8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m. , and read prayers.
The following papers -were presented : -
Railways - Report, with Appendices, on the Commonwealth Railways for 1918-20.
Ordered to beprinted.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 161, 164, 165.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 153, 169.
War Precautions Act - ‘Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 168.
New Agreement:boilermakers at Cockatoo Island.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is a fact that the boilermakers at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, by refusing to sign the new agreement, are holding up shipbuilding; and, if so, what action the Government propose to take ?
– I understand that there is a dispute of some sort with the boilermakers at Cockatoo Island, and since shipbuilding is in the main dependent upon boilermakers it is a fact that there is delay. I should like to add that the draft of a new ‘ agreement for shipbuilding has been made. It is now before the unions concerned, and there is no reason to believe that they will not sign it. The honorable member will recollect that a Conference was held, a little while ago, at which the representatives of the unions concerned in shipbuilding were present. As a result of that Conference this new agreement has been drawn up. Coming to the second part of the honorable member’s question, as to what the Government propose to do in regard to shipbuilding at Cockatoo Island, the answer may be given quite shortly. The Government propose not to build ships at Cockatoo Island unless and until a very clear understanding has been arrived at with the Sydney branch of the Boilermakers Union, which caused considerable trouble under the present agreement, and apparently contemplates repeating its tactics in connexion with the new one. Unless and until it signs the agreement no ships will be built at Cockatoo Island.
– In view of the heavy cost which the election of a Convention to deal with the amendment of the Constitution would involve, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the advisableness of amendments being drawn ‘ up by this Parliament and submitted to the people?
– No. This Parliament has, on four different occasions, proposed amendments of the Constitution, and the people have rejected them. The Constitution was originally drawn by a Convention elected directly by the people, and now that twenty years have ‘elapsed we are fairly entitled to call another Convention to review the Constitution, and to consider how far, it at all, it should be amended. We should let the authority which’ drafted the Convention submit the amendments. I think the honorable member will recognise that no matter how much we desire to amend the Constitution unless and until the people accept the amendments this Parliament is powerless in the matter. We might save a little time, and a little money, by dealing with the whole question in the way proposed by the honorable member, but we should waste it’ all, since when we went to the jury that jury would turn down our proposals. I, therefore, do not propose to consider the suggestion.
Imports from France.
– In view oi the serious position in regard to the importation of goods from France, I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government have yet taken into consideration the question of foreign exchanges in relation to the valuation of goods for Customs purposes; and, if so, whether he will make a statement on the subject?
– As I intimated last week, in answer to a question put to me in this House, legislation has been prepared modifying to some extent the existing law, and it will be introduced at the first opportunity.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, if this remedial legislation is already drafted, he will move at once for leave to bring in the Bill and have it read a first time ? No delay in the proceedings of the House would be involved by taking that action.
– That will be done at the first opportunity which presents itself for the House to deal, with the matter.
Export Duty : Increase in Price.
– There is an impression in Brisbane that the Government propose to place an export duty on coal. Will the
Prime Minister explain, for public information, what the position is?
– One learns from rumour, and from the press, a great deal of the intentions of the Government, of which I, unfortunately, have not previously heard. It is not the intention of the Government to put an export duty on coal. The people of Brisbane may rest assured that, among the many troubles that are in store for them, an export duty on coal will not be included.
– Will tha Prime Minister state whether any arrangement has been, made whereby coal-owners may add to the export price of coal an amount equivalent to the increase in wages paid to the coal-miners?
– In respect of all coal sold outside the Commonwealth the coalowners are allowed to charge that increased price per ton which the President of the Tribunal, Mr. Hibble, declares to be on the whole fair and reasonable. That i3 an interim arrangement. “When the Board of Accountants determines by actual calculation what increase is justified by the increase in wages, the price - export and local - will be adjusted thereto. The increased price for oversea coal will not, of course, apply to Queensland. “
In order that I may be clearly understood, I will put the matter again. What I said was that what had been done applied to coal sold outside the Commonwealth. Oversea shipments are sold in separate cargoes, and each shipment is, and must be, a finished transaction. With regard to coal sold inside Australia, the price is to be that price which the Special Tribunal of experts to which I have referred will determine.
– Will that affect contracts” already entered into?
– A contract could be properly entered into on the basis of the price to be hereafter decided upon by the Tribunal, but not until the Tribunal has fixed the price- over and above the 17s. 9d.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Apportionment of Tax Between Imperial and Commonwealth Governments
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1, 2, and 3. The Government are utilizing the services of the Secretary to the Treasury, who is at present in London, for (conducting negotiations with the Imperial authorities for the settlement of this question.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will’ he make available for perusal by members the precise terms of the communications passing between the Government and the Secretary of State for the Colonies relating to the forcible repatriation of Italian reservists in the latter part of the year 1917 and for the early part of 1918?
– I would invite the attention of the honorable member to the lengthy reply given by me in regard to this matter, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), on 1st July last. I have nothing to add to the statement I then made.
Dr. MALONEY (for Mr. Brennan) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
With reference to a statement made by Senator Pearce in another place, on the 15th May, 1918 [Hansard, 4652), relating to certain Italians resident in Australia, by what means and in what terms was the request of the Italian Government conveyed to the Commonwealth Government or the Minister, or to any authorized representative of the Government or the Minister?
– As it has been found necessary ito refer to Senator Pearce in this matter, a reply to the honorable member’s question is held over until Senator Pearce’s return to Melbourne, which will be in a few days.
Report on Hotels.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– In answering a question put by the honorable member for Melbourne . (Dr. Maloney) on the 28th September, on the subject of the revenue collected in Victoria on narcotics’ and stimulants, I replied that, since the abolition of the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution, State distinctions have dis-. appeared from the Treasury accounts. That is quite true; but, before answering a question of that kind, I find that I should have consulted the Trade and Customs Department. I have since done so ; and, although we do not keep the record in the accounts of the Treasury, I find that the Trade and Customs Department can supply the information, and I have received from the Minister for Trade and Customs a reply to the honorable member’s question in the following terms : -
The total revenue derived from import and Excise duties collected on alcoholic stimulants and narcotics for the financial years 1918-1919 and 1919-1920, amounted to £2,461,698, and £2,916,766 respectively.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– On the 1st October the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) asked me the following questions : -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following replies : -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1st October, vide page 5274) :
.- When we adjourned on Friday afternoon we had dealt with a number of new clauses, and I expressed my intention to submit a new clause, which, I think, should appear in the Bill before us as 95a. I move - .
That the following new clause be added: - “ 80a. The principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following new clause: - 285a.NoAsiatic or other coloured labour shall he allowed to be employed on any vessel engaged in the coasting trade.’ “
This is not aimed at any particular nation, but our seamen desire that such a provision should be inserted in the Bill. There is at present in Melbourne a vessel called the Pukalci. I have been supplied with the following particulars concerning this vessel : -
Steamer Pukahi, of Melbourne. Articles signed at Manila, Philippine Islands, 26th November, 1919. The sailors and firemen are all natives of the Philippine Islands.
The following is a comparison between the wages paid on the Pukalci and the wages paid on Australian steamers with white crews: -
Hours of labour for sailors at sea on the Pukaki, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Meal hours not specified, and no overtime is payable to any of the Philippine crew. Australian white crews work only eight hours per day at sea or in port, and overtime is paid for all work over eight hours per day, except work necessary for the safety of the ship.
The Pukahi is now engaged in carrying coal between Newcastle, N.S.W., and’ Melbourne, and at the present time, 1st September, 1920, is discharging a cargo of coal at Melbourne, which was loaded at Newcastle. The method of engaging coloured crews on vessels like the Pukahi is as follows: -
A blank copy of British ship articles is sent from some port in Australia to Manila, or is procured locally in Manila from the British Consul, and the crew are signed on before the British Consul. They are then . sent as passengers to Sydney or Melbourne, as the case may be, and put on board the ship whose articles they signed at Manila. The food and the accommodation supplied to those men is far below the standard of what the white Australian receives.
I do not think the seamen are asking too much when they urge that the hours of labour, rates of pay, and conditions generally existing on these vessels shall be similar to those in force on Australian ships. This vessel the particulars concerning which I have just quoted, has never been to the Philippines. Those interested in securing crews for ships of this character bring the men down as passengers to one or other of the Australian east coast ports, and then place them on shipboard and trade with them as the crew, along our coastline, to the detriment of Australian shipping and seamen. The Australian ship-owner has to pay the wages, and comply generally with the conditions of employment required by our laws; and these other parties, who are doing exceedingly well out of sea transport in Australian waters to-day, should be made to work under the same set of conditions. There is already provision, where seamen are compelled to do what is known as shore labour, that if there is an award granting rates which are higher than the wages ordinarily paid to seamen or firemen on shipboard, those engaged on shore labour shall be paid the higher rates. The seamen are only asking that similar conditions shall hold; so far as the employment of persons from “outside”is concerned. In the matter of Japanese ships and seamen, I understand that the general conditions and rates of pay compare favorably with those applicable to the Australian coast trade. The clause is not aimed at Japan, but at any parties who have entered upon the practice of securing crews from foreign parts with the intention of employing them more cheaply than Australian crews.
– The clause would apply to any vessel undertaking coastal trade from overseas.
– The Minister, no doubt, has in mind the case of Peninsular and Oriental and other vessels arriving at Fremantle, and then coming on to eastern ports. It is quite possible that the clause would affect such ships; but the object of the seamen is to prevent vessels from entering upon the Australian coastal trade in an illicit manner, and to stop the employment of coloured alien labour, seeing that it might reduce the Australian standard of employment.
– It is a peculiarity of seamen, as I have pointed out previously, that they should claim the same conditions of living generally as are enjoyed by the ordinary man on shore. The latter is protected from the competition of coloured alien labour. Ours is a “ white “ country, and there is no longer need to argue that question; but it would require no great stretch of imagination to perceive that if the practice indicated by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) is allowed to continue, the Australian coastal trade in a short while would be done by alien crews. One can quite understand that Japanese might be willing to pay our rates of wages while working Japanese crews around our coasts; but would we care to see our trade taken over by Japanese ships manned by Japanese labour ? Australian shipping companies wi.l be placed in an awkward position if the present tendency expands; unless, of course, they make up their minds also to employ coloured alien crew6. It might appeal to them, as a paying proposition, to grant Australian rates of wages while their ships are engaged around our coasts, and then, to give cheaper wages to the alien crews while outside of Australian waters. Apart from that point of view, the subject-matter of the proposed new clause must concern npt only our seamen, but Australian ship-owners, and the public as well. We have been claiming for years that this is a white man’s country. The claim requires no defence to-day; it is established beyond argument. But we are beginning to permit coloured alien labour to work around our coasts under certain conditions. Where will it end if we do not protect ourselves ? There are Asiatic countries which, for the purpose of inserting the thin end of the wedge into “ White” Australia, would not be above making insidious beginnings in this manner ; but our seamen have their eyes open , and it is only natural that they should, protest and take action. The honorable member for Yarra has quoted a glaring case, but the Minister (Mr. Greene) will probably remember that officials of the Seamen’s Union called his attention to a practically similar set of circumstances in respect of another vessel. It is not possible for alien coloured labour to compete on shore. That being so, I press the claim of the seamen that they should be treated in the same way as the men who work on shore, in order to protect them from alien coloured labour to that extent.
.- -This is an “amendment which I very much regret that the Government are quite unable to accept. Whilst not abating in the slightest degree our adherence to the policy of the White Australia, I wish to give reasons why it is quite impossible for us to accept the amendment in the form in which it has been moved. It is proposed to insert it as a new clause in Part VI. of the Act, dealing with the coasting trade. One of the objects which that portion of the Act was devised to accomplish was the very question raised by the proposed amendment: that is, to prevent the employment of cheap labour in the coasting trade of Australia by the use of coloured crews in competition with white crews. That was the main object which we had in inserting the coasting trade provisions. It was not the only object, but it was the main one. Section 288 of the main Act provides -
No ship shall engage in the coasting trade unless licensed to do so.
Every licence shall be issued subject to compliance on the part of the ship, her masler, owner, and agent, during such time as she is engaged in the coasting trade, with the following conditions : -
That the seamen employed on the ship shall be paid wages in accordance ‘ with this part of this Act.
The Act itself lays down the wages that the seamen shall be paid. If the Navigation Act had already been proclaimed, it would not be competent for the wages quoted by the Leader of the Opposition to be paid to anybody employed on our coast, because the ship would not be licensed unless the rates of wages laid down in the Act were paid. The next condition is -
That, in the case of a foreign ship, she shall be, provided with the same number of officers and seamen, and with the same accommodation for them, as would be required if she were a British ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade.
Of course, the clause as drafted would apply equally to a ship registered in Australia, or a foreign-going vessel engaged in our coastal trade and complying with our conditions. The provisions I have quoted were specially inserted in the Navigation Act to enable us to deal with the very question raised by the amendment.
– The question of wages ?
– Well, we said that anybody engaging in our coasting trade must pay the wages laid down by the Act, provide the requisite number of men, and the accommodation, and furnish the same food, and comply with the conditions generally as applied to our own Australian seamen. It was recognised, at the time that these provisions were put in the Act, that it would not pay to employ Asiatic crews on those conditions.
– Are not the Japanese doing it now?
– It may be; but if we attempt by any direct means in our legislation to draw the line on account of colour, and colour only, as this amendment attempts to do, we shall simply invite the ship wreck of the whole Bill. After all, we are part of an Empire, and I do not know of any question so delicate and difficult, from the Imperial point of view, as the colour question. The British Empire has many millions of coloured subjects; and honorable members have only to cast their memories back a very short distance to recall incidents in connexion with this very question which have been giving the British Government for some considerable time past the most serious concern. Let me remind honorable members of some of the occasions on which this question was raised, and the manner in which Imperial statesmen from time to time dealt with it. As far back as 1897, the Imperial Government felt called upon, by reason of certain trouble that had arisen between some of the Dominions and India, to place before a Conference of Colonial Premiers, as they were then, through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the general principles which they desired to maintain in regard to the relations between Her Majesty’s Indian subjects and the selfgoverning Dominions. In the course of his address, Mr. Chamberlain made the following remarks, which are as apt today as on the day he uttered them : -
We quite sympathize with the determina-. tion of the white inhabitants of the Colonies who are in comparatively close proximity to millions and hundreds of millions of Asiatics, that there shall not be an influx of people alien in civilization, alien in religion, alien in customs; whose influx, moreover, would most seriously interfere with the legitimate rights of the existing labour population. An immigration of that kind must, I quite understand, in the interests of the Colonies, be prevented at all hazards, and we shall not offer any opposition to the proposals intended with that object.
I want honorable members to remark that statement distinctly. The Imperial Government were not offering any opposition to legislation intended with that object, but Mr. Chamberlain went on to say-
But we ask you also to bear in mind the traditions of the Empire, which makes no distinction in favour of, or against, race and colour; and to exclude, by reason of their colour or by reason of their race, all Her Majesty’s Indian subjects, or even all Asiatics, would be an act so offensive to those peoples that it would be most painful, I am quite certain, to Her Majesty to have to sanction it. The United Kingdom owns, as its brightest and greatest Dependency that enormous Empire of India, with 300,000,000 subjects, who ‘are as loyal to the Crown as you are yourselves, and among them there are hundreds and thousands of men who are every whit as civilized as we are ourselves.; who are, if that is anything, better born, in the sense that they have older traditions and older families; . who are men of wealth, men of culture, men of distinguished valour, men who have brought whole armiesand placed them at the service of the Queen, and have in times of great difficulty and trouble, such, for instance, as on the occasion of the Indian Mutiny, saved the Empire by their loyalty. I say you, who have seen all this, cannot be willing to put upon these men a slight, which, I think, is absolutely unnecessary for your purpose, and which would be calculated to provoke ill-feeling, discontent, irritation, and would be most unpalatable to the feelings, not only of Her Majesty the Queen, but of all her people.
We have done a great deal in Australia . to prevent the influx of an alien immigration, and the British Government have never objected to that. We have always accomplished our end by indirect means, and we shall attain the result which the honorable member has in view, to a very large extent, at all events, by indirect means. The reason why coloured labour is still employed is that the Navigation Act has not been proclaimed ; the moment it is proclaimed, the special conditions which the owners of those vessels will have to comply with will make it no longer profitable to .employ Philippine crews. Owners will not pay such crews Australian rates of wages, and the answer to the honorable member’s arguments is in the figures he supplied to the Committee. If owners have to pay Australian rates of wages, give the accommodation set forth in the Navigation Act. and feed the crews in accordance with the scales laid down in the Bill, it will not pay them to employ the comparatively large number of coloured mon in preference to white men. I presume that the only reason these coloured men are employed is that their employment pays the owners best.
There is, however, another reason, ‘and, from the honorable member’s point of view, a graver reason, why it is undesirable to accept the amendment. I feel confident that its inclusion in the Bill would simply result, as it has done before on several occasions in regard to Dominion legislation, in the refusal of the King’s assent to the measure. I remind the honorable member that in 1906, I think, a Bill was passed by this Parliament granting . preferential treatment to certain goods the product of the United Kingdom, but excluding from: the benefits of the Bill goods carried in ships on which lascars were employed. That Bill was reserved for His Majesty’s assent, and in the following year the matter was discussed at the Colonial Conference in London, when Mr. Asquith said -
We should never, under any conceivable circumstances, accept here a preference granted to us only in respect of goods carried in ships in which the whole of our fellow-subjects In India were not allowed to serve. We could not possibly accede to that, and everybody here would say we would rather have no preference at all than preference limited by such a condition as that.
The King’s assent was never given to that Bill, which lapsed, though it was not nearly as drastic as the legislation now proposed.
– We have gone a long way forward since then.
– That may be, but has the Imperial position changed since ? The position is the same to-day as then; if anything , the difficulties and dangers are greater and graver. If this Parliament has any concern at all for its Imperial’ relations, it must take into consideration the position of the Imperial Government, and certainly we ought not to embarrass the Imperial Government in the way that legislation of the kind now suggested undoubtedly would. That is not the only occasion on which the Royal assent has been withheld. At the Navigation Conference on the subject with which we are now dealing, held in London in 1907, the question of excluding coloured labour from New Zealand or Australian ships was discussed oh a motion proposed by
Mr. Belcher, a New Zealand representative. The motion was as follows: -
That this Conference is opposed to the employment of lascars, coolies, Chinamen, or persons of any other alien race on any vessel owned, registered, or chartered to trade in the Commonwealth or New Zealand.
The views of the British Government on that occasion were voiced by Mr. H. Bertram Cox, of the Colonial Office, and also by Mr. Lloyd George, the present Prime Minister. Mr. Cox said -
As regards this question, everybody sympathizes with the wish of Australia and New Zealand for the employment of Australian and New Zealand seamen; there ds no question about that. . . . But there is one thing that I should strongly object to on behalf of the Colonial Office, and that is exclusion on the ground of colour. …
That is exactly what the amendment before us proposes to do -
There is no objection to the exclusion of coloured persons otherwise than on the ground of colour from the ships that are engaged in the coasting trade of the Commonwealth or New Zealand, or in any other conditions where the colonial regulations under the law apply.
That is to say, the Imperial authorities have no objection to our providing that every sailor on our coast shall be paid« certain rates of wages, have certain space allotted to him, and shall be fed in a particular way, but they do object to the bar of colour.
– Our objection is an economic one - not one on the ground of colour.
– Exactly ; but if we, by our legislation, secure an economic standard which practically , bars the coloured races from’ competing, are we not accomplishing our end just as effectively, and, at the same time, not in a way which not only embarrasses the British Government, but is highly objectionable to a great and powerful neighbour of ours, whose friendship, at all events, to a certain extent, is valuable? No one will say that we can afford to shake our fist in the face of Japan and China - those great countries with enormous potentialities - and go scot-free for ever. Just as we value those national demands which compel us to ask for conditions in this country which we believe to be right from our own stand-point, the people of those countries have their national feelings, and we cannot afford to ride roughshod over them in the manner proposed. Mr. Cox went on to say: -
That is agreed. But His Majesty’s Government are trustees for enormous numbers of coloured people, and the Colonial Office cannot agree to the exclusion of British subjects of any race only on the ground of colour.
Mr. Lloyd George, who was acting as chairman of the Conference, referred to the fact that the people of India are extremely sensitive on the question of colour. He said : -
We are responsible for the government of 300,000,000 of those people, and therefore we could not possibly assent to the resolution proposed, and I ask the colonial representatives not to ask us to do so. . . If it was proposed that no Hindoo should be employed in ships on the coasting trade, I do not suppose that we could possibly assent to a law expressly framed in that way, because it is a reflection upon millions of the King’s subjects.
In deference to the wishes of the representatives of the Imperial Government, the resolution * was withdrawn. I am giving the history of this matter in order to show honorable members that they will be absolutely imperilling the Bill itself by insisting upon the amendment which has been submitted. In 1910 the New Zealand Parliament passed a ‘Bill .providing for an increased stamp duty upon bills of lading and passenger tickets issued by ships trading from New Zealand to the Commonwealth, and which were manned wholly, or in part, by Asiatics. There, again, the direct- colour line was drawn. That Bill was also reserved for the King’s assent. In 1910 the matter was brought up by Sir Joseph Ward at the Imperial Conference in London, when the attitude of the British Government upon the matter was voiced by Lord Crewe, the Secretary of State for India, who, while admit ting the right of the Dominions to exclude cheap, competitive labour, of whatever race or colour, made a strong appeal that there should be no bar imposed on coloured peoples, simply as such. He pointed out that, as regards India, any disabilities imposed upon Indians in any part of the British Empire was resented in India by all classes, creeds, and political schools, and that the fact of any such disability being imposed by any Dominion furnishes a powerful weapon to those in India who are opposed to British rule, and who are directing all their energies to secure the secession of India from the Empire. The King’s assent to the New Zealand Bill was withheld, and the measure lapsed. There are thus three occasions upon which this question has arisen, and upon two of them - one in which direct legislation was passed by this Parliament, and another in which similar legislation was enacted by the New Zealand Parliament, the King’s assent was refused. In the third case the expressions of opinion by the representatives of the Imperial Government were such that the Dominion representatives withdrew the resolution altogether. I have no desire to labour this question by dealing with it at greater length.. I am perfectly satisfied from the experience of the past that, if this amendment be included in the Bill - the measure must in any circumstances be reserved for the King’s assent - that assent will not be given. By inserting the amendment, therefore, honorable members will simply hang up the Bill for an indefinite period, and thus make it impossible for the Government to proceed with the early proclamation of the Act, thereby depriving our seamen of all the advantages which they will ultimately derive from its operation. In these circumstances I have no hesitation in asking honorable members to reject, the proposal.
.- If the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) be pressed to a division, I shall certainly vote for it, because I am’ anxious to maintain in its entirety our White Australia policy. At the same time, I do not wish.a single word of mine to give offence to our Allies who helped to defend us. I recognise that, artistically, they are superior to any race in the world. An Eastern people have shown Australians, who are descendants of the British race, how laggard we are, seeing that within the short space of my own life-time they have learned to build anything from a mere coasting schooner to an up-to-date Dreadnought. Theirs is an example which we may well follow. But for thirty years I have been returned to Parliament pledged to the policy which I am now advocating. Australians are the only race in the world which, owns a continent. It is our duty to preserve that continent as a heritage for white [ men. Should it unfortunately happen that an Asiatic race must dominate Australia, I hope that it will be dominated by the Chinese. Let me briefly analyze the language used by the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain in discussing the proposal to prohibit the introduction of coloured immigrants by drawing a direct colour line. Mr. Chamberlain was indeed a great man, especially from the standpoint of the facility with which he could turn his coat whenever it suited him to do so. He stated that there should be no restriction imposed upon race or colour, and that the natives of India are civilized and are our equals. As far as mere brain capacity is concerned, there is no race in the world which is equal to that of the Brahmins of India. Yet they were considered by Mr. Chamberlain as not fit to be endowed with the franchise. They are subjects of the King, but they have not citizenship rights. We are subjects of the King truly, but we are also citizens in that we have the right to vote for our parliamentary representatives. Until the recent war, Britain did not give her English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh inhabitants the right to vote because of their manhood alone. There was always a property qualification attached to the exercise of the franchise. Yet this great man, Mr. Chamberlain, who well earned the title of Judas on account of his treachery to the great Gladstone, says that the Indians are civilized. Of course they are, but not a single vote has been given to them. Even the majority of the British people themselves had no vote in Mr. Chamberlain’s day. They were not allowed to exercise the franchise until the recent war had taught manners to the aristocrats of England. Mr. Asquith says that the Indians are our fellow subjects. I have a great admiration for Mr. Asquith’s abilities, but he would be a much bigger man if he travelled the world, and realized that under the British flag a greater measure of freedom obtains everywhere else than obtains in the Homeland.
I am not criticising the attitude which has been adopted by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). I recognise that he has delivered a great speech this afternoon - a speech which may possibly carry conviction to honorable members. But in the course of his remarks he stated that there has not been a’ great change in Imperial matters since 1897. I entirely dissent- from that statement. Why, to-day women in England have votes. They may also qualify for the degree of M.D. at Cambridge, although they are not allowed to practise as doctors. In Great Britain the entire system of government has been turned upside down since 1897, and it is well that it has been. In my student days, in London, I can remember only three occasions upon which Chinese were seen in that city. Upon each occasion a crowd followed them down the streets, because they presented such a rare sight. In Australia, however, we may see any number of them. A very valuable report obtained by the late Mr. Charles Cameron Kingston shows the great disparity which existed between the number of Chinese who touched at Darwin on board vessels, and the number who were upon the same ships when the latter made their return voyage. In my student days I did not see a Iascar in London, but I met many Hindoos and Mahommedans, two of whom were beloved fellow-students of mine and remain my friends at the present time. They were equal in mental ability to any European, but were not thought fit to have a vote in their own country. Subjects, yes ; but little better than slaves ! One of them had graduated in the Middle Temple, and when, years afterwards, I saw him in Calcutta, knowing that he had been engaged to a relative of the Lord Chamberlain of England, I asked him, “ How is your sweetheart?” he replied, “You had better say ‘ wife ‘ now.” I asked, “ Is she here V He rose, to his splendid 6 feet of height, and said, “Maloney, you do not think I would ask my wife to live in India ?” I said, “ Why not?” “ I will tell you,” he replied. “ We are old friends, and you know how I am entitled in my own right to large revenues and a high position in this country; but I do not care to ask my wife to live in India because ladies who would willingly dance with me in London pass me like dirt when they come out here married to some petty official. I could not allow my wife to be treated in that way. I am going to dear old England to live there.” Here was an Indian gentleman, drawing large revenues, speaking of England as “dear old England,” and going to live there because he could not live with his wife in India. The men of India may not be slaves, they may be subjects, but they are not citizens, because not one of the 350,000,000 inhabitants of that country possesses a vote. Yet we have the Asquiths and the Chamberlains of England speaking in the way I have indicated. Even Mr. Lloyd George says that India is very sensitive to colour. Another great gentleman - in his own opinion - an Anglo-Indian, said to me he wished another rebellion would take place in India so that he could make the people of Bombay walk in the road and not on the footpaths, which so many of them, as large property-owners in the city, are taxed to make and maintain. If these prominent English gentlemen to whom I have referred would only go to India. or come to Australia, or even go to California, where the racial fight is even more acute than it, has ever been here they would not refer so glibly to “ fellow subjects.” Yes, fellow subjects, but with no right of citizenship! As it is, I could well understand them refusing to pass this Bill if this proposed new clause was inserted in it, but with the future union of the British-speaking races - because I recognise that if we can only shake hands with the great Union that dominates the American continent we can hold and keep the peace we so desire - we shall be able to apply to our coastal trade whatever restrictions we choose to impose. If the King’s assent is to be continually withheld from measures which voice Australia’s needs, other representations must be made to His Majesty that may not be desirable to a small body of men in London, who, no matter how mentally gifted they may be, have never gone beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom, except, perhaps, for a few excursions across the Channel to one or other of those charming European nationalities, so close at hand to them. If His Majesty would send out Commissioners to every corner of the Empire to gain wide experience on the spot, and learn the needs of the people, the advice they could give him would be much wiser than that which he now receives from the gentlemen whom I have mentioned. However, after the declaration of the Minister (Mr. Greene) it is hopeless to expect the Committee to agree to the proposed new clause. I quite recognise from the Minister’s speech that any shipping company which takes advantage of our inter-State traffic must pay to its men the same rates of wages as are paid to white crews.
– That is so. They must also provide them with the same accommodation and feed them in the same way.
– That being the case we have pretty well obtained all we desire to achieve by the proposed new clause. If the sugar-cane growers of Queensland had been obliged to pay to the kanakas the same wages as were paid to white men. and to work them for the same hours, and give them the same food, they would not have employed them. It was the cheapness of the black labour that caused the growers to import kanakas to work in their cane-fields, and to fight so hard to retain them. I shall vote for the proposed new clause if it is taken to a division, but I recognise that while we are portion of the Empire the Minister could hardly take up any other attitude.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Mr. Tudor’s amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: - “ Schedule II. of the principal Act is amended by omitting from lines 2 and 3 of the paragraph headed ‘ Firemen and Trimmers ‘ the words ‘ and a half ‘.”
This will have the effect of reducing the amount of coal handled by a fireman or trimmer from 3½ tons to 3 tons per diem. This is a very controversial question, upon which the seamen’s representatives endeavoured to come to some arrangement with the Minister, but without success. For a considerable time the seamen’s representatives have been endeavouring to have the amount reduced. Some people believe, apparently, that all a fireman has to do is to shovel coal into the furnace and close the doors again, whereas the work has to be done in such a way as to prevent the fire from being smothered and to extract the greatest heat possible from the amount of coal consumed. The accessibility of bunkers to the furnaces is an important factor in determining the amount of coal which any fireman or trimmer can handle in a day. Very often in a new ship trouble is made because the firemen and trimmers cannot get the most satisfactory results from the furnaces. There is just as much skill in this work as in many other callings, and some firemen are highly skilled. As far back as 1911, when the Navigation Act was under consideration, Senator de Largie endeavoured to secure a reduction in the schedule, and the motion submitted by him would probably have been carried but for the promise of the Government to attend to certain matters.
It is just as well that the claims of the men should be again placed on record -
The present schedule provides for 3i tons per day per man, and we are of the opinion that the amount is too much. The Manning Committee of the British Board of Trade some years ago recommended that “ 3 tons of coal per man per day should be the allowance for this purpose in temperate climates, and 2½ tons in tropical waters.” A great proportion of the Australian trade is confined to the tropics, but we are not asking for any distinction between tropics and the temperate zones, as far as the consumption of coal is concerned. But we do think that, when the Board of Trade Manning Committee recommends a less amount of coal per day in British ships than is provided for in the present schedule, the Australian fireman should not be put on a different and worse footing than his fellow fireman in a British ship.
– Whom are you quoting ?
– I am quoting statements made by the representatives of the seamen, based on the report of the Manning Committee of the British Board of Trade. Reference to pages 1017-1019 of Hansard of 1911 will show that the seamen unsuccessfully tried in that year to have the consumption of coal per man per day reduced to 3 tons, and the report of the Manning Committee of the British Board of Trade is also referred to in the same pages. But since that date the world has advanced considerably, and if at that time the proposition, although not accepted, was recognised as fair, surely, having regard to the improvement in the conditions of all workers during the last nine years, the firemen are now entitled to a little consideration.
– Have the men to shift the specified quantity of coal in addition to the cleaning of the grates and all the other work?
– Yes. The following is an extract from the British Board of Trade instructions in 1911 relating to the manning of emigrant ships -
The following scale has been prepared for the guidance of emigration officers with regard to the manning of the stoke-hold: -
One fireman for every 18 square feet of fire-grate surface in the boilers. The number offiremen is found by dividing the total fire-grate surface of all the main boilers and the nearest whole number is the number required.
This rule is based on the assumption that an average of 16 lbs. of coal per hour will be consumed per square foot of grate surface. When, however, the coal consumption exceeds 3 tons per day per man employed on the boilers, the number of these men, must be correspondingly increased, and when the propelling machinery is duplicated, as in twin-screw steamers, the number of greasers must be doubled.
Under the foregoing scale, firemen on these emigrant ships handle far less than 3 tons of coal per man per day.
– And those conditions apply in a cold climate.
– Yes. I shall quote now the scale of manning for Norwegian ships as fixed by a Royal Ordinance in 1918, and, surely, Australian firemen are not expecting too much when they ask to be placed on as good a footing as are the Norwegians -
The number of firemen and coal-trimmers shall be determined in the following manner: -
There shall be at least one fireman for each 3i .tons (in tropical waters 3 tons) of coal consumption per diem. . . . There shall, however, in all ships plying for more than sixteen hours or with a coal consumption of upwards of 7 tons per day be at least three firemen. For ships whose consumption of coal exceeds 8 tons, but not 18 tons a day, one coal-trimmer is required. If the consumption of coal exceeds IS tons, one additional coal-trimmer is required, and so on, for each additional 10 tons. If in the computation of the number of the firemen and the coaltrimmers there comes out a fractional part of one half or upwards, the same shall be counted as a whole number.
Under the foregoing Norwegian scale a vessel consuming 42 tons of coal per day would be manned with twelve firemen and four trimmers while engaged in temperate climates, and in the tropics it would haveto carry fourteen firemen and four trimmers, whilst an Australian vessel under the present scale would -be compelled to .carry only twelve firemen and trimmers combined, whether in the tropics or otherwise. Of course, those who are opposed to this claim maintain that the Norwegian Act is not as considerate to the seamen as is the Australian Navigation. Act. The seamen themselves, however, declare that the conditions of the Norwegian firemen and trimmers are much better than are provided for in the Australian legislation. This question has been discussed with the Minister (Mr. Greene), who is disinclined to agree to the amendment. If the seamen were asking for conditions that did not obtain elsewhere we might expect a rebuff, but, having regard to the fact that in all countries greater consideration has been given to the firemen and trimmers, and that nine years ago this concession was nearly made by this Parliament, the conditions should be improved in conformity with’ the betterment of conditions that has taken place in every other calling. The Seamen’s Union is of opinion that its members should not be called upon to work under conditions that are worse than those obtaining in other countries. We claim to have set up a standard for Australian seamen that is higher than the standards of other countries ; the workers do not admit that claim, but this Parliament ought to take whatever steps are necessary to justify it.
– I ask the Committee to reject the amendment. This is one of the questions which the representatives of the seamen, discussed with me quite amicably. I decided that it was inadvisable to make the proposed amendment, but I left the seamen to take steps to te3t the feeling of Parliament in the matter. Of all questions which exercised the mind of the Committee which has investigated the whole subject of navigation, and upon whose report this Bill is largely based, that of stokehold management occupied more time and consideration than any other. The chief difficulty in the way of fixing a fair standard for work for firemen is complicated by the well-known fact that a great deal depends on the construction of the ship as to whether the task of handling three and a half tons of coal per man per day is too great or too small. In some ships the shifting of three and a half tons per day would be almost a herculean task, on other ships it would be very easy.
– In no ship would it be an easy task.
– In an average ship, a man enjoying his full health and strength and capable of doing a good day’s work, would not have to exert himself very much to shift three and a half tons of coal per day. But in some circumstances the task would be too great. The Navigation Committee recognised that fact and made certain recommendations which have been embodied in the Act. The impression conveyed by the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr.
Mathews) was that the three and a half tons per day is a fixed quantity, from which it is impossible to depart. That is not so. If honorable members turn to Schedule II. in the principal Act, which it is now proposed to amend, it will be seen that -
The number of firemen and trimmers required with steam-ships fired with coal shall be in the proportion of at least one fireman or trimmer for every tons of coal consumed per diem. Provided that in the case of any particular ship the Minister may, after reference to the Marine Council, specify a greater or less number of firemen and trimmers to be required. The amount of coal consumed per diem should be ascertained by such means as are prescribed.
– I think that the word “ less “ should come out of that. Mr. GREENE. - That provision was inserted in the principal Act by the Government of which the honorable member was a member. That principle was decided upon because itwas practically impossible to arrive at a standard which would be fair under all circumstances. The Minister has power to set up tribunals to decide the question with regard to any particular ship concerning which a complaint has been made with regard to the number of men in the stokehold. I believe the method will be found entirely satisfactory for dealing with the question. If we were to make it 3 tons as suggested it would be found that on some ships the quantity would be considered too large. I have been supplied with some particulars concerning fifty-seven ships now trading on the Australian coast which bears out what I have just stated. The figures relate to the vessels of the Adelaide Steam-ship Company, Australian Steamships Limited, Huddart, Parker Limited, Melbourne Steam-ship Company, James Paterson, and the Australian United Steam-ship Navigation Company Limited. Of course, there are seventeen handling under 3 tons per man, six handling over3½ tons, nineteen handling under 3½, but not exceeding 3¼ tons, and fifteen handling over 3¼, but not exceeding3½ tons. It will be seen, therefore, that of the total number of ships there are to-day only six exceeding the maximum set out in the Act. There are seventeen vessels which at the present time are handling less than the quantity the seamen ask to be included in the Act. There are two things happening to-day. The ship-owners are taking3½ tons as if it were the law of the Medes and the Persians, and saying that they are not going to agree to any alterations, because there is power to make an alteration in the case of certain ships. On the other hand, the seamen are saying that they will not man the ships if the firemen are called upon to handle more than 3 tons.
– Is there anything unusual in the construction of the six ships mentioned by the Minister?
– I cannot say; but I believe the arrangements’ in the bunkers are such that the men can handle a greater quantity of coal with the same amount of labour and effort. Of course, this is a question which, when once the Act is proclaimed, can be dealt with by a tribunal. At the conferences I have had with the ship-owners and seamen I have offered to at once proceed with the appointment of a tribunal to deal with individual ships, and, although the decisions of a tribunal will not have the force of law, they should be just as effective if both parties agree to accept the terms decided upon. Up to the present, however, that offer has not been accepted, but I am making it again, and am giving a definite assurance to proceed at once to utilize the machinery which we have at our disposal for establishing a tribunal.
– Who is objecting?
– I believe both parties object, but at the moment I am not prepared to say definitely whether the shipowners are opposed to the procedure I have outlined. At all events, I am making the offer again, because I feel sure that whatever standard were adopted we should have some measure of give and take, as it would be impracticable to have a binding scale for every type of ship. Until the measure has had a fair trial, I consider it undesirable to make any amendment in the direction indicated, because I think it will bo found, in practice, that the procedure I have suggested will be the means of working equitably. I therefore ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
.- This is an instance where I think the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) should yield to the demands of the men, as they have for a considerable time been handling 34 tons. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) quoted the practice in other countries, and showed that on some vessels of other nationalities a much smaller quantity is handled. The firemen and trimmers have exceptionally hard work to perform under trying circumstances, and, in addition to handling coal, the firemen have to keep up steam. The Minister has suggested that there should be some give and take, and it appears to me that the shipowners do all the taking.
– The honorable member must admit that on some vessels they are not handling the quantity mentioned in the amendment.
– I am coming to that. Does the Minister suggest that there are only six or seven ships on which the firemen handle 3½ tons?
– More than that. There are only six on which the firemen handle over 3½ tons.
– Has the Ministeir the figures showing the number of shins on which the men handle 3 tons?
– The figures are: Under 3 tons, 17 ; over 3½ tons, 6 ; under 3½ tons, but not exceeding 3¼ tons, 19; over 3¼ tons, but not exceeding 3½ tons, 15. The proposal, therefore, would affect, altogether, 40 ships out of a total of 57.
– Even if the proposal did affect that number that is no reason why it should be rejected. I understand that quite a number of ships have been tied up because there has been a dispute as to the quantity of coal to be handled. The number of ships on which the men are called upon to handle a lesser quantity is certainly small, and it is quite possible that they may be inconvenient to work. It is more than likely that the men who are handling the smaller quantity are working harder than those who are handling a larger tonnage. I have seen men emerging from the stokehold tired and pale-faced, and in some instances almost human wrecks. Seeing that it is a most undesirable and arduous occupation, I think the Minister would be justified in acceding to the demands of the men. What is the position when a vote is taken on such an amendment as this ? The division bells ring, and honorable members supporting the Government enter the chamber and occupy the same side as Ministers. They have not heard the arguments on which the division is being taken.
– That applies to both parties. .
– I know it does, and, unfortunately for the seamen, we are in a minority. Had the Labour party been in power I am sure we would have granted the seamen’s request in this instance, because all over the civilized world labour conditions have been considerably improved during recent years. During the war period, firemen, in particular, were subjected to all kinds of dangers from submarines, and there was never an instance where they left their work. They stuck to their job. They ran the blockade and carried our troops. Now that the war is over all that they ask is that they shall be brought into line in this respect with their fellow firemen in other parts. They say that this amendment is vital to industrial peace, so far as seafaring men are concerned, and, therefore, of the utmost importance to the commerce of the country, yet the Minister will not agree to it. The shipowners would not be seriously affected by it. Firemen are not the white slaves that they used to be, and I regret that the Minister has not seen fit to concede this request on the part of the union. I hope that Ministerial supporters will show that they have some humane feeling by voting for the proposed new clause.
– The Minister (Mr. Greene), in dealing with my proposed new clause, laid stress on the (point that it was not so much the weight of coal as the question of the accessibility of the bunkers that had to be considered. The quantity of coal which the men have to handle is, in my opinion, the all-important consideration. I wish to emphasize that point. I do not know whether many honorable members have had much experience of the handling of coal, but I have read some sensational statements as to the heavy work done by firemen on American ships. This matter was threshed out by Congress. The Americans have the reputation of being great “hustlers,” and Congress has found it necessary to ameliorate very considerably the conditions of firemen. As the result of careful investigation it took action in that direction. Honorable . members have not had an opportunity to inquire into this question, and many are prepared to leave it to the judgment of practical men, who guide the Government in regard to these questions. I have nothing to say of those experts except that they are not at present working as firemen, and apparently are unable to appreciate the average fireman’spoint of view. I repeat that the weight of coal handled per day governs the situation more largely than does anything else, and I hope that honorable members in coming to a decision on this question will not be influenced by what has been said by the Minister as to the accessibility or otherwise of the coal bunkers.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Mr. Mathews’ amendment) be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed-
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 8, 10, 23, 34, 35, and
.- I move -
That clause 13 be added.
I desire that this clause be recommitted for the reason that, when it was under consideration, I do not think the Committee fully appreciated its serious import. It provides for the amendment of section 39 of the principal Act by the insertion of several new sub-sections, one of which reads -
No seaman shall be rated as “ shipwright “ or “ ship’s carpenter” who has not served an apprenticeship as shipwright, or three years at sea as ship’s carpenter, as the case may be.
In the event of the clause being recommitted, I shall move for the omission of the words “ or three years at sea as ship’s carpenter, as the case may be.” ‘If those words be retained, it will be possible for any man who has served three years at sea to be classed as a ship’s carpenter.
– In what connexion?
– Who is to determine whether or not a man who has been at sea for three years is a qualified ship’s carpenter ? It is admitted that one of the most important men on board a ship is the ship’s carpenter, who is called upon in case of accident to effect repairs.
– The man who is known as “ Chips.”
– Yes, and he has too often been rated as chips. It was fortunate there was on board the John Murray, when that vessel was wrecked, a qualified ship’s carpenter, who was able to repair the boats, and so enabled the crew to be saved. The position would -be serious if, in the event of an accident to a ship, there was not on board a shipwright who could repair a boat, or make a raft, or who did not know the vessel from stem to stern. I do not object to the further provision in the clause that persons rated as shipwrights or ships’ carpenters “ before the commencement of this division, shall continue to be entitled to be so rated.” That provision is in keeping with a section in the Coal Mines Regulation Act under which certificates were issued to men who, at the time of the passing of the Act, were at work in the mines, so that they might continue in their employment. I do not wish to impose any hardship on those now employed as shipwrights or ships’ carpenters, but we should el] act that, after the coming, into operation of this Act, no seaman shall be rated as a shipwright or ship’s carpenter who has not served an apprenticeship as a shipwright.
– Then the honorable member desires that every ship’s’ carpenter shall be a shipwright?
– In what respect do the two callings differ?
– They are two different trades.
– I hope the Minister will agree to recommit the clause.
.- The question, which the honorable member’s amendment involves, has been threshed out time after time in this House. It really arises from a squabble between the Shipwrights Union and the Snips’ Carpenters Union. The Shipwrights belong to the Shipwrights Union, and the Ships’ Carpenters to the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. The shipwrights have tried by one means and another to prevent ships’ carpenters being employed on our coast.
– What is the difference between them?
– There is a difference. The shipwright, I understand, is a man who has served an apprenticeship in the actual building of steel ships. The ship’s carpenter is gradually passing away, as steel ships are entirely replacing the wooden ships. Nevertheless, quite a number of men employed on our coast have served their time as ships’ carpenters, and they are ships’ carpenters.
– The clause does not refer only to them, but to any one who may be employed in that position.
– When the Bill was previously under consideration, the Committee was divided on an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) dealing with this matter, and the amendment was negatived by a vote of 30 to 9. I cannot see any object in again threshing the subject out, with probably the same result. In the circumstances, I must oppose the amendment.
.- Since we dealt with this matter on a previous occasion, a deputation of shipwrights waited upon the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and myself in connexion with it. They pointed out that what they desired is that in future only men who have qualified as shipwrights shall be appointed to the position of ship’s carpenter. They have no desire to secure the discharge of men now engaged as ships’ carpenters, but simply that qualified men only shall be engaged in this position in the future. The honorable member for Newcastle desires to have struck out the words “ or three years at sea as a ship’s carpenter as the case may be,” which appear to us to mean that any man who has been at sea as a ship’s carpenter may, in future, ibc appointed to this position.
– For all time.
– The shipwrights contend that that is wrong, and that no man should be appointed to the position who is not a skilled man.
– Under this Bill, in future no man can be rated as a snip’s carpenter if he has not, prior to the proclamation of the Act, served for three years as a ship’s carpenter. No new man, the honorable member will see, can bo so rated. This provision is giving the whole business to the shipwrights in future.
– Not if an amateur may be employed.
– That cannot be. Under the Bill as it stands, a shipwright can be rated in this position so long as he produces his indentures, but a ship’s carpenter cannot be so rated unless he has served three years as a ship’s carpenter before the proclamation of the Act.
– The shipwrights object to that. They say that a man who has had three years’ service on a ship is not necessarily a qualified man. He is, in their opinion, in the same position as an improver or rough and ready carpenter compared with a man who has served his time as a carpenter.
– What the shipwrights have been trying to do all along is to throw the ships’ carpenters out of their jobs, and the Government will not consent to do that.
– The Minister referred to a division of 30 to 9 upon an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor). The vote was in favour of retaining sub-clause 7, which reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, persons rated as greasers, firemen, shipwrights, or ships’ carpenters before the commencement of this Division shall continue to be entitled to be so rated.
I believe that I voted against my leader on that occasion, because I considered that those now in employment as ships’ carpenters should be allowed to retain their positions. I wish to prevent the employment of unqualified men in the future.
– I assure the honorable member that under the Bill as it stands no man can in future be signed on as a ship’s carpenter in Australia unless before the Act comes into force he has served for three years as a ship’s carpenter.
– Then if after the Act comes into force a man has not served three years on a boat as a ship’s carpenter, he will not be eligible to be appointed to that position?
– He cannot be rated as a ship’s carpenter.
– He cannot be taken on as ship’s carpenter?
– I see the position which the Minister puts, but I draw a different conclusion from my reading of the provision. It seems to me that under the clause as it stands any man who has been employed on a ship for three years will be eligible for appointment as a ship’s carpenter.
– No. He must have served for three years as a ship’s carpenter.
– He must have been three years rated as ship’s carpenter before the proclamation of the Act.
– Who rates him?
– The superintendent ; and in future he cannot rate a man as ship’s carpenter unless he has had three years’ previous rating in that position.
– Will the Minister say that if the captain of a ship employs a man for three years on board a ship he will not be eligible for employment as a ship’s carpenter under this provision.?
– What I say is that unless a man has had three years’ service as ship’s carpenter he cannot be signed on in future as a ship’s carpenter.
– I quite understand that.
– If a man has served for only, two years as a ship’s carpenter when the Act is proclaimed, the superintendent who has to determine the ratings of men will be unable to sign him on in that position. So that such a man can never secure the three years’ service which would entitle him to that rating.
– I am doubtful whether the clause bears the construction which the Minister puts upon it. Do I understand the Minister to say that if a man has not served for three years as a ship’s carpenter he cannot, after the passing of the Act, be appointed to that position at any time?
– I say in regard to all Australian men, that unless a man has for three years served and been rated as a ship’s carpenter before the proclamation of the Act, it will be quite impossible for him infuture to be rated as a ship’s carpenter.
– If that is so, that will satisfy me.
– I regret that the Minister will not agree to the recommittal of clause 13, so that we may properly discuss the question with which it deals. When the clause was originally before the Committee some weeks ago, I moved the omission of sub-clause 7, which reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, personsrated as greasers, firemen, shipwrights, or ships’ carpenters before the commencement of this Division shall continue to be entitled to be so rated.
A man might have been doing that particular class of work for only three months, yet he could be rated as a ship’s carpenter, provided that the organizations concerned did not object.
– The proviso in subclause 7 applies to the existing conditions.
– I am aware of that.
– Order ! This discussion is really out of order.
– I am giving the reasons why clause 13 should be considered on recommittal,in order that we may have an opportunity to secure the employment in this position of only skilled men. If there is a man on board a ship who should be a skilled man it is the ship’s carpenter. You, Mr. Speaker, and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), who have had sea-faring experience, will know that in time of danger the man who is looked to is the ship’s carpenter. If boats are stove in, the only man who can repair them is the ship’s carpenter, and if he be a shipwright he will have had the better experience. I think that the Minister should give us an opportunity to reconsider the clause, so that we might set forth the reasons for the amendment it is desired to move in it.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Section (6) of the principal Act is amended.
– I move -
That after the word “ amended “ the following words be inserted: - “ (aa) by omitting from the definition of limited coast-trade ship ‘ the words (not exceeding a radius of four hundred miles)’ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ (not exceeding the limits for hometrade or coast-trade ships, as the case may be, fixed for the port, at the commencement of this section, by any State law)’; ” (ab) by adding at the end of the defi nition of ‘ River and bay ship ‘ the words and also includes any ship or class of ships, specified by the Minister, by notice in the Gazette, which trades exclusively within the limits of a specified port, bay, or river, and within a radius of three nautical miles seaward from the entrance of the port, bay, or river:’; “.
– I should like to know whether this amendment will apply to small boats running on the rivers, and not ordinarily used in carrying passengers. On the rivers in New South Wales there are many small boats engaged in carrying butter and other produce, but on holidays they are sometimes engaged by people for picnics. If boats of this character are to come under the Act their owners will be put to considerable expense to comply, for example, with the necessity for providing lifebelts for each passenger. If such a vessel could carry 200 passengers it would not be worth the while of the parties interested to equip her with 200 lifebelts for the purposes of conducting some two or three trips in a year; and, really, there is no considerable factor of danger, as the rivers in which the boats ply are often so narrow that one can practically leap from the deck to the land.
– This provision will not alter the law in so far as it applies to river and bay ships, except that it will enable the Minister to meet special cases where it is necessary for a vessel, to which the provisions of the Act relating to river and bay ships apply, to proceed to sea for various purposes. There are, for example, dredges which take silt out of harbors. These belong to the river and bay class of ship, within the meaning of the Act, and they are not required to comply with the various conditions attaching to ocean-going vessels. The moment they go “ outside,” however, under the Act, as it stands, they cease to be river and bay ships. The object of the amendment is to enable the Minister to permit such craft, although river and bay ships, to proceed to sea for 3 nautical miles without being compelled to comply with the special conditions such as must be observed by ships proceeding to sea in the ordinary way. Of course, vessels which do not go “ outside “ at all will not be in any way affected.
– I am satisfied with the assurance.
– I take it that the officials of the Department would always be careful, before granting permission in such circumstances as the Minister has indicated, to see that proper facilities were provided on board the ship. I hold that all vessels, no matter of what class, should be equipped with efficient life-saving apparatus. That applies not only to craft of the kind indicated by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) - seeing that disastrous collisions may occur in narrow waterways. - but official authority should extend also to river craft, such as one sees at Henleyon Yarra. Scores of people are crowded dangerously upon a fancily-decked boat, the decorations of which are such that the passengers are practically caged in. Far more adequate provisions for safeguarding life should be insisted upon.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 (Certificates of competency).
– Clause 10, which deals with certificates of competency, reads -
Section 15 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after the word “corresponding” (wherever occurring) the words “or any lower “.
I move -
That after the word “ amended “, the following words be inserted: - “ - (a) by inserting after the words ‘second class’ (first occurring) the words First class motor engineer Second class motor engineer ‘ ; and
This amendment has become necessary through the introduction of the Diesel engine, and it is intended simply to make provision for the rating of first and second class motor engineers.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to-
That clause 23beleft out and the following clause inserted in lieu thereof: - “ 23. Section eighty-eight of the principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 88. (1) If any seaman, employed on a ship registered in Australia, is discharged -
elsewhere than at the port of discharge specified in his agreement;
otherwise than in accordance with the terms of his agreement or the provisions of this Act;
without fault on his part justifying his discharge; and
without his consent, the provisions of sub-sections (5) and (6) of section fifty of this Act shall apply as if the seaman had been discharged in pursuance of sub-section (3) of that section.’”
Clause 34 (Accommodation for seamen and apprentices).
– I move -
That clause 34 be left out and the following clause inserted in lieu thereof: - “ 34. Section one hundred and thirty-six of the principal Act is amended -
by inserting after paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) the following paragraph:
if such is required by the medical inspector, regard being had to the construction and situation of the berthing accommodation provided and to the trade in which the ship is employed or likely to be employed, such means of artificial heating and mechanical ventilation as are, in his opinion, necessary for the preservation of the health and comfort of the crew; ‘
by omitting from paragraph (f) of sub-section (1) the words ‘three thousand cubic feet ‘, and inserting in their stead the words ‘ the prescribed quantity’;
by inserting in sub-section (3) after the word ‘ bathrooms ‘, the words and facilities for washing clothes’;
by inserting in sub-section (3) after the word ‘ water ‘, the words ‘ as prescribed ‘;
by omitting from sub-section (3) the words ‘ employed in connexion with the engines of the ship’;
by inserting in sub-section (4), after the words ‘ shall not apply to ‘, the words “limited coast-trade ships of less than three hundred tons gross registered tonnage or ‘ ; and
by inserting at the end of sub-section
the following words: - and- the seaman or apprentice may recover any amount due under this sub-section in the same manner as if that amount were wages.’ “
This clause is introduced, following upon consultation between myself and the seamen themselves; and I think it will generally meet with the approval of all parties concerned.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 35 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clause 64 (Watertight partitions, fireproof bulkheads, and double bottoms).
– Clause 64 repeals section 206 and inserts a new section having to do with watertight partitions and the like. The various classes of vessels embraced within the scope of the section are set forth, and sub-section c states -
Every steam-ship . . . whether British or foreign, carrying more than twelve passengers, which proceeds from a port in Australia to a port outside Australia, shall, in the prescribed manner, be subdivided into watertight compartments and fitted with fireproof bulkheads and with a double bottom.
The master and ownerof any such ship which goes to sea without compliance with this section shall be guilty of an offence.
I move -
That after the word “ Australia “, first occurring, the following words be added: - “ , or which comes into a port in Australia from a port outside Australia,”. And that, after the word “ sea “ the following words be added: - “ , or, in the case of a vessel carrying more than twelve passengers, which comes into a port in Australia from a port outside Australia,”.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments; Standing Orders suspended and reports adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
There are four measures in connexion with the Public Service with which’ this Parliament may have to deal. The first, which deals with Public Service arbitration, has already been passed, and is now on the statute-book. The next is the Bill, now before this House, dealing with the management of the Service. The third will be a general amending Bill, which is now being prepared for submission to the House, and which deals with the whole of the existing Act, and proposed amendments to it. The fourth, which we trust will be introduced at no distant date, will deal with superannuation in the Public Service. The Bill, now before the House, relates only to the proposed Board of Management, and is in some measure the outcome of the work done by the Royal Commission recently appointed to report upon the public expenditure of the Commonwealth with a view to effecting economies. Practically only one principle, the substitution of a Board of Management consisting of three persons for the existing Public Service Commissioner, is involved in this Bill. The Board will consist of a Chairman and two other members. One will be appointed for five years, another for four years, and another for three, so far as the first three members are concerned. After that, the proposal is to give each member a definite term not exceeding five years. The idea of rotation is introduced in order to secure continuity in the policy and administration of the Board.
– Is the Chairman to be appointed for five years?
– Presumably that will be so. No salary is set out in the Bill, because it originated with the Senate. The salary will be introduced in this House by amendments recommended by an appropriating message. The proposal is to give a salary of £2,000 a year to the Chairman, and £1,500 a year to each of the other members. The Chairman’s salary will harmonize with that fixed for the Public Service Arbitrator. These two offices will be put, as regards salary, on terms of equality. Themembers of the Board are to have an assured position, because they will be removable only by joint resolution of both Houses. The Bill does not purport to amend in any way the general provisions of the Public Service Act. We can consider the proposed Board of Management in relation to the powers that now exist under the Act. If the Board is appointed, it will fulfil all those functions with respect to grading, classification, promotion, transfer, and so forth that are now performed by the Public Service Commissioner, but in addition the Board is to be given very important duties which are the direct result of the recommendations of the Economies Commission. Clause 11 defines the added duties to be imposed upon the Board.
The clause provides -
In addition to such duties as are elsewhere in this Act imposed on it, the Board shall have the following duties : -
Then various ways are set out, by which the Board is to effect economies and improve the management of the Service, as follows : -
the co-ordination of the work of the various Departments;
These are all duties of a new character, and additional to those contained in the Act. They set out the principles of management for the Service, and, particularly in paragraph (viii), create new and important functions. The idea is that, in addition to supervising the whole Service, as regards the fixing of salaries, classification, grading, promotion, and transfer, the Board will have a wider scope enabling it to look into the management of the Service as a whole, and, in particular, to advise, from a business stand-point, upon new contracts, and upon contracts that are being carried out. It will keep a better supervision over expenditure, and devise a system of checking in order to see that value is obtained for money spent. It is further provided that the duties of the Board will be -
The Board is to submit to Parliament an annual report upon the working of the Act. This report should be helpful to the House, and keep honorable members continually informed as to the administration of the Departments and the methods on which they are working. The Board is also to be given such other duties in relation to the Public Service as are prescribed. When this Business Board has arrived at a decision upon ‘ any of the matters above enumerated, the question will arise as to how that decision is to be carried out. The Bill provides that in the first place the Board must make its recommendation report or suggestion to the permanent head of the Department concerned. It will be for him then to consider its application to the Department of which he is head.
– That is just where you get into the weak points.
– No, it is just where we get into a strong position. If the permanent head decides to carry out the recommendation of the Board, the Board, with its right of entry into any Department to see that effect is being given to its wishes, will be able to supervise the carrying out of that recommendation. If the permanent head does not approve of or adopt the recommendation, he must within a reasonable time inform the Board of his reasons. Thereupon the Board may, if it thinks fit, make its recommendation report or suggestion to the Minister administering the Department. If the Minister does not approve of or, adopt it, within a reasonable time, then the Board may report the matter to. both Houses of Parliament.
– That is a long way round.
– Managers without authority!
– No ; the general scheme ofthe Board is in accordance with the recommendations of the Economies Commission. Ministerial responsibility is not to be taken away.
– I am referring to the head of the Department, not the Minister.
– The head of the Department cannot block the recommendation of the Board. Parliamentary control must be preserved in all our legislation. In this case the Board of Management is given full powers of inquiry, investigation, and report, and effective means are provided by which, if its report is not carried out, it can report directly to Parliament.
– Was the reference to the head of the Department one of the proposals of the Economies Commission?
– I think that it meets with their approval.
– If the head of the Department refuses to carry out the report, has the Board power to suspend him?
– Of course not; nor should.it have. These, however, are all matters which can be discussed in detail later on, when I think I shall be able to satisfy honorable members that this is a correct and effective way of carrying but the report.
– A Board without power !
-No, it is not. I ask honorable members to allow me to explain the Bill.
– You are making a very poor attempt at it.
– Because the honorable member is jumping to conclusions without having read a single line of the Bill, or havingthe patience to listen while it is explained to him. I venture to predict that before we have finished dealing with it the honorable member will be the strongest supporter of the Bill. It is provided, absolutely and completely, that none of the suggestions or recommendations of the Board can be “‘shunted.” If neither the Minister nor the head of the Department approves, Parliament must be made acquainted with the fact. Honorable members will admit that in order to preserve Ministerial control, the ultimate responsibility for every Department must rest with the Minister who has to answer for it, and the machinery of the Bill is designed to provide the procedure and attain the result I have indicated. The question may be raised as to whether the controlling authority should consist of one person or three persons. Different practices prevail in different places. In New South Wales there is a Board of three, in Queensland the work is done by a committee of the Cabinet, and in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia there is one Commissioner, while in New Zealand there is a Commissioner with two Assistant Commissioners. In the Commonwealth, up to the present, we have had one Commissioner, and Mr. McLachlan now points out that it is necessary to have an Assistant Commissioner owing to the growth of the work. The Commissioner must also be given some added strength, in order to effectively control the Public Service. A Public Service Commissioner is generally called upon to classify and grade the Service, fix rates of salary, and so forth, but the proposed Board will have added duties of a different nature, and of a character not hitherto undertaken by any. Public Ser-. vice administration in the Commonwealth. The idea is that there shall be business management as well as control of the Service, and this, obviously, cannot be obtained by means of one Commisioner this necessitates calling in aid from out- . side in order to bring some additional ability and strength to bear on the general control and the expenditure of the Service.
– What does the “expenditure of the Service “ mean?
– I shall explain that in due time. At present I wish to give honorable members some figures showing the increase in the number of public servants under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner. In 1903 there were 11,374 permanent officers in the Commonwealth Service, receiving salaries aggregating £1,521,051. On 30th June of thisyear. the number of permanent servants had increased to 22,817, receiving salaries . aggregating £4,639,859. In addition there are also what are known as exempt and casual officers, who lately average, in number, 11,500. These include, of course, semi-official officers and others appointed from outside, and, taken altogether, there are about 34,000 public servants of all classes scattered throughout the Commonwealth.
– Casuals at present are not under the Commissioner.
– At the same time there is, necessarily, administration connected with them, and the work, throughout the Continent is, of course, considerable. An attempt has been made in the past by one Commissioner with six inspectors to keep a sort of efficient control over the whole Service. Mr, McLachlan, in his report, shows that the growth of the Service has been so great that the original scheme is inadequate under the present conditurns, and for that reason another scheme must be devised.
– Will the Board of Management control the casuals as well as the permanent officers?
– The Board of Management will have the same control as that exercised by the Public Service Commissioner. I do not wish to deal now with. matters to be provided for in the new Pul> lie Service Bill, but only with the problem as it presents itself, and assuming that the Board of Management has to do the work of the Commissioner under the existing law. I ask ‘honorable members to study the report of Mr. McLachlan, who is now outside the Service, and able, as a capable man, to give us the benefit of his many years’ experience. We may, of course, disagree with parts of that re: port, but, at the same time, it brings out most important facts and circumstances for the consideration of the Government and Parliament. First of all, “the Board of Management will take over the full control of all the public servants,, and that, in itself, is an important change. We have provided, as regards the decisions of the Board, so far as they are matters for submission to arbitration, that the decisions will be subject to the rights of the persons and associations affected.
– That is only in regard to wages.
– It iB in regard to wages, conditions, and so forth, as set out in- the Act.
– Why- not include the casual employees ?
– I am not how dealing with the amending of the general law relating to public servants ; that is a matter which will come up for discussion under another Bill. There is no reason, seeing that the business side is urgent, why we should not appoint this Board and get it to work as soon, as possible. If, as a. result, the Board could advise us in any way in the amending of the general law, we shall not have made a mistake in its early constitution. I desire to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the Public Service of the Commonwealth, which is the subject of a great deal of criticism. We read and hear remarks made about the increasing expenditure, and are asked why we cannot go back to that” of 1913-14.
– Some would have vb go back to 1901.
– Or even further- to the days of Adam and Eve. Would those organizations and companies which - criticise the Public Service, and the expenditure in connexion with it, show their own present balance-sheets, and compare them in the same way with’ their balance-sheets of 19J3-14? Are those organizations’ and; companies paying the same wages* now ‘ as they did then ? Are they purchasingterial at the same prices, and making the same charges for the articles they . pro-‘ duce? It is only fair that people who indulge in such criticism should apply- the dame methods to the management of their own affairs. However, I do not wish to unduly press that -point now. Ever since the ‘establishment of the Federation, ‘ the Commonwealth Public Service has been carrying put its duties in a, more. efficient manner than they are generally given credit for. I- have had a good many years’ experience of the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and I know that it is only when some little difficulty arises that we hear this criticism; when the thousand and one duties are performed efficiently and well, and no friction is observable, not a word of praise is forthcoming. Many of the men whowere in the Service at the beginning .of Federation have now retired, and it is only just to express some gratitude for. what they have done for the country. I speak with some feeling on the matter, because it was my duty, in 1905, to introduce the first measure, for the classification of the whole Public Service. Up to that time we had been working under six different systems, all conferring differentrights and duties on those concerned, and we had to introduce a series of legislative Acts’ affecting the business of the whole of the continent. When we look back, as we can now, with some historical perspective, we oan appreciate the comparative smoothness with which, the work has been conducted. When an occasion like this presents itself, it is only fair to express our appreciation.
– It is only fair to say that a great deal of the inefficiency in the past was due as much to Ministers as to public servants.
– ^Perhaps Parliament may sometimes, in its rashness, cause. difficulties in this connexion. However; it is a fitting time, when reviewing our Public Service, to place on record the facts that I have mentioned. What was suitable for 1905 is not. suitable for. 1920-21, and it becomes necessary to review the position, in the interests of the public generally, and also of the public servants. The first step we are taking is the appointment of a Board of Management, and in regard to this I refer honorable members to the report of the Economy Commission, Part VIII., page 85, in order that they may appreciate the motives which actuate the Government. Throughout the war, other business men gave us most useful assistance in connexion with the administration of our public activities, and they deserve the thanks of the country. The Economies Commission says -
The outstanding feature in connexion with the conduct of business in those’ Federal Government Departments which have been investigated by the Commission to date is the absence of systematic control or check upon the economical working of the Departments.
Not only is there no systematic, comprehensive, and continuous check upon the economical and efficient working of the Departments individually by heads of Departments, or as a whole by the Public Service Commissioner, but this duty is not recognised by these officers as a part of their work.
This does not necessarily mean, nor is it intended to convey, that all branches of the work of all the Departments is extravagant and inefficient, for we have had the pleasure of investigating some branches which are admirably managed, the work being economically and efficiently conducted in spite of the absence of any satisfactory control over economy and efficiency by the head of the Department and Public Service Commissioner.
Such results, however, are attributable to some officers satisfying self-imposed standards.
Again, upon page 86 of their report the Commission make a specific recommendation which has been embodied’ in this Bill. Paragraph 34 of their report reads -
It seems to us that the duty of maintaining such safeguards upon the economical and efficient working of the Departments should be performed by some authority quite independent of the Departments themselves, and as free from the possibility of its powers of healthy criticism being in any way impaired or intimidated, as the Auditor-General is in regard to his checks upon the accurate and honest accounting.
This duty should bo performed by a Board of Management for public services, consisting of three persons, whose appointment should be for a term of years, and whose retirement should be on the principle of rotation to insure continuity of policy and with eligibility of ro-appointment. The members of the Board should be partly recruited from persons with outside business experience. It is considered that the conditions in regard to the suspension or dismissal of any member of such Board for incapacity, incompetence, or misbehaviour should be similar to those which apply to the Auditor-General’s.
It should be the duty of the Board of Management for public services to devise means of measuring the economical efficiency of each and every Department throughout the Commonwealth, and to continually apply these measurements to actual performance.
The Board of Management should take steps to obtain data which will enable it to detect evidence of extravagant working; this data would serve the purpose of a general indicator, and point to the branch or area in which reductions in expenditure might be looked for.
Upon any indication of costly working, it should be immediately investigated by inspection by qualified officers for the purpose Of ascertaining whether the high costs are due to unavoidable causes or to extravagance.
The Commission makes it perfectly clear that it does not believe in interference with Ministerial responsibility. Upon this point it says -
The Commission, whilst recognising that the public and Parliament rightly demands that there shall be unimpaired Ministerial responsibility for all matters of policy and the avoidance of the evils of bureaucracy, also recognises that the public rightly demands that safeguards shall be set up which will insure in all cases that unnecessary or indiscreet expenditure or costly working by whomsoever authorized, and notwithstanding who is responsible, will be brought under the notice of Parliament and the public.
The machinery in the Bill, to which I referred earlier in my remarks, will exactly carry out the desire of the Commission in that regard. The Commission further suggests that in order that the Board may carry out its duties efficiently, seeing that the inspectorial staff for which provision is made in the existing law will disappear-
– Is it proposed to abolish the offices of the Public Service Inspectors ?
– Yes, but it does not follow that the inspectorial duties will go with them. The Commission look for7 ward to’ a more efficient system. I think that the Public Service Commissioner himself agrees that it is impossible for one inspector to inspect all the Departments of an entire State.
– “What does the Minister mean by “inspect”?
– The duties of an inspector are defined in the existing Act.
– The inspectors remain in their offices all the time.
– The original Act was intended to provide for a scheme of inspection operating . over an entire
Continent similar to that which was adopted by big business corporations.
– The Government are merely juggling with names.
– We are doing more than that. Paragraph 40 of the Commission’s Report reads -
It is necessary that there shall he attached to the staff of the Board of Management a small staff of technical officers, expert in different classes of work. These officers should not only he utilized continuously for investigating the economical efficiency of the work in which they are expert in the various Departments of the different States, but should be utilized for the purpose of advising the Board in regard to the rates of pay and efficiency of officers of the Public Service in the technical grades, as it is impossible, under the existing system, for this work to be other than a pretence.
– What is the Public Service Arbitrator to do ?
– The duties of an inspector are entirely different from those of an Arbitrator. The latter will have to decide what salary should be paid to an officer in certain circumstances.
– Is the head of a Department to do nothing at all?
– Does the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) think that the Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral should visit every postoffice in Australia?
– We might as well expect the manager of a bank to go out and inspect every one of its branches.
– Or the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank to visit Queensland to inspect the country branches there.
– Mr. Denison Miller does that.
– Provision is to be made for a proper inspection of the Public Services of the Commonwealth upon modern business lines. That is a very desirable thing. I have shown that the Bill is the result of careful inquiry by the Commission into what they believe will make for economy and efficiency in the administration of our Public ‘Service. It is based upon the report of the Commission.
I wish now to emphasize the added duties which will be placed upon the Board by virtue of this measure. I invite the attention of honorable members to that part of the measure which will vest the Board of Management with powers in respect to contracts and expenditure. During the year 1918-19 the expenditure under ordinary votes for all Departments of the Commonwealth was £16,518,792. The expenditure upon new. works, buildings. and sites for all Departments during the same year amounted to £2,186,176.
– Does that include Defence?
– It includes the general administration of all the Departments, eliminating war expenditure or recurring expenditure such as special payments to the States, &c.
– It covers administration upon the civil side?
– And upon the Defence side also. I do not commit myself to the statement that these figures cover all the expenditure, but I wish to convey some idea of the magnitude of the expenditure that is connected with the general working of our Public Service Departments. This is part of the area over which the Board of Management will exercise supervision. It will be able to investigate the question whether there is a lack of co-ordination in a Department, an absence of system in the checking of expenditure, an ineffective system connected with the costing of works, or whether any contract for supplies ought to be looked into with a view to improving the position. A lot of this work will be detailed; it will be close investigation work, which will require constant supervision. In many instances it cannot be undertaken by the heads of Departments. Obviously there ought to be some supervision exercised over our expenditure similar to that which is exercised by the Auditor-General over our accounts. The Bill will insure efficiency and economy in our Public Service. That is the reason why we propose to appoint a Board of three members in lieu of a Public Service Commissioner. I have now shortly stated the general purpose of the Bill. Honorable members will recognise that it3 introduction has been rendered, necessary by the growth and development of our Public Service, and by the increased activities of modern government.
– Do the Ministry expect that the Bill will obviate the necessity for the creation of a business Board to manage the Postal and Telegraph Department?
– I think that the Board of Management for the Public Service will cover a great deal of the work which would have been performed by a Postal Commission. It will insure a good deal of increased supervision and checking upon business lines, which was the object underlying the proposal to establish a Postal Commission. I hope that honorable members will assist us to get the measure through Committee as speedily as possible in order that we may get the benefit of the experience and advice which will be at the command of the proposed Board of Management.
– What economies will be effected under the Bill ?
– I am not a prophet.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 2 -
Section 4 of the principal Act is amended - (a) By inserting in the definition of “employer “, after the word “ industry “, the words “and includes a Club.”
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out paragraph a.
– I move -
That the amendment bo disagreed to.
Mr. Justice Higgins has held that he cannot see his way to include clubs as employers; but, as the Government were of opinion that they should have no special privileges over any other classes of employers of labour, they made provision in this Bill to include them in the definition of “ employer.” However, the Senate has omitted from the Bill the paragraphwhich makes this amendment. The Government cannot see their way to depart from their original intention in this respect.
Motion agreed to.
Verbal amendment in clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
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.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Court shall not have jurisdiction to make an award -
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.”
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ claim “, in the proviso, insert “ and the taking of evidence in the Court”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendment made by the Senate only serves to make perfectly clear what cases are not to require the jurisdiction of the President and not less than two Deputy Presidents.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 21 -
Section 48 of the principal Act is amended-
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert “ (al) by inserting before the words ‘ A County, District, or Local Court ‘ the words ‘ The High Court or a Justice thereof or ‘ “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
In the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1918 a County, District, or Local Court was given power to entertain certain applications in the nature of an injunction or a mandamus to secure the carrying out of awards. In addition to these tribunals, it is now proposed to give this jurisdiction also to the High Court or a Justice thereof.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - After clause. 21 insert the following new clause: - “ 21a. After section fifty-eight a of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - 58b. The rules of an organization registered under this Act and the officials of such organization shall not during the currency of an award in the industry concerned prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award at any time prior to the commencement of service.’ “
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Honorable members will recollect that when the Bill was in this Chamber the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) moved to insert this clause,” but the Government could not then accept it. I could not see my way to do so at the time, although on its merits it seemed to me to be a reasonable proposition in that it enabled members of unions, by signing an agreement, to see regular work ahead of them, and permitted the employer to have all his material ready, and make arrangements beforehand, for starting work on a definite date. Furthermore, the proposal seemed good inasmuch as the terms of any agreement arrived at must be settled according to the terms of an award of the Court. That is to say, the men would only be asked to work under an award of the Court. Whether the provision is constitutional or not, is an open question. It appears to me to be something in the nature of an attempt at industrial legislation, and beyond the powers of this Parliament; but lawyers differ as to our powers in this regard, and there is only one Tribunal which can ultimately give a decision upon the matter. If it decides that legislation upon these lines is within the power of this Parliament we will be given wider industrial power than some of us are now inclined to think we possess. However, seeing that the Senate has now inserted the provision, I am agreeable to its inclusion in the Act.
.- I regret that the Government have gone back on the stand they took up, not only in this House, but also in the Senate, in reference to this proposal. No industrial organization worthy of the name would allow its members to sign agreements.
– The Australian
Workers Union are allowing their members to sign these agreements.
– Some organizations may permit it, but there will be nothing more provocative of strikes.
– The honorable member does not understand the meaning of the provision.
– I have had far more experience of trades unionism than the honorable member has had.
– Is this a special law for the Australian Workers Union ?
– It has been put a specially to meet the case of shearers.
– It may apply specially to shearers, but it will affect every registered organization.
– It . does not compel members of organizations to enter into agreements.
– It will allow them to do so, but 98 per cent, of the organizations will not allow their members to sign these agreements.
– It will be the other way about. ,
– The honorable member may know a lot about the Employers Federation, but he knows nothing about unions. I object to the organizations having this power, because it will tend to break down the Arbitration Act. It was the president of the Employers Federation who in the Senate moved for the insertion of this provision, evidently in an attempt to smash trade unionism in the easiest possible way, by practically compelling the weak-kneed individuals in trade organizations to sign agreements. Employers have in former times secured men for wages lower than have been specified.
– Lower than specified in an award ?
– That would not be legal.
– Well, it has been done, and these men, who are known as the “ crawlers “ in trade union circles, have handed back some of the money to their “ bosses.”
– Read the clause. You will see “you are wrong.
– I have read the amendment, and I know the source from which it emanates. It comes from an organization that is endeavouring to smash trade unionism.
– It is not; just the opposite.
– Not the opposite, as the honorable. member interjects. I have had some experience of trade union movements, and I know what I am talking about. I will guarantee you would not get even women in the hat trade to agree to a clause like this. Let the Government insert a provision applying it only to the Australian Workers Union. It is going to be applied to every registered organization. It states -
The rules of an organization-
Not the rules of the Australian Workers Union - registered, under this Act-
There are other registered organizations besides the Australian Workers Union - and the officials of such organization shall not during the currency of an award in the industry concerned prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award. …
-“ In accordance with such award.”
– Yes. in accordance with the piece-work rates paid in many industries, where you will find men giving something back to their “bosses.” These are the men that an organization must protect itself against. I shall vote against the insertion of the new clause introduced by the Senate.
– I should like to say a few words in opposition to the acceptance of this proposed new clause. I happened to be in another place when this question came before that Chamber, and I noticed, with some interest, that the representatives of the Government there sturdily opposed the proposition that is now before the Committee’. They opposed it consistently with the attitude taken up by the Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Groom), who, when the Bill was before honorable members before, could not see his way to accept it at the instance of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I do not criticise the Government merely on the ground that they change their mind even though they have done so in so brief a time as on this occasion; and especially when they make such frequent and such grave mistakes. I am opposed to the acceptance of this amendment, because of its demerits. Everybody knows that the right of an organization to make rules for its members is the right which every individual in this community enjoys to make contracts, free contracts, with other members of the community for the regulation of conduct and for their mutual welfare.’ The rules of an organization represent the contract made by its members for their own protection; and they are accepted as the result of deliberation as to what is best to be done, in their own interests, in governing the conduct of its members. This proposal is of very grave importance, because it seeks to limit, in a very arbitrary way, the right of members of an organization to make rules for their own protection amongst themselves. And in a very curious way it overrides the principle, which I always thought was sacred to members on the other side of this chamber, namely, the right of freedom of contract. It may be said, in answer to this, that the Government desire to uphold the right of freedom of contract, and for that reason they have set out to coerce members of organizations who desire to make their rules in a particular way for their own protection. The clause says -
The rules of an organization registered under this Act, and the officials of such organization, shall not during the currency of an award in the industry concerned prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award at any time prior to the commencement of service.
– It cuts into an award right away.
– I had always understood that the Government were favorable to a policy of conciliation and arbitration. At the very basis of conciliation and arbitration lies the right of members of an organization to make their own rules for their own governance. Of course this amendmeint has a practical but sinister meaning.
– It is practical, but not sinister.
– It is directed, as I observed from the advocacy of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), and I gather now from the interjection of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), against a certain practice common in the organization known as the Australian Workers Union.
– It is accepted to-day by that union.
– The amendment states, not that a person shall not make a contract during the currency of an award, but that the rules of an organization shall not forbid, as between members of the organization, the making of such a contract. If a person finds- the rules of his own organization, which govern the conduct of its members, distasteful to him, the better place for him is outside the organization altogether. He should not invoke the aid of Parliament to prevent such organization from exercising its undoubted right to make rules for its own members. They are not the rules of the Pastoralists Union or the Employers Federation, but the rules of a union governing only the conduct of its members amongst themselves.
– Then, you say that a union may make rules irrespective of the interests of the community?
– I am saying nothing of the sort.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– I am keenly disappointed at the attitude of the Government in accepting this amendment. It is drafted and instigated by one body alone - the Graziers Association of New South Wales - and is aimed directly and solely at the Australian Workers Union. Since 1007 the Australian Workers Union has been working under awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and until quite recently no member was prevented from signing agreements prior to roll-call. But because of the actions of certain pastoralists throughout Australia, who attempted to get an advantage from the men by charging them high prices for their meat, the Australian Workers Union was practically compelled to add a rule to its constitution to prevent members from signing agreements prior to roll-call at the shed. Having signed no prior agreement, the men, on arrival at the shed, were in a position to prevent exploitation by the pastoralists through charges of 6d. to ls. per lb. for meat. In some instances the squatters have positively refused to supply the men with meat, and in one case the men were compelled to send 30 miles for meat.
– I did not think there were such unreasonable men in Australia.
– The honorable member may accept my assurance that there are; hence the necessity for rule 112 in the Australian Workers Union constitution. This year, for the first time in the history of the industry, the agreement made between the Graziers Association, and the Pastoralists Unions of the different States and the Australian Workers Union included a fixed price for meat, with the result that, no matter where a member contracts to shear, he knows before he goes to the station what price he will pay for his meat. On four occasions during the last five years we endeavoured to induce the Pastoralists Unions and the Graziers Associations to come to an agreement as to the price of meat, but not until this year was a satisfactory arrangement made. Immediately that agreement was signed the Australian Workers Union agreed to suspend the operation of rule 112, and this year members of the union are making their arrangements prior to going to the sheds. If this amendment, which is instigated by the Graziers Association of New South Wales, and is aimed at the Australian Workers Union, is brought into operation the shearers will be compelled to pay - if the union will allow them to do so - any price for meat that the pastoralists themselves may fix. They will thus be completely at the mercy of the dishonest squatters of whom, unfortunately, there are quite a number.
This proposal is not new. In 1917 the present Government were approached by the Graziers Association of New South Wales, and again in 1919 by the secretary of that organization. When this amendment was moved during the course of the Bill’s progress through this House, the Minister in charge refused to accept it, but apparently sufficient pressure was brought to bear to induce the Government to accept the amendment when it was proposed in another place. Honorable members should not allow an organization of employers to use this Legislature for the purpose of getting amendments made to the Act, in order to hit at certain members of the Australian Workers Union. I hope that the Committee will refuse to accept the amendment, because, notwithstanding what may be said by honorable members opposite, there is no union covered by an award of the Arbitration Court, other than the Australian Workers Union, which the amendment will affect.
– The price of meat is now fixed in the agreement.
Mr.Richard Foster. - It is fixed in the award.
– The arrangement in regard to the price of meat is not an award of the Arbitration Court. Both the award and the agreement will expire this year, and if this amendment becomes law the Australian Workers Union will be compelled to rescind rule 112. Then its members will be in exactly the same position as they were when the union was forced by dishonest squatters to prevent its members from signing any agreement until they had arrived at the station and found that the conditions were satisfactory.
– This amendment has regard to the award.
– The Australian Workers Union is at present working under an award, and will continue to do so as long as Parliament allows it. But if the Government are determined to compel us to rescind rule 112 they will be taking one further step towards driving the Australian Workers Union from the Arbitration Court. The organization has been working under an award since 1907. No union has availed itself of the Court more than has the Australian Workers Union, and none has so faithfully and loyally abided by awards.
– It has not entirely abided by awards.
– Not by any means.
– I am saying that, generally, no organization has been more loyal to the Court. But this amendment, combined with the action of the Government in forcing Mr. Justice Higgins out of the Court, and substituting Mr. Justice Starke, will completely destroy the faith of the Australian Workers Union in Arbitration.
If the Parliament desires industrial peace it should not act at the behest of any one organization, such as the Graziers Association of New South Wales. This amendment was drafted by Mr. Knox, now the Federal Chief Justice, in 1917, and was incorporated in a letter sent to the present Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom), and many other members of this House, and the Senate.
– Ido not know that the amendment was drafted by him, but I think he stated that it was quite constitutional.
– I shall read to the Committee the following letter addressed by Mr. J. W. Allen, Secretary of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, to the then Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom), which’ sets out clearly what is desired by the graziers: - 17th April, 1919
Commonwealth Arbitration Act. - Proposed Amendment re. Signing Shearing Agree ments beforeroll-call.
In December last, the writer, by direction of the executive, laid before you in Melbourne particulars of a proposal for amendment of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act to enable graziers to make binding shearing engagements prior to the arrival of the men on the stations. The necessity for the amendment of the Act is brought about by the action of the Australian Workers Union in adopting a rule imposing a penalty of £2 upon each member who enters into a signed agreement prior to roll-call. It has already been pointed out that it has been customary in the industry for very many years to sign agreements some considerable time before commencement of work, as it is only by suoh means that binding contracts can be made and the employer on the one hand be enabled to definitely arrange his shearing operations, and the employee on the other hand to be definitely assured of engagement prior to travelling long distances for the purpose of securing employment. As an award of the Commonwealth Court is in operation providing more favorable terms for employees than have previously prevailed, it is inequitable that the union and employees should, by the use of the rule in question, be placed in the position of being able, while taking full advantage of the award, by force of the employer’s necessity, to also demand additional concessions on arrival at the station. The rule can only exist for this purpose, and has already had the effect in this State of enabling members to demand in some cases increased rates of payment, in others adult wages for boys; and in other cases various concessions. The fact that general trouble has not yet arisen is no argument for the maintenance of such an unjust rule, which is disadvantageous alike to employer and employee, and which is also diametrically opposed to the spirit of the Arbitration Act. All means other than an alteration of the Act have been exhausted endeavouring to secure the withdrawal of this rule. A conference with the Australian Workers Union has proved unavailing, the Arbitration Court has held that the rule is not at present contrary to law, and although many employees have ignored the rule they have been penalized by the unionand prevented from entering into signed agreements prior to roll-call.
In December last, when I placed the position before you and before many members of Parliament, each member agreed that the union should be prevented from maintaining the objectionable rule in question. You, however, stated that your Government could not so late in the session introduce a debatable clause in the amending Act, and in addition raised doubt as to whether the proposal could constitutionally be enacted. The question was submitted to eminent counsel, and the attached opinion by Mr. Adrian Knox,KC. (copy of which has been previously sent you), indicates that there are apparently constitutional difficulties in the way of adopting this association’s proposal
In view of the above, I have, by direction of my executive, again to ask that the proposal should be incorporated as an amendment of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act at the earliest possible date, in order to avoid industrial difficulty in the pastoral industry.
The suggested amendment is as follows: - “ The rules of an organization registered under this Act and the officials of such an organization shall not during the currency of an award in the industry concerned prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award at any time prior to the commencement of service.”
The opinion referred to is as follows: -
Opinion of Mr. Adrian Knox, K.C., re Suggested amendment of Commonwealth Arbitration Act - 23rd December, 1918.
In my opinion, it is within the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament under the Constitution to prescribe the conditions under which associations or bodies of persons may become and remain organizations for the purposes indicated in that Act are themselves within the powers of the Parliament. On this ground I am of opinion that section 55 (2) of the Act prescribing the conditions to be complied with by associations applying for registration as organizations is within the powers of the Parliament, and it appears to me that the High Court so decided in the Jumbunna case - 6 C.S.R.. at pp. 340 and 347 perCJ. and Barton, J. If this be so, I see no reason why Parliament should not have power to prescribe that no organization shall be registered or continue to be registered, the rules of which contain any provision hindering its members from entering into agreements in accordance with the terms of an existing award. Moreover, it seems to me to be involved in the decision above referred to, even if not expressly decided in that case, that section 9 of the Act is within the powers of the Parliament. If this be so, I can see no substantial reason why it should not be equally within the power of Parliament to prescribe that no member of an organization should be subjected to any penalty of any kind by reason of his having entered into an agreement with an employer before commencing work provided such agreement conformed to the terms of any existing award.
I think that Parliament might also prescribe that the rules of the organization should contain provision forbidding any official of the organization from hindering or preventing a member from entering into any agreement in conformity with any existing award. 2 and 3. The proposed amendment could not be effectively introduced by statutory rule, because as the Act stands at present the power to prescribe conditions by rules only extends to associations applying to be registered as organizations - Section 55 (2).
– Who received that advice?
– The Graziers Association, and Mr., now Chief Justice, Knox gave an opinion on which he drafted an amendment, which has again been brought forward and accepted by the Government. It is really an amendment from the Graziers Association, and is intended to apply solely to the Australian Workers Union. As president of that union, I could not recommend it to remain registered under the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration if such a provision was inserted in the Bill. There is no necessity for it, so long as the pastoralists of Australia are prepared to do the fair thing in regard to the supply of meat. If they will only do what they have done this year, there is not likely to be any trouble.
– Why should not the pastoralists be prepared to give a fair deal to the men?
– They have consistently refused to enter into any arrangement in regard to thesupply of meat, and the Court has always refused to fix the price. If the members of my organization are prevented from signing any agreement prior to roll-call, it will mean that they will be at the mercy of the squatters, and can be charged anything.
– Could not the price be embodied in the agreement ?
– Not unless the members of the Graziers Association agree. There would have to be an arrangement between the two organizations.
– That could easily be arrived at.
– Until this year, we have not been able to enter into an agreement with the pastoralists ; and I believe that if this amendment is accepted there is not likely to be any further agreement in regard to the price of meat.
Mir. Fleming. - I do not think the honorable member need worry about that.
– The honorable member must admit that I am in a better position to judge than he is.
– I had a good deal to do with it from the other side.
– If that is so, the honorable member will know that the pastoralists have, until quite recently, refused to enter into an agreement with the members of the Australian Workers Union.
– But an agreement has been entered into now.
– Yes, and that, as well as the award under which we are working, expires in Deecmber of this year.
– Does not an award determine the price of meat according to the district ?
– No. The Court has never fixed the price of meat.
– Does the President say he cannot do so?
– He has always refused on the ground that he has not the power.
– Does he say that?
– He has fixed a ration scale.
– No ; he has allowed a Board of Reference between employers and employees to be constituted, which applies only to station hands. That Board of Reference has fixed the price of meat at 3d. and 3½d. per lb.
– That is in pursuance of an award.
– Yes, and in relation to station hands only. While a Board of Reference could fix the price of meat for our members we have hot been able to come to an arrangement with the pastoralists and graziers. We are, therefore, compelled to prevent any member of our organization from signing on until he knows what rates of pay he is to receive for shearing and what he is to be charged for meat.
– You are merely protecting your own interests.
– But an agreement has been made.
– Yes, and it terminates in December next.
– Cannot it be extended?
– If the honorable member is speaking officially on behalf of the pastoralists and graziers of Australia, and assures me that they are prepared to enter into a similar agreement next year, there might be something doing; but he has no authority.
– I haveno official authority.
– My experience with the Graziers Association of Australia has convinced me that unless an organization occupies a very strong position it will never get anything.
– It depends on how that organization uses its strength.
– We have used it in the best interests of our members. Much has been said concerning industrial unrest and industrial peace, and, personally, I do not think this will tend to create industrial peace.
– It will, with 70 per cent. of the men.
– We have had a good illustration this year of the solidarity of the Australian Workers Union. In Western Australia and Tasmania we entered into an agreement with the pastoralists, and in Queensland we have a State award, which leaves only South. Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. We have entered into an arrangement with the pastoralists of South Australia and the West Darling district of New South Wales, and southwestern Riverina in Victoria, leaving only a small portion of New South Wales where they refuse to concede a fortyfourhour week. A strike occurred, and approximately forty sheds out of many thousands worked on the forty-eight hours system.
The Australian Workers Union has already proved its solidarity and strength, and if it is desired by this Government - I am not making a threat - to make our position such that we cannot remain a registered organization, well and good. We are prepared to get out, and discard the Arbitration. Court altogether, depending upon conferences or direct action to protect our interests. That is the position. With the much -desired resignation - on thepart of some- of Mr. Justice Higgins, and the appointment of another gentleman, who considers £3 a week sufficient for a single man, it would appear to be impossible for the Australian Workers Union to remain a registered organization.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who speaks with authority, has told us quite clearly that he, on behalf of his organization, cannot accept the amendment made by the Senate in this Bill. I listened to the honorable member with considerable interest, because it is most refreshing to hear a man who understands what he is talking about. It happens so rarely in this place that I was glad I was present when the honorable member was speaking. But while I listened with great interest to what he had to say, he failed to convince me that this amendment would injure or menace his organization. I am sorry the Senate inserted the amendment; but it did, and, of course, against the wishes of the Government.
The honorable member has told us in effect that unless we are prepared to do as he wishes, he will recommend (his organization to withdraw from the Arbitration Court, and to resort to those other methods - conferences and direct action - the first of which is only mentioned for the purpose of effectively setting out the other. The honorable member has said that that is not a threat. What is it, if it is not a threat? It is a threat, because he followed it up by giving an instance of the tremendous strength of the organization, which we all know perfectly well. If I thought for a moment that this amendment aimed a blow at unionism generally, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) said, or that it aimed a blow at the Australian Workers Union in particular, as the honorable member for Darling said, I would not vote for it under any circumstances.
– What other union would it affect?
– The Leader of the Opposition said that it would affect other unions, but I agree with the honorable member that it would not.
Turning for a moment from the main argument, I should like to point out to the honorable member for Darling that many unionists, practically every day of their lives, make agreements before they enter the sheds.
– Oh, no.
– But I know that they do. The honorable member’s knowledge of unions other than those of the coal miners may be extensive; but it certainly is not profound. He will in any case allow me to have my opinion, since my experience is at least as extensive as his own.
The honorable member for Darling said, “ The Senate’s amendment is a blow aimed at the Australian Workers Union, and such a blow, that, if it is insisted upon, I shall be compelled to recommend my union to withdraw from the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.” That is a very improper statement to make. It is the more improper because of the flimsiness of the pretext. The position has been outlined by the honorable member himself. He says that the Australian Workers Union members can now sign on before they go to a shed, and that this has been made possible because the pastoralists now have agreed to charge a reasonable price for meat. He could hardly expect the Committee and the country to accept that as a sufficient reason for the union’s tame acceptance of a principle which the honorable gentleman ha6 just declared menaces its very existence. I remember that the Australian Workers Union took up the same position that it does now when the price of meat never came into consideration. I speak of what occurred in a very large number of sheds in New South Wales which I visited in my capacity as a political and industrial organizer. I never heard the price of meat given out as a reason why the hands should not sign on before they went to a shed. I freely admit that if the pastoralists were using this system of making agreements, beforehand, as a means to get behind the award and defeat its real object, the position would be very serious, and that if I were a member of the Australian Workers Union I should not be inclined to countenance it for a day. I do not wish any one to be under a misapprehension as to what I should do in such circumstances. But the honorable member for Darling knows perfectly well that he has not set out his case completely. He does not tell the Committee that in very many cases it is true, as alleged in Mr. Allen’s letter, that there- are extremists in his organization who have gone to sheds and, by threats of a strike, have compelled the employer to concede terms and conditions outside the award. He has not said that extremists in his organization have torn the award into tatters, and have said to a station-owner, “ We will not start for you unless you are prepared to give us higher rates and better conditions than those prescribed in the award.” If we take the honorable member’s own statement of his case, and the facts as we know them - and the honorable member cannot deny that what 1 say is true - we find that in very many cases the men have used the power and strength of their organization - certainly not at the behest of that organization - as a shield behind which to tear up an award and resort to direct action. Every one knows that they have done so.
It is proposed by the Senate’s amendment that, in order ‘that the pastoralist may know where he is, and make his arrangements, as he must do, beforehand, he should be able to make binding contracts with the men, and so fill up his board. The honorable member for Darling says that that is so serious a blow at the Australian Workers Union that if it is persisted in that organization will have to withdraw from the Court. In almost the same breath he tells us that the members of his organization are at the present time working under such an arrangement, and explains that by saying, “ We now have the price of meat fixed.” It is absurd to expect those honorable members who have had some experience of unions, and particularly of the Australian Workers Union, to believe that that union would be satisfied, and is satisfied, to go on suspending the rule to which this proposal relates, provided its members get an assurance that the price of meat shall be as fixed. The honorable member knows perfectly well that in very many cases members of an organization - not once with the authority of the union concerned - have held up by the pistol of direct action the pastoralists in different parts of the country. That is not fair. The honorable member says that this amendment was moved in the Senate at the instigation of the Pastoralists and Graziers Associations.
– So it was.
– I do not know whether it was or not; but the Government opposed it when it was submitted in this House, and opposed it also in the Senate. The honorable member to-night has supplied the Committee with the best argument why we should not shipwreck this measure by rejecting the Senate’s amendment. We have to ask ourselves whether it is better to accept the amendment or to reject the Bill by sending it back to another place. Is there any reasonable probability that the Senate would retrace its steps?
– Let us try.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that it would not.
The honorable member for Darling said a great deal about the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and the effect of the Senate’s amendment. Despite the opinion given by the Chief Justice before he was raised to the Bench, I do not think the amendment is constitutional. In my opinion, it is not constitutional, for the reason that it does two things : In the first place, it limits the judicial power of. the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. No one denies that, apart from that, he could have made this condition had he chosen to do so. If this amendment is included it will apply to any award he may make. The Court will have no discretionary powers - this amendment is an impairment cf the judicial discretion. Under the Commonwealth Constitution, as I read it, Parliament has no power to do any such thing. It cannot make a law of any sort with regard to industrial matters, but is confined to dealing with certain classes of industrial disputes by means of arbitration and conciliation, and not by direct legislation. That brings me to the second reason why I think the amendment is unconstitutional, and that is i because it is, in effect, an industrial law. As my honorable and learned colleague (Mr. Groom) has said, there are opinions on both sides. The High Court alone can say what is the law.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), before the dinner adjournment, dealt with the invasion this amendment made upon the right of bodies and persons to make laws affecting their relations inter se. He said that was wrong. But what the amendment really seeks to do is to prevent the union from prohibiting its members, from giving full effect to the award by preventing the pastoral industry from being carried on effectively. The honorable member for Darling said we ought not to allow this Legislature to be used for the purposes of the Graziers and Pastoralists Associations. I admit that; but I do not know that, coming from such a quarter, “that is a reproach calculated to carry very great weight, because I remember very distinctly using this Legislature for the purposes of the Australian Workers Union. That was then considered to be not only permissible, but both moral and proper. I do not think it was proper. I had, however, to do it.
– But the amendment to which the Prime Minister refers applied to all organizations. It benefited the whole of them, whereas this will affect only one organization.
– I admit that in practice this amendment will be limited to one organization, but that is really because that one organization is so vast as practically to control all industries connected with the primary producers. The honorable member may correct me if I am wrong, but I think it controls all primary industries with the exception of rnining. The honorable member has failed, I think, to convince the Committee that his organization will suffer any wrong, and failed because he admits that, at this very moment, members of that organization are working under the very conditions for which the amendment provides. He says that the present agreement will lapse at the end of the year, and that he does riot think it will be renewed, or that another agreement will be made. I do not accept that statement. I think the honorable member will find, as time goes on, that the partoralists will be quite ready to make another agreement. In any case, the honorable member has now a remedy, whereas formerly he had none, 1 and that remedy is contained in this very Bill. Under this amending law the Australian Workers Union can ask for the variation of an award. I do not think that it is quite- fair to say that it is Mr. Justice Higgins’ view that he cannot impose such conditions in an award as will insure the men. getting their stores at a reasonable rate. I should not like to say that he can do it; but I am inclined to think that ‘ if I were in his place I would do it. I think he could very, easily say that he had the power to do it, because the circumstances under which the men work are such that the purpose of an award will be defeated entirely if the pastoralists can extort what price they please for the things which the men must have to eat, and without which they cannot carry on their work.
It amounts, then, to this: The honorable gentleman says that the amendment is aimed at the Australian Workers Union, ‘ that it is inserted in this Bill at the instigation of the Pastoralists Union, that its effect will be to enable the pastoralists to increase the price of stores, and particularly of meat, to the shearers, and so defeat the award. He says that if it is persisted in the Australian Workers Union will withdraw from the Arbitration Court. On my side, I say that none of these statements” carry much weight, excepting the threat which the honorable member made that, unless we did what he wanted us to do, he would not recommend the organization to continue its registration.
– The right honorable gentleman is misrepresenting me. What I said was that I personally could not recommend to the members of the organization that they should work under such a condition.
– The honorable gentleman said that he could not recommend them to work under such a conditionEither that is a threat without anything behind it, and that is to say that the honorable gentleman knows very well that the council of the organization will not . deregister or remove the organization from the Arbitration Court, and so he has fired ‘ a blank cartridge ; or else it is loaded. In either case, I think it is most improper.
Let me put this to the honorable gentleman: I hardly pick up a newspaper any day now in which I do not see a reference to complaints made by the President of the Arbitration Court that sufficient assistance is not given, or that certain amendments are not made in the law. A little while ago a vote of censure on the Government was moved in this House because we had not introduced industrial legislation. Since then we have introduced three major industrial measures - the Industrial Peace Bill, the Bill now under consideration, and the Arbitration (Public Service) Bill.
These amply fulfil the pledges we made to the electors. The need for this Bill is urgent and imperative. I am not going to vote against this amendment and so risk this Bill, but I say to every member of the Committee that the Government will accept whatever is done. Every honorable member on this side may vote as he pleases. For my part ‘I stand where I did when the measure was introduced. I am sorry that the amendment has been made.
I cannot accept the statement of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that the amendment is intended to or will injure the Australian Workers Union, because I know the Australian Workers Union too well. I hear these statements every day. I heard the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) declare that if a certain amendment was made in the Industrial Peace Bill the effect would be disastrous, but so far as I know nothing has happened.
– What amendment was that?
– I forget what the particular amendment was, but I know that the honorable member predicted disaster if it was accented. The fact of the matter is that unionism in this country has reached a stage when it is beyond the power of any one to do it any harm. There is only one quarter from which danger can come to unionism, and that is from within. It cannot be hurt from without. Honorable members know that very well. A great union like the Australian Workers Union should welcome this amendment, because it should serve to preserve something like discipline. It would enable the union to deal with bauds of Industrial Workers of the World who get into it, and, under cover of its broad wing, strive to bring it into disrepute. Discipline is wanted in the Australian Workers Union, and for that reason this amendment should not be regarded as a bad thing, although I can quite understand that the honorable member for Darling feels it to be his duty to speak against it. The attitude of the Government is that we regret that the amendment has been made. But we have already disagreed with one of the Senate’s amendments, and we feel that on the whole the interests of industrial peace will be best served by accepting this” amendment, and so allowing the Bill to become law.
One word more and I have done. The honorable member for Darling has said what the pastoralists will do next year, in the way of raising the price of meat to the shearers. All I have to say on that point is that if the Lord spares us we shall be here next year, and I shall certainly not sit down quietly while any body of men seek to get behind the law and defeat the object of an award of the Arbitration Court. If a remedy comes from no other quarter, the -Government will supply it.
.- I have been surprised at the speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in support of an amendment which he has condemned from the beginning of his remarks. A similar amendment was defeated in this Chamber, and, subsequently, was carried in another place. The right honorable gentleman gives that as one reason why the Government should accept it. Has it come to this now, that another place in which there is only one member, opposed to the Government is going to be permitted to dictate the legislation of this country, and the Government are prepared to accept that position ? On the face of it, if the right honorable gentleman is a strong man, and it is claimed that he is, he certainly should not accept an amendment of this kind when he does not really believe in it. He has admitted that he has no time for it, and that in his opinion it should never have been included in this Bill, but he goes on to say that rather than risk a crisis with the other Chamber he is prepared to accept the amendment.
– He said “ rather than risk the loss of the Bill.”
– He said both. Thirty-five out of thirty-six of the members in another place are followers of the Prime Minister, and are they to demand the right to dictate what the legislation of Parliament shall be?
– Are they to be dummies?
– No, but are we to understand that they are to rule the Government of this country? The majority of Ministers are members. of the House of Representatives, and is it to be said that, because a couple of Ministers in another place are unable to control the followers of the Government there, if they insert an obnoxious amendment in a Bill it must be accepted ? That is the position which the Prime Minister has placed before us this evening. The division which took place on this amendment in another place goes to show that it had not the support of even the majority of members of that Chamber. This amendment was carried by a vote of nine “ Ayes “ to seven “ Noes.”
– What was the number of pairs?
– There were no pairs recorded. The position, then,, is that nine members in a House of thirty-six have inserted in this Bill a clause, which was rejected in this Chamber, and because they have done so the Government is prepared now to accept it notwithstanding the fact that it is admitted that its insertion will not be in the best interests of the measure. That seems to me to be a lamentable position in which to place this House, and I am surprised that the Prime Minister should accept it in the manner he has done.
The right honorable gentleman says that in his opinion the amendment is unconstitutional. Surely that is another reason why it should be rejected. The Government. I hope, do not propose to insert provisions in a Bill which are believed to be unconstitutional. Are we not here for the purpose of passing measures in accordance with the Constitution ?
– I have expressed only my opinion on that point.
-The right honorable gentleman’s opinion, as head of the Government, should go a long way. If I were head of the Government, and held the- opinion that a certain provision was unconstitutional,.! should not permit it to be included in a Government measure. Here we have the spectacle of the head of the Government accepting a provision, which was rejected in this Chamber on a previous occasion, and at the same time expressing the opinion that it is unconstitutional. Where are we drifting to if we must accept an amendment of this kind because it has been made in another place? I arn inclined to think, with the honorable member for Darling, that this amendment has been supplied by a body vitally interested in its passage, and that is the Pastoralists Union
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) did not say what was attributed to him by the Prime Minister. He did not say that he would not recommend his union to still continue its registration in the Arbitration Court. What he said was that the present agreement will expire in December of this year, and that with this provision in the law he cannot, as head of the organization, recommend the Australian Workers Union to continue its registration. Why should he say that? Is it not because to do so would be to put him as head of the executive of the organization in the position of asking its members to continue registration after the inclusion in the law of a provision which they have been fighting against for a considerable time, and have only recently succeeded in defeating ? He pointed out that rule 112 of the rulebook of the union was brought into operation quite recently.
– It is not in operation. That is the whole point. It has been suspended.
– It was in operation for only two years, and it is now suspended.
– That does not affect what I desire to say. If we make this amendment the law, the union can not have such a rule in its rule-book at all.
– After two years’ trial they suspended it.
– They did so only because they have a satisfactory agreement under which they are working. If they secure a mutual agreement with their employers, which covers what they desire, the;/ need not bother about a rule on the subject. But if for any reason the agreement were broken, they would fall back upon their rule, and endeavour to come to some arrangement whereby they could get meat at a fixed price. There could be no exception taken to such procedure, lt is admitted that the amendment applies to only one organization. For years the members of the Australian Workers Union have been fighting to secure a square deal in the matter of meat supplies, but they have been unable to get satisfaction. They found that when individual members had the right to sign independent agreements, they were liable to be charged any price for , meat and goods which the employers cared to demand. As for the Prime Minister’s endeavour to disparage my experience of trade unionism, I may tell him that I am a foundation member of one of the biggest unions in Western Australia, and that I hold a certificate attesting that fact. I have been connected with as many unions, probably, as the right honorable gentleman himself ; and I say, definitely, that no union could accept a provision of this character.
– What is wrong with it ?
– The essence of trade unionism is that there must be a recognised head, and that there must be accepted rules.
– And loyalty to an award.
– It would be disastrous to a union if it were to permit individual members to form separate and private agreements.
– The amendment does not involve the matter of a separate agreement; we are not asking for that.
– That’ is what it does involve.
– Nothing of the kind.
– With respect to meat supplies, the Judge before whom the matter came up refused to make any provision in his award. In the circumstances, there was nothing to prevent individuals from entering into private agreements ; but, if the practice were permitted, how would it be possible to carry on an organization? Where would be the discipline? There must be organization. Every organization must have a head. There must be discipline; there must be unanimity in respect of the practical working of an organization. It is of no use for one body or individual to be working independently of another batch of members. All must pull together, or there will be disaster. Those are hard facts which can be confirmed by reference to any organization official. Honorable members may inquire of any industrial body, and they will learn that individual members cannot be permitted to enter into separate agreements.
– But they did so, for thirty years.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
-Suppose that I were to concede that they did so. It would be obvious that now, after all those years, they had come to a conclusion that the practice was a mistake, and that the rules must be altered.
– That is just the view-point of the wild element.
– I repeat that in every organization there must be discipline. There must be rules, and members must be guided by those rules; and any member who acts independently, and in contradiction to the rules, is likely to bring his organization to disaster.
– But the honorable member must know that, in many cases, individual unionists do act independently.
– The Prime Minister said so, but he did not venture to mention the specific union which he may have had in mind. No organization could exist for twelve months in such circumstances.
– That is silly stuff.
– It is the truth, and the honorable member may confirm it by inquiring of any unionist. It is a fact that applies to every industrial organization, and not merely to the shearers.
– The amendment will apply only to the Australian Workers Union.
– It should not be made applicable to any union; but will honorable members argue that, if the amendment becomes law, all registered unions will not come under its scope?
– Of course, that will be the case.
– But the. only organization which the amendment is hitting at is the Australian Workers Union. My union will have nothing to do. with the Arbitration Act for the very reason that its recognition leads to situations of the kind which is now under discussion. As for the unions which have accepted the Industrial Peace Act - and I am very glad that they have done so - I point out that they do not come under this measure at all. Miners and other big bodies of unionists, are not concerned. This amendment hits at organizations which are registered before the Court.
No union in Australia has been more loyal than the Australian Workers Union to the spirit of the Arbitration Act.
– I do not know so much about that in the light of experience this year. The union is going before the Queensland Court.
– It is still a matter of arbitration.
– The Australian Workers Union came under the Arbitration Act practically from its proclamation; and, from that day to this, it has been loyal to the awards of the Court. There has been no general upheaval in the ranks of that body in so far as it has affected a big Australian industry.
– There have been many demands made by shearers, who have come before the Board without being signed on, and have asked for award rates.
– The honorable member cannot prove that.
– The fact remains that the Australian Workers Union has been loyal to arbitration, and I would point out to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) that its members are compelled to work under the awards of the Court.
– They have not done so.
– In many sheds the men have made alterations of their own.
– The honorable member knows very well that that does not apply generally to the organization, and that, as such, it has been loyal to arbitration. The union desires to remain loyal, and it is well for this country, and for the individual interests of pastoralists, who are so anxious over the fate of this amendment, that the Australian Workers Union has remained loyal. Throughout the war its members continued to work, and made the best of their situation, although the cost of living was ever rising.
– Their pay has been rising all the time.
– So it should do. Very often, however, before a rise in wages could be secured the cost of living had gone up out of all proportion to wages. Supposing that the men had taken the bit in their teeth, and had said, “ The cost of living has gone up another 20 or 30 per cent. We cannot secure rises in conformity with the increased cost. We will refuse to work until we get a fair thing.” They did not take that stand, however, but went about matters in the proper way and secured an agreement. That is entirely to their credit. Because a few individual members of the Committee are pressing for the amendment, why should it be accepted? The effect of its inclusion will be that pastoralists will be free to charge whatever they please for meat and goods. Surely we should protect their employees from such a state of affairs.
– The agreement does that.
– As I have already stressed, if individual members are to be free to make their own terms, organization will break down. Either that will occur, or a majority of the members of a union will say, “ It is time for us to take a determined stand against this kind of thing. We cannot continue upon unconstitutional lines. We shall not permit the minority to enter into separate agreements and ignore the Act and its awards.” Procedure such as that is similar to the insidious attacks of white ants in gradually eating away the foundations of a building.
– The white ants are operating right enough.
– They are, and in this very Chamber, it would appear, in view of the fact that the Government have intimated plainly enough that they do not approve of the amendment.
What are the facts ? The offending clause was rejected by this Committee; yet the Government have permitted nine of the thirty-six members of the Senate - all of them supposed to be supporters of the Government - to dictate policy. The white ants are eating into the ranks of the Government as well as working elsewhere. It appears to me that the Senate isgoing to control this Parliament and country. It will do so, if the Government are supine, and if we are to be forced to accept its dictation. However, I do not think the Prime Minister accepted the will of the Senate in this matter merely because it was such, or that he was afraid of losing the Bill. I believe the Prime Minister has sufficient power to whip up. the Senate and make it reverse its decision to-morrow, if he desired to do so. Behind the amendment, however, there are certain individual members of this Chamberwho are pushing the Government. There is too much of this kind of thing going on to-day. It is not for the good of the country that the Government have not a larger straight-out majority in this Chamber. There are influences at work all the time. Certain individuals are giving conditional support to the Government. They want certain things, and they must be placated. It is very evident that there is an influence at work here to’ enforce on the Government the acceptance of the amendment. I am confident that the Prime Minister himself is strongly opposed to the underlying proposition. If his remarks on the subject meant anything at all, it is clear that he has no time for any amendment of this nature. But, rather than precipitate a crisis, or run the risk of losing the Bill, he has preferred to be dictated to by nine members of another place. As a matter of fact, I do not really believe that is the case. AsI have already said, the acceptance of the amendment is an evidence of the placation of certain members of this Chamber, who are the spokesmen for the pastoralists.
.- As the member who originally introduced this amendment to the Chamber, I emphatically contradict the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) that it was designed for the purpose of breaking up trade unionism. I do not believe the honorable member himself thinks so.
– I do. There is no better way by which you can smash trade unionism.
– I do not think even the honorable member believes that. I assure him and the Committee generally that the employers prefer to deal with organized rather than with disorganized labour. We have followed the trend of trade unionism here and all over the world, and realize its advantages as well as its disadvantages. I should be sorry to see anything done that would in any way help to destroy trade union organizations in this country, but harm very often results from incomplete legislation. I fail to understand where the objection to so reasonable an amendment comes in. No one has shown where any evil could result from it. Look at all the legislation that has been passed year after year for the last twenty years with a view to building up trade union organizations. We quite understand their advantages, and, ifI were working for a daily wage, I would be one of the first to join a union, in order that we might fight as an organized body. But there are some things done by many of these organizations to which I would very strenuously object. I would not put into the hands of a few people absolute power to dominate me during the whole of my work. Does the Leader of the Opposition concur with the message from Sydney on Saturday night calling a stop-work meeting of the seamen ? That is the sort of thing we are going to have here. They talk about industrial legislation and arbitration courts, and industrial peace. Are these the sort of proceedings that we should have ?
– Will this amendment prevent stop-work meetings of the seamen ?
– Should any organization have the power to do these things when an Arbitration Court is in existence, and the men are working under an arbitration award?
Although this amendment will apply to all organizations registered with the Court, it will apply specially to the Australian Workers Union, and the effect, so far as I am concerned, will be mostly with the shearers and the cane-cutters, but principally with the shearers. Shearing operations extend over the whole of Australia. They start at the end of March in the north of Western Australia, and some men go right through and finish at the end of November or early in December in the south. Is it a good thing to allow them to enter into arrangements with a contractor, so that the whole of their work may be in accordance with an agreement registered as a portion of the award in the Arbitration Court?
– It allows them to get what they call a “ run.” The good men are all in favour of it.
– I should not have tried to press this amendment if I had had any doubts as to its constitutionality. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has read the opinion given by Mr. Adrian Knox, now Chief Justice, who had intimate relationships with the Arbitration Court and constitutional law, and who strongly supports my contention. I have here the following opinions from
Sir E. F. Mitchell, K.C., as to the validity of the proposed new clause: -
I have read clause 58b which was inserted as an amendment by the Senate into the Bill now before Parliament to amend the Federal Arbitration Act.
In my opinion it is within the constitutional powers of the Federal Parliament to enact such a clause, and I am quite clear that it would be upheld as valid by the High Court if passed and its validity challenged.
In the Jumbunna case, 6 C.L.B.., p. 309, it was held by all the” then live Judges of the High Court that the constitution empowered the Federal Parliament to enact the sections of the Arbitration Act which regulate the registration of organizations, and in my opinion it was clearly competent for the Parliament to prescribe the conditions for valid registration, including what the rules of the organization should or should not contain with respect to anything connected with the awards or with the industry to which the awards related.
Looking at the real substance of clause 5Sb, which must be done when determining its constitutional validity, it does two things: (1) prescribes there shall bo nothing in the rules of an organization registered under the Act to prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements during the currency of an award in accordance with its terms before the commencement of service; (2) prohibits the officials of any registered organization from similarly preventing or impeding any such members from entering into any such agreements before the commencement of service. 1 think that both .(1) and (2) are valid and will be upheld; (2) stands or falls on the same principles as would determine the validity of section ti of the Arbitration Act, which I have no doubt is valid and which was assumed to be valid by all the Judges of the High Court in Metropolitan Goal Company of Sydney Limited and others v. The Australian Goal ami Shale Employees Federation, 24 C.L.B., 85; and (1) stands on a still stronger basis, both because it is something that would have been enacted directly by section 6 and also because it was competent for Parliament to prescribe what the rules of organizations should or should not contain on such a subject matter.
I have another from Mr. Campbell, K.C., who also states that, in his opinion, it is quite competent for the Federal Parliament to enact such a clause. Sir Edward Mitchell states very clearly exactly what the clause does. So long as the award itself is being carried out, where can any valid objection be raised by any of the members of the union 3 It will not in any sense affect shearing this season. All the agreements have been fixed up for the present year. The Australian Workers Union have agreed, in their contracts with the Pastoralists Association, to put the principle of the clause into operation, although some little time ago they passed a rule making any member of the Australian Workers Union liable to a fine of £2 for entering into any such agreement.
– The honorable member is quite wrong in saying that we have agreed to this clause.
– What I meant to convey was that the Australian Workers Union suspended their rule on the subject for the present season, and permitted their members to sign on. In view of the enormous area over which shearing is conducted, many men must lose heavily who go to a shed and find that there is no board open for them there. Is it fair to those who specially follow this work to insist upon the method of balloting to- decide which men are to be employed ? ls it fair to those who give satisfaction time after time to those who employ them ? Take the case of men who carry out special contracts with the pastoralists to shear their flocks. I know several pastoralists who always engage a certain number of shearers, and these men travel over enormous distances to carry out the engagements which they have entered into months and months ahead. This practice must be to the advantage of the worker - I am talking of the better class men amongst the shearers, who follow this work year after year. If they can enter into definite engagements with contractors, surely it is far better for the industry, the organization, the pastoralists, and themselves ? I cannot see how it can be injurious, either to the organization or to the men. It must tend to get rid of a great deal of the difficulty which must arise if more men offer at a shed than are wanted, and some have to go away empty-handed. It must mean serious loss to them.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) says the amendment is an endeavour to coerce the organization, but, on the other hand, what right has the organization to make rules that would coerce the individual, so long as he, as a member of that organization, is prepared to observe the award of the Court and stick to his agreement?
– He voluntarily joins the organization.
– He naturally assumes that Parliament will see that no organization becomes tyrannical in the incidence of its rules. There can be as much tyranny in that way as in any other.
– The organization decides its own rules; no individual decides them.
– But, if an organization began to frame rules merely to protect those who are in it and nothing further, how long would Parliament protect it?
– Other organizations than the Australian Workers Union, which have a rule forbidding their members to enter into agreements, will be. compelled to strike it out if they want to go to the Arbitration Court.
– They should not make such rules, and Parliament must protect the individual member as well as the organization.
– That rule has been in operation for thirty years in the case of organizations other than the Australian Workers Union. Both the rule and the practice is not to allow their members to enter into agreements.
– I have here the shearers’ agreement for this year, entered into between the Pastoralists Association and the Australian Workers Union.
– That is the first agreement which mentions the price of meat.
– I congratulate the honorable member on entering into an agreement of thissort. If representatives on each side who understand the industry get together at a round table conference, and come to an agreement, which goes to the Court and is registered as an agreement under the Arbitration Act, we shall have far better, more binding, and more workable awards than will be made by any Judge of the Court. If they cannot agree on all the points, they can agree on the majority of them, and then get the Judge to give a determination on those in dispute.
– We always do that.
– They did it in the Kalgoorlie district for many years, and there- was always a splendid feeling between the employers and the employees, but as soon as they began fighting in the Arbitration Court that good feeling disappeared, and the greatest friction began to prevail. I am glad the honorable member believes in the principle of arriving at agreements in this way. It is a much fairer and better method, for the one great reason that the men who frame such agreements know the industry and all the difficulties on both sides. Any agreement entered into by them must be much more workable than an arrangement come to in any other way . The agreement contains quite a number of clauses dealing with the conditions that must be observed. I cannot understand how any pastoralist who endeavours to impose unfair or unjust conditions on any body of men, particularly such an organization as the Australian Workers Union, ever gets his sheep shorn. If a pastoralist played “ the dirty game “ with an organization of which I was a member, I would soon send out a “ roundrobin “ that would cause him difficulty in the future.
– You would be a “tyrannical unionist”?
– I would be quite sure of my ground before I did anything of the sort. The agreement makes special provision with regard to the stores to be supplied, and so forth. These stores need not be bought from the pastoralist unless the men chose; but, if he does supply them, he has to supply them at cost price, plus 10 per cent. In the case of meat, the charge must not exceed the wholesale carcass price in the nearest township.
– The honorable member evidently has not the right agreement. What he is reading is not the agreement we are now working under.
– This was given to me by the secretary of the Pastoralists Association only a few days ago.
– Unless it sets out certain specified prices for meat in each State, it is not the present agreement.
– Am I to under stand that there is a later agreement which specifically states the prices to be charged for the meat supplied?
– Under the circumstances, however, I hope that the House will agree to the amendment.
There is not the slightest desire to destroy unionism. There are many phases of the Arbitration Act with which I disagree. I should like to see an Act which placed the same obligations on the employees as on the employer, and I have emphasized my objections time after time. I have always believed in arbitration, subject to certainconditions ; but far and away above all other considerations, is a system of fixing up industrial agreements by men who are associated with the particular industry, and who thoroughly understand it. I should be very sorry indeed to do anything that would in any way injure the industrial organizations of the country, because I realize what they have done for the workers in the past. I also believe that, if these matters were dealt with by conscientious men, who were always prepared to see the difficulties on the other side as well as on their own, the conditions of the workers’ would be improved, and it would tend to pave the way to better industrial conditions. If representatives go to extremes, . they only injure those they represent, but with men who aim at fairness, justice, and equity for all, trade unionism must be for the benefit of the workers. I am satisfied that I speak for the great majority of honorable members on this side, who are prepared to do all they can to place these organizations on a fair and sound” footing.
.- The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who speaks with authority as the direct representative of the Australian “Workers Union in this House, has asserted that there is not a man here who directly represents ‘ the pastoralists. That is quite true, but we need not waste tears over the pastoralists, ibecause their lack of representation is their own fault.. It is not merely a matter of protecting the pastoralist; this proposal, even if, as the honorable member for Darling says, it affects only -one union - although the Leader of the Opposition : (Mr. Tudor) says, it affects all unions- - -
– I am sure it does; there are number’s of- unions’ registered to-day which will have to be de-registered . if. “this amendment is adopted.
– The honorable . member for Darling, who is presidentof -the
Australian Workers Union, says that the amendment affects his union only;: but, even so, it still affects the greatest wealthproducing interest in Australia. The amendment is directed to conserve the interests of all the steady men in that organization. I have ‘ been interested in this particular phase of production ever since I was old enough to walk, and I can assure honorable members that the steady and reliable men, the best shearers, have always desired signed agreements in order that they may have security. As the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) says, these men go to shed after shed, and they desire to be assured of an agreement which binds the pastoralists exactly as it binds themselves. All the talk of the honorable member for Darling about the price of meat seems to me to be beside the mark. We know that for many years there has been difficulty with some graziers about the price of meat, but for the first time in the history of the industry, as the honorable member himself admits, we have an agreement. There is no reason to suppose that the graziers, having found the benefit of an agreement, are . going to burst up the . whole industry over -the price of meat. After all, the price of meat to the shearers means very little.
-It is a very small - percentage.
– It is an. infinitesimal percentage of the earnings or’ losses for the year.I speak with some authority, “arid I assure honorable members that the meat supplied to the shearers’ very often means a loss to the pastoralists, because . it is supplied under cost price.It will. be seen that there are two ; sides,to this question.
Wehave been told by the honorable member -for Darling that -this amendment was drafted by the Graziers Union.
– Bythe Graziers Council.
– Does that -necessarily mean.thatit is a wrong agreement!? . Have the, graziers , not as much . right -to-, -protect themselves as has. the. Australian Workers Union?. It is only by mee;ting>on . common ground that we. shall arrive ‘atacsatisfac!tory: solution of all the troubles? in’?.’ the primary I producing industries.This amendment is really to prevent restless spirits, who are to be found in every union, as everywhere else, holding up a shed simply because there happens to be no agreement. The average shearer does not attempt to do any such thing. He is as decent a man as any other member of the community, but, naturally, in a great nomadic body of men, we find those who are prepared to take advantage of any loophole. If, as I have seen myself, there is no agreement, they will hold up the whole business, and, possibly, put the grazier to endless expense. A grazier will sometimes have his sheep ready mustered, and all his arrangements made at considerable cost, only to find them upset.
– The honorable member is extremely ridiculous when he speaks of one man putting probably twenty men out of work.
– Surely the honorable member knows that it can be done, and has seen it done.
– Do you say that the twenty men are sheep?
Mr.Riley. - Or lambs ?
– . Perhaps they are sometimes lambs. If a contract is entered into, it will be equally binding on both sides, and neither side will enter blindly.
It has been said by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that if members of the unions are allowed to make an agreement trouble will result, because it is impossible for any award or agreement to cover all requirements. Certainly that is impossible, but the main thing is to remove the chief cause of the trouble, and allow those concerned to come to a mutual agreement on the minor matters. No man . will claim that all the little exigencies can be met by any agreement, but it is a matter of working in harmony, and I believe that if this clause is inserted in the Bill there will be a much better spirit in the industry than at present. Eighteen years ago, in the State Parliament of New South Wales, I supported the Shearers’ Accommodation Act, because there were-, odd pastoralists who made conditions extremely difficult for the shearers. So; such men’ ‘would make it difficult to-day but for the Shearers Union. The Australian Workers Union is powerful enough to protect itself in every way, and none of us has any desire to destroy it, but desire a common meeting ground such as an agreement of this kind would give. The amendment gives security to a great body of honest men, who, year by year, follow the sheds in order to make sufficient to maintain their families, and, possibly, build up homes for themselves in the future. The amendment would have a twofold effect; it would secure stability, to a certain degree, in the greatest wealth-producing industry in Australia, and protect the better section of the men who carry it on.
.- It is refreshing to hear honorable members on the Government side, who never raised their voice when the Bill was previously before us, now finding a hundred and one reasons why we should concur with the amendment of the Senate. The Government and their supporters rejected a similar amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) on a former occasion, but now we are referred to a long list of legal opinions in its support.
– I will tell you how that was done.
– I shall be pleased to listen to the honorable member, who is armed with the legal opinions of the best King’s counsels in Australia. I wonder who went to the trouble to get these opinions for the honorable member. Surely it was the pastoralists?
– Why not? Are they not a party to the agreement?
– But what tickles me is that all this is done in the interests of the “ poor shearer.”
– I shall also explain that to you.
– These legal luminaries point out that the proposal is not unconstitutional. The best legal talent in the Attorney-General’s Department affirms that it is, as does also the Prime Minister himself. The other branch of the Legislature, in the interests of the shearers themselves, professes a desire that its amendment should be adopted. But what is the position? Out of thirty-six members of the Senate only nine voted in favour of the proposal, whilst seven voted against it. Yet the Government now say that we ought to accept it rather than precipitate a crisis with the other branch of the Parliament. What is all the trouble about? Surely the shearers themselves know what they want. Their organization desires that a certain measure of protection shall be extended to it. If we concede the right of any individual member of it to sign an agreement with his employer, wo shall entirely cut away the awards which have been gained by that organization. If once this principle be adopted, every award made by the Arbitration Court will be practically nullified. It will mean starting the “ white ant “ in unionistic circles. It will constitute a death-blow to trade unionism. To allow individual members of an organization to sign agreements with employers would be an intolerable position. I never heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) so weak as he was when discussing this question to-night. He was palpably arguing against his own convictions. He said that this was not a Government measure but that he would vote for the acceptance of the amendment in order to avoid a crisis, and that Ministerial supporters would be free to vote as they chose. What reasons’ have been advanced for the acceptance of the amendment? I was present in the Senate when the proposal was under consideration there, and it was debated almost entirely by pastoralist representatives. If this Committee rejects it, and the Government intimate to the Senate that, in their opinion, it is an unconstitutional proposal, I have no doubt that it will be dropped. Upon the other hand, if it be adopted here, it will aim a blow at unionism, and will certainly not tend to industrial harmony in the future. The Australian Workers Union has loyally supported the principle of arbitration, even when it has been opposed by other organizations. Consequently, it is up to us to support it now.
The Australian Workers Union objects to its rights being filched from it by individual members of the organization being permitted to enter into agreements with their employers. Let us stand by the union which has stood by arbitration.
– There has practically been no strike amongst the shearers since 1907.
– This great organization has directed all its energies to the prevention of strikes. Now it is asking the Government to help it by refusing to allow its members to enter into private agreements with pastoralists. In the interests of industrial peace, and on account of the record of the Australian Workers Union, I trust that the amendment will be rejected.
– The people of South Australia, who- are interested in this matter, feel very strongly upon it. Personally I desire to secure some measure of stability for the pastoral industry, in the interests of the employees as well as of the graziers. It is idle for honorable members opposite to suggest that for years there have been no strikes in the shearing industry. There have been strikes every year, somewhere. South Australia, however, has been exceptionally free from them. The Pastoralists Association, and graziers generally, desire that the right of individual members of the Australian Workers Union to enter into agreements with them shall be continued, because it has been the custom for these men to sign on in the various towns where labour has been picked up, for more than thirty years. Upon many occasions, the unions have forbidden them to sign agreements that they would fulfil the terms of existing awards. What does that mean to the station-owners, and particularly to the old shearers, who have a large circuit, and who have been engaged in shearing’ for eight or nine months out of every year? It means that these men will have the privilege of completing their big rounds with as little interruption as possible. If they are forbidden to sign agreements they will have to risk being involved in a cessation of work for a considerable period, because of unreasonable demands being made by a few individuals upon their arrival at a station. I am not here to justify the action of unreasonable pastoralists. If they do not choose to play the game they deserve to be penalized. But generally speaking the Senate’s amendment, if adopted, will be productive of industrial harmony, because it is in the interests of both parties. Some honorable members opposite have hinted that certain things will happen if all their demands are not granted. Surely it is just about time that the industries of this country had a look in. No reasonable man can say that generous attention has not been given by this Parliament, and by the State Parliaments to industrial matters for years past. I hope that we shall not allow these pin pricks, which are administered by men who are lepers in this particular industry, to disturb industrial harmony. Let us have a little bit of peace and some stability for the industry.
For the information of my Scotch friend, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), I desire to explain what occurred in this Chamber when the first division upon this question was taken. The Minister in charge of the Bill stated that he was not certain that the proposed amendment was constitutional, and added that Sir Robert Garran had expressed a doubt upon - the matter.
– And I read his opinion.
– I did not take much notice of that - because it was backed only by a sort of half confidence - when I learned what was the opinion of Mr. Adrian Knox. The opinion expressed by the latter has since been supported by the opinions of two other eminent K.C.’s. Surely the great woollen industry of this country - the biggest industry that we have - is entitled to some consideration. If the men who represent that industry choose to obtain the opinions of the highest legal talent in the land upon this question, they have a perfect right to do so. I am1 quite certain that the stability of the industry will be promoted by the adoption of the amendment.
– And if fair weather be experienced, the ;pastoralists will throw in the meat for the shearers.
– As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) not much difficulty will be experienced in dealing with that question. I know that there are some pastoralists who have no brains, otherwise they would not make trouble on account of an extra 2d. or 3d. per lb. in the price of meat supplied to the shearers. It would pay them better to have the latter start operations in a contented and happy frame of mind. In that case the increased efficiency, which they would obtain, would more than offset a small loss in the price of the meat supplied to their employees.
.- An astounding piece of knowledge I have gained to-night is that it is not this Chamber that has the say in matters of importance concerning the administration of the affairs of this country, but that another Chamber governs this House. As a matter of fact, two members of another place govern us in regard to the proposal now under consideration, because the new clause which we are asked to accept was carried in the Senate by a majority of two. There were nine senators in favour of it and seven opposed to it, whereas when the provision was moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in this Chamber only elevenhonorable members voted for it while thirty-seven voted against it. I wonder how many of those thirty-seven have changed their opinions. We know that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has done so, because he has just informed us that he voted against it previously because Sir Robert Garran had declared that the proposed clause was unconstitutional, which opinion the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has confirmed to-night. -If the provision is unconstitutional, why should we go through the farce of inserting it in the Act and making this Parliament the laughing-stock of the people when ultimately the section in question comes to be declared by the High Court unconstitutional? Immediately opposition was raised to the Senate’s amendment to-day, and mention was made of the Australian Workers Union and certain agreements, the honorable member for Dampier and the honorable member for Wakefield, who have fought so strenuously for the acceptance of the Senate’s proposal, interjected that members of the Australian Workers Union are already working under agreements with the pastoralists in regard to the price of meat. But the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has pointed out that the members of the
Australian Workers Union could not get the pastoralists ;to make these agreements until this year, and that they had been obliged to insert’ a rule in their constitutions in order to make provision for them. And now it: would seem, when’ the first year covered by these agreements is about to expire, that the pastoralists are making use’ of the fact that they have been entered into as a lever for having this provision inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. At any rate, it would appear that they have some motive behind their action in consenting to make these agreements for the past twelve months. Perhaps they were looking a few moves ahead, for it is certain that they have mobilized their forces and laid their plans very carefully in order to get this provision into the Act, backed up by their friends, not only in another place, but also in this Chamber. I have had some experience with some of the big squatters of New South Wales, and, in my opinion, once this clause is agreed to the Australian Workers Union will find it very hard to get the price of meat fixed in any future agreements, or the inclusion of any of the other items usually to be found in them, before shearing time. I believe that the provision is directed against this large organization,, and that the signing of agreements before going to shearing sheds will not only prove dangerous to them, but will also prevent the smooth working of the industry in which they are engaged.
– They admit that it applies to them only.
– But there are clauses in the constitutions of all industrial . unions providing that none of their members shall make individual agreements with employers, and any attempt to cut those clauses out, and make collective bargaining impossible, will be a direct blow at one of the fundamental principles of unionism. In fact, I am satisfied, that this amendment is a deliberate attempt, as one honorable member has put it, to get the “ white-anting “ process into trade unionism, and drive the organizations into taking direct action. It is certainly a farce to introduce an Industrial Peace Bill with the idea of creating industrial harmony, and then come along a few weeks afterwards with a provision which must fill the country with industrial unrest, because ho trade unions would dare to register under an Arbitration Act which compelled them to take out of their constitutions all provisions preventing their members from signing individual agreements with employers. I agree with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that we have spent about three months of this session in dealing with Bills patching up existing legislation or introducing new proposals for dealing with industrial troubles; but, on the other hand, I hold that each and every one of them is just as likely to create industrial unrest as to bring about industrial harmony, and that is more particularly true in regard to the proposal now under consideration. We are told by the Prime Minister that it is most likely unconstitutional, but rather than lose a Bill which he seems to think is essential to industrial peace he is prepared to allow the policy of the Government to be dictated by two out of the 111 members of the two Chambers. Honorable members here and legal authorities outside claim that the Commonwealth Parliament has ample power to deal with matters that make for industrial unrest other than trouble in connexion with trade unions, and one thing that has brought about considerable unrest and grumblings in this country for the last four years is the depredations of profiteers.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Fleming).The honorable- member is now referring to a matter which is out- side the scope of the Senate’s amendment.
– I was merely referring to something that has tended to bring about industrial unrest. It is suggested that we can pass this legislation, although it may be declared to be unconstitutional, yet’ evidently nothing can be done in other directions that tend to create industrial unrest, because some one claims that it is unconstitutional for this Parliament to attempt’ to do so. According to the Prime Minister,’ the Senate’s amendment is unconstitutional and cannot be used, even if it is inserted in the Act, but rather than sacrifice theBill he is prepared to make a fool of himself and of the Bill and the Government.
– Rather than make his followers agree to it.
– Possibly. The argument of honorable members who have spoken in favour of the proposal is that it will have no effect on trade unionism. They say, “ It is merely nothing ; so let it go.” But we know what has been the result of the fight for unionism from its very inception, when a few men organized in other countries and started unions, and when they came to this country and organized so that the membership of unions grew from a few thousands to tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. They will do nothing except in a collective capacity. An honorable member opposite talked about the tyranny of certain unions over their members. As a matter of fact a member enters a union for co-operation and collective bargaining. There is no doubt that if individuals are allowed to sign contracts, and if any union making a rule prohibiting this course of action is debarred from registration, the Arbitration Court will be absolutely impossible as a means for the settlement of disputes to any trade union in the country.
– Speeches like that made by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Lazzarini) make it rather difficult for these who. desire to see the fair thing done between two parties. Personally, I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has been overruled in his opinion as to what should have been done with this amendment. It would have been fairer to honorable members and more in accordance with strict constitutional usage if the Government, believing that the amendment should not be in the Bill, had carried the fight at least to the stage of determining whether or-not’ the majority of the other Chamber we’re.’.-in favour of it. At present all we : know’ is’ that by a plurality of two votes in va’ vote of half the Senate this amendment’, was ‘inserted in the Bill. Apparently it is- harmless, but it comes within the . category of those pin-pricks in legislation referred to’, by -the honorable member: for . Wakefield (Mr. . Foster).. I do. . not. think . the amendment will do much good, ‘or harm, . bufc; . it has the misfortune ofhaving beenfathered by one side to a disputeandforcedupontheother.In these circumstances it cannot, be expected that the union will tamely submit, to having its rules altered by . the other side, with the full knowledge that the Government responsible for the Bill do not approve of it; and when, moreover, it has been done by a minority in. one Chamber of the Legislature without any knowledge as to how the majority may view the matter, I think it altogether deplorable.
– And there were only eleven members in this House supporting the amendment in the first place.
– I have had a very long connexion with the Australian Workers Union. For many years I knew its inner workings as well as the next man. If there is one line of policy that we as a Parliament should, follow, it is to strengthen the hands of i those in the union who are prepared to abide by the principle of arbitration. By passing the amendment which has been, inserted in another place, we are really, being asked to play into the hands of the extreme section in the union, to . “whom we are handing another weapon with- . which to fight those who are trying to “keep the union within the purview of ‘the Arbitration Court. For that reason I intend to vote against the proposal.
– This will affect,’ not only the Australian Workers Union, but every other organization that registers . under the Arbitration Court.
-I see the danger, which, I am sure, has esiJa-ped the notice of the Prime Minister..While this may not now affect members of -unions who do not enter into engagements in the same sense as the Australian’, Workers Union, this amendment if agreed to will open the door to a small section of unscrupulous employers, who may/under, its protection, force upon unions ithat hitherto have not had agreements,” Very objectionable conditions indeed. ‘ -‘The Prime Minister, I think, laid - tod . ‘.jmuieh. stress upon the fact -that -‘a/ certain agreement existed’ between > the’? pasi toralists and the Australian Workers Union. If this amendment is- passed it is “ possible that ‘ this’ agreement will not be renewed. It may be that the Australian Workers Union ‘has been.-able to get a satisf actoryj agreement with- Regard to the . price i of meatj-vbecavfeeYc-f- its power to prevent its members signing an agreement. This amendment will take away that power, and so weaken the union in its fight for conditions which may be fair and reasonable. It is not right to say that the whole of the pastoralists, or a majority of them, are unreasonable; but it is a fact that on some stations the conditions imposed upon men, after they have signed agreements, with regard to matters not touched by the award, have been such as to deprive them, in part, of the benefits of the award. It is because of my appreciation of this fact that I am unable to follow the Government in regard to the Senate’s amendment.
.- The honorable members for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), Barker (Mr. Livingston), and Robertson (Mr. Fleming) expressed solicitude for the members of the Australian Workers Union, but I may point out that this rule, No. 112, is not an executive rule, passed by a handful of men. For a number of years the treatment of Australian Workers Union members by certain squatters was such as to practically compel our members to demand that the Convention should provide some safeguard. Delegates from all parts of Australia attended the Convention, and it was only after many hundreds )of resolutions had been received that this rule was brought into operation. Our men found, after they had signed agreements in Sydney, and went to Cunnamulla, Longreach, Camooweal, or away out on the Oodnadatta line, totally different conditions of working, especially with regard to meat, and so they were compelled to protect themselves against unscrupulous employers. The extra.ordinary feature about this amendment is that the Government do not believe in it. The Prime Minister, who is also Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes), does not believe in it, and the Minister in charge (Mr. Groom) did not believe in it last week. Whether, since then, he has been converted to a belief in it or not, I do not know, but I do not think he has. I think he is solid enough on law not to be turned aside merely by the quotation of a few legal opinions; for after all, one may buy almost any kind of opinion one chooses. I am prepared to say that, with regard to this particular matter, I could get opinions, contrary to those quoted during, this debate, all over Melbourne, or any other city. These legal opinions do not go for very much. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is quite frank about his attitude. He is working in conjunction with the pastoralists’ organization. There is no doubt that the amendment emanates from the pastoralists’ organization. There is equally no doubt that it is aimed at one organization alone. It will have far-reaching and important effects, as was shown by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor). If by means of this amendment Parliament is to interfere with the rules of organizations registered under the Arbitration Act, those who support the amendment will do more than they intended, namely, to aim a blow at a particular organization. I say to honorable members, many of whom voted against this amendment a few days ago, that they ought to be very careful indeed lest they wreck the whole Act. There is a large number of unions which specifically lay down in their rules that no member shall individually sign an agreement - that members shall not sign any agreement at all.
– That is a foundational principle.
– Practically every organization has that rule.
– I do not know any organization that has not.
– ‘The principle right along has been collective bargaining.
– Exactly. The Australian Workers Union is the only organization in Australia which provides for individual . agreements, and it is the only organization at which the amendment is aimed. When this amendment was previously before this Committee eleven members voted in favour of it and thirtyseven against it. In another place nine voted for it, and seven against, leaving an affirmative majority of two out of a total membership of thirty-six. What is the reason for this change in the attitude pf the Government, a change that is extraordinary in view of the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister to-night? He told us, quite frankly, that he does not believe in the amendment,and that, in his opinion, it is unconstitutional. He deprecated the idea of any organization attempting to dictate to Parliament as to how it shall legislate. One would deduce from the Prime Minister’s demeanour that the influences mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) are at work, and that they are so strong as to practically control this Chamber and another place. No new evidence has been brought forward in support of the amendment.
– There is the possibility of losing the Bill.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that there is no possibility of losing the Bill, especially in view of the fact that in this Committee there was a majority of twenty-six against the amendment and in another place a majority of only two in favour, with less than half the members voting. There is every possibility of the Arbitration Act being wrecked by the amendment. I do not think the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), when he first moved the amendment in this House, contemplated that it would affect any organization but the Australian Workers Union.
– I thought it would affect only the shearers and the cane cutters.
– It will affect every organization that has a rule forbidding individual agreements. They will all be deregistered by this amendment.
– The Prime Minister, after making an extraordinary Yes-No speech, said that, bo far as he was concerned, honorable members could vote as they thought fit. Apparently he is being very hardly driven. He stated that a similar course had been taken before by the Australian Workers Union. That is not so. The amendments to the Arbitration Act which were introduced, by a Labour Government affected every union and every unionist, but this amendment is aimed at one organization only, and for that reason, if for no other, members of this Committee should think well before voting for such a provision to be inserted in the Act.
Question - That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out clause 22.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the Senate’s amendment be disagreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
That Sir Joseph Cook, Mr. Wise, and Mr. Groom be appointed a Committee to draw up a reason for the House of Representatives disagreeing to amendments Nos. 1 and 6.
Mr. Groom, on behalf of the Committee, brought up the following reason, which was read and adopted : -
As clubs are in the same position as other employers as regards the employment of employees they should not be exempt from the duties imposed -by law on corporations or persons generally.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) reported the receipt of a message from (he Deputy of the GovernorGeneral, recommending an appropriation for the purposes of amendments providing for the salaries of the members of the Board of Management in this Bill-
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19201005_reps_8_93/>.