8th Parliament · 1st Session
TheClerk reported the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.31 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the. Prime Minister inform the House whether the Government is prepared to proceed with the removal of the Seat of Government from Melbourne to Canberra?
– The policy of the Government in regard to Canberra was stated prior to the last elections, when Ministers declared that they were in favour of pushing on the construction of the Federal Capital, subject to those obvious financial limitations which affect all enterprises at the present time. A substantial sum will be placed on the Estimates, and when these come before honorable members they will have an opportunity to express their opinions concerning the adequacy of the amount, and how it should be expended.
– In view of the statement made recently by the Prime Minister that steamers of the Commonwealth line have left English ports practically empty, and as large quantities of produce have’ been sold in Western Australia to buyers in the eastern States, will the right honorable gentleman cause these steamers to lift the cargo that is awaiting transport?
– My statement that vessels ofthe Commonwealth line had left English ports with insufficient cargo referred to a condition of things no longer existent. Our vessels are now getting fair cargoes. Should any of these steamers reach these shores without being fully taken up with cargo, all available space will be utilized for the purpose the honorable member speaks of.
MrBRENNAN. - Under certain circumstances, the war gratuity, or part of it, is payable to the dependants of applicants; but there are cases in which the dependant has a very strong claim, and the soldier a very weak one, and probably in such cases no application will be made for the gratuity, for reasons personal to the soldier. I ask the Treasurer, therefore, whether he will consider the propriety of enabling the proper authorities to make payments to dependants who establish a good claim, whether theperson entitled in the first instance applies for the gratuity or not ?
– The question is a very difficult one, and the whole matter is under consideration. If a way can be found to do what the honorable member wishes, I shall take care that it is followed. I have the fullest sympathy with dependants who are in the unfortunate condition to which he refers.
– A little time ago, through the courtesy of the President of the Senate, I was allowed to hang a series of maps in the Queen’s Hall, one of which in particular attracted a good deal of attention. I ask the Treasurer if he will favorably consider my request that a sum of money be placed on the Estimates to enable copies of that map to be sent to various parts of Australia, to show what great unoccupied areas we have in the north of this continent ?
– The map to which the honorable member refers is a very striking one, and I should say that its circulation in this country would do a great deal of good. If the cost would not be too much, I shall be glad to put a small sum on the Estimates for the purpose desired.
Post Office Stores Employers
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne, has reported to the effect that nothing is known of any such case in the Stores Branch, General Post Office, Melbourne.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I have not seen the announcement referred to by the honorable member, but I may say that Mr. Larkin, general manager of the Commonwealth Government line of Steamers, has been appointed as Commonwealth representative on the Imperial Shipping Committee to watch and safeguard the interests of Australia.
Drought Allowances : Telephones in Country Districts.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the great demand for telephones and the greater disadvantages residents in the country districts live under compared with city people, who have public telephones within a reasonable distance of their residences, will the Minister give priority to country applicants for telephonic communication, many of whom live many miles from centres of civilization and particularly from medical aid?
– The policy of the Government in regard to public telephone lines in country districts, as notified some time back, provides for liberal treatment of applications for such communication, and requests which comply with the new liberalized conditions will be met in all cases where the requisite material can be obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Information is being obtained of the particulars asked, and replies will be furnished later.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
I desire to add that the Bill will certainly be introduced, and put through both Houses, before the Parliament adjourns this year.
Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the important and urgent measures to be’ dealt with during the present session, particularly the Tariff proposals, affecting as they do the commercial and industrial interests of the country, the Government will ask the House to sit on Tuesdays during the. remainder of the session?
– If it is found that the present sitting days do not permit of satisfactory progress being made with Government business, the question of asking the House to sit on Tuesdays will be considered by the Government.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Having reference to a circular-letter issued to German and Austrian nationals throughout Australia, asking the date and place of birth, date and place of arrival in Australia, whether married or single, date and place of birth of each child, details of all property - real or personal, &c. - will the Minister state for public information, and in order that anxiety on the part of good citizens may be allayed, what are the aims and objects of the said circular-letter?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Peace Treaty vests in the Commonwealth Government all property owned in Australia by German nationals resident in Australia as at 10th January, 1920. The circular in question was despatched for the purpose of securing a record of all such property. In all cases where Germans have been resident in the Commonwealth for more than ten years, their property has been vested in the Public Trustee, and will be liquidated only provided that the Crown is able to definitely prove them guilty of disloyal actions during the period of the war. In all cases where Germans have been resident in Australia less than ten years, their property has been vested in the Trustee, and will be liquidated unless they are able to prove that they may be considered loyal subjects of the British Crown.
Mr. A. C. Morley
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Is the Mr. A. C. Morley, member of the Royal Commission on the Basic Wage, the same Mr. A. C. Morley, barrister, who, at the Federal general election in December, 1919, is alleged to have violated the secrecy of the ballot, and has, so far, not been prosecuted?
Delivery of Mails toWellington (New South Wales) Hospital: Soldiers’ Gravesin Australian Cemeteries.
Question - That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
.- Honorable members will probably recall that, last Friday week, I endeavoured to ventilate a grievance in this Chamber regarding the non-delivery of mails to the hospital in Wellington, New South Wales. Upon that occasion, an exhibition of Christian charity was given by the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden), who called attention to the state of the House at a time when numbers of honorable members had just departed in order to catch their trains, the result being that the House was counted out, and I was unable to place my complaint before the Minister concerned. However, I now avail myself of the opportunity to place the following facts before the PostmasterGeneral: - The Wellington district hospital is situated just outside of the postal boundary, although it is within the municipal boundary. For the reason that the hospital is not inside the postal bounds, the Department refuses to deliver mails thereto. The consequence is that when the night nurse comes off duty at 7 a.m. she has to walk down to the post-office in the town, collect the hospital mails, and carry them back to that institution, so that it is often 11 a.m. before she can retire.
– Cannot some arrangement be made whereby the mails shall be delivered at some point on the postal boundary ?
– This is a case where an exception might well be made to the general rule. If there is one section of the community deserving of sympathetic consideration, it is the nursing staffs of our hospitals. The nurses work exceptionally long hours. I do not think any honorable member would advocate an extension of their hours on duty, or would favour the maintenance of their present twelve-hour shifts, if those periods could be reduced. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that after a nurse has completed twelve hours on night duty, she should be required to undertake a walk in order to collect mails, and take them back to the hospital.
Air. Bowden. - How far is the hospital outside the postal boundary?
– About 600 yards. In an opposite direction from the hospital, mails are delivered by the Postal Department to Chinese and others, who, although, they are within the postal boundary, are actually further from the post-office itself than is the hospital. This position is aggravated by the fact that to deliver mails to these Chinese and other residents, a road has to be traversed which is at any time bad, and in winter is almost impassable, whereas the road leading to the hospital is an excellent gravel construction practically to the doors of the institution. Altogether, I emphasize that this is a case where an exception should be made to the general practice of the Post and Telegraph Department. There are several other hospitals in New South Wales to which practically the same facts are applicable. Honorable members know ‘ that it has been the practice, wherever possible, to build hospitals at a reasonable distance from the centre of a town. This hospital is in a very nice situation, but simply because it is outside the postal area the mails cannot be delivered to it. It is time that the Department made an exception in this case. If it did so it would give satisfaction to everybody, and would be put to no additional expense. The staff at the hospital numbers ten, including the matron and a domestic staff of four, and there is a daily average of twenty patients. The case warrants further investigation by the Department, which, I hope, will decide to deliver the mails at the hospital.
.- 1 am interested in this matter, because for two years I was a member of the hospital committee. ‘ This grievance was constantly before the committee, and has been the subject of negotiation with the Postal Department for a long time. I agree with everything said by the honor able member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle) except his estimate of the distance of the hospital from the postal boundary. I should say .that the distance is not more than 300 yards. The postal authorities might very well take a generous view of this case. The delivery of mails to the hospital would entail at the most’ twenty minutes of the letter carrier’s time in travelling beyond the postal boundary. I hope that the Postal Department will eventually see the reasonableness of this claim.
– How many houses are there between the boundary and the hospital?
– I think that the last house on the hospital road is within the postal area. All that would be entailed by the granting of this request would be that the letter carrier would have to walk 300 or 400 yards beyond the boundary in order to deliver mails to the hospital; then he would return direct to the post office. Even if the distance be 600 yards, as stated by the honorable member for Calare, I still strongly support the claim.
– I again direct the attention of the Defence Department to the neglect of soldiers’ graves in some Australian cemeteries. A little time ago I asked whether something could not be done to show the same respect to the soldier buried in his own country as is being shown to those who fell on foreign battlefields. I cannot but feel that the matter has not been presented to the Department as clearly as it should be, otherwise some definite action would have been taken. Recently I was asked by a committee that has been connected with the celebration of Anzac Day to visit a big metropolitan cemetery to see what has been done there. The committee showed me a number of graves that were entirely unmarked. They told me that when they first interested themselves in this matter some graves were being walked over by the general public because there was nothing to indicate that anybody was buried there. They showed me some that, owing to the kindness of the cemetery authorities, had been decently turfed, but were still unmarked. In one very pathetic case the widow of a deceased soldier had placed upon the grave some little mark bearing his name, but because it “was not in accordance with the cemetery regulations it was removed; and the grave is still unmarked. Amongst the graves shown to me was one of a soldier who died a few days after having taken part in the landing at’ Gallipoli. I claim that these soldiers are entitled to the same mark of respect from the Department that the Australian people approve of being shown to the soldiers buried overseas. I am informed that these are not exceptional cases, and as -the years go by there will be increasing difficulty in identifying the graves. Therefore, the matter is urgent, and should be attended to forthwith. I dope that my remarks will be brought to the attention of the Minister for Defence, and that either the Department itself will undertake to erect some mark over the graves of soldiers buried in Australia, or, alternatively, that those who will undertake the supervision of the work shall be provided with the same design of cross or memorial as is being used on the graves of soldiers buried abroad. I urge that the same memorial be used in Australia as overseas, so that all graves thus marked by the Government shall bear the one form of recognition.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 4th August (vide page 3261), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now rend a second time.
.- In the first place I desire to put myself right in respect of an interjection I made yesterday when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) was speaking. I said that the Bill would practically do away with the Arbitration Court. What I meant was, that the machinery provided by this Bil], being so much better than that of the Arbitration Court, would be used so frequently that the Arbitration Court itself would fall into disuse. The Leader of the Opposition seemed to think that I suggested that this Bill would wipe the Court out of legal existence.
– That contention was supported by the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden).
– I assure the honorable member for Kennedy that he is mistaken. The honorable member for Nepean had the same idea as I am now expressing, namely, that the machinery of this Bill will be used so frequently that there will be little use for the Court,
– The Bill does provide machinery for destroying an award of the Arbitration Court.
– The Bill does in a way provide means for the variation of an award, but that is not to destroy the Court, which will still exist. I. mention this, because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) seemed to think that, in my opinion, the Bill would wipe out the Court itself. However, I am sure this measure has not been introduced too soon. I do not look on it as by any means a panacea for industrial unrest, but it is a step in the right direction; and if I cannot get exactly what I desire from the Government, I must be satisfied with what is offered.
– Take what they give you?
– Certainly not; I take the best I can get at the present time, and I regard the Bill, I say, as a move in the direction in which some good can be achieved. No one can deny the serious position that industrial affairs have reached, not only in the Commonwealth, but all over the world. The position is not improving, but getting worse; the ill-feeling between the employing and employed sections of the community is becoming more intense and bitter, and if something is not done to effect a cure, I am afraid that the whole social fabric is in danger of being destroyed.
– That is what we want - a better one.
– Some Bolsheviks, and other cranks of that sort, may have desires of the kind just expressed, but they will not find sensible unionists to agree with them. -The unionises and working men generally are, individually, men of fair common sense, and do not approve of these extreme and silly propositions. All they desire is a fair chance - to be in a position where they can feel they are getting fair treatment, and a just share of the product of their labour. The loss of money in wages in Australia during the last few years through numerous strikes - a loss that can never be made up - is another fact that shows the time has arrived when some serious step should be taken to find a remedy.
I do not know that the Bill could go much further than it does, seeing the constitutional limits imposed on this Parliament in matters industrial. I should have liked to see some attempt made to recognise that great and most important section of the community, the general public, who are so seriously affected by strikes. As industrial affairs have developed of latte years we find three parties concerned - the employers, the employees, and the general public - the last of whom suffer indirectly from strikes more than, perhaps, do the main parties to the disputes. It is the public who have to find the money for carrying on the proposedtribunals, which we all hone are going to improve matters; and in devising machinery to avert these industrial conflicts the general public must be contemplated. A strike in the coal-mining trade in a little time paralyzes the whole community by practically stopping all work; and, as I say, the public must be more considered than they have been in the past when legislation of this kind is under discussion. Why are so many people in the community anxious to go on strike t
– That is what we are all waiting to hear; tell us.
– I have heard various reasons advanced, some of which, I suppose, are correct. Some honorable members assert that industrial unrest is chiefly caused by the high cost of living; and I think there is a good deal in that idea. During the last fifteen years or so wages have been raised considerably, but the cost of living has risen in a greater ratio. A workman may receive much more money for his week’s work than he did ten or twelve years ago, but he finds that, owing to the increase in prices, he is now really worse off. That, to my mind, is a very serious position, which must lead the worker to believe that his prospects are anything but what they should be; he feels, not only that he is being debarred from the good things of life, but, what, perhaps, hurts him much more, that he is not in a position to do what he would desire for his growing family. If we can remedy that state of affairs we shall have done a great deal.
– Give the Court power to fix the purchasing power of the wages awarded’.
– We have tried price fixing and other devices, but they do not seem to work with much success. We have been asked by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to treat this Bill in a non-party spirit, and I hope honorable members will accept that invitation. We may look, I think, for some valuable suggestions from honorable members opposite for improving this measure, seeing that amongst them are many representatives of Labour organizations, who have spent much of their lives studying these industrial problems, from one point of view, at any rate, if not from all. Such members may be able to propose amendments to clauses which, in their opinion, are not far-reaching enough; and all such suggestions will, I have no doubt, receive fair consideration from the Government and from members generally on this side. Our object is to provide a measure that will keep the wheels of industry going round, so that production, which is now so necessary, may be pushed to its furthest legitimate limits. I can understand people going on strike for some big. principle, but I cannot understand the stoppage of work for causes which of late years have underlain a great many- of these conflicts.’ An industry provides a man and his family with his bread and butter and the employers with the means of subsistence; and to cease production is to “kill the goose with the golden egg” for all concerned. One cause of the failure of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is to be found in the fact that the machinery of arbitration cannot be set going until a position is created that practically amounts to a strike, and I do not. know why provision has not long since been made whereby a notification of a claim may be submitted for adjudication, work being allowed to proceed in the meantime without interruption, and the award when delivered being made retrospective to the date of the submission of. the claim. Such a provision would have saved the workers millions of pounds in the shape of wages, a loss which they will never be able to overtake. The Bill does not actually abolish the Arbitration Court, but so far as I am concerned, that tribunal could cease to exist to-morrow.
– Because the honorable member has good reason for allowing it to go out of existence.
– I hme never had nash of an: opinion about its utility. E admit: that it has? dune- some’ good, bute nothing like- the amount of good’ its creators fondly hoped: it. wou’l’di d’oi. Afc amy ratej we have now come1 to1 thei point when neither employer’ nor- wage1 earners- seem -very anxious to; go to1 it!. The process- is- too> slow- and. cumbersome; it- is- also too costly. Very often By the time an award1 is giventhe workers- are ready to submit- a further claim, because of the changes that have, taken place in their industry since they first submitted a plaint. I am not surprised that the Court has outlived’ its usefulness;, and’ I cannot understand why the. GFovernmemt do not admit the fact and propose its abolition.
– Why. do. they not do so, in, stead of. attempting, it in; this underhand. . way?
– The.- Government do not see fit to» go- as- far as– 1, would go, but tliey are not- doing anything imdteThaaid. In Australia! we- have tried Arbitration Courts, and- Wages Boards, and ir i&> clear that the latter: hasre proved1 f ar more effective iu? settling industrial disputes; This Bill, follows somewhat on the lines of Wages Boards, and, asi far as. the Constitution, permits, on. the. lines! of the- Whitley councils,, which” have- done so- much good, in Great. Britain;. _ Our Arbitration, Court doesi not provide facilities for the parties ta come together, and. reason with one.- another in order, to arrive, at- a wise decision! in regard, to the matter.- in. dispute. Theyare treated as- are the litigants in. an. ordinary Court, of law,, and kept at arm’s, length. Advocates appear on. either side,, and work hard’ for- the interests of their, respective clients. A professional, man. presides, and deal’s with matters that any ordinary business man- could handle just as; well. He is not called: upon, to deal’ with, questions of law, but has to ascertain what -is the fairest thing to do in a certain industry. There really is no necessity for appointing a Judge to do this work. In any case, a great deal of time is- wasted in the. endeavour to acquaint him with the details- of the industry, whose conditions are- the subjectof investigation. The parties to a disprajie who- are all drawing their subsistence from the industry in question ought” to be “best fitted to arrive at a decision as; to> the. most workable- arrangement for. carrying on the industry. When tkm cards arei laid, on, the. table, before a. Boaasdi such! as is. proposed’, in. the: BiH’,. both parties, will’, have, common sense as. human beings: to. recognise what is the. best working arrangement to suit, the- interests of the industry,, and’, what, suits, the, best, interests, of the industry is. what will best. suit, both parties. The Arbitration- Court does not), provide facilities for arriving at. a. mutual agreement; on the other hand, a Tot of time’, and’ money is wasted in doing- something, else which has no relative’ bearingon, the crux of the question.. Ofur constitutional’ limitations prevent us- from- arriving at” as- satisfactory a- position, as- hasi Been reached! in Great Britain by the’ establishment of Whitley councils-, but- if we’ enjoyed; the- same- free- scope in the- matter of d’ealin’g with industrial affairs’ which the Imperial Government has, we1 could! do here what- is now being- done ins the Old: Country. However, wet shall’ make, a. good! beginning bv- passing this. Bill.. Provision, is made* for: a Commonwealth Council) and District Councils’ in-, each State, composed of an equal’ number of: employers; and. employees in. any industry which-, is thei subject- of: ai dispute.. The chairmani of each, council, is to be appointed by the Governor-General;; but, if the arrangement provided; for. in the Bill is not. satisf acfrory to- the members of thai Labour-party,, the. Government: maybe prepared to accept an amendment whiehj will enable.’ the: councils! to choose) their own chairmen-. To- that I can sees no objection.. The: councils will be empowered’ to- go thoroughly into” the- questions imvolved in a dispute. They may inquire into1 all” industrial matters) and;, asi will be< seen- by glkncing- at the definition of “ industrial matters,” Ifha-t term’ has a very wide meaning:
– Is the definition im the Bill wider than that in the present’ Act?-
– I am not. prepared! to say offhand.
– Coudd the councils- inr vesitigate the: causes of the high, cost of. living?
– I take it that they could. They will be. able- to investigate! anything affecting an indoistrial matter, or- likely to> cause a. dispute in any indusr try. The honorable member: for Hunter.- (Mr. Charlton) told us last night that the coal miners think that, at the present prices of coal, they should be better paid. Under the definition of industrial matters to which I have referred, an inquiry could be held on that subject. But I am so convinced of the importance of putting an end to industrial unrest that, if there is any doubt about the matter, I shall be willing to support an amendment that will give the necessary power, and I think many other members on this side would dothe same. Anything that would tighten up the measure will be well received, at least so far as I am concerned.
– It is votes we want.
– I can speak only for myself, and off er only my own vote. I have been prepared, atany time during the past ten years, to vote in this way.
– The honorable member would ihave to be very satisfied before he would vote for an amendment.
– I have always been in favour of proper industrial legislation, and for years have preached co-operation, profit-sharing, andco-partnership.
– The shearers seemto have you frightened.
– I am not frightened of them. There are a lot of shearers in my district, and some of the best sheep in the world. Aftera council has gone intomattersand recommended a certain course, a special tribunal is tobe provided which will have executive power to give effect to the recommendations. A local Board may also be appointed to deal with adispute in some particular district.
– The local Boards will have no power. If their members fail to agree, the matter goes on to thecouncil.
– The decisions of local Boards are subject to review by special tribunals.
Mr.Nicholas. - They have no power at all.
– The local Boards may come to very wise decisions.
– On the other hand, they may not.
– There is always an element of fallibility in human judgment. In this debate there has been a great amountof imaginingof evil on the part of honorable members opposite, but none of themhas put his finger on anydefinite defect. Apparently, being unable tosay anything against the Bill, they have talked away from it, evading the issue. I do notpreach to other honorable members on the subject of their duties, but I do not see why theleader of the Opposition and his followers, who profess to be the representatives of the great Labour organizations, should be so anxious to hear what the Trades Halls and other bodies think of the Bill. They, being representatives of Labour in the Parliament, ought to state their own opinions concerning it. I am satisfied that in their hearts they are in accord with the measure. They have been invited to treat it as a non-party measure.
– That has helen said of every Bill.
– Surely it is nonparty, becauseindustrial unrest affects every member ofthe community. I would likeLabour members to give us the benefit of their knowledge and experience., so that the Bill maybe improved.
– That is coming in due course, should there be time.
– Therewillbe plentyof time. Members could circulate notices of their amendments now.
-I intend to move that “organization” means a bonâ fide trade union organization recognised by the Trades Hall Council of the State or district.
– That might or might not be a good amendmenjt. There are manynecessary members of the community connected with our industries who are not members of what the honorable member would consider bonâ fide organizations. I should like him to show howthe Bill is hostile to, or menaces in any way, the organizations of Labour.
– Under it you may have bogus organizations springing up, such as the employers have on other occasions patted on the back.
– That is an instance of the imagining that I have spoken of. The honorable member referred to the matter yesterday, but said nothing to prove his statement. Nearly every big industry in Australia is controlled by well-organized trade unions.
– In spite of most of the members opposite.
– The public are beginning to see that statementsof that kind are the stock-in-trade of some politicians. The representatives of Labour on the proposed Councils and ;Boards would probably be chosen by these organizations.
– I call attention! to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I cannot see the force of suggestions that this Bill entails danger to organized labour. ‘ Labour is fairly well organized to-day. I cannot see where this measure is likely to provide an opportunity for a bogus organization to secure representation upon a tribunal and so displace a genuine union. Why should there be such a suspicion? Suppose that some body of employers attempted to secure the appointment upon a tribunal of representatives of employees some of whom were not members of a properly registered labour organization. What would be the use of any decision given by such a tribunal 1 Nothing would be gained. Unless an award meets with the concurrence of and satisfies the great body of employees concerned - who would be trade unionists in every instance - the result will be nil. More harm than good will be done. I cannot perceive the danger, but if the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) can suggest some safeguard, can propose an improvement to the Bill which would, actually tend towards the settlement of industrial unrest, then that would be a matter of such consequence that honorable members generally would feel bound to go a long way in the direction of supporting him. By the establishment of advisory councils, which would present recommendations to special tribunals, which, in their turn, would make awards, a very much more speedy settlement of trouble should be secured than by the present method of approaching the Arbitration Court. Under the provisions of this Bill the parties engaged in various industries will meet around a table, man to man. It stands to reason that any decision arrived at by such a process will afford greater satisfaction and last longer than an- award of the Arbitration Court. If it could only be instilled into the minds of the workers that an award given by a tribunal appointed under this measure must ‘be the fairest thing to all sides - being the outcome of a round-table conference - I feel sure that 90 per cent, of employees would be content. The workers to-day a~» not unreasonable, in the main; they do not look for miracles. These roundtable conferences, at -which the workers will be directly represented, should afford employees generally an excellent opportunity of getting into touch, not merely with their own troubles and grievances, but with the difficulties of their employers.
– I rise to a point of order. I take the view that, in the light of a recent decision from the Chair, discussion upon this Bill is disorderly. There is already a Federal Statute which deals with the subject of industrial unrest. The Federal Arbitration Court is an outcome of that Statute. There are more than forty cases now awaiting settlement by the Arbitration Court; and these are sub judice. AH the causes of industrial unrest which will have the attention of the Court in its consideration of those forty cases are being actually ventilated in this Chamber throughout the present debate. I am of opinion that it is not in order to introduce a Bill dealing with the subject of industrial unrest while the whole matter is sub judice. The recent decision of the Chair to which I have just alluded had to do with the Jerger case.
– But that was only a decision for the day.
– I regard that remark as an attack upon’ the Chair. I respectfully remind Mr. Deputy Speaker that when the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) was recently prevented from discussing the guilt of Father Jerger honorable members were informed that the reason for such ruling was that the case of the reverend father was sub judice. That case, as a matter of fact, concerned the right of the Government to deport Father Jerger, and it was not a matter of his guilt or otherwise. I regard the present discussion as being out of order, .for the reason that there is already an Act of Parliament in force for the prevention of industrial disputes. Yet you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are permitting the debate to proceed, despite the fact that there are more than forty cases before the Arbitration Court involving industrial unrest, which are at present sub judice.
– Order! The honorable member is not stating a point of order. Will he please proceed to do so?
– As a result of the recent decision of the Chair, honorable members were prevented from discussing a matter which was held to be sub judice. Despite the fact that the matter of industrial unrest is sub judice, honorable members are being permitted to discuss a measure specifically introduced for the purpose of settling and preventing industrial unrest. Of course, I consider the recent decision of the Chair to be a silly one.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw. Perhaps it is not just what I wanted to say. But, in the light of that decision, I strongly hold the view that the present debate is out of order.
– Order ! I am quite prepared to give a ruling forthwith.
– But I wish to state my case.
– The honorable member has stated it. I rule that the Bill under discussion is properly before the House, and, therefore, that the debate can proceed.
– Then I give notice of my intention to dissent from your ruling.
– I fear that this Bill, although it represents a step in the right direction, will not provide a panacea for industrial unrest. The trouble is so deep-seated that the measure is not likely to reach down to its roots. Human nature, with all its faults, is involved. Unless we can change the hearts of the people I do not see that legislation will achieve much.
– Then, why not change the system which is responsible for it all ?
– The only chance I see of effecting a radical, and, therefore, sufficient change, would be to bring in some system of co-operation, profitsharing, or co-partnership. Under the Constitution I doubt whether the Federal Parliament could to-day take steps in that direction ; but the State Parliaments could do much to inaugurate such a system. Until the working man can be made to feel that he is getting a fair proportion of the product of his labour I do not see that there can be any real cure for industrial unrest. The trouble with many people is that they hold the view that the workers should have all the profits.
– They should get all they produce. /
– It would be difficult to estimate what proportion of a product represented the share of the employee actually engaged in producing it.
– Nobody would be so silly as to try to estimate the share of an individual employee in the product of an industry.
– If the employee is to be given all he produces, what suggestion has the ‘ honorable member for arriving at an estimate of his share ?
Mr. Considine__ I suggest that the honorable member take a course in economics; then he will find out.
– If individual cases are to be examined it will be found that there are some workers who will secure mighty little as their share. The man who is engaged in a “ go-slow “ policy will reap small benefit. However, there is a reasonable course which might be followed. If a system were inaugurated whereby the workers received a proper wage and a fair share of surplus profits from an industry there would be a different state of affairs. Employees would find it to their interest to make the industry in which they were engaged a paying one. They would not tolerate, waste or loafing, for example. They would put their brains as well as their hands into the task of making the industry prosperous, for the reason that the more profitable the business became the greater would be the sum divided. If employees could be persuaded to take up shares in an industry, instead of requiring all cash payment for their services, there would be many more workers in the land who would be conscious of the rights of both sides. They would not take long to learn the difficulties of management, as well as the troubles of wage-earning. In time to come there should be no reason why the workers themselves, by making a beginning along the line of securing shares in an industry, should, not qualify to become directors. They would accumulate so many shares that they would become directors, and men of natural ability and practical experience who had worked their way up from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest would be valuable colleagues for the men who supplied the brains required in connexion withthe distribution of products and the general management of industry. Only when every man is doing his best for the industry in which he is engaged, because he is getting a fair share of what he produces, as nearly as human agency can estimate it, shall we get a contented community. That is a natural policy to adopt. It is in accordance with theteachings of the best political economists; they have pointed out that a certain amount of selfishness is themainspring of economic action. But there can be enlightened selfishness as well as sordid selfishness. The men who invest their capital in industries do so not forphilanthropic motives, but in order to win some reward;but by the success of their efforts they also benefit the community. If we can develop some system of co-operation, suchas I have suggested, we shall have discovered acure for industrial unrest.
Our trouble is that this Parliament is limited in itslegislativescope. The State Parliaments arenot, and the question arises whether it wouldbe wise for this Parliament to have all the industrial power or whether anyof it shouldbe lef t to the States. If it couldbe shown that with complete industrial authority in the handsof this Parliament awards could be made elastic enough to meet the varyingconditions of living and output in different portions of Australia, I would preferthat the whole of the industrial power should behandedover to a central authority. But theStates could never agreeto any concentrationof power which would result in acommonruleso rigid that tihe one wage would applythroughoutthe Commonwealth inthe same industry, regardlessof localconditions. I should not care if the Commonwealth Arbitration Court were abolished tomorrow, and all industrial matters were handedover to the control oftheStates. The only difficulty inthe way of that course would : be in connexion with maritime, coal mining, and shearing disputes, which extend allover theCommon wealth. If we could devise an efficient means of dealing withthose industries I would not object iftheCommonwealth Arbitration Court disappeared,but Ibelieve it would be best inthe interestsof the community to enlarge the industrial powersof this Parliament, providedthat wecan arrange thatawardsshall show fairconsideration forthe peculiar conditionsof different
States and localities. In the restricted circumstances in which we find ourselves, this Bill is a step in the right direction. It willbring the parties together in a way which is not possible in the Arbitration Court. They may discuss their troubles as man to man, and I believe that common sense and fair play will prevail. I am sorry to notice the lack of confidence in their fellow-man displayed by some honorable members. They do not trust him to do the right thing in any circumstances.
Mr.Gabb. - That is because of our past experience.
– Surely past experience cuts as much one way as the other.
– We havehad the worstend of the stick.
– The worker will not be getting the worst end of the stick under this Bill; both parties will have equal representation. Iamsatisfied that if the employees and the employers were left alone toad justtheirowndifferences, 90 per cent. of the industrial disputes that drag onformonths, and cause all sorts of suffering to the community,, wouldbe avoided. The disputesaremainlyin relation to wages and working conditionsin industries., and the men who actually live in and by those industries know more about the conditions than can any judicial tribunal. The present system of having to inform a man onthe Bench of conditions ofwhich the parties are fully cognisant, and then relying uponhim to give judgment in the dispute, isa hideous waste of time and money. If the disputants are brought together at a Conference a lot of the ignorance and distrust which are fostered by persons who preach class consciousness will be abolished. Why in a democratic country like Australia there should bean attempt to raise class consciousness passes my comprehension. The Bill will go a long way towards eliminating the vicious influences which areoperating in society to-day, and therefore I have pleasure in supporting it.
– The honorablemember for Melbourne Porte (Mr. Mathews) has given notice of thefollowing motion to dissent frommyruling -
ThatMr. Speaker’s ruling, that the Industrial Peace Bill is properlybefore the House fordiscussion, bedissented from.
The motion is seconded by the, honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and will be dealt with on the next day of sitting.
.- It appears to me that the Bill would he more properly designated, “ The Persistent Pursuit of Rainbows Bill.” It will be just as effective in accomplishing industrial peace in this community as. if it had never been brought forward at all. Those who are responsible for the introduction of the measure are in much the same condition as were the people of whom the prophet Jeremiah spoke, “ They have healed also the hurt of my people lightly, saying peace, peace, when there is no peace.” That is the state of affairs not only in Australia, but in every industrial country in the world to-day.
– Satan quotes Scripture to suit his own ends.
– It does not matter whether or not the honorable member’s friends quote. Scripture; the words I have quoted are very apropos oft the present situation. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson), seemed to approach the question of industrial unrest as if it were a condition peculiar to this Commonwealth.
– I said it was rampant all over the world.
– If it is rampant all over the world, and like causes produce like effects in all countries, it follows that no piece of legislation in Australia will solve a world-wide problem.
-Let us cure our own troubleif we can.
– Tha honorable member knows - if he does not, he ought to study more closely those economists whose theories he was praising - thatindustrial unrest is inherent in the present economic system in. every country that has become industrialized. The honorable member and others who have spoken on. tha Government side approach the Bill as if the existing order had always existed and always must exist. The existing social order, the political institutions, the judiciary, and those other institutions which constitute what we term society to-day, is based’ upon the capitalist system.
– Nonsense ! Evolution is taking place all the time.
– Evolution will require to be accelerated if it is to keep pace with the modern view.
– We do not want revolution-.
– The honorable member may say. that, but when he talks about evolutionary processes he must know that revolution is merely the culminating point of evolution. Honorable members are aware that the. complete revolutionizing of the system of wealth production, owing to the growth of the factory system, has accomplished a revolution in the world’s production. To-day the industrial evolution is still in process, and because it doesnot stop, and because of the failure of society to adjust itself, to the changed methods of produce tion, we have industrial unrest. This Bill proposes nothing more than a glorified system of Wages Boards.
– Does not the honorable member believe in Wages Boards?
– I. have no time for anything underthe existing order of society. I am not here to peddle any particular brand of nostrum, but to speak the facts as I believe them to be. White we have the existing economic systenv, the; intelligent organized workers in Australia, and every other country, will not be content with an extra1s. per day or an hour less in their working time-.
– Do they not want better conditions?
– Most decidedly, but they want something more. They want; what we term industrial democracy as. well as political democracy.. They want democracy in the workshops as well as in the political institutions. The: time has gone by, at this stage: of the world’s progress, when working men andwomen are content to be the industrial serfs; of the employers of this or any
– That means the destruction of society.
– No; it. means the reconstruction of society.
– There is not much difference from your point of view.
– If the honorable member cannot see any difference between the destruction of society and the reconstruction of society, I am afraid I am unable to help him.
– The trouble is that the destruction will come first.
– Of course, the honorable member would view it as the destruction of society if he found himself transformed into a useful member of the community, producing wealth with the rest of the workers; that, to him, would certainly mean the destruction of the existing order. But the honorable member forWilmot (Mr. Atkinson) mentioned people who “ go slow,” or who will not work.
– I did not accuse anybody of “going slow.”
– Did you not? The honorable member knows well that there are two classes of idler in society - the one with the ragged pants and dilapidated condition generally, who is supposed to frequent the parks; and the other with the belltopper and a big waistcoat who does not do anything useful.
– The “big waistcoats” are not on this side of the House.
-I do not know whether that is so or not; but, if they are not on this side, at any rate, it must be because those here are “going slow on the job.” We all know that society today creates an incentive to those who “go slow’’ or will not work. I have no fault to find, and I never had, with the brain-worker or the manual labourer. All those who contribute to the wealth of society by brains or muscle are workers, whether they be managers or “ pickandshovel ‘’ men. Other honorable members, with the honorable member for Wilmot, in approaching a question of this kind ask, “How can a Judge, who knows nothing about the industry concerned, or the working conditions, and so forth, be able to determine the questions placed before him ? “ The honorable member for Wilmot practically held up such a Judge to ridicule, and as incompetent to decide regarding working conditions in any dispute. I agree with the honorable m’ember that a Judge of the Arbitration Court, or any other individual who has no experience of the conditions under which men and women work, whether in the mines, factories, or fields, is incompetent to judge in such matters. Whether we call it an Arbitration Court, a Wages Board, a tribunal, or by any other name, it amounts to the same thing; there are so many representatives of the employers, and so many representatives of the employees, and then the gentleman, whether be-wigged or not, who knows no thing about the working conditions, and does not want to have any closer acquaintance with them, tries to strike the happy medium.
– Tosplit the difference.
– Yes, and always in favour of the employer. Honorable members talk about equal representation, but there never has been equal representation, so far as the employees are concerned, on any Board or in any Arbitration Court. By his social position and environment, the chairman of such a tribunal is, consciously or unconsciously, biased on the side of the employers, and not on the side of the employees.
– Do you say that such a chairman is not fairly guided by the evidence ?
– If the same evidence in any such matter was placed before the honorable member for Wilmot and myself, we should each come to a totally different conclusion.
– Not necessarily.
– It is just what the honorable member has done. The honorable member talked about his having studied political economists, whom he lauded, and then showed that the whole science of economics has been wasted on him, for he spoke of the wickedness of talking about the class struggle or class consciousness. The merest political tyro recognises that the interests of the employer and the employed, however much we may camouflage the fact, can never be in common.
– I have walked up and down Australia, and I know better than that.
– Others have walked up and down the earth, and will bear out what I say. The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson), and others know that the basic factor of our system is production for profit, and whenan employer hires a man, or a number of men, he does so to make profit; and to say that the interests of the profit-maker and the interests of the people out of whom the profit is made are identical is sheer nonsense.
– The employer wants a little profit to average his losses.
– The honorable member put it very aptly when he said that out of his employment the working man makes his bread and butter and the employer makes his subsistence, and that to strike was to “ kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” Quite so ; but the working people to-day in Britain, for instance, and in other countries, are taking a different stand. When the railways were taken over by the British Government during the war, the taxpayer was loaded up with £2,000,000 in order to make up the deficit in therailway dividends; but now the employees have obtained a 50 per cent. share in the management of the railways!
– And one result is that fares and freights have been doubled against the general community.
– That is the result of the country making up the deficit in the dividends for the honorable member’s friends.
– It is the result of State management.
– In Italy, we see the same with regard to therailways, and in France with regard to the postal services; throughout the world to-day the intelligenlt workers are demanding, not an extra ls. a day, but a share, and an increasing share, in the control of industry.
– Did I not suggest a way for them to get it?
– The honorable member suggested profit-sharing, and some more “bird-lime” of that sort.
– Show me a better way.
– I am showing you one.
– You have not shown me yet.
– I cannot help it if the honorable member is unable to grasp the point. I am showing thait the workers to-day are making use of both their industrial organization and their political organization; and the goal they are aiming at is the control of the factory, the workshop, the mine, and everyother source of wealth, in order to democratize them. They do not wish to live, at the present day, in a state akin to the serfdom of feudalism, under which men were tied to the land. To-day in most countries the worker is just as much tied tothe factory, the workshop, and the mine as was his fellow-worker tied to the land in the feudal times. It is true that to-day the worker does not wear his master’s collar, but if some honorable members opposite had their way he would wear it.
The working class to-day are striving more and more consciously, as they begin to understand the position, for a greater share in the control of industry; and until the workers, who are industrially and politically organized, secure that control we can never have industrial rest.
– Have they not had the “ control “ of industry at Broken Hill for twelve months?
– No; but the other people have lost control.
– Who has got it - your friends who “walk up and down the earth”?
– No; there is a suspension of activities at present becausethe Broken Hill people have determined that the right of the employer to poison men in five years with lead is out of date in a place like Australia-; they have decided that they will no longer allow their children to suffer, as the Commonwealth Sta’tistician has proved they do suffer, by showing that the infantile death-rate at that place is greater than in other centres of population in the Commonwealth. That deathrate, according to the medical testimony, is directly traceable to parents working in the lead industry ; and that is one reason why they decline to allow the employers the righit to send them to the cemetery at express speed. Any honorable member can make himself acquainted with the facts if he studies the cases put forward by the men’s representatives from time to time. However, that is beside the question, and only said in reply to the interjections of the honorable member for Grampians. The fact remains that in no country in the world can there be industrial peace while the existing system continues. The’ workers are organizing, consciously and definitely, for the purpose of socializing industry on the ground thait wealth socially produced should be socially owned. It is useless to try to “side-track” the workers by
Iteiling thein that this Bill is anameliora- t&ve ‘measure, l^he Bill ‘as it stands does not allow, or ‘even suggest, ‘an inquiry iim’to the methods of cost of production1; it does no’t even pretend to safeguard cases well ‘.as I have mentioned in <connexibn with Broken Hill. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) yesfterday instanced (the ^northern mines, ; and showed that -the Bill ‘does ‘-not propose to trace profits =and ‘their distribution.
Mr.Atkinson. - If you can show that the ‘distribution -of the profits is ithe : sause of an industrial ‘dispute, ‘they : could . be traced under the Bill.
– Nothing of the «©rt.
– Bead the Bill and you will see.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- I Ian read the Bill; but the honorable member, apparently, nvith ‘all his reading ‘of it >can- : nolt . say whether . the ‘definition of ““industrial matters “ is the same as in ‘the previous -Act. The definition is . quite plain, and nowhere are the powers fgiven that >ar.e asked for ‘by. the honorable aoaember Sfior iHnm’ter.
– Bead the last words ‘of the paragraph.
Mr.CONSIDINE. - The honorable member brought -that point up yesterday, (and I pointed ‘out that “ industrial dispiaite “ is <defined in -the preceding para- igraph, and is . distinctly limited ‘to ithe miatters . specified there.
Mr.Atkinson. - Isoofc at paragraph a, clause ff.
Mr.CONSIDINE. - The . honorable member is ‘again in error, becamse “thait provision ‘deals -specifically -with the ‘Commonwea’lth ‘Council, whose . powers “are purely wlvisdry.
This Bill ‘is ‘simply a glorified Wages (Board proposition. There is ‘ndt a single part of the ‘measuTe “which is an ‘advance upon the Wages Board systems in operation in Victoria and New South Wales, and ‘“the principle of ‘arbitration which finds a place in the measure is precisely tyhe policy which has been adopted in the past. The utmost that can be said in favour -of ithe Bill by the afb’itrationist is that ‘by ‘having a multiplicity of Boards the approach to a tribunal is facilitated.
Mr.Hill. - That is ‘worth somelMng.
-It is, for those who tfhink so, “but ‘those “who ‘view the whole question of industrialunrestfrom any stand-point regard it, not as anadvantage, ‘but as a perpetuation -of a fraud. Working -men and women who hold the same views as’ myself - and they are ‘an increasing num’ber in this country, as well as in other countries - : claim that it is not possible to have industrial rest while the present system ‘of society exists, with its ‘Ibwo ‘conflicting, sections constantly warring with -one another. In ifact, “they . claim that it is a system which only serves, to ‘breed unrest. Honorable members point out that these Boards proposed to ‘be created will have independent chairmen, who, ‘as a rule, T suppose, will know absolutely nothing about the particular industries whose conditions the Boards are investigating; hut even if they should he ‘fully ‘acquainted with “the details of these industries, the fact still remains that working men : and women will be db’liged to parade “their poverty before these tribunals and be catechized as to how much food they consume, what clothes they wear, what newspapers “they read, and how much tobacco, and what not they consume. If this ‘is a non-party -measure, why is the same method not applied ‘to -the ‘bosses ?
– Of course the ‘boss can ‘be put in the box.
– You do not put yourself or your relatives into the box to be’ asked whether you can do with less profits and how much it costs you to Tun your domesticaffairs.
– The honorable member must address the ‘Chair.
– Any one can be summoned before a tribunal.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- The whole system of arbitration is not a non-party matter. The modus operandi by which the working classes may approach . a Court -or ‘a Board to ‘get a sufficient ‘wage on -which to exist lays it down that the working men and their “women folk must he prepared to he catechized in the way I have described, but those who ‘lay ‘down ihis meifhod do not think of submitting “the employers to : a similar catechism. No one suggests that Iffr. Delprat should he put into the witness-box and asked to disclose the profits that accrue to him from the Broken Hill mining companies, or how “he spends his money, or ‘whether Mrs. ‘Delprat could -do with a ‘few less dresses or a few less motor, cars. But ali these intimate: questions are put to people- belonging: to the working/ classes. As a matter of fact,, some of the- questions asked before a New South Wales. Wages Board are on the border-line of indecency. Yet honorable members- say that this is not a> class matter! Of course it is a class matter. All this’ legislation emanates from one class, and is designed to protect that class. Such catechism as I have indicated is- only imposed on the “ under-dog.” It is those, who control society to-day who determine how the other- class may approach the Courts and who’ lay down the procedure to be observed in those Courts. I shall never recommend the working classes of this country to degrade themselves in the Arbitration Court or before Wages Boards by allowing themselves to be weighed as so many machines, so that an estimate may be made as to how much coal and oil, as it were, is necessary to keep them, in good condition in order to make them available for further production. Honorable members have talked about varying awards in different parts of the Commonwealth. They say that an award may be made in Tasmania which may differ from an. award made in, Queensland, but on what, basis will these awards, be made? How will the wages in one State differ from those in another? I suppose the difference will be based, on the cost of living. But the working classes of this country will refuse to- allow themselves any longer to- be weighed on the basis- of how much it will cost, to. keep an average family going in good, order and condition, so that the members of it may turn up at work on Monday morning, and continue at. work until midday on- Saturday, with probably a little extra thrown in in order to secure the continuation of the species, and’ insure that the- future employer- will not go short of labour.
– The honorable member has not quite grasped what X was driving at.
– Possibly,, but. the honorable member was arguing’ on the fixing of wages on the basis, of the cost of living, whereas- 1 claim that, the working classes of this country will no longer permit their wages to be fixed on that basis.. They have got beyond the machine- stage.
– I said nothing about the basis, on which wages, should, be fixed.
– The- honorable member wanted different rates in the various States according to the- varying cost of living in the respective States.
– No, I was speaking of conditions generally.
– Possibly, the honorable member was referring to drought conditions that might prevail in one part of. the Commonwealth, and not in another.
– An industry which might, be carried, on in one State at a cost of 10s. might cost considerably more in another State.
– The honorable member must, cease his interjections’. If he has been, misrepresented he has his; opportunity of- setting the matter right by making a personal! explanation.
– The- honorable member was arguing- in favour of the continuation of the existing system of paying people on the basis of a Irving wage. but that wage is not determined by those who have .to live on it.
– I said nothing about a living wage.
– The wage is not determined by those who have to live 6n it, but by a man who is receiving about £2,500 per year, and has not the slightest intention of living under basic wage conditions. When it is a question’ of ‘giving a pension to Sir Samuel Griffith or “some other person, who has occupied a prominent position in this country, no attempt is made to. ask questions on the basis of how little a man can exist on ; no, attempt is made to fix the. pension on the, basis of a living wage. Yet a living wage is considered good enough for the working classes, and personally I consider it is good enough for them so long as they are content, to put up with it. Some honorable members talk a great deal about the agitator. They say that he is a vicious individual who goes about stirring up. industrial unrest, strife, and discord among various sections of the community But how on. earth any person, be he even so fluent or desirous of stirring- up discord!, can stir- up trouble among people who have no grievances. I cannot understand. I agree with Ella Wheeler Wilcox when she wrote -
From the discontent of men the world’s best progress springs;
So feed the flame from God which came, until you mount on wings.
The whole course of human history has proved the truth qf those words. Industrial evolution, in common with social evolution, has shown thatit is from the discontented men the world’s progress has sprung, and we have industrial unrest to-day because of the discontent of the working classes with the existing social system. The process through which society is now going is merely the birth pangs of the new social order. The world is in a process of reconstruction, and the sooner men and women who claim to represent the various shades of thought and different interests in the community recognise that it is useless to tinker about with such trivial matters as Bills of this description and realize that a change is coining, whether they like it or not, the better it will be for the world at large. It rests with the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), and others like him, whether the change is to be brought about by force or not, or whether recognising that it will come they will facilitate its arrival in order to involve the community in as little trouble as possible.
– Then I understand that the honorable member andhis lady friend believe in industrial unrest, and encourage it as much as possible.
– The honorable member knows full well that I am striving to remove the causes of industrial unrest. Because I realize that these causes are inherent in the existing economic system, I am advocating the alteration of that system, and I am advising the workers of this country to take over the means of wealth production and utilize them for thegood of the community at large. I would put the honorable member and his friends on exactly the same level in society as the workers, to produce co-operatively for the good of society as awhole. When society reconstructs itself on the basis of the socialization of industry, then, and then only, will the causes of industrial unrest vanish. Honorable members talk about the third party to industrial disputes, saying that the public as a third party ought to have its interests considered. Who is the third party to a dispute to-day ? If the miners are on strike the parties to the dispute are on the one hand the miners, plus the public, consisting of the rest of the workers in the community, and on the other hand the employers. It is absurd to talk about having a third party to a dispute. There are only two parties in society, the employers and the employed, the exploiters and the exploited, and while these two parties remain in existence social unrest must continue.
.- We are discussing a motion for the second reading of a Bill for securing industrial peace; but the honorable member for the Barrier (Mr. Considine) has made it painfully clear that, no matter what our efforts may be, no matter what provision we may place upon the statute-book, there will not be industrial peace, so far as he is concerned - and I suppose there are many who think with him - until the whole of the economic conditions of the world have been changed, and our present social system is destroyed. If that were so, no legislation, however mature, could hope to be effective, and we should be wasting our time in discussing the Bill. Our experience of the Commonwealth arbitration laws, it seems to me - and there are many thinking people of the same opinion - is that they have not been a success. When arbitration was first proposed in Australia, we were told that it would bring about industrial peace, because it would provide an opportunity for the parties to disputes to come together, and by arbitration avert strikes; but that has not been the result. In the administrationof the Commonwealth arbitration laws many constitutional difficulties have arisen, and the trouble thus caused has been accentuated by the endeavour to bring before the Federal Arbitration Court dispntes which could not be said, except by a great stretch of imagination, to extend beyond the limits of a State. Notwithstanding that there have been arbitration courts in most of the States, created by State legislation, the industrialists have insisted on going to the Federal Arbitration Court, which has been more expensive and more difficult to approach than any of the State courts. When the Labour party was in power in Western Australia, it set up what it declared to be the best Arbitration Court in the world, and it was satisfied that a panacea for industrial troubles had been found. Yet the industrialists of that State, following the example of those of Queensland and other States, have endeavoured to drag their cases before the Federal Arbitration Court. This has made for expense, and has caused a considerable over-lapping of jurisdiction between the Federal, and State Courts.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.’]
– The processes of the Federal Arbitration Court were soon found to be burdensome, and there was considerable delay in obtaining decisions from it. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has told us that in some instances the bringing of cases before the Federal Court has meant that hundreds of employees throughout the Commonwealth have had to be served with summonses, and he cited the Builders’ Labourers case as a glaring example of how far this evil went. I know that when the Wharf Labourers case was before the Court witnesses were brought from every part of Australia, with the result that the costs of one party to the dispute came to over £20,000. Of course, it is the public which in the long run has to pay for this expensive litigation. In my opinion, the Bill will accentuate the constitutional difficulties. It is provided that-
This Act shall be read and construed subject to the Constitution and so as not to exceed the legislative power of the Commonwealth, to the intent that where any enactment thereof would, but for this section, have been construed as being in excess of that power, it shall nevertheless be a valid enactment to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power.
That provision reads like an invitation to disputants to bring cases which might be heard by a State Court before the Federal Court. I do not like the Bill. One feature of it which seems to me bad is the introduction of political influence. For example, the chairmen of the boards are to be appointed by the Governor-General, which means the Government of the day. I have no sympathy with that provision. In my opinion, all the tribunals established for the settlement of industrial disputes should be placed as far as possible outside the political arena.
– Who should make the appointments?
– The Chief Justice, or the President of the Arbitration Court.
– How are they appointed ?
– Their appointment is a different matter. A gentleman holding the position of President of the Arbitration Court must realize that that position is one of great responsibility.
– So is that of a Minister.
– But the first «are of the Minister is to please Parliament and the public. I hope that in Committee the Bill will bc amended in such a way that these appointments shall not be political. Nearly two years ago we were promised an amendment of the arbitration law which, as was then patent to all, had been largely a failure. Arbitration has done some good, but to my mind the Court, as constituted, is largely responsible for the industrial discontent of the day. I am a believer in an Arbitration Court constituted on the lines of the Wages Board system, and I am glad that honorable members opposite are beginning to think with me on that matter.
– Who appoints the chairmen of the Wages Boards?
– I think that the only State in which there are Wages Boards is Victoria. ‘
– There are Wages Boards in Tasmania.
– And in New South Wales. There we have both arbitration and a Wages Board system.
– The Wages Board system, has always appealed to me. I think that the chairmen of such Boards should be appointed by a Court rather than by a Government. Although an Arbitration Act was in force in Western Australia, there was not until some few years ago an appeal to the Court by the miners of Kalgoorlie, because industrial agreements had been made between them and the mine-owners, and had been registered in the Court as industrial agreements between worker and employer.
– Under that system, disputes are settled with one employer, but left unsettled elsewhere.
– The United States Government has at various times sent Commissioners throughout the world to inquire into and report on social economic, and industrial matters. Ten or twelve years ago a Special Commissioner was sent to Great Britain and to. Germany.. His report contained a long account of the industrial conditions prevailing among, the miners of Durham. It was pointed out that,, although there was no law regulating those conditions, a central council had been formed, on which there was an equal number of employers and employees, and that there were similarlyconstituted district councils. A dispute was referred in the first instance to a district council, and matters on which the district council couldnot agree were referred to the central council. If the central council could not agree, its points of difference were referred to a Justice of the High Court of England, who was specially appointed by those connected with the mining industry of Durham, and on every occasion his decision was accepted; so that there had not been a strike or lockout in the industry for over twenty years. I think that the Durham system was the basis ofthe Wages Board system of Victoria.
– We had a Wages Board system here twenty years ago.
– The system I have been describing was being followed fifteen years before. The Prime Minister said the public were not concerned with names but with things, not with shadows but with realities. It is with that fact in view that I wish to speak to-day, for I want to deal with realities. It is my intention to move, later, to the effect that this Bill shall have a life of only twelve months. At the conclusion of that period Parliament should be in a position to review the Act in. order to ascertain how it. has. worked ; and, if it is concluded that the Statute has not proved effective, honorable members should demand an amendment of the Arbitration Act - which, in any case, is absolutely essential. I cannot understand why there has not been a conference between the employersand employees. I believe the Prime Minister has done his best to get the parties to come together.
– I invited them to meet; but, if they will not come together, I cannot help it, or do anything further in that direction.
– At the same time, I feel satisfied that the Prime Minister has had proposals from both parties.
– I have not.
– I have been given to understand so, at any rate. And I am convinced that the Prime Minister has had proposals from the Employers Federation for the amendment of the Act.
– Oh, yes !
– That is very interesting.
– The honorable member for Dampier referred to proposals from both parties. I have not had proposals from both sides.
– Surely it is rights and urgently right, that some means shall be adopted in order to secure, if possible, a measure of industrial peace.
– This is, the measure.
– The Federal Arbitration Act, has built up industrial unrest.
– Nonsense ! All that is in the Bill has been taken from the Arbitration Act itself.
– I would remind honorable members that after the Scottish Commissioners had visited Australia they reported that they had never seen, in any country of the world, such animosity displayed between employers and employees, as in Australia.
– If the Scottish people were first to put the Clyde in order they would be better qualified to speak.
– That may be so.. I merely remind honorable members of the criticism. I am pleased that so many honorable members, including the Prime Minister himself, who foryears have been voicing their belief in the Arbitration Court, are now coming round to a belief in the method of round-table conferences - in other words, the Wages Boards system. That is what the Prime Minister now believes in; but it is not what he advocated some years ago.
– The Arbitration Act was brought in by a. Liberal Government, when I was on the Opposition side of the House.
– The fact remains that the great majority of those who formerly supported the Arbitration Court have now swung round to favour the Wages Boards system.
– Will not the honorable member admit that the only failure of the Arbitration Court has been in regard to its congestion ?
– Not a bit of it ! I have to make a far more drastic criticism, namely, ‘that after an organization ‘has secured . an award it can ‘turn round - if that award does not suit it - rand tell the Court” Go, . hang ! “I . maintain that if one section -of the community is to render itself . liable for . disobedience of an award lof the Arbitration . Court, the other isection -should ibe treated similarly. . As . matters stand, however, the wliole /position is -monstrous.
– How is the honorable gentleman going to do all this . that he . is advocating ? If . the miners . come out on strike, what would he propose to do with them?
Mr.GREGORY. - If any . organization, no . -matter swhether it -represents emjployeror employee, has been , given the fright . to go before the Arbitration Court to secure an award, it should be made compulsory for that body to abide iby . the decision . of the ‘Court.
– But suppose that the organization refuses ito do so.
– Why . should an obligation be placed upon one . side only,?
-There is no more . compulsion placed upon ione side than upon the other.
Mr.GREGORY. - That is absurd and incorrect, and the actual position is grossly ‘unfair.
– Have not unions Ibeen frequently penalized iby way of heavy fines for disobeying awards of the Court-?
Mr.GREGORY.- The honorable member knows just how much notice is taken ‘of an ‘award if a union is dissatisfied with it. It is preposterous for honoratfbTe –members opposite to imagine ‘tha’t they are the sole representatives of labour, and . that honorable members on this side do not represent labour at all. “We attend the National Parliament with -a keen desire” to try ‘to improve the conditions of the workers. If we give to any body the right to secure benefit under the Arbitration Act, we should also provide, and insist on, obligations.
– Well, there are certain o’bligations to-day; and, so far as the law can ‘enforce them, we -shall see that those obligations are honoured. ‘We cannot go beyond that. We -cannot kill any one who ‘refuses to obey an award.
– The fact remains that, if -a section of -the community is ‘dissatisfied with its conditions of la’bour it can appeal, first, to . a iState Arbitration ‘.Court; if it is not : ccmtent with the ‘award of that Court, it can state a case before the Federal Arhitration Court; then, if the union as still dissatisfied, it can go before a ‘Special tribunal. The trouble is that, . even then, the body . concerned -need not comply . with the award of the tribunal. And, moreover, there are no penalties provided for disobedience.
Mr.Hughes. - That is not an accurate presentation of the position, but J would remind . the honorable member that this Bill does not provide . anything “such as -he suggests.
Mr.GREGORY.- Let ‘us take, as an -example, -.the case of a certain . union which . has the right to go before a State Arbitration Court. It ‘does so, font is diissatisfied wilh the award. What is . there to prevent -that . body from going -before the Federal Court?
Mr.Hughes. - Such a situation exists to-day.
– The Prime Minister has referred to the builders’ labourers. The organization controlling those -employees has now arranged to appeal to the Federal Arbitration ‘-Court. When the Constitution was framed, it was never considered that cases of that ikind would come before the Federal Court. It was only in regard to . shipping, /and to ‘Other matters absolutely Inter-State in their incidence, that the Federal Court -was expected to he . made available. Such an organization as the builders’ labourers was never -dreamed ‘of ; as having right of access. What is urgently required is an amendment ‘of the Federal Arbitration Act ; “and that is what the Prime Minister promised. T : know, of course, that he has had an arduous “time.
-The honorable member’s reference to my promise is quite in1 accordance with fact. The Bill will be introduced as soon as an opportunity is afforded.
Mr.Riley. - Meanwhile, what does the honorable member suggest?
– That we get right down to bedrock. Let us try to convene a conference between representatives of organized labour and of the employers’ organizations. Let us see if it is not possible to get down to the groundwork of some measure which will prove satisfactory to all parties. Of course, it is not to be expected that these representatives, coming together around a table, will be able to agree on all points. I am justified in saying that every honorable member opposite, when assisting to place legislation upon the statute-book, does so with a view to being strictly fair to every section of the community.
– Suppose that the honorable member calls his conference, and that the delegates do not agree.
– Then, at any rate, something will have been secured. The conference will have deliberated ; its members will have stated their views. Then, it should be for members of this Parliament to come together as arbitrators and place something on the statute-book, as an outcome of those deliberations, which will prove of some service, at any rate, in the direction of industrial peace.
– The honorable member, really, is strongly in favour of this Bill.
– Nothing of the kind. I intend to vote against it.
– But the honorable member is advocating what this Bill proposes to do.
– That is not so. I have studied the measure carefully, and I feel dubious of its outcome. I do not see how it is going to help. It may possibly enable certain present difficulties to be overcome, but I have no sympathy with methods recently adopted by the Government in connexion with industrial disputes, and I do not like legislation being brought forward which does not attempt to redress an admittedly bad Act. I do not think it behoves the Government to interfere except by way of taking legislative action, in any industrial matter. I object to the Government appointing boards and tribunals to deal with industrial troubles as they arise. It should not be forgotten that everything done in this direction creates a precedent; and goodness knows what the result of these precedents may be under another Administration .
– The honorable member must admit that the Arbitration Act has been a failure.
– I certainly do ! An examination of figures furnished by Mr.
Knibbs reveals ah alarming growth of industrial trouble during the past few years. Honorable members should not forget that the enormous losses in wages do not begin and end with the wage-earners, but are harmfully reflected upon the whole community. It is time that a very special effort was made to put an end to the presci t state of affairs.
– It was in 1915 that .1 brought this same matter before some of my colleagues. We discussed it, and it was considered quite a good idea. I discussed it, moreover, with some of the unions at that time. I say that the scheme set forth in the Bill is the best I know of. The honorable member says there is some better scheme. Will he let the House know what it is? Then we can proceed to knock the inside out of this Bill and graft his scheme into it.
– That sounds ail very well.
– The honorable member knows full well that there is now a possibility of a coal strike. The miners have said that they Will not go before the Federal Arbitration Court. The honorable member cannot make them go there. The miners will not attorn to any tribunal unless it be a special kind of tribunal. I want to prevent a strike.
– On the other hand, there have been several disquieting instances of interference by the Government. These things have been patent to the Prime Minister for the last two years; and the action he took on those occasions has accentuated industrial unrest. What we have to consider is whether it is wise to try to bolster up the Arbitration Act in this way, or whether it would not be better to bring forward an amending measure giving the Court different powers and a wider scope. I favour a review of the Arbitration Act; I know that it has been a failure. No matter who is appointed President it will be impossible for him to grasp the conditions obtaining in industries throughout the Commonwealth. A Judge sitting on the Bench knows nothing about an industry, and has to base his award on the evidence submitted to him. Each side has special paid organizers collecting the evidence for -two or three years in advance of the hearing of a claim, and each case costs the country an i enormous amount of money, because the costs -of each, hearing are passed on to the people. As the Judge has to rely entirely upon the evidence he hears, those “who swear the hardest and strongest get the best deal.
– Yet the honorable member suggests that we should continue such a system.
– No; I suggest an. amendment of the Arbitration Act
– How will that alter the system?
– My proposal is that Wages Boards shall be created within the Arbitration Act.
– This Bill practically provides for Wages Boards.
– The honorable member is speaking on behalf of the Country party.
– I am speaking on behalf of myself. If the honorable member could do the same I would have a great deal more respect for him; but I know that he is not permitted to do so. My desire is that the Arbitration Act itself shall be brought before Parliament and amended, placing full and complete obligations on every party who appeals to it.
.- There is no immediate hurry for ‘this Bill. Had the proper course been pursued the Government would have given the industrialists an opportunity to thoroughly study the Bill and suggest the amendments which they think desirable. As that has nott been done, we must make the best we can of the measure. No Bill can be framed that will assure- industrial peace. Various attempts to do so have failed. The Federal Arbitration Court has given justice in many cases, but it has never created that industrial peace for which the community longs. The State Wages Boards have similarly failed. No legislation that does not assure to the workers the full result of their labour will produce industrial peace. Only when the workers are given that reward shall we have continuity of employment, industrial peace, and, perhaps, a better state of society. One of the first steps to be taken is an investigation of the causes of industrial unrest, in order to discover the defects of the present economic system. Give the worker sufficient food and clothing and good environment and there will be no industrial strife.
– Is he to have no amusements?
– Yes; he is entitled to amusement and to a share in the luxuries of life. The worker asks for nothing to which he is not entitled; give him what is his due and there will be no industrial dislocation or cessation of production. If he and his family are denied sufficient food and clothing and necessary comforts industrial unrest will continue.” This Bill will in no way assist to remove that trouble.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– That the worker be given the full product of his labour.
– Who is to be the judge of that?
– The worker himself. The man who produces an article should be entitled to, if not the whole, at least a fair proportion of it. This Bill does not assure the worker a fair proportion of the result of his labour; it assures him nothing. It leaves him in practically the same position as he is in under the Arbitration Act and Wages Board system. The one improvement that this Bill proposes to make is that the cases, may be heard more speedily than at present. That is certainly some advantage. I am not condemning the Bill entirely, but I wish to point out the weaknesses in ,it. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) said that the provisions of this Bill would be no menace to organized labour. The measure does attack organized labour, because it gives the same privileges to the non-unionist as to the unionist. That is clear from the definition clause, which speaks of persons “being or not being members of any organization, association, or body.” The Bill gives the same privileges to the man who is commonly known as a “scab” as to the man who is continually contributing to the upkeep of an industrial organization.
– Has the non-unionist no rights?
– He has no right to the protection of any Government or individual.
– That is very interesting to hear.
Mr.NICHOLLS.-It may be, but it is also very logical. Wo provision : at sail should be made for the “scab.” Xf a man is too miserable to contribute to the upkeep of ‘an organization, let him go away ito ; a . country where iunionism idoes not -exist. There -are men who have ; a gneat idislike for labour organizations, and who think they can get a better ideal from the employer by ‘not joining any union. The Government haiwe no right to ‘make any provision for . such a man. Unionism (has ‘received legislative recognition. The Prime Minister realizes that it has come to stay, and that it is . a legitimate ‘organization that should be fostered. Holding ithose views, he icannot at the same time logically -make provision for the non-unionist and (encourage bogus organizations. ‘But ‘.the Bill . gives the “ scab “ and the bogus organizations everything they desire. That is one of my objections tto it.
The proposed special tribunals are to Ibe igiwen power to pa?o’be rktto the domestic -conditions of the worker; they are to have ‘the Tight to ‘inquire as to the weekly amount ‘of money that a man requires to keep himself, his wife, and family. But there is no pretence of giving the tribunals power ‘to inquire into the profits made ‘by she ‘employers.
-The -employers’ profits can be arrived ‘at . through the income-tax returns.
– Even r£he employer does not attempt -to dispute that his profits ure high ; but, if the Bill permits inquiry into the workers’ conditions of living, the same inquiry should extend to the men who ‘are making the profits. The Tate -of pay that a man receives Should in ‘very many cases be ‘based on -the ‘amount of profit made out. of the particular industry in which he is employed. Besides the coal industry, there ‘are thousands of others in ‘this country from which enormous profits are ‘derived, -and ‘the conductors of which at the same time are “trying to -obtain employees for the lowest possible wages, on the [ground that they are receiving . sufficient to supply them with the necessary comforts . of life. . The clause referring to ‘the special . tribunal is as follows.: -
A special tribunal shall have power to hear and . determine any industrial dispute of which it has cognizance; and for that purpose shall have (in addition to any other powers con ferred , on it under 4his Act) ‘all powers -which by . the Commonwealth . Conciliation . and . Arbitration Act 1904-1918 are expressed to ‘be given -to tine Court or the President as regards -a-n industrial tdispute of . which ithe Court )has cognizance ; . and -any . act %or . omission on ithe . part of any , person which would, if the hearing or inquiry were the ‘hearing of -an industrial dispute before the iCourt, . be an loffence : against !tbe Commonwealth Conciliation and . Arbitration Act 1904-1918, shall be an offence against this Ajt.
This means ‘that the special tribunal may deal severely with ‘an employee, while inflicting no penalty whatever on the ‘employer, irrespective of ‘whether ‘-the ‘latter may have . committed the gravest possible offence.
– Have you read . clause 7?
– There . is -nothing in that . clause to suggest that ithe fullest investigation would be made in connexion with the workdng of . any industry. . If we are to . have . industrial peace, <and ‘the worker is , to get what he is entitled . to, the tribunal must be given power . to make the istrictest investigations into working conditions; to see exactly what profits are made, and to . give the employee . the reward to which he is entitled for his labour. I submit that in ninety-nine cases out o’f a hundred the employee, and not the employer, is the victim., but the employee has always ‘had to pay the penalty, while the employer has been let off “scot free.” ‘This state of affairs has -certainly made for the. benefit <of the employer, -who could well ‘afford %o . pay £50 or £100 in case <of a breach of ‘any regulations, whereas the employee, in the vast majority of cases, could ‘not afford “to meet : a penalty which toi him was ten times heavier than any . that . could be imposed on . the ^employer. The result ‘of this has . been that the employee has invariably had . to go to gaol. In . -nine cases out . of ten the employee has . not been . the creator . of . the dispute; but the employer . has imposed such . conditions . as to make it . impossible ‘for the employee ito carry . out his obligations, and left him no other course than to strike and pay the penalty. Some honorable members opposite throw the whole onus of strikes on the employee, never once mentioning that lockouts and strikes have been created at the direct instigation of the employer.
We should remember that ‘before any of the proposed tribunals can deal with a dispute it must ‘be an Inter-State dispute, and there, are scores: of industries in New South Wales, for instance, which will escape- the* operation of the> Bill.
– Does it occur to you that, amendments may be made in Committee ?
– Yes; but while, it has been stated that this is not a party measure,, I. venture to say we shall find honorable members opposite voting against any amendment proposed by the Opposition. I am particularly pleased that it is sought to make this a non-party question, because if ever there was a time in history when useful industrial legislation was necessary it is to-day, and the only effective way to afford some relief is to keep the whole matter free from party influence. Otherwise, it will simply mean that whatever the Government desire to provide in t the Bill will be inserted, whereas if we are- free to vote according to our conscience, there is a possibility of doing some good. At the same time, no matter- what legislation we introduce, there can be no guarantee of industrial peace in the present state- of society. If we could limit profits we would have a better chance of improving- matters, bus if we allow the employer to exploit his employees as in the past, there is no hope of improvement.
– The employee of to-day is the employer of to-morrow.
– There’ are very few employees of to-day who- can become the employers of to-morrow, owing to present conditions and the lack of opportunity.
– Are there any employers to-d’ay who were not employees a little while ago? .
– There are employers to-day who have been employees in the past, but the conditions have now totally changed. In -the past a man could live comfortably on £2 5s. a week, whereas he cannot do so now on £5 5s. or £6.
Mir. Bell. - He must have- very extravagant tastes!
– There is nothing extravagant about the figures, and if ever the honorable member himself has to face the ordeal of keeping a wife and three children on £4 a week under present conditions I sympathize with him.
As to the appointment of the chairmen of the proposed bodies, while I have no desire to- cast any reflection on the Go vernor-General, we cannot fail to see that those appointed will- be men whose ideas are identical with those of the Government of the: day. If a chairman should be appointed whose sympathies’ were with the worker,, and who gave him a. better deal than the Government approved, his tenure of office,. I predict, would not be a long one; These appointments ought not to be. made by the- Governor-General, and in any case they should be filled by men with a thorough knowledge of the working conditions,, and otherwise practically acquainted with, the industry. I have a strong objection to any man being appointed to adjudicate unless he possesses those very necessary qualifications. Judges have, been appointed to Arbitration Courts who were ignorant of the actual conditions of the workers, with the result in many cases that they have, confined themselves to an investigation, as to the least amount the worker could possibly live; on,, and have decided accordingly. I sincerely hope that if amend- ments are moved from this side of the House in the direction of assisting, the workers, they will receive the wholehearted support of the Government and their supporters.
.- I am in favour of taking every opportunity for improving- the machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes, but in the past the Government have not shown any special, desire to amend the Arbitration Act in order- to give facilities to the unions to approach the Arbitration Court. If Ministers were really sincere in their endeavour to break down the existing prejudice against that tribunal, they had ample opportunity of displaying their- sincerity by amending the Act. Almost all the provisions of the Bill before us to-day are to be found in the existing Conciliation and Arbitra. tion Act. The- measure certainly provides a few moire tribunals for the settle^ ment of disputes which should relieve the congestion at the Arbitration Court, but their powers are so limited that it is questionable whether they will succeed in giving us industrial peace. To, secure industrial peace we must have tribunals in which the whole of the workers- will have confidence. I believe that a. great reform would be effected by amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in order that two laymen might be appointed to assist the President of the Court, one representing the employers and the other the employees. Furthermore, the elimination of lawyers from the Court would effect a great improvement. The appointment of practical men to assist the President would shorten the time occupied in hearing disputes very considerably, because technical matters would not require to be fully explained.
– The Judge would still require to hear all the evidence, although there were two assessors sitting with him with a practical knowledge of the points at issue.
– Yes, but apart from the hearing of evidence the assessors could give great assistance to the President in matters of detail. If all the parties to industrial disputes leave the Arbitration Court, and take their cases to the proposed Commonwealth Council, it will lead to just as much congestion as ever. In my opinion the .best course to adopt is to amend the Arbitration Act, and appoint two laymen to assist the Judge in the way I have suggested. In the early days of arbitration in New South Wales laymen assisted the President of the Arbitration Court, and in the first three years that Court did splendid work. The only trouble was that most of the employers doubted its jurisdiction, and so riddled it with Full Court decisions that it was rendered practically useless. However, it was able to do good work in making awards, because it was clothed with the power to call upon the employers who were parties to disputes to produce their books and disclose the capital invested in their businesses, and the profits they were making. Naturally the employers objected to a Court which sought to inquire into their profits and losses, and set themselves up against such methods of conducting inquiries, with the result I have already mentioned. However, unless the tribunals proposed to be created by this Bill are clothed with the power to inquire into the profits of any industry, and distribute a large portion of the wealth made by it among the employees engaged in it, there will be discontent among the workers. Evidence of this nature may be taken in camera, as was done in New South Wales.
I was a member of the New South Wales Arbitration Court, and I know that, although we exercised to the fullest our power to inquire into an industry’s profits, we carried out our solemn obligation not to disclose to the public outside the position of any firm.
– What is the position of an industry that is making no profits?
– If it can be shown to the tribunal that an industry is not being carried on at a profit, and that it cannot, possibly pay a living wage, it is better that it should not be in existence.
– Then, what would be the position of the mining industry?
– The honorable member knows the definition of a mine, that it is “ a hole in the ground surrounded by liars”; but we cannot ask the men engaged in a mine that is not paying to work for nothing. If an industry cannot pay a living wage we should not endeavour to keep it in existence, because the mcn engaged in it could be better employed in more profitable operations. The Labour party welcome any machinery providing for the settlement of industrial disputes. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has said, we stand for arbitration, and we are anxious to help the Government to pass legislation that will bring about the settlement of industrial disputes by that means. However, at the same time we ask the Government to pay some regard to what we say, and to any amendments we may put forward. We would like to have the words “ and profits “ inserted in the definition of “industrial matter,” thus enabling a Board to secure complete information as to the profits made by an industry. No man .will mind what a Board may learn about his profits so long as it is prepared to give him a just return upon his capital, while seeing, at the same time, that every person engaged in the industry gets a fair return for his labour.
– Does the honorable member’ believe that the amount of profit made affects the industrial peace in any industry?
– Then that is provided for in clause 7, sub-clause a. If the profits earned in an industry affect the peace of that industry, a Board can have cognisance of them.
– The provision in the Bill is already contained in our Conciliation and Anbitration Act, and the Arbitration Court has laid it down that it has not the power to investigate the profits of an industry. It is in order to make sure that a Board would have this power that I suggest the insertion of these words in this particular definition. There are other anomalies’ in the Bill which will require attention. Any one without experience of brickmaking could easily inquire into the cost of making bricks. There is not much labour required in brickmaking; it is merely a question of raising the clay, and that is mostly done by machinery. The number of bricks that can be turned* out each day can be easily estimated, and under the new process known as the Hoffman kiln, the burning does not require much skilled labour. But the point I wish to make is that any tribunal inquiring into the brickmaking industry with a view to fixing the wages of the employees should also have the power to fix the selling price of bricks.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we have the constitutional power to do so?
– I believe so. “We have the power to settle the conditions of labour, and they cannot be settled satisfactorily unless we are able to fix the selling price of commodities. A tribunal may fix the wages of employees in the brickmaking industry on the present selling price of bricks, but when an award is given, up goes the price of the bricks, and the public begins to complain about the high cost. The New South Wales Arbitration Court gave an award in the cement-making industry. It examined the pay-sheet of every man engaged in the industry, and knew exactly the cost of producing each bag of cement. In making its award it estimated that the extra cost of labour would amount to about 3d. per bag. But ithe employers immediately advertised that the price of their cement would toe increased by 9d. per hag because of the increased wages they had been called upon to pay. The Court, having based its award on the profits made in the industry, knew well that they would permit of an increase of wages being paid equal to about 3d. per bag of cement, but it had no control over the selling price of the commodity. This is a power the Court ought to have in order to protect the public from profiteering. A Court can ascertain quite accurately the average number of pairs of boots each person engaged in the bootmaking industry can turn out per day, and can also inquire into the cost of material and supervision, and make allowance for a fair amount of interest on capital invested, but it should also be empowered to fix the price of boots to the consumers. Thus, the interests of the consumers as well as those of the workers will be safeguarded. I think that the parties should be given the right to nominate the chairman of a Board. Of course, if they cannot agree among themselves, the Government should step in and make the appointment. I strongly urge the Government to consider the advisability of amending the Arbitration Act, and not let it get into the minds of the employees that this Bill has been brought down with a view to undermining that Act and getting rid of the President of the Arbitration Court.
– The Prime Minister has already announced the intention of the Government to amend the Act by inserting in it all the provisions which the President of the Arbitration Court has asked for from time to time.
– The longer such an amending Bill is delayed the worse the position will be. It would be better to have such an amending Bill considered concurrently with this Bill.
– The next notice of motion is for leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Arbitration Act.
– I hope that the Government will push on with that measure. There is a feeling outside that the purpose of this Bill is to do away with the Arbitration Act. Some persons say that the object of the Government is to get rid of Mr. Justice Higgins. I have no particular axe to grind for that gentleman, or for any one else; I believe that he has done good work, and he has won the confidence of the employees up to a certain point. But in some instances he has failed to grasp the real issue. For example, the engineers applied to him for an increase, which he declined to grant, although there was ample justification for it in the high cost of living. The result was a strike which tied up all our shipping. Had he had a layman to assist him, that strike would not, I think, have taken place. I hope that in future we shall have laymen as members of the Court whose powers will be, equal with that of the Judge. The members of the Commonwealth Council should hold permanent appointments, and should receive salaries which would put them above the temptation to accept bribes, and beyond suspicion. I have known men connected with important tribunals who have been thought weak, and have been under the suspicion of leaning to those who have done them some favour.
– What salary would the honorable member suggest?
– Not less than £1,000 a year.
– We could have two. or three more Judges for the money which that would represent.
– If we can prevent strikes, the communitv will be glad to pay that money.
– A week’s strike, in an important industry would cost ten times as much.
– The members of this Council will be continually employed in considering industrial matters. No sooner has judgment been given in one case than another set of disputants will come forward, perhaps the seamen, or the bakers. Each dispute means a new inquiry into the conditions of a fresh industry, and much labour and. attention is needed to master the facts presented.
– A man has to become an authority on very many subjects.
– Yes. As experts the members of the Council should be well paid.
– Would there not be a tribunal for each trade?
– I am speaking of the Commonwealth Council.
– That is an advisory Board; it will not have the power of final determination..
– I think that whatever it advises will become the policy of an industry. I hope that in Committee we shall have the assistance of Ministers and their supporters, so that the Bill may be amended in such a way that the people of the country will have confidence in it.
.As the Bill is called the Industrial Peace Bill it is to be supposed that its object is the. securing of industrial peace-; but I have the feeling that it will prove a failure. The manner, in which it. has been brought forward, and the attempt to for.ce it through this Chamber, do not guarantee to the people the securing of the object aimed at, and the industrial organizations which have not been given time to consider its provisions, must view it with suspicion. No doubt, we all desire industrial peace and the smooth working of the affairs of the country. No. one but a crank wishes the dislocation of industry through the fighting of sections of industrial employers and employees-. But the Bill attacks only one side of the problem. The Prime Minister admitted in his opening speech that industrial unrest seems to be inherent in the present system. It behoves us,, therefore, to radically alter what has been done in the past. The Arbitration Court has done good work ; but the congestion of business there, and the difficulty of getting before the Court, have perhaps more than anything else been responsible for industrial unrest. If in the Billbonâ fide trade unions and organizations are not recognised and given preference, the desire must be to divide the industrial workers into sections, and to strike at the root of trade unionism, in which case the measure is doomed to failure. It is common knowledge that a large section of the coal-miners of New South Wales have declared that they will not have the Bill. Their reason for saying that is that it makes provision for ascertaining only whether men are being paid sufficient to live on.. My experience is that industrial inquiries resolve themselves into an inquiry whether the wage that is being paid will suffice for the bare existence of the individual, and keep him in sufficiently good condition to continue at work, without getting ahead in the world. Tribunals that will make only such inquiries are useless to the coal-miners. The Prime Minister has spoken of the threat of grave industrial trouble in the coal-mining industry. I do not know what the Government would do if the Bill became law and the miners did not recognise its provisions. They have said that unless a tribunal is appointed to inquire into the profits made by the coal-owners they will have nothing to do with any inquiry. Why? The miners’ pay depends largely upon the selling price -of coal. We -know that the [price of ‘coal is going up. The miners claim that the industry can well afford, out -of the profits being made from the sale -of >coal, ‘to ‘give -them increased wages, “without calling upon coal consumers to meet the increase. If we cannot -get beyond the ‘point of ‘merely stating what wages employees ‘shall receive; if we -cannot go further in the direction of preventing -the passing on of increases in wages, and so piling sup the cost of living., “then all our efforts will have been in -vain. Industrial peace will never be achieved.. Dlt is of mo use ito say to the men, “ Sou .shall have such:andsuch wages.”’’ Under the system to-day., profiteering ‘companies ‘:can charge the public -whatever they like for commodities. So .long ms the ‘system exists the means of life -cannot be measured by monetary payments. A wage’ ‘-that is sufficient to-day will not be enough ‘tomorrow. The “Bill under discussion can only bring about -a, -further inquiry into existing conditions, and possibly award increased wages to ‘an industry ‘here and there. But the effect ‘will be merely to aggravate the position ‘by further -sending up prices of necessary ‘commodities, so making the cost of living higher than ever. While -I -hold strong views regarding the necessity .”for bringing about radical .changes to-.day,, still, .1 will welcome any course of taction tending to .ease the threatening industrial -position. ‘The Government have indicated this much, namely,, that they will be prepared to consider modifications of the ‘Bill. Some degree .of .satisfaction, therefore, may be gained ib v the passage of -this .-measure; but, really, .all it ,can (do will -be to aggravate the .general (situation. .It is of no use to say that the Arbitration Court /has failed -.because industrial unrest ‘has (continued. The Arbitration (Court has failed -for *he season that its .powers have been so limited. It ‘has been -im- ^ possible to .secure a hearing f or the many urgent teases requiring attention. The only way in which to get before the Court with anything like speed is to threaten to ‘strike. By ‘so doing, an industry can force itself upon -the -attention of the -Judge in preference to others which ;are taking “their legitimate turn. It is of no .use to set up a ‘tribunal merely to deal –with the question of -wages. I ‘do -not ‘believe that industrial unrest has to ;do with wages aft all. What is -re quired is to create machinery for the reduction -of mhA cost ‘of living, and to make the ruling wage -sufficient to meet the cost. In that case wages might remain where they stand at present. N’o good purpose would “be served by making them hig’her. The reason why this ‘Bill must prove -a failure is that the great problem is how -to attack the cost of living, -and, at the same time, to leave wages where they are. There “is no need for further increases. The .great need is to bring back prices of necessary commodities to to-day’s wage standard.
..- The opinion frequently expressed in .this Chamber, and as -often .heard outside,, is that ,the problem of settling industrial disputes is one of the greatest confronting Australia to-day. The problem is certainly being faced by the ‘Government.; and ‘this Bill, although it -.may not provide a .satisfactory isolation, and is not expected by the Prime Minister to >do so* still .-represents ian honest endeavour in that -direction. If we are to make this measure everything -that .the wisdom soS the ‘Chamber van -make it, there must be good-will and co-operation by rail -panties. 1 regretted to note the .atmosphere which was -created when the Prime Minister moved, ion Wednesday, that the Bill should lb -regarded .as an urgent measure. I <do -not propose to .say who was ito blame for the .creation of that hostile atmosphere, or whether .any one was to blame ; but I regret .that .a icer-ta-in amount of annoyance should iba-ve been -displayed by the Opposition, and that it should have .regarded ‘the action -of the Prime Minister ‘as an -endeavour to place .unnecessary restriction -upon (debate. However, I .do mot, even .at this stage, regard it as beyond .reasonable .’hope that the help .of .all honorable members -will be -given -to the -perfecting and eventual passing of the Bill. I listened to the speech :of the -honorable member :Tor.Hunter ;(Mir. ‘Charlton) with considerable ‘interest., ;and I appreciated both the matter and the .manner of its presentation. The help -which the honorable member has given, land proposes to (give, should be -of distinct benefit. I also listened with .appreciation to the -remarks of the honorable member for South -‘Sydney (Mr. Riley). .Although I cannot agree with some crf his ^utterances, the ‘tone of ‘the honorable member’s speech was such as to arouse hope that the measure will be considered in a spirit of conciliation.
It has been stated that the object of the Bill is to abolish the Arbitration Court. I do not think that is its object. Had the Government desired to abolish that Court it could have gone about its purpose in more direct fashion. Personally, though, I do not see how it will be possible for the two sets of tribunals to continue in operation side by side. I would have preferred that the Government should have first, introduced the Bill to amend the Arbitration Act. Had it been my task to introduce a measure aimed at the securing of industrial peace, I would have endeavoured, first, to call a conference of employers and employees to discuss the whole situation and suggest remedies. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has assured the House that he invited such a conference. Unfortunately, however, he has not had the benefit of. recommendations from such a gathering. During the recent election campaign, I said, when discussing the problem of industrial unrest, that representatives of labour and capital should be brought together. I held the view that they were bound to agree, along broad lines, upon some form of legislation in order to solve the great problem. And, if there were such agreement, it would be reasonable to expect that both sides would abide by the decisions of whatever tribunal might be created. Unless there is hearty good-will and co-operation outside, no industrial legislation can be expected to prove successful. I was disappointed by the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor). He did not offer any useful criticism, .or suggest any amendment of the Bill, in order to make it more perfect. The honorable member, however, has since given indications in that direction.
– Do not suggestions usually come in the shape of amendments in Committee?
– I hope such suggestions will be made in Committee. The main point of the criticism offered by the Leader of the Opposition seemed to be that bogus organizations would be represented on the special tribunals. The same fear was expressed by other honorable members. I do not know what is meant by a bogus organization. One honorable member of the Opposition said emphatically that non-unionists were not entitled to any consideration. I am afraid that is the rock upon which we split. I claim to have as much sympathy as any honorable member with the working man, and I represent thousands of genuine workers. If they had not voted for me I would not be a member of this House. But while I do not deny that unionism should be encouraged, and that it has done a lot for the working man, I will not go so far as to say that if a man does not belong to a union he is not entitled to consideration by the Legislature.
The method of appointing the chairmen of the tribunals is another point in regard to which objection was raised by critics of the Bill. I agree with the suggestion made by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley). It appears to me logical that the representatives of employers and employees’ should, if they are able to agree, appoint their own chairman. I can quite understand that a chairman appointed by any Government would be viewed with suspicion by one side or the other. If it is not possible for the members of the tribunal to agree as to a chairman, it would be better to leave the appointment to be made by a Judge of the Arbitration Court or some other independent person outside the Government.
The Bill provides for the appointment of a Commonwealth Council, district councils, and special tribunals. I assume that these will not be permanent bodies, to the members of which fixed salaries will be paid. My idea is that the tribunals should be appointed to deal with any particular dispute, and immediately a settlement has been arrived at the tribunal should be disbanded. I see no necessity for the creation of permanent bodies. Neither does it appear to me to be necessary that, in addition to existing “Wages Boards and the’ Arbitration Court, there should be the three bodies proposed to be created by the Bill. One body on which employers and employees are equally represented should be sufficient to deal with any dispute. If this legislation is to be a success there must be a cooperation between employer and employee, and I understand that to be the desire of honorable members on both sides of the House. The necessity for such cooperation is recognised, particularly by the representatives of organized labour in the House. Of course I except the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), who has advanced ideas as to the best method of remedying industrial unrest. I totally disagree with his views, and’ I do not think he represents the opinion of organized labour.
An imporant question is how the tribunals are to arrive at what is a fair wage. Unquestionably the worker is entitled to a full reward for his labour. Some honorable members claim that he is entitled to all that he produces, and that, indeed, the miner should own’ the mine. If that policy were adopted a certain section of labour in the community, the workers in a profitable mine, would enjoy great prosperity provided they would work; but I am afraid that hundreds of unprofitable mines would not be worked at all, many men would be thrown out of employment, and there would be an end to prospecting and development. If a fair wage is to be based on the profit earn’ed in an industry we shall have in the one industry, and in the one district, different sets of wages. Obviously one mine may return a handsome profit whilst another mine in the same State may return no more than a living wage. It would be difficult indeed to arrive at a fair wage on that basis.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– Just before the dinner adjournment I was saying that it is difficult to understand how we are to adjust wages on the basis of the profits derived from each and every industry. I agree that the basis of the wage might be profits derived from any particular industry, such as mining, but it is obvious that, if we fix all wages on the basis of profits, we must have -different rates of wages in different industries. I can think of nothing more likely to bring about dissatisfaction or instability than different rates of wages in different industries in one State, or in one locality. It has been said that the workman is entitled to the full reward of his labour, but if we fix the wage on profits and on the cost of production in any primary industry, the price of many commodities must be increased, and the cost of living soar higher and higher. If wages are on this basis it is inevitable that we must give the men in every industry the same chance. Not without ‘a great deal of knowledge of the primary industries I contend that, if the men who work in the dairying industry or on the farm were to get anything like the wage of £5 or £6 per week mentioned by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls), butter would be 4s. per lb. every day of the year, and wheat would be much more than 7s. 8d. per bushel.
I sincerely hope that we shall have the honest co-operation of those who represent organized labour in framing this Bill, and amending it where necessary, so that it may be acceptable to both employer and employee. It has been said that no legislation will bring about permanent industrial peace, and on that, I think, we are all agreed. It is not expected, I take it, that this Bill will bring about the millennium in the industrial sphere, any more £han we can have universal peace through the agency of the League of Nations; while human nature remains what it is, there will be industrial disputes, and, I fear, wars, small or great, so long as this world lasts. This, however, .is no reason why we should not frame legislation and devise machinery in an honest attempt to repair the shortcomings in our existing industrial conditions. The idea of the Bill is to. attain that end; and with the co-operation of those who are honestly desirous of giving the workman what is his due - giving a fair deal to both employer and employed by bringing the two together - we can expect to some extent to gain the end in view. I assure honorable members opposite that any amendment introduced, no matter by whom, which appears to me to be for the betterment of the measure, will have my support.
As to the time allotted for the discussion of the Bill, a fortnight, as we know that period in parliamentary work, should be sufficient; but if, at the end of that time, it is found that there is still a desire to discuss certain amendments, and there is no evidence of a desire to obstruct-
– You will admit that there has been no evidence of obstruction so far?
– Up to now there has been no evidence of a desire to obstruct; but if it is found at the end of the time allotted that there are amendments which need discussion, I, at any rate, will give my support to any proposal for its extension. I hope this B.ill will prove acceptable to the industrial world outside, and that all parties will co-operate in bringing about industrial peace.
;I regret very/ much that, the Prime Minister (Mr:. Hughes),, did not. accept the. olive branch, that, was, held out yesterday, and accept the; suggestion. o£ the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor,), to gis;e organized labour- an opportunity to consider- and. advise.- upon this- important legislation!. Industrial! legislation. has been attempted-, in this, country,, either in the State: or- .Federal Parliaments;, over quite a number o£ years ; and) many honorable members seem obsessed with the. idea that, because of- this; fact,, we should all be- right up- to- date in respect .to- that legislation, and* without consideration, accept this Bill’ as another step- forward-. It must be admitted that the Leader- of the- Opposition is in- close touch- with- the- industrial movement of Australia;- and’ I am certain that1 if, as he suggests; organized labour were allowed, about a fortnight for consideration, the Prime Minister and* every other honorable member would! be put’ in possession of the considered, opinion of the great bulk, of the trade unionists of Australia. “We;, as members of this House,, would then he much, better able to. discuss this, measure. The: Prime Minister, in, the. course, of his second-
Reading speech,, note only once,, but several times, said, that unless organized, labour will, accept tike. Bill, it will be an utter failure,;, but. he did. not say that unless the capitalists are! prepared to come under its provisions, it: will. not. be a SUcCeSS That isi a confession- by the Prime Minis-tor, and in addition he/has:said that he is not prepared to- give- organized labour an opportunity to- consider- the Bill, and give the House- the benefit of its deliberations.’ This: altitude of the Prime Minister is not; to my min-d logical.
Do. honorable members realize the number of people now under the banner, of trade unionism in Australia? When we look at the figures, and take into account also the dependants of these men and. women,, we must be led to the conclusion that when, united labour speaks it must speak, with a thunderous voice$ audi with reason,, for. it speaks- in the name of some 7.00.,000 unionists, and those in. sym.path.jj with unionist principles. Though,, perhaps, not quite so much up to. data as; what may be- termed ordinary trade unionists,, the: public servants of the- State audi the Commonwealth may be regarded) to a. large extent as» ft. part and parcel of organized labour: It isi true- that under,- the; Public! Service regulations some have not been* allowed la associate- themselves* with, the- recognised Trades Halls o£ the. various capitals^, but they ar.e> in sympathy wife unionism, especially on: the industrial side:.; and I. believe! that when the public servants are asked to speak they will’ speak- unitedly with organized labour
It is true, as the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine.) said, that in every part of the world’, industrial organization is proceeding, apace-. During, the dinner hour I saw from a newspaper that in- Germany, which was. engaged in war for nearly five, years, trade, unionism, has extended,, during the, last eighteen, months, by leaps; and’, bounds, and the total, number of unionists in that, country now is nearly four times what, it was prior to the, war. In every country, hu the. world, whether Britain- or what may be, termed foreign, trade, unionism, is marching. on-;.- and. one of the basic principles on which it is founded is- that, for the future the- associated, workers must demand, greater participation in the benefits of industry than they have enjoyed in the- past, and they will not be hoodwinked or denied. The- honorable- member for Darwin’ (Mr: Bell)’ may speak of. pay> ing: mines and non-paying- mines’, of paying, industries and- non-paying, industries, and suggest’ that’ the- workmen should! take- some of the responsibilities and risks;- but the workmen take more of.’ the responsibilities’, and’ a great part of: the risks, all-round to-day, while enjoying; comparatively few of the benefits’. The idea of the workman enjoying the full’ benefits of his labour is not a new one. Abraham Lincoln,, fifty years ago, said’ that-‘ it was only by the sweat of his brow that man ate - that it was incumbent on all to work in some form or- other - and concluded, “ The worker is entitled to the full result, of his labour, or as nearly the full result as possible^” Before the Labour party was known, as such these word’s, were, given, utterance to by Abraham. Lincoln,, and- if they were true in those. days*, they are. a thousand time’s more true to-day,, when, with the use-, of machinery the worker contributes so much to, the well-being and general progress of industry. The whole world is now in’ a state of unrest, conditions generally will not be normal for a long time to come, but they will never be normal so long as we deny the worker a full share of the wealth he helps to create. Dr. Diggle, Bishop of Carlisle, has said -
The empty churches were partly due to idolatrous money worship, with the decreasing sense of the dignity of labour, and that was producing industrial unrest and even despair among the working classes.
Dr. Ingram, Bishop of London, has said ;
The church had not heeded the passionate desire for. .heaven on earth, which was the basis of the Labour movement. The Labour move.ment was definitely religious.
Dr. Gore, Bishop of Oxford, on being transferred from Birmingham, said -
He believed industrial discontent was justified. Christians were not justified in tolerating the conditions of life and labour under, which the masses ‘were living, and had no right to : Say that they ‘were irremediable.
Hundreds of similar utterances could be quoted indicating that there is a large number of people who seem to be going along life’s .journey with their eyes closed to the rights of the worker. “With the honorable member for “Barrier (Mir. Considine), I say that every man who earns his bread by brain, work or manual labour is entitled to the fullest possible consideration, and a fair share of the results of his labour. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) takes a delight in twitting the Labour party about the “ go slow “ system, but I refer him to the figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, which ^demonstrate that, year by year, Australia’s production is increasing in comparison with the number of workers employed, and- to-day is better than ever it was. I agree with the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) that by passing this Bill we shall be creating a number of Boards, authorities, and councils, which will only ‘serve to make confusion worse confounded. There are already 498 “Wages Boards operating in Australia under State Acts, and when the provisions of this measure are in force there is a possibility that we .shall have at least 500 Boards at work. Each industry will claim a Board, but the .measure will go still further. Tie honorable member for
Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has put up an eloquent plea on behalf of the miners, who, he says, will not be satisfied with the appointment of a tribunal that knows more about some other industry than about coal mining. But mining in the Maitland district may not be conducted on the same lines as are employed in the Hunter district; and, again, different methods may be followed in Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia, so that there is a possibility that each State and each district will claim a Board for the coal-mining industry alone. Thus conflicting decisions may be given, creating confusion. We have at least 200 unions in Australia, with various subsidiary branches, some of which will demand the appointment of Boards. All this duplication of’ existing machinery cannot lead to industrial peace. I am afraid that the history of this .measure, which has been -introduced in : storm. will be ‘one of storm, and that it will .finally pass out in storm, because the .multiplicity of (decisions which will be given will be .more likely to create turmoil, unrest, and distrust than bring about industrial peace. Mr,. Holman, the ex-Premier of “New South Wales, who may be regarded as a? States Righter in most matters, ‘has said repeatedly at Premiers’ Conferences that the Commonwealth -Government should have .sole control in industrial -matters. No .doubt it will be a difficult matter to adjudicate in regard to the conditions which apply to workers in the Northern Territory, .and also to workers in the south-east of our vast continent. Work may be .more arduous -in some parts of Australia .than in -others, .and living may be ‘ more costly in one part ‘than in ‘another. For .all these things allowance must .be made, Hut it can only be done by one central authority ; and I believe .that, if we create one authority, we shall be doing a great deal towards solving many of the difficulties confronting .us to-day. I would like to see all industrial matters., and .’some others, put wholly under Federal control.
– One people, one Parliament.
– That is not -the Labour party’s platform. Excepting, ‘perhaps, a few members of ‘the Corner party, none .are more in favour of true local government for Australia than are the members of the Labour party. Our platform would provide a more perfect system of local government than any other that has been suggested, and the sooner it can be brought about the better it will be for the people of Australia. This is an inopportune time for the introduction of amending industrial legislation, ‘because, as the Prime Minister announced to-day, a Bill is to be introduced very soon to provide for the calling together of a Convention to consider the amendment of the Constitution. Personally, I do not think that there is any need for such a Convention, but the Convention is to be held, and it will discuss, among other things, the control of industry. I believe that there will emerge from that discussion the view that has been expressed by Mr. Holman-, of New South Wales, and others, that industrial legislation should be entirely a Commonwealth power. Under these circumstances, why patch up our arbitration, law in the manner proposed by this Bill 1 It would be preferable to wait until’ the Convention has met. A majority in this House evidently favours the idea of a Convention, and, therefore, why not wait until that body has stated its views on the subject of industrial legislation? Mr. Justice Powers, the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court, has published a pamphlet of six pages, of which honorable members have received a copy, in which he shows that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has been a success, and that arbitration has not been the disastrous and awful failure in Australia that some persons have declared it to be. The Labour party is pledged . to the amendment of the Arbitration Act. We have not thrown arbitration overboard, but we wish to’ have the Act amended to avoid the Serbonian bog of technicalities once spoken of by Mr. Justice Higgins. Before blaming the Arbitration Court for its short-comings, we should consider the constitutional limitations upon its powers. Mr. Justice Powers mentions a few of them. The Court has jurisdiction only for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of a State - it cannot settle all disputes - and at least 95 per cent, of the disputes that have arisen are State disputes, with which it cannot deal. I think that the Court has done very well. In five years, according to Mr. Justice Powers, 729 agreements between employers and employees have been filed in the Court in settlement of disputes of which the Court had cognisance, some of them being agreements with individual employers, and others being agreements with groups of employers. That was the work of the conciliation branch of the Court’s activities. The Prime Minister has made a great deal of the fact that he is now introducing what has been termed the round-table Conference; but I would remind the House that the roundtable Conference is already provided for in our arbitration law. Mr. Justice Powers has been assisting Mr. Justice Higgins in the Arbitration Court for a number of years, and he says that one of the first things they do when an InterState dispute arises is to try to bring the parties together and have the matters iti dispute discussed at a round-table Conference at which employers and employees are equally represented. Trouble has arisen because, owing to- constitutional limitations, the Court cannot deal with disputes which are wholly within a State. That, I understand, is the ruling of the High Court. What I am about to say may not obtain the approval of legal gentlemen, but personally I think that we should not pay too much regard to a ruling of the High Court given six, seven, or ten years ago. To-day the personnel of the High Court is quite different from what it was then. Not one of the Justices who originally constituted the High Court i3 now on the Bench. Furthermore, times have changed, and I believe that many of the earlier decisions of the Court would be upset if the questions were brought before the Court as at- present constituted. At any rate, there is no reason why we should not test the opinion of the present Court on many questions. I think that it would be a good thing to pass- the industrial legislation that we think needed, and try to enforce it with _ a view to obtaining from the present High Court a decision as to its constitutionality. The Court has varied some of its earlier decisions, and I see no reason why _ its opinion on certain constitutional questions should not be tested again. Mr. Justice Powers says -
Writers Have suggested American methods to settle industrial disputes. Some of them may be well worth adopting; but I think I am safe in saying that more lives have been lost, and more property has been .destroyed, during one strike in the United States, and the suppression of it by the military - instead of by compulsory arbitration - than we have lost during all the strikes in Australia since Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770.
Honorable members are forced to express their opinions about this Bill hurriedly, because the Prime Minister has given the order that its consideration must proceed quickly. My complaint is that we have not had sufficient time to consider it properly, and the speeches of some honorable members opposite have shown that they have not thoroughly studied its provisions. The old cry has been raised that it is a Bill to be dealt with in Committee, and that it can be amended there. During some of the speeches from this side, and particularly during the speech of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), honorable members opposite appeared to indorse opinions which were being uttered, and stated that in Committee they would support amendments which would better the Bill. I hope that those honorable members will stick by their guns. It has happened too often that honorable members, after declaring themselves in favour of a certain course, have, when the whip has been cracked, gone back on their utterances, and voted contrary to them. The Prime Minister has said that this is not a party measure, but one to be framed in Committee. Personally, I do not expect any good results from it unless it can be amended almost out of existence. I question whether those who belong to the industrial unions of the country will seek relief under its provisions. If they do not, the measure will be an absolute and disastrous failure. The request for delay was a fair one, and had it been backed up by honorable members opposite, the Prime Minister would have been forced to yield, as he has yielded on other occasions, to the majority. I believe that all the amendments that will be proposed in Committee will be. reasonable, and have in view the improvement of the Bill, and I trust that they will be supported from all quarters. The Bill is a bad one; but, if we can, let us make it a good one by amending its provisions, and inserting others, so that the measure may be acceptable to the unions. If this is not done, failure must result.
– It has been said during the debate that this measure is probably one of the most important that has been brought before the House, and any one who recognises the conditions of the world to-day must agree that the Bill calls for the earnest cooperation and assistance of every member - not as a party measure, but as one on which the destinies of Australia may possibly depend. The problem of industrial unrest is world-wide. Any one who has been out of Australia recently knows that our ‘industrial problems and troubles are small in comparison with those of nearly every other part of the world . Early last year I visited Great Britain, the United States of America, France, and Canada. On my return I was surprised by what I heard said on public platforms and in private conversation, and by what I read in the press, concerning the conditions in Australia. The impression was abroad that this country was a seething cauldron of unrest, and that it might “be better to seek some peaceful land where industrial conditions were more stable. There never was a more absurd impression. We have our industrial troubles; but, as I have said, compared with those of other countries, they are small. We possess a priceless asset in the fact that, generally speaking, Labour here is organized and controlled. Much has been said against trade unionism and. trade union acts with which I entirely disagree. There can be no better^ thing for industrial peace than the existence of good and efficient Labour organization, provided that Labour takes its responsibilities seriously, and sees that its organizations are controlled by the best minds in the industry, and by men who truly represent the orderly, decent worker whom we all know.
– Are you in favour of recognising the unions in this measure ?
– I think that they should be- recognised, though whether they are or are not may be open to question. But if by the recognition of unions you ask me to drive into outer darkness the man who does not belong to a union, I shall not do it. I am willing to do everything in my power to get men to join unions, because I believe that organized unionism is the best thing for industry that we can have ; but if I am to be asked to impose on those who do not join some form of compulsion, I decline to do so. The position in France is really terrible to-day. There is no more potent force for the creation of industrial trouble than an enormous increase in the cost of living. The people of Australia have been subjected to a heavy increase in the cost of living, but, compared with what France has had to undergo, our experiences are nothing at all. The cost of living in France has advanced nearly 300 per cent. In Australia, the increase is estimated to be nearly 60 per cent. From enjoying the privilege of being one of the cheapest countries in the world in which ,to live, France to-day has the unenviable reputation of being one of the most expensive. This fact has reacted heavily upon the people, and France is seething with industrial unrest. It will take the best brains of the Republic, and the united efforts of all parties, to .steer France through her .troubles. In , Great Britain, a similar .condition of affairs exists. The cost of living is ‘.estimated to have .risen about 150 per cent. .To-day, the British people .are grappling, not -only with that problem, but with another, with which the people -o£ Australia, happily, are not faced. Prior to the war, ,the .great majority of the working people were treated like dogs. They never had -‘a fair chance, and those who were on top saw to it that they did not get a fair chance. Naturally, to-day, as ‘the workers are finding themselves upon ‘a “basis where there is time to think and opportunity for making comparisons, ‘they are dwelling upon the injustices to which they were subjected not long ago. The attitude of the working masses of England is going to provide a very difficult problem.; indeed, .so difficult will that problem prove that it will only be by extraordinary efforts that a solution is likely to be found. The efforts already being made to .solve the problems of peace, however, are only comparable with those of the British people to solve the problems of war; and honorable members are aware of the nature of those tremendous and successful efforts.
As for the conditions in America, it is almost impossible to dwell upon the situation. I -.saw a good deal of what was going <on in the United States. America to-day may be compared ‘with- Vesuvius; that is to say, there is not a state of active eruption, but .such a cond.1.
Mr. Bruce. n tion may break out at any hour. The industrial unrest and the general attitude of labour towards capital constitute a grave menace.
Turning attention to the situation in Australia, we find that our troubles .are very loudly proclaimed; but that is where our safety lies. There is a great deal of noise surrounding our troubles, for labour here has a voice and makes itself emphatically heard. In the voicing of labour’s troubles, however, our salvation may be found. While .our troubles are considerably less than those of other people, we must nevertheless make a determined effort to solve them; and, if we can do so, we will have placed ourselves well ahead of any other country in the world.
It has been mentioned in -the course of this debate,, I .think, that there is .a specific sum of £5a000,600 waiting to be invested in Australia, tat that, owing to Australia’s terrible industrial situation, that amount of capital will not be coming here. Such a /statement is immediately challenged by the suggestion, “Where ‘else would that money ‘go for investment ? “ There is no better place than Australia to take it. But here another fact arises for consideration. The world does not know what we know about Australian industrial conditions. We have ,never inaugurated adequate propaganda in London to counteract the derogatory statements made and published regarding this country. One never sees .any reference to Australia in the London press unless it has to do with .droughts or ‘.strikes, or other such calamities. Surely, with our resources, there should be something of a different character in the “London newspapers by way of presenting Australian news. ‘ ‘There ‘.should be something done in the matter of presenting to the people of England a true statement regarding prevailing conditions in the Commonwealth.
This Bill represents an effort, made in all seriousness, to help regulate the relations existing between employer and employee, and to contribute towards industrial peace. But the effort was inaugurated under unfavorable conditions. There has been a suggestion from honorable members opposite that there should be delay in order that the proposals contained :in the Bill anay be fully and carefully considered. I do not share ‘in that view. Tie- Prime. Minister- (Mr:. Hughes) has mad’e. an effort’ to- bring- together the two. classes chiefly concerned’; but hisactivities have proved abortive. The. Prime Minister having failed in his. endeavours,, and. the question being undoubtedly urgent, the. Government are now, determined to go on,, and to proceedquickly. In such a course of action, I entirely concur.
– That is right; limit the time for discussion, and’ then take, half of-‘ it up yourself.
– I am’ sorry that the honorable member is not prepared’ to give me a fair opportunity; but one has certain public duties- to perform, and,, rightly- or wrongly, I’ feel that. I ought to speak- upon this measure. The demand for delay in dealing with the Bill’ is, based’ upon a. proposition, not that there shall be a conference between employers and employees, but that there shall be’ separate’ discussions. For- conferences of that character, I have no- use at this1 stage. IF the proposal of honorable’ members, opposite’ were- to call a joint, conference-, there might-, be something in- their- argument-; but. the outcome* of each side of industrial life meeting ism separate conventions upon, the subject-matter- of this Bill’ would’ be merely to inspire the various delegateswith a: feeling that they must, make out the. strongest possible case’ for- their- interests;, 30.’ as to. permit, of: their claims; being bargained’, down, and! whittled! off to< at. fair andi reasonable level. Procedure of : that; character- is> quite undesirable at this* stage., for Parliament would, become little, more than an arbitrating- body between contending, factions If there, were to. ben delay in order: to. give employers and employees an. opportunity- to meetand’ debate separately, many valuable: weeks, might be lost. First, the delegates’ would take time -in coming together.;-. then they- would occupy more, time- in: debating, and would, waste, still more time, in resturning to the bodies which had selected* them and reporting upon their deliberations. By the time the Government or Parliament had been made acquainted with the views of the parties chiefly; concerned, the- delay might prove tragic… I. take- the. view that, honorable members having been: elected to sit. in this’ Parliament, as- the representatives of the people, the latter: - rightly on wrongly - have decided that we are their- leaders. Now, they are looking Co. us to say what, action- shall’, be- taken-, in this; all.-impor.tant: matter; and there should be. no. question, as, to- our giving, the. people a. lead., I suppose that. I may he- regarded’ as a, typical) representative of, employers ;, but there. is> going, to bet no- question,, so fax as. I am. concerned,, of waiting until a, representative body of. employers has, informed, me what my. attitude ought, to be. I take, it that my- job is- not to wait for such a lead’,, but to suggest in (his Chamber what I consider the right course f or the. people to follow - not in the interests either of employers or employees’, but with- a view to bringing- about– the. greatest good’ for- the people ofl Australia as a whore. Honorable members- would be. well advised’- to: take’ a bold- and strong- course ; for- there has- been- ample opportunity to consider the- whole grave problem’. There has been scarcely any other question occupying the- minds of; thinking’ men for some time- past. In- view of that fact, I have no1 sympathy with the cry that this- Bill is- being rushed through’.. The problem’ is’ truly urgent; and1 must be- faced. If I were to state- in this House that I’ was open, to suggestions, and’ was- waiting to hear them,, j dare say that I. would be flooded with communications’ from? employers’’ organizations, telling- me what to do’.- As an employer, I’ have, devoted- a. good deal of time, to- the: problem of industrial, unrest,, and,, while I am. naturally prepared, too listen to proposal’s which; may emanate: from sources, likely- to- prove’ helpful,, I anr certainly not. ready to> alter my- views unless an- extraordinarily strong case has been made out. for such a change.
Honorable: members: should! consider opinions expressed upon the subject of industrial unrest,, and should examine the- actions taken in Great Britain, where the. matter has been dealt with in every detail-., Most honorable members are aware: of the history of organized Labour in Great Britain throughout the war. I propose-, however, to remind them, of what happened. Very soon after: the outbreak of the war, namely,, in March,, 19-15, it. became strikingly apparent that the fullest necessary production of munitions and’ supplies, could’ not be secured unless some alteration were made in existing methods. The Government, by the grace of God, bad the good’ sense to take organized Labour into, their confidence and to. explain the whole situation. They asked for cooperation and willing assistance. And it. is to be said to the credit of leaders of organized Labour in the Old Country that they rose to the opportunity afforded them and played their part in a way that will ever reflect credit upon those who had the handling of British Labour in those early days of the conflict. The Labour leaders agreed to forego many of the rights that had been fought for for many years and had been secured only with the greatest difficulty. They agreed to the dilution of labour. That was the first great point, and, probably, it involved a principle which had been placed by true unionists on the very highest pinnacle of their beliefs. The leaders agreed to the employment of women and boys in the stead of skilled labour. They agreed to the number of boys in proportion to skilled labour being increased; they agreed to a working week of seven days, and to the institution of unlimited hours of work. In exchange for these great concessions, however, they demanded a pledge, which was given, that those privileges which they were forgoing were to be withheld for only so long as the war continued. After a time the realization became acute that, as the war drew to its conclusion, tremendous problems would have to be dealt with if that pledge was to be honoured. A committee was appointed, with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons as its chairman. That body is known as the Whitley Committee. After months of deliberation, it reported in March of 1917, upon what it considered the best means of honouring the pledge and of bringing about, for the first time in the history of Great Britain, true industrial peace. The Committee’s recommendations were, I believe, wonderfully wise and prudent. They were’ accepted by all classes in Great Britain. One point has struck me forcibly, and that is with regard to the spirit with which the Whitley Committee approached its task. T should like to read to honorable members a paragraph from the preface to the recommendations- of the Committee -
This said that failure to utilize existing opportunities for securing a permanent improvement in the relations between employers and employed might involve the nation in grave industrial difficulties at the end of the war, and proposed the establishment in each of the main industries of the country of an organization representative of employers and workpeople, having as its object the regular consideration and determination of matters affecting the progress and well-being of the trade from the point of view of all those engaged in it - as far as that might be consistent with the general interest of the community.
That was the basis upon which the Committee worked, and I shall indicate to’ the House briefly their recommendations. At first sight 1 thought that this Bill reproduced the Whitley Committee’s scheme, but I find that it is considerably different.’ The underlying principle in the Whitley Committee’s report was the fact that they recognised that industrial troubles generally start from some very small beginning, add in order to avoid the genesis of trouble they started their scheme with a works committee to operate directly in every big establishment in which the scheme is adopted. Then there is the district committee, which deals with questions affecting the whole district, such as a coal-mining district like that represented by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton). Above both those organizations, there is a national council, which deals with the problems on a national basis and considers all great questions arising in any trade. But I would emphasize the point that the Whitley Committee recommended that each council or works committee should deal with only one trade ; that each trade should have its own complete organization. I shall indicate some of the other recommendations, because I think that if we can realize what was the considered opinion of the best’ brains in England, after many months of investigation and study of this problem, we may derive some help in arriving at the solution of a very similar difficulty in Australia. The powers given to the -bodies which the Committee suggested should be created for each trade are very wide. It is contemplated that the various works committees and district councils shall not only deal with questions of labour, hours, and payment, but also assist in bringing about greater efficiency. The- committee’s plan was based on the principle that each industry must have its own organization running right through the industry, from- the earliest point at which troubles might arise, on to a national council which would deal with the problems of an industry as a whole. The principles of the Whitley Committee’s report have been adopted in a great number of industries in: Great Britain. The first industry to take up the scheme was the pottery trade, and amongst the others which followed were furniture-making, silver and gold, horological and allied trades, match-making, rubber manufacture, silk industry, baking, china clay, tramways, water works, woollen and worsted, electricity, bedstead making, boot and shoe manufacture, table making, carpet making, and many other trades. I have already said that the first industry to adopt the Whitley Committee’s report was the pottery trade, and I shall read to the House some of the objects set out in the memorandum of the national council for that industry. The first and’ most obvious is the advancement of pottery making, and the consideration of imeans whereby all manufacturers and operatives shall be brought within their respective associations. I quite agree that we should ever try to employ men who belong to industrial organizations, provided always that when they become members of a union they shall take a live interest in its affairs and extraordinarily good care that it is controlled’ by the best men in it, and not by a clique of disgruntled and troublesome people who were never particularly keen on work. One point I would like to emphasize is that the Whitley system is not only going ito help the employer and the employed, but also the industry itself, because amongst the other objects are -
There is this other object to which I draw particular attention, because it has a bearing upon a point raised by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) -
All statistics shall, where necessary, be verified by chartered accountants, who shall make astatutory declaration as to secrecy prior to any investigation, and no particulars of individual firms or operatives shall be disclosed to any one.
– That information in regard to Flinders-lane would be very handy.
– You have that information already.
– We have not.
– That is the sort of wild statement that is continually being made. The Inter-State Commission and the Fair Profits Commission are in possession of every figure and fact in relation to the operations of firms in Flinders-lane. These grossly unfair statements are made with no honest purpose. They emanate from a type of poisonedmind that is trying to poison the minds of other people, and if that atmosphere is to permeate the affairs of Australia, God help the country. I do not believe the average man in Australia has that warped and poisoned mind; when a large number of people have such minds, the country will not be fit to live in. Thank God, there are few men like the honorable member opposite.
– Would the honorable member be favorable to embodying in this Bill the powers he has enumerated inregard to the collection of statistics?
– If it can be done, I see no objection to it. The day has gone by when the employing classes object to the fullest investigation of trade conditions in order to discover what profits they are making, for the purpose of determining what is a fair proposition as between employer and employee. If the Commonwealth Council which this Bill proposes to create is comprised of decent men, there can be no possible harm in the information which the honorable member seeks beingmade available with a view to determining fair rates of wages and rewards for labour. But I think it is the view ofmost decent people engaged in trade that there should be a limit to the number of these inquiries. They are an interference that is becoming an absolute menace to trade to-day. If we can incorporate in this Bill some such power of investigation as the honorable member has suggestedwhereby a check may be made and kept, in the interests of all concerned in the trade, as to what profit is actually being made, we may get rid of the abominable suggestion we continually hear that there is no honest trader in this country. Knowingnothing; some honorable members yet brand everybody inbusiness as a blackguard, when, as a matter of fact, there are in trade a great number of honest and fair-minded people just as there are very many honest and reasonable employees. I have indicated to the House what Great Britain has done. It seems to me that the Whitley system is based on right principles, and it is for us to consider how far we are following in its lines and to what extent this measure will be of assistance.
– Can the honorable member say how the Whitley Committee was constituted?
– It was a very representative body, and both employers and employees were represented.
– The representatives of the employees were appointed from the organizations. That is the point for which we are contending in this measure. Our contention is that only the organizations should elect the representatives on the councils.
– Eor the information of honorable members, I shall mention the personnel of the Whitley Committee -
Hon. J. H. Whitley, M.P., Chairman.
Mr. F. S. Button (Chairman of Committees, House of Commons) (formerly member of Executive Council, Amalgamated Society of Engineers) .
Sir G. J. Carter, K.B.E. (Chairman, Shipbuilding Employers Federation).
ProfessorS. J. Chapman, C.B.E. (Professor of Political Economy, University of Manchester).
Sir Gilbert Claughton, Bart. (Chairman, London and NorthWestern Railway Company).
Mr. J.R. Clynes, M.P. (President, National Union of General Workers).
Mr. J. A. Hobson.
Miss Susan Laurence (member of London County Council,and member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Trade Union League).
Mr. J. J. Mallow, (Secretary, AntiSweating League) .
Sir Thos. A. Ratcliffe Ellis (Secretary, Mining Association of Great Britain).
Mr.Robert Smillie (President, Miners Federation of Great Britain).
Mr. Allan M. Smith (Chairman, Engineering Employers Federation).
Miss Mona Wilson (National Health Insurance Commissioner).
Messrs. H. J. Wilson (Minister of Labour) and ArthurGreenwood, Secretaries.
These names are known the world over, and it is only reasonable-
– But there was a minority report as well.
– That may be so; but surely the report I have mentioned is good enough for us. This problem has been carefully considered, and clear judgment given upon it already. That, judgment appears to me to be a very helpful one, and should assist us in our deliberations. There is, however, one point that stands out, and that is the question : Have we the power to do all of these things? Personally, I would sug-‘ gest to honorable members that we are not going to get very far if we spend our time trying to determine, in connexion with every provision, whether under the Constitution we have or have not the power to do all these things. The framers of the measure seem to have been suffering from a similarsuspicion, because they took the precaution in clause 2, subclause 2, to provide -
This Act shall be read and construed subject to the Constitution, and so as not to exceed the legislative power of the Commonwealth, to the intent that where any enactment thereof would but for this section have been construed as being in excess of that power, it shall nevertheless be a valid enactment to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power.
It is obvious that we have some of these powers. We also know that a Convention is to be appointed, we all hope, in the near future, to consider this important aspect of Commonwealth authority; and I suggest to honorable members that it is our duty to devote our attention to this particular Bill, in order that we may frame a useful measure in the interests of Australia, hoping that anything we may do is within our constitutional powers, and, if not, furnishing good reasons why the proposed Convention should determine that the particular matter shall be within our legislative authority from the excellence of the measure we produce. That, I think, is the only reasonable attitude that we can take up with respect to this measure..
With regard to the Bill itself, there are one or two things to which I desire briefly to refer, particularly the powers of the proposed Commonwealth Council, referred to in clause 7.
– This is interesting, but we cannot all now have sufficient time to debate this measure.
– I will give the honorable member a good sporting chance, at all events.
– The honorable member is only endeavouring to prevent the industrialists from speaking.
– What is troubling my honorable friend on the front benches opposite ?
– I will tell you directly.
– He is saying that the object of your speech is to prevent the industrialists from having a chance of debating the Bill.
– Then for once in his long and carefully-considered political career the honorable member has made a mistake. The first principle of the Bill is that there shall be a Commonwealth i Council, which, apparently, will perform the same duties as the National Councils under the Whitley scheme, save that in the latter scheme each national council is for one industry only. I think we shall have to consider the position that will arise under this Bill, for apparently the Commonwealth Council will have to consider matters affecting all industries in which questions may have to be determined on a national -basis. This council will have to deal with matters relating to all industries, covering a wider field than the Arbitration Court, with one, and even two, High Court Judges, has been able to cover without intolerable delay; but if it confines itself to wide questions of national importance it may be possible for it to do the necessary
Work, operating in conjunction with the district councils and the special tribunals provided for. Thus it is not likely to be overloaded, as is the case with the Arbitration Court.
– Is it not true that delay in regard to Arbitration Court proceedings is due to the fact that the Government have not appointed sufficient Judges ?
– I agree with honorable members that the Arbitration Court has been hopelessly overloaded, though it has done a lot of valuable work, and obviously something must be done to relieve the present situation. I shall say something further about the Arbitration Court in a few moments. The great benefit which one can imagine to be the outcome of the scheme for a national council will be that employer and employee will meet together and then come to quick decisions ; but I am afraid this object will be defeated if men who are engaged, in a mining industry are called upon as members of the. council to deal with shipping troubles or any other dis putes in allied industries. I do not go so far as to say that it is a hopeless proposition, but I think it must be recognised that the work of this national council will, after all. be limited, though, as I have said, it may be possible for it to discharge its duties operating in conjunction with the district councils. The district councils, which are provided for in clause 9, appear to be analogous to the district councils under the Whitley scheme, save that here also the same set of representatives would have to consider questions bearing upon different industries, while the Whitley district councils are for one industry only. The powers’ of the district councils are very wide, and therefore the danger of overloading seems to be apparent.
– The local Boards will act as district councils.
– No, the local Board will really be the child of the special tribunal, and I think the position of this special tribunal might be cleared up. As I read the Bill the special tribunal appears to be designed for the -purpose of dealing with major disputes, or for clearing up the stray ends of some other dispute that has been dealt with . by the district councils.
– All the big questions will eventually go before the special tribunal.
– That is how I read the Bill. The point I want to emphasize is: Where is the machinery to deal with the little troubles; disputes in their infancy, which, if not corrected, may finally assume the magnitude of an industrial upheaval ?
– Local Boards will handle those problems.
– That is a point on which I desire some light. If trouble is brewing in the coal trade the special tribunal will be brought into existence to deal with it.
– The Local Boards will deal with any disputes that are likely to arise in any branch of the coal-mining industry; but the bigger problems must come before the special tribunal.
– I am entirely in accord with the honorable member. Suppose this Bill is passed, and we appoint a special tribunal for the coal trade, and that special tribunal continues to function indefinitely.
– It is doubtful from the Bill whether it will be a permanent tribunal or not.
– And I want to have that matter cleared- up. If it- is to be a permanent tribunal, some of the difficulties I foresee” will be met.
There is another point to which I must direct attention, and, unless I can get some light on it, it seems to me that one cannot possibly vote for the Bill. This is the authority, contained in clause 17, for the special tribunal to vary an award of the Arbitration Court.
– Did you not deal with this matter in the Caucus?
– I may inform my honorable friend that this is my first flutter on the measure.
– Do you not think that the fact that you are in doubt justifies a longer discussion on the Bill ?
– I think we shall be able to clear away all the honorable member’s doubts.
– But you say you are in doubt -about it yourself.
– Clause 17 is of considerable importance. It provides -
Notwithstanding anything in this Act, if a special tribunal is satisfied that abnormal circumstances; have arisen .which affect the fundamental justice of any terms of an award made by the Court, the tribunal may set aside or vary any terms so affected.
The Arbitration Court is “in the air,” in a state of’ suspension; and we do not know what . is going to happen. There is a Bill foreshadowed to deal with the Court, by which it may have the ground cut away from beneath it, or it may be glorified or magnified ; but we do not know what is to be proposed. In view .of this, and with, such a clause as I have read, it will not be possible to get a man of any standing .or any pride to take the position of Judge. If the Court is to remain a live thing, and to discharge any function that is to be of any value in the settling of industrial disputes - if this Court is to carry any weight or respect- it must be presided over by a man of considerable position and attainments. Under the circumstances, however, no .man with any self-respect could take the position. Until such time as. we know what is proposed in regard to the Court, I personally cannot vote for clause 17.
– (Should the Bill to deal with the Court not be before- us? ;
– I think it should. I do not. see- -how we can judge of the present measure until we .have seen the other . Bill ; but I will not wreck . this measure because I ‘have not seen the other-
– The other . has been promised for four years.
– Then it is nearly time that it eventuated. According to clause 18, any award made by a special tribunal will be binding on the parties, / and may be enforced as an award of the Court. The question has been raised from time to time, “ What is the use of having awards unless there are some penalties attached, so that if any person breaks an award there may be some punishment?” The Bill before us is for the settlement of industrial troubles, and it cannot possibly be a success unless there is the earnest co-operation of the two classes involved, and the determination by them to make it a success. If there is not that co-operation, the Bill will be a failure, though we put all conceivable penalties into it. On this point I should like to read the view of the Whitley Committee, which seems to have shown extraordinary sanity and wisdom in its conclusions -
While it is in the interests of both employers and work-people of the community generally that industrial agreements should be duly fulfilled, in the long run this object is more likely to be secured by an increased regard for moral obligation, respect for an instructed public opinion, and reliance on the principle of mutual consent, rather than by the establishment of a system of. monetary penalty.
I, personally, take that view. I regard the Bill as not worth the paper on which it is printed unless it is carried with the co-operation and goodwill of both sides of industry in the country. I appeal very strongly to every member here, whatever his views , may be - whether politically he be of the Nationalist, Labour, or Country party - to endeavour, when we get into Committee, to make this Bill, which is of paramount importance to Australia, a sane measure, productive of good -in’ this great country by smoothing out its industrial troubles. If we do this, we will be able, truly, to develop this country which is ours, and has greater possibilities than any other in the world.
.- We are all indebted to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), who spoke on behalf of the workmen, and tothe honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), who has spoken from the employers’ stand-point, for their excellent speeches on this measure. This is a Bill which concerns not merely one section of the House, hut all sections - which concerns every member of the community. I had not intended to speak on the second reading, regarding such a measure as obviously necessary to avert the evils of industrial unrest. The Arbitration Court is apparently incapable of meeting the needs of the time. We are told that some forty-two cases are awaiting decision, and that though the Court has settled some strikes, it has, in other cases, not had the effect of preventing them. An honorable member opposite, referring to the broadmindedness of his party, says that it stands for a fair deal for all; that is a claim that can be made by all of us, and a Bill to settle industrial troubles surely concerns every person in the country. I wonder if that honorable member thinks that the farming community is not concerned when the ship-owners and seamen have a little disagreement, and it is impossible for farmers to get their produce to market. Does he think, when a railway dispute arises and the Tailway system is held up, that the producers who, as Mr. Knibbs tellsus, produce three-fourths of the wealth ofthe country, are not concerned? These industrial troubles are a serious matter for the man on the land.
There seems to be a great deal of clamour against the haste with which it is desired to pass this measure; but I should have thought that that haste would be regarded as evidence of its paramount importance. There are many other important measures awaiting consideration. The Navigation Bill has not got half way through this House, and there are other measures awaiting completion ; but this Bill has been given precedence.It should give great satisfaction to the extreme Opposition-
– Why “ extreme “ ?
– Because it is extreme. It is true that the observations of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr.
Charlton), which commanded close attention from the House, showed deep concern for the principle of the Bill, namely, the prevention and settlement of disputes. That honorable member expressed himself as willing to submit his proposals in Committee, and to consider any suggestion from other honorable members, in order to make this Bill satisfactory to all concerned. If we, as a House, approach the consideration of the Bill in that spirit, I am quite sure that we shall produce legislation which will, at any rate, tend to the permanent settlement of disputes and so avoid many of those strikes which cause such inconvenience and loss to the country. Surely it is possible for seventyfive representative men to devise means tothat end. This may not be a perfect measure, but seeing that the Arbitration Act is highly imperfect, we ought to do what we can to make it effective. Personally, I should not object to amend the Conciliation andArbitration Act sufficiently to provide what is sought by the Bill; but since that is not proposed, let us deal with the measure before us. ‘I am a believer in industrial arbitration; and I have been disgusted at the fact that awards given by the Court have not been adhered to, simply because they were not quite satisfactory to certain persons.
– Can the honorable member name one ?
– I think the honorable member himself could, perhaps,name some. I have known disputes in which those concerned would not submit themselves to the Court, so that there must be something lacking in the existing legislation. I have heard honorable members opposite say how they would divide up my wheat among them; and, that being so, have I no right to express my opinion in. regard to Labour proposals? If honorable members opposite, on their political platform, can set out how they propose to deal with my wheat-
– And with my wheat.
– Yes. All I desire is to get honorable members opposite in a frame of mind to realize that in these matters they are not the “ only pebbles on the beach.” I can only repeat that this is a Bill which concerns the whole . of Australia, and not only one or two sections of the community ; and I cannot sit down- without saying how impressed I was with the calm, collected, and sane manner in which the honorable member for Hunter presented his case. Taking that honorable member’s statements to be correct, the men whom he represents are not sufficiently paid; and, therefore, it becomes our duty to provide some means ! of ascertaining the condition of the coal industry, not only in the eastern States, il it right through to Western Australia. Coal-mining is a key industry. Almost every other industry, and the comforts of the community generally, depend upon it. The difficulties surrounding the carrying on of that industry should command the attention of this House until they are solved. We should not delay attempting a solution of them until the country is plunged into the turmoil of a strike. The honorable member for Hunter pointed out that they could be readily dealt with at the present time. The wages which the coal miners earn, according to his figures, are absolutely inadequate for them to live upon, in view of present prices df commodities. It, therefore, becomes us to try to discover what profit, if any, is made on coal; and, if it is found to be necessary in order to pay better wages in the industry to increase the price of coal, the public must be called upon to put up with that increase as they are called upon to pay the increased prices necessary for the production of other commodities.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has expressed himself in a way in which I venture to say he has often expressed himself ‘ outside this House. Honorable members sitting with him on the other side have also expressed themselves in a similar manner. The honorable member made a roughandready statement in condemnation of arbitration. He told us that workmen in Australia are not accustomed to abide by the decisions and awards of the Arbitration Court, and so he condemns arbitration in general.
– Honorable members opposite said, only yesterday, that they would not obey the provisions of this Bill if it were passed.
– I am not concerned just now with what other honorable members may have said. I am referring to a statement made by the honorable member, and I say that, when he was asked to give a concrete instance in which Australian workmen had refused to obey an award of the Arbitration Court, he was not able to do so.
– Has the honorable member not heard of a strike before an award of the ‘Court has expired?
– That is quite another thing.
– Is that not disobeying an order of the Court?
– I am dealing now with a ‘definite statement which the honorable member made in the course of his speech, and which I challenged. As a matter of fact, the obedience of Australian workmen to awards of the Arbitration Court is probably unique in the history of industrial disputes in any part of the world. I cannot stand here and permit a charge levelled against Australian workmen to pass without challenge.
– Were there not any strikes at all?
– The honorable member was given an opportunity to quote an instance’ in which Australian workmen disobeyed an award of the Arbitration Court, and he was unable to do so. I will let him sleep on the matter, and he may subsequently be able to think of an instance, but he has no right to make such statements without being prepared with facts to support them.
I wish to make one or two references to the speech of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), which seems to have carried the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) off his feet. I am unable to agree with the honorable member’s opinion of that speech, though it might impress people who like to hear such statements as the honorable member for Flinders made. I have not heard many speeches in this House that were more contradictory.
– The honorable member does not understand impartiality.
– I shall not go to the honorable member to learn anything. He has not been responsible for casting much light on any subject since he came into this Chamber.
– That is a gross reflection on the honorable member for Swan.
– The honorable member looks for such statements by his interjections.
– I think the honorable member should withdraw the statement.
– I was saying something about the speech made by the honorable member for Flinders. He dealt with the matter under consideration in a very superior way, from his own point of view, but I repeat that I never listened to a speech that was so full of contradictory statements. He went to no end of trouble to tell us that every other part of the world is more afflicted with industrial turmoil than is Australia. He told us that as the advice of a man who had recently been round the world. He told us that England is a seething cauldron of industrial trouble, and that France and America are in a similar position. This, according to the honorable member, is the one country that is free from all this turmoil. Then he went on to say that, in dealing with this Bill, we ought to adopt the measures that have been adopted in Great Britain. He talked* by and large about the Whitley Com- mittee. It. was nothing new to honorable members on this side to hear about that Committee. One of the principal reasons why I consider we should have plenty of time to consider this measure is that I should be very doubtful about the wisdom of inserting in it any of the recommendations adopted in the legislation of a country that, on the statement of the honorable member for Flinders r is seething with industrial trouble to-day. That is the country to which the honorable member advises us to go for ideas if we wish to save Australia from industrial turmoil.
– If the Whitley Committee scheme worked well in that country it might be assumed that it would work better here.
– We have been told by a gentleman who has recently returned from a tour round the world that, after all that was said and done by the Whitley Committee, we are in an infinitely better position to-day in Australia, so far as freedom from industrial unrest is concerned, than is any other part of the world. We have had arbitration and all the short-comings due to the shackles placed upon the Arbitration
Court, and yet we have a definite statement that better results in dealing with industrial unrest have been obtained in Australia than in any other country. The only reason why we have not had infinitely better results than have been achieved is because the Arbitration Court in this country has been shackled and hamstrung at every turn.
– By the employers.
– By the employers and their representatives. The honorable member for Flinders says that he is in a fog about this Bill, and does not understand it. I say that if the money proposed to be spent in bringing about a revolutionary change under this measure were expended in providing another Judge, for instance, for the Arbitration Court, it would be infinitely more to the advantage of Australia. ‘
I regret that the honorable member for Flinders is not present, as I do not care to speak of an honorable member in his absence; but as soon as the honorable member had delivered his lecture, put he went. He said that this is the most important measure ever introduced, or likely to be introduced, in this House. If that be so, it is the best reason that could be given against limiting the time devoted to its discussion.
– Come on now, let the honorable member get down to the Bill.
– Apparently, we are to believe that because this is the most important measure ever introduced here the Government took a step to kill the Bill in its infancy. If this is an important measure, why the haste and hurry in discussing it? Why should honorable members be placed in the position of honorable members on the other side who have admitted that they do not understand the Bill, although I venture . to say they had ample opportunity upstairs at the precious Caucus meeting to learn all about it. Notwithstanding all that the Government have done, we find that even their own supporters do not know what is contained in the measure. To refer to another of the contradictions ‘ of the honorable member for Flinders, he told us that we cannot have arbitration without industrial unionism. He said, further, that the kind of unionism’ he would devise himself would be the best thing this country could have. He said that without unionism we cannot have arbitration. But when he was asked whether he would agree that under this measure recognition should be given only to recognised industrial unions, he said, “ I would not shut out into outer darkness those who d.o not choose to join a union.” He told us that it was necessary for men’ to be in a union before they could be brought before the Arbitration Court, yet he would not make it compulsory for men in any industry to join a union. The honorable member made one statement with which I agree. He said that one of the principal causes of industrial unrest in this country to-day is to be found in the increased cost of living. Then he gave us his principal lecture of the evening. I fully expected it from him. I have heard it from him before. He would smite hip and thigh every one on this side or anywhere else who would dare to suggest that the large profits made in Flinders-lane might be quoted as a reason for any unrest. People who would make such a suggestion are, in the opinion of the honorable member, enemies of their country. He says that such a condition of affairs does not exist. I heard the honorable member say that before, and I make this definite Statement now to him, and challenge him to contradict it.
– The honorable member for Flinders is not here.
– If he i3 not here I cannot help that. He made the definite statement that there is nojustification for saying that because prices are manipulated in Flinders-lane, that that constitutes a reason for unrest in this country to-day. I tell the honorable member that I recently visited woollen mills at Geelong, and had a definite statement from a gentleman at the head of those mills that cloth was being supplied through one end of Flinders-lane at 12s. a yard, and came out at the other end at 30s. a yard.
– At £2 a yard.
– My honorable friend says as much as £2 a yard is charged by Flinders-lane for this cloth. But I am content to repeat the definite statement made to me by a gentleman at the head of the mills.
– Make it a round £2 10s. a yard.
– I ‘ am satisfied with the statement made to me. The honorable member for Flinders told us that the profits of firms in Flinderslane never exceed 50 per cent. If the honorable member can prove that the difference betwen 12s. ‘ and 30s. is only 50 per cent, he should be wearing the mantle of the Treasurer. It was rumoured that he was to be appointed Treasurer, and he certainly would be an excellent man for the position if he could so manipulate figures as to . make the difference between 12s. and 30s. only 50 per cent. An honorable member reminds me of another of the honorable member’s inconsistencies, but I have no intention of proceeding further in this direction. . I content myself with this definite statement from the head of one of the principal woollen mills in Victoria, which is an indication of how a commodity of this kind is manipulated when passing through Flinders-lane. It is but one out of many instances which I could -quote in answer to the statement of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), that Flinders-lane is a . place where nothing but innocence reigns, and where nothing is done which is capable of causing industrial unrest.
Now I wish to say a few words in regard to the Bill itself. I cannot support it in its present state.. I have no enthusiasm for it, and cannot conceive cf any good coming out of it. In the- beginning -we asked the Prime Minister (Mr.’ Hughes) to allow us time to consult with1 those concerned outside, namely, the industrialists of this country; but he told us that that could not be done, and that as those who- represent organized labour would have every opportunity of putting their point of view, the necessity of consulting organized labour outside was not apparent. There are honorable membersin this House- who certainly can -speak for organized labour outside but it appears to me that the Prime Minister does -not wish to learn what is the voice of organized labour in the ‘matter, for the next thing he- did’ was- to “ gag.” the discussion on- what he- admits is the- most important -measure ever- introduced ‘in this House.’
-The honorable member must not discuss that matter; it has already been decided by the House.
– Having said it, I withdraw it. The measure is a sham, pretending to give something when, as a matter of fact, it gives nothing. Judging by his own remarks, the Prime Minister has lost no opportunity of ascertaining the views of those opposed to labour, and in this, as in other matters, I believe it is his principal concern to do that which is agreeable to the forces that keep him in power, while at the same time giving very little opportunitv to organized labour to put forward their point of view. I agree with one thing which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) has said this evening. The honorable member spoke as one representing a country constituency,and told us of the wheat he grows; but I remind him that there are honorable members on this side of the House who arejust as capable of speaking for those who grow wheat, and who possibly grow quite as good wheat as that grown by the honorable member.
– I thought that the honorable member was going to leave me alone for a while.
– I hold the belief that where the interests of any section of the community are concerned all other sections shouldhave due notice of what is proposed, so that they may put forward their views.
– Then why does the honorable member object to my putting forward my views ?
– I do not object to the honorable member putting forward his views, but to-night he put them forward in the form of a lecture to honorable members on this side of the House. There are here men quite as capable of speaking for the primary producers as is any honorable member sitting in the Corner. Furthermore, let me add that if honorable members in the Corner continue to vote and speak as they have been doing since they have come into this Parliament, they will not convince many producers outside that they have their interests at heart.
– Order! The honorable member must address himself to the Bill.
– I come now to another aspect of this matter. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) are never tired of alluding to the go-slow policy of the workers.
– Why does not the honorable member speak to the Bill ?
– I presume that those honorable members were speaking to the Bill when they made these remarks, or Mr. Deputy Speaker would have pulled them up.
-I call upon the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) to withdraw the remark that the Deputy Speaker never agrees to anything unless it is on the Government side, and I ask him also to apologize to the House for having made use of that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, but I do not see the necessity for apologizing.
– The honorable member must obey the Chair. Does he intend to conform to the rules of the House?
– Yes. I do not wish to be heaved out.
– I was about to reply to the remarks of the honorable members for Dampier and EdenMonaro. I did not hear the latter honorable member speaking; but according to the report of his speech in the newspapers, he seemed to attribute all the industrial unrest in this counry to the goslow policy of the workmen. To a charge of that character, one whose duty it is to have regard for the interests of the workmen of this country cannot turn a deaf ear. These honorable memberi who talk about the go-slow policy of the workers have not a word to say about the go-slow policy of those who have sent them here.
– Again I ask the honorable member to address himself to the Bill. Allusion to such matters can only lead to disorder.
– I am replying to statements made by honorable members in dealing with the Bill. They have said that the industrial unrest in this country is largely due to the goslow policy of the workmen; and if their remarks were in order, I am in order in replying to them.
– The honorable member was not called to order for replying to statements made by other honorable members; but he is not in order in going beyond the scope of the Bill.
– I accept your apology, sir.
– I am making no apology. While I have the honour to occupy this position, I shall carry out the duties attaching to it fairly and impartially, but shall brook no insults from either side of the House. I ask honorable members to be more respectful to the Chair, and they will find that it will protect their interests. They are only lowering the dignity of the House when honorable members seek to evade the. rulings of the Chair. As a matter of fact, I have allowed more latitude during this discussion than I should have given, but I have done so in order that the fullest debate might be permitted.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Chair. It is remarkable that honorable members who talk about the go-slow policy of the workers, which I absolutely challenge, shut their eyes to the go-slow policy of those who sent them here. Evidence was given before the Fair Profits Commission of Victoria on the 19th July by Mr. Zwar, the managing director of a large tannery carrying on business at Preston and in other parts of Victoria, and he is reported to have said -
The price of leather is regulated by the cost of replacement. That is to say, in fixing the price of a pair of boots, consideration would be given to the cost of replacing it.
On the top of that definite statement, he went on to say -
There has been a terrific fall in the price of leather. .
Yet, later on, he pointed out that the leading boot factories of Melbourne, because of the over-supply of leather, were working only about two and a-half days in each week. In other words, because the men engaged in the boot trade had been giving effect to what the Prime Minister has urged - that is to say, they had been “producing, producing, and producing,” which, the right honorable gentleman says, alone will bring about the salvation of the world- an oversupply of boots has resulted. Are we getting boots any cheaper? No. But because of this over-supply, brought’ about by the men who have accepted the advice of the Prime Minister to “ produce, produce, and produce,” they have been obliged to remain idle for about three days a week. Such is the go-slow policy practised by those who send here honorable members whosupport the Government; and, as a matter of fact, the real go-slow policy which is killing industry in this country, and causing industrial unrest by forcing up prices, is that which is adopted by the very people who are the opponents of organized labour.
– The honorable member does not suppose that Mr. Zwar really made that statement.
– I have quoted the words of the managing director, who said that there has been a terrific fall in the price of leather. Both he and other witnesses affirmed that the price of commodities was regulated by the cost of their replacement, so that if there has been a terrific fall in the price of leather we ought to be able to purchase boots at a reasonable price to-day, although, as a matter of fact, we are unable to do so. Upon the other hand, our boot factories are closing down. They are adopting the “ go-slow “ policy.
– What on earth has this todo with the principles ofthe Bill?
– When the Treasurer was absent from the chamber the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) stated that the principal cause of industrial unrest in Australia was the high cost of living. That was the only statement he made with whichI agreed. I come now to my principal objections to the Bill. In the first place, it provides that tribunals shall be appointed consisting of three representatives of the two parties to any dispute, and a chairman who, in the event of the parties being unable to agree upon his selection, will be the nominee of the Government. This measure, therefore, offers no hope for the settlement of industrial disputes. I do not know that there is the slightest chance of getting three employees and three employers to agree upon the selection of a chairman. If they cannot do so, they will be obliged to accept as chairman the nominee of the Government. A council thus constituted, is expected to effect the settlement of any industrial dispute which may arise. Its chairman will naturally take the side of the employers. There is nothing in the Bill to show whether the Government nominee will be on the council for an hour, a week, or a year. It is because we are hopelessly in the dark upon these matters that we require a longer time to consider the measure. The Government have really strangled the Bill in its infancy.
– Strangled it?
– I must ask the honorable member for Grampians to cease interjecting.
– I am very glad that you, sir, have at last observed the honorable member. It has been stated by honorable members opposite that tho party to which I belong have offered no panacea for industrial unrest in those States in which Labour has been in power. May I remind them that there waa published in yesterday’s newspapers a complete answer to that statement . I propose to show, uponthe authority of the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Knibbs, that in the State in which a Labour Government has been in power for some time, there has been less industrial turmoil than has obtained elsewhere, for the simple reason that the cost of living has been cheaper and the. purchasing power of the sovereign greater. According to Mr. Knibbs, the amounts necessary to purchase what would have cost £1 in the various State capitals in 1911 were as follows: - Sydney, in December, 1919, 33s.1d.; June, 1920, 36s. 5d. ; Melbourne, in December, 1919, 31s. 4d.; June, 1920, 35s. 2d.; Adelaide, in December, 1919, 30s.8d. ; June, 1920, 35s. 1d.; Perth, in December, 1919, 38s. 9d.; June, 1920, 33s.1d.
-Order! How does the honorable member intend to make these figures applicable to the Bill?
– I am attempting to show that the cost of living influences industrial unrest. According to Mr. Knibbs, the amount necessary to purchase what would have cost £1 in 1911 in Hobart was 32s. 2d. in December, 1919, and 35s. 8d. in June, 1920. I come now to the one State of the Commonwealth in which a Labour Govern ment has been in power - I refer to Queensland. -There the amount necessary to purchase what would have cost £1 in 1911 was 30s.10d. in December, 1919, and 33s. in June, 1920.
– That is due to the fact that a Nationalist Government had been in power there.
-I know that when he is electioneering, the Treasurer tells the electors quite the opposite. However, the figures which I have quoted are. not mine but those of Mr. Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistician.
– The honorable member’s datal year is 1911,and for five years after that a Nationalist Government was in office in Queensland.
– In the other States the Nationalists have been in power all the time, but the cost of living has not been reduced. In the one State in which Nationalists and Labourites have been in power, the cost of living has been cheaper than it has been in the States in which Nationalists have been in office all the time. Let us take the decrease in the purchasing power of the sovereign between December, 1919, and June, 1920. In Sydney that decrease was. 3s.4d. -there was a Labour Government in power in New South Wales during that time - in Melbourne it was 4s. 10d., in Adelaide 3s. 5d. and in Brisbane. 2s. 2d. Both in Queensland and New South Wales during the past six months the cost of living has been reduced to a greater extent than it has been in any other State.. I have no faith whatever in this measure. The only real remedy for industrial unrest is to abolish the cause of it by dealing with the profiteers of this country. The only way of doing that is to place upon the Treasury Benches a Labour Government similar to those which have done such effective work in some of the States.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mahony) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
The following paper was presented : -
WarPrecautions Act. - Regulations, amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 119.
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 August 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200805_reps_8_92/>.