7th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 12th July, the honorable member for Dampier asked me how many members of the Permanent Defence Force had gone to the Front, and how many had remained at home. I am informed that 1,657 men have gone -to the Front, and 1,226 have remained at home. This includes the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery and the Royal Australian Engineers, who are manning the forts in Australia, and all members of the Permanent Military Forces employed in Australia. Arrangements have been made for a further number to embark for service abroad very shortly.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that hides are being stored up in Queensland and other States, and that this has had the effect of enormously increasing the price of leather and of boots? Is he aware, too, that a large quantity of pelts is being put down in Victoria ? Will he make an investigation into the whole subject, with a view .to providing sufficient material for the manufacture of leather goods in Australia?
– I shall be pleased to comply with the request contained in the latter part of the question.
– Has the Assistant Minister for Defence further considered the suggestion that country soldiers in camp should he given periods of special leave?
– Atthe honorable member’s request, I promised to ask the Minister to consider the matter, and the following order will now be issued:-
Cases have come under notice of A.I.F. men in camp in Australia, whose homes are in the country districts, and who sometimes find that their business or family affairs necessitate their return for a few days.
In such cases, the application should at once come before the Camp Commandant, who should, if the circumstances justify, grant such special leave, preferably at the week-end.
– Last night the Minister for Home and Territories suggested that I. had no facts to justify my statement that there had been manipulation of the overseas soldiers’ votes. The facts at my disposal are those at the disposal of the general public I have taken figures from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 5th June, to which I draw the attention of the Minister in justification of my statement. Perth was credited with 3,119 oversea votes, Brisbane with2,885, Fawkner with 2,626.
– Is this a personal explanation?
– I was about to draw the attention of the honorable member for Brisbane to the fact that he was going beyond what is allowed in a personal explanation, wherein reference may be made only to statements regarding which an honorable member has been misrepresented, or misreported, or misunderstood, it not being permissible to bring forward new facts in making such a statement. Mr. FINLAYSON. - The Minister said I had no facts to justify my statement, and I wish now to submit facts.
– The honorable member is replying to the statement of the Minister, and is introducing new facts. That is not in order.
– Iaccept the ruling, and shall bring the matter forward on an adjournment motion. Mr. GLYNN.- I do not think that the honorable member for Brisbane is correct in saying that I stated that he had no facts. I think that my statement was that I knew of no facts which would justify what he had said. Of course, I could not know what was in his mind.
– Yesterday, the hon orable member for Capricornia read a telegram about future shipping movements. In regard to it I have received the following telegram: -
No intimation that parcels for soldiers would be refused after two more mails made by local officers, this Department. Mr. Archer, of Gracemere, called, and stated Bed Cross had informed him that information had been received from some southern city that such parcels were to be refused. He was informed that no such instructions had been received by this office.
Evidently there was no truth in the statement of the honorable member for Capricornia, though, because of information obtained from my officers regarding the dislocation of the shipping, I cannot promise that there will not be delays very shortly.
The following paper was presented: -
Quartermaster-Sergeant Ozanne - Papers connected with Discharge from the Australian Imperial Force.
– Will the Defence Department so arrange that men may do their training in the States in which they enlist, and thus prevent great inconvenience to their wives and families?
– I feel sure that the principle suggested must be operating, and that men are taken away from their States only under special circumstances. I shall, however, make further representation to the Minister for Defence in connexion with the matter.
– I shouldlike to know whether the Government are yet in a position to make available for the perusal of honorable members the papers in connexion with the Komine incident at Rabaul, to which I referred a week or so ago?
– The honorable member mentioned this matter to me, and I have asked that inquiries shall be made. To that end steps are now being taken.
Revenue and Expenditure
– Has the Minister for Works and Railways yet obtained the return of the revenue and expenditure on the east-west railway, asked for two or three weeks ago?
– I have inquired from the Department whether the return is ready, and I am told that in consequence of difficulties with the mails it “will not he available for a fortnight.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs resume the issue of the monthly returns giving the quantity of foodstuffs held in the cool stores of Australia ?
– The issue of the monthly return of all the foodstuffs in the cool stores of Australia was for the information of the Price Fixing Board, but I can see no harm in complying with the honorable member’s request.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Land Alienation: Forestry Leases
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– No land is being alienated in Papua. If the honorable member will turn to the Papua Act No. 9 of 1905, section 20, he will see that grants of freehold are prohibited. Land is leased for various terms up to ninety-nine years, according to the provisions of the Papuan Land Ordinances.
Mr. WEST (for Mr. Blakeley) asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
To whom were such leases granted ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The following table gives some particulars. Names of the licence holders are not available without reference to the Territory: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Land fob Soldiers.
MrT WEST asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether his attention has been drawn to a paragraph in the Melbourne Age newspaper in which Mr. A. K. Trethowan, M.L.C., the President of the Farmers and Settlers’ Conference, is alleged to have stated that he knew of a large area of land purchased for closer settlement, which was not suitable for the purpose, and that if returned soldiers were placed on some of it “ they were going to have a harder battle all their lives than they were having to-day in France “ ?
Will the Prime Minister cause inquiries to be made into this matter, and, if the statement is correct, take such action as will protect returned soldiers and prevent them being placed on unsuitable land?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library the minutes of meetings and reports of the Executive Committee and the Advisory Council for Science and Industry, and all other reports and communications forwarded to his Department in connexion with the proposals to establish a National Laboratory?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he prepare and furnish a return showing
the total amount of fees paid for at tendance at committee meetings and travelling and hotel expenses to each individual member of the Executive Committee of the Advisory Council for Science and Industry up to 30th June, 1917;
the total number of members on the committee, and whether any of them are provided with house and quarters rent free?
– A return is now being prepared.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of his statement (a) that cattle will have to be kept on the hoof; (b) that butter, cheese, and bacon are fifth down the scale for shipment; (c) that no provision could be made for the export of the surplus maize crop - will the Government make provision for cold storage and financial assistance to the dairying industry, seeing this has been done for other primary industries, and especially as there are thousands of farmers in the Commonweal th who are solely dependent upon dairying as a source of revenue?
– The Government has taken action which it is hoped will assist the dairy producers to cope with shortage of freight to their usual oversea markets.
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he take into early consideration the advisability of utilizing the largest steam-ships trading on our coast for the purpose of shipping food supplies to Great Britain and her Allies, seeing that the following is a list of some of the ships available and their tonnage: - Indarra, 9,760; Katoomba, 9,500; Levuka, 6,500; Canberra, 7,700; Wyreema, 6,500; Wy- andra 4,500; Bombala, 3,500; Cooma, 3,500; Dimboola, 5,000 ; Zealandia, 6,600?
– This question has been, and is still receiving very careful consideration. Many costal steamers have already been utilized for this purpose.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Is it correct that the ships Aeneas and Nestor left Melbourne on or about 4th April last practically empty. If so, why?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No. TheNestor left Melbourne with the whole of her available cargo space full. The Aeneas was well filled on her departure from Melbourne, and completed loading at another Australian port.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to offer a reward, with a view of bringing to justice those persons who may be implicated in the sinking of the steam-ship Cumberland off our coast?
– The State Government of New South Wales has offered a large reward, and it is understood that the owners of the vessel have also done so.The Commonwealth is taking action with a view of discovering and bringing to justice the persons implicated in the outrage.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Queensland, 73; £1,471 2s. 8d.
New South Wales, 519; £9,773 4s. l0d.
Victoria, 83; £283 18s. l1d.
South Australia, 11; £207 13s.1d. Western Australia, 21; £359 5s. l0d.
Tasmania, 20; £217.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Theanswers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are asfollow: -
Number at Front.
– On the 12th instant, the honorable member for Dampier asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following questions: -
The following replies have now been received : - ‘
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable the Bills referred to in the suspension of Standing Orders motion of yesterday to be passed through all their remaining stages without delay.
– I have assured myself that there is an absolute majority of members present.
– I move -
That on each sitting day, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of general business.
I need hardly point out the necessity for such a procedure. The business of the country must be proceeded with without delay. I do not say that private members’ business is not to receive consideration, because some of the most illuminating and interesting discussions to which it lias ever been my lot to listen have been introduced in that way; but the proper place for those discussions is at the latter end of the session, when, oppressed by our many and great labours, they come as a sort of joyful gleam and promise of brighter things ahead.- It is proposed to leave for that purpose such time as may be available at the end of the session.
.- The Prime Minister has given us most unusual reasons for submitting this motion. Had he simply contented himself by moving the motion, and stating that the Government desired it to be carried, it would have been all right, but he has absolutely reversed every reason previously given in regard to making arrangements for the discussion of private members’ business. We generally discuss private members’ business at the beginning of a session, because we are so busy at the end of a session that there is no opportunity to deal with it.
– We shall be busy now.
– I am anxious to see the Government get busy. I do not oppose the motion, but I cannot help feeling sorry for private members who have notices of motion on the business-paper.
– I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister say that there, was not much in private members’ business.
– I said the very opposite.
– It was the purport of what the right honorable gentleman said. I wish to point out that one of the greatest benefits ever conferred on Australia, namely, compulsory training, was brought about by a motion submitted by a private member, and that private member was the right honorable gentleman himself.
.- I object to the motion. Particularly after the assembling of a new Parliament, private members have a claim to bring before the House business which is of importance to their own electorates, and perhaps of equal importance to the country. While I appreciate the fact that it is necessary for the Government to get their programme on the statute-book as speedily as possible, and that it is necessary for Ministers to devote as much time as possible to administrative work, I cannot help feeling that it is not asking the Government too much to ask them to allot one day in every three weeks to private members who may wish to ventilate any special grievance worthy of a notice of motion, or to bring forward business of importance to the country.
– - Is the honorable member aware that there is a grievance day every three weeks?
– I am not referring particularly to grievances. The right honorable gentleman knows that the whole of the business of this country does no* necessarily rest with the Government. If opportunity is given to private members to bring forward business, it will prove to be beneficial, not only to the Government, but also to the country. There is a matter to which I wish to devote some little time in the House before it rises. It is a matter of vital importance to the workers of the country, and is deserving of more than passing notice. I refer to the question of social insurance. Speaking from my experience of the Legislative Assembly iu Western Australia, rather than see honorable members’ privileges curtailed by their not being allowed a certain time in each month for the discussion of private members’ business, I would prefer to see that standing order which enables every honorable member to discuss on tine motion for the adjournment of the House every question under the sun wiped out, and,, instead, allow honorable members the opportunity of moving definite and concrete motions which can be discussed on private members’ day in a more intelligent way than is possible under the present system. In the Legislative Assembly in Western Australia, honorable members were allowed one day in each fortnight f.rom the time at which the House met until 8 o’clock in the evening, after which it rested with the House itself to say whether private members’ business should continue or whether Government business should be discussed. We always found that sessional order an excellent one. It obviated a loti of endless discussion, and it was beneficial to honorable members generally, and very often to the Ministry.
– I trust: that the desire of the Prime Minister will be carried out. Right through the elections the cry was that this Parliament was to be brought together to win the war and look after the interests «f the people. Therefore, we should go on with legislation with the object of winning the war. Unless Government supporters go on strike, the whole of the business the Government propose with the object of winning the war should be dealt with in three weeks, and the balance of the time can be devoted to private members’ business. I am surprised aft any one who supports the Government objecting to Ministers going on with the work of the country, and 1 hope that the Prime Minister will insist on his motion being carried. I «an assure the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that so far as the Opposition are concerned, all the business the Government intend to do will be dealt with very speedily.
.- The House is under a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for the rebuke that he has administered iri advance to the less prominent members of hia party who are sitting on the front Opposition bench; but while cordially indorsing every word he has uttered with reference to the importance of pressing ahead with public business, I would like also to congratulate him on the candour, quite unexpected from his side of the House, with which he drew attention to the difference he himself draws between “winning the war” and “looking after the interests of the people.”
.- This is nob an unusual motion, but it) is certainly unusual for it to be moved at suich a time, and as I have protested on previous occasions against the curtailment of privileges and opportunities of honorable members, I must also protest emphatically on this occasion. I promise the Government; every possible assistance towards carrying their win-the-war policy. In fact, members of the Opposition are more anxious to get on with that policy than even the Government appear to be, for, although the House has been in session for some time, there is as yet no proposal before us which has any direct reference to winning the war or to the policy of the Ministry. What are the opportunities possessed by private members ? Any little privileges we have had as individuals are being gradually curtailed until we simply become items or atoms. When the junta has spoken, honorable members have simply to do and say what they are told to do or say. They are only allowed to speak by permission. They are not allowed to bring forward any business unless they have permission to do so. During the recent elections the people of the country were told that members of the Labour party were left no initiative, freedom, or liberty; but I ask, What liberty have honorable members now? They have none. Not a single shred of liberty is left to them to-day when the junta or an autocratI do not know which - has spoken. May I ask the Deputy Leader of the Government whether this proposal is made by the Ministry or merely by the Prime Minister ?
– What would the honorable member like me to say?
– I should preferthe right honorable gentleman’s answer to be against the point I wish to. make. Hitherto private members have been allowed four hours per week to discuss business submitted by them, and even that time has been reduced by the period devoted to the answering of questions and to formal business.
– I believe the honorable member voted for the first proposal in this House to do away with the time allowed to private members’ business.
– No; I have always opposed such a proposition.
– Then the “ junta “ first proposed it.
– The records will show that even when Mr. Fisher proposed to do away with the time allowed for private members’ business I objected. I am one of those who think, no doubt foolishly, that they have some original ideas worthy the consideration of the House.
– What illusions people have !
– I have admitted my foolishness. We are told that the wisdom’ of the wise is foolishness, and the wisdom of the House is not concentrated in the Cabinet any more than the wisdom of the country is concentrated in the Parliament. There are set down for consideration to-day, under the names of private members, motions which are as important to the country and to the winthewar policy as are any that the Government have to bring forward. They are certainly far more important than any business which the Government have yet submitted. I have on the notice-paper a proposition directly associated with the war, which is due for consideration today, and if the Government were alive to the necessity of winning the war, they would be glad to have that question discussed. My notice of motion deals with the question of why so many men who volunteer for active service are rejected. There is something wrong in Australia when so many men of military age ‘are held to be unfit for military service.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing, at this stage, the subject of a notice of motion on the business-paper.
– How is it possible to make sure that the views of private members will not be helpful in win-‘ ning the war?
– My honorable colleague, who represents the Minister for Defence in this House, would be glad to have a letter from the honorable member on the subject.
– But he may not be so ready to replY. I am opposed to this motion. The Prime Minister has suggested that private members’ business might stand over until the end of the session. Will he or one of his understudies - the Treasurer or. the Minister for the Navy - promise that, after Government business has been dealt with, they will allow Parliament to continue in session, so that business standing in the names of private members may be brought forward?
– -As soon as we have dealt with the business, we aTe going out recruiting.
– It is about time. Is the Minister speaking for himself, or for the whole of the Ministerial party?
– For the honorable member.
– The suggestion comes too late. I have already been there.
– But have not remained.
– I have remained in the recruiting movement all along, and I hope the Minister will keep his supporters up to the idea that they should go out recruiting. Although honorable members belong to two different parties they are here first of all as individual representatives, with responsibilities as individuals, and if they are not afforded opportunities to deal with private members’ business, then their individual responsibilities are taken from them. They become mere links in the chain, and are of very little use. We might as well record our votes, and return to our homes, leaving the Government to carry on the business of the country automatically,- and free from any criticism. I hope that the Government will extend to private members’ business more consideration than is shown in this motion.
.- The Government were elected on a number of political war cries,, and. one of them was that of “Freedom from the shackles of the parties.” They declared that members were tied to their parties and did not enjoy sufficient individual freedom. Here, however, Ave have a proposal on the part of the Government to take away from private members, no matter on what side of the House they may sit, any opportunity for bringing business before the Parliament.
The Government and their supporters have said that they favour proportional representation; that, in some of the constituencies, because of the operation of the mass vote, there is no representation of minorities. This very proposal’ which we are considering, however, shows that they do not desire to give minorities any representation whatever. Having a majority behind them they intend to suppress any business which the minority representation of the people might bring before the National Parliament. Honorable members on this side of the House represent over a million of the electors who recorded their votes at the. recent elections, and we have here an indication of the intention of the Government that those million voters and more shall not be allowed, through their representatives, to submit one item 6f business to the House. And this is the Government which waved the flag when before the electors, and talked largely about freedom. What they desire is not the freedom, but the suppression, of the individual. Then again the Government and their supporters had much to say during the recent campaign about the existence of a junta. What is their own position? There is, first of all, the Prime Minister, who occupies a position of exceptional power. He meets his Cabinet, which is in itself a little junta, and it imposes its will upon the party with which it is associated. That was demonstrated by the protest made this afternoon by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who complained that his liberty was being taken from him. Such a complaint shows that the party were not consulted before, this proposal was brought forward. It shows that the little junta of Ministers is imposing its will on its party, and that the party so manipulated is imposing, not its own will, but the will of the little junta of Cabinet Ministers upon a House of seventy-five members. Whilst the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was protesting that he had no chance of submitting a motion that he wished to move, the Minister for the Navy interjected, “You will have a chance on every third Thursday.” That was a misrepresentation of the position.
– I said no such thing.
– The right honorable member knows perfectly well that, although on each third Thursday grievances may be brought forward, notices of motion standing in the names of private- members cannot be moved in the ordinary way. This is a proposal to prevent any private member, no matter on which side of the House he may sit, from submitting any business to the Parliament. We have been told by the Prime Minister that, when the session is ended - in other words, when honorable members are tired and anxious to get away - an opportunity will be given for the discussion of private members’ business. I remember such ‘an arrangement being made when Mr. Deakin was Prime Minister. It simply means that, on the last day of the session, there will be twenty or thirty notices of motion on the business-paper, and that they can only be disposed of provided those responsible for them will agree to a vote being taken without any discussion. It is the intention of the Government to prevent business of this kind from being dealt with by Parliament. The Win-the-war Government cannot have very much business to put before Parliament. If it had, it would not have moved the motion now under discussion, because, unless a definite motion is made providing time for the consideration of private members’ business, no opportunity is open to honorable members for the bringing forward of such business. Seven or eight members of this House of seventy-five members have positions in the Cabinet, and they desire that none but themselves shall be permitted to bring forward proposals to help the country in the present crisis. The motion reveals the weakness of the Government.
It shows that Ministers are afraid to deal with on their merits the questions which have already been set down on the noticepaper in the names of private members. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie wishes to move for a return showing the cost of recruiting, but, although he is a Ministerial supporter, the Government is determined to gag that motion. The honorable member for Newcastle wishes to bring forward an ‘ important proposal affecting old-age pensioners, and that too is to be gagged. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, another Ministerialist, desires the summoning of a Convention to deal with the Constitution.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the various notices on the business paper.
– I am not discussing them; I am merely calling attention to them as embodying questions the discussion of which the Government wishes to stifle.
– The honorable member will be in order in making a general reference to them, but not in dealing with them in detail.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has a proposal regarding the liquor traffic; ‘that is to be gagged, and so, too, is another proposal by him relating to nursing, first aid, and so ‘forth. The honorable member for Melbourne desires a discussion on proposals’ concerning Australia’s cost of the war, but the Government has moved a motion to gag that discussion.
– The honorable member said a moment ago that even without this motion there would be no opportunity of bringing forward private members’ business. He says that private members are gagged already, and then complains that we are going to gag them.
– It has been cus1tomary for the Prime Minister, at the beginning of a session, to move for the allotment of certain hours for the consideration of private members’ business, but this Government,’ instead of doing that, has brought forward a proposal that is negative in character, to prevent the discussion of private members’ business. The honorable member for Echuca has on the business paper a notice of motion for the further encouragement of production ; that is to be gagged, together with another proposal of the same honorable member regarding Germans and other enemy aliens. Apparently, it is inconvenient to the Government to allow these matters to be discussed. The honorable member for Brisbane has given notice of motion to alter the provisions of the Defence Act applying to trainees, %nd the honorable member for Wilmot wishes to move for Commonwealth control of produce passing from State to State. Then there are two motions in my name, one proposing that the Commonwealth shall pay to the wheat pool the estimated damage sustained by wheat after it has been received in good order and condition by authorized Government agents, and the other proposal that farmers should, upon the delivery of their wheat to the Government agents, be paid in full the net amount guaranteed by the Commonwealth, so that they will not have to get their certificates discounted by the Jew financiers of this country.
– Has the honorable member any more instances to illustrate the vicious attitude of the Government?
– I was sent here to act on behalf of my constituents.
– Is that why the honorable member went to Canada 1
– I have not to ask the honorable member where I shall go. The honorable member had a trip to London at 1 the public expense, but I went away at my own expense.
– The statement that I had a trip to London at the public expense is incorrect, and I ask that it be ‘withdrawn. ‘
– The language used is not unparliamentary. The honorable member for Grey will have an opportunity of making a personal explanation if he has been misrepresented.
– If the honorable member for Grey says that the statement that he went to, London with a parliamentary party at the public expense is distasteful to him-
– I did not go with a parliamentary party; I went at my own expense.
– In that case, I spoke under a misapprehension.
– The’ honorable member knew all about the matter.
– I did not. I was under the impression that the honorable member was one of the parliamentary party that went.
.- I compliment the Government on having brought forward this motion. I have always looked on the setting apart of time for the consideration of private members’ business as a waste of time. Private members’ motions are, for the most part, mere window dressing, to play up to the constituencies, and I hope that every Government will refuse to set apart days specially for private members’ business. Were I a member of the Ministerial party, I would bring forward in the party meeting any matters that I wished to discuss, and urge the Government to deal with them. It is moonshine to suppose that a private member could pass a measure providing for an insurance system, for example. It is my desire to assist the Government in passing its measures as quickly as possible. Although I won my seat by a very large majority as an opponent of the Government, I yield to no man in the desire to win the war, and will support any measure brought forward to that end. I am sure that that is the position of most of us on this side. We say to’ the Government, “ Go on with your work, and we shall put no obstacles in your way.” I welcome the suspension of all other business with a view to the consideration of war matters, and shall be only too delighted to assist in bringing that about.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir John FORREST) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend sections 4 and 22 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-16.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the imposition, assessment, and collection of a tax upon profits.
Bil] presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Naturalization Act 1903.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the construction and management of Commonwealth railways.
Debate resumed from 18th July (vide page 235), on motion by Mr.- Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I had expected that, as the present is a “ Winthewar “ Ministry, they would have proceeded with the Wheat Storage Bill, which they have informed us they consider the most important of their measures. However, I am not averse to considering the Unlawful- Associations Bill at this stage; but I should like to hear from the Minister in charge what the reason is for the proposed amendment’ of the original Act - where that Act, which we passed before Christmas, is not effective enough. That measure was passed, I presume, with the assent of all honorable members for the purpose of dealing with the Industrial Workers of the World, or any other association which by its “ constitution or propaganda advovates or encourages, or incites or instigates, to the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property.” By means of this Bill we are asked to hand over to the Government, through the GovernorGeneral - who is, of course, merely the mouthpiece of the Government - the power to practically declare that any organization in the country,, including any hand fide trade union, may come under this ‘ Bill: The Amalgamated Society of Engineers is, perhaps, the most conservative trade organization in Australia: and it is well known, as shown by the Conference recently called by the Prime Minister on shipbuilding, that that society, and also the Boilermakers’ and Steel and Iron Shipbuilders Association of New South Wales, are opposed to piecework in connexion with their trade. I take it that, if the Government, through .the Governor-General, were so inclined, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers,- and these other societies, could be brought within the operation of the measure now before us without any intimation to Parliament, and honorable members would learn the facts only after the Gazette notice appeared. We are told that shipbuilding is absolutely necessary in order that our harvest may be taken overseas; that is the reason - apart, of course from the desire to have such an industry in our midst - foi- seeking to establish shipbuilding. The longer our surplus harvest remains in Australia the more deterioration there will be; and if the Amalgamated Society of Engineers said that they would not work on the construction of ships if they were built on piece-work, or if halfadozen of the 80,000 members of the Australian Workers Union, decided that they would not work at some place in connexion with wheat, ‘they might be declared unlawful, although the executive in the latter case were opposed to the action taken. If such an association is declared unlawful, then its property may be seized, and any man who contributes to its funds may be sent to gaol for six months. When the original Bill was before us before Christmas, I showed that the Industrial Workers of the World were bitterly opposed to the Labour party, > even more opposed to that party than to honorable members opposite. The members of this organization are the true individualists in the community, and occupy the place formerly occupied by the anarchists. Today, however, the anarchists are to be found amongst honorable member’s opposite, who are all for individualistic effort. We have only to read the history of strikes in. the United States of America to find that the Industrial Workers of the World have ever played the part of strike breakers. We are told that some measure is necessary in order to prevent these men contributing to a fund for the purpose of supporting the wives and families of those of their members who have been sent to’ gaol. But, when men are sent to gaol, are their wives and families to starve? That, apparently, was the idea of the Prime Minister yesterday, but it is a position to which I cannot at all agree. I am in favour of punishing men for their misdeeds, but I am certainly not in favour of sending a man or members of an organization to gaol before conviction. This Bill removes the opportunity that a man ought to have to go to Court and prove his innocence. This is evident by the drag-net provision, 3c, which declares that an unlawful association is -
Any association which the Governor-General, by notice published in the Gazette, declares in his opinion to be an unlawful association within the meaning of the last preceding paragraph.
The last preceding paragraph provides that an unlawful association is -
Any association which, by its constitution or propaganda, advocates or encourages, or incites or instigates to the taking or endangering- of human life, or the destruction , or injury of property.
If a man takes part in an industrial dispute, in the course of which, for instance, one bushel of the millions of tons of wheat now lying in Australia is damaged or ruined, he will be liable under this Bill. We are told by the honorable member for Wimmera that, owing to the efforts of “walking delegates,” there were strikes which prevented the wheat being shipped away; and under the Bill the Australian -Workers Union could, in consequence, be declared an unlawful association. Then, as I have said, there “is the further clause empowering the seizure of property of any kind belonging to such an association. Honorable members on this side of the House are quite willing to give the Government every assistance to deal with the Industrial Workers of the World, but we certainly object to the Government putting up bogies. There is no doubt that the Industrial Workers of the World were used as a bogy during the general election.
– Do you think it is a bogy?
– If it is not, .why have only one or two men been arrested during’ the six or seven months of the operation of the original Act? I am sorry that the Prime Minister is’ not present, because, during the election at Bendigo, when the Victorian Railways Union sent up a representative, Mr. Hickey, to help the Labour candidate, he produced a sworn affidavit to the effect, according to the Argus, that two unknown persons had heard Mr. Hickey say that he was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. This union was quite justified in sending up a man to assist in the election, for it is well known that honorable members opposite have their paid convassers by the thousand throughout Australia, and that hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent in the Commonwealth in aid of their campaign.
– Why does the honorable member wish to defend these members of the Industrial Workers of the World?
– I am not defending the members of that organization, but I am defending an innocent man.
– Then move some amendment.
– At the proper time I shall move an amendment in the Bill providing that no bond fide trade union shall be dealt with by the Governor-General unless we, in Parliament, have an opportunity to consider the matter.
– May I suggest that you are mis-stating the position ?
– I am not. I believe that bond fide trade unions can be brought within the operation of the Sill.
– Only if they do those things already provided for.
– Then the Government are asking for power to do that which they already have power to do under -the present Act ? I honestly believe that the Government, through the Prime Minister and the Governor-General, would declare that because the Amalgamated Society of Engineers is not favorable to piece-work in connexion with the construction of the vessels which the Government propose to build in Australia, they are injuring property by preventing commodities being sent overseas.
– The offences mentioned in the Bill are the endangering of human life and the destruction of property. “Mr. TUDOR. - The Government might argue that the engineers would be injuring property, because, if their actions prevented products being sent away, they might suffer damage.
– We can do all that now.
– If the Government can do that now, wherein lies the necessity for this Bill?
– First of all you said it was a terrible Bill, and now you say it is not necessary.
– The Bill provides that’ the Governor-General may, by notice published in the Gazette, bring under the ban of this measure any association whatever. The members of any organization thus affected would have no opportunity to de- fend themselves; they would be tabu, and ostracized as an unlawful association. For instance, ‘ suppose the waterside workers repeated the action they took on a former occasion, when, having come to the conclusion that food products were being sold overseas at a cheaper rate than that at which they were obtainable locally, they decided that such goods ought not to be shipped, and refused to handle them. Everybody knows that if frozen meat were brought out of the cool stores and left in the ordinary atmosphere for some time it would probably be ruined, whilst butter similarly treated would be damaged. If the Waterside Workers Association took steps which led to damage to products in that way, they could be declared an unlawful association. They are a bond fide trade union, its ‘members are in every State, and yet each member would be liable to six months’ imprisonment, although he would be perfectly innocent.
– Do you contend that a union which instigated the taking of human life would be bond fide ?
– No; I am dealing only with property. I do not believe that the possibility I have mentioned is the intention of the majority of honorable members, .even on the Government side. I know there are some supporters of the Government who would like to see the workers sweated down to the lowest possible limit. One organization which supported honorable members opposite during the last election - the Employers Federation - employed a lecturer who went about Australia saying that marriage was a luxury for the working man.
– You are still on that old “gag.”
– We were told during the election campaign that men should be- judged by the company they kept, and by that standard 1 am judging honorable members opposite. This lecturer declared that no worker had a right to get married, because marriage was a luxury for him.
– It is for the rich, too.
– As I have never been rich, I cannot say whether that is so or not. Honorable members opposite, in their desire to win the elections, did their best to associate the party on this side with the Industrial Workers of the World. That connexion I denied on every possible occasion, but they were able to persuade the electors in many districts that
Labour candidates were disloyal, that they were associated with the Industrial Workers of the World, and that they were pro-German in their sentiments. They could not persuade the electors in my own constituency to believe those charges against me. I strongly resent what was said to the soldiers overseas. The representatives of the Government toldour fighting men that if they voted for the Labour party they would be voting for the Industrial’ Workers of the World. That was an absolute and deliberate lie. The party on this side has no association with the Industrial Workers of the World at all.
– What about the Anzac Bulletin?
– In connexion with that publication, the Government dipped their hands into the public purse for party purposes ; but I shall deal with that matter on another occasion.
– The Industrial Workers of the World has a good deal to do with the Labour Conferences.
– I attend these Conferences, and it seems’ to me that members who have left the party pretend to know more about what takes place at the Conferences than men who have continued in the organization. Although I have been connected with unionism for a good many years, I have never seen evidence of the influence which some honorable members say is exerted by the Industrial Workers of the World.
I was saying that during the election campaign the Prime Minister stated that he had sworn declarations by two men that they had heard Mr. Hickey say he was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. In to-day’s Argus the following report appears -
At a meeting held at California Gully, Bendigo, on 19th ult., Mr. Hughes, as already reported in our columns, referred to remarks made by him at Bendigo during the recent election campaign. These remarks related to a declaration received from a resident of Bendigo, to the effect that he had heard Mr. Hickey (organizer of the Victorian Railways Union) say that he was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and was’ proud of it, which declaration Mr. Hughes had made public. The Prime Minister proceeded to state that he had seen a letter written by Mr. Hickey to Mr. Grayndler (secretary of the Australian Union), which was totally incompatible with the suggestion that Mr. Hickey was, or ever had been, associated with the Industrial Workers of the World. We have now been supplied with a copy of the correspond ence with Mr. Grayndler, referred to by Mr. Hughes, which is as follows: -
Of course, the Prime Minister’s statement had done its duty. He made use of it during the election, and six weeks’ later crawled down by declaring that he had seen a letter which showed that Mr. Hickey was not a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and had no sympathy with that body at all. This is Mr. Hickey ‘s letter -
Victorian Railways Union. 7 St. James Buildings, William-street,
Melbourne, 29th August, 1916. Memo for E. Grayndler, Esq., Gen. Secretary
Australian Workers Union. Dear Comrade Grayndler, I believe that the Industrial Workers of the World in this country is going to develop into a very serious menace to working-class solidarity unless challenged. The astonishing enthusiasm of its members, coupled with an ever-increasing literature distribution on their part, is penetrating everywhere. Its adherents make a dead “ set “ against any organization that is national in character, and by every method at their disposal endeavour to undermine the confidence of the rank and file, and by innuendo, open and covert, destroy the prestige of officials.
I have watched the concern for some years, particularly its operations inAmerica. I have in my possession at the present time a history of its checkered and questionable career in that country, together with charges of so grave a nature that I venture the opinion that if the information could be circulated amongst the workers of Australia it would keep Industrial Workers of the World members busy explaining away unpleasant truths. The trouble to date in Australia is that there has not been anything of the nature of a concrete case made against them other than to bewail their activities, and an appeal to the workers not to heed the propaganda. But workers interested in the Labour movement need something more tangible than wind as an argument against the Industrial Workers of the World. What they require is fact and argument, and in the history of the Industrial Workers of the World, from the bloody struggle in the steel mills of McKees Rocks to the black betrayals of Akeron Lawrence, and elsewhere, there is sufficient scope for a damaging indictment that is practically unanswerable.
Now this is what I want to know from you. If I compile a pamphlet on the lines indicated, would your organization turn it out! Personally, the only reward I require is the knowledge that something is being done to counteract the sinister campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World. If such a pamphlet was turned out, it would, I believe, act as a deterrent to the direct actionists. Needless to say we would incorporate in the production a chapter or two upon the local concern.
I don’t want you to buy a pig in a poke. I don’t want your organization to say it will undertake the production of a pamphlet without perusing the manuscript. If you indicate the willingness of your organization to embark upon the venture, I will gladly supply you with the manuscript. If after reading the copy you are not satisfied with it, frankly say so; it will be a good turn to me.
You will be glad to hear that I am now general organizer for the Victorian Railways Union. There is plenty of scope there for all one’s energy.
Trusting that you are keeping well, and awaiting an early reply, I am, fraternally,
I think it only fair that these letters should be placed on record, as showing the attitude of bond fide representative trade unionists towads the Industrial Workers of the World. They are an effective answer to those honorable members who would have the country believe that bond fide trade unionists have fostered the Industrial Workers of the World movement, and that members of the Industrial Workers of the World have eaten their way into the unions, and have permeated the Labour movement to such an extent that they now hold all the important offices. Those statements are not correct. Mr. Grayndler replied to Mr. Hickey as follows -
Australian Workers Union.
Head Office, St. Andrew’s Place,
Sydney, 1st September, 1916. Mr. P. H. Hickey, General Organizer, Victorian Railways Union, 7 St. James Buildings, Williamstreet, Melbourne. Dear Comrade,
I was pleased to get your letter, and congratulate you on gaining the position of general organizer to the Victorian Railways Union, and the Victorian Railways Union is also to be congratulated in securing your services.
Your letter and suggestion to write a pamphlet on the Industrial Workers of the World, its history and questionable career, together with the methods employed in Australia by its followers, are very timely.
I have had the same idea of writing them up for a while, but unfortunately pressure of work prevents me from doing anything extensive in that line. Your knowledge and experience should enable you to cut right down to the bone in this career that is fastening itself into the vitals of unionism in Australia. To combat and counteract the insidious propaganda of the Industrial Workers of the World, it is necessary to dig down to the heart of the concern, and, by attacking their German-American origin and career, expose their doings and methods, and to keep their disciples and emissaries busy in attempting to explain it away.
I will be glad to get the manuscript, and, as I feel sure you will handle the thing well, I will get our people to publish it. Send it along, anyhow, and I will attend to it.
It is timely that this letter should have appeared to-day, when’ we are asked to pass a Bill which will practically give the Governor-General power to declare even the Australian Workers’ Union, the Waterside Workers’ Union, the Railway Union, the Miners’ Union, and nearly every other trade union, unlawful associations. If there is any body of men which is in frequent trouble, it is the miners. We must not forget that the influence of the Industrial Workers of the World may be exercised on the other side. This body might be employed to foment troubles, and bring an industrial organization “within the pale of the law.
– That has been done in America.
– It is well known that the Industrial Workers of the World have been used in America for strike-breaking and for inciting strikes. Time after time, when buildings have been blown up, it has been proved that the workers could not have placed the explosives in position. This is known full well to those, who, like myself, have made a study of American industrial disputes. While I am in favour of granting the Government any power to deal with the Industrial Workers of the World, or any other organization which has for its object the destruction of human life or property - and other honorable members of our party will express themselves in the same direction - I contend that it will be utterly wrong to pass any measure which gives the Government power to say to an innocent organization, ” We intend to bring you within the pale of the law. We have the power to do so, and we intend to smash the trade unions of this country.”
– The Bill does not say that.
– It can be done by this Bill.
– That is not so.
– Then will the Minister accept an amendment to exempt from the operation of the measurebona fide trade unions registered under any Arbitration Act or Trade Union Act of a State, or any organization which is enjoying the benefits or conditions awarded by a Wages Board ? If the Minister will agree to that, I will sit down, and the Government can have the Bill, so far as I am concerned, without any further words from me. In order to show how the Ministerial party, or. the Nationalist party, as they are termed, endeavoured to link the party on this side of the House with the Industrial Workers of the World, I quote from All for Australia, a publication sent to me by a soldier. I do not wish to give his name. I suppose he would be punished if it were known he had anything to do with any honorable member of the Opposition. I hold. three issues - I am sorry that I have not the fourth, because then I would have the complete set. The Nationalist party in this publication used the words, “Vote Opposition, and you support pro-Germans and the Industrial Workers of the World.” One soldier, writing about the elections, has said - “ The election has gone off quietly. An officer came to us and said, ‘If you want to vote for the Allies, vote for the Nationalists. If you want to vote for the Germans, vote for the Opposition.’” That officer would not come here and say that about me. He would not say that honorable members of the Opposition desire to have the Germans here. It was a deliberate lie he uttered. The party opposite might say, for electioneering purposes, that we were connected with the Industrial Workers of the World, and, as I have said, that statement is not true. But I ask them to leave bond fide trade unions free from the operations of this Bill, so that they may not be branded as unlawful associations - it must be remembered that there can be no appeal from any decision given under the Bill - and from having all their property seized and their newspapers prevented from going through the post. All I ask is that the bona-fide trade unions in this country shall have the opportunity to exist which they have had in the past. I make this plea to the Ministry. If they grant it, they can have the Bill with very little debate from this side. ‘
– My attitude towards the Bill is very easily stated. I am heartily in support of the measure, so far as it purports to be an attempt to deal with the Industrial Workers of the World, and I promise the Government any assistance in the direction of dealing with that organization effectively. There is no need for any such an institution to exist in Australia. Its members are strong opponents of the principle of arbitration. In fact, supporters of the Government have more community of interest with the Industrial Workers of the World than have honorable members of the Opposition, who are enthusiastic advocates of the principle of arbitration; whereas some Government supporters are quite open in their statements that arbitration is a failure, and does not bring about industrial peace, but rather encourages industrial disputes. Again, the members of the Industrial Workers of the World are opposed to constitutional action, and in that respect, also, they will find more community of interest with the National party than with the Labour party.
– Are the Industrial Workers of the World employers?
– The Employers Federation might be considered distinctly as a branch of the Independent Workers of the World, in so far as principle is concerned, though not. so far as name is concerned, because all of their operations, and all of their business, are based upon direct action.
– The Employers Federation did not vote for the honorable member.
– Of course not.
– But members of the Industrial Workers of- the World did.
– I challenge the honorable member to prove that the Industrial Workers of the World voted for me. I told them that I would have nothing to do with them, that I was opposed to them, and that I would obstruct them at every possible opportunity. If the members of the organization do vote for members of the Labour party, it is not because they hope for any assistance or sympathy from this party; it is probably because they have less to fear from us than from the other party. They know that honorable members on this side are progressive, and are inclined to give even their opponents a fair deal. On the other hand, they know that the members of the National party are not inclined to give friend or opponent a fair deal. A stranger to Australia coming here and reading -this Bill without a knowledge of contemporary events, would naturally think that he was back in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. This measure takes us right back where the Germans have taken us. As the Germans, with a jerk, have taken civilization back into the savage ages, this Bill takes civilization, freedom, democracy, liberty, and justice back for two or three centuries. The history of political advancement is but a record of dealing with unlawful associations. Every organization that has done anything for civilization as we know it to-day, was at one time an unlawful association. Throughout history, there has always been an autocratic Government which, in order to secure power, would refuse to allow any one else to hold an opinion of his own. The whole history of political government is illuminated by episodes such as have been introduced in this Bill, which makes it an offence to do anything that the Government think is wrong. The thing may be right or it may be wrong, but it matters not so long as the Government deem it wrong.
– Does not the honorable member think that the cutting of the wires of the cruiser Brisbane was an offence?
– Of course it was an offence.
– Then, does he not think that it is necessary to have legislation to deal with such people as would do that? . 1
– There is sufficient legislation in this country already to deal with any man, or body of men, who would do such damage. This Bill is not brought forward to deal with such tilings.
– The Bill is, brought forword to deal with the men who are behind those who do the damage.
– Exactly; and as the Labour party are said to be those who are behind these men, this is a Bill to deal with the Labour party.
– And, as the honorable member says that the institutions behind the National party are associated with the Industrial Workers of the World, it is a Bill to deal with us.
– But the Minister for the Navy must remember that the ^culminating point of the whole thing is the fact that it is the Attorney-General who declares what is an unlawful association. Would the Attorney-General say that the associations which are supporting him are unlawful ? He is much more likely to say that the associations which support his opponents are unlawful. British history has scores of instances of associations having been declared unlawful. Many years ago trade unions were considered most obnoxious institutions, and they were declared unlawful. It was an offence for three men to meet in the street, or even to hold a meeting for the purpose of discussing hours of labour and conditions of labour. Honorable members who represent Tasmanian electorates can tell us how their island was originally populated by men whose great offence, for which they were exiled from their native land, was that they belonged to associations for the improvement 6f their conditions. I remember when I was a youngster the Fenian organizations of Ireland. They were declared unlawful. Any person who was a Fenian was declared to be a traitor, and the organization was suppressed ; but who imagines for a moment that the principle for which the members of that organization ‘ were busying themselves was suppressed 1 The relations between Great Britain and Ireland to-day show that, no matter how one might attempt to suppress an organization, the principle for which it stands lives and cannot be suppressed.
– Does the honorable member suggest that nothing should be done in regard to these unlawful associations ?
– No: In my opening remarks I said that, so far as the Bill was made to apply to the Industrial Workers of the World, I supported it, and I would suppress that organization, because in a constitutionally governed country there is no need or reason for the existence of such an institution. Take the history of France or Russia, or even that of Germany, which, behind as it is in matters of Democracy, still has had some ideas in regard to these so-called unlawful associations. An association is only unlawful in the opinion of the ruling powers. In regard to religious and political liberties social or economic advancement, we are indebted to unlawful associations for the position^ that we occupy to-day, and for the freedom that we enjoy.
– The logical sequence of the honorable member’s argument is that we should have no law whatever.
– I ask the honorable member to bear in mind what I said at the outset of my remarks.
– But why these later remarks ?
– Because I object to this Bill applying to any organization other than that which the Government say they desire to suppress.
In the Parliamentary Library yesterday I found a very illuminating book entitled German Scraps of Paper, which is really a reproduction of a number of proclamations issued by the Germans when they violated the neutrality of Belgium. I was very much struck by the fact that the ethical ideals promulgated in these German proclamations were the same as are to be found in a Bill of this kind. On page 16 of the book the following appears: -
The following will be immediately shot : - Any one who tears down these notices. All gatherings of more than three persons are forbidden.
Hostages will be shot if there is the least disorder.
In future the inhabitants of places situated near railways and telegraph lines which have been destroyed will be punished without mercy (whether they are guilty of this destruction or not).
The inhabitants will be deported by order and removed into the country. . . . By this measure they will be given the opportunity of providing better for their subsistence.
That is the old cry of the concern of the wolf for the lamb. The very provisions of this Bill are an indication of the psychology of the Government.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– It is true of this Bill as it is true of these German “ scraps of paper,” that the authors, in their conception of their victims’ psychology, betray their own. This Bill is an indication of the moral ethics of the Government. I was ready to pass by many of the Prime Minister’s charges against the members of our party during the election campaign. He was very abusive, most insulting, and certainly most false in the statements that he made about members of this party. But as I, like every other honorable member, know that the Prime Minister’s standard of moral ethics is not of a very high character, those statements by. him were of small concern to me. Here, however, we have the Government and its supporters identifying themselves with the statements made by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister may say what he pleases, but when his party begin to assert that every organization in this country which will not say and do what the Government wish is, therefore, an unlawful association, then, from my point of view, they are going too far. In clause 2 of the Bill the Government themselves declare that, so far from the Industrial Workers of the World being an organization which ought to be permanently suppressed, it should be suppressed only for the period of the war and six months thereafter. I am against them on that point. If the Industrial Workers of the World, or any organization having similar aims and methods, is to be suppressed in war time, it is equally important that it should be suppressed in time of peace. The Government, however, impose this limitation to the Bill, and that in itself is a condemnation of the very principle which they invite us to indorse. In section 5 of the Act it is provided -
Whoever, being a member of an unlawful association, advocates or encourages, or incites or instigates to any action intended or calculated to prevent or hinder the production, manufacture, or transport, for purposes connected with the war, of troops, arms, munitions, or warlike material, including foodstuffs, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Imprisonment for six months.
Under that provision any strike could be dealt with.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the clauses of the Bill in detail at this stage.
– Then I shall say, sir, that the provisions of this Bill aim not only at the Industrial Workers of the World, but, as the Leader of our party has contended, at trade unions. One has only to read section 5 of the Act to see at once that the Bill will apply to any person who incites or instigates any men to strike when they are dealing with transport, production, or distribution work which, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, is in connexion with the war. That applies also to men on the land. If the me n engaged in sugar-growing in Queensland complain that the wages and conditions of labour are unsatisfactory, then the AttorneyGeneral has only to .say that the growing of sugar is a war-time measure, and the association to which those men belong may be declared unlawful, and be suppressed. And so with men engaged in the stacking of wheat or in railway or steam-ship services; the same principle will apply. Under this Bill the Government can make anything on sea or land an offence against the law, and bring within the provisions of this Bill the members of the association responsible for it. If the Government are honest in their proposals, why can they not exclude from this measure everything but a reference to the Industrial Workers of the World? Let them do that, and,- so far. as I am concerned, they can have the Bill without further debate. If they will not go so far, let them insert an amending clause providing that the Bill shall not apply to those bodies which have secured registration under the Act of Parliament establishing the Arbitration Court. I am only asking the Government to be’ honest - to make their practice parallel with their professions.
– And the effect of this Bill is to ask the trade unions to be honest.
– Here we have an echo from the Caucus room: “To make the trade unions honest.”
– If this” Bill were made to apply only to the Industrial Workers of the World, that organization would merely have to change its name in order to escape.
– Let the Government make it apply, not only to the Industrial Workers of the World in name, but to any organization having similar aims and methods.
– That is the intention of clause 2.
– That may be the intention, but my objection is that the clause goes very much further. The provisions of the Bill are so sweeping and thorough that there is practically no escape from them for any institution in this country. It is conceivable that even a social reform organization could be brought under the Bill. A church could be brought under it. There is no limit to the organizations in existence in Australia to-day which could not be brought’ within its operation. After all, it is not so much a question of what the members of these organizations may think as to their aims and objects, but what the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth, whoever he happens to be, may think of them. We have had, unfortunately in very recent times, illustrations of how a man, prejudiced in his opinions and biased against things other than those in which he himself is interested, may take advantage of such a Bill as this. The Act which it is amending has already been wrongly used. It has been held over men to prevent honest criticism;, it has been used to prevent men doing things which ordinarily are recognised to he honest and lawful.
– What are they?
– Strikes, for instance. The Government in this measure, not only say that the offending organization shall be suppressed and disbanded, but that the members of it may be deported.
– That is good. Let us send them out of the country. Their room is better than their company.
– It is no good unless it cuts both ways. It is, after all, c only a matter of opinion. One man thinks the other is no good, but he does not differ from the other any more than the other may differ from him.
– What about these fellows outside?
– Special legislation is not necessary to deal with them. There are in Australia to-day State laws sufficiently well administered to enable any law-breakers to be dealt with if they incite to the endangering or destruction of human life or property.
– What about the men who dropped bombs in various stores in Sydney? Has the honorable member any sympathy with them ?
– Such statements are easier made than proved. The right honorable gentleman has no doubt that he could almost identify the men who committed the crime of depositing the bombs. He has no doubt in his own mind ‘ as to the identity of the association responsible for them. I object to the deportation of men from this country.
– However bad they are?
– The badness of a man is really a reflection on those of us. who are good.
– But these men do not belong here. They are the imported article.
– Then we should be the last to complain since we are the guardians of the doors of the Commonwealth. It is for us to say who shall enter, and if we admit bad men, socalled, or men who are only bad because we hold opinions different from them, or because they differ from us, the blame rests with us. The only offence that members of the Labour party now on this side of the House committed some months ago was that they dared to have an opinion different from that held by the Prime Minister. It matters not whether we were right or wrong. The Prime Minister held a certain opinion, and we had the temerity, the audacity, the impertinence to differ from him. The Government takes credit for being strong and powerful, and yet is so weak and timorous that it has introduced this Bill to revive all the rigours of past autocracies, and apply them to those who happen to have different opinions, and the courage to. express them. I do not believe in the doctrines of the Independent Workers of the World, and do not support them, but I have never been afraid to listen to an expression of opinion differing from my own. The Prime Minister, on one occasion, referred to the Treasurer as a troglodyte, but is now in company with him. There is this to be said for the Treasurer, that he is an honest and consistent Conservative, and we all respect the man who has the courage to stand by his opinions, though we have no respect for the man who changes his opinions according to circumstances’. I never object to a man holding an opinion which differs from mine, and would be the last to prevent him from expressing it, or to require him to move out of the country for doing so. I shall not vote to prevent men from expressing their opinions. Let those who wish to do so blow off their hot air in the Sydney Domain, on the Yarra Bank, or elsewhere; it will do us no harm, and will do them good. There is no country which cannot afford to let a certain class of men say what they like without let and ‘ hindrance. Progress is gained only by the free expression of opinion, and truth is discovered only by investigation.
No generation has ever possessed all the wisdom of the world, or been in a position to say the last word on anything. Although I believe that the members of the Industrial Workers of the World are proceeding on wrong lines, and are adopting reprehensible practices, there is this to be said for them, that they are up against a system which has brought about nothing but disaster, cruelty, and wrong, and has created the present war, which is causing so much trouble and havoc. They are up against the system that we are up against, though our methods differ. They are for revolution; we are for revolution by evolution. Our time is coming, and that of the Government is going. Ministers are in power for a little while, but the party of the future is the Labour party, the Democratic party, the party of freedom. The Bill illustrates the condition of mind of honorable members opposite, who have learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing. The lessons of history have been lost on them. Their ideas are those of past ages; there is nothing progressive about them. I am out to change things, and I would allow those who differ from me the same freedom of speech as I claim for myself. I do not ask for myself what I would, not be prepared to give to another. The Government proposes to take away from cer- tain people the right to use the Post Office, and the right to use the printing press. They are not to be permitted to speak, or write, or publish their opinions. One wonders if those of the Nationalist party belong to the age in which they live. They seem to be so steeped in. German thought that British ideas are foreign to them. Like the Germans in Belgium, they say to the people, “ We are anxious for your welfare, but if you do anything against us, you will be shot.”
The Government should either withdraw the Bill and make it applicable to the Industrial Workers, of the World only, in which case it would receive theunanimous support of the House, or they should be honest, and so amend it as tomake it clear that its provisions do not apply to trade unions and other organizations which have a legitimate and useful purpose.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has made a very entertaining speech.
It was amusing to hear him state that he was a friend of liberty. Liberty is a word that is quite out of date with those with whom he is associated, though, to some of us, it recalls the writings of John Stuart Mill, and other great men who have passed away, who laid it down that every human being has the right to liberty, and should extend to others the privileges that he claims for himself. That was the doctrine of the founders of the Australian Labour party, as it was the doctrine for generations of the English Radical school, and it was also preached by the Whig school. Before the Labour party of Australia was thought of, thousands of Radicals were believers in the doctrine of liberty. Of all the canting hypocrisy to which I have had the misfortune to ‘have to listen, that of the honorable member for Brisbane is the worst. We heard what lie said about liberty, and we know that he is associated with a party, a school, or a clique, that drove out of the Labour party the men who founded it, simply because of an opinion they held regarding conscription, and that notwithstanding the fact that the United States of America and most of the countries allied with Great Britain at the present time have legalized conscription, and almost every civilized country in the world regards it as the corner-stone of Democracy. The double-distilled, canting hypocrisy of the honorable member is astounding - I know of no other word which would better describe his speech. The muddle that he made of history was amusing. But the party to which he belongs is in a chronic state of muddle, never being able to reason logically, or to stand by their positions. The law of historical criticism which I learned in my teens was that every man, institution, and phase of history should be judged by contemporaneous thought. To muddle up the events of the early part of the nineteenth’ century with what is happening to-day was on a par with much that has been done by the honorable member and those with whom he is associated._
I shall support the Bill, because the Industrial Workers of the World are at war with society. Those on this side would be the last to denounce any attempt to interfere with the propagation of opinion, though, during a war like the present, certain restrictions must be imposed. This measure is a war measure, and, as such, will cease to have effect six months after the war is over. There is much that is being done at the present time to which I would not consent were it not for the war. A great deal of the stupid nonsense which is being preached ito the people by extremists will, no doubt, work its own cure when the war has been ended; but if, as I have been told on pretty good authority, the chief literature in circulation in the back country is the’ Sydney Worker and Truth, the responsibility is thrown on some one - I do not say that it is thrown on the members of this House - to provide some antidote. No one has more sympathy for the people than myself. I know that they are deluded by rascals who use their education and ability to deliberately misinform them in the trashy stuff they supply. Many of these working people have had no opportunity to obtain a proper education, and they certainly deserve better treatment than that of being left to the tender mercies of the men I have described. Personally, I should give short shrift to these men who so misguide their fellow creatures; indeed, I do not Chink that hanging them by the neck would do much harm. At any rate, if these men cannot find better use for their pens than to deliberately mislead the masses of the working people, it is time they were dealt with. This is a war measure, and it cannot be denied that the Industrial Workers of the World are making war on society in such a way that we have a perfect right to do all we possibly can to stamp them out. Why should this measure not apply to all unlawful associations? If the Industrial Workers of the; World were to rename themselves th& “ New-found-out Whistlers,” or some other Yankee name, we should, if the suggestions of some honorable members were acted upon, have to go through all the forms of legislation again to declare the organization unlawful. The Government are only treating this House with proper respect when they ask us to pass a measure of this kind, because of illegal acts which are a menace to society, and propose that the measure should apply to all organizations that break the law. Personally, I do not think for a moment that the Bill will ever apply to the Australian Workers Union or the waterside workers of Australia. Even in my most rabid Labour days, I always gave Conservatives the credit of believing that they were Australians and Englishmen; never for one moment did I think that they were bereft of the principles of justice and equity. Certainly, in public affairs, they took a different view from that of myself, and, indeed, they do now; but it seems to me monstrous to assume that any Australian oh the Treasury benches would use legislation of this character for the purpose of “suppressing or injuring trade unionism. A fundamental desire in the policy of every Government is to remain in office as long as possible, and no Government could last six months in Australia who acted as has been suggested. The possibility of a measure of this kind applying to bona fide trade unions is very remote, the more so because, as the Industrial Workers of the World are put down, the worst influence amongst the unions in Australia will have disappeared. The more their literature and their operations are suppressed, the less likelihood there will be of this dangerous influence permeating the trade union movement, as, unfortunately, it does to an extent at the present time. I do not believe that honorable members opposite think there is any danger in this direction, but, rather, that all their objections are mere fireworks, designed to dazzle the gallery. They apparently wish to be in a position to go round Australia and tell the people that the Government intend to use repressive measures against the union organizations of this country; and their statements are just as accurate as they are usually. Doubtless what they say will effect its purpose, to some extent, in misleading that section of our fellow countrymen who are not so well informed as they might be. I do not think it possible that any trade organization in Australia would be prepared to follow on the lines of the Industrial Workers of the World; but, if there should be such an organization, there is no reason why it should not be dealt with as the Bill proposes. However, as I say, I do not think such ‘an event is at all likely, .and, therefore, I regard the objections raised by honorable members ‘ opposite as of very little value. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Brisbane seemed to jumble up their history, and not to regard it as every intelligent critic must when dealing with questions of this kind. We have heard the old statements about Mr. Walpole, who was connected with the Employers Federation some twenty years ago.
– As late as 1910.
– I do not think that even the Employers’ Federation at the present time holds views of such a character.
– The Employers Federation employed Mr. Walpole for years afterwards.
– But even the Employers. Federation is subject to evolution and improvement, in the matter of their policy, and even if such were the opinions of the Employers Federation - though I do not believe that they ever were - I do not see anything to be gained by raking up events and utterances that have no real connexion with contemporary affairs. The Leader of the Opposition complained very bitterly that during the last election the opponents of the Labour party described that party as being associated with the Industrial Workers of the World.
I noticed that honorable members opposite were nob anxious to debate the AddressinReply, though I think that arose more from a reluctance to rehash the speeches they had delivered all over the country than from any desire to save time. So far as I am concerned, and I speak also for those associated with me, we never said that our opponents were members of the Industrial Workers of the World. What T did say was that members of the organization were fighting for the Labour party, and that there was no necessity for the latter tlo become Industrial Workers of the World. The Labour party has adopted the principles of that organization, and if a man adopts the principles of a school or party, he may be said to be pretty well associated with that school or party. What is the difference between myself and honorable members opposite? The difference is that I, as a conservative Laborite, if honorable members choose, stuck to the principles that were laid down in the early nineties, when the Labour movement was built up. The principle then observed was the freedom of the Labour member, and his responsibility to his constituents, and to no one else. Who are the traitors? We, who have stuck to those principles, or the men opposite? The principle of the Industrial Workers of the World is direct action. Was it not direct action that dictated what Labour members of Parliament should or should nob do? Some Labour members came to heel, but1 I know that amongst those opposite are men who do not believe in what they are advocating. . Is not the action of the Labour leagues and other organizations, in dictating to members of Parliament what they shall or shall not do, direct action enough ?
– What does the employer do when a man does not suit him ? He uses direct action.
– What on earth has the employer ito do with the Labour party ? For years .and years, whatever the employer might do, the Labour party went on the even tenor of its way, whether, we were down or up, believing, as proved to be the fact, that our principles would carry us through. The Labour party swallowed the Industrial Workers of the World entirely, and now bitterly complain that they were misrepresented ait the elections. I am as liable as any man to make a mistake, but there is one thing of which I am confident, and that is that I never will, on this side of the grave, allow any body of men to hold mv conscience. If honorable members opposite wish to know who supported them at the election T can tell them that they had the solid support of the German vote, of the Sinn Feiners, and of all the “ cold-footers “ who under no circumstances would fight for their country. Only about 30 per cent, of the workers who voted for the Labour party were really honest men, and these voted as they did because they followed the flag. It is a historical fact that the great masses of people will always follow the flag of their party, and though leaders may shift and change, there is always a number willing to cling to their old associates. These men and women are undoubtedly the best, noblest, and most honorable of the supporters of honorable members on the Opposition side of the House.
– There are 30,000 Germans out my way, or I would not have been here.
– Whatever the number of Germans in the honorable member’s constituency, they’ all voted for him.
– Their support was not bad either. I was glad to get it.
– I have already said that there was no necessity for the honorable member to join the Industrial Workers of the World, because he has adopted their principles.
– Well, what can a poor man do?
– The Industrial Workers of the World do not believe in arbitration, but in direct action; and the number of strikes that occurred in the three years prior to the present party coming into power shows the influence which that organization has exerted. Those strikes are evidence that the Industrial Workers of the World have utterly corrupted the Labour movement. It has been stated this afternoon that the action which the Government are taking is tyrannical, and the honorable member for Brisbane, in an amusing speech, prophesied that there would be a prosecution of trade unionists- under this Bill. I do not know whether the Industrial Workers of the World are members of trade unions, but they stand a good chance of being prosecuted.
We have been told that the party supporting the Government is proposing to imitate the repressive legislation directed by William Pitt against the trade unionists in the early part. of the nineteenth century. I ask any man outside a lunatic asylum whether there is anything in common between the present age and the early years of the nineteenth century, when trade unionists were being sent to Botany Bay? We know that those deportations were due to a repressive tyranny in the Old Country caused by the reaction against the French Revolution. Any schoolboy is aware of that fact; but, of course, one does not expect a knowledge of history on the part of the honorable . member for Brisbane. It is impossible to believe that there is any possibility of the introduction in this country of legislation similar to that which William Pitt passed through the British House of Commons. I do not know that it would be altogether a disadvantage if some of the spirit of William Pitt were abroad in these days to rouse our countrymen as the Great Commoner roused the people of England at another time of trial. More than anything else, we require his spirit to awaken us, and make us feel that this war has to be won, not alone from a material point of view, but also because it is a war for liberty, and particularly to preserve the freedom of Australia. It is a war for the freedom of the Allied people, and it is, in its essence, a war of emancipation from the most infamous tyranny that the world has experienced since the decline of the Roman Empire. Far be it from me to compare the Roman Empire with the infamous German Empire of to-day. With these facts confronting us, it would be monstrous to allow any organization to undermine society. We cannot overlook the policy of Germany in all parts of the world, since the outbreak of war, and even before, in the matter of espionage and the supply of money to all who were willing to be her agents. How is it that the Industrial Workers of the World in America have been arrested with plenty of money in their pockets ? I know it would be difficult to prove in a Court of Law that those men were using German money, but we should be fools to come to any other conclusion than that German influence was at work.
Mr.Considine. - Are you referring to America?
– I am. We have never gone through the pockets of the Industrial Workers of the World in Australia. If we were to do so, no doubt we should find a little money in their possession also.
I think the Government are justified in seeking the power which this Bill will give, because I am satisfied that no Government could by any possible means operate this proposed law unjustly. The attempt of honorable members opposite to draw an analogy between the proclamation of the Huns in Belgium and the proposed actions of the Government under this legislation stands selfcondemned on the face of it. I hope the Bill will be passed, for I believe it will do some good. But there is something else that honorable members opposite can do, and the, sooner they start the better, and that is to restore the love of liberty amongst the workers of Australia. It existed amongst them before it was corrupted by the peculiar policy recently pursued by the Labour party.
– Mention the character of the man who stood against you.
– The candidature of that man showed the infamy to which the Labour party has sunk. On the KalgoorliePort Augusta railway we may get a fair specimen of liberty as it is known to-day. A meeting is convened by the beating of a kerosene can, and a proposal is made that the men shall strike. They allow the engineer no time to decide what steps he will take; they do not ask him for what they want, but they tell him that if he does not do a certain thing the men will strike. A man standing amongst the crowd shouts, “ Take a ballot and goto the engineer.” Immediately there is a cry, “You scab! Clear out of here within forty-eight hours, or your tent will be burnt.” The honorable member for Broken Hill knows that that is a true specimen of the liberty which obtains along that line to-day. When honorable members talk about liberty it is a wonder their cant does not choke them. I do not charge them with doing the things I have mentioned, but I do say that they sit quiet while they are done. They dare not open their mouths to protest, because they would be booted out of Parliament, and others would take their places. I urge every true Labour man to revert to the principles laid down in 1890 - liberty of speech, the right of every man to express himself, and obedience to the will of the majority. We believed in those days that truth was on our side, and that if we did not win in one day we should do so in a decade or a generation. And we did win. But these anti-Labour men, these Industrial Workers of the World lackeys, have smashed a movement which they had not the brains to build up.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Section 3 of the principal ‘Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following words: - ; and
Any association which the GovernorGeneral, by notice published in the Gazette, declares to be in his opinion an unlawful association within the meaning of the last-preceding paragraph.
Section proposed to be amended -
The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations, namely: -
. . . . (6) . . . .
.- I move -
That the following words be added at the end of the clause : - “ but no trade organization of labour registered under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act or under the law of any State, or whose conditions are regulated by a Wages Board, shall be declared an unlawful association by any notice published by the Governor-General without the consent of Parliament.”
The object of the amendment is to insure that no trade union can be brought under the operation of the proposed law because ofthe act of one or two of its members. It is possible under the Bill as drafted for the Government to take action against a trade organization on account of the act of some of its members, and seize the whole of its property, and any man who was a member of the organization, even though he had no knowledge of the offence, could be imprisoned for six months. The amendment, if carried, will remove that possibility.
– This amendment is based on an entire misconception of the Bill. The honorable member for Yarra is endeavouring to make it appear that, by some means or other, the Bill can be made to apply to bona fide unions or bona fide industrial organizations. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that that is the intention of the Bill or that such organizations are included within its scope. The Bill is intended to deal only with unlawful associations, and it is made clear by sub-section b of section 3 that unlawful associations are associations which by their constitution or propaganda advocate, or encourage, or incite, or instigate to, the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property. The implication that it may come within the scope of the operations of legitimate trade organizations to advocate, or encourage, or incite or instigate to, the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury to property, is unjust to them. The object of the proposed subsection c, which the Leader of the Opposition is seeking to amend, is merely to give power to the Governor-General, that is to say, the Executive Council, to declare that certain kinds of associations which by their constitution or propaganda carry on the objects of advocating, or encouraging, or inciting, or instigating to, the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property, may be declared to.be unlawful associations. Surely the Leader of the Opposition does not consider that any associations which have these things as their objects should be regarded as lawful associations. By no stretch of imagination can the power given to the GovernorGeneral be extended to apply to bona fide organizations carrying out their natural industrial purposes. The amendment cannot be accepted. There is no necessity for it.
.- The Government would do well to accept the amendment, especially seeing that the Honorary Minister says that it is not their intention to bring bond fide trade unions under section 3 of the Act. I feel sure that no honorable member of the Opposition is in sympathy with the Industrial Workers of the World or their work, and we are quite prepared to allow the Government to have the Bill to deal with that organization, but at the same time we are charged with the responsibility of seeing that no legislation is enacted which will deal with bona fide trade unions in an injurious way. I do not know why unlawful associations cannot be dealt with fully under the Act as it now stands. The Bill proposes that an unlawful association may be any association which the Governor-General by notice in the Government Gazette declares to be an unlawful association within the meaning of sub-section b of section 3 of the Act, and that sub-section provides that any association which by its constitution or propaganda advocates, or encourages, or incites, or instigates to, the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property, is an unlawful association. Every one knows that in times of industrial upheaval little things occur which are magnified - it may be that there is destruction or injury of property - and immediately that occurs the Government can declare that the organization concerned is an unlawful association. In connexion with a large industrial organization covering a large area of country something may happen when things are abnormal which may be considered to be an infringement of the sub-section which I have just quoted. It may be done, perhaps, on the impulse of the moment by a member or members of the association, but the result will mean penalizing the whole organization.
– I do not think so.
– The power is there. You cannot escape from it. And once the association is declared to be an unlawful association it becomes subject to the penalties provided in the Act, and any one who contributes afterwards to that organization is penalized. The Arbitration Act may minimize strikes and lockouts, but we cannot prevent them altogether, and when there is a good deal of feeling engendered something may occur which will permit of the organization being declared an unlawful association.
– Unless it can be shown that the organization was responsible, it cannot be declared an unlawful association.
– Times out of number, an association which is really not responsible for the actions of its individual members, has been held responsible in the eyes of the law. If the Honorary Minister says that the Bill is not intended to apply to bond fide trade unions, what objection can there be to the amendment, which places it beyond doubt that trade unions will not come under the proposed new sub-section? If the Government accept the amendment, we are prepared to allow the Bill to go through at once. We are just as ready as honorable members opposite are to put down the organization known as the Industrial Workers of the World; but, at the same time as we must protect trade unions, it is necessary to make the intention of the Bill perfectly clear, and not to leave it framed in such a way that a trade union, because of some little trouble, may become liable to the penalties provided in the Act itself.
– If I thought that, under the measure, it was possible to apply the proposed subsection to any bond fide trade union, I would not have introduced it. If I thought that any bond fide Labour organization of” this country would fall naturally, or in any circumstances, under sub-section b of section 3 of the Act, I would not have hesitated to frame the Bill so as to cover it; but it is a very poor tribute to the organized labour of Australia when honorable members say that, in any circumstances, a bond fide Labour organization can be affected by that sub-section, or by the proposed additional sub-section. The honorable member for Hunter has said that, in times of excitement, individual members of organizations may advocate the destruction of property. I know it. But if they do so, they will be liable under section 4 of the Act as it stands. That section provides that, whoever advocates or encourages, incites, or instigates the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property, shall be guilty of an offence, and be liable to imprisonment for six months. That is the law as it stands. Suppose some hot-heads, during an industrial trouble, advocate the destruction of property, the honorable member contends that the association would be liable under section 3. He is wrong. Only the persons who advocate the destruction of property will be liable, and they will be liable under section 4 of the Act as it stands. The honorable member must see that the provision in the new Bill is directed against the propaganda and the constitution of the association, which cannot be affected by the statements of individual members, but only by the deliberate declaration of the organization as such. I know too much of unionism in this country to listen for a moment to a statement that these industrial organizations, as such, are in favour of the destruction of property or the injury of human life. On the other hand, I know only too well that there are members of such organizations who will say anything. Some mean it, and some do not; but, all the same, they may become liable under section 4 of the Act as it stands. But the new provision cannot affect such men. Under the proposed new sub-section, the Governor-General in Council will be able to do nothing more than this: If the Industrial Workers of the World, against which this Bill is directed, changes its name, and calls itself anything you like, we shall be able to deal with it under its new name just as well as before. Supposing the Industrial Workers of the World to-morrow calls itself the Order of the Rose and the Lily, and declares, in its propaganda, that its one object in life is the propagation of the doctrine of peace and good-will throughout the land? Is it to be said for a moment that, if the tiger christened itself a canary, we would straight away go and feed it with birdseed ? Any one would think that these people were fools. The Industrial Workers of the World will, no doubt, endeavour to evade the law, and .we ought to do what is possible to prevent their doing so.
I give this assurance to the Committee : that this provision will not be put into operation against any existing trade organization registered under any law of the Commonwealth or of a State. With that honorable members must be content.
– Put it in the Bill.
– I shall not. It is a reflection upon unionism to say that a union, by its propaganda or constitution, advocates these things. If any individual member of an organization is guilty of this offence, we shall deal with him under section 4. . The unions ought to be glad of that. Some honorable members may not agree with me; but the vast majority on both sides of the House will. On behalf of the Government, I give the assurance that we shall not bring this law into operation against any organization now registered as a trade union under any law of the Commonwealth ‘or of a State. The law will be used for the purpose for which it is intended and declared to be used, namely, against the organization of the Industrial Workers of the World, no matter what name it may take, and against any of its offshoots, it progeny, its imitators, but it will not and cannot be used against organized Labour. I can appreciate the representations of the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hunter. If I thought for one moment that this provision would apply as they say it will, I would not agree to it. If I held such a view, I would the first to ask that the provision should be struck out,If it would have the effect which the Opposition suggest, then to allow it to stand, even with this proviso, would-be absurd. It ought not to remain. I hold, however, that it will not apply to a trade union, and, therefore, nothing more need be said.
– It is all very well for the Prime Minister to give us his assurance that this provision will not be used against a trade organization ; but, even if we could accept it, we should still be in the position of not knowing how long he will remain Prime Minister.
– What is desired can be done. bg regulation.
Mr.FENTON.- I have heard both the honorable member and the Prime Minister, again and again, declaim against government by regulation. The Opposition, in their objection to this part of the clause, should receive the support of honorable members generally. I would point out that any two Ministers, with the Governor-General, might constitute a meeting of the Executive Council, and, in the absence of the Prime Minister, make all sorts of regulations. We desire to assure trade unionists, who are. amongst the most law-abiding in the community, that this Bill will not apply to trade unions.
– Even if we agreed to this amendment, there would be nothing to prevent the Government, if they so desired, doing by regulation under the War Precautions Act all that the Opposition say might be done.
– Then there is no need for this Bill.
– That being so, the introduction of this Bill is only a timewasting device.
– That is not so.
– The Prime Minister says that the Government already possess all these powers under the War Precautions Act. Why, then, is this Bill necessary?
– Because, as the honorable member himself has just said, it is proper that we should rule by Statute, and not by regulation.
– But the Government will continue to rule by regulation. Under the original Act, a man had an opportunity to defend himself in the Courts; but, under this clause, any two Ministers, with the Governor-General, could constitute a meeting of the Executive Council, and- do practically anything behind the back of Parliament.
– Who are the Opposition going to trust?
– The Ministry, as a whole. are not to- be trusted too far. and there is no telling what might be done - what regulation might be confirmed - > by any two Ministers constituting, with the Governor-General, an Executive Council. Again and again whilst I. sat behind the Prime Minister he accepted from the then Opposition amendments of the character of that now’ before the Committee. He yielded to the view that we should not do by regulation what could be achieved by Statute law. This amendment will not overload the. Bill, “and it has the merit of making absolutely plain the intentions of the Government. In order that trade unions may have from this Parliament an absolute assurance as to what is intended, the proviso should be inserted. The Prime Minister said that to insert the proviso would be to reflect upon trade unionism. If that were so, then we should have to take the very heart out of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and much of the industrial legislation introduced by Labour Governments. The Government should regard our request as reasonable, and agree to this amendment, so that trade unions may be assured that they cannot be brought within the operation of this measure by any trick or device.
– In order that honorable members may appreciate what the . position would be if this amendment were inserted, I invite them to consider fairly the effect of subsection o of this section in the original Act. What the Opposition are inviting me to do is, in effect, to provide that if a trade union advocates the destruction of human life it may do so. with impunity. I am sure Honorable members opposite do not want anything of the kind, but that is what they are really asking me to do. It is impossible to make such a public declaration. We> could not do it. What the Opposition can, and ought to, say is that tine Bill1 cannot, in the very nature of things, be directed against trade unionism, because1 trade unionism does not recognise, but detests, such principles. To do what the Opposition have invited me to do would be, on the face of it, to admit that there are in this country trade organizations registered under the law which advocate the destruction of property and the taking of human life. There ere no such trade organizations, but if one came into existence no one could defend “it, and honorable members opposite know that they would not do so. I therefore ask them, with the assurance I hare given, to agree to this clause.
.- I thought that lie Government would accept this amendment in the friendly spirit in which it was offered. The Opposition do not object to action being taken against the particular organization at which the Bill is aimed. The Prime Minister has said that there is no trade union in Australia which advocates violence and the spoliation of property. We indorse that view,, and I would point out that if any such organization did advocate such a policy its registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act could be cancelled. That, therefore, does away with the Prime Minister’s argument against the adoption of this amendment. Any trade . union which advocated violence or the spoliation of property could have its trade union certificate cancelled, and it would then come within the scope of this Bill. As to the Prime Minister’s statement that the Government have, under the War Precautions Act, all the- powers they require in this direction, I would point out that any man proceeded against under that Act has the right to defend himself. Under this Bill, however, the Executive Council could declare any organization an unlawful association, and that organization would have no redress;
– A trade organization as such is not affected. An organization is affected only to the extent that it advocates the destruction of human life or property.
– We have no sympathy with an organization that advocates anything of the kind.
Mi. Hughes. - I know that.
– In nearly every organization there are usually one or two wild men who are given to the making of rash statements, and who during the existence of a strike might advocate a certain course. In such circumstances the Executive might in its haste declare that the organization to which such men belonged was an unlawful association, with the result that the whole of its members would be penalized because of the utterances of one or two.
– That could not be.
-It could happen where an organization ‘was declared an unlawful
One. Every member of it who continued to contribute to its funds after it had been declared an unlawful association would be liable to a fine.
– But the individual would come under section 4 of the Act. If, for instance, a member of the organization to which the honorable member belongs - the Plasterers Union - advocated the destruction of human life or property, that man would come under section 4 of the Act as it exists now. It does not bring the Plasterers Union in.
– Our fear is that such organizations would be brought in. If trade unionists have the impression that the Government are out to try to smash their organizations, then in rejecting this amendment honorable members opposite are benefiting the Opposition. In submitting the amendment, however, we are not seeking any political advantage. We desire, as far as possible, to work in harmony with the Government, and I think that the amendment is a fair one. We desire to be able to assure trade organizations that it is not the intention of the Government to interfere with their rights and privileges.
– The honorable member knows that it is not.
– Quite so. Let us consider for a moment what might happen if, while the Prime Minister was in the Old Country attending to public business, there was a reshuffling of portfolios, and the position now occupied by him were taken by a gentleman holding views different from his own with regard to industrial organization. In such circumstances this provision without the proviso that we suggest would be dangerous to trade unionism.
– But the Prime Minister, whoever he might be, would be bound by the law.
– The Prime Minister will well understand why we are anxious to prevent any miscarriage of justice. If Min isters do not wish to penalize trade unionism - and I believe that they do not - why not make that clear by amending the Bill?
– If it is conceivable to honorable members - I do not know how it can be - that some registered Labour organization may do the things that we are providing against, I am willing to allow any order in relation “to such an organization to lie dormant until Parliament has had an opportunity to review the matter. I cannot go beyond that.
– I do not think that any Labour organization would do anything to bring itself within the Bill, though an organization might have members who would come within the Bill. We should make it clear that there is no intention to interfere with bond fide trade unions. If a registered organization did anything of which the Government disapproved, application could be made for its deregistration, and then it could be brought under the Bill.
– There are organizations which are not registered to which the amendment would apply.
– I hope that the Government will accept the amendment in the friendly spirit in which it has been moved. Honorable members on this side are willing to assist the passing of the Bill, if the trade union movement is protected.
. -In my opinion, the paragraph which it is proposed to add to section 3 of the principal Act has been framed for no other purpose than that of enabling the Government to deal with such trade unions as may in the near or remote future engage in a strike. If that were not so, paragraph b of section 3 would be sufficient. That paragraph declares that -
Any association which, by its constitution or propaganda, advocates, or encourages, or incites, or instigates to the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property, is an unlawful association. Now it is proposed to declare any association an unlawful association, which the Governor-General, by notice in the Gazette, may declare to be so in his opinion. The Industrial Workers of the World has been used as a stalking horse behind which to advance this proposal, the real purpose being to break up the trade union movement.
– What is wrong with the proposal under consideration?
– We know how a provision of the Defence Act was used to sanction the calling up of single men in anticipation of conscription; and I fear that if Parliament gives the GovernorGeneral - which means the GovernorGeneral in Council - power to declare any organization an unlawful association, the day will come when a trade union whose members are out on strike will be declared an unlawful association, under the pretence that it is endangering human life. If the waterside workers were out on strike, and the carriage of foodstuffs were being prevented by the laying up of shipping, honorable gentlemen opposite might Bay that the union was endangering the lives of men at the Front, and, on that or some other pretext, have it declared an unlawful association. When the Amalgamated Miners Association, at Broken Hill, struck for a forty-four hours week, the Prime Minister denounced them as being in receipt of German pay, and said that the lives of the men at the Front were being endangered because they were hindering the supply of munitions. Had the proposed provision then been law, the Amalgamated Miners Association would have been declared an unlawful association. I have never been connected with the Industrial Workers of the World, and have no sympathy with either its propaganda or its methods, and the union of which I had the honour to be president for a considerable time, is opposed to the organization.
– Was not the honorable member a member of the Industrial Workers of the World when the Amalgamated Miners Association broke it up?
– I have never been a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, though during the election campaign lying circulars were published by those supporting the present Government asserting the contrary.
– How long has the honorable member been a member of the Amalgamated Miners Association?
– Ever since I arrived in Broken Hill, in 1911. I have never been a member of any organization but a recognised trade union. I have the honour to belong to the Waterside Workers Union, of which the Prime Minister was once a member, though he is not so now. I have no desire to protect the Industrial Workers of the World, or any organization advocating the destruction of property or life, but I do not trust the Prime Minister or his Government in this matter. I fear that they wish to secure power which will enable them to strain the law as the Defence Act was strained by them prior to the conscription referendum, and thus to declare an unlawful association any trade union whose members may be out on strike, no matter how damnable their conditions or how good their cause. It may even be that the union has been forced out by the employers. When the Broken Hill strike, to which I have referred, took place, it. benefited the employers by enabling them to work off their surplus supply of lead and spelter, and the share list published in Sydney by Messrs. Joseph Palmer and Sons at the time showed that the strike, was of advantage to the companies.
– Then it was very kind of the union to strike.
– Sometimes when you start a fire you cannot control it. That upheaval was beneficial to the men as well as to the companies. The Prime Minister has asked whether we think that if the Industrial Workers of the World changed its name it should no longer be pursued, and added that any organization that adopted similar methods should be dealt with. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, in the course of his amusing discourse on liberty, stated that if trade unions were to adopt what he considered to be the objects of the Industrial Workers of the World they should come under the Bill. If the provision to which we object be not amended, the Government will have power to declare any association an unlawful association. If miners were on strike, it might be alleged that they were destroying property by allowing water to accumulate in the mines, and other bodies of men could be brought within the Bill under similar pretexts. If the object rf the Government is to protect life and property, why is the Bill to operate only until six months after the war? Is there to be no protection after that time? The Prime Minister has admitted that he has already power under the war precautions legislation to do what the Bill will permit him to do. Apparently, however, Ministers know what a storm of protest would be raised were they to apply the War Precautions Act to a bona fide trade union which happened to be out on strike. Consequently, under cover of the feeling that has been created against the Industrial Workers of the World, this Bill has been introduced to empower the Government to deal in another way with the trade unions. Possibly one of its objects is to forestall action by the trade unions in opposition to an attempt to foist conscription on the country without a referendum. Possibly that is the object of the Bill. If the Government will accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, the objections to the measure will vanish; but I can see no other object in this sub-clause c unless, either trade unions as a whole, or an individual trade union, is aimed at. I arrive at that conclusion for the reason that there is a sort of concerted attack on the trend of evolution in the industrial movement of this country at the present time. It was only the other week that Mr. Beeby made an attack, not on the Industrial Workers of the World, but on the trade union movement, which is abandoning the old craft method of organization, and attempting to organize itself on industrial lines in the way of forming larger and more powerful bodies. Mr. Beeby, in his attack, accused the trade unionists of this country of utilizing the latter form of organization for the purpose of imposing a sort of industrial tyranny on the people; and it appears to me that much the same idea must be behind this clause. Sub-clauses a andb give the Government authority to proclaim any association, which by its constitution or propaganda, advocates or encourages, or incites or instigates to the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property.
– Do you say that any unions do that ?
– No, I do not. Mr. Hughes. - Then how can the Bill apply to them ?
– It is because I believe that no union does such a thing that I wish unions to be exempt.
– If the Bill does not apply to unions how can it affect them?
– Only a few minutes ago, when the Prime Minister was busy writing, I pointed out that this provision referring to the endangering of human life, could, under certain circumstances, be construed in a manner to suit the Government of the day. For instance, if the miners went on strike at Broken Hill, and the mines were in danger of being swamped with water, the question would arise whether by leaving the mines, the men were causing the destruction of or injury to property. If such were the desire or intention of the Government, the Governor-General could, for the purpose of breaking the strike, declare the Amalgamated Miners Association an unlawful one.
– With all submission, I say that what you are now saying is perfectly absurd.
– It is not. I call your attention to the fact that when Mr. Justice Higgins was engaged in the Arbitration Court over the forty-four hours’ strike, and the Minister for Defence intervened with a memorandum, and came to a certain agreement with the mining company and the men, His Honour stated that it did not matter what Senator Pearce meant by the memorandum, but that all depended on what he had written. It will be seen that, in the last analysis, Mr. Justice Higgins decided what Senator Pearce meant.
– If that is so, what does it matter what we put in the Bill? Mr. Justice Higgins, according to you, will do just as he likes.
– If the Prime Minister himself says that trade unions do not advocate undesirable action, and are not aimed at, what is the objection to exempting them from the provisions of the Bill ? This clause, to my mind, is the key-note of the whole measure. This power in the hands of the Governor in Council is one of the most effective strikebreaking machines ever introduced in Australia. Without question, there is no organization of note, whether it be of miners, of railway men, or transport workers, that could not be brought within the clause, and declared an unlawful association ; and other clauses would make it impossible for any such organization to exist. If the Prime Minister accepts the amendment he will show his bona fides - he will show that he is not aiming at the trade union movement of the country. If, however, the right honorable gentleman does not accept the amendment, the trade union movement is entitled not to trust to his mere statement, seeing that, as has been pointed out, he may not be Prime Minister for any lengthy period. From statements that have been made on the other side since I entered the House, and judging from the bias that has been shown by honorable members, not towards the Industrial Workers of the World but towards trade unions and so-called “walking delegates,” we should be false to our trust if we relied on the word of the Government that, given the opportunity, the Bill will not be put in operation against us. If the Prime Minister is honest in his declaration in regard to the trade union movement, he will accept the amendment*
.- I also wish to protest against this clause, which is probably unequalled, even by the notorious Coercion Act brought to light by the honorable member for Flinders. The War Precautions Act gives great powers, and this Bill is just as bad as that Act. The Prime Minister cunningly, and with his tongue in his cheek, dramatically pointed out that if the amendment, as moved by the Leader of the Opposition, were accepted, it would then be read into sub-section 6 of the section in the principal Act. He must have known all, the time that it was not an amendment of that section.
– I say that the effect is exactly the same, as if we amended that section.
– The Prime Minister endeavoured to read in the amendment, bo as to make the provision read -
Any association, but no trade organization of labour registered under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, or under the law of any State, or whose conditions are regulated by a Wages Board, shall be declared an unlawful association by any notice published by the GovernorGeneral, without the consent of Parliament, which, by its constitution or propaganda, advocates or encourages, or incites or instigates to, the taking or endangering of human life, or the destruction or injury of property.
– That is the effect.
– Such is “not the case; and the Prime Minister admitted1 that by making a proposition to this party almost in the same breath. If the amendment is bad, why did the right honorable gentleman make an offer?
– I did not make any offer at all; I tried to talk sense to you, but you would not listen.
– The party on this side made its position very clear to the people of Australia on 5th May, and prior to that date; but because of the noise of the Win-the-War party, our protests were unheard in a great number of quarters, with the result that we did not get the votes we probably otherwise would have got.
– You would have W011 but for the other dog I
– I am not growling. While the Prime Minister may be in power to-day, Democracy and the working-class movement will ultimately rise, and many honorable members on the benches opposite, by virtue of their association with the Liberal party, will probably not occupy those seats in the next Parliament.
– The honorable member’s turn will come in three years’ time, and many of his colleagues, who have betrayed the workers, will also be missing. Personally, I made my position clear during the campaign. As secretary of a branch of the Australian Workers Union for the last three years, I have been fighting the organization known as the Industrial Workers of the World, and, notwithstanding that fact was given great publicity during the elections, our friends of the Win-the-War party were at great pains to state that the Industrial Workers of the World had a sympathiser in myself. I wish, however, to make tha point also clear to my friends, because I am going to meet them in the near future* and to that end I should like to quote a portion of my annual report, as secretary of the Western Branch of the Australian Workers Union, at the end of the financial year in June last. Tn discussing in .that report the Industrial Workers of the World and their tactics, I said -
The scheme, in all its sinister nakedness, was revealed early this year, when an article was printed in Direct Action, the official organ of the Industrial Workers of the World, to the effect that the Industrial Workers of the World intended to form what they termed a “ National Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World.”-
I like the word “National” -
This new union was to be started in Queensland, Western, and Central Branches. I again attacked and exposed the aims of the Industrial Workers of the World, and pointed out that the organization, being of an inter-, national character, would welcome to its ranks black, brown, or brindle, and that the White Australia policy would be gone for ever if audi a move succeeded. No doubt, many pastoralists would like to see the industry opened to Chinese and Asiatics. To the Industrial Workers of the World the Coolie, the Chinese and Japanese are all equal, and they admit them to their union. It was the intention of this organization to circulate millions of pamphlet’s, and also establish a newspaper in connexion with the industry. Last year, certain squatters got the Industrial Workers of the World to fill their sheds, .and before any man was sent up, he had to take tickets in the Industrial Workers of the World.
They are some of the Win-the-war party -
This savoured of the old Machine Shearers Union days, when men were asked to take Machine Shearers Union tickets or they would not get a job. No doubt there will be squatters this year who will get that organization to man their sheds in the hope that they will break up the Australian Workers Union.
– From what paper are you quoting?
– The Worker of the 12th July. I am reading my own report. The people who are supporting honorable members opposite are those who to-day are doing their level best to place the Industrial Workers of the World on a sound footing, not only in the pastoral industry, but in the mining and waterside industries. The Prime Minister laughs, but I ask him: Who subsidized Packer’s organization in Victoria? It was fostered and subsidized by ‘ the employers of that State, and Packer was merely the dupe and tool of the Employers Federation. In connexion with the pastoral industry, the squatters decided that it would be a fine thing to break the Australian Workers Union, and immediately started the Machine Shearers Union, which was subsidized with large sums of money by persons unknown, of course. The union printed balance-sheets in which those large sums were described as subscriptions. When two sheds in the Moree district, one at Burren Junction and another in the. New England district, were manned with Industrial Workers of the World last year, what can one infer? The employers knew that the men were Industrial Workers of the World before they arrived at the sheds. It is quite in the interests of the pastoralists to break the Australian Workers Union, and I assure honorable members that the pastoralists do not look very carefully at the weapons they use in effecting their purpose. Probably many honorable members opposite would be only too pleased to see some of the organizations broken up. We hear honorable members speaking disparagingly of the organizers and of the unions, and the Treasurer went so far as to say that he would deport strikers.
– No; I said I would deport those fellows who were guilty of these crimes.
– Does the honorable member say that the pastoralists did not try to ,work in with the Australian Workers Union in killing the Industrial Workers of the World?
– They did not do that. But members of the Pastoralists Union and the contractors, who are supported and subsidized by the Pastoralists Union, are now co-operating with the Industrial Workers of the World in trying to break the Australian Workers Union. The Prime Minister has given us his assurance that no bona fide trade union will come within the scope of the Bill.
– Do you think any union will?
– I repeat what has already been said, namely, that possibly the Prime Minister may not be here to give effect to that undertaking, and, even if he were to be here, I personally am not prepared to accept his assurance. He is merely the creature of circumstances, and probably finds himself driven to acts which he would not do of his own accord. The personnel of the party over which he presides is directly anti-democratic, and anti-everything for the betterment of the working classes. And if a Caucus of the Ministerial party decides that action shall be taken against the Australian Workers Union or the Federated Marine Engineers Association, or any large organization which is treading on the corns of Government supporters, the Prime Minister must do as he is bidden or get out.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 745 p.m.
– I support the amendment, because the Bill, as it stands, is a menace to trade unionism. The assurance given by the Prime Minister is not sufficient. When he was associated with trade unions he was roost particular in seeing that any agreement into which he entered was set out in black and white. He gives us the assurance that the Bill is not aimed at trade unions, and I can see no reason why the amendment which insures it cannot be inserted. Labour organizations are founded on the principle of equity. When a man joins a union he shares equally in its burdens and its benefits. On the other hand, our social system is not founded on equity. Consequently there is conflict between organized labour’ and capital, and it will always continue until our social system is founded on equity. It will be the easiest thing in the world to bring a trade union within the ambit of the Act which the Bill seeks to’ amend. A simple disagreement with an employer would do so.
The Seamen’s Union, with which I am connected, has been one of the most lawabiding bodies in the Commonwealth since it was formed. It has always abided by its industrial agreements. However, some eighteen months ago, the then Minister for the Navy chose to issue a regulation which enforced more work on the members of that union than they were supposed to do under the industrial agreement which controlled their labours. The members of the union affected immediately ceased work, and orders were issued to place them under arrest; but, happily, the men had the right to refuse to work, because they were off the articles of the ship; they had not signed any agreement. That did not stop the Minister from forcing naval reservists into the particular vessel to take the place of the trade unionists, and it was only the action of the officials of the union in asking the Department of the Navy to get Mr. Justice Higgins to arbitrate upon the matter that prevented one of the biggest strikes in the history of Australia. Had that strike taken place, and had the provisions of this Bill been in operation, the union would have been declared an unlawful association, and all its members would have been brought within the ambit of the Act. It is our anxiety to prevent such a possibility. We are quite prepared to assist in winning the war. No one can say that organized labour in Australia has not done as well as others in this direction. Australia could not have conducted the war on the scale on which it has been conducted if it had not been for organized labour. The greatest difficulty that the unions have is the suppression of the element at which this Bill is aimed.
We are in accord with the Government on that matter. We say, “ Yes, crush this element ‘ ‘ ; but we ask that the trade unions shall be safeguarded. If trade unions commit, offences against the Arbitration Act, there are ways and means of getting at us; but if this Bill is brought into operation it will be the easiest thing in the world to declare trade unions unlawful associations. The Postmaster-General admits that a partial cessation of work would bring a union within the ambit of this Bill, and have it declared an unlawful association. There are 50,000 men engaged in transport work in connexion with the war. If half-a-dozen of those men choose to knock off work, what will prevent the Government holding the organization responsible, and declaring it to be an unlawful association?
– Could you not disown the half-dozen men misleading you?
– Half-a-dozen men could bring the union into trouble under this Bill. They can lead a . union into a position in which- the officials of the union would not know whether the men were controlling the organization or whether the organization was controlling them until such time as a meeting could be held of all the members. That would take two or three days, during which time a vote would have to be taken.’ It is necessary to cease work to vote, and if there is a cessation of work for the purpose of holding a poll, the conclusion is at once drawn that the whole society is- out on strike, and that would bring it within the ambit of this measure.-
– Do I understand the honorable member to say that half-a-dozen members of the union can create a strike without consulting the union?
Mr. WALLACE .^Certainly. I have known the Minister to take action on his own account at times, and then go to his Cabinet and ask for its blessing on his action. The same thing may occur in a trade union.
I protest against this Bill. It is brought in to be detrimental to trade unions. The underlying purpose is to bring the unions within the ambit of the Unlawful Associations Act. I do not think there is any doubt about the matter. For months past there has been an atmosphere of “Trade unionism must be suppressed.” Articles have appeared in the press in Victoria and New South Wales pointing out that trade unions have risen to such a height that they have become arrogant, and must be suppressed. I am satisfied that the Bill has been brought in for that purpose.
Under the Arbitration Act it is impossible to get before the Arbitration Court unless a dispute is created. The organization must first submit an affidavit to the President of the Arbitration Court stating that a dispute is likely to occur in, three or four States. If it shows that a strike is premeditated, the Governor-General can immediately proclaim that organization an unlawful association.- The very law of the country forces the union to commit a crime against the Arbitration Act before it can go before the Arbitration Court. Thus we are treading on very thin ice in agreeing to the Bill before us. Before measures are ‘ introduced for the purpose of bringing the unions to subjection, there should be more equitable laws that the organizations may observe. If the Arbitration Act were amended, giving better facilities for getting to the Arbitration Court, it would prevent industrial strife, and there would be no need for me to be asked whether five or six members of a union could create a strike. There would no longer be need for it The Prime Minister knows as much about the matter as I do. He may give the assurance that the Bill is not aimed at trade unions, but he would not ask me to go for a voyage to the Old Country without first signing articles of agreement. We want this agreement in black and white. The Prime Minister may not always be Prime Minister. He may find it necessary to leave Australia, leaving some one in his place, and in those circumstances his word would not be worth anything; just as the word of the captain who leaves his vessel at the first port is not binding on his successor. If the Bill is not intended to affect trade unions, why cannot the amendment be accepted? That is all we ask. We are anxious to make certain that it will not affect trade unions. If the amendment is not accepted, we are satisfied that the Bill is intended to hit the trade unions, and that this is only the first move of what we were threatened with prior to the elections. As pointed out by an honorable member the other day, trade unions did more to defeat conscription than any other section of the community, so possibly it is the intention of the measure to bring trade unions to that point that if conscrip tion is again introduced they will be powerless to raise a hand against it.
– We have listened to what may be said to be the most outrageous and impudent state-‘ ments and distortions of the truth that it has ever been the lot of unfortunate man to hear. We have heard the statement by the honorable member for Darling, which actually attempts to foist on the community the idea that the Pastoralists Union is conspiring with the Industrial Workers of the World to defeat the lawful purposes of the Australian Workers Union.
– On a point of order, the Prime Minister is not entitled to put into my mouth words that I did not use.
– There is no point of order.
– Every one who knows anything at all about this matter recognises that this is not the place for statements of that kind. They may do very well in. places where such statements are hatched for consumption by a too credulous people; but they will serve no purpose here. The statements made by the honorable member for West Sydney, although in a different category, are open to similar criticism. There is no escape from the position which I lay down : that either the unions must contemplate the destruction of life and property, or they are wholly excluded from the operation of this Bill. I have given the assurance that the Government will not apply this provision to trade unions.
What would be the position if I were to accept the amendment? Let me show how utterly futile it is in the face of existing facts. It provides that no organization - shall be declared an unlawful association by any notice published by the Governor-General without the consent of Parliament.
How is the Parliament at present constituted? Whether it be admitted or not, the fact is that whatever this Government proposes becomes law, and can be made law within an hour of its introduction. That being so, of what avail would be the protection which this amendment would provide to any body of unionists throughout Australia? Since, however, some honorable members opposite have this” “bee in their bonnet,” while some others are endeavouring to persuade credulous men outside that the Bill is aimed at trade unionists, I shall take trade unions completely out of the scope of the Act. I shall not allow their inclusion to be dependent upon the will of this Parliament, which, if the statement of the honorable member for West Sydney is correct, intends to scarify and devour trade unionists. I shall propose an amendment under which this Parliament can do nothing, so far as this measure is concerned, in regard to trade unionists. The amendment which I shall move reads as follows: -
That the following words be added to the clause; -
Provided that this last sub-section shall not apply in the case of any association registered under any arbitration law of the Commonwealth or any State, or any law relating to trades unions in any State.
That is the kind of amendment that the Opposition were trying in vain to draft, and it will lead them where their utterly futile amendment would not.
I have only to say once more that this measure is aimed, not at trade unions, but against those organizations about which some honorable members opposite speak with forked tongues - in one place denouncing them, and in another supporting them. Men have been returned to the Parliaments of the various States, and, it may be, to this Parliament, who have given, as it were, in effect, although not in so many words, such protection to the Industrial Workers of the World as to place them in the category of supporters of that institution. There are some who say they believe in the’ ideals of the Industrial Workers of the World, but not in its methods. What are ideals ? My honorable friend the member for Bourke is a great authority on ideals. He dwells in the land of Idealia, and there he stops, like a political Alice in Wonderland, spinning out words which mean nothing. Then we have other members opposite who are constantly talking about Labour. Labour has come to a pretty pass in this country when it can find no better supporters than some of those whom we see sitting opposite. There are among” them - and I exclude the honorable member for Bourke from this statement - who have done nothing for Labour. The honorable member for Bourke is one of those who has been fighting in the Labour movement from its very inception.’ However we may differ now, that is a fact, and there are many others who have done so. But these
Johnny-come-latelys of the Labour movement, who come here and talk about unionism, have done nothing bub live on it from the day they entered the ranks of unionism. They deserve political ostracism, and if the Labour organizations of Australia ever come to their senses, they will vomit them forth.
.- In view of the Prime Minister’s statement I have much pleasure in asking leave to withdraw my amendment in f avour of that which he proposes to move. ‘ I do not contend that the verbiage of our amendment is as good as that which he hae suggested. His proposed amendment will accomplish what we desire, and what has been opposed by many members of his own parity.
– It has not been opposed by any one of our party.
– Yes; even by the Minister himself.
– No; I merely said I could not accept the honorable member’s amendment.
– But now the Prime Minister is willing to agree to the principle of my amendment. As to his diatribe in regard to the so-called “ Johnnycome.latelys “ on this side, I’ would remind him that it was doubtful whether some who stood in the interests of the Government at the recent elections had been in Australia long enough to be qualified to stand for election.
– That does nob apply to me.
– Nor will the right honorable gentleman’s remark apply to me. I am glad that the Prime Minister is willing to propose the amendment he has suggested,, and I ask leave to withdraw that moved by me.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment, (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ Provided that this last sub-section shall not apply in the case of any association registered under any arbitration law of the Commonwealth or any State or any law relating to trades unions in any State.
Mr. FALKINER (Hume) 8.8].- Honorable members of the Official Labour party have indulged in a good deal of sound and fury, for which there was really no cause. The section of the original Act which is to be amended by this clause refers to any association which “ by its constitution or propaganda “ advocates or encourages the destruction of human life or property. I take it there is nothing in the constitution of any trade union which advocates anything of the kind. That being so, of what are the Opposition afraid ? I have no desire to reflect on the “walking delegates,” who have been described as a blessing. My only reply is that, like many other blessings, they frequently come in disguise. Ae tlo the view expressed by the Opposition, that) the Prime Minister may not long retain his present position,- I think that underlying that suggestion is the fear that we may be indebted to his brains for our leadership for quite as long a period as they were.
– The honorable member and his friends would not admit that he had any brains when he was with us.
– On the contrary, we admitted that he was tie only member of the Labour party who possessed any brains.
– That is rough on the Postmaster-General.
– I have not suggested that we have not taken over from the Official Labour party all those who had any common sense. I rose chiefly to contradict a statement made by the honorable member for Darling - and which, on reflection, I am sure he will regret1 - in which he tried to connect the Pastoralists Union, or individual members of it, with the Industrial Workers of the World. He knows full well that, for many years, and especially during the last twelve months, the Pastoralists Union has been doing its best to retain in office the present officials of the Australian Workers Union, because the Industrial Workers of the World section of it has . been getting completely out of .hand.
– Utter rot!
– I have attended every council meeting of the Federated Pastoralists Union, and have also met in conference representatives of the ‘Australian Workers Union before the honorable member was one of its delegates, so that I know what I am talking about. The Industrial Workers of the World section of the Australian Workers Union last year tied up shearing operations to such an extent that the sheep were dying in thousands from fly-blow. I know of one station alone on which stock to the value of £16,000 was lost, and finally some individual pastoralists had to allow Indus trial Workers of the World men to shear their sheep, much as it went against their grain to do so. The honorable member for Darling and his fellow officials of the Australian Workers Union could have easily prevented that being done by sending along men to fill these sheds. That, however, they failed to do. As a member of the Government party I deny that this Bill is an attack on trade unionism. It is designed to deal with circumstances that may arise, and as such no exception can be taken to it. As an Australian, I regret the language used by honorable members opposite in describing those whom we represent as “a sorry lot,” “wasters,” and so forth. At such a time as this we might act as Australians and refrain from such expressions. I rose only to contradict the statements made by the honorable member for Darling, who, I believe, will, on second thoughts, regret having uttered them.
– I am going to repeat them.
– Then the honorable member will only aggravate his offence. The Pastoralists Union fought the Industrial Workers of the World until certain individual pastoralists could hold out no longer without the risk of absolute financial ruin ; whereas the Australian Workers Union could at any time have relieved them by sending along other members of its own to shear the sheep.
.- The Prime Minister was guilty of ft wanton misstatement when he declared I had said that the Pastoralists Union of Australia had conspired to help the Industrial Workers of the World. What happened was that the honorable member for Hume inquired by way of interjection while I was speaking, whether the Pastoralists Union was connected as a body with the Industrial Workers of the World. My reply was that it was not, but that individual members of the organization had done what I attributed to the honorable member. The Pastoralists Union of Australia is far too cunning to do what 1 am alleged by the Prim© Minister to have said it did. The honorable member for Hume, on behalf of his colleagues and friends outside, has emphatically denied my statement that they helped the Industrial Workers of the World. I propose to give him some instances in which thai help was rendered. During last shearing
Frank White, of Samarez, outside Armidale, visited the last-named town and unsuccessfully tried to interview a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He then sent his son to interview him with the object of securing men to £11 his sheds.
– Why did not: the Australian Workers Union men fill it? ^ Mr. BLAKELEY . - Because these pastoralists would not go to the Australian Workers Union office. That is the last place to which they would think of going for men. Evidence to that effect has been given on oath in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. This was done- at Armidale by a prominent member of the Pastoralists Union. Although the Australian Workers Union office in that town was ready and willing to supply him with labour, he and his son passed it by, and interviewed the Industrial Workers of the World representative, who subsequently got him men. Again, men were wanted for two sheds outside Moree, which employ from fifteen to twenty men each, but no application was made to the Australian Workers Union office for them. Only one shed in the western branch, out of approximately 1,000, Applied to me for labour.
– Was nob the secretary of the Sydney Pastoralists’ Union trying to get men from you in Sydney all the time?
– That is, in the central branch. I am speaking of the branch to which I was secretary until the 30th June last. I had only one application from the friends of the honorable member. The two sheds outside Moree to which I have referred got contracting companies to supply men. These contracting companies are being used by the pastoralists to break up the Austra-Han Workers Union. An Industrial Workers of the World member was deputed by a company in Sydney to get the hands needed, and he procured thirty-five men for the two sheds. But before starting they had to take out tickets from the Industrial Workers of the World, and the owners and managers of the stations concerned knew that Industrial Workers of the World men were being sent to them. I have proofs of that statement, no matter how the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Hume may deny that such things hap pened. If the Industrial Workers of the World could be used to break u,p the Aus- tralian Workers Union it would mean millions of pounds to the pastoralists. Recently .Mr. Justice Higgins gave an award, to come into force at the end of the year, which will take £3,000,000 a year out of the pockets of the pastoralists, unless they are able to nobble honorable members opposite. It is worth the while of the pastoralists to use the Industrial Workers of the World against the Australian Workers Union instead of that obsolete and worthless weapon, the Machine Shearers Union. The honorable member for Darwin knows that that union was brought into existence to defeat the Australian Workers Union. Quite a number of sheep-shearing companies have used the Industrial Workers of the World.
-t - Did not your delegate at Moree advise the men to leave the fight to the blowflies?
– The honorable member for Gwydir was opposed in his electorate by Mr. Cecil Last, who last year was an organizer under me, and who went to great trouble to enunciate a policy which was unpopular with a part of the organization, because it was directly opposed to the Industrial Workers of the World. The friends of the honorable member for Gwydir knew that to be so, and yet they placarded the constituency with posters stating that Mr. Cecil Last had said, “ Give the blowflies a chance.” He did not say any such thing.
– Those who heard the . statement have verified it.
– I challenge the honorable member to produce any person who heard the statement made, and to deny that bills were stuck up all over Moree and the adjacent towns asserting that the statement was made.
– If I have only Mr. Cecil Last’s denial to deal with, I am all right.
– The bills that were posted up round about Moree were printed in the Industrial Workers of the World office.
– Mr. Last denied what he said at the Labour League, but had to admit it in Court.
– The Labour man has a fine chance in the Courts, which are composed of friends of the honorable member. Mr. Last was literally butchered by a Court. We never get a fair deal from the Courts.
– What about the £3,000,000 award to which the honorable member has just referred)
– I am speaking of the criminal Courts. Mr. Cecil Last had a writ for libel served on him, though I know that he did not make the statement with which he was charged.
– If the honorable member says that he did not make the statement that has been mentioned, he is saying what is not correct.
– I was at practically the same meeting afterwards, and interviewed substantially the whole of the men.
– I am loath ,to intervene, because the honorable member is new to the forms of debate, but I call his attention to the fact that these personalities are irrelevant to the question under discussion.
– I am sorry if’ I have transgressed the rules of debate, but I was drawn off the track by an interjection that you, sir, allowed.
– I do not allow any interjections, and have repeatedly asked honorable members not to interject. I again appeal to the Committee to refrain from interjections, so that every speaker may have a quiet hearing.
– I withdraw what I said. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has accepted an amendment which is virtually that supported by the Opposition. It has been recognised by him that what we are asking for is only fair. Our position in regard to the Industrial Workers of the World is quite clear. We are up against that organization, but we were fearful that the clause, if passed as it stood, might be used against bond fide trade unions.
– I am aware that the measure has nothing to do with the blowfly pest, though I understand that one of the Win-the-war measures is to be a Bill to prevent blowflies from annoying sheep, and that another is to extract worm nodules from meat. I have no objection to the passing of the measure, although I know that it amount’s to nothing. It has been a useful measure for the Government, and has enabled a number of members to speak of the part the Industrial Workers of the World played at the last election, and on similar matters. I do not wish to discuss the Industrial Workers of the World, and accept the charges made against this party by the honorable’ member for Hindmarsh. We have been told that we are here by reason of the support of Germans and members of the Industrial Workers of the World. I understand that, in my constituency, only some 30 per cent, of the population is honest, the rest being Germans and members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Probably between now and the next election this number will increase. It is curious that the Industrial Workers of the World became associated with this party only on the day and at the hour when we separated from the Prime Minister and his friends. Before that time, were the Industrial Workers of the World and the Germans behind the honorable member for Hindmarsh and others? They were as much behind them then as they are behind us now. As a matter of fact, the Industrial Workers of the World has been used merely as a bogy to win an election, and, as such, has served its purpose. Now it is being. used to create a diversion from the issues confronting .the country. The Prime Minister says that this is a war measure. If it be a measure necessary for the winning of the war, for God’s sake let us pass it quickly. When the Leader of the Opposition said that the Bill was useless, and moved to amend it, the Prime Minister objected that the amendment would have no effect, because the Government, if it wished to bring trade unions within the scope of the measure, could do so by the exercise of its powers under the War Precautions Act. Undoubtedly that is so. The powers of the Government at the pro sent time are unlimited. Therefore there is- no need for this Bill. There is not a line of it which adds in any way to the powers that the Government can exercise at the present time. When I raised that objection to the introduction of the original Act, the Prime Minister said that- it was desirable that the matters to be dealt with should be dealt with by legislation instead of by regulation. These laws would be valueless apart from the special war powers of the Government. This Parliament has no power to pass such laws under ordinary circumstances. They have been passed now, by the exercise of special war powers, and, after the war, will become invalid. Every man in the chamber knows that there is nothing provided for by the Bill that could not be done without it. No man may, under the ordinary laws of the country, incite with impunity to acts of war, or to the performance of criminal acts against life and property. A measure of this kind was not necessary at all, and the Bill means nothing. It is a piece of political fly-paper, introduced to create discussion and to rivet public attention, the time of Parliament being occupied by its consideration while more important matters stand aside. When the original Act. was introduced it was specifically laid down that nothing was to be done but by the will of Parliament and under the law. There must be an accusation, a trial, and proof of the offence; but, under the new provision, it is left to two or three men to decide whether an organization is criminal or not, practically without trial. If I had had my way, there would not have been a single word of discussion, for I would not afford the Government an opportunity of saying that the party on this side opposed the measure in any shape or form. The Bill, however, is a sham, a fraud, and a delusion. On the face of it, the Bill seems a very atrocious one; but I am not in the least afraid of it. It is not really a coercion Bill, but merely pretends to be one. It does not mean to intimidate anybody, and it will hurt no one. The coercion introduced by the honorable member for Flinders was the genuine thing; but, as I say, the measure before us is only intended to frighten people, and does not mean anything. The only effect is to give the Industrial Workers of the World the greatest advertisement it ever had, and the measure is absolutely worthless paper. It is an excellent subject on which to have four or five hours’ discussion, and the Government are only grieved that it will not occupy the attention of the Chamber for another five or six days. If they could only get the attention of Parliament riveted on a few more non-essentials, it would not be so evident that they are absolutely stranded for Win-the-war legislation. A fine opportunity is afforded on the present occasion to the Prime Minister for working off some of his old phrases and terms of denunciation. The right honorable gentleman has forgotten many of these; but that beautiful little thing of his about the objects “bred on the dungheap,” and the other one about the “ sewer rats,” would have read very nicely in to-morrow morning’s newspaper. The Prime Minister ought really to incubate a few new phrases. I shall say no more, because I know we are in the midst of a great national emergency, faced with the greatest troubles that the country ever faced. This Parliament, was returned to deal with the war, and nothing but the war, and for two months nothing else has been dealt with. The measure dealing with the worms to be abstracted from the nodules of beef is a war measure, and the one before us is another. God bless it! Let us have a few more !
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section 6 of the principal Act is amended - (a) by omitting the words “not being a natural-born British subject born in Australia”; and (b) by omitting the words “either of the last two preceding sections” and inserting in their stead the words “ any one of the last three preceding sections, and who fails to satisfy the Attorney-General that he. is a natural-born British subject born in Australia.”
Section proposed to be amended -
Any person not being a natural-born British subject born in Australia, who is convicted of an offence under either of the last two preceding sections, shall be liable, in addition to the punishment imposed upon him for the offence, and either during or upon theexpiration of his term of imprisonment, to be deported from the Commonwealth, pursuant to any order of the Attorney-General.
.- I wish to make sure that the provisions against urging and inciting to the practice of sabotage applies to all persons in the community irrespective of their position - that it refers, for instance, to the cutting down of fruit trees.
– That is irrelevant to the question before us.
– I move -
That the words, “ born in Australia “ in paragraph a be left out.
The effect of the amendment will be to protect the Prime Minister from being deported when he advocates the cutting down of fruit trees or other forms of sabotage.
– This is amusing, but what is the real purpose of the amendment?
– The purpose of the amendment is to give to the British subject, born in any part of the British Empire, the same rights as are possessed by the British subjects born in Australia, so that we may not see what we saw in South Africa during the railway strike, when General Botha deported British subjects from that country. A man or woman who is a British subject from any part of the Empire, and who does anything contrary to law in any part of the Empire, should be proceeded against in the ordinary way, given a fair trial, and, if convicted, punished. I see no reason to distinguish Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen in favour of Australianborn subjects when it is a matter of breaking the law of the land. Not so very long ago, in 1909-10, the Prime Minister was a leading figure in a strike congress in Sydney, and had there been such a law as this, and some of his present colleagues had been in power, he certainly would have been deported.
– Was there any war at that time?
– Yes, with the unions - that great class war which is never-ceasing. Many of . those who now so strenuously advocate these clauses have in their past experiences placed themselves in such a position as would have caused their deportation under a law of this kind. While the present system of society continues we cannot prevent strikes, and I am against placing in the power of this or any other Government the right to declare an association illegal. The amendment of the Prime Minister in the previous clause does make that clause appear better, but it still leaves it in the hands of the Government to deal with a trade union which ia on strike, though it delays the operation in order to first secure the de-registration of the union. In spite of the amendment to which I have referred, trade unionists who are not born in Australia are liable to be deported in strike times.
– Where would you deport Australians to?
– I do not propose to deport any Australians.
– The effect of your amendment is that Australians may be deported.
– I do not wish any British subject to be deported. We know what honorable members mean to achieve under cover of this Bill.
– That is what hurts.
– Dfc does hurt to find people so dense as to think that this proposal will go through.
– It will go through all right.
– It will go through here, but when the Government attempt to put it in operation outside they will discover what the people think about it.
– Is .that a threat?
– No ; it is a- prophecy. Honorable members may profess their great sympathy for the trade union movement, but on the pretence of legislating against the Industrial Workers of the World they are attempting .to secure power to strangle the trade unions. We know what is their intention in connexion with .the legislation that is to follow.
– I do not know whether the honorable member really wishes to accomplish what his amendment will effect if carried. I understood him to say that he proposed to leave out the words “a natural-born British subject born in Australia.” Under the present clause any person “not being a naturalborn British subject born in Australia “ who is convicted of an offence under this Act is liable to be deported ; but there is a difficulty in connexion with the establishment of proof. The onus is thrown on the prosecution of establishing a negative proposition. The clause will not substantially alter the existing law, but will simply make it read that any person who is convicted of an offence under the preceding sections, and fails to satisfy the Attorney-General that he is a naturalbom British subject born in Australia, may be deported. If the honorable member were to succeed in getting the words “ natural-born British subject born in Australia” omitted, he would remove the protection which the law now gives to British subjects born -in Australia. At present no British subject born in Australia can be deported under the Bill, but were the words referred to omitted any Australian convicted under the Act would be liable to deportation.
– I did not mean that.
– In any case a constitutional question arises as to whether an Australian citizen deported can be prevented from returning to Australia. The High Court has given a decision in favour of a person who claimed the right to return to Australia, as a member of the Australian community, and he was held not to be an immigrant, but to be entitled to return to the Commonwealth, notwithstanding the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment.
– I was under a misapprehension, and I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I now wish to insert the words “ not being a natural-born British subject,” which the Government propose to strike out.
– If the honorable member will referto the Act he will see that the words “ not being a natural-born British subject born in Australia “ occur in the first portion of the section we are now amending. The Bill proposes to omit these words from that portion of the section, and to re-insert them later. We are not now altering the section in substance, but are only altering the onus of proof.
– If the honorable member for Barrier wishes to retain the law in its present form, he can achieve that object by voting against the clause. I have no objection to the Bill now thai the Prime Minister has consented to an amendment which safeguards the trade unions.
.- Under the law as it will be amended, if the Committee passes this clause, any man who commits certain crimes, such as inciting to the taking of human life, or the destruction of property will be liable to be deported at the will of the Government unless he can prove that he is a naturalborn British subject born in Australia. What the honorable member for Barrier desires is that it will be sufficient to insure this vile conspirator retaining an asylum in Australia if he can prove that he is a British subject, born anywhere under the British flag. If that be the honorable member’s object, he will attain it by omitting the words “ natural-born British subject born in Australia.” If those words are not inserted where they are now sought to be introduced he will undoubtedly make it more difficult for the Government to deport a man who is coming to Australia perhaps having it in his mind that he is going to commit these crimes against our social being.
Clause agreed to
Clause 5 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18th July (vide page 259), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
.- The Prime Minister, in moving the second reading of this Bill, made very clear the urgent necessity that exists under present conditions for making some permanent arrangement for the protection of the Australian wheat crop. The experience in regard to the harvest of the 1915- 16 season has shown us the tremendous difficulties that confront us in any effort to protect and market such a magnificent crop as we had on that occasion. No man can foresee just exactly when there will be sufficient freight visiting Australian shores to take away our wheat, so that we must at all hazards make provision for permanent storage, and at the same time, I contend, initiate a better and more permanent system of marketing our wheat. The Bill provides for the storage of about one-third of the estimated crop, that is about 50,000,000 bushels, and the cost is estimated at about £2,850,000. The payment is to be spread over ten years, and will amount to about one- twenty-fourth of a penny per bushel on the estimated crop.
It is true that the question of bulk handling is really not introduced by the Bill, yet speaking as one who is interested in the matter, and has lately been engaged in some inquiry in connexion with rural industries in New South Wales, I can say that, though there are some natural objections to bulk handling, the general consensus of opinion is in favour of introducing it as soon as possible. In my opinion Australia will have to embrace it if wheat-growing is to remain one of our leading industries. There are other considerations which should come under our notice, but the silos proposed to be erected ought to form parti of a comprehensive scheme of bulk handling. Even though the cost of the system of silo storage may be very considerable, and falls upon us at a time when we can least afford to bear it, still it is essential in order to give effect to a bulk handling scheme, or at least the principles of the scheme. Farmers may differ as to exactly what action the Federal Government should take in the matter of permanent storage, but the vast majority of them are agreed that we must go on and deal with it now. Though I believe in the principles of bulk handling I feel that owing to the difficulty confronting the wheat-grower in Australia at the present time, and the insecure feeling in the minds of many people as to whether Australia will be able to continue increasing the area under wheat, and specializing in wheat-growing, we should carefully examine the scheme and see just exactly what are its defects. Thus while giving effect to its principles in a modified form to the extent of providing for storage of one-third of the normal crop, we may conduct some experiment in regard to bulk handling before entirely departing from the old system. It must, not be forgotten that while the farmers will be called upon to pay about £300,000 a year for the storage of onethird of the crop, the care of the greater part of the remainder for which storage is not now available in the shape of adequate sheds or other protection will fall upon the farmers. Therefore I should like to see in this Bill some provision by which a liberal arrangement can be made to assist the farmers in taking cooperative action to deal with this remaining two-thirds of the crop. Since the pooling system, notwithstanding its many defects - defects not in principle, but in details of administration - is apparently going to stay, it is hardly fair, if I understand the position aright, that the responsibility of providing this adequate and all-necessary storage for the bulk of the crop should remain an additional charge on the growers. If we are to continue the pooling system, if we are to continue systems, as I hope they will be continued, of the Commonwealth and the States agreeing to guarantee at least a fair price to the actual producers of wheat - if such principles are to be given effect to in the future and some system of Commonwealth and State co-operative marketing is to be introduced, it will be essential, as an honorable member put it last night, to provide a plan by which we may retain, not only in the interest of the producers, but in the interest of the consumers also, a portion of each crop until another crop looms up. As a man who is almost entirely dependent upon the actual work of wheat-growing, I believe that the majority of wheat-growers would be willing, in return for that concession from the general community, to make concessions, not only in regard to this reserve, which I think ought to be established and maintained, but also, in consequence of the community, as it were, guaranteeing them against absolute loss in the work of production, in regard to “fixing at least a payable productive price to the grower. I believe that just now it is very hard to determine what the future outlook of the wheat-grower may be. “We know perfectly well that the freight problem will remain with us for many years after the war is ended. We know that the Australian grower, being the most distant competitor, is already heavily handicapped. I am afraid that, as a result of ‘this deadly war, teeming millions of people throughout the world will have their standards of living lowered, and it may be that many of the markets hitherto open to us will be closed because of breadless people being compelled again to revert to vegetable substitutes for wheat bread. We know, too, that it is extremely likely in the old countries that never again will the authorities allow their arable lands to go out of production whilst the danger of war threatens them; that never again will they allow themselves to become so wholly dependent upon foreign foodstuffs. Therefore, I think it may be said with perfect safety that the Australian wheat-grower has no certainty of being able to maintain himself as a prosperous producer. I do not think that, at this stage, we should put a very great handicap upon him in consequence of the dangers which certainly threaten. We know perfectly well that if State guarantees are to be given they cannot be given at a price which is far ahead of what the world’s markets may show wheat to be worth. All that we can hope for is that the Federal and State Governments, in endeavouring to preserve this important industry, may use every legitimate means to cheapen all the requisites of wheat production, to cheapen as far as it is humanly possible the marketing facilities both at Home and abroad. They can reduce the middleman’s profit to a minimum. In that way, and also by providing advances to farmers at lower rates than can be obtained by co-operative or individual action, they may be able to maintain a guaranteed maximum price, which would exceed the price obtainable under the old order if it were .re-instituted after the war. Honorable members will see that the community, whilst taking a responsibility in connexion with the guaranteeing of a minimum price, must not be discouraged by any rapacious attempt on the part of us farmers to obtain more than we are legitimately entitled to. I think that in so acting we would only be destroying our hope of the development of the big principles which are exemplified in the pooling scheme, and from which, notwithstanding its many defects in administration, we as a class have benefited immeasurably. It must be apparent to anybody that if we were to insist upon 4s. per bushel being guaranteed to the grower, and the price were to go back even to the average price obtained by us in normal times, the community would be called upon- with a £40,000,000 crop such as we had in 1915-16 - to face a deficit of anything from £8,000,000 to £10,000,000. I am sure that the common sense of the farmers will not allow their cause to be placed in such an untenable position. Whilst it is the most difficult thing in the world to get even a number of practical farmers to agree as to what the actual cost of wheat production is, yet we know to what extent the wheat industry flourished before the war and what prices were obtained. Whilst I quite agree with many of my class that it is easy to show that under existing conditions - with all the requisites to farming work so dear and with the cost piling up in every direction - we require a tremendous price per bushel to grow wheat, still the average farmer will be content to make his calculation on average conditions and not to put forward demands based upon abnormal con- ditions which would prove the industry to be utterly unprofitable. The average price which farmers in New South Wales received for their wheat for the ten years immediately preceding the war was 3s. 8£d. f.o.b. That, it was calculated, was equal, on the average, to about 3s. 4d. per bushel on rail; and, as the average crop was under 12 bushels to the acre, a great number of farmers managed, at all events, to live when they obtained an even lower price. Having regard to the fact that out of that return of 3s. 4d. per bushel on rail the cost of road cartage - which, on the average, would amount to from 2d. to 3d. per bushel - as well as the cost of bags, twine, and farm implements, which represented no inconsiderable sum, had to be provided, it must be apparent that wheat-growers were actually producing wheat on the farm for about 2s. 9d. per bushel. In many instances the net return was even less. I do not say it was a payable price. It waa not. Then, again, a large proportion! of that wheat was produced by share farmers, so that the actual work of tillage - the putting in and taking off of the crop, without the attendant expenses of marketing - was done on the average by such men for less than ls. 6d. per bushel. While it was not a payable price, we, nevertheless, made. much progress in wheatfarming during those years. Failures were many, and if the present abnormal prices for all farming requisites continue, I dare say failures will be numberless.
Under this new system, which, I hope, will be of effective benefit to the farmers, I trust we shall not spoil our case by asking for too much. The difficulties that confronted the wheat-grower during those years were very great, but, as I have said, we made some progress. I believe it is possible for Governments to interpose for the farmer’s protection, and to bring about a condition of affairs that will at least enable him to advance still further, and to provide for the development of that new production to which we are all looking for-‘ ward, even in connexion with wheatraising, as one of the means by which we may meet the tremendous obligations incurred during the war. I believe that the Government proposal to begin the work of providing permanent storage is a sound one. The cost of providing adequate protection for the bulk of the crop, and, perhaps, for even more than a year, may have to be undertaken. The tax upon the farmer which this measure will involve will be considerable. It will represent about £2 ls. Ss. per 1,000 bags of wheat, up to a production of 50,000,000 bags. That is a very considerable amount, especially when we add to it, as we must, the cost of supplying adequate means for the storage and stacking of the bulk of the crop.
Whilst the general principles of silo storage are indorsed by experts, the system is one of which the average farmer has had very little practical experience. I would ask the Minister in charge of this Bill to carefully consider whether some provision should not be made, by arrangement with the States, for assistance in the storage of the greater quantity of our crop. . The responsibility is one which, I presume, will rest also upon the grower. I am personally aware that much qf the loss suffered during the disastrous time that we have had our wheat stored, for the most part, in the open, has been due to the storage conditions being of the most primitive character. Where millions of bags of wheat are grown, it is necessary to provide at railway stations, especially in flat country, raised foundations for the wheat stacks. That is a matter with which we should deal. We have had a very big and expensive object lesson, and every assistance should be given in providing for proper foundations and dunnage as well as for suitable roofing material. That in itself will be a big problem. Ifc was an expensive matter in 1915-16-17; but, judging by the price of iron and other requisites, the cost will be infinitely greater during the coming year. The Governnent admit that this is not a measure to provide for the introduction of bulk handling.
– The report on which the Bill is based bristles with recommendations in regard to bulk handling, and it is framed on the basis of the ultimate adoption of that system.
– Although I am an advocate of the bulk handling of wheat, I think that, until the many uncertainties regarding the future of the wheat industry shall have been dissipated - as I hope they will be - a smaller proportion of the total proposed expenditure should be devoted to the construction of silos; and that, until the experimental stage has been reached, and these and bigger questions have been settled, the fullest help should be given to producers in making adequate provision for the storage of their wheat.
– In accepting the Bill we accept the principle of silo storage.
– Most of us are agreed that the bulk handling of wheat is the system which must be followed in the future if the industry is to be developed as we desire; but what we have to consider now is our position in regard to the institution of that system by this measure, which provides for silo storage to the extent of only 50,000,000 bushels, and, to that extent only, commits us to the principle of bulk handling.
– Does the honorable member not think, as a practical farmer, that the Government are justified in testing the principle by providing for silo storage ?
– I believe, from investigations I have made, that so far as the efficiency and cheapness of the system is concerned, the bulk handling of wheat has gone beyond the experimental stage. But I am very much concerned, and, I am sorry to say, very doubtful whether, in the years to come, we are going to see in Australia any very great extension of our wheat production. . On the contrary, as the result of some of the bigger problems I have touched upon, I think it is necessary that we should go slowly just now in the matter of the institution of the bulkhandling system. It may be that readjustments may be forced upon us, and that farmers now specializing in wheat production may find it necessary, in their own interests as well as in the interests of the country, to become mixed farmers. It may be that it will be found impossible for Australia to continue to be a profitable wheat grower for foreign markets. I think that we can indorse the principle of permanent storage set out in this Bill. If the wheat industry of Australia is to thrive, as I hope it will, and if the newer and better principles are adopted, and a proportion of our wheat is held in reserve, not only to enable the consumer to maintain an equality of prices, but to assist in preserving industrial peace, and also to assist the producers in time of drought, I think that the institution of silo storage to the extent provided for in this Bill will be thoroughly justified.
– Will the honorable member give the House the benefit of his knowledge and say what a farmer requires to receive per bushel for his wheat in order to make wheat growing pay ?
– I have assisted in the examination of scores of witnesses, all practical men, upon that point. Honorable members will have the words of those witnesses before them very shortly; but I may be permitted to say that to arrive at the exact cost of producing a bushel of wheat is a most difficult problem.
– The honorable member will probably agree with what I said yesterday, that the Australian consumer should get his wheat cheaper than he is getting it to-day.
– Although, perhaps, a majority of my brother farmers are against me, I have advocated throughout that if the community is to go on pledging itself - for that is what it is doing by the pool system - to provide advances, and above all, to insure a payable productive price on the farm, which is essential to the development of our wheat industry, the wheat farmers must be prepared to give the community a quid pro quo. We cannot afford to treat the masters of the parental Governments, who institute such systems for our benefit and protection, as though they were foreigners. Receiving concessions from them we must give them concessions in return. I believe that when they fully understand the matter, the vast majority of our farmers will be only too willing to do that.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong has asked me what is the cost of producing a bushel of wheat. Before I could answer the honorable member, although I claim to be a practical man, iti would be necessary for him to tell me where the wheat is to be grown, and if I had a knowledge of the local conditions, I might then be able to give him some- idea of the cost of producing a bushel of wheat in that locality. You may have two men of equal capacity farming equal areas of land in different districts with equal plants. They may put an equal amount of labour into the work, and continue farming the same areas for three, four, or five years, and, under the system of averages, the wheat production by one of these men might cost immeasurably more than that of the other. One may be operating in a district in which failures occur only once in ten, twelve, or fourteen years, and the other in a district in which three or four failures may occur in that period. The lost labour, the higher cost of horse feed and other accessories, will all tend to make the cost of production greater in the one case than in the other. Though this is, perhaps, beside the question, I must say that it is a very foolish policy to endeavour to grow wheat in very poor districts, no matter how apparently cheap the land in those districts is, whilst we have immeasurable areas of good fertile land capable, under ordinary conditions and treatment, of producing infinitely better crops than can be produced from the poorer land.
I trust that this question of wheat storage will be pushed on with, and that committees of practical men will be consulted in regard to all that may be necessary to protect the coming crop. I believe that even if the Government got to work at once only a very small portion of the com- ing crop could be placed in the silos. If the pooling system is to continue, and I hope it will, and if the concessions which the public will demand, and which I believe the farmers will be found willing to give, . are given, the whole cost, either of the silos or of providing adequate storage within sheds or in the open, should not fall upon the producers alone. This might well be regarded as a great national work, required for the security and well-being of all, and a fair contribution towards its cost ought to be made from the public funds. All sorts of estimates have been given of the destruction of wheat by mice, but no one can say accurately what the damage will ultimately prove to be, and we do not know how much the coming crop will be affected. Some persons think that the mice plague will disappear because of the intervention of natural causes which are not understood; but I am afraid that we shall have the plague in an aggravated form during the coming season throughout the best wheat-growing districts of the country, and that the mice will commence their ravages directly the grain ripens.
– In some districts the mice have disappeared.
– In some of the New South Wales farms they are nibbling everything except the mortgages. Thousands of acres of the best crops” were levelled last year by hailstorms, not a grain being harvested; but there has been such a tremendous growth of clover that the mice have been provided % with a limitless food supply. Therefore it is hard to say whether the removal of the wheat stacks will put an end to the plague. Mice ave being trapped in tens of thousands npt far from my farms. Yet they are still in swarms, destroying our reserves of hay, and providing an argument against many of the accepted theories about storing. I am afraid that in the coming season the mice plague will be worse than it is now. I mention the matter to show the need for better protection with sheet iron, and foundations o.t concrete, or raised earthen embankments and floors of macadam or concrete. It is in the interests of the country as well as of the . farmers that improved methods of storage shall, be adopted. It is almost impossible to obtain galvanized iron now.’ The other day £50 was paid for half a ton of it. Wire netting, too, is from 200 to 250 per cent, above its ordinary price, and corrugated iron almost unprocurable. Thin rolled sheet iron should be provided as a means of protecting the new and the old stacks, especially the former:
South Australian representatives have stated that in certain climates wheat, will keep better in the open if stacked on a proper foundation, and covered with a decent roof. I saw wheat being stacked in a very large shed, and as each layer of bags was put down enough grain was emptied out to fill up the space between the bags, and the president of one of the. most successful milling companies in the south, who was concerned in this storing, told me that the company would not lose two bushels o’f wheat through the depredation of mice, and that the bags when taken out would be as good as when pub into the sheds. The Government should not impose too heavy a burden on the wheat-growers in connexion with the erection of silos, but should afford adequate and timely assistance, using its resources to provide the materials necessary for the proper protection of the wheat. I am in favour of the bulk-handling of wheat, but, because of the present uncertainty, and of the financial difficulties which confront the farming class, I think that we should “hasten slowly” in that matter. In the opinion of the majority of experts, bulkhandling is the best system; but for the moment we should concentrate our energies on the difficulties which confront us, and it will tax our resources to adequately deal with them.
.- I shall not deal with this question from the farmers-‘ point of view, bub as the representative of a large constituency I am interested in knowing where the Government intends to get the money which ib is to advance to the States - a sum which, we are told, will amount to nearly £3,000,000. Is it to be taken from the proceeds of the war loan, or is a new loan to be floated?
– Will the Government give that information, seeing that they have not said how they propose to get the money needed for the repatriation of returned soldiers?
– The Prime Minister is not present just now,, and he it is, I understand, who decides all these matters, without reference to his colleagues. Do honorable members realize what it will cost to ‘erect 1,000 silos in different parts of the Commonwealth for the storage of one-third of the wheat harvest? There are many ugly rumours afloat to the effect that a number of persons are interested in this matter who are likely to make a pot of money out of it. They desire that .the States shall have the expenditure of the money involved in the undertaking, an’d that the Commonwealth shall exercise no control over it. If the work be a. necessary one, why. should not the Commonwealth control it ?
– Under this Bill the Commonwealth will have a dominating influence.
– It all depends upon who is its representative.
– Surely the honorable member does not regard this Government as capable of carrying out a big work of this character.
– Then what Government is capable of carrying it out?
– I do not know.
– The position of the Commonwealth; representative upon the Board is too big a one for any man to occupy. I understand that there ‘ will be a number of farmers upon the Board-
– No fear.
– I have heard it said that there must be practical men upon it.
– Who does the honorable member want upon it?
– There should be upon it more than one representative of the Commonwealth. I know that the Commonwealth representative will have the right of veto, but in my judgment that is not sufficient. There are some men at the back of this undertaking whom I would not trust. Like the honorable member for Wakefield, I question the wisdom of embarking upon this undertaking at the present time. This is the first occasion in the history of the Commonwealth upon which we have been unable to obtain ships to transport our wheat overseas. If the war were to terminate in the immediate future I do not think that we would be in such a bad position next year in the matter of freights as we are now. I would further remind honorable members that we can use only certain types of ships to carry our wheat in bulk.
– What does the honorable member suggest ?
– I suggest that we should continue as we are now. It is all very well to bring down a Bill for the purpose of shunting the whole of the responsibility attaching to this matter on to the States. But the Commonwealth should accept full responsibility for the undertaking. I trust that they will insist upon being consulted before any State is allowed to enter . into any contract.
– The Government must approve of any contract.
– I hope that they will take all- steps that may be necessary to safeguard the public funds, and to avoid the possibility of scandal.
– I intend to support the Bill. Already Great Britain has purchased a huge quantity of our wheat, and consequently it is up to the Government to safeguard that wheat. We have no alternative but to conserve the grain that we have already sold to the Mother Country, and to insure the safekeeping of the forthcoming crop, which we hope to sell to the Imperial authorities. At the present time many economists in the Old Country are seriously discussing whether it would not be wise to establish a reserve of wheat as a basis for our credit, instead of a reserve of gold. I have been rather surprised in listening to the congratulations showered upon thb Government for the excellent way in which they are endeavouring to carry win-the-war measures, after the trying experience which I had in my own constituency during the recent election campaign. Particularly is my remark applicable to the statements of the honorable member for Cook and the honorable member for Yarra.
– What did I do?
– The honorable member’s speech was full of congratulations to the Government for the able manner in which they have dealt with this important question. It is quite refreshing for me to listen to the honorable member’s remarks in view of his recent deliverances in the Denison electorate.
– I hope to visit it again.
– The climate will do the honorable member a lot of good. There are many other matters connected with the conservation of wheat to which we might profitably direct our attention. In this connexion I would suggest that it would be wise for the Government to insure the local gristing of as much grain as possible, so that we may be in a position to send flour to the Old Country.
Every State in Australia is greatly in need of bran, pollard,, and other byproducts of wheat; and if the Government were to do the gristing here it would be of great advantage to the community, while supplying the British people with the flour they require.
– That is being done now.
– But it could, I think, be done to a greater extent.- Recently, the Hobart Marine Board offered to store a quantity of wheat free of charge, provided it was gristed in the city, where I think provision is made for about 10,000 tons; and the offer ought to be accepted. Recently I read an intensely interesting article in regard to the carriage of commodities from Australia after the war, and it was suggested that would be necessary to construct very large ships indeed, as it would not pay to run small vessels. Seeing that ships of great tonnage cannot get out of Melbourne or Sydney with full cargoes without great risk, it struck me that it would be advisable to have the ships’ loads completed in Hobart, where, fortunately for Australia, there is a harbor in which any ship afloat can sail right up to the wharf without trouble. That is a strong argument in favour of the Government taking the opportunity to utilize the space offered free, of charge by the Hobart Marine Board, especially in view of the fact that wheat can be kept there for an indefinite period. At Hobart there is no trouble with the mice plague of the mainland, and wheat could be conserved without any great expense, with the most beneficial result to the community at large.
– If the whole of Tasmania were made into a silo, it would not hold the wheat of Australia !
– That may be the opinion of the honorable member, coming as he does from an electorate like Maranoa, where all is land and there are no people; but in Tasmania we not only have the people but very rich lands.
I hope that the Minister in charge of the wheat question will use his influence in the direction of having some of the damaged wheat sold at a cheaper rate in order to provide food for pigs and poultry.
– Wheat is sold at all sorts of rates - as low as a few shillings a bag.
– That may be in South Australia, but it is not so in the other States.
– At country mills wheat can be got at any price.
– I do not dispute the statement, but the wheat is required particularly in and about the larger cities, where a number of returned soldiers have gone in for poultry farming, and the question of feeding has become a serious one. 1 was rather surprised to read a statement by a responsible State Minister, in which he refused to reduce the price of wheat; the Federal authorities ought, I think, to use their influence, and point out to that gentleman how essential it is that something should be done to relieve the pressure on the pockets of people who are struggling for their very existence
.- The a Government propose to devote £3,000,000 to these silos, and yet we have really no information as to how the money is to be spent. The honorable member for Wannon said that there had been a report from some officials on the question, but of that report we know nothing, and we do not know where, or of what material, the silos axe to be constructed. Those honorable members who, like myself, are in business must know very well that at present there is certain material necessary to such work that it is impossible to obtain. Of course, I have a general idea as to how the silos will be formed.- Possibly the ground portion will be of concrete, and as to that there will be no difficulty; but if galvanized iron is to be used for the upper structure, it must be remembered that that commodity is now £72 to £80 a ton, whereas before the war it was from £19 to £21 per ton, and that it can scarcely be obtained at any price. Of course, it will be seen that if the necessary material cannot be obtained, our object in passing the measure will be defeated. We are told that the States cannot obtain money for the purpose of duplicating railway lines, which are required for the carriage of wheat, and this Government was elected for the purpose of curtailing expenditure. Yet one oftheir first proposals is to have a vast expenditure in regard to which we are asked to vote in the dark. Never was a proposal of the kind made with so- little information available, and it would appear that Parliament is losing its control over the finances. ‘ I do not- say that the silos will not be of any benefit, because I think that, ‘with their aid, after the war we shall be able to store so much wheat that the gentlemen with brass plates, who are so anxious to look after the farmers, will not be able to rig the market.
If ‘ we had ‘proper storage arrangements, we should always have in Australia at least twelve months’ supply of wheat, or the means of knowing twelve months ahead what wheat we had, either growing or in store - an important consideration in a country so subject to droughts. We should also know that the markets would not be rigged, and that the London parity would not go up from day to day at the dictation of Corn-lane. Ever since my boyhood days the prices have been fixed in Corn-lane, and the market rigged every day. By establishing these silos, we should be able to keep ‘a regular price for wheat, and the silos would assist bulk storage. That is a subject” about which we have very little information.
If we adopt bulk storage, arrangements will have to be made for transhipment, if we are to use the -present class of ships. A large quantity of wheat would have to be carried to make it pay, and it could not be carried in the hold of an iron ship as ordinary cargo, because in that class of ship there is so much sweating, owing to climatic changes. Vessels would have to be specially built for the purpose, or the holds of the vessels prepared to receive the wheat, and even then, when they reached ports like Hull, Liverpool, London, or Cardiff, they would find no means to unload them. We have received no information whatever from the Government on these points. Special rolling-stock would have to be constructed to carry wheat in bulk on our railways. The ordinary 10- ton truck would have to have its sides built up to increase its capacity, and even then there would be no means of handling the wheat on arrival, at Sydney,, Melbourne, or Newcastle. The question is a very big one, and honorable members do not seem to realize what the Government are asking the House to do.
I am very doubtful whether I should not have to vote against the Bill if it came to a division, on account pf the utter absence of any information on the subject. None of us have seen the report of the six commissioners who were appointed to deal with the question, and we have had no opportunity to discuss or criticise it. Be-“ fore acceding to the proposal of the Government to start such a gigantic undertaking as this at so critical a period in the history of Australia, so far as the finances are concerned, honorable members ought to compel the Government to give them more information than has so far been given. The farming community seem to have a great influence on some honorable members who sit on the other side, but it strikes me that the consumers will reap no benefit from this scheme at all. Wheat is still 4s. 9d. a bushel, and bread is much dearer here than in France, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong pointed out yesterday. I do not know how honorable members get on when they try to explain to their constituents the high price of bread and meat. At the same time, we are told by the press that the owners of stock are going to keep their cattle on the hoof because the cool stores are full up. Although we have had bountiful seasons, the Australian ‘consumer gets no benefit, but has to pay extortionate prices for the necessaries of life. I feel that I am justified in asking the Government for more information before they take the serious step of spending £3,000,000 on this project, when the outside public are clamouring for economy.
The Treasurer is a very nice old gentleman, an affable old fellow, but he is about the most pessimistic creature that ever held the position of Treasurer of any country. He is supposed to be fathering the scheme, but I notice that he has been very quiet about it.- I am very doubtful whether he will not put his foot down at the last moment and say that he cannot find the money unless further information is forthcoming. The States are discharging men, and works are being left partly finished. They will deteriorate seriously unless more money is spent on them; and we also learn that the Treasurer is urging the States to return to the Commonwealth the £18,000,000 which was lent to them, and some of which falls due in December. In the face of all this, the Government say they are going to help to win the war by spending £3,000,000 on a project about which the House is absolutely devoid of information. The only persons who seem to know anything; about it are a few members representing farming districts. I do not blame them.
Honorable members opposite have just been returned from the election, and they wish to justify the vote that was given to them, but the consumers of Australia should have a greater share of the bounty of Providence than they are getting at the present time. Bread is dearer than it has ever been, and yet mice are allowed to eat wheat rather than that the local consumer should get his flour at a reasonable rate. Now the Government propose to spend £3,000,000 to .assist in maintaining the present high prices. The Government will agree “with me that this scheme has been brought forward hastily, and the information furnished to the House to justify the spending of £3,000,000 is so meagre that no honorable member who thinks over the matter seriously will sanction the expenditure until he is furnished with fuller particulars.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Poynton) adjourned.
Motion” (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to supplement very briefly ±he remarks I sought to make this morning in regard to my reasons for saying that I believed the overseas vote had been manipulated in the distribution. “ The Minister for Home and Territories suggested that I had not facts to support my statement. I wish to submit the only facts that ‘ are at my disposal, and they are the newspaper returns of the election figures. Not for one moment do I impugn the honesty of the administration. Never have., I suggested that the honorable member for Angas is in any way responsible for anything that may have taken place. Every member of the House, and especially members on this side, believe that the honorable member would not associate himself with any maladministration of the Act, but I shall submit reasons for my belief that the overseas vote was not properly distributed. Perth is credited with 3,119 votes; Brisbane, 2,885; Fawkner, 2,626; and Fremantle, 2,461. Those four constituencies received the highest number of oversea votes; all the others received under 2,000, and some under 1,000. “Whilst I believe that Brisbane has done its share well in regard to enlistment, yet if one adds to the 2,885 votes the men who have returned, the men who have been killed or are missing, and the men who could not vote - because there must have been a percentage of men who could not vote - one must conclude that Brisbane did remarkably well, so well indeed that some other districts show up in a very bad light. Having regard to what was done in other capital cities, either Brisbane did very much more than its share or other capital cities have been very remiss in their enlistments. For instance, the average for South Sydney and West Sydney - the only two contested divisions of that city - was 1,674. The total for Melbourne was 2,050 ; for Hind marsh, 1,960; Boothby, 1,912; Denison, 1,150 ; and Perth, 3,119 ; and for the two divisions of Brisbane the average was 2,3S0. Those figures show either that Brisbane and Perth have had remarkable success in their enlistments or - as, in my opinion, is the case - they have been credited with many more votes than they are entitled to. I am confirmed in that impression by the fact that the figures shown in the country divisions .are not at all comparable. For instance, “the honorable member for Lilley would not agree that only 1,726 men enlisted from that division, and nobody who knows the district would suggest that its enlistments were less than those of Brisbane to the extent of 1,100. Again, the honorable member for Moreton would not admit that only 1,374 men went from his division.
– What have the actual votes to do with the enlistments?
– I am justifying my statement that the votes were manipulated in their distribution. I do not for a moment believe £hat Brisbane enlisted proportionately 1,500 more men than did the Moreton district. . If we look at the divisions represented by Ministers, we find that Bendigo received 1,344 votes; Parramatta, 1,401; Bass, 937; Gwydir, 1,437; Angas, 871; Balaclava, 1,601 ; and Darling Downs, 1,650 ; or an average for . the seven contested Ministerial seats of 1,320. I cannot believe that the recruiting figures for Brisbane and Perth were so absolutely superior to those of other divisions. I find that Flinders received 1,830 votes; and Henty, 1,571. The constituency represented by the Leader of the Opposition was credited with 1,613 votes, but no one will contend that that figure nearly, represents the number of enlistments in the Yarra electorate.
– Richmond alone sent, double that number of men to the front. They pay allotment money to the dependants of more soldiers than that, number from one post office in the district.
– What would the man in the street infer from these figures ?
– I think he would say that the comparison was wrongly made.
– I have a firm conviction, and I am not alone in that conviction, that if they had known a few days earlier that they needed only another sixteen votes to defeat me for Brisbane, they would have found those votes.
– That is a reckless slander, and I hope you are ashamed of it.
– I make my statement quite clearly and quite plainly, and I make it because, as I said yesterday, I think the electoral affairs of this Commonwealth, ought to be kept free from any suspicion of maladministration.
Here is my suggestion as to how the difficulty arose : ‘ I may be wrong, but it is . the only explanation that can satisfy me, in view of the fact that I do not think the officers were responsible for any tricks. I suggest that the officers who counted those votes, or allotted them on the other side, could not have known the divisions intimately enough to be aware of the boundaries, and that the votes were allotted according to the addresses given by the soldiers. It is quite probable that a large number of men who came to Brisbane and enlisted there gaye as their address, “ Enoggera, Brisbane,” and, as a matter of fact, Enoggera is not in Brisbane at all, but is in Lilley. The same remark could be applied to Albion, as a postal address, although Albion is not in Brisbane division, but in Lilley. Some enlisted from South Brisbane,’ and the proper postal address would be “Morningside, Brisbane,” or “ Wynnum, Brisbane.” But neither of these places is in Brisbane. This is shown by the fact that Oxley division only shows something like an enlistment of 1,876, or 1,000 less than Brisbane. I do not claim that Brisbane did 1,000 better than Oxley, or 1,100 better than Lilley, or 1,500 better than Moreton. Obviously, the votes were allotted according to the postal addresses given by the men, and that was not the correct basis for allotment. I hope, therefore, .that if any subsequent’ poll is taken under similar circumstances, this will not occur again. I claim that the men’s vote should be allotted to the divisions in which they live, as residence there is the qualification for enrolment. If this had been done in the recent election, I am sure that the figures for Brisbane and Perth would have been different. I have nothing more to say, other than that I hope that care will be taken to see that there is more nearly a proper and true distribution of the overseas vote in any subsequent poll that may be taken.
– I understand that the honorable member has changed the tone of his address to-night, because I gathered from’ his previous remarks that he held the view that there had been a deliberate manipulation of the vote. To-night, the honorable member takes the stand that there was some blunder, and that the Act itself was wrong. In the Act, machinery .was provided for the” appointment of scrutineers to allot the votes to certain districts. I gather, therefore, that the honorable member has withdrawn his aspersions and doubt as to the honesty of the administration of the Act.
– You are quite wrong.
– As a matter of fact, I must take it that the honorable member now withdraws the observations he made last night.
– I made no such aspersions.
– I must take it that the honorable member now assumes that the Act has not worked as satisfactorily in the allotment of the votes to the various divisions as the honorable member desired. The Act provided that the votes were to be allotted according to the addresses of the men on the naval or military roll. The honorable member will remember that the vote was not according to the enrolment. The franchise was ‘ given to men twenty-one years of age, and entitled to be on the roll, whether they were or not. That excluded the possibility of voting according to the divisions, because the class of voter abroad was not limited to persons enrolled on divisions. Speaking from memory, I think that, at . the time the referendum was taken, something like 20,000 men could not say for what division they were enrolled; so it was decided to adopt the principle which the House sanctioned.
– Therefore, the officers could allot those 20,000 votes where they chose.
– I am now dealing with the errors that were possible under the referendum voting; but which, as it was not voting by divisions, could not affect the result. In order to secure absolute fairness at the last election, some one representing the Leader of the Opposition was nominated to act as scrutineer. Mr. McGrath, a member of the party, was chosen,, and Mr. Downer was nominated by the Prime Minister under the terms of the Act, to act as scrutineer on behalf of the Ministerial candidates. These scrutineers were,- or could be, present from day to day. They saw all that was being done, and, when the work was completed, Mr. McGrath, unofficially and officially, certified that the scrutiny was conducted in accordance with the Act. A communication to that effect was sent by both scrutineers; but it has not reached Mr. Oldham yet. Mr. McGrath and Mr. Downer, however, signed this telegram, which is now being sent out in connexion with other correspondence -
We certify that the checking, allocation, scrutiny, and counting in connexion with the recent Commonwealth elections have been conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral (War Time) Act, and the Regulations thereunder.
That is a sufficient assurance as to the bona fides , at all events, of the allotment of the vote. The honorable member also mentioned last night that there were some votes in his district allotted to the wrong. party, and he complained about recounts, as if recounts in two br three districts were made in order to find out what the soldiers’ votes in those districts, were, and what number would be required to turn the scale. As a matter of fact, the recounts in Brisbane, Macquarie, and Moreton were carried out on the initiative of the Chief Electoral Officer. He. has a statutory discretion under the Act, but if the voting is reasonably close in any districts he ia obliged, to have a recount! in those districts. It was discovered in the recount in the case of Brisbane that about thirty votes from one polling place had been given wrongly to Mr. Plane, the opponent of the honorable member. Therefore the recount, which was, according to the honorable member, carried out with the sinister object of ascertaining whether the Ministerialists were in danger, actually brought out the fact that the honorable member had been practically deprived of thirty votes which should have been assigned to him.
– I knew of those thirty votes a week before the officers did.
– There is, in the case of Brisbane, undoubtedly a number of soldiers’ votes in excess of the average for the divisions. The honorable member must remember that all members of the Australian Imperial Force over twentyone years of age were entitled to vote, and , naturally a considerable number were not on the electoral rolls, while many had assigned their places of residence, not according to their permanent, residences, but according to the places where they had spent a month or six weeks just before enlisting. . The result has been that in Fremantle? for instance, there was a considerable number in excess of the average polled by the soldiers in the divisions. Many- men who enlisted in the cities did not give their parents’ residences, but gave the places in which they had resided for a month’ or three months before enlisting. In the case of Brisbane there were 2,885 votes as against Batman with 1,83*1 and Angas, which the honorable member quoted, with between 800 and 900 votes. The anomaly in regard to Angas might be explained by the fact that there is a considerable number of men of alien origin in that electorate - something like 8,000 or 9,000 Germans - which fact might have had an effect on the number of men at the Front. The figures in regard to Macquarie - one of the districts in which a recount took place - are 1,002. If one motive in having a recount was to endeavour to strengthen the position of the Ministerialists bv a manipulation of the soldiers’ votes, how is it that there were only 1,002 votes for Macquarie, a number which is considerably under the average of the divisional voting of the soldiers, while in the other case the number was nearly three times greater than there? I cannot see how the honorable member’s common sense should have allowed him to assume that there was some deliberate manipulation of the soldiers’ votes. Tonight he says that nothing of the sort took place, but I can tell the honorable member that everything was done under the legislation passed to meet the difficult circumstances presented by the counting of the votes of the men at the Front. No other system would have given an approximation of a reasonable estimation of the feeling of the soldiers in relation to the electoral districts. The information given to the soldiers was supplied by the Leader of the Opposition, as well as by the Prime Minister. In the Department a list was drawn up containing the names, occupations, and political standing of the various candidates, and it was certified as correct by both sides, and cabled and posted to Great Britain. In addition to the circulation of sufficient lists to give one source of information to each eight men in Egypt, France and .the United Kingdom, so that any member of the Australian Imperial Force who desired to get accurate information could obtain it, the list was also published by a great number of newspapers which circulated in the camps and reached the men at the Front. In the circumstances, the honorable member is not justified in having even the remotest! suspicion that .there was any manipulation of votes. Certainly no error was discovered which would prejudice his position in Brisbane. I need add nothing more, except to say that’ the statement made by Mr. McGrath’ and Mr. Downer, and certified to as being correct, is borne out by the actual facts of this election. Everything has been done according to the regulations, and in conformity with the wax-time measure itself.
– I wish to add one word ito what has been said by my colleague, just to complete the chain of evidence which destroys completely the allegations made by the honorable member for Brisbane last night and to-night. We have heard the word “manipulation” trip from the tongue of the honorable member very glibly during the two days. I marvel that he raises the matter at all, so far as it affects Brisbane. I fancy that if I had received such a political smack in the eye as he has received I should not have paraded it before the House and the country as he insists on doing. However, he has his own method of doing things, and does not seem to mind parading the fact before the country that he represents a minority of ‘the voters of Brisbane. The outstanding feature is that the Labour vote in Brisbane was about 700 below the National vote at the recent election.
– The what?
– I Understand that the National senators polled 700 votes or thereabouts more than the Labour senators did.
– Not at all. I got several hundred votes above the votes obtained by the highest National senator.
– Precisely, and thereby, another bit of wonderment is started. What manipulating did the honorable member do to get those votes above those of his fellows? Was there any manipulation in Brisbane?
– It was owing to personal qualifications, no doubt.
– May I suggest that there may have been manipulation in Brisbane to account for the appearance of the honorable member here ?
– That is an unfair thing for the honorable member to say about the electoral officers in Brisbane.
– By all methods of fair deduction - assuming that, we may make inferences in this matter - if there has been manipulation as the honorable member alleges, it looks as if he did a bit up there, otherwise he would have been in the same case as the senators in the Brisbane division.
– The electoral officers in Queensland are above suspicion.
– Yet here he is speaking with all the perkiness of a man with a majority of 10,000 instead of - was iti four or five?
– If there was manipulation at all, then the honorable member’s own chosen representative on the other side pf the world was the manipulator, for this is what! he says on this matter, and it is the reply to the honorable member, given in the Melbourne Herald of the 2nd June : -
Warrant Officer D. C. McGrath, M.H.K., who, on behalf of the Official Labour party, organized the scrutiny of the soldiers’ votes in connexion with the recent Commonwealth elections, referring to statements made by Mr. Hugh Mahon, formerly M.H.R. for Kalgoorlie, indignantly denied that there was any possibility of malpractice in the allocating of the soldiers’ votes.
There, I think, is the reply to the honorable member. “The scrutineers appointed on behalf of the Tudor party,” he said, “reported to me thai everything had been fair, and that the greatest care had been taken in allocating the votes to the electorates from which the soldiers had enlisted.’ Neither party had scrutineers at the casting of the vote. Personally, I am disappointed at the result, but I regard Mt Mahon’s statement as most unfair, in view of the impossibility of his having a knowledge of the facts. I believe that Mr. Mahon’s and other seats might have been saved if the Tudoritehad troubled to send literature to the soldiers.”
I saw plenty of literature flying about. What was the honorable member doing ?
Mr.Finlayson. - I hope that weshall never send to the soldiers literature like that which you sent.
– I confess that I have not seen any of the literature which was sent to the soldiers on the other side.
– You have not seen All for Australia.
– I am glad of that, because you would be ashamed of the literature if you saw it.
– How does the honorable member know?
– Because I had a copy sent by a soldier.
– Let the honorable member keep the literature; I do not want it.
Mr.Finlayson. - I am sure that you do not.
– I know nothing about it.
– I do not believe that you would have sent anything like it.
– I only rose for the purpose of saying that the reply to the honorable member is from the mouth of his own chosen representative at the Front, a member of this House specially chosen by his own party to see that fair play was done. He not only declares that so far as his conduct was concerned the election was conducted fairly,but he makes the statement that every scrutineer appointed acted fairly also. There is the certificate, and it is perfectly idle for the honorable member to get up here and make charges of manipulation in the face of this simple fact stated by his own chosen representative at the Front. Let us hear no more about this Brisbane matter; let it rest, or if the honorable member is spoiling for another fight let us see if we can get one.
– I will bet you that we will win ifCritchley Parker dies in the interim. You cannot win without him.
– Can we not?
– No. In South Australia we were “ home and dry “ untilCritchley Parker performed in the Exhibition Building. Ask the honorable member for Angas.
– Is the timbre of the Labour party so very flimsy and so very flabby that Mr. Critchley Parker can twist and turn them in any way he likes?
– No; it is the temperament of the people of Australia.
– Does the honorable member want us to believe that they have got into such a condition that one man may control their vote entirely in this way ? I would be ashamed to make such a confession on the part of any party with which I was associated.
– Very good acting!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 July 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170719_reps_7_82/>.