5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I think it right to bring under the notice of the House certain irregular proceedings in relation to the conduct of the business of the House which transpired during the course of last week’s sittings. When the proceedings were resumed after the luncheon adjournment on Friday, it was reported to me that the mace had been removed by some unauthorized person. I had a search instituted, and at a later hour of the day an attendant recovered the mace, which had been secreted under one of the Opposition benches. In connexion with this episode, the names of two honorable members of this House have been published by the Argus newspaper. Perhaps the honorable members concerned may desire to offer an explanation of the incident to the House. About the same time, I missed the Speaker’s copy of May’s Parliamentary Practice from its accustomed place on my desk. This was recovered at a late hour at night by one of the attendants, lying open, face downwards, in a fuel locker in the north lobby. All the reference marking slips, which I had inserted for convenience of ready reference on points liable to crop up during various stages of the proceedings of the House, were missing, and have not since been recovered. I discovered, subsequently, that other papers, typed, and in manuscript, having special reference to authorities and House of Commons’ decisions relating to rulings I had given, which are the subject of notices of motion of dissent on the business-paper, were missing from my desk. In the early hours of the morning, when a division was about to take place, the attendants reported that the keys had been removed from the chamber doors on either side of the Speaker’s chair, and thus the doors could not be locked during the divisions. And, later, it was reported to me that the communication door leading from the passage behind the Speaker’s chair into the Queen’s Hall, had been locked, and the key removed. The interference with the exits and entrances to the chamber is, in my opinion, a matter of very grave importance, involving, as it does, the obstructing of honorable members in the performance of their legitimate duties in the House. The several matters mentioned, I think, should be noticed by the House, as every honorable member is personally concerned in anything affecting the rights and privileges of members, and the honour, dignity, credit and reputation of Parliament.
.- As I have been mentioned in the Melbourne Argus, and, I believe, in certain other newspapers, as having had something to do with the removal of the mace from the table, and the placing of it under one of the seats in this chamber, let me say that I respectfully decline to say a word one way or the other about the matter. As to the removal of your books and papers, Mr. Speaker, the kicking of doors, and the stealing of keys, I know nothing. I am very sorry to learn that you have been embarrassed, even temporarily, by the loss of your documents. You had a very strenuous time during the last sitting, and although I do not agree with many of your rulings, as is shown by the notice-paper, I sympathize deeply with you in any embarrassment to which you have been put.
– The incidents that have taken place are much to be regretted, interference with the property of Mr. Speaker, and of the House, being a very serious matter. I do not think that the affair can be left where it is, though just what action should be taken I am not prepared at the moment to say. If any member, or any one connected with Parliament, has been guilty of any of the things that have been reported by Mr. Speaker, the manly course for him to take is to say so, and to apologize for having committed an undoubted breach of the privileges of Parliament. If the tearing to pieces of books, and interference with the locks and bolts of the doors leading to this chamber, is to be permitted, one does not know where matters may end. It is imperative, therefore, to find out, if possible, how these things occurred, and to act accordingly.
– There is one thing you omitted to mention - the interference with the bells in the garden.
– I do not think that there has been any interference with the bells.
– No interference with the bells has been reported.
– Were not the bells interfered with during the whole of last week?
– We have not heard of it, nor has the honorable member.
– I regret that an honorable member who is afflicted with deafness was occasioned inconvenience. Like every other honorable member, I sympathize with him in regard to what occurred.
– The hells do not ring in the garden. The honorable member for Denison and myself were nearly caught in the same way.
– Whether the bells ring there ornot, that is a little trouble which is easily understandable, and can be quickly set right. These other matters are of consequence. The Government will consider between now and tomorrow what course it is best to pursue in regard to them.
Mr.FISHER (Wide Bay) [2.38]. - I think you did right, and performed a public duty, Mr. Speaker, in reporting to the House the regrettable incidents that occurred during our last sitting. Every honorable member feels that he should be able to lay down, in any part of the building, his papers, private or otherwise, and anything else belonging to him, in the certainty that they will be permitted to remain unused and undisturbed by any one but himself. Confidence in this matter has long been felt by every member of Parliament. I have no doubt that the events reported were the result of a misguided prank; they were not, I hope, the effect of malice. As to the locking of doors, I am afraid that I have some knowledge of honorable members playing pranks of that kind at times, though such conduct is not to be defended.
– But it would not be to the interests of the party on this side to lock doors during that debate.
– I am not speaking now of parties in any way. Neither of these acts can be defended, and they are much to be regretted. Property of all kinds belonging to honorable members ought to be left undisturbed, for we shall thereby preserve not only our own dignity, but the dignity of Parliament.
– I should like to make a statement at this juncture in reference to an incident in which the honorable member for Brisbane and myself took some little part. On Friday morning, about 2 or 2.15 o’clock, I happened to be reading one of the morning newspapers in the passage just outside one of the doors referred to. The honorable member for Brisbane, in passing, congratulated me on looking so comfortable. Just then, I happened to glance through the glass door, and saw that the wooden door beyond was closed. I drew the attention of the honorable member for Brisbane to the fact, and said, “ This is rather extraordinary; I have never seen those doors closed before.” The honorable member then . opened the glass door, and tried to push the wooden door open, but found that it would not yield. He thereupon exerted a little more vigour, and the two doors burst open. We examined the doors, and found that the wooden door had been locked, and that the key was missing. I do not wish to introduce anything of a party nature, but I must say that honorable members on this side can hardly be conceived as locking these doors, when their colleagues were sleeping elsewhere, and would find their only entrance thereby into the chamber. I mention this to show that if pranks of any kind were going on, it does not do to attach special blame to either side.
– The honorable member knows where the blame is, I suppose?
– Not for that I have described. As one of the outposts of the Labour party that night, I knew where certain of our men were sleeping, or trying to sleep - namely, in the Library, in the Senate chamber, and in other rooms - and that these doors would, as I have said, be their only means of entrance to the chamber. Under the circumstances, the locking of doors by members of the Labour party would, to say the least, be peculiar. It will be seen that the honorable member for Brisbane and myself did our best to unlock the doors, but this particular door was undoubtedly locked on Friday morning about 2 o’clock.
.- I am surprised that anything like this should take place without my being a participant. I should, however, like to refer to another matter which the Prime Minister tried to pass by, namely, the way in which the honorable member for West Sydney was precluded from entering the chamber to take part in a division. The Prime Minister, of course, says that that was an accident due to the malady of the honorable member, but I point out that there was another gentleman with the honorable member for West Sydney, and he, who is not similarly afflicted, was directed to pay particular attention to the ringing of the bells. I wish further to say that, after the incident of the closure, I heard an honorable member tell some one over the telephone of the “ little score” that had been made on this particular measure, and he added, “ When I see you,” or “ When I get home, I shall tell you how we worked it.”
– Too thin !
– The honorable member should give the name.
– Who was it?
– One honorable member interjects that my statement is too thin, and other honorable members ask me to give the name. They, of course, are gentlemen who would not condescend to such tactics, and they cannot conceive of any one doing so.
– Is this a personal explanation or a series of statements?
– I understood that the honorable member was going to make an explanation.
– The honorable member ought to give the name.
– Those unruly gentlemen opposite-
– Will the honorable member for Bourke proceed?
– I am proceeding. If the unruly gentlemen opposite will not interfere and interrupt-
– The honorable gentleman has no right to cast reflections.
– I am not casting any reflection.
– The honorable member has described other honorable members as “unruly gentlemen.”
– One honorable member has asked me for the name of the person who was telephoning; but what position should I be in if I gave the name, and the statement was immediately denied, and I had no direct proof? These things are not practised by only one section of the chamber.
.- I should like to make a personal explanation which arises out of a statement made by the honorable member for Bourke. It was I who moved the closure on that occasion; and, in case the allusion of the honorable member should reflect on me, I desire to say a word or two. I rose to move the closure, and was called upon by you, Mr. Speaker; but a member of the Opposition raised a point of order. I thereupon sat down, and the honorable member for West Sydney spoke on the point of order, so that he was then present in the chamber. He was followed, I think, by the Prime Minister, and then by the honorable member for Bendigo, at the conclusion of whose speech you gave your ruling.
– How could there be a point of order on the motion that the question be now put?
– Will the honorable member for Bourke cease interjecting?
– The honorable member said-
– Again I ask the honorable member for Bourke to cease interjecting.
– I stop.
– I must ask the House to take notice of the disrespectful action of the honorable member for Bourke in disregarding the authority of the Chair, immediately after I have called him to order, and I now name the honorable member for so disregarding my authority after having been frequently warned.
– I extremely regret that the honorable member for Bourke does this sort of thing. I hope the honorable member will make amends, and let the incident end. The honorable member knows what he ought to do.
– I am the victim ; I withdraw, and humbly apologize.
– As I was about to say, immediately you, Mr. Speaker, had given your decision on the point of order you called on me, and I moved the closure. You, sir, had no idea that I intended to move such a motion, nor had any one on this side, with the exception of one honorable member. While the point of order was being discussed I was sitting ready to submit the motion. As to the statement about some one telephoning, I think I am entitled to make this explanation, being the only one who could make a statement of the kind alleged. The matter was not “ worked “ at all, because I spoke to the Leader of the Opposition and also to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, telling them thatwe on this side expected to be beaten on the question.
– As to the nonringing of the bells, I may mention that this is the first time that the matter has been reported to me. I had no knowledge that there was any interruption in this regard, or I should have at once called the attention of the engineer to it. I shall see that steps are taken to bring the matter under the engineer’s notice, and ask him to report.
– I think that the bell referred to is not strong enough.
– I shall see that the matter is attended to.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question without notice. A paragraph appeared in the Age of yesterday referring to the control of lighthouses, and it is there stated-
– The honorable member is not in order in founding a question on a paragraph in a newspaper.
– Then I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he has received any communication from the Queensland Government stating that they intend to render an. account to the Commonwealth for the supply of goods to lighthouses for 1913, as well as for 1914? Is there correspondence proceeding, and what action do the Government propose to take?
– I have received no communication whatever on the subject. The only information I have is from that same paragraph to which the honorable member refers. No claim of any kind has been made on the Commonwealth Government.
– In view of standing order 284, which provides -
All questions of Order and matters of Privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question - does the Prime Minster propose to allow the motions on the notice-paper disagreeing with Mr. Speaker’s rulings to be decided forthwith?
– I interpret that standing order to apply to matters which are quite distinct from motions seeking to dissent from Mr. Speaker’s rulings, and I do not think that the question of order or privilege arises. If these motions were not so incessant - if we had only one now and then - I should be disposed to have them settled when they arise, but I cannot afford the time which would be required for the discussion of them when they multiply themselves as they are constantly doing.
– Some time ago I put a question to the Minister of Trade and Customs concerning the entry of produce to the State of Western Australia. The Minister said that he was in communication with the Western Australian Government. I should like to know if negotiations have proceeded any fur.ther, and whether the Minister has any information to give to the House.
– On Saturday last, Mr. Bath, the Minister for Lands and Agriculture in Western Australia, saw me with reference to the potato inspection charges in the State of Western Australia. I represented to him that the charge of 15s. per ton made by Western Australia, seeing that the other States charged only 6d. per ton, appeared more than was necessary for executing the inspection laws of the State. Mr. Bath, in reply, said that it was a matter of urgent importance to his State to prevent the introduction of the disease of Irish Blight or other diseases. This was the more necessary as the exporting States had been negligent as to their export certificates with respect to cleanness; and he would furnish actual cases. He said he was willing to reconsider the matter, and agreed to allow his departmental officers to go fully into the matter with
Major Oakley, Collector of Customs for Western Australia. I consented, and, in the meantime, will await the Collector’s report. At the same time, it was admitted that the State of Western Australia is entitled to take reasonable action to protect the country from the possible introduction of plant diseases from other States.
Chicago Post Office - Lettergrams - Payments to Contractors - Lighting Post Offices - Telephone Conduits, Unemployment
– Has the Postmaster-General any information concerning the operations of the Chicago Post Office that would be beneficial to our Postal Department?
-The honorable member informed me. that he was going to ask this question, and in presenting to the House the report of Mr. Gasman, the Superintendent of Mails at Chicago, I would like to publicly acknowledge the trouble that Mr. Griffin, the prize-winner in regard to the Federal Capital design, has taken in this matter. I asked him when he left Australia, if he could spare the time, to endeavour to obtain for me particulars of the latest and most uptodate improvements in the post-office at Chicago. Mr. Griffin agreed to do so, and in Chicago he interviewed Mr. Gasman, who has written a very able report which should be valuable, not only to Australia, but also to many of the Postal Departments throughout the world. Mr. Griffin brought back with him plans and designs of a large number of most useful appliances. There are sixty working drawings of plant and works used in the different post-offices in the United States. I have great pleasure in laying thisreport on the table.
Ordered to be printed.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral take into consideration the advisableness of allowing lettergrams to be lodged at any time of the day, on the understanding that they are not despatched until after 7 o’clock at night?
– That was my desire, but the officers of the Department report that if what the honorable member suggests were allowed, it would interfere considerably with the revenue from ordinary telegrams, and that people wishing to send telegrams after 4 o’clock in the afternoon would keep their messages back for despatch as lettergrams. However, I am inclined to try the experiment for a month or two, in order to see how it will work.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral see his way clear to make it possible for lettergrams to be sent from an important place like Charters Towers, which has a population of 17,000 or 18,000?
– Lettergrams are sent from all offices that are open at night for the despatch of press telegrams.
– The Charters Towers office is open at night for that purpose.
– If the office is open for press telegrams, lettergrams may be sent.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that considerable delay occurs in settling with contractors who have carried out work for the Department afterthe work has been passed by the inspectors for payment? Will the Postmaster-General give instructions that payment should be expedited to these men, who are only small contractors?
– I have heard complaints, not only in connexion with Post Office, but in connexion with nearly all Government Departments, both State and Federal, asto delays in payment. I have urged the Accountant’s Branch of the Postal Department to make payments as quickly as possible. I shall be pleased to inquire into any particular case that is brought under my notice.
– Will the Postmaster-General, in his characteristic, progressive, and business-like manner, take into his own hands the question of the adoption of a new light for post offices, a matter that has been delayed by his officers for years?
– This matter was referred to a departmental board for report, but the report has not been forthcoming. I have given instructions that, if the officers cannot attend to this matter, I will look into it myself.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a number of men who have been engaged in undergrounding telephones in the metropolitan area have been dismissed within the last week or so? As the winter is the worst time for men to obtain work, will the Minister see if it is possible for more of this class of work to be done, so as to give employment to these men 1
– A great deal of undergrounding has been done in Melbourne, and no men have been dismissed. The job on which certain men were engaged may have been finished, but if there is any other work I can give them I shall be pleased to do so.
Agreement with Union.
– Is the Honorary Minister prepared to lay on the table the agreement which includes preference to unionists on the East-West railway, and that has been asked for on a number of occasions?
– The number of occasions to which the honorable member refers was at the close of last week. The agreement itself is not yet signed.
– You promised to lay it on the table.
– I told the honorable member that I would lay on the table a copy of the agreement, but the agreement has not yet been signed by the parties. I shall be pleased to let the honorable member see it.
– Will you not lay it on the table?
– I do not know that there is any value in laying on the table an unsigned document. It is a document to give effect to an agreement entered into with the men, and that agreement was that the members of the union would work as far as Tarcoola at the rates set out.
– You acknowledge the union ?
– Of course I acknowledge the union. I believe in unionism. I am only too happy to do it. The agreement is with the union, that the members of the union will work as far as Tarcoola at lis. 8d., and upwards. In order to give the agreement form, it was to be signed by the parties to it.
– What concessions do they get by working at Ils. 8d. ?
– The concession they get is that they are having their wages raised from 10s. - the amount settled by the previous Administration.
– And no one else can get that wage unless he has joined the union ?
– That is nonsense.
– In connexion with the police canvass now proceeding in Victoria, I understand that the police, after ascertaining that persons are on the State rolls, visit those persons and tell them that they are not on the Federal rolls, and advise them to go to the post offices for claim-cards. The police do not leave cards. Is the Minister aware of this practice, and will he endeavour to get it remedied ?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is administering the Electoral Department.
– Will the Treasurer say whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Bank has just arranged two city loans of £50,000 each at 4^ per cent. ? If so, what is the reason that country borrowers have to pay 6 per cent. ?
– I have no knowledge of the matter.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs communicated with the Home Office in reference to the operations of the American Beef Trust on the Home market? If he has not done so, will he do so, and have the reply ready by the time the Royal Commissioner presents his report 1
– I have already communicated with the High Commissioner, and I am prepared to take any additional action which the Royal Commissioner may suggest, in order to facilitate his making a report.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral say whether a successor to Dr. Ludowici has been appointed; if so, who is the gentleman, and when did he take up the duties of his office ?
– Applications were called for the position, and Dr. Perkins was chosen by the Public Service Commissioner. The appointment will probably be gazetted to-day
– Will the Prime Minister furnish the House with a list of exempt and temporary clerks employed by the Commonwealth Government?
– I ask the honorable member to put that question on the notice-paper. The list he asks for looks like one of those which would take a great deal of time to compile, and I doubt if it is worth while to compile a list which would cost so much money, and would be of interest only to some curious individual who prompts an honorable member to ask for it. If we can furnish the return without incurring any great expense I will do so, but I do not think it is wise to incur a huge expenditure in compiling returns of that nature.
– The honorable member for South Sydney asked a question recently regarding the number of mechanics and labourers employed at Canberra in April, 1913, and in April, 1914. The answer is as follows -
Number of mechanics and labourers employed in the Federal Territory in April, 1913 -583.
Number of mechanics and labourers employed in the Federal Territory at the end of April, 1914-338.
These numbers are exclusive of the men employed under the State Public Works Department in connexion with the construction of the Queanbeyan-Canberra Railway, but include men employed in the former year on the construction of the Royal Military College. The maximum number of men employed in the Territory on any one day by the present Administration was 754; but it is expected that this number will shortly be exceeded owing to the increased labour necessary to carry out the construction and completion of the Stromlo and Red Hill reservoirs, and the pipe line connecting them.
– I would like to ask my honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, whether he will allow us to move, as formal business, one of the notices of motion on the business paper for to-day, otherwise we shall have no business to transact to-morrow. For some reason or other, ever since the session opened, we have had trouble in getting any business on the notice-paper, and we shall have no business to do tomorrow unless leave be given , for the introduction of one of the two Bills which are the subjects of notices of motion. I am prepared to take either of them, if my right honorable friend will allow me to move formally for leave to introduce it. Such motions have always been regarded, until lately, as formal.
– I shall be very glad to meet the Prime Minister. I suggest that he allow the House to deal first of all with the motions to disagree with your rulings, Mr. Speaker. If he will agree to that, I shall consent to the course suggested by him.
– Has the Prime Minister any further information to give the House in regard to the discontinuance of work at the Kalgoorlie end of the transcontinental railway?
– The only information I have to give concerning the railway and the strike is that I have offered to pay the men 12s. 6d. per day, and, further, to refer the whole question to the arbitration of a Justice of the Supreme Court or any other impartial authority. There the matter remains. The men will accept nothing but that which they think fit to dictate. I am afraid we cannot allow that.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government propose, as recommended by Major-General Sir Ian Hamilton, to transfer to a Military Committee the control of military finance?
– It is now a quarter past 3, and I think it is time to ask that notice of these questions be given ; otherwise we shall go on with them all day.
Report (No. 1) presented by Mr. Mc Williams, and read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Mc Williams) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- I have no objection to the adoption of the report, but there is one matter to which I desire to call attention. I notice, for instance, that it is proposed in the report that a paper relating to the entrance examination for the Military College shall be circulated amongst honorable members. That means that honorable members will receive a copy, but that the document itself will not be treated as a parliamentary paper, and bound up with the parliamentary records.
– It is already in print.
– The point that I wish to make is that, if it is worth printing, it should be worth including in the records of Parliament.
– It is a big pamphlet.
– Many parliamentary papers are quite lengthy documents. During the first session of the Federal Parliament, and whilst the Tariff was under consideration, the then Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. C. C. Kingston, caused to be prepared a document showing the Tariff in each of the States, as well as the Canadian and New Zealand Tariffs. Unfortunately, it was not made a parliamentary paper, and, consequently, was not bound up with the parliamentary papers, so that I doubt whether there are in existence to-day half-a-dozen copies of it. I hold that any document that is worth printing should be made a parliamentary paper, and bound up with the parliamentary records.
– Valuable papers are often printed, but since they are not bound up with parliamentary records it is difficult to find any of them a few months after their distribution. There are four classes of papers with which we deal. We have, first of all, those which are ordered by the House to be printed ; then we have those ordered, on the recommendation of the Printing Committee, to be printed ; those which are presented to Parliament but which the Printing Committee does not recommend shall be printed; and, finally, those printed by the Departments to which they relate, but which are not distributed amongst honorable members. Papers are distributed, not only amongst honorable members, but amongst various people who have asked to be supplied with them, and almost since the establishment of the Parliament a lot of waste has taken place in connexion with their distribution. Additional power should be given to the Printing Committee to deal with the question of distribution. In my opinion, the Library Committee should be the distributing authority, as this would result in economy, and a more satisfactory distribution. At present there are several distributing authorities. The officials of the Senate, the officials of this House, and the Hansard Staff control the distribution of the various productions for which they are responsible ; but the course that I think would be best to pursue is this: to provide for the distribution of documents to members by the officials, and to leave all other distribution to the Library Committee. This system would have two advantages; it would make the distribution more economical, and it would enable the Library Committee to obtain many documents of value in return for the papers sent out. Papers presented to Parliament are referred to the Printing Committee, so that it may be ascertained whether they are sufficiently important to print; but the question of printing is a difficult one to deal with, and, with the exception of petitions, nearly every document the printing of which is not recommended by the Printing Committee has already been printed, or is in type, ready for printing. The great bulk of the papers now sent out are never opened or looked at. The officials of this House, some time ago, decided to send out merely the Votes and Proceedings, at the end of which is printed a list of the papers issued, leaving it to those who desired a copy of any particular paper to ask for it. I do not know how that system has worked, but I think that it has proved satisfactory. As the Treasurer is responsible for the printing of parliamentary papers, he might well give consideration” to the possibility of arriving at some better method of distributing them. I suggest that he might take the earliest opportunity to frame a scheme of economical distribution, and that the work of distributing might best be left to the Library Committee.
– If the Printing Committee requires more power, I think that it would be wise to confer it on the Committee, though there are papers referred to it which a section of the House may consider of vital interest, but which its members may not consider of sufficient importance to print. It has been suggested over and over again that the regulations which are framed and published under various Acts, and particularly under the Defence Act, mightbe issued from time to time in pamphlet form, or, at any rate, in bound volumes. Sometimes we receive among our parliamentary papers nearly a dozen separate sheets containing regulations, most of them concerning the Defence Department. When these regulations are printed as separate papers, it means quite a number of workings on the machine, and one would suffice. For instance, a Department may issue this week twelve or twenty regulations, each being the subject of a separate Order in Council, and sent separately to the printer. If they could all be dealt with together, considerable economy would be effected.
– It would be better if many of them were not printed at all. The Defence Department turns out regulations by the score.
– The greater reason that we should have them in compact form, instead of in single leaves. It would be better if they were issued bound together every fortnight, or three weeks, or each month. Under the present arrangement quite a number go astray; and it sometimes happens, when a question arises which a member wishes to discuss intelligently, that he has great difficulty in finding the regulations that he requires. If the. regulations were bound together, it would be easy to find any that might be needed. I suggest, too, that the Treasurer could save expense by publishing the Government Gazette and the Hansard reports as one publication.
Mr.Kelly. - Would the honorable member print all our advertisements, parliamentary and other, with Hansard?
– The Honorary Minister displays a lack of practical knowledge in suggesting that it could not be done. Such a publication would be compact and handy for the public, giving them all the information that they require.
– Do the public read the Gazette?
– The Gazette is rarely seen except at post offices and mechanics’ institutes, but the Hansard reports are read by a considerable number, which, I know, is increasing. Why not combine the two publications ? The public would then know what was transpiring in Parliament, what tenders were being called for, and what public works were being undertaken. It might be necessary to make some slight alteration in the form of one or other of the present publications; but the suggestion is a practicable one. A decent journal could be turned out.
– Would the honorable member print all the departmental regulations in it?
– All regulations which have to be gazetted and printed in some form or other. The first part of the publication that I suggest could be devoted to the Gazette notices, and the second part to the speeches of honorable members. Thus the public would know what tenders were being called for without having to look at the daily papers.
– Would the honorable member print the departmental digests in the same publication?
– The public should receive more information than they do as to the working of the various departments, which, to-day, is presented as each newspaper sees fit. If the official records of the doings of the Departments were published in the Gazette in conjunction with Hansard, the public would have a fairer knowledge of what is going on in the Departments. The people have to pay, and they ought to have reliable information. At present, the information imparted depends almost entirely on newspaper policy, and very often a wrong complexion is given to departmental action. The chief officers of State ought to be protected against the malignant influence of some sections of the press, and afforded an opportunity to let the public know exactly what is being done. It would, inmy opinion, result in much saving if not only the Gazette and Hansard, but also other public documents, were combined. I may not be in order on the present occasion, but I suggest that the Printing Committee ought to be able to secure a fuller report of what is transpiring before the InterState Commission. At any rate, all advertisements in the Gazette should be given wide publicity, and more facilities offered to the public for obtaining the official reports of this Parliament. At present, honorable members have to pay out of their own pockets for the distribution of Hansard reports to their own and other electors; and those of the public who now read Hansard are making comparisons between the official records and the newspaper reports, and those comparisons are not favorable to the newspapers. I should also like to know whether honorable members cannot be supplied with more copies of Hansard.
– That is not the question before the House at present.
– I hope that the honorable member for Franklin will take into serious consideration the suggestions that have been made this afternoon, and bring them before the Printing Committee, and that the Treasurer will render every assistance in giving themdue effect.
.- I am at a loss to understand the attitude of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, because, so far as I know, the Minister of Defence has already done what is now suggested. I was compelled to make application in regard to the regulations issued by the Defence Department, and now these are issued in bound form, and everything that can reasonably be expected is done to suit the convenience of those interested. For this concession, I have to thank the Government. I hope that we shall not have the Gazette and Hansard combined, because, personally, I do not wish to have the Gazette served up to me in that way. If the Gazette is on view in the House when occasion demands, that is . all I desire ; but if we bind that publication up with Hansard, then, all I can say is, God help us !
– There is a great deal in what the honorable member for Kennedy has said; but only last session the House refused to give the Printing Committee more power than it at present possesses. As to the Defence Regulations, the Printing Committee have nothing whatever to do with them. I only wish that that Committee had some control, because then, I believe, not more than 5 per cent. of the regulations would be printed. We are actually overrun with Defence Regulations; and I think it safe to say that the Department in the Commonwealth brings out fifty regulations for one issue by the Imperial Defence authorities. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has suggested that theremight be some danger of a majority of the Printing Committee refusing to print some documents because of party considerations; but I say that I have never known a member of the Committee to express a desire for a document to be printed, and that desire not to be unanimously complied with. The Printing Committee are very anxious to reduce the enormous and growing printing bill. I may mention, however, that many of the reports from the Departments come before the Printing Committee already printed, and that all the Committee can do is to formally approve of their distribution. Of course, I do not think that the House will ever surrender to any Committee the right to say whether departmental reports shall or shall not be printed. In any case, the House may rest assured that the Printing Committee will, as far as possible, keep down the expenditure; but, as pointed out by the honorable member for Kennedy, we have the Senate, officers of the Senate, Ministers in this House, and officers of this House, all with power to order that certain papers be printed. I trust that the House will give these matters due consideration, and extend to the Printing Committee much more power than it has at the present time, with a view to less printing and less expense.
– My recollection is that the Printing Committee desired power to say that papers should not be printed, even against the wish of the House itself.
– That is not so, because, as I say,the House would never surrender to any Committee a right which belongs to the House itself. The whole Parliament, however, has drifted into a system of automatically authorizing the printing of papers, and then sending these papers in type before the Printing Committee.
– If the House decides that a paper shall be printed, does the honorable member think that the Printing Committee should have power to decide otherwise?
– I am speaking of papers that are already in print before they come before the House at all. The House can reserve to itself the power to say what shall be printed; but, at the same time, the Committee should be allowed wider discretion to fix some limit on the printing of, say, Defence Regulations, which are issued by the score, and very few of which are read, except by the officers interested.
– In that case, many regulations would be issued that honorable members never saw.
– All these regulations have theforceoflaw.
– The fact that they have the force of law does not take away the force of what I am saying.
– How should we know what regulations were being put in force ?
– The honorable member is probably one of the few who read these Defence Regulations.
– I read every one.
– The honorable member will admit, however, that the great bulk of the regulations are never read except by officers and a few old soldiers like himself. I suggest that there should be a conference between the leaders on both sides, to consider the advisability of giving more power to the Printing Committee, because I think that thereby we should effect a considerable reduction in the expenditure. I agree with the honorable member for Kennedy, that the Commonwealth might be put in possession of many valuable documents by a proper system of distribution and exchange.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When does he propose to introduce legislation to give effect to the “ reasonable loan policy “ forecasted by him in his speech at MountGambier (South Australia) on the 3rd of March, 1914 ?
– I suggest to the honorable member that he should ask his leader and party when they will permit such legislation to go through the Senate.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
To prevent mistakes occurring by which citizens suffer loss in changing notes, particularly the 10s. notes, will he make inquiries as to placing some definite distinctive mark, such as a red cross, extending over the length and breadth of such note, or other mark?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
It is considered that the size and design of the 10s. note are so distinct from the size and design of the £10 note that it is not necessary to add to the design of the 10s. note as suggested.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The particulars are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is true, as reported, that the police on this occasion will not supply claim cards ; and, if so, whether that is not in opposition to the statement made in the House?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The rolls are being reviewed under the ordinary provisions of the Act, and qualified persons and electors concerned are in the same position at present as at any other time since the preparation of the new roll in 1912. The Administration would not be justified in undertaking the responsibility of issuing instructions that cards be left at houses where it is assumed persons qualified for enrolment or transfer are living. Such a course could not be uniformly and effectively followed throughout the Commonwealth, and would, moreover, create a false position in that it would lead the persons concerned to believethat this duty devolved under the law upon the officers, and that in the absence of official action either now or hereafter qualified persons would be absolved from complying with the requirements of the Act in regard to compulsory enrolment. The officers have been instructed to make claim cards available to the public at all post offices in the Commonwealth, and Commonwealth Electoral Officers or Divisional Returning Officers are always prepared to meet the requirements of political organizations requiring supplies. Every legitimate facility is afforded electors to enable them to secure enrolment.
Resignations - Political Freedom - Uniforms - Commission to Earl Roberts - Officers and South African War
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Except during time of war he may, by writing under his hand, tender the resignation of his commission at any time by giv ing three months’ notice (section 17).
In the case of non-commissioned officers and men section 36 prescribes -
That persons voluntarily enlisting as members of the permanent forces and militia forces shall engage to serve for a prescribed period.
The period prescribed by regulations being -
Five years for permanent forces.
Three years for militia forces.
Permanently employed soldiers who have re-enlisted on completion of a period of five years’ service are entitled, except in time of war, to be granted a free discharge on giving three months’ notice in writing to their commanding officers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is there any Act of Parliament of Australia, or any regulation under any Act, prohibiting a citizen of Australia, who is also a commissioned officer, from expressing his views on politics or criticising any public leader?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister issue an order that men retiring from the Defence Forces, after long service, be allowed to retain their overcoats and belts, as well as the rest of their uniform?
– Overcoats and belts are not considered personal uniform, and are required to be returned by members leaving the Commonwealth Military Forces, because they are re-issued to other members. For financial reasons, the Minister is not disposed to accede to the honorable member’s request.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is -
The officers named did not serve in South Africa. There are no records at head-quarters or district head-quarters to show whether the officers named did volunteer for service in South Africa.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he allow the member for Melbourne Ports an opportunity to move the motion standing in his name for this day, a vote to be taken without discussion, the closure to be applied, if necessary, to secure a vote without discussion ?
– I am afraid the matter could not be dealt with in the way suggested by the honorable member.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Shortly after taking office as Minister, instructions were given by me to have the Tariff and departmental files further examined with respect to anomalies. This House will be advised when the matter is ripe for action.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– A fortnight ago I asked the honorable member to postpone his question, because, seeing that part of the question asks whether I will take steps to restrain the Government of New South Wales from enforcing the tax on persons doing business with the Commonwealth Bank, I wish to take time to consider whether any duty fell on the Commonwealth Government in connexion with this very important matter. I have come to the conclusion that no duty rests on the Commonwealth Government in connexion with it. The Commonwealth Bank is the party interested, and, for the purpose of obtaining advice and guidance, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has already brought under my notice the whole question. Every assistance and advice will be rendered to him in order to protect his interests in connexion with the bank. I do not think it is desirable to answer the question further at the present time.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the question of the honorable member is the same as that just given to the question submitted by the honorable member for Illawarra on behalf of the honorable member for South Sydney.
Gauge - Method of Construction
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
At what time of the year are the vital statistics on which the per capita allowance from the Commonwealth is made taken in the various States?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The Commonwealth Statistician furnishes during the latter half of the financial year an estimate of the population on the 31st December in that financial year, and this estimate is the basis of the per capita allowance paid to each State.
Telegraph Line Renewals, Tasmania - Telephonists - Toora Post Office Contract
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
Mr. McWILLIAMS (for Mr. Boyd) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne, has furnished the following information: -
With reference to your communication of the 27th ultimo, complaining of the injustice to the 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. staff, I have to inform you that the application of the staff referred to is not at recent date, but has been in operation at the Central Exchange for some years, and is simply a staff on which it is possible, owing to the traffic being considerably less busy than on all day shirts, to give special supervision and instructions to telephonists who on occasions are called upon to work it.
The staff is not known officially as the “ Punishment Staff.”
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Department of Home Affairs has furnished the following information: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that the Union Cold Storage Company, now erecting freezing works, and who, it is alleged, have bought stations and taken up land in the Northern Territory, are asking for unreasonable conditions, and asking for railway concessions which the Government would not grant to private individuals ?
– Negotiations for an agreement between the Government and certain gentlemen, who are understood to be connected with the Union Cold Storage Company, in regard to the establishment of freezing works in the Northern Territory have been proceeding for some time, and, it is expected, will be . terminated shortly. When the terms are published it will be found that no unreasonable conditions have been granted or improper concessions allowed, but that, on the contrary, the interests of the public have been fully conserved. I may add for the information of the honorable member that the work of erection has not yet been commenced.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Motion (by Mr. Higgs) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table showing
The number of rifle ranges in Australia, and the location of each.
The number of miniature rifle ranges in Australia, and the location of each.
The average or approximate cost of a miniature rifle range.
The following papers were presented : -
Postal Service - Report by Mr. Geo. A. Gasman, Superintendent of Mails, Chicago, regarding “Machinery in the Postal Service.”
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Universal Training - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 41, 42.
Defence Department -
Report of Court of Inquiry, M.O. 19/1914. - Fifth Infantry Brigade Camp, Liverpool, New South Wales, 29th November to6th December, 1913.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Beecroft, New South Wales - for Postal purposes.
Booroomba, Federal Territory - for Federal Capital purposes.
Essendon, Victoria - for Defence purposes.
Pialligo, Federal Territory - for Federal Capital purposes.
Queanbeyan, Federal Territory - for Federal Capital purposes.
South Head, Sydney, New South Wales - for Defence purposes.
Tharwa, Federal Territory - for Federal Capital purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Universal Training - Regulations and Instructions - Royal Australian Naval Reserve (O) - Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 40.
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1914 - No. 1 - Brands.
Public Service Act - Promotions of -
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council, dated 16th May, 1914.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- The attitude taken up by the Government in this matter shows, if it shows anything at all, the poverty of their resources in defending their position. If the Bill means anything, it is a declaration of policy-
– It is a declaration of independence.
– I say it is a declaration of Government poverty of policy.
– The Attorney-General meant that for a joke.
– It is not good enough for a joke. It is obviously a wellconsidered declaration to cover up a weakness on the part of the Government. Independence of what? Who challenged their independence ?.
– They themselves did!
– No one else. Not only have they lost their independence, but they have lost their initiative.
– It is all right so long as we have not lost the referenda.
– They will lose the referenda. The honorable gentleman knows that when he was sitting here and was free he said that the referenda in the main were necessary, but not popular. We, on the other hand, said that they were necessary, whether they were popular or not, and we put them to the test, and they were lost. But they are the right policy, and we will put them to the test again before long. The Attorney-General seems proud that the referenda were lost, although he believes in them, but the public are suffering to-day for their loss. The party that has the courage to put before the country opinions that are not popular is the party that will win ultimately. The Attorney-General was asked during the debate on the previous stage of this Bill why the word “ favoritism “ had been left out. That omission has never been explained. The Government put into the mouth of the Governor-General the words, “ any favoritism or preference.” “Favoritism” is left out of this Bill, and one wonders why.
– It means the same thing.
– It means the very opposite. I would advise the honorable member to look up a dictionary.
– What difference is there between the two words in this connexion ?
– Preference is clearly defined in a legislative Act; it is statutory, and we know what it means. Favoritism is an undefined thing, which would enable a Government like the present to employ their favorites without coming into conflict with this Bill. They could employ the whole of their friends and favorites, and such an action would not be prohibited by this legislation. They hit only at organized labour, honest men and women who come out in the open. Those who desire to come in under the wing of the Government can either crawl in or walk in, because they are favorites. Why did they put the word “ favoritism “ into the Governor-General’s mouth if they did not mean to prohibit favoritism ?
– They do mean it. Preference and favoritism mean exactly the same thing.
– But favoritism is not defined in the Statutes. It is not known legislatively, or in any other definite way.
– Where do you find preference defined in an Act?
– Preference is defined by the Court, which is given power by the Act to award preference to unionists. The present Government claim a special virtue because they are not going. to give preference to unionists, but they are going to reserve to themselves the right to give benefits to their favorites.
– Will you kindly explain what you mean?
– I say as clearly as language can put it that the Government have made a declaration in this Bill which, if it is enacted, will prohibit this or any other Government giving open preference to unionists, but that the Bill does not in any way prohibit the employment of favorites of the Government. If it meant that, it would say so.
– It does not prohibit the employment of dishonest persons or criminals, or anybody else. It deals only with preference to unionists.
– As I have said, the Bill is only affecting people who are in the open ? and who take the risk and responsibility of being in an organized society. Unionism was not popular until quite lately, even if it is so now; but the people who have gone into that unpopular organization are to be specifically excluded, and the others are to have specific advantages because of the exclusion of unionists. No amount of subtle argument will get the Government out of that position.
– I am lost in admiration of your subtlety at the present moment.
– It seems to me that I am making the plainest possible statement of the case. This .Bill is admitted by the Government to mean nothing, and to do nothing that has not been done already.
– Every law against crime is to do nothing, but it is to prevent crime being committed.
– So far as the Government’s declaration of policy is concerned, this Bill will not affect their position.
– Not this Government’s position; certainly not.
– And it is not intended to do so. Therefore, as an enactment it can only apply, as regards Government appointments, I suppose, to the exclusion of unionists.
– There is nothing about exclusion of unionists. We do not desire to exclude unionists; we desire to place them on exactly the same level as non-unionists, so far as Government employment is concerned.
– I have previously admitted, and I cheerfully repeat it, that it is the business of the executive of this Parliament, if the declaration of the people is the same at the next election as it was at the election of 1910, to give preference to unionists in Government employment, as in every other employment. Ever since 1904, there lias been a majority of members returned to this Parliament in favour of preference to unionists.
– What do you mean ? Giving a Judge power to award preference to unionists does not mean giving a Minister power to give preference on his own initiative.
– The people have at three general elections affirmed the principle that preference to unionists is the better way of organizing society, and that the greater utility in the public interest can be gained by allowing preference to unionists, not only as between a private employer and the workers, but also as between the public employer and the workers. Every Government in the Commonwealth is entering into enterprises which are more or less competing with private concerns, and the AttorneyGeneral asks the Government to have less restrictions on their employment than he would impose on private employers. He desires the Government employer to have ‘ an unfair advantage over private competitors. I think my position is much more straightforward and honest than his.
– I cannot understand you. I think that no private employer or worker has any right except that given him by the Court, and when you passed your Arbitration (Public Service) Act you expressly took away the power of the Court to give preference to unionists in Government employment.
– The Attorney-General is quite consistent. He does not believe in preference to unionists in Courts or anywhere else.
– Hear, hear !
– But we must deal with the Attorney-General as a member of the Government. For once he has no individual opinion here. He is honest enough to admit that he is sailing in a ship today that is not going in this matter onetenth of the length he would go. He is going with his colleagues thus far, but if opportunity offers he will take them much further. He -will take them the length of debarring preference to unionists under any circumstances whatever, either by a Court or by any other authority. We must give him credit for his attitude, because he has always been open and straightforward in his statement of that opinion.
– The only legitimate preference to unionists or anybody else is what they can gain by their own skill or effort.
– I agree with that, but there is abundant room for an honest difference of opinion after we have said that much. We believe that no further progress is to be made in society unless society is organized. We believe that one way of protecting the State, as well as protecting the individual, is to give organized persons an advantage. “ Other things being equal “ have been words of great fertility to the Attorney-General, but they express a condition of affairs that can convey to the public mind what is equitable and just. Some of us have laboured at various occupations for our daily bread. We have been associated with others in unions at a time when very few were of the same mind as we were, and I cannot recall an instance, throughout the whole of my life, where a man who took a leading part in his union ever secured an advantage.
– That applies to all of us. We have all worked for our daily bread, and have all been in unions.
– My personal experience in two countries, practically as far apart as the poles, is that in hundreds of cases unionists who fought for the benefit of the whole suffered again and again. And now that it has been proved that unionism is not only not a bad thing, but a positively good thing, we are asked to enact that unionists shall labour under a disadvantage.
– Would the right honorable member be in favour of compulsory unionism? That is the exact test.
– The Attorney-General does not seem to know when he is joking. He belongs to a union.
– Hear, hear.
– A union that is absolutely exclusive, and which pursues to the death members of the legal profession who do not conform to its rules. That union says to men equal in ex perience, learning, integrity, and virtue, with its members - to men who have been declared by- the Court to be fit persons to practice the profession of the law, “ You shall not enter here.”
– That is where the right honorable member is absolutely incorrect.
– The union is something sacred.
– Not only is there no bar to entrance to my union, but there is no entrance fee. It is the only union that does not charge an entrance fee.
– But a member of the legal profession cannot enter the sacred and secret union to which the AttorneyGeneral belongs unless he conforms to the conditions prescribed by it.
– That is absolutely wrong. Any man who has qualified under the law to practise as a member of the legal profession can enter our union - you call it a union, and I admit that it is - without any fee, charge, or impediment.
– The point that I wish to make is that a man who has qualified to practise the profession of the law is not permitted to enter the AttorneyGeneral’s union if he practises - as allowed by the law - as a barrister and a solicitor. The exclusion from membership of the Bar Association in the circumstances I have named is a permanent one. No industrial union has ever attempted to go as far as that. It is true that unionists may refuse at times to work with non-unionists, but that is nothing new. It is on that basis that unions from time to time have been built up. No one knows that better than does the Attorney-General .
– Without admitting any of the right honorable member’s facts, may I ask what they have to do with the question of Government preference to unionists, or a judicial preference to unionists? I have always admitted that every union has a right to gain for itself by its own efforts whatever preference it can. But how does that support the granting of preference by the law or the Government?
– I have already dealt with the question of preference to unionists in Government employment. The Government, in carrying on any service for the people, occupies the position of a private employer, carrying on his business for profit, so far as the matter of employment is concerned. The Government is merely the directorate of what may be described as a national concern, and in respect of the employment of unionists should act as it requires private employers to do.
– But if the Government engaged a solicitor to appear in Court with the Attorney-General the latter would not work with him.
– The AttorneyGeneral admits that. His idea is that preference to unionists in Government employment would lead to favoritism.
– Why will not the right honorable member and his party give the poor lawyer the same right that the bricklayer has - the right to say with whom he will work and with whom he will not work?
– We have.
– Then leave it at that. What on earth has that to do with Government preference to unionists or compulsory preference to unionists?
– It might suit the Government to do what the AttorneyGeneral suggests, but it will not suit this party. What was the cause of many of the great industrial struggles of the early days? What led to the great maritime strike, the shearing strike, and the Broken Hill industrial dispute? What was it that almost foreboded a great industrial convulsion not long ago?
– Is it not admitted now that the maritime strike arose from a mistake?
– It arose, as all other industrial differences will arise, unless they be anticipated by parliamentary action, from the organization of capital, the amalgamation of companies, and the exercise of the power of the latter to compel skilled labour - captains, in the case of the maritime companies, engineers, and other ship’s officers to work for a mere nominal living wage. The time has passed when men of education and experience engaged in either manual or mental labour could hope to earn anything more than a mere pittance unless they were organized in unions. Notwithstanding the increased production of wealth caused by the introduction of machinery, degradation and misery among the great mass of people have been prevented only by organization and a determination on the part of the workers not to live below a certain standard. They can be avoided only by unionism. The late Government said to the workers, “We invite you by our legislation to organize; we invite you to come to the Court for the settlement of your disputes rather than to seek their settlement in a way that must cause loss to yourselves, suffering to your wives and families, and ruin to the State. We invite you to settle your disputes by arbitration. If you agree to do so we are prepared, other things being equal, to give you preference over other applicants for employment.” That is a perfectly logical proposition.
– That is why the Government should ‘ give preference without any judicial inquiry?
– That is what the present Government does. But we did not do that. Does any one believe that the present Administration has not greater opportunities to do wrong by reason of the fact that it may employ whomsoever it pleases? Under the system which we introduced a watch could be kept on the man employed. If the Government agreed to preference to unionists they could take care whom they were employing. Every man could be watched, and if any man were unfit for his work we should soon hear about it. But the Government have relieved themselves of all responsibility in this respect. Any one can be employed. The Government say, “We are not in favour of preference,” but they give preference all the same. They need be less vigilant than they were, and they may employ all their friends. It is open to them to say, “ We can stand here with a clear conscience, knowing that we are not in favour of any preference, and that we have abolished preference to unionists in Government employment”; but, under that very cloak, the worst things ever done by a Government could be perpetrated by them. Regarding this question of preference, let me give an illustration of the position in Australia some years ago. In Queensland, in 1893, the Labour party’s candidates polled about 40 per cent, of the votes recorded for the Legislative Assembly. In 1896 and 1899 the voting for the two parties was almost equal ; yet, in 1899, when the first State Labour
Government was formed, there was not one member of the Legislative Council - which was then, as it is now, a nominee Chamber - who would take office in a Labour Administration, or say a word for the Labour party. Why was it that, in the co-ordinate branch of the State Parliament, there was not a solitary representative of 40 per cent, of the electors of the State? What kind of preference was given in those days in nominating members of the Legislative Council ? This is but an illustration of how the world has hitherto been carried ou. The men who fought for Labour, and who brought our party into existence, had to overcome many obstacles in the shape of preference to non-unionists in relation, not only to Government employment, but to the return of .members of Parliament. I have said that, in my opinion, the word “ favoritism,” which appeared in the Governor-General’s Speech in opening the present session, should have been inserted in this Bill. May I remind honorable members what the Prime Minister said when I suggested such an amendment? When I asked that the word “favoritism” be inserted, the honorable gentleman said, “ All right, let the right honorable member move it. Put it in.” I moved the amendment, and the Prime Minister at once said, “ No you don’t.” If it be true, as said by the Attorney-General, that the Bill will do away with favoritism as well as preference to unionists, why should the Government object to the insertion of the word “ favoritism “ ? The Bill is not what it purports to be. The Government themselves speak of it as a test measure, and I hold that it has been introduced for an ulterior purpose. It is a Bill which is being used for a purpose that is not approved by the country. It seeks, obviously and openly, to pick a quarrel with the Senate; it attempts to create difficulties between the two representative Chambers of this Parliament, with the object of taking the whole Parliament to the country to ascertain the will of the people. In my opinion, this Government, since it came into office, has wasted the time of the Parliament and the money of the people. It has wasted public opportunities, and has stopped progress, and now hopes to obtain an ulterior object which is unworthy of any Government. Ministers and their followers put before the electors at the last election a programme supported with arguments and statements which they could not substantiate when they met Parliament. They found that they could not proceed without exposing their nakedness and unfitness to govern the country. As it was necessary to have delay, and to present some kind of case to the people, these trumped-up measures were brought before Parliament last session, and have been revived this session, in the hope of winning a new lease of power. It is a regrettable feature of this discussion that the Government has not taken the country fully into its confidence, and has not made a clear statement of the position. Mr. Justice Barton, the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, said, when a member of the Convention which framed the Constitution, that dead-locks should not arise out of ordinary legislation. Will any one say that this is extraordinary legislation? He declared that the only justification for the operation of deadlock provisions was a stoppage of the machinery of government, and that machinery could be stopped only by the stoppage of money. Yet this Government openly states, through the Prime Minister, that the purpose and object of this Bill is not to prohibit preference to unionists by the present Ministers, but to seek a quarrel with the Senate which will enable both Houses to be sent to the country. The Right Honorable Sir George Turner, another member of the Convention, made it clear that he would view with apprehension any attempts of the members of the House of Representatives to dominate the Senate, and expressed the hope that no opportunity would be given to the House of Representatives by its members to make this attempt. He agreed with Mr. Justice Barton that only in an extreme case should that be done, and when there was a stoppage of serious legislation. Our present Treasurer, another member of the Convention, said, in his own inimitable way, that he could imagine a difference of opinion concerning legislation arising between the two Houses of the Parliament, and a Government in difficulty - as this one is - appealing to its press supporters, and raising a false cry, thus putting a pistol to the heads of the members of the Senate before they had had an opportunity to consider the question at issue. That is exactly what is taking place now. Coercion is being attempted by the Government, and the press which supports it. Nine out of ten of the great journals ofAustralia support the Government party, which has, therefore, nine times as much opportunity as we have to put its views before the people. Could there be a greater subversion of representative government than the present attempt to set aside the Constitution as understood by nearly all the impartial authorities, and to read into it something that suits a Government which is in political difficulties? Most persons will agree that Sir Josiah Symon is a gentleman of considerable legal knowledge and political acumen. He stated in the Convention that if a difficulty should arise between the two Houses of the Parliament, it should not be used as a lever to cause the House that represented the States to be attacked. He pointed out that the two Houses were coordinate, although not in all respects ; and said that if the House of Representatives found that it could not carry its measures, it would be the duty of its members to go to their constituents to seek a verdict from the country on the point in dispute before attempting to interfere with the Senate.
– That was not put into the Constitution.
– I think that it was. These are Sir Josiah Symon ‘s exact words. They are to be found on page 2134 of the report of the Melbourne session of the Convention. He was speaking of the Senate as a Second Chamber, exercising the functions of a revising and suspending Chamber, and he said -
If it exercises that function you are to give it credit for honesty and bona fides. If it is still out of harmony with the Lower House, let the Lower House go to their constituents, with whom the Upper House says the House of Representatives is not in harmony. If the members of the House of Representatives come back from their constituents with a mandate for that particular piece of legislation, this Senate, like every other Second Chamber, will be bound to give way. If the Senate do not give way, then I say at once, and unhesitatingly, send it to its constituents.
I am quoting authorities that were not made for the Labour party.
– Did Sir Josiah Symon mean that there should be a double dissolution ?
– No. The question now at issue has not been put before the public directly and distinctly.
– Yes; at the last elections. That is why the right honorable member is now in Opposition.
– It was only one of a hundred questions. The Prime Minister, so far as I could ascertain from the newspapers, had no other policy than “ to put out the other fellows.” Now we are asked to say that this question was a prominent question at the time of the elections. There is no justification for saying that.
– Was not the Convention largely against Sir Josiah Symon’s suggestion?
– It was against putting anything into the Constitution, but not against the suggestion. Had I had the great honour of being a member of the Convention, I should have taken the same view. I should not have declared in the Constitution, in definite and distinct language, that the members of the House of Representatives must go to their constituents before the members of the Senate were asked to go; but that does not dispose of the utility and advantage of the suggestion. It is argued that if this House went to the country, and came back practically unchanged, the difficulty which now exists would continue. That may or may not be so. If both Houses went to the country and came back as they are - and this is as likely as any other result - it would be found that the policy as announced by the Government would be defeated.
– Quite right, too, if the Government were in a minority.
– Does that not bring home to the honorable member the fact that what is now proposed by the Government is more likely than anything else to delay the progress of legislation? Is this Bill a time-wasting proposal, or is it serious business? Every calculation made by honorable members opposite goes to show the impossibility of their getting a majority as the result of a double dissolution. Therefore, if this Parliament is unworkable, as I believe it practically is, the solution is to give certain advice to the representative of the King, and let us go to our constituencies.
Mr.McWilliams. - But if the Government came back with a majority, what then?
– It will be time enough to consider that contingency when it arises.
– It would mean that this House would have to go to the country again.
– It would depend very much on the fact whether the Government had put their policy prominently before the people.
– They did that at the last election; why do it again?
– Where was it done?
– Everywhere. In Victoria the question was very prominent.
– If so, the Government have no right to proceed with their present policy. The Labour party obtained a distinct majority of 40,000 votes at the last election; and I charge the Government with a deliberate waste of time.
– Does not the right honorable member think that the Government should take advantage of their majority to pass legislation?
– At the last election the Government were in a minority of 40,000 votes; and yet, according to the honorable member for Wimmera, they may presume to ask for a double dissolution on the ground that preference to unionists was a prominent question before the electors, and that they obtained a majority of one representative. Could there be a greater absurdity in the world? A majority voted for the party who were in favour of preference to unionists, and yet the party in a minority is to dislocate the whole Government machinery and delay the business of the country for two or three years. These are the absolute facts of the case, as the honorable member for Wimmera knows. I think I am quite in order, in dealing with this Bill, when I draw attention to the following statement made by the Prime Minister at St. Kilda-
The Government had made up its mind either to go on or go out. When the time came, the Government would put forward a progressive programme, in keeping with the desires of the democracy, and one that would satisfy the bulk of the people.
This shows, I think, that the Government previously had no programme to place before the public; and, in my view, the sooner they take the opportunity to “go out,” the better.
– I never heard a Leader of the Opposition say anything else.
– I thank the honorable member for that interjection; but, if the Labour party are going to their death, why does not the Government jump at the opportunity?
– Because we wish to take the Senate to its death too!
– That is because the Government have no programme, and wish to delay as much as possible the public business of the Commonwealth. Why is it that the Government have put all their great measures on one side ? The Prime Minister asked me the other day why I was ready to take the business out of the hands of the Government on the question of the Tariff; and my reply is a simple one, namely, that we put Tariff revision directly in our policy. Tariff revision, as part of our policy, was directly and distinctly put before the people in direct and distinct language; and, true to our pledges, we are ready to go on with it. We give pledges prior to an election, and not after an election - we appeal to the people before, and not after, an election. We did appeal to the people, and we were not returned in a majority; but we are not likely to depart from . any policy we ever promised to carry out. Several .remarks have been made to the effect that there were certain pieces of legislative work that we did not carry out during our three years of office. It must be remembered, however, that we had a “ full bill “ to deal with. There were great questions that had been before the Commonwealth for the previous ten years; and I think that we dealt with them in a way that some honorable members opposite do not like. We dealt with them, however, in a way that has led to the advancement, prosperity, and safety of the Commonwealth. We dealt with national questions thoroughly and patriotically. We took risks, as no other Government had taken risks, disturbing every interest; and we still practically maintained our position in the country. We should do so again. Some party must do the pioneering, and look after the interests of the people as a whole, and not after the interests of a class. In the Bill before us, we have one of the worst pieces of class legislation that was ever brought forward - a subterfuge and a fraud.
– Order !
– Perhaps I ought, to withdraw the word “ fraud,” and I do so; but the Bill is admitted by its intro- ducers to be a subterfuge - to be a Bill that does not carry its purport and intention on its face. It is admitted that, even if the Bill be enacted, it will not alter the present condition and position of the Government in relation to preference to unionists, and that the only effect it can have, or may have, in the future will be that any sort of men may be employed by the Government. It would be far better to take the honest and straightforward course. As regards unionists generally, they are - shall I say ‘t - as much interested in watching each other as in watching non-unionists ; and a Government that abused its privileges and powers in the way of preference would undoubtedly suffer. Some of the greatest industrial fights have arisen from disputes between unions and sections of unions. Many people have the idea that unionists’ are a united body, and that all work together in harmony; but the very opposite is- the fact. Unionists are quite prepared to see all unions get justice, but no more. If any injustice were done by a Government as between unionist and unionist, or between unionist and nonunionist, the fair-minded men in unionism would be the first to make complaint. While, in my opinion, the Government have wasted their opportunities, and failed to cany out their mission, I think they have done great service to the party with which I am associated. The Government have shown that they are careless of the interests and welfare of the people generally. They have shown that the clamours of the unemployed, the failure of immigration, the financial position, and the general difficulties of government, have no weight with them. They have only one object in view, namely, to subvert the principles of the Constitution in the hope of lingering for some time longer on the Treasury bench. I wish again to clearly affirm my view that, so far from Government preference to unionists being a partisan proposition, or one likely to lead to the employment of unionists as against non-unionists to the disadvantage of the country, it is a sound principle that the Government, so far as they are employers, should, through their officers, wherever practicable and possible, give preference in the interests of the smooth working of particular industries or pieces of work, and for the advancement and advantage of society generally. I would gladly defeat this Bill, and I hope that, whatever contest may arise, it will be fought on those high lines which I am sure we all desire. If the battle goes outside,.!, for one, shall welcome it.; and the sooner it comes the better.
– I wish, as briefly as possible, .to make a few observations on the question before us. . The debate upon this question has possibly been one of the longest, and certainly one of the dreariest, in the ‘history of this Parliament. The ex-Prime Minister, on the second-reading motion, gave evidence that his heart is not in the business. I believe that, not only the. right honorable gentleman, but many others associated with him, would be delighted if this vicious principle had never been introduced by the Labour Government. The Leader of the Opposition this afternoon has ‘ ‘ blown hot and cold ‘ ‘ in his criticism. He, first of all, deprecated the intention of the Government to use all constitutional means to have an. appeal to the people as quickly as possible, in order to settle the dead-lock which undoubtedly has arisen. Then he says that the Government are clinging tenaciously to the Treasury bench. Hit high or hit low - it does not matter which - the Government are wrong every time, according to honorable members on the other side. I appreciate one thing that the Leader of the Opposition said the other day. It has been a common cry on the other side that the Bill practically means nothing, that it is a mere shadow, that it is a fraud to occupy the time of honorable members, and involve expenditure in discussing it; but the right honorable gentleman said, very properly, that he did not agree with that view, that it was not a sham, and that, it was a matter of real importance. Every honorable member knows that i*t is not only not a sham, but a vital question. It is, for honorable members opposite, the foundation stone of the structure they are engaged in rearing. Not only do I agree with the Leader of the Opposition, but also I believe that the Bill is full of tragic possibilities. The objective of honorable members on the other side of the Chamber, and the followers of the previous Government, was not only to secure industrial supremacy among the workers of the Commonwealth, but also to secure absolute control of the administration of public affairs - there is not the shadow of a doubt that that is the object of the party represented by honorable members opposite - and therefore the Bill is a matter of great concern to them, because their defeat on this vital question means a serious loss of prestige to them. In considering this question, we need to look at the evidence on every hand of the extremes to which the Socialistic party directs its efforts day by day. At this moment there is a big amalgamation of forces proceeding, and the intention behind this amalgamation is that Parliament is to be captured, if it is at all possible, while the resort to the general strike on Syndicalist lines is still to be retained. The objective of this movement is not better conditions, but is the destruction of the social order. Let us look at one or two of the claims made by honorable members opposite and their supporters to preference to unionists in the Government service. One of their claims has for its basis the assertion that such preference will promote industrial peace. But they know better. That claim is repudiated by one of the leaders in the great Labour movement - the honorable member for Darling - who says unmistakably that there will be no peace until the present social order is overthrown. The honorable member is a more powerful man in .the Commonwealth than the Leader of the Opposition ; he is the greatest power in the great industrial army of Australia, and on his statement we cannot expect any peace.
– He is a dear old man; long may he live!
– He is a very fine man; he is also very straight; he does not throw dust in the eyes of the electors; he tells them the truth and the whole truth every time; he makes the same speech whether he is speaking on the Yarra bank or to the producers of the community; he has a goal in view, and never loses sight of it; but that is not the case with the leaders of Socialism generally, for Socialism speaks with many voices, its speech is varied according to the audience. Another claim for preference to unionists in the Government service is based on what unionists have done for the uplifting of their fellows, and the improvement of the industrial conditions of the world. That is a very fine sentiment when it comes from the right lips, but when we hear this kind of advocacy we find, as a rule, that it comes from the militants, the new-born enthusiasts, who rush into the limelight and talk as if they had sacrificed their lives for the accomplishment of the purpose they have in view, and for securing the better conditions that obtain in the industrial world to-day. When I hear them I think of the men of the past who have gone through the fire and have had their baptism of blood in the work to which they devoted their lives, and have translated their heroic, self-sacrificing advocacy into Acts of Parliament. We cannot think of the benefits accruing to industrial workers in different parts of the world - and particularly in the Commonwealth - without remembering those great men who, in times of unpopularity, faced the position without fee or reward, and on whose great work has been reared the superstructure of economic laws which benefit, and rightly benefit, the industrial workers of to-day. In the progress and development of the great Labour movement, where are those men who devoted their lives in a selfsacrificing manner to the uplifting of their fellows? Are they recognised as they should be by the union movement of to-day? I tell the honorable member for Adelaide, the most recent addition to the House, that his advent here is a striking illustration of the fact that they are not recognised. My statement to that effect can be borne out by men who have done nearly everything towards what the workers of South Australia have achieved to-day. They will tell the honorable member that they have been turned down for these new militants, some of whom have never had a union ticket until they required it in order to open the door to parliamentary representation or some other lucrative billet in the Labour movement.
– You know that is absolutely incorrect.
– I know that it is not, and every honorable member from South Australia knows that it is not. I do not believe in thinking things without saying them. I hope I never shall. I wish to say that, so far as the claim for preference on the ground that unionists have done so much for the movement is concerned, the greater proportion of the militants of to-day have got as much out- of the Labour movement as they have put into it. I am reminded of an illustration in New South Wales, where one of the solidest and most faithful men in the movement was put down and another put in the Speaker’s chair in his place. That also serves to drive home the statement I have made. In fact, the claim put forward is a poor, miserable basis on which to build the argument for preference to unionists in the Government service. There is no tangible reason advanced for the claim for preference to Unionists in the Government service, but there are reasons of great weight why preference should not be extended to them. It is not industrial unionism; it is political unionism. If we could get back to industrial unionism a lot of the enthusiasm would melt away within twentyfour hours. The basis of all this business is selfishness. There is something to be got, some plunder; there are some plums in view, like the proverbial bunch of carrots, that always will be an incentive to patriotism. It is not only political unionism to which wo object, but it is political unionism of a tyrannical and oppressive kind. We have heard during the course of this debate - and it has been reiterated again and again - that the oppressions of the past, the tyrannies of capital, are still ringing in the ears of men, and that because of the deliverance of the workers by the good work of unionism, unionists should have a free hand and no competitors. Let me tell honorable members on the other side that they have not killed tyranny and oppression ; they have simply transferred it from the oppressor of the past to the unionist oppressor of to-day.
– You are getting a dose of your own physic, and you do not like it.
Mr.RICHARD FOSTER.- When the Labour physic comes into conflict with the honorable member’s own interests at times he will not take it. The honorable member never believed in the attempts of his colleagues to fasten the daylabour system on to Government works, and he would not be in the House to-day, or as well off as he is - and as everybody is delighted to know that he is - if he swallowed all the nostrums that Socialism offered to him.
– That is not the question.
– It is an awkward and a nauseous question.
– You know we have been victimized.
– I do, and I detest victimization, and I always did. I detest oppression and tyranny, and I always did, and oppression is just as bad when practised by the unionists as when practised by anybody else. Let me give an illustration. Not many months ago two energetic unionists were seeking to increase the number in the fold. Using a little moral suasion, they were practising what we now and again hear designated “ social Christianity.” They desired a bullock-driver to enter the union, and he refused to do so. All the persuasiveness of those men was of no avail, so what did they do ? As soon as he got out of the way, they burnt his bullock yokes. That was “ applied social Christianity.”
– Who are “they”?
– The names of those two men were E. A. Miller and F. H. Mitchell.
– Well, who are they?
– If the honorable member will possess his soul in patience I will tell him all about them. Fortunately those two unionists were caught in the act of burning the bullock yokes ; they were brought before a Court, and were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine.
– By a Liberal J.P.
– No, I think a stipendiary magistrate was on the bench.
– Would you persecute them ?
– The honorable member would not persecute them, nor are the unionists persecuting them for their action.
– Are you rubbing it in?
– I am telling the honorable member something of the tender sympathetic side of the unionists. The sentences of these men have just about expired, and in a Labour daily newspaper I find that Mr. Lundie, secretary of the Adelaide branch of the Australian Workers Union, is about to make a presentation to them of a gold medal each.
– I do not see anything to cavil at.
– I do not think they will see anything to cavil at either.
– Lundie is all right..
– Mr. Lundie is a man who speaks out what he has to say, and does not say one thing when he means another. Mr. Lundie, on behalf of fellow unionists, is going to present those men with a gold medal each in recognition of their capable services and their loyalty to unionism.
– I am glad that somebody has appreciated their services.
– The honorable member does not believe in that kind of thing.
– The paragraph refers to recognition of their services to unionism, not to their burning down sheds or bullock yokes.
– On the representations of honorable members, we are to throw wide open the doors of the Public Service to admit these men who have placed honorable members where they are. I ask honorable members where the public taxpayer comes in ?
– That is what we desire to know.
– The taxpayer is the gentleman who gets the last and least consideration in this Parliament, whereas he ought to get the first consideration. What is this policy going to cost the country? There is no getting away from the fact that the previous Government took the money in the Treasury, contributed by everybody in the community, irrespective of class, contributed whether they pleased or not, and appropriated it in the interests of the men who sent them into Parliament, and who keep them here. I desire to know whether that is a policy of which honorable members, whether they be the old unionists or the new brand of militant unionists, can be proud ? Let me here remark that the phrase “ all things being equal,” in reference to preference to unionists in the Public Service, was simply “ bunkum,” and farcical; that principle was never practised. In the eyes of honorable members opposite, there is no one equal to the man who is a unionist. They cannot help that attitude, because their masters, whosent them here, ordered that that policy should be given effect to.
– Even if that were not true, it would not justify preference to unionists.
– It would not; but the position is that their em ployés are their bosses, and where can there be any discipline under that system ? Where there is no discipline, there is no efficiency, and when there is no efficiency, God only knows what the cost to the country may be. I do know that if there was one thing more than another responsible for the overthrow of the Fisher Government it was this question of preference to unionists, combined with their shocking administration of the expenditure. I say, without fear of contradiction, that those two things, together with their day-labour methods, have been responsible for the waste of at least half a million a year: and I firmly believe that if we could rescue this country from the demoralized condition into which the Service from top to bottom has sunk, and if we could promote efficiency in all Departments, a million pounds of the taxpayers’ money could be saved very easily indeed. Every man who has a spark of manliness rejoices in the improved condition of the worker; everybody rejoices that, during the good years through which we have passed recently, when Australia has enjoyed such a large measure of prosperity, the workers have been sharing in that prosperity by having their wages bettered from time to time. But what is the attitude of unionism to-day ? It is to extract, not only what is just on sound economic lines, but to exploit the public Treasury and the private employer down to the very last drop of blood which it is possible to draw. I desire to read something to honorable members in illustration of that statement. It is well known that, on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, one contractor has been paying the men 13s. 4d. a day. There are railway construction works in progress in South Australia - particularly along the west coast - and the contractors are paying 10s. a day to the navvies for similar work, but in a different climate, and within reach of a lot of the necessaries and comforts that are obtainable only under great difficulty along the route of the transcontinental line. Mr. Verran, the late. Labour Premier of South Australia, was endeavouring, by day work, to construct a piece of railway, on which job the Government paid 9s. per day; but the unionists made things so hot and difficult for him that he had to tell them straight out that they had made it impossible for the
Government to do the work. So he called in a contractor, and gave him 10 per cent. more than the estimate to complete the railway for the Government. That contractor started straight away paying 10s. per day, and has been building railways for the South Australian Government ever since. Tenders are called now for another line on the west coast, known as the Decres Bay railway, and I believe that tenders are due to close about the end of this week. I have in my hand a notice that one contractor has received from Mr. Lundie, the representative of the Australian’ Workers Union in South Australia, and I believe that it is a copy of a similar notice sent by the same gentleman to all men who are contracting for railway work under the South Australian Government.
– What has that to do with preference to unionists?
– It has a great deal to do with it. It shows that, under preference to unionists, there is no limit to what works may cost the taxpayer.
Mr.Fenton. - That is like the Teesdale Smith contract.
– The Teesdale Smith contract is the Opposition’s one little ewe lamb, but, from what I can hear, the results of that contract will falsify their statements, and Mr. Teesdale Smith, for whom I am no advocate, and whom I do not know, is not going to make out of it the fortune that has been suggested. This is Mr. Lundie’s warning - 20th May, 1914.
Dear Sir, - I wish to bring under your notice that members of the Australian Workers Union will require to be paid the same rates of wages as are paid on the contract work on the EastWest Line, namely 13s. 4d. per day minimum, on all works on the west coast of this State, and will come into operation on the new contract coming out for the Decres Bay Lane.
The price paid by contractors in that State has been 10s. - the highest price paid by the Government - and that a Labour Government - was 9s. per day. But Mr. Lundie intimates to these contractors that they are forthwith to pay 13s. 4d. per. day. That is the kind of unionism to which preference is to be given. I do not think there is any likelihood of such a disaster befalling this country.
– It will have to be given, the men will see to that.
– Let me tell my honorable friend that they will not, and that, despite the amalgamated forces of unionism, the time is fast coming when such demands will be steadfastly resisted. There is one power that is stronger even than that of the amalgamated unions, and that is the power and the force of public opinion. When you are up against public opinion you are up against a stone wall. Public opinion, in the long run, will prevail every time. There is yet another reason, and a solid one, why preference to unionists in the Public Service should never be given in a free country by free people. Such a preference is not in the interests of the general taxpayer, and the future development of this great country. We have only reached the fringe of the development of Australia, but under militant unionism to-day every time there is more pay there is less work. That is a substantial reason why there should be no preference to unionists in the Public Service or in any other employment. Preference should be given only to merit. Honorable member’s opposite may receive that statement with great meekness,but letme say again that every time there is more pay there is less work.
– The moral is, I suppose’, that there should be less pay?
– The statement doesnot apply to the honorable member since the poor unfortunate workers, whenever there is an industrial dispute, have to find the money to pay his fees, although every one else goes short. I wish to say with all the earnestness at my command that the attitude of unionism to-day in reducing the stroke and in giving a lower value for a higher pay is a most serious outlook for the country.
– Why does notthe honorable member take on the job and set. a good example ?’
– If I had taken on the job I shouldbe where a good many more are to-day. In reply to the Leader of the Opposition I would say that his charge against the Government of refusing to deal here and now with the Tariff, instead of this Bill, cannot be supported by members of his own party. The Government have remitted’ the Tariff question to a board. That is the wisest and most statesmanlike action that has been taken during the history of this Parliament. There is one newspaper that is everlastingly screeching, in season and out of season, about the Tariff, and that newspaper is screeching to-day, because a competent board is analyzing the Tariff question.
– The honorable member is out of order in referring to that matter.
– I believe that I am, but I was merely replying to the Leader of the Opposition, who, in his concluding remarks, referred to the Tariff question. I shall not, however, follow a bad example. I hope to be able at a very early date to speak with no uncertain sound on the question of the Tariff, which affects the Opposition, in its relation to the cost of living, just as it affects honorable members on this side of the House. There is trouble ahead in connexion with the present-day attitude of unionism in discouraging men from giving an adequate day’s work for a generous day’s pay. This sort of thing cannot always continue. It is not only piling up the cost and increasing the waste in every direction, so far as the public Treasury is concerned, but is having a reflex influence on the work of private employers, and particularly in great industries for which a fairly high Tariff is demanded. If I know the temper of the people of the Commonwealth, then those very people who converted Labour’s majority of ten in this House into a minority of one will earnestly arrest this practice of preference before it becomes any stronger. The sooner we go to the people for a decision the better, since there is no bigger question, no question more vitally affecting those who have to pay the taxation of this country, than that of preference to unionists.
– There are one or two matters relating to this Bill in respect of which I should like to call in aid the AttorneyGeneral. But it would be unfitting, perhaps, that the observations made by the honorable member who has just sat down should go entirely unnoticed. I confess to a difficulty in making what honorable members might consider an adequate response, for the reason that whilst the honorable member for Wakefield indulged in a great many high-sounding phrases - whilst he made such apparently portentous statements concerning unions as that “their objective is the destruction of the established order,” and “this policy of theirs is fraught with tragic possibilities,” there was in his speech very little of what one might describe as “ meat.” There were, however, some things which, although not altogether meaty, were worthy of a reply. The honorable member charges the Opposition, and the leaders of the Labour movement outside this House, with being in the pursuit of plunder, and says that they belong to the movement for the sake of what they can get out of it. I do not mind these reflections. I admit that they are the most offensive that could be conjured up, that they are in their very character and essence the meanest that could be cast upon workers in the Labour movement, either inside or outside this House; but I am not particularly impressed by them. I realize that, as soon as Labour began to organize, as soon as the workers learned the value of selecting men to lead them, to work for them, and to organize for them, honorable members opposite, and their friends, who are opposed to the Labour movement, recognised that this meant their death-blow. They realized that, as long as the Labour movement was but a pious platitude, as long as it spelt disorganization, so long could they afford to ignore it and treat it with contempt. But when it organized, when it selectedmen to place at its head - men who understood the business of organization, and the value of instilling into the minds of Labour, and the unions generally, what they could do - then the whole thing took on a different hue. I do not suppose that there is anything with which we are charged more frequently - and the honorable gentleman has not hesitated even to charge me also with being bitten with it - than the cry that we have something to get out of the movement. What has the honorable member to get out of his movement, when championing the cause of his friends this afternoon, in language which reflects on every person interested in the democratic movement? Has he not as much to get out of it as has any honorable member on this side? Or is he one of those bloated capitalists’ who come here for the love of their country, to mouth the sentiments that he has been uttering this afternoon, in the name of freedom and liberty? His trouble is political unionism. As long as it was merely a matter of industrial unionism, he and his party had no quarrel with us. They had no objection to the industrial unionism under which unions of men met in their Trades Halls, or other places, passed resolutions, and considered there the mutual interests of employers and employes - or, if you like, the interests of employes solely - but who had no power to crystallize into law the effect of their resolutions. Political unionism is something very different, and I, for one, never have made, and never will make, any excuse for the fact that there is in existence today such a thing as political unionism. It is a fact that unions have come to recognise that it is no use merely to pass resolutions - platitudinous sentiments - but that they must be prepared to back them up at the ballot-box. Whether they back them up by votes for this party or for another is a thing within their uncontrolled discretion. We apprehend that they will vote, as most people do, for what they believe to be in the interests of themselves, and hope to be in the interests of the country as a whole.
Mr.Falkiner. - You will not let those live who will not vote for your side.
– We are hearing statements of the kind that we have just heard from the honorable member for Riverina, and his newspaper friends and others all over Australia. The only compulsion we have brought to bear is that moral compulsion which makes men feel ashamed of themselves for not standing by their fellows in efforts to better their conditions of life. It is that moral compulsion that has made some of the friends of the honorable member so shrivel with shame that they have been constrained to call out, “ You will not let us live.” We shall expose them and their policy, until the exposure is appreciated throughout Australia, and, we hope, throughout the world. The honorable member for Wakefield went down to the bedrock of his position when, he spoke of the cost. What is it going to cost, he asked, to do justice to the workers of Australia, to allow to the men and women of Australia decent conditions of life? According to the honorable member, it is going to cost too much. He says, the more pay you give, the less work you will get; the moral being that there must be a reduction in the pay of these bloated aristocrats of Labour who batten on the people, and whom we see driving drays, wielding mallets and hammers, and engaged in all sorts of other occupations, and who have so much left after they have paid the landlord, the butcher, the baker, and candlestickmaker. Cost too much! It has always cost too much to bring about any reform. It was going to cost too much when we proceeded to break down the old vicious principle of freedom of contract; which caused men, and women more than men, to be the sweated slaves of the conditions in which they lived in the older countries of the world, and here, too. When we introduced the Wages Board system, it was going to cost too much to improve the conditions of the workers by their means. Every friend of the Liberal party as we know it now - not the Liberalism as reflected on this side of the chamber at the present time, but the Conservatism that is opposite - they and their press champions opposed the introduction of Wages Boards, because it would interfere with the sacred principle of freedom of contract, and would cost too much.
– Who introduced the Wages Boards?
– The Labour party, backing up the Liberal party of the day, which was not the Liberal party of the present day. Our friends opposite trade in the name of Liberalism; but I ask them, if they had to choose between the radical Liberalism of Lloyd-George and Winston Churchill and the Conservatism opposed to them, on which side would they rank themselves? It would be, I think, with the Unionists of Great Britain, not with the unionists of this country.
Mr.Falkiner. - How does the honorable member describe himself politically?
– I am content and proud to be a Labour man; and I make claim to that honour because, before I took up the profession which I now practise, it was my privilege to work side by side, blow for blow, and sweatdrop with sweatdrop, with better men, probably, than any of those with whom the honorable member has ever worked.
– I trust that the honorable member may be allowed to make his speech without interruption.
– Having dealt with the honorable member for Wakefield perhaps more than sufficiently - because we have heard of his arguments before, and they have been answered a hundred times, I wish to put one point for the consideration of the Attorney-General. It is not a legitimate function, of a Government to legislate with the deliberate view of hampering or embarrassing a succeeding Government.
– Would any other Government be hampered by this Bill ?
– I do not think so, but it is the deliberately expressed intention of Ministers to hamper succeeding Governments. It has been stated, with perhaps wearisome iteration, that the Bill itself accomplishes nothing. The members of the Ministry say, “ True, during our time it accomplishes nothing; but when the Labour party is returned, if it should be returned, it will have to pass an Act of Parliament to give effect to the wish of the people to restore the principle of preference to unionists in the making of temporary appointments to the Public Service.”
– The Police Offences Act accomplishes nothing until its provisions have been broken.
– Whatever might have been accomplished by this Bill has, in fact, been accomplished by a Ministerial proclamation, and preference to unionists in appointments to the Public Service has been prohibited. Therefore, the Government must be pinned to this fact, that the object of the Bill is to hamper a succeeding Administration. That fact shows that Ministers think that another Government will succeed them before very long.
– The honorable member cannot say that political offences are done away with because this Government are not committing any.
– I do not say that. Having prohibited preference to unionists by Ministerial action, they are now saying that when another Government comes into power, with, of course, ‘ a mandate in favour of the policy which it has advocated, it will find the giving effect to that mandate as difficult as possible. If that can be justified on democratic lines, anything can be justified. To say,
Ave know that the Act will do nothing now., but we are guarding against the people in the future doing something which we think that they ought not to do, is indefensible. ‘ In my mind, there is no more difficulty about preference to unionists in connexion with appointments to the Public Service than in connexion with other appointments. I have never made any apology for the proclamation of the ex-Minister of Home Affairs on this subject. The word preference, it is true, is one which lends itself to misconstruction and misrepresentation by those who desire to misconstrue and misrepresent, but I have never understood why preference to unionists, which is an established principle which honorable members opposite dare not assail, should not be applied to appointments to the Public Service. The Attorney-General has said that to apply preference to unionists by means of a Court and by a mere administrative act are two different things. If Ministers cannot take responsibility for their actions in regard to the appointment of persons to the Public Service, they are not worthy of the positions which they hold. If there is one way of applying the principle of preference to unionists which is more honest than another it is to make an open proclamation of policy on the subject. That is what was done by the last Labour Government. One of the effects of such action is to encourage employers, by showing them that, not only have we legislated in favour of preference to unionists, but that in our appointments we apply the principle. One more interesting point arises from the further examination of this Bill. It’ has been introduced in the name of freedom and of liberty, and has been championed on the ground that themoney .of the people should be impartially dispensed to the King’s subjects. Yet here is a curious thing. In making appointments to the Public Service the Government is to have absolutely unlimited discretion except in respect of one matter, that is, it must not be influenced by the consideration, is an applicant a member of a union or not? It is remarkable that, while, in the case of two persons coming before a Government officer for employment, there may be a million reasons which would influence that officer, this Bill does not challenge one of the million. The Government officer is given absolutely unlimited discretion, except that he must not be influenced by the inquiry whether a man is or is not a member of a union.-
The whole effect, therefore, is merely to limit and hamper the discretion of the Government in the employment of its own men. The Bill does not give freedom, but is restrictive in its operation; and it comes naturally from a Government which has always endeavoured to narrow down the operations of the Federal Parliament in this as in other spheres.
– Although the honorable member says that, he does not prove it.
– I submit that it is obvious, and if I restate the case, it may become equally obvious to the honorable member. Let us take the case of two persons who come before the Government officer for employment.
– There is prohibition of preference, but not prohibition of employment.
– There is absolute prohibition so far as concerns the Government officer being influenced by the consideration whether or not a man is a unionist. There is a limitation of the discretion of the Government; and, indeed, there must be. Let us assume two men, a unionist and a non-unionist, who apply for employment, and who in other respects are absolutely equal-
-The Bill says that they shall have equal chances.
– What the Bill says is that the Government must not take into consideration the fact that one is a unionist, and this, notwithstanding that this Parliament for years past has been pledged to the policy of organization as against disorganization, and of unionism as against non-unionism. The Government have always favoured unionism, as Rudyard Kipling says, “ with their mouths “ - have always avowedly favoured unionism and organization, and they are committed to a Conciliation and Arbitration Act based on organization. Yet, in the case of the two men I have instanced, who are in all respects equal, the Government is prevented-
– Show us the remotest limitation.
– If my honorable friend cannot understand me, I am afraid I cannot make the point any clearer. Let us suppose that under the circumstances the Government officer is embarrassed in his choice, would itnot be reasonable, sunder the circumstances, forhim to de cide to favour the man who represents the policy of the Federal Government, namely, the policy oforganization and unionism? By this Bill, however, which is introduced in the name of freedom and liberty, the discretion of the Government is, as I say, hampered in the employment of its own labourers. That is, and must be, the only possible effect; and it must be obvious to the meanest understanding that this little Bill, small and insignificant, and, if I may say so with the greatest’ respect, contemptible and useless as it is, is merely the beginning. It is analogous to the poverty in strength of the Government in this Parliament. As their strength is great, so will their attack on unionism be great. To-day, their capacity being so small as to be barely visible or ascertainable, their attack on unionism is of the weakest, paltriest, and meanest character. It is, however, sufficient for us to know that it represents an attack on the whole policy of unionism. The honorable member for Wilmot laughs incredulously, I was going to say derisively.
– It is a great assertion !
– And I am going to prove the assertion. Of course, ithas been proved a dozen times in this House already, but, as this Bill leaves us for the Senate on its chequered career, to suffer the fatal termination which we know will so soon overtake it, it is incumbent on us to cover it with all the ignominy and odium it deserves.
– What is the “ fatal termination “ ?
– My honorable friend must possess himself in patience; but I think this Bill will have the same termination as will the Home Rule Bill when it goes to the House of Lords on the 22nd June.
– And the result will be about the same, I suppose?
– So far as the triumph of Democracy is concerned, I have not the slightest doubt the result will be precisely the same.
– Is the end to be short, sharp, and decisive, or a lingering death?
– That is not in my hands. I shallnot be in attendance on it as adviser, practitioner, nurse, or anything else; it will be left in other and independent hands for the time being.
I saythat this Bill is a deliberately planned attack on unionism, firstly, because of the recollection of the policy which this Government brought down about the 13th August last year. It was then proposed to introduce, not this paltry legislation, but legislation dealing with the whole question of what they were pleased to call political unionism. It was the intention and policy of the Government at that time to prohibit political unionism; and it was a step very far in advance of anything proposed to be accomplished by the measure before us. I have already shown why I consider political unionism to be justifiable, desirable, and absolutely necessary, and I shall say no more at this stage, except that the Government have not dared to persevere with their policy in that regard. They had no reason whatever to abandon that policy; and, as before pointed out, they could have closured it through the Chamber with just as much ease and good grace as they closured other important proposals of far-reaching interest last session. That policy which they abandoned was one attack they made, or proposed to make, and there was another in relation to the rural workers, who were to have their “ exemption restored.” The very phrasing of that policy was excellent, and the words were chosen with masterly skill - something was to be “ restored “ to the rural workers. It was not said that the rural workers were to be driven out of the law, and made outlaws, or that they were to be abandoned by the Government, but that their “ exemption “ was to be “ restored,” and they were to be left to the tender mercies of the States. The Government, perhaps, found it inconvenient to remember that the States, through their fifty odd years of constitutional government, had never attempted to deal with the rural workers, and that, even if they did attempt to deal with them, they would find that they have not the necessary constitutional powers.
– The States can deal only with disputes within their own borders.
– If those disputes are within their own borders, cannot the States deal with them?
– Of course they can, and I have never denied the fact. But the honorable member for Wimmera, also the Attorney-General - who is a past master in demonstrating the futility of State legislation in regard to these matters - have urged the utter impracticability of the States coping with industrial trouble of any importance, by reason of the local limitations of their powers.
– But the honorable member said that constitutionally the States have not the power.
– I did; and constitutionally the States have not the power to deal with disputes which extend beyond their borders.
– Disputes are manufactured, sometimes !
– And the Chief Justice said that that kind of thing is a fraud on the Constitution.
– With the greatest respect, I may point out that the Chief Justice was in a minority on the point.
– And the honorable member for Bendigo, who is on the Labour side, quite approves of the view of the Chief Justice.
– Honorable members opposite may, if they like, speak of “manufacturing” disputes; I admit that the men have strained every nerve to get the benefit of the arbitration laws of the Commonwealth, in spite of honorable members opposite, who have done all they could to keep them from that tribunal. And what wrong is this on the part of workmenwho come within organizations and lay down the weapon which they previously had, namely, the right to strike, besides encumbering themselves with all those limitations and conditions the Arbitration Act imposes on persons who join organizations registered under it ? What attraction is there for men to bind themselves in this way unless it be an honorable desire to have industrial troubles regulated in a peaceful and lawful way by the courts of the land ?
– Then you approve of the creation of artificial disputes?
– I do not approve of the creation of artificial disputes, and I challenge my friend to point to one case in which a dispute was held by the Court to be an artificial dispute.
– I digress, but unfortunately for the honorable member I have got in my challenge before your call, while he has not been able to get in his reilly. But these observations were drawn from me by the Treasurer repeating what has so often been said about this so-called manufacturing of disputes. I was discussing rural workers on this question of preference, and showing that the Bill was a deliberate attack on the whole policy of unionism. If the principle of general preference is sound it ought to be applied by a responsible Government to its employes so far as it may be applied. It cannot be applied under the Commonwealth Arbitration (Public Service) Act, as I understand from men better qualified to judge than myself.
– Why did not your Government make it applicable under that Act !
– My friend had better not raise that question, because if he inquires from the Attorney-General he will be told that the Attorney-General at that time was under the impression that it did apply. Once, therefore, the soundness of the general principle of preference is admitted, there is no logical reason why it should not be applied to temporary workmen in the Commonwealth Public Service. And is it sound ? I think it has been proved to demonstration that the principle of preference is absolutely sound. It is a principle that I have defended, I flatter myself, more or less successfully, on every platform where I have spoken, whether in the town or in the country, and it is merely an adventitious use of the word “ preference “ which has won for honorable members on the Ministerial side any support to their policy of hostility towards the general principle of preference to unionists - merely the playing upon the word that has deluded many eople, perhaps not unnaturally, into the belief that preference spelt unfair treatment to one section of the community as against some other.
– Give us your definition of “preference.”
– Preference to unionists, in the sense in which we have applied it, and have used it in the Arbitration Act, and in the sense in which I would have used it in regard to Government employment, spells no unfairness to any section of the community, and for these reasons arbitration is based on preference to unionists. You cannot have arbitration without preference to unionists.
– How can you say that in the administration of the Government service there can be arbitration?
– I have every desire to answer my friend. I have dealt with the question so far as this - I say that once the principle of preference to unionists is admitted it cannot be logically denied to the employes under responsible Government ; and if a Court is empowered to give preference to unionists in a dispute between private individuals it is not only justifiable, but obligatory that the Government should set an example in regard to the application of that principle, so that when two men confront a Minister, if other conditions of employment are equal, preference should be given to the nian who subscribes to a policy which has been accepted by the Commonwealth as a whole.
– For what reason do we require preference to unionists from private employers?
– The reasons are many and weighty.
– Are they identical with those in regard to the Government service?
– They are largely, if not wholly, the same reasons.
– Then does victimization apply under the Government?
– I do not wish to be led into the allegation that such a thing has happened - it may, or it may not have happened - but it does not meet my argument that where the Government, in the interests of law and order and good government, have accepted a policy, and laid down the general principle of arbitration, which is based on unionism, it behoves the Government, more particularly than an individual, to say that where there are two men in question, in the interests of good government, of law and order, or, if you like, of unionism and of the policy wo have accepted, as between these two men, other things being equal, the choice should fall on the man who subscribes to the national policy.
– Can you tell us how many awards of preference have been granted by the Court, and how many men have been affected by them?
– The honorable member asks for statistics. It is a very significant fact that though preference to unionists has been made part of an award in but few instances, the President of the Court has in each case before him warned the parities that if he should find an instanceof victimization, or if he had any reason to believe that such a thing ex isted, or that non-unionists were being preferred to unionists, he would be most happy to apply the principle of preference to unionists. In at least one case he has given an award containing an application of the principle of preference to unionists.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– It is rather a curious thing that one of the most virulent charges made against this party is the alleged fact that the policy of the late Labour Government in regard to preference to unionists was the beginning of a system of Tammany in Australia - prizes and perquisites to political friends. I may say in, reply to that, as I have already said in regard to someof the observations made by the honorable member for Wakefield, that this certainly is the most venomous kind of criticism that can be addressed towards this party, because it is an allegation of corruption. And.it comes from a party who showed a very refined sensitiveness when their own actions respecting the transcontinental railway contract were under criticism. Then Ministers were insistent that our criticism on a matter of public policy amounted to a personal charge against the Honorary Minister. Of course it meant nothing of the kind, and, notwithstanding the desire of honorable members to hug that suggestion to themselves as a personal charge, we repudiated any such intention. Wesaid that the contract showed bungling and maladministration, and beyond that we did not desire to go. But this Tammany charge is a gross libel, not only on every member of this party, but upon the Australian public as a whole, and in that aspect it ought to. be deeply resented by members on both sides. It ought to be perfectly obvious that any publicly expressed policy, such as preference to unionists, which is, to use a common form of expression, painted on the moon so that all may understand it, cannot be corrupt, because everybody sees it and appreciates it, and accepts or rejects it with unrestrained and equal voting power. The measure of its popularity, we may presume, will be to some extent, at all events, the benefits it brings to the community; and if this is a baneful practice, the Labour party is prepared to pay the penalty for its inception and for persevering with it. We say it is not a pernicious practice. The fact is that the Labour party, in respect of this question of preference to unionists, stand as the champions of organized labour and regulated industry, and law and order as distinguished from disorganization and conditions bordering on anarchy. It is that sharp line of difference which separates members on this side from members opposite, and I think it cannot be too frequently urged that if there are any representatives who wilfully, or in effect, whether wilfully or not, are friends of Syndicalism, they are the honorable members opposite, who continue to oppose organization and any encouragement we desire to offer to organization.
– No one looking at your face would think you are a humorist.
– I do not pride myself on being one, but I do appreciate a. joke, even if it comes from the honorable member for Henty, whose jokes are pot. always of the most subtle character. We. cannot all be Harry Lauders. The fact is that we urge for every union certain preference, and we do it for the reason that unions, in organizing under the Arbitral tion Act, take upon themselves certain obligations, and giveup certain rights. In this respect I would like to refer to some remarks made by the honorable member for Echuca. The honorable member has spoken about the prices persons have to pay in order to join certain unions, and he instanced theFelt Hatters Union, in respect of which there was said to be a prohibitive entrance fee.
– That was so at onetime.
– I do not know what the fee was, nor am I concerned to know what it was. I am here advocating the organization of labour under the Arbitration Act, and I call attention to the fact that such a prohibitive entrance fee as was mentioned by the honorable member for Echuca would not be possible underthat statute.
– Does the honorable member forget that I was quoting an observation by an honorable member on his own side of the House ?
– I am not concerned with whom the honorable member was quoting; I am concerned only with the facts. I learn by interjection that the honorable member professed to be quoting the honorable member for Boothby, but I am told that he did not quote correctly. I am endeavouring to show what is involved by organizations coming under the Arbitration Act, and how these organizations, which are said to work up artificial disputes in order to approach the Court, must first of all give up a number of the rights they possessed previously, and take upon themselves certain obligations which they did not have to bear “before. Amongst the conditions, by reason of which an organization may be de-registered, is this one -
That the rules of a registered organization or their administration do not provide reasonable facilities for the admission of new members, or impose unreasonable conditions upon the continuance of their membership, or are in any way tyrannical or oppressive.
Here is another condition-
That the accounts of a registered organization have not been audited, in pursuance of the rules, or that the accounts of the organization or of the auditor do not disclose the true financial position of the organization.
There are a number of others, such as - .
That a registered organization has wilfully neglected to obey an order of the Court.
That the rules of a registered organization have been altered so as to no longer comply with the prescribed conditions or have not bond fide been observed.
That the proper ‘authority of a registered organization wilfully neglects to provide for the levying and collection of subscriptions, fees, or penalties from members of the organization.
And then there is this sweeping dragnet condition -
That for any reasons the registration of an organization ought to be cancelled.
When unions register they give up the right to strike under pain of a very severe penalty, and they have to comply with very strict and searching conditions during the period of their registration. For this main reason, and the fact that every organization registered under this Act did give up those rights, and did submit itself to these obligations, we say the Government should be the very first to recognise those who do their best to comply with these orderly, regulated conditions in regard to industry. It is for those reasons, also, that we say that when there are two or more men offering for employment, other things being equal, the fact of some of them being organized and complying with the law, should at least have sufficient weight to induce a Government officer to say, “ Well, as there are no other conditions to weigh with me in making a selection, I am entitled to select the persons who most readily fall in with the policy of the Commonwealth in regard to organized labour.” It has been said that these organizations manufacture disputes. I point out in that regard that the worst which can happen as a result of these manufactured disputes is that we get an award of the highest tribunal in the land qualified to deal with the matter in dispute, and I further point out that, although those disputes may be manufactured< in respect of non-essentials, such as the linking-up of disputes between State and State, they cannot be manufactured as regards the essential matter of the strained relations between employers and employes in the different States. Consequently we should encourage rather than discourage men approaching the courts of the land. It .is a matter of intense regret to me - if I may ,be, for once, given credit by my friends opposite for candour and disinterestedness in this matter - .that in all the cases brought before the Arbitration Court the friends and supporters of honorable members opposite, the employers of labour, exercise every means at their command to prevent an award being given. I would not object at all to them fighting on the merits of the case ; my objection is that they fight merely on the technicalities, for the purpose of preventing the merits of the case being tried in the Court. Reference has been made to the lawyers’ union. Sometimes I think this question of preference to unionists in the law must be an extraordinarily non-party one, because lawyers receive a certain amount of criticism from both sides of the House, and for that reason I can afford to treat the matter with a more or less judicial mind. It is well worth knowing that the legal profession not only avails itself of all the ordinary rules in regard to unionism, and has its unions - all honour to them, I do not call them law-breakers - but it has the dual protection of statute law, and the ordinary relationship of members in a union. In the law and the medical profession, men are allowed to practise only when they are qualified according to certain statutory standards. That is the first protection they enjoy. Having qualified according to those standards they form their unions. Such as the Bar Association, the Law Institute, the Law Society, and other associations for different branches of the profession. I confess, as I have often done, and even the AttorneyGeneral has admitted it, that the lawyers have their unions. The AttorneyGeneral has admitted that to-night, and has said that he respects his union. I am glad to have that statement from him at last.
– He is a brand plucked from the burning.
– Quite so.
– I have often said in this House that I am a member of a union.
– I think that it was on the motion for the second reading of this Bill that the Attorney-General said : “ Why talk about law unions? It is perfectly true that we lawyers, like other men, are required to qualify up to a certain standard before we can practise, but apart from that there is no unionism about the profession of the law.” That, I think, is substantially what the honorable gentleman then said.
– No. I said that there was no preference to unionists. That is a very different thing.
– I did not understand the honorable gentleman to say so. It is now admitted, however, as it must be, that there is unionism in connexion with the profession of the law, and from my point of view that is quite right. I read in a recent issue of the London Times a report regarding an agitation which is going on in England for the admission of women to the bar. In Victoria women are entitled to practise at the bar, and there is an agitation going on in England to give them the same right. Possibly some honorable members may have heard that there is also on foot in Great Britain an agitation to give the women the vote, and I should like to say in passing that the object of that agitation has my complete sympathy. In the few moments remaining I propose to quote a letter which was written to the London Times of 3rd ultimo, by a country solicitor, as it will give honorable members some idea of how unionism in the legal profession is regarded there. The letter is as follows: -
I have hitherto supported a Liberal policy of progress and reform, but when this policy is moulded according to political exigency, and appears to have become a mania for topsyturvydom, the instinct of self-preservation, to put it on no higher ground, forces one into the opposite camp. My disappointment with the Government is only equalled by my disappointment at the non-effectiveness of the Law Society - that is the union - in conserving and furthering the interests of our profession. I joined the Law Society in the hope, apparently vain, that a society representing the bulk of the profession, would be able to make its influence felt, and would at least be able -
Listen to this - to do as much for solicitors as a trade union can do and has done for a plumber or bricklayer. On the contrary, however, an obsolete system of inadequate remuneration still obtains, and, owing, to the competition of his brethren, a solicitor can rarely get paid more than halfscale charges, and in the country often not even that.
I invite honorable members to listen to what may happen by reason of the sweating effects of competition -
Chartered accountants take away his company and bankruptcy work, and obtain a much higher remuneration therefor. House agents tout his clients, sell property, of which he holds the title deeds, prepare open contracts, and stop their exorbitant commission out of the deposit, and prepare agreements in lieu of leases, and in any and every other matter that advertising and touting brings into their net. Any and every other person who chooses to do the accustomed work of solicitors does so without let or hindrance, either from the law or the Law Society, except in the case of a document under seal, or actual holding out as a “solicitor” in any matter.
– Order. The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I regret that I have not time to supplement my observations in regard to the right of women to practise in Court.
.- I should not have risen but for the fact that the honorable member for Wakefield made some pointed references to a subject of which, I think, he knows but little. He is one of those who were at one time members of the Liberal party, but who, when there was no longer any scope for that class of politician to exist, got in out of the wet by entering the ultra-Conservative party fold, which is now known as the Fusion party. Such honorable members do not hesitate to twit those of more Democratic views who, when the line of demarcation was so clearly drawn, went over to the side of progress, and who, as members of the Labour party, are seeking now to make the world a better place in which to live. The honorable member for Wakefield made special reference to myself and others who have put up a fight for industrialism, declaring that those who were in the forefront of the battle had not received the rewards to which their service entitled them at the hands of Labour. I regret that the honorable member is not present, because I propose to mention, in refutation of his statement, a number of names with which he is well acquainted - names of men with whom he has sat in the State Parliament. The trouble with the honorable member is that his scalp as a member of the State Parliament, already hangs on the belt of the Labour party. We were successful in ousting him from the Legislature of South Australia, and the time is not far distant when we shall also have his scalp as a member of the Federal Parliament. We are nothing if we are not a party with a set purpose. We have carved out for ourselves a clearcut course, and we intend to follow it. Although we may be in a small minority in this House at the present time, we feel that the reforms which we have been successful in carrying, the legislation winch we have passed in the Federal and State Parliaments, are of such a character that it will not be long before the people will again return our party to power in the Commonwealth Parliament. The political death-knell of some honorable members opposite has already been sounded, and that is why they take exception to our tactics. Coming to the honorable member’s statement that those who in the past made great sacrifices in the cause of Labour were not rewarded for their services as they should have been, I propose to point out that in South Australia, at all events, all who were in the memorable fight to which I referred on a previous occasion were recompensed in accordance with the work they had done, and that they were returned Ibo either the State or the Federal Parliament. In the first place I would remind the honorable member of the late Frank Hourigan and John Abel McPherson, both of whom died in the service. Then, again, there was the late Tom Price, who, at one time, was reviled to a greater extent, perhaps, than was any other man in Labour politics, but who, before he died, was acclaimed as an honest, faithful patriot of his coun- try. He was rewarded for his services, and he, too, died in harness. Then there is the late Mr. Batchelor, who represented Boothby in this House, and whose memory is revered not only in the State of which he was so long a representative, but by every honorable -member ‘of this House who was fortunate enough to be associated with him. He died in the service, of the party and the country. Yet another name which I shall mention is that of Mr. Kirkpatrick, who took part in the Labour movement of the early nineties, when we were told that if we were not satisfied with existing conditions we should secure representation in Parliament. He and others I have named were in the forefront of the battle, and they were returned to Parliament as soon as the band of reformers came together as the Labour party. Mr. Kirkpatrick was a member of the State Parliament. He was elevated to the position of AgentGeneral, and returned recently from London full of honours magnificently earned. Another man whose services were rewarded, but of whom I cannot speak aa I have of others, is Mr. Charleston. He was foolish enough to .think that he could play “ ducks and drakes “ with the party that had made him, and to-day he is out of political life. He was taken up by the Liberal party and returned to the Senate, but the electors found out his true value and relegated him to obscurity. Other men in the forefront of the fight were the honorable member for Hindmarsh, Mr. Archibald; the honorable member for Grey, Mr. Poynton; Mr. Coneybeer, Mr. McGillivray, members of the State Parliament; Senator McGregor, and Mr. Fred Wallis, M.L.C. There are several others whose names I could mention if it were necessary, but I have said sufficient, I think, to justify the interjections I made while the honorable member for Wakefield was speaking, that his statement was incorrect. The honorable member went on to say that we were striving for industrial supremacy. That is undoubtedly true. That is the ideal we have before us. What, on the other hand, is the goal of the commercial section of the community 1 There are, after all, only two elements in our community. We have on the one hand the section that produces, and on the other the exploiters of the producers, commonly known as the commercial element. There are several branches of the latter section, but they are all dependent upon the main one. Even the legal element is dependent for its very life upon the commercial element..
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– I am endeavouring to refute arguments that have been advanced in support of the Bill. Our contention is that the Government will not stop at the prohibition of preference to unionists in Government employment as proposed, by this measure. The AttorneyGeneral has admitted that if he had they power he would do away with preference to unionists in every shape and form-. There is more behind the Bill than meets the eye. If we let the Ministerialists tell the country that we accepted the Bill, having noreasonable argument to advance against it, the thin edge of the wedge would be inserted to force the. principle of preference to unionists out of the arbitration law. Therefore we feel that we are doing the right thing in offering the strongest opposition to the Bill. We contend that no member of the community should be allowed to be the camp follower of any section; that nonunionists should not be permitted to benefit By the efforts of unionists who sacrifice themselves to obtain that which is just for their fellows. We say that those who bear the burden should alone enjoy the benefits obtained. I should not object if it were provided that those who do not subscribe to union funds, and take part in the struggles which gain extra emoluments, shorter hours, and better conditions, should not enjoy those benefits, and that when the wages and the industry to which they belong were increased as the result of unionism they should be left to what the honorable member for Werriwa has called the inexorable law of supply and demand. It is not only the workers who have to complain of men who wish to take advantage of the efforts of others. At the present time the bakers are objecting to night work, which they say is detrimental to the health of the operatives. They contend that bread should- be baked in the daytime, and that the day-baking system can be adopted without hardship to the public. Mr. Eldridge, a prominent. Adelaide baker, who has taken some part- in the fight against the unions on this matter, writing to the local newspapers in reply, to the secretary of the Bakers Society says; referring to a ballot taken by the Master Bakers Association to determine whether they should fight the unions, or allow the dispute to be dealt with by arbitration and conciliation -
Some who did not send in their papers gave verbal answers and financial assistance. The rest, unfortunately, were willing that we should do the work and shoulder the expense, while they meanly took any advantage that might be gained. That class of individual is to be found in all societies and associations.
That statement shows that those who have been called the sneaks of society are not found wholly among the workers. But the employers have methods of dealing with those who will not come into line. Sooner or later pressure is brought to bear, and on the next occasion those who now will not take part in concerted action will be no longer standing aloof. The employers do not find it necessary to ask for preference, because they have methods for enforcing combined action upon their members. The employes, however, are not in the same position. The unionists among them are fighting to benefit the community at large, and ask that a law be placed’ on the statute book which will make it incumbent upon all to take their fair share of the work of improving the conditions of. the workers. The honorable member for Wakefield spoke of Mr. Lundie - who, I am proud to say, is a friend of mine - as, a good fellow who always says straight out what he wants. He made a similar reference to the honorable member for, Darling. There are honorable members opposite who, in fighting unionism, accuse the. paid officials; of the unions, the union bosses, of causing strife. In view of the statements that we have had! from such speakers, it was strange to hear the honorable member for Wakefield expressing, the highest admiration for these two bosses of the biggest union in Australia. I hope that when trouble again takes place, and it may occur in connexion with a request for preference to the Commonwealth Government, this eulogium will be remembered. Should any contest occur, it will be Mr. Lundie’s duty to see that any business betw een the Government and, the members of the Australian Workers Union is transacted through him. When he makes a demand, it is always for a few shillings more, or for better conditions. The time will come when we shall demand better conditions, and I trust that the honorable member for Wakefield will assist those on this side of the House who will support Mr. Lundie and the Australian Workers Union in their attempts to better the conditions of the lowest grade of labour,, whose needs are greater than’ those of the skilled artisan. I hope that the Government will not gain from the passing of the measure what it hopes to gain. Personally I cannot’ be accused of being afraid of going to the country, because I represent- a constituency in which Labour is not afraid of defeat. But this Parliament has only recently been elected, and has a three-year term to go. I shall notreiterate the constitutional arguments against a double dissolution; I wish to dwell upon the needlessness of forcing the country to spend £100,000 on an election two years before the due time. We have heard a great deal of late of the rights of the- taxpayer, and those who are so considerate of those rights should be loth to impose this burden upon the people. Having, gained their battle, I hope that the Ministerialists will be content with, their win, and will not try to go further. I appeal to them not to unnecessarily squander the people’s money. There could t>e an amicable arrangement under which non-contentious legislation of benefit to the country could be dealt with, without an appeal to the electors. Were Ministers really sincere in their objection to” preference to unionists, they would propose to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation law. Had they proposed such- an amendment, I should have drawn attention to a provision which is injurious to trade unions. The union of which I am a member has experienced’ the hardship of it. The provision to which I refer- prevents unions from suing for arrears. The quotation that I have made from Mr. Eldridge’s- letter shows that there are bakers who refuse to honour their obligations^ and there are a- few such persons among the unionists. Notwith standing-, anything that may be said to- the contrary,.1 know that the -union subscription fees and entrance fees are not prohibitive, and that in most cases no entrance fee is charged. The Australian Workers Union does not charge an« entrance fee. That union has never any occasion to prosecute members- for payment of arrears or to trace up recalcitrant blacklegs, simply because the organizer calls on a man- and. sells him a ticket for a price- which covers? the whole year’s sub- scrip ti on. In the union with- which- 1 am connected, there are some members who have got back in their payments-, and, according to a section in the Act, we are forced to sue under a State statute in a court of summary jurisdiction. Here, however, there comes into operation what is known as the statute of limitation, which makes it impossible to sue for any arrears over six months. I see from your demeanour, Mr. Speaker, that I am somewhat wandering from the subject before the Chair, but I may say that I am still hopeful that the Government will introduce some amending Bill to make the Conciliation and Arbitration Act more acceptable to trade unionists-. If they do that the Government will bestow a boon on organized . labour, and remove some ground for the charge that they have been some eighteen months in office and have not introduced any legislation of public benefit. I shall say no more, but leave my remarks to have their effect on the- Government. I feel positive that when the great day comes, if ever it does come, for an appeal to the people, the Labour party will have nothing to fear. In the- development of this party from industrial unionism we have no cause to be ashamed; and I am optimistic enough to think that, when the numbers go up, instead of finding the figures 38 to 37, we shall come back with a greater majority than that with, which we left office on- the last occasion, and that we shall be able to- introduce legislation to’ the- benefit of the people- as a whole.
.- This, I suppose, is .the “ last lap,” but I do not think that the vote will settle the question. We know that no question is settled- until it is settled aright, and certainly this’ Bill does not represent the right way’; and no one knows that better than does- the Attorney-General. This Bill has been- conceived’ in a spirit of vindictiveness against the industrial- unions, and it is– an attack on. those’ unions, and those unions alone. If it were not for the* fact that during the’ last few years the- industrial unions- have taken- politics more Seriously than ever- before, this Bill’ would not have been introduced’; and it is only because the workers have seen fit to organize politically, as well as industrially, that we have this proposal before us. Here, again, no one is better aware of the facts- than is the Attorney-General’. The unions are now beginning to make their weight felt at the polls. In 1890, at the time of the maritime trouble, the men were told not to strike, but to get their grievances redressed by their representatives in Parliament; and the corollary of organization is the representation of organizations before the industrial tribunal. That being so, those who undertake the work of organizing the workers, and the work of the organization, and of settling these industrial matters are entitled to some reward in the shape of preference. It is within the memory, I suppose, of every member of this House that unionists, as workers, were at one time divided into two political camps, as they are now to a large degree in Great Britain, the United States and other countries; and it is only when they organize themselves definitely as workers that any fault is found with them. To-day the honorable member for Wakefield taunted some honorable members on this side with not having been very long in the trade union movement - with coming into that movement simply because they desired to obtain what he termed “ political plums.” That view of the matter is, however, an entirely incorrect one.
– The honorable member has slandered every working man in the community.
– That is not new in the case of the honorable member for Wakefield. It may be that some who have come later into the movement have risen to prominent places by reason of their ability, and, at any rate, it would be quite easy to point to some honorable members opposite who have not been in politics very long, but who have found places in this House and positions in the Liberal party. As I said on the second reading, I am not so concerned with the Bill as with the fear that honorable members opposite will not put the position fairly before the people if there should be a general election on this question. Honorable members opposite ought to tell the electors that this Bill has no relation whatever to permanent employes in the Public Service, but that it only applies to the temporary hands, and that it gives no advantage over any other persons in the community. My fear in this regard is strengthened by what appears in the current issue of The Liberal, a periodical which is published in Victoria In support of the present Government. I do not know whether the extract is a report of a speech delivered by the Minister of Trade and Customs or is an article contributed to The Liberal by him, but it is as follows: -
PREFERENCE IN ADMINISTRATION.
Minister of Customs, Hon. L.E. Groom, Exposes the Injustice of the Claim.
If men are to be appointed to the Public Service, not because they are the best men for the jobs, but because they have rendered some service to the community, why should that service to the community be confined to one object only?
The Minister of Trade and Customs knows full well that this Bill applies only to the temporary employes of the Government, and my fear is that it may be represented to the people that permanent appointments are involved.
– When I spoke on Friday I said distinctly that the Bill applied only to temporary employes.
– This is not the only publication which supports honorable members opposite, and which misrepresents the position; and the statement I have read is an absolutely unfair one.
– The Liberal is one of the fairest papers in Australia.
– If I were permitted, I could draw attention to another paragraph in this paper which expresses the opinion that the honorable member is not likely to drop dead with heart disease owing to the speed with which he is dealing with the Navigation Act. Every honorable member opposite knows that this Bill applies only to temporary men.
– What the honorable member has to justify is the principle of granting preference to even temporary employes.
– If honorable members opposite will present that view, and that view only, on the platform, I shall be satisfied.
– The honorable member may be sure that we shall stick to the truth.
– Then the Liberal party will follow a different line from any they have followed hitherto.
– How many Commonwealth employe’s will the Bill apply to?
– I gave the figures during the second-reading debate, but I may tell the honorable member that there are three classes of employes in the Public Service. First, there are the permanent men, who number about 20,000, and get into- the Service by examination, and by examination only, a system which is different from that in practice where Liberal Governments are in existence. I could quote an article from the Age of 21st May to show the rottenness in the Public Service that exists in Great Britain under a Liberal Government. Next, there are about 14,000 or 15,000 exempt officers, who do not come under the Public Service Commissioner; and, lastly, there are about 2,000 or 3,000 employed on temporary work; and, seeing that the Government are abandoning the day-labour system and going in for contract work at double the cost at which they could get work done by day labour - as the Prime Minister showed in connexion with the laying of telephone cables in Sydney - and are going to give away more of the taxpayers’ money by doing something which they would not do with their own private concerns - there they employ direct labour wherever they can, because they know that if they appoint good overseers they can get better work from direct labour than from contractors - there will be fewer temporary employes if the Government employ contractors to do the work. The honorable member for Wannon will have an opportunity to speak after me.
– That is why I wish you to answer my question.
– It is not permitted to answer questions ; but I can adopt the attitude of Ministers- if I find a question too knotty, I can ask the honorable member to give notice of it; if I find that I can score by doing so, I answer it.
– Will you say that there are no employes outside the Commonwealth Service who will not be affected by this preference?
– As far as I understand the Bill, it is supposed to have one specific purpose, and that is to deal with the question of preference to Government employes. If the Government desire it to apply to all, why do they not bring forward a comprehensive measure, and wipe out the provision in the Arbitration Act? But they do not dare to do that. Mr. Deakin, who described the party opposite so ably as the “ wreckage of all parties,” and who afterwards joined them, and was one of the wreckage thrown up on the beach, showed in another speech how preference to unionists had grown, and how it was agreed to, so far as the Arbitration Act was concerned, by all parties - including the wreckage and the political deadbeats. What I object to is that there will be misrepresentation on the platform by our friends opposite, and that it will be made out, as the honorable member for Wannon has tried to infer, that the Bill will operate further than is proposed, and that it will probably apply to rural workers and others, though honorable members know full well that it will not apply to any one but those in the Government Service. Let me quote further remarks by the Minister of Trade and Customs from this publication -
If to reward some service rendered to industrial unionism we may depart from the principle of making appointments to the Public Service on merit alone, we are entitled to depart from that principle on other grounds.
Here we have again a reference to appointments to the Public Service.
– Exactly, to the temporary service.
– When we speak of appointments to the Public Service, we mean permanent appointments, and the use of the word “ appointment “ in connexion with this matter is deliberate misrepresentation of the case.
– You have forgotten section 40 of the Act, which says that you are required to appoint the men best qualified for the work, other things being equal. You did not do that.
– The honorable member is trying to twist and turn the matter to something else. I ask the AttorneyGeneral - Would he say that any person who was being employed by the Commonwealth in a temporary capacity was being appointed to the Public Service?
– Yes; because the Act says so.
– The Act says no such thing. They can be put off at any time. They cannot work longer than six months, with an extension of three months under special circumstances.
– You asked me the question. The answer is in the Arbitration (Public Service) Act.
– The AttorneyGeneral knows perfectly well that it does not apply, for instance, to men engaged on railway work.
– Yes, it does. Read the Act for yourself. Honorable members forget their own Acts.
– This is bluff.
– Yes, absolute bluff.
– Will the honorable member read the definition of “ Public Service” in that Act?
– The section provides- “ The Public Service of the Commonwealth “ includes the Public Service of the Northern Territory and of the Territory of the Seat of Government, and the service of airy public institution or authority of the Commonwealth, and includes all persons employed in any such service in any capacity, whether permanently or temporarily.
But that does not say that temporary men are appointed to the Public Service. No one can say that a man who gets a temporary job on telephone conduits is getting a permanent appointment in the Public Service.
– A loud voice will not cover an obvious mistake.
– I do not claim that it will, and I do not think that a man who adopts a cold attitude will freeze anything. Whether they go through the Public Service Commissioner’s office or not, they are not public servants.
– You know that the section answers your question.
– I am positive it does not. The Attorney-General may bluff juries and other people, but his bluff will not go down here.
– Then I shall not attempt to answer any more of your questions. If that is the way you treat them, you need not put them to me.
– The honorable member need not answer them. He can go on drawing on his pad.
– Order !
– If the Minister takes up such an attitude, and puts himself on such a pedestal, and thinks himself high and above every one else, he may surely be referred to just a little by humble honorable members of the House like myself. I was referring to the obvious misrepresentation of the Minister of Trade and Customs when he was speaking, as quoted in this paper.
– Under section 40, what was the qualification for appointment?
– I suppose the qualification was that the men were wanted, and that they were able to do the work.
– The Public Service Commissioner had to pick the men best qualified for the work.
– That is what we did every time ; we picked the best men qualified to do the work.
– “ Other things being equal, unionists preferred.”
– Yes; if two men arequalified, and one is as good as the other,. I know that 1 would pick the man whohad battled in the trade union movement,, who had probably been victimized.
– Of course, your Government would appoint the men whohad done the “battling” for you?
– The honorable membersaid he would not “ chip in.” I admit hedid not say “ chip in “ - he would use more dignified language. But I did not say that we would appoint the men who had done the “ battling “ for us. I said that we would appoint the men best fitted for the work, and that if there were twoequal in capacity I would appoint the unionist.
– Who had done the “ battling.”
– Yes, the men who had done the “ battling “ in connexion with* trade unionism, and who had probably- been victimized for it. I have been “through the mill,” and I have been, victimized. The man who takes a prominent part in union affairs is likely to bevictimized. I can quote some evidencetaken before the last Tariff Commission, of a man who was victimized for that reason. I can show how the secretaryof the Employers Federation telephoned! to, or wrote, round urging employers not to employ him because he was the secretary to a union. However, I was speaking of misrepresentation that will’ be used, in saying that these are Government appointments, when every honorable member knows that a temporary appointment gives a worker no advantage such as is conferred by a permanent appointment, and that, though a man isappointed to the temporary staff halfadozen times, he will still need to pass an examination before being appointed, to thepermanent staff in the Public Service. If it had been otherwise, and a man on the temporary staff was a member of the Public Service, would there have been any necessity for me to ask the PostmastersGeneral, in connexion with the telephoneconstruction work, why a number of men had been put off? Temporary men can- be dispensed with at any time, and thrown out on to the industrial scrap-heap. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in this speech, went on to say -
Now let us take the strong reasons against givingthat preference to unionists. First of all, giving preference to unionists would fetter and , tie the hands of the Commonwealth, and prevent us from having free selection in getting the best men. The second objection to preference to unionists is a serious one. It is that unions are becoming daily more and more political.
That is the trouble. As a matter of fact, the schoolmaster is at work, and the trade unionist knows that it is absolutely useless for him to pay into his union and then allow the political machinery to be used, as in the past, to his detriment.
– The Employers Unions are political.
– Of course they are, and they have to contribute far more than the members of trade unions.
– There is no preference with them.
– There is no need to give preference in the case of the employers’ union, because every one is in the organization. I read the other evening the rules of the Melbourne Carriers and Carters Association. The members of that union are employed by the Customs Department in every port of Australia in removing goods from the wharves to the King’s warehouses, and as all the large carriers are in the association, I guarantee that no one else tenders for the work, Some unions, both of employers and of employes, are strong enough to decide what action they will take, and they do not bother about asking for preference. The Felt Hatters Union, of which I am a financial member, has never asked for preference anywhere, for the simple reason that in most places we have in the union 100 per cent. of the employes in the trade, and we do not worry about preference. We can decide on what action we choose. The honorable member for Echuca stated-
An Honorable Member. - He is as mad as a hatter.
– Let not the honorable member believe it; hatters are not mad. They are as well organized as any other workers in the world, and if they are mad there is method in their madness. The honorable member for Echuca said he could vouch for the accuracy of the statement that that union had charged an entrance fee of £20.
– He referred to what the honorable member for Boothby said.
– No ; he vouched for the accuracy of the statement. On page 1290 of Hansard of this session he is reported as follows : -
I have no more right to judge the honorable member than he has to judge me. During the course of the speech of an honorable member opposite, lie said he had been informed - he could not vouch for the accuracy of his information - that a certain union, before it would admit any new’ member to its ranks, had demanded an entrance fee of £20. I can vouch for the accuracy of that statement.
– That was substantiating his statement made some time ago.
– No ; the honorable member for Echuca said -
I can vouch for the accuracy of that state ment. The union which made this charge was the union to which the honorable member for Yarra belongs - the Hatters Union.
It is true that I am a financial member of that union, and have been so for years, even though I have been a member of this House. The statement is not correct, and never has been correct, that the union charges £20 for the admission of every member.
– That statement was not denied when it was made a couple of years ago.
– I have denied it often.
– Mr. Swinburne made a circumstantial statement, and it was not denied at that time.
– I can state the position accurately to honorable members. Every apprentice to the trade in any part of Australia is admitted to the union on payment of half fees for the last year, an amount of about 13s., and no apprentice is ever charged any more.
– That is at the present time,
– No apprentice has ever paid more in the history of the organization. As one who held the office of president five times, and many other offices, in the union, I should know a little more about the working of it than does the honorable member for Kooyong.
– I am not disputing the honorable member’s statement.
– The circumstances were these: A firm in Sydney had locked out the men,* and a strike had been in progress for three or four years. I may say that that is nothing for a hatters union. We had one strike which lasted thirty years, and in the end we beat the boss. Some hatters were brought to Sydney from England by the employers under false presences, and they were called upon by the union to pay less than half of what the other members had paid by way of levies.
– Did that amount to £20?
– The Hatters Union has never appealed to any outside union for assistance. The hatters have fought their own battles, although some of the members have had to pay up to £50 in strike levies ; and they will win this strike in the end. Since the union has been before the Arbitration Court, I understand, the entrance fee has been practically wiped out, and any journeyman who comes from a felt hatters’ union in any other part of the world, and brings his clearance card, is admitted. Honorable members may believe that I am not saying anything that is not correct about a union of which I know so much.
– Two or three journeymen came from the Old Country and sought admission to the Hatters Union, and they could not get in under £20.
– And I said they were then paying only about half what the other members had paid in levies. But no man has been asked to pay that amount in a lump sum; he has always had .the right to pay in instalments.
I want to quote another portion of the matter published in The Liberal from the Minister of Trade and Customs -
Political patronage has an absolutely corrupting influence on the community. When we find that unions are becoming more and more political every day, as is admitted, and that the leaders are binding them more and more to distinct principles not relating to unionism at all, but to Socialism and other things altogether outside unionism, and when we give in the public employment preference to those persons, which practically amounts to giving all possible preference on account of the political views that they hold, we arc really getting back to the old system that was repealed. It is necessary, in the interests of the public, that the people should declare most emphatically that the Public Service of Australia shall be thrown open to everybody, irrespective of class, creed, or political views. Efficiency and fitness for the duties to be performed should alone be the determining factors in appointments to the Public Service of Australia.
I say “Yes” to that. They get in by merit alone, and the Minister knew, when he was writing that article, that appointments to the Public Service are made by examination only. There are to-day employed temporarily, or under the exemption clause, men who are doing work in connexion with telephone construction, and have been working in the Department for years; but although they can do the practical work they cannot pass the education examination which is necessary in order to gain admission to the Service. Those men get absolutely no advantage, and when the Minister uses the word “ appointment,” time after time, he is absolutely misleading the public of Australia. There is another journal issued by the Liberal party in New South Wales and called The Fighting Line. I saw a copy of it last week, and as an instance of its absolute unfairness, I may mention that it publishes what the Prime Minister said about the Beef Trust, and about my having blessed the trust, and having had interviews with all its representatives ; but it does not mention a word about the Prime Minister having been compelled to withdraw that statement. It gives the Prime Minister’s side of the case, but nothing of what was said on the other side.
– Does The Worker give what is said on this side?
– So far as I know, The Worker is quite fair. Honorable members opposite doubt that there is much boycotting taking place, and that the Employers Federation asks that men should be boycotted. When the Tariff Commission sat in Melbourne in 1906, one of the witnesses called to give evidence in connexion with the confectionery duties was the secretary of the union. He was asked by the honorable member for Capricornia, at that time Senator Higgs (Tariff Commission, Progress Report No. 2, p. 579, q. 7889)-
Do you find Protectionist confectioners treating their employes well, generally? - As a rule they do, or did, up till lately, with one exception.
– Order ! I am afraid the honorable member is going beyond the scope of. this Bill.
– I desire to show that boycotting was taking place, and that the Employers Federation was instigating that boycott. If I am not permitted to read that evidence, I will give honorable members the sense of it.
– I hope the honorable member will connect his remarks with the subject-matter of the Bill.
– I will do so. In answer to questions asked, it was stated by the witness that the employers communicated with the various confectioners, some by telephone and others by letter, and that the letter stated -
I am directed by the executive committee of this Federation to notify you that at the last meeting of the executive a report was received from Messrs. Hoadley and Company in connexion with a strike taking place in their factory.
The writer went on to say that any man who was out on strike in that factory must be boycotted by the other employers, and this particular witness was boycotted for no other reason than that he was secretary of the union and a member of the Wages Board. That letter is signed by Robert Walpole, and was sent from the rooms of the Victorian Employers’ Federation.
I desire to say a word or two now on an article which appeared in the Age of the 21st May, and was headed, “Public Service Jobbery.” This article, written by the London correspondent of the Age, refers to a report presented by a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the method of making appointments to the Public Service of Great Britain, and it shows that, in connexion with that Service, preference is given, not to the worker, but to those who hold University degrees.
– Because of their qualifications, I presume.
– I shall show the reasons. According to this article, the Liberal Government in Great Britain is giving preference to men who are not as good as some of those already in the Service. A system of patronage is in force.
– Is there an education test?
– No. One has only to be “ a friend of the family.”
– But the honorable member spoke about University qualifications.
– Yes, and I commend the article to my honorable friend. It states that -
It was John Bright who described the British Public Service as a gigantic system of out-door relief for the sons of the aristocracy.’ Matters have improved somewhat since that description was applied; but in spite of reforms, and promises of reforms, political and official patronage is rampant in the British Public Service, and the highly paid posts are still reserved for young men of good families who have been educated at an expensive university.
That is the preference which is being given by the Liberal Government of Great Britain, and which was given by its Conservative predecessors.
– Does the honorable member justify it?
– No, I am opposed to it. All permanent appointments to the Public Service should be by examination. In the case of temporary employment - where the services of a man are required for a few weeks or months - an examination is not necessary; but what is done at the Public Service Commissioner’s office at the present time?
– The question was simply asked, “ Are you a unionist?”
– No. Since the present Government have been in power, the question asked is, “ Are you a nonunionist?” or, “ Have you any friends in the Liberal Ministry?” If a man has any such friends, he will get employment. If he has not, out he goes !
– That is a wild statement.
– It is absolutely correct.
– The honorable member knows that it is not correct.
– The present Government would place over the door of the Public Service the notice “ No unionist can enter here.” That is the position which honorable members opposite are taking up.
– That is not correct.
– The Government and their supporters would try to destroy the industrial unions, because they say that unionists vote against them. That is the gospel which they preach.
– A slander is just as much a slander when it is uttered in a loud and arrogant voice as when it is only whispered.
– Is that so?
– When honorable members opposite talk about Tammany, they deserve to have these things brought home to them.
– Quite so. Honorable members opposite seem to think that they are at liberty to slander the industrial workers as they please, and that no one has a right to expose them. This interesting article in the Age, the whole of which I cannot at present read, continues -
At present the Government Departments are entirely separate, and in the ordinary course a civil servant never moves out of the Department to which he was attached when he entered the Service. In two Government Departments, the Board of Education’ and the Board of AgriCulture, the competitive examination system has been almost entirely ignored.
– Order ! The question of the Public Service of Great Britain is not before the Chair.
– The Government say that they are opposed to preference of any kind. In reply, I am pointing out that their compatriots in Great Britain are giving preference to certain sections of the community in relation to the Public Service. I think that the analogy is a fair one. If the Liberal Government of Great Britain does that sort of thing, it seems to me that the Liberal party here would do the same if they had the chance.
– I am afraid that the analogy’ is rather farfetched.
– I think that it is absolutely fair. This article shows that, according to the report of the Commission, there is no examination for admission to Certain” Departments of the Public Service of- Great Britain.’. The Minister , of Trade and Customs has asserted that we, whilst in- office, made appointments to the Public Service in the same way. That statement is” absolutely without foundation. Surely I am in order in pointing out that the Public Service of Great Britain is in a bad way j that preference is given to men nob because of merit, but because they happen to be friendly to the Government. Positions are handed down from family to family.
– The honorable member may refer incidentally, by way of illustration, to the Public Service of Great Britain; but I do not think he will be in order in entering upon a detailed consideration of a Service that has nb’ r’elati’on whatever to the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– I said that I did not intend to quote the whole article; but I desire to make several quotations to show the system of preference that has grown up in Great Britain.
– That is what we want to abolish here.
– What the Liberal party desire to abolish is the little bit of preference that, the unionists received. Honorable members opposite would’ bring about in Australia the system which, according to the Age, exists in connexion with the Public Service of Great Britain -the system of giving preference to sons of the aristocracy, and to men with University degrees.
– There is- no patronage here.
– It is not the right honorable member’s fault that there is none.
– We do not want any. We passed the Public Service Act.
– But there happened to be behind the Liberal Government which passed it a sufficient number of members of the Labour party to shape it properly.
– The Labour party was not then so numerous as it is today.
– We succeeded in making provision in spite of the Liberal Government for the payment of a minimum wage.
– The- Labour party held the balance of power at that time.
– We did, and the Liberal Government then in power were compelled to amend the provisions of the Rill respecting, temporary and permanent employes of the Service in a direction that some members of their party did not desire. I regard, political patronage as an evil, whether it’ be applied to permanent or temporary appointments to the Service. Bub I do not think it right that honorable members opposite should seek bo disguise their real intentions by saying that they wish, to carry this Bill in order to abolish political patronage: If there was any evil - and I do not admit that there was - in the system of granting preference to unionists,, other things being equal, in. respect to temporary employ.ment in the Government service, that system has been abolished by the present Administration, and therefore the Bill is unnecessary”. . The honorable member for Cook h’as been good enough to supply me with’ several references to’ support my contention that in connexion with the various public works that are now going on we’ did not make any appointment under the Public Service’ Act. I would point out that under section 16 of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act 1911, which we passed, it is provided that -
The Minister may appoint, for any period not exceeding six months beyond the date on which the line shall be declared open for traffic, all such officers as he thinks necessary for the purposes of the construction or working of the railway, and may authorize the employment of any persons for those purposes.
How can it be said, then, that any appointments in connexion with that work were made under the Public Service Act ? Appointments made under that Act were absolutely independent of the Public Service Commissioner. Then, again, section 9 of the Seat of GovernmentAct provides that -
The Governor-General may appoint such magistrates and officers as are necessary to execute the laws of the Territory and provide for the administration of justice thereunder.
All such appointments, therefore, are outside the Public Service Act, Under section 12 of that Act it is provided further that-
Every such Ordinance shall -
Under that Act the Government have already appointed Colonel Miller to the position of Administrator of the Territory. Again, under section 4 of the Northern Territory Administration Act 1910, it is provided that -
The Governor-General may appoint, or may delegateto the Minister or the Administrator power to appoint, such officers as arc necessary for the administration of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 or this Act or for the proper government of the Territory.
It must be seen that appointments made under these Acts were not to the Public Service, nor through the Public Service Commissioner, although the Minister of Trade and Customs, in his article in The Liberal, declared that they were. The Government and their supporters object to preference to unionists because they say that the unions are becoming more and more political in their organization. They also urge that the reason why they object to unions, as some of them un doubtedly do, is that union officials foment strife. This is an absolute misstatement. I speak from a fairly extensive knowledge of trade unions and trade union officials, not only there, but in other countries, and I say unhesitatingly that I have never known an industrial dispute tobe brought about by union officials. They invariably fight right up to the finish for industrial peace. It often happens that perhaps nine-tenths of the members of the organization concerned are in favour of taking extreme action long before the officials are prepared to do so. The officials are practically advocating, all the time, the settlement of disputes by peaceful methods, and it is absolutely incorrect to say that trade union organizers or officials foment strife. The present Prime Minister can verify my statement that they do their utmost to maintain industrial peace. The article on Public Service jobbery in. Great Britain goes on to say that menoften draw two salaries, as secretary and as clerk; that there is no entrance examination ; and that for four men who have come up from other branches of the service into the administrative branch there are twenty-five who were appointed because they were university graduates. These have been put over the heads of others who have forgotten more about the departmental work than they were ever likely to know. That is what is happening under a Liberal Ministry. The measure that we are discussing has not been introduced to prohibit preference to unionists, because Ministers admit that they have already prohibited preference, and have stated that should the Labour Government return to power there will be no preference. They have said that they will not have work done by day labour if they can get it done by contract, even though they may have to pay the contractor 40 or 50 per cent.more than will have to be paid under the day labour system.
– When did we say that?
– That is, in effect, what honorable members opposite say. At Ballarat, the lowest tender for the construction of the telephone tunnels was nearly 50 per cent. more than it cost to construct them by day labour. Their own engineers declare that the work could be done more cheaply with day labour. Are Ministers using contractors to drive the men harder than they would be driven by Government overseers, and harder than they have any right to be driven ?
Under these circumstances, what need is there for the Bill? This legislation has been introduced because, as the Minister of Trade and Customs has admitted, the unions are beginning to concern themselves more and more with politics. At one time honorable members opposite could fool them by saying, “ Vote for us; we will give you as much as the Labour party can give you.” The unions are devoting themselves more and more to political action, and I am glad of it. An appeal to the people will produce no settlement, because parties are evenly divided. Some persons ask why should there be this wrangling in Parliament; but would there be any less if there were 37 Liberals in opposition and 38 Labour men, including the Speaker, in power ? I remember the long speeches that were delivered by members of the present Liberal party when in opposition, some of them occupying five and six hours, there being’ nothing then in the Standing Orders to limit them.
– That is unfair after the way we helped you. We criticised each Bill, and did our best to make it a good measure.
– The Minister must be talking in his sleep. There were some Bills which honorable members did not “stone-wall” as much as they “stonewalled “ other Bills ; but generally speaking, they were prepared to “ stone-wall “ to the uttermost until they found that the public were in favour of our proposals. We were told that our measures would be swept out of existence. Why does not the Government propose to repeal some of them, such as the Land Tax Act, or the Invalid Pensions Act?
– The honorable member is not discussing the Bill.
– The object of the Bill is to bring about a double dissolution. If honorable members opposite wish to bring about a double dissolution by having a contest with the Senate, why do they not deal vitally with the question of preference to unionists by attacking it in the arbitration law, or why do they not try to repeal some other important measure passed by the Labour party? I shall be glad to fight the Ministry on the proposal before us. The fairest way to settle the question of preference to unionists is to have a. referendum on it. This will not be the last time that we shall have an opportunity to deal with it in this Chamber. I hope that on the next occasion honorable members opposite, instead of remaining quiet, will endeavour to show what are the evils that preference would create. ,
.- The honorable member for Yarra, like others of his party, is quick to seize hold of some isolated word or phrase in an article, and declare that there has been gross misrepresentation of the Labour party. That party has never yet been defeated without attributing its defeat to so-called lying statements, misrepresentations, and extravagant assertions. The article in The Liberal, to which he referred, consists of extracts from a speech delivered by me in this Chamber last year, when this Bill was before us. The honorable member declares that I alleged that the Executive minute of the Labour party regarding appointments applied to appointments to the permanent employments in the Public Service of the Commonwealth. This article does not say that it so applied, and I did not say so. Had the honorable member read the heading and introduction of the article, he would have seen to what it was stated to apply.
– We should have a quorum to hear this highly intelligent speech. [Quorum formed.]
– I was pointing out that if the honorable member for Yarra had only read the reprint of the speech he would have seen that ray remarks had reference to the Bill which is before the House tonight, and which is the same Bill as was before the House last session. The measure deals distinctively with “ employment by the Commonwealth or any Department or authority therefor.” The argument which I addressed to honorable members last session was founded upon the evil of which honorable members opposite had been guilty - that of giving preference in the matter of Government employment. I never said, nor does the reprint, that the Labour Government’s minute applied to permanent positions in the Public Service. If anybody has been guilty of misrepresentation it is the honorable member for
Yarra, who endeavoured to make it appear that my remarks had reference to the permanent employes of our Public Service.
– Order ! I can scarcely hear the honorable member owing to the conversation that is proceeding in all parts of the House.
– The honorable member for Yarra has himself been guilty of misrepresentation in respect of his own position. He has attempted to make the public believe by his statement this evening that the minute of the honorable member for Darwin did not apply to any person in the Public Service of the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, it applied to all who are in the temporary service of the Commonwealth.
– They are not appointments, are they?
– They are appointments under the authority of the Public Service Act.
– What about the cleaners in the Works Department?
– Evidently my honorable friends in administering the Act did not know what they were doing. This is the provision contained in the law -
Whenever, in the opinion of the Minister of a Department, the prompt despatch of the business of a Department renders temporary assistance necessary, and the Commissioner is unable to provide such assistance from other Departments in the State in which such assistance is required, the Permanent Head or the Chief Officer shall select, in such manner as may be prescribed, from the persons whose names are upon the prescribed register in the State in which such assistance is required, such person or persons which ure available as appear to bc best qualified for such work.
– Does the Minister say that preference was operative in that case?
– I say that honorable members opposite intended their Executive minute to apply to temporary employes under the Public Service Act.
– Will the honorable member for Yarra deny that that is so? Only to-night he said that it did apply to them because they were not members of the Public Service.
– Will the Minister cite one case ?
– I will presently. The’ Executive minute applied to those persons in the Public Service who weretemporarily employed there. In addition,, it applied to all those officers who had been appointed to the Federal Territory, to exempt officers, to all who are being employed on the transcontinental railway,and I gather from the honorable member for Yarra that it also applied to persons employed by the Government in theNorthern Territory.
– They were exemptfrom the Public Service Act.
– The rule of preferenceapplied to the officers employed in theNorthern Territory.
– I said that they wereoutside the Public Service.
– Here is a case in which a man applied for appointment under theCommonwealth in the Northern Territory, and the following is the exMinister’s reply -
I have the honour to inform you that ap’proval has been given for your appointment as field hand in connexion with survey work in the Northern Territory, with wages at therate of ls. 5d. per hour of forty -eight hoursper week. This approval lias been given on the understanding that you arc a member of a recognised union. If you are not, it will benecessary for you to take steps to join at once, otherwise the agreement lapses.
Yet we have been told that, other things being equal, the best man would be preferred. The honorable member for Barrier, when he received applications for theoffice of surveyor, selected the man whoappeared to be the best lor the job. Then he turned round and said, “ You can only have that job if you are a member of a union.” I would like to know of a single case in which other things were found to be equal. The unionist getspreference all the time.
– Because he was a unionist.
– Yes. In the first place we objected to preference being granted, because it knocked out efficiency altogether. Public appointments were being made, not on the ground of a man’s efficiency, but merely because he happened to be a member of a union.
– The Minister knows that that is wrong.
– That was the reason. The honorable member for Yarra stated that we object to these unions because they are political. That is quite correct. We do object to them on that ground.
– Lawyers’ unions are political.
– The honorable member for Bendigo and the Attorney-General are both members of one union. How, then, can that union be of a political character’, seeing that these two honorable gentlemen hold diametrically opposite political views? I say that the object of my honorable friends has always- been to make these trade unions more and more political. My honorable friends opposite do not desire to have industrial unions. The honorable member for Yarra stated that it is his own wish and that of his party that these unions shall become more and more political. Why does he want them to become more and more political? Because they will support him and keep him where he is.
– I never said that.
– Is not that the position ? Why do my honorable friends ask these unions to abandon their industrial character and to become more and more political ? Because they say that the unions ought to be represented in this Parliament. Then they will be able to enact laws for their own class ends and gains.
– Why shouldn’t we?
– There is not the slightest reason why men should not form political associations, advocate . any political views they like, and get as much representation as they can in this Parliament. The evil to which we object is that of any political party seeking to buttress its own position in this House by passing laws providing that only one section of the community shall obtain employment in the Commonwealth service. Where a union has its political objects and purposes and requires its members to take political action, subscribe to newspapers, or contribute in certain ways for political purposes, if you say that before a man can get employment in any branch of the Public Service he must be a member of such a union, it means that he must first sacrifice his political opinions and prostitute his manhood before he can get employ ment out of the public funds. That is what honorable members opposite have to justify. It is not every man in the country who is a Socialist or a Liberal, and- the fact that he is either ought not to be taken into consideration when he asks for employment at the public offices; but honorable members opposite by their rule that, other things being equal, a unionist shall be preferred, are practically imposing a political qualification for entrance into a branch of the Service where such unions are political.
– Are there no Liberals who are unionists?
– There may be, but a Liberal cannot be a unionist where the union requires him to subscribe to Socialistic objects or purposes. A system of that kind is nothing but a system of political patronage, and political patronage of that character was never known in the Commonwealth until the Labour Ministry took office in 19 10.
– Tell us what a Liberal is.
– I will tell the honorable member- what a Liberal Government did. The Public Service Act as introduced made it absolutely impossible for political patronage of any kind to be used in the Public Service in the case of permanent positions. Examination, merit, efficiency, are the only grounds on which a man can get employment from the Commonwealth under that Act. The insidious practice of political patronage was never known here until my honorable friends came into office. They then set aside those rules as regards a great branch of public employment, and gave preference to their own political unions. In the circumstances we were right to appeal to the country. We made a distinct appeal to the people to say whether this evil should be perpetrated any longer, and the people gave us a very clear mandate on the subject. That mandate was to go back to the old principle in the Public Service, to base entrance upon efficiency, and wipe out altogether the system of political corruption”. That is what this Bill does. In the future no preference or favoritism of any kind will be allowed so far as employment in the Commonwealth service is concerned, and the service will be protected in this matter from the evils of political corruption.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Higgs) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- A week or two ago I quoted a newspaper report showing that the strongest form of preference to unionists possible had been granted by agreement by the Government on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway works to the South Australian branch of the Australian Workers Union.
– Order ! The honorable member is now dealing with a Bill which has already been discussed to-day.
– I am dealing with a question that I asked the Minister, and that has never been answered. I asked the Minister in charge of the Home Affairs Department several days in succession whether he would place a copy of the agreement on the table. The honorable gentleman - the honorable member for Wentworth - first said he would lay the papers on the table, although he denied the correctness of my statement so far as preference to unionists was concerned. A couple of days afterwards I asked him whether he had yet placed the agreement on the table so that honorable members might see for themselves if the statement was correct. The Minister said he was going to do it, but that it took a day for the typists in his office to type it out. I asked him the question again to-day, and he told me across the table that he would show me the agreement privately.
– Because it is not signed yet.
– Whether it is signed or not, the Government have entered into it, and are bound by it. It provides for a certain increased rate of pay applicable only to members of the union.
– What is wrong with that?
– Everything is right with it, but no man can get work on’ that job at that rate of pay unless he belongs to that union. He must, therefore, join the union. That is not only preference, but compulsory unionism, the very strongest form of preference. It is not a question there of the unionist getting preference, other things being equal, because the Government have actually made an agreement with the union which will not operate as regards persons who are not members of the union. I agree with that, because I believe in preference to unionists, but surely the Government cannot honestly talk about abolishing preference, other things being equal, and in the next breath grant preference.
– Order ! The honorable member is discussing a Bill which is now before the House.
– I am not. Surely the fact that there is a Bill dealing with the broad question of preference before the House does not prohibit me from discussing the terms of work on the transAustralian railway ? I contend that I am entitled to discuss the progress of that work at all times. Apart from this Bill, the Government stated twelve months ago that they had abolished preference to unionists, and there is a bit of shuffling going on. If the agreement does not bear the interpretation that has been placed upon it, why does the Attorney-General not place it on the table and let members draw their own conclusions? If that is not done, the only inference is that it will bear the construction I have placed upon it. Personally, I do not desire to see the agreement, because I am satisfied with the record in the daily press; but it ought to be a document accessible to honorable members and the public generally. Will the Attorney-General confer with his colleagues and see whether the agreement cannot be placed on the table ?
– This morning the Prime Minister did not answer a question of mine, and now I have to occupy a little time. With me it is a serious question whether Parliament is going to abrogate its right to handle the finances of the country and give them over to a. Military Board. I know this country is not one which relies on itself, but is always ready to swallow anything a gentleman in gold braid from a foreign country may tell it; and the proposal to hand over the finances in the way I have mentioned has been made by the overseas InspectorGeneral. I am afraid that the
Government may commit themselves before this House has an opportunity to interfere, and, therefore, I am now entering ray protest. If the Government agrees to hand over the finances in the way proposed there will be a line of demarcation drawn in this House, and the weaklings will be forced on one side and the strong men on the other - the latter determined to stand by the rights of the House to finance this country independent of the military gentlemen. These gilt-spurred roosters are as destitute of business capacity as a bird is of hairs. I warn the Prime Minister to take no chances, but to decline to hand over the finances to gentlemen who are so ready to shovel the money out. The time has come to cut down the defence expenditure, and to devise a defence system by means of aerial navigation. The other day I called attention to the fact that an ordinary American, in an ordinary airship, had forced a Mexican war vessel to sea; and I truly believe that a dozen such Americans could defend this country.
.- I desire to utter a word of warning to the Minister of Trade and Customs. To-day I asked when the Customs staff were instructed to prepare a list of Tariff anomalies, and the Minister replied that shortly after he took office he gave the instructions for such a list, and that it would be produced “ when the time is ripe.” I draw the attention of the Protectionists of Victoria, and Australia generally, to the fact that the Tariff anomalies seem to have been under the observation of the Minister for some twelve months, and that, according to his statement to-day, there is no intention whatever on the part of the Government to deal with them this year. What is the meaning of “ when the time is ripe”? Does it mean after the double dissolution which the AttorneyGeneral so frequently in public says it is his desire to obtain?
– We think on this side that a double dissolution would be a good way of getting rid of an anomaly.
– That joke of the AttorneyGeneral’s will not satisfy the Protectionists of Victoria. I remember the time when the honorable gentleman was deemed to be pretty well a Free Trader or a Revenue Tariffist; certainly not a Protectionist. Australia is, or ought to be, Protectionist, and the Government would spend the time a great deal more profitably in dealing with Tariff anomalies than in waiting for the report of the Inter-State Commission and dealing with other subjects that I am not now permitted to name. I deem it my duty to protest against the delay, and I hope the Protectionist journals of Australia will note that the Minister gave his instructions to the staff twelve months ago. Although our Customs officers are, I suppose, as expert as those in any part of the world, that list has not yet been produced, though I am sure that if the Minister were to ask for it to-morrow it would be supplied.
.- The abolition of private members’ business must be my excuse for expressing the hope that the Government will give the House an opportunity to deal with the question of the referendum and the initiative. Instead of having the control of . Parliament for only one day in three years, the people ought to have control the whole of the time. With the referendum and the initiative we might have elective Ministries, and insist on this or any other Government bringing in, for instance, a Tariff Bill. The method chosen to deal with the Tariff is tooridiculous to mention. The Inter-State Commission consists of three members, one of whom was too mean and contemptible to accept the office of Judge of the High Court of Australia.
– Order !
-I resent that gentleman’s conduct strongly. When the barristers’ union outside squealed and almost declared that he had not brains enough to be a High Court Judge, he resigned, and then the Government appointed him to the Inter-State Commission. One witty German has said that if the world had been placed in the hands of a Commission it would never have been built; and I do not think that we shall’ have a Tariff presented in two years if the Commission is permitted to go fooling about the country in the way it is now doing. Why should not, say, ten items be selected for Parliament to deal with 7 I give credit to the Customs official who was appointed to the InterState Commission. He certainly does know his work; but as a Government official he has never declared himself either a Free Trader or a Protectionist, and. in that he is perfectly right. Mr. Swinburne is a personal friend of mine, but in politics I have no friendship. Did Mr. Swinburne ever declare himself a stalwart Protectionist? Then we have the legal element, which talks according to the way in which it is fee’d. Lawyers do not care about justice, but wish to win by points; and, of course, the Minister of Trade and Customs has brought to bear upon the question all his capacity for legal twisting. If the people outside had the privilege of using the initiative and referendum, they would say, “ Bring in a Tariff at once “; and that is why I put in my protest. I do not usuallyspeak on motions for the adjournment of the House ; but I have no other opportunity of dealing with this matter ; and if the Government refuse to give the people the right to use the initiative and referendum, I shall accuse them of being afraid to face its consequences.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140527_reps_5_74/>.