8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker ((Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took ihe chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Aerial Navigation - Convention for the Regulation of - Signed at Paris, 1 13th October, 10in.
North-Western Australia - Report by , Mr. George A. Hobler of tour of inspection of.
Ordered to be printed.
-I ask the Treasurer whether the attention of the Government has been drawn toa statement made by Mr. J. Entwistle at a recent meeting of the South Australian Gas Company. He is reported to have said that -
They bad heard a lot about supporting Australian industries, but he had been informed the other day that a certain well-known South Australian business institution, which controlled one of the big collieries in New South Wales, had practically sold the whole of their output to Japan, and that the shipment was so immense that the smoke of one steamer was not lost sight of by the second, and so on.
Is the Government aware of the circumstances referred to, and, if so, what action, if any, does it intend to take to conserve coal for the industries of Australia, which during recent months have been lacking supplies?
– I was not aware of the facts stated; one usually has to go outside for statements of this kind. I do not pay much credence to the report. We are doing the best we can in the circumstances, and 30,000 tons of coal is on its way to Victoria. I hope that what is now happening will not be interrupted, because if the present supply continues the coal situation will soon be eased very materially.
– Does your agent see that preference is given to Inter-State loading?
– The purpose of his appointment is to see that overseas trade doesnot unduly interfere with trade between the States.
– Will the Government take the earliest opportunity to give us definite information as to when we may hope for the settlement of the earlier Wheat Pools, and as to the arrangements that are being made in regard to this sea son’s wheat?
– Are the officers of the
Postmaster-General making exhaustive inquiries about the possibilities of wireless telephony in Australia ; if not will the honorable member have inquiries made on the subject, so that Australia may receive the earliest possible benefit from the discovery?
– The control of wireless has not been completely taken over by my Department yet, but when it has been, an investigation of wireless telephony will be one of the first things undertaken.
– Is the Government yet in a position to make a statement about the dividends from the Wool Pool ?
– I believe that the Prime Minister will make a statement on the subject hi the course of the day; I hope that he will, because I want) the wool-growers to know what they are going to receive, so that they may put some of the money into the Peace Loan.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the mandate for the government of the Pacific Islands has yet been received ?
. -(By leave.) - I move -
That unless otherwise ordered the House shall meet on each Tuesday at 3 o’clock p.m., on each Wednesday at 2.30 p.m., on each Thursday at11 o’clock a.m., and on each Friday at 11 o’clock a.m.
The list of measures to be considered is lengthening, and we must increase the time available for their consideration.
– I object to the proposal to meet on Thursday morningsat 11 a.m., because it is too much to ask a member to sit in this chamber for practically twelve hours continuously. The Treasurer and I have seen the bodies of members carried from this building, and I believe that the long sittings of the past are the reason why so many men in parliamentary life have broken down. A member who takes his work seriously, as every member should, and attends conscientiously to his parliamentary duties, has to remain here for many hours at a stretch, and if we are required to come early on Thursdays, breakdowns will be more frequent in the future than they have been in the past. I say frankly that I do not intend to take as much upon myself as Ihave done.
Mr.Richard Foster. - You deserve a rest.
– I am going to take things more easily;because I do not wish to break down before my time. But I do not think that the long hours proposed for Thursday sittings are fair to members generally. Recently the Standing Orders were amended in such a way as to empower the Government to fix the time for the bringing of a measure to completion. When the alteration was proposed, it was said that there would be no all night sittings after it had been made. But there was anall night, sitting on the first occasion on which the new rule was brought into operation. Similarly to meet at 11 on Thursdays will not preventall night sittings.
.- I agree with the views ex-pressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). A large number of important measures await our attention, and if they are to be discussed intelligently, their examination will involve a considerable amount of time apart from the sittings of the House. We should have more time than we have for that purpose. I, therefore, intend to oppose the motion, in so far as it provides for the House meeting on Thursday mornings.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Control and Increase of Salaries
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Allocation to Tasmania: Increase of Price
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– This question should have been addressed to the Prime Minister ; but I have pleasure in giving the following reply: -
I shallendeavour to obtain the information asked for by the honorable member, and furnish him with a reply as soon as possible.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
If so. has it investigated the recent prospectus of anoil and cake mills in which it is stated -
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The scope of the War Precautions (Companies, Firms, and Businesses) Regulations under which the Commonwealth controlled the registration of companies formed for the purpose of carrying out operations in Australia was considerably reduced at the end of last year.
The control of the Commonwealth is now limited to firms and private and proprietary companies the membership of which does not consist wholly of natural-born British subjects; to foreign companies and firms; and to companies and firms partly or wholly formed with foreign capital or whose operations are to be carried on outside Australia.
– On the 19th August the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) asked me -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Cadet Clement George Huckell was sentenced to two terms of detention, viz., fourteen days and seven days respectively, for breaches of discipline, the sentences to be cumulative. The first term was served forthwith, and expired on 8th April, 1920. Instead of serving the additional term immediately, Huckell was not called upon until 13th August - through misinterpretation by the Area Officer of departmental instructions governing such cases - to undergo the further detention of seven days. This detention expired on 18th August, 1920.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 27th August, vide page 3957) :
Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 13 agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be added: - 3a. Section8 of the principal Act is amended -
by inserting after the word “orders” the words “ encourages, advises or incites”; and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “ (2.) For the purposes of this section an organization shall be deemed to have ordered, encouraged, advised or incited its members to refuse to offer or accept employment, if -
the Committee of Management of the organization has ordered, encouraged, advised or incited members of the organization to refuse to offer or accept employment; or
an officer or officers of the Committee of Management has or have ordered, encouraged, advised or incited members of the organization to refuse to offer or accept employment, unless the Court before which the proceedings are brought is satisfied that the Committee of Management was not cognisant of the matter”
Section 8 of the Act is as follows : -
Any organization of employers or employees which, for the purpose of enforcing compliance with the demands of any employers or employees, orders its members to refuse to offer or accept employment, shall be deemed tobe guilty of a lockout or strike, as the case may be.
It will be seen that to the word “ orders “ in the section I now move the addition of the words “ encourages, advises, or incites.”
.- This seems to be rather a far-reaching amendment as to the effect of which I am not quite sure. The section in the Act makes ample provision for dealing with organizations which are deemed to have committed an offence of the kind; and, altogether, the amendment appears to me rather an objectionable one. The Minister has given us no reason why this new clause is proposed, and I am afraid it might lead to a good deal of trouble. It is quite possible, in connexion with an industrial upheaval, or some anticipated trouble, that an officer may make certain remarks which do not represent the views of the organization with which he is connected, and, under the clause, the organization will be held responsible. It often happens in industrial troubles that a representative of the men takes a certain view, and. places it before the members, but it does not follow that the members agree with it or accept his advice.
The members of the association may hold quite a different view, and, under the circumstances, they ought not to be regarded as having committed a contravention of the Act. The section in the Act at present is sufficiently effective, and has hitherto worked satisfactorily; but now, for some reasons of which we have not been told, we are asked to make it more drastic. The Minister ought at least to show the grounds on which he proposes^ to make the change. This is a clause which may not prove acceptable to the bodies outside concerned in industrial arbitration, and no’ one can say what it may lead to. We are not told whether the suggestion for such a clause emanates from the Department or from some industrial bodies, and evidently it was an afterthought, for it was drawn up after the Bill had been drafted.
– It only proposes to make the law unmistakable.
– It is unmistakable now.
– The clause extends the law.
– Of course it does, and in extending it makes it more drastic; indeed, it is a. sort of drag-net, which may be applied in a way never intended. We cannot be expected to accept such an amendment without knowing what is the object or the reason for its proposal. It may have the effect of preventing any appeal to the Court at all, for if the Government go too far the industrial unions will have nothing to do with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
.- This clause has been proposed because of the practical working of the section in the original Act, which deals with an organization that “ orders “ its members to refuse to offer or accept employment. In any prosecution that takes place it has to be definitely proved that an organization gave such an order. I remind the Committee that at the instigation of honorable members opposite an amendment has been proposed providing that it is an offence for an employer to merely threaten to do a certain thing, and the clause now before us is an extension of somewhat the same principle. An organization which “ encourages, advises, or incites “ commits an offence just as much as an organization which “ orders “ its members to refuse to offer or accept work.
– Does this clause apply to persons?
– No, it deals only with organizations.
– Why does it not apply to ^persons ?
– We have dealt with persons in previous clauses. The section we are amending deals only with organizations qua organizations. It provides that if an organization orders its members to refuse to accept or offer employment it commits an offence. In practice it has been found difficult to prove that an organization ordered a certain course of action, but organizations which incite and encourage the doing of certain things are just as much responsible for creating industrial turmoil ns is an organization which actually orders the doing of those things. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has said that the officers will become liable. This does not make them liable. When an organization is registered its rules provide for a Committee of Management, and anything done by the committee should be binding on the organization. Provision is also made for the appointment of officers. An organization will be liable if an officer or officers of the Committee of Management has or have ordered, encouraged, advised, or incited members of the organization to refuse to offer or accept employment, unless the Court is satisfied that the Committee of Management was not cognisant of such actions by the officers. In short, if an officer is engaged in agitating, ordering, encouraging, or advising members to go on strike, and the Committee of Management knows what he is doing, and is taking no steps to restrain him, the organization is held responsible. That is reasonable. Otherwise, a Committee of Management might have paid officers all over the country engaged in inciting the men to a certain course of action, ‘but disclaim responsibility by saying “ These things were’ done by our officers.” If the committee were cognisant of the doing of those things, the organization should be held liable. An officer is the agent of, and is responsible to, the organization, which, therefore, is made liable for acts done with the cognisance of its managing body. The onus is thrown on the Committee of Management to show that they were not aware of the action of their officers. An organization might be charged with having incited certain members to refuse employment. If it were proved that the person who did the act was an officer of the organization, and that be did the acts alleged, the onus would then be on the Committee of Management to satisfy the Court that they were not cognisant of what the man had been doing.
– Prima fade, the Committee of Management is liable for the acts of its officers, but it is open to them to show that they were not aware of those acts.
– Yes. The Committee of Management ought to be cognisant of what their officers are doing, and if an officer is deliberately carrying out a policy contrary to that of the committee, they should deal with him.
– But if he is doing these things privately, without the cognisance of the committee?
– The committee can establish that fact in Court.
– This makes the whole committee responsible for the actions of one man.
– Certainly. The organization, through the committee, must be answerable for the actions of its officers of which they are cognisant.
.- I am not inclined to accept the amendment. It goes a long way further than was intended when we adopted the principle of arbitration. The Act at present only refers to the offence which an organization commits if it orders its members to do a certain thing. The Minister laid very little stress on the additional words he is proposing to insert, viz., “encourages, advises, or incites.” There is a vast difference between ordering a man to refrain from work and encouraging, advising, or inciting him to do so. An officer of an organization may give utterance to certain views which are not indorsed by the committee of the organization, but the organization is to be held liable.
– Unless the Committee of Management was not cognisant of what the officer was doing.
– I will state a case that occurs to me. Honorable members will remember that during the trouble in 1917, when the mines were held up be cause there were no engines running to convey the coal to port, it was claimed that the miners had taken sides in connexion with the dispute. I take the case of what occurred at the Richmond Main colliery, in which 200 or 300 men from the State of Victoria were employed. If when the difficulty was overcome, and the men who were out were asked to. go back to their places in the mine, although the Richmond Main mine was only one colliery connected with the industry, an officer of an association of miners had said to the men that be did not think it would be advisable for them to go back to the mine to work with the men who had been introduced from Victoria, the organization would be held responsible under the proposed amendment. I say as a practical man that it would not be advisable for the men to go back to the mine to work with other men who had not been accustomed to work in gaseous mines, and thus take the risk of losing their lives because of the employment in the mine of inexperienced labour. When there is a strike on we are often carried away by our feelings, and these things are not reasoned out as they should be. If any prominent officer of a miners’ organization took up the attitude which I have suggested as justifiable, and said that in the circumstances he thought members of the organization, if they desired to protect their lives, should not go back to the mine to work with inexperienced men, the organization, under the new clause proposed by the Minister, might be charged with encouraging or inciting the men to do certain things.
– The, Committee of Management would not be liable on those facts, because the officer to whom the honorable member refers would be acting on his own.
– Suppose the Committee of Management of the organization took up the same attitude. I do not hesitate to say that if I were a member of the Committee of Management that is the attitude I would take up, because any inexperienced man working in a gaseous mine might strike a match, and the result might be another Mount Kembla disaster. I am reminded by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) that in some cases it may be 2 miles from the mouth of the mine to the face at which men are working, and in the event of an explosion of gas there is little hope that the men would be able to get out. If in the circumstances I have mentioned the Committee of Management of an organization told the members of the organization that they did not think it would be wise for them to go back to their work, it might be claimed, under the proposed new clause, that the organization was guilty of doing something in the nature of a strike. In the case to which I have referred the owner of the mine and the State Government of Victoria were acting together, because it has since been proved that the owner asked the Victorian Government to put men from this State into the mine. The men employed in connexion with nine out of ten sections in an industry may be working, and because for some good reason those employed in one section refuse to work, and the officers of their organization advise them not to do so, it might be claimed that that is inciting the men to do a certain thing, and the organization might be held liable for the penalty under the new clause. I cannot accept that. I think that there is quite sufficient power in section 8 of the existing Act to enable us to deal with lockouts andstrikes.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) stands upon solid ground in opposing the proposed new clause. Under the new clause an offence, which is a very serious offence, if one may judge from the penalties attached to it, is extended, and the class of persons proposed to be reached is also extended. When we refer to the original Act, to which reference has already been made, we find that it is provided that -
An organization of employers or employees which for the purpose of enforcing compliance with the demands of any employers or employees orders its members to refuse to offer or accept employment shall be deemed to be guilty of a lockout or strike, as the case may he.
In the proposed new clause, taking my first objection to it, I find that the word “ orders “ in the section I have quoted has been extended to include “ encourages, advises, or incites.” Advising one to do a thing may, I suppose, be rightly classed to be a direction to do it, and a person who directs another to do athing may well be held responsible. But when we consider the meaning of the words “ encourages “ and “ incites,” we get immediately into the realm of uncertainty, and we might easily find that persons or organizations would be held to be guilty of the offence with which the proposed new clause deals, by the use of language or of conduct which might certainly not be intended to give rise to an offence, and might be nothing more than a legitimate expression of candid opinion, upon, perhaps, a very difficult problem.I do not propose to support the extension of the offence in that way at all. These words are far too vague and general. Where such heavy penalties are attached to a so-called offence, the language used is much too indefinite.
When we come next to the class of persons to be reached, and this, perhaps, is a more important part of the proposed new clause, we find it stated that -
For the purposes of this section, an organization shall be deemed to have ordered, encouraged, advised, or incited its members to refuse to offer oraccept employment if -
the Committee of Management of the organization has ordered, encouraged, incited, or advised members of the organization to refuse to offer or accept employment; or
an officer or officers of the Committee of Management has or have ordered, encouraged, advised, or incited members of the organization to refuse to offer or accept employment - and then follows the saving clause. That is a very important departure from the principal Act, because here it is proposed to make men liable for offences committed by some other person. The whole organization is to become liable to these extremely heavy penalties by reason of the fact that the Committee of Management has incited members of it to do certain things. The Minister himself has pointed out that the whole spirit of this legislation is to deal with organized bodies. The original Act provides for the very severe and drastic punishment of an organization. What is proposed here is a penalty for what might be called a quasi-criminal offence, and to make the whole of an organisation, and therefore every member of it, liable for something which the Committee of Management does is, to my mind, most unjust. It is unjust in the light of the fact that language which is considered to be merely an incitement or encouragement renders the person who uses it subject to very severe penalties. There seems an element of clear vindictiveness in this extension of the clause to the persons to whom it is intended to apply. If we are dealing with organizations, let us convict the organizations, and if we are dealing with persons, let us convict the persons. I do not applaud the legislation at all, because we should not make men subject to penalties who are thought to have committed offences unconsciously through their agents. A Committee of Management is set up, and because of some resolutions which the Government think ill-considered or unwise, every member of the organization, and the organization itself, may become liable, and extremely heavy penalties can be inflicted.
– It would make an organization careful in selecting a Committee of Management.
– I agree that, as far as terrorizing organizations are concerned, it may be effective, and as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) suggests, it may make them more careful. In our daily life,penalties are easily incurred, and people are careful, but if they are afraid of some transgression in carrying out their daily avocations because the law makes them so, it does not follow that the law is a good one. I think that the principle is bad, because it makes a man responsible in a quasi-criminal way for the acts of others. The language is dangerous in character, and it seems to me that the clause is intended to apply to persons in the community who are ordinarily supposed to be in opposition to the present Government. I oppose the proposed new clause.
Question - That the proposed new clause be added - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 14. Section 40a of the principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (b) the word ‘specified,’ (second occurring).”
The section proposed to be amended reads -
The Court . . . may . . . -
assign to the Board ofReference the function of allowing, approving, fixing, determining, or dealing with in the manner and subject to the conditions specified in the award or order, any specified matters or things which under the award or order may require from time to time to be allowed, approved, fixed, determined, or dealt with by the Board.
The word “ specified,” where it is employed for the second time, has been found to create a technical difficulty, for the reason that a question may arise over a matter not specified in the assignment of functions to the Board of Reference. It is impossible to foresee, when a Board of Reference is being appointed, all the matters which will arise under the award and which should be dealt with by the Board. The. purpose of the omission of the word “ specified,” therefore, is that the Board of Reference shall have wider functions, and that it shall not be necessary, when appointing a Board of Reference, to specify all the matters and things with which it may deal.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 15. Section 41 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the words ‘ or article ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘articles, book, or document ‘.”
Under section 41 the Court has power to order inspection of premises, and the person authorized may “ inspect and view any work, material, machinery, appliances, or article therein.” It is now proposed to leave out the word “article,” and to insert instead “ articles, book, or document.” It has been found in operation that the section, as it stands, affords too narrow a scope of inspection. This will possibly meet the suggestion made by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell).
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 16. Section 44 of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (2.) thereof the following paragraph: - or(d) any party to the award or order’.”
The section sets out, with respect to the enforcement of orders and awards, the parties entitled to sue for the imposition and recovery of penalties. At present, the Registrar, or any organization affected, or whose members, or any of them, are affected, or any member of any organization who is affected by a breach or non-observance of an award, is entitled to sue for the recovery of penalties. It is now proposed to give similar power to “ any party to the award or order.”
Amendment (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to-
That the proposed new clause be amended by adding the words: - “or(c) any officer of the organization authorized under its rules to sue on behalf of the organization “.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 17. Section 48 of the principal Act is amended -
Prior to its amendment in 1918, the Act provided that the Court might make an order in the nature of a mandamus or injunction to compel compliance with, the award, or to restrain its breach under pain of fine or imprisonment; and it provided, further, that no person to whom such order applied should be guilty of any contravention of the award by act or omission. At present, there is power to enjoin persons from committing breaches of an award, but, at, the same time, there is no power to prevent them from committing breaches of the Act.
– There is no power to enable the Court to impose penalties for breaches of awards.
– Penalties can be sued for. There are proper Courts constituted for that purpose.
– If we had the constitutional power, this would be the proper Court.
– The principal Act was amended in 1918 by the omission from section 48 of the word “ Court,” and by the insertion, in its stead, of the words “ a County Court, a District Court, or a Local Court.” Therefore, the Court which has the power to issue orders to enjoin is one of those Courts. It has been found, in the operation of the Act, that it is advisable to have the power now asked for. There should be power to bring either employers or employed before a Court, wherein to obtain an order enjoining them from continuing in contravention of the Act.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “18. After section 91 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - “91a. (1.) For the purposes of this Act the treasurer of a club shall be deemed to be the employer, of any person employed for the purposes or on behalf of the club, and any proceedings which under this Act may be taken by or against the club may be taken by or against the treasurer on behalf of the club. (2.) The treasurer is authorized to retain out of the funds of the club so much money as is sufficient to meet any payments made by him on behalf of the club in pursuance of this section. (3.) In this section ‘the treasurer’ includes any person having possession or control of any funds of the club.”
This amendment is really consequential upon one moved earlier in the Bill. There was doubt whether a club was an employer, and Mr. Justice Higgins held that, owing to the technical difficulty of definition, a club could not be held to be an employer within the meaning of the Act.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– At the present time if any doubt or difficulty arises in connexion with an award, the Court has no power to interpret that award. We desire that in case of doubt as to the meaning of any clause or clauses of an award the Court may have power to interpret it.
– To say exactly what it means.
– Yes. Some expression in an award may be ambiguous. In any ease, it is to the interest of all parties concerned that the interpretation of an award shall be as easy and as expeditious as possible. I therefore move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 12a. Section 38 of the principal Act is amended by inserting at the end of paragraph (c) thereof the words’and to give an interpretation of any term of an existing award;’”.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I desire at this stage to give notice of an amendment of an important character, copies of which will be circulated later. At present the Court entertains an industrial matter, hears the evidence, and gives a determination; but we are making provision for the appointment of a number of Deputies. I propose to amend section 11 so that it shall read -
There shall be a Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration …. and shall consist of a President and” such Deputy Presidents as are appointed in pursuance of this Act.
I also propose to move the insertion of the following new clause: - 6a. After section 18 of the principal Act the following section is inserted in Division 2 of Part III.:- “ 18a. - (1.) Subject to this Act the jurisdiction of the Court may be exercised by the President or a Deputy President. “ (2.) The President or a Deputy President may, in any case in which he thinks it desirable so to do, invite one or more Deputy Presidents to sit with him. “ (3.) Where the Court is constituted of the President and one or more Deputy Presidents, or of two or more Deputy Presidents, and the members of the Court are divided in opinion on any question relating to the prevention or settlement of an industrial dispute, the question shall be decided according to the decision of the majority, if there is a majority, but if the members of the Court are equally divided in opinion the question shall be decided according to the opinion of the President, or, in his absence, according to the opinion of the Senior Deputy President. “(4.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act. the Court shall not have jurisdiction to makean award -
My amendment relates to awards to determine the number of hours which may be worked in any industry. The State Parliaments have power to fix hours of employment, but this Parliament has not that power, though in the settling of an industrial dispute the Courts may determine what shall be the hours of labour.
– Is not that directed at an inquiry that is now proceeding?
– It is intended that a matter of such importance as the fixing of the hours of labour, which cannot be dealt with by. this Legislature directly, or ought not to be so dealt with, shall be heard, investigated, and approved by two out of three Judges.
– Then there must be two Deputy Presidents.
– At least two Deputy Presidents, who, as the law now stands, must be members of the High Court or of a State Supreme Court.
.- I move on behalf of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), who is unavoidably absent -
That the following new clause be added: - “4a. Section 11 of the principal Act is amended by inserting at the end of the section the words’ And two assessors to be appointed by the respective parties to the dispute.’ “
The object of the amendment is to permit the parties to a dispute to appoint representatives to act with the Judge, and to advise him on matters pertaining to the industry. In connexion with the hearing of disputes many terms are used which it is difficult even for a Judge to understand, and these experts would assist him to grip the position and to come to a more satisfactory decision. This is no new thing in arbitration-
– Is it suggested that they shall act purely in an advisory capacity, or will they take part in the determination ?
– The honorable member for South Sydney himself said that they would take part in the determination.
– This is not a new proposal. The first Conciliation and Arbitration Act passed in New South Wales, and known as Mr. B. R. Wise’s Act of 1901 provided -
The two members of the Court shall be appointed by the Governor - one from among the persons recommended in the manner and subject to the conditions prescribed in Schedule 2 by a body of delegates from industrial unions of employers, and the other from among the persons recommended as aforesaid by a body of delegates from industrial unions of employees; but, if any such body fails to make such recommendation, the Governor may appoint such person as he thinks fit.
The honorable member for South Sydney is really anxious that a similar provision should be inserted in this Bill, believing that it would facilitate the work of the Court. I think it would be of considerable advantage.
– Does the honorable member desire that different assessors shall be appointed for each dispute, or that two assessors shall be permanently appointed? The Western Australian practice is for the employers to appoint one assessor, and the employees to appoint another, and they constitute the Court.
– I do not know whether permanent appointments would be in conformity with the Act.
– No, it would alter the scheme of the Act.
– That being so, we have to make provision that assessors may be appointed to deal with each particular dispute. The amendment is reasonable, and I hopeit will receive favorable consideration.
– I ask the honorable member not to press the amendment. If it were carried, section 11 of the principal Act would read -
There shall be a Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration which shall be a Court of Record, and shall consist of a President and two assessors to be appointed by the respective parties to the dispute.
It will thus be seen that under this amendment the assessors would be incorporated as part of the Court itself. Instead of providing that assessors shall be called in to deal with any particular dispute, the amendment would make them a component part of the Court.
– Section 35 gives all that power.
– I was about to mention that section 35 provides that -
The Court shall on the application of any original party to an industrial dispute, and may without such application at any stage of the dispute, appoint two assessors for the purpose of advising it in relation to the dispute, and the assessors shall discharge such duties as are directed by the Court, or as are prescribed.
Thus both the President of the Court and the parties to a dispute have power under the Act to secure the appointment of assessors to advise the Court.
– Does this amendment propose to give the assessors equal powers with the presiding Judge in arriving at the decision of the Court?
– It would make them part of the Court itself, so that every reference in the Act to ‘ ‘ the Court” would mean a Court constituted of a Judge and two assessors. That is a fatal objection. I think it would assist the Court to have two assessors, but that is a matter for the Judge himself to determine, in connexion with any dispute before him. The Government have announced on several occasions that the Act in its entirety is to be reviewed at a later stage.
– That was promised two years ago.
– Quite so, but we have not had all the industrial powers we desire. A Bill to amend the principal Act is not only a hardy annual, but a promising one.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 14. Section 27 of the principal Act is repealed and the following inserted in its stead : - ( 1. ) On the hearing or determination of an industrial dispute an organization may be represented by a member or officer of any organization, and any party not being an organization may be represented by an employee of that party. (2.) No legal practitioner, whether on the rolls or not, or solicitor’s clerk, shall be allowed to appear before the Court, be heard, or attend the Court, in any hearing or determination of an industrial dispute.’ “
I hope that my amendment will meet with a better reception than that accorded the amendment with which we have just dealt. In order that my position may not be misunderstood by my legal friends, let me say that, as a ‘member of the State Parliament of South Australia, I availed myself of every opportunity to move to exclude members of the legal profession from the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I recognise that in my proposed new clause I am making a most serious attack upon the strongest and most powerful trade union in the world. If it were carried, and resulted in a number of legal gentlemen being thrown out of work, I should be glad to assist the Government in establishing a bureau to find work for unemployed solicitors. I do not anticipate, however, that the exclusion of the legal profession from the Court would have that effect. We may trust the lawyers to look after themselves, and always to be able to earn a crust. I submit this amendment, in the first place, because I believe it essential to divest the Arbitration Court of any suggestion of the legal element. If I had my own way, even the President of the Court would not be a legal gentleman. My experience convinces me that the heavy expenses involved in approaching the Court constitute one of the gravest causes of dissatisfaction with the Court on the part of a great many of our trade unionists. Trade unions have made repeated efforts to reap the benefit of our industrial legislation. I remember one case in South Australia where the employees of the Tramway Trust attempted to register under the Act. A number of legal gentlemen appeared in the case; the application for registration was refused, and the asso ciation had to pay over £400 in respect of legal and other expenses. That is the sort of thing that creates among trade organizations a distrust of industrial legislation. Trade unionists are advised that the cheapest and most common-sense way of settling a dispute is to appeal to the Court. If they take that advice, with the result, which so often happens, that not only the accumulated funds of their organization are eaten up, but a special levy is made to provide for legal and other expenses, a sense of injustice is created, and an absolute distrust of industrial arbitration follows. In this way, their minds are prepared for the suggestion, which might be put to them very logically, that a lightning strike would at least cost no more than would an appeal to the Court, and that it might give them a better chance of securing a speedy verdict. Trade unions in South Australia are making levies every week to meet the legal expenses associated with an application to the Court, which involved the settlement of a question of interest to quite a number of unions. With all due respect to my legal friends, I find that lawyers appearing in the Court cannot refrain from putting before it the purely legal aspect of a dispute.
– Is that not necessary?
-No. If arbitration means anything, it means the coming together of the parties directly concerned, and the stating of their case by themselves, so that a settlement may be secured without reference to the dry and musty records of decisions given perhaps before we were born. In my experience I have known an Arbitration Court case argued for four or five days; and for this, I contend, there is no need; the simpler, easier and cheaper we make the administration of our arbitration laws the better for all concerned. I know that the Minister will say that section 27 of the Act really meets the position, because it leaves the appearance of legal gentlemen to thedecision of the parties concerned. That section provides that on the hearing and determination of any industrial dispute an organization may be represented by a member or officer, and any party not being an organization may be represented by an employer, but no party shall except by the consent of all parties be represented by counsel, solicitor or paid agent. There was a slight amendment made in that section in 1910, but it does not materially affect the principle laid down. Doubtless the Minister will contend that my proposal is unnecessary, because the matter is in the hands of the parties, but, despite that section, legal gentlemen do appear. Western Australia is the only place I know of where, under the conciliation and arbitration laws, legal representatives are absolutely excluded.
– They cannot appear in the Commonwealth Court except with the consent of all concerned.
– That is true, but, still, the legal men get there; the members of the legal profession have a happy knack of getting to any place where there are fees to be earned. I am not so much concerned about the employers, who are very well able to look after themselves, but the employment of legal practitioners involves the workers in considerable expense. Men whose wages are not too high are called upon to find the means of protecting their interests, and to pay special levies for the purpose of meeting legal expenses. It is true that no legal men can appear if any of the parties object, but the circumstances are such that the men are given the idea that they get a better “ deal “ if they are employed. Even under the section of the Act the employers cannot be prevented from having the advice and assistance of legal gentlemen. In cases in which it is decided there shall be no legal men, it is true that no lawyer stands up and pleads openly, but a lawyer may sit immediately behind the representative of the employers, and every action and question in a particular case I remember was but an echo of the legal mind. That was in a case in which I was directly interested, and in which, in my simplicity, I thought the parties alone would fight the matter out. That sort of thing creates amongst the unionists a feeling of unrest, and they determine, in many cases, to have a lawyer, involving, as I say, considerable expense. In my opinion the wisest thing to do would be to insert a clause which would not allow the Judge to sit in any place that even looked like a Court. The moment the parties get into a place with a legal atmosphere a feeling of antagonism is raised between the parties, whereas a gathering, consisting entirely of - laymen directly interested, would prove a cheaper and better method of settlement. I have made it very clear in the clause I propose that no legal representative shall be allowed to sit behind the chair of the representative of either employer or employee. I tell honorable members quite frankly that the clause aims at the exclusion from the Court of all legal practitioners while, a case is on, for, otherwise, the lawyers cannot be prevented from giving their advice and assistance, with the effects I have indicated. That particular portion of my amendment is copied from Western Australian legislation, and represents a step towards the ideal of a gathering of laymen directly interested. I look to the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to vote with me on this occasion, because, on looking up the records, I find that when, that gentleman was a member of the” New South Wales Parliament, and an Arbitration Bill was before the House, he moved to the effect that no person connected with the legal profession should be allowed to be even the Judge in an Arbitration Court. That, of course, goes a good deal further than I propose; but I think I can look for the honorable gentleman’s support. There is another phase which I might incidentally mention, and of which I ask the Minister to take note. A few days ago representatives of a particular calling were summoned by the Court from all over Australia to appear at the hearing of a case. In South Australia the union concerned was put to an expense of over £20 in order to send the secretary and representatives, and the employers also had to find a good deal of money to cover their expenses. The Committee will agree that it is a scandal that all these representatives and witnesses should be called together from all parts of the country, and, in ten minutes, told that they could go home again. I do not blame the legal profession for what took place on that occasion, and merely mention it incidentally, with a hope that the Minister will see that such a thing does not occur again. The clause I propose will result in great saving to the employees, and eventually be the means of making both parties recognise that it is better for them to settle their own disputes without the intervention of the legal profession.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister for Works and Railways [4.50]. - I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment, and I do so in the interests of the litigants in the Arbitration Court. The first part of the proposed new clause is now the law, and no party, except with the consent of all parties, may be represented by counsel, solicitor, or paid agent. If all parties desire to be represented by the legal profession, why should they not have the right to be so represented ? The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) proposes that the parties shall be deprived of legal assistance, even if they wish to have it.
– He takes the view that industrialists are not compos mentis - that they “ do not know their job.”
– I think they “know their job “ pretty well. The peculiar point is that, while it is proposed to exclude lawyers, a number of men are permitted to appear who are just as keen as any lawyer in raising objections and prolonging cases by calling witnesses. I do not say that these men cause delays wilfully, but they have not the same knowledge or appreciation of the relevancy of evidence that legal practitioners have. Giving my own individual opinion. I think it was a mistake to prevent the Court from having the advantage of the assistance of counsel if desired. Lawyers, by their training and experience, have a knowledge of what is relevant and what is not relevant, and their employment would shorten the proceedings, more clearly define the questions to be decided, and, on the whole, make the administration much better. However, Parliament has taken a contrary view, and it is not now proposed to reverse it. In the interests of the parties concerned, however, I ask the Committee to retain the provision that by the consent of all parties counsel may appear. In cases where employers or employees are not trained advocates, and are devoid of experience, why should they not have assistance? Such men, we know, have not always the requisite ability to put cases clearly and concisely, and it would be monstrous to prevent an employer or any organization which felt itself deficient in this regard from obtaining the best assistance possible. To prevent them from employing legal representatives places such organizations at a disadvantage, and, even now, they cannot have them unless all parties consent.
The honorable member for Adelaide speaks of the great expense entailed by the employment of lawyers, but if he analyzes the balance-sheets he will find that all the money is not spent in that direction, but is mostly required for the payment of witnesses, and of persons moving about to obtain evidence. The honorable member for Hindmarsh mentioned a few days ago a heavy legal bill, the bulk of which, I understand, was represented by witnesses’ fees. Even the costs of an ordinary common law action often consist mostly of Court fees, and witnesses’ fees ; the remuneration for the profession often is relatively small. It would be very unjust to pass the amendment, and to prevent either party from getting, with mutual consent, the legal assistance it desires.
.- I support the amendment, and am prepared to go very much farther in advocating simplicity of language in Acts of Parliament, particularly in industrial legislation. The language of industrial legislation should be such as to be readily understood by any layman, and, if possible, I would have a lay Court from which the legal fraternity were excluded entirely. That would be a wholesale, but wholesome reform.
– The honorable member’s party gets good legal men, does it not?
– This country would be better without any legal gentlemen at all. One may take an Act of Parliament to half-a-dozen lawyers, and get halfadozen different opinions as to its meaning. As a rule, an ordinary individual can understand a newspaper paragraph. Why should we not have the same simplicity and clarity of language in our Acts of Parliament? Legal argument as to the meaning of Statutes has wasted more time and money than has anything else. Any opportunity I can get to limit the opportunities of the legal profession I shall fake. There are comparatively few lawyers in the ranks of the Labour party, but, in any case, I would sooner have a man like the late Mr. Frank Hyett appearing for me in an industrial case than any legal man in the community. Mr. Smith, the present secretary of the Victorian Railways Union, and Mr. E. J.
Holloway, are able to present an industrial case to the Court in a way that wins the appreciation of the presiding Judge. Over and over again, Mr. Justice Higgins, who was an equity lawyer before his elevation to the bench, has complimented officers of unions upon the manner in which they have presented their case to the Court. Unionists will lose nothing by being represented by men of their own organization, who understand all the technicalities of their industry.
– Nobody says a word against those gentlemen, but is there any reason for depriving other persons, who cannot put their case, of the assistance they desire?
Mr.FENTON. - Neither employers nor employees are in such a bad case. We have arrived at a stage when we can say good-bye to a lawyer at his office, and enter the Court without him. The Committee should grasp the opportunity of introducing the reform which the amendment suggests. The majority of honorable members do not belong to the legal profession, and for that reason they bring to bear on the businessof the House a greater amount of common sense.
.- At first sight, I was inclined to support the amendment, so that lawyers should be excluded from the Courts entirely, but I find that’ the section provides that neither party shall be represented by counsel, except with the consent of the other party. To such a provision, what exception can be taken ? Surely the parties know their own business better than we do. We provide a Court, and say that the lawyer shall not enter it unless both parties are agreeable. Surely that is all we need do. If the employees desire the assistance of a lawyer, and the employers are agreeable to the appearance of counsel, the matter is one entirely for them to decide. It would be unjust for us to interfere. Therefore I must vote against the amendment.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment, for it is in conformity with my policy for the last twenty years. In my action against Sir Malcolm McEacharn, I had one experience of receiving legal advice that should not have been followed. Owing to legal technicalities, the Court officials would not accept my money, and I arranged with my solicitor that I would tender the money personally, if need be, planking it down on the counter and telling the official to go to Hades. Just as Gronlund, in hisCo-operative Commonwealth, referred to Switzerland as an example of the efficacy of the referendum, initiative and recall, so he referred to Denmark for an illustration of simplicity in law. Many years ago, when Mr. Justice Higgins, as a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, secured the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the simplification of the law, I introduced to him a Danish gentleman, who gave valuable evidence as to the procedure in Denmark. Briefly, it is this : If citizen A wishes to sue citizen B, he cannot do it directly, as is allowed under the laws of most other countries. He must first appear before a magistrate, a pacificator, who is sworn to make peace between citizen and citizen. The parties may meet before him at a table, and smoke and chat. Citizen A may claim £20 from citizen B; the latter says he owes only £15. The pacificator says he thinks B is in the right, and advises A to accept the offer of £15. If A refuses, he pays about1s. 3d. for a process of law, and he and B appear before the pacificator in his magisterial capacity. The parties may call witnesses, but no lawyersmay appear in the court. The magistrate writes down his decision, and the reason upon which it is based; obviously, it generally follows the suggestion he made at the informal conference. If the unsuccessful litigant is still dissatisfied, he carries the case to a higher court, in which both parties can be represented by counsel. But no fresh evidence can be adduced, and the lawyer can only argue on the written decision of the magistrate. In my opinion, and that of Gronlund,the legal system of Denmark is the simplest in the world. I have in my possession a document which to me is worth more than its weight in diamonds. A Mr. Christisen, who had been a police official in Australia for some years, and whose father had been the greatest medal maker in the world, succeeded to his father’s estate, and went to Denmark to wind it up. Against his own inclination, he was persuaded by his solicitor to go to law. The letter I hold in my possession was sent to Mr. Christisen by his solicitor, and stated that the High Court of Den mark had penalized him with costs, but after consultation with his colleague, he had decided to pay all the costs, so that Mr. Christisen would be involved in no expense whatever. Mr. Christisen explained to me that as the High Court had held the advice of the solicitors to be wrong, they, as honorable men, had decided to pay the costs. When I tell honorable members that the writer of that letter three years later became Attorney-General of Denmark, they will recognise that he was a light in his profession. Whilst I loathe and detest the legal profession, there are many men amongst it whom I love and esteem, and I often find that my friendly feelings towards them are in conflict with my conscience. I was speaking recently with one of the few religious men whom I call friends, and, using a concordance to the Bible, he convinced me that all I might say of lawyers would be mild in comparison with what the good Old Book says of them. If any honorable member who desires material with which to slate the legal profession, I refer him to the Bible’. The legal profession has too much power. If I were only one of two of the same mind, I should vote for the amendment. Two Judges of the Supreme Court and another Judge have said that the law should be altered to enable that unfortunate man, the Reverend Mr. Ronald, to secure justice; and we cannot get it done, in spite of the fact that, in Mr. Ronald’s case, every witness for the plaintiff, with the exception of Sir George Fuller, who is now a member of the New South Wales Parliament, was sentenced for perjury and conspiracy. How can any one respect the law when such things as that can occur? One cannot blame the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) for standing up for his crowd; but I may mention that the great Sumner, one of the greatest jurists that America ever produced, said that for the betrayal of a cause or a country you have not far to go; you can find one ready-made in any lawyer you meet. If the Committee will not agree to the amendment, I hope still to live to have an opportunity of voting for a similar amendment on a later occasion.
.- If the proposal of the honorable member for Adelaide were directed to reducing in some way the emoluments or earnings of the members of the legal profession who are interested in industrial work, and if it were likely to have that effect, I should have contented myself by taking no part in the discussion, and enjoying a pleasant half-hour in the club-room while it was in progress. But there is an aspect of the amendment which moves me to say something, and to make quite clear why I am opposed to it. It has already been pointed out that, as the result of some amendments of the Arbitration Act, it is no longer possible for a party to arbitration proceedings to be represented by a legal practitioner unless all parties to those proceedings consent. It is not enough that an organization may desire to be represented in the Court by a legal representative, because the opposing parties may veto that desire by declaring that they do not consent. An organization of employers or an organization of employees might desire to exercise what, in other Courts, would be the right to be represented by counsel, but they may be prevented by this very drastic provision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act from being so represented in the Arbitration Court, which requires the consent of all parties to proceedings before counsel may appear in the Court. The honorable member for Adelaide finds that, spite of this very strict legal enactment, there is an extraordinary and incorrigible tendency on the part of some industrialists in this country to seek legal advice and assistance.
– The honorable member asks me why. Surely it must be for the pleasure of paying the lawyers, or the joy they derive from association with them. It cannot be, one may suppose, that as sane men exercising their free will, they desire to avail themselves of the expert knowledge of experienced men in presenting their evidence or their case.
– Might it not be because the unionists know that sitting behind the employer is a trained lawyer, advising him, even though he does not appear in Court, and, as a consequence, both sides are represented by lawyers?
– That might be the reason, to some extent. It might be that the industrialists know perfectly well that the employers, whoever they may be, though they are in Court apparently without legal assistance, have, in fact, the benefit of legal advice. But how does the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) propose to overcome that difficulty? He proposes that-
No legal practitioner, whether on the rolls or not, or solicitor’s clerk-
Honorable members will mark that - shall be allowed to appear before the Court or to attend the Court in any hearing or determination’ of an industrial dispute. 1 venture to say, with great respect, that a more ridiculous proposition was never submitted to a sane Parliament, if the proposed amendment be clearly understood in all its bearings. If it is to be logical, and certainly if it is to have any effect in the direction the honorable member expects, his amendment should go much further, and I would suggest to some extent how much further it should go. It should read -
No legal practitioner, whether on the rolls or not, or solicitor’s clerk shall be allowed to appear before the Court, to be heard, to attend the Court, or to be seen anywhere within the hearing of the Court, or in the right-of-way leading to or in proximity to the Court, or in the neighbouring hostelry within the hours that the same is open for the sale of liquor; and no industrialist shall be found in suspicious conversation with a legally qualified legal practitioner or his clerk or his typist, male or female, either in his office or elsewhere wheresoever.
– Is the honorable member proposing a new clause?
– No, sir; I am merely suggesting that in’ order that the amendment should be effective for the purpose desired by the honorable member who has moved it, it should be drafted upon lines similar to those I have indicated. If the honorable member reflects for a moment on the effect of his amendment, I cannot understand him seriously pressing it in its present form. If the industrialists, the workers, are so intent u]50n seeking legal advice in connexion with the presentation and” argument of their cases that the honorable member thinks, it necessary to exercise coercion upon them to the event of preventing any one suspected ‘ of legal knowledge going into a Court where an ordinary member of the public may go, I do not agree with him. I am specially addressing myself to the coercion of industrialists involved in the amendment. It would appear that the honorable member regards the workers of this country as so many fools, who cannot resist the temptation to take the advice of a legal practitioner if they have any case to present to a Court. If that be so, the honorable member must go further and prevent, under penalties, those men going to the offices or places at which they would be likely to get advice from legal practitioners. If the prohibition is to operate, it must be carried out in its entirety; otherwise it will be utterly ineffectual. ‘
Considering the amendment professionally or personally, I have not the very faintest interest in it or anxiety that it will affect lawyers in the slightest degree. I am not worrying about that. If I seriously thought that it could have an effect of that kind, I would not have addressed myself to it at all, lest it might he suggested that I am in some way personally interested in the matter, which I am not in the very- least. “What makes me speak about it - and I think I ought to speak - is that it is an absolute affront to the intelligence of the men who come to the Arbitration Court to suggest that they are dependent on the honorable member for Adelaide or any other honorable member for his wise legislation preventing them from exercising their own discretion as to whom they will consult and when they will consult him in matters of this kind.
– That is too thin.
– The honorable member need not interject. He said a moment ago that although he loathed and detested the legal profession, there are many members of it for whom he has a great admiration and esteem.
– Worse luck, the honorable member is one of them!
– I could not, in the face of that compliment, say what I intended to say. It is because of the absurd attempt- to coerce the deliberate judgment of the industrialists - since it is for them I usually speak, and in them I have a particular interest - involved in the amendment, that I am absolutely opposed to it. For that reason I feel it my duty to protest against it. Speaking as one who has had some little experience, I may say that although the members of the legal profession are excluded, except with common consent of all. the parties, from appearing before a Judge of the Arbitration” Court - a matter about which they make no complaint so far as I know; at all events, I do not make any at present - the truth is that organizations, in preparing their cases and collating the ‘ evidence in regard to them, exercise the judgment and common sense that wise men, or ordinary, normal men in other walks of life, exercise, availing themselves of the best information they can get for the purpose of expeditiously and wisely putting their cases before the Court. It is for that very obvious and natural reason that the law excluding the legal profession from the Arbitration Court has been largely ineffectual. For that reason, as the honorable member himself indicates, it happens that it will very often be found that a solicitor or solicitor’s clerk is, at the earnest request and solicitation of the secretary of a union or the man acting for a union, seated behind him in Court helping him with his case. Nothing that the honorable member can do short of the absolute penalties such as those I have mentioned will prevent men from availing themselves of the advice and assistance of legal practitioners. I’ do not desire to go into the value of industrial work to the ordinary practitioner, or to the extent to which it is onerous, exacting, and sometimes unpleasant, because I do not want to be placed in the position of appearing to defend my own profession in this matter. I am opposed to the amendment because of its inherent absurdity and injustice, not to the legal profession, hut to the unionists, and because it seeks to correct the judgment of men who are just as well able to think for themselves as is the ‘honorable member for Adelaide. I know the prejudices that exist against the profession, and which arise very often from the fact that long, intricate and expensive arguments sometimes take place in Court as to the meaning of terms incautiously drawn by laymen who say what they mean and afterwards employ lawyers to find out what they mean, and as to the interpretation of Acts of Parliament, which we in our wisdom, and sometimes in our comparative lack of wisdom, may pass. That position is not affected by the particular proposal of the honor able member for Adelaide. I am opposed to it because it prevents men from exercising discretion and free and independent judgment without coercion. It seeks to* deprive them in a purely futile way of their right to decide for themselves as to what advice or assistance they shall have, expert or inexpert, or whether they will have any at all. The law went far enough - I am not prepared to express an opinion as to whether it is wise or not’ - when it provided that industrialists shall not be at a disadvantage when appearing before a Judge ‘by reason of the fact that the employers with their greater reserves have the assistance of counsel. But the honorable member for Adelaide goes further when he says that a legal practitioner, whether on the rolls or not, or a solicitor’s clerk, shall not be allowed to appear before the Court, or be seen in the Court. The honorable member for Adelaide is reducing the proposal to an absurdity, and suggesting that intelligent men who take their case to the Court are so many dupes and fools because they sometimes seek the advice and assistance of expert men in connexion with the presentation of their case and the effect and method of collation of evidence. I oppose the proposed new clause, even at the risk of appearing selfinterested, which I am not.
– I quite realize that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is not opposing the proposed new clause merely because he is a member of the legal profession. The honorable member is in error in saying that the amendment has been brought forward without an expression of opinion from trade unionists, because I have moved the amendment at the request of the trade unionists. If the amendment is absurd and foolish, as the honorable member suggests, then those who have requested me to have it inserted must be foolish and absurd. This “ absurd “ clause is a copy of the legislation which was passed in “Western Australia by the Labour party when in office, and my amendment has not been moved merely because a request has been made by trade unionists, because if the honorable member peruses the policy of the South Australian Labour party he will find that that party favours the absolute exclusion of legal practitioners from the
Arbitration Court. The honorable member knows that when both parties appearing in a ease before the industrial Court are opposed to the appearance of legal practitioners, legal representatives are in the Court and sit directly behind the employers’ representative, and actually speak to the Court through their representative. Legal gentlemen thus appearing do not do it for amusement, but because they are paid, and when they occupy a seat behind the employers’ representative they conduct the case in just the same way as if they were sitting at the table. Some years ago, when a petition was lodged to upset a Senate election, an incident occur ed which will illustrate my point. Under the electoral code it is clearly and distinctly provided that no legal practitioner shall appear in an appeal case without the consent of both parties. In the case to which I have referred, I was an interested party and objected to the appearance of legal practitioners, particularly in the preliminary hearing. In the appeal, which was heard before Mr. Justice Barton, four persons were involved, and when we met in the Judge’s chambers I was surprised to find that the three gentlemen I was petitioning against walked in with solicitors to assist them. I raised the point as to whether counsel could appear, at least at the preliminary proceedings, and I was informed that they could not. Although counsel did not actually conduct the case of these men, it was noticed throughout the proceedings that not one of them attempted to speak without consulting counsel. That is what is being done in the industrial Court, and, there is only one way to keep them out, and that is by inserting such a provision as I have suggested.
– Then it will be necessary to fix a radius of 5 miles.
– I am not dealing with the absurdities of the position.
– There would be nothing left.
– The honorable member had better inform the trade unionists who desire this particular amendment that it is absurd and silly, as they know where the boot pinches, and* who has to pay for the work done. I know why organizations engage legal assistance, and if honorable members had sat in the Court as I have in connexion with industrial cases, they would understand the position. The employers’ representative sits at the table with a leading solicitor behind him, and it is felt that the employees’ representative might just as well also have the assistance of counsel.The average trade union secretary, or member of the trade union, could appear in these cases and do just as well as a legal practitioner, but foolishly they have the assistance of counsel, with the result that they spend their accumulated funds, and very often have to make a levy.
– In two years’ time a union secretary will become as bad as a lawyer.
– I do not think that any trade union secretary is likely to become as bad as a lawyer. I ask the House to realize that if we desire to make industrial legislation effective and prevent trade unionists from preaching the doctrine of direct action, we shall have to show them that arbitration is cheap, and that it will not cost them as much to go to the Court as it will to strike. Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that in many cases it has cost industrial unions as much to appear before the ArbitrationCourt as a strike would have involved. In the Bootmakers’ and Builders’ Labourers cases five or six strikes could have been successfully carried out for the money that was spent in going to the Court, and the industrial unionists of to-day that adopt constitutional methods have to pay as much as if they went on strike. In disputes between employees and employers, unionists do not desire to go to the Court, knowing that legal technicalities in every shape or form will be raised, and one of the best means of making arbitration effective is by inserting a provision to debar legal men from appearing. It is also very desirable that provision should be made to prevent industrial cases being heard in a building that resembles a Court, or before a person who is associated with the legal profession. The amendment I have moved has the support of trade unionists, and as it will be the means of facilitating the hearing of cases I ask honorable members to accept it.
.- I rise to support the proposed new clause moved by the honorable member for Adelaide. It is not often that we agree, but on this occasion I must confess that he is right, in spite of the ridicule of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). A majority of trade unionists are of the opinion that lawyers should be kept out of the Arbitration Court, and I am convinced that the trade unionists in South Australia think it would be in their interests if lawyers were prevented from appearing in industrial cases.
– If a unionist “wants to consult a lawyer, would the honorable member be in favour of preventing him from doing sol
– I would be in favour of permitting him to obtain advice in regard to the preparation of his case.
– Then, your whole argument falls to tHe ground.
– The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) is not necessarily of the opinion that the advice of a member of the legal profession cannot be helpful to a trade unionist, or to a union organization, but that the presence of a lawyer in the Arbitration Court involves 3, waste of time and money; expenses are piled up, and the hearing is protracted, t is a simple matter for the lawyers to prolong a Court hearing. I can quite understand a wealthy employer being quite willing that his legal representative should protract a hearing. There are many employers who can afford to pay £1,000 where a struggling trade organization may find it hard to raise £10. The object of adding expenses, in such circumstances, is obvious. The point has been advanced that a lawyer is not permitted to be present in the Arbitration Court unless by consent of both parties. The honorable member .for Batman (Mr. Brennan) says, “ Surely the unions know their own business best.” It is not so much a matter of the unions knowing their own business as of their feeling the necessity for engaging a lawyer in order that he, with his expert knowledge and training, may be able to counter the quibbles and technicalities raised by the lawyer for the other side. I once had to engage a lawyer. I did so, not so much that I felt that I could not conduct my own case, as that I was afraid of the legal technicalities which might be raised by the lawyer opposed to me. I have been sorry ever since, for my lawyer charged me two guineas for his advice that I should plead guilty.
– The honorable member got off lightly.
– The point is that I was not guilty. The engaging of lawyers by unions is not due to the fact that the secretaries have been unable to adequately conduct their case, but it has been done because the unions are afraid of the disadvantage at which they might find themselves without the service of a lawyer when it came to the matter of arguing legal technicalities. I can quite understand the fears of the organizations in this respect. Before I went to college, I was always afraid to enter into an argument with a collegebred man, because I had the feeling that his special education gave him advantages which I would not be able to withstand. I had that same feeling of diffidence before I entered Parliament. I used to feel, when I was attending Labour conferences, and the like, that I was not equipped to enter into argument with members of Parliament, because they appeared to be especially wise and . sane persons. Since I have entered this political arena, however, those ideas have departed. I sympathize with the attitude of trade unions generally towards members of the legal profession. They rightly fear that advantage may be taken by the other side if they themselves have not engaged legal advice. The bulk of public opinion is that the Arbitration Court would be infinitely more acceptable and successful if lawyers were barred.
– The proposal under discussion is really amazing. I do not know why the unions consult lawyers at all; but I suspect that it is because of the benefits which the unions expect to accrue therefrom. They consult lawyers - I take it - in order to get the best possible advice in relation to the presentation of their , case before the Court. The suggestion that the introduction of lawyers necessarily involves the protraction of a hearing must emanate from a miserable and unfortunate experience. The unions know what is best in their own interests. There is already provision j that lawyers cannot be employed within the Court, except by the consent of both parties; and, if both parties agree that lawyers shall be employed, it is because each side is of opinion that it will be advantageous, both in its own interests, and for the assistance of the Court itself, thus actually securing - in the matter of length of hearing - greater expedition. If it is a crime for lawyers to appear in the Court, in order to give parties the benefit of their expert training and knowledge, it must be, similarly, a crime for either party, or for anybody at all, to consult a lawyer. Honorable members who may differ from me will be consistent if they next move to make it a penal offence for parties to consult a lawyer. But would such a course of action be fair to the unions themselves? Would it not be passing a reflection upon the sanity and discretion of the unionists who desired the assistance of lawyers? I do not think unionists will thank the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) or the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), seeing that there is already ample protection in this matter afforded under the Act., If I were to consult a doctor, it would be for the reason that I considered that his advice would assist me towards the recovery of my health. A medical man would be able to help me, because of his expert knowledge. From a professional standpoint,”^ it is absurd to suggest that I, or any other legal member of this Legislature, should be moved, in arguing upon this matter, in any personal sense. I emphasize that the sole reason why parties consult members of the legal profession is, in their own interests, to secure expert advice and assistance.
.- If there were required additional reasons to convince me to support the proposed new clause, they have been furnished by those honorable members who have spoken in opposition to it. I refer particularly to the ‘ remarks of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best). It must be within the knowledge of practically all honorable members that unionists generally desire the legal fraternity to be excluded from Arbitration proceedings. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), with all his eloquence, failed to convince me that it was due to the consideration of any expert training or knowledge that unionists engaged lawyers to attend the Arbitration Court. In matters coming before that Court, the expert knowledge and training are exclusively the attributes of the particular parties thereto ;. the lawyers engaged generally know nothing whatever of the matters under consideration.
– Then why do the parties consult lawyers?
– As legal quibbles and legal interpretations are raised, the unionist is compelled to have his lawyer in Court to argue the legal side of any question. The industrialists do not want to have the legal so much as the practical side of their cases presented; they want to put before the Court the prevailing conditions of employment, and the amendment of those condition? for which they are asking. The Minister said that the employment of lawyers expedited the hearing of cases, but my experience is that lawyers have brought dilatoriness to a fine art. We hear of the workers going slow, but the delays in the Arbitration Court due to the lawyers were a revelation to me.
– Would the honorable member put a layman in place of the Judge of that Court?
– I think ‘that that would be an excellent thing to do. To determine working conditions, you require, not a Judge, but a practical man. I fail to see why either Judges or lawyers should be employed in the industrial Court. Arbitration does not appeal to unionists, and a large number of them have no faith in it, because of the delays which occur before cases can get to the Court, the delays that arise after they get there, due to the appearance of lawyers, and the fact that the greater part of their funds go in paying lawyers’ fees. The amendment should appeal to all who desire the success of arbitration and object to direct action. If you want direct action, the way to bring it about is to reject the amendment.
.- As a lawyer, I have for years suffered under the appellation of member of the “ Devil’s Brigade,” but recently a new appellation was fastened on me, when in a communication received the other day I was told that the letters “ M.H.R.,” in the opinion of the writer, stand, not for Member of the House of Representatives, but for “Money Hunting Robber.” At first I was disposed to support the amendment, because I know’ that a. tremendous amount of money is spent on legal argument ; but
I am of opinion that, inasmuch as the Act provides that, where both sides agree, legal assistance may be employed, a prohibition should not be placed on the employment of lawyers under those circumstances. I hope that in the round-table conferences under the Industrial Peace Act, the parties will thresh matters out among themselves, but lawyers may well be permitted to appear in the Arbitration Court if bothparties to a dispute wish to employ them.
.- When speaking on the Industrial Peace Bill, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) was in favour of keeping away from the Court. He said, “Let matters be settled in some quiet private place, not in a Court.” Therefore, I expected him to be a whole-souled supporter of the amendment, because its aim is to do away with the employment of lawyers, and to take from this tribunal the air of a Court. I should like to have everything done by laymen, though I do not know that that will be possible until all Acts of Parliament are drafted in language which the ordinary layman can understand. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle) has shown that, although the Act says that lawyers are not to be employed unless there be an agreement between the parties for their employment, a legal gentleman almost invariably sits behind the representative of the employer, framing arguments and questions for him, and that, therefore, the lawyer is not really excluded. I believe that the unionists of Australia would like to exclude lawyers from the Arbitration Court altogether. At the present time, a very intricate case is being heard before Mr. Justice Higgins, which raises the question of hours of labour; but on the employees’ side the assistant secretary to the Trades Hall Council is appearing, not for one union only, but practically for all the unions. At a conference of the Australian Labour party held in 1915, the late Laurie Cohen said that -
Parliament should make the laws so definite that there would not he room for the High Court to step in and upset legislation, which should be so set out in words that people could understand it.
The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond), who was a mem ber of the conference, said on that occasion -
There had been placed on the shoulders of the workers heavy burdens of taxation in order to ascertain what the law of the land really was.
Mr. Fisher. The engine drivers, for instance.
– Yes, and it had cost the Australian Workers Union tens of thousands of pounds in recent years to ascertain what the legal position of organizations really was.
That is the penalty that the working people of Australia have had to pay, because the framers of the Constitution were not wise enough to frame it as it should have been framed, because the High Court has not interpreted it in a broad-minded fashion, as Mr. Justice Marshall interpreted the Constitution of the United States of America, and because a host of lawyers has been engaged by the employers, and consequently the employees have had to follow suit. Could we but exclude the legal gentlemen from the Courts, we would save the workers many thousands of pounds. I support the common-sense proposal now before us, and I hope that members generally will, by voting for it, take the commonsense course of “ biffing “ out the legal fraternity.
Question - that the proposed new clause (Mr. Blundell’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ 16. Every employer shall -
The Minister has amended section 41 of the principal Act to provide that the person authorized by the Registrar shall have the right to inspect documents and so forth. The proposed new clause will make it necessary for employers to keep records of the names of their employees, the time worked, and the wages received by them. Most of them do so at the present time, but, in some of the States, instances have occurred where employers have been found to keep no records, and not to ask their employees to sign for their wages. If an inspector were sent to the factory of such an employer to inspect documents, he would be unable to find any receipts for wages paid. In many of these cases, there is very grave suspicion in the minds of union secretaries that the men are not receiving the full wages to which they are entitled. This amendment is designed to carry out what the Minister has already agreed shall be done. . No one would be allowed to inspect the books or the documents of an employer under the proposed new clause except an authorized person approved by the Registrar. It would not be possible for a union secretary to go into an office when ever he. pleased and to inspect the wages books. If there is reason, however, to suspectthat men are not receiving the wages provided for by an award, the prescribed authority will have power to inspect the documents. Paragraph c of my proposed new clause requires that every employer shall post in a conspicuous position in his factory or works a copy of the award relating to his industry. This is a very necessary requirement, particularly in the case of industries where changes are frequently made in the personnel of the employees. A man entering such an establishment in search of employment might not know exactly, what part of an award relating to the industry applied to him, and what wages he ought to receive. If we require that copies of an award shall be placed in a conspicuous position in the factory or workshop, there will be no trouble in that regard. A similar provision appears in all State legislation, and I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment.
– I hope that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) will not press his amendment, since it proposes to insert in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act regulative machinery such as is usually associated with factory legislation. The amendment is scarcely relevant to the original Act. The Commonwealth function under theConstitution in this regard is to provide for conciliation and arbitration for the prevention or settlement of industrial disputes, whereas the honorable member seeks to devise machinery for regulating the way in which individual employers shall carry on their business.
– Under the State Wages Board system employers are required to post in a conspicuous position copies of Wages Board determinations relating to their industries.
– That bears out the point I have just been making that this amendment is rather in the nature of factory or Wages Board legislation, and that we do not possess the same power that the State Legislatures have to regulate industry.
– Does not the Minister think that an employer should be required to post in his factory a copy of the award relating to his industry?
– I am not quite sure as to the feasibility of this proposal. Some of our awards are exceedingly lengthy documents.
– But the substance of an award could be postedup.
– I hope the honorable member will not press his amendment. I promise him that I will look into the matter and see to what extent it would be possible to provide for what the honorable member seeks to accomplish in that part of his amendment. The other part is more in the nature of the provisions of a Factories Act. I will look into the matter of the regulative machinery, and if I find that what the honorable member suggests can be done, I will endeavour to have the Bill amended.
.- Under the New South Wales law every employer is required to post in a conspicuous place in his’ factory a copy of the award relating to his industry. Employers are also called upon to keep a time book showing the number of hours worked by their employees and the wages received by them, and the employees are required to sign that book. Surely there can be no objection to a similar requirement in respect of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. It is necessary to see to the interests of the honest employer, who desires to obey an award, as well as keep control over the dishonest employer who seeks to evade it; and to this end copies of awards should be conspicuously displayed. We have not yet reached the “ pitch “ when it is necessary to have a witness to the signature of a workman in payment of wages; but, in New South Wales, in the building trade, printed forms are provided, showing the number of hours worked each day and the amount due. When a case goes toCourt, these signed forms have to be produced; and some employers have been known to get men to sign for greater amounts than were paid to them. In two such cases employers have been fined, and one of the workmen concerned said he did not know what the award rate was. The Minister and the Court ought to be anxious to accept the proposed new clauses with a view to preventing such offences in the future, and protecting the honest employer.
– I have promised the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blun dell) that I shall have the matter looked into, and see what can be done.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8 p.m.
.- I move -
That the following new clause he added: - “18. Clause48 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after the word ‘ order ‘ the words ‘ and the term “ party “ includes secretary or any officer of an organization.’ “
Section 48 provides that the Court may, on the application of any party to an award, make an order in the nature of a mandamus, or an injunction, to compel compliance with the award, or to restrain its breach. Industrial organizations complain that they have no power to deal with the breach or evasion of an award, and they desire the section amended so that the secretary, or other authorized person, may be able totake action on behalf of the organisation. Breaches of awards take place, and there is ho one to draw attention to them. If the amendment be agreed to, the secretary, or some other officer appointed for the purpose, will be able to take action on every breach of an award.
– The organization, as a party to an award, can make application.
– Does that apply to the secretary, or any other officer?
– An officer must prove that he made application on behalf of the organization.
– He would require to be instructed by the organization. Apparently, greater power is desired, for one secretarywrites to me that the amendment is very necessary for the protection of the workers, and will be a great help to the unions. I am at a disadvantage in not knowing the actual difficulties which the organizations have experienced in the past in connexion with breaches of awards. I am informed that the amendment would be a benefit to the unions, and the workers generally, because it would facilitate the laying of information against defaulting employers. I do not think the amendment would cause any danger, because the secretary or officer could not take action on his own volition; he would have to apply to the Court, and the Judge would decide whether proceedings should be taken against the party complained of.
– I think the amendment would cover more than the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has indicated. Under section 48, an organization, as a party to an award, is entitled to apply to the Court for an order to compel compliance with the award. Of course, the organization must apply through some officer, and the applicant would explain to the Court his authority for applying on behalf of the organization.What the amendment means is that the secretary, or some other officer, should have power to apply to the Court of his own volition, and apart from the organization. In other words, the officer is to be allowed to police an award, and every time he thinks something is wrong he may make application to the Court.
– If he only desires to do that at the instance of his organization, he has the power now..
– Yes. The substance of what the honorable member for Hunter is seeking is already contained in the Act. We cannot give isolated individuals in a anion power to make application apart from the organization itself.
Mr.West. - A secretary, or officer, is a servant of the organization.
– Yes, and the servant should only act at the instance of his organization. The amendment proposes that he may be independent of his organization. I urge the honorable member for Hunter not to press the amendment.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- On the second reading, I called attention to the advisability of allowing the persons who were most seriously affected by the strike an opportunity to express their views before the strike was entered upon. During an industrial trouble, contributions are sent for the benefit of the strikers from industrial organizations all over the Commonwealth; and the men get their food, housing, clothing, tobacco, and even some luxuries, much as usual; but the women and children are deprived of many of the comforts to which they are entitled, and suffer a great deal. I desire that the voice of the women may he heard before a strike is declared, and I propose the repeal of section 21, with a view to inserting another provision in lieu thereof. Section 21 provides -
A certificate by the Registrar that a specified industrial dispute exists, or is threatened, or impending, or probable, as an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State, shall be primâ facie evidence that the fact is as stated.
Thus before a dispute can come under the cognisance of the Arbitration Court, it must extend beyond the boundaries of any one State.I move -
That the following new clause be added: -
Section 21 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following is inserted in lieu thereof: - “ 21. ( 1 ) In any case where an industrial dispute exists because of which a strike is suggested, contemplated, or threatened, it shall be competent for the President of the ArbitrationCourt to order that a secret ballot be taken at or in which every member of the organization affected shall be entitled to record a vote for or against a strike.
Whenever any such ballot is ordered, Federal or State officers of the respective Electoral Departments shall conduct and supervise the taking of the ballot.
Further it is hereby provided that the wife of every member of the organization directly affected as before said shall be entitled to record a vote.
The wife of each and every member of the organization affected shall upon application, at any time within twenty-four hours before the opening of the ballot, have issued to her an elector’s right qualifying her to record a vote at such ballot.”
The new clause involves a new principle, but this is something which we should have done years ago. “We should have given those most deeply concerned some voice in these matters. Many of us have noted that recently the women of Broken Hill themselves took action in connexion with a strike. It resulted in nothing, but the very fact that they took action on their own account shows how deeply they were interested, and how very seriously they were affected by what has been going on at Broken Hill during the past fifteen or sixteen months.Whilst they have been suffering very much, we have seen from correspondence in the press that the men at Broken Hill have been well fed and clothed, and, apparently, well housed. They seem to have been doing very well, whilst the women have been suffering very much. I believe that honorable’ members opposite will be ready to support my proposal, because I am certain that they are as much opposed to strikes as are any other persons in the community. They realize that what I have said as to the interest of the women and children in these matters is absolutely true. Any honorable member representing a district in which strikes are prevalent knows perfectly well that those who suffer from them are the women and children rather than the men. Children look to their mothers rather than to their fathers during industrial disturbances to relieve them of the evil consequences of a strike. I expect from honorable members opposite a great deal of sympathy and support for my proposal. T hope that it will receive the approbation of honorable members generally and of the Minister in charge of the Bill. I am perfectly certain that the members of the gentler sex, and especially those likely to be affected by strikes, will be in hearty sympathy with this proposal, and the man who votes against it will have rather a rough, time when he goes home and tells his wife what he has done.
.- All that the Minister in charge of this Bill (Mr. Groom) need do is to accept the proposed new clause if ‘ he desires that arbitration should be a thing of the past. However much we may deplore strikes it has never been held by the members of this or any other legislative chamber that I know of that it is possible to pass legislation which will prevent strikes or lockouts. We have lockouts as well as strikes, but it is very strange that the honorable member in submitting his new clause dealt only with trade unionists and ‘ strikes, and said nothing of employers who can lock men out at their own sweet will. Employers by locking out men may subject them and those dependent upon them to penalties and suffering, but the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) will ask no questions in such eases.
– When has there been a lockout? *
– There have been many, but the. honorable member does not propose to deal with lockouts. We all deplore both strikes and lockouts, and wish that they could be put an end to; but whilst we endeavour to pass legislation to avoid their consequences, we realize that it is absolutely impossible to prevent them altogether. They will occur, in spite of all that we can do. We can only strive to lessen their number.
The proposed new clause would take out of the hands of trade unionists the management of their own affairs.
– Not at all.
– It would. Once we say that in connexion with any industrial trouble a Judge of the Arbitration Court may appoint certain persons to take a ballot-
– A secret ballot.
– Once we provide that he may appoint -certain Federal or State officials to take a ballot in connexion with any industrial disturbance, we shall be removing the administration of trade union organizations from the hands of their members. There is no escape from that conclusion. The amendment does not require much argument to condemn it. We have only to consider what its effect will be. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that only organizations that are. registered shall come under it, and I ask the honorable member for Herbert and the Minister in charge of the Bill to say how many organizations -would remain registered under the Act if the new clause were agreed to. I venture to say that within a fortnight of the passing of such a provision every trade union in Australia would withdraw from the Arbitration Court. If it be the desire of the Government to kill the present Act and the Arbitration Court, they will effectively carry out that desire by accepting the amendment. Honorable members opposite may say that the onus of withdrawing from the Court would be thrown upon the . trade union organizations, but I venture to say that no trade unionist would for a moment advise his organization to continue registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act if this clause were accepted. However much the honorable member for Herbert may detest strikes and may desire to do away with them, the clause he now proposes would, if accepted, bring about more strikes in this community than we have had for years past. Every trade union organization would be up in arms against it. They will not permit this Parliament to ta.ke from them the right to manage their own affairs. We have recognised trade unions and we made them legal some years ago.
– Does the honorable member not think that the people most deeply interested should have some say in the management of the affairs of an organization ?
-I say that the people most deeply interested are the people concerned..
– Who are the people concerned?
– The employees, the employers, and the general public.
– Who are those chiefly concerned in connexion with an industrial organization? Are they not the members of the organization, and should they not have the right to manage their own affairs?
– They are not the persons chiefly concerned.
– Would the honorable member contend that similar legislation should apply in connexion with any big company composed of numerous shareholders? He has not advocated that, and would not advocate it. It is intended that this provision shall apply only to working people in this country-
– The honorable member has not quoted a parallel case.
– It would be impossible to quote what the honorable member would regard as a parallel case, because he thinks this legislation should apply to one side only. However much the women may be interested in these matters, and I admit that they are interested, because I have gone through strikes as other honorable members have done, and I know the extent to which women are interested, I venture to say that the womenfolk of the workers of this country would not thank the honorable member for Herbert for proposing this new’ clause, or this House for accepting it. ‘ The womenfolk of the workers of this country are amongst the best fighters we have in connexion with industrial troubles.
– They are the biggest sufferers.
– They suffer in silence, because they know that their bread-winners are doing the best they can to better their position, and in so doing to better the position of their wives and children. Are we to be told at this time and in this enlightened age that it is necessary to incorporate a provision of this kind in the Conciliation and Arbitra tion Act? There is not one honorable member on the other side who can justify the acceptance of the amendment. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been in existence for years, and we only recently passed a Bill through this House to deal with industrial differences, which is now under consideration in another place, but we made no provision for this sort of thing in that measure at all. I do not know what the Minister proposes to do, but I wish to know whether he intends to accept the amendment or not. If he does accept it he can say good-bye to arbitration. If he desires to effectively kill the present Act, the way to do that is to accept the amendment.
– Would the honorable member allow a ballot of the members of an organization to be taken by an electoral officer?
– I will never prevent a ballot being taken by their own officials. They can manage their own affairs.
– Apparently they could not do so at Broken Hill.
– It is suggested that these ballots are not taken fairly, and I want to say that so far as I know, they are always conducted fairly and above-board. In my own district, it is safe to say that we have one of the most militant unions in Australia. We have 8,000 members, and whenever a ballot is taken it is taken at the pit’s mouth. When the men come up from their work each is given a ballot-paper. There are scrutineers to see that no man gets more than one ballot-paper, and that only members of the organization are given papers. In that way the decision of the men is recorded on the matter referred to them. I ask whether anything could be fairer? We do not want any one to interfere with the management of our affairs.
– But the people concerned.
– One would think, to listen to the arguments and inter jections of honorable members, that the whole thought of trade unionists is to create trouble and have strikes, whereas no one detests a strike more than do the members of trade union organizations and their officials.
– Some of them.
– Very often people are led to form a false impression by what appears in the press. They do not thoroughly understand -what the men are endeavouring to do. Statements are made with a view to bettering the condition of men, and at once people jump to the conclusion that those who make such statements are endeavouring to create trouble, and wish to stop a particular industry. That, however, is the thing farthest from their minds. They never think of it. What does a strike mean to them ? It means nothing but trouble for them. It means the most anxious time which men leading the trade union movement can have. I have had to go through it myself, and I know that the officials of trade unions detest strikes, but they have to protect the interests of the members of their organizations.
The rules of these organizations can be seen; they are registered in the different States, and are recognised under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Now, the honorable member for Herbert comes along with a proposal to take away from the members of trade union organizations their rights in regard to certain matters, because, forsooth, some members of the Committee do not approve of what they occasionally find it necessary to do. Whilst they are prepared to deal with employees in this way, they have not one word to say about treating employers in the same way. The employers may declare a lockout because of the changed conditions due to an award, but honorable members opposite have not a word to say about them. The working men are to be tied up, and I repeat that honorable members opposite can accept this proposal if they so desire, but if they do accept it there will be an end to arbitration.
– Can the honorable member not see that if effect is given to the proposed new clause it will legalize an otherwise illegal act.
– I do not know what is intended, but I do know what will be the effect of passing such a provision. We have been doing certain things in connexion with arbitration in this Chamber recently, and I confess I do not know what is behind what is being done. I did not think that there was anything behind it until I received a copy of this proposed new clause. If the Minister in charge of the Bill intends to accept the amendment I will know that it is his intention to kill the Arbitration Act. Without consulting the industrial unions, I am confident that they will not accept this proposal, and I ask the Minister whether he intends to accept it or not.
– I am not in a position to accept the amendment. The honorable member who has moved it has said that strikes ought not to be lightly entered into, and I think that people, generally, will agree with him. He put that view forward and asked the .Committee to consider it. He believes that if the women who are so seriously affected by strikes were asked to record a vote for or against a strike it would be found, in many instances, that those who suffer most from strikes would be against them. I am more concerned, however, with the effect of the amendment upon the original Act, and on that account I cannot see my way to accept it. The intention of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is to make lockouts and “strikes illegal. There is a difficulty in enforcing that intention, but it is the spirit of the Act that there should be no strikes or lockouts, because there is machinery provided by the Act itself whereby the persons affected can secure a peaceful adjustment of their differences and redress of their grievances. The idea of the Act is to do away with the barbarous method of the strike and introduce the reign of law and order into the conduct of economic affairs.
– It has been an awful failure.
– Not altogether; and I am rather inclined to take the view that when the history of industrial legislation in Australia is impartially written, it will show that our efforts have contributed helpful experiments in connexion with industrial disputes. I do not say for a moment, that it has been the means of solving all our difficulties., but we have been groping after that which is right without precedent to guide us. Mistakes have been made in the past, and we are now endeavouring to correct some of them, both in this Bill and in a measure which is now before the other Chamber. It is our desire to seek some means by which we can substitute law and order and peaceful conditions for strikes and lockouts. . I am quite sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) will accept my assurance that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) had no intention of breaking up our industrial legislation when he moved his amendment. In the first place the difficulty is that strikes are illegal, and this amendment purports to give the President of the Arbitration Court, in the event of a strike, the power to order that a ballot shall be taken. Instead of ordering a ballot, he should order penalties on those responsible for encouraging a strike. The mover of . the amendment has not followed it up sufficiently .by showing what would be the result if those balloting were in favour of a strike.
– There would not be a strike.
– But supposing there were, the Court would be sanctioning something which the Act declares illegal. The wording of the amendment is against” the general tenor of the law, and for that reason I cannot see my way to accept it. The honorable member who moved the amendment must admit that it is contrary to the spirit of the Bill.
.We hav have to thank the honorable member for Herbert (Mr.. Bamford) for the amendment he has submitted, if only for the reason that the Committee has received a clear indication of what the value of such an amendment would be if it were embodied in the Bill. The Act is clear and definite that strikes are absolutely illegal, and if such is the case, how can power be given to the President of the Arbitration Court to conduct a ballot in connexion with an impending strike ?
– It would not be recognised.
– Of course . it would not. The amendment has given the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) an opportunity of making it clear to Honorable members - and I hope to the public outside - how the workmen’s wives feel in regard to strikes, and I do not remember the honorable member ever submitting a case more strongly than he has done on this occasion. It has been a revelation, and I believe he has clearly expressed the opinion of most of the wives of the men who strike. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says he speaks from experience, and if, as he suggests, the carrying of the amendment would mean the destruction of the Bill, I would be inclined to support it.
– And you would get something worse.
– I know it is not possible to prevent strikes by law.
– Is the honorable member in favour of reverting to the old methods?
– I would like to see the Canadian system adopted, whereby if the men cannot get the award they desire, they can go on strike. What is the use of legislation- when our experience shows that we will have strikes whatever we do? Why not admit that strikes cannot be prevented, and legislate for them? Is it right to shackle one section and allow the other to do just as it likes?
– How would the honorable member apply the amendment in the case of a lockout ?
– I read a little while ago, in connexion with a strike, that the wives of the workmen decided to cease work, and left the strikers to look after the kitchen and the kiddies while they had a good time. We need only refer to Knibbs to see that during the year before last £2,800,000 was lost by strikers in wages, and if that amount were capitalized it would represent a loss of something like £10,000,000 to the people of Australia. Legislation of this character should not be. compulsory, but should be on the Canadian system, and when a decision is arrived at which is unsatisfactory to the workmen and they desire to go out on strike, a strike ballot should be conducted, not by the officials representing the men, but by outside officers. It is generally admitted that it is the young men who have very few responsibilities who are eager for a fight.
– They are usually the ones who stay in, and it is the married men who stand by their principles who come out. I have been in a workshop, and know it.
– The honorable member was, perhaps, one of those who would not strike; but this is the first time I have ever heard such a statement.
– The honorable member has never been as closely associated with working men as I have.
– If we could make this measure unworkable and could compel the Government to bring in another Bill, without the compulsory clauses, embodying something in the nature of the Canadian system, with a proviso in regard to strike ballots, I believe labour organizations would support it. The leaders of industrial organizations are not as a rule responsible for trouble, as it is generally the hot-headed members of industrial unions who are to blame. If we adopted the Canadian system, I believe our industrial laws would be more effective, and there would be a better prospect of awards being observed than under present circumstances. As the proposed amendment is contrary to the spirit of the Bill I cannot support it.
.-It was not my intention to speak to the amendment, as the principle involved has already been ably dealt with by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). As a trade unionist of many years, not only in Australia, but in other countries where ballots are taken, I am able to say that on the question of striking the women always support their husbands. On a recent occasion, at Broken Hill, in connexion with the present strike, the election of officers turned on the question of whether there should be a ballot in connexion with the strike, and although the officers opposed it, they were , returned by large majorities. In the felt-hat making industry, in which I was employed in Great Britain, there are as many female as male workers, and in connexion with one industrial disturbance in particular that occurred in that industry while I was working there, the women were as keen on striking as were the men. Any one who has a knowledge of the conditions obtaining in the north ofEngland twenty or thirty years ago knows that married as well as single women work because they do not receive sufficient from other sources. On the occasion to which I have referred the women held a meeting the night before the men and decided that as they had been locked out they would go without strike pay for the first month, and the men carried a similar resolution the next night.
– If such is the case, why oppose the amendment?
– I am surprised that the honorable member for Herbert, who, I believe, is an old trade unionist, should submit such an amendment. I know of an instance in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, where women workers were dissatisfied because a non-unionist had been brought into a factory, and they said that unless that non-unionist was dismissed they would walk out; and they did walk out, and they waited until they were sent for. This clearly shows that the women are as good unionists as the men, and if they are asked to vote they will always be in favour of. fighting for better conditions. It must be remembered that there are lockouts as well as strikes, and the “ bosses “ will always take care to keep on inflicting pinpricks until the men or women are compelled to cease work. It is not only a question of making a demand on the employers for improved conditions, because employers can find thousands of ways of aggravating men in spite of the law.
– Last week simple boys closed a coal mine.
– They were not very simple, then.
– The country is simple to allow it. It is the simple boys who run the show to-day.
– To the best of my knowledge, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has had no experience of industrial matters, from the stand-point of a trade unionist. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) would not tell the same tale as has the honorable members for Dampier and Wakefield. However, since the Minister says the Government has no intention of accepting the amendment, it may be regarded’ as foredoomed.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [8.46]. - I am rather surprised at honorable members opposite croaking about the way in which Australia has been ridden with strikes. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) administered a rebuke only a few days ago to those who prate about the bad conditions existing here. He remarked that, having returned home from his travels, he had been impressed with the fact that Australia is one of the best countries in which to invest money today. The printers in this State recently had a dispute, and the employees were out for three months. Then a conference was called, over which the Premier of Victoria (Mr. Lawson) presided. Among those who had been on strike were numbers of women and girls. As an outcome of the round-table conference, the men in the trade agreed to accept the conditions laid down, but those who stuck out for still better conditions and were prepared to continue to fight for them, and to remain out of work until they were conceded, were the women. ,
– Young women, or girls; not wives and mothers with responsibilities.
– It is the women who put up the stoutest fight. When there was a strike of miners in New South Wales some time ago, the keenest were the coal-miners’ wives. They told their men that if they went back they would not own them as their husbands ; and they were so incensed against the “ blacklegs “ that numbers of. women actually pelted them with lumps of coal. When it comes to striking, and sticking out, the women will beat the men every time.
.- Judging from the attitude of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), one can only come to the conclusion that he is afraid, to give the women a vote for fear that their influence at the ballot would be recorded against strikes. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has just advanced the strongest possible arguments that no one in an industrial community is prepared to fight harder and longer under strike conditions than the women folk. It is fortunate for the women of the Commonwealth that the honorable member for Hunter was not a member of this Parliament when the Franchise Act was passed. If one may take a line from his attitude to-day, it would not be unfair to suggestthat he would not have voted to give the women the franchise.
– They are not Democrats on that side.
– Of course not; the Democrats are all congregated behind the Government, and I hope they will presently indorse that statement by their attitude in division. Surely the women whom we gave the right to assist in the selection of members to this Parliament should be entitled to vote in a matter of industrial trouble, which is far more important and more closely concerned with their lives than a Federal election. I have not the statistics at my hand, but could furnish figures to prove that since the Arbitration Act came into force there have been more strikes in Australia than during any previous period of’ equal length. The Act has been practically a dead letter. What good has it accom- . plished? Yet, when I endeavour to introduce a proposal to make the Act, in some respects, at any rate, serviceable, the Minister (Mr. Groom), who is so optimistic about the Bill, indicates that he cannot accept it. He ought to know how matters are run in trade union circles nowadays. When there is trouble brewing in the part of Australia’ from which I come, a meeting is called. The secretary and the organizers are on the platform, and a motion, which has been framed beforehand, is put to the meeting. The chairman says, “Now, you ‘dinkum blokes,’ get over to that side; and you bally scabs,’ you get over to the other side.” Of course, there are no “ scabs “ ; the resolution is unanimously agreed to. When the honorable member for Maribyrnong refers to the eagerness of girls to stand out in a strike, he forgets that they have no responsibilities ; they are not the mothers of families. I ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh how large is his family?
– I have a family.
– As a sensible man, with comparatively light responsibilities, and a banking account, no doubt, to fall back upon, he prepares himself, in the event of trouble brewing in his union. But what about the position of men with large families; and what of their womenfolk? Why should honorable members object to State and Commonwealth electoral officers conducting a ballot? They are prepared to trust these officials to control an election for Parliament. And, why should they object to the President of the Arbitration Court being given the power to say that there shall be a secret ballot? Possibly, the phraseology of my amendment is not all that could be wished, from an experienced legal point of view; but the principle is there, and I have no objection to it being differently clothed.
– It is the principle of adult suffrage.
– The plural vote; just as there is plural voting for the election of members of the Federal Legislature.
– Then, the honorable member would be favorable to the children also being given a vote?
– No, for the reason that the fathers dominate the children, who would be afraid to vote other than at their parents’ behest. I cannot help but admire the optimism of the Minister ; he expects great ‘ things of the Bill. I recall that the late Mr. Deakin delivered three magnificent speeches on the first Arbitration Bill. He spoke in the same optimistic tone; but is there industrial peace to-day? Has the Arbitration Act achieved what Mr. Deakin hoped and expected of it? Are we not now threatened by a strike of coalminers which is going to hold up every industry in the Commonwealth?
– Then, what is the purpose of the conference which has been called, and is to continue to sit further, with the avowed object of preventing such a strike? Strikes in the honorable member’s electorate have not only held up the industries of the country in the past but have done serious damage in his own neighbourhood. The honorable member for Hunter should be prepared to welcome anything that would furnish opportunity for the people most closely concerned in a strike to have a full and complete say.
.- This proposition has been responsible for considerable amusement, but I fail to perceive the logic in it. It suggests . that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) has been attending some alleged mothers’ meetings, such as the Women’s National League. If the honorable member understood the true feelings of our womenfolk-
– There I bow to the honorable member’s superior experience.
– I happen to have had responsibilities as a married man for some years, so that the honorable member’s ridicule is unwarranted. When I have reached the advanced age of the honorable member I have no doubt that I shall have established myself equally as well as he has done in respect to his duties as a husband and a father. The motion may be laudable in its intention, but I suspect that its main objective is that it may gain for the honorable member for Herbert a little personal advantage. From a prac tical point of view, his proposal will not bear investigation. If it is sought to give our womenfolk the right to ballot in the direction of a strike, why should, not women also have the right to be consulted in the matter of instituting lockouts?
– I will amend it in that direction if you like. Will you support me if I do?
– I would not follow the honorable member blindly. He will have to prove the effectiveness of the proposal before I would support him. It is impossible to apply to lockouts the condition that he wishes to apply to strikes. I am prepared to give all citizens a full opportunity to voice their opinions upon matters of public policy. Some members, however, desire to intrude and interfere in the trade or industrial union spheres. No such anxiety is manifested by these same gentlemen on behalf of our womenfolk in controlling the employer by having a direct voice in his affairs. Where women are directly employed they certainly should participate in such a vote. I think I know the feeling of the womenfolk in this country in regard to these matters. Whenever the betterment of conditions in an industry is desired, they are prepared to stand by their menfolk, and if the latter find it necessary to take the extreme step of striking none are more loyal to them than their wives.
– When they think that the cause is just !
– They always think that the cause is just when their husbands are driven to this extreme step because the difficult nature of conditions arising therefrom has demonstrated itself in their own homes. If wives are to vote in regard to striking, why should not the mothers and sisters who depend on the workers also vote? The futility of the amendment is apparent. The gross inconsistency of members who support the proposals now before the Committee, and at the same time would not give women the right to vote for candidates of the Legislative Council in South Australia, places their remarks at a discount.
– Is there any analogy between the two things ?
– Of course there is not, in the mind of the honorable member. We know that it would be impossible to apply the proposed conditions to lockouts, and why. should we impose on one side conditions that cannot be applied to the other. Honorable members opposite have repeatedly attributed the industrial unrest which prevails to the working men of the country; but what about the employers who evade their responsibilities, and have it in their power to displace men at their pleasure, and by subterfuge deprive them of their work without having to answer to any tribunal for their behaviour ? Whenever men try to improve their conditions after failing to secure redress by constitutional means, members opposite place the whole responsibility for the unrest that occurs at the workers’ door; but, generally, whenever the working class has had recourse to direct action, there has been justification for it. ‘Men do not revolt from just conditions.
– On many occasions the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Tudor) has said in this Chamber that men frequently strike against the advice of the executives of their unions.
– But he did not say that they were not suffering from grievances when they took that step.
– I am speaking in general terms, and what my Leader may have said does not prove that there was not justification for the action taken. Their leaders may have erred, and the men themselves may have taken a truer view of the question at issue. - When the result of a secret ballot results in the declaration of a strike, there is ample justification for the action taken. I do not desire to see such action except when it is absolutely necessary, and every other medium for settlement has been exhausted. I have never preached the doctrine of irresponsibility and going to extremes. I have held that the course taken should be justifiable to the community at large as well as to the body of workers concerned. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) said tonight that it is those who have little or no interest in the place where they are employed who are most ready to take an independent stand, and are thus the cause of a great deal of industrial unrest, meaning that single men were largely instrumental in precipitating strikes.
– Generally, strikes are caused by the young hot heads of the unions.
– My experience is that many single men are more reluctant to take the. extreme step than men with large families. I have seen that in workshops where I have been employed. Married men sometimes feel called upon, sooner than single men, to leave their employment to show their disgust and resentment at their conditions, and it is natural that they should, in view of the greater pressure on them in providing for the sustenance of their families. Certainly, on the average, strikes are precipitated as much by the action of married men as by that of single men. Whether there may be justification for it, extreme action should be left to the decision of those responsible. It is a pity that the Government did not take the opportunity to come to an understanding with the trade unions as to legislation which would overcome the present difficulty, and assist in removing those anomalies which are the cause of dissatisfaction, thus minimizing industrial unrest. Compared with other countries, Australia enjoys more peaceful industrial conditions than any other part of the world. Occasionally, however, through lack of constitutional means men have to show their disapproval of injustice to conditions that are imposed by the captains of industry.
– I know the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) well enough to feel sure that he thoroughly believes what he has said, yet although he told us several times that it is not the young men in the unions who promote strikes, but rather those with big families, he would have to say it one thousand and one times before the’ statement would be accepted by the people of the country.
– They know it to be true.
– They know it is the young hot heads who are responsible for the unjustifiable strikes in this country. As I said here two or three weeks ago, only an infinitesimal proportion of the unionists of Broken Hill were, and are to-day, responsible for the worst and most unjustifiable strike that any country has ever known. It has been for the last twenty years the constant complaint of steady, responsible married men of Broken Hill that young irresponsibles cause all the trouble.
– Would not the Broken Hill mines have beenworking to-day if the mine-owners had been prepared to adopt the conditions laid down by the conference ?
– No; because the strike was due, in the first place, to a dispute between unionists, and not between the men and the mineowners. The deplorable condition of Broken Hill to-day is a shocking example of the work of the young irresponsibles who caused the strike now going on.
– Has the honorable member been there lately?
– I have not; but scores and scores of the best men that ever worked in Broken Hill have told me that as soon as a strike was declared they had either to leave there, or shut their mouths, and submit to any proposal that might be made until the strike was over. The mine-owners of Broken Hill deplore the fact that these men do not come back. If action were taken to clear out of Broken Hill about fifty men, a working man’s paradise would be established there. Unionists there have the best employers in the world.
– Does the honorable member say that the mine-owners have all the virtues so far as the present strike is concerned ?
– I do; and I am delighted to know that the statement is true. As to the workshops in which my honorable friend (Mr. Makin) says he has been employed, the experience of the last twenty years is that the industrial disturbances created in it have not infrequently been due to young irresponsibles. I am not including my honorable friend in that category. He is certainly youthful in appearance, but he is the father of a family, and an excellent fellow. My only complaint against him is that he is wrongly informed. I could traverse all the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), and several other members of his party, but I do not wish to detain the Committee.
The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) has given utterance tonight to some splendid sentiments, the truth of which cannot be gainsaid, but in order to avoid any waste of time let me say that the words of wisdom that have fallen from his lips have come at the wrong moment, since the purport of the Minister’s proposals, if I understand them rightly, is that strikes shall be declared illegal. In these circumstances, I ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether the debate is in order ?
.- I oppose the amendment moved by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford). I have not much fault to find with that part of it which provides that there shall be a secret ballot of the members of an organization involved in a dispute to determine whether or not a strike shall take place, because I, too, have had inside experience, and might bear out some of the statements which the honorable member has made. But I resent very strongly his proposal that the wives of the men should take part in the ballot. No doubt the honorable member thinks that if the women-folk had a right to vote, there would be no strike. In other words, he is casting a reflection on the wives of the unionists by suggesting that they would be such crawlers as to allow their husbands to put up with any industrial conditions rattier than risk the privations that attend a strike. The unionist, after all, is but. the son of his mother ; he is of the stock from which he has sprung, and when it comes to making a sacrifice, or to standing up for a principle, no one is more ready to do so than a woman.
– Then let the women have an opportunity of expressing their opinion.
– We are not opposing this amendment because of any fear of the result of such aballot as is suggested. We oppose it because it is a reflection on the wives of unionists.
I have been wondering during this debate what has happened to cause the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. RichardFoster) to present bouquets to the honorable member for Herbert. A few years ago one would not have dreamt of bouquets being handed to him by either the honorable member or the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I have read somewhere that Herod and Pilate became friends over the crucifixion of the Nazarene ; and here we have a modern Herod and Pilate becoming friendly over the crucifixion of the principles and loyaltyof the working women of this country. When the honorable member for Herbert was seeking to benefit, I will not say his industrial, buthis financial, position, he did not ask that a ballot of the wives of members should be taken in regard to the salary grab; he was quite satisfied to trust to the wisdom of members themselves, so far as that matter was concerned. If it is good enough for us to deal with our own business, it is good enough for the unionists outside to settle their own business without calling upon their wives to settle it for them.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- I move -
That the following new clause he added: - “ 19. After section 58a of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - 58b. The rules of an organization under this Act and the officials of such organization shall not, during the currency of an award in the industry concerned, prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award at any time prior to the commencement of service.’”
The amendment would prove useful in connexion with not only the pastoral industry, but sugar-cane cutting, since it would enable members of an organization to make their arrangements or to enter into contracts with employers some time before the actual date of starting work. The special reasons supplied to me for this proposal are as follow : -
That should be obvious to honorable members generally. If it were possible for members of organizations to enter into an arrangement some time before the date fixed for commencing operations, there would be less likelihood of men travelling long distances to reach a shearing shed, only to be disappointed on arriving at their destination. In these days of labour shortage particularly, this is a very important consideration. The. Australian Workers Union until 19 18 had no objection to shearers signing on in advance of shearing operations. The men were in the habit of sending in their names or of entering into arrangements either with the contractor or the pastor alist to shear his sheep; but since 1918 the union has objected. It has a rule that members may forward their deposits, but must not sign agreements before roll-call. Since 1918, however, the rule has been suspended during each shearing season. That is not a good thing for the industry.So long as men work in accordance with the award relating to the industry, I cannot understand why any objection should be made to these arrangements.
The present system is very unfair. Where the members of the organization have not made any contract prior to the date fixed for starting operations, the pastoralists and cane-growers are left absolutely in the hands of a few men. That, I am sure, is quite contrary to the wishes of the Australian Workers Union. That union has always been anxious that its members shall carry out their obligations under the award of the Court. That is all we are asking for - that the rules of the organization shall not enable it to prevent men engaging in this class of work on contracts made some time before they actually commence operations. I hope the Minister (Mr. Groom) will not object to the amendment, for he knows the difficulties of the industry, and how irresponsible men are at times able to cause a great deal of trouble, especially in the back country, by flouting an award. I am sure there is no desire to support men who do that kind of thing; and, under the circumstances, my proposal is to enable the shearer and the cane-cutter to be quite sure of employment, and employers to make arrangements for the entire season. In Western Australia, under the conditions I am advocating, continuous work is provided from about March to the end of November. I can assure the Minister and honorable members that those interested in this amendment have the highest authority for saying that it is quite constitutional.
.- I regard this amendment as quite unnecessary, and I hope it will not be accepted by the Committee. The amendment asks that during the currency of an award nothing shall be done to prevent members of an organization from entering into written agreements, in accordance with the award, at any time prior to the commencement of service. I cannot understand why, if an award has been obtained by an association, there should be any necessity for members of that association to enter into private agreements. This agreement, it seems to me, is “ loaded.”
– I can assure the honorable member that it is not.
– I think from what we have heard that it is “ loaded,” and
I shall be very careful regarding it. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) alluded to the Australian Workers Union.
– I desired to put both sides of the question.
– Quite so; but let me say at once that I do not think there is any union that has the same numerical strength as the Australian Workers Union, and, further, that since the Arbitration Act came into force, no union has, so far as I know, observed awards more closely, as proved by the fact that there has been no upheaval in the pastoral industry. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) says that nothing has been gained by arbitration, but I submit that no one can tell what has been gained in consequence of the operation of the Act. The Australian Workers Union has loyally abided by the awards of the Court, and, after all, they represent one of the staple industries of the Commonwealth on which we depend.
– The men themselves have not always done so.
– In spite of the record of the Australian Workers Union, the honorable member says that the men of theorganizations have not always abided loyally by the awards. I take it that the honorable member is alluding to the present position.
– He is not.
– I am putting my view of the remarks of the honorable member. There is an award at present current, but in Queensland a State award gave better conditions than those provided by the Commonwealth award. This led to a conference between the representatives of the pastoralists and the Australian Workers Union, and, at that conference, I should say three-fourths of the pastoralists agreed to observe the better terms of the State award. There were, however, some pastoralists who declined to enter into that arrangement; and, I take it, because of their declining we are asked to accept this amendment. The cost of living has gone up considerably during the last few years, while the price of wool has practically doubled, and there ought to be no objection to the employees getting a better price for shearing. Surely it is not claimed that the shearers in Australia generally shall work for less than has been awarded by the Queensland Judge? The question was thoroughly threshed out at the conference to which
I have referred, but whether the settlement arrived at did or did not represent a compromise, I cannot say. Now, however, because a few pastoralists, probably the most wealthy of those engaged in the industry, have decided they will not abide by the Queensland terms, this amendment is proposed. As I have said, there is at the present time a Commonwealth award which covers the Australian Workers Union, and if this amendment is accepted the small section of pastoralists who decline to pay the terms arranged at the conference will be able to enter into private agreements, on the basis of an award that gives something less to shearers than they are entitled to. To pass such legislation is to “ look for trouble “ ; if we insert a provision for the purpose of assisting certain individuals to force Australian Workers Union members in certain parts of New South Wales to shear for something less than the price paid in Queensland and other parts of Australia, we shall not be going in the right direction. I sincerely hope the amendment will not be accepted, because I feel convinced that it would mean a good deal of mischief to the Commonwealth. I warn the Minister (Mr. Groom) that it will be to the advantage ofno one if this amendment is accepted, for it will enable certain pastoralists to protect themselves by the present award, and certain unionists will regard themselves as justified in working under it.
– I bow readily and always to the knowledge and opinions of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in coal-mining matters, respecting which he seldom goes astray, but he is entirely on the wrong track in what he conceives to be the intention of the amendment.
– I do not know the intention, but the effect of such an amendment will be what I have said.
– The honorable member is also on the wrong track as to the effect. The honorable member has referred to a new arrangement made by possibly three-fourths of the pastoralists in the Commonwealth; but that arrangement was made under pressure, because they knew that without it they could not get the wool off the sheep’s back. This amendment does not concern that arrangement at all.
– But it will concern it.
– For, I suppose, from twenty to thirty years it has been the custom for station-owners, both in the settled areas and wayback, to arrange with certain men to do their shearing. These men enter into agreements and sign up to go from one station to another at award rates.
– Could not all the sheep on the holdings referred to be sheared under such agreements?
– I was going to say that that is thereason this amendment is moved-
– It is the reason for my opposing it.
– This is what we expected.
– What did you expect?
– Just what you are telling us now.
– How do you know what I am going to tell you ?
– You have already told us something.
– I have not told you anything, but if the honorable member will possess his soul in patience, I shall proceed to tell him.
– What have you been doing up to now?
– Simply telling somehonorable members where they are wrong. As I was saying, for many years past, station-owners in the north of South Australia, right up to the Queensland border, have been in the habit of engaging their shearers in Adelaide, under agreements, to shear first one station and then another, right through the season. Until very recently that has been done at award rates. Recently, however, for some reason or other, the union has forbidden men to enter into such agreements, and insists that they shall sign their agreements on the stations. Let me say here, that under the arrangements which have prevailed until quite recently, station-owners were able to employ the same men year after year; and this proved of great mutual advantage. ;
– Could not the same be done without signing?
– Why should it be done without signing? The employer is responsible for the fares of the men, and if the agreements were not signed in the city there would be no obligation on the part of the men to sign on when they arrived at the station. I may saythat a good many of the stationowners in South Australia get on very well with the union’s principal representative, and for years there has been no trouble, the shearing going on like music until completion. Why should’ the men not be allowed to do as in the past, for, as the honorable member for Huntermust admit, it is a sound business proposition? That is proved by the successof the system.
– If there were a variation of the award covering the industry, would the persons who signed the agreement get the benefit of the variation?
– Undoubtedly. They would sign on in the terms of the award or any constitutional variation of it. My complaint is that men were not allowed to sign on under a recognised award.
– This amendment would not allow them to do that.
– It would; the agreement would be subject to the award existing up to the time of the engagement, or at the time of the shearing, if honorable members would prefer that. I am dealing with the complaint which has been in existence for the last year or two, and which has been a very great grievance. The men desired to sign on. They had worked on the same stations before, and knew that the owners were splendid employers.
– Does the honorable member think that even if the amendment were carried the men would sign on if the organization did not wish them to do so?
– Yes, certainly; because it would be the law and the men would be protected thereby. We are trying to get rid of industrial unrest, and this embargo in regard to signing on is one of the most unjustifiable things in connexion with industrial organization.
– What evidence of that has the honorable member?
– I have the evidence of both station-owners and shearers, and I was delighted when the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), at the instance of those engaged in the pastoral industry in Western Australia, submitted his amendment. On the grounds of business and common sense, the proposal should commend itself to honorable members on both sides.
.- I support the amendment. This will apply more particularly to shearing and canecutting and other seasonal industries. In Western Australia the custom has been from time immemorial for the squatters to sign on men at centres like Perth and Geraldton. The arrangement suits both sides, because the men desire to know the station to which they are going, and the squatters desire to know the complement of shearers. The object of the amendment is not trickery, but to insure that one of Australia’s greatest industries shall be allowed to progress without undue molestation and interference. The embargo on the signing on of the shearers disturbs the regular courseof business in the industry.
– Does not the honorable member see what will be the effect of it? Three-fourths of the shearers arereceiving higher wages than are prescribed in the award; other men are working for lower rates, and this amendment will legalize their action.
– I am perfectly agreeable to support an alteration of the amendment in order to insure that the signing on shall be subject, not only to the award ruling at the time of signing, but to any variation thereof before the shearing terminates.
– Three-fourths of the shearers are receiving rates that are not provided in an award, but are the subject of an agreement with the pastoralists.
– Why should not men be allowed to sign on with an employer if he agrees to keep within the four corners of an award, and the housing condition’s under the Act, and to abide by any variation that occurs during the course of the contract?
– The Court has never had a chance to amend the award in the shearing industry, but the new rates have been agreed to by three-fourths of the pastoralists.
– I understand that shearing in many parts of the Commonwealth has been held up simply because a new award has not been given, and the usual custom of signing on under the existing award has not been permitted. Some protection should be provided in those States in which the custom of signing on has been followed for so many years.
.- I oppose the amendment. It is cleat, particularly after the speech to which we have just listened, that the object of the proposal is to counter the Australian Workers Union in its efforts to obtain better conditions in the pastoral industry.
– That is not so.
– If the amendment is carried, even in the altered form suggested by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), it will have the ultimate effect of nullifying the agreement which has been entered into between most of the pastoralists and the shearers. In the pastoral industry, there is one award in existence in Queensland, and another award for the rest of Australia, with the exception of Western Australia and Tasmania. The latter specifies rates of pay considerably below those contained in the agreement entered into between the pastoralists and the Australian Workers Union. If the amendment were agreed to, it would prevent members of the organization from obtaining . the rates which the pastoralists have agreed to pay in every State except Queensland, where there is a separate award, and Western Australia and Tasmania, where there are local agreements, and the central and eastern portions of New South Wales. The dispute in central and eastern New South Wales is confidently expected to terminate this week by the pastoralists agreeing to pay the new rates, and conceding the forty-four-hour week. Under the award, which is in operation in that State, the working week consists of fortyeight hours; the Queensland award prescribes forty-four hours. It is very necessary that the men should be prevented from signing on prior to commencing work. As a shearer, I know the conditions prevailing in the pastoral industry, and I say that men should not sign any agreement until they have reached the shed and seen the conditions under which they will have to work. On more than one occasion, I have attended the roll-call, and been prepared to commence shearing, except that the conditions in the huts, and the kitchen, and the cooking conveniences, were so deplorable that no men would commence work until they were rectified. If the men have signed on, they have no option but. to commence work, and sue for a breach of the award. The shearing is finished, before the Court can be moved in regard to any breaches. The only way that men can enforce their legitimate claims is by insisting upon the conditions being satisfactory before they sign an agreement. The Arbitration Court has fixed the rates for shearing and shed labour, and the working hours, but has not fixed the price at which meat is to be supplied to shearers. Honorable members know perfectly well that if some employers can only bulldoze their employees into signing the agreement before the roll-call, they will have no chance of getting their meat at a reasonable rate. If some employers have men bound hand and foot under an agreement, they will not give them anything that they have been depriving their employees of for so long. I say, as one who has been through the mill, that the employers will do nothing for their employees but what they are forced to do. If a man has not signed the agreement, and demands meat at a reasonable rate, in 99 cases out of 100 he will get what he demands. I claim to know as much about shearing conditions as does any other member of the Com- mittee, and more than dd honorable members who sit in the Ministerial corner. That is proved by the statements which some of them have made to-night in this chamber. As one who understands everything connected with the pastoral industry, I say that the amendment, and the later amendment suggested by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) aim deliberate blows at the Australian Workers Union. It will not be in the best interests of that organization or of the pastoral industry if this amendment is carried. I oppose it, and I feel confident that the majority of honorable members will also oppose it.
– I desire to make a few observations on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). It looks very much as if this Federal Parliament, whose !duty it is to legislate within the powers it possesses under the Constitution, is being asked in this case to give a decision upon a matter that has been a subject of .contention in the Arbitration Court. In 1917 the Australian Workers Union were claimants in the Court, They asked the Judge .to decide -
That all shed hands shall be signed on at the advertised time of roll-call, and all vacant positions shall be ballotted for.
They asked that that condition should be inserted in the award by the Court. The Court turned down the application, and would not allow that condition to be put into the award. Then the organization made a rule of their own, which, as I am informed, is contained in the 1918 issue, to this effect -
Members may forward deposits for pens, but shall not sign agreement prior to rollcall. Members employed in the pastoral industry must sign the award agreement before commencing work at any shed, a duplicate of which they must retain in their possession. Members failing to comply with this rule shall be fined £2.
That is a rule which they agreed to amongst themselves, binding the members of their organization. Organizations have perfect liberty under the law to make rules and regulations to control their affairs. An application was made on behalf of the pastoralists for the cancellation of the registration of the Aus- tralian Workers Union as an industrial organization. The pastoralists did not really desire the deregistration of the union, but they were anxious that the Judge of the Arbitration Court should order this rule, which they regarded as objectionable, to be struck out of the rules of the organization, or that otherwise the organization should be deregistered. The application was to deregister, so as to compel the organization that made the rule to repeal it. The Judge refused that application on the ground that the rule was not contrary to law or to the requirements of the Act. That was an industrial dispute between two organizations to decide whether or not a particular thing should be done.
– The Judge said to the organization, “ I will not give you what you ask.” And the organization then said, “ We will take it.”
– Yes; but they took it in accordance with the powers they possessed under the law. They did nothing illegal in passing the rule objected to. This appears to have been an industrial dispute between two organizations, and now it seems to me that this Parliament is being appealed to to give a decision in this case. I have tried to look at the matter fairly, and from a non-party point of view. An appeal is made to this Parliament to do something which a Judge of the Arbitration Court refused to entertain. I say that this Parliament should not be made a Court of Appeal from an industrial tribunal.
– And we ought not to amend the law?
– Though we are doing it all the time.
– We are being asked to do something which, notwithstanding the opinion of counsel, it is doubtful whether we possess the power to do. We have the power to pass laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of a State. But we have not the power in this Parliament, by direct legislation, to settle disputes.
– Or even to inquire into them.
– Or even to inquire into them. That is the difficulty I see in connexion with the amendment.
– But we have power to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– We have; but only within our powers under the Constitution. We have not the power, by an amendment of the Act, to settle a dispute.
– Will the Minister say that Parliament could not do something to provide for a common-sense business agreement?
– So long as we direct our attention to conciliation and arbitration, we are within our powers. We can constitute Courts for that purpose.
– We have not the power to deal fairly with both sides.
– Yes, we have, by setting up a tribunal for the purpose. It is the function and duty of the Arbitration Court to settle a dispute; but that is not the function of this Parliament. If honorable members desire that we should have the power of regulation in industrial matters, they must bring about an amendment of the Constitution.
– The honorable gentleman does not contend that we have not the constitutional power to do what I ask?
– I say that it is a matter of grave doubt whether we have that power. The honorable member must realize that the matter with which he desires to deal has been the subject of an industrial dispute in the Arbitration Court. He should know that the Judge of the Court refused to insert in his award the condition to which I have referred, because he did not think it right to do so, and also refused to de-register the organization. That was distinctly for the Court to decide.
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) must have known that when he was speaking, and suppressed it.
– I am sure the honorable member for Dampier did not know anything of the sort. From what I know of him, that would not be in accord with his methods or tactics. I listened to him carefully, and I am sure that he put hit casefairly.
– Then he put it without a full knowledge of the facts.
– The honorable member may not have known all the facts. I suggest to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) that in this chamber we shall get on very much better if we do not impute motives to each other.
This appears to have been an industrial dispute in the Court, and the Court is the proper authority to decide it. We cannot do by legislation indirectly what we have not the power to do by a direct Act of this Parliament. That is the legal difficulty which arises in connexion with the amendment, and about which doubts have been expressed, and I therefore ask the honorable member for Dampier not to press it.
– Then the honorable gentleman contends that, under the Constitution, this Parliament has nothing to do with what an industrial organization does.
– The honorable member must not put the matter in that way. I say that where it is a matter of an industrial dispute which comes within the cognisance and the authority of a Judge of the Arbitration Court to decide, this Parliament should not be appealed to to make the decision. It is the intention of the Constitution to give this Parliament the power to pass laws to enable such a matter to be the subject of conciliation and arbitration, and not to give us the power to give a decision which should be given by a conciliation tribunal.
– I hope that the Minister will look into the matter carefully, because a very important question is involved.
– I shall look into it carefully. Much that the honorable member for Dampier said appealed to me. I was impressed by his suggestion that there should be as much freedom as possible given to men to take up employment so long as they do not violate an award. The shearing industry is a very important one, and as shearing is carried on in different places, it is very desirable that it should be possible to organize the labour available so as to secure the best results. But a consideration of the merits of any industrial matter in dispute between organizations is not a duty for this Parliament to undertake. In the circumstances, I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment, as it seems to me that it is doubtful whether we have the power to give it effect. The question has been looked into carefully by the law officers of the Commonwealth, but I give honorable members the assurance that I shall have it further considered.
– I am not satisfied with the explanation given by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom). I do not want to place my opinion against that of the Minister on constitutional questions, but it is absolutely inconceivable that a practical piece of common sense business which has been proceeding for the past twenty or thirty years or more should be outside the province of this Parliament. If the Minister’s statement is correct the sooner the Constitution is amended, if that is necessary, the better it will be, because it is simply an outrage.
– We have no power to pass direct legislation on labour matters throughout the Commonwealth. We cannot pass a common rule.
– Do I understand that the President of the Arbitration Court refused their request?
– Yes, because they were there on a question of conciliation and arbitration. It is left to his discretion.
– It is assumed that the President looked upon it as unreason able and would not sanction it.
– The honorable member’s point is that if the Court has power this Parliament ought to have the power.
– But it has not.
– This is not a party question, and I am contending for a principle that is as much in the interests of the shearers as it is in the interests of the employers. It is based on ordinary business methods, arid if we are going to submit to another principle that is likely to be a further impediment to industrial operations in this country it is time, in the public interest, that it was rectified.
– Will the honorable member explain how this amendment affects thepoint he is dealing with?
– It provides that the shearers shall sign an agreement and secure’ continuous work, and that is what they have been doing for twenty years.
Mr.Lavelle. - It means that they will be bound hand and foot before they go to a shed.
– Nothing of the kind. I am merely repeating what the shearers have told me. They do not want to bo handed over to the tender mercies of some individuals at the sheds. The practice has been in vogue for twenty or thirty years, during which time the Australian Workers Union has grown’ to the biggest thing of its kind in any part of the world. I am desirous of dispensing with that which is responsible for most of the industrial unrest in Australia, and I ask the Minister to allow this clause to be postponed to enable honorable members to ascertain whether his statement as to the power of this Parliament’ is correct or not.
Men of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to utter a word of protest concerning the. treatment meted out to some of theex-members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, “ M “ class, who were disbanded on the eve of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Adelaide. I have endeavoured to find an opportune time to bring this matter before the House, and I thought I would have an opportunity on grievance-day, but there was insufficient time.
The, men who were recently disbanded renderedvaluable service to Australia as members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade. Some had served from ten to thirty-three years, and notwithstanding this, were notified by circular from the Navy Office that the force was being disbanded, and that they were to report themselves on29th July to receive one year’s retaining fee and their discharge.
I understand that no word of appreciationof their work has come from the Navy Office, and that the district naval officer was not in attendance when themen were disbanded. Whilst an apology . was tendered on behalf of the district naval officer for his Absence, there has been a lack of recognition of the valuable services rendered. They werecalled up in 1914 by proclamation, and performed very valuable work in guarding wireless stations, on various merchantmen, and on enemy vessels lying in our ports. They were subjected to many disabilities, and had to work excessively long hours, for which they received very little orno recognition in the way of extra pay. I have in my possession a statement which shows that on many occasions’ they were required to work many more than eight hours, and that some of them were not in receipt’ of more than an able seamen’s pay of 5s. per day. The claim these men make that they should come under the provisions of the war-time measures thathave been passed by thisHouse in recognition of services rendered is worthy of consideration. A number of the men were drafted overseas, and. of course, there were others in the same brigade who were compelled to remain in Australia, although they desired to go abroad. Naturally, they feel that they have as good a claim for consideration by the Government as some of those who rendered service abroad by taking work on transports, and who are allowed to participate in the benefits provided under the Repatriation Act, War Service Homes Act, War Gratuity. Act, and other measures. Some of the men were employed in isolated places such as Neptune Island andCape St. Albans for monthsat a. time, and many of them were compelled to give up permanent employment, which they could not regainon being disbanded. Honorable members will recognise that in consequence of the service they were compelled to render they had to make sacrifices in regard to seniority and inother ways. I trust the Government will give favorable considerationto my request, and see that the men will be able to receive benefits under the measures that have been passed to assist soldiers. There aremany details which. I could bring before the House, but in consideration for honorable members and the hours . they are required to sit, I shall content myself by saying that there is every justification for giving the case of these men further consideration. I trust the Minister for the Navy (Mr.Laird Smith) will investigate the claims of men who have rendered such valuable service, not only during the war, but in times of peace, and who, on the outbreak of hostilities, were subject to compulsory service by proclamation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 August 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200831_reps_8_93/>.