8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk reported the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon.J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 3.1 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present a petition bearing 32,437 signatures. I understand that it conforms with therequirements of the Standing Orders’ relating to petitions, and concludes “with the usual prayer.I move -
That the petition be received, and read.
– I protest against the reception of the petition. I hold that any petition that is in order should be received ; but this petition is not in order. I have received a copy of it, and know, therefore, that one of the requests of the petitioners is that the Act to which the petition refers may he repealed. No exception could be taken to, the petition if the petitioners asked that the Act be amended; but to repeal the Act would be a violation of the Constitution, and consequently ultra vires. Section 48 of ‘the Constitution says that until Parliament otherwise provides, the allowance of each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall be £400 a year; but if the request of the petitioners were granted, the parliamentary allowance would not be reduced from £1,000 to £600, or to £400, but would be taken away altogether, which would place us behind scratch, so to speak. I do not suppose that even the most rabid member of the Taxpayers Association would suggest that the members of this Parliament should be paid no allowance at all.
-Would they not? They want something cheap.
– I credit them with more liberality. It may be held by some that Parliament has the power to abolish the allowance altogether. In my humble opinion, it has not that power. There arc many sections of the’ Constitution which contain the words “ until Parliament otherwise provides “, and if we were to go behind what they enact, the Constitution would be a mere scrap of paper.
– The honorable member is raising a point of order on a petition whose contents are not known to the House. I suggest, therefore, that he should reserve his remarks, and that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) should submit his proposal in two questions: First, “ That the petition be read,” so that the House may be seised of its contents; and then, “ That the petition be received.”
– The rule is that, upon the presentation of a petition, its’ purport must be stated, and the motion moved that the petition be received. Later, the motion can be moved that the petition be read.
– I understood the honorable member forFawkner to say that the petition was in conformity with the Standing Orders, and concluded with a prayer -; but he did not state its purport. My desire is that honorable members should know what it contains. A suggested, therefore, that he should move first that the petition be read, in order that honorable members might know what it contains ; but if the House desires, I will put the question, “That the petition be received.”
-My point is that it cannot be received.
– We might refer the petition to a Select Committee to ascertain what it is about, and report to the House.
– Can a petition be received which is signed by persons who are not electors of Australia, and by persons who are under the age of eighteen years? -
– The Chair has no cognisance of those facts.
– Would it be possible to ascertain the names of the persons under the age of seven years attached to the petition?
– What do you propose to do to them?
– If the petition were read, the House would know what it is all about. The standing order dealing with the matter is as follows: -
That is the course I am pursuing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Maxwell) agreed to -
That the petition be read.
Petition read as follows : -
To the Honorable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The Humble Petition of the undersigned, being electors of the House of Representatives in the State of Victoria, Commonwealth of Australia,showeth as follows: -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that an Act may be passed repealing the above Act until the electors have had an opportunity of expressing an opinion at a general election.
And your petitioners will ever pray, &c.
Mr. GREGORY presented the report of the PublicWorks Committee, relating to the proposed alterations to the Adelaide General Post Office.
Ordered to he printed.
– I have to announce that, in the unavoidable absence of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) through illness, I have been appointed to act as Leader of the Opposition.
– (By leave.) - Yesterday afternoon I saw Mr. Lawson, the Premier of Victoria, and discussed the coal situation with him. I asked him for certain information which he has promised to supply. I also got in touch with the steam-ship owners,who promised to do what they could to make tonnage available, and to get into communication with the coal proprietors. I asked them to let me know the result of their communications, and when coal supplies might be expected, and they have furnished me with the following information : -
The following steamers will leave Newcastle for Victoria between to-day and Saturday of this week, viz.: -
The following steamers are due to arrive in Newcastle between to-day and Thursday of next week to load coal for Victoria, viz: - .
making a total of 45,000 tons.
From the above list it will be seen that there is no likelihood of Victoria’s public utilities or industries having to close down for want of coal during the next week or two, and after that period it is confidently expected that coal supplies will improve materially.
It is necessary to mention that the shortage of coal is by no means entirely due to exports. The frequent stoppages, lasting from one to several days, caused by the employees at. various collieries on trivial grounds, have greatly contributed . to the shortage. During the month of June no less than 82 days were lost in this manner; during July 54 days were lost, and up to the 10th August 23 days were lost. The output of coal lost from these stoppages would represent no less than about 100,000 tons. The whole of the collieries of New South Wales were laid idle on Wednesday, 30th June, to hold stop-work meetings, which could have been just as well held on a back Saturday or a Sunday. Many of the miners themselves were of the same opinion. Furthermore, a few days ago several of the largest collieries were laid idle by the men, ostensibly for industrial reasons, but actually to enable them to celebrate the release from prison of certain gentlemen in New South Wales.
I shall keep the House posted from time to time with whatever further information comes to hand, but it will be seen that steps have already been taken to prevent the existing shortage in Victoria from becoming acute, and to enable the public utilities of. the State, including gas works and electric lighting plants, to carry on.
– Is it a fact that vessels engaged in the Inter-state trade have been unduly delayed at Newcastle, because preference is given to vessels loading coal for export?
– I am not aware that such is the case, but I shall make inquiries.
– Will the Prime Minister also secure information as to the amount of coal which was exported last month ?
Mr.HUGHES. - I shall endeavour to do so.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that he cannot be recognised in the portrait of the Peace Conference which has just been circulated? The key picture, accompanying the portrait, bears a number identifying the right honorable gentleman as a person who is apparently 10 feet high.
– There seems to be nothing wrong with the portrait of myself at the Peace Conference, which the honorable member has handed me. It is certainly myself, on one of my good days.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable member isbeing obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Acting Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Embargo on Export.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Explorations by Mr. Theo. E. Day - North-South Railway : Survey Costs.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether he will give consideration to the desirability of furnishing all members of the Federal Parliament with copies of Bulletin No. 20 of the Northern Territory, containing reports and plans of explorations in Central Australia by Mr. Theo. 15. Day?
– Copies of Bulletin No. 20 were issued to all members of Parliament when it was published in 1916. There is not a sufficient supply available to enable copies to be distributed amongst members of the present Parliament, but the Bulletin is about to be reprinted, and I shall endeavour to expedite its circulation as desired.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether he will furnish the House with a return showing the costs up to date of the various surveys undertaken by the Department of Works and Railways to determine the best route for the North-South Railway from Pine Creek to the South Australian border, including those (if any) now in progress?
– I shall have the information collated, and will lay it upon the table of the House at an early date.
Cost of Australian Flotations
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Full particulars of the expenses for the first seven loans are published in the Budget-papers for 1919-20, page 133.
Limit on Exportations.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
If, in view of the great famine of coal in Melbourne and the great straits that manufacturers are being placed in, the Government will limit the export of coal until Australian wants are supplied?
– I would invite the honorable member’s attention to the remarks made by me regarding this matter in reply to a question by the honorable member for Adelaide on the 29th July, (vide Hansard, page 3080), and to statements which I made in the House yes- terday and to-day on the subject.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Government have at present under consideration the question of appointing a Board to deal with appeals against the valuation of Crown leaseholds.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he have a public telephone placed outside the railway fence in Swanston-street, where there is space, and thus convenience the public who have to pass through the barriers?
– Arrangements have already been made to place two telephones for public use outside the railway barriers in Swanston-street.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether he will suggest to the State War Trophy Committees that special recognition in the distribution of war trophies should be given to soldiers’ settlements, such as Bcerburrum, Queensland, where more than 400 returned men are occupied in fruit-growing?
– The matter will be brought before the Central Committee at its next meeting, when the question of instructing the State Committees in the manner suggested will be considered.
– On Thursday last, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) asked the following questions: -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– There are more officers than prisoners.
– They have nothing to do with prisoners. They are looking after the ordnance stores.
– On 22nd
July, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 128.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, at -
Lewisham West, New South Wales.
Lismore, New South Wales.
Limitation of Debate.
.- Before we go into Committee to further consider the Industrial Peace Bill, I desire to ascertain what is the position with regard to the limitation of the debate. On Friday last the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) submitted, a motion which provided, inter alia, ‘ that the Committee stage of the Bill up to the end of Part III. should be completed by 10 o’clock this evening. A protest was made,and the right honorable gentleman then stated that he would see that opportunity was afforded for a full and fair discussion. By 10 p.m. we may possibly have gone beyond Part III. That will depend upon developments. The Opposition certainly do not intend to take up the rôle of obstructionists; but if the resolution stands, I take it that at 10 o’clock the Chairman will be forced to give effect to it, although we may happen to be in the middle of the discussion of an important amendment. What does the Prime Minister intend to do to prevent that taking place?
– I have nothing to add to the statement I made on Friday, which I thought was fairly satisfactory to the House. We had yesterday a discussion on many of the points concerning which there is a difference of opinion, and although we did not make much progress, the debate was much to the point, and cleared away a good deal of misunderstanding. I do not anticipate that there will be any difficulty in arriving at the end of Part III. of the Bill by 10 o’clock to-night. If there is, I shall take whatever steps are necessary to extend the operation of the motion for the limitation of the debate. No doubt you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will tell me what procedure I shall have to adopt.
– There will be no difficulty in extending the time fixed for the consideration of the Bill in Committee. The Committee itself will be able to deal with that matter, but that part of the motion which fixes the time within which the third reading shall take place will have to be dealt with by . the House should an extension be desired.
– Very well. I intend to stand by what I said on Friday; but I. shall ask the Committee to use all reasonable expedition.
– I am satisfied with the Prime Minister’s assurance. I want only a fair deal.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from 11th August, vide page 3448) :
Clause 4 (as amended) -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Industrial matters “ includes all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, profits, prices, cost of production relating to an industrial dispute or to any industry, rights, or duties of employers or employees, or the mode, terms, and conditions of employment . or non-employment; and in particular, but without limiting the general scope of this definition, includes all matters pertaining to the relations of employers and employees, and the employment, preferential employment, dismissal, or non-employment of any particular persons, or of persons of any particular sex or age, or being or not being members of any organization, association, or body, and any claim arising under an industrial agreement, and includesall questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole…..
Upon which Mr. Charlton had moved by way of further amendment -
That the following definition be inserted: - “Organization of employees” means the bona, fide Trades Union organization representing the industry as recognised, by the. Trades or Industrial Council in that district or State.
– I take it that the Government are in earnest in introducing this Bill; if they are not, all the time spent upon it has been cruelly wasted. I do not desire to be charged with, reiterating arguments used by members on this side, but I am determined that nothing shall be done in the direction proposed, without expressing my opinion and giving my reasons for opposing the Bill as it stands. The Prime Minister recognises that unless the Bill is made acceptable to the working section of the community it will prove inoperative and useless;, but as to the weight which the right honorable gentleman attaches to that fact I am not certain. This Bill was introduced because of the delay in the Arbitration Court, and in the Court itself there ‘are difficulties in the way of proving what is an “industry,” just as there will be a difficulty under this Bill of proving what is an “ industrial organization.” The Prime Minister “gave the show away” when he claimed that the so-called trade union at Kalgoorlie is bond fide; hut all that he proved was that it is an industrial organization which may come before the Court and which may destroy what I call a bond fide organization. I ask the Prime Minister, or any one who has been concerned in cases before the Arbitration Court, what chance have we of industrial peace when there may be two organizations both claiming the right to appear in Court on behalf of a particular industry, while both hold distinctly different opinions as to why they come into Court ? The National Labour organization at Kalgoorlie was brought into existence by men opposed to the Australian Workers Union.
– Do you call the Coal and Shale Miners organization a registered organization ? Do you wish to prevent those miners ‘ coming before the tribunal ?
– I am not dealing with that question now; but I admit there is a difficulty. There are unions which are not registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and there are bond fide unions which are not affiliated with Trades Hall Councils; and unless we define in this Bill what is an “industrial organization,” and provide that only those organizations which are really the accepted power of’ the majority of the workers in any industry shall be recognised, this Bill will be useless. If there are to be two organizations both claiming to represent the same set of workers any effort at settlement will be futile, especially if the strength of the unions be anything like equal. T am not a lawyer, but 1 suppose that even through the amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of Opposition (Mr. Tudor), the proverbial “coach and four might be driven”; at any rate, what the honorable member proposes is that a bond fide association shall be one recognised by the Trades Hall Council in the district or State. Under the Bill a bond fide union, however, in any one of the States, whether or not it be affiliated with the Trades Hall Council, will be recognised. There are unions in Victoria not affiliated with the Trades Hall Council, but they are recognised by that Council as bond fide industrial unions; so that there will be no difficulty so far as the Trades Hall Councils are concerned. In my opinion, the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition would meet the case, but the Prime Minister will not accept it, saying that he will relegate to no individual or outside body the right co say which is a bona fide industrial organization. Unless the right honorable gentleman does so, however, this Bill will prove futile.
– I can hardly expect the honorable member to agree with me; if he did he would be “scabbing” on his own union, and I am not asking him to do that. I have no more respect for a man who scabs on a union on the other side than I have for a man who scabs on my own union.
– What organization does the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) belong to?
– The conservative organization of Australasia. As I say, the Bill will be useless unless we deal with what I call the bond fide industrial organizations in Australia. It is those organizations which are the cause of the difficulty, and not the organizations fostered and financed by the Employers Federation, and unless we can do something in the direction I have indicated the time spent in discussing this measure will have been wasted.
.- I do nob know whether this is considered by the Prime Minister an opportune time to announce to the Committee what he intends to do. Speaking yesterday, the right honorable gentleman quoted extensively from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and when it was pointed out that his quotations did not appear in the Bill as presented, he said he intended to incorporate in the Bill those parts of the Act that had to do with associations and organizations. Perhaps the Prime Minister is waiting for a decision on a particular amendment before us before he announces his ‘ intentions? The trade unions of Australia, or the greater portion of those who have had an opportunity to consider the measure, have a suspicion that under this measure there is likely to be an onslaught on trade unionism, and that their status will be seriously endangered, if not entirely destroyed. Unless the Bill is amended in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) it will not meet with my approval.
– The point raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was discussed at some length yesterday. I stated fully why I cannot agree to the amendment. I said that it would be most, improper to leave it to the Trades Hall of each State to decide whether or not a union was bona fide. I will not repeat what 1 said yesterday, but nobody has attempted to review the facts I set out. The honorable member for Maribyrnong says that the unions fear that this Bill will destroy their power, and is directed for that very purpose. The honorable member and 1 are on- different sides now, but does he expect me to believe that the trade unions fear that I would introduce a measure that would, destroy them? The statement is absurd, and the more so1, because while I am told that the trade unions look with suspicion upon the Bill, I am overwhelmed with representations from the employers that they too regard the measure with suspicion, because they think it will put the unions in a paramount position.
– They say that only for the purpose of strengthening you.
– The employers do not wish this Bill to be proceeded with; from every organized body of employers throughout the Commonwealth I have received communications beseeching me not to go on with it. When I am told by the employers on the one hand that the Bill will destroy them, and by the trade unions on the other hand that it is a meance to them, what am I to think? The, Bill has been introduced in order to deal with certain obvious evils in the industrial body. It is not pretended that it covers the whole ground and deals Wit- industrial matters as fully as we should like to deal with them if we had complete power, but it does give the trade unions a status that they never had before, and if honorable members will only read the Bill with an impartial eye, they will see that the employers have much more ground for their fears than have the unions for theirs. ‘ We propose to create a Commonwealth Council, composed of an equal number of representatives of employers and employees. Hon orable members opposite say that the employees may be non-unionists. In the very nature of things how can they be? Where are those non-unionists?
– There are a number of them on the Sydney water front to-day.
– Are they registered? They are not ; consequently they will have no standing whatever under this Bill. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) interjects; if he would only take a walk around himself it would do him the world of good. I stated yesterday that I would provide in this measure the same safeguards as were contained in the Arbitration Act, so that only registered organizations can be parties and come within the purview of this legislation.
– Who will have the right to say what is a bond fide organization that shall be registered ?
– Does not the honorable member realize that for sixteen years the conditions I am promising have obtained, and, as I stated yesterday, only three organizations that were not affiliated or would, not be recognised as bond fide by any Trades Hall ever came before the Arbitration Court, One was the union of bank officials, another was the Actors Federation, and the third was the Union of Insurance Company Employees. The Actors Federation has since affiliated with the Trades Hall, so that in sixteen years only two organizations that are not recognised by the Trades Halls have been before the Arbitration Court. During that term trade unionism has more than doubled its membership.
– That hardly answers my question as to who is to have the right to say what is a bond fide organization for registration.
– This Legislature, not the Trades Hall; we shall make that clear in the Bill. I should be very sorry to see unionism at the mercy of the fluctuating majorities in the Trades Halls throughout the country. I am prepared to insert after “industrial matters” the following definition, taken from the Arbitration Act: -
An organization in reference to employees means any association of not less than 100 employees engaged in any industrial pursuit or pursuit’ whatever, together with such other persons, whether employees engaged in any industrial pursuit or pursuits or not, as have been appointed officers -of the association and admitted as members thereof.
That is an ample safeguard, and if I were still an officer of the organization with which I was connected for twenty years, I should regard that definition as quite satisfactory.
– There are many unions which will not register; what will become of them?
– They can be proclaimed. The Bill does not say that only registered organizations shall be dealt with, but it says that any- dispute may be dealt with. If a de facto dispute existed, should we have no means of dealing with it? We must have means for doing so. The Bill is intended to enable us to deal with disputes which, for some reason or another, are not dealt with by the Arbitration Court.
.- The manner in which the Bill will be received by the great body of workers in the Commonwealth will be materially affected by the way in which this- question is dealt with. The Prime Minister, in moving the second reading, spoke eloquently of the good work that had been performed by the Disputes Committee of the Trades Hall at Melbourne.
– I am prepared to agree that the members of these tribunals and of the district councils shall be selected by the recognised organizations.
– If the right honorable gentleman is willing to recognise the trade organizations in respect to the selection of the members of these councils, why not recognise them in every case?
– Because it must be the parties to a de facto dispute who come before the tribunals.
– If you recognise the status of the Trades Hall in the settlement of trade disputes, you must recognise that -that body is interested in the settlement of other disputes.
– Does’ the honorable member suggest that when they are not parties to a dispute they should be present, and that the actual parties to the dispute should not be present?
– So that the Bill may be effective, and the settlements arrived at or the awards given duly recognised and observed by the great majority of employees, it is advisable that representation should be given to the recog>nised organizations.
– If there were a dispute between you and Mr. Charlton, would you say that Mr. Considine should be represented instead of yourself, and Mr. Riley instead of Mr. Charlton?
– We are dealing with bodies -of men, not with individuals, and there are registered organizations of employees which you are not at present prepared to recognise in due form.
– We are prepared to recognise them, and it has been the practice for sixteen years to recognise them.
– There is a feeling abroad that the Government is prepared to give status and recognition to bogus organizations in preference to trade organizations. I have correspondence here from unions.
– For every letter that the honorable member can produce, I could produce a hundred.
– Unless we can obtain satisfactory consideration for the proposed amendment, the success of the Bill will be materially affected.
– I have given it all the consideration possible.
– The Prime Minister says that he is prepared to put into this Bill the definition contained in the Arbitration Act, under which any association of not less than a hundred employees concerned in any industrial! dispute may have representation. It is quite likely, however, that a body of a hundred men who did not really represent the views of the majority of the workers in the industry might form themselves into- an association.
– Let us consider a concrete case. As the result of the 1917 dispute, the members of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Union, or some of them, were thrown out of work; a body of men, whom some said were non-unionists, but of whom 99 per cent, were blacklegs from other unions, formed a union and put them out of their jobs. I am not commenting on what was done; I am merely stating the facts. There is a dispute now, not between these so-called nonunionists and the employers, but between the bond fide unionists and the employers ; and if a tribunal were appointed, its members would be representative of the employers and of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers. The nonunionists, with whom there is no dispute,. would not be represented oh the Tribunal. They might, of course, be called as witnesses, but they would have no standing in connexion with the inquiry.
– There is no guarantee that a iona fide organization will be protected.
– We are considering the establishment of Tribunals to settle de facto disputes. A dispute must exist before a Tribunal can be appointed to settle it, and there must be no other way of settling it, or, at any rate, no other must have been found. In the coalmining industry there is a dispute which cannot be settled in any other way than by a Special Tribunal, or, at any rate, it has not been settled in -any other way. It may be that in some of the mines there are a few men working on tribute who do no°t belong to a union - I do not know whether that is so or not - but in creating a Tribunal to deal with a dispute :n that industry, we should appoint representatives of the employers and representatives of the Federation of Coal and Shale Workers. The interests of the unionists are absolutely safeguarded. In the constitution of a council for the prevention of disputes, men will naturally be selected who represent 99 per cent, of the workers who are organized; but when dealing with do facto disputes, it must be the parties to a particular dispute who must be represented on a Tribunal, and these are always the employers and the unionists, not the employers and the bogus unionists.
– Bogus organizations might be made a convenience of.
– By the creation of an artificial dispute.
– What would it be about?
– In the industrial . field, as on the race-course, all sorts of things can be “ rigged up.”
– At Broken Hill there is a registered organization which is a “ scab “ organization, the great majority of the miners who are on .strike not helonging to it. From which body would the Prime Minister summon representatives to settle the dispute ?
– Between whom is the dispute?
– The Prime Minister said that the disputing was always between the employers and the .bond fide organizations.
– I know that_ at Broken Hill there are two organizations. The honorable member belongs to one of them, and calls the other a “ scab “ organization ; and, no doubt, a member of this organization would have something similar to say of him. If a dispute arose between one of the organizations and the employers, the Tribunal to settle it would be constituted of members representative of the employers and of the organization, whichever it might be, interested in the dispute. The members of the honorable member’s organization are those who never will give in, but will stand out to the last. Obviously, therefore, the dispute must always be with them, in which case they will be represented on the Tribunals.
.- A dispute may arise in which what is known as a bogus organization and a recognised legitimate union may both be involved, but this Bill will afford opportunity to the former to take part in the deliberations of the Tribunal dealing with the dispute. I am sure such a position would not be satisfactory to the great majority of the men employed in the industry concerned.
– Why should not the others be represented before the Tribunal ?
– The honorable member will agree that to-day we have reached that stage in industrial affairs; as well as commercial matters, in which we regard the individual as very insignificant, and deal with organization against organization. At Moonta, in South Australia, there are two bodies engaged in the mining industry, one being an organization which is to a very large extent supported and countenanced by the mine-owners of the copper field, and the other being a branch of the mining section of the Australian Workers Union. Should a dispute arise at Moonta, the former, which is a bogus organization, may to some extent support the claim of “ the latter, which is the legitimate organisation ; and if the Bill is amended as the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) suggests, if it has a membership of 100 persons, it will be in a position to gain recognition before the Tribunal, and may, in fact, really determine and decide the case for the men who, in larger numbers, are members of the larger organization, which is the bond fide union engaged in the industry. That is the serious danger of the Prime Minister’s proposal. If we do not give to bona fide industrial unionism the safeguard we ask, and the guarantee that their interests will be so protected, that employers will not be permitted to make use of other organizations as a convenience in their endeavour to overcome certain difficulties that may arise in various industries, a great suspicion will arise in the minds of the workers concerning the merits of this Bill, and the source from which it emanates. The secretary of the Australian Workers Union at Moonta has written to me as follows : -
The following resolution was carried at our meeting this evening: - “That we, the mining section of the Australian Workers Union, protest against the indecent haste of the National Government in rushing through the Industrial Peace Bill, as it does not provide for recognised organizations.”
– They are under a misapprehension, because the Bill does provide for recognised organizations.
– I do not think they arc under any misapprehension. The Bill as it stands does not providefor recognised organizations.
– But if the definitions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are included, the omission will be rectified.
– The Prime Minister has intimated that he will include those definitions.
– Their inclusion will not help matters very much.
– They will provide that parties under this Bill will be in exactly the same position as parties under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– This is one of the definitions inthe Conciliation and Arbitration Act which the Prime Minister proposes to have inserted in this Bill: -
Any association of not less than 100 employees engaged in any industrial pursuit or pursuits whatever, together with such other persons, whether employees engaged in any industrial pursuit or pursuits or not, as have been appointed officers of the association and admitted as members thereof.
Nothing is said about the recognition of a bond fide organization. Seeing that any body of men not numbering less than 100 persons could form an organization and assert that they represent the em ployees of a particular industry, the Prime Minister’s proposal could not possibly be satisfactory to organized labour. If honorable members are anxious to conserve industrial peace, and protect the interests of those who are sincerely desirous of helping to frame legislation which will overcome industrial difficulties, they must give to organized labour greater security than is now provided in the Bill, (particularly in respect to the guarantee asked for in the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) on behalf of the Leader ofthe Opposition (Mr. Tudor). This part of the Bill is regarded by organized labour throughout the Commonwealth as its most vital part, and upon the decision of the Committee in regardto the principle embodied in this amendment will very largely depend the success or otherwise of the Bill.
– The honorable member would not vote against the Bill under any consideration if he thought he would lose it.
– I am not greatly enamoured with the measure, nor are those people whom I consulted at the week-end, because they realize that much that is desirable has been omitted, and feel that the time of the House could have been better devoted to an extension of the powers of the Federal Arbitration Court. I urge the Committee to grasp the seriousness of the situation, and the necessity for giving due consideration to an amendment which bears the indorsement and sanction of organized labour. We cannot feel assured of the successful operation of the Bill if the safeguard of recognition is not given to organized labour.
.- I am pleased my friends opposite are now beginning to realize that the amendment I submitted and withdrew was something which they could have accepted.
– The honorable member withdrew his amendment and accepted the amendment suggested by the Prime Minister.
-Yes, because it goes further than mine went. It was my desire to protect bond fide unions in Australia against any body whichmight have about them any suggestion of being “scab” unions. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has quoted
– Are we not now dealing with a Bill quite distinct from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act ?
– But the Prime Minister lias met the objections raised to this Bill by promising to include in it certain definitions contained in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the moment they are included it will naturally follow that the organization which will secure benefits under this measure must necessarily be an association registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When I was discussing this question with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) he showed me a recognised legal authority, which stated that an Act which is passed embracing the same subject-matter as that covered by an existing Statute cannot, unless it is expressly stated to the contrary, de prive any person of his rights under the existing Statute. The position becomes very much stronger when the definitions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are included in this Bill. The unions to be dealt with are those which to-day. are registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Our- friends apposite are asking the Committee to adopt a new definition, providing that the persons to take part in proceedings before tribunals shall be members of the bona fide trade union representing the industry as recognised by the Trades Council in the district or State. But in all the States there are organizations which are antagonistic fo Trades and Labour Councils. They have no time for them, and are really working in direct opposition to them.
– -*Yet they are recognised by them.
– That is so, but if a question arose as to which of them was to be the deciding factor there would be an interesting “ scrap,” since, although’ they are supposed to be bound together by the bonds of brotherhood when it comes to a question of securing privileges or the recognition of rights, they can fight amongst themselves just as well as can any other section of the community. If we provide that an “ organization of employees “ shall mean an organization which is registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, no question as to a bogus organization can arise, nor can any point be raised, as to how that organization came to be registered. It has been urged that this definition would not cover the coal miners’ organization of which Mr. Willis is secretary. I have inquired from Mr. Stewart, the Industrial Registrar, and am informed by him that it is registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– The president of that organization has just told me that it is not registered, and will have nothing to do with the Court.
– I telephoned to Mr. Stewart a few moments ago, and was informed by him that Mr. Willis’s organization is registered under the Act, so that it would be covered by the definition I propose.
– It would not agree to come under this Bill if, in order to do so, it had. to be registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It repudiates the statement that it is registered under it.
– The fact remains that it is registered under it, and is taking advantage of all that that registration gives. That is to say, it can sue its members for subscriptions, can hold property, and can exercise other powers under the Act.
– I think the honorable member is wrong I do not know of a case where it has sued a member for arrears of subscriptions.
– But, being registered under the Act, it has power to sue. The fact that it is registered does away with the objection that the men in the industry with which we are principally concerned at the present time would not take advantage of this Bill. If the suggested amendment be agreed to the legitimate rights of trade unions will be absolutely protected. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has changed his views in regard to this matter.
– He is not prepared to po as far as the honorable member thinks he is.
– I understood him to say that he would insert in the clause a definition of “ association.”
– The definition that appears in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– Quite so.
– But he has not inserted that definition, and his promise cannot be carried out. There are pages of definitions in the Act.
– That is not so. The Prime Minister cannot insert the promised definition until the amendment has been disposed of.
– And when he proposes it I shall have no difficulty in showing that it will not meet the object that the honorable member has in view.
– If that is so, I shall do what I can to reach’ my objective. It may be necessary to recommit the clause, and I am sure the House would agree to that, should it be necessary, in order that this question may be satisfactorily dealt with. I desire to help the honorable member for Hunter in every direction but I am not going to vote for his amendment, since I think it would give rise to a great deal of trouble, and at the same time would fail to achieve the object lie has in view.
.- The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) appear to be much concerned as to whether the industrial- organizations will work under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act or under this Bill. The Prime Minister has become involved in something of a tangle. He talked about the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) “ walking outside himself,” “ walking all about himself and coming back again,” but his own explanations in reply to various questions put to him showed that he also was “ absent from the body.” I do not know whether he was “ present with the. Lord “ or where he was, but he certainly did not elucidate the point raised by the Opposition as to the particular organization which would be called upon to act, in the event of an industrial dispute. My belief is that the industrial organizations outside will go on their way regardless of this Bill.
– That is to say, they will be a law unto themselves.
– If the Industrial Peace Bill commends itself to the men in the industrial organizations outside - if they think that they can gain anything by going to the tribunate for which it provides - they will avail themselves of it. If, on the other hand, they think they can gain nothing, from them, then the Government may have their special tribunals, as provided for in the Bill, but we shall not have industrial peace. Despite what honorable members may say, that is the actual position. Honorable members appear to be surprised and shocked, but I invite them to throw back their minds to what happened in connexion with the Newcastle coal-mining trouble in New South “Wales in 1917. The employers, through their agents, the National Government then in power in New South “Wales, tore up, so to speak, the Mining Act, under which a man was not allowed to work in the face. of a mine unless he had been engaged in coalmining for two years, and all the “ riffraff “ of the country was gathered together to act as “ scabs.” What did the employers care about industrial organizations as long as they could get out the “coal?
– The men who came from the country districts were not “.riff-raff.”
– I said nothing about the men who came from the country. The honorable member cannot put words into my mouth. I had in mind the “ scab “ bureau which was opened ‘ in Collinsstreet, Melbourne, and which gathered men from all quarters, regardless of whether or not they belonged to any organization, to work in the coal mines. All that was desired was to get out the coal. And what for? To help John Brown and Company. Did we hear anything then in regard to industrial Tribunals or arbitration Courts? Not much. If that was good for the “ bosses/’ it cannot be bad for the industrial unions to play the same game. And so it goes on. The employers, when they are in control, do not bother about industrial organizations unless it be to try to “ break “ them. We have had a great deal of talk as to bringing in these organizations, whether they register under the Bill or not. I gave the Prime Minister a case in point as affecting Broken Hill. A handfull of men there registered under the State Act and Judge Edmunds went to Broken Hill and solemnly gave them an award. But the thousands of workers in the industry refused to have anything to do with the Court. The only resUlt of the award was that thousands did not work and no sulphide, lead, or zinc was produced.
– That is the point.
– Of course it is, and the Prime Minister recognised that it was when he side-stepped the question I put to him. He has been a party to the appointment of -a chairman of a Tribunal for an unregistered organization that is representative of the men at Broken Hill. When the State Court made its award the thousands of miners at Broken Hill said, “You can have your award, but it will not produce lead or zinc”; and it did. not. In connexion with the coal-mining trouble at Newcastle in 1917 the State Government tore up an Act that was designed to protect the miners. What, then, is the value of safeguards in this Industrial Peace Bill? If an industrial upheaval took place to-morrow, would there not be a special meeting of Parliament, constituted as it is, to tear up the safeguards given the industrial unions. If the Government received orders from the industrial exploiters to take that action they would quickly do so, just as the National Government in New South Wales tore up the Mining Act’. We must look at the facts fairly and squarely. We must recognise that, whether safeguards for organized labour are provided or not, organized labour outside, if powerful enough, will be recognised by the Parliament. But all the safeguards that could possibly be introduced into the Bill would not be worth a snap of the finger -if organized labour were not powerful. In such circumstances the Government would not Tecognise it. If industrial labour is strong enough to force recognition we shall be in the same position, as our friends in Russia. We shall be the organization de facto even if we are not the “ recognised “ organization. The Prime Minister will appoint the chairman of a tribunal to see whether or not we are to have industrial peace. The Allies will not recognise the Soviet Government, but they appoint commissions to decide all sorts of trade questions. That being so, we have the substance, and the other” side can have the shadow.
.- There is a very strong suspicion that the Bill as presented to the House was reared in an atmosphere utterly foreign to trade union principles. It is absolutely at variance with them. I am justified in making that statement since the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) yesterday had to admit in .this Chamber that he did not know ‘ whether there was any provision in the Bill for the recognition of unions. Those who follow the reports of meetings of the various Chambers of Commerce in Australia must know that they have repeatedly, and in no unmeasured terms, condemned the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They are .god-fathers of this Bill, and believe that by means of it they may be able to defeat the attempts of trade unions to secure improved conditions. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) has tried to show that the only safe course to follow in this matter is to follow the lines laid down by the Conciliation «nd Arbitration Act. When arbitration was first proposed in the various States, industrial unions were practically confined to mechanics, and since then, unskilled labour and professional labour have been organized, although the great increase in the number of unionists is caused by the addition of the former. Skilled labour, in its desire for better conditions, made sacrifices, and urged unskilled labour to organize itself. Skilled labour does not worry about a Bill like this, or about the Arbitration Court, because it is strong enough to demand what it considers reasonable. Neither does the Journalists Association nor the union of the legal profession attach any importance to a measure of this kind, because, like skilled labour, each is strong enough to look after its own interests. This Bill is an effort to do1 something for the benefit of unskilled labour in the community, and all we ask is that there shall be a definition of those trade unions or labour oragnizations who may take advantage of the proposed Tribunals. If the amendment is not accepted by the Government, or approved by the Committee, the Bill will not be acceptable to unskilled labour, and should not be. However radical the honorable member for Broken Hill (Mr. Considine) may be considered by some honorable members, he has certainly spoken some words of wisdom, pointing out that this is a Bill emanating from gentlemen who are entirely opposed to the interests of labour, and, therefore, not likely to inspire confidence in the working section of the community. Those who represent vested interests are not desirous for a Bill which will give labour an opportunity to better its conditions. I am surprised that the Prime Minister, who was ‘prepared to give the country a Conciliation and Arbitration. Act, is not prepared to accept the amendment, especially in view of the changes that have taken place in .the labour world since the passing of that Act. In legislation of this kind, the advice of Mr. Justice Higgins, who has displayed a very open mind in all matters brought before him, should have been sought and accepted. That gentleman is a man of exceptional ability, and a student of the subject, and would have proved a valuable servant to the people of Australia if he had been asked to suggest proposals for removing industrial unrest. But nothing of the kind has been done, simply because Mr. Justice Higgins and the Prime Minister cannot agree on every point. These two gentlemen do not seem to run in the same groove.
– Order ! The honorable member is going outside the scope of the amendment.
– I am endeavouring to show that this amendment is the outcome of the thoughts of others besides those who sit on this side’ of the House; and if the Temporary Chairman cannot see that my remarks are relevant, I am sorry. It is to be regretted that you, sir, have not risen to that high intellectual plane necessary for the position- you are now occupying ; but I think that, after my remarks, you will agree that 1 am right, and that you are wrong. Even at this time, I think the Prime Minister might see his way to accept the amendment. He admits that there is no definition of organizations which are to approach the Tribunals, and it is necessary that there should be a definition about which there can be no difference of opinion. There are unions, such as those of the whiteworkers, who, by reason .of the technicalities raised by the employers and the expense attached to proceedings, are unable to approach the Arbitration Court, and these might very well come within the operation of /i Bill of this kind. It will be most regrettable if, through lack of confidence on their part, such workers withhold their assistance and cooperation; but, like a nation going to war, they have no faith in their enemy, and the past industrial history of Australia justifies their attitude. I would go so far as to say that only unionists should have the benefit of the Bill; and I can remember, some thirty-five years ago, the present Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) declaring that unionists and non-unionists could not work together - that if there was one thing on earth that could not be done, it was to make them work together. Then, again, there was a case in Adelaide, when a medical man refused to visit a certain house because there was a doctor there who did not belong to the medical union. The Prime Minister knows these facts as well as I do, and he should afford honorable members on this side every facility in their efforts to provide that only members of unions shall approach the Tribunals, for without’ such an amendment the Bill will not be worth the paper upon which it is printed. Once the suspicion is created amongst the workers that the Bill is intended for their injury, and not their benefit, it will take a long time to remove the impression, even if it be a mistaken one; but unless the amendment is inserted, the workers are not mistaken in their judgment. This amendment is not proposed hurriedly, or with any idea of killing the Bill, but only after being well thought out. Without the confidence of the workers, we might as well have no Tribunals at all. They must feel that the Tribunals are appointed with an honest intention to remove misunderstandings, and to decide the many industrial questions that arise; and, in my opinion, the Prime Minister is making a mistake in refusing to accept the amendment. If the right honora’ble gentleman were now a member of the Labour party, instead of being on the other side, he would see that this and other amendments from the Opposition are proposed with the sole idea of inspiring amongst the workers the fullest possible confidence in the proposed Tribunals.
.- It must be granted by the Prime Minister and others that the amendment raises a very important question in connexion with this Bill, or, indeed, any Bill having for its object the prevention of industrial unrest. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act rests upon the principle of the organization of employees and of employers. It was sought in that measure to do away with a kind of guerilla warfare between individuals or isolated bodies of workers and employers. For that reason we based the Act upon organization. It was to that fact that we owe some of those brilliant defences of the principle of preference to unionists with which at various times the Prime Minister has favoured this House and the country. In the Bill as introduced there was no definition of the word “ employee,” and no reference to any organization of employees. That was a curious, and, it seems to me, a most sinister omission, lt must be apparent that if that defect were not remedied, it would be fatal, because it would be hopeless to expect honorable members on this side to recommend the Bill to the favorable consideration of the country unless we knew how far the Government was prepared to recognise organized industrialism, and how far it was prepared to recognise certain kinds of organizations of industrialists. I think that the Prime Minister was not ingenuous yesterday when, -first of all, he told the honorable member for Adelaide that he could not accept his amendment, because we would have to deal with employees who were npt organized, and when afterwards he told me that he would accept the definitions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act so far as they applied to organization. The definition, if I have gathered aright, not having had the advantage of hearing the observations of the right honorable gentleman, which he is prepared to accept as the definition of “ employees,” is sub-section b of section 55 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which reads -
Any association of not less than 100 employees in, or in connexion with any industry, together with such other persons, whether employees in the industry or not, as have been appointed officers of the association and admitted as members thereof.
Those persons are not organizations within the meaning of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but they are a class of persons who may apply to be registered as an organization under that Act.
– They are an association until they are registered.
– They are an association only, and may qualify themselves to be registered as an organization. On the other hand, they may be rejected as an organization for any one of the large variety of reasons set out in the Act under the rules and regulations framed under the Act.
– They need not be registered in order to come within the purview of this Bill.
– That is so. But the Prime Minister, if I- understand the matter aright, proposes to accept the subsection I have quoted from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as a definition of “ employees.”
When we come to consider the Commonwealth Council, we find that it is proposed that it shall consist of a chairman and an even number - not less than six– of other members, and that of the members other than the chairman one-half shall be representatives of the employers, and one-half shall be representatives of the employees. When we put that to a practical test, and come to make appointments to the Council, we shall have claims for representation from organizations, that is to say, registered bodies, and also, perhaps, from any number of bodies that may have been refused registration altogether. There is no limit to the number of bodies which may be formed as “employees” under the definition of that term which the Prime Minister is prepared, I understand, to accept, and they may all claim the right to representation upon the Council. I can see that while the employers will be in a perfectly satisfactory position, having their full measure of representation, the representation of employees will be cut up amongst a number of contending bodies who will have no interest in common at all, and it is possible that representation supposed to be of the employees will be more repugnant to organized labour in this community than are the employers themselves. The organizations truly representative of labour may be outnumbered and outvoted by various bodies of employees.
– Supposing a de facto dispute, and that one of these fragments of an industry secures representation on the Tribunal, and the Tribunal gives a decision of some sort. Would it bring about industrial peace if the fragment securing the decision represented, it might be, only one-tenth of the industry?
– It would not. But that is an argument against the whole policy of conciliation. The same argument might have been used, though I have never heard it used by the right honorable gentleman in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the registration of organizations. There will always be a certain disgruntled few who will not join any organization, unless it be an association from which they hope to get some special advantage when trouble arises. If we hope to bring about industrial peace we .cannot expect to con sult every individual. We must recognise some class of organization as standing for labour in a particular industry. I cannot imagine any scheme under which the Prime Minister could expect to have every employee and his eccentric opinions and claims represented on this Tribunal.
– What chance would such a person have for appointment if he were so unrepresentative?
– He would have no chance of appointment if, as I understand, the Prime Minister is now prepared to limit the definition of “ employees “ to associations of not less than 100 members.
– I do not think that he is. ‘
– I confess myself still in doubt as to what is going to be the effect of this measure if “ employees” is to be defined in the terms of the subsection I have ‘quoted. .If that is all that is necessary to constitute employees entitled to representation on these Tribunals we shall be pursuing a retrograde course from that which we shaped when we said that- employees means registered organizations, and that in order to become registered an organization must satisfy the proper authority that it represents the majority of employees and interests in connexion with a particular business. It must show that it occupies the ground as employees, and if others come in rivalry to obtain the benefit of registration, they must show that there is not already in existence an organization to which they might conveniently and properly belong. If they can show some special reason why they should be regarded as a separate organization they may be entitled to registration. Under this measure, so far as I can gather, the persons who are to be called “employees” are any loosely associated bodies of 100 members. The ground may already be occupied by a registered organization, but the Government propose to recognise a rival body, and it might be a rival body which has been created in a moment or in an hour for a special purpose in connexion with a dispute, and merely in order to outvote and destroy the influence of the genuine employees in an industry.
I confess that I have never had very great confidence in the Bill. It has always appeared to me that if this effort had been devoted to amending the Conciliation and Arbitraion Act on the lines suggested by the Judges, and, perhaps, also by incorporating some of the provisions of this Bill, we might have done some really useful service for the community. I am afraid that, however much we approve the object of this Bill, which is supposed to function parallel with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but which will really be found to conflict with it and create a desire on the part of employees and employers to pass from one Tribunal to the other, we are doomed to be disappointed by its effect. It is upon the definition of “ employees” and “ organization “ in this Bill, and the exactness of the definition of those terms, that any possible success from the operation of the measure will depend. Those definitions should have been included in the Bill. They should have been printed and circulated before we were asked to proceed further with its consideration.
Question - That the definition proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following definition ‘be inserted: - “ Organization “ in reference to employees means an association of not less than 100 employees engaged in any industrial pursuit or pursuits whatever, together with such other persons, whether employees engaged in any industrial pursuit or pursuits or not, as have been appointed officers of the association and admitted as members thereof.
This amendment will bring the Bill into line with the Arbitration Act, which defines an association as - . . any trade or other union, or branch of any union, or any association or body composed of or representative of employers or em’ ployees, or for furthering or protecting the interests of employers or employees.
This matter has been discussed at considerable length by honorable members who voted in favour of the last amendment. ‘In ray opinion, the amendment I am now submitting is perfectly satisfactory, and in the practical working out of the measure there will be neither confusion nor room for confusion. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), speaking on the last amendment, put forward a hypothetical case. He stated that under the. Arbitration Act an association of 100 persons could apply for registration. Their application would be scrutinized by the proper authorities, and, if thought fit, granted. That association would then be registered under the Act, and be eligible for its benefits and liable to the penalties imposed thereunder. The honorable member proceeded to point out that, under this measure, there would be no registration and no scrutiny of associations which made application. All I have to say to that point is that if the honorable member thinks that machinery for registration’ is desirable, and would of itself be a sufficient guarantee, such machinerycan be provided in the Bill. The honorable member omitted to point out that, under section 62 of the Arbitration Act, the Governor-General may, by proclamation, declare the Act to apply to any association, whether registrable under the Act or not.
– Is it the intention of the Prime Minister to include that section in this Bill, or to insert a definition of organization?
– That will not be required. I am dealing with the argument of the honorable member for Batman that, under the present Act, registration ia a safeguard for the union. I am pointing out that under that Act unregistered associations can be dealt with by proclamation. And as the Tribunal to be appointed under this Bill can only be brought into existence by the action of the Governor-General, the same machinery can deal with the association, and the same scrutiny as to its bona fides can be applied as under the Arbitration Act itself. I stated on the second reading that this Bill is not intended to supersede the Arbitration Act. It is intended to deal with special cases - those de facto disputes which from time to time paralyze the community, and for the settlement of which there must be machinery. The policy of the Government and, I hope, of Parliament, is to provide adequate means for peaceful legal redress of disputes. It is a reflection on this Legislature that the machinery provided so far has been inadequate. There have been de facto disputes, notably the gas strike, the seamen’s strike, the engineers’ strike, and the coal-miners’ impending dispute, which were outside the purview of the Court, or, at any rate, were not dealt with by the Court. This Bill will provide machinery for dealing with what may.be called extraordinary cases.
– I take it that if unions desire to go to the Arbitration Court they will still be at liberty to do so, and that this Bill is intended only to meet cases in which the parties interested prefer to go to an Industrial Board ?
– That is so. Earlier in the day, in reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), I said that I did not pretend that this Bill will cover the whole of the industrial field as in my opinion it ought to be covered, but that it is a measure which exhausts our limited powers under the Constitution.
– It is more of a conciliatory measure than anything else.
– Yes. The first part of it is wholly conciliatory. The second part is intended to deal with those extraordinary outbursts in the industrial world which may be likened to epidemics of disease in the physical world, such as bubonic plague and small-pox. Against the outbreak of such diseases special precautions have to be taken. Similarly, we have to adopt special precautions against these extraordinary industrial outbursts. We propose to deal with them by means of this Bill. I wish honorable members to entirely disabuse their minds of the idea that the measure is intended to supplant the machinery of the Arbitration Court. Nothing of the sort. It is intended to supplement it. It is designed to deal with those cases which are not dealt with by that tribunal. It seeks to remove every legitimate cause for direct action, so that no union with a grievance will be able to say that there is no Tribunal to which it can appeal. The fact that at this moment the coal miners have asked me to convene a Tribunal, which for all practical purposes will be a Tribunal under Part IV. of this Bill, is the best proof that such a measure is necessary. I tell the honorable, member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that I am willing to insert any amendment which will insure the protection of bond fide unions. They are assured that if they have a dispute the representatives upon the tribunal which will be empowered to settle it will be selected from their ranks. It would be midsummer night’s madness to do anything else. The point to which I took exception in the amendment which has just been negatived was that the Trades Hall was to determine what was a bond fide union. We could hot agree to that.
– Some disputes may arise between contending bodies of employees.
– In that case the Tribunal will be composed of representatives of either sides. We have to deal with a dispute. If I saw the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) get up and strike the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), which God for- bid ! I would have to deal with a de facto dispute. The Serjeant-at-Arms would be called in, but he would not have to do anything either to me or my colleagues - he would have to deal only with the two combatants. The Bill provides for exactly the same kind of remedy. Its object is perfectly obvious, and I ask honorable members to agree to the amendment.
– The right honorable gentleman has stated that the Bill is not intended to supersede the Arbitration Court?
– That is so.
– Does he not think that clause 17 will bring the Special Tribunals which are to be constituted for the settlement of industrial disputes, into conflict with the Arbitration Court ?
– But that clause is intended to deal only with disputes which arise as the result of the failure of the Arbitration Court to settle de facto dis.putes. Its provisions will became operative only after an award has been made by that Tribunal.
– Will it not interfere with legal etiquette?
– When we come to that clause, I shall be prepared to hear arguments in support of its modification. It was inserted in this Bill to prevent any union saying - as was said by the engineers - that it cannot go into the Arbitration Court, because that Court cannot vary an award. But, obviously, we must do something in cases of that sort. Of course, we can amend the Arbitration Act, and if we do that, necessity for clause 17 in its present form will disappear.
.- This matter has been, fairly well threshed out, and I regret that the Committee rejected the amendment of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor). If that amendment had been accepted, or if some other proposal had been adopted, which would have insured that the rights of industrial unions would be protected, this Bill would probably have met with a very favorable reception at the hands of industrial unions. But, in its present form, it will only engender suspicion in the minds of industrial organizations. I am very pleased that the Prime Minister has made it clear that, these organizations will still be able to have recourse to the Arbitration Court-, if they do not desire to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill. But- there are organizations which will not come under the measure. The Bill provides another avenue by which disputes may be settled without recourse to a strike or lockout. But in order to achieve his object, the Prime Minister has departed from the position which is laid down in other Statutes concerning the registration of unions. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Plundell) stated that the Prime Minister had indicated his intention to include in this measure all the definitions embodied in the Arbitration Act. But the right honorable gentleman has made it clear that he has no such intention.
– I have not. When I was on my feet, I said that I was prepared to include all those definitions in the Bill.
– And to compel unions to be registered under the Arbitration Act.
– I am quite in agreement with the right honorable gentleman. But the honorable member for Adelaide stated that the Prime Minister was prepared to do that.
– I said that we would provide the machinery by which, under this Bill, there can be that close scrutiny of unions which is necessary to prevent bogus unions registering.
– That is quite another matter. In the clause which we are now considering, there is a danger, and I think that the Prime Minister is anxious to guard against it. But in its present form, the clause leaves room for the suspicion that, in the event of an industrial dispute arising, certain men may be employed in opposition to unionists, and if they number more than 100, they may form an organization, and thus obtain all the privileges which this Bill seeks to confer. I do not think the Committee wishes to encourage the formation of bogus organizations, and to permit them to get the benefits of this Bill. Otherwise, there would be no necessity for legislation of this character. The Prime Minister has himself stated that the Bill is intended to provide a fresh avenue for the settlement of disputes. Because of his desire to meet some of the most militant unions in Australia, he has provided that there need be no registration. It is evident that when the Bill was drafted, this defect was not noticed. Only after the debate had been initiated was it disclosed.
– Would it not be well to wait for the definition clause?
– I have it in my hand. If we can get satisfaction upon this particular matter, I believe that the Bill will have a fair passage. But the point with which I am dealing is the crux of everything.
– If provision be made for the registration of the organizations, will that suffice?
– No. The big militant unions will not register under the Arbitration Act. They have become so disgusted at the delays which have occurred, both in the State and the Federal sphere,’ that they will not register.
-If power be given under the Bill to proclaim- a union, as is provided by section 62 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, that would meet the case,
– I do not think so. What we have to do is to make it clear beyond doubt that this legislation has been introduced for the purpose of assisting to bring about industrial peace, and not for the purpose of assisting bogus unions which may be formed in times of industrial turmoil. Look at the position which obtains in a mining district. Quite recently a number of men went from Victoria to fill the places of strikers at the Richmond Main mine, in New South Wales, and their action cost the Government of that State a lot of money after the dispute had been settled. Those men, if they numbered more than 100, could form an association, and come right into conflict with the recognised miners’ organization, which has been in existence there for years. They would probably get an award which would give them entirely different rates of pay from those recognised in that industry.
– Would not the Court have regard to all the conditions that obtained in the industry?
– I am afraid not. I fear that under this clause the men employed in the colliery I have mentioned would be able to establish a separate organization, and thus secure a Board to which matters in dispute could be referred for adjustment. If those men cut into the conditions obtaining in the industry their action would be resented.
– That is the very reason why such an award would not be made. It would make for industrial unrest.
– I recognise the fairness of the honorable member, and I know what he would do in the circumstances. But, unfortunately, everybody is not constituted alike. I fear that the men composing these Boards would not take such a fair view. They would say, “ It is laid down in black and white in an Act of Parliament that if there are more than 100 men employed in an industry they may form a Board and bring their grievances before it.” I need hardly remind honorable members that the decision given in the case of these men might affect thousands of other employees in the industry. Sup-» pose there came again the days of cutthroat competition, an award of that kind might be the means of bringing down the wages of all employed in an industry, which would cause a strike, and later there would have to be another award. YOU must have uniformity . in the conditions of any big industry; you cannot permit associations of 100 or more persons to obtain Special Tribunals, because if you do so you destroy all your arbitration legislation, and prejudice the workers against that means of settling disputes.
– Could not the difficulty about bogus unions be got over by requiring registration, and the difficulty about genuine unions that will not register be got over by providing the power to draw them in by proclamation?
– That might be done. I am not so much concerned about the big militant unions.
– They can look after themselves.
– Yes. My desire is to get these big unions to accept our legislation, so that there may be no trouble.’
– You cannot do that if they will not register; but there will be no need for them to register if the right to proclaim is retained, and you can prevent the bogus unions by insisting on registration where there is no proclamation.
– I would like the Prime Minister to devise means for mak. ing it clear that the existing unions in an industry shall be the parties to be recognised. I know from the experience of a life-time that any other arrangement will mean failure. The members of my own union want legislation to prevent trouble. They are too strong for the Arbitration Court, and it is the country that will suffer if means cannot be devised for settling their disputes. Under the proposal now before us an association of 100 or more persons could obtain recognition, and that would bring them into conflict with all the other workers in the industry, which is what we should try to prevent. We are not asking for an advantage for certain organizations, because they are able to look after themselves; but we wish to be able to prove to them that we have provided better machinery for the settling of disputes, of which they can avail themselves. We wish to show them that non-union organizations will not be recognised. Such organizations count for nothing, because they spring up like mushrooms when trouble arises, and disappear as quickly. Our desire is to keep the wheels of industry moving. If it were provided that the existing organiza-.tions m an industry should be recognised, the Committee would be almost unanimous in regard to the Bill. Had the amendment which has just been rejected been agreed to, the Bill would have been passed in a very short time, because there are only one or two other matters on which there would have been debate, and we could have recommended the measure to the industrialists as one worthy of favorable consideration. But we cannot do that if the amendment now before the Committee is agreed to. No one who has been connected with industrial unionism for a life-time can ask his organization to accept such an amendment. It cannot be said that there has been any display of party spirit in this debate. But if the present amendment be insisted on we shall have to vote against the Bill on the third reading, which is what we do not wish to do. It is satisfactory to know that the measure is intended only to cover cases which are not covered by the Arbitration Act, and to provide machinery additional to that of the Arbitration Court. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amending of the amendment in such a way that bond fide trade unionists will know that it is they who will be recognised when the Bill becomes law. If that is done, there will be very little trouble.
– The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) seems to think that a bogus organization might be blocked by requiring registration, but the Bill makes no provision for that.
– The Prime Minister offered to make the necessary amendments.
– It is a pity that he and the member now ‘leading the Opposition could not confer.
– There is at present a considerable amount of discontent, but no one desires strikes, because they mean an immense amount of suffering, especially for the wives and families of the strikers, and throw the community into turmoil. The Bill has been ill-considered by the Ministry and by the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman argued yesterday that it contained certain provisions, but afterwards he found that they were not there, and promised that he would insert them. He has referred over and over again to the shipping tribunal, which, he said, has so adjusted matters that “there has been no dispute in connexion with shipbuilding during three or four years. Honorable members opposite might not approve of the constitution of that tribunal, nor might they approve of all its decisions. From the first, the industrialists have had confidence in it, and all its decisions have been in’ their favour.
– When we come to compete with the world, that cannot continue.
– To-day, and for some years past, we have been building ships more cheaply than we could get them built abroad. What we are now considering is legislation for the establishment of tribunals to deal with a variety of industries, and if we were rightly setting about the amendment of our industrial law, we would incorporate many of the provisions of the Bill in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. This party stands for conciliation and for arbitration. The Prime Minister has spoken as though it were now for the first time proposed to establish round-table conferences, when, as a matter of fact, the President and the Registrar of the Arbitration Court have power to bring together the parties to an impending dispute ; and over and over again differences have thus been threshed out, and agreements have been come to which have been registered as awards of the Court. I consider that this piece-meal method of legislating will make confusion worse confounded. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has made it plain that the industrialists of this country view this measure with suspicion ; and, in my opinion, their attitude is justified. If honorable members earnestly desire to secure industrial peace, they should be prepared to give consideration to the claims of the 700,000 unionists of Australia. If the community were divided into classes, the organized industrialists and those who depended on them would be found to constitute the larger part of the population. They are the real producers. It is they who are doing the work which is making Australia progress.
– The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the amendment.
Mr.FENT ON. -We complain that the proposed definition is altogether unsatisfactory, and too limited ; and I am afraid that, if it is agreed to, the Bill will notbe a success. The Prime Minister has evidently made up his mind to do nothing more for us: The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith) knows that he has no power to accept any suggestion from this side of the chamber. Only the Prime Minister can do that. As soon as he says “ I am prepared to accept that suggestion “ all the members on the Government side readily acquiesce.
– Why is not the Prime Minister here?
– He has multifarious duties to perform,but this legislation is most important, and he, as the Minister in charge of it, is the only one who can assent to any proposition from this side. We had an experience of that yesterday. There were expressions of opposition from the Ministerial side to a suggestion from this side, but when the Prime Minister accepted it Ministerial supporters were unanimous in accepting it.
– The Prime Minister explained this clause fully over and over again.
– But the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has this afternoon put up an exceptionally strong case, as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) will admit.
– I know, and I know also that it has been replied to.
– The fact remains that we are not meeting with the fair treatment that Ave ought to get in connexion with this measure. I am afraid that when it goes through this legislative mill it will be found to be such an immature, ill-considered piece of legislation that the unions will say, “ Instead of being in a more, satisfactory position, we are in a worse position. We repudiate this legislation, and you are where you were before you started on it.”
.- The fact that such an amendment as this is moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) will be admitted by all members of the Committee to be evidence that the measure was ill-considered before it was placed before us, because the amendment is a very vital one. The Prime Minister explains that it is intended to place industrial unions on the same footing under this measure as under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. We must all admit that there is great difficulty in bringing forward any measure that will completely do away with industrial unrest. The Prime Minister does not claim that this measure will do so, but he does claim that it will be a vast improvement on existing legislation. I do not view with suspicion a. measure because of the source whence it comes. I do not view this Bill with suspicion merely because it happens to be fathered by the Prime Minister. We must judge a Bill by what is contained in it, but, although the Prime Minister would have us believe that the amendment he now proposes will largely meet the objections put forward from this side, in my opinion it merely has the effect of making it appear that the Prime Minister intends to give to industrial unions that recognition and relief to which they are entitled, though, in fact, he does not. Under the Arbitration Act no one but organizations of employers and organizations of employees can make application to the Court. Under this measure, even if this amendment is passed, it will still he possible, so far as I can see, for persons as distinct from organizations to Wing) applications before these Tribunals. As I read clause 15, it will still be possible, even if the Prime Minister’s consequent amendment is inserted, for persons as distinct from organizations to move the Tribunal under it. Having connected these proposed amendments, which no doubt will be carried, as the Prime Minister has the majority, and having made a complete whole of them, I submit that there will still be a loophole left in this measure that is not left in the Arbitration Act; that is, the Tribunal may still be moved by persons as distinct from organizations. Clause 15, as amended, would read -
A SpecialTribunal shall have cognisance -
Of any industrial dispute between an organization of employees on the one hand and employers or organizations of employers on the other hand, referred to it by the persons or organizations parties thereto.
That will still make it possible for persons to move the Tribunal, a thing which is not possible with the Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister, therefore, in bringing forward these amendments, is really not carrying out what I understand to be his undertaking to bring the measure in this respect on to the same lines as the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The Prime Minister might now, by way of interjection, let me know whether he is likely to make it possible under clause 15, as a consequential amendment, for only organizations to move the Tribunal.
– They will not be organizations, but new associations.
– Of course, they are not the same type of organizations as are referred to in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The fact that the Prime Minister brings forward these amendments, which are so vital, is ample evidence to me that this measure, so far as this particular clause is concerned, is intended as a kind of make-believe to the public and to industrial unions that something real and effectual is to be done in order to remove industrial unrest. We have, first of all, the Council, that is going to inquire into the causes of industrial unrest. We do not want any Council to inquire into them. We all know the main causes, and we know that one of them is the fact that profiteering is allowed to go unchecked.
– Order ! The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the amendment.
-In what way ?
– The amendment deals only with the definition of industrial organizations, and not with the causes of industrial unrest.
– It deals with the definition of industrial organizations, with a view to create machinery to be available to organizations to remove industrial unrest. If I am only to discuss the definition, without reference to the other clauses, it is impossible for me to discuss it intelligently. The proposed definition entirely begs the question, and gets away from the real evil. That is, that the causes of industrial unrest are allowed to exist, although they can be dealt with, not only under the power in the Constitution, which enables this measure to be passed to prevent industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, but under other parts of section 51 of the Constitution. If the Prime Minister really wishes to do something that will effectively tend in the direction of removing industrial unrest - and I am sure that in this he would have the support of every honorable member on this side - it would be as well for him first of all to set about removing the causes which we know exist. One of those causes is that the cost of living ‘is allowed to be high, through profiteering. If that cause were removed, and if also those restrictive and tyrannical measures-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member isgoing into a general discussion of the question of industrial unrest, and quite beyond the amendment.
– I am dealing with industrial unrest, and the relation of organizations to it. Am I not allowed to discuss that question?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I do not think the honorable member is putting it in that way.
– I am inclined to think that you are not construing the Standing Orders as they ought to be construed.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member has his remedy.
– I have my remedy, which I shall take if you invite me to take it. If you want that done, I will do it. In the meantime I am endeavouring to persuade you that what I am saying has a bearing upon the amendment that the Prime Minister has moved. It is a vital amendment, which goes to the very foundations of the Bill, and surely I aim1 allowed to refer incidentally to the main causes which we were told existed for the introduction of this measure. I am inviting the Prime Minister to agree to the proposals put forward by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) this afternoon, in preference to his own proposal. He will go a long way to show his sincerity and the sincerity of the Government by simultaneously taking steps to deal with what we know are the causes of industrial unrest. What is the use of our spending hours here talking about appointing Councils to investigate them ? It is like appointing a Commission to ascertain the best gauge to use on the Aus- tralian railways - a matter that was settled long ago. We know what the. causes of industrial unrest are, and we have the means at our hand of removing them ; but, instead of our endeavouring to go to the real root of the question, measures of this sort are introduced, with new definitions of organizations, in order tomake believe to the public, both employers and employees, that they will really deal with the question. I am opposed to the amendment-
– Are you ‘ getting back to the amendment now?
– I noticed that the honorable member was also opposed to the measure, because he voted against the second reading. I am opposed to the amendment because it does not go far enough. It is certainly better than the measure as it stands. It does try to fill in a gap, but it does not fill it up in the proper way. It provides for organizations which need not be registered, and which need not be recognised by any trade or industrial council. It contains a general provision that any 100 persons can come forward and be regarded as an organization. Apart from that, any one person can move a Tribunal. For these reasons I am opposed to the amendment.
-It is rather curious that, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, certain associations mav become organizations, whereas, in the amendment proposed to be inserted in this Bill, an “ association “ means an “ Organization,” reversing the position set out in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When speaking previously I did not have the Prime Minister’s amendment before me. In addition to the objections I have already raised, I wish to point out that this proposed definition refers only to “ organizations of employees,” and proposes to give the meaning of ‘ ‘ association ‘ ‘ to the phrase ‘ ‘ organization of employees,” although an association may be a body which has been already refused registration under the Conciliation, and Arbitration Act. Any body or any number- ‘ of persons, any union, bogus or real, may become an association of employees so long as they have sufficient’ numbers. The Prime Minister foreshadows that he proposes to substitute “ organization “ for “ association “ wherever the latter occurs in the Bill. The proposal may be all right as far as it goes, but when we come to deal with the Commonwealth Council, which is to consist of a chairman and representatives of employers and representatives of employees, what will be the position when there is no reference to any organization or association of employees? Unless we make consequential amendments, the proposal now before the Committee will not ‘help us where the Bill refers to employees only. My main objection to the amendment I have already stated. A body which may be recognised under this Bill may be a registered or an unregistered body of employees or a body which, having applied for registration on the ground that it was fairly representative of the industry, may have had its application refused on the ground that it was not representative of the industry. There is no test provided in the Bill or in the amendment for discovering whether an association of employees is in any sense representative of a particular industry and entitled to speak for it in any dispute.
– It is apparent to any one ‘having experience of the Arbitration Court that the amendment will provide no redress for employees as a whole, or get us over the main defect of the Bill, namely, that which I might term the judiciary to be set up by the Bill, in which provision is made for the representation of organizations which may be non-representative of the great body of the workers. A Judge delivers awards in the Arbitration Court, but, under this Bill, the determining factors in arriving at a judgment will be the proposed councils, which may comprise representatives of non-representative organizations. We have to consider how these councils may be utilized to the detriment of employeesgenerally. If amendments are not inserted in the Bill definitely setting out the position of organizations, we may have on a council, which is part of the judiciary set up by the Bill, three representatives ‘ of employees’ organizations, who are at direct variance with one another.
– A Council cannot give decisions.
– But a Council may conduct an inquiry, the tone of which may be of a character that will interfere with the whole of the industry concerned. If chambers of commerce or employers’ federations are prepared to start “ scab “ organizations, they may secure the representation of those bodies on a council, and gain a distinct majority which will enable the inquiry to be so conducted as to give an entirely erroneous idea of the conditions prevailing in any particular industry. We all know that in the past employers’ organizations have endeavoured to nullify the Arbitration Act, and that the unions have only been able to make it at all effective through the fact that it was a Judge who presided in the Arbitration Court. If “ scab “ organizations, by securing representation on the proposed tribunals orcouncils, can work in with the “ bosses “ against the interests of the main body of the workmen, the consequence will be that the men will not work under the decisions of these tribunals, and confusion will only be made worse confounded. I hope that provision will be made in the Bill so that the status of the employees’ organizations on these councils will be placed beyond doubt. If they are not, the whole measure is doomed to failure, and instead of being conducive to industrial peace, will be an incentive to industrial unrest, if this other class of organization is permitted to assume . any position of authority in connexion with the proposed Tribunals. Personally, I think the real cause of industrial unrest lies deeper than can be reached by such a Bill as this. It is not the lack of machinery to deal with disputes. It is the excessively high cost of living, and the fact that,owing to the untrammelled operations of profiteering, a wage which may be a living wage to-day may be much less than a living wage in a week’s time; and no matter how comprehensive this Bill may be made, it will be quite ineffective in respect to bringing about industrial peace, if we cannot probe down and remove this real and fundamental cause of existing industrial unrest.
Question - That the definition proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Hughes’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The Governor-General may establish a Commonwealth Council of Industrial Representatives.
The Commonwealth Council shallconsist of a chairman and an even number (not less than six) of other members.
The chairman shall be appointed by the Governor-General.
Of the members, other than the chairman, one-half shall be representative of employers, and one-half shall be representative of employees.
The members representative of employers and of employees respectively shall be appointed or elected in the prescribed manner.
.- I move -
That the words “ Governor-General “ be omitted, with a view to’ insert in lieu thereof the words “ President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.”
My desire is to make the council subordinate, and not superior, to the Arbitration Court. As I stated in my secondreading speech, power is given to Special Tribunals to override the Court immediately a decision has been given.
– This has nothing to do with the Special Tribunals. .
– If the clause is passed in its present form it will simply mean that the’ Judge in Arbitration will refuse to carry on. This is supposed to be a conciliatory measure, and, therefore, its provisions should not be in conflict with those in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Personally, 1 would have preferred an amendment of that Act rather than a special Bill to deal with the question. We are now discussing a measure to provide for the appointment of Special Industrial Tribunals.In all probability we shall be amending the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act next week, and I should like to know why this provision cannot be incorporated in the amending measure the Government intend introducing. I have moved this amendment to see whether the Committee are in favour of the tribunals being subordinate to the Arbitration Court. If we give the President of the Arbitration Court power to establish the’ Council of Industrial Representatives it will establish the principle that the Tribunals are subordinate to the Court and not apart from it.
– I do not know how the honorable member’s argument can support his amendment.I can, however, understand his contention that these provisions should be embodied in the Arbitration Act; but I am afraid the honorable member has confused this portion of the Bill with that which relates to Special Tribunals. This clause provides for machinery for creating councils of advice, not to advise the President of the Arbitration Court, whose functions are limited to the settlement ofdisputes within the meaning of the Act, but for the purpose of advising this Legislature, if necessary, as to what means or measures must be taken to deal with an industry as a whole. With that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, as such, has nothing to do; but this Legislature has everything to do with it. Thus it is rather a reflection on this Parliament to say that it is not to have the benefit of the advice of these Councils. It is to this Legislature that the Trades and Labour Councils and the various trade union organizations look. The Conciliation and Arbitration Court is the creation of the Parliament ; and whatever may be said as to the authority that should create a Special Tribunal, the Councils ought clearly to be appointed by this Legislature. This is the proper authority to appoint them. Their functions are advisory. They are not, as the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) seems to imagine, to . make inquiries into disputes. They are to consider what are the troubles from which the industrial body is suffering. They will have no legislativeor executive functions. The Industrial Disputes Committee of the. Melbourne Trades Hall Council, for instance, is an advisory body. It endeavours to conciliate and to bring the parties together; and one of the functions of these Councils will be to consider and report as to what kind of machinery is necessary for such purposes. We hope that there will shortly be an opportunity for the people to express an opinion as to the nature of the constitutional amendments necessary to enable this Parliament to deal effectively, amongst other things, with industrial troubles. These Councils may consider, and report, what amendments, if any, should be made; what kind of Court, if any, should be appointed; and what its functions should be. They may report as to the co-ordination of State and Federal functions, and the prevention of overlapping on the part of State and Federal Courts. All these matters can properly be considered by these bodies.
– Will these Councils be appointed by the Parliament or the Government ?
– By the Governor in Council. The appointments, when made, will be subject, like all other appointments, to the criticism of the House. I hope that the honorable member for Darling will. not insist upon his amendment. I intend to move later in the clause an amendment providing that only recognised organizations of employees shall elect the representatives of the employees.
– We shall agree to that. I have an amendment to the same effect.
– With the assurance that that amendment will be made we can discuss the honorable member for Darling’s amendment, if necessary, when-‘ we come to Part IV. I do not agree that it should be inserted at any point, but here it is clearly unnecessary.
– When I gave notice of an amendment providing that the Chairman of the Council should be appointed by a Judge of the Arbitration Court and not by the Government - my object being to keep the appointment free from politics - I was under the impression that the Council would have greater powers than it is to have. I find, however, that it is merely to inquire and report to the Government, and, that being so, I think the Chairman should be appointed by the Government. I therefore do not intend to put my amendment before the Committee.
.- I desire to place on record the fact that whilst I approve of the machinery that is to be set up under, this measure I believe it will be found later on that there is some duplication. I do not think there is any necessity for these advisory councils. The Tribunals which are provided for later on will be ample, and by providing only for their creation we should lead to economy in the administration of the measure.I move -
That after the word “ six “ in sub-clause 2, the words “ nor more than eight “ be inserted.
My desire is to limit the number of members to be appointed to the Commonwealth Council, and my amendment, if carried, would allow of not more than four representatives of each side, in addition to the chairman.
– I will accept that amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
.-I move -
That after the words “ shall be,” in sub-clause 3, the words “ chosen by agreement between the representatives of employers and employees, or in default of agreement shall be,” be inserted.
I hope the Prime Minister will accept this amendment.
– I will.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That the word “half,” twice occurring in sub-clause 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ third.”
The object of my amendment is to provide for the representation of the general public as well as of employers and employees on the council. The public suffer because of industrial disputes, and they will have to “ pay the piper “ for all these tribunals which are designed to bring about industrial peace. The employee or the employer directly concerned in a dispute today may become to-morrow, in the case of another dispute, a member of the general public. The Committee will recognise that, apart from the direct parties to a dispute, something like 70 per cent. of the people suffer by reason of the dislocation of industry, and have no means of protecting themselves. It is time that we provided for the protection of the general public. When a dispute occurs between employers and employees in an industry, it is an easy matter for the parties to come to an agreement that there shall be an increase in wages, and that it shall be metby a rise in the price of the product of the industry. The increase is thus passed on to the public. The time is coming when this system of working round and round in a circle will have to stop, if there is not to be a snapping of the industrial affairs of the country. I am glad to learn from the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that the coal-miners are beginning to recognise that something in this direction must be done. The honorable member has told us that the miners believe that inquiry by a Special Tribunal would show that their wages could be increased without necessarily involving an increase in the present price of coal.
– Who would elect the representatives of the general public on the Council?
– They would be elected just as the other members of the council are to be elected. All sections of the community should have a fair deal, and I fear that the measure will not be of much avail unless we insert in it the provision I have outlined. From the 70 per cent. of the people who are not directly concerned with any industrial trouble reputable representatives may readily be selected. The representation of the general public on the council will be in the interests of the employers and employees themselves, because in some cases it may do away with the suspicion that the increase in the rates of wages paid in an industry is provided for by raising the cost of the article produced to the general public. If there were direct representatives of the general publicpresent at, a conference, who could subsequently inform the people that the best arrangement possible in the circumstances had beenmade, much would be achieved in the direction of allaying suspicion.
– Does not the honorable member realize that these Councils will not deal with disputes at all ?
– I am well aware of that, but I have already indicated that I do not propose to stop at the appointment of representatives of the public on the Councils. Similar representation must be given upon all the several bodies to be created by this measure.
– Do not the words “ employers “ and “employees” cover the whole of the general public?
– Not when there is a dispute. The great body of the people are neither employer nor employee in industrial troubles; yet their int erests are so involved that they are entitled to direct representation upon any form of tribunal which may be dealing with an issue. My proposition is not anew one; I have voiced these same views for years past. Until the general public are satisfied with any proposed settlement of an industrial crisis, there cannot be freedom from industrial unrest. For those who are interested parties in a. dispute to-day may be merged in the great general public when a dispute arises to-morrow ; and. vice versa, from among the disinterested general public to-day there may be directly involved parties to-morrow.
– Why not give a Judge power to regulate the purchasing power of wages?
– That is another question. It is sometimes easy for parties concerned in an industrial dispute to hold a conference and arrive at some decision, irrespective of the rights and interests of the general public.
– The honorable member says that parties to a dispute to-day may be ranked among the general public to-morrow. If that is so, and representatives of the public are appointed to all tribunals, there will be merely a multiplication of the representation of employers and employees.
– A Special Tribunal will not always be composed of the same personnel. There will be, of course, different industries concerned in different disputes. If any good is to come of this legislation, it will be by reason of the fact that those selected to sit around the table will be actually acquainted with the subject-matter under review. It will be as easy for the Government to provide by regulation for two direct representatives of thepublic as to authorize the appointment of direct delegates from employees and employers. I am of opinion, personally, that these Councils could be done away with altogether. If my first proposed amendment is accepted there will be several consequential amendments, among the most important of which will be the insertion of the words “ and one third representative of the general public apart from the direct parties interested in the dispute or threatened dispute.”
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
.- I cannot understand how it is possible to do what is proposed by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson). I have already stated, while discussing the Bill, that if the working classes of Australia are left to look after the interests of the general public, they will look after them much better than would some organizations brought into being by busybodies who hold their meetings in back parlours, and are responsible to no one, and representative of no one. The workers, most of whom are on the “ bread line,” are the general public. There are really only two classes in Australia - the employers and the employees - there being very few, indeed, who do not come under one category or the other. If the general public are given representation on these councils, machinery will have to be provided to select delegates to represent the public.
– Which is impossible.
– Yes, unless we ask the unions to do it. Who would think, for instance, of asking the Taxpayers Association of Victoria?
– Who are they?
– Yes, who are they, and to whom are they responsible? They are a number ofbusybodies who are responsible to no one, but who have an aptitude for poking their noses in toother people’s business, who hold holeandcorner meetings, and who have a great predisposition for “ limelight.” Then there is an association called the “ MiddleClass Association.” Whom does that association represent, and who are the members? Who gives them authority to speak on behalf of the people of Australia? No one. It seems to be the fashion in Victoria, and in other States, for half-a-dozen people who have “ an axe to grind,” or desire some limelight, to meet in Collins-street, or elsewhere, and pass ponderous resolutions which are sent to every member of this Parliament. I dare say that during the last four years I have received forty such communications from bodies which have sprung up in the night; and the last was that from the Taxpayers Association today.
– Would not the authorities which appoint the Tribunals say who should represent the public?
– There is no middle class in Australia - there is no general public, after we have eliminated the employers and the employed.
– What about the 32,000 signatories to the petition recently presented here?
– Probably most of the signatures were fictitious. It is such proceedings as these that prevent us from taking seriously any idea of giving to these extraordinary organizations or associations the right to interfere in business which is solely that of the working classes of Australia.
– I do not think the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) is serious in submitting this amendment. If he really claims that the general public should be represented, he should outline a scheme for the selection of representatives. Does he propose to take a vote of the whole of the electors of the Commonwealth to decide who this one- third of the representation is to be, or will he accept the Government nomination? If the representation of the general public is to be secured, the chairman should be the representative, because he will be selected by the Government, who should look into his fitness, with that object in view. It is not right for honorable members to attempt to get a certain amount of “ limelight “ by using such catch-phrases as “the general public.” I believe that this amendment was inspired by the letter which the honorable member for Wilmot received to-day, in common with other honorable members, from the Middle Class Association, and in which what that gentleman said last week is brought forward as an argument why we should take certain action to-day. We should not allow this opportunity to pass without giving our reasons why we are against these ridiculous proposals, which, on the face of them, are designed for the purpose of showing that the representatives appointed as proposed in the Bill will not represent the general public.
.- Honorable members opposite, apparently, have not paid sufficient attention to understand the few remarks I made. The authority which appoints these Councils can easily select two people whom they consider will represent the general public. When we come to the special tribunal there is no trouble at all, because there will be represented only the two parties - certain employers and certain employees who are involved in a dispute either threatened or in existence. The representatives then will not be selected as representing the general” public, but as representing the employees on the one hand and the employers on the other in the particular industry involved in the dispute. If the Prime Minister, or the Cabinet, cannot find representatives of the general public for the Special Tribunal, I do not know who can. Honorable members are trying to scout the amendment, and refer to all sorts of associations to which I never alluded. I have raised this question on arbitration legislation in this House before.
– Do you say that the employers and employees, taken together, constitute only 30 per cent, of the population ?
– When there is an industrial dispute on, that is generally so. This Bill is designed to alleviate indus trial unrest, and if we are merely to have 30 per cent, of the population represented on the Council or other bodies contemplated by this Bill, and to permit any rise in wages to be passed on to the public, we are going round in a vicious circle, the very thing of which the people complain. We can now give the public a chance to have their case put; but if we refuse to do so, they will soon see, considering the electoral system now in operation, that they are represented. At an election probably some body like the Middle Class Association will take care to run candidates, for we know that now many candidates may be put forward without involving any split votes - a fact which many honorable members do not seem to appreciate. If the mass of the people are not represented on these bodies, there will naturally arise associations who will run candidates, and instead of two parties, of which honorable members opposite appear to think the country consists, there will be many. That, of course, does not matter under the preferential system of voting ; but the public are entitled to representation. If honorable members do not like my amendment they know what to do.
– I hope the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) will not insist on the amendment. The honorable member, I am sure, does not appreciate the functions of the Council, which are not t’o determine the price of commodities or the wages of workers ; their decisions will have nothing to do with prices. What the public is concerned about is that industrial peace shall prevail ; and these Councils, at any rate, will tend to promote harmony between the two sections which disturb industrial peace. When we come to deal with the Special Tribunal something may be said of the general public, although I say at once that the general public, will be represented, and freely and fully ‘represented, by the chairman.
– I move -
That before the word “ employees,” sub-clause 4. the words “ recognised organizations of “ be inserted.
The effect of the amendment is that representatives of the employees will be chosen from and by recognised organizations. “Recognised organizations” is better than “organizations,” simply because “ recognised “ is a broad term, the meaning of which, in fact, everybody knows. It is those organizations which stand for organized labour, and it is organized labour that this part of the Bill is intended to deal specifically with.
.- I do not quite understand what the Prime Minister means by the word “ recognised.” Recognised by whom? “We have a definition of an organization of employees, but there are organizations of employers, too. I think it would be better to adhere to the word “organization,” without adding “ recognised.”
– I have no objection to what the honorable member suggests, but it is useless for us to shut our eyes to facts. The honorable member asks, “ Recognised by whom?” I reply, “ Recognised by the whole community.”
– But we have a definition of “ organization of employees.”
– The position in regard to employers is quite different. There may be employers who do not belong to the Employers Federation, or any other Federation, but that is not important. Industrial disputes menace the community because of the actions of certain organizations of employees, and it is in order to create conditions which will induce them to preserve peace that these Councils are to be appointed. If we use the bare word “ organizations,” the point raised by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and other honorable members immediately crops up. I can think of no better way of expressing what we mean than by using the word “ recognised,” although I admit that if I am asked by whom such organizations are to be recognised I can only reply that they are recognised. I would not agree to an earlier amendment which provided that the organization should be recognised by the Trades Hall, because the Trades Hall might, owing to some political or other difference of opinion, deliberately black-list a union recognised by the whole community. I suggest that the amendment I have proposed is the best form of words to secure the object we have in view.
.- The amendment is a good one; in fact, I had intended to propose a similar one. We think it necessary that the organizations should be defined more specifically, and I know of no better word to use than recognised.” I take it that the recognised organization will be taken to be the recognised union in existence.
.- Despite what the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has said, it is nor. clear as to what authority shall recognise an organization. The Prime Minister objected to the Trades Hall being the body which should determine recognition; then who does the Prime Minister intend shall accord recognition? If there are two claimant organizations, will the recognition be accorded by the registrar of trade unions, who now determines which union shall obtain registration under the Arbitration Act, or will the determining authority be the President of the Arbitration Court?
– So far as I know, there is no such ambiguity or uncertainty as the honorable member suggests. If he can tell the Committee of any two organizations which are rivals for recognition, we may deal with them. I know of none. .
Mr.CONSIDINE.- The Prime Minister explained a few minutes ago that by “recognised “ he meant “ recognised by the general public”. On the occasion of the last upheaval in the coal-mining industry, the Government were not much concerned with the recognition of an organization by the general public. They then did everything possible against the recognised organization.
– Who recognised that organization ?
– The general public.
– Very well, what more do you want?
Mr.CONSIDINE.- But the Government did not accord the recognition.
– This Bill will.
– The trouble is that the other “ Bill “ did not.
– The two “Bills” were in conflict. The fact remains that these safeguards for the unions are not required while industrial peace is maintained, but in time of industrial turmoil all the safeguards in the world-
– These Councils have nothing to do with industrial turmoil. They are to advise on the general industrial situation.
– Listening to the Prime Minister’s introductory speech, I was under the impression that this Bill marked the last achievment in machinery for the preservation of industrial peace.
– The honorable member must understand that these Councils are to create the trouble which will be settled by the tribunals.
– I understood that the Commonwealth Council and the District Councils were to be representative of employers and employees, and would make suggestions to the Government for the preservation of good relations between the parties, thereby obviating industrial unrest.
– I am still waiting for a suggestion from the honorable member.
– I suggest to the Prime Minister that he should recommit the Bill, and introduce some amendment on the lines of my speech on the second reading. Such a proposal would have some effect on industrial unrest. The multiplication of words in the definition of organization of employees does not give any more protection to the organization than if the additional words were omitted, because the Prime Minister has not stated what authority shall accord recognition. If recognition is to be left to the Ministry of the day, their decision will depend upon the strength of the organization engaged in the industrial fight. The Prime Minister illustrated that fact earlier in the evening when he spoke about different organizations. He first assured us that the bond fide trade union would be the organization recognised, but when he was asked to apply the same method of determining a bond fide organization which operates under the Arbitration Act, he refused to do so.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– The Prime Minister refused to incorporate in the Bill a registration clause.
– I said that I would incorporate in this Bill the same machinery as is in the Arbitration Act, if honorable members opposite so desire.
– But the Prime Minister did not incorporate it.
– I am willing to do so if honorable members opposite can make up their mind as to what they want. But as soon as I attempt to meet one of their objections, they immediately find another one.
– The Prime Minister cannot complain of the criticism which the Bill and his amendments have received. This measure is supposed to represent the Ministerial policy in regard to the prevention of industrial unrest. In the process of discussion, the Governmenthave made amendments in response to criticisms from both sides of the House. Whilst the Prime Minister, by the amendment he has moved, is ostensibly giving something to the unions, he is actually giving them no more than they will have if the amendment be not made.
– Very well; shall we leave out the words I have moved to insert ?
– The inclusion or omission of the words is immaterial.
– You go and march on Warsaw.
– I do not know that that has anything to do with industrial peace in Australia.
– That is the honorable member’s idea of bringing about industrial peace.
– The Prime Minister is doing what he told the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) to do - he is walking around himself. When he returns to his body he may be able to criticise intelligently the march on Warsaw, and to understand the criticism of his own Bill. The amendment does not interfere with the existing industrial organization. It is the powerful organizations that the employers wish .to get before the industrial Tribunals and the Arbitration Court. Organizations like those of the waterside workers and the miners are so powerful that they will be accorded recognition whether recognised by the Bill or not, and it does not much matter whether the Ministry of the day or the Arbitration Court and the industrial tribunals accord recognition to organizations that have power. The de facto organizations will enforce actual recognition, whether they get nominal recognition or not. By tinkering with the Bill by an amendment like this, the Prime Minister is indulging in his old pastime of camouflaging the issue, and is pretending to give something while actually giving nothing.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause 5,all the words after the word “ of,” second occurring, be omitted, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ organizations of employees respectively shall be recommended for appointment in the prescribed manner by the respective employers and organizations of employees.”
The object of the amendment is to state clearly how the members of the Commonwealth Council shall be recommended.No one knows what “ the prescribed manner “ may be. We desire that both parties’ shall make their recommendations, and that the Executive shall prescribe regulations for their appointment.
– That is quite right.
– To be consistent, you should use the words “ recognised organizations.”
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Sittings of the Commonwealth Council shall be convened by the chairman whenever he thinks fit, or at the request of the Minister, or of the prescribed number of members.
– I move -
That the words “ the prescribed number of members “ be omitted, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ one-half of the members of the Board, irrespective of the chairman.”
If one-half of the members of the Board think it necessary to convene a meeting, they should have the power to do so.
. -Ican- not accept the amendment, because it would mean that either party could convene meetings of the Council, whether there were need for them or not, and at any time they pleased. These representatives will receive fees, and it is obvious what the giving of this power might lead to. I am willing to agree, however, to give the power to convene meetings to a majority of the Council.
– I agree to that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the words “ the prescribed number “ be omitted, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ a majority of.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
Amendments (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to -
That the following words be inserted in sub-clause 2 after the word “number”: - “ (not less than six nor more than eight).”
That after the word “ be,” in sub-clause A, the words “ chosen by agreement between the representatives of employers and employees, or in default of agreement shall be “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That in sub-clause 4, after the word “ of “ last occurring, the words “ recognised organizations of “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to-
That in sub-clause 5 the words “ employees respectively shall be appointed or elected in the prescribed manner “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ recognised organizations of employees respectively shall bo recommended for appointment in the prescribed manner by the respective employers and organizations of employees.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Sittings of a District Council shall be convened by the chairman when he thinks fit, or at the request of the Minister, or of the prescribed number of members.
Amendment (by Mr. Charlton) proposed -
That the words “the prescribed number of members “ be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ one-half of the members of the Council, irrespective of the chairman.”
– The honorable member’s purpose would be better served by substituting the words “ a majority of members.”
– I accept that suggestion, and ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the words “ the prescribed number “ be left out, and the words “ a majority “ inserted in lieu thereof.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 11 -
The powers and functions of a District Council shall include the following: -
To inquire into any industrial matter brought before it by a member, or referred to it by the Commonwealth Council or by any employers or employees or association of employers or employees;
to confer with any persons or associations as to any matters affecting the prevention or settlement of industrial disputes;
to summon any person before the Dis trict Council or a Committee thereof for the purpose of conference or of giving evidence;
Amendment (by Mr. Charlton) proposed -
That in paragraph (a) the words “ or employees or association of employers or employees “ be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ or association of employers or recognised organization of employees.”
.- If the honorable member proposes to eliminate the words “ or employees “ he will Limit the powers of a District Council to a considerable extent and prevent it from inquiring into matters, which might be of considerable importance, brought under its notice by employees not connected with any organization.
– Employees in an organization may also bring matters under the notice of a Council off their own hat.
– I accept the suggestion and alter my amendment accordingly to read as follows: -
That in paragraph a after the word “ or,” last occurring, the words “ recognised organization of “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That in paragraph(b)after the word “ any,” first occurring, the words “ persons or associations “ be left out with a view to inserting in lieu there of the words “ employer or recognised organization of employees.”
– Why should the honorable member seek to restrict the power of a District Council to confer with any persons ?
– We prefer to restrict the right to bring matters before a council to employers or organizations of employees who are the parties to disputes.
– But these Councils will not be dealing with disputes.
– That is true. Their functions being merely advisory, there would probably be no objection to widening them as suggested.
– Under the amendment, if Lenin came here from Moscow he would not be allowed to appear before a District Council, and Gompers would not be permitted to say what isbeing done in America. Why should not a District Council, which is simply an advisory body, be allowed to confer with any one? It would be unwise to limit the channels from which it might gather information.
.- Paragraph 6 provides for conferences, but paragraph d provides for calling evidence. I cannot see why a distinction is made. The objection to paragraph b is that a dispute affects no one but employers and employees.
– Of course it affects others.
– It certainly affects everybody, but primarily it’ affects the organizations involved. In any case, a District Council which wished to hear Gompers could secure his evidence under paragraph d.
– A District Council will be composed of recognised unionists selected by their own organizations and employers recommended by the employers, and its function will be to inquire into any industrial matter brought before it by a member or referred to it by the Commonwealth Council or any employer, or employee, or association of employees, or recognised or- ganization of employees. Ib will be its duty to secure information as to the best way of dealing with matters in general. For example, it may wish to inquire into the industrial welfare of the State of New South Wales, and may be desirous of conferring with a man like Professor Meredith Atkinson, who has given a great amount of study to the question of settling industrial disputes, and some time ago delivered a series of lectures before the Trades Hall in Sydney- Why should not a District Council have an opportunity of conferring with him, or with Gompers, if he- came here, or Hodges, or any of the other English Labour leaders, or any one who has ideas as to what ought to be done to remove industrial unrest? I put it, therefore, to the Committee that we ought not to strike out the word “ persons,” since we desire to enable the Council to have access to all sources of information. Paragraph b differs fundamentally from paragraph d.
.- Very well. We will accept the Prime Minister’s suggestion. I desire, by leave, to amend my amendment so that it will read -
That the words “ or associations “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ employer or recognised organization of employees.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
.- The District Councils, like the Commonwealth Council, are not to be invested with any power except the power to meet and talk, read books, have afternoon tea parties, and indulge in any other pleasing function which may commend itself to them. I was unfortunately absent when the Committee dealt with the previous clause relating to the powers and duties of the Commonwealth Council ; but as the District Councils will be only twin brethren of that body, I must express the view that they will prove to be perfectly useless. Under this clause, and the one with which we have just dealt, we shall create a number of public positions, and perhaps harass certain sections of the public by summoning them, under penalties, to give evidence. The Councils will have power, .generally, to make a very wide and interesting range of inquiries - that is to say, interesting to those instituting the inquiries) - but they do not appear to be likely to bring us any nearer a solution of industrial disputes. That being so, then let us not be particular as to the number of persons whom they may invite to give evidence before them. For my part, they might invite Venus and the Man in the Moon to give evidence if they did not see any impropriety in calling upon them to appear before them at the same time.
– They might wish to consult with Lenin and Trotsky.
– The Prime Minister has foreshadowed that possibility. I have it from the representative of Russia on my right (Mr. Considine) that Lenin and Trotsky will be. visiting us at an early date, and that being so it would be just as well to give these useless Councils - if wo are to have them - scope to prove a little more entertaining than they are likely to be .under the clause as it stands. These Councils are quite different from the Special Tribunals with power to act on behalf of employers and organizations of employees; and, therefore, although it may seem somewhat reckless and unprecedented on my part, I do not propose to oppose the Prime Minister’s view of this particular matter.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
The Governor-General may appoint a Special Tribunal or Tribunals for the settlement of any industrial dispute or disputes, or for the prevention or settlement of disputes which have arisen or which may arise in any industry.
.- T desire to point out that the Opposition have kept faith with the Government. Under the motion providing for the limitation of debate we were given until 10 o’clock to-night to deal with the Bill up to the end of Part III. We have already passed that stage, although it is only a few minutes after 9 o’clock. This shows that there has been no desire on the part of the Opposition to obstruct the Bill, and is an evidence of the sincerity of our statement on Friday last that if we were given a fair Tun we would assist the Government as far as possible in passing the Bill.
.- I move -
That the words “Governor-General,?’ line I. be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.”
I have already stated my reasons for proposing this amendment. While a Commonwealth Council and the District Councils will have only advisory powers, the Special Tribunals for which this clause provides will have power, under clause 17, to set aside or vary the terms of an award made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I desire that the Tribunals in their essence shall be subordinate to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I have already pointed out that under the clause, as it stands, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court will inevitably resign immediately the Act begins to operate. No self-respecting Judge will remain in such a position knowing that his awards might be varied by a Tribunal of laymen. No self-respecting barrister would accept an appointment to the Court if it were to be governed in this way by a Special Tribunal.
– That is, provided that clause 17, which gives the Special Tribunal power to vary awards of the Court, is allowed to stand.
– Yes. We have had no information that the Government intend to withdraw that clause. I wish now to ascertain the opinion of the Committee as to whether the Conciliation and Arbitration Court or a Special Tribunal should be. the higher body. I am emphatically in favour of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court being the superior body. If it is not, it will go by the board, since we shall not be able, in the circumstances, to induce any one to carry on its functions.
.- We have now reached a vital part of the Bill involving the determination of a number of matters, and I shall need to have more light thrown on this clause, which provides that Special Tribunals may be called into being by the GovernorGeneral, before I agree to vote for it either as it stands or as proposed to be amended. Part IV. of the Bill may be taken to completely cut away the ground from Under the Conciliation and. Arbitration Court. It may be regarded as doing away with the principle of arbitration, as exercised for many years by Arbitration Courts in Australia, and substituting for it this new type of Special Tribunal. If there is any idea of appointing Special
Tribunals to deal with every industrial question that is. likely to arise, I shall vote against the clause, since it would mean putting an end to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. As the honorable member for Darling has suggested, no self-respecting Judge would remain on the Arbitration Court Bench knowing that. a Special Tribunal had power to set aside his awards. If, however, the Bill has merely been introduced because our power to put in order the whole of our machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes in Australia is limited under the Constitution, then I am not sure that we cannot accept the principle of Special Tribunals.
– This Bill does not put us in any better position so far as our constitutional limitations are concerned.
– I am not suggesting that it does. I am merely suggesting that, instead of amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which would appear to be the reasonable course to take, the Government have introduced this measure because, owing to our constitutional limitations, we cannot legislate for the settlement of industrial disputes from a national stand-point as weshould like to do. If that is so - if this is ‘merely a proposal to provide special measures to deal with special cases - no exception can be taken to it. If we can obtain from the Prime Minister an assurance that the Government, which is given power under this clause to create Special Tribunals, does not intend to take practically every matter out of the hands of the Arbitration Court, but merely proposes to use the power in cases of great industrial disturbance, when it is necessary to act, and act quickly, I am prepared to accept the clause, with this one proviso, that I do not accept the Bill as a finalized measure for the settlement of industrial disputes in this country. At best it can be no more than a measure introduced to tide us over until such time as the Convention sits, and in its wisdom, I trust, gives us full power to deal with the whole industrial question.
– What will happen if the Government which gives the assurance goes out of power?
– That would be unfortunate; but I am prepared to take the risk and I am not nervous. We are giving this power to the Government to appoint Special Tribunals, and I will vote for the proposal only on an assurance from the Government that, while they are in power - and this is all the assurance the Government can give - they will not use it except to appoint the Tribunals in circumstances of serious industrial or threatened serious industrial unrest. If the Government is in a position to give that assurance, I am prepared to vote for the clause.
– The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) has raised ;a question under cover of which we may discuss some of the general principles in Part IV., dealing with the appointment of Special and Local Tribunals. The honorable member has said that this measure could be administered in such a way as to practically take out of the hands of the Arbitration Court all effective jurisdiction over industrial disputes ; and I admit that it could be so administered. The honorable member has also said that if that is the intention of the Government, he feels sure that no self-respecting Judge would consent to continue in an office which would be superfluous and could not possibly reflect any credit on himself or be of any credit to the country. When introducing the measure I tried to make clear what the Government had in mind. I expressed in plain words my appreciation of the fact that this measure could not be regarded as a panacea for industrial unrest or as the last word in industrial legislation. I said that with the present limited power under the Constitution it was impossible to do full justice (to the industrial situation. I further said - which, I think, is undeniable - that the present condition of things is not satisfactory. I pointed out that there is an evil for which there is no remedy; that industrial unrest is a world-wide trouble, from which we suffer very much in this country, although certainly not more than other countries. I added that during the war we had resorted on several occasions to Special Tribunals; that we had been compelled to do this partly because of the limitations on the power of - the Court ; partly because the unions themselves, or some of them, would not recognise the Court; and partly because the circumstances created and arising out of the war precipitated crises which the Court, having laid down the principle that it could not arbitrate when confronted with a de facto strike, declined to interfere with.
The honorable member has asked for certain assurances, and says that he does not approve of the principle of the Government appointing Special Tribunals, or appointing chairmen to Special Tribunals, for the purpose of dealing with industrial disputes. I am not going to argue that point, but I may refer the honorable member to the practice in Great Britain.
– The only point I raise for the moment is under clause 13 - that these Tribunals shall be created only in major industrial troubles, and not for every trouble, thus taking away the power of the Arbitration Court.
– I was going to say that in England the practice of the Government appointing Tribunals to deal with disputes has certainly been found necessary and beneficial. I leave aside now the question of whether the State ought to interfere at all. I think we have come to the point that, whether directly or indirectly, the State must interfere; it is only a question of whether it should interfere through the agency of somebody outside whom it appoints for the purpose, as a Judge, or whether it should interfere directly. But it may be accepted as a basic principle in a civilized country that the State cannot stand idle when there is a dispute, whether industrial or not, that is a menace to the welfare and safety of the country. The honorable member for Flinders asks whether we intend to apply this legislation to all disputes, or only to special disputes that evade or escape the control of the Court. I can answer that question very shortly. It is intended for just that class of disputes and no other. It is intended to deal with those disputes which the Court cannot or does not deal with, either from a failure of its jurisdiction, through the temper of the men, or from any cause. Those disputes must be settled, and the machinery created by this Bill will enable the Court to deal with them. The honorable member also asks whether this measure is to be accepted as £ final instalment of industrial legislation; It is not.
He has said that the Convention, which is to be appointed as the result of legislation this session, will probably make some recommendations to the people; and I hopethat recommendations will be made and accepted that will enable this Legislature to deal with industrial unrest in a very much more effective way than at present.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) referred to the fact of the Courts awarding increases of wages, and the employers paying the increased wage by increasing prices, as a “ vicious circle.” This Parliament has no power whatever to deal with such conditions, and, consequently, industrial disputes occur and recur through high wages being given to meet high prices, and high prices again causing industrial unrest. I hope that the people will give this Legislature, which alone can deal with the matter, the power to deal with this phenomenon.
-Will the Special Tribunal have power to make a common rule?
– It has been held by the High Court that we have no such power. We have to deal with a dispute - we cannot make laws regulating industry. The effect of the decision of the Court in any case begins and ends with the parties to the dispute; therefore this Tribunal cannot do any more than the Court does now - it can deal with a dispute. In order to make a common rule, every one of the parties in the industry must be brought before the Court, one after the other, if they are not all joined together. That is a difficulty inherent in our Constitution, and cannot be remedied.
To summarize shortlymy answer to the honorable member for Flinders, I give him the assurance that the Government intend to use this power for special and not. genera] purposes. It does not intend by this Bill that these Tribunals shall supersede the Arbitration Court. The Government propose to use these Tribunals in cases where the Court cannot deal with de facto disputes, or does not do so.
– What distinction is it intended to draw in clause 13 between “industrial dispute” and “disputes”?
– I think that the adjective ‘ ‘ industrial “ qualifies both nouns, and means industrial dispute or industrial disputes.
– If the words proposed by the amendment are inserted, will they rob the Government of any powers?
– Why not?
– I submit, in all circumstances, that this measure is amply warranted. The necessity for it is obvious, and that necessity has been emphasized in the last few weeks, when those engaged in the coal-mining industry, which is the ‘basis of all industrial operations, have absolutely and point-blank declined to go to the Court, and have asked me to appoint a Tribunal and a Chairman thereto; they will not attorn to any other kind of Tribunal. I am not defending that attitude; but there it is, and will honorable members say that, although the coal miners are prepared to abide by the decision of a Tribunal, we are to court industrial warfare and disaster to the Commonwealth rather than follow the sane and sensible method of settling disputes by the means that are available ? I give the honorable member the assurance for which he asks, and I hope that we shall be able in the spring of next year to introduce a comprehensive measure. I - hope that the people will give us the requisite power; at any rate, they will have an opportunity to do so. If they give us the authority for which we ask, this measure will, in the nature of things, lapse,and we shall be able to deal effectively with industrial unrest without any limitation at all upon our powers.
– Are we to understand that a Special Tribunal will come into existence for a special dispute, and that when the dispute has been dealt with the Tribunal will cease to exist?
– I do not say that. Regard must be had to the nature of the. dispute, and all the attendant circumstances. Take two different kinds of dispute. Suppose we had been dealing with the recent marine engineers’ dispute. When the Tribunal had given its decision, the dispute would have been finally settled. But in the coal mining industry, the dispute will not be finally settled by the mere decision of the Tribunal. We have to consider the working of the industry, and its circumstances and ramifications are such that, in my opinion, the Tribunal must be attached toit as one is attached to the shipbuilding industry. The circumstances of the industry vary so much, and the provocations to industrial unrest are so numerous) that it will be a mistake to appoint a Tribunal merely to settle a particular dispute, and then allow it to lapse.
– And there might be ten tribunals working at one time.
– There might be; but no Tribunal will be appointed except to deal with a special case of industrial unrest that cannot be settled in any other way. But when a Tribunal is appointed, we must consider the effect of its award, and whether the body shall be kept in existence in order to see that the award bears good results.
.- We have reached a stage of the Bill when we can consider the relationship of this legislation to the Arbitration Act. I understand the desire of the Government to be that this Bill shall not supersede the existing legislation. If that be so, the amendment offers an opportunity for the co-ordination of the provisions of this Bill with those of the Arbitration Act. If the President of the Arbitration Court, instead of the Governor-General, is given power to appoint the Special Tribunals, we shall to some extent have co-ordination of our industrial legislation. If, however, such appointments are to be made by the Government through the GovernorGeneral, complications and misunderstandings are likely to arise owing to two distinct authorities operating in the same sphere. If it is the desire of the Prime Minister that this machinery shall merely supplement, and not supersede, the Arbitration Court, he will be merely acting consistently if he agrees to give to the President of the Court the power to create a Special Tribunal.
– I cannot agree to that.
– I think the amendment offers a means of obviating two different sets of machinery being in operation for the settlement of industrial disputes. The Arbitration Court has not been wholly successful, owing to the limitation of its powers. If the Court is given authority to supplement its present operations by the appointment of Special Tribunals under this measure there will be a co-ordination of effort which is very desirable. The amendment will remove a great deal of fear that is in the minds of trade unionists that this Bill is introduced with the idea of superseding the Arbitration Court.
– The unions do not want that, do they ?
– Will the honorable member tell me why the coal miners do not approach the Arbitration Court?
– I have no intimate knowledge of the coal-mining industry, because in the State I represent it is not carried ont o any great extent ; but I feel certain that the coal miners would as soon apply to the President of the Arbitration Court as. to the Prime Minister for the appointment of a Special Tribunal. The majority of unionists do not desire the Arbitration Act to be superseded by this Bill.
– Who appoints the chairmen of Wages Boards in South Australia ?
– If the members of the Board cannot agree as to a chairman, the appointment is made by the Government.
– The system has worked” well enough in your State. In New South Wales, also, the ‘appointments are made by the Government. If I had provided that the appointments should be made by the President of the Arbitration Court, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) would have moved same other amendment.
– That statement is not fair.
– It is absolutely fair. In your own State you raised no objection to the appointments being made by the Government.
– We know that there has been some contention between the Prime Minister and the President of the Arbitration Court in regard to the amendment of our industrial legislation, and naturally a great many people fear that the Prime Minister is introducing this Bill with the object of defeating the operations of the Arbitration Court.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that I am responsible for the coal-mining dispute and for the coal miners askingme to appoint a Tribunal ?
– The right honorable gentleman can speak for himself ; I am stating the facts as I know them. I wish to overcome the existing difficulties and allay the suspicion to which I have referred, and that is why I am supporting the amendment as a means of coordinating the machinery of this Bill with that of the Arbitration Act.
.- The Prime Minister has stated that he intends later to introduce a comprehensive measure of industrial legislation.
– That will be after the Constitution Convention has met.
– I am sorry that the Prime Minister has not announced to the country the Government’s intention to introduce a comprehensive Bill, whether or not the Convention recommends alterations of the Constitution, because very many people have a wrong impression of what is intended by this Bill. A large number of employers, representing nearly all the big industries, are anxious that some use shall be made of the Arbitration Court in conjunction with the machinery proposed in this Bill. Their idea is that a dispute should first be taken to the Arbitration Court, which should determine whether the trouble extended beyond one State. If the dispute were found to be InterState, the Arbitration Court would appoint a Special Tribunal, representative of employers and employees in the industry, to endeavour to reach a settlement at a round-table conference. An announcement of the Government’s intention in regard to more comprehensive legislation would have a good effect upon the people. Possibly the Committee would be wise to accept the amendment.
– No; it cuts through the principle of the whole Bill.
– I- do not agree with the honorable member. The amendment merely suggests a’ different authority for appointing the Tribunals.
– If we carry this, we should recommit clause 5. ,
– I think that something such as is proposed should be done. I am afraid that if the appointments are left wholly to the Cabinet, there may be an opinion abroad that the persons selected do not sufficiently represent the interests involved, and I think that a personnel selected by some one outside the political arena would inspire more confidence. I am sorry that the public has not been made aware that this Bill is only a step in the direction of industrial reform; and unless something further is done, we shall have a system of settling disputes by tribunals running parallel with the Arbitration Court, and one or other system of .settlement will become useless sooner or later. But if the prin ciple in this Bill be grafted on to what is good in the Arbitration Act, a workable measure will be got. The Prime Minister would be well advised if, as soon as circumstances will permit, he got into touch with the employers and employees, who between them would be able to draft a Bill which next session would be able to take the place of this.
– If they will do so, I shall be very glad to accept it.
– I do not think the Prime Minister will have any difficulty in getting these people together, and if he does so it will be a step in the right direction.
– I am opposed to the amendment, because I wish to be able to criticise in this Chamber any appointment of a Special Tribunal. If the anointments were made by the President of the Arbitration Court, the Speaker would not permit us to criticise them, because he would say that the conduct of a Judge cannot be referred to here.
– Do you desire this machinery to be subordinate to or above the Arbitration Court?
– I wish the Arbitration Court to be supreme, and I have seen a copy of the Arbitration Bill in which it is made supreme. In any case, we can make it supreme; and when the Arbitration Bill is before us, I shall try to seu that, that is done. I am prepared to allow the Government to bring into existence any tribunal with a view to settling disputes. If it does not do so, it may be criticised, and even put out of office. The marine engineers got, no sympathy from the Arbitration Court when, on a recent occasion, they approached it. The President told them that he could not hear their case. Had the machinery provided for in the Bill been then in existence, the Government would have had to appoint a special Board. I am against giving too ‘ much power even to the President of the Arbitration Court. Parliament should be supreme in regard to all matters affecting industry. I have the utmost confidence in the Arbitration Court, but con- .gestion of business will take place there; and should the amendment be carried, and the Court be applied to for a special Board, it would want to know the reason for the application. It would be told that there was a dispute to he settled, and probably would then require evidence to show the existence of a dispute. All this would mean delay, and probably bring about a strike. The most direct action to take in a crisis is for the Government .to appoint special tribunals. A Government is responsible to Parliament; but the President of the Arbitration Court cannot be criticised here. If a Government does not do what the majority wishes to be done, it can be removed. In 3ny opinion, the amendment would not facilitate the hearing and settlement of disputes, and I object to it also because I think that the control of these matters should be, as far as possible, in the hands of Parliament.
– I wish to support what I have said by directing the attention of honorable members to the State legislation. This is the information concerning it contained in the Commonwealth 7 ear-Book for 1918, pages 992-3-
Therefore, in the States, with one exception, the practice is that provided for in the Bill, the appointments being made by the Government. The honorable member for. Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) told us that unionists are very much upset by this proposal, but I do not think that one of them in ten has given it even a passing thought. That they would prefer the appointment of the chairman to be made by the President of the Arbitration Court instead of by the GovernorGeneral in Council is. a very large draft on one’s credulity. He says that if that- were provided for, the co-ordination would be perfect, and the Court would be able to exercise its functions in either direction.. Evidently he is not aware that the Court has for many years possessed this power; but, so far as I know, has not exercised it. Section 36 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act says -
The Court may refer any industrial dispute of which it has cognisance, or any matter arising out of the dispute, to a Local Industrial Board for investigation and report, and may delegate to that Board such of its powers, including all powers of the Court in relation to conciliation and the settlement of the dispute by amicable agreement as it deems desirable. A Local Industrial Board may be -
On the report of the Local Industrial Board the Court may, with or without hearing further evidence or argument, or both, decide the dispute and make its award.
The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) put the position very well. A great responsibility is thrown on the Legislature, to whom the people look for the maintenance of industrial peace. As soon as an industrial disturbance takes place, the Government will be urged to do something. But our critics here and elsewhere overlook the fact that there is very little that can be done except by conciliation, and that the best thing to do is to bring the parties together. The principle underlying this measure is conciliation - “Come let us reason together.” That is the principle which underlies all gatherings of the kind, from the great Peace Conference to the smallest Wages Board meeting in this country. Honorable members should welcome the Bill, not as the last word in industrial legislation, but because it gives effect to this great principle. I do not think that the best way to settle disputes is by Courts. The best settlement is by conciliation. But where conciliation fails there must be recourse to compulsion of some sort. The measure must be regarded as supplementary to the Arbitration Act. As these disputes can arise only where the parties will not have recourse to the Ar bitration Court, it is proper that the Government and not the President of the Court should appoint the Chairman of the tribunals.
.- I am opposed to the amendment. One does not know how long the gentleman who is now President of the Arbitration Court will continue to occupy that position, and he may be succeeded by a Judge not so favorably disposed towards the unionists and industrialists as he is supposed to be. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) practically asks us to forego powers which we should be in a position to exercise if we got possession of the Treasury bench. That, to my mind, is the chief objection to the amendment.. When a dispute arises, we are to allow the present occupants of the Ministerial bench to appoint the Chairman, their own nominee, but by agreeing to the amendment, we would placethe power to deal with all disputes that may arise in, the future in the hands of an individual over whom we, who are now in Opposition, would have no control whatever if we should come into possession of the Ministerial bench: That is a position I would not appreciate. If the industrial situation is, as I have outlined it from time to time, whatever party is in power will represent certain interests. At present, certain interests are being looked after by the present occupants of the Ministerial bench, and if the position were reversed, and Labour occupied that bench, the amendment of. the honorable member for Darling (Mr.. Blakeley) would tie the hands of the Government of the day by precluding them from appointing the Chairmen of Tribunals to settle industrial disputes.
– Give us the Government bench, and I will be quite satisfied.
– I am not so easily satisfied. It is one thing to obtain a. majority in this House-
– And another thing tokeep it.
– Naturally the honorable member’s own difficulties are uppermost in his mind. The point I wish to emphasize is that it does not necessarily follow that a Ministry with a majority in this House will be in a position toalter the state of affairs as left by its predecessors. The present Administration have been so careful to manipulate the electoral law that they have been able to secure a majority in another Chamber for some considerable time to come. I cannot see that the amendment will benefit the section of people represented by hon.orable members on this side of the chamber. In fact, from my point of view, it would be a backward step to place the matter in the hands of a ‘Judge over whom, once he is appointed, we would have no control. I could understand honorable members behind the Ministry supporting a measure of this character, but I cannot understand what is in the mind of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley).
– The provision as printed in the Bill is not acceptable to the honorable member; in- its amended form it would not be acceptable to him; therefore it does not matter what he does in regard to it.
– It is true that, in any circumstances, I would vote against the provision, but I shall do nothing to tie the hands of the people I represent in this House, when there is a possibility of positions being reversed, and the representatives of vested interests of this country having to find seats on the Opposition benches. As the honorable member has said, the provision as it stands without amendment is not acceptable to me, but as it is not acceptable to him either, we are on an equal footing. However, the cheerful acceptance of the amendment, by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) ought to have been sufficient to indicate to the honorable member for Darling that there is not much in his proposal from our point of view.
.-While this amendment has been discussed, there have been several references to the appointment, of Chairmen of Boards, but as I understand it, the amendment has no reference to the Chairmen.
– I think the honorable member was himself responsible for getting away from the amendment.
– I had no desire to enter the realms of talk about Chairmen on this particular clause, which provides for the ‘appointment of Tribunals. The question for consideration is whether the Government ot some other authority shall make these appointments. Personally, I prefer that the matter should be left in the hands of the Government, and not, as has been suggested, the President of the Arbitration Court, because the particular disputes we have in contemplation at the moment when proclaiming the need for this class of legislation are such as cannot get before the Arbitration Court or affect people who refuse to go to that Court. In these circumstances it would not be very suitable to place in the hands of the President of the Arbitration Court the power to appoint Special Tribunals. While I am prepared to vote for the provision as it appears in the Bill, I reiterate my statement tint if the Government propose to create Special Tribunals, except in very special circumstances, and practically leave the Arbitration Court with nothing to do, creating such a position that the Judge will not continue in hia office, it will be a breach of faith on their part in face of the assurance given by the Prime Minis1ter (Mr. Hughes) to-night.
.- On general principles I would not support the amendment put forward, but in view of the fact that I am opposed to the subordination” of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to the Tribunals which, for reasons . not disclosed, and which at present cannot be disclosed, will be created from time to time, I do support it.
– We must do something.
– Yes. It is because I want the Conciliation and Arbitration Act amended so that the Court may continue the good work it has been doing in the matter of preventing and settling industrial disputes - I do not say that it has done everything that ought to be done - I am opposed to the extension of these Tribunals. I want to address a word of warning to the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), who wants to extract a solemn assurance from the Government that these Special Tribunals would only be employed in extreme cases and for very special reasons, and was aMe to secure the guarantee from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that they would be bodies which would come into existence to deal with special disputes and would go out of existence, perhaps, in some cases and not in other cases when the particular disputes were settled. I remind the Committee that once we appoint one of these Special Tribunals it may take cognisance of any dispute of which the Arbitration Court has cognisance anywhere throughout Australia. It has not to be referred by any person or body external to itself to a Special Tribunal at all, because once a Special Tribunal has been created it may take notice of disputes in any part of the Commonwealth. It is not under an obligation to inquire into the question of whether there is really an industrial dispute within the meaning of the Constitution. In clause 19, which we shall shortly be discussing, it is provided that the Special Tribunal, or the chairman, or the Minister, or any person thereto authorized in writing, may summon any person to attend for the purpose of preventing or settling industrial disputes. As soon as we create a Special Tribunal for a special purpose it is immediately able, under its farreaching powers, to handle any dispute in any part of Australia.
– And any association can apply.
Mr.BRENNAN. - Exactly. I cannot go into the powers of the Special Tribunal in detail, but the parties concerned, or the Government, may invoke its aid, and the Tribunal once created is not limited to any particular dispute. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) may find that a Special Tribunal, if created, would interest itself in disputes everywhere, and the Government would, not bring its work to a conclusion so long as it appeared to be discharging its particular duties. It is for that reason that I take the opportunity provided by the honorable member for Darling to support his amendment, although I know the Government will not accept it, because it is not in harmony with the scheme of the Bill; but * the amendment emphasizes the fact that we are not justified in a measure of this kind in breaking down the structure of Arbitration. I believe that present or future Judges of the Arbitration Court would not be prepared to undertake the task of adjudicating upon disputes under the conditions created by this clause. I support the amendment.
.- I move -
That before the word “ settlement,” first occurring, the words “ prevention of or “ be inserted; and that all the words after “disputes,” line 3, be left out.
The clause would then read-
The Governor-General may appoint a Special Tribunal or Tribunals for the prevention of or settlement of any industrial dispute or disputes.
It seems that the clause in its present form is somewhat misleading, because there appears to be a distinction between industrial disputes and disputes.
– I ask the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell) not to press his amendment, as he will see from the context that it is perfectly clear that the GovernorGeneral may appoint a Special Tribunal for settling any industrial dispute or disputes. The word “ industrial “ is the adjective covering both dispute and disputes.
– We already have a definition of “ industrial disputes “ in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– Yes, “ industrial disputes “ is defined in that Act, and the clause covers a single dispute or more.
– The object of appointing a Special Tribunal is for the prevention and settlement of any industrial dispute or disputes and nothing else.
– Exactly, and the clause covers that.
– Or for the settlement of disputes.
– For the prevention or settlement of disputes which have arisen or which may arise in any industry.
– Is there a distinction between the settlement of industrial disputes and the settlement of disputes?
– The latter portion of the clause deals with the prevention of disputes which have arisen or which may arise in any industry.
– My amendment is for the prevention of and settlement of any industrial dispute or disputes.
– I think the honorable member will find it would be better to leave the clause in its present form. A dispute may arise which may be either a single dispute or a series of disputes, and for that purpose a Special Tribunal may be appointed to settle a dispute or disputes. The latter portion of the clause is for dealing with disputes which may arise in an industry, and it is for that reason that the draftsman has drawn up the clause in its present form. I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment, and I will refer it to the draftsman for his consideration.
.- The clause in its present form appear!) somewhat confusing, because a dispute may be confined to one State. In fact, that is the distinction between a dispute and an industrial dispute, which, under the present Act extends beyond the limits of any one State. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is now in the Chamber, I desire to say that I have moved an amendment to make the clause read -
The Governor-General may appoint a Special Tribunal or Tribunals for the prevention of or settlement of any industrial dispute or disputes.
The remaining portion of the clause would then be deleted.
– On the face of it there appears to be no objection to the amendment.
– I am prepared to accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
The following paper was presented : -
Public Service Act - Promotion of J. J. Jepsen, Postmaster-General’s Department.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Some time ago I gave notice that contingent upon the laying on the table of a certain War Precautions regulation, allowing the losses incurred in the requisitioning of certain ships to be charged to the Consolidated Revenue, I would move that that Regulation be disallowed. I understand that it was laid on the table on
Thursday last, and I desire to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) whether, and when, an opportunity will be given me of moving for its disallowance. The time within which I must take action will expire on Thursday next.
– I cannot, on the spur of the moment, fix a time; but I will endeavour to find an opportunity for the honorable member to take action.
– As long as I receive an assurance that an opportunity will be given me I shall be satisfied.
– Will the honorable member give me a memorandum as to the particular regulation to which he refers ?
– I will.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 August 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200812_reps_8_92/>.