9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to make a personal explanation regarding- certain statements made yesterday in’ the course of the debate on the Customs Bill. One honorable member accused me of having levelled improper charges against officers of the Trade and Customs Department, and ofhaving, in that connexion, referred to the department as an Augean stable. A perusal of theHansard proof of my speech confirms my assertion at the time that my remarks had reference, not to the officers of the department,but to the intricate mass of legislation and regulations by which the imposition of Customs duties is governed. In this morning’s newspaper., I read a statement to the effect that, after speaking yesterday, I retired from the chamber in a cowardly attempt to escape criticism. My speech concluded about 6.20 p.m., and Ileft the chamher to keepan important engagement which I had previously made for 6.30 p.m., in order that it mightcoincide with the suspension of the sitting for dinner. My absence from the chamber was not due to any desire to avoid criticism ; if I had chosen not to listen 1o the remarks of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) it would certainly not ha-e been because of cowardice.
– Some time ago, the Minister for Trade andCustoms said that the film censors would observe closely the advertisements displayed by picture theatre proprietors. I ask the Minister to send an officer to the Melba Theatre, in Bourke-street, to see a poster showing several naked women and over-dressed men lolling on an artist’s palette, the brush being wielded by the devil. Will the Minister instruct his officers to inquire of the management what anticipations of the film it wishes the public to form from such an advertisement?
– Many difficulties have been experienced in connexion with the control of advertising relating to picture films. Some months ago I entered intoa gentleman’s arrangement” with those engaged in the industry; but if an advertisement of the nature described by the honorable member for Adelaide has been displayed, that arrangement has not been honoured, and some other measures will have to be adopted in order to carry out what I believe to be the desire of all honorable members. I shall certainly investigate the complaint which the honorable member has made.
– Recently, adeputation introduced by me asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to grant preference to children’s story books produced by Australian writers and artists. The Minister asked to be supplied with certain facts and figures; but, as no statistics on the subject are kept by the department, or any other authority, 1 ask the Minister Whether he will sympathetically consider the request of the deputation, and so give encouragement to Australian writers and artists.
– My recollection of the interview was that nobody interested, not even the publishers, knew very much about the subject. The deputation promised to submit at least some skeleton information so that I might investigate its request, and until I know something definite regarding the publication of such books and the desires of those engaged in the industry I can do nothing. The department cannot engage in fishing expeditions, especially at this juncture.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs explain why printed copies of the Tariff Board’s report arenotavailable? An amending Customs Bill is before the House, and I should like to know whether the Minister or the department has advised theGovernment Printer that the board’s report is not required by honorable members yet.
– I am in no way responsible for the delay in the tabling of the printed report, but I shall inquire why it is not available, and endeavour to expedite its production.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House of the Teasons for delaying the introduction of the amending tariff schedule?
– There are many reasons for the delay, but I do not think that it would be in the public interest to divulge them.
– I have received from the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “the present serious position of those engaged in the dried fruits industry, and the attitude of the Government in relation thereto.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– Last year the position of the dried fruit industry was brought prominently before this Parliament. Owing to causes beyond the control of the growers, namely, the sudden increase in the export proportion of the fruit produced, caused largely by the repatriation policy of State Governments, and the adverse drying season which coincided with low prices in the London market due to the competition of Greek and Turkish fruits, the industry was in a precarious position. As a result of inquiries made by the Ministry this Parliament passed two relief measures - the Dried Fruit Advances Act, and the Dried Fruits Export Control Act. The act relating to advances certainly saved the industry for the time being, for I doubt whether the majority of the growers would have been able to carry on without the assistance it gave. Unfortunately, the advances only applied to the 1924 crop, and the operation of the act ceased on the 31st December. The growers were then forced to approach packing houses and firms engaged in the selling of dried fruits in order to obtain assistance to pick and pack their products and get them ready for the market. There is also an Export Guarantee Act, which provides for advances to a maximum of SO per cent, of the value of primary produce. Unfortunately, that advance has been of very little use to the growers, because the money is not made available until the fruit is boxed and the shipping documents are completed. The position to-day is that those engaged in the industry are in a very serious financial position. On Friday last I introduced to the Prime Minister a depu tation of returned soldiers engaged in the industry. It was an interstate deputation representing soldier settlers of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. Unfortunately, the South Australian delegate was unable to be present. The deputation placed before the Prime Minister the serious position of the industry, and made certain requests, one of which was that the Government should guarantee the industry a bounty sufficient to pay the difference between the cost of the production of export fruit and the price received. The reason that the growers did not arbitrarily ask for a £5 or £10 bounty Was because they did not desire the Government to give a bounty of, say, £10 a ton, if they were receiving £5 a ton over and above the cost of production. The Prime Minister in his reply definitely refused to entertain the proposal, giving certain reasons for his action, one of which was that it was impossible to fairly assess the basis upon which the cost of production should be ascertained. In other words, the difficulty to fix what would be a fair cost of production seemed to be insuperable. As the Ministry had already refused to adopt this course for the dairying and other primary industries, it could not logically, and would not, do so for the dried-fruit industry. He also stated, if my recollection is correct, that the Ministry was so determined in its attitude, that if this course was the only way to save the industry, he feared that it must languish.
– That is not what I said. I shall state exactly in my reply what I did say.
– I should be the last to endeavour to convey a wrong impression, or to misrepresent the right honorable gentleman, but I am giving what I considered the impression conveyed to me. and which certainly seemed to be conveyed to the deputation itself. I find in this morning’s Argus the following paragraph : -
District growers are concerned regarding the reply by Mr. Bruce to the deputation. They do not believe that Mr. Bruce has had a favorable report concerning the industry from the Federal Dried Fruit Export Control Board. Certainly prices for sultanas overseas leave n slight margin of profit, but there is a loss on lexias, and a heavy loss on currants. Nearly 100 horticulturists have abandoned their blocks and left the district, and many others are contemplating similar action. More than 1,000 horticulturists are in a most uncomfortable position financially, and the situation will be even more intense if the repayment of advances is insisted upon.
These advances were made under the Dried Fruits Advances Act passed by this House last year. They total in all, £202,000, according to a return which was furnished to me yesterday in reply to a question.
– Those are advances to individual growers ?
– Yes, and they are subject to repayment. Section 10 of the act, which specifically relates to repayments, reads -
The Prime Minister objected to the policy of endeavouring to ascertain the cost of production, but section 10 of the act itself, relating to repayments, refers to the cost of production, and provides that it shall be assessedby the Minister. The growers, in effect, ask that the cost of production shall be ascertained by an impartial tribunal. A decision by such a body would be much more accurate than an arbitrary assessment by the Minister. The Prime Minister told the deputation that, as far as the repayment of advances made last year was concerned, it was proposed, according to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, not to insist upon them being repaid this year, but that they should be repaid half in 1926 and half in 1927. The Ministry seems to consider that this method of repayment will improve the financial difficulties of the growers, but I contend that it will do nothing of the kind. The present financial position of the grower is due to the fact that, although the 1925 crop was produced with the assistance of the Government, only a very small proportion of it has been sold, and the proceeds are not yet available. The growers have now to produce the 1926 crop. If a half of last year’s advance is to be repaid out of the 1926 crop, it is already mortgaged to that extent. The banks and the ordinary financial institutions that usually make advances to the growers regard that repayment obligation as a mortgage, and have closed right down on the industry. The growers of that portion of the 1925 crop which is still unsold will have to find means to produce the 1926 crop, and many of them cannot do it. Sub-section 2 of section 10 of the act actually says that the advance shall be repayable only after the cost of production and marketing of dried fruits have been provided for. Some of the figures which the Prime Minister quoted when refusing the request of the deputation were supplied by the Export Control Board, upon which, as the Prime Minister reminded the deputation, the growers have a majority of representation. It will place the representatives of the growers on the board in a very awkward position if they are to be made sponsors for a statement or figures from which it appears that the industry is prosperous and does not need assistance.
– The only figure for which the Export Control Board is responsible is the price that is being realized for this season’s crop. The rest of the figures were supplied by the departments. I want that to be clearly understood.
– I am glad to have that explanation, because otherwise the representatives of the growers upon the board would be in an invidious position. The board has done excellent work. It has improved the packing conditions. The marketing abroad has been controlled, and there is not that senseless competition that formerly existed between firms and others in selling Australian dried fruits overseas. Undoubtedly the position has improved immeasurably as a result of the operations of the board. I do not for one moment wish to belittle anything that the Government has done. I am sure that the position will improve, and I am more confident than ever before that this industry can be successfully carried on in the future.
– What brought it to its serious position?
– I have not timethis morning to go into that question. Eighty per cent. of our dried fruits is sold upon the world’s markets. Our chief competitors are the Turks and Greeks, who grow their fruits under cheap Mediterranean conditions. The growers here have no complaint about the price received for the 20 per cent. of the fruit sold upon the Australian market. The difficulty is with the export fruit. The conditions imposed upon the growers by legislative action provide that they shall pay the ruling Australian wage for the production, not only of the 20 per cent. of fruit’ for local consumption, but also of the 80 per cent. exported. I do not wish for one moment to unduly stress the wages received by the working men in this industry, because I am well aware that the Customs taxation forces up the cost of living. I am sure that honorable members desire to be fair to this and other industries. But I would point out to them that our laws provide that the growers shall pay to the employees in this industry a wage of £4 8s. a week for ploughing, pruning or picking, no matter whether the fruit is for local consumption or export. The working hours are limited to eight a day. This places the growers in an impossible position. The Prime Minister himself, in a speech delivered at the Sydney Show in April, 1923, made some observations which go to the root of the problem. He said -
The objective of the Government is the securing of markets for our primary and secondary productions. It is obviously inequitable, if the basis of our whole policy is to assist our producers to the markets they require, that we should render that help to those who can find what they want in the home markets, but should do nothing to assist those who have to find their outlet overseas, and who are unquestionably handicapped in doing so by the assistance we are giving to their more fortunate fellow-producers.
Surely it is equitalble that to these industries which are benefiting the nation by increasing our national wealth by the export of their surplus production, a measure of assistance should be given equivalent to that which is rendered to those who are supplying the requirements of the home market.
The Government, after the fullest consideration of the whole question, has come to the conclusion that action in this direction should be taken.
The Tariff Board recently made inquiry into the price of farm implements, and reported that the Home market was generally the producers’ main market, except for certain products. The board named three - wool, dried fruits, and it said, perhaps, wheat. But there was no “ perhaps “ about woo] and dried fruits. Now, the wool-growers are able to compete in the markets of the world, and therefore, on the authority of the Tariff Board, there is but one industry that stands out as an Australian industry coming within the category mentioned by the Prime Minister. It is argued on behalf of the Government that it has already assisted this industry, but I point out that it has given no direct financial assistance other than in a form which makes it mandatory that the money advanced shall be repaid. The whole of the expenses of the Export Control Board are met by a levy upon the industry itself, and the irony of it is that the chief competitor of an industry in which many of our returned soldiers are engaged is their late enemy, the Turk. In addition to the representations made on behalf of the industry through- the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, a request that the Government appoint a tribunal to conduct an inquiry into the position of the industry, was made as a result of the resolutions of a conference of fruitgrowers’ representatives held at Mildura on the 2nd June last. The growers do not come as mendicants to the Government. They do not want anything tinfair, but they ask that an impartial tribunal be appointed to inquire into certain matters which I shall enumerate. The request was presented by me to the Prime Minister, and on the 15th June I received an acknowledgment of its receipt, but the Government did not reply to it until the other day. The motive that prompted the growers in making it is in keeping with the Prime Minister’s insistence on the efficiency of an industry before it will be helped. The resolutions of the conference were as follow: -
That this conference, composed of delegates from all the various organizations and associations in the Mildura, Merhein, and Red Cliffs districts, and therefore directly representing approximately two-thirds of the dried fruit produced within the Commonwealth, calls the attention of the Federal and State Governments to the serious condition of those engaged in the industry, and requests the immediate appointment of an impartial tribunal to fully investigate the condition of the industry, as it is affected by the following points: -
That in view of the low prices ruling for lexias, walthams, currants, and doradillos, the Federal Government is asked for a subsidy, on the lines indicated by Mr. Bruce in his speech at the Royal Show luncheon in Sydney last year, such subsidy to be at least sufficient to bring returns to growers up to the cost of production.
That in view of the urgent need of assistance to enable growers to carry on with the pruning and cultivation of their blocks for next season’s crop, the Federal Government is asked to provide an immediate advance to the extent of £10 per acre on all sultanas, currants, lexias, walthams, and doradillos.
The fruit-growers ask the Government to run a rule over them as individuals, and see if they are doing their work properly. Surely that is an obviously fair proposal. In summarizing the matter, I may say that the fruit-growers lay down the principle enunciated b’y the Prime Minister that, if they are to observe Australian rates of wages and conditions in producing dried fruits for export, they should have the same guarantee as is given to the workers employed in the secondary industries - the guarantee of a living wage. If we lay down the principle that the employees in secondary industries, and also in the dried fruits industry, are entitled to a reasonable wage, surely it is equitable that the men behind the plough shall receive similar treatment. The Prime Minister admits, and has insisted, that we cannot he!” one industry and logically deny assistance to others. At the present time the freight to Great Britain on dried fruits is £4. 7s. 6d. a ton, although the vessels on which this commodity is conveyed to the Home markets carry cargoes of flour side by side with dried fruits, which occupy no more space than flour, for from 25s. to 30s. a ton. It would not be unreasonable if the Government gave the growers a bounty or subsidy to assist them’ to compete with their products in the markets of the world. Another point that the fruit-growers stress is that, even on the admission of the Prime Minister himself, the currant crop is unprofitable. Isit unreasonable, there fore, to ask for a bounty on currants and lexias? These, in short, are the requests that the industry makes ; and, as one who represents a considerable number of the growers, and who realizes that what they ask is reasonable and just, I have placed their views before the House. The Prime Minister, having regard to the speech he made in Sydney in 1923, when I was a ‘member of the Government, cannot let this industry go to the wall. It is idle for him to talk about what the Control Board has done, and the improved price obtained for sultanas. It is useless for him to refer to this blessing and that blessing that the- Government has showered upon the industry. The fact is that to-day the growers cannot carry on. The financial institutions have dropped them. They must observe Australian wages and conditions, and they must continue to produce dried fruits. They cannot, like the growers of wheat or oats, switch off to another crop. They cannot neglect the trees and vines that stand in their orchards.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I move that the honorable member be granted an extension of time.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– I moved for an extension of time. I do not know whether you heard me, Mr. Speaker?
– The honorable member for Wakefield is addressing the House. An extension of time can be granted only after the suspension of the Standing Orders, and it is too late to move for that now.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), and congratulate him on his clear and concise exposition of the case of the growers of dried fruits. The industry is not in an entirely hopeless position, but for the moment it is passing through an exceedingly dark period. No more worthy men than these growers could be found. They have had a thorough gruelling, and while they are very appreciative of the consideration shown by the Government during the past year or so, what has been done will be entirely ineffective unless the growers are assisted to remain on their blocks until their conditions improve. The ratification of the trade treaty between Australia and Canada will considerably assist the industry, for, particularly with respect to lexias and currants, Australian trade with Canada is likely to be increased. I think that there is a better opening for these particular commodities in Canada than there will be, possibly, in the “United Kingdom for a considerable time. The growers ask that the Government shall, by an investigation, review what has already been done, and. thus take every opportunity to satisfy itself as to what further assistance is necessary to tide the industryover this dark period. A big Customs revenue is derived from the excise duties on distilled spirits, and some of the officials of the department have a good knowledge of the position in the industry. Indeed there was an investigation with which one of the principal Customs officials was associated, and, therefore, the Government already has in its possession much information on which it could base its calculations as 1o the nature and measure of the assistance needed. I can assure honorable members, from recent experience and investigation, that the men who are seeking assistance are of as fine a type as can be found anywhere in Australia. It is a common thing on all the settlements to see the wife doing the manual work in the garden so that the husband can go away and earn 10s. here, or £1 there, as opportunity offers. These blocks require all a man’s strength, and all the strength of his family, if he has one. The proposal is not to grant assistance to an industry that is impoverishing the Government, for this industry brings a lot of revenue to the Treasury in the form of excise on distilled spirits. When the excise duty was first imposed it was on the basis of 4d. a gallon, and the purpose of it was to cover the cost of inspection . It was later raised to 8d. a gallon, then to1s. a gallon, and finally, as a war impost, to 6s. a gallon. The assistance required by the industry can be drawn from the revenue obtained in that way. Another difficulty facing the industry is that the stocks in distilleries are very heavy, although the capacity of the distilleries has been enormously increased year by year. To market the produce it is necessary to pay excise in spot cash, and all the available funds of the societies are required for this purpose.
I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that he regarded the assistance given last year for the cultivation and realization of the crop, and the assistance required for marketing and distributing, as separate. I hope that he will agree to have another review of the industry made by his officials.
– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) moved this motion in a very fair way, without overstating the case. I can assure him that I fully appreciate the difficulties facing those engaged in the industry. The honorable member was a ministerial colleague of mine for some time while this question was under consideration, and I think he will endorse my remarks when I say that I have taken a keen interest in the development of the industry, and, as far as lay in my power, have done everything possible to ascertain the facts and to assist the industry in a way that will be to its permanent benefit. This industry is of great value to Australia, and its continuance should be assured by preserving it in its present period of crisis. I am confident that, if it can surmount the difficulties that now face it, a great future is ahead of it. I received a deputation, to which the honorable member has referred, on Friday last, and, reverting to what I then said, I now wish to remove the possibility of a misunderstanding. In replying to the deputation I quoted certain figures relating to the industry, and I also referred to the Export Control Board . I now wish to make it perfectly clear thai: the only figure for which the Export Control Board was responsible was that which gave the approximate result of this season’s sales in Great Britain. Other figures, relating to the cost of production or to anything else, were supplied by the department, and for them the Export Control Board shotild not be held responsible.
– And any deductions that the right honorable gentleman drew from those figures were entirely his own.
– Quite. The board is in no wayresponsible for what I said on that occasion. The deputation presented its case, and suggested one remedy, which was that the Government should guarantee the co3t of production to the growers. It was to that suggested remedy that I addressed myself. I still take the view that to guarantee the cost of production will not be a remedy if the object is the permanent establishment of this industry as one of the great industries of Australia. First., a calculation would have to be made to determine the cost of production, and the produce would have to be taken over by the Government and realized. If in the first year there was a loss, as against the cost of production, it would have to be met by the Government; and, if, in the following year, there was a profit, the indebtedness to the Government would have to be repaid. Thus those engaged in the industry would receive a fairly uniform return, amounting to the cost of production, and a margin over. Apart from the difficulty of ascertaining the cost of production, to apply that remedy would be opposed to the principles of the majority of the people of Australia, who do not believe in having everything stereotyped and uniform’. The adoption of that policy would eliminate the chief incentive to advancement. To reduce the rewards of the industry to a dead-level would strike at the root of all those things that have made for the development of this country in the past, and will, I am certain, make for its development in the future. In saying that, I do not lose sight of the point of view of the man in the industry, who feels the heavy burden on his shoulders. I have, on several occasions, spoken of the difficulties of those engaged in the industry. The man who sees difficulties all-round him, and is struggling for an existence, naturally flies to the most obvious remedy that suggests itself to him; but the remedy that was proposed to me would not, in the end, be in the best interests, either of the producers or of Australia. A duty rests upon the Government not to attempt to gain momentary popularity by subscribing to every idea put forward. It should, instead, try to assist people along the lines that will benefit them most. I do not purpose to repeat the arguments I have used relating to the proposal to guarantee the cost of production. I see insurmountable difficulties in applying the principle, even if one could subscribe to it. There is, first, the difficulty of determining the cost of production. Should it be on the basis of the most efficient, the medium, or the least efficient production? Not one of those three would suit every one, or would be a complete solution of the problem. If the guarantee is given on the basis of the most efficient production, it will not remove the difficulties of many of the producers. On the other hand, if it is on the basis of the least efficient production, it will not be just or equitable to the consuming public of this country. I have made it clear on many occasions that I cannot accept this principle, and that I see’ insuperable difficulties in the way of putting it into practice. In this industry, however, the proposal for guaranteeing the cost of production .can. be put aside as unnecessary, for 1 do not believe that the remedy is to be found inthat way. I hold that the difficulties of this industry can be solved, and I do not share the pessimistic view that it must inevitably go out of existence; or that, unless the Government guarantees the cost of production, the producer will never be able to recoup himself in the oversea markets. The producer can recoup himself, and we are moving rapidly to the time when he will do so. The question was first considered by the Go- ‘vernment about fifteen months ago, and since then has been a burning and difficult one. It was then proposed, the industry being in difficulties, that the Government should pay a bounty not exceeding £30 per ton. I refused to accept that suggestion, because I said it would not solve the problem, and some honorable members may remember that for saying so I was very much criticized by those interested in the industry. But no one who reviews the events of the past fifteen months can. truthfully say that the state of the industry would have been improved if the proposal had been adopted. The Government, instead of paying a bounty, made a thorough investigation, and discovered that the cause of the trouble was the system of financing the industry; and it went to the assistance of the industry by financing the crop under the Dried Fruits Advances Act passed by this Parliament. Concurrently, legislation was passed for controlling the export trade and improving marketing conditions. No one can now deny that that action tided the industry over ite difficulties, or that the Export Control Board has done much to revolutionize marketing methods aud dispose of the produce of the’ industry oversea. It is expected that the “board will be able to effect greater economies and confer even greater benefits on the producer in the future. Surely that is a better position than that the industry should have remained without any control over the sales of fruit ? Unquestionably, the position is better today than it would have been had the Government yielded to the expressed desire for the payment of a bounty.
– The granting of a bounty would not have precluded the appointment of an export control board.
– In their search for a solution of their difficulties, those engaged in the industry proposed that a Bounty should be given. The appointment of the export control board, which has proved of great advantage to the industry during the last twelve months, was the result of the Government’s investigation. The advances to which the honorable member has referred were made with the object of solving the problem which had arisen in connexion with the finances of the fruit-growing industry. It had previously been financed by -.merchants .and agents, the advances ^-gradually .becoming greater, until those making them became apprehensive. How.ever, as the alluring picture of British preference was continually before their eyes, they continued to assist the industry, but when that preference was refused - I shall say nothing at present about the reason for this, although I hold strong views on the matter - those who had advanced money to the industry decided that, in fairness to themselves, they could not continue to do so. The Government then came to the assistance of the industry, and made advances over the period of six months necessary foi the production of the next crop. Those advances amounted to £9 per ton, in ..-he case of sultanas, and to 30s. per ton in respect of currants. Probably for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth the Crown stood behind individuals who subsequently made advances; but the action was justified because the -difficulty of financing the industry was overcome. The honorable member stated that the industry is again in trouble financially, and suggested that the advances already made should not be repaid im mediately, but that they should be extended for a further period of two years. I point out, however, that, even if they are not to be repaid now, but are to be a charge on the next season’s crop, it will again be impossible to obtain finance’ for the industry through the ordinary channels. This difficulty the Government is prepared to meet, as it desires to give the fruit industry every opportunity to firmly establish itself. The Government is prepared to again guarantee any advances which may be made to assist the industry.
– Does not the question of the cost of production come in here ? Is not the unascertained cost of production the measure of the liablity of the grower ?
– The Minister has the power to determine that. He has to give a ruling as to what, in hip opinion, is a fair figure at which to place the cost of production. The honorable member stated, further, that, even if granted another two years in which to pay, some of the fruit-growers would still be unable to meet their obligations.
– The great majority of them are in that position.
– The Government is prepared to consider that aspect of the question also, and to appoint a board to consider all these matters. If necessary, the Government will extend to four years the period for the repayment of the advances. It will go further, and do what is now done in connexion with the Income Tax Act. Where it is shown that hardship would be inflicted by insisting on the repayment of the advances, the Government is prepared to exempt such individuals from the necessity of making repayment. That is a fair proposal, and embodies the intention of the original act, that these advances were not to be regarded as a bounty to the industry. While it will meet all cases of hardship that might exist, it will not allow a man who is well able to repay the advance to evade his obligations. As to the position of the industry at the present time, I point out that the only matter with which I dealt, when replying to the deputation, was the suggestion that the cost of production should be guaranteed. That principle I could not, and do not, accept. The honorable member has submitted also other matters affecting the industry generally.
– The deputation asked, “If you wish to save the industry can you see any other way of saving it than by guaranteeing the cost of production?”
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I regard this question as one of great importance, and commend the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) for having brought it before the House. It is well known that, in recent years, we have placed a large number of returned soldiers and others on the land, especially in the fruit-growing industry, and that we have incurred heavy liabilities in consequence. Recently, we decided to forego £10,000,000 of the indebtedness of the states in connexion with land settlement. As we have borrowed money, and are still borrowing money, in an endeavour to place settlers on the land, we have the right, as the custodians of the public purse, to take any action that we deem necessary to protect the people of Australia in regard to the liabilities that have been incurred, to say nothing of the men who, unfortunately, are unable to earn a livelihood. In this connexion it is our first duty to see that Australian conditions are maintained in this industry. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) said that the wages paid to employees by fruit-growers amounted to £4 8s. for a week of 48 hours. Similar conditions obtain in other industries in Australia, and I see no reason why they should not apply to fruit-growing. Nevertheless, we should do all that is possible to ensure that the men who pay those wages shall market their produce profitably. That is the crux of the whole question. How are we to obtain markets? The preference granted by Great Britain may be of assistance-
– It is.
– I am glad to hear that. But there is still a great margin between the price received by the fruitgrowers and that at which the fruit is sold in London.
– And in Australia.
– When I was in London last year, the Australian Natives Association gave a dinner in my honour.
On that occasion I pointed out that, whereas Australian fruit was then being sold in London at £52 per ton, the grower in Australia received less than £20 per ton. There is room for an investigation) into the reasons for that difference. The costs should be reduced.
– The costs have been reduced by about £10 per ton; that reduction includes the British preference.
– If investigations were made further reductions might be shown to be possible. It is probable that the freight and handling charges are too high. :
– We are certainly paying too much freight.
– I see no reason why the Government should not consent to the honorable member’s request, and appoint a competent tribunal to consider these matters. Surely, there is nothing to hide?
– That the growers have . nothing to hide is shown by their request for the appointment of a tribunal.
– Some means of reducing the cost “might be found if such a body were appointed. After I had spoken in London in the manner I haveindicated, one of the Commonwealth: officials in London, who appeared to be much perturbed by my remarks, informed me that no undue charges were levied, but in view of the reductions mentioned by the honorable member for Wimmera I doubt the accuracy of the official’s statement.
– A good deal of the reduction is due to the preference.
– There are other reductions. As the price for fruit is about £20 per ton, and the cost of production about £30 per ton, there is a loss of £10 per ton to the grower. I doubt whether the increased preference will cover that loss, as I understand that the average production of sultanas is from one ton to one and a half tons per acre.
– The average is about, one ton to the acre.
– In that case, there is not much margin left to the growerafter he has been provided with the necessities of life. Surely honorable members do not contend that the fruit-growers should get no more than a bare living! Every man is entitled to make provision for the inevitable “ rainy day.” The honorable member’s motion asks - “ Can the cost of production on the block be reduced? If so, in what way?” That question is worthy of investigation. Again, he asks, “ Can the methods of processing and packing for market be improved, and costs reduced?” We have here a request by the fruit-growers themselves to be shown, if possible, how they can reduce their costs. The proposition of the honorable member is a legitimate one, and why the Government refuses to acquiesce in it is beyond my comprehension. The Government should help those who are prepared to help themselves. I cannot see how these men can be expected to repay their advances if facilities for obtaining a satisfactory return for their products are not provided. They are like a man purchasing his home. If he has not a sufficient income he cannot continue to pay his instalments. We should not be content to place men on the land, borrowing money for the purpose, and’ even at great cost bringing out migrants, unless we can secure a market for their produce. If the local market is not sufficient, we must look abroad for a means of disposing of the fruit of their labours. Will any one contend that we can successfully compete in the, world’s market with the products of countries where cheap coloured labour is employed ? It is impossible for us to do so. When we realize that 80 per cent. of the fruit grown in Australia must be exported, and that, unless it can be sold at a profit, the fruit-growers are faced with failure, it is evident that actionmust be taken immediately to inquire into matters affecting the industry.
– What is the good of an immigration scheme when thousands of good Australians cannot make a living ?
– We on this side of the House have said that for years. While it is admitted that we have large areas to be populated, we should not lose sight of the main essential - the necessity of finding adequate markets for our produce. Yet no efforts in this direction are being made. Not only in Victoria, but in New South Wales and South Australia also, there are hundreds of returned soldiers engaged in the fruit-growing indus try who are unable to make a livelihood. Is it fair that they should be placed in that position? Have we reached the stage when their undoubted claims may be overlooked ? By placingso many returned men on the land to produce large additional quantities of fruit, we have placed the original fruit-growers at a disadvantage, and in their interests, also, efforts must be made to provide an adequate market. Otherwise there must be failure all round. I can quote the case of a relative of my own, whose stalwart sons worked hard on one of these settlement blocks. They put £1,000 of their own into it, and they have lost the lot. It was not because they did not work their block properly. The Government inspector said that their’s was the best kept orchard in the settlement. All the reports of it were favorable; but they lost their all in their efforts to make good on a settlement block. I am more than surprised that the Prime Minister should offer any objection to the request that has been made. These people are asking only foran inquiry.
– They are not asking enough.
– They know that if they are given the inquiry for which they ask the tribunal appointed will investigate the whole of the business, and when its report is presented to this House we shall be in a position to decide what it is necessary to do to preserve the industry. It has been clearly pointed out by the Tariff Board that this is one of the industries that is practically at the mercy of overseas markets. Other products of the country, such as wheat, flour, meat, and wool, can be profitably marketed abroad, because they are not produced in sufficient quantities in other countries; but dried fruits are produced largely in other countries with cheap labour, and we cannot hope to compete on even terms with them. We cannot ask those engaged in this industry to accept a lower standard of living than that enjoyed by workers in other industries in Australia. The people engaged in the fruit-growing industry are entitled to a fair return for their efforts in developing this country. It is up to this Parliament to concede their request for an inquiry into their position. It does not commit the Government to anything but the appointment of a tribunal to make the inquiry. No honorable member will say that the request is not a reasonable one, yet the Government hesitates to accede to it. Committees have been appointed to investigate matters of very much less importance to the Commonwealth. We ‘ must encourage every industry in order to develop the country, and absorb population. The producers want an inquiry to discover - ‘
In what way can the present unsatisfactory system of financing the industry, and making advance payments to growers, be improved?
They ask for recommendations to show how their conditions can be improved. The requests made show that those connected with the Fruit-growers Association are men of intelligence who do not ask for the impossible. They ask, further -
Are there any other directions in which “water efficiency can be secured in the industry, and the cost of production decreased?
And also whether, in view of the low price ruling for dried fruits, a subsidy should be granted. All these are matters for inquiry by a committee. The producers do not directly ask for a subsidy; but they feel that their case is so good that it should be fully inquired into.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to support what has been said by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), with regard to the urgent necessity of doing something to extricate the unfortunate producers of dried fruits from the position in which they find themselves. I know a good deal about the matter, because I represent an electorate in which a large number of returned soldiers are engaged in this industry. Some men are already leaving their farms and losing the money they have put into them, because they cannot make a living under existing conditions. Unless something is done for the relief of the industry, I feel that many more will leave their farms and will lose what they have expended upon them. I am sure that honorable members do not desire that such a state of affairs should be brought about.
– What is the cause of their present position, and how are they to get out of it?
– The principal cause is that the price of their products is so low. and the cost of production so high, that they cannot make a living in the industry. The fruit-growers have to buy everything they require in the cultivation of their orchards in a protected market, and must sell the bulk of their product at world’s parity in the markets of the world. I recognize that the settled policy of Australia is protection. I have been a protectionist all my life, but I want protection for the primary producer, who is not getting it, and cannot get it under the existing tariff. I realize the difficulty pointed out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) of fixing the cost of production for this or any other product. But I agree also with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) that this difficulty is not insurmountable. If a minimum cost of production cannot be fixed there are other ways in which the government could help the fruit-growers. One way is by paying a bounty on exported fruit. Another way would be to permit the machinery, tools, and implements required to carry on the industry, to be admitted free of duty. If a bounty were paid to those engaged in Australia, in the manufacture of these tools, implements, and machinery, that would put them in at least as good a position as they now occupy under the tariff. I do not wish to interfere with the settled policy of the country. We need local manufacturing industries, and it would be well to extend their operations to the principal country towns, but I do say that the primary producers, and particularly the growers of dried fruits, who are in the worst position of all, are entitled to something like the measure of protection which is enjoyed by those engaged in the secondary industries. .The Prime Minister has said that if this request were acceded to, and the cost of production guaranteed to the growers of fruit, the effect would be to check enterprise, and to increase prices. I do not agree with that opinion. The fixing of a minimum price would not interfere with the price which those products would eventually realize. I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that he thinks there is a great future for this industry. I hope he is right; hut, in the meantime, something must be done to keep the industry going. If nothing is done for the relief of the industry, a large number of returned soldiers, to whom we owe a debt, will have to go out of it. I trust that that will not occur.
Mr. McnEILL (Wannon) 12.27.- I support the request of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart). It is a reasonable and sensible request. The Prime Minister has expressed the opinion that there is a great future before the fruit industry of this country. I also believe that; but if the people engaged in it are to succeed, they must have fair treatment meted out to them. In the fruit areas represented by the honorable member for Wimmera - Mildura and Red Cliffs - there are produced some of the finest fruits in the world. I question whether the sultanas produced there can be equalled in any other part of this country, or in California.
– Yes, at Renmark.
– Renmark is in the same district. We have in this country hundreds of thousands of acres of cheap land admirably adapted to fruit production. We are prepared to spend money in millions to bring immigrants to this country to settle on the land. The only way in which to settle them successfully is to put them on fruit areas where the land is cheap. The reason why we have had recently to wipe off millions in the soldier settlement areas is that high prices were paid for the land in boom times. If the same course is pursued in the purchase of land for immigrants, similar failures will follow. In the areas along the Murray, from Swan Hill down to Renmark and along the River Darling, there are millions of acres of cheap land admirably adapted for fruit-growing. Western Australia is a great state, as the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) will know.
– It is capable of carrying many millions of people.
– Yes, and the land there is cheap. If we have thousands of people engaged in fruitgrowing, their operations will give employment to many more. Thousands of men and women will be engaged in the harvesting season in picking the fruit, the revenue will be in creased from railway freights and Customs dues, and the progress of the country will be promoted. When we find that those engaged in the fruit-growing industry are suffering, we should endeavour to find out the cause. The growers have asked for their position to be investigated, in order to find, if possible, -a means of averting losses such as they are at present incurring. The Government would be acting wisely if it granted their request. The fruit-grower, like the wool-grower and the butter producer, cannot pass on additional costs; he must accept the price ruling in the market. This Parliament should endeavour to thoroughly organize the markets for primary products. In the organization of markets Australia is very backward, but a good start has been made in connexion with both dairy produce and dried fruits. The producer of dried fruits has to pay the Australian rates of wages, top prices for cases, and the usual railway freights, and there is no organization in connexion with the disposal of his product when it reaches the city. The merchants take charge of the fruit and distribute it to retailers in the city and suburbs, and ultimately the consumer pays from 4d. to 6d. per lb. for apples for which the grower has received Id. per lb. That iniquity is due to the absence of orderly marketing. We must take action to protect the growers against exploitation. We must arrange for distributing agencies in the city and overseas, and utilize the Commonwealth steamers in order to reduce freights on both fruit and butter. I believe that the Commonwealth Shipping Line could carry fruit at lower freights than are being charged to-day. The proposal made by the honorable member for Wimmera has no party significance, and it should be accepted by the Government. Certainly no harm would come from an inquiry, and much good might result. The finding of such a body might assist to keep on the land men who have spent many years in production, thus creating wealth and employment.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has brought the dried fruits industry under the notice of the House this morning, because it is worth while to get an expression of opinion regarding the future of the industry. I am not at all pessimistic in that regard. I believe that the outlook is bright, and that the industry can be placed upon a sound and firm footing. Australia, with its wonderful climate, abundance of sunlight and warmth, and the nature of its rainfall, can produce large quantities of fruit, equal in quality to the products of any other part of the world. Its quality at the present time is at least as good as that of American fruits produced under similar economic conditions. New hope has been given to the growers since the Prime Minister, when he was in England to attend the Imperial conference, quickened the conscience of the British people in regard to the wonderful possibilities of the dried fruits industry as a means of settling a large population along the Murray River and other irrigated and irrigable land.
– Did the Prime Minister stimulate the appetites of the British people?
– He did so to such an extent that the British Parliament has granted a substantial measure of preference which will be of great benefit to the industry. However, tie future of the industry will not be assured if we adopt unwise methods. The proposal that the Government should guarantee for five years the cost of production would practically mean complete government control of the industry, and that would ultimately result in disaster. Already in connexion with the canned fruits pool we have had experience of the disastrous effect of such a policy.For three years the Government handled the whole of the canned fruits, and each year the business got into a worse muddle and resulted in bigger losses. The canners declared that if the Government relinquished control the growers would have to grub out their trees, but the Government insisted that the proper policy was for the industry to organize and control its own business. That has been done, and the industry is now flourishing in a way which, three years ago, was not thought possible. Similarly, the future of the dried fruits industry must be worked out by those engaged in it. The Government has shown its readiness to do everything possible to help the producers to help themselves. During the last two years it has fought strenuously to secure a substantial measure of preference in the markets overseas. It has been successful in gaining from the British Government a preference of £7 per ton on sultanas, and that preference would have been £10 per ton if the Opposition in this Parliament had come to our assistance two years ago.
– Do not tell those lies here.
Mr. SPEAKER (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt). Order ! The honorable member for Angas must not use the word “lies” in the chamber, and I ask him to immediately withdraw it.
– The same statements have been made outside, and they are untrue; but if you say I must withdraw, I shall do so.
– An unparliamentary remark may not be withdrawn in that way. There is a proper form of parliamentary expression, which the honorable member must observe. I ask for an unreserved withdrawal.
– How am I to say it - “ I unreservedly withdraw “ ?
– That is the way to say it.
– Will standing up do, or must I kneel?
– Order 1
– The Government has just concluded a treaty with Canada by which Australian dried fruits will receive a preference of £14 per ton, which will enable them to compete in the Canadian market with the products of any other countries. Thus, we have won two considerable advantages, which will help the industry enormously. In addition, the Government has induced Parliament to pass measures which give effect to everything for which the honorable member for Wimmera has asked in regard to the export trade. The honorable member must recognize the enormous benefit conferred upon the industry by the operations of the Export Control Board. Of the seven points which the fruit-growers’ conference desires investigated by an impartial tribunal, three axe already being dealt with satisfactorily By the board which was brought into existence under the act passed by this Parliament last year, the majority of members of which represent the producers. Those three points are -
Those three questions are being very closely examined by the board, and there could be no more competent body for such an investigation.
– Has the board power to go fully into those questions?
– It is making full inquiry into the methods cf marketing and handling and transport charges, with a view to securing, if possible, reductions in freight. The Butter Export Control Board is already producing results of that nature. The other matters which the fruit-growers desire investigated are essentially matters of State concern, namely -
The reports of men like Mr. Cattanach, Chairman of the Irrigation Board in Victoria, show that these are matters which intimately concern the States. The Prime Minister intended to say, when his speech was interrupted, that the Government is already approaching the State Governments with a view to the discussion and investigation of these matters, which, though primarily of State concern, might be influenced by Commonwealth action, to see if there is any possibility of reducing the charges in connexion with irrigation and transport.
– Does that mean that the Commonwealth Government accedes to the request for the appointment of a tribunal ?
– It is obvious that any tribunal that investigates these matters must be representative of both the Commonwealth and the States. I have already pointed out that four of the seven points raised by the fruitgrowers concern the States rather than the Commonwealth, but the latter is interested in transport charges, marketing, selling, and finance. The other matters are essentially matters for State administration, regulation, and control. The Government is at present in negotiation with State Governments to ascertain whether a satisfactory board can be appointed, and whether a satisfactory method of investigation can be adopted. This industry is to-day probably more flourishing than it has been for three years, but it is hampered by an accumulation of past troubles. If the growers had nothing else but this year’s difficulties to overcome, it is quite possible that they would not be now making a request to the Government; especially as it has done much to improve their position. The trouble goes back to the land boom, and increased interest since the war. The cost of settling on the land has increased, and taxes and water charges have also increased. There has been a steady increase of charges, which have finally accumulated and become too great for the industry to bear. What is necessary is to find some permanent means of dealing with the accumulations of debt. This is as important almost as the guaranteeing of the cost of production. The Government attempt last year to assist the industry by means of the Dried Fruits Advances Act was a step in the right direction. The Prime Minister stated this morning that the repayment of the advances due next year would be discussed and considered when the time arrived for settlement . The Government is prepared to consider any constructive suggestion to help the industry. There is a good outlook for the industry, and I believe that it will be able to carry on if the control is within the industry. But if the cost of production were to be guaranteed by the Government, and government control prevailed, the industry would eventually languish.
.- It is rather remarkable to hear two ministerial statements on a motion to adjourn the
House. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has asked for bread and has been offered a stone. In other words, the Prime Minister has administered the pill but omitted to put sugar on it, and the Treasurer, instead of putting sugar on the pill, has coated it with bitter aloes. That sums up the position. I agree in the main with the honorable member for Wimmera, but not with his statement about the undesirability of stressing the position of returned soldiers in the dried fruits industry.
– I meant “ over stress.”
– I shall risk over-stressing it. If we make claims on the Government for assistance for one industry, we must show that it has special circumstances as compared with those of other industries, otherwise the Government will meet any request for assistance with the statement that if it assists the dried fruits industry it will have to do the same thing for every other primary industry. I shall give six reasons to show that the circumstances of this industry are different from’ the bulk of other primary industries, and, therefore, it deserves special consideration. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and other honorable members, asked how the present position had developed. The statement was made by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) that prices had fallen, and the honorable member for Wimmera interjected that production costs had increased. Those statements are all correct. I want to emphasize, first of all, the reason why returned soldiers were settled along the ‘ River Murray. One of the principal reasons was to prevent any interference with the big landed interests in South Australia and Victoria. It seemed to be an easy way of repatriating returned soldiers without subdividing large estates for mixed-farming purposes. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) shakes his head. I refer him to a measure that was passed by the South Australian House of Assembly for the subdivision of large estates. When it reached the Upper House it was mutilated beyond recognition, and was in consequence useless. I reiterate that one of the reasons that returned soldiers were placed upon the River Murray vas to prevent conflict with the big landed and pastoral interests of this country.
– Order ! Strictly speaking, that subject does not relate to the motion.
– My second point is that into the dried fruits industry was pushed a higher percentage of returned soldiers than into any other industry, in proportion to the number of primary producers engaged in it.
– The dried-fruits industry is one of the best industries to enter.
– I hope that the Treasurer will prove a true prophet. This industry above all others deserves more consideration from the Government than is at present given to it. My third point is that the result of pushing the soldiers into the dried fruits industry has been to cause increased production in an industry that has to export the bulk of its product. For this reason the Government should accede to the request to guarantee the cost of production of the export quota. Dried fruits, except in the years 1918 to 1921, have always been exported at a loss. These are special circumstances, and the dried fruits industry should, therefore, receive special treatment at the hands of the Government. My fourth point was advanced by the honorable member for Wimmera. He stated that the Tariff Board had. reported on this matter, and that there were two, perhaps three, of the primary industries of Australia that had to export a greater quantity of produce than was consumed locally. He mentioned wool and dried fruits, and on behalf of the latter he made his request for assistance. The fifth reason is that the Commonwealth Govern T ment has already realized its general responsibilities regarding the repatriation and assisting of returned soldiers. First of all, it has reduced the amount of interest to be paid by the States to the Commonwealth for five years by 2£ per cent. It has written off £10,000,000 of loans made to the States to help in the repatriation of soldiers. That is a general recognition of the responsibility of the Commonwealth. This industry is peculiarly affected by the repatriation scheme, and as there has been a recognition of the general responsibilities of the Government, there should also be a recognition of its special responsibilities. The sixth point is that the Government should take this industry into special consideration on the lines of an insurance. In this industry, in the Murray Waters scheme, and in the settlement of soldiers along that river, much government capital is involved. We have been told to-day that settlers are leaving their blocks, and that many of them are contemplating similar action. The honorable member for Wimmera has asked only for a tribunal to inquire into the position of the industry, but if the Government makes available the finances necessary to avert a crash upon the river Murray, its action will be a form of insurance to save some of the money that has been invested.
.- I am afraid that the time at my disposal is not sufficient for me to discuss fully the position of the dried fruits industry, and I should like to know whether the Government will permit an extension of the time for one hour. I shall move in that direction if the Government will agree to it. I believe that the Government have urgent business to place before the House this afternoon
– Before the Government considers that proposition, I should like, for the guidance of the House, to say that the only way in which such a request can be complied with is by a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders without notice, to carry which an absolute majority of the members of the House is necessary.
– In that case, I shall avail myself of what time remains to me. I hope that the Government will accede to the request to appoint a sound, solid tribunal, associated with more than one state, because there are many states concerned in the dried fruits industry. It is only right that a tribunal should be appointed to ascertain why this industry is in a serious position. It is one of which we have great hopes. The Commonwealth Government agreed to the expenditure of millions of pounds in damming the river Murray, in the firm belief that we should be able to place millions of people on its banks in the near future. It is essential that we should know as speedily as possible the cause of the depreciation of this industry, and what its possibilities are. This industry is capable of producing enormous wealth, and, with the advantages that have been given to it in the British and Canadian markets, it should progress rapidly in the future. There is no doubt that the cost of production in this country has been growing by leaps and bounds. The information was supplied to the Treasurer by the honorable member for Wimmera that the cost of production in this industry since 1912 has increased from £21 to £37. We should know the conditions of our primary industries, and the sooner we get that information the better. I hope that the Government will agree to the request to appoint a tribunal as speedily as pos- . sible. A good, solid, and effective tribunal would report to Parliament and to the country the real position of the dried fruits industry.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 119.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Employees as Parliamentary Candidates.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether it is necessary for postal officials, who are candidates at the federal elections, to resign from the Service; or would they be given permission, on application, to contest an election without resigning?
– This matter is governed by section 44 of the Constitution, and section 69 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Section 44 provides, inter alia, that any person who holds any office of profit under the Crown shall be incapable of being chosen, or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. Section 69 of the Electoral Act provides that, to entitle a person to be nominated, he must be qualified under the Constitution to be elected as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether any arrangement has been made by his department to admit, duty free, a shipment of canvas uppers for shoes?
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he give further and favorable consideration to the subject of the Commonwealth paying local government rates on federal properties situated within municipal areas?
– This question has been considered from time to time by various Governments. On each ocoasion, and, indeed, quite recently, it has been decided to adhere to the policy followed from the inception of the Commonwealth of not paying municipal rates on federal properties.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will have prepared an alphabetical list (a) of all men enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force;(b) of all men who died on active service?
– The information is not yet available.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Question - That the message be taken into consideration in Committee of the Whole forthwith - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr.Bruce) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act toprovide for the appointment of peace officers ‘and for other purposes.
.- It is rather surprising that the Prime Minister should submit this motion without giving the slightest indication as to the object of the measure. This is Friday afternoon, and honorable members generally proceed to their trains at 4 o’clock; but the business on the noticepaper has been set aside for the purpose of dealing with some other matter. The Prime Minister has merely moved that an appropriation of revenue be made for certain purposes. Surely the committee is entitled to know what the Government’s intention is. What is the reason for the bill ? Are honorable members to be treated as if they were children rather than men occupying responsible positions? If the Prime Minister is endeavouring to bludgeon persons outside the House, he will find that he will not be permitted to treat honorable members similarly by the means he is now adopting. I have never before witnessed such a high-handed action during my occupancy of a seat in this chamber. I do not know whether honorable members opposite agree to the action that is being taken by the Government. Perhaps the whole matter was discussed and settled priorto their entrance into the chamber; but if they know what is in the mind of the Prime Minister, honorable members on this side have no such knowledge. It is an unprecedented course of action to depart from the business agenda at 2.30 p.m. on a Friday without giving the slightest information to the House as to the reason for it. Honorable members are being treated with the utmost contempt. Surely we are entitled to be shown the usual courtesy expected from the Leader of the Government, and to be told exactly why he is taking this action. Do honorable members opposite think that because they are aware of the Government’s intentions, which havebeen kept secret from the time it was determined to introduce this measure, honorable members of the Opposition were also in possession of the facts ? I appeal to honorable members opposite to say whether their Leader is acting fairly to honorable members on this side in refusing to state the reason for this motion. Why should honorable members on this side, without any knowledge of the facts, agree to an appropriation for a purpose of which they are ignorant? The time has arrived to object to this sort of procedure. On many occasions in the life of this Parliament honorable members on this side have asserted their right to full information, but on the present occasion they have not had a scintilla of information.
– The honorable member knows that it will be more convenient for me to give him the information on the second reading.
– To that statement the Opposition has every right to object. We want to know whether there is any justification for agreeing to the appropriation. Surely when the Government departs from the regular procedure of Parliament, and sets aside the business paper, the Leader of the House should inform honorable members, and the country generally, what he has in mind. I am not prepared to agree to the motion until I know something about it. Honorable members opposite may bebound to support their Leader, but they cannot justify his action. Members of the Opposition, as representing a large section of the people, have some rights. I have no official information regarding the purpose of the motion, and all I know about itis a word that was recently passed across the table. The purpose of this business has been kept secret so far as it was possible for the Government to keep it secret.
– It issomething like the days of the War Precautions Act.
– I sometimes wonder whether we have got past the days of the War Precautions Act, or have even passed the war period. Honorable members are being ignored in regard to a most important matter, and all we are told is that we shall get the information at a later stage. We are entitled to it at this stage. This action by the Government will probably mean honorable members missing their trains, and, unless it can be justified, should not be tolerated. I am prepared to do much to assist the Government while it carries on its business in a reasonable way. This party has given evidence of a similar willingness, but no one can say that we are being treated fairly now. Honorable members had anticipated that certain subjects would come up for discussion this afternoon, and had prepared themselves accordingly, but they now find that other business is thrust upon them. Honorable members opposite will probably vote without one word of explanation being given. It is not sufficient that honorable members opposite should meet upstairs, or elsewhere, and, having reached a decision regarding the business of the country, should solemnly take their places in the chamber, and, without giving any information to honorable members on this side, expect us to agree to a proposal about which we know nothing. I am speaking without the slightest knowledge of the Government’s intentions, and surely if any one should know those intentions it is the members of this committee. Why should the information be withhelduntil a certain stage has been reached ? I do not know whether any serious calamity has overtaken this country in the last five or six hours, but if it has, it is unknown to me.
– The honorable member is very “ green.”
– I assume that the honorable member knows something, and that being so, I ask him whether he does not think that honorable members on this side, and the people, should be allowed to know it also.
– The honorable member does know.
– I do not know.
– We have knowledge that the Government is wearing a worried look, but beyond that we know nothing.
– I have no doubt that the Government will wear a more worried look shortly. I would not raise any objection if I knew the purpose of the motion. If we did not protest against these tactics we should be recreant to the trust imposed in us by the people who sent us here. One of our first duties is to safeguard the public purse.
– Will the honorable member ask the Prime Minister how much money he wants. We might collect it by individual contribution?
– I would rather see a collection in this house to defray the cost than place the burden on the country before I know what is proposed. The least the Prime Minister can ao is to tell the committee why he wants this money. Some honorable members want to go home to-day, and I have no wish to prevent them, but the procedure is unprecedented.
– It certainly is unprecedented. I cannot recall an instance during my long parliamentary experience when such procedure has been followed at this hour on a Friday afternoon. If it is a question of money, we still have the
Estimates on the table. No one can say that I am making this request for information in order to block business, because the bill will have to be discussed on its merits later. If the Prime Minister thinks it sufficient for members of his own party to know the nature of the business of the House, I differ from him. I have the recollection that when the Labour party was in power honorable members opposite expected that all the information on a subject about to be discussed should be made available to them. Labour governments always made that information available; but honorable members are now expected to accept blindly every proposal put forward, on the promise that it will be explained later.
– The honorable member’s chance will come.
– I do not know what will happen in the future, but the sooner we have a chance of finding out whether the people approve of this sort of thing the better. As that observation has produced a chorus of “ Hear, hear,” I suggest to the Prime Minister that he bring down a three months’ Supply Bill and, when that has been passed, we will go to the country on any question he likes, and allow the people to decide between us. I cannot put the position any clearer, but I repeat that this is not the proper way in which to conduct the business of the country. If honorable members opposite are men, they will accept my challenge; and we on this side are prepared to abide by the decision of the people.
– (Hon. F. W. Bamford). - The honorable gentleman is not discussing the question before the Chair.
– While my remarks may be wide of the motion, my challenge stands, and I hope that it will be accepted. I, for one, am not afraid of the result. The legislation of the last few weeks is not acceptable to the majority of the people of Australia. Honorable members who sit behind the Government may think that, because a few privileged people, with whom they come in contact, approve of the Government’s actions, their views represent the voice of the people. The only way in which to get the views of the people is through the ballot-box. I do not approve of the manner in which this matter is being rushed through, nor do I approve of some of the legislation recently passed by tbis Parliament. I believe that the people of Australia will resent it, and that this Government, when next its actions come up for review by the people, will go theway of all governments that have attempted to introduce coercive legislation. I am not afraid of the grand jury - the people of Australia. The Government has the support of influential newspapers throughout the Commonwealth ; in fact, the men behind the inkpot are ruling the country. The right honorable gentleman has not done justice to his party, to this House, or to the country.
– He cannot help it, as he is only a marionette.
– What right has the right honorable gentleman to expect us to acquiesce in his proposal? I remind him that neither of the parties forming the coalition has an absolute majority in this House, and it is evident that the Government has no fixed policy. Apparently, something of importance has happened during the last few hours, yet the House has no information concerning it.
– The honorable member should appreciate the Government’s action.
– Before the luncheon adjournment the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) to be good enough to resume his seat, in order that he might have an opportunity to speak. But he allowed the Government to coerce him. He did not attempt to press his suggestion for the extension of the adjournment debate, because to do so might have jeopardized the Government which he supports. Yet he says that we should appreciate the Government’s action. He is one of those members who have no opinion of their own, but unthinkingly follow where they are led. Such blind following as has been exhibited during the life of this Parliament by honorable members supporting the Government has no precedent in this Chamber. The business of the country has not been satisfactorily conducted by the present Government, yet some honorable members want to prolong the life of Parliament. I say that the sooner the voice of the people is heard the better. If the Prime Minister is not prepared to acccept my challenge, I hope that those honorable members who sit behind him and have just said “ Hear, hear,” will bring sufficient pressure to bear upon him to make him do so. Fancy a Minister asking a deliberative assembly to agree to a resolution in the absence of any information concerning it ! The Prime Minister is treating the representatives of the people as children. He seems to imagine that he has but to ask, and his request will be granted. I remind him that the Labour party in this House is as strong as any other party. The last Senate election was won by the Labour party by a big majority, and also seven additional seats in this House. Moreover, in five of the states of the Commonwealth, Labour governments are now in office. Yet, in spite of that evidence of the desire of the people, the Government has given members of this party no information whatever concerning the matter now before us. We are not prepared to accept that position without protest, and intend, so far as possible, to assert our rights in the interests of the people whom we represent. Had the Prime Minister made a brief explanatory statement, his request might have been granted before this; but we do not know what is in his mind, and we are not prepared to vote for something concerning which we have no information. If the action contemplated by the Government is justified, it will have the support of honorable members on this side. Were our positions reversed, the Labour party would not treat the Opposition as the Prime Minister is treating us. Such treatment would not be tolerated in a public meeting. It is only because of the Standing Orders that the Government has taken this course. If the Prime Minister is prepared to let us know now the purpose for which this money is required his action may clear the . atmosphere. I should be sorry if the Prime Minister’s obstinacy hangs up the business of the country over the week end, as there is no necessity for it.
– The honorable gentleman knows that I am pursuing the ordinary course, and the one most convenient to the House.
– That may be so in regard to honorable members on the other side, but the course adopted is not convenient to honorable members on this side.
– When did the. Leader of the Opposition first hear of this proposal ?
– I have not yet heard of it officially, but after I returned to the chamber, following the luncheon adjournment, the Prime Minister whispered across the table something about a police force.
– Did the Prime Minister not have the courtesy to intimate his intention to the Leader of the Opposition, either yesterday or this morning?
– I knew nothing about it until I came into the chamber this afternoon. Honorable members know what the Prime Minister has said since we assembled. Do they consider his explanation to be satisfactory ? I remind them that once we agree to this resolution, we have gone a certain distance towards approving of the action contemplated.
– Passing the resolution does not spend the money.
– It is a step towards the spending of the money, and, therefore, we want at this stage to know for what purpose the money is to be expended, and whether there is justification for the expenditure. Must we wait until a later stage, only to be told that we were caught napping?
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– I move -
That the question he now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to- put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Question - That the resolution be reported - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay
– I protest against this procedure. The Prime Minister solemnly assured the House that at a later stage he would make known the reason for the action he has taken, but that later stage has been reached, and he. has not vouchsafed one word of explanation.We are being treated with the utmost contempt.
– There has been no opportunity to give the information.
– The Prime Minister has the opportunity now.
– Not on the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman should tell the House why he desires the Standing Orders to be suspended.
– Cannot we deal with this business on Wednesday next?
– I do not know what the business is. If it is extremely urgent the Prime Minister should tell us so. In. the absence of any explanation of this course, we are justified in objecting to the suspension of the Standing Orders. The House is not being treated with fairness or courtesy.
– You will get your turn, and if you do not use the bludgeon then I shall have something to say.
– I do not know what may happen in the future, but I am concerned with what is happening now. The suspension of the Standing Orders should not be lightly agreed to ; it is warranted only in special circumstances. I cannot conceive that the Prime Minister would adopt this course unless there was some occasion for it, and what that occasion is we are entitled to know. Probably if the right honorable -gentleman gave the House brief reasons for this hurried legislation, there would be no objection to it. The refusal of a request by the Opposition for information is almost unprecedented, and I emphatically protest against the manner in which the Government is treating us.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– I move -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 14 ‘
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the resolution be adopted.
.- I am totally opposed to the report being adopted. We have been here since luncheon, and honorable members on this side are quite at a loss to know what all this business is about. We understand that the report relates to the appropriation of a certain sum of money for peace officers. Very naturally, as a man of peace, I am much interested in this proposal, but there is no information before the House of what is proposed to be done with the money, and worse than that, we have no information of how much money it is proposed to appropriate. Most of us were under the impression that we were living in normal times, that we were required to deal with the business set before us on the notice-paper, and that in the ordinary course on Friday afternoon we would be permitted to return to our homes, especially those of us who live at a distance. These hopes have been disappointed, and we are required to consider the adoption of a report dealing with the appropriation of an undefined sum of money for the appointment of peace officers. I wished at an earlier stage to raise the point that the motion was out of order on the ground that it should have defined the sum of money required. It may be that the sum of money to be appropriated will not be sufficient for my purpose as a man of peace, and it may be inadequate to meet the necessities of peace. If it were a war commitment I should probably be taking quite a different stand. If in order, I would point out that the members of the Government are undoubtedly deserving of a certain measure of public sympathy. They are the victims of circumstance, and the creatures of those who send them here and keep them here. They are moved to this extraordinary action by people and institutions outside who appear to be suffering from an inordinate itch to throw this country into great disorder.
– Order I should like to know what that subject has to do with the motion.
– I am in the same difficulty myself.
– Then I shall relieve the honorable member. I move -
That the question he now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the resolution be adopted - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That Mr. Bruce and Sir Littleton Groom do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. - put. The House divided:
Ayes . . . . . . 33
Noes . . . . . . 22
Majority . . . . 11
Ayes . . . . . . 37
Noes . . . . . . 22
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I can hear no debate on this motion. For the information of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) I shall read that part of the standing order which prevents it -
The following motions are not open to debate, shall be moved without argument or opinion offered, and shall be forthwith put from the Chair without amendment and a vote taken : -
A motion for the first reading of a bill.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The circumstances which have led to the introduction of this bill lie at the root of the good government of Australia. They affect not only the constitutional relations of the Commonwealth and the States, but also the fundamental principle upon which the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth are maintained. When federation was consummated, the intention, as laid down in the Constitution, was that the Commonwealth and the States should function side by side, co-operating with each other, and co-ordinating their respective powers for the government of Australia. In pursuance of that intention, jurisdiction was given by the Commonwealth to State courts, the enforcement of many of the laws of the Commonwealth was. left in the hands of the States, and the Commonwealth operated through State judges and State magistrates, and left it to State officers and State police to execute judgments and decisions, and enforce penalties made under Commonwealth laws, and generally to carry out other obligations imposed by those laws. Hitherto that has been the fundamental principle underlying the relations of the Commonwealth and the States, but during recent months that principle has not been recognized by some of the State Governments. Towards the end of last year, when a very serious position had been brought about in many of the States by a shipping upheaval, Commonwealth officers in Western Australia were prevented from carrying out their functions in that State. Certain Customs officers who wished to board a vessel on its arrival in Australian waters at Fremantle were impeded and obstructed in trying to reach the launch that was to take them to it. They then appealed to the local State police, who said that the matter must be referred to police head-quarters in Perth, and on the matter being so referred the reply came back that the police were not authorized to afford any protection to the federal officers. The latter immediately telegraphed to the Commonwealth authorities in Melbourne, asking for instructions, and I thereupon dispatched the following telegram to the Premier of Western Australia: -
The Commonwealth Government informed that its Customs and quarantine officers in your State are being prevented from carrying out their necessary services to the community in that action has been taken in connexion with an industrial dispute in Fremantle to prevent them boarding overseas vessels either by ships’ boats or otherwise. Your Government will appreciate, I am sure, the seriousness of this position, and the necessity for your State to provide adequate police protection so as to enable Commonwealth officers to carry out their duties. My Government is, however, informed to-day by telegram that, although an appeal has been made for police protection to the authorities at Fremantle, they have been informed that such protection cannot be afforded. My Government feels that there must be some misunderstanding, as the safeguarding of these officers in the performance of their importantduties is a direct responsibility of your State. 1 shall be glad if you will let me have an immediate assurance that the necessary protection and assistance will be afforded them. I cannot too strongly emphasize that, with ships arriving from overseas with passengers and live stock, failure on your part to take immediate and strong action may be followed by very serious consequences to the community. Please reply urgently.
I sent that telegram on the 2nd December, but received no reply that day or the next. I sent other urgent telegrams asking for an immediate reply, and on the third day received a reply giving no assurance at all beyond the statement that the position had improved. That is one instance of what has happened quite recently. Subsequently, I saw many of the State Premiers, and discussed the matter with them. I think the views I then expressed would have been endorsed by every citizen of Aus- tralia, irrespective of his party or of his political views. The point I raised was that it was a fundamental obligation of all governments, Commonwealth and State, to maintain peace and order within Australia, and to ensure the proper exercise of their necessary functions by all government officials. In particular I laid stress on the importance of maintaining the Customs and quarantine services, and the carriage of His Majesty’s mails. I pointed out that notwithstanding any industrial turmoil that might exist, every government in Australia was bound to see that these national services were continued without interruption. Subsequently I had an opportunity of meeting a number of labour leaders, and I impressed on them the necessity of recognizing the fact that governments took no part whatsoever in industrial upheavals, and that all workers in the community should realize that it was not an interference in a strike for a government to require the conveyance of His Majesty’s mails, that being a service essential to the preservation, of the interests of the whole community. I have mentioned the Western Australian instance to show that already a State Government has not immediately responded to the obligation imposed on it to afford the protection necessary to enable Commonwealth officers to carry out their functions; but there has just recently been a more serious instance of this disregard of that obligation. A few weeks ago the Commonwealth Parliament passed a measure which is now part of the laws governing the Australian people. Whatever honorable members may think of that act, it is on the statutebook of the Commonwealth to-day, and is therefore a law which all governments in Australia are bound to enforce. The act to which I refer is the Immigration Act 1901-25. Under section 8aa of that act the Governor-General has issued a proclamation stating that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth. The act requires that following upon the issue of such a proclamation a board shall be created.
– I rise to a point of order. Under cover of a motion for the second reading of a bill to provide for the appointment of peace officers, and for other purposes, is it competent for the Prime Minister to make an attack upon His Majesty’s governments in the States of the Commonwealth, attacking their constitutional ‘ position, and generally holding them up to opprobrium %
– I have closely followed the argument of the right honorable the Prime Minister, and up to the moment at which he was interrupted by the point of order I considered him justified in advancing reasons for the introduction of the bill which apparently were sufficient for the Government. Whether they are” sufficient for the House is a matter for the judgment of honorable members ; but the right honorable gentleman so far is quite in order.
– With a view to constituting the tribunal contemplated by the Immigration Act, the Commonwealth Government asked the New South Wales Government whether it would have any objection to our approaching the Chief Justice of New South Wales to ask him to allow one of the Supreme Court judges of the State to act upon the tribunal. The reply of the New South Wales Government was -
There is no necessity for the Commonwealth Government in pursuance of its proposal to deport certain persons from Australia to invoke the assistance of the State Government. The Commonwealth Government has the means’ for carrying out its object at its own disposal. The State Government refuses to be embroiled in these deportation proceedings. It appears that in making this request the Commonwealth Nationalist Government is seeking to involve the New South Wales State Government for political purposes.
Surely it is not competent for a State Premier, or any one else, to criticize in such terms the laws passed by this Parliament. It might have been proposed to constitute this tribunal to deal with the most undesirable person who had ever entered Australia. Yet the reply given was that, irrespective of what the Commonwealth Government might contemplate, and even if the person who might be deported was a most undesirable person to retain in Australia, the Government of New South Wales would, render the Commonwealth Government no assistance in carrying out the Commonwealth law. I remind the House that the New South Wales Government had been asked only to per mit the Chief Justice of the State to be approached. As to the last sentence of Mr. Lang’s reply, “ It appears that in making this request the Commonwealth Nationalist Government is seeking to involve the New South Wales Government for political purposes,” I leave it to the House to determine whether that is the sort of answer to be expected from a State Government to a courteous request on the part of the Commonwealth Government. Subsequently, a tribunal was constituted ; its personnel was announced yesterday. Last night I sent to the Premier of New South Wales the following telegram: -
Following the issue of the Proclamation by the Governor-General that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth, a board has been appointed under sub-section 2 of section Saa of the Immigration Act 1901-25. The board consists of Algernon Stratford Canning, Frederick James Kindon, and Norman de Horne Rowland. In pursuance of the common obligations which are cast upon the Governments of the Commonwealth and the states to maintain the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth and states, and the enforcement of their laws, I shall be glad of an assurance by wire at your earliest convenience that your Government is prepared to lend the Commonwealth such assistance in the enforcement of this act as may be necessary.
I received no reply to that telegram, but I have since been in communication with the Premier’s office in New South Wales, and have been informed that the reply to our request that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales might be approached is to be taken as the reply of the New South Wales Government to my second telegram. A statement attributed to Mr. Lang appeared in this morning’s press, and I asked whether it was authentic, and if Mr. Lang had been correctly reported. To that inquiry I received an affirmative reply. The statement in the newspapers may, therefore, be taken to be the reply of the Premier of New South Wales to the telegram which I have just read. Honorable members have probably seen that statement, but I propose to read it now in order that it may be brought directly under their notice. In considering it, I ask them to remember that the New South Wales Government was asked for its co-operation in giving effect to a Commonwealth law.
– The object of which was to deport Australian citizens.
– The statement to which I have referred is as follows: - “I am prepared to see that the laws of the Commonwealth and of the state are observed,” said Mr. Lang to-day, *’ but I am not prepared to identify this state or the Labour party with any Nationalist attempt to deport its political and industrial opponents. T believe in the fullest expression of opinion on all public questions. The press and the representatives of employers claim this right, and I see no reason why it should be denied to the leaders of unionism by threats of deportation. The passage of the deportation section of the Immigration Act which it is now proposed to bring into operation in connexion with a dispute of foreign origin was’ denounced by me at the time of its introduction. I regard the act as one of the most iniquitous measures ever passed in any country, and I will firmly refuse to permit state instrumentalities to be abused for the purpose of deporting political or industrial leaders. There is no need for the Federal Government, in . pursuance of its deportation policy, to invoke the assistance of any Government. The Commonwealth has all the means at its own disposal for the execution of its own policy, and I am determined that it shall carry its policy into effect with the abundant resources at its command. I have no desire to embroil New South Wales in any deportation proceedings. It appears to me that the Federal Ministry is seeking to force upon the Labour Government of this state some of the odium which must inevitably follow the execution of Federal policy. Moreover, I believe that there is considerable doubt as to the legality of the act in so far as it affects British subjects who have been here for many years and who have reared families of Austraiian boys and girls. To cast such families out of their own country is not to deport them in the ordinary sense of the word; it is to exile them to a foreign country. The power which the Federal Government claims under its industrial deportation. legislation is monstrous. Any Britisher expressing sympathy with any body of men engaged in industrial disputes is liable to deportation for life and his family to exile. He has only to say that he thinks that the men are in the right and he instantly comes within the scope of the act. As a good deal of misapprehension appears to exist regarding the views of the New South Wales Ministry towards the present industrial situation, it is, perhaps, desirable that our position should be clearly defined. When Mr. Bruce asked that protection should be afforded to those seamen who desired to work on British vessels I was rather surprised at the request, as there had not been the slightest sign of lawlessness in this state. The British seamen who have left their ships are models of good conduct, and have occasioned no trouble whatever. It is hardly necessary for me to say that the methods of the Federal Nationalist Government in dealing with industrial troubles seldom commend themselves to the Labour party. The practice of flying to every available means of repression and coercion has become chronic, with the result that very few industrial leaders place the least confidence in the impartiality of the Federal authorities. They are regarded as merely the agents and instruments of the employers. This is unfortunate, because the influence of the Federal Government for peace should transcend that of any other public or private body.”
Such a statement, made in reply to the request of the Commonwealth Government for State assistance in enforcing a Commonwealth law must give every member of the Federal Parliament deep cause for thought. In it Mr. Lang proceeds to criticize, from a party point of view, -a law passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and indicates that, because he does not agree with it, he proposes to render no assistance whatever in enforcing it. I ask honorable members to consider where that principle, if followed generally, would lead us?
– It will put the Prime Minister and those sitting behind him in their proper place.
– The honorable member for Darling must not interject.
– Are State Governments to recognize their legal obligations to enforce Commonwealth legislation only when they agree with that legislation? Are we prepared to abrogate our legislative powers, or to allow the State Premiers to be the judges of our legislation, and to say that only for the enforcement of legislation of which they approve will they render assistance ? Honorable members opposite may disagree with the legislation which has been passed by this Parliament, but they are failing in their duty as members of the Federal Parliament if they do not resent the attitude adopted by the Premier of New South Wales.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I ask honorable members to restrain themselves. The discussion on an important and controversial matter such as that now before the House demands care and restraint, and I ask honorable members to assist in preserving order during this debate.
– Three conclusions may be drawn from the reply of Mr. Lang, the first being that he does not admit the obligation of the State to assist the Commonwealth in carrying, out legislation which has been duly and properly passed by this Parliament. The second is that he considers that, as a State Premier, he has the right to scrutinize Commonwealth legislation, rendering assistance only if he agrees with it, and refusing assistance where he does not agree with it. The third conclusion is that Mr. Lang thinks that in no circumstances shall any man be deported from Australia. The only way in which a person advocating the wildest communistic ideas may be deported from Australia is under the legislation passed by this Parliament. In order to give effect to that legislation, the appointment of a tribunal is necessary; yet Mr. Lang is not prepared to allow the Commonwealth Government even to approach a Supreme Court judge of New South Wales in the matter.
– Have you not your own judges? Cannot you trust them? Or are the High Court judges not low enough to do the job?
– I warn the honorable member for Darling.
– It is conceivable that this tribunal might be called upon to consider the case of a man who was regarded by the whole community as a menace, and whom every one thought should be deported; but it is clear from Mr. Lang’s statement that he is not prepared to rid the country of a person of that description. If that is also the attitude of honorable members opposite, I absolutely disagree with them. I am not prepared to see this country made the dumping ground for men of wild ideas, who are prepared to destroy everything that we hold dear. Apparently, honorable members opposite hold different views. The Commonwealth Parliament has passed an act under which a tribunal has been appointed. Before that tribunal, men who are considered tobe inimical to the peace, order, and good government of this country may be brought. If its decision is that the men so brought before it are a menace to the peace, order, and good government of Australia, the proper Minister has power to order their deportation. To give effect to the decisions of the tribunal, the assistance of the police is essential for the service of the summons required by the act, and if necessary, to’ take the individual concerned into custody after the decision of the tribunal has been given. But we can receive no assistance from the Premier of New South Wales in these matters. Consequently, the Government has had to bring down this bill, which is one it had no desire to introduce. This action has been forced upon us by the refusal of the Premier of New South Wales to give effect to a Commonwealth law which is binding upon the whole of ‘ the people of Australia. The bill is a very short one, and its provisions are more suitable for consideration in committee than at this stage. It authorizes, the Commonwealth Government to appoint peace officers, to whom is to be given the same authority as that of the police constables of the states. It is a serious thing that the Commonwealth Government should have to appoint officials for the enforcementof the laws of the Commonwealth, but this is really the final stage of a situation which has been gradually developing. During the last few months we have been subjected to constant industrial upheaval. We have had in our midst persons who have putforward the most revolutionary ideas, and have defied the principles of trade unionism. Time and again extremists have defied properly constituted irade unionist leaders, and have dragged the great trade unionist movement attheir heels. No one who has studied the occurrences of the last few months can dispute what I have said. During the shipping upheavals in December last, and since, we have seen the trade unionists endeavouring to control one individual, but they could not do it. To-day the attitude of honorable members opposite, and that of the leaders of the trade unionist movement in Australia, is such as to fill with shame every trade unionist in this country. In former disputes there has been at least this excuse for industrial leaders, that, although the extremists have dragged them at their heels in a way which no one would have believed possible, at least it could be said that the disputes were between workers and their employers. But to-day the dispute that exists, and concerning which honorable members of the Labour party have not a word to say, is a dispute between a properly constituted trade union in Great Britain and members of thatunion in this country who have been misled and drawn away from their allegiance by a few extremists. To-day we have in our midst men whom honorable members opposite, by their silence, are supporting, but who are defying their own union, and striking a vital blow at the principle of trade unionism.
– I rise to order. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is now discussing the conduct of certain trade unionist leaders, and I ask you, sir, whether his -remarks are relevant to the bill before the Chair, which is entitled the Peace Officers Bill.
– I imagine from the noise some honorable members are making that the observations of the Prime Minister have a direct allusion to the bill. Personally. I consider the remarks of the right honorable gentleman to be quite in order.
– We are to-day faced with an industrial upheaval within Australia which can and may menace every one of our industries, our prosperity, and the interests of every individual in the community. The dispute has only to extend a little further to paralyse our overseas transport, and to interfere seriously with our national life. Had honorable members of the Labour party shown the courage they ought to have shown, the present dispute would not have lasted for more than 24 hours. Honorable members opposite could stop it now if they desired.
– Has the right honorable gentleman the courage to accept my challenge to go to the country? We will draw your bluff. We will go to the country next week if you like.
– Order ! 1 must ask honorable members to allow the debate to proceed.
– It is not a debate; it ls £t f fires
– The honorable member is doing his best to make it so.
– This is the man of courage !
– The honorable member for Werriwa must not interject.
– Honorable members opposite could terminate the dispute to-day if they had the courage. They should tell these unfortunate seamen, who, like themselves, have been dragged at the heels of certain reactionary extremists in this country, that they are in the wrong. Every one knows that it is so, and the duty to make the fact clear rests upon the trade unionist leaders. On Monday last I made a statement to the press in plain words, in which I suggested a certain course of action. I invited honorable members opposite to maintain con stitutional government, to constitute themselves the champions of legitimate trade unionism, and to support the men in Great Britain who control the British seamen’s organization. I suggested to them that they should advise the seamen in our ports to do what every responsible trade unionist leader in Great Britain expects them to do. But they did not utter one word. The Government was then compelled to take this action. Its hands have been forced to a great extent because the trade unionist leaders have not performed their duty. They can discipline these men better than any one else. It is their responsibility; but they have made no attempt to shoulder it. They have not done anything. No one can accuse me of having been precipitate. I have been patient.
– I think the right honorable gentleman will take a little time in doing what he desires. I think this is all bluff.
– This patient and courageous pater familias
– I ask the honorable member for Batman not to test further the patience of the Chair.
– I have gone on month after month. I have tested the patience of the people by proceeding slowly, iu the endeavour to induce the leaders of the trade union movement to make a determined move to destroy the influence of the extremists and communists who are to-day gaining such a hold over a certain section of our people. It was only after every effort to get them to intervene had failed that the Government decided to take action. The Government has taken the power to deport from Australia men who are doing incalculable harm. That was a necessary step, and one by which I am prepared to stand. This further step which has been forced upon us is necessary for the welfare of the whole people. We have accepted the challenge and are going on. We have put our hands to the plough, and have no intention of going back. The position in Australia to-day is such that unless definite action is taken against these men who are undermining our national life everything which we hold dear may be lost. In a matter of such importance we must have the support of the people, and I say emphatically that we have that support. It may be, however, that even with the, powers we possess we may not be able to solve the problem confronting us. We may have te go even further. I, therefore, inform honorable members that we intend to go as far as is necessary in order to ensure the peace, order and good government of the country. If it is necessary to seek further powers, we shall not hesitate to go to the people and ask for them. In the position which I have the honour to occupy I cannot carry the great responsibility that rests upon me unless I have the powers that are necessary to protect the interests of the community. I do not believe that any man could justifiably remain in the position which I occupy and give effect to its great obligations and responsibilities, unless he had the powers we have already taken, and the further authority for which we now ask. If necessary we shall go further. We shall appeal to the people for all the powers necessary to safeguard their interests and to assure the prosperity of the country.
.- The right honorable gentleman, in moving the second reading, of the bill, stressed the necessity for harmony and co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. May I say, on behalf of- the party on this side, that we are prepared to concede that there should be harmony and co-operation between the Federal and- State authorities. But I say, also, that there must be some limit to the length to which the Federal Government may go in trying to force a, State Govern ment to do something which is obnoxious to it, which has not the support of the people, and which should be given effect only after an appeal to the people. The Prime Minister says that he is willing to go to the people, and I repeat now that this party will give him Supply and gc with him to the people as soon as he likes on this particular question. There is my challenge. The . right honorable gentleman says that we have not sufficient, courage on this side; but if honorable members opposite have courage the Prime Minister and his supporters will accept my challenge.
– This looks like an election.
– I hope there will be an election. It is deplorable that in a deliberative Parliament like this we should have the Prime Minister of the
Commonwealth castigating the Leader of a State Government because that gentleman happens to hold different political views from himself. Does any honorable member contend that the New South Wales Government should stultify itself by going against the people who placed it in power in order to give effect to a decision arrived at in this Parliament to deport citizens of Australia? Do not honorable members think that it is asking too much of a State Government to ask that it should carry out a law which was guillotined through this Parliament without proper discussion, and which has for its object the deportation of certain persons? Surely if we hold that these people can be dealt with under our laws in our own country, we are justified in refusing to support their deportation. There must be a line drawn somewhere, and the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister and his supporters is most unreasonable. In justice to Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, it is right that I should say that he did exactly what the people of New South Wales would expect him to do. May I say, also, that he did exactly what the people of Australia will expect other Governments to do in this particular connexion. We have arrived at such a pass that it is necessary to ask : When is a person a resident of Australia ? The Prime Minister has mentioned no names, but he has referred to three or four individuals who are to be deported. Their deportation is the object of the Government. It is said that two of these persons are connected with the Seamen’s Union, and one with the Trades and Labour Council. I do not know who the fourth may be. One of these persons has resided in Australia for 30 years, and has a family. Another has resided iu this country for twenty years, and a third has been here for very many years. The question is, “ When are we to recognize people as residents of this country?” Are we to say that, so far as some of these individuals are concerned, because they were not born in Australia we must deport them to the land of their birth?
– They are a menace to the country.
– Does the honorable member think that, if that is so. Great Britain will accept them ?
– Great Britain will have to do so.
– That is news, to me. Until ‘ how I have understood that when people leave the country they must be provided, with passports to show that they are desirable citizens before they can land in another country.
– Every country has to take its own nationals.
– Then, are we not British? Do not honorable members claim from time to time the great benefits following from our connexion with the British Empire? Now it would appear that persons born in Britain are not citizens of the British Empire. We have a right to deal with our own citizens within our own borders, if they have rendered themselves liable to punishment. If these men have committed a crime they should be punished here according to our own laws. This marks the difference between the Government and honorable members on this side. We say that there’ is ample law in Australia to deal with men if they have done wrong. The Prime Minister, in his speech, would make it appear that honorable members on this side have aided and abetted these men. He has practically said as much. He knows very well that if there is any one in this chamber who has failed to try to do what was best in the interests of the Commonwealth it is himself, because, a few weeks ago, when -a deputation waited upon him and asked him to intercede in connexion with an industrial difficulty, he absolutely refused to do so. I ask honorable members to- contrast the right honorable gentleman’s action on that occasion with the action of Mr. Baldwin, the Premier of England, a week or so later. He at once offered his services to bring about a settlement of an industrial dispute. What did the exPrime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) do? Immediately, industrial trouble arose he stepped in to try to bring about a settlement. What did the late Alfred Deakin do when he was Prime Minister ? I remember that on an occasion when there was industrial trouble he sent for me, desiring to know the circumstances connected with it, and whether he could do anything to bring about a settlement. It is the duty of the Prime Minister, as head of the Commonwealth Government, to try to bring about a settlement of industrial strife when requested to do so. But the right honorable gentleman absolutely refused to do so when representatives of labour unions waited upon him and asked him to intercede. Instead of doing so, he passed legislation to deport the people about whom he talked so much todayRight on the eve of the passing of this legislation I told honorable members on the other side that the shipping dispute was within measurable distance of being settled. Efforts were being made outside to bring about a settlement, and I was, myself, endeavouring to do so. I have endeavoured this week to-do what I conceive to be right to bring about a better condition of things in Australia. That is the attitude I adopted as leader of the party on this side. After the deportation legislation was passed, the trouble with which it was intended to deal was settled, but, if the Prime Min=ister had intervened when he was requested to do so, the settlement of the recent shipping trouble in Australia would have been effected nine or ten days before it was. Here were two parties differing on certain points, and with no one to guide them. A man in the position of the Prime Minister, occupying the chair, as he should have done, at a conference of the parties, could have taken the statements of both sides, have pointed out the necessity for compromise and endeavoured to bring about a settlement. It could have been effected, and there would have been no more trouble; but the right honorable gentleman preferred to pass legislation to deport people, believing that it would be a good battle cry with which to go to the country. That is what is behind the action of the Government. The Government knows that it has no chance in life of success at the next election unless it is able to go before the people with some special cry. Rather than consider first the interests of the Commonwealth, and do what he could to settle the shipping dispute, he brought down his bill to deport certain people. No matter how objectionable the actions of those people may be, we should deal with them according to the laws of our own country. May I say further that if these men were found guilty of doing anything wrong in connexion with the recent shipping disturbance there was ample power to deal with them under the arbitration and other laws of the country. Why were they not so dealtwith? Why should the Government go to the length of passing special legislation to deal with those who arc said to have committed a breach of the law, and then ask a State Government to give effect to legislation which it does not approve?
– Because they could not get a court in Australia to convict the men.
– Exactly. Why has the Government gone to the courts of a State and asked for the assistance of a State judge? Why did it not appoint a Commonwealth judge? Evidently because the Commonwealth judges would have nothing to do with the matter. We have machinery of our own, as Mr. Lang has stated, to deal with these people if they have done wrong, but the judges of the High Court had too much sense to be drawn into a matter like this. Not one of them would touch it. When the Prime Minister was unable to secure the services of a Commonwealth judge he asked the New South Wales Government to permit of the appointment of some one in the Public Service of the State, notwithstanding the fact that it was entirely opposed to the legislation proposed to be enforced. If the Government had asked that some one should be appointed to inquire into a breach of our law involving punishment within this country, the New South Wales Government would have responded to the request. That would have been very different from giving its consent to measures taken to deport people. The action of the Federal Government, as I have said before, and now repeat, is a direct blow at the trades union movement of this country. There is no disputing the fact that that is the’ object of it. The Government holds up the actions of two or three men to show that it is justified in the course it is taking. May I say that, so far as honorable members on this side are concerned, we did everything that we could for the settlement of the recent shipping dispute? In connexion with the present trouble, there is no general strike. May I tell the. honorable member for Eawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who laughs, that there is not one union in Australia on strike to-day ?
– What about the Tasmanian steamers?
– I am talking about strikes.
– So am I. What about the Tasmanian steamers, and what about the railway strike in Queensland?
– Now the honorable member is going to another State. He knows well what I am talking about, and I say that to-day there is no strike in connexion with the waterside workers or the seamen in Australian ports, other than amongst seamen from abroad. I say that deliberately. 1Iknow nothing officially about the trouble in which seamen from abroad are concerned. I know that men have refused to work in oversea ships. May I say that whether there is any merit in their claim or not - and I am not now approving or disapproving of their action - we must have some sympathy with men who are asked to follow a seafaring life and accept wages of £9 per month. It is because there is something to be said for the resentment of men placed in that position that many men in this country have sympathized with them.
– Walsh is here only to cause trouble.
– If so, why is he not dealt with under our law? The honorable member must not make the mistake, as the Prime Minister has done, of thinking for a moment that if Walsh or some one else is got rid’ of that will be the end of the matter. So long as we have trade unionism and the capitalistic system, and men have to work for wages, industrial disputes must arise, and there must always be some one guiding the affairs of the trade unions.
– Walsh is not a trade unionist.
– I do notknow whether he is or not, but I know that he represents a particular industrial association at the present time. I want to say that I have no sympathy with any hold-up of the transport services of the country. I want to see the dispute settled, and I have been endeavouring to do my part. This is not the place in which anything can be done to bring about a settlement. This is only a place for fire- works.
– For creating strife.
– The action of the Government tends only to create strife, and will do nothing to settle the shipping dispute.
– It is helping to extend it.
– Of course it is. The Prime Minister deliberately finds fault with the Government that is endeavouring to do everything possible to maintain industrial peace in this country, and particularly in its own State. I ask honorable members to contrast the action taken by Mr. Lang and his government in New South Wales with that taken by the Prime Minister and his government during the recent shipping crisis. Mr. Lang and his fellow Ministers did everything possible to effect a settlement, whilst the Prime Minister endeavoured to create strife and absolutely refused to do anything to bring about a settlement. Now honorable members opposite think they can induce Mr. Lang to go back upon the principles of a life time. No one can expect that any State Government will be prepared to use its powers to deport people who should be tried according to our own laws and, if guilty, punished in our own country. If honorable members opposite expect that the State Governments will do that they make a very grievous mistake. What is the justification for the attitude taken up by the Government? Can it claim that it has a mandate from the electors?
– Yes, it has.
– It has not. It is because of the trickery which brought about a coalition on the other side that the present Government is in possession of the treasury bench to-day. There are men sitting on that bench to-day who never dreamt that they would be there. Their appointment was a surpriseto them. Perhaps with the exception of two Ministers in the present Government not one of them, when he went to the country for election, dreamed that he would to-day be sitting on the treasury bench. How did they get there ? Because neither party opposite being in a majority, the two had to coalesce to form a government, and ever since there has been trouble for Australia. Yet Ministers solemnly contend that Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, should give effect to legislation with which he does not agree, and which was passed by a coalition government without a mandate from the people. If honorable members supporting the Government desire to appeal to the people on this question of authority to deport Australian citizens who may become involved in an industrial dispute, we on this side of the House are prepared to accept the challenge.
– The deportation of Australian citizens is not the issue.
– It will be the issue. It is idle for the honorable member to suggest it will not be. It is impossible for honorable members opposite to escape from it. The Government has placed upon the statute-book a measure which provides that any person not born in Australia who becomes involved in an industrial dispute that is likely to interfere with trade and commerce may be brought before a board, and if convicted, deported to the country of his birth. That, and that only must be the issue on any appeal to the country. The legislation referred to will make it possible for the Government to deport every trade union leader who may be concerned in an industrial dispute. Evidently the Government expects these leaders to desert their men ; to turn their backs on fellowunionists lest they be deported. How many trade union leaders in Australia are native of this country? How many are Britishers ? The men involved in this dispute are Britishers. Yet there is evidently a desire on the part of ministerial supporters to regard them as not being citizens of Australia, which is part of the Empire. They have been resident in Australia for very many years, and it is intolerable to think that there are sufficient members of this Chamber who are prepared to support measures of this kind. We should be able to deal with our own citizens for any breach of Commonwealth laws without introducing legislation of this nature. No attempt has been made to put into operation the provisions . of our arbitration, or other statute or common law, whichever may be applicable. The Government clearly wishes to get rid of certain men, and, because there is so much turmoil in connexion with certain industrial organizations, Ministers imagine that feeling is running strongly against these men. They never made a greater mistake. One thing the people of Australia will not tolerate is unwarranted coercive legislation for the deportation of individuals associated with the industrial movement. If ever an appeal is made to the people on this question, the answer will be the same as that given on the conscription issue. There will be an overwhelming majority against the Government and their supporters. The Ministry, without appealing to the people, wishes Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, to take a certain line of action, notwithstanding that he differs fundamentally from the Commonwealth Government as to the cause of this industrial trouble. I had intended to quote Mr. Lang’s statement so as to have it published in Hansard. I am glad the right honorable the Prime Minister has done this for me. We could not have a better statement of the case. Mr. Lang’s speech will be perused by every one who reads Hansard, and I am satisfied it will meet with their approval. The people always respond to fair and reasonable legislation. If the request made to Mr. Lang had been reasonable, and if he had then refused to support the Commonwealth Government, he would have stood condemned by the people throughout his own State. If, on the other hand, a course of action is proposed that is unreasonable and repugnant to the people of Australia - and the deportation of Australians certainly falls within this category - the people will stand behind Mr. Lang.
– And the people of Parkes in particular.
– The honorable member may bring all the big guns to Parkes. Unlike the honorable member for Maribyrnong I never crawled out of my party and crawled back again.
– The honorable member for Parkes is now becoming contemptible. He is a liar !
– The honorable member for Parkes, I understand, is referring to an incident at one of our party meetings in connexion with the conscription issue, and I say that his statement about the honorable member for Maribyrnong is a deliberate untruth. I was there, and I know. I see no necessity for this measure. I know of no reason why the Government should not act under its existing authority. There is already power to do all that may be necessary. In the Estimates there is an item dealing with the Commonwealth Investigation Branch. Possibly officials of that branch could have been engaged for the special work required. We have investigation officers in the Customs and other departments. Why, then, did the
Government ask the New South Wales Government to do its work? Why did the Ministry wish to place that State Government in a false position?
– The Government did not want New South Wales Ministers to act. It wanted them to refuse to act.
– And they accepted the challenge. No self-respecting Government could allow itself to be placed in such a false position. In saying this, I wish to make it quite clear that I recognize the need for co-operation between the Federal and State Governments, but there must be a limit to the demands of the one upon any of the others. If an unreasonable request is made, if there is an attempt to embarrass a State Government, its Ministers are perfectly justified in refusing to act. This, I submit, is the position of the New South Wales Government. The Commonwealth Government could just as reasonably have approached the government of another State. It may be urged that it did not do so because the industrial leaders aimed at are resident in New South Wales. I do not know if they are. Their names have not been disclosed. But the same industrial trouble has occurred in Melbourne. Why, then, did not the Government appeal to the Liberal Government of this State to do its dirty work? But no; the Government preferred to appeal to a Labour government in New South Wales, and ask it to place its officials at the disposal of the Commonwealth. I know of no reason why the Victorian Government was not asked to accept this responsibility. From statements that have appeared in the press concerning the origin of the dispute, it appears that British seamen resented a reduction in their wages agreed to by their union leaders in England, and, upon arrival at Australian ports, refused to work. They then appealed to representative trade unions in Australia for sympathy and support. The press have made it clear that Australian unionists did not instigate the strike. Much of the trouble appears to be due to the fact that many people are suffering from an aggravated form of hysteria in connexion with industrial affairs. Whenever they read press reports of any trouble they demand that something shall be done at once. The press really forced the Government to take action in such matters. Ministers would no more dare to ignore the press than I would dare to fly to New South Wales to-night, for the simple reason that the press are their masters. Certain privileged individuals in this community, who support the composite ministry, together with the press of Australia, are constantly telling the Government what it ought to do. They tell me also, but I take no notice of them.
– Walsh tells the honorable member what to do.
– I have not spoken to Mr. Walsh about this matter since the inception of the trouble.
– I thought the honorable member said that he had been endeavouring to bring about a settlement.
– I was expecting that interjection from the honorable member for Kooyong, and I should like to assure him that, in association with other representatives of the industrial movement I have been endeavouring to effect a settlement. I was the first to. approach the Premier of New South Wales, when Mr. Walsh put the case before him. That was the first move in the negotiations. Other leaders followed up the negotiations in New South Wales, and I did so in Melbourne. I invite the honorable member to ask any of the representative men in Melbourne what I have been doing. Let him ask Mr. Holloway, Mr. Paynter, and other industrial leaders in Melbourne, whether I have been working to bring about a settlement of the trouble. Or, if the honorable gentleman prefers, let him go to the chairman of the shipowners’ representatives, and ascertain from him what part I have taken in the negotiations. I have been endeavouring to do what I could this week, but because I am not prepared to give reports to the press and make statements upon which they may publish scare headlines, I am to be condemned. I prefer to work quietly in the interests of the Commonwealth rather than to pose as a mediator, and get kudos from the press. If the Prime Minister had done likewise, there would not have been half the present trouble. But Ministers and their supporters want a political placard. They are looking for trouble. Apparently they think that if they can create the right atmosphere they will succeed on an appeal to the people. In my opinion, this trouble can only last a week or two at the most. It is sure to “peter” out, because it is not onicially recognized by the British Seamen’s Union. It is “ an unofficial strike. All I have said is that I cannot help sympathizing with men who get such low wages. I never said I would support them, and honorable members opposite need not think they are going to put me in that position. If, as I expect, the strike collapses in about a week’s time, and if in the meantime the Government passes this measure, and seeks to pub it into operation, what will happen? Any attempt to deport trade union leaders will cause the greatest industrial upheaval ever experienced in Australia. Of course, there may be serious legal difficulties in the way. It may not be all plain sailing for the Government. Do honorable members supporting the Government realize the consequences of this action? Apparently it is left for me to point to the danger, and to warn them of the pitfalls which the Prime Minister is digging for them. This trouble, I repeat, will develop unless the Government, by the exercise of common sense, take steps to prevent it. Although no Australian union is involved in the trouble, the Government proposes to go to the length of deporting men, who, if they had offended against the laws of the Commonwealth, could be dealt with in the ordinary courts. Surely that is the right policy; but the Commonwealth Government desires the Labour Government in New South Wales to assist in doing something that is repugnant to it, and also to the people of Australia, as they will clearly show if they have an opportunity of pronouncing upon it during the next few weeks. The statement has been made that the Government realizes that it cannot successfully appeal to the people unless an electioneering bogy is created, and it is making the most of this industrial trouble as a means of gaining support at the ballot-box. I have to-day challenged the Government to go to the country immediately, and I hope that gage will be taken up. I desire to have from the people a pronouncement as to whether they support legislation of this character, whether they approve of the Prime Minister and the Government doing nothing to bring about the settlement of an industrial trouble that threatened to throttle Ausralian industry, and whether they endorse a policy of deportation that will bring about the biggest industrial crisis in the history of Australia. If the Government proceeds to that extreme it will tie up, not only shipping, but also every other industry. The men of Australia, who showed to such advantage in the war were the working men, and if the Government attacks their interests, and endeavours to deport their leaders, the same principles of courage and independence that they manifested at the front will assert themselves in the industrial arena. The Government should hesitate to bring about a condition of affairs that -it will live to regret. I do not fear the consequences of an appeal to the country; the Government will . find that it has been forced into a disastrous policy by the clamour of the press, and the privilegect few who have no sympathy with the great body of the workers, but think that any man who happens to be the moui fapiece of a body of men, and says something, that is not acceptable to conservative thought, should be deported. If such a man commiis a breach of the Commonwealth law he” should be dealt with in the courts of the land. In the upholding of Commonwealth laws the cooperation of State Governments can be expected, but a State government, especially a Labour government, cannot be expected to do something that is repugnant to it, and would place it in an unenviable position. Although Mr. Lang made his position very clear in the fine statement published in to-day’s press, the Prime Minister endeavoured to hold him and his Government up to ridicule, and to make it appear that they are not standing up to the responsibilities of theif position. Does the Prime Minister expect coercive legislation, which was passed by means of the guillotine, to be observed and upheld by a Labour Government? Does he think that Mr. Lang and his Government do not understandthe feeling of the people of New South Wales ? They know that the people support them. Other Labour Governments, if appealed to, will, I believe, adopt the same attitude, and they will have the support of the people in their respective States. Even in Victoria, the most conservative of the States, an appeal to the people would disclose that the majority of them are opposed to the policy that the Commonwealth Government is carrying out. I do not expect anything to come of this bill; it is merely a pyrotechnical display on the part of the Government, which, driven by the press and other interested parties, is in a dilemma from which it cannot extricate itself. The Government knows that its position is hopeless, but seeing no way of retreat, it is introducing extreme legislation, but hoping that legal action will bo taken by the other side to prevent effect being given to it. Not one member on the Ministerial side is satisfied that this legislation will achieve the purpose for which it is designed. Ministers know that every legal process will be availed of by the persons whom the Government may seek to deport, and there is a possibility of the Ministry being held up to ridicule by the decision of the law courts. Certainly its actions will be reprobated by the people if it accepts my challenge to appeal to the electors as soon as possible.
– Although the Leader of the Opposition spoke for a considerable time, he carefully avoided the one issue contained in the bill. The measure is very brief, and very clear. Under the Federal Constitution, there is one people with two authorities - National and State - employed to do the nation’s work in their respective spheres. Throughout that scheme is the clear intention that the two agencies shall co-operate to give effect to the national will. This Parliament has given jurisdiction in certain matters to the courts of the States. It has endowed State police magistrates with authority in all Federal matters of summary jurisdiction. The services of State registrars and bailiffs are utilized by the Federal authorities; in fact, the whole scheme of Federation involves the utilization of State agencies in accordance with the undoubted intention of the Constitution. Section 5 of the act to constitute the Commonwealth provides -
All laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution shall he binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State.
There the supremacy of the national laws throughout the Commonwealth is clearly laid down. Individual sections of the Constitution cast upon the States the duty of assisting in the execution of our laws. For instance, section 120 requires the States to provide prisons for the incarceration of persons convicted of offences against Federal laws. But today, one State Government refuses to recognize the obligation to co-operate, and when invited by the Commonwealth to continue that co-operation which has existed since the commencement of federation, has declined to do so. ThatState Government, which is sworn to administer the laws of the land, refuses to assist in carrying out a particular law that has been constitutionally passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. It may be that the State Government is within its legal rights in so refusing, but what will the people of Australia say of a State authority which refuses to give effect to the sovereign will of the people as expressed through the proper agency? The State Government is not asked to affirm that it approves of any Commonwealth law which it is asked to execute. The execution of a Commonwealth law is not dependent upon the approval of any State Government; otherwise we might have in the six sovereign States, whose Governments change according to fluctuations of public opinion, three governments in favour of a Federal law, and giving effect to it, and three disapproving of it, and refusing to co-operate with the Commonwealth in enforcing it. Thus the law would be operative in three States, and inoperative in the other, three. In this democratic country, the will of the people, as expressed in this Parliament, should be sufficient warrant for the enforcement of a law by a State authority. When we ask why the New South Wales Government refused to support the Federal authorities, the Leader of the Opposition, whose ability as- a debater is a guarantee that- the case he stated for the State Government is the best defence that is possible, declared that that Government was entitled to refuse to enforce the Commonwealth law, because, firstly, it was passed through this House by means of the guillotine; and secondly, it is repugnant to the Government of New South Wales.
– And the people.
– The men who are elected by the constituents to represent them in this National .Parliament are the only persons who, in law, are capable of declaring what is the will of the people. Yet one Premier to whom a Commonwealth law is distasteful and repugnant,, will have nothing to do with it.
– He knows that the law is repugnant to the people whom he represents.
– The logical deduction from the honorable member’s statement is, that if the Government of a small State declared that a law was repugnant to a small majority of its people, that law should not be enforced.- In other words, the fluctuating public opinion of one State is to determine whether or not a Commonwealth statute shall be put into effect. Such a situation would be impossible. This Parliament deliberately passed a law for the deportation of certain undesirables. The merits of that law I shall not discuss, but I desire to correct a gross misinterpretation of it that was contained in- Mr. Lang’s statement, and repeated by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, that under that law any trade unionist who is engaged in an industrial dispute may be deported.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear ! That is the position.
– If hon.orable members opposite seriously believe that, I am sorry for them. Section 8aa of the Act is perfectly clear. Before any person can be deported the existence of a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth must have been proclaimed, and the Minister must have been satisfied that such person had been concerned in acts directed towards hindering, to the prejudice of the public, transport of goods, &c, and that his presence in Australia would be injurious to the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth in relation to matters which Parliament may make laws. When so satisfied the Minister may summon a board. A man who happens to be engaged in an ordinary industrial dispute does not necessarily come within those terms, but if any man did, nobody would be more pleased than members of the Opposition if the powers of deportation were exercised.
– The Minister has no right to say that.
– The statement is absolutely incorrect, and the Minister knows it.
– If honorable members opposite found that a man had brought himself Avithin the terms of this law, I am perfectly sure that they would take similar action.
Opposition Members. - No!
– So far their opinion has been based apparently upon an utter misconception of the meaning of the section. A most cursory reading of it would absolutely remove that misconception.
– We know what it means.
– It is intended as a means to deport Australian citizens.
– That is not so. It is not within our province this afternoon to discuss the merits or demerits of any particular individual. We do not know whether any particular person is to be summoned to appear before the board; but if anybody is so summoned, the matter will be one upon which the board will make its own recommendation. I wish to keep out of the debate the personal element, and to discuss the subject from the stand-point of the constitutional right and duty of the Commonwealth Government.
– This is an attack upon trade unions.
– Because Parliament is being asked to agree to the appointment of peace officers to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth, honorable members opposite argue that trade unions are being attacked. That shows how utterly illogical their position is The Government of the State of New South Wales may have acted within its rights when it refused to give to the Commonwealth any assistance to carry out a Commonwealth law. It may have acted within its constitutional right, but certainly not in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. It is in essence a wrong action to take. The action of a State Government in declining to assist the Commonwealth to enforce its laws is practically an incitement to the citizens of Australia not to observe those laws. When a State Government says, “ This law is repugnant to us, and we will not enforce it,” a spirit of disobedience is inculcated.
– The New SouthWales Government has said that the Commonwealth Government has adequate powers to deal with the situation.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! The noise is so loud and so sustained” that I can hardly hear the Minister. If it continues I shall exert the power of the Chair to enforce order.
– When the Premier of a State whose governments have for years enforced the laws of the Commonwealth declines to assist in the enforcement of a particular Com- monwealth law because it is repugnant to him, what feeling must that create with regard to that law in the minds of the citizens who are asked to obey it? It is the duty of every one to obey the laws which have been passed, even though they may be distasteful to him. Is the national Parliament and Government to be placed in a position of impotence? Is Australia, which holds a place amongst’ the nations of the world, to be incapable of enforcing its own laws? That is the position.. Fortunately the power of the Commonwealth Parliament to pass this law is beyond question. Under section 61 of the Constitution tne executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the King, and is exercised by the Governor-General as the King’s representative. That power extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth. Under section 51 this Parliament has power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this section in the Parliament or in either House thereof, or in the Government of the Commonwealth, or in the Federal judicature, or in any department or officer of the Commonwealth. Our powers, therefore, are clear and explicit. Professor Harrison Moore, at page 297 of his work, ‘TheCommonwealth of Australia, says -
In pursuance of its duty to maintain the Constitution, and the law of the Commonwealth, the Executive may, without any farther statutory authority, take whatever measures are ordinarily allowed to the Executive by the common law, to protect every branch and. department of the Federal Government in the performance of its duties.
He quotes two well-known United States cases which clearly establish the executive power “of the United States of America. It is pointed out that if the national Government of the United States of America had not power to maintain and execute its laws, it would as a nation he reduced to tho impotence which characterized it before it attained its present status. The Government, of the Commonwealth of Australia would be in practically the same position if it could not enforce its laws. It is because of the refusal of the State of New .South Wales to execute those laws that we are taking the power which we clearly possess to appoint peace officers to do so.
– Why did the Government not appoint a High Court judge to sit on the tribunal.
– The reason is clear. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth is divided into “legislative, executive, and judicial departments. The judges of the High Court have to pronounce upon the distribution of powers between the Commonwealth and the States, and to preserve the balance of justice evenly between all sections. As they may have to decide an appeal touching the constitutionality of any procedure, it would be unwise to ask them to* undertake this duty, which is merely one of investigation and recommendation.
– The Minister admits then that any decision of this board may be appealed against in the High Court?
– I do not say anything of the sort. The Leader of the Opposition said that it would be opposed legally at all stages. I accept his statement. It is proper, therefore, to reserve to the High Court the function of pronouncing judgment upon anything that has been done. The Government has acted rightly throughout.
– For the information of the country the Minister ought to say whether there will be a right to appeal to- the High Court.
– Those who invoke the assistance of the law will have plenty of legal aid. My function as Attorney-General is to advise the Government in the administration of the departments, and to assist this House in the passing of laws. Because an honorable member chooses to question me on a point of law, on behalf of any person, I am not bound to answer him. I maintain that the position “of the Government throughout has been legally and constitu tionally correct. An attempt has been made to cause the Commonwealth to appear impotent before the people of Australia. We decline to allow the Government to be placed in that position. As a matter of law we are bound to take this step. The Canadian Government has upon its statute-book a law similar to this.
– It is not similar ; they cannot deport a Britisher.
– I am referring to the police. I say that the Government of the Dominion of Canada has been given, precisely the same power that we are seeking. The Leader of the Opposition did not give the slightest justification for the attitude of” the Government of New South Wales, and he did not meet the issue which was so clearly and forcibly raised by the Prime Minister as to the duty of a State Government to assist the Commonwealth in the execution of the laws of the nation.
.- We have had two speeches from men who occupy very high and prominent positions in this country, men from whom one would expect a little sanity and calmness in handling such a matter as this. The bill really means nothing; it is merely the result of certain legislation that has already passed this chamber. It was refreshing to read in the newspapers, and to hear repeated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the message which was sent by the head of an important State in the Federation. The Government of the State of New South Wales, with a due sense of the responsibilities of its high office, and as the mouthpiece of the people of that State, has made a certain declaration, which is far-reaching in its importance. It has said, iu effect, that it refuses to be the “ wood and water joey “ of a political organization, or of a Government that, for political purposes, is carrying out the behests of a political organization. There is still, in New South Wales at any rate, a little sanity, even though the virtue has departed from the members of this Government. The Prime Minister can be forgiven to a certain extent, because, after all, his experience in the political life of Australia is a short one. The Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom), on the contrary, has practically been reared in a political and judicialatmosphere. For him to support the deportation clauses of the Immigration Act is, to say the least, scandalous. The present Government of the State of New South Wales has only recently been returned to that high office. It has said, “We absolutely refuse to be tools in a political stunt engineered by the Commonwealth Government.” For the time being, honorable gentlemen opposite govern and control this country. But every one realizes that so- soon as an appeal is made to the people, they will vacate the treasury bench, and we who at present sit on this side of the chamber will occupy it. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) himself believes implicitly that the Labour party will come into power in the Commonwealth after the next elections.
– There is not the slightest chance of that.
– If there is one so foolish or so fatuous that he believes the present Government will continue to control the affairs of the Commonwealth after the next elections, let him be pointed out to me.
– I believe that.
– The honorable member does not believe it. He knows that the present Government is doomed. Honorable members opposite have their noses to the political trail as closely as we have, and they realize that all the indications point to the ousting of this Government at the next elections.
– This business will settle you.
– The honorable member is always frank, and his frankness is refreshing. Whenever the Prime Minister, with that suavity which usually characterizes his utterances, and the Attorney-General, with language interspersed with legal terms, have attempted to gloss over any matter, the honorable member for Warringali (Sir Granville Eyrie) cau always be depended upon to “put the pot on.” He has clone so in this case. The Government of New South Wales has taken a stand which is unprecedented in the history of federation, and I venture to assert that, if necessary, the same stand would be taken by five out of the six States of the Commonwealth. I invite the Federal Government, if it wishes to see whether the people of Australia are behind it, to ask the other States to assist in doing its dirty political work, for, after all, it is dirty political work to be used for political purposes in the vain hope that out of it will come a successful election cry. Barren of administrative or legislative record, the Commonwealth Government stands condemned in the eyes of the people, and will at the next election meet the fate of similar Governments in the States, who have gone down like so many skittles. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) stated that the introduction of this legislation would assist the Government at the next elections.
– It should do so.
– Then the honorable member has really some doubts about it. I would inform honorable members opposite, who are temporarily in control of the government of this country, that this is panicky and hysterical legislation, and therefore cannot live long. There is a natural law transcending all man-made laws, that if legislation is not acceptable to the people it must die.Running down through the ages, laws such as this have been introduced by puppets representing this or that interest, for political and other purposes. These laws live for a time, and then disappear like insects that live for 24 hours. The Leg Irons Act of New South Waleswas introduced by Charles Gregory W ade. Where is that law to-day, and how long did it live? It was on the statute-book for only a short time, because the people of that State would not support it. That measure was passed with great acclamation and with great political kudos from vested interests and the tory section of the community. It was introduced to the people of Australia as a greatpiece of legislation to be used on every possible occasion to bring about peace, order, and good government. I do not desire to be unfriendly to honorable members opposite, or to make them downhearted, but. I would inform them that the whole of the men responsible for that legislation have disappeared from the political world. In Victoria, during a time of crisis, when the trade unionists were endeavouring to better their conditions, and to obtain a few extra shillings a week, they were assailed by the members of the judiciary and of the legislature, and a special measure was introduced in the State House by Sir William Irvine. Where is that legislation to-day? It has gone the way of all legislation that does not meet with the approval of the people. Puppets range themselves on the Government benches, and for a little while enjoy the power and responsibility of the government of this country, but they stoop to tactics that bring discredit to the fair name of Australia, and are gone. Honorable members behind the Government know that this legislation will make trouble, but they care not, since it is to be used as a political war-cry. If the deportation of our citizens is to be the election battle-cry, we are prepared, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, 10 accept it. There is a responsibility placed upon all governments, and a very grave responsibility, too. The very fact that a State Government, representative of the people, takes the extreme step of refusing to act for the Federal Government in this matter, should give those who are supporting it cause for serious reflection before bringing the powers of the State and the Commonwealth into conflict. What would be the result of such a quarrel ? It would mean that the whole force of a sovereign State would be pitted against the power and laws of the Commonwealth. If there is a responsibility upon the State of New South Wales, there is a -greater responsibility upon the Commonwealth Government. It should not precipitate a crisis merely to further its political desires. This legislation goes further than the appointment of a sergeant and a couple of constables. I, for one, am not prepared to allow the Government to pass legislation which may bring about a crisis between State and Commonwealth. Is the whole of the brains of this country on the front benches opposite? Is no section of this community to be represented other than the wealthy? The deportation provisions of the Immigration Act are class legislation, and aim exclusively at the representatives of the trade unions of this country. It is doubtful whether the Government, by introducing this legislation, will achieve the object that it has in view. It would be pitiable to deport citizens of perhaps 30 or 40 years’ residence in this country for inciting a strike, when another man, guilty of the same offence, would be allowed to go scot-free. If I cause a strike I cannot be deported, because I am an Australianborn citizen;, but if another causes a strike, he may be deported if he is not Australian-born. When a. Government sanctions such an anomaly, it makes one doubt its fitness to govern this country. I entirely agree with the declaration made by the Premier of New South Wales. He made it, fully realizing the responsibility of his action. His Cabinet and the whole Labour movement of Australia are behind him. When the Labour movement stands behind the action of the Premier of New South Wales, it shows clearly that the majority of the people are also behind it. This fact must not be lost sight of by honorable members opposite. The Prime Minister to-day endeavoured to introduce the old communist cry. At the beginning of federation it was the usual method of tory politicians to use a bogy. Many, weird, and various were the bogys which were brought to light by those who then led the reactionary forces of Australia. At one election the cry of the tory forces was the socialistic tiger. When that was battered, torn, worn, and useless, it was decided that the members of the Labour party were advocates of free love, were out to destroy the home life and the marriage tie. They were accused of all kinds of ridiculous, foolish, and futile things. That cry was short-lived and unsuccessful. The Prime Minister and his supporters from, time to time, following the lead of the conservative newspapers, have used the communist bogy. We are quite prepared to meet them on that bogy, if it is to be another of their election battle-cries. The Australian Labour movement has made its attitude quite clear. The Prime Minister, in a burst of patriotism, threatens to send our undesirable citizens to England. Where are .we drifting ? What a ridiculous and fatuous thing it would be for this Government, because it could not control its citizens, to select two, three, or four of them, and to send them to England. If these men are not sufficiently good for Australia, surely we would be playing England rather a dirty trick to send them there. Where is the patriotism of the Government when it, proposes to send our alleged undesirable citizens to England, a country that it professes to hold in reverence, and whose example it says we can follow with great profit to ourselves? The strike now in progress is essentially the British seamen’s own concern. It is their protest against a reduction in wages which brings their remuneration down to a starvation pittance. Under the new conditions a seaman who has to maintain a wife and three or four children in England on £9 a month cannot send home more than £2 per week. The men have decided that they will not accept this reduction from the Inchcape combine. Honorable members know per- fectly well that 90 per cent. of the British shipping that comes to Australia is controlled by the Inchcape combine. Is there one of us whp will have the hardihood to justify this reduction of £1 per month - which will make the payment of some of the seamen £9 instead of £10 per month?
– Their hours of work have also been increased.
– Every grade of the service has been reduced, and not one honorable member who has a semblance of love of fair play can justify it. This bill provides for the establishment of a police force, and, like another measure we recently had before us, it indicates that the Government lacks the courage to state its intentions openly. It is really camouflaged legislation. We recently passed an immigration bill, but its immigration provisions have not been put into operation. It was never intended that they should he. They were merely a blind, or, so to speak, a sugar coat to the deportation provisions. There is not an act on our statute-book that has the word “ deportation “ in its title, and the Government had not the courage to describe the so-called immigration bill as a deportation bill. Possibly it thought that the people of Australia would not realize its significance if it was incorrectly named. The purpose of this bill is to establish a police force for arresting and placing before a tribunal certain citizens of this country. It purports to provide for the appointment of officers to administer the laws of the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear!
– Although the honorable member for Swan says, “hear, hear,” he is not so unsophisticated as to think that this police force will he used to administer the whole of our laws. He knows it is being created for the sole purpose of facilitating the deportation of certain citizens. It is before us under false pretences. It is called a peace bill, but it ought to be called a war bill. These officers are to be appointed to do the dirty political work of this Government, which no State Government would do. I wish the Government well in its endeavour to “ put over “ this political stunt, but I believe that before the uniforms for these officers are made the need for their appointment will have vanished. It will be a Gilbertian force of the same calibre as that appointed by the Eight Hon. W. M. Hughes during his panicky and hysterical reign as Prime Minister. Without desiring to hurt the Prime Minister’s feelings, I direct his attention to the fact that the Eight Hon. W. M. Hughes is politically dead and gone. A board has been appointed, and, no doubt, we shall have this police force. It is about the twelfth board that this Government has appointed.
– The Government has appointed far more than that.
– And every one has been of a political nature. The appointees have been selected by the Nationalist party. They are either permanent members or officers of the party. The three men that have been appointed on this board occupy positions in the Nationalist party or some political organization which supports the Government.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I defy the honorable member to prove otherwise. What justice can we expect from men like these? They will undoubtedly take a biased view of every case that is put before them. They were appointed through their political organizations and not through the department with which they will be connected.
– That is not so.
– I assert without fear of truthful contradiction that this is neither more nor less than a political body. Its members are - Algernon Stratford Canning, of Sydney; Frederick James Kindon, of Sydney, accountant; and Norman de Home Rowland, of
Sydney, barrister. People who have been 25 or 30 years resident in the Gammonwealth will be’ tried by this board, although it is a political organization without a single judicial attribute. We have, indeed, come to a pretty political pass when the Government cannot find a solitary member of the judiciary of this country to act on a board it proposes to appoint. I venture to say there is not a judge or a magistrate in Australia who would do the dirty political work that the Prime Minister wants done. No self-respecting judge would think of it. It cannot be controverted that the board is hopelessly political.
– That is not so.
– It is. The members are appointees of the Nationalist party, and I defy the honorable member for Warringah to disprove it.
– They are not.
– I must ask the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) not to interject, and particularly not to do so from the government bench.
– It is before a board of this character that the presidents and secretaries of our trade unions may have to appear. I have not the slightest doubt that these gentlemen were specifically asked before their appointment whether they would be willing to convict in the cases that may come before them. They were asked through their political organizations.
– They were not.
– I have only this to say in conclusion. We are being asked to pass panic legislation. Such legislation has been passed periodically by different types and conditions of men, ever since the inception of parliamentary government. Usually vested interests are behind it. It is usually against the working class. But sooner or later the enactments entirely disappear. I have no doubt that the Gilbertian police force that will be constituted by this more or less Gilbertian bill, will very soon pass away, together with the Government responsible for it.
.- The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) made what to my mind was an extraordinary speech. He first levelled a virulent charge against the board which has been created. He said its three members were members of the National League, and he challenged honorable members on this side to disprove his statement. It is usual, I think, when an honorable member makes a statement of that nature, for him to accept the responsibility of proving it. He should not ask honorable members opposed to him to disprove his statement before he is willing to accept their denial. Of course, I do not know whether these members of the board belong to, the National League or not, but I do know-
– The honorable member knows all about them.
– He knows their political views better than I do.
– I have knowledge of only one of the members, and that is the chairman, Mr. Canning. All that I can tell the House is that he was appointed senior police magistrate in Perth in 1914, and the appointment was made by a Labour Government.
– That is quite right, and the honorable member also knows the political opinions he has held since 1914.
– I do not know that he has been interested in politics in any way, but he has been chairman of several boards appointed in Western Australia to deal with industrial disputes, and his name ranks high amongst unionists in that State. Honorable members have no right to make rash charges without any knowledge of the circumstances. I happen to know of the work of this gentleman in a judicial capacity. He was appointed, as I have said, by a Labour Government, and the way he carried out his duties was appreciated. His decisions when he was chairman of the boards appointed to deal with industrial disputes were not- challenged by either party. I object to the wild statements that have been made in the House.
– It is a political move, and the honorable member is standing behind it.
– The honorable member for Darling has already spoken.
– And he was not at all careful of the statements he made. One thing that surprised me was the great concern expressed both by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Darling for this Government and their fear that it might, by passing this legislation, do something which would bring it into popular disfavour, and destroy its chance of being returned with a majority in the next Parliament. Why this great fear on the part of the honorable memhoi’s ? Why are honorable members opposite so anxious that the Government and the party behind it shall not do something that will lead to its destruction? It is most astounding that our opponents should adopt this attitude. I ask the Leader of the Opposition why this great sympathy is now being shown when it has never been displayed before?
– I have always had sympathy with the honorable member.
-Surely he is not anxious that we may be prevented from making a slip which may enable his party to obtain political control?
– If I saw the honorable member slipping into a river I would certainly stop him if I could.
– It is a slippery path that the honorable member is treading at the present time, and he is in danger of slipping into the river himself by reason of his inactivity. But this Government has made up its mind as to the course it will pursue, and I hope that it will cross the river. If it does, I am sure that the public will appreciate its action. To quote again, the honorable member for Darling, after telling us that we were wrong, denounced this measure as a dirty political trick.
– It is a dirty political trick.
– The honorable member is not repentant.
– Not at all.
– Neither am I.
– I do not admire the honorable member’s choice of language. But what measures are ever brought before this Parliament that are not political in character? Rarely is a proposal brought forward that has no political aspect. This measure certainly is political to the extent that the Government desires to do something that it considers will be for the good of Australia.
– Then the party opposite should not appoint judicial tribunals having a political colour.
– I dealt in the honorable member’s absence with the personnel of the board. . We have heard many statements to-night in regard tothe attitude of the State Government which has made this bill necessary. I doubt whether there are many honorable members opposite - and this is where the political aspect comes in again - who are not unificationists. and believe that the Commonwealth Parliament should be supreme in all matters; that instead of the States retaining their sovereign rights these should be transferred to the Commonwealth. I believe that I am correct in saying that nine out of every ten honorable members opposite are unificationists at heart, and would do all they could to advance that principle.
– We are all pledged to unification.
– If honorable members opposite believe in unification, how can they reconcile their support of the action of the State Governments who refuse to assist to carry out the laws of the Commonwealth ? The Federal Constitution is the most liberal in the world. Every person over the age of 21 years has a right to vote.
– What about giving the people a chance to vote on this matter?
– I do not know that the honorable member will be in order in discussing the Constitution.
– I merely wish to point out that any Commonwealth legislation must have the sanction of a majority of the members of the Parliament, and that they are elected on the broadest franchise. If honorable members opposite were in control, they would bring forward legislation of a political character, and when it was passed into law they would naturally assume that the various State Governments would assist in carrying it into effect, no matter how much they objected to it. In fact, legislation to which there has been grave objection has been enacted in the past, hut constitutional methods for the purpose of having those laws altered have been chosen in preference to revolutionary methods. If this Parliament, by a solid majority, sees fit to pass certain legislation, honorable members opposite, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, should help to maintain the supremacy of this Parliament under the powers granted to it by the Constitution. Yet we. have the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Labour party acclaiming to the credit of the Government of New South Wales its refusal to allow legislation of this Parliament to be put- into operation.
– Why did not the Government appoint Federal judges?
– Honorable members opposite profess to believe in constitutional methods, but why do they not come into the open and tell the House plainly whether they want constitutional or revolutionary methods? Do they mean to say that they approve of the actions witnessed in this country during the past few months, or even the past two years? Do they believe in the control exercised in connexion with certain organizations in Australia by which the law has been defied, not once, but time after time? Let the Leader of the Opposition say frankly, whether he endorses that action or not. A statement has been made by the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang) denouncing this action, and there was an announcement by the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) a couple of days ago that the public knew his opinion of Mr. Walsh and his associates. Honorable members opposite know perfectly well that it is action of the kind at which this legislation is aimed that is bringing destruction on the trade union movement, and on the industries of this country. They are well aware that what has been done is bringing discredit upon themselves and their party.
– Those men ought to be amenable to the laws of Australia.
– Yes ; and are our laws not Australian?
– Why do honorable members opposite want to deport them?
– Honorable members ought to Accept the decision of this Parliament.
– This Parliament should not have the opinion of the party opposite thrust down its throat.
– Honorable members must respect the call of the Chair.
– We should uphold the decision of the Parliament as constituted for the time being. Honorable members are justified in going outside the House, explaining in what respect they consider any legislation to be wrong, and asking that constitutional steps be taken to - alter it. But if they say that because they do not agree with legislation passed by this Parliament, it should not be carried into effect, they are acting in accord with the revolutionary ideals of certain persons outside. I am entitled to voice my opinion outside the House, but I do not ask people to defy the laws of the country as honorable members opposite apparently would. There is one other matter of perhaps a little greater significance. On many occasions we have heard honorable members opposite sing their song known as “ Solidarity.” It is a. good plan to demand solidarity, and adopt the slogan “follow your leaders.” The party opposite has a great organization. Trade unionists are expected to obey the instructions of the officials of their organizations. It is demanded of them on every occasion, and those who refuse to obey are bitterly denounced. But what has happened in the case of the British seamen’s dispute? Is there any union in Australia to . compare with the British seamen’s union for strength of organization?
– It is rather awkward when two leaders are leading in opposite directions.
– Yes. The British seamen’s union is one of the largest organizations in the world. For years it has been able to carry on its affairs in connexion with a big industry without any serious industrial trouble. Are not honorable members opposite acting like those whom they denounce? Are they to be amongst the men whom they call “ scabs “ and “ blacklegs,” who refuse to follow the instructions authorized by the majority of the members of their organization, who -will not have solidarity when it comes a matter affecting that big union in Great Britain? Are honorable members opposite supporting one or two persons in Australia in dictating that the leaders of that union are not to be followed, and that they should be disloyal to their union? Are -we to permit a few officers here whose record shows that they are trying to. lead the community to ruin and destruction to defy the law I Are these men to control the members of the British union in Australian waters? These British seamen are the very men who, a short time ago, were not permitted to join the Australian union, which proudly claimed as members, brown, black, and brindle. That is the question honorable members opposite ought to answer. Do honorable members opposite advise members of that great seamen’s organization to flout their leaders? If they do, what answer can they give to those who advise members of Australian organizations to flout their leaders ? I do not think a finer thing could have been done by the Prime Minister than when he suggested to the Leader of the Opposition, “Here is your opportunity.”
– If the Prime Minister had done what I did in the previous strike, and have been doing in this strike, a settlement would have been reached quickly. If ever a man fell down on his job, he is the Prime Minister.
– Greater nonsense 1 have never heard in my life. What happened in Fremantle early this year? Where was the Leader of the Opposition then?
– In England.
– Was the Opposition left without a leader? We know quite well that there was a deputy leader.
– The real facts are that the honorable member was in Australia in Eebruary.
– I was on the water returning to Australia.
– I ask honorable members to refrain from both levity and interruptions in order that the debate may proceed in proper order.
– Some one was leading the Opposition early this year when serious trouble occurred at Fremantle.
– I was coming home at the time, and there was no trouble on my ship. I do not know whether that was due to my being on board.
– Customs and quarantine officers, and even the pilot boat, were not allowed to go out. When a vessel with corn-sacks for the wheat harvest arrived, it was only after special re presentations had been made by the Minister for Agriculture that the agents brought the vessel in without a pilot.
– On a point of order, I should like to ask, Mr. Speaker, what this matter of the pilot service in Western Australia has to do with the bill before the House.
– As I was discussing a matter with the honorable the Assistant Minister, I did not hear the reference of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). I should like the honorable member to connect his remarks more intimately with the hill. I realize that the Prime Minister had to give very extensive reasons for the introduction of the bill, and I have allowed considerable latitude in the debate in consequence. I hope, however, that honorable members will confine themselves as nearly as possible to the issue before the House.
– The bill provides for the appointment of peace officers to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth Parliament. When the Customs and quarantine officers in Fremantle desired to visit ships they were prevented from carrying out their duties. It is essential that the Commonwealth Government should have peace officers if the States will not carry out the laws of the Commonwealth. The pilot service was certainly a State service, and I mention the incident only to show the extreme action taken at that time. The Leader of the Opposition suggests that there was no serious dispute at that time, but honorable members will remember the enormous losses sustained by Tasmania, as well as by Western Australia. The policy of allowing matters to drift has been oon tinned too long. One cannot help admiring the selfsacrificing loyalty of those unionists who, at enormous loss to themselves, are standing behind the strikers. The Government has a sacred duty to perform to see that the laws of the Commonwealth, and, incidentally, the laws of the States, are faithfully observed. I am quite satisfied that the Prime Minister’s suggestion to the Leader of the Opposition-
– I know nothing of an offer The Prime Minister never spoke to me.
– I am referring to a newspaper report of what he said.
– I saw nothing of that nature in a newspaper, and certainly he did not speak to me.
– I think the opinions expressed by Mr. Lang and Mr. Collier are the opinions of many honorable members opposite. It is obvious that honorable members of the Opposition are in a cleft stick. As the Government is taking this action very close to an election, it obviously does not fear the consequences. The only fault I have to find with the Government is that it has waited too long before taking action. I wanted it to act long ago. No person should be permitted to defy the law of the land. Are we going to allow one or two individuals to put themselves above the law of the land, and to say that they will do what they like?
– No; but they ought to be proceeded against in the ordinary courts of the country.
– The Leader of the Opposition has not denounced the attitude of these agitators. He has not gone among the Labour organizations and told them that- this policy can end only in chaos and injury to the workers.
– The honorable member has not the slightest idea of what I have done.
– I have a lot of confidence in the Leader of the Opposition ; but if instead of. speaking in the secrecy of his own organizations he had pub- licly voiced his disapprobation, he would have won the popularity that the Prime Minister is winning to-day. If he will show to the people of this country that he is prepared to take steps to administer the laws of the Commonwealth without fear or favour, whether the persons concerned are representatives of large organizations or are rich or poor members of the community, the people will respect him. Now that the Government has taken the matter in hand I hope it will not falter. Its honour is at stake. The peace, order, and good government of Australia must be upheld, no matter what the cost. The Government cannot allow any man, woman, or organization to defy the law. The people who have led this strike have said that they are above the law.
– The British seamen have not said that.
– I am speaking of those who are making dupes of the British seamen. If the honorable member was doing his duty he would put it to them that they are being duped. I join most heartily with the Prime Minister in passing this legislation.
Declaration of Urgency.
Mr.BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [8.30]. - I declare this bill an urgent measure.
Question- That the bill be considered an urgent bill- put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows : -
for the second reading of the billuntil 12 midnight on Friday, 28th August, 1925;
for the committee stage of the bill to the end of clause 3 - until 4 a.m. on Saturday, 29th August, 1925;
for the committee stage of the bill to the end of clause 6- until 6 a.m. on Saturday, 29th August, 1925;
for the committee stage of the bill to the end of clause 9 - until 7 a.m. on Saturday, 29th August, 1925;
for the remaining stages of the bill - until 8 a.m. on Saturday, 29th August, 1925.
The bill under consideration is of great importance, and it is essential that it should be passed because of circumstances which have arisen, and which I have already emphasized. I am sure that honorable members will not curtail the period they will have for the discussion of the measure by debating this motion which allots the time for the consideration of its various stages. I am sure that honorable members will agree with me that the time allotted for the different stages of the bill is fair and reasonable; and therefore -
– I move -
That the question be now put.
– The honorable member cannot do so.
– I move -
That the Prime Minister be no longer heard.
– I am not prepared to take the motion.
– The time allotted is fair and reasonable, and I am certain that honorable members-
– On a point of order, I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to quote your authority for ruling that it is incompetent for an honorable member to move at this stage either “ That the question be now put,” or, “ That the Right Hon. the Prime Minister be no longer heard.”
– The honorable member for Batman, in rising to a point of order, was evidently not certain whether the motion that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) proposed to submit was “ That the question be now put,” or “That the right honorable the Prime Minister be no longer heard.” In regard to the motion moved by the honorable member for Bourke, honorable members know that the “ guillotine “ and the “ closure “ cannot be applied to the same matter. I am not quite clear what the honorable member for Dalley desired to move, but as the Prime Minis ter was in the middle of a sentence when he rose, I said, not that it was not competent for him to move his motion, but that I was not prepared to take it. If at the proper time he desires to move “ That the right honorable the Prime Minister be no further heard,” I am obliged under the Standing Orders to take the motion.
– I do not wish to do that.
– I am sure honorable members-
Hono-rable members interjecting:
– I should like to hear the Prime Minister occasionally.
– I am quite sure that honorable members will not curtail the period left for the various stages of the discussion of this measure by debating the motion which I have moved.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. SCULLIN (Yarra) [8.451. - When the Prime Minister interrupted the proceedings with his guillotine motion, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) had just resumed his seat. His last words were that the honour of the Government was at stake. With that I entirely agree. The Government will find that before this question is settled whatever political honour it may have had will have been lo3t. The honorable member said that we on this side seemed concerned about the defeat of the Government. We are not. We will welcome its defeat, because we regard it as one of the worst governments that this country has ever had. We are, however, concerned that the Government’s action will mean disaster to many people in this country. Honorable members opposite talk a great deal about the effects of strikes, and of the suffering they cause to men, women, and children, but we on this side know more about that than they do. We have been in th6 fight, and have experienced the struggle of the working classes of the country. I remind honorable members opposite who talk so glibly about the loss and suffering due to strikes that unemployment causes ten times more distress. Yet what have they done to relieve the sufferings of the unemployed? I know that they have done a great deal to create suffering and loss during the last two or three years. They work themselves into a panic whenever a dispute arises, and talk about the suffering of others, yet they do nothing to establish our industries^ or to provide work for the workless. When they speak in this manner they do so with their tongues in their cheeks. They would have us believe that they are in earnest, but if they would prove that earnestness they should make an attempt to deal with the unemployed problem. The honorable member for Swan laid stress upon the necessity for constitutional authority, and the upholding of the law. Every honorable member on this side believes that the law should be upheld; and we want the laws to be so framed that they will be upheld because they are respected by all self-respecting citizens. That is the basis of our objection to the legislation which was passed recently. There is a limit to the endurance of lawabiding, self-respecting citizens. This Government has tried the law-abiding people of this community beyond the limit of endurance. If the laws of this country are disobeyed, the responsibility will lie not with the Opposition, but with the Government, which in the year 1925 brings down legislation that would hardly have been tolerated 500 years ago. The honorable member fox Swan, together with the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral, emphasized the need for upholding the laws of this country, but I remind them that when I stood in my place, supported by honorable members on this side, and urged that the taxation laws of the country should be put into effect, I did not receive their support. There was documentary evidence in existence at the time - it could be laid on the table of the House within ten minutes - to show that for seven years a millionaire aif this country, who is a strong supporter of the Government, defied this country’s laws.
I want to refer to what has been the main contention of the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, and the honorable member for Swan. A bill has been introduced to establish a Commonwealth Peace Force, and the only reason.* for its introduction is that the Labour Government of New South Wales did not accede to the request of the Federal Government to permit one of its Supreme Court Judges to sit upon the board to be appointed to deal with the deportation of Australian citizens. That was the basis of their case for the establishment of a police force and of their attack upon the Labour Government of New South Wales. What has the establishment of a police force to do with the appointment of a judge as a member of this tribunal? There is no connexion between the two; yet it was used as an excuse for a tilt at another Government in order to try to discredit it in the eyes of the people. I remind those honorable members that the New South Wales Government has come fresh from the elections, with a mandate from the majority of the people of the State, which is more than can be said of the present- Federal Government.
– I shall not waste my time in answering that interjection. The facts are on record. We witnessed this afternoon a display by the Prime Minister of anger, petulance and of hurt pride.
– That is most unusual for him.
– It is not. The Prime Minister may place a veneer over it, but it is there. The one thing that stood out among his remarks to-day, and impressed itself upon the minds of his hearers, was that this bill has been introduced because of the refusal of the Premier of New South Wales to do the work of the Federal Government. Every honorable member knows that the Government could have appointed men to do this nasty work without new legislation being introduced, but its introduction has provided the opportunity to try to discredit the New South Wales Labour Government. Let us examine the request of the Federal Government and the answer of the New South Wales Government. The request was that a Supreme Court judge of New South Wales should be appointed to this board. The answer was as courteous as the request. The Premier of New South Wales said that the Federal Government possessed the very machinery to do its own work. I ask the Prime Minister and the members of his Cabinet why they did not use the judges of the High Court instead of asking a State to set aside one of its judges, thus creating a breach between the Federal and State authorities. The Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral should know that one of the most extreme actions that a Federal or a State Government can take is to precipitate a crisis between constituted authorities. Since the beginning of federation in this country there has been but one instance of a similar character - the frenzied act of a frenzied Prime Minister, who, during the frenzied period of war, endeavoured to introduce conscription. There have been instances in other federations; honorable members may remember one striking example that led to one of the greatest civil wars in history. This Government is prepared to precipitate a crisis of that nature because a State Government will not lend one of the members of its judiciary to do work that the Federal Government would not ask its own High Court judges to do. The judges of the High Court should be in a no more rarefied atmosphere than the Supreme Court judges of the States.
– Perhaps they were asked to do the work, and refused.
– In that case, the members of the Government should pour the vials of their wrath upon the High Court judges, and not upon the Government of New South Wales. That Government is just as anxious to keep its judges free from the political atmosphere connected with this board as the Federal Government appears to be to keep its High Court judges free. By its refusal to use its own judges the Government is guilty of the very offence for which it blames the Government of New South Wales. The Government, disregarding the possible consequences, has been prepared to precipitate a clash between the biargest State of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth itself.. The responsibility rests upon the Federal Government. In view of what has taken place, all the talk of the honorable member for Swan as to the supremacy of the nation over the State goes by the board. I believe in the supremacy of the Federation, but while the States have sovereign powers, those sovereign powers should be respected. What is all this trouble about, and what is the necessity to appoint special police, and to cause a clash with, another Government? It is all due to the fact that half-a-dozen boats are held up in the ports of Australia. There have been industrial disputes in Australia before which were greater than the one existing to-day. The present dispute is not even an Australian dispute. . Some seamen on British boats, rightly or wrongly, have left their boats, and have asked an Australian union for support in their fight against a reduction of their wages. Will any honorable member contend that even without that reduction in wages those men would be adequately remunerated? I shall not proceed further with that aspect of the question, or refer to the reason for this display of force by the Government. One would think, from the inspired articles in the press, that a civil war was pending. An attempt is being made to create the impression that there is a communistic rising in Australia, and that the Labour party is behind it. Any one with any knowledge of recent events, and possessed of common sense, can see through all this camouflage. There is only one thing behind this panic legislation. It has been introduced because this Government is desperate. It sees in its three years of administration a long black record, and its members and supporters are afraid to appeal to the electors. They have, therefore, taken the gambler’s chance, and introduced this legislation. From the inspired paragraphs which we read daily in our newspapers, it would appear that four men are supposed to have misled 2,000 British seamen. No move to touch the men who have actually left their work is contemplated, although under the law the British ship-owners could proceed against them, as has been done in New Zealand. Action of that kind would not help the Government politically, and it would have no significance at the next election. The British seamen are therefore left alone, and the Government proposes to place its hands upon four Australian citizens who have lived half a lifetime in this country, and raised families here. These men will be treated as aliens and deported from our shores. While they talk of constitutional methods and a respect for law, and condemn strikes, I say that honorable members opposite are guilty of direct action by their proposal to deport men whom, for the sufficient reason that they cannot prove them guilty of any offence, they dare not bring before any judicially constituted court in Australia. If these men can be proved guilty of an offence, why is it not done? These Australian citizens should be dealt with in Australia, instead of being deported from the country. The Prime Minister says, “ See .what these men have done. Look at the position in which we find ourselves.” What is it? As I said before, there are half a dozen boats tied up. The right honorable gentleman said that he had asked the Leader of the Opposition to do something.
– That is not correct.
– The Leader of the Opposition says that that is not correct, and we are told that the Prime Minister published in the newspapers that he wished the honorable gentleman to do something. This is the course adopted by this model of courtesy. He wanted the Leader of the Opposition to do something, and instead of asking him per sonally to do it he makes a statement through the newspapers that he wishes that he would do something. I remind the right honorable gentleman that when a few weeks ago we were on the verge of a seamen’s strike, which eventually did take place, the Leader of the Opposition asked him to approach the shipowners, promising that he would himself approach the other side, with a view to bringing them together. When the Prime Minister was asked by the representatives of trade unions to intervene at a time when Australia was threatened with a serious strike, what was his answer? It was “No.” Then he went down to a fashionable club and made a speech, in which he said, “It will be a fight to a finish.” All through the piece it was shown that the Government did not want the good order about which it mouths so much to-day. That would not suit its book. If it was industrial peace the Government desired, it could get it. The little trouble which exists to-day, owing to the action of British seamen, will probably disappear next week or the week after, and let me warn the Government, with a full sense of my responsibility as a public man and a member of this House, and with 20 years’ knowledge of industrial movement in Australia, that if it dares to put into operation the deportation law against men whose only offence has been to try to assist men who are fighting for better wages, it will precipitate one of the greatest industrial crises that this country has ever known. It will rally round the men it condemns to-day all that is best in the trade union movement in Australia, not because everything those men have done is approved, but on the principle that men should have the right to take part in an industrial struggle without being penalized by deportation from the land in which they have lived for many years. The Prime Minister said that these men have defied the trade unions of Australia. The “ sacred principle “ of trade unionism has been assailed, and because of that the Prime Minister rushes to the rescue, and all the forces behind the Government are eager to save trade unionism from these people who are defying it! Does the Government expect reasonable people to believe that it is in earnest in making a statement of thath kind ? We know its history and record, and the history and record of those behind it. the great forces of the Employers’ Federation, Flinderslane, the banking and commercial institutions, and the whole of the tory press that is backing it. We know that none of these forces has ever fought for trade unionism. They have never fought for active and militant trade unions. Their idea of a trade union is one that will do what the bosses tell it. When we are told by honorable members opposite that they are putting into operation the machinery of government and the forces of the law to punish men because they have committed the crime of defying the trade unions, we say that they are talking with their tongues in their cheeks, and we cannot accept their statement. We know that they have been driven by the powers behind them, the moneyed interests outside, who wish to strike a blow at trade unionism in this country and at the whole of the Labour political organizations. If there is anything manifest to thinking men and women in this country, it is that the present Government is politically doomed. .A Labour Government is coming. It can be seen on the horizon, and the present Government must .do something to divert public attention. It is trying to do so by these means. How much it regrets the opportunity lost when the seamen’s strike was on. We know how the Nationalist press criticized the Prime Minister for his great failure. We know how enraged the right honorable gentleman was when Admiral Clarkson signed an agreement with the men of the Commonwealth Line which had much to do in bringing about a settlement of the seamen’s, strike. We know how annoyed he was when the Leader of the Opposition, with other able men in the trade union movement, brought about peace where there had been industrial war. Did honorable members opposite congratulate the Leader of the Opposition or the Disputes Committee of the Trades Hall upon the result of their efforts ? Was there one generous word uttered by the Prime Minister concerning the action of those who saved the country from the turmoil of a serious industrial crisis? Not a word. The Government refused to intervene when asked to do so by the representatives of the union and by the Leader of the party on this side, and yet’ it pretends to-day to be taking action in order to bring about industrial peace. Do honorable members opposite imagine that the transportation for life of three or four men will end this business? No one more deeply regrets the occurrence of industrial disputes than do the members of the Labour party. No one has fought harder or longer to establish machinery for the peaceful settlement of such disputes, and no one has done more for maintenance of industrial peace in Australia than the organized unions of the political Labour movement. When honorable members opposite talk about stirring up strife, and ask the Leader of the Opposition to be always on the platform, as leader of the Labour party, denouncing labour leaders, I ask them how many times they have mounted the platform to denounce the stirrers up of strife amongst the employers in this country. When have they tried to restrain employers in order to maintain industrial peace ? We on this side believe in arbitration and the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, but we know that such disputes will occur from time to time, and we cannot take away from men the right to refuse employment under conditions that are hateful to them. To return to the main question, because time is limited and other members desire to speak, I ask the Government- to take warning, and not to set their authority in conflict against the authority of an independent State and ite Government of able and sincere men who represent the people. The Commonwealth Government is buying into a very serious conflict, and is doing so because the Premier of New South Wales and his Government refused to lend their judges and officers to do the dirty work which the Federal Government wanted them to do.
.- Many members of the Opposition appear to be very much concerned about the future welfare of the Government. They have in their addresses warned the Government against the disaster which will overtake it if it passes this legislation. It is interesting to find such concern for the continuance of the Government manifested by the Opposition. At the same time that honorable members on this side are told that they are ruining themselves and that the Government will inevitably be driven from office, as the result of legislation of this kind, members of the Opposition charge the Government with introducing this legislation for political purposes. That, in the circumstances, can only be regarded as a charge of in-sanity against the Government. The matters dealt with in the bill are simple, but the principle which it represents is very important. It is the principle that the laws of the Commonwealth shall be maintained and put into operation and that their enforcement shall not be dependent upon the will of any one or any Government that is nob responsible to this Parliament. That is a sound principle.
– Except that the AttorneyGeneral has already said that that is not so, there is nothing wrong about the honorable member’s statement.
– The AttorneyGeneral has pointed out that, under the Constitution, laws passed by this Parliament are binding upon all people in Australia, and upon all the States of Australia.
– Provided that they are constitutional.
– Just so. I propose to say something on the question whether a law for the appointment of a. force of police officers is constitutional or not. Laws passed by this Parliament in pursuance of its powers are binding upon the courts, judges, and people of every State of the Common wealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State. These are the words of covering section 5 of the Constitution. There are means of enforcing the laws against the people, in the courts, but there are no means of compelling the States to carry out duties which are constitutional rather than legal. Accordingly if a State is not prepared to itself obey and assist in enforcing the paramount laws of Australia, that is to say, laws made by this Parliament, then it is necessary for this Parliament, in the discharge of its responsibility to the people of Australia, to provide means for the enforcement and execution of its laws. If the States refuse to do the work, then this Parliament must take the necessary steps to have it done. As the Attorney-General has pointed out. it is intolerable that the enforcement of any laws of this Parliament should be de pendent upon the will of any one or more States. As the honorable gentleman has already shown, one State might say that a particular law is repugnant to it, and it will not therefore enforce it within its territory. Another State might object to some other Commonwealth law, and if such a condition of affairs were permitted to arise and continue, the administration of the law would be impossible. I should have thought that, on the principle of the maintenance and execution of the laws of the Commonwealth, all members of this House would be at one. It is true that we have varying opinions of different laws of the Commonwealth. I think some of them are bad laws. Other honorable members regard other laws of the Commonwealth as bad laws; but it is a principle of our constitutional existence that all Commonwealth laws, because they are Commonwealth laws, shall be obeyed and enforced. The alternative to the enforcement of Commonwealth laws is that the Commonwealth, instead of being a governing authority, should become a sort of advisory body to the States. It would have to go cap in hand to the States and say, “ Are you prepared to put into force within your boundaries this law which the Parliament of Australia has passed?” That is an impossible position., When a law has been passed by this Parliament, it is the law of Australia, whether it is approved by any State Government or not. Up to the stage of the passing of a law, it is a question, of politics, but. after a law has been enacted it is then a question of the maintenance of government. And all parties, those at present in power and any party that may come into power in the future, should be united in insisting upon the enforcement of the laws made by this Parliament. The proper course to take with respect to an objectionable law is to convince the people that it is bad. get into power, and then repeal it.
– To what Commonwealth law has the New South Wales Government refused to give effect ?
– I have already said that covering section 5 of the Constitution provides that the laws made by this Parliament shall be binding upon the people of Australia, and of all the State; but whereas they can be enforced against the people by prosecution or other legal action, they cannot be enforced, in some cases, against the States. Therefore, the State’s duty is in these cases constitutional rather than legal, and upon the Commonwealth devolves the obligation of providing its own means of enforcing its laws. The amending Immigration Act, around which most of the discussion to-day has revolved, is as much a law of the Commonwealth as is any other statute upon our books. The Leader of the Opposition has declared that if certain unnamed men havecommitted offences they should be dealt with under “ the law of the land.” The proclamation by the Government of the existence of a serious industrial disturbance was in itself a step towards putting the law of the Commonwealth into operation; if individuals are summoned before a board, that will be a further step in the same direction, as also will be any later proceedings upon the recommendation of that board. Honorable members opposite seem to contend that all other statutes are laws of the Commonwealth, but the amending Immigration Act is not one. That argument is too ridiculous to be seriously defended. The Premier of New South Wales has declared that there is a doubt concerning the validity of that particular act. I have had too much experience to guarantee the validity of any act until the High Court has positively pronounced to that effect. Sometimes Unexpected results accrue from litigation, and a provision which has long stood unchallenged is declared to be unconstitutional. I have had personal experience of judicial decisions which, to say the least, were unexpected. Accordingly, one can do no more than express his own opinion, the worth of which depends upon his experience, the amount of consideration he has given to the subject, and the material at his disposal. It happens that in regard to the constitutional question now under discussion, quite a lot of material is available. Not long ago, in what is popularly known as “the Irish envoys’ case,” the validity of section 8a of the Immigration Restriction Act was challenged. That section provided that persons not born in Aiistralia, but arriving in Australia, might within three years of their arrival be deported if they did certain things, and the particular dis qualifying circumstances alleged in the Irish envoys’ case was that certain persons had “ advocated the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State.” The Irish envoys were brought before a board, on whose recommendation the Minister signed an order for their deportation. The validity of the act was challenged on various grounds, and one of them was that it purported to authorize the deportation of British subjects, which the Irish envoys undoubtedly were. But the court overruled the objection, and held that the self-governing attributes of any British Dominions included the right to exclude from their territories British subjects of other communities of the Empire. I quote from Volume 32 of the Commonwealth Law Reports, page 531 -
To this extent the British subject’s right to enter freely into any part of the King’s Dominions may bo modified by statute law. It is not, and cannot be, disputed that the right unrestricted at common law of all British subjects wherever bom outside Australia to enter the Commonwealth is made subject to the provisions of the act. Where their physical or moral conditions would constitute them a public peril they are excluded, no allowance being made for their common nationality.
Therefore, the amending Immigration Act, which has been discussed to-day, is not invalid, by reason of the fact that it authorizes the deportation of British subjects. But it has been said that the Government cannot under legislation relating to immigration, deport a person who has ‘settled in Australia and made his home here, even though’ that person was uot Australian-born. Upon that point Mr. Justice Isaacs was very clear and definite -
Except in the case of a person Australianborn, who having abandoned this country as his home, is re-admitted and so restored to his original status, an “ immigrant “ - that is, a person whose original home was elsewhere, and who comes into this country for any purpose - remains an ” immigrant “ as long as he is in Australia. As to him, while in Australia the rule holds “ once an immigrant, always an immigrant,” . and the parliamentary power is never abandoned, and cannot be abandoned.
In the judgment in this case four judges of the High Court concurred. It will be seen, therefore, that theHigh Court has already held that if a person who was not born in Australia enters Australia as an immigrant, the Australian Parliament can legislate for his deportation hy reference to either his physical or moral quai?.-: ties. I hope that that statement meets the objections which have been raised in this debate to the validity of the amending Immigration Act.
In regard to the bill now before the House, the same questions have arisen in America as are now arising here in regard to the execution of the Federal law. It was argued in America that the Federal legislature could only pass laws and leave to the States the responsibility of putting them in operation, and that Congress had no power to authorize persons to use physical force for the purpose of giving effect to its laws. Upon that point the Supreme Court of the United States of America in a wellknown case held -
We hold it to he an incontrovertible principle that the Government of the United States of America may, by means of physical force, exercised through its official agents, execute on every foot of American soil the powers and functions that belong to it.
Similarly, the Government of the Commonwealth is entitled, and, indeed, bound to execute upon every foot of Australian soil all powers and functions that belong to it. Therefore, from a constitutional point of view, there can be no objection to this legislation.
– Cannot the Commonwealth enforce its laws without passing special legislation?
– Before a person can be appointed to any office which does not exist, it is necessary to create that office, and provide money for it in the regular manner. If the Government had attempted to appoint, “off its -own bat,” as it were, without consulting this Parliament, a police force, the objections of honorable members opposite would have been even more vigorous than they have been to-day. Some of them have asked, “ “Why not appoint a Federal judge to the board “? The board is not a judicial body in the sense of exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth. The Federal judges are appointed for the purpose of exercising that judicial power, which the Constitution declares is vested in the High Court, and in such judges as are appointed by the Commonwealth, and in such courts as are invested with Federal jurisdiction. The amending Immigration Act requires tthat one member of the board shall be a person of past or present judicial experience. Judges of the High Court should be restricted to their constitutional functions in exercising the judicial powers of the Commonwealth, and in the immigration case from which I have quoted, the High Court held that the board before whom the Irish envoys appeared, was not exercising any judicial power of the Commonwealth. That is a first and sufficient answer to the suggestion that a judge of the High Court could have been appointed to that board. It has been stated in the House by the Leader of the Opposition that any proceedings taken because of a recommendation of this board would be challenged at every stage, and that every possible legal objection would be raised. It is not for me, from a professional point of view, to raise an objection to such an admirable course, whatever I may think of it politically. I should not approve of such action from a political point of view.
– The honorable member may have to defend these men.
– If I were honoured with that duty I should do my best for them. If the exercise of the power were challenged, it would be for the High Court to determine the matter. There are various sound reasons for not seeking to place a member of the High Court bench upon this board. The board only makes a recommendation, and it is for the Minister to act upon it if he thinks fit. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), speaking of some Australian residents who have very obviously been engaged in fomenting shipping trouble, said that they were men whose only offence was that they were trying to get better conditions for the workers. Does the honorable member for Yarra approve of what these men are doing? If he approves of their methods, it is difficult for him to maintain at the same time that he believes in arbitration and other constitutional methods of settling disputes.
– I disapprove of these men being deported for their actions. I ask the honorable member not to evade the point.
– The honorable member .for Yarra, I understand, is not prepared to say whether he warmly supports (he Australian residents to whom I have referred.
– The honorable member wants me to do what the Prime Minister did - judge these men before they receive a hearing.
– What is taking place is perfectly plain. If any persons are summoned before this board, nothing further can be done unless the board recommends their deportation upon the ground, in substance, that they are a danger to Australia. There is no judgment in advance at all. The board considers the evidence and makes a recommendation, and then the Minister has the responsibility of taking action. There is no judgment in advance in this case, any more than in any case where men are served with a summons. I ask honorable members to consider the present position. Here we have a considerable number of British ships held up in Australian ports. British trade has been stopped, while foreign vessels are getting the freight. The Leader of the Opposition, for some reason, which he has not condescended to put before the House, claims that he had something to do with the settlement of the last shipping strike. One is always willing to learn; but I happen to know something, in common with other citizens of this country, about the settlement of the last strike. We know that many conferences were held in Melbourne between the shipowners and the representatives of the seamen, and that the settlement was worked out at those conferences.
– What about the negotiations that led up to the conferences?
– It is quite impossible, as the Leader of the Opposition well knows, to lay down any general rule for the settlement of industrial disputes. Sometimes it is a very good thing for politicians, and even for statesmen like the Prime Minister, to keep aloof from them. The settlement of the dispute was reached at conferences between the employers and the seamen, and what hastened the settlement was the fact that the Government had shown in this House that it was determined to govern the country. This produced a profound change in the psychology of the situation, because it was recognized that the people of Australia as a whole were behind the action of the Government. It was be cause- of that change in the atmosphere, and probably because the matter was left in the hands of the parties themselves, and others were kept out of it, that there was a settlement. This particular dispute when examined is very simple. The British seaman are objecting Jo a reduction of their wages. That is very natural. We sympathize with any one whose wages are being reduced. But it is necessary to consider the circumstances of the case. These men before they left England on their voyage to . Australia had signed articles containing a clause providing for the adjustment of pay. Any one who is familiar at all with shipping practice knows that the articles are read over by the shipping master or an equivalent officer, and explained and expounded to the seamen. It is also known that some of these seamen left England after the date for the reduction in wages had been arranged. The reduction was made in pursuance of the terms of their own agreement by a National Maritime Board representing the unions as well as the employers engaged in the shipping industry. If seamen strike when a reduction is being made in accordance with their own signed word, they break their word and dishonour their own agreement. It is rather singular that men who had signed that agreement left England without striking. Those who sailed recently knew that the reduction was to take place, and the date of it. Yet they did not strike. Many of the vessels en route called at ports such as Aden and Colombo, and no strike occurred there. The vessels called at Melbourne, and there was no strike there, although the seamen knew of the reduction. Then a strike occurred in Sydney. Where did the cause operate that brought about that strike if not at Sydney? It was an Australian cause, and we know perfectly well what it was. There are some persons here who* thought the opportunity a good one for bringing about trouble for reasons of their own. Of course, every one understands the theory: It is that it is not a good thing to have industrial peace; that the proper thing is to have constant- and continual unrest, commotion, and disturbance in order that the “ wage slaves “ may become properly discontented, and always hear the rattling of their chains.
That is the deliberate policy of some persons in Australia. It is not a policy embodied in the legislation of the Commonwealth. It is a policy which the Government is justified in bringing down legislation to defeat. The result of holding up British ships is that the transport of all kinds of produce is suspended. This is really an attack upon Australians of all classes. Our wool and other produce cannot be shipped overseas. These hold-ups greatly reduce the possibility of that reduction in freights which so many Australians,, and particularly those engaged in primary industries, desire, because the suspension of shipping means a very serious loss to the shipowners. This hold-up must fail. These poor, misguided men cannot reap any advantage from their action, because they are party to a world’s agreement, which will not he upset by trouble in this corner of the world. They have been misguided and misled to their own detriment. In the meantime, the trade is going to foreign ships, on which the wages paid are less than those on British ships. Unemployment is thus “being caused, not only among the 2,000 odd British seamen who are left here and hardly able to get a meal, but also among our own people if the strike continues. It is the duty of the Government to protect all classes of the community, because all are equally interested in a contingency such as this. It is rather remarkable that we hear no condemnation of this behaviour from the Opposition. “We hear only aimless generalities, such as the statement that the Labour movement stands for arbitration and for constitutional means of settling disputes. We never hear any definite and personal statement directed at the individuals who are responsible for these unconstitutional stoppages.
– The honorable member is “never heard on the profiteer!
– Tes. I have a motion upon the notice-paper of this House for the enforcement of all Commonwealth laws. All laws should be enforced thoroughly and automatically, apart from and not with regard to politics. It is only the rigid enforcement of law that brings Parliament face to face with realities. Otherwise, Parliament is apt to pass legislation, leaving it on the statute-book without enforcing it, and to live in a fool’s paradise. I am in favour of the enforcement of the Jaws of the Commonwealth, whether they are laws of which I approve or not. If I do not approve of them I shall try to get them altered or repealed by constitutional means, but I shall not say in the meantime that, because I do not approve of them, I shall not obey them. I recognize that along that path lie anarchy and chaos. The position in Australia to-day is that a few men, by misleading others, are controlling effectively many of the activities of the Commonwealth. They are men who cannot get into any Parliament in Australia. They cannot obtain a seat in a single House, Federal or State, and yet they arrogate to themselves, above this Parliament, the right to determine in effect the industrial and political policy of Australia. A small minority such as that should not be allowed to think that they have that power. I approve of this bill, and I. am. not at all inclined to diminish my approval of it because honorable members opposite do not appear to like it. Last year members of the Opposition were very cheerful because they thought they saw political victory within their grasp, but with legislation such as this in view they see that victory slipping from them. At the present time, although they profess so frequently to speak in the name of the people, forgetting that they are only a minority in this House, they fear, for political reasons, the result of legislation such as this. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has charged the Government with bringing this bill in for political reasons. That means that, in their hearts, they know that the majority of the people of Australia support the action of the Government.
.- It is very refreshing for me to rise in this House to address myself to a question with a sense of moderate security, and the feeling that there is a reasonable prospect of the motion “That the question be now put “ not being so put within, say, ten seconds after I have commenced my address. For that, of course, I am duly grateful; I say no more than that. Mr. Deputy Speaker, it has been our privilege to listen to an address by the honorable member for Kooyong-
– I thought that the honorable member would say something about me.
– The honorable member, as usual, flatters himself, assuming in advance that his address was one likely to provoke notice. However, for the moment I take him at his own estimate, and remark that he has just been pouring out a not very palatable stirabout of law and politics, mixed unconvincingly together, half of which is intended to tickle the ears of the groundlings who support him on the floor of the House, the other half being submitted as good law. He attacked the honorable member for Yarra on the ground that that gentleman had complained that the existing laws of the Commonwealth were not put into operation, and went on elaborately to argue that the present proposal represents an attempt to give effect to a Commonwealth law. Now the argument of the honorable member for Yarra still stands. It is a simple statement to this effect: that there being laws on the statute-book, to deal with malefactors in this country- if there are any - those malefactors should be dealt with in the courts of this country according to the established practice and procedure, and not be made the puppets of an indigent political party. The honorable member for Kooyong has favoured us with an. elaborate disquisition on the law as decided by the High Court, and I give him credit for being an authority on those matters when his views are not vitiated by party interests, or perhaps modified by the fact that in this House his brief is not marked so generously as it would be in another place. The honorable member says that, in the, matter known as the Irish envoys case, it was decided by the High Court /that ihe Commonwealth Parliament had ample power to make laws for the deportation of persons such as those. The honorable gentleman seems to draw no distinction between a decision of the High Court as to what we have power to do, and what as political representatives of the people it is right or proper that we should do in Parliament. That is a distinction which should be the more properly and clearly understood, having regard to the fact that we are a Parliament and not a High Court. I come now to consider this bill. It deals with the appointment of a police force.
– A peace force.
– As the honorable member for Moreton has remarked, it is called a peace force. If it was unnecessary to write across this measure the legend “Evident hypocrisy “ it was because, instead of writing that upon it, the Government has chosen to call it, “A bill to create a peace force.” Honorable members will recollect the history of the creation of a police force by the Commonwealth Government. It originated in a well-directed egg thrown at Warwick, in Queensland. It is not for me to say that the projecting of that missile was either according to law or calculated to upholdthe good government of this country.
– It was constitutionally unsound .
– That remark, from the honorable member for Forrest, is distinctly good. We know, at all events, that that was the point of time at which the police force originated. Born as it was in tragedy, and cradled afterwards in derisive laughter, it eventually went to its doom, and there was no one to drop so much as one tear upon its grave to fertilize the green grass growing thereon. That was, we hoped and believed, the end of the Commonwealth Police Force. After that thei’e remained not policemen; not even peace officers. But whenever one called attention to the fact that there were certain suspicious sums set aside in the Estimates for the payment of mysterious officers, he was met with the stereotyped explanation that these were certain officers charged with duties of investigation under the Customs Act. There was none so mean’ on any side of this House as to do homage to the lately departed police force of the Commonwealth. We hoped, and some of us even prayed, that we had seen the last of it, but it is not to be so. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this bill arises out of ; the shipping trouble - a strike. Some few months ago there was acute trouble on the water-front. As one or two honorable members have pointed out, the Labour party, and industrialists outside also, thought that it was one of the many duties of the Prime Minister to grapple with the. matter, and to meet in conference representatives of the men concerned in it. But the Prime Minister took a haughty stand. His mind was made up in advance as to the merits of the case, and he said, in effect, “ You have got into this trouble, and you must get out of it the best way you can. The Government will not interfere.” Others took the matter in hand. The Leader of the Opposition did so, and so did various representative industrialists. While the distinguished right honorable gentleman was threatening, others who understood the situation much better than he did were conciliating. While the right honorable gentleman was making himself a partisan, others were pointing out that industrial troubles of that kind were not to be settled by force, and not to be elided by a display of partisanship. After these negotiations had proceeded for some time, the right- honorable gentleman, pricked on as usual by his press supporters, and the moneyed influences outside that keep him where he is, found it necessary to make a public announcement. He made it known to his press friends that the conference had gone on long enough, and that he was there to guard the interests of the public, in whose interests he had done nothing and was incapable of doing anything. The Prime Minister, having done nothing, and being incapable of doing anything, others eventually brought the strike to an end, and on terms, let me say, that were not altogether disadvantageous to the strikers. Important matters upon which they had insisted were conceded to them, and they came out of this difference with their colours flying and their honour untarnished, establishing beyond all doubt that there was no law of the Commonwealth or a State to compel men to work under conditions or rates of pay that were unacceptable to them. When the right honorable gentleman addressed bis letter of protest to the representatives of th,e seamen, on the one hand, and to Mr. Holloway, the representative of the disputes committee on the other hand, against the delay, he got what he deserved - a snub. Each of these gentlemen said, ‘ ‘ We came to you and offered to accept you as a mediator at the beginning. You refused, and showed yourself a partisan. We will settle this matter in our own time.” And they did so. That was the Prime Minister’s part in the shipping trouble of that time. The only other part he played was on that memorable occasion when some of us were proposing to proceed down Hobson’s Bay to meet the American Fleet. It was rather unkind of the right honorable gentleman, who had an inkling of what was likely to happen, to remain closeted in his office, fearing to go down to the ship that was to take us and board her, because he knew that, having insulted the seamen, they would not convey him. Others, however, ran the risk. The right honorable gentleman had said, “ Our threat of legislation put an end to job control,” but that was an example of joh control he could neither anticipate nor cure. I express no judgment on the merits of that dispute, but I point out that he emerged from it with a very much damaged reputation as a leader and legislator. The present dispute originated in a strike in England, not in Australia. Ships were held up in England before they were held up in Australia, and they are still being held up in England. While British seamen now in Australia were on the water, their wages were reduced from the munificent sum of £10 to £9 a month, and when they reached Australian ports, in protest against this reduction, they did the most natural thing in the world - they conferred with their brother members of the Australian Seamen’s Union, they held meetings, and they unanimously, in their thousands, without any coercion or direction from any Australian seamen’s representatives, caine to a certain decision. We are not for the moment concerned with the merits of the dispute, although the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) would draw us into a discussion of them. But we are concerned with the Commonwealth laws relating to deportation, with which this bill deals. We are not concerned with an involved dispute regarding wages ; that is an industrial matter, and can safely be left to the representatives of industrialists to deal with in their own way, and in their own time. This reduction, then, of £ 10 to £9, is the basis of the national legislation of this Government ! The inspiring slogan of this great Australian party is that it stands for law and order against the men who protest against their wages being reduced from £10 to £9 a month. This is done, moreover, at a time when, according to the figures on the subject-, the value of the ships belonging to the ship-owners concerned, has increased from £170,000,000 to £500,000.000, and after profits as large as the last-named figure have been earned by the companies during the war period. We all know of course, that this is a political move. I am not the first to point that out. I do not wonder that honorable gentlemen opposite, tottering, as they are, upon their last legs, feeling their props falling from them one by one. and seeing the writing on the wall in every State of the Commonwealth, should shake at the knees: nor do I marvel that they should recognize the well-known principle that self-preservation is the first law of nature. When, as at present, there is a little local strike in Sydney, when a’ certain number of British ships are tied up, when a certain limited number of British seamen are out of work, and when our Australian coastal and other shipping services are running unhindered and unimpaired, and while there is no apparent danger of the strike extending, it is pandering a little too much to political necessity to propose, by this measure, to throw the whole of the Commonwealth into chaos, disorder, and disaster. That is what the bill means, and supporters of the Government know it. They also know very well that, although there is a difference of opinion on the merits of this strike, that although there is said to be a difference among members of the Seamen’s Union in Great Britain and Australia on the merits of the question, there is no difference in the trade union movement or the Labour political movement of this country, on the iniquitous proposal to snatch from this country men who are carrying on industrial propaganda on behalf of their own class. They know that we are united on that matter. They complain about our silence on the industrial conflict, but they will find that there will be no silence on this side of the House, or in the industrial world in Australia, on the question of deporting industrial leaders for industrial agitation or advocacy. They will find, if they try to do this thing, that they have bitten off more than they can chew. They will find that we will speak, not only in this House, but also on the platforms outside this House. I shall be one to call upon the Labour Premiers of the States, so far as my voice is of any consequence to them to encourage them as rulers and Australians to use every ounce of power they have within the Constitution of the Commonwealth and its laws to frustrate this iniquitous proposal. The right honorable the Leader of the Government spoke of “ the sacred principles of trade unionism.” He is the gentleman who emerged from Flinders-lane recently with his friends and colleagues grappling with each other for the spoils of the 3tolen woollen mills and other Commonwealth property which they had appropriated, things which were the legitimate property of the people of this country. Having come here, he talks to us of “ the sacred principles of trade unionism.” And why is the principle sacred ? It is sacred because the suggestion is that the British Seamen’s Union consented to a reduction of the wages of these men. and that a section of the union has revolted against that reduction. Suppose the position had been reversed, and that the men who have broken away from their union had been ready to “ scab “ on the majority for a lower wage, would they not be proclaimed, by members opposite, as heroes and men of independent thought and action ? Would the Government not then be ready to appoint Commonwealth police officers to protect the “ scabs “ and assist them in undercutting their fellow unionists? The answer can only be that history tells us what they would have done in those circumstances. They have done it a score of times, but “ the sacred principle of trade unionism “ must be upheld when it involves the cutting down of wages from the mangy scale of £10 a month to £9 a month for Australians - for these men are Australians when they work in Australian waters - or, at least, they deserve to be treated as such.
– There is not a protest from the other side.
– There is not a word about it. As soon as this trouble had started, we saw in the evening press of this city, right across the page, “ Walsh starts another strike.” The morning press belched forth its broadsides to the same effect, and then these puppets in the Government began to prance at the dictates of their press mentors, and in the name of strength and “ the sacred principles of trade unionism “ to bob about and do the bidding of every irresponsible scribbler that Collins-street or Flinders-street could provide to dictate their policy. I withdraw the remark about the irresponsible scribblers; it is not the irresponsible scribblers, but the irresponsible moneybags who control the press to whom I refer. Thus we see that the Government has acted, not because this is a great Australian strike, not because Australian trade is paralysed or Australian interests jeopardized. This is entirely a British matter, involving Lord Inchcape, and not only “ the sacred principles of trade unionism,”’ but also the sacred principles of imperialism, are wound up in it. Imperial toadyism takes the place of Australian statesmanship, and thus the Government begins to deal with the question. The Prime Minister said, “I sent a communication to the Leader of the Opposition, and to each of the Premiers of the States, and nobody could have been more patient than I. I am greatly disappointed at the replies I have received from these gentlemen “ - from Mr. Lang, of New South “Wales, Mr. Collier, of Western Australia, and others. I dare say he is disappointed, but it has always been considered impolitic for immature persons to try to teach their grandmothers to suck eggs. So it is that this slightly distinguished neophyte from Flinders-lane, when he emerges from his pleasant and placid surroundings to teach the hardened industrialists of this country how to handle industrial troubles, finds himself rapped somewhat sharply on the knuckles, and rightly so. These men have been through the fight and the fire, but he has been through neither. They know how to handle men, and he does not. They look at the dispute from the Australian stand-point, the stand-point of the Australian working man ; but he looks at it from the foreign stand-point, the stand-point of the “ sacred principle “ by which he gladly reduces wages from £10 to £9 whenever there is an opportunity of doing so. At this stage, when men of experience are dealing with this trouble - men who, like my honorable friend the Leader of the Opposition, know the virtue of moderation and restraint, and if need be, silence in spite of the provocative utterances here or elsewhere - it would be a monstrous thing if we should be driven into an Australian-wide industrial upheaval by reason of the intrusion of these blundering incendiarists on the other side of the table. I am told, also, that the States have a mandate to resist encroachments on liberty. That is true. The Premiers of the Labour Governments in Australia have a mandate to resist these encroachments on liberty. They have come from the people since the parties forming the coalition Government were elected, and they are in their places by virtue of the expressed will of the majority of the electors. The decadent remnant opposite is where it is by virtue of a trick, and a compromise with the traitors to their movement who support them. That is the difference between the Labour Governments of the States and the Government in this Parliament. The AttorneyGeneral this afternoon, when discussing the legal position, was largely in conflict with the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham). I know that it is characteristic of legal gentlemen to be in « conflict; it is for that reason that I so confidently disagree with both of them The Attorney-General was asked why a High Court judge was not asked to officiate in this matter. He replied, in effect, that it was considered impolitic to ask a High Court judge to act, because the judges of that Court have to adjudicate on matters between the Commonwealth and the States, and it was considered inadvisable to place them in the invidious position of appearing to exhibit partisanship on behalf of the Commonweal lth
– I do not think that the Attorney-General said that.
– I do not pretend to quote his remarks word for word. In view of the Attorney-General’s remarks, it is a wonder that the High Court judges are not limited to adjudicate upon such local matters as insulting words and common assaults, which are dealt with in the police courts. Surely the AttorneyGeneral has forgotten that one of the duties reserved exclusively for High Court judges is that of adjudicating upon matters affecting constitutionality as between the’ States and the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Kooyong gave a different explanation. We on this side make the simple reply to the contentions of both, honorable gentlemen that if it was becoming for the High Court judges to decline to act in the circumstances, it was equally becoming for the Government of New South Wales to decline to allow its Supreme Court judges to be used for a similar purpose. I agree that the whole theory of our government is co-operation in the working of the delicate machinery of the State Constitutions and the Commonwealth Constitution. Federation would have been impossible in operation if the States had not sympathetically co-operated with their machinery, their courts, and their officers in the administration of Commonwealth affairs. That much is granted. It is worth nothing that in the 25 years of Commonwealth history there has been but one case - and that in war time - of serious conflict between the Commonwealth and the States. That absence of conflict has been due to the nature of the legislation passed by the Commonwealth, and to a recognition of its possible effect upon the States. The States are sovereign bodies in the same way that the Commonwealth is, and it is an act of indecency for the Commonwealth Government to pass a measure of an industrial nature which runs counter to the views of the Governments of the States which have so recently been endorsed by the electors. The request of the Federal Government to the Government of New South Wales was that the latter, in order to give effect to Commonwealth laws within the limits of that State, should run counter to the mandate recently given to it by the people. The State Government rightly refused to comply with the request. Mr. Lang agreed that the Commonwealth laws should be enforced, and that the Commonwealth itself should enforce them. What, after all, is the purpose for which these police are to be appointed?
– And for what purpose are the bodies to be snatched? This afternoon the Attorney-General read again those sections, of the act recently passed which set out the offences for which the bodies of men may be snatched. I repeat what I have said before in this House, that any member of a trade union who, since the proclamation that a serious industrial disturbance exists in Australia, attends a meeting of his union, and votes either with the majority or the minority, renders himself liable to deportation under the terms of that iniquitous act. That being the case, to expect the Labour Government of New South Wales to put that act into effect is an affront to the intelligence of the people of this country, as well as to the Government to which the request was addressed. The Attorney-General said that the powers of the Commonwealth are clear and definite. If that be so, the Commonwealth Government should exercise those powers, and not ask the States to do its “dirty work.” The Premier of New South Wales pointed out that the Commonwealth already possesses all the necessary powers, and suggested that the Commonwealth should exercise those powers if it desired that they be exercised. It is my hope that no taint of having been a party to the deportation of any Australian citizen shall ever attach to a Labour Government in Australia. The act recently passed to provide for the deportation of Australian citizens has rightly been described as an iniquitous law. No doubt this bill will be passed.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Fawkner says “ Hear. hear.” Evidently he is like the boy who whistles to keep his courage up. He knows that the Prime Minister is shaking at the knees, and that, after every step taken, the members of the Government offer up a devout prayer that the strike will be over before the forces behind them compel them to arrest any man. They are between the devil and the deep sea, the devil pressing at the rear, the deep sea the consequence of their deporting any man from this country, in front. I sympathize with the Government in that regard, and realize the reason for the various steps taken in connexion with this bill having been taken so deliberately. First, there was the proclamation of ‘ a condition of unrest. On the second day we were informed that the SolicitorGeneral had gone; to New South Wales, and had conferred with some one there. The next day he returned from New South Wales. On the fourth day the board was constituted. The names of the members of that board were made public on the fifth day. On the sixth day we are considering the passing of_new legislation to enable the body-snatching to proceed as a regular Commonwealth business. We have not yet reached the seventh day, on which we should rest. I said this afternoon that I hoped that if there had been any men in this country who wanted to do unpleasant work in the police force, they had already accepted the invitation of the Victorian Government to supplant that splendid body of police strikers who were driven from their employment by stupidity such as that which characterizes the members of this Government to-day. No doubt some men will become members of this new police force, not as investigators, but as peace officers clad in white raiment, with wands in their hands and halos around their heads, crying, “Blessed be peace.” Some day, no doubt, the strike will end; no one will have been deported, but the names of the members of this Government will go down to posterity as the liberators of an oppressed people.
– I do not know the reason for the excitement of honorable members opposite at my rising. I want to discuss this matter calmly. Honorable members opposite are making a great fuss about a little piece of legislation which is being put through this House to enable the Government to do something to prevent the disorganization of trade and of the essential services in Australia, and to put an end to those disturbances, strikes, and other upheavals which of late have been so prevalent. Honorable members rise one after the other, and lash themselves into a fury over this legislation, but I do not think that their fury is genuine. Nor do’ I think that the advice which they offer to honorable members on this side is genuine. If they believed that the carrying into effect of this legislation would mean the downfall- of the Government, they would encourage the Government to proceed until it ran headlong to destruction. But honorable members say. “ Don’t do this, because to do it will ruin you.” I do not think that we are quite so green’ as to believe that. If I had the authority I would have done this long ago. I think this legislation has been too long delayed. The gentlemen who are causing industrial trouble in
Australia should go to other countries, where they would meet with congenial companionship. That is where they ought to be. They have no proper place in this free land of Australia. It is not Australian workmen who are to blame for what has taken place, but these agitators who are determined to create strife, wherever they are. They are nothing but communists, and disturbance is their stock in trade. They desire to keep the country in a state of continual industrial ferment. I know what they are. I have had any amount of experience of them. I have come in contact with them in the shearing shed. For twenty-five years I was over a shearing shed, and I know the wiles, cunning and methods adopted by these agitators who go amongst peaceful men and bring about disturbances. One might have the best lot of unionists to be found, pay them full award rates, give them the best food procurable and good housing accommodation, and everything would be going on swimmingly in a. manner satisfactory to the men and the boss, and then, one afternoon a fellow would come pedalling a bicycle along, and that is the end of the satisfaction and contentment. Every one becomes surly, grumbling and threatening to strike ; the meat is too fat or too poor, it is objected to either way : and there are not sufficient plums in the pudding. That is the condition of affairs which is being brought about on a larger scale by the’ gentlemen who have been referred to in this discussion.
– Will the honorable gentlemen tell us who they are ? I want to know whether this is a personal matter.
– The name of Blakeley is not mentioned. I am reminded that I wanted to refer to something which the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said, and that was that the> individual members of the tribunal appointed by the Government under the Immigration Act are members of the Nationalist Association . The honorable member is absolutely wrong in that statement. I arn a member of the Nationalist Council, and I tell honorable members that not one of these gentlemen has ever set foot in the council room or the Nationalist Club.
– Is the honorable member serious in making that statement? Let him carry his mind a little further back.
– I do no know how these gentlemen vote. Honorable members opposite may say that they are Nationalists because they vote for the National party, but I repeat that they are not members of the Nationalist Association. I understand that Mr. Canning, the chairman of the board, was at one time a Labour man, and was made a magistrate by a Labour Government in Western Australia. We know that if honorable members opposite had the appointment of such a board, they would see that there was no Nationalist upon it, and would appoint only their own strong supporters. We have had a very stirring speech from the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I compliment him on his very lucid address. But he went a little too far, because he threatened honorable members on this side with dire consequences if this legislation were put. into force. Let me tell the honorable member for Yarra and other honorable members opposite that their threats will not carry the slightest weight with the Government, or the party on this side. Threats need not be confined to one side of the House, and I say that honorable members opposite had better keep their threats to themselves. I warn them that if they persist in bringing about the great industrial upheaval to which they refer, as they will do by supporting these bolsheviks and communists, they must put up with the consequences. It is not for them to threaten us; it is for us to say that the party responsible for bringing about an industrial upheaval - and we are threatened with the greatest that this country has ever known- must accept responsibility for it. We have had a veiled threat of civil war in Australia ; but I have too much respect for the intelligence of the people of Australia to think that anything of the kind will occur. They are too prosperous to countenance anything that savours of revolution. We are absolutely safe in this country from anything of the kind, because our people are too prosperous and have been too well governed. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) treated us to a fine pantomimic- display. He delivered a very fiery oration, and was at times overcome by his sentiments. His voice, like his arguments, gave out at the finish. He told us that British sailors in Australia have struck because of a reduction in their wages. We deplore that such a reduction should have been considered necessary, but we know how it was brought about. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) gave a very clear explanation of what has happened. In the Old Country the British Maritime Commission, composed of representatives of the sailors and the ship-owners, came to an agreement that when there was depression in the shipping industry wages should come down, and when it was flourishing they should go up. Last year the wages of the seamen were increased by £1 per month; but honorable members opposite have said nothing about that. Their sliding scale slides only one way. They talk of give and take, but with them it is all take and no give. We have been told that these British sailors, being dissatisfied with their wages, held meetings and went out on strike. We were not told by honorable members opposite that the men who are the centre of speculation at the present time decoyed these unfortunate British sailors from their jobs. We are told that the British sailors acted on their own initiative at a meeting in Sydney, but I have the best information that they did nothing of the sort. They acted at the instance of the agitators, one of whom took the chair for them and put everything into their mouths. We know that the British sailors did not want to strike. There are thousands of men in Australia who have no time for Walsh and Johannsen, and I undertake to say that if these men are deported many of these people will say, “ Thank God the cows are gone.” We have had threats from members of the Opposition, and I now give them warning that if they persist and bring, about a great industrial upheaval the primary producers will come down from the country in their thousands and take a hand in the business. We have had some experience of this before, especially in New South Wales. I tell honorable members opposite that if they persist in backing up this trouble-making, and bring about a great industrial disturbance, they will have to reckon with the country boys, the cowpunchers, the wool-growers, the sleeper getters, the boys from Snowy River, who will take means to protect themselves. The primary producers of wool, meat, butter, and fruit will not quietly permit the trade of Australia to be disrupted, and the avenues for the marketing of their products closed by these people who are fomenting strikes in Australia. Instead of honorable members opposite warning me, I now warn them, that they will get it well and truly, fair in the neck.
.- The honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat is the man tie country needs. The man at the head of the Government is the wrong man for the position. Here we have the strong-armed, two-fisted- man, the man who can solve the problem. It is unfortunate that he is not a member of the Government; but he was pushed out of it. The honorable member has talked of cows, and I would remind him that I have heard talk of cows before. One gentleman talked of “ cow cockies,” and ruined Mr. Massy Greene politically by doing so. I remember another story of cows, when the Prime Minister spoke of the members of his party as the salt of the earth, and was reminded by Senator Gardiner that the “ cows outside were waiting to lick them.” The honorable member for “Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) has referred to the good old times. We remember the good old times when employers could increase the hours of work of their employees as much as they pleased, and give them as little as they thought fit, when they could take a motherless child and make him work for 2s. 6d. per week and then take the money back in fines. We remember the time when the agitators who tried to put a stop to that kind of thing were harried from court to court until a venal jury could be got to convict them. Those were the times for which the honorable member yearns, but, unfortunately for him, those clays have gone for ever. It is said that some British seamen are dissatisfied with their conditions, but the trouble is not confined to Australia; it is found in New Zealand, and in the ports of England. It is quite true that the seamen’s organization in Great Britain agreed to certain things, but it is also true that a very large number of British seamen are not satisfied with the conditions agreed to. Does the British Government come forward and propose a policy of deportation against dissatisfied seamen in London and Liverpool f Has it set about the creation of machinery such as this Government has evolved and threatened to put into operation? It has not. The seamen in Canada also are out on strike, and the officials of the British Seamen’s Union are hurrying across the Atlantic to ask the men to return to work. In South Africa, too, the men have left British ships, and at Durban officials went aboard the vessels and vainly endeavoured to induce the seamen to go to sea.
– That sounds like a communist talking.
– Quite right For the drought, the overflow of the rivers, excessive rains - for everything that happens on this earth the communists are responsible. This strike has extended to British ships in every part of the Empire; the men are breaking away from their union and refusing to accept lower wages and worse conditions, but nowhere outside Australia - not even in Great Britain - has the Government made an effort towards coercion as the Commonwealth Government is doing. Why is it adopting that course? The reason has been clearly demonstrated; it is hot that the emergency is greater in Australia than in other parts of the Empire, but that the Government is exploiting the situation for political purposes. It has no other justification for its action. We have been told that the Government of New South Wales was asked to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in the enforcement of the deportation laws. In another emergency not long ago, when the Commonwealth wanted the services of a judge, it did not seek one from the Government of Victoria in whose State the case would have to be tried, because that . State was at that time under the control of a Labour Government; it sought a judge from New South Wales, the one State in which Labour was not then in power. In the present trouble the Government has reversed the process. If it had been sincere and consistent it would have applied to Victoria for the services of a judge, but that course would not have suited its purpose. The Government of New South Wales was not asked to nominate the three members of the board; it was asked to provide, only one. The
Federal Government would select the other two, knowing full well what the verdict of the board would be, and then it- would be able to implicate the State Government and make it- share the responsibility and opprobrium for the trouble that would ensue. The legislation that is before us can bring no benefit to this Government, and it cannot in any way affect the men who have gone out on strike. Those men deliberately left their ships in New South Wales ports in the belief that they could force the overseas owners to meet their demands. The ship-, owners have refused to do so. It is inevitable that in such circumstances .the men should seek help, and it has been accorded them. Now the Commonwealth Government, in order to serve the poli- tical ends of the Nationalist and Country parties, proposes to deport two or three men. But if it does not act quickly it will be too late; the trouble will be ended. It is easy to see that this bill is merely a political weapon forged by the Government for its own purposes. In the last shipping strike in which Australian vessels and seamen were involved, the Prime Minister refused to intervene or to collaborate with the Leader of the Opposition and responsible trade unionists to bring about a settlement. He appeared at a function in this city and declared that there was to be “ a fight to a finish.” Apparently he believed that the aggravation of discord would assist him in his political campaign, but that effort failed miserably; the strike was settled in spite of the Government. Now Ministers are again seeking to gain a political advantage from the striking, not of citizens of this country, but of the employees on ships from abroad that are visiting our ports. No bolder or more unscrupulous scheme could be concocted by a Government. But if action is not taken promptly the trouble will be settled, and in a day or two the seamen will have returned to their ships - not because of any threat by the Government, but because of other circumstances, and among them the efforts which are being made by members of the Labour party to restore peace. Proof of the anxiety of honorable members opposite, and of the press which supports them, to promote a fight is contained in the leading article in the Herald to-night. That journal wants to know what the members of the Labour party are doing. It says they are acting in secret. What for? To stop the strike ! As if that were a crime. If we are doing that either openly or secretly, we are making a contribution to the peace, order, and good government of this country; but because we are acting quietly and secretly, without the beating of drums or the waving of flags, or shouting our loyalty, but quietly, and in a businesslike way, we are said to be the enemies of our country. We are told that it is the duty of “the Labour party to link itself up with the Government, not for the purpose of settling the strike, but in order to keep the strike going by trying to coerce its leaders. That is the desire of the daily press. The Labour party, however, is the judge of its own conduct; it is not to be driven into any course of action. The Leader of the Government does not accept the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, or frame his policy according to suggestions from industrial organizations. On the contrary, when the trade unions suggested a policy of mediation, which would promote industrial peace, he refused to act, because he did not desire peace. Now, he and the press expect this party to follow at his heels. Last year the Auditor-General reported to Parliament that the Government had expended £250,000 without the sanction of the legislature. But he said that he had no power to criticize such expenditure, because the Treasurer had authority to expend money as he pleased within the limit of the Treasurer’s Advance. Prom the same source the Government could, if it were really in earnest in the proposal under consideration, obtain funds for building up a Commonwealth police force, and putting the law into operation. If. it could legally take £250,000 from the Treasurer’s Advance for another purpose, it could similarly appropriate £500, or £1,000, or £2,000, in order to bring a police force into “being. But the Government is not so anxious as it pretends to be to give effect to this proposal; it is not too sure of the ground upon which- it is treading. Had the honorable member for Warringah been Prime Minister, he would have rushed in like a bull, regardless of whether or not he made a mess of things. He would have shown no hesitation, or weakness, or vacillation. He would have simply said, “ This is the law. I intend to secure peace.” If need be, he would have butted in like Buck Fanshawe, with a brick in one hand and a spanner in the other. He would not have waited for the trouble to develop;, he is the sort of general who would settle the war before the enemy had time to put up his hands. So I can imagine him saying, “These men are to be deported, and we must have a police force. The money is in the Treasury. Here are your uniforms, swords, pistols, shields, and bucklers. Now, go out and swat these fellows.” He would not wait for industry to be paralysed and primary products to pile up on the wharfs. He would not waste precious days whilst the country was suffering. He would have declared the existence of an- industrial disturbance which threatened the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, and would have’ rushed in to settle the emergency, and so prevent the dangers that were threatening him and the country. With all the power and authority of the Government behind him, the noble general would have used the Treasurer’s Advance, created a police force, and deported the offenders. That is the proper course for a Government that understands its business, and is prepared to act according to its convictions. I have looked at this problem in various ways; There ave times when a man must put his country before his party, and I wish to serve my King, my country, and, above all, my trade unions. The Prime Minister is not the sole custodian of the rights, powers, and prerogatives of the working class. I know that the interests of primary producers are at stake, ‘but I know also that a Government which has abused its powers to make a grant here and a concession there, by placating its supporters and utilizing the public services to allay the public hostility which it has aroused, would not hesitate to incite industrial discord if that would serve its end. So it has been battening politically upon two insignificant men, and proposes to exploit public passion against them in the belief that in that way the parties no*w in office will be retained there. Who are the two individuals who walk down to the British ships and fix their venomous gaze on the brave seamen who have risked their lives time after time? Although we have been told that the seamen are brave and courageous men, who have done deeds of valour in the interests of the Empire, and who are, if not interfered with, willing to obey the orders of their officers, yet when one of these men merely glances at them they become as putty in his hands. He is another Svengali, who mesmerizes them until they become so many little Trilbies, without a soul they can call their own. Moreover, this demon is supposed to incite the men and call up their worst passions, until all become his dupes and victims. . His baneful influence extends not only to the utmost bounds of this continent, but throughout the world. He is in communication with Russia. .’Every day ships are bringing to Australia communists - vile disseminators of the doctrines of disorder, and this Government, which is so well equipped with intelligence and power, permits the country to be overrun by ship-loads of imported agitators. It knows their habitations and habits, it knows where they sleep and live, but it does not lay hands upon them. It is remarkable that the Government, should permit such men to enter the country week after week, and that, although it has at its disposal the law and the police, and is supported by the press, it is still without capacity to protect the interests of the Commonwealth. These communists are said to receive funds from overseas, yet the Government never attempts to prevent the inflow of those resources. The Government does not say that these persons are criminals, and disseminators in this country of foreign odious doctrines, and should, therefore, depart from Australia to the land of their origin. In no case has the Government charged these men with disseminating communistic documents. I leave that subject there. The Government now proposes to bring into existence a new body of police. It has introduced a bill to confer on it a power that it already has. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when Prime Minister, demonstrated, when he wished to protect himself from the violence and aggression of some one. with, an egg. that the Government could under existing legislation bring into existence powers and instrumentalities for the maintenance of peace, order, and good government. It is not that we have no power to act. The Government to obtain office at the next election is introducing the bill to incite turmoil in the community, and thus prejudice the public mind against the trade unions of this country. I believe that the Government’s efforts in this direction will be absolutely futile. The bill will serve no public interest. It is merely a political instrument, and the Government already has the power sought for under this measure, which, if passed, will not achieve the object that the Government has in view, but will rather increase immeasurably the sufferings of the community.
– I feel that it is somewhat unnecessary for honorable members on this side of the House to continue this discussion much longer after the very clear and capable statement of the position from a constitutional point of view that we have had from the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), and the breezy commonsense statement that we had from the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie). But there are one or two points I should like to mention before the debate closes. One wonders what is the reason for all the furious eloquence that we have had from members of the Opposition. I do not think that there has been before this House previously a bill that has excited the orators of the Opposition to such flights of eloquence as has this bill. After all, it is a simple document when one examines it.
– We are always eloquent when we have the truth behind us.
– The truth may be behind honorable members opposite, but it is a very long way behind. This bill should command the support of every honorable member of this Parliament. It simply provides means by which the Commonwealth Government may give effect to the laws passed by the Federal Parliament. Every speech that has been delivered from the opposite side of the House to-night convinces one of the necessity for the bill, and for the means pro vided in it. We have heard a great deal from the Opposition about the refusal of the Government of New South Wales to lend its aid to this Government in carrying out the provisions of a particular act. The fact that the State Government has acted in that way should surely convince us of the necessity for providing ourselves with means to carry out our own laws. Hitherto, we have relied on the States for their co-operation in carrying into effect the laws of the Commonwealth. Now that this necessity has arisen, and what looks like a crisis has come about, we find on application to the States that we cannot rely upon them as we thought we could. Therefore, the Government very naturally has introduced this bill to enable us to have our own officers whom we can trust and on whom we can rely, should the necessity arise, to carry the laws of the Commonwealth into effect. It is not this bill that has incited the fury and eloquence of honorable members opposite. Their objection is to a law that has been already passed by this Parliament. The other day we passed a certain bill, and it became the law of the Commonwealth, and, like every other law, it has to be carried out. We did not put it on the statute-book to remain a dead letter. It was passed in order that it might assist the Government to preserve law and order in the Commonwealth. We find that the necessity has arisen for putting that law into operation, but that we have not at our disposal the necessary means to do so. The members of the Opposition contend that we have, without this bill, power and means to carry that law into effect. If that is so, why do they- make such a fuss about passing this bill? Their attitude is practically an admission that this bill is necessary. They object, not to obtaining means to give effect to our laws, but to the enforcement of a particular measure to which this bill, if passed, will give effect.
– We object to the way in which the Government proposes to use that law.
– That is not the point. Some most extraordinary views have been expressed in this debate. One has been given to understand that the Opposition holds that no law passed in this Parliament, unless it has the unanimous consent of the members of the
Labour party, should be binding upon the people of the Commonwealth. That is a most absurd proposition.We are supposed to be a democracy. A law passed and put upon our statute-book is an expression of the will of the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled. When a law has been passed it must be taken as an expression of the will of the majority of the people, and, as has been pointed out to-night, must be respected and obeyed so long as it exists. I think that it was the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) who said that any law that is repugnant to the feelings of the people of the Commonwealth must die. That may he so, but while it is alive it must be obeyed and respected, because the very foundation of our life as a community is respect for the expression of the will of the majority of the. people. . This bill is necessary if we are to have the means of putting the law into operation. We have been charged by honorable members opposite with sympathizing with the reduction in the wages of the British seamen, but that is simply one of numerous red herrings that they have attempted to draw across the trail. Our resentment at the interference of certain individuals in this seamen’s strike, and our disapproval of the action of the seamen themselves in striking, involve no expression of opinion regarding the reduction of wages in respect of which the strike has taken place. One deplores the necessity for that reduction, but the patent fact is that the men on strike to-day in Australia have been misled. Every one of these British seamen belongs to a trade union, and this union was a party to an agreement which was embodied in the articles signed by every individual seaman who is now out on strike. Under that agreement the seamen accept any rise or fall in wages during the currency of their articles. These men came to Australia, and as was pointed out by the honorable member for Kooyong, only when they reached Sydney did they go on strike. There is overwhelming evidence that certain individuals who are not British seamen, but aliens resident in Australia, if they did not originate the strike, have since its origin directed and controlled it. Honorable members who have followed “ carefully the development of this strike must have noticed that those individuals counselled the seamen to leave their ships, and told them that they would be hot-air merchants if they went back to them. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) said, “ Fancy all ‘ this fuss being made about the influence of one or two puny individuals !” But these individuals have told these misguided British seamen that they have behind them the whole force of the great seamen’s federated union of Australia. They undertook to speak for that union, and to pledge it to support the strikers. Does any honorable member mean to say that the poor British seamen, 2,000 of them, would have taken the stand that they did, and left their ships, if they had not believed that they had the support of the union? At the first meeting in the Communist Hall in Sydney one of these individuals said to the seamen, “ Whatever steps you take we are behind you.” That was a serious statement for a man representing a great union to make to men who were out on strike in breach of a solemn agreement. Immediately afterwards one of the British seamen said, Boys, to a man we shall be out on strike to-morrow; those who do not come out we will drag out.” There was not a single word of protest from the individuals who had told the seamen only two minutes before that whatever steps they took the great Seamen’s Union of Australia was behind them. Another significant fact is that these 2,000 seamen who are being led to-day by two or three individuals-
– The honorable member means misled.
– They are certainly being misled. These men, who are misled by three or four individuals, must inevitably fail. The Opposition asks why the Government is making such a fuss, and contends that Ministers will be made to look ridiculous, because after a few days the trouble will be over, and then there will be no necessity for the bill. What we say is, that the necessity for legislation such as this will not cease when the present dispute ends. The measure is required because the Government and the party that supports it is determined to deal with the men who are responsible for this everlastingly recurring turmoil. The very men who are fomenting this trouble entered the other day into what was spoken of as a settlement, but what I call a perfect farce, since one of the parties to the arrangement was the man who is leading the British seamen to-day in a breach of their agreement. What is the value of the signature of a man who does not care a snap of the finger for an agreement, and will break it whenever it suits him? This same individual has said publicly that arbitration can never overcome the difficulties between employers and employees, for the workers want the entire ownership and control of industries. Imagine a man who holds views of that nature leading a strike and being a party to an agreement ! What does he regard’ as a settlement? Nothing short of obtaining the complete control and ownership of the industry. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I say that such a state of affairs as I have indicated rendered necessary the enactment of the alien immigration legislation, and this measure is a necessary consequence.
– Will deportation settle thi3 industrial trouble?
– In my opinion, it ‘ will remove one of the causes of industrial trouble. The communists regard trade unions as obstacles to their progress. They are the declared enemies of trade unionism, and they have expressed their determination never to rest until they have swept that obstruction from their path. That is recognized by the union to which these 2,000 British seamen belong. We know what its view of the communist element is, and we know what the view of trade unionism in Australia is in regard to this same element. These men have been denounced in unmeasured terms by the Labour press, and by leaders of the Labour party. They have been denied admission even to membership of that party, and refused affiliation with it. Yet, in view of such facts as these, we are told by honorable members opposite that the communist idea is a mere bogy. Have they read their own press? Will they listen even to the Premier of New South Wales, than whom no man has used stronger and more denunciatory language regard- ‘ ing the communists? The Government accepts responsibility for this legislation, and is prepared to act in pursuance of it. This will be done in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia. We have heard talk about the insignificance of this strike. The leaders of the men are deliberately seeking to paralyze our overseas trade. The strike is designed to coerce the shipping companies into conceding the demands of the seamen, but the ultimate object is the disintegration of the Empire, to which we should all be proud to belong. Honorable members opposite know that the leader of the British communist party has ‘said within the last two or three weeks that one of the obstacles in the way of the achievement of their objective is the Empire, and that it must be disintegrated before socialism can be established. That is one of the cardinal articles of the communistic faith. When one remembers such facts, the actions of this little coterie in Australia are invested with a significance which they would not otherwise bear. The members of the crew of one British ship now in port, the *Chitral, put the case, it seems to me, in a nutshell, in a letter sent to one person against whom this “legislation is aimed. They wrote to Mr. Thomas Walsh, and in dignified and restrained language pointed out that, while they sympathized with their fellow workers in the matter of the reduction of wages, they could not see their way clear to dishonour their signature. They pointed out that the whole matter should be settled by the authorities at Home, and they concluded by delicately suggesting that Walsh and Company would do very well to mind their own business. If the unionists of Australia had the same courage as these British unionists, and told this coterie to mind its own business, legislation of this kind would not be necessary. I shall have the greatest possible pleasure in voting in favour of the ml .
– Supporting a reduc-tion in wages? .
– No, I have already said that that matter has nothing to d’6 with this bill. The British Seamen’s Union was a party to the reduction, and has advised its members loyally to accept it. The great body of them has done so. What the men in Sydney are doing to-day at the behest of a handful of cowardly, miserable communists, is to “ scab “ on their fellow unionists. Honorable members opposite may laugh. There has been a great deal of laughter from that side of the House during this debate, but it is laughter without merriment. We have seen fireworks without heat, and had thunder and lightning without electricity. Their opposition is all a miserable sham. I agree with the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) in his concluding remark, though I do not intend to repeat it.
.- After listening to the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I can only come to the conclusion that he is now, as he was a. few weeks ago, obsessed with, a fear of communism which is groundless. He thinks that some great danger menaces Australia and will bring about its ruin. He expressed that, opinion when we were discussing the measure designed to give power to deport certain citizens, and to-day he shows that he is still obsessed with the same idea. How. then, can we expect to obtain from the honorable member, and those who share his opinions, sane legislation making for the peace, order, and good government of the country? The obsession of this honorable member clearly indicates the general idea of Ministers and their supporters.
– Mr. Lang has the same obsession.
– He has no such obsession, but a clear realization of his duties as the custodian of the rights and liberties of the citizens of New South Wales. And he will show the honorable member and the Government he supports that they cannot lightly interfere with the privileges of the people of a sovereign State. They will have the Government of New South Wales, the Australian Constitution, and the High Court of Australia to deal with. Legislation more suited to the middle ages than to the twentieth century is not likely to be accepted by the people of Australia. No reform worth while has ever been obtained unless men were prepared to stand up against unjust and inhuman laws. The history of the world teems with illustrations of actions similar to that now being taken by the Government. Time after time the passage of coercive legislation has been attempted to take from the people their ordinary civil rights, but on every occasion it has been defeated and the rights of the people have been upheld. I want to know what will happen when this bill passes into law, and the Prime
Minister sends his “bullies” to New South Wales. Mr. Lang, as the custodian of the rights and liberties of the citizens of New South Wales, will be obliged to take action to protect them;, if he does not do so, he will fail in his duty. He must protect the citizens of that State against the enforcement of a law which not only violates the Constitution of Australia, but also is repugnant to the good sense of the people. It is quite easy to see that when these ‘ ‘ bullies of Bruce ‘ ‘ proceed to New South Wales, and attempt to interfere with the police, of that State in the discharge of their constitutional duties, they will be placed under arrest. The same thing will happen to the AttorneyGeneral, or any one else, who goes across there on the same errand. Members of the Government think that they can send emissaries to interfere with the rights and liberties of the citizens of a sovereign State, but that is not quite so easy to do as they may think. In the first place, it must be” proved that this Parliament has a right to pass this legislation. I doubt whether it has, and, not only I, but also some of the most eminent legal authorities in Australia, doubt it. The citizen of a sovereign State has his common law rights, and the Government must show that he is actually doing something detrimental to the peace, order, or good government of this country before it can interfere with him. The mere issuing of a proclamation by the Government does not create a state of industrial unrest. To print a notice in the Government Gazette, saying that something is threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth does not make the statement a fact. The Government may issue a proclamation, but unless the proclamation is based on reality, it cannot be effective. If that were not so, it would be competent for a despotic government to turn out proclamations from a printing machine declaring that in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral a 3tate of war, a state of chaos, a state of anarchy, a state of unrest, or a state of anything else, was existing in this country. There might, in fact, be no disturbed conditions, the proclamation being issued merely to enable the Government to seize by the scruff of the neck, and cast out of Australia, a dangerous political opponent. The High Court of Australia will not endorse that sort of thing. I will ask, first, “Upon what basis of fact was the proclamation issued?” Is there a state of industrial unrest- existing in Australia? Let us examine that question for a moment. Certain members of the crews of British ships have had their wages reduced. “Upon examination we find that the shipowners, who built up huge profits during the war, who are paying bigger dividends now than ever they paid before, ‘ who are building bigger ships, and placing more money to reserves than ever before, are reducing the wages of seamen to a lower level than they have been on in the history of the British mercantile marine. Who were the men who took risks during the war? Who saved the heart of the Empire? Was it not said that unless the submarine blockade was beaten, England would be starved, the Empire would fall to pieces, and we would all be ruthlessly crushed under the heel of the German oppressor? Who saved England from starvation? Who manned the ships to carry food to Great Britain ? Who braved the German submarine menace ? It was not the shipowners, not the men who made the huge profits, but the British seamen, the men who to-day are opposing legislation intended to force them to work seven days a week for- £2 a week. One might naturally expect the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) to support such legislation. He is only running true to form, for when he was chairman of a board for determining the wages of white workers, he gave a casting vote in favour of 14s. a week.
– That is not relevant to the question before the House.
– But it is relevant to the attitude of the honorable member, upon whom it throws a fierce light. He formerly favored long hours and low wages for whiteworkers, and to-day he supports low wages and long hours for the men who saved England from starvation. As far as I am concerned honorable members opposite may cast any names at me they like - they may call me a communist, and say that I am supporting Tom Walsh - but I am not afraid of anything they may say, because I stand for decent, honest, conditions for the men of the British mercantile marine. The wealthy combine that controls the mercantile marine of Great Britain de cides the freights that the primary producers of Australia shall pay for the conveyance of their products to oversea markets. That great combine has wrung huge profits out of the Australian primary producers, and yet we find members of the Government, and men who call themselves the representatives of the Country party, rushing- to introduce legislation like that in force in the middle ages to assist the combine to rob Australian farmers and British seamen. I do not stand for that. I care not for the accusations of honorable members opposite. I, and all honorable members on this side, stand for Australia and for good conditions for its people. I hope that the people of Australia will realize that this move by the Government is an attempt to make political capital; but, so far as’ we are concerned, the Government has a free hand in that direction. The Leader of this party challenged the Prime Minister to go to the country when he liked, and if he does so the Labour party will be returned with a big majority. I hope that when the Prime Minister sends his “bullies” to New South Wales, Mr. Lang will take proper action to protect the citizens of that State, and will either deport them or place them under arrest. I hope that the Government of New South Wales will protect the people of that State, so that the matter may be tested in the courts of this country. If that is done the Commonwealth Government will find that the pedestal on which it has rested its proclamation will be knocked away. By that time there will be no strike on British ships, for the dispute will be settled within a few days. In submitting this bill to the House the Government is placing itself in a ridiculous position. It has appointed a biased board to deal with certain people, and before the board can function, ‘ the conditions upon which the charges rest will cease to exist, for there will be no. industrial upheaval, no industrial unrest, and nothing to menace the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth. I am not worrying about the position in which honorable members opposite are placing themselves. I am pleased to see them so foolish, because it brings nearer, the day when a Labour Government will, be in power in the Commonwealth. But why should we place those three men in such an invidious position? In a very short time the board will appear ridiculous, as there will be no opportunity for it to function.
. - The outstanding feature of this debate has been the gingerly way in which the Opposition has dealt with the issue at stake. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), when describing the position, pictured the Government as aghast with fear because of a couple of communists who were causing some industrial disturbance. But it is the leaders of the party to which the honorable member belongs that are “ sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought “ because of the existence . of these communists who are leading this industrial turmoil, while the political leaders of labour in this country fail to show the strength that they should exhibit in a crisis such as exists in Australia at the present time. This legislation has been rendered necessary by the weakness and the cowardice of the leaders of the Labour party. For many months the Government has given the Labour leaders every opportunity and encouragement to rid their unions of these extremists who are bringing them and the country to ruin. In not rendering assistance to give effect to the law which has been passed by this Parliament, the New South Wales Government has failed to carry out its constitutional obligation, thus rendering necessary the action taken by the Federal Government to enforce its legislation. The AttorneyGeneral and other legal members have dealt at length with the constitutional aspect of this question, and have shown that the Federation cannot continue to exist if the attitude adopted in this instance by New South Wales is to be followed generally by the States. One can scarcely imagine the damage that can be done by an inflammatory speech such as that of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), who practically incited his followers to civil disturbance. [Quorum formed.] Some months ago a strike occurred at Fremantle in Western Australia, which was roundly condemned by the Labour Government of that State, yet, when that Government was asked to render aid in carrying out essential national services such as quarantine, health, and customs administration, ifc failed to assist the Commonwealth Go vernment by refusing police protection for Commonwealth officers. By that refusal to assist the Commonwealth Government, the health of Australia was seriously imperilled. The position which has arisen in connexion with the shipping dispute is similar to that which occurred in Western Australia. No one who knows what has taken place during the last eight or nine months can accuse the Commonwealth Government of having acted hastily in . this matter, or of having endeavoured to make it a political issue. The Prime Minister, as the Leader of the Government, has repeatedly asked the industrial unions to get together and endeavour to bring about a satisfactory settlement of the dispute. The Government appealed to all the industries involved, and to the labour leaders, to make efforts to secure permanent industrial peace, but apparently that appeal fell on deaf ears. The Labour “party maintains that the communist element in its ranks is very small, but that element seems to completely dominate the unions and the Labour leaders of this country. Honorable members opposite have had a week in which to discuss the position which has arisen. On Monday morning the Prime Minister approached the Labour leaders in the matter, and later in the day a proclamation was issued. To-day, Friday, is the first occasion on which they have spoken on the subject, and they have spoken on it to-day only because the introduction of this legislation has forced them to do so.
– That is not correct.
– The Prime Minister has repeatedly given the unionists the opportunity to take control, but because of their inaction the Government has been forced to deal with this industrial dispute in the interests of the people generally. In this connexion, one would naturally think that the Federal Government would be able to command the State Government’s resources. Because the present dispute has its seat in New South Wales, the Government made application to the Premier of that State for assistance. It should be remembered that on the 27th July last Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, said with reference to the men who are the. leaders in this disturbance1 -
The reappearance of the I.W.W. in our midst, and the cordial reception extended by Mr. Garden and his Moscow friends to these advocates of revolution, go slow, and sabotage, make it advisable for me as bead of the Labour Ministry to repudiate at once all connexion, political and industrial, with these disturbers of public order and political progress. The I.W.W. is essentially hostile to the Labour movement, Its aims are repugnant to all responsible, sane wage-earners, and it seems to me that it now shows its. ugly and disreputable head simply to try to injure the chances of the Federal Labour party at the coming Federal elections. The miserable weakness of the Communist party was well demonstrated at the last State elections, so it is now thought that a revival of the I.W.W’ism may put a bolt in the Labour party’s machinery. New South Wales should not be made a dumpingground for the industrial refuse of the British Empire. More care should be taken by the Federal authorities in the admittance of undesirables.
Yet when we asked for his assistance to prove whether certain men were undesirable or not, that assistance was not forthcoming. Mr. Lang, speaking of the organization with which they are associated, also said -
Its record in this and other parts of the world is infamous, and leads us to but one conclusion - that it is 99 per cent. criminal.
Notwithstanding that utterance, he refused to grant the Federal Government the assisance of the New South Wales police to deal with men whom, he says, are 99 per cent, criminal. His statement of the 27th July continued -
It is reported that one of the first speaker’s on behalf of the I.W.W. in the Domain declared that he was here to propagate strife, strikes, and job control. All these weapons are opposed by the unions and. by the Australian Labour party, and so far as my power extends it will be used to protect the public interests and the good name of our industrial population. . Men who come here deliberately to set class against class and to embitter social relationships will highly deserve all that is coming to them, and I can assure them in advance that the Ministry will not allow criminality to flourish in our midst, whether it masquerades under the name of I.W.W. or any other.
Those remarks were made by Mr. Lang a month ago. Since then it seems that he, like members of the Opposition, has been carpeted, and now will not even allow his officers to carry out Commonwealth laws. What are the reasons why the Commonwealth Government has received no assistance from the Premier of New South Wales? The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) pointed out this evening that, notwithstanding that the bill we passed recently was not carried unanimously, it was passed by a majority of both Houses, and, therefore, is now the law of the land. Was the refusal of the Premier of New South Wales to make available the ordinary instrumentalities of justice due to a fear on his part that this Government would appoint a partisan board? He was approached with a request to make available one of the judges of the New South Wales Supreme Court. He should, therefore, have been satisfied as to the non-partisan composition of the board that it was the desire of this Government to appoint, and could have assisted in insuring that the board was non-partisan by acceding to this Government’s request. His refusal, therefore, was not on that ground. Nor was the request refused for constitutional reasons. The statement which the Prime Minister read showed, that the refusal was based on political reasons.
– He knew that the proposal of this Government was a political move.
– A few weeks ago Mr. Lang said that Australia should not be made the dumping-ground for undesirables from other countries, but when the opportunity presented itself to rid this country of such people, he failed to accept it. The reason that the State Premier will not act is not due to the fact that organized trade unionism is behind the strike. The action of the men here is opposed by the leader and 75 per cent, of the members of the British Seamen’s Union. The whole of organized labour in Great Britain is stated to be solidly opposed to this strike. The strike is unauthorized and unofficial. Evidently majority rule does not apply in this instance as it is said to apply in the caucus of the Opposition. It would appear that the majority of the British seamen 1 are not to have the deciding voice on a question which is their particular concern.
Saturday, 29 August 1925
– The time allotted for this stage of the bill having expired, I shall now put the question.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 13 .
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.7 to 1 a.m. (Saturday).
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 -
This act may be cited as the Peace Officers
– I do not know who evolved this title. The word “peace” denotes harmony, concord, goodwill; but nobody can seriously contend that this bill will promote those sentiments. I cannot believe that the person who named the bill gave any consideration to its contents. The title of a measure should be in keeping with its provisions, and a more appropriate appellation in this instance would be “The Commonwealth Disruption Act.” How can we use the word “peace” in connexion with a measure that will bring about a conflict with an existing State authority? For some reason unexplained, the Government has not thought fit to use the title “ Commonwealth Police Act,” which would indicate the setting up of a force to compete with the existing State police forces, and- duplicate expense. The sole purpose of these officers will be to arrest citizens with a view to their deportation. They will probably be required to go from State to State, and the only class of men whom I can conceive accepting such positions are the undesirables. No man with a spark of manliness would join this force. He would resent the duties that he would be called upon to perform, especially when the State authorities, who should be the best judges of peace and order within their own boundaries, declare that no Commonwealth officers are required. If a State Government were unable to control its populace, we could understand the Commonwealth Government going to its assistance.
– What has the State of New South Wales done to date to remove the disruptive element at work in the community ?
– It is unfortunate that the honorable member is obsessed with the bogy of communism to such an extent that his mind is warped. He can think of nothing else. The Government of New South Wales has kept the peace. It has a police force sufficient to ensure that the laws are observed in their entirety. Moreover, the citizens of that State are law-abiding, and a credit to the Commonwealth. They are able to conduct their own affairs, and require no assistance from the Commonwealth Government. Yet this is a proposal to do something hostile to the State Government which has just been put into office by the deliberate vote of the people.
– The honorable member is not now dealing with the short title of the bill.
– I amtrying to show that if this bill becomes operative, it will create disorder rather than peace, and, therefore, the word “peace” should not be employed in its title. We all desire peace, but the Government is not going the right way to bring it about.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– In my opinion, this is the way to bring about disorder.
– We on this side are of a different opinion.
– When the honorable member first entered this chamber I respected his opinion, and was often guided by it, but a great change for the worse has occurred in his outlook. The Commonwealth Government should seek to work in harmony with the State authorities. Although the Commonwealth has sovereign rights, which, perhaps, would be upheld in a court of law, even against a State, it cannot afford to interfere with State rights. How long will the Federation last if this Parliament passes legislation that trespasses upon the rights of the States? What would be the position of the Commonwealth, if, because of legislation of this kind, the large State of New South Wales seceded from the union? Why should the Commonwealth be deliberately offensive to the State of New South Wales? There is no doubt that the bill is directed against that State. I cannot, conceive of peace being promoted by legislation that is hostile to the party in power in any State. Apart from that, the right of the Commonwealth to create this force is questionable. There, is already in existence a Commonwealth Investigation Branch, which is in reality a police force. It was brought into existence at the time of the Warwick eggthrowing incident. Thousands of pounds of the taxpayers’ money has been spent upon it, but, so far as I know, it does nothing. In addition, there are the Intelligence Branch of the Defence Department, and the Naval Police. Therefore, what need exists for the creation of another Commonwealth police force? Will the Attorney-General explain why the officers to be appointed are not to be called “police”?
– Does not the honorable member know that every constable is a peace officer, and is known as such?
– The term- police is generally used. A “peace officer” signifies more than a policeman. The term “ peace “ is wrongly used, and I think that the Minister should substitute a more appropriate title for the bill.
– The Lender of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) knows full well that it is the
King’s peace, whether in the States or the Commonwealth, that has to be preserved. It is a term that we derive from the United Kingdom. Halsbury, in his volume dealing with this subject, says -
The modern system of police forces has been slowly evolved from the succession of peace officers who, at different times and under varying titles, have safeguarded the internal peace of the United Kingdom.
The Leader of the Opposition has, under cover of the short title of the bill, referred to its substance. He says that the bill is an interference on the part of the Commonwealth with the sovereign rights of the States. But all that the bill seeks to provide for is the enforcement of the laws of the Commonwealth. The honorable member admits that the New South Wales Government has refused to put its instrumentalities at the disposal of the Commonwealth, and, because wo are seeking the ‘ power to appoint our own instrumentalities, he says that this is interference on our part. It is not interference in the slightest degree. There should not be any want of harmony between the Commonwealth and the States. If we appoint Commonwealth officers, how will the peace of a State be affected? Any interference with a State’s peace will arise, not from Commonwealth action, but from action having its source outside Australia. It is the interests, not of New South Wales, but of Australia that must be safeguarded. There may be a few people in New South Wales who agree with the State Government’s refusal to lend its instrumentalities to the Commonwealth, but the great mass of Australian citizens who reside in that State have to be safeguarded and protected, and the purpose of the bill is to safeguard the peace of the Commonwealth.
– I suggest that a more suitable ‘title for the bill would be either “The States Irritation Act,” or “The States Suppression Act.” The Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bamford), the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) and myself are the only three members in this chamber . at this moment who had the privilege of being members of the first Federal Parliament. When I walked through the Queen’s Hall just now and looked at the portraits of such men as Alfred Deakin, Kingston, and Barton, who were members of the various conventions that drew up rhe Constitution, I thought that they would almost turn in their graves if they knew the uses to which it was now being put. I have not the temerity to declare myself a constitutional authority, but, after listening to the learned disquisition of the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) and the arguments advanced by the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom), I wonder whether there is anything in the Constitution to give to this Parliament power to pass a bill under which peace officers are to be appointed. The bill is declared to be necessary to carry out certain provisions of the Immigration Act which was recently passed. Section80 of the Constitution states -
The trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury, and every such trial shall be held in the State where the offence was committed, and, if the offence was not committed within any State, the trial shall be held at such place or places as the Parliament prescribes.
The Attorney-General, who claims to be one of the leading constitutional lawyers in Australia, and the honorable member for Kooyong, who also takes credit for being a constitutional authority, endeavoured to prove the constitutionality of this bill and of the Immigration Act. Section 51 of the Constitution says that the Parliament shall, subject to the Constitution, have power to make laws “ for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth.” Then follow a number of subjects on which the Commonwealth shall have power to legislate, the first being trade and commerce with other countries and between the States. Section 80 lays it down that the trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be a trial by jury.
– Trial by jury is restricted to indictable offences.
– The honorable member is not now at a mock parliament, such as he was to address “the other night at Prahran. He is here, to-night, in a Parliament of representatives of the people.
– I sometimes think that this is a mock parliament.
– If there is any legislation that qualifies or alters those sections that I have quoted, it has not been mentioned by any of the great constitutional authorities who have spoken on the bill.
– Do I understand the honorable member to say that a charge under the Customs Act must be tried by a jury?
– The act which gave rise to this bill must, to be constitutional, have a legal standing. That matter will probably be fought out at a later stage. This measure is called the ‘ ‘ Peace Officers Bill,” yet any attempt to put it into operation will produce anything but peace, because it will practically mean a declaration of war against the State of New South Wales. The Attorney-General stated, this afternoon, that it was not expedient to appoint a judge of the High Court to the proposed board, because the High Court might be a court of appeal. I asked him, by interjection, whether he would permit any person who might be convicted by the board, to appeal to the High Court, but he refused to answer. During the course of the debate, it has been said by members supporting the Government that nothing unfair will be attempted under the bill. Several speakers went so far as to claim that the board will not be partisan in its deliberations. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Ryrie) tried to suggest that the board could be relied upon to be impartial.’ But it must be recognized that if the board did not receive its orders at the time of its appointment it certainly obtained them this afternoon in the speech of the Prime Minister. I suppose that each member of the board will be furnished with a Hansard report of that speech. It is unthinkable that the board could give an impartial decision after the Prime Minister’s remarks. It knows what it is expected to do, and honorable members know what it will do irrespective of what evidence is submitted to it. Under the particular clause before the committee one is not allowed to discuss many aspects of the bill, and I shall therefore conclude my observations on this clause by saying that I oppose it, as I shall oppose every other clause, on the ground that every citizen of Australia is entitled to trial by jury.
– No matter what the offence ?
– In every State there are many offences for which trial by jury is not provided.
– What worse punishment could be inflicted than deportation!
– It is a very serious punishment for a very serious offence.
– The more serious the offence the greater reason why the person charged should be tried in the open courts of the land under the eyes of his countrymen, and should be given the benefit of that grand old principle of British justice - trial by jury. I should like to hear the honorable member for Fawkner defending the persons against whom this measure is supposed to be directed. The eloquence he has displayed in his fight against the shadow of communism would be nothing compared with the rhetoric he would employ in showing the enormity of the injustice done to them by depriving them of the right to an impartial trial by a jury of their peers.
– The Attorney-General is entirely under a misapprehension as to the real effect that this bill will have. I can hardly imagine that such an old campaigner and man of the world as he, is satisfied that when the measure is put into operation it will assist in maintaining the peace and good government of the Commonwealth; indeed, it must have an entirely opposite effect. The persons against whom the bill is directed may have been guilty of errors of judgment, but thousands of persons who have no sympathy with their particular views, when they find that men are to be deported, and deprived. of the right of trial by jury, will rush to the support of the Australian Seamen’s Union. This measure will be resented by the whole of the industrialists of Australia, and the Prime Minister and every honorable member opposite must realize it. The honorable member for Fawkner said that he would have pleasure in voting for the bill. Have I not heard him on other occasions declare that he does” not believe in force, but stands for the liberty of the subject? Now this gentleman, who knows the laws of the country, condones the action of the Government. When the bill designed for the deportation of certain persons from Australia was under consideration, an agreement was arrived at that made that bill futile. At that time honorable members on- this side could plainly see signs of intense disappointment on the faces of honorable members opposite that industrial peace had been brought about. In fact, the honorable member for Fawkner stated this evening that the agreement then arrived at was a farce. Does he not know that the seamen of Australia are working under that agreement to-day, and that British seamen in all parts of the world are in a state of unrest. Numbers of ships are held up by British seamen in the ports of Great Britain. The statements that have been made in the Australian press that certain men in this country are responsible for that are utterly false. It is well known that the British seamen, whose wages have been reduced, are suffering under a deep sense of wrong. The Attorney-General knows well that the result of this measure will be industrial disturbance throughout Australia.
– I certainly know nothing of the sort.
– This so-called Peace Officers Bill could be more appropriately termed “ The Incitement- to Industrial Disturbances Bill.” The Australian overseas trade, at any rate, is so far uninjured. A number of ships are held up in Sydney Harbour to-day, but they could be manned by Australian seamen, at Australian rates, of wages, in order to carry our wool and. wheat’ overseas if the Government so determined. It is a question of wages, however, and the Government does not want vessels carrying Australian commerce to be manned by Australian seamen in receipt of Australian rates; it wants Australian commerce carried at the .sweating rates of wages that are being forced upon a section of starving seamen in Great Britain. It wants to take advantage of the necessities of those men, and for that reason there is unrest. This bill will be regarded as an attack on the Australian seamen, who are in a state of industrial peace. Once industrial leaders have been seized, no industrialist in Australia, who was born in Great Britain, will feel safe. There will be in the Labour movement a general call to arms, not only of the transport workers, but also of the industrialists all over Australia. The experience of the conscription issue will be repeated. During the conscription campaign honorable members opposite kept denouncing as disloyal nien who were loyal. If a man is called disloyal often enough, he soon says, “ Damn it, I am disloyal, and the people who attack me on questions affecting my personal liberty will find that I can fight as an Australian first, and as a Britisher.” The Government will discover that this bill, instead of bringing peace, will bring a sword. The issue of the present dispute is in the balance. Ministers know the position. They know that because of the starved condition of the British seamen the strike is likely to collapse at any moment. Why, then, is the Government proceeding with this legislation ? Does it feel that its honour is at stake ? Has it been whipped up by the daily press to continue this business ? Why does it not make a moral stand and say to the press of this country, “ We are going to maintain the peace, order, and good government of this country, and whatever power the Immigration Act may give us, this is no time to cause industrial disturbances, even if to do so would give us ti political advantage that we have no possible chance of obtaining otherwise ? “ The Government is sacrificing the peace of Australia for a political advantage. The communists promulgate certain doctrines; they talk about the class struggle, and say that in society since the dawn of history there have been only two classes, the exploiters and the exploited. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) holds up his hands in horror and says that that is an abominable doctrine ;. but the Government, by its action, is doing more to spread that doctrine than all the communists in Australia could do. We are unfortunate in having a Prime Minister who was nurtured in the colleges of another country, who was not reared iu an Australian atmosphere, who has no knowledge of the difficulties under which Australian workers have had to labour, who entirely misunderstands Australian .sentiment, and who, with his henchmen, the Attorney-General and others, is determined at any price to create disorder so as to obtain a political advantage. They have no chance of going to the hustings and winning the next election by this means.
– I intend to deal with this bill in a calm and unimpassioned way. It aims at settling an industrial dispute.
The Government says that the cause of the dispute is that some of the industrial leaders in the Commonwealth have incited men to strike, and it has formed a. board for the purpose of deporting them. This alleged inciting to strike has occurred only in Sydney. Why,, then, are the British seamen in Melbourne on strike? They have had no communication with the seamen in Sydney.
– How does the honorable member know that ?
– I know by the evidence of my own eyes and ears, and by reading the signs of the times. The Melbourne men acted on their own initiative, without consulting Walsh, Johannsen, or any one else. The same statement is true of the seamen in Brisbane. There is also a strike in New -Zealand, and another in Great Britain. I make no apology for justifying the men who. are on strike. A conference was held iu Great Britain to decide the wages dispute.
– It was not a conference; it. was the National Maritime Board .
– My interpretation of what has occurred is that a conference was held, and while these men were at sea, and without consulting them, a reduction of their wages was decided upon. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) says that these men are disloyal to their union, but they had no voice in the decision, and when they lauded and heard that a reduction of their wages had been made, they objected to it. They have every rightto object. We do not know whether they signed on iu England for the full rate of £10 a month, for the newspapers have been silent on that point. Usually when men leave port their wages and conditions of employment for the trip are set out in their articles. What will be the effect of putting the bill into operation? If I was a unionist and my leader was arrested and threatened with deportation, I should be loya] to him and say to- the Government, “If you want to fight, let there be a fight.” This bill will provoke a fight, and if a fight does take place, every coal-miner in the country may down tools, and every railway man may refuse to carry on. The Attorney-General and his friends say, “ If the State will not carry out the Federal law, we will,” but they are taking only one step. They are proposing to appoint constables, but where will those constables put their prisoners? Does the Government intend to build jails to contine the prisoners, and railways to transport them from State to State?
– Does the hon«orable member contend that a State should refuse to discharge its constitutional obligations?
– The State of New South Wales is justified in the stand it has taken. It was a trick on the part of this Government to get the Government of New South Wales to do its dirty work. If I were a member of the State Cabinet I would defy the Commonwealth Government to put any New South Wales citizen into jail. New South Wales is the largest State in Australia, and contributes more revenue to the Commonwealth than any other State. Although it has the largest representation in this House, the Government is challenging it to a fight. If that State withdraws from the federation, the federation will fall to pieces. I know that the word “indissoluble” is in the Constitution, but if we try to force the State Governments .to do a thing they do not want to do they will justifiably rebel. In this matter the people of New South Wales will be behind their Government. When this bill becomes law, the Commonwealth Government will be the laughingstock of the country. I do not know Mr. Walsh, and have never spoken to him, but if I were he I would go to the Premier of New South Wales, and 3ay to him, “ I am threatened with arrest. I ask your protection, as you are the Premier of this State, and I throw myself on the State Government.” What would take place? Suppose the State Government said, “We will not allow you to be taken out of this State. You are one of our. taxpayers, and you have broken none of our laws, or any of the laws of the Commonwealth.”
– Mr. Walsh has broken a law of the Commonwealth.
– He has not. He is not a striker. A man does not make himself liable to the penalties of the law merely because he addresses a meeting. If he did, every trade unionist in this country could be deported! The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) said, “If you threaten us we will threaten you, and we will bring the boys from the Snowy River to man the ships.” I should like to see “ the boys from the Snowy River “ taking charge of our ships and going to sea, or going down the coal-mines and taking the place of the coal-miners. They may be capable of doing outdoor work, but for skilled work, such as that performed by seamen, firemen, engineers, and stewards, the boys from the Snowy River are no good. I congratulate the Government of New South Wales on its attitude, and I say that it should go further, and not allow one of its citizens, who has committed no offence under the laws of the State, to be arrested. I am sorry that the Government has no cry on which to go to the country. It may think it can go to the country and win the elections on this bill. That would be a fair fight. Members on this side stand behind the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition, and are quite ready to let the electors decide the matter. I ask supporters of the bill to read the industrial history of other parts of the world. There are industrial disputes in other places, but nowhere except in Australia has a Government taken power to deport people for making speeches in connexion with a strike. This trouble is- due to an attempt to reduce the wages of British seamen, who are now asked to work seven days a week and accept £9 a month. Not so long ago they received £21 a month, but because of the huge, army of unemployed in the Old Country, their rates have been reduced considerably. The profits of the companies have, however, not been reduced. The luxuriously appointed vessels of 21,000 tons which come to our ports have not been constructed out of losses
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mann). - The honorable member is getting a little wide of the subject.
– If legislation of this nature is put into operation, it will fail; and even if four or five men are deported, the unions will quickly overcome the difficulty by appointing Australianborn members to take their places. Honorable members should examine the balance-sheets of the shipping companies to see the profits that have been made.
– They should also examine the balance-sheets of the Commonwealth Government Shipping Line, and then think about it.
– Evidently the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) desires that the wages of the men employed on the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers shall be reduced. No doubt, he would prefer that black labour be employed, because it would be cheaper. The title of the bill should be amended. I suggest that the bill should be called, “A bill for an act to authorize body-snatching,” or “A bill for an act to irritate and cause strikes throughout the country,” or “Bruce’s Bullies, Pratten’s Pugs, or Marr’s Marionettes.” This party will oppose it at every stage. Personally, I hope thatthe Prime Minister will accept the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition, and thatan appeal to the electors will be made.
Mr.LAZZARINI(Werriwa) [2.4 a.m.].- The Attorney-General endeavoured to show that the title of the bill was justified and stated that the King’s peace was in danger. If a measure of this kind is calculated to maintain the King’s peace, I should like to know the class of measure which would cause trouble and turmoil. To apply the word “peace” to legislation of this nature is to misuse the English language.The bill shows the extent of the Government’s hypocrisy, as peace is the last thing the Government desired when this legislation was framed. Men who are prepared to accept the positions to be created by this bill, and to bring misery and suffering to men, women, and children, by doing the dirty work of the Government, are not true men - I should call them worms. They are anything but peace officers. The Government and its supporters do not care what suffering is caused, so long as they achieve their object. The Prime Minister said that, having put their hands to the plough, they would not turn back. They will not turn back, because they are afraid to offend those who are driving them. This is supposed to he an urgent measure yet the supporters of the Government are, in the main, absent from the chamber. This measure, like one with which we dealt recently, may be de scribed as the last throw of the gambler’s dice. ‘In five of the six States Labour Governments are now in office. The Government sees that unless something is done to discredit the Labour party its own days are numbered. This bill has been introduced to divert attention from the defects of the Government. There is no necessity for it, and to say that the King’s peace is endangered is to say something which is not justified by the facts. No one is threatened with violence, nor is any one’s life in danger. These so-called peace officers will stir up strife wherever they go. The Government knows that in the past unionists have fought for their rights, and that they are prepared to do so again, and, therefore, an attempt is being made to irritate them, and thus create an atmosphere favorable to its supporters at the next election. If that is the only hope of the Government, it is a very poor one. In the hope that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) will move that the title of the bill be altered, I suggest that its proper title would be, “A bill for an act to enable the Government to create industrial turmoil and frame-ups.” Nothing is too desperate for the Government in its present situation. Because I realize that the people of this country will not stand for legislation of this kind, I hope that the Prime Minister, who to-day prated so much of . his courage, will accept the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition.
– We must all realize that the introduction of a bill bearing the title given to the measure indicates that things in this country have come to a very serious pass. Any one who considers the events of the last eight or nine months must agree that unless the Government stood up to its responsibility in this matter, it would be absolutely unfit to continue governing the country. If it had not taken the steps it has taken, it would not have had my continued support. In saying this, I think I can speak for the whole of the members of the party on this side. I have travelled through a great part of the Commonwealth, and I think I may add that if the Government had not taken thi3 action it would have lost not only the support of honorable members on this side, but the support and respect of all right-thinking people outside this House.
– I rise to order. I submit, with great confidence, that the observations of the honorable member are quite irrelevant to the clause now under discussion. It must be obvious that an elaborate argument upon industrial questions, the duty of the Government to- wards offenders against the peace, and cognate matters is quite irrelevant to this particular clause. Such an argument might have been appropriately submitted on the second reading of the bill, and in some respects might conceivably be appropriate to certain other clauses of the measure.
– In submitting a point of order, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is not entitled to make a speech, except on the point of order. Will he submit his point of order?
– I was submitting it, and I thought it right in doing so to support it.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order?
– It is that the observations of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) are irrelevant to the clause. They do not relate to* the title of the bill. I point out, by way of illustration, that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini); who spoke on the clause, directed his attention to the title, and said that it might possibly be-
– Order ! The honorable member, having submitted his point of order, I am prepared to give my ruling on it.
– Do I understand, sir, that you prefer not to hear argument on it?
– It is not necessary. I am prepared to rule on the point of order.
– If you, sir, are prepared to’ rule in accordance with my contention I have no objection, but, otherwise, I think I am entitled to submit argument in support of the point I raise.
– . A considerable amount of latitude has been granted in this debate to honorable members on both sides. The remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie were a little wide of the question, but not more irrelevant than were the observations of some other honorable members. I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks as closely as possible to the clause.
– I shall endeavour to do so. I think I am justified in replying to the arguments used by honorable members on the other side in discussing the clause. Although, like other honorable members opposite, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that the title would be amended; he previously traversed a great deal of ground in what he had to say. Any one who considers the matter will agree that the title proposed for the bill is one which discloses exactly the intention of the measure. The object of the Government is to bring about and ensure the continuance of industrial peace, and the bill is therefore rightly entitled a Peace Officers Bill. The peace officers will have the duty of seeing that those who have been doing anything but keep the peace shall be brought. to book.
– I rise to a point of order. . Is the honorable member in order in talking about the way in which some people have been breaking the laws of the country? It seems to me that the clause does not provide for a dissertation of such a character.
– The subject of the debate is whether the title of the bill is or is not a suitable title for it. The honorable member for Macquarie was addressing his remarks to the subject of the clause, and was in order.
– I may be a little disconcerted, but not to such an extent as honorable members opposite would desire, by their frivolous points of order.
– Is that in order?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is not entitled to describe the points of order raised by honorable members as “ frivolous.”
– I withdraw the word “frivolous”; but you, sir, have rightly ruled that the points of order raised were absolutely without justification.
– I rise to a point of order. The fact that you, sir, have ruled that the points of order I raised were justified, compels me to ask that the honorable member should withdraw a statement which reflects, not only upon my point of order, but upon your judgment. .
– I ruled that the honorable member for Macquarie was not entitled to describe the points of order raised as frivolous, but I did not commit myself to saying that they were justified.
– The title of the bill indicates that it is the intention of the Government to preserve industrial peace in the Commonwealth by means of this measure. It is unfortunate that the Government should have been driven reluctantly to take this course. During the last eight months it has done everything it possibly could to prevent industrial trouble. The adoption of this course has been forced upon the Government by the absolutely unjustifiable position taken up by the Premier of New South Wales.
– I rise to a point of order. The clause under consideration does not permit of an honorable member reflecting upon the Premier of a sovereign State of the Commonwealth. How can the title of this bill possibly involve the Premier of one of the States?
– Order ! The remarks which the honorable member for Macquarie was addressing to the committee were in order.
– The honorable member for Werriwa, speaking to the clause, said that by the introduction of this bill the Government intended to create a political psychology that would be satisfactory to it in the future. The honorable member misunderstands the psychology of the people of this country if he thinks that a majority, or even a substantial minority, of the people approve of the existing condition of affairs which this measure is intended to remedy. Such a measure is necessary to cope with the condition of affairs, not only in New South Wales, but also in Western Australia. One of the boats from South Africa is held up at Bunbury, and the Prime Minister of South Africa, who leads a Labour Government-
– I rise to a point of order. The question of boats being held up at Bunbury has absolutely nothing to do with the title of the bill.
– The honorable member for Macquarie. is in order. He is contending that a state of industrial unrest calls for the reestablishment of industrial peace, and his remarks are in order.
– I am reluctantly compelled, sir, to move that your ruling be dissented from.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Will the honorable member put his objection in writing?
– I rise to a point of order. Are honorable members opposite in order in delaying the proceedings of the committee by conferring with regard to the motion of dissent?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I am waiting for the honorable member for Maribyrnong to hand in his written motion of dissent.
– I will read it - that is the usual procedure.
– Order !
– I move -
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member will please hand in his motion.
– I must move it before I hand it in, and I am surprised at you, sir, trying to call me to order.
– The honorable member must be careful.
– Not for you.
– I warn the honorable member.
– One would infer from your manner of bullying honorable members that you were one of the Commonwealth police.
– One of Page’s “bullies.”
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ruled that the honorable member for Macquarie was in order in referring to the industrial disturbance now existing in order to prove the necessity for industrial peace. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has moved that my ruling be dissented from. The motion must be decided forthwith.
– I rise to a point of order in regard to the demeanour of the Chair towards the members of this committee.
– Order ! The honorable member must resume his seat. Whilst I desire to maintain order with due regard to the feelings of honorable members, I do not intend to allow them to abuse their privileges. Respect is due not to the Chairman personally, but to him as the representative of the authority of the committee.
– Before you interrupt me you should at least listen to me. The Chairman has no right to use threatening language to honorable members.
– Order ! I now warn the honorable member, and beg him to take heed of the warning. If the honorable member persists in this conduct, I shall have to take action.
– You have no right to tell any honorable member that he must be careful. If the conduct of honorable members does not meet with your approval, there is a proper method of proceeding against them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member will not resume his seat I shall be obliged to appeal to the authority of the House.
– Well, do not use threatening language to us. Do not tell us to be careful.
– Before I was interrupted, I was pointing out the necessity for peace officers, not only in New South Wales, but also in Western Australia. The Government would have been guilty of a gross dereliction of duty if it had not, when specially appealed to by the Labour Prime Minister of South Africa and Mr. Havelock Wilson, president of the Seamen’s Union in Great Britain, taken action to preserve peace. In Great Britain a deliberate attempt has been made by non-unionists to disrupt the Seamen’s Union, and upset the understanding arrived at between the employers and the members of that union. There is not the slightest doubt that the men who recently created the trouble in Australian ports are now inciting the seamen on the British boats to strike. They have overawed other Labour leaders to such an extent that they have not uttered one word of protest. Those extremists are a danger to this country, and should be removed.
.The feature of this debate that has surprised me most is the number of members opposite who have posed as the wellwishers of trade unionism.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Reid is not confining his remarks to the clause.
– I am waiting for the honorable member to connect his remarks with the clause.
– I trust, sir, that you will extend to me the same latitude as was granted to the honorable member for Macquarie. He said that certain men are a danger to trade unionism, and I was surprised that he should pose as a friend of the working class.
– I rise to a point of order. Honorable members opposite claimed that I was out of order in referring to their arguments, and I now ask whether the honorable member for Reid is confining his remarks to the clause?
– I think the point of order raised by the honorable member is frivolous.
– I object to that word, and ask that it be withdrawn.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the expression.
– Although the word is not unparliamentary, I withdraw it in deference to the honorable member’s youthfulness and lack of parliamentary experience. Although the honorable member, when speaking, rambled all over the subject, he is taking exception to the remarks of the honorable member for Reid almost before he has had a chance to complete a sentence. The proceedings of the committee must not be allowed to degenerate into a farce.
– This is merely repetition of the tactics adopted by honorable members opposite.
– I ask honorable members to bo considerate in their attitude towards the Chair,and to assist me tomaintain order.
– It was in order to assist you, sir, that I rose to a point of order. In view of the statement that you have made, I hope that order will be preserved.
-I was surprised at the arguments put forward in support of the bill by the alleged friends of trade unionism. To my mind, the title of this measure should be altered to read, “ This act may be cited as the Market Riggers, the Land Monopolists, the Squatters, the Black Birders, and the Flinders-lane Merchants Justification Act 1925.”
– Is not that a little far-fetched?
– It is no more farfetched than the action of honorable members opposite representing the interests to which I refer in my amendment, in speaking of themselves as friends of trade unionism. The whole thing savours of the worst cant, hypocrisy, and humbug. The honorable member for Macquarie spoke about right-thinking people. In his opinion the only right-thinking people are those who think with him. He quite ignores the fact that the right-thinking people have elected Labour Governments in five States of Australia. The prophecy that has been uttered from this side of the chamber that it will shortly be seen that we represent the majority of the people, and are, therefore, justified in taking every possible objection to this legislation is justified in the light of recent history. The bill, although designated a peace measure, will bring about a condition of war. Reference has been made during the debate to a statement made by Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales. In that statement he definitely declared, on behalf of the Government of that State, that he was prepared to see that the laws of the Commonwealth and the States were observed.
– On a point of order, I wish to know whether the honorable member by reading a statement from the press is not digressing from the clause under discussion.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I regret that as my attention was otherwise occupied I did not hear what the honorable member for Reid was saying.
– I was suggesting that the title of the bill should be altered, and to support my argument I was reading a certain extract from a manifesto issued by the Premier of New South Wales.
The bill is unnecessary, because he has already definitely said that he is prepared to see that the laws of the Commonwealth and of the State are observed. I utter my protest against the senseless manner in which this Government is carrying on the business of the country, and leave it at that.
– I suggest that it is quite unusual to dwell on the title of a bill. My sense of decency leads me to express the hope that honorable members will not degrade Parliament as they are doing.
– I rise to a point of order. Do you consider, Mr. Chairman, that the honorable member for Wakefield is in order in saying that honorable members are degrading this House? I take strong exception to his remark, and ask for its withdrawal.
– The honorable member did not say that any honorable members were degrading Parliament, but he implored them not to do so.
– I take the point of order that the honorable member for Wakefield is not confining his remarks to the clause under discussion.
– That matter is one for the chairman to decide.
– I ask honorable members opposite to show some sense of fairness to honorable members on this side.
– The honorable member is not in order in pursuing the course he is adopting. I ask him to confine himself to the clause.
– May I be permitted to ask honorable members opposite not to waste the time of the committee?
– I submit that the honorable member is reflecting upon members of the committee in suggesting that they are deliberately wasting time, and I ask that the remark be withdrawn.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I again appeal to honorable members on both sides of the chamber to respect the chair, and assist in observing the rules of debate. The points of order raised on both sides are becoming of a frivolous nature, and I shall be obliged to regard them as such if honorable members do not respect the Chair.
– May I respectfully suggest that I and other honorable members desire to discuss the vital points of the bill, and honorable members opposite will show consideration to myself and others, as well as study the interests of the country, if they pass this clause so that more time may be available for the consideration of more serious aspects of the measure.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. There is only an hour left, and I suggest that the clause be allowed to go to a division.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority …… 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Power to appointpeaceofficers).
– This clause provides that the AttorneyGeneral may appoint police officers of such ranks or grades as he deems necessary for the preservation of the peace throughout the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the Minister should not be permitted to make these appointments, because the duties that the officers will be expected to carry out have a direct relation to a certain coercive measure recently passed by Parliament, which I feel sure will tend to disturb the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth’. Ministries that have endeavoured to shackle the community with legislation of this nature have always been strongly censured by the people. When the Wade Government of New South Wales, the Government in South Australia of which Mr. Homburg was Attorney-General, and in later years the Barwell Government in that State, introduced coercive legislation, their action met with wellmerited disapproval at the hands of the people, and they were relieved of office. I predict that the present Government will have a similar experience, for at the first opportunity the electors will condemn the action that it is now taking. The arguments advanced in support of this bill are very flimsy, and devoid of logic. Supporters of it have all failed to justify it, and no satisfactory explanation has been given of the panicky haste displayed. The AttorneyGeneral should not be given power to authorize the appointment of . peace officers. He knows that thi3 hill is, a spectacular demonstration, made with the object of impressing the people of the Commonwealth, and producing a psychological effect which will be favorable to the Government at the polls. It will, no doubt, be used as an election cry. Members of the Government deceive themselves if they think that they will obtain any success by this means. What has happened in the past gives us reason for thinking that they will receive wellmerited censure at the hands of the people. The bill violates all the established principles of Democracy, and destroys our boasted liberties, which our previous legislation has amply safeguarded. So far from preserving the peace, this bill will cause serious unrest, dissatisfaction, and. resentment, and will probably cmbroil the whole Commonwealth in a disturbance the like of which has not previously been equalled. I should be wanting in my duty as a good Australian, if I did not at this juncture, and at the earliest opportunity, express my disapproval of this bill, and in particular of clause 2 of it, which will give to the Attorney-General power to imperil the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth. It is remarkable that the effort of the Government to make an impression on the minds of the people synchronizes with a well organized propaganda in the press of this country - a propaganda which is doing more harm to the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth than any other circumstance. The Prime Minister said it was the intention of the Government to deport certain industrial and trade union leaders; nut he made no mention of the appointment by the AttorneyGeneral ofpeace officers to compel those who have not done so in the past to pay their just dues to the Treasury, or of the intention to summon before the Bar of Justice criminals who endeavoured to sell to the Commonwealth ships that would imperil the lives of any persons who might travel in them. The Government does not desire to bring such people to the Bar of Justice. Honorable member.? on this side do not endorse branches of constitutional authority, but, as an honorable member on this side said last evening, there comes a time when the patience and endurance of law-abiding respectable citizens are exhausted. As a law-maker, it would ill-become me to advocate law-breaking; and it is with the idea of preventing law-breaking that I object to concede to the AttorneyGeneral the powers set out in clause 2. This bill brings to my mind legislation that was passed on another occasion to establish,on a very flimsy pretext, a Commonwealth Police Force. We know something of the waste of public money occasioned by that force. The service, if it can be called such, that the force rendered did not iu any way tend to preserve the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, but rather to disturb the minds of the people, and make them feel that they were being subjected to tyranny. That force was a means of intimidating orderly citizens. I feel that that experience, for which Australia paid so dearly, will be repeated. The people are about to be deprived of certain liberties, and to suffer a restriction of their right to freely express their thoughts and ideals. Honorable members opposite have endeavoured to picture a degree of unrest which, they allege, prevails in Australia, and requires the services of the peace officers. That unrest exists only in their own imagination. The people of Australia will not be deceived by their wild and exaggerated speeches, but will seek ito know what prompted the British seamen to strike. The strike is no concern of the Commonwealth; but this Government has been requested to do the bidding of certain interests abroad, and is doing it in the hope of obtaining thereby a further tenure of office. This action of the Government is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Representative government has vanished from Australia, the country is ruled by a capitalistic junta,! and tyranny reigns supreme. There is grave danger in giving to the Attorney-General added powers which will enable him to appoint men who will be likely to further imperil the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth. Regarding the British seamen who to-day, in various Australian ports, are protesting against unfair treatment, it should be stated that their conditions are among the worst experienced by any white workers in the shipping industry. I am concerned that these British seamen have been forced to take this action to secure redress of their wrongs. When they left Great Britain they believed that they were to be paid the rates which then prevailed. The officials of the Australian Seamen’s Union have not precipitated this trouble; they were approached by the British seamen for advice and protection against the great shipping combine. A report presented to the Canadian Parliament by Mr. W. T. R. Preston contains some illuminating figures and Statements concerning the ramifications of this great octopus-like combine which slowly but surely is getting its tentacles upon the social and industrial life of Great Britain, and will, if not checked, do the same with Australia. The Government is prepared to aid this combine, with the object of reducing wages and lowering the existing conditions of employment.
– Nonsense !
– I ask the honorable member not to treat me as if I were a child, and he my schoolmaster. I neither desire nor need his assistance. When the people of Gippsland have the opportunity, they will return to this Parliament, in place of him, a man who understands the situation. I hope that the Committee will exercise discretion, and not permit this clause to pass. About twelve months ago Melbourne had a taste of what is likely to happen if special constables or peace officers are again appointed. Their appointment will tend to create disturbances and ugly situations. I hope that the committee will not be deceived by the Government, which desires to bring about a crisis, in the hope that it may create an atmosphere favorable to its supporters at the next election.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) was not correct in his statement regarding the conditions under which British seamen are working. He would have been more honest if he had placed the true position before the committee. At a banquet the other day, Mr. Havelock Wilson said-
– Did the honorable member say “banquet”?
– Yes. It is good to know that masters and men are sometimes prepared to sit down at the same table and discuss the conditions obtaining in their industry. Mr. Havelock Wilson on that occasion said that British sailors were paid better wages, and enjoyed better conditions, than the seamen of any other European nation.
– Would the honorable member be satisfied with £2 5s. a week?
– If honorable members would be a little more honest, they would realize the awful conditions through which Great Britain has passed in recent years. Every decent man would be delighted to know that British seamen were obtaining better pay and better conditions, and I believe that when Great Britain emerges from her present troubles, which are the result of her taking up the cause of civilization, better conditions will prevail. I regret that it is necessary to pass a bill which provides for the appointment of these peace officers. That it is necessary is a disgrace to some of the States of the Commonwealth. The stigma will remain on them for many years, and will not be a good advertisement for Australia. If peace and good government were uppermost in the minds of those who are in office in some of the States to-day, these things would not be. This debate has been remarkable for the display of inconsistency and hypocrisy associated with it. The present strike is not an effort in the interests of unionism. It is unofficial, and is intended to hamper one of the greatest unions of seamen in the world, led by one of the most honest characters that has ever led any body of seamen. Will any honorable member tell me that Mr. Havelock Wilson does not hold the highest place in the esteem -of British seamen?
– I rise to a point of order. What has Havelock Wilson to do with the clause under discussion? In view, sir, of the treatment you meted out to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), I ask you to keep the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) to the clause before the committee.
– The honorable member for Wakefield is wandering a little from the clause, but as it embodies the whole principle of the’ measure I have permitted some latitude in its discussion.
– The introduction of this bill is the result of an appeal by Mr. Havelock Wilson and by the Prime Minister of England to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. The present” 3trike is more in favour of Russian sovietism and internationalism than of true unionism. I am sure that 80 per cent, of the unionists of Australia will admire the speeches made on the measure from the Government side. They will he able to gather from those speeches what this business really means. The most powerful indictment that could be brought against honorable members on the other side is contained in the speeches they have made on this measure. The wild wreckers are not concerned to promote the true interests of Australia, and this debate will show who are for Australia and who are for those who would wreck Australia. Honorable members opposite suggest that we on this Side are biased in favour of the shipping and capitalistic interests, but they know better. Let them learn from the farmers of tnis country what disturbances in connexion with the shipping business have meant to them during the last twelve or eighteen months.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must speak more strictly to the question.
Mr.FOSTER. - I submit that the creation of the peace force is the kernel of the bill. “We have taken the power previously to do all that it is necessary to do to deal with these matters, with the exception of the establishment of a force to carry out our intention. This bill would not have been needed if the governments of some of the States of Australia served the Commonwealth instead of their own selfish, political interests. I would despise any honorable member on this side who would make this a party question. I give honorable members opposite more credit than to believe that they have any faith in what they are doing. I would despise any government that would give up this fight until we have rendered powerless every wrecker or sent him out of the country. Honorable members know that immediately after the settlement of the recent strike an unreasonable objection was raised, and if the present trouble is settled and we do not get these men out of the country they will within a month unearth some new reason for creating a disturbance. It is about time that Australia put its house in order, and that will be done this time.
.The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has spoken of the magnificent speeches made by Government supporters. I have listened to those speeches, and have recognized in them only the repetition of irrelevant observations. The clause under consideration authorizes the Attorney-General to appoint such peace officers as he deems necessary for the preservation of peace throughout the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the clause and the bill are entirely unnecessary. I commend the action of the Labour Government of New South “Wales in refusing to be a party to the capitalistic manoeuvre of the composite Federal Government by making available State machinery to carry out its conspiracy. The New South Wales Government was justified in informing the Commonwealth Government that it should employ its own machinery. We have, already in existence Commonwealth machinery which could be used to give effect to the purpose of the Government. I refer to the Commonwealth Police Force, the members of which are chiefly employed in the naval depots at the present time. Some honorable members may not be aware of the fact that on the current year’s estimates provision is made for the salaries of 39 police officials, 35 of whom are employed in New South Wales. There is provision for the salary of one subinspector of police, three police sergeants, eight senior constables, and eight constables. A vote of £9,850 is on the estimates for the maintenance of a police force during the current financial year. Yet the Government hysterically asks Parliament to agree to an appropriation of further moneys for the creation of a new force. Besides the Commonwealth Police Force already in existence, there is an investigation branch, which, I believe, is a remnant of the Commonwealth Police force brought into existence by the Hughes administration. ‘ There is, in each State of the Commonwealth, an inspector and an inquiry officer. The duties likely to devolve upon the force provided for in the bill, are very distasteful, and I am glad that the New South Wales Government has relieved its police of the obligation to carry them out. If it is the intention of the Government to give effect to its legislation, it should employ those whonj it has already in its service. It professes to be an economical administration. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page$ said that it was his intention to keep a tight hand on the public ‘purse, but he is now a party to this proposal for needless and extravagant expenditure. I wish the Government would display the same eagerness to. do many of the things it has left undone that it displays in the passing of this legislation; I refer particularly to the collection of the arrears of land tax. The Government has exhibited indecent haste in this matter. I cannon see why we should have been called upon to sit through these long hours to pass this measure when there would be plenty of time next week to give itmature consideration. So far as I am aware, no trade unionists are inciting British seamen to disturb the order and good government of the Commonwealth. I urge the Government to exhibit greater haste in making provision for the proposed increase of the old-age pension which it has considered advisable to place in its election show window.
– The time allotted for the discussion of the committee stage of the bill up to the end of clause 3 has expired, and I shall therefore put the question.
Question - That clauses 2 and 3 be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority …. … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Every person taking and subscribing any such oath shall be deemed to have thereby entered into a written agreement and be thereby bound to serve His Majesty as a Peace Officer from the day on which the oath has been taken and subscribed until he is legally discharged :
Provided that -
No such agreement shall be set aside, cancelled, or annulled for want of reciprocity; and
Such’ agreement may be cancelled at any time by the lawful discharge, dismissal, or other removal from office of any such person, or by the resignation of any such person accepted by the Attorney-General or other person having the . power to appoint Peace Officers.
– What is meant by a proviso a? I can come to no other conclusion than that it means that the agreement shall not be set aside because the State police will not work with Commonwealth officers. If that is so, what are to be the duties of these peace officers?
– To draw their salaries.
– That is evident. We cannot create police to usurp the powers of the State police and come into conflict with the State authorities. The bill does not prescribe the duties that they should perform. Apparently they are to be appointed for the one purpose of arresting three or four men.
– The duties are prescribed in clause 2.
– What does the word “reciprocity” mean?
– It refers to the contract between the peace officers and His Majesty.
– The State police also have a contract with His Majesty.
– These men . are to be a bodyguard for the Prime Minister.
– I do not know what the Government may be anticipating. We are not justified in passing this clause until its meaning is explained. It may lead to the disruption of the relations between the Commonwealth and the States. If that should happen, we on this side of the chamber will accept no responsibility for it; but I insist that if these men are to be appointed for a specific duty, that duty should be mentioned in the bill. Under this clause the police officer is to enter into an agreement which cannot be set aside, cancelled, or annulled for want of reciprocity. There may be something behind that phrasing which will bring disaster in its train so far as Com- monwealth and State interests are concerned. This is the first time since federation that there has been a conflict between the Commonwealth and one of the States, and this clause, if it is passed in its present form, may take out of the hands of the State Government the right to manage its own Police Department. I have never before seen such phrasing used in the drafting of a bill. Under the clause the agreement may be cancelled at any time by the lawful discharge, dismissal, or removal from office of any officer. It is difficult to understand what would be considered a lawful discharge?
– The agreement could not be cancelled if the discharge were not lawful.
– I thank the honorable member for enlightening me on that matter. I shall be glad to have an explanation of this clause from the AttorneyGeneral.
– The Leader of the Opposition- (Mr. Charlton) stated that he had not seen the phrase “for. want of reciprocity” in any statute previously, and I can quite understand his position, because tlie phrasing is unusual. In this particular instance the actual phrasing of the clause is almost in the very words that appear in sections 11 and 12 of the Queensland Police Regulation Act. That act states that -
Every person taking and subscribing any such oath shall be deemed to have thereby entered into a written agreement. . . . ‘Provided that no such agreement shall be set aside, cancelled, or annulled for want of reciprocity.
The necessity for the words “ for want of reciprocity” arises from the fact that every person subscribing the oath shall be deemed to have entered into a contract. To make the contract binding there must be what is known as reciprocity of assent between the two parties, and this is deemed to be a contract between the constable or peace officer and the Crown. There is a mutuality of consent between the Crown and the consenting party. The word “reciprocity” in the clause has nothing to do with agreements between the State and the Commonwealth, or between bodies within the State.
.I was pleased to hear the explanation of the Attorney-General, but I consider it to be as clear as mud. The Attorney-
General told us that the clause was copied from the Queensland Police Regulation Act, hut he did not say what the word “ reciprocity “ meant in regard to the annulment of an agreement.
– The honorable member could not have been listening to my remarks.
– I was listening; but I am afraid that I did not understand the sense of the Attorney-General’s remarks. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) gave only one side of the story of the seamen’s dispute. He read a cablegram from Mr. Havelock Wilson, stating that the wages of the British, seamen had been reduced under an agreement entered into by the National Marine Council. I ‘ believe, a banquet took place to celebrate the occasion, and much was made of the fact that no industrial dispute had occurred in Great Britain for the last eight or ten years. The honorable member for Wakefield omitted to read Havelock Wilson’s statement that England was losing its trade, and that foreign vessels .were carrying its commerce overseas. Who is it that gives that trade and commerce to foreign bottoms instead of to British bottoms? It is those people who lend money to the peoples of foreign countries, the loan being effected by the transfer of goods. When entering into an agreement under this clause a policeman will need to be well informed of what it contains. The duty of the peace officers appointed under this bill will probably be to arrest union leaders who. are involved in industrial disputes, and advise their unions to resist a reduction of wages, such as that which has brought about the present conditions in Sydney. It has been suggested that the British seamen are taking a stand that they would not have adopted had it not been for the part played by certain union leaders, but the press reports for the last week or more show clearly that British seamen in every part of the world are protesting against the reduction of their wages. There is no Thomas Walsh in South Africa, New Zealand, or Canada; and to those countries the seamen’s grievance has extended. The officials of the union in Australia have come to the assistance of the British seamen in the hope that they may obtain treatment that will at least approximate that which they are fairly entitled to receive. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. roster) did not say one word against the clause under discussion, but went into the circumstances that have brought the seamen to the present position. The history of trade unionism shows that what is happening to-day has happened before in various ways on many occasions. There is no need for this clause. The whole bill is un-British, and it will not appeal to the average Australian. This placard has been introduced by the Government with the idea of much being made of it a few months hence when honorable members go before the electors. But the Australian community is too enlightened on political matters to be caught by chaff of this description. The Labour party, however, would not be worthy of its name if it did not make a fight against the sting contained in the measure. The deporta- tion of a member of the community to a strange land would mean exile for himself and his family. I might, on my return to Adelaide, say something which would bring down upon me the wrath of the Commonwealth authorities, and which might be regarded as against the peace, order, and good government of the country. If I were brought within the pale of this provision, and were deported, it would mean exile for my wife; and if I took with me my daughter and her three children, it would mean that six Australians would leave the country. The bill is reminiscent of the dark ages. The actions of some men in the community may be somewhat misguided, but they have their own points of view and their own methods.
– The honorable member may not discuss the whole scope of the bill. The clause under consideration refers only to the oath taken by peace officers.
– Men who have achieved honorable positions in the community could have been deported in the past under such a provision as this. The socalled peace officers are to be deemed to have entered into a written agreement: but what is this agreement for? We know that somebody is likely to be arrested.These officers will not earn their salary without doing something for it. Will the Attorney-General tell the committee what the agreement will provide for. I presume that the duties will be prescribed by regulation. I challenge honorable members opposite to show that the duties are denned in any part of the bill. Proviso a of the clause under consideration merely states that no such agreement shall be set aside, cancelled, or annulled for want of reciprocity. This bill may cost the Commonwealth a lot of money. We know that one act may cause numbers of other statutes to become ultra vires. Only this week we had to pass validating legislation because we were not sufficiently careful in selecting the verbiage in the original act. I do not know whether we should give other persons poAver to appoint peace officers. It is doubtful whether the circumstances call for the appointment of any more officers than those referred to by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley).
– We might need half a dozen or more.
– I do not like the might.” Honorable members opposite have said that the Government is taking drastic steps, and that the bill is a most, important one. They have thumped the table and stamped the floor to emphasize their feelings, and now the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) says that we’’ might “ need half a dozen more officers. What “might” we need them for? Will Mr. Walsh attempt to hold them up in Sydney? Suppose that six of them cannot do the job, will the other person, nominated, I suppose, in Sydney, be able to appoint more? Has the Commonwealth the power, such as is provided in the legislation of the States, to require a civilian, in the name- of the Sovereign, to assist the police? Will this act allow that to be done? The whole bill is too ambiguous. I thought that’ the Commonwealth police force had been brought to an irreducible minimum, consisting of an investigation officer in the Customs Department. Before appointing other officers, we should ascertain whether the one already employed by the Government can do the job. The oath referred to in clause 4 should be more stringent than that set out in clause 2. This bill is likely to bring in its train circumstances such as were referred to by the’ Minister for Trade and Customs this week. I am 30rry that the guillotine has been applied, and that honorable members have not had an equal opportunity to discuss the bill. This is a historymaking era in this Parliament, and I hope it will continue to be so. I hope that clause 4 will never have to be reenacted, and that future governments will be more sane than the present oue. The Government has shown its impotence, its want of capacity, and its ineptitude to control a situation that would control itself if left alone. Clause 4 is panicky legislation, panicky in its conception, and panicky in its construction. Instead of subscribing to an oath for the purpose of this bill, the people of Australia should swear that they will never again vote for the representatives who are responsible for such legislation.
Question - That clause 4 be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Penalty for personating peace officers); and clause 6 (Three months notice of resignation shall be given).
– Clause 6 provides that any person who desires to leave the peace force must give three months’ notice in writing, of his intention to do so, unless the Attorney-General gives special permission to vary that provision. I doubt whether that provision is wise in a bill of this kind. If a man is dissatisfied with his job, the sooner he leaves it the better, because a dissatisfied man will never give satisfaction. Why a man should be compelled to remain three months in a job if he does not want to, I do not know. It really amounts to insisting upon paying him three months salary for doing nothing. Only occasionally will these persons have anything to do, when some poor individual is taken into custody prior to his deportation.
– A man will not join the service unless he is prepared to accept that condition.
– Why should a man who is dissatisfied with his employment be retained?
– If he does not do his work satisfactorily, he will have no difficulty in obtaining permission’ to resign.
– Does the three months’ notice apply only one way?
– Yes. What purpose is served by forcing a man to continue in the service for three months after he has expressed his wish to retire? He would be drawing his pay and doing no work.
– He can always resign with the consent of the AttorneyGeneral. The position is the same as in the Queensland act.
– I am not concerned about that. Why is this provision necessary ?
– Because a man may be appointed to an outlying district, and the Government should have time to appoint a successor.
– I could understand the clause if it provided that the man was to remain in the service until he was relieved, but not longer than a couple of weeks.
– The AttorneyGeneral can grant him permission to resign.
Mr.CHARLTON.- But he might not do so.
– His permission would only be refused in case of public necessity.
– That is the reason which is always advanced. We should not pay men who are not prepared to do their work. If a man is appointed to some remote part of the country, who is to say that he is doing his work? Generally a man has to give or take fourteen days’ notice. The provision in this bill is unreasonable. I am not particularly concerned about the individuals who may accept’ these positions, but I am concerned about their being paid for doing nothing.
.I am not concerned with the fate of any man who may accept a position of this kind, because he will be a man lacking in manliness. But if we read this clause in conjunction with clause 4, we have evidence of the callousness of the Government regarding the rights and privileges of ordinary men. Clause 4 gives the AttorneyGeneral the right to discharge any of these men at a moment’s notice, but clause 6 does not permit a man to leave the service unless he first gives three months’ notice, or is relieved by the Attorney-General. For three months he may be kept practically a prisoner.
– I know nothing of the reasons for this clause, but it seems an excellent one. It may happen that, for some time after these officers have been appointed, they may have little or nothing to, do, and it is very desirable that, having been paid for that time, they should not be able to relinquish the position when called upon to perform the duties of their office. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) interjected, they will . know the nature of their duties, and the conditions pertaining to their appointment, before they agree to accept the position. If they do not carry out their duties, a penalty is. provided. The Leader of the Opposition objected to these men being retained for three months and paid their salaries for doing nothing. I suggest that it is unfair for a man to accept a position, and after a period for which he has been paid, although he has performed little or no work, to ask to withdraw as soon as he is required to perform ‘ the duties for which he was appointed. This clause seems to provide a necessary safeguard.
– The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), after having said that he knew nothing of the reasons for the inclusion of these clauses, proceeded to try to show that he knew a good deal about them. Evidently the Government is determined that, having once obtained these men, it will keep them. The men may find that the work is obnoxious to them, but they will not be able to relinquish their positions without first giving three months’ notice of their intention to do so. The Government does not seem to care that it may pay men for doing nothing. The consolidated revenue may be drawn upon to any extent to pay them, because those who control the Government have said that they must be appointed. For the men who are low enough to do the Government’s dirty work, I have no concern.
– They will be in the same position as every police constable in the Commonwealth.
– The ordinary policeman joins the police force under constitutional government to do certain things, but these men are to be appointed to carry out the Government’s political purposes. Any man who is prepared to do this work is a “scab.” Perhaps the Government considers that those who, be^ cause of unemployment or economic pressure, join up, are entitled to some form of guarantee. If the Attorney-General can dispense with the services of these men at a moment’s notice, they should have the right to resign at any time, should they consider their duties obnoxious.
– I do not know whether the Attorney-General is in a position at this stage to give the committee any idea of what this force is likely to cost the country. Has the Government determined the salaries to be paid to these peace officers? Are they to be paid according to the number of people they arrest or the number deported? Will they later on form an accession to the Public. Service of the Commonwealth? I trust that even at the eleventh hour the Government will exercise some common sense in this matter, in view of the fact that those charged with the maintenance of the peace, order, and good government of the different States report that at present all is well. Tn passing these clauses we are writing parliamentary history which at no distant date another government will take extreme pleasure in expunging from the statute-books of this country. One of the pledges which honorable members on this side will make to the people will be that obnoxious legislation of this character which besmirches the statutebooks of the Commonwealth will be removed from them. We have had in connexion with this bill a message from the Governor-General recommending in a general way the expenditure of the money necessary to give effect to it. But we have not had one word from the Government as to what is likely to be the total annual expenditure under the measure. Surely the Attorney-General can give the committee some idea as to what this force will cost the country for the present financial year. Clause 6 provides that a member of the force desiring to retire from it must give three months’ notice of his intention to do so. No private individual would retain in bis employ any man who expressed a desire to relinquish his duties. Why should an officer of this force be retained for three months after he has expressed the desire to retire from iff The Attorney-General has said that this is a matter that Avill be within , his discretion, and I have no doubt that regulations covering many pages will be issued setting out the duties of these officers and the salaries to be paid to them. They will certainly not be paid wages as low as £9 per month. We have not been informed as to whether the appointment of these officers will be left in the hands of the Public Service Board. Is the Public Service Board to call for persons willing to carry out the very distasteful duties which members of the proposed peace force will have to perform? Is their appointment to be left to the Attorney-General, or to be regarded as a matter of Cabinet patronage affording opportunities for the exercise of influence? I have not the slightest doubt that influence was used in connexion with the appointment of the members of the board that, will he called upon to consider the cases of persons whom the Government desires to deport. I have asked the AttorneyGeneral for information as to the probable annual cost of the peace force, but he sits like a stone image, and is as silent as the Sphinx. I do not know why the honorable gentleman should be so discourteous as to refuse to reply to a reasonable request for information.
. -I hope that the request of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Teuton) for information will be complied with. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) has informed us that there is on the estimates for the present financial year a vote of £9,860 for the Commonwealth Police Force. I should like to know how many extra policemen are to be appointed under this bill?
Mr.C. Riley. - There are 35 Commonwealth police in New South Wales, including a sub-inspector.
– Surely the 35 would be able to arrest four men. The Government has power to instruct the Commonwealth police to do this work.
– I again remind honorable members that I have given them very great latitude in this debate. The clauses before the committee are clauses 5 and 6. The matters discussed by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) and Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) are embraced in clauses that have already been disposed of. I must ask honorable members to keep to the clauses under discussion.
– I am not concerned about what may happen to these bodysnatchers; but I suppose that, as their work becomes distasteful because of its unpopularity, there will be frequent resignations from the force. If the peace officers are dissatisfied, the Commonwealth will not get good service from them but they will be a heavy drain upon the Treasury. We on this side of the House wish to intimate to any persons who may be appointed to this force that they will not remain in their positions’ after April next. They will not be asked for their resignations, or given three months notice: if they have assisted to deport anybody, they will be lucky if they themselves escape deportation. The same warning applies to a lot of the men who have been appointed to fancy jobs by the present Government. If Casey could be appointed to a job in London without legislative authority, the Government can similarly appoint police officers, without forcing this House to sit all night. Apart from arresting three or four men, what will be the duties of the proposed force? Does the Government expect continuous strikes and deportations? God knows what the 35 Commonwealth police, who are already in New South Wales, are doing. I ask the Attorney-General to be as courteous as is possible at this hour of the morning, and give the information for which the honorable member for Maribyrnong has asked.
– The clause before the committee declares that any person other than a peace officer who wears or displays the uniform of a peace officer, or a colorable imitation of it, shall be guilty of an offence, and liable to a penalty of £50, “or imprisonment for three months. What is to be the character of the uniform that no common civilian may wear ? Is it to be a gorgeous military outfit designed to lure youths into the force ? I can imagine that if the uniform is to be of a drab character the recruiting of the police will he less easy. Yesterday, I saw MajorGeneral Sir Granville De Laune Ryrie perusing a war map in the library. Is he to command this force? A gorgeous uniform, such as the honorable member for Warringah sometimes wears, would appeal to vain men in the community. I can imagine the Commonwealth police strutting in feathers and gold lace, and bedizened with a lot of medals, such as the Major-General displays on his chest-
– He won them honorably, at any rate.
– Sometimes these decorations are gained very easily. As a matter of fact, they are mainly of social origin. How much more attractive would the force be if titles were promised to the recruits. Nothing appeals more strongly than titles to certain minds. Consider’ some of the wonderful titles borne by members of this chamber. A visitor from Mars, reading the list of members, would think that he had come upon an armed camp. For instance, there is, “ The Right Honorable Captain Stanley Melbourne Bruce, P.C. M.C.” I suggest that this force might be made much more attractive to some men if they were told that there was a possibility of getting similar titles without too close an inquiry as to how they were acquired. In the Military Forces to-day a man’s deeds in the field are of less importance than his social position.
– I suggest that the honorable member should not pursue that line of argument.
– My remarks are pertinent to the uniform to be worn by the Commonwealth police. Another title that appears on the cover of Hansard is Major-General the Honorable Sir Granville De Laune Ryrie, K.C.M.G., C.B., Y.D.” What does “Y.D.” mean? I conceive it possible that the prospect of becoming a “ V.D.” might induce a certain type of man to join this wonderfully patriotic service, which is designed for the smashing of trade unionism. The Government is asking this committee to establish an entirely new scheme of defence and offence. The popularity of the Military- Forces is beginning to wane. Here is another opportunity to indulge the martial spirit, and, by a liberal use of feathers and patriotic colours, create more of what Mr. King O’Malley used to term “ gilt-spurred roosters.” We see birds of that kind attending the GovernorGeneral at the opening of Parliament. The members of the Commonwealth police force would be able to strut in their war paint, not only on the King’s Birthday, but on every day in the week. If inducements of that kind are to be offered, the cost of the scheme will be considerably increased. No doubt, the Prime Minister, who is away from the chamber, is even now consulting his tailors as to the design’ of the uniform to be worn by the new force. Will the Honorary Minister throw some light on the subject? Spats form part of the usual military dress in some countries. I fancy that I have seen pictures of Zulu warriors with spats on their ankles and a few lion’s teeth, round their brows, including the loin cloth and the usual “G”. string. This uniform would be admirably adapted for the warm time that these officers will undoubtedly experience. If these men are to have a military dress similar to that worn by the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie), it will certainly add to the expense of the force. We are entirely in the dark so far as the expenditure for this new force is concerned. These men will meet with the opprobrium of all decent-thinking people of the community. It is one thing to dress a man in military clothing and to cheer him when we want him to fight, but it is another thing when he comes back, after the . work is over, and expects to be treated as a man. These British seamen who are on strike fought for the Empire and kept our trade routes open.
– While that side stayed at home.
– I resent the remark made by the Honorary Minister. It is a lying remark, and only a coward would make it. It was the manhood of the working class that went to the war.
– Does the honorable member ask for a withdrawal of the remark ?
– I ask for a withdrawal. I consider that it was your duty, sir, to call the honorable member to order and to ask him to withdraw.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.To what remark does the honorable member object?
– The Honorary Minister said that this side stayed at home.
– As far as the honorable member is concerned, I withdraw.
– I am not speaking for myself.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Honorary Minister has withdrawn his statement.
– He has withdrawn it with a qualification. He should be asked to withdraw it unreservedly.
– I am sorry that I stirred up the cold-footers, and I withdraw my remark.
– I take exception to that statement, and I draw your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to it.
– It was a dirty thing to say.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the honorable member for Darling to please remain quiet.
– If there is a dirty thing to be done, the Honorary Minister does it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the Honorary Minister to comply with the request that he withdraw his remark unreservedly.
– I withdraw.
– The Honorary Minister should set an example to this committee and assist the Temporary Chairman in the conduct of the business of this chamber. Yet he has refused to withdraw unreservedly, and is therefore treating you, sir, with the utmost contempt.
– I asked the Honorary Minister to withdraw, and I understood him to do so.
– I am willing to withdraw the statement, but it is very galling to me to listen to returned soldiers being insulted in the course of the honorable member’s speeches.
– That is a damned lie.
– The honorable member for Darling has consistently refused to comply with the request of the Chair, and his conduct has been disorderly. If he persists in being disorderly 1 shall be forced to take the extreme measures which lie within my power. It is impossible for the Chair to control the eommittee while honorable members are continually interrupting the proceedings.
– I ask that the honorable member for Darling withdraw his remark that my statement was a damned lie.
– I withdraw.
– Do you, Mr. Chairman, think that the statement of the Honorary Minister was a fair and reasonable withdrawal?
– I am satisfied that the Honorary Minister has withdrawn his remark unreservedly.
– The trouble is that you, sir, are partisan.
– The honorable member for Darling has made a statement which is a grave reflection on the Chair, and I ask him to withdraw and apologize.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– I wish to know from the Honorary Minister (Mr. Marr) what kind of uniform will be worn by these officers who willreally be a part of the military service. Would he suggest that a gay Turkish rug should be part of the costume? It has been said that the red coat which at one time formed part of the British uniform, was very attractive. 1, myself, in my youth used to drill on Saturday afternoons in a red coat, much to the pleasure of my friends. I used to strut before the fair sex in Albert Park on the 24th of May, the Queen’s Birthday. I really thought then that I was playing an important part in the defence of the Empire. At one time, when we formed part of the militia, we were told that we would never be called out to quell industrial disturbances. These new officers will be the “ Pinkertons” of Australia, their principal duty being to assist in the quelling of industrial disturbances. That being so, we should be very careful in choosing their uniform. The old idea of a red uniform was that a wounded man would be unable to see that he was bleeding, and would, therefore, not lose courage. I am satisfied that a gaily caparisioned uniform would be a great attraction to the opposite sex. It is a wonderful fact that girls are attracted by young fellows in uniform who, in civilian attire, would not stand a dog’s chance with them. A “bright uniform would be an incentive for men to join the service.
– Thetime allotted for the committee stage of the bill up to and including clause 9 has expired.
Question - That clauses 5 and 6 be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the remaining clauses of the bill be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Sir Littleton Groom) proposed -
That the hill be now read a third time.
– Owing to the application of the guillotine I had no opportunity of speaking on the second reading of this bill. I now wish to place on record my opposition to it. I speak candidly when I say that I cannot understand the motives of the Government in introducing it. I bei lieve that the strike is almost over, but, apparently, the Government, seeing that it has kept honorable members sitting all night, intends to place the bill in operation immediately. If it does so it will be responsible for the consequences. It may think that it will acquire some political capital by creating an atmosphere that will make for success at the elections. I represent a country constituency, and I am not afraid that the men from the Snowy River will assist the Nationalists to deport Britishers from Australia. On the contrary, the men from the Snowy River will be at the polls to vote for Labour candidates. Evidently the Government thinks that if it can cause an industrial conflict it will be likely to obtain another three years’ tenure of office. I remind honorable members that the Labour party came into existence because of a big industrial conflict in 1890, and that there was no political Labour party until the big maritime strike. In 1902 a great railway strike took place in Victoria, and you will remember, Mr. Speaker, as a member of the State Parliament at that time, that the newspapers said the strike was very unpopular. Three months later an appeal was made to the electors of Victoria, and the Labour party increased its representation in the State Parliament from six to nineteen members. Later, the Victorian police strike occurred, and, unfortunately, it was accompanied by rioting, and the destruction of property in Melbourne - circumstances that would certainly tend to make the strikers unpopular. The representative of Ararat, in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, who was a member of the Liberal party, said, “ This gives Liberalism a new lease of life for twenty years.” The elections took place a month or two afterwards, and the Labour party was the only party that increased its representation. The number of Labour members after the elections was 28, as against 22 previously, and the Labour party is now the largest political party in the State Parliament. There has been a similar experience in South Africa. The miners’ strike that took place there was very unpopular, and the Government brought out machineguns against the strikers and deported several men. An appeal was made to the electors shortly afterwards, and the Government that did those things is not in power to-day. The effect of industrial conflicts in other countries has been similar. Members of the Opposition are not afraid of an appeal to the electors, and are ready for it at any time. I could wish to fight in my country constituency on no better question than this, for I could tell my constituents that the strikers include others as well as manual workers. Almost every honorable member on the Ministerial side of the House, in his business capacity as a commercial man or a pastoralist, is a striker. If the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) has wool to sell, and if he thinks he can obtain 40 pence instead of 30 pence per lb. by holding it, he is not influenced by the fact that children may be needing woollen clothes. He refuses to sell, and, ineffect, goes oh strike. The ethics of present-day commercialism permit that to be done, and I do not blame the honorable member for doing it. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has calico to sell for which he gave 3d. a yard, and which he has instructed his travellers to sell at 5d. a yard, he does not worry if children are ill-clad, but insists upon 5d. a yard if he can get it. If he is offered 4d. or 4½d. a yard, and it is possible to get 5d. by striking, he does not accept the lower price. There is no stronger organization in the world than that comprising the barristers and solicitors. It is appalling to sit in this House and listen to the honorable member for Eawkner (Mr. Maxwell) abusing the strikers. How bitter is his hostility to the men who dare to go on strike! How small is his sympathy for the seamen, who get £9 a month, andare reduced now almost to the level of coolies! He evidently forgets some of his own history, about which I purpose to enlighten honorable members. It is not long since he received a brief from the Victorian Government. A man who had no money to pay for his defence had been charged with murder, and the law provides that in those circumstances he can appeal to the Government to provide counsel to defend him. The honorable member for Fawkner received a brief to defend the accused, and, after retaining -it until almost the eve of the trial,, returned it to the State Attorney-General’s Department with a curt note, saying, “ The £7 you have offered me as a retaining fee is not sufficient.” He did not trouble about, the fate of the accused man.
– I cannot see the application of those remarks to the bill.
-By jove, but I can ! The- honorable member for Fawkner went on strike. He was as much a striker as the seamen, who. are resisting a reduction in their pay of £1 a month. He has behind him a very strong organization which insists upon certain fees being paid. God help the individual who dare break any of the rules of that organization! Again, there is the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who represents the butter industry. As a producer of butter,, he holds out for his price. If the market is low, he puts his butter into cool, store, and waits until he can get a better price. In other words, he goes on strike. If the price of wheat is low, what does the Postmaster-General (Mr. .Gibson), who is a. wheat-grower, care about the multitudes that may be wanting bread? I do not say that he is doing wrong, according to the commercial ideas of to-day, and if he did otherwise he would probably find himself in the Insolvency Court. He has to adopt the commercial code,- and go on strike, without regard to the interests of the community. An instance of striking is furnished by the flour millers of this country. A baker in Footscray, who sells bread at a price lower than that charged by the other bakers has to adopt subterfuges to obtain flour. The millers of Victoria will not supply him, and he has to order from the other States. Is there any suggestion of deporting those individuals? Has it ever been proposed that we should deport the profiteers, including the directors of a woollen mill, that started with a capital of £35,000, and during the war watered the stock to the extent of £480,000 - men who sent the price of shares up from 5s. to- 30s., and foisted them on the public at the inflated price? It cannot be said in their extenuation that they did it for bread and butter; they did it to obtain a few more of the luxuries of life. Nothing has been said about that form of strike. But when a few unfortunate seamen, on their own initiative, refuse to work, they are immediately denounced. The Government dare not appoint a judge of the High Court to try these cases. Had that been done, the men who are to be arrested would be found innocent of having caused this strike. I should not have had much respect for Tom Walsh or Johannsen if they had been traitors enough not to assist dissatisfied British seamen. What a change has come over this House during recent years ! Time passes quickly, and we soon forget the events of a few years ago. Many of the men who are now striking for a living wage for their wives and children braved the hardships of the North Sea during the great world tragedy of 1914 to 1919. They were great heroes then, but to-day the Prime Minister had the impudence to call them “ scabs,” although they shed their blood and risked their lives for the Empire. The bill will be like a boomerang to those who support it. I know the working classes of Australia, and I say candidly that they do not stand for strikes. “ Conciliation and arbitration “ is a plank of the Labour party’s platform, and by every legitimate and constitutional method we seek to promote it. We try to give the working classes confidence in the Arbitration Court. We advocate that access to the court should be made easier, that lawyers should be prohibited from pleading there, and that the cost of arbitration should be reduced. If this Ministry, by means of one of its policemen, lays hands on and attempts to deport any individual in Sydney, it will be a case of “ God help the Ministry!” It will be more than that - it will be a calamity. Doss the Ministry want to bring about an industrial upheaval in Australia merely to achieve its own political ends ? Is it desired that every railway train shall stop running, every coal miner cease work, and every factory close its doors? If they want that, as sure as the sun will rise to-morrow they will get it. We are not to be intimidated by the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) regarding others who will take the places of these men. During the war period the people were told that the soldiers in France needed assistance, and that it was necessary for the ships to carry foodstuffs across the ocean to them. The daily press throughout Australia, put those views before the people with some measure of success, bub those days have passed. Despite the hostility of the daily press, the Labour party has grown, until to-day the press can be as misleading, as insulting, and as lying as it chooses. Thank God, we cannot be denied the platforms of the country ! Today the Labour party holds the reins in five States, and I remind honorable members that in the Federal Parliament, also, the party is strong. In no village will we fail to expose the swindle and the scandal which the Government has perpetrated. The consequences will be on the heads of the Government which is responsible. Some months ago the Government had the train laid, and was about to light the match to bring about a big industrial upheaval in Australia. Fortunately, the Labour Premier of New South Wales, in conference with officials of the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers, settled the first strike. The Government knows that it is unpopular in the country, and that without some election cry that will appeal to the prejudices of the people victory for it is impossible at the. next election. It is. therefore, prepared to precipitate an industrial crisis, causing chaos and misery, to retain its hold on the treasury bench. What do its supporters care if property is ruined, and men. women and children injured or starved ? They think that there is a chance to retain office by deporting a few men and bringing about industrial anarchy. They are evidently prepared to go to any lengths. It will be the duty of honorable members on this side to see that the people are told the truth. History will not be true to itself if, apart from the suffering caused, the result is other than a great victory for the Labour party. We on this side have done our duty in protesting against this legislation. We have used every means possible to bring about a settlement of industrial disputes. I admit that we have not always advertised our actions in this House. The leader of this party is not prepared to accept dictation by the press or by the Prime Minister as to what he shall say, and when he shall say it. He has, however, been working quietlyfor some time, and has prevented many “strikes. In doing that, he has spiked many of the guns of the composite Government. We are forced to sit all night and on Saturday to rush this measure through, because the Government is afraid that this evening’s newspaper may contain the news that the strike has been settled. Thank God we have a Labour Premier in New South Wales who will be able to checkmate the Government for some time, and so prevent this industrial chaos from being hastened. I hope that the report that Mr. Lang will test the validity of this legislation is true. Personally, I am of the opinion that he would be well advised to arrest the first policeman appointed under this measure who sets foot in New South Wales. As the custodian of peace, order, and good government in New South Wales he would be justified in doing so. Moreover, when we make the truth known to the people, the Government will not have the judges of the Deportation Board to defend it. The Government considered it advisable to send the Solicitor-General, Sir Robert Gar ran, to Sydney to sound men as to their willingness to act on the board. No doubt his instructions were to ascertain, first, whether, they were good nationalists, and then, having received an affirmative reply, to ask whether they would be prepared to bring in a verdict of guilty, irrespective of the evidence. The Government has a big task ahead of it. I sincerely trust that an industrial crisis will not be precipitated, but if trouble is caused it will not be the fault of the Labour party. The responsibility must rest upon the heads of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) suggested that the Government is anxious to bring about industrial chaos in this country. The records of the Government’s administration absolutely prove the contrary.
Honorable members interrupting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Ballarat was heard in silence.
– The Government has exhibited great patience during the past ‘seven or eight months, during which time there have been repeated attempts by certain elements in the community to disturb the industrial life of this country. Finally, the Government, in order to save trade unionism, has been compelled to take action. What has made trade unionism effective, and why have workmen united ? They have united in order to make effective collective bargaining with their employers. But if there is to be collective bargaining, there must also be the honouring of collective contracts. Mr. Havelock Wilson, the President of the National Sailors Union, comprising 50,000 members, has pointed out that the Australian intervention was unwarranted, and constituted an act of treachery to the whole trade union movement. That statement was supported yesterday by the whole trade union movement in England. The honorable member for Ballarat has suggested that this trouble has been caused because of the desire of the shipowners to reduce the pay of the men. But what was the cause of the shipping strike in which the Australian Seamen’s Union was concerned ? It was not lower pay in their case. A certain award was made by the Arbitration Court, but Mr. Walsh and his colleagues induced the Seamen’s Union not to observe it. They advocated that action because the award was drawn up by the Arbitration Court, not because they directed rates of pay or conditions. So long as they were not made by the court they were willing to accept even worse terms, because there was then no tribunal to deal with the dispute: It is well that it should be placed on record that in that dispute it was not a question of wages. - -[Quorum formed]. - The action of the Government will tend to promote industrial peace and bring about equity. There is, however, a’ much larger question involved in this matter. We are entitled to ask why the Premier of New South Wales did not see fit to allow the State instrumentalities to be used for the common good. It may be that his action was an indirect attempt at unification, that he would cause the people to become so tired of dual control that they would bring it to an end. Yet, surely, if unification is his desire, it should be sought in a straight-out .manner. The action of the New South Wales Government has brought the Federal system into contempt, in that it has been found necessary to appoint a second set of police officers-. Was the refusal of the New South Wales Government to afford assistance to the Commonwealth Government due to a belief that the work that has to be done would be done by seamen receiving higher wages? Unfortunately, not only will the work not be done by men at higher rates than were paid to the British seamen, but, as a result, these men receive only two meals a day and have nowhere to sleep. From our newspapers we see that the German motor ship Konitzberg is unaffected by the disturbance, as are also Dutch, French, and Italian vessels. According to a recent cable from London giving a comparison of the numbers of the crews and the monthly wages paid on vessels of about 8,800 tons, Norwegian boats pay £251 monthly in wages, French boats £301, Dutch vessels £370, and British £407. The action of extremists in Australia in forcing this strike of British seamen will ensure, not that they will get higher wages, but that their work will be performed by men of other nationalities at lower rates of pay. Is the action of- the New South Wales Government, which renders the passage of this bill necessary, due to its desire to uphold the principle of arbitration.? On the contrary, these extremists desire to destroy arbitration. I have already shown, on- another occasion, that the operation of the arbitration principle in the Commonwealth has led to a continual increase in the number of unions and in their membership, until today Australia is industrially one of the most highly-organized countries in the world. Yet we find that these extremists, whom the New South Wales Government will not assist us to take action against, are men who have been continuously opposed to arbitration. Mr. Walsh said -
Tile seamen would not have arbitration, maintaining that there whs nothing to arbitrate about. The seamen recognized the class struggle, and only accepted such compromises as they were driven to, holding to agreements as long as they were suitable and determined to break them as soon as the circumstances of the moment demanded that they should do so.
That is the attitude of these men towards the arbitration principle, which is a part of Australia’s industrial life, and to which the honorable member for Ballarat has told us the Labour party subscribes. No question of deportation of people from Queensland has been raised, and yet we find that the men with whom it is intended to deal under this legislation >are talking to the employees of the Queensland railways exactly as they have talked to the seamen. Honorable members opposite suggest that the present industrial unrest is due to certain action of the Commonwealth Government; but what action of the Commonwealth Government is accountable for the Queensland railway strike ? We say that these strikes are due to the continual fomentation of disturbance by these men, who are trying to destroy the constitutional forms and traditional liberties of the British people. It may be suggested that the reason why the Premier of New South Wales has been unwilling to render the Commonwealth Government assistance in this matter is due to a desire to uphold the White Australia policy. But these men wjb.0 bring about industrial turmoil in Australia are totally, opposed to the White Australia policy. They regard it as of no value at all, and pillory Labour politicians in Australia because they stand for that policy. According to the official report of the Australian Workers Union of the proceedings of its annual convention, Mr. Walsh said -
His union would not stand for any race exclusion, and before the seamen would go in with the Australian Workers Union there would have to be an alteration in the Australian Workers Union constitution to admit to membership natives of any country - Japan, China, or elsewhere.
Gne could understand the government of a State taking up an attitude for the maintenance of the purity of our ideals, but one cannot understand why any government in Australia that stands for the White Australia policy should deliberately encourage the retention in Australia of men who seek to break down find bring to nothing our institutions and ideals. It may possibly be urged that the New South Wales Government, in refusing its assistance, desired to help the producers of the country, but what are the facts? The fact that these men are being encouraged - and the action of the New South Wales Government may be regarded as passively encouraging them - will result in closing the main arteries of
Dr. .Earle Page. trade, and preventing the transport of our products overseas. Our butter is just about ready for export,- and the fact that the British seamen are out on strike will materially interfere with its export. Our wool is almost ready to be moved, and our wheat will be ready for export in a few months’ time. If we are going to have the whole of our transport services disorganized - - and there have been threats of a general industrial paralysis - the holding up of the export of our products will enormously penalize our producers and will bring about a tremendous amount of unemployment. Surely the importance of our export trade, and the necessity for selling our goods at the earliest moment at the best prices, should have enabled us to appeal with confidence for the assistance of the agencies of any government and every authority in Australia. It may be urged that the action of the New South Wales Government, in refusing to assist the Commonwealth in this matter, is due to a desire to help Great Britain. Only the other day, when we tried to induce the New, South Wales Government to enter the Loan Council, it refused to do so on the ground that it would not do anything to injure the Mother country. It would not join with the Commonwealth and the other States in the matter of the Anglo-American loan and yet it stands idly by whilst the life blood of British commerce is being drained away. British shipping has to -compete with the shipping of other nations paying lower wages. Practically the whole of the British seamen aTe anxious to secure the continuance of trade to British ships, and they are prepared to make certain concessions to enable British ship-owners to compete with foreign shipowners. Despite this fact, the New South Wales Government refuses to render assistance to the Mother Country in the noble struggle she is making to recapture her hold on the world’s markets and her share in the carrying trade of the world. In view of these considerations, it passes my comprehension that we should find at this time in Australia any government unready and unwilling to assist in putting an end for all time to these constant and continual attempts to disturb the whole industrial life of Australia. We must do it now.
We have put our hand to the plough, and we must go on because we are quite satisfied that these extremists, withtheirdoctrines importedfrom Moscow, who,according to Mr. Lang, are 99 per cent, criminals, are preventing the Australian worker and his employer from establishing those cordial relations with each other, which would lead to uninterrupted progress and prosperity in the Commonwealth.
– We have become so accustomed to hear the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) attempting to speak on every subject, that we are not surprised to find that he knows very little about any. I would advise the honorable gentleman to concentrate upon one thing. He may make a success of it if he keeps at it long enough. When he indulges in observations concerning trade unionism, he must expect to become a laughing stock. Me must know that he can only excite ridicule when he says that the object of the Government in the action it has taken is to assist trade unionism. What the honorable gentleman has said will appear in Hansard, and I desire that some comments on his observations should be put on record, side by side with them. He said that the last shipping strike was brought about because certain trade union leaders requested their fellowunionists to defy the Arbitration Court. The honorable gentleman has made that statement deliberately, and I want to tell him now that he knows that that statement is false.
– That is not so.
– I defy the Treasurer to contradict the statement I am about to make. He said that the strike was due to the seamen being asked to defy the Arbitration Court, and he knows that before that stage was reached the ship-owners had applied for the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union.
– That isnot so.
– The honorable gentleman knows that it is so. It cannot be denied that the ship-owners applied for the de-registration of the Seamen’s Union.
– After the seamen had refused to obey the award.
– The step taken by the ship-owners led to the recent shipping strike.
– The government also applied for the de-registration of the Seamen’s Union.
– That is so; and the government was doubly guilty. It is right that the attempts of the Treasurer, and other honorable members opposite, to cover up the facts, should be exposed. The primary producers of the country will be told the facts about the Treasurer and his attitude with regard to the present and the previous strike. The previous strike, which affected Australian coastal shipping, would not yet have terminated were it not for the fact that there is a Labour government in New South Wales. There were never more disappointed men than the members of this Federal Government when they learned that that shipping crisis was terminated. The Labour Premier of New South Wales got into touch with Admiral Clarkson, of the Commonwealth shipping line, and the seamen, and, at a round-table conference, got down to brass tacks in bringing about a settlement. The action taken by the authorities of the Commonwealth shipping line practically settled the strike, because, after it, the other ship-owners were unable to hold on. Whilst Mr. Lang was settling the dispute the Prime Minister was talking about “ a fight to a finish.” The newspapers supporting the government, took the Prime Minister to task because he dilly-dallied too long, and allowed the Premier of New South Wales to step in and settle the strike. The Government was concerned only about the political capital it was going to make out of the strike. They were thinking not of the possibility of a peaceful termination of the trouble, but of how it could be exploited to benefit them in the constituencies. As the honorable member for Ballarat tersely said, “ The Government is discredited, and is looking for a means to save itself.” Its record is more discreditable and besmirched than that of any other Ministry in the history of the Commonwealth. Its sins of omission arid commission cry aloud for punishment, and Ministers- have rightly concluded that their chances in the constituencies are negligible. The ‘ Prime Minister said recently at Geelong that the Nationalist party retains none of the- great ideals that served it during the war. Not having a war to. use for political purposes, the Government is causing industrial strife in order to divert attention from its record, and escape judgment by a hostile public. The Treasurer said that owing to the actions of certain trade union leaders, exports of butter and wheat are being held up. But he knows that if the Commonwealth Government had acted as the Premier of New South Wales acted in the recent strike, the present disturbance also could be terminated. The man on the land has too much sense to believe the considered statements that are put forward for the sole purpose of deceiving him, and he will be asked to contrast Mr.
Lang’s action with the policy of the Commonwealth’ Government, which is doing nothing but introduce legislation that is calculated to aggravate industrial trouble. I say deliberately that the only desire of the Government is to magnify the present dispute in order that attention may be diverted from its own awful record.
– The honorable member does not believe that.
– The honorable member for Gippsland knows that what I have said is true. The Ministerial parties are afraid to face the people on their political record. Ninetenths of the legislation passed by the Government during the last three years has been in the interests of the wealthy section of the community. As an illustration, it may be said that on three occasions honorable members on this side moved motions for the purpose of granting further relief to the old-age and invalid pensioners, but Ministerial supporters out- voted us.
– I shall not hear the honorable member on that subject. His remarks have been wide of the question on several occasions, and I ask him to confine them to the motion.
– I am endeavouring to show that the Government desires the passage of measures of this kind in order to cover up its past wrong-doing.
– An allusion of that kind will be permitted ; a long speech on the subject will not.
– Just give a few examples. f” *
– If the honorable member for South Sydney incites the honorable member for Hume to disorder he too will incur the displeasure of the Chair.
– The Government has at last, been forced by the Labour party to increase the invalid and old-age pensions, but its repentance is too late j the people can see through that manoeuvre
– Order !
– I repeat that this legislation is not introduced for the purpose of terminating industrial strife, but merely in order to provide the Government with a battle cry for the next election. If any illeffects to the primary producers or anybody else arise out of this proposal the blame must be laid at the doors of the Government. I was amused to hear the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and others asserting the necessity for enforcing the law. What a recent conversion ! We well recollect that five years ago certain individuals built coffin ships, in respect of which they were liable to refund £120,000 to the Commonwealth, but the Government has not raised a little finger to recover that money. Had they put to sea, those ships would have caused the loss of thousands of lives, but we hear no word from the Government of enforcing the law against their wealthy friends, the builders. When, however, men are opposing a reduction of their wages from £9 to £8 a month, the honorable member for Fawkner suddenly discovers that he has a conscience, and that the law must be enforced. His conscience functions only when it can be used against the poor, as he used it against the white-workers of the country years ago, when he declared that 14s. per week was an ample wage for a woman. Sir Sidney Kidman and others were allowed to default for eight years in’ respect of their taxation; the Government never discovered that those men should be compelled to recognize their obligations, as any poor farmer has to do. The hypocrisy of honorable members opposite who talk about the enforcement of the law is apparent to anybody. I predict that the people will stand aghast when they know the personnel of the tribunal which is to have the power of declaring that Australian citizens shall be sent out of the
Commonwealth. That appointment is like the action of a drowning man grasping at a straw. So far asI can recollect political history in Australia, it invariably happens that when the tide turns against a government it proceeds from one blunder to another until it meets its doom. In connexion with this unfortunate dispute, the worst blunder made by the Government has been the appointment of this farcical board, which, if the occasion were not so serious, would become the laughing-stock of the Commonwealth. Honorable members opposite cannot deny the statement madeby the honorable member for Darling that the three appointees are members of the National Federation in New South Wales. I challenge; Ministers to deny that Mr. Archdale Parkhill came to Melbourne to consult with the Prime Minister regarding the appointment of the board. I surmise that the right honorable gentleman was assured that the persons suggested would give the sort of verdict that the Government desired. It is openly stated that Mr. Parkhill consulted with the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet, and then returned to Sydney, and almost the next day the names of the three men to be appointed to the board were sent to Melbourne by him.
– That is a very wild surmise, as the honorable member knows.
– The Postmaster-General need not attempt to look innocent. The appointment of the board is surrounded by suspicion. The fact that Mr. Archdale Parkhill had a conference with Ministers has leaked out, and, of course, more will be heard of it. The fact will stand to the eternal shame of the Government that, even in the appointment of this farcical board, it was hot prepared to be fair, but violated every principle of British justice, including the right of an accused person to trial by a jury of his countrymen. Trial of a person before any jury with a view to his deportation would be bad enough, but the consultation with the head of theNationalist organization in Sydney, regarding the constitution of a board which would have the power of recommending the deportation of an Australian citizen is the most discreditable actcommitted by this discredited Government. Even a go vernment with a good record could not survive the crime which is proposed against men who have reared families in Australia. Ministers speak of the primary producers. The only primary producer* they know of are the wealthy squatters. I know at least as much about the psychology of the men on the land as do those honorable members opposite who are acquainted with only one class of them. The men who work on the land for their livingwill not be blinded by the dust which the Government is endeavouring to throw in their eyes. They are, above all things, fair-minded, and they will not approve of the deportation of the fathers of Australianborn children in the manner proposed. They are only too recently acquainted with an outrageous act perpetrated by this same Government under a different leader, when Australian citizens were sent into the internment camps of this country. Men who spent three or four years in those camps do not know to this day the nature of the charge that was levelled against them. That action even is not so bad as the proposal of this Government to summon Australian citizens before a board, the members of which are drawn from the ranks of its own supporters, and are therefore bound to give a verdict in conformity with the desire of the Government.
Mr.F. FRANCIS (Henty) [7.16 a.m.]. - I have listened with interest to the whole of the debate on the bill. I have not in any way interfered with the remarks of honorable members, and I have voted in favour of the bill on every possible occasion.
Honorable members interjecting,
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) is entirely out of order, and I appeal to him to set a good example.
– This is not a political measure as honorable members opposite have said. It has been introduced by the Government in the interests of the Commonwealth, and every sane and reasonable citizen will stand by the Government in any action it takes under this legislation to preserve the peace and good government of this country. This Government would have been sadly lacking in its duty to the community, and would have earned its disapproval, had it not introduced the bill. It affects a purely national matter ; and, although the Opposition objects to it, no member of the community need fear the effect of this legislation if he is prepared to obey the laws, and to live and to work peaceably in this country. The bill is designed to protect the interests of the people of Australia. It has been said during the debate that the measure is long overdue. The average person approves of the bill because he has no time for communism, which is eating like a cancer into the national life of this young country. It is astounding to me that, even in this Parliament, there are men who stand for bolshevism. Many honorable members opposite have said that they refuse to have anything to do with communism, and yet, in this Parliament, they try to prevent the Government from bringing in a measure which is designed to preserve peace and good will among the people. I am astounded that there is any opposition to the bill at all, and I am prepared to bear the responsibility of voting for it.
– The honorable member is renegeing.
– I am prepared to take that matter up at Ballarat.
– The honorable member is not game to do so. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to meet him at Ballarat.
– I have called for order on several occasions, and if honorable members on the Opposition corner take no notice, I shall be reluctantly obliged to exercise the authority of the Chair, even at this late stage of the debate.
– Although I regret my remarks, I hope that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. F. Francis) will follow up his challenge.
– I cannot hear an argument.
– I am prepared to go to Ballarat and to challenge the honorable member, provided that I get a clean run.
– Order ! There are better places and times to issue challenges.
– The bill has my full support, and I am surprised that it has not the approval of the Opposition.
– I have listened very carefully to the statements of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), and other honorable members supporting the Government respecting the proposed appointment of a special police force, and of a special hoard to deal with a few individuals whom they term undesirables. It is difficult to conceive why a government should use all the forces at its disposal to transport to’ some part of the British Isles three or four individuals who are at present unnamed. They are charged with being communists and bolsheviks. It is said, of course, that the communists will not obey the laws of the country. The Labour party contends that every man should obey the laws, and it has, therefore, no time for communists. “We refuse to- tolerate them. But as the Government demands that the laws shall be obeyed, we also demand from the Government its acceptance of the spirit of British fair play, and’ of the spirit of the British Constitution. Any government, that undertakes to deport Australian citizens without a fair trial is, in effect, an apostle of communism. The daily press of Australia has contributed very largely to the apparent hysteria that prevails in this House, and, to some extent, outside of it, regarding the effects of the shipping strike. If the Government wishes to maintain the peace of the country it should place a check upon the daily press, because, on many occasions, it has been largely responsible for fomenting trouble. I ask honorable members supporting the Government to place themselves in the position of the officers of the Seamen’s Union of New South Wales, who are in communication from time to time with their fellow seamen overseas. Undoubtedly an agreement was entered into between the British ship-owners and Mr. Havelock Wilson and his fellowofficers, but when it was arrived at these British seamen were on the water, and they had no chance to object to the reduction of their wages. It was natural for them, on their arrival in Australian waters, to meet their fellow seamen and discuss their grievance. It was equally natural’ that they should . invite Mr. Walsh or Mr. Johannsen to assist them. They are striving for improved conditions of employment, and I hope that the day will never come when British seamen will he afraid to stand up for that cause. I propose to read statements by two of the British firemen. No honorable member would willingly undertake the work that has to be done by these men, even if he were paid three times as much as they receive. Most of them are married men. and it may be assumed that they have to pay rent and maintain their wives and families in Great Britain. The firemen’s statements are as follows : - ‘
Fireman Carson said the seamen did not agree with the reduction in their wages of £1 per month. Every sailor, fireman, and steward on strike was a fully paid-up member of the British Seamen’s Union on leaving England. One of the clauses of the official agreement provided for five hours’ work on Saturdays and four hours on Sundays without payment. The stewards had to work all hours, and no payment was made for overtime. - Two six-hour watches For seamen entailed twelve hours’ work, and no payment was made for overtime. The accommodation on the vessels was scandalous, and the men had to provide their own bedding and blankets, and also their eating utensils. Mr.- Havelock Wilson had secured control of the Shipping Federation. People should examine the conditions on the ships for themselves. The seamen intended to fight to a finish. (Cheers.)
Fireman Brown said the stand taken by British seamen in Australia was because of the acceptance of a reduction in wages without the men being consulted. The seamen of Great Britain had for ten years suffered abominable conditions, which did not exist on foreign vessels. Mr. Havelock Wilson had gone to Canada to escape the anger of the British stalwarts.
The foregoing statements are made by two responsible British seamen, and I venture to say that they are telling the truth. Honorable members opposite, if they had their way, would say that £9 a month was quite enough to pay the seamen, but not one word is said by them against the way Lord Inchcape and his associates have sweated the British seamen and have built up huge, fortunes by robbing the people right and left. When the firemen merely ask that their rates of pay shall be maintained, or that an increase shall be granted to them, they are characterized as communists and bolsheviks, and everything that is bad. It is said that they are only British seamen and are not entitled to any more than they now get. Do honorable members realize the trying conditions under which firemen are employed? Stripped to the waist, they have to sweat out their life’s blood in the hold of the ship, and they do not know but that at any moment the vessel may go down. Probably they do not see their wives and families for five or six months at a stretch, and yet we are told that £9 a month is sufficient for them. I say that three times that sum is not a penny too much. Now that these men have put their backs to the wall, .1 hope that they will continue to fight for their rights, and that when they return to England their conditions will have been improved by at least 25 per cent., although the figure ought to be 125 per cent. A bill such as this will not prevent the seamen from aspiring to better conditions. They may be cast into prison, but iron walls will not depress their spirit. When the old stone masons and others formed the first trade union in the Old Country nearly a century ago, and dared to speak a word against constituted authority, as it was in those days, they were deported to Australia in hundreds. Men were also deported for daring to walk across the plantations of therich and shoot a hare or a rabbit to keeptheir families from starvation, although those who sent them here were not one thousandth part as good as they were. The spirit of those men marches on, and will to the end of time. They showed what could be done by co-operation. They were determined to emancipate their class, and they did it. Despite all the coercive laws passed in those days, freedom has been secured to Britishers. Many years ago it was thought proper that the men deported to this country should work chained together in gangs.
– I am wondering what this has to do Vlt 11 the bill.
– I am showing that the laws passed in those days failed to quell the spirit of the men who felt that injustice had been done to them, and I maintain that it is equally certain that this bill will fail in its purpose. Within eighteen months the special police to be appointed will be forgotten, just as is the force appointed some years ago by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes). This Government will not grant the persons against whom the bill is especially directed the right of appeal to the ordinary courts of the land, but has appointed a special board to deal with them. Now it is proposed to appoint a special police force, since the State authorities will not provide the men required to arrest these persons. It is outrageous that the trouble and; expense that the bill involves should be caused merely because it is desired to transport three or four citizens to some part of the British Isles. It is impossible to prevent industrial disputes. They have occurred from age to age, and from century to century, and will continue as long as men differ in their views. No system or arbitration will permanently prevent them. The best policy to adopt is toleration, conciliation, and commonsense treatment for both parties. The Government is proposing to take a false step, which must surely fail. I am sorry that this bill is to be placed on the statute-book of this young country.
– I would not intervene at this stage in the debate but for certain remarks of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), who stated that the board which has been constituted is composed of three Nationalists, that those three Nationalists were selected, apparently, because they would do the Government’s bidding, and after consultation in Melbourne with somebody connected with the Nationalist organization.
– I named him -Mr. Parkhill.
– The honorable member stated that Mr. Parkhill had been in Melbourne, that the Government had discussed the matter with him, and that, in consultation with him, it was decided to appoint the members of the board. That suggestion is on a par with many other things that the honorable member does not scruple to say in this House, although he has no facts upon which to base them. I challenge him to produce a single fact in support of his statement.
– Did the right honorable gentleman consult with Mr. Parkhill?Will he . answer that question?
– I say to the honorable member-
– He will not answer the question. He is running away from it.
– The statement made by the honorable member is not supported by one shred of evidence.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether he was in consultation with Mr. Parkhill?
– The honorable member for Hume is out of order. I have given him several warnings.
– Am I not entitled to ask the Prime Minister a question, seeing that he asked me one?
– Not at present.
– The honorable member has not one shred of evidence upon which to base his statement. He suggests that 1 have asked him a question. I have not done so, but I shall now do so. Does he deny that he has not one shred of evidence to support what he said?
– I say that the right honorable gentleman was in consultation with Mr. Parkhill while Mr. Parkhill was in Melbourne, and that after the interview the Government appointed the three members of the board. Will the Prime Minister deny that he consulted with Mr. Parkhill on this matter ?
– I stated just now that the honorable member had suggested that Mr. Parkhill, a member of the Nationalist organization in New South Wales, had been to Melbourne, and had consulted with the Government regarding these appointments. I now ask him, do I misrepresent what he said?
– Not at all.
– Then my reply to the honorable member is that he has not a shred of evidence to support his statement, and I again ask him whether ho has.
– I have answered the Prime Minister’s question. Will he answer mine?
– The honorable member has not answered my question.
– I answered it, and said “ Yes.” Will the Prime Minister answer mine ?
– The right honorable the Prime Minister will see that this form, of discussion is quite irregular. I regret that I have permitted it to continue; but I now ask the right honorable gentleman and the honorable member for Hume to observe the ordinary courtesies and rules of debate.
– I regret that the debate has pursued an irregular course, and I realize that, as leader of the House, I ought not to offend. I asked the honorable member for Hume if he had a shred of evidence on which to base his statement. I am anxious to know whether he made the statement recklessly and wilfully. He has not yet said whether he has any evidence. If he says he has, I challenge him, and tell him that he cannot have any, because there is not a shadow of truth in what he says.
– Was the right honorable gentleman in consultation with Mr. Parkhill? Will he answer that simple question?
– The honorable member has asked me whether I ever consulted with Mr. Parkhill about this matter. In reply, I tell him that I did not. I did not mention it to him, nor did he mention it to me. That the honorable member could have made such a suggestion is an indication of the type of mind he has. I have heard many similar charges by honorable members of the Opposition, and they are totally untrue. They merely indicate the kind of minds that conceive and utter them. Everything that the honorable member has said suggesting that there is anything improper in the appointment of this board is totally and absolutely without the slightest foundation in fact.
– The members of the board are members of the Prime Minister’s party.
– If the honorable member has the slightest respect for his reputation, he must recognize that the obligation is upon him to produce evidence in support of his statement. Honorable members opposite make these statements, and afterwards run away from them. They never pursue and prove the things they say. They are privileged in making accusations in this House, and they do not scruple to make them under cover of that privilege. The honorable member has done himself very little credit by the charges he has made. His statement is discredited by the fact that he has previously made many similar charges which, so far from being substantiated, have been proved to be without justification.
Mr. Parker Moloney interjecting,
– If the honorable member for Hume persists in taking no notice of the calls of the Chair, I shall have him removed from the House.
– It is significant that, immediately the honorable member is faced with his statement, he adopts an attitude which shows that he has in him those characteristics which generally excite the greatest contempt in the people of Australia. He is the kind of a man who cannot take punishment.
– The Prime Minister knows very well that he consulted with Archdale Parkhill before the members of the board were appointed.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) is of the same type as the honorable member for Hume. Although he does not hesitate to fling these charges about, he ‘cannot prove one word of what he says.
– Archdale Parkhill was brought to Melbourne and consulted by the Government.
– The honorable member for Darling was not in the chamber when I cautioned the honorable . member for Hume for interjecting. The Chair has been patient throughout this discussion, but the honorable member may find that its patience is not inexhaustible.
– I rise to a point of order. Up to the present, Mr. Speaker, I recognize that you- have endeavoured to be fair. You allowed the Prime Minister to fling accusations across the table” at me. He made insulting statements in an insulting way, and I wish to know whether you will now allow me to reply to them?
– The honorable member has complained of the conduct of the chair. If his remarks are intended as a reflection on the fairness of the present occupant of the chair, he will have to apologize and withdraw. I ask him whether he meant his statement to be interpreted in that way?
– When I, by interjection, was answering the Prime Minister, you prevented me from continuing, but you allowed him to make a vicious attack on me, instead of confining his speech to the third reading of the bill.
– That is not a point of order.
– I ask for your protection against these slanderous innuendoes that the Prime Minister is flinging at me and the honorable member for Darling. He is not speaking to the third reading of the bill.
– The honorable member asks if the Prime Minister is in order in speaking as he has done on the third reading of the bill? I believe that he is. I conceive that the right hon- orable gentleman is replying to arguments used by the honorable member for Hume. For the honorable member to be permitted to reply while the right honorable the Prime Minister is speaking would be against both custom and courtesy. The honorable member knows that. There are times when replies may be made, but an honorable member who has already spoken on the motion for the third reading, has no further right to speak. I have been trying to restrain the honorable member for Hume from further interjection.
– As a comparatively new member of this House, I should like to know whether you, Mr. Speaker, have power under the Standing Orders to prevent the. Prime Minister, or any other member of this House, from using language that is insulting and provocative of disorder. If you have that power I ask you to exercise it so as to secure decorum in this debate.
– I think the honorable, member knows that the chair has certain powers conferred upon it in the strength of the support given to it by the House and. by established practice. If I hear any honorable member, whoever he may be, say anything that I regard as improper parliamentary language, I shall exercise the power I think the chair has. I am not aware that the Prime Minister has used provocative or disorderly language.
– It is, indeed, interesting to hear honorable members opposite protesting against anything I say about them. Do they ever remember any of the things they say about me? It is only because of the misrepresentation of me by the honorable member for Hume that I have had to reply in this way. Honor able members opposite seem to think that they can fling about any charges they like, but the moment anything is said in reply they resemble the man in the prize ring, who is a bully when he has an opponent he can beat, but is a cur when he is getting punishment.
– Could there be anything more currish than to bring Archdale Parkhill from Sydney to Melbourne to consult him about these appointments?
– It is not parliamentary to use the word “ cur “ in reference to any honorable member. If that was the implication, I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the remark.
– If I had applied the word to any honorable member I would withdraw it, and to prevent the possible suggestion that I did so apply it, I do withdraw it. It is regrettable that this kind of accusation should be flung about, and that it should be necessary to take notice of it.
– Was Archdale Parkhill sent for by the Government, and did he consult with members of the Cabinet?
– It is quite useless for me to tell honorable members opposite that there is not a scintilla of truth in any suggestion that Mr. Archdale Parkhill was brought to Melbourne to consult with the Cabinet.
– The time has arrived to complete the final stages of the bill. The question is -
That the hill he now read a third time.
Question - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 8.7 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. (Saturday).
– As no message has been received from another place, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you should leave the chair again, and that the House should be called together as soon as a message is received.
– The House is entitled to the courtesy of some information from the Prime Minister. I think it is unprecedented in the history of this Parliament that there should be a meeting on. a Saturday afternoon. The right honorable gentleman might have explained why this meeting is considered necessary.
– Order! May I point out to the honorable member that the House is in danger of being launched into an irregular debate. There is no motion before the Chair, though it is competent for the Prime Minister to move one.
– Will you, sir, take a motion?
– Yes; from the right quarter. I am anxious only to safeguard the House from an irregular debate.
– It was for that reason I rose. I recognized that it is unusual for the House to meet in this way when the Government has no business to put forward.
– Order !
– I think it is competent for me to move that the Clerk call upon the next business. May I give my reasons ?
– Yes; if they are brief.
– I shall endeavour 10 make them both brief and very much to the point. Some of the business on the notice-paper is very urgent. There is need for the encouragement of Australian industries. They are languishing, and thousands of people are out of employment; yet no action is being taken by tie Government to protect them.
– The honorable member is aware that a sessional order provides that no new business shall be taken after 11 o’clock at night, and I remind him that we are still conducting Friday’s sitting, and that it is after 11 p.m. of Friday. I am not disposed to hear any more debate unless some motion is submitted. The honorable member for Dalley suggested that an unprecedented course has been taken by the House, and, I think he said, by the Government; but it is no unusual thing when the House is waiting for a message from another place for a Prime Minister to suggest that the Speaker should leave the chair pending its arrival. This occurs ordinarily at the close of the session, when messages are frequently passing between the two Houses.
– But the House does not usually meet on a Saturday.
– This meeting is not irregular, though it may be inconvenient I ask honorable members not to place me in a false position by continuing discussion while no motion is before the House.
– Is there any guarantee, if the sitting is suspended as suggested, that honorable members will not be prevented from catching their trains this afternoon.
– The Prime Minister is better qualified to answer that. question - by leave of the House.
– I am sure that, on reflection, the honorable member for Dalley will not accuse me of discourtesy for having failed to explain the urgency of the measure with which the message for which we are waiting will deal, because, earlier in the sitting, I did so at considerable length. It would not be convenient for me to repeat my reasons now. If the message is not likely to arrive in time to enable honorable members to catch their trains, I propose to move, when the House is called together again, that the sitting be suspended until 3 o’clock on Monday.
Sitting suspended from 3.88 p.m. to 3.58 p.m. (Saturday).
– Having learned that there is no prospect “ of a message coming from another place this afternoon, or until very late this evening, I asked you, Mr. Speaker, to call the House together immediately, to consult the wishes of honorable members. I now suggest that, in the circumstances, the most convenient course would be for you, sir, to leave the chair until 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon. The alternative course would be that I should move “ That the House at its rising adjourn until 3 o’clock p.m. on Monday”; but such an adjournment would involve the bringing back of the printing staff on Sunday to get the notice-paper out, and I do not think that honorable members would desire that to be done. It would be more convenient if Mr. Speaker were merely to leave the chair until the hour named.
– I understand that there will be no business taken on Monday other than that which is now before the Senate ; that the ordinary business will not be resumed before Wednesday.
– That is so.
– As that seems to be the unanimous wish of the House, I shall leave the chair until Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from4 p.m. (Saturday) until 8 p.m. (Monday).
Monday, 31 August 1925
– As no message has been received from another place, I suggest. Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you should leave the chair until 5.30 p.m., or until such time thereafter as the bells are rung.
– The chair will be resumed at 5.30 p.m., or at such later time as may be necessary. The bells will be rung five minutes before the time of reassembling.
Sittingsuspended from 3.2 to 6.30 p.m. (Monday).
– The message for which the House has been waiting has not been received from another place, but, as the bill has passed through the committee there without amendment, there is no need for honorable members to wait longer. I therefore move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at5.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250828_reps_9_111/>.