9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent tothe following bills re ported : -
High CourtProcedure Bill.
States Loan Bill.
The following papers were presented : -
Library Committee (Joint) - Report dated 10th July, 1925.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 108, 109.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Wide Bay, Mr. Corser, on the ground of urgent private business.
Motion (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to-
That leave ofabsence for one month be given to the honorable member for West Sydney, Mr.Lambert, on the ground of urgent private business.
– I move -
That the Houseat its rising adjourn until 1 1a.m. to-morrow.
As honorable members are aware, it is at present contemplated that Parliament shall rise at the end of the present week over the period of the visit of the American Fleet, and as there is a considerable amount of business to be got through, it will, I think, suit the convenience of honorable members generally to meet tomorrow at 11 a.m.
.- I do not desire to raise any opposition to the motion, but I question whether it is necessary for the House to meet at 11 o’clock to-morrow, since, if the procedure adopted last night is continued, it will be quite an easy matter for the Government to get the. whole of its business through by to-night. I do not know-how much business the Government desires to go on with, but it might clear the sheet if it so desired. I hope that, the Prime Minister, in asking that the House shall meet at 11 o’clock to-morrow morning, intends to indicate that he is prepared to permit during the committee stage the intelligent discussion of the Immigration Bill, the second reading debate on which was closured last evening.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That Government business take precedence of private members’ business on the next clay of sitting.
To-morrow is private members’ day, and, in view of the proposed three weeks’ adjournment and the necessity of getting through a certain amount of legislation now on the notice-paper, the Government desires the opportunity of proceeding with its own business.
– The Prime Minister might say whether the Government has a long list of important measures which it desires to get through.
– There are certain measures, and, in particular, the Immigration Bill, with which the Government desires to deal, but the list is not long. I wish to give the fullest possible opportunity for the discussion of that measure in committee. The motion will afford greater opportunity for its discussion, and has been submitted mainly for that reason.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. My name does not appear in the division lists, nor does it appear in the lists of pairs in connexion with the divisions taken last evening on the second-reading debate on the Immigration Bill. I spoke on the measure and indicated very definitely that I supported the measure. During the week the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) approached me, and asked me for a. pair. I agreed to ‘pair with him on the bill from after the dinner adjournment last evening. I regret to say that that pair was not honoured by (he honorable member.
– Not when the “ gag “ was moved.
– Three divisions took place last night, and my name does not appear in any of the division lists, or in any of the lists of pairs. In each of these divisions the honorable member for Capricornia voted. I regret to have to make this explanation, and I regret more particularly the circumstances that make it necessary.
– I wish to make a personal explanation in reference to that just made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis). It is true, as the honorable member has said, that he and I agreed to pair on the Immigration Bill; but I should like to explain the special circumstances under which the pair was not observed. The honorable member for Moreton, in my presence, asked the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) to grant him a pair. The honorable member for Gwydir agreed to do so, hut as he had not spoken on the bill, I agreed to pair with the honorablemember for Moreton, because I had already expressed my views in opposition to the bill. When the honorable member for Gwydir rose to speak last night on the second reading of the bill and to give his views against the measure, the “ gag “ was moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) . I was reminded by my leader and by the whip of the party on this side, that when the “ gag “ is moved all pairs are disregarded. The Prime Minister severely criticized honorable members on this side for refraining from speaking on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply ; that is, for not wasting time on that motion. We then asked the Government to bring down their measures so that we could discuss them. A very important measure was under consideration last evening, and several honorable members on this side, including the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), wished to state their views upon it, but they were deprived of the opportunity to do so. This party has decided that when the gag is moved all pairs go by the board. I regret that circumstances arose which caused the breaking of my pair with the honorable member for Moreton. When I agreed to pair with him I had every intention of observing that agreement, but, understanding that when the “ gag “ is moved pairs are off, and being reminded of that by my leader and the Whip, I decided that the pair should not stand. The Government put up the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) to make out a fictitious case, and then, by moving the “gag,” prevented honorable members on this side from replying to it. I regret the circumstances which prevented my observance of the pair.
– I desire, also, to make a personal explanation. Yesterday I arranged a pair with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews). I was here, and able to vote if I chose to do so, but as thehonorable member for Melbourne Portshad gone home, I honouredmy pair, and refrained from voting.
– I haver received an intimation from the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely , “ The necessity for the Prime Minister to con- vene atconference of the parties to the shipping dispute.”
Five honorable members having risen intheirplaces,
.- The present position in regard to the shipping dispute is very serious. It is-, therefore, necessarythat everything possibleshould be done to preventanindustrial upheaval in Australia which is likely to disrupt commerce and industry, and to bring in its train suffering and injury to thousands of people. It is notmywish to impart any party feeling into this debate. This matter is above party, and therefore in the best interests of the Commonwealth all party feeling should be sunk. I wish to place on record the happenings which have led up to this dispute. I shall say nothing, I hope, to reflecton the parties to it, or to widen the breach between them. I want, if possible, to bring those parties together so that in the best interests of the Commonwealth the trouble can be amicably settled. The dispute originated some time ago, in connexion, with trouble between the seamen and the ship-owners. As a result, an application was made to the Arbitration Court by the Attornay-General and the Commonwealth Steamship Owners Association, for the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union of Australia. Judgment was given by Mr. Justice Powers on the 6th February, 1925, and was reported in the newspapers as follows : -
His Honour pointed out that the present was the first time the application for deregistration had been made. Hecould not understand the Government asking for the union’sderegistration while work was going, on,. If the union were deregistered when the men were at work that would cause the worst industrial war that ever happened fir Australia. Certain men had. done things for which they could be prosecuted.. If. the men had not worked under the award he had the papers ready to sign for the union’s deregistration. Did counsel think it was in the interests of the public that another union should be farmed - it would, be termed an employers’ union - and that an industrial war should be caused?
There is great wisdom in Judge Powers’ statement. Every man who is interested in industrial matters, knows that industrial warfare will ultimately be the outcome of deregistration. However;, His Honour at that time refused to degister the union. Then,, on the 1st May,, 1925, another application was madeto the Arbitration Court by the Commonwealth Shipping. Board and the Commonwealth Steamship Owners’ Association. I want honorable members to bear in mind that in the first instance the AttorneyGeneral, and in the second instance the Commonwealth Shipping Board, made application to the court; so that in both instances the Commonwealth, with the ship-owners of this country, was a party to the application for deregistration. The second application was heard before Mr. Deputy President Webb, in Melbourne, on the 21st May.. 1925. I do not intend to quote his judgment, but the judge ordered the Seamen’s Union to put theEromanga and the Dilga into commission. The union refused ,, and, the judge ordered that the award should cease after the 5th June. 1925: The award accordingly ceased to operate, and the present dispute arose. On the 30th June a deputation waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). It was. composed of representatives of the transport unions in New South Wales and, I’ think, Victoria. They were Mr. J. S. Garden, secretary of the Sydney Trades and: Labour Council; Alderman B. Mullens, organizer of the Sydney branch of the Waterside. Workers’ Federation ; and Messrs. C, Crofts, president, and Mr.. E. J., Holloway,. secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Industrial Disputes Committee. At that interview it was pointed out to the, Prime Minister by Mr. Crofts that they had come, to see himinthe hope el agreeing upon some means by which industrial disputes,and particularly theseamen’s difficulty, couldbetakenin handbefore they had causedindustrialturmoil. Mr. Holloway said that hethought it quite reasonable for theseamento wantsome guarantee in their articles thatthe conditions agreed upon under arbitration should be observed. Mr. Garden was reported in the press as follows: -
The transport group proposed that, in the event of a disputeoccurring, instead of a ship being held up duringthe period ofher articles representativesof the seamen andrepresentatives of the shipping companies should meet at a round table conference. If a settlement were not arrived at the States Disputes Committee would be brought into play. Failing settlement by that committee, it was suggested that the matter be dealt with by a proposed Commonwealth Disputes Committee. Meanwhile the articles would be observed, and the ship’s time-table continued.
Mr. Mullens said ;
The seamen, in asking for an agreement, claimed that each manshould be protected underhis articles. Thejobcontrol business wasto be cut out, and theship would proceed according to thescheduled time-table.
ThePrime Minister, in reply, said -
Ithadbeen suggestedby the deputation that job controlwas goingto be dealt with and got rid of. Job control had been a breach of the award, and the award in that respect had been flagrantly disregarded.
He saidalso that he believed in constitutional action in regard todisputes, but the job control wasthemost important matter tobe dealt with at this stage. However,thePrime Minister did not intervene inthedispute, and took no action. Subsequent to the Prime Minister’s refusal to intervene, Mr. Lang, the Labour Premier of New South Wales, was interviewed on the matter. He took action with the result that he was ableto bringabout a settlement so far as theCommonwealth Shipping Board was concerned. It is remarkable that a state premier could come to such an arrangement with our own Shipping Board when the Prime Minister had done nothing. In consequence of that settlement, the seamen continued to work. The newspaper report of the matter reads as follows : -
The memorandums of the agreement were drawn up chiefly through the agency ofthe Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang). Thesewere signed on behalf of theAustralian CommonwealthShipping Board by Admiral Sir W. Clarkson , and Mr. R. Farquhar, directors, and Mr. W. Lewis, secretary, while the unions represented among the signatories were: - Federated Marine Stewards and Pantrymen, presidentG. E. Moate.; secretary New South Wales branch, R. J. Heffron; general secretary, A. H. Moate; FederatedShips’ Paintersand Dockers, J. MacDonald; Marine Cooks, Butchers, and
Bakers Association of Australia, J.Tudehope, secretary; Waterside Workers Federation, W. H. Seale, secretary; Sydney Coal Lumpers Union, F. A. Hale, secretary, A. E. O’Brien president; Federated ShipwrightsUnion, S. Shearer, secretary.
That is a formidable list of representatives of thewaterside and transport workers’ unions. The report proceeds -
The unions’ memorandum of agreement pledged the signatories to guarantee the fulfilment of the conditions of employment as contained in the federated seamen’s award in operation on the 4th June, 1925, to be attached toships’ articles under which members of the Seamen’s Unionsign on. They further agreed not to countenance any action of members of the said union that would be calculated to either delay or hold up the sailing of anyship during the currency of the ship’s articles. Should the Seamen’s Union flout the agreement under which they have signed on any vessel, and persist in preventing the sailing of ships or exercise job control, the group promised to bring all the pressure it could to bear on that union to observe the conditions aforesaid, and if the union continued in its attitude it would be isolated from the group. In the event of those measures not being successful, the transport group agreed it would not oppose any measures affecting the manning ofships to permit of their continued running.
The Australian Shipping Board undertook on its part to endorse the ships’ articles, and attach thereto the wages and conditions of employmentunder which the members of the Federated Seamen’s Union were employed on the 4th day of June, 1925, as the wages and conditions to govern the employment of thesaid members of the Seamen’s Union duringthe currency of the ships’ articles on which they signed.
Underdate 6 th July,Rear-Admiral Clarkson wrote to the Premier ofNew South Wales (Mr. Lang), as follows : -
Clause we propose to endorse on articles will read : - These articles, as far as bosun, able seamen, lamp trimmers, storekeepers, donkeymen, greasers, firemen, trimmers, ordinary seamen and crews’ attendants are concerned,are subject to the wages and conditions as set out in the seamen’s award prior to its cancellation by the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court on the 4th June last. . . . You will notice that we do not propose any machinery for dealing with disputes. We will sincerely observe the conditionsof the late award, and if theseamen do the same there should be no dispute. We think that the wording, as suggested previously by the Seamen’s Union, would invite disputes. I regret that at the moment I am unable to give you any assurance that the Steamship Owners Federation will agree to any clause giving the late award a place in the articles. My board wishes to thank you very sincerely for the action you have taken to bring about a settlement of this difficult situation, and trusts that your efforts will be the means of bringing in a new era of industrial peace.
Mr. Lang rendered the community good service by his intervention, but a State Premier has not the same standing in the community as the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. While he has some influence in state affairs, he has not very much in Commonwealth matters. ‘ After Mr. Lang’s successful intervention in sofar as the Shipping Board was concerned, a delegation consisting of Mr. J. S. Garden, secretary of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council; Mr. A. H. Moate, of the Federated Marine Stewards and Pantrymen; and Mr. J. Tudehope, secretary of the Marine Cooks, Butchers, and Bakers Association of Australia, came to Melbourne to interview the ship-owners, with a view to securing their signature to the agreement. ‘ I do not think it- necessary to quote tho press reports of the deputation’s actions. It is sufficient to say that certain conditions that were acceptable to the Commonwealth Shipping Board were not acceptable to the Commonwealth Steamship Owners Association, which desired to settle the question of job control once and for all. Although the deputation was unable to effect a settlement of the dispute with the shipowners, I wish honorable members to understand definitely that up to the time it left Melbourne to return to Sydney the door of negotiation was still open. No doubt, after the men’s representatives returned to Sydney an endeavour would have been made to submit to the shipowners some definite proposal in. regard to job control, but, unfortunately, the ultimatum which was issued yesterday brought about the withdrawal of the men from the ships. That, undoubtedly, accentuated the difficulties of the position.
I have drawn attention to these salientpoints in the dispute so that honorable members may focus their minds upon them. At the moment I am saying nothing whatever as to the merits of the dispute. The fact that we have to face is that a dispute has occurred between two parties, both of whom may be wrong in some degree, and neither of whom is, I expect, entirely right. The time has arrived, in my opinion, when some definite action should be taken by the Prime Minister. I say that in all earnestness, andwithout any party feeling whatever. If these were the last words that I uttered I should say that there is no party feeling in this at all, as far as I am concerned.
I have had a lifetime of experience in these matters. I can recall many of tha serious disputes of the past. I know what they mean to the community. I know the suffering that they entail on women and children, to say nothing whatever about the men. I know how necessary it is to keep the wheels of industry moving. For these reasons I wish that the Prime . Minister may intervene without delay. I can carry my. mind back a few years io the time of the greatest upheavals that the coal trade in Australia has ever known. I approached the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was then Prime Minister, and urged him to intervene. He did so and the contending parties were brought together. A settlement of the dispute followed, and there has been no trouble in the coal trade since then. It was a magnificent piece of work in the interests of Australia. The exPrime Minister realized the importance of his. position, stepped into the breach, and brought about a settlement of that great dispute. No one can say how much that has meant to the prosperity of our country. But I can also carry my mind back a little further, to the time when there was another upheaval in the mining industry of New South Wales. The then Premier (Mr. Wade) .had what is known as the Coercion Act passed, and many of the miners’ leaders were imprisoned. But that did not heal the breach. It aggravated the trouble. It cannot be said that I was not ready to intervene at that time. I did so, notwithstanding that I wa3 then seeking election to this Parliament for the first time. .1 risked defeat at that election, but I felt that it was my duty to do everything I could to bring about a settlement of the dispute. I was in contact with both parties and talked with them for many hours day after day in order to find some ground on which a settlement could be made. Surely those two experiences have some message for us at this juncture. I believe very strongly that the Prime Minister should intervene. I am not making these statements in a threatening way. I believe from the j bottom of my heart that the Government ought to exhaust every possible means 1o settle a dispute of this magnitude. We should endeavour to get the parties together. I cannot divulge what I have been doing, but before the Immigration Bill was introduced I was working quietly on this dispute. I have not been idle, and I have every reason to believe that if the Prime Minister will take steps to bring the parties together at a round-table conference, the dispute will be settled satisfactorily, and normal conditions quickly resumed. In dealing with this question, do not let us be blinded by prejudice, or pay too much regard to what any individual may have done. The question for lis to consider is, what should we do at this, the psychological moment for action?’ If we do not act now we shall be too late, for the dispute has continued too long already. No .body of men, whether employers or employees, could refuse an invitation issued by the Prime Minister to meet in conference. The Prime Minister could sit as chairman, and hold the scales of justice evenly. I believe that nothing but good would, result from such action, and the Prime Minister himself would achieve a triumph, for both parties are willing to settle the dispute if they can see how to do it. There is no means, except action by the Government, of getting the two parties to meet and discuss the dispute. The people of Australia during the next few weeks will be entertaining the officers and men of the American Meet, and it is difficult to say what will happen if the strike continues for another week. When our guests arrive, they may find all the capital cities of Australia in darkness. In that event, what could we do with them? The admiral in command would certainly not allow his men. however well-behaved, to come ashore to a city that was in darkness, and where there was industrial turmoil. The continuance of the strike would prevent us from doing our duty by our guests. That aspect of the question, however, is trivial beside the larger question of the welfare of the Commonwealth. .No honorable member . desires to see an industrial upheaval in this country at the present time. The wheels of industry should not be clogged, but they may be if every effort is not made to bring the parties together. Were I in the Prime Minister’s place, I should not hesitate, and few men would. I do not think he will. If any individual has clone anything against the law of the land, he should be dealt with according to that law; but in considering this great question, which affects every person in Australia, our views of certain individuals should not prevent action being taken for the common good. I am not making this request to the Government for party reasons. The dispute has got beyond the stage at which party capital might be made from it. All I can. see is that injury is being done to the Commonwealth. I again appeal to the Prime Minister to convene this conference. The conference could meet in about two days, and in two or three days after that a settlement would probably be reached. How much better would that be for the future prosperity and development of this Commonwealth than allowing the dispute to continue? Contrast the result of a settlement with what is likely to happen if the wheels of industry are stopped, if hunger stalks through the land, and if thousands of people in every state are thrown out of employment. Parliament. if it does not take action, will sink in the estimation of the people of this country. I implore the Prime Minister, with all the earnestness I can command, to act immediately, and I repeat again that if he takes steps to call a conference I believe a settlement will be reached within three or four days.
– The question raised by the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is of fundamental importance at the present moment to all the people of Australia. It should certainly be discussed by honorable members without any party feeling, and with the utmost restraint, because it is impossible to calculate the harm that could be done by imprudent utterances by responsible men at such a time as this. In reply to the honorable member, I purpose merely to explain the present position. Honorable members are familial*’ with recent events in connexion with the dispute, but they should also inform themselves of what happened earlier, for upon those happenings they must decide whether it is practicable tq bring about the desired settlement. The question of the de-registration of the Seamen’s Union arose early in the present year, but there had been for a considerable time previously a large amount of friction with the union. A practice loosely known as “ joh control “ had grown up, and had led to innumerable difficulties in the shipping industry, with stoppages of vessels and consequent great.- loss, suffering, and distress to the whole, community. The dispute: about job- control is not new, for as far back as February, 1921, an agreement . was entered into between the Seamen’s Union and the. owners, in which it was. specifically laid, down that - the policy of securing’ alterations by the adoption of so-called “ job control “ is hereby waived.
Tinder that agreement, the policy of job control was completely repudiated, and the union undertook that it would not be continued ; but, unfortunately, it was continued. In March, 19-23, after much friction, the Arbitration Court made an award, in which job control was specifically forbidden. That award define? “job- control” as follows: - “Job control “ includes any attempt by members of the organization, or any of them, to enforce- industrial conditions; other than those prescribed or recognized by the Court or by the Navigation Act . or any competent authority thereunder, either by refusing to offer for or accept work on any particular vessel or vessels, by refusing or failing, to- carry out. the work on any particular vessel or vessels, or by any methods other than those provided by the Commonwealth Conciliation- and Arbitration Act, or by the. methods of ordinary negotiation.
Still the practice continued, and- the whole community recognized that the policy of job control was doing injury to the seamen and to the whole community. But, unfortunately, owing to the- views held- by certain members of the1 union, neither the undertaking in the original agreement nor the terms of the Arbitration Court’s’ award was observed. Joh control was persisted in, and the position was so acute at the beginning of the present year that it. became necessary, unless the. authority of the Arbitration Court, which was created by this Parliament, was to be flouted and the court itself brought into contempt, that some action should be taken against the union. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton): mentioned that the Commonwealth’ Government made the first application for the deregistration of the union. It is- one- of the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government, whatever party may be in power,, tot uphold the authority of the. Arbitration Court, so lon/r as. it exists under a statute of this Parliament. Th? application for deregistration was dealt with by the court, and early in January there appeared some! prospect of a settlement. The seamen appeared to have realized the disastrous results that were flowing from their tactics, audi an undertaking was actually given by their leader that job control would be. discontinued. But, notwithstanding Mr. Walsh’s undertaking, job control was still pursued, and it became necessary latter in the year for the President, of the. Arbitration Court, to take definite and drastic action. Mr. Justice Powers, addressing Mr. Walsh, had said -
Then- as. to the other matters that may be in dispute, he undertakes,, on behalf of the union, that they will be settled by a conference, and that they will continue to carry on until those matters are settled by the conference,, or, in the. event of< the- conference failing to settle, by the court.
Mr. Walsh. ; That is correct.
Honorable! members will see that Mr. Walsh subscribed to that undertaking in January of this year. Yet the union was again ii? court m March,, when Mr:. Justice Powers referred to the fact that job control was still being- practised,, and that the undertaking given earlier in the year was not being honoured!. The position was such that, unless the. court was to be held in contempt by ship-owners, members of unions, and the public generally, action had to be taken. Accordingly, in June, the Seamen’s Union was deregistered. Everybody must recognize that, while the union was under th? protection of the Arbitration Court,, better conditions were secured in the Australian mercantile marine than obtain in any other shipping service in the world, and it. is lamentable that the seamen have, left the shelter of the court. I am perfectly certain that that view is shared by every honorable member in this House. We have no desire- to criticize the seamen, for most of us feel that they have been misled^ It is a great misfortune to them and the community that they have been placed in their present position, but. it- isi necessary to bear in mind the facts’ I have related, because the POSsibility of a settlement of the dispute depends, largely upon the value to be placed upon any undertaking that may be given by the seamen’s union. The deregistration of the union and the can- cellation of the Arbitration Court’s award operated from the 1st June of this year. The leader of the union suggested in court that the seamen had been singled out for hostile treatment, and had been almost persecuted. The facts do not support that allegation. When that suggestion was made during, the deregistration proceedings, Mr. Deputy President Webb said -
It is not open to doubt that this union is acting in defiance of the principles of arbitration. It has, however, endeavoured to excuse itself by suggesting that the applicants in this case have endeavoured to evade the award of the court. It has not attempted to prove this, in any way, and it is difficult on the face of the facts to understand how such a contention could be substantiated. These respondents are bound by a large number of awards of this court. These awards are made at the instance of the Merchant Service Guild, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, the Waterside Workers, the Marine Cooks, Butchers and Bakers, the Federated Ship’s Painters and Dockers; the Federated Shipwrights, Ship Contractors and Boat Builders, the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, the Radio Telegraphists’ Institute, the Federated Engine Drivers, and Firemen’s Association, the Australian Clerical Association (tally clerks), the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Australian Society of Engineers, the Federated Society of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders of Australia.
All those organizations are associated with and work side by side with the members of the seamen’s union in the shipping industry. They find it possible to remain within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, and follow their occupations without constant disputes such as arise in connexion with the seamen’s union. We are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that there are peculiar influences in that union which are causing the constant friction between its members and the employers. Following the de-registration of the seamen’s union, other industrial organizations recognized that a serious position had developed, and they endeavoured to bring about a settlement of the dispute. A deputation from the transport unions waited upon me and urged that I should convene a conference which would give to the seamen’s union practically every advantage which it had emjoyed under the Arbitration Court award. I pointedout that as head of the
Government which was responsible for upholding the authority of the court, I could not take the action suggested. The seamen had defied the court, and they had no right to ask that another tribunal should be set up for their advantage; I remind the Leader of the Opposition that the coalminers to whom he referred were not acting in open defiance of the court as the seamen are. I could not possibly intervene at the stage when a deputation waited upon me, and I suggested that there should be further negotiations between the ship-owners and the seamen. Since that date an arrangement has been entered into between the seamen and the Commonwealth Shipping Line. The private ship-owners were invited to subscribe to the same arrangement. I understand that they signified their readiness to consider the suggestion, but they doubted whether the transport organization had the power to discipline the seamen’s union as they undertook to do. They pointed out that the court had never been able to discipline the seamen, and we have evidence that at the very time when other unions were offering an undertaking to the ship-owners, Mr. Walsh was writing newspaper articles in which he still advocated job control. The representatives of the shipping companies said that if the other unionscould show that they had power to discipline the seamen an amicable settlement would be possible. That settlement could not, however, be upon the basis of the agreement with the Commonwealth Shipping Line, to which the seamen’s union was not a party; it was necessary that that union should be a signatory to any arrangement that might be entered into for the settlement of this dispute. An agreement could not be made with other unions, and the seamen’s union allowed to stand aloof from it. I think that possibly the seamen’s union can be induced to sign an agreement, but the attitude of the owners was that until the other unions gave evidence of their ability to discipline the seamen the agreement would be worth nothing. They said, also, that they could not continue to negotiate with men who had issued a threat that on the 14th July they would strike and hold the country to ransom unless everything for which they asked was conceded before that date.
The delegates from the transport unions returned to Sydney, and I regret that they were not able to discipline the seamen and ensure that the threatened strike would not occur.
I think it is still possible for something to be done to bring these men to their senses. If the seamen persist in holding up the community, I think that, with the assistance of other unions, and the discipline whichI believe they can bring to bear, it will still be possible to settle this matter. I suggest that at this stage it would be very ill advised to debate the matter here. The Leader of the Opposition has put his case at length, and has made his suggestions. It is my responsibility to determine what my action shall be. I can assure honorable members opposite that I am as desirous as they can be of seeing the present lamentable state of affairs ended, and an arrangement come to under which the ships will again be in commission, and what has been a menace to the whole industrial movement of Australia, and indeed to the whole of its people, during the last few years will be removed. I ask for the present that honorable members should leave the matter where it is. It would be very undesirable to have a . discussion of the matter in this Parliament as a result of which at any moment passions might be inflamed and a great deal of harm might be done.
– The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Military Duty of Officers
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount expended in salaries, rent, printing, and other expenses in collecting entertainments tax during the years 1922-3. 1923-4, and 1924-5?
– The answer is -
The costs as to entertainments tax are inextricably merged with corresponding costs of collection of other taxes collected by the Taxation Branch. The information, therefore, cannot be given, and it is impossible to form a reasonable estimate of the amount expended under the heads set out for entertainments tax only.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follow: -
Position of Dr. Holmes
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr. BRUCE (for Dr. Earle Page).The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Regulations have now been approved by the Governor-General providing for payments of deferred pay and retiring allowances in respect of service in the Auxiliary Services. No funds to make payments were provided on the Estimates for 1924-25, but Treasury approval was given to savings on Navy Estimates for 1924-25 being utilized, and payments are now being made. It is expected that all outstanding claims will shortly be finalized.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
Whether anybountyhas been paid on canned pineapples exported?If so,how much, and to whom was the bounty paid?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
On canned pineapples exported during the 1925 seasonan export height subsidy willbe paid at the ratesand under the conditions set outhereunder : -
Onfruit which realizesnet f.o.b. Brisbane 9s. 3d. orless per dozen 30-oz. tins, 6d.per dozen tins,such rateto be reducedby1d. for every penny which the fruit realizes above9s. 3d. per dozen, and to vanish whenthe price reaches9s.9d.per dozen.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Have the following cablegramsbeen brought under thenotice of the Government: -
Mr. BRUCE (for Dr. Earlepage).The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked theTreasurer, upon notice -
Mr, BRUCE (for Dr.Earlepage). The answersto the honorable member’s questions areas follow : - l.Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories,upon notice -
Will he request the Commonwealth Statist to endeavourto have all death certificates arisingfromsuch causes to contain the following information: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are asfollow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.SEABROOK asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the present shipping troubles continuing for some time, will the Government take into consideration the temporary suspension of the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act, to allow shipping to trade from the port of Hobart to mainland states?
S.S. “ Franklin.”
In committee : Consideration resumed from 14th July (vide page 1008).
Section three of theprincipalact is amended -
by omitting from paragraph (gf) thereof the word ‘‘and” (last occurring) ; and
by inserting therein after paragraph (gg) the following paragraph : - “ and (gh) any person declared by the minister to be in his opinion, from information received from the Government of the United Kingdom or of any other part of the BritishDominions or from any foreign Government, through official or diplomatic channels, undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth; “.
– Under this clause any person may be declared by the Minister to be in his opinion, because of information received from the Government of the United Kingdom, or of any other part of the British dominions, or from any foreign Government through official or diplomatic channels, undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why the Government of the United Kingdom should be referred to in this clause, because that Government would not be justified in issuing a passport to any undesirable person who desired to leave for Australia.
– From time to time the Government receives, from other Governments, information regarding undesirable persons. I shall give two illustrations to show how the clause will operate. An undesirable person may leave Great Britain at a time when the British Government has little information about him. Possibly, before, he reaches Australia, that Government has: obtained information to his detriment, and the Australian Government is accordingly notified of his departure for these shores.
,.- Is there any international arrangement whereby information concerning undesirable persons is given to this country?
– We have, received considerable information about undesirable persons.
.- The Prime Minister has said that an undesirable person may leave Great Britain for Australia at a time when the
British Government had not sufficient information in hand to prevent his departure. It seems a weak argument, because such a person could be detained or his passport refused until full information had been obtained. A person whose character the British Government is doubtful of is undesirable from our point of view. In any case it would be an injustice to. allow him to come here and then, because of some information received from Great Britain, to compel him to return.
– The suggestion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that we should take every precaution to prevent undesirable persons, from coming to Australia has our utmost sympathy, but I remind him that it would be quite impossible to maintain in Britain the staff necessary to examine every one who desires to leave for Australia. The British Government, working in conjunction with the officials of Australia House, now supplies us with a certain amount of information regarding migrants. Under the clause, we shall also have the assistance of the British consular and diplomatic service in obtaining information respecting persons coming from countries other than Great Britain and the Dominions. I assure the honorable member that in Great Britain and in Australia we are doing our best to prevent undesirables from coming here. This clause will at least strengthen our hands by enabling us to keep a close watch on immigration, and at the same time it will simplify procedure.
.- Do I understand the Prime Minister to say that as far as possible, an officer from Australia House, or a British officer acting in conjunction with Australia House, keeps a watch on the class of immigrant that will come here.-
– That is another matter altogether.,
Clause 3 -
After section 3j of the principal act the following, section is inserted: - “3k. - (1) The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit, either wholly or in excess of specified numerical limits, and either permanently or for a specified period, the immigration into the Commonwealth, or the landing at any specified port or place in the Commonwealth, of aliens of any specified nationality, race, class or occupation, in any case where he deems it desirable so to do -
on account of the economic, industrial or other conditions existing in the Commonwealth;
because the persons specified in the. proclamation are in his opinion unsuitable for admission into the Commonwealth; or
because they are deemed unlikely to become readily assimilated or to assume the duties and responsibilities of Australian citizenship within a reasonable time after their entry. “ (2) Any person who enters the Commonwealth in contravention of the prohibition contained in any such proclamation shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant.”
.- In my second-reading speech I said that I considered this clause inadequate. I still hold that opinion, but I do not propose to move an amendment. The clause is inadequate, for it does not provide quotas, for immigrants. That is left entirely to the, Government, which may issueproclamations on the matter from time to time. The Prime Minister has said that the Government has taken action to limit the influx of migrants, and that the number that may be admitted from some countries has been reduced to 100. But when he attended the Imperial Conference in 1923 he agreed with the Maltese Government that the number of Maltese immigrants to Australia should be increased from 600 to 1,200 per annum. Subsequently the number was still further increased to 1,440, at which figure it now stands. I strongly object to the Government continuing, to admit hundred’s of aliens into Australia every few weeks when it knows very well that thousands of our own people are unemployed. It has power to discriminate between the peoples of various countries and impose restrictions where it so desires. In some cases no restriction at all is im posed. There is nothing to prevent the Italian Government from sending hundreds of Italians to Australia. I have- no objection to Europeans coming here when we can absorb them, but we cannot do so at present. Our first duty is to our own people. While so many of them are unemployed we ought not to be bringing foreigners here. The Prime Minister did not indicate in his second-reading speech that the Government had any intention to alter its policy, so we may expect the influx of these aliens to continue. In North Queensland, where so many of our own people are unemployed, some slight disturbances have occurred between Britishers, Australians, and foreign immigrants. Although we do not desire that, I do not see that we can expect anything else, seeing that 75 per cent. of foreigners and only 25 per cent. of British and Australian born people are employed at some of the sugar mills. The Prime Minister has told us that only a small proportion of our population is foreign. If that is so, it is altogether out of proportion that 75 per cent. of the employees at some sugar mills should be aliens. Notwithstanding the existence of this state of affairs no honorable member supporting the Government has protested against it. It has been said that Italians must have £40 or a guarantee of employment by some one in Australia before they can come here. The report of the Commissioner in Queensland who inquired into this matter recently made it very clear that many of them who were supposed to have £40 really had nothing. They were advanced the money before they arrived here and paid it back immediately afterwards. The guarantee of employment is also a useless’ provision. The Royal Commissioner proved that some of the persons who have guaranteed employment for Italians in Australia were at the time themselves unemployed.
– The arrangement is that the nomination form shall be endorsed by the Italian Consul, and that the
Italian Government shall not issue a passport to any immigrant unless the form is so endorsed.
– Intending immigrants must use the ordinary nominating forms.
– And we ought to know something about the class of work that he intends to provide for them.
– The honorable member would not nominate immigrants unless he had work, for them to do.
– The honorable gentleman forgets that all nominations are made through the State Governments under the ordinary nomination system. When a nomination reaches the state authorities it is forwarded to tlie Commonwealth Government, whose responsibility it is to bring the nominated immigrant here.
– That is a matter for the . State Governments to watch.
– Settlement is a state responsibility .
– The Commonwealth gains revenue through the Customs from all these people.
– I do not think that it is doing so.
– The states were consulted.
– No, they met us before the agreement was signed. We discussed the matter, and they stated their views. As a result of that conference alterations were made in the .agreement.
– That is quite right.
– The Commonwealth Government, after entering into an agreement with the British Government, has to make agreements with the State Governments, which are at liberty to say “ Yes “ or “ No “ to the proposal.
– The relevant point is that the states need not take any migrants under the agreement unless they are willing to do so.
– There is plenty of room in Australia.
– Would it not; be better to have a variable than a fixed quota’’
– Then the honorable member does not admit that there should be even a quota?
– That is not” even-handed justice.”
Mr.CHARLTON.- I am speaking of races of equal calibre.
– What alternative does the honorable member suggest?
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), in arguing that these provisions for the restriction of immigrants are inadequate, said that the Government is trying to place its responsibilities upon the states. The Commonwealth should not shirk its responsibilities, but it would be improper for it to intrude upon the functions of the states. The ultimate settlement of immigrants must rest with the State Governments which control the land. That is a governing factor in immigration, and especially in the endeavour to increase rural settlement. Therefore, it is right that the nominations of immigrants should be endorsed by the state authorities, who must accept responsibility for them. By requiring the states to do that, the Commonwealth will not be in any way shirking its responsibility.
.- I support the objection of the Leader of the Opposition to the inadequacy of the provisions in this bill for protecting Australia from an influx of aliens who will not be readily assimilated. I protest against the failure of the Prime Minister to give the committee complete information regarding the alleged agreements made with Jugo-Slavia., Greece and other ‘ countries to limit emigration from them to Australia. The only ministerial statement on this question was the speech of the Treasurer a few days ago, when he said that an arrangement had been made to regulate the number of Italian immigrants. The Government has said that the State Governments must requisition immigrants, but, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, there is no power to place responsibility upon the nominators of immigrants from Italy or any other country. Joint action by the Commonwealth and the states is necessary. The immigration policy should be reviewed in the light of modern developments. America has adopted the quota system, and that attractive avenue to migrants being practically closed, Italians, Jugo-Slavs, Greeks and other southern Europeans are looking towards Australia. A few days ago a return was presented to this House, at therequest of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), which showed that in 1922, 3,358 Italians came to Australia; in 1923, 1,794; and in 1924, 4,492. There was a corresponding increase in the arrivals from other southern European countries. In another place Senator Barnes was told that during the first four months of 1925 no less than 2,920 Italians had come to Australia, and there had been a proportionate increase in the number of JugoSlavs and other alien immigrants. At the inception of southern European immigration to America the new arrivals were only few, but later the country was inundated bya veritable flood of immigrants. In 1870 fewer than 3,000 Italians went to America, but in 1910 the arrivals from Italy totalled 250,000. A similar danger threatens Australia, and calls for serious consideration. The Government is to be given power to fix the quotas from different countries by executive act from time to time; Parliament is to have no voice in the matter. Our experience of this Government does not warrant us in trusting it to administer this provision with discretion and due regard to the thousands of unfortunates who are unemployed in Australia.. The Treasurer has admitted that the arrangements made to date are dependent solely upon moral understandings; there is no bond or guarantee, that the stipulation regarding Italian immigration will be adhered to, and the experience of America and other countries warns us that the arrangement will probably be abused. We have been told nothing of the agreement which the Government has made in regard to the immigration of Jugo-Slavs and Greeks. The economic dangers of unrestricted Grecian immigration, are equally as great in Australia as they were in America. In 1870 only 126 Greeks entered the United States of America, but in 1910 the influx was 26,000. Inimigration may be only a trickle when it commences, but by propaganda and correspondence between the new arrivals and their people at home it is developed into a flood. If the Government should attempt to stem the flow after it has assumed big proportions, there would, be a greater possibility of causing resentment than if we check it and discourage it now, when it is comparatively small. I demand from the Government a complete explanation of the arrangements made with the various foreign governments. It is not sufficient for the Government to tell us that arrangements have been made ; we must have definite information concerning them. These are the brief words in which the Treasurer dealt with Grecian immigration - “ As a result of steps taken by the Commonwealth Government, the number of Greeks arriving in Australia has been reduced.” What were those steps, and to what numbers have the Greek immigrants been reduced?
– That could not happen in Australia, where the arbitration system is in vogue.
-hughes. - Mr. Ferry reports exactly to the contrary of what the honorable member has read.
– They are to be found working in the coal mines in my division.
– I object strenuously to the inadequacy of the provision made by the Government to prevent this influx of foreign migrants. If I had my way, I would take steps to maintain the present percentage of people of British stock in Australia. We are proud of the fact that we are 98 per cent. British. Let us keep at that.
– We are not doing anything to bring it down.
– By how much has the percentage of British stock been reduced ?
– If we progress at the same rate for ten years and there is no increase in the number of British migrants, the foreign population will represent only 3 per cent.
– I am wondering what is troubling the honorable member.
– With certain qualifications.
– Whom does . the honorable member blame for bringing so many southern Europeans here?
– Does the honorable member agree with Mr. Theodore’s statement, that he had no objection to southern Europeans being brought to Australia?
– Having listened to the speeches of honorable members opposite on this measure, I feel that on behalf of honorable members who support the Government, I ought to present our views on southern European migration, for undoubtedly they have been misrepresented. I have heard many members of the Labour party speak on this subject both inside and outside of this chamber. During the recent state elections in New South Wales several Labour candidates, and a number of members of the Federal Parliament who spoke in their behalf, made very definite statements on it. We know that a considerable amount of latitude is taken by honorable members when they are on the hustings, but it struck me that some of the gentlemen to whom I listened took very great liberties with the truth when they were stating the views that they considered honorable members of the Nationalist: and the Country party hold in regard to the immigration of southern Europeans toAustralia. I suppose every honorable member realizes that the Government is confronted with a very difficult problem when it is dealing with this subject. Immigration from Asiatic countries and that from southern Europe must be placed in entirely different categories. With the Asiatics racial issues are raised on which no political controversy is possible in this country, but in respect to the southern Europeans there is room for considerable differences of opinion. The Labour party has most unfairly accused honorable members of both the National and Country parties of deliberately aiding and abetting the importation of cheap labour from southern Europe. I heard the present Minister for Education in New South Wales (Mr. Mutch), in the main street of Tamworth, during the recent election campaign there, definitely charge the Federal National and Country parties with bringing in from southern European countries people who could live on the smell of an oil rag. He said one reason why they came here was that they did not get even the smell of an oil rag in their own countries. I did not consider it my place to interject while that gentleman was speaking.
– I did; I said that this flood of immigration ought to be stopped at once.
– They would not be in business unless they were patronized.
– The honorable member’s argument in regard to fish shops, proves them.
– That statement is not correct.
– Mr. Theodore qualified his statement by saying,, “ so- long- as they were in grouped communal settlements.”
– Would the honorable member discriminate?
..- The Labour party’s view of migration is that we have room for the people of other countries after we have found- work for’ the Australiana who want. it. We do- not approve of migration, when there are as many as 20.0 applicants for a block of land in New South Wales. I remember an occasion some, years ago when there were l,300i applications) for a block. Mere people migrate: from Victoria than from any other state; not excepting Tas mania. After the crash that, followed the land boom, thousands of Victorians went to South Australia and Western Australia,, and between 4,000 and 5,000 Australians, most of whom were Victorians:, went to South Africa. I entered the names of over 50.0 of: them in a book. Some of them had the bad taste to vote for mc in the past. How is- it that the sons of Victorian farmers go- to New South Wales?
– The honorable member was himself very often a prime mover in such matters.
.- The clause under consideration is scarcely worth discussing. We have had an admission from the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that he has already established a quota to regulate immigration into this country. If the Government can establish a quota without this bill, it can prevent migrants coming here. The clauses dealing with immigration are introduced to enable the National party to go to the country at the next election with the cry that it triedto prevent alien immigration to Australia. These clauses are intended also as a sort of sugar coating for the pill of the deportation clauses with which they are connected in the bill. I am a member of the Labour party, who is strongly opposed to assisted immigration, I do not care of what race. I shall never vote for the spending of money to bring any one to this country. In Melbourne to-day there are from 10,000 to 15,000 men out of work, and factories in every suburb are. closing down. Men who are being sacked to-day from the Sunshine harvester factory are being taxed to pay the fares of other men who will come to Australia to compete with them for the jobs that are offering. That is a scandalous state of affairs. A number of Maltese have come into this country, and scores of them are living at Sunshine. There is not one of them out of work, whilst hundreds of nativeborn Australians are being sacked every day. I believe that certain steamship companies are making large sums of money by bringing people to these shores. I should like to know the shareholders of those companies. It would be found on examination that they are not members of the Labour party. I. believe that a big organization has been formed to promote immigration for He purpose of reducing wages, increasing hours of labour, and lowering the standard .of living we have established in Australia. An honorable member opposite has said that we have a Factories Act and arbitration awards; but their provisions are being side-stepped. In an outer suburb not more than 7 miles from Melbourne, Maltese who know nothing about the work and who cannot speak a word of the English language, readily secure employment in quarries whilst hundreds of our own men are looking for work. It is rumored and generally believed, that, every pay day they have to -hand a certain proportion of their wages back to some one in the company’s employ. Their living conditions are deplorable in the extreme. They -cut a few kerosene tins asunder, nail them ou to a piece of timber with a few yards of hessian, and they call that a house. They have no sanitary arrangements at all. It is difficult to understand what the municipalities are doing. All Victorians know that there is very little Crown land available in this state for further settlement. There are, however, vast areas of magnificent country in the Western District. Unfortunately it is all fenced and so it is impossible for an immigrant to obtain land there. In the press to-day there appeared a statement by one of the witnesses before the royal commission that is inquiring into the condition of returned soldiers to the effect that 25 per cent, of the settlors in the Colac district were being driven off their holdings, because they had not a sufficient acreage upon which to make a living. These men, I remind, the committee, are young Australians. They risked their lives for their country and this is how their grateful country is treating them. Meantime they are being loaded up with taxation in order that the Government may spend millions of pounds in bringing other people into Australia. This is a crime. Charity begins at home. We should first see that our own people are able to get sufficient land <to meet their requirements. In the district represented by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Packer Moloney) there were no less than 348 applicants for one block, of land that was made available a ‘few weeks ago. The same condition, of affairs obtains in practically every part of Australia. Those who favour this immigration policy hope eventually to break down our industrial conditions.
– The honorable member’s statement is moonshine.
– That is not so.
– The honorable- member for Fawkner has denied that statement frequently.
– After what the honorable member for Fawkner said last night, he will deny anything.
– We also want to make it possible forthe producer to market his products.
– Then the honorable member would not spend any money on immigration ?
– Can the honorable member prove his statement concerning the Sunshine harvester works ?
– The honorable member’s chain of evidence isnot very complete.
– That was the policy adopted in America.
– It may be special work.
– The girls may simply watch the machines.
– I am suggesting, not that women should do the work, but that it may not be hard work.
– Was that wage for women or men?
– I should not take part in the discussion but for a certain statement by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). He. for some reason best known to himself, made an attack upon a constituent of mine, one of the biggest employers of labour in this country, a man who has done well and done fairly by those in his employ. Astounded at hearing that statement, I rang up Mr. Ferguson, the gene- . ral manager of the Sunshine Harvester Company, to ascertain whether it was correct. I find that Mr. McKay, the head of the company, is at present recuperating from an illness at Harrogate, in the south of England, and that while there he has taken no part whatever in the affairs of the company. The statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat, that immigrants are being engaged by Mr. McKay to come to this country to supplant men in. the employ of the firm, I am authorized to say is nothing but a damned lie.
– I ask the honorable member to be game enough to repeat that outside. What I said was the truth, and I ask that the honorable member’s remark be withdrawn.
– I dare both you and Mr. Ferguson to make that statement to my face.
.- The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) appears to have been very anxious to convert himself into a megaphone for Mr. H. V. McKay. He attempted to make out that that gentleman had always treated his employees admirably, but I can well remember when he was paying a very low wage to his men at Ballarat. The first wages board that was constituted under the Victorian Factories Act fixed a very low minimum wage for workers within a prescribed area, but even it was slightly higher than that paid by Mr. McKay - this noble gentleman who would not think of bringing immigrants to Australia to displace the men he had alreadyin his employ. At that time Sunshine was not in the area covered by the wages board award, so Mr. McKay removed his works there to escape it. He would have been successful had not the strong political and industrial organization then in existence forced the Government of the day to extend the provisions of the act to cover his works. He is only complying with the provisions of our industrial legislation to-day because he is compelled to do so. I am sorry to hear that he is a sick man. I am sorry for any one who is sick. He and I fought a political battle at one time. I was successful, but I do not think there is any ill-will between us on that account. There certainly is no ill-will on my part. Although I am sorry that he is sick, I am more sorry that hundreds of men and women are almost at starvation point in this country through having been denied employment. Yet this Government, in obedience to the dictates of men like Mr. Hugh V. McKay, continues to flood the country with immigrants. I believe that it is doing so simply to reduce wages, and to lower the. general standard of living. The honorable member’ for Corio would have done well kadi he pleaded with the Government to provide* work, for some of the. unemployed people- in hia electorate, hat he preferred to, be: a megaphone foc Mr. McKay., He would have been looking, tohis own! political welfare, had he thought, first, of his: unemployed! constituents.
:.Although a great deal has- been said during this debate on many aspects- of immigration, no- undertaking has been* given by the Government that it will cease to flood this country with immigrants. J have followed the history of our immigration! laws with a- great deal of interest. It. will be remembered that we- passedorara first. Immigration Rill to assist us to keep Australia white. We wished to’ prevent coloured races from coming here. May- 1 remind the honorable member for Indi” (M.v. Cook) and other honorable members that the- dictation test was provided ret that bill at the request of the British Government. W’e proposed at first to draw a colour line, but we complied with the wishes of Britain By substituting the dictation test. In the last few years the anti-labour governments that have been in power seem to have agreed tacitly with the governments of other nations, that streams.- of immigrants shall be. permitted tor pour into Australia. It is. a remarkable fact that, British immigrants are subjected to it much, more rigid health teat than aliens.. Southern Europeans are brought here* we. are told, to become agricultural workers,, but very few of them, except, those who find their way to- North Queensland, go into our country districts. Many of these people- are able to speak only three words that wc can understand, and those- are “ I vant vork.’ If they go into a refreshment room they do no* know what to order. They generally locate- themselves in our industrial areas; and in the district of the honorable member for- Hunter (Mr. Charlton)’ they are displacing Australians in the coal mines.
– Are they not paid the same wages as Australians ?
– How much work has the Labour party driven out of Australia?
– There was good reason for that.
– Tell us why the Tasmanian Labour Government sent its work out of Australia.
– How can we do that with half the population of the country in the six capital cities?
.- In speaking on the second reading of the bill I said that if it was necessary for this country to have migrants in considerable numbers for its industrial prosperity and progress, and particularly for its defence, we should have them on two conditions - first, that the industries of this country should be able to absorb them without displacing Australians; and, secondly, that they should be desirable people, who could be merged with our own population and depended upon to observe the standards we have been setting up in Australia for many years past. Some interesting quotations have been made during the debate on this bill, and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) this afternoon quoted extensively from a book -which I should like every supporter of immigration to read. It is entitled, The Immigrant: An Asset and a Liability, by Frederick J. Haskins, and it deals with this question as it affects another country. I am very glad that extracts from that book will be reprinted in Hansard, where they can be read by all who care to read them. I am opposed determinedly to this clause, because I believe Australia cannot absorb migrants of some nationalities. This country is not ready for assisted immigrants of any kind, having regard to the enormous number of Australians who -are unemployed. It is a national crime to spend the hard-earned money of the workers to meet the cost of bringing from the other side of the world people whose presence here deprives the workers of employment. My objection applies whether the migrants come from Great Britain or elsewhere. Why are there so many thousands of people out of employment in Australia? Although honorable membersopposite talk of the necessity for migrants, in the next breath they have to admit that unemployment is worse than it has been for many years past. It cannot be said too often that if we make conditions comfortable for those who are here they will send for their friends and provide openings for them. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) administered to-night a welldeserved castigation to the honorable. member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who last night, with a customary show of sincerity, tried to belabour honorable members on this side. He said we were supporting communism, to which this clause refers, for it provides that the Government may reject any undesirable migrant. The honorable member for Fawkner, in what was ostensibly a sincere speech, though really less sincere than any other speech ever made in this Parliament, and quire unworthy of his position and abilities-
- Mr. Theodore and Mr. Gillies are in favour of the immigration of Italians.
– Eight out of every ten of them stay in the cities.
– Is that the policy of the Labour party ?
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first time.
In committee (Consideration resumed) :
Clause 3 (Prohibition by proclamation).
– Honorable members opposite have covered a wide range in speaking to this clause, but they seem to have quite forgotten what it contains. They have opposed it. They say that they believe in a more drastic restriction of immigration, and they have given reasons why, in their opinion, the restrictions upon alien immigration should be made more stringent. Let me remind the committee that honorable members opposite have occupied Ministerial positions. They administered the Immigration Act during the whole of the time they were in office, but they never attempted to introduce a clause of this character. Now that a clause is submitted which is intended to carry out the policy which they say they believe in, they are unanimously opposed to it. We may well ask why this is so. I wish to direct the attention of honorable members, and also of those outside this chamber, to the object of the clause and its effect. The clause is intended to give the Government express power for the purpose of restricting alien immigration into Australia. It goes so far as to enable the Governor- General by proclamation to absolutely prohibit the immigration of aliens. Reference to the clause will show that the proposed restrictions will operate where it is deemed desirable -
These are the grounds on. which the Government is seeking power either to absolutely prohibit alien immigration or to restrict -it. The. admission of immigrants of any specified nationality, race,, class, or occupation may be restricted under the clause on the grounds I have mentioned. Why are honorable members opposite opposing the bill?
– There are only six Ministerialists present. We should have a quorum.
– Can Australians get land there ?
– Does the Minister know that, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, there are 150,000’ adults out of work in Australia?
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) put -
That the bill be declared an urgent bill.
The House divided.
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Limitation of Debate.
– I move-
That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows : - (a) for the committee stages of the bill to the end of clause 6 until 12.30 p.m. Thursday, 16th July; (b) for the committee stages of the bill to the end of clause 9 until 5.30 p.m. Thursday, 16th July; (c) for the remaining stages of the bill until 6.15 p.m. Thursday, 16th July.
The times allotted for the committee and final stages of the bill have been chosen to give an opportunity for discussion of its more important features in committee. But I remind honorable members that the measure is based on two broad principles, one relating to the restriction of immigration and the other to the power to deport. During the second reading debate some 43 or 44 speeches were made. Not the slightest restriction was placed on the discussion of the bill; on the contrary every opportunity was given to debate its principles. But we cannot continue to discuss one measure week after week without reaching finality. For the proper conduct of public business we should recognize the necessity of allocating a reasonable time for the discussion of proposals for legislation. This involves no curtailment of the rights of free speech or of the privileges of Parliament. The business of the House of Commons is regularly conducted by the allotment of time for the consideration of measures. It would be well for .the conduct of public business and would be in the interest of honorable members themselves if we adopted the practice of allocating reasonable times for the discussion of all measures, because the exceptional application of the power to do so creates in the minds of honorable members the feeling that their rights are being restricted. I do not think any one could suggest that the fullest opportunity has not been given to honorable members to express the opinions regarding the principles underlying the bill.. The time allocated for the committee stages is ample for the further discussion of its various clauses, and I trust that honorable members will discuss them and not the motion which I have moved to expedite the transaction of the business of the country.
.- I do not desire to take up too much of the time that has been allocated by the Government for the discussion of this measure, but I protest most emphatically against this method of conducting the business of this chamber.
– It refers to aliens as well.
– I am familiar with the provisions of the bill.
.- I understand that for an all-too-brief period I shall be permitted to protest against the arbitrary limitation of the time in which we may discuss this bill. The Prime Minister, of whom 1 was deeply suspicious as soon as I saw him enter the chamber, with a look of innocence which was incompatible with his intentions, has just given reasons, in his most conciliatory manner, not unlike the pompous attitude adopted by a shopwalker on a rainy day-
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee. (Consideration resumed) :
Clause 3 (Prohibition by proclamation).
– Prior to the very interesting diversion that has just occurred, the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) indulged in a few flamboyant utterances regarding this bill. The clause under consideration gives to the Government a power which members of the Opposition say it already has, to prevent the influx of undesirable alien immigrants who may at any time menace the safety of this country. The AttorneyGeneral said that the Labour party, when it was in power, did not bring forward legislation to deal with the circumstances which, we say to-day, are menacing the well-being of a largo number of workers. I point out to the Minister that it is ten years since there was a federal Labour administration, and that ten years ago there was not that pronounced flow of southern Europeans that has manifested itself in the last two years. What is the reason for this stream of migrants? The explanation is to be found largely in the restrictive legislation passed by the Congress of the United States of America. The shipping companies of the southern European countries must carry cargoes, human or otherwise, and so they have carried out an intensive immigration campaign in the country districts of southern Europe, obtaining immigrants to come to Australia, since the door is closed in the United States of America. By that means they fill their ships with human freight for Australia. It does not matter to them whether the passengersare permitted to land in this country, for if they are not, they are expected to cable to their homeland for money to take them’ back. Thus the companies have freight for their ships to and fro. They find their way back to their native country as best they can. These people formerly flocked to America in thousands, because it offered better opportunities than were afforded in their own countries, and on arrival they were taken up by the employing class, who saw in people ignorant of the English language and local industrial conditions a new chance for commercial and industrial exploitation. Although the stream of immigration to Australia may not be very great to-day, I warn the workers that, if southern Europeans are allowed to enter in ever-increasing numbers, the conditions which obtain in the industrial centres of America will develop here. In the United States of America, adjacent to big iron works, are colonics of Germans, Italians, Servians, Montenegrins, Russians, Poles, and other races from central, southern, and eastern Europe. The different races are congregated in separate communities, which cannot speak the English language or converse with their neighbours. Employers even employ a different race on each shift, and agents are engaged to go amongst the workers and tell them that the men of other nationalities do better work and are held in higher esteem by the employers. In this way they seek to recreate upon American soil those racial hatreds and jealousies that are a curse to portions of Europe. We do not desire that condition of affairs to develop in Australia, and we should take now the necessary preventive measures. Our first duty is to Australia, regardless of what nation we offend.
– A nurse in Port Pirie told us that the beds in one establishment are never cold, because they are occupied by shift after shift.
– The new arrivals have been decreasing during the last few months, because of the action that the Government has taken.
– The same thing happens in every state in the Commonwealth, including Queensland, yet there are millions of acres available. The trouble is that people want choice blocks.
– Five hundred men could find employment on the roads of the shires in Victoria alone, and at arbitration award rates.
– Does the honorable member say that he paid £80 a mile for the erection of a fence?
– I could get the honorable member any number of men to erect fences at £80 per mile.
– I am no worse in that respect than some of the seamen the honorable member supports. They do not want the Arbitration Court.
– On a point of order, I submit that the House has dealt with the question of urgency, and we are now in committee discussing clause 3 of the bill.
– The clauses dealing with restrictive immigration are closely associated with the problem of unemployment, and a good deal of the debate has hinged on this subject. Although there has been much castigation of the Government, I for one have not forgotten that credit isdue to the Government for their efforts to find employment for some people - somewhere. I believe in the old saying. “ Give the devil his due.” The unemployment problem is not peculiar to Australia. In Europe unemployment is rife, due mainly to the aftermath of the war, but the war is hardly the cause of unemployment in Australia to-day. It is the duty of the Government to find employment for its unemployed, particularly, if it can be done, by helping to build up important industries. Now, there was an opportunity to build up the iron and steel industry in Australia by constructing here the two cruisers for which we have appropriated money, and thereby giving employment to thousands of our workmen. Instead of doing that, tenders have been let abroad, and employment given to people of other countries - Great Britain, and even France and Germany, because much of the material used will probably be made in those countries. That stands to the credit of the Government, surely !
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I must ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the subject of the prohibition of immigration by proclamation.
– It has been the custom ever since the establishment of the Federal Parliament for the Government of the day to provide means for honorable members to reach their homes in reasonable comfort whenever the sitting of either House has continued until it was too late to catch the last trams or trains. I understand that on this occasion the Government does not propose to recognize that custom.
Thursday, 16 July 1925
– It had not. When I came into the chamber the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) said he wished to continue and finish his speech.
– The honorable member for Barton asked to be allowed to speak for two or three minutes.
– Are we . not losing valuable sleep now?
– It all appears to be due to a misunderstanding.
– I wish to make a personal explanation in justice to the Honorary Minister (Mr. Marr) and the honorable the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom). The Honorary Minister asked me if I had any inclination to speak, and I said, “ Yes, I would like two or three minutes.”
– 1 very much regret that there should have been a misunderstanding. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that nothing is further from my thoughts or desires than to show discourtesy to him or honorable members of his party. When I saw that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) was speaking, I did not seek to stop him, because he has recently been the victim of a somewhat unfortunate circumstance.
– Ministers are never prepared to do a fair thing in the absence of the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister had been here the misunderstanding would not have occurred.
.I clearly understood that when the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) sat down, the House would adjourn. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) and other honorable members opposite also understood that. The result of not adjourning was that I missed the last tram, and had to order a motor oar. The car is now outside, and although I am not a rich man, I shall have to pay for it. The right honorable the Prime Minister can have a car at any time.
– There is an idea in the minds of honorable members on this side that the Government is trying to take an unfair advantage of them. The Prime Minister has said that when he came into the House I was speaking. That is so. I was due to sit down at five minutes past 11, and I did so under direction from the Chair. But progress was not reported then, and to secure continuity in my remarks, I rose again, as I was entitled to do under the standing order. Honorable members on this side interpreted the inaction of the Minister in charge of the House to mean that the Government desired to sit late. A time limit for the consideration of the bill had been fixed, and the Government apparently sought to force a member of the Opposition to ask that progress be reported. It would have been wrong for any honorable member of the Opposition to do that. I seek no concessions from the Prime Minister; he is in control of the House while he has a majority, as we hope a Labour Prime Minister will be after the next election If, at, say, 11.15, he had intimated to me by interjection that he wanted to adjourn, I should have resumed my seat.
– I rise to a point of order. Yesterday evening the House, by resolution, fixed times for the completion of the various stages of the Immigration Bill. The time allotted for the completion of the earlier clauses is 12.30 p.m. on Thursday. The resolution did not specify any time for terminating the present sitting, and I desire to know whether any Minister can, by moving that progress be reported, take away from the House the time already allotted for the consideration of the bill?
– At 10 o’clock last night, the House resolved that certain portions of the Immigration Bill should be dealt with by 12.30 to-day, and then the Government decided to reduce the allotted time by moving that progress be reported. I do not complain of any discourtesy that the Government might choose to place upon members of the Opposition. I do not ask for courtesy from Ministers; I can find means of getting to my home at any hour of the night; but, in fairness to those who wish to discuss this measure, the consideration in committee should have been continued, at any rate, until the debate had progressed so far as to ensure that for the completion of the committee stage a reasonable time would be available at the next sitting. I am opposed to the reporting of progress now when the consideration of certain clauses must be completed in an hour and a half after re-assembling on Thursday. Honorable members on this side are ready to Apply themselves to this measure, and if it is urgent, as the Government has declared it is, we should deal with it tonight. The Government wasted eight months in recess, and when Parliament belatedly met, the Prime Minister attacked the Opposition for not speaking on the Address-in-Reply, which meant nothing! But the Immigration Bill is important, not because of any good it may achieve, but because of the injury it may do to the Australian people, and we should have the fullest opportunity to discuss it. The Government has guillotined the bill because it wishes Parliament to adjourn for three weeks for a lot of junketing; for that reason this Parliament may not debate proposals that involve the flooding of the Commonwealth with immigrants at a time when there is unprecedented unemployment throughout Australia. Honorable members opposite are not prepared to allow honorable members on this side to ex-, press their views. I suggest that the House should return into committee on the Immigration Bill, so that honorable members who do represent some earnest thought) -regarding it may express the views they hold. If honorable members who support the Government have said all they wish to say, we on this side of the House demand an opportunity to express the views of the people who sent us here.
– I, too, prefer that the consideration of the bill in committee should be resumed immediately. Probably we shall have less than an hour to discuss the first portion of the measure at the next sitting. The Government having been so mean, I look to it for no. courtesy to-night. Parliament has been idle long enough; but, instead of passing legislation that would promote the best interests of the people, the Government is hurriedly forcing through the House a measure that will create turmoil and trouble. If that ia the aim of the so-called statesmen who lead this Parliament, God help this country ! The only decent thing we can do is to continue the committee discussion forthwith.
– The clauses of the Immigration Bill dealing with the question of deportation have an important bearing on the welfare of a great number of people in this country. Honorable members on this side are vitally concerned in the matter because they have the interests of the great majority of the people of Australia at heart, and not those of the section who have no reason to worry about getting employment or about providing themselves with a livelihood. We are here primarily in the interests of the workers and the small farmers and producers of the Commonwealth. Instead of curtailing the discussion of the measure, the Government should give honorable members every opportunity to debate it at length. After months of a recess, during which Ministers were squandering the people’s money in joy rides around the country, the Government proposes to close the House at the end of this week, when, no doubt, there will be a great deal of junketing for three weeks, at the expense of the country. Honorable members are sent here to do the work of the people. The members of the Opposition recognize that they are charged with a very responsible duty, and they are not prepared to shirk it because the time happens to be half-past 12 in the morning. Honorable members on the other side are acting in this matter at the dictation of the shipping combines outside.
– May I ask you, sir, how long I am permitted under the Standing Orders to speak to the question?
– I move -
That the question be now put.
– I direct attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member is keeping people out of bed.
– Whatever the honorable member is doing, he is doing it badly.
– I admit that, but the honorable member for Batman will not.
– On a point of order, I ask whether the remarks of the honorable member for Batman are relevant to the motion before the House.
– The honorable member flatters himself.
– The honorable member’s speech is very tedious.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that the motion before the Chair is that progress be reported.
– As the discussion which is now taking place-
– Can the whole purpose and scope of the bill be discussed on the motion before the House ?
– I am not satisfied with the honorable member.
– I think the name of a fish would apply to the honorable member. He is a flounder.
– If the honorable member objects to being called a flounder I will withdraw it.
– The very fine speech which the honorable member for Batman is making deserves at least a quorum to hear it.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Only two of the honorable member’s colleagues are present.
– Does the honorable member believe in an eight-hour day ?
– Now the ponderous platitudes are being got ready.
– I made no reference to the honorable member.
– I wish to direct attentionto the state of the House. [Quorum formed..]
– Honorable members are not very considerate in keeping the officers of the House up all night.
– I raise the point as one of order, but if the matter is not within your jurisdiction, Mr. Speaker, I shall not press it.
– The honorable member knows that that is not so. I told the Leader of the Opposition at midnight that conveyances would be provided for honorable members.
– Some little time ago your attention, sir was drawn to the state of the House, but you were not then prepared to recognize the call for a quorum. I ask whether I may now draw your attention to the absence of a quorum.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the House.
– The honorable member’s leader objected that the House did’ not adjourn early enough. : I
-I am reluctant to disturb the serenity of honorable members by calling for a quorum, but I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the state of the House.
– What is the trouble? Do honorable members opposite wish to go on with the bill?
– Very well; I accept the amendment. This will give honorable members an opportunity for a short rest before we resume consideration of the bill in committee.
.- The portion of the bill dealing with immigration is really sham legislation designed to hide the real purpose of the provisions relating to deportation; During the last recess, numerous deputations, representing responsible bodies in Australia, waited on theFederal Ministry and complained of the influxof aliens into Australia. The South Australian Government asked the CommonwealthGovernmentto curtail alien immigration and received a reply from the Ministerfor Home and Terri tories to the effect that the Ministry was fully seized of the seriousness of the position, and was taking steps to curtail the number of aliens arriving in Australia. Although the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has stated that the bill makes provision for a further curtailment of alien immigration, yet honorable members supporting the Government have said that they favour the introduction of southern Europeans into Australia. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) said that they were suitable citizens for this country, and to support his remarks he quoted a recent statement of Mr. Theodore, the ex-Premier of Queensland. I have had considerable experience of southern Europeans, because many aliens of various nationalities have settled in my electorate. There is a considerable difference between the people from the north of Italy and those from other parts of southern Europe. The northern Italians are cultured to some extent and could readily be assimilated in Australia, but such immigrants as the Greeks will never make good Australian citizens. The standard of living in this country would be seriously lowered by a large influx of people of the Greek type. Generally speaking, they must remain unskilled labourers, for they are not suitable to put on the land, and certainly will never be of any service in developing our outback areas. In determining the real opinions of honorable members who support the Government, one has to have regard to the views generally expressed by the members of their parties. Sir Henry Barwell, the conservative ex-Premier of South Australia, on one occasion shortly after the war told the workers in Adelaide that thetrouble with Australian workers was that their standard of living was too good, and their wages too high. He said that they ought to accept a reduction of wages, and if they did not voluntarily agree to do so he would do his best to compel them. In my opinion, honorable members opposite who belong to the same party as Sir Henry Barwell believe what he was bold enough to say. If these people are allowed to come here in large numbers, the various trade unions will lose control of the men engaged in industry, and a reduction of wages will undoubtedly follow. The greatestpossible restriction should be imposed upon their entry to Australia, and this Parliament will be acting in the best interests of the country if it makes definite provision for restricting it. It is greatly to be regretted that southern European migrants are able to come to Australia without submitting themselves to proper medical examination. On that point I quote the following Melbourne telegram, which was published in the Adelaide press on 23rd January: -
Melbourne, January 22.
Immigrants from Southern Europe receive preferential treatment because they are not examined medically on embarkation for Australia. This fact was deduced from evidence by the Director-General of Health (Dr. Cumpston) before the Federal Royal Commission on Health. He said intending immigrants in England were examined by the High Commissioner’s Department. The High Commissioner was not a medical man, and did not supply the Health Department with the knowledge required. A senior intelligence officer of the Health Department should be stationed in London.
Dr. Cumpston told the Commission that a trip round the Pacific showed that the islands were peopled now greatly with Asiatics. Apart from the political significance, this was a serious health matter. Australia was liable to have introduced infectious diseases common to Asia. In some of the island groups of the Pacific there was no attempt at public health.
It is only fair to our own people that we should at least make certain that immigrants who come here are healthy. There should also be a language test. The conditions under which some of them are living in various Australian towns are deplorable, and in many cases their difficulties have been accentuated because of their ignorance of our language. It is also unfair to these people themselves that they should be encouraged, as at present there is dire distress existing amongst them in many parts of Australia. The following is a Broken Hill telegram, which was published in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 27th August last: -
Broken Hill, 26th August. Twenty-five Greeks asked the local police today to aid them in finding employment. They stated that they came to Australia from Greece expecting to find employment easily,but had failed in their quest. Some of the men came from America. They are living here under hard conditions, paying 2s. for a room. They are without bedding, and owing to the cold are unable to sleep. Most of the men are married, with wives in Greece. They came to the Outer Harbour and then straight to Broken Hill. They were not subjected to any language test before entering the Commonwealth. At Broken Hill their inability to speak English is a bar to their employment.
The local police are communicating with Sydney in connexion with the plight of the foreigners.
It is most unfair that these migrants should be placed in ‘this unfortunate position. The following press report, published on the 28th January of this year, speaks for itself : -
On the Verge of Starvation.
A sorry story is told of the plight of Greek Immigrants in Victoria, 200of whom are said to be out of work and almost starving. They cannot speak English.
Melbourne, 27th January.
Two hundred Greek immigrants who landed in Melbourne a few weeks ago with scanty capital, are now practically on the verge of starvation, and are unable to obtain employment.
This morning a letter was sent by the honorary Greek Consul (Mr. A. V. Maniachi) to the Lord Mayor (Mr. Brunton), directing attention to the plight of these men, and asking for assistance. In the letter it was stated the men had paid their own fare to Melbourne, and unless something was done they would be absolutely penniless. They were, it was explained to the Lord Mayor, mostly of the peasant class, and did not look for charity. “ I ask that you use your influence to get these men on the land, or to assist in repatriating them,” the letter concludes.
Mr. Maniachi stated to day that in the last few days he had signed passports for 50 or 60 disappointed Greeks and Jugo-Slavs to return to their country. The others could not go because they had no money. The plight of these men was desperate.
The Greeks are living a sort of community life in Greek restaurants in Melbourne, and many are receiving charity from their friends.
Mr. Maniachi explained that, unlike Italians, who were supported by rich Governments, Greek immigrants here were not being assisted in their blind search for employment by any paid Greek labour organizer who knew the country. “ Many of these men’ have come to Australia because of encouraging letters received from friends here, and others have been deceived by agents in Italy, who have made money out of them,” he added. “These agents advance them their fares, which are to he paid when they obtain work. If the fares are not repaid money is extracted from their relatives in Greece by something tantamount to terrorism. Then the men, who were mostly farmers in Greece, have been told that they can earn ?3 or ?4 a week here. They have been fighting for seven or eight years in the war, and are handicapped by not being able to speak English.
One could quote newspaper reports of the deplorable plight of these people in all the capital cities of Australia. Their poverty, in some cases, is pitiable. The last time I was at my home in’ Port Pirie, South Australia, I was informed that many southern European immigrants were in a most abject condition, and were being supported by other people. Some of their own countrymen, who were financially able to do so, were bearing the largest share of the burden. It is undeniable that the private life ‘ of these southern Europeans is far below the standard of the private life of our people, and it is unfair that they should be permitted to come here to reduce our standard of living. Honorable members opposite have frequently” said that the Labour party is opposed to immigration. That is not correct. We are opposed to the introduction of large numbers of foreigners into Australia unless proper provision is made to employ them on their arrival. Migrants should not be brought here until the country can absorb them. We believe that land should be made available first for landless Australians, and afterwards for suitable immigrants. It is hypocritical for the Government to express a desire for such a large number of immigrants while it adds to the unemployment in Australia by sending so much work abroad. If it were desirous of providing for immigrants, it would have as much work as possible clone here. Its action in sending orders for cruisers abroad is not consistent with its desire for immigrants. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people in my electorate who are trying to get land, but cannot obtain it. The Prime Minister has not honoured the promise he made to this House last year, when the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and I advocated the removal of the embargo upon the entry of Germans. He then said that he would bring down proposals for amending the part of the act that deals with that matter. In his secondreading speech on this bill the honorable member for Angas again dealt with that subject. I have a large number of Germans in my electorate, and am in close touch with them, and recognize that they are very desirable settlers. We have signed a peace treaty with Germany, but the stigma that we placed upon Germans still remains. The German people in Australia desire this concession more than anything else, for they wish some, of their friends in
Germany to join them. The right honorable the Prime Minister said that the embargo would be interpreted leniently, and that many Germans would still be allowed to come to this country. During the past year I have referred to the Minister several requests connected with this matter, and I have discovered that the act is not being interpreted leniently. I have received the following letter bearing on the point from one of my constituents: -
I am in receipt of yours of 4th instant and note contents, for which I thank you.
Herewith please find particulars of my brother as requested by you.
My brother wishes to come out to Australia to settle on the land. He is willing to pay his full passage money, and does not desire to be assisted financially. I will undertake to see that lie has sufficient money until he is able to establish himself, and that he will not have to rely on the Government in any way. He is willing to become naturalized as a British subject as soon after his arrival in the Commonwealth as the law of the land will allow.
His occupation is a farm labourer.
Age 31 on the 6th of October; 1924.
His present address Danzig, Germany.
He has been married since 1921, and has one child.
He enjoys excellent health, and is prepared, if necessary, to procure a medical certificate.
He is also willing to obtain credentials from the police and other sources as to his character.
He was a fireman on a British ship on the outbreak of war, and was interned in England for the duration of the war on the arrival of his vessel in England. He has never had any military training owing to his eyesight. He has never fought against the British Sovereign or Empire.
If there are any further particulars you might require I would be pleased to forward same on to you.
I am enclosing herewith’ copy of testimonial from the manager of the Bank of Adelaide, Cleve. If you desire to see the original I will forward it to you for your perusal and return to me.
That is only one of many letters I have received. The man referred to should have been allowed to come to this country, in which event he would by now be a farmer in the Cleve district. We are every year receiving a larger quantity of imports from Germany. The war has been over for seven years, and the embargo should certainly be lifted in accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise last year. I mentioned last year that some of the best pioneers in my district were Germans; they are expert farmers, and excellent settlers, and are equal in every way to Australian settlers.
They are racially the nearest race to the British, and are entitled to some consideration. I do not wish it to be assumed that if this embargo is lifted there will be a great influx of Germans. A number of them, similar to the one I have mentioned, would come. The Germans who have made good on the land in Australia wish their friends to be with them. The man who wrote me that letter told me in another letter that his brother, believing the embargo would be lifted this year, had sold his home and prepared to come to Australia. I placed the letter before the department, but the man was prevented from coming to Australia. Where could we find a more desirable settler than that man ? If there is one class of labourer that we can absorb, it is the farm labourer. That man is already a farm labourer in Germany, and if he came to Australia he would take up farming with his brother, who has promised to assist him. I have made inquiries as to when a bill to amend this provision of the act will be brought down, but I have received no satisfaction.
– The attitude of members of the Opposition towards immigration is difficult to understand. They profess to be very fearful that the coming of a large number of migrants to this country would interfere with Australian workers, but they do not seem to realize that the purpose of this clause is to prevent that from happening. The clause makes it very clear that migrants will not be allowed to interfere with Australian workers. If the economic conditions in Australia were such that immigrants were not required the clause would enable the Government to prevent them from coming here. I cannot understand why honorable members opposite oppose it. Surely they should be satisfied with the safeguards it provides. They appear to speak with two voices. When I spoke on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply in the first session of this Parliament, I twitted them with being opposed to immigration, and there was a chorus of dissent from them. They alleged that I had libelled them. I noticed during the debate on this bill that some of them said that they were opposed to immigration. Others have said they, were in favour of migrants being allowed to come here on certain conditions; but what werethe conditions? The condition mentioned by most of them was that there should be no immigration while unemployment existed in Australia. But there will always be some unemployment in this country. There is a large number of unemployables who will always be unemployed. To show the class of man who is unemployable I shall relate a true story. A lady who was honorary treasurer of a benevolent society used to give money to needy people in the city. They came regularly to her, and among them was a large, strong young man, who had a wife and one or two children. The lady said to him, “ Why do you need to come to me for money; why don’t you get work ?” He replied, “ I cannot get work, because there is none.” She said, “ I know there is work in the country; why not go there?” He answered, “ I am a town man ; you cannot expect me to go to the country.” That illustrates the attitude of a large number of men; work is obtainable in the country, but they refuse to leave the populous centres. It is futile for honorable members opposite to say that they will support immigration when there are no unemployed in the Commonwealth. There will always be men who are unemployable, because they will not leave the cities to get work. Honorable members have said that there is a conspiracy on the part of employers to introduce aliens in order to bring about a reduction of wages. There is no justification for that statement. I do not know of any instance in which aliens are paid less than the standard rate of wage, and I am not aware of any employer who desires to introduce cheap labour from other parts of the world. ‘ That ground of objection is purely imaginary. We are all agreed that the Government should ensure that all immigrants are of the right class. We cannot hold Australia unless its population is considerably augmented. Provided that immigration is not overdone, and the labour market is not flooded, the more people who come to our country and engage in production, the more employment there will be for our people. That has been the experience of other countries, notably the
United States of- America and Canada. Therefore, honorable members opposite, instead of opposing the bill, should welcome it.
Mr. A. GREEN (Kalgoorlie) [3.50 a.m. . - The Government has not handled this bill in a businesslike way. The quota system should have been adopted, as it has been in America with very satisfactory results. Had quotas been specified in the measure honorable members on this side would have been satisfied that the Government was earnestly desirous of prohibiting undesirable immigrants. The honorable member for Riverina stated that some members of the Labour party are opposed to all immigration. I have not heard any honorable member on this side make that statement. The attitude of the Labour party is that if large numbers of people already in Australia are unemployed because of a dearth of work, it is folly to permit people to come here from other countries to look for work. That attitude is not selfish or unfair. His labour is the worker’s only capital, and in self-protection he must see that his daily job is assured. The man of means, who is not dependent on a master for a job, is not personally concerned when large numbers of people are unemployed, whilst a surplus of labour may be to the advantage of the employers. Immigrants from southern Europe, because they are more pliant, may be more acceptable to the capitalist, but the trade unionist regards them as persons who are likely to lower his standard of living. Such being his fear, he is justified in protecting his own livelihood, his home, and his family. Every man recognizes that Australia with 6,000,000 people is not sufficiently populated, and that if it is to become great it cannot depend upon the natural increase of the .present population.
– The honorable member’s speech is sufficiently important to warrant a call for a quorum. [Quorum formed.] -Mr. A. GREEN. - Our objections to immigration are purely economic. We desire to preserve employment for the workers already in Australia; and if the Government’s proposals were more definite we should readily have accepted them, because we should have known that the restrictive machinery being created by the bill would actually operate. The Prime Minister stated that the United States of America introduced the quota system in order to ensure that the immigrants arriving there should be such as the country could assimilate, but the main objection in America to unrestricted immigration is based upon economic grounds, rather than upon the community’s inability to assimilate some races. Let me give a few quotations’ from a work entitled Immigration and Labour, by Isaac Hourwich, a doctor of philosophy. He says -
It is recognized on ail sides that the present movement for restriction of immigration has a purely economic object: the restriction of competition in tlie labour market. Organized labour demands the extension of the protectionist policy to the home market -in which “ hands “ - the labourers’ only commodity - are offered for sale. The advocates of restriction believe that every immigrant admitted to this country takes the place of some American working man. At the inception of the restrictionist movement in the 80’s and the early !)0’s, they were avowedly opposed to immigration in general. The subsequent decline of immigration from the British Isles, Germany, and Scandinavia, and the increase of immigration from southern and eastern Europe have diverted the attack from immigration in general to “ the new immigration “ from southern and eastern Europe, and the Asiatic provinces of Turkey. Yet while the root of all evil is now sought in the racial make-up of the new immigration, as contrasted with the old, every objection to the immigrants from southern and eastern Europe is but an echo of ibo complaints which were made at an earlier day against the then new immigration from Ireland, Germany, and even from England. Three-quarters of a century ago, as today, the only good immigrants were the dead immigrants.
Honorable members will see that the workers of the United States of America set their faces not merely against new immigrants from southern ‘ -Europe, but also against the immigration of Germans, Irish, English, Scotch, and people from the northern parts of Europe.
– Is that not a good thing for Australia ?
– I presume the honorable member realizes that that is a matter for the State Parliaments?
– I join in. congratulating you, Mr. Mann, on your appointment as a Temporary Chairman of Committees.
.- Every right-thinking man must agree that it is necessary to limit the influx into Australia of such people as the Jugo Slavs, southern Italians, and Greeks. But it must also be admitted that if we are to retain Australia for the Empire we must increase our population. We have only 6,000,000 people occupying a territory as large as that which 115,000,000 occupy in America. It is inconceivable that that will be tolerated for any length of time bv those nations of the world which need an outlet for their surplus population. It would be infinitely better to spend tens of thousands of pounds in opening up this country, building roads and railways, constructing division fence’s, cutting up land, and doing other necessary work than to spend it on war, which may become necessary if we fail to populate the empty spaces of our great Commonwealth.
The best means of defence’ that we can have is millions of pairs of white arms. It is most unsatisfactory that more than half of our population resides in the various capital cities. Living con.ditions are much better in the cities than in the country. Men receive higher pay, work shorter hours, and enjoy much better recreation facilities in the metropolitan areas than in the rural districts. I was taken to task some time ago by honorable members opposite for stating that certain shires that I am associated with could employ 500 men immediately on necessary public work if the men were available. Since making that speech I have had the opportunity to go through these districts, and I find that I understated the position. Considerably more than 500 men could be absorbed. Many shires have been unable to expend the money granted to them on the £1 for £1 basis by the Commonwealth Government. They have invited tenders for numerous works, and frequently not a single one has been received. An experience I had recently in respect to a property that I acquired in New South Wales revealed to me that it was almost impossible to get men to undertake tank-sinking. Tan k.sinkers are wanted in many parts of that state. A pound spent on public works in these days does not yield the return that an expenditure of 10s. gave about fifteen years ago, and the 2s. municipal rate of to-day is of less real value than the ls. rate of twenty years ago. The excessive cost of public work, as well as the difficulty in obtaining’ men, has been a tremendous problem to various local governing bodies. The day-labour system has been responsible for a definite slowing down in output. I have had a lifetime of experience in farming, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that no farmer could adopt the day-labour system and work at a profit under award rates and prices received for most of his products. I have worked hard all my life, and in my younger days received only 10s. per week. I know pretty well all there is to know about roughing it. I have also had a good deal of experience while travelling through Australia as a member of the Public Works Committee. It is beyond question that one of the main hindrances to industrial and commercial progress today is that results are not obtained commensurate with the wages paid; but the same is unfortunately true of bur great rural industries. Dairying is one of the most sweated industries ‘ in Australia. Butter is sold to-day for considerably under half the cost of production, and our dairy farmers in many districts, notwithstanding that many live a life of absolute drudgery and work from daylight to dark, are unable to make a decent living. The unsatisfactory state of affairs in our country districts is causing many pf our best settlers to remove to the city. In view of the high cost of living and the artificial conditions prevailing in the towns, the wages paid to artisans are not more than sufficient to provide them with the necessaries of life. They could not reasonably be expected to live on less. It would- be impossible to employ a considerable number of immigrants at Australian rates of wages in the cities, but in the country, under the conditions to which I, my family, and other settlers are subject, there is room for hundreds of thousands of them. I do not believe in preaching war - God forbid that we should have another - but I ask honorable members to consider the value of this great Australia of ours, its possibilities, its climate, its healthiness, and, above all, its dangerous emptiness. Would it not be wise for honorable members to sink party differences, to tackle this great problem in a comprehensive way, and to spend millions of pounds on profitable developmental enterprises? It would be better to spend money in that way than on arms and ammunition. The cost of -a war lasting a very short time would be more than would provide for the development of this country over a long period. We require roads and railways and other developmental works. I was pleased to hear the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), who struck a different note from that struck by many members of the Opposition. I agree with him, and the Premier of Western Australia, who has been to Europe, and knows what it is to be’ Premier ‘of a large, empty state, also agrees with him. Western Australia is second to no state in Australia, except perhaps Queensland, and for the growing of wheat and the production of sheep it will beat even Queensland. Its Premier knows of its great undeveloped resources; and that is why he says that a. well-directed scheme of migration will do no . harm to this country, and that to increase our population will not necessarily increase unemployment. I agree with him. The more we develop the country the more the towns will prosper. The sum of £35,000,000 to be provided by Great Britain, is only an instalment. In view of possibilities in the future Great Britain is desirous of populating her dominions so that they may be able to face any situation that may arise. When that money has been spent judiciously, and settlement has been extended in accordance with the agreement, it will be a simple matter to approach the Mother Country with a view to a further loan of a similar amount. I am sick of hearing the cry of unemployment, which members of the Opposition continually raise. ‘ One would think that there was nothing left for these people but to lie down and die. What did the old pioneers do, and what are the people in the country doing now? A great- deal has been said about the invasion of North Queensland by Italians. One honorable member in this House champions the German migrant, but I back the Italian against any German I have ever seen. I have worked with the northern Italians. The Chiltern and Rutherglen mines employed many of them, and they developed into splendid, honorable citizens. They married, reared respectable families, and a number of them now possess substantial banking accounts. Such men are a credit to our country. The Italians on the sugar-fields have been largely responsible for the soundness of the sugar industry to-day. I give the governments of Australia credit for the assistance given to the industry in its early stages, but when we consider that there is a surplus of 200,000 tons of sugar to export, it is obvious that the industry is now being conducted on a’ big scale. Italians who have not been there very long have, to my knowledge, paid £10,000 cash on a £20,000 purchase of land mostly under cane. I have spoken to Britishers and Italians, and have conversed with policemen, storekeepers, and auctioneers in an endeavour to obtain all the information available about the industrial and other qualities of these people in the north of Queensland. The principal complaint made against them is that they work too hard. They are good unionists. At a union meeting at Cairns the question of the percentage of Italians to be employed was discussed. An Italian said that he and a number of other Italians had paid their union fees, and now it was proposed to prevent them from earning a livelihood. He made out a good case on his own behalf. The Italian., although he is a. good unionist, does not like day labour; he prefers piece-work, and takes it whenever he can get it. Five Italians went to an Australian grower in the north and asked for a job. He said he had no money, but plenty of work. They cleared his land, and came back later and harvested his crop. They took their pay after the harvesting, and were “maintained in the meantime by the Italian Consul. That is the mettle that has developed Australia. Although I should like my family and others to enjoy every conceivable comfort, I have to recognize that it is impossible for them to do so. It appears to me that members of the Opposition would favour migrants coming here if they could have good jobs and sleep on feather beds, with everything spick and span and no unemployed in the country. If they wait for those conditions before endorsing a policy of migration they will have to wait a very long time. Parts of this country are as unpopulated to-day as land in Melbourne was 80 years ago. We would all like to obtain good conditions for the migrant, as well as for ourselves, and the way to do it is to tackle the great developmental reproductive . works that need to be carried out. The northern Italians are not here long before they are looking for land of their own, and they do not work merely eight hours a. day, but all the hours they can work. If any one despises them for that, I do not agree with him, because I have done the same myself. I want to populate Australia with Britishers, but if we cannot obtain enough of them, I am quite satisfied to give other people a trial. I trust that the bill will realize our hopes and prove the salvation of the country. It is more restrictive than the existing law. Although there is unemployment in the cities, there is work for hundreds of thousands of men under conditions such as I and my family enjoy in the country.
.While I do not question the sincerity of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. R. Cook), I am surprised that he should be so disloyal to his Government as to delay, the passage of this bill by contributing to the discussion. I feel some surprise at the mixed sentiments to which he has given utterance, and his speech has left me, if I may be permitted to quote a Shakespearian phrase, “ as cold as a dead man’s nose.” At the outset of his remarks he indulged in unqualified abuse - of the workers of the Commonwealth, whom he accused of leaning on the Government too much. The honorable’ member’s memory must be particularly short if he has forgotten that the section which he is alleged to represent in this Parliament has repeatedly requested assistance from the Government. I do not desire to malign the farmers, but there is a considerable body of the public who would give the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) the retort courteous by saying that the farmers also are leaning upon the Government. I do not make that charge against them, because the party with whom I am associated has repeatedly gone to the aid of the primary producers and other sections of the community in order to mete out even-handed justice and cause greater prosperity in the community. The honorable member for Indi made many dogmatic statements which he did not support with facts. For instance, he said there was not sufficient labour to supply country requirements. I make bold to deny that assertion, and to say that if labour cannot be secured in some places in the country it is because of local circumstances - possibly the faulty management of the Roads Board or municipal council - and not to any lack of desire on the part of idle workers to accept rural employment. The honorable member also- spoke of the priceless heritage we possess in this great Commonwealth. I yield nothing to him in patriotic fervour for my native land, for my record of service to my country is equal to his. The best way to serve one’s ‘ country is not to traduce its workmen, but to create prosperity and increased employment by the breaking up of large estates, thus bringing about conditions which will promote a natural flow of immigrants and their ready absorption. The honorable member seemed to regard the migration agreement between the ‘Commonwealth and Imperial Governments as a panacea for all our ills,, and he expressed the hope that further sums would be available from the British Government for similar purposes. Me omitted to mention that the agreement is governed by conditions which include a guarantee of work and land for the immigrants brought to Australia under the scheme. Having regard to the evidence already adduced that thousands of Australian farmers, and the sons of farmers, are unable to get the land they require, and that 150,000 of our people are unemployed, those conditions require the most careful consideration. The honorable member ridiculed the statement about unemployment, but for his benefit and that of others I shall place upon record official statistics. When the 1921 Census was taken there were in the Commonwealth 1,661,973 wage or salary earners, of whom 159,188 were out of work. The causes of unemployment were thus set out : Scarcity of employment, 74,843 ; illness, 39,350; accident, 4,802; industrial disputes, 4,539; old age, 2,139; other causes, 25,991; cause not stated, 7,524. Recently Mr. Sutcliffe, of the Statistical Department, stated that 150,000 people in Australia were out of work now. That is a serious state of affairs. - The figures usually quoted in regard to unemployment are somewhat misleading, because they are based upon the trade union membership only, and the unions, unfortunately, do. not include all wage and salary earners in the Commonwealth. The only way to secure accurate information is to ascertain the proportion of unemployed in all industries and occupations. I adhere to the assertion previously made that today 150,000 people in the Commonwealth are unemployed, and the policy of the Commonwealth Ministry and of other Nationalist Governments has been a contributory factor. If more attention were paid to the breaking up of large estates, thus increasing the opportunities for employment, all our own people would find work, and the flow of immigrants would be stimulated. If the Government displayed the same degree of whole-hearted enthusiasm in meeting the requirements of our own citizens as they show in regard to the migration agreement, and raised money for the solution of many of the economic ills to which the body politic is subject, our difficulties would be less.
It may have been a little wearisome for honorable members to have to listen to all those figures, but I think they should go on record. I should like to have given also the relative proportion of Southern Europeans and the Nordic races. The total increase of population in the United States of America by the immigration, from 1820 to 1923, ‘of different nationalities, is given in these tables : -
These figures give a total increase of population by immigration amounting to 35,292,506. ‘ I want these figures put on record. I should have liked to include the whole table in Hansard, but it would take me nearly an hour to read it. I think that a very effective case has been made out by the Opposition. I am glad that it led to an eloquent contribution from the honorable member for Indi. It is satisfactory to know that the honorable member has awakened to a sense of his responsibility.
.With other honorable members, I protest against the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in declaring this measure urgent to prevent the free discussion of its provisions. My experience of the “guillotine” is, that whilst a certain time may be set apart for the consideration of various stages of a measure, the whole of the time is occupied in the discussion of the’ first clause, with the result that subsequent provisions are untouched in debate. It would have been more fitting if the Prime Minister had displayed the same eagerness to deal with industrial problems of an urgent character that call for immediate and sympathetic attention. On more than one occasion the attitude of the Labour party towards immigration has been clearly stated. I regret very much that the Ministry has failed to indicate the extent to which it is proposed to limit the introduction of aliens. Frequently British immigrants have difficulty in securing assisted passages to Australia, and are. . subjected to all manner of restrictions, but foreign migrants, on the other hand, have been allowed to come in practically unchecked. The manner in which the immigration policy has been handled is anything but statesmanlike. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) has declared that there is work in Australia for hundreds of thousands of immigrants. All I can say, in reply to that statement, is that if work is available, it is strange that there should be so much unemployment at the present time in Australia. Under efficient administration there should be work for hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Unhappily there is not. The Government proposals fall far short of what is required. There should be co-ordination in regard to land settlement schemes between the various state governments The Commonwealth migration officials who trip to and fro and are responsible in Great Britain for a publicity campaign which deludes a large number of people in the Mother Country. These people realize, when they reach Australia, that they have been totally misinformed about conditions in this country. The Labour party definitely objects to immigration whilst there is unemployment in Australia. We believe that with sympathetic government control it should be possible to launch a comprehensive immigration scheme that would absorb all those of our kith and kin who might be attracted to our shores. Mr. J. M. Murdoch, a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, while on a visit recently to Great Britain, advertised in Scotland for prospective immigrants to Australia, and was inundated with replies; showing clearly that there is a definite desire on the part of British workers and agriculturists to* migrate to Australia. A newspaper report of his mission states -
He interviewed twelve of these, and states that they were first class men for a country like Australia, hard-working, independent, thrifty Scotsmen, and their homes, which he inspected, models of cleanliness and order. They were, he says, proof against the temptations of city life, of which they neither had, nor desired to have experience. They had capital ranging from about £100 to £200. Every one of these informed Mr. Murdoch that they had tried hard to get to Australia ever since the war. Sir Joseph Cook, the Australian High Commissioner, told Mr. Murdoch that he was entirely helpless in regard to such people, and he was ashamed of the apologies he had to make to such applicants for refusing their claims. Federal authorities blame the State Governments for this state of affairs. The states, in their turn, are equally positive that the fault lies with the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, thousands of Southern European foreigners - drifters - are flocking to Australia, . and it may well be asked, what is the reason for the present arrangement, and whose policy is it?
I understand that, since his return to Australia, Mr. Murdoch has been endeavouring to ascertain who is responsible for this state of affairs, but up to the present he has not been successful. If the Government is determined to regulate the influx of southern Europeans, I suggest that preference should be given to those who are prepared to bring their wives and families with them. If we are to have immigration,’ and with the present Government we must, I suppose, expect it, every encouragement should be given to migrants who are likely to make .their homes here, instead of returning to their native land after they have acquired a certain amount of money. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) referred to the embargo against Germans. That barrier should now be removed. The Germans make excellent colonists. In the past they have done a great deal towards the development of the Commonwealth, and notwithstanding the feeling engendered against them during the war, we should now encourage them. They are much to be preferred before migrants from southern Europe. But in any immigration scheme steps should be taker. to safeguard the conditions of the Australian worker. Honorable members on this side fear that the unsympathetic handling of alien migration by the Nationalist Government may result in a’ lowering of the standard of living. If the Government is determined to check the influx of aliens, it is to be hoped that the interests of the workers of Australia will be fully protected. Maltese, Italians, and Jugo-Slavs that have been attracted to these shores during the last few years have become a menace to Australian workmen. They group themselves in separate colonies, and secure work in mines and in other industrial activities, to the disadvantage of Australian workers. I am not disposed to give the Government a free hand in the control of alien migration. The quota of alien migrants should be clearly stated in the bill. We must not forget that a few years ago Sir Henry Barwell, ex-Premier of South Australia, was an advocate of black labour in Australia, It is evident that some honorable members supporting the Government share to some extent his views by countenancing the wholesale importation of Greeks, Italians, and other aliens into Australia for employment in our industries under conditions considerably below those at present enjoyed by Australian workmen. I commend to the Government a scheme of child immigration, whereby British boys and girls could be brought to Australia to enjoy our free conditions. Under such a scheme 500,000’ children could be brought here. Their minds and characters would be moulded by their new environment, and they would eventually become worthy citizens. Before any immigration scheme is entered into, the Government should take steps to absorb our own unemployed. It is vitally necessary that we should open up for closer settlement many of the large estates in Australia. In New South Wales a few months ago applications were invited for a block of land at Warren. Over 800 men, the majority of whom were sons of Australian farmers, applied for the block. This shows how land hungry are the sons of Australian farmers. Before any further migrants are introduced into Australia the Government should satisfy the wants of the 300 disappointed applicants. The. British Government has recently agreed to lend the
Commonwealth and State Governments £34,000,000 to assist in establishing developmental works for the absorption of British migrants. The vessels which come to our shores laden with immigrants return to the Old Country with enormous quantities of our raw materials. To absorb these migrants satisfactorily we must throw open suitable land for settlement, launch out on a comprehensive programme of public works, and establish secondary industries for the manufacture of our raw materials. I .regret that the Government is attempting to force this bill through without allowing sufficient time for the mature consideration of its provisions. I should be failing in my duty to my constituency, in which are large numbers of unemployed, if I did not dppose the first part of the bill. I shall at a later stage resist strenuously the outrageous proposals respecting deportation.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. R. Cook) stated that although unemployment was fairly prevalent in the cities, the position was not so acute in the country. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), in reply said that the honorable member for Indi did not give any concrete example to support his statement. I suggest to the honorable member for Reid that he erred in the same direction. He states that the number of unemployed in Australia was 150,000 ; but even he, with his logical brain, did not give any cause for this unemployment, although he certainly has thoroughly studied the subject. We all regret that there should be so much unemployment in our midst, but in fairness it should be stated that a certain section of people are unemployable. Although we rightly boast of the Arbitration Court and its beneficial effect on the conditions and wages of Australian workmen, yet we must admit that the tendency to-day is for people to live in the city with its attractions and higher rate of wages, rather than to seek employment in the country. That is one of the contributing causes of unemployment. The agreement which has been entered into between the Imperial and the Commonwealth and State Governments to provide £34,000,000 for developmental work in Australia should have a very beneficial effect upon Australian industries generally. I do not agree with the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) that the British agreement will adversely affect the average artisan in Australia. ‘ The great bulk of Australian workers cannot be employed at a rate less than that fixed by the Arbitration Court. I agree with honorable members 01POsite, that, generally speaking, the Australian does work of a high standard. He has no need to fear competition from southern Europeans or British migrants. Like the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) I represent a rural constituency in which there is room for British migrants. I do not think that Arbitration Court awards can ever be made to apply to country centres to the same extent as to manufacturing and industrial centres. The conditions are so dissimilar. Although it is possible to absorb a reasonable number of immigrants in the various states, the chief responsibility in this connexion must rest with the State Governments. T agree with the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), that a good deal of his huge electorate is land-locked; but the Commonwealth Government has practically nothing whatever to do with land settlement. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), who has had experience in the New South Wales Parliament, will bear me out when I say that the various Liberal and National st Governments of that state have successfully tackled the problem of land settlement there. The honorable member for Gwydir spoke of the New South Wales Legislative Council as a House of “ old fossils,” but I notice that the Labour Premier, Mr. Lang, has followed the practice of the Labour party by augmenting its numbers considerably. I cannot recollect in recent years a single instance in which the New South Wales Upper House has refused to pass legislation sent to it by the Lower House when it has been satisfied that a fair majority of the people was behind it. I earnestly hope that the states will accept the immigration agreement, and endeavour to settle as many immigrants as possible on the land.
Mr. FORDE (Capricornia) [6.20 a.m.l. - The Government has forced us to dismiss this measure at this most inopportune hour, but we do npt intend to shirk our duty. If it does not see fit to permit the House to sit during reasonable hours, we must do our duty in the time that it will’ make available to us. lt is ridiculous and unfair to apply the guillotine to clauses 3 to 6 by 12.30’ o’clock to-day. Some honorable members, notably the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who did not know that the Government intended to adopt these tactics, desired to move amendments to certain of these clauses, and because they are not. here they will not be able to do so. The subject of immigration has very properly exercised the minds of members of the Federal and’ State Parliaments, as well as of otherprominent men in’ this country, for a considerable time. The population of acountry grows by the natural increase, or the excess of births overdeaths; aud by immigration, or the excess of arrivals over departures. Naturally a country like Australia, with an area of 3,000,000 square m;les, and a population of approximately 6,000.000, expects in the next ten or fifteen years to increase its population considerably. Honorable members opposite have said that the Labour party does not believein immigration. I wish to say definitely that my interpretation of our policy is that we believe in a progressive and reasonable scheme of immigration.
– What about the possibility of the sugar industry absorbing immigrants 2
– The honorable member’s memory is conveniently bad in respect to the kanakas.
– The honorable member believes in securing moneyed men.
– Its policy is not to bring migrants to this country. That is definite enough.
– The Burnett lands are not being rushed.
– That is not so at all. The official records disprove the honorable member’s statement.
– Why is Walsh opposed to it?
– The honorable member knows that the White Australia policy was in practice fifty or sixty years before the Labour party came into existence.
– The honorable member does a grave injustice to the late Sir Edmund Barton and others.
.- I have been roused to enthusiasm .by the stirring address of. the honorable member for Capricornia, and feel it incumbent on me to contribute to the debate. During the second-reading debate I did not comment upon the immigration clauses of the bill, but confined my remarks to its principal provisions. I believe, however, that the immigration clauses of the measure are worthy of being discussed when honorable members are better fitted than they can be now to realize their seriousness. We are at the present ‘ time confronted with a very serious unemployment problem. This is a time when there should be the strictest supervision of immigration to this country. The clause under discussion purports to provide for that, but it deals with only one phase of the question, and does not deal adequately with that. I think it was last year that I received an invitation from one of the government departments to inspect a film- prepared on behalf of the Government for display in Great Britain. The purpose of its exhibition was to attract immigrants to Australia. There was pictured on the film what was described as a typical example of the ex- perience of an immigrant from-. Great Britain after his arrival, in Australia. The picture .showed hia arrival here with- his brother. It was ex7 plained on the screen that they had £30 between them on their arrival; that they deposited the money in the savings bank and went, away to the country to work for 25s. a week. In a few years time, according to the film which is now being shown in Great Britain, they had taken up land, and added to what they originally took up, block by block, and section by section. According to the story, one of these men after, eight years in Australia had some thousands of acres of land, several thousand head of sheep, and stated that he was worth £14,000, all. of which was accumulated in Australia during the eight years. This was put forth as a typical example of the experience of a British immigrant. He said, and his words were shown on the screen, that he had been by no means- as fortunate as some others- who had done twice as well as he had. That might have been a true story of the experience of a British immigrant, but it seemed to me to be a piece of fiction. Will honorable members opposite contend, that it was a fair example of the experience on the land in this country of an immigrant from Great Britain* .
– The bill deals with the 2-esfcrietion, not the importation, of workers to Australia.
– There would be far more people on the land if primary producers were not burdened so heavily.
– Why not encourage immigration to the Northern Territory ? It should be a paradise if properly developed.
– When I was speaking yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) interjected that the present system of immigration, if continued, would increase the number of aliens compared with that of British stock by 1 per cent. in ten years. Looking at Knibbs’s figures in the 1924 Year-Book I was surprised to find that the population of British stock in Australia was 99 per cent. ‘The Prime Minister showed that within a period of eighteen months the percentage had been reduced to 98 per cent. Yesterday I showed that if we allowed foreign people to come into Australia at the same rate as at present, instead of aliens remaining at 2 per cent., their numbers would increase to almost 6 per cent. This is a serious position. I am strongly in favour of maintaining the present proportions of population, and I hope in 50 years’ time, when our population is, say, 60,000,000, that 98 per cent. of it will be of British stock. I shall quote two extracts from this morning’s Age to show how employers procure the cheapest form of labour- to conduct their business. The first paragraph is headed, “South Africa’s Drift to Colour,” and deals with the report of a South African commission presided over by Professor W. Pittman. This commission says bluntly that it is unable to attribute the decrease in the employment of whites to any cause other than a deliberate policy persistently pursued of displacing European in favour of cheap coloured labour. The paragraph reads -
The commission shows that whereas the ratio of whites to coloureds in 1911 was 1 to 7.7, in 1923 it was 1 to 10.1. The report emphasises the fact that native labour is more acceptable to the mines than white, because the native’s standard of living is lower, and therefore his wages are lower; that the com pound system, the pass laws, and the power to prosecute a native criminally for neglect of work tend to make a black labour force more docile; and that the awards made to natives under the Miners’ Phthisis Act and the Workmen’s Compensation Act arc upon so much lower a scale that there is a direct incentive to avoid the use of white labour as much as possible.
The following cable also appeared in this morning’s Age: -
DisplacesWhites in Oregon .
New York; 14th July.
Following on the protest from Tokio Governor Pierce, of Oregon, is investigating the action of the mob at Toledo in forcing a score of Japanese mill-workers to leave the town on 12th July. Citizens complained that the Pacific Spruce Corporation imported labourers, paying them 240 cents daily, while whites were previously paid 360 cents to 4 dollars for the same work. - A.P.A.
In that case the whites worked for the corporation for 15s. or16s. a day, and the Japanese workmen undercut the wage, and did the work for about 10s. a day. I know that alien immigration does not include coloured labour, but I quote those extracts to show that the introduction into Australia of men who have been used to social conditions lower than those which we enjoy will, unless we are exceptionally careful in selecting the right class of migrant, tend to reduce the social, economic, and industrial conditions of our workers.
– My objection to this clause is not that it does not give power to restrict southern European immigration, but that it does not lay down a policy. The Government is handling immigration matters in a most unsatisfactory manner, and this bill will not alter the position. The real purpose of this clause is to cloud the object for which the measure was introduced.’ I am quite satisfied that the Government could restrict immigration now if it desired to do so: I trust that one result of this discussion will be that it will realize the necessity for tightening up the conditions under which immigrants may come here, and that another will be that it will make an effort to provide work to absorb the unemployed. If our all-night sitting has done nothing else, it has drawn public attention to the necessity for action along these lines. We’ have no desire whatever to obstruct the passage of legislation which will confer upon the Government powers that we consider to be necessary in the interests of Australia, but we object to the attempts the Government has been making to obtain unnecessary power.
Clause agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 7.51 to 10 a.m. (Thursday).
Clause 4 -
Section 5 of the principal act is amended by omitting sub-section (3a) thereof and inserting in its stead the following sub-sections: - “ (3a) Proof to the contrary by the personal evidence of the defendant, within the meaning of the last preceding sub-section, shall not (unless it is proved that the defendant was born in Australia) be deemed to have been given unless the defendant in his personal evidence states truly the name of the vessel by which he travelled to Australia and the date and place of his arrival in the Commonwealth. “(3k) Where the prosecutor applies to the court for an adjournment of the proceedings to obtain evidence in rebuttal of any evidence tendered by the defendant, the court shall grant an adjournment for such time as is necessary for that purpose. “(3c) Official documents of the Common wealth, or of a state, or of a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, and telegrams and affidavits produced out of the official custody of the Commonwealth purporting to have been sent or taken by an officer, shall, if they contain information or statements upon matters relevant to the proceedings, be admissible in evidence.”
– I desire to say a few words upon this clause because I think it contains certain sinister implications that deserve very serious criticism. You will remember, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that criticism has been addressed to certain provisions of this bill on the ground that they act in contempt of such great principles as Magna Charta and the Bill ofRights, and, in the last result, take away from persons charged with a serious offence the right of trial by jury, and even the right of trial at all by any properly constituted court. I mention that by way of introduction, because we have not yet come to the special clauses regarding deportation, in connexion with which that complaint will, I hope, be further dealt with. I mention this with the knowledge that the Government, bending under the weight of argument addressed to it on this subject, has an amendment under consideration to create tribunals where hitherto it was intended that there should be none. With those preliminary observations, I invite the consideration of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) to the section in the original act and the amendments of it proposed in the bill. The clause deals with the general question of what constitutes a prohibited immigrant, and how he may be treated when apprehended and charged with being a prohibited immigrant. It will be Been that in the original act, which we are proposing to amend, there is a somewhat common, but very dangerous adoption of the principle, that the onus of proof is not on the Crown, which makes the averment of wrong-doing, but on the prisoner, who has to defend himself. I base my first criticism of the clause on that ground, but not by any means on that ground alone. That principle has been adopted in many statutes already passed by this Parliament. For the sake of simplicity of proof, and to secure conviction, we have impinged upon the very sacred principle that a man is to be assumed to be innocent until he has been proved to be guilty. It is set out in sub-section. 3 of section 5 of the original act, that in any prosecution under certain preceding sub-sections the averment of the prosecutor that the defendant is an immigrant who has evaded an officer, has entered the Commonwealth in certain circumstances, or has done one of a number of things, “ shall be deemed “ - and these are the important words - “ to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary by the personal evidence of the defendant either with or without other evidence.” That is how the law stood when the bill was introduced. The act also states that -
The personal evidence of the defendant shall include a definite statement as to the date and place of his arrival in the Commonwealth, and the name of the vessel by which he travelled to Australia.
The Government has struck that out, and by the clause proposes to insert in its places -
Proof to the contrary by the personal evidence of the defendant, within the meaning of the last preceding sub-section, shall not (unless it is proved that the defendant was born in Australia) be deemed to have been given unless the defendant in his personal evidence states truly the name of the vessel by which he travelled to Australia and the date and place of his arrival in the Commonwealth.
At first glance that sub-section reads harmlessly, and in that connexion. I point out that this Government has a very pleasant way, in the name of law and order, and with avowed respect for the courts of this country, about which it had much to say last evening, of constantly infringing the prerogatives of the courts. In that way a case is predetermined in this Parliament to suit, the Government’s political bent. The meaning of the proposed new sub-section I have recited is that no matter what the magistrate may think who hears the evidence, no matter whether he is satisfied or not that the evidence is sufficient to acquit the person charged of the charge made against him, he must not accept that evidence if it does not comply with this technical requirement. That, is a vicioUs and improper principle. The clause continues -
Where the prosecutor applies to the court for an adjournment of the proceedings to obtain evidence in rebuttal of any evidence ten- dered by the defendant, the court shall grant an adjournment for such time as is necessary for that purpose.
That refers to an application by the “ prosecutor “ for an adjournment. Why does this Government load the scales of justice against the defendant? Why should he not have equal rights with the prosecutor? Why should the Government or Parliament dictate to a court in its own jurisdiction - a court which has a special .knowledge whether it should grant the adjournment or not - and say that it shall grant an adjournment to a prosecutor, no matter what it may do with a similar application by the defendant? That is a very grave and even gross infringement of certain wellaccepted principles of British law, and I should like to hear the Attorney: General in explanation or extenuation of it. Members of the Government are, as usual, posing before the people of the country as the special champions of law and order, and the most biting passages of the criticism they have addressed to this side of the House are in support of the view that we are in some way distantly associated with people who have no’ respect for the courts of this country. If the Government has respect for the courts of this country, it should not load the scales of justice against one of the parties appearing before a court. The third proposed new sub-section is almost equally objectionable, for it says -
Official documents of the Commonwealth, or of a state, or of a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, and telegrams and affidavits produced out of the official custody of the Commonwealth purporting to have been sent or taken by an officer, shall, if they contain information or statements upon matters relevant to the proceedings, be admissible in evidence.
That seems harmless, but what does it mean ? As ‘ the law stands at present, telegrams, letters, and other documents are always admissible as evidence if they are proved to be genuine documents - that is to say, if they are identified. There is nothing new in that, but what is the implication in the words I have read? It is that if a telegram in official custody is produced it shall be admissible as evidence. If the proposed new sub-section means any1thing it means that such a telegram shall be taken on its face value. It is an invitation to the court to say that if a telegram purports to be sent from a certain person to a certain person it is actually -what it purports to be. What is wrong with the law which requires a telegram, if produced and put foward as a genuine document, to be proved for what it is, and the identity of the person who purported to send it established? Here again is a distinct invitation to the court to disregard the . ordinary safeguards an accused person has when he is brought face to face Avith documentary evidence. Are we so satisfied with our experience, of certain official records that we are prepared to say they should be accepted on their face value without examination? I say that we are not. The experience of members of this party is that a little investigation and probing into some of these so called official documents has revealed that they arc not what they appear on the surface to be. This Government has no right to tamper with the essential principles of justice. In the next, following clause, which I mention for the purpose of grouping the subject, the Government proposes to dictate to the courts on the question of bail, although it has for- many years been the accepted principle in every British court that the ‘court shall decide the bail, because it knows the facts, has heard all the evidence, has seen the parties, and takes the responsibility. But this Government, to suit its purpose, which, after all, is political - and I can say that without’ offence, because the operations of all governments are political in a certain well known sense- - of securing a conviction, says, “ You are not to release the prisoner except on a bail which we fix in advance.” I object to all these things because they are an invasion of well accepted principles of British justice. I am not so conservative as to say that courts of law are spotless administrators of justice, or that those charged with the administration of justice in the courts are impeccable or always highly capable; but I do say that as the result of centuries of experience there are certain stable principles which have been found vital to the administration -of justice. I suggest that the Government is interfering with a number of those principles in this bill, and that when one reads this clause, with a lively recollection of what is contained in the deportation clauses, one wonders whether the Government has decided to be at once legislator and judge in this country.
– The interpretation placed upon clause 4 by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was coloured by the word “ sinister,” which he used at the commencement of his remarks. But there is absolutely nothing sinister in the bill ; its purpose is plain to everybody. The section of the act which is amended by clause 4 provides authority to deal inter aliawith any coloured immigrant who evades an officer, enters the Commonwealth at any place where no officer is stationed, obtains entrance- or re-entrance to the Commonwealth by means of false documents, has been admitted temporarily into the Commonwealth and fails to observe the conditions of his admission, or has been admitted into the Commonwealth as an indentured labourer for service in the pearling industry, and is deemed by the Minister to be an undesirable person.
– A person may have forgotten those facts.
– I do not intend to delay the committee, because, jaded as we are,, we still have the duty of doing justice to ourselves and our constituents in regard to the important clauses that follow this. But I do not propose to allow the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) to “ gel away with it “ quite so easily as he would wish to do, judging by the speech he has just made. The honorable gentleman commenced his argument by referring to the class of person to whom the clause is said to apply. He spoke of persons who evade an officer or who enter the Commonwealth at a place where no officer is stationed. He mentioned other persons, and, incidentally, he said that the clause relates to the entry of coloured aliens into the Commonwealth. There are two answers to the honorable gentleman’s argument. The first is that it is a matter of principle I am discussing, and I am as much concerned that the poorestcoloured alien who ever crawled on the soil of Australia should obtain justice, as that justiceshould be done to the most highlyplaced.
– I did not suggest that for a moment.
– That principle has been applied for years in our courts.
– I think the honorable member is forgetting the Customs Act, which is particularly severe in this respect.
– The clause does not take away the ordinary discretion of the court to grant an adjournment.
– I am satisfied, especially since I heard the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom), that there is a motive behind this clause. If the position is as the honorable gentleman has stated it, why was it not found out until the Government became anxious to prosecute certain persons in connexion with a trouble which it is anticipated will take place? The argument of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is based upon his experience in the defence of persons unjustly accused. . The Attorney-General has not had that experience. He has been nearly all his life a Crown Law officer, and his knowledge of the intrigues of prosecutors is not as great as that of the honorable member for Batman. I regard my common sense as equal to legal training in a matter of this kind, and I say that in this legislation we are drifting away from the sound principles of the law under which the prosecutor must submit evidence of guilt, and it is not for the accused person to establish his innocence. That is a principle of British law which is regarded with admiration in other countries. It seems to me that it is proposed, under this clause, to make a telegram or document prima facie evidence against an accused person. That may be a very serious matter if the Government lays itself out to prosecute any one. We should be exceedingly careful in legislation of this character. There appears to be an impression in some quarters that the clause, having been drafted by the Crown Law officers, it is incapable of interpretation by laymen ; but if one brings a little common sense to bear upon it, one may detect flaws that should be apparent to the legal mind. It should be our endeavour to frame all legislation of this nature on the sound principles of British justice, which preserve the liberty of the subject. The Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) has never contradicted the statement made in Sydney some time ago that there was no necessity for this measure at all. The bill, it is believed, will be directed against certain individuals associated “with the trade union movement. If they have offended against the laws of this country, there is authority in the act to deal with them. It is practically certain that anomalies will occur in hasty legislation of this nature. Even at this late hour, the Government should lay the measure aside. I endorse the view expressed by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). The clause should be struck out.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Deportation of certain persons).
– History indicates clearly that we should be exceedingly careful as regards all legislation dealing with the deportation of individuals. It has been shown that there is power in the act to deport any persons who may be regarded as undesirables. Every government has an inherent right to deport persons likely to be a menace to the welfare of the country in which they live, or aliens who are likely to become a burden on the taxpayers. This bill goes much further than that. It is aimed at individuals who are taking a leading part in the trade-union movement. The Labour party stands for the maintenance of constitutional government. Any statement to the contrary is untrue. We are all responsible men. Most of us have families dependent upon us, and have our savings invested in this country. The bill affirms that any individual, being the leader of a trade union, who comes into conflict with constituted authority during a strike, may be regarded as undesirable and deported. I am not an Australian born. I came to this country, I hope, for its good. I have rearedmy family here. All my interests are in the Commonwealth. I, too, have been a prominent figure in strikes. I am proud to know that I have done what I could to make the conditions of my fellow men better than they were. The last strike in which I was engaged was the tram strike in Sydney, and I propose to show that, had this measure been in operation then, the government could have deported me.
Clause 7 -
After section 8a of the principal act, the following sections are inserted: - “8aa. - (1) If at any time the GovernorGeneral is of opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth, he may make a proclamation to that effect, which proclamation shall be and remain in force for the purposes of this section until it is revoked by the Governor-General. “(2) When any such proclamation is in force, the Minister, if he is satisfied that any person not born in Australia has been concerned, in Australia in acts directed towards hindering or obstructing, to the prejudice of the public, the transport of goods, or the conveyance of passengers in relation to trade or commercewith other countries or among the states, or the provision of services by any department or public authority of the’ Commonwealth, and that the presence of that person in Australia will be injurious to the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth in relation to matters with respect to which the Parliament has power to make laws, may, by notice in writing, summon the person to appear before a board, at the time specified in the summons and in the manner prescribed, to show cause why he should not be deported from the Commonwealth. “(3) Sub-sections (2), (3), and (4) of section8a of this act shall apply in relation to the board mentioned in the last preceding subsection. “ 8ab. Where any person who was not born in Australia has, at any time, been convicted in Australia of an offence against the laws of the Commonwealth relating to trade and commerce, or conciliation and arbitration, for the prevention or settlement of industrial disputes, and the Minister is satisfied that any of the acts constituting the offence were directed towards hindering or obstructing, to the prejudice of the public, the production or transport of goods, or the conveyance of passengers, or the provision of necessary services, and that the presence of that person in Australia will be injurious to the peace, order or good government of the Commonwealth, the Minister may make an order for his deportation.”
– This clause is the most important provision in the bill. It deals with industrial matters, and if agreed to by this committee will be severe in its operation. The clause has special reference to industrial unions, and no honorable member has been able to prove otherwise, notwithstanding many attempts to make it appear that it applies only to one or two individuals. I reiterate that this bill, when passed into law, will apply to every industrialist in Australia.
– Not necessarily.
– The honorable member does not go far enough. Any person who interferes with the well-being of the community may be deported.
– Supposing a shipping company were found guilty ?
Mr.CHARLTON.-Neither the shipping companies nor other employers will be found guilty. I mentioned in my second-reading speech that after years of close connexion with arbitration - andI have conducted many cases in the Arbitration Court - I have never known it to be proved, under the definition of strikes and lookouts, that the employers were breaking the law. It is unfortunate that no honorable member on that side of the committee understands industrial matters ; if it were otherwise they would not make so many mistakes. There has never been a lockout during the whole period of arbitration. Does the honorable member for Fremantle not think that the employers sometimes have done wrong ?
– The board may decide that a shipping company is responsible for a dispute.
– But the board has the right to decide.
– If a Labour government were in power, would it send an employer before the board?
– The honorable member will know more about that later on.
– If a Labour government were in power and this law were on the statute-book, would the honorable member indict a shipping company for causing trouble?
– What is the use of providing for penalties in the Arbitration Act if they are not imposed ?
– Every factI stated was relevant to the bill.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that no honorable member had a right to call a man a criminal until he was proven one. I accept briefs to defend men who are charged with offences, not men who have been found guilty. The honorable member is talking nonsense.
– Every man who is chargedwith an offence has not the right to trial by jury.
– I do.
– The class of offence provided for in the bill is not suitable for trial by jury.
– The leader of the Opposition should read what the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang) says about the subject.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I said nothing of the kind. It is not an offence for any one to be out on strike.
– They will make an effort to save them.
– We have different penalties for different offences. There is a law for murder; another for stealing; and this one proposes to cover industrial offences.
– A great many of the honorable member’s own people believe in the provisions of this measure.
– I shall take that risk later on.
– There is no principle in it.
– The communists are the biggest asset the Composite party have.
– We all know that.
– We are going to see that your good work stands.
– It is an insult to the working man for the Leader of the Opposition to say that.
– I move -
That after the word “ time,” in proposed new sub-section 8ab, the following words be inserted : - ‘ whether before or after the commencement of this section, within three years before the notice in writing referred to in this section.”
I wish to reply briefly to the remarks of the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). The honorable gentleman did not correctly interpret the meaning ox effect of clause 7. He stated that the intention was to penalize industrialists, meaning,, presumably, those men who are deeply interested in industrial matters and are .working for the welfare of their fellow men. Men who . are legitimately engaged in that field of operations have nothing whatever to fear from this bill, which will, in fact, protect them and legitimate trade unionism. I wish to show exactly what the clause means, so as to check the continual misinterpretation of it. The clausecontains two sections, which I -shall consider separately. The first deals only with cases in which there has arisen in Australia “ a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth.” Thus, in any casewhere the Government is faced with a condition of affairs that threatens the industrial peace of the Commonwealth, the duty is placed upon the Government of preserving the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth. Section 8aa provides machinery to enable the Government to cope with such a situation. When such a condition exists a proclamation is to be issued by the executive. The disturbance first takes place, the executive then meets, and if it decides that the situation described in the section has arisen, it may issue a proclamation,which is a warning to all engaged in industrial disturbances that the executive is of opinion that the peace, lorder, or good governmentof the Commonwealth is threatened. The next step is that, if it is found that aperson who was not born in Australia “has been concerned in Australia in acts directed towards hindering or obstructing, tothe prejudice of the public, the transport of goods, or the conveyance of passengers in relation totrade or commerce with other countries or among the states,” the executive may take action against him.
Mr. O’Keefe interjecting ,
SirLITTLETONGROOM.- I tell the honorable member that trade and commerceare vital tohis state of Tasmania. Representatives of that state have appealed to the. CommonwealthGovernment to do something toassist Tasmania, and they tell us that, ifthe artery of trade and commercebetween the mainland and Tasmania is severed, that state willbleed todeath. The honorable member shows sympathy for a wrongdoer who is deported, but I appeal for sympathy for the innocent people of Tasmania,who suffer loss because of disturbances caused by people who ought to be deported. I ask Tasmanian representatives to contrast the sufferings of a man deported under this clause with the sufferings of thousands of people in the community when an industrial disturbance takes place. The clause contemplates thepossibility of the vital artery of trade andcommerce beingwilfully severed by certain persons in thecommunity, and inthat event imposesaduty on the Government to takeaction underthe clause with the object of restoring order. I ask honorablemembers to remember that there are in Australia lawful methods, which aremore liberal than those existing in any other countryin the world, for settling disputes. The bill ensures that wherethe vital services of the community have suffered, and untold loss and suffering tothe community have resulted from the action of some person,the executive may take action against him.Theexecutive must find, not only that the person”has been con cerned in Australia in acts directed towards hindering or obstructing, to the prejudice of the public, the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or amongst the states,” but also that his presence in Australia will be injurious to the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth. “When those circumstances exist, the government may call upon the individual to go before a tribunal. Is such a manclassed among the peaceful industrialists described by the honorable the Leader of the Opposition - men who, in the true spirit of altruism, are working for the benefit of their fellow men? The clause is directed at the man who, knowing that there are proper laws for the. settlement of industrial disputes, wilfully, during an industrial disturbance, hinders trade and commerce, and by his actions becomes a menace to the peace, order, or good government of the country in which he resides. Honorable members opposite may disagree with that provision, but I am explaining it so that they may vote with their eyes open. The inherent right of self-preservation is possessed by every nation. In one of the cases reported in 1906 in the Commonwealth Law Reports -Robtelmes v. Brenan - the deportation of an islander was in question. The Chief Justice on that occasion said -
Mow, there can be no doubt that, to use the words oftheJudicial Committee of the Privy Committee in the caseof The Attorney-General for Canada v.Cain and Gilhula, decided on 30th July Inst, “ one of the rights preserved by the supreme power in every state is the right to refuse to permitan alien to enter that state,to annex what conditions it pleases to the permission to enterit, and to. expel or deport from the state,atpleasure, evena friendly alien, especially if it considers his presence in the state opposed to ite peace, order, or good government, or to its social or material interests.”
That isastatementof law as laid down by the Privy Council, and it has been held that we possess those rights. . Then the Chief Justice quoted from Vattel’s Law of Nations, as follows : -
The power of expulsion is, in truth, but the complement of the power of exclusion. If entry he prohibited it would seem to follow that the government whichhasthe power to exclude should have the power to expel the alienwho enters in opposition to itslaws.
It is the inherent right of everynation to expel from its shores those persons who threaten its existence. Honorable members opposite expel from their party a member who does not agree with themupon a vital matter. Trade unionists expel members of their trade unions, and, by their policy of preference to unionists, thereby deny persons so expelled the means of livelihood. I am not complaining of that, but am merely pointing out that it is a right which honorable members opposite and others possess and exercise. If one of their unions considers that the membership of a certain individual is detrimental to the union to which he belongs, the union expels him.
– It .is by the .accused man’s peers.
– The Commonwealth Executive has power to take action now.
– As all lawyers do, the AttorneyGeneral delights in setting up men of straw and knocking them down again. We do not deny that the Government has executive power to exclude undesirables. The honorable member for Fawkner tried to assist the Government by saying repeatedly that the executive has the right to deport communists who are try-: ing to overthrow by force the present order of society. I admit that, but this bill does not relate to communists. Itintroduces a new list of crimes so that industrial leaders who were not born in Australia may be deported.
– We both are willing to take the risk along with honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member knows that the bill does not apply to such as they.
– The Arbitration Court does not prevent industrial disputes; its business is to settle them.
– But all countries have laws providing for the exclusion of tmdesirable persons.
– The honorable member said, in answer to me, that communists are not mentioned in the clause. Is there any mention of industrial leaders inthe clause ?
– Will the honorable member read out the reference to “industrial leaders” in the clause?
– The honorable member was on a wages board some years ago, and recommended a wage of 10s. 6d. a week.
– Did the honorable member say “ force “?
. -Listening to the speeches of honorable members opposite, I have been reminded of an aphorism by Stephen Leacock, who said, “ A half truth is like a half brick. It is more dangerous than a whole one, because it can be thrown further.” Honorable members opposite have indulged in half truths throughout this debate. They have been saying that this bill is a class conscious attack upon the trade union movement in this country. The answer to that charge is to be found in the bill itself. As the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom)has clearly pointed out, the clause under consideration explainsthe whole motive of the measure. The bill is not aimed at a particular type of trade unionist, or at trade unionism. It is aimed at a particular type of imported nuisance that has become an absolute menace to the industrial peace of Australia of late years, practically coincident with the period during which compulsory arbitration has been the policy of this country. The governing portion of the clause under consideration is aa clear as daylight -
If at any time the Governor-General is of opinion that there exists in Australia a senous industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth.
That is an absolute safeguard against the terrors honorable members opposite have suggested. The Government has first to make a recommendation to the GovernorGeneral, who will thereupon issue a proclamation which will declare a state of industrial war. If that proclamation is not issued, no one can he deported under this bill. There is the further provision that the Governor-General cannot issue such a proclamation unless he is of opinion that a serious industrial disturbance, and not any trivial disorder.- exists. . It ‘ is further provided that the disturbance must threaten, the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth. Thus there are three sets of conditions which, in my opinion, amply safeguard trade unionism. The only individuals who can be roped in under the governing portion of the clause are those who deliberately defy the arbitration laws, and who by their actions bring about a condition of industrial war throughout Australia. The next portion of the clause indicates that there can be no attack upon the fundamental principles of trade unionism. No Government will take the extreme step of issuing a proclamation unless the industrial position is so serious as to profoundly affect the political thought of the country, and when a proclamation is in force it can only apply ‘ to persons not born in Australia who may be responsible for bringing about a state of disorder that is interfering with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers, or the provision of the necessary services. It will be noted that the offences for which the people concerned may be indicted are strictly limited, namely, maritime offences and a general strike involving transport services. It will be almost impossible to inflict punishment for any other class of’ offence. The Commonwealth, I take it, will not be concerned with purely State offences. The bill will deal only with industrial disturbances of an interstate character that are likely to affect seriously the governmental . functions of the Commonwealth. There is no possibility of the provisions of the- bill being applied to any alien agitators unless they deliberately defy the Arbitration Court and the Government of the country, and by their actions paralyse our transport services inside and outside the Commonwealth. This is the sole objective of the bill. There is no possibility of the men who direct the activities of trade unionism being brought under the provisions of this bill unless they commit offences of a national character, like the 1917 strike in New South Wales. That disturbance practically reduced the State to a condition of siege, and it. so aroused the people that they came from all parts of the country to fight the organized industrial bodies that were responsible for it. There is need for action against imported agitators, who come to this country, and after a brief residence in it set themselves to break down the authority of our Arbitration Courts. Let me quote a statement of Mr. J. S. Garden, who had the audacity the other day to approach the Prime Minister with a request to establish a super-arbitration court for the special benefit of the Seamen’s Union. The newspaper report of the meeting of the New South Wales Labour Council on February 24, 1924, states : -
After referring to the Arbitration Court’s deregistration of the Amalgamated Printing Trades Union, and to its decision regarding night baking, Mr. Garden, in his report, added, “ I believe in using the Arbitration Court when it will be of service to me, and that, is very seldom; but my analysis of the trade union movement leads me to state that the Arbitration Court has sapped the vitality of the workers of this country, with the result that the working class is losing its fighting spirit. Tho Arbitration Court has been, and is, truly a snare and a delusion, notwithstanding the fact that all unions patronize it.”
That is a definite declaration of war against the Arbitration Court by a man whose influence on the trade union movement in Australia is unquestioned. The answer to that attack is to be found in the record of the court itself. Mr. Justice Powers, speaking in the court at Melbourne on the 21st December, 1923, said that for the year 1923 the court had settled 600 disputes’ and claims. Only one strike had taken place in the .preceding twelve months in a dispute that was within the jurisdiction of the court, and for the seven years up to the end of 1923 there had been an average of one strike a year in disputes that were within the jurisdiction of the court. The object of this bill is to preserve this valued institution, which, as I have shown, has done so much for the settlement of industrial disturbances. I shall not say much about Mr. Walsh at this juncture. It is possible that utterances by honorable members in this House may have an unfortunate effect at the present time. I may say, however, that, although he is comparatively a new-comer, he has a -very potent influence on trade unionism in Australia’.
.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), in his speech stated that the chief object of the deportation clause was to deal with men of the type of Walsh, Garden and others. He then made use of this phrase, “ Members who are standing up in defence of that class of man.” I inform the honorable member that we do not defend any type of man whose actions are inimical to the interests of the workers and unionists of Australia. We. stand up for honest Australian unionists who render a great service to this country generally. If any men in this country have broken our laws, why does not this Government take its courage in both hands and proceed against them under existing laws? The arm of. the law is long enough and strong enough to punish any person who commits an offence. The Attorney-General in reply to an interjection by myself, referred to the troubles that Tasmania had suffered through the frequent dislocation of its shipping service, and suggested that the bill to a great extent would be a remedy. I have said more than once in this Parliament that shipping is the very life blood of Tasmania, and that as a component part of the Commonwealth that state should receive special consideration, especially in view of its geographical isolation. I should vote for any measure which I thought would improve the Tasmanian shipping service. But I know the temper and spirit which is permeating the Unionist workers of Australia, and I firmly believe that the effect of the deportation clauses in this bill will be opposite to what is intended. In the past we have conceded to union leaders the right to fight in the interests of their unions, but the clause relating to deportation is undoubtedly in direct contradiction to that concession. What did this Government do during the last shipping strike?
– What has the Attorney-General to say against the people who brought about the dislocation of the Tasmanian shipping service?
– Many honorable members on this side are unionists.
– I listened this morning with a good deal of pleasure to the accents, and of pain to the argument, of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley). He blamed the Government for introducing legislation which, he said, amounted to intentional discrimination between British-born and native-born Australians. He indicated that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who was then sitting somewhere near me, and myself might conceivably come under the ban. I think that I can speak for the honorable member as well as’ myself, and’ take any risk that there may be of our deportation under this ‘bill. The charge that the Government, has intentionally shown discrimination in this respect cannot be sustained. The only reason why the native-born Australian is not served in the same way as the- British:born Australian is that it would be ionpossible to expect any other country to accept those persons bom on our soil of whom we were anxious to rid ourselves. They are our responsibility, and, therefore, we have some right to expect that men from other countries who have proved themselves a nuisance shall be received back by those countries. Without splitting hairs,, it seems to me that there is a distinction between Britishers, who come to Australia and Australians who originally came from Great Britain. While the honorable member for Fawkner and myself may at one time have been spoken of as Scotchmen who came to Australia, we might fairly be regarded to-day as Australians who originally came from Scotland. Some honorable members who hail from the Old Country might claim more credit for being Australian than some other honorable members who are Australians, not because they chose to be, but because they were born Australians. This bill gives power to the Government to deport men who -come from Great Britain or other countries, and do not wish to become good Australians. Many of these people refuse to respect, the laws of this country, and incite others to go to war with society. They do it ostensibly to improve the workers’ conditions and remedy grievances for the redress of which constitutional moans, perhaps more liberal than those provided in any other country, are available. I think that it was the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) who said that surely the seamen or any other unionists should be given the right to sell their labour as they thought fit. I concede that; but if the unionist determines to take up an individualistic position, he must recognize that that principle cuts two ways, and must allow others, without coercion, to sell their labour as they deem proper. Unionists cannot reasonably expect to have the benefit of collective bargaining, and, at the same time, have absolute freedom with regard to the disposal of their labour. At any rate, they cannot have both at one and the same time. If a unionist wishes to act as he thinks fit, he must dissociate himself from the organization that is bargaining for him. It seems to be considered by some of the opponents of the measure that the power to deport is almost new. I have, however, some figures from official statistics which show that during the year ended the 30th June, 1.925, a large number of people were deported from the Commonwealth. During that year 36 Chinese, 9 Indians, 4 Japanese, 25 Germans, 5 coloured persons other than Chinese. Indians, and Japanese, and 1 Britisher, were deported from our shores because they belonged to prohibited classes or had broken the existing federal law. In addition to these, two Arabs and one Chinaman were deported for crimes of violence subsequent to their arrival.Fi ve Britishers and one American were deported because they were convicted, within three years of their arrival in Australia, of offences under state laws.
.- The honorable member for New England deprecated the argument from this side of the House that the measure sought to promote class consciousness. I think that it may be described as a desperate political manoeuvre on the part of the Government.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
.- I expressed my views on this measure dur-‘ ing the second-reading debate, and would not. have risen on this occasion had it not been for the statement of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) that a majority of the leaders of trade unionism in Australia are Australian - born citizens. If that is the case, the honorable member should not oppose the deportation provisions of the bill, because they do not affect Australian-born citizens, and therefore it could be applied to only a very small number of the leaders of trad© unionist’s in Australia. The honorable member is not justified in saying that the measure has been introduced merely to strike a blow at trade unionism, because it is not for that purpose. It is merely to protect the interests of the law-abiding section of the community. I am as good a friend of genuine trade unionists as ig any honorable member opposite, and am always willing to give them that consideration to which they are justly entitled. One would gather from the remarks qf the honorable member that it was the intention of the .Government to deport all the leaders in the trade .union movement, but, as the honorable member knows, an Australian-born person cannot be deported. No distinction is made in the measure between employee or employer, and it applies only to persons who are considered undesirable, and who have been responsible for interfering with the peace, order, or good government of the country..
.- This clause smacks of war-time legislation. It appears to be tainted with that hysteria which was manifested from time to time during the years i 9 14-1 91 8. It is a resurrection- of past legislation, a breathing of life into legislation ‘that died a natural death. The purpose is to try to draw a red herring before the eyes of the people, and to distract their attention from the barrenness of the Government’s ideas, its incapacity, and its extraordinary outlook on matters Australian. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom), in an impassioned speech, called to Heaven to proclaim the necessity for bringing down such a measure. He gave quite a number of more or less incoherent reasons for the speedy passage of the bill . We have endeavoured to find out what the bill means, against whom it is aimed, and when it is to be put into operation. One honorable member “ let the cat out of the bag “ when he said, quite frankly, by way of interjection, that it was aimed directly and specifically at one man. If the Government intimated to its caucus that it intended to operate against one man, I think that we should be told who that man is. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) indi cated the desire to bring communists within the provisions of the bill, but he gave no more than a broad hint regarding the persons at whom it is aimed. The AttorneyGeneral, this morning, made the same speech that he made in 1918, when dealing with a measure that contained provisions very closely related to those that are found in this legislation. That measure also was the outcome of the futility of the Government, and’ its absolute incapacity to prevent industrial trouble, or to settle strikes. It appears that the. usual law court procedure is to be departed from, inasmuch as the services of juries are to be dispensed with. We have not to seek very far for a reason for that proposal. If juries meddled with such matters, the communists, and others against whom this legislation is aimed, might not get that brand of justice which the Government desires to mete out to them. Apparently, the justice of the courts is different from that which the Government wishes ‘to apply to offenders against -this law. . It is somewhat depressing and disconcerting to find in this chamber legal gentlemen, who have had a long experience in constitutional, civil, and criminal law. failing to protect the people from such an iniquity. Only one member of the bar has spoken against the bill. But whenever there is any dirty work to be done, whenever legal camouflage is required, there are men who are willing to be made, for the time being, political hacks. They are content to be wood and water joeys for the Government in the hope that they may. later, be asked to fill a vacancy in the Cabinet. We find the honorable member for Fawkner pitting himself against the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) in the race for the next portfolio. The way in which the legal members of the Government party have been used during this session has great significance. It makes one think that the Attorney-General may soon be elevated to a higher and more responsible position. If he is, let us hope that his decisions will be more fair and honest, and tinged with a greater measure of justice, than is the bill that he is. now fathering. Under this law anomalies will be created. Look at what might have happened a couple of years ago, when trouble threatened the coal industry. There are Australian-born officials in the Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia, and there are other officials who are British subjects, ‘but born outside Australia. Under the provisions of this bill those who were not fortunate enough to have been born in Australia might in the event of an industrial upheaval, be deported, whilst those who had been horn in Australia would go scot-free. What a travesty of justice ! What a futility ! Yet men, who stand very high in the legal circles of this country, support such legislation ! The public life of Australia has reached a pretty pass when men who have been educated at universities, and have gone through a legal course of training, allow themselves to be used as political puppets. All coercive legislation is of the butterfly type - it is born to-day and -dies tomorrow. No one recognizes more than the Attorney-General, and the Government, that this legislation will disappear from the statute-booh next year, like other kindergarten legislation that has been passed by the present Administration. In their futility, in their incapacity, they think that this will solve industrial trouble. In the concluding .portion of his remarks, when speaking on the penal clauses of the bill, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said -
Our greatest hope lies in the leaders of the different sections of the community, whether they be employers or employees. If they will counsel their followers wisely, and particularly if the leaders of the .working class will come into the open, and denounce those .men who are bringing incalculable suffering to tens of thousands of men, . women, and children, a great service will be done to Australia. I have heard a great deal about my duty as Prime Minister to prevent .these industrial upheavals, but upon the leaders of industry there is a much greater responsibility.
At least once during his speech; the right honorable gentleman was honest. He. recognized the absolute futility and incapacity of the Government to take action to avert a threatened industrial upheaval. That action lies with the representatives of .the workers, not the representatives of the wealthy. It is not from the representatives of vested interests that we can obtain industrial peace. When we ask that a round table conference shall be held to endeavour to bring about industrial peace the hypocrisy of the Government is shown by its .absolutely cold refusal to grant the request. The Government does not .desire that there shall be industrial peace in Australia. It is exceedingly curious to find on the opposite -benches men, who, in the past have been most bitter in their opposition to the Labour movement, and most loyal to the interests they themselves serve, now protesting their great friendliness to that movement, and their absolute love for its leaders. For instance, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in a burst of benevolence and love for the workers of this country, desires they should free themselves from the fetters of communists, agitators, and such like. But, af ter all, the. right honorable gentleman is hardly in a position to judge. He is a representative of the wealthy classes, and the importing firm of which he is a member has had constant trouble with the workers over matters affecting wages and working conditions. Among other stalwarts of the Labour movement opposite is the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). A couple .of days ago he had a brief given to him for which he will no doubt receive his reward, perhaps not in the actual shape of fees, but possibly in the form of a portfolio, if the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) does not get in before him. The honorable member, is a representative ‘of the newspaper and metal interests of Australia, and to a great extent of the associated banks, but he is not a representative of the shearers, the shed hands, the wool pressors, the seamen, the cooks, or the wharf labourers - they have not sufficient cash. The honorable member for Kooyong also represents the great financial interests of Australia. Whenever a fight has to foe put up in the courts in the interests of shareholders of great combines, he is briefed handsomely to represent them, and in this chamber he is only carrying on the good work. When he is talking here about undermining the interests of the trade union movement and about protecting the .workers, one cannot but wonder at his hypocrisy. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) represents big importing interests. If it were possible to do so he would kill the great secondary industries of the country. Yet he also claims to be a friend of the worker, and that his one aim in life is to prevent the workers from being misled. Then we have the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten), representative of the jam interests of Australia, and of the tin interests of the Malay Archipelago. Like quite a number of honorable members opposite whosenames I have mentioned he is a wealthy man. Honorable members have . made their money, but they still have interests which they endeavour to protect to the best of their ability in this chamber. The honorable member for Martin is another friend of labour, who, in the interval between looking after the interests of the peach peelers, tinners and canners in his factories, lodges libel actions against Labour newspapers . There is also the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes). He almost converted me recently when I heard him pleading that something should be done to protect the great trade unions of Australia against agitators, foreigners, and communists. He is, of course, representative of the great pastoral industry of South Australia. His money comes from wool, and quite a lot of it by virtue of the fact that in the early days trade unionism in the pastoral industry was very weak. Thou we have the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), who has a brief for the coal “ barons” and squatters, whom he is supposed to defend whenever they are attacked. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) is another representative of the pastoral industry in Australia. We have also . the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen), who in between evading his proper taxation and voting that he should evade it, represents all the wealthy squatters and pastoral interests of this country.
– The honorable member would not be game enough to say outside what he has just said about me.
– That may be all right, but it is quite a different matter when the honorable member accuses another of evading his taxation.
– I have never evaded any taxation.
– He would not be game enough to say it outside.
– I have.
– I do not.
– And I ask that the honorable member be called upon to withdraw. It was not a true statement he made concerning me.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I have already called the honorable member to order and asked him not to proceed on the lines on which he was speaking. If the honorable member for Riverina insists on a withdrawal I must ask the honorable member for Darling to withdraw his statement.
– What the honorable member has now said is also untrue, and I ask that it be withdrawn unconditionally.
– The honorable member for Riverina, in saying that a statement made by the honorable member for Darling is untrue, has madeuse of an unparliamentary remark. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and say that it is an incorrect statement.
– He may be abetter friend to them than the honorable member.
– That, also, is not correct, and I ask for its withdrawal.
– If the honorable member for Darling is compelled to withdraw all his inaccuracies, he will not be able to proceed, because he will have nothing left to talk about.
– The Temporary Chairman once led a strike.
– I should like to know, Mr. Mann, what all this has to do with the deportation clauses of the bill?
– I ask for the withdrawal of that statement, because it. is quite incorrect. I have never been connected with any strike.
– I rise to a poiut of order. I have never stated thatI am not in favour of trade unionism.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.An honorable member’s statement may be incorrect, but it need not necessarily be withdrawn unless it is offensive.
– I am not in the witness box.
.- The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) stated that I was quite frank in my antagonism to trade unionism, but I defy the. honorable member to produce any statement of mine in which I have expressed opposition to it.
– And democracy.
– I give no quarter, and I desire none.
. - I wish to place on record my opinion concerning the important phase of the bill with which we are now dealing. I have listened to-day to the speeches of one or two honorable members opposite, which have consisted, in the main, of wretched clap-trap and utter nonsense, such as no self-respecting man should be asked to listen to. We have been told to-day, for instance, that there is a strong tendency on the part of the Government to engineer industrial disputes, and create what the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) terms “frame-ups,” merely for political purposes. Those who are alleged to be guilty of assisting in such treacherous deeds are said to be on this side of the chamber. Such statements are absolutely false, and every honorable member opposite knows it. There is not a shadow of truth in any statements of honorable members opposite to the effect that an attempt is being made to engineer industrial disputes in order, as they say, to ensure the safety of the Government. We do not wish to go back and experience the conditions which existed when Labour had to fight so strenuously for its rights. No one will dispute the rights of Labour, or attempt to deprive unionists . of the privileges and conditions which they now enjoy as the result of strenuous effort and self-sacrificing devotion to a just cause. But, unfortunately, political, economy has been cast to the winds by the present Labour party. We have been informed that this bill has been submitted with the sole intention of destroying unionism and deporting all its leaders. Honorable members opposite know that that is untrue. No sane man would attempt, to destroy unionism, or deprive Labour of its rights. The conditions which unionists enjoy to-day have been won after a great struggle.
– Does the honorable member pay them good wages?
– Does the honorable mein-, ber employ any of the Barwell boys ?
– It is true.
– Does the honorable member think that deportation will meet the situation?
.- It would be impossible to give a greater exhibition of calamity-howling than that of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster). Nobody will be deceived by his eleventh-hour profession of a desire to support democratic principles. His record is too well known. In South Australia he is regarded as one of the most reactionary tories in the Commonwealth. In view of the honorable member’s profession of a desire to serve the welfare of the workers and to further their interests, it is interesting to study his record as a Minister in a South Australian Cabinet. The conditions that he imposed upon the railway men of that state gained him the reputation of being the hardest taskmaster that they had ever had.
– I withdraw, but I say that the statement of the honorable member is contrary to fact.
– That is not the only newspaper condemning the action of the Government.
– Let us have it.
– The honorable member is giving a complete misrepresentation of the position.
– Is this sort of thing to be tolerated in a civilized community?
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is making a complete misrepresentation of the facts Is it to be tolerated ?
– I beard that during my absence last night I had been attacked -by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) on the same matter, and
I propose when I become possessed of the facts “to make a statement concerning them.
.- It is quite a common practice with those who are devoid of arguments on the merits of a case to attack the personality of those who are supporting arguments to which they are opposed. It is one of the commonest of devices to attack the legal profession, which is a favourite target for the revolutionary or any person who for the moment happens to be opposed to the enforcement of an existing or the passing of an intended law. This method of procedure .makes one. smile when one remembers .that probably every honorable member has a legal adviser of his own, whom he is prepared to trust to the utmost with his private affairs. I am proud of the profession to which I have the honour to belong, and of the standards which it observes. It is the only profession from which a member may be excluded by legal measures for dishonorable conduct or misbehaviour. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), have paid the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and me the compliment of suggesting ‘that .we, in some way, represent the interests of wealthy clients who belong to the employing classes. Those -who are accustomed to the practice of the courts, or .are acquainted in any way with the practice of either the honorable member for Fawkner or myself, must be amused at such a suggestion. The services of a member of the bar are at the disposal of any member of the public, whether that member of the public be popular or otherwise. Let me point out that the honorable member for Fawkner appeared, some time ago, in the Colin Ross case, for a most unpopular man, and thereby imperilled his own political welfare.
.- It is gratifying to me to find that the speech which I delivered the other night on this bill has excited so much interest among members of the Opposition. The attention which they gave to my remarks was, however, inadequate, as they have completely misunderstood their purport. As the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) has said, honorable members opposite are themselves so bankrupt of argument that they have attacked me personally. From my knowledge of honorable members opposite, I am convinced that only three or four of them would be capable of making such an attack on me as that made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). Later, when I have the facts before me, I propose, with the consent of the House, to make a personal explanation regarding the charge that I had voted to restrict to 14s. a week the wages of girls engaged in the whitework trade. I claim that I have always been a friend of the workers. On the 4th September next I shall have completed 50 years of residence in Melbourne, and I defy any one - even my most bitter enemy, the man who uses every opportunity to decry me and my actions - to prove anything to the contrary. I challenge the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) to point to one word or one act of mine during those 50 years which would indicate that I have not always been in full sympathy with the working class.
– The unionists do not ask the political opinions of their prospective members. Their unions are formed for an entirely different purpose.
– The honorable member cannot prove any control from Moscow.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to whether the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) have any bearing on the clause under discussion.
– The honorable member has not been here to hear the speeches.
– The honorable member has only to study the results of the last New South Wales election.
– Is the honorable member not obsessed with communism ?
– That clears up a good deal.
– The ‘honorable member has to prove that.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– For deporting the ‘representatives of working men.
– The honorable member is doing so.
– The ‘honorable member has not done anything of the kind. It is only his imagination.
– Fortunately the Labour party will not take any notice of the utterances of the honorable member for Fawkner.
– It is most amusing.
. The speech delivered by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) will, no doubt, be very acceptable to those timid old ladies in his electorate who, prior to retiring each night, peer beneath the virtuous couch to assure themselves that the long looked for male has not secreted himself. The honorable member is like a modern spring-heel Jack, who goes around endeavouring to keep little boys off the streets. His services should be enlisted by a broadcasting company in the capacity of telling bedtime stories, to incorrigible youngsters. The answer to the honorable member’s charges are to be found in the results of the last New South Wales election.
Question - That clauses 7, 8 and 9, as amended by the printed and circulated amendments of the Government, be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The printed and circulated amendments of the Government were accordingly made in the bill, as follow : -
Clause 7, after “ time,” insert “ whether before or after the commencement of this section, within three years before the notice in writing referred to in this section,”.
Clause 7, omit “ make an order for his deportation “, insert the following - “, by notice in writing, summon the person to appear before a Board, at the time specified in the summons and in the manner prescribed, to show cause why he should not be deported from the Commonwealth. “ (2.) Sub-sections (2.) (3.) and (4.) of section eight a of this Act shall apply in relation to the Board mentioned in the last preceding sub-section.”
Clause 7, at the end of the clause add the following : - “ 8ac. A person summoned to appear before a Board in. pursuance of either of the last two preceding sections shall he deemed not to have been born in Australia unless he proves that he was born in Australia “.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Sir Littleton Groom) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY (Hume) [5.381. -Weshould be wanting in our duty if we did not take every opportunity to endeavour to prevent this insidious measure from reaching the statute-book. It will not, at all events, be possible tosay of us on this side that we did not exploit every means to put ourselves right with the people of Australia, who are overwhelmingly opposed to the adoption of coercive measures of this kind. Everything connected, not only with the measure, but also the methods that have been employed in its passage, has discredited the Government. By back-stairs ways the Go- . vernment arranged with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) to have the last say. That honorable member frequently absents himself from this chamber.
– That is unfair and incorrect.
– He was here the whole of to-day.
– The honorable member is absolutely misrepresenting the position in other countries.
– The Government has all the necessary power at the present time.
– In one breath the honorable member says that we are introducing a new principle. In the next breath he says that we can do all these things at the present time.
– The Government already has the power to deal with these communists of whom Ministers speak, but it wants power to deal with strikers.
– But they may be very dangerous.
– Mr. Garden seems to consider the communists fairly powerful.
– The honorable member for Fawkner, of course, would testthe validity of such procedure if the fee were forthcoming.
– Certainly I would not. I would inquire into the matter and see what could be said in favour of it.
– Because I know something about it, and the honorable member for Hume does not.
– Nonsense !
– I suggest that the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) should be selected.
Question - That the report be adopted - put. The House divided.
Majority . . … 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 6.35 to8 p.m. (Thursday).
– This, Mr. Speaker, is getting beyond a personal explanation.
– Have we reached the stage when the honorable member can ask for leave to move the second reading of the bill?
.- We seem to be having surprise upon surprise. After 27 hours’ continuous sitting, the Government is proceeding with the second reading of a bill that was only introduced to-day. It is one of the most important measures with which this House could be asked to deal, and in such circumstances it is the usual practice to adjourn the debate to enable honorable members to become conversant with the provisions of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Navigation Act, and, therefore, its clauses need careful scrutiny. Owing to the pressure of business in this House during the past week it has been almost impossible for honorable members to review properly the legislation thrust before them. From the other side of the chamber there comes very little discussion, and on this side we have to do the best we can with the very .limited know- ledge we have of the measures proposed, for the Ministry gives us practically no information. The right honorable gentleman has now coolly come forward with a very important measure, and has asked the House to agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable it to be dealt with at once. That is asking too much of this deliberative assembly, and if honorable members grant the request they will have some difficulty in justifying their action to the people. I desire to have time to study the provisions of the bill. I assert that no government, whatever majority it may have, is justified in using its power in a brutal manner to force legislation through this House. The Government apparently seeks to pass legislation much as a butcher produces sausages from a machine. The purpose of the bill is to suspend certain clauses of the Navigation Act because - so it will probably be alleged - of. an impending industrial trouble. Only yesterday I urged the Prime Minister, as the head of this Commonwealth, to use his influence to prevent the threatened industrial upheaval. That is the first thing that a man in his position should do. Whatever opinions honorable members may have of what is happening outside, they should have no’ doubt as to what the Prime Minister should do in this crisis. Obviously a duty devolves upon him.
– Shame !
– We heard nothing worth while from the Opposition side last night.
– I rise to a point of order. Is that remark by the Leader of the Opposition fair?
– On a point of order. The honorable member for Bass made an insulting, allusion to the Leader of the Opposition, who, he said, had not uttered a word worth listening to. That statement was as offensive as anything the Leader of the Opposition said of the honorable member for Bass.
– The Government will settle the trouble when Parliament rises.
– It would be better, in the circumstances, that the American Fleet should not come here.
– From the honorable member’s point of view.
– To deal with one issue alone.
– Yes, on the second reading.
– Has not something already taken place?
– There are quite enough ships idle.
– Is not this proposal made after the last shipping trouble, though it may be before the next one?
– If the honorable member were in Western Australia he would think so.
– Why, then, did they issue the ultimatum to the ship-owners?
– Is that Mr. Garden?
– I am sorry if I have inconvenienced the honorable member.
– The honorable member knows that I always listen to him very carefully.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 12
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
While I was listening to the remarks that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr: Charlton) has just made, I very much regretted that the serious, calm, reserved, and restrained atmosphere in which the shipping dispute was discussed yesterday afternoon by both himself and the Prime Minister was not preserved. In a deliberative assembly such as this ought to be we should at least approach a matter of this nature from the stand-point of argument and reason, and not from that of passion and prejudice. The object of this bill is to give a reserve power to the Government-
Honorable members interjecting,
R.- Order ! I should like honorable members generally to understand that the Chair will, on an occasion like this, exert its power to prevent disorder. I hope that honorable members will take due notice of that warning.
– The bill is designed, to give the Government power in times of national emergency to suspend certain provisions of the Navigation Act, so that in the event of the whole of the shipping on our coasts being held up it may be able to do something, at least, to provide shipping facilities.
– With Chows and Japs.
N.- I may have something to say later in respect to that interjection. Before outlining the provisons of the bill, I should like to give honorable members a resume of the history of our navigation legislation. The first- Navigation Bill was introduced ir> this House in 1903, and from then until 1912, when it was passed, the measure was almost constantly under discussion. It probably received more attention from the legislature than any other measure that has been placed on our statute-book. It was provided that the act was not to become operative until it had been proclaimed, and some portions of it were proclaimed earlier than others. On account of the war, no further legislation was passed until 191,9, but in that year, and also in 1920, two amending bills were passed. These also were thoroughly discussed, and the legislation became operative, in part, in 1921. Although provision was made in the various acts for the safety and survey of ships, the maintenance of life-saving apparatus, and the like, their principal object was to build mp jan Australian mercantile marine. In order to achieve this purpose it was necessary adequately to safeguard both the Australian ship-owners and the Australian seamen against unfair competition from overseas shipping. To this end it was provided that no ship should engage in the Australian coastal trade except it was licensed to do so, or, in exceptional circumstances, was given a permit under which it could provide a service where no licensed ships were operating. The conditions under which the licences were granted were that ships should be manned in accordance with the act and the regulations made pursuant to it, and that the accommodation provided! for the seamen should be up to the standards prescribed. Under this legislation and the Arbitration Court awards the Australian seamen have enjoyed higher wages, shorter hours, and better accommodation than any other merchant seamen in the world. They have had annual holidays, time off in port in lieu of holidays and Sundays spent at sea, free hospital attendance and medicine in time of sickness, and full wages for a period of three months if, owing to sickness, they had to be landed away from their home port.
– I rise to a point of order. I respectfully draw your atten- Mon. Mr. Speaker, to the nature of the
Minister’s remarks, and ask your ruling as to whether they have anything to do with the Navigation Bill?
R. - The honorable member’s mind is very agile to-night. I am not certain whether the Minister’s remarks are applicable to the bill. I am waiting to find that out, and if they arc not I shall tell him so.
Mr. Blakeley interjecting ,
R.- I warn the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that it is improper and disorderly to speak when the Speaker is addressing the House.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker.
N.- I desire to explain the conditions existing, and brought about by the operation of the Navigation Act, in the Australian mercantile marine, and I shall then explain the application of the bill to the present situation. Without wearying the House too much with details of the awards made by the courts, or even with the act, which is the basis of those awards, I should like to say, and it can be entirely proved, that the conditions in the Australian mercantile marine, in which both the owners and the seamen are protected by the act, are by far the best in the world.
– Is the Minister sorry for that?
Mr-. PRATTEN.- I am not sorry for it. In order to prove my statement, I shall quote evidence given in the Arbitration Court as recently as last October, when a witness said -
So far as their association was concerned (the New South Wales Coastal Steamship Owners) the seamen were- in some cases earning very large sums. He had prepared a list for income tax purposes, and one man had been paid over £400 for the year.
y. - I respectfully draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the seamen’s wages have nothing whatever to do with the Navigation Act.
– If the honorable member for Bourke will read the act again he will see that several sections of it relate to the wages and conditions of seamen. I shall intervene if I hear the Minister saying anything irrelevant.
– The witness before the Arbitration Court stated that many able seamen earned from £350 to £400 a year, in addition to their keep. In making these comparisons, I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not cavilling at the rates of pay of Australian seamen.
– I wish to raise a point of order. A very undesirable practice is growing up in this House of reading speeches, and I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Minister is reading his speech.
R. - The Standing Orders, as well as long established parliamentary practice, prevent an honorable member from reading his speech. All he is entitled to do is to refresh his memory from copious notes. I hope that the Minister will not offend against that practice. I have noticed a tendency several times in the present session to depart from it.
– Even if I desired to do so it would be impossible for me, with the zig-zag arguments that are going on all round me, to read my speech. In deference to the objections of my honorable friends opposite, I shall not say anything further about the great benefits that the Australian seamen are enjoying, but I think I am in order in discussing the Navigation Act and its relation to the proposals of the Government. From the stand-point of the owners, the Australian shipping industry receives a larger measure of practical protection than any other industry in the Commonwealth. It is true that any British or even foreign ship may apply, in compliance with the regulations laid down, for a licence to engage in the Australian trade, but the conditions are so onerous that such applications are not made. The result is that the Australian shipping industry is a close monopoly of the Australian ship-owners and the Australian seamen. In view of these facts, one would think that if any industry in the Commonwealth would be conducted harmoniously by the employers and the employees, it would be the shipping industry; but, most regrettably, that industry is in an almost chronic state of industrial turmoil.
– Will the Minister state the profits of the shipping companies, seeing that he has stated the wages of the seamen ?
N. - A royal commission reported that the ship-owners’ profits were no more than reasonable, and that report is of very recent date. If these industrial troubles involved only the ship-owners and the seamen, the matter would be bad enough; but it cannot be too strongly emphasized that they go far beyond that. The Australian shipping industry is a key industry - I might almost say that it is “the” key industry of the Commonwealth - and any disorganization of it is immediately felt in every other industry, and by the whole community. It is evident that when ships at short notice cease to run, shippers, producers, and consignees suffer great inconvenience and loss. The losses in wages to the seamen and other maritime workers directly affected are bad enough. From 1921 to 1924, which were the first four years after the provisions of the act came into force, the seamen and wharf labourers alone lost, owing to shipping disputes, wages amounting to no less than £309,414, but others besides the seamen and wharf labourers are thrown out of employment when there is a hold-up in the shipping services. One of the Commonwealth Statistician’s latest reports shows that for the year 1919, £34,497 was lost in wages by the seamen and wharf labourers, and that the total estimated loss in wages by all the trade unionists and other industrial workers affected amounted to no less than £775,000. That figure represents the wages for 1,500,000 working days of 16,000 people. In addition, there are innumerable direct and indirect losses. There are the extra rail freights and personal expenses that have to be paid, the effect on trade generally of the decreased consumption of goods, the increased unemployment, the losses due to delays in transport, and many other things. No figures are available to show the indirect losses, but we have one illustration of them in the effect of the holdup of the Tasmanian shipping services early this year. On that occasion a large number of people suffered heavy personal losses, and great inconvenience, by being stranded in Tasmania or on the mainland. We have also direct evidence from the Commonwealth Shipping Board of very large sums directly lost through the hold-up of the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers. In attempting to make an estimate of the indirect losses it is not unreasonable to say that they may be ten, or even twenty, times as large as the loss of wages by unionists. Great suffering is inflicted upon the people of the Commonwealth in other ways. The people of Tasmania, Western Australia, and Northern Queensland depend almost entirely upon regular shipping services for many of their necessities. I think I have demonstrated that the shipping industry is a national and a key industry, and that when it is dislocated great losses are inflicted not only directly on the men immediately concerned, but also indirectly on large sections of the community. The sugar industry of Queensland furnishes one illustration of the consequences of a shipping dislocation. That industry is almost wholly dependent upon shipping facilities, and if they are not available the industry ceases because the mills can only hold moving stocks. Therefore, if the round of industrial activity is interrupted for any length of time the mills must close and the cane rots in the field. This entails dislocation of subsidiary industries that are dependent upon the proper distribution of sugar. Jam makers and fruit canners are affected, and through them indirectly the fruitgrowers suffer. Confectioners and biscuit manufacturers also use sugar, and employ large numbers of workers. Coal supplies another illustration. The distribution of coal depends very largely upon adequate shipping facilities, and that fuel is essential to practically the whole of the secondary industries, which employ nearly 400,000 people. If there is a serious dislocation in connexion with its distribution, the interests of all those workers are affected. These facts are common knowledge, but in a discussion of a measure of this nature it is right to take into consideration all the concomitant circumstances and possibilities. Doubtless, honorable members opposite will declare that this bill is another thrust at Australian trade unionism, and will import into the discussion a spirit of partisanship. The Government has no desire to add in any way to the difficulties with which those who are directly interested in the shipping industry are faced, but it has its responsibilities to the general community, and not merely to any section of it. Without commenting upon the merits of the present partial dispute, I assure honorable members >that the Government has the most fervent desire that industrial peace shall pre vail, but it must accept the responsibility with which the people have entrusted it, and therefore it asks Parliament to grant certain powers which would bc obviously necessary in a time . of national crisis. If those powers are given, the Government will at such a time exercise them and be responsible to the House and to the electors of the whole Commonwealth. The bill is presented to the House in a serious spirit, and with no thought of giving provocation, but with an earnest desire to help the whole of the people and the trade unionists directly and indirectly concerned.
The first portion of the bill deals with Part VI. of the Navigation Act, comprising sections 284 to 293 inclusive, and relating to the coasting trade. Under the provisions of Part VI., no ship may carry passengers and cargo between ports within the coasting trade limits unless either licensed to do so, or, in exceptional circumstances, under a special permit. The bill proposes to add a new section to give the Governor-General power in the public interest to suspend by proclamation any of the provisions of Part VI. as regards any ship or class of ships, subject to such conditions as the Governor-General may think fit to impose. The effect of such a suspension would be that any :hip whether owned in the Commonwealth or overseas, of the class set forth in the proclamation, could participate in the carriage of passengers or cargoes on the Australian coast. The second portion of the bill is designed to facilitate traffic without interfering substantially with the provisions of Part VI. For instance, the Government could suspend the provisions as to the carriage of, say, a doctor on a ship travelling on the coast, or as to other minor matters, that would not debract from the general efficiency and safety of the ship as a whole. This pro- 1posal may be regarded to some extent as an alternative to the first portion of the bill; that is, it may be possible by relatively minor exemptions granted under this proposed section to permit ships to operate in the coasting trade without a total suspension of Part VI. The insertion in an act relating to shipping and navigation of a provision giving the executive authority to dispense, on occasions, with Ihe requirements of some sections of the general mercantile marine law, is not a new departure. Section 78 of the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act 1906 gives to the . British Board of Trade powers very similar to those proposed to be conferred by this bill. That section reads-
The Board of Trade may, if they think fit, and upon such conditions (if any) as they think fit to impose, exempt any ship from any specified requirement contained in, or prescribed in pursuance of, the Merchant Shipping Act, or dispense with the observance of any such requirement in the case of any ship, if they are satisfied that that requirement has been substantially complied with in the case of that ship, or that compliance with the requirement is unnecessary in the circumstances of the case, and that the action taken or provision made as respects the subject-matter of the requirement in the case of the ship is as effective as, or more effective than, actual compliance with the requirement.
That section also requires the Board of Trade to lay annually before both Houses of Parliament a special report stating the cases in which they have exercised their powers under that section during the preceding year, and the grounds upon which they have acted in each case. A somewhat similar provision is contained in the bill now before the House. Section 57 of the New Zealand Shipping and Seamen Amendment Act 1909, is almost precisely the same as section 78 of the Imperial Act, and gives to the Minister of Marine the same power cf dispensation as is conferred in Great Britain upon the Board of Trade. I appeal to this House to treat this bill in a non-party spirit. The Government regards it as a measure to be used solely for the benefit of the whole community ,- and will be responsible to the House and to the country if, and when, any executive action is taken under its provisions. Australia has a splendid mercantile marine. In respect of capital invested, and the number of men employed it is easily the largest industry in Australia, and no sane Australian wishes to destroy it. There are indications that that view is shared by the vast majority of trade unionists, but in spite of the exceptional conditions under which the seamen work, they appear, according to the reports in the ‘ daily press, to desire to hold the community to ransom, and even to wreck their own industry. My reliance is upon a settlement being effected by the sane, solid, and sensible unionists of Australia, and also by the men who are coming ashore from the ships, wanting to know what all the trouble is about, and getting no satisfactory reply.
– Is this the voice of a non-party man?
N.- The Government takes no sides ki this matter so far as the disputants are concerned. It is neither upon the side of the employer nor upon that of the employee in this matter. It asks for a reserve power, to be used only in the interests of the whole community in connexion with a position which we all hope will never arise - the total cessation of transport facilities on the whole of our coast. This power will be used by the Government only in case of extreme urgency, and only to benefit the whole of the people. I need not remind the House that the Government is responsible for every action it takes. I submit the bill with every confidence that it proposes a reserve power, which in the light of the conditions which exist to-day, the Government of the country should possess. Most probably this power will never need to be used, but we cannot risk the extreme possibility which might arise in connexion with our shipping transport, when the whole community may be held up by something which is not the fault of the great bulk of trade unionists. I am confident that this bill will be a great factor in a possible future crisis. I believe that the great elements - public sentiment and public opinion - are behind the action of the Government in the course it is taking to-night. Neither of the disputants in the present trouble is the biggest party affected by what is taking place. The biggest party is the community. They are the sufferers, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out. The Government, to-night, has definitely taken sides with that biggest party affected by any possible extreme dislocation of the shipping services - the people of Australia.
.- The Minister could have chosen no more appropriate phrase with which to conclude his speech than his statement that the Government has definitely taken sides. Had the seamen’s organization asked me to take up its brief, and be its advocate, I should have done so with pleasure, remembering that their’s is an occupation which. I followed for many years. I should have been their partisan and advocate,, and no one can say that that would not be a more fitting attitude for a public man to take up, or would not be more honest and clean than that assumed by a man who is prepared to take a brief for Thomas Walsh for cash, and later to denounce him for. the same consideration. I have no brief prepared for me by the seamen’s organization. T do not act as its partisan or advocate. I am not in the position of the Minister who has just resumed his seat after reading the brief which the Ship-owners Federation prepared for him. We have- the law as it stands, and we have before us a bill to suspend the operation of that law-. Of the bill the Minister had practically nothing to say, and he was forced to say something about the Navigation Act. He opened with a dissertation on the wages, conditions, and hours of labour which the members of the seamen’s organization enjoy in this country, and professed that they are the fruits of the . Navigation Act. There is no part of the British dominions, irrespective of whether an arbitration law exists there or not, or whether the seamen’s wages are £100 or 10s. per month, where the conditions .they enjoy are due to the passing of an act. In every case the laws which have been passed do nothing more than give the seamen a legal claim upon their wages and conditions, whatever those may happen to be. The wages and conditions of the seamen were not secured by any navigation law. They were obtained by the force of numbers and by organizations of the seamen before the introduction of any arbitration law. They were later covered by awards under, arbitration laws, and are not, in any way due to the passing of the Navigation Act. To justify the Government proposal, the Minister has told us that the dislocation of the shipping industry has caused an immense loss of wages to the men who go down to the sea in ships, or work upon the waterfront of this country. The honorable gentleman would have us believe that he is not a partisan, but a broad-minded public man, rising serenely above the conflict of party and faction. He says, “T am not a partisan ; I am a public man, and observe the issues. I see that the. sea men by constant dislocations of the shipping industry lose an enormous amount in wages.” How the honorable’ gentleman deplores that ! How- regrettable it is that men should take action to deprive themselves of £755,000 in wages, should lose 1,000,000 hours of labour, and should be the cause of 16,000 of their fellows losing their employment. But the honorable gentleman does not tell us that there are in this country to-day, as in every other part of the world, irrespective of . strikes - and would be, no matter how poor, abject or crawlsome they might be, and even though not standing within the shadow of a great organization - enormous numbers of .men out of work and looking for their daily bread. The Minister is not a partisan, but he does not tell the country of the enormous losses inflicted upon thousands of homes because the purchaser of labour says to the men he has employed, “ I want you no longer.” It is a crime if the workman turns away from his job and says that he will not continue to work unless his conditions are improved. He is a criminal, a destroyer of wealth, a thrower away of wages. But that the employer sometimes casts his employees out upon- the street is never taken into consideration by this Minister who claims to be a broad-minded public man and no partisan. He puts only one side to the people of this country, and yet has the audacity to claim to be no partisan. He said - not because it had anything to do with the bill, since it had nothing to do with it - that he is no partisan. “ God forgive me if I would do anything but the fair thing. I tell the truth, as I see it. I am not against the ship-owner or the seamen.”’ But the honorable gentleman has only one eye, and he can see only the iniquities of the seamen. With all his experience as Minister for Trade and Customs he has not found one cause of complaint against those who operate ships upon our coast. Is that not marvellous? Ask the honorable member for Forrest (Mr; Prowse) what his view of the matter is. He will tell us that there was a shipping business in Western Australia, but the ships were taken off. It is his complaint that the Ship-owners Federation lessened the frequency of their service to Western Australian ports because it pleased them to do so, and Western Australia suffered in consequence. Its ports were left without shipping facilities, not because of the action of the seamen, but because it did not suit the book of the shipping federation to continue them. Where are the honorable members representing Tasmania ? Is it not a fact that the north-west coast of that state was deserted by the Ship-owners Federation”? It was not the seamen who left the north-west coastof Tasmania desolate. The ship-owners took their ships off the service to ports on that coast. They wanted to make the utmost profit. They could make one ship do where previously two had been in commission. By taking one away they put money into their pockets, and seamen, firemen, and wharf labourers were cast upon the streets and lost wages as the result. But that was not a crime. The honorable member for Forrest knows that the north-west ports of Tasmania were deserted and cargo left rotting in them, not because the seamen struck, but because the Ship-owners Federation would not put ships on the coast to carry it away. What happened? There was in Tasmania at the .time a Nationalist Government, and not a Labour Government. It was a Government hostile to everything which the Labour party stands for, and particularly to every principle of public ownership for which the Labour party stands. But it was driven by the very force of circumstances and by the outcry of farmers and primary producers for ships to carry their products away. The ship-owners had a vessel lying idle in Sydney harbour, the Melbourne. They would not use her because there was not enough trade. The Nationalist Government of Tasmania purchased that vessel for £60,000, and put her into the service on the north-west coast of the State. That ship went into different ports on the coast and lifted the cargo that had been left rotting there by the Ship-owners Federation. What did the ship-owners do then? They again put ships into the service, and these ships went into Burnie, Devonport, and every other north-west coast port in Tasmania ahead of the vessel purchased by the Nationalist Government and cleaned up the cargo offering ; cargo that had been left rotting in Tasmanian ports, not because of the action of the seamen, but because of the action of the ship-owners. Does not the Minister know that? No; he is blindly ignorant of it. Yet he has the audacity to say, “I am not a partisan; I am serenely above faction. I hold the scales of justice evenly.” The bill proposes to suspend the existing shipping law. Why? To enable the Government to keep running between our ports vessels which employ black, yellow, tan, or any other colour of labour and work it under’ any conditions. For what purpose do Ministers wish to do that? To defeat the ship-owners? Not at all. To defeat the seamen ! Yet these gentlemen say that they are not partisans in this industrial, crisis. Every one knows that this bill does not stand by itself. It is complementary to that other measure, the deportation bill, which has just left this chamber. It is part two of the Government programme. It dove-tails in with the former bill, under which it will b3 possible to deport a man who raises his voice in connexion with any industrial dispute. A man may commit almost any offence in the calendar. He may commit crimes of violence against the person, robbery, crimes against women; he may commit crimes that mean wreckage and ruin to thousands of homes; but for not one of these may he be deported. If charged with the committal of any one of these crimes he will have the right of trial by judge and jury in open court. The authority to deport without trial in open court will only be exercised in the case of the man who, in an industrial dispute, urges his fellow workmen to refuse to work. By raising his voice, an industrial leader will commit a crime carrying a greater penalty than robbery with violence, or than manslaughter, or even than rape.
R. - Order ! .
– This bill, as I have said, is part, two of the Government programme. Its purpose is to break these industrial organizations and destroy the conditions which have been won for our seamen, by permitting vessels manned by any class of labour to trade from port to port upon our coasts. I do not ask who are in the right or who are in the wrong, but if I held a position of responsibility I should endeavour to place myself in the position occupied by the seamen and find out what is the cause of the dispute. What has been said against the seamen may be quite true. A trouble like that which threatens . oan spread like a pestilence through the community and carry desolation to thousands ‘of homes. It may wreck industry on farm and in factory in every state cf the Commonwealth. What is the Government doing ? It has brought in this measure for the lopping off of heads; but if “ heads are lopped other heads will appear. There is no end to suppression, but there is finality to jutice. Cannot the Government rise above the viewpoint of the seamen and of the shipowners and do something to bring about peace, unity and concord ? I realize, that for the proper observance of the laws there must be discipline among our workmen; but, if the Government seeks the public good, it will endeavour to remove the cause of this discord between the parties. The Government is clothed with power, prestige and responsibility. It can be the adjudicator between - the. -ship-owners and the seamen. But”, instead of acting in that capacity, it declares that this thing must be fought to a finish. But the Government cannot fight against both parties. Accordingly, although it professes to seek the ways of peace, it has deliberately ranged itself on the side of organized wealth in this struggle. Did not we see this in the attitude of the Prime Minister the other night? The Commonwealth Shipping Boa-rd . has made an agreement with the seamen. This country has teen told that the Government can exercise no control over that board. Yet the Prime Minister was indignant with members of the Commonwealth Shipping Board for the action which it took because that action has somewhat complicated the -position. The Government, so we understood, had agreed with the Shipowners’ Federation to fight this powerful industrial organization to a finish. Accordingly, the Prime Minister wrote a letter to Admiral Clarkson asking why the board had dared to come to an agreement without consulting the Government. Was it not like his impudence to do that? Time after time in recent years, when questions have been asked concerning the woollen mills, the Commonwealth Bank, and other governmental activities, we have been told that they were under the control of boards, and so were completely removed from all political influence. In this case, however, the Prime Minister asked Admiral Clarkson why and on what terms the Shipping Board had entered into an agreement with the seamenWhen my leader (Mr. Charlton) asked what was the nature of the board’s reply, he drew a blank. Is it not reasonable and proper that Parliament should be informed of what the board has done? Is it not possible also that the reply given by Admiral Clarkson to the Prime Minister might have been helpful to honorable members on this side. of the House if it had been furnished. The right honorable gentleman informed my leader that the board’s reply was in general terms, and was of no value to the country. Do honorable members think that that reply would have been given if the terms of Admiral Clarkson’s letter could have been used as an instrument against us ? In that case the’ Prime Minister, make no mistake about it, would have speedily given the information to the House and to the country. But because the board’s reply could not be so used, and because it suited the Government to carry this struggle to a finish, Admiral Clarkson’s letter has been suppressed. This bill, this odious, unclean thing, represents the policy of the Government. By its passage Ministers think to serve some useful purpose. This Government declares that it is serving the public interest; that it seeks the ends of justice! Has there ever been a despot in the world who has not justified his actions by the declaration that he was acting for the public good? “In politics,” said Desmoulins, in the French Chamber of Deputies, “ there are no principles, only interests.” So we have these professions for the public good, and, side by side with them, measures to create discord. These people represent the money lords of the country. They do not seek to preserve the interests of the nation. Instead of speaking iu the name of humanity, and acting in the interest of justice by endeavouring to bring the two parties together, the Prime Minister is going o fight the seamen to a finish. Yet this struggle, which can only end in disaster, could be averted. When my leader approached the Prime Minister, what answer did he get? The Prime Minister referred to the errors and follies of this and that individual, but failed to face the problems and issues of the day. The Labour party does not believe in perpetually feeding upon the corpses of the past. What doesit matter if Casey, Brown, or Jones, as the case may be, is deported to-morrow? Individuals are insignificant, mere atoms on the stream of public life. When they go out of existence, nothing is ‘ altered, and others take their places. The Government should not proceed with this bill. Its passage can do the Labour movement no harm, but its effect will be that, instead of a kinder and better feeling being encouraged in the community, there will be caused a bitter and savage hostility such as a wise government would sweep away and banish for ever.
.- I regret that I disregarded the Standing Orders by interjecting earlier in the evening. My remark was made in the heat of the moment, and caused the Leader of the Opposition to say something that 1 felt compelled to ask him to withdraw. My contributions to debates in this House have been neither long nor many. I have no desire for my efficiency to be judged by the number of pages in Hansard filled with reports of my speeches. My failure to speak on the Immigration Bill was no fault of mine. I was trying to get the call when the closure was applied. We have heard a lot about the rights of trade unionists in Australia. I fully recognize those rights ; but I remind honorable members that other people have rights as well. I know, too, that it is impossible sometimes for one’s rights not to intrude on the rights of others. One of the most direct reasons for Tasmania’s sorry financial plight to-day is the prevalence of shipping strikes, over which the people of that state have no control whatever. During the last seven years we have had a series of hold-ups of shipping, costing us a considerable amount of money. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) referred to the fact that more produce had been left to rot on the wharves in Tasmania through the shipping companies not sending their vessels to those ports than had been lost through shipping strikes. I shall not contest that statement, because the honorable member, being a member of the Navigation Committee,, has the whole of the facts and figures before him. It matters not to me whether the shipping companies or the seamen,- stewards, or engineers are responsible. All I know is that Tasmania is suffering, and will suffer again, from strikes, and that this bill may to some extent remedy the position.
s. - In what way has Tasmania suffered?
– The honorable member heard what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said about produce being left on the wharfs.
– That is only one instance.
N. - It has occurred year after year. It is most unfortunate for Tasmania that the time at which strikes occur coincides with the height of the tourist season and, incidentally, the height of the produce season. Considerably more than £1,000,000 worth of produce was lost to Tasmania through a strike that occurred three or four years ago. About that time the northern portion of “Victoria and part of New South Wales were drought-stricken. High prices were offering, but owing to the strike the farmers of Tasmania were unable to get their produce to the mainland. Prior to the strike in January last the boarding-house proprietors in Tasmania had made preparations for a record tourist season. Their accommodation was fully booked, and then the strike came. The loss of revenue to these people amounted to thousands of pounds, and their expenditure on improvements was wasted. The average tourist pays for the round trip, and allows himself a few pounds for pocket expenses. During the strike a thousand nf these people were stranded in Tasmania. An effort was made there to have the operation of the Navigation Act suspended. I believe that even the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe) was anxious that this should be done to allow the tourists to be returned to their homes and to bring Tasmanians from the mainland back to their own state. These losses to Tasmania are never recouped. Many people know the conditions of travel on the small boats - the mosquito fleet - which travel to and from Tasmania. In rough weather the passage across the bass strait in those vessels is an experience that is not willingly repeated, and, as a result, people who have undergone it in visiting Tasmania never return there unless a large steamer is available for the trip. The worst feature of these strikes is their suddenness.
Usually the first intimation of trouble is the notification in the press that the Loongana or the Nairana has not left Melbourne. Then our isolation commences. Owing to the proximity of Melbourne, the people of Tasmania hold only nominal stocks of various household commodities, and great difficulty is experienced in obtaining fresh supplies. .Luring last January a large Tasmanian jam factory, which employs many hundreds of hands and absorbs the small fruits grown round about Hobart, suffered serious loss because sugar could not be obtained for jam-making.
Mr. 0’KEEFE - And the Tasmanian Labour Government immediately took steps to bring sugar to Tasmania.
– That is so. Australia is a large continent, and I think that sometimes we are apt to forget its dimensions. The Commonwealth Parliament at times passes legislation which must of necessity impose a hardship on portions of the country. The Navigation Act has undoubtedly imposed a hardship on the states of Tasmania, Western Australia, and Queensland. The coastal area of Western Australia is tremendous, and the people in and near its northern ports suffer considerably through the failure to obtain supplies. I sincerely hope that the present strike will soon end, so that the power to be conferred under this bill will not need fTp be exercised. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) stated that he was not familiar with the merits or demerits of the shipping dispute. Most of us are in the same position. We know that under the Navigation Act and the Arbitration Court trade unionists have considerably improved their conditions, and in return they certainly owe the community a duty. The people of Tasmania, who suffer year after year through shipping hold-ups, are at least entitled to some consideration. This bill, if put into operation, may give some relief to that state. We are told that the unions propose to permit vessels to travel to and from Tasmania, but we are also informed in the newspapers that they propose to take no action “ for the present.” It is possible that certain honorable members may not be able to return to Tasmania next week. What will be the position? Is Tasmania to suffer further loss ? Its financial position is already bad, and there is no inducement to establish industries in Tasmania while shipping hold-ups continue to take place. The people of that state demand permanent communication with the mainland. Tasmania has been drained of population and seems to have become a breeding and learning ground for the other states. It costs £300,000 to educate the children of Tasmania, and no sooner do they reach man’s estate than they leave for the other states to obtain employmentTwo antagonistic monopolies have been created by the protection afforded by the Navigation Act and the Arbitration Court, and the public pays. I amof opinion that the Arbitration Court and the Navigation Act should not be disturbed, since a measure of protection to the shipping industry is: necessary in order to maintain the standard of living of those engaged in it. But those instrumentalities should?, not be used to oppress any section of the community. It is essential that Tasmania should have constant communication with the mainland. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition expressed regret that the Tasmanian shipping line turned out to be such a fiasco. I also regret it. Although the firm with which I am connected does not do a great deal of shipping it never allowed an opportunity to use the vessels of that line to pass. With the Deputy Leader of the Opposition I deplore that the farmers of Tasmania, failed to support the line as they might have done. In any case, however, that service was not sufficient to maintain proper communication between the mainland and Tasmania. I support this bill, not because I like it, but because I think it is necessary in the interests of my state.
– I have a great deal of sympathy with honorable members who represent Tasmania, but I do not feel that I shall be justified on that account in supporting the Government’s proposal to repeal the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act.
– It is proposed not to repeal, but to suspend them.
– It amounts to the same thing while the suspension is in operation. This bill aims a blow at the seamen and many other workers who are associated with the Australian shipping industry. The captains and mates, for instance, are vitally affected, notwithstanding that through their organization they have loyally observed the arbitration court awards in every particular. The marine engineers are in the same position.
– Their awards will still remain in force.
EY. - But of what effect will they be, for these men will be compelled to compete with black labour. The stewards, cooks and pantrymen will also be seriously affected. Even the shipping companies which trade on our coastwill suffer heavy loss if this measure is passed. If German, French. Italian and Japanese boats are permitted to call at our various ports to pick up cargo and passengers the Australian shipping companies will be placed in jeopardy. Those who have invested money in Australian shipping enterprises surely deserve some consideration. If the bill is passed unfairness and injustice must result. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr; Pratten) could do something useful for the country by introducing a tariff revision to provide adequate protection for our manufacturing industries. In consequence of the lackadaisical manner in which his department is administered thousands of our people are unemployed. Instead of taking steps to remedy that situation he is proposing to dislocate our trade and industry still further. This bill is not only a deadly blow at industry; it is also subversive of our “White Australia policy. Under its provisions persons of all nationalities and colours will be permitted to trade on our coast in competition with our own people. Even that will not be the end of its disastrous effects. Although the Government disapproved of the action of the Commonwealth Shipping Board in entering into an agreement with the Seamen’s Union, it is not justified on that account in introducing a measure which will practically cripple the board by obliging it to work its vessels in competition with ships that employ black labour. The Commonwealth Shipping Line observes Australian standards in all respects; but the overseas ships which the Government proposes to permit to trade on our coast do not.
– It is proposed to use the power provided bv this bill only to maintain essential services.
EY.- That is what we are told; but once the Government gets the power it can use- it according to its own sweet will. The ships of all nations will be able to trade on our coast.
– That will depend upon what the proclamation provides., lt may be limited to certain ships.
EY.- We have no information at all on that point.
– No proclamation may be issued.
EY. - T suppose that if the shipping dispute were settled tomorrowand we all hope that it will be settled shortly - the Government would not issue a proclamation. Our point, however, is that there is no need to give it the power to do so. Every honorable member who had anything to do with, passing the Navigation Act was proud that it made the best conditions in the world possible for Australian sailors. Under its provisions our seamen are treated as respectable men. I could understand a Government introducing this measure if we were in danger of annihilation or something like it; but the mere fact that a dispute exists between the ship-owners and ‘he seamen does not warrant its introduction. If the Prime Minister would only get off his high horse and call the parties to the dispute together, I believe that a settlement might be effected; but by introducing this bill he is simply annoying the seamen. In effect he is saying to them, “We have decided that you shall no longer enjoy the protection afforded you by the Navigation Act. You must compete with the black labour ships of other nations and take your chance with them.” That is an invitation to a fight to the bitter end. It is well known that the various industrial sections of our’ community are united, and the introduction of this measure may conceivably cause a general strike. The coalminers, for instance, may say that they will strike in sympathy with the seamen, and the gas-workers, railwaymen and tramwaymen may follow their example.
– They have too much common sense to do that.
EY. - If they are incensed and excited by legislation of this character they may not use their common sense.
– But the honorable member will advise them to do so?
EY. - On every occasion when I return to Sydney, I do what I can to cause the sections of the community with which I come into contact to act as reasonable men. The plain fact is that the Government has taken sides with the ship-owners in this matter.
– That is not true.
EY.- I shall go further, and say that this measure was introduced at the instigation of the ship-owners. It is well known that the honorable memfor Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and certain of his Western Australian colleagues, as well as some honorable members . who represent Tasmanian constituencies, have consistently advocated the suspension of those sections of the Navigation Act which prevent overseas vessels from engaging in our coastal trade. May I say, in passing, that Tasmania has been a most expensive state to the Commonwealth. Almost every year we are asked to grant money to it, and now we are invited to allow black labour vessels to call at its various ports and ship its apples and other products. The present AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom), Sir Elliot Johnson, the late Mr. Tudor, arid many others whom I could name, wee proud that they helped to pass the Navigation Act. “ Mr. Foster. - But I fought it strenuously at every stage, and my attitude ha.” been justified over and over again.
– I will say that the honorable member for Wakefield has at least been consistent. Other countries have shown a tendency to imitate that act, and some of them have copied several of its provisions. Without any justification the Minister, with cool audacity, has flung this bill at the House. If it is passed, it will cut the heart out of the act. The usual procedure with bills is to adjourn the debate after the Minister has moved the second reading. What is the power behind this Government? Behind the National party is the Country party, and behind both is the shipping combine. All the interstate shipping companies are under the control of the Inchcape combine, which does not, of course, wish the Navigation Act to be continued because it wants to employ black-labour ships in our coastal trade. It is good policy for the combine to get the vital sections of the act repealed, and it will save thousands of pounds by the passing of this bill. The Minister did not explain why he introduced the bill. He said that in case of emergency it would be put into operation, but not otherwise. I was on a royal commission which inquired into shipping, and one of the facts established was that the interstate shipping companies were under the control of the Inchcape combine. If the Government persists with this bill it will suffer when the next appeal is made to the . electors. Personally I shall fight every clause of it. If we could see a list of the shareholders of the different shipping companies, we should find in it the names of some of those honorable members who are defending this bill. It is deplorable that men should, in their own interests, vote in this House against the interests of the country. There has been no call by the general public for the bill. The repeal of the Navigation Act was not an issue at the last election. The Minister would be better employed in bringing down a tariff to protect local industries against oversea competition.
– I direct attention to the state of the House. * Quorum formed.]*
.- The Government should certainly have the additional power which it is seeking. It is quite true, as the last speaker indicated, that members of all parties assisted in evolving the Navigation Act, which, I agree, is in advance of similar legislation in any other country. The people of Australia gave to the ship-owners and the seamen advantages that no other ship-owners or seamen enjoy. One object was to build up an Australian mercantile marine, but in that respect the act has completely failed. In view of the monopoly given by the people of Australia to the ship-owners and seamen, a natural and moral obligation rests upon them to provide the people with an uninterrupted shipping service. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said that at the outset of this disturbance the Government was bludgeoning this bill through. I interjected that we had “ a before and a behind “ to this bill. We have just passed through a very serious shipping dispute. Those honorable members who live in Melbourne and Sydney did not experience the full effect of it, but those who live in more remote places understand something of its persecuting influence. The women and children, to whom the Leader of the Opposition referred, have had to suffer for want of supplies because the public gave superior conditions to the seamen and the shipping companies. We have seen how the kindness of the public has been requited. We have placed ourselves in a net by giving these organizations a monopoly. On the most trivial pretext they hold up the whole of the commerce of Australia. The women and children of Western Australia may be kept without sugar, but that does not seem to matter to that section of the community. It would appear, from ‘ the speeches of honorable members opposite, that if we do not consider exclusively those whom it is admitted we have treated most handsomely, we shall be involved in a serious industrial turmoil. That one section of the community should be greater than the whole, and greater than this Parliament, does not accord with my views. I am never ashamed to say what I conscientiously believe. I have already had a hand in framing part of the report of the royal commission on the Navigation Act.
s. - Undoubtedly, and this bill is a result of that.
– The bill does not go so far as I would like it to go. Four of the seven honorable members on the royal commission recommended that the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act should be permanently repealed, but the Government does not- seek to do that. It merely seeks power to deal with a situation such as the people of Western Australia and Tasmania have recently suffered from. By passing the Navigation Act we placed ourselves in the hands of a dual monopoly. -The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) seems to be ready to believe everything that the Tariff Board says. That body, reporting on the effect of the ‘ Navigation Act, said -
Many ‘bitter complaints have been’ made to the Tariff Board that the working of the Navigation Act is acting detrimentally at present to the best interests of Australian industries, both primary and secondary.
It was stressed whilst the Government professes to do all in its power to encourage -decentralization and the peopling of our distant parts, yet it endorses the policy of the Navigation Act, which more than any other legislation discourages the settler on our coasts far removed from industrial centres.
It was also urged that the oversea merchants arc assisted in their trade against our own producers by tlie fact that our present method of administering our shipping laws places heavy freights on our own products whilst overseas goods are carried for much lower freights. .
Hie board found that this discontent existed in all states, but that the application was most keenly felt in Western Australia and Queensland. Not only is the freight on Australian goods shipped to these states high, but the heavy freight in return places the producers at a serious disadvantage when endeavouring to compete with imported goods shipped to the other states.
Representations have also been made to the board in regard to the serious disadvantage imposed on Tasmania by the ‘ restriction in shipping upon which she has solely to depend.
Inquiries made by the board showed that the cost of shipping certain goods from South Australia to Western Australia was greater than the cost of shipping them from Europe to Western Australia. Again, it was frequently stated to the board that the freight on butter from Queensland to other states was much heavier than from New Zealand to Australia.
The board has no hesitation in reporting that tlie present Navigation Act is working very detrimentally against the best interests of the primary and secondary producers.
Much of the benefit conceded by the tariff is lost through the additional cost in freight on Australian goods, and our primary producers and manufacturers will not be able to obtain the full share of the markets they are entitled to until some other methods can be adopted to provide a service that will not place our shippers at a disadvantage.
Notwithstanding the sacrifices which the community has made in order to give advantages to the seamen and the shipping companies, the people are on tenterhooks the whole time. They never know when the whole shipping industry may not be held up. That is the effect of delivering ourselves wholly into the hands of the Australian shipping companies and the seamen. Sometimes people have to wait for days at remote ports for an Australian boat to give them a passage to another portion of the Commonwealth, although vessels carrying mails from Europe are calling at the ports and. leaving with empty passenger accommodation.
– I think the honorable member’s speech deserves more attention than it is receiving. I therefore call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
E. - In order that the seamen may have the excellent conditions that they enjoy, the shipping services have been curtailed. Albany, which next year will celebrate the centenary of its foundation, had a better shipping service twenty years ago, when it had 25 per cent, less population than it has now. At one time about eight ships called at that port every month, but now not more than two ships call there. The shipping service has been reduced in order to confer advantages upon the Australian seamen and shipping companies.
– The honorable member knows that that is not correct.
E- I know that a contributory cause is said to be the competition of the East-West railway with the shipping companies. Nevertheless, the shipping combine has control of the whole of the coastal trade, and has parcelled out the coastline amongst its constituent companies. Each company fixes its scale of charges and time-table, and because there is no competition, the public can take what is offered, or go without. That is why four of the seven members of the royal commission on navigation recommended the permanent repeal of a portion of the Navigation Act. I, as one of the four, must support the Government in seeking power to ensure that if the shipping services become worse, the Australian people shall receive some consideration. No section should be more powerful than the whole community. Why should Parliament wait, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested, until the trouble becomes acute before conferring these emergency powers upon the Government? The national government, no matter from what party it is formed, should be supreme; neither Walsh nor any other man should be above the Government that is kept in power bv a Parliament elected . by the people. Honorable members may be interested to hear a short summary of the principal conclusions contained in the majority report of the royal commission on navigation -
Purpose of Navigation Act.
The Navigation Act has failed in its purpose, namely, to establish an Australian mercantile marine.
It is quite true that outside capitalists have obtained a controlling interest in some Australian shipping companies.
New South Wales and Victoria.
The states of New South Wales and Victoria have no complaints against the act, which are not common to all states. The outlying parts of the Commonwealth are more severely affected than the large centres of New South Wales and Victoria.
And therefore it is more profitable to transport the fruit by train.
All these disabilities having been imposed for the benefit of the seamen, it is reasonable that the Government should be given control even of them.
Referring to the disabilities’ complained’ of in Western Australia, the report says -
The act, by helping to keep freights on a high level, has seriously affected primary production in Western Australia, and. has made trade relations with the eastern states in. primary and secondary productions almost impossible. By high freights, all importations from other states are made more costly. and thereby trade with the rest o£ Australia becomes difficult.
We cannot even be customers of the eastern states because of the shipping difficulties. The report continues) -
The timber industry of Western Australia is suffering at tlie hands of the shipping monopoly of the interstate trade, made possible by the coastal trading provisions of the Navigation Act, which has resulted in high timber freight and insufficient cargo space tor timber from Western Australia.
The prosperity of Albany has been prejudicially affected’ by the operation of the act, and the district of Albany at present lias insufficient passenger and cargo shipping service.
The port of Geraldton has declined by reason of the fact that since the Navigation Act came into operation the irregularity ana infrequency of shipping services to that port prevented the merchants of that place obtaining their merchandise promptly on through bills of lading.
That the “ permits “ granted to certain vessels trading in the north-west coast of Australia are essential to the development of the north-west of Australia, and if these permits were discontinued the growth of settlement there would be retarded.
The Navigation Act was to a considerable extent responsible for the failure of an attempt to develop the whaling industry in Western Australia.
In view of the advantages secured by Parliament to the seamen of Australia, is it too much to ask a guarantee of a regular and efficient service from them ? I do not” think that is an unreasonable request.
– The honorable member wants to have black men on the ships.
– The honorable member wants sugar from black-labour countries.
– Some of the oversea liners employ black crews.
The only recommendation which your commissioners desire to make is one which will remove most of the grounds for complaint made before your commissioners, and such recommendation is that Part VI. (the coastal trade) of the act be repealed. That recommendation was signed by two of the seven commissioners. The following recommendations were signed by two other commissioners: - ‘our commissioners therefore recommend: - ( 1 ) That the coastal trading provisions of the Navigation Act be repealed. (2) That there be substituted therefor adequate duties, under the Customs Tariff Act, upon foreign shipping, with a lesser preferential rate upon British shipping, calculated in the case of cargoes upon the rates of freight charged per ton, and, in the case of passengers, upon the fares charged.
– Then why quote it? Mr. PROWSE.- I have read the recommendations of four of the seven members of the commission, and they were agreed that the Navigation Act, particularly in respect of the coastal provisions, is a disadvantage to Australia, and recommended its repeal. The evidence taken by the commission clearly shows that the Navigation Act places Australia at a great disadvantage, and the Tariff Board had also to admit this.
.- I hope that the action of the Government in introducing this bill is the most iniquitous that it will perpetrate during its career. I regard it very seriously, and am very much annoyed about it, but I do not suppose that matters to honorable members opposite. I resent being driven into a frame of mind in which I want to fight. T am disposed to use the language of those who fought in France to express my opinion of this measure. I regard it as a base betrayal, and an attempt to undo beneficent legislation of the last twenty years. At one fell swoop the Government proposes to put the seamen of this country back where they were twenty years ago. Ministers do this gloatingly and without the flicker of an eyelid. I am prepared to fight for the seamen as I ‘ would for those with whom I have worked myself. I ask honorable members not to attempt to put it over me that this is a measure merely to give the Government a power which they can hold in reserve. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) is looking forward to the passing of this bill. If in the next week or two it is not put into operation, so far as it affects Western Australia, the honorable member will resign his seat as he resigned his position as Whip when the Government did not do as he wished, and then some “ scab “ will take his place. The benefits for which men have struggled for years are, under this measure, to be taken away from them. The members of the . Government, in my opinion, will do the job just as relentlessly and callously as they are putting this measure through the House. Their action is malicious. They are blood-drunk, if I may apply the term politically. They are going to take away all the benefits that have been won by the seamen, who have less opportunity than other workers of getting anything done politically. The reason for this is that they are most of their time away from their home ports, and must depend on land-lubbers to do the work they require done. I am glad to say that their workers ashore have been faithful to them, and have used their influence in their behalf. As a result of the work which has been done in the past, the seamen enjoy as fine conditions as seamen in any part of the world enjoy. . It is the pride of Aus- ‘tralians that we -have not to say that we had to go to Great Britain for such legislation as has been passed in the interests of seamen. The Minister quoted Great Britain and New Zealand. Away with them! What do Ave care foi Great Britain or New Zealand? Australia stands on its own. It sets its own standards and does its own job. It is not to be dragged at the heels of any other country that does not see fit to adopt its standards. I may be told that I am a red-raggerI have been one, and I hope I shall never change until I get what I want. I am like the kiddy in the bath: I want the soap, and I won’t stop crying until I get it. Honorable members opposite laud the men who were responsible for the Navigation Act - Bob Guthrie, Bill Spence, and Billy Hughes- but if they had had the power at the time when these men did their work, they would have deported them. They were the men who were responsible for this act. When I asked the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) whom he would deport, he gave the name of a man who had rendered this great service to this community. The present Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn) would also have been deported had this legislation been in force when he organized the drivers’ strike in Adelaide about fifteen years ago. To-day he is the leader of political thought in his state. I always have a feeling of sympathy for seamen. Luckily, when I went over with the troops we lived fairly well on board, but w hen I came out from England in 1878 the conditions were vastly different. For years after we had landed in Australia I could not touch porridge, because the memory of the “ burgoo “ and molasses which they gave me on board was still with me. Even then we fared rather better than the sailors. Fortunately the Navigation Act lays down conditions which are more fitted for human beings than those existing before the legislation was passed. It provides that seamen shall no longer live in I he forecastle of a ship without, the opportunity to escape in the event of an accident. No longer have the men to get their food at the cook’s galley and sit about anywhere to eat it. In many other respects their health and comfort are considered. On certain vessels wireless communication has to be provided. The suspension of the coastal provisions of the act will do away with all this. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), who was a member of the Navigation Commission, omitted to .mention that one reason why the tourist traffic to Tasmania had fallen away, was that people objected to travel on the smaller vessels. They wanted to make the ‘.’ apple trip “ on the liners. The statement that the Navigation Act is damaging Tasmanian interests is not backed up by the evidence. As regards South Australia, the following statement 13 contained in the general resume of evidence on page 8 of the report signed by the honorable member for Forrest and <he ifr. Yates. honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) -
Tlie chief complaint, however, was made by the timber industry. As South Australia is not a timber-producing state to any appreciable extent, she requires to import a great proportion of her requirements, lt was stated that the principal hardwood timbers are obtained from Western Australia and Tasmania, and that in recent years considerable difficulty has been experienced in fulfilling orders.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) did not tell the House that the Patrick Shipping Company was able to cut into the Gulf trade of South Australia because shippers were being overcharged. Rates were reduced by 10 per cent., but eventually the Patrick Steamship Company had to get out. The evidence tendered in South Australia indicated that the grievance against the ect was not so great as in the more distant parts of the Commonwealth. It would appear, therefore, that the suspension of ‘he coastal provisions of the act would not mean a great deal to South Australia.
– The honorable member might tell the House why a manufacturer obtained timber from Noumea when suitable timber could have been obtained in Queensland.
– The honorable member knows quite well that there was not sufficient overseas shipping available.
– Probably that was the evidence of a shipping agent.
Friday, 11 July 1925
There is a remarkable increase in the figures, notwithstanding the statements of honorable members that Tasmania’s trade has been hampered by the operation of the Navigation Act. The honorable member for Bass stated that the tourist traffic of that state had been detrimentally affected by the provisions of the act. I call his attention to the following paragraph taken from the report: -
It is alleged that the Navigation Act has seriously injured and diminished the tourist traffic of Tasmania. The records are as follow: -
Since the advent of the Navigation Act the tourist traffic has greatly increased.
– The State Government spends a large amount of money on tourist traffic.
– I do not think that I actually said that.
– Those were strike years.
It cannot be argued, therefore, that theoperation of these sections has been detrimental to Tasmania from the tourist point, of view, for the evidence reveals that in, the two years following their proclamation nearly 18,000 more travellers went there than in the two post-war yearsbefore their proclamation, and nearly 5,000 more than in 1913 and 1914. I’ direct the attention of the honorablemember for Bass (Mr. Jackson) to a paragraph from the last annual report that the Hobart Chamber of Commerce issued1 prior to the preparation of this report. If any authority is able to gauge thevolume of the tourist traffic to Tasmania the Hobart Chamber of Commerce should’ be able to do so. The paragraph reads -
Last season provided a record . . . Business people of the city who deal direct with- the tourist traffic report a record business. Port Arthur is a good index, and the guides employed there to show visitors over the ruins dealt with larger numbers than ever before
That does not suggest stagnation. Surely the honorable member for Bass cannot vote for this measure on the ground that the operation of the coastal sections of the act have been detrimental to Tasmania.
– I shall vote for it only in order that its provisions may be used under strike conditions.
– I am with the honorable member there.
– That does not affect the present situation. Does the honorable member say that no ships should call at Albany f
– The provisions in the bill are for abnormal times, when no boats are running.
Mr-. Prowse.- Certainly.
– What should be done when the ships are held up?
– Notwithstanding that the House has been sitting almost continuously for 35 hours, I shall attempt to answer a few of the arguments that have been advanced by honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) told us a lot concerning the investigations by the Navigation Commission, but I draw attention to the fact that the powers conferred bv this bill will be used only in circumstances of . urgent necessity. Except in an emergency, no government would dare to propose (he suspension of those portions of the Navigation Act that relate to the coasting trade, and the bill provides that the Government shall present to Parliament each year a report stating the number of cases in which it has exercised this power and the reason for so doing. That requirement will certainly act as a brake upon any government which might be desirous of using these powers and dispensations other than as this Parliament intends. It is necessary that the Government of the day should have power to deal with abnormal circumstances. The present law is rather too stringent, and the bill will enable the Government to ensure the carrying on of essential services, so that communities in distant parts of the Commonwealth and on the islands controlled by Australia shall not be unduly penalized during an industrial upheaval. Whether or not any good will result from this measure I am not prepared to say, but I believe that its very presence on the statute-book will have an influence in maintaining essential services. The honorable member for Adelaide appeared to be obsessed with the idea, that, the bill is designed to abolish by underhand means those safeguards to the Australian mercantile marine that are contained in the Navigation Act. I do not believe that. This power of dispensation is not to be applied indiscriminately to all shipping that comes upon the coast ; it is to be limited to such ships or classes of ships as the Minister deems fit, and he will have to answer to Parliament for any transgression of the White Australia policy. No government would dare to grant exemptions to a company that employed black labour upon its vessels; or if any government did so dare, it would perish at the succeeding general election.
– Is the honorable member aware that the trade on the north-west coast is done by licensed ships?
– The honorable member heard what was said by the honorable member for Adelaide regarding the origin of the present trouble.
– The honorable member may have his own view, but there can be only one set of facts.
– Does the honorable member consider that the attitude of the seamen in the present dispute is unreasonable?
– Be ‘fair and admit that before any official of the union said ‘ ‘ the war is- on,” the Prime Minister had spoken of a fight to a finish.
– The honorable member might leave it at that now. Things look pretty good.
Declaration of Urgency.
Question - That the bill be considered an urgent bill - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Limitations of Debate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed - That the times allotted in connexion with the bill he as follows :- For the second-reading stage, until 3.30 a.m. on the 17t!i July, 1SI25; for the committee stage, until 6.15 a.m. on the 17th July; for Mie remaining stages, until 6.45 a.m. on the 17th July.
Question - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.As a representative of the state so vitally interested in the maintenance of the shipping services between Tasmania and the mainland, I naturally ask myself if the suspension of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act will be any guarantee of the continuity of those services. 1 cannot see how it will have that effect. I notice, however, according to yesterday morning’s papers, that there is a definite move for peace. The Age states -
Seamen’s Agreement with Labour Party. Oonah and Loongana Exempt.
It was definitely stated yesterday by Mr. C. O’Neill, assistant secretary of the Melbourne branch of the Seamen’s Union, that the Tasmanian steamers Loongana and Oonah would continue the mail service between Melbourne and Tasmania without interruption.
The Seamen’s Union, he said, had come to an agreement with the State Labour party (at present in power in Tasmanian Parliament) that Tasmania would not be put to inconvenience through the dispute as far as the seamen were concerned, but that the union would see that crews were provided for the Loongana and Oonah as long as those vessels ran under the old articles (granting award rates and conditions to seamen), which, in tlie case of both these vessels, do not expire until the end of August. The Oonah is due to leave for Burnie to-day. ,
This is a definite statement by an official of the union that was so severely condemned in the debate on the Immigration Bill. I was pleased that the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) struck a moderate note in his speech. He stated that the sorry financial plight of Tasmania was in some respects due to the frequency of shipping strikes.. I agree with him to a certain extent. Shipping disputes, for some years past, have been instrumental in disturbing the financial position and the trade of Tasmania, but they have not entirely been the fault of the seamen.
– On the same lines as the railways?
– How would the honorable member get rid of the seamen if they became objectionable?
– The honorable member knows that the Australian shipowners oppose the exemption of Tasmania from the operation of the Navigation Act.
– The recumbent and somnolent forms of honorable members opposite provide eloquent testimony to their callous disregard of their legislative duties.
– In the debate upon this bill, and its- immediate predecessor, I have been’ interested to observe the innate -nd ingrained conservatism of honorable members of the Labour party. They appear to be so satisfied with the existing legislation in relation to both immigration and navigation as to think that no improvements of it can be made and that no recognition should be given to changed conditions. Like the ark of the covenant, these statutes are to be sacred, and no finger may be laid upon them. The altitude of those honorable members calls to mind the declaration of the barons to King John, Nolumus leges Angliae mutari - :” We do not wish the laws of England to be changed.” Nor do honorable members opposite want the industrial laws of Australia to be changed. In regard to immigration, they are content to adhere to existing law and procedure, and the Navigation Act is to remain untouched though the heavens fall and the earth rock. Such a degree of conservatism suggests that there is nothing for this Parliament to do. But the Governmen is merely recognizing the facts and necessities of the case when it requires that there shall be a certain degree of flexibility in legislation to meet changes in circumstances, and, particularly, emergencies of a national character. This bill only proposes to give the Government power to cope with new and emergent conditions during the existence of special circumstances. The responsibility of deciding how and for what period of time these special provisions shall operate, must be accepted by the Government. These powers are designed and required to be used only in circumstances of emergency, and Parliament is being asked to grant them in the interests of the community as a whole. It is obvious from the very nature of the bill that it suits the interests of neither party to the impending shipping dispute. It must be as unpalatable to the ship-owners as it is to the members of the Seamen’s Union. The suggestion that it was inspired in any way by the representatives of the Australian shipping companies is ludicrous.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: Clause 1 agreed to. Clause 2 -
This act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation after the King’s approval thereto has been proclaimed in the Commonwealth.
Mr BLAKELEY (Darling) [3.38 a.m.l. - This clause deals with the commencement of the act, and I desire to say something as to whether it .should commence at all. Honorable members have witnessed during the last few hours yet another indication of the extraordinary mentality of those who compose the Government of the Commonwealth.
– Desperation !
– I direct attention to the state of the committee. - [Quorum formed.)
– This clause is quite unnecessary and very unwise, because, if passed, it will have a disastrous effect. The bill is a blow at the trade unions of Australia. For that reason, if for no other, honorable members on this- side of the committee are prepared to fight it. every inch of the way. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) would have us to believe that the Government has no wish to interfere with trade unions at all. But the bill is undoubtedly the thin end of the wedge to introduce cheap coloured labour on the coastal boats of Australia. We know that repeated requests have been made for the repeal or amendment of the Navigation Act, and the Government now, under cover of an industrial dispute, is proposing to amend the Act. If the Prime Minister had any courage at all he would take the initiative and call a round-table conference, bringing the seamen and shipowners together with a view to settling this dispute. But he prefers to take no action other than to tell the seamen to go back to the Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister is not big enough for his job. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) showed wonderful restraint the other day when he moved the adjournment of the House to appeal to the Prime Minister, even at that belated hour, to call a conference of the representatives of the employers and employees ; but it was of no avail. I firmly believe that had a conference been called, it would have culminated in a satisfactory settlement: of the dispute. The Prime Minister should be above party. The trouble is that the Government has behind it the wealth)- shipping interests of Australia They supply the sinews of war at election time, so they naturally dictate the Government’s policy. Honorable gentlemen opposite are mere puppets in the hand* of the moneyed interests of this country.
– And sweet reasonableness !
– Almost as dangerous as motoring!
– Sir Henry Barwell does.
– He is”the strong man of Liberalism.”
– He has the courage to express his opinions.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mann). - The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I rise on this, the first opportunity I have had since the bill was introduced, to make a few observations on its farreaching provisions. Every true Australian, when he learns the . significance of this bill, will view it with serious concern and grave apprehension. May I be permitted to protest against the conditions in which honorable members are compelled by the Government to consider it? This House has now been sitting continuously for 40 hours, and I and other honorable members have been deprived of the rest and relief that is our due. Supporters of the Government are not seriously troubled about this bill ; they merely turn over in their slumbers while honorable members on this side exercise constant vigilance. We believe that the passing of this bill will be inimical to the best interests of our country and prejudicial to the welfare of its citizens. During the 40 hours that we have been sitting we have passed a bill that is probably more far reaching, industrially, than any otherbill ever brought before this Parliament. The present bill is hardly less important. It was introduced before the suspension of the sitting at dinner time last night, and we are required within a round of the clock to pass it through all its stages. I know that in the district I represent feelings of indignation and resentment rise iu the minds of the people at the way in which we are required to do our duties in Parliament. It is impossible to give the bill the consideration that it deserves in the time allowed by the Government. I endeavoured during the second -reading debate to urge the Government to withdraw the bill, but instead the Government applied the guillotine, which works with terrible precision in preventing honorable members from expressing their opinions. The Navigation Act conferred upon those Australian citizens who go down to the sea in ships a protection that was very necessary, and it also endeavoured to safeguard the lives of those who travel as passengers on Australian ships. If there is any interference with the act many of chose cherished safeguards may be removed. It is distressing to think of the evil conditions of employment that obtained in the mercantile marine years ago - conditions which this Government apparently desires to revive-. Our experience during the last 40 hours proves that no policy is too. reactionary to be adopted by this Government. It is prepared to set back the clock of time to a period when the workers enjoyed no security in regard to wages or conditions of living. Honorable members on this side would be lacking in their duty if they did not protest against the action of the Government in meddling with legislation which secures to Australian workmen better conditions than are enjoyed in any other part of the world. As the representative of a constituency which includes a very important port, 1 know the circumstances in which seafaring men work, and though their wages and working hours represent a big improvement upon the conditions that obtained a few years ago, there is yet need for a considerable further advance. Instead of lowering the safeguards, and thus giving to unscrupulous ship-owners opportunities to interfere with existing wages and conditions, we should be endeavouring to raise the present standards. On two visits to Papua, and one to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, I saw the conditions under which labour is employed upon vessels there. [Quorum formed.] I believe those conditions would be introduced on the coast of the mainland if the law permitted the shipowners to introduce them. In the islands kanaka labour is employed on vessels at from 5s. to -15s. per month with rations. No proper accommodation is provided for these black seamen; they are required to sleep on the hatch or deck, and their diet is of the meanest and crudest kind, consisting usually of boiled rice, supplemented occasionally by a little fish or tinned meat. By the acceptance of this bill we are encouraging ship-owners to endeavour to introduce into the coasting trade of the mainland the same, conditions as obtain in the islands. The very thought of such a possibility is revolting. I am sure that if the people had an opportunity to do so they would show their unqualified objection to the provisions of this bill. Honorable members on this side have endeavoured to draw attention to the menace it contains. There is a possibility that by reason of the granting of interstate exemptions to vessels registered in foreign ports Asiatic and Hindu labour will be introduced in the Australian trade. That would endanger the maintenance of the standards set up by our White Australia policy. The Government, in introducing this measure, has- indicated a desire to break down that policy. The passage of this legislation will afford those controlling the mercantile marine of Australia an opportunity for the employment of a class of labour which will be a serious, menace to it. Within the narrow limits of the time allowed me, I make my strongest protest against the action of the Government in introducing this bill. I trust that’ the committee will reject the clause. Honorable members who support it must answer to their constituents for what they do.
– The debate on this bill has been by no means edifying. Honorable members opposite have imputed motives to the Government for which they know there is not justification. We listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) endeavouring, in a frantic effort, to place the blame for the unfortunate position in the shipping industry upon the Government. The facts do not justify his attack, and the public realizes this well. Any one who has followed the course of events - and no. one has followed it with greater interest and anxiety than the. Leader of the Opposition - must be aware that the present position is not the result of precipitate action. We know that in December last there was every possibility of such a situation arising as that with which we are now confronted. The Prime Minister and his colleagues, in dealing with this matter, have shown a degree of patience which I do not. think I could have shown. They have avoided any action which might possibly precipitate a general strike or lead to a condition of affairs which every rightthinking person of this community, would deplore. In December last the men directing the actions of the Seamen’s Union and the transport unions were conducting their affairs in such a way as would have justified the deregistration of those unions. The Prime Minister and his colleagues were urged to take drastic . action at that time, but they stayed their hands and made use of every possible means to avoid the introduction of the drastic legislation which they have been forced to introduce at the present time,. !l, and others, held the view that the patience shown by the Government, in the effort to have these difficulties settled, would be in vain. We knew the men who were fomenting the trouble, and that they were bound to go on in the way they had chosen. The Leader of the Opposition tells us now that the leaders of the industrial movement in Australia are doing their best to bring about a settlement of the trouble. I am prepared to. believe that they are, because they realize now, when it is too late, that they have put a match to a powder magazine, and that destruction must befall this country unless something is done to settle the existing trouble. They have realized its seriousness too late. They have egged on the men responsible for the present condition of affairs, and the representatives of the men in this Parliament have done nothing but try to make out that they are justified in the action they are taking at the pre sent time.
– I call attention to the state of . the. committee. - Quorum formed.’]
– I regret to intervene, Mr. Chairman, but, I submit that the honorable member’s remarks have no connection whatever with the bill before the committee.
– I am loath to intervene, Mr. Chairman, but I submit that the document from which the honorable member is reading, is not relevant to the clause under discussion.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I am not concerned with the document from which the honorable member is quoting. I have already ruled that his remarks are in order, but I ask him to speak more directly to the clause.
– I ask that the disorderly statement of the honorable member for Macquarie be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Macquarie said that I was wasting the time of the House. I object to his statement, and ask for its unconditional withdrawal.
– I am resuming my seat, but I wish to point out that water and navigation are related subjects.
– On a point of order-
– The honorable member cannot get away with it like that. I drew your attention, sir, to an objectionable remark which was made by the honorable member for Macquarie, and which I ask to be withdrawn.
– That has disposed of that matter. I desire to ask now on what ground you, sir, rule that my dissent to your ruling is not in order?
– I still do not agree with your ruling, sir.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANThe honorable member is out of order.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Then I shall name the honorable member.
– Will the honorable member restrain his language. I do not think that it is within your rights, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to rule out of order a motion of dissent respectfully aud properly worded. The Standing Orders provide that you, sir, are in duty bound to accept a dissent from your ruling, and to let the committee decide whether it is valid.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN,I have ruled that the objection raised to my riding by the honorable member for Darling is out of order, and I insist upon that decision being observed.
– On a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I desire to draw your attention to Standing Order No. 228, which reads -
If any objection is taken to a ruling or decision of the Chairman of Committees, such objection shall be stated at once in writing, and may forthwith be decided by the committee; and the proceedings . shall then be resumed where they were interrupted. “ May,” of course, means “ shall,” as the Attorney-General will agree. I claim that you, sir, should place my motion of dissent before the committee for decision.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member has a definite and orderly objection in writing I shall submit it to the committee.
– I wish to make a request of you, sir, and I shall couch it in as respectful language as possible. I wish you to send- for Mr. Speaker in order that he may direct you as to your duty. I am reluctant to allow you to misuse your powers.
– I shall try to meet your wishes, sir. I wish, now, to dissent from your ruling that the honorable member for Macquarie was in order in discussing under clause 2 the constitution of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Darling has lodged, in writing, an objection to the ruling of the Chair which appears to me to be in order, and I shall submit it to the committee in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– In order to facilitate the business of the committee I withdraw my objection.
– I rise to a point of order. I question your ruling that the honorable member for Macquarie has the right to continue his remarks from the point at which they were interrupted. It is remarkable that, in consequence of our drawing attention to the fact that he was breaking the rules of debate, he is to have ten minutes added to his time for discussing the clause.
– I rise to a point of order. The standing order that you read applies to ordinary debates, but in my opinion you have failed to recognize that we are now subject to the provisions m the standing order known as the “ guillotine rule,” which rigidly limits debate. A Certain time has been fixed by the Government in which the consideration of this bill shall be concluded. I submit that when we are operating under the guillotine provision the ordinary rules of debate do not apply.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.In my opinion the general Standing Orders for the conduct of business and maintenance of proper order in the committee must apply even when the guillotine provision is in operation. The honorable member for Macquarie may proceed with his remarks.
– I had carefully prepared some notes with strict regard to their relevancy to the clause before the Chair, and in the hope that I should be able to contribute something useful to this discussion. I have been disappointed to find that the undue discursiveness of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) has wasted a great deal of time, and that his belligerent manner has created acrimony in the committee and disturbed- the proceedings in a way that is not creditable to him and those who support him in his untoward conduct.
– To the whole of them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If I hear the honorable member for Batman make any remarks that are unparliamentary or offensive I shall call upon him to withdraw them.
Question - That the proposed words be added (Mr. Brennan’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived.
Question - That the remainder of the bill be agreed to and that the Bill be reported without amendments - put. Tlie committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment:
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I should like to ask whether I would be in order in moving for the recommittal of the bill, with a view to submitting an amendment to alter its title?
– I move -
That the bill be recommitted with a view to altering the title to read, “ A bill to <ncourage the employment of black labour.”
In view of the debate which has taken place on the bill, the Government can have no objection to my motion. This is a bill to encourage the employment of black labour on ships, and that being so, its object should be disclosed by its title. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) might save time by indicating his acceptance of my proposal. The bill will have farreaching effects, and I have no doubt that the shipping companies will desire to know what they may do under it. They should be informed by the title chosen for the measure that they will be at liberty under it to employ black labour. The principle of the Navigation Act is to observe the White Australia policy in the shipping industry, but this bill will so alter that act that it will defeat that policy. If the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) will undertake to accept the amendment of the title which I suggest, I shall sit down.
– Would the honorable member like an explanation?
– What about my amendment, Mr. Speaker ?
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . Ayes.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the’ bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
Bill returned from, the Senate without amendment.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
– I move
That the bill be now read a second time.
I thank honorable members for permitting me to move, at this stage, the second reading of this bill. I am doing so to avoid the necessity of sitting late again to-day. The bill is not contentious, and its -purpose is to re-enact a principle which was unanimously decided upon by this House three or four years ago. The necessity was then seen for the constitution of a board of appeal in connexion with the Income Tax Assessment Act, to review the decision of the Commissioner of Taxation on certain questions of fact. This board of appeal was asked for by the taxpayers generally throughout the Commonwealth, and it was given to them because their request was considered to be fair and just. The principal purpose of this bill is to reconstitute the Income Tax Board of Appeal, which Parliament understood it had created effectively by the Income Tax Assessment Act 1921, and continued by the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922, and at the same time to put beyond question the validity of some clauses of the Income Tax Assessment Act which contained provisions regarding the board of appeal. The only other matter dealt with in the bill is the placing of cooperative societies on the same basis for taxation as applied under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922, that basis having. been materially altered by the Income Tax Assessment Act 1923, which caused all companies to be taxed on the whole of their profits, irrespective of the amount distributed to members or shareholders. Honorable members will recollect that “the design of Parliament, in bringing a board of appeal into existence, was to enable taxpayers to test the correctness of- the commissioner’s decisions which the acts previously made conclusive, so far as they related to findings of fact. For instance, under section 17, where any trading stock of a business is sold, the consideration for the sale which is attributable to the trading stock is to be determined by the commissioner, and the amount so determined is to be deemed to be the price paid by the purchaser for trading stock. Under section 21, where a company has not distributed to its shareholders in any year at least two-thirds of its taxable income, the commissioner is to determine whether a further sum could reasonably have been distributed to the members. Under section 23 e deductions for depreciation are to be allowed to such extent as the commissioner thinks just and reasonable. Under section 28 (1) when any business which is carried on in Australia is controlled principally by persons resident out of Australia, ana it appears to the commissioner that the business produces either no taxable income or less than, the ordinary taxable income which might be expected from that business, then the person carrying on the business in Australia is to be assessable and chargeable with income tax on such percentage of the total receipts, whether cash or credit, of the business as the commissioner in his judgment thinks proper. The power thus reposed in the commissioner was held by the court not to allow of an appeal, so far as it is exercised in determining a question of fact, and obviously this was a very extensive authority to delegate to any officer. Accordingly Parliament resolved to erect boards of appeal, which should be independent, and in regard to each of the sections above mentioned, and indeed with respect to any conclusion of fact on which the act directed the commissioner to determine, it was expressly provided that a taxpayer, who is dissatisfied with the decision of the commissioner, may require Wm to refer his case to a board of appeal, and that the commissioner is to refer the case. These provisions were clearly for the benefit of the taxpayer as being a relief against the use of an arbitrary discretion in fixing taxable liability. The act then provided in section 41 and following sections that there shall be a board or boards of appeal, each board to consist of a chairman, and two other members appointed by the Governor in Council, and holding office for seven years. Under section 50 (4) a taxpayer who is dissatisfied with the decision of the commissioner may, within a time limit, in writing, request the commissioner to treat his objection as an appeal, and to forward it, as required by the taxpayer, either to the High Court or the Supreme Court of a state, where the objection raises questions of law only, or to the High Court or a Supreme Court, or a board of appeal, where the objection raises questions of fact.
– To review assessments?
The provisions of this bill dealing with the procedure to be followed in bringing assessments before the board of review for review, and the rights and privileges of taxpayers and the department, have been drafted so as to preserve the substance of the position in this regard created by the existing law in the case of .the board of appeal. The provisions relating to the board of review are expressed separately from those relating to the courts. Under the existing law these provisions were expressed together. It is considered that the judgment of the High Court in the appeal of the British Imperial Oil Company Limited clearly indicates the necessity for the separation provided for in the bill. The bill contains the necessary provisions for validating all past action by a dissatisfied taxpayer, by the Commissioner of Taxation, and by Dr. Earle Page. the board of appeal, in dealing with and giving decisions upon cases which were referred to the board of appeal. Clause 18 is designed to give effect to the suggestions contained in judgments of some of the members of the High Court to restore rights of appeal which taxpayers thought they possessed when they requested the Commissioner of Taxation to refer their objections to the board of appeal. In this connexion the bill also provides the right of approach to the board of review to those taxpayers who may have appealed to. the court only because the court’s judgment of 9th April, 1925, deprived them of the board of appeal. These persons will be permitted to remove their cases from the court’s lists and send them to the board of review to be dealt with on the same terms and conditions as will apply to any new cases which may arise in the future. The bill also provides for the resumption of suspended action in cases in which the Commissioner or the taxpayer may have appealed to the High Court against a decision by the invalid board of appeal. There are two such cases. It will be noticed that clauses 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the bill remove from sections 17, 21, 23 and 28 of the principal act, the sub-sections which previously entitled a dissatisfied taxpayer who had been assessed under those sections, to have his case referred to the board of appeal. Owing to the manner in which the bill has been prepared, these sub-sections are no longer necessary. In future the taxpayer will have the right to object to any assessment, and to go to the board of review or to the court. If he has objected to any decision which the act leaves to the discretion of the Commissioner, an’ appeal to the court would probably be unsuccessful, because the court . has previously refused to substitute its discretion in such cases for that of the Commissioner. The court would not interfere unless it were satisfied that the Commissioner had improperly dealt with the case. The taxpayer will, however, be able to carry his objection in such a’ case to the board of review, and secure a revision of the assessment if the board’s opinion of the case differs from that of the Commissioner. The board’s decision then takes the place of the Commissioner’s ruling. In all cases which may be dealt with by the board of review, either the taxpayer or the Commissioner may carry the questions at issue to tlie High Court if that court considers that a question of law is involved. If a question of law, is not involved, the decision of the board of review becomes final and binding on the taxpayer and the Commissioner. The amendments to sections 17, 21, 23 and Z8 of the net made by clauses 2, 4, 5 and 6 are. bv clause 20, made retrospective to the 18th October, 1922, the date of the commencement of the principal act. This course is necessary in order that it may be quite clear to the High Court that Parliament at all times intended that the paragraphs being omitted from sections 17, 21. 23 and 2S were not intended to render the balance of the sections invalid. Consequential upon the retrospective operation of the amendments to sections .17, 21, 23 mid 23 of the principal act, it lias been considered necessary by the Parliamentary Draftsman to formally validate all determinations, decisions and rulings of the Commissioner given under’ the principal act. This validation applies only to determinations, decisions and rulings which would have been effective determinations, decisions or rulings under the appropriate sections of the principal act if those sections did not contain any provision for reference of the determinations, decisions or rulings to the board of appeal. This course has .been considered desirable because of the cases now pending before the High Court, in which taxpayers are contending that determinations “by the Commissioner of Taxation under section 21 of the act are invalid because the board of appeal is invalid, and that as the section contains a right of reference to. the board of appeal, therefore the whole section is invalid. There is good reason for thinking that if the High Court is called upon to decide upon the validity of the section it will, in the circumstances,, decide that it is invalid. By this validation, administrative tend subsequent legislative difficulties will be avoided. It was necessary that I should introduce this bill as earl, as possible, iri order that the public generally might know the intentions of the Government with regard to the position
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I moveThat tlie House at its rising adjourn until n dato und hour fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall bo notified by HeSpeaker to each member by telegram or letter.
No definite date has been fixed on which’ honorable members shall reassemble. It will be realized that in view of the events which have taken place during the last few days, it may be necessary to call Parliament together at any time.
Motion (by Mr. Bruck) agreed to - That leave of absence bc given to every member, of the House of Representatives from the termination of this sitting of the House till the date of its next sitting.
Period of Recess - Sugar Position in Western Australia- Extra Service on Transcontinental Railway - Tariff on Timber - Rights of Members.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– In my last few words before the House adjourns, I wish to express the hope that it will not be necessary to call honorable members together to deal with any emergency situation. If the Prime Minister had done as I desired him to do I believe the dispute would have been settled.
.- I regret that at lim hour I feel it necessary to draw the attention of the Government to the position of “Western Australia in consequence o£ the shipping dispute. The supply of sugar there has already fallen very low, and will be completely exhausted within a few days unless it is supplemented. I have been asked to request a definite assurance from the Government that consideration will be given to the position. I have received telegrams from manufacturers, to tho effect that if supplies cannot be obtained rapidly they will have to close down their works within ten days, which will mean that more than 300 employees will be thrown out of work. When 1 consulted the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Prnl-to.il) on I he matter, lie informed me that extra supplies had gone forward, but the latest- telegrams I have received from the manufacturers concerned make it quite clear that if the supplies were sent forward they have been distributed. I urge the Government to do something immediately, so that these manufacturers shall not bo left- without sugar. If sugar cannot bc obtained from the eastern states they request, that, an arrangement shall be made by which it may be obtained from Java or elsewhere. In the event of the industrial situation developing in such a way that transportation difficulties increase, I wish the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) to run extra trains on the transcontinental railway. That was done on a former occasion, and I trust that it will be done again if the necessity should arise.
– On the Minister for Trade and Customs give those concerned any idea whether it is intended, in the tariff proposals to be submitted to Parliament shortly, to protect the Australian timber industry? I asb the question in all sincerity, and iu the hope that the Minister will be able, to satisfy the extreme anxiety of those sawmillers and their employees who are still in the industry. Both the employers and the employees have been for some time past, and are still, in desperate straits.
– J_ desire to direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, and the attention of the people of this. country, to the way in which the rights of honorable members have been curtailed during the recent debates in this House, particularly during the last 40 hours. In the ordinary course of events tho House would meet to-day at 11 a.m. to discuss matters of public importance, and would sit until the departure of the interstate trains in tho afternoon. In order to stifle criticism by honorable members, legislation has been passed by the application of the closure and the guillotine. The object of the Government has been to prevent honorable members, from expressing their opinions, and to drive a hellish, black torpedo into the navigation laws of our country. I hope that in tha future honorable members will so realize the necessity for protecting their interests that they will not allow the Government to escape criticism by repeating t.hes*. tactics.
– Regarding the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), I received a week ago a reassuring telegram about sugar supplies iu Western Australia. Arising out of that, a telegram was dispatched to the sugar board in Queensland, which is the central distributing authority for the Commonwealth. As soon as I receive a reply, which I am hopeful will be reassuring, I shall communicate with the honorable member. I can only tell the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe) that the inquiry into the timber industry has been a very long and many-sided one. The Tariff Board report on the industry has not yet reached me, and at that I am not surprised, because there are 3., 200 pages of evidence. As soon as tho report is received by me I shall give it immediate attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 7.35 b.oi. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 July 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250715_reps_9_110/>.