10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Railways (South Australia) Agreement Bill.
Oodnadatta to Alice Springs Railway Bill.
Precious Metals Prospecting Bill.
Petroleum Prospecting Bill.
Customs Tariff (Papua, New Guinea Preference) Bill.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties Bill.
Bill reserved for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure.
Message of Sympathy from His Majesty the King.
. -(By leave.) - I desire to read to the House a cablegram from His Majesty the King referring to the disastrous bush fires which have occurred in this State, and the southern parts of the continent generally. His Majesty’s message is in these words -
It is with the deepest concern that I have heard of the devastating bush fires which have occurred in Victoria and Southern Australia, resulting in a serious loss of human life, extensive damage to forests, and much destruction of live stock. I truly sympathize with you, your Government, and the people of Australia in this calamity. I would ask you to convey my sincere condolences with the families of those who have lost their lives and, at the same time, express my admiration at the heroism displayed in combating the danger.
His Excellency the Governor-General today despatched the following reply to His Majesty: -
I beg leave to express the loyal and dutiful thanks of the people of Australia to your Majesty for your message of sympathy. The prompt and warm reaction to the sufferings of our citizens has evoked univeral appreciation and gratitude.
I think the House would desire that I should add a word on the subject. The recent fires have been calamitous. On no previous occasion have so many lives been lost in Australia as the result of a bush fire. The economic losses have not been so great in this instance as have been suffered on some previous occasions, but the circumstance that many unfortunate settlers have lost their lives, and many others have been left homeless has evoked a great wave of sympathy from the community. The one bright feature of these tragic happenings has been the wonderful heroism and selfsacrifice of those concerned, whose conduct has been in accord with the best traditions of our nation. The Commonwealth Government has already, on behalf of the people of Australia, expressed its sympathy with the sufferers, and it is co-operating with the Government of Victoria in providing for the immediate necessities of those whose homes have been destroyed, by supplying tents and blankets from the stores of the Defence Department. We have also informed the State Government that when the full facts have been ascertained, if there is anything we can do to assist in the alleviation of the hardships of those who have been rendered homeless, we shall be prepared to do it.
.- (By leave.) - May I be permitted to say on behalf of honorable members on this side how much we sympathize with those who have been the victims of the disastrous fires which have been raging in this and other States during the last few days. We offer our sympathy to the relatives of those who have suffered, and we appreciate the gallantry and the self-sacrifice of many of the efforts that have been made to prevent the spread of the fires. I support the statement made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government, and I would suggest to the right honorable gentleman that, in view of the great amount of loss that has been sustained, the Commonwealth Government might make a very handsome donation to supplement the efforts of the States to relieve those who have suffered.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, if Sir Alexander Peacock and the Government of which he is a member, make use of the unemployed by sending them to the affected areas to prevent a possible recurrence of the fires, and to assist the homeless there, he will lend assistance by making use of the organization of the Department of Defence to send equipment and food.
– The Government of Victoria has sent one of its Ministers to the area affected, and also a number of its officers. As soon as full information is available, the Commonwealth Government will be prepared to co-operate, as I have already indicated, in any way that may relieve the situation.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the courage displayed by the telephonist at Mount Pleasant during the progress of the bush fires on Sunday last? If not, will the Minister make inquiries into thematter?
– The specific instance to which the honorable member refers has not been brought to my notice, but I am aware of the very fine work done by many persons in charge of telephone offices in the fire-swept areas. Their courage and devotion to duty must be appreciated by everybody.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inquire why the trunk line could not be connected with the Neerim Post Office on the 15th February to convey an urgent message about the unfortunate fires and an aged bed-ridden person, and why the sender of the message was not informed that the Neerim office could not be raised?
– Neerim is in an area in which many trunk lines were destroyed by the fires: I shall have this incident inquired into, and let the honorable member know the result.
– In view of the reported shortage of wheat this year as compared with last year’s crop, and the large number of ships loading or preparing to load with grain for export, will the Government consider the advisability of taking such steps as may be necessary to ensure that sufficient wheat shall be retained in Australia to protect the community from a shortage for home consumption and the inevitable increased prices which must result from such scarcity?
– The retention of necessary supplies of wheat for home consumption has engaged the attention of all the voluntary and compulsory pools which have been in existence in this country, and the matter referred to by the honorable member is under close supervision at the present time. Should necessity arise for action such as the honorable member suggests, his views will receive full consideration.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact, as stated in the press some time ago, that the original estimate of the cost of the cruisers that are being built in Great Britain has already been considerably exceeded. Will the right honorable gentleman make a statement to the House saying whether that is so, and, if it is, to what extent the original estimate has been increased?
– I have no information on the subject; but I remind the honorable member that the cruisers are being built under contract, and if there is any increase in their cost, the responsibility for it will be that of the contractor and not of the Commonwealth Government or the Australian people.
Delayin Hearingof Claims
– Is the Prime-Min ister aware that representatives of the coal miners in the northern districts are very much troubled because claims which have been listed for almost two years have not yet been heard? Will he take the necessary action to appoint local boards under the Industrial Peace Act, so as to expedite the hearing of these cases?
– A little time ago I received a deputation on this subject, introduced by the honorable gentleman, and at the end of last week I forwarded to him a letter regarding it, which, I gather, he has received.
– My question is asked because of representations which have been made since.
– In my reply to the honorable gentleman, I said that at the present moment the Government cannot see its way to appoint local tribunals under the Industrial Peace Act for many reasons, which I cannot go into in replying to a question without notice. The whole matter must be reviewed when the industrial legislation that the Government intends to submit is beingconsidered. Grave constitutional questions are involved in the appointment of local boards, as contemplated in the Industrial Peace Act. I, therefore, cannot say, at the present time, whether the Government will appoint local tribunals.
– In view of the representations made by me last Friday afternoon, and my request for information regarding the unfortunate mishap last week to two aviators at Canberra, can the Minister for Defence supply the House with details of the accident and give an assurance that everything possible was done to secure the safety of the unfortunate victims?
– On the 12th February the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin.) askedto be supplied with full information relating to an aeroplane accident at Canberra on the 11th Feb ruary, involving the deaths of two members of the Royal Australian
Air Force. The honorable member asked -
Whether the aeroplane that was used was in a proper state of repair, or whether it was an old machine unfit for’ service?
That a report be presented to members immediately the House meets on Wednesday next.
He stated that it had been substantially reported in Melbourne that the machine was out of repair, out of date, and unsafe. I find that both the machine and engine concerned in this accident had just been completely overhauled and tested in the air. The fact that it was flown from Richmond to Canberra is ample proof of the serviceability of both machine and engine. The type of machine and engine - D.H. 9 aeroplane, with Siddeley Puma engine - is looked UPOn as the most reliable iri the service. This type of engine is used almost exclusively in civil air services in this country, and the machine most commonly used is a development of the D.H. 9, suited for civil purposes. The machine was definitely fit for service. It was not out of repair, and was perfectly safe. This machine is not of new design, but this has no bearing on the question of its safety. A court of inquiry was appointed as soon as the accident occurred. Proceedings of this court entail the collection of evidence from persons and documents in Canberra and Richmond, New South Wales. An officer has collected evidence at Canberra, and is now at Richmond on similar duty. Until he returns it will not be possible to give the results of the inquiry of the court. From the information available, however, there appears . to be no doubt whatever that the accident was due to an error of judgment on the part of the pilot. There is nothing whatever to indicate that there might have been anything wrong with either the machine itself or the engine; in fact, everything is against such a surmise. Here is a case in which a machine has been flown a distance of about 200 miles, involving a flight . of two hours, without incident, and stalls at a height of 150 feet when attempting to land on arrival at its destination. The machine definitely could not proceed from Richmand to Canberra at a height of 150 feet throughout, and it ig probable that the flight would be undertaken at a height of some thousands of feet. It is obvious, then, that the pilot had shut off his engine with the object of landing, and had glided down to 150 feet with that intention before the accident happened. There is no indication of any fault in the machine itself, and it would appear that it was stalled by the attention of the pilot being taken from it in watching the ground on which he proposed landing. A machine once stalled - and stalling means the reduction of speed to the point where a machine ceases to fly and commences to fall - requires to fall a- certain distance before gravity gives it flying speed again, and during such a fall it is out of control of the pilot. If a machine is stalled at a good height it is possible to regain control of it, but should that happen close to the ground, it is not possible, and a crash results. An accident . of this kind, which no doubt occurred in the present case, may be said to be the most common among serious accidents, and pilots of long experience are not entirely immune from such accidents. The Government deeply regrets this unfortunate occurrence, resulting, as it has, in the loss to the service of their country of the lives of two valued members of the Royal Australian Air Force. In accordance with the wishes of the relatives, arrangements were made for the burials locally during the week-end, with full military honours provided by the staff and cadets of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
– May I direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to a serious inequality in the ground rents charged to telephone subscribers. The rentals are fixed on the following basis : - One to 300 subscribers, £3 a year; 301 to 600 subscribers, £3 5s. a year; 601 to 1,500 subscribers, £4 7s. 6d., or an increase of 22s. 6d. a year; 1,501 to 4,000 subscribers, £4 12s. 6d., or an increase of 5s. a year; over 4,000 subscribers, £5, an increase of 7s. 6d. a year. The greatest increase occurs in regard to exchanges with from 600 to 1,500 subscribers, when an extra charge of Jd. a call is also made. The additional initial expenditure in an exchange of 601 subscribers, aa compared with an exchange with less than 600 subscribers, is 22s. 6d. for each subscriber. Will the Postmaster-General have the scale of charges revised so that there will’ not be such a sharp rise when more than 600 subscribers are connected with an exchange !
– I shall have inquiries made with a view to informing the honorable member why the charges he has referred to are made.
– As some of the State Premiers, who have returned from the recent conference on the expenditure of the vote of £20,000,000 for road-making, have stated that the scheme is held up for the present, and that another conference will have to be held, will the Prime Minister state whether the scheme will be proceeded with immediately in those States where it has been accepted ?
– The conference referred to by the honorable member, which was held in Melbourne, was of a preliminary character. It was called to allow the Commonwealth Government to submit its proposals to representatives of the States, and to hear their views! Certain suggestions for the more efficient working of the scheme were made on behalf of the States, and are now being considered by the Government. No suggestion that the scheme is acceptable to only some of the States, or that it should be put into operation piecemeal, has been made. It is intended to operate as from the beginning of the next financial year. No provision will be made for appropriating the money until the financial proposals of the Government for the next financial year are brought down. The operations now being carried on are in connexion with the vote of £750,000 for the present financial year.
– As the Public Service Commissioners contemplate the retirement of a number of returned soldiers temporarily employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department, in order to make room for permanent juniors who have qualified for promotion, will the Prime Minister consult with the commissioners with a view to retaining the services of the displaced officers in the Commonwealth service.
– Every effort is being made to ensure that’ returned soldiers shall not be deprived of their employment under the Commonwealth where that can be avoided. The same policy will be adopted towards the men to whom the honorable member for Lang has referred. I think it was on Friday last that I made a statement to the House on this subject.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the South Australian Government has appointed a State solicitor whose services will be available to citizens of limited means? Will the honorable gentleman consider the desirability of recommending to the Government that the services of the Commonwealth Law Department shall be made available to citizens of limited means who are seeking justice under federal laws?
– I have read that such an appointment has been made in South Australia. Under federal law any proceedings against the Commonwealth may be heard in the High Court, and the High Court rules provide for free legal advice and assistance for poor persons who are involved in litigation in that court.
– As the recentlypresented report of the royal commission on public health deals with many matters of urgent importance to the people of the Commonwealth, will the Minister for Health afford the House an early opportunity to discuss the report and accompanying recommendations ?
– The report is now under the consideration of the Government.
Publication of Incomes
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Attitudeof Canadian Government : Terminal and Other Charges
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - 1. (a) What were the receipts from terminal cable charges by the Commonwealth for each year since the establishment of the Commonwealth, or for such years as are available?
What were the receipts from cable charges from ordinary traffic and press traffic respectively for 1924-5?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Note. - A special: investigation into tele:graph rates !U22r23’ showed approximately the following losses: -
lows : -
The only instances where the cable traffic is handled over these lines by officers of this department are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice. -
– The Public Service Board, which is the authority controlling examinations, has furnished the following replies : -
lepers- Katherine River Railway Bridge - Oil Tanks.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. Tenders were not called for the construction or erection of the Katherine River bridge, but contracts were let for the steel work for both the sub and superstructures.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
When is it expected that the material for the construction of the oil tanks at Darwin will arrive at that port?
– About the end of March.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to the proposed sale of expropriated properties in the Mandated Territories -
Is it proposed to consider tenders for these properties as one lot?
If so, will it be made a condition of such tenders that the amount for each property be specified ?
Will catalogues of all these properties be published at a date which will afford intending purchasers reasonable time to make necessary inspections, &c, before tendering.
On what principle will the successful . tenderer be determined?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Has his attention been drawn to the report of Dr. Emilius Checconi, which was presented to the First International Malaria Congress, held at Rome, in October, 1025, dealing with the experiments carried out on 4,250 malaria patients by 600 physicians, which showed that excellent and satisfactory results had been obtained in 4,070 cases (05 per cent.) by the “ Smalarina Cremonese “ method of treatment?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 28th January, in response to a request by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), I laid on the table of the House a copy of the report of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company for November, and promised to lay on the table the report for the month of December, 1925, when received. This report has been received, and I now lay a copy of it on the table of the House for the information of honorable members.
– On the 10th February, in reply to a request by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), I promised to have inquiries made concerning the use of the coat of arms on the stationery of the Parliamentary Library. I desire to inform the honorable member that I am now in receipt of advice from the Federal Parliamentary Librarian to the effect that the stationer, bearing the royal coat of arms consists of old stock ordered before the use of the Australian coat of arms was authorized, and that, when this stock is exhausted, the Australian coat of arms will be used exclusively.
-On the 29th January, the honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs was asked, without notice, the following question by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) : - “Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether any bonus or reward is offered, or is proposed to be offered, for the “discovery of a method of treating the timber-borer and the various pests that affect fruit ? “ The question has now been considered by the Minister for Markets and Migration, who desires that the following reply be made : - “ It is not proposed to offer any bonus or reward for the purposes indicated. The whole question of carrying out investigations on these and similar problems will be dealt with by the Institute of Science and Industry as soon as it is reconstituted.”
– On the 11th February the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) asked the following, question : - “ In view of the great loss of property and stock caused by devastating bush fires, such as have recently occurred, will the Prime Minister consider whether aeroplane patrols, such as are established in Canada, might not be used to locate outbreaks of fire, and report them, so that men can be sent to put them cut?” I am now in a position to reply to the honorable member’s question. The conditions under which aeroplane patrols may be used to assist in the location of outbreaks of bush fires differ very greatly from those pertaining to Canada and other parts of the world where the use of aircraft for the location of forest fires has shown itself to be most effective and most economical. Such a use of aircraft in Australia, however, is not impossible, and the Government is prepared to consider any practical arrangement under which aircraft and other Defence material can be made available to a State or States for the purpose of preventing such awful calamities as have recently resulted from bush fires. With this object the Government is in communication with the Forests Commission of Victoria, with the view to obtaining further information for the possible use of aircraft in locating fires.
Bounty on Parchment COFFEE Mr. PRATTEN”.- On the 12th February, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions : -
When was the application received by the’ Tariff Board from the Central Queensland District Council of Agriculture for a Commonwealth bounty of 3d. per lb. on parchment coffee grown in Australia?
When will consideration be given to the matter ?
What was the total value of coffee imported into Australia last year, and what were the countries from which the importations were made ?
What was the quantity and the value of coffee grown in Australia last year?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
On 4th September, 1925.
The Tariff Board dealt with the application by public inquiries in Brisbane and Sydney on 25th January and 2nd February, 1926, respectively. The board will submit its report and recommendation at an early date.
– On 11th February, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) referred to the comments in a morning newspaper, presumably the Morning Post, relating to the alleged use of defective aeroplanes for training purposes at Point Cook and to trainees being subjected to needless risks. After making thorough inquiries I am able to assure honorable members that these allegations are quite unfounded. No single flying accident and no accident to any person under training has happened by reason of defects in machines. Almost invariably such accidents as have involved damage to aircraft have been the result of errors of judgment on the part of pupils, which errors must, to a certain extent, be expected during the training of pilots. Pupils are now given much more dual instruction in the air., that is, instruction with experienced pilots, than was the case during the war for instance, and no pupil is allowed to fly solo until the instructor is perfectly satisfied that the pupil is capable of flying safely by himself. Pupils are, therefore, in no case asked to take any unnecessary risk ; in fact, the commanding officer at Point Cook has recently had to parade pupils, and more or less censure them for taking unnecessary risks by flying low, &c. We have never had as many ^pupils under graining previously as are now at Point Cook, and although damage to machines has, as must be expected, been greater than in previous courses, there has been nothing to cause alarm in this direction. The propeller accident, through which a mechanic lost his life, was primarily due to a defect which developed in a switch while a machine was in use, which is very difficult to detect. That the mechanic was struck by the propeller was due to the fact that he was not at the time conforming with Air . Board standing orders iu regard to the position to be taken by a man when swinging a propeller. In this connexion it may be of interest to honorable members to know that all the aircraft used for preliminary flying instruction at Point Cook are of thestandard type used for training throughout the British Empire, and are in a perfectly sound condition.
Debate- resumed from 12th February (vide page 943),, on motion by Mr. Latham -
That the bill be ‘now read a second tune.
Upon which Mr. Charlton had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words alter the word “That.” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof : - “ this House is of opinion that the bill should be withdrawn with a view to redrafting so as to eliminate the obnoxious clauses referring to ‘ industrial disputes, as such clauses, associated with the Crimes Act, are an unwarranted affront to the great bodies of organized labour.”
– The criticism levelled against this bill, by members of the Opposition seems to me very ineffective, and, Unless they have more substantial objections to offer, I submit there is no reason why the passage of the measure should be delayed. The objection taken is to the inclusion in the bill of certain offences which will necessitate their being regarded as crimes, which honorable members opposite .consider an affront to organized labour in Australia. What- is- a crime? A crime means generally an act punishable by law,, as being forbidden by statute, or an act that is injurious- to the public welfare. The word “crime” if commonly applied only to grave offences, but I think it worth while to go a little further in order to ascertain what are grave offences, as, after all, the term is a relative one. The answer will, I think, be found in some such explanation as this-: The gravest offence- is that which offends most against -society, which means .the community. The most serious offence of all is that of murder, the gravity of which is due not merely to the fact that it is an offence .against an individual, but .also because it is .an outrage against the principles which uphold society. The man who has developed murderous .’instincts and has reverted to animalism offends against civilization. The .same element of defiance of the community will ‘be found in other grave offences. The contention that an offence is grave to the extent that it injures the community, should make a logical appeal to honorable members (opposite, because it is in accord with their theory of the supremacy of the state. They have stated frequently- that in their opinion the greatest offence which any man can commit is one against the State. By that they mean, not the government, but the community. This fundamental conception of the relation of the individual to the state is common to members on both sides. We all recognize that the interests of individuals or of sections of the community must* be subservient to the interests of the community as a whole. But in the application of that principle we differ greatly. We on this side believe that honorable members opposite show, at times, a lack of proportion in applying it. We had an instance of this’ a few days ago, when the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) discovered a first-class mare’s nest in connexion with petrol kerb pumps. He went so far as to urge an alteration of the Constitution to deal with this offence against the community. He, as it were, used a steam hammer to bend a pin. I do not wish to discuss further the merits of the case mentioned by the honorable member, but I refer- to- it as showing that when honorable members opposite think that a. grave offence has- been committed against the community, they do not hesi-tate to advocate strong measures to deal with it. It has been alleged that for certain offences to be designated crimes is an- affront to organized labour in Australia. I ask, who among us considers that punishment for any crime, under the definition which I have given to the word is an affront to the innocent members of society ? Let us consider the case of a lawyer who has. been expelled from the legal profession because of improper conduct. Do other lawyers look upon his punishment as an affront to the profession ?
– They try to get him out of it.
– They try to- get rid of him; and that is- what honorable members opposite should do to men guilty of offences under this bill. Instead of saying that to punish them is an affront to- their fellows, they should get rid of such men. All honorable members should welcome the action proposed by this bill. If a medical practitioner, is deregistered for malpractice, do the other members of his profession look upon it as an affront- to them ? So far from feeling it to be an affront, the other members of the” profession congratulate themselves that by his expulsion a stigma has been removed from their profession, that his misconduct no longer casts any reflection on them.
– It all depends on the nature of the offence.
– I beg to differ from those who in this House claim to express the opinion of trade unionists when they say that the great body of trade unionists consider this bill to be an affront. If that opinion had not been advanced with such apparent sincerity, I should have thought that it had been advanced as a joke. At the last ‘ election many thousands of unionists voted for the expulsion, not only from the unions, but also from the community itself, of certain persona whom honorable members opposite unite in describing as the worst enemies of the Labour party. By their votes, cast in favour of Government candidates, those unionists declared that they would not regard the expulsion of- such men as an affront to organized labour in Australia. The assertion that they would so regard it is a hollow excuse, and has- no weight. I challenge the right of honorable members to speak for the trade unionists, of Australia when they advance it. Large numbers of unionists took the very action to expel certain persons from their ranks and from the country which it is now alleged, would be. an affront to them if taken under this bill. What greater offences against society can be imagined than those which are mentioned in this bill ? I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that much depends upon the nature of the offence. I submit, however, that the offences which are dealt with in this, bill are so serious that we are justified in calling them crimes. What are the offences which this bill proposes to punish ?. One of them is scheming to overthrow by violence that government which society has determined upon.
– The honorable member is distorting facts.
– The honorable member’s interjection is most improper and’ incorrect. The offence which I have mentioned is included in the bill; the honorable member seems to think that it contains one clause only.
– The honorable member should not distort my interjection.
– That would be. impossible.
– I ask the honorable member to take no notice of interjections.
– The offences punishable tinder the bill are, in the first place, attempts to overthrow by violence that form of government that society has determined to be in its best interests. Obviously such offences must be contrary to the general desire of the community, . because, if any alteration in the form of government is in accordance with the will of the community, effect can be given to it by constitutional means. Acts of violence resorted to for the purpose of introducing a system of terrorism are rightly regarded under the bill as very grave offences against society, because they constitute a deliberate attempt to set aside the will of the majority. The other class of offence dealt with in the bill is the deliberate defiance of laws that have been established for the maintenance of society in peace and amity. Consider the secondary results in the past of such defiance of the industrial laws of this country - interference with the liberty of citizens in the pursuit of their lawful occasions, loss, want, and almost starvation ; and, frequently, personal violence.. Those are some of the effects of deliberate interference with laws that have been set up by society for preserving peace and good government. Yet it is alleged that the breach of those laws, even if it leads to such conditions as those I have mentioned, cannot rightly be called a crime. I submit that such acts are offences of the gravest nature, because they are opposed to the interests of society itself. Another grave offence under the bill is interference with public officers in the performance of their duties in protecting society. Officers appointed under the law ought to be protected. Interference with them in the discharge, of their duties is a crime, not merely against the men themselves, but also against society, whose interests they are appointed to uphold. That those offences should be regarded as crimes is obviously the intention of the bill, judging by the heading of the second division, “ Protection of the Constitution and of Public and Other Services,” This is the essential feature of the bill, since it gives the character to the offences that are punishable under it. Industrial laws concern the very life and health of the community, and offences such as are described in the bill are as grave as offences against the life and health of individuals. Some honorable members decline to regard participation in a strike as a criminal act; but I point out that the bill makes no provision for that. The proposed new section 30j, with respect to which this complaint is made, specifies certain particular conditions, certain combinations of circumstances, or certain grave exigencies, which may have arisen in the community, under which alone these offences become crimes under the bill. I have endeavoured to show that under such conditions they maybe very properly regarded in that light. With a rather thoughtless zeal, as I imagine, one honorable member went out of his way the other day to declare that there was an “ inalienable right to strike.” Let me remind him, and other honorable members, that the act of striking has been regarded as unlawful since 1904, since when no government has attempted to alter that provision, although more than one Labour government has been in power, and, if it had chosen, could have removed the stigma placed upon strikes. That was. not done, however, because even Labour governments knew perfectly well that they had no right to do it. Therefore, no honorable member can advance his cause by the assertion that workmen have the right to strike; because it is the duty of all honorable members to maintain the supremacy of the law. If one declares that that right exists he lays himself open to a charge- of inciting to a breach of the law. I cannot understand honorable members, who have consistently declared that acts against the general interests of the community are to be strongly deprecated, openly defending acts which experience has shown to be very much against the people’s interests. Only last year the essential services of the country were held up, business was paralyzed; men, women and children were prevented from obtaining lawful employment; loss and suffering, and frequently personal violence were caused, and the community as a whole was under a form of terrorism. To say that the calling of such acts crimes is an affront to trade unionism is, in itself, an accusation against organized labour, which would be the first to resent it if it properly understood the position. I submit, therefore, that the Labour party’s amendment is unworthy of consideration, because it is inconsistent with its own tenets of government, and also because it seeks to exonerate one section of the community from punishment, although under equivalent provocation it would be the first to invoke that punishment upon any other section. No class, and no individual, should claim special privileges of that kind. I know numbers of trade unionists who would be glad to see some of the practices which have been common in industrial life in the last few years abolished, and they will welcome this measure as one that will have the effect of purifying their organization and freeing them from a stigma which unjustly rests upon them. It has been asserted over and over again that the men who are causing all the mischief are the worst enemies of labour, yet when an effort is made to punish them or expel them, there is an unseemly attempt to resist that effort with all the political weight of the Labour party. I am sure that honorable members opposite must feel that they have chosen the wrong course, and adopted a line of argument that must rebound upon themselves. They must realize that they would have done more to earn the respect of the community generally had they thrown their weight, influence, and power behind the efforts that were being made to clear their ranks, and rid the country of a very undesirable class of men.
– One who knew a little of the history of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) would have thought that he would support the amendment. I am sure the honorable member can remember the time, not very long ago, when the provisions of this bill, if they had been the law, would have applied to him.
– That is incorrect.
– I do not wish to wrong the honorable member in any shape or form, but I am under the impression that he is in this House as the result of the part he played in a strike.
– I cannot be answerable for the honorable member’s impressions.
– I understand that the honorable member was the leader of the public servants ofWestern Australia when they resisted certain conditions which had been, I believe, wrongfully imposed on them. From what I know of that dispute, I believe he did the right thing in not submitting to the treatment that was being meted out to the public servants of the State, but since coming to this House, he has slipped.
– Not at all.
– I venture to say that a great many of his co-workers at that time, who, no doubt, contributed largely to his successful election to this Parliament, would be most disturbed at the sentiments he is now expressing. If the provisions of this bill had been the law when the honorable member led that strike in Western Australia, I can well imagine his finger-prints being taken and his photograph exposed to public gaze among the photographs of individuals in whose company he would not like to be found. If I understand this bill correctly, particularly the second part of it, it could have been enforced in the circumstances which arose when the honorable member was leading the public servants of Western Australia in an effort to secure what he, no doubt, thought were their rights. But since his return to this Parliament the honorable member has forgotten the ladder upon which he climbed. He is prepared tokick it away from beneath his feet, and with it the principles for which he fought.
– Probably the honorable member for Perth will explain the whole of the circumstances.
– It is evidently necessary to do so.
– If, when the honorable member was leader of the public servants of Western Australia in their strike for justice, he was actuated by his real political and other opinions, he must have changed a great deal in the meantime, or he must have spoken to-day with his tongue in ‘his cheek. The honorable member for Perth finds himself in a very peculiar position. He is in this House as the result of something which today he condemns lock, stock, and barrel. It is due to him to review the whole position, and see whether he ought not to make some explanation to his constituents who senthim here under other circumstances. If the Government and its supporters are really anxious to bring to book all those wild individuals who exist largely in their fertile imaginations, and whom they stigmatize as revolutionaries and alien wreckers - if they arc actuated by a desire to promote the well-being of the country, and not by political motives - they will accept the amendment, and divide the bill into two parts, thus giving the Opposition an opportunity to assist them in getting rid of these undesirables of whom they speak. Otherwise they will stand condemned as they have been condemned on two previous occasions, when they sought to do what is done in this bill. In the last Parliament the Government introduced a motion supporting preference to Australian dried fruits, but having in view the political aspect of things more than the well-being of the fruit-growers, it linked up this preference with some very objectionable provisions relating to defence, which were opposed tothe platform of the Labour party. Consequently honorable members of the Opposition could not vote for the motion as a whole. We said that if the Government would divide the motion, we would vote for that portion which urged preference for our dried fruit-growers, and record our objection to the portion containing the provisions relating to defence. However, the Government, thinking more of the political aspect of things than of giving assistance to fruit-growers, refused our request, and its supporters were so mean that, during the election, they condemned the Labour party because of its refusal to support them in their desire to secure preference for the dried fruits industry. Towards the end of the last session the Government did the same kind of thing. It brought down what it called an amending Immigration Bill; Honorable members of the Labour party would have been quite willing to assist in placing on the statutebook those parts of the measure that dealt with the exclusion from this country of undesirable aliens, but the Government included, as portion of the bill, provisions that had the result of taking from our citizens the right, in some circumstances, of trial by jury, and of providing the penalty of deportation for certain offences. Consequently, we on this side of the chamber had to vote against the whole measure. Since the election, the Government has had time to give some consideration to the judgment delivered by the High Court on the deportation proposals: and so we have this measure before us. I am glad that we have been able to educate honorable members opposite a little as to the public regard for the principle of trial by jury. Statements were frequently made during the election campaign that the Labour party was either unfavorable or indifferent to action being taken against people who have been described by members of the Government as alien wreckers, revolutionaries, and so on. I wish to place it on record that, so far as I am concerned, I would have supported the proposals in this bill for dealing with those people if I could have done so without appearing, at the same time, to support the other parts of the measure to which I strongly object. If the Government will adopt the course proposed in the amendment, and separate these two matters, it will find that the Labour party is as anxious as it is to rid Australia of undesirable persons whose conduct is against the best interests of our people. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), in introducing the bill, said that the Government had received a mandate from the people. We have heard so much about this mandate that I have no doubt that the Government will claim it as justification for every act that it may commit, from political pitch and toss to manslaughter.
– Why not make it murder, straight out?
– I have no doubt that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) will be quite prepared to support the Government in all its proposals, and will consider that the mandate justifies him in doing so. The Attorney-General, in introducing the bill, quoted the Prime Minister’s speech prior to the last election in support of his contention that the issue submitted to the people was the maintenance of law and order and the supremacy of constitutional government. He added that it was upon that issue that the Leader of the Opposition challenged the Prime Minister to go to the country. As a matter of fact, that was not the question upon which the Leader of the Opposition issued his challenge. It was upon the question of deportation without a proper trial. But, in any case, the Prime Ministerdid not acceptthe challenge. During the course of his speech at Dandenong the Prime Minister was asked, by interjection, “ Why did you not accept the challenge?”’ He replied, “ I have no intention whatever of accepting it.” The Government went to the country really on account of the threatened withdrawal from its ranks of the Country party.
– Surely that has been denied often enough.
– During the election campaign, several Labour candidates, including myself, gave that as the real reason for the Government going to the country when it did; but our statements received very little publicity. The fact cannot be denied, however, that honorable members of the Country party signed, sealed, and delivered an ultimatum to the Prime Minister. If the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) objects to the word “ ultimatum,”’ I am quite willing to use his own word, “request.” In support of my contention,, I refer to a speech delivered by the. honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) in his constituency. In answer to a question on this point,, the honorable member said, “If the statement has been made that an ultimatum was issued threatening the withdrawal of the Country party from the Government. I will not deny it.” I have some other evidence to support my contention. When this Parliament assembled, and during his speech on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said that the real reason why the Government went to the country so early was because of threats from the Country party. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) interjected, “ Nothing could be further from the truth.” The Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) said, “ The first time I knew of the ultimatum, was when I read a newspaper report about it.” The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) said, “It is quite plain that it was only a request.” The Prime Minister said, during the elections, “There is not a scintilla of truth in it.” The Treasurer, who is the leader of the Country party, said “ There is not a vestige of truth in it.” The impression that would be given by the statements of all these gentlemen was that such a thing had never been men tioned in any shape or form; but the honorable member for Riverina let the cat out of the bag. He said, “ It was not an ultimatum, it was only a request.” According to him, therefore, the question was a real live one; yet none of the gentlemen I have referred to ever heard a word about it. The honorable member for Riverina must have debated the matter in alittle caucus of his own. The facts go to show that many of the denials which were made on the hustings should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. I believe what the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) said. I will do the honorable member the credit of saying that he is one of those who are anxious to adhere to the principles on which they are elected, whether others agree with them or not. I believe the people of Victoria will be inclined to believe in every detail the words which fell from the honorable member’s lips; that this request came to the Government; that there was a threatened split in the ranks on the other side; and it was then decided to bring about a dissolution and go to the electors, and to go upon the plea that they wanted to restore law and order and constitutional government in this country. So much for the first statement made by the, Attorney-General as. to the issue on which honorable members opposite went to the electors. The fact is that they had to go to the electors. They were not masters of the situation at all, buthad to meet a position that was forced upon them. There is one passage in the speech of the Attorney-General which is very refreshing. I do not. think it has previously been referred to, but I intend to place it on record in Hansard, because I believe that it is calculated to open the eyes of a lot of gullible people who hung upon every word uttered by those who, duringthe election campaign, insisted that the Labour party was associated with communists and revolutionists. I propose to put the statement of the Attorney-General side by side with certain statements contained in two speeches made, one by the Prime Minister during the election campaign, and the other by the other Leader of the composite Government, the Treasurer. I propose to allow the Attorney-General to answer the statements made by both. During the campaign the Prime Minister went out of his way to deliberately slander the party on this side. These are some of the statements he made -
Australian democracy is in danger, but, whilst ten years ago the menace was from the aggression of a foreign foe, to-day the danger lies in a small body of men within our own borders. The external foes and internal foes have one aim in common, the overthrow of constitutional government and the disintegration of Australian democracy. Both would hand the people over to bondage. The issue is again thu same - Whether thu will of the people is to prevail or whether’ we are to be dominated by irresponsible, political and industrial extremists who care nothing for this country and are animated by malignant hatred of the British Empire. Australia is passing through dark hours, when the laws are being defied and lawlessness and sedition are openly preached. Labour has encouraged those who had flouted the law - those who were openly for communism. The crimes resulting must be laid at the door of political labour.
That waa a defamation of the Labour party and of everything for which it stands, and the Prime Minister knew it. I propose now to make his own AttorneyGeneral give him the lie. The other leader of the composite Government also made a statement which, if that were possible, was more exaggerated than that of the Prime Minister. He said -
The issue is between order and chaos; continuous employment and unemployment;, constant wages and no wages; rural prosperity and rural distress; industrial peace and industrial unrest; arbitration methods or job control; Australian law and revolution; democratic rule of the majority and the dictatorship oF a few; and between the composite Government standing firm for all that means progress, and political Labour betraying trade unionism into the hands of a few violent extremists arid agitators. The political Labour leaders seek to evade their complicity in the guilt of these men, but they cannot dissociate themselves, for in the last ten years they have allowed themselves to be used as the spokesmen and advocates of I.W.W. men, communist, the alien wrecker, and all who want to mix up the worker in quarrels that do not concern him.
Apart from an election campaign, and with the exception of the Treasurer, there is possibly not one honorable member on the other side who would not characterize those statements as a slander on the party represented on this side of the House. I said that I would allow the AttorneyGeneral in calmer, post-election moments to answer these charges. I submit the following statement of the AttorneyGeneral in introducing this bill as a complete answer to them. He said -
I have never said, nor do I say now, that the Labour party seeks to obtain its objects by violence. The platform of the Labour party makes it perfectly plain that that party aims at securing its objective by constitutional means. There cannot be the slightest objection to that …. The Labour party rightly says that it is a party of law and order. … 1 have said numbers of times, and I repeat it hero, that I do not either directly or indirectly suggest that, in the ordinary sense, the Labour party is a communist party or is allied with communists. I desire to make that perfectly plain.
I ask honorable members to contrast that statement with the wild electioneering stunts of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. It is a complete answer to those people who defamed the Labour party during the elections. I have only to say that if they read the words of the Attorney-General” it is noi too much to expect that they should be ashamed of their utterances during the election campaign. The Attorney-General’s statement should not only shame the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, but should open the eyes of those innocents outside who believed their statements and voted for them because of those ‘statements. Another interesting aspect of the matter may be referred to. The Prime Minister said that there were extremists out to overthrow constitutional government and the Empire. He said that from the hustings, and he said it here. If he did not know definitely of such people and where they were he should not have made such a statement. If he does know of their existence the people generally should ask him what he is doing in order to rid the country of such dangerous elements. The Government was in such little hurry to deal with these evildoers and wrongdoers that, after the election was over, they allowed about seven weeks to elapse before they called Parliament . together. The fact is, of course, that the Government did not want to deal with these extremists at all. They would not be here were it not for the extremists.
– The Government would not sell Jock Garden for quids.
– Several honorable members have suggested that, individuals like Jock Garden served the Government faithfully and well during the election campaign and not without adequate reward. If Garden was not paid for his services to the Nationalist party during the election, he was doing a nationalist organizer out of a job. What does the Government propose to do with Jock Garden and men of his type, against whom they rail? It cannot say that it had to wait until to-day to know the nature of the sentiments for which Garden stands. There was a speech made by the Prime Minister on the 26th October last, about a fortnight before the election, in the electorate of Corio. The right honorable gentleman referred to a speech made by Jock Garden on the Yarra Bank. I have said before, and it has been said by many others, that, apparently, Garden came over here purposely to make that particular speech to the detriment of the party on this side. He said, in effect, that if the Labour party were returned at the elections the strike would go on, and if the Nationalist party were returned the strike would stop. He said a number of other things, and this is what the Prime Minister had to say about other portions of that speech, so that it cannot be contended that he is not aware of the kind of utterances these people indulge in. Referring to Garden’s speech on the previous day, the Prime Minister is reported in the Melbourne daily newspapers to - have said in the Corio electorate -
The Government was having the speech examined. Mr. Garden in that speech had placed himself in a position where it would lie possible to deal wilh him. Garden talked about tho British Empire, and uttered such poisonous stuff that the Government had instructed the legal advisers of the Crown to look into it and advise what action can be taken. . Garden’s utterance was the most poisonous that had over been uttered about the British Empire. Words could not express his contempt for such a man.
Those are the words of the Prime Minister. I now ask him, what has he done? Has he received a report from the officers who were appointed to examine the speech ? He said that the utterance was the most poisonous that had ever escaped from the lips of any one in this country, and that words could noli express his contempt for such a man’. Yet Mr. Garden is still at large in this country, a- free agent to express those sentiments again. From that day to this, the Prime Minister has not raised a little finger to deal with that man. Mr. Garden would have been apprehended long ago but that he serves the purpose of this Government. One can draw no other conclusion from the leniency shown to a man who uttered the “ poisonous stuff” referred to by the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) had something to say about that portion of this bill relating to transport, and it reminded one of the wild statements made at the elections to try and associate the Labour party with the tying up of shipping. We can imagine the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) drawing, for the edification of his electors, pitiful and gloomy pictures of the sad plight of those who would not be able to ship their produce. There is, however, another side to that picture. The arch-offenders in preventing the shipment of the farmers’ produce are those who sold over 40 of the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers. If a crisis in the nation’s affairs were to arise to-morrow, the farmers would find that they had been robbed of their most reliable means of shipping their produce to the other side of the world. While the Government perpetrated the grave injustice of handing the primary producers over to the shipping combine, the honorable member for Forrest and his’ associates in the Country party sat meekly by. Although some honorable members opposite obtained hundreds of votes because they were able to make the people believe that they stood foursquare for providing facilities for snipping the farmers’ produce overseas, the first thing they did in Parliament after the. election was to sanction the selling of additional ships that belonged as much to the primary producers as to any other section of the community. The honorable member for Forrest also said that thousands of trade unionists voted for the Government, and that they were expecting legislation of this kind. I believe that the Government did get some of the votes of innocent trade unionists. I would not say that those votes ran into thousands, but in all walks of life there are “ innocents abroad.” One can hardly imagine that a large number of trade unionists were led astray by the prospect of the Prime Minister filling the role of the new-born leader of trade unionism. Those who were led astray, however, when they read this bill, will find themselves in danger* of being classed as criminals, and we can imagine them feeling now much as the unsophisticated visitors who have come to town from the country, and have handed their notes to a magsman to receive gold in exchange, may be expected to feel when they realize that they have- been imposed upon. While waiting for the fulfilment of what they are told will happen, they receive this bill, the second part of which specifically classes them, in certain circumstances, with criminals. Because the second part of the bill does that, honorable members on this side ask the Government to put its industrial legislation into another bill. If the Government was serious in the statements made to trade unionists at the last election, it would bring down its proposals at once for improving industrial legislation. If it is not the intention of the Government to link genuine trade unionists with criminals, members of the Opposition will assist to place the undesirables in a category of their own. The Government has no mandate to do the things provided for in the second part of the bill, and no one knows that better than honorable members opposite. We, on this side, would not object to a bill to deal with undesirables and alien wreckers - if there are such people - but no one can say that the Government has a mandate to. do the things contemplated in the second part of the bill. In truth, the Government has a majority because it was able to appeal to the passions of the people during a strike that was not an Australian but an oversea strike. At a time when the people were not able to see things in their true perspective, the Government made them believe that, in some mysterious way, the Labour party was responsible for the strike. The Labour party was not allowed to express its views to the electors. The only public man who did anything to endeavour to end the strike was the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). He met representatives of the ship-owners and the men at a round-table conference.
– During the election campaign I arranged for two ships to take eggs abroad, but the wealthy people prevented them from going.
– The people were not allowed to know those things; doors were closed against publicity of that kind. The Prime Minister did nothing to arrange a conference of the disputants; but, on the other hand, I believe he prayed day and night that the dispute might continue until election day. If there were a clause in the bill to provide for the deportation of persons who spoke against the strike during the election campaign, but prayed silently and reverently that it might continue until election day, the Prime Minister would be the first to be sent out of the Commonwealth.
– “ The prayer of the righteous man availeth much.”
– Judging by the Prime Minister’s actions, and particularly by his passive resistance, his pious hope was that the strike would continue until election day. The Government says that the object of the bill is to deal with extremists, but in operation it will create extremists.
– And will anger the moderates.
– It will anger many unionists whose desire is to obey the laws of this country. It fastens a grave libel on the unionists of this country. The Government proposes to spend millions of pounds to induce immigrantsto come to Australia, and to establish new industries. Those objectives will not be attained by panic legislation of this nature. Its effect will be to discourage the people who contemplate the establishment of new industries here. The bill will not accomplish what is claimed for it. Indeed, it will have the opposite effect. Honorable members on the other side, who speak of the desirability of further capital being invested in Australia, are supporting a bill which, more than anything since federation, will keep it out of this country.
.- I congratulate the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) on the able and concise speech that he made when explaining the bill. Most of the arguments in favour of this legislation have already been advanced ; I have risen only to draw attention to a few points which have escaped attention. Honorable members opposite appear to be desirous of minimizing the menace of communism. During the election campaign they attempted to ridicule those candidates who referred to communism as a menace, and who spoke of the connexion between the Labour party and communism. They have accused honorable members on this side of having deceived the people in those matters. Against that accusation I protest strongly. No attempt to deceive the people was made by honorable members on this side ; we stated our case plainly and truthfully. What is the connexion between the Labour party and communism? The objective of the Labour party is the socialization of the means of industry, production, distribution, and exchange. During the election campaign honorable members on this side mentioned that objective, and also the means by which the Labour party intended to achieve it, namely, the establishment of a supreme economic council elected by ali nationalized industries. If that is not communism in its Russian form, I should like to know what it is. Mr. Theodore, one of the ablest leaders of Labour in Australia, speaking at a conference in Brisbane, said that the objective of the Labour party Was communism pure and simple. Yet notwithstanding that he strongly advised the conference to drop that objective, it was retained by a large majority. That objective is still the objective of the Labour party. If further evidence of the connexion between the Labour party and communism be necessary, we have it in the action of a number of unions which, since the elec-tion, have attempted to expel communists from their ranks. Yet honorable members opposite say that there are no communists in the Labour movement!
– In the whole of Queensland about sixteen communists only were expelled from the Labour party.
– The honorable member said that the party contained no communists.
– The AttorneyGeneral said that those men had nothing to do with the Labour party.
- Mr. Garden, the secretary of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, went to a communist conference in Russia as the representative of Australia. Addressing that conference, he said that his council was governed by an executive of twelve members, eleven of whom were communists. He added that that council directed the policy of 120 unions. In the face of that declaration, honorable members opposite say that there is no connexion between the Labour party and communism.
– Mr. Garden did not go to that conference .as a delegate from the Labour party.
– I do not suggest tha* honorable members opposite are revolutionary communists, or that they are in sympathy with such men; but I repeat Mr. Theodore’s statement that the objective of the Labour party is the same as that of the communists. We all know what communism has done for -Russia.
– Has the honorable member been to Russia?
– Sufficient informa-tion is available in Australia to show what communism has done for Russia. Nearly 2,000,000 of her people have been murdered by the communists, and their possessions taken from them. Wc know, further, that many millions more have died of starvation, the direct result of the revolution. The communists, . who were determined to abolish capitalists from Russia, are now imploring them to come to their country’s assistance, in order to save millions more from dying. Notwithstanding these facts, there are men in this country who want to bring similar conditions upon Australia. Honorable members opposite have said that the menace1 of communism is merely a bogy, seeing that there are only about 1,000 communists in Australia. People who argue in that way cannot be well informed. It would be more correct to say that the communists in Australia number 100,000. In .the last Senate election Donald Grant, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and a communist, polled 28,000 votes. Those votes are no true indication of the number of communists in New South Wales, because a great many communists will not vote for communist candidates until they consider that the time is ripe for effect to be given to the communists’ objective. They believe that that objective should be achieved gradually, and that the Labour party is a stepping stone to that end. Donald Grant, when charged with having forsaken communism by joining the Labour party, assured his accusers that he was doing the most sensible thing in the circumstances. He meant that he would make the Labour party a stepping stone to communism. The Attorney-General, and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) mentioned some of the statements made by communists, including Mr. Garden. They did not, however, refer to Mr. Garden’s address on a recent May Day, when he said -
Let May Day be a day of demonstration of a proud class consciousness, a declaration of war on capitalistic society. Forward to the new battle ; forward to the world revolution !
That is a sample of the poisonous doctrines that are ‘ being disseminated. That is the kind of propaganda which is demoralizing our young people, and giving them a false outlook on life. The proposed new sections 30c, 30d, 30e, and 30j? will prevent such statements from being made and circulated. The result should be a better tone in the community. I hope that those proposed new sections will pass in their present form. It has been said also that this bill is an attack on trade unionism. It is nothing of the kind. But it is an attack on job control and direct action. No honorable member on this side of the House desires to interfere with legitimate trade unionism. Great numbers of trade unionists who realize that it will promote industrial peace and prevent the strikes which cause so much injury,’ not only to the workers, but to all sections of the community, will rejoice when this measure becomes law. Honorable members opposite desire that the workers, while enjoying the benefits of arbitration, should have the right to flout the awards of the Arbitration Court. They cannot have it both ways. We must have either arbitration or no arbitration. The strike that occurred some months ago when a number of British seamen refused duty is regarded by some honorable members as of no consequence. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) described it as a “little disturbance.” This industrial upheaval, which necessitated overseas shipping being held up for months, was responsible for a loss of £3,000,000, to say nothing of the distress suffered by the wives and families of the strikers. If this measure is passed, similar dislocation of our transport services will be prevented. I intend to support the bill because the Government should have power to deal with disturbances such as occurred during the strike of British seamen, and with revolutionaries who desire to bring about in Australia the unhappy conditions which prevail in Russia to-day.
.- I regret that I cannot agree with many of the statements of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen), who, among other things, said that he thought there were at least 100. 000 communists in Australia. Let me remind the honorable) member that my office in. Melbourne, which has been open for 37 years with some one in daily attendance, has not been visited by one communist. I .could not locate a communist of the kind to which he referred if I tried. Communism, as preached by Mr. Jock Garden, is a doctrine of which I do not approve. If communism as we know it today were the communism of Christ and His disciples, I would believe in it. The communists are not supported by honorable members on this side of the House, but bv some honorable members opposite. I agree with the opinion expressed by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who said that if these men had been paid to disorganize .the service of the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers, they could not have done their work more effectively. In answer to a question asked last week, information was given to show that the Bay steamers travel faster than those of the Orient Company and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. The vessels of the last-named company are not subsidized by Australia as mail steamers, as in employing coloured labour they are acting contrary to our White Australia policy. If the vessels of the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers are sold, the members of the Country party and the farmers who support them will have to transport their produce by vessels belonging to the shipping combine. The members of the combine do not mind spending a few millions in order to get all the trade into their own hands. In discussing this matter with my son, who is a farmer in Western Australia, he said that the wheatgrowers were being robbed by the big men who bought the wheat. I asked an old schoolmate of mine who has special business knowledge what would have happened if a wheat pool had not been formed, and he replied that John Darling and Son and other grain merchants would have purchased all the wheat they wanted to meet the local demand and the farmers would then have had to dispose of the balance in the best way they could, and in doing so might obtain only ls. per bushel for it. The sale of the vessels of the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers would be about as absurd as the action of past governments of New South Wales in spending millions of pounds to construct tram lines to the Circular Quay in Sydney, and then allowing a private ferry company to carry the traffic over the harbour to North Shore. All Australia’s produce should be carried by government-owned railways and shipped overseas, by vessels under the control of the Government. Delegates appointed by the Government to visit Great Britain should always travel by the Bay steamers. 1 have nothing against the Orient Company which, in sending vessels out to compete for the Australian trade, employed white crews. I do not suppose any honorable member will disagree with me when I say that the Adelaide Advertiser is not a Labour paper. It is a Liberal publication, and this is the opinion it expresses on -the measure now before the House -
The Attorney-General introduced the measure in a well.-reasoned speech, spoilt a little by the frivolous facetiousness which passes for wit in university debating clubs and other places where callow youth gathers, but which has no place in assemblies of men.
Speaking of Liberalism, the article continues -
Liberalism alone can make Australia great; liberalism which knows no distinction of class, creed, or calling..
The article criticizes very severely the careless drafting of the measure, and refers to the meaning of the word “ sabotage,” which is being used for the first time in a British statute. What is sabotage? The word is French, but can any honorable member define its meaning in such a way as to justify its insertion in this bill? The Advertiser also says that any one who advocates the socession of a State from the Commonwealth, as has been done in Western Australia and Tasmania, will come under the provisions of the bill. The article continues -
Similar carelessness is visible all through the bill, which readies, in some sections, notably 30 (ii), in its efforts to encompass all sorts of crimes against the Constitution, a vagueness which will, no doubt, horrify its framers when the High Court has finished interpreting it.
The article goes on -
A second question which troubles one in reading this part of Part 2 of the bill is that the measure, in its zeal to squelch revolution wherever it shows itself, says that societies are also to be suppressed which aim at the “ overthrow by force or violence of the established government . . . of any other civilized country, or of organized government.”
To that we do not object. Honorable members should recall that Byron went to the assistance of Greece, and that Garibaldi was made welcome in England. Both men interfered in the affairs of countries of which they were not nationals. Garibaldi, indeed, became such a hero in the eyes of the British people that he was asked to leave England, as it was thought that the English people were becoming too fond of him. I quote from the Mercury, published in Tasmania, which no one who has any regard for verity will say is a Labour paper. In a leading article the following appears: -
After the election had followed the deportation fiasco, the problem of how to fulfil his promise to the electors was still before Mr. Bruce, who found himself, however, in the difficult position of having received a “ mandate “ to do something which the High Court said lie could not do by the means previously adopted on the advice of his Attorney-General. The electors spoke with almost one voice against communism. They would have none of it. So we have this second attempt to deal with the problem. The bill, whatever its merits, bristles with difficulties.
During the recent elections only SOO communists voted, and every vote they recorded was against the Labour party. Honorable members opposite cannot say that the communists did not give their second preferences to Nationalist candidates. The communists opposed Labour candidates in every constituency for which a communist candidate was available. Who found the money for them? They did not get it from the workers.. I stated in this House before the elections and on the platform during the campaign that I had no time for Walsh, Johannsen or Garden, who served a purpose during the election in the way honorable members opposite desired. The members of the Deportation Board were paid the highest salary ever paid by a Commonwealth or State Government, excepting that paid to the Governor-General. The fee paid ‘ to the membei’3 of the board was 25 guineas a session, not a daytwo sessions could be held in 24 hours - but allowing for only one session a day, and eliminating Sundays, they could have drawn for 313 days, so that they were paid at the rate of £8,000 per annum. I make no reflection upon those three men, but they were appointed to bring in a certain verdict, and truly they did so. Had the judgment of the High Court been delivered five weeks before the elections, the Ministry would not have been returned to power. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) said that the Labour party is opposed to industrial arbitration. Having regard to the fact that the tramway employees spent over £20,000, made up of contributions’ of shillings and sixpences, in getting an award from the Court, and that some of the miners have had to wait for two years to have a plaint heard, is the dissatisfaction of the workers with the Arbitration Court to be wondered at ? A system which keeps men waiting two years to set redress of a wrong, and involves endless expense, is not just. The existing circumlocutory methods enable some lawyers to make large incomes, but I am certain that some of them would far sooner see justice done quickly even at. some sacrifice of their own income. The Hobart Mercury said -
It would be hard to say where a secession movement would stand under this section if the matter ever came to a serious point.
I do not think that Tasmanian representatives are sincere in their threats of secession. Many of us hold that Tasmania should be attached to Victoria. Certainly the people of that State would be fools if they attempted to remove themselves from the federation. Has not the island State, with a population of only 200,000 people, the same voting power in the Senate as has New South Wales, with over 2,000,000 people? And has not this Parliament, recognizing the peculiar circumstances of Tasmania, made a sympathetic gift to the island of £900,000? The Mercury has referred in harsh terms to this bill, and I have quoted it only because, being a nonLabour journal, it may carry more weight with honorable members opposite. Another cause of trouble in Australia are the Fascists. We have been told that there are no members of that society in this country. Readers of current history know that the present political position in Italy is extraordinary. Those who have met Mussolini say he is a man of phenomenal intellect, but an absolute dictator. He has suspended the publication of newspapers that criticized him and the Fascists, and has imprisoned men, who, though they differed from him, are as loyal to Italy as he. We do not want men of that type in Australia. We do not want the methods of the Fascists ; and any man who attempts to introduce them into our public life, be he government officer or a private citizen, should be punishable under this bill. The Prime Minister declared that he knows nothing of the Fascists. Possibly, as a private citizen, he does know of their existence; but there is a fiction that a man’s official mind may know nothing of something that is familiar to his unofficial mind - that things known to him in his private capacity are unknown to him as Minister or member of Parliament, and vice versa. Captain Hatcher occupies a semi-government position; and if he believes in Fascism do honorable members doubt that he will endeavour to assist other members of the organization when he is dealing with applications for employment ? The Truth newspaper, which has an inspiring name, says -
” TOO MUCH MUSSOLINI,” SAY HATCHER’S FASCISTS.
” Out with the Italian”is Latest Slogan of Local Blackshirts.
Truth’s Publicity Strikes Fear into Hatcher - Comic Opera Dictator’s Dilemma - Voted out of Chair - Interviewed by Commonwealth Officials.
Truth Attends Another Secret Meeting.
That journal would not dare to lie about Hatcher. If it did, clever legal minds would soon discover an opportunity to mulct it in damages for libel. ‘ Hatcher is a Government official, and if he is organizing Fascism in Australia, the fact should be known ; if the Government is supporting him, Ministers should be candid and let the House know where they stand. Undoubtedly, Mussolini has a great, though evil, brain ; but if British people are so barren of ideas that they look to Fascism for an inspiration, God help them, and give them sense. The conditions in which this bill was conceived are not new. In the days of ancient Rome great tribunes were sacrificed because of their interest in the people. Who can forget the Gracchus brothers, sons of Cornelia, one of the noblest of Roman mothers, who, when asked by a patrician friend to show her jewels, produced her two boys and said, “These are my jewels!” The Gracchi were animated by a desire to give justice to the working classes, and for a time they succeeded. But the powers of wealth and privilege - not backed by the press, as this Government was at the last election, and not helped by daily outpourings of calumny and untruths-conspired to bring about their downfall, and Livius Drusus, a great elocutionist, was bribed by the aristocrats to undermine the influence of Caius Gracchus by outbidding him in generosity to the commons. Finally, that great patriot had to take refuge in flight, and was foully murdered, as his elder brother had been before . him. The Prime Minister, educated as I wish every Australian could be educated, enjoying advantages of birth and position which I wish every Australian mother could give to her sons and. daughters., professes to speak on behalf of the trade unions. I assure honorable members that the average trade union secretary ranks high as a student of current history, and all matters pertaining to the welfare of the masses. I doubt if many honorable members equal those men as readers of social and political history, for most of us, I fear, are inclined to confine our reading to matter that agrees with our convictions. Honorable members opposite may pretend to offer gifts to the workers, but, like Drusus, the Soman, and the aristocrats in pre.revolution days in Franco, they are only betraying the masses in order to serve their own class. I advise honorable members to see that splendid moving picture- Scaramouche, which realistically portrays the aristocratic tyranny that obtained in France in. .the eighteenth century. At that time there was no room for the third estate, and any man who did not belong to the nobility could be shot down without redress. If any well-born man dared to speak as his conscience dictated on behalf of the down-trodden people, he was promptly challenged by an aristocrat and run through with a rapier. The only British survival of that old order is the House of Lords. If any honorable member would like to see a telling indictment of that bouse of fossils, he should read the almanac of the Financial Reform League of Great Britain, which is supported by all the great Liberals. These aristocrats nearly broke the heart of that great reformer,
Lord Shaftesbury. I have no great regard for titles, except as the reward of merit and honorable service. The ordinary twopenny-halfpenny tin-pot titles I despise. Do not honorable members recollect a great boomster who purchased a title by giving £30,000 to a university? But I never hear the name of Lord Shaftesbury mentioned without experiencing a thrill of admiration for him and his work as a reformer, particularly in connexion with mining labour. Children, in winter, went down into the mines before sunrise, and came up after sunset. Even women took their children with them into the bowels of the earth; and when an agitation was started to alter these conditions, the aristocrats stood in the path of reform. They are learning their lesson in England at the present time, but .they will have to learn more quickly if the Old Country is to escape from its economic and industrial troubles. The Prime Minister and ‘his supporters say that they desire to help the trade unionists. Justice, and not favours, is what, the trade unionists demand, and as a first instalment they require the reform of the arbitration laws. At the present time there is conflict between Federal and State jurisdiction, because in New South Wales a Labour Government has proclaimed a 44- hour week. In South Africa that is already the law of the land. On my visit to that country in 1925, I studied the labour question, and obtained much information and instruction. Thanks to the wise advice given by the late Alfred Deakin to a South African Commission that visited Australia, a law promulgated by the South African Parliament operates throughout the Union. From the 1st December. 1924, the minimum wage was fixed at 2s. 9d. an hour for a week of 44 hours. Overtime was regarded as undesirable, and it was recognized that a contented body of workers could best be secured by continuity of employment. Every skilled worker in the building trade must now be paid not less than 2s. 9d. an hour, and if the law is not observed the penalty is a fine of £500 or two- years’ imprisonment, or both. At the end of January, 1.925. large builders and contractors conferred with representatives of the- various skilled trades, and in many of the provinces the wage was raised to as high as 3s. 4d. an hour, so that throughout the South African Union a working week of 44 hours and wages of from 2s. 9d. to 3s. 4d. an hour were legalized for the first time, I think, in the world’s history. Overtime, except under most exceptional circumstances, is not countenanced ; and, in my opinion, the excellent working conditions will bring about an increased influx of white people into that country. Prior to the opening of the Suez Canal only one out of every four ships that called at Table Bay came to Australia, and yet Australia has been populated at a more rapid rate than South Africa by emigrants of British stock. The reason for the slow development of white settlement in South Africa was the fact that emigrants arriving at Capetown with no capital had no chance of success, because they had to compete in employment with blacks and half-castes.. When I was at the Cape I discovered that in a population of 120,000 white people there were only two bricklayers and not one white plasterer, because of the low wages for which coloured employees worked. Senator Whiteside, who worked many years ago on the tramways in Victoria, but who has risen to the position of Commissioner for Railways in South Africa, visited Australia some time ago, and, in the course of conversation, he informed me that under the present law if any man, white, coloured, or black, worked at one of the skilled callings in the building trade, he must be paid, at least, 2s. 9d. an hour. I regard South Africa as being in the van in industrial matters. Since Mr. Hertzog has been in power, 15,000 more white people have been employed than when General Smuts and his gang held office. In the brewing industry, I might mention, that a law is to be introduced providing that every employee must be white. In Johannesburg, the price of beer is now higher than in any other part of the world, although brewed by the cheapest labour; but employment will be provided in the industry for 10,000 more white persons than were formerly engaged. I now come to the serious feature of the bill. Strikes develop into revolution only when the employees are goaded into revolt. Most honorable members probably imagine that after the Boer war, when Chinese labour was introduced into South Africa, and when the Chinese killed many white persons, all parties were glad to get rid of the Asiatics. Many people think that the Indians were brought into South Africa to take the place of the Chinese. I was under the same impression before I visited that country and made inquiries there. I found, however, that the Indians were introduced 60 or 70 years ago by the same gang that brought the kanakas to Queensland. The sugarplanters introduced them under the guise of indentured labour. After their first term they could re-enlist for further periods; and at the present time Indians of the fourth, fifth, and even sixth generation are to be seen in South Africa. I am sorry to say that they are not so clean in their personal habits in South Africa as those in India. The Government is endeavouring to afford them an opportunity to return to their own country by providing passages and £10 a head. Some 18,000 Cape Dutch were employed in an endeavour to break down the forward movement among the unionists of British descent; but when the Dutch understood the principles for which unionism stood they became loyal adherents of the cause. Twice martial law was proclaimed during a 6trike, and men, women, and children were killed. Thirteen persons were deported, but the Government in South Africa did not wait to pass a law on the subject of deportation. Fifty per cent, of the Labour members and 25 per cent, of the Nationalists, who now grace seats in the South African Parliament, saw the inside of prison walls when General Smuts and his associates were in office. When I give my lectures on South Africa I throw on the screen a quotation that was published in one of the most conservative newspapers . in the Kimberley district. I refer to a statement by Dr. Colin Steyne, a doctor of laws, and a barrister with one of the largest practices in that country. Referring to the fact that innocent men had been hanged, he said, “ Under martial law, legalized murder has taken place. I do not accuse the judge of having done wrong, but I take the strongest possible exception to the way in which the evidence was presented to him, because, had it been submitted to him properly, he could not have sentenced innocent men to death, and would have followed the judge who first, tried them.” I do not think that the people of Australia, had they been consulted, would have agreed to this bill. Surely Parliament is able to make laws that will adequately punish wrong-doers. Whatever measures, are needed, this Government should be strong enough to frame them. I have no sympathy with Mr. Walsh, but I have great sympathy with his seven Australian children. . If the father were deported, would not the British. Government be justified in saying to the Commonwealth Ministry, “ This man has been living in Australia for 30 years. He is married, and has seven children. Cannot you pass laws to punish those living iu your midst who have done wrong? If not, you had better make room for stronger men.” A public meeting once took place near the site of the Melbourne Gaol to protest against a shipload of convicts being landed in Australia. The leaders said to the cap1 tain of the ship, “ If you land those men here, ‘ we will hang you and your officers.” Those convicts, I may say, were taken further on. Although Great Britain landed undesirables in Australia in the early days, are we now to return the compliment? No. Let us make laws to punish in Australia the wrong-doers in our midst. But we should give the people the right to say whether or not those laws should be passed. If the people had the right, by referendum, to say whether or not such a bill as this should be passed, !they would promptly reject it. No such measure is to bo found in the criminal code of Switzerland, because there the community has the controlling voice. I wish that the people of Australia enjoyed a similar privilege. The majority of those one meets in train or tram admit that they would not have voted as they did at the recent election had the judgment of the High Court been given before the election. Old-age pensioners have come to me saying. “ Doctor, we could not vote for you this time, because the present Government increased the pension.” Another old man stud, “We voted for you, doctor, but we could not vote for your senate candidates. We were afraid to do so.” It is pitiable that old people should have been deceived bv the lies which were circulated.
This bill will pass; but, as an old conservative paper said, “ Parties change and the wheels go round.” When’ the people come into their own again under the power given by this bill they may decide to deport some of the profiteers. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) and his colleagues of the Country party know that there is a great difference between the price paid by the consumer and that which goes to the producer. There are certainly men who ought to be deported. Among them I would name those who built coffin ships for the Commonwealth Government. I have yet to learn that Kidman and Mayoh have paid the £60,000 or £70,000 which an arbitrator decided should be paid by them to -the Commonwealth Government. If the people had the power to deport such men, they would do it. Honorable members opposite cry, “ Trust the people.” As a matter of fact, the only party that trusts the people is the Labour party. In America the great Country party has joined with Labour, and has the referendum, initiative, and recall in the forefront of its platform. There are some honorable members of our Country party who believe in the referendum, initiative, and recall, but they will not put it in their platform; they will not trust the people. However, let Government supporters’ go on their way crushing down all opposition. The amendment of the Leader of the Opposition is as follows : -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof : - “ this House is of opinion that the bill should be withdrawn with a view to re-drafting so as to eliminate the obnoxious clauses referring to industrial disputes, as such clauses, associated with the Crimes Act, are an unwarranted affront to tho great bodies of organized labour.-‘
It is a reasonable request that the offensive provisions of . the bill should not apply to trade unionists, and I cannot see why the Government does not accede to it. Gladstone’s Coercion Act, introduced in the British House of Commons, on the night when Cavendish and Burke, who had been murdered in Phoenix Park, Dublin, were buried, contained provisions whose severity one might in the circumstances forgive, but section 32 provided -
No agreement or combination which under the Trade Unions Act 1871 and 1876 or the
Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875, is legal shall be deemed to be an offence against tins act.
Thus the British Coercion Act especially exempted trade unions’, and the matter at issue in this. Chamber to-day could be settled simply enough by the insertion of a clause exempting trade unions from the offensive provisions of the bill. I think my leader would agree to that. It would certainly be a way out of the difficulty, and would relieve the minds of many honorable members opposite whoare not too pleased with the measure. However, I say to honorable members who are supporting the bill, “ Pass it, but always remember the turn of the wheel.” Labour will come into its own again, when,’ perhaps, the abuse and malignity and misrepresentation to which it has been so recently subjected will not be so powerful, or when, perhaps, some newspapers with old Liberal instincts will give it fair play. When that day does come, the present unholy combination of Nationalists’ and the Country party will come to an end.
.- Interest in this debate seems to have reached almost the vanishing point, and the question before the- House, a simple but very important one, is whether the principles embodied in this amending Crimes Bill are worthy of our endorsement. In addressing himself to this measure,, there is great temptation for an honorable member to expatiate on the many excursions that have been made by honorable members of the Opposition. But I want, so far as possible, to resist that temptation, and to confine my atten-tion strictly to the measure itself. We have heard once or twice what I have never previously heard in this chamber from honorable members of the Opposition - the suggestion that, in the discus-sion of industrial matters, especially in discussing the settlement of industrial disputes,, we ought to resort to . sweet reasonableness, and honorable members have deprecated the principle of repression that is so apparent throughout this bill. I invite honorable members opposite to discuss the. bill in that spirit of sweet- reasonableness which they so much desiderate. If, instead of constantly hurling at one. another’s heads charges of insincerity and stupidity, and the like,, we introduced the spirit of sweet reasonableness in discus sing this bill, I think we should make much more progress’. First of. all, let ais examine the objection that is being urged by honorable members to the inclusion in a Crimes Bill of offences connected with industry. Honorable members seem to regard the inclusion of industrial offences in a Crimes Bill as an affront to the trade unions of Australia. But let us examine the- matter quietly and in a common-sense way. What is a crime? Why should honorable members shy at the word? 1 have taken the trouble to consult Webster’s Dictionary, and I find that, in its simplest expression, a crime is “ an act which subjects the doer to legal punishment.’’’ Of course, there can be every shade of seriousness in a- crime; but I cannot understand why honorable members should boggle at the word itself. Webster also defines “crime “ as “a grave offence against social order.’’ I ask honorable members opposite to apply that very fair definition to the acta specified in the proposed new section 30j, to which they have raised so much objection. I think it will be agreed that each of the acts specified in that section is a grave offence against social order. Another thing that has struck me in this debate is the claim of the Opposition that the bill is a blow struck at trade unionism. I ask them to give honorable members on the Ministerial side credit for honesty and sincerity of purpose in a matter of this kind. I ask them to believe us when we say that we recognize the fine work that trade unionism has done for labour in the past, and that we have faith in its ability to do splendid work for the working classes in the future.
-all that labour has gained in the past has been in face of strong opposition from the honorable member’s party.
– I said, in speaking on this matter previously, that labour has had to win at the point of the sword practically every inch of the way, but that is no reason why we on this side of the chamber should be saddled with all the iniquities of . those who have withstood labour in the past, or be credited with placing in its path all the obstacles it has encountered. We should be judged individually by our actions. We, on this side of the House, believe, and I think it not too much to say, glory, in the strength of legitimate trade unionism. In my opinion a vast number of legitimate trade unionists in Australia will resent the suggestion made by honorable members opposite that this measure is an affront to them.
– It is, to any one of them who has the courage to lead his fellows.
– I cannot imagine a legitimate trade unionist objecting to it.
Mr.Colem an. - What does the honorable member mean by a legitimate trade unionist?
– I mean one who is not tainted by the poison of extremism. Honorable members know that I have taken a considerable interest in communis tic developments in Australia. Four years ago, in a lecture in this city, I pointed to what seemed to me, even then, the menace of communism. I was, at the time, as a voice crying in the wilderness, but I think I may be pardoned for taking some little credit to myself, because, at the last election, the people of Australia took the view that communism had become a real menace. I make bold to say also that the rank and file of trade unionists, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, regard communism as a menace to the movement.
– So do we in this House.
– I am very glad to hear the honorable member for South Sydney say that.
– We have excluded the communists from the Labour movement.
– I may say something about that presently. A legitimate trade unionist, in my opinion, is a man who is still untainted with communism and who regards communism as a menace to the great trade union movement. Let me place opposite to that statement this significant fact: that the communist regards trade unionism as the chief obstacle to the achievement of his objective. One of the main tenets of all communists is the removal of this obstacle. They are logical, for they say, in effect, “ As trade unionism is the chief obstacle to the achievement of our objective we must destroy it.” Their method for bringing about its destruction is to join the trade unions for the purpose, not of strengthening them, but of eventually destroying them. The set purpose of the nucleus of communists in every trade union in Australia is to create a left, or militant, wing to serve their own purposes. I have in my hand last week’s issue of the Workers’ Weekly.
– Does the honorable member buy it?
– I buy it regularly and read it carefully.
– Where is it published?
– In Sydney. It is edited by Mr. Jock Garden. The fact that honorable members opposite know nothing about it accounts for their ignorance of the extent of the communist propaganda. This issue of the newspaper sets out the attitude of the communists towards this bill. It advises the trade unionists of Australia to beware of the bill. It says that if it becomes law the destruction of the trade unionist movement is certain. It calls the bill the most diabolical measure introduced into any Parliament in the world. Could anything be more ludicrous than for the communists to write this when their avowed object is the destruction of trade unionism? It is the height of hypocrisy for communists to tell trade unionists to get into a solid line to fight this measure, when they desire nothing more than to rout the unions. The communists are saying, in effect, to the trade unionists, “Do not let the bill kill you; that is our job. Do not deprive us of it.”
– That is sheer bunkum .
– If the honorable member means that it is bunkum for the avowed enemies of trade unionists to advise them to resist the passage of this bill, I agree with him. I should like to know whether honorable members opposite care to deny that the avowed ob- ject of the communists is to destroy trade unionism. If they do not do so it is apparent that they agree with me that the attitude which the communists have adopted is ludicrous. I appreciate the silence of the Opposition. The communists are telling trade unionists that it is of no use for them to wait until the Labour party obtains a parliamentary majority, for long before that time comes the trade union movement will be injured beyond the hope of recovery.
– I am glad that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) agrees with me that it is the utterest nonsense for this newspaper to express these views. If the Opposition fully realized the object of the tactics adopted by the communists, they would completely alter their attitude towards such measures as this. The leading article in this paper asks trade unionists to “ show Bruce and company that the trade unions refuse to be bludgeoned out of existence by measures of this kind.” That also is nonsense.
– If that newspaper is a menace, why does not the Government suppress it ?
– That is another question that I shall be glad to debate with the honorable member on a more fitting occasion. It is amazing to me that the communists should be associated with the Labour party in opposing this bill. The communists and honorable members opposite claim that they aro speaking for the trade union movement; but they are not voicing the real opinions of legitimate trade unionists. I wish for a few minutes to refer to the endeavour to establish the Fascist movement in Australia. In passing let me say that it is the existence of communism, which is the revolutionary party in the State, that renders such movements as the Fascisti necessary. The Fascist movement in Italy was organized because of the revolutionary onset that was being made against constituted authority, and of the weakness of the existing government to combat it. It was instituted in pure self-defence. I wish to say quite definitely that I do not believe in force. But when force is brought into operation by one party the tendency is for the other party to counter it by force. That is exactly what happened in Italy. I am told, and I have no reason to doubt -it, that there is what is called a Fascist movement in Australia; but it is very different from the “Fascist movement in Italy. All movements must be judged by their ‘declared constitution. I have in my hand a letter dealing with this matter, but it is very different from the letter read by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), which was proved to be an absolute and unmitigated fake. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition would himself admit that the evidence is sufficient to prove it so, and that he woUld be the last man in the world to judge the Fascist movement by its terms.
My letter was written early in November last, in the following circumstances: - A lecture was delivered in the Socialist Hall, in Melbourne, by Mr. C. O’Neill, chairman of the Overseas Strike Committee, in which he said that the Fascist movement must be nipped in the bud. He added that his party had its spies, one of whom he had caused to make application for membership in the Fascist movement. In answer to his application for membership, Captain Hatcher, who is evidently the head of the movement here, wrote a letter. I am sorry that I cannot myself read the letter, but perhaps, sir, with your permission and that of the House, my friend, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), will be permitted to read it.
– I assume that the House grants that permission.
– I thank you, sir, and I thank the House.
– Do I understand the honorable member to admit that a Fascist movement exists in Australia?
– Evidently, as the honorable member will learn from the letter. I shall have a word to say about it later.
Mr. Mann thereupon read the following letter: ;
Yours of the 16th inst. to hand. Herewith an enrolment form, which, after completing, please return to me at the above address for approval. We are short of literature at the present time, and as we are trying to be selfsupporting in this Dominion, we are, with the assistance of supporters, printing our own. I enclose copies of what I have left for your perusal. I suppose the area commander has already explained our objects in forming the brotherhood. Fascisti is essentially lawabiding and constitutional. We have two immediate tasks - (1) to assist every patriotic organization and individual in awakening our fellow-countrymen to the danger to the whole of the British Empire; and (2). to plant groups of Fascisti in every suburb of the large cities, also in towns and districts throughout Australia, not only to assist in countering communist poison, but to encourage selfsacrifice and brotherhood, regardless of class, and in the event of attempted revolution, to define rallying-points where loyal citizens could find a definite proposal for assisting the authorities where the authorities are taken unawares or overpowered. I would be very glad to meet you at my office at I o’clock. P.S. - Perhaps you have friends who would like to come with you. We must show the flag ?nd loyalty where the red flag and disloyalty are seen at the present time.
– That is a statement of the objects and methods of the Fascist movement as it exists in Australia, and I ask whether any member of this House can take exception to one single thing in its constitution.
– Surely the honorable member does not defend it.
– It has been suggested that it is usurping the functions of the Government. It is doing nothing of the kind. Honorable members opposite evidently did not listen carefully to the letter. The object of the movement is that when the government is taken unawares, or is overpowered, there shall be a body of its loyal supporters to come to its assistance. I ask honorable members to remember that if a constable who is responsible for the King’s peace is engaged in the act of legally arresting without a warrant a person whom he has reason to suspect has committed a felony, is overpowered and finds it necessary, he can call on any private citizen to come to his aid and assist in the arrest of the offender. If the private citizen so called on, refuses, without lawful excuse, such aid, he is guilty of a substantive offence and may be prosecuted for an indictable misdemeanour. Surely that is fair in any properly organized community.
– That should be sufficient.
– The trade union movement is taking steps to rid itself of the poison that has got into its system, not only here but in the Old Country. Trade unionism to-day is doing its best to free itself from this revolutionary element. There cannot be the slightest doubt about that. Trade unionists find that it is a mighty hard job to drive the communists out of their ranks. They find it almost impossible. The Australian Labour party itself has come to the conclusion, in its wisdom, that it is well to exclude from membershipof the party men holding communistic views. The Labour party has taken similar action in the Old Country. At the last annual meeting of the British Labour party held in Liverpool, in September last, by a vote of 2,500,000 to 500,000, a resolution was passed excluding communists from membership of the British Labour party. Honorable members will notice that there was a fairly substantial minority against such action.
– Not necessarily a communist minority.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. There was a minority of 500,000 members of the party who believed it was not necessary to exclude these revolutionaries from the party. The spokesman of the minority, whose name I forget at the moment, in severely condemning the resolution,, said that they would get into the party by some means or other. That is their determination, and they are relentless in their methods. They are determined to get into the Labour party and into the trade union movement.For what purpose? Not to assist, but to destroy it. Their anxiety to white-ant the trade union movement is due to the fact that they know that in Australia and in Great Britain the trade union movement is the chief supporter of the political Labour party. They believe that if they destroy the trade union movement they will destroy the Labour party.
– In whose interests would that be done?
– In the interests of the communists. The communists regard the political Labour party with supreme contempt. They sneer at it for thinking that it will ever achieve its objective by constitutional means. They say that that cannot be done. They say, “ Our objective is the same as yours. You are reformers ; you think you can reform things, but you cannot do anything of the kind. The only way is to destroy, and we intend to get a grip, not only of the trade union movement, but of the Labour party, in order that we may achieve our objective by destruction.” They contend that before a proper social order can be reared, it is necessary to destroy the existing one. It can only be done by destruction, in their opinion. I should look for approval from honorable members opposite of any blow aimed at that extreme element in the community that is a menace; not only to us of the general public living under and believing in the present system, but also to the Labour party. I should have expected the earnest support of legitimate trade unionism throughout Australia to any attempt to stop this communistic tide, and to expel from the body politic the poison that lias got into it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– One other feature of this debate is worthy of remark. Members of the Opposition have suggested that this, is a purely repressive measure, .that it will do no good,’ and .that the Government,, instead of introducing measures for repressing and suppressing propaganda, should- set- to work to discover, and remove the root cause of industrial troubles. I think that we are all agreed that the most earnest endeavours ought to be made by every one who has the welfare of the community at heart to find out the causes of industrial troubles, and, having found them, to deal with them. But that is a very difficult task. The industrial trouble from which we are suffering, and which is manifest the world over, is not to be attributed to any single cause; it is the result of a complexity of causes. Surely, while we are engaged in investigating the causes, with a view to dealing with them, it is common sense to protect ourselves from the attacks of those who would overthrow and destroy the constructive work that has already been done by the community. I would remind honorable members of an incident in biblical history. In the time of Nehemiah, when the Jews wore rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and enemies were about them in all directions, they found it necessary to protect themselves, and every man engaged in that work had a trowel in one hand and a weapon of defence in the other. That is just typical of the attitude that we, who are engaged in constructive work, must in these days assume. We are doing our level best to construct a form of society that will be true to fundamental principles, and while we are doing that we find it necessary to protect ourselves from attack by those who would overthrow all the constructive work we are seeking to do. Surely, for co-operation in a matter of that kind, we ought to be able to look with confidence to those who are the direct representatives of Labour in this House. I now wish to come . to a consideration of the bill itself. I shall confine my remarks to the proposed new section 30j, to which members of the Opposition have almost entirely directed their attention. It seems to me that in discussing this question members of the Opposition have assumed - at least, their arguments seemed to indicate that they were proceeding on the assumption - that this bill deals with all industrial disputes.
That is not so. They appear to have lost sight of the fact that i>t is directed at at certain definite industrial situation- - the situation; in which we find’ ourselves when it. appears- to the Government, which is responsible for the peace and order of the community for the time being, that a state of serious- industrial disturbance exists. Before the provisions of a measure of this kind could be brought into operation, every effort that reason and common sense could suggest- would be made in order to effect a settlement.
– How many industrial disputes has this/ Government- settled ?
– That is not the question. I am not dealing with the endeavours of this Government to settle disputes, and I am not here to pass judgment on it in regard to’ any particular dispute. My object is to discuss the specific terms of this specific bill,’ and I am seeking to point out that it is only after every effort has been made to avert a situation that has arisen that this measure will come into operation. Let us assume, for a moment, that, in spite of all endeavours to settle disputes that have arisen, a state of serious industrial disturbance, which prejudicially affects and threatens the well-being of the community, exists. The Government is faced with the duty of meeting that situation. How is it to be done? I have endeavoured to prove, as other honorable members have proved, that there exists in our community a party that has as its avowed objective the prevention of the settlement of disputes and the overthrow of the ‘ whole industrial and social system. What could the Government do if a situation such as I have indicated arose and a proclamation had been made to that effect? Will any honorable member of the Opposition be bold enough to say that, in those circumstances, any one fomenting a strike or promoting a lockout would not be guilty of a grave social offence?
– That would depend on the circumstances.
– Of course it would., and that is the point I am making. The Government says that in those circumstances it needs to have power to deal with, men, or bodies of men, who are determined that industrial peace shall not be restored. Honorable members will recognize that the commission of any one of the acts .aimed at by this provision would aggravate tike situation that had been declared :by proclamation to exist. I therefore cannot understand honorable members saying that any one guilty of such acts is not guilty of a grave offence against the social order - an offence .which, according to Webster, constitutes a crime. I should like to call the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to an anomaly in paragraph 3 of the proposed new . section 30j.. It states what a strike or a lockout shall include. It provides that employers who, in combination, refuse to give’ work, if such refusal is unreasonable, shall be guilty of an offence. Thus, if employers in combination arc charged with refusing men employment, it must be proved that their refusal was unreasonable. But the paragraph goes on to say that if an individual employer., with a view to compelling his employees to accept certain terms, suspends work, he shall be guilty of an offence. There is no necessity in that case to prove that the suspension was unreasonable. In either case, if an offence is charged against either employers in combination, or .employers individually, proof ought to be required that the refusal to give work, or the suspension of work, was unreasonable. Honorable members will further notice that the paragraph, in saying what a strike shall include, provides that where there is a cessation of work by employees in combination for the purpose of compelling employers to accept certain terms, there is no .necessity to prove that the cessation is unreasonable; but if employees in combination, with a view to forcing employers to accept certain terms, refuse to work, that refusal must be proved to be unreasonable. I cannot understand what principle is involved in making it necessary to prove unreasonableness in one case but not iu the other. Where an offence is charged either as a lock-out or a strike, the cessation or refusal ought to be proved to be unreasonable. With that safeguard I cannot understand the attitude of those members of the Opposition who say that the bill is a blow aimed at trade unionism.
– Would the. honorable member consider it unreasonable if an employer sought to reduce wages and con.7 ditions of employment without .appealing to the court?
– The honorable member seems to f orget the’ circumstances under which this bill would be put into operation.
– I remember the history of the Arbitration Court, and it goes to show that it is impossible to prove a lockout.
– The operation of this bill is restricted to overseas and interstate trade. It has to do only with transport, and then only when a serious industrial disturbance exists. When we reach that acute stage, and only then, is it a grave offence .against the social order for individuals or combinations of individuals to do anything toaggravate the situation.
– If industrial trouble occurred among the waterside workers, the shearers, or the miners, it must interfere with transport, trade, and commerce, and it would be an offence such as the honorable member has mentioned.
– That is not so.
– This law is merely for the protection of the general community in regard to a matter that affects its very life - overseas and interstate trade.
– That is too general.
– It is quite specific. When a section of the community represented by a union or a number of unions adopts a certain course to promote its own selfish ends, and, as a result, serious industrial unrest is created, the whole community suffers. At that stage the Government should step in and declare that the interest of that section must be subordinated to the interest and welfare of the general community. And I cannot imagine any injustice resulting if, before any individual or a number of individuals can be convicted of an offence, a jury must be satisfied that the action complained of was, from the point of view of the general interest, unreasonable. The term “job control” is, I admit, a somewhat vague expression, although by general use it has acquired a very definite and understandable meaning, because, when an agreement was arrived at between the Commonwealth Shipping Lino and the Seamen’s -Union, one of the terms of the settlement was the abandonment of job control. There was no definition of the term, and the Marine Transport Group, in guaranteeing the fulfilment of the terms of the agreement, gave .an undertaking that if the seamen attempted to exercise job control, the unions constituting the group would bring pressure to bear to prevent such a development. During the whole of the discussion that preceded the settlement no question was raised as to the meaning of job control. Nevertheless, I think the bill would not be injured if the words “ and job control” .were omitted from the definition of a strike. Practically every strike is job control, because it is an attempt on the part of the employees to unduly control the business or industry in which they are engaged. For the purpose of illustrating the manner in which the disruptive revolutionary influence was at work, I call the attention of honorable members to the attitude of Australian trade unions and the Labour party during the British seamen’s strike. When the strike was declared people were naturally anxious to know what stand would be taken by the trade unions towards what was undoubtedly a defiance of constituted trade union authority. The Marine Stewards Union, of which Mr. Moate was president, went to considerable trouble to ascertain whether the strike had the official sanction of the British Seamen’s Union. Having learned that the strike was unofficial, it took a strong and definite stand. Its officers said, “ This strike being unofficial and involving a defiance of trade union authority, we cannot recognize it.” Had the other unions adopted the same strong, definite, and understandable attitude the strike would have been over in a very short time. But they did not; they patted the seamen on the back, and assisted them to defy the authority of their own union. That extraordinary attitude could be accounted for only by the influence in those unions of a revolutionary element that was determined to foment trouble wherever possible, and prevent a settlement of the strike.
– I thought the attitude of the Australian trade unionists was dictated by a desire to help the half-starved wives and children of the British seamen.
– It was not. The Marine Stewards Union took the pro per stand. No matter how much the stewards might sympathize with the seamen in their sufferings, they realized that there was a constitutional means of redressing grievances, and the authority of the Seamen’s Union must be upheld. The unsatisfactory part played by the other unions was accounted for by the presence in their midst of the communists constituting the left wing, who preferred the strike in preference to constitutional methods. We were next curious to know the attitude of the Australian Labour party to ‘ the strike. It was iu no way satisfactory. The party did not denounce the strike, and that is explained by its dependence upon the support of the trade unions. As constitutional means had not the whole-hearted support of the trade unions, they could not have the wholehearted support of the Labour party. I draw attention to another important fact. At one stage of the strike a definite and deliberate attempt was made by the communists to take the control of the strike out of the hands of the strike committee. The now famous circular issued in October by Mr. Shelley, chairman of the Melbourne communist group, convened a meeting in the Temperance Hall, Melbourne, of the left wing of the trade union movement for the purpose of speeding up the strike, and at one blow destroying both the clutching shipowners and the traitorous trade unions leaders.
– The honorable member is drawing upon his imagination.
– I am quoting accurately Mr. Shelley’s circular. I have not got it here, but honorable members will do me the justice of admitting that when I make a statement I can generally support it with authority. As was to be expected, the circular created a hubbub in trade unions circles.
– I did not see it.
– There are many things that the honorable member does not see; but that is no reason why we should doubt their existence. The Melbourne Trades Hall executive was immediately summoned to consider the circular, and in the course of the discussion of it Mr. Paynter, the president - a long letter from whom, in denunciation of this bill, lock, stock, and barrel, was quoted by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton)-declared that the document was part of the tactics of the com- munists to disrupt .the trade union movement and the Labour party. Mr. Gibson, of the Engine-drivers and Firemen’s Union, said that the circular was the greatest stab in the back ever suffered by the Labour party. Those were the opinions of representative trade union leaders of the attempt of the communists to take the control of the strike out of their hands, and they seem to me conclusive evidence of the influence that communism is exercising in the trade union movement. Mr. Mathers, president of the Waterside Workers in Albany, and later a delegate to the meeting of the federal executive of the union in Sydney, said in September or October last that the British seamen’s strike, in its genesis, was promoted by the communists with a view to precipitate a general strike for revolutionary purposes. I admit that the legitimate trade unionist abhors communism. I believe that the Labour party abhors communism, and is doing its best to exorcise the monster, but when men who are. absolutely unscrupulous have invaded a movement their expulsion is difficult. When the red leader, at the annual meeting of the British Labour party, in September last, declared that the communists would get into the party some way or another, it showed that they would not stop at anything. We have the authority of Labour members in Australia who say that the communists are utterly unscrupulous in stooping to tactics of the most degrading character in order to accomplish their ends. These are the men of whom honorable members opposite are trying to rid themselves.
– We have already rid ourselves of them.
– Members of the Labour party have not done anything of the kind. If the interjection of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) is correct, and the Labour party and the trade unionists of Australia have rid themselves of this unruly element, they have nothing to fear from this bill. They will be completely outside its scope, and it will leave the Government free to deal with those who are doing their level best to destroy the Labour movement.
– That is a peculiar line of reasoning.
– I am endeavouring to put the position as it appears from my point of view. I have not yet heard a member of the Opposition take any act forbidden by this section of the- bill quietly and say, “ Here is something forbidden by the bill. I say deliberately that an individual or group of individuals guilty of that act should not be regarded as guilty of a grave offence against the social order.” The members of the Opposition have dealt in the vaguest possible way with the whole question, and have referred to the measure as an affront to trade unionism. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) even went so far as to hint at this stage that communism was a mere figment of the diseased imagination of honorable members occupying seats on this side of the chamber. How any one can make such a suggestion in view of the overwhelming evidence from representative men from his own side passes my comprehension. A careful examination -of the bill by the members of the Opposition, calmly exercising their own good judgment, will lead them to an entirely different conclusion. I cannot understand why they say that the measure is a menace to trade unionism. It will be a weapon in the hands of unionists themselves to help to rid the community of the scum represented by communists.
– How does the honorable member regard market riggers, land monopolists, and rack renters?
– There are many other offences. There is no question about that; but let us deal with one thing at a time. If the honorable member brings forward a bill to deal with the offences which he has mentioned, and it is in my judgment a reasonable one, I shall support it. I am, however, dealing with a specific matter. As my time is, limited, I wish to say, in conclusion, that I support the bill, for three reasons. First, because it gives effect to the will of the majority of the Australian people as expressed at the last election ; secondly, because it is absolutely sound in principle; and thirdly, because I believe that if it is wisely administered it will confer benefits upon the industrial and political life of Australia.
.- Before the dinner adjournment, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said that in discussing this measure he would endeavour to show a spirit of sweet reasonableness, but any one who has heard his futile efforts to connect the
Labour party with communism and the actions of certain individuals in Australia will agree that the honorable member has been absolutely unfair, as he generally is. It would appear that towards the conclusion of the debate he was merely put up to make an electioneering speech. Whatever was in the honorable member’s mind as to reasonableness was not apparent as he proceeded, and the . alleged sweet reasonableness which he intended to observe became imbittered as the words fell from his lips. The honorable member for Fawkner said that this bill is a good thing for Australian trade unionism. To hear the honorable member speak, any one would think that no trade union leader in Australia could be dealt with under proposed new section 30j.
– I did not say any such thing.
– The honorable member tried to lead the House to believe that the measure was framed to deal with communists in Australia, and not with legitimate trade unionists - whatever he meant by that - and said that he welcomed the bill. Will the honorable member say that the Australian Workers Union is not a legitimate trade union?
– I was speaking of trade unionists. The Australian Workers Union is a legitimate organization, but there are other than legitimate unionists in it.
– Under the cloak of dealing with communists he was striking a blow at trade unionists generally.
– I was not.
– Very few, if any, trade union leaders in Australia are communists. We know from the records of honorable members opposite, and the associations behind them, that they will adopt any subterfuge to strike a blow at the working classes of Australia. They are bound by the interests that finance them.
– In speaking of communism. I was quoting from the Australian Worker.
– Every Labour member will say the game as the Worker has said in regard to communism; but the honorable member for Fawkner was endeavouring to connect the Labour party with the communists. His statement was in keeping with the unfair attitude he invariably adopts. Clause 18 of the bill refers to those who forge notes, and other clauses relate to. those who advocate or encourage the overthrow of constitutional government in Australia by force, or violence, or revolution.
– Do not the communists do that?
– The honorable member knows more about them than I do. As stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and others on this side, we do not intend to offer any opposition to proposed new sections 29a, 30a, and 30c dealing with criminal offences; but we say it is a deliberate insult to legitimate trade unionism to deal with industrial disputes in a crimes bill as is proposed in clause 17 (30j). The honorable member and othersopposite have endeavoured to show that they are the friends of the workers, and that they believe in trade unionism. When they are addressing the electors they say that they believe in unionism, which they admit has done a good deal for the workers. But where are they found in every industrial fight waged by the unionists of Australia for better conditions? They are found on the side of those opposing the workers who are legitimately asking for a fair deal.
– We would not have won the elections if it had not been for the support we received from the common - sense section of the community.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I ask honorable members to allow the honorable member for Capricornia to proceed without interruption.
– A number of bogies were introduced. If the Mr. Mann of four or five years ago could hear the honorable member for Perth speakingtoday, he would be ashamed, because in those days he led what I believe was a successful strike in Western Australia. In the eyes of Sir James Mitchell, then Liberal Premier of Western Australia, the honorable member for Perth appeared a revolutionary and a dangerous man. He made a great reputation for himself by leading the public servants of Western Australia in a strike. When I was in that State, I made a few inquiries, and was informed by public servants that the honorable member for Perth had put up a good fight for them ; that the State
Government marked kim down for dismissal, and decided that the position he occupied was superfluous. The honorable member’s services were no longer required. He was victimized, and public servants naturally thought that he would contest an election as a Labour candidate.
– They “ pulled the leg “ of the honorable member.
– The honorable member knows that many of the public servants in Western Australia are disgusted with the attitude he has adopted in supporting a bill that provides that men who have sacrificed a great deal in agitating for better conditions for those engaged in industry shall be liable to imprisonment for one year, an(i , if not born in Australia, may, at the will of the Minister, be banished from the country for life. What would have happened to the honorable member for Perth if this bill had been in operation when he led the public servants of Western Australia to strike?
– He would have been regarded as a revolutionary.
– Yes. His action was considered, outrageous by the State Government, and they got rid of him. The honorable member for Fawkner represents a constituency which is comprised largely of working class people. He tells them that he is the custodian of the interests of the workers of Victoria, but, if honorable members allow their minds to go back to the time when the honorable member was chairman of a wages board-
– Shame !
– Honorable members opposite do not like it.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the bill before the House.
– I intend to do so. In 3S97 a request for better conditions was made by certain women workers who were being disgracefully overworked, and the honorable member for Fawkner was then chairman of the board which fixed the wages of the women workers- who were being sweated in Victorian factories. The honorable member had an opportunity to give the women workers the 16s. a week for which their representatives asked. I am not quoting anything in a way which will misrepresent the honorable member, because these are his own words. In explanation of what occurred the honorable member for Fawkner, -on the 14th August, 1925, said-
– Has that explanation anything to do with the bill?
– Yea, it has just as much to do with the bill as Mr. Jock Garden’s opinion of communism, which the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) quoted at length. I want to point out to the workers the hypocrisy of these new-found friends. The honorable member for Fawkner said- 1 told the board that I could not be a party to raising the minimum wage - not the living wage - from 7s. 6d. to 16s. per week at one bound, but that if the employers’ representatives would agree to a minimum of 14s. per week I would give my casting vote in favour of that wage.
He had the chance of giving these women workers 16s. a week, but he arranged with the employers’ representatives that they should receive only 14s. a week. If he leaned towards any side, it was towards the side of the employers. In every political or industrial fight in Victoria since the honorable member for Fawkner has been in public life, he has stood against the- workers and against their every legitimate demand. There arc times when the representatives of the unions, such as the Australian Workers Union and various mining unions, may as a last resort bring about a strike. Is it fair that because men like Senator Barnes, the president of the Australian Workers Union, or Mr. Grayndler, M.L.C., take part in a strike which is as legitimate as the. one led by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), they should be liable for imprisonment for twelve months or to deportation? Is it right that they should be in danger of banishment from their wives and children? Why should these men be sacrificed? Is it because the friends of the Government, want them, to be cravens,, easily intimidated, and willing to be driven like slaves? It is because they are prepared to sacrifice everything - even their personal freedom - in- the fight for better conditions, for those engaged in industry. The Government has introduced a bill which it is hoped will intimidate them and browbeat them inco submission to any conditions which axe offered to them. These men will not be intimidated. The bill will engender only bitterness and hatred. The Labour party does not stand for industrial disputes or strikes. By .every means in its power it strives to bring about the settlement of industrial trouble by amicable means, such as round-table conferences and conciliation. If, however, it so happens that a settlement cannot be effected by those means, and the union leaders find it necessary, as a last resort, to bring about a strike, their imprisonment or banishment will not bring about a settlement of the trouble. We have heard a great deal this evening from the honorable member for Fawkner about Mr. Jock Garden, and what he has said. We heard much to the same effect from the Attorney-General. One would think from their remarks that Jock Garden spoke on behalf of the workers of Australia. Nothing could be further from the truth. One has only to look at his unsuccessful attempt to enter the New South Wales Parliament, when he and other communist candidates between them polled 800 votes only in a population of 2,000,000. Those voters were probably influenced by Jock Garden’s oratory. It does not prove that they were communists.
– He said that he spoke for 120 trade unions.
– The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) swallows what Jock Garden says; yet he calls other people dupes for taking notice of him.
– By his speech on the Yarra Bank, Jock Garden rendered the Nationalists a good service.
– There is reason for grave suspicion regarding the association of Jock Garden with the Nationalist party. Other men who have professed communistic tendencies have admitted to me that they have received pay from the Nationalists to say that they were actively in the political Labour party.
– Will the honorable member say that outside ?
– The honorable member knows that it is true. The AttorneyGeneral quoted from the report of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales for the year ended 31st December, 1924. That report, which stated that 64 unions were represented on the council, was prepared by Mr. Garden. From it the Attorney-General read -
The’ shadow of communism is over the Labour movement.. All efforts to banish communism and communists are bound to fail. The good old times of playing at politics are gone. Revolution has stepped upon the stage.
The honorable gentleman quoted that to indicate that communism was a real menace in Australia. It is interesting to note that the same statement was made in the Workers’ Monthly for December, 1924, by Mr. Harry Pollitt, the organizer of the international communists in Great Britain.
– I read from the actual report which I held in my hand.
– I did not say otherwise. The Attorney-General wished to tickle the ears of his hearers when he read the statement. Mr. Jock Garden was evidently guilty of plagiarizing Mr. Pollitt’s matter. This is what Mr. Pollitt wrote -
The shadow of communism is over the British Labour movement. All efforts to banish communism and communists are bound to fail. The good old times of playing at politics are gone. Revolution has stepped upon the stage.
Except that the word “British” had been omitted, the statements of Mr. Pollitt and of Mr. Jock Garden arc identical. The honorable member for Riverina must be a mere fledgling and more innocent than I take him to be, if he is sincere in his belief that everything Mr. Garden says is correct.
– Honorable members opposite recite these things at women’s meetings.
– Yes. In their endeavour to work their hearers into a frenzy, and into a belief that a real menace exists, they tell the women present at those meetings what Mr. Jock Garden said. They urge their hearers to return a Nationalist Government in order to rid the country of the communists. It is another case of, “Here comes the bogy man.” There has been a Nationalist Government in power since 1916; yet Jock Garden goes on writing and speaking. The Government does not intend to interfere with him. Were it to do so, it would lose the assistance of its political friends, men who are doing good Nationalist organizers out of a lucrative job at election time. The hon- orable member for Fawkner complained bitterly of what was being written by Mr. Jock Garden. He quoted the Workers’ Weekly to show that Mr. Jock Garden was associated Avith the labour party. If the Nationalists were sincere in their professed belief that these writings are a menace to the country, and tend to bring about a revolution, would the Government allow that newspaper to be registered for transmission through the post?
– This bill is designed to stop that sort of thing.
– The Government already has power to refuse the registration of that newspaper. Under the War Precautions Repeal Act of 1920, the Government has ample power to prevent the distribution of what it calls the pernicious propaganda aimed at the overthrow of constitutional government, and incitement to revolution.
– The alacrity with which honorable members opposite quote the Workers Weekly shows that they do not wish to suppress it.
– It is strange that Jock Garden’s addresses on communism are broadcast from Sydney every week. We must remember that this is the man who is said by the Nationalists to be a menace to Australia, and whose actions have rendered necessary the introduction of this bill. If this were indeed a measure to deal with note forgers, criminals, and men who by force aim at the overthrow of constitutional government, honorable members on this side would be found supporting it. Our opposition is on behalf of the legitimate trade unionists of Australia.
– If honorable members opposite did not want the votes of the communists, they would not be fighting for them.
– We are not fighting for them, but for men like the officials of the Australian Workers Union. Has the honorable member forgotten that Jock Garden opposed a Labour candidate at the last elections ii: New South Wales, or that he came to Melbourne during the recent election campaign, and spoke on the Yarra bank, advising his hearers that if they put the Nationalists in, there would be no more industrial trouble ; but that if the Labour party, were returned the shipping strike would continue? A resident of Central Queensland, who is said to be a communist, and whose nomination the Labour party refused, said, about a week before the election -
We ought to throw the meat into the harbour, and sink all the boats if necessary.
That statement was telegraphed throughout Australia as the opinion of a union leader, whereas it was not. It appeared in almost every newspaper. It was given prominence, but the reports of the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition were put in obscure places.
– My speeches were not reported at all.
– Before the recent election campaign the communist paper in Brisbane had a small circulation. But after the commencement of the campaign the front page of every important tory newspaper in Australia contained the communistic platform. That- publicity was paid for by the Nationalist Federation. Yet honorable members opposite say that these writings are a menace, and that to deal with them this bill is necessary. It is well that the veil of hypocrisy should be torn from the faces of those men who try to discredit the Labour party on the ground that it is allied with would-be wreckers of the British Empire, and with men who desire to overthrow constitutional government. The clauses of this bill dealing with wreckers of constitutional government, and those who advocate force and violence, will not be opposed by honorable members on this side. The Labour party does not stand for note forgers, or for persons who would overthrow constitutional government, or disrupt the Empire. We believe that those who advocate these things should be effectively dealt with. But we do intend to oppose strenuously the proposed new section 30j, dealing with industrial disturbances, and providing that any person who takes part in or contributes or incites to, urges, aids, or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lockout or strike, shall be guilty of an offence, and liable on conviction to imprisonment or to deportation. That clause we intend to oppose because it is aimed at the legitimate trade unionists of Australia, particularly the leaders of the industrial union movement. It is aimed at men like Senator Barnes, and
Messrs. Grayndler and McNeil, whose policy is the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration, but who, nevertheless, might, in certain circumstances, be associated with strikes. I do not stand for legitimate trade union leaders being brought within the scope of this bill. This measure is more repressive and coercive than that passed in Queensland in 1893 when many union leaders’ were sent to jail because they resorted to a strike in order to obtain improved conditions for the workers. Many, like William Hamilton, who afterwards became a member of the Legislative Assembly, and later President of the Legislative Council, were imprisoned for three years because they took a leading part in that strike. In those days every tory member of the Queensland Parliament claimed that he stood for the right kind of trade unionism. The ideal trade unionist, according to the tory conception of the industrial movement, was the workman who agreed to everything that the employer wanted and never asked for a rise in wages, but was prepared to accept a reduction under the pretext that the business or industry was not paying its way. That is the sort of trade unionism that honorable members opposite prate about supporting, but in every fight for improved conditions for the working classes they take sides against the unions. They now say that they admit that trade unions have done much to benefit the workers, and they profess to believe in legitimate unionism. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) the other evening claimed that he was a supporter .of industrial unionism, and admitted that ‘ its effect had been beneficial. Probably the honorable member personally holds that view, but he is the representative of a coterie of gentlemen in Brisbane who do not favour active trade unionism, but are opposed to any leaders of the workers who seek to improve industrial conditions. To prove what I say, I shall quote from a report of what took place at a meeting of the Employers Federation, held in the Union Bank Chambers, Queen-street, Brisbane, on the 24th January, 1922. The remarks at that meeting are much more relevant to this debate than the statements of Lenin and Trotsky quoted by the Attorney-General, because they are the words of opponents of trade unionism, whose statements often precipitate big industrial upheavals. This is what General (now Senator) Thompson then said -
There is another aspect of the strike matter, and that is this. Have we any machinery able to provide for armed forces? Is there any machinery to-day by which you can put your hand on some reliable force to put against the forces of-
General THOMPSON.- If you have a few regulars, it is wonderful what they can resist. I have seen 500 men in the shearers’ strike held up by 76 mounted infantry.
Of course, he meant that armed force should be used in opposition to the demands of the workers. In dealing with some of the points raised by General Thompson, Mr. R. Bowen said -
With regard to the question of an organized force, I say there is none, and I do not know that we would have any chance of arranging any just now.
That indicates the kind of force that Senator Thompson had in mind, although on the platform outside he claimed to be a better friend of legitimate trade unionism than any of the Labour representatives, and said that he would not stand for any. unfair tactics directed against the unions.
– Yet he would stand for shooting them down. -
– Yes, if they dared to refuse to Work under conditions that they considered unsuitable’ for them. The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin - a Nationalist newspaper - commented on the speech by General Thompson in these words-1
General Thompson evidently had in mind the formation of an irregular force - not the ordinary force of the Crown which is at the disposal of His Majesty’s Government to maintain the authority of Government. They had in mind the formation of an irregular force which could be used to their own advantage. He wanted men of the type of the “ Pinkerton Thugs,” who are a feature of industrial strife in America to-day.
Mr. Bowen, at the Employers’ Conference, added, “I do not know whether we would have any chance of arranging any such force just now.’’ To what force was he referring? To the Fascisti, probably - some secret force to use against the workers. We were told to-day by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) that the Fas- cist-i was a constitutional movement, that he believed in it, and that it was necessary in the went of the Government being overthrown.
– Anything is regarded by the honorable member as necessary if it supports his point of view.
– Yea, and if it is opposed to the working classes. No doubt, when Mr. Bowen said that there was little chance of arranging such a force at the present time, he had in mind the fact that Queensland was controlled by a Labour government that would probably deal with him if he made proposals along those lines. After General Thompson had made that statement the Nationalist party in Central Queensland passed a vote of confidence in him, and his candidature for the Senate was endorsed. Probably, like Senator Sir Henry Barwell, who advocated black labour, he will soon be knighted for having the courage ti his convictions. Honorable members opposite pose as friends of Labour, but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. I cannot find any clauses in the bill dealing with friends of the present Ministry, who may try to exert an unfair influence because of the financial assistance given by them to the Nationalist party during the recent campaign.
– How much money were they supplied with?
– I should like to know. And where did all the money come from? A Nationalist told me on one occasion that it made him sick and tired of his party when he found that a member had no freedom, but was forced to dance to the tune set by those who supplied the thousands of pounds subscribed to cover the party’s election expenses. Yet the party opposite talks of coercive methods being adopted by the Labour party. Mr. 0. W. Campbell, president of the Employers Federation in Queensland, stated at the Employers’ Conference in Brisbane -
On many and many a night we have gone up to the House when the Liberal Government was in power and secured alterations in the legislation going through, which have all been for your benefit. (Addressing employers;) They were in touch with us all the time the tramway strike was on.
It was proposed at that meeting to establish a secret insurance fund which, it was said, would be used in the interests of the Employers Federation in any way thought desirable. Itf was proposed to raise this fund by making a percentage levy on the amount of wages paid by employers, and- it was also laid down that they were going to coerce small employers who refused to come within the scope of the federation. Talk about unionists being coerced! Mr. Bowen said - ‘
Now, having got the money, what is it to be used for? … It can be used, if it is found necessary, in the employers’ interests in Parliament or in the municipality.
Then he went on to refer to the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. Certain opponents of Labour claim that they believe in arbitration as in trade unionism. Of course, they are not all as candid as the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), for instance, who has openly declared that he would abolish the Arbitration Court. He would like a revival of the old principle of freedom of contract. Other honorable members hold similar views, but they prefer not to express them openly, because they fear the loss of the votes of certain workers in their electorates. Mr. Bowen further stated at the conference -
Now we put through a Queensland Arbitration Act in 1916, which to-day is thrashing us right and left because it was not thoroughly altered during the time when it went through the House, and because there was not a man in the House to closely watch it. . . . We want to be in a position to have money at our back, and to keep a man to watch our interests, and to pay for it.
Of course, the employers desired to have a paid agent in Parliament, to fight the Arbitration Act. Yet honorable members opposite would have us believe that they favour arbitration. Would any of the reforms for which Labour has been responsible have been obtained had it not been for the self-sacrificing efforts of the union leaders throughout Australia, who, not for high salaries or social position, but because they believed that the demands of the workers were fair and reasonable, sacrificed time, money, and, in many instances, health, in the interests of the workers? As tho honorable member for Fawkner had to admit to-day, all the success gained by Labour in Australia has been won at tho point of the bayonet.
– And that will continue to be the position.
– Yes. The Government now seeks to browbeat, imprison, and deport those men who have the courage to support what they consider to be the just demands of the working class. But the people will not tolerate such action. They gave no mandate to the Government for such legislation as this. The bogy of communism will not enable the party opposite to rob the workers of the right to have paid officials to look after their interests - a right that i3 conceded to the Employers Federation and to the representatives of all the wealthy corporations in’ Australia. I propose to show the inconsistency of the Nationalists, who by spurious and unfair propaganda misrepresented Labour prior to and during the election, and hoodwinked the people into voting for a continuance in power of the Nationalist Government. The Melbourne Age of 6th November last remarked -
But one gesture from Mr. Charlton was necessary to cause the British seamen’s strike to cease. . . . The political Labour leaders would, however, take no steps to stop it.
Nothing could be further from the truth than that statement, which was made on the 4th November, a week before the elections. Every honorable member and every section of the press knows that the Leader of the Opposition arranged two conferences between the representatives of the British seamen and the shipowners. It was he, also, who was mainly responsible for the settlement of the dispute between the Australian Seamen’s Union and the interstate shipping companies, when the Government took Admiral Clarkson to task and asked him why he, as chairman of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board, agreed to the terms offered, and thus introduced the thin end of the wedge in the direction of a settlement. Subsequently in the British seamen’s strike the Leader of the Opposition met the Industrial Disputes Committee in Melbourne, representatives of the men in Sydney, and representatives of the overseas ship-owners. In fact, he did everything possible for him to do to bring about a settlement of the dispute. But the representatives of the overseas ship owners were not anxious to have the dispute settled, and the Government was praying that no settlement would be brought about until after the election.
– The Prime Minister did not lift a hand to try to bring about a settlement.
– When industry wis being interfered with, when all those losses to which honorable members have referred were being sustained, did the leading citizen of Australia arrange a round-table conference between the men and the ship-owners? No; he did not move his little finger, because he did not want any settlement of the dispute until after he had won the election for the Nationalists. On the 28th October, 1925, just prior to the elections, the Age said -
Should the election bring into power a party that under the terrorism of Australia’s enemies will play the country false, the damage to the workers’ well-being may not be repaired until after prolonged and bitter experience. . . Political Labour supported and overawed by foreign communism is not an Australian party. It threatens the workers with a hurricane of the turmoil and’ hardship now being endured under the Labour Government of Queensland.
This statement is made by the Age despite the fact that the workers in Queensland have the highest basic wage, work the_ shortest hours, and enjoy the cheapest living in Australia. There is greater prosperity evident there than in any other State. The article continues -
No matter what the good qualities of the individual members may be, the party is a political machine that is opposed to Australia’s workers, both in sentiment and practice.
After the election the Age changed its tune, and became a little fairer to us. In an article published on the 12th inst., it said, in reference to the debate on the measure now before us -
It would contract the debate agreeably if members of the Opposition would take it for granted that the general integrity of their party is postulated. The Leader of the Opposition is esteemed, for instance, as a most reputable person. . . He should not, therefore, declare hotly . . . that he is not the aider and abettor of any species of lawbreaker. His and his party’s virtue is intact, by common consent.
– That statement proves the unscrupulous tactics adopted by the Age prior to the election.
– Yes. Prior to the election it said that we, if returned to power, would be under the terrorism of Australia’s enemies in Moscow, and that we would be pulled at the heels of the communists, who, according to the AttorneyGeneral a few months ago, are a negligible quantity in Australia. The AttorneyGeneral, in moving the second reading of the bill, said -
I have never said, nor do I say now, that the Labour party seeks to attain its objects by violence. The platform of. the Labour party makes it perfectly plain that that party aims at securing its objects by constitutional methods. There cannot be the slightest objection to that.
Continuing, he said -
I have said numbers of times, and I repeat it now, that I do not, either directly or indirectly, suggest that in the ordinary sense the Labour party is a Communistic .party or is allied with communism.
Yet on the hustings honorable members of his party said: “A vote for the Labour party is a vote for the disruption of the Empire and for the overthrow of constitutional government in Australia.”
– I said on the hustings exactly what I said previously in the House.
– I believe that the AttorneyGeneral has been fairer than most honorable members on his side. In fact, he was the exception to the general rule observed by honorable members on his side - that- any means was justified towards gaining their end. I remind them, however, that it is better to suffer an honorable defeat than to win by dishonorable tactics, as some honorable members opposite have done. The Age on the 29th June, 1925, just after the Immigration Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister, said -
The carefully-drawn Immigration Bill now before the House of Representatives is a notable feature in Australian policy. . . . The second part of the bill, conferring carefullyguarded powers for deporting malignant aliens and immigrants, is a natural supplement to the first. Since the war, Russia has scattered throughout the world a number of her own revolutionaries, as well as a proportion of unscrupulous adventurers. The offending immigrant or foreigner - no Australianborn subject can be affected -
It does not say a word about the Britisher, lt tries to make the people believe that these are all beastly foreigners, and preferably men from Russia. The article continued - must be summoned before a board and given opportunity to .show reasons why he should not be sent out of the country. No man can dispute the honest Australian intentions of the bill without branding himself as a false speaker and. accusing himself of cowardice. He is either for the communist destroyers or against them; either for Australia or for the dictatorship of the foreign international.
An article like this shows the tactics resorted to by journals like the A ye. When members of the Labour party oppose a bill because it aims a blow at industrial union leaders generally, they are told that they are standing for the Third Internationale and for a dictatorship from Moscow. But on the Srd February, 1926, the Age again changed its tune. This was after the election. It said in discussing this bill -
Ministers should also realize that in the minds of many of those who would willingly bo their friends there is considerable doubt as to the wisdom of much that is proposed. Even if legality were guaranteed, serious objection would be taken to certain provisions of the measure on the ground of their being injudicious and unjust. The bill is much too freely interlarded with references to persons who shall be deported. Under the proposed act, any person who takes part in a strike - that is any person who chooses to abstain from work - in connexion with the transport services, or with any department under the Commonwealth, will be liable to imprisonment for a year. In prison he might be expected to expiate his sin. But apparently not. If the offender is not Australian born, the Minister on his own initiative and at his own discretion may mark him out for deportation. And “forthwith he shall be deported accordingly.” Similar offences will attach to other abritrarily created offences. . . . Whatever are we coming to that we cannot maintain law and order among people of our own blood in our own country? The right to deport an AustralianBriton should not rest with any single individual.
In June, it had said that no mau could dispute the honest Australian intentions of the amending Immigration Bill without branding himself a supporter of a dictatorship from Moscow.
– And that . bill did not even provide for trial by jury.
– No; it provided for a sort of star chamber trial, whereas this bill is much more in accordance with the highest traditions of British justice, inasmuch as it - provides for trial before a judge and jury. The article continues -
It is a right that Parliament should not allow to exist at all. The setting up of snob. an insulting and degrading classification between Australian and Briton would be a source of perpetual irritation.
Any honorable member of the Labour - party .who sought to discriminate between Australians and men from.1 the hub of the British Empire, to the disadvantage of the latter, would be branded by our opponents as a disloyalist, and a traitor to the Empire, yet honorable members opposite can do so with impunity. The article continues -
In the sight of such laws as are now proposed, the native-born and the British-born should stand equal . . . the proposal to deport British people should be dropped’. . . . lt is clear that before the Crimes Bill reaches the statute-book it will have to be extensively and radically amended. . . . The Ministry should be careful to avoid the folly of trying to combat Soviet insurgence by methods that savour of Czaristic autocracy.
Could any language be stronger? Yet the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) almost shed tears of indignation because honorable members on this side had said something similar to this. I have no doubt the honorable member, will say that the Age is right; but it makes one think that his words to-night were part of a political stunt, and that his part was to. deceive the people outside, endeavouring to make them believe that the Labour party stood for lawlessness.
– The honorable member produced no evidence in support of his assertions.
– No. He spoke in generalities as to the way in which the alleged communists were corrupting Australia. In other statements the Age turned a complete somersault. On the Srd November, before the elections; it said -
The people are being asked whether law and order or the principles of Bolshevism have their favour. . ‘ . . This is the main issue.
If they want to banish to their native Russia the wire-whiskers of Bolshevism, they bave their opportunity.
And. of course, to impress that on the public, our friends opposite paid the very best cartoonists to depict this awful bolshevik with long, wire whiskers seeking to devour some child, and they put the question, “ Do you stand for this, or for the Nationalist party?” Those were the tactics they adopted; and .because they secured a chance majority they claim that they have a mandate to jail and deport legitimate trade union leaders. After the elections <the Age, in its issue of the 11th February, 1926, said-
The power the Government aspires to assume is drastic and unpredecented. Under the proclamation in question, the Government may, in what it decides -is a state of serious industrial disturbance, make a proclamation to that effect. While the proclamation is in operation, any person taking part in a lock-out or strike in relation to transport and Commonwealth public services will be guilty of an offence, for which he may be imprisoned. . . Such a measure of power no Australian Government should get. This Government must find some less dangerous way out.
Australian citizens nave lingering memories of the arrogance and autocratic spirit that blossomed strongly in some politicians secure under the regis of the War Precautions Act. . . . The Crimes Bill increases the number of offences. … To stamp certain acts crimes when “there is no spontaneous sense of crime is merely ‘to increase the number of potential criminals.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) endeavoured to make us think this evening that he was indignant because we were, in his opinion, insulting the trade unionists of Australia by suggesting that they would consider this bill an affront to them ; but will he dare to disagree with the Age newspaper, which states what Labour members now say?
– The Age wrote sound common sense concerning this bill.
– That is so. The article proceeded as follows:-
If the Government persists in keeping such a provision intact, it will display a- perverse and unpardonable blindness to the elemental facts of industrial life. Lock-outs, and strikes are capable of widely varying classification. . . The time has not yet- arrived when the self-respecting employer or employee is- prepared to admit that by taking part in a lockout or strike he is guilty of a social and moral offence so reprehensible that the_ State is warranted in branding him a criminal.
In view of that statement some honorable members opposite ‘will admit, perhaps, that our attitude is not unreasonable. But I point out again that the Age has turned a. complete somersault since the election. I am- reminded that Pope, the poet, was so disgusted with the repetition of false statements during an 18th century election campaign that he immortalized an offender in this memorable couplet: -
Destroy his fib,, or sophistry - in vain;The creature’s at his dirty work again;
The Government -is endeavouring to besmirch the reputation of the Labour party because it fears that ultimately - at the end of three years, I confidently believes - we will again occupy the Treasury bench, and will rout the Nationalists for a decade. As to the alleged connexion of the Labour party with communism, I think there can be no disagreement among any reasonable, fair-minded citizens. The Labour party has definitely and effectively excluded communists from its political ranks. If definite proof be required of its attitude at this moment, I refer honorable members to the decision of the Queensland Labour Convention at Southport last week. It decided by 76 votes to fourteen that every candidate for membership of the Australian Labour party in Queeusland must sign a pledge that he is not a believer in communistic doctrines or a member of any communist organization ; and that he will support the policy of the Australian Labour party and no other. The Nationalist party has no stringent rule of that description. Mr. Jock Garden, or anybody else with similar views, could accept lucrative employment from that body, and join its ranks. At the last Federal Labour conference, and at successive Queensland Labour conferences, the following motions were carried : -
In order that honorable members opposite may be under no misapprehension as to the position in Queensland, I refer them to the following statement made to the Southport conference by Mr. W. H. Demaine, the president of the Queensland Labour executive, in regard to the communist pledge : -
There are those amongst us who want to unduly hasten things. -They are cataclysmic thinkers, able but fanatical, and there are others- only too many of them - who were mouthers of words, phrases, and shibboleths. These rally to them the- dissatisfied, the disappointed, and the disgruntled in our ranks, and our capitalist opponents are only too ready to snatch at the disaffection caused, and with their powerful weapon, the press, only too often influence the unthinking and stampede them. The Australian Labour party, cannot continue to suffer this disturbing and disrupting element, nor is it prepared to accept the idea of communist permeation or white-anting. Evolution and revolution cannot march side by aide. He that is not with the Labour movement fully and solidly is against, and he must get out of it. That is how, to my mind, the matter stands. And it is what has impelled the Q.C.E. to take up the attitude it has taken in the matter of the anti-communist pledge. It is for this convention to decide between it and those who are aiming at disruption. That is the big issue, and on the decision made so will the future of the movement be.
Following that it was decided, with only fourteen dissentients, to adopt the anticommunist pledge. The fourteen voted against the motion, not because they were communists, but for the reason that they thought it to be unnecessary on the ground that the number of communists in Queensland is negligible. I have said sufficient to show clearly where I stand on this matter. That portion of the bill that deals with those who advocate the overthrow of constitutional government” by force and those who bring themselves into conflict with the law in connexion with note forging, and the associated .matters, I believe in, and I, with my party, will support those clauses; but the other por-tion, calculated to strike a blow at trade unionism, I liken to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I shall oppose it to the utmost. The effort of the Government to scare the country into believing that the communist octopus is about to devour the people is ridiculous. The provisions of the bill which deal with industrial matters I consider to be a blow aimed directly at trade unionism. The Government would be wise to adopt the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). Honorable members opposite should be reasonable and fair. I can quite understand that they find it difficult to do other than obey the dictates of those who supplied the money for their election campaign; nevertheless, they should remember that they owe. a duty to the great body of the electors. They are realizing how hard it is to be fair to the workers of Australia and at the same time serve their masters. . The time is undoubtedly coming when notice will have to be taken of the constructive proposals made on many occasions by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) for giving the workers some measure of control in industry. That is the way to bring industrial harmony. The employer and employee can, in that way, work in greater harmony. If employees are given a measure of responsibility, and treated with that consideration which is their due, industrial disputes will be almost eliminated, and peace and contentment will reign throughout Australia. This objective will not be achieved by coercive and repressive measures of this description, which can only cause rancour, bitterness, and hatred.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
N oes . . . . . . 18
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Contract for Steel Sleepers - Sale of Australian Meat in London.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring a certain matter under the notice of the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill). The honorable gentleman may not be in a position to give me an answer to-night, but I ask him to supply an answer either to-morrow or on Friday. The Government is at the present time inviting tenders for the supply of steel sleepers for a portion of the north-south railway, the construction of which is likely to be commenced within a very few months.
Mr. Hill. From the Katherine River to Daly Waters.
– I understand that it is made a condition of the contract that the sleepers shall be supplied in three shipments. I am informed by an Australian firm wishing to tender that the condition requiring the supply in three shipments is a distinct advantage to a foreign contractor, or importer of steel sleepers from abroad. I feel sure that the Minister desires that every consideration should be shown to Australian manufacturers of steel sleepers. The firm desiring me to make these representations suggests that the Minister might so alter the conditions of contract as to permit of the supply of the sleepers in monthly instalments, and to provide for monthly progress payments. I understand that there is only one firm at present in Australia in a position to tender under the terms of the contract as proposed. I believe that there are other firms in Australia worthy of encouragement and assistance who would bo in a position to tender if the Government altered the terms of the contract in such a way as would facilitate better financial ‘arrangements being made than are possible under the conditions that have been decided upon. I ask the Minister to reconsider the terms of the contract, so that Australian manufacturers may not be placed at a disadvantage and manufacturers abroad given an advantage in the supply . of sleepers required for Commonwealth railways.
– I wish to say a few words in connexion with a quotation from what is, for me, a very unusual source of information. It is from one of the most Tory papers in Australia. I refer to the Hobart Mercury. It refers to what is known as the Australian meat position on the London market. After discussing various matters relating to the sale of meat in London, the article goes on to say -
But that there are other steps to bo taken with a prospect of great advantage is pretty well illustrated by such a disclosure as thatmade in yesterday’s sales of the prices at which Australian meat is -being sold in London.
That beef, after being sent across the world, should bc sold in London at 5id. a lb. wholesale, and retailed at ls. 4d., and mutton 7d. per lb. wholesale, retailed at ls. 10d., is a positive scandal. It indicates that wholesale buying by producing governments and purchase by the British Government for distribution at a fair margin is one of the business steps likely tq be taken.
Last year, when the MaeDonald Government was in office in Great Britain, and we were discussing the exportation of other products from Australia, I quoted a remark by Mr. Baldwin, the present Prime Minister of Great Britain, who was then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. ‘ A discussion had been initiated by Mr. Johnson, the member for a Scottish constituency, in the course of which Mr. Baldwin asked, “ What is to prevent the British Government from buying overseas products and distributing them to consumers in Britain at a reasonable price?” Mr. Philip Snowden, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, said, “ I can assure the right honorable gentleman that his suggestion will receive the most earnest consideration of the Government.” In spite of that statement, nothing, as far as I know, has been done; but now a very conservative journal in this country, which cannot be regarded as prejudiced on this question, has expressed itself in terms almost identical with those I have just quoted. I understand that the Food Council of Great Britain is considering the marketing of products, particularly of meat, from Australia. I should ‘ like to know whether the Prime Minister is in touch with that council, and is prepared to make a suggestion to the Prime Minister of Great Britain that something should be done by the Australian Government on this side, and the British Government on the other side, with the possible collaboration of other Dominion Governments, so that the producers may receive a better price for their products, while the consumers purchase them at a cheaper rate? Between the producer and the consumer some one is making enormous profits. Mr. Bell, of Queensland, had something to say on this subject recently, and Mr. Angliss, in Victoria, has told us that some one is making large profits out of Australian meat in Great Britain,
[10.3].- I shall have inquiries made into the matter referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) with a view to seeing whether his wishes - can be complied with. .1 shall let him know the result as early as possible.
– The quotation made by the honorable member fur Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) reminded me very forcibly of some of the speeches I made in Great Britain. I am afraid the honorable member does not read all my speeches’ as closely as I could wish, otherwise he would recognize the similarity between them aud the newspaper extract he has read. The figures I used were not quite the same as those referred to by him. His figures were 5$’d. and ls. 4d. The figures I used were based upon the price received in Australia by the producer for cattle on the hoof, the cost of transportation over 12,000 miles, and handling charges at both ends. The price ruling was about 3£d., but the same meat, after going round the corner, was retailed to the consumer at about 9d. That was one of the strongest points I made at the Economic Conference to demonstrate that there was something hoplessly wrong with the distribution system in Great Britain. J indicated five specific schemes which, I believe, are practicable. I said that they demanded the most serious consideration, for it was necessary to lessen the disparity between the price received by the producer and that paid by the consumer. As the result of my representations the Imperial Economic Committee was appointed. There was some delay in the appointment of that committee, but it has now issued a general and a meat report. The subject has been very fully investigated by that committee. A commission, appointed under the presidency of Lord Linlithgow, has also investigated the question of the distribution of foodstuffs, including that phase of the subject mentioned by the honorable member. The distribution system in Great Britain, including the comparatively small amounts received by the producers, not only in the dominions, but also in Great Britain, for their products, is being investigated as fully as possible. Such schemes as the honorable member has suggested - bulk purchase by the Government, tor instance - have also been investigated, and- 1 doubt whether any more steps can be taken at the present moment than are already being taken to find a better system and ensure that a fair proportion of the price paid by the consumer shall go to the producer. I can assure the honorable member that every phase of the subject is under investigation, not only by the British Government, but also by the Imperial Economic Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 February 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260217_reps_10_112/>.