done this, and have given reasons for their action, I am entitled, I submit, to show the weakness of those reasons, which have been stated by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, and also to contend that further investigation will show them - and, what is more important, will show the electors - that the Government proposal will be injurious rather than beneficial to the interests of the country generally. The Attorney-General, who is in charge of the Bill, has been good enough to give the public his views on the question, and he states that he is against preference by either a Court or the Government. If we had a Select Committee, the Attorney-General, providing he would submit himself, could be interrogated as to why he believes that preference is not in the interests of the community. At the present time, certain Courts have by law the power to grant preference to unionists; and three times this Parliament has affirmed the principle. I go further, and assert that the result of the last election did not qualify, or set aside in any degree, this decision.
– I fought each of my campaigns on that very question, and was returned to oppose preference to unionists.
– No doubt; but there is equally no doubt that the honorable member was also returned to oppose certain other things. I hope it is not to be assumed that the honorable member is here solely because he opposed preference to unionists by the Government. I take it that the honorable member, as a candidate, opposed preference to unionists generally.
– That is so.
– That is quite apart from the present proposal of the Government, but it is a matter into which a Select Committee might inquire. The Attorney-General, according to his reported public statements, agrees with the honorable member for Hume in his opposition to preference by a Court, the Executive, or by Parliament.
– Surely the major includes the minor?
– Certainly; but that is not the proposal before us now. If it is the policy of the Government, why is it not laid before us by Ministers? Is there not a good deal of political cowardice in submitting a proposal which some of the Government’s own friends say is nothing, means nothing, and will do nothing?
– Does the right honorable gentleman object to the policy of step by step?
– If the steps are good steps, I am in favour of such a policy, whether the object aimed at be popular or otherwise. When the honorable member has been a little longer here, he will find that those who take the seemingly unpopular step are those who do the most for the country. At present, however, he is associated with a party who are not seeking to take what they consider a popular step, but a step by which they hope to gain something; and in every instance where that course has been followed - sooner or later - and it has never been long delayed - those who do so suffer. The progress of the world depends on investigation. The toilers, who alone will be affected by this Bill, have won their rights despite Parliaments, autocrats, emperors, and all the powers that could be arrayed against them. To-day organized wealth is adopting the same attitude as tyrants, whether emperors, kings, or’ feudal lords, have ever adopted. This Government holds up what they call the flag of “ liberty and equality,” but it is the flag of neither one nor the other. Under cover of the words, “ neither preference nor discrimination,” they propose to take to themselves absolute power to discriminate in the selection of their employes.
– The Government say that there shall be no discrimination.
– What guarantee is there as to that?
– Make it part of the law of the land.
– The honorable member has intellect, whatever may be said of his politics, and I point out to him that the proposal of the Government is purely negative; it says that the Executive shall not be bound by any rule of conduct whatever.
– It says that the Government shall not discriminate.
– No; what the Government say is that they will not take any direction, understood or otherwise, left by their predecessors, but are determined to be free to employ whom they may, and how they will.
– They say that they will act impartially as the trustees of the people.
– Is society influence not discrimination? If the Government so desires, they may, under cover of this declaration, be blind to any but those whom they desire to see.
– The right honorable member is speaking with knowledge now. That was his experience in office, was it not?
– All our acts were done openly.
– Yes, through the side-door.
– We should do the same again.
– I am sure the right honorable member would, if he got the chance.
– The Government have all the records of our appointments before them; and in giving preference to unionists, we restricted our choice, and prevented discrimination.
– I remind the right honorable member again that the question of preference is not before us.
– If a Select Committee were appointed to inquire into the question of preference and discrimination, would it be beyond the bounds of the order of leave if that Committee were to inquire into the effect of nondiscrimination in other nations? Honorable members are aware of what is taking place at the present time in Colorado, America. Cable messages have been received showing that a state of civil war prevails in the great mines owned by the Rockefellers, who have declared that they will not recognise any organization whatever in the shape of a trade union - that they prefer to shoot down the people, or to close their mines, and starve tha workers out, rather than that the proprietors should not be allowed to run their business in their own way. Is the Prime Minister prepared to say that that is the correct position to take up?1 For it is the position proposed to be adopted by the Government here as a large employer. Hitherto, Governments have not been employers of labour in the sense that they are now; and, therefore, we can quite understand why preference has not been sought or given. The question arises how it was that Governments came into the arena as employers, and entered into enterprises which, until recent years, were carried out entirely by private people. When the facts as to this point have been ascertained, we have to find out, by evidence, whether it is not more in the interests of the Commonwealth to have particular work carried out by people who, as far as practicable, belong to trade organizations. I am convinced that if we had a Committee of inquiry we would undoubtedly come to the conclusion that the balance of utility and benefit both to the workmen and to the country would be on the lines of granting, preference to unionists in any enterprise carried on by the Government. As it is the business of Parliament, and the duty of the Government, to protect the interestsof the people and promote their general welfare, the Committee would need to inquire as to whether there would be dan-‘ gers that would overbalance the advantages that might accrue by promoting unions and granting preference. The>
Prime Minister was a very close associate and the first lieutenant of Sir George Reid when he was in this Parliament, and even prior to his coming to this Parliament, and, although Sir George Reid was against preference to unionists of any kind at one time, he was afterwards convinced by argument that it was a good thing. It is certainly not part of my business to quote anything I heard him say generally; but I have heard him say that he believed that preference was undoubtedly beneficial to the development of unionism, and that? unionism was absolutely essential for the protection of employes against combinations of capitalists.
– Is it a fair thing to quote what you heard Sir George Reid say?
– If any exception is taken to it, I withdraw it.
– It cannot be anything else but a political statement if you quote it. You have no right to make it..
– I withdraw my remarks. They were only preliminary to reminding the Prime Minister that the development of ‘organizations in the Government service has been so great that we are warranted in maintaining that the Government are mistaken in bringing forward their proposals again without further inquiry. I should like an opportunity of sitting with the Prime Minister on a Select Committee, and making inquiries into this particular subject. The Select Committee would take evidence from members of Parliament and employers and employes of every kind, and would not limit its investigations to Australia. The time has passed when any democratic Government can safely confine its investigations to matters which take place within its own shores. The only limitations to the field of investigation in indus- . trial, social, and political matters are the limits of the globe itself. Time was, and not very long ago, when means of communication, and means of transport, were exceedingly limited, and the information available to people in every part of the world made evidence, if it could be got, of very little value. To-day we are privileged creatures compared with people who lived previously. Every happening in any continent or in the young Dominions of the southern seas is immedi ately made available by cable, and subsequently by more detailed communication to the newspapers or by letters to individuals, and it is not a wise Government nor a perfectly shrewd people who would carry out a policy of their own with insufficient information. The AttorneyGeneral has said that preference was given ‘ behind Parliament, and that the present Ministers would prohibit it.
– The statement is not correct. We spent some days discussing the matter.
– It is not historically correct. As a matter of fact, Parliament twice approved before any step was taken, and the present action is not a challenge to a policy inaugurated without the approval of the electors, because in 1904, 1906, and 1910 the people, by a vast majority, approved of what I have just said.
– Can you explain how it is that the Arbitration Court has only made use of the provision once ?
– I think the Arbitration Court has granted preference to unionists on more than one occasion. It has granted it nearly as often as it has been asked for, and it was necessary to protect claimants from victimization.
– The honorable member is discussing the motion, and not the amendment.
– I do not think the honorable member has given the actual facts; but as there is a clear difference between the honorable member and myself on the point, why not have an investigation, at which all the authorities could be called to show why preference to unionists was not granted more frequently? The Attorney-General :at Sandringham on the 11th May, 1914, said -
His personal attitude was one of opposition to preference to unionists, either judicially or in any other form.
Not only are the Government opposing discrimination as regards those in the Government service, but they are, some of them at least, prepared to go much further. An investigating Committee could ascertain on what grounds that policy was founded. If it is the right policy to pursue, why should we not have evidence upon i? The Attorney-General, who is not’ one of. the least of the Ministry, and has a say in the business of the House, sometimes even differing from the Prime Minister, would be able to give some valuable information on the point. As sponsor for the Bill he has plainly stated what he intended to do - that is, to put it through. I would not be in order in quoting the hundred different statements he has made as to the intention of the Bill, but it would be a subject upon which a Select Committee could inquire. There have been sporting offers made in the House, and out of it, by the Prime Minister and others, as to what the Government will do. Is the Prime Minister prepared to make a sporting offer that we will have a Select Committee on the matter ?
– You say you wish to take the matter to the country. Why waste time? Let us get on with the Bill. You interrupted me. I was reading about those thousands of voters who ought not to be enrolled.
– I reply in the words of one of the journals supporting the Prime Minister, that it is a work of supererogation.
– I cannot think of anything else but inflated rolls and fictitious enrolment.
– The Prime Minister may smile to-day, but he will not smile when the official authority makes his reply to that: The honorable member is, no doubt, reading the evidence of a gentleman specially brought down from one State to another so that he could deliver his evidence in such a way as to affect the public.
– Order !
– Another reason for the appointment of this Committee would be to ascertain from the Prime Minister what he meant when he said, in regard to this particular Bill, that the Government were either going on or going out. We are not allowed to interrogate the Prime Minister in this House, and I am not sure that we could interrogate him before a Committee if he desired not. to attend. I have always held the view that Ministers of the- Crown may or may not answer questions; but if they held strong views on this matter they should certainly accept the position, and give the Committee the benefit of their views. A great deal has been said about discrimination and preference, and it has been said by members on the Government side - particularly the Attorney-General - that the toilers in Australia at the present fame are not receiving as much for their labour as they are receiving in other countries. If a Committee were appointed, and it were discovered that not only was preference given to unionists in employment in Canada, but that, as stated by the AttorneyGeneral, higher rates of remuneration are paid to those workers, would not the Prime Minister then say that the proposal of the Government was not a just one, and was entirely uncalled for at the present time ?
– No. I should make the inference that it was the result of Liberal Government -in Canada.
– If I were prepared to show that these were the facts, would the Prime Minister then take notice of the matter ?
– You are asking a hypothetical question.
– If it were shown that a State gives preference to unionists, would that have any effect on the Government? No, the Government are not to be influenced by facts at all. This Bill is part of a policy determined upon for political reasons of their own. The Government are quite entitled to pursue their policy in their own particular way; but if an appeal to reason had any weight with the Government they would abandon this proposal entirely. Whether we are successful in getting a Committee of inquiry or not, I am of opinion that the Prime Minister and his party will gain nothing by their proposals. I make no charge and no complaint as to the attitude of the Government, beyond saying that it is an attempt on their part to frighten a number of people who are timid in regard to these matters; and I can touch the Prime Minister’s memory and inner consciousness when I say that this proposal is one to embarrass, hinder, and hurt the development of unionism in general. - The men who made the world what it is to-day, the men who fought the feudal lords, who fought the capitalists, and have to fight them to-day just as bitterly as ever, are to suffer the taunts, jeers, and sneers of the Government in a Democratic country. If they are unionists they will be discriminated against, notwithstanding the statement that there will be no discrimination and no preference.
– Do you hear the applause you are provoking here ?
– I hear the grunts and groans of the people who try to destroy the factors and organizations which have made our civilization, the groans of those who are comfortable and who despoil the toilers. That sort of thing will not continue for ever.
– Enough of that soft soap. Is there anybody on this side who is more comfortable than you are?
– Behind the Government and their party is every vested interest, every selfish, brutal interest that would crush the toilers.
– There are plenty of interests behind you.
– There are men sitting in the Government, who, when they were mighty and powerful, hit hard the poor unfortunate unionist when he was caught like a rat in a trap. Unionists were not punished for an hour, or for a year, but for the whole of their natural lives. There was no mercy or consideration shown to them, or their wives and families. They were disfranchised, and the rights of citizens were taken away from them. That was done by the honorable member who guides the destinies of the Government, and tells the public plainly what he would do. The Prime Minister laughs and jeers.
– The only man with his tongue in his cheek is the Leader of the Opposition at this moment.
– Have I said anything to offend the honorable member?
– Your whole speech is a travesty.
– In what - have I offended ?
– In making statements which are not correct.
– These are statements of fact within my own knowledge.
– I say there is as much interest to-day behind you as behind any other party.
– We do not want it: we do not seek it. Those people can get nothing from us. We stand for the toiling masses, and for everybody who seeks justice. We want no favoritism from any one. There can be no progress in a democratic country until all workmen are organized, and if a Committee were appointed to investigate this matter, we could show that the development and growth of organization is a great economic saving. We should discover that in these organizations the most intelligent members discuss every phase of their industries as they affect each individual; and they have little, courts of their own, quite as important in their way as the Arbitration Court, deciding, not only the wages, but the conditions of labour. Even in these so-called good times, the struggle for existence is hard enough, without another infliction being placed on men who ought to enjoy preference in the Government service as well as in private employment. We should also prove to the Committee that the statements made by honorable members opposite regarding the probable effects of preference to unionists are not correct; they are misleading, and, in some instances, Ave should be able to show that they were intentionally and purposely misleading. Honorable members, when speaking throughout the country, have again and again had statements credited to them that preference to unionists affects the whole of the employes under the Public Service Commissioner. We should be able to show that it does nothing of the kind, that, it only affects the ordinary casual employes of the Government. I am not here to say what limitations, if any, the Government would place upon preference to unionists. I fully believe, however, that what may be regarded today as politically inadvisable will be cheerfully adopted and approved a few years hence. The march of civilization is steady, and, where public instruction goes on, is all in the one direction. Here we have an educated Democracy. Every individual in the community is being educated, and men will not allow others to enjoy the fruits of their toil while they are struggling in desperation to keep body and soul together. I ask the Prime Minister, in these days when people are looking forward hopefully to a brighter future, not to intervene on the plea of justice and equity as between man and man, and not to set aside the principle of preference to those who have toiled unitedly to secure justice in either pub- lie or private employment. I know no difference between the Government and a private individual as an employer of labour. The Executive Government is but the Board of Directors of a great national concern, and since the shareholders, through their representatives in this Parliament, have decided that preference is a good thing, why should not the managing directors of the Commonwealth grant preference in the same way as the Parliament has prescribed that it may be given by the Court? I know of no answer to that question. It is for the Government to decide what they should do. But if our view is not accepted by the House, we shall cheerfully carry this question to the country, and, notwithstanding that nine-tenths of the press are against us, will place our views upon it fearlessly before a united Democracy. We believe that the principle which we advocate, if carried out, will prove to be for all time in the interests of the people.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. McDonald’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
– I think we may-
– I rise to order. I notice that the honorable member for Gwydir and the honorable member for Brisbane have possession of some of my property. I ask, Mr. Speaker, that they be directed to return it.
– I ask honorable members to restore the property.
– It was kindly lent to the honorable members in question, and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable member for Richmond has any right to claim it.
– Who loaned it?
– I claim it, and ask that it be given up.
– I request honorable members to restore the property which has been claimed by the honorable member for Richmond.
– If the honorable member for Richmond is referring to this pillow, I desire to say that I found it on the floor, and that there is nothing on it to indicate its ownership. I decline to restore it to the honorable member unless he proves that it is his property.
– I would remind the honorable member that he must obey the direction of the Chair.
– Have I your word, sir, that this is the property of the honorable member for Richmond 1
– The honorable member is bound to accept the statement of the honorable member for Richmond that it is his property.
– I hand it to the honorable member.
– If the honorable member for Richmond claims my watch, am I bound to give it up to him ?
– I understood the honorable member for Richmond to say that two honorable members had possession of his property. I did not hear him
– I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable member for Gwydir has not obeyed your direction, and I ask that he be again directed to return the pillow of which he retains possession .
– The honorable member for Gwydir will deliver to the honorable member for Richmond his property.
– The amendment having being’ negatived, the air has been cleared in a measure for the serious and unprejudiced consideration of the motion of the Attorney-General asking for leave to introduce a certain Bill, a matter that I consider of great and even paramount importance. As to the nature of the Bill, we can only hazard a guess, although we have had statements as to its purpose from honorable members opposite, including the Attorney-General himself. We know enough of it to regard it with grave suspicion. It is a Bill to prohibit thegranting of preference to unionists in relation to Government employment, and has been designated by Ministers a test measure to brins; about a double dissolution. I say advisedly, and with a sense of the responsibility resting upon me, that it is sought to introduce the Bill, not to deal with the question of preference to unionists, but to provoke a quarrel between the two political parties in Parliament. It is unusual for the motion for leave to introduce a Bill to be discussed.
– No. .
– The party is not so caucus driven that its members may not differ on a point like this. I admit that my honorable friend has had a longer experience in Parliament than I have had, but I regard the discussion as unusual. In any case, it suits my argument to so regard it. A long debate on the motion to introduce a Bill can be justified only when the Bill sought to be introduced is of a peculiarly odious and contemptible character. The proposed Bill has been more than once described as the shadow of a sham. Those are the terms in which it has been designated by the honorable member for West Sydney. It may be asked, why then do we trouble to oppose it? The Attorney-General has remarked with some petulance that this criticism has been repeated with nauseating iteration. In reply to the question wiry does
It does not attempt to touch the question of really great importance, except in the way I have indicated, and then only as to one of the smaller and less important phases. If the Government had proposed to challenge the Labour party on the general question of preference, we should have been prepared to meet them; we should, at all events, have welcomed the Bill, and have argued and reasoned with the Government on its merits. However, there are no merits, and there is no substance, in the Bill; and we think it is offensive to our intelligence that it should be presented and persisted in and flaunted before the public as a measure which is to form the basis of a double dissolution, and plunge the country into the turmoil and expense of a general election in connexion with both Houses. If we desire to find out where the main question is, we may find it on turning to a statement of the Ministerial policy presented by the Prime Minister, and ordered to be printed, on the 12th August, 1913. In the sub-clause of paragraph 2, it is stated that it was proposed to amend the law relating to conciliation and arbitration in such a way as to prohibit preference being granted by the Court to members of any organization, any part of whose funds were directly or indirectly applicable to political purposes; and also to restore the exemption of rural workers from the operations of the Act, believing that the conditionsof their employment ought to be left for determination by the States. It will be remembered that the new Government, which came into power in July, had no policy, and that the House was adjourned for a month to enable them to construct one. It is my pleasing duty to indicate what became of that policy as far as I know, though that is not very far. Paragraph 2, itself, stated that Ministers were opposed to any preference or favoritism in the Public Service, and had already taken steps to provide that competency and merit should be the only basis of employment and preferment on the public works of the Commonwealth.
– Is there anything wrong in that?
– I have not said so.
– Then why condemn it?
– The question is not whether there is anything wrong with the declaration. I am quite prepared, if the merits of the question are brought before the House, to discuss them; but here we find, what has been repeated on the platform and elsewhere with “ nauseating reiteration,” so the Attorney-General says, the declaration that preference in the Public Service has alreadybeen done away with. The very thing which was accomplished on the 12th August, 1913, is now detaining the House, at half-past 4 o’clock in the morning, in May, 1914. Preference in the Public Service was then at an end, finished, dead - completely wiped out - as though it had never existed; and this thrice dead policy is now to be killed again in this motion for leave to introduce a Bill. Do honorable members suppose that our intelligence is to be insulted with impunity ? Are we doing anything less than our duty in fighting the proposal at every stage? Because we have held it up to ridicule, are we not to hold it up to ridicule again ? Because we have made the Bill the laughingstock of Australia, are we not still further to make it a laughing-stock until the laughter ends in disgust at, andthe condign punishment of, the Government? There was, however, something that the Government did not do on the 12th August, 191.3, and that was to grapple with the main question of preference to unionists. They dare not grapple with it to-day.
– There is not time to do it.
– I shall deal with the views of the Attorney-General on this question. In that declaration of policy the Liberal party were committed to preference to unionists. I do not accuse the party of being sincere in this; I do not say for a moment that they are honest in their adoption ofthe policy so far as they have gone; but I do say that in that declaration, in which they indorse preference to unionists on the condition that it shall not be applicable to any union part of whose funds are directly or indirectly used for political purposes, they willingly or unwillingly give their unequivocal adherence to the policy. We must give the Attorney-General credit for his honesty. He, at least, has had the courage to say that he does not agree with, or believe in, preference to unionists at all. He is against his Cabinet and his party as to any kind of legal preference; he is fighting his party on the question, and has been fighting them all along. Although we give him credit for honesty, it is not, to my mind, exactly “the game “ to remain in the Cabinet, and take the spoils of office, when the policy of that Cabinet is as set out in the declaration to which I have referred, and at the same time go outside, and get what kudos he can from his own constituents by declaring that he does not believe in any kind of preference.
– Does the honorable member call that honest?
– Perhaps I should give the Attorney-General credit for courage rather than for honesty; at any rate, he has had the saving grace to break away from his party to that extent.
– Did the honorable member hear the honorable member for Capricornia on the question of preference in the legal profession ?
– Yes; and I have also heard the honorable member for Melbourne on the subject. The truth is that those honorable members have not an expert mind in regard to the matter, and do not understand it so well as I do. I admit there is unionism in the legal profession ; and why should there not be ? This is where I am consistent; I sit on this side pledged to preference in the legal profession as in other businesses.
– Would the honorable member qualify preference by examination and character?
– Certainly. My friend misapprehends me.
– I cannot see any analogy.
– A man in any avocation acquires a certain measure of skill to fulfil his work, and it is entirely a question of degree as to how much skill he acquires. Men are not allowed to experiment on the lives and bodies of others without having given a guarantee of possessing certain skill to do the work. But that does not touch the question of unionism. When the necessary amount of skill has been acquired, and qualifications have been granted, and doctors, chemists, lawyers, dentists, or artisans, whoever they are - it is perfectly immaterial, the principle is the same throughout - enter upon the practice of their professions or the work of their trades, we reach the question of unionism, and we find doctors’ unions and lawyers’ unions in existence.
– You have not dealt with the analogy between the doctor or lawyer and the worker.
– I have endeavoured to show the honorable member the complete analogy. I do not think it is becoming on the part of the honorable member for Richmond to cross the Chamber and reprimand the honorable member for Calare, who wishes to get a little information on a matter of public interest, and should be allowed to have a free mind. A man, whether he be a bricklayer or a lawyer, must have a certain amount of skill to do his work.
– But is the non-unionist bricklayer not as good as the unionist bricklayer ?
– Non-unionism among bricklayers has been found by long experience to be the badge of incompetence. But the principle is precisely the same, whether we are dealing with a profession or a trade. A man acquires a certain amount of skill to do the work his calling requires, and having been qualified to do the work, he enters into comradeship with others engaged in the profession or trade, and naturally unions are formed. Some of the strongest unions are the barristers’ union and the medical union. I do not think I have ever heard of stronger steps taken on behalf of a union than those taken by the Medical Association in respect to what they quite candidly call “blacklegs” in the profession. Not only are they a powerful union, but they are better unionists, because of the protection they afford to their profession and the members of the union. Good luck to them ! The barristers have their union, which is outside the solicitors’ union. During this debate the honorable member for Nepean made the very incautious admission that not all honorable members on the Government side were opposed to preference to unionists, except in regard to the Public Service. He was promptly taken up as having admitted that he was not opposed to preference to unionists except within the Public Service, and he did not insist on the qualification about political unionism which is contained in the Government’s programme of last session. His admission throws a flood of light upon the abandonment of every line of the Government’s policy in this regard. Ministers cannot proceed with their policy in regard to preference to unionists, because their own party evidently will not stick together in order to put it on the statute-book. Otherwise they would have gagged it through the Chamber. The honorable member for Nepean made it perfectly clear that the Ministerial party are not solid on the question, and it is very likely that this is one reason - though by no means a sufficient excuse - why the policy of the Government in this matter was abandoned. The crux of the. whole question is political unionism. It is admitted reluctantly - the admission has been dragged from honorable members opposite - that preference is denied only where the funds of unions are devoted to political purposes. In the enlightened twentieth century, what is wrong with the exercise of one’s political rights? Should any person be penalized for exercising political rights in the way he thinks proper? A man is to be penalized because he chooses to use his money in the way he thinks best within the law in order to promote his own interests. I can tell honorable members what is wrong about it. These political pur poses have been employed by unionists against honorable members opposite. Unionists have thought fit to support the radical Labour party, and, of course, they must be penalized, and have the law of the land directed against them. This seems to me to be pretty hot preference. Honorable members say, “ Yes ; we are driven to it reluctantly, but it is on our programme, and we shall stand by it; but there is to be no preference where you use your funds in a certain way.” In other words, if unionists vote for the opposite party their political rights will be shorn away.
– That is what you did in regard to the postal vote.
– The honorable member sees the logic of the position, and it is of no use his drawing a “red herring” across the matter at issue. If any one has been guilty of gross preference, it is those who say that preference is a lawful thing, but that if peopleare going to use their funds for the purpose of getting into Par liament members who are opposed to the Liberal party, they shall get no more of those things to which they are legally entitled, and their powers will be shorn down until they are trained to vote for the right persons. Then honorable members prattle about justice, fairness, and liberty, and about equality to all classes. The matter has only to be honestly examined to show the utter falsity of the position, and how illogical the Government are in regard to the general question of preference to unionists. I shall say little in regard to the exemption of rural workers from the operation of the Arbitration Act, on the ground that the matter should be left to the States, except that the States have had a chance to deal with the matter for fifty years, and have done nothing. It suits the Government to talk about “ restoring the exemption.” I am tempted to say that much in regard to the matter, also to add that it is a statesmanlike proposition
– You are speaking ironically.
– Yes, it is very good of my honorable friend to see that the fact is recorded. Speaking ironically, I say that is a statesmanlike proposition on the part of the Government when they are face to face with the great and serious problem of dealing with the rural workers of Australia to propose to outlaw them.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– In regard to this policy, it is to my mind a monstrous thing to put into the mouth of the representative of the Sovereign, a speech, which is no sooner uttered than it is apparently thrown into the waste-paper basket. It was in that connexion, I was speaking of the rural workers, and of the method by which the Government have dealt with those workers. It is a pathetic thing to see a Government charged with the responsibility of handling this difficult problem, coming down here and, after painting on the moon that one of the great questions to be dealt with was that of industrial unrest, saying in effect, “ We have decided to drive the rural workers outside the law, and to make outlaws of them.”
– They have never yet taken advantage of their privileges under the law.
– They will never take advantage of anything the honorable member will do for them, but they will organize, they will have their unions even though the honorable member would rob them of the right to go before the Court. The attitude of the Government towards the rural workers is to drive them outside the law. The honorable member for Hume says that the rural workers have not availed themselves of the law. If the honorable member means that they have not gone to the Arbitration Court I can only counsel him to have patience. I believe they are going there, that they have organized for that purpose, and I am pretty certain that the rural producers have had sufficient cunning to disband their organizations in order that they cannot be called before the Court to answer the citation.
– We have never disbanded in New South Wales, and we are ready to be called upon at any time.
– Will the honorable member say why he would drive the rural workers outside the Arbitration Act?
– Because the States can deal with them.
– If we adopt that view we might as well abandon all our responsibilities. When the States did deal with the question they did it very imperfectly. But is that any reason why we, being faced with a great national problem which we have a mandate from the people to deal with, should brush it aside and say that we will invite the States to shoulder the burden? But the honorable member for Calare must know that the States cannot deal with this question adequately. The States can only deal with disputes of an intra-State character.
– What did Mr. Holman say?
– My recollection of Mr. Holman’s latest proposal is that it was to the effect that the. Commonwealth should take entire control of industrial legislation. The Premier of New South Wales came to that conclusion very slowly, and much later in life than honorable members on this side of the House, but he has come at last. We wanted this fuller industrial power long ago; and we were supported by the
Attorney-General and many others on the other side of the House who have not had the goodness to support their convictions with their votes. I would like to tender a warning to Ministerial members, that, though they may keep the workers out of the Courts, though they may send them back to the tender mercies of the States, which I contend have not power to deal with them, because their jurisdiction is limited by their own particular boundaries, though they maydo what they will to rob those workers of the right to go to the Arbitration Court, the result will be that the men will have unions and organizations not controlled by any Statute. A point to be remembered is that every organization registered under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act-
– The rural workers are registered.
– The honorable member desires to take away their, power to register - to deregister them. I am pointing out the folly and futility of that policy, because the rural workers will still have their unions, but they will be unions not controlled by the law. They will say “ Wc registered, we gave up our power to strike, we were prepared to accept the award of the Court, but you have driven us out, you have made outlaws of us, and as outlaws we will treat you. We were prepared, to receive awards from an independent tribunal, but you would not allow us access to it, and we are now entitled to act on the principle that might is right and improve our conditions as best we can.” Mr. Falkiner.– Do you believe that a unionist should be obliged to vote for your party, or be expelled from the union?
– That question is thrown out with a view to asserting it as a fact. Needless to say that is no part of Labour principles or Labour policy. This party is not responsible for, and has never advocated, any such compulsion. Whatever atrocities the honorable member may have record of, are no concern of this party. We . do not contend that either our party, the Liberal party, or their supporters are entirely free from political blemishes.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I shall conclude by moving -
That after the word “ That,” line 1, the following words be inserted : - “ it is expedient that a Bill be introduced to prohibit in relation to Commonwealth employment preference to members of any industrial organization not registered under the laws of the Commonwealth.”
– On a point of order I submit that the amendment is a direction to introduce another Bill, and that it is entirely irrelevant. No precedent can be submitted in support of it. It is merely a direction to the Government to lay aside the proposed Bill, and to introduce another measure.
– I submit that the amendment is perfectly relevant to the motion, and that there is abundant precedent to support it. I need only refer you, Mr. Speaker, to the authority which was quoted last Friday, where, in the House of Commons on a motion for leave to introduce a Bill relating to the protection of persons and property in Ireland, an amendment was moved that it was expedient in the opinion of the House that that Bill should not be proceeded with, but that a Lands Bill should be introduced.
– I think that the honorable member will find that the amendment was in general terms, and dealt with some remedial measures connected with land legislation.
– The amendment was held by Mr. Speaker Brand to be in order.
– The honorable member is coming down in the world.
– I regard that remark as a reflection upon myself, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– If the honorable member regards the remark as a reflection upon himself it must be withdrawn.
– I merely suggested that the honorable member, in staying out until this time in the morning, was coming down in the world. I withdraw the remark.
– I need not repeat the argument that was addressed to you, Mr. Speaker, on Friday last in connexion with the authority which I have just cited. The amendment then proposed dealt with various questions which you held to be irrelevant to the subject-matter of the motion. This amendment, how ever, is entirely relevant to the subjectmatter of the motion. It provides for a cutting down of the scope of the present Bill, and I submit that it is perfectly in order.
– The Government ask for leave to introduce a Bill which purports to abolish all preferences. The amendment proposes the introduction of a Bill dealing with the same question, but providing that in some cases preference to unionists may be given. The Attorney-General argued last week that an amendment providing for land legislation was relevant to a motion for leave to introduce in the House of Commons a Bill relating to the protection of persons and property in Ireland. Surely if it was, it cannot be disputed that the amendment now proposed is relevant to the motion now before the Chair.
– I did not argue th at the subject-matter of the amendment was relevant to the motion. What I say is that the amendment is a direction to introduce another Bill.
– It is a direction to the Government to introduce a Bill dealing with the same question, but in a slightly different way. Surely the amendment allowed in the case to which I have just referred was a direction to the Imperial Government that a new Bill should be introduced? The AttorneyGeneral admits that it was, and I submit, therefore, that the objection to this amendment cannot be sustained. If it were upheld the rights and privileges of honorable members would be curtailed in a way for which there is no precedent. . ;
– The AttorneyGeneral has merely raised the question of the relevancy of the amendment.
– The subjectmatter is relevant to the motion, but . I say that the amendment is a direction to the Government to put aside this Bill and to introduce another.
– The amendment decided by the House an hour or two ago embodied a direction that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee for investigation. That amendment was accepted by you, Mr. Speaker, and had it been carried the Select Committee might have framed, for submission to Parliament, a Bill entirely different from that proposed by the Government, although dealing with the same question. The other amendment having been in order, this must be so too. It cannot be ruled out on the ground of irrelevancy. What is proposed is in the nature of a direction, such as the motions which are sometimes carried in regard to Bills, as instructions to the Committee to which they must be referred after the second reading. If the amendment were ‘carried, it would be an instruction to the Government to introduce a Bill framed upon certain.; lines.
– I have made up my mind on the point that has been raised, and am prepared to give a ruling upon it. It is, therefore,not necessary for other honorable members to occupy time in discussing it. The terms of the motion of the Attorney-General are these -
That he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to prohibit, in relation to Commonwealth employment, preferences and discriminations on account of membership or non-membership of an association.
The amendment is germane to the character of the Bill. It is relevant to the motion, and I am not prepared to rule it out of order.
– Here begins another.
.You are not nearly finished yet.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to this statement of the intention to waste the time of the House.
-It is no offence against our rules for an honorable member to say that he is not nearly finished yet.
– I object to the statement of the Prime Minister that we on this side are wasting time. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– It has been ruled on many occasions that to accuse honorable members of wasting time, even though it may seem that an unusual amount of time is being consumed by them in the performance of their duties, is out of order. I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it.
– The Prime Minister ought to be charged with tedious repetition.
– Is it in order for the honorable member to make that observation, my remark having been withdrawn ?
– It is not in order for an honorable member, by interjection, to make observations of any kind when another honorable member has been called to order.
– I apologize.
– The honorable member did not rise from his seat. His conduct towards you, sir, is most discourteous.
– I apologize to you, Mr. Speaker.
– We are here to give the Government assistance in passing reasonable measures. I trust that the Prime Minister will be generous to me, as a new member. It would not be fair if, in addressing a few remarks to you, sir, I were continually interrupted by such an old parliamentary hand. When it was announced that Parliament would be called together in April, I thought that the Government had legislation to bring forward which the people would welcome; but, apparently, this session will be as barren as the last. No doubt the Government are anxious to make material for electioneering purposes, and therefore called Parliament together earlier than usual. Honorable members have been dragged from all parts of the Commonwealth, in the hope that the electors may be deluded into thinking that the Government intend to bring forward legislation.
– This is past the odds.
– We should be glad to hear of the intentions of the Government from the Treasurer, We desire that honorable members opposite shall tell us what they mean to do. I am afraid that the electors will again have to record their votes without knowing what the intentions of the Government are. When the Government are dangling the Bill before the country-
– An amendment is under discussion.
– I wish to make merely a slight reference to the Bill. The Government are trying to throw dust into the eyes of the people, because the Bill is absolutely valueless. Its provisions being contrary to the principles of the Labour party, we must oppose it at every stage, and let the electors know that we shall oppose legislation of this kind whenever it is brought forward. The measure would not be a success in any case; but I feel confident that it cannot be got through Parliament. Ministers expect the new Governor-General to give a decision in their favour, but a man of such ripe parliamentary experience in the Old Country will not be deceived by this attempt to manufacture a cry for the elections. Ministers, when they address public meetings in places that are sympathetic to them, are not so much concerned about the attendances as they are anxious that the press shall report their utterances.
– I am unable to connect these remarks with the amendment.
– The amendment is one which the Government would do well to accept, and I hope that they will do so after they have heard the speeches of this side of the House. If Ministers are opposed to the amendment, they might, perhaps, have a Bill drafted on the lines which it suggests. Until the unions get the preference for which they are seeking, we shall not have the industrial peace which the people of Australia desire. The Government have never ceased to irritate the minds, and to try to disturb the prospects, of the workers, for whom they have not done a single thing. They have not offered increases of wages, nor done anything to improve their positions. On the contrary, they have prevented works begun by the last Government from being carried out, and have largely increased the army of unemployed. They have a purpose in this, being desirous of creating an army of unemployed so that there may be persons anxious for work.
– ls this in order?
– I must again call the honorable member to order. We are not now discussing the question whether it is expedient that this Bill shall be introduced.
– I submit that, as employment is the first essential to prefer- ence, the honorable member for Oxley is in order in the remarks he is making. There can be no preference with unemployment.
-I do not think that tho honorable member for Oxley was arguing in that - particular way.
– The only anxiety shown by the Government is to create an army of unemployed so that there mav not be continual agitation for preference to unionists. The idea is that this Bill will weaken the hands of unionists, and the Government are prepared in every way to destroy the prospects of the unions, although, as they and their supporters must agree, it is the unionists who have brought about the great march of progress in Australia to-day. The unionists are the great spending power of the nation; and their increased wages in the last few years have enabled the business houses throughout the Commonwealth to make large sums of money. Many of the larger unions are very powerful, and employers recognise that it would be madness to employ any labour outside their ranks; indeed, it will be only a short time before every unionist will have preference, irrespective of any law made by this or any other Parliament. We know why this measure has been brought forward, and we are seeking, by the amendment proposed, to improve the conditions under which it will be carried out if it becomes law. Under the circumstances, I feel some confidence that the Government will accept the proposal of the honorable member for Batman. The Attorney-General, as reported, the other night, expressed himself anxious and willing to take away from our women folk the dole that is now given to them.
– Order !
– I wish to strengthen my case by pointing out that the AttorneyGeneral proposed to take away this dole, and to vote the money to the education of our working people.
-The honorable member must see that his remarks have no reference whatever to the subject under discussion.
– I wish to point out that the more our workers are educated, the more anxious they become to join trade unions. Education renders them, anxious for better conditions, and, as a step to that end, they must have preference. The Prime Minister will admit the great necessity there is for the education, of the masses, who will constitute ourarmy and our navy for the defence of thenation.
– I call theattention of the honorable member to the- fact that he is again wandering from the subject-matter of the motion.
– Before the workers exerted themselves as they have’ done, they had to revert to strikes which we now, of course, desire to prevent. Many supporters of the Government, and some members of the Government themselves, were instrumental in creating the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, with the object of preventing industrial strife; and this, of course, was a move in the direction of practical preference, seeing that no one outside a union has any chance of obtaining an award. The Arbitration Court has done much to improve the conditions of the workers; and the Prime Minister, who assisted in bringing about that piece of industrial legislation, must realize that, in order to obtain the best results, every one employed by the Government should be a unionist, and as a unionist have preference. The only reason that the Government oppose preference is that the vested interests they represent in this House are deadly in their antagonism to it, and they are anxious to satisfy this section of their supporters. A gas-stoker, for instance, has to work in extreme heat under the most trying circumstances, and he may find the small pittance of 8s. or 10s. a day insufficient for the support of his family in anything like decent comfort. By associating himself with his fellow workmen, he is probably placed in a position to further their united interests, and a union is formed, with a rule that none but unionists shall be employed. This may result in their obtaining another1s. or 2s. a day, and they are thus enabled to buy additional clothing, and maintain their families in a somewhat better way. As such a man leaves his work, however, he may probably see in a motor car a dividend hunter for whom he has been working all day.
– I should like the honorable member to connect his remarks with the question of employment in the Public Service.
– Such a workman, in all probability, will not always be employed by the Government, for, when the Government work is finished, he may have to go elsewhere. Through his union, he may have been able to obtain-
– I have been following the. honorable member very closely.
He is delivering a very able argument on the question of preference to unionists in employment generally, and not confining himself to preference in connexion with employment in the Commonwealth . Service, which is the subject of the motion. It is not permissible for an honorable member to wander about and deal with matters not germane to the question before us.
– In the next few years, it will be necessary for the Government to employ many thousands of men on railway and other large public works; and, without preference, they will find it, perhaps, absolutely impossible to obtain the necessary labour. If they do attempt to employ non-unionists, trouble will immediately arise. The unions of Australia have done much for the industrial peace of the world, and, unless the Government are willing to assist those unions in maintaining that peace, we can only come to the conclusion that they are anxious to create unrest. Whether that be part of their policy, it is hard for me to say; but I think they will recognise that they must employ only members of unions. There are probably enough unionists enrolled to upset any Government. Honorable members opposite accuse us of getting the support of unionists, but we are confident that we do not get the support of all unionists. They do not always support Labour candidates.
– The honorable member is not in order in proceeding on those lines.
– The non-unionist has caused the people of the Commonwealth a great deal of trouble. He is an undesirable person. In every way he destroys the prospects of the workers. He is unreasonable in every respect. He will only look for employment when industrial trouble exists, when he feels that he can get financial help from those he assists in the attempt to break a strike. He is generally employed for strike-breaking pur-, poses. For that reason he is not one of the competent workers that one usually can find among the members of unions. Members of unions are not only loyal to their unions, but they try to give good service to their employers. The non-unionist will probably give good service for a week or two, and immediately afterwards will begin to shirk. It is not necessary for any worker in the Commonwealth, no matter what occupation he may follow, to remain outside the membership of a union. There are many people who have attained prominent positions in the Commonwealth through becoming members of unions, and when we find that men are anxious to destroy the privileges the workers possess we can only conclude that they are people who should not be tolerated. That is one reason why I should be pleased to hear that the Government propose to drop their Bill and recognise preference to unionists in all their works. In the Brisbane tramway trouble we have a case in which non-unionists benefited considerably through the funds and efforts of the unionists. The improved wages and the better conditions awarded to the Brisbane tramway men were brought about by the unionists who took part in that memorable strike of 1912, when they lost their positions through the action of the Government of Queensland in assisting the strike-breakers. Those trams are now driven and conducted by men who are receiving up to 12s. and 13s. a day, as compared with 6s. 6d. a day, which was paid to the unionists, who lost their positions, and were replaced by non-unionists, who are enjoying the benefits obtained from the Arbitration Court. That is the only case in which the Arbitration Court has awarded preference to unionists.
– The honorable member is not in order in proceeding on those lines.
– There is a body of men in Australia who try to lead people to believe that they are a union. I refer to the organization managed by Mr. Packer.
– The honorable member is not in order in proceeding on those lines. If he will not connect his remarks with the question before the Chair, I must ask him to discontinue his speech.
– The Government are well acquainted with the Brisbane case; and if they are not inclined to the belief that they will get better results by giving preference to unionists in every case, I am not able to convert them to the ideas I entertain.
– The amendment means that men should be encouraged to join organizations, and that the Government should offer every induce ment to men in their employment, and to those likely to be employed by the Commonwealth on casual work, to join some organization. This is absolutely necessary. The one object in dealing with these matters is to try to bring about harmonious relationships between employer and employe, and by getting men into these organizations we shall avoid the possibility of disputes through unionists working with non-unionists. The commercial community is, to a very large extent, dependent on the prompt delivery of mail matter. ‘ What would be the position if the lettercarriers struck because a non-unionist came among them ? I understand that they are practically all unionists - if they are not, they should be - and I can foresee a great difficulty, almost a national crisis, if one or two non-union men should come among them. Granting preference to members of registered unions would encourage those seeking to enter the Commonwealth service to join these organizations and prevent such a disaster as that I have already mentioned taking place. We all remember the difficulties encountered by the Postal Department in putting tunnels through the streets of our cities. Miners, bricklayers, carpenters, and all sorts of tradesmen had to be employed. The operations caused great inconvenience to the citizens of Melbourne and Sydney, but there would have been great danger and great discontent had it not been for the fact that the Government took the necessary precaution to see that unionists were employed. The longer such a work was delayed the greater would have been the loss to the Commonwealth. Heaven knows the difficulties the citizens experienced, and the poor telephone system we had at the time. Had the Government not taken the precaution to guard against anything that might affect the unionists employed on those tunnels undoubtedly trouble would have arisen. Those are reasons why the Government should support this amendment, so that they might get these men into the organizations. I maintain that the men would go into the organizations because they would know that the Public Service would be better than ordinary private employment. My experience is that employment in the Public Service is far better than any a man can get from a private employer. Therefore, one of the first things the Government should do is to give encouragement to these men to join organizations by giving them preference. That could not be done better than by the Government accepting this amendment, and having a Bill framed accordingly. Then there is, under the Commonwealth Government, such a work as the transcontinental railway. On that project, the Government are to spend £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, which, if borrowed at 5 per cent., will involve an interest bill of something like £250,000 per annum; or, at 4 per cent., £20,000 per annum. It would be a big national loss if a general strike took place on that line, and the construction was delayed. In addition to the loss in connexion with the assembling of material and plant for the conduct of the work, thousands of men who were engaged on the line would be thrown out of employment, and there would be a loss and waste which no Government should risk if they could possibly avoid it. There would be a danger in connexion with that work if nonunionists were allowed to come in amongst the organized workers, because it is a vital principle with the organizations that their members shall not work with nonunionists. Therefore, the Government require to be very guarded in the employment of non-unionists. The Government have been obliged to enter into an agreement with one organization to do the very thing which this amendment proposes to do, namely, to give preference to certain workers. The organization is so strong, that the Government know they dare not employ non-unionists. One cannot say how far an industrial dispute on that matter would extend. Suppose the Government, in constructing the transcontinental railway, had opened the line for 50 or 100 miles. An industrial trouble, which commenced on the Government works, might extend and lead to a general strike in the rural districts. The Government should take every step possible to see that that disastrous state of affairs is not brought about. We had an instance in Queensland recently of how, in the most innocent way, such a trouble may extend to serious proportions. The Government of that State were applied to for a certain sum of money which they did not choose to give. The result was that one company closed down, and that action was the means of not only throwing thousands of people out of employment, but of practically closing up several villages and towns in that district. Happenings of that kind are what we want to avoid as far as possible. Therefore, I think the Government should accept this amendment, which is not altogether in opposition to the Government’s motion. The amendment is suggested merely to assist the Government in bringing about that legislation which they think will be in the best interests of the community, by obviating the troubles I have mentioned. In connexion with the Postal Department, there are other bodies of organized workers. The telegraphists are a body of men who are well organized, with the object. of securing better conditions; and I do not hesitate to say that there would be trouble if the Government attempted to put non-unionists at work in the Department. If the Government will accept the amendment and come down with a proposal for preference to all organizations represented in the Commonwealth, they will overcome the difficulty. All these organizations are registered in the States, but their disputes extend beyond the limits of any one State. Throughout the Commonwealth they will be made as perfect as possible, and whenever the Government attempts to introduce any non-union labour, the organized men will refuse to work; and the whole commercial and industrial operations of the country will be seriously affected. We are up against a very difficult problem indeed, and I re.gret that the amendment asking for an investigation by a Select Committee was not carried. Looking further into the possibilities, one can imagine what con. fusion would arise if the line repairers ceased work. Honorable members know how boisterous are those north winds which we get occasionally, and which sometimes disorganize the telephone service for a couple of days. Bad as that trouble is, I can assure honorable members that if all the line repairers were to go on strike there would be such confusion as would send the whole of the citizens up in arms. They would say that if the confusion in the telephone service was brought about by the refusal of preference to unionists, the sooner the Government took the necessary steps to give preference to those men, the better it would be for the whole community. Then there are the employes in the General Division; including the men who sort the mails:
Suppose they were to take up the Syndicalist attitude, practise sabotage, as it is sometimes practised in France, and put all the letters into the wrong bags, or were to strike because non-unionists were amongst them, there would be such a state of chaos as it is almost impossible for the human mind to conceive. And that disastrous result would be brought about simply because the Government would not accept an amendment of this kind. No member of the Government is in a better position than i3 the Treasurer to gauge the consequences that would follow such occurrences as those to which I have referred. I wish now to come back to the point as to what would happen if what I may describe as a collective strike on the part of Commonwealth servants took place. If, as the result of the employment of non-unionists in any branch of the Public Service, a strike took place public servants in other departments might come out in sympathy with them. Ninety per cent, of the public servants of the Commonwealth might be involved, and the whole of the instrumentalities of government paralyzed. I am not merely drawing on my imagination, for it is not very long since the Commonwealth was nearly overtaken by such a disaster. It is our duty, and particularly the duty of the Attorney-General, who seems to have made the control of the Public Service his especial care, to take steps to avert such a calamity. The amendment proposed by us would obviate anything of the kind, and it is deserving of very serious consideration. The Government should accept the amendment, and so compel all employed by the Commonwealth to join an organization. Under the Conciliation and Arbitration (Public Service) Act. which was passed a little while ago, we required public servants, in the .event of any dispute arising, to go to the Court for a settlement of their troubles, and we can. hope to make compulsory arbitration in relation to Government employment effective only by requiring our employes to join an organisation. Compulsory arbitration is designed to do away with strikes. Many of us regard strikes as a barbarous method for the settlement of industrial disputes. Every strike involves an economic loss to the whole community - a loss that can never be made good. We all remember the railway strike which took place in this State some years ago, and the confusion to which it gave rise. The suburban trains every day carry 140,000 passengers to and from the city, but during the railway strike these people had to get into the city as best they could in order to follow their daily avocations. Then, again, the country railway service was entirely disorganized, with the result that perishable products for consumption in the city were often not forthcoming. At one time a serious disaster seemed probable.^ lt is our bounden duty to try to prevent the recurrence of such an industrial upheaval. The railway strike involved, in much loss and misery, not only the strikers themselves, but thousands of others. I have known men during a strike to be walking the streets practically bare-footed, and to be living on less than 4s. per week. Imagine, for a. moment, the sufferings of their wives and children. During the progress of a strike we have seen children almost starving. We want to avoid such a thing in the future. The Public Service organizations are federated, and their ramifications are most extensive. The Victorian railway strike not only disorganized Government operations here, but affected ail the other States. As much as £200 was offered to any engine-driver, who would take a train from Melbourne to Adelaide, and yet, for a time, no one was prepared to do so. Australia has decided that compulsory conciliation and arbitration shall be adopted as a peaceful means of settling industrial troubles/ I am prepared to admit that compulsory arbitration has not done all that we should have liked it to do, even since the Act relating to the- Commonwealth Public Service was passed. The intention of that Act was to remedy grievances, which were increasing too rapidly for the Public Service Commissioner to settle. While he was trying to deal with the troubles of one branch of the Service, hardship was being caused to . other branches. I think that it was a very wise thing for the Government of the day to bring the Public Service under the arbitration law. But arbitration can be successful only with proper organization. Without such organization there is bound to be trouble. The Court cannot bring pressure to bear upon isolated units in any branch of industry, and disputes arise out of the refusal of organized workers to work with those who are not organized. It is because the organizations have not yet been made sufficiently strong that the Court has not been able to do all that is required of it. The Attorney-General has said that -
He was in favour of voluntary association in the solution of difficulties between labour and capital. They would have to find a solution of these difficulties in still greater organization, not only among labour, but among capitalists. It was by better and fuller organization that they could ever arrive at a settlement of the great question of labour and capital.
In the case under discussion the Government are the employers, and may be considered fully organized. But it remains to organize the other side - that is, the employes. If the amendment were accepted, the organization would come about, and the Court, in the event of any dispute, would have two perfectly organized parties to deal with. Only disaster can accrue from attempts to prevent preference to unionists. I hope that nothing will be done to encourage men to seek other ways than arbitration of enforcing their claims and settling their disputes. An eminent writer has finely said -
This that they call the organization of labour is the universal vital problem of the world. It is the problem of the whole future for all who will in future pretend to govern men.
Those are the words of Thomas Carlyle. He has said further -
Look around you. Your world-hosts are all in mutiny, in confusion, destitution. They will not march further for you on the sixpence a clay and supply and demand principle; they will not, nor ought they, nor can they.
Honorable members opposite might well pay attention to the views expressed by a man of such eminence and mental greatness as Carlyle. Some honorable members may think that by defeating the amendment they will prevent the organization of labour. Only disaster could come of that. To try to stop the progress of unionism would mean trouble. The Victorian Coercion Act and various other State attempts to prevent public servants from combining have been disastrous in their results. They have merely led to renewed efforts On the part of the men, and have had an effect the reverse of that intended. On two different occasions the Australian Workers Union has suffered defeat, but to-day the organization is more powerful than ever ; and the same thing is likely to happen in connexion with the Public Service. I trust that the Government will use every effort to induce their supporters to accept the amendment, and I suggest that the Treasurer should quietly urge upon them the reasonableness of the proposal.
– I call attention to the state of the House. - [Quorum formed.]
– The only satisfactory way would be to introduce a Bill based on the amendment, and so compel all employes, whether members of the Public Service or casual hands, to join an organization .
– I urge the Government to accept the amendment ; for they, more than any other members of the community, are interested in maintaining industrial peace. It is only right that the Government and the National Parliament should set an example in industrial matters, in view of the responsibility which in these modern times rests on their shoulders as employers of labour. If the Government do not accept the amendment, they will brand this Parliament as a reactionary Legislature. That, in itself, is a matter for grave consideration ; and I fail entirely to understand the present attitude of the Government at this period in our history. Rightly or wrongly, we have established a Conciliation and Arbitration Court, the Judge of which may, if he thinks fit, in the interests of “industrial peace, direct that there shall be preference to unionists, other things being equal. The law of the land enables every private employer to be brought before the Arbitration Court, and, if directed, to extend preference to unionists; and the Government should certainly carry on our public works under similar conditions. Surely the Government do not take up the attitude that what is applicable to every corporation in the Commonwealth should not- be applicable to them. Honorable members should not be asked to make out a case against the Government. It is for the Government to show cause why the amendment is not acceptable to them. Ministers have made an agreement with a trade organization in which they have- given preference to unionists on the eastwest railway. Is there a more pitiable spectacle than to see a Government which makes this agreement, but yet objects to a proposal to give preference to unionists in connexion with public works. Surely the country is to be ruled by the principles of justice and equity, and by common sense. Government employment covers a great deal of ground. In the Postal Department, there are telegraphists, letter sorters, mail hands, linemen, and men in almost every trade and calling, who would probably get preference if they were working for a private firm ; and it is monstrous that preference should be denied to them because, through accident, they have become servants of the Commonwealth. The same remarks apply to the Home Affairs Department, in which there are men of almost every calling employed. The Government, who should set an example to the community, are setting one with a vengeance in contending that what is good enough for general employers is not good enough for them. Ministers should make some defence of their hostility towards the amendment. To oppose it for party purposes is all very well, but it is no answer to say that honorable members belong to the Conservative party, and seek to stem the tide of Democracy. What is the object of the Government? Is it union smashing? Ministers have a very bad case if their actions will not stand the test of equity and justice. A departure from the principles of equity and justice, and the use of some subterfuge, does not say much for this Parliament and the ‘ Government that leads it. I challenge Ministers to show cause why they should not accept the amendment. It is desirable that something should be incorporated in the measure that would have a tendency to bring about industrial peace. Preference to unionists is the high-water mark of industrial life recognised by all unionists to-day. A previous Parliament said that, for the purpose of industrial peace, people must cease strife and industrial unrest, and must go to the Arbitration Court for the purpose of settling their disputes. We now ask the Government to go one step further. It may be said that the step we propose would do an injustice to the non-unionist. But the non-unionist has never made any effort for industrial peace. That is the last thing he thinks of. He probably imagines that he can do -better without joining a union, or he may have some crank about every one being free to do as he likes - though no community permits it. The principle of the legislation passed by the previous Parliament was that, if men registered under the Arbitration Court, they must waive their right to strike. The non-unionist waives nothing. He believes in his glorious freedom, and in being able to roam wherever he pleases without any restriction; I maintain that the man who has placed himself under restriction, and recognises the value of industrial peace, is entitled to say that if he gives up the right to strike, he should be given the right to preference of employment. Can Ministers make any reply to that argu-ment? It must be met, either in the House or outside. The hall-mark of success in the financial, trading, and commercial world to-day, in the industrial world, in the arts and sciences, and in belles-lettres, is “ Up to date.” In ratio as a man is up to date, and recognises the times in which he lives, so will he be successful. Apply the argument to the Government. They set aside that well-known maxim recognised wherever .civilization exists, and say there is no need to be up to date. They wish to be retrogressive, and to revert to the standards of fifteen years ago. They believe in the glorious principle of freedom of contract. They have earned the title of the “ Stupid party,’-‘ which Disraeli applied to the Conservatives.
– I think we should have a quorum to hear these remarks. [Quorum formed.]
– I was pointing out that the Government, by refusing to accept this amendment, failed to recognise the principles which are the hallmark of the age in which we live. To be a success in any business or profession of any kind nowadays, one must be up to date, but the Government, in objecting to the amendment, practically say that there is no need to be up to date. They desire to put into operation the glorious principle of freedom of contract, which was practically killed by the strike of 1890. We ask that legislation should not be reactionary, and a previous Parliament having laid down lines on which we should work, the Government should show cause why they decline to follow those lines. In effect the Government are saying that if -.there, is anything reactionary that can :be adopted, it is due from them as a Conservative party to adopt it. I do not congratulate them on their action. The people have the right to expect that our legislation shall he up to date, and not antiquated and stupid. Honorable members on the Government side know nothing about labour organizations, except what they hear from secondhand sources.
– I rise to order. The honorable member has discussed the general subject of industrial unrest and its relation to unionism, and many other phases of the general subject, for, I think, the third time. Surely there is something to prevent the same speech being repeated over and over again. I submit that honorable members should be kept strictly to the terms of the amendment, and to the manner in which it differs from the main question and the previous amendments. We are roaming all over the place, and have been doing so half the night. There can be no end to a debate unless it be by the limitations imposed by these amendments.
– Your remark is a reflection on the Chair.
– The honorable member’s remark that members have been wandering all over the general question half the night certainly seems to contain a reflection on the Speaker. That remark, I think, ought to be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it, for certainly I had no intention of reflecting on you, sir.
– The honorable member said that that sort of thing had been going on all the night, but I would remind him that I have intervened many times in order to keep honorable members to the point. Time after time I interrupted honorable members, and told them that they were straying from the question, and asked them to connect their remarks with the amendment before the Chair. I must confess that I have been suffering from a racking headache, and that the strain of the sitting has been very severe, and for the last few moments I may not have been paying strict attention to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. As a matter of fact, with the buzz of conversation in progress, what is being said is simply a blur on my mind. I ask honorable members to have some consideration for the occupant of the chair, and to bear in mind that they must confine their remarks strictly to the terms of the amendment.
– I have been doing that during the whole of my remarks, and I think this interruption is a piece of impertinence on the part of the Prime Minister.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. The position I take up is that it is essential that this amendment should be agreed to by the Government in the interests of industrial peace amongst their own employes. As the employers of a vast number of men, the Government cannot afford to trifle with the subject, and treat it with indifference and contempt. In my experience, and in the experience of honorable members on this side of the House, who have been associated with labour organizations for as long as forty years, our trouble is not in our own organization, but arises from the possibility of a sympathetic strike occurring. This may be a light matter to the honorable member for Wentworth, who sits there with his supercilious sneer, and interjects.
– May I ask that the words “ supercilious sneer “ be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw any words that are objected to.
– I withdraw the words. I was endeavouring to point out that the Government cannot risk the danger of a strike spreading into their own organization. They may take up the high attitude that by virtue of being the Government they may do this, that, and the other thing, but they will find, as all employers find nowadays, that they cannot do as they please. The best guarantee of peace in the Government service is for the Government to accept the amendment, and allow their employes to have the advantage of legislation which has been set up, and which binds every employer and employe in the Commonwealth. I would like the Attorney-General to show reasons why this wonderful Commonwealth Government should be treated differently from other employers. A tribunal is established by law for the settlement of disputes between employes and their em- ployers, but the Government say, “ What is good for the private employers is not good for us, and we will not have it.” That attitude shows a lack of equity and common sense. They seem to have made up their minds that they ase to be the stupid party.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I am, perhaps, using rather strong language; but I have lived long enough to know that the law does not always mean either justice or equity. The Government, if they could, would repeal tomorrow the Act which provides for the granting of a judicial preference to unionists. Their talent for mischief is unlimited, and their determination to do away with anything providing for justice and equity to the great body of the workers in Australia is most pronounced. The Government should give us something like a sensible reason’ for the policy they are pursuing. There can be no objection to this amendment that is based on either justice or equity, but if the Government desire to wage war on the working classes then some excuse can be found for their opposition to it. I fail to understand why the Government should propose to place themselves in a different position from that occupied by all other employers in the matter of preference to unionists. Ministers make speeches all over the country regarding their proposals, but will not defend in this House the principles which they espouse.
– If you can tolerate this sort of stuff you will tolerate anything.
– The honorable member has been tolerated in politics for a good many years as an ambitious man.
– Order ! The honorable member is wandering from the amendment before the Chair. Unless he is prepared to confine himself to a discussion on the amendment I must ask him to discontinue his speech.
– Is the Prime Minister in order in describing as “ stuff “ an honorable member’s utterances?
– Such an expression is not unparliamentary, but all interjections are disorderly.
– A good many -casual labourers are employed on the Kal goorlie to Port Augusta railway, and the Government have made an agreement with the officers of the union to, grant preference to unionists in the construction of that line. They profess to be anxious to preserve the rights of the free labourers, but in that agreement there is no recognition of their rights. Where unionists and non-unionists are working side by side we invariably find that the wages they receive, and their conditions of employment, are the same. If the Government are so anxious to do their best for the free labourers, why is it that they have practically cut them out of the agreement? It is difficult to keep close to an amendment of this character without repeating the same arguments over and over again.
– It is not in order to keep repeating the same argument. The arguments used by the honorable member have been used .before.
– Do you rule, sir, that the use of an argument which has already been advanced is out of order? There might be some motion or Bill in respect of which only one argument could be used, and if you ruled that an argument must not be repeated misapprehension might occur. As you know, sir, constituents are apt to ask what their representatives are saying and doing, and why a member is silent. A member who remained silent rather than repeat an argument and run the risk of being ruled out of order for doing so, might possibly lose his seat. The late Sir William Zeal, when President of the Legislative Council, used sometimes to say to an honorable member, “ Sit down. What you have said has already been stated often enough.” That sort of thing might be tolerated in the Legislative Council, but not in a representative assembly.
– Is it not evident that this is pure “ drivelling “ ?
– I regard that remark as offensive, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it.
– Standing order 276 provides that -
The Speaker or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the House or the Committee, as the case _ may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious’ repetition, or the taking up of time by a speech of such unwarrantable length as to obstruct the business, on the part of a member, and may direct such member to discontinue his speech.
There are rulings on this question by Speakers of this House, and May also lays it down that an honorable member who repeats the arguments of others may be held to be guilty of tedious repetition. For instance May, at page 316 of the 11th edition, lays it down that -
A member who resorts to persistant irrelevance may, under standing order No. 19, be directed by the Speaker, or the Chairman, to discontinue his speech, after the attention of the House has been called to the conduct of the member; and akin to irrelevancy is the frequent repetition of the same arguments, whether of the arguments of the member speaking, or the arguments of other members; an offence which may be met by the power given to the Chair under standing order Ho. 19.
It has been ruled, not only in the House of Commons, but by my predecessors in this Chamber, that it is tedious repetition for a member to repeat either his own arguments or those of speakerswho have preceded him.
– I submit that that is exactly what has been taking place tonight.
Mr. Higgs. That is a reflection on Mr.- Speaker.
– The Prime Minister is not in order in making that remark. I have watched the debate closely, and have frequently directed the attention of honorable members to the necessity of keeping to the point. I have endeavoured to keep members to the point as much as possible, although in some instances, the subject having been confined within very narrow limits, it has been impossible to keep every member from encroaching to some extent upon arguments used by others. The arguments now used by the honorable member for Hindmarsh are practically identical with those raised by his immediate predecessor; he has been traversing similar ground, and using, I think, to some extent the same language.
– It is my contention that the demand for preference to unionists in the employment of the Commonwealth is the logical result of the great dispute of 1890, and of other big industrial disputes in Australia. It is the logical result of the increased intelligence of the workers, and another step in the march of the workers towards economic freedom. The amendment is one which the Government should accept if they are prepared to deal with this matter fairly and justly; but as you, Mr. Speaker, are under the impression that I am traversing ground that has been covered by other honorable members, I shall not lengthen my remarks. Despite my cavalier treatment by honorable members opposite, I appeal to them in the name of justice and equity to put the employes of the Commonwealth in the same position as other employes, and to recognise the spirit of the age in which we live. The Government proposes a retrograde step which the country will never take, because an intelligent people cannot go back. It is too late in the day to dispute about preference to unionists. That question has been settled. You may arouse prejudices and passions, but you cannot do anything to build up a united Australia on a sound and satisfactory footing unless what we now ask for be agreed to.
– As I understand that we are to adjourn at 8 a.m. for breakfast, I suggest that it would be convenient to suspend the sitting now, so that the continuity of my remarks will not be interfered with.
– Why stop?
– It becomes necessary, owing to the brutal tactics of the Government–
– The honorable member must withdraw those words.
– I should not have used them; I should have used other words. I have the strongest objection to Ministers enforcing their will and pleasure on us to the extent that they have done. I do not wish to give you any anxiety Mr. Speaker, because you have been in the chair for such a length of time, and are not free, as are other honorable members, to enter and leave the chamber as you please.
The Attorney-General has moved -
That he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to prohibit, in relation to Commonwealth employment, preferences and discriminations on account of membership or non-membership of an association.
To that the honorable member for Batman has moved the amendment -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted - “ it is expedient that a Bill be introduced to prohibit in relation to
Commonwealth employment preference to members of any industrial organization not registered under the laws of the Commonwealth.”
It is true that the Government have given effect to the principle underlying their proposal, hut the amendment seeks to restrict the area of the operation of what I call this politically-evil principle. If we are not able to secure preference to unionists for the whole of the day labour employed in connexion with our public works, we are entitled to try to procure the next best thing, preference to the members of organizations of workmen employed on public works if those organizations have complied with the laws of the Commonwealth, and have registered under the Arbitration Act.
The amendment in no way seeks to interfere with the operation of the provisions of the Public Service Act regulating ordinary admission to the Service by the test of competitive examinations; it applies to those employed on what are known as day-labour works.
As the amendment speaks of “ industrial organizations “ it becomes expedient to inquire what is an industrial organization. That raises the further questions - What is an industry ? and What is an industrial matter ? The Conciliation and Arbitration Act defines “industrial matters” in these terms - “Industrial matters” includes all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employers or employes, or the mode, terms and conditions of employment or nonemployment; and in particular, but without limiting the general scope of this definition, includes all matters pertaining to the relations of employers and employes, and the employment, preferential employment, dismissal or nonemployment of any particular persons, or of persons of any particular sex or age, or being or not being members of any organization, association or body, and any claim arising under an industrial agreement, and includes all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned, and of society as a whole.
That is a wide definition. An association and an organization are entirely different, an association being a body of persons existing outside the law which, upon registration, becomes an organization. It has been decided by the High Court that a body is not an organization until it has been registered.
The definition of “industry” contained in the ‘Arbitration Act is this - “ Industry “ includes -
When this measure was first brought forward we had a trained legal man at the head of the Government of the day, and it might have been supposed that the definitions which I have read would prove satisfactory. Appeals to the Court, however, have shown that what appears to be the meaning of the plain words of the Statute is not actually the meaning. The Attorney-General has stated that a union of lawyers such as the Bar Council would come within the definition.
– Do not lawyers follow an avocation?
Sitting suspended from8 to 9.30 a.m. (Thursday) .
– When the sitting was suspended, I was discussing the question of what constitutes an industry and an industrial dispute for the purpose of considering what organizations would be entitled to come within the scope of the amendment. The Attorney-General has indicated that the Bar Council of Victoria is an organization which would come within the scope of the measure he proposes to bring in. I think that, under the Arbitration Act, it has been laid down definitely that the relationship of employer and employe must exist. That decision was given, I think, in the Clancy case. Furthermore, a decision as to what is an industry was given by the High Court in the case of the Federated Enginedrivers and Firemen’s Association.
– The honorable member is now going into the question of what constitutes an industry, and that is not covered by the terms of the amendment. He will not be in order in proceeding on these lines.
– These privileges are proposed to be conferred on certain industrial organizations, and I submit, sir, that I am entitled to discuss what if an industrial organization.
– Not a certain organization, but any industrial organization.
– We must ascertain what constitutes an industrial matter before we can find out what constitutes an industrial organization.
– That might be a proper question to discuss on the Bill itself, should the amendment be accepted and embodied therein.
– On a point of order, sir, I remind you that the original motion does not contain any reference to organizations of any description, whereas the amendment does. I submit that the honorable member is entitled to discuss what an organization is, and, to that end, to refer to what an industry is.
– A discussion on the principle of what constitutes an organisation is not proper to the amendment, though it would be perfectly in order on the Bill itself.
– I desire to refer to certain organizations, and to preface my remarks by finding out whether, under the decisions of the High Court, these organizations would come within the terms of the amendment, because it is necessary to discover the persons who would come within the beneficial operations of the amendment should it take the place of the original motion. On day-labour works, the Commonwealth employs mechanics, artisans, and labourers of all kinds. These workmen are associated together in organizations throughout Australia. I have no doubt that there are at least fifty or sixty organizations which group some classes of these workmen together. One of these very matters was raised in the judgment given in the case of the Federated Enginedrivers and Firemen’s Association. What is their position ? There are a few stationary engine-drivers connected with various industries in the Commonwealth, and with various works being carried on by the Commonwealth Government. At the works in Canberra, and along the railway route, there are certain stationary engines operating cranes and machinery. It is necessary for us to see whether the workmen could be grouped together in an organization and registered under the Arbitration Act for the purpose of coming within the scope of a measure of this kind. The decision given in the Federated
Engine-drivers’ case is rather pertinent to the question raised by the AttorneyGeneral as to whether the Bar Council of Victoria would come within that category. In deciding what “industry” meant, the High Court said -
An industry means an enterprise in which both employers and employes are associated, and does not include the vocation of persons doing a particular kind of work in connexion with several different classes of such enterprises.
In the case of the Bar Council, gentlemen are engaged not in any particular enterprise, but in dealing from time to time with various enterprises of the Commonwealth as a whole, and some of the litigation with which they are connected could not, I suppose, be brought within the definition of an enterprise. Quite clearly, v therefore, as laid down in the two cases I have cited, the Bar Council could not come within the scope of either the proposed measure or our amendment.
Again, there is some difficulty in regard to registerable organizations. There may be a number of organizations covering the same class of workmen. Take the Amalgamated Engineers Society and the Australian Engineers Society. Both of these organizations cannot register at one and the same time under the Arbitration Act, for the reason that it contains this provision -
The registrar shall unless in all the circumstances he thinks it undesirable so to do, refuse to register any association as an organization if an organization to which the members of the association might conveniently belong has already been registered.
Unfortunately it may be that two organizations existing side by side cannot come within the scope of this proposition, but the persons affected by such organizations must remember that the Labour party are not now putting forward what it conceives to be the ideal conditions. We arc circumscribed by the proposals of the Government and what would be relevant thereto. The proposition we put forward is the best that we can devise within the limits imposed upon us by the action of the Government and the Standing Orders. The line which separates the two engineers’ associations is that the Amalgamated Engineers Society is a world-wide organization. Its general rules are framed at a congress held, I think, every seven years, in London. Whilst this centralization certainly gives to the whole body throughout Christendom a great deal of power, it has its disadvantages, and, as a protest against these disadvantages, an organization was being called into being known as the Australasian Society of Engineers. The latter insist upon local selfgovernment in the management of their affairs, and when they go before the Arbitration Court to register as an organization, and to secure the benefits we desire them to secure by our amendment, they will be up against the provision I have just quoted. The Registrar has nothing to do with the question of which is the best body; he cannot try the merits of the case. Under the Act the organization whichmakes the first application has a divine right. There are other organizations similarily situated. Take, inNew South Wales, the Railway Workers and General Labourers Association. Its members are primarily associated with railway construction. The majority of the men employed at the Federal Capital are members of this organization. Again, take the United Labourers Association and the Australian Workers Union, which make provision for the same class of workmen. There are other organizations of the kind-
– I beg to move-
Thatthe question be now put.
We have had quite enough of. this.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Brennan’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
When the motion “ That the question be now -put “ has been carried, and the question consequent thereon has been decided, any further motion may be at once made, which may be requisite to bring to a decision any question already proposed from the chamber.
In this case no further motion was requisite to bring the question to a decision. The motion “ That the question be now put” has been carried, and, the amendment having on division been negatived, the only question now before the House is the motion submitted by the AttorneyGeneral for leave to bring in the Bill.
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to prohibit, in relation to Commonwealth employment, preferences and discriminations on account of membership or nonmembership of an. association.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I now beg to give notice that I will move that your ruling be disagreed with.
– The honorable member will please put his notice in writing.
– I beg to hand in the following dissent: -
That the ruling of Mr. Speaker in deciding that the honorable member for Henty having moved “ That the question be now put,” and the question before the Chair being the omission of all words after “ That,” the motion of the honorable the Attorney-General, “ That he have leave, &c,” and the motion for the closure having been carried, and the amendment upon the Attorney-General’s motion being put and lost, that the main question - the motion of the Attorney-General - must also be forthwith put, although several honorable members who have not spoken decided to speak thereon, be dissented from.
– The notice of dissent does not correctly state my ruling.
– The motion moved by the honorable member for Illawarra is a motion which I submit, in the circumstances, should be decided now. It is a question which, in the state of parties, and in fairness to honorable members who have not spoken to this question, of whom I myself am one, ought not to be postponed. I submit that under a fair and even an elastic interpretation of the standing order under which the closure is moved, the ruling which you have given cannot stand. For you, sir, to rule that the consideration of the motion of dissent must be postponed until to-morrow, seeing that you have already ruled that when to-morrow comes it will fall into the usual place of private members’ business - that is to say, that it will not be reached - is practically to assume, Mr. Speaker, the attitude of a partisan in connexion with a matter where parties in this House are evenly divided.
– Order 1
– I am going to say what I have to say,- but I say it with all respect to you.
– It is the admitted object of this measure to bring about a double dissolution, and you, sir, ought not to prevent discussion and close the mouths of honorable members on a motion which may be the cause of their being sent to the country.
– What is the point of order?
– There is no point of order.
– I did not rise to a point of order. I rose as a matter of privilege.
– There is no question of privilege involved in the question which the honorable member has raised. He asked me to do something contrary to the Standing Orders, and because I have carried out the Standing Orders according to my lights-
Several Honorable Members. - No.
-Order! The standing order distinctly says -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the Speaker such objection must be taken at once,_ and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the House, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day.
The honorable member now asks me to set aside that standing order, and accuses me of partisanship, because he says I am blocking the motion of dissent from being decided at once. Quite apart from the fact that that remark is a gross reflection on the Chair, I would point out that I have no power whatever to do what the honorable member suggests. The standing order distinctly provides that the motion must go over to another day. If the other Standing Orders unfortunately intervene to prevent it from coming on at the time when honorable members may desire it to be discussed, that again is not my fault, but the fault of the Standing Orders. If there is any ground of complaint it is not against the occupant of the Chair for enforcing the Standing Orders, but against the Standing Orders themselves.
– I desire to move a dissent from your ruling, sir.
– The honorable member must submit it in writing.
– I submit that there can be no point of order on your ruling. I desire to move -
That the Bill bo now read a first time.
– The honorable member has no right to get the motion in in that way.
– Order ! Will honorable members be seated ?
– May I crave your indulgence, sir?
– Order ! Another honorable member desires to move a motion of dissent from my ruling. The honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I understood you, sir, to say that the notice of dissent from your ruling is not in accordance with your ruling; and, to protect the rights of the honorable member who wishes to dissent from it, it is only courteous, and I think it would be your wish, that the honorable member should have an opportunity to frame his dissent in accordance with the terms of your ruling. Owing to the ‘noise at the time, it was difficult for any one to grasp what you actually ruled; but I think that, in a deliberative assembly of this kind, all honorable members would be only too anxious, on an occasion of this sort, to hear what your .ruling actually was.
– How do you know the honorable member for Illawarra wants to alter his motion? He has not said so himself.
– Mr. Speaker says that it is not in accordance with his ruling. I have tried to do my best, in a quiet way, to put the facts before the House. You, sir, said that the motion of dissent was not in accord with your ruling.
– There the matter ends.
– But it was intended by the mover to be founded on the decision given by you, sir, and, therefore, an opportunity ought to be given to the honorable member who lodged the dissent, whether it is a good or bad one, to frame it in accordance with your ruling. I, therefore, would ask the Prime Minister to allow me to ask you, sir, to give your ruling again, so that the dissent may be drawn up accordingly.
– I submit that if the honorable member for Illawarra has not stated- his point correctly, good practice will give him an opportunity of doing so; but I have yet to learn that the honorable member has claimed the right to amend his motion to make it in accordance with the facts as they actually took place. If he asks for the right to do so, then I should think there would be no objection at all to your allowing him to do so; but I would point out .that if another honorable member has a motion which he wants to submit, he is entitled to submit it.
– After this matter has been settled.
– No, at once.
– Then it would be ruled that, as another matter had intervened, no motion to dissent from the ruling could be received.
– In the circumstances, I suggest that the honorable member for Illawarra have leave to amend his motion, and have it put correctly.
– We all thought that was your ruling, sir.
– The honorable member for Illawarra did not intimate to me a.desire to amend his motion, and I do not know that he does so desire. The honorable member’s written notice of dissent does not correctly state the ruling I gave, and if he desires to amend it-
– He has not asked for permission to do so.
– May I ask you, sir, to permit me to frame my motion in accordance with your ruling ?
– Now we come to the position that the honorable member is actually asking you, sir, to assist him to get a motion before you-
– No; do not say that.
– The honorable member does not know what your ruling was, and, therefore, is unable to frame a motion of dissent from it. He is now actually asking you to help him to. frame something in the way of dissent from your ruling which he cannot remember. I have never heard before of such an extraordinary proposition, and I submit that you should, not give him such assistance.
– All on our side thought that was the Speaker’s ruling.
– Order ! The honorable member for Barrier is out of order.
– The honorable member is entitled to put his motion in his own way. Courtesy should give him that opportunity; but I do not think he ought to ask you to help him to frame a motion in order to try to demonstrate to the House that you are wrong in the exercise of your duties. That is asking a little too much.
– There is really no point of order before the House. All these speeches are irregular. The fact of the matter is that I have given a ruling, and if honorable members did not keep silent while I was giving it, that is not my fault.
– Yes, it is.
– Nor am I called upon to repeat it three or four times. If an honorable member takes the responsibility of dissenting from my ruling, he must also take the responsibility of knowing what that ruling was; and I am not called upon to give the ruling again in order to assist him to move a motion of dissent from it.
– I rose, sir, to move a motion at the same time as the honorable member for Illawarra did, but he got the call. I desire now to give notice of a motion to dissent from your ruling that the motion of the Attorney-General for leave, &c, be put, upon the closure being moved by the honorable member for Henty upon an amendment by the honorable member for Batman.
– I am not quite clear as to what this notice of motion means.
– We know.
– It is unnecessary, sir.
– I take it that what the honorable member desires to do is to give notice of dissent from my ruling.
– I accept the notice, as the honorable member cannot be expected to remember the exact terms of the ruling.
– After the amendment of the honorable member for Batman was put, sir, I rose to speak on the main question. You nodded to me, but you said that you were compelled, by the closure having been carried, to put the main question. You motioned to me to sit down. That, I take it, was your ruling, andis the ruling objected to by the honorable member for Cook.
– Is the motion seconded ?
– Yes; it is seconded all over.
– The debate on the motion of dissent will be adjourned till the next sitting day.
– I rise, sir, to a question of privilege. I think that, in their cooler moments, honorable members will recognise that they possess certain privileges. In my opinion, certain comments of a disgraceful character have been made on our debates by the Melbourne Argus, which I have within the past half -hour read. As representatives of the various divisions in this great Commonwealth, we are entitled to conduct our proceedings without any objectionable, brutal criticism on the part of the editor of the Argus. I apprehend, sir, that it is not necessary for me to read a page of May as to the privileges of honorable members; but, in case some honorable members may not realize what their privileges are, it may be better for me to read a quotation.
– I rise to order, sir. The standing order relating to a question of privilege reads -
An urgent motion directly concerning the privileges of the House shall take precedence of other motions as well as of Orders of the Day.
It contemplates a condition of affairs precedent to the Orders of the Day being called on, and may not be interpolated during a discussion in the course of the sitting, unless it can be called urgent, and in some way curbs the privileges of the House. I suggest, sir, that the honorable member cannot raise a question of privilege as to something in a morning newspaper. The matter is not urgent, nor does it affect honorable members in the slightest degree. Unless some discretion is exercised by Mr. Speaker, even on matters of privilege, there is nothing to prevent honorable members from rising to privilege in the morning and again at night, and all the time between. I submit that the honorable member for Capricornia is doing nothing but making a speech to call attention to something he has read in a newspaper. He has been making speeches all night, and there is nothing to stop him speaking later. Until he submits a definite motion asserting that the privileges of the House have been curtailed, or injured in some way, and, moreover, unless the motion shows clearly that there is urgency, in the very nature of the case, the honorable member may not proceed as he is doing.
– I claim, sir, that the motion I desire to move involves a question of very grave urgency, because it seems to me that the extraordinary comments which I intend to read have had some effect upon honorable members opposite in dealing with a matter under discussion this morning. The ground of urgency is the extraordinary language used by the Argus.
– What effect has it had on honorable members ?
– Honorable members opposite are taking a course which, I venture to think, they would not have taken but for the disgraceful criticism of the actions of honorable members on this side. That is the ground of urgency, sir.
– Might I offer a consideration to you, sir, on the point of order?
– Order ! This is not a matter of urgency suddenly arising, but one which could be very well dealt with, as a question affecting the privileges of the House, on a motion which the honorable member could put on the noticepaper. Standing order 283 reads -
Any member may rise to speak “ to order,” or upon a matter of privilege suddenly arising.
Standing order 111 reads -
An urgent motion directly concerning the privileges of the House shall take precedence of other motions as well as of Orders of the Day.
This point of order was really decided here yesterday, and that decision stands. According to May -
Breaches of privileges may be divided into disobedience to general orders or rules of either House; disobedience to particular orders; indignities offered to the character or proceedings of Parliament; assaults or insults upon members or reflections upon their character or conduct in Parliament, or interference with officers of the House in discharge of their duty.
It cannot be said that the matter to which the honorable member desires to refer is one which has suddenly arisen during our proceedings.
– I wish to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to permit of the House taking this matter into consideration now.
– I object.
– Has the honorable member for Capricornia leave to move to suspend the Standing Orders?
Honorable Members. - No !
– There being an objection, a motion cannot be submitted.
– The “Ayes” have it, sir.
– One objection is fatal to the question for leave being put.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Question put. The House divided.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the second reading be made an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.
– Do I understand the motion of the Attorney-General to mean that the next day of sitting is to-day?
– No. The AttorneyGeneral cannot do that.
– This matter requires to be cleared up.
– Mr. Speaker, I submit–
– I submit that you, sir, have already put the question.
– Order ! I stated the question to the House in accordance with our Standing Orders, but I went no further.
– The AttorneyGeneral, in almost a cunning way - though, I presume he did not intend it to be cunning–
– I do not know what the honorable member means.
– The AttorneyGeneral endeavoured to slip this motion through.
– What does the honorable member want? Will he be good enough to tell us ?
– The Prime Minister need not be in a hurry. According to standing order No. 70, no opposed business can be taken after 11 o’clock at night unless the House otherwise orders. According to the practice of this Chamber since its inception, the present sitting is yesterday’s sitting.
– That is so.
– That being so, as it is past 11 o’clock at night, no new business can be taken. The House is supposed to meet at half-past 10 o’clock this morning, and I submit that unless a suspension of the Standing Orders can be carried, the Government cannot proceed further with this Bill.
– In our difficulty, will the honorable member help us?
– I tell the Prime Minister that the only honest and legitimate course for him to pursue, if he is not going to entirely disregard the procedure of Parliament, is to move the adjournment of the House, which will then meet and go on with business in the usual way.
– Standing order No. 70 says -
No opposed business shall be taken after 11 o’clock at night, unless the House otherwise order.
That, of course, refers to new business, but our Standing Orders provide that the motion for the second reading of a Bill must be submitted on another sitting day.
– To save time, may I say that we have no intention of going on with this matter now.
. -I submit that this Bill should not be taken into consideration at the next day of sitting, but that an interval should be allowed to elapse before it is proceeded with. I make this suggestion for the purpose of allowing honorable members’ minds to become quiescent. This morning’s Argus contains some reflections upon this House. Referring to the debate upon the motion for leave to introduce this Bill, it says -
The discussion itself has not been seriously conducted, for members, speaking without apparent preparation, have simply wandered on, each one intent only on exhausting the 65 minutes’ limit of time without diverging so far from the subject as to offend against the rules of the House.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member is not in order in raising a question of privilege at this stage.
– Order! I did not understand the honorable member to rise to a question of privilege, but he is certainly out of order in reading extracts from a newspaper in regard to the current debate.
– The Prime Minister has kept us here all night. He has supplied his followers with beds and bedding whilst members of the Opposition have been compelled to shiver through a cold Melbourne winter’s night. Fancy a Queenslander coming from a sub-tropical climate being obliged to remain in this building the whole night. The Prime Minister should take that circumstance into consideration. We have learned from the Attorney-General that he proposes to proceed with the second reading of this Bill later in the day.
– The honorable member should accept what the Prime Minister says.
– Then the AttorneyGeneral is surrendering his leadership for the present.
– We cannot consider this matter later in to-day’s sitting.
– I think that an interval of a day or two should be allowed to elapse. Next Wednesday would be a fair time to proceed with the second reading of the Bill.
– Oh, no.
– The honorable member is quite unfitted to take part in this discussion. He has been absent in the Old
Country without leave, and is unacquainted with the procedure of this Chamber. We are not in a fit state of mind to consider this question forthwith. We require time to recover ourselves after the serious set back which we received as the result of the brutal tactics of the Ministry. The Government and their followers resorted to physical force in lieu of argument. They availed themselves of their brutal majority to tire out the Opposition, and when two of our members went away to get a little breakfast, a clean up, and a bath, they applied the closure.
– Who were they?
– The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs knows well enough who they were. The Government took a positively mean advantage to apply the gag.
– I rise to a point of order.
– The honorable member has no right to be here. He is a member of the Harbor Trust.
– Order ! If honorable members will not keep order after I have called order, I shall be obliged to take extreme measures.
– The honorable member for Capricornia said just now that in moving the closure I took a mean advantage of the absence of several honorable members opposite. As the application of the closure is provided for in our Standing Orders, I would like to know if my action can be designated as mean, especially as honorable members have a right to be here.
– In the confusion of a number of conversations, I confess that I did not hear the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia to which the honorable member for Henty has referred. If those remarks were made, they were certainly a reflection upon the honorable member for Henty, and were opposed to our Standing Orders. I ask the honorable member for Capricornia to withdraw them.
– I withdraw them, but I would like to know whether the honorable member for Henty is entitled to sit in this House, seeing that he holds an office of profit under the Crown, inasmuch as he is a member of the Harbor Trust.
– I support the contention of the honorable member for Kennedy. Under standing order No. 70, two things are perfectly clear. One is that this is a continuation of yesterday’s sitting. Nothing can alter that.
– That point does not arise. It can only arise when we propose to do something.
– The standing order is so clear that it admits of no argument or discussion. It provides that no opposed business shall, be taken after 11 o’clock at night unless the House otherwise orders.
– Will the honorable member allow me to point out that standing order 159 governs the matter now before the House? It provides that, after the first reading of a Bill, a future day shall be appointed for the second reading, and the Bill shall in the meantime be printed. So that, in any circumstances, the second reading of the Bill could not be taken now.
– I agree that that is quite clear; but I repeat that, under standing order No. 70, no new business can be taken during this sitting. Under standing order 159, a future day has to be appointed for the second reading of a Bill. By no resolution ofthis House, unless it be unanimously assented to, is it possible to start another sitting to-day.
– I am very sorry to intervene, but I ask, sir, whether you have not already decided the question ? I contend that it is quite irregular for the honorable member to continue argument upon a question which you have already decided.
– I was trying to discover what the contention of the honorable member for West Sydney was. I point out to him that the question of taking new business is not now before the House. The question is that the second reading of the Bill be made an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting. That question relates to the business with which the House has been dealing during the present sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have to inform the House that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral will to-day, in the Parliamentary Library, at 10 minutes before 1 o’clock, receive the Address-in-Reply agreed to by the House. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder, together with any other honorable members who may so desire, will accompany me to present the Address at that’ time.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act. - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1913-14(dated 30th April, 1914 (two)).
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act. - Passenger fares during construction of railway.
– If the honorable member has made remarks which the Prime Minister considers offensive, I ask him to withdraw them.
– If the honorable gentleman takes exception to my asking that he should be candid in this matter, I withdraw the remark.
– I have tried to be perfectly straightforward in all this business. I hold that “to-morrow” means the next sitting day, whenever it occurs. If the House decides to conclude this sitting, and to sit again this afternoon, that will be to-morrow within the meaning of the standing order.
– If honorable members agree, but they will not do so.
– The honorable member says that the House will not agree, but how does he know ?
– Because one honorable member can object.
– I do not think so. It is not a matter dependent upon the objection of one honorable member, but is entirely for the decision of the House. I wish to ask my honorable friends opposite if they will let us get on with the other two notices of motion on the paper? Mr. Speaker has just inti mated that the Governor-General is to receive the Address-in-Reply at 10 minutes to 1 o’clock. If what I suggest is not agreed to, it will mean that we shall have to sit here to no purpose. We cannot go home now, and we might put in the next hour in doing business.
– Shut up the show, and have done with it.
– Until when?
– Until Friday,” at 10.30 a.m., which will be “to-morrow “ within the meaning of the Standing Orders.
– Oh, no. I propose to move that the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock this afternoon, unless honorable members let us get on with some business.
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock this afternoon.
I decline absolutely, at all events willingly, to consent, after sitting all night, and hearing all that honorable members have been pleased to say, to allow them to go home and waste this day. To do so seems to me to be opposed to the public interest, and I propose to go on with public business.
– There is a point of order still undecided.
– That is that the honorable member has no right to move a motion of that kind?
– That is so.
– You will remember, sir, that when we met at the commencement of the session, when the Prime Minister desired to fix the days of sitting, he asked the permission of the House to move a motion on every occasion.
– And I need not have done it. That is the point.
– I am afraid that what the Prime Minister proposes to do at the present time can be done only by the suspension of the sessional order, with the unanimous consent of the House, because the sessional order which has already been agreed to provides that the sittings on Thursdays, until otherwise ordered, shall commence at half-past 10 a.m. No motion “ otherwise ordering “ was submitted before half-past 10 o’clock this morning. If anything was to be done to alter the hour of meeting for Thursday’s sitting, it should have been done before that hour. If anything of the kind is to be done now, it can bedone only by the suspension of the sessional order, and that must have the unanimous consent of the House. As it is now, if moved without notice after half-past 10 a.m., and the House not having “ otherwise ordered,” I doubt very much whether the House would be legally sitting if what the Prime Minister desires was done in the way he proposes.
– The House has not had an opportunity of “ otherwise ordering.”
– I cannot take notice of that fact. “ I am bound by the decision of the House until that decision is altered by the House. The decision of the House was to adopt a certain sessional order, which makes it obligatory on the House, until otherwise ordered, to meet at half-past 10- o’clock on Thursday morning to commence the day’s sitting.
– Yes; and I submit that this morning is not this morning, if I may so put it.
– It is Thursday, and Thursday is a day specified in the sessional order.
– It is not Thursday’s sitting; it is Wednesday’s sitting.
– I understand that the Speaker has already ruled.
– Will the Prime Minister state his point of order?
– My point of order is that we are still in Wednesday’s sitting.
– Is the honorable member dissenting from your ruling, sir?
– No. I am submitting that at any time during Wednesday’s sitting the House may otherwise order as to the next day’s sitting. That, I think, . has been established time and again.
– Yes; but it must be done before the appointed time of assembling for the next sitting arrives.
– Are you dissenting from the Speaker’s ruling ? If so, put it in writing.
– I am not. I am putting a point of order to the Speaker.
– You are traversing his ruling.
– They are hurling charges at me all the time. One honorable member accuses me of misleading you.
– Order! Will honorable members maintain silence?
– It is only fair to say that the honorable member does usually maintain silence. I may, therefore, allow his remark to pass this time. What I have said has been done time and again.
– With the consent of the House.
– No, by the House “ otherwise ordering “ on motion moved by whoever happens to be leading the House. I am, therefore,, perfectly in order in fixing the time for the next sitting of the House, and in asking the House to order otherwise than the sessional order already passed provides.
– While it is true that this is a continuation of Wednesday’s sitting the fact remains that to-day is Thursday, and I am afraid I cannot get over that fact. Any proposed alteration to vary the sessional order should have been submitted before half-past 10 this morning, if it was proposed to alter the hour of meeting for Thursday’s sitting. That hour has now passed, and I am bound by the sessional order to rule as I have done. Leave of the House must be obtained to suspend the sessional order for this day before the hour of meeting for the day’s sitting can be altered now.
– Then do I understand you to rule that this is not Wednesday’s sitting at all?
– I thought I had . made the matter perfectly clear. It is now twenty minutes past 11 on Thursday. It would have been competent for the Prime Minister to move a motion “ otherwise ordering “ the hour of meeting for Thursday’s sitting at any time before half-past 10 this morning, but I am afraid that such a motion cannot be moved now without the consent of the House. The only thing that can be done is to move that the sitting be resumed at some later hour of the day for the continuation, if desired, of Wednesday’s business.. It is not. my fault, but the fault of the sessional order, that this situation has arisen,
– Then will you tell me, sir, what we can do when we resume at a later hour of the day? That is the ridiculous position we are in if this ruling is to stand.
– Order ! If my ruling is wrong there is a provision in the Standing Orders enabling the Prime Minister to move to dissent from it. I am not responsible for the situation. Whether it may be described as ridiculous or otherwise, it is brought about by the force of circumstances, and owing to action taken by this House in a certain direction in the shape of a sessional order on the one hand, and a prolongation of Wednesday’s sitting beyond half-past ten on Thursday morning on the other. I have no power to go behind the sessional order, but am bound by it.
– You yourself will recollect-
– Is not the honorable member traversing your ruling, sir?
– No. I only want to be clear, and then I am done. You suggested a few moments ago that the only thing I could do was to move to postpone the sitting until a later hour of the day. I ask you for what? What are we to do when we meet? Your ruling, as I understand it now, practically obliterates the business-paper for the day. Can you tell me anything I can do on the business-paper at a later hour ?
– It is not for the Speaker to regulate the business of the House. That is a matter for the Government to regulate, with the concurrence of the House. The Speaker has no power to intervene and say that this, that, or the other shall be done. The position that has arisen is not of my making, or one which I can in any way help. While I sympathize with the Prime Minister, I am afraid I am not in a position to tell him what business can be done. That is a matter for the House to decide. The House alone can put the matter in the position desired by the Prime Minister. .
– Move “ That the House do now adjourn.”
– No; go on.
– There is a motion before the Chair “ That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock this afternoon.”
– I withdraw that motion, in the circumstances. You say it means nothing, sir.
– I understood you, sir, to rule that the motion could not be put. If the motion can be put, we are quite prepared to take the consequences, because it will mean a new sitting of the House.
– No !
– We can deal with that point when it arises. I should be prepared to argue then that it is a new sitting of the House. The Prime Minister moved “ That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock.”
– He did not do that.
– The Prime Minister, when he rose, moved “ That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock this afternoon.” Several points of order were raised in the meantime, and I have already pointed out that it is a matter for the House itself to decide whether it will, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock by suspending the sessional order. If the motion is carried without dissent, it will become a decision of the House, overriding the sessional order.
– But it must be unopposed.
– It can only be done, of course, with the consent of the House, which would be equivalent to the suspension of the sessional order.
– What is the position? I understand you to have ruled already that, if we carry this motion in the affirmative, we may not introduce new business. Is that so, or not?
– If this motion were carried, it would constitute a new sitting altogether, and not a continuation of the present sitting.
– It can only be done with the consent of the House.
– Yes; in view of the provisions of the sessional order which has already been passed.
– Then I object.
– As there is an objection, the matter cannot go any further.
– There is only one way out : Move the adjournment of the House.
– I do not know what to do. I do not want to adjourn. I want to do business. I hope, sir, you will permit me to raise the matter again when I have had time to look up the authorities, because I am certain your ruling is not in accordance with the practice.
– If the Prime Minister thinks that my ruling is erroneous, he has the same privilege as has any other honorable member to move to dissent from it in the regular way. My ruling is the decision of the House until the House otherwise orders. If the Prime Minister moves to dissent from it, it will then be for the House to determine whether it is correct or not..
– I submit, sir–
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Will the honorable member for Bourke cease interjecting ?
– I think I shall have to stop speaking, sir, if I cannot have a little quiet. They come at me like dogs. It is a most disgraceful thing. I can never get on my feet-
– I object to the Prime Minister referring to us as dogs.
– Order ! The Prime Minister did not refer to honorable members as dogs.
– He said we came at him like dogs.
– Order ! If honorable members will not obey the call of the Chair for order, I shall name the next honorable member who disregards the authority of the Chair, and ask the Prime Minister to take action.
Northern Territory: Tin Mining: Chinese on Gold Reserves - Instruction Class for Telephone Mechanics.
– I have no intention to reflect on your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and would be the last to do so, but I hope I am in order in saying that it does not satisfy me. Nevertheless, I am going to obey it. I hope at the same time that you will let me show you the authorities when I have had time to look them up, and to ascertain definitely what the practice is on that point. We have come to the position that we cannot do any more business, and there is, therefore, nothing left for me to do but to move, very reluctantly -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to bring under the notice of the Miniate! of External Affairs, who I regret to see is not present, several questions relating to the administration of the Northern Territory. Some time ago the
Department decided to send a battery to a place called Mahranboy, a new tin field. I am informed that the miners on the field are stopped from making any progress because the removal of the ore is very expensive. It is really impossible for them at present to make a living there. That, however, is not the worst feature. A large’ quantity of the ore is so poor in quality that it does not pay to shift it from the mine, with the result that it iS_ thrown on to the mullock heap, and a serious loss is thereby occasioned to the community. On several occasions I have asked the Minister to hurry up with the battery, which, as honorable members know, is already promised. A good opportunity is now afforded to the Government to improve the roads in this district. If it is not possible for the Department to expedite the transit of the battery to the district, which is situated about 60 miles from Pine Creek, and if they really mean to do anything to the roads a good opportunity is afforded to- them to provide employment for the idle miners. I have been informed by the miners that the storekeepers have been very good indeed to them, but, of course, there is a limit to that consideration being extended. A part of the battery, I believe, is in Melbourne, and a part is in the Territory. But there seems to be no haste in endeavouring to get the battery up to the Mahranboy mine. There is another matter to which I wish to draw the Minister’s attention. A short ‘time ago certain gold reserves were proclaimed within the Territory, namely, at Umbrawarra, Yenberrie, and Ferguson. There is a regulation which provides that Chinese are not permitted on gold reserves until after a certain period has elapsed. I am informed that these goldfields are now overrun by Chinese, and that it is utterly impossible for white men to go there while the Chinese are in possession. According to the information I have received the Chinese are breaking the law. I ask the Minister to take some steps in this matter, because I am assured that if white men could gain admission to the gold reserves they would be able to make a living. Those persons who have had the opportunity of seeing the districts admit that the mineral reserves deserve some consideration from the Government. The advent of a mining population would, I believe, be the forerunner of the Territory becoming populated. The desire of some persons is to get an opportunity to peacock the best reserves for their own use. Another reason for running down the prospects in the Northern Territory is the fear that its development might involve a reduction in the population of the States. The settlement of people in the Territory is a matter of such great importance that I do not think I need apologise for delaying honorable members for a few minutes from taking the rest to which they are well entitled. The tin proposition at Mahranboy is, I believe, one of the best tin propositions in the whole of Australia. I am informed by men who have gone there from Sydney that the tin field comprises an area of 25 miles by 8 miles. The shifting of the tin ore costs half a crown per ton per mile. If the Minister were to employ the idle miners in improving the roads it would save a distance of from 4 or 5 miles in the carriage of the ore to the railway. That would be a great consideration for the men out back, because it would mean a saving of 10s. a ton. At present there is thrown on the mullock heap a large amount of ore which, if put through the battery, would produce a very fair return. We ought not, if it can be avoided, to allow this ore to run to waste. If any enterprise would push forward the Territory, certainly it is mining. As honorable members know, miners have been the real pioneers of Australia. It is natural, of course, for the squatters to peacock the best land. It is the rascality of Governments which has permitted the best reserves in the Territory to be peacocked. Sooner or later the Minister of External Affairs will have to resume some reserves in order to secure proper roads, and to throw open to settlers a bit of good land. To my mind very little has been done by the present Government “ to develop the Territory. On the contrary, everything that has been done has been in the way of butchering those who have made an attempt to settle there. These persons have met with nothing but disappointment. If this treatment is continued they will have to leave or starve. I believe that honorable members on the other side would, if possible, exterminate the white residents because they are jealous that the Territory may become a field for those who have a little energy and determination, and a desire to better their conditions by going there. Nothing but poison is poured into the mind of every person who desires to open up the Territory. I hope that my honorable friends opposite will get into a better frame of mind and deal with this great question in a way which will bring credit to Australia^ and promote the development of the Territory. The intention was that as soon as possible after Federation was accomplished some action should be taken in order that this part of Australia should not remain virtually a desert. I shall avail myself of every possible opportunity to impress upon the Government the necessity for taking prompt measures so - that the back door of Australia shall become peopled by persons of our own race.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the House replies to some questions which I received from the PostmasterGeneral a few days ago. The questions were as follow: -
The Postmaster-General furnished the following answers: -
The information I have is that the class was established in Adelaide on the date mentioned, and in accordance with an order which was posted in the Department. The bottom of the notice reads -
I shall be glad to receive on or before Monday next the names of officers who are willing to conduct one of these classes.
The class met on the 11th February, at the first meeting Mr. Brooks, of Adelaide, being the instructor. It was convened in the presence of Mr. Hill, the assistant engineer for telephone equipment, and in a room measuring 24 feet by 22 feet. It is fitted with benches, and on each bench there is a ridge for the work to be carried out there. This is the only seating accommodation which is provided for the members of the class, consequently it is most uncomfortable for them to sit on the benches and ‘listen to an instructor. These mechanics recognise that they are not as efficient as they should bo. Now, it is to the advantage of the Department that they should have efficient rather than inefficient mechanics. The first meeting of the class, which was held on the 11th February, was attended by no less than eighty-three mechanics. At the meeting on 18th February, there were thirty-seven present, the reduction being explained by the fact that, on that evening, the mechanics were holding a benefit social to one of their esteemed presidents, who is now deceased. On the 25th February, the total number present was 57 ; on 4th March, it numbered 64 ; on 11th March, 56; on 18th March, 57; on 25th March, 60; on 1st April, 45; on 8th April, 41; and on 15th April, 44. It will be seen, therefore, that the classes have been well attended throughout.’ When they were first established, it was proposed that the instructor should receive a fee of £11s. per. meeting; but, so far, he has not been paid for his services. Some time ago, a deputation, consisting of one member of the Assistants Association, one from the Lines Branch, one from the Mail Branch, and one from the Lettercarriers Branch, waited on the Deputy Postmaster-General in Adelaide. In his reply, that gentleman said that, as a matter of fact, the whole thing was premature, and that he had not given instructions for the class to be formed. Yet his reply through the Postmaster-General was -
The Deputy Postmaster-General, Adelaide, states that he did not refuse to recognise this class, which is being conducted by officers of the Department in accommodation provided for the class on departmental premises.
Yesterday, I received the following wire in regard to the matter: -
Location class shifted to Exchange basement to-night, when assembled instructor ordered to leave building by foreman’s orders. Nothing yet heard from Deputy.
I am informed that the Department is experiencing a difficulty in getting telephone attendants, and that it is even proposed to introduce men from overseas.
That being so, I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will look into this complaint, with a view to remedying it at the earliest possible moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.52 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140513_reps_5_73/>.