5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker book the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime
Minister if he will give me an opportunity to-morrow to move the motion standing in my name for that day. It deals with the question of Home Rule, and I desire that a vote may be taken upon it without discussion ?
– Is the honorable member able to assure me that every member of his party desires that a vote shall be taken on the motion without discussion ?
– I have not consulted my party.
– I suggest that the honorable member should consult his party, and give me an assurance on the matter.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he hasreceived from the Women’s Political Association of Victoria a copy of the following resolution, and if he proposes to give the House an opportunity to place it on its records: -
That this meeting of citizens urges the Prime Minister to introduce in the Commonwealth Parliament a resolution to be cabled to Mr. Asquith, on the eve of the Women’s Deputation to the King, testifying that the enfranchisement of Australian women, on equal terms with men, is warmly supported by all parties after twelve years’ experience.
– I have received a communication on the subject, and have instructed that a replybe sent to the effect that the Government does not see its way to comply with the request.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice, and, to lead up to it, I shall read a telegram which was published in the Melbourne Argus of the 18th inst.
– The honorable member would not be in order in doing that.
– The substance of the statement on which I base my question is that in Mexico recently an airship, hanging over a warship, was able almost to smash her decks, and drove her out to sea. In view of the fact that this warship had to put to sea to save herself from the attacks of a hawk - of a little bit of an airship - I ask the Prime Minister will he see that no more money is spent on vessels of war, or other craft, or engines of destruction, or economic waste; until a Royal Commission has gone into the whole expenditure of the Defence Department?
– I shall consider the matter.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs when we may expect the bi-monthly schedule of his Department, which is now overdue?
– Very shortly.
The following papers were presented -
Audit Act - Transfers of Amountsapproved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1913-14 (dated 8th May, 1914).
Defence Act-Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 39.
Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia - Report on an Inspection of, by General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O., General Officer Commanding-in-Chicf, Mediterranean, and Inspector-General of the Oversea Forces, 1914.
Privy Council’s Judgments -
Attorney-General of the Commonwealth v. The Adelaide Steamship Company and others (Coal Vend Case).
Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and others v. the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and others (Sugar Case).
Alleged Dismissal of Workmen - Preference to Unionists
– Is there any truth in the rumour published in the Adelaide newspapers that 200 men who were engaged at the Port Augusta end of the east to west railway have been discharged by the Government? -Mr. KELLY. - Not so far as I am aware.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Home Affairs Department lay on the table a copy of the agreement entered into by him, on behalf of his Department, with a branch of the Australian Workers Union, which, as reported in the Adelaide daily newspapers on the 24th April last, provides for preference to unionists in the ca.se of those employed on part of the east to west railway?
– There is no justification for the assumption that the agreement provides for anything in the nature of preference to unionists. It is an agreement with a certain union that its members will work at certain rates of pay as far as Tarcoola, but its scope is limited to the members of the union; it cannot bind any other persons who are not parties to it. The statement that the agreement provides for preference, or anything in the nature of preference, to unionists is without foundation.
– Will the Minister lay a copy of the agreement on the table, so that honorable members may be able to see for themselves whether preference has been given?
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether the newspaper report that the Marconi Company intends to proceed with its action against the Commonwealth is true, and, if so, whether he intends to continue to hold a retainer for the company?
– I have no knowledge of the intentions of the company; and, therefore, cannot answer the first question. The matter is entirely iii the hands of the Minister of External Affairs. The second question I have already answered, it having been put to me by another honorable member.
– Will the Minister of External Affairs state whether the newspapers are correct in reporting that the Marconi Company intends to proceed with its litigation with the Commonwealth Government?
– The Crown Solicitor has not, I think, received any letter from the solicitors of the company, but, so far as I can ascertain, the action is to be proceeded with, and we are, of course, making necessary provision for an adequate defence in the event of the action being fought out. As a matter of fact, I had an interview this morning with the Crown Solicitor and counsel, and, so far as I know at present, the action will be proceeded with.
- Senator Barnes is reported to have said, speaking at Coleraine this ‘ month, that the Beef -Trust brought £40,000,000 to Australia, and has secured the unborn stock of the country for the next seven years. As a Royal Commissioner has been appointed to investigate the allegations with respect to the trust, will the Minister of Trade and Customs see, that the’ senator and others of these gallant toreadors are given <m opportunity to prove their wild statements on oath?
– The ‘ conduct of the Commission’s proceedings will be in the hands of the Commissioner. No doubt he will be glad to obtain evidence from any person who can give information on the subject.
– On the 7th May the honorable member for Maribyrnong asked me to make inquiries into the complaint that at some of our military horse depots men are called upon to work unnecessarily long hours on’ Sunday, because, seemingly, some superior officer wishes to bring along a friend in the afternoon to inspect the horses. The honorable member asked that this excessive Sunday work should be stopped. I have been informed by the Minister of Defence that the District Commandant reports that, as a result of inquiries, it has been ascertained that there is not the slightest justification for such a complaint. The members of the Remount Section, the Commandant states, are paid as other soldiers, that is, for seven days in the week, and are detailed in turn for Sunday duty as required, the hours being from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., as on ordinary days.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs if it is true, as reported, that he proposes to appoint two inspectors of land for service in the Northern Territory, to fill the position lately occupied by Mr. Ryland?
– No; I have not thought of appointing two inspectors to fill Mr. Ryland’s position. The office that he held was thought to be unnecessary, and its duties have been taken over by others in the Service. There has been a general re-organization of the work of the officials of the Northern Territory. An appointment was made about four months ago, of a gentleman named Williams, who had been to South America in connexion with inquiries as to the possibilities of Welsh Patagonian immigration. For reasons principally connected with immigration, when that gentleman returned his services were retained, and he was given the title of inspector, but no addition has been made to the staff in consequence of Mr. Ryland’s retirement.
– A number of motions in the names of private members are set down for to-day, and I ask for leave to have my notice of motion transferred to the notice-paper for the 4th June.
– Notices which are not reached are automatically placed on the notice-paper from day to day.
– I rise on a question of privilege and I shall conclude my remarks with a motion. I trust that honorable memberswill give me attention for the few minutes I shall be speaking. I shall not detain the House for many moments, but the matter I wish to bring forward is one of vital importance in connexion with the conduct of our proceedings, not merely at the pre- sent moment, but also in the future, because what we may do at the present time may affect other Parliaments, and other members, after we have gone. In those circumstances, I think it is only fair that this matter should be dealt with, apart from any party feeling. What I refer to is the taking away of the right of honorable members to discuss the rulings of Mr. Speaker. It is not my intention to traverse those rulings, or to say whether they are good or bad. It has been stated that motions disagreeing to Mr. Speaker’s ruling have been placed in such a position on the businesspaper that the House will have no opportunity of ever discussing them. On this point our own Standing Orders are most specific, and for that reason it is not my intention to indulge in long extracts from May’s Parliamentary Practice. Our first standing order says that we shall have recourse to the House of Commons practice only when our own Standing Orders are silent.
– I rise to order. I submit this is not a question of privilege, such as is meant by our Standing Orders. It is not a matter that has suddenly arisen. It affects no privilege of the House except such as can be dealt with either by notice, or by the ordinary machinery of the House. Theref ore, I submit that there is nothing in this question which warrants interference with the ordinary practice of the House. This is not a matter of privilege suddenly arising, such as is necessary to be dealt with precedent to the transaction of other business.
– In regard to that point of order. I would point out to the Prime Minister that we have departed from our own standing order which says that a motion to disagree to Mr. Speaker’s ruling must be discussed on the next day. Standing order 287 says -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the Speaker, such objection must be taken at once- that was done - and in writing - that was done- and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the House, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day.
– What then?
– What do those words mean but that the motion must be discussed?
– You know better (than that.
– I will admit candidly that I do not know better than that. With very rare exceptions, no precedent can be found for a motion to disagree to the ruling of the Speaker not being discussed next day. Indeed, that is the practice of this House. I do not know whether any such case arose during Mr. Carty Salmon’s Speakership, but that practice was always followed when Sir Frederick Holder was Speaker, and when I was in the Chair such a motion was brought forward by the honorable member for Capricornia, and it was immediately placed at the head of the notice-paper for the next day. I would urge the Prime Minister not to take objection to my motion at the present moment. So far as I am personally concerned, the discussion of the motion to dissent from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, would not occupy a quarter of an hour. The point I wish to make is that you, and you alone, have the right to fix the business of the House.
– Does the honorable member find authority for that statement in the Standing Orders?
– It is the common practice. The House ia above the Government; it can displace a Government.
– And it is also above Mr. Speaker.
– Quite so. When any of its privileges are attacked the House has the right to decide what shall be done, and is, therefore, above the Government in these matters. As soon as Mr. Speaker has read the prayers, does he not ask whether any honorable member, has a petition to present, and is it not a fact that the Government of the day cannot prevent the presentation of a petition if it is in order? Then, again, is it not a fact that Mr. Speaker next calls for notices of motions and questions, and that notices of motions may then be given? There is one on the business-paper which covers a page, and the reading of which must have occupied fully five minutes. That being so, the question of the length of a notice of motion is not material to the issue. Honorable members may ask what questions they think proper when you, Mr.
Speaker, call on notices of motions and questions.
– I do not think the honorable member will find that questions, without notice, are called for; the call is for notices of motions.
– Notices of motions, and, I think, questions are called.
– Is this discussion taking place on the point of order?
– The honorable member raised the point of order.
– Then permit me in the circumstances to withdraw the point of order, because the discussion of it is going to take longer, apparently, than would the discussion of the question of privilege.
– The Prime Minister is right in withdrawing his point of order. I shall not take long in discussing the question of privilege.
– I shall have to intervene, irrespective of the action taken by the Prime Minister, since the motion is’ not one affecting privilege, but relates really to our own Standing Orders and practice, and does not come within the definition of what constitutes privilege as I have already pointed out, I think, on two recent occasions. The question of petitions and notices of motion being called on is specifically provided for in the Standing Orders. That is why they are called on first. With reference to this question, I can only repeat what I said when the matter was raised before. Personally, I should much prefer that motions relating to my rulings were disposed of at once. No standing order, however, exists giving any precedence to motions to dissent, and the House has directed that Government business shall take precedence at every sitting. The noticepaper is strictly in order according to the resolutions of the House. Whatever my personal wishes, I have no power to alter it.
– Do I understand—-
– I wish to intimate, at the outset, that I do not propose to allow my decisons to be made the subject of a debate immediately after they are given. In order that there might be no misunderstanding as to what my ruling was, I read it to the House, so that it might be perfectly clear.
– I have no desire to traverse your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I wish to know whether the Government, in the event of my moving that your ruling be disagreed with, will allow the motion to be discussed to-morrow ? Mr. Joseph Cook. - Will the honorable member allow me to intervene with an explanation ?
– I desire to say generally that this departure from the ordinary practice of the House has been rendered necessary by the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
– The Prime Minister admits that it is a departure from the practice.
– A departure from the practice, but not from the Standing Orders.
– A very serious departure.
– I admit that it is, and the circumstances are likewise serious. I take this course for the reason that it is perfectly obvious to any one watching our proceedings that the whole of the time of the House would be taken up in discussing motions to dissent from Mr. Speaker’s ruling if it could be done under the Standing Orders.
– That is a reflection on the House.
– It is a fact.
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister is not in order in casting a reflection upon honorable members who give notice .of motion to dissent from your ruling, and I ask that .he be called on to withdraw the remark just made by him.
– The Prime Minister has not so far transgressed any standing order. The honorable gentleman was pointing out what might happen if unlimited licence were given to set back Government business in order to discuss points of order that might possibly be raised for other than legitimate purposes. He is perfectly in order in putting such a case.
– Ordinarily I should be the very last to interpose to prevent a motion of dissent from Mr.
Speaker’s ruling being disposed of at theearliest possible moment ; but I venture tosay that since this House met a notice todissent from Mr. Speaker’s ruling hasbeen given on the average once everyday.
– No; there are onlythree on the notice-paper.
– But how manynotices of motion have been given and? nothing has come of them? There was, for instance, the notice of motion given the other day by the honorable member for Illawarra, which he could not read, and which therefore went by the board:
– That is not true.
– I ask the honorable” member for Illawarra to withdraw that statement.
– In deference to you, sir,. I withdraw it, but say that the statement that I could not read my notice of motion is incorrect.
– Then I shall conclude the whole business by saying that the Government cannot afford the time for these incessant motions.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, and shall not occupy more than a minute or two in doing so-.. The Prime Minister- said that the reason why he would not allow your rulings to be discussed, Mr. Speaker, was-
– The honorable member will not be in order, under cover of making a personal explanation, in traversing what the Prime Minister has said except in regard to something which affected him personally, and in respect of which he has been misrepresented.
– I desire not tomake a personal explanation, but to make a statement just as the Prime Ministerdid.
– We have been told that it is because of the necessity of dealing with urgent business that certain notices of motion to dissent from your rulings, Mr. Speaker, are not to be discussed. It is entirely for the Government to say what method shall be employed to proceed with business, and there are two methods distinctly laid down in the Standing Orders. Under the circumstances, if the Government fail to proceed with thebusiness, their proper course is to resign.
asked the Honorary Min ister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr.BURCHELL asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Minister will lay upon the Library table files dealing with claims for compensation for damage to buildings in the vicinity of Fort Forrest, North Fremantle?
– The papers will be laid on the Library table.
Mr.FENT ON asked the AttorneyGeneral,upon notice -
Whetherhe will inquire into the question of the Victorian Government charging stamp duty on Commonwealth Bank cheques?
Willhe, after inquiry, inform the House as to whether it is in accordance with the law of the Commonwealth to charge1d. on each cheque used by customers of the bank?
– The honorable member for South Sydney has a question on the notice-paper dealing with the same matter in regard, to New South Wales, and at my request he has kindly consented to postpone it until Wednesday next so that I may have some further time for investigation. I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to permit his question to stand over till the same day.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral consider my question in the meantime ?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence,. upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will announce to the House what steps have been taken by the health authorities to prevent the present outbreak of small-pox in New South Wales spreading to other parts of the Commonwealth?
– An arrangement with the State Minister was made yesterday, the details of which have been already published.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Section 46 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act provides penalties for breaches of the Act or regulations.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Government to refuse at all times during their term of office to grant preference to unionists in the matter of Government employment?
– The Bill dealing with this matter is before the House.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne, has furnished the following information in reply to the honorable member’s questions: -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers .to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The Commandant, 3rd Military District, to whom the matter was referred, has replied as follows: -
Meat Works - Administration. Mr. BRENNAN (for Mr. Thomas) asked the Minister of External Affairs,, upon notice -
Whether any arrangements have been made by the Government, or by private individuals, for the erection of meat works in the Northern Territory?
If so, what are they?
– Negotiations with capitalists for the erection of freezing works at Darwin have been proceeding for some time, but are not quite concluded. When concluded, the terms will be made known.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he will give any reply to the statement made, on the motion for the adjournment of the House on the 14th inst., in reference to the administration of the Northern Territory?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Regarding the Maranboy field, I am aware of the necessity for expedition in regard to the erection of the battery. Some time necessarily elapsed before the plans could be prepared, as it was essential to have surveys and a complete examination made to select the best site, and also some assurances from responsible geological authorities that the field was likely to be a permanent one. When those assurances were received, and surveys, &e., made, I gave instructions for the work to be pressed on with all expedition, and am now in a position to state that a large part of the plant is already under way for the Territory., and the balance will be delivered in Darwin before the 30th June. A manager has been appointed, who will supervise the erection of the plant. He is now also en route to Darwin. His instructions are to proceed with the construction as early as possible.
The matter of the improvement of the roads is important, and has already received the Administrator’s attention. I believe that work is now proceeding. The honorable member’s useful suggestion as to employing available miners for the purpose has been brought to the Administrator’s notice.
The gold-fields named were retained as new gold-fields for two years; but when that time expired in April and June, 1911, and May, 1913, they became, by operation of law, open to all classes of miners. It was intended to continue these fields as new gold-fields for the longer term, but the proclamations not having been issued till the original period expired, they were, I am advised, of no effect.
I quite agree with the honorable’ member as to the importance of development of the mining industry, and hope that the very large expenditure now being incurred in that direction will have substantial results in improving the condition of affairs and increasing the population in the Territory.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Debate resumed from 15th May (vide page 1077), on motion by Mr. W. H. Irvine -
That this Bill bc now read a second time.
.- In continuing my remarks from Friday last, I should like to deal with two additional phases of non-preference to unionists in the Government service. On Friday, the Leader of the Opposition affirmed the principle that the granting of preference to unionists in the Government service did not conflict with the Public Service Act; and when this question was debated during the last Parliament a great deal of stress was laid on the fact that all things must be equal before preference to unionists was to be given in the Public Service. A merely cursory glance into the history of the introduction of preference to unionists in the Public Service shows clearly that preference to unionists does conflict seriously with the provisions of the Public Service Act, and that if absolute preference to unionists is enforced in regard to the employment of casual labour in the Government service, the principle of “ all tilings being equal “ must necessarily be of no effect. During last Parliament, consequent on the order issued by the Minister of Home Affairs directing that preference to unionists should be given in the Public Service, a motion of want of confidence in the Fisher Government was tabled. It was shown then that, on the strength of that Ministerial order, the head of the Department of Home Affairs had issued a memorandum stating that preference to unionists must be enforced in regard to casual employment in the Service, and directing that a list of all non-unionists must be furnished to him. I have always claimed that that interpretation of the Minister’s order by the permanent head of the Department was the only consistent interpretation it could have. When the noconfidence motion was under discussion in the House, the Prime Minister of the Government attacked declared that 11 all things being equal “ was a necessary condition in the granting of preference, and with that assurance, and with the failure of the Opposition to put the Government out, the matter rested for the moment; but in September of the same year it was discovered that a minute attached to one of the contracts in the Home Affairs Department declared that absolute preference to unionists must be given to all employed in the carrying out of that contract. It is unnecessary to quote the whole of the minutes and directions, as they are already in Hansard, and must be admitted by honorable members, but the Minister of Home Affairs at the time was, and lias been, thoroughly consistent in regard to the matter. He has never tried to whittle down the force of the ukase he issued. He has always declared, as he declared in the House when the second debate took place during last Parliament upon the minute attached to specifications, that absolute preference to unionists was to be given in the employment of labour in connexion with the carrying out of these Government contracts. Even after the Prime Minister interjected that “ all things being equal “ was a condition, the Minister of Home Affairs declared that that could not be so, and that when he issued the order that “ all things being equal preference to unionists was to be given,” he found that his instructions had not been carried out, and that it was necessary to alter his order by stating that absolute preference to unionists must be carried out, as it was the only possible means of enforcing his policy in the Department.
– And his action was never repudiated.
– The Minister for Home Affairs declared also that he was master of the Department of Home Affairs, which suggests a very interesting situation. Was the direction given to the Minister by Caucus; was Caucus responsible for the order being given? As a matter of fact, we know that the pressure came from the outside unions, but not from every union; because, as stated by the Attorney-General on Friday last, not every union is prepared to take up the position taken up by the Parliamentary party. Only quite recently the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Scaddan, repudiated the claim put forward that there should be absolute preference to unionists in employment in the Public Service.
– The Leader of the party at the time made the statement that “ other things being equal “ was to be a condition.
– During the debate in Parliament, the ex-Prime Minister interjected that “ all things being equal “ was a condition of employment, but that statement was immediately repudiated by the Minister of Home Affairs, who declared that his first order had been ignored, that he had meant absolute preference by it, that he took his instructions from no one, that if he was not to be the boss of the Home Affairs Department he would be like the fifth wheel of the coach, and that he ran his own circus. I think those were his words.
– Hear, hear! I was the boss in the Department.
– And his colleagues never repudiated his action.
– I was just about to say so. From the time the last word was said by the Minister, absolute preference to unionists must have been the policy of the Department of Home Affairs until the Labour Government went out of office.
– You pick out statements to suit yourself.
– I am giving a fair resume of the situation. Let me now deal with the assertion of the Leader of the Opposition that preference to unionists in the Government service cannot come into conflict with the provisions of the Public Service Act. Examinations determine the order in which our officers enter the Public Service, and sub- sequently the qualifications for promotion ave the- ability of the officer and the merit he displays in his Department. On the other hand, in regard to temporary employes, who ‘ should come under the Public Service Commissioner, ability, qualification, and order of registration are supposed to be the requirements for employment.
-Temporary employes do not come under the Public Service Commissioner.
– They must be registered, and that matter is in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner. Also the Public Service Commissioner prescribes the questions which applicants must answer when they are registered for temporary employment.
– Is there any mention of preference in the regulations?
– No. It is open for any one to make application for employment. The only requirements are that the applicant shall have priority of registration, and that he shall be qualified to take up his duties. Therefore, pre<ference to unionists must conflict seriously with the Public Service Act in every class of employment that comes directly under the Act. In those two points, preference to unionists, as defined by the ex-Minister of Home Affairs and his Leader on Friday last, is a serious contravention of the practice of the Departments, and the letter of the Public Service Act.
– Navvies have nothing to do with the Public Service Commissioner.
– I am not confining my remarks to the employment of navvies.
The gravamen of the charge against the Labour party is that they would apply preference to unionists in the selection of men appointed to carry on the public works of the country. It is the whole body of taxpayers that contributes the £22,000,000 annually paid into the Treasury. This money is the property of the people, for whom the Government of the day is the trustee. Ordinary legislative measures do not receive the assent, of the Governor-General until they have been discussed and agreed to by both Houses of the Parliament, and for their interpretation, and for the protection of the people’s interests, we have established courts of law. But in the exercise of ad ministrative authority in spending the public revenues, the case is diametrically different. So far as it is concerned the honest discharge of a public trusteeship in administration is the people’s only protection. To devote any part of the public funds which have been contributed to the revenue by the whole people to political uses or in rewarding political partisans is a grave and shameless breach of faith on the part of any Government, and a flagrant violation of a sacred trusteeship. It is a misapplication of the public funds for political purposes. It establishes within the Commonwealth the vicious principle of spoils to the victors. It constitutes a cruel wrong to every man in the community who is not a member of a political union, although equally with unionists a taxpayer. The recognition of the principle of preference to unionists brands the non-unionists as incapable, and debars free citizens from the opportunity to obtain employment in the Public Service of the country, paid for out of revenue to which they have contributed. It stands as a degradation of the administrative authority and of the political life of the Commonwealth. I regret exceedingly that a unanimous Parliament has not risen in defence .of the purity of our administration, and to preserve unsullied that high and lofty ethical standard of which we are proud, and to which we have attained in the administration of the public affairs of Australia.
, - When the Bill was last before us I said that I considered it the shadow of a sham, and recent events have strengthened that opinion. If any lingering doubts remained the speech delivered by the AttorneyGeneral last Friday amply justifies my opinion. In the course of his remarks the honorable and learned gentleman left the Bill almost severely alone. He said many surprising and irrelevant things, but his offer to withdraw the Bill if. the Labour party would pledge itself not to give preference to unionists in Government employment should a Labour Ministry again come into power, was supremely inane. Such a proposal destroys the only argument that could be used in support of the action which the Government is taking. Our criticism of that action has been that the Bill is unnecessary, that if passed it would accomplish nothing that what it purports to do has been already done. Regarding it as a legislative bantling, and not as an instrument for parading the patriotic anxiety of the Government to appeal to the people, the only reason for its introduction can be that if it passed it would prevent a Labour Government from granting preference to unionists until a repealing Bill had become law. But what of that ? A Labour Government in power would command a majority in this Chamber, and could, therefore, as easily get a repealing Bill passed as frame an Executive minute providing for preference to unionists. So much for that argument. The Attorney-General, though always a man of infinite resource, surpassed himself in his most recent speech - if ingenuity, and not logic and relevancy, is the supreme triumph in the discussion of political measures - by the cleverness with which he avoided reference to the Bill. He would not have even mentioned it but for his slavish reverence for the Standing Orders. He talked about everything under the sun, and even of things that are not under the sun, taking refuge at last in the revelation of St. John the Divine. Anything more hopelessly inappropriate than such a quotation from such a quarter could not be imagined.
The Bill purports to do something already done. It has been introduced really to serve as a vehicle for an early appeal to the country. But the AttorneyGeneral knows that if Parliament goes to the country, and after the elections there is a joint sitting of the two Houses, there will not bc one chance in 25,000 of a majority in the joint sitting approving it. But if we assume, for” the purposes of the argument, that something may happen, which is really as improbable as anything humanly can be, I ask, What would be gained if at the joint sitting there were a majority for the Bill? Things would be still exactly as they are. Nothing would be changed. No persons’ rights would be affected in any way. Yet the measure forms the pretext with which Ministers are endeavouring to persuade a reasonable man that section 57 of the Constitution ought to apply, and that a double dissolution ought to be granted. The Attorney-General has stated that it is wrong and unprofessional to introduce the name of the Governor-General into this discussion, and I agree with him; I think it is the first time that I have done so. In doing so now I have but followed his example. He was the first to do so. But I shall not permit him to mislead the citizens in regard to a matter so important as this. On Friday, when he suggested that the Opposition is endeavouring, by every ingenious device possible under the Standing Orders, to delay a general appeal to the country, he was asked by the honorable member for Hunter, and by myself, what would happen if the Government did not get a double dissolution? Would it take a single dissolution, which was all that would be left to it? His reply was, “Wait and see.” When brought to the brink and asked, “Will you jump ?” he replied, in effect, “ No, I will not.” He has treated this House to a cinematographic display of horrors, and has told the country that, like Mettius Curtius, the Government are prepared to leap into the gulf that has opened before them. He knows, however, that the gulf which he speaks of is only a painted picture. When we take him to the real thing, the single dissolution which lies yawning before us, and ask him if he will jump, he says, “ Wait and see.” If the Government cannot get a double dissolution, Ministers must accept a single dissolution. There is no other alternative. Yet they shiver at the very mention of it, for, unlike their threats in regard to a double dissolution, it has reality behind iti The Attorney-General told us that the object of the Bill was to crush, at its very inception, the introduction of the spoils system into the clean political life of Australia. In effect,’ he invited the electors to contrast Labour politics, Tammany, and corruption with the clean political methods of the present Administration. He suggested that the late Government resorted to practices which had sullied the legislative escutcheon of the Common- wealth. I ask the electors to look at the matter fairly, and let the searchlight of truth shine on the facts. The AttorneyGeneral suggests that the last Labour Adminstration introduced the spoils system As a matter of fact, we put an end to it. We appointed Justices of the High Court, administrators of the Northern Territory, naval and military experts of the highest standing, the Governor of a bank, and other high officials, charged with the responsibilities of the most important and national duties, and in no one case did we appoint a member of our own party. We were the first political party in this Commonwealth that ever did that. Before our time, it was the practice to always appoint supporters to positions of influence and emolument.
– There are not many bank managers in your party.
– The honorable and learned Attorney-General speaks about spoils to the victors; but I say that such a taunt coming from such a man, standing as the spokesman of such a party, is to outdo Satan himself condemning sin. I point to the record of the Labour party, and I ask the honorable member to contrast it with his own. If the Labour party erred at all - and I say sometimes we did - it was because we followed too closely along those lines of which my honorable friend has kept clear all his political life. We did not appoint our friends to public positions. The party which calls itself the Liberal party never had a great office at its disposal that they did not fill it with a friend. I challenge the honorable member, or any honorable member on the Government side, to say that we appointed a friend to any one of the great offices filled by us. In every case we appointed a political opponent.
– What about “ brother “ Ryland?
– I do not call his office a great one; but, at any rate, the present Government “ sacked “ him. In face of these facts, and much more, honorable members opposite speak about “ spoils to the victors.” To give a poor devil of a navvy a job at 9s. per day, for which he has to work hard, is “ spoils to the victor”; but to appoint a stout supporter to a fat sinecure or a position of influence, where .he can subordinate the current of political life in this country to the interests of the Government and its wealthy supporters, is patriotism pure and undiluted. Even so far as the appointment of manual labourers was concerned, before the Labour Government came into office, it was the notorious practice of Ministers to stick their own friends into every billet, from that of ‘a crossingsweeper upwards; and members supporting the Government went cap in hand to Ministers, who in turn appointed friends, of those members. But, for the first time in the his tory of the Commonwealth, and of the State, too, we laid the axe at this tree of nepotism and persons were appointed for reasons of fitness, and fitness only.
The honorable member asked, “Was there ever any inquiry as to the fitness of persons appointed under the Labour Government?” In every, case. There was never a case where a man was engaged at 9s. per day, or appointed to any position greater than that, but that his fitness was regarded as the first essential; and all we asked was that where persons qualified for billets were unionists, they should get prefer^ence. And properly so. Why should they not get it? Here is a practice that was recognised throughout the Commonwealth by private employers even before the law compelled them to recognise it. Every private employer to-day can be compelled by the Courts of the country to grant preference to unionists. And yet the Government are not to do what the laws make the private employer do ; and when the Government do it, the AttorneyGeneral raises this stupid cry of “ spoils to the victors.”
The Attorney-General said that we gave preference to unionists because the unions supplied us with funds. I do not know, whether he makes that charge on any grounds other than those he disclosed to the House ; all I know is that there is no truth in the statement. Some unions do subscribe to the political movement; most do not. I stand here as a man who has been in political life for the last twenty years, during all of which time I have taken a prominent part in industrial organization; and I can state that I have never received one penny piece from any industrial organization for political purposes, nor has any union with which I am officially connected ever contributed a penny for that purpose. That can be said ‘by many members on this side. Some unions are affiliated with the political movement, and others are not. Others are opposed to it, as, indeed, are some of the organizations I am connected with; and to say that we granted preference to unionists because the unions gave us funds with which to contest elections is absurd.
The honorable member went on to say that we compelled men to join a union or to starve. I shall have a little to say in regard to that phase of the matter later on. I desire to ask the honorable member one simple question: In giving preference to unionists, what wrong ‘is done to the community? If the unionists are in sufficient numbers to do all the Government work, why should they not get the work as well as non-unionists ? Because, if by sacking a non-unionist to put on a unionist you condemn the non-unionist to starve, the reverse of that must be equally true, that by sacking a unionist in order to put on a non-unionist you condemn the unionist to starve ! But if, on the other hand, there are not enough unionists to do the work pf the Government, non-unionists will tike their place alongside the unionists, and no one will starve.
I do not know whether the honorable member, who speaks so glibly of unionism, has the faintest conception of what unionism is or does; but I may tell him that in some of the most militant industrial organizations it is the daily practice of unionists and non-unionists to work together when there is an insufficient supply of. union labour to do the work. In the latest award given by Mr. Justice Higgins, the only one in which preference was granted to a union that was a de facto union, preference .was given upon those very terms, and all the preference granted by the Courts throughout Australia is given upon the distinct understanding that the unions shall supply a sufficient quantity of competent labour. The labour must be competent and in sufficient quantities. But these conditions being fulfilled, the unionist gets preference; and why not? What. claim has the non-unionist on society more than has the unionist? If one or other has to starve, why should not’ the non-unionist starve as readily as the unionist ? But all this talk about starvation of unionists or non-unionists is so much bunkum and rubbish. In this country, where unionism has great power, no working man or working woman need starve, or, at any rate, only very rarely; but in countries where the unionists are powerless, or fighting for a bare existence, great numbers of people do starve and die. This country, where unionism has the greatest power, is the country where prosperity is most general, and starvation is least known. How does this fustian and hysterical rubbish which the honorable member lias treated us to about compelling non-unionists to starve compare with the facts? The Labour Government were in power in this Commonwealth for three years, it provided for preference to unionists in its own employment, and let the honorable member bring forward the record of cases of starvation of nonunionists or anybody else during that period.
And now to another matter. For some reason even more obscure than that which moved him in other respects, the AttorneyGeneral introduced the subject of compulsory unionism. That is a sort of political “ Mrs. Harris “ ; there is no such person. I have been many years in the political movement, and I have never heard of it. It is not a plank of the Labour platform; I am not in favour of it; I do not think the honorable gentleman is in favour of it. But he says that the Labour party are not in favour of it because it would mean the appointment of a public trustee and the auditing of the accounts of unions. The innuendo covered by this statement is, I venture to say, a very shameful and cowardly one - is absolutely unprovoked by the circumstances. The facts do not warrant it. The honorable and learned gentleman is a lawyer and an able man, and he ought to know that the law, as it stands to-day, provides for the auditing of the accounts of every union. Under the law in this State no union can be registered unless it provides, in its rules for the auditing of its accounts, for the production of a balancesheet, and for the expenditure of its money for such purposes, and such purposes only, as the Act itself approves. Further, it provides that the balancesheet is to be available to the Registrar. I quote from the Victorian Statutes of 1890, from the Trades Union Act of that State. The Commonwealth Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-11, section 60, provides that where the rules of an organization do not provide ‘ for the audit of accounts, or do not disclose the true financial position of the organization, or do not provide reasonable facilities for the admis sion of new members, or impose unreasonable conditions upon the continuance of any person’s membership, or are in any way tyrannical or oppressive, such an organization’ cannot be registered. The honorable and learned gentleman cannot but have been aware of those facts when lie made that charge. If those remarks had been made by a stupid or ignorant man they could have been excused, but when made by an able and learned man he cannot seek shelter under the cloak of stupidity, or even of ignorance j he stands convicted of other motives. The honorable member makes this charge presumably . to convey the impression to the public that the funds of the trade unions of this country are used in ways -of which the unions and we should . be -ashamed, and that for this reason, therefore, we are opposed to the appointment of a public trustee and to an audit. There is not one tittle of evidence to justify that statement; on the other hand, the facts are conclusive against the honorable gentleman. But I will tell the honorable member this: What is wanted in this country, and wanted badly, is the appointment of a public “trustee and auditor to safeguard the interests of both the public and the. shareholders of private companies, to prevent “the issue of misleading balance-sheets, -and to prevent trusts and combines -cloaking up their Machiavellian ways, to compel private concerns of the kind to -answer legitimate questions, properly put, in the interests of the public, and to prohibit them flouting Commissions of Inquiry appointed to get at the truth. All these things are wanted, and wanted badly. Let the Attorney-General, before making these charges against the trade union officials of this country, first set his own house in order, and let him set in order the houses of those who retain him, and we shall then give greater consideration to his charges against industrial unionism .
Before I pass from the question of preference in Government employment, let me place on record the principles that governed the granting of preference under the Fisher Government. As reported in Hansard, volume lx., page 634, Mr. Deakin, in this House, on the 20th September, 1911, asked the present Leader of the Opposition whether -
The -right honorable member for Wide Bay replied -
Mr. Deakin also asked whether ;
In- reply, he was referred to the answer to the first question. He asked further whether -
The Ministry proposes to distinguish between unions when making appointments?
To this the reply of the present Leader of the Opposition was -
No Commonwealth law now provides a means of determining this question.
The next question put was whether -
Ministers intend to impose any new conditions upon the choice of permanent- employes under the Public Service Acts?
The answer to that question was “No.” The fifth of the series of questions put by Mr. Deakin was -
If preference is to be granted to unionists, other’ things being equal between the applicants, who is to determine, and on what en- deuce, their comparative qualifications?
The answer was -
The officer charged with the duty of selecting.
Mr. Deakin also inquired whether the determination mentioned would be final or subject to appeal, and was informed, in answer to that question, as well as to the further question whether -
Non-unionists appointed on the ground of greater personal qualifications or” capacity will be liable to be subsequently displaced in favour of unionists applying for appointment, that-
No alteration in the present method will’ be made in these respects.
This position was again laid down in the course of the no-confidence motion on the 26th September, 1911. We have here, then, principles laid down by the late Government, and those principles, I venture to say, must commend themselves to the common sense of the public. They are obviously a recognition of a principle generally accepted in Australia, in its application to Government as well as to private employment. The AttorneyGeneral quoted from a circular sent out by my colleague the exMinister of External Affairs in regard to employment in the Northern Territory. As my honorable friend intends to deal with the matter in detail, I shall say no more than that the circular applied to special circumstances, and that it in no way affected the selection of the fittest men to do the work. The principle acted upon by the Fisher Government in every case was that the fittest should be selected. Untrammelled power was given to the person selecting to choose the fittest to do the work required. Those circumstances exist even at the present time.
I come now to the question of preference to unionists in general. The AttorneyGeneral, at various times, has said a great deal about preference to unionists, and it is rather difficult to disentangle and to reconcile his somewhat conflicting utterances. At Camperdown, on 7th August last, as reported in the Argus, he said that -
The voluntary co-operation of workers who were engaged in the same class of work for the furtherance of their particular interests in connexion with that work was not only necessary, but inevitable.
This sounds rather well. But, speaking at Korumburra before the last election, he said -
By no law, or by no agency of the law, should any man be deprived of the means of earning his bread. . . . Unionism or cooperation could not exist under coercion. The first main principle attached to it was that it must be free from coercion, whether legal or otherwise.
I wish to impress that statement upon the House and the country, in order that it may be clearly understood to what the Attorney-General takes exception. His words are free from ambiguity : they cover the whole field of action in which unionism operates. The Attorney-General did not use them without careful thought. He is not a man to be carried off his feet by his own words. He is a hard-headed - I shall not say hardhearted - and logically-minded man. Any one who listened to his half-hysterical outburst in this House on Friday last, and saw him beat the air, as he spoke about liberty and the tyranny of unionism, must have come to the conclusion that there was something more in it than met the eye. Such heat in another man would pass unnoticed, but when my honorable and learned friend displays heat, it must be either that he simulates it, or is torn by a very volcano of emotion. I am inclined to think that he felt nothing; but that he realized thoroughly the advantage of displaying the righteous anger of a man appalled at such wickedness, such tyranny, such cruel and relentless oppression as was sanctioned and applauded by the men who met his eye when he looked over to this side of the House. My honorable friend, no doubt, fully realizes that such an exhibition is not without its use on the political platform. But I am going to deal with the matter on its merits, asking honorable members merely to remember the AttorneyGeneral’s’ statement that -
By no law, or by no agency of the law, should any man be deprived of the means of earning his bread.
Because, later, I propose to contrast it with his daily practice. Let mesay, first of all, in regard to .preference to unionists, that this is admittedly an age of combination - of combination amongst workmen and combination amongst capitalists. It is only the economic troglodyte who would deny that. If the right of combination be admitted, then clearly, since we have to consider the reasons for combination - we must allow that men combine to benefit themselves, and to promote their own interests - combinations of workmen may do what the law allows to further those interests. For what reason do workmen combine ? “It is in order that they may raise the price of their labour. And it is for that reason precisely that combinations of capital are to take place. Capitalists combine together to raise the price of commodities, and combine in order that they may corner the markets. It is perfectly obvious that the great obstacle with which the workman has to deal is the unattached worker - the man who, prating about liberty, sells himself to the capitalist, in his hour of need, at a lower price than his organized brethren demand for their labour.
The non-unionist is a menace, not merely to unionism, but to society. He is a menace infinitely greater than is any contagious disease, because the non-unionist spells low wages and bad conditions to the people at large, and all the wretchedness and misery that dog the heels of poverty. If in Australia to-day men are working under reasonable conditions, they owe it entirely to organized labour. The irony of the position is that the non-unionist reaps where he has not sown ; he gets that for which the unionist has worked and paid, and he then betrays him. He is at best a selfish foolish person ; at worst, he is a traitor, who, prating about his liberty and his rights, has no liberty or rights but those which have been given him by organized labour. It is difficult to deal with this question of preference to unionists as if it were an isolated phenomenon. It is not. It is a recognised principle throughout every human association. It is as rational, as proper, and as moral as is the principle of “ Australia for the Australians,” or the Monroe doctrine, or patriotism itself. It is the principle that runs through every organized living being - the corollary of combination for the protection of those who are threatened with danger. The non-unionist is a person who refuses to go into the fold and to protect himself and his kind. Naturally, those who see the light, and who realize the danger, regard him sometimes with aversion; always with contempt.
Honorable members opposite take up in regard to preference to unionists an attitude that it is a little difficult to understand. There is, for instance, the attitude of the Prime Minister, who says that he believes in preference to unionists as much as ever. He does not believe in political unionism, he tells us, but he does believe in unionism and preference to unionists enforced in the good old way. Then we have the Attorney-General, who does not believe in that kind of preference, or any other. As for the supporters of the Government, we are unable to separate them into two camps in this matter. But, at any rate, they do not believe in preference to unionists. If they do they manage to conceal their belief very well. Preference to unionists is, and has been, the law of this country for the last ten years. It is, and has been, recognised for many years as a settled principle. It is to-day accepted by eight out of every ten employers in the country. For all practical purposes preference to unionists runs throughout every industry. Every wellorganized industry to-day enjoys it. Even where an industry does not get it under the sanction of the law, it nevertheless enjoys preference. To denounce a principle universally adopted in this country, to say that it is vicious, malignant, is a foe to liberty, condemns men to starvation, is to indulge in mere fustian rhetoric. Unionism never had so much power as during the last few years, and this country was never so prosperous. This is the best possible answer to the foolish and utterly misleading statements made by honorable members opposite. Preference, as is well known, is practised by employers in every dealing of their daily lives. Trusts and combines are based on it, and could not live a day without it. The AttorneyGeneral knows this, for he has told this
House and the country so many times. Yet he has nothing but the mildest and most academic censure for preference exercised in such a fashion by such men. The preference by which a poor man manages to get a fair and reasonable wage to enable him to maintain his wife and family, he lashes with whips and scorpions.
And this brings me to a point of absorbing interest, for it shows the gulf between the Attorney-General’s words and actions. Something was said the other day about the Attorney-General himself belonging to a union, but the honorable gentleman repudiated that idea with scorn and emphasis, and declared that the men who made such a statement did not understand what they are talking about. I have no wish to dwell on the matter more than is necessary, but it is only fair, when we have a man like the Attorney-General saying that “ By no law or by no agency of the law should any man be deprived, of the means of earning his bread “ - that unionism condemns men to starve, and that we on this side are supporters of a system which is bowelless and tyrannical - it is only fair that he should come into court with clean hands. The honorable gentleman says, and I have no doubt he believes, that between his organization and the organization, say, of sewer miners or waterside workers, there is a gulf so wide and deep that even the imagination cannot bridge it. But I shall plainly show to the House and the country . that everything that a trade union is created to do, and everything that it does do - every weapon that it can use, and does use - may be paralleled, and is paralleled, by the organization to which the honorable gentleman belongs. Further, whereas the workers’ organization or union - call it what you will - struggles on in the shadow, without the aid of the law, getting all it can inch by inch against the determined opposition of all the forces whose representatives sit in high places - the feet of the honorable gentleman and his associates have been guided by the light, the grade has been easy, and everything has been pleasant, and remains so. First of all, the honorable gentleman belongs to a profession which is under the sanction of the law; no person can practise law unless he has been admitted as a barrister or solicitor; and a high ring fence is drawn between those admitted and mere outsiders. This, however, the AttorneyGeneral says is entirely different from unionism; and, of course, it is. It would be very much better for the unions if they could have the same protection. The Attorney-General, the other day, asked, by way of interjection, whether we would call a cab-driver a unionist because he had a licence to drive a cab? I should prefer to put it this way : If those who grant the cab-driver his licence are also cabmen, he is in a pretty “soft” place. We know that the Attorney-General belongs to a profession that practises under the licence of the law, and that those who grant the licence are lawyers, like himself. Show me another organization where that is so. It cannot be shown in the ranks of the workers. But the AttorneyGeneral is not satisfied with the ample protection afforded his profession by the law. He belongs to another organization, a sort of holy of holies. Further, the honorable and learned gentleman is not ashamed or afraid to defy the law, although he is an advocate of, and gets his living by, pleading causes under the law. The Attorney-General is a member of the Bar Association of the State’ of Victoria, or I assume that he is. This is an organization which has for its object the sweeping aside of the law of this State, which provides that persons admitted to practise law may, practise either as a solicitor or as a barrister. It has been formed so that, in spite of the law, only those persons shall practise as barristers who do not practise as solicitors. I do not know what the rules of the- association now are; it may be that they have advanced, as Rockefeller and those other artists in the business have advanced, to the stage when there are no rules at all, but only an “honorable understanding.” However, I wish to show the House, and the country what the rules were when this organization was first established. I say deliberately that, in the rules of the Bar Association of Victoria, there are to be found provisions which are not to be found in the rules of any trade organization in the country - rules that would not be allowed by the law of the land in any trade organization, because they are tyrannical and unfair in the extreme, in that they provide for the boycott, and the black list, and the condemnation of men without trial or even notification of their offence. These rules were drafted immediately after the State Act was passed to provide that any man who was admitted might practise as either barrister or solicitor ; and I should like to quote the following-
I shall, in a moment, show what schedule 1 is -
This is an open defiance of the law. I direct special attention to rules 15, 16, and 18, as follows: - la. No member of the association shall accept any brief or appear in any cause or matter or upon any trial, rule, motion, or petition, or give any opinion or advice, or draw any pleadings, or act in any matter professionally jointly with any person not as a member of the association.
IS. That no member of this association shall enter into partnership directly or indirectly, or share or divide income with any other member of the legal profession of Victoria.
The rules I have read provide that no man shall brief or take a brief from, or act with, or do anything at all professionally in association with! any practitioner other- than as provided in the rules. If a person does so, under the rules he may be expelled and treated exactly as if he were not a member. That is to say, such a man is to be denied the opportunity to ‘earn his bread. That is, to use the Attorney-General’s own words, he may be hounded- out and condemned to starvation. These rules, not satisfied with providing for and compelling resort, to the boycott - which, by the- way, the Attorney-General so glibly denounced-‘- resort also to a black list, and a secret black list at that. Rule 20 says -
It shall be the duty of the committee from time to time to prepare a list of persons and firms, members of the legal profession (other than members of this association) who in the opinion of such committee do or whose partner or partners do, practise or hold himself or themselves out as acting or practising otherwise than as solicitors have usually acted or practised previously to 1st December, 1891, and a copy of such lists shall from time to time, at the discretion of the committee, be forwarded to members of the association -
This list is not sent to the persons named ; they arc condemned unheard as utterly as men were when the Council of Venice cast its votes into the fatal urn - and the persons and firms specified in such lists shall be deemed, for thu purposes of Rule 16, to lie persons and firms who actually do or whose partner or partners do act or practise or hold himself or themselves out as acting or practising otherwise as solicitors have usually acted or practised previously to the said date.
The mere fact that their names are on the list condemns them. They have no opportunity to defend themselves. Such were the rules of an organization of which the Attorney-General was a member. It may be that- these are no longer the rules; but I say deliberately that they represent the principles on which the Association acts. And I say to the learned member for Indi that I will give £500 to a hospital if the honorable member will act with the Attorney-General, or if the Attorney-General will act with him, or go into Court and plead alongside him. But the honorable member for Indi knows very well that the Attorney-General would say, “ I would not act with the honorable gentleman in such circumstances.” The fact is that the honorable member for Indi is a pariah to the members of this Bar Association of Victoria. They will not eat with him ; they will not drink with him ; they will not allow him to’ work with them. Rule 25 provides -
If the Committee, on investigation, decides that a case of wilful breach or any of these rules by a member of this Association has been shown to it, it shall, at its discretion, either caution such member against persisting in or repeating such breach, or by a resolution, of not less than five members of the Committee, cause a special meeting of the Association to be convened for the purpose of considering such alleged breach; and if such meeting, by a majority of two-thirds of the members present, determine that such member has been guilty of such wilful breach, then the said member shall, at the discretion of the Com- mittee, either be reprimanded or have his name removed from the list of members of this Association, and in such latter case shall thereupon cease to be a member of this Association.
Then comes the crowning humiliation: Every member of this Association, of which this great protagonist of liberty, the Attorney-General, is one, must sign the following declaration -
I, , of , being a duly ad mitted member of the legal profession in Victoria, do hereby request that I may be admitted a member of the Bar Association of Victoria. I do hereby solemnly declare that it is my intention to, and that so long as I continue to be a member of the said Association I will, act and practise only as barristers have usually acted and practised in Victoria previously to 1st December, 1891. I do further promise that I will not wittingly depart from the principles and rules of this Association, and agree that my membership thereof is con>ditional upon my adherence to such principles and rules.
In other words, “ Each swears that he will practise the boycott, will refuse to his fellow-man the right the law has given him, will resort to the black-list ; in short, will hound him out of professional life if he happens to violate one of the rules of this book.” Whether these rules are in force now as rules, matters not; it is notorious that the principles and practices acted upon by the members of this Association are those set forth in these rules. And my honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General was a member of that Association. The honorable gentleman talks about freedom and condemning men to starve. When I was Attorney-General, I was not free to employ any but members of the Victorian Bar. If I had dared to do otherwise, no reputable solicitor would have briefed a man, no other barrister would have acted with the man I employed, and that man would have stood alone. Yet these gentlemen speak of the “ boycott “ and of the “ tyranny of trade unionism,” and say that a man “ should not be hounded off the face of the earth.” In the whole gamut of associations, industrial and political, can any one parallel for me rules such as these I have read to honorable members? Can any one- show me anything to beat them 1 I put down for comparison the rules of the Waterside Workers Union. Honorable members can look through them, and send them out broadcast, but they will find that the union is compelled to admit every sober and. competent man who applies to be admitted. In fourteen years, though 15,000 men have applied to be admitted to the Waterside Workers Union, only two have been ; rejected; and in the whole of tie organization of waterside workers, according to the evidence given the other day before the Arbitration Court, only six men have been rejected in the whole of Australia during the same period. The rules of the Victorian Bar Association serve to show to what length men will go, and how the system of preference to unionists runs like a steel rod through every section of society. These gentlemen of the Bar Association push the principle of preference to unionists to an extreme which I do not pretend to justify. Let the people judge between the preference of the labour organizations and this Bar Association.
As to the Bill before us, it is a sham; and honorable members on this side would not waste a moment in discussing it but that the measure is a vehicle for an attack, cowardly, unprovoked, and a declaration of the pretended desire of Ministers to get to the country. “ To get to the country!” Yes, when they have taken every precaution in order to prevent their going to the country. They talk about a double dissolution. I do not care whether it is a double or single dissolution; but, wrangle as they may, Ministers will in the end be like little children crying “ Bogy man, bogy man” confronted suddenly with the horrid apparition, materialized, of a single dissolution, which will take them by the throat and hurl them into the political limbo.
.- The statement of the honorable member for West Sydney, that only two men had been refused admission to the Sydney Waterside Workers Union in the last fourteen years is worthy of being met by the question - How many men wished to be proposed as members of that union, and could not be ? It is all very well to say by a juggling of words that these men were the only ones refused admission. Others were ‘never given the opportunity of being proposed, and they were not refused admission for the simple reason that no one would give them a chance by proposing them. There are two or three matters in connexion with the Bill with which I propose to deal. The honorable member for West Sydney talked of unions as though they would “ roar me as gently as any sucking dove,” and he endeavoured to persuade us that unionists would not interfere with nonunionists ; while the other day the Leader of the Opposition said that wiping out preference to unionists meant preference to non-unionists, and one would think, after hearing arguments advanced from honorable members on the Opposition side, that the unionists gave non-unionists a free hand to do as they pleased. I shall deal with that phase of the question before I sit down, but I shall approach it in my own way. The Bill is a measure, not only to abolish preference to unionists in Government employ, but also to abolish political patronage, which is the main thing at the back of it. It is not a Bill to reduce parliamentary political privilege, which is necessary to uphold the liberties of the people; but the administrative act the Bill proposes to wipe out was an insidious way of interfering with the political privileges of all sections. We have heard a great deal about the supposed analogy between the Lawyers Union, as honorable members are pleased to call it, and industrial unions. The honorable member for West Sydney said that he was going to parallel the two unions. The honorable member, who is a barrister, knows that two parallel lines cannot meet, and that the two unions can no more approximate than can two parallel lines. The honorable member might just as well say that because the wheels of a cart go round the wings of a carrier pigeon should do the same.
– They are two unions.
– They are two unions of quite a different character. There is no comparison between them. While the Lawyers Union may exist for its own protection, industrial unions are created solely for the protection of their members. The Lawyers Union, so called, is created to maintain a high standard” of work. Honorable members know that in this regard we have one of the great complaints against industrial unions of to-day. The officials of these unions go round teaching the baneful idea that the reduction of output means increase of work for those in the unions, whereas every honorable member and these officials themselves must know that work is like credit, that properly handled it increases. Therefore, the sooner this wrong idea that the reduction of output is going to improve the position of the unionists is abolished the better it will be for the unions. But that is not the principal point that I set out to make. My point is that these unions, as far as they can, debar men from earning an honest living. According to the honorable member for West Sydney they do nothing of the kind, but there are innumerable examples within our own time in Australia, and I shall give one or two, since honorable members, by their interjections, ask for1 them.
– Before you get to that point, is not the Barristers Association recruited from members of the Political Labour party, as well as from members on this side of the House? Does it not include the honorable member for Bendigo as well as the Attorney-General ?
– It includes prominent members on both sides. In no way does it attempt to dominate their political opinions. Members of the Association have a free hand to do entirely as they please, and it is just as much a union of the Labour party as it is a union of the Liberal party. But my point is that lawyers and barristers are free, if they please, to improve their own industrial positions, provided they do not interfere with outsiders, or infringe on the liberties of the people.
– I think we should have a quorum to hear this extraordinary statement. [Quorum formed.]
– If honorable members opposite wish to bring their industrial unions on to the same lines as those of the Lawyers Union, they would need to provide that each applicant, to prove his fitness to enter a Wharf Labourers Union, must first carry 4 cwt. for 40 yards halfadozen times a day, or that every applicant for the position of fencer must sink eighty post holes a day in fair sinking ground before being permitted to take on a job as fencer, or that every shearer must be able to shear 150 sheep satisfactorily before being able to obtain a stand in a shed. Then there would be some grounds for comparing unions with the Lawyers Union, as honorable members call it. Until they do so there can be absolutely no comparison. Honorable members might just as well compare a tip-cart with a carrier pigeon. There is no ground for comparison until men are brought up to a certain stan- dard. I said just before the bells were rung for a quorum that the unions were not by any means as mild-mannered as the honorable member for West Sydney would have us believe, and we do not need to go far from Melbourne to prove this. A little while ago, at Geelong, a man brought in some chaff to be shipped to Sydney, but it was found that this man had been working with non-unionists, and the whole of the unionists in Geelong black-marked that chaff, and would not allow it to be shipped. But that occurrence was a mild one compared with the recent Sydney meat strike, when for a time that city was almost completely deprived of meat. That trouble arose because the butchers at Glebe Island discovered that there was a man working with them, who, although a unionist, had four years earlier worked with nonunionists. Immediately they stopped work, and practically put an end to the meat supply of the city. There was never a more vindictive strike. Yet honorable members opposite say that it is necessary to give unionists preference. After taking a man’s money for four years, and levying on him in various ways, the Sydney butchers threw the meat trade of the city into disorder to take vengeance on him. The officials of the union endeavoured to stop the strike, but the men would not obey them. Honorable members opposite are like small boys on the top of a moun-& tain, who start rolling down rocks; they do not know where the rocks will stop. Honorable members opposite do not know what damage may be done before the rocks that they have started in connexion with unionism come to a standstill. There is not a man on this side who does not recognise that unionism has done much for the good of the workers, but because standing -timber protects the stock in our paddocks from the rigours of inclement weather, we do not let vegetation spread until the whole ground is overgrown with scrub, and unfit to support anything but vermin. We, on this side, believe in unionism when properly controlled, but we say that everything can be overdone, and that unionism is now in a fair way to be overdone. In New Zealand during the recent big strike a union secretary said that 10,000 or 15,000 armed men could be provided to “ down “ the people. Again, in Sydney, when the meat strike had arisen in the way which I have described, the men, after bringing upon the community discomfort and almost starvation, to wreak their vengeance on one of their number, came forward with their usual hypocrisy, and said, “ We will arm 5,000 men to compel the owners to slaughter their stock.”
– This was all done under a Labour Government!
– Yes. The unionists are not nearly so mild in manner as the members of the Labour party would have us believe. I daresay many honorable members opposite realize that the unions are getting beyond the control of their leaders. When the New Zealand strike occurred, the union secretary sent a message to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, asking him to prevent the handling of cargo from New Zealand which had been loaded there by nonunionists, and threatening this country with penalties if it did not obey the decisions of the union leaders of the Dominion. Still more recently the miners of Western Australia, taking up the cause of the miners of South Africa, tried to threaten the Prime Minister into sending to the Old Country a statement to the effect that he did not agree with the action of the South African Government in deporting the men. It is clear that the union leaders are trying to dominate the people, and it is time that we warned the people of the danger that is threatening them. It does not matter where privilege comes from, or who benefits by it, the liberties of the people always suffer when it is permitted. Whether the privileged person is an aristocrat or a sundowner, the giving of political privilege to any one, or any section of the community, will begin to wreck the Empire of which we have all good reason to be proud. The honorable member for Darling told us the other day that we ought not to be proud of Great Britain or of our connexion with that country, because at one time little children were treated cruelly there. No man on this side, I make bold to say, even as much as men on the other side, desires to see little children ill-treated, but the fact that there was ill-treatment of children 100 years ago is not relevant to our present discussion. It need only be said that 100 years ago Great Britain was ahead, as she is to-day, of all the other nations of the world in the humanity of her laws. The liberty en joyed by the people of Australia is the widest in the world, but it is our duty to show the people that that liberty is being endangered. The history of every country furnishes undeniable proof that privileges given to any section of the community in opposition to the general welfare are a source of the greatest national danger. The train which. carries a great part of the people of this country is running on the wrong set of rails, and this Bill is the danger signal, warning it to stop. We hold out the Bill, not so much for what it may achieve in itself, but to warn the community of a danger that threatens them. The Bill is to do away with political patronage introduced into this country by a Yankee, whose methods, without saying anything detrimental to him, are naturally those of the politics of America, which we all wish to eschew. His colleagues were not prepared at the time to stand up boldly behind him and say, “ We believe in what is being done.” The honorable member for Darwin had the courage of his convictions, as I think he always has, and was clever enough to see, and to take, his opportunity. He said, “ I am in favour of preference to unionists, and I am going to give effect to it absolutely, so far as I have the power.” The leader of his party hesitated, being afraid to go forward, and that is the position of the party to-day. Its members do not know whether to advance or retreat. We, on this side, however, know exactly what our course is to be. The honorable member for Wide Bay, in speaking to the Bill the other day, was as unhappy as he was unconvincing. It is evident to any one possessing any political insight that the members of the Labour party are not solid on this question, and it was hard luck for the leader of the militant section of the party that he happened to be absent when the crisis came. I have no doubt he will suffer for that. What occurred emphasized, if that were necessary, the division in the ranks of the party opposite. The Liberal party, however, is absolutely solid on this question. We believe that a great and vital principle is at stake. The Bill may, or may not, be what it has been called by honorable members opposite, the shadow of a sham, but it is a matter of more interest to them than many of them would like to admit. The real matter for concern is not what is going to happen to us, but what is going to happen to the people.
We on this side have declared that we are ready to go before our masters - the electors - at any moment, to tell them that a great and grave danger is threatening their liberties, and to ask them to give us power to protect them.
.- I understand that the Bill has been introduced with a two-fold object; that it serves a double purpose : it is to prevent preference being given to unionists in Government employment, and to bring about, if possible, a difference between this House and the Senate which shall result in a double dissolution. Possibly’ the second object is, in the minds of Ministers and of their supporters, the paramount one. I do not hesitate to declare that, in my opinion, so far as both objects are concerned, the Bill is a sham, a fraud, and a delusion.
– The honorable member is not in order in saying that.
– If you consider, sir, that I should not use those words, I withdraw them. I do not think that the Bill will accomplish either of the two purposes for which it has been introduced. If it is passed by this House and by the Senate, it will not, of course, bring about a double dissolution, but how will it then affect any individual in the Commonwealth? So far as this Government is concerned, there is no need for it, because Ministers can, by an executive act, do what it says should be done. If the present Ministers were succeeded by others with the same political views, the Bill would be unnecessary.
– But suppose a Labour Government came into office ?
– Then the measure would not prevent any Minister from doing all that was done before.
– Does the honorable member believe in Ministers breaking the laws of the country?
– Does any one suppose that if the Bill became law, and the AttorneyGeneral had to appoint a barrister, he would engage what is called an amalgam, or a scab lawyer? He would engage only a full-blown barrister, and the measure would not prevent him from doing anything else, because he could say that, in his opinion, the man appointed was the man best fitted for the position. There are barristers and barristers. Both the Attorney-General and the Minister of
External Affairs are barristers, and the former told us the other day that he had appeared in cases with his colleague. I ask whether he has ever appeared, or would appear, with the Minister of External Affairs, except in constitutional cases, before the High Court? I believe that there is an agreement that they shall work side by side with scab lawyers in that Court; but, except in that Court, the Attorney-General is not prepared to work with even his colleague, Mr. Glynn. A barrister in the position of the Minister of External Affairs has, towards a barrister in the position of the Attorney-General, just the same relationship as a member of Packer’s union has towards a member of the Australian Workers Union. We have heard a good deal from the AttorneyGeneral and other members about the iniquity of unionism, and, as has been pointed out, in Victoria, before a person can become a member of the Lawyers Union, he has not only to pass a very stiff examination, which I think is very good, and to which I have no objection, but, in addition, he has to pay £40 before he can appear as a barrister. Some time ago I made reference to this fact, and the honorable member for Flinders, who was then sitting in Opposition, said that the £40 was to go towards keeping up a library. I would like to ask the honorable member what is the difference between a barrister having to pay £40 towards the maintenance of a legal library before he can appear in a case, and a man having to pay something to a union to meet the expenses of the executive and the salary of the secretary? I remember that when the unionists at Broken Hill were most powerful, and unionism was compulsory, no one being allowed to work unless he was a unionist, the rules of the association allowed a non-unionist to go underground and work until he received his first pay, in order that he might pay his entrance fee into the organization.
– Is that not coercion of the worst kind?
– Where is the difference between that rule and a man having to pay £40 to the Barristers Union before he can appear in a single case? There might be a man as brilliant as even the honorable member for Wannon, one able to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before ; he has won scholarships, has passed all his examinations, and is called to the Bar, but he must plank down that £40 before he can appear in Court.
– Suppose you prove up to the hilt what you wish to prove about the Lawyers Union, are you not indicting certain members of your own party?
– I am dealing with the honorable member who introduced the Bill. I have no more objection to a union of lawyers than I have to a union of shearers or miners, but the AttorneyGeneral is a member of the Lawyers Union. I am not allowed by Mr. Speaker to call the Bill a sham and a fraud, but, even allowing that it is all that is claimed for it by the Attorney-General, I venture to say that it ought not to pass this House, because trade unionism in itself 13 a good thing, and, in order that trade unionism may have full and proper effect, preference should be given to unionists. I am here to plead on behalf of the unions, and I know of no more powerful reasons in support of unionism and preference to unionists than those which have been given by the Prime Minister. I will deal with those reasons in detail. First of all, the Prime Minister said that the unionist refused to work beside the non-unionist because he objected to another mau reaping where he had not sown. The fact cannot be controverted that unionism has bettered the conditions of the people, and brought about an increase in wages, and, consequently, it is unfair that those who have brought about those better conditions and higher wages should be called upon to work side by side with those who reap the full benefit of the bettered conditions without having done anything towards bringing about that betterment. No one can question that in England wages are much better in districts where unionism is strong than in districts where it is weak.
– What about Canada?
– Are there no unions in Canada?
– Not as many as there are here.
– Some of us know something about England; some of us, indeed, were born there. I came from Cornwall, where a great deal of mining is done, and I believe the Cornish miner is as good as any other, but his wages were the lowest of any miner in England, because there were no organizations in Cornwall. In England the farm labourer is paid a lower wage than practically any other worker. Why is he the lowest-paid man ? It is not simply because of the price of commodities. There have been some very interesting articles written lately by a great political economist in England, a gentleman who does not belong to the Labour party.
– He knows nothing about rural conditions.
– Of course, Mr. L. Chiozza Money does not know as much as the honorable member for Hume. He has not the honorable member’s brain and knowledge.
– He has not the practical experience.
– Practical experience is not required for the tabulation of figures. That gentleman points out that the agricultural labourer in Oxfordshire gets 16s. per week, and in Durham 22s. per week. The farmer in Oxfordshire is paid for his wheat, beef, poultry, eggs, and other produce exactly the same as the farmer in Durham. Yet the farmer in Durham is paying the agricultural labourer 6s. per week more than the man in Oxfordshire. Mr. L. Chiozza Money attributes that to the fact that the Durham farmers are nearer the coalfields, and the miners are well organized, and unless a farmer is prepared to pay his employes a certain wage, they will leave the farm and go to the coalfields to work. Consequently, though the price of commodities has to be taken into consideration when dealing with wages, that factor is not everything. This is a case where the prices of commodities are the same, and yet the wages paid for the same class of labour under the same conditions are considerably higher in one county than in another.
– All good arguments for unionism.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say that those facts are in favour of unionism, but how are we to have unionism without preference? The same writer goes on to say -
Our inquiries in connexion with sweated trades have shown that similar extraordinary variations obtain in other industries which are as unorganized as agriculture.
So that the wages which the worker gets depend a great deal on whether he is connected with an organization or not. The Times is a very prominent paper in England, and I suppose some of the people who write for that journal know something about the rural conditions in the Old Country. Possibly they do not know as much as the honorable member for Hume, but it is likely that sometimes they know something about the matter they are writing on.
– A. writer may not have practical experience.
– It is generally understood that a mau must have some amount of ability and knowledge before he is granted space in that great paper. An article appeared in the Times, in which complaint was made about the wages paid to the agricultural labourer, and the writer went on to say that the farmers stated that they were paying as high a wage as the farm labourer was worth. The reply to that contention was that as long as the farmers continued to pay that wage, so long would they continue to have that type of man, and only when they were prepared to pay a higher wage would they get a higher type of mau. I think that argument is quite correct. If that be so, then unionism does good not only for the worker, but also for the farmer and for the employer, because if it brings about better wages and working conditions, those improved conditions attract a better type of man, out of whom the employer gets more value. The honorable member for Wannon has been good enough to say that these facts are an argument in favour of unionism, but not in favour of preference to unionists. I will quote another reason in favour of preference to unionists, again a reason given by the Prime Minister, namely, that unionists are victimized. The Prime Minister instanced a very good case in Lithgow, his constituency at that time, of men having been dismissed from their employment because they had been trying to improve the conditions of the men who were working in the mines. A recent ca.se at Ballarat was reported in the press where an employer was summoned before the Court for dismissing men, and the evidence proved that those men had been dismissed because they were members of a union.
– There were three convictions in the Carlton Court the other day. and there was not a word in the papers about them.
– There was the case of two men who had come from England and obtained employment in this State.
The employer was so satisfied with their work that he increased their wages. When the organizer of the union came along, they offered to join the union, and they asked the squatter to give to the organizing secretary in their behalf the necessary money. The result was that those men were dismissed from their employment for having joined the union. That instance tends to prove that there is such a thing as victimization. Those men were clearly victimized because they were unionists. Their salaries had been increased, and the squatter was well satisfied with them until he found that they had dared to join a union, and then they were dismissed.
– A very rare case.
– We have heard the honorable member for Robertson speak of the iniquity of some trade unionists. Here Ave are able to point to a case where men have been deliberately victimized. The squatter was fined - probably £2 or £3 - but what difference did that make to him?
– He was fined £5.
– But he was not compelled to employ the man. When reading Trevelyan’s Life of John Bright, which was published quite recently, I came across a statement which occasioned me some little surprise and a good deal of pleasure. I suppose that even the Attorney-General will admit that John Bright was one of the great figures in English politics. He was a great Liberal,, and one of the founders, if not the actual founder, of the Manchester School, which stood out for individualism and absolute freedom. Yet John Bright, according to the writer I have named, was an advocate of State interference for the agricultural labourers and others engaged in trades that were not organized. The pay of these people was so small that even John Bright was prepared to advocate State interference on their behalf. It seems to me that we must have either State interference or unionism. The extreme wing of the Socialist party might say that they preferred State interference rather than unionism, but we must undoubtedly have either the one or the other. Another reason in support of preference to trade unionists is that union officials, as the honorable member for Robertson admitted, help very much to bring about the peaceful settlement of industrial troubles. It often happens that they are out-voted,. or that the majority of the members of a union are opposed to the advice tendered by their officials, and in such circumstances, as loyal officers, they must carry out the wishes of their organization. But the fact cannot be gainsaid that union officials help to remove many grievances, assist in the settlement of many difficulties, and have been of great assistance to the body politic generally.
– Generally speaking, their efforts are all the time for peace.
– Quite sp. They realize the responsibilities of their position. I must confess to a certain amount of astonishment, if not bewilderment, at the failure of the Prime Minister to take charge of this Bill. We all know that it is competent for the Leader of a Government to hand over a Bill to any of his colleagues. It is customary, for instance, for a Bill bristling with legal technicalities to be placed under the control of the Attorney-General, especially when the Prime Minister is not a member of the legal profession. But we have before us now a Bill that presents no legal technicalities. It is so simple that a layman could pilot it through the House as weL as could any lawyer. One wonders, therefore, why the Prime Minister is not in charge of it; more especially as he is Minister of Home Affairs. If the Bill becomes law, and does what we are told it will do, it will affect the Department of Home Affairs more closely than any other Department of the Public Service. It will not affect the Attorney-General’s Department. There are not many casuals employed there. I suppose that an occasional typist and those who are called in to sweep out the offices represent the whole of the casual labour employed in the Attorney-General’s Department. That being so, it is strange that the Attorney-General should be in charge of this Bill. One reason why the Prime Minister himself should take charge of it is that there is no one on the Government side of the House more competent than he is to deal with the question of unionists and non-unionists. Scarcely any honorable member on this side has had a wider and fuller experience of unionism and non-unionism than has the honorable gentleman. That, in itself, is a good reason why he should be in charge of the Bill. There is still another reason. The Bill is introduced, apparently, not only to prohibit preference to unionists in Government employment, but to engineer a difficulty between the two Houses. It raises a big constitutional question, and is, therefore, of more importance than an ordinary measure. When the British House of Commons entered into its great conflict with the House of Lords, the Prime Minister, notwithstanding the tremendous responsibilities attaching to his office, took charge of the Parliament Bill, which dealt with the matter. He did not hand over the Bill to his AttorneyGeneral, although he was one of the most brilliant occupants of the office that the House of Commons had ever known. Honorable members-, whether they believe in, or are opposed to, Home Rule - whether they believe Ulster is right or Ulster is wrong - must admire the splendid stand taken up by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, when, at a time of crisis, he took upon his own shoulders the duties of Minister of War. We can well believe that, as he left the House after announcing that he had taken over the portfolio of Minister of War, which meant that he would have to seek re-election, he received an ovation the like of which had never fallen to the lot of a Prime Minister in the House of Commons. In connexion with this Bill, we are face to face with a great constitutional question, and may find ourselves to-morrow in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Who, then, is better entitled to take charge of the Bill than is the Prime Minister himself ? Instead of doing so, however, he gets behind the AttorneyGeneral, and shelters himself, I suppose, behind the skirts of the women of the National League. It seems to me that, out of very shamefacedness, the Prime Minister was not prepared to introduce this Bill; and that, for the same reason, he has not been prepared to make a second-reading speech upon it. He has not yet spoken in favour of it. I believe that I am right in saying that, even last session, the Prime Minister did not speak in favour of it. There must be a reason for this; and the reason is, I think, that he has a past, and a very interesting one. I am referring, of course, to the honorable gentleman’s political career. However much we may differ, I think that his private career is beyond reproach; but, as a Minister, he has no character. He was at one time a union secretary, and very shamefacedness, it appears to me, prevents his taking charge of this Bill. One cannot help feeling that, deep down in his heart, he is opposed to it. If it is not so, why have we not heard him speak in favour of it? I think that the Prime Minister is opposed to the Bill, that he is not a free man, that he is but the hireling of the party with which he is associated, and is not its real leader. In the career of the Prime Minister we find an example of patience and unscrupulousness obtaining its reward. The reactionary forces of Australia have hired the honorable gentleman, and are paying him his price. The trading trimmer has succeeded in becoming recognised, for the time being, as a Conservative, and will be recognised as such just as long as it suits him. There is still another reason why the Prime Minister is not prepared to pilot this Bill through the House. Despised by the party he has left, he is, apparently, distrusted by the party with which he is now associated, as he is despised and distrusted by the body politic. Will this Bill do what it purports to do, seeing that, if work is undertaken by a contractor, there is nothing in it to prevent him giving preference to unionists? The Attorney-General has, in this connexion, accused the Labour party of “ Tammany-Hall tactics,” which I understand to mean that money is paid to people for votes in municipal or legislative affairs, or for services rendered and likely to be rendered in the future. Is the Attorney-General the man in this House who should accuse anybody of “ Tammany-Hall tactics “ ? We have all read of William Pitt - the great son of a great statesman - who was notoriously an honest man in a venial age. At a time when he was in financial difficulties, the merchants of London twice offered him £100,000 with which to pay his debts; but he refused on both occasions, saying, “ I am in politics, and intend to remain in politics; in years to come I may be asked by the merchants of London to do, on their behalf, something that is not for the welfare of the country, and if I accepted this gift, the fact of my acceptance might hamper me in my duty.” But we have an ex-Prime Minister of Victoria taking £2,000 from the employers of Australia.
– I cannot connect that with the question before the Chair.
– The AttorneyGeneral has accused the Labour party of “ Tammany-Hall tactics.”
– I understood the honorable member for Barrier to be making a reference to some member of the Victorian Parliament, and I do not think that that can be identified with the motion.
– I have no desire to go against your ruling, but I submit that we have a right to reply to the base, dirty, mean insinuation of the Attorney-Gene- ral.
– The honorable member is in order in replying to the Attorney-General, when he does so in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Then I say that a Minister of the Crown - to be on safe ground, Ishall not refer to any particular person - who does something for which he accepts £2,000 or any sum, and yet remains in public life, should be the last in this House to refer to “ TammanyHallta ctics” on the part of the Labour party or any other party.
– Does the honorable member infer that the Attorney-General received this money for services rendered or likely to be rendered?
– The honorable member may take it as he pleases - he may regard it as paid on philanthropic grounds. However, what I was asking was whether this Bill, even if it be passed by both Houses, will do what it purports to do? To-day I came across an extract from Macaulay’s essay on parliamentary reform, in which he mentions a Bill that was passed by the House of Commons in 1819, to prevent seditious and blasphemous publications. Macaulay asks, in the course of the essay, how often that law was put into force, and the reply is that it was not put into force once. I may here say that, unlike the Bill before us, the Act passed by the House of Commons contained a penalty clause, and a person, on a second conviction, could be banished, and, in case of his returning, transported. Macaulay points out that under that Act there was not a single prosecution, although in 1820 there were more seditious and blasphemous articles written than in any previous twelve months. The further question is discussed in the essay, why Ministers did not put their new law into force, and the reason given is that the Government durst not, and could not, put it into force - that they obtained, the Bill with ease, for they had to deal with a subservient Parliament, but that in executing it they would have to deal with a refractory people. Therefore, I ask whether, even if the Bill before us he passed, the Government will be able to put it into force? Are the Government now carrying out the principle of no-preference? They have issued an executive minute that there shall be no preference, and only merit and ability considered; but I ask, how many non-unionists are employed on the transcontinental railway? Is it because unionists are always the best men that only unionists are employed on that work? If so, it seems to me a very strong argument in favour of trade unionism. If one of Packer’s union were sent on to the transcontinental line, how long would the Government be able to get along with the work? Packer’s union, above all, is that which the Liberal party delight to honour; so much so that the Prime Minister announced the policy of Australia before its members : and yet, apparently, there is not a member of that union fit to work on our great railway. I should now like to- read some remarks that were made in this House by the present Prime Minister at the time of the great railway strike in Victoria, when the present Attorney-General was Premier of the State, and, according to all accounts, settled that dispute. The Prime Minister on that occasion said -
A dispute has recently been settled in Victoria, and a great triumph has been achieved, but the results of the trouble remain. The dispute has not been settled in the true sense of the term, and we may bc sure that the men who have been compelled to submit to the impositions of the Victorian Government will seek the earliest opportunity to secure a redress of their grievances. I speak not as one taking sides in that dispute. I am simply relating a fact which has had abundant confirmation. Wherever a strike has been resorted to, and peace has been secured by methods such as were recently adopted in Victoria, it has led only to the breaking out of the trouble .again as soon as one side or the other has been in a position to seek a remedy for its grievances.
I do not think, however, that the AttorneyGeneral need worry very much because of these sentiments, seeing that in the Prime Minister he has a most complacent colleague, who can adjust his convictions to suit his ambitions. The Prime Minister, who has been the leader of the Labour party, as well as the leader of the Conservative forces in Australia, must possess, not only a great deal of ability, but also a great deal of adaptability. The Labour party has been accused of jobbery in connexion with the Northern Territory; and the AttorneyGeneral quoted some letter which I issued, as Minister of External Affairs, to the effect that a man had to be a unionist before he could get a position. I say here now that, under the same conditions, and, if I were in the same position to-morrow, I should do exactly the same thing; and I shall tell honorable members why? We called for some eight or ten men for the Northern Territory, and there were 400 applications. I brought Mr. Francis from the Northern Territory, where he was in charge of the railways, and left him an absolutely free hand in selecting the men. He selected eight, and I indorsed his recommendation; but it was discovered, when they arrived in Darwin, that not one was a member of a trade union. There was trouble at once. The other persons who were working in the Northern Territory refused to work with the non-unionists. However, .the men sent up joined the union. It seems rather strange that out of 400 applications not one of those chosen happened to be a unionist; but we will let that matter pass. Later on, when we required eight men for a survey camp, we called for applications, and the Chief Surveyor having come down from the Territory, I allowed him an absolutely free hand to pick the men, though I did ask him specially to make inquiries about two of the applicants whom I knew. They were the only men I knew, but he felt justified in turning them down, and I never questioned his action.
– Were they unionists?’
– Yes, but I do not say they were turned down on that account. There were plenty of other unioniststurned down. The Chief Surveyor afterwards came to me and told me that he had gone through the list, and that, in his opinion, certain men were the best. Then he said, “ I suppose you would likeme to see whether they are unionists or not,” and I said, “ Yes.” What was the good of sending men to the NorthernTerritory in order to have difficulty immediately they arrived? This gentleman,. who was in charge of the survey camp, knew very well that if the men appointed were not unionists there would be trouble immediately they arrived. I told him that if the men were unionists he could appoint them, and, so far as I know, they all happened to be unionists, and were appointed. I would do exactly the same to-day under the same circumstances, and I would like to ask whether any Minister of External Affairs would act differently if he wished to do anything in the Territory. Of course, if the policy of the present Government in regard to the Northern Territory is to do nothing, it matters not whether they send unionists or non-unionists there; but if they wish to pursue a vigorous policy of development, they will require the assistance of the workers of Australia, and they can only get that full and complete assistance from the unionists. If the Minister of External Affairs wished to send a nurse to the hospital at Darwin, would he send other than a member of the Nurses Union ? The honorable member for Robertson spoke about what the shearers have done. What did the doctors of Adelaide do ? Because a nurse had been appointed over n nurse who they thought should get the position, they walked out of the Adelaide Hospital on strike, and the patients in that institution might have died so far as they were concerned. Nurses are absolutely justified in belonging to a union. Their union has done a great deal for them, and if a nurse has spent years and years in hospitals in order to gain her diplomas, she should get a living wage for the work she does and the trouble she has taken. I know that the Minister of External Affairs would not send a nurse to the Darwin Hospital unless she were a member of the Nurses Union. I have pointed out some reasons for saying that it will be utterly futile for the Government to do anything under this measure, even if the Bill be carried; but there is another reason for the introduction of the Bill. The measure is intended to engineer a difficulty between the two Houses, and, if possible, bring about a double dissolution. Some two or three weeks ago, when dealing with this particular matter, I said that we must take the Constitution as it stands, and not necessarily the interpretation we place upon it, and that we must not read into it the ideas in the minds of those who framed it. The Attorney-General agreed with me. He was good enough to say that this was very often overlooked. Though so great a jurist as Judge Isaacs takes a different view, and says that that which the Constitution was . obviously intended to do must be read into it, I am prepared to take it literally. I agree with the Attorney-General that we cannot read into the Constitution anything more than is in it in black and white. That being the case, the Governor-General can read into the Constitution only what is there, and not something enveloping it that the Government bring under his particular notice. It is said that if this Bill is lost in the Senate a double dissolution is to be asked for, not so much upon this Bill as upon something which the Government have up their sleeve; but if the Government ask for a double dissolution on those lines, then, to use the words of the honorable member for Bendigo, Ministers will be attempting a fraud on the Constitution. They will be attempting to prostitute for political and party purposes the highest position in the land. I do not know that this would bother the Prime Minister very much. No doubt he would be prepared to say, “ Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I understand that he is quite prepared with equal readiness to advocate a republic or an empire, as the occasion requires. Whether this Bill is lost or passed makes very little difference to me. If it becomes law it will not interfere with my rest, for under it nothing can be done. If it is thrown out by the Senate it will not disturb “the even tenor of my life, for I feel quite assured that the Government, in forging this Bill, in order to bring about a double dissolution, are minting coins that can have no currency.
– I take exception to certain remarks of the honorable member for Barrier concerning the Prime Minister, not very complimentary to him, in his absence from the chamber. The honorable member said that it was the place of the Prime Minister to take charge of this Bill, and in attempting to draw a parallel, he took us to England and other parts, and spoke of the action of the present Prime Minister of Great Britain in regard to the Home Rule Bill and other extraneous matters, until in the end honorable members could not realize what his argument was. In 1910, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was brought down to this
House, not by the then Prime Minister, but by the then Attorney-General, the honorable member for West Sydney.
– I said that a Bill containing a lot of legal technicalities should be introduced by the Attorney-General.
– Seeing that it was right for the Attorney-General of the honorable member’s Ministry to introduce the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, surely it is quite proper for our Bill to be introduced by the Attorney-General of the present Ministry. The honorable member for Barrier said that it was quite impossible for the Government to carry on the transcontinental railway construction without preference to unionists, that all the men employed on the work were unionists, and that they received preference; also that in order to carry on this great national work the Commonwealth was dependent on the efforts of unionists. The honorable member could not have cited a stronger case for the Bill. We have four or five hundred men, who could work for 12s. 6d. a day, under the very best conditions that Australia can offer to men doing this work, and yet they are on strike. It is really time that unionists were taught their business; time that there was an open door to competitors from outside unions, and time that giving preference to unionists was knocked on the head. These 400 or 500 men are demanding 13s. 6d. a day. I defy any honorable member to point to unskilled labour on’ railway construction that is receiving better pay than that which the Government offer at Kalgoorlie. When travelling in New South Wales the other day, I was in a carriage with a number of fettlers and railway men, and they informed me that they were receiving only 8s. a day. In Western Australia, in a similar climate, men employed on the same class of work get 10s. a day, yet, though the men on the construction work of ‘the transcontinental railway are offered 12s. 6d. a day, and have every facility for having their wives and families where they are working, and an unlimited supply of water, and their rations taken to them, and every possible privilege, yet they are on strike. They were receiving the biggest wage men in that class of work could receive. If the honorable member for Barrier has given us one reason why we should do away with preference to unionists, it is that. When men belonging to unions refuse to work, it is time to open the doors to those who are not in unions. The honorable member compared the condition of the farm labourers here with those of the farm labourers in the Old Country, and said how much better off the former are. But the members of his party are continually arguing that the conditions of the Australian farm labourers are anything but right; and they contend that the rural workers ought to be able to bring disputes into the Arbitration Court. Let me make a comparison between the conditions of workers in Australia and those of workers in Canada. In every case the advantage is with the latter. In Canada bricklayers receive 110s. a week, and in Sydney 78s.; masons, 110s., as against 66s.; plasterers, 9.1s. 8d., as against 66s.; painters, 75s., as against 64s.; plumbers, 75s., as against 72s.; and carpenters, 82s., as against 72s. In Canada there is no Labour party, no Wages Boards, no Arbitration Court, and a Conservative Government is in power.
– I have here a full account of the Canadian Arbitration Court.
– Is there no winter in Canada?
– It is not winter all the year there. My point is that, under a Conservative Government in Canada, labour is better off than it is under a Labour Administration in Australia, notwithstanding all our arbitration laws, which did not prevent 250 strikes from occurring during the three years that the Fisher Administration was in power. In August last the honorable member for Grey gave us some account of his early experiences in South Australia and elsewhere, stating that he had undertaken shearing for 10s. a 100 sheep and his food, and had worked as a farm labourer for 10s. a week and his food. The account that I refer to is to be found in the Hansard record of our debates of 20th August last. To-day shearers receive 24s. per 100 without their food; but years ago the quality of the sheep was poor, the fleeces averaging only 4 lb. or 5 lb., men could then easily shear 1001 sheep a day, and now, with fleeces aver- aging 8 lb. or 9 lb., they do not shear more than 80 sheep a day. Thus a shearer to-day gets in wages 19s., from which must be deducted 3s. for the cost of living, making his net wages 16s. a day, or 6s. a day more than shearers used to receive years ago, an increase of about 60 per cent. Honorable members opposite, no doubt, claim that this increase is due to the splendid organization of the Australian Workers Union.
– There is no doubt about it.
– Farm labourers, who at one time were paid 10s. a week with their food now get 30s. a week with their food, and in many cases are paid more, so that their wages have increased 300 per cent.
-. - In the year in which I worked for Chirnside, I got 6s. a day for working for fanners in the Colac district.
– At harvesting time the honorable member would get those wages. Although our friends opposite say that the rural workers should be under the Arbitration Court, the fact remains that, whereas the shearers, whose organization is the biggest in Australia, have increased their wages by only something like 60 per cent. , the farm labourers, without organization, have secured an increase of 300 per cent. The honorable member for Barrier, repeating what was said by the honorable member for West Sydney, spoke of the Bill as the shadow of a sham, because he said the Liberals would everywhere enter into contracts for the carrying out of public works, and thus there would be no Government employes on those works. We hope, of course, that the Labour party will not again, hold the reins of office, but, in the ordinary course of affairs, they may be expected at some future date to do so. Will not they at once re-affirm the principle of preference to unionists, and revert to the daylabour system, providing Government employment for some 12,000 men ? In making appointments is preference to be shown to unionists in every case? The honorable member for Barrier finds fault with the Attorney-General for speaking of the Tammany methods of the Labour party, but I think that the following let ter supports what the Attorney-General said : -
- Department of External Affairs, 2nd April, 1913.
I have the honour to inform you that approval has been given for your appointment as field hand in connexion with survey work in the Northern Territory, with wages at the rate of ls. 5d. per hour of forty-eight hours per week. This approval has been given on the understanding that you are a member of a recognised union. If you are not, it will be necessary for you to take steps to join at once, otherwise the agreement lapses.
– I do not know who that . man was. He might have been a Liberal.
– Do you allow a man to vote Liberal?
– In the Northern Territory no one votes.
– I think that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– When in Western Australia I came across a concrete instance of the way in which unionists are compelled to vote Labour. On polling day a labour union secretary compelled all the members of his union who were present to file into his office. The first man to receive a ballot paper put a tally-paper into the ballot-box instead, and brought back the ballot paper to the secretary, who gave it to the next trade unionist, and this man, in his turn, brought back another ballot paper, a mark being put against each man’s name on the roll. In this way every person who happened to belong to that union was compelled to vote labour.
– You are talking about the postal vote.
– It sounds like a fairy tale, but I am stating facts. The honorable member knows that that system has been adopted throughout Australia.
– I say that is not correct.
– The principles of Liberalism do not allow us to defend such tactics. “Liberalism,” says Broadhurst, “ does not seek to make all men equal - nothing can do that. But its object is to remove all obstacles erected by men which prevent all having equal opportunities.” We do not for a moment profess to make all men equal, but we shall, as long as we exist as a party, endeavour to remove obstacles which prevent all men having equal opportunities. That is what we stand for. As the Prime Minister said in his opening address, we all belong to a union of States, and as every individual in the State belongs to that union, we should have equal rights. Every citizen in the Commonwealth contributes to the revenue, and as revenue contributors we should certainly have a say as to how that revenue should be distributed. Every citizen who has attained the age of twenty-one has a vote, and our friends on the Opposition side are continually preaching tho principle of one man one vote. That carries with it the principle of one man one value, instead of which honorable members opposite would give the union man a value additional upon that of men outside the union. I ask the Leader of the Opposition, whether, in giving preference to unionists, he would go further, and limit the franchise to unionists? If he is not prepared to do that, why should he give preference to them in Government employment ?
– Do you say that no man outside a union should be allowed to vote?
– Why should he? If the principle of preference to unionists holds good in one case, it holds good in the other. The right honorable member for Wide Bay, when he was in power, defined the unionists as persons belonging to unions affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council. The object of every member of a union is to improve his position on the labour market, but Mr. Fisher’s definition of a unionist is limited to membership of a union affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council. I take it that if a body of free labourers band themselves together for the purpose of im-. proving their position in the labour market, although possibly they do not belong to a union affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council, they should have exactly the same rights as members of other unions; but if the definition given by the right honorable member for Wide Bay be adopted, those men will be denied the privileges and rights which members of other unions have got. I listened with great interest to the speeches delivered by the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for West Sydney, and both those gentlemen declared that all the best men are in the unions.
– Members on your own side stated that.
– Both the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for West Sydney did make that statement, and the honorable member may find it on page 3109 of the Hansard reports for 1913.. If the best men are in the unions, the men outside the unions must necessarily be the worst men.
– Not necessarily so. That only means that the men in the union are not the worst men.
– What about the “ sneaks of society ” 1
– Your own leader used that expression.
– If the honorable member will refer to a. standard dictionary, he will see that the best means the best, and, therefore, those men outside the union must be the worst. We must believe the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for West Sydney in preference to the honorable member who has interjected. I ask the honorable member does the union baptism create a new birth ? When a man is baptized into a union, does he become a new creature ?
– He is a better person.
– If a man is amenable to a good influence, he is a better person.
– Does going through the union stile, and paying for entrance, .insure efficiency and character and make a person a better man ?
– Then it follows that the vilest man in this country may become a good man by paying his entrancefee into a union. I would like to follow that argument up with one or two illustrations. I do not profess to be a cricketer, but suppose I wanted to become an accomplished batsman, a veritable Trumper, all I would require to do would be to go to Sydney, pay two guineas for membership of the Association, walk through the turnstile, go on to the cricket pitch, and hit the ball all round the wicket.
– As soon as you cease to be a pagan and become a Christian you are a better man. Is that not the doctrine of that religion?
– I contend that unionists to-day are more political than industrial, and, that being the case, they should be treated as other political associations, are treated. As long as they keep the industrial aspect of their aims to the fore, let us give them every oppor-
Utility they have a right to, but when they become political organizations they should be treated the same as the Farmers and Settlers Association and the Liberals are treated.
– T would like to make you prove- that.
– Would honorable members tolerate a proposal by the Government to bring in a Bill to give preference to Liberals?
– You do it without a Bill.
– It appears that the Labour party want to keep all the plums for themselves. If they were to broaden their vision, and allow that charitable instinct of which they boast to extend to others, the country would be better, and they themselves certainly would be better. I recollect listening some time ago to an address delivered by a gentleman in N/ew South Wales, and he said that the Labour party reminded him very much of the man who prayed every night - “ Oh Lord, bless me and my wife, my son John, and his wife, we four, no more, for evermore. Amen.” I think that is the Labour party’s prayer.
– That joke is only five hundred years old.
– It seems to apply very well in this particular instance. I desire to apply to this argument a few figures which will carry weight. According to the latest figures given by Knibbs, the population of the Commonwealth is 4,568,000, of .which the unionists number 443,000, equal to one unionist in every ten and a half persons. The revenue of the Commonwealth is £21,000,000, equal to £4 12s. Id. per head of population. Each unionist contributes to the Consolidated Revenue £4 12s. Id., aud nine and a half nonunionists contribute £43 14s. 9£d. In other words, a total of £2,000,000 is contributed by the unionists and £19,000,000 is contributed by people outside the unions. I ask why the man who contributes £4 12s. Id. to the Consolidated Revenue should have an equal voice with the nine and a half other persons who contribute £43 14s. 9$d. ? Next, I come to the question of preference to unionists, “ all things being equal.” What is the meaning of the phrase “ all things being equal “ ? Who is to decide the equality? On the 20th September, 1911, Mr. Deakin put this question to the then Prime Minister, the honorable member for Wide Bay-
If preference is to be granted to unionists, other things being equal between the applicants, who is to determine, and on what evidence, their comparative qualifications? The present Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, replied -
The officer charged with the duty of selecting.
Instead of allowing the question of preference to be determined by a Judge, the Labour Government picked out certain officers by whom this preference should be given.
– They did not; they were the ordinary officers of the Department.
– Ordinary officers, who would be scattered all over the country?
– Yes, wherever they might be working.
– These ordinary officers, of whom the honorable member speaks, would be foremen, sub-foremen, and gangers. Most of them, probably, would be union men, and very much prejudiced.
– A foreman cannot be a union man.
– It is time that the Labour party recognised their position. If purely industrial unions were concerned iu this matter, we should be very pleased to help them ; but we feel that we ought not to agree to preference being given to the political unions of the Labour party, as against the Liberal Leagues, or the Farmers and Settlers’ Association. We think that all should be treated alike. I have gone very carefully into the balance-sheet of the Australian Workers Union as presented recently to the House by the honorable member for Darling. This balance-sheet covers a period of twenty-five years, and it shows that during that time the total amount collected was £438,358. Of that amount, a sum of £54,523 was disbursed by way of “ strike expenditure,” whilst £34,961 is set down in respect of “ Donations to other unions, hospitals, &c.” “Refunds of forfeited wages, &c,” amounted to £6,412. making a total of £95,896. Thus 22 per cent, of the money collected during this term was devoted to legitimate union purposes; the rest was devoted to organization and politics.
– What about the expenditure of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association ?
– We make no pretence. We say that, as members of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association, we are fighting for our political rights. Honorable members opposite profess that the funds of their unions are devoted to helping the poverty-stricken, the sick and the distressed ; yet, according to this balancesheet, the Australian Workers Union, over a period of twenty-five years, devoted only £34,961 to donations to “other unions, hospitals, &c.” Why do they not tell us exactly how much they gave to the hospitals, instead of including hospital contributions with ‘ ‘ donations to other unions, &c.” ? I live in a rural district, and do not know of one donation to our hospitals by the Australian Workers Union. There is a branch of that union at Orange, the chief town of my electorate; but I have never heard of it subscribing a guinea to the local hospitals.
– What does the Employers Federation give to the hospitals ?
– I am dealing, not with the Employers Federation, but with the balance-sheet of the Australian Workers Union. I think, however, that the members of the Federation subscribe liberally to the funds of the hospitals.
– Does the honorable member say that members of the Australian Workers Union do not subscribe individually to hospital funds?
– I do not.
– Then why make this allegation?
– I am simply quoting from the balance-sheet of the Australian Workers Union as put forward by the honorable member for Darling.
– Does not the honorable member know that the members of the union take up a collection at every shed ?
– Yes, but such collections do not come from the funds of the Australian Workers Union. Other people also take up collections for the same purpose. Out of the total of £438,358 raised by the Australian Workers Union during the period covered by this balance-sheet, £34,961 was devoted to “ other unions, hospitals, &c.” Even if we assumed that the whole of that amount was given to hospitals, it would represent only 8.3 per cent, of the total moneys collected by the union. I desire to compare this balance-sheet and the conditions prevailing here with those of the various unions in existence in the United Kingdom. Taking a ten years’ average, we find that 100 of the principal unions provide for disputes benefits; seventy-nine of them provide unemployed benefits; seventy-nine provide for a sick or accident fund; thirty-seven for a superannuation fund; eighty-seven for a funeral fund ; and thirty-three for all four benefits. The expenditure of these unions is distributed as follows: - Disputes benefits, 13.4 per cent.; unemployed, 22.1 per cent.; sick or accident funds, 19.1 per cent. ; superannuation, 12.4 per cent. ; and funeral fund, 11 per cent.; or a total of 78 per cent., leaving 22 per cent, for management expenses. In other words, 78 per cent, of their funds is devoted to charities and to funds for the alleviation of sickness and poverty.
– Superannuation and funeral funds are not charities.
– Then if it will please the honorable member I will say that 78 per cent of the expenditure of these unions in the Old Country is devoted to humanitarian objects. In that respect, they set a splendid example to the unions with which honorable members opposite are associated. The Australian Workers Union devotes 78 per cent to management expenses, and at the most gives only 8 per cent, as donations to other unions, hospitals, &c.
– It does not give anything to hospitals.
– From what has the honorable member been quoting in regard to the funds of unions in the Old Country ?
– From the Encyclo- paedia Britannica.
– That information is half a century old.
– I think that my honorable friends opposite would do well to read it, and to adopt here the practices followed in this respect by the trade unions in the Old Country. The principle of preference to unionists which the Labour Government applied to public servants cuts against the grain of British fair play. If there is one thing more thananother of which we are proud it is Magna Charta-.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Before we rose for dinner I was endeavouring to show that this Bill, deals with an evil which strikes at the root of all true British freedom, and at those liberties for which our fathers have fought - liberties, the foundations of which can be traced to the Magna Charta which King John signed at Runnymede. ‘ Chapter No. 40 of that Charter reads -
To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice.
If we allow preference to unionists, either in or outside the Public Service, we are refusing that right to which every section of the community is entitled. If honorable members opposite are in favour of preference to unionists, are they also in favour of preference to employers’ unions 1 If the latter, how is it that we find trade unionists working for various employers who do not belong to employers’ unions, and thus branding themselves as “ scabs “ ?
– The Act does give preference to employers’ unions or organizations.
– I am afraid that honorable members opposite are very inconsistent, or they would not accept employment from employers who are outside the unions. Only a short time ago, during the butchers’ strike in Sydney, two of the master butchers withdrew from the union of the employers on the question of employing union labour, and, as a matter of fact, there was a regular rush of unionists for employment with those men. This appears to me to be supporting a principle which trade unionists describe as hateful ; and I think they ought to be more consistent. Before I sit down I should like to show that a very high compliment has been paid to our worthy Prime Minister by a leading member of a trade union, and it is well that the country should know the facts. The compliment is contained in the following newspaper extract: -
Praise for Mr. Cook
The treasurer of the Railway Workers and General Labourers’ Association, a large organization, spoke yesterday in favour of the Liberal Government of the Commonwealth. “ Last February,” said Mr. Rosser, “ we had n strike at the Federal Capital area, and the Prime Minister made a special visit to inquire into the men’s grievances. We put forward a list of claims for his consideration, and I must say that the result has been most satis factory. We could get no satisfaction under the Labour regime, nor could we under the Liberal Government until the men downed tools; but the arrangements that have now been come to are calculated to ensure lasting peace. The schedule of rates is most comprehensive, but the quotation of a few instances will serve to indicate that Mr. Cook and the Department of Home Affairs realized that the men had just cause of complaint. For instance, hammer and drill spawler and jumper men were paid ls. 3d., now they will get ls. 4£d. - the highest rate paid in New South Wales. Several men, pickmen, and tipmen, now paid 9s. and 9s. 6d. under New South Wales control, are to receive 10s. per day. The pay for horse, dray, and driver, which is 13s. 6d. on New South Wales railway works, will be 14s. 4d. under this Commonwealth schedule.”
According to this gentleman the workers of Australia are absolutely safe in accepting employment under the Government when there is a man like Joseph Cook at the head of affairs.
.- The honorable member for Robertson has asked if we are prepared to grant preference to employers, and I ask him in return whether, in the event of our being so prepared, he will guarantee that the employers shall meet the demands of combined labour. If so, there will be no need for preference either way; and I should say the employers will have a very happy time, inasmuch as they need not fear industrial disputes. In the course of the debate we have repeated references to ‘ ‘ British liberty ‘ ‘ ; but so far as I cau see it is only just recently that the great masses of the people at Home are becoming enlightened as to what true liberty means-, and unless a little British fair play is extended to them I am inclined to think that the turmoil and unrest will become much greater. What “ British liberty,” so far as we know it, is there in regard to the higher professions and employments at Home? It is said that the upper classes put their sons into the army, the church, or the legal profession ; even in the church the livings are in a great many instances reserved to representatives of the higher classes. I doubt very much whether a manual worker could obtain one of those rosy positions in the church; and the legal profession is hedged round in such a manner that it is well-nigh impossible for any one of the mass of the people, except a genius, to find his way to the front. Not long ago there was so much “liberty” at Home that if a man was not prepared to take the “ King’s shilling “ he was compelled to serve, but all that was required from a man who desired to be an officer on horseback was to buy a commission. Can we see no preference under all these illustrations of British “liberty” and “fair play”? Any elderly man from Great Britain, who has been through the turmoil of life, will tell you that there is not much liberty for the proletariat - those teeming millions, many of whom, according to Campbell-Bannerman, are on the verge of starvation. Let honorable members read Jack London’s book, The People of the Abyss - that abyss into which it is most easy to slip and most difficult to get out of. The “ liberty,” however, about which so many honorable members talk, is a different thing altogether. Trade unionism is now a sort of religion, which has lifted the industrial world to the place it occupies to-day. We now ask for a requital, and the sneaks of society should not be allowed to benefit from our efforts. We on this side offer no apology for the attitude we are taking on this question. Some honorable members seem to have the idea that preference to unionists should not be given in the Public Service. We should remember, however, that Australia is not going to follow in the rut of other nations, but is going to branch out for herself, and as her industrial development is unlimited, the time may come when the Government will be the greatest employer in the country, with men of many trades, now embraced by trade unionism, in their pay. We are not seeking too much in trying te place the Government employment on the same line as any other employment. Personally, I am prepared to go to the country to-morrow and advocate preference to unionists, as a guarantee of efficiency in our workmen and of benefit to the Commonwealth. The honorable, member for Robertson used a very humorous argument in regard to the legal profession. He was referring to some remarks made earlier in the day by the honorable member for West Sydney, but that honorable member is a legal man himself, and knows too much to be taught anything by the honorable member for Robertson. The latter emphasized the point that a lawyer has to undergo a certain course of training before entering the profession, and he seemed to suggest that a working man should, before being given employment, carry ‘a hod of bricks, or wheel a barrow, a certain distance. The honorable member forgets that if a navvy cannot break enough ground, or shift enough of that stuff for which 4s. 6d. a yard is paid - but which may be worth only 2s. if the work is by contract - he is a losing proposition to his employer, and is dismissed. The same principle holds good throughout all the trades, and a unionist, if he proves to be incompetent, is sent about his business, especially if his employer happens to be a shrewd commercial man. If I go to a legal man to seek advice as to my chances in a court of law, I find, nine times out of ten, that, if he thinks I have any money, I get an opinion that my case is good enough. On his recommendation, I take the case into court. I put my hand to the plough by engaging that legal luminary, and I cannot stop until he stops, and whatever the bill may be, I must pay it. That is the difference between the two men, the lawyer and the trade unionist. I am not a legal luminary, and, therefore, cannot criticise the business of lawyers, or say whether lawyers are efficient or inefficient ; but the tale goes the rounds that one lawyer may write a sentence and submit it to four other lawyers, and that they will all differ as to its meaning. So, how much do lawyers know? Every member of an industrial union knows his business. If a tradesman starts out to make a chair, he does not make a table; no other ma-0 can say that it is not a chair, and that it is a dressing-table, or a side-board. The man makes what he set out to make, and proves his knowledge of the business. On the other hand, I cannot say how many cases are lost in the Courts by individuals who have gone to law on the recommendation of lawyers. But the lawyer has the best end of the stick every time, so that the simile between lawyers and trade unionists is lost. The honorable member for Calare said that if he paid £2 a week to become a cricketer, he must necessarily, when he has finished, be the best cricketer. The honorable member said that it was claimed that all unionists were the best men. We have not argued that the best tradesmen are in trade unions. We have argued that the majority of the best tradesmen are in trade unions, but we have not said that every man outside of trade unions is not a good man.
– Your leaders have. It is reported in Hansard.
– Our leaders may have made some remarks upon which the honorable member has put his own construction. I am satisfied that our leaders recognise that there are good men outside trade unions. There are plenty of good workmen outside trade unions. Very often it is the skilful man who will stand on his own ability, and will not join a trade union ; he thinks that he can get a job anywhere when he wishes to leave one place - he is conservative because he is highly skilled; but he will not say, “ Before trade unionists raised the price of my labour, it was worth so much, and I cannot accept any increase”; or, “I worked ten and twelve hours a day, a-nd, though now the hours of labour are eight, I wish to go on for ten hours “ ; or, “ Seeing that we worked at the same rate of wages after doing ten hours’ work, I can nob accept time and a-half for overtime now.” Any one who looks at the matter from a fair point of view must come to the same conclusion as ourselves, that trade unionists having brought about all the benefits that now obtain in A ustralian industries, no tradesman should remain outside a union. The man who remains outside a union is always a menace to it. The unionists never know what the nonunionists will do. If the unionists find a certain set of conditions irksome, or if they think it wise that there should be some advance made in the rate of wages, they have to go to the non-unionists and ask them if they are prepared to advocate whatever may be advocated by the unions; and they may say, ‘‘No.” If they do, the boss, as a rule, when approached, says, “ So-and-so is satisfied.” The non-unionists may be considerably in the minority, yet the unionists, unless they have the full strength of their organization, have to conform to the dictates of the two or three outside the organization. If they fight the battle and lose, they are ou the same plane as the non-unionists; but if they win in their endeavour to alter the conditions, the benefits they gain are not confined to them - the nonunionists advance also. This condition of affairs is most irksome, and the trade unionists, therefore, have nothing for which to apologize in their demand for preference to unionists. The existence of non-unionists is obnoxious to them. Seeing that the Arbitration Court deals only with bodies of men instead of with individuals,’ we ask that it should recognise the efforts of trade unions, and give preference to unionists in the Government service as well as outside. Some say that trade unions are not absolutely industrial. If they are not absolutely industrial, whose fault is it ? There was a day when there were no Labour men in Houses of Parliament, and the day that heralded the beginning of the Labour movement politically was brought about at the instance of the employers. We had a big strike, well within the memory of residents for any length of time - I refer to the great maritime strike of 1890 - and word went round from the employers in South Australia to this effect : “ We shall get these chaps to drop this method of driving us to give them what they ask.” They adjured us that the strike weapon was barbarous; that it brought trouble and tribulation into homes; that the wives and children suffered through strikes; that strikes caused dislocation to trade and chaos to every one; that to strike was to hark back to the days of barbarism. They said if we were not satisfied with the position as we then found it, the law of the land was responsible, and we should get into the Houses of Legislature and alter the law. Did these employers say that to individuals? Did they say it to non-unionists? No. They said it to the Seamen’s Union, and to the Wharf Labourers Union, and to every other union who stood back to back with those unions in the great fight which was put up in 1890; but little did the employers dream that the trade unions would accept their advice and act on it. They did act on it, and to-day we find that trade unions have gone in for politics. In South Australia particularly they have made rapid strides, and if it were not for that old, worn-out system of British liberty and fair play, and for following the precedent of the Old Country - if it were not for the existence of what we call the House of Fossils in South Australia, things in that State would be infinitely better than they are now. There are many who would, if they could, bite out. the tongues that gave the unions that advice. They shudder at it. It hurts them so deeply. Nearly every honorable member opposite claims that our funds are used for political purposes, but, having advised us to take political action, can honorable members say how industrial and political objects can be dissociated? If all the unions were disbanded, and a dispute such as that of 1890 arose, and the President of the Arbitration Court was asked to bring about a settlement, seeing that it would extend beyond one State, the Judge would immediately ask whom he should cite to the Court. He could not send for individuals, otherwise he would have all the unionists in a line, from Spring-street to Spencer-street, marching to the Court as respondents to the plaint that would be filed. As a matter of fact, we know that the Arbitration Act is only possible because of the existence of organized bodies who can be dealt with. In the circumstances, how can we dissociate political action from industrial action? Can trade unions be other than industrial politically? In no sense can they be. I have been connected with trade unions, and with the political side of the movement, as secretary, and I know what funds are paid into the Political Labour party’s account in South Australia. Some of our opponents are carried away by the amount that they imagine comes in from trade unions. We win our elections, not by the money that comes in from the trade unions, but by the loyalty of trade unions and their members to their cause, and by the propaganda work we have carried out. We do not get the thousands such as were poured into the campaign funds of our opponents by the vested interests to defeat the referenda in South Australia. We were successful in securing one of our opponents’ subscription lists, and on that list appeared the South Australian Land Company, which, owing to British liberty and fair play was allowed to exploit Australia for so long. There was also the name of Harris, Scarfe, and Company for £100. I think the name of the South Australian Gas Company appeared on the list. Then there was A. Simpson and Son Limited for £100. Do not I wish that I had somebody to wheel in £100 to me as secretary. Instead of carrying the referenda in the numbers we aid in South Australia, we would have doubled our majority. Our efforts were puny, having regard to the issues at stake. In regard to an interjection by the honorable member for Wannon, may I say that I am the auditor of the Australian Workers Union books in Adelaide? I know that remark hurts the honorable member for Calare. His statements it» that regard were erroneous. He took collective figures, and tried to found an argument on them. As I was saying, I would have been the proudest man in South Australia at the last elections if I had had a few of those hundreds to play with. Our contributions came from our propaganda centres. One centre collected at Sunday afternoon meetings and other meetings the sum of £200, all voluntary contributions from our supporters.
– What about the levies you took from the shearers?
– Does the honorablemember know how much we got from them?
– I do.
– The honorable member does not know what the Australian Workers Union paid into the funds of the Labour party in South Australia. The honorable member would be astonished if I told him, but I shall not satisfy his curiosity.
– There is no necessity. I have often paid in the contributions of my own shearers.
– I am positive the honorable member does not know how much was paid, but I am not going to tell him. Honorable members have no idea of the amount of money paid to the Political Labour League of South Australia by the unions in that State. Seeing that we appealed to our supporters everywhere and anywhere to establish a fighting fund, can we prevent a union from saying, “ We shall give you £10 out of our general fund”? It is a contribution from them for their political, as well as for their industrial, salvation. I ask the other side if the two can be dissociated. The members of the industrial world must see that the political side of their lives is looked to. What would be their position if they could not get members of Parliament to try to bring about the results at which they aim? Honorable members opposite have spoken of the strikes that have occurred under Labour administration, and the honorable member for Calare has quoted remarks of a union secretary concerning the Prime Minister. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has not forgotten all that was best in him when a trade unionist, and has shown a little of his real self, which is so different from the fictitious self which he generally shows at the present time. The honorable member for Calare referred to the manner in which the Cook Government have granted requests made by the workers. The Verran Government in South Australia, a Labour Administration, was asked on several occasions for higher wages. It granted a shilling a day on one occasion, and when a subsequent request for an increase was made, it granted another shilling a day; but, as the result, some one was facetious enough to dub it the “ Bob-a-day “ Government, and what the honorable member for Calare regards as good in the attitude of the Cook Government was ridiculed when done by the Verran Government, which, like the old man with the donkey, could not please any one, though it tried all it could to meet the desires of the workers. I belong to a union whose members require more assistance than any other. We approached the Government for free tents, free tools, and free working time. The word “ free “ astonishes honorable members opposite; but they do not know what hard work means. Some of them may occasionally do a little digging in the garden, and think that they could turn over a mile of earth without getting tired ; but they could not work as those whom 1 speak of have to work. We asked for time in which to put on sea boots, as the men were working up to their knees in water. Any one who has any concern for his brother man must feel the injustice of demanding that ten minutes should be taken out of his luncheon hour to enable him to put on sea boots in which to work. Again, as a railway track is pushed forward, the men engaged in making the line have to walk further and further. Sometimes a man must walk a mile to get to work, and it has to be done in his own time. When the men get back from their work, they have to turn to and cook their meals. They have not comfortable homes with wives getting their tea, so that on returning from work they have only to take off their boots, put on their slippers, and sit before the fire. I should like honorable gentlemen opposite to try what their work is like - not- for one day, but year in and year out. When rain falls, work is stopped, and sometimes when a man is drawing money to send home to his wife and kiddies, he finds that three or four days’ pay has been deducted from the weekly wage. These men, be it remembered, love their homes as others do. We are fighting strenuously for prefer ence to unionists, because where an extra shilling a day has been granted, where walking time has been granted, or where conditions have in any way been improved and brought more into conformity with Christian teaching, it is the unionists who have agitated, borne the expense, and suffered the victimization that has been necessary. We hear about “ all things being equal “; but when a lot of navvies present . themselves for employment on railway work, what test of equality is to be applied? Is each man to be asked to ring a pick to see whether there is steel in the point, or to show how far he can throw a shovelful of mullock? A ganger might pick out those whose physique was the best ; but physique does not mean equality. Those who are on the lowest rung of the social ladder are treated now as if they were lower as men than are their fellows ; but the social system should be built up on the feeling that each man is worthy in accordance with what he does for the community. The man whose work results in the construction of a railway is of more value to the community than many who are engaged in other occupations than navvying. We have a right to say that when a lot of navvies apply for work, the places shall be given to unionists. I shall have no fear in going to the country in support of the principle of preference to unionists. I would fight for the principle, not only in the Adelaide division - because that is a seat which can easily be held for Labour - but in any other constituency in South Australia. I have no wish to make a narrow appeal. Men must be recognised for their value. A few business men - the members of the Employers Federation, for instance - may not recognise that principle. The so-called kings of industry may be against it, and may try to break it down, but they will not succeed. The Bill is an attempt to break down unionism. But, although it can have no effect, we are bound, as a matter of principle, to prevent it from passing, and I shall take every opportunity to oppose it. If I did not, I should not be doing my duty to my constituents. Some speakers have told us that, as all the taxpayers contribute to the revenue, all should have the same opportunity to get Government employment. To that we do not object.
There is nothing to prevent all those engaged in an industry, if competent, from joining the unions. There are men who stand outside unions, but who, nevertheless, vote Labour. It has been said that we are trying to force men into unions to make them support the Labour party; but the non-unionists, the sneaks of society, vote Labour now, because they know that they gain advantages by having Labour in power. They will not join unions, because they do not wish to bear the burden of unionism, and are afraid of victimization. They are the toadies of the industrial field. I may be asked to prove that there is victimization - which is, of course, very difficult, and, in many cases, impossible. But when an employer thinks that he is being forced by the combination of his employes to increase wages, he often tries to get rid of troublesome workers who have taken an active part in the matter. The honorable member for Boothby said the other day, that one empolyer says that when a ganger sees a man reading a newspaper, he gets rid of him, knowing that such a man is likely to prove troublesome. The employers would Tike to see the working classes as ignorant as they were when women worked in the coal mines. The workers are equal to any other section of the community, but the employers would like to see them back in the ignorance from which they have emerged. I worked for seventeen years in a factory, and saw men who had taken an active part in unionism - the best workers in the place - gradually weeded out. I could quote cases in point, but shall content myself with quoting sworn evidence given before the Arbitration Court in connexion with the tramways case, a case which shows the trouble and cost to which the employes are put to obtain justice. And the expenses of the tramway employes in Adelaide ran into thousands of pounds. As good unionists they had to pay that amount, but’ those who are in the tram service to-day and are not in the union are benefiting by the work of an organization which has had to pay out over £2,000 in a struggle that has lasted twelve months. One member has said that the awards would not be observed, but I do not think he can point to an instance of a trade union refusing to observe an award of the Arbitration Court. One can,
Ifr. Yates. however, point to cases of employers refusing to obey awards, and the Tramways Trust is a good instance. That is a municipal concern, but if it were not for that British liberty which, we are told, built up the Empire, the Trust would not have the personnel it has to-day in consequence of plural voting - that old Conservative shibboleth we have copied from the Old Country. If there were a good democratic Australian spirit infused into the Adelaide City Council, there would be no plural voting, and the Trust would not be opposing those men after they have spent so much time and money in fighting their case. I understand that they have to wait until’ the 3rd June before the High Court can hear the appeal of the people’s Tramway Trust against the award of the Arbitration Court.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I was saying that the statements we may make at different times in regard to the victimization that takes place may be questioned on our bare word, but I shall quote from the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins in the Tramways case, and his remarks will,’ I think, prove to what extent the employers will go in order to break down trade unionism, and to what victimization unionists are subjected. Mr. Justice Higgins said -
Until this association was organized, Mr. Badger succeeded in crushing out all attempts to form a true union among his men. He has been able always hitherto to stamp out the sparks Of unionism before they had spread. I can only say that it is not for me to aid him in his battle against unionism. Sitting in this Court, it is my duty to obey the Act; and one of the objects of the Act is to “ facilitate and encourage the organization of representative bodies of . . . employes, and the submission of industrial disputes to the Court by organizations. “
It will be seen that the very law we have placed on the statute-book makes it incumbent upon the industrial workers, if they wish to redress any grievances and improve their conditions, to take political action. Why is it, then, that members on the Government side repeatedly complain of trade unions being political organizations 1 Can they help it, In view of what Mr. J us tic© Higgins says ? Let me continue my quotation -
Indeed, without such organizations, no system of arbitration is possible. It is urged, indeed, for Mr. Badger, that his real objection is to having his employes in a union with men of other States so as to bc liable to be involve)! in the disputes of other States. But this excuse will not hold when it is seen that Mr. Badger with equal rigour crushed out unions which were to be confined in operations to Brisbane and to his own employes; and it is a curious commentary upon this argument that in this very case the influence of the leaders of this Association, coming from the southern States, was against any strike, at a time when Mr. Badger’s own employes were largely in favour of a strike.
Do you note the sting in the tail of that paragraph? Members on the Government side say ou occasions that the unions would not be so bad, if it were not for the union bosses. They are very pleased to throw accusations across the chamber that the unions are dominated by the union bosses. Mr. Justice Higgins said in that award that Mr. Badger was not desirous of a bond fide union being formed, and that it was only through the efforts of the leaders of the association from the southern States that a strike was averted. Therefore, the epithets that are hurled at us so frequently are quite unjustified. There is a lot of evidence in that Tramways case as to why preference should be given to unionists, and the award in that case was the only one in which preference to unionists was awarded by the Court. Mr. Justice Higgins realized that if he was to scotch Mr. Badger in his efforts to bring about chaos and disruption in Brisbane, he must award preference to unionists, and so block Mr. Badger’s endeavour to crush out the union. The instances of victimization must have been sworn o for the Judge to make these remarks -
Sometimes men who go on deputations to the management or to the Ministers are made to suffer for it; sometimes, as appeared in this case, the management say that they have “ m> room for dissatisfied men “ ; and a movement for a petition is stifled. Some of the employes were getting up a petition for one week’s leave of absence in lieu of Christmas Day and other holidays. One line manager tore up the petition ; the leaders were called before the management, who insisted on withdrawals; and the management put a notice on the window that such a petition would be of no use. A collective demand from a strong and broad union is often the only mode of relief that is open. The agents of such a union do not, in my experience, spread discontent; they generally spread hopes of getting relief from existing grievances, by arbitration instead of strike.
What have our opponents to say to that? It is by no means singular to find this thing happening, but it is singular to get evidence in print on which the Judge could say that the unions do stop the spread of strife, and that victimization does take place.
A curious position has arisen with regard to the Brisbane Tramways Company. It has been stoutly contended by Mr. Frew, on behalf of the company, that, even if there was at the time of the plaint a dispute with that company, this Court has now no jurisdiction to make an award, inasmuch as nearly all the members of the Association were dismissed since’ the plaint; and it is alleged that those who remain in the employment have tried to .resign from the Association.
There was victimization again. The plaint was before Mr. Justice Higgins, but before it could be heard nearly all the employes who had taken part in endeavouring to better their positions were dismissed or had resigned from the organization. Are we going to allow it to be possible for any employer to take up the same stand as Mr. Badger, and so browbeat and victimize the men that the efforts of the trades unions are useless? That attitude could only be adopted by the employer when the employes were not all in the unions. He could not do it if the employes were all organized and prepared to fight, and could go home to their wives and say, “ Save up all you can ; you will have a hard time before you.” Some people think that the unionist strikes for the fun of the thing, and likes to see his wife and children starving. There is no fun about the unionist when he votes for a strike; he is in deadly earnest. I have been on the executive of a trade union. When members talk about union bosses, they show their absolute ignorance of what happens in unions. The Prime Minister, if he so desired, could enlighten members on his side as to what actually takes place when the question of a strike is under consideration. I have been at a meeting called by desire of the men, and it has taken the leaders all their time to keep the men in order. The men have come with a settled objective in their minds, and have decided that a certain thing must be done, and the leaders could no more stop them than they could stop the inrush of the sea when the tide is flowing in. It is when the will of the union is known that the leaders set to work, but never have the executive or leaders of a union been able, to my knowledge, to coerce men to go out on strike when the men did not think a strike was of any use. Therefore, I hope that Ministerial members, before again showing the same lack of knowledge in regard to union bosses, will pay their money into a union, become members, and so find out what takes place. They will find that a union is not the awful thing- they imagine it to be. There are a lot of good men in trade unions, and I should be sorry to see any action taken by the Government that would tend to smash up those organizations. Some may say that when Mr. Justice Higgins was making his award on the Tramways case he was only giving his own opinion on the evidence, submitted. But he was more complete in his summing up, and he quoted the names of men who were victimized or were told that they would have to get out of the union if they wished to keep their jobs. He not only named the men, but he quoted the methods that were used to induce those men to resign from the union, with a view to breaking down the plaint. And the award shows how the employers in some instances pointed out to the men avenues by which they could be successful in their endeavour to get out of the union. I will not read all the references. There were some sixty odd men who, as good trade unionists, signed the plaint to the Arbitration Court, and acquiesced in Mr. Warton representing them in C°urt’ But within a short time they were notified that ‘ they would have to leave the union or lose their employment, and they then made affidavits that they desired to withdraw from the organization -
Ryan, in his affidavit, swore that information was withheld; but in cross-examination he does not know whether any information was withheld. Ryan, in his affidavit, swore that he was dissatisfied with the management pf the Association; and in cross-examination he says he was not.
The man made certain statements during his examination in chief, but the crossexamination clearly proved that his evidence was due to the fact that the screw had been placed upon him at headquarters -
Whitta resigned because, he says, “ A man speaking against the Association was not allowed to speak “ ; but he gives no particulars. He was referred by Stephens to Dalby, signed the sham promise to pay £1, and was raised in his grade as a conductor before his time. Stephens was the sub-manager, and Dalby was a representative of Messrs. Thynne and Macartney, that noted firm of Brisbane solicitors, whose seven clerks formed the Beef Trust. This man Whitta signed the sham promise to pay JE1, and made an affidavit, but actually paid nothing. The inference is that Badger or the company paid the money, and induced him to say something which he would not have said had he been free from any influence. He was brought forward as a witness who would tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, and was rewarded for playing the part of a traitor to his comrades. I do not desire, however, to speak too strongly of him, because, as Mr. Justice Higgins pointed out in his award, there was, no doubt, some justification for ‘the action taken by these men, since their means of livelihood was at stake. It is further set forth in the judgment that -
Ohmsen represented in his affidavit that motormen’s wages compared favorably with those of skilled tradesmen; and yet he admits he did not know what skilled tradesmen got. He went to Dalby and signed the promise to pay £1 like the others, and he went to Thynne and Macartney twice by direction of an officer.
That officer “ wheeled “ him up to the lawyer’s office. That is the sort of thing against which trade unionists have to fight. And yet honorable members opposite talk of our using union funds for political purposes. Who found the money to pay Messrs. Thynne and Macartney for making these men swear to statements that were proved to be untrue? If a union had done such a thing, its members would have been howled down from one end of the country to the other.
– They would have been put in gaol.
– Quite so. This judgment makes very good, reading, and, since it is not generally circulated, I wish to make some further quotations from it for the information of the readers of Honsard -
It is hardly conceivable that any company or employing firm would have the audacity to induce men to commit themselves in this way, whilst at the same time declaring that commercialism is clean.
– What has this to do with the question of preference to unionists ?
– This Bill does nothing, proves nothing, and will alter nothing; but the principle involved demands that we shall give expression to our opinions on the question of preference to unionists. If the Government get their way, they will declare from every public platform that all preference to unionists should be abolished. I am making these quotations, therefore, to show why preference should be granted. Trade unionists have had to contend with this sort of thing from time immemorial. There was a time when they were haled before the Courts of their country, and sentenced for being members of an organization. Speaking from memory, one Judge said, when sentencing a trade unionist -
Not for anything you have done or could do, but as an example to others, you are sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Van Diemen’s Land.
That was in the bad, old days, when we had that beautiful British liberty to which the honorable member for Calare and the honorable member for Robertson have referred. To-day our opponents have devised a more scientific method of aiming a blow at trade unionism. As soon as it becomes known that a man belongs to an organization, the boss “ gets his eye on him,” so to speak, and if he so much as coughs when he ought not to do so, he is dismissed. “When the organization to which the man belongs objects, as in this case, to this sort of thing, the employers concerned “sack” as many as they can, and then get others to swear falsely. In this case, men were sent to the company’s lawyers, and the legal expenses were paid to insure that everything should be correct, but the company reckoned without its host. It was found that the men were not good liars. Mr. Justice Higgins’ award proves that they were not. I come now to the question of the use of union funds for political purposes, and the alleged tyranny of trade unionism. A few months ago there appeared in one of the Adelaide newspapers references to a one-time member of the Port Adelaide Working Men’s Association, under such headings as “Pitiful Story”; “Union’s Dominance “ ; “ Prevented from Working,” and so forth. But what were the facts ? It was said by an honorable member that it cost £5 to join a union. The honorable member for Henty at once interjected, “ Where could a working man get £5?” If it is impossible for a working man in Australia to save £5, what can be said of the conditions prevailing here? The honorable member suggests an extra ordinary condition of industrialism when he asks, “Where could a working man get £5?”
– I bet a dollar that he could not get it from the honorable member.
– A working man would obtain £5 from me more readily than he would from the honorable member.
– Does the honorable member think that he could earn £5 himself?
– I would pit myself against the honorable member at my own trade, and if ability counted I could earn more than the honorable member. The facts in regard to the Port Adelaide case to which I was referring when interrupted are as follow: -
– What would a man do with £35 when he was dead.
– The money would go to his widow. It matters not to me if the verbiage is wrong. In such circumstances it is the money that counts when the widow is knocking at the door. I ask honorable members opposite, who say that trade unionism is not a good thing for the working man, where any man could get these benefits in return for an initiation fee of £2 and a contribution of 5d. per week?
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There are some interesting phases of this subject that have not yet been dealt with. We are told by the Government that a great constitutional question is involved, but I have not read or heard of any deadlock between two Houses of Parliament having been determined on an issue so unimportant as is that now before us. We have witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of a Government, fresh from the country, deliberately provoking a quarrel, and inviting the Opposition to tread on their political coat-tails, by putting forward something which, although in itself unimportant, carries with it a certain amount of sentiment, and involves a principle which we on this side of the House cannot accept. The position may well be illustrated by a reference to what took place in connexion with the Pastoralists Council and the Shearers “Union in 1894. The big Pastoralists Council and the Shearers Union in conference arrived at an agreement under which they worked peacefully for three years, but in 1894 the council introduced a new working agreement, containing a clause providing that in any case respecting a breach of an agreement the employer was to be the sole judge. It was admitted that the clause was illegal, and could not be enforced at law. In reality, it meant no marked change in the work of the industry. Work would practically go on as before; but the clause declared for a principle, and a wrong principle, which the AttorneyGeneral himself, I am sure, would not for a moment support. It embodied the principle that one of the parties to a contract - and that the stronger party - should be the sole judge as to whether the terms made under it were or were not fair. The Australian Shearers Union could not accept the condition sought to be imposed. It was known that work would go on practically as before, since the employers themselves did not desire that any difficulty should arise, but the union could not accept the conditions. The result was that one of the biggest fights that has been put up in Australia had to be maintained to uphold what was largely a matter of sentiment. But, after all, sentiment counts for much in human affairs. Of the men involved, eighty-one suffered imprisonment from fourteen days to seven years; and all to assert a principle. In this very House two Governments have been defeated on the question, and twice or three times, so far as the issue has been before the country, the electors have declared in favour of judicial preference by the Court. Yet, with a knowledge of all the facts, we have the Government introducing this Bill; and for the reason that, while in itself it does nothing, it attacks a principle, we are bound to oppose it. The Bill, even if it should become law, will make no difference in the practical details of the work, but its aim is admitted to be to cause a quarrel, or what the Government choose to term a “ deadlock.” As a matter of fact, there is no deadlock; there is no evidence that the government of the country and legislation could not be carried on. As I have said, this Bill is introduced with the knowledge that it cannot be accepted, and with the sole object of bringing about a double dissolution. To justify such an appeal to the country there ought to be some big issue in which the public are directly interested - some blocking of needful and progressive legislation for which the country is crying out. The Bill will not alter anything, but merely proposes to enact what has already been brought about by Executive minute. The exceeding foolishness of the position is shown in the fact that if a Labour Government were to be returned subsequently, it could, in the easiest manner possible, repeal the measure. In the Prime Minister we have a man who, to use a common phrase, is as “ cunning as a pet fox,” and the AttorneyGeneral is a gentleman of great ability and astuteness. Although this Bill may at first glance appear to be foolish, there is something behind it; and I take it that the first object is to secure a double dissolution, and another is to provide the Liberal party with a political cry. This Bill conveys the inference that the Government propose to abolish any preference to unionists, and to aim a blow at unionism itself; and this will appeal to a considerable and somewhat powerful section of the community. The one brief clause of the Bill is as follows - .
No preference or discrimination shall be made for or against any person in relation to any employment by the Commonwealth or by any Department or authority thereof, on account of his membership or non-membership of any political or industrial association.
From this it will be inferred that, amongst all the many thousands of men employed in every Department of the Commonwealth, there will be no more preference; and this view will be spread abroad by the agents of the Liberal party, though not necessarily by members or candidates. As a matter of fact, the AttorneyGeneral has frankly admitted that the Bill applies only to what may he termed casual labour; but it will be very hard to convince the average man in the street that the application is not general. There is no doubt that people who desire to get their sons into the Public Service will be informed that it is impossible to do so unless their sons belong to trade unions. We know, of course, that this is absolutely untrue, but our experience is that the Liberal party are not very anxious to discover truth, or to make use of it too frequently, when advocating their cause. The Bill is a declaration of war against trade unionism, and it is for that reason, and not because it will accomplish anything, that we are offering so much opposition to it. The Commonwealth Government in relation to labour is only an employer like any other person or body. Big companies employ labour, and are faced with this question of preference, because some of our industrial troubles arise from the employment of non-union labour. I have not in my mind so much men who are not merely members of unions, but rather a certain class whom I prefer to term antiunionists. The door of every union is open, and many of the organizations have no entrance fee, do not require proposers and seconders, and no questions are asked. Indeed, the unions are only too glad to get men in, and great efforts are being made to get every man in a given trade into the organization. What reason is there for the Government, as an employer, to take up their present attitude? If they succeed, the only result will be that they will tie their hands, and render themselves unable to deal with any disputes which may arise concerning unionism or non-unionism. I am glad to hear that the Government have entered into an arrangement with the Australian Workers Union in regard to some of the work on the transcontinental railway. I have not seen the agreement, and I do not know that there is in it any definite statement as to preference to unionists; but we know that members of the Australian Workers Union will not work with non-unionists.
– That union gives preference to negroes.
– It does nothing of the kind, but shuts out negroes and Afghans - it is a White Australia union. If some non-unionist comes along and causes trouble, the Commonwealth Government will, by this legislation, so tie their hands that they will not, as I say, be able to give any instruction as to a settlement with the’ Australian Workers Union. No private employer would be such a fool as to ask Parliament to pass such a law in regard to him, because he wishes to be quite free to settle any such questions as they arise. In the United States there has been a considerable fight on the question of the open shop versus the trade-union shop, and there is an extending movement in the direction of arrangements between employers and the men that all the latter shall be unionists. I have been secretary of a miners’ association in a district where 2,000 men were employed, and it was recognised by all the companies, and the men, that every man working there should comply with the law of the district and join a union. By “ law “ I do not, of course, mean an Act of Parliament, but the law agreed to by both sides, and the man who would not comply with it was free to leave the neighbourhood. This was done in the interests of peace, and it pays employers at any time to prevent disturbance. When men get restless, and, perhaps, lose their tempers, we never know where the matter will end; and it is always a small spark that causes a fire. If, therefore, any man in an employment is obstinate enough to keep outside the union, the employer very quickly reminds him of the custom of the trade, and declines to have the work stopped. This reminds me of the story of a young man who was sent to Queensland to gain experience in the pastoral industry, and who was told by his father before he went that the idea of trade unionism was outrageous, and that men ought to be free. With all these beautiful ideas in his head, the young man declined to become a member of a union, but his employer, when he learned the fact, and anticipated trouble, told him that he must either join or get away as quickly as possible. The Attorney-General, of course, would prevent any employer making such discrimination, but it cannot be avoided. Every employer, whether an individual or a company, has to face such emergencies; and yet, as I say, the Government ‘ propose to render themselves helpless to act. This Bill is repugnant to the labour unions because on its face it bears the impression of being against trade unionism. Before I conclude I should like to refer to another aspect of the question, and to quote
Mr. Chiozza Money in his book Riches and Poverty, as follows -
My own view is that the massing of capital in large units has so considerably strengthened the hands of capital in its dealings with labour that in recent years trades unions have comparatively lost much ground. To-day the masters in many of our industries can exercise collective powers much more effectively than trades unions. Combination among employers in some trades has reached a point at which it has become possible to rule alike the price of products and the price of labour.
The Attorney-General will agree that that is a correct statement of the position to-day. The great combinations of capital have enormous collective power; and no one knows better than the AttorneyGeneral that they are a menace to the community. On the other hand, labour is compelled to build up big federations, and solidify its forces ; but while labour is in the field fighting the battle against these combinations of capital, its battle is one for the interests of the whole community, a point which many seem to overlook.
– Are not all combinations fighting a battle for the community ?
– Combinations, -per se, are good, but they can become evil. When combinations of capital, seeking profits, charge unreasonable and unfair prices for their products, prices far above a fair return on the capital invested, it is an evil. Another evil is their greater control over labour, which has forced labour not only to solidify itself, but to secure its industrial interests by means of political action. But most of the platform of the Labour party tends towards the betterment of the community in general. I challenge the Attorney-General to show where the political proposals of Labour aim at other than the welfare of the general community. I am surprised that the Attorney-General should talk about Tammany Hall. That is not a trade union movement. Tammany Hall works things in a variety of ways of which we have nothing in Australia. We have nothing of the use of money to try to bribe men. Why use the term when the things are unlike? To say that, because preference is asked, it is political bribery is a lot of nonsense. We might as well say that the Government employ men for the reason that they are opposed to them politically. No man superintending a job asks how his workers are going to vote. All he wants is good workmen. He does not wish to have trouble, and as he recognises that the men are organized in unions he says, “ You had better all belong to the union, so that there may be no trouble.” The Attorney-General claims that every wage-earner votes for Labour. So that the Government give preference against their own party to those who would use their political funds to oust them. That is just as absurd as saying that giving preference to unionists is political bribery, a claim that is not creditable to men calling themselves statesmen. I have always taken the attitude that the employer should get the best workmen he can, but that he should settle all trouble through the unions. We have already reached a stage in which 98 per cent, of those engaged in any industry are members of the organization connected with the industry, and in some cases all are in the organization. When we have gone further, and have all tradesmen in unions, there will be no supply of antiunion labour available except those belonging to the Independent Workers Union. That is a position that will need to be faced in Australia. Some of the experts from the United States of America have visited Australia, and have had personal communication with active members of the Federated Employers Union, teaching them the points that are used in America. We have experience of some of them. The statement by Mr. Blackwood has already been quoted, and appears in Ilansard. He is a pastoralist, and an active supporter of an organization, which, to call it by its correct name, is a strike-breaking union, or, if required, a strike-producing union. All strikes do not come about through the actions of unions. Some are organized, or produced. That which has been done in America is being introduced in Australia. Let me read from an American magazine called The Survey, dated the 21st March last. It is a paper that deals with a great variety of social subjects. It is not a Labour paper. Recently, there have been some big strikes in the United States of America, and the House will pardon my quoting the comments of this paper, because we have had some experience of a similar kind of thing here. The article is headed *’ Private Detective Agencies and Strikes,” and says -
The Congressional Committee that is investigating the Michigan copper strike brought out some interesting information last week when it had former employes of two detective agencies on the stand. One of them testified that he had been employed to get affidavits from non-union men that they had been assaulted by strikers. He is quoted as saying that he was instructed by the head of the agency employing him to “go the limit” in obtaining affidavits. It was his understanding, he stated, that he was to get them in any manner he could, and “ cover himself up as nicely as possible.”
Henry Batters, another detective, stated that as he and forty-five others were being taken to the strike district, the man in charge of the party told them that he .hoped that “ these boys “ would learn the ropes so that the mine companies would need to hire more mine guards.
Batters stated that these instructions were taken to mean that they were to incite the strikers to acts of violence. He stated that things were done by the detectives to irritate the strikers, and that one detective had fired a shot into a house in order to prove the necessity of having the house guarded.
In the light of this testimony the recommendation of Secretary of Labour Wilson that there be federal regulations on the business of transportation of strikers and armed guards across State lines, takes on a new significance and importance.
In his first annual report Secretary Wilson cites facts in the Colorado strike, the Pere Marquette strike, and the Calumet strike, as pointing to the need for Congress US take action “ within its constitutional limitations to regulate this business in the interest of public peace and order.”
Following this recommendation, Representative Baltz, of Illinois, has introduced a Bill aimed at the use of armed strike-breakers in labour controversies. The Bill would make it unlawful to ship such men, arms, or ammunition from one State to another for the purpose of assisting in or interfering with any labour trouble.
In the time of the shearers’ strike, the rule was that when a pastoralist asked for police protection it was given, hut the pastoralists were expected to pay for the keep of the police; but if a disturbance arose, the Government supplied the police, and the people had to pay for their keep. But newspaper reports of disturbances that never occurred were often brought under the notice of the Commissioner of Police, and police were sent out. This happened a few years ago.
– Yes; at Brisbane the same thing was done.
– Many declared themselves favorable to that course, and howled because the military were not called out.
– Why quote that American incident?
– Because American methods are being introduced into Australia. This quotation deals with the American method of hiring private detec tives to provoke disturbances, and get affidavits from non-unionists to show that their lives were in danger.
– Does that apply here ?
– I try to see what is going on elsewhere. When the Government commence playing with a thing like this, they are not, perhaps, aware of the dangers that lie in it. Now that people are beginning to read for themselves, they are readily unionists in spirit, and very rarely is a man found who is an antiunionist. When he is found, we have reason to suspect that he is one of the enemy. We have under observation some who, we believe, are in the pay of the Employers Federation. We believe that they are emissaries from the Employers Federation, paid to get a footing and positions in unions in order to promote trouble. If the honorable member for New England knew anything about the matter, he would know that employers frequently benefit by strikes. It is notorious that when they get a stockedup market, they get up a strike. They make a profit all the time. These big combinations of capital control everything, and strikes are provoked by them because they pay. When a difficulty arises in consequence of the action of a body of men whose rules provide that they will not work with non-members, and a fight is put up, the chances are that it is one of these persons who is causing the trouble. We have a strikebreakers’ union in our midst, and the Prime Minister has .given it his countenance; I refer to Packer’s “Union, which is subsidized by the Employers Federation. One section of it gets £6 for every £1 raised by the members, and the other £2. That has been openly admitted; the Employers Federation has boasted of it. The Attorney-General worked himself into a passion at the idea of men being compelled to join a union in order to get a job, but the boycotting of men who are unionists has by no means died out. I have had personal experience of it, and many others I know have been through the mill. Personally, I am not sorry for what happened in my own case. The late Mr. John Sampson, the worthy father of the honorable member for Wimmera, suffered because he was president of a union. I know that, because I fought the battle with him. He was not given a chance to work.
– Was that at. Creswick ?
– Yes. Another old man, Tom Phillips, was starved out of the district, though he was one of the finest men alive. Why did that happen? Because a newspaper report put into his mouth two words that he had never uttered, and the combined mining companies turned against him. We were not strong enough then to straighten them out, though we did so later. It has only been by coercion that the workers have obtained decent payment and conditions from the employers. The big commercial people care nothing for life or limb, so long as they can make money. The AttorneyGeneral, who is indignant when we ask for preference to unionists, has nothing to say in denunciation of the boycotting of unionists. No union ever prevents a man from getting a job; every union welcomes members. If there is any entrance-fee, they will pay it in advance, but in most cases there is none. The aim is to get all the workers into unions, because when that has come about there will be no non-union labour to draw on if the workers are forced back, as this Government wants to force them back, to the old methods of settling disputes. If there is a fight, it will be the biggest industrial upheaval they have ever seen. Honorable members opposite are trying for it, and may get it. They have lost sight of the big issues involved, and apparently do not know the danger of making these questions mere party matters. Of what concern is it whether this Government stays in office three or six years if they will tackle the bigger questions; but we cannot get them to do that? The big employers’ organizations drove a number of active unionists out of Queensland. Some of them went to Western Australia, and did well there. All that preference to unionists means is that a man must join a union to get a job. If he will not join, he must walk away. But the employing classes will not allow ti lose to whom they object to get employment within the radius of their influence, which, by reason of their Federation, is being extended all over the Commonwealth, so that men may be starved out altogether. Those who have been through the mill know what a serious thing this is. Tom Phillips had a family of eleven, and had built up a home, but he was driven away because of things that he had not said. I have known of pastoralists on the road to Ballarat, and in the Western District, coercing unionists. . Although the Australian Workers Union has been twenty-eight years in operation, and employers ought to know its power, some of them have yet much to learn. In one case, two station employes were dismissed for serving notice of a claim in connexion with the statement of a dispute for peaceful settlement in the Arbitration Court. The proper legal course was taken to enable the Court to adjudicate, and in that case we were able to have matters straightened out. It cost the employer £50, and others may be a little more careful in the future. Honorable members opposite have nothing to say against the refusal to allow a man to work because he is a unionist. A Bill to stop that sort of thing would be doing good work. Fortunately, the arbitration law enables us to prevent many cases of tyranny. The “ union shop “ idea is extending, and many employers who have given preference to unionists find that they thus get together a team of good men, and can carry on their work peacefully. The honorable member for Calare wanted to know who were the best men ? The answer is simple. Employers try to get the best workmen available. They have a right to do so. But it is those who are in work who contribute to the union funds, because they are the men whom we organize. We do not look for contributions from men who are out of work. Consequently, it is the best men who are unionists. In some of the unions of the Old Country, especially in the technical trades, only first-class workers are admitted. Some of the unionists in the metal trades in the Old World are the most highly skilled men of their class in the world, and nave gone through proper courses of training. It is only in a few trades that that can be insisted on, though the unions recognise skill and ability, and stand by it. I have seen plenty of employers who do not know what is good work. They could not do what they require of their men, but they never admit that a man is a good workman. It used to be said by the employers that they were willing to pay good wages to good men, but when it was possible to pay low wages to men who were called inferior, it was found that all the’ workers were classed by the employers as inferior. We had to put a stop to that. The Bill is purposely misleading. I sup- pose the Liberal party wishes to be able to appeal to the farmers by showing that they have attempted to crush unionism, which is going to demand fair rates and proper conditions for the rural workers. The Attorney-General said that the object of the Bill was to crush at its inception the system of spoils to the victors. He should go to the United States of America to see what happens there. The cartoons which are published whenever a new President is to be elected show thousands of persons waiting at the White House for jobs in this and the other Departments of Government, ‘ the personnel of the Public Service being changed with every President, That is the spoils to the victors system. Does the AttorneyGeneral denounce it as a wicked thing?
– Yes. They are trying to get rid of it in America, with more or less success.
– The Attorney-General says that it is a wicked thing. Therefore, the American nation, great as we thought it to be, is composed of wicked and foolish people, its Constitution favoring methods and practices which are known as the spoils to the victors system. There was no word of denunciation of that system when the AttorneyGeneral spoke, though he had fault to find with the instruction given by an exMinister that in certain cases preference should be granted to unionists. That he declared to be the spoils to the victors system.
– H. Irvine.; - Does the honorable member approve of that system ?
– I am not ‘ now discussing the American Constitution. To bear out his contention that preference to unionists means spoils to the victors, the honorable gentleman should show that those who give the preference benefit in some way. Those who are appointed receive from the Government only wages, for which they work very hard. There is nothing gained by those who make the appointments. If it were a case of spoils to the victors, Ministers and members on the Government side would gain some advantage. Any men who are given Government employment are engaged by public officials, and the Minister in charge of the Department which employs them does not know their names, or where they live. They are men who are already in the country, their political opinions are their own, and they vote according to those opinions, whether they work for a private employer or for the Government. I am surprised at the Attorney-General’s statement, because he did not show that spoils go to anybody. The only point he could get back to was that if the Labour Government were in power the unionists would get preference over the non-unionists. It does not make any difference whether a Labour Government or any other Government are in power; the unionists must get the work in any case. Therefore, where do spoils to the victors come in? No addition is made to the voting power of the country by giving preference to unionists. What sort of logic is this to come from an intelligent man ? The honorable member said that a man must have the brand of the union on him. For once the honorable member became excited. We rather admire his cool head, and, undoubtedly, his prominence at the Bar is largely due to his having a cool head, and his wits always about him. But when he made that statement, he lost his head. The AttorneyGeneral knows something about unionism, and he knows that no brand is put on any one; he knows, further, that this Bill will not make any difference. The same refusal to work with non-unionists will happen under this Bill as at present. Every man is welcome to join a union, and, therefore, there is no such thing as unions condemning men to starve. On the other hand, the capitalistic crowd have, in the past, been watching for opportunities to put trade unionism down, and, if they had the power, to kill it. It has been said by Ministerial supporters that it is only the political aspect of the unions that they object to. Most of the unions do not touch politics. Several big organizations certainly do not ; and’ yet the Attorney-General would shut out members of all unions, because the Bill refers to “ any political or industrial association.” Some unions are proud of being political, because by political methods they have improved the industrial situation ; indeed, it is only by political methods that an improvement can be effected. I propose to make a quotation from some remarks by Mr. Justice Higgins. Every one must admit that since he has been President of the Arbitration Court he has been very closely in touch with the trade union movement, and he has heard evidence from both sides. In his judgment in the Engine-drivers and Firemen’s case His Honour expressed these views on the economic aspect of trade unionism -
It ought to be frankly admitted that, as a rule, the economic position of the individual employe1 is too weak for him to hold his own in the unequal contest. He is unable to insist on the “ fair thing.” The power of the employer to withhold bread is a much more effective weapon than the power of the employe to refuse to labour. Freedom of contract, under such circumstances is surely misnamed; it should rather be called despotism in contract; and the Court is empowered to fix a minimum wage as a check on the despotic power. The fact that the Court is not also empowered to fix a minimum wage (as under the Elizabethan laws) is a recognition of the difference in the position of the contracting parties.
I think it is important to continue this statement by Mr. Justice Higgins in regard to the claim for preference. His Honour has given preference in one case only, and that was where the employers declined to pledge themselves not to-dis-‘ criminate as between unionists and nonunionists. In other cases he has refused to give preference ; . and in this case, to which I have referred, he gave his reasons in these words -
The claimant asks me to direct preference in my award - to direct that, as between members of the claimant organization and other persons desiring employment, preference shall be given by the employer to the members, “ other things being equal.” The Act, section 40, contemplates clearly the granting of preference in proper cases; and, as I read the Act, the subject of preference need not even have been one of the subjects in dispute. But what is a proper case f On what principle is preference to be granted or refused? The Act gives me no direct guidance.: but the main considerations that appeal to my mind would be - (1) is the order necessary or conducive to industrial peace; and (2) will it aid the Court by encouraging unionism, or by preventing injustice to unionists? It must not be forgotten that one of the objects of the Act is to “ facilitate and encourage the organization “ of unions cf employers and employes (section 3) ; for without such organization - at all events, on the side of the employes - the arbitration system and the industrial agreements are unworkable. The Act does not allow individual employe’s to present to the Court their grievances ; and it makes the funds of the union liable for breaches of the award. It may seem very shocking in some quarters, but it is my clear duty, in obedience to the law, to treat unionism as a desirable aid in securing industrial peace. Now, there is much force, one must confess, in the position taken by the claimant here, and by J. Cohen, in his judgment in the Trolley and Draymen’s case (1905), A. R. (N.S.W.), pp. 44-45, that the union men have to fight for non-unionists, as well as for themselves in the efforts to obtain better terms from the em- ployers; that the unions have to pay subscriptions and levies, sacrifice time and energy, and (not infrequently) their employment; and that the non-unionists often assist the employer against the unionists in the struggle, and yet come in and enjoy the fruits of the unionists’ exertions and sacrifices. All the union asks is that, where other things are equal, the employer should be ordered to take a unionist in preference. A priori, one would think that, as between two men of equal qualifications, one a unionist and the other a non-unionist, an employer would be inclined, after a struggle in this Court or elsewhere, to employ the nonunionist as being more docile and helpless, and as not being protected by the award, and that he would be inclined to punish men who have been active for the union. This morning’s newspapers afford an instance of alleged discrimination against such men. The claimant wants to check any such practice; and its fear is by no means unwarranted. Preference has been conceded, in a guarded form, by the Southern and Western Colliery proprietors and several others, and by the Newcastle collieries award (not for miners), and by other awards. But I am very loth to interfere with the employers’ absolute discretion in choosing his employes without the employer’s consent, or some very strong necessity. This absolute power of choice is one of the recommendations of the minimum wage system, from the employer’s point of view - he can select the best men available when he has to pay a certain rate. This freedom of choice tends to the efficiency of the industry, bracing up the men to show their powers. Moreover, I find in this case, at present, no disposition or wish on the part of these employers to discriminate as against unionists. There is a general desire among the employers who have given evidence to be fair and to get the best men that they can at the price. The burden of proof lies on the claimant to show that preference ought to be granted, and that burden has not yet been satisfied. But circumstances may change: further facts may disclose unfair treatment of unionists; and my refusal to grant preference on the evidence before me is without prejudice to any application which may be made for the granting of preference after the award, under section 40, or to any application to vary the award under section 38 (o). Those words declare the attitude of the Court, namely, that there would be no preference to unionists awarded if the employers would pledge themselves not -to make any discrimination against unionists. In the majority of cases that come before the Court, the unions are so strong that they can practically enforce preference; but His Honour told the unions that if they found that there was discrimination made against them, and that men were made to suffer because of being unionists, they could come to the Court again, and he would consider the whole case. There is something behind this Bill that is apt to be serious. The Government have declared themselves opposed to any kind of preference, and they are prepared to have the provision for preference to unionists struck out of the Arbitration Act. We say that that is a distinct attack on unionism. I have previously quoted from some of the greatest writers of the Old World to show how much the industrial situation has been improved by the efforts of unionism. In this Bill the Government are undoubtedly making a definite and direct blow at unionism, although they had no occasion to meddle with the question at all. If they wanted something on which to have a row with another Chamber and to appeal to the people, they could have brought in some big measure. This professed desire on the part of the Government to go to the country is somewhat surprising. I do not believe that their followers are so anxious to go before the people, because the people might not be in a very satisfactory mood when they do go. It is not creditable for the Government to raise a big constitutional issue over a small Bill like this, which has as its essence the striking of a blow at big industrial organizations.
– Give us something from Mr. Secretary Wilson, of the United States.
– In the United States there is a big struggle in progress, and that struggle is beginning, in Australia. We are welding the organizations together to meet the trouble when it does arise. The honorable member for Calare asked to-day . whether we would give the vote to unionists only. That is a nice question to come from a Conservative, when the whole history of the Conservative party has been a denial of the vote to the workmen at all. The Liberal party, which is a branch of the Conservatives, is denying votes to the workers in Queensland, and giving them .votes of an unequal value in South Australia, and the same thing has been proposed in Victoria. They give preference to Liberals in all their works. Whoever heard of a Labour man receiving a Government position from a Liberal Ministry ? The question asked by the honorable member for Calare is ridiculous. Who but the Labour party fought for universal suffrage? ‘ lt was not the Conservative party. Honorable members have a queer conscience when they ask us if we would do that sort of thing. The Labour movement is not going backwards, but forwards. If it ever goes backwards, or even halts in its progress, we hope that it may be wiped out politically, and that another movement will come to take its place. The Labour party is going to fight its battles in its own way, and to go right through as it has always done. The Attorney-General must realize that all laws are not made in Parliament. Organizations outside Parliament, such as trade unions, churches, and other bodies; are all in themselves lawmakers. I he Attorney-General is constantly appealing to what the law of the country says; but if we had always stood by the law, we would have made very little progress. The honorable member says the unions are not industrial organizations, but are going in for legislation, and he contends that such organizations ought to be jumped upon and given no consideration, and that they ought to be prohibited from appealing to the Arbitration Court at all. Does not the Attorney-General see where he is driving the trade union movement, and that if he persists he must compel it to resort to the old. method of settling industrial disputes, and to become better organized than ever before. We shall then see whether the mere money-holders - the holders of creditin the books of the banks - can fightbetter than can the doers of things - the men who produce and supply what the people require. Does the AttorneyGeneral desire anything of the sort? Leaders of the trade union movement have been struggling and fighting very often against the views of members of their own organizations, to induce them to accept certain settlements offered them. We have had trouble in inducing them to accept the terms of certain settlements, because of their unfortunate experience in other cases. This Bill can tend only to bring discredit upon the Government; if they desired to obtain a double dissolution, and to go to the country, they should have resorted to some other means of achieving their object.
.- I ask the Attorney-General to agree to the adjournment of the debate, more especially as the members of his own party appear to be tired.
– We cannot adjourn for an hour or more.
– What about bringing iu some of the supporters of the Government to listen to the honorable member? I fail to see why we should keep a House for the Liberals.
– It is somewhat remarkable that members of the Ministry and those who sit behind them for the most part appear to be unprepared to listen to what is to be said regarding this Bill to which they profess to attach so much importance. The Government cannot feelflattered by the attitude of their supporters. We were told that on the reintroduction of this Bill we should hear from many members of the Ministry. So far, however, the Attorney-General alone has spoken, and we were constrained to draw certain conclusions from the heat and passion that he displayed.
– I think that this debate is worthy of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Neither the Treasurer, the Postmaster-General, nor the Minister of External Affairs has yet dealt with this Bill. We certainly expect to hear from the Prime Minister. We are told that the Bill is likely to bring about a double dissolution ; but if the GovernorGeneral studies the debate I do not think he will attach any value to the proposal. We are told, further, that it is of national importance, and that it will provide better conditions for many of the people. Members of the Cabinet, however, with one exception, have refrained from giving expression to their opinions upon the Bill, and we can honestly conclude that it is not worth the paper on which it is printed. It is not likely to have any influence upon the people. I am thoroughly convinced that the Government are not sincere in their professions as to its ultimate result.
– Order !
– The position of the Government is very weak, and if they desire a dissolution they can secure one apart altogether from the acceptance or rejection of this Bill. We know very well, however, that they are by no means anxious to make an appeal to the people. During the last election campaign I do not think that we heard much from the Prime Minister regarding preference to unionists. He was not then disposed to discuss the question, nor did he seem to think then that any great evil attached to the granting of preference to unionists in connexion with Government works. As soon as he was returned to power, however, he discovered that a measure of this kind was necessary. On taking office, the present Government could have abolished, by administrative order, the system of preference to unionists on Government works which had been introduced by their predecessors. They were able to do that without the aid of a measure of this description, and why the members of this Parliament should have been brought here from every State of Australia to rehearse once more a farce of this kind is entirely beyond my comprehension. If the Government persist in their present attitude, this session will be as barren as was the last. We shall remain here three or four months, or, perhaps, until the end of the year, and have but little to show in respect of the work with which the Government professed when before the electors their anxiety to deal.
– They are wasting public time.
– They are wasting public money wilfully by hanging up the business of the country.
– The honorable member is not in order in making that assertion.
– Then I shall say that the Government are not displaying any anxiety to bring forward useful legislation. It is open to them to submit much useful legislation which would not be likely to receive such opposition as that with which this Bill has had to contend. They decided long before the House met, however, to introduce this Bill, and to challenge the Opposition upon it. They ask that it be given a free passage through the House, in order that the sincerity of their professed desire to go to the country may be tested. We should be glad to give them that opportunity, but I fear that even if we passed this Bill without any opposition, the Government would find some other obstacle in the way of their going to the country. We know that they are anxious to remain where they are as long as they can. They have fluked into office. They found it difficult to get there, and nothing will shift them from it.
– We, too, are strongly of the opinion that nothing will shift them.
– We need no assurance from the honorable member as to that, for we know that the Government are anxious to stop where they are. Within the last few days the Age - one of the leading newspapers in the Commonwealth - which supported the Fusion party at the last election, has expressed the opinion that they have not observed their election pledges. It tells them in plain language that they have not been faithful . to their promises, and are not attempting to carry out the platform upon which they were elected. The Government cannot feel very comfortable under this criticism, knowing as they do that but for the assistance which the Age gave them they would not be in office to-day.
– I cannot connect the honorable member’s remarks with the motion before the Chair.
– My point is that this Bill was not included in the policy of the Government as put before the people. It is entirely unnecessary, and its passage through this Parliament is likely -to take a considerable time. We may be charged with delaying the business of the country, but such an accusation should rightly be levelled at the Government themselves. The Government evidently do not desire to carry out their pledges, and have not introduced one item of legislation mentioned during the campaign or indicated in their declared policy in the first session. My own opinion is that we shall go through this session without the introduction of one of the measures they promised should be introduced. This Bill before us is giving trade unionism one of the best advertisements it has ever received in Australia; but it is the duty of honorable members on this side to oppose it, irrespective of consequences. Even if it becomes law it will create nothing, add nothing, take away nothing, because the power it professes to give the Government already possess. Why should the affairs of the country be hung up in this disgraceful manner by a measure which has no significance? What may be said by our leading men, especially by the members of the Government, may not be long remembered by the people, but the acts of public men are always remembered, and the connexion of the Liberal party with this attempt to destroy preference to unionists will not be forgotten. The measure is a fair indication of what the Government and their supporters would do if they had the power, and there is no doubt that, if they could, they would sweep away all the preference and privileges that unionists enjoy to-day.
– Is that any argument against this Bill ?
– I do not expect the honorable member for Wilmot to understand the question, for, while he may know something about his own union, he knows nothing about industrial unionism. As I was saying, the Government, if they had the power, would give us something very much more drastic than the measure before us. At the present time there are many unions which enjoy preference without the aid of the law, but simply because they are strong bodies, recognised by the employers. It would be interesting to hear from the Government what they expect this Bill to effect, but, so far, not one honorable member opposite has addressed himself to this question. Will it create any new conditions - will it banish despondency or make a sluggish people brave and free ? A newspaper the other day described the measure .as a “ corpse,” and no better description could be applied to it. I am afraid that the Government will have great difficulty in breathing any life into the “ corpse,” and not one member of the Government has had the grace to come prepared with a few roses for the funeral. Altogether, I fancy that the Bill is going to get very short shrift. It is realized by the people that it is introduced for the sole purpose of trying to create trouble - of trying to show that our Constitution is so weak that a dead-lock and a double dissolution can easily be brought about. This may be the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral, but his opinions in this regard are not likely to be accepted generally. The honorable gentleman stated that the Bill will destroy the principle of “ spoils to the victors,” but he did not tell us in what regard that principle operated when the Fisher Government were in power.
– It has been proved over and over again in the course of the debate.
– There has been no proof, but merely wild statements without foundation ; and this is a clear indication that facts and proof are wanting. There is evidence, however, as to what the present Government have done in connexion with the dismissal of the late Administrator of Lands in the Northen Territory. When that gentleman was uppointed by the late Government, our friends opposite said that the office was unnecessary, hut we find that not only has the place been filled, but that two additional officers have been provided. Yet they talk of spoils to the victors. They talk of spoils to the victors, because they have been accustomed to them for such a number of years that they cannot understand the position when the privilege is taken away from them for a while. They are anxious to get back to the position they occupied previously in days when the workers were humiliated and kept down. Immediately the Fisher Government assumed control the position of workers throughout .Australia improved, and the spending powers of the nation - became greater through the improved position of the workers.
– The honorable member is somewhat wide of the question .
– Many of these men owe their present position to obtaining preference to unionists. The honorable member for Wimmera made many charges, but he was not in the happy position of being able to give concrete proof of any. He said that he could prove cases of spoils to the victors in connexion with the Fisher Administration, but we have had no concrete evidence of any case that occurred during that period.
– We have had it from the documents in the Department presided over by your own Minister, and they have been quoted in the House.
– The honorable member knows that that is not correct.
– It is strange that the honorable member would not produce them, seeing that he was most anxious to advertise the actions of the late Government he said was guilty of that kind of thing. The Attorney-General has claimed that no part of the platform of the Labour party dealt with preference to unionists, but I would point out that it is not necessary to include a paragraph of that description. Any union, when it is numerically strong enough, is in the happy position of being able to ask for, and obtain, preference to any member, and it is not necessary for the union to look to the law to provide that privilege. The Attorney-General knows very well that unionists do not look for privileges to which they imagine they are justly entitled, and that it is only when they are numerically strong enough that they ask for and can obtain preference. The waterside workers have had preference for a great number of years, while for a very lengthy period the butchers have had it. One of the latest unions - the Australian Journalists Association - has obtained, not exactly preference all over Australia, but certainly preference in the capitals. They recognised that the conditions under which many newspaper men have to work were very bad, that their hours were long, and their pay was small, and they found it necessary to form themselves into a union to get better pay and shorter hours, and were not long before they were in the happy position to obtain, almost at the asking, preference to members of the association. If they do not receive it absolutely throughout the Commonwealth, they are becoming so strong, and so perfect in their organization, that very soon they must obtain it all over Australia. The Attorney-General asks that the Labour party should be judged by their actions, and not by their words. The people do judge us by our actions. We are not in the same happy position as honorable members of the Government. Our speeches are not conveyed to the people by aid of the press, and the only evidence that we can give the people is by our actions in Parliament, and by the good work of members of the Labour party in Australian Parliaments, which has caused the ranks of our party to be so greatly swelled that trade unionism is in the happy position that it occupies to-day. The Attorney-General may imagine that the people are not satisfied with the work performed by the Labour party, but we are content in the belief that they are satisfied, as can be judged by the decisions given at elections. We were not as successful at the last election as we would have liked to be, but we hope that at the election that it is said will soon take place, we may be able to fully assure the Attorney-General that the people are well satisfied with us, and that the action of the Labour party in this House has given thorough satisfaction to the community. We shall probably come back stronger than we were prior to the last election. The Attorney-General spoke of compulsory unionism, and after citing the statement made by the honorable member for Boothby, he said that it was the intention of honorable members on this side of the House to compel every person to
Join a union of some description. The honorable gentleman must have been speaking for his own union. Much as we -desire that every artisan should become a member of a union, it is not the intention of members of the Labour party to compel any man to join a union if he does not desire to do so.
– You do not wish them to work if they do not join.
– The Attorney-General knows perfectly well that it is not the intention of the Labour party to .bring forward legislation to compel every member of the community to become a member of a union if he does not desire it. This is only one of the things the AttorneyGeneral had to say, because he found that his case in connexion with this Bill was so weak. He spoke on the Bill for about an hour, but cautiously avoided telling us what it would do. Although he had qualified for the leadership of his political party, he had not the courage to try for the prize, knowing that his association with other measures of this description had made him unpopular. He may rule the caucus meetings of his party, but his power in Cabinet may not be so great. His association with measures of this kind during his State political career prevented him from competing for the leadership of his party; but, apparently, the caucus decided that he was so well acquainted with the needs of the workers that he was the Minister who should have control of the Bill in this House. Speaking at St. Kilda recently, he said that a great compliment had been paid to him by allowing him to do this; and he told his audience that it would be a great pleasure to him to put the preference collar on the Opposition. He also said that he was prepared to take away the. maternity allowance, and to allocate the money in such a way as to provide for the education of the workers.
– The honorable member may not refer to that matter.
– The AttorneyGeneral told his audience at St. Kilda that the Labour party had not sufficient thought for the workers, and that, although anxious to secure preference for unionists, it was not concerned about providing money for the proper education of the workers. He said what he would do with certain funds if he were able to repeal a certain Act.
– The discussion of this matter is not relevant.
– I do not think that the Attorney-General was able by his speech, when moving the second reading of the Bill, to convince even his most ardent supporters that the measure is needed. He may have won .fame in his profession by his power to compel Judges and juries to think with him, but he cannot compel members of this House to agree with him that this Bill is necessary, or that it will do anything. If it would increase the wages of the workers, .or shorten their hours, the position would be different. Members of the Government who spoke this afternoon had something to say about the British Empire and the position of little children in England years ago, but said little about the Bill. Preference to unionists has done much for the workers of the Commonwealth and of the world. Australia leads the nations in industrial matters. Our workers, by their energy and organization, have improved their position in many ways, and it is our duty to oppose a measure which would prohibit preference to unionists. The introduction of this Bill shows what the Government would do if it were sufficiently powerful; and Government supporters will find it difficult to explain their position.
– Suppose every one joined a union.
– Is not the honorable member in a union, and is he not satisfied with it?
– Certainly not.
– The honorable member for Robertson endeavoured .to institute a comparison between the union which is represented by the honorable member for Werriwa and that which is represented by the honorable member .for West Sydney. He said that men had to be tested before they were permitted to join the Lawyers Union. I know of many lawyers who certainly ought not to have been admitted to that union judging by the advice which they have tendered clients ‘from time to time. “If men are to be tested from the stand-point of their physical strength before they are permitted to join the Wharf Labourers Union, they certainly ought to be tested as to their mental qualifications before they are admitted to the Lawyers Union. I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
.- It has often been said that one may shoot one’s arrows at the moon and possibly hit the housetop. I am going to shoot my arrows, not at the lunar object, but at the gentleman who is somewhat “ mooney,” so far as his own position is concerned in regard to this Bill. I refer to the AttorneyGeneral. I do not know who is the Leader of this House, but, inasmuch as the Bill has been placed before us by the Attorney-General, I fear that he is, and that the Honorable Joseph Cook, who is out of the House, is merely a deputy. I would like to ask why the supposed Leader of the House is not in his seat when we are considering a question involving such large constitutional issues? I do wish that the Government Whip would get away from your chair, Mr. Speaker, because I desire your attention. I do not want the Government Whip to interfere with you.
– Order !
– I respectfully say that when I am upon my feet-
– Will the honorable member address himself to the Bill?
– I will; but I have a right to protest against anybody addressing you whilst I am on my feet.
– Order! That is a matter for the Speaker to determine. There are matters connected with the business of the House in regard to which it is often necessary that honorable members should consult the Speaker. It is not for any honorable member to take exception to that. It is unavoidable.
– I take it that when I am upon my feet I am the most important person in this chamber.
– Order ! Will the honorable member address himself to the Bill?
– I will. The AttorneyGeneral has brought forward a motion which is very definite in its purpose, and he is evidently determined to carry it, if he possibly can. In these circumstances I desire to know what his own utterances have been upon this question of preference to unionists? I should like to ask him some questions in regard to it, although I know that he will give me no answer to them.
– It will be very interesting to hear the questions.
– I am referring to the question of the prohibition of preference to unionists. Upon that subject the hon orable gentleman has expressed himself in the most pronounced terms. Only the other day I was greatly surprised when I saw his cold, calculating personality disappear, when I noted that the iceberg was dissolving, and that heat was being evolved. It actually came to the table, and called upon the spirit of its ancestors. I thought at the time the AttorneyGeneral was speaking of that splendid utterance in the Pirates of Penzance, in which the major goes to commune with his ancestors. “ I do not know whose ancestors they were,” he said, “ but I bought them with the property.” The Attorney-General has said very mud . in connexion with trade unionism, its purposes, and its methods. He has said much of what it does, and what it ought to do. I have here a little paper which will, perhaps, help him to an understanding of what trade unionism means in New South Wales. He has told us how we spend our funds. He has urged that we are political partisans, inasmuch as we spend our union funds for political purposes. This document I received as late as yesterday from the Registrar in New South Wales. This is not the first occasion on which the House has dealt with this matter, but I wish to bring it down to bedrock. I desire to show what is required by the Registrar in New South Wales in regard to the funds of unions. This form is headed “Annual return as prescribed by Registrar for year ended 31st December, 1913.” The next heading is “ General Financial Statement.” Then there are two columns setting out the receipts and expenditure, and the following particulars are required in regard to receipts : -
Amount of funds at the beginning of the year, as per last year’s balance-sheet.
Fines and levies.
Contributions to general fund, sick fund, accident fund, funeral fund, superannuation fund, out of employment fund, other benefit funds (to be specified).
Interest received during the year on funds invested.
Emblems, rules, cards, &c, sold.
Contributions from other trade unions (to be specified).
That covers the receipts of the whole of the trade unions in New South Wales. I heard the honorable member for Calare stating that in the Old Country union funds were spent in certain ways, and, by implication, that they were not spent in the same manner in Australia. He particularly referred to the sick and accident benefits. Here are the details of expenditure to be furnished annually by every union in New South Wales -
In the face of such a document, will the Attorney-General still say that the funds which come from the hands of unionists cannot be traced, and that the amounts spent in political fighting cannot be sheeted home? I challenge him to say that in the majority of unions in New South Wales any money is spent in connexion with political fighting. I will place this return on the table, so that the honorable member may, if he desires, look through it.
– It refers to other moneys spent. If Ministers will apply themselves to the return of the expenditure of trade union funds in New South Wales they will be compelled to admit that little or nothing is spent for political purposes.
– Are all the unions regis-, tired ?
– Yes, they are compelled by law to be registered, and if that return is not sent in annually they are liable to a penalty of £20.
– Only those who register fill in the returns.
– But they are all obliged to register. I venture to say that out of twenty-one unions in New South Wales twenty are registered. An attempt has been made by members on the Government side to show that union funds are being spent for political purposes, and I say that is not so, except in a few cases. I will admit that some organizations do apply some of their funds to political purposes, but those organizations are few indeed. I wish we had power to apply our funds more largely than we do to such purposes, but the sorry fact is that our people are not alive to the needs of political organization to the extent that would permit them to apply their funds to that field of effort which would give a larger and better result. The Attorney-General said that no unions or leagues had asked for preference to unionists. I have here, tinder date of February, 1914, the rules, regulations, and purposes of the Australian Labour party, as expressed in New South Wales through the Political Labour Leagues. When the honorable member made his statement, I told him he was not correct, and I find in clause 17 of these rules -
The clause requiring effective preference to Unionists to he amended to read absolute preference to unionists. The legal proffession _ to be excluded from wages boards and Arbitration Courts.
I hope the Attorney-General will take those two recommendations into consideration. He will see that by the great political labour bodies of New South Wales absolute preference to unionists is claimed.
– What is the date of those rules?
– One thousand nine hundred and fourteen.
– My point was that, until the late Government adopted preference to unionists in Government employment, the principle had never been claimed by any of the Labour parties.
– I can take the honorable member back some few years and show him the same thing.
– I do not wish to be misunderstood. The Labour Conferences, I understand, have had in their programme a general claim for preference to unionists
– An absolute claim.
– But not a claim for preference to unionists in Government employment.
– We claim absolute preference to unionists, whether they be in Government or private employment.
– Not discretionary - not a judicial preference - but absolute?
– Absolute preference.
– It is not suggested that the Government should give preference to unionists?
– There is no suggestion, but an absolute claim, that preference to unionists shall be given throughout trade and commerce, wherever unionism exists, and whether it be in Government employment or elsewhere. That is the position we take up.
– Since the late Government took action.
– No; we have claimed it for years.
– In 1911 it was expressly disclaimed here.
– I should be pleased if the Prime Minister would give me leave to continue to-morrow.
– But are we going home as soon as we adjourn this debate, or is there to be another debate?
– We are going home, so far as I am concerned.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Censure Motion in the Senate -
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Is it the intention of the Government to continue the debate on the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, in view of the fact that a motion of censure has been lodged in the Senate?
– Order !
.- On 15th May, I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs -
The answers given by the Minister to my questions were as follow : - 1 and 2. No. The Queensland State Government, in common with other State Governments, was only requested to renew the contract for the supply of stores, &c, for lighthouses during that period, that when the lights are taken over the services will be provided for.
I want to read a statement made by the Acting Premier - the Honorable W. H. Barnes - and published in the Brisbane press, which is so highly contradictory-
– Was that statement made before or after the answer given by me in this House?
– I have written to Mr. Barnes calling his attention to my answer in the House. I think that he made the statement under a misapprehension as to the purport of my letter. I am prepared to show the honorable member the letter which I wrote.
– I shall allow the matter to rest until I have seen the correspondence.
.- I make no apology for bringing before the House this evening the very urgent necessity that exists for the Commonwealth Parliament expressing an opinion upon the question of woman suffrage. I was greatly disappointed this afternoon to learn that the Prime Minister had made no response to the appeal sent to him by the Women’s Political Association of Victoria. The honorable gentleman was asked merely to submit to this House a resolution expressing approval of woman suffrage. The letter in which that request was preferred was written in very respectful terms, and placed the position before the Prime Minister as completely as would a speech of several hours’ duration. I propose to read the letter, which is as follows -
Women’s Political Assocn. of Victoria (Non-Party) .
Affiliated to the international Woman Suffrage Alliance. 20th May, 1914.
To the Hon. the Prime Minister,
The enclosed resolution was passed at a public meeting held last night at the Auditorium, and we now make a direct appeal to you to help us in our efforts, as enfranchised women, to help our English sisters to get the vote and stop the terrible tortures of their souls and bodies that is permitted by the English Government because they dare to rise against the daily degradation of women and children of the character of the revolting case reported in this morning’s Age. Women have the vote here, and can work constitutionally to secure reforms that will deal with the sex lunatics, but English women have no such constitutional weapons. Consequently they are driven to use unconstitutional weapons.
We realize that your Government would be unwilling to speak against the English Government’s method of meeting the political situation created by the women, but the resolution we ask for would be merely a favorable expression of opinion in regard to women suffrage in Australia similar to that passed in 1910 by both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament.
We would remind you, if necessary, that there are other and more forcible precedents for the action we desire, namely the resolutions passed by the Commonwealth Parliament on -
Employment of Chinese on the Rand,
Dogger Bank incident,
These questions were of a highly controver sial character. The one we ask you to deal with is one of abstract justice, to which Australia is committed.
The women’s deputation will wait on the King on the 21st inst. If a resolution were -cabled to-morrow it would arrive in time to -make an eloquent appeal to Mr. Asquith.
Surely that was a small request to make ! The Women’s Political Association say that they do not ask this Government to make any criticism of the actions of the Liberal Government in the Old Country, but merely to pass a resolution expressing approval of woman’s suffrage in Australia.
– The people of Australia know that my honorable friends opposite approve of woman’s suffrage, but that is not so well known in the Old Country.
– Oh !
– The women in the Old Country have tried to get the ruling Government to interest themselves in this question, but they have found very little response on the part of the members of the House of Commons and the members of the House of Lords, and now ‘they propose to go to the King as the representative of the British people, and to ask His Majesty to intervene on their behalf, and try to induce members of Parliament to grant them the suffrage. A resolution passed by this House would, without a doubt, have some influence upon His Majesty the King in this regard. But if it is too late to do that now, it will not be too late if the Prime Minister will consent to propose a motion to the House in a week, or even a fortnight, from this date. I submit that the women of Australia are entitled to have a request of this kind considered. I firmly believe that the Women’s Political Association of Victoria is representative of the opinion of the women of the Commonwealth, and surely the latter have a right to ask the Prime Minister for a resolution of this kind to be passed here.
– Seeing that they have not a representative in Parliament.
– So far there are no women who have succeeded in gaining entrance to this representative assembly. They may find a place here some day, but they are not here yet. It is very ungracious of the Prime Minister to refuse this modest request. Let us take, for example, the question of Home Rule. We know that it is a very contentious question. We believe that a majority of the people in Australia are in favour of Home Rule, but we know also that there is a very active, if not a numerically strong, body who are opposed to it. But this Parliament considered the question, and passed a resolution in favour of it, and the resolution was sent to the Imperial Parliament. Again, there was the question of the employment of Chinese on the Rand. Surely, if we are entitled to discuss a matter of that kind, and send a resolution on the subject to the Old Country, we are entitled to pass a motion that our experience of - women’s suffrage in Australia has been of the most acceptable kind. Then there was the question of the Dogger Bank. We rushed into that matter. We started in to condemn Russia because her ships, unfortunately, in a moment of panic or something of that kind, had fired on some fishing boats at the Dogger Bank. We passed a resolution on that occasion. There was a more contentious question still, perhaps, and that was the question of the Coronation oath. We passed a resolution asking for an alteration in its terms.
– I hope that that was not contentious.
– There were some people in Australia who objected to the terms of the Coronation oath being altered.
– Do you know anybody who objected ?
– There was an objection, as the honorable member must know, if he remembers the occasion when the resolution was passed here. As Miss Goldstein says, there are plenty of precedents for this House passing a resolution of this character. If the women of the United Kingdom are to be treated as they have been treated during the past two years, it will not be long before the Empire goes to pieces. In a poem, Shelley talks of the men of England. I think that some of the individuals who have treated women as they have been treated are not worthy of the name of men.
– They are blackguards.
– I refer to men who attack an unfortunate woman who is going round believing that she is doing right in advocating the cause of woman suffrage. I remember a case where a woman was carrying a pot of paint to paint “Votes for Women” on the seats in a park. She was attacked by so-called men, and the paint was used to smother her hair, and in other ways to abuse her. I saw recently by the cablegrams that socalled men actually stripped the clothes from women.
– And it is on the chivalry of these persons that it is said the women should rest.
– People will commence to say that the days of chivalry are gone if men are going to treat women as they are being treated in the Old Country. There is something wrong in the Empire if at its very heart women can be treated in this fashion. In the United Kingdom there is a law for men, and a law for women. When we are asked here to pass a resolution on this subject we ought to do it, because in every constituency with 30,000 electors there are 13,000 or 14,000 women. When we are out electioneering, of course, we appeal to the women for their votes. When the women of the United Kingdom get the suffrage the politicians in the House of Commons will pay more attention to their requirements. It is my belief that it would be a splendid thing for the women to get the franchise, although many women might do there as the members of the National League do in this country, and that is vote Conservative. Still, it cannot be helped; it is their right to get the vote. Surely, it is asking very little of the Prime Minister to ask him to place on the business-paper a motion expressing the opinion of this House on the effect that woman suffrage has had in the Commonwealth during the past ten years. I believe that if the honorable gentleman took that course, the House would agree to consider the motion as formal, and there would be no time taken up. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will give way.
– You will not get any more early adjournments if you come this game on us.
– This is the only possible opportunity that I, or any other member of the House, have to bring forward a question of this kind. There is no time set aside now for considering private members’ business. The Prime Minister has the whole business of the country in his hands. He can do as he likes, no matter what the motion is-.
– I wish I could.
– I know that honorable members are tired after travelling last night and this morning, and that it is really cruel to detain them at this hour. Nevertheless, I think that the Women’s Non-party Political Association of Victoria are voicing the views of a majority of the women of Australia.
– You took the vote away from women when they are sick.
– They have a right to some consideration at the hands of the Prime Minister and this Parliament.
– The first thing to do is to give the women back the postal vote.
– Twenty-five years ago I introduced in this very chamber a Bill to give women the vote. It met with jeers, sneers, and contempt. If the Prime Minister can see his way clear to introduce a resolution I will promise not to speak a single sentence on it. I shall be content to vote, and even undertake to move the closure myself. It is our duty as Australians, believing that the women’s vote has done good in this country - and no one on either side of this chamber will dare to say that it has not - to let the people of the Old World know what we think of our women folk. If we have not the courage as men to do this, let the news go throughout Australia that this House of seventy-five members will not give expression to their true views regarding their fellow-citizens. I feel as strongly on this matter as I do on the question of the referendum and initiative and the question of the Tariff. If we had the referendum and initiative I know the women of Australia would pass a resolution that their sisters in England should have the vote. It was my privilege to tell a combined Committee of the House of Commons and the House of Lords that their franchise was barbarous, and would be only worthy of a barbarous country until they gave every man and woman the vote. What did the men of England do? Thirty lives were lost, mud was thrown in the face of the King, Bristol was burnt, and Birmingham and Manchester were going to march on London. I am sure the Postmaster-General knows the good work that the women have done in St. Kilda-. and he would be the last to say that their sisters in England should not have the privilege of the vote. All the right that our women have politically is to vote once in three years. I appeal to the Prime Minister to give ten minutes only to this matter, so that we can vote on it. If the majority say that our sisters in England are not worthy of having the vote, I shall be content that we go out.
– In the State Parliament of Tasmania I carried for several years in succession to give the right to women to vote. I have never altered my opinion on the question, but this proposition comes well from men who, when they had the power, took the vote away from women who were fulfilling the holiest duty of their sex. It comes well from men who robbed every sick woman in Australia of the vote. These champions of women’s rights robbed the sick and infirm of the franchise.
– And your side got hundreds of maids to say that they were in a certain condition, so that they could get a postal vote.
– Having robbed sick women of their votes, honorable members opposite should not slander them in addition.
– It was your side that made innocent women swear that they were with child when they were not.
– All these assertions cannot alter the fact that when an attempt was made in this House last session to restore the vote to sick women these champions of women’s rights opposed it. Let us, at least, be honest with ourselves in these matters. Some of us have given the best years of our lives to obtain the franchise for women, and it is honorable, members opposite who robbed thousands of it. I believe in women’s suffrage more, perhaps, than many men sitting on this side of the House. I carried it in the Tasmanian Parliament.
– It did not become law there until the Labour party got in.
– If the honorable member for Denison took any interest in the politics of his State, then he would know that year after year I carried adult suffrage through the Assembly of Tasmania, and it was rejected in the Legislative Council. When the pack of dingoes opposite have ceased-
– Order ! The honorable member must not use that expression.
– I withdraw it. It was the agitation which I carried on that led to adult suffrage being passed by the Legislative Council of Tasmania a few years afterwards, and long before it was granted in some of the other States. I want to expose what I consider the hypocritical position-
– Order !
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I was not going to apply it to honorable members opposite. To ask this House to interfere in British politics does not come well from men who, when they had the opportunity, robbed thousands of women in Australia of their votes. Let them purify their own party, and repeal the injury which they did last year. When we have swept our own doorstep clean, we can apply some of our surplus energy to cleaning out the middens existing in other countries.
– The speech we have just heard comes well from a member of a Conservative party, which for years thwarted the efforts of the women to obtain the right to vote, and who, when it was passed in the Lower House, praised the Lord that there was an Upper House to throw it out. The women’s franchise would never have been secured in Australia but for the rise of the Labour party. The honorable member for Franklin conveniently forgets that last session, when the Bill for the restoration of the postal vote was introduced, this side moved an amendment to enable the genuine sick and infirm to vote by post. We wished to safeguard the system against the corruption that had taken place in the past under the guise of postal voting for sick people. The honorable member for Franklin voted against that amendment, and, therefore, it is the Government and their supporters themselves who are responsible for the state of the law in that regard to-day. This party would have accepted the postal voting provisions if they were safeguarded against corruption.
– You never proved any corruption.
– I have no time to go into that question now. I dare say that the honorable member himself has been guilty of corruption hundreds of times in political matters.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I again say that the honorable member lias been guilty of corruption hundreds of times in political matters.
– Order !
– I withdraw it. Will the honorable member desist from interrupting me? The women of Australia can only express their views through members of this Parliament, which represents the adult population. We have no Parliament in Australia representing women only. It seems to me reasonable that they should, in the circumstances, approach us and ask us to express an opinion in favour of’ woman suffrage which may be conveyed to the people of England. Many in Australia believed that it would be detrimental to their interests to give the vote to women, but the question went beyond the debatable point in this country, when we recognised that those who had to obey the law were entitled to a say in the making of the law. I think we might express the opinion in this chamber that the granting of the franchise’ to women in Australia has proved beneficial, and not detrimental, to the interests of the- country.
.- The real question for us to consider in this matter is whether this Parliament should interfere with another Legislature at all. I am sorry to hear such a claim put forward by members of the Labour party, who would be the first to condemn the British Legislature if they attempted to’ interfere with -our legislation, although the British Government have to bear the whole - of the expense involved in defending us on account of that legislation. The fact that we Have adopted adult suffrage for this Parliament is perfectly well known to all the legislators- in England. The honorable member for Melbourne
Ports and other honorable members opposite, seem to think that because certain-, no doubt very excellent ladies have suggested this course to them, they should take their orders from the women. It ishighly pleasing to discover that our honorable friends, the honorable members for Melbourne Ports and Melbourne, are soamiable and subservient. We can imaginewhat excellent husbands they make. If is doubtful whether the character in which they have appeared this evening fitsthem to associate with the ruder and moreviolent members of the community . I shall in future require to pay a certain deference to my honorable friends. The character they have assumed is in marked contrast with some of the expressions they used here late one evening. It is to be hoped that if they intend to indulge in the kind of remarks they have made tonight they will appear properly costumed’ and gowned, so that we may make no mistake as to their sex. It would be, in my opinion, rather an act of impertinenceon our part to interfere with another Legislature. The British Legislature - the mother of Parliaments - has set us anexcellent example of non-interference with other Legislatures which we could not do better- than follow.
– I am afraid that at this late hour of the night I cannot be expected to make any remarks on this subject. Honorable members have taken up every minute of the time. It is now traintime.
– The honorable gentlemancould make a promise.
– What promise?*
– To pass a resolution approving of woman suffrage.
– I should’ like to know how I am to rely on the statements made-, by honorable members, inview of what has taken place to-night.
Mr-. Burns. - We shall move “ That the question be now- put,” if the honorable gentleman will submit a resolutiontomorrow. I will do it.
– I see. Thenthe honorable’ member believes in the “ ga’g,” does he-?
– I- do on that- question’.
– All I have to. say is that the question could not be disposed of in- the- way honorable members; opposite suggest.
– The honorable gentleman could give us a guarantee to submit such a resolution.
– Unfortunately, I am not able to give any guarantee in a House composed as this is. I am wondering how I am to resolve my own difficulties, without taking upon myself others affecting people thousands of miles away.
Question resolved in the affirmative. -
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140520_reps_5_73/>.