8th Parliament · 1st Session
TheClerk reported the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 11.1 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the representative of the Government prepared to make a statement regarding the reported startling change in the European situation, and the announcement of the Prime Minister of Great Britain that he will not be stampeded into war by the alleged action of France in recognising General Wrangel’s anti-Bolshevik Government in South Russia?
– Obviously, this is a question of which notice should be given; but I would remind the honorable member that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is said to’ doubt the accuracy of the report, which purports to be a statement of French intentions, and one can only hope that he is right. It would be a calamity if, at the present moment, any onenation took upon itself the responsibility of interfering in the tangled affairs of Europe. This is not a time for playing a lone hand there, and many of the troubles occurring to-day illustrate the danger of divided councils within as well as without the State.
– As the Prime Minister is now present, I ask him whether the Government are in possession of any informationconcerning the reported startling change in the European situation, and the utterance by the Prime Minister of Great Britain that he will not be stampeded into war by any act of France?
– I have read a newspaper cable in ‘regard to the matter to which the honorable member refers, but I am not in possession of any official information from Great Britain. I am under the impression that the developments to which the honorable member refers have occurred during the last forty-eight hours.
The following papers were presented : -
Wooltops. - Agreement between the Common wealth Governmentand the Colonial Combing, Spinning, and Weaving Company Limited of 12th March, 1920 - Report by the Central Wool Committee in relation to the agreement and the Prime Minister’s reply thereto.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act. - Regulations amended. - Statu tory Rules 1920, Nos. 132, 133, 134.
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired under, at Liverpool, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act. - Department . of the Treasury - Promotions of -
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, at Gosford, Kew South Wales.
– I ask the representative of the Government whether, with a view to Australia having a more immediate and adequate voice in the direction of the Imperial Defence policy, the Government are prepared to advocate the formation of an Imperial Council of Defence, consisting of representatives from the Parliament of the United Kingdom, together with a representative from each of the self-governing Dominions; the representatives forming this Imperial Council of Defence to be members of Parliament who have been elected on the suffrage of the more popular House of the Parliament of which they arc members; to be appointed by their respective Governments, to hold office during the reign of their Government, but to be eligible for re-appointment; each overseas representative to make himself acquainted, as far as possible, with foreign politics, and to visit the Dominion thathe represents at least once a year; each representative to be granted a pair during his absence from the Parliament of which he is a member?
– I am sure that the House has heard with interest this announcement of new and fundamental Imperial policy, The matter is one of the gravest consequence; but, at the present moment, I am not in a position to answer the question.
– Can the Postmaster-General tell us when the money that is to be paid to the country mail contractors as a drought allowance will be available?
-Very shortly. The formalities are now being arranged.
– A weok or two ago, I asked the Treasurer, who was then Minister for the Navy, whether he would inquire into the pollution of Sydney Harbor with oil and debris, alleged to have come from the vessels of the Royal Australian Navy. I understand that a report was called for.
– The honorable member having brought the matter under my notice, I at once rang up the Commodore of the Fleet, and I have since been informed that the trouble has been remedied. If further complaints are made, I hope that the honorable member will forward them. Our Fleet should not be a nuisance in any harbor ; indeed, those in control of it should set an example to private ship-owners. That is the view of the Naval Board and the Commodore as well.
– A large number of serious accidents have happened in Australia in connexion with aviation. Before a man is allowed to drive a motor car, he must obtain a certificate of competency; but I understand that there is no law - Commonwealth or State - to compel the man who wishes to pilot an aeroplane to prove his ability to do so. Is this matter within the domain of Commonwealth legislation, or is it for the States to take action?
– Consideration was given to the subject by the last Premiers’ Conference ; and I hope that something will soon be done by the regulation of aerial traffic to prevent accidents.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the report which has reached une that he is shortly to visit England, or whether we are to be disappointed again?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member alludes; but I ask him to say what part of England I shall visit, under what circumstances, and on what ship.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government will agree to accept an amendment to thePublic Service Bill, which is at present before Parliament, to cover the question of dual furlough?
– The Public Service Bill now before Parliament deals only with ohe particular phase of Public Service organization, viz., the creation of a Board of Management for the Service. It is proposed to introduce another Bill later on dealing generally with the conditions of the Service, including the question of dual furlough.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the Government give the nameor names and qualifications of the person or persons appointed as a Royal Commission on Taxation ?
– The personnel of the Royal Commission has not yet been decided upon. An announcement in regard to the appointment of the Commission will be made at an early date.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether he will inform the House what amount has been expended during the past live years (a) upon repairs and additions to postoffices in the towns on the southern railway line between Goulburn and Albury, New South Wales, including towns within 30 miles of the main line; (b) upon new post-office buildings in the same area?
– This is a somewhat similar question to that asked by the honorable member on the Sth July, when I replied that the matter was within the province of the Department of Works and Eailways. On the 21st July, the honorable member for Werriwa asked the Minister for Works and Eailways the question he had asked me on the 8th July, and the Minister replied as follows : -
On inquiry, I find that to furnish the return asked for would involve considerable time, labour, and expense. Unless the honorable member has some important public purpose to serye, I would ask him not to press the matter.
Queensland Advisory Committee
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Greene) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 12th August, vide page 3513) :
Clause 15 -
A Special Tribunal shall have cognisance -
of any industrial dispute referred to it by the persons or associations parties thereto; and
of any industrial dispute as to which a conference has been held under section 19 of this Act and as to whichagreement has not been reached as to the whole of the dispute, and which has been referred to the Special Tribunal in accordance with section 21 of this Act:
Provided that no dispute as to which a plaint is pending in the Court and the hearing has commenced shall be referred to a Special Tribunal.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after “ industrial dispute,” in line 2, the following words be inserted: - “between an organization of employees on the one hand, and employers or organizations of employers on the other hand.”
Clause further consequentially amended by the omission of “ associations “ and the insertion of “ organizations “ in lieu thereof.
– I understood the Prime Minister to say yesterday that the intention of the Bill was not to deprive any organization of the right to approach the Arbitration Court if it so desired.
– Paragraph b refers to a compulsory conference under clause
– I thought this provision for a compulsory conference would be regarded as one of the most valuable parts of the Bill. It is admitted that the Arbitration Court has done much good work by exercising its power to compel the parties to meet. I said last night, in reply to the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), that the most valuable part of this measureis the fact that it brings the parties together at a conference table. Paragraph b of this clause is to enable a tribunal to deal with a dispute, which has been referred to a compulsory conference without a settlement having been reached, thus giving the tribunal the same jurisdiction as the Court has in relation to such disputes. If that provision is taken away this Bill will at once assume a menacing rather than a conciliatory form. It will say, in effect, “ There shall be no attempt at conciliation; we shall at once bring you before the bar of justice and make you do a certain thing.” The honorable member has suggested that this provision takes away the right of the union to go to the Arbitration Court, but I hope he will not think that such is the intention. This measure will not touch any union that wishes to approach the Court ; it will only be used where unions will not go to that Tribunal. It will have nothing to do with those who will go to it. We must have some remedy where unions will not go to the Court, and the first remedy to which we propose to have recourse is that of conciliation through a compulsory conference. Power is given to bring the parties together and leave them to endeavour to reconcile their differences. I hope that the honorable member will not take objection to the powers given to a Special Tribunal under paragraphb.
.- I quite realize with thehonorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) the very farreaching effects of paragraph b, because, although paragraph a limits the jurisdiction of a Special Tribunal to cases brought before it by the parties, paragraph b when read together with clause 19, which gives the power to a Special Tribunal to convene a compulsory conference, will open the whole field of an industrial dispute to consideration by such a Tribunal. However, I rise to call particularattention to the proviso at the end of clause 15, which reads as follows : -
Provided that no dispute as to which a plaint is pending in the Court and the hearing has commenced shall be referred to a Special Tribunal.
This practically limits the prohibition, as one may call it, against interference by a Special Tribunal to a comparatively small number of industrial disputes out of the total number which are under consideration by the Arbitration Court. Not all disputes come before that Court by means of plaints. In practice we find that a great majority of them do notoriginate in that way, but come to the Court following upon compulsory conferences. ‘ Furthermore, the Conciliation and Arbitration. Act stipulates quite a number of ways in which disputes may come before the Court other than by the method of plaint, the various ways being set out in section 19 of the Act, which reads as follows: -
The Court shall have cognisance, for purposes of prevention and settlement, of the following industrial disputes:
All industrial disputes which are certified to the Court by the Registrar as proper to be dealt with by it in the public interest.
All industrial disputes which are submitted to the Court by an organization, or by an association registered for the time being as an organization’, by plaint.
All industrial disputes with which any State industrial authority, or the Governor in Council of a State in which there is no State industrial authority, requests the Court to deal ; and
All industrial disputes as to which the President has held a conference under section 16a of this Act, and as to which no agreement has been reached, and which the President has thereupon referred to the Court.
The only matter referred to in the proviso to clause 15 in the Bill are those which come under paragraph b of this section of the Act, and in actual practice the most general method by which disputes may be brought before the Arbitration Court are those referred to in paragraph d of the section. Any number of disputes may be pending before the Court, and the Bill will give a Special Tribunal the power to “butt in” upon the consideration of them if only the limitation contained in the proviso to clause 15 is retained. Apparently the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) desires that the powers of Special Tribunals shall be exercised collaterally and on parallel lines with the work of the Arbitration Court, and from the fact that this proviso has been inserted in clause 15, I should suppose that he does not intend that a case actually in course of being dealt with by that Court shall be interfered with by any Special Tribunal against the will of the Court it may be, and even, apparently, against the wish of the parties.
– What the honorable member says is very true. This is the use to which the clause may be put, but the intent of the Bill is to deal with those cases the Court cannot or does not deal with.
– Then I cannot see why the proviso should exclude the Special Tribunal from dealing with only a limited number of eases which are before the Court.
– We tell the parties to go to the Court, pointing out that it is the place where they must get their remedy, but some unions will not do so. On the other hand, a de facto dispute arises with which we have to deal, and subject to clause 17, we tell the parties that we cannot hear them if their case has been taken to the Court because they have elected to go to the Court.
– I quite agree with what the right honorable gentleman has said, but it does not cure the difficulty I have raised ; on the other hand, it rather bears out what I have been saying. Where a case has been brought before the Court by means of a plaint, it may not be considered by a Special Tribunal while it is pending before the Court. It may not be a case in which the Court has failed; the Court may be proceeding quite satisfactorily with the hearing of the case, and the parties may be quite satisfied to remain under its jurisdiction. In such circumstances, so long as the case has originated by means of a plaint, the Special Tribunal cannot interfere with it, but if a compulsory conference has been held under the powers given by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the President of the Court has referred the matter into Court, as he may do, without the necessity of proceeding by way of a plaint, and the parties are quite satisfied to go before the Court, being so referred to it, the proviso to clause 15 will not prevent a Special Tribunal from interfering in such a case. I have already quoted section 19 of the Act to show that there are a great many other cases in which disputes may be brought before the Arbitration Court, and the Special Tribunal may interfere with them. So long as the Court is functioning apparently in a satisfactory way, surely the Prime Minister does not desire that Special Tribunals shall be invited to interfere with it.
– Then I invite the right honorable gentleman to consider the effect of the proviso to which I have drawn attention. He will see that it does not protect the Court to that extent.
– If there are fifty cases filed in the Arbitration Court, and a plaint is pending in five, would the honorable member suggest that if a dispute arose in an industry, the case of which was the thirty-fifth on the list, and the parties said they could not and would not wait any longer, a Special Tribunal should not act in such a case?
– It might act in such a case; there is nothing to prevent it; but under the proviso a Special Tribunal may interfere with a case which is in actual course of hearing in the Arbitration Court unless it has been initiated by means of a plaint. There may be something in the view that delay may take place in regard to a large number of cases formally originated by means of plaints; but I invite the attention of the right honorable gentleman to the fact that the very cases in which he empowers a Special Tribunal to interfere are those which have already been referred to the Court for prompt action as the result of compulsory conferences.
– Under the Act cases may originate in several different ways, and we only prevent the Special Tribunal from . interfering with those which have originated by means of a plaint. The honorable member’s contention is that in all cases where a hearing has been commenced, irrespective of the way in which they have originated and irrespective of whether the Court has gone on with them, the Special Tribunal should not interfere.
– Would the point raised by the honorable member be met by amending the proviso to read as follows : -
Provided that no dispute as to which a hearing has been commenced in the Court shall be referred to a Special Tribunal.
Mr.- BEENAK- That would certainly be an improvement; but I do not wish to be taken as approving of the policy of interfering with matters which have been once initiated in the Arbitration Court by way of plaint or otherwise.
– The proviso will be amended as I have indicated. It will certainly improve matters from the point of view of the honorable member
– It will. There is a curious phrase in the last line of the proviso, which says that no dispute as to which a plaint is pending in the Court and a hearing has commenced “ shall be referred” to a Special Tribunal. Many matters may come before a Special Tribunal which are not referred to it. It may really grip disputes where it likes under clause 19, which gives the power to convene a compulsory conference. “It is misleading to say that no dispute shall be referred to it. Under clause 19 a Special Tribunal or the chairman or the Minister, or any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister, may summon any person to attend at a conference. The number of disputes actually referred to a Special Tribunal may be comparatively small. It may be merely a matter of verbiage, but it seems to me that the phrasing of clause 19 leaves it open to the Special Tribunal itself to seize upon a dispute that is already before the Court. If it is made clear that that cannot be done I shall be satisfied. Will the Prime Minister consider my suggestion ?
– A dispute can come before a Special Tribunal only by being referred to it.
– Perhaps so; but only in the sense that it may refer the dispute to itself. Under clause 19 the Chairman of a Special Tribunal, or the Minister, or any person authorized by the Minister may summon any person to attend.
– That relates to a compulsory conference, whereas I am speaking of a Special Tribunal. Paragraph b of clause 15 provides that a dispute can be referred to a Special Tribunal only after failure on the part of a compulsory conference held under clause 19.
– But clause 21 provides that where a conference has been held under clause 19, and an agreement has not been reached as to the whole of the dispute, the Chairman of the Special Tribunal, if the conference was summoned by that Tribunal, or the Chairman thereof, may refer the dispute to the Special Tribunal. The main point, however, that I ask the Prime Minister to look into is as to interference on the «part of a Special Tribunal with cases that are actually proceeding amicably before the Court.
– I have every desire to meet the wishes of honorable members in order to make this a workable measure, and having listened carefully to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) I feel that there is much in what he has said. We mustmake it perfectly clear that the object of the Bill is not to interfere with, but to supplement the work of the Court, and to deal only with those cases which for any reason at all cannot be dealt with in any other way. I shall therefore move to “ amend the proviso to clause 15 so that it will read -
Provided that no dispute as to which the hearing has commenced in the Court shall be referred to a Special Tribunal.
.- Before such an amendment is moved I desire to put before the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) a point as to which I am not quite clear. Paragraph a of clause 15 declares that a Special Tribunal shall have cognizance of any industrial dispute referred to it by the persons or associations parties thereto. That is an exceedingly broad provision. It appears to me that under it it would be possible for an association of employers or employees to request a Special Tribunal appointed for a specific purpose and relating possibly to an entirely different trade to deal with a dispute existing in their industry.
– That could not be done.
– If, for instance, a Special Tribunal had been created in relation to the coal trade, the wharf labourers, being pleased with the way in” which that Tribunal had dealt with the coal miners’ case, might be able under the clause as it stands to invite it to deal with a dispute between them and their employers, and the Coal Tribunal might express ite willingness to do so. The point might be raised that the Tribunal, having been specifically appointed for the coal trade, had no power to deal with the wharf labourers’ dispute, but the answer would be made that under clause 15 a Special Tribunal has power to take “ cognizance of any dispute referred to it by the persons or associations parties thereto.” Is there anything to prevent that being done?
– The honorable member fears that a Special Tribunal appointed to deal with a dispute in a particular industry could take cognisance of an industrial dispute outside that industry?
– That is the point that is giving me some concern.
– Clause 13 in the Bill as introduced provided that -
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.
Let us take a concrete illustration of the honorable member’s point. We have at the present time a Shipbuilding Tribunal, and the honorable member suggests that one of the parties to an industrial dispute in some other industry, being very pleased with its work, might think it advantageous to have its case dealt with by it. That Special Tribunal, however, could not deal with their case, because its charter - the terms of its appointment - sets out that it is to deal with suchandsuch a matter. A Special Tribunal will be limited by its charter. We might, for instance, appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into matters A, B, and Cj but it could not inquire into matters D, E, and F, even if they were closely associated with those specifically referred to -it. That is my answer to the honorable member, and I think that, with the proviso as I propose to amend it, the position will he made quite clear. We shall make it clear that these Special Tribunals will be confined to the object of the Bill as stated by me, namely, to deal with cases that cannot -be, or are not, dealt with by the Arbitration Court, and are. a menace to the community. Speaking for the Government, let me say that these Tribunals will not be appointed as an ordinary means of deal- ing with industrial troubles. They will be a reserve power to conserve the welfare of the community, and to preserve it from the consequences of industrial unrest.
.- I think we shall all agree to the amendment which the honorable member (Mr. Hughes) has foreshadowed. I desire, however, to move a prior amendment. I have given notice of an amendment of clause 16, but I think it would be better to insert it in the clause now before us. I therefore move -
That at the end of paragraph b the following words be inserted: - “and have power to inquire into all matters pertaining to the industry from the point of production to the final disposal of the commodity. Provided that by request of either party, the evidence relating to any trade secret shall be taken in camerâ, and not be disclosed.”
I have already placed clearly before the Committee the reasons that actuate me in proposing this amendment; and,( since I desire to help the Government to pass the Bill through its remaining stages before we rise to-day, I shall not take up much time in dealing with it. It may be argued that my amendment would come into conflict with the Constitution, but I do not see that that is so. Decisions have been given by the High Court in regard to the powers of the Commonwealth. For instance, in the McKay case, which is the only case having any direct bearing, it decided that the Arbitration Court had not the power to fix prices. I am not asking that prices should be fixed, but that in connexion with the coal industry, for instance, the Tribunal should have the right to inquire into every phase, so that, in the interests of the employees and the general public, it may !be ascertained whether there is any justification for increasing the price of the commodity in order to give increased wages.
– The Tribunal will have all the powers of the Arbitration Court.
– Exactly, but the trouble is that the powers of the Arbitration Court do not quite provide for what I desire. The Arbitration Court has power to do certain things, but up to the present it has not been able to go beyond the disputebefore the Court. Payment by results is a method generally accepted by the honorable members opposite; and if on those results depends the selling price of the commodity, it is fair to the men that there should be some means of ascertaining whether the selling price is commensurate with what they are paid. To-day there is a declared price for coal, but no one knows whether or not it is the price obtained. The men, however, are paid only on the declared price; and to give satisfaction in the coal industry, in which I am deeply interested, the men claim thatthey oughtto be able to inquire into every phase of it.
– The amendment is practically what was accepted by the Government in regard to “industrial matters. “
– Exactly. I hope the Prime Minister will accept the amendment, for it will go a long way to assist in preventing any disruption in the coal trade.
.- When speaking on the second reading, and at subsequent Committee stages, I pointed out the limits of our power in regard to prices and profits. I said that once we established the fact that the evidence sought to be obtained is relevant to the dispute, I personally do not see that there -are any limits, because the Tribunal is created to prevent and settle disputes. The jurisdiction having been clearly established, the only question is whether the evidence desired is relevant to the dispute. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has taken a concrete case, and, after ali, we are dealing with concrete, and not hypothetical, cases. ‘The honorable member says that there are men on piece-work, paid so much a ton for hewing coal, and that when the declared price is 17s. 9d. the hewing rate is so much. The men also say that nothing is more calculated to cause industrial unrest, and breed discontent, than a feeling that they are not getting a fair deal - that somebody is “ having” them. It is said that a man will be more content, and less likely to create industrial unrest, if he is getting 3s., with the knowledge that he is being fairly dealt with, than if he is getting 3s. 6d., feeling that he is being “had” at the latter rate. That is quite true; and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) contends that all the evidence bearing on that phase should be brought out. I appreciate the necessity for such evidence where it is for the purposes of the dispute, and not for other purposes. I pointed out to the honorable member the other day that, recently, there have been made public statements by certain officials of the Coal Miners Federation for which the men are not necessarily responsible. These officials have said that the miners wish to own the mines; but that is not relevant to the present dispute. It is an aspiration of a section, an aspiration which may be good or bad, but the miners as a whole are not necessarily to be held responsible for it. Every man in the Coal Miners Federation has a perfect right to hold opinions on the point; one man may say that he believes in the mines for the miners; another that he believes in the mines for the people of New South Wales; a third, that they should belong to the people of all Australia; while another may say he believes in the present system. All these opinions are perfectly compatible with membership of the union. If a certain section propose to use such evidence “for the purpose of furthering their political purposes, to obtain information which may, perhaps, do us harm in our foreign trade with our foreign competitors, it will not do at all. Therefore, it must be clearly understood that the only evidence that will be permitted will be evidence relating to the dispute, and for the purpose of dealing with the dispute, which, of course, is a matter relating to the wages and conditions of labour. That being so, we have to ask ourselves how far the amendment is acceptable from the Government’s point of view of the desire that is at the back of it, and how far it is constitutional.
– lt does not go outside the limits of anything you have just said.
– I do not say it does. There are two points I should like to mention to the honorable member. A great deal of industrial unrest arises through a suspicion in the minds of the coal miners that there is much leakage between the shovel and the grate. It is not material whether that suspicion is true or not - the fact is the men believe it. The miners say one thing and the mine-owners another; and if the whole facts were brought out, the Tribunal would consider them, and give a decision fair to the community, in the matter of price - because it would have relation to price - and fair to the men. But it will not help the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) if we insert an amendment that the High Court will say is ultra vires; and, therefore, in order to make it perfectly clear what questions may be asked, I suggest that we strike out the words “pertaining to the industry,” and provide that the Tribunal have power to inquire into all matters “relating to the dispute, from the point of production to the final disposal of the commodity.” I have never been one to whittle down the powers of the Commonwealth, but have always upheld them. Once you establish the fact that the matter is relevant to the dispute, we have, in my opinion, the right to ask the questions, and, with the alteration I have suggested, the honorable member’s amendment will be constitutional, and quite acceptable to me. There is one other point at which I wish the honorable member to look. He adds the proviso -
Provided that by request of either party the evidence relating to any trade secret shall be taken in camera and not be disclosed.
I do not think that goes far enough, because, in the coal-mining industry, there is no trade secret. There may be secrets in the chemical or engineering trade, but not in the coal trade, which has simply to do with getting the coal out, and there is an end of the matter.
– Some of the proprietors say that there is a secret in regard to their business.
– I can tell you a story on that point. In the times when files were cut by hand the. process was regarded as a trade mystery - a secret - and was usually carried on in some cul-de-sac in Sheffield. The business brought great profit to the employers; but one day a donkey wandered into a cul-de-sac, saw through the window of a house a mau cutting files, and then came out into a Sheffield street and “hee-hawed.” Thus the secret was “ given away.” What, I think, the proprietors have a right to expect is that their business shall not be disclosed either to their rivals in this country or their competitors in others, and therefore we ought to strike out the words “ relating to any trade secret.” Section 85 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides -
No evidence relating to any trade secret, or to the profits or financial position, of any witness or party shall be disclosed except to the Court or published without the consent of the person entitled to the trade secret or nondisclosure….. All such evidence shall, if the witness or party so requests, be taken in private.
I suggest to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that he adopt that section. With that emendation I am prepared to agree to the amendment.
.- I am prepared to meet’ the right honorable member. My only object is to make clear in the Bill what is needed. The Prime Minister and others declare that what I wish to have done is already provided for, but the people outside say that it is not provided for, and at a critical moment like the present it is important to make the provision clear. I agree to the insertion of so much of section 85 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as hag been read by the Prime Minister, with the substitution of the word “ Tribunal “ for the word “ Court “.
– I entirely agree that only evidence relevant to a dispute can be admitted at the hearing of a case : but a Court of Appeal might hold that evidence which had been admitted as relevant, and which it was quite within the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth to take, was not relevant. Thus the right of these Special Tribunals to take particular evidence might be challenged, and the evidence disallowed on other than constitutional grounds.
– In the coal industry, the hewing rate depends on the declared selling price of coal, which the miners contend means the real selling price. If in a dispute the miners said that they were not getting a fair; deal, evidence as to whether the declared selling price was the same thing as the actual selling price would be relevant, because it would embody the subject-matter of the dispute.
– That is so; but a Court of Appeal might declare, as a matter of law, that some of the evidence was not relevant.
– We cannot get over that very well.
– I think it might be provided that the decision of a Tribunal as to the relevancy of any evidence should not be challengeable in any Court other than on constitutional grounds.
– We have already tried to enact that, and the enactment has been declared ultra vires.
– Of course, it does not matter what we put into the Bill; if we go beyond the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, prohibition will lie. But the situation which I am discussing could be met by a provision such’ as I have suggested.
– Does the honorable member suggest that evidence shall be admissible if it is not in fact relevant?
– I suggest that any evidence should be admitted as relevant which it is within the power of this Par liament to allow to be asked, the question of relevance being decided by the Tribunal which takes that evidence. The admissibility of evidence raises one of the greatest difficulties in law, and a new trial is frequently ordered, either because a Judge has wrongfully admitted, or because he has wrongfully rejected, evidence. We should prevent this Tribunal from being hamstrung by appeals to a superior Court on the ground that the evidence taken was not relevant.
– The matter of relevance would be a question of fact rather than of law, and that question could be decided by the Tribunal.
– In any case, the Tribunal’s decision as to relevancy should be final.
– Are you afraid that if a Tribunal, during the hearing of a case, asked a question which subsequently was declared on appeal to be irrelevant, and was made the subject of an order of prohibition, the whole decision would go?
– That is not exactly my point. The right honorable gentleman knows how these appeals arise. Some coal magnate will be placed in the witnessbox and asked a question bearing on the profits made between the production of the coal and its purchase by the consumer, which he will refuse to answer. You will then have to take proceedings to compel him to answer, as was done in connexion with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. He may then say that the question is not relevant to the dispute, and the point will go on appeal to a higher Court. The High Court might hold that the question was not relevant, although the asking of it was not beyond the constitutional powers of the Tribunal.
– If we provide that the Tribunal may ask any question relevant to the dispute, that clothes it with all the powers that we can give it.
– I want to make the Tribunal the final judge as to relevancy.
– Section 31 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which was amended in 1914 because the original section had been found ineffective, reads as follows : -
I am prepared to put those words into the Bill. That is the best we can do. Many of the decisions of the Arbitration Court have been riddled by judgments of the High Court. However, I am perfectly willing to incorporate in the Bill the section I have read from the Act if the honorable member thinks that it will make for finality.
– There is no doubt that the amendment which the Prime Minister offers would take us some distance in the direction I am suggesting. But I desire him to go a little further in this clause. I suggest that he add to the amendment which is before the Committee words to the effect that the question of whether any evidence is relevant shall be finally determined by the Tribunal.
– How will that carry us any further? In the case to which the honorable member referred Mr. Knox applied for ari order of prohibition.
– If we provide that the decision of the Tribunal shall be final and conclusive on the question of relevancy, its decision can be challenged only on the ground of constitutionality.
– At the suggestion of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), I propose the addition to the amendment, after the word “ dispute,” of the following words, “ and the decision of the Tribunal on the question of relevancy shall be final.”
– That meets my point.
– I accept that alteration.
– If this amendment is adopted, will the Tribunal have power to send for books and. vouchers, and inquire as to the profits and capital of a company? Under the old Arbitration Act in New South Wales the Court had that power.
– The Tribunal will be able to get all documents relevant to the dispute. ‘ I suggest that we also add to the amendment the following words from section 85 of the Arbitration Act: -
No evidence relating to any trade secret, or to the profits or financial position, of any witness or party, shall be disclosed except to the Court, or published without the consent of the person entitled to the trade secret or nondisclosure. All such evidence shall, if the witness or party so requests, be taken in private.
.- I said on the second reading that I am opposed to penalties being included in a measure of this nature, the success of which must depend on the good-will of both sides. But the Committee will agree that the clause with which we are now dealing is in a different category. If a member of a Tribunal has not the decency to keep secret information that comes into his possession as a member of the Tribunal, we should not have any hesitation in imposing a penalty upon him.. I ask the Prime Minister whether some penalty should not be provided for in connexion with this clause as amended.
– I entirely agree with the honorable member. There must be some penalty for the disclosure of information that is given under a pledge of secrecy. I refer honorable members to the words in clause 16, that “ any act or omission on the part of any person which would, if the hearing or inquiry were the hearing of an industrial dispute before the Court, be an offence against the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1S, shall be an offence against this Act.” I am inclined to think that those words meet the point raised by the honorable member for Flinders. ‘ Whatever we think of penalties in general we cannot allow the financial position or trade secrets of companies or persons to be disclosed to the Tribunal under cover of secrecy and then given to the public.
.- Whilst I am against the general penalties provided for in clause 28, I am not opposed to a penalty for the disclosure of information received under cover of secrecy. That penalty should be speci- fically stated in connexion with this clause.
– The best thing to do is to include the whole of section 85 of the Arbitration Act, which says that the penalty for disclosing any evidence shall be £500 or three months’ imprisonment.
– If a person refused to disclose evidence when requested to do so by the Tribunal, would that penalty apply?
– No. If a man refuses to give evidence which is within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to demand, he is liable to the penalties provided for in the Arbitration Act which clause 16 provides shall apply to this Bill. Section 84 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that any person summoned to appear, or who has appeared, before the Court as a witness, or refuses to obey the summons, or to be sworn as a witness, or to answer any question he is required by the Court to answer, or to produce any books or documents he is required by the Court to produce, shall be liable to a penalty of £100.
– No such provision is included in this Bill.
– No; but it is covered by clause 28, which reads as follows: -
Any contravention of this Act, or of the regulations, for which no other penalty is provided, shall be punishable, on conviction, by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding £ 100, or both.
– Personally, I am not favorable to the supplementary part of the Bill. I would rather have the penalty inserted in the clause we are dealing with._
– If it is the wish of the honorable member, the whole of section 85 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act may be added to his amendment.
– I am agreeable to that course.
– The effect of including section 85 is that a member of a Tribunal who discloses secrets is liable to a penalty of £500, or three months’ imprisonment, but I am anxious to see provision made that any person summoned to appear before a Tribunal who refuses to give informa tion in regard to his profits, or any secretary of a union who fails to disclose the membership of his organization, shall be subject to the same penalties. Furthermore, in my opinion, the two offences should be included in the one clause.
– We already provide “for penalties in clause 16, and again in clause 2S, but I am perfectly willing to make special provision for the imposition of the same penalty on any person who refuses to give information, as is provided in the “case of disclosing information. However, I cannot include the two in the same paragraph.
– The Prime Minister knows that a fine of £500 would not be sufficient deterrent to a member of a big corporation who may refuse to give information concerning the affairs of his company. In my opinion, provision should be made to render every shareholder in such a corporation liable to a fine of £500 and three months’ imprisonment.-
– There is a distinct reason why the same penalty should not be inflicted for failure to disclose information, or refusal to obey a summons, as is fixed for disclosing evidence already given. The man who, after hearing evidence in secret, discloses it, does that which cannot be recalled. The consequences of his action cannot be overtaken. His is a very serious offence, which may have very serious consequences to the parties concerned. On the other hand, a man who is summoned to appear before the Court and does not attend can. be punished and still summoned and compelled to give evidence, or the man who refuses to answer questions can be punished and still be obliged to answer questions.
Amendment amended to read as follows, and agreed to -
That at the end of paragraph (B) the following words be inserted “ and have power to inquire into all matters relevant to the dispute (and the decision of the Tribunal on the question of relevancy shall be final), from the point of production to the final disposal of the commodity. Provided that no evidence relating to any trade secret, or to the profits, or financial position of any witness or party shall be disclosed except to the Tribunal, or published without the consent of the person entitled to the trade secret or non-disclosure. Penalty: £500, or three months’ imprisonment. All such evidence shall, if the witness or party so requests, be taken in private.
Amendment (byMr. Hughes) agreed to -
That in the proviso the words “ a plaint is pending in the Court and “ be left out, and the words “ in the Court “ inserted after “ commenced.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 16 (Powers of Special Tribunal) .
.- I ask the Prime Minister (Mr.. Hughes) to look at section 21aa of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which deals with an application to the High Court for a declaration of the existence of a dispute. Apparently a Special Tribunal is not to enjoy the benefit of that provision. As the clause stands it will have power to hear and determine any industrial dispute of which it has cognisance, and “ any industrial dispute “ means one which is in fact a two-State dispute. A slight amendment of the clause which I am prepared to suggest would give the Tribunal the benefit of section 21aa of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I shall move to insert sections 21aa and 31 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as new clauses.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 (Power to vary award of Court).
– The Prime Minister has indicated that he has already provided in his Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that the Arbitration Court shall have the power to vary its awards, and as this clause will cut directly across the authority of the Arbitration Court in that respect, I hope it will be deleted.
– After the second-reading debate on this Bill, and after carefully considering the question, we made provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, giving the Arbitration Court the power to review its own awards. Therefore I am quite willing that this clause should be deleted.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Power to convene compulsory conference).
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the power to convene a compulsory conference is confined to industrial disputes that have been referred to a Tribunal by the parties thereto?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 to 22 agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Clause 23 -
.- I desire to amend this clause in order to incorporate the same provisions regarding the number of persons to be appointed to the Board as have already been inserted in previous clauses. I move -
That, in sub-clause (1) all the words after the word “ and,” first occuring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ an even number (not less than six nor more than eight) of other members.”
– I would prefer the numbers mentioned to be “ four ‘” and “ eight.”
– I am quite willing to accept that, and desire to alter my amendment accordingly.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to -
That, in sub-clause (2), the words “appointed as prescribed “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ chosen by agreement between the representatives of employers and employees, or in default of agreement, shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral.”
That, in sub-clause (3), the words “employees respectively shall be appointed or elected in the prescribed manner,” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ recognised organizations of employees respectively shall be recommended and appointed in the prescribed manner by the respective employers and organizations of employees.”
That, in sub-clause (6), the words “Two members of a “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Two-thirds of the members of the.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
A Local Board shall hare cognisance of any industrial dispute -
referred to it by the persons or associations parties thereto; or
referred to it by the Special Tribunal in relation to which it was appointed.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the words “ of any industrial dispute “ bo’ left out with a view to insert before the word “ referred,” first occurring, the words, “ of any industrial dispute between an organization of employees on the one hand, and employers or organizations of employers on the other hand.”
That the word “associations” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ organizations.” “That, before the word “ referred,” second occurring, the words “ of any industrial dispute” be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 25 agreed to.
Where, at the hearing before a Local Board, an agreement as to the whole or part of any industrial dispute is made in writing between parties thereto, the agreement may be filed with the Industrial Registrar, and shall thereupon have effect in all respects and be binding on the parties and enforceable as if it were an award of the Court.
.- I rise to point out that the curious thing about the Local Boards is that, apparently, they are intended to operate in respect of purely local disputes and within certain well-defined areas. But the Government must be aware that the Federal Legislature has no power to legislate in respect of local disputes. I cannot understand why the Local Boards should be invested with the very wide and general powers proposed - on the same lines, indeed, as the powers to be given to a Special Tribunal.
– But the Local Board is “in relation to” a Special Tribunal.
– I do not profess to know just what that may mean. It is not a Local Board appointed by a Special Tribunal; and it appears that, once a Local Board is set up, there are no limitations to its powers, because we shall have gathered up in the Local Boards all the powers which are given to a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration under the Act itself. If any honorable member cares to take the trouble to examine the Act to determine exactly whatmy point implies he will realize how tremendous are the powers to be vested with this purely Local Board. The Government will see that the amendments they have promised in regard to Special Tribunals are no doubt given also in the case of Local Boards; that is, so far as concerns the determination of what a dispute is before the matter is heard by a Local Board. First, there may be a Local Board appointed “ in relation to a Special Tribunal,” and this Board, under the Arbitration Act, may appoint Boards of reference. So, there will be a Special Tribunal, which will have a Local Tribunal appointed in relation to it; which, in turn, can appoint a Board of reference under the Arbitration Act. Where the powers of these Local Tribunals will end - if ever they do - I am at a loss to imagine. I opposed the Bill at its secondreading stage as undermining the Arbitration Act; and, although I have made some honest attempts in Committee to improve it, I cannot understandthe position of these Local Boards. Their status should be more clearly defined, as being subordinate in their control to the Special Tribunals in relation to which they have been appointed. In the first place, if these Boards operate at all, they will operate in regard to disputes over which this Legislature has no jurisdiction, and, if they have jurisdiction, the Boards will be merely duplicating and repeating the work of another’ body.
.- I would like the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to closely examine this clause. In view of the fact that the Committee has left out clause 17, the clause now under considerationhas quite a different bearing. Under clause 17 there was power to appeal to a Special Tribunal under abnormal conditions, but now that clause has been eliminated appeals cannot be made to a Special Tribunal, and there may be difficulties in getting to the Court. Industrial organizationsmay experience difficulty in getting to the Court to vary an award.
– Clause 27 gives the power to review.
– I am not sure Supposing a Local Tribunal comes to an agreement, which is filed and registered in the Arbitration Court, what power is there now that clause 17 has been eliminated? That provision gave a Special
Tribunal the right to review any decision of a Local Board or the Arbitration Court. We are now in the position that if an award of a Local Board is registered in the Abitration Court there is no provision for any review by a higher tribunal.
– It is very undesirable that decisions of the Local Boards and Special Tribunals should be subject to review. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has in his mind a reference to a Local Tribunal of matters that should be referred to a Special Tribunal; but that is not the position, as the questions referred to a Local Tribunal would be subsidiary questions relating to comparatively trivial matters. This provision has been introduced mainly in the interests of the coal industry, and the conditions at, say, the Hepburn, Abermain, and Pelaw” Main collieries may differ from those at others.
.- I am not arguing that aspect of the question at all. Prior to eliminating clause 17, there was power for a Special Tribunal to review.
– The position now is that once an agreement is filed with the Arbitration Court, and abnormal conditions arise in a particular industry, the Arbitration Court will have- to be moved to deal with it.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– Then I desire to be clear on the point.
– This clause is merely a modification of clause 17, which reads -
Notwithstanding- anything in this Act, if a Special Tribunal is satisfied that abnormal circumstances have arisen which affect the fundamental justice of any terms of an award made by the Court,……….
Not an award made by the Tribunal. It may set aside or vary the terms so affected. We have eliminated that clause; but that does not affect in any way the power of the Special Tribunal to set aside its own award or an agreement made in pursuance thereof.
– But this refers to the award of a Local Board.
– The same thing applies to Local Boards, and a dispute arising out of a decision of a Local Board or Special Tribunal can again be referred. Clause 17 does not affect the position.
– Supposing I grant that, the point is that once the finding of a Local Board is filed, and unforeseen circumstances arise necessitating a further review after the finding has been registered, there is no means of dealing with it other than through the Court, and that may take a long tune.
– It would not take long.
– Our experience proves that it does.
– We must have finality at same time, and there is no advantage in having an agreement that can be reopened.
– But I am referring only to abnormal circumstances.
– That is not affected in any way by the elimination of clause 17, and there is nothing in the Bill to prevent a de facto dispute being referred to another Tribunal.
– If that can be done, I shall be satisfied.
– I know of nothing to prevent it, and the honorable member may accept «ny assurance that the position is as I have stated it. I do not want the honorable member to be under the impression that agreements, when filed, will not be binding.
– In the event of unforeseen circumstances arising, I do not want an organization to be inconvenienced.’
– There will be the same freedom in connexion with disputes arising under abnormal circumstances as there is in the case in original disputes.
– Very well.
.- As the result of a hearing before a Local Board, an agreement may ba reached which may be filed, without reference to. a Special Tribunal, when it becomes an award of the Court.
– No, it is binding on the parties as if it were an award of the Court.
– And enforceable in that way.
– Under the Act, as it now stands, the Court can vary its own awards under certain circumstances; but it is proposed to amend the law.
– Does the Prime Minister say that when an agreement is filed as an award it may be varied by a Special Tribunal?
– The determination of a Local Board must precede the agreement. The agreement in itself 13 the result of a determination. It is easy to make mistakes, and if it is found that the word “ determination “ does not cover “ agreement “ in the ordinary sense, clause 27 can be amended accordingly when the Bill is before the Senate.
– If an agreement is arrived at under clause 26, is filed with the Industrial Registrar, and becomes enforceable as if it were an award of the Court, will it then be subject to the review of the Special Tribunal ?
– There .is a distinct difference between a forced determination and an agreement which is accepted. In the event of a forced decision, a Special Tribunal has power to review it, but I am inclined to think that an agreement arrived at before a Local Board would be regarded as final, and could not be reviewed. I know of no reason why an agreement between the parties should not be reviewed by a Local Board under abnormal circumstances. There must be finality somewhere, and if the parties agree, the arrangement should stand.
– Always provided that in the event of something exceptional occurring the agreement should be subject to further consideration.
– That would be a new dispute.
– That could easily be overcome by the agreement containing a provision for a review under certain circumstances. If we go any further. I am afraid an agreement would be regarded as a mere scrap of paper.
– I do not want that.
.- Under clause 26, when an agreement made before a Local Board as to the whole or part of any industrial dispute is filed with the Industrial Registrar, it will “thereupon have effect in all respects, and be binding on the parties, and enforceable as if it were an award of the Court,” and now that clause 17 has been eliminated, it will be impossible for an award of the Court to be varied.
– I think the honorable member is wrong. We are providing for that contingency. In clause 10 of the Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbi tration Act, which has been introduced, it is provided that -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, if the Court is satisfied that abnormal circumstances have arisen which affect the fundamental justice of any terms of an award, the Court may, in the same or in another proceeding, sot aside or vary any terms so affected.
– The “ Court “ there referred to is the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– And that will take away the right from the Local Boards.
– No; clause 26 merely provides for an agreement made before a Local Board, and filed with the Industrial Registrar, being binding “as if it were an award of the Court.”
– The Industrial Peace Bill will be governed by the amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to which the Prime Minister has just referred, and clause 10 of the amending Bill provides that the variation of awards shall be the function of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. My point is that the Tribunals for which the Industrial Peace Bill provides will not have power to vary an award, because, with the elimination of clause 17, that power will be reserved to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– I should not like to say that the honorable member is wrong,. but even if that were the position, there would still be a remedy.
– Clause 10 of the Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act refers only to the variation of an award made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– My point is that with the elimination of clause 17, ‘ once an agreement made at the hearing before a Local Board is filed with the Industrial Registrar, it will become an award of the Court, and there will be no power under this Bill to vary that award. The power will be reserved to the Court, and not to the Industrial Tribunal for which this Bill provides.
– I am quite sure that the Court would not have jurisdiction. The only point as to which I am in doubt is whether the Local Board would have the power.
– The Prime Minister will undertake to see that, before the Bill is finally passed, power is given these Local Tribunals to vary an award?
– This Tribunal will have exactly the same power in regard to an agreement made before it as is provided for under clause 10 of the amending Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, in relation to awards or agreements made by the Court.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 27 -
– I desire to move -
That the words “ Special Tribunal,” line 3, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court”.
My desire is that this power shall be given to the Court, and not to a Special Tribunal.
– That point has already been decided.
Clause agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes), by leave, agreed to -
That the time allotted for the remainder of the Committee stage of the Bill be extended to 3.30 p.m. this day and the time fixed for the remaining stages of the Bill be extended until 4 p.m. to-day.
In Committee (‘Consideration resumed) :
Any contravention of this Act or of the regulations for which no other penalty is provided shall be punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding £100, or both.
.- I hope that the Committee will negative this clause. Regulations ofwhich the House knows nothing may be prescribed by the Governor-General in Council, and for any violation of them this penalty would apply. I object altogether to the provision of penalties in connexion with this Bill. This is really a conciliation measure, and it should not provide, therefore, for the imposition of penalties. It wouldbe far better to depend upon the honour and good sense of the parties to whom the Bill will relate. Throughout the arbitration legislation of both the Commonwealth and the States various penalties have been provided. If my recollection serves me rightly, while Mr. Wade was Premier of New South Wales, penalties amounting to no less than £5,000 were imposed under the State Act on various organizations and individuals, but not one penny was collected-. That being so, these penalties go for nought. It would be more acceptable to the people if we relied upon them to honour any compact entered into by virtue of this measure. Let us take care that the Bill is in every respect conciliatory. We have provided at the end of the Bill that whatever penalties are necessary may be prescribed.
– But by clause 16 all the penalties for which the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides are incorporated in this Bill.
– Then we should introduce a further clause to overcome that difficulty. In justification of my attitude I point out that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), during the war, appointed a Special Tribunal to deal with industrial troubles in relation to the coal mining industry they came to a certain agreement under the operation of the War Precautions Act. There were no penalties attached to a breach of that agreement, but they loyally abided by it, and it expires in October, about two months hence. The men gave their word of honour, and if that is regarded as sufficient in connexion with proceedings under this Bill, the measure will be made more acceptable to the people generally.
.- I am inclined to agree with the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). Fines are foreign to the atmosphere of conciliation. It is my intention to suggest the insertion of a new clause, as follows : -
No sitting of any Council, Special Tribunal, Conference, or Local Board constituted in the terms of this Act shall be held in any room furnished as a Court or judicial chamber.
I do not know whether that is couched in correct parliamentary phrasing, but it sufficiently indicates my intention. It is important, to my mind, to preserve the atmosphere of conciliation. When men are brought into a Court and see the bench, the bar table, and the witnessbox, they all suggest a legal quarrel, and that is a factor I should like to remove from the consideration of differences under this Bill.
– I shall deal in a moment with the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks). The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) proposes to delete clause 28. Let me put this to the honorable member: An employer is summoned before a Court, and refuses to appear. If there is no penalty for such a refusal he can continue to flout the Court with impunity.
– This is the biggest fine for contempt of Court I have ever heard of.
– I think that what the honorable member for Hunter has in mind is that there should be no penalty for breach of an agreement or award; but those are not the only violations of the law with which we might be called upon to deal. We have to get evidence, and if people will not come to the Court how can we get it? It may be necessary to put certain questions. We may wish to examine a man as to his selling price. We may desire to say. “ You state that the fair price is 17s. 9d. ; but now, as a matter of fact, how much is it?” He may know what we desire to ask, and may refuse to appear. I suppose that, if he were at liberty to do so without consequences, he would not appear in the circumstances, if he had any sense.
– May I make a suggestion to meet the point the right honorable member is arguing? I am quite prepared to prescribe a penalty for any person who refuses to obey a summons. For instance, in sub-clause 3 of clause 19 provision is made that any person summoned shall attend a conference and continue his attendance as directed by the person or tribunal summoning the conference. I should be satisfied to add to that a provision for a penalty upon any one disobeying the summons. But clause 28 is a drag-net provision, covering penalties in all sorts of cases, and for breaches of regulations of which we have no knowledge.
-I am afraid that we cannot overcome the difficulty in that way. I shall refer, not to a strike, but to a lock-out. We know that a lock-out is a monstrous and abominable crime, whilst a strike is that resolute indication of the onward march of the people towards the goal of eternal liberty. What the honorable member proposes is that for the crime of a lock-out there should be no penalty. Shame! Shame! Where are the banner-bearers of Bolshevism when such things are said? They are tied to the chariot-wheels of Capital. They are proposing to allow Capital to do with impunity just what it pleases. No, we must have penalties. How do Lenin and Trotsky deal with these matters? They say, “ Work. If you won’t work,– .”
Honorable members know what follows.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has evidently been influenced by the Russian terms to the Poles.
– The only poll that interests me is the electoral poll; and, thank God, that is not imminent. I quite understand what the honorable member for Hunter has in view, and I am prepared to meet him this far: He says that we do not know what the regulations under this Bill will provide for. I admit that, and I am, therefore, prepared, in regard to the imposition of penalties, to adopt the regulations of the Arbitration Court. They have been in force for years, and honorable members know what they are. They would not hurt anybody. The honorable member has himself said that under them fines to the extent of £5,000 were imposed, and that npt a penny of that money was collected.
– That was under a State Act.
– Well, I do not know that, under the ‘Commonwealth law, we have done any better. I remember that my union was fined a great deal of money, and if the accounts of the union are inspected I do not think that any item will be found on the debit side of the ledger to represent the payment of that fine. I do not know how they do these things, but they are done.
We must be a’ble to secure evidence, and if a man absolutely refuses to give evidence, and ignores or flouts the Court, we must be able to deal with him. I know of no other way to deal with such cases than by the imposition of penalties. The clause refers to a contravention of the Act or of the regulations under the
Act, and I am prepared, so far as the imposition of penalties is concerned, to agree that the regulations specified shall be those adopted and in use by the Arbitration Court of the Commonwealth. That is, I -think, .a fair compromise.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) knows very well that, under the two final clauses of this Bill, penalties might be imposed for many offences. If each clause were completed by a penal provision attaching to a breach of it, we could understand it. The Prime Minister knows that these penal provisions might ‘be used against the officials of unions, not because they would not give evidence, but because they would not appear when their unions instructed them not to do so. He knows, also, that whilst the employer can pay a fine, the labour official cannot do so. If the intention were to treat both alike, there would ,be provision, not for a fine, but for imprisonment only. Again, it is not fair to imprison the individual employer or labour official in these cases. The employer, in the case of a business corporation, will represent the shareholders, and the labour official the members of his organization. In those circumstances, to he just, if punishment is inflicted it should be imposed upon every shareholder of a business corporation or every member of a union, and we should gaol the whole lot.
– That might be an excellent way of carrying on a strike.
– Where provision is made for a fine and imprisonment the greater punishment will fall on the representative of the worker. The representative of employers can pay a fine, whilst the Prime Minister will admit that the secretary of a union may not be able to do so.
– Not only that, it might pay a large corporation to pay a fine of £500 day after day for a week, since its profits would continue to be made. No labour organization could pay fines of that kind. I regard these final clauses as the worst part of the. Bill. I have not taken much interest in the measure, because I think it is useless, but
I do take some interest in these penal clauses, because under them those I represent will suffer most.
– There is an easy way to escape penalties, and that is to obey the law.
– I am against the imposition of penalties under this Bill, because I know that there are thousands of workers who will not abide by the decisions of these Courts, and it is not right that we should place them in such a position that they may have to go to gaol, whilst an employer similarly situated might easily escape imprisonment by payment of a fine. These penal provisions must be deleted from the Bill if it is to be acceptable to the workers of the community.
– Honorable members do not appreciate that a law without sanction is useless. There must be behind every law at least the shadow of force. Civilization itself rests upon it. Bolshevism rests upon it. The Bolshevists say, “ Be free, or I will disembowel you. Guard the standard of liberty, or else I will cut your head off.” These -are the anthems of Bolshevism, and, modified and watered down, they are the foundation of the pillars of the temple of civilization. We say, “Keep the law; love God; honour the King; be faithful to your wife - because if you don’t something may happen.” Now the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) says that unless this law is left without penalties it is going to be useless. I ask honorable members to look at the Ten Commandments, and to look at the Crimes Act. The Crimes Act is a living, breathing, testimony to the fact that mankind is not always amenable tq reason, and to the still small voice of right crying in the wilderness. Justice comes to us and says, “ My friend, let us reason together,” and, keeping one hand behind the back, continues, “ and if you won’t reason together” - and then the hand with the weapon is produced - “ we must see what can be done.” The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has referred to the workers in such a way that any one would think they would be in certain danger under this Bill. We have been discussing the measure for some time, and I think I have made almost every amendment that I have been asked to make.
– That makes it more dangerous still.
– I suppose it does, but that was not for the honorable member to say, but for us. If I have erred, I have done so because I have endeavoured to treat this as a non-party measure, and have listened to the counsel of both sides of the House. Counsel from the opposite side has been more vociferous, or, shall I say, more articulate, than counsel on this side. Without penalties the measure is absolutelyworthless. There is the League of Nations. What value has the League of Nations unless there is behind it some force? Do honorable members realize that the greatest war in history took place under the shadow of The Hague Tribunal? In The Hague Tribunal, compassed about by 10,000 bayonets, the Angel of Peace was securely guarded. - so securely guarded, in fact, that she never got out for five years. I am prepared to strike out the words “or of the regulations,” and leave the clause to provide that, if there is any contravention of the Bill for which no penalty is provided, it will be punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding £100, or both. I move - That the words “ or of the regulations “ be left out.
– To be fair to all parties, remove the provision for a fine, and make the punishment imprisonment only.
– I have not the slightest objection; but go down to Melbourne Ports, and tell the electors you have voted for putting: them all in gaol, and see what they say.
– I am willing to take the risk.
.- Personally I am rather inclined to share the view that Acts of Parliament must be backed up by, or based on, penalties as the last resort; but I suggest to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that it cannot be sufficient to adopt the penalties provided in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. For instance, there is nothing in that Act or rules relating to the Commonwealth Council, District Councils, or the non-appearance of witnesses. I suggest that, before the Bill comes back to us, he should intimate the penalties he proposes in respect of every offence or potential offence under the Bill not provided for in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? Then, I ask him also to remember that to myself, and, I think, to every honorable member on this side, it is repugnant that severe penalties should be provided for, and the imposition of them left to regulations which we do not see.
– That provision will be struck out.
– If the Prime Minister will strike out the imposition of penalties by means of regulations, and adopt, as far as possible, the penalties prescribed by the Arbitration Act, I shall be satisfied.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act, and in particular prescribing penalties not exceeding imprisonment for a term of six months, or afine of £100, or both, for any contravention of any regulation made in pursuance of this Act.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That all the words after “Act,” line6, be left out.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) suggested that the meeting places of the Tribunals should be other than a Court, and I agree with that idea, because the less formal these assemblies are the better they are likely to get on ; a round-table conference without the paraphernalia of a Court of justice is much more likely to produce good results. I cannot at the present time insert a clause to that effect, but I shall confer with the Solicitor-General, and have one inserted in the Senate.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 27a. ( 1 ) When an alleged industrial dispute is referred to a Special Tribunal or a Local Board, any party to the proceeding may apply to the High Court for a decision on the question whether the dispute or any part thereof exists, or is threatened or impending or probable, as an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State or on any question of law arising in relation to the dispute or to the proceeding or to any award or order of the Court.
The High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the question.
The jurisdiction of the High Court under this section may be exercised by any Justice of the High Court sitting in Chambers.
The decision of the High Court or the Justice on the question shall be final and conclusive, and shall not be subject to any appeal to the High Court in its appellate jurisdiction, and shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called in question, or be subject to prohibition, mandamus, or injunction, in any Court on anv account whatever.”
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 27R. ( 1 ) No award or order of a Special
Tribunal or Local Board shall be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called in question, or be subject to prohibition, mandamus, or injunction, in any Court on any account whatever.
The chairman of a Special Tribunal or Local Board may, if he thinks lit, in any proceeding before the Tribunal or Board, as the case may be, at any stage and upon such terms as he thinks fit, state a case in writing for the opinion of the High Court upon any question arising in the proceeding which in his opinion is a question of law.
The High Court shall hear and determine the question, and remit the case with its opinion to the chairman; and may make such order as to costs as it thinks fit.”
.- I suggest that the following words be added: - “and shall be deemed to be the legislative exercise of all the powers contained in the Commonwealth Constitution Act in addition to those contained in section 51, sub-sections 35 and 39.” I desire that this Bill shall not merely be deemed as an exercise of the powers relating to conciliation and arbitration, but that if there is any other power in the Constitution it shall be held valid in respect thereof.
– I cannot insert those words now, but if the clause is allowed to pass, and we have any wider authority. I shall have an amendment made in another place.
.- This is a new piece of legislation. I have on the notice-paper an amendment providing for the insertion ofa new clause-
– The time allowed for the consideration of the measure in Committee has expired, and no further debate can be allowed. It now becomes my duty to put to the Committee the question that the remainder of the Bill be agreed to, including the amendment of the Prime Minister.
– I rise to order. There is no amendment before the Corrrnittee.
– Yes, the Prime Minister moved an amendment.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The insertion of proposed new clause 27b was moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and was debated by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). The standing ordersays that the question which was being debated when the time allowed for the consideration of a Bill in Committee expires shall be forthwith put.
Amendment agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I think it will be admitted that the members on this side of the House have kept their promise respecting the measure. We said at the outset that we had no intention of obstructing it, but that we objected to the application of the guillotine to its discussion, because that might shut out the consideration of important amendm ents. I am pleased that we have been able practically to get through the Bill before the guillotine was applied. The Bill has emerged from Committee a much better measure than it was. Many improvements have been made in it. As I said on the second reading, the establishment of Local Boards capable of dealing promptly with disputes as they occur, is a step in advance in our industrial legislation, and I think something that the community is looking for. My regret is that the Government did not comply more fully with the wishes of the Opposition for the amendment of the Bill. Had it accepted the amendment of which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) gave notice, recognising the trade unions and industrial organizations of the country as those which should be represented on the Tribunals appointed, and had the penalty clauses been omitted, the Opposi-. tion couldhave accepted the measure, and recommended it to the workers outside. We showed that the amendment was vital to the success of the Bill, and did our best to impress the Government with the need for it. I repeat what I have said in this connexion. In passing industrial legislation, we are dealing with the existing organizations, not with organizations that may spring into existence at a time of industrial trouble. From the beginning, it is the industrial unions that have been recognised in connexion with the settlement of disputes. That being so, I do not know why objection was taken to their recognition under the Bill. The industrial organizations are the parliaments of the workers. The members of the Trades and Labour Councils, and the officials of the unions, are the representatives of Labour, just as we here are the representatives of our constituents. They have won their position by their abilities, and it is their duty to look after the industrial interests of their fellow men. Why then should we refuse to recognise them when we are trying to secure industrial peace? It is for the organized workers that we are passing this measure. The Committee made a fatal mistake in negativing the amendment, and I must vote against the third reading of the Bill because of that action, and because of the penalty clauses. Nevertheless, I believe that this measure, when passed, will provide machinery which should be used to prevent the industrial crisis that appears to be brewing. The men who desire a Special Tribunal to settle their troubles quickly now have an opportunity to get such a Tribunal. The leaders of the men are often maligned, it being made to appear that they provoke strikes; but we have now provided a Tribunal for the settlement of disputes which will be constituted of representatives of the workers, representatives of the employers, and an independent chairman, and it can deal with the trouble promptly. I hope and believe that this machinery will be availed of by the miners. The big, strong, militant organizations, such as that of the miners, are not injured by the refusal to give them the recognition in the Bill which we have contended they should have, but the smaller organizations are injured; and the Prime Minister will do well to have inserted in the Senate a provision recognising the Trades Han Councils and the industrial unions in making appointments to the Tribunals provided for by the Bill. If he does that, and eliminates the penalty clauses, the measure will be, in my opinion, the best that has yet been passed by an,y Australian Parliament, Commonwealth or State. The concession for which we asked was a small one, and it has been demanded by trade organizationsin all parts of Australia. It is only such organizations that will come under the Bill. Why, then, should we create the suspicion that the measure is providing for unknown circumstances, and the representation of non-unionists, men who in tin es of peace do nothing to help their fellows, but when industrial trouble arises, do their best to injure them.
– I have supported this measure because it encourages the idea of con- ciliation and the round-table conference which is very essential at the present time. That is a valuable feature of the Bill which I hope will be exercised. I have also been influenced to do so by the urgent assurances of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that some of the provisions were essential to deal with the present grave coal crisis. I, however, express my great disappointment that Part IV. has not been made an adjunct of the Arbitration Court. The Bill seems to set up competing authorities, and I fear that the result will he endless confusion and chaos. If it could have been arranged, as it easily could, that Part IV. should be worked under the regis of the Arbitration Court, some very valuable results might have followed, and there would be no risk of the tribunals running counter to the Arbitration Act. I am relieved to some extent, however, to learn that the Government idea is that this should be only a temporary measure, and that they propose to later introduce a comprehensive measure which will coordinate all the leading features of the present arbitration law, and the principles embodied in the Bill. If that is done, and the measure is an outcome of co-operation on the part of employers and employees, we may look for some real benefits. I hope that a big effort will be made to that end. We have also the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that this Bill will be exercised only as an emergency measure. If that policy is followed, some of the disadvantages I fearmay be minimized.
.- The many amendments made in Committee are in themselves evidence that the measure was ill-digested and illconsidered before its introduction. Those amendments have improved the measure to some extent. I regret that I was detained in Sydney by causes beyond my control, and was thus prevented from being in the House during the earlier stages of the measure. The Bill will duplicate the authorities set up to deal with the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, and will thus probably lead to great confusion. I regret that during the second-reading debate the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) saw fit to make an attack upon the President of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. He made misstatements of facts, and I think it is our duty to say that we dissent from them. It is somewhat remarkable that in a measure providing for the creation of four different tribunals, we should provide that the principal tribunal shall inquire into matters that are well within our knowledge. We all know the main cause of industrial unrest. The present Government was largely responsible for it, owing to their failure to deal with profiteering and their arbitrary exercise of the powers conferred by the War Precautions Act.If the Government would exercise their powers under the Constitution with regard to profiteering, and would also cease to operate the War Precautions Act, they would do much to remove the causes of industrial unrest. I cannot view with equanimity, or as sincere and bonafide, any measure which emanates from a Government who refused to take those steps to remove the main causes of industrial unrest. We are told that they seek to do that by means of this Bill. When the Commonwealth Parliament proposes to legislate, we must have close regard to the powers contained in section 51 of the Constitution. Notwithstanding what has been said by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) with regard to what he considers the two blemishes in this Bill, I say that this measure is at fault, inasmuch as it is not based upon all the powers that the Commonwealth Parliament possesses. On the contrary, clause 2 sets out that the measure shall apply “ to industrial matters in relation to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and. settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any’ one State.” Why do the Government confine the basis of the Bill to such an extent? Why is not the Bill based on all the powers that this Parliament possesses. They have based it upon one power only, and when it is interpreted, the Courts will . hold that Parliament itselfhas expressed its intention to exercise only one power, and that it was not its intention that the provisions of the Bill should be supported by any of the other powers conferred by the Constitution. This limitation satisfies me that the Government intend that the measure shall, from a constitutional standpoint prove futile. Almost any award that may be made by a tribunal under the Bill may be attacked as being unconstitutional, because it may be shown that the dispute did not extend beyond the limits of any one State; whereas, if the Bill were an exercise of all the Commonwealth powers in regard to taxation and other things, many of its provisions could be supported that cannot be upheld on the limited ground upon which it is based. Cases will be taken to the Courts of Appeal, which will say that the provisions of the Bill are unconstitutional; and then the Prime Minister will go to the people and say, “ I told you so.” We know, however, that the foundation has not been laid as widely as it should have been. Take, for example, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in regard to the coal-mining industry. He desired that power should be given to investigate that industry from the point of production to the point of consumption, whether in Australia^ or overseas. To that, the Prime Minister threw out a suggestion that such an investigation would be held to be unconstitutional. If the inquiry were made in exercise of the taxation power, and no one can deny that the ascertaining of the profits of a company would be an exercise of the taxation power, the investigation would be held to be absolutely valid. Is there any inquiry from the point of production to the point of consumption that would not be an exercise of the taxation power? But the Bill itself declares that it is intended to be only an exercise of the Commonwealth power in regard to conciliation and arbitration. I ask the Prime Minister, as a proof of the iona fides of the Government, to see that amendments ar<> made in another place to set out that the measure is intended as an exercise of all our powers under the Constitution. If he does that and removes from the first part of the Bill the limitation of its scope to only one power he will be going far towards making this a constitutional ‘measure, but if he leaves the measure in its present form I am satisfied that clause 2 will be regarded as an invitation to the Court to find that its provisions are invalid.
.- In reply to the honorable member for
Flinders (Mr. Bruce) I should like to quote a passage from Mr. Harrison Ord, Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria. It is as follows -
Minimum Wage in all Factories.
This modest provision simply requires that* every employee in a “ factory or workroom “ should receive not less than 2s. (id. per week or 2.5 farthings an hour. It will hardly be credited that some of the largest dressmaking and millinery firms in the colonies will resort to all kinds of subterfuges to avoid this payment. A girl is taken on as an “ apprentice,” so it is said. She is not an apprentice in the remotest sense of the word, except that she is required to pay a premium. She can be sent away or can leave at a moment’s notice. But, as she is “ apprentice,” the officers are calmly informed she is charged a premium of exactly 2s. Gd. a week. The kind employer will then say that, instead of insisting on the money down, he allows her to return to him on Monday the 2s. 6d. he pays her on Saturday. He explains it is out of consideration for the poverty of the poor girl’s parents. He allows her to pay his premium in this way. It is doubted if the above statement would be credited but for the fact that the system has become public through prosecution for the very offence described above. If one thing is more offensive than another, it seems to be the practice of such deeds as the above under cover of “ kindness “ to the poverty of a poor girl’s parents or the poor girl herself. Others charge a premium monthly. That is, the girl “ hoards up,” as a magistrate once described her action, her 2s. 6d. per week, and returns it at the end of a month. Others insist, “ it looks a little better,” on getting 10s. in advance, which is returned to the girl at the rate of 2s. Gd. a week. .Another plan is to really obtain a premium from the girl’s parents, and pay it back at the rate of 2s. 6d. per week. In the latter case there is really the appearance of apprenticeship, and it. is possible that the girl will have a chance of learning her trade. I know of cases in which it is the practice to keep the girl till she wants something more than 2s. 6d. a week, when she is promptly dismissed, and another “ apprentice “ taken on. The whole practice seems to me contemptible in the highest degree.
The average wage in the dressmaking and millinery trade is about 10s. lod. per week, and that includes the pay of highly-paid forewomen. In 1897 the average wage for 4,164 workers was 8s. 8d. Imagine making a girl serve at her trade for a year for nothing, when the average wage for over 4,000 persons is 8s. 8d. I would strongly urge that the law should be amended so that premiums under any circumstances for females should be made illegal, or if premiums are allowed, it should only be on condition that the girls are legally bound, and are really taught their trade. Premiums are not exacted in any other trade to any extent, and it is hard to understand why it should obtain in the worst-paid trade of any size in thecolony. In 1896 it was absolutely the lowest, in 1897 it was the lowest but one, namely, corset manufacture, and in that trade only thirty persons were returned for the wages- statistics. At the close of 1898 there were 4,554 females working in dressmaking, millinery, &c., at an average cost of 10s.9d. per week, and 3,813 of these at an average wage of 8s. 7d.
I shall conclude with just one more quotation from the report, in the hope that this Bill will eliminate for all time the disputes which nobody on either side of the House wishes to continue -
On this subject MissCuthbertson reports -
In some cases I have found that the 2s.6d. per week is not paid at all, but is kept back for value received; in others the girls receive the 2s.6d. and hand it back at once. Again, others are allowed to consider it their own from Saturday to Monday. Some employers take it on the time-payment system of 10s. per month, while the luminaries of the dressmaking profession demand that it be paid down in a lump sum varying from £6 10s. to. £10. If these girls employed in the trade were able, when they had completed a period of some years to earn anything like a living wage, it would not be so bad, but the dressmaking statistics for the year 1807 show that the average wage paid in the trade for that year was 10s.10d, and as the large salaries paid to the heads of departments were included in these returns, it will be seen that the wages of the “ rank and file “ of dressmakers must be very low indeed.
That is an indication of what Flinderslane was twenty years ago, and the “ Lane “ is respectable to-day only because the law compels it to be so. I believe that this Bill has been made a means of trying to injure one of the greatest men who has ever adorned the Bench - Mr. Justice Higgins - who worthily wears the mantle that fell from the shoulders of the late Justice Higin- botham. The record of Mr. Justice Higgins will be such that no Minister or Ministry will be able to destroy it.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– (By leave.) - I move -
Thatleave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to make provision for the acceptance of a mandate for the government of certain territories and islands in the Pacific Ocean, and to make immediate provision for the civil government of the said territories and islands, and for other purposes.
.- I do not wish to object to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) having leave -
– I asked the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) whether he would object to my submitting this motion without notice, and he agreed; but if the honorable member for West Sydney is also the leader of the party, of course, that settles the matter.
– I do not object to the right honorable gentleman submitting the motion without notice, which will probably be agreed to, but I contend that when such a motion is submitted, the House should begiven some idea of what is intended to be done by the measure to be introduced. Each individual member is entitled to that information.
– If you will wait until the measure is brought on you will know what it contains.
– I do not wish to wait until then. I want to know on this motion.
– Oh, do what you like! You can get out of this !
– I shall not get out; I insist on my rights.
– You come here in your off-time, and do not do enough to entitle you to draw £200 a year.
– The Prime Minister may give us an exhibition of temper if he chooses, but I am here as a member of this House, representing a constituency in Australia, and before I agree to any motion I want to know exactly what it is. It is not the first time I have said this and I hope it will be the last occasion on which I may have to refer to.it, and that the practice which the right honorablegentleman . is nowpursuing will be discontinued. Notice of such a motion should be given, and, when it issubmitted to the House, the mover should advance reasons why it should be agreed to. The House is entitled to disagree to any motion submitted, and unless a motion’ shows on the face of it that it should be accepted, I shall not be preparedto agree to it untilI am given sufficient reasons for so doing. Any motion may be amended. I may desire to move an amendment to this motion, in order to broaden the purpose of the Bill to be introduced and this is the stage at which it should be done. The Prime Minister may chatter away to himself, and become as annoyed as much as he chooses, but his doing so will not deflect me from my intention to take steps to get away from the practice of rising at the last minute and submitting motions without any explanation whatever. I insist brr my’ rights as an individual member of this House.
– The honorable member will insist upon just such rights asthe House will permithim to exercise!
– I shall exercise all the rights thatan individual member may exercise, and, if sufficient honorable members will back me up, the right honorable gentleman will remain here until sufficient reasons are advanced for submitting this motion.
– I would like to remind the honorable member that there is a House to be considered as wellas himself.
– There is a House to be considered, but every individual member of the House possesses rights. It is not a matter of a private coterie having all the say in settling what procedure this House is to follow.
– The honorable member is obviously very much annoyed at a thine that happened quite recently.
– What is that?
– The honorable member’s present position in this House is very obvious.
– That is very cheap. The attitude which I am now adopting is one which I took up from the moment when I first came into this Cnamber, because I noted a certain procedure calculated to render it impossible, at a specific stage to broaden an oraer of leave. We are now at a point where honorable members can broaden the order of leavein order to move amendments subsequently. I understand that this Bill has to do with mandates. That is a very important subject which honorable members should be able to discuss at every stage, and they should be informed of what the Government proposes to do at every step. Some time ago a Bill was passed having to do with an agreement in respect of Nauru Island. In the course of his remarks at the second reading stage the Prime Minister stated that the House would be given an opportunity of judeing whether or not the amount to be paid in connexion with the whole matter was sufficient. The House was never given that opportunity and, as a matter of fact, the money was paid over, I believe, without the authority of Parliament, either upon the Estimates or in the Act itself. It was actually paid over before the British Bill was ratified by the House of Commons and. the House of Lords. I do notwish to be found in the ridiculous position of having the public say to me, as a member of this Parliament, that the Commonwealth Government are paying money over without authority and without honorable members knowing anything about it.
– The money in respect of the Nauru Island agreementwas paid on the same day that the other Governments concerned paid their share.
– That may be so, but the other parties whichpaid over had the authority of their Parliaments to do so.
– But the honorable member has just said that the British Parliament had not passed the measure when the money was paid over by the Commonwealth.
– That is so, but the Governments which paid first secured the authority of their Parliaments. The New Zealand Government received the authorization of the Dominion Parliament before making payment. This Government, however, can apoarently pay over without reference to the Legislature, and, because I rise to object to that procedure, I am insulted by the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member could not be insulted.
– The Prime Minister need not think that he can prevent me from exercising the whole of my rights as a member of this House by resorting to any gibes that he may level ; and, if lt comes to levelling gibes,I could remind him of some matters which would make very unpleasant hearing.
– The honorable member can do what he likes : but what he likes most is to be away from this House.
– The Prime Minister would like to have me away from this House but. unfortunately for him, he has not the power to keep me away.
– No; I would not have the honorable member anywhere but where he is.
– Order! These interjections and exchanges between honorable members must cease.
– I am here by the will of the electors of West Svdney, whom the right honorable gentleman himself used to represent. But he ran. away from them.
– Yes, and what did you do with Wallace?
– It is in the interests of the electors of West Sydney that I am demanding to know all about these mandates, and about these measures generally in regard to which leave for their introduction is being sought. I hope other honorable members also will want to know the reasons for the action of Ministers at this stage. The Government cannot have matters just as they want them. The Prime Minister cannot brow-beat any honorable member who stands up for the rights of his constituents.
– Bah !
– The Prime Minister may’ blow himself out and puff himself up; but that makes me only the more determined to insist upon my rights.
– The honorable member wants to let the people know he is’ here before he goes away for another month.
– The right honorable gentleman now makes’ a suggestion that I was away from this House when I was not entitled to be away. I was absent last week for health reasons.
– I was suffering from a cold.
– Yes; I noted the remedy which the honorable member took for his ill-health.
– Whatever the right honorable gentleman noted, I want him or some other Minister, to explain the provisions of the Bill under reference. It may be that I shall see fit to move an amendment which will broaden the leave or curtail it. I hope that some other Minister, if not the Prime Minister, will state reasons why the proposed order of leave should be given. I have no objection to it being given without notice, but I have not waived my right to hear the reasons why the Prime Minister should seek leave to introduce the Bill.
– I cannot understand why the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) should refuse the information sought; he could give it in less than five minutes. I see nothing wrong in the desire of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr, Ryan). He is seeking to conserve the rights of honorable members. I want to hear something about these mandates. I want to know if the subject is one in regard to which there must be hurry. 1 want to know what form of civil administration is to be set up.
– The honorable member will not let the Prime Minister inform him.
– I will sit down at once if the Prime Minister will agree to do so, or if the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) is prepared to give that information.
– It is all contained in the Bill ; but the honorable member will not let the Prime Minister introduce it.
– When the Treasurer and the Prime Minister were on this side of the House there were no honorable members more insistent than they were upon the recognition of their rights.
– I challenge the honorable member to find an instance in which I sought to block a motion for the introduction of a measure.
– I did not say that the Treasurer had done so, and I am not attempting to infer it.
– What the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) is asking for has never been sought or given in this House.
– It has often occurred. In 1913, I recall that advantage was taken, when leave was sought to introduce a Bill, to ask for certain particulars from the Minister concerned. This same point vij ago by the honorable member for West Sydney, who then remarked that in future he would insist upon the “reservation of his rights. This is not a question for the attention of the Opposition solely. Honorable members supporting the Government may some day find themselves in Opposition, and they will then require information upon various matters introduced by a Labour Minister. What will be their attitude 1 I want to know what form these mandates are to take. There will be a lot of money expended.
– Why not let honorable members get home ?
– I intend to do so. I am about to catch a train myself.
– Well, it is of no use to punish the House.
– The Prime Minister interjected in an insulting manner while the honorable member for West Sydney was speaking; and I promise him that if there are any forms of the House to which recourse may be -had to interfere with his desire to advance business I intend to avail myself of them. 1 am not objecting to the motion, but I desire to suggest that in the future, when the Prime Minister has a measure to introduce he should give reasons for so doing.
– I would not obtrude at this juncture if it were’ not for the manner in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) treated the statements of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). Evidently the Prime Minister is under the impression that he has a servile majority in this House, and that with the assistance of that majority he can do whatever he pleases.
– Order! The honorable member must not apply that term to an honorable member.
– The Prime Minister spoke in that strain, and if he had treated the House in a less cavalier manner he might have been able to have had his way. Honorable members of this Chamber are npt prepared to allow the Prime Minister to treat them in such a manner. It is easy for the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to say that, if we had waited until the Bill was introduced, we would have known all about it. That does not meet the position at all. The Prime Minister could easily allow this motion to stand over until next week, but if there is any necessity for extreme haste the reasons should be given. The Government are seeking leave to bring in a Bill for certain purposes, and as the honorable member for West Sydney has stated, we may desire to widen the order of leave. It is quite competent for an honorable member to extend the order of leave to enable certain amendments to be moved at a later stage.
– What territories does the honorable member desire a mandate over?
– The territories over which the Government are to have a mandate are set out in the Bill, but we have not seen the measure.
– How can the honorable member see the Bill before it is introduced?
– Why all this haste? If the Treasurer was on the Opposition benches he would take a similar stand to that which we have adopted.
– I do not think I would. This is more or less a matter of courtesy as to the rights of debate.
– A matter of courtesy! I have never heard a request submitted in a more discourteous manner,, and it is because of the attitude of the Prime Minister that we are objecting.
– The Bill is to make provis:on for the acceptance of a mandate for the government of certain terri- tories and islands in the Pacific Ocean, and for making immediate provision for the civil government of the said islands and for other, purposes.
– Why was not that information given before?
– The Prime Minister gave it.
– He did not. Moreover, it does not go far enough, as the Treasurer has merely given the usual verbiage used in introducing any measure. We may desire to extend the order of leave.
– I am not opposing that attitude, but am simply suggesting that you do not now insist upon exercising all the rights you possess. May I remind the honorable member that, if every honorable member insisted on his full rights, no business could be done.
– I can quite understand that.
– Then why keep on referring to your rights?
Mp. PARKER MOLONEY.- Our constituents naturally expect us to exercise our rights. If the Treasurer had been in the Prime Minister’s place we might have allowed the motion to pass. The Treasurer now says that he admits we have rights, but he does not want us to exercise them ; but the Prime Minister made a cheap kind of imputation against other honorable members, and gave the impression that we did not possess rights. The Prime Minister referred in a sneering maimer to the absence of the honorable member for West Sydney, who has been indisposed, but the Prime Minister should remember that he has absented, himself on various occasions. Quite recently he visited Bendigo, and later Ballarat before the recent debacle, from his party’s point of view, in that electorate.
– What a fine conciliatory tone.
– Order ! I ask the right honorable the Treasurer and the honorable member for Hume not to indulge in personalities.
– If the Treasurer would only take the Prime Minister away for the week-end and have a good talk with him, I believe good would result.
– What has the honorable member against the Treasurer to suggest that he should be punished in that way?
– Well, there is something in that. I have respect for the Treasurer, and perhaps I should not suggest leaving him for the week-end in the Prime Minister’s company; but I would be glad if he would take the. Prime Minister away and give him the advice he sorely needs to enable him to return to conduct the business of this Chamber in a more conciliatory manner.
– It is now understood that the Government desire to introduce a measure concerning mandates over Possessions in the Pacific. I move -
That after the word “ government “ second occuring the words “ in accordance with the White Australia policy “ he inserted.
As a new member of this House, I have been surprised to observe the way in which the right of honorable members to discuss measures at their various stages has been abrogated as the result of the slipshod methods adopted by the Government. I can well understand the attempt of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to “ shanghai “ motions through the House in this way in view of his reputation for un business-like methods. Our experience of the way in which he dealt with the sale of Australian produce overseas has taught us that he delays matters until the last moment, and then expects Parliament to accept his assurance that “ everything r all right.” He has had no business training, and therefore does not take ordinary business precautions. I support the stand taken by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) in regard to Nauru. Although the Government have paid over £1,500,000, we are in much the same position as a man who buys a block of ground without ascertaining whether the vendor has a good title to it.
I hope that the Government will not again attempt to spring new business on the House in this way. Had they given us reasonable notice of their intention to submit this motion, we should have avoided the unedifying scene to which the Prime Minister has treated us this afternoon. No one- can complain of the treatment that the Opposition extend to the Government when we receive at their hands the ordinary courtesies to which we are entitled. Our constituents look to us to preserve their rights, and I submit my amendment because of the tendency, during recent years, to introduce into the islands surrounding Australia large numbers of Japanese, Hindoos, Malays, and crossbreds of every description. We -want to avoid what has occurred in New Zealand, where there have been what are known in the United States of America as race riots, because of the introduction of coloured aliens into the Dominion. A few years ago, no one would have dreamt that New Zealand would occupy the position she does today, which has been brought about by a Government of which we have had for the last few years a replica in Australia. During the last five years, the Government have exercised under the War Precautions Act autocratic powers such as were enjoyed only by Governments in the Dark Ages, and these they seek to continue, although the war is over. Just as a tiger, having tasted blood, desires more, so the Government, having exercised these autocratic powers, are loth to part with them. Now that we desire to get back to pre-war methods of government, we find that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is not disposed to be amenable to reason. In accordance with his usual unmannerly style, he has levelled all sorts of charges at those who seek to safeguard the rights of the Parliament.
– He has escaped too often, with his Senate scandal, and so forth, ‘ “and he needs to be pulled up.
– As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) reminds me, the Prime Minister has been intimately connected with many scandals in this Parliament-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to refrain from making imputations.
– That little lecture might very well have been delivered to the Prime Minister.
– Order ! . The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), who has previously insulted the Chair, is distinctly out of order in making that remark. I called the Prime Minister to order for the same reason that I have just called the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) to order.
– The Prime Minister, ever since I have known him, has adopted a policy of bustle and bluff, and where he finds that insufficient to carry him through, he does not hesitate to be insulting.
– I am now referring to the Prime Minister’s attitude outside the Parliament.
We need to provide that the civil government of these territories shall be in accordance with the White Australia policy, because it is impossible to trust the Prime Minister to administer the mandate intrusted to us in accordance with the desires of the Australian people. The history of the administration of the occupied territories during the war is in some respects not to the credit of the Government, and we have no desire that the same sort of thing shall happen in the administration of the territories now coming under our control, and for which we shall be directly responsible to not only the people of Australia, but the League of Nations. I am reminded by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) that during the last few days the newspapers have been full of statements showing that our White Australia policy is likely to be challenged within the next twelve months. It is quite possible that our neighbours, the Japanese, may endeavour to make their presence felt in these territories if any loophole is left for their introduction into these islands, as freely as they have entered New Caledonia. We do not desire that Australian money shall be expended in these territories merely to bolster up and support a large body of coloured aliens whose operations may at any time seriously menace the welfare of the Commonwealth.
I trust that in future the Government will give adequate notice of their intention to introduce new business, and that we shall have fewer exhibitions of “ bluff “ on the part of the Prime Minister than has recently been our experience. The failure of his “bluff” this afternoon will, I hope, lead to his taking up a different attitude.
.- I desire to second the amendment, and ask leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
– I object. The Op position oan take the responsibility of throwing out the motion. To do this kind of thing on a Firday afternoon has never before been attempted in the twenty years’ history of this Parliament.
– We are making new precedents.
– That is so.
– It is the dirtiest thing have seen done in this House.
– Honorable members must blame the Prime Minister or it.
– There is such a thing as playing the game.
– It Bhould be borne in mind that I gave the Government the opportunity to accept an adjournment of the debate so that I might continue my remarks on a future occasion.
– That is too thin. Any one can see what honorable members opposite are up to. It is the dirtiest thing I have seen done in this House.
-I desire to voice my opinion on these matters, and I see no reason why, on that account, any honorable member should become incensed.
– It is the dirtiest thing I have seen done in this House.
– I rise to order. I object to the remark made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). Referring to the moving of the amendment, the honorable member said, “ It is the dirtiest thing that has ever been done in this House.” That I regard as a reflection upon every honorable member on this side who supports the amendment, and I ask that the statement should be withdrawn.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong in the inference he has drawn. I used the.wordB he has repeated and I withdraw them, but my intention was not to refer to the moving of the amendment, but to the fact that an honorable member opposite went from one member to another trying to induce them to getup and speak at this hour.
– I rise to a point of order. I object to the statement that the honorable member for West . Sydney (Mr. Ryan) went from one honorable member to another on this side trying to get them to speak. That is an entire misstatement.
– I draw attention to the state of the House.
– I object to the reflection that has been cast upon myself.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has complied with the rules of the House, and has withdrawn the statement objected to.
– The Minister has not apologized for his latest offence. I rise to point out that what I now take exception to is his grossly offensive remark that I have been influenced, and improperly influenced, by the honorable member for West Sydney or any one else in regard to the course of action I am taking. I ask that that gross reflection be withdrawn.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if he made such a statement to withdraw it.
– Of course I withdraw it, but I did not imply that any improper influence had been used. I simply said that influence had been used.
– I draw attention to the state of the House.
– The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has already done so. [Quorum formed.]
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
There not being a quorum present,
Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House at 5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 August 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200813_reps_8_92/>.