6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister tell the’ House whether it is true, as stated in to-day’s newspapers; that he has arranged with the associated banks that they shall advance the Commonwealth £10,000,000 in gold against £10,000,000 worth of Commonwealth notes, and that the notes shall not be presented for payment within twelve months?
– It will be best to wait for the Budget speech for a full statement regarding this matter. The banks have come to a voluntary arrangement with the Government, covering a proposition of the kind mentioned.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House how much, if any, of the £8,000,000 advanced to New South Wales will be devoted by its Government to buying the season’s wheat harvest of the State? I understand that the cost will be about £4,000,000. Will any of the money required be taken from the Commonwealth advance to the State?
– I required of the States borrowing money from the Commonwealth that they should not look into the manner in which it was raised, and I have no right to ask them how it is being spent. It was borrowed to carry out public works necessary in the interests of the people of the States.
– I ask the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Ex. ternal Affairs if he will lay on the table of the House a copy of the papers of protest by the Local Board at Port Darwin, and other papers connected with the abolition of that Board?
– There will be no objection to laying the papers upon the table of the Library.
– A fortnight ago the Minister of Home Affairs told me, in reply to a question that I put to him, that the bi-monthly schedule issued by his Department would be ready within a week or so. I ask him now whether the schedule is ready, and,, if not, when it will be available for distribution ?
– My officers teill me that it will be out at the end of the month.
New South Wales Indebtedness
– I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if itis true, as stated in the press, that the Government of New South Wales has, since
April last, failed to observe an agreement made with the Commonwealth Government to reimburse expenditure in connexion with the small-pox outbreak, and that this overdue indebtedness now amounts to £10,000?
– An agreement was arrived at between my predecessor and the New South Wales Minister of Health. So far as I know, none of the money has been paid, but payments, if made, would go to the Treasury.
– There are two sums it issue: an amount of a few thousand pounds expended at the beginning of the outbreak, when the Commonwealth was more concerned about its suppression “than about anything else, and an -amount involved under an agreement subsequently made in writing, and beyond all’ dispute. Has any of the money which was the subject of this written agreement been paid T
– I do not think so.
– Then I ask the Treasurer whether New South Wales owes the Commonwealth Government £10,000 in connexion with an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State regarding administration for the suppression of small-pox, and that that indebtedness extends from April last’
– I cannot vouch for the amount, though the sum is a large one. The indebtedness arose in connexion with quarantine expenditure.
– And under a contract?
– I think so.
MILITARY RAIDS ON BUSINESS PREMISES.
– Is the Attorney-General in a position to make a statement to the House to-day regarding the recent raiding of the business premises of certain firms 1
– I am not now in a position to make a statement covering the whole ground, but I hope to be able to make such a statement, to-morrow. I wish to say now as to the firms of Phillips, Ormonde and George Fethers, ono of which I have already mentioned, that no evidence of wrong-doing by them has been discovered, and I greatly regret that they have been caused inconvenience and loss, and suffered loss of esteem of their fellows. What happened was unavoidable under the circumstances, but in future no publicity will be given ro the raids that are made unless and until evidence discloses such publicity to be warranted.
– I am in receipt of a letter from Mr. Phillips, presenting strongly the fact that the press seemed to know that a raid was going to be made, and that the first intimation as to the innocence of his firm was given to the press. He suggests that it would be desirable in future to give the persons concerned the first intimation as to the proof of their innocence. Will the AttorneyGeneral see that that is done in future cases?
– In the case in question the information of proof of the innocence of the firm was, it is true, given, first of all, to the press. My intention was to give wide publicity to the fact with the least possible delay, in order to remove any imputation or stigma that might have been cast on Mr. Phillips’ firm. I recognise the point made by the honorable member, and in future shall take steps to notify the person or firm concerned prior to informing the press of the result of the investigation.
RE - APPOINTMENT OF HIGH COMMISSIONER.
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to tell the House whether there is any special reason for limiting the re-appointment of Sir George Reid to the office of High Commissioner, in London to the term of twelve months?
– The Government, which is responsible for the public policy of the Commonwealth, determined to make that offer to the High Commissioner. ‘ It was accepted by him.
– The Prime Minister seems not to have rightly apprehended my question. T desired to know, not whether Sir George Reid had been re-appointed - that announcement was made yesterday - but whether the Prime Minister has any objection to state to the House whether any special reason exists for limiting the reappointment to twelve months?
– A Government is not called upon to give reasons for such an act as this. I suppose that if the previous Government had been in office Sir George Reid’s term would have ceased.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question arising out of the statement he has just made to the House to the effect that if the previous Government had remained in office, Sir George Reid’s term of office as High Commissioner would have been terminated. Will the right honorable gentlemen tell the House his justification for that statement? So far as I know it is an absolute misstatement of the fact.
– All these interrogations in the matter are unseemly. The fact is that no re-appointment was made by the previous Government, whereas we have re-appointed Sir George Reid as High Commissioner.
– That does not justify the right honorable member’s incorrect statement.
– My reply to the previous question was that I supposed that there would not have been any reappointment if the late Government had remained in office. As a matter of fact, they remained in office until a date approaching that on which the term of Sir George Reid’s original appointment would expire.
– I regret that I am obliged, owing to what has been said, to put another question on this point to the Prime Minister. I should have remained silent, but that I do not desire that any misapprehension shall arise. Has the Prime Minister seen in the Department the docket relating to the re-appointment of Sir George Reid, and, if he has, will he say whether it is not a fact that there is, on that docket, a minute in my handwriting, stating that Sir George Reid might rest assured that he could continue in office for “at least a year, pending the decision of the question raised, at his request, whether he should be re-appointed, and for what term? Further, will the right honorable gentleman say whether there is not a minute to the effect that the question of whether the re-appointment should be for a term of three or five years was the matter that had been left undetermined ?
– The honorable member had better refer that question to the Minister of Externa] Affairs.
– I regret that I have had to raise the question now. I had intended to put a question to the Minister later on.
– I regret that the matter has been brought up. It has been raised only for political reasons, and not in the interests of public business.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Prime Minister in order in imputing unworthy motives to an honorable member who asks a question, with a view to obtaining information concerning a public matter? Further, is hein order in describing as unseemly a question relating to a matter of publicpolicy ?
– The Prime Ministerwould not be in order in imputing unworthy motives to any honorable member,
– I withdraw the words “ political reasons.”
– I desire through you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the ex-Minister pf External Affairs - the honorable member for Angas - whether there was any justification for the rumour which was current before the present Government took office, that the honorable member for Parkes was a possible candidate for the office of High Commissioner ?
– I can only say that I never considered any one, save Sir George Reid, to be a candidate.
– Many years ago, before the Government took up the telephone service, certain citizens of Sydney established a system of their own,, and in 1911 an Act was passed giving the Government power to take over those lines at a valuation. I understand that Mr. Shand, K.C., was appointed arbitrator in the first case, and awarded one’ of the holders of these lines £60 by way of compensation in place of a sum of £3 offered by the Government. I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that the Government have now introduced a Bill providing for the reference of all such questions to the High Court?
– If the honorable member had paid attention to the business of the House he would know that the Bill to whichhe has referred has been introduced, and has reached the Committee stage. When the consideration of that measure is resumed a full statement of the facts will be made.
– I desire to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether he will consider the desirableness of circulating amongst troops going to the front - and I think the information would be valuable to honorable members generally - the remarks made by Sir William Ostler, at a camp in England, regarding the preservation of the health of troops on active service, with special relevance to the value of inoculation against enteric?
– The honorable member has been good enough to place in my hands a pamphlet containing the remarks in question. I shall bring it under the notice of the Minister with a view to having the statement reprinted for circulation amongst the troops.
– Last Friday the honorable member for Fremantle asked the following questions : -
In reply to inquiries which were then being made, the following information has now been obtained : -
– On Thursday last the honorable member for Brisbane asked the following questions: -
The information was not then available, but has now been obtained. It is as follows : -
3 and 4. Cigars and cigarettes are not periodically submitted to analytical examination. The manufacture of the Australian article is carried on under Excise supervision. 5 and 6. Rum and other spirits are used in the manufacture of cigarettes in New South Wales and Victoria. In New South Wales 2,706 liquid gallons of rum and 467 liquid gallons of imitation brandy were so used during the year 1913. In Victoria 177 proof gallons of whisky were used during the same period. The rum or other alcohol used in the manufacture of cigarettes is eliminated during the process of manufacture. The finished product would not contain alcohol.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs have prepared a statement, covering a period of years, showing the growth of imports and their place of origin, together with the growth in the local production of the same manufactures ?
– We already have full information as regards imports. The difficulty in regard to production returns is that the States do not collect their statistics on the same basis as does the Commonwealth. The statistics in regard to imports are usually published six weeks or two months after the end of the year, and those for 1913 have been available for months, but the latest production statistics are for 1912.
– Following on a question I asked last week, I wish to know whether the Postmaster-Generalhas yet made up his mind to supply to the owners of privately constructed telephone lines material at cost price in cases where the revenue is not sufficient to put the lines on a Departmental basis ? It is quite enough for people to have to construct the lines, without being called upon to pay high prices for material.
– Order! The honorable member must confine himself to a question.
– Telephone material is supplied at specially low prices in the case of country lines.
– It cannot be obtained at all from the Department.
– However, honorable members will have ample opportunity of going into the matter when the Estimates are before us.
– Is it a fact that there is, or has been, any trouble at Darwin amongst the employes of Vestey Brothers, and, if so, what are the particulars?
– It is true that an agent of Sir William Vestey has been engaging tradesmen and others in the southern States at rates considerably under those prevailing at Darwin. The men, when they arrived there, found that they had been engaged at rates under the standard, and they refused to go to work. The matter is now in abeyance, and probably a reference will be made to the Arbitration Court in order that the rates paid shall be those recognised by the Government and private employers at Darwin.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence inform me when the papers, for which I asked last week, having reference to the case of Edward Edwards, will be laid on the Library table, according to promise?
– I cannot say to a day or two, but I shall make further inquiries.
– In reference to a statement reported in this morning’s newspapers as having been made by the Minister for Home Affairs in connexion with the establishment of wireless communication of the transcontinental railway, I should like to know whether anything has been done beyond what was authorized by myself in that regard when I was at the Department?
– I do not recollect that anything has been done, but if the honorable member will give notice of the question I shall obtain the information for him. «
– I desire to know whether the Minister of External Affairs will lay on the table of the House, or the Library, the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and Vestey Brothers, together with any letters and other communications associated therewith ?
– I think that the agreement made with Vestey Brothers is already a parliamentary paper. As to the correspondence, I shall look through it, and if there is nothing that should not be disclosed, I shall lay it on the Library table.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence inform honorable members why it is that the motor engines used by our Military Forces are made in the country of our enemies ? How many Benz engines are in possession of the Defence Forces?
– I am unaware that the Government are doing anything in the matter, but I shall ascertain the facts for the honorable member.
– I desire to call the attention of the Attorney-General to a telegram I have received from Adelaide in connexion with some of the raids that have been made by the Defence authorities. The telegram is as follows -
Will personally be greatly obliged if you will see Hughes, and urge that all personal re straint my friend be removed and bail accepted. Also please urge that utmost expedition be given in notifying charge to be made. I understand continued suspense is veryserious.
Has the Attorney-General any statement to make in regard to the attitude of the Government ?
– It has been decided to prosecute in the case of F. H. Snow, and I signed the authority for the prosecution this morning. I shall take steps to expedite the proceedings. The question of bail must rest with the Court; and I shall consider how far the Crown is justified in not opposing any application for bail.
Report (No. 1) presented by Mr. Mcwilliams, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral tell us when he is likely to lay on the table the annual report of the Postal Department?
– I am not quite certain, but I hope to have all the information possible made available for honorable members in time for the discussion on the Estimates.
– I should like to know from the Assistant Minister of Defence when I may expect, if ever, the particulars asked for in connexion with the shooting of a person by a sentry at South Wharf some little time ago.
– I shall endeavour to get the information for the, honorable member by to-morrow.
– The concentration of the Expeditionary Forces at Liverpool having caused an immense increase in the number of calls over lines which, even in normal times, are overloaded ; and as business and other subscribers on the local exchange are, in consequence, experiencing great inconvenience, will the PostmasterGeneral be good enough to instruct the Department to install extra lines?
– I shall make inquiries, and see what can be done to meet the requirements of the district.
– Reports having been circulated that many of the settlers in the Northern Territory are very unsatisfactory, I should like to hear a statement from the Assistant Minister of External Affairs as to whether a large number of such settlers have been so reported upon, and as to what can be done to secure a type of settlers more suitable for that country.
– The statements which have been published in the press regarding settlers in the Northern Territory are practically correct. There are additional particulars with which I think the House ought to be acquainted, and I shall see that honorable members are informed in regard to them later on.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government take such steps as may be necessary to prevent as far as possible the services of temporary employes in the Federal Service, especially those who have families dependent upon them, being dispensed with during the continuance of the war?
– I have already stated to Parliament, in reply to a question, that it is the policy of this Government to continue and increase employment wherever men can be profitably employed in the service of the Commonwealth and otherwise, and not to make any dismissals where such a course can be avoided.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Conditions of Employment
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Department of Home Affairs is not employing any men at Cockburn Sound Naval Base. The works are being carried out by the Defence Department. My colleague, the Assistant Minister of Defence, has some information for the honorable member.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. Registers of men desiring employment at Henderson Naval Base have been opened at Trades Hall, Perth and Fremantle. When a number of men is required, one half this number is taken from each register by ballot. The registers are open to all, but preference in employment is given to unionists, other things being equal.
Abandonment of Trial Shaft
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on the table of the Library all papers connected with the sinking and subsequent abandonment of the trial shaft at Henderson Naval Base?
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– I move -
That the ruling of the Honorable the Speaker - That a member of this House, in speaking on a motion to recommit clause 13 of “ A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1004-1911 and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1914,” is not in order in discussing the constitution and the registration of the Australian Workers Union, on the ground that a case relating to the constitution and registration of that association is pending before the Court - bo disagreed with.
In moving this motion, I realize that a motion of this character ought not to be made except under a sense of grave responsibility. I have been in parliamentary life for more than twenty years, and on no previous occasion have I deemed it necessary to make a motion disagreeing to the ruling of Mr. Speaker. I assure you, sir, that, in making this motion now, I do so without the slightest desire to weaken the authority of the high office you occupy, or of yourself. But there is a principle involved which affects the liberty of debate in this House, and affects it just as much as concerns members on the other side, as it does concerning members on this side.
– On a point of order, I wish to know whether there has not been a mistake on the part of the printer in placing this notice of motion at the top of the notice-paper. I ask whether a precedent was not established during the last Parliament that all questions affecting the ruling of the Speaker should be placed at the bottom of the notice-paper ?
– I do not know of any such precedent having been established. I know that motions of a similar character were .placed at the bottom of the notice-paper last session, but in arranging the business-paper for to-day I considered that, as this motion affected the business of the House, it ought to take precedence over all other business. In those circumstances, I placed the motion at the top of the notice-paper.
– On a further point of order, I ask you, sir, whether you assure the House that you really did not know whether a precedent had been established to place such a motion at the bottom of the notice-paper. I submit that the point of order raised by the honorable member for Grey was not a serious one at all. If you, sir, did not know that there was not a precedent of that character, I submit that you should look up the records and know at the earliest possible moment.
– I cannot regard seriously the honorable member’s point of order. I do not think that the placing of a motion disagreeing to the Speaker’s ruling at the bottom of the notice-paper last session was a precedent; at any rate, I do not think that the late Speaker intended to establish such a precedent. But the position I take up is that this motion affects the business of the House, and, as such, it must take precedence of all other questions.
– In justice to the late Speaker, I should like to ask you, sir, whether it is the business of Mr. Speaker to place such a motion in any particular position on the notice-paper, or whether that is not the function of the Minister in charge of the business?
– In reply to the honorable member, I desire to say distinctly that if, when my ruling was disagreed to, the Government attempted to interfere with my placing the motion at the head of the notice-paper, I would not continue to occupy the position of Speaker for a minute.
– Now that these various points of order have been satisfactorily disposed of, perhaps I may be permitted to give certain reasons to the House as to why this motion should be carried ; and, if I may make an appeal to honorable members to treat any question as a non-party one, I should think that a decision affecting the liberty of honorable members in debate is a question of that character. I ask the attention of honorable member:! for a very few minutes while I state what, after all, is a very short and concise point. A Bill was before the House, of which clause 13 - the clause referred to in the motion - was in the nature of what is known to lawyers as a privilegium - that is, not an enactment establishing any general principle, but an enactment brought in for the benefit of certain individuals, or, in this case, of certain, associations. There was no reason why such a provision should not” be brought in, but the bringing of it in involved, if the House is to have liberty of discussion, the merits of the particular matters in which the benefit was to be given. The clause to which I refer provides that -
Every association which at the commencement of this Act, is registered as an organization, shall be deemed to have been duly registered.
The effect is the same as if, instead of using the words “every association,” the clause were to mention each association to which it applied, or as if it read “ every association, including the Australian Workers Union.” The House, as a deliberative assembly, had a right to know in regard to such a provision what was the nature of the defect in each case intended to be remedied. The defects might be merely technical, and such as. if the House were aware of the facts, ;t would gladly and properly rectify. If the clause was intended to repair some mere technical faults in registration, and we had been told that that is what was intended, there would have been a strong reason for passing the clause, so that a registration might not be upset because a solicitor or agent or some other person had made some technical blunder. On .the other hand, the defect might not have beer; of a technical character, but a matter of substance. An association might have been improperly registered because its rules were such as should have prevented registration. Suppose that in the registration of the Australian Workers Union there was, not a technical defect, but a defect arising out of the rules, which were wrong, and such as should prevent the registration, ought not the House to have had the opportunity before passing the clause of deciding whether that defect should be remedied ? Ought not the House to have had the opportunity of deciding, in regard to the Australian Workers Union, or a pastoralists association, or any other association, what defect in its registration which it was intended to invalidate should be validated ? If the defect was a mere technical informality there would be no harm in remedying it; but if it were proposed to validate a substantial illegality, ought not the House to have known in what the illegality was? Can there be any answer but one to that question ? Is the House to be absolutely prevented from debating the essential merits of a provision like clause 13 because that provision happens to affect an association which has a case before the Court?
– It might affect the decision of the Court.
– The clause might affect the decision of the Court
– That is the reason why the honorable member could not debate it.
– Suppose the clause, instead of reading “ every association which has been registered shall be deemed to have been duly registered,” read ‘ ‘ the Australian Workers Union shall be deemed to have been duly registered,” would the honorable member contend that, because the Australian Workers Union is before the Court in a suit instituted by it, or by some one else, the House could not debate the question raised by the provision?
– The House was paralysed last Parliament.
– I decline to be drawn into a discussion as to what happened during last Parliament.
I am dealing with a simple point affecting the practice of debate in this Chamber, and have stated a question which should be answered from the other side. Whether the clause applies to one association or twenty, the effect is the same. If it had read, “ The Australian Workers Union shall be deemed to have been duly registered,” would it be contended by any one opposite that because the registration of that union had been brought before the Court, either by the union or by some one else, the House would have been paralyzed, and the provision would have had to be passed without any member on either side discussing it? I shall put another question to the House, to which we are entitled to an answer if the motion is not to be carried. Suppose there were no litigation pending, no one would say that the House had not the fullest right to discuss the conditions of registration of each of the associations affected. The contention is that, because one of these associations is before the Court, the House was prevented from dealing with it. With regard to all the other associations, we have full liberty of discussion. If that is right, the action and necessary debate relevant to a proposal brought before the House by the Government could be prevented by any institution which chose to have a suit brought before the Court. I understand the reason on which you, Mr. Speaker, acted in declaring the discussion out of order. There are two passages in May which’ might, at first sight, seem to support your decision, and to be an authority for it. One of these is to be found on page 278 of the 11th edition -
A matter whilst under adjudication by a Court of law should not bo brought before the House by a motion or otherwise.
That is a general statement, and the same authorities are referred to that are mentioned on page 332, whence I take this passage -
Matters awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law should not be brought forward in debate. This rule was observed by Sir R. Peel and Lord J. Russell, both by the wording of the speech from the Throne and by their procedure in the House regarding Mr. 0’Connell’s case, and has been maintained by rulings from the Chair.
I have examined the references in the parliamentary reports, but none of them refers to a case of the kind before us. One of them refers to the case of a Mr. Conybeare, who had been prosecuted. An attempt was made to debate the merits » of the prosecution on a motion for the adjournment of the House, but it was held by the Speaker, not that it was out of order to do that, but that it was indecorous to drag before the House a matter which was sub judice. It was held, not that the Speaker could rule what was said out of order, but that he was not going beyond his responsibility in drawing the attention of the honorable member responsible to the fact that it was undesirable to bring before the House the matters which he wished to discuss. I thought when you gave your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that the Speaker of the House of Commons had gone further, but the authorities hardly bear out the contention that he ruled on a point of order. !N”one of these authorities refers to a case in which the very subject-matter of a provision in a Bill which is properly before the House is the validation of certain acts which it is alleged were illegally performed.
– The authorities, if relevant, seem to show that the Bill was not properly before the House.
– If they show anything, they show that the Bill should not have been before the House, but I think they are entirely beside the question. The Bill provides that,’ no matter whether the defects in the registration of the Australian Workers Union or any other association were technical or substantial, grave or light, that association shall be deemed to have been duly registered. That is to say, a registration may be illegal, and if the association whose registration is validated were to come forward to-day to be registered, it would be the duty of the Registrar to dismiss its application for registration, yet its registration must be regarded as valid. We are told, however, that it is our duty to pass the Bill, or to reject it - to vote for or against it - without uttering one word as to the facts which may come before our notice as members of Parliament. We are not to consider whether the defect in the registration of this union was material, or merely technical; whether it was an unlawful registration, or merely a technical informality. Our hands are tied. I put my case in the form of the. two questions that I have addressed to honorable members opposite, and to which I think we ought to receive an answer. The free discussion of all subjects that are relevant to the actual measure which it is endeavoured to bring into law is a matter that concerns honorable members opposite just as it concerns us. It is a principle which I venture to think honorable members opposite have claimed to maintain, and to have fought for as part of the privileges of every member of a deliberative assembly. And yet the ruling given by Mr. Speaker is that in discussing this Bill we cannot say a word regarding the validity of the registration of the Australian Workers Union. We cannot say what is the nature of the defect alleged to have existed in that registration; we cannot bring forward evidence to show that it is not a technical defect, nob a minor matter, but a grave infraction of the law. We are not allowed to do this because there happens to be, at the moment, a case before the Courts in which this matter is pending. Such a ruling has not hitherto been applied. I challenge honorable members to bring forward a single instance in which the House has been hampered and denied an opportunity to discuss, when dealing with a measure properly before it, the very point on which it can alone form an opinion as to whether that measure should become law.
– How is the scope of the debate affected by Mr. Speaker’s ruling?
– I say that the clause in question must be read clearly as showing that this Bill is in the nature of a privilegium, that it is not a general law affecting general principles, but a particular benefit brought in for a particular person or persons. I urge that it is to be read as saying that the Australian Workers Union, and certain other registered associations - just as if they were set out in a schedule to the Bill - shall be deemed to have been duly registered, no matter whether their registration was defective in some technical detail, or contrary to the law then and now existing.
– How does the clause affect the application for cancellation ? That is the point. Is it a defence? Is it an answer?
– I should say so decidedly. In the particular liti gation which is pending, there are, so far as I have been informed, several grounds on which the cancellation is sought.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss that point.
– I am not going to discuss in any way the merits of the case. I shall merely answer the AttorneyGeneral’s question by saying that there are several different grounds on which de-registration is sought. Some of them have nothing to do with the original registration. They refer to matters which have taken place since then, and this Bill does not touch them. But there are others affecting the original jurisdiction, and, so far as they are the grounds of the application, this Bill directly affects them, and validates the rules of the union, no matter what their inherent defects may be. I submit that the House ought to establish and to maintain the full and free liberty of debate, which is more essential to the Parliament than is any question of party politics at the present time. For that reason alone, I have deemed it my duty to take a step which as I have said, I have never taken before - and that is to ask for the decision of the House, without any disrespect to you, sir, or to the position you occupy, on what seems to me to be a vital question, involving the freedom of debate.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. As my conduct while in the Chair has been the subject of some comment in connexion with this matter, and as you, Mr. Speaker, made some remarks which, by implication, although not perhaps intentionally, reflect upon myself. I think itwell that. I should take this opportunity to state the circumstances under which notices of motions to dissent from my rulings when I held office as Speaker were,, with the exception of the first of the kind, not placed before Government business on the notice-paper. I took the precaution, at the time, in view of the special circumstances of the case, to make a memorandum in reference to the matter. It aroseout of a notice of motion by the honorable member for Gwydir to dissent from my ruling, and this I propose to read. It is as follows: -
Perhaps it would be as well to recall thecircumstances in connexion with this case. On the 13th May, 1914, the first business on the- paper, after questions, was a motion by Mr. Webster, dissenting from a ruling whichI had given at the previous sitting of the House.
That was the first notice of motion to dissent from my ruling, and it was put at the top of the notice-paper, being given precedence over Government business at my request, just as has been done in this instance -
However, before the business of the day was culled on, the adjournment of the House was moved on the question of the Tariff. At the termination of two hours from the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate had to be interrupted under standing order No. 119, which reads as follows: -
If all motions shall not have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House the debate thereon shall be interrupted, and unless the House otherwise order, the Orders of the Day shall be taken in rotation…..
– Who moved the adjournment of the House to discuss the Tariff ?
– The honorable member for Cook; but that is immaterial. The point is that it was moved by an honorable member sitting on this side of the House, just at the time when the honorable member for Gwydir’s notice of motion to dissent from my ruling should have been taken. My memorandum continues -
Under this standing order the Orders of the Day have to be called on, and this was accordingly done. As a result, Mr. Webster’s motion was passed over. There is no standing order or practice of Parliament giving precedence to a motion to dissent from a ruling, and the terms of the standing order No. 119 are absolutely mandatory, no exception of any kind being provided for. The standing order has been applied to motions moved by Ministers (see V. and P., 1903. p. 114), even where a motion to revive the Committee of Supply was being discussed (sec V. and P., 1904, p. 217). It has also been applied to such an important motion as the suspension of the’ Standing Orders to discuss a matter of urgent necessity (see V. and P., 1904, p. 145). Although Mr. Webster’s motion of dissent was placed on the notice-paperlast Wednesday (May 13th, 1914), in front of Government business, it would have been necessary, before calling it on, to have obtained leave of the House to give it precedence, in view of the specific sessional order carried on the previous week making it mandatory that Government business must take precedence of all other business.
I have made this explanation in order to make my own position clear, and I wish to point out, at the same time, that, so far as I have been able to discover, it is not the function of a Speaker to arrange the order of business on the paper, except under the direction of the House as to adjournment of debates, Orders of the Day, and in other special circumstances, or as specifically provided for under the Standing Orders, or to take the control of the business of the House out of the hands of the Government of the day.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay- Prime Minister and Treasurer [3.32]. - I shall not attempt to deal with the legal aspect of the question raised by the honorable and learned member for Flinders, but shall be content to put before the House what I conceive to be a common-sense view of the position. The honorable member has made two points. In the first place, he says that the privilege of free debate must be maintained. With that statement I. quite agree. His second point is that under Mr. Speaker’s ruling, we cannot discuss, in connexion with the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the very point that is material to it - the registration of the Australian Workers Union. Those were the words he used. As a layman, I cannot see that the privilege of free debate is at all impaired by Mr. Speaker’s ruling. He has ruled in accordance with the principle laid down by May, at page 332 of the 11th edition, that -
Matters awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law should not be brought forward in debate.
– The Prime Minister is not quoting the full statement. May speaks of “ matters and motions.” That would prevent the introduction of the Bill itself.
– The honorable member for Flinders needs no help. He knows that I have quoted the full passage.
– The Prime Minister has quoted in full the particular passage mentioned by him, but there is another.
– The honorable member for Flinders complains that, under Mr. Speaker’s ruling, he cannot discuss a point that is material to the consideration of the Bill - the registration of the Australian Workers Union. That matter, I understand, is before the Court at the present time.I would remind the House that it was quite open for the honorable member to illustrate his argument in the most forcible way, without alluding specifically to any case. He could have given illustrations to show why, in his opinion, it would be dangerous to pass the Bill.
– What I desired to do was to show reasons why this particular privilege should not be accorded to one of the associations mentioned in the Bill.
– The honorable gentleman took care to refer, not only to the existence of this association, but to its character, its doings, its misfortunes, its difficulties, and its political influence. It is most undesirable in a legislative assembly to discuss matters of this kind.
– But, if you ask the House to condone the illegalities of an association, ought we not to be at liberty to discuss all the merits of that association ?
– Yes; but, under the Standing Orders, that ought to be done by a direct charge and motion.
– How could we do that ?
– The good sense of the House would lead it to listen to the honorable member if there were a charge of corruption, or any other charge of the kind, made against this Government by reason of its favouring any particular party or section.
– What form of parliamentary procedure could we adopt in order to do that?
– Nobody knows better than the honorable member that it would be the duty of his leader to challenge the Government if they were conniving at anything improper.
– Therefore, I take it we cannot discuss the Bill.
– The honorable member could defeat the very authority that is bringing the Bill before the House.
– What is the good of challenging this Government?
– What I suggest would be a much more business-like, and, if I may say so, a much more manly course to take, if the issue is of such importance. But nobody is more fitted than the honorable member for Flinders, by illustration which would not reflect on the union in question, to put before the House all the merits of the case.
– But I desire to reflect on the association.
– The honorable member could have succeeded quite as well if he had refrained from reflecting on a particular body.
– I claim the right to discuss the merits of every one of the associations you are setting up in this clause 13.
– Having had that statement from the honorable member, I must again say, without claiming any legal knowledge, but on the plain reading of our rules and practice, that I am against him as to the right he claims. If such a right existed, it would be the business of Parliament to take it away. If such a course as that sought to be taken by the honorable member for Flinders can be taken in this case, it could be taken in almost every other case, and almost the fountains of justice would be interfered with.
– It is difficult to follow the reasoning of the Prime Minister. The honorable gentleman repeats the quotation from May read by the honorable member for Flinders,’ to the effect that matters under the adjudication of a Court of Law should not be brought forward in debate, but he wilfully abstains, although appealed to, from reading the earlier quotation, which is that a matter whilst under adjudication by a Court should not be brought before the House “by a motion or otherwise.” If it be correct that the honorable member for Flinders has no right to refer to the constitution of this organization, then the House had no right to entertain even the motion for leave to introduce the Bill. The measure before us is for the purpose of amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the foundation of which is the registration of organizations. The Act contains machinery for cancelling the registration of organizations which have been registered, and the Bill, in clause 13, provides that every association which at the commencement of this Bill is registered as an organization shall be deemed to have been duly registered. The clause specifically applies only to organizations which have been registered up to this date, and, in. the future, no protection will bc given to any organization no matter how technical the defect may be. The Bill specifically aims at protecting and preserving the registration of existing organizations; and, if the clause, instead of using the word “ every.” had had n schedule setting out by name the various organizations at present registered the. effect would have been precisely the same. The clause, as I say, applies only to organizations registered at the commencement of the Act.
– Quite so.
– The honorable member for Flinders contends that since the Bill casts protection of this kind over all existing unions and associations, he is entitled to examine the constitution of any organization in order to see the nature of the protection given. Why is this Bill, and this clause, introduced, if not to cover some defect ? Unless a union has not been duly registered, there is no reason for the Bill.
– I have explained the matter about twenty times.
– We have been told that the Bill is introduced for the purpose of curing defects in registration.
– To prevent the Court doing “ a stupid act of injustice.”
– To prevent the Court from cancelling the registration of existing associations which have not been duly registered.
– That is not so.
– Will the honorable member for Darling Downs confine himself to the motion before the House?
– The point is. that clause 13 is for the purpose of safeguarding
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether the AttorneyGeneral is in order in declaring that this Bill is to prevent the Court doing “ a stupid act of injustice “ ? I submit that the words are a grave reflection on the Court.
– The honorable member for Parramatta should have taken exception at the time the remark was made. The honorable member for Darling Downs made some reply to an interrjection across the chamber, and now, some time after, the honorable member for Parramatta intervenes.
– It is not “ some time after,” but only a minute.
– The debate had proceeded after the remark objected to was made, and I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to interrupt the discussion.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I submit that no debate had proceeded when I raised the point of order. You, Mr. Speaker, had just called the honorable member for Darling Dow;ns to order, and he was commencing again when I raised the point of order. I could not have done so a minute earlier, and I think, Mr. Speaker, you must be under some misapprehension. The point I raised, I submit, was a proper one, and I ask you to rule that the Attorney-General commits a breach of the privileges of the House, and of the rules and customs of the House, in reflecting so gravely on a Court which is at present sitting.
– No matter what the honorable member may say - and he may repeat it as often as he likes - a considerable amount of debate had gone on after the remark was made. I am quite as clear in my ‘conception of what took place as is the honorable member. I desire to point out to the honorable member that, when he takes exception to words, he must immediately move that those words be taken down. That is the proper course. For the future that course must be followed; and, if not, no notice will be taken of any point of order.
– Do I understand, sir-
– I call upon the honorable member for Darling Downs.
– Can I move that motion now ?
– No. The honorable member is too late.
– The point raised is this-
– One moment. We are getting a new practice every day here.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement, and apologize to me for making it.
– What have I to apologize for ?
-The honorable member must withdraw the statement that we are getting a new ruling every day, and apologize to me for making it.
– I beg your pardon, sir; I made no such statement. I said we were getting a new practice every day; and if what you have laid down is not a new practice, I should like to know what is ?
– The honorable member is again reflecting on the Chair. I must ask him to withdraw the statement he has made, and apologize to me for making it.
– I withdraw, and I apologize to you for saying-
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw and apologize without any qualification.
– I confess I do not understand where we are, and I should like to know what it is I have to do?
– I have told the honorable member what he must do, and he must do it without condition or qualification. He must withdraw the remark he made, and apologize to me for making it.
– Will you tell me the remark which I have to withdraw, and for which I have to apologize?
– If the honorable member proceeds much longer, I shall take another course.
– This is treatment I have never had in this House before ; but I withdraw and analogize, Mr. Speaker. Now may I make a personal explanation ?
– The honorable member may make a personal explanation.
– On second thoughts, I shall raise the point, and dissent from your ruling.
– I should like to say now that I cannot help hearing remarks that are made in the Chamber. I shall not mention any names at present, but I warn honorable members that if I again hear any insulting remarks in an undertone referring to the Chair, I shall name the honorable member who makes them, and shall ask the Leader of the Government to have him suspended from the service of the House.
– Mr. Speaker, did you hear an observation from the AttorneyGeneral some little time ago about some “ stupid blunder “ that the Court was making ?
– Order ! The honorable member for Perth must resume his seat.
– Would you, Mr. Speaker, mind repeating the statement you made, which I understood was to the effect that before a point of order can be raised in the future the words complained of must be written down?
– I pointed out to the honorable member that, when words of an objectionable nature are used in the House, it is customary to move that the words be taken down. That course has not been followed in this instance.
– Has that course ever been followed ?
– I am not concerned as to whether that course has ever been followed. My concern is as to what is the correct course.
– May I make an appeal to you, sir, in this matter ? I ask you now whether that course has ever been followed in this House ? Every honorable member knows that it has not been. Where, then, is my offence in saying that this is a new practice, for which remark you made me apologize?
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. The honorable member for Darling Downs may continue.
– Wait a minute! I have not finished yet.
– May I say-
– Does the honorable member rise to a point of order?
– I do. The honorable member for Parramatta took exception to my saying-
– I was not allowed to take exception.
– The honorable member took exception to my saying-
– On a point of order. I submit that the Attorney-General would not be in order in explaining an incident which the honorable member for Parramatta was not allowed to explain.
– I do not know yet what is the explanation of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– The honorable member for Parramatta, in taking that point of order, was evidently not aware that I was quoting-
– I was taking no point of order.
– Will the honorable member hold his tongue? The honorable member was not aware that I was quoting from Mr. Justice Higgins’ judgment; but the honorable member for Darling Downs, who was addressing the Chair, knew that perfectly well. The Leader of the Opposition, who only emerges occasionally from his shell, knew nothing about it.
– Mr. Speaker, is this fair ? You would not allow me to refer to that statement, and now the AttorneyGeneral is allowed to make an explanation.
– This matter has gone far enough. The discussion is only converting the proceedings of the House into a farce, and I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to assist me in properly conducting the business of the Chamber. The honorable member for Darling Downs will resume his remarks.
– Before the interruption took place, I was saying that the effect of this clause is that all organizations “ registered at the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be duly registered.” The honorable member for Flinders raised the point that he is entitled to ask the question as to what cases of undue registration were protected by this Bill ; that he is entitled to refer to the constitution of the Australian Workers Union; that he is entitled to- show what that constitution is; and that he is entitled to raise the question as to whether the alleged defects in that organization were protected by this Bill or not. Here is a clause which is introduced with the express intention of covering defects in connexion with the registration of an organization, whether that organization has a case before the Court or not. By your ruling, sir, you are preventing us from discussing those very defects which this clause was intended to cover.
– It is not so.
– That was the point raised by the honorable member for Flinders. He was criticising the constitution of the Australian Workers Union, and pointing out its defects, but because that union has a case before the Court you, sir, have ruled that we are not entitled to discuss those defects. If this Bill has relation to a pending case, that fact makes the pending case relevant to the discussion. I submit that where a Bill is expressly intended to remedy defects in the registration of an organization, and that issue is raised in the Courts, if the Bill here raises the same question, we are not precluded from discussing the case in this House. Your ruling amounts to this: That the Government can, by introducing a Bill, enact a provision which will have the effect of altering the decision that is likely to be made by a Court of law, and we in this House are not entitled to criticise it. Let me put this illustration to you, sir : A man has a claim against the Government; the Government think that the claim is based on a defect in the law, and they assert that they have a right to come to the House with a Bi’l to remedy that defect. If they were to bring in such a Bill, according to your ruling the litigant, who has been deprived of his rights, would be prevented from raising an objection in this Chamber. When a Bill deals with a matter that is before the Court it is surely the Bill that is out of order, and not the honorable member who refers to that matter. By your ruling, the mere fact that a case is pending before the Court precludes us from mentioning that case in this House, even although the Bill ‘iself affects the case. I will quote from the authorities which are referred to in May as laying the foundation of this decision. In the Address from the Throne referred to in Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, 1844, Vol. 72, appeared this passage -
I forbear from observation on events in Ireland, in respect to which proceedings are pending before the proper legal tribunal.
In that instance the Queen in her Speech from the Throne forebore from mentioning a matter that was. before the Court. On page 86, Lord John Russell is reported as having said -
Sir, there is one topic treated of in the Speech, but in such a manner as to preclude me from entering into it; yet, upon that topic, at once. I think it necessary to say a few words - I mean the question of Ireland.
This is the essence of His Lordship’s expression of opinion in the debate -
I quite agree, that while the trials are ponding before a judicial tribunal in that country, it would be impossible, with a proper regard to the proceedings of a Court of Justice, to discuss certain topics one way or the other, without involving the conduct of persons who are now obliged to defend their conduct before the Judges.
It is His Lordship’s view that it would be impossible, with a proper regard to the proceedings of the Court, to refer to that trouble in Ireland. Sir Robert Peel spoke to the same effect on page 98-
Her Majesty declares her reluctance, while the legal proceedings are pending, to refer to those proceedings; and it is, indeed,, impossible to refer to parties connected with affairs in that country without in some way alluding to the trials now going on. The noble Lord has named a day (in anticipation that those trials will then be closed) when he intends to bring forward the affairs of that country; and I am on that account the less disposed to refer to those matters.
The actual issue raised upon the Speaker’s ruling was in this case brought up in 1889, when the adjournment of the House of Commons was moved “ for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., the conduct of the police at Falcarragh, and the circumstances attending the arrest of Mr. Harrison and the prosecution of Mr. Conybeare.” Mr. Wharton, at page. 1254, Volume 335, Third Series, said-
I rise to order. I do not wish to interrupt the honorable member, but I wish to ask yon, sir, whether it is in accordance with the practice of the House for an honorable member to refer to the circumstance of a case pending legal jurisdiction. The fact is that all the circumstances to which the honorable member is alluding, wi’.l come before the Court of Appeal, and will probably form the charge against the honorable member opposite before that Court. I wish, therefore, to know if it is in accordance with the practice of this House, that the circumstances of the case can be referred to on this occasion ?
– When the honorable member on a previous night gave his notice, I thought it my duty to take upon myself the responsibility of saying that I thought, under the then circumstances, it would be indecorous in the highest degree to bring the circumstances under the notice of the House. But to-night the honorable member has varied the notice on moving the adjournment of the House, namely, “ For the purpose of calling attention to the conduct of the police at Falcarragh.” He now appears to be dealing with another subject, namely, the prosecution nf the honorable and learned member for the Camborne Division (Mr. Conybeare), and J hope I may say I do not think I am travelling out of my responsibility and my proper functions when I say that I do not think the House will sanction any remarks which are likely to prejudice the trial which, though it is over iri the first instance, is now the subject of appeal. The honorable and learned gentleman has asked me whether it is the practice of the House. I am not aware that there has been any definite and distinct expression of opinion on the part of the House that pending trials should not be alluded to. Nor am I aware of any distinct and definite ruling from the Chair, though I am aware of frequent expressions of opinion, both from Ministers in this House and other members, with regard to the impropriety nf alluding to pending trials in such a way as to prejudice a fair trial of the case.
– Those are all criminal proceedings.
– What is the difference ? The question is whether there is any decision or ruling of the House which says that the Speaker is entitled to rule a man out of order if he refers to a case pending before the Law Courts. The Speaker on the occasion referred to said distinctly that there had been no dis tinct, definite ruling from the Chair, and he concludes his remarks, “ With these remarks I shall’ leave the subject in the hands- of the House.” ‘The Speaker did not in that case take it into his hands, as you, sir, have done, to rule an honorable member out of order. It was a question for the House to decide, and the British Speaker left it to the House. The whole principle involved is whether allusions to pending trials are made in such a way as to prejudice a fair trial of the case. There is no practice or ruling in England whereby the Speaker has ruled such allusions out of order; in this particular case the Speaker of the House of Commons left the matter to the House. The case before us to-day is very much stronger than the one referred to by May. That was a motion moved by a private member to call attention to certain matters. In this case the position is different. A Bill was introduced expressly to secure the validation of the registration of certain organizations, including one particular organization which, happens to have a case before the Court questioning its registration. The clause mentioned in the motion distinctly states that that association shall be deemed to have been duly registered. We asked the AttorneyGeneral how would the clause operate. Would it not validate the registration of this association, no matter what the defects in connexion with that registration might be ? Surely we were in order in drawing attention to the constitution of the association, and mentioning matters which are not in accordance with the Act, but which, if the Bill were passed, would be validated ? Surely that was relevant to the debate, and did not involve any impropriety, in no way prejudicing the fair trial of the action at law ? If the trial of the action is impeded, it will be by the passing of the Bill, which may say to the Judge, “ Although certain things were illegal when the proceedings were commenced, Parliament has validated them.” You, Mr. Speaker, have given a ruling which is to apply to all future discussions, which would have this logical effect: If a Bill were introduced with the express intention of affecting a case before the Court, The persons whose rights were affected would not be able to petition the House - the ordinary right of citizens - and honorable members would not be in order in discussing its provisions. Under the circumstances, I submit that the ruling cannot stand. No one on this side questions the impropriety of discussing matters which are sub judice, with a view to prejudicing a fair trial of an action; but when a Bill is introduced expressly to affect the rights of litigants, members are justified in pointing out how those rights may be affected. If they could not do so, there would be taken away from our citizens the right to protest to Parliament against wrongs that were being done to them.
– I think that the ruling ought to be upheld. The principle that matters awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law shall not be debated is well established. The honorable member for Darling Downs has quoted from the House of Commons reports an exception to that rule, but he has not suggested that the rule is not well established, and that it is not a salutary and proper one.
– I think that it is quite a proper one.
– It is contended that the circumstances in this case warrant a departure from it-
– No; it is contended that the Bill departs from it.
– The circumstances being the introduction of legislation which, it is said, affects pending cases. It therefore becomes necessary to review these circumstances. I do not assert that your ruling, sir, should be dissented from, even if the contention of honorable members opposite could be upheld; but the circumstances are not what they have been stated to be by the honorable members forFlinders and Darling Downs. Those honorable members asserted that clause 13 will so far affect the rights of parties in a pending case as to prevent justice being done, but they did not attempt to prove that assertion. Last night I showed that it is a well-settled principle of interpretation that Courts will not assume that Parliament intended a Statute to be retrospective in its action where it imposes injustice upon any individual or party. It therefore follows that all legislation is assumed not to apply retrospectively unless expressly so stated. But this rule does not apply to procedure. It follows that where legislation amends procedure, it must apply to pending cases.
– Is a clause validating unlawful registration one relating to procedure?
– If it does not relate to procedure, it cannot apply to pending cases. Does the honorable member say that if the clause does not apply to procedure it will affect pending cases?
– Certainly ; it must affect them. It applies, not to procedure, but directly to the merits of the cases.
– If the clause relates to procedure, it will apply to pending cases; but otherwise it will not, unless in clear terms it is expressly applicable. Last night, I quoted from Maxwell On the Interpretation of Statutes, 5th edition, page 348, thispassage -
Upon the presumption that the Legislature does not intend what is unjust rests the meaning against giving certain Statutes a retrospective operation.
Then, on page 366 of the same edition, Maxwell states -
The presumption against a retrospective construction has no application to enactments which affect only the procedure and practice of the Court.
– Clause 13 is in its terms retrospective, inasmuch as it applies to past registrations.
– No British Court will assume that legislation inflicting injustice is intended retrospectively, unless that is stated in clear and unambiguous terms.
– The clause is retrospective in validating past registrations, and the Court must obey the law.
– In the case of the King v. Chandra Dhrama, 335 King’s Bench Division, 1905, vol. 2, a man was convicted under section 5, sub-section 1, of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. The time within which prosecutions could be commenced was originally three months ; but within that time, and before the man was prosecuted, the law was altered to make the period within which prosecution might take place six months. It was held that the amendment of the law, being an amendment in procedure, properly applied. Then, in the case of Kemp v. Wright, Chancery Division, 1895, vol. 1., in which an alteration of the bankruptcy law affected the rights of persons so that a person who had borrowed from a building society was relieved of certain liabilities, A. L. Smith, Lord Justice, said -
I read that section as enacting that after the 25th August,1894, no matter what any Court may have said about dissolution or windingup from and after that date, when any society is being dissolved or wound up, no advanced member shall be called upon to pay his debts otherwise than according to his contract.
If the provision in the Bill does not relate to procedure, it will not apply to pending cases.
– If it affects the procedure in a case before the Court, are not we justified in mentioning the fact?
– That is an entirely different matter. Let us deal with one point at a time. The point that we have to consider relates to the actual effect of clause 13 upon the. rights of any party who may now be before the Court. Taking a hypothetical case, upon an application for cancellation under section 60-
– The honorable member is now entering upon a discussion of the Bill itself.
– I submit that we are not precluded from speaking; of applications for cancellation generally. A reference to a pending case would be improper, but theright to apply to the Court for cancellation of registration is a general one, to which, I think, we may refer. On such an application, what has to be shown is that any of the grounds set out in section 60 can be established. To what extent, if any, does clause 13 affect that right? I say, first of all, that no litigant has a right to claim to have his case dealt with by any form of procedure other than that existing, other than that which the Legislature lays down at the time his case is decided. That is perfectly clear and well-settled law. No injustice is, or can be, done to any litigant by such a rule. No injustice is done by this clause. Section 60 provides that -
If it appears to the Court on the application of any organization or person interested, or of the Registrar -
that for any reasons the registration of an organization ought to be cancelled. . . . the Court shall thereupon cancel it. The Court will still have that power; but, under the Bill, it need not exercise it. At present, it has no discretion. It is said clause 13 will prevent concellation. Let us look at the Act. Para graph a, in my opinion, includes all the reasons covered by the other paragraphs of the section. The Court “ may cancel the registration for any reason if it thinks fit.” It may be some reason included in the other paragraphs, or a reason outside, for which cancellation may be ordered. All that clause 13 can possibly do, therefore, is to declare that the mere act of registration is valid. It does not prevent the Court from ordering the cancellation of registration onany of the grounds set out in the severalparagraphs of section 60. To bring the matter to a point, it is contended, Mr. Speaker, that your ruling curtails the freedom of debate. I readily admit that a ruling which would have that effect ought to be given very reluctantly, just as a decision of a Court, assuming that the Legislature intended to legislate retrospectively, ought to be, and is, given with the utmost reluctance. But it has not been shown how, under your ruling, the freedom of debate will be at all curtailed. All that honorable members may not do under it is to discuss an actual definite case now being heard. They may speak of general principles as long as they please.
– The honorable member for Flinders was not allowed toexplain the nature and constitution of the Australian Workers Union.
– I should think not.
– Because the Australian Workers Union is the respondent in a case now before the Court. Wherein lies the injustice ? Here are the two points : (1) That a matter awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law shall not be brought forward in debate; and (2) No legislation is to have a retrospective effect unless it is amatter of procedure-. Both these rules ought to be observed. If it is a matter of procedure to which the Bill refers, it is the settled practice, and ought to apply. It robs no one of any right which he enjoyed before, and does not prevent the Court doing justice.
– If the procedure affects a case before the Court, is not the honorable member justified in pointing out the effect which that legislation is having upon that case?
– What the honorable and learned member for Flinders proposed to do was to actually discuss and to anticipate the judgment of the President of the Court to-day.
– He repeated, word for word, the arguments used.
– That is not so.
– Such a thing would be monstrous. No newspaper is allowed to do it. This Parliament has the very widest possible powers of debate, but it must not abuse them. Honorable members opposite speak of an injustice being done. But what a foul injustice it would be if by any act of ours we were so to influence the course of justice as to bring about the cancellation of the registration of a great organization of this sort. The charge of injustice will lie lightly against those who have brought in the Bill, for it is a measure of general application introduced to remedy grave defects in the law which threaten the industrial peace of the community - upon the report of the Registrar - a report presented to the late Government, but not acted upon by them.
– The honorable member is now going beyond the question before the Chair.
– So far as the powers of the Judge under the amended law are concerned, he may do under it anything that he could have done before. He need not, unless he thinks it proper to do so, order cancellation of registration. This Bill restores to the Judiciary that discretion which is the very basis of the judicial function. I am entirely’ of opinion that this motion to dissent from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, ought not to be agreed to.
.- I shall have to refer, to some extent, to the Bill, because, with all due respect to the Attorney-General, I think that the greater part of his remarks were directed to the merits of the Bill itself rather than to the particular question raised by this motion. I wish, at the outset, to remove any misapprehension that may exist as to the reasons why we so carefully watch measures of the kind. I agree with the Attorney-General that much that is in this Bill may have a very helpful effect. I have never objected to the amendment of the principal Act set out in clause 3, under which, if it is found, after proceedings on a plaint have been before the Court for, say, twelve months, that some technical error has occurred in connexion with the registration of the organization in question, it will not be necessary to cancel that registration, lt would be a matter for regret if for some mere trivial irregularity in the registration of an organization the Court were compelled to stop the further hearing of a case which had occupied its time for some months, on the ground that at the time when the dispute was submitted the particular organization concerned was not an organization within the meaning of the Act. So far as this amendment can cure that evil, I welcome it. There is also a good deal in other parts of the Bill which would command one’s sympathy but for the great defect of excess which impairs this measure, just as it has marred much other legislation introduced by the Government. For instance, the clause under which officers, although not employes in the industry concerned, may be permitted to. be members of an association would not be open to much objection if it were not drawn so widely as to apply to any number. I agree to some extent with the Attorney-General as to the limited effect of clause 13. The honorable gentleman denies that it is retrospective in character ; but I do not hold that it is retrospective for every purpose. I believe that, if it be passed, it will still be possible, in some cases, to have the registration of an organization cancelled under section 60 of the Act.
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, to have your ruling on a point of order. In the last Parliament it was ruled that a motion, having occupied the attention of the House for two hours, must thereupon lapse. I would ask whether, in accordance with that ruling, the motion now. before us has not lapsed, seeing that more than two hours have expired since its submission.
– Standing order 119 imposes a limitation of two hours to the consideration of notices of motion, but that standing order, in ray opinion, applies only to private members’ business. It. has no application to Government business or to a motion’ such as that now under consideration.
– The motion held to have lapsed in the last Parliament was a censure motion.
– I contended at the time that the decision in question waa wrong. That, however, is immaterial to the present issue. I rule that any motion submitted as Government business, or a motion relating to procedure in this
Chamber, must take precedence of all other business.
– Notwithstanding clause 13 of the Bill, I think it would still be possible for an application to be made to the Court to cancel the registration of any organization for some of the reasons set forth in section 60 of the Act. The Attorney-General goes further, and says that application might be made on all or any of the grounds therein set out. He gave us to-day a different reason from that which he adduced yesterday.
– Both were good reasons.
– I shall endeavour to deal with them. In the first place, the honorable gentleman says that if it appears to the Court, on the application of any organization or person under paragraph a of section 60, that the registration of an organization should be cancelled, the Court may, at its discretion, grant the application. I do not agree with him that paragraph b of that section will continue to be one of the grounds on which the Court may cancel registration. Paragraph 6 of section 60 refers to cases where an organization has been registered erroneously or by mistake, and, in my opinion, it is finally repealed by this Bill so far as existing organizations are concerned. Clause 13 is in support of section 57 of the Act, and its endeavour is to make duly valid the registrations at present in existence. If any sense is to be given to the clause, it will preclude the Court from inquiring whether, because of any erroneous or mistaken registration, it should exercise the powers of cancellation given under section 60. In my opinion, that is the length - and it is not exceeded - to which the retrospective character of clause 13 goes. It has been put by some of my colleagues that, perhaps, the clause goes further; but, of course, we all have our views regarding legal interpretation. Now comes the Attorney-General with a dissertation on the question of retrospective legislation as affecting procedure or as affecting substance or material rights. There is no difference of opinion as to what the Courts lay down on the point; and the only relevancy that can possibly have is to the question of what is the meaning and scope of clause 13. Does it go the length of practically validating against all attacks under section 60 the registrations already in existence? Or does it go only to the length I suggest? Or, as the Attorney-General has put it to-day, has it any retrospective character at all? Unless there is a clear expression of legislative intent there can be no retrospective abrogation of rights. That, no doubt, is a principle of the law, but it does not apply where the alteration is merely one of procedure. That is a matter which the Courts can control ; if there is no rule laid down, the Judge is omnipotent, and may make one. In matters which do not affect material or substantive rights, but only procedure, we can, by implication, hold that there is retrospective effect; but we cannot by implication or general inference hold that the Legislature intended to retrospectively cancel rights. I have only a few words to say in regard to the motion itself. The cases cited by the honorable member for Darling Downs, and the hypothetical cases put before us so clearly by the honorable member for Flinders, amount to this - that we must not refer in debate to the merits of questions that have to be adjudicated on by the Court. May uses the word “ adjudication,” and other authorities on procedure refer to the fact that, not so much as n binding rule, but rather as a matter of practice or courtesy, there must be no reference during debate to the merits of points under discussion in the Courts. In other words, we must not prejudge here the decision the Court has not yet given. Now, in the present instance, I say that we are doing nothing of the sort. What Mr. Justice Powers, or any other Justice, has to do is to find out, on the facts presented to him, what the Act of Parliament means; and we are not discussing that now. The Judge will have to act, no matter what his opinion of policy is; if he finds that a certain set of facts is established by evidence under section 60 as it stands, he must do a certain thing - cancel the registration. We are not to inquire whether the evidence before him is of sufficient cogency to establish in his mind that opinion, or whether, therefore, he must decide one way or the other. What we say is that, no matter what the facts are in any case, all associations registered up to the present time shall be deemed to be duly registered; we do not care what the facts are one way or the other. I contend that it is relevant to that consideration, which is one of policy, that we should inquire into the conditions of the organizations, the registration of which are validated by the Bill. Mr. Justice Powers has not to consider that question, but the question whether, for specific reasons, the terms of the Act are being complied with, and he must, in the light of the facts, act irrespective of what the policy should be. We have to consider whether we ought to validate the registration, and we ought to know what the bodies are and their scope. Let me give an illustration. Some time ago, I think, Bills were introduced into the Imperial Parliament to prevent informers from subjecting certain men, who held shares in public companies, to severe penalties. When such a Bill came before the House of Commons, surely it was competent to inquire into the merits of the cases in relation to which it was sought to pass an Indemnity Bill ! It was not competent for the House, while the information was before the Court, to decide as to the weight of evidence. With that the House had nothing to do; and May lays it down that we must not therefore refer to the facts - that we must not do what the Judges do, and decide on the facts under the law as it stands. But surely it was competent for honorable members of the House of Commons to decide whether it was a proper principle to bring in a Bill to deprive an informer, if he established his case, of a fee of £500 a day? They were entitled to know who the informer was, and the whole conditions and circumstances under which the information was given. If members of Parliament were not able to do that, legislation of the kind ought not to be introduced, because it must result merely in a gamble in the dark. This applies to Bills such as the one before us. Some years ago, a Bill was introduced into the South Australian Parliament to decide retrospectively the meaning of a particular section relating to compensation to lessees. There was a method of assessing the basis of the value of water improvements, and a Bill was introduced to decide what the basis ought to be. If cases had been before the Courts at the time, it would not have been proper for members of Parliament to decide for the Judge as to what the Act meant; what they were entitled to do was to inquire into the pastoral industry to be covered by the legislation, and to decide whether the circumstances required that the principle should apply retrospectively. If members of Parliament cannot do that, they cannot carry out their legislative duties. There are many such instances; and if this motion be carried disapproving of the ruling, many will be presented. The point we have to decide is whether, although we are not presuming to guide the discretion of the Judiciary on the facts presented to the Court as to the meaning of the existing legislation, we are or are not entitled toinquire into the circumstances and merits of the organizations which are to have their registration validated. I think we are so entitled, notwithstanding the dicta which have been laid before us, and which, to my mind, are wider than the authorities in May and other text-books on which they axe based.
– I rise only because I do not care to give a silent vote on this matter; and for two reasons: One is that, during the short time I have been in the House, I have always set my face, as far as I properly may, against anything that would tend to limit unduly or embarrass the free discussion of public questions of a Federal character. The second reason is that, in my opinion, pre-eminently on a question of procedure, we should be, and, I trust, will be, entirely free from any sense of party bondage. I propose to support the view that the motion disagreeing with Mr. Speaker’s ruling ought not to be sustained. I feel that that ruling does not hamper or embarrass in any way the free discussion of the question before the House. I have come to that conclusion after listening with most respectful and close attention to the speeches of the honorable member for Flinders, the honorable member for Darling Downs, the honorable member for Angas, the Attorney-General, and others. The point which, as it appears to me, touches most closely on the merits of the motion is that frankly set forth by the Prime Minister as a layman. The point is that the only limitation which the ruling places on debate is a reference, which may be called a personal reference, to a particular case now being tried before the Court. It does not in any way hamper the honorable member for Flinders, or any other honorable member, from drawing on his imagination to the fullest extent for the purpose of finding illustrations in support of his argument.
– You mean that the honorable member for Flinders could deliver the same speech in some other way, by a subterfuge ?
– There is no subterfuge, so far as- 1 can see. The honorable member for Flinders may have before him the constitution of the union which has been named, or he may have it in his mind, and he could employ every argument and point suggested by that constitution.
– Surely that would be getting round the Speaker’s ruling?
– I do not think so. The honorable member for Flinders has already pointed out that clause 13, referring as it does to certain organizations: which have been registered up to the present, leaves it open to him to examine- the constitution and rules of every such association.
– Except the one the Bill will affect !
– Including the one affected by the Bill… As I have already said’,, the honorable’ member for Flinders may have’ in his mind’s, eye the constitution of every organization registered under the Act, together with every rule; and he may, without expressly bringing in the1 name of any organization, employ every such rule to illustrate the argument he is presenting.
– In other- words, he may call it A B G when it is X Y Z.
– There would certainly be no impropriety in his dragging iii, by name, any other organization in the way he proposed to drag’ in the- Australian Workers Union. There is, however, a very real danger in the course taken by the honorable member for Flinders. He proceeded to dissect the constitution of a certain union, and in doing that he employed almost word for word1 the arguments used by counsel in the Court.
– Why not?
– For the wellestablished reason that it is not only improper but dangerous to use the privilege of this House in order to discuss a case that is pending before a judicial tribunal. The honorable member for Flinders used precisely those- arguments, and I was about to point out what a real
danger that course involved. Unwittingly and quite innocently that honorable member might be adding the weight of his great authority and standing at the Bar, and the weight of his reputation as a lawyer, both of which are admittedly great, to influence the decision of a cas* before the Court. I make that remark without intending any charge against any person or reflecting in the remotest degree on any tribunal, but just as it would be grossly improper for a newspaper or for a public man outside to comment on a case pending before the Court, so- 1 say it is in the highest degree dangerous- for any man, particularly a lawyer of such eminence as the honorable member for Flinders, to employ in this House arguments almost word for word identical with those used in the Court, and to proceed to elaborate and strengthen those arguments.
– It may or may not. I have already admitted that if this, restriction could conceivably hamper the honorable member for Flinders, in illustrating or expounding the point he was- making I would- oppose it.. We, in. this Chamber have not to determine the question which is before the Court;, our business is to discuss by means of. every illustration at our command how the Eights- of unions generally and the: rights of the public in relation- to those unions may be affected by this legisla-tion or any other. Not only might the honorable member have any union in his mind’s eye> when illustrating his, argument,, but he could draw on his imagina*tion as to any possible cases that might arise. I cannot help thinking that the rule adopted in this House of. precluding from discussion matters which) are the subject of adjudication in the Law Courts is a very sound one, and, having heard all that is to be- said hu favour of this motion of dissent, T am unable- to see why we should depart from that practice in this case.
– Would not that argument apply equally to a motion having: the- same effect?
– It might, or might not: That is a question for the Government, and does not touch Mr. Speaker’s ruling’. I am limiting my remarks to the special application of what the honorable member for Flinders was proposing to say in relation to a particular case, and I cannot see that I am departing from the view I have always held that we should be loath to unduly limit rights of discussion in this Chamber. If I believed that that decision of yours, sir, went one iota beyond what has been the practice in this Chamber in the past, and what I think is established on good sound principles of propriety and due regard for our legal tribunals, I would not support your ruling. But I cannot see any reason in this particular case why I should support the motion.
– If the Bill affects the case before the Court, are we not justified in pointing that out?
– I have already said that I think the honorable member for Flinders would certainly be entitled to argue that point, but surely that may be done in what one might call an impersonal way, without dragging in, word for word, the arguments used in the Court in dissecting the constitution of one of the parties to the case.
– How can you criticise an organization without doing that?
– It is not a question of criticising an organization ; it is a question of principle, and any organization might be used for purposes of illustration.
– I have listened to the discussion, and every argument advanced in favour of your ruling, sir, seems to me to be an argument against the introduction of this Bill at all. The position is briefly this: You have ruled that a Bill which legislates on a matter which is being discussed before the Courts may be introduced and is in order, but to refer to the reasons for its introduction, and the particular case which the Bill contemplates, and which is the very reason for its introduction, is out of order. That is equal to saying that this Bill is properly before the Chamber, but it may not be properly and thoroughly discussed. I admit the salutariness of the rule which you, sir, have laid down, and which has been the practice of this House from time immemorial, that we should not discuss cases which are pending before the Courts; but if it is dangerous for the House to discuss them, it is surely more dangerous for the Government to introduce them. It is infinitely more dangerous to deliberately bring these matters before the Chamber
– It is immoral.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– Certainly; I withdraw it.
– It is infinitely more dangerous for a Government to legislate on a matter before the Courts than it is for us to discuss a matter which is before the Courts.
– If there are any defects, it is our duty to remedy them.
– Our talk will not do one-tenth as much damage to a case before the Court as this legislation will do. Our talk goes into Hansard, and there it ends, but the legislation continues, and that legislation is for the purpose of modifying anything that the Court may do.
– Order ! The honorable member is now getting beyond the scope of the motion.
– (No. Clause 13 of the Bill says that “ every organization which, at the commencement of this Act. is registered as an organization,” - and therefore every organization which is now before the Court - is a valid organization. If that is not infinitely more dangerous than anything we may say in drawing attention to an organization, I should like to know what is dangerous and what is safe ? This is the whole .test : If it is improper to discuss the case, it is much more improper that the Bill, which refers to the case, should be here. Your ruling, sir, brings us to this farce, that legislation may be put through this House without proper discussion. If there be one element of discussion that is more proper than another, it is to challenge the necessity for the Bill being here at all. The preliminary inquiry must always be into the validity of any legislation before the House. Is this legislation properly before the House, and is it a proper thing to do? How can we answer that question, unless we discuss these organizations and their registration, and unless we can go into details for the purpose of finding out what is wrong or right about them ? I say that the detail of this matter is all-important. I take it that the Bill is brought here so that we may investigate every detail surrounding this clause, and to say that we can do that but we must not mention what we are doing, seems very extraordinary. To talk of a case in the clouds is right, but to talk of a fact that is on earth and is concrete is wrong and improper.
– The employment of arguments used by counsel in a particular case is what I object to.
– Is discussion in this House to be limited by what counsel say outside?
– All that has been done is to discuss, under clause 13, the details of the registration of organizations. No reference has been made to the Court at all.
– The honorable member for Flinders referred to the Court.
– I defy the honorable member to find anything in the speech of the honorable member for Flinders which refers in any way to the case before the Court.
– He proceeded to make an address to the President of the Arbitration Court under cover of the privilege of this House.
– That is unfair.
– I respectfully submit that Mr. Speaker ought not to permit the honorable member for Batman to make that statement.
– I say it without offence. That is the effect of what the honorable member for Flinders did. I do not say that he intended to do it.
– Here is an intimation to the Court that, no matter what they may do, no matter that they may say the registration of an organization is invalid, the Attorney-General says it shall be valid. The honorable member for Flinders never went so far as that. This Bill says to the Court that is adjudicating and inquiring into these matters, “ No matter what you may do in any particular case, and no matter what your judgment may be, this Bill contains what the law is going to be.”
– The honorable member is now going beyond the question before the House.
– In what way?
– The honorable member is discussing a question now before the Court, and he must not do that under cover of his motion.
– My remarks apply to any case. I am stating this matter in what the honorable member for Batman called an impersonal way. My point is that this particular clause of the Bill brought up these matters. What was the reason for this clause? Evidently, according to the AttorneyGeneral, some of the rules and regulations of some of the organizations and associations had been called in question before the Courts, and on this account the registrations of these unions were sought to be proved defective. The Attorney-General told us that the purpose of the Bill was to make these registrations valid. He told us that the very purpose for which this legislation was introduced was to cure some of the defects.
– What would be the position if the case was over, and the Court was not sitting? Could we then discuss it?
– That is not the point. The point is that the AttorneyGeneral said that the very purpose for which this legislation was introduced was to cure some defects in the registration of some associations which had been revealed in the Court. If there be any reflection on the Court, then the Attorney-General was reflecting on it. He was certainly, by this Bill, taking the most effective means of trying to influence the Judicature.
– The honorable member is not discussing the ruling. He is discussing a totally different question.
– I understand that the ruling was that this Bill was properly before the Chamber.
– That was not the ruling, and it is not the question before the House.
– You said that the honorable member for Flinders was not in order in discussing the constitution of the Australian WorkersUnion on the ground that a case for the cancellation of the registration of that organization was pending before the Courts. I am not objecting to that ruling; I contend that it should have carried you further, and that you should not have ruled that the Bill was properly before the Chamber.
– That point is not now before the Chair. The question is the motion submitted by the honorable member.
– The motion relates to this particular organization and its registration, and I contend that not only is the discussion of the union before the Chair, but also it is embodied in the very Bill itself. The Attorney-General toldus in his speech that the Bill was intended to cure a defect in regard to this particular organization.Would the Bill have been before the Chamber at all but for the Australian Workers Union?
– I cannot inform the honorable member. I simply say that the honorable member must confine himself to the question now before the Chair.
– Since you have ruled that the Bill dealing with the registration of this organization, among others, was properly before the House, discussion of the details of these organizations and their registration was equally proper. Both must go or both must stand. If a Bill purporting to cure something wrong in the registration of this organization was properly the subject for discussion in this House, then what was wrong with the organization and what the Bill contemplated setting right was also proper subject for discussion.
– Was there any referenceto the Australian Workers Union in the Bill?
– No ; but every association was affected.
– I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the matter before the Chair.
– Surely the question of the Australian Workers Union is before the Chair, as also the ruling that the association could not be discussed, because a case relating to it was before the Court ; and all I am doing now is’ to point out that a case which was specially to be validated by a Bill, notwithstanding that it was before the Courts, was either improperly before the House, or discussion upon it was relevant.
– The honorable member should have taken that point at the time. He cannot discuss it now. He must confine himself to the question before the Chair as to whether my ruling was wrong.
– The last honorable member who spoke roamed all over the place, and discussed the Australian Workers Union and everything else, and yet Iam wrong in answering him.
– The honorable member is entitled to answer another honorable member.
– I do not think I am, and so I shall sit down.
.- I think that we all should be jealous of the privileges of the House, and in this matter I agree with the honorable member for Flinders.
– I want to dissent from this new ruling. I shall have to fight for my rights.
– The honorable member sat down, and another honorable member has commenced his speech.
– I sat down because you would not allow me to proceed.
– I did not prevent the honorable member from proceeding. The honorable member distinctly said that he was going to sit down. I donot wish to accuse the honorable member of deliberately making a misstatement, but he certainly sat down of his own accord.
– I sat down because you would not let me proceed.
– The honorable member sat down of his own accord. It is too late now for him to dissent from my ruling. I call on the honorable member for Wimmera.
– I think that every one should be jealous of the privileges of the House, and that any matter set down for discussion this session should be discussed in a dispassionate manner. We have heard the putin a very able and conscientious manner by three eminent lawyers who have addressed the House; but I wish to say a word or two, from a layman’s point of view, in dissent from the ruling and in support of the motion submitted by the honorable and learned member for Flinders. It strikes me that if we were to discuss clause 13 of the Bill, which stated that every association which at the commencement of this Act was registered as an organization should be deemed to Have been duly registered, as it should have been discussed in order to ascertain whether it should be agreed to or rejected, the fullest, freest, and most searching investigation into the constitution and rules and operations of all of the organizations registered under the Act should have been made. It should be the inalienable privilege of this House to make the most thorough investigation into the operation of every one of these organizations ; otherwise, how would it be possible for honorable members to come to a proper determination upon the matter ? This particular clause may have dealt with the registration of every organization registered under the Arbitration Act; and, in order that we should adequately and freely discuss all the operations that would be governed by the provision, it was necessary for honorable members to go into the fullest details. I think that view is common sense. I am not concerned so much about precedents that may be laid down in May, but I am seriously concerned with the preservation of the privileges of this House. If the ruling given by Mr. Speaker is to be maintained, the probability is that hardly any Bill can be brought before the House that will not infringe, in some way or another, on some case before our Law Courts. If the ruling is to be persevered in honorable members are to be deprived of one of their most cherished privileges, seeing that there may be litigation before the Courts, or pending, dealing virtually with legislation at the time under discussion in the House. To now refer to the rules of debate as laid down in May. The quotation from that authority which has been referred to is -
A matter whilst under adjudication by a Court of law should not be brought before the House by a motion or otherwise.
If that precedent is to be followed, then the fault lies in the fact that the Arbitration Bill was improperly before the House. There can be no possible doubt about the two positions. They seem to be thoroughly plain. Once the Arbitration Bill was brought forward, the fullest and most searching investigation into all the operations of all unions registered was vital to the particular clause, and they should have been discussed without any restriction, and if any case before the Courts restricted that full discussion of the various matters governed by the clause, even to the extent of a letter, the fault lay with the Government in introducing the Bill at this particular period. If the Bill was properly before honorable members they should have had the right to discuss it freely, but if we are to be told that it could not be discussed freely in consistency with the Standing Orders and certain Court proceedings, the fault lay in the fact that the Government brought down the Bill improperly. The Government are not immune from the ruling that matters Hinder motion or otherwise, shall not be discussed while particular litigation is before the Courts ; in bringing forward a motion or a Bill they are no more immune from the operation of the rule than any private member who brings forward some matter already before the Court. The honorable and learned member for Flinders yesterday simply took the rules and constitution of the largest organization registered under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act in order to show that the particular clause of the Bill before honorable members should not be passed, and to show that if it were passed a very serious injustice wouldbedone. I consider that these matters were open to legitimate and proper discussion, and that they should have been fully and exhaustively discussed in order that the House might do justice to the provision in the Bill. The House should have been permitted to discuss the clause in all its effects and their ramifications in order that it might come to a determination as to whether the provision should be passed.
– But do you think that the honorable and learned member for Flinders should in this House give the weight of his argument in regard to a case that is pending in the Courts?
– I do not admit that the honorable and learned member for Flinders was, as the honorable member contended a little while ago, employing arguments that were being used before a Court. I understood that the point of the honorable and learned member for Flinders was that he was showing from the constitution and operation of the largest organization that would be governed by the clause of the Bill that the provision should not be passed. I hope that the House will rise superior to party considerations in dealing with this important question, and that the privileges of honorable members will be preserved. I hope that the Government will be honest, and say that this matter should have been open to the fullest and freest debate representative of the combined wisdom of the House, which is necessary before legislation is put on the statutebook, or else that they will admit that the Bill should have been withdrawn while a certain case was before the Court.
.- Perhaps the best way of avoiding heat and irritation in the consideration of the motion would be to take a hypothetical case bearing upon the matter at issue. Let us put altogether from our minds the case which has been, if it is not still, before the Courts of the country, and let us for a moment pay no attention to the Bill which has caused the present trouble. Let us assume that a Government in some other Parliament than this had introduced a Bill amending legislation in regard to matters about which litigation is threatened. Let us assume that that Government could have introduced that legislation a month or two earlier than it did, and that it stated, when introducing this measure, that there were grave and urgent reasons why the Bill should be passed without delay. Under such circumstances, the members of the Parliament would naturally ask, “ What are the reasons for urgency, and to whom is the legislation to apply?” If it were found that the legislation applied to a particular union, would it be fair to prevent the Opposition - which has its duty to the country, just as the Government have - from searching the merits of the union, for which the Government was deliberately interfering with a case before the Courts? I am grateful to the honorable member for Batman for the lead that he has given me in this matter.
– The honorable member is showing what the honorable member for Flinders might have done.
– I ask honorable members if they think that it would be fair to prevent discussion by an Opposition of a case such as I have assumed ?
– All is fair.
– If that is the spirit that is behind what is being done - and I believe it is-
– I admit that I was wrong in taking notice of the interjection. The argument addressed to the House by the honorable member for Batman was that we should have been perfectly in order in dealing with the rules of every other union but that particular union whose case is before the Court, to which alone the reason of urgency applies. The honorable member said, in effect, that had that particular union been mentioned specifically, we could have discussed all its affairs, so far as the Bill related to them; but that, because it was not specifically mentioned, and was interested in a case upon which the Bill would have effect, we could not refer to it. Yet the Bill specifically refers to the Australian Workers Union, amongst other associations.
– Inferentially, not specifically.
– Specifically. Clause 13 declares that -
Every association which, at the commencement of this Act, is registered as an organization, shall be deemed to have been duly registered.
The Australian Workers Union has been registered, and my honorable friends hope that its registration will hold good after the Bill has become law.
– I think that it will.
– The merits of the quarrel in the Arbitration Court do not concern me; but, as the Australian Workers Union is a union which is to be deemed a duly registered organization when the Bill has become law, it is specifically named. It is to obtain exemption from the results of mistakes made by its officers or others, and yet this Parliament is to play second fiddle to another tribunal, and is not to inquire into what it has done. We are to give the union all that it asks, and not to satisfy ourselves whether it is entitled to get what it asks. The application of such arguments as we have heard from the other side would turn this Parliament into the laughingstock of Australia. I believe that this trouble would not have arisen had it not been for the peculiar relationship existing between the Australian Workers Union and some honorable members opposite. A Minister is the head of this great organization. I submit that when the House is asked to pass legislation affecting organizations specifically referred to, and one of those organizations is to immediately benefit by that legislation, the affairs of that organization should be open to discussion by honorable members. We ought not to discuss the merits of any particular argument placed before the Arbitration Court, and we ought not to prejudge the verdict of that Court ; but the introduction of the Bill is, in itself, a prejudging of the verdict of the Court. Had not the verdict of the Court been feared, would the Bill have been introduced? The introduction of the Bill proves that honor- able members opposite were afraid of what the verdict might be. If a thing is, or is not, in order, according as it does, or does not, prejudge a legal issue, I submit that not only must all reference to the Australian Workers Union in this case be ruled out of order, but also that the Bill itself must be ruled out of order.
– I wish to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that on more than one occasion when in a position to speak more freely than you can speak now, you have drawn attention to the fact that May is a somewhat elusive authority. As to that, there is no doubt in the minds of those who have had to study that authority. Time and again May lays down a law very definitely, and then proceeds largely to explain it away. That is what is done in the cases that have been cited. May says that a discussion of any matter pending before a Court should not take place in Parliament, but, as the honorable member for Darling Downs has pointed out, it is noted that in certain instances the discussion of such matters is permissible. I respectfully submit that if there are circumstances in which the discussion of matters before the Court is permissible, the present are such circumstances. The Bill that has caused all this trouble is admittedly an extraordinary one. It has been brought in to deal with a matter before the Court. That being so, I submit that it is permissible to refer, in the way in which the honorable member for Flinders proposed to refer, to matters arising directly out of its introduction. We have been chosen and sent here to discuss, freely and without challenge or threat from outside, such affairs as may be brought under our notice. I feel sure, sir, that if you look at the matter in its common-sense relations, you will see the honorable member for Flinders was not going beyond the bounds of legitimate criticism of the clause which it was our duty to consider fully and carefully.
.- As a lay member, I have a certain amount of hesitation about intruding into an argument which has been conducted for the most part by the legal members of the House; but of all the extraordinary arguments that I have heard in this chamber, that brought forward this afternoon by the honorable member for Batman, who is himself a legal member, was the most extraordinary. He said that the honorable member for Flinders might have used all the arguments which he intended to use last night, that he might have used the very words which were used in the argument before the Arbitration Court, that he might have quoted word for word the rules of the Australian Workers Union, if he had merely referred to the Australian Workers Union as “ X,” and not by its proper title. The honorable member for Batman said that the honorable member for Flinders might have done that, even though every member of the House knew exactly to what he was referring. In such circumstances, what can we think of the honorable member?
– What he suggests would mean making a farce of Parliament.
– An absolute farce of the proceedings of the House. The honorable member frankly admitted that Mr. Speaker’s ruling would mean a grave limitation of the rights and privileges of the House, if under it these rules could not be quoted; but he contended that it would be perfectly open to an honorable member to quote them provided that he referred to them as the rules of “Union X.” Was a greater subterfuge ever suggested by a public man? It was a pernicious and absolutely immoral argument to use in this Chamber. It is enough to raise the wrath of an honorable member that public men, who are supposed to be men of honour, should advocate resort to a subterfuge of that description so as to be able to justify a vote which they intend to give in this House.
– Is the honorable member for Richmond in order in stating that the honorable member for Batman has resorted to a subterfuge?
– The honorable member would not be in order in attributing unworthy motives to an honorable member.
– I recognise that had I done what the honorable member for Herbert suggests, I should have been out of order; but, as a matter of fact, I did not. I made the absolute statement that the honorable member for Batman had suggested that we should adopt a subterfuge. That was the gravamen of my attack upon him. I have for you, Mr. Speaker, and the position you occupy, the greatest respect; I am sure you will admit that no occupant of the chair is always infallible, and I suggest that in this particular instance you have been in error. If the Government had seen fit to bring down a Bill of one clause relating to the cancellation of the registration of any organization, and if, for the sake of argument, the Australian Workers Union had been the only union registered in the Court, then, under your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that Bill would have had to pass this House without one word of debate upon it. That is the logical outcome of your ruling, and, in the circumstances, it is an utterly impossible ruling for this House to uphold. The whole blame for what has occurred rests with the Government. There is not the slightest doubt that they got their orders and proceeded to put them into effect.
– The honorable member is not in order in attributing unworthy motives to the Government.
– Then I shall not do so. Is it right that honorable members should be limited in this way ? Is it right that, although the Bill refers in general terms to all organizations registered in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, we cannot refer to each one in particular ? If this ruling is to. stand, then there will surely come a time when we shall be reduced to the position I have indicated. I admit fully and freely that all pending litigation should not ordinarily be matter for discussion in this Chamber ; but when the Government of the day bring down a Bill which does affect pending litigation, there can be absolutely no limit whatsoever to the debate which should properly take place upon it.
.-I do not care to cast a silent vote upon this question. I have listened very carefully to. the arguments that have been adduced on both sides, and have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that your ruling is wrong. I say so with all deference to you ; but since the privileges of the House are more or less at stake, I think it right that I should state frankly how I view your decision. This is not a party matter, and I regret that, during its consideration, we have not had a hunger attendance of supporters, of the Government.
– They have not heard a word of the argument, and, therefore, will give an intelligent vote!
– In such circumstances it seems to me that honorable members simply troop in and vote according to direction.
– Will the honorable member deal with the question before the Chair ?
– I am sure, sir, that if you were on the floor of the House you would urge that we should approach the consideration of this question free from all party bias. That is what I am trying to do. If your ruling be upheld, we may be debarred from adequately discussing any Bill brought in by the Government. If we are to have anything approaching free speech in Parliament, it should be permissible to fully discuss any measure submitted to us. The honorable member for Darling Downs having moved that the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of certain clauses, the honorable member for Flinders, speaking to that motion, proceeded to allude to certain facts relating to an organization which would be affected by clause 13. I submit that he was entitled to discuss the constitution of an organization to which the Bill directly refers. The Australian Workers Union and other associations are registered as “ organizations “’ under the. Act, and this Bill might have been brought in to prevent the cancellation of their registration. If the honorable member for Flinders could show that that was improper, but that it was the real reason why the Bill had been introduced, I think he was entitled to do so. The honorable member for Batman has said that if the honorable member for Flinders had read the rules of the Australian Workers Union, not as those of the union, but as the rules of “ Union X,” he would have been in order.
– I prefer to state my own argument.
– That was the impression which the honorable member conveyed to me, and also to the mind of the honorable member for Richmond.
– He is a very impressionable young man.
– It is laid down by May that it is not proper to discuss any matter affecting a case awaiting decision by the Courts. He also declares that it should not be done by motion or otherwise. If this Bill in any way affects the registration of the Australian Workers Union, which is now before the Court, then the fault lies with those responsible for its introduction, and not with those who wish to discuss it adequately. This ruling, if allowed to stand, would seriously curtail the privileges of theHouse. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will regard this motion not as a party one-
– It serves to occupy time.
– If the honorable member, instead of interjecting in that way, would make a speech setting out some solid reason why this ruling should not be dissented from, he would do better. I have come to the conclusion that this motion should be supported, believing that the honorable member for Flinders was perfectly in order in discussing the constitution and registration of the Australian Workers Union. If he was not, then we can have no chance of debating the Bill. Indeed, when any measure of the kind is submitted, the Government need only say that a case covered by it is before the Court, and our mouths will be promptly closed. If that be so, the Government should not have introduced the Bill; but, as they have introduced it, any facts relevant to its proper discussion are perfectly admissible. If the ruling of the Speaker is upheld, then that salutary principle will be swept aside. I do not contend for one moment that we are entitled in the discussion to say anything that would prejudge a fair hearing of any case ; but certainly nothing was said by the honorable member for Flinders that could have that effect. It was laid down that the honorable member could not discuss the constitution and organization of the Australian Workers Union.
– ThatI could not discuss alleged defects which are to be remedied by this Bill.
– The very presence of clause 13 in the Bill, referring as it does to the Australian Workers Union and other organizations, shows that there is a danger of the registration of those organizations being cancelled. If, because a case is before the Court or pending, there must be no discussion on a measure of this kind, then Parliament is rendered silent and useless as a legislative body -legislation is reduced to a farce. The more authorities are consulted the stronger the case appears for the motion of the honorable member for
Flinders. I listened most attentively to the Attorney-General, and also to the Prime Minister, but in neither instance did I hear anything relevant to the issue.
– There may be, perhaps, some party bias in that.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Fawkner should attribute party bias to me, because I am endeavouring, as I hope and trust all honorable members will endeavour, to deal with the question dispassionately, so that we may have a fair expression of opinion from the Chamber. My chief objection to the ruling is that, if it be allowed to stand, it will seriously curtail free speech. All the best authorities inform us that if a question is raised by a Bill the House is entitled to adequately discuss that question; and nothing that was said by the honorable member for Flinders could be held to violate that rule.
.- While it is the duty of honorable members to assist in upholding the dignity of the Chair, the duty devolves upon them to protect the privileges they enjoy under the Standing Orders and the Constitution, including the privilege of free speech.
– Is that why the honorable member assisted in “ gagging “ us last session so frequently?
– If similar circumstances were again to arise, I should take the same action with a great deal of pleasure. The Bill, especially clause 13, deals specifically with the registration of organizations, and it applies to every organization which is registered at thepresent time. It should not be a matter of much moment to us that any one of those organizations has at the present time a case before the Court; the very fact that the Bill has been introduced by the Government - and they must have known of the case before the Court - makes it a fair subject for debate. We do not know what legislation may be introduced in the future; and if, because some case affected by the Bill is before the Court, discussion is to be restricted or stopped, great harm may be done. We all agree that under ordinary circumstances cases sub judice should not be discussed; but we should insist, in special circumstances, such as the present, on the privilege and right of free speech. There is no doubt that clause 18 affects, to a great extent, many of the organizations. Section 60 of the Act very clearly states that organizations must not make rules which would prevent new members from joining, or rules that are tyrannical or oppressive; but, under clause 13, all the present registrations, whether or not the rules of the organizations are tyrannical or oppressive, are to be validated. Under the circumstances, there ought to be full liberty of discussion of clause 13, even if it does apply to the Australian Workers Union, or any other body.
– On the question of whether rules are tyrannical or oppressive, our mouths are shut.
– The present position is an extraordinary one. As I said before, the Government must have known of the case before the Court.
– The question before the Chair is my ruling, and the honorable member is going beyond it.
– I was merely discussing whether the honorable member for Flinders was justified in mentioning the Australian Workers Union, and pointing out that the rules of that body, which, under clause 13, will have the effect of law, may be tyrannical or oppressive, and altogether contrary to the spirit of the Arbitration Act. We are making a precedent; and the decision of the Speaker to-day, if upheld, may be acted upon three years hence by another Speaker, with very grave results. I am sure honorable members would not like to feel that they had done anything to interfere with free speech; and it is possible, if the ruling be upheld, that in the future some Government may introduce legislation from the discussion of which honorable members will be debarred. Under the circumstances, we should have the fullest right to discuss, not only the Australian Workers Union, but any other organization which may be registered under clause 13.
.- As a layman, I shall endeavour to approach the question from a common-sense point of view, divested altogether of legal technicalities and quibbles, with which I have nothing to do, and of which I have no knowledge. A Bill has been introduced which may have a very important bearing on pending litigation; and this very fact invites discussion from every point of view, im pelling and compelling honorable members to take into consideration the conditions under which every one of these organizations is operating. The ruling prohibits honorable members from discussing the most essential point whether any one of these organizations has adopted rules which are contrary to law, and which would render its registration illegal. The position is an extremely dangerous one from the point of view and welfare of the privileges of this House. If the ruling is upheld it will be possible in the future to initiate legal proceedings in a way and at a time which would block the proper discussion of any Bill. It may be said that such a thing is not likely to be done, but I point out that it can be done; and here is a case in point. Members and the general public would like to know if the design and object of this Bill is to interfere with litigation which is before the Court.
– Order ! Will the honorable member confine himself to the motion before the Chair?
– I am endeavouringto do so. If that point were firmly determined in our minds, and it were distinctly asserted by those who are responsible for this Bill-
-The honorable member is now discussing the Bill, and not the ruling.
– I am endeavouring to show in what way the ruling affects theprivileges and rights of honorable members. I am contending that, inasmuch as a Bill is before the House, which, by common consent, is supposed to have some influence on pending litigation, if we areprevented by the decision of the Speakerfrom discussing the merits and the particular conditions of the organization concerned, we shall be frustrated in our purpose of putting the facts before the publicand Parliament as we desire to do. Tomy mind, it is of all things essential that there should be no limitation of our powers in that regard. Certainly the very fact of the Bill giving rise to suspicion
-The honorable member is again discussing the Bill. Hemust either discuss the motion before the Chair or resume his seat.
– I fail to see how I cau discuss the matter before the Chair without making reference to the Bill. As the Bill invites discussion, and as your ruling prevents discussion-
-Order ! The honorable member must not impute a motive to the Speaker.
– I have no desire to do so. As your ruling, sir, prevents certain facts, which ought to be made clear, being demonstrated, it appears to me that that ruling is an infringement of the rights of honorable members. The point is whether by any ruling you can limit our rights and privileges. If your ruling limits our rights, we are justified in resenting it. If, on the other hand, it does not do so, we have no cause for complaint. I maintain, with all due deference, and with the utmost good feeling to you, personally, Mr. Speaker, that your ruling does affect our privileges. It does prevent honorable members making clear to the House certain facts which ought to be disclosed. The disclosure of those facts would have an important bearing on the course of the Bill through this House, but they cannot be disclosed because of your ruling, which I submit is bad, having regard to the rights of members of this Chamber.
– I certainly agree with the honorable member for Echuca that this is a matter which greatly affects the privileges of members of this House. I would point out that Maxwell, in his publication on the interpretation of Statutes, says that if, during the pending of litigation, legislation takes place, that legislation will not have reference to such litigation unless the latter is specifically referred to. I have not the book to refer to at the moment, but that is the effect of the law as laid down By Maxwell. In other words, in order to bind pending litigation, Parliament in its legislation should specifically refer to such litigation, and so place beyond all doubt the intention that the pending litigation is to be affected. It is admitted that clause 13 is retrospective in character, and, though no specific reference is made, it affects pending litigation. If it does affect any pending litigation, we have necessarily a right to discuss that particular litigation. The moment the
Bill attempts to in any way prejudice or affect pending litigation, it invites the House to discuss the merits of that litigation. If the House were not at liberty to discuss that litigation it would be competent for any Government to introduce a Bill and to stop a pending suit at law, for reasons which they might think proper, yet members of the House would not have the right to discuss the merits of the particular question directly affected by the Bill. If there is pending litigation in which the question of the registration of an organization is involved, clause 13 must affect that litigation. The clause says -
Every association which, at the commencement of this Act, is registered as an organization shall be deemed to have been duly registered.
That does not mean, as the AttorneyGeneral says, that the clause is to be prima facie evidence of registration. It means that the registration is absolutely valid, and, assuming that the question of registration is involved in any pending suit, it is obvious that that suit is affected by clause 13, and therefore we have a right to discuss it. The passage in Maxwell to which I was referring is -
In general when the law is altered, pending an action, the rights of the parties are decided according to the law as it existed when the action was begun, unless the Statute shows a clear intention to vary such rights.
If, therefore, clause 13 shows a clear intention to vary such rights - and it is admitted by ‘the Attorney-General that the clause does affect the rights of parties in pending litigation - the necessary connotation is that we have the right to discuss that particular litigation. If such discussion were not allowed, it would be competent for the Government to introduce =a Bill seriously affecting a law suit which was then pending, and doing one of the parties an injustice, and honorable members would not be permitted to discuss the merits of the Bill, or the merits of the pending litigation. If that principle were permitted, it might be carried to any length. Therefore, I hope, in the interests of the privileges and rights of honorable members, that you, sir, will see the wisdom of at least withdrawing your ruling; if not, we do not know what may be the ultimate effect of the establishment of such a precedent.
.- In reply-
– The .honorable member has no right of reply.
– I submit that I have. Will you hear me on that point, “because I desire to refer to the Standing Orders to show that I have the right of reply ?
– I have gone through the Standing Orders very carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that the honorable member has no right to reply.
– Then I ask you to hear my reasons for believing that I have that right. The right of reply, I submit, is expressly given to me by standing order 262. Standing order 261 says -
A reply shall be allowed to a member who lias made a substantive motion to the House, or moved the second reading of a Bill, but not to any member who has moved an Order of the Day (not being the second reading of a Bill)., an amendment, the previous question, or an instruction to a Committee
Then standing order 262 says -
A reply shall also be allowed to the mover of any substantive motion, although the debate thereon, by being adjourned, becomes an Order of the Day.
This debate was adjourned under the Standing Orders, and has become an Order ot the Day. There are two kinds of motions referred to ; there are motions that are substantive and stand by themselves, and there are motions which are appendant to something else, such as the motion for the first reading of a Bill, a motion that a debate be adjourned, and a motion in Committee that the Chairman leave the chair. They are all motions appendant to an Order of the Day. But a motion that the Speaker’s ruling be disagreed to is substantive, because it displaces matter that otherwise would be before the House. The report stage of this Bill might have been completed, and the measure read a third time and sent to another place; and yet this motion to disagree with the Speaker’s ruling would remain standing by itself as a substantive motion. With regard to the rules of debate, you, sir, have ruled that we cannot debate certain matters, such as the conduct of Judges in a case, without a substantive motion. A substantive motion is, in my opinion, any motion that is not appendant to some Order of the Day or matter otherwise before the House. What else does it mean ? I might suggest that the Prime Minister should consider this point and advise you.
– The honorable member is raising this point merely by the courtesy of the House.
– By your courtesy, certainly; but I submit that I have a right to show reasons why this is a substantive motion. If it is not a substantive motion an Order of the Day, which stands by itself, ceases to be a substantive motion.
– One circumstance which is fatal to the honorable member’s contention is that this motion to dissent could not have arisen had it not been for another question which was before the House. That question was that clauses 3, 10, and 13 be recommitted. Out of that question arose another motion that my ruling be disagreed to.
– The other question has been disposed of.
– Nevertheless, this motion could not have arisen had there not been another question before the Chair. Therefore, the honorable member’s motion cannot possibly be considered a substantive motion, and in these circumstances I rule that the honorable member has no right of reply. I desire to briefly recall the circumstances under which I gave the ruling now called in question. The AttorneyGeneral, during my temporary absence, asked for a ruling as to whether Sir William Irvine was not out of order in discussing the registration of the Australian Workers Union, as that matter is now awaiting the decision of a Justice of the High Court. Our Standing Orders do not provide directly for this matter, but it is, I believe, a universal rule of British Parliaments - as laid down in May, pages 278 and 332 - that matters awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law should not be brought forward in debate. In accordance with that principle, I ruled that it would not be in order to refer specifically in the debate to the Australian Workers Union. Sir William Irvine urged that if it was out of order to refer specifically to the Australian Workers Union, then clause 13 was out of order, as it dealt with the registration of that union. I considered that the point as to how far clause 13 dealt with the union referred to was a question of law, and that it is not the duty of a Speaker to decide such matters of law.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
I beg to dissent from the Speaker’s ruling - that before a point of order is taken concerning objectionable words, they must first be taken down.
I do not know what the honorable member means. At any rate, my intention is not conveyed by the wording of the honorable member’s dissent. The position I took up was that, if objectionable words are used, an honorable member taking exception to them must rise in his place and move that they be taken down by the Clerk. I have decided to adopt this course, because a number of objectionable words are being hurled from one side of the chamber to the other; and as, sooner or later, this practice will need to be stopped, I have decided to deal firmly with it. The Standing Orders distinctly state that a certain course should be followed, and I shall endeavour to pursue it, in order to attain the object I have pointed out. If the honorable member for Parramatta desires to proceed with his motion, I shall see that it is attended to.
Sitting suspended from 6.37 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Trading with the Enemy Act 1914.
May I, by leave, expedite our proceedings by explaining the measure at this stage ? The Trading with the Enemy Act was introduced and passed through all its stages in one sitting only a short time ago, but practical experience has proved that its provisions are insufficient for our purposes. The British Parliament has found it necessary to amend the Act on which our Act is based. We have cabled for the full text of that amending legislation. We have not yet received the text of that measure, but the Bill that I wish to introduce has been drafted to cover the ground which, from the remarks of the Imperial Attorney-General, appear to be covered by it. This Bill is so urgently needed that we ask honorable members to allow it to pass through all its stages to-night. The term “enemy subject “ is defined in the Bill to include any person, firm, or company whose business is managed or controlled directly or indirectly by, or is subject to, the influence of enemy subjects, or is carried on wholly or mainly for the benefit of or on behalf of enemy subjects, notwithstanding that, if a firm or company, it may be registered or incorporated within the King’s Dominions.
– How can you prove that any person, firm, or company is subject to the influence of an enemy subject? Surely that is a psychological problem !
– I admit the difficulty; but it is, unfortunately, a fact that there are in our midst companies which masquerade under the guise of Australian companies, but are controlled and influenced very largely by enemy subjects, existing and carrying on their operations, so far as they are able to do so, for the benefit of enemy subjects. That ought not to be allowed to continue. I am unable now, and the House will not expect me, to give instances in support of my statement; but the facts are within the knowledge of nearly every honorable member. While the question of the Leader of the Opposition may be fairly put, it is not easily answered. It is because of the difficulty of proof that the term “enemy subject “ has been given so wide a definition. At this juncture, it should be sufficient that the welfare of the community demands that certain firms and companies, about which there exist doubts as to their being controlled or influenced by enemy subjects, shall be controlled directly by the community through the agency of the Government. I hope to make a statement to-morrow in regard to one company which will amply bear out all that I say to-night, and more; but I cannot make that statement now.
– Which section of the Act is to be amended ?
– It is proposed to amend section 2 by inserting at the end of sub-section 1 the following provisions - “Enemy subject” means -
That is the chief amendment. Section 7 of the Act provides that -
Where it appears to the Minister of Trade and Customs, in reference to any firm or company -
That an offence under section threeof this Act has been, or is likely to be, committed in connexion with the trade or business thereof …. the Minister may apply to the High Court for the appointment of a controller.
It is proposed to enlarge the scope of this provision, first, by the definition of “enemy subject”; and, secondly, by giving greater powers to the controller. Under the Act, the powers of the con troller are those of a receiver or manager under the laws relating to bankruptcy or insolvency in force in the State in which the firm or company carries on business. The duty of a receiver or manager is to carry on the business placed in his hands in the interests of the creditors or persons interested. His powers may not go to the extent of discontinuing that business, but it may become the duty of a controller under this Bill to discontinue the business placed in his hands, and it is proposed to enable him to do so. It is further proposed to allow the controller to receive debts due by any person to an enemy subject, or to any person about whose status there is reasonable doubt, or where payment might possibly be against some principle of policy or Statute. The controller is to be empowered to receive money in such cases, and to pay it into a fund where it shall remain until the close of the war, when it may be paid out to the person to whom it shall then appear to be properly due.
– The payment to the controller will be a discharge of the debt, so far as the debtor is concerned ?
– Yes. The powers given are very wide, but, as I said when introducing the principal Act, the circumstances demand legislation of this character. I do not think that the Bill goes further than the British legislation, and, in any case, after careful consideration of the position, I am confident that it does not go further than is necessary to deal with present circumstances.
– Could not the honorable member get leave to introduce the Bill, and allow the House to proceed with the consideration of the next business on the paper until he is able to present it?
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Attorney-General have leave to continue his speech at a later hour ?
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– The motion of which I have given notice reads -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to provide for the grant of pensions upon the death or incapacity of members of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth and members of the Imperial Reserve Forces resident in Australia, whose death or incapacity is in consequence of matters arising out of, or in the course of, their employment in connexion with warlike operations.
I desire, by leave, to amend my notice of motion by leaving out the words “ is in consequence of matters arising out of, or in the course of,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “results from.”
– Will that widen the scope of the order of leave?
– Yes. I now move the motion in its amended form.
– Will the honorable gentleman give us an indication of what it is proposed to provide by the Bill?
– The Bill has for its object the granting of pensions to members of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth, and members of the Imperial Reserve Forces resident in Australia, who are incapacitated because of their engagement in warlike operations. It will also make provision for their wives and dependents in the case of death.
– Will it apply to officers and men in both Forces ?
– Yes. It will apply to both the Naval and Military Forces.
– I am not quite sure that the amendment will not limit instead of widen the scope of the order of leave.
– Why not use both phrases?
– I think it would be better. The amendment has introduced terms of strict limitation, and I think that the Government will find themselves hampered in consequence of it. Circumstances may arise out of the war which they do not now foresee, and if the order of leave be limited in this way, I feel sure that it will be necessary later on to bring in an amending Bill.
– I think that the words “ results from “ are more of a drag-net than is the phrase for which they have been substituted.
– Let us use both phrases, and so safeguard ourselves.
– The matter has been before the Crown Law Department for consideration, andthey think that the motion in its amended form is safer than the original proposal, and will give rise to less friction in the administration of the law.
It is at their request that I have amended the motion.
– It may be the decision of the Crown Law officers, but I think it is wrong. We are just as well able to judge of these matters as they are. After all, they can only tell us what is the law of the subject ; they cannot sketch the question of policy, and this is undoubtedly a question of policy. I am satisfied, from my knowledge of the Department of Defence, that if we agree to the motion in its amended form many claims will arise which the Government will not be able to consider.
– The words “ arising out of or in the course of “ appear in the English and Australian Workmen’s Compensation Acts, and have been given a particular meaning and construction. If we employ them in this case there will be a natural tendency on the part of the Judiciary to follow previous constructions placed upon them. I presume that the amendment was designed to allow of an unrestricted interpretation. I hope that the effect of the use of the words “ results from “ will be to widen the scope of the order of leave. The general feeling of the community is, I think, that in dealing with questions of compensation to those who go to the front we should not be guided by any mere technical consideration.
– We should also provide for cases of injury occurring in camp before the men leave for the front.
– We are now granting the order of leave upon which the whole Bill will be based, and, therefore, the wider we make its scope the better.
– The phrase “ results from “ is very wide.
– I hope that it will be so construed. The Bill should cover the men from the moment they sign on. I hope that is the intention of the Government.
– It is.
– From the moment they volunteer their services and are accepted for these Expeditions their pension rights should be conserved. That, I think, is the general feeling of the House.
– I can assure the honorable member that that is the intention of the Government.
– Then we should make the order of leave as wide as possible.
– I am glad that this question has been raised. I am well acquainted with the limitations that have been placed on the words “ arising out of or in the course of “ in connexion with Workmen’s Compensation Acts. Different meanings have been given to them by different Judges. In one case a Judge will hold that the claimant, when injured, had not actually commenced operations, although he was at his work, and is therefore not entitled to compensation. Other difficulties of the kind have arisen from the use of such words, and I think that they should not be employed in this case. The phrase “ results from “ is as wide as any we could use. It would cover the case of a soldier or sailor who, while on duty, sustained what he believed to be at the time only some slight injury, but who subsequently developed an illness which could be traced to that injury. It is the intention of the Government, and I think it is the desire of the House, that the Bill shall cover every possible injury that may be bonâ fide sustained by soldiers or sailors while following their employment from the time that they are sworn in.
– Supposing a soldier was injured while being conveyed oversea ?
– That would be while he was engaged in warlike operations.
– But supposing he was not on duty at the time ?
– If he were under orders to go to a certain place, or even if he were on leave, with a direction that he should return at a certain time, he would be acting in connexion with warlike operations.
– Take the case of a soldier who, while engaged in a game onboard ship, was injured.
– He would be on board ship under orders in connexion with warlike operations.
– But if a man’s death occurred in such circumstances, could it be said to result from his employment in warlike operations?
– Yes. A soldier keeping himself fit by any game is, in my opinion, engaged in warlike work.
– It means practically during the term of his employment.
– Practically. It means anything that may happen to a man in the ordinary way of living, in any capacity whatever, while he is a soldier.
– If he slips on a wet deck, for instance?
– If he slips on a wet deck or slips overboard ; and, even if he did the latter intentionally, I fancy he would come under this Bill.
.- A person while at the seat of war might contract a disease, say consumption, and not die for a year or two; and I should like to know whether such a case as that would come under the Bill.
– It is for the doctors to say whether death is the result of his warlike service.
– Will there be no limit to the time in which claims are to be put in?
– I would rather leave that to the medical men and experts to say; I do not think we should decide these details here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Trading with the Enemy
Bill presented and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Unfortunately, I have been able to secure only a very limited number of copies of the Bill, which I have; distributed as well as. I am able. In continuance of the explanation I have already given, I direct the attention of honorable members to the verbiage of clause 2, which is substantially what I have already indicated to the House. Clause 3 enlarges the power of the Comptroller so far as to make it unnecessary to resort to the War Precautions Act to enable him to serve and to do all those things that an authorized officer could have done under that Act. He may impound books as well as search premises, and he is not confined to business premises, but may search any premises where he has reason to believe documents or papers of any sorb are to be found. Clause 4, which amends section 8 of the principal Act, is very wide, and it has been further widened by two subsequent amendments winch I have put in writing on the margin. This extends the power to appoint a Comptroller to cases where it is deemed necessary to the safety of the Commonwealth that such an appointment should be made. That, of course, is a very wide power .; but I assure the House that it is not wider than is required. Clause 5 deals with the payment of moneys by a subject of the King to any enemy subject, and this is a very .desirable provision to which, I think, no objection can be taken. Clause 4 provides that the Governor-General may make regulations for the effective carrying out of the measure.
– It is somewhat difficult to criticise a Bill that has only just mow been placed in our hands, but there are one or two observations which I should like to offer. Under the principal Act, section 3, any person who, during the continuance of the present state of war, trades or has, before the commencement of the Act, traded with the enemy, is guilty of an offence punishable either summarily or on indictment. By “enemy subjects” does the Attorney-General mean the enemy subject within the definition that has been introduced ?
– No; that is certainly not the intention.
– An enemy subject practically means a person who has traded with the enemy within the meaning of subsection 2; that is to say, a .person is deemed to so trade if he performs any action which is prohibited under the measure. As to the other points, the Bill practically does three things. It provides a definition of “enemy subject” so as to enable the Department to have wider jurisdiction over those persons whom it thinks it necessary to control in the interests of the Empire; in the second place, it gives wider power to control businesses which under the present law may be seized by the ComptrollerGeneral; and, thirdly, it enables debts due to enemy subjects to be discharged by the debtor on payment to the Comptroller, who will be able to give a complete discharge. In regard to the first, it seems to me that very wide powers, indeed, are being taken. Of course one has, to a great extent, to take the assur ance of the Minister in regard to the difficulties that have ‘been encountered, or otherwise one would be apt to criticise in detail sub-clause b, which has reference to any person, firm, or company which is managed and controlled directly or indirectly by or under the influence of enemy subjects. What is the exact meaning of that provision, and how far does it carry us ? Influence may be exercised ki many different ways. For instance, there may toe an incorporated company, the shareholders of which are foreigners.; or there may be a company, incorporated in six different places, and having connexion with Australian or English companies, and yet with Australia as its real place of origin; or there may be a company which could exercise influence by contractual arrangement to .supply certain material.
– Where the influence ‘has the effect, or probably will have the effect, of diminishing the resisting powers of the Forces of the King, or of replenishing the credit or coffers of the enemy and thereby prolonging the war, that will, prima facie, be influence under -the Bill.
– I understand that the Government have taken a general power which is only to be exercised in cases where there are clear indications that, although a company may be incorporated, and, apparently, a genuine British company, such influence is at work. As to the question of control, I see no objection; and the third power sought seems to me a very satisfactory one to possess. Claims may arise, perhaps, in connexion with shipping, where debts are due to foreign firms, and local debtors desire to discharge them. Debts may be due by the creditor to local merchants here. In those circumstances I think it is highly advisable that any money that can be retained here should be held, with a view to possibly meeting any contra account that may subsequently arise between the merchants. I presume that the AttorneyGeneral has some such intention in view, and, in the circumstances, it seems to me that the powers which he seeks should be granted.
.- I believe that this Bill is based on an Imperial amendment. I have closely followed up the Imperial legislation, and have noted the reasons why some of their measures have been introduced. I think that we in Australia had better do what the Home authorities are doing in these matters. I notice that in their proclamations and Acts enemies are defined to include, not only persons who can be colloquially defined as enemies, but also persons who, though not residents of an enemy country, are carrying on business with the enemy country. In other words, I think the enemy character is determined generally by what is known as domicile, and I find in one of the latest books that has been published as to what is an alien in connexion with trading, that in some cases it is not really necessary for a person to have residence in an enemy country in order to become an alien. I do not desire to quote at length from a book by Arthur Page, published as late as August last, on what is an alien enemy, but I think I am correctly stating the substance of a number of cases he mentions when I say that the enemy character depends, not on ordinary citizenship, but on domicile in the country. A person carrying on business in Germany must be regarded as an enemy subject, at all events for the purposes of trading, and it has been held that one may acquire domicile in a country without personal residence. That seems to approximate very closely to what the Attorney-General is proposing in this Bill. If there is a company in Germany controlling the operations of a company doing business in Australia, and registered under our Acts, it is only right that we should give that company a character which it would acquire through domicile. I take it that that is the principle of this legislation, and, if so, it ought to commend itself to our approval. In regard to the power to appoint a controller, I notice that the power taken now does not seem to go as far as the power taken by the original section of the Act, because I see that in paragraph b of section 8 of the original Act, there is power to appoint an inspector or controller to carry on the business of a firm or corporation, which, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral, it may be necessary to carry on, although that firm or corporation is committing an offence, or supposed to be committing an offence, in the terms of the Act. This Bill does not go as far as that, because it provides that the business must be carried on by an enemy subject through an agent or directorate.
– I intend to move an amendment to add the words, “or it is necessary for the safety of the Commonwealth that a controller should be appointed.”
– I take it that the AttorneyGeneral is not going beyond what has been done already, but is particularizing certain cases, and in the circumstances I think we ought to support the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 2 of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (1) the following definition : - “ ‘ Enemy subject ‘ means -
any person who is an enemy within the meaning of any proclamation by the King or by the GovernorGeneral, referred to in subsection (2) of this section; or
any person, firm, or company, the business whereof is managed or controlled directly or indirectly by or under the influence of enemy subjects, or is carried on wholly or mainly for the benefit or on behalf of enemy subjects, notwithstanding that the firm or company may be registered or incorporated within the King’s Dominions.”
.- The honorable member for Darling Downs raised a point as to whether this definition will affect the scope of section 3 of the original Act. “ Trading with the enemy,” I suppose, means trading with an enemy subject, because we are using the definition of an enemy subject in this Bill.
– I think that excludes it from the definition of enemy subject, because it says that it is an offence for a person who is not an enemy subject to trade with an enemy subject.
– It would not do to create an artificial enemy by this Bill, and to hold that a person or firm carrying on business through an agent in our midst with a firm the control of which is in Germany would be liable to be charged under the principal Act with having traded with an enemy subject. For instance, a Melbourne agent of a company controlled in Germany might be carrying on business with a number of persons, but those persons would not be trading with the enemy.
– The mere fact of a person doing that would not create an offence.
– I hope that point is covered,but the drafting does not seem to be quite clear.
– The case instanced by the honorable member for Angas will not arise through the application of clause 2 to section 3 of the Act. I think that section 3 deals with persons who are not enemy subjects trading with persons who are enemy subjects.
– Trading with “the enemy,” not “ enemy subjects.”
– I am inclined to think that the intention of section 3 is to deal, not with persons who are either enemies or enemy subjects, but with those subjects of His Majesty who trade with the enemy. Trading with the enemy is a term generally confined to trading with the enemy outside the Dominions.
– That is so, but you might be artificially altering it.
– Whatever the construction of this amendment may be, I can assure the Committee that by the administration of this Act, over which the Government will have control, clause 3 will not be so applied as to deal with persons who would not be liable under section 3 of the Act in such a way that they are brought in as enemy subjects under clause 2.
– I agree with the AttorneyGeneral that the definition of the words “enemy subject” cannot by any construction be placed on the word “ enemy “ alone. Clause 2 purports to define two words which are joined together, and used in the Bill, namely, “ enemy subject,” a particular class of enemy. Those words together occur in the original Act, and in section 8, and in section 8 as amended, the only possible result could be that this meaning would attach to the words “ enemy subject “ wherever they occurred, but I do not think that by any construction that interpretation could be placed on the word “enemy” alone.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section 8 of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting in paragraph (1) before the words “ firm or company “ (first, second, and last occurring) the word “ person “ ;
by inserting in paragraph (b) of subsection (1 ) , after the first word “that,” the words “ (in the case of a firm or company)”;
by inserting in sub-section (1) after paragraph (b), the words : “ or
that the business thereof is controlled or managed directly or indirectly by or under the influence of enemy subjects, or is carried on wholly or mainly for the benefit or on behalf of enemy subjects “ ;
by omitting from sub-section (1) the words “ shall be those of a receiver and manager under the laws relating to bankruptcy or insolvency in force in the State in which the firm or company carries on business, with such modifications, restrictions, and extensions as the Court thinks fit “ ; and inserting in their stead the words “ may include any powers of controlling, conducting, continuing, discontinuing, extending, restricting, or varying the business and operations of the person, firm, or company “;
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “ (3) Where the Minister is satisfied, in reference to any person, firm, or company, that the business thereof is managed, controlled, or carried on as mentioned in paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of this section, he may, before applying to the High Court under that sub-section, appoint an interim controller of the firm or company with such powers and subject to such conditions as he thinks fit; but in that case he shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, apply to the High Court under that sub-section.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That in paragraph (c), after the words “enemy subjects” (second occurring) the following words be added: - “or (d) that it is necessary for the safety of the Commonwealth that a controller of the business should be appointed.”
That after “section” in line 5 of proposed new sub-section (3) the following words be inserted: - “or that it is necessary for the safety of the Commonwealth that a controller of the business should be appointed.”
That in the proposed new sub-section 3, the word “ person “ be inserted before “ firm or company.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 (Debts due to enemy subjects).
– It is provided in sub-section 5 of this proposed new section that “ the Treasurer shall pay the money to the creditor, his executors or administrators, on demand made after the termination of the present state of war, or before that time if he is satisfied that the creditor is not an enemy subject.” What would be the position of the Australian creditors of a foreign corporation trading here whose debtors have paid the money they owe to the corporation, and that money is held by the controller and handed over at the termination of the war to that foreign corporation, if the firm should be in financial difficulties in its own country? Apparently, the money collected from the debtors in Australia must be paid over to the corporation, and thus may not be available for its creditors here. The firm may be a large shipping company to whom sums of money may be due for freight. This money has to be collected, but the money so collected will have to be paid over to the company, though, at the same time, it may owe money in Australia for services rendered here.
– It is difficult to frame an amendment to cover the whole ground, but we can say that the Treasurer “ may “ pay over the money.
– Leaving it discretionary on his part to pay over the money would be better.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the word “ shall “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ may.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That thisBill be now read a third time.
.- I wish to say one or two words upon some further points before the Bill leaves this Chamber, and to draw attention to several new and exceedingly novel principles which have been introduced into it. I refer particularly to clauses 3 and 11. The Attorney-General has told us during the progress of the debates upon this Bill that the measure has been rendered necessary in consequence of the High Court judgment in the Tramways case. He has referred rather fully to various techni calities, and, as one is rather hampered by having to refer to purely newspaper reports of the Tramways case before the High Court, it is regrettable that he has not been able to make available the full text of the judgment of the High Court in the matter. When the Bill was in Committee, a new clause was inserted at the instance of the Attorney-General, as follows - 3a. After section 19 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - 19a. A plaint by which an industrial dispute is submitted to the Court shall be deemed to have been submitted by the organization by which it purports to have been submitted unless evidence is given on behalf of that organization that the plaint was not in fact submitted by that organization.
What does this most extraordinary piece of new procedure mean ? It would appear that the mere fact of a plaint having been submitted to the Court is to be absolutely binding; and the plaint is to be deemed to have been submitted by the organization by which, on the face of it, it purports to have been submitted. And then the provision goes further, and says, in effect, that unless evidence is given on behalf of the organization concerned to show that the plaint was in fact not submitted by it, the respondent cannot dispute the authority of the person submitting the plaint. The only party allowed to dispute the matter is some organization, which can come in afterward sand say that, although the plaint had been instituted in its name, it is the organization referred to, and did not authorize it. The party made the respondent to the plaint cannot take any exception to it. The only reason I can find for this new provision is in some remarks made by the Chief Justice in the Tramways case, in which he criticised the action of the organization that was before the Court. He said -
Mr. A. C. Warton described himself as general secretary of the claimant organization from February 10, 1911. He also deposed that the consent of the organization to the submission of the dispute to the Arbitration Court had been given by a body calling itself the executive of the association passing a resolution to that effect at a duly convened meeting on September 4, 1911, of which resolution an alleged copy was set out, which he swore tobe a true and correct copy. A book purporting to be the minute-book of the association and of its executive was put in, which did not contain any record of the meeting of the executive on September 4, or of the passing of any such resolution as that sworn to on that or any other day. No explanation had been offered of the absence of any original record of the resolution, if it was ever passed. The minutes of a meeting of a body calling itself thu Federal council, held on August 29, contain a record of three resolutions, two of which are of to the same general effect.
Then he added - lt will appear that neither the so-called Federal council nor the persons who call themselves the executive had any authority under the rules of the claimant organization to act on its behalf in bringing the alleged’ dispute before the Court.
The proposed new section appears to meet this case. If a body calling itself an executive of an organization, when it is not,, can file a plaint to which a respondent cannot object, then an extraordinary position is created. In this case, if. the tramways organization had not repudiated the step taken, the respondent organization, which, was dragged into the tribunal by the plaint, could not dispute the authority of those who filed the. plaint. It seems to me that attempting to bring in legislation, to meet a case like that is going to great extremes, and that, if we do this, we shall find that we are creating legislation which will be of a doubtful character, and dangerous in its operation. The same remarks, will apply to clause 11, which amends section 58a of the principal- Act. Section 58a provides that an organization may in the prescribed manner, on compliance with the prescribed conditions, change its name, and the Registrar shall thereupon record the change of name in the.- register upon the certificate- of. registration . It is now, proposed to. alter that’ by enabling the organization also. to change ite constitution, including the. description of. the. industry, in, connexion, with which, it is registered.. Now,, dealing with, a similar point in the Tramways case judgment, the Chief Justice< said -
At a meeting of the association held on November 22 it was, resolved that the rules be amended by the addition of the Federal Constitution. The Court during the argument announced on June 22 that, in its opinion, the attempted- amendment was. ineffective; and that the. constitution of the claimant organization, consequently remained as declared by the original award until altered in accordance with the rules. In my opinion, it follows from the provisions of the Act that the constitution and powers of an organization when incorporated are, at any rate so far as regards matters as. to which rules are imperative, such as are defined by the rule on the faith of which registration and incorporation is obtained. Such an> organization, therefore, cannot make any alteration either in. its constitution or its powers with respect to the matters which are required to be contained in the rules as a condition of re-registration except in the manner prescribed by the rules themselves. I think, further, that any such alteration must be made by the corporation itself after- it has been incorporated. In any other view, an association formed for one purpose might, after the application for registration, be converted into an association having quite a different object, of which no notice had been given us prescribed by the regulation, and the provision of the regulation requiring 30 days’ notice, which is a condition- precedent to registration, would be nugatory.
The Attorney-General has introduced into om- arbitration law provisions which will enable an organization to completely change its object and purposes. I hope, therefore, that he will see that due provision is made for the- public notification of any objection as to constitution. When the constitution of an organization is changed, there should be the same right of objecting to the change as existed in regard to the original registration-. Finally, I wish to fire a parting shot at clause 13. The Attorney-General referred to the fact, that under section 57, when the Registrar has issued to an organization a certificate of registration in the prescribed form, that certificate shall, until proof of cancellation, be conclusive evidence of the registration, and proof that the organization has complied’ with the prescribed conditions entitling it to registration. In the Federated Enginedrivers’ case-, it was expressly decided that a certificate of the registration of anorganization thus given is not conclusive evidence of the validity of that registration.
– That is. so.
– But clause 13 says that an association which, at- the commencement, of the Act, has been registered- as an organization, shall be deemed to have been- duly registered. Is it intended to go beyond the decision of the High Court in this Federated Engine-drivers’ case? In that case-, the Court held that, as the law then stood, an organization must be an organization in connexion with an industry, and that an association which included among its members’ other than persons, in the. industry with which it was: connected, could not be validly registered. Would not the Bill have validated such a registration ? The law was altered to provide for craft organizations. Suppose* now, an association includes among- its members, not only members of the craft with which it is concerned, but others who are not connected with that craft, the point that it is not a proper organization, and should not have been registered, cannot in future be raised as regards existing organizations, because clause 13 declares that any association which has been registered as an organization must be deemed to have been duly registered. The clause clearly covers paragraph b of section 60, which deals with registration erroneously or by mistake. But is not the provision so wide that, if an association is registered which includes among its members persons who are not employes in an industry, and have no relation to it, the registration will be valid ? Would it be possible to attack the registration of an organization on the ground that the organization was composed of persons other than those employed in the industry? Is the effect of the clause to validate such a registration ?
– It does not validate the registration.
– It prevents the registration from being questioned.
– It will prevent any one from succeeding in questioning it.
– I admit the distinction. An objection could be raised, but would not be considered. The effect of the clause is to strike at the basic principle of our conciliation and arbitration law, which is intended to settle disputes between employers and employes within an industry. Under the Bill protection will be given to an organization which has within its ranks hundreds, or even thousands, of persons not connected with any industry. Thus a decision as to a dispute or the submission of a plaint may be brought about by persons in the organization not connected with the industry concerned. That will be a dangerous state of things, and will not tend to promote industrial peace. We, on this side, raise no objections to amendments of the law which will make the machinery for securing industrial peace more effective. Our wish is that technicalities of procedure and the cost of litigation may be reduced, and the settlement of disputes expedited. We have no sympathy with delay in procedure, which creates ill-feeling. Our desire is that machinery may be devised which will enable disputes to be settled quickly and promptly, and that thus the industrial peace and welfare of Australia may be secured.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs has expressed a pious hope that the Arbitration Court may be made a facile and speedy means of securing industrial peace.
– That is what Mr. Deakin said in introducing the first Arbitration Bill.
– Yes; and what has the decade which has since elapsed brought about? Strikes have multiplied, tension has increased, classfeeling has become more acute. Every one of the results predicted for the establishment of the Arbitration Court has been falsified. My complaint is that the spirit of arbitration does not prevail in the Court, but is as far from it as Heaven is from earth.From year’s end to year’s end nothing takes place there but fierce and contentious litigation. Every Act that we pass seems an incentive to further litigation.
– The present position is a haven of rest compared with what it would be if there were no Arbitration Court.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable member would sooner have strikes.
– The Assistant Minister must be blind to the facts. Does he not know how strikes are multiplying? They have never been more numerous than since the facilities for settling disputes have been greatest.
– There has never been a violation of a Commonwealth award by a union.
– That is contrary to the fact.
– The Registrar tells us that it is so.
– No; he could not truthfully say so, because the facts are all against him. The AttorneyGeneral has had to settle many a strike.
– He is a very conciliatory person.
– Yes; but as fast as he settles one dispute some one pushes up another. And so this feeling develops. There is no arbitration about the whole business. The spirit of compromise is as far removed from the com batants in this Court as it is just now from the combatants on the battlefield. Each is trying to beat down the other. There is no attempt in this Court to do that which is the very essence of arbitration - to look, for one moment, at each other’s point of view. Yet here is my honorable friend the Attorney-General again engaging in a most praiseworthy attempt - and I congratulate him on his persistency - to secure industrial peace in the Commonwealth. I am an unbeliever, at this time of day, in these efforts to bring about industrial peace.
While the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return.
– And who is the sinner - the honorable member or myself? It is no use blinking one’s eyes to the facts. They are patent. What have we in the Newcastle district?
– The miners there are not working under a Federal award.
– Is there some magic connected with an award of the Federal Court which places it over and above every other award? Is there no one in the Commonwealth bat Mr. Justice Higgins to give justice ?
– The unions seem to think not; they are very anxious to get to the Commonwealth Court.
– To get to Mr. Justice Higgins.
– That is unfair.
– It is a fact, and the honorable member knows it.
– The honorable member does not.
– While I have been addressing public meetings, I have heard the cry, “ Three cheers for Mr. Justice Higgins,” and they have been given. Ask the same men to give three cheers for the Chief Justice, and there is no response. Every one knows this. The point I wish to make is that the Government are setting up a Court to centralize all industrial troubles, and that those troubles will multiply as you give them facilities. That, after all, is human nature, and must be so till the end of time. The Government are going to overload this Court until it will not work at all. One Court can never overtake half the industrial ramifications of this great continent. They are becoming more complex every day, and can never be dealt with in a satisfactory manner by being centralized in the one Court. They are not being overtaken with satisfaction today. The Attorney-General tells us that the Court is already two years in arrears with its business.
– Because of the time spent in discussing legal technicalities.
– And there are going to be more legal technicalities in, connexion with this measure. This Bill will not remove the difficulties.
– If we carry our referendum proposals we shall remove them.
– The blessed referendum ! That blessed word “Mesopotamia” was never in it with the referendum. The referendum is to be a cure for all your ills. It is the Morrisonian pill over again. I am afraid that when honorable members opposite obtain this pill with its sugar coating, the trouble will only begin. I hope they will believe that there is nothing I would not do to bring about industrial peace. I cannot, however, see any hope of industrial peace in this legislation. This is the fifth attempt, the AttorneyGeneral tells us, I think, to make the original Act a workable one, and we are no nearer a solution of the difficulty than ever we were. The Court is two years in arrears with its work, and when honorable members opposite carry their referendum proposals, and give it everything to do it will be twenty -two years behind. I cannot understand what seems to me to be the fatuity of my honorable friends opposite in seeking to centralize in the one Court the industrial ramifications of this great Continent. They will rest there. The Attorney-Generaltalks about the devolution of functions, but, here again, human nature will assert itself. He knows as well as I do that while there is a final Court to be reached, both sides will insist upon going to it.
– The right honorable member’s scheme provided for a final Court, and for appeals to it.
– Yes; but our scheme was devoid of all these technicalities in regard to registration of organizations and as to things being, and purporting to be, that are not actually in existence. We proposed to sweep away all these technicalities and to go back to the old method of allowing the parties to a dispute to meet round a table and talk it over. I have never known a dispute - and I have had to do with as many as has any other honorable member, I think - that could not be settled satisfactorily in that way. The honorable member for South Sydney will say also that these disputes in the Newcastledistrict were settled more often by the parties themselves meeting round a table and talking them over than they are to-day. There was also much less contention there. As fast as these Acts have been multiplied, so have troubles risen and multiplied. They have multiplied, indeed, at a much faster rate than that at which the Court could deal with them. The Courts are too cumbrous as it is. There is too much of these technicalities and legalities. They are not Arbitration Courts, but Courts of litigation, and the Government are now going to cure all this trouble by giving the parties something more to discuss.
– We have nothing else to offer.
– Then write the whole system down as a failure.
– So far, owing to the High Court decisions, it has been a failure.
– Not one honorable member opposite who has had practical experience in the settlement of disputes believes in this legislation. Not one of them will say that this Bill is going to be effective. All that they say is that it is another attempt to secure industrial peace. The Attorney-General himself says that it is another patching up of the leaking, creaking, sinking, old ship in the hope that it may thus be towed into port.
– Why worry?
– I know of no subject which should make a man worry more than this. The course I am taking is not a popular one. It would be much easier for me to swim with honorable members opposite, and to say, “ I am in it with you.” But I cannot. My judgment is against it. I was one of the first to give the principle of arbitration a trial, and I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that it has multiplied and not settled disputes. For every one settled in this way, ten are bred. I have been amazed to hear one honorable member after another in the party opposite say that they are sick and tired of Courts of the kind to which this Bill relates. The honorable member for South Sydney, who has had as much experience, perhaps, as any of us, described all these things last week as “ musty, fusty technicalities.” The Attorney-General spoke of them as unnamable technicalities. Not one member of the party opposite has a good word to say for this legislation. All leave the way open. They know it is going to fail. The honorable member for South Sydney and the honorable member for Hunter, knowing that it is going to fail, speak accordingly.
-We are paving the way to the referendum.
– And when the Labour party get it, their trouble will only begin. They have a fairly welldefined constitutional course at the present time. The border line has been charted by the Court, and it is able to tell us approximately where we are.
– I thought that Mr. Deakin said that the Constitution Act was only a skeleton.
– I know nothing about skeletons, and the honorable gentleman, with his jocular rotundity, is not the one to discuss them. What are the facts about these Courts? All the legislation and clever brains that could be secured have been utilized in the construction of the Courts in New South Wales, and, after all, the Courts are admitted to be a failure. Mr. Holman is in despair to-day, and asking that the whole thing should be taken off his hands.
– He has said he is in favour of the Federal Parliament taking these matters over.
– Quite so.
– Somebody must do it.
– Does not the honorable member think it would be better to try something else after this failure all over Australia?
– Does the honorable member not know the causes of failure, if there has been a failure, in the Federal Court ?
– I am talking about the New South Wales Courts.
– The same thing applies there.
– In those Courts there is no question of jurisdiction, but complete power, and yet strikes are more numerous and more widespread than they are in the Federal arena. The mere granting of further jurisdiction is not necessarily going to settle the troubles which are multiplying in the States every day. In the Newcastle dis trict the Miners Association has been fined £2,000 after twenty-five years of industrial legislation. I challenge any gentleman representing the Newcastle district to contradict me when I say that the old voluntary Court, presided over in the old days by Mr. Justice Barton, and later by Mr. Jacob Gerrard and Mr. Brunker, did much better service there than any of the present Courts. The same thing happened in the district with which I was connected. We never had a strike there, because we used to settle all our difficulties over the table; and when I left the men had better wages and conditions than they have to-day.
– Why not try to bring about the same condition of affairs now?
– That is precisely what I am trying to do;- and I believe that in Wages Boards we have the nearest approach to success. As matters are at present, the door to success is 30 covered with the ivy of technicalities that it is impossible to get through. These disputes should be settled on the spot where they arise, and1 not thousands of miles away. What is the cause of all this trouble and expenditure of money? Witnesses have to be brought from allover Australia; and that in itself, in my judgment, almost amounts to a denial of justice. What is required is settlement on the spot, where the industries are in operation, and where the local conditions and surroundings can be thoroughly appreciated. In many cases the causes of the dispute are completely obliterated before cases can even be discussed in the Court; and the honorable member for Newcastle knows to what I am referring. In mining, disputes very often occur during the night-time-. A man may hit up against a band in- his seam, and require his price re-adjusted; and if he has to wait until he can get to one of the Courts, or until a Wages Board is set up by some Judge or other,, the whole matter is past and done with. If that be the case,, ho w on earth can we expect to do any better by a method of centralization? It seems to me that we are on the wrong track altogether. It is no comfort to me to say these things; and I know I shall only be adversely criticised, and, possibly, once more called all sorts of names. We have, however, to face the truth in these matters; and the truth is that the present is the costliest and most unsatisfactory method of settling disputes that could be devised by the mind of man. The money that is contributed to the unions in Australia represents big figures. It amounts I suppose, to £75,000 in one way or another; and most of it is spent in the Courts in the settlement of disputes.
– That is a strong argument for the referendum !
– Well, honorable members opposite are going to have the referendum again; and I want to say here and now - and I hope that this may be reported in Hansard, and quoted if the referendum becomes an accomplished fact - that it will, so- far from settling difficulties, create a fresh crop. Honorable members opposite are attempting the impossible in this respect.
– We shall be prepared to meet our troubles.
– There is a good time coming !
– Oh, I know; what does it matter to the poor wretches outside who have been waiting all these years ?
– They are all right!
– I know that they fling their hats up in the air.
– The argument of the honorable member is that if we simplify matters we make them worse.
– Honorable members opposite are certainly making matters infinitely more complex. Centralization is the greatest curse of this country in anything relating to the details of industries. Just as we cannot from- one centre govern the country from the large national point of view, so we cannot govern it industrially from one centre, and never will. I know the argument is - and no one can put it better than the Attorney-General - that there is to- be no attempt to do this, but that the Judge will only have the overlordship of the others. The idea is that the central Judge shall set all the other Judges to settle matters locally : but the AttorneyGeneral knows that they never will be settled locally - that where there is a Central Court, human nature will take care that, that Court is applied to.
– What the honorable member says applies to ordinary legislation; but we do not find all the people going to the High Court.
– Or to the Privy Council.
– Wonderful ! Honorable members opposite have the facts staring them straight in the face, and they know that the clamour is to get to the Central Court. That is what is causing all the trouble, because people are led to believe that once they get to that Court they will have reached the industrial haven.
– What we lead them to believe is that they will get justice there - that is all. They cannot -get it anywhere else.
– What is justice?
– Do you reckon you got it at the last election?
– I should like to tell the honorable member that he never heard any complaint from me about the result of the election, and he never shall. I am satisfied about the result of the election.
– So are we!,
– I believe you.
– I should have been just as satisfied if it had been the other way; but it was the will of God.
– Honorable members opposite are laughing at the Attorney-General for what he has said just now.
– Oh, they will laugh at anything. The honorable member invoked the Deity, and so did we; and we won.
– That is the test the honorable member always brings to bear- “ We won!”
– Will the honorable member confine himself to the question ?
– What are the facts to-day? The Attorney-General has quoted the figures given by Mr. Justice Higgins in reference to the Tramways case. Mr. Justice Higgins’ complaint is always that he is not arbitrating, but legislating and fixing conditions for the whole of the continent; that he is called upon to deal with questions that have nothing to do with arbitration, and ought not to find their way into- Court. His Honour told us that, in the Tramways case, eleven distinct tramway systems had to be inquired into and compared, that 291 exhibits were put in by the plaintiffs, and 396 by the respon dents, that there were 5,300 pages of transcript, and that the oases lasted altogether ninety-three days. That is what is called arbitration; and I guarantee that at the end of the ninety-three days the parties were anxious for nothing so much as to begin all over again. The trouble is that they cannot, because there are some technicalities barring the way. Now it is desired to have the referendum so that a fresh start may be made, and this, it seems to me, is the height of folly.
– The ninety-three days were all right; it was the twenty -three days that mattered.
– No doubt, it was all right for the honorable member, who would not have objected if the case had lasted 193 days.
– We lawyers are not allowed by the Act to appear in such cases.
– Then that must be the honorable member’s trouble. In the Court, wages and conditions are not discussed for one day out of seven, but the time is occupied in considering whether the registration is right, whether the rules are right, whether the registration is in accordance with the rules, or whether an association is properly constituted. That, I believe, was the fact in the Tramways case and the Sawmillers case.
– Who raised all those points ?
– The people to whom honorable members opposite, by their legislation, have given the right to raise them.
– How does the honorable member say those cases could have been settled ?
– I should say that if a meeting had been called and matters discussed across a table they could have been settled in about a week.
– That was suggested, but the other fellows would not answer letters or meet the men.
– Who are the “other fellows”?
– The employers.
– And why was that?
– Because it is their nature.
– Then all I can say is that their nature has changed since the honorable member has had to do with these matters. It was not their nature, nor was it difficult to get matters settled over a table, in the old days.
– In your time matters used to be settled over a table by the employers making the employes swallow anything that was given them.
– Do not believe any such stuff and nonsense. I tell the honorable member that they did not. The conditions then were better than they are to-day, and the conditions of the Newcastle district were as good as they are to-day.
– I know nothing of the Newcastle district.
– The honorable member does not know, and that is why he is so glib with his interjections.
– If you say the conditions were better twenty years ago than they are to-day, that is not true.
– I say it is true.
– The waterside workers used to get only half what they get today.
– Good luck to them.’ I do not want to take anything away from them.
– Twenty years ago, shearers were only getting15s. per 100, and today they are getting 24s.
– I would be glad if they could get 30s. a 100.
– And they are going to get it.
– I should like the workers to get all they can; but let them get it with less of this ill-feeling, and with a better relationship between the parties. They will not get it if they tear concessions out of each other across the floor of the Court in this way.
– The employers tore it out of us twenty years ago.
– I am sure that the honorable member looks as if he had been torn about very badly ! The facts are patent to anybody, and any person who gets the opinion into his head that if he can only concentrate everything in the Central Court, and if he can only get before Mr. Justice Higgins, that will get him out of his difficulties, is ignoring altogether what is taking place in the States. Mr. Justice Higgins, with even his limited jurisdiction, seems to be doing infinitely better, and is certainly giving more satisfaction to honorable members opposite, than the legal gentlemen in the State Courts, with their unlimited and allpowerful jurisdiction. Arguing on those lines, there does not seem to be much hope ahead for the settlement of industrial disputes, so far as the referendum goes.
– Do you suggest that Mr. Justice Higgins would not do better if there were fewer technicalities ?
– I think he would do infinitely better if there were fewer technicalities.
– What makes the technicalities ?
– What makes them in the State Courts?
– I know nothing about them.
– The honorable member must and does know something about them, and he must know that, even with the greater powers possessed by the State Courts, there are more technicalities than there are in the Federal Court. It is not a question of power at all, but of the framing of our legislative enactments. The Court in New South Wales has power enough, yet the men say they will have things differently. They even talk about another Labour party in the district of the honorable member for Barrier.
– That makes the honorable member smile.
– It makes me smile; but I would not like to see them get another Labour party which would displace my honorable friends opposite. I do not desire to see another Labour party arising, because I know that party would be even rougher on me than my honorable friends on the Government benches. However, no matter what the result may be to parties, we are all concerned with this great industrial question which is agitating the world, and is certainly agitating the whole of Australia at the present time, and I do not see where any hope will lie, either in the referendum or anywhere else, if honorable members will continue these Courts of Arbitration, which are really not Courts of Arbitration but Courts of litigation, because they are doing nothing else for three-fourths of their time but discussing rules, regulations, and registrations, and the relation of one industry to another.
I see no hope for this problem, but to divide up and localize the work. All these troubles arise out of local consequences. They do not arise out of the general causes of discontent that sweep the continent. The industrial troubles arise in a particular State in the light of local circumstances, and you cannot settle them by any system of broad generalization. That is the cause of all the troubles in the Newcastle district to-day. There are general rules operating throughout a district that is as varied as possible in the conditions and phenomena it presents, and, because there is not a Wages Board to settle these troubles when they arise, and because they must be taken to a general Court to be settled, they are not settled sufficiently swiftly to give satisfaction.
– The honorable member knows the Newcastle district pretty well. Cannot he think of one man who causes more trouble than all the other men and all the circumstances in that district?
– Will not the same man be there to cause these troubles when the referendum is agreed to?
– Yes, but he will not cause them.
– Let not the honorable member run away with any such silly notion. There are men as clever as my honorable friend.
– It is not a question of cleverness.
– What then? It is a question of framing legislation to deal with ordinary human nature.
– If that man were in Heaven there would be trouble there - not that he will go there.
– I do not know what man the honorable member refers to. Is it Mr. Brown ? I have met him, but the trouble even there, I think, is that that gentleman has a seam of coal which is not nearly so difficult to work as are many other seams.
– It is just the same as the others; there are no difficulties at all.
– The honorable member refers to the Maitland district. I suppose that would be so, but I am thinking of the older mines on the coast with which I was familiar. The honorable member for West Sydney is only emphasizing all I have been saying. He says that there is one man in that dis trict with so much deuced human nature about him that he makes more trouble than fifty others. How is the honorable member going to stop that man making trouble?
– I do not know.
– The honorable member never spoke a truer word. He does notknow where he is going, but he is going to get there. He is like the man who was asked what he was striking for, and replied, “ I do not know, but I will not give in till I get it.” I commend the honorable member for all his unwearied labours. I hope he realizes that I speak without a spark of bitterness towards himself or his party in this matter. Nothing would please me better than to see means brought about that would bring a little peace to this community; but I confess candidly that I do not see the slightest hope in any of the enactments that he is piling up. They will all multiply and increase the difficulties; they will not settle them. That cannot be. While men are given the right to test these matters, and to bring ali their ability, influence, and money to bear upon them, the disputes will be multiplied, and not settled. The only way to settle them is to divide and localize them, not to generalize them. What the honorable member is seeking through the referendum is to more than settle the disputes: he is going to settle the disputes by “settling” the continent. He is going to do no less than socialize this country.
-I ask the honorable member not to discuss the referendum.
– I am referring to it only in a very general way. Here are the facts: In 1912 there were in Australia 14,500 manufacturing industries; there were 312,000 hands employed, and £32,000,000 was paid in wages. I find that since the Federal Court was established in 1904 there have been only twenty-eight awards.
– And we have had nearly twenty-eight Acts in the same time.
– Because the Court has made twenty-eight awards in ten years, honorable members have arrived at the conclusion that they can control all industrial operations in the country, and fix them upon a basis of permanent peace.
– We have settled the disputes peacefully, and kept the men at work.
– Are there more than half the number of unionists working to-day with no grievance ? They may be working peacefully, but the great bulk of them are wanting another “ go “ at the Court for something.
– No, they are not. They are working peacefully without strikes.
– Of course; they are waiting hopefully for the referendum, so that they can get something more. They are waiting, but their hope is in the honorable member. Probably there would be strikes to-morrow if the men were not waiting for the referendum. And when my honorable friends opposite get the referenda carried, they will have more strikes than they have had in the past, because then they will have all the power they are seeking, and., in the States, where the Courts have complete power and jurisdiction, the disputes are multiplying, and are not settled. That is the position of affairs. This is a mere patching process that is going on by way of frequent legislation. The honorable member himself says that the Bill is the fifth attempt, and yet he does not know what is to become of the industrial ship. She is making heavy weather, and if he can only get her into port he will be very glad. But the Bill is only a patch to prevent her sinking out of sight. This confession is a pitiable one for the honorable member to make, even after fifteen years’ operation of the law in the Federal sphere. I shall not weary honorable members with any further remarks. Indeed, I think it would be useless to do so. To honorable members opposite my remarks go in at the one ear and out at the other. My chief object is to call attention to the criticisms that honorable members opposite have bestowed upon the proposals in the Bill. All those honorable members on the Ministerial side who have made speeches have said that they would rather do without the Arbitration Court as it is now carried on, and they have confessed that things are as unsatisfactory as they can possibly be for the working man. Not one of these honorable members but is getting ready to run away from the Arbitration Court and arbitration legislation, because honorable members know that it is destined to failure. I believe that in the end, and as a sequel, they will find that the muchdespised Wages Boards, upon which we have heard so much contumely poured, contain the germ of industrial peace and conciliation.
– I suppose the honorable member knows that a Wages Board has caused the present trouble in the Newcastle district.
– I do not know it. I venture to say that the cause of the trouble is that there are not enough Wages Boards in the district.
– There was no dissatisfaction on that score, because there was a Special Board appointed. The trouble was that the award was so ridiculous and unsatisfactory that it led to the present position.
– Is that the fault of the Board?
– It was the fault of the chairman of the Board; in other words, it is the fault of the system.
– The honorable member says that in this case it is the fault of the chairman, and then in another district we hear of another man causing trouble. The honorable member must recognise that we have to contend with human nature.
– Nevertheless, the fault lies with the Wages Board system.
– Certainly not. A foolish man may be appointed to a Wages Board just as a foolish man in an Arbitration Court may bring about infinite trouble. Human nature cannot be avoided. While human nature is what it is, we must do our best with it. Do not let us blame all our machinery because now and again some man who does not do what he ought to do makes a mess of things. Would the referendum stop that sort of thing and make all bad men good, all incompetent men competent, or all unfair men fair?
– Would Wages Boards do that ?
– No. The honorable member for Hunter claims that the trouble in the Newcastle district is due to an unfair award. He considers it unfair; that is, one side does.
– No ; both sides do. It is a silly award, if I may so describe it.
– From what I have heard of it I do not think it was a wise award. But the awards of our Arbitration Court are not always wise. The
Wages Board system as applied at Newcastle is the last thought upon this subject from the honorable member’s own party in New South Wales; it is the best they can do; and yet it has not settled their industrial troubles.
– And you still argue in favour of the Wages Board system.
– I do. Nothing that the honorable member has said in reference to the Newcastle trouble has proved anything against the Wages Board machinery. As the honorable member has said, the Judge gave a wrong award.
– The High Court also gives wrong awards.
– I do not believe that the Bill will do a scrap of good. I believe that my friends opposite know this.
– I do not think that the honorable member should say that.
– I do say it, and I take the honorable member’s own language for it, and the language of other honorable members who have had a very wide practical experience in industrial matters. Not one of them believes that this Bill is going to do any good. The honorable member himself calls it a patch, and says that the “ ship “ is water-logged. He says that ib cannot get along without the patch. Apparently, the “ ship “ was water-logged when it was supposed to have full and complete jurisdiction, and now it is water-logged when it is discovered that it has not that power.
– It was not waterlogged where it had the power; it was being driven in the wrong direction.
– If the honorable member knows the direction in which this ship should be driven, he is the man for the job. But he knows very well that, even in Government Departments, peace cannot be maintained. Ministers cannot keep peace in their own works, to say nothing of all the ramifications outside. There is now a strike at Cockatoo Island.
– The strike is off.
– Yes; settled, I suppose, in a summary way. I wonder what would have happened had Senator Millen stopped it in the same way ? Honorable members would have been “ on to him like a ton of bricks.” It is mar vellous what they can do with their own men.
– Senator Millen would have shut the dock if he could have had his way.
– That is another of the rash, untruthful statements the honorable member is always making. He seems to think that it is his mission in life to make rash statements which he should know are not correct. No man sought to encourage that dock more than Senator Millen did.
– He went about it in a funny way.
– He did not do what Senator Pearce is now doing by summarily suppressing this strike.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– I am talking about industrial peace. I do not agree with some of the things the AttorneyGeneral said last night, but time will not permit me to deal with them. However, one thing more than anything else I know of at the present time is likely to give us industrial peace, and that is the holding of a secret ballot before any trouble occurs. It is of no use blinking our eyes to the fact that many strikes are manufactured. On the East-West railway construction trouble was settled the moment there was a secret ballot taken. The wages and conditions were good, and the men had nothing to strike about, but one or two individuals kept them out on strike for the whole of the time, and would not allow a ballot to be taken. But the moment that the men had the opportunity to take a secret ballot, they voted by two to one to return to work. In my judgment, there are many similar cases occurring to-day. If men could only decide in their own deliberate and calm way about matters in dispute, I have an abundant and abiding faith in their calm sense. I know that, if they could express their views in a secret manner before trouble actually came to the surface, there would be a great deal more industrial peace than we have to-day. However, I cannot argue that question. I must leave the matter where it is. This Bill will do no good from the point of view of industrial peace. Instead, it will start another crop of litigants. My honorable friends opposite are pulling up the present pegs in the Arbitration Court, and they have to lay down others in place of them. Until they do that, litigation will continue. In doing away with one difficulty, they are creating a number of others. That is not the way in which to bring about industrial peace, but rather industrial litigation, and out of industrial litigation, I venture to say, the working man will get but small satisfaction.
– I intend to occupy the time of honorable members for only a very few minutes. Between the war and the dreadful avalanche of pessimism which the Leader of the Opposition has launched upon the House to-night, I feel frightfully depressed, and quite unequal to the task before me. I never saw a man so. pessimistic who looked so cheerful as did my honorable friend. His face was wreathed in smiles while he told us that there was no industrial way of salvation open to us. The only gleam of hope that I was able to gather from his remarks was that, given certain conditions, a settlement of disputes across the table was a brilliant project. This, unfortunately, is a proposal neither novel nor brilliant. “ Here is the table, and here are we.” I have seen disputes across this table, instead of proceeding towards a settlement, too often fanned to still fiercer flames, and only ultimately suppressed by the application of brute force, exhaustion of physical effort, or effluxion of time. I have had some experience in this House, and outside of it, of endeavouring to settle disputes across a table. All I can say in that connexion is that you can settle a dispute across a table if it does not amount to much, but you cannot settle it if it does. Settlement in such cases is possible only by an appeal to some tribunal outside the parties. The Leader of the Opposition has said that this Court is not an Arbitration Court, but a Court of litigation. My answer is that it is the best Court that we can create with our limited powers. He says the Court has done nothing. I
Bay that it has done a great deal. I affirm deliberately that it has prevented industrial strife of a wide-spread character. To my own certain knowledge, in my own organization, industrial strife would have been as certain as anything on this earth can be but for the’ existence of this Court - a Court of competent jurisdiction which afforded an opportunity for a just settle- ment being arrived at. It is perfectly true that, by reason of human nature being what it is, we cannot hope that any Court will give complete satisfaction to both parties. We must recollect that parties to industrial disputes have widely divergent interests, and that, therefore, to lament that better relations do not exist between employer and employe” is to misunderstand completely the factors of the problem. There cannot be a better understanding between persons whose interests are widely divergent. Why does not the honorable member talk about a better understanding between France and Germany f The better understanding will come when one party is no longer able to resist the desires of the other, and not before. The only alternative is some tribunal to which both parties must resort, and by whose award they must abide. That is ‘ the Arbitration Court; but the decisions of the Court will never be completely- satisfactory to both parties. One of the main reasons why it has not been as successful as it might have been - though it has done excellent work - is that many employers in this country have never permitted any organization to enjoy an award given fairly by it after careful and meticulous investigation, if, by an appeal upon technical points, or upon some matter dealing with form rather than substance, they could upset the award. This Court performs a great work. .It maintains industrial peace; and, in comparison with the work performed by other Courts, it is of more value to the community than all the rest of them put together. The Leader of the Opposition, as a sort of setoff to his lamentations on the failure of the Court, affirmed his willingness to do anything in bis power to make it better. But his efforts are confined to talk. He does not do anything to make it better. He talks about Wages Boards, but he knows perfectly well that an appeal may be made from the determination of those Boards in this State. He says that that ought not to be. But he knows that it is the concomitant of - all Wages Board systems. It ia perfectly true that if we had wider powers we could establish subordinate Courts in that way, we could deal with matters more expeditiously and economically. But, until we get these wider powers, we can only hope to amend the law so that the Court may continue to exercise such functions as it possesses. I regret that I am unable to follow altogether the points raised by the honorable member for Darling Downs. In my opinion, clause 13 does not lessen the powers of the Court under section 60 in regard to an application for cancellation of registration. The Court will have the same powers that it always had. It may, under
Bub-section a, cancel the registration of an organization for any reason that it thinks fit.
– Can it question the registration at all, under section 60?
– Certainly. The honorable member asks for a public notification of the intention to change the constitution and description of an industry in order that other organizations and parties may be afforded an opportunity of being heard. I shall not attempt to make that alteration in the Act, but I will suggest to the Registrar the propriety of providing in the regulations for it. As to section 3, I have dealt with that in another place. In my opinion, all that the Bill represents is an endeavour to make the Act work more satisfactorily; and I trust, therefore, that the House will agree to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19141126_reps_6_75/>.