8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk reported the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Hon. J.M. Chanter) took the chair at 3.1 p.m., and read prayers.
– By way of personal explanation, I call attention to a statement published in Monday’s Argus and this morning’s Age, which associates my name with Divorce Court proceedings in Melbourne. My knowledge of the publications of this statement came to me only on my arrival from Adelaide this morning. The statement is false in every particular; I have never even heard of the persons concerned in the alleged proceedings. I promptly placed the matter in the hands of solicitors, so that action might be taken against the newspapers responsible for the publication. I wish to express my appreciation of the courtesy and decency of those conducting the Melbourne Herald, who refused to publish the statement pending an interview with me. During my twenty-seven years of parliamentary life - twelve of which have been spent in this Parliament - I have come into daily contact, in the friendliest manner, with the representatives of the newspapers that I have mentioned, yet they published a shocking libel upon me without having the decency to ascertain from me whether the statement was true or false.
– A large number of men in the wool-scouring industry are being put off for lack of wool to scour, and 1 therefore ask the Prime Minister if he will make wool available from the supply awaiting shipment? I have received telegrams from practically all the woolscouring works in and about the metropolis of New South “Wales. Messrs. Swinburne Brothers are closing this week; Henry Haigh and Sons Limited, of Liverpool, having no wool to scour, have practically closed down ; Messrs. Swinboume and Stephen have put off thirty-seven men, and thirty-three more will finish this week; and the position is about the same with Messrs. Sugden and Company Limited and Messrs Wright and Bruce.
– I realize that the closing down of the works mentioned must involve the throwing out of employment of a large number of men, and I shall make inquiries without delay to see what steps, if any, can be taken to make wool available for scouring. Before the embargo was raised, the Government were in direct communication regarding it with all the interests involved, and it was as a result of representations made by a deputation at which these interests were represented that the embargo was raised. Certain honorable members were present at that deputation. I then put the question categorically to the representatives of each industry - to those of the packers, growers, brokers, fellmongers, and scourers - whether they were quite sure that the action which they wished me to take was compatible with the best interests of Australia. I said to the representatives of the fellmongers and scourers, “ Are you quite sure that you will have enough wool to scour?” To that question their reply was “ Yes.’’ I asked, “ Do you wish me to take this action ? “ They said “ Yes.” I said, “ Are you sure that you represent the whole industry in Victoria, New South Wales, and elsewhere?” and they replied “ Yes.” Under these circumstances the Government are hardly to blame for the removal of the embargo. Any blame there may be must fall on the shoulders of those who, having had the amplest opportunity to consider the matter, and being invited by me to set out exactly what was wanted for local requirements, failed to do so. Their present complaint is a poor expression of gratitude to the Government, which for the past six years have drawn upon themselves the criticism of the growers for their action in making wool available to the scourers at a much lower price than could be got anywhere else in the world. However, I shall make inquiries, and see what can be done.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the following cablegram: -
SirRichard Amess, formerly Honorary Secretary of the Canadian Patriotic Fund, who is an officer of the League of Nations, complains that Australia is the only Dominion which has not yet paid the 1920 contribution to upkeep of the League of Nations. Similar delays have only occurred in connexion with China, Hayti, and other smaller South American Republics.
That statement is such a serious reflection on the Commonwealth that I bring it under the notice of the Prime Minister.
– So far as I know, it is not a fact that the Commonwealth contribution has notbeen paid; but, if the contribution is unpaid, the omission will, of course, be repaired. However, I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– Is it the intention of the Defence Department, on the plea of employing returned soldiers in the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, to discharge married men who volunteered, and obtained the volunteer’s badge, but were prevented from going to the war; and is the Department recruiting young single men who did not go to the war?
– It is not a fact that we are putting off married men who volunteered to go to the war. The replacement of those who did not volunteer by other men is under consideration, though nothing definite has been decided. We shall not put off married men who unconditionally volunteered for service abroad. I shall get a definite statement for the honorable member.
Flight of Lieutenants Parer and McIntosh - Commercial Aviation on North-west Coast.
– As I was the first honorable member of either House to raise the question of making a grant to Lieutenants Parer and Mcintosh, who have just completed an aerial flight from London to Australia, I would like to know whether it is true, as reported in the press, that the Commonwealth propose to make a grant of £1,000 to these distinguished officers in recognition of their great exploit, and to suggest that the amount might be made £1,000 each.
– It is correct that the Government have decided’ to make a grant of £1,000 to Lieutenants Parer and Mcintosh in recognition of their splendid feat, but the honorable member’s request to have the amount increased will be duly considered. I hope the honorable member is not overlooking the fact that it was entirely owing to the action of the Commonwealth Government that any of these flights have been made. So far as I know, it is the only Government throughout the Empire that has done anything to encourage aviation on such a large scale. However, I join with the honorable member in paying my tribute to Lieutenants Parer and Mcintosh. When the Government offered a prize of £10,000 for a flight from London to Australia, the idea was to demonstrate that aerial navigation between Europe and Australia was not only possible, but could also be achieved within a time that would demonstrate the superiority of this form of navigation over any other in point of the time occupied on the journey. These splendid young men have arrived here after a series of most wonderful mishaps and adventures in a machine totally unfit for a world flight. Their feat stands out like those of the ancient circumnavigators who encircled the world with vessels that now would hardly be considered safe in Port Phillip or Sydney Harbor. The request of the honorable member will be regarded by the Government with favorable eyes, and if we are not able to accede to it, our friends Lieutenants Parer and Mcintosh will realize that it is not because the Government do not fully recognise what they have done, but because of the financial position.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral yet consulted the Minister for Defence in regard to the request put forward by me a little time ago, that the Government should subsidize commercial aviation on the north-west coast of Western Australia?
– The matter is now under consideration by the Minister for Defence and myself.
– I wish to know if an article appearing in this morning’s Argus, setting forth what are alleged to be the financial proposals of the Government, was inspired by the Treasurer, and whether it correctly states the Government’s financial policy?
– I hope that I did not inspire anything so extraordinary.
Representation of Australia: Movements of Prime Minister
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any information in regard to the intentions of the Government in respect to the representation of Australia at the forthcoming League of Nations Conference?
– Beyond repeating my former statement that the Commonwealth Government will be represented at the Lea gue of Nations, I have no further information to give on the matter. I have noted with very great interest certain observations in the press in regard to the intentions of the Government and my own movements in particular. I have seen myself hurled through the ambient air with great speed and much recklessness to Vancouver, to Geneva, to Rabaul, and to other places, butI find myself here, and what my intentions are the Lord only knows.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs any authentic information in respect to the sale of Australia’s surplus butter to. the British Government? Is there any truth in the rumour that the price is to be increased to 270s. per cwt.?
– I have no information to give beyond what I gave the House when the Butter Agreement Bill was under consideration.
– In regard to a deputation of honorable members on this side of the House which waited on the Postmaster-General some weeks ago, I would like to know whether the Minister has arrived at any decision as to the proposed treatment of mail contractors. I have a circular in my hand which is typical of those sent out by the Deputy Postmaster-General of New South Wales, advancing reasons for denying to mail contractors any consideration for contracts entered into this year, and claiming that these men at the beginning of the year must have been in a position to know whether or not their contracts would pay. That seems to me to be such an extraordinary statement, seeing that last month the price of fodder was twice as high as it was in January last, that I would like to know if the Postmaster-General acquiesces in it?
– I do.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement made by the Minister for Customs when dealing with the question of the calculation of the basis of foreign exchange, that it was proposed to do nothing in the matter until a case, which I understand has been commenced before the Courts, had been settled? I would like to know whether that statement was the considered judgment of Cabinet, and if the matter has not yet been considered by Cabinet I would ask that it should be, particularly in view of the fact that the legal action referred to may be taken by appeal to the Privy Council, thus permitting the whole question, which does not deal with the past, but relates to the future, to be held up for an indefinite period.
– I have had an opportunity of discussing this matter with my honorable colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and we have looked at it from every point of view. We have also had opportunities of discussing the question with the ConsulGeneral for France. The fact that a case is now pending creates an awkward position, and one which, in certain circumstances, might be most embarrassing. The reply to the honorable member’s question is that the Government considers that the view taken by the Department of Trade and Customs as to the basis upon which duty should be collected is the correct interpretation of the law. What the law is will, of course, be decided by the Courts; but the intentions of the Government may now be set out. The Government, while not admitting for one moment that the view of the Department of Trade and Customs is other than the correct interpretation of the existing law, realizes that the levying of duties upon the par rate of exchange may, and probably does, involve in certain cases hardship upon countries with a depreciated currency. In order to remove this disadvantage, the
Government proposes to introduce legislation which, while offering relief to France and Italy, amongst other countries, will safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth, and will prevent the imposition of a most serious, if not intolerable, handicap upon America. The possibilities of dumping are not to be overlooked, and the Government will introduce legislation at an early date. That may be taken to be the policy of the Government, irrespective of the case now pending, and of any decision that may be given upon it.
The position, therefore, is that the Government believes that the Department of Trade and Customs is correct in its interpretation of the law, and that in normal conditions it is the most equitable method of calculating the basis on which duty should be collected. But it recognises that abnormal circumstances now exist, and it will introduce legislation which will relieve the disadvantages under which France now labours, and at the same time protect the interests of the Commonwealth, while not imposing handicaps upon America.
– In regard to the proposal to dismiss or retire a number of men who have been engaged in stores and repair work at the Naval Depot, Melbourne, I desire to ask the Minister for the Navy whether, before taking that action, he will confer with the Minister in charge of shipbuilding, and ascertain whether the men could not be found work in connexion with the shipbuilding operations of the Government. It is quite possible that the particular work carried out at the Naval Depot by these men might be taken over by the shipbuilding branch, and the men thus given a chance of continuing in employment.
– I shall be glad to confer with the Minister in charge of shipbuilding, with the object of ascertaining whether anything can be done for these men.
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), on the motion for the adjournment of the
House on Friday last, put to my right honorable colleague the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) a question which, earlier in the day, he had addressed to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) in relation to the embargo on the export of scrap steel imposed by the Department of Trade and Customs, at the instance of the Attorney-General’s Department. In the course of his remarks, on the motion for the adjournment, he made the following statements: -
The honorable member’s recollection of the facts is not accurate. His representations on this subject have received full attention. When the honorable member first raised the question about permitting a dealer in Western Australia to export some 70 tons of horse shoes to the East, I made a comprehensive statement in the House. On 20th May last(Hansard, page 2415), I made a statement on this subject, and cannot do better now than remind the honorable member of a portion of it.
In the case referred to by the honorable member the applicants did not hold any horse shoes, but wished to buy 70 tons for export to Hong Kong. Permission to ship was refused by the Government, as local users were prepared to purchase the horse shoes at a reasonable price for local treatment in Western Australia, where electric furnaces are at present being erected to treat the Western Australian production and accumulated stocks of scrap steel.
Moreover, in reply to the honorable member’s further representations, a letter was sent to him from the Prime Minister’s Department on the 12th June, stating that the question of permitting the exportation of the horse shoes was fully considered before my statement previously referred to was invade, and, further, that “ in view of the circumstances then explained, it is regretted that permission to ship cannot be given.”
Again, on the 30th June, a further letter was addressed to him by the Prime
Minister’s Department, advising him as follows: -
I desire to inform you that the Metal Exchange did not refuse the application to ship the horse shoes. The decision conveyed to the company by the Metal Exchange was the decision of the Government, the matter having been submitted by the Metal Exchange for such decision. As Messrs. Paterson and Company had telegraphed to the Metal Exchange, a reply was sent to the applicants through the same channel.
The honorable member now repeats the old statement that the Metal Exchange refused the permit. He has. been repeatedly told that .permission to ship would not be given, and that the Metal Exchange simply conveyed to the applicants the decision of the Government;
Let me repeat what I stated here on 20th May last: -
The Government cannot permit dealers to export scrap steel, making for themselves from £1 to £2 profit per ton, whereas, by insisting on local treatment, at least £27 per ton is spent by the steel founders in the Commonwealth, mostly in direct wages, and reasonable prices are at the same time obtained by the producers of the scrap.
The honorable member stated that an embargo had “ now “ been placed on the export of scrap steel. There has been an embargo for nearly five years, and during that time the Australian iron and steel industry has made gigantic strides. Scrap iron and steel has been essential to this industry. In last Friday’s Argus extracts are published from the Broken Hill Proprietary’s annual report. This is one of the extracts -
In most countries this (scrap iron and steel) is very readily obtained, and from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent, is considered a proper mixture. At Newcastle, however, the supply of this material is very limited, and only about 17 per cent, of the charge can be added. This will be remedied by the installation of a duplex plant, which uses molten metal without any scrap.
Instead of permitting dealers to export scrap metals to the East to be worked up by cheap Asiatic labour, the Government insists on the scrap being utilized locally, provided the users- are prepared to pay a reasonable price. If this scrap was sold to the East, the resultant steel would compete in the world’s market with steel manufactured in Australia by Australians. The local iron-works must have scrap, but the dealers for whom the honorable member acts as advocate are not concerned with national industries. The dealer wants his own little profit of fi or so per ton on the scrap, but the Government takes a different view. It is not the producers of scrap who complain. ‘ They have expressed no dissatisfaction with the prices offered by the local iron founders. No complaint of any kind has been made by a producer. The dealers who were applicants in this case when they applied for permission to ship did not hold any scrap, but if they obtained permission to ship would be prepared to buy some. No injury was done to them by refusing a permit; but the sound reasons underlying the metal policy of the Government do not come within the range of their vision.
In conclusion, I appeal to the honorable member to assist the establishment of the iron and steel industry in the West. A company which has already made good in New South Wales has now put in a plant in the West, which is expected by October to be producing sufficient steel of various grades to meet the requirements of that State. Without an assured supply of scrap it cannot carry on. It is a customer for all the available Western Australian scrap. So long as producers are paid fair and reasonable prices, the Government cannot permit dealers to export the life blood of the electric steel industry to the East to be worked up there by cheap Asiatic labour.
– What action has been taken by the Prime Minister’s Department to protect the seller or owner of Shy scrap steel or metal in Western Australia? Has - any regulation been passed in reference to the buyer, if there is a buyer - though I am given. to understand that at present there is not - or any regulation or instruction which will in any shape or form protect the seller of scrap steel or iron?
– I do not admit that the facts are as stated by the honorable member. In the infancy of every industry, raw material is an essential, and no manufacturer, or intending manufacturer, will sink money unless assured of it. It is not proposed to permit this raw material to be exported when it can be treated and worked up into resultant steel, and made available to the consumers in this country. Iron and steel are the very basis of all industry, and we should be living in a paradise of fools if we permitted the iron and steel referred to to go out of the country when we can manufacture it into its final form here.
Congestion at London Docks.
– About a fortnight ago, I asked the Prime Minister whether he was aware of the congestion that has taken place at the London Docks in the matter of Australian foodstuffs? I have not received a reply to that question yet.
– I read an answer to the honorable member’s question, but said I would get him some further information. I do not think that I have that information here now, but I shall get it for him.
– Has the Controller of Shipping obtained any information with regard to the control of overseas insulated space for the coming season? If any information has been obtained, what is the price charged for freight, especially in the case of fruit?
– The honorable member was good enough to let me know that he intended to ask this question, and I have been able to ascertain for him the latest advice received from London by theCommonwealth Line of Steamers in connexion with refrigerated space in vessels loading from Australian ports to the United Kingdom. It is that the Imperial Government has retained control of all the insulated space until April of next year, and is paying for the same at the rate of £7 4s. per ton for all space requisitioned. The previous rate was £6 12s. 6d.
– And freights are falling all over the world!
– When does the Prime Minister propose to inform the House as to the shipping policy of the Government? Does he propose to continue the building of ships? I am afraid that at present the industry is almost worked out.
– I was not aware of that fact. So far as I know, the industry is going on.
– It is very slack.
– What has the honorable member in his mind?
– I want more keels laid down - more ships built.
– I shall attend to it at tea time.
– As the Prime Minister will not answer my question, I propose to put it through the Minister in charge of shipbuilding.
– Put the question to me.
– I am now putting the question to the Minister in charge of shipbuilding.
– Then you will get no answer.
– I do not care whether I do so or not.
– All right.
– I ask the Minister in charge of shipbuilding what is the proposal of the Government in regard to shipbuilding: is the Government backing and filling in this matter? The Government had better let the public know what is being done.
– I told the honorable member I would attend to the matter at tea time.
– That is no answer.
– It is all the answer you will get.
– I desire to ask a question, without notice, of the Prime Minister, and, by way of explanation, refer to messages which have passed between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Government in regard to the formal declaration of Peace. I understand that on 16th July there was a formal peace signed with Austria, and that on the 20th July a message was sent by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Government -
With reference to my telegram, 17th July, proposed to issue Order-in-Council under section 13 Termination of Present War Definition Act 1918, fixing date of termination of war with Austria, 16th July.
I desire to ask the PrimeHinister if he is in a position to tell the House what reply was sent to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in reference to this proclamation. I wish to know whether the Prime Minister, at an early date, proposes to issue a proclamationby the Governor-General formally declaring a state of peace between the Commonwealth and Austria?
– I have not at my fingers’ ends all the cables between the Government and the Secretary of State for the Colonies in reference to this matter, but yesterday I attached my signature to a recommendation to His Excellency the Governor-General to sign a proclamation of peace with Austria. That proclamation will be gazetted in a day or so ; if it is not gazetted to-day it is because His Excellency is not in this State. The Government have done their part, and the proclamation will issue in the course of a day or two.
Remarks by Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Is the Attorney-General able to inform the House whether the remarks attributed to Mr. Justice Higgins, in this morning’s press, are accurate; if so, is it proposed to take any steps to prevent a repetition of the attempt to intimidate Parliament in the legislation it is considering?
– I do not know whether the newspaper report is correct or not. The remarks certainly appeared in the press, but, as we have already heard from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), quite a number of things appear in the press which are inaccurate. If the newspaper report is accurate I think that the remarks are most improper. The functions of this Legislature, and the functions of the Judiciary, are clearly defined, and just as comment here would be greatly resented, indeed, not permitted, on the work of the Judiciary, so neither should the Judiciary indulge in such comment upon and criticism of the Legislature.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is the amount realized for the sale of a gold or other mining lease taxable under section 14d of the Federal income assessment tax?
– This question is shortly to be determined’ by the Supreme Court of Western Australia, to which an appeal is being made contesting the validity of bringing payments received by lessees, upon the assignment or transfer of a mining lease, within the operation of section 14d of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The number of limbs supplied by the Government Artificial Limbs Factories since their establishment is -
The average cost of limbs supplied by the Government Artificial Limbs Factories’ is as follows: -
Arms - above elbow, £19 15s.1d.; below elbow, £159s.1d.
Legs - above knee, £21 8s.8d.; below knee, £16 7s.5d.
Public Service Bill
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. It is proposed that the clerical staffs of the Defence Department shall be brought under the Public Service Act,but finality will not be reached in the matter until the new Public Service Bill is brought before Parliament.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am unaware of any action having been taken to increase the price of Lactogen, but would point out to the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government has ceased to control price-fixing, which is now dealt with by the Governments of the various States.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he has decided to grant any financial assistance to mail contractors who have Buffered serious financial losses through the increased price of fodder caused by the recent drought ?
– Cabinet has approved of extra sums being paid to mail contractors in drought-stricken areas where it is shown that such is warranted.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This is a matter for consideration by the Governments of the various States, under whose notice a copy of the honorable member’s questions will be brought.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Neither Western Australia nor any other State has agreed to supply any specific quantity or proportion to New South Wales.
Mr.WISE.- On 19th August, the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) asked me the following questions : -
Whether any reduction in the salaries paid to officials in charge of post-offices in the Barrier electorate is contemplated, or has it taken place within the last few weeks?
If so, will the Minister state the reason for such reduction or contemplated reduction?
I promised that the information would be obtained, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, now reports as follows : -
Reductions have been made from 1st July, 1920, in the payments for conducting the non-official post-offices at Woomboota and Tilpa.
The reductions are due to variations in mail services, which caused a reduced number of night and Sunday attendances at the offices mentioned.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 11th August, 1920) revoking so much of Proclamation (dated 1st October, 1919) as relates to the Exportation of Superphosp hates and the raw material for the manuf acture of such goods.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 127.
Norfolk Island -
Ordinance of 1920- No. 1- Preserved Fish Bounties.
Regulations under the Preserved Fish Bounties Ordinance 1920.
Public Service Act - Promotion of M. J. O’Flaherty, Department of the Treasury.
Seat of Government -
Ordinance of 1920- No. 1- Meat.
Regulations under the Meat Ordinance 1920.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, at -
Auburn, New South Wales.
Islington, Newcastle, New South Wales.
Newbottle, Waratah, New South Wales.
. -I move -
That Order of the Day No. 1 be postponed until after consideration of Order of the Day No. 3.
It was in contemplation that members of the Parliament should pay a visit to Rabaul, in order to see something of the islands over which the mandates have been granted. But that visit has been postponed, and as there is now no immediate urgency for passing the New Guinea Bill, the Government ask the Houseto proceed at once with the two Bills relating to industrial matters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 20th August, vide page 3750) :
Clause 2 -
Section 4 of the principal Act is amended -
by inserting in the definition of “ Industrial Matters “, after the word “body,” the words “and any matter as to the demarcation of functions of any employees or classes of employees “ ;
by inserting in the definition of “ Lockout “, after the word “ employment” (first occurring), the words “ and the total or partial refusal of employers, acting in combination, to give work, if the refusal is unreasonable “ ; and
by inserting in the definition of “ Strike “, after the word “ employers “, the words” and the total or partial refusal of employees, acting in combination, to accept work, if the refusal is unreasonable ; “.
– I move -
That the following paragraph be inserted: - “(aa) by inserting in the definition of employer,’ after the word ‘ industry,’ the words ‘ and includes a club.’ “
A doubt exists as to whether a club comes within the definition of an employer, and the amendment will make it clear that it does.
.- The unions have requested that such au alteration should be made, and I therefore support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I take it that the proposal to insert in the definition of industrial matters the words -
And any matter as to the demarcation of functions of any employees or classes of employees, is intended to provide for the settlement of the many disputes that arise and are found difficult to adjust as a result of the overlapping of work which sometimes occurs, especially in connexion with shipbuilding ?
– That is so.
– It is proposed to further amend section 4 of the principal Act by inserting in the definition of- “ lockout” the words -
And the total or partial refusal of employers, acting in combination, to give work, if the refusal is unreasonable.
The definition of “ strike “ is similarly widened in regard to the total or partial refusal of employees to accept work. It may have been found in practice that the widening of the definition of “lockout “ is needed, and it may be argued that employees should be placed on the same footing as employers in this matter. I do not for a moment urge that they should be dealt with differently, but I would point out to the Minister that the widening of the definition of “strike” may bring under the penal provisions of the law unions and associations which have not been parties to a strike. A large association may have many lodges, and a ledge may have several branches. The members of any of these branches might do something to bring about a total or partial refusal to accept work, but the association might be no party to the ac- tion taken, though two or three days might elapse before it could interfere. I do not think that under such circumstances an association should be made responsible for action taken by some of its members without its consent. There might be a total or partial refusal of work em the part of 100 members of an association possessing a membership of 5,000 or 10,000. The penalty for striking is so large that an association could not take the risk of coming under the Act if the interpretation that I fear might be given to this amendment. I should like to know what it really means.
– It is section 6 of the principal Act that imposes the penalty for anything done in the nature of a lockout or strike; we are here dealing only with the definitions of “ lockout “ and “strike,” which it is proposed to widen in the manner referred to by the honorable member. If what he spoke of took place, the organization would not be liable, but only the persons who, acting in combination, totally or partially refuse to accept work. An organization would not be liable for the acts in the nature of strikes committed by isolated sections of its members; the liability would attach only to the strikers themselves.
.- Several things of which I do not approve have been done in Australia of late years under our Arbitration law, but I can find nothing in this Bill to prevent them. I should like to know whether the Minister proposes to limit or restrain in any way the powers of unions to exclude from their membership persons who wish to join them. As affording illustrations of the kind of conduct to which I take exception, let me read this extract from the Sydney Bulletin of 19th August, which deals with the treatment of returned soldiers and the housing of them -
The effort to shut them out of the boilermaking and bricklaying trades is still more so. Many soldiers passed the best part of their apprenticeship days defending Australia, and so have to start or resume their trades rather late in life. They are not new intruders, but old inhabitants. Being too old to be ordinary apprentices, a small number began to learn trades at Sydney Technical College, but their reception is cold. The Boilermakers Union refuses to work with any of them when they have qualified, and the Bricklayers Union offers, grudgingly, to admit 100 and no more. The vast bulk of the returned men are welcome to become loafers, race-course hangers-on, or criminals, or they may go on the land (if they can get there) without knowledge and with a £2,000 loanmoney mortgage, but otherwise the Popes of Labour put them outside the pale. It is not, of course, that there isn’t room for them; a thousand new bricklayers could find employment in the Ma Stated besides carpenters and stonemasons in large numbers. There is even room for more than that number of brickmakers alone.
I do not know if the matter to which I have directed attention could be legislated foa: in connexion with the proposal to amend the definition of industrial matters by the insertion of words regarding the demarcation of functions, but I should be glad to know whether here or later an amendment can be moved which will prevent the too great, exclusiveness of the unions. A demand for preference to unionists has been made, and I hope will never be granted, but should it be granted it will be necessary to protect the interests of those who desire to become members .of unions. Is anything proposed to be done by the Government in this matter ?
.- The Bill contains no provision dealing with the matter to which the honorable member has referred, but it seems to me that the best course, if he wishes the Committee to take any action in regard to it, is for him to move the insertion of a new clause.
– I am sorry that circumstances prevented me from taking part in the secondreading debate, because I wished to say something on the subject of arbitration generally, and the Bill, though not a long one, gives opportunity for the discussion of a number of important matters. This clause affirms the right of some tribunal to force men to work - a matter about which I feel so strongly that I shall vote against it. I cannot accept, and I hope that the party with which I am associated will not accept, the declaration of that right. We are moving in the direction of freedom of contract between employer and employee rather than away from it.
The Labour party has always stood for compulsory arbitration, for the reason that the so-called freedom of contract between employers and employees did not exist. Employers, because of their organization, their command of wealth, and the economic and social pressure that they can bring to bear, made it impossible for the employees to exercise a deliberate choice. But now I am happy to think that, with the greater enlightenment which has come to the workers of this country, and the more definite manner in which they have organized for their own protection, they, through their organizations, are able to confer on equal terms with their employers as to what their conditions of service should be. Therefore, the principle never yet having been embodied in an Act of Parliament that a man shall be compelled to work, I maintain we should hesitate before we insert it in one.
– Except in Russia.
– Whether the principle is right or wrong in Russia - and I have not sufficient information to justify me in discussing the conditions which apply there - does not necessarily make itright or wrong here. I “am opposed to this clause because it empowers the tribunal to say that men shall work. I am well aware that the penalties are only applicable in cases where the refusal to work is unreasonable, but the test of unreasonableness is no longer a matter of the judgment of the persons most concerned, but is a. question to be decided by some outside tribunal.
– What part of the clause will compel men- to work ?
– If this definition does not impose penalties for refusal to work, I misunderstand it altogether.
– The refusal must be on the part of a number acting in combination.
– In speaking of action in combination, does tlie Minister allude to conspiracy, or to the deliberation of men whose interests are similar, and who confer together for their own self-protection ? That mav be regarded as acting in combination, but it may not necessarily be conspiracy or a breach of the law, and may simply mean nothing more than legitimate organization. In the amendment of the definition of “ strike “ occur the words “ and the total or partial refusal of employees acting in combination to accept work if the refusal is unreasonable.” Thus a tribunal will sit for the purpose of considering the impulses that have moved men to decline to work under certain circumstances. I remember when the President of the Arbitration Court was the subject of a good deal of very bitter and utterly uncalled for criticism in connexion with a public declaration he made - that men were not compelled by arbitration to work, even men who were members of an organization enjoying an award; and although that waa merely a truism, his utterance seemed to shock a certain section of public conscience. Compulsory arbitration does not mean the compulsion of any man to work unless he is satisfied that, under the conditions attaching to the employment and the wage offered, it suits him to do so.
– What little civilization we have is gone once a man is compelled to work.
– This Bill is evidently designed to kill the condition of affairs which the President of the Arbitration Court, in -the ordinary discharge of his duties, said was the law and the practice, and is designed so to tighten up the law that men may be compelled to accept work at certain rates and under certain conditions. I cannot, for a moment, agree to such a proposal. I think that the times are moving away from the atmosphere of compulsion. I take this opportunity of saying that the operation of the Federal Arbitration Court has been immensely beneficial to all interests in this country. Because there have been isolated cases in which men bound by an award have not seen fit to observe it, it has been contended that the Arbitration Court has been a failure; but that contention has been raised by persons who have not been in a position to submit to the country, or to tie House, that mass of evidence which they might Have submitted in regard to th.e number of disputes which have been settled and prevented, and also in regard to the amount of disorganization and loss which has been prevented by the operation of the Court functioning through the various methods at its command.
– With industrial agreements there would not have been the animosity that has been created under arbitration.
– But there can be industrial agreements under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They are made and filed every day, but no public applause is heard about them; but public indignation is suddenly fired up against the Act because occasionally turmoil arises in some particular industry. In other words, full account is taken of every industrial disturbance which actually occurs, but apparently no account is taken of the number of disturbances that have been prevented under the operation of the Act. In considering this clause, I think I am entitled to say that it is to be immensely regretted that . there has been apparently a deliberate desire on the part of vested interests and persons who should have known better, to discredit the operation of the Act, and in so doing the natural consequence has been that they have supported the doctrine of what is known as direct action; that is to say, while pretending to be the most implacable opponents of such a policy, they have really fostered it. It is a matter of very little edification that, because under the present President of the Arbitration Court certain awards have been given at various times which some people thought were too liberal, these paragons of law and order should declare that the whole Court should be wiped aside. But I can assure these gentlemen that when they succeed with their propaganda, and wipe out the Arbitration Court on the ground that its awards are too generous, they will find it supplanted by something which, from’ their point of view, will be less satisfying to them.
– They do not argue in that way, but they claim that it imposes a penalty on one section of the community, and not on the other; that is to say, one side is free, and the other is shackled.
– I do not know what the honorable member means, unless he means that the effect of arbitration has been to secure more for the men1 than he thinks his friends ought to pay. In the whole history of the Arbitration Court industrial disputes in relation to activities right throughout the Commonwealth have been dealt with by two or three Judge3. It is simply impossible for a Court to function successfully when it is undermanned in this way. The Industrial Peace Bill contemplates setting up tribunals all over Australia.
– r-This Bill makes provision for the appointment of additional deputies.
– I am pleased that it does so, but the amendment is somewhat tardy, and, in any case, I think it should have come before us instead of the Industrial Peace Bill, which will, in effect, supplant arbitration. Why the Government did not content themselves with the creation of the necessary number of Deputy Presidents, as suggested by those whose business it is to put the Court in motion, I cannot for the life of me understand- I do not wish to make a second-reading speech on this clause, but I shall certainly invite honorable members to vote against it, because it is indefensible and unworkable on the ground that we cannot compel men to work, and if we attempt to do so we shall create an atmosphere of bad feeling which will be quite outside the sphere of* conciliation. Compulsion was very unpopular in connexion with another matter not so long ago, and it will not be any more popular in connexion with industrial affairs. I hope the Minister will see fit to reconsider the clause, and that it will not be forced through. At all events, I shall vote against it.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister for Works and Railways) [4.191- The honorable member’s objection to the proposed amendment is on the ground that the provision to which he refers will compel persons to labour. It does not do this; but the provision is reciprocal, applying to employers as well as to employees. If two employers act in combination to unreasonably refuse to give work, either totally or partially, they will be liable to a penalty for a lock-out. The same penalty will apply to employees who, acting in combination, totally or partially refuse to accept work if the refusal is unreasonable.
– Who is to determine whether the refusal is unreasonable?
– That is a question of fact to be proved before the Court. No individual will be compelled under this Bill to work. In that respect the law relating to master and servant remains unaltered. ‘ Under the ordinary law a man may give notice, and so terminate his employment. That course is still open to employees.
– What will ‘be the position if men. refuse work because it is unreasonable in the circumstances to continue?
– It is only where there is a combination on the part of individuals to refuse to work that this provision will apply. That would be a strike, and the object of the law is to make strikes unlawful.
– If half-a-dozen men refused, for various reasons, to work, their, refusal might be declared to be unreasonable.
– They could only be punished after it had been proved that they were acting in combination. The onus of furnishing that proof would be upon the person taking ‘ proceedings before the Court. “ A combination of persons to refuse work,” is the essence of a strike. Organizations are not made liable under this clause for the actions of isolated individuals.
– This clause is taking us back to the conspiracy laws of a hundred years ago.
– No; it is merely designed to carry out the original intention of the present Act, that strikes shall be declared unlawful.
– There is no law in this country, nor is there anything in this clause, to compel an employer to continue his business if he does not wish to do so.
– Nor is there any law which compels an individual to work if he does not desire to do so. There is in the existing Act a section which declares that -
Partial suspension of work ‘by an employer with a view to compel his employees, or to aid another employer in compelling his employees, to accept any term or condition of employment, is a lock-out, for which a penalty is provided. We are now proposing to extend that definition by declaring that if there is a combination of employers to refuse to give work, and that refusal is unreasonable, then the employers shall be liable to a penalty. These definitions must be reciprocal, and the definition to which exception has just been taken is a reasonable completion of the original intention of the Act to make strikes and locks-out unlawful.
– The argument advanced by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) might be sound if we had in the Commonwealth as many employers as there are employees. As it is, half-a- dozen nien employed on the one machine in a particular factory might have a very serious grievance, but if, as the result of a consultation, they decided not to work, they might be subjected under this clause to heavy penalties. On the other hand, one man might have 500 or 600 men in his employment, and, without acting in combination with any other employer, he might make the conditions of employment in his factory absolutely intolerable to his men. He would thus inflict hardship on his employees, but since it could not be proved that he was acting in combination with other employers he would not be liable to any penalty. The Government are treading on dangerous ground in proposing to legislate in this way. Many persons have unjustly criticised the principal Act. I hold that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has done magnificent work, and that those who are always seeking to improve it, in many cases, are only making the position worse than it is. Mr. Justice Powers, by means of a circular addressed to. honorable members, lias conveyed to us an insight of the great work that the Court is doing. He has been able to show that, within five years more than 500 agreements have been made on the conciliation side of the Court. I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the provisions of the Industrial Peace Bill, passed last week, might very well have been embodied in this measure. We shall take a dangerous step by providing for the imposition of severe penalties upon a few individuals who because of a serious grievance refuse to work. Instead of moving towards conciliation in the conduct of industry by amending the principal Act in this way, we shall make the position- of the workers still more uncomfortable. In these days men refuse to work under uncomfortable conditions, and no one can blame them.
– I move -
That paragraph c be left out.
I maintain that the amendment of the principal Act for which paragraph c provides is unnecessary and unreasonable. Its only effect will be to penalise the workers. It is unjust to say that men shall not have the right to refuse to work under conditions to which they object. It is all very well for the Minister to urge that in refusing work men must be proved to have acted in combination in order to be liable to the penalty for which the Bill provides. We know perfectly well, however - and every honorable member on this side’ of the House at one time or another has suffered at ,the ‘hands of employers - that very often employers make the conditions of work intolerable, and that the only redress open to their employees is to knock offWhere they object to the wages or conditions offering, they should have the right to leave if they desire to do so.
– They will have that right under this Bill.
– I do not want the honorable member to dictate to me as to what is and what is not in the Bill. On the motion for the second reading he spoke of an award relating to the pastoral industry in Western Australia, which, . he said, applied to the big sheds and not to the small ones, and when, in order to put him on the right track, I inquired whether he was referring to an agreement, he answered that he was speaking of an award. He thus proved that he does not know what is going on in his own State, since there is no award, and never has been one, applying to the pastoral industry in Western Australia. Why, then, should he dictate to those who are familiar with working conditions ? Listening to some honorable members, one would imagine that the workers stopped work for the mere fun of the thing. One would imagine that they regarded a strike as something in the nature of a pastime. As a representative of the workers - as one who has had to work all his life, who has been associated with strikes, and who, having regard to the social conditions under which we live, will probably be associated with strikes in the future - I do not hesitate to say that no one realizes more than do the workers themselves the hardships imposed upon them and their- families when they are forced to go on strike. There are times, however, when it is absolutely necessary that they should strike, since by no other means can they obtain the redress of their grievances. I, therefore, submit this amendment, believing that the clause as it stands would place an intolerable burden on the workers, while allowing the employers practically to gp free.
– I am opposed to the clause as it stands, and particularly to the penal provisions of the Bill. The penal sections of such a Bill as this never apply equally to employers and employees. The two classes for this purpose cannot be placed in the same category. An employer has means of evading a penalty which are not open to an employee. Arbitration to-day is compulsory. Whether he likes it or not, a worker must go to the Court, and is subject to the penal provisions of the Arbitration law. A fine of £1,000 involves no hardship in the case of a large corporation, but three months in gaol for a working man means much injury and los6 to his wife and family.
– Would the honorable member agree to the omission of paragraph b as well as paragraph c? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
– I would agree to that.
– If we are to have penal provisions, they should apply to employers and to shareholders of large corporations, as well as to members of unions, just as they are applicable to individuals who go before the Court.
I have received the following letter from the Secretary of the Federal Carters and Drivers Industrial Union of Australasia, dated 21st August: -
Enclosed please find copies of correspondence between our union, the Employers’ Federation and Colonial Sugar Company.
It deals with the case of our union, who had an agreement with the Employers’ Federation, which stated that our members would receive an increase of 8s. per week on the Federal rates, but when a member of the Federation, and a wealthy one at that’, is approached to pay the same, they point blank refuse to pay it to some of their employees.
The Federation wrote to the Victorian Employers Federation, and this was the reply received -
Referring to your letter of the 28th ult.. and your ‘phone conversation with me re the improvers employed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, I have now to advise that I wrote the company recently re the matter, and also furnished them with copy of your letter under reference.
I have received from the company a communication dated 6th inst., in response to my letter, which sets out their position, and of which I enclose a copy herewith.
The following is the letter sent by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to the Employers Federation on 6th August: -
I duly received your letter of the 3rd inst., and .in reply, would say that we are in a different position from firms .who are solely engaged in tlie carting industry. The rates of pay of youths and improvers under other awards which affect our business are much below what the Federal Court prescribed under the Carters award, and to further raise . the pay of the three carters’ improvers at Yarraville would be sure to lead to dissatisfaction in other departments. The youths in question are quite free to leave our employ if they are not content with their present rates. Although we have in the past paid them according to the award of the Federal Court, we have some doubt whether they really come under this, because, unlike the recognised improvers in that industry who go on to the roads, these lads merely lead the horses which draw trollies along the tram line either from the ship’s side or from the stacks of sugar.
Here we have a large corporation which refuses to work under an agreement. There is an award which the corporation is carrying out, but there is also an agreement between the Carters and Drivers Association and the employers, and. with that agreement the corporation will not comply. As I say, it would not hurt a corporation like this to pay even £1,000 rather than to submit to an agreement to which it had an objection.
– Is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company a party to the agreement?
– Of course; at any rate, the letter of the secretary says so. The Carters and Drivers Association know their business as well as any other body of the kind, and they have made this charge against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company per medium of the Employers Federation. All I desire- to show is that even the largest penalties will not deter a wealthy company from refusing to comply with any Tilling of the Court or agreement.
– The company is conforming to an award of the Court.
– But the honorable member knows there are hundreds more agreements than there are awards.
– The agreements are registered and become awards.
– No ; they are altogether different from awards.
– Is this a registered agreement ?
– The honorable member will admit that the Employers Federation recognised this union, and dealt with its case.
– There has not been too much success in compelling unions to comply with awards.
– That is not peculiar to Australia. In to-day’s newspapers we have strong evidence that our industrial troubles are a mere “ flea-bite “ as compared with the troubles in Britain ; so great, is the difference that no comparison can be drawn. That shows that there has been an effort ot desire on the part of the unions in Australia to comply with awards and agreements; and yet here we find a company refusing to do so, and saying that if the employees affected are not satisfied, they can leave their employment. That, however, is always said by the “ bosses “ ; and, therefore, I object to all penalties because they cannot be enforced on large and wealthy corporations, whereas they can be enforced in the case of individual workers with disastrous results.
.- It has been said by honorable members opposite, by way of interjection, that they would agree to strike out both sub-clause b and sub-clause c. If there were an amendment in that direction I would support it, and I believe a majority could be found here in favour of doing away with all penalties. I can see no use for penalties in an Act of this kind, because it is only in rare instances they can be enforced, either in the case of the employers or employed, and I agree with what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) as to their lack of efficacy in the case of wealthy industrial companies. I cannot support an amendment directed to making penalties effective in the case of the employer, and not in the case of the employed.
.- The mere striking out of sub-clauses 6 and c will not do away with penalties; these cannot be abolished without an amendment of the original Act. Such an amendment would receive my, support, because I do not believe in penalties in a measure of: this kind.
– This clause extends the area of the penalties.
– Yes, and makes the law clearer.
– It extends the area of the penalties, and applies them to a different kind of offence altogether.
– If we are to have penalties at all, I regard the proposal of the Government as a good one. Personally, if I had my way, I should get rid of the compulsory clauses of this Bill ; and. the amendment now before us only shows what efforts are made here merely for the purpose of protecting one section of the community. I prefer the Canadian system, under which the employers and the employed are brought together in conference, and then, if the men desire to go out on strike, they may do so.
– But the employers are given a fortnight’s notice, and thus have an advantage.
– A fortnight’s notice is a good thing under the circumstances, because it gives time for a ballot. I hope that the Committee will insist on the proposals by the Government, or do away with all penalties. If I did not feel that I ought to do my best for the employee as well as for the employer, I should not be fit to be here. We ought to see that justice is done to every section of the community, and not introduce legislation merely for the benefit of one class.
– Why try to be humorous ?
– Honorable members may laugh, but in every constituency throughout Australia the wage-earners comprise a large majority of the electors, and it is merely because the level-headed amongst them realize that our policy is the best for the country that they give their support to myself and others with similar views.
– To persist in the amendment would be to strike a blow at the compulsory clauses of the Arbitration Act. Many of us are not completely enamoured of compulsion. I am anxious to encourage in every way the spirit of conciliation, and I was delighted with the Industrial Peace Bill, because it embodied that principle. If honorable members desire to attack the compulsoryclauses of the Act, let us deal with them directly, and not attempt to maim them as this amendment proposes. All that the Bill proposes to do is to complete the principles which have been already fundamentally established by the Act itself. So long as we have compulsion we must, necessarily, have penalties of some description for the purpose of aiding the enforcement of such compulsion. Already there is a penalty of £1,000 for strikes and lockouts. The Bill creates an additional offence, and the existing penalty is only made more comprehensive and complete. Therefore, it is essential that we should vote for paragraphs b and c ; the mere deletion of them will not rid the Act of penalties. If honorable members wish to abolish the penalties already provided for by the Act, there is another way of attaining their object.
– I am not very much concerned as to whether or not the amendment is carried, because even if the penalty for strikes and lockouts were made imprisonment for life, it would be just as logical as the rest of the Act. Honorable members on this side are naturally averse from penalizing strikers, but we know that if any industrial organization, such as the Miners Federation or the Seamen’s Union, is powerful enough to make their say in regard .to working conditions effective, even the strongest of Governments listen to their demands; and whether or mot penalties are provided they will not be enforced. If they are enforced in the form of either fines or imprisonment, they only insure the success of the strike. If strikers are sent to gaol, which is the logical consequence of this legislation, the success of the strike is assured, because mines and ships cannot be worked if those engaged in the industries are imprisoned. The whole of this industrial legislation is .absurd, so far as the prevention of strikes is concerned; and, as for the attitude of the employers, only the other day Mr. Emery stated in Sydney, on behalf of the Broken Hill mining companies, that if Judge Edmunds awarded the miners a six-hour day, or abolished contract-mining, the companies would not guarantee to re-open the mines. They, like the miners, had already agreed to abide by the decision of the Tribunal, but before the Judge had given his decision they intimated to him that if such decision was in favour of the men on those two points, the companies would not guarantee to re-open the mines.
– They meant that they could not ‘guarantee to run the mines at a loss.
– How does the honorable member know what Mr. Emery meant? He, like myself, can only judge by the press report. Mr. Emery may have meant anything. He may not have been authorized to speak for the companies, but according to the press report he spoke in their behalf. His statement represented very well the attitude of employers generally.. Whenever an award goes against them they cannot be compelled by the present Government, or indeed by any other Government under the existing social order, to continue their business when they say they will be conducting it at a loss. But if, on the other hand, a few workmen do not turn up to work, they are said to be on strike, and the law says that they shall be penalized. When the marine engineers were on strike, the War Precautions Act, which was designed to “ save Australia from Germany,” was employed for the purpose of placing an embargo on the union finances. The principle of this Bill is in keeping with the same class of legislation in every country in the world where Governments are protecting the interests of the employers. In America an anti-Trust’ law was introduced, and “ a corporation in restraint of trade “ was interpreted in the Courts to be a labour union.
– That was done with the Mayor of Sydney, too.
– The Minister for Home and Territories has a very logical mind if he can see a connexion between the Mayor of Sydney and this Bill. No wonder he has a seat on the Ministerial bench.
– Is the honorable member’s objection to this Bill that it means compulsory labour?
– My objection is not to compulsory labour, but to the fact that the Minister makes compulsory labour apply only to his opponents and not to his friends.
– Both sides are our friends.
– When it suits the honorable member. He knows very well that in this House he is a representative of organized capital, and so are the honorable members who support him.
– The honorable member can only speak for the Barrier.
– I do not speak for the mining interests of the Barrier; I speak only for the workers; and in this Parliament, at any rate, the Minister cannot twit me, as he did on a previous occasion, with representing a minority of the electors.
– We look forward with hope.
– “ Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and that is the only comfort the honorable member has. This measure, like the Industrial Peace Bill - as some humourist entitled the measure which recently passed this Chamber - is based on an absolute fallacy, namely, that employer and employee have common interests. There is no such identity of interest. There can be no cure for the mutual antagonism of capital ‘and labour under the existing economic order. Therefore, it is absurd to talk about penalizing employers for lockouts and employees for striking. How many times have employers been prosecuted for lockouts?
– Rather heavy penalties were imposed on employers in New South Wales a couple of years ago.
– The honorable member will have some difficulty in digging up such an instance, and, in any case, it would be interesting to learn the circumstances under which the penalties were imposed. Perhaps they were merely a resort to the American method of putting a rival out of business. We cannot have industrial peace under the existing order. The clashing of interests is so great, the objects ofthe employing section are so diametrically opposed to the interests of the workers, that the latter are compelled to strike; whilst the employer, if he wishes to compete with his rivals, must endeavour to force down the standard of living. The interest of the working class is in raising the standard of living and in getting a greater share of the wealth produced, in the form of wages or reduction of hours, or better working conditions. Such an antagonism must make itself felt in the industrial life of the community. Some clauses of this Bill remind me of early Imperial legislation against trade unionism. But the transportation of the Dorsetshire labourers to Tasmania did not stop strikes.
– They are still striking in Tasmania.
– Of course, they are. Not even transportation, or deportation, which is more popular with honorable members opposite, will prevent strikes.
– Capital punishment does not prevent murder; therefore, why punish the murderer?
– If the honorable member is placing the murderer and the striker on the same footing, and he metes out capital punishment to the striker, I do not know that his own position will be any better. He may have to go to work, instead of employing others to work for him.
– That is why I oppose penalties.
– The honorable member would rather have strikes than go to work himself. I have been on strike, and I am on strike permanently now, I hope - at any rate, so far as one class of work is concerned. The honorable member’s interjection confirms the point that I have been trying to make, which is, that the imposition of penalties will not stop strikes. It is not from individual cussedness that strikes occur; men are forced by their conditions to go on strike. In England the Statute of Labourers was passed, centuries ago, to fix wages, and to direct economic evolution, and very drastic penalties were imposed under it. But that did not succeed in preventing strikes, and no legislation will succeed in doing so. It is not Acts of Parliament that will regulate economic conditions, but economic conditions will change your Acts of. Parliament, and your Parliaments, too. You can paste Acts into the statute-book, but if the workers have intelligence and organization, they will laugh at your attempts to force them to live under conditions in regard to which they are not consulted. You may talk about political democracy, but it has to-day no effect on the life of the country ; it is industrial democracy that counts. It is from the factories, the workshops, the mines, and the ships that legislation will come in the future.
Question - That paragraph c, proposed to be omitted, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
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.
Clause 3 -
After section 6 of the principal Act, the following section is inserted: - “6. No person or organization bound by an award of the Court, or entitled to the benefit of an award of the Court, shall do anything in the nature of a lockout or strike, or continue any lockout or strike. Penalty: £1,000.”
.- I move -
That the following words be inserted in the proposed new section, after the word “ strike “ line 7: - “Provided that if a person desires to leave his work for private or other reasons he shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.”
The unions are in doubt as to the effect of the proposed new section. They think it may have a dragnet effect, and be the means of imposing a penalty on an organization through the action of a few individuals. In any case, I think we ought to state perfectly clearly that the provision will not apply to individuals who have good reasons for absenting themselves from work.
– I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment because it may have quite a contrary effect to what he intends. The proposed new section does not embrace the individuals to whom he refers, but is aimed at persons or’ organizations bound by an award of the Court, or entitled to the benefit of an award of the Court, and is for the purpose of preventing them from doing anything in the nature of a lockout or strike.
– An individual may refuse to continue at work under an award.
– That would not be a strike, and the individual would not be liable. It is only those who are bound by an award and do something in the nature of a strike who are liable to the penalty in the proposed new section, and a strike is the total or partial cessation of work by employees acting in combination as a means of enforcing compliance with demands made by them or other employees on employers, and the total or partial refusal of employees .acting in combination to accept work if the refusal is unreasonable. An individual may give notice to terminate his work, but such a step on his part is not a strike.
– It is unfortunate if a lot of his mates are struck with the same idea at the same time.
– Only those persons who act in combination to produce such a result are liable.
– If a factory is obliged to cease work because none of the employees turn up to work, would not their action be construed as a strike?
– It must be proved that the action taken is in combination, and further, that the refusal to work is unreasonable.
– How much further does the new section go as compared with the existing provision ?
– - The existing provision, that is, section 6, relates to persons or organizations which do anything in the nature of a strike on account of any industrial dispute before an award is made. The general intention of the Act was to secure industrial peace, and do away with the old methods of industrial warfare and substitute compulsory arbitration in their place. It was made an offence for any person on account of an industrial dispute to do anything in the nature of a lockout or strike. But here we have got beyond the actual dispute, and are dealing with cases in which, awards have been given.
– Cannot there be another dispute while an award is in force ?
– There is nothing to prevent a dispute occurring after an award has been given, but the proposed new section 6a applies only to cases where an award is iu existence which both parties are bound to observe, and that section imposes a penalty on the employer who does anything in the nature of a lockout, or on the employees who do anything in the nature of a strike, during the currency of such an award. The idea is to observe the sanctity of the award, and to see that both parties comply with it. The trouble that attaches to the honorable member’s amendment is that, if inserted, it may cast doubt upon other ‘sections of the Act. It is not usual to include in an Act any matter that has no application to it. The honorable member’s amendment would apply to a provision which embraces only those workmen who act in combination, a proviso having application only to individuals.
.- I am not quite clear that the proposed new section will not apply to any individual. The Minister contends that no individuals’ can do anything in the nature of a strike, but half-a-dozen men may cease work for some good purpose and their action may be deemed to be in the nature of a strike. The majority of the organization may continue working.
– Those who continue working are not liable. It i.s only individuals who, acting in combination, commit the offence that are liable.
– But it may be field that the half-dozen men who, acting in combination, cease work for some good and sufficient reason should have continued to work. Some spot in a mine may have got wet overnight, and for this reason they may be anxious to cease work. On the other hand, the manager of the mine may hold that it is the duty of the men to remain at the spot until he took means to remove the cause of the trouble. If the men do not stay there as directed, they may be held to be doing something in the nature of a strike.
– Not if their conduct is reasonable.
– Who is to decide whether their conduct is reasonable or not?
– The Court will decide that issue.
– From the very inception of arbitration in this country, alterations ‘ have been made in mines while awards Lave been in. existence and men have refused to accept them, but the Court has held that the management are perfectly entitled to make whatever alterations they feel disposed to make, and that it is the duty of the men to continue to work and appeal to the Court against the action of the management. The whole position is very difficult, and I am anxious to have this proviso added to the proposed new section, in order to make it quite clear that individuals may leave their work for private or other reasons, and be exempt from the penalty attaching to a.ny persons who, during the currency of an award, do anything in the nature of a strike. I do not know whether the Minister is right in saying that the words of my amendment are superfluous. I think the time has arrived when we should express in clear words the intention of the Legislature. The Minister is probably correct when he says that there is ample provision to meet the contingency which I have put forward, but, on the other hand, those who take advantage of the Arbitration Court complain that the new section, to which they raise no objection in any other respect, may have the effect of rendering organizations liable for the action of a few individuals.
– Last week the honorable member was good enough to indicate the nature of the amendment he proposed to make to the new section, but I told him at the time that I thought that the words he proposed to add were quite unnecessary. However, I promised to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Draftsman, and I have done so, and he is quite satisfied that the honorable member’s fears are unfounded. The difficulty of including the words in one section is that it may create doubt in regard to other sections. If we were to insert such a proviso in this proposed new section and fail to insert it in other sections of ‘ the principal Act in which the same words occur, it might give rise to doubt on the part of the Court in interpreting those provisions. I promise the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, however, that I will refer the matter to Sir Robert Garran, and that if he feels that there is any cause for anxiety I will have the matter made perfectly clear. At the present moment, as Parliamentary Draftsman, he is satisfied that there is no cause for the honorable member’s fears.
– I shall vote against this clause. Having had some experience of the working of organizations, I know that occasions arise when some members of an organization will be in favour of a .certain course of which the bulk of the members disapprove. Some of the more hot-headed members of an organization might at a meeting carry .a resolution which, as shown later, was not in keeping with the wishes of the majority of the organization. In the event of work being stopped as the result of that resolution, the whole organization affected would be liable to the heavy penalty for which the clause provides. In the circumstances, I cannot vote for the clause.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- Under section 6 of the original Act, no prosecution can be instituted for any breach of the provisions of that section without the leave of the President of the Court. As we have in this clause an extension of the right to prosecute, I should like the Minister to state why a similar limitation is not imposed. With the object of ascertaining whether the Committee will be prepared to attach the same safeguard to the proposed new section, I move -
That the following words be added : - “ No proceeding for any contravention of this section shall be instituted without the leave of the President.”
– I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment. There is a reason for not inserting in this clause the words which appear in section 6 of the original Act. That section provides that -
No person or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the
Mature of a lock-out. . . .
A prosecution for a contravention of that provision could be taken before an ordinary Court - it would not go before a Justice of the High Court - and, as the honorable member knows, what does and does not constitute an industrial dispute is a complicated question, so that it is desirable that the leave of the President should be necessary to the institution of such proceedings. In this instance, however, an award is known to be in existence, and there is no necessity to place any further impediment in the way of a prosecution by making it necessary to obtain the leave of the President of the Court to institute proceedings. It would mean delay, and, moreover, the nature of the offence is different from that with which section 6 of the principal Act deals. This clause applies to both employers and employees.
– Who would hear a case under this clause?
– A police, stipendiary, or special magistrate. As the honorable member is aware, it was held in Alexander’s case that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court was not a Court within the meaning of the Constitution, and, in order to secure the enforcement of penalties, it therefore became necessary to amend the Act in certain directions by making provision for prosecutions before magistrates.
Mr. RYAN (West Sydney [5.41]. - I do not agree with the Minister (Mr. Groom) as to the reason for inserting in section 6 of the Act the words “ no proceeding for any contravention of this section shall be instituted without the leave of the President.”
– The reason I gave was in regard to its retention, and not to its original insertion in the Act.
– I am asking why the same words have not been inserted in this clause. They should be inserted for the same reason that they were inserted in section 6 of the principal Act. I conceive that they were introduced into that section to enable the President to judge of the circumstances before allowing a prosecution to take place. . The circumstances might be such that it would not be desirable to give leave to institute proceedings. I, therefore, think that the same provision should be made in the proposed new section 6a. At present the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has no authority to interfere, for example, with the very arbitrary use of powers under the War Precautions Act. The exercise of those powers in an arbitrary manner is so exasperating that it sometimes leads to men ceasing work. In such circumstances perhaps the President of the Court or Deputy President would not think fit to give leave to prosecute, although they would not have any specific power to cancel the regulations or to make an order contrary to the provisions of the Act. If we make it necessary to obtain the leave of the Court before a prosecution can be instituted under this proposed new section, which involves such a heavy penalty as a fine of £1,000, we leave in the power of the Court a discretion which it is very necessary that the Court should retain, with a view to protecting workmen against prosecutions that would be unfair.For that reason, I insist upon my amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Ryan’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section nine of the principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section (1), after paragraph (c), the words”; or
being a member of an organization which is seeking better industrial conditions, is dissatisfied with his conditions.”.
Section proposed to he amended - 9.(1) An employer shall not dismiss an employee, or injure him in his employment, or alter his position tohis prejudice, by reason of the circumstance that the employee -
– I move -
That after the word “amended,” the following words be inserted, “ by inserting in subsection 1, after the word ‘ dismiss’, the words, or threaten to dismiss and ‘ “
These words, I believe, have been suggested by arbitration authorities. Quite a number of cases have come under the notice of some of the unions, of employers “ holding the whip “ over employees by threatening to dismiss them for doing work for their unions, such as giving evidence, taking part in arbitration proceedings, and generally assuming a fighting attitude on behalf of their fellows. For an employer who dismisses an employee on such grounds there is a penalty, but there is no penalty for a threat to dismiss.
– The penalty under the principal Act is, useless, anyhow.
– That may be, but a request has been made to me by unionists to have these words inserted.
.- I have pleasure in supporting the amendment, in the hope that the Government will accept it. Over a score of years ago, in the State of Victoria, there was a committee appointed, consisting of the Rev. A. R. Edgar, Mrs. Muir, Mr. Samuel Mauger, Mr. Stephen Barker, and myself, to inquire into the conditions of the workers in this State. We were empowered to take evidence in camera, so as to prevent employers, including those of Flinders-lane, dismissing their employees, and following them with a boycott. If honorable members care to look at the report of that committee they will find that, at the Government expense, the families of some employees had to be sent from Melbourne, not only to Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, and Geelong, but as far as to Sydney, in order to avoid the boycott which followed men who had given evidence.
In these days, we wish no man or woman to be penalized for giving such evidence; and that, I take it, is the object of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). Mr. Harrison Ord, in connexion with that committee, made a report, and, although he was not a Labour man, but a Liberal, to whom I was keenly opposed politically, he showed the serious charges that lay against manufacturers and certain firms of Flinders-lane. Looking back to the horrors of that time, I can give one or two little instances which may induce honorable members opposite to bring some pressure to bear on the Minister, with a view to the adoption of the amendment now proposed. At the back of the Homoeopathic Hospital, St. Kilda-road, there was a factory, below the floors of which, in the absence of any underground drainage, there was some 14 inches of dirty, filthy, slimy water, over which the employees had to work. We took a medical man down to that factory, and we found not one employee, man, woman, or young person, but was unhealthy. Another instance was afforded by a factory opposite the Melbourne Hospital. This factory had a door into Lonsdalestreet, but that .door the girls employed were not permitted to use. At the back of the factory” there were six hovels, three occupied by Chinamen, and three by our “unfortunate” sisters, and every young girl of the factory had to enter by that yard. Those conditions were abolished as a result of the inquiry then made. The employees of this or any other country owe nothing to the great mass of the employers for the reduction of hours of labour, or other improvements in their conditions. Individually, there have been right and good men amongst the em- plovers ; but it has been only by the efforts of the workers themselves, assisted by good men in public life of all parties, such as Lord Shaftesbury, that conditions have been improved.
– I hope the Minister in charge of the Bill will see his way to accept the amendment. A threat to dismiss is a more effective weapon in the hands of an employer than dismissal itself. And whilst our legislation provides that the employers shall not dismiss a man because of various things set out in the Act, the employer is yet able to attain the same end by threatening to do what the law forbids him1 to do. We should take this opportunity of making it clear that an employer shall not bv any threat of dismissal penalize a man, for having complied with the laws made by Parliament.
.- I support the amendment. I have had experience of Arbitration Court proceedings, and I know that employers on many occasions have threatened that any one complaining to an officer of a union about his conditions of employment, or giving evidence before the Court, would be no longer employed. The result has been that people in many industries have been prevented from asserting themselves. If the Government are anxious to make the Arbitration Act more effective, they should give every protection to persons who- give evidence before the Court or lodge complaints against unfair conditions. The employer should be liable to a penalty for threatening to dismiss just as he is for actual dismissal.
– Is not the threat ineffective when the employee knows that it cannot be carried out?
– The employer can dismiss the man in any case.
– The employer can always evade the Act by saying that an employee does not suit him’, and dismissing him on that ground. I think the amendment should be agreed to.
– The amendment suggests that an employer should be liable for a penalty if he threatens to dismiss an employee on the ground of being a member of an organization or for having appeared as a witness and given evidence in proceedings under the Arbitration Act. In effect, the amendment suggests that the employer shall not intimidate his employee. The object of the Act is to encourage industrial organization, and workers are invited to join organizations. If an employer threatens a man with dismissal because of his membership of an organization, lie commits an offence against the general policy of the Act. He similarly offends against the spirit’ of the Act if, by a threat of dismissal, he intimidates a man from giving evidence which would enable the Court to do justice between the parties. I am inclined to agree with the amendment, but as I bave not had time to give it full consideration, I will agree to postpone the clause with a view to having the amendment put in order by the draftsman.
.- I think that paragraph d will improve section 9, but it makes a rather novel departure from the language of the section, in that it refers to a “ member of an organization,” but does not add the words “ or association which has applied to be registered as an organization.” I think those words should be inserted. I ask the Minister to also agree to omit the words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions.” Whilst an organization may be desiring better conditions every day, I do not know that it is actually seeking them every day. Those words seem1 to be either injurious or superfluous.
– The words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions “ are inserted on account of a case which arose in Tasmania in connexion with a (member of an organization who was dismissed because he expressed dissatisfaction with his conditions. The director swore that he had dismissed the employee because the latter was dissatisfied, and the magistrate accepted that testimony. An employer must be entitled to dismiss an employee if the latter is dissatisfied with the conditions under which he is working. The employer ought- not to be compelled to continue to employ a discontented man. At the same time the object of the Act wa6 to encourage the formation of organizations, with a view to bettering the conditions of the workers, and it is necessary to prevent employers from dismissing men who are members of such organizations seeking to improve their con ditions, on the ground that they are dissatisfied with their conditions. In regard to the omission of the words “ or an association which has applied to be registered as an organization,” it is impossible for the employer to know whether an association is seeking to be registered.
– Do not the other penalties apply to a member of an association as well as to a member of an organization?
– They only apply where an employer is trying to prevent the formation of ah association. It would be unfair to dismiss a member of an organization which was functioning under the Act.
– If a member of an organization is dissatisfied with his conditions, but the organization is satisfied, the employer will still have the right to dismiss ?
– Yes. If an organization is thoroughly satisfied with the conditions but one man is grumbling all day, an employer has the right to say, “ If that is your state of mind you had better go.”
– Then this Bill only confers illusory benefits. It transforms an organization into a protective agency for the employer.
– Surely the organization represents the workers engaged in the industry.
Mr. Considine. Suppose there is an agreement with the employers with which the organization is satisfied. . A member of the organization is dissatisfied and desires to move the organization to seek better conditions. The employer says, “ If you are not satisfied with your job, get out.”
– The alternative is to compel an employer to keep on a dissatisfied man, whether he. desires him or not. We must not have compulsion of that sort ; there must be mutuality and reasonable protection. If an organization is dissatisfied with an award it will be held to be seeking better industrial conditions. Under these circumstances, an employer could not dismiss an employee because the latter said that he was dissatisfied with his conditions. The clause gives reasonable and proper protection to the employee; and I ask the honorable member not to press an amendment which, to my view, is alien to the purposes of the section.
.- The Minister seems to be giving a concession, but actually he is giving nothing at all away. In the Tasmanian case that he mentioned, a man was dismissed because he was dissatisfied with his working conditions ; but no change ever occurs inthe conditions of an industry until some member of a union who is working for a private employer has become dissatisfied with his hours or remuneration, or some other condition of his employment. Should he express his dissatisfaction, his employer would immediately say to him, “Your organization has an award, which I am following, and, as you are not satisfied with it, you can go.” There is no protection for that individual. I can understand the statement of the Minister that the measure is designed to encourage organization, because evidently its purpose is to transform ‘the organizations of workers into police bureaux for the benefit of the employers. It pretends to give a benefit to the employee, but gives none at all. As a matter of fact, any employer who was stupid enough to inform an employee that he was dismissing him for his industrial views, could not remain in business very long. In practice, what the employer does when he wishes to get rid of an objectionable unionist is to tell him that he has no work for him. I have had that dodge worked on me. I have been given a start at8 o’clock, and “fired” at 5 o’clock. The employers do not threaten to dismiss their men;they merely get rid of them. This clause is a mere doping of the workers by pretending to confer benefits upon them which are not conferred. From my point of view, the Minister’s explanation makes the position worse. He asks us to solemnly devise machinery for the protection of the employees, when, as a matter of fact, the power of the employer to get rid of men is not and cannot be taken away. How can an employer be prevented from dismissing an employee if he does not say straight out, “ I am dismissing you for the part that you took in such-and-such a strike,” or “because you gave certain evidence in the hearing of a case”? An employer, if necessary, can suspend his operations temporarily, and afterwards would not be compelled to re-employ his original hands. A wharf labourer who was obnoxious to his employers would not be “ seen “ by the boss when he attended on the wharf to be picked up; the sailor who was obnoxious would not be able to sign on for another voyage. The miner, after he had cut out his fortnight’s contract, would be offered a low price for the next, sothat he must refuse the work. There is no way of protecting any of these individuals, and the workers will never be able to protect themselves from their employers except by the power of their organizations. If it does not pay an employer to penalize individuals who are agitating, he will continue to employ them; but otherwise he will get rid of them, even though he may have to stop his plant for a time to do so. In Broken Hill there have been cases of deliberate victimization; but when a mine has been laid idle in protest against such cases, the men may be reinstated, but a little later they are got rid of under circumstances which make it impossible to prove victimization. It is nonsense to think of protecting the employees by provisions of this character. To-day the employers are on top, and have the control of industry, and until the workers have a bigger say in the control of industry, they will have no protection.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to8 p.m.
– Before the dinner adjournment, I told the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that I was inclined to favour his proposal to amend section 9 in order to deal with what I described as intimidation. I have in the meantime considered the section closely, and I find that it would be difficult as a matter of drafting to introduce, by way of amendment, the idea of intimidation. If the honorable member will withdraw his amendment, I am prepared to take certain action. I have given instructions for the drafting of an amendment which will deal with the intimidation aspect of the matter, and which will prevent threatening to dismiss a man who wants to become an officer or member of an organization, or to join an association about to be registered, and will deal also with threatening a man for giving evidence. That is the only way in which, it seems to me, the matter can be satisfactorily dealt with. I promise the honorable member that, at a later stage, when we are dealing with new clauses, I shall submit a new clause to meet his views in the way I have stated.
– Will the Minister in the new clause cover threatening to dismiss?
– Yes; using a threat to dismiss to prevent a person joining an association, giving evidence, or taking part in proceedings.
– In the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– The statement made by the Minister, I think, covers the suggestion I wished to make, but I should like to be quite clear on the point. It occasionally happens that it is proposed to form an organization, and that while it is in process of formation an employer will threaten to dismiss any of his men who take any part in forming it. It was my desire that the clause should be so amended as to prevent that. Am I to understand that that difficulty will be met in the new clause the Minister proposes to submit?
– I shall make it as wide as I can consistent with the purpose of the Bill. I shall bear in mind what the honorable member has said.
– It seems to me that whilst we adopt the principle which we have adopted in connexion with all industrial legislation - that organization is desirable - we should not allow any one to put obstacles in the way of forming organizations.
– We can only deal with associations or organizations that will come under the Act. It would not do to make such provision inthe case of men who wished to become members of associations or organizations having nothing to do with this Act. That would notbe relevant to the purpose of the measure.
– I quite see that. If the Minister will agree to meet the case to which I have referred, so far as the purpose of the Bill will permit, I shall be satisfied.
– I am prepared to do that.
– Before the dinner adjournment, I pro posed an amendment of the proposed new paragraph d, which reads - being a member of an organization which is seeking better industrial conditions, is dissatisfied with his conditions.
From two points of view, I contend that that paragraph does not go far enough. Of course, I realize that it represents an advance upon the existing law, but it indicates also how much further in the same direction the Government might have gone. I wish to add after the word “organization” the words “or of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization.” That is the first amendment ‘of the paragraph which I suggest.
(Mr. Atkinson). - I understood the honorable member to propose the omission of certain words.
– Yes, it is my intention to propose the omission of the words, “which” is seeking better conditions.” If honorable members will read the whole section as it appears in the reprint before them, they will find that there are certain prohibitions upon the right of an employer to prejudice any employee in any one of a number of ways. The employee is not to be injured or prejudiced by reason of the circumstance that he is an officer or member of an organization or of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization. That is provided for under paragraph a of the section. Why should we not give the employee the same protection under paragraph d as he is given under paragraph a if he is a member of an association which is seeking to be registered as an organization ? It seems to me that it would be only logical and reasonable to do so.
– The honorable member would prohibit an employer dismissing a man because he is dissatisfied with his conditions at all, if he is a member of an organization.
– If he is a member of an organization or of an association whichis seeking to be registered as an organisation. A man is a member, we will say, of an association. He suggests to his fellow-members that they should form an organization and should register in the Arbitration Court, and because he makes that suggestion, because his desire may be presumed to be that the association should be registered with a view to an improvement of his conditions, his employer may dismiss him on the ground that he is dissatisfied. Why should he be free to dismiss him in those circumstances any more than if he is a member of an organization” seeking to better his conditions? The whole purpose of this legislation is to encourage men to become members of organizations. Paragraph a of the existing Act shows clearly that the intention is not only to protect him as a member of an organization, but to encourage him to join an organization and to encourage associations to register as organizations.
– Was that the spirit shown in dealing with the honorable member forCapricornia (Mr. Higgs) ?
– I understood that the intention of the Committee was to do business. Evidently that is not the intention of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). I am prepared to discuss the honorable member for Capricornia at some other time when the discussion will be relevant. It would not be relevant to this Bill. Incidentally, as the matter has been raised, I may say that I think the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) made up his mind to leave the Labour party, and it was a question whether he should be expelled or should get out in some other way. Apparently, he chose his own way.
– Order !
– The Government propose to limit this protection, not only to members of an organization, but to members of organizations which are seeking to better industrial conditions. This position may arise : A man is a member of an organization, as he is entitled to be, and as he is invited to be by this legislation. He suggests to the fellowmembers of his union, “ We should go to the Arbitration Court in order to better our conditions, and obtain an award.” The organization may or may not be impressed by that view, and may or may not take any action ; but if the organization has not taken any action to better the conditions of its members under this Bill, the man who suggests that action gives evidence of his dissatisfaction with his conditions, becomes marked as a dissatisfied man, and may be dismissed by his employer with impunity for that reason. The Minister in charge of the Bill asks how we can prevent employers dismissing employees. He says that we cannot expect an employer to put up with a grumbler who is constantly complaining about his conditions. If that is the spirit in which he approaches this question, why trouble about paragraph a, which forbids a man being penalized in the circumstances there set out, and why his own new clause? When speaking on the secondreading of the Bill, the Minister pointed out that he was giving a certain measure of protection to men who might be dissatisfied with their lot, and I interjected that the Government did not intend to penalize “ divine discontent.” I understood the Minister to agree with that view, but I find that he does not agree with it.
– The honorable member is dealing with discontent, whilst I was referring to “ divine discontent.”
– If the honorable gentleman will read the clause again he will recognise the very limited extent and the very parsimonious manner in which he proposes to sanction “ divine discontent.” Outside that very limited sphere of discontent the Bill proposes to give the employer an absolute and unrestrained power to dismiss. Dealing with the second part of my objection to the clause, let me suppose that a man is a member of an organization, and, for the sake of my argument, we may presume that he is not a direct actionist. He wants to avail himself of the law,to submit himself to the arbitrament of a Court, and is prepared to accept its judgment. But the Minister says that unless he happens to be a member of an organization which as such has taken steps to better the conditions of its members, if he as an individual expresses the opinion that there should be some improvement in bis conditions, or if he suggests to his organization that they should move for better conditions, under this Bill he gets no protection whatsoever. I do not see what is in the mind of the Government. How they can square the narrow interpretation which must be placed upon this new paragraph with the much wider and more generous interpretation which must be put on preceding paragraphs in the same section of the Act I cannot understand. I cannot see how they, can logically oppose ‘the amendment which, in the circumstances, I must moye. I move -
That the words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions “ be left out, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ or of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization.”
I admit that the words I seek to have inserted may have the effect of limiting the scope of the paragraph, which, without them, would read as follows: - being a member of an organization is dissatisfied with his conditions.
But I seek to have the paragraph read as follows: - being a member of an organization or of an association that has applied to. be registered as an organization, is dissatisfied with his conditions. in order to bring it into uniformity with the words of paragraph a, which reads as follows: - or is an officer or member of an organization or of an association’ that has applied to be registered as an organization.
– I cannot accept the amendment. The honorable member has quite misconceived the purpose for which .section 9 is being amended by clause 4. It is being amended because of a , decision given in a Court in Tasmania before a magistrate, and referred, on appeal, to the High Court. In that case the point at issue was whether a member of an organization seeking to improve its conditions could be dismissed by an employer on the ground of dissatisfaction with ‘the conditions of his employment; and the Court held that, under the law as it stands at the present time, the employer was protected in this respect. The employer’s evidence was that he had dismissed a man, not because he happened to be a member of an organization, which he is prevented from doing by paragraph (a), but because the man was dissatisfied with the conditions of his employment’. The organization to which the man belonged was seeking to improve its conditions, and the employer dismissed him because he was dissatisfied with the conditions which the organization was seeking to improve. It was lawful and legitimate for it-he organization to seek to improve those conditions, and it was equally fair and proper that the employee should have a right to be dissatisfied with them, and should want to improve them in accordance with the aims of his organization. To meet such a case the Government proposes to add to section 9 of the principal Act a paragraph providing that an employer must not dismiss a member of an organization seeking to improve its conditions on the ground that he happens to be dissatisfied with those conditions.
– That is going a long way.
– Tes. It is an interference with the ordinary common law of master and servant, which permits the master, who is of opinion that a servants’ dissatisfaction with the conditions of his employment is such as to render bini unsuitable as a servant, to dismiss him, without incurring any penalty for so doing. The Government’s proposal cuts right across that common law rule, on the ground that, as the Conciliation and Arbitration Act seeks to encourage organizations to register under the Act, and empowers the Court to give them the right to appear before it and submit plaints for the improvement of industrial conditions, individual members of such organizations whose natural desire is to further the plaints before the Court, ought to be protected from dismissal on the ground stated. However, that is as far as we propose to go. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) would go considerably further. He would strike out the words, “ which Ls seeking better industrial conditions,” and insert in their stead the words, “ or of an association .that has applied to be registered as an organization.”
– To bring the paragraph in conformity with paragraph a.
– Let me deal with the two proposals in their order. First of all, with the omission of the words which the honorable ‘member seeks to have .deleted, an employer could not dismiss an employee who “ is a member of an organization, and is dissatisfied with his conditions.” The mere fact that a man was a member of ah organization would protect him for all time. He could not be dismissed, on the ground that he was dissatisfied with his conditions.
– A dissatisfied employee is of no use to any one.
– The amendment in the Bill protects him to a certain extent.
– It protects a member of an organization which is legitimately seeking to improve its conditions ; but the honorable member’s proposal would give complete protection to a certain number of discontented and dissatisfied members of an organization which has gone to the Court and secured an award with which the great bulk of its members were thoroughly satisfied. We cannot do that. The only logical reason for affording a man protection is the fact that the organization, of which he is a member, is also dissatisfied, and is seeking to improve its conditions. Now, let us take the second part of the honorable member’s amendment, in which he seeks to insert the words “ or of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization.’’ The honorable member states that his purpose in seeking to insert these words is to bring the paragraph into harmony with paragraph a, which prevents an employer from dismissing an employee who is a “ member of an organization “ - that is to say, one which is already registered under the Act - “ or of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization.” There is a reason for having these words in paragraph a, because in the period that elapses before registration, employees must get together to form an association, and if an employer could with impunity dismiss all the persons who were mem- . bers of an association about to be registered, he might interfere with the lawful right of the members of that association to become a registered organization, and, logically, he ought to be punished for seeking to block the endeavour of his workmen to exercise their lawful right to register.
– The principle is the same in the two paragraphs.
– It is not. Before registration an association is not seeking specifically to improve industrial conditions, because it does not formu late its plaint, or specify the conditions which it regards as unsatisfactory, until it is registered. For that reason it. would be quite improper to insert the words “which is seeking better industrial conditions “ in paragraph a. I think the honorable member will admit that the Government have made a sincere effort to meet a particular problem, and as any attempt to carry it further would be a serious and unjust invasion of the ordinary rule of. common law, I am not prepared to assent to it.
– If the president of an organization, which is registered, suggests that a plaint should be formulated, would it be fair that he should be immediately dismissed because, as an individual, he has expressed dissatisfaction to an organization which has not yet begun to make its claim?
– The honorable member is seeking, not merely to protect the president of an organization, but every other member of it. The protection given by the Bill is really substantial. I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment.
– I ask honorable members to look very seriously at the honorable member’s proposal. As I interjected, the Government’s amendment goes a remarkably long way, but if the honorable member’s proposition were agreed to, employers would be placed in a gravely serious position, and would have the greatest difficulty in getting rid of men who were the source of constant irritation and serious discontent in their establishments. The Government go so far as to say that so long as the dissatisfaction is that of an organized body, the mere fact of a member of that body expressing the same dissatisfaction is not to entitle the employer to dismiss him. That may bear the appearance of being unreasonable, but honorable members will see that in it there is the guarantee that it is the dissatisfaction not of an individual, but of the whole organization. If, however, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) strikes out the words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions,” he removes it from ‘the complaint of the organization or corporate body, and _ it resolves itself into the complaint of an individual. An award may have been given which has been completely satisfactory to all concerned, but one individual may set to work to get up a further agitation, and express himself as dissatisfied with various conditions, and disorganize the whole of the employment, yet the employer will be utterly helpless. He will not be able to protect himself against the agitation of that individual, and cannot get rid of him. The effect of the amendment, therefore, would be to put the employer in the position of having to suffer the constant and irritating discontent of the individual without being able to rid himself of him.
– And his discontent may spread over the whole staff.
– Exactly. His individual complaint may not be shared by the general body of employees in that particular class of work. He may be absolutely insatiable, and may breed discontent throughout the whole employment, but all that the employer can do is to look on utterly helpless, and pay that man in the same way as he would a willing worker.
– Then the idea is to ‘ sack “ the man before he can get the organization to work.
– That is another matter altogether. The honorable member then proposes to use the same words as appear in paragraph a - “ or of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization.” I can quite understand those words being used in paragraph a. If there is an organization in existence it must of course express the dissatisfaction, but if not, then comes in the protection that those who are setting to work to form an organization are not to be penalized by season of their attempt to do so. But to introduce these words into proposed new paragraph d would be a grave and serious matter, because it would give to the discontented individual even greater security than could be given if the words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions “ were struck out. He would be placed in such a position that he could practically defy the employer. I submit to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that paragraph d is most reasonable from the standpoint that the man is fully protected if he is only expressing ‘the dissatisfaction of the organized body. If he is going to set to work to disregard and defy the organized body and create discontent, he is not entitled to any further protection.
– Notwithstanding the protest of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), the amendment of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is very reasonable. It merely seeks to protect a man who tries to do himself and his fellow employees some good. All we want to do is to put in paragraph d the same words as now appear in paragraph a. Why not? If the Committee is prepared to protect a man in one case because he is advocating certain principles for the benefit of himself and his fellow workers, why penalize another man who is endeavouring to do the same on behalf of himself and his fellow employees in another case ? In previous days a man in a workshop had only to say, “ It is about time we had a union here,” to be promptly turned out into the cold world to look for a job. Nowadays it is done more scientifically. It is amusing to hear honorable members on the other side putting up a plea for the unfortunate employer. There are a thousand and one ways in which an employer can get rid of a man. This Bill, in many of its clauses, sets out to protect the worker who is endeavouring to improve his industrial conditions and those of his fellow workers. That is the whole tenor of the Bill. It is a well known fact that an employer can always protect himself against the encroachments, if you like to call them so, of the worker.
– What about a clause to provide that the worker shall give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage ?
– I refer the honorable member to up-to-date statistics, which prove that the working men of Australia are turning out more goods, and of greater value, than ever they turned out before.
– The working men of Australia are all right, but what about the loafing men of Australia?
– There must be many men in these organizations doing more than their fair share to make up for what the honorable member calls the loafers, if those statistics are correct, because the goods are there and are delivered every time. Why should certain words be beneficial in one part of the clause and injurious in another part? In this Bill honorable members, whether they have the employers’ sympathies or not, are setting out to protect the worker. “Unless there is organization on both sides arbitration and conciliation will be of very little value. We might as well put this Bill on the kitchen fire when we go home, unless we are going to recognise organizations. We are out as a Parliament to see that organizations are formed in order that conciliation and arbitration may run their proper course.
– This does not challenge that in any way.
– Undoubtedly it does. The honorable member spoke of the case of a discontented individual. Nearly every reform that has taken place has begun with one man or a few men, and the history of all countries proves conclusively that the few have suffered in trying to bring it about. In some cases their lives have been taken, and it has been proved that, over and over again, many workers have lost their positions. We must protect the man who, in the factory or workshop, is prepared to start a movement to form an organization that can go to the Court and be brought under the provisions of the Arbitration Act. That is a desirable thing to encourage. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and am rather surprised that the Minister (Mr. Groom) is not ready to accept it.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and so clearly explained by him. I find it quite impossible to follow the arguments put forward by the Minister (Mr. Groom), or the special pleading of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best). They seek to draw a distinction between proposed paragraph d and paragraph a, so far as concerns an organization or an association that has applied to be registered as an organization. I fail to see upon what logical grounds any exception can be taken to the very fair argument of the honorable member for Batman for the inclusion of members of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization, as well as members of registered organizations. No effective argument has been directed to that point at all.
– I could understand the argument of the honorable member for Batman if he simply wanted to add the words he has suggested, and did not want at the same time to delete the words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions.”
– The honorable member for Batman made it very clear that those are two separate matters. Does the honorable member suggest that, if those words were left in, he would have no objection to adding after the word “ organization “ the words “or of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization “ ?
– I am dealing with the argument of the honorable member for Batman.
– When the honorable member is cornered, he backs out. I have pointed out the logic of the honorable member for Batman on the first branch of his argument. I am with him also on the second branch, because the inclusion of the words “ which is seeking better industrial conditions “ places an impediment in the way of establishing the guilt of an employer who would dismiss a member of an organization because he was dissatisfied with his conditions. I listened with a good deal of interest to what I have termed the special pleading of the honorable member for Kooyong in this respect. ‘ Looking at our friends, the members of the so-called Country party, in the corner, the honorable member appealed to them to recognise that if those words were not left in an employer would not be able to dismiss a person who was dissatisfied with his conditions, and infected others with his dissatisfaction, and was causing general trouble amongst the employees.
– Why the “so-called Country party “ ? “
– I do not wish to overload my argument with that matter at the present time, but when a more suitable occasion arises I shall be pleased to give my views upon it. If the honorable member for Kooyong were defending an employer, who was charged with having dismissed an employee because he was not satisfied with his conditions, he would probably appeal to the Bench in these terms, “ My client has not dismissed the man because he is dissatisfied with his conditions, but because he is a general agitator, and is causing trouble amongst the other employees, which is an entirely different matter.”
– He has a perfect right to dismiss him for either.
– That is where we differ. If the honorable member would allow an employee to be dismissed in circumstances that the honorable member for Batman is trying to guard against, he would enable an employer to victimize, if he were so inclined, a member of an organization who was honestly endeavouring to persuade his fellow employees that they should seek better industrial conditions. That could be done under the clause as it stands. I should like to know who suggested this proposed amendment of the principal Act. Where did it emanate? Who suggested that paragraph d should be inserted in section 9 of the principal Act? Does the suggestion come from the Court itself?
– Would that affect the honorable member’s vote on the subject?
– It might affect my attitude upon the matter, because I feel, as I have said before, that the President and Deputy President of the Court should have been asked for a report as to the proper forms of amendment to be made in the existing Act. It would be very helpful to me, in arriving at a conclusion, to he able to refer toa report made by the President of the Court. Mr. Justice Higgins has had long years of experience. He is admittedly a capable Judge, andI do not think that any one would suggest that he would be actuated by any but the highest motives - by a desire to assist the Legislature in so shaping this amending Bill as toaid in the removal of industrial unrest. This is a very important matter. It affects not only the clause now before us, but others. I should like to know whether the President of the Court has been consulted - whether he has expressed any views upon this amending Bill, or has been requested to make a report upon it. I hope that the Minister will be good enough to answer my inquiry.
.- When I commenced to dissect this clause I thought that we were approaching the consideration of the question, in all good faith, with a desire to give effect, logically and fully, to the policy of the Government, which is that of conciliation and arbitration. But as the debate goes on I see the trail of the “ agitator “ over the whole of the proceedings. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) would dismiss an employee because he is dissatisfied or is agitating; he would dismiss him, he says, with perfect confidence, for any of these reasons, and, in fact, for no reason at all. Let us then approach this subject of conciliation in the atmosphere of unconciliation which the Government and their supporters have created for us. The Minister himself says, “We have introduced this modicum of relief because of a case that was tried in Tasmania, where it was found that a member of an organization that was approaching the Court for redress hadbeen dismissed. We have introduced this particular paragraph for the special purpose of dealing with this special case.”
Mr.Groom. - With that class of cases.
– My answer to the Minister is that the Government cannot afford to summon the Federal Parliament every time the Court in Tasmania or any other State finds defects in Acts which this Government have succeeded in passing. We are dealing with principles, and not with special cases, even although those special cases in an especial way show defects in measures introduced by the Government. I gather that the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) mistakes the purpose of this Bill as being designed to promote strikes and agitations, since, when I put a very simple case to him, he says that it carries no conviction to his mind. As I pointed out, an organization might he registered under the Act. An organization, like every other body, acts on the advice of its leaders. It moves on the advice and representations made probably by its president and other officers. These officers, in the minds of honorable members opposite, of course, are agitators, undeserving of any respect. But in our view they are the responsible officers of responsible organizations. Assuming that we had an organization registered under the Act, it might naturally follow that the first person to suggest to that organization what it ought to do for the betterment of the conditions of its members would be its president or some other constituted . leader, such as a shop delegate. Aud as soon as the president or any duly constituted leader said to the members of that organization, “ We ought’ to file a plaint,” or “ Having regard to the cost of living and the material that I have at my disposal to convince you we would be justified in seeking better conditions,” he would become a dissatisfied employee; he would be a marked man for dismissal, and would get no protection under this Bill.
– He would be an “ agitator.”
– And would stand condemned as such. That has always been the policy of the opponents of Labour. Their policy has always been to seize the live men in an organization and to victimize them before their influence extends to the members of the organization. They pick them off one by one. They make it unsafe for a man to be a leader, an adviser, of his fellow workers. And this Government, which stands for conciliation and arbitration, says, “ We will back them up in dismissing a man in such circumstances.” They come forward with this paltry pretence at amending the Act and say that in those very rare cases where a man who is a member of an organization that has actually taken action is dismissed, we will punish the employer. They put that forward as a genuine at. tempt to protect the workers in an industry. They protect the individual in the very exceptional case, but in the related cases in which they should logically protect him and in the numerous cases that will arise, they offer him no protection whatever. They, in effect, “ bark “ out, as the honorable member for Wakefield “ barked “ just now, “ We will allow these men to be dismissed for no reason at all.”
– I did not say that.
– That is what this Government policy of conciliation amounts to. I invite honorable members in the Ministerial corner, if they wish to be called “the Country party,” and not “the socalled Country party.” to address themselves to this question - to see where they are being led by the party of reactionaries sitting behind the Government - and to support the amendment which I have moved.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has tried to make it appear that the provision to which he takes exception is calculated to give relief in only isolated cases. The honorable member entirely misconstrues the clause. The words which he seeks to omit are, “ seeking better industrial conditions.” Is there- an organization registered under the Act that is not endeavouring to improve industrial conditions? Almost every organization is trying to do so. How many cases are there before the Court?
– A great many, and the Government will not appoint additional Judges to deal with them.
– A moment ago the honorable member said that this provision would apply to only one special case. He now says that there are a great many cases. The actual position is that he is resorting to a policy of bluff. A significant commentary on his statement is that many of the men to whom he referred as the leaders of the industrial organizations are in the employ of- the organizations themselves. They are not in private employment. They are organizers, and can go about seeking, as they are perfectly justified in doing, to improve the conditions of their fellows. The organizers and secretaries of the various unions are paid officials.
– But even if it were not so, their action on behalf of an organization would be the action of the organization itself.
– That might be so. The words to which the honorable member takes exception are “ an organization which is seeking better industrial conditions.” The clause is not even confined to organizations which have filed a plaint, and are limited to the conditions of that plaint. The dissatisfaction might cover a wide area. The honorable member for Batman, at the outset, admitted that this was an improvement on the principal Act. Suddenly, however, waxing eloquent, he forgot that statement, and had not a good word to say for the clause. We shall be satisfied to accept the statement made by him before exhilaration destroyed his judgment.
– The clause is good as far as it goes, but it doesnot go far enough.
– It goes as far as we are entitled to go. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) desired to know whether the President of the Court had suggested any of the amendments of the principal Act for which this Bill provides. As a matter of fact, he made suggestions to within a fortnight of the introduction of the Bill. We have throughout been constantly in touch with him, and he has been making suggestions.
– Are his suggestions incorporated in this Bill ?
– As I told the House last week, many of them are. The Government did not call upon the President of the Court for a report, but the Department has been in touch with him, and had suggestions from him up to the time the Bill was launched. The Government, after all, must accept the responsibility for this Bill. Although the Department may be in touch with the President of the Court, and be glad to consider amendments of the principal Act suggested by him, the Government itself, in the end, must be responsible for the Bill. It accepts that responsibility.
– Will the Minister be good enough to let us know what amendments of the principal Act included in this Bill were suggested by the learned Judge?
– I do not think it would be just to do so. If I did, the honorable member might perhaps receive the shock of his life. ! Our desire is to convert the honorable member to a reasonable view of our legislation. We accept the responsibility for the Bill, and submit, upon their inherent merits, the amendments of the principal Act for which the Bill provides. We have gone a long way, and do not feel disposed to go further in so far as this clause is concerned.
Question - That the. words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause (Mr. Brennan’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority. . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section fourteen of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1918 is amended -
by inserting in sub-section (1), after the word “any” (first occurring), the words “person or persons holding the office of “ ;
by inserting in that sub-section, after the words “the Deputy” (wherever occurring), the words “of Deputies “ ; and
by omitting from sub-section (2), the word “The” (first occurring) and inserting in its stead the word “ A “.
Section proposed to be amended: - 14. (1) The Governor-General may, by instrument under his hand, appoint any Justice of theHigh Court or Judge of the Supreme Court of a State to be the Deputy of the President in any part of the Commonwealth, and in that capacity to exercise such powers and functions of the President as the Governor- General thinks fit to assign to the Deputy.
The Deputy so appointed shall be entitled to hold office during good behaviour for the unexpired period of the term of office of the President for the time being, and shall be eligible for re-appointment, and shall not be removed during the said period except by the Governor-General on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviouror incapacity…..
.- I desire to amend section 11 of the principal Act by providing for the appointment of two laymen, whose duty it will be to assist the Judge of the Arbitration Court. The President of that Tribunal has experienced a very trying time for a number of years, and, during that period, has received no assistance whatever from experts. The Act would be considerably improved if the industrial class were permitted to elect one representative, and the employing class another representative, to assist him in the determination of cases.
– The honorable member suggests the appointment of assessors?
– Yes. We have already recognised this principle in the Industrial Peace Bill, in which provision is made that both sides to any industrial dispute shall have a representative on the Boards which are to be constituted under that measure, with an independent chairman. Why should not that system be applied to the Arbitration Court? If the Act be amended in the direction I have suggested, both the employees and the employers will have more confidence in that Tribunal than they have at present. By adopting the plan which I have outlined, great good may be accomplished. The experiment is not a new one. The old Arbitration Court in New South Wales was constituted of a Judge and a representative from both the employers and the employees. I have no desire to occupy time unduly, but I ask the Committee to give my suggestion favorable consideration.
– The new clause which the honorable member has suggested is quite irrelevant at this stage. Its adoption would involve a complete revision of the Act.
– It would ‘be worth all. that.
– At this stage, the desire of the Government is to amend the Act in certain particulars. But the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has already indicated that it may be necessary, later on, to revise it completely.
– What are the present provisions of the Act in respect to assessors ?
– The Judge of the Arbitration Court is empowered to call in assessors, and it is compulsory that he should avail himself of their assistance upon the application of either party.
– But he is not bound to be guided by them.
– Section 35 of the Act clearly sets out that the Court shall, on the application of any party to an industrial dispute, appoint two assessors for the purpose of advising it in relation to such dispute.
– Then the Act provides that the Judge shall call in assessors upon an application being made by either party ?
– The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) desires to make the appointment of assessors part of the Court itself. That would involve a complete revision of the whole Act.
I have already circulated an amendment which I intend moving in respect of clause 5 of the Bill. Under the principal Act, the Governor-General in Council has power to appoint only one Deputy, and this Deputy may be appointed only for the unexpired period of the term of office of the President for the time being. The object of the clause in the Bill is to enable as many Deputies as may be necessary to be appointed. It was pointed out that the clause in regard to the tenure of the Deputies is somewhat ambiguous. If the Judge were to resign, would “ the unexpired term of office of the President “ mean the balance of the period for which he was appointed? We want to place this matter beyond doubt. I therefore desire to insert at the end of the clause the following paragraph: - “(d) By omitting from sub-section (2) the words ‘ of office of the President for the time being ‘ and inserting in their stead the words for which the President holding office at the date of his appointment was appointed.’ “
Suppose that a vacancy in the Presidency of the Court arose at the present moment, and that we desired to appoint a Deputy while there was no President in being, the Deputy would hold office for a period of seven years from the time of the appointment.
– Suppose that in the meantime the Act is repealed ?
– Then, of course, the office goes.
– And you will have to find something for the Judge to do.
– No; the only person who can be appointed as Deputy is a Judge of the High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, and when he ceases to act he will resume his ordinary judicial functions.
– Then the Judge is really only borrowed?
– That is so, just as State Judges are, as it were, borrowed for Federal work and the State Courts invested with Federal jurisdiction.
– What amendment are you moving ?
– I pointed out that the clause makes provision for the appointment of Deputies, and the amendment is one to define the tenure. There is a small drafting amendment, and then I propose to insert the words, a copy of which has been circulated.
– Is the appointment of a Deputy for a fixed time ?
– The Deputy will be appointed for a definite time.
– Why associate his term with that of the President?
– On the ground of his being a Deputy; the original suggestion was accepted to make the term coterminous with that of the President.
.-I have a prior amendment to that of the Minister. I move -
That the following paragraph be inserted before paragraph (a) : - “(aa) by omitting the words ‘GovernorGeneral ‘ in line1 of sub-section (1.) and inserting the word President ‘ in place thereof, and by inserting the words ‘ person or persons holding the office of ‘ after the word ‘ any ‘ in line 2 of sub-section (1.).”
The amendment means that the President will appoint the Deputies, and will practically bring us back to where we were before the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was amended in 1918, prior to which the President had the power. Since that amendment of the original Act it has been proved that this section has not given satisfaction to industrial unionists. The Court is congested chiefly because the man who presides over it, and who knows most about the business, has not the power to appoint any one to assist him. The appointment at present is left to Executive authority, and the clause in the Bill, as it stands, so leaves the law. Unless the Government feel inclined to appoint Deputies to meet the congestion, the Court will still be “ ham strung,” and, therefore,I wish the President to have the power. In the near future there may be no necessity for Deputies at all, for, with the machinery being brought into existence, it is possible that the Court may not have one-third of the work it has now to meet. Until such time however, as the accumulated work is reduced, it ought to be left with the President to appoint Deputies. We may rely on it that the Court will not appoint any Deputies unless there is an absolute necessity; and I think my amendment will prove satisfactory to all concerned. All the congestion has occurred since we last amended the Act, and we are responsible, because we have not made appointments to meet the business. Under the circumstances, there should be no objection to reverting to the old system. Only at times will it be necessary to appoint a Deputy, and we ought to take great care that claims have not to wait six or twelve months for settlement.
– I cannot accept the amendment, and I ask the Committee to review the position and see where we stand. In 1918, on suggestions which originated from a Justice of the Court, as announced at the time, the law was expressly altered so as to allow the appointment of Deputies to be made by the Governor-General, instead of, as previously, by the President.
– Did the President suggest the alteration ?
– At the time one of the Judges was acting as Deputy, and, after consultation with him, the alteration was made.
– If the amendment now suggested had been the present law, would the congestion not have been prevented ?
– It would not.
– Could the President not have appointed other Judges?
– No ; there is a difficulty in arranging the work. Mr. Justice Powers resigned, and the Government made every effort when Mr. Justice Starke was appointed to his place as Deputy.
– Even with Mr. Justice Starke it is evident that there are not sufficient Judges. Why should not the President appoint others?
– We are taking power expressly to meet that position.
– I wish to leave the appointments to the President.
– I think that, on the whole, the appointment of Deputies for a definite term should rest with the Executive. As to the congestion, I remind honorable members of another Bill that has to comebefore us to provide for the creation of an Arbitration Tribunal for Public Service cases. I think there are fifty-one cases, thirty-three of which are connected with the Public Service alone. Mr. Fenton. - Is there to be a separate Court?
– At the present time the Public Service is under a separate Act, but one of the arbitration Judges does the work. We are keeping practically the same law, but appointing a special arbitrator to take that kind of work only; and this, I think, will relieve the congestion.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the word “and,” line 11, be left out, and that the following words be added to the clause -
.- I am not quite clear as to why this amendment is being proposed. When the Bill was drafted there was no such amendment thought of, and it is now submitted to the Committee for some reasons which are not apparent. The amendment provides for a Deputy to be appointed, notwithstanding thata vacancy exists in the office of President. I do not know whether the Government anticipate the position of President of the Arbitration Court becoming vacant, and have submitted this amendment on that account. If that is not the reason, it is difficult to understand why the amendment has been moved, and, perhaps, the Minister for Works and Railways will explain the position to enable the members of the Committee to ascertain whether they should accept the amendment or not.
– In the Act as it stands at present there is a section providing for the appointment by the Governor-General of one Deputy President, and the first amendment is to give the Government power to appoint more than one Deputy. The second amendment deals with the tenure of office of the President. Under section 14 of the original Act the Deputy is appointed for the unexpired term of office of the President for the time being, which implies that if the President resigned, died, or vacated his office for any reason, the office of Deputy would cease to exist. The Government desire the office of Deputy President to continue, so that he will hold office during the unexpired period for which the President was originally appointed. If the President was appointed for seven years, and only two years had expired when he resigned, the amendment would enable the Deputy to hold office for the remaining period. The amendment is to prevent a vacancy happening in the office of Deputy President in the event of the President resigning or ceasingto hold office for any reason whatever. The Deputy is to continue to hold office for the remainder of the period for which the President was appointed.
– Will that mean that another President would not be appointed?
– Not at all. It merely enables the Deputy President to hold office for the remainder of the President’s term. If we desired to appoint another Deputy, and the office of the President was not filled, we could do so. Supposing something happened to the President, and we required three Deputies, instead of having to wait, we could appoint Deputies until another President was selected. Obviously a President mustbe appointed at the earliest possible moment in the event of the office being vacated by resignation, death, or other cause.
– Has this amendment arisen in consequence of recent developments ?
– No. As a matter of fact, the contingency was discussed some time ago by the Crown Law officers.
– Then why has it not been included in the memorandum circulated to honorable members?
– Because the clause had not been drafted, and was not included in the original Act. There are no other reasons apart from those I have given.
– I am not satisfied with the explanation given by the Minister for Works and Railways. As I understand it, the term of office of the President and Deputy Presidents must expire at the same time. This will hamper the Government in dealing with the conditions as they exist in the Arbitration Court. If at the commencement of the President’s term of office there is a period of congestion, the Government can only appoint an additional Judge for seven years. On the other hand, if we are within a year of the expiration of the President’s term of office, we can only appoint Deputies for one year. The work ofthe Arbitration Court cannotbe foreshadowed for five, six, or seven years, and the result of making this long term of office compulsory will be that the Government will defer the appointment of a Deputy as long as possible, in the hope that the congestion will disappear and an additional Judge will not be necessary.
– Is the honorable member opposing the amendment?
– I am not very clear as to what the amendment means. I am in favour of power being given to appoint more Deputies, and I am in favour of the Deputies continuing to hold office whether the President resigns or not; but I would like to know why the Government deny themselves the right to appoint a Deputy for a year when that period of service may be sufficient to relieve the congestion of the Court. I think the Government would be in a better position to deal with the congestion if they were able to appoint a Deputy for one, two, or three years, as the circumstances warranted. The relation between the terms of office of the Deputy and the President is purely fictitious, and of no practical use at all. I would like the Government to have power to appoint a Deputy for such term as may be necessary, without regard to the term of the office of President, but for a period not exceeding seven /ears. I think there should be power at present, considering the state of the Arbitration Court work, to appoint several Deputies. Yet if they were appointed they would have to hold office till the President’s term expired. If temporary Deputies could be appointed-, that would be the proper course to follow.
– Does the honorable member suggest that if the Deputy did not prove suitable the Government could remove him from office?
– The less the Government have to do with a Judge after he is appointed the better. I advocate the complete independence of Judges after they have been appointed to the Bench; a Judge should not be able to look to the Executive for any preferment or favour. In this case, however, appointment for a lesser term than the Bill seems to suggest should be possible.
– In view of the lack of explanation from the Minister (Mr. Groom) and the very unsatisfactory way in which the information asked for by honorable members on this side has been denied, and in view also of the reticence of the Minister in regard to the suggestions which he says have been made by the President of the Arbitration Court, I move -
That further consideration of the clause be postponed for the purpose of obtaining a report from the President of the Arbitration Court suggesting desirable amendments, with a view to Parliament considering the same, and, if necessary, inserting them in the Bill.
The amendments prepared by the Government have been presented to the Committee in such a. way as to suggest a Chinese puzzle. The statement recently made by the Minister is not in conformity with the statement made by the President of the Court. It would be well if we could avail ourselves of the wide experience of the President of the Court. A statement made by him was published in the Evening News of 6th August, and, as it has not been altered in any way since, I can only assume that His Honour has been correctly reported. Mr. Justice Higgins said -
Neither my late colleague, Mr. Justice Powers, nor myself, has been shown the Bill on this and cognate subjects, or asked for suggestions or comments; although an experience of seven years in the one case, and. of thirteen years in the other, might have been made fruitful of advantage to the public.
That is a very definite statement. In His Honour’s opinion, it should not be left to the Government to decide how the Act should be amended, and the experience we have had of the Government does not give us confidence in their handling of such a question.
– That is an impudent statement for a Judge to make.
– I have no doubt that the Judge made it with a full knowledge of the facts. The present Government endeavoured to appoint a certain Judge to a tribunal, and first instructed him what to do.
Mr. Justice Higgins continued
The Prime Minister says “The hearing of cases is often very protracted. . . . one reason is that the Judge is necessarily unfamiliar with the trade or industry whose conditions he is called on to settle.” … I challenge the Prime Minister to show that any case has been protracted for that reason. Contrary to my own expectations cases hardly ever turn on expert knowledge of this sort; but if, and as far as they do, the outsiders are generally more likely to be impartial.
The statement that the hearing of cases had often been protracted was the Prime Minister’s excuse for introducing the Industrial Peace Bill, which Bill, in my opinion, will tend to create industrial strife in this country, if only for the reason that it fails to deal with the main cause of industrial unrest, namely, the profiteering which has been unchecked by the Government, who are in power through the instrumentality of the profiteers. The industrial - legislation brought forward by the Government has been introduced for the purpose of bringing about a crisis in the Arbitration Court, thus verifying the prediction made some months ago by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), and other honorable members of this party, that before long the President of the Court would be unable, on account of the action of the Government, to hon.orably continue to hold his position. His Honour pointed out that the delays of the Court were not due to any fault of the Court itself, but to Parliament itself, and he went on to illustrate how the Court has been beneficial in preventing industrial disputes. That statement shows that his opinion differs from that of the Government, and that the amendments which have been submitted to Parliament were not suggested by him, but, in all probability, are in direct opposition to his considered views. The discussion this evening has proved that the amendments are not designed for the preservation of industrial peace, but rather for the purpose of giving unscrupulous employers the weapon with which to cow their employees who endeavour to improve the conditions of their fellow workers and themselves. These are pernicious amendments which are designed to foment industrial trouble through the victimization of men who are termed agitators.’ Mr. Justice Higgins continued -
Apart from these particular strikes the fact is ignored that the Court has preserved the country from many strikes which would have occurred but for the Court’s influence. The public know only what they have suffered; they do not know what suffering they have been saved. There are no statistics as to the number of strikes averted by the knowledge that the Court gives fair play; but the number is great. Perhaps we can get some idea from certain statisticians’ figures quoted by Mr. Watt last year. (I think that the Prime Minister was away from Australia at the time. )
It appeared that, in the years 1914-15-16-17, there were in all 1,647 strikes in Australia; for the war created much industrial unrest. Of these 1,647 strikes there” can be found only three (‘at the most) in disputes that could possibly come under the jurisdiction’ of the Court. The Court could not touch the dispute in the great strike of 1917, because it was a dispute between State Railway employees and the State Government.
I say nothing as’ to the propriety of the measures proposed, for that is a matter for Parliament, and I am not asked for my opinion. I say nothing as to the constitutionality of the measures, for that is a matter for the High) Court; and I want to leave my mind open for any discussion. In this statement I confine my self to a few of the misunderstandings as to the Court, expressed by the Prime Minister; and I should keep silent, even as to. these if the Court had the benefit of a constitutional protector.
And in the Evening News of the 24th August, this statement appeared -
Mr. Justice Higgins appears to take the same view as some of the members of Parliament on the Industrial Peace Bill, and, to-day, in the Arbitration Court, he gave some hint of retiring from the position of President. After the luncheon adjournment Mr. Barker, on behalf of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, asked Eis Honour if he could give an indication as to when the case might come on.
Mr. Justice Higgins replied that he could not. It was possible that he might be compelled to resign from his office as President. It was better, he said, to let his successor make his own arrangements. As the Bill was only now before Parliament, it was not seemly for him to make any further _ statement. He could not make any arrangement as to new cases, and would not give any undertaking as regards the order of business.
That clearly indicates that the President of the Court has not been asked to suggest amendments to existing legislation with a view to making the Act more beneficial to the people of Australia as a whole. We, on this side of the House, can fairly claim to be representative of the great body of workers, and I submit that the President should have been asked for a report for consideration, not only by the Government, but by the people and their representatives in Parliament. Unless we secure the good will and confidence of the great body of industrialists, we cannot have industrial peace, or that atmosphere which is necessary before there can be immunity from strikes. There is every need for a comprehensive report by the President of the Court to be submitted to Parliament. Nobody is better able to give an opinion upon arbitration questions. No man has had more to do with arbitration in Australia. Mr. Justice Higgins has dealt with cases of widely divergent character. I do not think that there is any man in Australia whom the workers would more confidently trust to furnish an impartial report. They have to rely on the Judge presiding over the Arbitration Court for decisions that vitally affect their means of living. It is all very well for the Government to wave aside the criticism ‘that they are not giving the workers a square deal, but we know the history of their administration, and an impartial person can come to no other conclusion than that they are not. here in the interests of the workers. The funds which financed their election campaign were not supplied by the workers, but by the profiteers, whose interests lie in the Heeding of the workers and in making it harder for them to strike for better industrial conditions. There is not an honorable member on this side who has not been penalized because he has agitated for better conditions. We all know what it is to be black-balled and branded as pariahs because we have fought for those who have been working in bad circumstances like ourselves. We know that there are unscrupulous employers who, through representatives in this Parliament, are ready to stoop to anything in order to prevent the representatives of the workers from lifting their voices in the cause of better industrial conditions. Every honorable member should be able to go back and tell his constituents that he asked the Government for a report from the President of the Arbitration Court. I want to be able to inform my electors that in voting for this measure I had before me the suggestions of the President of the Court, in order that I might be able to assist in bringing about the better working of the Court, and so prevent industrial trouble. But, so long as we have a Government representative of the profiteers there will continue to be industrial unrest, because they will not deal with fundamental causes but will only tinker with industrial legislation, and thus, aggravate the whole position. They can hope to achieve nothing, because they will not deal with principles.
.- The speech and methods of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) are characteristic. He throws out the suggestion that this is a profiteering Government. He knows that that statement is not correct, but that this Government is representative of the whole of the people of Australia. If I were to attempt to array in their order and strength the elements which are behind the Opposition party, and then were to proceed to impute to its members that they represented the views of any one of those sections, there would be a howl of indignation. We do not hint, for example, that because there is a Bolshevik section of the community honorable members opposite are Bolsheviks. But it is all right for the Opposition to say anything they, can lay their tongues to concerning the Government. Anything is good enough. That is the method employed for endeavouring to lower in the public esteem a Government which. by its good works, stands higher in the regard of the community than ever before. The honorable member for Gwydir desires that consideration of the clause be postponed. He says the Committee should not agree to it until honorable members have been furnished with a report from the Judge of the Arbitration Court regarding what he considers should be done. Surely this Parliament is the legislative body for the interests of Australia. I repeat, deliberately, that the majority of the clauses in this Bill are based on suggestions which have been made by the President of the Court. His very latest letter to the Government, which is dated 3rd August, and which I have before me, contains one of these suggestions.
– Why not read the letter?
– I will not do so, and have given my reasons. First, honorable members opposite say that we have not received such suggestions, and then, when we show them that we have done so, they can only cry) “Read them.” However, anything goes so long as a little mud can be thrown.
– We think, about that letter, that it may be like some of “Billy” Hughes’ cables.
– I hold the President of the Arbitration Court in the highest respect, as I do the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). I urge the Committee ‘not to delay this measure for any such reason as has been advanced.
.- I support the request of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr! Cunningham). The Minister (Mr. Groom) has misrepresented both the honorable member’s speech and his purpose. The honorable member, in common with, other honorable members - not all of them on this side of the chamber - desires to have all the information available in order that honorable members may arrive at a proper conclusion concerning what should be included in the Bill. No one is more competent than the President of the Arbitration Court to report upon the matter. We have not got that report. We know that this Bill was not submitted to the President for report. It has been suggested, in a fragmentary way, that some of the amendments incorporated in the Bill were based upon suggestions made by the President from time to time. That may be so, but we have not before us the suggestions which he is stated to have made, and we are unable, therefore, to say how far those suggestions have been availed of, or modified, or turned down. Surely honorable members are entitled to have .the best information available in order that they may arrive at the most’ valuable conclusions. The President of the Court has seen fit, in view, of the circumstances surrounding the manner in which this Bill, and the Industrial Peace Bill, were placed before Parliament, to make comments, both pointed and direct, concerning the Government m not submitting to him those measures for any such expressions of opinion as he might have been inclined to make. It is for honorable members on both sides of the Chamber to say whether they concur in the Government’s attitude. Does the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) think it right that we should be compelled to consider an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act without being provided with a report such as the President of that Court has intimated that he is. willing to give?
– After all, the members of this Parliament are the law-givers.’
– They are; but they ought to be ready and willing to refer to those sources that are best informed upon £he matters concerning which they are making laws.
– That is why the Committee is listening with such attention to the remarks of the honorable member.
– I thank the honorable member, and appreciate the compliment, and I trust that he and _ the honorable members associated with him will support the request of the honorable member for
Gwydir. No one can suggest that: a report from the President of theArbitration Court would do any harm, or, indeed, that it would not be helpful. Honorable members are considering a measure which is intended to prevent industrial unrest, and to prevent industrial disputes. We are dealing with two parties, namely, the employers and the employees, and we should certainly be provided with all information available from the best informed sources.
– Does the honorable member suggest that any one is suppressing any information ?
– I suggest that the Minister has had suggestions from the President of the Court with regard to amendments which he considers it desirable to incorporate in the Bill.. I further suggest that the Minister has not incorporated all those suggestions, and I still further suggest that the Minister is keeping back from honorable members what those suggestions are.
– That is a very serious charge.
– Does the Minister deny what I suggest?
– The honorable member can finish his speech.
– Surely the information should be supplied.
– I will decide whether to , do so when I speak.
– Has the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) any information to back up his suggestion?
– I have the statement of the Minister himself. He has submitted this evening that the President of the Court did make -suggestions for the amendment of the Bill, and some of those suggestions are not incorporated in this measure. Further, the Minister declines to make those suggestions available to honorable members, because, forsooth, he says that they are for the Government to consider. As a member of this Legislature, I desire an opportunity to apply my own judgment to those suggestions, in order that I may be able either to support or to express disagreement with them. Honorable members are entitled to be made acquainted with the suggestions, and to insist upon having them. The desire of the honorable member for Gwydir is laudable.
I should like to know what is to be the attitude of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) on this matter. I am sure that he will not be a party to having the suggestions of the President of the Arbitration Court set aside. If I have formed a correct opinion of him, he will require that as much information as it is possible to obtain shall be laid before the members of this Committee. Then, if I gathered correctly, from an interjection made when I was speaking the other night, the view of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), he thinks it strange that this Bill was not submitted to the President of the Arbitration Court for his suggestions regarding it. I hope that, for the reasons I have given, the Committee will carry the motion of the honorable member for Gwydir, which he so ably supported.
.- The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) would have had more persuasiveness if, when addressing himself to his motion, he had not made wild and whirling charges against those who sit on this side of the chamber. To tell members that they are the tools of the profiteers, and are associated with deeds that would hardly bear the light, is not the best way to commend a proposal to them. Talk such as his may sound pleasantly in the ears of those who returned him to Parliament, but it is playing the game rather low down to make such speeches here. This is a Chamber where honorable members are supposed to deliberate on measures of importance to the country; and the less frequently disgraceful charges are brought by one member against another, the better it must be for our proceedings, and for the dignity of Parliament in the eyes of the country.
– Would the honorable member mind saying that to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) ?
– Should it give any satisfaction to the honorable member to know it, I tell him that I have said something of the kind to the Prime Minister on other occasions. I come now to the motion itself. No doubt, the opinions of the President of the Arbitration Court in regard to proposals such as those now before the Committee are of some importance; and as the honorable member for
West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has said, I indicated, when he was speaking the other night, that it. would be strange if the Government had not consulted’ Mr. Justice Higgins. But we have had the assurance of the Minister (Mr. Groom) that the President of the Arbitration Court has been in communication with the Government in regard to this and another measure recently before the House, and that, so far as they are justified in doing so, Ministers have accepted his suggestions.
– A copy of the Bill was not sent to Mr. Justice Higgins Tor his views upon it, but the suggestions that he has made from time to time have all been considered.
– I understand that that is the position ; that the Bill has not been submitted to the President of the Arbitration Court for his approval. I do not think it would be right and proper for the Government to submit a Bill to him in that way. I have a great personal regard for Mr. Justice Higgins, but in some respects he seems to me to have made serious mistakes at various times.
– A man who does not make mistakes never does anything.
– Quite so. But a Government cannot be absolved from responsibility for the measures which it puts before Parliament; and for the Committee to take upon itself to act on the advice of the President of the Court of Arbitration against the Government is to place the Government in an impossible position.
-And it would drag the Judge into the arena of party politics.
– Although we, on this side, have been spoken of as the tools of profiteers and capitalists, I received during this evening a telegram from a representative of the employers of Western Australia, informing me that they are very much concerned about this and another industrial measure, and asking me and the other representatives of that State to do what we can to have this legislation improved in the direction of meeting their views. If this is a measure entirely for the benefit of the employers, it is strange that I should receive a telegram of that nature. The fact that the telegram has been sent to me proves the wildness of the charges madeby members of the Labour party. In this instance, I shall, without hesitation, support the Government.
Question - That the clausebe postponed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Questionso resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) pro posed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- The matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the House on this motion may be of some interest to honorable members. As the member representing an important constituency, I asked a question in connexion with it, and, as a con sequence, a little later I received this letter : -
Melbourne, 6th August, 1920.
House of Representatives.
Dear Sr. Maloney;
Will you please accept my best thanks for your efforts to keep me before the public at a time when, by accepting a position upon the Royal Commission upon the Basic Wage, I have not only sacrificed my income for the time being, but deprived myself of that publicity which attends the exertions of counsel, thus contrasting, perhaps foolishly, with certain members of Parliament who have recently grabbed an unearned increment.
It is extremely kind of you to beso interested in my humble self, and in appreciation of your action I enclose herein a contribution which, I regret, owing to the limitation of the coinage, it is impossible to decrease.
Yours truly, allan C. Morley.
The enclosure was a halfpenny stamp. This communication, honorable members may like to know, was sent because 1 directed attention to the fact that Mr. Morley broke the secrecy of the ballot at the last election, although a protest was made by the poll clerk, the officer in charge of the table at which he received his ballot-paper, and by the scrutineer, and he used words to this effect at the time -
I do not care a damn who sees how I vote! You can see it, if you like.
This was entered in the memorandumof the presiding officer, and the poll clerk and the scrutineer signed the statement. I took no action in the matter until my party askedme why a trained man and barrister should be allowed to escape for violating the secrecy of the ballot, whereas a mother has been punished for asking her daughter to sign a card applying for a vote.
– Has Mr. Morley been prosecuted ?
– It is about time that he was.
– I sent the following reply to the note I received from Mr. Morley: -
House of Representatives, 10th August, 1920.
C. Morley, Esq.,
Barrister and Solicitor,
Selborne Chambers, Melbourne.
Yours 6th received. Enclosed resolution has been carried at several meetings. It speaks for itself. If the halfpenny issent as acknowledgement of your wrong act, and as damages, what about costs? But, as I consider it is sent in contempt, and in case it comes from tainted money, earned by trying to get guilty criminals off, and thus loosing them on the community to commit further crimes, for, I understand, you never ask where the money forsuch cases comes from that you receive as fees, nor have I learnt of your helping them to live better lives, I have therefore decided to try and purify it by adding £1 and sending it as a contribution in our joint names to a hospital, receipt for which I enclose. If you still think you are right in your action, and you want satisfaction from me, you have only to ask
I enclosed my receipt from the hospital; but a difficulty arose in connexion with the contribution. The secretary of the hospital pointed out to me that the odd halfpenny would make it awkward to balance the hospital books, and so I was compelled, in addition to the £1, to add another halfpenny to my share of the contribution. I gave Mr. Morley a chance to reply to my communication, but he has not done so.
I wish honorable members to recollect that I did not move in this matter until asked to do so by my party. I was disposed to treat Mr. Morley with contempt ; but being called upon to act, I did so. The following is the resolution that was carried at several meetings: -
That this meeting strongly protests against Mr. Morley, barrister and solicitor, being permitted to escape punishment for flagrantly, insolently, and impudently breaking the law pertaining to the secrecy of the ballot at the last Federal general election.
In sending this resolution to Mr. Morley, I added -
Kindly note. - This resolution was carried unanimously at several meetings following the request made to me by my party to endeavour to have Mr. Morley prosecuted for seeking to destroy the secrecy of the ballot, in view of the fact that so many people have been prosecuted for trifling mistakes.
Mr.Ryan. - Why was he not prosecuted ?
– Why were not persons prosecuted in connexion with the Ballarat election, where worse offences were committed?
– I think I have rightly answered Mr. Morley’s impertinent insolence in Bending a halfpenny as a contribution to members who voted as they thought right. My answer to him is that I do not know of any barrister who has drawn more money from the Government of the day. As Mr. Morley says that he has lost his chance of advertising by accepting the post he atpresent fills as a member of the Basic WageRoyal Commission, I propose, as member for the city of Melbourne, to ask how much money Mr. Morley has received, and how many days he has attended in Court?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 August 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200825_reps_8_93/>.