10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Liquor Prohibition Ordinance - Opening of Parliament
– I have read in this morning’s newspapers that the House Committee has resolved that there shall be a bar inconnexion with the refreshment rooms at Parliament House, Canberra. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories whether the bar is to be established regardless of whether the remainder of the Federal Capital area is wet or dry.
– By ordinance the Federal Capital Territory has been declared a dry area. The future policy in this regard has not received the consideration of the Government, but I should say that a resolution of the House Committee cannot abrogate an ordinance. Until the existing ordinance is withdrawn or amended no exception can be made in favour of Parliament House.
– In view of the reported decision of the House Committee that intoxicating liquors will be available at Parliament House, will the Prime Minister afford the House an opportunity before the transfer to Canberra to discuss this question in relation to Parliament House and the Federal Capital Territory generally?
– I suggest that honorable members defer their questions regarding the decision of the House Committee until it is officially reported.
– Irrespective of what has been or what may be done by the House Committee, I am asking the Prime Minister to afford the House an opportunity to discuss the matter.
– Any decision to which the House Committee may have come has not been officially notified to this House, and, in any case, would not be binding upon Parliament. This matter is of the very greatest importance, and a full opportunity will be afforded the House to express its views thereon when the Parliament meets at Canberra.
– Has the Government yet received any answer to its invitation to a member of the Royal family to perform the official opening of Parliament at Canberra, on the 9th of May ?
– The honorable member’s question commenced with a statement. I do not know what authority he has for it. I have never said that such an invitation had been issued, and the only statement I can make on the subject now is that all members of the Parliament and the people of Australia would welcome a visit from one of the sons of His Majesty the King, in connexion with the official opening of the Parliament at Canberra.
– I understand that the Government proposes to ask the House to meet on extra days for the purpose of expediting business. Does the Government intend to press forward with such an important measure as that relating to per capita payments before the new senators elected last year can take their Heats and have an opportunity to express their views upon the Government’s proposals ?
– Underlying the honorable member’s question is a suggestion that the Government may try to press some measures through Parliament under circumstances which will be advantageous to it. The Government has no intention of doing anything of the sort. Business will be submitted to the House in the order of its importance and urgency, and, if any reason is advanced why a particular proposal should be deferred, the Government will be quite prepared to consider the question of a reasonable postponement of it.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral intend to cancel the regulation which forbids country newspapers to publish news received by wireless? Will the Minister state the reason why the country press is prevented from using this modern utility?
– All newspapers are copyrighted for 24 hours, and no journal has a right to publish within that period news belonging to another journal.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
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 Defence, upon notice -
What action has been taken regarding the erection of a memorial, on a conspicuous site near Jerusalem, to the memory of all those who fell in the Palestine campaign, towards which, in response to Field Marshal Lord Allenby’s appeal, Australian troops contributed?
– An appeal by Lord Allenby for subscriptions for the erection of a memorial on a conspicuous site near Jerusalem to the memory of those who fell in the Palestine campaign, produced about £13,000, to which all members of the Australian Expeditionary Force operating in Palestine contributed. Lord Allenby called for competitive designs for the memorial, which, however, proved too costly, and subsequent modifications did not avail to reduce the estimate within the limits of the funds subscribed. Information has now been received that Lord Allenby approached the Imperial Graves Commission, and asked to be allowed to devote his fund to a memorial chapel in the Jerusalem war cemetery, making it a condition that the chapel should contain a suitable inscription to those who fell in the Palestine campaign. The offer was accepted, and the memorial chapel hasbeen erected in the cemetery in connexion with the commission’s memorial to the missing, which latter takes the form of wings containing the name panels, in extension of the chapel on either side.
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 Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House the report made to the Government by the Public Service Board on certain matters affecting the Lighthouse and Navigation Branches of the Department of Trade and Customs, referred to in the second report of the Public Service Board ?
– The report is still under consideration and, when the matter shall have been settled, will be laid on the table of the Library.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What quantity and value of electrical conduit piping, Item 152b Tariff Schedule, has been imported into Australia since 1st January. 1926?
– The information is being obtained.
The following paperswere presented : -
Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Melbourne, May, 1926, to consider the Financial Relations between the States and the Commonwealth - Report of Debates.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Tailem Bend, South Australia, - For postal purposes.
.- I move-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday next at 3 o’clock p.m.
The Government desires that the two referendum bills relating to the amendment of the Constitution shall reach another place by Wednesday next. It was intended that the debate on those bills should be resumed three or four day. after I moved the second reading, but to meet the convenience of the Leader of the Opposition I agreed to two postponement. That has necessitated our meeting on Monday next so that the consideration of the measures may be completed by the date originally fixed.
.- The Government is entitled to ample time in which to carry out its programme, butI protest against the discourteous treatment of those honorable members who come from other States. This is the first intimation that we have had that the House is to sit on Monday. All honorable members have important duties to attend to in their respective States, and it is usual for them to make appointments for weekends. Therefore, they are entitled to reasonable notice that they will be expected to sit on extra days.
– The honorable member has known this all the week.
– That is not so. Ministerial members may have been in the Government’s confidence, but the Prime Minister has treated members of the Opposition with his usual discourtesy.
– He is the most courteous man in the House.
– He has not been so in regard to alterations of the days of meeting. He should afford to honorable members from other
States due warning of intended changes, so that they can re-arrange their week-end engagements accordingly. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to chuckle. They have known of the Government’s intention to meet the House on Monday, and they have been able to make their own arrangements.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– The honorable member should ask his Leader whether he knew anything of the matter.
– I myself knew nothing of it.
– I suggest that we should have been given reasonable notice of the intention of the Government to meet the House on Monday. I object, not to sitting on that day, but to the lack of courtesy shown by the Prime Minister is not informing members from the other States of his intentions.
.- I desire also to enter my protest against being suddenly asked to sit on Monday as well as on four other days next week.We are now dealing with the most important legislation that has been brought before this Parliament for many years, and surely it is advisable that honorable members should have an opportunity to obtain the fullest information, so that they may put the true position before the people. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) last week obtained leave to move the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to push the State Grants Bill through this chamber. The introduction of a measure so important, causing probably the dislocation of the whole of the finances of the States, places on honorable members the task of obtaining information for the purpose of examining the figures presented by the Treasurer, so that the effect of the proposals upon the States and the people of this country can be ascertained. It is a most difficult problem. I protest against being asked, without any consideration at all, to push forward that legislation. It certainly looks as if there is a keen desire to pass it through another chamber before the end of the financial year, and to that I strongly object. I shall have more to say about the matter at a later stage. If we pass this legislation without full and mature consideration, we shall not be acting fairly or justly to the people of this country.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the motion before the House refers only to Monday next?
. I join with other honorable members in protesting against this motion. What excuse can there be for putting this extraordinary pressure on honorable members ? Six months have elapsed since the general election, but for how long has the Parliament been in session? Parliament is left idle for months at a time; but now that we are asked to amend the Constitution, and to disturb the foundations on which the States have built their financial arrangements, we are asked to sit here for five days of the week, and are forced to devote the rest of it to travelling. It cannot be done. What can be the reason for the motion? The answer is that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is going to England, and for five months while he remains away we shall be doing nothing. When I was in charge of the Government, and the present Treasurer sat on one of the cross benches, I was told that I could go to England, and no unfair advantage would be taken of my absence. The Parliament remained open during my absence for the discussion of public business. The proposal to sit on five days a week approaches a scandal. The Prime Minister lives within almost a few yards of Parliament House, and his constituency could be visited in halfanhour ; but many other honorable members cannot get to their homes so easily. Honorable members representing the metropolitan constituencies of Sydney and Adelaide are expected to go home at the week-end, and when public duty and Christian morality point in the same direction, what are we to think of a government that deliberately flouts both by placing an embargo upon our movements? It will be impossible for me to journey to Sydney and return between now and Monday. It is the custom of Parliament to sit on certain days of the week, and members accordingly make arrangements for the days upon which they will ordinarily be free. These arrangements are now to be upset because the Prime Minister is leaving for England at the end of August. The Government’s proposal is not fair to the people of this country. Within a few weeks they are expected to understand the proposals for the referendum and the discontinuance of the per capita payments. Having disposed of those measures and discussed the budget, we are to shut up Parliament for six months. If the Treasurer were placed in charge of the House while the Prime Minister was away his reign might last a week, but no longer. The Prime Minister would not trust him. It is a fine state of affairs when the head of a section of the Government which is supported by an ample majority cannot be left in charge of Parliament.
.- Honorable members would do well to pre vent the Prime Minister from visiting England during this year. The state of European affairs, commercially, financially, and industrially, is so chaotic that statesmen have little time to discuss proposals that may be submitted to the Imperial Conference. South Africa is in a state of political turmoil-
– I remind the honorable member that the motion before this House is to adjourn at our rising, until Monday next.
– I understand that. I protest against the motion on the ground stated by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). Its object is to permit the Prime Minister to visit Great Britain to attend the Imperial Conference, which is to be held at the most inopportune time in the history of the Empire. I am a friend of the Empire, and I love the race from which I have sprung. I desire to see unanimity and concord prevail among the various parts of the Empire. Important legislation,, dealing with Commonwealth and State finances, should not be rushed through Parliament. The great problems that are now facing the statesmen of the Empire cannot be solved by discussion at the Imperial Conference, and this should, therefore, be postponed until the following year.
– I ask the honorable member to discuss the motion before the House.
– The motion concerns the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to England. I could give many reasons why it should not be agreed to, but I have no doubt that the Prime Minister delights in visiting London and in interviewing royalty and the nobility. This, however, is not a sufficient reason for causing this House to unduly rush its work. The statesmen of Great Britain are at their wits’ end to find remedies for the social disorders there, and I am sure that they, as well as the statesmen of South Africa and Canada, would welcome a postponement of the Imperial Conference. The Prime Minister is not willing to leave Australia while Parliament is in session.
– For the reason that he cannot trust the conduct of its business to his colleague, the Treasurer. If he did, he would not be able to sleep on the journey Home. I enter my protest against this proposal.
.- Nobody sympathizes more than I do with honorable members who will find themselves inconvenienced by the House meeting on Monday, but I think it only fair to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that I should relate what has occurred between us in regard to the matter. A fortnight ago certain proposals were hurriedly introduced here. The Federal Executive of the Labour party met in Melbourne at my request to consider them, and I mentioned to the Prime Minister that I thought it would be unfair to push on with the discussion until we had been given some opportunity to formulate our views. He at once agreed to allow two or three clays for that purpose, but made it quite clear that the matter must be determined by this House by a certain date.
– What date?
– Tuesday of next week. The business had to be sent on to the Senate on that date, the Prime Minister told me. I said that it would probably be possible to get it through in a fortnight, but I could give no guarantee other than that honorable members of the Labour party would do the fair thing in the matter. I think that they have done that.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Last night I interviewed the Prime Minister again, and asked him what day he proposed to ask the House to meet next week. He replied that it would be necessary to reassemble on Monday in order that the business could be sent on to the Senate by Tuesday. I could not give him any undertaking that if he did not call honorable members together on Monday it would be ready by Tuesday. It would have been improper for me to bind honorable members in that way. Nobody is more inconvenienced than I am by the proposed meeting on Monday. I have been in Melbourne for some time, and I suppose nobody has to apply himself more closely to the matters under discussion.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– In view of what has happened, I cannot offer any objection to the Monday meeting, but I may have something to say later as to the propriety of dealing with business like this. Although I am Leader of the Opposition, I intend to play the game fairly. If it could be arranged for honorable members to re-assemble on Tuesday, it would certainly meet my convenience, but in view of the fact that the Prime Minister consented to my own proposals in the matter, I considered it only right that I should make this explanation. The Prime Minister is the head of the Government, and the Government is responsible for the business of Parliament. All that honorable members on this side of the chamber can do is to look after the interests of their constituents to the best of their ability. The proposal to sit on Monday of next week has been talked over for a fortnight. As a matter of fact, when the Prime Minister first mentioned extra sitings to me, he said that it might be necessary for the House to sit on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday to get the business through. I replied then, that I did not think that would be necessary.
– It is highly desirable that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) should give honorable members generally as much notice as possible of the intention of the Government to ask Parliament to sit on additional days. As the Labour party Whip, I know that a good many honorable members on this side of the chamber have been inconvenienced by reason of the fact that the House is to meet on Monday next, and I am also aware that the same is true of some honorable members opposite. I hope that, even at this late stage, it may be possible for the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition to make some arrangement which will render the proposed Monday sitting unnecessary; but, in any case, I trust that an undertaking will be given by the Government that no important decisions shall be made on Monday. Some honorable members will find it absolutely impossible to get back to Melbourne before Tuesday. As the Senate will not meet until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, and an important bill was passed on to it last night, it seems to me that it will have sufficient business to engage its attention for at least two or three days. I am not in a position to promise the Prime Minister anything, but I can say, without reservation, that honorable members on this side of the chamber will do the fair thing in connexion with the business before the House.
– In view of the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) there is little need for me to say much in rebuttal of the charge of discourtesy levelled against me by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), but I emphatically repudiate it. The House will have gathered from what the Leader of the Opposition has said, that there was no discourtesy whatever. It has been definitely understood for some time that it would be necessary to sit extra days to get particular items of business through. Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition asked me whether I could say definitely on what days the House would sit. I replied that I thought it would not be necessary to ask honorable members to sit on Saturday, but that it would be necessary to call them together on Monday. I was prepared to sit on either Saturday or Monday, and I was given to understand that it would be more convenient to sit on Monday than on Saturday. I agree that it is desirable that the Government should give honorable members as much notice as possible of its intention to alter the ordinary sitting days. The question of Tuesday sittings was raised nearly two weeks ago, but as the Government had no opportunity to give honorable members notice of it, no action was taken ; though it was quite definitely understood that the House would have to sit extra days this week and next week. I believe that I can be exonerated from the charge of intentional discourtesy to honorable members, or of causing them avoidable inconvenience. I hardly like to suggest that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would deliberately accuse the Government of adopting unscrupulous methods in dealing witha bill in which he is particularly interested, but, as a matter of fact, he has completely misrepresented the position. A few days ago he asked me a question in regard to that bill, and I repudiated the suggestion that the Government would descend to improper methods in dealing with it; but the honorable gentleman’s remarks this morning would undoubtedly leave the impression on the minds of all but those who are intimately acquainted with the procedure of this House that the Government had brought the bill down in some extraordinary way, and that by suspending the Standing Orders it intended to rush it through and stifle proper discussion on it. The fact is that no special course has been taken in connexion with it.
– But it is intended to get it through quickly.
– Nobody knows better than the honorable member for Swan that nothing extraordinary has been done.
– The notice-paper has been altered day after day.
– The Standing Orders were suspended when the bill was introduced, in order that the public might get an explanation of it at the same time, but it is not one step farther forward than it would have been had therebeen no suspension. The honorable member deliberately suggested that something improper was being clone, and that the Government was taking some unfair advantage of honorable members.
– I say it is highly improper.
– Nothing improper has been done. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has made certain comments on the motion. I can only say that if he will be inconvenienced by a meeting on Monday I very much regret it. If he did not know earlier of the intention to meet that day, he is practically the only member who was ignorant of it.
– I did not know, and I submit that I should have been told.
– If the right honorable member did not know, I very much regret it, but I repeat that he must be almost the only honorable member who did not know. As to his statement that the reason for the procedure is that I intend to be present at the Imperial Conference, I can only say that that question does not arise in connexion with the decision to meet on Monday. He also referred to the “shutting up” of this Parliament, and to certain things which, he said, were about to happen, and on the whole he appeared to be better informed on that subject than on the proposal to meet next Monday. I have not made any announcement as to whether this House will sit in my absence. The right honorable gentleman proceeded on the assumption that it would not sit, and he made some gratuitously insulting remarks about the honorable the Treasurer which I very much deprecate. There was no occasion for those remarks, and they were quite uncalled for from him. No one but the right honorable gentleman himself can connect those remarks with the motion under consideration. I regret that so much time should have been occupied in discussing this matter, but it is essential that these measures should be passed by this House by the time I have indicated. I remind honorable members that the Government is the authority to determine how the business of this House shall be conducted, and it cannot be dictated to by any one; but in arranging for the conduct of business the Government will, as far as possible, meet the convenience of honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20th May(vide page 2171), on motion by Mr. Bruce. -
That the billbe now read a second time.
.- This bill, according to the right honorable the Prime Minister, is designed to ensure to the people foodstuffs, services, and other essentials to the industrial and physical existence of Australia. It differs considerably from any of the other referendum proposals that we have been discussing. This is the first occasion on which such a proposal for a referendum has been placed before this Parliament. We have had 25 years’ experience of federation, and there has been no evidence that this Parliament, or the State Parliaments, have not had sufficient powers to provide essential services. It is strange, seeing that a constitutional session is proposed to be held next year, that a bill of this land should be rushed through with the other proposals that we have been considering. No one can contend that this is an urgent matter, and it is on the grounds of urgency that the proposal for increased industrial powers is submitted. If there is no urgency, why should the Parliament be asked to consider this question now ?
– If the honorable the Leader of the Opposition does not consider the bill urgent, why did he agree to give the Government an extra day for the consideration of it?
– I did not agree to give the Government an extra day for the consideration of it. I have explained why I voted for a meeting on Monday next. The Government fixes the days of sitting. The rushing through of these proposals is unfortunate for the country, and may militate against their acceptance by the people.
– Is this bill covered by the pact ?
– No . The right honorable the Prime Minister referred to occurrences in other countries, but I submit that we are not so much concerned with what has happened in other countries as with what has happened in our own country. It does not necessarily follow, because certain action was taken recently in Great Britain, that this Parliament should ask for drastic powers to deal with industrial troubles in this country. Although this bill is not linked with the request for greater industrial powers, the only possible assumption is that it is intended to give power to control situations that might arise during industrial disputes. The right honorable the Prime Minister admitted that this Parliament could deal with persons who interfered with essential services, and such powers have been exercised by the Federal and State Governments whenever they deemed it necessary. This Parliament recently passed legislation providing for the deportation of certain persons, but that legislation, fortunately, was subsequently declared to be unconstitutional. We have also passed legislation fixing the penalties for certain offences under the Crimes Act, and, in addition, there are penalties in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and in the criminal and civil law. There is a conspiracy law that can be brought into operation against any one who conspires to do anything detrimental to the interests of this country. There has been no demand for additional powers, and unless the Government desires unification, i. see no justification for asking for more powers than this Parliament has to-day. If the Government’s object is unification, it should seek every possible power; but it is careful to point out that it does not favour unification, and does not intend to interfere with the powers of the States to any great extent. That being so, I find it the more difficult to understand the Government’s motives in submitting this hill. The only incident mentioned by the Prime Minister as a reason for the bill was the existing trouble in the coal trade. But even if the power which the Government is seeking was possessed by it, coal could not be produced. It is impossible to make men work if they will not work, for they are entitled, if they give proper notice, to cease their employment. The working man’s capital is his muscle, and if he cannot obtain sufficient reward and satisfactory conditions in a certain employment, naturally he refuses to work. Industrial disputes will continually arise, however much we may seek to avoid them. The object of taking the referendum is to give greater powers to this Parliament to prevent disputes. We recognize that disputes cannot be entirely prevented, and that they will occur in spite of tlie best legislation that can be devised. The fault is not always on the one side, for employers are frequently to blame. The employers, however, although frequently responsible, will not be penalized by the exercise of the power sought in this bill. If this power is granted, this Parliament could say, when there was an industrial dispute in the coal trade, that it would not allow the community to suffer; and it could take charge of the mines and work them. But that, I fear, is hot intended, and I doubt whether many honorable members would support it. The trouble in the coal industry is not new. It is due, not to the miners, but to the engine-men, who hold responsible positions, and have human lives in their charge. Because they have refused to work, the miners, and thousands of other men throughout the Commonwealth, have suffered. The power asked for, however, could not end that trouble. Has anything happened in connexion with this disturbance that has in any way been an infraction of State or Federal laws. That dispute could have been settled in its early stages, and no one could have settled it better than the right honorable the Prime Minister. I telegraphed to him asking him to intercede, but he refused to do so on the ground that action by him at that time would have undermined parliamentary authority. I differ from him as to that, but I believe that, in the interests of peace and good government, he should have intervened. He could have pointed out to both sides that it was his business to look after the interests of the general public, and he could have made suggestions for settling the dispute. He could have paved the way to a settlement without in any way acting contrary to the legislation of this Parliament. I remember the coercive legislation passed by the Wade Government of New South Wales during one of the largest coal strikes in this country. I was asked to intervene in the dispute, and I did so. I did not settle that strike by violating constitutional authority, but by adopting constitutional means. I asked the Government to give me the assistance of Judge Scholes, and by working with the two parties I was able to effect a settlement. It is incorrect to say that the Commonwealth Government, when there is an industrial dispute that affects the general public, cannot step in without undermining constitutional authority. I regret the trouble in the coal trade as much as any one does. I say nothing about the merits of the dispute ; but there is a dispute, and it should be adjusted. Even if it possessed this power, no Government would be able to produce coal from the mines. That is an impossi-bility unless competent men are in charge of the engines.
– Plenty of men are available.
– My honorable friend misunderstands the position. Incompetent men cannot be given the responsiblity of working the machinery that operates the cages. If the honorable member had to earn his living underground, he would not place his life in the hands of an engine-driver who was not competent, especially one who was a non-unionist.
– Are not engineers available to drive the engines ?
– The honorable member would be the last man in the world to go 1,000 or 1,500 feet underground if his safety were entrusted to an incompetent man and a non-unionist. What is it that makes this an urgent measure? It may be said that the disturbances which occurred during the shipping trouble provide a justification for it.
I combat that assertion. Had we taken that trouble in hand earlier, it would have been settled very much more quickly. It was left to Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, to arrive at an agreement with the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line. Will any honorable member contend that the action taken by the men to withdraw from registration in the Arbitration Court justified the ship-owners in altering a practice that had been in existence for a considerable number of years, and in declining to insert in the articles the conditions under which the men were employed? In a nut-shell, that was the cause of the trouble. Wild statements were made to the effect that communists, anarchists, and bolsheviks were inciting the people in Australia to revolt. Subsequently the British seamen, who were not controlled by an Australian organization, held up British ships in Australian waters. That was an unfortunate occurrence.
– Two men were put away because of the part that they played ja it.
– And the High Court ruled that the Government acted illegally. There was no justification for that legislation, which was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria in this House. I admit that that upheaval prevented this party from being returned to power. Trouble arose at Fremantle, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) sent a strongly worded message to the Premier of Western Australia. Mr. Collier replied that he was able to handle the situation; and he did so.
– He did subsequently.
– He proved that the power which his Government possessed could be used very effectively. Similar outbreaks occurred at Cairns and Bowen, in Queensland. The Prime Minister communicated with the Premier of that State, who replied, “ I have the matter in hand.” That trouble was settled.
– Not by the Government of Queensland.
– The Government of Queensland had the power to deal with that matter. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would make it appear that the settlement was not brought about by action on the part of that Government. Many of the farmers who assisted to bring about a settlement were Labour supporters. The fact cannot be denied that the State Government had the power to deal with that particular domestic trouble, and that it dealt with it. Some honorable members contend that conditions to-day are different from what they were prior to federation. When I was a lad, there were disturbances of a much more serious nature than those which have occurred recently. I remember the military being called out on one occasion, but that action merely incensed the people. Every Government which has adopted that policy has subsequently been defeated at the polls.
– What action ought to be taken when a few people hold up essential services?
– The power is vested in this and the State Parliaments to deal with such a position. Nobody can tolerate domestic violence; but so far the Police Force in each State has been competent to cope with any outbreaks of that nature. This power will not enable the Government to ensure the continuance of essential services, particularly coal supplies. I have had a lifelong experience in the coal industry, and I ought to know something about it. The moment the ballot-boxes were opened all mention of the presence of bolsheviks, communists, and anarchists in our midst ceased, and trouble has not since occurred. The right honorable the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) in a pre vious debate testified to the fact that there is less industrial trouble in this than in any other country, and that unionists are, generally speaking, law abiding.
– There is no doubt about that.
– I made that statement prior to, and during the election campaign, but it received no credence. Now that I have the support of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General the people will probably begin to see that there was some truth in my assertion. Let me draw attention to the powers that the Commonwealth possesses under the Constitution in regard to these matters.By paragraphvi of section 51 the Parliament has the power to make laws with respect to the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth.
– The Defence Act was passed under that power.
– I am aware of that.
– The honorable gentleman should read the domestic violence provisions.
– Section 61 reads-
The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws oftheCommonwealth.
Section 119 reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and. on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
If the use of the military forces is necessary to deal with domestic violence a State Government can make application for their assistance. I dare say that the Com monwealth could employ them in such a crisis without any application from a State Government.
– Oh, no!
– At any rate, provision is made for an application by a State. My argument is that the States and the Commonwealth combined have sufficient power to deal with any trouble of that description. No action taken by this Parliament can ensure continuity of service if men refuse to give their services. A breach of the law, or an outbreak of disorder, is quite another matter, and there is ample power to deal with either.
– What does the honorable member propose should be done if a State Government happened to be in sympathy with the law-breakers?
– What would the honorable member do if some of the big wealthy employers in this country were in the wrong; would he be prepared to exercise the powers conferred by the Constitution and take over their establishments ?
– I should treat both sides in exactly the same way.
– I should act in accordance with what was necessary to maintain good government.
– That is what we all want.
– I am impelled to the conclusion that it is proposed to use this power in connexion with industrial trouble. That is absolutely unnecessary. The last 25 years have shown that there is no occasion to enlist the aid of the military forces. Surely, then, we shall not claim that this is an urgent matter! Do not honorable members see the danger to the industry and commerce proposals if half the people of Australia are opposed to this proposal? Do they think that the people will vote for the others? Some may ; but very many will be so disgusted that they will not draw a distinction between the two. I desire to have the other powers endorsed by the people, and I have promised to assist in having them carried, but I do not want to have attached to them anything which will make thepeople suspicious. Smith’s Weekly, of the 29th May, 1926, contains an article which is most appropriate to this matter. It reads -
There are some advisers who persuade Mr. Bruce to govern, not with the even scales of justice, but with the heavy axe of coercion. He has most unwisely tacked to his proposals a demand for punitive powers which are unnecessary and dangerous. Nothing will induce a majority of the Australian people to vote for the special emergency powers which the Government is suggesting. Protesting against the attempted revival of a kind of military government, the people will probably reject all the referendum proposals in a lump. The emergency law is the Deportation Act over again. Australia is not Britain, and our industrial troubles, whatever they may be, will be settled by the popular will, not by military force. The question of uniform working hours and uniform industrial conditions is of far greater importancethan to give the Commonwealth the special charter to intervene with bayonet and gun in any local disturbance.
That statement will appeal to thousands of working people in this country. It will make them suspicious. When both sides are being argued from public platforms it will be exceedingly difficult, if this proposal is put to the people at the same time as those dealt with in the Constitution Alteration Industry and Commerce Bill, to induce them to support those proposals about which we are agreed. The people will wonder what the Government has in mind. They will conclude that it has some ulterior motive in proposing an amendment of the Constitution which has never previously been considered necessary. If a dispute takes place resulting in the holding up of an essential service, the employers may bo to blame. They are not always innocent. They may desire to get non-union labour to take the place of unionists whohave a genuine grievance, and if the military are to be called out in such a case, honorable members can imagine the condition of things that will be brought about. Every man and woman in this country is anxious to see the government carried on on reasonable lines and to promote peace and prosperity. Can we expect peace and prosperity if the Government calls out the military when anyindustrial trouble arises ?
– The honorable gentleman must recognize that there is no military force in this country that could be used for that purpose, and there is no intention to use the military force for such a purpose.
– I recognize that we have a greater military force in the Commonwealth to-day than there was in Australia in the earlier days to whichI have referred. In those days we had voluntary defence systems, but it was never the volunteers who were called out ; it was the permanent men. If wo look into the matter we shall find that we have 2,000 or 3,000 permanentmen in our Defence Force to-day, and if the Government calls out 200 or 300 of these men with rifles and bayonets when any industrial trouble arises in Australia, the effect will be to arouse resentment in the breast of every man and woman in the country, whether they are workers or not. The people will not stand that kind of thing. They do not want strikes or lock-outs any more than we do, but they will not consent to the use of the military in this country to aid those who may be in the wrong in a disturbance which holds up an essential service.
– How would the honorable gentleman deal with a forcible stoppage of an essential service?
– We have had such stoppages in the past. They occur in every part of the world, and less frequently in Australia than elsewhere. What is the position to-day in England in connexion with the strike in the coal industry? The British Government can only wait until a settlement is effected. Mr. Baldwin has been endeavouring for some time past to bring about a settlement. Those are the lines on which we should work in the event of an industrial disturbance holding up essential services. For the last 25 years the federation has been able to do without such a power as is asked for in thisbill. In the early days, every Government that brought the military into prominence in connexion with industrial troubles was defeated. When Mr. Wade put the leaders of a strike into jail, he had to pay the penalty. The people of Australia will notstand this sort of thing. If the power here asked for were in the hands of Parliament and were used by the Government asI have suggested, the effect would be to stir up discontent and perhaps to lead to something like a revolution. Disputes arise from time to time between employers and employees, but surely it is possible for us to settle them without this kind of legislation. We are agreed that we cannot secure sufficient expedition in the settlement of industrial troubles under our existing powers, and the further powers asked for in the last bill are necessary. We shall jeopardize the carrying of those proposals if, at the same time, there is submitted to the peoplea proposal for an amendment of the Constitution to enable the Government to use the military to secure the continuation of essential services. The Prime Minister did not say one word about the employers’ side in this matter. His only references were to industrialists. The only instance he quoted as showing the need for this measure was the trouble in the coal industry at Newcastle to-day. I am sorry to say that it is affecting every part of Australia. In the circumstances now existing, what hope is there that the people will agree to a proposal of this kind. The Prime Minister would be well advised to defer this proposal. We are to consider constitutional amendments when we get to the Federal Capital, and this is surely a proposal the consideration of which may be postponed until that time.If it is submitted to the people at the same time as those which we have just considered, they will conclude that it is linked up with the other proposals dealing with industrial matters, and that it is the intention of the Government to take powerto settle disputes in industrial affairs by calling out the military. Nothing has occurred in the history of federation to warrant this being dealt with as an urgent measure. The coal strike is the greatest interruption to essential services that we have had. If it continues for another week or two its effects willbe more severely felt than they are at present. Existing coal supplies are gradually being exhausted, and the effects of the dispute will be felt very intensely if it lasts another couple of weeks. Coal is the life-blood of the country. It is required in our homes, for manufactures, and for shipping, and if operations in the coal industry are suspended, many essential services can no longer be continued. We can derive no power by which we can compel men to work after they have given notice of the termination of their services.
– We may be able to protect
– The honorable member will find that it will not be easy to get men to take the place of unionists in carrying on the coal industry. I have said that the success of the proposals about which we are agreed will be jeopardized if this proposal is submitted tothe people at the same time. I and the party to which I belong will give this proposal the most strenuous opposition upon the platforms of this country. We will generally support the proposals contained in the bill which has just been passed. I have come to no arrangement with the Prime Minister concerning this bill. I would never do so. I do not believe that we should have the power to enable the Government to use the military against the workers of this country, and I shall say so with no uncertain voice from the public platform.
– I have not given much consideration to this measure, and did not intend to speak upon it until I heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). I deprecate very much the whole tone of the speech delivered by the honorable gentleman. No fewer than eight different times he said that the intention of this measure is to enable the Government to call out the military to shoot down strikers.
– I never said that at all.
– The honorable gentleman said no fewer than eight times that it is the intention of the Government. to call out the military. I say that that is unworthy of him. He is giving a lead to his followers, not only in the House, but outside, to take the platform and say, “Here is a measure devised by the Government for the sole purpose of enabling it to call out the military.”
-Hear, hear; I believe that!
– It is not in my mind, and I undertake to say it is not in the mind of the Prime Minister or of any honorable member on this side that the military should be called out.
– The Leader of the Opposition lived in the days when the military was called out, and so did I.
– The speech of the Leader of the Opposition was devoted wholly and solely to trying to create the impression that the main purpose of the bill is to enable the Government to call out the military to suppress industrial disturbances. I repeat that that is unworthy of the honorable gentleman.
– What other force has the Government to call out? The Prime Minister referred to the coal trouble as holding up an essential service. The Government could not call out the Commonwealth Police to do anything.
– Inthe event of a disturbance holding up an essential service, the course followed by the Government here, would probably be on the same lines as that adopted in England, when the country was threatened with a total stoppage of essential services, by a very determined and very numerous body of unionists and others. That course was absolutely effective in England, through the organization of the Government there.
– The British Government called out the military, did it not?
– Not in the sense in which the calling out of the military is usually understood. A few members of the Military Forces were used to escort lorries and wagons that had to be taken to areas where feeling was greatly intensified. It would not have been possible to take the lorries through those areas without an escort of some sort.
– The whole business was managed by volunteer workers and special constables. There was no calling out of the military.
– That is not quite cor rect. What about the Guards?
– The speech of the Leader of the Opposition suggests that honorable members on the other side will mount platforms and charge the Government with the intention to use the military to shoot down strikers. I venture to say that the plan which would be adopted to deal with the holding up of an essential service would bevery similar to that adopted in Victoria when the police struck, and there was a serious disturbance in Melbourne. Special constables were called out, and they dealt with the difficulty. Any number of young fellows would come out at the call of any sensible and decent government if they were needed to suppress disturbance. When, in 1917, there was trouble in Sydney, Sir George Fuller and his Government took a strong stand and brought down 4,000 or 5,000 young fellows from the country to break the strike, and camped them on the Sydney Show Ground. It will not be denied that the young fellows who were brought down to Sydney to suppress the disturbance there very effectively carried out their task. I undertake to say that there are thousands of men who will be found ready to come to the assistance of the community if the continuance of essential servicesis threatened. At the present time the Government hasnot the power to suppress disturbances preventing the carrying on of essential services. The purpose of this bill is to give to the Commonwealth Parliament additional power, so that if the people are threatened with starvation the Government will be able to organize resistance, and see that essential services are carried on.
– The honorable member desires to follow the example of the British Government.
– The measures taken by the British Government were effective in preventing the community from being beaten to its knees by a general strike, and we cannot do better than follow such a successful example. The Leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Collier took steps in Western Australia to suppress disturbances on the Fremantle wharf. He did so, but only when his supporters said to him, “ For God’s sake do something, or we shall be defeated at the next election.” And what steps did he take ? After the unruly spirits of Fremantle had taken possession of the wharfs, dragged seamen off the ships, and threatened to break the machinery if an attempt were made to take the vessels to sea, and after serious rioting had occurred, Mr. Collier, at the instigation of his friends, sent to the wharfs police armed with rifles and ball cartridge, and told them to fire if necessary. What an outcry would have come from Labour had a Nationalist Government armed the police with rifles and ball cartridge, and told them to fire upon strikers !
– That statement is not true.
– Order !
– I have been accused of having on occasions used extravagant language when I said that there was a danger of the red flag flying in Australia in place of the Union Jack. But what happened in Queensland under the weak-kneed Labour Premier, Mr. Gillies, who later appointed himself to a nice little judgeship at £3,500 a year?
– The honorable member is now giving the bill a party tinge.
– The honorable member is blathering like an idiot. He is a jabbering nincompoop.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– 1 withdraw it. The railway services of Queensland were absolutely held up by the strikers, who took possession of His Majesty’s mails, and locked them in a shed. Then Mr. Gillies said he would settle the strike, and he did so by giving the strikers everything they demanded. Any strike can be settled upon those terms. On the day following the settlement, when the trains came out of the engine sheds, the engines were decorated with the red flag, and banners bearing such slogans as “ Hurrah for the revolution “ We have positive proof that if the extremists get their way they will hoist the red flag in this country. It is likely, especially with Labour Governments in office in five States, that if any serious industrial disturbance takes place no effort will be made by the State authority to suppress it, and the Federal Government will be powerless to do so. What is the position in Adelaide to-day owing to the continuance of the coal strike ?
– How will the Commonwealth Government obtain coal if the miners refuse to work?
– It will have to organize the community in such a. way that the mines can be worked, as Sir George Fuller threatened to work them. If coal supplies are stopped, and the hands of the Federal Government are tied, the community must surrender to the strikers. If the power contained in this bill is granted, the Commonwealth Government will be able to take such steps as it thinks fit to ensure the carrying on of essential services. The Leader of the Opposition said, also, that although during the general election campaign there was much talk of bolshevists, communists and revolutionaries, nothing was heard of them now. Of course not; the shock of the election sent those fellows t.o cover. The vote of the people showed that they have no sympathy for the policies advocated by the spies and political agents of bolshevic Russia. Those fellows are in hollow logs to-day, but are only lying “ doggo,” and when a favorable opportunity is afforded they will come out again and be as active as ever. It is time that the Commonwealth Government had power to limit the activities of these people in time of industrial upheaval. Therefore I welcome this bill, and I deprecate the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that its main purpose is to give the Commonwealth Government authority to employ the military to shoot down the strikers. I give that statement the lie direct.
– I am glad I said it, because it has drawn from the honorable member a statement of what is in the Prime Minister’s mind.
– I congratulate the Government upon having a supporter who is prepared to rise and state frankly what Ministers have in mind in submitting this proposal to the House. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) said that because Labour is in power in five States it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to have authority to handle industrial disturbances. Apparently the object of the bill is to bring about unification in industrial matters, and to ignore the power of the State authorities to suppress any rising. The State Governments have the power to deal with disturbances, and they have exorcised it; indeed, the honorable member for Warringah related what Sir George Fuller’s Government did in New South Wales. But the Prime Minister and his supporter, the gallant general, are not satisfied. The Leader of the Opposition was justified in saying that the Government, in asking for more powers than it already possesses, must contemplate the use of the military arm in dealing with strikes. In the past the powers enjoyed by the State authorities have been sufficient, but the honorable member for Warringah says that the Commonwealth Parliament must have greater powers because five Labour Governments are in power in the State Parliaments. I do not believe that either he or the Prime Minister would personally uac rifles to shoot down the workers, but this bill is apparently designed to give the Government power to employ force. What are the essential services that the Commonwealth Government wishes to control? They are the railways, the wharfs, and the supply of all staple commodities. In seeking to obtain control of them the Government is trying to bring about unification in the industrial sphere.
– That is what the honorable member’s party wants.
– We do not want that.
– I do not think the powers to be conferred by this bill will override the rights of the State authorities.
– That is my contention. This bill is not required. The Government does not need power to settle industrial disputes at the point of the bayonet. The honorable mem ber for Warringah let the eat out of the bag. T supported the other referendum bill ; but if, as the honorable member says, this hill is a natural corollary to the other, I must oppose both proposals when they are submitted to the people. If the questions contained in the first bill are answered in the affirmative by the people, the Commonwealth Parliament will have all the industrial power- it needs. The Government says that it desires to vest this Parliament with power to legislate for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, and it should not jeopardize the people’s consent by linking that power with this other one - which the people of the States would be foolish to grant. Are the State Governments likely to consent to the Commonwealth authorities taking control of their wharfs and railways? The honorable member for Warringah spoke of the red flag having been displayed on Government trains in Queensland. That flag is not the emblem of revolution and bloodshed. The Socialist party does not believe in bloodshed or revolution; but, because the blood of all mankind is red, it adopts a red flag as an appropriate symbol of the brotherhood of man. The honorable member, in connecting the red flag with revolution, is evidently unaware that it stands for brotherhood. It is entirely wrong to point to the red flag as the emblem of industrial unrest.
– Sing us a, stave nf the lied Flag.
– The right honorable gentleman, having sung that song so frequently in his early days, is no doubt more familiar with it than I am. The brotherhood of man is my religion, and I certainly should not dream of taking a rifle in my hand to destroy any member of this community. The Labour party will fight this proposal on every platform. If the Government had, during the election campaign, stated its intention respecting the control of essential, services, it would not now be in office. It was returned to power because it promised to bring about industrial peace, and to get rid of Tom Walsh, Jock Garden, and. other extremists. Why, at that time, those men were the best assets that the Government had, and they are sure to be resurrected at the next election. The Government would be wise to postpone the consideration of this bill until the constitutional session to be held at Canberra next year. We have quite enough on our hands to place before the people a reform that we have advocated, for the last fifteen or sixteen years. We stoutly refuse to assist in the passage of this bill, which, if carried, would prove a dangerous instrument in the hands of any Government.
– I think that the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) might have given us the benefit of his advice before we advanced to a general discussion of the bill. The proposal, on the face of it, would commend itself to every citizen. Consider the wording of it - “protecting the interests of the public in case of actual or probable interruption of any essential service”. If the whole community were paraded before us, and each individual were asked as he went by “Are you iu favour of that?” every man and every woman would say, “Of course I am.”
But what does it mean? It is not intended to settle industrial disputes. It may he remedial or punitive in its nature. Its object is not to repair a wrong, but to bridge a chasm. How will it do that? If I were asked, “Are you in favour of this?” I should say, “Most emphatically.” YetI don’t know what it means.
– Then, why are you in favour of it?
– If one was in favour only of what he understood, and if every man believed only what he could see. or touch, or taste, or handle, this would be a narrow and drab world. If this proposal were put to the people, the natural tendency of the electors would be to approve it. Iheard only the end ofthe speech of the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) ; but he spoke as the bulk of the people of this country would speak. During the election there was a strike. Everybody was saying, “ Why does not some one do something?” Yet nothing was done. This bill is intended to apply to such a set of circumstances as that ; and we are told that if it is applied and upheld, out of chaos will come order, and out of scarcity plenty. Let us assume that a strike had occurred interrupting the steamer service to Tasmania, the State from which comes the honorable member for Darwin. Every one living in Tasmania, and those on the mainland, except the strikers, would naturally be in favour of legislation providing machinery whereby the Commonwealth could deal with the contingency. But I want to know how we are to do what is desired. The bill would not bring us any nearer a settlement. It is vague and wide, and may be an effort to embrace the whole of the unattachedand reserved State powers; but I do not think for one moment that it will do this. If it means what it says, then whenever an essential service is interrupted, ipso facto, the Commonwealth Government will have the right to supply that service. One of the essential services is, of course, the supply of fuel, particularly coal. The main source of our coal supply is the southern, northern, and western coalfields of New South Wales. The greater part of the continent depends upon those coalfields. Sydney, whose population is as great, or nearly so, as that of Queensland, South Australia. Tasmania, and Western Australia combined, is absolutely dependent upon the coal it obtains from Newcastle and the Illawarra district. Let us assume a stoppage in the supply of coal to Sydney. Unless somehow or other that city can be supplied with fuel, there must be serious trouble. I leave out of consideration the rest of the Commonwealth. Now the supplying of, the carriage, and the sale of coal are State matters. Coal in transit from Newcastle, from Bulli, or from Lithgow to Sydney is intra-state commerce. If by this proposal we are able by declaration to brush aside the powers of the States over commerce and trade, and take these powers into our own hands, then what was said by the Attorney-General when speaking against the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to strike out the words of limitation in the trade and commerce section of the Constitution is. of course, swept aside. If this bill will confer the power on us relief can, with suitable machinery, be given to the people of Sydney in the case of the stoppage of coal supplies. But if under the bill the powers of a State over trade and commerce within its own boundaries remain, then no relief can be given by the Commonwealth.
– That is not the position since the decision in the Engineers’ case. There is now no implied limitation derived from the first power granted under section 51.
– That, is an entire answer to my question. The position was certainly different for the first 20 years of our existence as a Commonwealth. This’ matter was then wholly within the ambit of State authority, and. we could make no law respecting it.
– That was the Harvester decision, and one or two others.
– Yes. But take the case of navigation. Assume that there is a failure in an essential service, such as steamer communication between various par ts in the State of New South Wales ; are we to understand that the decision in the Engineers’ casealso coversthat?
– It would not, extend the navigation power, but since that decision each power under section 51 is read independently, and. according to the natural meaning of its own words, apart from any implied prohibition relating to interference with intra-state trade
– The point in regard to navigation is most important, because its application is direct, not only in respect of Tasmania, but also in the case of New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia, whose coastline extends for thousands of miles. I want to know whether the bill will enable the Commonwealth to make a law to bring about the restoration of an essential service where it is intra-state.
– In relation to navigation ?
– Yes, under this power; but only for the protection of the public in case of interruption of essential services. I do not want to be understood as saying that this bill extends the navigation power. It gives a new power.
– At present there is grave doubt whether we have power to make laws in respect to intra-state navigation.
– Exactly - under the trade and commerce power, or under the navigation section; but this bill gives a new power.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Attorney-General has informed the House that the powers proposed to be given under the bill are far-reaching, and that they would give the Commonwealth authority and jurisdiction to supply any intrastate essential service that had been interrupted. I should like to elaborate that point. Industrial crises may arise wholly from a refusal of workmen to carry on their usual avocation; but they may also arise from the action of employers in locking out their employees. It is evident that one of the conditions precedent to the supplying of an essential service that has been interrupted is that the Commonwealth should have power over the instrumentalities of that service. Let us assume, for instance, that the ship-owners have refused to run their ships because an authority has determined that certain conditions must be obeyed ; or that the employees will not continue to work on the ships for the same reason ; or, at any rate, that so many of them have refused to do so, that it is impossible to run ships on a commercial basis. It is obvious that, in such a case, the Commonwealth must have authority over the instrumentalities that are necessary to supply that service, lt would appear, therefore, that our power of eminent domain would be extended to such a degree by this proposal that it would give us the right to acquire temporarily or permanently the vessels that would be necessary to supply that essential service. Similarly, let us assume that a strike or a lockout has occurred in the coal mines of New South Wales. It is clear that since coal can be obtained from nowhere but the mine, and that the employers or employees have refused to carry on their usual activity, an essential service has been interrupted. As a matter of fact, the supply of coal is interrupted now. The New South Wales Parliament passed an act which provided for a 44-hour working week; but there has been a decision by Mr. Hibble which is not acceptable to the engine-drivers.
– I do not think that this matter has any relation to the 44-houv week.
– I do not say that it has; but it is quite evident that a modus vivendi has been arrived at in regard to one matter, but not in regard to the other. The consequence, as an honorable member for Tasmania has informed us, is that the shipping service to Tasmania may be wholly interrupted. If that should happen, this Parliament will ha”e to acquire temporarily or permanently the use of the ships in order to supply the service. The right of eminent domain and the power to acquire property would carry with it, I imagine, the ancillary power to acquire the mines. Nothing short of that would place this Parliament in a position to supply the essential services that had been interrupted. If that is so, I ask the Attorney-General what remains to the States? If we can take the coal mines and the steam-ships, there must also be power to take the railways, and operate them. Suppose, that there is a strike in a State railway service, aud that the employees refused to work the trains. If these proposals are accepted, this Parliament would have the power to take over the railways, and operate them. It is quite true, of course, that Parliament, in those circumstances, might exercise its power only temporarily to bridge a gap; but if honorable members opposite were in office at the time, it might, acquire the railways permanently.
– It could not do that under these proposals.
– No, for the power deals only with the supply of essential services in an emergency.
– We are living at a time when the interruption of some essential service is always probable. I do not remember a time during the last ten or twenty years when some essential service has not been in jeopardy. Take the case of a wheat pool. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) suggested last night that conditions might be miposed by some authority which would make it impossible for the farmers to produce wheat and sell it profitably at world’s parity rates, and that the farmers might take steps to enforce a higher price for it. We have seen what has happened under the butter stabilization scheme. In such circumstances, are we to be powerless to protect those whom we represent? As a matter ‘ of fact, this proposed power would give us authority to acquire wheat, butter and everything else. The right of eminent domain would accompany the other rights of this Parliament. With all humility, I say that if approval is given to the proposals in this bill there will be no limit to our powers. I have no complaint about that, for we should have the power to supply the essentia] services without which the life of a civilized community cannot be maintained. I merely point these things out to show honorable members and the people generally how wide this proposed power will be. So far as I can see, there will be no limitations in it. Everything that was necessary could be done. As the late Chief Justice of the High Court (Sir Samuel Griffith), whose position corresponded with that of Chief Justice Marshall, of the United States of America, said on one occasion, it is inconceivable that the Constitution will contradict itself. It is obvious that, since under our federal system of government certain powers are vested in a State and others are vested in the Commonwealth, this new power must either completely impair the federal pact, not only in spirit but in substance, or else the words do not mean what they say. It may be necessary, in order to ensure the carrying on of an essential service, that the power of this Commonwealth over the military, for instance, shall be greatly extended. At present no military man can be called upon to maintain order in a State unless the State Government, in due form, requests the Commonwealth Government that he shall do it.
– The Commonwealth has other power than that to use. the military in upholding Commonwealth law.
– At present the Commonwealth can only permit the military authorities to be used in a State at the invitation of a State Government.
– It can act without invitation*.
– Only in connexion with Federal services.
– That is so. The honorable member is considering another sphere of activity entirely. I had in mind a matter which fell wholly within the ambit of the authority of the Government of, say, New South Wales or . Victoria.
– But the Commonwealth can uphold Commonwealth law within a State.
– In my view, this Commonwealth must be given power to maintain that degree of order which, in a disturbed state of affairs such as is postulated by an interruption of essential services, is absolutely necessary. Therefore the bill seeks to extend greatly our defence power, and our power over the military. ‘ At first sight I was utterly opposed to this proposal, but I shall not vote against it, because the powers given under the preceding proposed law are, in my opinion, inadequate to do that which the Government wishes to do, and the people wish to have done. To this Government there has been given the clear, direct, and plenary mandate that “ You shall do all things necessary to be done to maintain law and order.” While there were some subsidiary issues at the election, this Parliament was in the main, elected upon that issue. Thi? honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) very justly complained that this Government had not so emphatic a mandate in regard to the tariff as it had iu regard to this matter. Industrial trouble was nation wide, and the people were seized with the importance of giving the Commonwealth this power. The people are unable to grasp more than one great issue at a time, and on that occasion that was the issue they voted on. It is perhaps right for the Government, holding the views that it does, to supplement the incomplete power contained in the previous proposed law hy the very wide and almost indefinite power asked for under
I Iris bill. With this power almost anything cun be done, and under cover of it a government holding the views of honorable members of the Opposition could go a long way towards establishing that system of society which some honorable members regard with horror.
– -Is this the right honorable gentleman who once tried to frame a revolution in New South Wales
– If the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) had ventured this morning to sing the Red Flag, I would have sang in Welsh the National Anthem of my own country - “ Mae heu wlad fy nhaddan” - as a wholesome antidote, and I venture to say that its strains would have been accepted everywhere throughout Christendom - I say nothing of pagandom - as a convincing and crushing refutation of the statements in the stanza of the honorable member. This bill comes entirely as a surprise to me. The Government is opposed to giving this Parliament power to control industrial matters and trade and commerce, but in one capacious embrace it takes powers a hundred times greater than those it rejected, on the ground that we could not be trusted to exercise them.
– This is a proposed addition to the existing powers of the Commonwealth Parliament, and is not restricted by the existing powers; it is a new and additional power. In order to show the power that this proposal, if adopted, would confer upon the Parliament. . T purpose to discuss shortly certain existing constitutional provisions, to suggest how far the)’ go, to indicate in what respects they are insufficient, what the necessities of the case pre, and how the proposals before the House meet those necessities. In paragraph vi. of section 51 of the Constitution there is a provision under which the Parliament has power to legislate with respect to “the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth.” That paragraph deals with both naval and military forces and “ the forces.” It is directed to the provision of defence against external aggression, and that is more obviously so when it is read in conjunction with section 119, which relates to domestic violence within a State. This paragraph is the source of the defence power of the Commonwealth against external aggression. Section 61 provides that -
The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the King, and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the King’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution and of the laws of the Commonwealth.
Under those powers the only laws of the Commonwealth which can be executed and maintained are those passed under the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament as existing from time to time. Accordingly the only laws which force may be used to maintain or defend are laws made under the powers contained substantially in sections 51 and 52 of the Constitution. Under those sections there is no power to legislate with respect to what one may call a stoppage of essential services, save and except that, under the commerce power, which is confined to interstate and foreign commerce, it is possible to» pass laws penalizing interferences with foreign and interstate commerce. That, in fact, has been done in the Crimes Act passed during this session of the Parliament. That law, however, relates in this aspect only to the services of the Commonwealth and to foreign and interstate commerce. There is also in that act a further set of provisions dealing with revolutionary activities directed towards the overthrow of the Constitution and of the Government. There is, therefore, not in that act or in the Constitution any provision covering a stoppage of essential services that may be holding up the life of the e immunity, unless that stoppage is associated with an attack upon the Commonwealth or the States from outside, or unless it is accompanied by domestic violence and a State applies for the intervention of the Commonwealth. It is possible for the Commonwealth to protect its mail and other public services, and provision has been made for that in the Post and Telegraph Act and the more recent Crimes Act. It is also possible under the trade and commerce power contained in paragraph i of section 51 of the Constitution to prevent interference with interstate and foreign trade and commerce.
– I wish to raise a point of order. Is not the Attorney-General guilty of tedious repetition ? He has explained what he is now explaining several times, and we ought not to be compelled to listen to lectures from him.
– The honorable the AttorneyGeneral is in order, and his remarks are quite relevant to the bill.
– I shall endeavour to avoid wearying the honorable member. The Commonwealth is able to apply force only in pursuance of laws which it has power to pass, and the powers of passing laws, as honorable members know, are contained in the sections to which I have referred, moreparticularly sections 51 and 52. Section 119 provides that -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
A very plain distinction is drawn between invasion or external aggression and domestic violence. In respect to external aggression there is a duty laid upon the Commonwealth to protect the States, the words being, “ The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion.” On the other hand, the words used in relation to domestic violence are, “ The Commonwealth shall on the application of the Executive Government of the State” protect it against domestic violence. Therefore, in the case of domestic violence, the Commonwealth has no power unless the State asks it to intervene. If there should be a stoppage of essential services unaccompanied by domestic violence, which is quite a possibility, the Commonwealth would be powerless to intervene; the defence power would not operate,because, plainly, it would not be a case of invasion or of external aggression, and in the absence of domestic violence the Commonwealth, even if the State made application, would have no right to take any action.
– What does the honor- a ble gentleman mean by “domestic violence”?
– Simply violence within the borders ofa State.
– By employers us well as employees?
– Undoubtedly. If any individuals are guilty of violence, and a State considers that it is unable to cope with that violence, it may apply to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has the constitutional duty and the legal power to protect the State against that domestic violence. Such protection, however, is dependent upon the existence of domestic violence. If there were an organized hold-up of services, by either employers or employees, without violence, the Commonwealth would be powerless to do anything except run its mails, protect its civil services, and impose penalties upon any persons who were guilty of interfering with interstate tradeand commerce; it would not have the power to take any steps to bring the hold-up to an end. Thebill, therefore, proposes that power shall be conferred upon the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to protecting the interests of the public in the case of an actual or probable interruption of any essential service.
– The Commonwealth could take part in every industrial dispute.
– This power is not confined to industrial disputes. There might be a catastrophe of some kind which could be handled only by a strong government and upon a large scale. At present that cannot be done. It is a great mistake to regard this matter only from the point of view of industrial disturbances. The whole question is the preservation of essential services. It should be observed that the words used are not “ protecting the interests of the public ‘against’ an actual or probable interruption of any essential service.” A power to protectthe public “ against “ the interruption of any essential service would be of a vary far-reaching character. All kinds of legislation could possibly be justified as a protection “against” a probable interruption. The use of the words “ in case of “ shows that the power can be operated only in the event of an actual or probable interruption of an essential service.
– Who will have the determination of the matter?
– Necessarily, the High Court will have the duty of interpreting those words.
An Honorable Member. - What are essential services?
– 1 do not know whether it is desired that I should give a definition or a specification of essential services. I can very readily cite examples - fuel, water, food, and transport are obviously essential sendees.
– Should not the bill contain a definition of essential services?
– If they were set out in the bill the list would be so large as to prove embarrassing and difficult. The words used are sufficiently plain in themselves. This is essentially an emergency power. I particularly emphasize the distinction between a power to legislate for protecting the interests of the public “ against “ any actual or probable interruption, and a power to legislate “ in case of “ an actual or probable interruption. This power is additional to those which already exist. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), during the course of his speech, evidently had in his mind certain decisions of the High Court in the earlier years of the Commonwealth, when it was held that the true reading of the Constitution was that control over interstate and foreign trade and commerce was given to the Commonwealth, and that control over intra-state trade and commerce was reserved by the Constitution to the States. Since the decision in the Engineers’ ca-te was given, it has not been possible to maintain the second proposition. In order to make the matter clear to the right honorable member for North Sydney, I shall again read a few lines from the decision in the Engineers’ case, which was decided in 1920. They ave as follows: -
J.t is undoubted that those who maintain the authority of the Commonwealth Parliament to pass a certain law should be able to point to some enumerated power containing the requisite authority; but we also hold that where the affirmative terms of a stated power would justify an enactment, it rests upon those who rely on some limitation or restriction upon the power to indicate it in the Constitution.
The doctrine of implied prohibitions was overruled by the High Court in that case.
– The onus of proving that the power does not exist rests upon those who deny its existence; hut there is a prohibition.
– The Constitution does not contain any prohibition against interfering with the internal trade of the States. There is a positive provision that the Commonwealth Parliament may deal with foreign and interstate trade, and with a number of other subjects, many of which affect internal trade. This Parliament is able to legislate to the fullest extent upon those other subjects without any embarrassment arising from the fact that it has no power to legislate upon the internal trade of the States as such. Take insurance as an example; section 51 gives power to legislate on this subject. Insurance is frequently not a matter of external or interstate trade and commerce, but it probably falls under the head of trade and commerce. This Parliament has undoubtedly the full power to legislate upon insurance without excepting from its laws such insurance as affects intra-state trade or commerce.
– I rise to order. Should not the Attorney-General address the Chair? We on this side of the chamber are not able to hear a word of what he is saying.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley). - There is no point of order.
– The powers which are sought by this bill are, therefore, essentially emergency powers. They are designed to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to do more than impose penalties for breaches of laws relating to trade or commerce, industrial matters, or any other subject. The power to impose penalties in the case of unauthorized or illegal stoppages of essential services is a useful one, but it operates only after the event. In order to deal effectively with a stoppage of essential services, we must have power to do more than prosecute the individuals who are responsible for the interference. The Commonwealth must be able to step in and provide such services as the circumstances require. ‘ It should possess such a power, whatever the cause of the stoppage may be. It may be a catastrophe of a widespread character; it may be a lockout or a 3trike. Whether it be one or the other, the position is exactly the same; there is a responsibility upon the Commonwealth to preserve the life of the community, and this Parliament must have the power to exert its authority. The matter cannot safely be left in its present position. Several honorable members have referred to the coal position in Australia to-day. We are all aware that a large proportion of our coal supplies is obtained from an area that is very limited compared with
I he total area of the Commonwealth. If those States which control the coal areas are not prepared to ensure supplies to other States which have little or no supplies, what is to be done? Is the rest of Australia to suffer because of the inaction of a particular state in such a vital matter? Take the question of transport between Tasmania and the mainland. What action can be taken at the present time to ensure its continuance? We have certain powers which enable us to impose penalties ; but they will not keep the ships running. It is essential for that service to be maintained. In an emergency the power for which we are now asking would enable the Commonwealth to step in, provide the service, and give the necessary protection to those who were prepared to carry it on in the interests of the general community. There is at pre sent no legal method of exercising such a power. It is true that, with the consent of ship-owners, the Commonwealth may man vessels; but it has no power to compel the giving of that consent or to commandeer the ships. Neither has it any power to work coal mines, protect water supplies, or take food to the people. I have no hesitation in referring, by way of illustration, to the recent general strike in England. Whether it is called a strike or a lockout is immaterial. The lives of the people had to be safeguarded; they had to be provided with food, fuel, and necessary services. There must be in every community a power by the exercise of which in an emergency, whatever the emergency may be - whether it be a shipping strike or an industrial dispute of some other variety, or a national disaster - the people may be fed. Except at the will of the individual States there is at present no such power.
The proposed amendment will- provide it. For the last three days we have been urged to trust this Parliament’ to give it the fullest possible powers. It has been argued that Parliament would not exercise those powers unreasonably. What is the argument against this emergency power, the necessity for which cannot be denied?
– We asked for additional powers to be given under the other bill. It has been proved that we have not sufficient powers to enable us to govern the people.
– T venture to remind my honorable friend of the argument poured upon us from the front and right rear. The argument has been that we should take the fullest powers because we must trust Parliament, and there is no risk that it will abuse them. The argument was that it is quite improper to limit or restrain the action of this Parliament by providing that industrial powers should be exercised through authorities. What now is the argument from the Opposition against this bill? It is not an argument directed against the bill itself. It is an argument directed against possible abuses of the power asked for under the bill. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) may be reduced to this: “Look at the terrible things that may happen if this power is given to the’ Federal Parliament.” I submit to the House the proposition that there is not an effective system of government in Australia if there is not a power to protect the community of Australia as a whole, as distinguished from the communities of the separate States, in the case of an interruption of essential services. The object of this bill is to enable this Parliament in any such emergency to preserve the lives of the people, and I ask honorable members to support it.
.- The Attorney-General’s references to the position in Great Britain were rather unfortunate for himself. Although the general strike may have been defeated by the action of the British Government in the exercise of its powers under the Emergency Act, it did not of itself end the general strike; and Gre.at Britain is still very far from being free from its difficulties, in spite of the exercise of the emergency powers of the Government. I say that just as the British Government will not interfere with the coal barons of Britain, so the Commonwealth Government will not interfere with the coal barous of this country. The AttorneyGeneral has said I hat the emergency would be the same whether a disturbance holding up an essential service were the result of a strike or of a lockout ; but (here has never yet been an industrial disturbance which honorable members opposite have nol. called a strike. They would not think of attributing such a disturbance to a lockout. I was rather sorry that: the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was noi present iu the chamber when the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) spilled the beans, but I suppose he has heard of the honorable member’s speech since. The honorable member commenced iu a very moderate way. I le protested against the references of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to the use of the military in the settlement of an industrial (rouble, and said that nothing was further from his thoughts, or from those of the Government. Although the honorable member commenced his speech pacifically, he was not very long on his feet before he adopted his usual military style and gave us a fine example of the military despot. He gave us to understand what the Government would do if it were given this power. He forgot that when the Deportation Bill was under consideration he told us that if he had his way he would “ give it to them in the neck.” The honorable member said he would have taken men by the scruff of the neck at midnight, and, without a trial, put them on a war vessel and landed them on some island. He would not have waited for law and order to operate, but would have acted despotically, like a Mussolini. No doubt, the honorable member heard this bill discussed in tha Nationalist party’s room, and knows the interpretation which the Prime Minister put upon it, which was not disclosed to this chamber. He dealt with the trouble that, occurred in New South Wales in 1917, and told us what Sir George Fuller did. Does he desire that the Federal Government should obtain this power in order that it may do whit. Sir George Fuller did in New South Wales in 1917, because that could not be done to-day with the Labour Government in power in that State? Sir George Fuller sent down the mines blacklegs and scabs who knew nothing of mining, and risked their lives and those of their fellows. The mining laws of New South Wales were abrogated, and inexperienced men were sent into the mines at the risk of their lives and of those working with them. Does he desire that the Federal Government should be in a position to have to pay money to the coal-owners, as was done in New South Wales, when John Brown put in a claim for £17,000 for damages to his mines? The men who were sent into the coal mines in New South Wales did not know how to use the miners’ tools. These were the property of the miners who were on strike; but when they put in a paltry claim for £17 10s. for broken tools, the Government refused to meet it, though it gave John Brown £17,000 for alleged damages to his mines. Such things could not be done in New South Wales to-day, under a Labour government. Does the Government want this power to enable it to establish scab unions, as Sir George Fuller did ? The history of the waterfront in New South Wales from 1917 until the difficulties were settled under the present Labour Government, shows that the action taken by a Nationalist government in that State did more than anything else to dislocate essential services. In common with the Leader of the Opposition, I am suspicions of the proposed amendment of the Constitution. This is not a proposal to so amend the Constitution that the Federal Parliament shall have the necessary power to develop our national resources under uniform economic conditions. I do not accept the contention that it does not matter whether a disturbance is due to a lockout or a strike, because, whilst the party opposite is in power, it will never admit that any disturbance is due to a lockout. The introduction of this measure is a sign of weakness and not of strength on the part of the Government. It shows that it feels that it cannot govern the country without bringing about violence and trouble. A government that cannot administer the affairs of Australia without violence is trying to put something over the people which even a peaceful community cannot accept. It says that it wants this power to enable it to secure the continuation of essential services. There might be a slump in the coa] industry, and will the AttorneyGeneral or the Prime Minister tell me that, in such a case, the Government would step in and tell the coal miners that they must work the mines, even though they contend that they are being asked to work under unreasonable conditions? 1 have no doubt that the Government would interfere in that way. But will it step in to force a coal mine owner to work his mines? Not at all. We have in New South Wales a Masters and Servants Act which has often been used by Nationalist governments against the workers. There are many coal mines in the electorate which I represent, and many miners have been brought before the courts under the Masters and Servants Act and fined or imprisoned. There are mines in the district that are sometimes worked a three and four days’ shift. On other days the whistle is not blown and the miners cannot go down the mine, because the boss says there is no business doing. Still, there has never been a case in which a coal-owner has been brought before a court under the Masters and Servants Act for not working his mine. It is clear that this legislation will be used only to deal with the workers. One honorable member talked of 600 strikes, and of the loss to the community because of strikes. I can say that, if in a month in the coal industry £500 ha3 been lost in wages because of strikes, £1,500 has been lost in the same time because the boss has refused to blow the whistle and allow the men to go down his mine. I know of mines in Australia where the whistle has been blown only four days in a fortnight, and sometimes less often than that. Will the Government use this legislation to compel mine-owners to give the miners continuous work ? We know that it will not, and that the power asked for will be used only against the workers. The honorable member for Warringah let the cat out of the bag. This measure is submitted because what the Government desires to do cannot now be done in five out of the six States, where Labour governments are in power.
– This legislation does not suit the honorable member. That is his trouble.
– I frankly admit that the interests of the trade unionists are fi. r move important to me than are the interests of the bosses. I have stated that not only in this House, but from public platforms. Still, the party on this side has always recognized ihat employers as well as employed have interests which should be preserved. The right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) deprecated the statement of Mr. Justice Higgins that in awarding a living wage he could not consider whether or not the industry concerned could afford it. The outstanding feature of the speeches made upon these referendum proposals by honorable members opposite is their conviction that property, profit, and private interest are more important than the conditions under which human beings live. Such an outlook is the very basis of slavery. I am not prepared to ask the people to agree to this amendment of the Constitution. Any honorable member who has followed closely this debate, and the analysis of the constitutional powers, must have come to the conclusion that the fire-place is the proper place for the Constitution. I would welcome an opportunity to recommend the people to make the Commonwealth Parliament supreme in all things; but while the sovereignty of the States is recognized, I shall not ask the people to give power to this Parliament to override State legislatures which are functioning in the interests of the people and will not use force to intimidate the workers. So long as the sovereignty of the State is admitted, their rights in industrial matters must be recognized, and I shall not consent to pub the State Governments at the mercy of a central Government that is hostile to every principle for which the majority of them stand. I hope the Government will yet appreciate the wisdom of not persisting with this proposal at this stage. If the excuse for seeking these additional powers now is that an emergency exists to-day, I remind honorable members opposite that three or four months must elapse before this Parliament can legislate in the exercise of those powers. By that time the emergency that exists in the coal-mining industry will probably have passed. If this Parliament does not meet again until the return of the Prime Minister from England, the additional power will not be exercised before May of next year. It seems to me that the Government has been intimidated by the Age and the Argus anr] its conservative supporters, to associate this bill with the other referendum proposal in the hope that one will defeat the other. The Government will be able to tell the people that it is trying to carry out their mandate in regard to the establishment of industrial peace, whereas it is, by means of this bill and the endeavour to abolish the per capita payments to the States, creating an atmosphere so hostile to the Federal legislature that the defeat of the referendum proposals will be assured.
.- This measure will have my whole-hearted support. 1 admit that I have some doubt as to whether the industrial problem can be dealt with the more effectively by State or by Commonwealth instrumentalities j but I am convinced that this Parliament should have an emergency power to ensure the continuance of essential services. No other national Parliament is without such power. Honorable members opposite are inconsistent in advocating that the National Parliament should have complete power in respect of industry, trade and commerce, and yet opposing the grant to it of a small measure of authority to deal with a matter of vital importance to every section of the community. Other speakers have quoted the peculiar position of Tasmania in support of their contention that the Commonwealth should have power in any emergency, to intervene and provide essential services. Naturally, I am particularly concerned in the hardships that may be imposed upon the State I represent by the cessation of the coastal shipping services through industrial turmoil. These services have been interrupted in the past, and, doubtless, will be in the future, whatever tribunals may be set up . for the settlement of industrial disputes. My attitude on this question disregards entirely the source whence the trouble emanates. Suppose that the owners of the ships operating, between the mainland and Tasmania decided not to run those vessels unless the seamen would comply with the conditions they imposed, hoping thereby to cause the aggrieved people in Tasmania to bring such influence to hear upon the Government and the seamen that the latter would be compelled to accept the owners’ terms; if honorable members opposite were in office, would they not desire to be able to compel the owners to provide a service that is essential to Tasmania? Or do they prefer that the Commonwealth Parliament should not have power to act in such an emergency, lest the present Government should use its authority arbitrarily? Such an attitude presupposes that the Labour party will never be in office, and that its distrusted opponents will hold the reins of government for all time. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) said that at no time had the provisions of the Masters and Servants Act in New South Wales been put into operation against the employers when they refused to work their mines. As Labour has at different times been in office in the State Parliament, the honorable member’s statement is as much an indictment of Labour government as of any other. Whoever may be responsible for the holding up of services that are vital to the community should be amenable to the power of this Parliament. If the actions of either employers or employees, or both, result iu the interruption of food supplies or any essential services, the offending party should be dealt with by the Federal authority, and the food supplies and services restored in the interests of the general community. It must not be supposed that we are asking for these powers as a means of breaking strikes. The only argument advanced against the bill by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was that the Commonwealth Government wished to use the military power to break a strike by compelling the workers, at the point of the bayonet, to resume their employment. We are accustomed to wild statements by some honorable members of the Labour party, but such an assertion by the Leader of the Opposition surprised the House. His statement was absurd, and indicated the lengths to which the honorable gentleman was driven in finding reasons for opposing the bill. The honorable member seemed to think that in the case of a disturbance only regular soldiers could be called out. I remind him that practically the whole of the Commonwealth Forces are composed of volunteers, and that they and the regular soldiers subscribe to the same oath. There is not the least doubt that if either body were called upon to maintain law and order it would do its duty, no matter which unit or arm of the service it belonged to. It is absurd to say that thepeople outside believe that these powers are being asked for to enable the Commonwealth Government to call out the military forces in case of a strike. It is absolutely necessary that this Parliament should have the powers asked for, because in the case of the dislocation of essential services, in Tasmania or elsewhere, the State Government concerned could not take action. Tasmania might be vitally affected by a shipping hold-up. The mines on the west coast - Mount Lyell, for instance - might be closed down, and workmen thrown out of employment, solely because coal for railways and mining machinery were not available. In such an event, the Tasmanian Government would be powerless to act. It is, therefore, essential that the powers asked for under this bill should be given to this Parliament, so that, if necessary, prompt and effective action could be taken to provide essential services. What power has a State Government to control shipping companies or mine-owners, whose operations extend to other States, and whose business is controlled from a head office situated elsewhere, if they suspend their services ? None whatever. The Commonwealth Government should have power to act in the interests of the States that are vitally affected by the discontinuance of essential services. I shall give the bill my whole-hearted support. I am certain, despite what has been said to the contrary, that if both proposals are placed before the people the referendum will have a better chance of being carried.
.- Rarely is so much asked for in a bill consisting of but a few words; but it would be difficult to define what we could not do under this bill respecting any of the activities of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– A service that was not essential could not be interfered with.
– What is an essential service?
– We could not interfere with one that was not interrupted.
– Yes, we could; the honorable member, in saying that, is not so astute in his reasoning as he usually is.
– Or one that was not threatened.
– What is an essen tial service? When we come to interpret that vague term we must consider what would be a probable interruption of such a service. There, again, this bill gives extensive powers. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) mentioned, as a case in point, a shipping hold-up. We could go even deeper into probabilities of interruption of services and say that under the bill we could, under certain circumstances, acquire the product of the primary producers. Let us assume that the wheat-growers decided to form a pool and to fix the price of wheat at an excessive rate, and because of that the organized workers in a certain industry struck work. It is quite possible that, under these powers, the government of the day could commandeer the wheat or fix the price of it in order to remove the cause of the strike.
– If wheat were sold at a prohibitive price, why should not the Government interfere ?
– I hasten to assure the honorable member that I should not for one moment contend that the Government should not interfere. I am trying to make clear to the House that although I support the bill, I recognize its far-reaching nature. Honorable members opposite are in a cleft stick. They may blow hot and cold on the question of the supremacy of this Parliament, but I do not intend to do so. The point raised by the Attorney-General is one thatthe Opposition should answer, namely, that last evening they argued that Parliament should have complete control of the industrial tribunals of this country, and in less than 24 hours afterwards they argued that Parliament should not have power over essential services. I, for one, wish to be logical. I follow my convictions whether they are for or against the Government. It has been said that if additional powers are given to the Commonwealth, it will have the right to call out the military forces, armed with bayonets, to protect the interests of the public. I say that the Parliament should have that power, but I submit that in the last analysis it is a question not so much of trusting Parliament, even with these additional powers, as of trusting the people, who, after all are the masters of Parliament. I certainly stand foursquare to the right of the parliaments of this country, particularly of the National Parliament, to have full power in any direction to safe-guard the interests of the people.
.- I regret that the Government has seen fit to introduce into this National Parliament panic legislation that is likely, if given effect, to cause serious injury to Australia. There are two sides to any dispute.If the Government allowed its responsibility to rest more upon trusted officials or authorities, many industrial disputes would be prevented. It is not out of place to refer to an incident that occurred in England in my youthful days. A riot broke out in connexion with the land question, and the public were very much disturbed. An eminent member of the British Parliament, a man of high morals and humanitarian ideas, was approached by the civil authorities and asked to accept the assistance of the military to guard the precincts of Parliament House. He informed them that it would be time to take action when the police force could not cope with the situation. He made inquiries, ascertained the cause of the disturbance, and removed it. In my opinion, the Government is actuated by a desire to minimize as far as possible the good influence of the five State Labour Governments in Australia. I feel sure that the Attorney-General will regret before very long that he introduced this bill. Surely honorable members opposite donot think that a single member of the Labour party desires to hinder the progress of Australia or harm any one in it. The right honorable member for North Sydney(Mr. Hughes) knows better than most honorable members the sacrifices that were made to win the advantages that the Australian workmen now enjoy. Our conditions are the envy of the people on the other side of the world. We have an educated democracy here which is not likely to consent to a proposal of this kind. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) has indicated that under the provisions of the bill it will be possible to call out the military to quell any disturbance that may arise. That has only been done in the history of Australia during the Victorian railways strike years ago, when the military was ordered “ to shoot low.’’ When Mr. Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister he received ten urgent telegrams from one State requesting the help of the military in crushing an industrial dispute. He paid a visit to the disturbed locality, and found that there was no justification for military interference. In my opinion, if the proposals in this bill are adopted tyranny of the worst kind will follow. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate, with requests.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is within the knowledge of honorable members that some time ago the British Government appointed a committee, called the Imperial Economic Committee, representative of His Majesty’s Government and the Governments of the selfgoverning Dominions, India and the Colonies and Protectorates, with the following terms of reference: -
To consider the possibility of improving the methods of preparing for market and marketing within the United Kingdom the food products of the oversea parts of the Empire with a view to increasing the consumption of such products in the United Kingdom in preference to imports from foreign countries, and to promote the interests both of producers and consumers.
One of the objects of the committee is to recommend schemes for the expenditure to the best advantage of the grant of £1,000,000 which His Majesty’s Government is making available to secure for producers in the oversea parts of the Empire a larger share of that portion of the United Kingdom market in food stuffs which has to be supplied by importations from abroad. Inquiries have been conducted by this committee into the marketing of meat and fruit, and the Commonwealth has been represented on it bySir Mark Sheldon, K.B.E., and Mr. F. L. McDougall. The committee is now turning its attention to the marketing of dairy produce in Great Britain.The Commonwealth Government, which is entitled to two representatives on the committee, asked Mr. W.H. Clifford, a member of the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Control Board, who is at present in England, to act with Mr. McDougall during the inquiry into dairy produce, and he has now intimated that he is agreeable to do so. Mr. Clifford has had an extensive experience in the dairy produce industry, and is a director of the well-known North Coast Butter Company of New South Wales.It is hoped that the inquiry will be terminated in time for the report of the committee to be made available at the Imperial Conference to be held in October.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Some observationsI made this morning, when speaking on the motion for the special adjournment until Monday next, seemed to reflect upon the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), for which I am exceedingly sorry. When I rose to speak nothing was further from my mind than to refer to the honorable gentleman, and it was as much a surprise to me that I did so as that my remarks were in such terms as to cause him umbrage. Upon consideration, I see that they were quite inexcusable. I wish to assure the honorable gentleman that I had no intention of making any personal reflection on him, and I am exceedingly sorry that I did so.
– I appreciate the action of the right honorable member for North Sydney in making that public statement, and I assure him that I bear him no ill will for what he said, and accept his explanation.
.- This morning, when the Prime Minister was replying to the debate on the motion for the special adjournment of the House, he saw fit to make certain observations in regard to myself which were not only grossly offensive, but quite unjustified. On Friday, the 8th instant, I asked the honorable the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) whether it was the intention of the Government, to hasten the passage of the States Grants Bill, so as to push it through another place before the 1st July, when the new senators will take their seats. Although the Treasurer replied at some length, he did not answer that part of the question. I again asked the same question of the right honorable the Prime Minister to-day, and he said, in effect, that if good and sufficient reasons were shown for delaying the bill it would be delayed. My object was to obtain an assurance that the bill would not be rushed through, or to secure some publicity for the fact that a bill of such importance might be passed through the Senate by senators who were politically dead. I had not noticed that on to-day’s business-paper there were motions for leave to introduce bills to repeal the entertainmentstax, the land tax, and the estate duty. Those notices of motion, and the remarks of the honorable the Treasurer, indicate that the Government desires to make provision for lending money to the Status to enable this proposal to be carried through by the end of the financial year.I enter my emphatic protest against such haste. The right honorable the Prime Minister may look upon it as a reflection, but to me the decision to meet on Monday indicates a desire to have the bill passed before the end of the financial year. I shall do all I can to prevent that from being done.
– I wish to ask the right honorable the Prime Minister two questions concerning the dried-fruits industry. I have received an intimation from the Minister for Markets and Migration (Sir Victor Wilson) that if the Parliament passes the Migration Bill now before it the proposed inquiry into the dried fruits industry will be submitted to the Developmental Board to be appointed under that act. If that is the intention, will the Prime Minister urge that the matter shall be the first to be dealt with by the board ? It is twelve months since the request for the inquiry was made, and the growers have been patiently awaiting an announcement, on the subject.
My second question relates to the growers’ application for a bounty on the export of last year’s crop of lexias and currants. This is not a question that belongs to the past, but rather one that has a vital bearing on the present. The growers are now preparing for their next year’s crop, and are dependent on financial institutions forassistanc e. TheGovernment is in possession of figures which, I think, prove conclusively that the growers sustained a serious loss last year, which has made the financial institutions loath to assist them. I urge him to say yea or nay to the growers’ request immediately.
– Within the last few days I have signed letters communicating with the States of South Australia and Victoria, which are concerned in the question raised by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), relating to the dried-fruits industry, informing them that this Government considers the best course to adopt for the inquiry is to wait until the proposed measure for the appointment of a developmental board has been passed through this Parliament, and to refer the matter to that board. I appreciate the honorable member’s contention that this matter hasbeen too long delayed, and I shall do all inmy power to have it dealt with at the earliest possible date after the board has been constituted.
The Government will take into consideration the question of paying a bountyon the export of last year’s crop of lexias and currants, and will give a definite decision at the earliest possible moment.
I took strong exception this morning to certain remarks of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and nothing be has said this afternoon has changed my view that it was most offensive for an honorable member to express the view that the Government intended to do something to prevent the proper consideration of its proposals. The Government has no such intention. I also took exception to the statement of the honorable member that the Govern ment has unduly pressed the States Grants Bill forward, and has taken an unusual course in suspending the Standing Orders. I said then, and the way in which the honorable member has presented his case has convinced me that my remarks were correct, that he was trying to convey an impression that the facts do not warrant. I should like to bo able to say to him that I regret the statement I made this morning; but, unfortunately, I cannot do that, because I still hold the same view. It is not the Government’s intention to take advantage of the fact that there will be a change in the personnel of the Senate at the end of the present financial year. That reply is clear, specific, and definite.
I feel that I should say a word about the remarks of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). I took strong exception this morning to what he said about the honorable the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). The right honorable gentleman has now followed a course which does him great credit, by making an ample apology. To make such an apology, and to publicly acknowledge that he waswrong, shows that he is a big man, whom we can all admire even though we differ from him in our views on some matters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260611_reps_10_113/>.