8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Statement as to Compulsion.
– There appears in this morning’s newspapers a report of a statement made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) inregard to the second
Peace Loan, and as to the possibility of the Government bringing in a measure to provide for compulsory subscriptions to it. I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it would not be wiser to refrain from making such a threat. If the Government have any such project in view, would it. not be better for them to at once bring in legislation to that end, so that all classes of the community would appreciate the situation, instead of allowing the cunning division to refrain from making applications while the general public are rushing in with their subscriptions ?
– So far as I am aware, nothing unusual has occurred. My impression is that on the occasion of the last loan very distinct statements were made that compulsion would be resorted to if the amount asked for were not fully subscribed. We have to get this money. We have already incurred commitments which have to be met, and if we cannot obtain the money by voluntary subscriptions, we shall stillhave to get it.
Submission of Constitutional Questions to the High Court.
Mr.FENTON . - Seeing that the Judicature Act empowers the Government to submit to the High Court questions to determine the constitutionality of certain measures, I desire to ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the decision given by the Court on Tuesday last, they intend to avail themselves of that power?
– The Government propose, first of all, to obtain a copy of the judgment, and, having read it, to take such action as may appear necessary.
– Has the Treasurer seen in the press a statement that the Budget will include a proposal to reduce the postal rates? If so, will he explain why information as to the contents of the Budget is given in advance to the newspapers?
– No information has been given.
– But is it a fact that an alteration in the postal rates is to be made ?
– My honorable friend, with his thirty years of parliamentary experience, knows that no such information could be given.
Income Tax: Average Basis - Entert ainments Tax: Victory F?te.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether anything definite has been done or is contemplated in connexion with altering the present system of charging income tax so far as farmers and graziers are concerned, especially as regards the averaging of their incomes over a series of years instead of annually?
– The matter is receiving the earnest consideration of the Government.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Proposals in regard to air defence will shortlybe placed before Parliament. As already indicated, a further preliminary step is the assumption by the Commonwealth of the responsibility for the regulation of air traffic. With the agreement of the Premiers of the States, action to this end is progressing.
Payments to Suspended Officals
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– Salary at ?1,750 per annum, and allowance at ?500 per annum from date of appointment, 25th March, 1912, to 31st November, 1919, date of termination of services as Administrator of Northern Territory - salary, ?13,452 6s. 4d.; allowance, ?3,843 10s. 6d.
Mr. H. E. Carey Salary from date of appointment, April, 1912; to 31st March, 1919, ?3,687 10s.; salary as Director of Northern Territory from 1st August, 1919, to 16th April, 1920, ?712 17s.; allowance of ?100 per annum as Public Trustee and Inspector of Northern Territory Income Tax, 1st July, 1914, to 31st March, 1919, ?475; allowance of ?100 per annum as Deputy Federal Commissioner of Taxation, 1st July, 1910, to 30th September, 1918, ?225 4s. 9d.
Mr.R. J. Evans Salary from date of appointment, 2nd June, 1913, to 16th April, 1920, ?3,717 15s. 6d.; allowance of ?100 per annum as Public Trustee and Inspector of Northern Territory Income Tax, 1st April, 1919, to 16th April, 1920, ?104 12s. 5d.; allowance of ?100 per annum as Deputy Federal Commissioner of Taxation, 1st October, 1918, to 16th April, 1920, ?154 9s.; allowance of ?75 per annum as Deputy Food Prices Commissioner, 1st January, 1918, to 14th June, 1919, ?109 3s. 4d.; allowance for audit of Northern Territory accounts, financial year 1918-19, ?12 10s.
Mr. H. E. Carey Salary from 17th April to 18th August, the date of latest payment - ?337 19s.11d.
Mr. R. J. Evans Salary from 17th April to 18th August, the date of latest payment ?235 0s. 6d.; allowance as Public Trustee and Inspector of Northern Territory Income Tax, ?35 7s. 7d.; allowance as Deputy Federal Commissioner of Taxation (ceased 18th June, 1920), ?17 8s. 4d.-?287 16s. 5d.
The following amounts were paid to the several officials for travelling expenses during their term of service in the Northern Territory -
Travelling inside Northern Territory -
Judge Bevan, ?29 8s.; Dr. Gilruth, ?906 6s.; Mr. H. E. Carey, ?120 5s. 10d.; Mr. R. J. Evans, ?52 3s. 4d
Travelling outside Northern Territory -
Judge Bevan, ?89 4s.; Dr. Gilruth, ?1,649 18s. 6d.; Mr. H. E. Carey, ?141 8s. 4d.; Mr.R. J. Evans, ?13111s. 3d
The following payments have been made to the officials concerned, in connexion with the sittings of the Royal Commission: -
Judge Bevan (expenses), ?69 ls.1d.: Dr. Gilruth (expenses) ?376, (legal expenses) ?553 12s. 6d.; Mr. Carey (expenses), ?67 17s. 9d.; Mr. Evans (expenses), ?37 15s.
The amounts paid to Dr. Gilruth are exclusive of sums paid by the Trade and Customs Department in connexion with investigations abroad not directly connected with the Northern Territory, but carried out by him during his final leave of absence and since the termination of his appointment as Administrator of the Northern Territory.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the House a copy of the judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs in connexion with the Ballarat election appeal?
– Printed copies of the judgment are being obtained, and in the course of a few days will be either laid on the, table or circulated among honorable members.
The following papers were presented : -
Wireless Telegraphy Committee, Imperial, 1919-20 - Report (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Ordered to be printed.
Customs Act - (Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 149.
– The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) yesterday asked me a question as to the basis upon which the wool dividend would be paid. I have ascertained that, for all practical purposes, the dividend will work out at 5 per cent. on the appraised value. Thus, every wool-grower will know that he is to expect 5 per cent. on the appraised value of his wool.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-1914, and for other purposes.
– Would the right honorable gentleman tell us what is provided for in the Bill?
– It is a proposal to transfer the note-issue Department from the Treasury to the Commonwealth Bank - to institute a separate noteissue Department within the Bank, and to place the entire administration of the notes in the hands of independent Commissioners.
.- I thank the right honorable gentleman for the information he has given the House, and am very glad that, when such information is asked for at this stage of a Bill, it is now being supplied. We are thus enabled to form a conclusion as to whether steps should be taken, either to broaden or narrow the order of leave, or to define specifically the purpose that we wish to achieve.
– The honorable member might narrow, but he could not broaden, the order of leave very much.
– Having regard to theinformation which the honorable gentleman has given us, I think it could be broadened. He has shown that the purpose of the measure is somewhat narrow - that it is not exactly proposed to hand over to the Commonwealth Bank the power to issue notes. That power is to he vested in some other body.
– But the title of the Bill is “ A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act.”
– The Bill provides for something different from the mere hand ing over of the right to issue notes to the Commonwealth Bank. It provides that that work shall be carried on by a body of Commissioners.
– Are those Commissioners to control the Bank ? The honorable member might put that question to the Treasurer, since a member sitting in the Ministerial corner can get no information.
– The Treasurer, perhaps, will tell the honorable member whether the Commissioners are to control the Bank.
– I shall circulate the Bill as soon as this motion is carried.
– This is a very important measure, vitally affecting large sections of the community, and, at this stage, we should provide for a broader amendment of the principal Act. The Commonwealth Bank is a great institution, and every credit is due to the Government which established it; but we should provide for such an amendment of the Act as would make the institution still more useful and better fitted than it is at present to serve the interests of the great body of the public.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member, but that is too big a subject to be dealt with in this Bill.
– Then, perhaps, the honorable member will accept an amendment to give effect to my suggestion.
– We have as much business on the notice-paper as we can possibly deal with.
– But the matter to which I refer would occupy the attention of the House for a very little time. It concerns the interests and welfare of so large a section of the public that I am satisfied no honorable member would oppose my suggestion. Let us get to it as soon as possible.
.- Being very anxious that the Commonwealth Bank should be a bank in the truest sense of the word - one that will assist every section of the community, and particularly those engaged in rural industries, as well as those desirous of building homes for themselves, I propose to move -
That after the figures “1914 “ the following words be inserted, “ with a view to establishing the Commonwealth Bank as a bank of issue, deposit, exchange, and reserve, with non-political management, and so as to provide for a comprehensive system of home loans and rural credits.
– That is surely intended by the Treasurer.
– If so, we shall have no difficulty in inducing him to accept my amendment. My proposal is in accordance with the platform of the Labour party, which maintains that the Commonwealth Bank should have been established originally on these lines. I feel sure that the amendment will receive the support of honorable members generally. If the Commonwealth Bank had been established on these lines - if provision had been made for a system of rural credits - the agricultural industry would have been in a better position than it is today. The hardships and privations which the men on the land have suffered during the last two or three years is common knowledge. I ask the representatives of country constituencies, who are familiar with the conditions prevailing there, whether the farmers would not have been in a much better position than they are to-day if they had been able, during the past three or four years, to secure these facilities through the Commonwealth Bank, instead of being compelled, as many of them have been, to sell their wheat scrip at greatly reduced rates. Honorable members who have any knowledge of rural industries, or represent farming constituencies, are well aware that the farmers of Australia have been robbed of hundreds of thousands of pounds of the value of their produce.
– Does the honorable member think that this is a fair thing ?
– I wish the right honorable gentlemanwould not try to make a speech sitting down.
– I wish the honorable member would not waste the time of the House in this way.
– If the right honorable gentleman would agree to accept my amendment-
– I will do nothing of the kind.
– If the right honorable gentleman would agree to accept the amendment it would be unnecessary for me or any other honorable member to continually belabour the Government in order to force them into doing the right thing for the man on the land.
– Surely what the honorable member proposes will be found provided for in the Bill.
– I hope that it will, but I desire to make doubly sure that the Commonwealth Bank shall be placed in a position to carry out the functions it was intended to perform when it was established. I was saying, when the Treasurer interrupted me, that honorable members who represent farming constituencies know that since the initiation of the Wheat Pool the farmers have been compelled by force of economic circumstances to sell their wheat at a great sacrifice. As a consequence, we find many men going off the land, and land is going out of cultivation for wheat. This is solely and simply due to the fact that men cannot profitably carry on rural industries.
– I hope that the honorable member will curtail his remarks.
– If farmers were able to avail themselves of the facilities which might be afforded by the Commonwealth Bank should my amendment be agreed to, we should find men returning to the land and engaging in rural production. The same story of lessened production is heard from every rural district, and it is solely and simply because the farmers are not able to finance their operations as they should be.
– I think that will do. I move -
That the question be now put.
– I rise to apoint of order. I wish to raise the question whether it is competent for an honorable member to move that the question be now put whilst another honorable member is speaking. I understand that it is competent whilst an honorable member is speaking to move that he be no further heard ; but I do not think that the motion that the question be now put can be moved while an honorable member is addressing the House.
– If the honorable member will turn to the Standing Orders, he will see that the motion that the question be now put may be moved at any time, whether an honorable member is addressing the Chair or not.
Question - That the question be now put - put.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented (by Sir Joseph Cook), and read a first time.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an act to approve the agreement made betweenHis Majesty’s Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and Basil Lathrop Murray, of Perth, in the State of Western Australia, managing director of the Westralian Farmers Limited, and for other purposes.
– It is quite unusual to introduce a Bill to authorize an agreement with a private person. Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will explain what is the nature of the Bill.
– This is not an agreement with a private person merely because we are concerned in it. I could not explain the measure in half-an-hour. Honorable members had better wait to see the Bill. It will not be brought on for consideration for a fortnight or three weeks. It deals with the question of bulk handling in Western Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented (by Mr. Hughes), and read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1st September, vide page 4078) :
Motion (by Mr. Groom) again proposed -
That the following new clauses be added: - “ 4a. Section eleven of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof ‘ and such Deputy Presidents as are appointed in pursuance of this Act.’ “ “ 6a. After section eighteen 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.
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 for the hearing and determination of any dispute or part of a dispute.
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.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Court shall not have jurisdiction to make an award -
increasing the standard hours of work in any industry, or
) reducing the standard hours of work in any industry to less than fortyeight hours per week or, where the standard hours of work in any industry are less than forty-eight hours perweek, reducing the standard hours of work in that industry, unless the question is heard by the President and not less than two Deputy Presidents, and the increase or reduction, as the case may be, is approved by a majority of the members of the Court by whom the question is heard.”
.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) drew my attention last evening to a particular aspect of the proposed new clause, and I promised to make an amendment of it to give effect to the intention I expressed last night, and have done so. The new clause before the Committee is clause 4a, but there are two clauses which have to be taken together, and I think it will be convenient if the Committee deals with both in the one discussion, since they are related to each other.
.- This is a very important amendment, and honorable members who intend to record a vote upon it should be present, and give their attention to the discussion. The clause will have a very far-reaching effect. I do not make that statement without a good reason. It is difficult to understand why such an amendment is introduced at this juncture. When the Bill was drafted, the Government evidently had not thought of this matter at all. We were told that it was necessary to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in certain respects to meet objections raised by the Judges of the Arbitration Court and other persons concerned in the matter of arbitration. The Minister has not told us who recommended this amendment. It would be interesting to know whether it was based on the recommendation of the President of the Court, or whether the industrialists asked for it. It would be particularly interesting to know whether it emanated from the employers.
Let us know where we stand in regard to this matter.
– Give the Minister a chance to tell us; he surely will do that.
– The Minister has had an opportunity, and he has not told us one word in justification of this drastic innovation. Not much exception can be taken to the earlier part of the proposed new clause 6a, which enables the President to ask for a deputy or deputies to sit with him in the hearing of any plaint. But sub-clause 4 states - “(4.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Court shall not have jurisdiction to make an award -
This is an entire departure from all previous industrial legislation. In the past we have been content to leave to the President of the Court, or whoever was appointed to adjudicate on an industrial dispute, the right to decide according to the evidence what conditions should be awarded. The amendment takes away that right, for it says that the President may no longer deal with any plaint in regard to hours; he must call. to his assistance two deputies, and the verdict must be by a majority of the Court.
– There must have been a strong recommendation to induce the Minister to introduce such an amendment.
-Sofar we have heard nothing of the origin of the amendment, but it is obvious that it was drafted in such a hurry that consideration was given to only one side of the question. The clause as drafted imposed this limita tion in regard to unions which applied for a reduction or increase of hours,but employers whose workmen were now working less than forty-eight hours per week could apply to one Judge to increase the hours; should the employees, however, ask that the hours be reduced, the President must call to his assistance two Deputies. This peculiarity about the drafted clause was pointed out last night by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), and the Minister has now proposed to amend it. But does not the draft show that the clause was designed by somebody who is not in sympathy with the working class? We want to know who that person is.. The proposal conveys only one impression, and that is that it originated in circumstances that are not conducive to the promotion of industrial peace.
-We shall probably ascertain this afternoon who drafted it, after there has been a good, long discussion.
Mr.CHARLTON.- I hope the Committee will never agree to this proposal. To-day less than forty-eight hours per week is worked in very many industries.
Mr.Prowse. - That is a great mistake.
– That is the honorable member’s opinion. I suppose he thinks that reduced hours mean reduced production. I shall show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that in those industries in which hours have been reduced the production has been increased.
Mr.Prowse. - Is there no limit to that theory ?
Mr.CHARLTON.- We may come to a limit, but we have not reached it yet. Nobody can argue that forty-four hours per week is below the limit of a profitable working week. Is it to be contended that in this enlightened age, when all the discoveries of science and the benefits of mechanical invention have been brought to the aid of industry the workers should continue to work as many hours as they did under the old conditions? If so, the workers are to derive no advantage from scientific and mechanical progress. Amongst the workers who work less than forty-eight hours per week are the members of the Australian Workers Union, one of the largest organizations in Australia, the rubber workers, wharf labourers, flour millers, textile workers, some printers in newspaper offices (42 hours), Commonwealth clerical officers (36J hours) temporary clerks (36? hours) letter-carriers (44 hours), and telegraphists (36? to 42^ hours). Reduction of hours is a live question throughout the industrial world, and, in Australia, as in other countries, an effort has been made since the war to improve the general conditions of labour. I think almost all the unions throughout Australia have decided that the hours of labour should be reduced, and that the reduction should be brought about without causing any upheaval. The majority of them are prepared to depend upon constitutional methods, but there are others who urge that the workers will gain nothing from constitutional procedure, and their case is being strengthened by the amendment, which positively invites trouble. To-day the President of the Arbitration Court (Mr. Justice Higgins) is conducting an inquiry in regard to the hours of labour; the case is part heard. According to this morning’s newspaper report of yesterday’s proceedings -
Francis Richardson, organizer for the VictoriaRiverina branch of the Australian Workers Union, stated that the Australian Workers Union had 100,000 members in Australia, of whom about two-thirds enjoyed the forty-four-hour week under State and Commonwealth Arbitration Court awards. Giving figures to show the extent to which the shorter working week had already been adopted, witness said that about COO direct and indirect employees of the Metropolitan Board of Works were working forty-four hours a week. The same was true of 1,000 gardeners, 2,000 quarrymen, 400 cement workers, and 1,400 miners in Victoria.
I find also, and this is very important, that -
According to Arthur Long, secretary of the Boot Trades Employees Union, there has been an agitation for many years to secure a fortyfourhours week.
Mr. Justice Higgins. Has any demand been made ?
– Yes, since you made your award in 1910 there has been a continual demand.
Mr. Justice Higgins. I recollect that at the time I refused an application for a forty fourhours week.
It was stated by Mr. Long that in 1913 there was a conference with the employers, at which the employees asked for a forty-four-hours week. The request was refused. At the time he urged that for the sake of permanent peace* in the industry the concession should be granted, but still the employers held out, saying they could not think of agreeing to a reduction of hours.
Since then the extreme section of the employees, which was always opposed to arbitration, had gained in numbers. This section maintained that the workers could get no consideration from the Court as far as a reduction of hours was concerned, and that the only way to secure what was desired was by a policy of direct action.
That is the very thing we are assisting by this amendment.
To such an extent had this feeling grown, that the Federal executive decided to take a ballot of members of the organization as to whether they were in favour of an endeavour to secure redress through the Arbitration Court or by other means. The result of the ballot was:- Yes, 5,181; No, 1,249.
Early in this year, continued Mr. Long, the agitation was resumed, many taking the stand that direct action should be taken to secure a shorter week. In some factories meetings of employees were called to discuss what action should be taken, and various resolutions were carried, some going so far as to ask that the factories should be closed on Saturdays. “ I hope you understand,” interposed Mr. Justice Higgins, “ that I do not take this evidence as influencing my judgment. I am only taking it as showing that the employees in the boot trade are equally earnest with the timber workers in getting forty-four hours.”
That is the evidence adduced before the Court only yesterday. In addition to the workers mentioned the miners, whose organization has a membership second only to that of the Australian “Workers Union, work only forty-four hours in one week from bank to bank, and forty hours in the next week. I hope that the time will shortly come when there will be a further reduction of the hours of men who have to work in the bowels of the earth. In what position are the Government placing Mr. Justice Higgins? One case in Melbourne is sub judice, and I was informed last evening by Mr. Holman, member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, that the timber workers in that State are awaiting the decision of the Arbitration Court upon this very question of a reduction of working hours. If Parliament, at this stage, passes an amendment such as that before the Committee, will it not be casting a reflection upon the Court? I know that if I were in the position of Mr. Justice Higgins, and had dealt with these matters from the very inception of the Court, I would consider that Parliament had cast a reflection upon me by enacting that I should not, in future, be intrusted with the fixing of working hours.
– The amendment transfers the functions of the Court to the majority in this Parliament.
– There can be no denying that this amendment interferes with the judgment of the President. He has dealt with case after case; he has given dozens of awards which have fixed the hours of labour, and now Parliament is asked to pass legislation which will compel him, notwithstanding that he is in the middle of the hearing of a case, to have two Deputies on the Bench with him.
– Not only is it a reflection on the President of the Court, but the case now before the Court will have to start de novo.
– Suppose that Mr. Justice Higgins decides that the hours should be reduced, what will be the position? I should think that if this amendment is agreed to and an appeal were lodged on the ground that such decision was contrary to this legislation, the award would be declared invalid. Throughout the world there is a general desire on the part of the workers for a reduction of hours. This Parliament established a Court to deal with that question. Only a fortnight ago this House passed legislation with the object of expediting the business of the Court. How can the business be expedited if we agree to this amendment? The Minister told us recently that a very large number of cases had been listed for the Court, and that the Government desire to get the list reduced, so that the cases may be dealt with expeditiously. Supposing there were forty cases before the Court, I am prepared to say that if an investigation were made it would be found that fully thirty would relate to the hours of labour. In fact, I hardly know of a case that comes before the Court in which the question of hours to be worked does not arise. If there were thirty cases awaiting hearing in which the hours to be worked had to be inquired into, we should have at once to appoint two Deputy Judges to assist the presiding Judge in each case, which would mean that the work would not be expedited in any way. I ask the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) how many Judges will have to be appointed if the Government are anxious to clear the sheet in an expeditious manner ? If there are thirty plaints involving the question of hours before the Court, and three Judges are required in each case to deal with the work expeditiously, it would mean that at least ninety Judges would have to be engaged to clear the sheet. We do not desire to overload the work of the Court, but surely any one can see that if three Judges are required to deal with a particular case in which hours are involved it will be difficult to facilitate the hearings. I ask the Government in all sincerity to seriously consider this matter, and explain why a distinction should be made in this case when other cases can be heard by one Judge. I ask honorable members to consider this matter irrespective of party, and to realize what the effect of an amendment such as this will be, particularly in view of the fact that there are so many industrialists outside who take an extreme view, and who hold that arbitration has failed. As Mr. Long has said, in the evidence I have quoted, they have been endeavouring to keep down the direct actionists. What will the result be if we change the method of procedure, so that it will be necessary for three Judges instead of one to deal with all plaints in which the question of hours is involved? What will be the impression conveyed to the minds of the general public? It is of no use mincing matters. We have been endeavouring to combat industrial trouble. I had hoped that we had crossed the stile, and that there was some prospect of everything proceeding satisfactorily. This amendment has evidently been ill-considered. A leading citizen in discussing the question with me said that great danger was involved, because he did not think the industrialists would adhere to arbitration if it was to be carried out in this way. Are changes to be made from time to time to suit the convenience of certain people?
– It affects all trades.
– The Treasurer knows as well as 1 do that it, of course, affects all trades, and that in the past, when a question of hours was involved, the case was always dealt with by a Court consisting of one Judge. If the position has been satisfactory in the past, and it has not been shown that it has not, why is it necessary to make a change? I speak from, experience, and the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), who has an intimate knowledge of the coal business, knows as well as I do that a reduction of hours does not necessarily mean a decreased output. I entered a colliery as a , lad of fourteen years, when we worked from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening, which meant toiling from daylight until dark. In the winter time we saw very little sunshine, and in summer we had a glimpse of the sun only in the morning and in the evening. It was said at that time that it was absolutely necessary to work that number of hours, and that a shorter day would interfere with production. We continued to agitate, and after years of strenuous work received a reduction of one hour, and we produced more coal when working nine hours per day than we did when working ten hours. I am quite prepared toprove that statement. Sincethat time there has been further agitation for a reduction, and to-day there is an eight-hour day from bank to bank-
– But there must be a limit.
– Yes, but we have not reached that limit. Statistics will show that in a working day of eight hours from bank to bank the production per man is much larger, notwithstanding the fact that the hours worked are less.
– If the pit is drawing eight hours, and that period is reduced by two hours, it means decreased production.
– Although the hours have been reduced, the production per man is greater, and the output also is greater than it has ever been in the history of our coal mines. It is a question of greater efficiency and improved mechanical methods. What is the advantage of having more up-to-date appliances, with a view to maintaining a reasonable output, if we cannot have a reduction of hours? Those who have to toil in the bowels of the earth should have as much sunshine as we can possibly give them. So long as we do not interfere with the production, there is no reason why the hours should not be decreased. We have not reached that point-
– How is that point to be arrived at?
– That will regulate itself. When a case comes before the Court the employers and employees submit their claim, and evidence is heard from both sides. It is on the evidence adduced that a decision is arrived at. The Government are now desirous of upsetting the acknowledged method whereby these cases have been dealt with. With the exception of plaints relating to hours, one Judge is apparently considered sufficient.
– There must be some good reason for submitting an amendment such as this.
– If there is the Government have notgiven it. Honorable members should not be carried away by party views, but should be prepared to mete out justice in a proper manner. Let us do something to enable those loyal workmen, who are in favour of adopting constitutional methods, to have their grievances redressed in a proper manner. I can see a good deal of trouble ahead if we are not particularly careful.
– I would like the honorable member to discuss this aspect of the question: Does he think that by reducing the number of hours in the collieries we shall be assisting in meeting the world’s shortage of coal?
– I have never been in favour of reducing the output, and I have already shown that reduction of hours has not had that effect.
– What will be the result if the working hours are reduced from eight to six ?
– The Treasurer thinks that by reducing the working hours the production would be decreased. I will argue the matter in another way. This House, at the instigation of the Treasurer and the members of his party, only last week passed a measure which will permit one individual, sitting as Chairman of a Tribunal, to deal with such questions as this.
– I think this House should settle the question of working hours.
– Let us look at this matterfrom the view point of consistency. This House has already decided in the Industrial Peace Bill that, so far as industrial matters are concerned, in the event of a dispute there shall be so many representatives from each side, and that a Chairman shall be appointed by the Governor-General in Council. Every one knows that the representatives of the two parties will put their case, and it will then be left to the Chairman, whoever he may be - he may not be a Judge at all - to decide the question of hours to be worked. If it is decided that the hours shall be reduced to, say, six, he has the power to order a reduction, but all other unionists who appear before the Arbitration Court on the question of working hours will have to have their cases decided by three Judges. Where is the consistency? I am glad the Treasurer has given me an opportunity of bringing this aspect of the question before the House.
– The honorable member has made a reply which is not a reply.
– I have shown the exact position. There will be no reduction in output. Each case will be decided on the evidence adduced. We should know who is responsible for this amendment, as we never heard of it until the Minister for Works and Railways brought it forward last night. Apparently it was not thought of when other amendments were under consideration, and it is even now being amended at the instigation of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). This is a serious matter, and the Government will be well advised if they decide to withdraw the proposal. I am as anxious as any honorable member that industrial peace should be preserved, and I shall later test the feeling of the Committee, as I intend to move that all the words in the amendment after “Deputy President,” in sub-clause 3, be left out.
– Technically we are dealing only with 4a, but perhaps we could take theclauses as a whole.
– I am prepared to agree to that.
– I think we shoulddeal with the whole matter.
.- I hope the Government will abandon their proposal. I am in touch with labour organizations in New South Wales, and I can inform the Committee that the whole of the building operatives in that State work forty-four hours a week, with no work on the Saturday. For several years in the same trade in
Victoria the week has been made up of forty-four hours; in short, that is an established principle. The proposal of the Government means a retrograde step, and with the present demand for houses, and the scarcity of, labour, it constitutes a direct challenge to those who support the shorter week. In the iron trade, too, the’ rule is forty-four hours, and owners of factories have voluntarily closed on Saturdays in order to avoid the expense of getting up steam for a short day. The whole tendency in the industrial world is towards a reduction in the hours of labour, and that is only natural. What is the good of the inventive mind of man, if the workers do not reap some of its advantages? The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) has urged that production ought to be increased; but I can meet that gentleman’s argument with an illustration from the boot trade, which has been completely changed by the introduction of machinery. In my early days, every boot was made on the knee, and it took a man a day to turn out a pair; but now, if we go into a factory, we see a dense mass of machinery, and find that the cost of labour for turning out a pair of boots is only 3s.
– Yet boots to-day are dearer than ever.
– Yes, and we know the reason. It is not because of increases in wages, which have been cut almost to the minimum. As a matter of fact, only about half-time is being worked just now, owing to over-production. The operatives went to the Arbitration Court for a forty-four-hour week, but were refused on the ground that production ought not to be hampered. The result, as I say, is that, in my district, where there are many boot factories, only half-time is being worked, due to lack of orders.
– At the same time, with high prices, there are less boots.
– That is because the Government have neglected to deal with the profiteers. I find from the English journals that all over the Continent there have been, since the war, large reductions in the hours of labour. We were told that the war was waged to “ make the world worth living in “ - to make it “ safe for Democracy “ - and surely the workers of Australia should not be confronted with a counter attack represented by the present proposal of the Government. Why is this proposal made? Is the present Judge an imbecile?
– When an appeal is made to the High Court, is the inference drawn that other Judges are “ imbeciles “?
– No; but I think the Government are imbeciles for introducing this proposal.
– Order !
– I withdraw the wordit was a slip of the tongue. The timber workers of the whole of Australia have now a case before the Court, the subject of which is the hours of labour, and now, after several days’ hearing, when it is likely to come to a close, this Bill is .introduced. Is it with a view to preventing a decision being given by the Court in that case? I have lately been speaking with a man who is watching the case on behalf of the employees, and I can say that if this proposal is persisted in there will be one of the biggest strikes we have known.
– Is that a threat?
– Yes, and I daresay the “ threat “ will be backed up by action ; at any rate, so far as I am concerned, I should encourage the men to. go on strike.
– You are laying down the theory that from only one man can the employees get justice?
– I am laying down no theory. The honorable gentleman, as a Minister of the Crown, should look to the interests of the whole of the people, and not only to the interests of one section. What section has “ put up “ the Government .to make this proposal?
– No section that I know of.
– What does the honorable member think is behind the Government proposal?
– I should not like to say, but there is something wrong. The coal miners and other industrial workers throughout Australia are aiming at shorter hours, and the Treasurer has asked why this Parliament should not decide the question.
– Eight hours a day used to be on the platform of the Labour party.
– Yes; but we have now got beyond eight hours, and my view is that the Government ought to introduce a Bill dealing with the hours of labour. What has been the complaint of the Judge in the Arbitration Court? That he is given no lead or direction from Parliament on the question. Yet Parliament has never had the courage to legislate. When the Labour party were in power they had an opportunity, but did not take advantage of it, though they did try to enlarge their constitutional powers in regard to industrial matters. The Judge, as I say, has applied for a direction, or a lead, but all that is proposed is to hamstring him.
– How can we hamstring him 1 Will his two brother Judges hamstring him ?
– When the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) moved an amendment in my name to appoint two laymen assessors to assist the Judge the Government opposed it. Will the Treasurer tell me that a business man representing the employers’ side, and a practical operative representing, the employees, sitting with the Judge, would not be better qualified to decide suchquestions than any Judge of a Supreme Court or the High Court? The Judges themselves do not work forty-four hours a week, nor even thirty. The Government are making a big mistake in introducing this proposal. The Treasurer has said that we require more production.; in other words that we require more hours of labour.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself for making the suggestion.
– It is an honest interpretation of your remarks.
– You know it is not; it is pure political claptrap.
– It is nothing of the kind. So far from not producing enough, we are producing more than we can consume. If the Treasurer were on this side of the House, and a Labour Government introduced a Bill of this kind, with the effect of hampering the work of the Arbitration Court, I can imagine him throwing his arms about, and talking to the galleries and the press about the Government trying to -sacrifice the worker?.
When he was Leader of the Opposition he stirred things up, and the present Opposition are like children in comparison. If the Governmentpersist in this amendment I shall take my place amongst the industrialists, and ask them to enforce a fortyfourhour week. They have spent money to get intoCourt, and the case is almost settled, when the Government come down with this amending Bill. If Deputy Judges become necessary, as they will if this Bill be passed as proposed, all the evidence will have to be taken over again, and that means double expense. I hope the amendment will not be accepted.
.- I hope the Government recognise the serious consequences of an amendment of this description if it be passed into law. It is acknowledged throughout the world that there must be a decided change in regard to working hours and conditions. Australia has not led in this reform, for the lead has been given by other countries, and a step such as that proposed by the Government is retrogressive. There is nothing more likely to create dissatisfaction and discontent than to make the workers feel that they are hampered in their efforts to secure what they consider are just and more congenial conditions. I have knowledge of the monotony of work in the shop and the factory, and if by. any means hours can be shortened, without unduly interfering with production, we ought to find a way out of the difficulty. From the great improvements in mechanical appliances, with the consequential increased output, the workers have reaped little or no advantage. Almost the whole of the advantages which have resulted from the introduction of mechanical appliances as an aid to production have gone to the employing section of the community.
– Has not the introduction of those appliances tended to ease the burden imposed upon the workers?
– Very little. I believe that there has been an improvement in the standard of conditions which obtained ten years ago.
-Why, I have worked at the bench from 7.30 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock at night.
– The Minister for the Navy must, therefore, know that to work such hours in a factory is very monotonous. Even if an hour less per day were worked, the time would still be excessive. Far too frequently the working man goes to his employment when it is dark in the morning and does not return until it is dark in the evening. He should be able to enjoy a little of the sunshine, of which the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) spoke to-day.
– In what industries do men go to work when it is dark in the morning and return to their homes after it is dark in the evening?
– That was my own experience when engaged as an engineer.
-Was that the honorable member’s experience in connexion with his ordinary day’s work?
– Yes. I was obliged to leave my home towards daylight in the morning and it was after dark before I returned in the evening, although I lived not more than 4 miles distant from my place of employment.
– How many hours did the honorable member work?
Mr.MAKIN. - Forty-eight hours per week. I contend that, with the means which exist for facilitating production, forty-eight hours is an excessive week’s work. We ought to allow the workers of this country to share in the benefits which are conferred by the employment of mechanical aids to production.
– Everybody agrees with that statement.
– It is quite evident that the Government are not anxious to assist in that direction. If the amendment be carried,it will be very difficult for those who have advocated the principle of arbitration to continue to do so. Here it is proposed to deliberately place an obstacle in the way of the President of the Arbitration Court.
– The amendment declares that the conditions of labour shall be determined by the Court.
– But, whilst it is proposed to vest in one Judge the power to determine what wages shall be paid in an industry, it is intended that three Judges shall be required to determine what shall be the working hours. If the condition of the worker is to be improved, that improvement can come about only through the medium of shorter hours. The capitalistic section of the community recognise that. I can quite understand this amendment being submitted by the Government, because they stand behind vested interests. But certainly it will not be acceptable to the great majority of the people. I have no doubt that the employers of Australia have taken their cue from what has transpired in the Old Country, where a motion was recently carried by the Associated British Chambers of Commerce urging the Imperial Government to appeal to the Employers’ Federation to extend the working hours in order to make up the deficiency in production. The position to-day is that, during four and a half years of war, millions of men were producing nothing, but were actually engaged in the work of destruction. These men are rapidly being restored to civil occupations, and are assisting to bring about increased production. The result will be that normal conditions, from the stand-point of commodities which are actually required, must soon be restored.
– That is not the question which is involved here. The real question is whether a man will get less substantial justice from three Judges than he will from one Judge.
– There is a justifiable suspicion abroad that the Government are endeavouring to do all in their power to harass the President of the Arbitration Court. Under the amendment, I repeat, one Judge of that Tribunal will be able to determine what wages shall be paid in an industry, but three Judges will be necessary to decide upon the working hours to be observed in that industry.
– Is that an advantage or a detriment? Surely the question of whether it is better to have one Judge than three Judges is open to argument.
– In view of the congestion of business which has been experienced in the Arbitration Court during recent years, it is manifest that industrial organizations would be kept waiting for a very long time to obtain a judgment by three Judges of that Tribunal.
– We are anxiously waiting to hear one of the honorable mem ber’s leaders upon this point, because he is always appealing from one-man law to three-men law.
– I do not know what that has to do with my argument. I have endeavoured to impress upon the Government the serious nature of this proposal, and although I have been an ardent believer in the principle of arbitration, I feel that if the amendment be carried I shall have to revise that opinion.
.- I claim that I am able to approach this subject without bias.
Mr.Ryan. -We all do that.
– No doubt we all endeavour to do it. But, unlike some honorable members opposite, who claim that they represent only one section of the community, I hold that I represent all sections of the community, including both employers and employees. I am sent here by employers and employees, and my instructions really are that, when any question arises which affects the interests of either or both of those classes, I am to do what is fair. That is all that I am pledged to do. In regard to this amendment, I say that whoever suggests such a proposition must accept the onus of showing that it is necessary. I do not recall that, in the course of the introduction of this measure, the present amendment was in any way foreshadowed; yet it is an exceedingly important one. It is evidently an afterthought. I have listened most carefully to the Minister (Mr. Groom), and so far as I can gather, he has advanced no reason why the amendment should be accepted. Consideration of the amendment does not, from my view-point, involve a discussion upon whether or not there shall be a forty-four-hour week rather than a forty-eight-hour week. The question is, whether that matter should be determined by one Judge or more. Generally speaking, the more responsibility one can place upon the shoulders of a Judge, the better, where he has to determine such a matter as that which is involved in this amendment. No reason has been proffered by the Minister in support of the proposal that the question of the number of hours to be worked in an industry should be determined by three Judges rather than by one. Itis a matterof common knowledge, in our Courts of justice, that when a Judge is impressed with the difficulty of a. question which he has to determine, he frequently consults his brother Judges. Since Deputy Judges of the Arbitration Court have now been appointed, there is no reason ‘why - if ona of the Judges has to determine such a point as that in relation to the number of hours to be worked in an industry - he should not consult his colleagues
– The Judge also has the power to call in assessors to advise and assist him.
– That may be; but I do not see that there is .anything peculiar in the question of the number of hours te differentiate it from other factors, such as the rate of wages, or the conditions under which work is to be carried on.
– If there is, the Minister has not shown it.
– There may be a vital distinction; but, as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) points out, it has not been shown. My mind is still open. I merely desire, before being called upon to cast my vote, to have my mind fully informed; .and, at present, I see no reason why the amendment should be accepted. I repeat that it is a very important one. It seeks to impose a restriction on the power of the Judges of the Arbitration Court. At present they have the power to determine this question; but now it is sought, under cover of the amendment, to withdraw that power, and. to that extent, to restrict the power of the Judges; which is a serious matter. I do not believe - in determining a question of this kind - in dividing responsibility. If the matter of the number of hours to be worked in an industry comes before a Judge, we should place upon his shoulders the responsibility of making his determination; and, if the Judge finds that it is too great a responsibility, let him say so. But I am not aware that any Judge has indicated that he feels the burden of making such a determination to be too great.
– I should think that the matters to be determined in this inquiry would be much further reaching in their effects upon the community at large than most of the questions being decided by the High Court.
– Hours of work comprise only one of the many conditions to be established under which an industry is to be carried on.
– The honorable member holds that the power should reside, as far as possible, in one man. That appears to be an argument for the abolition of the High Court.
– I do not think so. Where difficult questions of law are involved it is necessary to have more than one Judge. Where we propose to establish a legal precedent it is well that the matter should be determined by the full strength of the Bench; but where we have to determine a question of this kind - which is not a legal question at all - then, as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has said, the duty of the Judge is simply to listen to the evidence put forward by each side, and to make up his mind, and shoulder the responsibility of determining what, upon the evidence adduced, is the fair thing.
Taking a broad view, I share the opinions expressed by several honorable members, that there is, rightly or wrongly, a suspicion in the minds of a great- many people that this proposition is aimed at the President of the Arbitration Court. Now, that is indirect. I do not like doing things in an indirect fashion; it involves special pleading. I have not yet heard the Treasurer (Sir ‘ Joseph Cook) address himself to the question; I hope he will do so, because, if any light is to be thrown upon it, it is his duty to furnish that light. Meanwhile, I repeat that unless I hear better reasons why the Committee should accept the amendment, it will be my duty to vote against it.
.- I share the opinion expressed by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in this matter, and would like to see the removal of the suspicions existing in the minds of a majority of honorable mem- . bers, and in those of the general public. When we remember that there is a movement to-day for the inauguration of a forty-four-hour week, and when we recall the personal friendship) existing between the Government and some employers outside, we are apt to feel that the Government have been moved in this particular matter tobenefit the personal interests of their outside friends. Why has this amendment been introduced at the last moment? The Government have not intimated that there is any good reason forits introduction other than in relation to the campaign for the institution of a forty-four-hour week. But that is no new movement. I was acquainted with the men who first sought to introduce the eight hourssystem in Australia. Those pioneers, although they instituted the eight-hour principle, really failed to achieve their purpose, which was for an eight-hour day for five days in the week, and for a four-hour Saturday. That is the true eight-hour principle, and is really a forty-four-hour week, of course. Every one must admit that the power of production is equal to-day to what it was twenty years ago. Production is actually, in many cases, 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. in advance of what it was in the bad old days of unrestricted working hours. How can honorable members on this side, who represent 80 per cent. of the people, persuade the latter to accept the Government’s arbitration and industrial peace projects in the face of such an amendment as that under consideration? Most honorable members - certainly, all of those who hail from New South Wales - know the attitude of the Judges and Deputy Judges of the State Arbitration Courts towards the workers generally. Those gentlemen, by their utterances in the past, have made their point of view perfectly clear. Many of their statements have shown that their minds are poisoned against any proposition for the improvement of the lot of the worker. The industrial section in Australia will continue to be dissatisfied with the existing situation, seeing that it can be proved that reduced hours and’ better conditions of labour actually tend to the enhancement rather than the restriction of production. Various other branches of our industrial life have obtained better conditions, and why should the Government practically at the last moment in the consideration of this Bill seek to insert a clause of this kind? If it is such a god-send, and will have such wonderful effects, why was it not included in the Bill as introduced? I have seen as much as most honorable members have of the underground engineering that goes on on the Ministerial side, and I am convinced that this proposal has come from persons outside, who are doing more to bring about direct action, although they are, perhaps, doing it unintentionally, than was ever done by those in the industrial movement. The moving spirits in this matter are men who are paid to look after the interests of the employing class. They are anxious to do something to justify the positions they occupy. I know everything from A to Z about the building trade, and I can assure honorable members that building contractors now get from 30 to 40 per cent. moreout of their men under the improved conditions than they got at any previous period. Are honorable members opposed to the movement to do away with Saturday work? If they are, let me tell them that Saturday is not going to be a working day in Australia much longer.
– Are we not going to milk the cows?
– I have been concerned with much more important occupations than the milking of cows, although I admit that it is one of those, things that must be done every day of the week. Does the honorable member go withouthis dinner on Sunday because of the Biblical prohibition ofSunday work ? I guarantee that he not only does not go without his Sunday dinner, but causes people to be employed to cook it for him. This proposal does notrepresent the action of the Government themselves. They have been moved by those who are opposing the shortening of the hours of labour. I often think that it is want of knowledge that actuates the people who take those views. If, like many honorable members on this side, they were students of social questions, they would never have attempted to introduce this clause. If it is put in, we, as constitutionalists who are in favour of mediation and mutual understanding, will have to drop that attitude. We will have to tell our people that the Bill, as passed, is so full of dangerous provisions that we must adopt another course. That would be a very serious thing for Australia, because I believe that in the hands of some people direct action would be a dangerous weapon. At the same time, we can find examples of direct action every day of the week in every phase of commercial life. Banks resort to it when they want to raise their rates of interest, and traders use it when they want to increase the price of their goods. The only people who are not allowed to use it in Australia, apparently, are the employees. They are supposed to go to the Arbitration Court, hut when they get there their women-folk are asked all sorts of futile and even impertinent questions. For instance, the wife of a worker is asked what she did with the odd 3d. that was left over after she had made up her calculations, or how many boot-laces she bought in the last three months. In the interests of the Bill itself, and to prevent their supporters from being put in a false position, the Government would be well advised to .withdraw this amendment and admit that they have made a mistake in yielding to the persuasions of their friends outside. I am confident that the main object of the amendment is to block the forty-four-hour movement. Those who think it will do so are making a grave mistake, because the forty-four-hour week is sure to come. If the clause is inserted, the usefulness of the Bill in the settlement of disputes between employers and employed will be gone. I admit that there must be some means of settling disputes, but this Bill will not do it unless the industrial section of the community are satisfied that it will give them justice. Above all things, we . must create confidence; but the people oan have no confidence in this Bill if it is to be used simply as an instrument of torture. Our object should be to pass a measure which will bring about a better understanding between those who produce and those who get the result of production in ‘the way of capital.
– I should very much prefer, before speaking on this question, to hear any explanation the Minister (Mr. Groom) has to give.
– I explained the clauses fully last night.
– Then I must be very dense, because I could not understand the honorable member’s explanation. We have had a surprise sprung on us this morning. A little while ago our grievance against the Minister was that he would not appoint sufficient Judges. A large number of industries were clamouring for the settlement of their disputes, and we had to make a noise in the House before we could induce, the Government to take action to relieve the congestion. Now we have this extraordinary proposal put before us, which will have the effect, seeing “that the question of wages and* hours are intermixed in every dispute, of sending every one of these industrial troubles before a Bench of three Judges. An important amendment of that kind is thrown on the table without any explanation, or, at least, with.OUt any explanation that satisfies me. I have no strong feeling in the matter, except that I cannot help hearing the rumours that go around about the likelihood of great industrial’ trouble. We are told by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), who ‘has inside knowledge, that it is very probable that the Government, unless they walk warily, will bring about the very thing we wish to avoid. The Government should be very apprehensive of doing anything to precipitate an industrial conflict, because we have had enough of that sort of trouble. It would be dreadful if a big strike were caused by some action of the Ministry in this Chamber. We had a very moderate and explanatory speech from the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and I fully expected to hear the Minister answer it. The honorable member for Hunter put to the Minister a number of queries, which seemed to me to be unanswerable. Probably the Minister will be able to answer them, but if he. cannot I shall vote with the honorable member for Hunter, because he made out a very good case. I know that a number of other honorable members are in the same boat as myself. We are seeking for information. I do not mind attending here for morning sittings ; but we have . certainly made a bad start this morning,- because most of the extra time has been devoted by honorable members to begging the Government to give some explanation and information about their new proposals. The fact that there seems to be a constant feud between Ministers and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) does not interest us in this corner except that we would like to see them go outside and settle it among themselves. The honorable member for West Sydney seems to raise contentious questions here, and the Government appear to resent it, and refuse to give honorable members generally the information to which they are entitled. The honorable member for Hunter asked the Minister across the table whether anybody had suggested this amendment, and what the reason was for bringing it down. Surely those are questions which ought to be answered. We all know the rumours that are going round about the President of the Arbitration. Court, and the friction that exists. We have also heard the statement that this amendment is meant as a blow at him. The Government, by asking us to vote for it, are asking us to take sides on something on which we think there should be no sides at all. It is a calamity that the Minister should be so obstinate after being appealed to all round. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who is a strong Government supporter, and tries to take a judicial attitude in all these matters, pressed the Minister and the. Government this morning to give him some information. We know that the Minister is a great authority on legal questions, and that the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has had practical experience of industrial matters. Why, then, have we to stand up one after the other and beg them to give reasons that ought to have been given at the very commencement? I am getting very tired of it. I say unhesitatingly that the honorable member for Hunter made out a very good case, and I cannot bring myself to give a vote that will probably have the effect, as we are told by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), of precipitating great industrial trouble. We have had enough of that already, and I urge .the Minister, even at this late hour, to accede to the requests that have been made to him. Why was not this amendment thought of before? This is hasty legislation, if ever anything was. Unless measures are, before being tabled, better thought out : than this one has been, we shall have to introduce a proper system of appointing committees to go into them before they are introduced, especially when they deal with technical matters. What do a lot of us know about coal mining? What is the use of trying to compare the conditions of the dairymen and the pastoral’ employees in my district, men who, a* one honorable .member said, get too much of the open air- and sunshine, with the conditions of the coal miners, who hardly ever seen the sun?
– The honorable member ought to- read the recent report of Mr. Campbell on the coal-mining industry in New South Wales. It will give him a very different idea of the conditions of the coal miners.
– I prefer to take the statement of the honorable member opposite, who has had practical experience.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– I regret very much that the Minister in charge of the Bill has not seen fit to throw a little more light on this matter. I shall listen with interest to what the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has to say on the subject, since his practical experience should enable him to give us some valuable information. As one who has not a thorough knowledge of mining, and one or two other industries more particularly involved, I was much impressed by the speech made by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), especially having regard to the electorate that he represents. Although honorable members may smile at the suggestion that a member’s judgment and views are ‘influenced by the interests of his electorate, I think that it is rightly and properly so. The honorable member for Hunter represents a big farming as well as a mining constituency, and he must have regard to the interests of the farmers as well as to those of the miners. I wish, if possible, to avoid the conflict which the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) suggested would take place if this proposal were agreed to. Owners of large factories and foundries controlling a great number of employees are under the. impression that a working week of five days is better in the long run than a sixday week, as the few hours worked on Saturday are not altogether satisfactory. While that may be so in so far as such industries are concerned, lie making of a common rule for a working week of five days would prejudicially affect the primary producers. For that reason I regret very much that the Ministers, to whom we look for guidance in this matter, have not answered the strong case put up by the honorable member for Hunter, who certainly appears to have had the best of the argument. I do not know why we should not follow.the lead he has given us. He has pointed out the danger of this proposal, and, in doing so, has been supported by the honorable member for South Sydney, who has a wide knowledge of industrial matters, and who assures us that the addition of this new clause to the Bill would probably result in an immediate crisis. X am sure Ministers, in common with honorable members generally, desire to avoid anything of the kind. The Minister in charge of the Bill must have at his fingers’ ends all the information we desire, and by supplying it to us he would shorten the debate. I would strongly object to any common rule in regard to the shortening of hours. It is not so much the number of hours worked as the actual work done with which we are concerned. It is the “go-slow’’ policy that causes trouble.
– What about piece-work for all industries?
– Piecework is better for both the employer and the employee in many cases, but the principle could not be applied to all industries. The Labour party have a deeprooted objection to the system.
– Not in respect to every trade. In the printing trade, for instance, piece-work prevails to a very considerable extent.
– I think the majority of the workers would prefer piece-work, but it is not possible in all avocations. I should object to a common rule.
– The Court has no power to make a common rule.
– Why did not the Minister comply with the request made by the honorable member for Hunter, that the information at his di?posal should be placed before ‘the Committee ? The questions asked by the honorable member are both difficult and important, and should be answered before we proceed to a vote. The honorable member has made out a case which, in the absence of further information, wiE compel men like myself, with open minds, to vote with him.
.- I listened very carefully to the statement made by the Minister (Mr. Groom) as well as to the speech made by the honorable . member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and cannot understand why this belated new clause should have been proposed, unless there is some very special reason for it. Is it an indirect move to overcome a difficulty raised by one Judge, or is it designed to determine a particular series of cases? It is universally recognised that it is a vicious principle to make a general rule to meet special cases. If it is assumed that a ‘ Judge is not impartial, there is a constitutional means of dealing with him. The Bench ought not to be packed in order to secure certain results. If three Judges are to be appointed to deal with the question of hours, they will have to sit continuously, because the hours worked in every industry must, in each case, be determined by the conditions operating in it. The proposed new clause will merely result in a duplication of the work of the Court. It will enormously increase the congestion of business, delay the settlement of industrial disputes, and probably bring about more strikes than have hitherto taken place. In the absence of a more valid reason than has been urged, for the passing of this new clause, I shall therefore adopt the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Hunter. In the case of rock-choppers a thirty hours’ week might be excessive. Physiological tests have shown conclusively that, in the case of men working machines in big factories, the element of fatigue enters very largely into the question of the number of hours per week during which, they should be employed. In such cases, the best results might not be obtained from a working week of more than forty hours, whereas men employed in the open air might be able to work sixty hours per week without suffering any appreciable ill-effect or impairing the value of their work. I fail to see how the appointment of two additional Judges to sit with the President of the Arbitration Court will help us in any way. I could understand a proposal for the appointment of two assessors ito .assist him in dealing with statistics or .physiological data, but I do not think the appointment of additional Judges will help him.
– If we had two assessors, the decision would still be left with the J udge, because there would be one assessor on each side.
– Quite so; the distribution of responsibility in a matter of this kind would simply result in an evasion of responsibility and further delay.
As to the suggestion that has been made that the limitation of hours necessarily means a diminished output, it cannot be denied that under certain favorable conditions, such as out-door employment, men can do a considerable amount of work during long hours without any impairment of their energy and vitality. But the experience of the war period in ‘England was that nearly every reduction in working hours down to a certain limit resulted in an increased output. Repetition work in big factories is exceedingly monotonous. The fact that the same operation has to be performed an incredible number of times without the least variation leads very soon to the development of fatigue on the part of the employee and to indifferent work. It frequently places the operator also in a position of danger. All these are matters which will have to be investigated. They need scientific, not judicial, investigation, and I am, therefore, absolutely with the honorable member for Hunter in his contention. The only solution of this problem of the reduction of hours and the maintenance of production is to be found in the substitution of piece-work for day labour. Piecework gives a stimulus to the energy of every labourer, and, therefore, means an added output.’ I propose to quote only one statement bearing on the question of increasing the output by lessening the number of hours worked. In the report of the Health of Munition Workers Committee it is stated that in 1917 the working hours of women were reduced to the extent of sixteen hours a week, and that it was found that -
For women engaged in moderately heavy lathe work a fifty-hour week yields as good an output as a sixty -six-hour week and a considerably better one than a seventy-seven-hour week.
It is stated further in the report that the influence of shorter hours and of the abolition of Sunday labour is now well established, and that the (total output “ is 9 per cent, greater than it was a year ago, though the weekly hours of work are 20.6 less.” The newly constituted Institute of Science and Industry should make investigations to determine the optimum hours that can be Worked in each industry. As the result of a long series of experiments, it should be able to adduce data that would prove very valuable to the President of the Court. In that event, the question of whether there should be three Judges or one would not be seriously debated, because the good sense of the people would be behind the verdict of a Judge which was based on such material. The investigations made by the Committee to which I have just referred showed that where the hours of women employed in a certain industry were reduced from fifty-six to forty-one a week their total output, although they worked fifteen hours a week less, showed an increase of 3 per cent. It was also found that the maximum output in the case of men was gained with a working week of forty-seven hours. If it could be proved beyond doubt what was the best number of hours per week to work, I venture to say that the workers of Australia, generally, would loyally abide by the decision of the Court.
– I regard the action of the Ministry in bringing forward this’ amendment as being the most direct challenge offered to unionism in recent times. Any honorable member who has taken the trouble to keep himself acquainted with industrial happenings in recent times knows that Mr. Justice Higgins is now engaged in hearing evidence from employers, employees, and the general public as to the number of hours that should constitute a standard working week. In the middle of those proceedings the Government have brought down at the eleventh hour this revolutionary proposal. It would- be wise for Parliament, at any rate for the time being, to keep its hands off this matter; otherwise the whole of the unionists will regard the action of the Government as a direct effort to thwart them in their endeavour to get from the recognised tribunal a determination upon this question. This is a very serious position. Would it not be better to drop this amendment for the time being, and allow Mr. Justice Higgins to continue his investigation, and make his report? Then Parliament will be in a better position to consider the matter. Do honorable members desire the mighty host of unionists to drop tools, and cause a cessation of industry? If theMinistry proceed with this proposal, they will be challenging the unionists to adopt that attitude, and if as a result the whole Commonwealth is thrown into industrial turmoil, the responsibility will lie with the Ministry and those who support them.
– Men who speak in those terms have a certain amount of responsibility, too.
– Yes, and I believe that honorable members on this side, who have been unionists all their lives, will adopt a different attitude towards conciliation and arbitration if proposals of this kind areto be submitted to Parliament. I desire to read to the Committee an extract from the half-yearly report of the Victorian Typographical Society, of which I am a member. That organization recently emerged from a three months’ strike in connexion with an endeavour to obtain a working week of forty-four hours. I admit that additional wages also were claimed, but this report shows that the main reason for the cessation of work was tha demand for a forty-four-hour week. The half-yearly meeting was held on the 34th August, but the report was in my hands at least a fortnight before that date, showing that even then members of the organization in Victoria and New South Wales were arranging for Mr. Justice Higgins to hear evidence from all parties upon the subject of reduced working hours. The report states -
Notwithstanding the fine stand made by this and other societies to attain a forty-four-hour week, the result was not entirely successful. A fair addition to the weekly wages was obtained, and much is said by critics in this regard about what might have been attained without a strike. It is true that if the only object had been the increase of wages by a few shillings per week, this might have been secured without a cessation of work. But the main object was a shorter working week.
Men and women were out of work for nearly three months, and the union was involved in an expenditure of nearly £20,000. The contributions from unions of this and other States amounted to only about £2,000 ; the balance came from the internal funds of the union. That sacrifice was made in order to try to obtain in the printing trade a forty-four-hour week. The report continued -
Valuable reforms are not got for the asking by the workers in any country, nor at any time in history. They are only attained by yeare of persistent agitation and self-sacrifice. The splendid front presented by our rank and file stands to their everlasting credit, and will assuredly bear good fruit - not only in this trade, but throughout the industries.
I ask honorable members to pay particular regard to this passage -
The settlement made with the employing printers secured a revision of the wages and conditions of work after six months. Meanwhile, Mr. Justice Higgins has agreed to hear representatives of employers, employees, and the general community on the great question which brought about this strike. The conference of representatives of affiliated unions held in Melbourne to discuss ihe matter of the Judge’s inquiry decided to be represented by a layman, who will be appointed at a conference of representatives from the Inter-State Trades Councils, all of which are vitally interested in the inquiry. The Printing Industry Employees Union of Australia is being represented by the counsel who is also engaged by the Timber Workers Union. A request will be made that His Honour make a specific pronouncement with reference to this industry. It is not clear that the learned Judge will deal with any particular industry outside that of the Timber workers; it may be that he will prefer to deal with the problem generally. Failing a specific pronouncement dealing with our trade, and only general guidance being given, then the Wages Board chairman will deal with the question ; and without doubt Mr. Justice Higgins’ direction will be the controlling factor in the final issue.
While that inquiry is proceeding before Mr. Justice Higgins this Parliament will be ill-advised to interfere. The investigation was mooted long before this legislation was thought of. Honorable members must see the danger in this proposed new clause. Other honorable members have argued well the case againstthe amendment, and I believeI can truthfully say that neither honorable members on this side of the House nor trade unionists generally desire an industrial upheaval at the present time. But the passing of this legislation will be a direct challenge to them when they are trying to obtain by .peaceful methods a pronouncement from the Court in regard to working hours. Why should Parliament interfere? Mr. ‘Holloway, who is appearing for the trade unions, has supplied the Court with information -showing that a forty-four-hour week is no innovation in this country or elsewhere. It is already in operation in a number of industries, and some of the most peaceful leaders of unionism have .come to the conclusion that reduced working hours are necessary if the general health of the community is to be maintained. As the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle . Page) said, the number of hours to be worked by men depends upon the industry in which they are engaged. Some men work in the sunlight, and in congenial conditions; others work underground, and in circumstances that are distinctly inimical to health. Surely no employer is desirous of shortening the lives of his employees. Masters must look ahead, and realize that if men and women work under conditions which are inimical to health they ‘ will render inefficient service, and for a shorter period. Lord Leverhulme. and other large employers, have come to the conclusion that shorter hours, congenial . working conditions, good housing, and healthy recreation are conducive to employees rendering longer and more valuable service. I remember the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith) telling me that on a visit to the Old World he had inspected the large works and model village controlled by Lord Leverhulme. He saw near the works some young ladies, who were endeavouring to copy some of the world’s master paintings, which had been purchased by their employer at a cost of many hundreds of pounds. When the Minister for the Navy inquired as to the reason for this, his cicerone replied, “ If I allow the young ladies in my employment to cultivate the artistic taste, they will never wrap a baT of soap untidily.” This cultivation of the artistic taste in the employees was costing Lord Leverhulme a large amount of money, but he regarded it, from a commercial standpoint, as a profitable investment. Honorable members on this side speak on behalf of nearly 700,000 unionists, and every one of them, men and women, will construe the passing of this amendment as an onslaught upon them when they are endeavouring to have this question of . working hours peacefully adjusted by Mr! Justice Higgins. Therefore, I ask honorable members to think calmly and to weigh well the consequences before they cast a vote which will mean a direct challenge to Australian unionists. Parliament set up a tribunal for the settlement of industrial questions, and at the very time when unionists generally are seeking the adjudication of the Court upon one phase of their working conditions, this Parliament is stepping in to take the matter out of the hands of the Court. Parliament will be establishing a dangerous precedent, and looking into the future I, without being over pessimistic, see big trouble ahead. Already large batches of men are working forty-four hours a week, or less, conceded, in many cases, by the employers as a desirable reform. Other unionists are asking for the same privilege -and benefit by peaceful means provided by this Parliament, and yet it is now sought to alter the constitution of the Tribunal. That can only be regarded as a challenge to unionists and Democracy generally, and I have no doubt that the challenge will be taken up with what may prove disastrous results.
.- This is a matter that needs full and weighty consideration, because it is npt one that concerns only unionists and working men, but the community as a whole. What the amendment asks, as intimated by the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), is that some special consideration shall be given, apart from that generally given by the Arbitration Court, because of the importance of the matter; and therefore it is contended that the minds of three Judges should be engaged. The utterances of the honorable member for Maribymong (Mr. Fenton) took me back twenty-five years, when there was a similar cry for eight hours a day”Eight hours’ work: eight hours’ play; eight hours’ sleep.” That standard was . set up, and at the present time we have an annual celebration of the event, and in this city there are monuments commemorating it. During the life-time of every member of this Parliament the eight-hour day has been in vogue, and now, almost suddenly, a determined attempt is made at a reduction. Why ? I should have thought that any attempt to alter the hours o£ labour would have been in the direction of increasing them, in view of the tremendous debt that the war has laid on the people of Australia. It would have been different if it could be urged that there is too little work in proportion to the people prepared to do it, and that a little should be given to each; but the trouble is that in Australia we have not enough people to do the work that is necessary. Let me not be misunderstood. I believe that an efficient Tribunal should consider, and come to a conclusion, to be afterwards ratified by Parliament, as to which forms of employment are detrimental to health on an eight-hour basis. There are some employments in which eight hours a day would be detrimental to health, and therefore they should be reduced to a point at which a given industry can be carried on with safety. I wish honorable members opposite to recognise that there is another view to be taken of this important question. Particularly from the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has come the cry of the high cost of living, and the demand that the Government shall deal with profiteering. Taking a rough estimate, a reduction of four hours a week in Australia, at ls. 3d. per hour, would mean a loss of £16,000,000; but I understand that those who advocate the shorter day also advocate that the workers should receive the same wages as at present.
– .Side by side with the shortening of hours there have been increases of wages.
– Just so. Do all honorable members consider that honest when we, as .1 people, are financially so “up against it.” Then, again, I have heard, chiefly from honorable members opposite, the suggestion made that consumers should be supplied at lower prices at the cost of the primary producer. But how is that going to work out? Has the primary producer to keep on working twelve hours a day, and sometimes longer, in order to provide cheaper living for those who are claiming the right to work for less than eight hours”? The primary producer has to pay a high Protective duty on his machinery; and yet he is called upon to provide cheap food for those who work in factories for only fortyfour hours a week. Can it be expected that the primary producer, after labouring twelve hours a day, will give his produce at a cheaper rate than it can be sold at outside of Australia ? The whole thing is inequitable, unreasonable, and unfair. If I am asked to help the consumer of Australia, I have a right to reason with him when he suggests the review of his working hours, and show that he does not play the same part in the community that I do. If an occupation be not an unhealthy one, why not, at a time like this, work the full eight hours and produce as much as possible? The honorable member for Cowper, in the incident he quoted, referred to women workers in England, under the great stress of war, who were pressed to do work almost beyond human strength. Under such circumstances I can quite understand that the results were as he described; but he went on to sKy that the point at which we could- expect the maximum production was forty-seven hours. Well, for ordinary work in Australia, forty-eight hours is not far from that central point. At the present time we owe £S00,000,000, and how can we get cheaper living by reducing the hours, and at the same time increasing the wages? While I am not altogether wedded to the suggested amendment of the Government, I should like some Special Tribunal, Committee,’ or Commission to take expert evidence, on which Parliament might decide; and I do not care whether that body consists of one Judge or half-a-dozen.
– That investigation is going »on now.
– And when it is completed, and Parliament is properly informed, it may fix the hours. I hope that honorable members at all times will have regard to the position in which Australia is to-day. Before the war, when we were able to meet our obligations more easily, we might have reduced working hours, but now it is not sane to make such a suggestion.
.- The discussion of this clause has centered a good deal round the question of a reduction of the working hours of people in employment in Australia. As I sec it, that has nothing to do with the particular amendment before the House. But as the question has been raised, I think that one ought to more or less make clear the position one takes up. I believe very strongly in the reduction of hours as far as it is reasonably possible, because we get better results in the end. It is no use members telling us now that if we reduce the working hours by four a week we shall reduce production to the same extent. We have’ seen time and again, particularly in England, that nothing of the sort has happened. Last year, when I was there, I saw many instances in which, with the hours reduced to a reasonable basis for men who have to do a hard but fair day’s work, the results were better than formerly. But that is not the question we have to consider; the question is whether one mind or more shall determine a matter which is of terrific importance to Australia to-day. The question is, What is a reasonable period to work in order to obtain a maximum production? The way to get that result is not necessarily by working longer hours. If we leave the determination of such a question to one man it seems to me we are running a grave danger. There are two dangers we have to face - there is the danger that we may get a man who will reduce the hours beyond a reasonable limit, and thus decrease production beyond what we have a right to expect, and this at the very hour when we are faced with a tremendous burden that can be lifted only if we have the fullest and best production possible. The other danger we are faced with is that the question may be determined by the mind of a man who acts on the simple rule that the more the hours of work the more the production. We might then have a determination which would result in squandering the manhood and womanhood of the country by working them beyond a period they can bear with benefit to themselves and the community. We have to determine what kind of mind is to decide what is the best period of work in the interests of the individual, and, above all, in the interests of Australia as a whole. Personally, I think it is too great a responsibility to throw on any one man. The proposal of the Government suggests three men ; hut, though I am not satisfied with that, it is better than leaving it fo only one man. My own view is that this is a matter that should be considered fully, and determined by Parliament, as a great national question. I hope in the future we may have the power to do this - that it will become one of the great tasks of this Parliament to determine what is best in the interests of the nation as a whole. Taking that view, I am going to vote for the proposal of the Government, and I am going a bit further than I think some others will go. There appears to me to have been a certain amount of “hedging” on the question of what is going to happen to the present inquiry. I say, deliberately, that I should be glad if that inquiry did not terminate on the decision of one man only, for the decision is one which will have far-reaching effects from one end of Australia to the other at n most critical hour in our history.
– In what position will this amendment place all the awards which have been given by one Judge providing less hours than forty-eight?
– This amendment is not retrospective.
– I do not know what it will prove to be when there is an appeal made.
– I should say that the amendment is not retrospective, but if there is any possibility that it might be so, the matter could be put right with three words. As I understand the amendment it will apply only to the future.
– If, in the past, we have had satisfaction from the present method of conducting industrial inquiries, and if awards have been given which have not interfered with the welfare of the community, why should we make u departure now ?
– The honorable member will agree that a great body of public 01)111101’ in this country to-day favours a substantial reduction in hours of employment. I do not wish to say now whether, in my opinion, that view is right or wrong; but it has become a great question, which must be dealt with specifically and broadly, and not in any isolated fashion. In view of that fact, I maintain that the old principle should be adhered to meanwhile.
– The same point of view has been advocated for years past.
– If the honorable member will consider the circumstances existing to-day, not only in Australia, but all over the world, he must agree that the question is much more vital at this moment than ever in the past.
– This whole subjectmatter is now contained in a reference to the Court, and the case must go to a finish. Why not let it do so, and permit a decision to be given ?
– The honorable’ member says that the matter is to go through to a finish, but I have not heard any clear and authoritative statement that such is the case. If Parliament now passes a law to the effect that a decision upon the matter of hours cannot be given by one Judge, then I should say that the present inquiry cannot go through to a decision.
– I oppose the amendment, and desire to refer particularly to the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), who said he would not like to leave the matter under discussion to a decision by any one mind. When the honorable member voted for the Industrial Peace Bill did he not realize that he was casting his vote to place in the hands of one man the power .of deciding upon hours of employment and every other industrial condition? There will be four representatives of employees and four of employers on a Tribunal. Each side, naturally, will stand by its own views; and, the numbers being equal, it is obvious that the decision, however it may be arrived at, and in respect of whatever subject-matter, will be the decision of one man, namely, the Chairman.
– Does the honorable member say that a Tribunal will consist of one man, namely, the Chairman alone?
– The honorable member must know full well that that is what it will amount to when a deadlock has arisen between equal numbers of representatives of each side. This comparison reveals the inconsistency of the Government in introducing the amendment. What is the reason for this afterthought ? If the Government will not furnish the reason, honorable members must look for it. In my brief experience of political life I have learned that it is not that which appears on the surface which is the governing factor; it is not that which is said that one must take notice of ; but one must try to find the motive lying behind words and actions. I suggest that the reason for the introduction of the amendment is that it will be regarded as a form of insult levelled at the President of the Arbitration Court. If the President has been .talented enough, and fair enough, to adjudicate in regard to all industrial matters which have arisen in years -past, surely the matter of determining upon hours of employment is not beyond his sole powers of adjudication. How otherwise can the President view the present proposition than in the light of an insult? Either that is the reason for its introduction, or there is ah even more sinister one. It may be .that the employers, who, after all, are behind the Government, fear that this man, having proved himself fair and just in regard to all matters industrial in the past, will reveal himself to be equally fair and just when called upon to determine the matter of hours of employment, and,, thus, such a determination may not be in the direction the employers desire. Hence, Mr. Justice Higgins is to be relieved of the sole responsibility of arriving at a determination. That may be one of the main reasons ; but there may be still another. Is it that the Government desire to find work for the Arbitration Court Judges? In the near future the Arbitration Court will be relieved of much of the work which has hitherto congested it. All Government employees are shortly to be taken from under its purview. Further, there are to be “fresh appointments of Deputy Judges; and, still further, the establishment of Tribunals under the Industrial. Peace Bill will considerably reduce the volume of work in the Court. Is the amendment intended to provide employment sufficient to keep the Judges going? And how is the matter of hours of employment to be decided? Are three J Judges to be called upon to give a decision upon the broad general aspect? Are they to ‘decide that so many hours shall comprise the working week in respect of every industry ? A fair working week in relation to one avocation might be altogether too long and heavy a term with regard to another. If a general rule is not to be established, there remains the alternative that, upon every occasion. when the matter of hours may crop up in the course of a hearingbefore the Court over which one Judge is presiding, that one Judge will not be able to handle the phase of the matter bearing upon hours of employment, but must call in two of his colleagues. If that is to be the procedure, then, instead of expediting the work of the Arbitration Court the very opposite effect will have been achieved. I appeal to the Government not to push the amendment at this stage. If they do they will make it only the harder for those representatives of industrialists who believe in the arbitration principle to uphold that ideal, and to deal with direct actionists in trade organizations. Honorable members on this side, who represent the employees, have, in my opinion, made concessions to the interests of the other side. We have given way in the matter of the appointment of Deputy Judges and of the variation of awards. Moreover, wehave done so at a stage when Arbitration Court decisions - now that the high cost of living has probably nearly reached its summit - are more likely to be given in favour of the employers. We desired the appointment of Deputy Judges and the conferring of power to vary awards at a time when decisions of the Arbitration Court were generally being given in favour of the workers. Now we have made our concessions when the tide has begun to turn, and when - as I have said - the employers are more likely to be favoured by the facilitating of Arbitration Court business. Therefore, I trust that the Government will not now seek to “ put the boot in” by the proposed new clause.
– I agree with the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) upon several of his leading points, and, particularly, with respect to the argument that it is dangerous to leave a question of such magnitude as the fixing of hours of employment to the determination of any one man.
– Then, why did you grant sole powers to individuals in connexion with the Industrial Peace Bill?
– I did nothing of the kind; it is the honorable member’s left-handed logic which suggests such a thing. I have always taken the objection, in regard to the Arbitration Court, that too much power has been placed in the hands of one man. The vast interests of Australian industries for years past have been at the mercy of one person ; and that consideration has created more intense concern than any other in industrial spheres. I desire to refer to statements advanced by various honorable members, chiefly to the effect that a reduction of working hours does not imply a shrinkage of production, but may involve even an enhancement of production. In this regard, the reasoning of the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) was altogether fallacious. The illustration he quoted was most unfortunate for his argument. He said that a reduction in the hours of the women who had been working out their very souls at munition making day and night, had led to an increased output, and claimed that this result, which was quite conceivable, would equally apply to men. But the long hours worked by these munition workers have no bearing on the question before the Committee to-day, which relates to conditions as different from those applying in England during the war period as daylight is from dark. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) is satisfied, from his own observations in the Old World, that shorter hours have led to increased output; but, here again, the conditions to which he referred are not at all analogous to those which apply in Australia. I have no doubt that when, many years since, an eight hours working day was established generally in Australia, it resulted in equal output. Conditions here, however, are not similar to those in the Old Country, and the facts of recent years are certainly against the claim that greater production results from reduced hours or increased pay.
– Give us the facts.
– I need not waste time in doing so, because honorable members already know them, and have reason to know them. One honorable member opposite quoted the very excellent case of the employees of the Sunlight soap manufacturers. But that is an exception. If it were general, this debate would not have arisen. There are also, probably, exceptional cases in Australia which could be quoted, but let us refer to what is actually happening in Great Britain to-day, where a great coal strike is impending. Mr. Lloyd George has pointed out that although there were 100,000 more employees engaged in producing coal in Great Britain over a given week during twelve months, the output of the mines was considerably less than previously.
– He said that the output was 50,000,000 tons less.
– Honorable members opposite know these things, but they do not speak about them, as in the interests of the public they should. Do they really believe that there has not been a gradual declining in the output, when members of their organizations publicly and vigorously advocate the slow-down business?
– The coal miners of New South Wales are increasing their output.
– I am delighted to know that they are increasing their output - at the present time.
– That, surely, is an answer to the honorable member.
– At present it is true. A Committee, of which I am a member, was inquiring into the matter the other day, and was delighted to receive evidence to the same effect. When we get such evidence we are only too glad to publish it.
– And the miners are working shorter hours from bank to bank.
– But they get better pay. I am not a “ low pay “ man. I believe in big pay for men who earn it. I would put men on piece-work, at which they could frequently earn double what they are paid under the day-work system. Australia is right up against trouble in regard to its financial liabilities. But the position would be all right if we were all prepared to repeat, in our industries and daily life, the spirit displayed by our men in the trenches at the Front. We should then shake off our responsibilities without any difficulty. With our output decreasing, the cost of living will not “ slide down,” as one honorable member said it is now doing. And certainly it will not if by any means a general decision to reduce the weekly hours of work by four hours or six is given.
– There is no power by which we can do that.
– That may be; but, if this Parliament does not do its duty, there is a great danger of its being ‘done. The public will not blame the Arbitration Court, but will blame this Parliament, which does not include in our legislation safeguards against such a calamity. An alteration in the hours of labour, which it is quite likely may be brought about, would mean the loss of untold millions to the industries of this country, render it utterly impossible for the cost of living to “ tumble down,” and make the imposition of a high Tariff useless. I shall support the Government on this proposal.
– Of course you will.
– Yes; and if they back down I will not support them, because I realize the menacing possibilities behind the rejection of the safeguard proposed.
– Hamstring the Court and see what the Government will get.
– I am sick of hearing honorable members opposite talking about the possibility of the Court failing to do its duty. If there is .such a possibility, let u3 face it and have done with it. No honorable member should be guilty of what has practically been done by one, namely, inciting the. Court to accept this proposal as a challenge. More time and energy have been devoted in the Parliaments of Australia during the last few years to industrial questions than have been given to the consideration of any other matter, however important to the interests of the country. I have quoted the case of the British workers in the coal mining industry. We have similar examples in America, and, unfortunately, in Australia, and we, who are representing the interests of the people of this Commonwealth, will -be recreant to the trust imposed on us if we do not look at the big possibilities ahead, and provide proper safeguards for the future. The proposal of the Government, although not all I hope will subsequently be found on our statute-book; is better than anything so far put forward as a temporary safeguard. The basic question of the limitation of hours of labour is one that ought to be covered by legislation, for which Parliament should accept the full responsibility.
– I cannot promise to become excited over this question, as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has just shown himself to be. What occurred to me as of great interest in the honorable member’s speech was that he made it quite clear that he believed the amendment moved by the Government is designed to achieve longer hours of employment.
– I did not suggest anything of the kind.
– It is impossible to draw any other conclusion fromthe whole tenor of the honorable member’s argument. That fact supports the strong suspicion entertained by honorable members of the Opposition in regard to the motives that impel the Government and the objects they have in viewin submitting this proposal. The proposed new clause is objectionable, both as to its subject-matter, and because of the time and circumstances in which it is introduced. It is not only objectionable, but indecent, especially as it was not foreshadowed in any way in the speech made by the Minister when introducing the Bill. It is brought forward at a time when a Tribunal, constituted for that purpose, is actually hearing evidence from all over Australia on the very question of a possible or probable reduction in the hours of labour. Does it not appear to the Committee that this move on the part of the Government is deliberately intended to anticipate a decision adverse to their policy in that regard ? I cannot imagine any other reason why this amendment of the Act, which the Minister has declared to be most important, should have been introduced at the last moment after we have dealt with the whole principle of the Bill, and with everyprinciple involved in the subsequent amendments. The question of substance here is whether one Judge or. three Judges should deal with this special matter of longer or shorter hours in connexion with the Arbitration Court. It has always been intended that the policy of arbitration shall be characterized by cheapness, simplicity, and expedition. The Government propose, however, in this exceptional way to constitute a Court of three Judges-
– Only to deal with the question of hours.
– It is deliberately intended to anticipate the decision of the Tribunal now sitting in regard to that matter. Whereas this Parliament has passed a law declaring that the decisions of the presiding Judge in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court shall be final, binding, and, so far as possible, without appeal to another Tribunal, in this case the Government say to the Court, “ If you are going to reduce the burden of labour, we must take some further action.” The possibility of any increase of the hours of labour may be altogether disregarded so far as this proposal is concerned. The Government do not perhaps contemplate increase in the standard hours of labour. They have in contemplation only the very live question which is now agitating the public mind as to a reduction of the hours of labour in certain cases. Honorable members opposite admit that in many cases the hours of labour are excessive; but I am not conscious of their having agitated in their places in Parliament for a reduction or for the constitution of a Tribunal that would have jurisdiction to reduce the hours of employment. They admit that this is a very proper matter for judicial investigation and determination; but they propose that it shall be decided in anticipation of the Court. They propose, if we may judge by the opinions expressed by the honorable member for Wakefield, to decide here and now that any reduction of hours is objectionable except in unspecified and very exceptional cases. The effect of this proposal will be to prolong and complicate proceedings. It will be necessary to get a full Bench, and there will consequently be a lengthened and more intricate argument on the subject, not to mention additional expense. It will also be necessary to have a majority of two to one before a reduction in the hours of labour can be secured. In other words, those who claim a reduction of hours in any occupation will have a harder row to hoe, and a bigger task to face, than they have in establishing any other point in connexion with arbitration proceedings. Although it is admittedly a matter for determination by a Court, we propose to put in the way of the workers anxious to secure a reduction of hours difficulties such as we have not raised in connexion with the settlement of any other industrial matter. I invite the Minister to give any other reason why this special matter should he taken out of the discretion of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court and vested in an elaborate Tribunal that will be foreign to the whole Act. “We are driven back to the view that there are political considerations at the bottom of this movement. I repeat that it is indecent to bring forward this proposal at the present time, and that the proposal itself is improper in that it represents a movement on the part of the Government - despite the probable action of the President of the Court - to drag away from the Court one particular phase of industrialism, and to encumber it in a way that does not apply to any other industrial matter in Australia.
.- The proposed new clause illustrates the extent to which industrial matters in Australia are drifting. I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that it is to some extent unfair to bring before the Committee, at practically the last moment, a new clause of such vital and far-reaching effect. The matter with which it deals is so serious that it should have had far more consideration from the Government, and certainly demands from the ‘Committee far more attention than we can now bestow upon it. In reply to the honorable member’s statement as .to the reason that actuates the Government in submitting this proposal, I have only to say, however, that the very great seriousness of the present position will lead me to vote for it. Although there may be objections to the Government bringing forward a proposition of this kind at the present time, I exhort honorable members, who have carefully noted industrial conditions in Australia, and who are familiar with the great obligations under which we labour, to support it in the hope that in the near future we shall have a more tangible and better means of dealing with a very difficult situation. An honorable member has suggested that to reduce the working week by four hours would mean a loss of something like £16,000,000 per annum to Australia. I have not attempted to make a calculation on the basis of the number of men employed in the Commonwealth - < -
– The actual estimate is much larger.
– I believe that it would mean a reduction in our output representing over £20,000,000 a year; and who dare say we can afford this loss at the present juncture? We are told that this question of the hours of labour is being ‘dealt with by a most competent authority. Without desiring in the least to disparage, the work of the President of the Arbitration Court, I would say that a very grave risk would be taken in giving to one man such an enormous power, and which may imperil our solvency.
– He has had that power for sixteen yeaTs.
– I am dealing with conditions as we lind them. During the last few years there has been a very strong agitation for a reduction in the hours of labour. As against that, we know that there is a shortage of labour. As the result of the war we have lost 60,000 of our best, and ‘ a much larger number has been, incapacitated.
– Does not the honorable member think that the President of the Arbitration Court knows all that?
– But I do not desire to give any one man power to determine the question.
– The honorable member is opposed to arbitration altogether.
– I do not’ object to the principle of arbitration, .but I am opposed to compulsory arbitration, and if I had the power would willingly repeal the Conciliation and Arbitration Act a3 we have it to-day.
– That is why the honorable member is going to support this proposed new clause.
– The honorable member has no right to attribute motives. I shall explain why I intend to vote for the proposed new clause. Having regard to the position of Australia to-day, to the number of men we have lost, to the fact that in respect of both our secondary and primary industries we need more labour than is at present available - having regard to the many new avenues for increasing the wealth of Australia, and the knowledge that as we increase the wealth of the country we increase the prosperity of all our. people - I think it would be well to urge men to work a little longer instead of to reduce their hours of labour, provided, of course, that they would benefit by the increase. Only a little .while ago, those engaged in the building trade in Victoria struck for shorter hours. The strike took place notwithstanding a big demand for the building of homes for returned soldiers and others, and occasioned delay at a time when there was a strong demand for increased housing accommodation throughout Australia. Would it not have been better for those men to slightly increase rather than reduce their hours of employment? They could have demanded higher wages, and would have benefited by slightly increasing, instead of proposing to reduce, their hours of employment. This proposed new clause will not give the Court power to increase the hours of labour, and I certainly do not urge the giving of such a power. Many organizations have been urging a decrease in the hours of labour, and special inquiries are being made in that direction. I regard the position as very serious. It- would be wise if the Government would promise us that they will consider the advisability of appointing a Royal Commission, representative of every section of the community, to report to Parliament upon the subject of working hours. I intend to quote to the Committee a report dated 18th August, by Mr. J. L. Campbell, K.C., who was appointed a Royal Commissioner by the New South Wales Government to report upon the coal-mining industry and trade.
– The honorable member must not forget that the miners were not represented at the inquiry, and took no part in it.
– I know that; and I am suggesting that, in any Federal inquiry, all sections of the community should be represented. I am dubious in regard to the future of Australia. We are concentrating our people in the -large cities, and legislation is being brought forward solely in their interests. There is no care for the outback country. But unless we realize that our future .prosperity depends upon the development of the outlying portions of the continent, and the increase of production, a serious injury will be done to the country. The honorable member for’ Flinders (Mr. Bruce) quoted instances to show that the reduction of hours had not reduced the output. We know perfectly well that a decrease in the working hours to any considerable extent must result in a decrease of the output; it is idle to talk otherwise. During the war, women who were employed to do the work of men in the. factories of Great Britain did in three days what the men had occupied a week in doing. The explanation is that the “ go-slow “ policy had been very much m operation before the war.
– The honorable member if advocating that the women should do all that work.
– I am advocating nothing of the sort. Honorable members would do well to urge the unionists to adopt the contract system, by which workers in America are earning double and treble what they earn in Australia. Mr. Campbell, in his report upon the coal -mining industry, said -
It is to be remembered that any reduction in the duration of shifts means an exactly corresponding reduction of the time at the face, and I am satisfied, ‘on the evidence, that there would be no appreciable compensation in an increased proportion of individual output per hour by reason of any increased personal efficiency of the miner. This conclusion is. no doubt, opposed to the suggestion of theory on the matter. But theory must yield to the practical results of experience.
– No evidence was taken from the miners. All the evidence was from the employers’ point of view, and the Commissioner’s conclusions are adduced from that.
– Will the honorable member explain why the miners’ organization allowed the report to go against them by default?
– All I can say is that the miners took no part in the inquiry, and would give no evidence.
– Then the blame is theirs. Mr. Campbell continued -
There have not been lacking opportunities for putting the theory to the practical test, and whatever be the cause, the results actually obtained arc an undeniable confutation of the theory.
Perhaps the organizations took no interest in the inquiry, because they had some idea of what the report would be. J1 great deal has been said in this House about the coal-mining industry, and I feel justified in quoting a couple of other paragraphs of the Commissioner’s report, although they may not be held to be closely allied to the subject-matter of the amendment -
Whatever may be the faults of the existing system of ownership and control, it is at least tempered by competition, by the influences of the industrial element, and by public opinion, all of which have hitherto successfully worked to prevent the industry, as a national instrumentality, being used to exploit or oppress the community as a whole. Would that harmless character “be preserved under any system which gave control to those who would benefit by its misuse, with public opinion the only tempering influence?
Whatever may be suggested as to the faults of the proprietors-
– On a point of order; I submit that these quotations affect a matter that is now sub judice. Recently the Commonwealth appointed a Tribunal to deal with the coal-mining industry. The honorable member is quoting from a report by Mr. Campbell, who was appointed by the late New South Wales Government to inquire into the coal-mining industry at the time when there was a good deal of ill-feeling amongst the miners on account of men having been brought from Victoria to work in the mines. Because of that feeling the miners took no part in the inquiry, but their evidence is being submitted to a Tribunal which is now sitting in Sydney.
– I had overlooked the fact that a conference is being held in Sydney, and I will not persist in the quotation.
– If the facts are as stated by the honorable member for Hunter, the honorable member for Dampier will not be in order in continuing the quotation.
– The point raised by the honorable member for Hunter may be open to debate, but lest any animosity should be created, I do not propose to proceed further with the quotation. I cannot help remarking, however, that time after time honorable members opposite have discussed this question, and expressed their own views upon it. I hope that, if the proposed new clause is carried, the Government will adopt the suggestion to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole question of hours of labour. It is not just that a matter of such transcendent importance should be left to the decision of one man.
– Would the honorable member interfere with the inquiry which is now in progress under the presidency of Mr. Justice Higgins?
– I have a grave objection to legislation for particular instances, because, as a rule, legislation of that character is not as good as laws made under more deliberate and normal circumstances. But the subject-matter of this amendment is of such importance to the future of the country that I feel bound to support it. The decision upon the question of working hours may lead to the destruction of many of our industries. Enormous protective duties are being imposed in order to promote the establishment of secondary industries - over £2,100,000 was collected in Customs revenue during August - and if anything is done to destroy those young industries the consequences to the country will be serious.
– This is a peculiar argument on the part of a Free Trader.
– I do not know that I am a Free Trader; I never said so; but I certainly do not believe in high duties. I hope that all honorable members who have serious regard for the future of the country will vote with the Government on this occasion, and that the Government will grant the inquiry I have suggested. I realize that it is not possible for the House to legislate as to the number of hours that should be worked in any industry. For instance, although a forty-four-hour week obtains in the mines, I remember ascertaining on a visit to Bendigo, five or six years ago, that the conditions in some mines were such that the inspectors would not permit the men to work there for more than thirty or thirty-six hours per week:
– I think the honorable member will agree that it is very doubtful as to whether men should be permitted to work at all under those conditions.
– That may be so, but that is a question which Parliament cannot determine. I know that in a wellventilated mine the conditions are better than in many surface avocations.
– I do not believe it.
– I know that to be a fact, and I have had more experience of mining than has the honorable member.
– No medical man would agree that it is healthier to work in a mine than above ground. The honorable member would say anything.
– One has only to see the men who are. employed in wellventilated and regulated mines to know that my statement is a fact. I again commend to the Government the suggestion I have made, that a full inquiry should be held into this vitally important question.
.- I have not occupied much time over this Bill, and should not have spoken to-day but for the importance of the question now before us, and the remarkable speeches we have heard from honorable members opposite. I listened with interest to the speeches of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) ; and if ever the Australian working man was slandered.it was in the utterances of those two gentlemen.
– That remark of the honorable member is most offensive, and I ask that the honorable member be called upon to withdraw, it.
– If the honorable member for Ballarat said anything that was offensive to the honorable member for Dampier, it must be withdrawn.
-Certainly, Mr. Chanter, I withdraw the words, and simply say that I listened with interest to the speeches. The British workmen have been compared with the Australian workmen to the disadvantage of the latter; but I know that each of the Australian soldiers in the labour battalionswere worth ten of the Englishmen who worked by their side; and the same remark applies when a comparison is made between them as civilian workmen. The Australian workman will do more in two days than the other will do in a week, and that is largely due to the working conditions of this country. The men here work shorter hours, and yet produce more than is produced in any other part of the world, in proportion to their numbers. I have listened for years to this story about workmen being so much superior in other countries, but after having been abroad I can appreciate the value of the Australian. The honorable member for Dampier toldus that under certain conditions mining is a healthy occupation. In the city I represent there is hardly a miner over forty-five years of age alive to-day, and not one of thirty-five or forty . but has the miners’ complaint, and will be dead before the age of forty-five; yet they work only eight hours per day. We hear honorable members pleading for increased production and longer hours of work, in order that we may pay off our national debt; but that debt was incurred to protect the property and interests of the wealthy classes of this country. Whether this proposal be passed or not, the workers of Australia are, thank God, so strongly organized that they can refuse to work an increased number of hours per week. I am surprised at the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith), who once belonged to this Labour party, sitting there as a member of a Government which at this, the eleventh hour, introduces a proposal of this kind, and introduces it for a special purpose. There was a conference the other day between the bootmaking employers and employees, and one employer there named the date when Mr. Justice Higgins would retire. This Bill is being rushed through in the hope that it will be passed in time to prevent Mr. Justice Higgins giving a decision on the question now before him, involving a forty-four-hour week. It is at the instigation of the Employers’ Federation that this proposal is made at the present juncture, because there is a fear that the Judge will give a decision favorable to the men. Already, the timber workers, the bootmakers, and the printers have agreed to abide by the Judge’s decision. The printers had a longstrike, and went back to work on the condition that an inquiry would take place, and be presided over by Mr. Justice Higgins. The most suspicions point, to my mind, is that the Employers’ Federation briefed Sir Edward Mitchell for the inquiry, and that that gentleman did not appear. It is evident that somebody knew that this clause was to be moved, and the inquiry thereby rendered useless - that the Government were going to introduce a clause to prevent a decision being given. We should not restrict the jurisdiction of the Judge of the Arbitration Court. It is not proposed to do so in any. other direction ; only in regard to this particular industrial phase are we asked to provide that three Judges shall sit. Again and again it has been complained that the business of the Court is congested, and that dozens of cases are waiting for lack of Judges to try them. At the same time, it is proposed that three Judges shall sit together to decide this one matter. It really means, seeing that the question of hours always crops up, that three Judges will be continually employed, so that the congestion will be increased tenfold. I trust that honorable members will remember, in voting for the proposed new clause, that they are asking trade unionists to have no faith in the Court. I can understand that attitude on the part of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), who has told us that he does not believe in the Court, but desires to kill it ; and if he and other honorable members are anxious to force the workers to take direct action let them support the proposal before us.
Mr.McWilliams. - The Bill we passed last week killed the Arbitration Court.
– We were told by the Prime Minuter (Mr. Hughes) that the Industrial Peace Bill did not kill the Arbitration Court; but I voted against the Bill because I believed that to be its object. I believe that the Government is making these proposals because there is a humane man at present Judge of the Court. Is it desired that there shall be continual strikes in the country? The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) was for years a trade unionist, and knows something of their temper. He ought to know that during the five years of war the working classes suffered very much, were most loyal, and made many sacrifices. They were, however, everlastingly asked to produce more, and asked by those who have never produced anything of value in their lives. The working classes have become dissatisfied and discontented, while another section of the community have waxed wealthier in consequence of the war. To-day they are not prepared to either work longer hours, or for the present rates of pay, but are determined to have more of the good things they produce.
– They have taken Lloyd George’s advice .
- Mr. Lloyd George advised the working people to be extremists - to go for a bold, daring, and courageous policy - and that advice has been accepted in this country. Is the Treasurer, with his knowledge of the peculiar state of mind of the workers to-day, going to give them a direct slap in the face? Do the Government propose to say tothe unionists that the Arbitration Court is no longer open to them ?
– It has not been accessible for years.
– It has not been accessible; but we are told that these industrial measures are introduced for the purpose of making it more accessible, and cheapening the procedure. And now that we have disposed of the Industrial Peace Bill, and are just about to conclude the consideration of the Bill before us, this clause is sprung on the Committee. This is done at a time when men are looking for a reduction of hours, and hoping that the inquiry now proceeding will give it to them. Just when there is a possibility that Mr. Justice Higgins may decide in the men’s favour, we are asked to rush this amendment through.If we accept the amendment now, all thework of the present inquiry will have to be repeated, not before one Judge, but before three. Personally, I would not have much to say against three Judges if the conditions were normal, except perhaps on the score of expense That arrangement would result in no greater benefits than are enjoyed to-day, and to that extent is useless, but that is about the worst we can say. But we know that there is an ulterior motive in making this proposal at an abnormal time. We have it proved by all the signs that the Employers Federation knew that this clause was to be proposed. The Federation realized the position so clearly that they even withdrew their counsel from the inquiry, and some employers are fixing the date at which Mr. Justice Higgins is going to resign. The Employers Federation, which is the power behind the Government today, knew full well that the present inquiry would be rendered futile. Members of the Country party, who have made such bitter speeches against trade unionists this afternoon, and declaimed against shorter hours, should be the last to complain, for they never got better prices for their wheat, meat, and wool than they have had during the last five years. They made enormous profits out of the war, and now butter has gone to an abnormal price. I never hear those honorable members standing up and complaining of some of the real grievances of the farmers; we never hear them complain of the landlords everlastingly increasing the rents on tenant farmers, though they do not fail to have a “ hit “ at the unfortunate agricultural labourer. When,four or five years ago, we on this side fought for the right of those labourers to go to the Arbitration Court, the representatives of the Farmers Union strongly opposed the proposal. I hope that the Government will at leastaccede to the request of one or two legal members, and tell us exactly why this clause has been proposed. Will the Minister (Mr. Groom) let us know what there is to tell about Mr. Justice Higgins’ resignation ? Will he tell us what were the representations that induced the Government to propose this clause ?
– And how it will affect existing awards.
– And also how it will affect the present inquiry. Half of our hostility to the clause would be gone if we knew that the inquiry would be allowed to proceed.
– It will not affect any existing awards.
– Will it affect the inquiry ?
– Yes; I answered that question last night.
– Will the Minister propose another amendment providing that this clause shall not come into operation until Mr. Justice Higgins- has given his decision in the present inquiry? If we are given that assurance, there will be no opposition to the proposed clause, except on the score of expense. For sixteen years we have got along with one Judge, and in the absence of the information and guarantee I have asked for, I shall vote against the proposed clause at every -stage.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) in his statement that the amendment is foreign to the spirit of our arbitration laws. I think it is specially relevant. From the stand-point of the wisdom of legislation in this direction, there should be greater uniformity than exists to-day. I listened with interest to the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, and, particularly, to those of his remarks in which he related that he saw no serious objection to there being three Judges to determine a vitally important question such as this. That is the whole point. At present, we have the President of the Court and one Deputy.. Either of those Judges may take whatever view he, in his discretion, thinks proper. Wow it is proposed to increase the number of Deputies, so that the President, and as many Judges as may be appointed, will each have his separate views. Thus, an extraordinary anomaly may arise in which there may be no co-ordination, but a collection of separate views held by individual Judges concerning a vitally important question. No honorable member has sought to discount the gravity of this matter. It is truly fundamental, and one on which there should be uniformity of view on the part of the Judges. It is for the Parliament to overcome the anomaly - which in future will be accentuated - of there being divergent judicial opinions. I am aware of the objection concerning pending cases; and it is a serious objection, because some cases have been partly heard and others are almost completed. It will be anomalous if, during the hearing of these cases, legislation is passed which will affect them. It raises a point which the Government should consider; but whether it is possible to have some Commission to aid us in this matter, or whether there can be some Court of Appeal from the views of any individual Judge, in order to secure co-ordination, it is, at any rate, very important that whatever cases are pending should be permitted to proceed, and that provision should be made in regard to any decision which may become the subject of appeal.
All sorts of motives have been assigned to the Government because of its introduction of the amendment. Tam loath to ‘ believe that they have any sinister” motive. The whole community has given greater attention to the subject of hours of employment, by reason of recent happenings, than ever before. I refer to the strike associated with the building trade. These artisans, with their healthy outdoor conditions of labour, struck for a forty-hour week. Their action was so resented by the community as a whole that the strike failed. However, it concentrated the attention of the community generally upon the vital question of hours. Honorable members opposite can scarcely complain, therefore, that at this stage the subject should receive the attention of Parliament. If some means can be devised for overcoming the very real difficulty concerning pending cases, I would suggest that the Government adopt such means; but, as to the general principle involved in the amendment, I have no hesitation in giving it my approval.
.- The contribution of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to the debate was valuable in one respect, at any rate, namely, that if there were lingering doubts in the minds of honorable members regarding the sinister motives under lying the introduction of the amendment, they have now been removed. The honorable member said he would support the amendment, and that, if he had his way, he would smash the Arbitration Court altogether. Honorable members on this side have felt all along that that was identically the motive of the Government. The honorable member for Dampier thinks the present proposal will smash the Court, and that is why he is supporting it. Despite that the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) had to withdraw certain remarks commentary upon the speeches of the honorable members for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), Ialthough I shall not be permitted to repeat them - will continue to think the same. The honorable member for Dampier stated that reduction of hours meant a considerable reduction in output, and he argued that, if men were to work longer hours,they would produce more. If he desired to carry his contention to its logical conclusion he would advocate working periods of twenty-four hours per day. However, his arguments are fallacious because, although the workers today are engaged over a shorter weekly period than during the past, the researches of the Commonwealth Statistician reveal that we are producing more and more each year. I have before me statistics relating to the value produced for each employee in the Commonwealth. In 1914 the value produced per employee was £201; in 1916 the value was £213. During that period 300,000 of our men were not engaged in productive occupations. Knibbs says, further, that in 1914 the estimated value of production from industries in Australia amounted to £218,101,000; and that in 1916 the total production amounted to £270,427,000. I repeat that 300,000 of our vigorous young men were not then engaged in productive occupations. These statistics relate to agriculture, the pastoral industry, dairying, mining, manufacture, and other sources of occupation ; and they prove conclusively that, if we were able to show such increased value of production over the years indicated, we must be producing still more to-day per employee than ever in the past. Realizing that the Government, and those who support them, are determined by any means in their power to smash industrial organizations, I am not at all surprised at the introduction of the amendment. The community to-day is divided into two classes - the exploiter and the exploited; the robber and the robbed. Honorable members on this side represent those who have been robbed for so long, while honorable members on the other side of the Chamber represent the robbing section of the community.
– I regard those remarks as objectionable, and ask that they be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the word “robber “ and will substitute “ exploiter.” It is only to be expected that the Government should introduce measures of this kind in order to satisfy those friends outside who are responsible for their occupation of the Treasury bench to-day. The amendment has been introduced to prevent the workers from gaining a little more of that to which they are entitled : from securing a larger share of the leisure which is their due by the reduction of hours of labour. The general trend to-day, however, is more than ever in the direction of shorter hours of employment. The workers are endeavouring to make a new world for themselves; and, despite any restrictions which the Government may seek to apply, the toiling classes intend to continue their onward march. The day of working-class emancipation is drawing nearer; and, whether by arbitration or by direct action, the workers are slowly but surely coming into theirown.
– What do you want?
– I want to see the workers receive a fair share of the wealth they produce. I want to see that they get justice, and a little more of that brightness and sunshine of life to which they are entitled, but which the social conditions of to-day and the past have denied to them. I have been a supporter of arbitration all my life, advocating it in season and out of season before the most advanced industrialists as well as before the most crusted Tories; but if the Government persist in placing this provision in the Bill, as apparently they will do, owing to the fact that they have behind them a brutal majority which will passanything they bring forward, I shall no longer be able to go out, as I have done in the past, endeavouring to persuade the members of organizations, who would resort to direct action, to place their faith in arbitration. Employers, to a great extent, have always been able to defeat the aims and objects of the working-class organizations by increasing the cost of living. An award granting higher wages has always been passed on by them, the consequent increase in the cost of living resulting in a further increase in the burdens of the workers. But knowing positively that a reduction of hours cannot be passed on, they are determined to prevent such a possibility. The Australian Workers Union has a membership of 100,000, and of these 70,000 are now working forty-four hours a .week. Every day organizations are adhering to ‘ the forty-four hours per week standard. As a matter of fact, the majority of the employees of Australia are not working more than forty-four hours a week, but this proposal has been brought forward to prevent forty-four hours becoming the universal standard of work. I have taken care to obtain accurate figures in regard to the branches of the Australian Workers Union which are working fortyfour hours a week. In Queensland throughout the whole State the shed hands, the wool-scouring ‘ employees, forestry employees, the quarry workers, railway construction employees, railway permanent employees, roadmaking employees, bootmakers, and bridge carpenters, are working forty-four hours a week ; also employees of local authorities, sawmill hands, employees of the State Fisheries Department, brick and pottery makers, ironworkers’ assistants,- water and sewerage employees, Northern brewery employees, city electric-light employees, boat builders, bagmakers, cement workers, cork workers, gas workers, Harbor Trust employees, laundry workers at Townsville, painters at Townsville, rubber workers, storemen, and packers, and the Northern metalliferous employees, excepting the surface hands at Mount Morgan. In Victoria, miners, sewer workers, quarrymen, gardeners, and cement workers are working forty-four hours a week, and in New South Wales practically all the members of the Australian Workers Union work those hours. It is not surprising that honorable members opposite have brought forward this proposal, which they hope will prevent the workers who are not so fortunately situated as those I have just mentioned from getting similar working hours. It would probably be interesting to learn what happened in the fight by the Australian Workers Union for a forty-four hours week in. Victoria. On the 1st May, 1916, the sewerage branch obtained a Wages Board award of forty-four hours per week; but the Metropolitan Board of Works appealed on the 14th November following, and the award was amended by Mr. Justice Hodges, who restored the forty-eight hours a week, and amended the award to become operative on the 1st December, 1916. However, the contractors to the Board refused to revert to a forty-eight-hour week until pressure was brought to bear on them by the Board, who gave them to understand that unless they worked that number of hours per week they would be given no more contracts. One contractor, Mr. T. Starr, who had a contract for a sub-main at East Caulfield, tried to evade the pressure of the Board, and insisted on working his men for forty-four hours per week. However, after a fortnight he announced his intention of reverting to the forty-eight hours per week. The men thereupon decided that they would not work the forty-eight hours a week. The result was a strike. After eight days the representatives of the Australian Workers Union met in conference the contractors and representatives of the Metropolitan Board of Works, at which the Board agreed that the contractors could work their men for forty-four hours per week so long as no endeavour was made to get the Board’s own employees to strike against a forty-eight hours’ week. However, on the 14th October, 1919, a Wages Board made an award granting a fortyfour hours’ week to the sewerage employees, and the Board was unsuccessful in its endeavour to get the majority of the contractors to side with it in an appeal with the object of having a fortyeight hours’’ week reinstated. It is a matter of common knowledge that the majority of the workers are working fortyfour hours per week, yet the Government would be prepared to move heaven and earth if they could to prevent this onward march of unionism, and prevent the workers from getting one step closer towards their economic emancipation. When speaking on the Industrial Peace Bill, honorable members on this side said that they felt satisfied that the object behind the Government’s proposals on that occasion was to get rid of Mr. Justice Higgins from the Arbitration Court. I have not the slightest doubt that such is their intention. It is certainly a scandal that just when the President of the Arbitration Court is engaged in deciding the question of whether a forty-four hours’ week should be established, the Government should rush down with this amendment, which will take out of his hands the power to say tnat forty-four hours should constitute a working week. Last week, in Sydney, I was in conversation with one of the biggest manufacturers in New South Wales. He told me that he had been opposed to a reduction of hours, and to the men’s proposal to cease work on Saturdays, but that the results achieved since the adoption of the five days’ system had convinced him that no reduction of output would result from the establishment of a forty-four-hours’ week. However, I go further than that, and maintain that even if the establishment of a forty-four-hour’s week should lead to a reduction in output, I would favour it, because in the majority of instances the workers in five days can produce all that is necessary. If workers were paid anything like an adequate share of the wealth they produce, they would be getting for two days’ work as much as they now receive for six days’ work. But, although it is the workerswho produce the wealth of the world, practically the whole of it is stolen from them by one means or another under the social conditions of to-day. It is in order to allow these conditions to continue, and to compel workers to remain enslaved in the future as they have been in the past, that the Government have come forward with this proposal. I do not wish to utter any threat, but I say that ifMinisters persist in their desire to embody this provision in the Bill, scarcely any organization will remain registered under the Arbitration Court, because the workers will realize that the Court will not be able to give them that which they desire to achieve, and will not be able to give a decision upon their legitimate claim to have hours of labour reduced. They will withdraw from their registration, and there will be strikes from one end of the country to the other. We all know that it is the wives and children of strikers who suffer during the dislocation of trade and industry brought about by industrial turmoil, but in their advocacy of the principles they hold, and the rights to which they justly believe they are entitled, the workers are prepared to suffer any injustice. They will make any sacrifices in order that they may obtain a greater share of the product of their labour, and shorter working hours, enabling them to have a little more brightness and sunshine in their lives. If the Government insist upon embodying this provision in the Bill, the workers must lose faith in arbitration. They will not register, and the consequence will be that, instead of having industrial peace, the country will have industrial chaos.
– It is very rarely, indeed, that debate in this House has altered my vote; but if anything could alter my vote it is a speech such as that to which I have just listened. The arguments of the honorable member, and the points in several of the speeches I have heard to-day have been in this direction, “ We are sure that we are going to get a verdict in the present condition of things, and, therefore, we want them to continue as they are; but we are afraid that if some one else gets on the Bench, we shall not get a verdict, and, therefore, we do not want the Government’s proposal.”
– We are afraid that the Bench might be “ rigged.”
-I hope that never will any Bench be ‘ ‘ rigged “ by a National Parliament in Australia. I make bold to say that there are no purer Courts than are to be found in Australia.
– The people are rapidly losing faith in them.
– The great mass of the people of Australia believe that there are no purer Courts than are to be found in. Australia, and I hope that opinion will always prevail. I do not intend to vote for the proposed new clause. for sixteen years one Judge has carried on the work of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. During the last few weeks we have passed legislation which we hope will take from that Court nineteentwentieths of the work hitherto performed by it, and I fail to see, therefore, why we should be asked to agree to a proposal that three Judges shall sit in that Tribunal. The Court has not been a success. Practically all the big unions six months ago expressed dissatisfaction with it, and declared that they would have no more to do with it.
– No, no ! Let us not have these wide generalities.
– Leader after leader in the Labour movement made that public declaration. I have very great hopes of the success of the Industrial Peace Bill, under which representatives of the employers and the employees will be able to hold round-table conferences and discuss industrial troubles before a strike occurs. I am exceedingly hopeful that the operation of that measure will be so successful as to very materially reduce the work of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. For these reasons, therefore, I shall vote against the Government proposal. There could be no excuse for the passing of the Industrial Peace Bill, providing as it does for the appointment of a number of arbitrators, if we did not think that it would largely reduce the work of the Court. I do not begrudge the expense which that Bill will involve, because the cost of its administration over a period of ten years would not equal the loss inflicted upon Australia by a strike on the part of one of our large industrial organizations. We are now asked, long before it is possible to determine whether or not that measure will be a success, long before we can determine the extent to which it will reduce the work of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, to agree to a proposal for the appointment of additional Judges to the Arbitration Court Bench. The time has arrived when the Committee must deliberately set its face against all unnecessary appointments. We must avoid overlapping, and I certainly do not think that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has proved such a success as to warrant the appointment of more Judges. For the last three or four years it has been impossible for an organization to get its plaint before the Court without resorting to a strike. If it takes a week for one Judge to make up his mind on any case that comes before him, how many weeks will it take a Bench of three Justices to come to a decision?
– Probably three weeks.
– It might take much longer. This is a most inopportune time for such a proposal as the Government have put before us. I shall, therefore, vote against it.
Those who travel know that as an, aftermath of the war industrial matters, not only in Australia, but in all parts of the world, are in a very uneven balance, and no public man should indulge in public utterances calculated to intensify the difficulty.
– The honorable member should address those remarks to the Government.
– Without any desire to preach, I am speaking to the Committee as a whole.
– If the Committee would accept the honorable member’s view, the country would probably avoid a disaster.
– Probably. I urge honorable members, in discussing all these matters, not to say or do anything likely to precipitate industrial trouble. In some cases we know that the possibilities of an industrial crisis are far too real. If this new clause were necessary it should have appeared in the Bill as introduced, and by bringing it forward now the Government are only lending some colour to the charges which have been made.
.- For some years many unions in this State have been working forty-four hours a week. A carpenter, for instance, while employed on an outside job or on any building works forty-four hours a week, but if he is employed in a mill he works forty-eight hours a week. An attempt is now being made by an appeal to the Court to secure uniform hours in the industry. The Government are adopting an unheard-of course in bringing down a proposal of this kind, which will affect a case that has already been partly heard. The hearing of the case commenced months ago. At that time the employers opposed the application for a reduction of hours, but when the hearing was resumed a week or two ago, they said, in effect, “ We will not bother about calling evidence on the subject.” They were content to have only one representative appearing in their behalf.
– They knew something.
– They must have known that this proposal was to be submitted. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company is, I understand, the only employer now represented by counsel. I was speaking yesterday to an ex-Minister of the Crown from Western Australia, who is associated on behalf of the timber workers with the proceedings now before the Court. He was here some three or four months ago, when the matter was adjourned by Mr. Justice Higgins, and he gave me some interesting information to the effect that the employers are not represented this time. The Minister (Mr. Groom) has told us, by way of interjection, that the Government do not intend to take away any of the advantages gained by an award.
– The honorable gentleman is making an extraordinary charge, when he suggests that these people must have known what was coming on.
– There is not the slightest foundation for it.
– I am only repeating what has been stated by those who are now before the Court. I shall read the evidence of one of the most reliable and trustworthy trade unionists in Australia.
– Does the honorable member mean to say thatthe employers had ‘ ‘ beforehand notice ‘ ‘ that the Government intended to submit this proposal?
– They had not. They could not have had any knowledge of it.
– Had Mr. Justice Higgins gone on with the case four months ago, it would have been dealt with and completed, and an award would have been given before now. No one knows what his decision will be. When he resumed the hearing, the learned Judge invited all parties to be represented, because he recognised that the matter was of general importance. All over the world, with the exception of Australia, the hours of labour have lately been decreased, but there has practically been no decrease in Australia since 1883 in the industry at which I worked for over twenty years. I was working at that time in the hat-making industry, and we then had, as now, a working week of forty-eight hours. When I was working at the trade in Great Britain in 1889, we had, in the north of England, a working week of fifty-six and a half hours, while in America we had a working week of fifty-five hours. In both those countries there has been a reduction of hours, but no reduction has taken place in Australia. The Hatmakers Union is one of the most highly organized in the world, and it could deal effectively with the matter to-morrow, but it has been content to trust the Court. It is now being told, in effect, that in the future it is not to trust the Court. When the original Bill was before this House in 1904, after the defeat of the Watson Government, honorable members generally invited the unionists to “ trust the Court.”
– We have now another cry, “ Trust the people.”
– I do not object to that, but the workers who have been told to trust the Court, and have done so, are now informed by the Government that the President of the Court is practically to be “ hamstrung.” The Government say that they will not permit any Judge to deal with the question of hours of labour in connexion with an Arbitration case.
– Who has said that?
– That is the effect of this proposed new clause. I do not hesitate to say that no greater blow than this could’ be struck at the principle of arbitration. I shall not say, as some honorable members have said, that the passing of it will result in a strike throughout Australia; but officials who have advised their organizations to take their cases to the Court will not be able in the future to induce the rank and file to accept that advice. Here is a proposal, on the part of the Government, to pass legislation affecting a case that is still sub judice. We heard a lot recently to the effect that Parliament should not interfere with cases that are sub judice, but the very men who took up that attitude are prepared to interfere in order to prevent the Judge from giving his decision in a case which the workers have brought before the Court. This is the first occasion on which anything of this kind has been done.
– There were two previous occasions when the Arbitration Act was amended while cases were before the Court.
– In the instances to which the honorable member refers, the claims had been filed, but the hearing had not been’ commenced. The Minister refers particularly to the amendment of the Arbitration Act while a case cited by the Australian Workers Union was pending. But to-day a case is part heard, and the Government now propose to take it out of the hands of the Court. There is an award fixing the hours of certain employees in the Commonwealth Service at thirty-six and a half per week, but Parliament is asked to tell other workers that they shall not be allowed to go to the Court and have their hours fixed by one Judge, even when they are only asking for forty-four hours. In order to get over the difficulty in the way of transacting the accumulated business before the Court, the Government are proposing to create an additional difficulty. They profess economy, and then provide that there shall be two additional Judges to deal with every plaint in regard to hours of labour. During this week the Deputy President of the Court presided over a Conference in regard to an agreement which fixed the hours of bank clerks at forty hours. Apparently it is all right for the bank clerks to work forty hours, and for the civil servants to work thirtysix and a half hours, but workers who take their coats off are told that, if they make a claim for a working week of less than forty-eight hours, no one Judge can deal with it.
– This proposal makes no such exception. It applies to all sections of workers.
– Good luck to the men who have already secured a reduction of hours, but those who have been unfortunate enough to have their cases delayed are to be prevented by this eleventh-hour amendment from getting redress from the Court.
– It is another form of the guillotine.
– Yes; but this guillotine will not cut off the heads of the workers. They will remember this legislation, and take direct action in future. I have always advocated arbitration, and I do hot wish to see the Court weakened. The Government would be well advised to withdraw the amendment. If they are afraid that Mr. Justice Higgins may give an award which they think may not be in best the interests of Australia, they should tak© the manly, straightforward course of removing him from his office as President of the Court. Let them be honest as to what they mean, and not by a subterfuge try to displace him or prevent him from doing the work he was appointed to do. Let the Government remove him from office if they dare. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) stated that a number of the big unions are dissatisfied with arbitration. That is true; they are dissatisfied on account of the difficulty of getting access to the Court, and one of them has decided not to approach it again. The Coal Miners Federation pulled out of the Arbitration Court, and refused to go near it, but other workers, although they have experienced difficulty, have been loyal to the Court, and have obtained awards from it. Amongst them are the seamen, the marine engineers, and the gas workers. The Government’s action is calculated to destroy their faith in the Court. We have been told by some honorable members that the Australian workman is a loafer. No other construction can be placed upon the words of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster). They said that the Australian workman goes slow, and that he is not to be compared with workers in other parts of the world.
– I did not say that.
– I understood the honorable member to say that the Australian worker was afflicted with a tendency to go slow.
– I distinctly referred to the substitution of women for men in the workshops of Great Britain during the war, and the greater amount of .work they performed, because the men had formerly indulged in a go-slow policy.
– I have had, the good fortune to work in both Great Britain and the United States as well as Australia at the trade which I learned here, and I know that the Australian workmen compare favorably with the workmen of either of those countries.
– Some people are never satisfied unless they are libelling their own country.
– Some people are never satisfied unless they are crying “ stinking fish.” That is not my policy. Provided they are given the opportunity, Australian workmen can do at least as well as the workers of other countries. As illustrating the extraordinary position in which we find ourselves, I quote the following report from to-night’s Herald -
The attitude of the Labour executives was trenchantly stated by Mr. E. J. Holloway, secretary of the Trades Hall Council of Victoria. “ Under instructions from my counsel,” Mr. Holloway said, “ I would like to make a brief reference to a very regrettable incident which has occurred since we commenced this inquiry. My executive has instructed me to point out to your Honour that when some time ago you publicly made a suggestion that this matter of the forty-four-hours’ week should be inquired into, we made every endeavour to meet your wishes. We called conferences in the various States, collected evidence throughout the whole of Australia, and, indeed, tried to scour the world to secure facts that would assist the Court in this inquiry. “ That being so, we feel it is our obvious duty to protest strongly against legislative interference with the Court during the currency of this case.”
– The honorable member may not quote from a newspaper any statement reflecting upon any action of this House.
Mr.TUDOR. - As I am not allowed bo read further from Mr. Holloway’s statement I say precisely the same as Mr. Holloway said. The action of the Government in introducing legislation which will prevent the Judge from giving a decision in this case is absolutely unjustifiable. The Government, while professing to be in favour of industrial peace, are doing more to promote industrial unrest than any previous Government have done. The people who are behind this amendment are the leaders of the Employers Federation, and we are all aware of what that organization has done in the past. At one time, before there was any Arbitration Act at all, the Federation employed a lecturer to go about the country to speak in opposition to the introduction of a Factories Act. The secretary (Mr. Walpole) stated that marriage was a luxury for the workers.
– We have heard all this before.
– It is absolutely true that the Employers Federation employed Mr. Walpole to make that statement and retained him in his position for years after that charge against him had been proved.
– Is not marriage a luxury ?
– That may be the honorable member’s opinion; it is not mine.
– It is my experience, and Ihave been married for over forty years.
– It is the Employers Federation which is backing up the Government in this effort to smash the Arbitration Court.
– Who is behind the honorable member?
– The workers of the community. I would sooner have the workers behind me than the exploiters and shirkers who are making their money out of the workers. I would rather consult the workers in regard to their desires concerning this legislation than I would consult the Employers Federation. I have never threatened, and do not intend to do so now, but the Government, by preventing the President of the Arbitration Court from inquiring into the matter of hours of labour, are doing more to promote industrial unrest than has ever been done in the past. They are doing more than anybody else to back up the “ directactionists “ in the community. According to the sworn evidence given before Mr. Justice Higgins yesterday by Mr. Long, the general secretary for the Boot Employees Union, one of the factories in the electorate which I represent had granted the forty-four-hour week. The employer was quite satisfied that if the men worked longer hours they could not maintain their speed ; but the Employers Federation compelled that factory to revert to the forty-eight-hour week. Any honorable member who votes for this amendment will be responsible for a state of feeling amongst the workers which will create industrial unrest at a time when we all desire industrial peace.
.- I cannot see any logic in the amendment, and for that reason, and not because of the many wild charges which have been made, I intend to vote against it. I believe in reducing the hours of labour as much as is practicable. It is the spirit in which a workman tackles his job rather than the hours he works which determines the quantity of his production-. As the honorable > member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) said to-day, there is a limit to which the hours should be reduced. I am not one to prevent any One obtaining shorter hours if the Court thinks he ought to have them, but I point out to honorable members opposite that there is another side to this question. The man on the land works very long hours, of his own accord perhaps, but in many oases if he did not do so he would not remain solvent; and -those who desire shorter hours in other occupations - as I think they are justified in doing, and they shall have my help in accomplishing their object - ought not to turn round and say that the farmers’ produce shall be commandeered, suffer from embargoes, or have its fair market value lowered in any way in order to provide them with cheap food. The farmer ought to be guaranteed the full value of what he produces.
– We say that the primary producer is entitled to what he produces, and that we will help him to get it.
– I hope that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), and other city members, will remember to do so.
– I have always done so, as my record shows.
– Then, I hope that in the future the man on the land will not have his meat, butter or wheat commandeered. I say these few words in the hope . that honorable members opposite, whom I am prepared to help in securing shorter hours for workers, will see the side of the question I have presented, and be of some help to country members later on if necessary.
.- It seems to me that we are in a very unfortunate position to-day, and for this the amendment proposed by the Government, at the “death knock,” is solely responsible. A short -time ago we spent considerable time in dealing with the Industrial Peace Bill, from which we were told many good things would result. As to that I am sceptical; but, however that may be, the Government have deliberately followed up their negotiations for peace with a direct declaration of war. By the amendment proposed in the Bill before us, war is declared on the whole , of the industrial organizations and work- - ing classes of Australia. We are told that the question of the number of hours to be worked is so important that one Judge cannot decide it, that any reduction will vitally affect an industry, and may involve millions of money ; indeed, one honorable member spoke of hundreds of millions. But may not an increase of wages have similar effects? My own opinion is that an increase of wages is of more moment in this connexion than a reduction of the time’ worked by an bour a day; at any rate, one is just as important as the other. We are told that three Judges are necessary to consider any change in the time worked, but that I regard as mere camouflage and humbug. The hours worked are of no more importance’ than any other of the many phases of industry which have been decided, and are being decided at the present moment, by one Judge in the Arbitration Court. That argument, therefore, falls to the ground, as a mere pretence, which is put forward to serve the purposes of the Government, or of Government supporters. It was the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Poster) or the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) who compared English and American workmen with Australian workmen in the matter of efficiency. Certainly there is “ speeding up”” in America, which I hope to God will never.be introduced in Australia. While the honorable member was speaking I was reminded of something I read in Mr. Foster -Frazer’s book, America at Work. Mr. Frazer observed the /lightning rapidity with which the operatives in a factory worked, and there being no old men to be seen about, he asked one of the bosses where they were. The boss looked at Mr. Frazer with a smile and said, “ Take a cigar, and we will have a drive around the cemetery.” That is what the “speeding-up” system leads to; it is the system which in England, during war time, led to a constant deterioration in the physique of the men as they were called up for service from time to time. If every ounce of energy is taken out of a man; if he is to be allowed no opportunities for relaxation in his ordinary working life, we are on the road to national retrogression and not of national progress. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) discussed whether a forty-four hour week should, or should not, be granted, but that point really has nothing to do with the question before us. The amendment proposed by the Government provides that; on the question of hours, the Judge of the Arbitration Court must call upon two other Judges to assist him ; and the honorable member to whom Ihave just referred admitted that, in some industries, a week of forty-four hours was not too little. If that be so, how do we know that, with the constant changes in the process of manufacture, with possibly the introduction of the use of chemicals, an industry now healthy may become so unhealthy as to make a week of forty-eight hours too long. Then, again, there may, at the present time, be industries of which we have no knowledge, but in which, on health grounds, forty-eight hours is too much, though men are now working, that number each week. Why take from the Judge of the Arbitration Court the power to settle such matters, and constitute an expensive Tribunal of three Judges? To me such a proposal appears to make the Conciliation and Arbitration Act a farce; indeed, I think that is the real intention of the Government. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) made a suggestion which, coming from him, seemed to me strange. He belongs to a party which claims to stand for economy, but he supports the amendment, while expressing the pious hope that the Government will appoint a Commission to revise, i suppose, the whole of our industrial arrangements, and fix the hours of labour. In my opinion, the Judge of the Arbitration Court, who now has to consider the matter of wages, and every phase of industry, is the more fit and proper person to make an award of the kind contemplated. Even if a Commission were appointed to foam all over Australia, the probability is that its report, like the reports of other Commissions, will be thrown, into the wastepaper basket if it does not suit the powers that be.
We have heard a good deal of the old cry, “ Produce more,” and have been told that this country is “ up against it.” Personally, I think that if we manage our financial affairs wisely, we shall be able to meet the position. I am convinced that if the workmen of Australia were working eighteen hours a day, and were producing wealth in proportion to the hours worked, we would not reduce our national debt a penny, because the wealth, as is the case to-day, -would go into the hands of a few. If the wealth produced during the last few years had been called upon to meet its proper obligations, we should not have been in our present financial position; but we have ever the same old cry that, during the war, was addressed to the men on the land - “ Produce more.” The men on the land did produce more, but the persons who benefited were a few middlemen in Australia, and a large number of. middlemen and profiteers on the other side. Our young men were told that our national existence was at stake, and that it was their duty to go to the other side of the world and fight. Now that they have returned, they are told - for the great bulk of them come from the ranks of the workers - to get their heads down, and work hard in order to pay for the war they have won.
– Do you say that the wool-growers and farmers have not been well paid?
– They have not been well paid in comparison with what they did; by manipulations, either here or abroad, they have been deprived or robbed to the extent of nearly half the value of their produce. I agree with all that has been said on this side concerning the motives underlying the introduction of the amendment; and nothing that has been said by honorable members opposite has -affected that view. The old cry about the ruination of industry has been raisedIt is one with which I am familiar. As a boy I worked in a draper’s shop. I began at 7 a.m., and had two breaks, for meals, of three-quarters of an hour each. I “knocked off” at 6 or 7 p.m. for five days of the week, and at 30 or 10.30 p.m. on Saturday nights. Those hours were bad enough; but in the days before that employees began at 7 a.m. and worked until 10 or 11 o’clock every night, and right up. to midnight on Saturdays. When the agitation was raised for Wednesday half-holidays, the cry was heard everywhere, “ Trade will be ruined.’’
However, the reform was secured, and business suffered in no wise. The next step towards decent conditions had to do with the reduction of hours, and again thecry was raised about the destruction of industry. Nowadays, many employees in the line of business at which I worked when a boy start at 9 a.m. and quit at 5 p.m., and they enjoy their Saturdayhalfholiday. But will anybody say that business has been injured or ruined? Statistics prove that, wherever employees have been provided with good conditions and reasonable hours of work, their output has been better and greater. The forty-four hour week will be instituted whether we pass fifty Acts of Parliament, or one hundred, or none at all. As one who has always sought . the solution of our ‘problems constitutionally, who has looked upon industrial upheavals as things to be deplored from . the viewpoint of the worker, and who would do anything to prevent resort to direct action, I am bound to say to the employed classes to-day - who, at last, are getting their due - “ Good luck to you !” I regret that the amendment should have been introduced in the midst of a smoke screen of suspicion.
– What does the honorable member mean?
– I may be better understood if I say that it is altogether a smoky business. I ‘have sought for some genuine reason for its introduction, but the Government have either not cared to furnish one, or have been unable to do so.
Dr.MALONEY (Melbourne) [5.53].- I resent the remarks of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I had thought that, in these days of the supposed spread of knowledge upon sanitary matters, no man would dare to suggest that to work in a mine could be healthier than to engage in an avocation upon the surface of the earth. Such an argument is beyond my comprehension. The amendment is aimed at one man whose greatness has illumined the Bench. Possessing a keen memory of one who stood out like a star on a midsummer night - I refer to the late George Higinbotham - I must say that I know of none so worthy, as Mr. Justice Higgins to wear the mantle of that great Judge..
The , record in ‘ this Legislature of the President of the Arbitration Court is something with which to conjure. His career in the State Parliament also, and in public life generally, has been such that I wish I could speak in anything like the same praise of any of our other Judges. Is not a Judge such as he - or, indeed, any Judge - deemed capable of determining whether hours of employment should be decreased? Possibly the greatest organizing genius in Great Britain to-day is Lord Leverhulme, of Port Sunlight. He has publicly stated) in effect: “I have reduced the hours for my men to forty-eight per week, and of my women employees to forty-four, and I am getting a greater return of production than ever before.’’ But the honorable member for Dampier may say that, in view of the war, we must produce and produce. In the Parliamentary Library will be found three books which I invite him to study. In one, Lord Leverhulme advocates the six-hour day. I have here the other two volumes, which I strongly commend to the attention of the honorable member for Dampier. One is entitled The Works Manager To-day. It deals with the subject of fatigue and of accidents. It shows that most accidents in manufactories occur after the sixth hour, and that the seventh and eighth hours furnish the deadly periods. The other book, entitled Industrial Administration, is also a stout condemnation of long hours of toil. I plead with the Government to eliminate the objectionable portion of the amendment. Judges, as a rule, are wide readers. They can secure up-to-date information from various sources, and it is ridiculous to suggest that any one Judge is not sufficient, or sufficiently equipped, for the purpose of determining hours of employ-‘ ment. To revert to Lord Leverhulme, in the course of his advocacy of the eighthour day, he pointed out that he had not built his model homes for the sake of charity, but as a business proposition. He said, “ I propose to make 3 per cent.’ clear. I do not want my workmen to’ come to my works tired through having to hang on to straps in tram-cars. I have, given them healthy cottages and healthy surroundings.” That they are healthy is proved by the death rate figures. The mortality within three miles of Port’
Sunlight is double what it is in this garden city. I am glad to learn that this great “ Socialist,” as I termed him when I heard those remarks, is now advocating a six hours day. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members who would oppose such a proposition.
– During the debate a good deal of matter, although not altogether irrelevant, has been introduced, in such a way as to cloud the real issue. The suggestion that there is a sinister motive behind the proposal of the Government is absolutely without any foundation, because the decision of Cabinet was arrived at only after careful review of the operation of the Act, and the position occupied by the President of the Court in regard to the leading industries of the Commonwealth. This is not a question of party politics. I ask honorable members not to approach it with a desire to legislate in any direction which might indicate favour to one party or another. Honorable members opposite have pressed the Government very hard to appoint more Deputy Presidents of the Arbitration Court, to sit concurrentlv and deal with the existing congestion of cases. The Government have appointed one Deputy, and have taken power to appoint others. We may have three Justices presiding over arbitration cases in which there may be points common to all. There is quite a number of matters peculiar to the pastoral industry, and it is possible for one Judge to deal with them. A hundred and one conditions may affect solely the saw-milling industry, and they may require the concentration of one mind on them. Again, there are details peculiarly applicable to the agricultural industry. But all the awards of Arbitration Courts operate over a whole continent, and we can easily see that there may be in them important matters common to all.For instance, there are two important matters common to all awards, namely, the basic wage to be paid and the hours of labour to be worked, and, in relation to these two matters, it is highly desirable that a conflict of decisions by the Judges adjudicating in different Tribunals should be avoided. Conflicting decisions have been given in awards affecting the Public Service, and have created a difficulty in the administration of the Service.
– How is it proposed to overcome that difficulty?
– By appointing one Arbitrator, whose sole function will be to deal with the Public Service.
– Quite so, but why not follow the same principle in regard to the Arbitration Court?
– The Public Service Arbitrator will be dealing with one particular service, but the Arbitration Court awards apply to industries extending over the whole of the continent. I want honorable members to disabuse their minds of the suggestion that the Government are looking at this matter from any party point of view. There is no hint or suggestion in anything contained in this Bill that a Judge must give his decision one way or another. Honorable members persist in claiming that the Government’s proposal is to block any reduction in the hours of labour.
– So it is.
– The honorable member repeats the statement, not caring whether it is true or false, and only knowing that the slander may stick. That is not the way in which debates should be conducted in this House. This provision is not intended to operate so as to cause either an increase or a reduction of hours. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt), who proclaims himself an advocate of the shortening of hours of labour, and says he will vote against the Government’s proposal, misconceives the purpose of the provision. It is not intended to prevent the shortening of hours. The only point at issue is whether the decision is to be left to one man, or two, or three, and we propose to leave the decision to a majority of three Justices presiding in the Arbitration Court. There is not an honorable member who wants any man to work a minute longer than it is right for him to work. But we are not concerned with that aspect of the matter. All we are concerned with is that where decisions are given affecting the whole length and breadth of the continent, and every industry in it, they should not be given by one individual.
– Then, why not accept my amendment, which suggested the appointment of two assessors?
– Last week the honorable member proposed the appointment of two assessors. He does not think these matters should be left to the decision of one man.
– I want to know why the Government opposed my proposal forthe appointment of two assessors, and yet bring forward this proposal?
– The honorable member’s proposal was to appoint two assessors, with a knowledge of the particular calling in which they were engaged; but, asI pointed out to him, they would be asked to give decisions on matters affecting the whole of the industries of Australia.
– The honorable member knows that he was at one time an assessor in an Arbitration Court, and that the system broke down.
– Yes, because of High Court decisions.
– Even if the system did break down it is provided for in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 35 provides -
The Court shall on the application of any original party to an industrial dispute, and may without such application, at any stageof the dispute, appoint two assessors for the purpose of advising it in relation to the dispute, and the assessor shall discharge such duties as are directed by the Court or as are prescribed.
The Court has not made use of that provision, and the parties have not applied for the appointment of assessors. The question before us is whether on certain mattersof a far-reaching character the decision should be left to one individual. Some honorable members have said that this’ is a matter which the Federal Parliament should decide, and that in respect to the laying down of conditions affecting the whole of the community, such as shortening the hours of work, nothing should be done without the consent of Parliament. But as a legislative body, although we can make laws for the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration, we cannot give a Judge power to introduce in an award anything like a common rule.
– We cannot introduce a common rule.
– No. Some honorable members evidently entertain the idea that the Government are proposing it in this Bill, but such is not the case. This Parliament has not power to introduce a common rule. All it can do is to appoint Judges to adjudicate on the matter of conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of one State. The one point at issue is whether the question of hours should be left to one Judge, or whether more than one should participate in the decision. The question of whether the hours of labour should be increased or decreased ought to be decided by a majority of the Judges on the Bench. An honorable member has asked, by way of interjection, why, if it is necessary to have the question of hours dealt with by a Bench of three Judges, the Government do not think it necessary to have questions as to rates of wages dealt with by more than one Judge. The answer is that at the present time a Royal Commission, appointed by the Government, is taking evidence in regard to the basic wage question, and that the whole matter will have to come up for consideration.Both are important considerations, and the appointment of a Commission to take evidence as to the basic wage is a recognition of its fundamental bearing on every industry. This is not a questionof party politics. The proposal made by us is as much in the interests of the workers as of any one else.
– In what way?
– Because the facts as to the lengthening or shortening of the hours of employment ought to be carefully sifted, in order that a true opinion may be arrived at.
– Does the honorable gentleman suggest that justice has not been done in the case of allawards made by the Court?
– Not for one moment. The honorable member knows very well that it is a general practice on the part of the whole community to bring collective wisdom to bear on any question of importance.
– Who is the third proposed Deputy whose collective wisdom the Government wish to secure ?
– He will be either a Justice of the High Court, or a State Supreme Court Judge. “
– Has not the honorable gentleman got him in mind ?
– I have not. We are asked why we desire that applications to the Court with regard to hours of labour shall be dealt with by three Judges. My reply is that it is a matter that cuts both ways. There might be an application for an increase as well as an application for a reductionof the hours of employment.
– There will be no increase in the hours of labour in Australia.
– We hope there will not be; but we do not know. what lies ahead of us. History tells us of disasters that have arisen from circumstances beyond our control, and we desire so to frame our laws as to be able to meet whatever may be. the conditions with which we are confronted. The regulation of the hours of labour is of common interest to all industries, although the particular conditions of an industry may determine what should be the hours worked by those employed in it.
– The position is the same in regard to wages.
– i have already said so. There is also the further consideration that a reduction of the hours of labour in one industry might affect the operations of another.
– Can the honorable member instance any Commonwealth Statute that has interfered with the hearing of a case during its progress?
– This will not prevent the hearing of the case now in progress.
– It will.
– We .are merely providing that the jurisdiction of the Court on a certain point shall be exercised by three Judges.
– Will it affect a case already before the Court?
– The Bill will begin to operate as soon as it is passed, but it cannot do an injustice to any one. There is nothing in this proposal to support the sinister suggestion that has been made.
– If the suggestion were put that the Government were carrying out some one else’s behest in order to defeat the decision of the President of the Court, would this not be an apt way of doing that?
– That suggestion is absolutely without foundation, and is made deliberately in or.der that it may go out to the country. It is unfair, improper, and quite unworthy of the honorable member. The honorable member is aware that on a former occasion where a plaint had been issued, and a case was absolutely pending, this House amended an Act to enable certain proceedings to be affected.
– But the hearing of that case had not commenced-.
– It was about to start, and the amendment of the Act was deliberately made to assist one of the parties. When that action on the part of the Government then in power was being criticised in the House some of the present members of the Labour party prevented its further discussion by taking the point of order that the case was sub judice. There is absolutely nothing to support the suggestion that this proposed new clause is designed to prevent a reduc-tion of the hours of employment. It is merely intended to prevent either the lengthening or the reduction of the hours of employment except upon a judgment delivered by a bench of three Judges.
– The application of the proposal to any attempt to extend the hours of employment has only a secondary consideration on the part of the Government.
– That is not so. How will this provision operate? It has been suggested by the Opposition that it will tend to delay the hearing of cases. I differ from that view. If on the hearing of a plaint the presiding Judge finds that one of the matters at issue is a proposal to increase the hours of labour he will immediately call in two of his fellowJudges so that that point may be decided. A decision having been arrived at, he may then proceed to deal with the remaining issues, and base his award upon the judgment of the three Judges as to the hours of labour. It . is not proposed that in every case that comes before the Court three Judges shall hear the whole plaint from A to Z.
– How long does the honorable gentleman think it would take the Court to deal with a question of hours?
– It should not take very long.
– Will these additional Judges be temporarily or permanently appointed?
– The tenure of office is set out in the Act. The Justices of the High Court who are called on to act under this clause will not receive a penny more than they are now paid. If one of the Judges of the High Court is not available a State Supreme Court Judge may be appointed.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) to delete portion of the proposed new clause has formed the subject of discussion for some time. I do not propose to detain honorable members at any length, but I think I should set out the position as I see it. First of all, it is well to get down to basic principles. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which has been amended many times, is the assertion in terms of legislation of a . principle to which this House and the country have long been committed. It asserts, in effect, that industrial disputes, like other disputes, must be dealt with by appeal to reason rather than to. force. There is no reason why the same principles that apply to ordinary disputes between individual citizens should not be applied to industrial disputes. The principles of justice are and must be the same as applied to all disputes. So much is obvious. We have now to consider what the framers of the Constitution, in the first place, intended by clothing the Commonwealth with power to deal with industrial disputes, and to ask ourselves what was the object which this Legislature had in- mind when it placed the Conciliation and Arbitration Act on the statute-book. The intention of both the powers of the Constitution and of this Parliament was the same, namely, to ensure, or, at any rate, to promote, industrial peace. Industrial peace is, indeed, a thin? most fervently to be desired. And. society does right to provide the means for ensuring peace. But it’ is very obvious, when we consider the industrial situation as it exists today, indeed, as it has existed from the beginning of time, that bv no effort of ours -can we ensure to those engaged in industry more than the industry itself produces. From that it follows that applications to the Court for the settle’ ment of industrial disputes must have due regard to the effect that any award may have upon production. In the main, industrial disputes gravitate about two major points - (1) wages, and (2) hours. The effect of increasing the amount of wage beyond a certain point is obvious. If a man produces in a given time a product which is worth, say, £1, his wages will not be £1-; they will be £1, less the wear and tear of machinery, the interest on the capital invested in plant, the rent of the premises or ground upon which the article is made, and also the ‘profit to the person who has invested his. capital. The residuum should go to labour. If a larger proportion is deducted from the share paid to capital than is economically just, then capital will no longer - indeed, can no longer - continue to be invested in that industry. Similarly in regard to hours, it is very obvious that, all other things being equal, and such a number of hours being predicated as will not exhaust the worker, the fewer the hours worked, the less the wealth produced. These are basic facts. Now let us look at the present position. We have just emerged from a war, in which we lost 60,000 of the best of our wealth producers. At least another 40,000 have ceased to be first class effectives; they have sunk from grade Al to grade B or grade C. At this very moment the community has to bear a crushing burden of debt amounting to between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000, and it has, therefore, with a fewer number of wealth producers, to produce much more than it did before the war. The community is faced with those fundamental facts. It is suggested that the Legislature has no concern as to how many hours labour is engaged - that we may safely leave the determination of the number of hours to a Court presided over by one Judge. I venture to say, as, indeed, the President of the Arbitration Court himself has said on several occasions, that it is the function of the Legilature to prescribe the number of hours. It is far too great a responsibility to place on the shoulders of any one man. If any one man attempted to legislate - for the judgments of the Courts are, iu effect, industrial laws - over the whole field of the social, commercial, and economic activities of the Commonwealth, the citizens would rise and demand his removal. They would say, “ This is not Democracy, but despotism ; this is not representative government, but government by a dictator.” What sphere of human activity most intimately .affects the whole community? Clearly it ‘is the economic sphere, yet it is suggested that in that wide and important sphere, which is coextensive with the activities of practically every citizen in the community, one man shall determine the rate of wage every worker shall get. and the hours of his labour. When the Government, finding itself., .owing to the limitations imposed by the Constitution, in a position which no other .Government in the civilized world occupies - being denied the opportunity to bring before this Legislature a measure which will enable the Legislature to say, after careful inquiry by experts, and mature deliberation, what is a fair number of hours in all the circumstances, to prescribe as the minimum and maximum, having due regard to the health and welfare of the workers and the- whole community - suggest to the House that these onerous and responsible functions shall be exercised by three Judges, we are told that we are undermining the foundations of trade unionism and are striking a blow at the very fabric that has been industrially reared during the last sixteen years by the Arbitration Act. Such criticism will not bear examination for a moment. It would be nothing less than an appalling, tragedy if to-morrow the hours of labour were fixed at forty per week. Nothing would prevent this country falling into a state of chaos. We could not bear the burden of debt that rests upon our shoulders if the energies of the community were thus abruptly arrested and the production of wealth correspondingly decreased. Of course, we are told that the reduction of hours does not mean a reduction of output. Up to a certain point I agree with that contention. I grant you that a man’s strength is not in proportion to what he eats. Not those who eat the most are the strongest physically or develop the greatest amount of energy. But does not common sense tell us what must bo the inevitable result if the supply of food is reduced below a certain quantity? So in regard to hours of labour. And we have approached very near to the border line. If there had been no war, and our circumstances were other than they are, we might have contemplated a reduction of hours to forty per week with some degree of equanimity. But we have to pay something as the price of victory. All the people of this country are asked to do is to work a reasonable number of hours, and all that the Government ask is that the number of hours to be worked shall be determined by three Judges, and not by one. Does that involve any violation of the ‘ basic principles of justice? If any honorable member says it does, let us look at the prin- ciples of justice from the beginning.’ There is not one wrong which a “citizen suffers in respect of which he may not appeal from a magistrate to a higher’ Court, and finally to a full Bench. But in this matter, which is vital to the welfare of the community, once the thing is done -it- cannot be undone; once we get down to forty hours we cannot go up again. The people will never turn’ back, and who is to blame them? They will ‘say, “ The Judge says it is right, and therefore it is right.” That is too great a responsibility to be thrust on the shoulders of one man. His Honour has said several times that the fixing of hours of labour is a function of the Legislature, but, unfortunately, this Legislature is not clothed with the necessary authority. In. the circumstances, therefore, the Government ask this Chamber to agree that this vitally important matter shall be settled by three Judges. It may be asked why the question of hours should be settled by three Judges when the question of wages is settled by only one. Let me answer that. The question of the basic wage has engaged the attention of the Government, and at the elections it was put before the people as one of the matters for which the Government stood. We have appointed a Commission to inquire into and fix what is a fair wage for a man, his wife, and three children. That question is to be settled, not. in relation to one particular industry, but in relation to all industries. The question of hours has no less an important bearing; indeed, in my opinion, it has a far more important bearing on production than has that of wages. We are creatures of habit, and we have escaped being tramps and loafers because of the spur of necessity, and because work has become a habit. If we say to the people, “ You shall not work more than six hours a day,” what do we do? We do something more than hand a man more wages than he formerly received - we destroy wealth at its source. We sap the fountain of the energies of the people - that perennial fountain from which all our wealth and progress have come. Hours, therefore, stand in .a different category from all other considerations. But if they stood in the same category as wages, my answer is that we have appointed a Tribunal outside the Arbitration Court to consider wages. We are now ask- ing that three Judges, and not one, shall decide the number of hours to be worked. Let me remind honorable members of one other fact. The men who are to hear these cases, in addition to the present Judge, are not men untried or unaccustomed to dealing with such matters ; they are the very men who, in their individual capacity, do hear such cases. Deputy Presidents, for example, hear a case to-day; one Deputy President may say the hours shall be forty-four, another that they shall be forty-three, and a third that they shall be forty-five. Does not common sense tell us that if we desire to preserve industrial peace, it is better to have uniformity ? Does not common prudence suggest that it is better that the united wisdom of three men should be at the disposal of the community in deciding this vitally important matter? For those reasons I ask the Committee to accept this new clause. It is, in my opinion, an amendment of the law which the circumstances call for, and one which will, I believe, commend itself to the common sense of the people of Australia.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has given us a lecture on economics, but he has not enlightened the Committee on the question we have been dealing with all day. In fact, like the Minister (Mr. Groom) who preceded him, he has given no reasons to justify the Government in asking for an amendment of the arbitration procedure on the question of the hours of labour.
We can all agree with the right honorable gentleman as to the necessity of production being maintained as far as possible, and we also agree that if we get beyond a certain limit in regard to hours, production will be interfered with. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister was not present to-day to hear the arguments on that point.. I do not wish to reiterate those arguments, but history proves - and there has been no better champion of this view than the right honorable gentleman himself - that every time the workman has succeeded in obtaining a reduction of . hoursproductionhas increased. That is a fact, and it cannot be denied. This morning I quoted cases that have recently occurred within my own knowledge and which prove conclusively that, with each reduction of hours, there has been a better return per man of the article produced.
– There must be some time when the limit is reached.
– Quite so; that time will come, but if the time has arrived it should be left to the Judge of the Court to decide the point. The Judge of the Arbitration Court has conducted its proceedings from its inception on a system which the Prime Minister approves, and was instrumental to a large extent in bringing into existence. Is it necessary to take away certain powers from the Tribunal, and, in connexion with certain claims, to compel an appeal to three Judges? I said previously that I would consider it a reflection on the sitting Judge to make this change at a time when a case is actually under consideration. Have we heard one word from the Prime Minister in regard to that point ? Have we heard one word from the Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Groom) as to why legislation like this should be introduced at the eleventh hour ? It is evident that this proposal was not thought of when the Bill was drafted and placed before this Chamber. There was then no mention of this particular clause. Is it an afterthought? Did the Court ask for it? I asked that question this morning, and I ask it again. Did the employers ask for it? Did the employees ask for it? Who asked that this amendment should be made?
– Certainly the employers did not ask for it.
– We know that the employers have been fighting against the proposal for a reduction of hours for a considerable time past. The workers of Australia, in common with the workers in other parts of the world, are seeking to have their hours of labour reduced, and they are adopting constitutional methods to obtain their desire. It is to the credit of the industrial workers, at a time when, as the Prime Minister says, it is necessary to keep the wheels of industry going - when it is necessary to produce the most we can in order to tide us over the present difficult times and those ahead - that those men who have set themselves to the task of keeping the wheels going, have endeavoured to direct the thought of extremists outside who seek to tell the workers that arbitration is nogood - that they are only being hoodwinked by their representatives. These men have takenup the cudgels in favour of constitutional means, and have brought their grievances before the Court.
Now, when a case is being heard by the Judge who has always dealt with such matters, the Government introduce a proposal to take away from that Judge the right of deciding whether or not there shall he a reduction in the hours. T. ask the Prime Minister and honorable members whether they think the Judge, or any other Judge who may be appointed, is going to do anything that may prove disastrous to the best interests of the country? Will he not weigh the evidence and give a decision in keeping with it? Is that not the history of the Court right through? That being so, what need is there for this proposal now ?
Let me remind the Prime Minister of another point on which he did not touch. He says that it is absolutely necessary in this hour of the nation’s’ affairs that no one man shall have the right of deciding what the hours of labour shall be. The Prime Minister was instrumental about a fortnight ago in bringing a measure before the House - the Industrial Peace Bill _ in regard to the machinery clauses of which I* said it was the best measure we had had. Did the Prime Minister ask that, under that Bill, the question of hours should be dealt with by three Judges? He said that there could be three, four, or six representatives of the parties concerned. And whom did he say had to decide ? Was it a High Court Judge or a Supreme Court Judge? No. lt was to be whomsoever the parties could agree on, and if they’ failed to agree the Government would appoint a Chairman. This means that a- layman may be appointed– any member of this House may be appointed. The two sides, we were told, would place their facts before this Chairman. We can hardly conceive a case in which the question of hours does not arise, and after both sides have been heard it is to be left to an individual, who may not even be a Judge, to say whether the hours should be reduced or not. In face of these facts, I ask the Prime Minister what becomes of his argument? I further ask, where is his consistency?
– My answer is very simple. The Special Tribunal under the Industrial Peace Bill is provided for special cases, and I gave an assurance that it would be used only for special cases.
– We can make as many special cases as we like. What is to prevent registered unions withdrawing their registration, or, if they do not withdraw it, doing something that will compel the Court to deregister them ? Then, byandby, when a grievance arises, such a union may say that it is prepared to accept the Tribunal under the measure to which I have referred. Thus the Special Tribunal having .been created, it is left, it may be, to a layman to decide the question of hours. What is the position into which Ave are getting? Where is our consistency? Where are we drifting, along with the men who are supposed to lead the country in its hour of peril? Do honorable members really think it is necessary to have three Judges / when one has served the purpose hitherto, in view of the fact that in the case of a Special Tribunal even a layman may have the deciding voice? Parliament is really belittling itself if it passes such an amendment as is proposed, and I am surprised that the Prime Minister should stand for such a proposal. I have always had the greatest respect for his opinions in regard to industrial matters, but he’ must be failing when he is prepared to’ argue, as to the question of hours, that a layman may act in one case, while three Judges are necessary in another. Let me say that, in the mining industry, the men have this very question before a Tribunal.
– I do not think we ought to discuss that.
– I quite agree with the honorable gentleman, and I shall not discuss it; but take an imaginary case. Let us suppose that a case goes before a Tribunal for a settlement of the question of hours. When the Judge of the Arbitration Court is asked for a reduction of hours it is said that he cannot adjudicate, but must call in two other Judges to his assistance in order to have a majority vote. That is placing an obstacle in the way of industrial, workers - an obstacle that they may not be able to get over, and it will do much to cause trouble in this country. All honorable members, including myself, must take responsibility for our actions here.
– Is it not fair to say that in the Tribunals to be created there will be at least eight persons dealing with the question of hours?
– Just so; that is to say, four -representatives of the employers and four of the workers. Each side will present its own views. Then there is to be one adjudicator,’ who will have sole final : responsibility ; and he will not be a member of the High Court bench.
– The honorable member is now discounting the Tribunals by which he has been standing.
– I am not. The Tribunals will be useful bodies, but the Arbitration Court should not be placed in a worse position than those Tribunals. If we desire to maintain industrial peace, we should not accept this serious and farreaching amendment.
– The honorable member is destroying the arguments he advanced the other day in connexion with the Industrial Peace Bill.
– No; I am consistent. I have never objected to any one man deciding between contending parties, either in. the Court, or at a round table conference, or in any other way. Since the inception of arbitration - both State and Federal - that has been the principle adopted. Why should it now be departed from ? In recent years every case has been adjudicated upon by one Judge. Why make a change now, and in connexion with so important a phase of the whole industrial subject ?
The Minister in charge (Mr. Groom) stated, earlier in the day, that the amendment would not involve the creation of additional Judges. He held that the Judges would be able to deal first with the question of hours, as they were involved in any one particular case, and, then, would be able to proceed to deal individually with other claims. But do not honorable members perceive that the chief matters associated with industrial disputes involve the questions of hours and wages? Nearly the whole of the time devoted to a case will be occupied upon those phases, and three Judges will be required to concentrate upon them. When the one point as to hours has been decided, it will be for one of the three Judges to determine the remaining points involved ; but what will become of the other two Judges ? They will not be able to go on with separate cases, seeing th”* the question of hours may again be the foremost factor for consideration. And the two Judges will not be able to consider the question, for the reason that the law lays down that three Judges are required. Thus, while there will be nothing gained, congestion is bound to follow. There will be no relief such as the appointment of Deputies is expected to bring about.
I am not speaking from a party viewpoint. I strongly urge the Government to postpone consider j ti on of the amendment. Nothing is of such importance to Australia as industrial peace. If we want to maintain that state of affairs, the workers must be persuaded that the Legislature has no desire, by this or any other legislation, to take advantage of them. If a case is presented to the Court there is no danger of the Court giving a decision which will prove disadvantageous to the country. The Court may be relied upon to deal .with any and every matter according to the evidence adduced. Then why should the Government endeavour to introduce a new and fax-reaching principle at the eleventh hour ? I had hoped that this measure would meet a long-felt want. I thought we were about to amend our Conciliation and Arbitration law9 in order to make them work more smoothly; and we have gone a long way in that direction. But, suddenly, the Government raise this barrier. The speeches of honorable members throughout the debate have been almost totally against the amendment. Only about two honorable members, beside members of the Government, have sought to justify its acceptance; but none of its supporters has been able to advance arguments of weight. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) himself has now endeavoured to make a case, but it is a very poor one. He has said nothing which would justify honorable members in stultifying themselves. I appeal to them not to be carried away by party considerations, but to hold in clear view the best interests of the country, and to assure themselves whether or not they are doing the right thing by bringing about an entirely new principle for dealing with that great phase of industrial unrest bound up in the question of hours of employment. I especially press that view-point in the light of the fact that there is a case at present before the Court, in which this very subject is involved.
– Has the honorable member never been a party to the bringing in of a Bill to deal with a case that was tub judice 1
– I am not going to say that a Bill was not brought in in somewhat similar circumstances: but the case was certainly not before the Court at the time.
– The Treasurer alludes to a Bill which he himself brought in when I was a very loyal follower of the Prime Minister and his Government.
– You did not follow me.
– As for that, we have been in the same boat. However, the point taken is quite apart from the present issue. If we did bring in a measure when a case was listed, I am prepared to say that it was not actually being heard.
– It was the most flagrant departure from justice that I ever heard of.
– If such was the case, thenI stand corrected. I am not going to say that it was so; but, if a wrong was committed in that case, two wrongs do not make a right.
– This is not a wrong, but a right.
– The Prime Minister says the other was wrong, but that this is right. It is a case of “ heads, I win; tails, you lose.”
– Does the honorable member say that the other was wrong ?
– This proposition, at any rate, is absolutely wrong. Honorable members will be well advised to carefully consider what they are about to do.
– The honorable member is thinking of outside political considerations.
– No; political considerations do not weigh with me in the slightest at present, nor have they done for some time past. My people do not bother me. I feel that I have their support, and I believe that I will have it again if I should decide to continue to ask for it. But that is another matter, which lies with the future. At present I am dispensing with political feeling. My claim is solely that the amendment will not prove to be in the best interests of the country. The Prime Minister will admit that, like himself, I have some means- of gauging industrial opinion.
– Does not the honorable member think thatI believe this proposal is right?
– I am not saying that I do not think so; but the fact that the Prime Minister may think it is right does not make it right.
– And because the honorable member thinks it wrong, that does not make it wrong.
– True; but seeing that there has been satisfaction with existing procedure, and in view of the fact that the President of the Court is actually at present dealing with a case in which the very subject-matter of the amendment is involved, it is a bad thing for the Federal Legislature tostep in in order to prevent the Judge from proceeding to his decision.
– There has never been a case like this before; there has never been such an inquiry.
– True again. It would be to the discredit of this Parliament if there were too many incidents like the present.
– There has never before been an inquiry such as this.
– There have been all sorts of inquiries. There have been applications to make a common rule all over Australia, in connexion with specific matters; but, because of the limitations of the Constitution, the applications have not been allowed. There have been inquiries similar to the present.Those Ministers who have spoken in defence of the amendment have stated that the principle involved is vital to Australia. Honorable members require to be exceedingly careful of their actions at this critical stage. It must be remembered that, before coming to a determination upon such a matter as is here involved, the Judge would be careful to secure evidence from every part or Australia in relation to all phases of industry. Do honorable members believe that the Judge concerned would make an award which would enforce the same conditions upon every industry ? It is absolutely necessary, in order that he should be in a position to deal with a question of this character, that evidence should be adduced from every source. I am reminded that the Prime Minister himself secured a forty-four hour week for his own uniontheWaterside Workers.
– When was that?
– In 1916.
– And good luck to you,. Billy!
– I do not recall it; I do not think that is so.
– Yes; the award of the Court was in 1916.
– And I say, also, all credit to Mr. Hughes.
– The amendment does not set forth that the hours shall not be reduced to forty-four, but that they shall not be further diminished from such as exist to-day.
– What the amendment implies is that the Judge cannot deal with the matter at all, but that there must be three Judges, and I repeat that that is a position, or a principle, which has never before been propounded in the history of arbitration.
– There has never before been any serious suggestion of a fortyhour week.
– There have been serious suggestions to secure from the Court a reduction of hours.
– We cannot run Australia on a forty-hour week.
– I am not arguing that. It is apart from the question altogether. The question is as to what the hours should be; and the Judge who is hearing the matter is expected, after hav-. ing sifted evidence from all required sources, to give a decision in accordance with that evidence. It is not within the province of this Legislature to consider the matter of hours. We have no such power under the Constitution. All the Parliaments of Australia - State and Federal - have refrained from touching upon the specific matter of hours, and have been content to leave it to the Arbitration Courts.
– That is not so. It is about twenty-three years since the New South Wales Government passed a Factories Act.
– But no Government has passed an eight hours Act, although for years past there have been efforts to secure- such legislation.
– But an Act in respect of an eight hours day would be dealing with the phase of maximum hours.
– The point is that the Legislatures throughout Australia have never passed such a Statute, because they have held that it is far better to leave the matter of actual conditions to Tribunals appointed for the purpose of dealing with them. And, so far as the Commonwealth Parliament is concerned, I emphasize that we have not the power, even if we wished to act. Here, however, we are endeavouring to alter established conditions, so far as the arbitration machinery is concerned. I warn honorable members to be very careful. Let them weigh the matter well. Do not let them be carried away by party considerations.. In dealing with a matter of this kind, we should be guided only by a desire to do what is best in the interests of this country, and we could not better conserve the interests of Australia than by keeping the wheels of industry going. We cannot hope to keep them going, however, if we put obstacles of this kind in the way of the union leaders. Can we expect them to urge the members of their unions to be content to go to the .Court if we pass a provision of this kind? We shall only place them in a false position.
– When the honorable member speaks of this proposed new clause threatening the industrial peace of the country, I am led to remind him that only a few weeks ago the union with which he is most concerned said that it would not go, in any circumstances, to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court; and told me that, unless the Government created a Special Tribunal to deal with its grievances, it would go out on strike. We created that Tribunal. It is now sitting, and I am glad to say we have averted a great industrial crisis.
– I give the Prime Minister every credit for the creation of that Tribunal, which is open to any organization which chooses to secure deregistration. The question of hours of employment in the industry, if it comes before that Tribunal, will be decided by one man - the Chairman. Why should the Government depart from the position they took up a few weeks ago in creating that Tribunal, and making it possible for such a question to be determined by the Chairman, by now introducing a new clause, under which it will be necessary for three Judges to deal with any application to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court for a reduction of hours?
– Such cases as may go “ before the Special Tribunal may be dealt with in the way suggested by the honorable member. His union and the Seamen’s Union would not go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– And many other unions will not go to the Court if we pass this new clause.
– How can we hope that, the Court will promote industrial peace if the only unions that will go to it are those which will not fight?
– That is» no answer to my argument. At the present time, certain organizations are endeavouring to have their claims heard by the Court, and there is a case now pending in regard to the reduction of hours. The Government are now saying to the unions “Any question relating to the reduction of the hours of employment must be decided by three Judges.” Could anything be more calculated to sap the faith of industrialists in the principle of arbitration? I move -
That all the words after the end of subclause (3) be omitted from clause 6a.
.- I wish to make a few remarks in justification of the vote I intend to give. Fairly early in the discussion I intimated that, unless better reasons were given than I had yet heard in support of the proposed new clause, I should be compelled to vote against it. I am exceedingly reluctant to vote against the Government, but since I last spoke I have hot heard advanced any reason that to my mind is a sufficient justification for supporting the clause. It seems to me that there are two assumptions underlying all the speeches I have heard in favour of this proposal. The first is that a reduction of the hours of labour would be disastrous.
– Who has said that?
– That is the underlying assumption.
– It is a mistaken assumption.
– That is my reading of the speeches I have heard.
– No one has advanced such a contention.
– That is so, and it could not, in fact, be contended that a reduction of the hours of labour would be disastrous. That, however, is the underlying assumption - and a false assumption - of all the speeches I have heard-
– They have not been based on any such assumption.
– I may be wrong, but that is the conclusion to which I have come. It has been admitted on both sides that a reduction of the hours of labour would not necessarily be disastrous - that they might be reduced with advantage to a certain point, but that any re duction beyond that point would lead to inefficiency and a reduced output. The second underlying assumption is that, in the event of this new clause being rejected, there would be a disastrous reduction in the hours of labour. I wonder whether my honorable friends can dispute that statement.
– No one has said anything of the kind.
– No one has; but that is the assumption underlying the arguments of those who have supported this new clause.
– Nothing of the kind.
– That’ is the assumption on which their arguments were based. There is a third assumption, and I challenge my honorable friends to contradict me - that the Court which would deal with the matter of the reduction of the hours of labour under the law as it at present exists, is either biased or incompetent. In discussing a matter of this kind, I do not feel myself at liberty to assume either bias or incompetence on the part of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. A Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has been established, and I ,must assume that that Court, for the purpose for which it has been created, is unbiased and unprejudiced. The one point that has been made against the position I take up was advanced by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce). My honorable friend is, as a rule, exceedingly logical, but on this occasion, he departed from his usually logical method. The objection which he urged against the law as it stands was that it is dangerous to leave to the decision of one man a question of such magnitude as the hours of labour in any industry. My answer to that is that, even if this new clause be agreed to, questions of equal magnitude will still be left to the determination of the very man in whose hands he refuses to place the decision of the question of the hours of labour. The determination of the wages to be paid in any industry is quite as important, and of just as much magnitude, as is a question relating to the hours of labour. After all, the hours of labour are only wages expressed in terms of time. If I pay a man £4 a week, and require him to work four hours a day, I have two courses open to me if I wish to cut down his wages by half. I can either reduce his wages by £2 per week for a four -hour * day, or I can double his hours of labour. The result in’ each case is the same. I am doubling the work done for me for the same wage, or I am cutting down by half the wages paid in respect of the same time.
– That is another assumption.
– That is my view of the situation.
– If I have departed tonight from a logical attitude, then my honorable friend in his last statement has followed me.
– We are all prone to follow a bad example; but I do not think I have adopted an illogical attitude in so far as this matter is concerned. I see no difference between the magnitude of a question as to the hours during which a man shall labour in any industry and that of a question as to the wages which shall be paid. An industry may be killed either by unduly reducing the hours of employment or unduly increasing the wages paid. Why we should pick out the one condition and exclude all the others, so far as this matter is concerned, I am unable to understand. I shall vote against the proposed new clause, because no sufficient reason for it has been advanced. Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) - and no man in Australia would be better able than he is to advance a reason, if it was possible to find one, to justify this proposal - was unable to do so. I listened most carefully and with a perfectly open mind to his able speech, but I am still unconvinced as to the necessity for this new clause. It is with the greatest reluctance that I shall vote against the Government, but I must do so in this case.
.- I rise again on account of some of the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). I have followed very carefully every speech made on this subject to-day because I recognise that the question of maximum production is the most important affecting the people of Australia at the present time. I have endeavoured to learn if there is any scientific basis for the Government’s proposals in regard to the regulation of the hours of labour. The arguments have seemed to me singularly weak, as regards the adjustment of this matter by simply appointing additional Judges. This problem cannot be determined by two more Judges or twenty more Judges. It must be decided upon a scientific basis after a scientific investigation of the facts. The Prime Minister reminded us that the question of a basic wage is being investigated by a Royal Commission. The President of the Arbitration Court is much more competent to determine what a basic wage should be than he is “to. decide what number of hours should be worked in an industry. It seems to me that we are neglecting the lessons taught by the war, and are debating this matter just as we might have done five or six years ago. During the interim the whole world has been a laboratory in which to try out the proper method of arriving at industrial conclusions. Every country has been considering the number of hours that the workers should be called upon to work, but no country has proposed that the problem should be solved by one Judge or two Judges. In England every report on this question has been produced by a Committee, at the head of which was a medical man like Sir George Newman, or other eminent men, who have been asked to sit in deliberation on the problem. In this Bill, we have an opportunity to place our finger on a rotten spot in the industrial system, viz., the unscientific determination of basic principles without bringing all the facts into account. I appeal to the Prime Minister to accept the proposal of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) to drop this clause and introduce another Bill which will provide for the hours of labour being properly determined by a competent Commission or the Institute of Science and Industry. It has been stated that the reduction of hours will result in a proportionate decrease of production. The facts are that, no’ to a certain point, nearly every reduction in hours has resulted in both a total as well as an hourly increase in production. I pointed out this morning that, by the reduction of men’s hours in England from 58.2 to 52.2 per week, the hourly output was increased 37 per cent., and the total weekly output 22 per cent. It was found also, as a result of independent investigation and experiment, that forty one hours was the optimum number that women should work in factories and laborious avoca- tions.
– The honorable member is disproving one of the main contentions of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). He said that the Court is competent to decide this matter ; now the honorable member says that the Court is incompetent.
– It is incompetent.
– The Court’s mind would be influenced by the expert evidence obtained in the way the honorable member suggests.
– Yes. Whether there were two more Judges or five more Judges, the question would be and should be determined according to the weight of scientific evidence.
.- The Prime Minister stated that, because the Commonwealth had lost 60,000 of its best producers, its ability to produce is reduced. I remind the Committee that Great Britain’s losses in men were ten to one of Australia’s losses ; yet that country is reducing the hours of labour. Is the Mother Country declining on that account? On the contrary, it is commencing to build up its manhood. In every industry in the Old Country the tendency hasbeen, and is to reduce the hours of labour. The Prime Minister’s argument, in regard to the loss of producers during the war, applies to every country engaged in the war; yet all are reducing the hours of labour.
– They had plenty of scope for reduction. How many hours did they work before the war ?
– In Great Britain the building and iron trades worked eight hours per day. They now work forty-four hours per week.
– While the war was on they worked two twelve-hour shifts in some industries.
– And suffered a reduction in output.
– Not at all.
– The Prime Minister argued that it is necessary that the question of hours should be determined by three Judges instead of one. At the commencement of the war the Allied Armies were under divided control. At a late stage in the war the command was unified, and under that system victory was achieved.
– A few days ago the honorable member moved an amendment to make the Arbitration Court consist of three persons.
– Yes; and honorable members opposite show their inconsistency by opposing that amendment and now supporting the proposal of the Government to refer all questions of hours to three Judges instead of one. My proposal was that two practical laymen, representative of the employers and employees respectively should sit with the Judge in the Arbitration Court. Honorable members opposite opposed that; but pressure has been brought to bear upon them, and now they propose to create a Court of three persons, who shall not be laymen.
– I have had the honour of appearing before the honorable member when he was an assessor in the Arbitration Court.
– I conducted myself in a most respectful way?
– And the honorable member gave me the decision I wanted.
– At that time the Prime Minister was on the side of the worker. To-day, I think, he is on the side of the “ fat man.” I have received information this week that the whole of the iron trades in New South Wales have decided to work only forty-four hours.
– Then, what is the honorable member kicking at? They do not bother about the . Court.
– I am indicating the tendency throughout Australia, All the building trades in Victoria have been working forty-four hours for the last twelve years. The building trades in New South Wales also are seeking a forty-four hour week, whilst the Australian Workers Union is working a forty-four hour week in the shearing industry throughoutthe Commonwealth. The Government are trying to keep back the tide with a broom. The forty-four hour week must come.
– How many bricks are laid daily now?
– About half as many as formerly.
– The honorable member for Wakefield is a champion slanderer of his own country. I would be ashamed to be a representative of the people if I held them in contempt as he does.
– I can prove every word I say.
– The honorable member should go to his constituency to prove his statement.
– I think the Australian worker is the best in the world. I would far rather deal with him than with the other crowd.
– I have worked with men on the other side of the world and with Australians, and I say that the latter are not inferior to the workers in any country.
– What the honorable member for Wakefield means is that a lot of men are advocating the ‘ ‘ go-slow “ policy, and a lot of fools are listening to them.
– The Committee must realize that with the improvements in machinery and the advance of scientific discovery the world’s wants can be produced with lesser hours of labour. We should place no obstacle in the way of a reduction of hours. The men best qualified to say what hours should be worked in an industry are those who have had opportunities of considering every aspect of the industry and hearing evidence from both sides. While the President of the Arbitration Court is engaged in hearing a claim in regard to the reduction of hours, Parliament is asked to declare that no single Judge shall give a decision in this matter. Is not that a direct blow at the Arbitration Court and its President? The men interested in that claim will be justified in assuming that the Government are apposed to them, for the Minister in charge of the Bill has not said that this amendment will not apply to any case that is part heard. Obviously, therefore, the aim of the amendment is to strike a blow at the President of the Court and to prevent him giving a decision in the case which is now proceeding. The country is looking to Parliament for guidance in regard to the hours of labour. Australia will be able to hold its own in output against any country, even if the working week is reduced to forty-four hours. The Prime Minister referred to a forty-hour week. I have heard the right honorable gentleman advocating extreme claims in the Arbitration Court, but he was not so foolish as to refuse to take what he could get. Men usually ask for more than they expect to get, and though they may claim forty hours they may be glad to take forty-four. It does not follow that a Judge, if he were allowed to adjudicate in this matter, would act like a fool and concede any reduction of hours that was claimed. He would give a judicial decision. From the remarks of some honorable members it might be inferred that the President of the Arbitration Court is waiting for an opportunity to ruin the country. Has any award given by the Arbitration Court done injury to any industry? If so, that might be an argument for appointing three Judges, but not one case has been cited in which any award given by the Judge on a question of wages has injured any industry. A party has come into this House to advocate economy, and I ask whether any of its members have considered the cost of appointing an additional two Judges. Every industrial dispute involves a question of hours or wages, so that the three Judges proposed will be all their time engaged, with the result of greater congestion than ever. If this proposal be passed, the case now before the Judge will have to be heard all over again for the information of the Deputy Judges, and if the men are not satisfied they will go to a Tribunal where the decision will be given by a chairman. The Prime Minister has tried to settle a dispute which has lasted at Broken Hill for eighteen months.
– I have not tried to settle it.
– The Prime Minister has taken part in trying to settle it.
– Yes, by request.
– At any rate, the question involved there is that of the hours of labour, and the Prime Minister agreed, with Mr. Storey, the Premier of New South Wales, to appoint Judge Edmunds to settle a matter involving the life or death of mining at the Barrier. Why has the right honorable gentleman changed his opinion?
– If the honorable member and myself had been together he would have followed me and voted for this. All I have said here I have said elsewhere.
– Then I have not heard the right honorable gentleman. In any case, the Judge ofthe Arbitration Court should not be shackled, and if he is, the employees will withdraw from the Court and adopt a more speedy method of obtaining justice.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has for its object the striking out of the important and vital part of the proposed new clause. The principle involved in the clause has been fully debated, and honorable memberson both sides have expressed their approval of it.
– No, they have not.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) accorded his approval of the principle, provided that its adoption did not affect the present inquiry and cases pending, and other honorable members opposite spoke in a similar strain. In my opinion the issue is so vital that it should not be left to the decision of a single Judge. The President of the Court may have his particular view, as may each of the Deputy Judges. At present this is minimized by the fact that there are only the President and a Deputy, but, even so, cases have already shown conflicts of opinion, and an increased number of Deputies means greater room for conflict. Under the circumstances the Government properly feel that there ought to be some co-ordinating authority, some full Bench to guide the industrial Courts and to secure uniformity as far as possible. But the difficulty which I and others feel is that, at the present time, there is an inquiry pending, and certain cases partially heard, and it is not desirable that these cases should be interfered with. I suggest, therefore, that in order to meet the difficulty there should be some Court of appeal, the guidance of which, after a matter has been dealt with by the President or the Deputy, it may be competent for the parties, or even the Judge himself, to seek. Of course, I refer to appeal only as regards the question of hours.
– That would be even more effective for your purpose than the amendment of the Government.
– The effect of it would be-
– To exclude the President altogether on appeal.
– I shall presently quote the honorable member himself in support of the view I am presenting. My point is that a question so grave should receive the imprimatur of a full Bench, and not be decided by one Judge, especially when there are to be three or four Judges dealing with similar matters. A full Bench of Appeal would give the benefit of an authority that could not be disputed. In Victoria, there are Wages
Boards, and from the decision of those Boards an appeal may be made to the Industrial Court of Appeal by either side.
– Did you ever know the employees to win a case at the Industrial Court of Appeal?
– Very few.
– The honorable member should not cast any reflection on that Court, because both the previous Judge and the present Judge are men of unblemished reputation and pronounced impartiality. The suggestion I have made would overcome the difficulty which I and others feel ; and in support of this I will resort to the authority of the honorable member for West Sydney for light and leading. In 1916,. when the honorable member was Premier of Queensland, there was passed by bis Government in the Queensland Parliament an Act dealing with conciliation and arbitration; and in section 19 of that Act there is provided exactly the machinery I suggest now for the purposes of the Bill before us. That section reads as follows: -
Any Judge of the Court may, if he thinks fit, and shall on the application of any party bound by any decision, award, or order, or interested in any proceeding before him, at any stage and upon such terms as he thinks proper, state a case in writing for the opinion of the full Bench, consisting of all the Judges of the Court, including himself, upon any question of law or of fact arising in such proceeding.
Such full Bench shall hear and determine the question, and remit the case with its decision thereon to such Judge, and may make such order as to costs as it thinks fit. Such Judge shall give effect to such decision. A decision of the full Bench given under the foregoing provision shall only be rescinded, varied, or re-opened by the full Bench upon an application in that behalf.
I suggest that the new clause be accepted as proposed, and that the Minister in charge (Mr. Groom) be permitted to add a clause similar to that I have quoted from the Queensland Act.
– Why have three Judges if you are to have a Court of Appeal ?
– The suggestion I have made, if adopted, will prevent any interference with cases now being heard, and it will be competent for either party, if dissatisfied, to take the question of hours to the full Bench.
– According to the honorable member, the full Bench hears a case which is to be referred to the full Bench.
– That is a misconception.
– Are you going to allow the amendment as proposed by the Minister to stand?
– Then the case is heard by three Judges.
– I did not for the moment realize the honorable gentleman’s objection. It will be necessary to have some verbal amendments made in the clause.
– Will the honorable member explain the machinery ?
– It is that, in any plaint before a single Judge, it is competent for any of the parties to the plaint to request that the matter - such as in relation to the decrease or increase of hours - be referred to the full Bench.
– The honorable member forgets that the amendment of the Government stands. The plaint will be heard by the three Judges, so that the appeal will be to themselves. The Prime Minister might say whether he can accept the Queensland legislation.
– It will be interesting to hear the honorable member for West Sydneyon this matter.
– If there is anything in the amendment which is inconsistent with my view it can be altered accordingly. But the point is that, in any plaint before any single Arbitration Judge, it should be competent for any party to the plaint, or for the Judge himself, to request that the matter be referred to the Full Bench.
– But that is substituting the Queensland provision for this.
– That is so. But then we go to the full Bench and secure a decision. I suggest this as a means of getting over our difficulty.
.It is not usual for the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) toinvite me to speak upon a question, but I might say at the outset that I cannot imagine a more disingenuousproposition than thatof the honorable member far Kooyong (Sir Robert Best). He suggests that there might be some modification of the proposal of the Government regarding cases now pending before the Court, and, in particular, with respect to an inquiry which has to do with the question of fixing the hours to be worked in a particular industry. He suggests that there should be an appeal allowed in such cases to the full Bench, which would have the effect of excluding from the full Bench the President of the Arbitration Court, who is now actually hearing a case upon the question of hours.
– On the contrary, I said that he would form one of the Bench.
– Then the effect would be exactly the same as the amendment seeks to bring about, because it would place upon that Tribunal of reference or appeal the new Deputies who, it is suggested, shall be appointed.
I have listened with considerable interest to the debate from its beginning, and I differ from the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) in respect of one point; that is to say, I have heard reasons from the other side concerning why the amendment should be inserted. I have heard reasons advanced by quite a number of honorable members, and by the Prime Minister himself; but I know that they are mot the real reasons for the presentationof the proposal. The Prime Minister informed honorable members, in the course of remarks in which he carefully avoided the issue, that industrial disputes are the same in their nature as legal disputesand, consequently, that they shouldbe decided somewhat in the same manner. The Prime Minister said that, despite that for the past twenty years he has been arguing utterly to the contrary. Daring the past month we have heard honorable members opposite telling us that industrial disputes are entirely different from legal disputes; that the hearing of industrial disputes should not take place in Courts at all; that there should not be Judges or lawyer’s engaged. I agree with all that, but I mention it in order to show how inconsistent is the Prime Minister this evening. He has been acting as a special pleader for the capitalistic interests, which are behind the movement for the insertion of the amendment. He has also suggested that there shouldbe appeals, although he must know that the Labour party - of which he wasonce a member, and its leader - has always stood for finality with regard to adjudication of industrial disputes; has always held that there should not be an appeal from one Court to another, with consequent piling up of expenses, so that they fetter the opportunities which ought to be afforded industrial organizations for bringing disputes before a Court for speedy settlement. Yet the Prime Minister now turns round and adopts arguments entirely contrary to those which he employed when he was a member of this party.
The Prime Minister has referred to the necessity for increased production. No one disputes the need for efficiency, and for the greatest possible production. The whole of the Prime Minister’s arguments have been directed to the shortening of hours.
– A good’ lawyer can always argue both sides of a case.
– Yes, and so also, sometimes, can a bad lawyer. Almost the whole of the argument of the Prime Minister was devoted to matters which are irrelevant, and centred upon the question of the shortening of hours.. It was a demonstration of reasons why hours should not be shortened. He used that argument in support of the amendment. I would draw his attention to some other subjects. True, there is need of efficiency and enhanced production if we are to meet our liabilities. But, in addition to the need for greater production as the result of the war, and as an outcome of administration which has not provided for a full return to the producer for his product, conditions have been allowed to arise which have led to great industrial unrest. There is a grave suspicion on the part of the workers to-day regarding any alterations that may be made in the law, particularly by capitalistic Governments. Some people suspect - and, I think, with justification - that the present Government is a capitalistic Government. We know that at this moment industrial unrest has increased by the fact that profiteering has been allowed to flourish without the Government’ raising a hand against it. Yet, in these circumstances, the Government comes down with a proposition which has never been before the electors. The Prime Minister launches the proposal at a time when the properlyconstituted Tribunal is dealing with the very question of hours to be worked in a particular industry. And, as for that awful catastrophe which has been foreshadowed as being imminent to Australia, if the amendment is not inserted, surely the Government must have perceived that it was impending when the Bill was introduced. At that stage, however, the subject-matter of the amendment had never been mentioned. This Arbitration Court, which for sixteen years has had full power to decide on the question of hours, as well as of wages, is now to have its power in that respect suddenly taken away.
– Not at all, but strengthened.
– The power which the President of the Court has exercised for sixteen years is to be curtailed. The case which he is now hearing is to be taken out of his hands, and handed over to a Tribunal consisting of three Judges, of which he will be one; and it is to be provided that the decision of a majority upon that Tribunal shall be final. Is it not obvious to every honorable member, and to the community generally, that the real reason behind the action of the Government is that they desire to prevent the President of the Court from being able to come to an effective decision on the question of hours of labour? That is strikingly obvious, and it does not matter how many reasons may be advanced to the contrary.
– What is the honorable member’s private opinion, unofficially expressed, concerning the Queensland Act?
– The honorable member cited a section from that Act which has not an application to the present position at all. I would remind him that, although he said he was going to look to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) for light and leading upon the matter1 - in view of the fact that that honorable member was then Premier of Queensland - the provisions of the State Act are not the same as this proposal in any respect, and, in any event, all of them had to receive the approval of one of the most Conservative Chambers in Australia, namely, the Queensland Legislative Council. And, moreover, I was not able to insert in that Act the whole of the pro- visions which I had desired to include, in the interests of the people generally.
– Well, what would you have put in?
– Was not that which I quoted your clause, originally, in the Bill?
– When the doctor is sent for, he will prescribe ; but I appeal to the Government not to do anything through apprehension concerning what may be Mr. Justice Higgins’ decision, and what it may mean; and not to do anything which will possibly throw the country into a state of industrial turmoil. I do not want to say anything which would incite the people to industrial unrest, but I warn the Government that their .present action will tend to the very opposite effect from that which we all desire for Australia.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) made special reference to myself, and hoped that I would not do anything in the nature of imposing embargoes, and so on. I would remind him’ that during the period when I was Premier of Queensland the primary producers were treated fairly. In proof of that, I would further remind him that when we were first returned to power we defeated the then Tory Government - the Denham Ministry - by a majority of 45 to 27. And, when I had the opportunity to face the electors again, namely, in March, 1918, we were returned with a larger majority - a two to one majority. Our numbers were 48 to 24; and our gains were secured in the primary producing centres of the State.
– After you had “stuffed” the rolls.
– No; that is an utterly false and unworthy suggestion. We were returned with an increased majority because we’ carried out a policy which did justice to the toilers on the land, as well as to the toilers in the secondary industries. In my opinion, the toilers on the land as well as those in secondary industries will not get the full justice to which they are entitled until we have in power in this Parliament a party which stands for the interests of both. What is the use of having in office a Government that is supported by a so-called Country party - I use the word “so-called” without any desire to be offensive - which makes an alliance with the middlemen. That is an unnatural alliance. A natural alliance is between the consumer and producer It is remarkable that in all the divisions we have had up to the present time the Government, when some of their supporters, like the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) to-night, were not prepared to stand behind them, have been saved by the votes of members of the Country party. I give the honorable member for Fawkner every credit for his attitude. He has an eye on his constituency. When the Government are in danger there is always some one in the socalled Country party ready to vote for them. Although there may be four or five members of that party voting with us, some one sees to it that five or six members of the party vote at the same time on the other side.
– That seems to hurt.
– It does not hurt me. I am merely pointing to this fact for the information of the people of Australia. I am pointing out that the Country party sees to it that whenever a ‘division takes place their numbers are so divided as to save the Government every time. I congratulate the Prime Minister on his success in securing that result. He certainly succeeds in dragging at his heels a sufficient number of members of the so-called Country party to enable , him to carry out whatever proposal his masters direct him to put through. In that, however, he is at the same time dragging them to destruction. I suppose the most charitable view I can take of what he is doing to-night is that he is obeying the behest of his masters outside, and that, “ willy-nilly,” he must do so.
– The honorable member is lecturer to all parties to-night.
– -I am not. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) or some other member of the Government, in the early stages of this discussion, said that this was a sectional move on the part of the Opposition. There are no sections in this party. It is one solid compact party representing the workers of Australia. I would remind my honorable friends opposite that this is no laughing matter, but one of grave concern to the workers of Australia. I am quite conscious of the attacks which honorable members opposite level at me. I am conscious of them, and do not need to be reminded of them by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman).
– I rise to order. Surely it is time, Mr. Chairman, that you directed the honorable member’s attention to the question before the Chair. He has not been discussing the proposed new clause for the last fifteen minutes.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will proceed.
– I am surprised that the Treasurer should have risen to a point of order, having regard to the suggestion he made this morning while the honorable member for Hunter was speaking, that I had something to do with the move which was taking place at that time.
– What move?
Mr.RYAN. - I am not courting the smiles of my honorable friends on the front Treasury bench. I can stand on my reputation. It is clean, and will not be enhanced either by the smiles of honorable members on the front Treasury bench, or toy the encomiums of their capitalistic supporters outside. I canstand by my reputation, and cannot be damaged by the bitterattacksof the Ministerial party.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has given the Committee an opportunity to hear him for about twenty minutes by the clock. Of that time he has devoted three minutes to the Bill, and seventeen minutes to himself, and things in general. The honorable member entered this House under very curious circumstances, and, as time goes on, he finds those circumstances most embarrassing. Whereas he was once leader of his party in Queensland, tie is now not even the leader of a section of the Labour party.. He has told as that there are no sections in his party. If that is theposition of the Labour party -if there are no sections in it - then Ican only say that they are all dragged in the train of my honorable friend’smaster. He has alluded to amy masters, and I am justified inreferring to his master, whose name I have spoken very clearly. He is mot, and never was, a memberof the Labour party. He does not understand it, and knows nothing whatever about it.
– On a point of order, I ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether the
Prime Minister has so far uttered a word in regard to the proposednew clause.
– I was going to ask the right honorable gentleman to confine his remarks to the clause.
– I must point out, sir, that you permitted the honorable member for West Sydney to wander where he liked. I hope you will allow me to wander a little after him.
– The right honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I shall do so. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the principles of the Labour party have for sixteen years been set out, and that they do not involve an appeal from a Court of Arbitration. When he is confronted with his own Act - the State Act passed by him while Premier of Queensland - which provides for an appeal from the Arbitration Court to another Court, he says, “ I did the best I could. Although I had a majority of forty-five to twenty-seven in the lower House, I was powerless with a Conservative Upper House, and had to take what Icould get.” There is a confession for the honorable member to make. I will there leave it, and him.
The proposed new clause commends itself very much to me. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the State Act passed by him has no application to the present position. It has every application, since it provides for an appeal from an award of the Arbitration Court. In the Queensland Industrial Gazette, of 10th June last, there is a report of an appeal to theFull Court for avariation of an award, and the judgment of the Full Court, it is shown, was delivered by Mr. Justice McCawley, a Judge, who, so far as I know, was appointed by the honorable member himself. There was an appealby employees for an all-round increaseof 4d. per hour, and this Tribunal actually gave the Australian Workers Union 4d. an hour more than was allowed by the State Industrial Arbitration Court. Why, then, all this thunder? The position is that the honorable member and his followers believe that they can get certainconditions from theCourt of Arbitration. If they can obtain them, well and good. Ifthey cannot, they say,” We will go to the Tribunal, and if we cannot get it from the Tribunal, we will strike.” That, in a word, is their creed.
As the hour is late, I shall not prolong the discussion. The only argument I have heard against the clause is that it will affect a case now pending. That is an argument which weighs with me. The President of the Court may say, “ This is a reflection upon the Court, and, in the circumstances, one which must be regarded in the most serious light.” That being so, the Government will insert the following proviso: -
Provided that this sub-section shall not apply to any case in which the hearing of the claims
Was commenced before the commencement of this section.
That will have the effect of making this clause apply only to future cases, and not to the one now pending.
– So that it will not apply to the case now being heard ?
– It will not touch it. I suggest that the Committee accept the new clause, subject to that proviso. The proviso will remove most of the objections which have been urged by honorable members opposite. The Government will consider the suggestions which have been made with regard to the practical working of this provision. If it is found that the better course would be to constitute a permanent Bench of three, that will be done. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr.Riley) said something about the expense which such a Court would involve. I say deliberately that the expense is nothing compared with the value of industrial peace. The questionof expense ought not to weigh with us. If in its working this provision shall prove cumbersome or shall hamper the Court, the Government will at once bring in amending legislation to prevent anything of. the kind.
Mr.Charlton. - Why not withdraw the clause altogether?
Mr.HUGHES.- I do not intend to do that. The Minister for Works andRailways will move the addition of the proviso which I have read, and the whole matter can then be settled forthwith by a division. I hope there will be no further delay.
.- Lay members of the Committee must have been impressed by the fact that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr.
Ryan), who has been pre-eminent in winning victories in the highest Court of the Home Land, and the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who has been equally successful in the Courts of this country, have spoken against the amendment.There are no two members of the Committee, even if I include the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), whose opinion upon a legal point is comparable with that of the gentlemen to whom I have referred. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), has said that a reduction of working hours within certain limits has almost invariably resulted in increased output. Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) told us that under certain conditions men working underground led healthier lives than those working above ground. In answer to the honorable member I quote the following from Industrial A dministration, published by the Manchester University Press -
The total amount paid for compensation in 1913 under the Workmen’s Compensation Act was nearly £3,500,000, of which over £130,000 was for occupational disease.
I direct special attention to this statement -
Over 90 per cent. of the claims for industrial disease (nystagmus, bent knee, &c.) occurred in the mining industry.
So that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in speaking as he did was only talking piffle. At page 192 of this work I find the following statement -
A fatigued person works less rapidlythan one who is fresh, and the rate of working appears to getslower and slower as the process of exhaustion proceeds;
The Prime Minister and the Treasurer, as well as other honorable members on the opposite side, have said that during the war working hours were increased. It is true that some persons were unchristian enough to increase the working hours per day of employees, and to work a seven days’ week. I wish honorable members to listen to the result of that - I quote from page 127 of The Works Manager To-day, by Webb -
After ages will wonder at the stupidity of the British War Office when the urgent pressure came for additional war material in 1914-15 in desiring, and at the weakness of the employers in allowing, the lengthening of the working day and the adoption of continuous seven-day shifts, under the delusion that this was the way to increase the total output. I arn glad to think that in the main it was not the works managers who were responsible for the large - amount of overtime and Sunday labour. In fact, they know that in a certain proportion of cases a substantial increase - in the total output can be secured by a reduction in the working hours. . . . During the early part of the war, owing to the great pressure oi work, our industrial .establishment, employing some 15,000 hands, never shut down except for a few days; that is, excepting one or two holidays, we ian clean through for eighteen months without a stop, from Monday morning until Sunday night; but it did not pay. For the last few months, and with the permission of the Ministry of Munitions, we have knocked off Sunday work, the result being that our output has been equally as great.
Mo member of the Committee will deny that Lord Leverhulme, the head of Lever Brothers, is one of the greatest organizers of labour in industry under the
British nug. I remember that, in an almost Socialistic speech he said that het had reduced the hours of .labour in ‘his factory to forty-eight per’ week for men and to forty-four per week for women. He put up respectable decent cottages for his employees, based upon a 3 per cent, return, as he said, not as a charity, but as a business proposition. I quote the following, from page 128 of The Works Manager To-day: -
It is very suggestive to find that neaTly every shortening of the working week, even down’ to forty-two hours, bae been accompanied after a short time, not by a diminution, but by an increased output. Lord Leverhulme is actually beginning to talk of a six-hours’ day at Port Sunlight - which may be the way to get the workmen to consent to two shifts. There is room for careful experiment here, yet the impulse of every employer, as I am afraid it is that of most managers, is to attempt to meet any demand for increased output by lengthening the hours, piling up overtime, even putting on Sunday shifts.
The quotations I have made should be sufficient to convince honorable members on this question, but they ‘ could be multiplied a hundredfold. No medical man’ in the world will contend that long hours of labour are a benefit to the community. Twenty-three years ago, statements ap.peared in the British Medical Journal and the Lancet with respect to the conditions of employment in Rutherglen and another ‘place in chemical works. The danger period of life is from one to five years of age; but, taking a healthy agri- cultural labourer of adult agc, the statement was made that his average life at this work would be seven years. The hours of labour wore ten each day, and the wages of men 18s. per week. No woman who entered those works was. ever able to wash her face again, because it would become pitted as with small-pbx. No woman who entered them ever again had the God-given gift of motherhood. About that time, in the middle nineties, that brute beast of the ‘present century, the Kaiser, had an inquiry into hours of labour in Germany, and it was ‘ found that they ranged, from the lowest, two and a half hours per day for chemical workers, up to ton hours per day for. caretakers and persons so employed. If the hours of labour in chemical works were reduced from ten hours a day, withe case I have referred to, to two and a half hours,, as suggested by the German report, the period of average life would be lengthened from seven years to. from twenty to twenty-eight years.
What has been the evidence produced before our own Courts? I purpose to quote some remarks made before the Arbitration Court by Mr. Holloway, than whom there is in Australia no keener student of industrial matters. Speaking as representative of the Trades Hall Council, he quoted a cable message of Friday last, to the effect that the Canadian railway construction companies had granted the forty-four ‘hour week to their 40,000 employees. Nearly all the strikes, especially the long ones, he said, were in regard to the question of hours. Mr. Holloway said that, generally, the approval given by the employers to fortyfour hours was accompanied by a suggestion that full advantage should be taken of the daylight. Medical men know well the advantage of working in daylight. That is another answer to the argument -used by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). If I had my way, not one office in Melbourne, with its wide streets, should employ any person except in natural daylight. _ If ohe enters Borne of the dens in this city he may see men and women employed under the electric light in places where they ‘ should not be allowed to work. Mr. Holloway went on to say -
A Commission found that a shorter day was most needed in industries that were fatiguing, monotonous, or conducted under trying condi- tions, and that the working hours should be based scientifically on. the demands of each industry, not on the mere ability to work such hours without undue fatigue. It was a notable fact that piece-workers also asked that the hours should bo reduced. … In some parts, the workers were classified according to their nationalities, and the Bohemians only worked thirty-six hours.
Can any honorable member say that the employers as a body ever voluntarily reduced hours or increased wages? Amongst them there are individuals who have done great work, just as amongst the aristocracy of England the name of Lord Shaftesbury stands pre-eminent for his action in dragging the women and children out of the mines. In Durham the unfortunate miners atthat time, if they did not go into the mine, even when the timbers were creaking and life was in danger, had to go to gaol. The Lord of Durham sent a message to the townspeople - “ If you supply food to my rebellious miners I shall evict the lot of you.” Only by the forcesof unionism have working conditions been improved, and the unionists have had their martyrs, just as any religion has. Notable amongst them are the three martyrs of Tolpuddle, in North Wales. They asked for an eleven hour day and an increase of wages from11s. to. 13s. per week, and for that they were sentenced to gaol for seven years, five years, and one year respectively. To his eternal honour Lloyd George, when a Cabinet Minister, but before he became Prime Minister, unveiled a memorial to those three men. It has been a long road of suffering, almost of crucifixion, that the unionists - seldom, but sometimes, helped by the higher classes - have had to travel, and Calvary hasbeen multiplied hundreds of times by the men, women, and children who have been destroyed by unjust conditions of labour. The Chinese have a saying that man should “ save his face,” meaning that he should not appear little to his people, to his party, to his constituents, to the general mass of the people. It was possibly upon that principle that the Prime Minister has agreed to insert a proviso that this proposed new clause shall not apply to any application that is part heard. For that much I thank him, but it will be an infamy to pass this amendment at all. There are men on the Government side who will conscientiously voteagainst it, and I only wish to the
Lord that the people outside, who on one dayin three years have the controlling power; could also by means of the referendum declare by a single vote that, throughout the length and breadth of this Commonwealth, forty-four hours shall be the standard working week. If we had in operation the referendum, the initiative and recall, the Ministry and Parliament would not be allowed to continue as it is until the profiteers were smashed. The Prime Minister said he intended to shoot them.
-Order! The honorable member is going beyond the amendment.
– There is not a popgun small enough to suit the Prime Minister’s desires in that regard. Some day we shall have the initiative in operation, and then Parliament will not be the fool game that it is to-day. I have put forward arguments that I challenge any medical man to deny. I wish that Mr. Knibbs, that great statist whom the Commonwealth has the honour to employ, could supply us with statistics as to the number of accidents that happen in a sixhour working day, the number that happen at night work, and, above all, the number that happen during overtime, when the brain is dull and the limbs fatigued, and men are compelled to continue at work for which they are not fit. Whether or not the Government are able to carry this amendment I care not, for I know that, even if it be carried, some day another Ministry will repeal the infamy.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause (Mr. Charlton’s amendment of proposed new clause 6a - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the following words be added to proposed new clause 6a: -
Provided that this sub-section shall not apply to any case in which the hearing of the claim was commenced before the commencement of this section.
.- I desire to ascertain whether the case now being heard will be in the same category as others in regard to hours, and if there can be any appeal after this measure becomes law?
.- The case now being inquired into by Mr. Justice Higgins will go on in the ordinary way, and he will come to a decision irrespective of the amendmentwhich has just been adopted.
.- I understand that in the Bootmakers’ case the men have decided to abide by the decision given, and, although their case is not actually before the Court, they have arrived at that understanding. What will be their position under such circumstances?
.- I do not desire to express a definite opinion on the particular case mentioned at this juncture, but I may say that if there is a case the hearing of which has commenced, and in connexion with which the Presi dent has started taking evidence, that case will go on to a conclusion, and will not be interfered with in any way by this provision.
– That applies to the general inquiry now before the Court ?
– The President, I understand, is at present hearing a case relating to the hours to bo worked in a certain industry, and is informing his mind as to what he intends doing. Although he may be taking evidence concerning other matters, his mind is directed only to this case, andhis decision will apply only to that case.
Question - That the proposed . new clauses, as amended, be added to the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clauses agreed to.
.-I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “Section No. 40 (1.) of the principal Act is amended by omitting the first paragraph and inserting in place thereof ‘40 (1) The Court by its award shall grant preference of employment to the members of the organization obtaining such award.’ “
I know there is much difference of opinion regarding the principle involved in the proposed new clause, but it is a principle that has been debated on many previous occasions. The Act provides that only registered unions shall come under its provisions, and it is only fair, when the members of these organizations adopt constitutional methods for redress of their grievances, that they’ should have preference of employment. Little can be said against that contention if it is dealt with on its merits. Members of organizations band themselves together under the law for the purpose of improving their conditions, and they have to find the money necessary to keep the organizations going. This means a considerable cost to each member, and . it is not just that men who will not join any union, but act as freelances, “blowing in” for employment wherever and whenever they choose, probably when some trouble has arisen, should have the benefit of awards given by the Court. Members of organizations should not be called upon to do the fighting and bear the cost without receiving some recognition. I do not object to every man having employment, but certainly preference ought to be given to members of unions registered under the Act. A good deal of dissatisfaction exists because of these cases. In 1917 the members of the Wharf Labourers Union of Victoria were granted a preference, but because of certain events which happened during the industrial turmoil of that period, it was taken away from them, with the result that its members have been suffering ever since. Yetthey still continue to work along constitutional lines. We ought to forget the past, and allow bygones to be bygones. If organizations which are registered are required to submit to the penalties that are imposed by this Bill, those organizations should be granted some recognition. It is unfair that they should be compelled to fight for better industrial conditions in a constitutional way, and that after having done so they should be deprived of the fruits of victory. I ask the Minister to accept theamendment, and thus do justice to those who are prepared to observe the law.
– It is quite impossible to accept the amendment, and for two reasons. In the first place, it practically invites us to grant a preference to every industrial organization which goes before the Arbitration Court. We have no power to do that. If the proposed new clause were inserted in the Bill it would be ruled ultra vires of our Constitution by the High Court. We have only power to legislate in respect of the settlement of industrial disputes. We cannot direct what the terms of an award shall be, otherwise this Parliament, and not the Justices of the Arbitration Court, would be settling industrial disputes. I would further remind the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that under section 40 of the principal Act the President of that Tribunal is already vested with discretionary power to grant a preference to unionists.
– I want the word “may” in that section converted into “ shall.”
– That would mean all the difference between vesting the Judge of the Arbitration Court with discretionary power to grant a preference to unionists, and Parliament determining that such a preference shall be granted. But even if we could constitutionally adopt the proposed new clause it would be absolutely unfair to do so. This is shown by the fact that during the past sixteen years there have not been more than one or two cases in which the Judge has granted a preference to unionists. In the circumstances it is quite impossible to accept the amendment.
Question - That the new clause proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- In pursuance of notice which I gave some time ago, and which notice appeared on the business-paper for quite a long time, I desire to move for the insertion of a new clause which will confer upon the Arbitration Court power to override, in proper circumstances, the provisions of the War Precautions Act or any of its regulations.
– Does the honorable member say that his proposal is on the businesspaper?
– My notice of motion appeared on the business-paper for some considerable time, and it was not moved at an earlier stage on account of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) having suggested that it could come forward later. I now move-
That the following new clause be added: -
The following words are added at the end of section 16 of the principal Act: - “And the Court shall have jurisdiction to override any provision of the War Precautions Act or of the regulations made thereunder when, in the opinion of the Court, such overriding is necessary for the prevention or settlement of any industrial dispute.”
A great deal of the industrial unrest existing in Australia has been caused by the tyrannical manner in which the Government has administered the War Precautions Act and its regulations. For instance, there is that regulation which prevented the marine engineers from having access to their own funds, lodged in a bank. There is the further instance of a regulation, passed in July, which enabled the Government to charge to Consolidated Revenue any losses incurred during the requisitioning of ships, and which, I take it, covers that period during which ships were hung up owing to the seamen’s dispute; although, prior to the gazetting of that regulation, still another regulation had been in force which prohibited the charging toConsolidated Revenue of any losses made in connexion with the requisitioning of ships. It is unjust that the Government should use its powers in order to throw upon the general community an expense which should be borne by the ship-owners; that it should throw the financial resources of the whole community, including those of the workers themselves, into thescale against a section of the workers. It is only what we might expect, however, from the Government.
– Under what law or regulation was the embargo placed upon the exportation of Maitland coal in certain conditions the other day?
– I suppose that it was under some provision of the War Precautions Act, or under one of its regulations; or, possibly, it was under a power conferred by the Customs Act.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it, but he is quite certain that, whatever it was, it was wrong.
– I know all about it, and that when it is possible for the Government to throw its influence and the resources of the community upon the side of capitalistic interests it is prepared to use the War Precautions Act and regulations for such a purpose. That - although it does not matter to the Governmentreally involves the perpetration of a fraud upon the Parliament.
The War Precautions Act has been permitted to remain in force much longer than Parliament intended ; and, by its continued operation industrial unrest has been fomented. We have had an example of that in the matter of resolutions recently passed in Sydney concerning the manner in which the Government was exercising its powers of deportation without furnishing an opportunity for fair trial. I know that there are several people in Australia now awaiting deportation, although I am not aware of the reason for the continued delay in sending them away. I want to see power given to the Court, if it deems it necessary, to override the operation of the Act and its regulations: For - I do not care who the party concerned may be - I do not intend that any one shall be sent out of the country, if I can help it, without fair trial.
– I cannot accept the proposed new clause, which is about the most extraordinary proposition I have ever heard.
– The Minister has been in a rut for the past twenty years, and has not placed himself in a position to hear modern democratic proposals.
– It has been a very
Bound and safe rut.But does not the honorable member think it is about time he confined himself to the argument of political principles rather than to the bandying of personalities? The Executive has been given power under a specific Statute to issue regulations in the public interest. The honorable member proposes, however, that the Executive shall be set aside, and that, if a Judge is of opinion that something which the Executive has done is in the nature of an interference with what the Judge proposes to do, he shall have the power, in effect, to repeal the Act or regulation, and so override the Government and the Parliament. As for the matter of the continued administration of the War Precautions Act, I can only say that if ever a Statute was justified that Act has been. However, it is now about to expire, so that it is all the more absurd for the honorable member to seek to place in a permanent Statute some provision dealing with an Act which will have ceased to operate.
– I do not like the proposed new clause, because it seeks to place in the hands of a Judge a power which should rest with the Parliament. However, I take the opportunity to ask the Government if it does not think the time has arrived when the War Precautions Act should cease, and when we should get back to orderly methods of government. While the war was on, honorable members did not question that the powers contained under the Act and its regulations were necessary. But. simply because peace has not been declared with Turkey, or with some other of the belligerents- which factor does not really affect the life of the country at all - it is absolutely wrong for the Government to persist in prolonging the life of the Act. The House should deliberately determine at an early opportunity that the whole of the War Precautions Act should be swept away. I cannot support the amendment; but I should like the Government to consider whether the time has not arrived for Australia to return to the pure constitutional government which we were elected to carry out.
Question - That the proposed new clause be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question soresolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ The following section is inserted in the principal Act: - “ (a) The accredited representative of any organization registered under this Act shall have the power at any time to visit any place where work is being carried on under an award of the Court in order to ascertain whether the award is being observed, and to transact any work deemed necessary on behalf of the organization or its members. “(b) The accredited representatives of any organization registered under this Act shall have the power at any time to visit any place where work is being carried on, and where it is proposed to obtain an award in order to attend to the work necessary to prepare the case for the Court and collect evidence to support the claim, and to transact any work deemed necessary on behalf of the organization or its members.”
Recognising, as we all do, that Arbitration Courts could not possibly exist without registered organizations, I feel sure that the wisdom of this clause will appeal to every member of the Committee, and that they will support me in having it embodied in the Bill. An award is obtained only by the collective efforts of the workers in the form of registered trade unions, and it is only fair and. reasonable that, when the working-class organizations have obtained an award, their accredited representatives should have the right to see whether it is being observed. I have no desire, andI think that no registered organization has any desire, to in terfere with the work of the employees while it is in progress ; but we do ask, and rightly so, that we should be given the power to see that an award, once obtained, is being observed. To-daywe have no power whatever under the Federal awards to visit any place where work is being carried on under an award in order to see whether it is being observed or not. As regards the second portion of the clause, when we are preparing a case for the Court it is necessary to visit places of employment ; but owing to the fact that we have not the constitutional power to make a common rule apply, if we desire to have every employer bound by the award of the Court when made, we must visit every place of employment where work is being carried on. We must get at least one member of the organization working there, and must serve the claim upon an employer. Unless we are given facilities for visiting places of employment, it is practically impossible for us to prepare a case for the Court.
– This is an old chestnut.
– It may be, so far as the honorable member is concerned, but it is of the utmost importance to the men whom he has deliberately misrepresented. Practically every honorable member who has taken part in this debate has expressed a desire that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court shall be a success. Only one honorable member has said that he is opposed to compulsory arbitration. That being so, the Committee should practically be unanimously in favour of the addition of this new clause.
– But you go where you like to-day without authority.
– If my honorable friend had had the experience which I, as a representative of an organization, have, unfortunately, had in endeavouring to prepare a case for the Court, he would not so glibly interject that we go where we like without authority. Only two years ago, when preparing a case for the Court, I was ordered to leave every place that I visited during three consecutive days. On one occasion when preparing a case for the Commonwealth
Conciliation and Arbitration Court in connexion with station hands, I arrived at Lake Cowal Station, at 7 p.m., after doing a four hours’ drive, with the temperature at 17 degrees. I had no sooner stated my business than the manager ordered me off, although there was no accommodation house within 12 miles. Had I told him a tale, I should probably have been allowed to remain and transact my business; but as soon as I had informed him, quite honestly, that I was an organizer for the Australian Workers Union, he ordered me off the station.I went, but returned and obtained all the information I required. Why should that sort of thing be allowed? If arbitration is to be a success, we must have the loyal assistance and co-operation of both employers and employees. We ask for nothing more, and nothing less. If honorable members desire that arbitration shall be a success, they will vote for this clause.
.- It is only necessary for me to point out that undersection 41 ample power of inspection is provided for. In my opinion no widerpower is required.
Question - That the proposed new clause be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority .. … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 September 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200902_reps_8_93/>.