8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
The following paper was presented: - Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia. - Aggregate Balancesheet at 30th June, 1922; together with the Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
– In this morning’s Age big headlines appear over the report of the discussion which took place yesterday about the situation in the Near
East, and it is therein stated that the Government’s pledge was indorsed by the House. I wish to say that the only question before the House at the time was that an extract from a certain morning newspaper beprinted, and I made the position of my party perfectly clear. The Prime Minister told us that -
There is no need to talk now about sending a contingent of troops from Australia. The situation as it now stands is well in hand.
It is a well-known rule of debate here that to provide an opportunity for dis- cussion a motion must be submitted, and the Prime Minister stated that, in order to facilitate the discussion of the matter that he was bringing before the House, he would move “That thepaper be printed,” holding up a copy of the Argus, from which he had read a statement he had made. Had. not some such motion been moved no honorable member could have followed the Prime Minister without the , express leave of the House.
– The Prime Minister said “this paper,” pointing to a particular part of the newspaper that he held in his. hand.
– He proposed that his statement should be printed.
– I have looked up the records of the House, and am sure of my position. I said that I would have moved an amendment had it notbeen for the statement of the Prime Minister. I anticipate that before a contingent is sent from this country Parliament will be consulted, and if that happens I shall put the position of the Labour party before the House and the people.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the fact that the inland cities are prevented from’ participating in the Commonwealth grant for the relief of the unemployed? I ask the honorable gentleman to see if the restriction that exists cannot’ be removed, so that these cities may take advantage of the grant and provide work for the large armies of unemployed in our midst?
– The only condition placed onthe expenditure of the grant by the CommonwealthGovernment was that the money should be used fordevelopmental purposes. The grant was not a charity dole; it was intended that the money should be spent on developmental work which, by affording employment, would assist those in distress. The Government will have to adhere to that condition.
– Will the Government make it known to the municipalities that the money has been granted for expenditure upon mainroads ? There is some misunderstanding about the purpose of the grant.
– The money must either be spent on main roads or on developmental work, such as the making of district roads, in either case, outside municipalities, and preference of employment must be given to returned soldiers.
– There is great anxiety in Tasmania about the marketing of this season’s fruit, because of the uncertainty as to what the Government intend to do. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is intended to form a Pool this year, or to leave the marketing of fruit to private enterprise?
– The Government having received representations fromthe United Fruit-growers National Conference, and having heard the views of others interested, have formed the opinion that it is necessary to assist the producers in the marketing of their crop this year, though it has not been decided what form the assistance shall take. The honorable member, I think, refers to fruit suitable for canning. Beyond that I do not think the Governmentcould go. We have consulted the States, and have suggested the holding of a conference on the 28th instant.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH BRITISH
– Has the Prime Minister (received a cablegram to-day from Mr. Lloyd George giving full informa tion about the position in the Near East, and, if so, will it be made available to the House ?
– I have received no cable conveying any information of any sort or kind’ other than that which I received on Sunday. Yesterday, I gave to the House the whole” of the information contained in that message, although I did not read it word for word, and I now again invite the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to came to my office and see the cable for himself. Another cablegram certainly came to hand yesterday, but its contents were published in the newspapers in extenso by, Mr. Lloyd George. It referred to the satisfaction which had been expressed in Great Britain at the receipt of the information that the Commonwealth was prepared to associate itself with the Mother Country. That exhausts all the communications I. have received from Mr. Lloyd George or the British Government in regard to the matter. Any other information which has come to hand has been contained in despatches which are at least six to eight weeks old, and have no reference whatever to thepresent situation. I may add that I said yesterday, in the course of my speech, that the British Government had been asked to supply us with full and precise information. I repeat that all that we have had so far was conveyed in the’ one cable the substance of which, without exception, I gave to the House yesterday.
– I desire to supplement the question submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. Has the right honorable gentleman sent any communication to the British Government based upon proceedings in this Chamber yesterday?
– After the proceedings had terminated here yesterday, I sent a communication to Mr. Lloyd George. It isthe only message which has gone from myself to the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to laying on the table of the House the message forwarded to Mr. Lloyd George?
– It is not usual to lay such cables on the table of Parliament. The honorable member talks very absurdly, more absurdly than usual.
-Will the right honorable gentleman give to the House the purport of the communication he sent yesterday after the proceedings in this House?
Question not answered.
– Mr. Speaker, is it an absurd and improper question to ask to what extent the country may have been compromised by any communication sent from our Prime Minister to the Imperial Government?
– Does the honorable member desire a withdrawal of the remark?
– As the honorable member takes exception to a remark made by the Prime Minister in reply to a question, I must ask the right honorable gentleman to withdraw the expression.
-I withdraw it.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. In a section of this morning’s press, it was made to appear that the carrying, on the voices, of the motion moved by the Prime Minister yesterday here, involved the indorsement of what the right honorable gentleman has communicated to the British Prime Minister in connexion with the situation in the Near East. That entirely misrepresents my attitude.
Opposition Members. - And ours also.
– I have not the slightest doubt about that, but I am speaking for myself.
– I have already spoken on behalf of the party.
Mr.BRENNAN. - I am pleased to hear that.While the right honorable gentleman was speaking, I kept silent. It required a prodigious effort on my part, almost unexampled in the history of my association with this Parliament. I have only to say that my feeling, in regard to the right honorable gentleman’s message was one of intense amusement, faintly tinged with contempt.
Mr.McGRATH. - On Thursday last, I asked a question in reference to the closing of the Repatriation Offices in Ballarat and Bendigo. Can the Honorary Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation give the House any information as to the intentions of the Minister in regard to the closing of those offices?
– I answered the honorable member’s question on Friday, and, as far as I can remember, I said that the Department ofRepatriation had provided certain paid officers to assist Local Repatriation Committees, and that, in view of the work having diminished, it had been decided to withdraw the officers, but not to interfere with the operations of the Local Committees.
Shearing Dispute: Arbitration Award.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “The judgment and award of Mr. Justice Powers in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, in the case of the Australian Workers Union versus The Pastoralists Federal Council and others, and matters connected therewith.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
-Whether a subject of this nature is one that with propriety can be discussed on a special motion for the adjournment of the House is a matter of some doubt, and I think must depend largely on the tone and scope of the discussion. But, having regard to the fact that the honorable member for Darling has been debarred from ventilating the subject on a substantive motion, by the decision of the House to give precedence on all sitting days to Government business, I do not feel justified in ruling the motion out of order, provided it is clearly understood that, under cover of this motion, no attack or personal reflection can be made upon the Judge or the Court, nor can the conduct of the Judge be debated.
– Am I to understand that, under no circumstances, may a motion be moved in this House, the arguments in connexion with which must necessarily involve reflections on the actions of a Judge in his judicial capacity? I understood that it was quite proper to attack judicial conduct, or to utter criticism of a judicial decision in a way which possibly involved reflections on a Judge, provided it was done by a motion. This motion, of course, is for the adjournment of the House; but would it not be fitting, and within the Standing Orders, to give the House the fullest and freest opportunity to discuss the Judge’s conduct, as well as the award he made, and all the circumstances relevant thereto which we think should be ventilated ?
– No, that is not permissible. All parliamentary authorities are agreed that such a discussion cannot be raised on a motion for the .adjournment of the House. If the conduct of a Judge is to be made the subjec’t of criticism by Parliament, it can only be upon a substantive motion.’ For the information of the House I may, perhaps, read what May has to say on the matter -
Certain matters cannot lie debated, save upon a substantive motion which can be dealt with by amendment, or by the distinct vote of the House, such as the conduct of the Sovereign, the Heir to the Throne, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, the LordLieutenant of Ireland, the Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means, members of either Houses of Parliament, and Judges of the superior Courts of the United Kingdom, including .persons holding the position of a Judge, such as a Judge in a Court of Bankruptcy, and of a County Court. These matters cannot, therefore, be questioned by way of amendment, nor upon a motion for adjournment under standing order No. 17.
The conduct of a Judge cannot be discussed on a motion of this kind, and, therefore, the .present discussion must be” confined to the award and such matters as do not involve criticism and rejection on the Judge.
– Would that apply if he were President of the Court and not a Judge, or does it apply only because he is a Judge? I point out that the Deputy Presidents and the Chairman of the Coal Board are not Judges. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I am not taking aides in the matter at all, but only desire to know whether the distinction is to be drawn between the President, because he is a Judge, and Deputy-Presidents and the Chairman of the Coal Tribunal, who are not Judges. If these latter may be criticised while the President of the Court may not be criticised, not because he is President of the Court, but because he is also a Judge,, then, to a certain extent, we are hampered in dealing with the matter. I, of course, take a different view of the matter from that of my friend opposite, but there is the position, and I desire your ruling, Mr. Speaker.
– Has the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) yet committed any offence against the Standing Orders ?
– No. The Prime. Minister (Mr. Hughes) deals with a hypothetical case, on which I do not feel called upon to give a ruling. If a case of that kind arises I shall be prepared to deal with it; but in the present case the motion deals with an award of a Judge of the Court. I have mentioned the matter at this stage to avoid, if I can, any occasion to intervene while debate is in progress.
.- I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) for giving me warning as to what may befall me if I transgress the rules of the House. This, 1 think, is the sixth attempt I have made here to ventilate the very extraordinary judgment given by Mr. Justice Powers, the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. There is a mass of material connected with the matter, and the time at my disposal will not allow me to’ use it all. I do not desire to do the Judge any injustice, and I shall carefully give extracts from his own judgment, and use his own words as they appear in the transcript and minutes.
May I say that in this Parliament it should be possible for any member, if he so desires, to submit a motion censuring a Judge and asking for his removal? But when I moved a motion, which was practically one of censure on Mr. Justice Powers, it was placed at the bottom, of the business-paper, and the Government refused to allow it to be discussed. Personally, I do not think that a man occupying a high judicial position should continue in office in the face of such a motion. To give an idea of the extraordinary circumstances in connexion with this particular award, I shall refer, as briefly as possible,- to some of the incidents during the hearing. I take full responsibility for my action in dealing with this important matter, which involves between 40,000 and 50,000 men in Australia. The shearing industry is held up; sheds which should have been “ cut out “ three months ago are still without labour, and at the award rates are likely to continue without labour. This will mean a great loss to the country, and a great loss to the workers, because they are without shearing. I shall give one illustration of the many mistakes which have been made, and it is an extraordinary mistake on the part of a Judge occupying the highest position in the Industrial Courts of Australia. In one portion of his judgment, which appears in the Commonwealth Arbitration Re cords, he said that if a man sheared 200 sheep a day at 30s. per 100 this equalled £3 10s. This ought to have been stated as £3; but, on the rate of £3 10s., the Judge declared that a shearer would receive £19 5s. per week.
– Does the honorable member say that that is in the first award Mr. Justice Powers made?
– That is one of the incidents during the many hearings of the case.
– It is not in the award.
– No, it is not in the award, it is in the judgment. A school boy ofthe second class could not make such a mistake, or, if he did, he would very hurriedly remedy it. That mistake of the Judge, however, still stands.
– Does the honorable member say that that mistake is incorporated in the award?
– You say it still stands.
– That was one of the reasons given when Mr. Justice Powers gave an award for 35s. In the first judgment, delivered on 5th May, 1922, His Honour fixed the shearing rate at 30s. per 100, and shed hands’ wages at £3 per week. Four pages of his judgment were occupied in proving to the respondents and applicants before him that 30s. per 100 was a fair rate; and, after hehad proved this to his own satisfaction, he suddenly discovered that he had made a mistake. Later on, based on such reasons as I have indicated, he fixed the rate at 35s. On page 16 of his judgment, Mr. Justice Powers says -
As it is proposed to fix the basic wage at the same rate as in the 1917 award, because the rate is fair now, the shearers and other piece-work rates and wages will remain the same as in the old award. I am satisfied that the 30s. rate will secure to the shearers in 1922-23-24 much better returns than it did, or, at any rate, what the Court intimated it would return to the average shearer in the days when the 30s. was first fixed.
As. amatter of fact the basic wage for 1916 was 63s. (vide page 71 March Bulletin, No. 87, index No. 1324, equals 10s. 6d. per day, 63s. per week; whereas same Bulletin, page 73, shows index No. for March, 1922, as 1630, equals 13s. 4d. per day,” or 80s. per week). The old claim was based upon the 1915 index figures as to cost of living (vide same Bulletin, page 71 index figure 1278, equal tot 10s.. 2d. per day, or 61s. per week). That claim was for 30s. per 100, and though the case was not heard until about June, 1917, when 30s. was not a fair rate; yet, because it was the limit asked for, and the claim could not be amended, that rate was” awarded by consent of the parties, the Court having no power to do anything else. The rate of 30s. was based upon the knownprocedure of the Court; but, before we could obtain our award, the cost of living had increased so rapidly that we were really entitled to the 32s. 6d. per 100. However, as I have just mentioned, we were legally prevented from securing anything better.
Before making his award final, His Honour discovered that somethinghad gone wrong with his figures, andhe altered the rate from 30s. per 100 and £3 per week, to 35s. per 100 and £3 10s. per week. And he said he had never intended to do anything else. That was after he had occupied four pages in order to justify his judgment for 30s. per 100. This, though an improvement on the first intimation, is not a fair award. His Honour; on ‘page 24 of his statement, says, “ On the whole I am satisfied that 25 per cent, lost time is reasonable for the whole expedition.” On page 25 he says -
In the judgment, when making the award in 1911, it was apparently accepted as a fair estimate that whatever average number of sheep were shorn at a shed, the average number for the time of the expedition was about 338 per week. Those figures appear to have been accepted in 1917.
His Honour further says, on the same page-
On the evidence before, although it was shown in 1912 that shearers averaged whilst at the sheds 439 sheep per week, I do not think, even allowing for the better organization in some districts to secure a run of sheds, that shearers generally had increased the average for the expedition from 338 to more than 350.
His ‘Honour has evidently made a very grave error here. I quote now from Mr. Justice Higgins’ printed judgment of 1911, page 16-
Another aspect of the figures of Mr. Benjamin has been supplied to me by Mr. Jordan, an accountant of the claimant. The more precise average of sheep shorn per week (start to finish of the shed) are, according to Mr. Benjamin -
This shows that instead of the average being, as His Honour states, 338 for the whole of the expedition, it shows only 254. Yet he bases his award on an average of 350 sheep per week - roughly, 100 more than1 91 1-17. The respondents put in evidence to show that shearers averaged 439 per week while at the shed, and though we had no returns to show anything different, it is ridiculous to assume that the average shearer does 100 per week more now than formerly. There may be a slight difference owing to better organization of runs, but nothing to account for any such increase.
On page 25a of his fourth judgment His Honour says -
Assuming that 439 sheep a week is the average while at the sheds, it is clear that in four weeks the number of sheep shorn by a shearer would be 1,756; but if 25 per cent, is fair for lost time, it would take five weeks to shear them, and that would mean only 351 sheep per week. I cannot, therefore, base rates on 439 sheep, even if it is an average.
But His Honour does base his rates on the 350 sheep perweek, which is also wrong. If 439 sheep per week at the shed is right, and 25 per cent. for lost time is fair, then the average number of sheep over the whole expedition is 329 ; and even that total is 75 sheep per week more than shearers were shown to average when both parties were collecting statistics. The reason why they can now show a 439 average per week is, most likely, because they knew we we’re not collecting statistics; and they probably selected the sheds to show what they wanted. This view is borne out when one remembers that, in the hours case, a few months before the general case, the respondents tried to prove to the Court that the shearer averaged from 5 to 27 per cent, fewer sheep in forty-four hours than he did in fortyeight.
I interpose at this stage to give a brief history of the case of the Australian “Workers Union versus the Pastoralists’ Federal Council and others. I shall tabulate the particulars according to dates, as follows : -
Sydney.- 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, and 12th April - Hearing.
Melbourne. - 5th May - Reasons given and proposed award. 12th May - Speaking to minutes. 18th May - Proposed final award and schedules announced. 26th May - Discussion after parties had perused forms of agreements, &c. 31st May - Final award delivered and signed. 26th June - Intimation by Deputy President that he will hear respective representatives as to alleged miscalculations and errors.
Sydney. - 14th July - Parties apply in chambers in accordance with above intimation.
Melbourne. - 21st July - Judgment on above chamber application delivered.
On page 26 of the judgment His Honour is reported to have said -
I would not be safe in fixing rates on more than 400 a week as an average in sheds during the term of the award for all seasons, or more than 350 sheep a week for the time of the expedition.
It will be noted that if 400 at the start is right, and 25 per cent, is taken off for lost time, the average for the expedition is only 300 per week. His Honour only allowed 121/2 per cent, off by starting at 350. Nevertheless he does it, as the following further quotation from his judgment shows: -
Having determined with some hesitation the matters referred to, I propose to see what should be the rates fixed on Mr. Allen’s basis.
That basis is as follows : -
That would be the amount a shearer would get if he were a wages man and shore only 50 sheep a day, but in all awards made by this Court for piece-workers the rates fixed are from 10 per cent, to 33 per cent, more than on wages. If 20 (19s. 2d.) per cent, is added for piece-work, it would amount to about £6 l1s. 2d. It would be necessary on these figures to give to the average shearer about 35s. per 100, if the average number he shore per week for the time of the expedition “were 350 in order to secure to him £6 12s. 6d. Out of that amount he would have to pay his mess account of 25s. per week and 6s. per week for fares. It will be noted that 350 sheep at 35s. per 100 will only give £6 2s. 6d., not, as stated, £6 12s. 6d. His Honour says that the discrepancy is due to a typist’s error, but most likely it was not, as he was testing a sum of £6 l1s. 2d., and by making a mistake of 10s. in the sum misled himself. To produce £6 12s. 6d. it would require 38s. per 100, not 35s. as stated, but if the actual average in the shed on the respondents’ own figures are taken, 325, over 40s. per 100 will be required to produce £6 12s. 6d. On page 9 of the Judge’s final remarks he is reported to have said -
There are good reasons, in my opinion, why Queensland rates could reasonably be higher than a Federal rate for all other States.
The Judge had no evidence at all with regard to conditions in Queensland. There was evidence for that State before the Court in 1911, when the pastoralists pleaded for a lower rate in the southern States than in Queensland. The then President (Mr. Justice Higgins), who had the evidence of all the States before him, said (Commonwealth Arbitration Report No. 5, page 84) -
If any discrimination in rates ought to be made as between States the rate ought to be lower for Queensland, for the sheep generally are in Queensland easier to shear and the tallies are greater for a day’s work; and owing to the prevalence of dry weather in the shearing months the average earnings from start to finish’ are higher.
Let me now give an illustration of the chaos which this award has caused in the pastoral industry. I quote from the report published in the Australian Worker of 30th August of the case of the Graziers Association versus H. E. Boote, who w as charged with continuing a strike. This was after Mr. Barnes and I had been fined £100, and had been told by the magistrate that if we camebefore him again he would be compelled to sentence us to imprisonment without the option of a fine. When an award is responsible for such chaos as exists in the pastoral industry, and is based upon such extraordinary miscalculations, no citizen who resists it - should be charged with a criminal offence, and possibly gaoled. That is probably what will happen to some of us before this case is finished.
– Never mind; I shall come to see you.
– I went to see the honorable member when he was in. gaol, and it would be only fair if he were to return the compliment. I only hope that my durance is as pleasant as was that of the honorable member, who had fruit, cigarettes, and plenty of reading matter, the warder coming at 5 o’clock in the evening and saying, “ Mr. Considine, your room is ready.” If I can serve my time in a Victorian gaol, I shall not object so much. In the Graziers versus Boote case, the following evidence was reported: -
Clarence Spier, manager of the Graziers Cooperative Shearing Company, said that under normal conditions there was no difficulty about getting men for shearing, but this year it was very difficult ‘to get men. When it was known that 35s. was the rate, the men generally stated that they would not accept, and would stand out for Queensland rates. There had been great difficulty in getting labour right up to the present time.
William Henry Eyres, a shearing contractor, said that he was a. member of the Merriwa Contract Company. There was no difficulty in getting labour during normal years. There was difficulty this year, the difficulty first manifesting itself about mid-June. . . . The witness said he was at Coonong on 12th July. The shearers were there, but they did not start.
Foster Francis Cooper, organizer of the Graziers Co-operative Shearing Company, said there was plenty of labour offering an normal years, but this year there was practically no labour offering at all. Since the Federal award came out there had been no labour offering.
Herbert Lionel Davies, manager of the Federal Pastoral Shearing Company, said under normal conditions there was no difficulty in obtaining shearers…… There was no difficulty about labour last year, but this year, as soon as the new award was announced, there was a very decided slackening off in both verbal and written applications. They had not been able to get all the labour necessary. Many men. refused work when he said he was paying award rates. The difficulty in getting labour continued right upto the present.
Arthur Stanley Long, a shearing contractor, said that in normal times there was sufficient labour offering…… TMs year it had been very difficult to get men since the award was announced. A lot of men appliedfor work and then refused it.
Charles McDonnell, a member of a shearing contracting firm, and Thomas Bell Eyre, manager of Bringagee station, gave similar evidence. There have been strikes all over New South Wales. In South Australia practically the whole of the sheds, so far as we know, are shearing at £2 per 100. The contractors and pastoralists are paying the £2 without any demur, recognising, I believe, as quite a number of the squatters do, that the award is based upon wrong grounds, and that miscalculations and mistakes occurred, as a result of which the men are not getting a fair deal. On page 13 of his judgment, the President, after mentioning that different methods of calculating the rates for shearing had been suggested, said -
For instance, although the purchasing power of money increased as a matter of fact it decreased - by at least 2s. between 1907 and 1911, Mr. Justice Higgins in 1911 found that 24s. a 100, the rate fixed in 1907, would giveto the shearer under the then existing conditions, for the reasons mentioned by him, all hewas fairly entitled to during the expedition, and fixed the same rate in 1911 as was fixed in 1907, 24s. per 100.
The Judge has made many errors. Did time permit, I could give, I think, twelve illustrations of the extraordinary attitude of his mind in dealing with this case. I do not know whether he personally arrived at the figures that he used or relied upon the calculations of some one else. If the calculations were his own, his education in arithmetic was sadly neglected, but in any case he was responsible for the correctness of the figures’ used. One instanceof the absurdity of. his calculations is the working out of 200 sheep at 30s. per 100 as £3 10s. There is not the slightest chance of the shearers working under the award, and no hope of peace in the pastoral industry under it. Next’ year the men will be even more solid than they are this year. The pastoralists may believe themselves strong, but we feel that we are much stronger. . We will not work under the award, and refuse to abide by its conditions. From 1907 to 1922 the Australian Workers Union worked under Arbitration Court awards and agreements.
– The awards were in their favour all the time.
– No. In 1917 we claimed 30s., allowing a margin on the cost of living, which did not then entitle us to quite so much. Because of the congestion of business it was six months before the case could be heard, and by that time the cost of living had increased so much that we were entitled to 32s. 6d ; but the law prevented us from claiming more than our original demand. During the war we could have compelled the pastoralists, if we had wished to do so, to pay £3 per 100.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to move for an extension of time.
– There can be no extension.
– Then I urge the Government to seriously consider this matter. Let the Minister call for a report on this judgment from the Statistician’s branch. I am sure that any such report would show that the figures, used were wrong, and that wrong results were arrived at. I hope the Government will take steps to right the injustice that has been done.
– I am sorry that the honorable member did not pay me the usual courtesy of informing me ofhis intention to discuss this matter this afternoon, and of letting me know the lines on which he intended to proceed.
– I am sorry that I did not do that.
– The result of the honorable member’s neglect is that I am not so fully equipped with information as I would have been under othercircum- stances. I wish to say at the beginning that Parliament is not the place in which to review the judgments of the Arbitration Court. Were every honorable member to use his position here to get legal cases discussed in Parliament with a view to influencing decisions, the Courts would lose their character as judicial tribunals. The Arbitration Court is part of our legal machinery. Parties have the right to go before it, and to submit to it the whole of their case, and law-abiding citizens in a Democracy, having the right to govern themselves, will abide by the decisions of such a Court, whether they like them or not. That is the proper attitude towards the judgment of all’ the Courts in a properly ordered community. Any other attitude towards them would produce chaos. Parties cannot go to a Court, take any benefit that may result from its judgments, and flout its jurisdiction when decisions go against them. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has made an ex parte statement. I am not in a position at this moment to criticise it in detail. ‘ He based his case on remarks made by Mr. Justice Powers during the progress of a trial; but what we have to ask is, Does the award do substantial justice? The honorable member cannot say that there was not every opportunity for his union to put before the Court every possible phase of its case.
– We did that
– The other side had the same opportunity, and the Judge, after weighing the pros and cons, pronounced what he believed to be a fair and just award. Yet, no sooner was it delivered than one of the parties refused to obey it. The men were incited by their leaders, including the honorable member himself, to disobey the award. Accordingly the matter came before the High Court, and Mr. Justice Higgins, in delivering in Brisbane the judgment of that Court, said -
It is the duty of the union when it obtains an award, which in some respects it thinks to be unjust to its members, not to forbid the members to accept work under the terms of the award. “There is the umpire’s verdict; we do not agree with it in clause Z, tout wecannot enjoy what is given by clauses A to Y, and at the same time tell our members not to submit to clause Z.” . The award must be, accepted as a whole. But even ifMr. Stumm’s construction of the section is right, how canit - be said that the incitement was. not unreasonable under the circumstances?
He spoke of the right that was given to the union, if it sees a clear mistake made, to apply to the President to vary the award to rectify the mistake.
We have not considered, we have no right to consider, we refuse to consider, whether there was any mistake in fact made by the President in his calculations. In face of this right to apply for a variation, how can this High Court say that the incitement to refuse employment is not unreasonable, when the ‘ union has made no application whether to vary the award in respect of that part which the union declared to be in error ?
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) based his case on a mistake in calculation, but Mr. Justice Powers in- . dicated that he was quite prepared to hear any application to vary the award on the ground of mistakes.
– We went before Mr. Justice Powers again, but that made no difference.
– The Judge heard the union’s application.
– Buthe does not comprehend it ; that is the extraordinary part of the affair.
– It is the honorable member’s attitude that is incomprehensible. The union had its opportunity to put before the Court what it considered mistakes, and it did so, and Mr. Justice Powers, in a carefully reasoned judgment, dealt with every aspect of the case.Ref erring” to the miscalculations that have been spoken of, he said -
The miscalculation or error on which the union principally relies was an error in copying the judgment by typing £6 12s. 6d. instead of £6 2s. 6d. as the result of multiplying 35s. by 3* (300 at 35s. a 100) , equal to £6 2s.6d.
He shows thatthe error did not affect his judgment.
It has been referred to as if I could hot do that simple sum correctly; and because the typist put in £6 12s.6d. instead of £6. 2s.6d. it has been contended that I intended to give over 37s. 6d. a 100 at least instead of 35s. a 100.
He says further -
It is true that since the award was made the Statistician’s figures show that the cost of living has risen during the present quarter,but I cannot take that into consideration on this application.The union protested against the rate being subject to quarterly adjustments, preferring to leave increases ofthe rates during the term because of the increased cost of living to be granted by the Court on application to vary the award.
It ought not to be forgotten in considering the request - (1) That the award rates in 1911 and 1917 were based on forty-eight hours a week, and the present award rates are based on forty-four hours a week; (2) the present award grants better conditions to shearers than in former awards, including lower prices for meat and stores than in previous awards; (3) although the thirty-towns’ rates are based on the prices supplied to the Statistician by shopkeepers for meat and other food, shearers have to be supplied with meat at from 3d. to 4d. a lb., and other stores at only 7£ per cent, on their actual cost to the station; (4) the basic rate of £3 18s. a week on which the shearers’ rates were fixed is 12s. per week higher than the rural basic rate in New South Wales fixed by the Board of Trade in force in June last and at the present time- The majority of sheep to be shorn under the award are in New South Wales; (5) the pastoralists of New Zealand offer to the shearers in June, 1922, , was 20s. a 100 for flock sheep, but rates have not been definitely settled.’
Then he adds this reminder-
Prom 1886 to 1907, for twenty-one years before the Arbitration Court was constituted (although strikes had taken place to secure higher rates), the shearing rate was 20s. a 100. Since then the Court raised the rate, first, by is. a 100; then because of the increased cost of living by 10s.; then by agreement by 20s. a 100 (because the Court could have been applied to if no agreement had been made and retrospective rates allowed).
Surely when the cost of living has decreased by- 16s. since the 1920 shearing season - equal to 7s. 2d. a 100 - the union is not justified, because the Court acts consistently and reduces the rate in part- because of the decreased cost of living, in refusing to advise its members to observe the award of 35s. a 100, and thus deprive all its members of the benefit of arbitration, which has done so much for the shearers and its other members since 1906 - and the country generally - by avoiding the necessity of direct action to secure what the Court (not the union or pastoralists) considers fair rates for shearing and other work done by members of the union.
I am not here as an advocate of one side or the other.
– You are attacking the union.
– The honorable member hae tried to convey an absolutely erroneous impression.
– I challenge the Minister to stand behind that statement. Will he appoint a Commission to investigate the judgment?
– The President of the Arbitration Court is the judge of the position.
– He is a fool, and the Government are hiding the fact from the public.
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and say that the Judge is a very extraordinary Judge, and declare that it is a very extraordinary Government that stands behind him.
– It was the union, and not the pastoralists, which went to the Court. Obviously, if I go to a Court and ask for a judgment, I agree to abide by the decision given; otherwise, it is hypocrisy on my part to go to the Court. The honorable member for Darling admits that all the facta were placed before the President of the Court. Both sides were heard, and the Judge, holding the balance fairly between them in an endeavour to do what was right as between party and party, as it was his duty to do, gave his award. The honorable member then went through the country conveying the erroneous impression that the award given was based upon a mistake, and inciting men not to abide by it. In this course of action he and the other members of the executive of his union were checked by an injunction from a Court. The next step, taken by the union, was a further appeal to the President of the Arbitration Court, who afforded them every opportunity to show where any mistake had been made in his judgment. He allowed them to apply for a variation of the award, but on ai reconsideration of that award the Judge held that it was sound, and that no error or mistake had been made by him. In that judgment, which has been circulated to honorable members, he justifies his award. The next step we have had in this matter is the . action of the honorable member for Darling, a dissatisfied litigant, who probably believes quite honestly that he has not secured justice, in coining to Parliament, and setting up propaganda work here in the hope that it will circulate outside and create dissatisfaction, thus providing further confusion ‘and unemployment in the Australian industrial world. The honorable member’s action is a thing to be censured.
– It is deplorable that an honorable member should use his POd tion in the House to create discontent with a judgment with the obvious intention of insuring that men will not work under an award given by a properly constituted tribunal.
– Hear, hear! I have done that inside and outside this House.
– The honorable member’s conduct is unworthy of this Parliament, and his attitude is falsa to the principles of unionism and arbitration.
– I cannot accept the Minister as an authority on unionism.
– On ordinary principles of honesty, is it right for any person to invite a union to apply to a Tribunal for a decision and then, having got an award, given according to the law, to go out and create discontent, in order to nullify it? The judgment of Mr. Justice Powers was given after a most careful inquiry, and it is deeply to be regretted that the honorable member has taken this action. It is certainly not in the interests of the workers. Before I conclude, let me quote the following, which shows what big money is earned by shearers under the award in question: -
In a statement issued by the Graziers’ Association to-day, it was said that 2,000 shearers were earning from £9 to £17 a week in the sheds of New South Wales. These men are said to be working only forty-four hours, weekly, at the Federal award rates of 35s. a hundred. Weekly earnings of from £10 to £12, it was also stated, were common, and ringers were drawing from £13 to £17.
At Boorooma, Walgett, twenty-three shearers shore 14,725 sheep in one week, averaging about 640 a man. This, on the Federal award Tate, would work out at just over £11 a man for a week’s work. During a previous week at the same shed, the same shearers shore 12,302 sheep for the week, or an average of about 534 a man. On award rates this would work out at about £9 6s. a man for the week. The ringer’s tally for the week was 752, which would return him just over £13.
At Dummbral, Collarendabri, 20 shearers shore 13,008 sheep in one week, averaging 650 a man, which would work out at £11 12s. 6d. a man. At Midkin, Moree, 40 shearers shore 21,800 in one week, working out approximately at £9 10s. a man, while at Tallawanta, Garah, 10 shearers shore 7,258 sheep for the week, averaging £12 10s. a man. A ringer here shore 968 sheep, equal to about £17. Ten shearers at Wootawa, Morah, shore 7,617 sheep for the week, averaging a little over £13 each, while the ringer’s tally for the week was 929, for which he would be paid just over £16.
At Charlton, Brewarrina, 13 shearers shore 1,946 sheep in one day, averaging £2 10s. a man, and one of the, shearers was only a learner. One day the ringer shore 216, for which he would be paid about £3 15s.
In the face of these figures the Association comments, “ Surely no reasonable man will contend that genuine shearers are. not at work, or that the Federal award rate does not offer a good return to shearers.”
Many of the bigger sheds, it is stated, are shearing or will shear a neighboring small man’s sheep. This will increase the shearers’ earnings for the season by cutting down their travelling bill and lost time in getting from shed to shed. Shearers will have a highly remunerative run this year.
That report is an indication of the money that is being earned by the shearers under the award they have obtained. It is unfortunate that the honorable member for Darling should seek to discredit a judgment that has produced such excellent results for the workers of Australia.
Mr.SCULLIN (Yarra) [3.43].- The Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) waxed rather warm because the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) had raised this question in the House. He charged the honorable member with having aided and abetted men to break awards given by the Arbitration Court.
– The honorable member for Darling admitted having done so.
Mr.SCULLIN. - The Government are charged with a very big responsibility on this question of Arbitration, and before the Attorney-General lectures the honorable member for Darling for having incited men to break an award, he should investigate the very grave charges that honorable member has made against a Judge, and see if they are true.
– The honorable member had made no charges against the Judge.
Mr.SCULLIN. - He made charges against an award given by Mr. Justice Powers, the President of the Arbitration Court, and any Government that believes in arbitration and wants to see the system continued should immediately take cognisance of such charges, instead of proceeding to harangue the unionists of the country as to its’ being their duty to abide by awards whether they are right or wrong. The honorable member for Darling was speaking to-day on behalf of the biggest industrial organization in Australia. This union has loyally and faithfully abided by awards of the Arbitration Court for fifteen years. Although it has had it in its power to create turmoil in the country, and although, on many occasions, it has not got all it has asked for and has suffered many disappointments in awards given since it first went to the Court in 1907, it has never once struck against a decision once an award has been given. The responsibility rests upon the Government to say how it happens that this union, which has so faithfully abided by the awards of the Arbitration Court, is now proceeding to break an award today. Not one of the facts put forward by the honorable member for Darling has been controverted. It is a simple question of arithmetic. The AttorneyGeneral says that if the Judge made a mistake in arriving at his figure, the union should have gone before him again. As a matter of fact, the Minister knows that the union did go before the Judge again. It placed all these facts before His Honour, but its efforts were of no avail. The President of the Arbitration Court stubbornly stood to his mistake, not even admitting that he had been guilty of making a common, ordinary, arithmetical error. If the Government choose to bluff through a proposition like that, I am afraid that this big organization, the Australian “Workers Union, will have nothing more to do with arbitration. I say this with regret, because if we can have peace in the industrial world, and justice done to the men who toil, without the arbitrament of strikes, it will be of benefit to the country. But if the Government choose to stand by a Judge who makes this kind of error, and stubbornly stands by it, they will have to take the responsibility for the industrial discord that will prevail in Australia. The award given by Mr. Justice Powers is one of the worst examples of bungling ever perpetrated by a man in a responsible position.
– It is very difficult to tell the truth in this case and observe the rules of the House.
– Before permitting this discussion to take place, I took the opportunity of reminding honorable members that, while they were at liberty to. discuss an award given by a Judge, no personal reflection or attack must be made upon the Judge himself. I hope that honorable members will refrain f rom remarks which are not in order.
– We all know what the Attorney-General has told us, namely, that it is not within the province of this Parliament to review a decision given in any Court; but the issue to-day is something more than the mere matter of reviewing an arbitration award. The issue is, whether, in view of the serious statements made by the honorable member for Darling, the Government’s appointment of Mr. Justice Powers as President of the Arbitration Court was justified.
– Order !
– It is verydifficult to keep within the ruling of the Chair. I shall take one out of the many illustrations given by the honorable member for Darling to prove that the award in question was based upon a mistake. His Honour based his decision on figures supplied by the Pastoralists Union, namely, that the average shear is 439 per week. That this was an increase of 101 on the previous year’s average was admitted. The very men who came before the Court and supplied these figures were those who had previously contended that the introduction of the forty-four hour week would reduce the speed of shearing by from 5’ to 27½ per cent. Yet His Honour accepted the ex parte statement of these’ men, which, on the face of it, could not be true. He not only does that-
– Order ! The honorable membermay discuss the award, but cannot discuss the Judge.
– I will try my best to discuss the award itself. It provides for 439 sheep per week as the average, and then allows a reduction of twentyfive for lost time. An ordinary “school boy with a third-class education, if asked to take 25 per cent. from 439, would give the answer as 329. but the award gives it as 351. I pin the Minister down to that one fact. Without traversing the supporting arguments of the honorable member for Darling, I ask the Minister, who is responsible to this country in the matter of arbitration, whether he is prepared to say that the workers are bound to abide by awards based on such erroneous figures? When the question came before the Court again, and the figures were put before the Judge, no man not stubbornly prepared to stand by statements made, however erroneous, would have refrained from correcting them. That has not been done, and yet this body of men are expected to accept the award. Further, the Judge has allowed 20 per cent., although he says that the right allowance is 25 per cent. I ask honorable members to exercise their common sense, and to put themselves in the position of those men who earn their living in this industry. They may have gone to the Court, and have been disappointed in the award given, hut they have abided by the award. The Minister -for Defence (Mr. Greene) says that that is because the awards have always improved the position of the men ; but I point out that the awards were not always in accordance with the cost of living. These men, as I say, may have been disappointed in this regard, but in many cases have abided by the decision. When, however, there is an obvious mistake in arithmetic which robs them, at any rate, of 5s. per 100, it is asking too much of human nature to expect the men to accept the award. There is no organization in Australia, and certainly not the Australian Workers Union, which could ask its members to abide by such an award. If the Minister is simply going to brush the matter aside, and, lecturing the shearers, tell them that they must abide by the award whether they like it or not-that they must accept the bad arithmetic of the President - it is making a> farce of arbitration, and, indeed, wiping arbitration out.
– What does Mr. Justice Higgins say ?
– Mr! Justice Higgins, in the Court, said that the Australian Workers Union . had loyally and faithfully abided by every decision of the Court, although on several occasions the award had been against their claim.. Mr. Justice Higgins was ona of the men who made arbitration possible in this country, not that he gave the workers all they asked, but because he held the balance fairly between the parties. .It was because of this that the Government did their best to get rid of him, and now we have this Judge in his place- this man Powers, who took a position that no other Judge in Australia would accept !
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– Without going fur- titer, I simply say that there, is turmoil in the land to-day, and that the turmoil will not end this year. The Pastoralists
Union has in this dispute “ bitten off more than it can chew.” The spirit of the old days of shearing is still in the hearts of the shearers, and they will stand to the position they have taken up. They will not, as the Minister says in his airy way, accept the award. Those who, afterall, will lose the most will be the members of the Pastoralists Union, who are sheltering themselves behind the Arbitration Court, and endeavouring to lower living conditions in this country. Only to-day Mr. Justice Powers has lowered the daily wage of’ the miners of this country by ls. below the basic wage. That is the kind of thing that is killing arbitration - it is that kind of thing which, supported by the Government, stands for industrial turmoil!. I stand for arbitration, and voted for it when I sat on the Government side; I am in favour of the principle of tribunals to settle industrial questions. Although that is my policy and belief, I say deliberately here, that for the Government to stand by awards like this, awards that are manifestly unjust, based as they are on bad arithmetic, is to sign the death-warrant of arbitration, and means going back to the old days of strikes.
Even at this stage I ask the Government to accept the challenge of the honorable member for Darling, and to obtain the services of statisticians to investigate the merits of the question by an examination of the facts and figures. I am satisfied that such an examination would show that the Government made a great mistake when they appointed Mr. Justice Powers to the position of President of the Arbitration Court.
.- I have no plaudits for the arbitration system or for the Arbitration Court. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has taken credit to the Australian Workers Union for abiding by the awards of the ^Arbitration Court for a considerable period. He has told us that the objection to this particular award is the defective arithmetic displayed by the President, Me. Justice Powers; the men- re.gard it as patently obvious that the rules of arithmetic have been absolutely ignored by the presiding genius of the. Arbitration Court.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson). Order! The honorable member is now reflecting on the Judge.
– By calling him a “genius”? I shall certainly withdraw that word, Mr. Speaker.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- In his concluding remarks the honorable member for Yarra intimated that this same Judge had reduced the daily wages of the miners by 1s. per day below the basic wage; and that is not due to any fault of arithmetic. My view is that the mistake of the shearers was in going, in the first place, to the Arbitration Court. The Australian Workers Union desired, by means of a conference with the Pastoralists Union, to obviate an upheaval, but the Pastoralists Union refused to meet them and’ discuss any alteration of the conditions. Of course, the Australian Workers Union has its own method of doing its business, and I am not attempting to dictate to the members of another organization.
– Or to the pastoralists either?
– Or to the pastoralists either ; I am not much concerned with what the pastoralists do.
– They, are not much concerned about what the honorable member does.
– I do not know that that is so. If I can assist the men of the pastoral industry to win the fight’ they are now waging I shall certainly do so, and we shall see whether or not the pastoralists are concerned about what I do. The honorable member who is so unconcerned at the present time, is not so unconcerned in his capacity of a pastoralist when the officials of the Australian Workers Union stand by their members as they are doing at the present time. The pastoralists go to the Courts for an injunction, hale members of the union before Judges, have them fined, and threaten them with imprisonment; and that, I suppose, is all to show how unconcerned they are. The position,, as it strikes me, is that there is a calculated effort on the part of the employers of this country, through their various organizations, to wipe out the previous effects of the Arbitration Court with regard to wages and conditions. That effort is not confined to Australia; there has been a world-wide attack on organized labour since the Armistice. We see this in the United States of America, in Great Britain, and in every country where there is organized labour. There is a concerted effort on the part of organized capital to lower the standard of living of the workers, and to force them back to conditions which, if not worse than pre-war conditions, are certainly no better. It is no use our shutting our eyes to the fact; there is a struggle taking place between organized labour and organized employers. This is not a matter that will be settled in the Arbitration Court; it will be settled, as in the past, by the strength of the organized forces. It will be the determination of the workers as against the bank balance of the pastoralists, and the desire of the latter to have their sheep shorn. It will be a question of whether the circumstances are -favorable to the pastoralists or the men. The latter are certainly handicapped by lack of resources, and by the fact that all the paraphernalia for repression is in the hands of their political and industrial enemy. I am glad that the honorable member for Yarra has intimated that the old fighting spirit of the Australian Workers Union is not dead.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) put -
That the question he now put.
The House divided -
Ayes . . . . . . 30
Noes . . . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Rodgers).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Oversea Mailboats and Position of Tasmania
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. GROOM (for Mr. Rodgers).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Divisional Returning Officers’ Overtime
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– A demand has been made for payment. No time limit was mentioned, the demand being for payment forthwith. A further instruction for the renewal of the demand has since been issued.
Contracts with Driver and Company.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The contract between the War Service Homes Commissioner and Messrs. R. Driver and Company, and matters arising out of it, are now the subject of arbitration. In the circumstances, it is regretted that the information asked for cannot be supplied at present.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th September, vide page 2395):
Section one hundred and thirteen of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the word “ shall “ (second occurring) and inserting in its stead the word “ may “.
Section proposed to be amended -
On polling day, an elector shall be entitled to vote at any prescribed polling place for the subdivision for whichhe is enrolled, or he shall be permitted to vote at any other polling place within the State for which he is enrolled at which a polling booth is open, under and subject to the regulations relating to absent voting.
.- I desire to be informed of the reason for the extraordinary amendment proposed in the Act. Since electors have been given the right of absent voting, they should be free to exercise it; ‘their opportunity to do so should not be merely permissive. One of the greatest privileges of our electoral system is the right of absent voting. It does away with much postal voting, and, compared with that method, is infinitely more to be desired. One of its advantages is that an elector need not worry about being within reach of his own subdivision on polling day. He knows that, under the law, he will be accorded the right of voting as an absent voter in any polling booth in the State in which he resides. Many an elector does not know, until the last moment, whether he will be within his own subdivision on polling day; by which time - in the case of his absence - if the law demanded that he should vote by post rather than as an absentee, it would be too late for him to secure postal voting papers. The Government now propose that an elector shall no longer retain the right to vote as an absentee, as a matter of unquestioned legal procedure, but that he may be accorded that privilege. Who will determine whether he may or may not be so permitted? I understand that the reason of the Government for proposing the change in the law is based upon trouble which arose out of the last election. At a certain polling place in the division of Ballarat there was an insufficient supply of absent voting papers. Surely, however, it is the duty of the electoral authorities to see that every polling place is furnished with adequate supplies. The Government should not stint money in securing full and true expression of the will of the people by medium of the ballot-box. Every possible facility under the law should be provided for electors to record their votes. Rather than that this permissive provision should be inserted in the Electoral Act, I would prefer to see the privilege of absent voting actually withdrawn. Electors would then know exactly where they stood. It would be an altogether unsatisfactory position if, when an elector entered a polling booth at the last moment on polling day and applied for the necessary papers to enable him to record his vote as an absentee, the presiding officer saw fit to withhold those papers. I ask the Government not to press this amendment of the law.
– The reason for the amendment is that in the last general elections trouble arose owing to an insufficiency of absent voters’ ballot-papers at one polling . place in the Ballarat division. It was held during the hearing of the petition arising out of that election that there was an absolute duty on the part of the Commonwealth Electoral Department to provide voting facilities, under section 113 - that which is proposed to be amended - for any person who might make application ; provided, of course, that the elector was able to fulfil the conditions of the section. I ask honorable members to visualize the enormous area of the Commonwealth, and to think of the tremendous number of polling places which are scattered over the length and breadth of the land. It may again happen that at some particular polling booth there will not be sufficient absent voters’ ballot-papers to meet an unexpected demand ; whereupon the whole election might be invalidated. The object of the amendment is not to take away the right of absent voting; the Government realize as keenly as any honorable member the value of this method of vote-recording. Nor will there be curtailment of any of the facilities for voting, from the . administrative point of view.
– But there maybe.
– That is a possibility that I cannot deny; but the alternative is the possibility that, owing to the technical absence of a few voting papers, an election might be invalidated.
-More than 3,000 . absent votes were cast in any electorate at the last election.
– I do not need to be convinced . of the value of the absent voting. provision; and I repeat that there is no intention , -on the part of the Government to take away or limitthe right of so voting.
– In the circumstances, it would be better to withdraw the right of absent voting,so that electors would be under no misapprenhension as to where they stood. The outcome of the amendment might be to afford an opportunity for. a Presiding . Officer not to play fair.
– The mere- shortage -of a few . ballot-papers at a polling booth might create a technical breach of the Act, and lead to the invalidation of an election.
– The same result might be brought about bythe -Returning Officer refusing to allow absentee votes to be recorded.
Mr.GROOM.-Probably, but the intention is that all ‘Returning Officers shall be provided with the necessary absentee votingforms. This clause is not the result of Government policy, but is suggested by the Electoral Department. The working of the Act has shown that this defect exists, ‘and, in ‘ accordance’ with the views -of the Department, we are seeking to remedy it, in order to obviate the possibility of a petition to invalidate an election owing to a purely technicalnoncompliance with the law.
– If the Returning Officer refuses a man a -vote, has he any remedy?
– Of course, the Returning Officer will be’ instructed to provide all necessary facilities, and we must assume that he will do so. We cannot provide against the eccentricities of human nature.
– Let the law remain mandatory.
.- The Minister’s explanation of the need for this clause is about the weakest I have heard. A number of elections have been held under the existing law, and, so far as my memory serves,there has been only one . complaint in regard to this absentee voting . provision, and . that occurred in connexion with the Ballarat election in 1919. Three men went to a palling place just outside the boundaries of the Ballarat electorate, ‘ and asked to be . all owed to record absentee votes. . The evidence before Mr. Justice Isaacs ‘showed clearly that the Presiding Officer humbugged the -men, and, . although -they waited in -the . booth until 8 o’clock, he would not supply . them, ‘with absentee ballot-papers. It was not -necessary -that they should receive a ballot-paper with the names of “Kerby” . and ‘‘McGrath” printed on them.; the . law . would ‘have been complied with hadthe Presiding Officer taken & blankslip of . paper and written “, Ballarat election “ and the names of the candidates upon it. But either because of his antiLabour prejudices or his indifference to his. duty he refused both -men an opportunity to vote. The Presiding Officer did not deny to the . Court that he had refused to allow the men to vote; itwas clearly proved that their names were on the Ballarat roll, that their wives and families resided in Ballarat, and that they were merely temporary workers in the district -in which they . sought to vote. Mr. Justice Isaacs properly said that Parliament had expressed by its legislation the wish . that every adult should be given . an opportunity to record : his vote. The absentee voting system is much fairer than the postal vote, because the elector has to go into the polling booth- to record his vote. The carrying of this clause will practically abolish absentee voting.
– Worsethanthat; theelector will not know,when hegoes to a booth, whether or nothe is to . be: allowed to exercise his vote.
– Everything will depend on the frame of mind of the Presiding Officer. He is to have the right to say “ yea” or” nay.” If itis the desire of the Government to abolish absentee voting, it would befairer if they were to say so straight out.
– I think the Presiding Officers would prefer a definite direction one way or the other.,
– They would.. In the existing Electoral . Act we have made the mistake of. restricting absentee voting to some extent. Prior to the last, amending Act being placed on the statute-book any elector could, vote in any State as an absentee.
– Well the honorable member knows it. Electors voted in the Ballarat election who had been residing in Broken Hill for years.
– Yes; but their homes were still in Ballarat. In any case, whose duty is it to clear the rolls? No one has suffered greater pecuniary loss than I have through mistakes of the Electoral Department; but I say of its officers that they are clean and above-board, and are doing their work in a splendid manner.
– They recommend the clause to which the honorable member’ is objecting.
– I was referring to the Electoral officers in my own constituency.
-The same remark applies to the. officials in the, head office.
– On. this matter: they are taking a very restricted view. Do the Government intend to abolish absentee voting?
– There is no such intention.
– There is a risk of that happening in practice. One Presiding Officer may say that he is too busy to supply an absentee ballot-paper, whilst some other Presiding Officer will courteously issue the paper. Thus one man will get an absentee vote, whilst the other, though equally entitled to it, will be refused. I have had some experience of these cases. It was largely due to the refusal of a Presiding Officer to issue absentee ballot-papers that I was put out of this House for six months, and forced to incur the cost of an appeal to the High Court and a by-election. I do not wish to leave it in the discretion of any Pre siding Officer tat say whether ; or not a person shall be allowed to. exercise: an absentee vote. .
.- I thoroughly agree, with the remarks, of the honorable memberfor Gippsland (Mr. Wise). In order that the wording, of,the clause may be definite, I would, sooner that it proposed to insert the. words “ shall not.” than. “ may.” There should be no discretionary power given to the Presiding Officer in a matter of this kind.. I support the retention of the existing mandatory provision.
– The defect which this clause is designed to remedy has been revealed by experience in administration, but I will not press the clause on the Committee, beyond warning them of the danger under the present law of an election being invalidated through a technical refusal to supply absentee ballotpapers.
Clauses . 14 to 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 (Informal ballot- papers).
– I omitted to explain, when moving the second reading, that the purpose of this clause is to disallow the use of- the cross in the marking of a ballot-paper. When Parliament originally adopted the system of indicating the vote by numerals, it was suggested that the- people might be confused by the new system, and that’ it would be well, in- an election for the- House of Representatives, where there are only two candidates to allow the voter to also put a cross opposite the name of the candidate he favoured. The operation, of two methods of marking is only leading to confusion-, as was declared in connexion with the disputed Ballarat election. Everybody is now conversant with the system of showing the preference by the marking of numerals, and this clause, therefore, proposes to strike out the optional use of the cross.
– What is the elector to do: in a straight-out fight between two candidates ?
– He must indicate his preference by marking 1 and 2 opposite the name of the candidates.
.- The Committee should understand clearly what votes will be formal in an election in which there are only two candidates. In the Ballarat election a number of ballot-papers were marked with the figure 1 opposite the name Kerby, and a cross opposite the name McGrath, and vice versa. Those votes were declared to be informal, and, I think, rightly so, because it was impossible to determine the intention of the voter. A number of other electors indicated their votes by marking 1 or a cross opposite the name of the preferred candidate, or struck out the name of the candidate for whom they did not wish to vote. We should understand whether such votes will be formal or informal. I think they should be allowed, because the intention of the voter is clearly indicated in all those methods.
– What did the Court’ say?
– It allowed the votes, because the intention of the voter was clear.
– This clause is only abolishing the use of the cross. Otherwise the law will remain as it is.
– If an elector signifies his preference by merely putting a cross opposite the name of one candidate will his vote be formal?
– No; we are to have only one method of marking, and that is by the use of numerals.
– And what will hap: pen if, in a two-party contest, the voter crosses out the’ name of one candidate?
– That vote will be informal.
– I do not think J it should be, because the intention of the elector will be clearly expressed.
.- At the present time when there are only two candidates an elector has the option of indicating his choice, either by placing a cross in the square opposite the name of the candidate for whom he wishes to vote, or by placing the numeral 1 there.
– But this option has been found to cause confusion.
– I do not think that it can. To deprive electors of the right to use a cross, when there are only two candidates, would have the effect of making informal many ballot-papers that should be formal, because they clearly express the will of the elector.
– An elector may mark with a cross and with the numeral 1 as well.
– If a ballot-paper containing the names of two candidates is marked with a cross against one name and the numeral 1 against the other, it is rightly treated as informal, but we should not, because of such informalities as that, take away the privilege that the electors now enjoy* We should treat as formal, so far as that is possible, every ballot-paper in regard to which the intention of the voter is ascertainable by the application of common sense; we should not make ballot-papers informal for mere technical reasons. Whenever the intention of the elector is discernible, his ballot-paper should be treated as formal.
– An elector might put a cross against the candidate against whom he wished to vote.
– Of course, no one can read another person’s mind, and there will always be informalities. Similarly we cannot remedy mistakes such as are made when a voter numbers his ballotpaper in an order which* does not express his true preference. We can only take the marking on a ballot-paper as it stands, and if it clearly indicates a choice on the part of the voter the paper should be treated as formal. Where there are only two candidates standing, there is no need to mark the order of preference by using the numerals 1 and 2. To declare informal a ballot-paper which clearly indicates the choice of the voter is to rob a voter of his franchise.
– If a voter placed the numeral 1 against one of the names, would not that clearly indicate his choice, even though he put a cross against the other name?
– No, because the cross and the numeral 1 are of the same value, and, therefore, it would be impossible to say which candidate was his choice.
– When issuing instructions about a method to be followed, is it not better to have only one form?
– Yes, and in my electoral campaigns I take pains to see that only one method of voting is spoken of; but why should we declare informal a ballot-paper which clearly indicates the wish of the voter ? This is a matter quite apart from the issuing of instructions for voting.
– I would remind the Committee what a narrow right this marking with a cross is. The Act provides that in an election for the House of Representatives at which there are not more than two candidates, /the voter’s preference shall be deemed to be sufficiently indicated by a mark showing his first preference, and that the placing of a cross in the square opposite the name of one candidate shall be deemed to indicate that that candidate is the voter’s first preference. It is only in the case in which there are not more than two candidates that’ the voters have the option of using a cross or the figure 1. The effect of this option has been to make many votes informal, and thus to deprive many voters of the franchise.
– The electors do not read the Electoral Act, and few of them know of the option.
– I have heard the option mentioned on the public platform, and I know that its existence leads to errors in voting.
– When there are only two candidates, what happens if the voter marks a cross against the name of one, and does not place a mark against the name of the other?
– As the law stands, the vote would be valid ; but it is proposed to take away the right to mark with a cross.
– One objection to the present method is that it allows two styles of marking ballot-papers - one for the Senate, and the other for the House of Representatives.
– Yes, and it is always a mistake to have two methods of marking. The present arrangement is intended merely to cover a transitional period. Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
I am impelled by some of the ballot-papers I have seen to observe that it is possible that some of the voters have been misled as to the use of a cross. When they have placed a 1 for one candidate, and a cross for the other, it might be conjectured that they thought that they were simply crossing out and voting against the other candidate. That being only conjecture, I am not entitled to act on it in deciding this case. But the possibility might be guarded against for the future. It is noticeable that, although section 133 provides for a cross in substitution of the figure 1 in the cases mentioned, there is no reference to that in the ballot-paper, Form F in the schedule.. Perhaps some means of informing electors of the law as to the use of a cross may be desirable.
The amendment is recommended by the officers responsible for the working of the Electoral Act, who say that it is desirable that we should have only one method of marking ballot-papers.
.- The effect of the amendment would be to rob some voters of the franchise. At the present time, when there are only two candidates standing, a cross placed in the square opposite the name of one of them makes a ballot-paper valid, but, under the law as it is proposed to amend it, such a ballot-paper would .be invalid. The Minister holds that confusion is caused by permitting two methods of marking ballot-papers, but I do not think that he is right, because the electors are not instructed that they may use either of two methods. The provision which it is proposed to amend is a. provision governing only the counting of ballotpapers.
– Still, its existence is known.
– Only by those who have made a close study of the Act. ‘ I cannot imagine that any one would directelectors to mark their ballot-papers with a cross. Even if the amendment were carried, there would still remain an inconsistency in the method of marking: ballot-papers, because where there are only two candidates the elector is allowed to indicate his preference by placing the numeral 1 opposite the name of the candidate for whom he wishes to vote, and leaving the other name unmarked; whereas, if there are three candidates, he must mark all three names in the order of his preference - 1, 2, and 3. This inconsistency has led some voters to think that it is sufficient, where there are three candidates, to set the figures 1 and 2 against their first and second choice, leaving the third name unmarked. Such ballot-papers are informal, though they should, I think, be counted, because they clearly indicate the intention of the voter. Confusion also arises because where there are several candidates the elector is instructed to mark his first preference with the figure 1 and his following preferences with the figures 2, 3, 4, and. so; on. As the figure 1 is printed in smaller and lighter type than theother figures, a number of voters have marked their ballot-papers 2, 3, 4, and so on, without using the figure 1 to indicate theirfirst preference. In the Yarra by election a numberof ballot-papers were, according to the Returning Officer; thus rendered informal. The intention is to compel the electors to express their preference, and surely it is fair where a cross indicates the first preference of the voter in a casein whichthere are not more than two candidates to treat the ballot-paper as formal. There are many organizationsan which people still vote by using the cross.
– Ifthere are three candidates, would the honorable member, permit the voter to indicate his first preference by a cross?
Mr.SCULLIN. - I would not allow theuseofa cross where there are more than two candidates. In the South Australian State elections thecross is still in use. If the people of South Australia are accustomed to indicate their first preference by the use of the cross in State elections, they are likely to use it in Federal elections, and it would be hard to disfranchise them for doing so, particularly when nothing would be gained by insisting on the use of the figure 1. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Wise) says that it would be a disadvantage to have two systems of voting - one for the House of Representatives and one for the Senate ; but we already distinguish betweenballot-papers with two names and ballot-papers with more than two names. We should follow the broad principle that wherever there is no ambiguity as to the clear intention of. the voter the vote should be allowed. Nothing should prevent the clear intention of the elector being carried out.
. -I would be very loath indeed to deprive any elector of his right to have his vote recorded where his intention is perfectly clear ; but the number of informal votes at every election is astonishing, and; we shall never obviate the trouble in. this regard until we have uniformity in the electoral laws of Australia-.. Unfortunately, some States adopt one. method of expressing voters’ preferences, while: local bodies in those States adoptanother- system, and the Federal method differs from either. We shall never educate theelectors to that standard which will allow them to record their votes clearly until we have greater uniformity. The amendment now sought to be inserted inthe Bill is justified for thatreason. We cannot control the electoral laws of the States or the voting systems adoptedby local bodies’ in the States, but we can have uniformity in our own voting system. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has shown that where there are threes candidates, and the third preference is not expreessd on the ballotpaper, the vote is informal. The Attorney General (Mr. Groom) has pointed out that where there are two candidates the ballot-paper is formal if the second preference is not shown: The only way out of the difficulty is to make it compulsory that the voter should indicate his orderof preference right through, whether there are only two candidates or more . The only means by which we can obviate informal votes is by educating the electors to observe one system only. While we are so jealous of the secrecy of the ballot we must continue to. have informal votes, but those are recorded mostly by electors who are voting, at a Federal election for the first time.
Mr.Fleming. - Howcan we get uniformity ?
– Wecannot control State laws, but we can make our own voting system, uniform in the hope that ultimately, the States, will alsoadoptit. Tasmania, has already done so. We should start at once by prescribing the compulsory use of our own system of expressing voters’ preferences, and abide by it.
– I hope that the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) will not persist with this proposal. We should be striving to afford facilities for voting instead of curtailing them.
– We are not curtailing them ; we areenveavouring to have less informal votes recorded than we have at present.
– In the case of the Ballarat byelection the Judge ruled that if a voter placed a cross alongside one candidate’s name and nothing opposite the other candidate’s name, the votewasa valid one. But now theMinister. proposes to alter that. I under- stood, also, that the Judge said that arrangements should be made to remove all doubt in the event of a ballot-paper being marked in this way.
– The Judge did not allow votes where the voters had exercisedboth options, that is to say, wherethey had put the cross opposite one candidate’s name and the figure 1 opposite the other candidate’s name.
-If a Judge has decided that a voter may express his first preference by a cross where there are two candidates land if the Act already provides that. this may be done, why is there any necessity for altering the system ?
– The electors will need to be educated afresh.
Mr.PARKER MOLONEY. - Yes. It has gone all over Australia that this method of voting is permissible, and people will go to the next election believing that it still exists, only to ‘find themselves disfranchised. In past years, the method of voting was to put a cross opposite the candidate’s name, but now the voters are tobe asked to insert figures instead of a cross. At every election there is a. new system of voting.It is time we settled down tosome recognised method.
-That is the intentionof the present proposal.
– But the Minister proposesto altera system which hasbeen recognisedas aproper ‘method and has been allowed in thecase of the Ballarat by-election ‘as af air ‘means of indicating theintention of the voter.
– Many people believe that by putting a cross opposite a candidate’s name they are voting him out.
– I think those are exceptions to the rule. The’ marking of a cross has been the method in the past, and the many, informalvotes are due to the fact that ; the system has been so frequently (altered. There are old people, perhaps notnowable read, -who are so much accustomedto the old method that they will find muchtrouble in gettingaway from it; and I do not think they oughtto be disfranchisedif they plainly indicate , theirchoice.
-ThePresidingOfficers could see, their papers, andputthemrightwhere they are wrong.
– There are manyrestrictions in regard to advising an elector how to vote, and, as I am reminded, the honorablemember’s suggestion would, to an extent, do away with the ‘secrecy of the ballot. We ought to extend, and not curtail electoral privileges.
.- The electoral method ought to be such as to give the fullest and freest expression of the will of the people. The argument put forward that where there are only two candidates, and where one of these only is marked, the marking shouldbe taken as an indication of the voter’s intention, is, in my opinion, a correct one. Of course, wherethere are more than two candidates, it is essential’thatnumbers should be marked, but it by nomeansfollows that, in the case of only two candidates, -the marking’ of numbers is necessary.If an elector has grown up under the oldsystem of ‘making across,I see no reason why we should nowput him ina position where he is likely to cast an informal vote. ‘The proposed amendment of the Act appears to me a restriction of that freedomwhich the people should have to express their desire, and will lead ‘to moreconfusion in a system alreadyconfused enough. ‘There have been so many different systems of marking ballot-papers that it is very difficult for some people toknow quite what to do. It is ourplace to make voting as simpleas possible, and I hope the Minister (Mr.Groom) will not adhereto the proposed amendment, whichwould merely havethe effect of depriving a number of honest citizen sof the opportunity to express their choice.. Of course, the opportunity to express their choice is there, but in practice there are many thousandinformal votes, a great number of which are due toconfusion in the minds of the electors as to how to mark the papers. It has been laiddown byReturning Officers, : over and over again, that, solong asvoting paper clearly indicates theelector’spreference, itshouldstand, and Iseeno reason f or departing from that view.
Mr.CONSIDINE (Barrier) [5.10].- I join with other honorable membersin their efforts to persuade the Minister (Mr. Groom)not to make itmore difficult than itis at present for an elector to indicate his choice. There is; no doubt about the confusion in the minds of a great number of electors as to the preferential system. Last election was the only experience we have had of the system for this Parliament, and I know that about 300 votes which were cast for me were declared informal, owing to confusion on the part of. the electors as to how the numerals should be marked.
– How many candidates were there?
– There were three, and I am merely pointing out that at least 300 people were under the impression that if they marked numerals opposite candidates other than myself, they would be giving some support to those candidates, and, therefore, they marked no numerals opposite their names, simply putting No. 1 opposite mine. “We all know how difficult it is, in view of the many changes in the electoral system, to remove the confusion in the minds of electors as to the correct method of marking papers. A voting »paper ought to be accepted so long as it clearly indicates the intention of the elector, whether the elector makes a cross, strikes out the names of the candidates he does not favour, or puts a cross or a numeral in front of the candidate he does favour.
– But what when three candidates are running?
– I candidly admit that in the case of three candidates we cannot have preferential voting without a system of indicating the preferences, but I see no necessity for placing obstacles in the way of electors when there are only two candidates. Why make any change from the system carried out at the last election ? This continual tinkering with the methods of election only creates, rightly or wrongly, an impression that the particular Government which is responsible for it is deliberately trying to confuse the electors.
– This amendment is to avoid existing confusion.
– We have to deal with things as they are, and not as they might’ be.
– The two systems lead to many informal votes, which we desire to prevent.
– In my opinion, the amendment only makes confusion worse confounded.
– The amendment will prevent confusion, but the honorable member wishes the Presiding Officer to interpret an elector’s intention where there is confusion.
– No, the amendment will not do away with confusion, but will disfranchise certain people although their intention is unquestioned. What necessity is there for the amendment?
– Uniformity is like the blessed word “ Mesopotamia “ - it covers a multitude of sins. The Minister has not given us a vestige of argument in support of his proposal; and, in any case, he has nothing to lose by retaining the present method.
– It is a question of what the electors have to gain.
– As a matter of fact, at every election we find people who are so confused that they do not know whether the candidates are standing for the State Parliament or the Federal Parliament. There is nothing to be gained and something to be lost by the change proposed.
.- I urge the Minister (Mr. Groom) to reconsider his intention to proceed with this amendment. Although the amendment might make the Act uniform, the fact remains that the State and municipal elections are conducted with a different system of marking. If there were, as I hope there will be before long, a common electoral authority throughout the Commonwealth, I would heartily support the change, but to adopt the amendment under present circumstances would disfranchise many people because of the different systems in use.
.- I do not approve of disturbing a vote where a voter’s intention is clear, but we have heard a good deal of the confusion which exists owing largely to the fact that one of two systems of voting may be used. At present it is the law that a cross may be used where there are only two candidates, and the electors, although they know this, unfortunately use the cross where there are more than two candidates. The Minister (Mr. Groom) and the Federal authorities claim that this confusion in the minds of the electors would be dispelled if all voters had to put their votes in numerical order. If the law strictly provided that the marking of ballotpapers with crosses would render those papers informal, more valid votes would probably be cast than if electors were still permitted to make a cross. I presume that where there are only two candidates for one seat, if the name of one is erased, and there is no other mark on the ballotpaper, the vote will be regarded as valid.
– If an elector strikes cut one name only, or puts a cross against one of the two names, his vote will not be valid, for the reason that his paper has not been marked in accordance with the directions of the Act.
– That has not been the interpretation.
– I understand that the High Court ruled, in the case arising out of the last Ballarat election, that if there are only two candidatesfor one seat, and one name is struck out, and there is no other mark upon the ballot-paper, the vote should be accepted as valid for the reason that the ballot-paper clearly indicates that the elector intended to vote for the candidate whose name had not been struck out. It has always been the practice of Returning Officers to accept ballotpapers in respect of which the intentions of electors are clear. Electors are now aware that, in certain cases, they may mark their ballot-papers with a cross. However, in many instances, ballot-papers are wrongly marked with a cross; for example, in respect of elections where more than two candidates are seeking to secure one seat. The consequence is that many votes are informal, Upon first examining this clause I was not impressed with the Government’s proposal, but I perceive that unless electors are informed that they may not in any circumstances mark their ballot-papers with a cross, numerous invalid votes will be cast. For that reason I shall support the Government’s proposal.
.- All parties will join in scouring any proper means for the prevention of informal voting.
– Then all parties desire to bring about a system of voting which cannot possibly lead to confusion.
– In my view, members of this House are as much experienced in elections as are many Returning Officers.
Probably their experience is as wide as is that of the officials who made the proposal now before the Committee. The bulk of the people are used to a certain method of voting. “Very many electors are accustomed to mark their ballot-papers with a cross. The public generally do not attend political meetings; that applies particularly to country residents. Their habit is to mark their papers with a cross before the name of the candidate whom they favour. If that method of voting is dome away with, informal votes will grow enormously in volume. Where the intention of a voter is clear his vote should be accepted as formal.
– Suppose that an elector places a nought before the name of a candidate ?
– His vote would be informal. Electors have been trained to mark their papers with a cross. That is the principle in vogue in South Australia, and in many municipalities. If all the State systems of voting were made uniform with that of the Commonwealth, there would be fewer mistakes, and less informal votes would be cast. The Government should not seek to interfere with the existing method. At present, there is no doubt. that if an elector marks the name of one of two candidates with a cross his vote is accepted by the Returning Officer.
– The innovation proposed by the Government is of a somewhat serious character, particularly since it is sought to be introduced on the eve of a general election. We are about to tell the people that if they vote as theyhave done at previous elections their papers will be regarded as informal. It is all very well’ to say that we should educate the electors. Less than 10 per cent. of them attend election meetings. At the last election the public understood that, in respect of any division where there were only two candidates for one seat, their ballot-papers would be formal if they placed a cross in front of the name of the candidate whom they favoured. I am confident that if a dispute should arise over the forthcoming elections, the Court would support the decision given in the Ballarat dispute, when it was properly held that where the intention of the voter was clearly indicated his ballotpaper should be regarded as valid. The Judge thus interpreted the common-sense view, if not the strict letter, of the law. If we now decide that the old system may no longer be employed, informal votes will, number thousands more than, would, otherwise be the case. One reason . why I advocated postal voting was that I held that every facility should be given to electors. The Government now propose to withdraw a facility.
– Wemust begin to educate the electors at. some. time.
– The present moment is not appropriate.
– But if electors are educated to a new system of voting long before an election takes place, they will have forgotten their lesson when they go to the poll.
– I think not. The system of voting in Tasmania is taught children upon school blackboards. Although some honorable members remarked yesterday that the proportional voting system, if adopted throughout the Commonwealth, would involve an enormous increase of informal votes, Iwould point out that the percentage of these is lower in Tasmania than in any of the other States. Rightly or wrongly, we have been allowing electors, when there are only two candidates, to express their preference either by marking a cross as is done in connexion with State elections in South Australia, or by marking No. 1 opposite the name of the favoured candidate.This clause will ‘not produce uniformity. What is the use of honorable members saying that they want uniformity in the method of voting for the House of Representatives and the Senate when they have agreed to a system of groupingSenate candidates according to their party adherence, and candidates for the House of Representatives in alphabetical order? I. prophesy that this’, differentiation will lead to greater confusion than will the continuance of the cross as an alternative method to the numeral for signifying the intention of the elector.
-We could not have grouping for the House of Representatives candidates because of the single member constituencies.
– If there are five or six candidates, representing two or three parties, for a seat in the House ofRepresentatives, there is just as much reason for grouping them- according- to parties as. there is for. grouping Senate candidates in that way. I know one electorate in which probably five or six candidates, representing at least three parties, will nominate-. The present system of marking a cross against the preferred candidate has obtained’ for years without creating any serious disadvantage. The people have been educated in the belief that they can express their preference by a cross or by a numeral. Now, on the eve of an election, they are to be told that the use of the cross will render their votes informal.
-Under the present law the cross can be used only in elections in which there are not more than two candidates.
-A vote should be accepted as formal if the intenttion of the elector is clearlyindicated. In this attempt to secure uniformity - which is impossible-, because of the recent adoption of the party grouping sysem for Senate elections - there will be a very great risk of depriving a considerable number of electors of their votes. Already there, is difficulty in inducing people to go to the poll. In the cities electors will not vote at all unless motor cars are sent to their homes. The number of non-voters and informal votes are sufficiently large already, and this clause will deliberately increase’ the number of the latter. We are asked to pay too great a price for so-called uniformity.
.Anything I can do to enforce- uniformity in the method of voting throughout the Commonwealth I shall do. At the present time Tasmania has the preferential and proportional systems, and- the voter indicates his preference by writing the numerals 1, 2, 3, &c. Victoria and Western Australia also have the preferential system. New South Wales operates the preferential and proportional representation systems, whilst Queensland has an optional system. South Australia is the only State in. which, the voter may indicate his preference only by marking, a cross opposite the name of the candidate. The sooner that State is brought into line with the other States the better. I look forward. ‘to. the time when all elections, Federal, State, and municipal, will be conducted on the preferential and proportional systems. Some honorable members have stressed the risk, of depriving people of their votes. Any person who cannot understand a ballotpaper, or the explanatory cards that are issued by the candidates, is not enticed, to have a vote.
– Because some people are not as literate as the honorable member they are to be disfranchised. It is much easier for them to make a cross than to write numerals.
-,-! doubt’ very much that it is .more difficult to . make the figure 1 than it is to make .a -cross, as the matter ‘concerns the case ‘when only two candidates .are (standing. .’Any person who is in doubt as to how to vote can .consult the’ Returning Officer, and have his vote marked for him in confidence. The argument ‘that some persons will be deprived of their votes entirely fails. Seeing that only one State uses the cross exclusively, and in one other State its use is optional, I think this clause, which aims at uniformity, should -be agreed to.
Question - That the clause be agreed to put The Committee divided.
Hoes….. . . 20
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 19 to 23. agreed to.
Clause 24 negatived.
Clauses 25 and 26 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 27 .(Immaterial errors not to vitiate election).
– The honorable member will recollect that Mr. Justice Isaacs, in the case of Keon versus Kerby, pointed out the distinction between the English and the Commonwealth law in this matter. He said -
The Australian Act ‘differs very considerably from tile English legislation in several respects ‘ relevant to this case. Particularly, I refer -to the duty of the Court in the case of official errors. In ‘England, it is enacted that no election shall be declared invalid by reason of non-compliance with the election rules or mistake in the use of the forms,’ if it ‘appears to the Tribunal : (1) that the election was. conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the body of the Act; and (2) that such non-compliance or ‘mistake did not affect the result of the election. In other words, if the matter is left so that the mistake may have affected the result, the election may be declared invalid. Under our Act it is different. By section 194 it is -provided that “no election shall be, avoided . . . .on account of the> . . error of .any . officer which shall not be proved to have, affected the result of the election.”
This clause brings our law into conformity with the English law.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2.8 agreed to.
Clause 29 negatived.
Clause 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted: - [jj; “1a. The several sections of this Act shall commence on such dates as are respectively fixed by proclamation.”
– Notice of his intention to move the insertion of two new clauses was given by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), who, unfortunately, is prevented -by illness from being with us to-day. It is not my intention to move the first of those amendments, but I shall ask the Committee to give effect to the second. I move - That the following new clause be inserted: - “ lc. After section 19 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - ‘19a. The Distribution Commissioners shall determine which districts in each State are metropolitan districts, and which are country districts, and shall fix the average quota of electorates in country districts at from 20 to 25 per cent, less than the average quota for metropolitan districts.’ “
In a sparsely populated country like Australia, those who live in the rural districts, and especially those far away in the back-blocks, are under great disadvantages as compared with the residents of the cities. Among these disadvantages is the difficulty of recording their votes. An elector residing in a city electoral division can get easily to a polling booth by paying twopence for a tram ride, or he may be taken there in a motor car, but the case of the country elector is very different. The gathering together of population in the cities is likely to be a source of weakness to Australia. The disproportion of city and country population is apparent in every State of the Commonwealth, and even in Tasmania, but it is especially noticeable -in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. In some of the States more than half the population resides in the capitals. This gives city residents an enormous preponderance of political power, and I would therefore desire to have it enacted that in future electoral redistributions an attempt shall be made to equalize the political power of the city and country electors by making a difference of at least one-fifth between the city and country divisional quotas. Although part of my own electorate is suburban, I represent a country area also, and I am well acquainted with the disabilities of country residents, whether they be workers or employers. The city worker is an aristocrat compared with the country worker. In many parts of Tasmania, during more than half the year, the timber-getters are wet through with the first blow of their axe on a tree, and remain wet all day, and other country workers suffer similar discomforts, besides being enormously handicapped in many ways. It is not right, nor in the interests of Australia, that the residents in the cities should have so much political power. But the only way in which we can equalize the political powers of city and country constituencies is to make the quota for country electorates 20 or 25 per cent, lower than that for city electorates. It will be for the Electoral Commissioners to decide which are metropolitan and which are rural electorates.
.- I support the. amendment submitted by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) on behalf of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). If the Committee takes the matter into reasonable consideration, it will see the soundness of the claim that the Distribution Commissioners must discriminate in favour of rural districts as against metropolitan areas to the extent of giving them a quota, margin of 20 or 25 per cent. less. It is physically impossible for the representative of a vast area of country to consult the wishes of his constituents in the way that the member representing a congested metropolitan area is able to do. The people the amendment is sought to benefit are those whose important function it is to develop Australia,, and as we are asking immigrants to come here and assist in that task, wa ought to see that their requirements are fairly represented in this House. I would rather represent 40,000 in a metropolitan constituency than 30,000 persons distributed over my own electorate.
– What does the honorable member regard as metropolitan districts in Western Australia?
– The Perth and Fremantle electorates are metropolitan districts, and the representative of either division can do all his electioneering business, and attend to the whole of his constituents’ requirements, by making use of the train service, whereas I am obliged to travel 3,000 miles to visit the townships in my electorate. I have to keep in constant communication with the varied interests of these numerous townships. The needs of country districts in the matter of telephone communication differ widely from those of metropolitan areas. The labouring people in rural districts cannot organize or attend to their needs as can be done by the workers in metropolitan areas. Nor can their member represent their varied needs as they would wish them, to be made known. To do ordinary justice, discrimination should be shown in the arrangement of electoral boundaries to the extent indicated in the amendment. In fact, those who framed the Constitution really had in their minds the need for. this. I trust that the Attorney General (Mr. Groom,) will give the amendment serious Consideration, and see his way clear to accept it.
– I cannot see my way clear to accept the amendment. It attempts to fix by Statute an arbitrary dividing line between country and city, as if there are conflicting interests between the two, whereas they both have interests in common. It also seeks to lay down the very undesirable principle of applying an arbitrary statutory limit to the Commonwealth as a whole, quite oblivious of the varying geographical conditions in the States. For instance, the conditions in Western Australia and Queensland differ considerably from those in Victoria. The provision already laid down in the Act, which allows a margin of 20 per cent., is preferable. The Distribution Commissioners have already exercised their discretion in this regard in their endeavour to frame constituencies to meet the varying conditions to which I have just referred.
– Did they do it in connexion with the Wannon electorate?
– They have done it ir connexion with the New South Wales electorates, and they also exercised the discretion allowed to them under the Act when they were drawing up their second Victorian distribution. In any case, if Parliament considers that the Commissioners have erred in the exercise of their discretion, it has the right of rejecting their distribution. In fact, it has already exercised that right. However, the main point is that, in a vast con tinent, with so many varying conditions, a considerable amount of elasticity must be allowed to the Distribution Commissioners, whereas the amendment would make the rule too rigid. Under the law as it now stands, in making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions, the Distribution Commissioners are obliged to give due consideration to community or diversity of interests, means of communication, physical features, existing boundaries of divisions 4ind subdivisions, and State electoral boundaries; and they are empowered to depart from the quota to the extent of one-fifth more or one-fifth less. That is to say, they are allowed a margin of 30 per cent., whereas the amendment proposes, in an arbitrary fashion, that the Commissioners shall fix the average quota of electors in country districts at from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, less than the average quota for metropolitan districts, permitting no elasticity to meet the varying conditions in the States. Mr. PROWSE - But the Commissioners have not been seised with the importance of the provision which gives them the right to depart from the quota.
– Even if they have not, it would be a mistake to err the other way, and insert a, stereotyped provision in the Act which would make the position worse.
.- In discussing this matter we should remember what the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) said when quite recently the redistribution of the Victorian electorates was under consideration. Because the Act, as it stands, is capable of being read in a variety of ways, the Distribution Commissioners in the various States have taken a different view of their responsibilities and duties, and, as a. result, we find that what is asked to be done by the amendment was actually carried out by the Commissioners in NewSouth Wales, and, to some extent, also in Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia, whereas, in Victoria, the Commissioners took up the attitude that it was not possible for them to do just as they pleased in this connexion. Community or diversity of interests, means of communication,, physical features, existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions bad no relationship whatever to the electoral boundaries in their scheme of distribution.
– There was nothing ito indicate that they acted on any principle which differed from that adopted by the Commissioners in other States.
– In every other State the extra metropolitan or country constituencies contain a very much smaller quota than do the’ metropolitan constituencies, but in Victoria the electoral division with the largest area was given the largest number of electors. Fortunately this House expressed a very strong opinion upon the matter, and this defect was remedied in the Commissioners’ second proposals.
– Which indicates that the provision in the Act is quite sufficient in itself.
– No. The AttorneyGeneral said that we had no right to give any direction to the Commissioners.
– I said that we had merely the right of rejection. I said that it was wrong for us to attempt to assume the functions of Distribution Commissioners and give a direction. We had merely the power to refer back.
– It :is the function of this Parliament to lay down the principle on which it expects a distribution to be carried out, and if there is evidence that the Commissioners in one State, have followed lines different from those adopted in other States, surely itis the proper function of Parliament to decide the exact verbiage that should be used in making its meaning absolutely clear. It was only after ‘honorable members in this House had expressed their views upon the Victorian distribution that the Commissioners’ proposals were taken back and carried out on the lines suggested, which the Attorney-General now says are expressly provided for in this section of the Act. If the Minister can suggest any means by which the expressed intention of ‘Parliament can be carried into’ effect in every State in the case of a redistribution, the amendment could be withdrawn, but otherwise I think it should be carried to a vote, because the section -of ‘ the Act does not1 really carry the margin as far as it is possible to do according to the interpretation placed upon the provision by the New South Wales Distribution Commissioners.
.- I do not propose to support the amendment- I quite well remember the discussion that took place upon the inequalities of the Victorian distributions. It was pointed out as being rather curious and open to criticism that the electorate which geographically was the largest in Victoria should also have the largest quota of electors. I supported the proposal while it enabled the Commissioners to exercise the discretion they have under the Act, if they so desired, in favour df country districts in particular instances, but T do not propose to ‘lay down as a principle any infraction of the “much older and sounder principle of one-vote-one– value.
– The franchise is. not of the same, value in the country as in the cities; a country elector cannot exercise it so well.
– We cannot afford to use our electoral system as a ‘decentralizing agency.
– But did not the honorable member vote for the representation of the Northern Territory with 1,700 votes?
– I did. Mr. Prowse. - Why?
– I ‘explained’ as well as I could the -reasons -which moved me to do so. There ‘were very special reasons, and there was no other method of having the Northern Territory effectively represented in, this’ Chamber. I was careful to point out, however, ‘that I quite realized the very strong objection that could be raised on the ‘ground that we were violating’ -the principle of onevoteone value, and that it ‘was a just criticism that ‘we were ‘ proposing to allow a representative to come into’ this chamber, who spoke for 1*700 or 1,800 voters, whereas other representatives > spoke for varying numbers over 40,000. , I admitted that that was an inequality, but I .said, and I repeat, that we had to choose the lesser of two evils, and. the . greater evil’ was to altogether disfranchise those persons. Inequality is wrong-, but total disfranchisement is the greater wrong, and I. pressed the argument to the extent of .saying that the enfranchisement was useless if it did not give the representative the right to vote.
– There are better cases than that!
– The honorable member’s case is a definite and considered attack on the principle of onevoteonevalue, and I shall not go one inch beyond that measure of flexibility which at present exists in the Act and the Constitution and enables- the Distributing Commissioners to vary the quota to the extent of one-fifth on principles that are laid down in the Act. That does not mean that the Commissioners are invited to say that country districts shall, have greater representation than city interests that principle is not affirmed for a- moment. But there is a give and take permissible1 to the Commissioners on the ground of community of interests, and a number of other grounds, which they are entitled to consider. They are not entitled, however, to accept the principle* that we are decentralizing agents, . and entitled to say tha tj because a district is. j country district, it is, therefore, entitled to more representation in Parliament, than is a metropolitan district. I was one who held that- there? was a curious- anomaly, m that the Commissioners had used their discretion in a way which resulted in a large tract of country having. a very large number of electors, by comparison with others. It was the view of some of us that the flexible provisions- of the Act might well have been employed to make the position otherwise. But the point that the honorable member now wishes to make is something quite different, and is objectionable from our point of view. We believe in the principle of onevoteonevalue. Residents in the city have their advantages and their disadvantages. I do- not accept the view that the people of the country cannot record, their votes. They have the advantages of country life, which they go to the country to- enjoy, and. they have their facilities of communication.
– And when they come to town they are only too glad to get back again !
– Very often. I need not labour the matter further than to say that to interpret the- existing, provisions as- favorably as possible to country interests is quite different from establishing the principle, as a fixed injunction on the Commissioners, that they are to say that country districts must- have more representation than city districts. That principle I cannot agree to.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr: Brennan) has made- much of the principle of one- vote-one-value ; but really what is at the bottom of the idea is to furnish an equal value of the franchise to each individual. No- one can reasonably claim that at present the person living in a distant country electorate has the same facilities for recording his- vote as has; a person in town. The aim is, as far1 as possible, to get an equality of value in the franchise. The proposal this afternoon is not a danger from that: point of view, for it. goes no further than does the present Act.
– It does not go so far.
– It does not go so far;, but it does lay down definitely what is not, perhaps, correct in theory, according to the honorable member for Batman, but is certainly found correct in practice. Any one who has lived, in the country and in. the city knows, whether ho admits it or. not, that the man in the country, or the woman, particularly, has not. anything like the same opportunities for recording the vote as has the man or woman in town. All that we are asking is that the value of the franchise in each case shall be made as nearly equal as possible. If a man is given a -thing he cannot use it is of little value, and we wish to make the franchise of equal value to every individual. The votes will still remain at equal value - we do not propose to interfere in any way with the value- of the vote, for that is a question which is settled for good and all. We have- agreed that one-vote-one-value is the correct idea, and in common honesty we wish to make the franchise of equal value to every man and woman in Australia. That is all the amendment proposes. If honorable members will look at the amendment from a practical stand-point, instead of harping on the- theoretical side, they will see that, the proposal is abundantly justified.
Sitting suspended from. 6.30 to- 8 p.m.
.- I am opposed to the proposed- new clause of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). It is wrong in principle. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) rather- cleverly endeavoured to prove that there was some great principle involved in it; but such is not the case. The basic principles of the Act are, one adult one vote. and one-vote-one-value. The Act is elastic in the matter of its provision respecting the numbers of electors in a division. The suggested new section would withdraw that elasticity, and make the Act rigid. The honorable member for Robertson, in endeavouring to counter the argument respecting the principle of one-vote-one-value, held that the principle underlying the proposal of the honorable member for Dampier was that it sought to make votes of equal value.
– I said, “ to make .the franchise of equal value.”
– No one will dispute that greater facilities are provided for voting in metropolitan areas than in country divisions. But if the matter of difficulty in getting to the poll is to be taken into consideration, it would be logically necessary to instruct the Commissioners, further, to provide a smaller number of electors in Gippsland, for example, than in Corio; for the latter division has far greater facilities for travel. If areas are to be consulted it would be necessary to give to divisions in Queensland and Western Australia ten times fewer electors than to those in Victoria. The honorable member for Robertson said that, under existing facilities for voting, electors in some parts of the country are actually unable to attend a polling booth in order to record their votes. If the proposal under review is embraced in the Act the votes of those people will be given no greater value than they possess to-day. That is to say, they are of no value whatever, since they are not recorded.
– The honorable member is misquoting me.
– The honorable member said that there were many people who were unable on polling day to record their votes. How can their case be met by instructing the Commissioners to decrease the numbers of electors in country divisions? And in what manner should the Commissioners be instructed in respect of such electorates as Corio, Ballarat, and Bendigo? Are they to be regarded as country, or as city electorates? There are some country divisions in which the facilities for voting over the greater part of their area, at any rate, are similar to those provided in metropolitan divisions. Honorable members on this side have said that where any degree of elasticity may be observed it should be in favour of country divisions; and that, of course, has been recently availed of. However, to make it mandatory that country electorates shall be smaller numerically than metropolitan is vicious in principle, and cannot be logically applied.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 31a. Section 135 of the principal Act is amended by -
1 ) omitting the words “ Divisional Re turning Officer” in paragraph (h) of sub-section (1), and inserting in their stead the words “ Commonwealth Electoral Officer.”
omitting sub-sections (2) to (14) in clusive, and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections: -
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall, in the manner prescribed by this Act or the Regulations, examine, count, and deal with all ballot-papers used for voting in pursuance of-
Part XII. of this Act;
the regulations relating to absent voting on polling day; or (c) section 121 of this Act.
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall -
open the sealed parcels of ballotpapers received from the Assistant Returning Officer in the State for which he is Commonwealth Electoral Officer, and shall make a fresh scrutiny of the ballot-papers con- tained in the parcels, and for this purpose he shall have the same powers as if the fresh scrutiny were the original scrutiny, and may reverse any decisions given by an Assistant Returning Officer in relation to the original scrutiny. (6) Count the number of first choices recorded for each candidate and reject all informal ballot-papers.
The aggregate number of such first choices shall bo divided by one more than the number of candidates required to be elected and the quotient increased by one, disregarding any remainder, shall be the quota, and (except as hereinafter provided by sub-section ( 12 ) ) no candidate shall be elected until he obtains a number of votes equal to or greater than the quota.
Any candidate who has, upon the first choices being counted, a number of such votes equal to or greater than the quota shall be declared elected.
Where the number of such votes obtained by any candidate is equal to the quota, the whole of the voting papers on which a first choice is recorded for such elected candidate shall be set aside as finally dealt with.
Where the number of such votes ob tained by any candidate is in excess of the quota, the proportion of votes in excess of the quota shall be transferred to the other candi- dates not yet declared elected, next in the order of tha voters’ respective preferences, in the following manner: -
All the voting papers on which a first choice is recorded for the elected candidate shall be re-examined and the number of the second choices or (in the case provided for in subsection (14.)) third or next consecutive choices recorded for each unelected candidate thereon shall be counted;
The surplus of the elected candidate shall be divided by the total number of votes obtained by him on the counting of the first choice and the resulting fraction shall be the transfer value;
The number of second or other choices ascertained in paragraph 1 to be recorded for each unelected candidate shall bo multiplied by the transfer value ;
The resulting number, disregarding any fractional remainder, shall be credited to each unelected candidate and added to the number of votes obtained by him on- the counting of the first choices. (8) (a) Where, on the counting of the first choices or on any transfer more than one candidate has a surplus, the largest surplus shall be first dealt with. If then, more than one candidate has a surplus, the then largest surplus shall be dealt with, and so on: Provided that if one candidate has obtained a surplus at a count or transfer previous to that at - which another candidate obtains a surplus, the surplus of the former shall be first dealt with.
Where two or more surpluses are equal, the surplus of the candidate who was the highest on the poll at the count or transfer at which they last had an unequal number of votes shall be first dealt with; and if they have had an equal number of votes at all preceding counts or transfers, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall decide which candidate’s surplus shall be first dealt with.
(a) Where the number of votes obtained by a candidate is raised up to or above the quota by a transfer as aforesaid, he shall thereupon be declared elected. And in such case, notwithstanding the fact that he may have reached the quota, such transfer shall be completed, and all the votes to which he is entitled therefrom shall be transferred to him, but no votes of any other candidate shall be transferred to him.
Where the number of votes obtained by a candidate is raised up to, but not above, the quota by a trans fer as aforesaid, the whole of the voting papers on which such votes are recorded shall be set aside as finally dealt with, (c) Where the number of votes obtained by a candidate is raised above the quota by a transfer as aforesaid his surplus shall be transferred to the candidates next in the order of the voters’ respective preferences in the following manner: -
The voting papers on which are recorded the votes obtained by the elected candidate in the last transfer shall be re-examined and the number of third or (in the case provided for in subsection ( 14 ) ) next consecutive choices recorded for each unelected candidate thereon counted ;
The surplus of the elected candidate shall be divided by the total number of voting papers mentioned in paragraph (i) and the resulting fraction shall be the transfer value;
Tho number of second (or other) choices ascertained in paragraph (i) to be recorded for each unelected candidate shall be multiplied by the last - mentioned transfer value;
The resulting number, disregarding any fractional remainder shall be credited to each unelected candidate and added to the number of votes previously obtained by him. 10. (o) Where, after the first choices have been counted, and all surpluses (if any) Iia ve been transferred as hereinbefore directed, no candidate, or less than the number of candidates required to be elected, has or have obtained the quota, the candidate who is lowest on the poll shall be excluded and all the votes obtained by him shall be transferred to the candidates next in the order of the voters’ respective preferences :in the same manner as is directed in sub-section (7).
The votes obtained by such excluded candidate as first choices shall first be transferred, the transfer value of each vote in this case being one.
The other votes of such excluded candidate shall then be dealt with in the order of .the transfers in which, and at the transfer value at which, he obtained them. (d) Each of the transfers which takes place under the two previous paragraphs of this sub-section shall be deemed for all purposes to be a separate transfer. 11. (a) Where the number of votes obtained by a candidate is raised up to or above th« quota by any such transfer as aforesaid, he shall -thereupon be declared elected. And in such case, notwithstanding the fact that he may have reached the quota, such transfer shall be completed, and mil the votes to which he is entitled therefrom shall be transferred to him, but no other vote shall be- transferred’ to him.
Where the number of votes obtained by a candidate is raised up to, but not above, the quota by any such transfer- as aforesaid, the whole of the. voting papers on which such votes are recorded shall be set aside as finally dealt with. (c)- Where the number of votes obtained by a candidate is raised above the quota by any such transfer as aforesaid his surplus shall be transferred to the’ candidates next in order’ of the voters’ respective preferences in the- same manner as is directed in sub-.section (0), para graph (c) : Provided that such surplus »shall not bc dealt with until all the votes of the excluded candidate have been transferred. (d.) Where any surplus exists it shall be dealt with before any other candidate .is excluded.
The same process of excluding the candidate lowest on .the poll and transferring .to other candidates his votes shall be repeated until all the candidates, except the number required to be elected, have been excluded, and the unexcluded candidates, who have not already been so declared, shall then be declared elected.
Where at any time it becomes necessary to exclude a candidate and two or more candidates have the same number of votes and are lowest on tlie poll at .the last count or transfer at which they had an unequal number of votes, then whichever of such candidates are lowest on the poll shall be first excluded, and if such candidates have had an equal number of votes at all preceding counts or transfers, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall decide which candidate shall be first excluded.
In determining what candidate is next in the order- of the voters’ preference, any candidates who have- been declared elected, or -who have been excluded, shall not be considered, and- the order of the voters? preference- shall be determined as if the names of such candidates had. not been, on .the voting pape*.
Where on any transfer it is found .that on any voting paper there is no candidate opposite whose mime a number is,. placed, other than those who have boon already either declared elected or excluded, such voting paper shall bc set aside as exhausted.”
My desire is that a vote of the Committee shall be taken on the ‘definite principle of proportional representation for the Senate. The vote which has already been recorded in that direction may be regarded as a test, perhaps; but it was in respect of a clause which really dealt with the matter of deposits. To enable the principle of proportional representation in the Senate to be specifically voted upon by honorable members, and so that it shall be duly recorded in its proper light, I am seeking the omission from the Act of the present provisions for voting for Senate- candidates, and -the inclusion of the new sub-sections which I have just read.
Question put. The Committee divided. Ayes . . . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative. Proposed new clause negatived. Title agreed to.
Bill reported, with amendments. Motion (by Mr. Groom) .-agreed. to -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause’ 2;
In Committee (Recommittal) : Clause 2 (Persons entitled to enrolment and to vote).
– I move - > That the words “absent from his place of Jiving therein with a fixed intention of returning thereto “ in the second proviso be left .out, and the following words inserted in lieu .thereof: - “living elsewhere than -‘within -the division in respect of which he claims to vote with a fixed intention of returning to his place of living in /that division.”
The second proviso in clause 2 reads -
Provided -further ‘that- ‘nettling in this subsection shall disentitle an elector from voting’ in respect of the division for which he is enrolled if he is temporarily absent from his place of living titerre in with a fixed intention of returning thereto for the purpose of continuing to live therein.
Under clause 14 this question has to he put to the voter- - “Are you temporarily living elsewhere than within the division? “ The proposed amendment will harmonize the wording of clause 2 with the wording of that question.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with a further amendment.
Standing Orders suspended. Motion (‘by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That the Bill be again recommitted for the reconsideration of clause IS.
– ‘I think the mover of the motion will admit that a fair time was allowed for the discussion of this clause this afternoon, and it is not as if it had been passed by the Committee under a misapprehension. The Committee has had a fair opportunity of dealing with this clause, and T . ask the House to reject the motion; otherwise we- shall never .get the Bill through.
.- I hope the. Bill will.be recommitted. .In a comparatively small Committee, a vital matter of principle .was decided after a very close .division, and all that the Leader of the Country party asks is that the matter may be reconsidered. The re-, quest is fair.
.-r-I voted against clause 18 this afternoon, but a decision having been reached, after a fair discussion, I cannot support the recommital of the clause. A vote, has been taken on the question, and in such circumstances I> believe in abiding by the
Motion (Dr. Earle Page’s) - That the Bill be again recommitted - put. The
Ayes . . . . . . 19
Noes .. .. ..28
Majority . . . . -9
Question so resolved in the negative. Reports adopted. Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I move - i That the word “ now “ he struck out with a view to adding the words “ this day six months.”
The reason for my amendment is that the measure does not provide ‘for a most important matter, namely, the control of selection ballots by party organizations. I shall submit a case for searching public inquiry, and a recasting of the law.
Tammany’s pollution of representative government. The influx of new Labour (members is controlled in New South Wales by the junta at Macdonell House. Sitting members live in perpetual terror of the tyranny of this Tammany junta The procedure is that nominations are invited, and they are subject to indorsement by the Tammany junta at its unfettered discretion. Then comes the party selection. The whole machinery for the selection of these candidates in “New South Wales is also at the unfettered discretion of this corrupt junta at Macdonell House. The powerful machinery of the .Australian Workers Union Central Branch, its funds, and its organizers are utilized, together with the corrupt practices of hired mercenaries, hangers-on, and professional personators. The whole of this machinery is operated for the purpose of continuously intimidating the public men of the Labour movement. It is almost an impossibility for any Labour member in. New South Wales to obtain a selection in defiance of the corrupt crowd in control at Macdonell House. The enforced silence of Labour’s public men in New South Wales in the presence of extensive and thinly veiled criminality is their unspoken acknowledgment of their fear of the power of this junta.
The Industrial Section. One of the first acts of the Bailey-Lambert coterie, which controls the central branch of the Australian Workers Union, was to organize a star chamber in Sydney, misnamed the industrial section, an unconstitutional body, which had no standing or authority under the constitution and rules of the Australian Labour party, and which held the undated resignations of the members of the Central Executive. Before it the Central Executive was carpeted weekly, and had to present their reports and take their instructions. This corrupt assembly set about undermining sitting Labour members of Parliament, and engineering its own members into their places. In 1917 the President of this so-called industrial section was a man named Samuel Rosa, and the secretary, John Mauritius Power, now a member of the Legislative Council, and president of the Macdonell House Australian Labour party in New South Wales. Those two men endeavoured to cap- ture the Federal seats of East Sydney and West Sydney in circumstances of unparalleled corruption and rottenness, at that time unprecedented in the Labour movement of New South Wales. The Labour movement had not then become accustomed to these corrupt practices. The selection of Rosa was upset, and Con Wallace, whose name was third on the ballot, was given the selection for West Sydney.
East Sydney, 1917. Power was the man who defeated John West, the sitting member for East’ Sydney, for the selection by the corrupt use of the Australian Workers Union votes in the control of Maltese, who were unable to speak English, and were living in boarding-houses in East Sydney. As I pointed out on a previous occasion in this House, in answer to an interjection by the honorable member, I was instrumental in having this East Sydney selection upset, and saving John West’s political life. We brought the Maltese priest to the Australian Labour party executive. He acted as interpreter for the other Maltese, who could not speak English, and it was found that one of Power’s agents, the present presiding genius of this Tammany junta, a Mrs. Andrews, had gone to Hie Worker office and bought a number of copies of The Worker, in which the official ballot-paper was printed. She had cut out these ballot-papers, and by some means had induced the Maltese, who had Australian Workers Union tickets, to detach the voting slips. She also got them to sign their names on the flaps of envelopes, and marking the ballot-papers herself in favour of Power, they were sent in and counted as postal votes. In that way John Power defeated John West at the Labour selection for East Sydney in 1917. It is fitting that this gentleman, who started his career officially in the Labour movement with a corrupt selection ballot, should be, at this time, when Tammany is at its height, and when no effort is being made to cloak the corruption which stalks abroad unashamed, the chairman and presiding genius of this rotten corporation.
– What bearing have the honorable member’s remarks on the Bill?
– I am moving that the third reading of the Bill be postponed so that the Government may have an opportunity to institute a public inquiry and to frame a new Bill providing for Government control of the selection ballots for the nomination of candidates for seats in Parliament.
The 1919 Namoi Selection. In this case the selection was a fraud. It was proved at the 1920 Australian Workers Union Convention that 250 faked Australian Workers Union voting slips were used. A number of these were locked away in the head-office safe of the Australian Workers Union. Convention ordered a criminal investigation/ Although this matter was dealt with in open conference, The Worker newspaper and the official report of the Australian Workers Union were censored so that the rank and file of the movement throughout Australia should not know the rottenness that was going on per medium of the machinery of their organization. The forged slips disappeared from the safe of the head office of the Australian Workers Union. These facts prove the complicity of high officials in the Australian Workers Union, as well as editor Boote, with corruption in the selection ballots.
The 1919 Oxley Selection. In this case tho local branches selected a young schoolmaster named R. H. Lamb, but Mr. Fitzgerald, now member of the Legislative Assembly, who was then secretary of the Timber Workers Union in Sydney, by a manipulation of faked union votes, overrode the selection of the genuine Australian Labour party branches throughout the electorate. The Oxley electorate covers 14,000 square miles of territory, and it was alleged that 750 members of the Timber Workers Union were scattered over that huge area, yet no fewer than 743 votes were recorded in favour of Fitzgerald, and the young schoolmaster, who had spent years in organizing the Labour movement in the electorate, was turned down. Fitzgerald was returned to Parliament ; but it transspired afterwards that there were only 150 members of the Timber Workers Union in the electorate.
The 1919 Goulburn Selection. This Labour selection by the branches in the country selection was manipulated to provide a seat in Parliament for Tam-, many boss Bailey. . At the time I was not acquainted with Bailey and his methods, having only recently met him. Tom Arthur, one of Bailey’s henchmen, who was in Bailey’s office, was appointed returning- officer in Sydney to control the selection for this country seat. He used Bailey’s office for the purpose. P. C. Evans, then general secretary of the movement, won the selection; but sufficient corrupt Australian Workers Union votes were used after the returns were in to give the selection to Bailey. In this case I have a signed statement from Dick McDonald, an old - Australian Workers Union organizer, to the effect that Bailey put in 300 crook votes. Another statement from W. Minter, a prominent member of the Clerks Union, is as follows : - .
Mr. Buckland, an officer of the Central Branch, Australian Workers Union, had been in the Goulburn electorate during the progress of this selection ballot, and had just returned to the Australian Workers Union office. In the presence of myself and a number of other persons, Mr. Buckland pointed to packages of Australian Workers Union postal votes which had been got ready to be admitted to the -ballot, but which had not been required, and had not been used. He said, “We have been challenged with the admission of crook Australian Workers Union votes. As others did that kind of thing, why should we not do the same?” Mr. Bailey, who was present, said to Buckland, “You are a damn fool. You are practically telling these men that .we did it.” Buckland said, “ You know we did. You know perfectly well. Look at all these voting papers left over that we had no occasion to use.” Bailey swore at Buckland, and wheeled on his heel and walked out of the office.
By the way, Buckland is now seeking selection against the sitting member, H. P. Lazzarini, in the same district.
This matter came before the Australian Workers Union convention in 1920. A committee was appointed, and went to the Australian Labour party’s office to obtain these ballot-papers -so that the Australian Workers Union convention might make a scrutiny. The selection ballot had only just been taken, but it was found that the ballot-papers had again disappeared. The general secretary, Mr. Carey, professed surprise, but admitted to several persons, myself included, that he had spirited the ballot-papers away, and intended to hold them as a weapen over Bailey’s head should Bailey try to put “ the boot in “ at any time.
The 1919. Eden-Monaro Labour Selection. In this case J. J.
Webster won the selection on a vote of ‘the local branches, but Bailey manipulated the Australian Workers Union vote in favour of his nominee, a city ‘solicitor, H. L. Brown, ‘ who ‘was totally Unknown in the electorate. The returning officer at -Cooma, ‘ George Thompson, ‘who was ‘authorized to receive the Australian Workers Union postal votes, ‘but not’ to count them, in a written statement ‘ said that all the ‘signatures on the envelopes containing these votes were in the same handwriting, and bore’ the names of fictitious persons, neither resident in the electorate nor members of the Australian Workers Union.
The .1919. Sydney .State Labour Selection. ‘ Here are extracts from a statement made by P. J. Minahan, M.L.A. - . . Had I. not appointed. good scrutineers, who stopped the. vilest scum of .Sydney from voting by fraudulent means,- including those who tried to -vote with faked .union tickets secured outside King polling booth, my chance, of winning a selection was .nil. The most dastardly .attempt of all- was. to put me out of the selection .by having 250 postal votes waiting at Macdonnell House to be counted with the -league votes. Fortunately, I succeeded, in stopping the ‘faked .postal vote from going in. ‘My .scrutineer, Mr. J. Burke, .of Petersham, blocked these -votes at the Surry Hills booth, -and the Returning Officer ordered the fellows presenting them away from the voting -table. . . I blame the “exclusive -gentlemen “ for all the turmoil, faking, and degrading actions that are lately .bringing our glorious movement to the gutter. . . . Every fibre of my being is now in revolt against the immoral practices of the “ exclusive gentlemen.”
I .have been ‘approached- by the representatives of many Labour Leagues throughout the State desirous of cleaning out the filthy stable and adjusting’ Rule 6 (the union votes), so that there will -be no monopoly of selections within the organization,, and no scope for adventurers and incompetents to enter .Parliament. . . .
Mr.. Minahan’s labour indorsement was cancelled, at the instance of Mr. Lambert, but he . was. later reinstated at the instigation of Bailey, .and he has been conspicuous by his absence through .all the efforts made to correct these abuses. He is now chairman of directors of a daily newspaper, whose chief function is to ridicule the efforts of those who are attempting to do what he declared was urgently required.
West Sydney Federal Labour Selection 1921. It will be remembered that Con. Wallace stood down to enable T. J. Ryan to contest this seat. Upon the unfortunate death of Mr. Ryan, and in view of the straitened circumstances of Con. Wallace, due to his sacrifice, had there been any humanitarian spirit of Labour in evidence, he would have been given the Labour selection unopposed. But Mr. Lambert, who was then the paid secretary of ‘the .central branch of the Australian Workers Union, a member of the Board of Health at £2 per week, and Lord Mayor of Sydney, with .£1,500 a year as an allowance, wanted the seat. Con. Wallace was .defeated in ,a corrupt selection, and died almost immediately afterwards. The following statement is made by :a member of the Municipal Employees Union : - “ There were ten motor cars engaged for the ‘return of W. H. Lambert .as candidate- for West .Sydney selection. One car was engaged running from Bart. Stokes’ hotel in Chalmersstreet. The organizer for this end was Alderman Stokes. They’ were running on wharf labourers’ tickets and water and sewerage pence cards. “Another car was plying in charge of J. Brennan, employed .in the ashpit at the City Council power-house, bringing men who did not live in the electorate and impersonating people whose names were on the West Sydneyroll. “ At Harris-street,, Pyrmont, Alderman Holdsworth was directing persons who were not enrolled how to obtain a vote. “ In Harris-street, “ Pyrmont-Denison “ at MacArthur-street, Alderman Ryan had a team of impersonators, mostly employees of the City Council. “A’ car was running from Wooloomooloo in charge of Mr. Cody, with impersonators. Mr. M. Ma-lone,,, a Labour League secretary, ‘ had one of .the tally clerks from the ‘Wheat. .Board writing union tickets - timber workers, wharf labourers and ‘Water and Sewerage Board union cards - and also supplying names of persons in, the league who ‘would not be in the district ‘to- vote. “ At the ‘Coronation Hotel, opposite the Sydney Town. Hall, Mr. Tyrell was present with a number of wharf labourers’ pence cards, written out in ‘the names of various people living in this -part of the electorate, also water and sewerage tickets written out with .a ‘piece of tape attached;, giving the. name -and ‘address of .the person to : be personated. “ Plying all .round was Alderman Davoren with a pair of ponies, and a sociable with, other persons personating voters at various booths. “There were ‘also large numbers of Belmore voters who had no idea they had a vote. Persons were- voting for’ them under -Rule 6 on faked’ pence cards. ‘These votes were polled at MacArthur-street and Allan-street polling booths. “ At the Phillip League booth. Clevelandstreet, Mr. McAuley was engaged on the same business. “ The returning officer was Gavin Sutherland.”
It may be noted that Wooloomooloo and Chalmers-street, which were supplying a number’ of these “crook” voters are” both outside West Sydney Federal electorate..
The whole1 corrupt paraphernalia of municipal Tammany was working overtime for its “chief.”
Another statement is to the effect that two men, Moran and Donnelly, had a “ crook “ ballot box which it had been arranged should be exchanged for an original ballot-box. All the ballot-boxes had to be brought from the local districts to the Sydney Town Hall after S p.m. In this case the parties in charge of the “ crook “ box, baring become “ merry,” delivered their charge at the Town Hall twenty minutes before the local polling booth was timed to close.
These .corrupt and criminal’ practices explain how the Tammany Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman Lambert, defeated Con. Wallace for the Labour selection, and became a member of the Federal Parliament.
There has just been another selection in. West Sydney with the same returning officer. Any different result was impossible.
It may be noted that this same Gavin Sutherland has now been appointed returning officer for the central branch of the Australian Workers Union.
Sydney State Labour Selection, 1922. The further we go the more brazenly corrupt do these Labour selections become. This is the famous selection, in which Gregory McGirr was a. candidate. He. had as a colleague W. Teen, one of the I.W.W. prisoners recently released from gaol. In the following, statement Joe Warner referred to is the professional leader of the unemployed. Messrs. Eldridge and Taylor were two Government officials from Mr. McGirr’s Ministerial office: - “My name is Harry Pritchard. T am a member of the United Labourers Union, and well known to all the officers of the union. On Saturday* 4th February.. 1922, I was at the Trades Hall looking for work, when I met Joe Warner. He said, ‘Go into room 23, there is something doing. Get in with them.’ I went into room 23, and found myself one- of about forty men. I do not know the name3 of the men, but I know ten or twelve by sight, and could pick them out. A man named: Taylor, who, 1 think, works in the office of Mr. Eldridge, . Minister of Health’s Building, Macquariestreet said, ‘ We- want you men to go and. vote in the Sydney selection .ballot to-day. It will be worth a good day’s pay. I will go up to the Labour Council rooms and fix up the union tickets and your instructions, and then you will go out in the cars and vote.’ “There was a fleet of seven motor cars in attendance. Later, Mr. Taylor came back with a number of union tickets and “’ how to vote ‘ cards, and gave them to those present. The cards to me were - (1) Waterside Workers Federation, No: 4240, in the name of E. C. Huxham, 40 Rutland-street, City, attached hereto and marked with the letter ‘ a.’ (2) Federated Brick, Tile,, and. Pottery Employees Union ticket in. the name of ‘ J. T. Adams, no address attached- hereto* and marked with the letter ‘ b.’ (3) ‘How to. vote’ cards with names of Labour candidates for selection thereon, and with pencilled crosses opposite the names of Bridges’. Buckley. Holdsworth, McGirr, and Teen, ‘attached’ hereto, and marked with the letter ‘c’ “On the back of .the- ‘ how to vote-‘ card was the name of Adams, John Thomas; Surry Hills, 004 Crown-street* and the location of the following polling, booths:. -
Belmore, Go Albion-street Darlinghurst, S3 Brougham-street. King, 94 Crown-street. Paddington, 45 Oatley-ro.id. Darling Harbor, 147 Princess-street. “ I was instructed by Taylor to vote at each booth on each union ticket during the day, and in the ease of Adams to give different addresses each time, and to call back at room 23 at the end of the day for payment. We were supposed to hand back our various tickets when we came back to bc paid. “ I did not vote during the Sydney selection ballot, nor did I hand1 back the tickets. There was wrangling for’ hours at room 23 at night over the money. Taylor wanted to pay only 10s. The men said Taylor promised £3 each. The men then, mobbed’ the office, rushed it, and said they were not scabs : that- the least Taylor could do was to pay the basic wage. “ He finally agreed to give the men fi- each, and I received fi. “ Taylor asked me for my ticket back, but 1 said, ‘No, you don’t get them, laddie.’ “ I went round the booths during- the day and watched what was going on. There were challenges at the various booths, but most of the ‘ crook ‘ voters got through and recorded their votes. “When polling was over I reported the above facts to Mr. George Waite, assistant secretary United Labourers Union. I was desperately iii need of the f i I received, otherwise I would not have taken it. But I wish to see these corrupt practices stopped in the interest of the Labour movement. “One of the men who was operating lust Saturday saw me’ this morning, and said that twelve men were wanted for to-day. In order to get what information T. could T. said, ‘ I want a ‘ quid ‘ as badly as any one. I will be buck later on.’ t intend to look round to-day to try to sec what is doing. “ (Signed) Harry Pritchard. “ 11th February, 1922.”
Having made his arrangements, Mr. McGirr, like a. seasoned general, retreated beyond the danger zone to Parkes and put this forward as proof of his innocence. The following is thestatement of a man who went into the matter at the instance of Labour Ministers to obtain evidence of corruption against Mr. McGirr, one of their colleagues, with the determination that they would put an end to it. But they subsided in the face of Tammany’s power.
Mr. Thomas Wells states “ This is an absolutely true version of what occurred in the Trades and Labour Council rooms and elsewhere in connexion with the first selection ballot for Sydney, which took place on 4th February, 1022. I went into the matter at the instance of certain public men in the Labour movement to obtain evidence for Mr. McGirr’s expulsion, and my instructions were to do everything I was told in Mr. McGirr’s interest. “ I was engaged on the Friday night to run one of what were known as McGirr’s motor cars, the next day, 4th February, in Sydney selection. A motor called for me on the Saturday morning, and after picking up several others we proceeded to the Trades Hall, and six of us were seated round a table in the Labour Council rooms. The roll book for each division was placed before us. Gentlemen in charge of the proceedings were Mr. Eldrige and Mr. Taylor, the former wearing a returned soldiers’ badge. They said, ‘ Now,, you men need not do this unless you like, and can leave the table if you wish.’ “After certain instructions were given wo wrote names from each division, choosing only labourers and domestics. Certain names on the rolls had crosses marked opposite them. We were instructed to Iea,ve these severely alone. “The work went on all day. Names were chosen from the rolls and placed on union cards, namely, Storemen and Packers Union, Municipal Employees Union, and Water and Sewerage Employees Union. “ We, the impersonators, were taken from the Trades Hall together for our meals, and were watched very closely. At 7.45 p.m., after running all day, we rushed to the Addison polling place, Surry Hills, where we voted for the names given to us on ‘ how to vote ‘ cards, namely, Bridges, Buckley, Holdsworth, McGirr, and Teen. “I voted in the names of R. Wardman, 37 Denman-street, Surry Hils, as a member of the Water and Sewerage Union. This pence card, No. 404, produced, shows 2s. paid on 19th January, and is initialed by the officer in charge of the polling booth. Two others with mc refused to vote, but I carried out my mission to the end. “ There were fully COO impersonations which came under my notice. We were all paid ?1 for the day and supplied with three meals. “ I can give the names of other men, two of whom were running cars. There were special code arrangements for telephone communication with the Trades and Labour Council rooms during the day. “ After trying in other directions to have this matter exposed, I decided to place the facts in the hands of Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., this 12th day of April, 1922. I am prepared to supply any further particulars required. “ (Signed) T. Wells. “ 2 Endeavour-road, Daceyville.”
This ballot was eventually upset, and another ballot was ordered through the parties falling out among themselves.
Mr. McGirr came to Sydney from his retirement at Parkes, and then retreated to Wollongong.
Pritchard in his statement says he was asked to act again on this second occasion. I did not bother about McGirr’s activities on the second occasion, but investigated from another angle.
Second Sydney State Labour Selection, 1922. Here is a statement from W. Minter, Clerks Union, in connexion with the second Sydney selection ballot :- “ At Alderman Stokes’ committee rooms, Elizabeth-street, Redfern, near the Central Railway Station, operations were conducted in connexion with the second Sydney selection ballot. Alderman Stokes had four gangs of impersonators operating in connexion with this ballot, each gang under the charge of a superintendent or ganger. “ Alderman Stokes’ brother was in charge of Oke gang. Teen was in charge of a gang. A lady was part time in charge of a gang, and another man whose name I do not know. Hie lady in question after lunch obtained a list of those of the League who had not voted at the Belmore booth, and who it was understood did not intend to vote, or were away, and these were impersonated by the gangs. “ One of the candidates attended the funeral of a member of the Belmore League on Thursday prior to the ballot, and then impersonated this dead man ,in the ballot on the Saturday, and ‘boasted in the committee rooms of having done so. “ The gangs in question were operating on forged union tickets with the exception of the time they were ‘impersonating the residue of the Belmore League members previously referred to. “’ There were 600 Federated Liquor Trade Union tickets, 1,000 municipal employees’ tickets, and 1,000 Water and Sewerage Board tickets, and there appeared to be an unlimited quantity of other trade union tickets. “None of these tickets’ had a union label imprint on them. They were obviously forgeries* and had no printer’s imprint. In the case of the Federated Liquor Trades the colour of the faked union ticket is different to the bon& fide union ticket. Mr. Bains, organizer for the Liquor Trades Union, signed all the Liquor Trade faked union tickets himself, signing them C. Bains. In some cases Ted. Mooney, managing director, Catholic Insurance Company, signed some of the faked tickets, and other signatures were made by other persons promiscuously in the committee rooms. In the cases of these forgeries there were originals of the various signatures and other particulars that were copied.
The clerks in the committee rooms supplied each member of the -impersonating gang with the name and address of some person from the electoral roll in the district on a slip of paper, and the union ticket or pence-card was made out in the name of the voter to be impersonated.
The gangs were sent to operate first on one polling booth, then return to the committee rooms for fresh supplies of tickets and instructions, and then operated on another polling booth, and having gone round the whole of the booths they came back to the committee rooms and commenced the same procedure again.
Scouts were sent out from the committee rooms to bring back reports as to the best booths for the operations of duplication and personation. These scouts reported that at the Pyrmont booth :it was an open go, that an unlimited number of votes could be polled there provided a union ticket of any sort could be produced.
At the Belmore booth, where Mr. Magrath, the secretary, Printing Employees Union, was deputy returning officer in charge, more than 2fi per cent, of the votes were challenged by the scrutineers, and these votes were placed in separate envelopes for investigation after the close of the booth. At the count Mr. Magrath said he proposed to treat them all as valid votes, and asked had anybody an)’ objection? Nobody objected, with the exception of myself, and I urged that the unchallenged votes be first counted and the challenged votes forwarded to the returning officer, Mr. Bates, for his investigation and decision. This demand was disregarded, and the whole, of these votes were admitted without scrutiny. Had these challenged votes been investigated, there is no doubt the fraud would have been exposed.
In the ordinary course of events rule 6 voters (the union voters) should have signed their name and address in a book for that purpose when they produced their union ticket to vote. But this procedure was not followed at all in the Belmore booth, so’ that once a voter left the polling booth there waa no record of who he was supposed to be. In the case of the challenges, the name and address of the person supposed to be voting was written, down by the deputy returning officer, Mr. Magrath, on the envelope.
There were eight dozen dead marines (empty beer bottles) in an adjoining room. The place was clearly a beer saloon all day. The booth was full of drunks at the close of the polling. It took over half-an-hour to get them out of the polling-booth. The scrutineers left in for counting were in a number of cases in such a state of intoxication that we were engaged on account of this at one booth till a quarter past 2 a.m. next morning.
At the Belmore booth I ascertained that for every league member who voted there were twenty rule 6 votes.
This evidence of criminality, graft, and corruption is capable of almost indefinite expansion. The Political Labour movement in New South Wales has gone, and its place has been usurped by an unscrupulous Tammany gang ready to sell the interests of the workers and the community generally to the highest bidder, and which seeks to obtain control of Parliaments only that it may extend its bribery and corruption to the Departments of State, including the administration of the Police and Judicial Departments. Boss Bailey actually tried to organize a number of Sydney police into his central branch, Australian Workers Union, but the Inspector-General of Police and Mr. Dooley, then Chief Secretary, frustrated this bold enterprise of Tammany.
It is the duty of the Government to searchingly inquire into all the matters set forth and facts and allegations relevant thereto, in order that our Parliaments and public administrations may not be manipulated by and for a corrupt Tammany organization that would soon reduce our public affairs to the level of the worst days and phases of its notorious prototype in New York.
Production of samples of forged union tickets. I now produce and hand to the Clerk of the House, for the inspection of honorable members, samples of some of the forged union tickets used in these criminal selection ballots, of which I have a considerable number: - (1) Tramway Union ticket, (2) Water and Sewerage Board Union ticket, (3) Storemen and Packers Union ticket, and (4) Municipal Employees Union ticket. None have a printer’s imprint. Some are forged ready for use. The Municipal ticket has a false short butt to be tom off to represent it as having come out of a duplicate book.
– Read the wording of one ‘ of them?
– The front of the Water and Sewerage Board Employees ticket is as follows: -
Qit . the inside of .the card there is marked -a contribution of .4s., purporting to be; initialed by an officer of the union. All the wording is an exact reproduction of the genuine ticket, with the exception, of course, that there is no printer’s imprint. Then there is a .forgery of the Municipal Employees Union ticket, .and it is a palpable forgery on the very face of it.
– I often wondered how the honorable member got here !
– I have no doubt the honorable member is prepared to ‘go out and support all this.-rottenness. Honorable members who interrupt me tonightknow perfectly well that every word I :say is true, but they have not >the courage ‘to stand .up against the: machine and put these things right. In :some cases, there are sinister .’objects to be served, and “ the end is held ‘to ‘justify the means.” In ‘the’ .case of the Municipal Employees , ticket. there is a .dummy butt about one-eighth of an inch thick, perforated so’ that it may -have the appearance .of a ticket torn out of a book with butts. All these tickets are palpable fakes, but are an exact reproduction of the Union tickets.
The Macdonell House Australian Labour party attempts to disfranchise city of Sydney ratepayers and at the personation of electors. In September last the Macdonell House Australian Labour party made a desperate attempt to maintain its Tammany control of the City Council by a wholesale scheme to disfranchise electors. At the Revision Court the Macdonnell House Australian Labour party was represented by its municipal expert, Mr. Niland, solicitor. Here are .some of the objections, all of which were either withdrawn or disallowed at the -Revision Court, giving the name of “the objector and the number of disallowed objections lodged by them: -
Then follow a number of others well known in Macdonell House circles, including Miss A. Clancy, typist, Macdonell House Australian Labour party office.
In my previous speech, 6 th July, I referred to Alderman Lambert being returned for the Denison Ward, City Council, by the -narrow -margin of ‘five ‘votes, and said that personation only. saved him. I now propose to .quote one .df the .cases of prosecution for impersonation from the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 2<6th July last -
Accused Sent to Gaol. “The .Tool .of Others.” At the. Quarter Sessions yesterday, before Acting-Judge Brissenden, Ernest Arthur
Cochrane, aged . nineteen’, by- direction of. his Honour, was.- found guilty of attempting to personate William James Toomey, ibr the purpose of voting- at an election - of : aldermen,, for Pearson’- Ward > of the city of Sydney! There was. a. further.- charge -of. making, a false declaration.. Mr. Sherwood,, instructed, by Mr. Niland, appeared for the accused.
The accused, at the: opening, of the. case, pleaded not guilty. Mr. Sherwood raised the point that,’ under certain sections of the Corporation’ Act, action could1 only be taken- in1 a case, efi this, kind, by the inspector of: nuisances or an i officer appointed .by. the - council. The police, . however,’ had taken action., Counsel therefore submitted . that the Court had’ no jurisdiction: His Honour,, in overruling’ five objection, remarked’ that if the objection were upheld, an inspector of nuisances,; appointed’ by alder.men who had been elected- by means of impersonation, would hardly .be likely ever, to take action against offenders of Cochrane’s type. Counsel then instructed the accused to withdraw his plea of not’ guilty and to plead guilty.
His, Honour: What! He was, a dummy when he. impersonated, and now he is a dummy hero to have . this point raised..
Mr. Sherwood: We shall not urge the point any further, your Honour.
The police constable in charge of the case was .called, to give: evidence1 as > to- the character of- the. accused.. In. answer to . a question from. Mr. Sherwood, the constable said that he was satisfied’ accused .was the. tool of others. Accused, he added, was in the employ of the City Council.’
His Honour, when passing sentence, ; said1 to the- acused: “ This, is- the second case of this kind I have. had to. try.. I regard.it. as a very serious, offence. You made a false, declara-tion, and from .the Returning Officer you got something’ which’ money is supposed1 not to be able to buy.’. You are’ young;, and doubtless you are the tool of others, but you are old enough to know what you are doing, I cannot treat you . as a first offender. I sentence you to three months’ hard labour, concurrent, on each charge. The sentence is ridiculously light, but I have taken into account your previous good character; I hope you do not lose your position with, the City Council. When you come out the people who got voir into this trouble will perhaps do something for’ von.”
This young lad was the sole support of his widowed mother, and an appeal i3 being made to the Labour aldermen of the Sydney City Council for subscriptions to help to keep the house going while he is in gaol. If the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Lambert), who sits, in front of me, had a spark of manhood in him, he would see that the family is kept until the boy is released, and, further, that he obtained a good position again.
Macdonell Housie, in extremis. There was an exposure of part of the corruption of. Macdonell House by me here on. .6th July. Om the -11th July the honorable member , for West. Sydney, who,was iw one of his usual “ merry moods;” was.’ boasting om the1 train* coming from’ Sydney, that. he) would: have* an inquiry into’ all these1 -matters’. A! dozen Nationalists, as well as Labour members; sitting here -now know this - to be true. Some of his ‘Colleagues took, him1 at has; word, and, on -arrival: in- Melbourne, the1 Leader of the Opposition’ (Mr.’ Charlton) called - the party together. Thinking- that the honorable member for* West Sydney really wished’ for an- inquiry; . the’ honorable member” for- Dalley (Mr. Mahony) moved, and:’ the honorable member’ for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) seconded, ‘that the Leader of the Opposition, when the House met, should stand, up and ask for a public investigation ; but Lambert who had sobered “by that time-:-
– !I ask the withdrawal of those words.
– (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson).- If the honorable member,- for Cook referred to the honorable- member for West Sydney he is not in order in -‘making -a statement of that’ kind, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– The honorable member asks that . I shall withdraw the expression that he had sobered up .again. Very well, sir, I do so.
– I ask. that the honorable member shall be required to withdraw the inference1 or imputation contained in the words that “ Lambert had sobered up by nhat time.”
– The honorable member for Cook will be seised of the impropriety of’ casting a reflection upon another honorable member, and, I am sure, will be prepared’ to- withdraw it.
– Yes, sir. The imputation plainly was, that, the honorable member was drunk; but since it is against the rules of the House for me to suggest such a thing, I withdraw it. To continue, the honorable member for West Sydney sneeringly told the fellow members of his . party that they could have a public inquiry if they wanted it,, and calling.- on the honorable member, for Yarra (Mr. Scullin)., he bounced out of the room in a temper up to the bar. Whereupon, the cue was taken by those remaining and the motion was withdrawn.
July 15th, the Macdonell House Australian Labour party junta issued a reply of its own committee of Tammany tools to my speech in this House. 2nd August, according to a Sun report, it was shown that the reply of the Macdonell House Tammany committee waa not acceptable in Labour circles. Mr. C. C. Lazzarini, M.L.A., then gave notice in the New South Wales Labour Caucus of a motion for a public inquiry into the charges of corruption. 7th August the Macdonell House junta threatened the expulsion of members who demanded a public inquiry into Labour corruption. That is borne out by the Evening News report. The Australian Workers Union organ, Hie Worker, also made a brutal attack on these men -16.8.22. 9th August the New South Wales Labour Caucus, by twenty votes to five, demanded a searching public inquiry into the corruption charges contained in my speech. The minority were Messrs. Dunn, Wright, Stuart-Robertson, Ratcliffe, and McLelland, with Messrs. Bailey and McGirr not voting. - Sun report. 9th August a counter-charge was made upon ex-State Labour Ministers by the Macdonell House junta that they had received large sums of money for the elections, and demanding that Mr. McKell, the treasurer, should toe the carpet and answer -
I take that matter from, a report of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. 12th August the Macdonell House junta refused the State Caucus demand for a public inquiry into the corruption charges which I had levelled. That fact is based upon a report of the Sydney Morning Herald. 15th August there was a further counter-charge by the Macdonell House junta that Mr. Dooley, the New South Wales Labour leader, had the Australian Labour party’s books faked to provide branch membership qualification for Mr. J. B. Suttor, M.L.C., who was appointed to the Legislative Council. 17th August the State Labour Caucus, driven into a cul-de-sac by the
Macdonell House Tammany by countercharges of corruption and the threats of expulsion referred to, met to consider the position, and it resolved by fifteen votes to thirteen to seek a conference with the Macdonell House junta. (Vide Daily Telegraph report.) 17th August the Federal Labour Caucus received a latter from the Parramatta State Labour Council demanding action for a public inquiry into corrupt practices. Messrs. Lavelle and Nicholls, M.’sH.R., moved that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) should ask for a Royal Commission of Inquiry. They were ruled out of order by Mr. Charlton, however, on the ground that the matter was one for the Macdonell House executive. 2nd September a conference between the Macdonell House junta and the State Caucus was held. Mr. Lambert accused Messrs. Lazzarini, Mutch, and Loughlin of sowing seeds of discord in branch leagues, and demanded their expulsion. Mr. Charlton, who was present, opposed a public inquiry, although the northern miners demanded it. A resultless meeting adjourned for a week. This is from a report in the Daily Mail, Paddy Minahan’s paper. 9th September a second conference of the Macdonell House junta and State Caucus was held regarding a public inquiry. It was adjourned at 11 p.m. for another week. It proved resultless. 16th September the conference of Macdonell House and the State Caucus was resumed, and Messrs. Dooley and Dunn, with two members of the Macdonell House Tammany, were appointed to issue a statement to the leagues and unions of New South Wales explaining the position. - Sydney Morning Herald report.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), from his place in this House, read an affidavit. The gentlemen concerned want to say that the whole of my charges have been replied to. That affidavit is a perfectly harmless document. If every word of it .were an abominable falsehood no action could be taken against the person making it. It has not been lodged in a court of law. It is not in the hands of anybody who could take action. Some of its points side-step the charges made against the person concerned. At any rate, this charge was based on the signed statement of a Red Cross matron; the charge was not mine.
In other instances, the charges were obviously so true that the Australian Labour party and Macdonell House got into a fury of impatience to fill up some of the gaps which had been exposed by die statements given to the public.
Mr. Bailey, M.L.A., and Alderman Lambert issued denials. Of course! What else could they do?
But a carefully prepared affidavit, read in Parliament, is a totally different proposition from putting the man. Gibbs in the witness-box, from which he could be sent to gaol” if deemed guilty of perjury, and in which he could be cross-examined upon his statements.
These vague denials of Messrs. Bailey and Lambert, and other men involved, go no further than would the denials of any other class of law breakers charged with any other type of offence. That is to say, they would be expected to plead not guilty to the accusations levelled against them-.
This fact remains: I am the only public Labour man who is asking for a public inquiry.
– Where were you when Brookfield asked for it?
– He did not ask for it.
– He did, and you know that he did.
– On 6th July, I quoted some of Brookfield’s statements, to the effect that he intended to go to the 1921 Labour Conference to put up a fight there. It was there and then that I put up a fight. I am sorry, indeed, that the fatal accident occurred to Brookfield on his way to that conference. At any rate, the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) is now pleading in effect that these charges of mine are true.
– I shall speak for myself when I care to take the opportunity to do so. But I repeat, that when Brookfield was making charges similar to those which you have since made, you gave him no assistance. You tried to hound him out of the Labour movement.
– That is not true.
– Order! The honorable member for Cook must “withdraw those words.
– I do. I disagreed with Brookfield on his disloyalty, but agreed on the fight against the Tammany curse. The honorable member for Barrier knows that this whole business has been exposed in the Barrier Truth. I know that the honorable member has himself exposed it publicly. What do his interjections now mean ? Is the honorable member now the special apologist for all this corruption?
– No, but I want you to take your share of it.
– I am taking my share. I worked for a clean-up within the Labour movement, and only publicly exposed the corruption when there was no alternative left.
– I am glad that you admit that.
– And the reason why I have been putting up a fight to clean this all up-
– You were campaign director when all this was going on.
– I was nothing of the sort.
– You said, on the last occasion when you spoke about this business, in the House, that you had accepted the position of campaign director, but that you had stipulated for the unanimous consent of the New South Wales Labour Ministry as well as of the party executive before you would take on the job.
– I did accept it, not all the time this was going on. When I accepted the position, I stipulated that there should be special provision to deal with moneys coming in, in order to find out the source from which they came, to provide against their coming from any corrupt source, and to insure that, in their distribution, fair dealing was exercised. And, furthermore, it was understood we were to clean up the filthy stable as soon as the election was over.
– That is right. You were to get your share, anyhow.
– That is a barefaced lie.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw those words.
– I do not raise any objection, Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member for Batman does not raise any objection to being publicly recorded as a liar.
-.- Order ! It is not a matter- of concern to the- honorable1 member for Batman only, but to the- House. The rules of this Chamber require that expressions of the- character uttered by the honorable member- for Cook shall not- be used. His remark was particularly- offensive, and I call upon’ the honorable member to withdraw the words and apologize.
– I do so, sir, at your request. But. the honorable member uttered some diatribe under his- breath to the effect’,, apparently, that I wanted “ my cut “ out of this corrupt money. If these thieves and burglars at Macdonell House, and their special henchmen in this Chamber, thought- that one word could be said against me they would gc» “ hot- foot “ for a public inquiry. They know, however, that I can go clean-handed into .any inquiry which may be opened. I shall do my duty to the workers, despite all the vil]any of the lie factory at Macdonell House. I challenge them to enter into a public inquiry. They can make all the charges that their criminal minds may suggest. The exposures which have been made in this House would not be a circumstance, to what would’ come, to light if a proper, inquiry were set. on foot–an inquiry which witnesses could be compelled to attend and at which they, could be forced to undergo cross-examination.
The- gentlemen involved in my charges have appointed a. second committee- of their own number to. issue a reply. This was after the fight which . has been going on. with the State Caucus for the past six. or seven weeks. This is a public acknowledgment that the reply issued by the first committee has been ridiculed beyond repair. But a “ packed “ committee is in no sense an inquiry.
What is required is an investigation before a- competent Judge, who can send for books and papers, who can, if necessary, seize books and papers, who can compel the attendance of witnesses and demand answers to- questions. If such an investigation were launched there would be so wide-spread an exposure of the uttermost rottenness ever known in the political history of this country that the Macdonell House Labour movement would be well on the road at- last to a very thorough and urgently necessary clean-up.
Because I had insisted on an end being put to all this vileness, as soon as the Tammany clique at Macdonell House found that they could rake up a majority of four or five in the executive for my expulsion, one of their chief agents: a man named Arthur, moved that expulsion. For the last month or so he has been engaged in the Cook electorate endeavouring to get the <Labour selection for the district, whose representative he was . instrumental, in having expelled by the narrow margin of four votes at a. meeting in. Macdonell House. The first ballot was corrupt,, but it did not support Arthur, the tool of the Bailey-Lambert junta, and the central executive upset,’ it and had another try. However, the electors of Cook, even those .few. who i still remain in the. Macdonell , House Labour League, have such a holy horror of having to appear as sponsor for one> of the direct agents, of the Tammany gang; that they have been careful to select a person who is willing to be a’ tool for them, but who, these people think, will act as’ a kind of decoy duck against whom charges cannot be brought with the same force and effect as if one of the direct participants in the corruption were a candidate. I shall defeat this tool of Tammany. I have no doubt what the result, will be..
– Hear, hear!
– During the whole of the time when I was fighting for a clean-up the honorable member spoke to me in the party rooms day after day saying that he wished me success.
– That is untrue.
– ‘Order ! I ask the honorable member for South Sydney to withdraw that statement.
– I do so, and substitute the word “ incorrect.”
– Many of the honorable member’s colleagues know that what I say is true, but it is not good tactics to admit it, because admission would mean that they would have to stand up and fight this corrupt crowd. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) said to me, “My fighting days are .over, and I am not going to do any fighting. I will stay there for the remainder of my time and then go out and be done with, it.” Yet the honorable member will go before the electors of South Sydney as an apologist for all this corruption. I would prefer to be outside Parliament a thousand times rather than be an apologist and bannerbearer for the most rotten set of political conditions that ever existed in this country.
– The honorable member remained in the party until he was put out.
– Yes, I remained there fighting against these conditions. Why should I walk but ?
– Why should I go out?
– I do not say that the honorable member- should, but .he ought to ‘have the manliness to - fight against ‘the corruption that ‘is ‘rampant.
– I have been doing that all wy life. “Mr. J. H. CATTS. Well, nobody in the Labour movement knows anything about it.
– I .tried to fight corruption when the honorable member got the firstselection on the ‘ railway vote.
–The honorable member is telling a ‘falsehood.
– Order! The honorable member for Cook must withdraw that ‘statement.
– I do so. The position in regard to the .Cook electoratewas this: .It was .a -new -electorate that was created in 1906. Nominations were Galled for, and mine was. the only one sent in. I became the. selected and indorsed candidate without any ballot. I was, however, :a very young man, and it was said by some people that I would not be able ‘.to put up much of a fight. I agreed to the’ selection being re-opened. Accordingly nominations’ were again called, and I was. again selected.
– .With the aid of a lot of votes !by your own union.
– I give the state-‘ ment of the honorable member for South’ Sydney an absolute denial. The railway men did not have a vote as unionists. I leave the matter for the present, but will come again with another edition should opportunity occur.
– Order! The honorable member’s .time has expired.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. I understand that the honorable member, for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) alleged that I moved a certain resolution at. one of the meetings of the Australian Labour party. I absolutely deny that. There was not one word of truth in the statement, and I challenge the honorable member to produce the person who gave him the alleged information.
– I challenge the honorable .member to ‘produce the party minute-book.
– I second the amendment pro forma. I understand that the honorable member for Cook has been engaged, ever since he made his previous statement in regard to Labour politics in New South ‘Wales some four or ‘five “weeks ago, in compiling and faking-up information on which to base the ‘allegations he -has ‘made to-night. ‘He has taken’ the ‘statements of self-confessed criminals, -and “has gone to’ unreliable and unscrupulous persons for assistance in compiling a mass of evidence that, in some circumstances, ‘would ‘appear ‘to contain a ‘certain amount df truth. It is difficult ‘to ‘follow ‘the honorable member in’ detail ‘ through the ‘Whole of his” statement. He referred to me in anything but flattering terms. He not only impugned my ‘honesty, but ‘spoke against’ my moral character also. He referred in disparaging terms to persons whom I shall name directly, but in particular to Mr. Bailey, reiterating practically all the statements he made on a previous occasion, pins some further allegations. In answering those statements I am ‘fortified with a Tittle more information “than I had before, which should enable me to show ‘the House what class of man the. honorable member “for Cook is. The late’ John ‘Storey, an ex-Premier of New South Wales, said, in the presence of several members of the State Parliamentary Labour party, that the Federal Labour party -was not worth its salt to allow a man like Catts inside its. ranks after the disgraceful Divorce Court proceedings and . another law case in which ‘the honorable member -was a party. A learned Judge, who heard the latter case, remarked that the word of Mr. ; Catts no man could rely upon. The late Mr. Teesdale Smith has often been referred to by the honorable member for Cook. The deceased gentleman said on one occasion, “Who is this bounder, Mr. Catts”?-
Mr. -SPEAKER. - Order ! I remind the honorable member that it is not in order to quote words used by other persons which the honorable member himself would not be allowed to use in the course of his own speech.
– I will not quote the exact words used by the late Mr. Smith, but they were to this effect : “ Who is this bounder? “-
– If I am not allowed to read the statements which I desire to put before the House–
– I do not wish the honorable member to be under any misapprehension. The honorable member may state his case in the strongest language he chooses so long as he does not use expressions which are debarred by the rules of Parliament. Expressions which he would not be allowed to apply to. an honorable member cannot be applied by quotation from somebody outside the Chamber. The honorable member will be perfectly in order in giving the effect of any letters he possesses so long as he does not use unparliamentary expressions, and he may quote documents also, subject to the elimination of objection-
– The late Mr. Teesdale Smith said, in effect, “ Who is this man who is continually bombarding me and visiting me and assuring me that he has such influence with the State Government of New South Wales that for a certain consideration, a fairly large sum, he would influence the Government to let certain profitable contracts to me?”
– The honorable member for Cook did not quote that statement!
– No; Mr. Catts would not quote that. To show what kind of opinion Mr. Catts had of Mr. Bailey not very long ago, when he was more intimately associated with him than I have even been, let me quote the beginning of a letter dated the 26th November, 1918, sent by Mr. Catts to Mr. Bailey -
Dear Jack, - Hearty congratulations upon your magnificent win.
The win referred to was the election of Mr. Bailey as member for Goulburn in the Parliament of New South Wales. The remaining part of the letter has no present interest. What I have quoted is the opening sentence. The whole letter is available for inspection by any honorable member who cares to read it. It is signed “J. H. Catts.” When the honorable member for Cook made an unwarranted and slanderous attack upon Mr. Bailey, abusing the privilege extended to him as a member of this House, Mr. Bailey forwarded me one or- two little items about Mr. Catts, and said in a covering letter -
Herewith I enclose some particulars bearing upon Mr. J. H. Catts. In addition to those particulars - when he, Mr. Catts, was prosecuted under the. War Precautions Act, I kept him out of gaol, as no one else would go bondsman for him, and I was responsible for his utterances till the war ended. I think you will get sufficient out of the particulars here enclosed to suit you.
I will now -deal with what the honorable member said about faked union ballots and forged tickets. He said that I defeated Con Wallace corruptly in the West Sydney selection ballot of August, 1921. He cannot prove one act of corruption by me or any of my supporters during the taking of that ballot. He made the statement that a dozen or so motor cars were running from one end of the city to the other carrying corrupt voters and personators. I know nothing of that; but I do not believe the statement. I was not near the electorate on the day that the ballot was held, nor had I been there for several previous days. There were five or six other candidates in the field. The voting waa preferential, but I received an absolute majority of votes on the first count. The honorable member made another statement which was absolutely incorrect. He said that the ballot-box was brought to the Town Hall. That is not so. The ballot-box was taken. I understand, to the head-office of the Australian Labour party by a respectable and honest citizen who was acting as returning officer; I refer to Mr. Gavin Sutherland, who has a much cleaner reputation than that of the honorable member for Cook. Mr. Sutherland has never been before the Law Courts, and has never been publicly stigmatized by a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, as the honorable member has been, as an untruthful and unreliable man. Mr. Sutherland was in charge of the counting of the ballot, and every candidate except myself, who had no scrutineer, was present with his scrutineer, watching his own interests. Yet, as I say, I received a majority of the- votes on the first count. That is all I know of that ballot.” As ‘ to the faking of tickets to. which the honorable member alluded, I would, remind honorable members that. Mr. Catts himself has an interest in. a pretty decent printing, works in Sydney,, and has a very good knowledge of printing. At one time he was regarded as practically an expert. He mentioned a selection ballot for the old Namoi seat, taken in 1916, or thereabouts. It is a fact that some forged voting slips were found to be attached to some of the ballots; but the Returning Officer, who was the agent for the Australian Workers Union at Wee Waa, detected those- slips, and brought them under the notice of the union, which impounded them with the intention of having them inspected. I have been told that the honorable member for Cook at one time knew a great deal about locks, and was very efficient in ferreting out things. However, that is no business- of mine. The ballot in question could not be described as corrupt, because the agent of the Australian Workers Union, who was Returning Officer, promptly brought the forged papers under the notice of the union, which took action in regard to them. I have a good idea ais to who it was who forged those slips, which could be detected at a glance as forgeries. They were certainly never received as good votes nor counted.
The honorable member made many references to Mr.. John Bailey, member of the Legislative Assembly, and used words regarding him that,. to my mind, had no application. He spoke of a “ Tammany gang “ and of “ this corrupt gang of burglars.” I would ask if that is .parliamentary language ?
– They would be unparliamentary if applied to any member of this House, but the references, I understood’,, were to persons outside.
– The honorable member suggested that Mr. John Bailey is a member of such a gang, and that I was also a member of it, and still am. He spoke of me as, though I were practically a burglar, or something of that kind. The honorable member knows a great deal about selection ballots. He has had more experience of them than I have had. I have been concerned in two only, and was chosen on both occasions. The honorable member has been-, concerned in very many. He has been accused outside of the most corrupt practices, imaginable in the conduct of those ballots. Mr. J. H. Catts. - That is not true. Mr. LAMBERT.- In all the selection ballots in. which he was directly concerned, the honorable member was out supervising, instructing his workers, and attending every polling-booth in his electorate. A few years back, there was a controversy between him and Mr. Stuart Robertson, member of the Legislative Assembly; and I would not like to repeat what the latter said’ of the- honorable member’s character.
– Anything he might have said about me would carry as much weight as what the honorable member might say.
– The honorable member for Cook stated that, on the first occasion when Mr. John Bailey, member of the Legislative Assembly, was selected for the Goulburn seat, the balloting was corrupt. That being 50, it is a strange thing that the honorable member himself should have travelled all over the Goulburn electorate electioneering for Mr. John Bailey, and that he should have written him a congratulatory letter on his election.
The honorable member spoke of the corruptness of the Australian Workers Union machinery.. That machinery is not under my control.. It was under my control some time back; but I voluntarily handed over the position that I held in it. He said, too, that the Australian Labour party is controlled by the corrupt machinery of the Australian Workers Union.. He spoke of the tentacles of the Australian Workers Union enfolding it, or something to that effect, and said that it intimidated Labour members, and tried to engineer sitting members out of their seats. I did not take the seat of any sitting member, nor did Mr. Bailey. Mr. Arthur Blakeley was elected in opposition to a former member; but he was quite justified, from the point of view of the party, in opposing that former member.
With that exception, not one of probably a dozen members of the Australian Workers Union who have been members of this, or other Australian Parliaments, during the past two or three years, ‘has taken a parliamentary seat away from a Labour member, and that man had “ratted “ on the Labour party at that time. There is absolute disproof of the honorable member’s statement that the Australian Workers Union machinery was operating through the Australian Labour party to engineer sitting men out of their seats, so that they might be occupied by men controlling the Australian Workers Union.
The honorable member seemed rather annoyed because I was Lord Mayor of Sydney, and spoke scathingly of me as the “ Great Lord Mayor.” Indeed, the honorable member was so ruffled that the venom almost oozed out of his mouth when he was uttering his vindictive words. He said that, when Mayor of Sydney, I had promised a certain person a good job, or something like that, if he would personate voters for me at the Sydney municipal election. It is what I would like to describe as a, lie, but I cannot, as it would not be parliamentary to do so. However, it is an absolutely incorrect statement. It is an unscrupulous and slanderous statement, which only a desperate man could make. I regret that there were certain cases of impersonation in the Sydney municipal elections just as there are cases of impersonation in all parliamentary elections, and yet, because one young fellow was proved guilty of impersonating and was unfortunate enough to receive three months’ imprisonment, the honorable member has the audacity to come to this House and make the unscrupulously mendacious statement that I actually arranged with men to personate voters for me.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member went very close to saying it. If he did not say it straight out, he inferred it. Although the young fellow in question was an employee of the Sydney City Council I did not know him. I do not think I would remember him to-day, although I did see him a little time after he was arrested for the alleged offence.
– If the honorable member had supported, the young man’s family during his imprisonment it would be an admission of guilt.
– Fortunately his family were in a position to support themselves. The honorable member would bave it that this young man asked me to to put him back in his job. It was not a, very good job. It was navvy ing or similar work on the roads of Sydney. In any case, how can the honorable member prove his statement that this man voted for me? Once a ballot-paper goes into the ballot-box I am not likely to know the name of the person for whom the vote has been given. He may, or may not, have voted for me. I shall not mention his name, but from information received, I have been led to believe that his family have never been supporters of the Labour party. In all probability therefore, he did not vote for me or for any Labour candidate. I am sorry to have to mention these matters. It is getting right down into the gutter. I have never listened to more miserable, contemptible, and dirty arguments than I have heard to-night from the honorable member.
The honorable member has said that the recent Cook ballot was corrupt, but I know nothing about it. I had no more to do with it than the honorable member had”.
– I did not charge you with that.
– But I am defending my organization, which has been slandered by the honorable member. There may have been a certain amount of irregularity in the ballot in question, but the fact that the organization, after investigating the matter, ordered a new ballot does not make the organization itself corrupt. The honorable member says that Mr. Tom Arthur, whom he describes as being a disciple of Mr. Bailey, was to be engineered into the Cook seat, and that the corrupt Australian Workers Union and Australian Labour, party machinery was to be employed for the purpose. As a matter of fact, neither the Australian Workers Union nor the Australian Labour party took any part in the Cook selection, and the man who obtained selection at the first ballot also obtained selection at the second ballot, and the Mr. Arthur referred to was defeated.
I am not prepared to say that the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) printed the forged tickets he has in his possession. I would not be allowed to say that.
– The honorable member can say it outside if he believes it.
– I can easily show who printed them.
– There is something very suspicious about these tickets, and it has a very close relation to the honorable member himself. I am not an expert, and cannot say whether the tickets in question were printed on certain machines or not, but I know that there are some machines in Sydney, although I have not patronized them, on which crooked work can be done. I do not say that the honorable member is a partner in the running of those machines, but I know that he is interested in certain printing works in Sydney,
The honorable member criticised Mr. Fitzgerald, M.L.A., and said that that gentleman got his first selection corruptly. He said that there were 700 timber workers spread over 14,000 miles of country on the north coast. I am a bushman of many year’s training, and I have travelled a great deal in Australian States. Therefore, I am aware that there are more than 700 timber workers in the timber belt in the north of New South Wales, and if they voted for their secretary in the selection ballot that is all I know about the matter. However, it is absurd for the honorable member for Cook to come into this House and endeavour to attack the character of a member of the State House who compares much more than favorably with himself.
The honorable member also referred to a Mr. Dick MacDonald, who is, according to his own statement, a self-confessed criminal and forger. How can the House place any reliance on a statement made by a man of that calibre? I know him, but will say nothing in detriment of his character. I am not dirty enough to come into this House and, under the cloak of privilege, use the slanderous words which the honorable member has chosen to apply to men outside, calculating to do them injury and prevent some of them from earning a living. Mr. Dick MacDonald was not an old organizer of the Australian Workers Union in that sense of the word, but he was in a very bad way in Sydney in 1918, and as he was an acquaintance of mine I used the power that I possessed under the rules of my union to appoint an organizer for a month or two.
– He was appointed to organize the police of Sydney.
– That would not have been a bad undertaking if the honorable member’s statement were correct, which it is not. It is absolutely incorrect. He was appointed to organize miners, rabbit trappers, and bush workers on the south coast, and to do certain other work.
– Tammany wanted to organize the police of Sydney.
– That is not’a correct statement, and only serves to show the absurd mind of the honorable member.
– I can prove it.
– The honorable member says now that I, along with other gentlemen in Sydney, were going to corrupt the police force in Sydney.
– You were going to attempt to do so.
– The honorable member has also made a very serious statement about Mr. Carey, the general secretary of the Australian Labour party m New South Wales. He has said, in effect, that Mr. Carey informed him that he stole the ballot-papers in the Goulburn selection ballot, where Mr. Jack Bailey was selected and proposed to. hold them over Mr. Bailey’s head as a weapon if ever that gentleman endeavoured to put the boot into him,. That is also an absolutely incorrect statement, and a cowardly fabrication aimed at the character of a man whom I thoroughly believe to be an honest and decent citizen.
The honorable member has made the further statement that Mr. Bailey manipulated the Australian Workers’ Union ballot in order to get Mr. Brown, a Sydney solicitor, selected for the EdenMonaro seat in the Federal Parliament. That also is a statement that is absolutely incorrect and cannot be borne out by facts.
– I quoted the statement of the Returning Officer.
– S’o far. as the integrity and character of Mr. Brown are concerned, the honorable member for Cook is not fit to wipe his boots.
The honorable member also referred to certain criticisms made by Mr. Minahan, M.L.A., in 1918, in connexion with the selection ballot for the New South Wales State election. I admit that Mr. inahan did make an unsupported statement which could not be proved; but whatever statement he did make was made after he had had a misunderstanding with the controlling body of that organization. That organization did not expel him, but simply withdrew his indorsement, because he was not following out the policy of that party on a certain question. However, his selection was re-indorsed at a later date, and he was re-elected.
The honorable member for Cook referred to the Sydney State selection ballots for 1921, and it was in connexion with those ballots that he produced the tickets alleged to be forged. If the honorable member knew all about these happenings, why did he not bring them before the controlling body?
– I did so; I brought them before you at the Congress, but you ruled me out of order.
– The ballot was not held until late in the year 1921, and the honorable member was a member of the Labour party until after the elections in March last. It will be seen that, although the honorable member was a member of the party, he failed to bring these things before the executive.
– I did bring them before the executive.
– The honorable member also referred to my own personal selection ballot in 1922, and described it as a corrupt one. I can only say that it was a straight-out contest, and nobody protested at any time. _ Everything was clean and above-board as far as I know, and I obtained a very substantial majority.
The honorable member also mentioned the name of a gentleman named Brennan. I do not know that gentleman’s initials, but he is employed in the powerhouse in Sydney. The honorable member said that Mr. Brennan did certain things; but if Mr. Brennan did those things, which I do not believe, he stands as a self-confessed criminal. The honorable member also speaks of a gentleman named Pritchard, who, he says, took £1 for personating voters in the selection ballots. If Mr. Pritchard did this he also is a selfconfessed criminal. Indeed, everybody that the honorable member calls to his aid is either a self-confessed criminal or an exceedingly bad character, whose word would be taken nowhere. On a former occasion :the honorable member was very good at dragging in the names of dead men, and it would appear that, having run out of the supply of departed ones, he is now substituting the names of some of the most desperate characters to be found about the city of Sydney. I do not know any of the gentlemen to whom he has referred except by reputation.
The honorable member also impugned the good name and honour of one who is an honest man. I understand that this gentleman was Under-Secretary to the Minister for Health and Labour in the last Parliament of New South Wales. His name is Eldridge, and, .according to the honorable member for Cook, he directed the “ gang “ of impersonators at the last selection ballot for State members. That, however, is an unsupported statement, and absolutely incorrect.
– I read two or three signed statements.
– Statements signed by self-confessed criminals and forgers.
– You said the statement I made was unsupported.
– Does the honorable member think that any honest man would take the word of such people? The honorable member also referred to a gentleman named Taylor, who, he said, was employed in Mr. Eldridge’s office. I do not think .that Mr. Taylor was so employed ; indeed, I do not think he was ever for one hour employed in any Government building in New South Wales or in Australia.
According to the honorable member for Cook, the Australian Labour party attempted to disfranchise the ratepayers in the city of Sydney prior to the last municipal elections. That is an absolutely untrue and contemptible statement.
– The honorable member must withdraw the words “ absolutely untrue.”
– I do withdraw the words, sir, and substitute the word “ incorrect.” The rolls for the city of Sydney are made up on the 1st May every three years, and when they are completed they are exhibited at the Court House, in order that people may see whether their names are there, and, further, whether there are the names of persons who ought not to be enrolled. Like every other organization which desires to get a majority in an institution or a Parliament, the Australian Labour party must see that there is no roll stuffing. As a matter of fact, close on 3,000 objections were lodged at the Revision Court, but they were not all lodged by supporters of Labour, many being by the opponents of the Labour party. However, at the instance of the Labour party, I believe there were close upon 1,000 names struck off the rolls at the Court. I may say that at the Revision Court the antiLabour people had the aid of a solicitor and barrister, a junior barrister, and four or five clerks for three or four weeks, whereas my organization was represented by an ordinary solicitor, with the result, as I have said, that close upon 1,000 names were struck off. Our only desire was to purify the rolls. Under the Sydney Corporation Act there are four classes of electors, namely. leaseholders, owners, occupiers, and lodgers. As ari instance of what occurred, I may say that for -one big institution, the name of which 1 shall not mention, the names of nineteen persons were placed on the rolls, whereas only the representative of the owning company of the institution was entitled to be enrolled ; and there were many cases of the kind. There were deliberate cases of stuffing the rolls, and the organization of the Australian Labour party simply did the right thing in having them cleansed.
I resent many of the remarks of the honorable member for Cook, who was a member of the Labour party for very many years. I was not one of the executive that expelled him - I never said a word in advocacy of his expulsion.
– You were there, and much interested
– I was there, and was slightly interested, because I had certain knowledge which led me to think that the honorable .member was not playing the game to the organization that was .supporting him - an organization with which he had a long and intimate association, and the aid and money of which he had accepted , in various ways.
– QC never had a penny from them !
– The statement I made can easily be proved. The honorable member, in the course of his remarks, spoke of the “ awfully corrupt “ Labour party that was going to destroy the public life of Australia. Really, he came here to-night with the full inten tion of making a speech that may assist him in his election in the constituency of Cook, or which he thinks will assist him. He is so unscrupulous and contemptible
-The honorable member must withdraw the words “ unscrupulous and contemptible.”
– I withdraw them, but it is hard to find words with which to describe the honorable member. He is disappointed and disgruntled; he has such a “ sore head,” and feels so bitter about his expulsion from the Australian Labour party for being a traitor to it, that he is almost driven to desperation. His state of mind has made him one of the most cowardly individuals possible for man to see, and I never desire to again meet such a person as he is.
– God forbid that I should ever have anything to do with you!
– The honorable member referred to my character, but I tell him that my character will stand investigation, morally, and in every other respect. The honorable member talks about a public inquiry, and said that on one occasion when ‘I was speaking to another member of the Labour party, I “woke up,” meaning that I had been drunk. Now, such an insinuation is absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member must withdraw the. expression “ absolutely untrue.”
– I withdraw it; but would like to say that the act of having a drink is that of an angel compared with the revolting and foul act of immorality of which the honorable member’s late wife accused him.
– I hope I have not wearied honorable members. I have had a most difficult task in following the long’ and dreary compilation of incorrect allegations into which the honorable member for Cook has put weeks of preparation. But I invite him to go outside this House and slander these men, and myself, as he has done here.
– I slandered you over and over again outsp.de.
– To whom did you say these things?
– To the delegate?..
– I defy the honorable member to go outside and repeat bis utterances publicly, and before witnesses.
– Neither you nor Bailey would go into a witness-box.
– I regret that I should have to stoop so low down as to be called upon to reply to the foul insinuations and filthy slanders which the honorable member has uttered in this Chamber against honorable men.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the word “ now,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the question (Mr. J. H. Catts’ amendment) - put. The House divided.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– Am I not to be allowed to speak on a point of order ? Am I to be the perpetual victim of the axe?
– Will the honorable member please resume his seat? He may not speak at the present stage. The House having resolved, on the voices, “That the question be now put,” I must now proceed, in accordance with the Standing Orders, to bring the matter to a conclusion. The question before the House is, “ That the Bill be now read a third time.”
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate had agreed to the Bill as amended by the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) put -
That Orders of the Day 2 and 3 be postponed until after consideration of Order of the Day No. 4, Land Tax Bill (No. 2), second reading.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
LAND TAX BILL (No. 2). Second Reading.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the measure is to give effect to the proposal indicated in the Budget statement for the removal of the war surcharge upon the land tax. The circumstances in regard to land taxation in Australia in general, and in the Commonwealth in particular, are well known to honorable members. The Commonwealth land tax was first introduced in 1910 for a definite purpose and as a definite act of policy. It was designed to endeavour to break up large estates, and it was not at any time regarded as a revenue measure. Mr. Riley. - Who said so? / Mr. BRUCE.- That has been often stated, and was clearly expressed by the party to which the honorable member belongs. It was introduced by that party, and had the definite purpose I have mentioned. The tax was increased in 1918, but that increase was a purely revenueproducing impost. The circumstances of the war had placed the Commonwealth finances in such a position that revenue had to be drawn in for national purposes, but when the surcharge was increased in 1920 it was made perfectly clear that it was not added with any intention of giving effect to a policy of land taxation for the breaking up of large estates, and the promotion of closer settlement, but was intended purely and simply to raise revenue for war- purposes. This charge was placed upon land because it was one of the easiest sources from which revenue could be obtained1.
– That is the trouble.
– For once, I have a lot of sympathy with the honorable member. Land is an object that cannot be removed, and is certainly an easy victim of taxation. Whilst the circumstances of. the moment demanded that a revenue tax should be placed upon land, it is clear, and I think that every party in the House will agree, that it should be removed at the earliest moment. There might, at first sight, be some suggestion of opposition from honorable members of- the Labour party, but I have sufficient confidence in their sense of justice to> believe that they do not wish the continuation of a special tax on one class of the community. The surcharge of land tax is an additional income tax, or a capital tax, levied on a particular class of property,, and it is neither just nor proper to impose taxation in this way. Those who say that property should be taxed to a .greater extent than it is are on sound and logical ground if they move for the increasing of taxation on all classes of property; but they are on unsound ground when they say that one particular class of property should bear a burden not imposed on other classes of property. It was stated in the Budget that the repeal of the surcharge would be proposed. Our financial circumstances are not all that we would wish, but they have improved sufficiently to allow us to carry out this promise. We are doing nothing at this stage to interfere with the land tax,, which-, has been in operation in the Commonwealth for many years as part of a policy designed to achieve a certain result ; all we are proposing is the removal of ai surcharge imposed in pursuance of no- other policy than- the raising, of additional revenue.. It has- been, suggested that this is- another sop to a particular class,, but that is not so.. The proposal, is. based on. definite principles o£ equity,, and it. is- a measure of relief that is rightly introduced as soon, as our financial circumstances permit of it being put into- effect.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is not present, and as fie: would like to say something on the Bill’ I ask for an adjournment of the debate:.
– The Leader of the Opposition is sick,
– My request for an adjournment was only a formal one,, because I was confident that it would- be refused. Do the Government propose to apply the “ gag “ to the discussion of this measure?. The super tax which it is proposed, to. repeal was not imposed by the party with, which I am connected, but was brought forward by the present Government in 1918. We are-, now asked to discuss a; Bill- to amend the Land Tax Act 1910-1918-, and to. repeal- the. Land Tax Acts of 1918-1919. and 1920.. This- will bring the law back to where it stood when the- Act of 1’910> became law: That Act was a Labour measure,, designed to bring the lands of the country into fuller use by taking them out of the hands of the few, and putting them into those of the many. It was a wise and beneficial measure, and has brought about great industrial changes. Millions of acres which were in pastoral occupation have since been tilled, and the immense production of wheat, oats and barley that has resulted has increased the revenue obtained by the various Australian Governments through income taxation,, has increased our exportation, thus enabling the State Governments to meet their obligations in foreign markets,, and this has in turn increased our importations, and swelled our Customs: revenue-. Since the present Government have been in office there has been a falling off in agricultural production in this country. The present Government in 1918, for reasons which they considered to be just, imposed a super tax.. The Treasurer is now trying, to repeal that measure,, and would give the impression that the super tax. was imposed by a Labour Government.. Asa matter of fact: there, was not a Labour- Government in power’ in- 1918. and the super tax was- really imposed by the present Government. There are still a number of large estates, which have been untouched by the- operation! of the Federal land tax. It seems to- me that instead- of the tax being diminished it should be enormously increased, in view of the desire for the land settlement of soldiers with the intention of bringing properties previously occupied as “pastoral Properties into use for ^agriculture. A statement which, -recently appeared in the Argus gives some interesting information relating- to the ownership of these estates, which “was contained in a return and cm. the table of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria in response to a inquest by Mr. Bailey, the honorable member for Port Fairy. The -return : Showed that at the 31st December, 1921, these -ment (fifteen estates of 20,000 acres- and over held, in this State of Victoria alone. Honorable members know that Victoria is the smallest of the States of the mainland -of Australia. New South Wales is about three times the size of Victoria, Queensland about three times the .size of ‘New South, Wales, and Western .Australia contains an area of about one-third of the total area of .tha Commonwealth. In addition to the estates of 20,000 acres and over, there are many -estates in Victoria of 15000, 1.6,000, and 17,00.0 .acres. According to tha return presented, I fmd that the first estate mentioned is Terricks Estate, of 20,505 acres, in the county of Bendigo, .and the owner ia Evelyn L. Atkinson. The next estate mentioned is the Kongbool Estate, of Ul,786 acres, in Dundas county, and the owner is J. G-. Robertson. There is the Fulham Estate, of 28,1613 acres, also in Dundas county, whian is, according to the return, the owners’ settlement of -G. M. Armytage. The Armytages are a very famous family in Victoria, and amongst the earliest of our settlers. 1 believe that the first of the family -to settle in Australia - George Armytage - arrived in Hew South Wales at a .place called Botany Bay, inabout the year 1832, having a free passage, at the expense of his country. The next estate mentioned is the Glendenning and Melville Forest Estate, -of 52,879 acres, in Dundas .county, the .owner of which is R. S. falkiner, who, I believe, waa at one time a member of this House, hut thought he could do .better -outside. There is ne?t the Koolomert and Kadnook Estate, of 38,504 acres, in Dundas and Lowan counties, and the owner is Benjamin Chaffey. Tha Chaffeys came originally from America and started schemes in connexion with irrigation. Honorable members are aware that as the result off the development .of irrigation we have country now .along the Murray that is a blooming paradise which was previously practically a desert. There are thousands of ‘Orange, apple, and .other (fruit trees on these lands. I ask leave to continue any address later.
Leave gram-ted; “debate adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 September 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220920_reps_8_100/>.