7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., andread prayers.
Report (No. 1) presented by Mr. Bamford, and read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Bamford) . proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I suggest that the report of the Royal Commission on the Federal Capital administration should not he printed.
– It has been printed. It is a bulky document, about 3 inches thick.
– It is in the printing of such documents that extravagance takes place. These huge reports should not be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Statutory Rule No. 196
– The honorable member for East Sydney askedme a question regarding certain cases inwhich he is interested.
– I am not interested in them; I am merely acting in connexion with them.
-I wish to inform the honorable member that further information as to the facts has been asked for, and should be forthcoming ina few days. There is no ground for the disallowance of the regulation; the only question is whether consent should ibe given to proceedings. If I have to decide against the honorable member, I shall notify him, so that he may take what action he pleases.
– I ask you, Mr.Speaker, a question which has reference to the rights, privileges, and immunities of honorable members. I wish to know whether it is within the power of the Chairman of Committees, without reference to theCommittee or to the House, to order the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove an honorable member from the chamber.
– I do not feel called uponto give an expression of opinion or any action of the Chairman of Committees in the conduct of the proceedings of a Committee. That officer is responsible for the maintenance of order in Committee of the whole House, and, unless when Borne matter is specifically reported to me from the Committee. I have no official cognisance of what takesplace there. In the present instance, I understand the Committee, by vote, confirmed the action of the Chairman.
– As a personal explanation, I wish to say that I did not know that the honorable member forCapricornia intended to ask a question on this subject. Iwish it to be understood that Ihaveno complaint at all to make. I quite enjoyed what occurred.
– That is not a personal explanation.
Industrial Crisis : Government Intervention.
Mr. SPEAKER reported that he had received from the honorable member for Yarra an intimation of his intention to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “The desirability of the Government taking action tobring about a just settlement of the present industrial disturbance.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- I make no apology for moving the adjournment of the. House to discuss this matter. It cannot be said that Government time will be taken up by thediscussion of the motion, because . this being Grievance Bay, the sitting would in any case have been devoted to the discussion of grievances, and this among them. . Every honorable member will admit that the present industrial crisis is the greatest with which Australia has been faced. What I ask is that the Government should intervene to obtain a just settlement of the strike. It is not my intention to do more than the Prime Minister, in many statements to the press, has said that he would do ; that is, to touch very briefly upon the original cause of the dispute. The Prime Minister in his frequent utterances has been pleased. to say -that the men who are at present connected with the Labour movement in Australia are men who have had no experience in industrial troubles.
– I have not said that. . My remark applied to those who are responsible for the strike; that is quite a different matter.
– There has never been a more spontaneous uprising by the people than that which has recently occurred. The trouble experienced by the Defence Committees, at any rate in this State, has’ not been to get the men to go on strike, but . to keep them at their work. That has been the experience throughout Australia.
– You will find it difficult to make us believe that.
– It is absolutely true. I care not whether or not the honorable member believes me, but there are thousands of people in the country who will take my word in preference to his.
– Why are not the men allowed a secret ballot ?
– The trouble is that the unions do not think- r
– That the result will be. satisfactory.
– I am anxious that this matter should be dealt with fairly. I do not desire that we should do anything to fan the flame, as is being done by the newspapers at the present time. On Tuesday the Argus, in the course of an alleged account of the proceedings at a union meeting, stated that it was the intention of municipal employees to throw Melbourne into darkness. The Prime Minister, in a statement published in to-day’s press, states - “ In Sydney the gasworkers have endeavoured to throw the city- into darkness. Melbourne is threatened with the same . calamity.” The secretary of the Municipal Employees Union wmte to the Argus denying its statement, and one would have thought that that journal would have had the common honesty. to publish the letter amongst the strike news, but the Argus, which pretends to be fair, inserted the letter at the bottom of a column amongst the telegrams. That letter was as follows : -
Sir, - I wish to contradict a report appearing in your issue of yesterday, stating that at a meeting of the Municipal Employees Union on Monday night, it waa suggested that the Victorian strike committee should at once cut off thesupplies of gas and electricity. Nothing of the Kind took place. The meeting discussed a totally different matter altogether. Neither gas nor electric power was mentioned. Neither was any discussion raised as ts whether the men would cease work or not Trusting you will insert these few lines so as let the public know the facts of the case. -
H. Gray, Secretary.
To that the editor attached this footnote - “ The statement, to which Mr. Gray takes exception was communicated to us by an officer of the union.” It is known that the State Government boast that they have spies attending union meetings, and are. able to know what takes place at those meetings. No union would allow spies at its meetings; but, unfortunately, the unions do nob. know these men who are betraying them.
It has been stated by honorable members in this . House and elsewhere that the present trouble is political, and not industrial. That statement is absolutely wrong. The men in New South Wales have gone on strike as . a protest against the proposed card sytsem. I worked in America at piece-work, and I know a little of the speeding-up methods employed in that country.
– You survived them.
– I stayed there ten months.
– There was no card system then.
– No, but I know the methods which . were employed in America at that time, and through reading and correspondence I am conversant] with some of the conditions obtaining there now. A system exists in America which I hope will never- be introduced in any part of the British
Empire. The men have been periodically speeded up, until in some large establishments an inquiry as to the whereabouts of the middle-aged employees elicits the answer, “ They are in the cemetery.”
– That statement is food for children.
An Honorable Member. - That is Foster Eraser’s statement.
– It is correct. I know that some men who gained their experience in America by gazing at it through a railway carriage window have pretended to know all about the working conditions of that country. The very worst features of the system in operation in America are to be introduced in New South Wales.
– It is not the Taylor system that is to be introduced into New South Wales.
– That statement is all very well; bub what does the honorable member know about it? Of all the workers, the last to become dissatisfied with their working conditions are Government employees, especially if it involves going out on strike. Men in the Government Service will submit to almost anything rather, than go out on strike.
– What about Wonthaggi?
– I am not referring to men of that class. Any coal miner can go to Wonthaggi and get employment, but I am referring to regular employees, who must pass a preliminary medical examination, and who once they are in the Service are there for life. -It must not be thought that this card system was considered by the men only a few days before they decided to strike; it was submitted to them nine months ago, and they informed Mr. Eraser then that they did not. think it proper that new conditions of employment should be introduced during the war. Not one word is said by the opponents of the men as to that particular phase of the question, but every argument is used to show that the men precipitated the trouble. The fact is, that the Commissioner was responsible for the trouble, and compelled the men to take action, or consent to a method of employment which they consider will undermine their manhood. Practically only one side of this dispute has been placed before the people. The whole press of Australia is supporting honorable members opposite, and will do anything to insure that the men are placed in the worst possible light. They get organizations such as municipal conferences to carry resolutions condemning the men, and speakers on recruiting platforms to denounce the strike. We do not hear a word concerning the gentleman who saw fit to introduce this card system during the war. Nothing that has happened since the outbreak of the war has caused such a falling off in recruiting as this industrial trouble has done. The recruiting platform has been deliberately used to put ‘fine men on strike in the worst possible position - to make it appear that they are wrong and that the employers are right.
– They could not be in a much worse position than they are by reason of the fact that they saw fit to strike at this period in our history.
– The honorable member would have us believe, I suppose, that the workers must submit to any injustice at this particular juncture, and that the railway men of New South Wales should have allowed the card system , to be introduced without making any protest against it. In my opinion, they would not be worthy of the name of Australians if they did not stand up against it. Why does the honorable member refrain from “* any reference to the action of the New South Wales Railways Commissioner in introducing the card system? Is there nothing to be said concerning him or the State Government who have backed him up ? Some employers assert that for years they have seen this trouble coming on. They say that there must be a fight between Capital and Labour and they have selected this particular ground for their attack.
– Who started this fight?
– The New South WalesRailways Commissioner.
– Listening to the honorable member one would think that the employers had started it.
– The Commissioner is an employer of labour and he started it.
– But who started” the fight here ?
– And in Western Australia ?
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Heitmann) who has* some knowledge of trade unionism, knows that once a strike occurs no one can tell to where it will spread.
– I know that the men who started this trouble- will drop the trade unions of Australia like a hot potato. They are a rabble.
– Such statements as that just made by the honorable member were often m,ade in years gone by. Bogus unions have been formed before. At the time of the London dock labourers’ strike in 1889’, I was working in London, and well remember the action then taken by Tom Mann, Ben Tillett, and John Burns to secure new and improved conditions for the workers. Their efforts were spoken of by such organizations as the- Cotton Spinners’ Association and the Amalgamated Society of Engineers as “ the new unionism.” The members of those associations declared that they were fighting for the old system of trade unionism. We may be surethat some people will always consider that those who have anything to do with any struggle to improve the conditions of the workers should be denounced.
The New South Wales Railways Commissioner sought to compel the men to adopt a system that had. never’’ before operated in their particular branch.
Several honorable members interject- ing,
– One at a time. Five or six Ministerial supporters in their anxiety to defend their own position are all interjecting at one time.
– Can the honorable member explain the card system as introduced ?
– I have not time to do so at this stage.
– The honorable member can secure an extension of time.
– The honorable member may think that the system is impossible of satisfactory explanation from our point of view, but there are on this side of the House to-day several honorable members who have been in New South Wales since the trouble arose, and who know exactly what is proposed.
– I cannot obtain an explanation.
– It is not my fault that the honorable member cannot get an explanation; but it cannot be denied that the action taken by the men can be satisfactorily explained. I know something of both piecework and day-labour work as carried on in factories, where there is- a continual speeding up of workers. Some employers would make their employees practically mere cogs in the machine. They grind as much as possible out of their men, because they know that, as a rule, a 6d. advertisement will bring others to take the place of those who in the struggle are knocked back. The object of the card system is to compel men to work at top speed.
– Supposing the converse takes place, and that the men go too slow, what would the honorable member do ?
– I know what the employers would do in such a case; they would pass out the men every time. As a matter of fact, that is done. There are in this Australia of ours many men who dye their hair because it has grown grey, knowing that it would be difficult to secure employment if they were thought to be old. I could bring here men who have had to do that in order to hold their own in the struggle, for employment. I contend that the employees had a right to object where this speeding up was being insisted on.
All that we ask the Government to do is to intervene with the object of bringing about an equitable settlement of this industrial trouble, which is affecting all Australia-.
– Will the honorable member suggest what the Government should do? He must not forget that, as the political leader of the Labour forces in. Australia, he has a responsibility.
-I shall not shirk my responsibilities. In answer to the honorable member, let me say that I would have the Prime Minister do precisely what he did last year in. connexion with a lesser industrial dispute.- In reply to a question put to him a few days ago, the Prime Minister said that he would not interfere with this dispute unless requested by both parties to do so. That, I think, was the effect of his statement. What did he do, however, in connexion with the coalminers strike last year?
– The coal miners are again on strike.
– I wish the honorable member would give us something new.
– I was thinking that of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Apparently, some honorable members opposite do not like what
I am saying, and they are interjecting with the object of breaking the continuity of my remarks. When the coal-miners’ strike took place last year, I do not think the Prime Minister was asked by either side to intervene, but he did.
– Neither was Senator Pearce, as Acting Prime Minister, asked to intervene in the Broken Hill trouble, but he did.
– I was a member of the Labour Government then in office. Senator Pearce was Acting Prime Minister, and he induced the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court to intervene, and to compel representatives of both the employers and employees to come before him with the object of bringing about a settlement. That was in connexion with the Broken Hill trouble of 1914 or 1915. I do not think that either the employers or the employees asked the Prime Minister last year to intervene in connexion with the coal-miners’ ^ strike, but he compelled representatives of both sides to come to Melbourne to discuss the matter.
– The coal miners got all they wanted, and yet they are out on strike again._
– Because they conceive it to be their duty to support those who are protesting against the introduction of the card system.
– That is not the reason for their coming out. They are out because their general secretary was arrested for breaking the law.
– That is correct so far as the coal miners in Victoria are concerned, but as to whether it is correct in. regard to the coal miners in New South Wales I am unable for the moment to say.
But I do not know of a single blunder . calculated to intensify this struggle, and to make it spread, that has not been committed by the New South Wales Ministry. I know tha responsibility of the State Ministry to keep the wheels of industry’ going, but I submit that some of the actions they -have been guilty of have not had the effect of throwing oil on troubled waters, but of throwing oil on a fire, and so widening the disastrous effects. The result has been the creation of further disputes, and the object of such £ policy is to practically cover up the blame that ought to attach to the Ministry. ‘If there is one blunder that stands out it is the arrest of Willis, Cavanagh, and Thompson. That case, I know, is before the Court, where it will have tobe judged; but I protest against the postponement of the trial until the trouble is over, when we know that in all probability the result will be a dismissal of the charges. All this is done for the purpose of creating further disputes.
We are told that this is a revolution and a mutiny; but, personally, I do not believe that it is any such thing. It is all very well to say that the Strike Committees can prevent the spread of the strikes. In Victoria, I know what is being done; and the Defence or Strike Committee have done their utmost to prevent any extension of the trouble- which has, however, continued to spread in spite of any action of theirs. Once goods are handled by these ‘ ‘ free ‘ * labourers, “blacklegs,” or “loyalists “ - call them what you like - unionists will refuse to handle such goods. Though, as I say, I know the Strike Committee or the Defence Committee have done their best to prevent the spread of the disputes, they have been unable to do so; but it must be added that but for their action the trouble would have been more widespread than it is. There are probably from 80,000 to 100,000 workers affected, and these “loyalists” or “free workers,” as they are called - though they are sometimes given other names, such a3 “ blacklegs “ number something less than’ 10,000, although they are promised permanent employment, and some of them are to be given Government employment, and in spite also of the efforts of the two Governments, with the whole of the national resources to aid them. We are told that these free workers are capable, and are giving a better return for their pay than did the1 ordinary workmen. No one, however, can believe’ that these young men from school .and others are more satisfactory than are the ordinary workers. Any one who has employed suich men knows that, as a rule, they cost double or treble what is usually paid, simply because they are not used to the work. Some of the so-called unskilled labourers are ‘so used to the work demanded of them that they are able to give a better return than any others possibly could. These free labourers are promised that there shall be no “victimization” of them after the strike is over. . They have been promised that their employment shall continue, and that they shall have Government situations without examination; and yet, with all these inducements, they number only about a tenth of the men- at present on strike.
– You should not incite the strikers 1
– I am not doing so. I say truly that if I could do anything to bring these disputes to a satisfactory conclusion I should do it. The Labour party, ever since the trouble arose, has refrained from raising the question in this chamber, for the simple reason that they are anxious that the matter should be settled amicably. Surely the Government will not say that they do not desire a just settlement? Are we asking anything unfair when we ask for a just settlement?
There are many employers who believethat they now have a chance of which they intend to take advantage, to crush and smash unionism, and who believe that, after this struggle, unionism will never be able to lift its head in Australia -again. This was what the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) thought he had succeeded in effecting in 1903, with the aid of the Kyabram movement. But what is the result? The Kyabram movement is dead ; and with the exception, perhaps, of the honorable member himself, not a man connected with it is in political life to-day. I am reminded that the honorable member for Echuca was connected with that movement, and he is a worthy specimen of those who were with him.
– Is he dead?
– No, he is not; he is walking about to save funeral expenses.
– The honorable member ought not to be offensive.
– We were told that unionism in the” Victorian Railways was crushed ,in 1903. What is the position of the railway unions to-day in Victoria ? They have probably trebled the number of their financial members since 1903; that does not appear as if unionism was checked. In today’s Argus we are told that those “ loyalists “ on the wharfs have united in an organization of their own. There have been several similar attempts in the past; and the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Spence) will remember how, when he was president of the Australian Workers Union, a Machine Shearers Union - a “ blackleg “ union - was brought into existence by the Pastoralists Association. Further, a few years ago in Victoria an attempt was made to organize the free labourers under a man named Packer. Where are those free unionists to-day ? Every one gone ; and what happened then will happen to the organization of which the Argus tells us to-day,- Honorable members opposite may think that they have the whip-hand of the workers - that they have won a political battle, and intend to carry it into the industrial field, so that they may grind down the workers as never before. I am not going to say that the workers are defeated yet - far from it - but even if they are unsuccessful in this particular struggle, they will become stronger than ever, and the results will be precisely the same as those which followed similar attempts in 1903 on the occasion of the railway strike. After that trouble the railway workers in Victoria organized as never before, and obtained greater benefits.
I hope that the Government will intervene, and that wiser counsels will prevail. I trust that the Prime Minister and his colleagues will request the New South Wales Government to refer this matter to a tribunal that will be able to judge it on its merits or demerits, so that we here in Australia may rid ourselves of this terrible industrial crisis.
– I regret that the time at my disposal will not permit me to traverse the whole ground of this most important matter. The Leader of the Opposition, in the course of his speech, has raised a great many questions, which, even to lightly touch on, would occupy me far beyond the limit of the time at my disposal. I have been waiting to hear from the honorable gentleman some definite and concrete statement by way of justification of the present state of things. But I have waited in vain. It cannot be said, even by my enemies, of whom I have many, that I do not understand the Labour movement in Australia at least as well as any other’ man. Others may have been in more strikes than I, but there is none who, for the last twenty years at any rate, has been engaged in a greater number of what may be termed national, or quasi-national, industrial upheavals. I, therefore, know as intimately as if is possible for any man to know, what unionism stands for. I say without hesitation that there is no evidence forthcoming that there is, as the honorable member has asserted, a conspiracy for the purpose of crushing unionism. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that there is a conspiracy among certain persons in our midst to render government by the people of Australia, as delimited by constitutional means, impossible. To this conspiracy the overwhelming bulk of the unionists now affected are unwittingly lending themselves - not deliberately, because they are mere pawns in the game.
There is no conspiracy to crush unionism, but there is a conspiracy to injure Great Britain, to disintegrate the Empire, and to hamper the Commonwealth in its war policy, to make constitutional government impossible. And the conspirators are those violent extremists, whom I shall group under one heading, and call Syndicalists and Sinn Feiners. A man who shuts his eyes to such obvious facts as obtrude themselves upon the notice of all citizens must be a fool.
The reason put forward for this strike is, on the face of it, a mere pretext. It is alleged that this card system is one which, if introduced in Australia* will reduce the workers here to the level of slaves. One honorable member in this House, by way of a question to me the other day, sought to persuade the House that this was so, and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) has spoken about the conditions of labour in America. He has referred to the consequences of speeding up, which, he says, occur there, deducing that all these things arose from the card system or something similar to it, and that if this system were introduced in Australia, conditions analogous to those he has alleged would obtain in Australia. I do not believe it for a moment. Such talk is transparent nonsense. When the unionists of this country waited on me in a deputation the other day, I told them that I regarded such an assertion as a palpable attempt to bluff the community. I know the unionists of Australia too well to believe that they would tolerate such a thing for a moment. These harrowing stories of men having to dye their hair in order to conceal their age will surely impose upon no one. Every one but a fool knows that the dyeing of one’s hair does not conceal one’s age. It is the sort of thing that amuses fools, and serves for the purpose of clap-trap on the Yarra-bank and other places. No, sir, this is not the cause of this trouble. We must look in quite a different direction to find it. The trouble in this country is that there has been for some time an insidious propaganda in our midst urging the workers not to speed up, but to slow down.
In regard to the alleged cause of this strike, I do not say that one side to the dispute is more entitled to credence than the other. I accept statements from both sides for what they are worth ; but on the facts as presented by both sides it would certainly appear that, so far from the Government of New South Wales being to blame in the matter, they did all that was possible to . avert it. At a deputation of representatives of the Trades Hall which waited on me in his presence the other day, Mr. Hall, a member of the New South Wales Government, dealing with the genesis of the strike, said-
The representative of the amalgamated engineers notified the Commissioners for Railways in New South Wales that unless the Commissioners announced, within twenty-four hours, their intention not to introduce the card system, the unions would strike. The Government of New South Wales urged the men to withdraw this ultimatum, for a week at least, in order that the parties might discuss the question while the service was still being carried on. This the men refused to do.
No man who believes in democracy can justify the action of Government employees in attempting to dictate to those who under the laws of a democratic country are entrusted with the management of State utilities as to how those utilities should be conducted. All that these men were asked to do was to continue in their work and discuss the matter amicably with the Government. Even such a thing as that is not entirely consonant with the principles of democratic government, but at any rate these men were asked to remain at work and to discuss the matter while they were working. Yet they declined point blank to do this sensible and obviously proper thing, and stood upon their ultimatum and left their work. Whatever virtue there is in Socialism is to be found in the substitution of the whole community for the individual. There can be no question of profiteering in State enterprise; no suspicion that some bowelless exploiter is going to make a profit out of speeding up workmen. The railway systems of Australia are State enterprises’ over which the people, have ample power. Parliament can interfere in the most ‘complete and drastic way; it can alter the whole system ; and the people can alter the whole Parliament.- Therefore “the railway system of New South “Wales, or of any other State, is fashioned in accordance with the determination of the people of the State. That is Socialism.
– It is one kind of Socialism.
– What my friends mean by Socialism is something in which they are to govern, and the rest of the community are to have no voice in the mattes.
– The new Socialistic party !
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that it ia highly disorderly to interject, and that the honorable member for Batman has interjected continuously. I ask you to order him to cease.
– The Prime Minister is mistaken in saying that the honorable member for Batman has interjected continuously. I have not noticed it. The honorable member did interject just now, and I ask him not to interject again. I remind honorable members that the time for each honorable member to speak on this motion is very limited.
– I come now to the point which I wish to emphasize. There has been growing up during the last halfadozen years a. spirit of insubordination that makes the government of unionism absolutely impossible. I see around me in this Chamber many men who have been associated with me in many industrial upheavals. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) and I were associated in one industrial upheaval, . or rather in the prevention of one, in 1913-14. When the great New Zealand strike threatened to involve Australia; we gathered together a body of men, which I think I am right in estimating at about 150,000, including the various waterside organizations, the coalminers, and the Australian
Workers Union, and with the power that that combination was able to exercise we prevented that strike coming to Australia, and we ordered - and our orders were carried out - that the unions should work “black” coal and “black” boats: No one can deny it. So far from my having committed a crime against unionism in that matter, the honorable member for Cook was one of those who was good enough to subscribe, in a very eulogistic address, to my many and great virtues and services in that connexion. But every honorable member knows that owing to the dissemination of Syndicalistic and Industrial Workers of the World doctrines ( the trouble with the unions is, as the honorable member forYarra (Mr. Tudor) knows, not to get men to go out - any fool can do that - but to get them to stay in. They ignore their executives. They contemptuously repudiate agreements solemnly entered into. They will come out on any pretext or on none rather than stop in.
The real cause of this upheaval is political, rather than industrial^ It is an attempt on the part of those responsible for the debacle of the 5th May when the great Labour movement of Australia was split on the rocks, to get even with their opponents, to prevent those to whom the electors entrusted the reins of Government from carrying out their duty. Prior to the conscription referendum a conspiracy was hatched to declare a general strike should conscription be carried; of that I have absolute proof. The honorable member for Yarra says that the present strike is not a revolt; that the action of the men is an indignant protest, wrung from them by the attempt to introduce the Taylor system. Mr. Buckley, member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, speaking on the th August, said that “ there was more in the strike than the card system.” Mr. Buckley declared that the introduction of ‘ that system was quite a minor matter. “ This was a fight,” he said* “ between capital and labour, between, the National Government and the Labour party. Ever since the National Government had come into power it had set itself out to crush unionism. The gage had been thrown’ down, and he was pleased to see that organized labour had. taken it up with a unanimity that was causing its opponents grave anxiety.”
No doubt subsequent reflection of the consequences of this indiscreet revelation of the true nature of the struggle impelled him to deny the accuracy of the report, which I quoted from the Herald of the 7th August. He said -
I have not said on any occasion that this was a test between the Nationalist party and the Labour party. I refer Mr. Fuller to my statement that, so far as the Government is concerned, it was not so much opposed to granting the conference’s request that the men should refuse to work on conditions, but that the Government, backed up by the Chamber of Commerce and the Employers Federation, was attempting to crush trade unionism.
– The time allowed to the honorable member under the standing order has expired.
.- The Prime Minister states that the men who commenced this dispute are disloyalists, who seek to bring about the downfall of Great Britain and her Allies, and are engaged in initiating a “ goslow “ policy. Every one knows that the dispute arose in the Randwick tramway workshops. The railway and tramway men who are now out on strike have contributed £160,000 to the patriotic funds, a larger sum than has been contributed by any other section of the community. These contributions have not been made like some of those of the big merchants and manufacturers. The evidence of the Prices Board shows that some of the latter have given £250 and like amounts to patriotic funds, and then charged their donations against the goods they were making and selling, passing on the cost to the general public while taking credit for patriotic spirit. The men at Randwick have contributed out of their wages, and their donations cannot be equalled, man for man, and proportionately to their means, by those of any other section of the community. Furthermore, the men worked on .Sundays and at night after their -usual working hours to provide furniture for the Randwick Military Hospital, and this they did free of’ cost. Yet they are said to be disloyal and lazy, men who would not do a day’s work if they could help it ! Every considerable family among them is represented at the Front. These facts are a sufficient answer to the statements of the Prime Minister.
What is the question now at issue? The Prime Minister knows it as well as any man in the country, but it does not suit him at the present time to acknow ledge the fact. The trouble goes to the very root of trade union organization. The principle that combined workmen shall have the opportunity to negotiate as to the terms and conditions under which they shall sell their labour in the market has been attacked. When Labour becomes unable to do that the edifice of trade unionism will crumble to the ground. No one knows this better than the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy., In a manifesto issued to the soldiers in the trenches, the Prime Minister said that if the Nationalist party were returned, not one stone in the temple of labour would be disturbed. Now, however, the Commonwealth and State Governments have joined to crush trade unionism in Australia.
We have been told of the twenty-four hours’ ultimatum given by the men who are now out on strike. The Prime Minister has acccepted the statement of the Attorney-General of New South Wales to this effect, but he has not given publicity to the official statement of the Strike Committee, which is an absolute denial of that of the AttorneyGeneral of New South, Wales. As a matter of fact, a card system was introduced into the Randwick workshops twelve months ago, when the men were called upon to fill up their own cards. They made such a strong protest against this to the management, that the system was withdrawn; and it was re-introduced on the second occasion without notification or warning.
There is a dispute as to the exact intention of the system. On behalf of the strikers it is said that a system, involving the use of a series of six cards, has been introduced which, if not actually the Taylor speeding-up and sweating system of America, is an approximation, imitation, or modification of it. It has “ been said that the New South Wales card’ system has nothing to do with speeding up ; but Senator Gardiner, when addressing a meeting of the tramway men at Waverley on the 12th August, produced ,a card - that numbered “ 6 “ - and read this question from it -
The questions were to be answered by socalled sub-foremen, about 300 of whom have been lately appointed. These are not men “in whom the workmen have confidence. Their job was refused by those who are looked upon as decent unionists and decent workmen. It is those who are considered sneaks by their fellows who have become sub-foremen, and these had to fill up the secret cards, which were not to be seen by the men, stating, among other things, whether the work of the dozen or twenty men in the section of each was, or was not, satisfactory.
Before Senator Gardiner’s statement was published in the press* the Sydney Morning Herald’s representative waited on the Chief Railways Commissioner regarding it, and asked for an explanation. This was published in the Herald on the 13th August in the following terms: -
Mr. Frazer denied the statement. The card system, he said, provides only for a record of work done, and . time taken on each job, and 1 does not make any provision whatsoever for answering questions as to the men being unsatisfactory.
Senator Gardiner then called at the Herald office, and produced the card from which he had read, which had been printed at the Government Printing Office, Sydney, and bore the imprint of that office. The Herald next day printed what he had said, which proved that what the Chief Commissioner had said was not true. Having thus been absolutely bowled out, the Chief Commissioner replied -
Yes, that was one system which had been got together, but that is not the system which we were introducing.
– He said that it was a system which had hot been introduced.
– He said that it was one of a number of systems which was being considered, but that it had not been introduced. The fact that the Chief Commissioner said that he knew nothing about such a card, and then, when bowled out by the presentation of it in the newspaper office, gave another explanation, so qualifies the denial of the effect of the system, as urged by the strikers, as to strongly support the claim for a thorough inquiry.
Remembering the negotiations that have taken place during the past twelve months, the statement that the men left work within twenty-four hours is absolutely untrue. A change was being introduced into their working conditions, and, surely, when a large and respected body of workmen unanimously object to such a system there is reason for inquiry into it.
If the fears of the men are groundless why shirk an inquiry? The Arbitration Court is in existence to determine the conditions of employment, and the men have stated officially over and over again, and still say, “ Give us an inquiry, choosing your own tribunal, and if we cannot make out a case for the withdrawal of the card system, and if the decision of the Judge is against us, we shall return to work immediately?” The Government refuse that fair request.
– When was it put before the Government ?
– At the very commencement of the dispute, and it is before them now. , ‘
– Before the strike?
– The Government say, “Return to work, and we shall consider the matter.”
– The Government say, “ Go back and work under the card system for three months.” The men refuse to work under these sub-foremen and the card system for three months.
– The men would not have struck had they taken-, a secret ballot.
– There have been secret ballots, and, in every case, the decision has been overwhelmingly in favour of stopping work.
– Why are they frightened of balloting?
– They are not.
– Then why do they not ballot?
– The Government asked, “ Will the Strike Committee agree to take a secret ballot as to returning to work?” and the committee replied, “ Yes, we are prepared to take a secret ballot on two propositions : (1) Whether the men shall return to work under this system upon the appointment of a tribunal of inquiry; or (2) whether they should return to work unconditionally “ ; but the Government rejected the offer. They did not want a ballot on those terms and conditions.
– There should have been a secret ballot before any of the men came out.
– Under the rules of some unions it is not possible to take a secret ballot before the men cease work. The Prime Minister has referred to the stoppage of work by large numbers of men who have no cause in this dispute, and the Minister for the Nav$_has made a statement to the same effect. As old union leaders, those Ministers know perfectly well that where “ black “ labour is introduced into an industry for the purpose’ of strike breaking, and where the goods handled by that “black” labour are sent into another industry, uniformly the strike follows those goods. Those gentlemen have been, times out of number, parties to strikes against the introduction of “ scab “ labour. The Prime Minister referred to the New Zealand dispute. Of course, some men were prevented from leaving their work because, as the honorable member as an old strike leader knows, strikes must be conducted by obedience to orders. Those men who are directed to remain at work must do so, and those directed to cease work should stop immediately. That was done in connexion with another strike when the Prime Minister was one of the leaders. Some men ceased work and others remained in their employment when they were ordered to do so. The request at that time that the wharf labourers and others should remain at work, was not in order that they could better help production by remaining at work, but because they could better help the industrial dispute by so doing. The Prime Minister knows that such things happen in the management of every strike.
– It did not happen in 1913.
– The right honorable member knows that he has carried out the doctrine to which I refer, time after time. I had hoped to refer to the partisan attitude of the Commonwealth. Government in connexion with this dispute, and the use of the machinery created for the conduct of the international conflict for the purpose of crushing unionism within Australia. I have some matter to place before the House in reference to those aspects, but as my time has expired, I shall defer my further remarks to a later hour.
– As the honorable member for Cook mentioned my name several times during his short speech, I should like to say a few words on this very important matter. Not one of the reasons stated by the honorable member for the extension of the strike applies in regard to a great deal of the labour that is on strike. The honorable member said that! the men left their work because they were asked to do this and to do the other thing. There are 2,000 men out of work at the dock to-day for no earthly reason. They left their work at a minute’s notice. They were not: asked to handle anything that was “ black.” They were attending to the ordinary work of looking after the transports, and sending men to the Front. They dropped their tools ‘ at a moment’s notice without rhyme or reason. It is too late in the day to begin to raise these gags; they are not true, and they ought not to be repeated. The reasons stated by the honorable member are not those for which the men went out on strike. Just what the reasons are I do not pretend to know. I was not even paid the compliment of being told that the men intended to leave their work. Do honorable members know that the men are. still refusing to man a hospital ship? Last! evening they agreed that! they would load by union labour a hospital ship now at Port Melbourne, and to-day the stokers are out on strike, and will not permit the work to proceed.
– And the committee are trying to get them to return.
– That statement will not work.
– I could cite many similar instances. I do not wish to dilate on the existing state of affairs - it is sad enough and tragic enough - but I do say that, union or no union, the men had no right to hold up the transports, i Whatever their feelings may be as to local disputes, they are not justified, in any circumstances, or from any consideration, in preventing the transports leaving for the Front. Honorable members opposite know, as well as I do, that there is no excuse for what has been done. Everything in reason has been done to induce the men to do this work, but without avail. For what reason have they acted in this way ? The reason is that they were ordered out of their employment by an official, who simply told them to cease work; and cease work they did, on the instant. That is how the general cessation of work at the docks has happened. There was no notice or intimation that they were about to strike. They were simply ordered out of work, and out they went. ‘When men do that sort of thing in connexion with war work, there is something deeper than unionism at the bottom of it. Every man will, and every man must, place his own interpretation upon their action; but it cannot be said that there is any union reason for stopping that work.
– Men who voted for the National party at the election are out <on strike.
– I believe that many of the men on strike voted for the present Government at the last election. I believe, also, that 75 per cent, of those on strike would be glad to get back to their work, and that they disbelieve in the strike, and certainly in its extension. What is the strike for? The honorable member for Cook says it is a strike for the right to negotiate as to the conditions under which the men shall sell their labour. Sell their labour to whom?
– The Railways Commissioners.
– For whom do the Railways Commissioners act? Are they the catspaws of some private profitmaking employer ? Every striker is a shareholder in those railways.
– You know that is a lot of buncombe.
– For the purpose of this argument, the honorable member alters his tune from that I have heard him play very often when stating the case for Socialism. The men are not striking for any special purpose, as far as I am able to ascertain. It is not a dispute in which the old ethics of profiteering apply at all. In this instance, they are striking against the Government, and against themselves as constituent shareholders in a huge national concern; and I say they are not justified in dropping their tools and laying idle the whole enterprise of the country on any such pretence as that on which they left their work.
– You say nothing about the speeding-up system.
– I do not see where the speeding-up comes in. The system proposed in New South Wales is not the Taylor system, and all the arguments . honorable members like to apply to it cannot make it so.
– Has the honorable member seen the system ?
– I have seen the cards as- published, and I see nothing in them but a record of work done. Really, there is nothing in them more than takes place in connexion with much union employment to-day. Every miner’s -tally is taken from him every night and checked.
– So is a railway man’s tally.
– What more than that does the card system do? It takes account of what quantity of work a man has done - during the day ; many unions are working under the same system to-day, and. strange to say, would not work under any other system.
– Does the honorable member approve of the Taylor system ?
– I frankly confess that I do not know what the Taylor system is. I know it is some system of speeding up, but precisely what the details are, I do not know. I have been informed that some such system is in operation in the Victorian Government Printing Office now, and I suggest to honprable members opposite that they should straightway call a strike against it.
The Leader of the Opposition asked the Government to intervene, and to effect a just settlement of this dispute. May I remind honorable members that the Prime Minister did intervene in a serious dispute a few months ago ? The result of that » intervention was to give the coal miners 3s. per ton increase in their rates.
– That was in the middle of the conscription campaign.
– What is the insinuation ?
– There is no purpose to be served now by intervention.
– The Prime Minister effected a just settlement in the coal dispute, and the miners have thrown it to the winds. Surely there must be some guarantee that when just intervention takes place, it will effect the purpose for which it has been invoked.
– The honorable member has engaged in strikes under ‘the same circumstances.
– I have never taken part in any strike. Perhaps that is news to the honorable member. I should like to see this strike end. That is the dearest wish of my heart. I should like to see it terminated by the men themselves coming to reason. There never was a strike founded on a mose flimsy basis than the present trouble, and for the Government to intervene and take the matter out of the hands of any State Government would be, in my judgment, to do an unwise and an unjust thing.
.- The Minister for the Navy ha3 made a very noisy speech, which gives us very little hope that the Government will do anything to try to bring the strike to a conclusion. If we may judge by the speeches of the Prime Minister and his colleague, it would appear that the Win-the-war party, having succeeded in. smashing the Labour party politically, hope to smash it industrially. They hope to break up the unions. There are two classes of industrial unions. The one may be spoken of as* the genuine trade unions, while the other is the bogus production calling itself labour, but fighting the genuine trade unionists all the time. I regret that the Prime Minister is not present. He seems of late to come into this chamber ‘as little as possible. He attends to answer questions, and then leaves. The explanation, I suppose, is that he is unable to bear the criticism of the Opposition, although it may be that he realizes that he occupies a most inconsistent .position. Ministerial supporters ure welcome to both the Prime Minister and his first lieutenant, the Minister for the Navy. If the situation were not so serious, it would be amusing to them to find that they have as their leaders two honorable gentlemen who, in the olden days, used to teach the working classes of Australia the principles of trade unionism. If the workers err at all at the present time, it is because of the teachings they had from the lips of the Prime Minister and the Minis,ter for the Navy (-Mr. Cook) when they were leading the trade union movement.’
It appears to me that a section of tha employing classes in Australia are very glad that the strike has taken place. They feel confident of success. They believe that they will smash trade unionism. They think that the general public, because of the inconvenience to which the strike has put them, will not sympathize with the workers; that there is a possibility that the Arbitration Courts will be called upon successfully to deregister existing unions, and to establish new unions; that all the arbitration awards will go by the board, and that the working classes will again be competing one with the other, with the result that wages will come down. If honorable members opposite are prepared to take warning from any one, let me warn them that, in so far as they succeed in destroying the genuine trade unionism, they wall create in this community the very class which they have been declaring unlawful - a class of people who believe in the In,dustrial “Workers of the World methods. We cannot educate the people and expect them, with their education, to submit to injustice. We must have our schoolmasters; we must see that every child in the community is educated, and, since we do that, is it reasonable to expect that educated people will put up with conditions that belong to a by-gone age?
This trouble has arisen because of the determination of the New South Wales Government to introduce the card system. We need not trouble ourselves with the question of whether or not it is the Taylor system, or a modification of it, that has been introduced’. The outstanding fa’ct is that a card system, to which the men object, has been introduced during war time. Mr. Beeby, a member of the New South W’ales Government, came to Melbourne to tell the Prime Minister everything concerning the impending dispute, and if the Prime Minister had pointed out to him that the Federal Government could not support the State Ministry in making such an important change during war time, I do not think the State authorities would have taken up such a strong position. I take leave to say that the Prime Minister was fully aware of every action that the New South Wales Government was taking, and I cannot believe that he did not encourage Mr. Beeby to go on.
Neither the New South Wales Government nor any. Administration has, in my opinion, any right to speed up ite workers. In his most recent volume of statistics Mr. Knibbs, referring to the railways in all the States, writes -
Interest returned on capital expenditure. - It may be seen from the figures given in the table in paragraph 13 hereof, that the State Government railways in Australia have, on the whole, made a substantial profit during each year since the inception of the Commonwealth, but, unfortunately, the community does not get the full benefit of this profit, owing to the high rates of interest at which money for railways was borrowed in the early days.
If the railways are showing a substantial return on the money invested in them, why should the New South Wales Government try to speed up its railway employees? The nation organized, through its Government, should set an example to all other employers. It is claimed - and I believe it is true - that the system which the New South Wales Government desire to introduce throughout its railway service is not in use in any private establishment in Australia. I am reminded by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) that in the State railway workshops locomotives are being made for less than the price at which they can be obtained from America. What, then, is the reason for this speeding up?
The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy have said that the other anions are striking without reason. They forget that one of the first principles of trade unionism is that “ An injury to one is the concern of all.” What is the treatment that doctors and lawyers, shipping and banking companies, and business men generally mete out to any members of their associations who infringe their rules ? Does any one believe that the 20,000 or 30,000 workers who have gone out on strike have done so merely as a matter of child’s play ? I suppose that the majority of these people when employed earn sufficient only to provide for feeding and clothing their families, and for the payment of rent. They run every risk, therefore, in going out on strike. If Ministerial supporters belonged to a union they would have a great deal of sympathy for the men ‘ in New South Wales who are fighting this battle.
I propose now to draw attention to a speech made some time ago by the Minister for the Navy. The right honorable gentleman was at one time secretary of a trade union known as the Lithgow” Miners’ Union. It was not a very extensive organization, but it was > responsible for his entry into public life. For a considerable number of years he remained with the Labour party, and I would remind him of the speeches he used to make in those days. We heard him a few minutes ago discussing this strike. Let me quote now from a speech made by him some time ago - a speech which, I think, discounts the very loud and boastful utterance in which he in- dulged this afternoon. He said, speaking at Broken Hill, on one occasion - “ Just as storms prove the activity of the ‘ elements in the atmosphere, so do strikes prove activity in the industrial world. It has ‘ been said that strikes are wasteful; but, if that be true, so are all efforts at reform. Strikes are beneficial, even though the workers sometimes lost.”
The right honorable gentleman was rather poetical in those days, and * he went on to say - “It was the same as the sea, washing up on the shore. It recedes and returns, but in the long run it reaches the full tide.” Mr. Cook concluded an eloquent address on the benefits of unionism, and the advantages to be gained by returning Labour members to Parliament pledged to the cause of the workers.”
– When was that speech delivered ?
– On 24th’ October, 1892. The Prime Minister has refused to allow Mr. Justice Higgins to arbitrate in a dispute between the Queensland Government and the railway employees in Northern Queensland. Both parties are agreeable that Mr. Justice Higgins should arbitrate. They have .approached him, and he is willing to do so; but as the Commonwealth Government are, so to speak, his employers, he desires that their approval shall be obtained. He says, “ If the Prime Minister will consent I shall be pleased to arbitrate.” He is prepared to ,go up to Queensland during his holidays, and to arbitrate in the matter, but the Prime Minister declines to consent. This goes to ‘ show that, not only the right honorable gentleman himself, but the Government as a whole are involved. Although it would appear on the surface that only the Prime Minister and his chief lieutenant - two former Labour men - are taking any part in this matter, the fact is that the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest), the Honorary Minister (Mr. Groom), and all the members of the old National Win-the-war Party, though keeping quiet, are involved. They are leaving their newly-found leaders - two Labour men - to say wicked things concerning Labour, and to refuse on behalf of the Government to take ste,ps to bring about a settlement of this dispute. I hope the public will recognise that the Commonwealth Government are not orepared to do anything to bring about industrial peace, but are willing to let the strike extend throughout the length and breadth of Australia in the hope that trade unionism -will be broken up industrially as it has been politically.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) concluded his speech with the statement that the strike is due to an effort on the part of the National Government to smash trade unionism. I venture to suggest that a much truer description of it would be that it is an effort on the .part of those who destroyed the Labour movement as we have known it in Australia to go further, and to destroy the trade union movement.
I have listened with attention to the speeches delivered by honorable members of the Labour Opposition in the hope of hearing some reasons for the strike, or some words in .justification of it. I am not surprised that we have heard nothing of the inner history of this strike from those who have addressed themselves this afternoon to that task. The new masters of the trade union movement have the same contempt for a Labour member in Parliament that they have for the old leaders of trade unionism in this country. The honorable gentlemen who profess to expound the inner working of this strike are little, if any, more in the confidence of the men who made the strike than are honorable members on this side. The whole design was made in the City of Melbourne as part of the anti-conscription campaign a long time ago; and I think that this is the third occasion on which the movement has got away from its leaders. It was not intended that this strike should take place this month; it has come a month before its time. It certainly never could have been intended to have it fought on so -flimsy a pretext as that, when an employer asked his employees to say how they spend the hours for which he pays them, such a request should be regarded as an invasion of the sacred rights of Labour. During the whole of my working life I have had, myself, to fill in just such details as the railway men are now asked to fill in. The Labour paper which I managed is still managed under the . same system, and more details are required from its workmen than the Railways Commissioners are asking from their employees. This new unionism has been opposed by the best men in the trade- union movement since first it showed itself in- Australia.
It preaches a doctrine of utter destruction to the. industries of any country - the doctrine that a man may. loaf, may take the wages of an employer, and not earn them, and that the more a man loafs the more it is to his credit.
– ; w 110 preaches that?
– The gentlemen who are responsible for this strike, and responsible for the destruction of the Labour movement as it existed before last election, preach this doctrine openly, and it is preached in the processions in Sydney to-day as part of the strike propaganda. This pretence of honorable gentlemen not very closely associated with the Labour movement except in its political offices, that this is not ‘being done, is idle talk at this time of day, when everybody interested in the preservation of the trade union movement knows that, unless this new element can be scotched, the movement is going to lose the whole of its power. When they talk about the National Governments of Australia being determined on the destruction of the trade union movement, I say that the only thing that can save the movement for the effective work it has hitherto done is for the political leaders - hardly the political leaders, but the political heads - of the Labour party as it exists to-day to set themselves determinedly to crush out the new element instead of becoming its ready mouth-pieces in a crisis such as this.
What is this strike about? This strike in New South Wales professes to be about the introduction of a card system by which a return is made of the time spent on the various jobs. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) most ingeniously tried to convey the idea that this matter had been in . negotiation for twelve months.
– So it had.
– That is absolutely inaccurate. It is twelve months since the Railway Commissioner asked the men to do what men in other engineering establishments have been doing all along - to fill in their own cards - but at that time they refused to do so; and until a few months, or weeks, ago the proposal had not been revived. Therefore, to say that there had been agitation and negotiations for twelve months is an unfair misrepresentation of the facts.
– You admit it yourself.
– I do not. To show how unreal are the reasons given for this strike, the objection first taken was that the men .were not allowed to fill in the cards themselves; that is, the first public objection taken in New South Wales to the proposal that sub-foremen should fill in the cards, was that the men had not been allowed to fill’ them in themselves. The Commissioner said to the men, “ Twelve months ago you refused to fill in the cards yourselves “ and’ from that time, on a new story hae been told.
But the striking fact in connexion with the trouble is that the leaders of the men have abandoned all pretence that the proposed system is the speeding-up system of America. As is shown quite clearly in the negotiations of the Lord .Mayor of Sydney with the State Government, the condition on which the men now talk of going back to work is not the withdrawal of this iniquitous system of speeding-up, but an inquiry into all the grievances of all the men who have come out. What State enterprise ‘can hope to live, if a Government give in to that sort of proposition - if on the flimsiest pretext a dozen men may stop work somewhere, and immediately’ all the other associated unions come out and refuse to return until a Royal Commission, or some other body, inquires into all the grievances that all the leaders can produce for investigation f I point out again that not only are these new leaders of the Labour movement set on the destruction of the industrial movement as we have known it, but, they are making it impossible for any extension of State enterprise to be considered. They have done more in the past year, in the State of New South Wales - those men who are controlling the trade union movement to-day - to undo the work that the Labour movement has done in securing the nationalization of industries, than all the enemies of nationalization have done in the twentyfive years of the existence of the Labour party. In supporting the men who have the conduct of this strike, those who are pledged to the introduction of nationalization are assisting to make it impossible for further industries to be nationalized. If successful, this doctrine that a man may take the wages of another and loaf - that a man may make a solemn agreement to-day and break it to-morrow - will reduce our nation to a level below that of any other civilized community. What basis are we to have for our association with other men when the pledged word cannot be accepted ? What basis have we for association with bodies of men, lor the conduct of industries, for social intercourse, for anything in the world, if the written agreement given to-day is to be flouted without concern to-morrow ? The doctrines that these men are preaching incessantly throughout the Labour movement are doctrines entirely subversive of all human intercourse. The duty of trade unionists who respect honour - who believe in a fair return for the benefits they enjoy at the hands of society to-day - is to set themselves the task of rooting out of the movement every element of this new propaganda that has been brought into Australia during the past seven “or eight years.
– Seven or eight years?
– Yes, since it began to get any hold. /
– Then you belonged to the party for five of those years.
– The honorable member for Illawarra would have been out defending the strikers to-day if it had nob been for the conscription issue..
– I venture to say, and I speak with full knowledge, that but for the conscription issue we should not have been considering this strike at all. Those honorable gentlemen who, by their approval, have incited those men to remain on strike when they might have gone back with honour and dignity, overlook two facts. First of all, they overlook the fact that this country is at war, and that it- is still on. the knees of the gods whether we shall retain this country. Then they overlook the fact that, by encouraging these men to go out on strike, and keep out, they are producing misery in the families of the best of the unionists. Who are the men who, in these industrial upheavals, always lose their jobs, if jobs are lost? The men who are edging on the strikers take care to get back to their jobs. The man who shouts loudest at the mass meeting is t”he one who goes back, helter-skelter, as in the last tramway strike, and rushes the office for his job. The men who will pay for the mistakes of these new leaders are the best men in the unions, together with their wives and families. Had this fact been kept to the front instead of the personal advantage of some of the leaders being kept in view, the strike would have been over in a week.
I am inclined to believe that while the overwhelming majority of the trade unionists of this country are entirely opposed to those who are trying to paralyze the arm of the nation in this war, there has been, throughout the industrial organizations, a persistent and consistent propaganda directed to one object, and to one object only - the object of provoking any trouble anywhere that will add to the difficulties of the Government in conducting the war. The best evidence that honorable gentlemen on the other side could have given of the sincerity of their protestations of loyalty at this time would have been to tell the men what the inevitable effect of their action must be. Why was it necessary that the State Government should give an answer to the men in twenty-four hours? The Leader of the Opposition this afternoon gave no reason for the strike at all. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) gave some reasons; but neither of these gentlemen attemped to say why it was necessary that the Railway Commissioners, should come to a decision in twenty-four hours.
– After twelve months there must be some ending.
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that it is not a question of twelve months.
– You admitted so yourself.
Mr.LAMOND. - I did not. I said that twelve months ago the men were asked to fill in the cards,- and declined to do so.
– That is what the honorable member for Cook said.
– No ; that honorable member said that this proposed system had been a matter of negotiations for twelve months, whereas, from the time the men declined to fill in the cards, there were no negotiations until a week or two before the strike occurred.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The remarks of the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), from beginning to end, may have been absolutely correct, and, as such, we might possibly agree with them. But the honorable member presents a most remarkable spectacle. He could not enter into the debate without making some imputation on honorable members on this side. Whatever may have been the faults and errors of trade unionism - and there are. many - they do not commence to-day; they date back for many years. They are part of the weak- “ ness of the individuals composing the unions.- But the honorable member for Illawarra never assumed the virtues of unionism until it provided him with a job, nor did he find any vices in it until he lost that job. We have had denunciations of trade unionism for twenty years past. The right honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Joseph Cook) left it because he thought that it was being improperly manipulated, and other men from ‘time to time have denounced it, but we have not heard from the honorable member for Illawarra a single word as to its vices or follies until he came to be separated from it. So far as the honorable member is concerned, I leave the matter at that point.
– The statement of the honorable member is untrue.
– It is absolutely true.
– I ask’ the honorable member for Illawarra to withdraw his statement
– I withdraw it and apologize; but on a point of order I ask whether the honorable member for Bourke is in order in imputing to me- motives that are not based on facts. He said that I gave expression to certain principles only when I was paid, not before and not after. His statement is untrue, and I would like him to withdraw it.
– If the honorable member for Bourke made any reflections on the honorable member for Illawarra he was certainly not in order.
– I had no wish to make any imputation or reflection upon the honorable member for Illawarra. I merely stated the facts, and I left the matter there. It is open to any one else to make whatever imputation he chooses. In the succession of strikes that we have had in Australia the honorable member and others have not been opponents of the action of the workers.-
I lament the situation that confronts the country to-day as much as any man does. The Prime Minister says that it is not the product of an industrial dispute, but that it is a conspiracy brought about by men who are Syndicalists and Sinn Feiners, whose objects are to bring danger to the country, and to do things that are inimical to the Commonwealth and its anxiety to carry on the war to a successful issue.- If the Prime Minister believes this, why has he not done his duty, and brought these men to justice? This Government has refrained from taking any action against these men who are supposed to be the enemies of the country and the Empire, and who are supposed to be preventing the Government from doing what it wishes to do in connexion with the war. No one knows what that is. No one has seen any action towards winning the war on the part of the Government since it has been elected.
– The honorable member is right; the Government ought to take action against these men.
– It ought to take action, but it has refrained from doing so.- Either the statement that the men who have instigated this strike are inspired by Syndicalists and Sinn Feiners cannot be true, or the Government stands condemned of treachery to the community and the Empire by remaining inactive.
The Dean of Sydney seems to have put the present position accurately -and his contention is unanswerable; at least, it has not yet been answered - when he said that if the employer is entitled to put conditions on the men, the men have not a less right to resist. The Age, in a leading article in which it condemns the men, admits that what incited this strike was the action of the New South “Wales Government in producing the cause of the dispute.
– In refusing to arbitrate.
– I am not talking of arbitration. If it was a case in which a body of men held up the Government by asking for the imposition of a new set of conditions, the primary cause of the trouble would be theirs, but it is admitted on all sides that the primary cause of this trouble was the action of the State Government. If ever there has been need for clear and definite action on the part of the Commonwealth Government to intercede with a State Government it is present now. In fact, when the present dispute arose the . Commonwealth should have demanded of the State Government that it should do nothing to precipitate this country into an industrial crisis at this time.
If it be true that, behind all this, there is a veiled and shadowy figure of some unnamed conspiracy, the Government likewise stands condemned. Surely the conspirators are known. They cannot be like those German agents who walked abroad and distributed money everywhere, and yet could not be discovered. We were told that German influence had been eliminated, and that the last tentacle had been cut, but it was a deliberate lie, or it was an act of treachery on the part of the Government that no action was taken against those “ German agents who were supposed to be walking abroad and distributing this money broadcast.
We have to face the present position and deal with it with something more than words. If men are conspiring to do what the Prime Minister accuses them of doing it was an act of folly on their part to declare a strike at this time of the year. In the history of the Commonwealth there has been no proposition put up by the employing class or by a Government representing the employing class against the working classes and against which it was believed the latter would rebel that has not been put up just about July or August. That was the case in the big maritime strike, and again in 1893 ; it was the case also in 1903 ; it was likewise the case in the agricultural implement makers’ struggle. Whenever anything is put up that the working’ classes are likely to dispute it is always done in July or August. I see no evidence of any conspiracy in this strike, but I do see evidence of mad folly.
The right honorable member for Parramatta, in stating that 75 per cent, of the men are absolutely loyalists in regard to the interests of their country, has answered the statement that these men are the mere tools and instruments of individuals. As a matter of fact, the men on strike are absolutely leaderless. I have never seen such spontaneous action, such a spontaneous uprising of the working classes as has occurred on this occasion. There has been a clear break away from everything. As the Prime Minister has said, the trouble has always been to hold the men. Any fool can get men to go on strike.
If the interests of the country are at stake, surely the National Government should say, “We are going to bring this to an end.” Where is this matter going to end? Surely we are not going tolet it drift! I know nothing of the merits of the case, and I do not propose to discuss them; I do . not raise the question of whether the card system proposed to be introduced is a good one or not; I simply say that if this trouble is inimical to the interests of the country it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to intervene, but if they do take action let them be sure that they do not merely take action against the workers.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
– It is the usual custom to call on the Orders of the Day after a debate has been interrupted under standing order 119, bub a practice has recently been initiated which has been found to meet the convenience and desires of honorable members, namely, that of proceeding with questions upon notice before calling on the Orders of the Day. Subject to the approval of the House, I propose to follow that practice to-day.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
A statement to that effect was made by Mr. F. G. Brown, but on investigation was. proved to be unsubstantiated. The honorable member’s attention is directed to the report by Mr. J. M. Higgins, the Honorary Metallurgical Adviser to the Commonwealth Government, on wolfram, &c, which has been published as a parliamentary paper, and in which this question is fully dealt with.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, 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 Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What recognition does the Defence Department intend to make in connexion with the services of officers and non-commissioned officers held for home service?
– The cases of officers who have performed meritorious services in Australia are considered from time to time, and rewards in the nature of brevet and honorary rank are given. The question of suitable rewards for warrant and non-commissioned officers is now under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Every effort is made by the Department to fillpositions in Australia by returned officers who are suitable and willing to be so employed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, 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 : -
Strike Manifesto: Police for Broken Hill : Delayed Telegram
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Why was the Argus newspaper of Saturday last permitted to publish the manifesto of the New South Wales strikers when other newspapers in Melbourne were denied by the Censors the right of publication?
– Inquiry has been made, and it has been ascertained that the publication of the manifesto of the New South “Wales strikers was not forbidden by the Censor, and that any paper is at liberty to publish such manifesto as far as the censorship is concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– I am informed that, owing to serious civil disorder, with which the local police were powerless to deal, it was found necessary by the State Government to send additional police from Adelaide, and, subsequently, others from Sydney. I am further informed that, in order to meet with any development, a special train was held in readiness to despatch further police to Broken Hill.No special train was detailed for the conveyance of soldiers to Broken Hill.
Mr.CONSIDINE asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
-Inquiries are being made, and an answer will . be furnished as soon as possible.
Mr.HIGGS asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has any money been paid up to the 30th June, 1917, to any person, firm, or company for printing a manual of emergency legislation ?
If so, how much,” and to whom; and is it intended to continue this payment?
– I would re fer the honorable member to my reply to a similar questionby the honorable member for Dampier on the 2nd August last (seeHansard, p. 714).
Representation in England: Germans Employed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers, to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained, and supplied as soon as available.
Mr.CONSIDINE asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether a sum of money has been paid by the Commonwealth as a subsidy or for any other reason to the Independent Cable Service?
If so, what was the date of the first payment?
What was the date of the last payment?
What was the total amount paid ?
– 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 Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on the table of tha Library the correspondence between the Federal Government and the Hon. T. J. Ryan, Premier of Queensland, or any other person, in regard to the recent industrial dispute on the railways in North Queensland?
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will place on the table of the Library the papers relating to the appointment of Mr. A. R. Reid, 5th class clerk, GovernorGeneral’s Department?
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. 1 be postponed until after the consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3.
– During the whole existence of this Parliament the privileges of honorable members under the standing order which provides for the discussion of grievances, every third Thursday have been maintained. Grievance day provides the only opportunity now left to private members for dealing with public matters. The Prime Minister has deprived us of the right to bring business before the House,, and now he proposes to take from us the opportunity to discuss public affairs. He, forgets that there are other memibers in the House besides Ministers. We, on this side, however few in number, are entitled to consideration and the enjoyment of the privileges of membership. I strongly object to the postponement of the discussion of grievances. I have some matters to bring forward which are of importance, and the postponement proposed by the Prime Minister would prevent me from doing that. Honorable members should protest energetically and effectively against any proposal to deprive them of their privileges. After what occurred last night, we may have ground for believing ‘that our privileges are reaching the vanishing point. I protest, against the proposal of the Prime Minister.
– I am staggered by the proposal of the Prime Minister. In every Parliament under, the British flag Grievance Day provides an opportunity for memibers to bring injustice under the notice of the House. Notwithstanding what occurred last night, I should be sorry to think that the’ Prime Minister deliberately intended to rob us of the right to discuss grievancesunder standing ordeT 241. You, Mr Speaker, are the custodian of our liberties, and should, if the occasion calls for it, rule even against those who placed you in power. I have expressed my pleasure at your election to the high office that you occupy. When you took that office, you pledged yourself to maintain the liberties of every member, no matter where he might sit.
– I have moved the postponement of the Order of ‘the Day to allow of the consideration of a matter which is urgent.
Dr. MALONEY. Shall we have an opportunity to discuss grievances after that business has been dealt with?
– Yes. As a compromise, I suggest that the discussion of grievances should go on until the dinner adjournment, and that this evening the House should deal with the business which the Government wishes to take in hand.
– I feel that, if we give way in the slightest- degree in respect of any invasion of our -privileges, we shall be met with a still further infringement of them very soon. The history of all Parliaments shows that every party some day becomes the minority. The grievance discussion might, perhaps, in any case, be ended before lie dinner adjournment; but, in my opinion, it would be better to let it proceed unchecked, and, should it then be necessary to keep the House sitting all night to get the Government business through, I promise to stay to keep a quorum. There is a grievance about which I wish to speak, and which I shall mention now, as an argument against’ the postponement of the Order of the Day.
– I am afraid I cannot allow that. The discussion now must be strictly relevant to the question of postponement.
– I rise to order. The second paragraph of standing order 241 says -
Except that while the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means are open, the first Order of the Day on every third Thursday shall be either Supply or Ways and Means, and that on that Order of the Day being read, the question shall be proposed - “ That the Speaker do now leave the chair.” to which question any member shall be at liberty to address the House, or move any amendment thereon.
I submit that the motion to postpone the Order of the Day is out of order; that what is needed to do what the Prime Minister desires is the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I am willing to withdraw my motion if honorable members opposite will accept my suggestion that the grievance debate should continue until 6.30 only.
– The Order of the Day had not been read when the.i Prime Minister rose to make his motion. Similar motions have previously been moved. As an instance in point, on the 21st April, 1904, when it was ordered that general business and Orders of the Day No. 1, Government business, be postponed until consideration of Order of the) Day No. 2, Government business. Frequently, in every session, similar motions are moved. The motion is in order, and it is for the House to decide what shall be done. ^
– I agree to the Prime Minister’s suggestion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Sentences of Soldiers on Active Service - Industrial Crisis : Alleged Sending of .Soldiers to Broken Hill :. Intercepted Correspondence with Broken Hill : Censoring of. -Strike News: Taylor Card System:! American Industrial Methods: Referendum, Initiative and Recall.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do how leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into a Committee . of Supply - proposed.
.- The Prime Minister has told us that the events that have been under discussion this afternoon constitute, not a strike, but a revolt.
– A political rebellion.
– Just so. If that be so, it is the right honorable gentleman’s bounden duty to take action. At present, there can be no communication between one body of workmen and another. The country is being governed, not by the ordinary laws, but by regulations under the War Precautions Act, which it was never intended should be used as they have been used. The Government are using against the workmen the powers conferred by that Act. I draw attention to the fact that the ordinary processes of law are not being exercised in the country at the present time. The War Precautions regulations, which, we were told, would never be used for the purposes for which they are being used, and the power to issue which the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), myself, and others opposed in this House, are being employed to-day in connexion with a local industrial trouble. The latest regulation is of such a character that no man can stand on the public platforms of the country in safety. He does not know in what manner he may be infringing the laws, or to what penalties he will be subjected. We have been told that the men on strike are causing immense injury to recruiting. I assure the House that the principal injury to recruiting is not caused so much by the action of any men in this country as by the statements which are reaching the people in hundreds of letters sent from the Front. The mail to-day has brought me two or- three letters mentioning several cases. Here are particulars of several cases that came before Brigadier-General Graham-Thomson. One man was asleep in his dug-out when the sergeant-major came in and kicked him. He absented himself for forty-eight hours. He was charged with being absent without leave and with having struck a superior officer in the execution of his duty. It was admitted that the kick was administered before the offence was committed, but he received two years’ imprisonment. The prisoner’s letter continues -
There are 250 prisoners here, 75 per cent. Australians. The work is mostly pick andshovel. I have been bashed about with trenchtool handles till I am raw meat from top to bottom. I have been here in chains from the middle of March last; These chains fit round your legs, connected with another chain that runs to the waist, and is there fastened. With this gear on, we are ordered to work at the double, and if you fall you are kicked or jumped upon.
No. 4769, of the 6th Battalion, was tried by court martial on the 13th July, 1916. He Was charged with drunkenness and with having fallen out of the march, and received twelve months’ imprisonment. He was put into a cell, and StaffSergeant Barry called him out, and bashed him on the head with a trenching implement and when the man came to his senses he found a gag in his mouth. These sort of statements are contained in hundreds of letters that are coming to Australia, and are doing more to injure recruiting than any action of the indus- trial workers. No. 858, of the 6th Battalion, was charged with seven offences - (1) Drunkenness, (2) absent without leave, (3) striking an officer, (4) insubordination, (5) breaking out of camp (6) refusing to obey orders, (7) refusing to parade, and the same officer who gave the other man twelve months for falling out on 9 march to Armentieres awarded this man forty-two days’ No. 1 field punishment. I shall state subsequently why this soldier escaped with so light a sentence when the other man got twelve months.
– Why not state the reason now?
– Because I am not sure of my facts, and ‘I have been charged before with making statements that are not supported by facts. Another man from Heidelberg was fined £15, and his father, who is a cripple, cannot get any money for maintenance. Another man was brought before a Court and charged with neglect of duty, and was “fined fi 15s., and was kept seventy days in detention before being placed on trial, and his pay for the whole period, £17 10s. was stopped.
– You mentioned one trial which had taken place in July, 1916. Did all the cases occur in 1916?
– They occurred in 1916 and since. These are the things that are detrimentally affecting recruiting. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) read to the House particulars of a whole series of cases in which brutal punishment was inflicted, but nothing has been done to remedy the injustice. Hundreds of letters are reaching the sisters and mothers ‘of Australian soldiers in all parts of the Commonwealth with regard to the harsh treatment meted out to men at the Front, and it is the circulation of these facts that acta as a deterrent to enlistment.
The Prime Minister asks, “ Who is to govern this country, Democracy or the strikers?” I say a more pertinent question is. whether the country shall be governed by a Democracy or by the profiteers. What is the underlying cause of the discontent among the great mass of the people and amongst the organized workers? It is not incitement by union officials, because I venture to express the opinion that the ‘ mass of organized workers to-day are, to a large extent, leaderless. The prevailing terror of the War Precautions Act and its regulations makes many men afraid to come out on the platform and say what they believe. But the fact which can no longer be hidden is that,’ throughout the masses of the people, there is an immense and rapidly growing discontent. It is an absolute fraud and an insult to the country to say that those thousands of men, generally intelligent men, are organized for revolt by a few underground conspirators. It is the general maps of discontent among the workers everywhere that has incited them, in spite of the advice of their leaders, to engage in the trouble that is confronting the Government to-day. That discontent arises largely from the fact that the profiteers are governing the country. Bodies- of workmen throughout Australia who have adopted peaceful processes, who have approached the Arbitration Court and the Wages Board, and have followed the ordinary processes of the law in order to improve their conditions, and, who in many cases have loyally abided by the awards of those tribunals, have found that when they get an increase of 6d. or ls. per day on the one hand, the profiteer on the other hand takes from them, their wives, and children, An additional 3s. per day. I do not rely on my own knowledge in making that statement. I take the words of the Prime Minister before he went to England as to the conditions in this country. In a pamphlet which he was about to issue in connexion with the referenda, he stated that the bitter enemies of the country were the men who were seeking to make profits during this time of war. Profiteering is the fundamental cause of the widespread discontent. The upheaval is not a conspiracy, because there is no organization in it. It is a spontaneous outburst of popular resentment.
– Is it not a fact that of all the countries engaged in the war Australia has experienced the smallest relative rise in prices?
– I am prepared to admit that. Many things that do not cause discontent in other countries produce an aggravated form of discontent in this Commonwealth, largely because our workmen have enjoyed a higher stan dard of living, and, therefore, object more keenly to its reduction. In 1903, when the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) was Premier of Victoria, and a big strike was in progress, I appealed to him to show some consideration in the direction of a settlement. I urged that no bitter and hostile spirit should be displayed, but that, recognising the crisis which confronted the country, the Government should not ask who was right and who was wrong, but should seek earnestly to secure a settlement. That is the soundest policy that could be pursued by any Government to-day. I urge its adoption by the Government in the present crisis. I see quite plainly what is happening. The most bitter men’ in this Parliament are not our old opponents, such as the right honorable member for Swan (Sir John Forrest), and the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine). The most bitter and vindictive and the most foolish are those who were our old associates in the Labour party. The present struggle is the outcome of a personal, political vendetta between two parties of politicians, and it is an absurdity.
– Who is in a better position to judge of the merits of this dispute than former Labour men ?
– Even if that be so, is this bitterness a sound policy to apply in connexion with what is not a revolt, but a spontaneous protest by a body of workmen, and which may develop into we know not what. The Governments may defeat the workers in this struggle; they may crush them down, but they can never destroy the fundamental basis of their organizations. The Government may intimidate the leaders of the men to-day, but the great fact to be faced is that this is not an ordinary time such as that in which the honorable member for Flinders dealt with the railway strikers. This is a time of war, of great nervous strain, and of inevitable carelessness and indifference to events which in normal times would be viewed with the gravest concern, and if the men are pressed too far we may at last reach a point when even among the masses, among men whose disposition it is to be orderly and lawabiding, a blood-lust will spring up, with consequences no man can foresee. The workers are confronted daily with newspapers, ; the columns of which reek of blood, and mention the slaughter of immense numbers of men as quite an ordinary daily occurrence) and one can understand that the readers may become careless of -what happens and begin to view matters with an indifference to bloodshed to which we are not accustomed. Honorable members opposite may say that a man has not offended against the laws of the country because he is a loyal citizen, but by his very actions he is building up a spirit of resentment amongst the workers engaged in the struggle. If this trouble continues, we may reach a point when the Government will have to take up arms to suppress the strikers, and when that happens in a time of war the consequences may be something that all would be very anxious to avoid. We ought not to discuss in this Chamber who is right and who is wrong in the present dispute. It may be that the men are wrong, and I say, even -if they are, ought ir not to be the duty of the Government- to endeavour to bring influence to bear on the Government of New South Wales, and say that no matter who is right and who is wrong, there must be a conclusion to this conflict?
I shall conclude, as I began, with a quotation from Dean Talbot, who said that when a body of employers, or a Government, impose new conditions on men, those men have a right to resist. If it. was unwise for the men to resist, it was equally unwise in a period of war for the New South Wales Government to impose new labour conditions. It may be absolutely true that the card system and altered conditions were necessary for the improved working of the railways.
– The Arbitration Court has been imposing new conditions in every award.
– That took place after deliberation. I am not saying that if these altered conditions had been agreed upon by a process of arbitration, or had been awarded by a Court or Wages Board, the men would not be loyally bound io observe them. I have always told the tramway employees that when they go before a Court or a reference board they must not always expect to get what they want. They cannot] protest if the decision is adverse to them, but they must’ loyally abide by it, for only by that means can we get industrial peace. But those are not the conditions obtaining today.
– Those conditions obtained in the coal trouble. A special tribunal made a long investigation into the dispute.
– That is so. But in any case there existed certain conditions in the New South Wales Railways at the commencement of the war, and an agreement had been made between the Commissioners and the men that those conditions should .not be altered. It would have been a sound and wise policy to have allowed the conditions to remain unchanged during the currency of the war. I earnestly urge the supporters of the Government to bring influence to bear on Ministers, and* I appeal to the Government not to pursue a vendetta against the workers, but to put aside all questions of right or wrong, and endeavour to bring this trouble speedily to a conclusion by telling the Government of New .South Wales that a settlement is necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth. Let us force a conclusion to the conflict. Let some tribunal be appointed to deal with the grievances of the men and some decision arrived at. Th,at is the soundest and wisest policy for Australia and for the future happiness of the people. It is the only safe means by which the Government can take effective action to assist in winning the war. If they desire to assist in winning the war, they can hope to do so only by easing the bitter feeling that exists, and not by pursuing a policy which tends to intensify that bitterness. These are the only suggestions I have to make. I have no desire to say anything that will incite bitter feeling on the part of people either inside or outside this House. I urge the Government to bring its influence to bear on the New South Wales Ministry, with the object] of bringing this industrial trouble to an end. We have ‘only to secure the settlement of the dispute so far as the New South Wales railway workers are concerned, and an end will be brought to the whole struggle. I present these facts to the Government for their consideration.
.- I wish to discuss certain matters relating to the present industrial upheaval. This afternoon I asked the Minister representing the Minister ‘for Defences -
The answer I received was an evasion. It waa as follows: -
I am informed that owing to serious, civil disorder with which the local police were powerless to deal, it was found necessary by the State Government to send additional police from Adelaide, and subsequently others from Sydney. I am further informed that in order to meet with any development, a special train was held in readiness to despatch further police to Broken Hill. No special .train was detailed for the conveyance of soldiers to Broken Hill.
– That is not an evasion.
– It evades the question as to whether or not a picked body of soldiers from Mitcham Camp was held in readiness to be sent to Broken Hill.
– It is a complete denial of the allegation.
– It is only a denial that a. special train was held in readiness for the despatch of soldiers to Broken Hill. I may briefly state the facts which led me to put this question. Recently I visited Sydney, and subsequently went to Broken Hill. In passing through Adelaide, I was told, in the course of conversation with some soldiers from Mitcham Camp, that it was a positive fact that a picked body of men was held in readiness for despatch to Broken Hill. Certain employees of the South Australian Government also told me that a special train to convey the men to Broken Hill was held in readiness at Mitcham Camp.
– The honorable member has a direct contradiction of the statement as to the special train: I presume he accepts it.
– I cannot do much else. I certainly accept the statement made to me by men in Mitcham Camp, who had no reason to tell me an untruth. One of their number .actually informed me that he was thinking of applying for inclusion in the contingent, as he desired, to revisit Broken Hill. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the statement made by these men.
There is another question to which I desire to refer. This afternoon I asked the Postmaster-General whether it was a fact that a telegram sent on the 17th August last by the secretary of the Barrier branch of the Coal and Shale Miners Federation to Mr. Willis, general secretary of the federation in Sydney, asking what action should be taken by the Barrier miners, was not delivered until Monday, 20th August, the day after the Broken Hill miners went on strike. I inquired further whether the PostmasterGeneral would inform the House of the cause of the delay in the delivery of the message. The answer I received was that inquiries were being made, and that a reply would be furnished as soon as possible. While at Broken Hill, the secretary of the Barrier branch of the Federated Coal and Shale Miners informed me that he had sent this telegram to Mr. Willis. That telegram was kept back ; it was not delivered promptly to Mr. Willis. Messrs. Willis, Thompson, and Kavanagh were arrested in a provocative manner, and the men at Broken Hill received no reply to their message. On the other hand, a news telegram from Sydney was allowed to reach Broken Hill stating that the coal mine employees all over the country had been called out by the Strike Committee sitting in Sydney. The telegram to Mr. Willis did not reach him until the Broken Hill miners had gone out on strike.
– I suppose the honorable member is certain of his facts?
– I am. I met Mr. Willis in Sydney, and while in Broken Hill I also met Mr. Barnett, who told me that he had despatched the telegram. Mr. Brookfield, the member for Sturt in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, telegraphed to the editor of the BarrierTruth asking for the true facts in connexion with the alleged riot in Broken Hill. Mr. Innes informs me that he telegraphed a reply stating that the South Australian police were responsible for the trouble in Broken Hill. The telegram, as it reached Mr. Brookfield, however, stated, “ Police not responsible for the trouble.” That also calls for some explanation.
Coming to the present industrial trouble, the fact which confronts us is that the New South Wales Railways Commissioner tried to impose new conditions on the railway men. The men offered, and are still offering, to return to work simultaneously with the appointment of a tribunal to deal with the whole matter, butthe Government of New South Wales, backed up by its friends, is still holding out. It refuses to depart from the attitude which it originally took up. It seems to be a case of “ Servants, obey your masters ! Do as you are told ! You have no right to open yourmouths in protest against these new conditions. You must first of all accept them, and then the Government, if, in its wisdom, it sees fit to do so, may appoint a tribunal to inquire into your alleged grievances.”
– There are established Courts to settle such disputes.
– There are some grievances with which those Courts cannot deal. ^
– But the men have not tried to go before the Arbitration Court.
– One of the principal requests made by the men is that a special tribunal shall be appointed to deal with grievances that are outside the jurisdiction of the State industrial Court. Mr. Fuller is aware of that fact, and so are his friends, both here and elsewhere. The men asked that their conditions of employment should be inquired into by a special tribunal. Why is that request refused? Is it because the State Government fear an exposure of the incompetence and mismanagement which exist in connexion withthe Railway Department. What about the material that has been wasted? What have honorable members to say as to the charges that have been made by the men in asking ‘ for the appointment of this tribunal? The men have said that over £50,000 of material has been wasted through the incompetence of officials in the running of the New South Wales railways. They allege that material can be dug up in the workshops, where it has been buried in order to hide the incompetence of certain officials. Notwithstanding these . allegations, we hear some men talking about the railway workers slowing down. Such charges have been made, more particularly by the latest converts to the National party - by former defenders of the principle of striking. I was associated with the honorable member forIllawarra (Mr. Lamond) in the tramway strike about which he spoke so glibly this afternoon, and I am able to say that he wrote leading articles in the Worker pointing out the inherent justice of that strike. He and I were members of the Strike Committee.
– What has changed him?
– He has lost his job.
– Trade unionists once broke up an office with which the honorable member was associated at Broken Hill.
– Trade unionists have never broken up any office in Broken Hill.
– I refer t’o the Socialist office with- which the honorable member was associated -when he first went to Broken Hill.
– I was associatedwith the Socialists, and I am a Socialist to-day.
– These men will be wanting the honorable member’s seat three years hence, just as ‘the honorable member and others were waiting for our seats.
– I do not know whether I shall ever be waiting for the honorable member’s seat. In any event* whoever is waiting for it will not have to wait long.
– The only man to shift the present representative of Denison from his seat will be an undertaker.
– He might) be an appropriate person to shift him. The point that I wish to make is that most of the vicious attacks that! have been made on’ the strikers have come from ex -Labour members and ex-union officials - men who, when it was in their interests to do so, used every argument, and resorted to every artifice, to support the very men they are attacking to-day.
– They are like Saul, who saw the light while on the way te Damascus.
– And - like Saul, they will bring forth a new David. King Saul in his old age was not quite right in his mind, and when this Government! come back to their right) mind there will be another David in power.
– The only trouble is that the honorable member is referring to the wrong Saul.
– That may be. I naturally thought that) a Nationalist member, in referring to Saul, would have in mind the seeker of asses. *
– I was dealing, so to speak, with the new National dispensation.
– However, I must return to the subject before us. The present action of labour has been termed a revolution; and it is alleged that there has been a conspiracy, as the Prime Minister has said, on the part of Syndicalists and Sinn Feiners.
– In what group do you reckon yourself ?
– Not the particular group the honorable member is’ in, anyhow. I would sooner be in either of the two mentioned by the Prime Minister than in the one with which the honorable member is allied. I, too, believe there has been a conspiracy, just as I believe that Mr. Fuller, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, was right when he stated that there was a strike promotion committee in New South Wales. I think, however, that both Mr. Fuller and the Prime Minister know more about the strike promotion committee, and the conspiracy to cause this general upheaval, Ulan any other men in’ Australia. I believe that this upheaval is a direct result of the conscription agitation in Australia - -ihat it is the result of the. failure “to secure conscription, not for the purpose of winning the war in Europe, but for the purpose of “winning the war” against labour in Australia by diluting skilled labour and bringing down the strength of the industrial organizations. That, in my opinion, was the real purpose of asking the people to vote for conscription. Ever since that conscription campaign failed, there has been a newspaper campaign against’ the labour unions in Australia. The people have been told that the insatiable demands of labour must be met by organization on the part of employers - that the cessations of work from time to time will have to stop, and that labour must be taught that it does not rule the country. That is the- kind of business that has been going on ; and we have had the mouthpieces of the employers speaking in similar strain throughout the length and breadth of the land. Mr. Beeby has, metaphorically speaking, been dragging his coat all around New South Wales, and inviting the unions to tread on the tail ; he has talked about the trend of industrial organization, and the development of one big union, which, according to him, will attempt to dictate to the Government of the country. Let me say, right here now, that the industries of the country intend to dictate to the Government of the country, because they intend to have the government of the country in their hands.
– Outside of this Parliament ?
– The honorable member knows little of industrial organization, or he would not ask such a silly question.
– I have done more for labour than you have, but I never lived on the movement.
– I have never made it a practice to boast of the number of people I have “done “.
– These interjections must cease. I ask the honorable member for Barrier to address his remarks to the Chair, and take no notice of interjections.
– When I was interrupted, I was speaking of those gentlemen who just now are trotting around » the country telling the people that there is a damnable conspiracy on the part of labour and certain inciters to revolution. Those gentlemen have been engaged in working up public feeling against labour ever since the failure of conscription to find approval. There is no doubt in my mind that the card system was introduced into the New South Wales railway workshops with the full knowledge of what the result would be. The interference with telegrams, not only at Broken Hill, but elsewhere, and also the interference with the letters and mails of . persons connected with the industrial and political movements of this country, show that there has been a conspiracy, but that conspiracy has been on the part of the employers of the country, and their agents. There never was a more damnable conspiracy than this conspiracy to force men out on strike against their will, and for the purpose of breaking down the labour organization.
– What proof have you of that?
– What did Campbell, the secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association, say in Sydney? He said that that association had been preparing for this strike, which they knew had to come - that when it did come, it had not found them unprepared, because for the last few months they had been organizing free labour.
– That was for defence; they were not attacking the men.
– Of course, no one would ever dream of charging the employers with making an attack on Labour ! It is always, we know, Labour that attacks the employers ! The fact remains that there was an organization in existence, before this trouble arose, -for the purpose of obtaining free labour - for the purpose of obtaining National volunteers - with a view to breaking the strike that the employers knew was going to take place. Mr. Fuller and the Prime Minister have both stated that they were fully aware that a strike would occur - that’ there was a conspiracy to promote a general strike in Australia, and the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) has made a similar statement on his own account to-day. Yet these gentlemen pose as injured innocents who were taken unawares by this strike. It is a lie that there was any such conspiracy on the part of Labour; but there was a conspiracy on the other side, when the conscription issue failed, to repeat ‘the result of the maritime strike in Australia for the purpose of downing Labour. Before this Parliament finishes its term I would hot be much surprised to see the electorates gerrymandered, if Labour is beaten, . to prevent Labour ever getting back to the Treasury benches.
We know what is behind all this. We know that the hundreds of thousands of pounds that were spent on the election of honorable members opposite have to be paid back somehow. We have heard about the £4,000,000 that the new award , has cost thepastoral industry, and how a general uprising in Australia, if provoked, might have the effect of saving that money. We have heard a great deal about the 95 per cent, of honest, hardheaded working men, and the 5 per cent, of walking delegates, and so forth, though I was glad to hear from the Minister for the Navy to-day that the 5 per cent, has risen to 25 per cent.
– The returned soldiers will settle that!
– We hear a great deal about the returned soldiers, but we are not told about those soldiers 400 or 500 strong who are heading: the strikers’ demonstrations through the streets of Sydney, as I myself saw on Sunday week, the soldiers carrying a huge banner on which was an inscription to the effect that the returned sailors and soldiers “ stood solidly by their own union comrades “ in the “ fight for truth and justice.”
– There is no applause for that!
– Of course not; the censor cut that out of the newspapers. The censorship was established for the purpose of preventing the enemies of the Empire obtaining information of military value in the conduct of the war, but it is now used for the purpose of preventing Australian people knowing what has taken place in Australia in regard to industrial and political conditions. Instructions have been issued to the press that it is not to make any mention of the fact that returned soldiers are taking part in these strike processions. Everything that is possible is done by the censorship to hamper Labour and prevent the press of the country from giving the people a fair statement of the strikers’ case. Everything that is possible is done to misrepresent the workers, and vilify and malign them, and this is in the name of “ winning the war.”
– The Strike committee’s statement has been published.
– Yes, but only after the Argus published it in defiance of the censor; prior to that the other newspapers had been refused permission. Every possible use is made of the legislation that was passed, ostensibly to assist in winning the war, against Labour organizations, with the object of breaking down the labour conditions in Australia.
– Give one case.
– The War Precautions Act.-
– Give a concrete case.
– There is no need to go from Broken Hill to get cases. The Labour daily newspaper in Broken Hill was fined £100 for printing the first electioneering speech I delivered at that place.
– I should say that was cheap !
– I did not look at it from an advertising point of view, though I know the honorable member would consider £100 as a mere bagatelle in that connexion. Time after time that Labour newspaper has been persecuted for what it has published, and I need go no further for-an illustration that “ Jack “ Brookfield, the much-persecuted member for Sturt in the New South Wales Parliament, who has been most unfairly treated throughout the country. Again, about fifty odd men have been arrested at Broken Hill, some thirty of them under the Unlawful Associations Act. The charge in many of the cases would take half-an-hour to read ; and it is hard to say where it was dug up, if not from the dark ages. A remarkable feature of these proceedings is that the men who have made themselves most obnoxious to the Broken Hill mining companies in times of industrial peace are singled out for prosecution in times of industrial trouble. The whole conduct of the fight - the alleged non-interference of the Federal Administration, and its actual interference on the side of the employers - shows that there is a conspiracy to “down” Labour, and smash the unions, and afterwards, I suppose, to gerrymander the electorates in order to prevent Labour ever getting into power again. This would give the other side another quarter of a century in possession of the coercive powers of the country, and enable them to impede the growth and development of the industrial movement - to reduce Labour to the impotent state in which it found itself after the 1890 strike. That is the scheme, and that is what the people of the country . will wake up to if we are allowed to put our side. We are not now allowed to do that.
The censorship established to win the war has been used for the purpose of breaking Labour. The Government have behind them the moneyed interest, the press, and every public agency, and also the War Precautions Act ready for the individual outside Parliament who opens his mouth for the purpose of telling the public the truth. I do not believe that the Prime Minister or those who sit behind him wish to intervene. I believe that Mr. Beeby, Mr. Fuller, the Prime Minister, and the Federal Ministry generally, know very well the full facts of the case in connexion with this industrial trouble. They are no doubt a very happy family. There will be no interference on the part of the Commonwealth Government, or any action taken by them, towards bringing this conflict to a speedy termination. They are out to “ wallop “ Labour as speedily and effectively as they can. The opportunity given to us to-day to ventilate facts will do little more than allow us to express our feelings in regard to the attitude of the Government. Never was there a more hypocritical attitude taken’ up by any Government, On the one hand they are pretending to be anxious to intervene, and on the other hand they are helping the enemies of Labour.
.- The honorable member, like others on his side, regrets that the Government have not seen fit to intervene in the industrial crisis now existing throughout Australia, more particularly in reference to the situation in New South Wales; but I can assure him that the people of Australia are not behind him and his friends when they ask the Federal Government to interfere at this stage. The people of Australia realize that when the servants of a Democracy go out on strike on no better pretext than that a card system has been introduced, there is no need for interference. Bather do they hold that these men should be brought to the realization that it is their duty to return to work. What is the card system against which these men have rebelled? Mention has been made of the Taylor system. The Leader of the Opposition stigmatized it as a sweating system.
– It is nothing else.
– The honorable member for Melbourne has made a study of this system during the past few days, and he has not one word to say against it.
– Later on you will find that I have got a word to say against it.
– The honorable member’s reading has shown him what, the Taylor system really means. When we speak of the Taylor . system, we have in our minds a number of systems which have been introduced more particularly in the United States of America.
– The Taylor system is a clear and distinct system by itself.
– That is so, but there is also the Gantt system, and there are others. They have all sprung out of the Taylor system, whichwas introduced in the United States of America in 1880 by Mr. Taylor, an engineer in Philadelphia. It struck Mr. Taylor that much of the labour being performed by the workmen in the United States of America was wasted, and he asked himself whether it was not possible to apply scientific management to the utilization of that labour. The Labour leaders in the United States of America opposed the system. I take it that they did so for the same reason that actuates our Labour leaders in opposing its introduction here.
– How many men are working under that system in America?
– I suppose that there are at least 50,000 skilled workmen working under that system.
– The number is more likely to be 2,000,000.
– The population of the United States of America is about 100,000,000. If we divide that number by two we get 50,000,000, and if we divide that 50,000,000 by five we arrive at 10,000,000, a fair proportion of which is 50,000. That is about, the number of men who are devoting their time to the branches of industry in which the Taylor system may be successfully employed.
– Waa it not one of the conditions of labour’s consenting to assist in a war that the system should be wiped out in America?
– No. That may be the attitude of the leaders of Labour in America, but the rank and file, the men who have been employed in institutions where ‘the Taylor system has been in vogue,- are one and all for it. In 1911, When a strike took place in one of the largest arsenals in the United States of America the leaders of the men endeavoured to induce them to remain out on strike until the Taylor system had been abolished, but they kept the men out for a few days only. No sooner did the men find out that the abolition of this system was the sole bone of -contention than they returned to work. Why are the leaders of labour opposed to this system? They oppose it because they find that its introduction weakens their hold upon the men. Every person admits that trade unionism has worked wonders for the working man all over the world. It has resulted in increased- wages, and in improved working conditions.
– They have had to be fought for every inch of the way.
– Yes. That was the sole reason for .the springing up of trade unionism; but men who have been employed in institutions where the Taylor system has been in force find that automatically, as a result of the system, increased wages have resulted, and working conditions have improved. It is ohe of the axioms of the Taylor system that there must be improved working conditions in order to put it into operation.
Here we find that on the pretext of the introduction of the card system into the railway workshops at Randwick the whole industrial fabric of Australia is threatened, and the National Government has been asked to intervene; but the onus is upon the men who have gone out, and upon those who are advising them to remain out until the matter is taken under review. The railway men at Randwick went out on strike on one pretext. The wharf lumpers in Melbourne went out on strike on another pretext. The men on the east- west railway went out on strike on still another pretext. The Minister for the Navy has told us this afternoon that the men at Cockatoo Island have downed their tools. For what reason ? For nothing in connexion with the present trouble.
– They are all in the same union.
– And that union has since been declared ‘’ black.” ,
– I feel confident that the majority of the people of Australia are with the National party in this crisis. It is shown’ by the numbers of men who have volunteered to take over the work which has been dropped by the strikers in the various industries and who have come in from the country, in many cases, at great expense, and are suffering great privations. The people feel that the strikers have not right behind them. The people of Australia are just. Some few months ago, when the coal miners went on strike, on the demand for payment from bank to bank, very many people in Australia sided with them, because they felt that they had justice on their side, but those people are not behind the men who are out on strike to-day. It behoves those honorable gentlemen who have besought the National Government to interfere to go out and do what they can to end this industrial turmoil, instead of, as appears clear to me, fomenting it.
.- I hate war, and the next thing I hate is a strike. I have never advocated a strike; but my memory and my reading tell me that during the long and painful war of industrial progress, whenever a strike has been declared, there was always some reason for it. Therefore, when a strike is declared, knowing that’ there must be some grievance to be remedied, I am with the strikers, and particularly to help the women and children. Behind every soldier are the women and children who suffer from a war, and equally behind every striker are the women and children who suffer from a strike. When I fought for adult suffrage I did hope that when every adult man and woman had a vote there would be no more strikes. I have Deen disillusioned. I regret to say that in tlie last fight the all-powerful financial institutions,” backed up by the great powers of the press, gave the combined party which occupies the Ministerial Benches the huge majority which it secured.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I have been informed that some member on the other side intends to make a record of the time that I spend in this chamber. I car© little for that. This building is situated in the middle of my constituency, and I am therefore frequently called out of the chamber to interview constituents who send in their cards to me, and whom it is my duty to see. When interrupted by the call for a quorum, I was saying that I hate war, and next to war, I hate a strike, because behind the striker, as behind the soldier, I see the woman and the child. I thought that when woman was given the right to vote, strikes would cease, but in that I was deceived. Since the last election, I have recognised that ft is necessary that the men .shall be as independent as the capitalists. The worker has never been in a position to meet the capitalist on equal terms. King Starvation, King Misery, King Penury always help the capitalist; it is nob a fair fight. Tho honorable member for Flinders, when Premier of Victoria, introduced into this chamber the most terrible Coercion Bill ever proposed in a British Parliament; that proposed by the Gladstone Government on the day that the poor bodies of Burke and Cavendish were buried, when one could not wonder at the introduction of a severe measure, did not equal it. I said then, as I say now, that, law or no law, I shall, so far as I, can, help the women and children in ‘their need. I do not care a snap of the fingers for what the Government may do to prevent it”. _ As I said then, I say now, “ Gaol or no gaol, I am willing to do what I can for them.”
Russia, by a magnificent effort, freed 21,000,000 slaves without the loss of a single life, but in this accursed industrial trouble one man has already been shot. A newspaper which is strongly opposing labour at the present time, tlie .Sydney Sunday Times, publishes a photograph of that man(s funeral procession. In it, men are to be seen marching four abreast to do honour to their dead comrade. I ask honorable members if they can expect ‘the honour of such a funeral. Daniel O’ Connell once said that “ nothing in this world was worth the loss of a drop of blood.” I agree with him. I glory in life, and could not believe in a Creator if I did not. It is infamous that the head of the Government! does not take action in the interests of the women and children, and of the men, too, who are suffering because of the strike.
The Prime Minister, when asked the other day what was the meaning of the card system, said that he did not know. He has had long experience of unionism. Men and women collected their pennies, and paid him well - as he deserved to be paid - for what he did for them. Surely during his connexion with unions, he learned something of the card system. An honorable member opposite said that I had studied it only during the last few days, but the quotation that I made regarding it was from a book published in 1904, and that) was not the first book from which I gained knowledge of it. Possibly Mr. Taylor was a scientific observer and inquirer, who never thought that his system would be misused by the “ kind employer,” to use the phrase of the late Mr. Ord, who, in a report on the apprentice system, said that the ‘‘kind employer “ paid his apprentice halfacrown on Saturday and collected it from, him again on the following Monday. Let’ me give an instance of the way in which scientific methods have been abused. As honorable members know, the ingots of pig iron are very heavy and fairly large. A man of magnificent physique, a phenomenal man, only to be equalled by such another as was to be seen in the picture “Cabiria,” was put to work at moving pig iron. His movements were studied and corrected, and after a month’s training, it was found that “he could move 48 tons, whereas the average weight previously handled was 12 tons. That was the result of scientific methods, but the employers used the information as to what was possible by requiring the shifting of 24 tons of pig iron. Thus sweating was brought about by the application of scientific principles. Mr. Foster Fraser is a keen observer - readers of his books do not agree with him in all his statements - but I should like to read
Borne of his observations regarding American methods for honorable members to take as they may think fit. I have a very large acquaintance with Americans who have visited this country, and have had the honour of knowing every American Consul who has been in Melbourne over a very long period of years. Mr. Foster Fraser says on page 48 of his book, Industrial ‘America -
But it is the American idea that the harder a man works the harder he can work, and working under a stimulus like this, an American working man will often do double, and even treble, the work of a British working man, but though it is at an increased wage, it is not a double or treble wage, and that is where the American manufacturer scores.
He says that an English workman will not hurry, bub that he has seen an American workman run to get a hammer. Yet after twelve months the English workman in America will acquire the hustling methods of the American workman. Mr. Fraser says -
It is a hard system - not so hard at Baldwin’s, for Baldwin’s among American works is almost an ideal place.
Baldwin’s is a big engineering works, but they see there that they get every ounce of effort that the men can give during the ten hours that they work each day. Mr. Foster Fraser says - ‘
Where are your elderly workmen, I asked a Philadelphian manufacturer once, twice, three times? At the* third time he opened his cigar case. With a careless smile he said, “ Have a smoke, and we’ll take a car ride along to the cemetery.”
Those who will take the trouble to search the American medical journals - they are not so well indexed as the English publications - will find that the average life of the worker is less in America than in England.
– If that were markedly so, the life assurance companies would alter their rates accordingly, and they have not done that.
– The workers cannot afford to insure.
- Mr. Foster Fraser says -
The majority of the companies will not promote a man to engine-driver over the age of twenty-seven. If by that age he has not proved his ability to drive an engine, he must stop as fireman or something even lower.
To say that the men out on strike are revolutionists and unpatriotic is proved an untruth by the fact that the Randwick union has subscribed £160,000 to patriotic funds. It is all . very well to ask, “ What about the men at the Front ?” I know how the voting there was faked. The soldiers never had a chance to give a fair vote. Let me read from a letter which I received this very day.
I see by a paper that Webster made a speech from the Post Office that they may put the referendum again before the people. Well, all I can say isthat Hughes and his mob will get a shock. I- suppose they are going on the result of the elections; but a great many of the soldiers took no interest in it, and voted any way, and some said “ Good old Billy Hughes “ - we say “ old Billy Hughes.” Any way, I will bet my last shilling the . majority for conscription did not come from the boys in the firing line. Of course, the Anzacs in London and in base depots, with good jobs, they might vote for it, but not the boys in the front line.
That is only a synopsis of many letters I am receiving. I* have one, which I shall show to any honorable member who wishes to see it, signed by no less than eighteen men of the 1st Battalion in France.
Members on this side have had to fight against everything; even the blasphemy of vile religious bigotry has been uttered from the pulpits. Archdeacon Hindley had the baseness to lie about me in the pulpit of the House of God. He accused me, amongst others, of possibly participating in an address to the Kaiser. No one has spoken more strongly against the Kaiser than I have. I have said at meetings which I have addressed in furtherance of voluntary enlistment that the day had come when not only should men give their lives, but the men who had caused the workers to die should pay the penalty, and I hoped that the Kaiser and every kinglet and princelet who had caused the war would be hung in the streets of Berlin. Are such words as those likely to be welcomed by the Kaiser? I would die willingly if I could cause that brutal destroyer of human life to disappear. And yet Archdeacon Hindley blasphemed and lied about me in the pulpit. When such statements are made in the House of God, it is no wonder that Mr. Eric S. L. Murray, of Ballarat, wrote this letter in. tendering his resignation as a vicepresident of the Protestant Federation -
I regret very much . to resign my position as one of the vice-presidents of the Protestant Federation. The fact is I will be no party to vile attacks on the members of other creeds, such as have been going on since the great movement began….. Surely the new movement has better ambitions than to engage in vilifying the Roman Catholic Church. ….. Because we outnumber them in Australia is no reason why Protestant Federation parsons should try to stir up sectarian bitterness and strife. It is not enough for some people that our Empire is involved in the greatest war of all time; it is not enough that Australia is in the throes of internal strike trouble; but, like disloyal . persons, they use the Protestant Federation platform to abuse our fellow subjects of the King - thousands of them at this moment under the Union Jack fighting for liberty and justice for all nations. I just remember reading about the Irish , priest in Flanders. He had been asked to speak to the Irish prisoners in the Kaiser’s interests. After service he turned to them, and said, “ Boys, I have been asked to speak to you to fight for Germany; but, in the name of God, I beseech you to be true to your own King, your own flag.”
I absolutely decline to be associated in the Protestant Federation with those who, in my opinion, are hindering recruiting and playing into the hands of our- enemies. Their speeches and sermons should be severely censored, and they should be interned as dangerous firebrands.
All honour to Mr. Murray for expressing those sentiments. If there is anything vile on God’s earth, it is blasphemous falsehoods in the pulpit of the House of God. I remind honorable members that a large block of land in Collins-street was given to the Anglican Church, of which Archdeacon Hindley is an officer, as a site for a house of worship. On that land there was first built a* brewery, and the fumes of beer almost enshrouded the House of God. But that was not sufficient. James Service and Company, wine and spirit merchants, next erected premises there, and the church was then clouded in the fumes of wine, beer, and spirits. Not satisfied with that, the money changers were allowed to build about the temple of God, and in the end the church, from foundation to steeple, was hidden by the weeds, and disappeared. That land, having been given for the erection of a church for the worship of. God, I say, should be given back to the State, and I raised my voice in the State Parliament in protest against the transaction. Was it, not said that the House of God should be founded on a rock? The church authorities did not believe there was a rock on that site, so they shifted the church.
The present strike is engineered by Mr. Fuller, who was once an honoured Cabinet Minister of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member does not believe that he engineered that strike?
– He was one of the gentlest men who was ever in the House.
– I found him a gentleman, but he was willing to go into the witness-box and lie. He was one of eleven witnesses, ten of whom were imprisoned for perjury and conspiracy. When I waited as a deputation upon John Murray, who was then Premier of Victoria, in order to ask that the law should be honoured, he, to his honour, said, “ In God’s name, how is it Fuller escaped imprisonment as well ?” Let honorable members read the summing up of Mr. Justice Hodges in the Harper-Ronald case. . It had been said that a filthy story had been told by the Rev. Mr. Ronald. Judge Hodges asked Mr. Fuller, “What were the words?” Mr. Fuller answered, “ I do not remember, but the story was awful.” “ Judge Hodges said, “ That is for me and the jury to say. What were the words?” Mr. Fuller replied, “I do not remember.” He was then asked, “ Do you deny that you stated that you never heard Mr. Ronald make that statement?” and he said, “ If that has been sworn, I will not deny it.” I need say no more than to ask honorable members to read the Judge’s summing up to the jury. I regret that Mr. Holman, clever man as he is, and a political . opponent of mine, is absent from Australia at this time, because if he had been present I do not think the strike would have occurred.
I desire to say a few words about the honorable member forIllawarra. I remember on one occasion when I went into the office of the Worker there was industrial turmoil, and the honorable member said, “ We must do everything we can for the strikers.” I said to him, “ Is the strike just?” He replied, “Never mind; we must do everything we can for them.” When he was addressing the House and accusing the strikers of being led by the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialists, I asked him, “How long ago is that?” He said, “ Seven years.” The honorable member has then been for five years out of the seven advocating assistance to the same people as areon strike to-day; for he has not been out of the Worker office for more than about a year. The honorable member has said that this strike would not have occurred but for the curse of conscription. The party now in power tried to force that curse upon the people of Australia, and they will try to do it again. I challenge them to do it. We shall hear then what, the people will say, and the men at the Front will be able to record a fairer vote than was recorded on the occasion of the last referendum.
I had thought that honorable members would have been kept loyal to their party by means of the pledge. . The pledge has proved to be no good, and there is only one thing which we can do to stop strikes in future. There may be a comparatively small minority of members cruel and brutal enough to desire a strike, but the great majority of members on both sides have no wish for such a calamity. The reform to which I wish to see effect given is the introduction of the referendum, initiative, and recall. With that system in operation honorable members will not be so ready to change their opinions.
We have heard talk about the slowing down practices of the workers. Let honorable members look at the beautiful Queen’s Hall in this building. There is bad workmanship in it, and . bad contracting. The walls have been painted to hide the cracks. That contractor sacked the man who refused to pass bad plaster. Every stone in the second story of the Law Courts, the- emblem of justice, is rotten, What is the history of the erection of that building? The model stone disappeared, and the Government offered a reward of £500 and the contractor a reward of £50. The stone weighed about a quarter of a ton, and could not have been carried away in a waistcoat pocket, but as soon as it disappeared the contractor began to use bad stone. In the second story nearly every stone is spotted like those spotted dogs that used to follow carriages. Yet honorable members talk about slowing . down. . What about robbing the country of hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to make bigger profits? The contract for those Law Courts was an infamy and a disgrace, as honorable members will see if they look at the building.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The Leader of the Government promised to allow the debate to continue until 6.30.
– The debate has to be adjourned, and nine minutes is neither here nor there.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 ‘to 8.45 p.m.
The following paper was presented : -
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to authorize the raising and expending of the sum of Eighty million pounds for war purposes.
This is the fourth War Loan Appropriation Bill. The first was for £20,000,000. the second for £18,000,000, and the third for £50,000,000- a total of £88,000,000. The third Loan Bill for £50,000,000 was introduced to this House on the 20 th May, 1916, without any speech.
This Bill is to authorize the raising and expending of £80,000,000 for war purposes. The total amount at present authorized to be raised is £88,000,000, of which approximately £82;000,000 has been raised. A further sum of £6,000,000 may therefore be raised under the Acts already passed. The following are particulars of our war expenditure: -
Included in the above estimate of expenditure out of loan in 1917-18 is an amount of £26,000,000, which is due to the British Government for the maintenance of the troops at the Front, and the supply to them of munitions.
The estimated expenditure by the British Government in respect of the Australian Imperial Force up to 30th June, 1917, is £28,500,000, and up to the 30th June, 1918, a further . amount of £29,750,000.
Included in the above war expenditure of £212,741,509 is an amount of £2,850,000 for advances to the States for the construction and erection of silos for wheat storage, and an amount of £2,000,000 to be advanced to the States for the repatriation of returned soldiers.
Even if this £64,000,000 were all borrowed during 1917-18, there would be an additional sum still outstanding of about £27,250,000 due to the British Government, which, however, it is not intended to pay during this financial year. 0
The amount required for war loan expenditure, if everything were paid, would be about £91,000,000. Parliament is, however, asked for only £80,000,000 of authorization at the present time.
It is proposed to at once issue the prospectus of another war . loan for £20,000,000, maturing on the l5th December, 1927, being two years later than previous war loans.
The conditions will be the same as for the previous four issues, viz., for approximately ten years at par, at 4½ per cent, interest, the interest being free of both Commonwealth and State income taxes. .
The Government is acting in complete accord with the financial institutions, which have promised their valuable assistance. It is believed that the new war loan will be very successful.
The Government has given a good deal of consideration to the question whether it would be advisable to alter the terms and conditions for the future, or to adhere to the terms and conditions of the former loans. We have decided to doas I have stated, namely, to adopt the same terms and conditions as previously. We propose to raise the money at 4½ per cent., which is . cheaper than money is being raised in England for the States at the present time. The other day we raised a loan in England for £4,500,000, with interest at 5½ per cent., and the price of issue was £98 10s. It will be seen, therefore, that we shall do far better in Australia than, in my opinion, we could do if we endeavoured to raise the money in England; indeed, we could not, in fact, raise money at the present time on the London market.
– What is the cost of raising the loan ?
– I could not tell the honorable member off hand, but we have to consider underwriting and other charges.
– Is it 3½ per cent. 1
– Not so much as that, though we have to pay 1¼ per cent, for underwriting, 12s. 6d. composition duty, and for the advertising. We have a war certificate scheme in force, which is working very satisfactorily, inasmuch as by this means about £2,000,000 has already been raised for war purposes. The loan now proposed is ° for war purposes, and war purposes only. I am sorry that my voice is not sufficiently strong to enable me to speak longer with Any comfort or convenience to myself, but I think I have explained the main features of the measure; and I shall be able to give any further information desired by honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
We hope to be able to issue this prospectus on Saturday, if honorable members will .assist in putting the Bill through as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Joseph Cook do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I take it that this Bill will commit us to pay 44 per cent, interest on the total of £80,000,000, as well as to the exemption of investors in this loan from Federal and State income taxation on the interest earned by their investment. It may be looked upon as inconsistency on my part to raise objections to the proposal to exempt the interest earned by investors in the Commonwealth war loans from income taxation, but the experience that I gained in connexion with the last flotation convinced me of ,the inequality. of the system. Freedom from payment of income tax means nothing to the small men, but it means an enormous amount of money to the men who would otherwise be liable to pay income tax at the highest rate, and, instead of our borrowing the money at 4-§ per cent., it will really mean 5 per cent, in many instances, and in some cases as much as 6 per cent.
I would much rather the Treasurer had asked us to agree to the payment of 5 per cent, interest, making the interest liable to income taxation. It would have been much fairer than the present system, which gives the big man so much advantage over the small man. Certainly the rate of interest received by the big man is the same as that received by the small man, but, as the income tax rate on. the highest grade of incomes is 6s. 3d. in the £1, the Treasury will lose a considerable amount of revenue by the exemption from liability to pay income tax of the interest earned by the big man on his investment in Commonwealth war loans.
There is another way of looking at the matter. We have already borrowed £80,000,000 in Australia. That means that about one-twelfth of the available capital of the Commonwealth is not liable to the payment of income tax, and before we are through this war we will exhaust practically one-sixth of the area available for the taxation of income. It will impose a very much heavier burden on the remainder of that taxable area. In giving consideration to the matter of warsaving certificates, I fixed the rate of interest at 5 per cent., and provided for no exemption from the payment of income taxation, for the very reasons that I am now advancing, but my successor has extended that freedom to those certificates, and the consequence is that the man who puts £1,000 into the certificates derives a much greater advantage than does the man who invests £20 in them. I am quite satisfied that a little increase in the rate of interest would enable us to raise the whole of the money that we require for war purposes without there being any necessity to grant an exemption from income taxation; the taxation will create a very serious situation in the future. In any case, it would insure equality of treatment to those who subscribe to our loans. I feel sure that when we make allowance for the reduction in our income tax revenue, which would otherwise be paid by those large institutions that have put so much money into our war loans, we shall find that the actual rate of interest paid on our scrip is at least 6 per cent. I am anxious to know whether this authorization will commit us to float the full £80,000,000 with the freedom from liability to pay income tax, State and Federal, on the interest earned by investors.
– That is the proposal, though it is not in the Bill.
– The Treasurer has told us that he proposes to pay 4£ per cent, interest. I think he is making a mistake. Assuming that the war is over at the end of this financial year - though there does not seem to be much prospect of it at present - our war indebtedness will be about £250,000,000, but it will take two years after the war is over before we will have secured the return of our men. By that time the result of this continued exemption of interest paid on our war loans from liability to income taxation will be to place a very much heavier burden on those who do not escape the payment of income taxation. Although I floated my loan on exactly the same terms as the Treasurer now proposes, I regard the step taken in the past as an unfortunate mistake. :
– That would have been the time for the honorable member to have carried out his proposal.
-I did initiate the reform in connexion with the war saving certificates, but the right honorable gentleman altered it.
– Yes, the honorable member proposed to treat the poor man differently from the rich man.
– The poor man would have received equality of treatment, which he does not get under the present proposal. He gets very little, if any, advantage from the exemption from income taxation. On the other hand the rich man does get a big advantage from that freedom. Under the saving certificates we cater for the man with £5, £10, or £20 to invest. Certainly a man can invest £1,000 in those certificates, but the men we propose to reach are those who do not pay income taxation. Consequently, in nine cases out of ten the purchasers of war-saving certificates will derive no benefit from the freedom from income taxation on the interest earned by them, but the man who invests £1,000 in those certificates gets a decided advantage from that exemption. That advantage is more pronounced in the case of a man who can put £100,000 into the Commonwealth war loans. It means an exemption to the extent of 6s. 3d. in the £1 on the interest earned by that £100,000.
– It is much more difficult to get money now than when the honorable member was Treasurer.
– But it will be very much more difficult to raise taxation if we are to continue exempting the interest on the Commonwealth war loans from liability to pay income tax.
– Does the honorable member think that the Government could float a loan if they made the conditions different from those of previous loans?
– They could float a loan if they offered to pay interest at the rate of 5 per cent., or even if they offered to pay the British rate of 5£ per cent: It would be cheaper money than we will get at 4£ per cent.-, with freedom from payment of income taxation. I have no doubt that we will get the money, but the trouble will be that the area available for taxation will continue to shrink under this process until we have a very limited number of income taxpayers.
– Iti is not a very long loan; its duration is only ten years.
– That is one of its virtues, but the chances are that when the ten years expire we will have’ to ask these people to renew their loan. It must be remembered that there is already £8,000,000 due in eight years from the present time. I believe that time will prove that my views on this matter are correct.
.- I am in great sympathy with the Treasurer owing to the fact that h© is not able to speak with his usual vigour and clarity of voice. I was hoping that when he moved the second reading of the Bill he would give some explanation as to why he is not carrying out the pledge made by the Win-the-war party that they would make wealth bear its due share of the expenses of the war. Every one expected the Government! to come forward with taxation proposals. I do not suppose there is any, person with a considerable income who did not expect to be called upon by the Treasurer to’ pay heavier taxation, but the right honorable gentleman has made no attempt to tax the general public except in respect of war profits. But before dealing with that question, let me say that the Treasurer has been very careless in regard to financial matters. His first proposal was that we should raise £100,000,000.
– Who said thatr
– He brought down a message from the Governor-General recommending the raising of £100,000,000, bub within a month he has reduced the amount to £80,000,000. In a Financial Statement made on the 6th March, the Treasurer referred to the serious financial, position in which Australia was, and in effect said -
The position in 1917-18 may be roughly set out as follows: - The shortage of revenue in 1917-18, £2,634,000; additional revenue required for interest and sinking fund for war loans and war pensions, £6,800,000; increase in invalid and old-age pensions, £250,000. Total additional moneys required, £9,684,000.
He also said -
In this £9,684,000, there is no provision for interest and sinking fund on any loans that may be raised for new Federal railways and other works.
The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) asked, “How is it proposed to raise the £1,000,000 required for repatriation purposes?” To that the Treasurer replied -
I shall deal with that matter at a later stage.
One might imagine that the right honorable gentleman had had a legal training. That is the answer that a lawyer always gives when a question is addressed to him in this House. He continued-
It would be unwise for any Treasurer to say what he is going to do in order to finance a year that has not arrived. … If the items of revenue which now exist maintain their . yield probably £5,000,000 will cover the additional revenue which must be obtained in 1917-18. The manner in which so much more money can be raised will have to be decided upon, as it is undesirable to indicate at the present time how it can he done.
Now we discover how the Treasurer proposes to raise the additional money needed to meet the heavy expenditure of the year 1917-18. He proposes to take £1,000,000 from war-time profits taxation, and to impose a class tax on the single men who, for various reasons, have not gone to the war. We have a right to look at this question as it affects our personal reputation and comfort as politicians. Most of us, I presume, will be here for a year or two more, at least. There never was a time in the history of this country when the people were more prepared than they are at present to pay taxation. The right honorable member for Swan (Sir John Forrest) proposes to postpone his plain duty in regard to the imposition of taxation until after the war, although, if we do not avail ourselves now of the public spirit of the community, and its sympathy with those who are managing its affairs, and tax the public to the limit that they are prepared to pay, we shall have great difficulty after the war in getting the people to contribute the money necessary for the government of the country. They will ask, “Why did not you tax us in war time? You askus for money now in a time of peace, when the expenditure cannot be so great as in war time.” The Treasurer will make it difficult for the politicians who will govern the country in the future.
– Is it the honorable member’s point that we should have a heavier taxation now?
– Whether it be needed or not ?
– Does the honorable - member for Kooyong deny that it is needed ?
– The Treasurer says that it is not needed immediately.
– He told us in March last that we required £9,684,000 to meet our obligations, but that if the revenue kept up to what it was, we should need only £5,000,000. He knows that the Customs revenue has fallen off, and may decrease by £2,000,000 this year, because of the shortage of the shipping, the restriction on importation, and for other reasons. My argument is that the public is ready to pay taxation. Cannot the Treasurer propose an increase in the income tax?If he postpones taxation, he will make it very difficult for future Treasurers and members of Parliament; and we all have to take our share of responsibility for the imposition of taxation. We are entitled to ask posterity to bear its part, but we ought not to load on to it services which should be paid out of current revenue. I ask honorable members to consider what it is that the Treasurer proposes to do with this loan money. ‘ He wishes to borrow £80,000,000. Of this sum, £5,000 is to be spent on the administration of the Australian Repatriation Fund. Administration is a peace-time liability; its cost cannot be regarded as war expenditure.
– That must be a mistake, because £1,000,000 is to be got from the war-time profits tax.
– If it is a mistake, that goes to show that there has been great carelessness on the part of some one re-, sponsible for the allotment of this £80,000,000. Another item on which the loan money is to be spent is the printing of the Commonwealth Manual of Emergency Legislation. That the Treasurer proposes to pay out of loan to avoid taxing the general public, including himself.
– Do not put it in that way.
– I shall deal with the right honorable gentleman as tenderly as I can. He said the other day, when we spoke of the rich people in the community being richer since the war, that he was not half as well off now as before the war.
– I did not say that that was due to the war.
– Will the honorable member tell us what he put down for repatriation administration last year, and from what fund he proposed to provide the money ?
– The honorable gentleman succeeded in outing me before I had time to consider the Estimates of last year.
– The honorable memberresigned.
– I had no other course open to me, holding the views that I did.
– The sum of £5,000 is put down for this year, and last year £4,300 was provided.
– That was not my appropriation. I had not time to deal with more than two or three pages of the Estimates. Our children will have to pay back the £80,000,000 which it is now proposed to borrow. Yet the Treasurer proposes to apply £1,200 of the borrowed money to the press cable service, which supplies news for members of the Expeditionary Forces. That is the news sent to the soldiers at the Front, including the one-sided accounts supplied to’ assist the Win-the-war party and to smash up the Labour party.
– Last year the amount was £742.
– That was not arranged for in my time.
– The honorable member is always talking about what he did when in office.
– I am saying now what I did not do. Then £100 is put down to pay for a “ Conference to settle returned soldiers.” This, I suppose, is one of the Conferences which the Prime Minister calls for so freely. If a>ny one approaches him about any matter, he says, “ I should like to see a deputation regarding the matter, and it must be a representative one. I am not going to deal with two or three persons only.” The other day, when the Tasmanian and Victorian fruitgrowers met him, he wished to know where were the representatives from the other States. His office must be magnified as much as possible, and, therefore, there must be representatives from every State. This costs money, and posterity is to be asked to pay the cost of this Conference for the settlement . of returned soldiers. The loan money is to be spent also on a Royal Commission to inquire into the Navy and Defence administration. Surely the cost of such an investigation should be met out of the current revenue. What is the matter with the administration that the inquiry is necessary?
– Those engaged in the investigation urgently recommend the appointment of six additional clerks. They say that the office is undermanned.
– We are charging the Loan Fund with expenditure connected with the war.
– How can this be war expenditure? Is posterity to pay for the incapacity of men in the Defence Department who have failed to properly perform the work of accountants? The Government. is always appointing Royal Commissions. Three thousand pounds is to be taken out of loan money to pay for an inquiry into the keeping of lie Defence Department’s accounts.-
– The honorable member complained just now of the expenditure of loan money on administration. He must know” that that is not unusual.
– Surely an inquiry as to the manner in which accounts are kept, and to ascertain why money was drawn for a regiment which did not exist, ought not to come out of Loan Fund.
– The procedure has not been altered since the honorable member was Treasurer.
– If the Treasurer will look through the papers, he will see that I did my best to secure the dismissal from the Defence Department of a man who had been guilty of ‘ irregularities.
– The charging of war expenditure to loan has not been altered since the honorable member was in the Treasury. He did the same thing as we are doing.
– I did what I could to get the Defence Department run properly.
– We all do that.
– But the Treasurer wishes posterity to pay for the expense of the Royal Commissions appointed to inquire into defalcations.
I come now to some further items which, in my opinion, should be met out of current revenue. Honorable members on both sides will agree that if we, as a Commonwealth, wish to be generous to those whom we employ, we ought to be generous out of our own money, and should not raise loan money for the purpose. I ask honorable members to look at the item, “ Premiums on life assurance policies of Commonwealth public servants who are members of the Expeditionary Forces, including contributions to Trust Funds, officers’ assurance account, £25,000.” We are doing something for our civil servants which few people will be prepared to challenge. When members of our -Public Service go to the Front, we undertake to pay the premiums on their life insurance policies. That is a generous action. We are not doing it for Tom, Dick or Harry in private employment, but only for our own employees; but we are paying for that service out of loan funds which somebody coming after us will have to repay.
– Who began this policy ?
– The Treasurer will find that no loan money was used for that purpose by any previous Government.
– This expenditure was approved of before I took office.
– Amongst other so-called war. services, I find an item, “ Universal military training (Citizen Forces), pay £100,000.” Whether we are at war or not, we shall have to pay for the training of our Citizen Forces.
– I think that money is for Citizen Forces who were mobilized for special service.
– Another item which appears amongst war services is £200 towards the compilation of the history of Australia’s share in the war.
– Who is to receive that money ?
– I am not sure, but I think Mr. Beam is the compiler of the history. There is £7,319 provided as a ‘ payment to the Commonwealth Bank, Melbourne, for credit to the Egyptian Canteen Account (to be recovered).” That is like a number of other items which will be found in the war loan expenditure. There is, for instance, the item of £70,000 in connexion with the manufacture and purchase of munitions for the British Government, portion of which is to be recovered. Is the Treasurer keeping track of those items?
– A lot of the money expended by the Commonwealth on behalf of the Indian Government was paid back while I was in office.
– We used to buy for the British and Indian Governments out of ordinary revenue, and recover the money. What I desire to know is: whether the money expended in buying goods for Ihe British Government, or the payment to the Commonwealth Bank for the credit of the Egyptian Canteen Account, will be paid into ordinary revenue, when it is repaid, or whether it will go towards the redemption of our loans?
– If it comes from Loan Account, it must go back to Loan Account; there is no doubt about that.
– I hope that will happen.
The Treasurer has said that certain items of administration were paid for out of loan during my administration. I submit that that statement is not correct. The Treasurer proposes to pay out of Loan Account the expenses of the administration of the War Precautions (Prices) Regulations. In the year 1915-16 that service was paid for out of revenue. The” printing of the Commonwealth Manual of Emergency Legislation was also paid for out of revenue, and only since the present Treasurer came into office has the practice of charging these items to loan been instituted. The Labour Government called a conference in connexion with the settlement on the land of returned soldiers in 1915-16, and paid £47 in that connexion, and for premiums on the life assurance policies of civil servants at the Front £10,590, both out of revenue. The present Treasurer proposes to pay for such services out of the £80,000,000 which he wishes to borrow.
– I know of no change in the system since I came into office.
– The expenses of the Federal Parliamentary War Committee, including the salary of the secretary to the Honorary Organizer, were previously paid out of revenue. This item in 1915-16 absorbed £2,510, and I am interested to know how the Federal Parliamentary War’ Committee incurred that expenditure.
– A lot of it was spent on the State recruiting committees. The Federal Committee received none of the money .-
– I believe the major portion of the expenditure was in connexion with the engagement of the Hon. J. C. Watson as Honorary Organizer. I have often wondered why it was necessary to appoint Mr. Watson adviser to the Federal Parliamentary War Committee.
– He travelled all over the country, and acted in an honorary capacity.
– Yes, in an honorary capacity, but received £2 2s. per day as travelling expenses, in addition to railway fares, which is more than he received as manager of the Labour paper which he never started.
– The honorable member was Treasurer at that time.
- Mr. Watson was appointed before I became Treasurer. Honorable members must recollect that I was in office only twelve months, and the Treasurer’s job is a big one if he is to endeavour to keep track of the £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 expended by the Commonwealth on war and ordinary services. It is true that Mr. Watson travelled all over the country, but he seems to have been engaged in ascertaining the names of gentlemen who were prepared to sell land to the Commonwealth for the settlement of returned soldiers. The Labour Government paid out of revenue for the war census £57,444. The present Government propose that any further expenditure of the kind shall be paid for out of loan moneys.-
– Where did I state that?
– That matter comes under the control of the Prime Minister. On’ the universal military training of Citizen Forces the Labour Government spent out of revenue £118,095 in the year 1915-16. The present Treasurer proposes to provide £100,000 for that purpose out of .loan. This is an ordinary peace-time service.
– That is not chargeable to loan.
– The item may have been split up. It is true that portion of the money is to be paid out of revenue, but it is shown on put.- 49 of the Budgetpapers that £100,000 for the purpose is to be provided out of loan. For “camps,” which I presume are the ordinary training camps for our Citizen Forces, an expenditure of £47,500 of loan money is estimated, as compared with £37,345 from revenue in 1915-16. For general contingencies we paid £96 out of revenue in 1915-16, and the Treasurer has estimated to expend on that item £60,000 from loans. Then we have the items, 1 ‘ Expeditionary Forces - payment to Government of the United- Kingdom, £26,000,000; other payments, £46,350,000.” They can properly be regarded as payments in respect to war services. But surely the same cannot be, said of these other items! In 1915-16 we provided £670 out of revenue for “ pay of enemy officers detained or interned in Australia,” but here the Government propose to provide £600 out of loan for the purpose. There is an item of £70,000 for “ Expenses in connexion with manufacture and purchase of munitions for the British Government,” which the Treasurer proposes to pay out of loans, whereas in 1915-16 we paid under that heading £22,622 out of revenue. The right honorable gentleman proposes to pay out of loan £2,000 for “ Expenditure in connexion with prosecutions and investigations under the War Precautions Act.” That surely is a civil rather than a war expenditure, and should be paid out of revenue. Then there is an item of £12,321 in respect of wire netting, which is to be paid out of loan, whereas we provided for £13,878 out of revenue for that purpose in 1915-16. I come now to Naval administration items. We provided £1,780 out of revenue for “ contingencies,” but the Treasurer proposes a loan of £2,000 for that purpose, as well as £2,000 for postage and telegrams, and ‘ ‘ miscellaneous ‘ ‘ - items that were paid out of revenue in 1915-16. The Treasurer, in order to balance his accounts, and to’ make it unnecessary to tax the people who are prepared to pay, is going to provide for all these services out of loans. There is a loan item of £35,000 for “Permanent Force .(seagoing) pay.” We paid £29,350 out of revenue. The right honorable gentleman proposes to raise a loan of £7,000 for “ Naval establishments, contingencies.” Under that heading we paid £8,000 out of revenue in 1915-16.
– Is the honorable member taking the figures for 1916-17-18 ?
– I am showing what items we paid out of revenue in 1915-16. Sir John Forrest. - What has the honorable member to say in regard to payments made in 1916-17?
– They have nothing to do with me. They were made by the Winthewar Government.
– We did not come into power until February of this year.
– The present Prime Minister and his National party came into power on 14th February, 1916.
– Were not the Estimates for 1916-17 prepared by the honorable member for Capricornia ?
– For a young member the honorable member displays extraordinary audacity. It is true that he has had experience in other Parliaments, but he is talking of something that he knows nothing about. I have told the House on more than one occasion that I had no opportunity to go through the Estimates for 1916-17, and he ought to accept my denial. If he is not prepared to do so, let him put a question on the noticepaper, and ascertain from the Treasury officials whether I went through the Estimates for 19.16-17. The Prime Minister returned from England on 10th August, 1916, and nothing but turmoil followed. There has, indeed, been nothing but turmoil in the political arena of the Commonwealth ever since he returned from the Old Country, where he lost his head owing to the applause showered- upon him, and because of the fact, possibly, that he was invited to dine in the pink room, and to sleep in the blue room.
– This is sour grapes.
– Not at all.
– This is very interesting, but does the honorable member propose to connect it with the question before the Chair ?
– The Labour party can only be held responsible for the Estimates for 1915-16. In that year we paid out of revenue £46,500 in respect of the ‘ Citizen Naval Forces, Royal Australian Naval Reserve pay,” but the Treasurer this year proposes under that heading to pay £62,750 out of loan. “ Contingencies under the control of the Navy,” which may mean anything, are to be paid out of loan to the extent of £19,000, and “ Medical services,” representing an estimated expenditure of £7,000, are also to be paid out of loan. We paid both items out of revenue. I could go on multiplying these items, but I shall not weary the Committee by doing so.
I come now to the question of the £2,000,000 that we proposed to raise by way of loan for the settlement of returned soldiers. I fail to see how we could raise by way of taxation the large sums that will be required for the repatriation of our soldiers, and especially bo settle them on the land. The general public will be surprised to learn that land monopoly is nearly as great in Australia as it is in the United Kingdom. In support of this statement I would refer honorable members to’ the figures given at pages 264-5-6-7-8-9 of the last edition of the Commonwealth Tear-Book. It is there shown that the unoccupied lands of Australia are as follows: - New South Wales, 17,000,000 acres; Victoria, 11,000,000 acres; Queensland. 65,000,000 acres; South Australia, 114.000 000 acres ^ Western Australia, 418,000,000 acres;’ and Tasmania, 8,744,000 acres.
– I would remind the honorable member that we have provided £170,000 for universal training out of revenue this year.
– That is so.
– The honorable member would lead the House to believe that the whole of the cost under that heading is charged by us to loan account.
– No; I have said that a portion is being paid out Of revenue. Some arbitrary method of splitting up these items must have been adopted. The whole thing is in keeping with the Treasurer’s scheme not to impose any additional taxation at present but to meet his requirements out of loan moneys. It should not be necessary for the Commonwealth to raise the vast sum- £22,000,000 - which they propose to lend to the States for the purpose of purchasing land, making advances to returned soldiers, and settling them on the land.
– The final estimate has reached £60,000,000.
– Quite so. In this country of ours, which is larger than Europe, and which has a population of only 5,000,000, it should not be necessary for the State Governments to repurchase estates on which to settle returned soldiers. I submit that it is not. Mr. Knibbs shows that in New South Wales there are 39,825,380 acres alienated, 18,837,281 acres in process of alienation, and 127,000,000 acres representing leases under Government Departments. I grant that a great deal of the 17,000,000 acres of unalienated land in New South Wales may consist of stony ridges or. mountainous country, on which we could not hope to settle any one.
– The trouble is that we cannot settle these men on the map of Australia.
– That is so. They must be settled on land convenient to railway systems. In “Victoria there are 24,000,000 acres alienated, 7,000,000 acres in process of alienation, and 13,000,000 acres held under lease, while the area unoccupied is 11,000,000 acres. I should, perhaps, weary honorable members if I gave the ‘ figures for all the States, but a reference to them will show that in each State there are immen’se areas held under lease. Certain companies hold huge areas under lease, which ought to revert to the Government if the terms of these leases were carried out. There is generally a clause in these leases providing that, after the lapse of a certain number of years, the Government may, on giving six months’ notice, resume for closer settlement purposes the lands so held. It is strange that the pastoral lessees are able to obtain a renewal of their leases because of the failure. of the Government to give the requisite notice of their intention to resume possession. I invite honorable members to contemplate for a moment the proposal of this Government to pledge the Commonwealth to a loan of £60,000,000 to provide for the purchase of estates for the settlement of our returned soldiers, and for making advances to them. Should it not be possible to do something to avoid spending so much in the purchase of these lands? I hold that it is, and I offer to the Treasurer a suggestion which I should have endeavoured to carry out if I had remained in office. We have the power to tax the land. We have power to provide that those who fail to put to use land within 10 or 20 miles of a railway line shall pay a supertax. Some of our f armers have to go 20 miles from a railway line to obtain land.
– More than that.
– In the old days, when the squatters were running Queensland, men desiring to take up land had to go as far as 40 miles from a railway line to secure a block of 160 acres. A farmer whose land is 20 miles from a railway line is taxed to the extent of two days’ work a week in getting his produce to a railway station. Those of us who travel through the States, see along our railway lines a lot of land that is quite unsuitable for closer settlement; but we also see a patch of lucerne scattered here and there in large areas that are not being put to any use. We see big areas of land which are not even carrying . a .sheep. They are held in the hope that intending farmers will come along and pay high prices, that will return the owners a good 6 .per cent.
– They cannot pay the Federal land tax and go on holding land idle.
– I am sure the honorable member will agree with me that we should ‘ say to owners of idle land along our railway lines, “We give you six months’ notice that, unless you put your land to some good use, we shall call upon you to pay a super-tax.” We should appoint a board consisting of an agriculturist, a pastoralist, a sheep-man, and a cattleman, to inspect such land, and to say to the owners, “ Unless you put this land to its ‘best use, you will have to pay a supertax.” That would result in our farmers getting closer to the railways, which would pay better, with the result also of leaving a smaller burden of interest.-
I now wish to deal with some other items for which it is proposed to pay out of loan moneys. We have paid out of revenue in connexion with the Federal Capital no less a sum than £1,000,000.
– Where has it gone?
– Mostly in the purchase pf land. Now, however, the Treasurer proposes, in 1917-18, to spend on the Federal Capital £123,800, to be raised by way of loan.
– This has been done before.
– That is true, but the Treasurer provides only £11,000 to be paid out of revenue, while he proposes to raise by loan the sum I have mentioned for the purchase of land in the Federal Territory. We have resumed all the land within the city area, and most of the land within 10 miles of the area; and now it is proposed to spend this further sum out of loan moneys, which will have to be raised at 4£ per cent., and which, when we take into consideration the relief from taxation, will mean something over 5 per cent.
– We are committed to this.
– Are we? The Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) said that this proposal was in accordance with the policy of the Govern-, ment; but that policy was originated by a Government which was not in favour of the construction of the Federal Capital. Indeed, the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Watt) spoke of it as a “ dream “, and, if that be so, why . should we continue to resume land at £3 and £4 per acre to be paid for out of loan moneys, with possibly no revenue in return?
– Do we not owe a duty to land-owners and settlers?
– Why should we keep, on resuming their land? When I was up at the Federal Territory a little while ago, I saw an orchard property which had been . resumed, and I was informed that the owner had gone away, and the orchard left to decay, as neglected orchards do.’ The Federal Capital, if dealt with in a business-like way, will no doubt be able to support itself; but we are told that no more is to be spent at present than is sufficient to keep the works going. We have already spent on the Capital £1,750,000, and are receiving in return a revenue of only £4,000 or £5,000.
We have paid out of revenue for .the Fleet Unit £5,000,000 ; and in considering this question I ask honorable members opposite not to allow their party feeling to shut their eyes to the financial situation. We have npt hitherto spent anything out of loan for this purpose; but now a new policy is introduced, and it is proposed to raise £400,000 to pay for the Fleet.
– These matters ought to be discussed on a Loan Bill yet to be introduced.
– It is not wise to allow any opportunity of discussing these matters to pass. I ask honorable members, who are watching the progress of the dreadful war, to note the expenditure on Naval Bases.
– That has nothing to do with the Bill before us.
– Where are we going to get the money from for these bases?
– We are going to introduce a Loan Bill for the purpose; the Bill before us is for war purposes only.
– I can assure the honor- . able gentleman that it is proposed to pay £20,000 out of loan moneys for a. site in connexion with the Henderson Naval Base; and the items under this head re-, present hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– Not in this Bill.
– The expenditure is to be out of loan moneys.
– Not out of the loan now proposed.
– There is no other Loan Bill before us. “
– We are going to bring in another Loan Bill.
– Honorable members must have noticed what has taken place at the Front, and also the extraordinary successes of the submarines. From week to week, we read of twenty vessels being sunk, perhaps fifteen of which are over 1,600 tons. Out of thirty vessels attacked in a week, twenty are sunk, which means 66 per cent. ; and, under these circumstances, we ought not to pay so much attention to Naval Bases for big Dreadnoughts as to the building of submarines,’ and the institution of an aerial service. There are quite a number of items which the. Labour Government used to pay for out of revenue, but which the Treasurer proposes to pay for out of loan, such as tugs, dredges, and barges.Rapidlywasting assets are to be paid for out of loan moneys, and the burden placed on the shoulders of posterity ; and I mention these facts to show the difference between the policy of the present Treasurer and the policy of the Australian Labour Government. The right honorable gentleman has said that we shall require £9,684,000 to meet the financial position, and he has informed us that if the revenue keeps up, we shall require to raise ouly £5,000,000. But the revenue is not keeping up, and cannot possibly keep up if a Protectionist policy is adopted, or imports continue to decrease. Further, the revenue cannot be maintained so long as the shipping difficulty remains. The Customs revenue has gone down about £2,000,000 this year, and, on the Treasurer’s statement, we have to provide another £’5,000,000 to balance .. the accounts ; and, yet, all he does is to introduce a war-time profits tax to raise £1,000,000, thus placing the burden on our children and our children’s children, instead of calling upon the rich, who are able, and I think, generally willing, to pay their share.
– I ask that a quorum be formed. [Quorum formed.]
– We are all much indebted to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) for the way in which he has analyzed this loan expenditure, and pointed out that the policy of the Government is to raise loan money for Defence services which should be paid for out of revenue. I notice, from page 301 of the Estimates, that it is proposed to raise loan money for the purchase of a watch and chain presented to a confidential clerk for honorary services to a military commander. That amount is £33. It was done last year under the sp-called “ Commonwealth War Administration.”
– I remind the honorable member that we have spent £13,000,000 out of revenue for war purposes.
– Surely it is ridiculous to raise loan moneys to purchase this presentation watch and chain.
– That £33 was paid last year.
– I enter an emphatic protest against the employment of loan moneys for the purpose of using the
War Precautions Act in connexion with industrial disturbances. Here is a regulation which was issued under the War Precautions Act on the 15th August last - 40o. Any person who, by word, deed, or otherwise -
The penalty for an offence is - on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding£100, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or bo.th. If tried on indictment, a fine of any amount, or imprisonment for any term, or both.
– Is the honorable member discussing something in the Bill?
-It has been pointed out that the War Precautions Act is to be administered from loan moneys, and I am dealing with the administration of that Act, and objecting to loan moneys being utilized for that purpose. This regulation is aimed at what is known as peaceful picketing in connexion with an industrial dispute, and which has neveT been objected to in connexion with any industrial disputes in tho British Empire. It is now an offence under the War Precautions Act for a workman to meet a fellow workman and inform him of the existence of a dispute, and ask him whether it is a fair thing to black-leg on his fellow workers.
I find that the Government are using the _ Naval and Military Forces in connexion with this industrial dispute. The Daily Telegraph, of 23rd August last, reported that certain storemen and packers working at the Ordnance Stores, Victoria Barracks, together with a number of returned soldiers -who were not unionists, but had been engaged through the operation of the preference to returned soldiers policy, had refused to unload waggons which were brought to the stores by blackleg carters. The following announcement was made by the military authorities in Sydney:-
It is decided to get a military working party to carry on with.
I find, also, that naval trainees, boys of eighteen years of age and under, compulsory trainees, are being compelled to participate in this dispute. The following order was issued on 22nd August last : -
Naval Depot, Beach-road, Edgecliffe, 22nd August, 1917.
Proclamation under Defence Act.
You are hereby ordered to muster at the
Naval Depot, Beach-road, Edgecliffe, at 8 a.m. on Monday, 27th August, 1917, for an indefinite period of mobilization. You are required to muster with full kit. Prompt obedience to this order is requested.
A widow asked me to try to obtain exemption for her son, who is barely eighteen years of age, and when I made inquiries I found that young lads of eighteen years and under had been mobilized for the purpose of picketing wharfs in Sydney in connexion with this industrial dispute.
– It is the information I have received. For what purpose are these youths to be employed ?
– They have been mobilized in order to guard the wharfs, but not with any reference to the industrial dispute. In fact, the matter was projected before the dispute began.
– There must have been something doing.
– It shows that the Government were getting ready for this dispute before it began.
– Was it not done on account of vessels having been lost?
– I have told honorable members the truth. They can make what they can of it. It is no concern of mine.
– It seems a very peculiar thing that seventy or eighty compulsory trainees in Sydney should not have been required to picket these wharfs until this industrial dispute was created.
– The s.s. Cumberland was blown up not very long before the dispute arose.
– That vessel was blown up about six weeks previously.
– Another vessel was lost subsequently. Did it not justify the picketing of the wharfs?
– Boats coming in have always been guarded to see that no unauthorized person went on board. Why, therefore, does iti only become necessary to extend this arrangement when an industrial dispute occurs?
We have also the statement brought to the House by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and partly admitted by the Government, that special arrangements were being made at the Mitcham Camp, in South Australia, to send a military force to Broken Hill.
– That statement was denied. It was hot admitted. It was admitted as regards the police, but denied altogether as regards the military.
– It was admitted that a train was waiting. It was not denied that it was waiting at the Mitcham Camp. There was no denial in connexion with the reference to the military. At least, there was no reference to it.
– Does the honorable member object to police being sent to Broken Hill to maintain order?
– I object to the military, who have been enlisted for the purpose of fighting overseas, being used in connexion with an industrial disturbance. Some time ago I went into a case in which naval, men were sent to take the place of seamen. The Department of the Navy had not observed the industrial award in regard to the Seamen’s Union, and as a result the firemen stopped work.
– That happened on a transport.
– I doubt if the honorable member knows about this case. The Government refused to carry out an award of the Arbitration Court, and the men objected to work, whereupon the Government sent a naval working party to take their place.
– The men who refused to work should have been locked up,
– Of course, the honorable member is a supporter of this type of Prussian militarism in Australia.
– I would go a long way further.
– I regret to hear the honorable member’s admission that he would go a long way further than the Kaiser,
– I ask tlie honorable member to connect his remarks with the Bill.
– I am referring to the use of the Naval and Military Forces, paid for by loan moneys, in connexion with industrial disturbances.
– I would like to see a quorum in the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The soldiers at the military camp at Menangle, in New South Wales, were ordered to line up on parade, and were directed to cheer blackleg railway men as they passed with their trains. A paragraph of a letter which I have received from the secretary of the Picton Labour League, dated 23rd August last, reads as follows: -
During the strike the soldiers at Menangle Camp were formed into a parade, and an officer addressed them, and requested the men to say which side they favoured, the Government or the men. Those in favour of the former were to assemble at the railway line when the trains were passing, and “ cheer “ the loyal train officials. Out of about 1,000 men, only about 100 carried out this miserable instruction.
The Picton Labour League is situated close to this camp, and kept informed of what is going on.
Then we have the administration of the censorship under the War Precautions Act, and paid for out of loan moneys. I am informed by one of the newspapers that instructions were issued under the War Precautions Act that no questions asked in the Federal Parliament in regard to the use of the Naval and Military Forces in connexion with this industrial dispute may be referred to in the newspapers of this country. The public are nob allowed to know how the Naval and Military services are being used- in connexion with industrial disputes.
Then, under the same War Precautions Act, how is- the Postal Department being administered? It is stated by the strikers’ defence committee in Sydney, that practically the whole of the correspondence which they post from time to time, is being opened in the Post Office, and that Government action is being taken to forestall all their instructions. Telegrams have been similarly interfered with. A Labour delegate from Western Australia who arrived in Melbourne within the past few days, and has since proceeded to Sydney, states that out of 100 telegrams despatched to him at Perth by Mr. Morris, the general secretary of the Wharf Labourers Union, in Melbourne, only one was delivered. That one referred to the order of Mr. Justice Higgins that the men should . resume work. The other ninety -nine telegrams were absolutely suppressed. Although the Government accepted money for rendering this service, the service was not rendered.
Last week Senator O’Keefe discovered that similar methods were being adopted in Tasmania. Wires intimating that the wharf labourers at Launceston, Burnie, and Devonport had ceased work were lodged with the Postal Department, and the officials of the union were expecting replies from Melbourne. But all their messages were confiscated. It is most objectionable that loan moneys should be applied to the utilization of war legislation for party purposes in connexion with - industrial disputes.
– ~I think that we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– In Committee it is my intention to move the insertion of a new clause, which, if carried, will make it impossible for these moneys to be expended on the utilization of out Naval and Military services in connexion with industrial disputes.
There are other purposes, however, to which I think the large amount which will- thus be saved may be most usefully applied. I have in my mind the case of a soldier named Jamieson, No. 1729, 2nd Reinforcements, 20th Battalion. He served through the Gallipoli campaign as a member of what was known as the “ Suicide Club “ - that is to say, he was one of the bomb throwers. After the evacuation of the Peninsula the men returned to Egypt, and whilst a number of them were on leave there they had a little jollification. Meeting a non-commissioned officer, some words were exchanged, and the men were charged with having used insubordinate language.
– I think there should be a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The soldier to whom I am referring was convicted of having used insubordinate language, and was sent . back to Australia under sentence of eighteen months’ imprisonment. After having served ten months in the Goulburn Gaol he was released on condition that he returned to the Front. He did so. Now, this man has a wife and five children, the eldest of whom is about eight years of age, and the Government have charged up against these dependants 5s. per day for every day of the ten months- that he was in gaol. A deduction is being made from each pay to them until the amount has been made up. That is the way that the Government are winning the w.ar and gaining recruits.
– When did this occur?
– It occurred early this year. I brought the case before the State War Council, of which I am a member, and the State Commandant, asked me to give him- the full particulars of it. That was in May last. The Council was unanimously of opinion that the case was a a shocking one, and was doing much to damage the success of the voluntary recruiting movement. I was under the impression, when I sent the particulars to the Commandant, that the wrong would be righted ; but getting no reply from him for some time, I wrote to him-
– We should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– In his reply he admitted–
– I think there should be a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– It was admitted by the State Commandant that a debit balance of’ £64 3s. 2d. was shown, including deferred pay, but taking this into consideration, the debit balance was reduced to £46 13s. 2d. The State Commandant, however, was bound to give effect to the regulations, which provide that when a soldier is sentenced to imprisonment the cost of his keep in gaol must.be repaid. I therefore, on the 8th August, forwarded a statement of the case to the Minister for Defence, and on the 13th my communication was acknowledged. That is as far as the matter has gone. A shocking injustice has been suffered by the soldier and his family since April last, for which it is impossible to obtain redress. I suppose that there are at least 100 cases, in regard to each of which there is a file of correspondence, which give me cause to complain of the slowness with which grievances are rectified.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I think that the Minister representing the Minister for Defence ought to hear about this case, and I ask you, sir, whether a quorum is now present. [Quorum formed.]
In referring to a large number of these crises, due to the unsympathetic administration of the Defence Department, I have to complain of the length of time which is required to obtain satisfaction. I received from the Department to-day a letter, in which it is stated that much time would be saved if these matters were referred directly . to the military paymaster, or to the local authorities in Sydney. I h,ave attempted to secure this speedier means of redress. One would think that by dealing with the military authorities in the city to which one belongs he would have a more speedy inquiry and decision in regard to some of these cases of transparent injustice. But I find that lengthy as the time is in getting a matter dealt with in Melbourne, it takes about three times as long to have a case dealt with in the branch office at Sydney. I find that letters which I have sent to the Department in Sydney remain for months without the slightest acknowledgment in any shape or form. I am, therefore. compelled to approach the Minister in Melbourne, and allow him to deal with his own officers in Sydney, who practically refuse to deal with grievances, which are submitted to them direct.
– It occurs to me, sir, that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– In referring to the length of time which it takes the military authorities in Sydney to reply to a communication, I may mention that on the 30th April I wrote in connexion with a case, and finding that I had received no acknowledgment or reply, I wrote again on the 10th August. There, was no reply sent from the 30th April up to the 10th August !
– Will you mention the name of that case?
– It is the case of Mrs. A. Bartlett, No. 11 Raper-street, Newtown, but it is only one which I have put my hand on casually. On. the 10th August - that was after I had waited for more than three months without getting any acknowledgment - I wrote again, and then obtained a reply.
If the Minister representing the Minister for Defence is taking any note of the Jamieson case, which has been acknowledged by the State War Council and every one who has heard the particulars to be a great injustice, I may mention, to show that the Recruiting Committee is finding that the case is doing considerable damage to the cause of recruiting in that district, that there is a letter from the organizing secretary to Mrs. Jamieson, asking her to make a statement to them.
– Is it a case which has been reported under the Defence Act?
– This man Jamieson was put in gaol for ten months for the use of insubordinate language.
– I call the attention of the Chair to the state: of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– If the Government are able, with their large numbers, to maintain a quorum for transacting business,’ I will explain this case to the Acting Minister for Defence. For the use of insubordinate language, after the evacuation of Gallipoli, Jamieson was sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment. After the expiration of ten months he was allowed out of gaol on condition that he went back to the Front. From the pay due to his wife and five children the Government are making a deduction at the rate of 5s. for each day of his detention in gaol. Here is a photograph of his young family. It is impossible for the family to exist on the amount now being supplied by the Government without getting assistance from relatives. It isa case which ought to be immediately put right. It has now been for three or four months in the course of negotiation with the Department, and it is about time that a. decision was reached. If the law is “a hass “ in this case, the Government ought to put an amount, on the Estimates, and have the matter cleaned up. It is not beyond the power of the Government to find some means of rectifying a case of gross injustice, even though it has been done in accordance withthe law.
Another case is that of Mrs. Burnie, of 217 Wilson-street, Newtown. There are three sons at the war. The mother has been paying off the cost of a house, which she bought as a home for the family. It is not in the name of the sons, but in the name of the mother, who is a widow. Two sons have been wounded, and the mother asked that the third son should be allowed to return home, as she was in financial difficulties, and was in danger of losing the home. The request was refused, and she now finds that she is being pushed by those, from whom she borrowed money in connexion with the purchase of the house. It has been stated by the Prime Minister time after time that if cases of this kind are brought under notice, steps will be taken to see that the women . are not unduly harassed during the absence of their soldier sons and relatives at the Front. I complain that this matter was brought under the notice of the Prime Minister’s Depart1 ment, and that I received no acknowledgment of my letter. It seems to be the custom of the Prime Minister’s Department to ignore correspondence from honorable members. Other correspondence of mine has been before the Department for months, and, though I have written several times, I can get no reply. The Prime Minister is loud in his assurances as to what the Government will do to protect the women during the absence of their bread-winners, and I think this case requires particular attention. It was pointed out to the Department that this woman was threatened that, if she could not meet an account of £30 for interest at the end pf this month, the person to whom the money was owing would take action to deprive her of her interest in the property. It is necessary that this matter shall not be delayed in the way which is customary in the Prime Minister’s Department, but that action shall be taken immediately to afford relief.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– In connexion with another case, I wrote” to the authorities in Sydney on the 16tb June. Having received no reply, 1 wrote again on the 17th August, and was informed that the case had already been decided, although I had never been advised to that effect. Another case is that of Mr. Lewis, carpenter, of 32 Susan-street, Newtown-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that this discussion is entirely out of order. We are dealing with a Loan Bill, it is true, but the. wellknown rules of debate apply even to Loan Bills; and, as applied to this Bill, they, simply mean that debate must be restricted to the principle embodied in it, namely, an authorization to borrow £80,000,000.
– The Bill states how the money shall be applied.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing in detail all these cases on the motion for the second reading. They have no relation whatever to the principle of the Bill, but involve merely a matter of ordinary administration.
– On the point of order, I wish to point out that this Bill is for the purpose of raising a loan of £80,000,000, and it states how the money is to be raised and applied. I am dealing with some of the purposes to which the money is to be applied. Amongst other purposes, it is to be applied to the administration of the Naval and Military Forces.
– Only in connexion with the war.
– Is not the treatment of soldiers at the Front and on the high seas, and of their wives and families who are to be paid out of this borrowed money, relevant to the purposes of the Bill? I am complaining of the administration in connexion with certain cases, and .the pay involved, as well as the expenses of the military establishments where these cases are being administered, is met out of loan money. It is only a quibble to say that my correspondence with this public Department referring to the payment of soldiers on active service, is not a matter relevant to the Bill. I, therefore, submit that the matter I am dealing with is absolutely relevant to the Bill, and that, before authorizing the raising of this loan, I have a right to criticise the administra tion of the Department for which the money is intended.
– It is quite clear to me that the point of order must be sustained.
– I desire to call the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for. Defence to a matter which, in my judgment, comes under the heading of war loan expenditure. I refer to the case of noncommissioned officers, in regard- to whom I received certain replies to some questions which I asked the Honorary Minister yesterday. I asked -
The answers were : -
The comment I wish to make with regard to this matter is that this extra duty pay, for some reason or other not specified, has been withdrawn. In July last a circular was issued inviting officers of the Instructional Staff to accept the war bonus of 9d. per day. It is peculiar that this circular was issued alike to men on the permanent staff and men on the acting staff, and although the 9d. a day is now being paid to the former, it is not being paid to the latter, and for some considerable time these men have felt that they have been unfairly treated, especially as in the early stages of the war almost to a man they volunteered for active service.
– I am unable to connect the honorable member’s remarks with the Bill before the House.
– The honorable member is dealing with home service1 men.
– I am dealing with the Defence Department and its connexion with the war. I understand that matter is before the House.
– Are the honorable member’s remarks connected with anything contained in the Loan Bill?
– I think they are, but if I am wrong you will put me right. We are asked ‘. to sanction a loan of £80,000,000 for war purposes, and in the Estimates the Treasurer states that the expenditure out of loan for war purposes amounts to £84,051,230. I presume that we are dealing with , part of this amount to-night, and I point out that an unfair reduction has been made in the pay of some men employed on war work. If you rule that that is outside the scope of the Bill I can leave it and bring it up on the. adjournment.
– I think it would be better if the honorable member refrained from discussing those matters -now, unless they have to do with this Bill. Isee nothing- in the Bill to indicate their relevancy.
– I have no desire to delay the House, but I cannot help remarking upon the considerable amount of indifference which has been displayed by honorable members in regard to the Loan Bill for £80,000,000 under discussion, for the quorum bells have been rung fifteen or twenty times in order to get sufficient members present to listen to the debate.. I have a couple of items upon . which I desire to speak. I am sure that the public of Australia has no knowledge of the fact that we are paying for office expenses and rent of offices out of loan. In 1910 the election cry upon which’ the Fisher Government came into . power was based upon a criticism of the “ borrow, boom, and burst” policy of the previous Administration. At that time there was a proposal by the present Treasurer to set aside £3,500,000 from loan funds for the purpose of creating an Australian Navy. At that election the verdict of the people was regarded as a mandate against the principle of borrowing to carry on the official administration of Australia. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending an expenditure of the sum of £1,862,000 for the purposes of this Bill.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Acting Minister for Defence a matter which affects his Department.
– If the honorable member will hand me the statement, I will attend to it.
– Then I shall simply read it, and leave it at that. The statement is as follows: -
I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence what appears to be an injustice that is being done to the noncommissioned staff officers in our Military Forces. Up to a short time ago, these officers were allowed what was termed extra duty pay, to the amount of1s.6d. per day; but, during the month of July, an order was issued cancelling this extra payment. In its stead, a circular was issued, to be signed by those concerned, substituting what was called a war bonus of 9d. per day, which, up to the present time, has not been paid. This reduction in pay’ has caused great dissatisfaction amongst those concerned, but the men have no means of objecting in a body, inasmuch as that anything done in a concerted manner is treated by the Military Forces as a mutiny; but I can assure the Minister that there is absolute unanimity, in their resentment. These officers are, perhaps, more valuable to the Commonwealth than any other arm of the service, as, in one way or other, the whole of the Forces are a reflex of their skill, ability, and their work as instructors. That their work has been a credit to them is borne out in the splendid record that our men have established at the Front, and any extra payment that they may have received has been more than justified. In a majority of cases, they are prevented from going away on active service, as it is imperative that their services should be retained; and, even in cases where they are allowed to enlist, they are compelled to do bo at a lower grade than officers’ whom they have trained for their commissions.
If any body of men is entitled to generous treatment by the nation, it is those who have, as I have pointed out, been responsible for the splendid record our men have created. I hope that the Minister will give this matter his sympathetic consideration, with a view to restoring to those officers the extra duty pay, or would suggest that they be granted warrant rank, with extra pay commensurate with their value to our Defence Forces. In the case of commissioned officers, the rate of pay is both liberal and generous, and it is only bare justice that these officers at least should not have their pay reduced. -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170906_reps_7_83/>.