11th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform the House that, accompanied by honorable members, Iwaited this day upon His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House, and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s speech at the opening of Parliament, which was agreed to by the House on the 7th instant. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply -
Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen,
I receive with much pleasure the Address which has been adopted by the House of Representatives in reply to the speech which I delivered on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the 11th Parliament of the Commonwealth, and I thank you for your expression of loyalty to His Majesty the King.
– In view of the importance of the disallowance of awards of the Public Service Arbitrator, awards which involve considerations of public finance, and having regard to the fact that this House was recently elected by the votes of the people, will the Prime Minister promise that any motion to disallow determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920-1928, Nos. 33 to 36 inclusive, of 1928, shall be submitted to this House for debate and decision?
– I shall give consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member.
– As three times as much labour as is required is now available on the waterfront at Port Adelaide, will the Minister for Industry, having regard to the serious extent of unemployment and distress amongst the workers in that district, take steps to discontinue the further registration of transport workers for a period of at least three months?
-For many years there has been a surplus of labour at the waterside, and all efforts made to prevent the resulting evils by introducing a system of permanent employment have failed. The proposal of the honorable member would not alleviate the distress existing at Port Adelaide. A licence is not a guarantee of work, and the amount of employment available is not affected by the number of licences issued.
Delay in Replying to Correspondence.
– On the 15th December I inspected certain files at the Sydney office of the Repatriation Department, but as the time available on the Saturday morning did not allow of my copying some extracts I wanted, I requested that they should be forwarded to me. To that no objection was offered. On the 17th January, I wrote to the department asking if the informa tion was yet available. Of that letter I received no acknowledgment. I wrote again on the 31st January, and to date have received no reply. As nearly nine weeks have elapsed since I first applied to the department in Sydney for this information, I ask the Minister for Repatriation to give instructions that it shall be supplied forthwith, and also that in future replies to correspondence from honorable members shall be given as soon as possible
– I shall investigate the honorable member’s complaint and let him have a full reply.
– Will the Treasurer issue the instruction that the payments to old-age pensioners shall be made partly in silver, or in whatever currency would be most convenient to the old people?
– I have discussed this matter with the Commissioner of Pensions, and he thinks that it will be practicable to let the pensioners have their money in whatever form they desire.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs endeavour to expedite a settlement of the claims of persons who use petrol for launches and other purposes which do not involve wear and tear of roads, and are, therefore, entitled to a rebate of the petrol tax?
– This matter is now under consideration, and I am hopeful that the difficulties which hitherto have prevented the payment of a rebate will be shortly removed.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs referred to the Tariff Board or the special inquiry officers of his department, the refusal of certain wholesale firms to allow manufacturers of woollen piece goods to brand on the selvedge their trade mark or the words “Made in Australia”?
– That matter is now under consideration.
British Treaties with European Countries
– Yesterday I directed a question to the Minister for Markets regarding the Anglo-Portuguese Wine Treaty. Does the Minister know that a similar treaty exists between Great Britain and Spain, and does he not recognize that both these agreements operate to the detriment of wine makers within the Empire?
– I am aware of the existence of certain treaties between Great Britain and European countries affecting the nomenclature of wines. Honorable members will admit that Great Britain is entitled to make such treaties and has always enjoyed the reputation of meticulously honouring its international contracts.
– Does the Minister know that this subject has been brought before the British Cabinet, and that its members are divided almost equally on the question whether the Anglo-Portuguese treaty and the treaty with Spain should continue ? I ask the Minister to stress this point when he is making representations to the
British Government, so that the interests of the people of this country may be safeguarded.
– Thehonorable member appears to be much better informed than I am about the feeling within the British Cabinet.
– I have had the opportunity of learning something about the matter.
– It must be acknowledged that Great Britain has the right to make whatever treaties she desires to make, even though they may appear disadvantageous to Australia. Questions of this kind can be best raised and dealt with at imperial economic conferences.
– Is the Minister aware that at the present time there are in London many thousand gallons of Australian wines - I think 10,000 gallons - that are unsaleable because of the fact that foreign wines have, under certain treaties, been imported into London and sold there at a rate lower than that at which Australian wines can be sold?
– The honorable member is misinformed as to the quantity of Australian wines in London at present ; it is unfortunately much greater than he has stated. He is also in error in saying that foreign countries in sending wines to Great Britain are at an advantage over Australia. Foreign wines entering Great Britain at present are dutiable at 4s. a gallon more than the rate paid on similar Australian wines.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of making representations to the British Government respecting the possible adverse effect of the Anglo-Portuguese trade treaty, and if that treaty, on examination, is found to be adversely affecting the Australian wine trade, will he take immediate steps to remedy the position ?
– There are two forms of representation that can be employed. One is the official communication of government with government. That form of representation is not used by the Australian Government in its dealings with the British Government on any matter relating to the domestic policy of Great Britain. The only break of that tradition occurs when an Imperial conference is held and full representations are made concerning matters under discussion. This particular question has been the subject-matter of representations by me at two Imperial conferences, and as a result considerable modifications of great benefit to Australia have been made by Great Britain. There can be also unofficial representation which is carried on continuously, as Mr. McDougall, the representative of the Commonwealth upon the Imperial Economic Committee, is always in close touch with British departments and Ministers, and I can give the House the assurance that the interests of Australia are not being neglected in any way.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the following paragraph which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 9th February : -
At the Quarter Sessions, which concluded to-day before Judge Mocatta, his Honor made some caustic remarks’ about the immigration authorities in the case of Maurice Gill, a migrant, who pleaded guilty to a charge of shooting at Stanley Bertram Hallam, at Bonshaw, on January 4, with intent.
Mr. O’Halloran, who appeared for accused, said he was only18 years old when he left England. He was of low mentality, and had been an inmate of an asylum there for some time.
The Judge said it was shocking that the authorities should allow persons who were affected mentally to come to this country. In sentencing Gill to two years’ imprisonment, with hard labour, he said there was no doubt he was mentally deficient, and in some degree incapable of appreciating the effect of his action. The doctors did not say that his condition warranted incarceration in on asylum. If he was officially informed before two years expired that he was sane and a fit person to be at large he would recommend his release. “On the face of it,” his Honor added, “the authorities have been unfair to us.”
As this is the second occasion upon which Judge Mocatta has criticized the immigration policy of the Commonwealth when sentencing mentally affected migrants to imprisonment for offences, will the Prime Minister ensure that a more stringent examination of migrants, particularly as to their mentality, is made?
– Yesterday I answered a question upon notice regarding the number of migrants who, during a number of years, have been incarcerated in mental homes. Fortunately, the percentage is very low. I also referred the honorable gentleman to a statement that I had previously made in the House respecting the medical examination to which all intending migrants to Australia are submitted. I shall have full inquiries made into the case in question. We are at all times watching closely the administration to ensure that the provisions for medical examination are properly and thoroughly carried out.
– Constant complaints are being made about the debris thrown into Sydney Harbour, and I ask the Minister to make an investigation into the report made to me to-day by an alderman of the Paddington Council that on Saturday morning last rubbish from the Naval Depot at Rushcutter’s Bay was emptied upon the foreshore of that bay.
– I shall bring under the notice of the Minister concerned the question which the honorable member has asked and obtain a report from him forthwith.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the House the papers relating to the disappearance of Mr. Julian Simpson from a public department of this country and to his subsequent re-appearance in that department and his appointment to his former position?
– I shall look into the matter. Whatever papers are available, I shall place on the table of the House.
– I ask the Prime Minister if there is any interchange of opinions between the Government of Great Britain and the governments of the dominions in relation to the various commercial treaties that are entered into from time to time, and, if so, was the Australian Government consulted or advised in regard to the treaty entered into between the Government of South Africa and Germany?
– There is no consultation between the various parts of the Empire in relation to contemplated commercial treaties. The making of trade treaties is regardedas lentirely the concern of the member of the Empire which makes them ; but, as a matter of courtesy, it is the general practice when negotiations are proceeding in relation to commercial treaties to inform the other members of the Empire what is being done. After the South African Government had negotiated with the German Government, it, as an act of courtesy, advised Great Britain and the other selfgoverning dominions of what it had done.
– Will the Prime Minister tell the House the amount paid in tips by the members of the British Economic Mission during their stay at the Hotel Canberra?
– A question has already been asked as to the expenditure incurred in connexion with the visit of the British
Economic Mission, and I have replied that the figures would be supplied as soon as they were available.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Compensation to Dismissed Employees
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Housing - Rating - Transport of School Children
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The compilation of the information desired by the honorable member will entail a considerable amount of work on the part of the officers of the Federal Capital Commission. To supply the particulars asked for in Question No. 8, it will be necessary to prepare a tabulated statement in respect of more than 600 houses. It will be some time before the particulars are available. Immediately the information has been compiled, it will be supplied to the honorable member.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:
The notices in regard to the 1929 rate payable by holders of leases under the City Area Leases Ordinance will be issued early in April, and 90 days will be allowed for payment.
Dr. MALONEY (through Mr. Fenton) asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
4 and 5. I am advised that in New South Wales free rail transport is available to children attending State and non-State schools for primary and secondary education. On the metropolitan and -suburban tramway systems, school children are granted concessions, being charged Id. for three 2d. sections. Concessions in respect of transport by other means of conveyance are on a mileage basis and operate as indicated by the honorable member. The trams and trains in New South Wales are run for general purposes, whereas a special bus service has to be provided in Canberra for the transport of school children.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the value of - (a) imports and (b) exports for the financial year ended 30th June, 1928, to and from -
What are the figures for the half-year ended 31st December, 1928?
– The information will be obtained as far as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the recent air fatality at Richmond, New South Wales, when a local resident was decapitated by a low-flying airplane, and in view of the constant low flying of airplanes over cities and towns, will an emphatic warning be published that the regulations against such practice will be rigidly enforced?
– Breaches of the regulation dealing with low flying to the danger of the public have been in the past and will in the future be severely dealt with. In certain cases sufficient evidence has not been available to support charges, but the honorable member may be assured that those responsible for administering the regulations are most anxious to prevent low flying which may be dangerous to the public.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am advised by the Public Service Board as follows : -
Dismissals from Postal Department.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable member is being obtained.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The necessary plant is being purchased and will be installed shortly.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Have the investigations been completed regarding the proposed establishment of automatic telephone facilities at Victoria Park; if so, is it intended to proceed with the proposal ?
– The site is being purchased for the proposed new exchange. The specification and plans are in hand for the erection of a suitable building thereon and the installation of equipment for the exchange.
Staff - Upkeep
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Report of Commission of Inquiry
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I have nothing to add to the answer given to the honorable member in reply to his question without notice on this subject yesterday.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– Indentured labour is not engaged on cargo boats in North Australia, but in December last the SubCollector of Customs at Darwin reported that the launch that made monthly trips to the lighthouse with stores was unfit for further service, and that there was no suitable launch available to replace it. He asked for approval to use a pearling lugger with crew for the December trip. In January the Sub-Collector advised that a settler at Adelaide River was reported to be without rations and desired to hire a pearling lugger and crew to convey relief, and stated that he was satisfied no other boat would be available for two weeks, when the lugger on which the settler relied would be under repairs. The Sub-Collector recommended that approval be given for the lugger to make the trip to the Adelaide River, and also to take stores to the lighthouse, for which no other vessel had yet been obtained. In the special circumstances of both cases approval was given by my department.
Recommendation of Development and Migration Commission
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What action is the Government taking with regard to the recommendations of the Development and Migration Commission to assist the gold-mining industry?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The recommendations of the Commission involve questions which require the joint consideration of the Commonwealth and State Governments and will be discussed at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, which it is expected will be held at an early date. In the meantime, in order that full information may be available to the conference, the Commonwealth has taken steps to arrange for the Commonwealth and State officials concerned to meet in Canberra during the present month, to discuss the following matters: -
The effect of mining laws at present in force on the development of the gold-mining industry ;
The present methods of taxation applicable to the gold-mining industry; and to submit recommendations in regard thereto.
Tariff Board’s Report
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Equipment of Broadcasting Stations
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In all contracts the Postmaster-General’s Department gives the greatest possible consideration to Australian tenders, and naturally will follow the same policy in regard to the equipment needed for broadcasting stations.
Transfer of Employees
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Compensation to former employees of the Line has been confined to members of the shore staff of the Line, and does not extend to the seagoing staff. All claims by former members of the shore staff have been adjusted.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What allowances, if any, have been paid to the members of the Board on account of
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Markets and Transport, upon notice -
– The prices fixed by the Department are the minimum prices which may be paid for grapes which produce wine upon which export bounty is payable. If the standard prices are not paid for the grapes, the export bounty on the wine would be refused.
asked the Minister for Markets and Transport, upon notice -
In view of the desperate condition . of the canning fruit industry, will he indicate when a decision will be reached in connexion with the representations recently made for the payment of an export bounty?
– Arrangements are now being made for the holding of a conference early next week between representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments of New South Wales and Victoria with a view to arriving at an early decision in this matter.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I would refer the honorable member to the statement furnished by me on the 21st September, 1928, in reply to a question in this House by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Hansard pp. 6951-2) which contains, inter alia, particulars of the commissions and boards at present in existence. The information asked for by the honorable member in his second question will be compiled, and communicated to him as soon as possible.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) asked me whether I would lay upon the table of the House all the communications which had passed between myself and representatives of the Timber Workers Union and the employers of the timber industry. I replied that, so far as I knew, all such communications had already” appeared in the press. But I find to-day, on reference to yesterday’s press, that a telegram which I received yesterday has not been published. I have sent a copy of it to the honorable member, and if he desires me to do so I shall lay it upon the table.
– I lay upon the table-
Report of the inquiry into the charges made against Mr. M. L. Shepherd, Secretary for
– I do not propose at the moment to move such a motion, but I will look into the matter to see whether an opportunity can be provided for such a discussion.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce - By leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913- 1920, the following members be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz., Mr. Anstey, Mr. Forde, Mr. Grosvenor Francis, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Albert Green, Mr. Roland’ Green, and Mr. Prowse.
Debate resumed from 13th February (vide page 221), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Transport Workers Act 1928.
.- I move -
That the word “ amend “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ repeal “.
A motion for leave to bring in a bill is usually regarded as a formality, and any discussion of the subject-matter of it is deferred to a later stage. I do not at present propose to discuss in detail the effects of the Transport Workers Act, but I am taking this opportunity to bring before honorable members the desirableness of repealing the measure. The Governor-General’s speech contained a paragraph to the effect that the Government intended to introduce a measure to embody in the Transport Workers Act the substance of the regulations which had been made under it. Honorable members who have seen those regulations will realize that they are as bad as we on this side of the chamber anticipated that they would be. Both the act and the regulations are so obnoxious that in our opinion they cannot be satisfactorily amended. By far the best thing to do is to repeal the act, for it is fundamentally wrong. It was passed by Parliament in a spirit of revenge, and is vicious in its operation. Such legislation cannot do other than arouse class* antagonism. It incites men to revolt and brings the law into contempt. If the Government is sincere in its desire to uphold law and order, I suggest that the best thing it can do is to remove the Transport Workers Act from the statute-book. That measure cannot bring us nearer to industrial peace ; it can only drive us farther away from it. That has been demonstrated already. The act was brought into operation during the waterside workers’ dispute, with the result that persons who desired employment on the waterfront had to obtain licences. In the ports of Fremantle and Melbourne the dispute had not lasted a week before the men were back at work under the award. But because of the provisions of this act they were informed that they must cease work because they were not licensed. The consequence was that the dispute was prolonged. The act did nothing to restore peace, but actually retarded the settlement of the dispute. That must always be the effect of legislation conceived in the spirit of revenge. For this reason I say that the sooner such measures are removed from the statutebook the better it will be for the Commonwealth. I know that certain Government supporters have boasted that the act has smashed the “Waterside Workers Federation; but that is an idle boast. All such boasts are idle, as may be learned by a glance through the pages of industrial history. There never has been, and there never will be, an instance of the smashing of a union bringing about industrial peace. It is a poor thing for those who talk so fluently about the desirableness of peace in industry to boast that by class legislation of the worst kind they have smashed a trade union.
– It is hypocrisy.
– That is so.
– At any rate, Mr. Speaker, it does not say much for the sincerity of such honorable members. What is embodied in the regulations, the substance of which it is now proposed to include in the Transport Workers Act? Is there anything whatever to justify their inclusion in it ? I think I can show by one illustration that there is not. One of the regulations provides that if a transport worker refuses any lawful order of his employer his licence may be cancelled, and if at any time within 12 months he applies for another licence he will render himself liable to a penalty of £10. It is logical for us to suppose that if the licensing system is to be applied to one industry it may be applied to all. Let us assume for a moment that the system has been adopted generally. If, in such circumstances, a worker disobeyed a lawful order of his employer and had his licence cancelled, he would not be able to apply for another licence for 12 months. This would mean that he would not be able to work during that period. That is the kind of thing that must follow bitter and hostile legislation of this kind, and for that reason I move to amend the motion, with the object of repealing the act.
– I am a little amazed that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) should have submitted an amendment to the motion for leave to introduce this bilL and that he should ask the House to sanction not an amendment, but the repeal, of the Transport Workers Act. tt is only two or three months since the general election was held. Has the honorable gentleman forgotten what happened when we appealed to the people, and what was the verdict concerning the Government’s action in connexion with the trouble last year on the waterfront? I was privileged during the election campaign to speak in five of the States, and on every occasion when I referred to the legislation passed to ensure the licensing of transport workers, it was obvious that the Government’s action had commended itself to the people generally. I remind honorable members opposite also that the measure passed last year was absolutely essential to safeguard the interests of the people. For some time prior to the passage of the Transport Workers Bill a certain section of trade unionists had declared its intention to hold up the sea carriage of goods, an industry vital to the welfare of Australia. To protect the people from such a disaster, the Government brought down a measure to deal with . the trouble on the waterfront. The bill was passed by Parliament and was ratified by the people who returned the Government to power. Have honorable gentlemen opposite forgotten what I said in this House when the bill in question was under discussion? Do not they recall that I declared it to be an emergency measure to safeguard the interests of the people, and that as time was not available in the closing hours of the session to deal fully with the trouble by way of legislation, if returned to power I would submit a measure to embody in a bill the regulations made under the Transport Workers Act? If I failed now to bring down this measure I should be guilty of a gross breach of an undertaking which I gave to the people. I said then that the Government’s only desire waa to ensure peace upon the waterfront by a continuity of essential services. I indicated also that I would be prepared to consider any suggestion for an improvement of the methods adopted by the Government. That is the Ministry’s attitude to-day. Its only concern is to see that an essential industry is not interfered with, and I suggest that there is an obligation upon individual members of this House to assist the Government to that end. The purpose of the bill, leave to introduce which is now asked, is to ensure that in the future the people of Australia cannot be held to ransom in the manner attempted in the closing days of last year. The Government will welcome suggestions to improve the bill. Up to the present no better proposals have been put forward than those embodied in the regulations made under the Transport Workers Act. The Government’s intention now is to incorporate those regulations, with certain modifications, in the act. The Leader of the Opposition said that this Government talked of peace in industry, but by its amendments to the Arbitration Act had brought about an impossible situation, and asserted that while we had legislation of that character on the statute-book there could be no hope of peace in industry in Australia. Let me remind him that if there is to be real peace in industry it must be peace with honour. Peace at any price will not help to solve Australia’s industrial problems. The Government’s action, having been endorsed by the people, there is now an. obligation resting upon it to give effect to the will of the people by placing on the statute-book a measure that will protect Australia from another great holdup in industry such as was threatened last year. If we accept the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and repeal the act, what guarantee is there that an industrial crisis, similar to that experienced last year, will not recur? Peace in industry is essential, but it is of no use to purchase peace at any price. I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite will not persist in their objection to the motion for leave to introduce the bill. If action were not now taken to embody the regulations in the act, the attitude of the Government would be a complete abandonment of an undertaking given to the people at the last election.- It would be an absolute betrayal of a promise which I gave to the electors that I would introduce a bill to embody the regulations in the act. I do not wish to discuss this matter at great length, but the Leader of the Opposition stated that some of the regulations made under the Transport Workers
Act were iniquitous. The honorable gentleman referred specifically to one regulation which provides that if a waterside worker refuses to obey a lawful order of his employer, his licence may be can- celled.
– The right honorable gentleman should read the whole of the regulation. I said that if a waterside worker refused to obey a lawful order, his licence would be cancelled and he could not be licensed again within twelve months.
– I have no desire to misrepresent the Leader of the Opposition. It is true, as he says, that a transport worker’s licence may, in certain circumstances, be cancelled for the term stated. That particular regulation, with modifications, is embodied in the bill, as the honorable gentleman will see when the measure is circulated. The cancellation of a transport worker’s licence is a penalty imposed under the regulations. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that it would operate harshly and inequitably and therefore was grossly unfair. Exactly the same penalties are imposed by a trade union. upon some of its members in certain circumstances.
A man expelled from a trade union has no chance of getting employment. As an illustration of the tyranny that can be exercised, I cite the case of a fairly prosperous man in Bowen who incurred the animosity of the waterside workers. They thereupon refused to handle hia goods, and he was deprived of his means of livelihood. Conduct of that kind cannot be tolerated, and this bill provides that if the waterside workers attempt to behave in that way they may be deprived of their licences. Thus some protection is -afforded to the unfortunate individual over whom such tyranny is sought to be exercised. The Leader of the Opposition misrepresented the provisions of the bill when he said that a man might for disobeying a lawful order be deprived of his licence for twelve months, and thus be unable to earn a livelihood. He should have added that there is a right of appeal to a stipendiary magistrate, and such an appeal can be heard within 24 hours. Again I stress the fact, for there has been misrepresentation on this point, that the officer empowered to cancel a licence is an employee of the Commonwealth Government, and is not associated in any way with the shipowners or other employers. If he uses wrongfully the power that is conferred upon him, the aggrieved person may appeal to a magistrate to have his licence restored. That fact should be borne in mind when honorable members are considering the penalties provided under this legislation. This bill is vital at the present time because if we once admit the right of one section to hold the remainder of the community to ransom, hardship and suffering will be imposed upon tens of thousands of people. I ask honorable members to reject the amendment.
-The amendment is in wider terms than the motion, and I propose to follow the usual practice of allowing honorable members to address themselves to the motion and the amendment simultaneously. Honorable members speaking to the amendment will be regarded as speaking to the motion also.
.- The Prime Minister sought to justify the introduction of this bill by stating that the Government had obtained from the people a special endorsement of its policy relating to the transport workers. Having regard to the outcome of the general election, that claim appears fantastic. Surely the right honorable gentleman has forgotten that he led to the constituencies a party that was the largest in this House and had an actual majority over the other two parties. After the election that majority had disappeared. How then can he claim that the verdict of the electors was an endorsement of his policy?
– We are still here.
– The Nationalists ore still in office, but only on the sufferance of a remnant known as the Country party. What sort of endorsement did even- the Pact get from the electors? The combined parties went to the country with 51 supporters and they returned with 43. The Prime Minister said that be had made the Government’s industrial legislation an issue of the elections, that he had spoken in five States, and obtained the endorsement of the electors. What sort of endorsement was it that reduced his following from 51 to 43 members ?
– Has the honorable member’s party a greater number?
– No; but its membership is greater now than it was before the Prime Minister appealed to the country. In endeavouring to justify the introduction of the bill as the outcome of the verdict of the electors, the right honorable gentleman is skating; on very thin ice. Dealing with the bill on its merits, he declared that it is logical and rational. It is not logical, rational, useful, nor likely to promote industrial peace, and therefore the earliest opportunity should be taken to repeal the original act. What is the history of this Government’s industrial legislation? Almost every measure introduced by it for the regulation of industrial affairs has been coercive in character - coercive of the employees, but not of the employers.
– Does it not coerce both sides equally?
– No. It may make a pretence of being enforceable against employers, but in practice the Government has never shown any sympathy with the employees. The comprehensive amendment of the Arbitration Act introduced by the Government towards the end of the last Parliament made the arbitration machinery almost unworkable. The amendments were unacceptable to the workers, because they were unfair. They put into the arbitration law coercive provisions and brought brute force to bear against men for doing things which in other countries are regarded as within the rights of organized workers seeking to obtain reasonable conditions in their employment. Yet, within nine months of the complete remodelling of the Arbitration Act in accordance with the definite policy of the Government, that other draconian law, the Transport Workers Act, was introduced. If the amended arbitration law was as effective as the Government pretended to think that it would be, what need existed for the application of special legislation to the waterside workers? The trouble that occurred on the waterfront was the first test of the remodelled act, but apparently the arbitration machinery had broken down, and the Government was helpless and unable to establish industrial peace. The result was the panic legislation we are discussing this afternoon. It is easy to understand why the Transport Workers Act was passed in the dying hours of the last session, if we recognize that there was a deep political significance in its introduction. I firmly believe that its purpose was not to promote peace and conciliation, but to endeavour to further aggravate a delicate situation, and provoke the workers in order that political capital might be made for the benefit of the ministerial candidates.
– The honorable member does not believe that.
– I do. I said it on many platforms during the election campaign, and I repeat it this afternoon. Amongst the five States visited by the Prime Minister, was Kew South Wales, to which he directed particular attention towards the end of the campaign. He spoke in many constituencies and prophesied that the Government would not only hold its position, but would almost assuredly strengthen it.
– The honorable member prophesied, also.
– I did, and the difference between my prophecy and that of the Prime Minister was that mine came true. The Treasurer also prophesied within a fortnight of polling-day that the Government would hold every New South Wales seat represented by a ministerialist, and, in addition, would win South Sydney and Hume, and would have an excellent chance of winning East Sydney, and would secure every Queensland seat, including one held for some years by a Labour member. If that was the verdict which the Prime Minister and his deputy expected from the people they must have been sorely disappointed by the results of the election. The Prime Minister spoke in South Sydney and in East Sydney, and to every elector in the latter he posted a personal appeal for support for his friend, Captain Julian Simpson. Honorable members know the result of the polling in that constituency, to ‘which he paid more attention than to any other. In the last fortnight preceding polling-day, the right honorable gentleman addressed fifteen meetings in the Macquarie electorate, and many others in Lang, Hume, Barton, and South
Sydney, and in every place at which he spoke, the Labour vote increased and the Nationalist vote dwindled. Yet he claims that the result of the election was an endorsement of the Government’s industrial policy! The right honorable gentleman said that he relied upon the verdict of the electors to justify the continuation of this coercive measure; but I am showing that the verdict was against him. In the Nationalists’ strongholds in New South Wales - the electorates of Parramatta, Parkes, and Martin - was their strength significantly increased? Honorable members behind the Government can answer that question for themselves. They know that, so far as New South Wales is concerned, the State in which the Prime Minister made his special appeal for support of this legislation, the verdict was solidly against them. Therefore, they cannot depend upon such statements to justify the introduction of this bill. The Leader of the Opposition put the case very pertinently when he said that the Government made a pretence of appealing for peace in industry. The Government says that its policy is to bring about peace in industry, and it claims to be largely responsible, and no doubt it is, for the conferences that have taken place between the representatives of employers and the unions in trying to find means to promote peace in industry. How can the Government hope to promote enduring peace in industry if it takes every political and parliamentary opportunity to humiliate the workers, to take away their rights and to limit their opportunities of advancing and improving their conditions ? How can the Government expect to gain the confidence of the workers, and thus bring about conciliation in industry ? Whenever there has been a clash in industry, even in the present disputes which have so unfortunately developed, the Government has sided with the employers. It has no sympathy whatever for the workers. That has been the Government’s history ever since it gained office. That is the spirit of the Transport Workers’ Act, and it was the spirit of the amendments of the Arbitration Act made last year. Our arbitration system in Australia is supposed to be based on conciliation as well. as arbitration. In September and October last the Government had a fine opportunity to bring conciliation to bear upon the trouble on the waterfront. No sensible person in Australia took satisfaction from the fact that the waterside workers had been unable to accept the Beeby award. No sensible person wanted to prolong the strike, and, as a matter of fact, many interests were engaged in trying to terminate the trouble satisfactorily. Unfortunately, any opportunity to bring the dispute to an end was prevented by the Government’s action in introducing class legislation, and using it to foment the trouble. The transport workers were unjustly treated under the Transport Workers’ Act. What has happened since November last? Licences have been issued to men who previously had not worked on the waterfront. Preference of employment and exclusive work was given to them. Employment was taken away from men who looked to the waterfront for their livelihood.
– That was due to their own lawless action.
– In some cases the men were to blame; but this legislation applied to all ports in Australia, whether work was progressing there or not. The act applies everywhere.
– It does not.
– This legislation has placed a terrible weapon in the hands of the employer, who has used it ruthlessly.
– The honorable member is making a mistake. The act applies only to certain ports.
– We know that it applied to Queensland while work was proceeding there. It applied to the waterside industry, and prior to the making of the Beeby award the men were working under the State award. The Transport Workers Act brought trouble to an industry in which peace had prevailed for many years.
– Where was that ?
– At Queensland ports.
– That is not so.
– In Brisbane there has been no waterside strike for ten years. The Transport Workers Act brought about the strike in Queensland.
– It continued the strike at Fremantle.
– That is so. This measure undoubtedly provoked and prolonged the trouble, and engendered bitterness and rancour among the workers. With such a policy how can the Government expect to bring about peace in industry? Itmay do so to some extent by degrading the workers, by attacking their manhood and independence, and destroying their power and responsibility ; but what sort of peace in industry would be so achieved ? What would it be worth to this or to any other country ? The trend of our industrial legislation is to enslave the workers. I speak strongly on this subject because on each occasion that the Government has attempted to bring about peace in industry by amending the arbitration law it has brought sensibly nearer the destruction of that law. There is in Australia to-day a feeling of contempt for arbitration and for that this Government is mainly responsible.
– The honorable member was responsible for the Queensland arbitration law.
– I have the honour of being the author of the present arbitration law in Queensland. It was introduced in 1916. There have been few troubles under that law, and it has worked satisfactorily to the extent that the workers - and I think the employers - voluntarily withdrew from the Federal Arbitration Court and came under the State Court. This occurred in every industry with only three or four exceptions. I recognize that the success of arbitration depends on the parties conferring reasonably together. Arbitration must fail if the power of the Government is used in favour of one party only. That is what this Government is doing under the Transport Workers Act, and that is why there is no justification for the introduction of legislation to amend that act. I hope that in the interests of industrial peace and amity throughout Australia, this bill will not be proceeded with.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) is now the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition. Prom his references to the elections, one gathers that he should have been Prime Minister, or at least a member of the Government. In one part of his speech he spoke as if the Opposition had won the election. Unfortunately for him, the Opposition did not win the election, in spite of all the prophecies and. promises he made as the director of the Labour campaign in New South Wales. The Labour candidates, in addition to making extravagant prophecies of success, which failed of accomplishment, made promises to every section of the community they supposed amenable to promises, but, in spite of those efforts* they still constitute His Majesty’s Opposition in this House. The honorable member has stated that there was no necessity for the Transport Workers’ Act, and he has asked us to say what was the necessity for its introduction. I do not propose to go over ground already traversed, or to discuss at length the existing regulations, or the provisions of the bill which is to be introduced when this motion has been carried; but I would remind honorable members opposite that, in September of last year, an award was made which, in advance, the Waterside Workers’ Federation definitely promised the court to observe. Yet as soon as the award had been made a meeting of the branches of the federation in Australia was summoned, and a resolution was carried unanimously describing the award as pernicious and vicious, and the members of the federation were called upon to refuse to work under it. In accordance with that direction they declined to work under the award. On the 10th September they all refused to work. On the 20th September, when notice was given in this House of the introduction of the Transport Workers Bill, the men still refused to work at many ports, and the result was that the whole of the seaboard trade of Australia was held up. That was after an appeal had been made by the Prime Minister to the union to work in accordance with the award and to adopt constitutional methods in order to obtain any alteration of the award that the union might desire. Honorable members opposite speak of conciliation. Honorable members on this side believe in concilia tion. What is conciliation? Conciliation is the process of endeavouring to bring parties who are in dispute to an agreement. The process of conciliation had been in operation a long time before the award was made. The parties had been in conference under the judge and under the chairmanship of the Conciliation Commissioner. The resources of conciliation had been fully used, and the points at issue were left to be determined by award. When an award is made, a refusal to work under it is not an application of the method of conciliation; it is the application of a method of direct action. It is not the proper course to say “ We will not work in accordance with the award unless you sit in conference with- us, and concede something.” The proper thing to do is to work in accordance with the award, and if dissatisfaction exists, apply to the court for a variation. It is not applying the method of conciliation to take, first, everything that can be obtained by agreement; secondly, all that can be obtained by the award; and, thirdly, all that can be obtained by a strike. What, would have been the policy of the Opposition in September last if it had then been in office? The Government tried to settle the trouble by reminding the men of their honorable, as well as legal, obligation to work under the award. What was the alternative to working in accordance with the award. The setting aside of the award because one side refused to work under it J It would be impossible to maintain any system of arbitration if that course were followed. The Opposition, when the strike took place, had not the responsibility of taking action; but what would have been its policy had they been in power and, after all the resources of agreement had been availed of and an award made, one side to the dispute had definitely refused to obey it? The case is the same whether it be the employer or the employee who refuses to obey an award. If the employers objected to a 44-hour week because they regarded a 48-hour week as necessary for their business, would the Opposition, if in power, allow them to flout an award of the court? When au award is made, only legal and constitutional -methods may be adopted to secure its alteration. It has been said that the Transport Workers Act is unnecessary. Yet, in fact, it has been a conspicuous success. Every honorable member who has followed events on the waterfront, knows that for years past Australia has been vexed with frequent industrial disputes. These disputes are far more injurious to Australia than internal disputes, because they interfere with Australia’s external trade and seriously affect her reputation abroad. It is because so many of our industrial disputes occur on the waterfront that Australia has the unfortunate reputation, in other parts of the world, of being a land of strikes. But since the Transport Workers Act has been in operation, work on the waterfront has proceeded continuously, although, prior to its passage, interruptions were of almost daily occurrence at one port or another.
– That is because there is three times the quantity of labour available for the work on which the men are engaged.
– I submit that that has nothing to do with the point at issue. But if honorable members opposite think it is relevant, let me remind them that at all times during recent years there has been a surplus of labour on the waterfront. It is useless to contend that the continuity of operations which has existed since the passage of the Transport Workers Act is due to the fact that there are more men offering for work than there is work for. Unfortunately, that has always been the case. The position of the workers on the waterfront is one of our outstanding industrial problems, because the work is casual and irregular. Consequently, high rates of pay have been fixed, and it is possible for men of relatively little experience and skill to do what is needed. A man, if fortunate enough to obtain enough work, can, in thirty hours, earn the basic pay for a week, and these conditions attract many to this comparatively unskilled occupation. Accordingly, an unusually large number of men are always endeavouring to obtain a living on the waterfront, and that is the principal reason for the supply of labour there being in excess of the demand. In Melbourne at times, perhaps only several hundred men are required, whilst at others the services of 3,000 or 4,000 may be necessary. Honorable members will see how difficult it is in these circumstances to place the industry on a satisfactory basis.
I have said that since the Transport Workers Act has been in operation, there have not been the interruptions on the waterfront which previously occurred. It may also, be said that since the act was passed the awards of the Arbitration Court have been observed at every port in Australia, including those in which the provisions of the act are not applied. The workers on the waterfront - unionists and nonunionists - have recognized the necessity of observing the awards of the Court. Pilfering, which was unfortunately prevalent, particularly in certain Australian ports, has practically ceased.
– That is a nasty insinuation to make.
– It is a statement of fact, and a matter for congratulation. The losses thus occasioned were quoted in the debates last year, and figures relating to them recorded in Hansard. Not only has there been a cessation of pilfering, but greater efficiency has obtained at all ports, particularly in Queensland, where the improvement in the output per gang per hour has been most marked. In other ports where the act is in operation, the efficiency has improved, and it has improved, too, at ports where the act has not been applied. The act has been a success because it is founded on sound principles. Since it was passed last year, inquiries have been made in Great Britain, and it was interesting to find that in many of the ports in that country there is a system of registration for wharf labourers under which they are given passes or tickets, of which they may be deprived if found guilty of an offence. This system is in operation in London, Hull, Bristol, and Liverpool.
– Is it substantially the same as our licensing system?
– Registration cards are issued to workers who, in some cases, are selected by a committee consisting of employers and employees, with an independent chairman. If workmen are found guilty of an offence, they can be deprived of their registration card, or tally, as it is sometimes called. In substance the method is the same as that embodied in the Transport Workers Act. Some honorable members, who have probably never heard of the operation of this system in Great Britain, seem ready to dispute it.
– Does the Minister seriously suggest that we have never heard of the system?
– I said “some honorable members. “ The point is that at the ports I have mentioned, no wharf labourer can work on the waterfront unless he is registered, and if he is found guilty of certain offences he is deprived of his registration, and therefore of the right to work in that calling. That is the essential provision of the Transport Workers Act. I ask honorable members to support the motion, because the act and the regulations which have been framed under it, are sound in principle and have already proved themselves successful in practice.
– I think I can to some extent answer the statement of the Prime Minister in regard to the results of the elections and their application to this measure. As the representative of West Sydney, I claim to speak for a large number of waterside workers, because the majority of those whom I represent are vitally concerned with work on the waterfront and the extent to which the Transport Workers Act affects their employment. In West Sydney, the measure which the Government, seeks to amend was made an important issue at the last election, and my election to this Parliament by an overwhelming majority - larger than has ever been obtained by any other representative of a constituency - indicates how the electors regard this statute.
– The honorable member obtained a larger majority than any other man who has contested West Sydney, not excluding the right honorable member now representing North Sydney (Mr. Hughes).
– Yes. I secured a majority of 19,637 votes, and reduced the nationalist vote by approximately 4,000. As a matter of fact, the Nationalist candidate almost lost his deposit. That is sufficient to show what the people of West Sydney, who are vitally concerned, think of this class of legislation. The working class feel that this is a vital issue, and they will not Let up in the fight until this measure has been removed from the statute-book. The Government, with the means at its disposal, may force thousands of workers to accept this law, but solely because of the economic pressure and the large number of unemployed at present in Australia. Let me remind the Government that as soon as a favorable opportunity presents itself and the spectre of unemployment is removed, the workers involved in this dispute will stand four square against the Government and fight this issue to the bitter end. As far as I am concerned, I shall use every effort at my disposal to assist them in accomplishing their end. Legislation of this kind is a blot on the history of this country. Its origin can be traced to foreign lands. It is of a Fascist character. I have been informed that when Mussolini assumed control of the affairs in Italy, he realized that if he was going to accomplish his purpose he would have to introduce legislation whereby he could force the workers at the point of the bayonet to accept employment on the terms which he dictated. And this kind of legislation has been introduced for the same purpose. When the Prime Minister was abroad he was well received and had a long interview with the leader of the Fascists.
– The Attorney-General called on Mussolini.
– Yes, and that gentleman was also very largely responsible for the drafting of this measure. The Government, with the power at its disposal, backed by the armed forces of the State, has forced this act upon the transport workers; but such powers, being abused as they are in this case, will surely bring about its own destruction before very long. History records similar occurrences in many countries, and that is the position which is facing the Government in relation to this measure. The Government has used its power to force the workers into their present position, and while they are temporarily giving way, I predict that the time is not far distant when they will organize to prevent this conscription of labour. This country dealt effectively with the attempted application of conscription for military purposes. Australia has’ opposed military conscription and the application of conscription to industry will not be tolerated for a moment. The Attorney-General has stated that these provisions will apply only to certain classes of transport workers, but the time is not far distant when there will be an attempt to make, it apply to every member of the working class. It has been introduced for just that purpose. This is only the thin edge of the wedge, and before very long the system will be extended to include timber workers and miners. We are rapidly approaching a condition of affairs in which the workers will have to wear discs round their necks before they will be granted the right to live. A few years ago men wore indentification discs while they participated in the war for democracy, and they little thought that on their return to their native country they would have to go on wearing the badge of their trade before they would be allowed to work. I hope that this has taught them the lesson that they must lose no opportunity to rid themselves of this tyranny, and those responsible for it. The Attorney-General dealt fully with the award and its application, and asked what the Opposition would have done if it were in power during last September. If the Opposition had been in power at that time, or prior to it, there would not have been any. struggle on the waterfront, and there would have been no occasion to introduce legislation of this kind. Yesterday I referred to the great anxiety displayed by some persons regarding appointments made by the Government to the Tariff Board. As the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) said yesterday, the Government makes all its appointments with a view to ensuring that the policy of the Government is carried out. In order to understand the waterside dispute, it is necessary to trace the affair back to the time when the Arbitration Court issued its award, and to remember that the court, in so doing, was merely giving effect to the Government’s policy. On the eve of an election the Government realized that it would be courting destruction to go to the people on its merits. It, therefore, took such steps as it considered necessary to create industrial trouble, thus confusing the minds of the people, and making them vote against their own judgment. The chief trouble at that time was over the question of pick-ups. Without being specifically requested to do so, the Arbitration Court decided that the system should be altered from one pickup to two a day. One pick-up was quite enough, because the shipping offices, by means of wireless and other modern methods of communication, always know exactly where the ships are, and when they will arrive. The court by its award sought to compel men who lived a considerable distance from the wharves to visit the waterfront both morning and afternoon. There is frequently a degree of preference shown in the selection of workers on the wharves, and under the two-pick-up system some of those who received employment in the morning would probably also be picked up again in the afternoon, while others who showed a tendency to uphold union principles would obtain no work at all. I maintain that the two-pick-up provision was deliberately inserted so as to create an atmosphere in which the waterside workers were sure to revolt. It was particularly noticeable that just before the Transport Workers Bill was introduced into Parliament, the Prime Minister visited Sydney and dined at the Hotel Australia with Sir Owen Cox, a gentleman intimately associated with the shipping interests. Prom there Mr. Bruce returned to Canberra, and his first action was to have introduced the measure which it is now proposed to amend. It was quite evident that he was doing this with the wholehearted approval of the shipping interests.
– I have no doubt that Sir Owen Cox helped to draft the measure.
– Most likely he did. The Prime Minister takes pleasure in parading himself before the people as one who wishes to hold the scales of justice evenly, yet when a struggle of this kind is taking place he seeks his. advice from the representatives of the owners, and never by any chance confers with the representatives of organized labour. The Prime Minister talks about peace with honour, but, as was very aptly interjected by the Leader of the Opposition, what we want is peace with justice. I have noticed in Newcastle, where the waterfront struggle has been very bitter, that when the representatives of the shipowners come outside the gates to select labour, there are lined up on one side hundreds of Southern Europeans, and on the other side Australian unionists, many of them men who have worn identification discs on their necks on the other side. Did the owners’ representatives seek their labour from amongst the Australianworkers? No. They went to the Southern Europeans, and engaged them to do the work, while the Australians were allowed to stand idly by. In face of this, some honorable members complain because there have been riots in Adelaide and other places. Australians would not be worth their salt if they stood by and allowed the bread and butter to be taken off their tables by Southern Europeans, who are prepared to scab on Australian workers. I maintain that the Government itself is directly responsible for every riot that has taken place, and for every life that has been lost in the recent waterside disturbances. The matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is. The workers will not allow their rights and privileges to be filched from them by Southern Europeans. Up to the present, Australia has been free from racial disturbances, such as have so frequently marred the history of the United States of America. The day is approaching, however, when similar disturbances here will be inevitable. The Southern Europeans who are flocking to this country do not understand our customs and conditions. They fence themselves off in separate communities, and will take what steps they think necessary to protect their rights as they see them. Australians will do the same, and sooner or later the clash between the two interests must come. When that happens, persons who are perhaps not directly concerned will have to suffer. Only recently, the mayor and mayoress of Newcastle became involved in trouble between rival rickshaw men in Colombo, and the mayoress was so unfortunate as to lose her eye because of a stone thrown while a brawl was taking place. If racial disturbances take place in this country, the results to those not directly concerned might be much more serious than that, and some of those who are responsible for this legislation might themselves suffer as a result of it. The Attorney-General has charged the waterside workers with being responsible for the great amount of pilfering which takes place on the wharfs. I repudiate that charge with all the vehemence of which I am capable, and I challenge him to repeat it before a meeting of waterside workers. The members of waterside workers’ unions are just as honorable as is the Minister himself. They are probably rendering a greater service to the community than he is, because they are helping forward the work of the country, and adding to its prosperity. I resent this charge most strongly, and I shall take the first opportunity of acquainting the waterside workers of what the Attorney-General has said of them. We know what an outcry there would have been if a Labour Government had been in power, and had attempted to introduce legislation requiring the employers to license themselves before they were allowed to carry on their business. I am longing for the day when the Opposition, will occupy the Treasury benches, and will be able to wipe all this oppressive legislation off the statute-book. Every step which the trade unions take to defend their legitimate interests is denounced by honorable members on the other side; but they never tell us of the attempts of the employers to compel members of their organizations to conform to the wishes of the majority. Only recently, Burns and Company, timber merchants, issued notices to their workers stating that they were prepared to carry on work under the old award. Two days later these notices were withdrawn because the combine said that if a company accepted the old award it would not be allowed to obtain raw material to keep its works going. So far as I am concerned, I shall never rest until legislation of this kind, which is directly aimed at oppressing the workers of the country, is removed from the statute-book.
.- I shall make very few observations on the motion, for we shall have an opportunity of. discussing the whole subject at greater length when the bill is before us. On the eve of the last election, honorable members opposite described the Crimes Act, the Arbitration Act and the Transport Workers Act as most undesirable legislation. The Leader of the Opposition characterized the Transport Workers Act as one of the most iniquitous pieces of legislation ever placed upon our statutebook.
– It is a good description and I stand by it.
– It was also said that because the Government and its supporters had been guilty of placing such legislation on the statute-book the people of Australia would give them their marching orders. They would rise in their wrath, we were told, and sweep the Government out of existence. We were also assured that they would entrust the Opposition with the duty of administering the affairs of the country.
– Did not the honorable member, during the election campaign, forget how he had voted on certain important measures submitted to the last Parliament ?
– I shall deal with that presently. I do not think that I can be regarded as ever having been a supporter of this Government through thick and thin. Whenever the Government has introduced a principle with which I have disagreed, I have voted against it and with the Opposition. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said that the people of Australia had shown their disapproval of the Transport Workers Act by returning him to Parliament. But I point out that many of his constituents are employed on the waterfront and thus are interested parties. One might expect that they would give him an overwhelming majority. But it cannot be said that the views of the waterside workers on this act are the views of the people of Australia. To allow the honorable member’s argument would be tantamount to making these men the judges of their own case. The waterside workers were parties to the illegal actions which rendered the Transport Workers Act necessary. On the public platform, during the election campaign, I reminded my constituents that they had elected me at the previous election to give dis- criminating support to the Government. [ informed them that if they again gave me a majority of their votes I should con tinue to support the Government with discrimination. I said that I was in general sympathy with the Ministerial policy, but reserved to myself the right to exercise my own judgment upon any matter that might come before Parliament. I mentioned the occasions during the last Parliament when I had voted with the Opposition against the Government. I then said that I desired my constituents to understand that in regard to such legislation as the Transport Workers Act, the Arbitration Act, and the Crimes Act, which honorable members opposite have characterized as utterly iniquitous, [ was wholeheartedly in sympathy with and a supporter of the Government. I said, moreover, that if I were again entrusted with the representation of the division of Fawkner, I would assist the Government in every possible way to enforce the provisions of these measures. What was the result? This was the fifth occasion on which I had sought the votes of the people of Fawkner and I was returned with a bigger majority than ever before.
– Did not the honorable member denounce the pact?
– I did. I have been opposed to it from its inception. It was for that reason that I reserved to myself the right, to vote according to my own judgment. I made it clear, however, that I intended to vote for all measures which I felt to be necessary to enforce the provisions of the acts to which I have referred. In the sub-division of Prahran, which is the chief industrial centre of my constituency, I have always been in a minority of about 500 votes; but notwithstanding my support of the industrial legislation introduced by the Government, my minority in this sub-division was reduced at the last election to 100 and odd votes. I had opposed to me one of the best respected men in the Labour movement of Victoria, and the Labour party did everything in its power to win my seat. In season, and out of season, it denounced what it called the iniquity of the Government in introducing such legislation as the Transport Workers Act. The honorable member for West Sydney declared that it was wrong to oblige the waterside workers to obtain licences; but previously these men had to be licensed by the Waterside Workers Federation in order to obtain employment on the waterfront.
– No lawyer is allowed to practise his profession without the approval of his fellows.
– Doctors and many other persons have to be licensed many other persons have to be licensed in order to engage in their callings. ‘I cannot see why, in the name of commonsense, the waterside workers should object to the licensing system. During the election campaign, I drew an analogy between the bedside worker and the waterside worker. The bedside worker, who holds the health of the community in his hands, is not permitted to practise his profession without a licence.
– That is a guarantee of his ability.
– It is also a guarantee of his character. The waterside workers also hold in their hand the welfare of the community ; but they have not scrupled, in the past when it suited their purpose, to stop the circulation of the life blood of the community by refusing to handle goods on the waterfront. It was for this reason that the Government determined to do what it could to put a stop to such conduct. It is all moonshine, humbug and nonsense for honorable members of the Opposition to talk as they have done about this legislation. We have been told that we do not understand the psychology of the waterside worker. Why on earth should the waterside worker receive different treatment from that meted out to other sections of the community? I take leave to say that the psychology of the waterside werker is the same as the psychology of any other man in the community. If the waterside worker acts tyrannously and takes it upon himself to hold up the trade and commerce of the country, he must be treated as a criminal, for he is a criminal. In the exercise of my profession I have found that the only persons who object to the Crimes Act are those who contemplate crime. The honorable member for West Sydney referred to the crime of the Prime Minister in going to Sydney and dining with Sir Owen Cox. He based his objection on the ground that
Sir Owen Cox was in some way connected with shipping. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition would have any conscientious objection to going to Sydney and dining with the president of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, or with Mr. J. S. Garden. Possibly the honorable member would say, if such a suggestion were made, “ Oh, no ! You should not make such a suggestion, for I am here for the interest of the whole community and must hold the balance evenly between all sections of it. I must not be intimately allied with any one section.” But the fact is that every honorable member opposite boasts that he is out to represent the interests of the people who elected him, and those only. I make bold to say that, when any piece of industrial legislation is under consideration by this Parliament, honorable members opposite are in the closest possible association with the workers most deeply concerned with it. I have no hesitation in saying that every dance executed by honorable members opposite is executed to the piping of people outside.
– A most ungenerous statement.
– It may be ungenerous, but that is my conviction. And surely it does not lie in the mouth of any honorable member opposite to talk about ungenerosity. In every speech they question the bona fides of honorable members on this side of the House. They are for ever declaring that I and others associated with me and my party are continually laying our heads together with the employers of labour to do something to bring the workers into disrepute so as to provide an excuse for placing upon the statute-book legislation like the Transport Workers Act. This is a dastardly thing to suggest, but I do not think that any honorable member opposite believes for one moment that such statements are true.
I rose particularly to contrast my position as a representative of the constituency of Fawkner with that of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). It cannot be said that I directly represent the waterside workers in any shape or form. There may be individual waterside workers here and there in my constituency, but in broad terms it is made up of general workers. Lt is, I think, agreed that unless I had an overwhelming Labour vote I could not hold the Fawkner seat. In an article in the Melbourne Herald recently, Mr. Holloway, secretary of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, pointed out that the workers constitute 80 per cent, of the community. From this I infer that the increase in my majority of 8,000 at the 1925 election to within 343 of 10,000 in December last, is definite evidence that the workers in my division absolutely endorse my attitude towards this legislation.
– Does the honorable member approve of the employment of southern Europeans in the place of Australian returned soldiers?
– What has that to do with the issue now before the House? I should require to know the facts before I could give an opinion on such a matter; but other things being equal, I should say that blood is thicker than water, and I should lean towards my own people. But it passes my comprehension how honorable members opposite can refer in such contemptous terms to southern Europeans, and, in fact, to any but native-born Australians. One would think, to hear them speak, that southern Europeans were men of entirely different clay. These men who prate so much about the brotherhood of man, about universal peace, and about internationalism, object strongly to a decent, honest, and straight citizen of Italy coming here, and if such a man takes a job which might be given to an Australian they say, in effect - “ Out with him. Should he take a job which has been refused by one of our people we will look on and say nothing if one of our own countrymen picks up a stone and heaves it at his brother.”
I say with pleasure that I have no hesitation whatever in voting, not only for the motion for leave to introduce the bill, but when it has been brought in I shall consider it carefully and vote for it on its merits.
.- As a representative of Labour, the first to be elected for the division of Lang, I think I may safely say that my presence in this chamber is an effective reply to the allegations of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that the people of Australia have given their endorsement to the iniquitous Transport Workers Act. Unlike the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) I cannot claim to represent the waterside workers. I represent a somewhat mixed community and the vote which was given for me indicates in no uncertain terms that the people of my division, at all events, entirely repudiate the Transport Workers Act passed last year by this Government. My election for Lang is convincing evidence that the people believe there is something radically wrong with the policy of this Government. For 25 years the Lang seat had been held by men holding views opposed to those of the Labour party. At the 1925 election the Government candidate had a majority of 5,000 votes. At the election in November last not only did Labour wipe out that majority of 5,000 but it returned me with a majority of 2,892.
– That was because of the State Government’s policy.
– I owe my election to the policy and misdeeds of this Government, which is utterly repugnant to the majority of the people in my division.
The motion before the House has been discussed from different angles. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) suggested that the transport workers as a whole have acquiesced in the act passed last year. The overwhelming vote recorded for the honorable member for West Sydney is an effective reply to any such suggestion. The honorable member for Fawkner also compared the position of the bedside worker, a medical attendant, to that of the waterside worker. Let us be fair in this matter. Let us not forget that the two classes of workers are drawn from two entirely different sections of the community. The bedside worker is a member of a very noble and humane profession; but by virtue of his environment he knows nothing of the position of the waterside worker. His sphere of learning is confined to a select few, and until labour legislation was placed upon the statute-book in our State and Federal Parliaments, the children of the working classes had no opportunity to qualify for membership of the medical profession. Though work on the waterfront may be classed as partially skilled labour, those persons engaged in it are drawn from various sections of the community. In the majority of cases they are forced into it by economic circumstances, so that they may earn the wherewithal to keep body and soul together. The honorable member for Fawkner said also that men engaged on the waterfront had no right to strike against iniquitous conditions of employment. He stated that to do so was criminal and that those who took part in the strike should be punished as criminals. I can assure him that men do not strike merely for the amusement they are likely to get out of industrial trouble. They do not “ down tools “ merely because they are tired of work. On the contrary, they take such drastic action only as a last resort in their fight against iniquitous conditions of employment imposed under legislation passed by this Government. I speak as one who has passed through some bitter ordeals in the industrial arena. I have been by myself since I was about eight years of age, but I can honestly say that I have never broken any law of this country. On one occasion I was implicated in an industrial strike and, although my part in it was to endeavour to prevent the outbreak of the trouble, I had to bow to the will of the majority, a democratic principle of which we are justly proud, and as my reward I was refused the right to work in that industry for four years afterwards. This Government talks about justice and equality of opportunity. It would be better employed if it devoted a little more time to the christianizing rather than the commercializing of its laws. We have to thank the Labour party for every progressive piece of legislation placed upon the statute-book of the Commonwealth.
During the election campaign much was said about patriotism and loyalty. Some honorable members opposite appear not to know that there is such a country as Australia on the map. I remind them that Australia is not only on the map, but is an integral part of the British Empire, and as such has always done her duty nobly and well.
The waterside workers of Australia sent proportionately more men to the shambles on the other side of the. world during the years 1914-1918 than any other organization in Australia. I pay that testimony to them, although I am not a member of the Waterside Workers Federation. I belong to the Boiler-makers Society, and unfortunately members of that organization are walking the streets of our cities because this Government, by helping the importation of foreign goods, is denying to them, the right to work in their own country. I do not know what is contained in the bill which the Government seeks to introduce; but I know that the existing Transport Workers Act is a gross reflection upon the parties now in power. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister stumped the country pleading for loyalty to the Empire. As the son of a pioneer who helped to build up Australia, I have the greatest respect for the Empire, and I look in vain for justification of the vindictive and villainous attack which this Government is making upon a union which, in proportion to its numbers, was more largely represented in the Australian Imperial Force than any other organization. The Government is prepared to load this crushing burden upon the transport workers; but will it introduce legislation to deal with the monopolists who, by cornering foodstuffs, are helping to starve the women and children of the workers ? Let us have from the Government a little more justice, and there will not be half as much need for charity. Give to the men in all industries their just dues; let them feel that they are useful helpers in industry and reputable citizens. Do not continue to treat them as serfs, or mere cogs in the wheels of production. Fair play is bonny play; but the action this Government is taking appears to be but the introduction of the thin edge of the wedge that will destroy the high standards that have been won by the self-sacrifice of the men and women whose efforts built up the Labour party. We, of the Opposition, intend to resist this coercive legislation to the utmost. We are told that we are merely revealing the impotence of parliamentary action; but we are showing, also, the dangerous nature of the parliamentary machine when it is operated recklessly by men who do not understand the spirit of the people. The Prime Minister asks that all parties shall come together for the good of Australia. Nobody will support that plea more sincerely than I do. By all means let us come together, but in an honorable, frank manner, with all the cards on the table. Let us meet together as Australians and sons of Britons, as human beings and Christians. But it is futile for the Government to profess amity when holding in its hand a bludgeon with which to attack the political and industrial freedom of the workers at the first opportunity. If all parties will reason together and put the needs of the country first, we shall prove that we are determined to do that which is in the best interests of our people.
.- Whilst I cannot endorse the industrial and political opinions of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I may be permitted to congratulate him on the earnestness and lucidity with which he expressed himself in his maiden speech in this chamber.
The Government has moved for leave to introduce an amending bill, and apparently we are to have at this stage a recapitulation of the speeches delivered by honorable members opposite when the Transport Workers Bill was before the House last year, and their subsequent fulminations on the hustings. At the second reading stage we shall have another long debate, during which the whole of these arguments and denunciations will be repeated again. This legislation was one of the issues in the last election. Senator Needham, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, said in his policy speech that the elections would be fought on three issues, namely, the Crimes Act, the amended Arbitration Act, and the Transport Workers Act, and that the decision of the people at the polls would be a verdict upon them. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), according to the Labour Daily of the 30th October, when speaking of the trouble on the waterfront, said : -
The men had surrendered to economic forces and taken out their hateful licences, licences that would be done away with if a Labour Government was returned.
The Labour party was not returned to office; yet the Leader of the Opposition had the effrontery to move an amendment to repeal the Transport Workers Act, instead of amending it. This is a deliberative assembly of grown men, and I cannot conceive of a greater exhibition of childishness than the action of the Leader of the Opposition, knowing his impotence, and his lack of a mandate from the electors, in moving such a futile amendment.
Mr. Brennan interjecting,
– Nothing has amazed me so much since I have been in this chamber as the anxiety of the honorable member for Batman to disguise the feebleness of his intellect by efforts to be humourous.
– Order ! The honorable member is not justified in making that statement.
– I merely record an impression that has been forced upon me by the fatuous interjections of the honorable member. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) used as an argument against the Transport Workers Act, the fact that in his electorate, composed largely of waterside workers, he obtained a substantial majority at the poll. With equal justification, I might argue that because I was returned unopposed for Warringah, the electors in that constituency unanimously support this, legislation. I remind honorable members opposite that the Labour party’s campaign directors considered their platform to be so devoid of appeal that in eighteen of the electorates throughout the Commonwealth they refrained from nominating candidates. A study of the Senate election figures also disclosed that the Government received a majority of 50,000 votes over those of the Opposition candidates. These figures prove conclusively that with the Crimes Act, the amended Arbitration Act, and the Transport Workers Act before them as crucial issues, the electors pronounced emphatically in favour of the Government’s policy. What justification then can the Opposition plead for resisting the introduction of an amending measure?
In regard to the registration of transport workers, I have never seen a greater exhibition of cant and hypocrisy than the attitude of some honorable members opposite. Amongst them are officials of the Australian “Workers Union, and they know that no man can get employment in the industries in which that organization functions, without a licence, registration, or ticket signed by the secretary of the union.
– That is incorrect. I rise to a personal explanation.
– Order 1 It is not usual for an honorable member to interrupt a speaker to make a personal explanation.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member’s statement is absolutely incorrect.
– Order ! A mere contradiction is not a point of order. If the honorable member desires to controvert any statement made by the honorable member for Warringah, he may do so by speaking to the question later.
– What I have stated is quite correct. Moreover, under a measure introduced by the Lang Government, no man in New South Wales can get employment as an electrician without a ticket signed by the honorable member for West Sydney.
– Quite right. That is to safeguard life and property.
– Yet honorable members opposite talk all this cant and hypocrisy-
– Order I The honorable member must withdraw those words. He is not entitled to describe any speech in this House as cant and hypocrisy.
– I withdraw the words “cant” and “hypocrisy”; but let me say that the honorable member for West Sydney has the power to decide whether any particular electrician in New South Wales - it may be a man with a wife and family - shall be given employment.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Warringah does not know what he is talking about.
– Order! The honorable member- cannot rise to a point of order simply to contradict the honorable member who is speaking.
– Is the honorable member for Warringah entitled to deliberately mislead the House?
– The honorable member for Warringah is fully entitled to express his opinion. If his words are misleading, then at the proper time the honorable member for West Sydney may make a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for West Sydney holds in his hands the living of a section of the workers of this country, yet honorable members opposite, during the election campaign, made, on every platform, erroneous statements misrepresenting the registration and licensing of workmen under the Transport Workers Act. Their statements clearly had no basis. Their only desire was to misrepresent the issue to the people of Australia. Their efforts in that direction absolutely failed.
Honorable members opposite know full well that in the Waterside Workers Union there are more foreigners than in any other union. As a matter of fact, in South Australia recently it was ascertained that, among the free labourers employed on the wharfs only 80 were foreigners, whereas in the union itself there were over 300 foreigners. In view of that, what is the use of honorable members opposite abusing southern Europeans and other foreign migrants who come to this country? On Saturday last the Labour conference went the whole hog in abusing southern Europeans; but when asked to pass a resolution excluding those men from the country those present at the meeting absolutely refused to do it. Instead they advocated the introduction of the quota system. If honorable members opposite feel so bitterly towards southern Europeans, why do they not exclude them from the unions, or make it a plank of their platform that, under no circumstances, shall southern Europeans be admitted to this country. To-day, foreigners are admitted to trade unions, and they have been known to affect the results of Labour selections in the Labour movement ; but that does not prevent honorable members opposite from abusing southern Europeans and blaming the Nationalist party for their introduction into this country. The result of the elections clearly showed that the people of Australia supported the action of the Government in passing the Transport
Workers Act. That legislation has certainly had a salutary effect on the workers and has been beneficial to the country, because, since its introduction peace has been maintained on the waterfront.
– I certainly should not have ventured to address the House at this stage had it not been for the action of the Leader of the Opposition in moving an amendment to the motion before the House. When leave is asked to bring down a measure, it is usual for the House to agree to the motion without delay, and if, on the present occasion, honorable members on this side had not been cognizant of the general character of the bill which the Government proposes to introduce, I have no doubt that they would have treated this motion in accordance with the general practice. But we are in no doubt concerning the intentions of the Government. It was intimated in the GovernorGeneral’s speech that the bill would consist substantially of the regulations which have already been “gazetted, and there is therefore sufficient justification for the discussion now of the general principle of the transport workers regulations which are to constitute it. The honorable member for Warringah suggested that because the Opposition was in a minority, it was sheer obstruction on its part to debate this question; but it is the obligation of the Opposition to criticize Government measures and surely there is, upon the House as a whole, the responsibility of ensuring that legislation shall not be passed except after careful examination. Instead of rebuking us for our temerity, the honorable member should congratulate us, as wholehearted and conscientious upholders of constitutional practice, on having at this stage given to the Government the benefit of some criticism of the measure. What is the test to be applied in framing the laws of the Commonwealth? Primarily the. law should apply without discrimination to all citizens of the community. That is an elementary principle of sound government. If there be special categories of citizens for whom special measures are required, it is only after the most careful scrutiny of the situation and the most comprehensive examination of the general law that a measure sectional in its application and restrictive in the sense that it does not apply to the whole of the community should be passed. This is a bill to license, not the workers generally, but certain classes of waterside workers, and not all waterside workers, not even those selected by this Parliament, but waterside workers employed at particular ports - whom the Minister selects for the time being as appropriate persons to come under this system of licences. Surely the application of laws that involve obligations of citizenship should not be at the discretion of the executive. It should be beyond the ambit of the competency of the GovernorGeneralinCouncil to impose restrictions to-day and to remove to-morrow. The Government now selects not only certain ports and certain classes of workers for the application of the Transport Workers Act, but also the time when it will impose or remove the obligation cast upon the men. I do not consider that to be sound administration of the law. Furthermore, the penalties that are prescribed in the regulations are too indefinite for us to regard the present method of enforcing the Arbitration Act as being fair and proper. If there are workmen or employers in this community who will not observe the awards of the Arbitration Court, the proper measure wherein to prescribe the penalties for breaches of them is the Arbitration Act. Surely there is no necessity for doubling the penalties to be imposed upon workmen and employers for breaches of a particular piece of legislation. The penalties in the amended Arbitration Act are adequate to ensure the enforcement of its provisions. The introduction of this separate and distinct measure, which is not generally applicable to persons registered under the federal Arbitration Act, but is to apply to only a few, is absolute discrimination. One penalty is prescribed foi Brown, in- one union, for not observing the award of the court, and an entirely different penalty for Jones, in another union, for an identical offence.
Oau such, a law be defended? Is it reasonable and sound that two workmen who commit similar offences, should be subjected to different penalties, and dealt with under different laws? Surely such offences should come under one statute. The penalty should be decisive and impartial in its relation to the citizens of Australia, and entirely without discrimination in regard to the occupation which a particular person happens to follow. The Transport Workers Act was brought down, not to ensure a general observance of arbitration awards, but rather to discipline the waterside workers ; yet, even so, the ministerial discretion in the application of regulations under the act has not been exercised equitably or reasonably. Let me inform honorable members of what occurred at the port of Fremantle. There, as in a number of other ports, the workmen went on strike against the Beeby award, because, they contended, it took from them privileges and rights which they had gained over long years of struggle. They had been able to improve their working conditions by fair and open arrangements under the sanction of the court, and also as a result of agreements, special to the port of Fremantle, which they had made ‘with the shipping agents. The Beeby award annulled at one stroke the special agreements which had been entered into between the shipowners and the branch of the” union at that port. Circumstances vary so much in the several ports of the Commonwealth, that local industrial organizations and the agents of shipowners should be given facilities to make arrangements to meet effectively the local working conditions, which are controlled by tidal, climatic, and other incidents, and thus differ from those to which a general award will apply. The court did not give due consideration to the importance of local conditions; that phase of the case was not considered by the court with sufficient care. In any event, as honorable members are aware, the men at Fremantle ceased work as did those at Albany and Bunbury. A most remarkable situation then developed. Before the application of the Transport Workers Act to those ports, and before it had actually been passed by this Parliament, the men at Fremantle, Albany and Bunbury decided to resume work; but there were difficulties in the way of carrying out their intention. The shipowners had not vessels immediately available for discharge, as some had been diverted from Fremantle, and work was not resumed, although the men intimated that they intended to observe the award. On the Friday before the regulations came into operation, the men reported for work, and only one vessel, which was loaded with superphosphates and other commodities required by the farming community, was brought into the wharf; whilst other vessels engaged in the regular trade were allowed to remain in the roadstead. These vessels, which contained the necessaries of life required by ‘ consumers in metropolitan and rural areas were not brought in until the Monday, although work could have commenced on the Friday, as the men had intimated in the most decided way that they intended to observe the award. If their conduct had been such as to constitute an offence against the Arbitration Act, the correct procedure was to invoke the penalties of that law against them. This was not done. The regulations were gazetted, but it was impossible to obtain a single copy of them anywhere in the State. Neither the employers nor employees were able to ascertain with any degree of accuracy the nature of the regulations. They did not know what obligations they would incur if they obtained a licence. It was preposterous that men should be bound by a law the nature of which was unknown to them. A copy of the regulations arrived in Western Australia on the following Wednesday and copies may have reached other ports nearer to the Seat of Government, somewhat earlier. But in Western Australia the men were being asked to sign applications for licences when even the Premier of the State, who was. anxious to bring about a settlement of the dispute, had only a mutilated press telegram from which to gain any indication of the nature of the regulations. The enforcement of regulations to give effect to legislation passed by this Parliament before they are available to those they concern is entirely wrong. Whatever may be the nature of the emergencies of the country, after years of experience in dealing with similar situations, the Government should have known how to act, and should not have framed drastic provisions of this description. Without knowing what was involved, the men reported for work on Monday and were told that they had to take out licences. One of the most extraordinary features of the whole proceedings was that the men engaged on the vessel that had come into the wharf on the previous Friday, the discharge of which had not been completed, were permitted to continue work, although they had not taken out licences. Even the officer appointed under the statutory rules was ignorant of the exact provisions of the law, and said that, as the work had been already commenced, it was unnecessary for the men working that vessel to take out licences. In these circumstances can one wonder at the men being indignant and resentful. Apart from the general objection that one has to procedure of this description, which is supposed to provide a means of ensuring continuity of work on the waterfront - I understand that that is the justification for the measure - it can be shown that the act is not accomplishing its purpose, and is not so effective as other measures which could have been devised. The object of the Transport Workers Act and the gazetting of the regulations under it is, if the Minister’s statement is correct, to ensure to an essential service freedom from interruption. It is, therefore, for the House to consider whether the act is the best instrument to use for such a purpose? If it is not, there is justification for the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). We cannot justly single out particular sections of workmen, and say that in similar circumstances they are to be placed in a different position from others. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides for the registration in the Arbitration Court of organizations of workmen, and gives to the court sufficient enabling power to deal with those who disobey the law. If it does not, instead of passing a measure such as we have before us, we should amend the Arbitration Act. During the last Parliament, the Government introduced an amending Arbitration Bill in an endeavour to make that statute strong and effective, and an instrument whereby industrial peace could be secured in Australia. That measure waa found ineffective, and it was then decided to introduce the Transport Workers Act. I agree with the views expressed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), regarding the bill which the Government is now seeking to introduce. I regard it as distinctly provocative. Its object is not to induce the workers and employers to proceed more amicably, but to incense the workers and to create a situation at a time - in the summer months - which the Minister would consider “ most satisfactory for the well-being of the country.” I think my meaning will be understood by the House. The penalties under these statutory rules are not enforceable unless a person commits a breach of an award made by the Arbitration Court. A man who observes an award of the Court, and who is registered under the Transport Workers Act cannot be subject to the penalties provided in these regulations. If a man commits a breach of an award of the Court the penalties for the offence should be set out in the Arbitration Act. That is only reasonable. If the clauses of the bill are to be of the same character as the regulations, they will give the Minister too much discretionary power. It will be for him to decide who is to be subject to the act. But Parliament should expressly state who are to be subject to its legislation, and also the penalties prescribed for the breaking of its provisions. Regulation 3 which is the essence of the bill, for failure to embody it in the bill will render the measure futile, provides that the Minister may appoint licensing officers in respect of such ports of the Commonwealth as he thinks fit. The law of the country should not be the creature of a Minister, and penalties should not be imposed upon citizens by an administrative act. They should be imposed only by the judiciary, and not on the ipse dixit of some person who happens to be the Minister in charge of a particular department. Certain things in these regulations constitute a piece of gross impertinence on the part of the Commonwealth Government, especially those provisions which affect the functions of State Governments. For years honorable members supporting the Government have declared that honorable members on this side are unificationists, and that we do not respect the sovereign rights of the States. Yet by these regulations the right of the State to enforce law and order, and the maintenance of the civil code is invaded. Pilfering which was mentioned this afternoon, is an offence punishable under State laws. I am astonished that the Attorney-General should have made the statement about it that he did, and I feel confident that if he could have supported his assertion with proof he would have produced it immediately. Those familiar with the maritime services of the world know that pilfering is universal. There is not a port of any consequence in any country where consignees and importers are not continually complaining of the losses they suffer through pilfering. But investigations by responsible authorities into this subject have elicited information which shows that in many instances the pilfering occurs long before the vessels reach their destination. Before the goods had been loaded into the holds of the outgoing vessel, pilfering has taken place. Although bills of lading covering a certain quantity of goods have been prepared in the offices of the exporters, and sent out by mail, that quantity has not, as a matter of fact, been shipped. Yet it is the workers here who are held up to odium as being persons who do not respect the rights of property. I have no doubt that the ordinary police precautions are quite adequate to’ protect the goods once they are landed on Australian wharfs. In any case, the prescribing of penalties for pilfering does not come within the province of this Parliament ; it is a matter for the State Parliaments. Perhaps some members think that, in addition to the penalties prescribed in the Police Offences Acts of the different States, we should impose a further penalty of loss of employment for twelve months upon persons convicted of pilfering. Those who support this in terference with the sovereign rights of the States, while professing opposition to the principle of unification are welcome to the logical dilemma in which they find themselves. The remark made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) that only criminals have any fear “of a crimes act is wholly unfair. Many offences are described as crimes though they are really acts done in the struggle for liberty. The alleged crime is often no more serious than the banding together of citizens for the advancement of their common interests. To brand such persons as criminals, even though, for the time being, the letter of the law is against them, would be absurd. There would be no justice, for instance, in describing as a criminal a doctor who overcharged his patients, a lawyer who made a mistake, a publican who sold liquor after hours, or a baker whose bread was- underweight. Similarly, to describe as a criminal a man who, driven by his sense of manhood, and of what is due to him, refuses to work even under the award of the court, is a gross misuse of language. The waterside workers said that the Beeby award was wrong, and they refused to work under it. According to the honorable member for Fawkner, such persons are to be treated as criminals, and brought within the operation of the Crimes Act. Yet a few days ago the mine owners of New South “Wales came to the conclusion that they could not carry on under the terms of the existing award, and issued notices of dismissal to their workers. Technically, that amounts to nothing more than the exercise of the ordinary right of the mine owners to run their business in their own way; in actual fact, however, it amounts to a refusal on their part to work under the award. The honorable member for Fawkner would bring the waterside workers within the scope of the Crimes Act, but, in the case of the mine-owners, he would probably call upon an expert economist to make a report upon the impossibility of conducting the coal mining industry under the present award. The honorable member says that the principle of requiring the transport workers to take out licences is no different from that under which doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and others are compelled to secure licences. I maintain that there is a vast difference. A licence under the Transport Workers Act is not made subject to any examination either as to ability or character. It does not matter what the past record of a man may be; he has only to apply for a licence, and it will be granted to him upon the payment of a shilling. It is a sort of “ bob “ salvation for the workers. The Attorney-General said that for years past there had been an excess of labour in the waterside industry. If he will have the records searched I am confident that he will find that he has not stated the position fairly. There has always been a reserve supply of labour; that is to say, there has been available a volume of labour that would alternate between the average amount required and an amount 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, above, that figure. When that volume of labour proved insufficient it was the practice for the foreman at the pick-up to engage workers who were not members of the waterside workers’ organization. At the port of Fremantle, where only unionists have been employed, 2,572 licences have been issued to waterside workers. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) has supplied me with a return showing the number of men who have been working there from time to time. On the 29th January the number was 1,067,, or less than 50 per cent, of the number registered. On the 30th January the number employed was 1,068; on the 31st J January it was 899 ; on the 1st February it was 951 ; and on the 2nd February it was 864. The most serious part of the matter is that those persons who had been issued licences were naturally encouraged to believe that opportunity for work would be available. They would regard themselves, not only as qualified for work, but as having a reasonable expectation of obtaining it. Thus, the effect of this provision in the port of Fremantle has been, not to ensure observance of the award, not to increase the standard of efficiency, but to encourage the assembling at Fremantle of about 2,000 men. for whom no work is offering, and who, but for this system of licences, would no doubt have sought their accustomed employment in the rural districts of the State. The em-
Mr. Curtin. ployers at Fremantle have never engaged non-union labour, because they have been taught by long years of experience that the unionists are more efficient. I have no doubt that almost similar ratios in respect to the number of persons licensed and actually obtaining employment would be found to prevail in the other ports of Australia. I ask the Government upon what principle of . equity, reason or fair dealing, should the. workmen in the port of Fremantle be compelled to take out licences under the Transport Workers Act, while the workers in Sydney are exempt ? They are working under the same award, but those at one port must pay ls. each for their certificates, and are subject to the penalties set out in the regulations, while those at the other are not subject to those conditions. For the most part these penalties seem of a vexatious character.. How many licences, I wonder, have actually been cancelled, and in how many instances have the penalties set out in the regulations actually been enforced? This measure has been designed for the dual purpose of incensing and provoking unionists, and as an excellent piece of window-dressing for a policy which needs a good deal of decoration. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) said that the unions themselves issue to their members what amount to licences to work. That is not the case. What the unions do is to issue a. certificate of membership pf an organization. It is true that the Arbitration Court, after carefully weighing the evidence, may prescribe preference to the members of an organization. That is a judicial decision. On the other hand, it often happens that the employers themselves, of their own choice, prefer to employ only unionists. The union ticket in that case is a testimonial, or an indication to the the employer that the man who is seeking employment is a member of a particular organization. There is no disqualification of persons who do not happen to possess union tickets, but there is a very definite disqualification of those persons who do not possess licences under the Transport Workers Act. The union ticket is a badge stating who the holder, is; he may carry it or not, as he likes. The licence is a qualification which the worker must possess before be can obtain employment. It lias been suggested that this measure is a step towards the settlement of the problem of industrial unrest. For my part, I believe that any measure which does not tend towards inducing the parties to settle their own differences, and to engage freely in negotiations, is bound to fail. I wish also to say a word upon a matter that was mentioned in the debate which occurred on this measure in the last Parliament, upon which I have not hitherto had an opportunity to speak. Any attempt to make a draconian code of laws applicable to the infinite variety of industrial conditions which exist throughout the Commonwealth, must collapse by its own rigidity. The awards of the Arbitration Court which are most suspect to-day are those which are rigid in character, such as that mentioned by the honorable member for Dalley, which broke up the amicable relations that had previously existed in Queensland between the workmen and employers. It is impossible to make one award which will satisfactorily cover the whole of the ports of the Commonwealth, for these include tropical ports in North Queensland ; ports into which comparatively few ships enter, such as Albany; and ports into which half the entire shipping of the Commonwealth comes every month, such as Sydney. There must necessarily be considerable differentiation in any sound regulation when the circumstances are so varied. In some places the workmen do nothing but engage in waterside work, while in others they work a ship when one is in port, but engage in other occupations when no shipping work is offering. Any attempt to cover this great diversity of conditions in one award must fail, and in endeavouring to deal with the industry in this way there can be no doubt that the arbitrator made a mistake. I entirely agree with the main arguments which have been advanced from this side of the house in support of the amendment, and thank honorable members for the attention they have given me.
.- Honorable members opposite seem to have singularly short memories. On the 25th October, 1927, Mr. Commis sioner Piddington, who did so much to help the Labour party in the last Federal election, made an award which compelled certain men who did not belong to a union to join one within two months or accept dismissal from their positions. Honorable members opposite did not utter a single word against that award. In fact, they appeared to regard it as a most desirable, profound and Solon-like edict. Itwas admirable in their eyes, although it meant that men who were non-unionists in the ration of two non-unionists to one unionist, and had previously worked side by side with unionists in perfect harmony - with advantage to the industry in which they were engaged, their employers and themselves - had to join the union or sacrifice their jobs. Honorable members opposite give additional evidence of shortness of memory, or failure to use it by overlooking entirely the genesis of the legislation of which they are now complaining. What caused this legislation to be introduced? It will be remembered that the waterside workers went on strike some time ago because they could not get an award. They could not get an award because they had so consistently committed breaches of the then existing award. During the period to which I refer, hardly a week went by without shipping being held up in some Australian port by a section of the waterside workers. These men, in season and out of season, carried on a most flagrant and open guerilla warfare without the slightest protest from honorable members opposite. They.. waged unceasing war, not merely against their employers, who gave them the means of earning their daily bread, but also against the general community, and against their country. It was none the less warfare, because it was waged without rifles. This warfare was undermining the financial strength and stability of the country. Honorable members opposite appear to have forgotten these important facts. Ultimately, however, the waterside workers went to the court, their leaders having entered into a solemn undertaking that if an award were given it would be observed, and the union would use all. the power it possessed to enforce it. The men went voluntarily to the court and upon the court accepting their undertaking, believed to have been given in good faith, that they would observe any award the court duly made a new award. Yet immediately the award had been given it was set aside by the union as a thing of no moment whatever. Of recent years there has been a considered and deliberate attempt on the part of trade union officials - I do not think that the rank and file are to blame - to make the trade union movement sacrosanct, and above the law of the land. Trade unionists, it would_ appear, claim the right to accept such awards as they please, and accept such conditions as are agreeable to them, and declare the whole remainder of the law of the land inapplicable to themselves. This unwholesome and wrong doctrine cannot be defended, although one can easily understand that it is seductive. The men are advised, apparently, first of all, to get what concessions they can by discussion and agreement with their employers; then to take to the court such points as they cannot settle by consultation. They are advised to accept what the court gives them if it pleases them, and to try to get by force anything else they may desire.
I do not suggest for a moment that the workers should not fight to better their conditions. It is in the best interests of the country that they should do so. But the sooner they recognize that their conditions cannot be improved beyond what industry can afford, the better it will be for everybody. There appears to be a feeling in some Quarters that industry has an inexhaustible supply of wealth from which the employers may draw, and that if the workers squeeze an industry hard enough they can get what they want out of it whether it has been earned or not. But no industry can pay out more than is being earned and still carry on. its operations. That is axiomatic and fundamental. Everybody must know it, but many seem to have forgotten it. When the waterside workers’ award was made operative the union immediately took the most offensive way of setting it aside. They declared that it was pernicious and vicious, and that, although they had given a solemn undertaking to obey the award, they would not work under it. Thus the whole of the people of Australia were involved in an industrial war.
There was no need for this conflict. It was provided in the Beeby award that until such time as the judge had an opportunity of visiting the ports of Queensland and taking evidence from the men working them, the existing award should continue to apply. In Queensland, therefore, the men went on strike under an award which contained the identical conditions under which they previously had been working satisfactorily. That is what we are told is the meaning of fighting for one’s rights. As a matter of fact the men were deliberately deceived and misled by their so-called leaders, for some political purpose or advantage which had nothing whatever to do with the industry.
– The honorable member is not quite accurate in his statement. The Beeby award introduced an extra picking-up place.
– The Queensland working conditions were not in any way changed by the Beeby Award of 1928.
– The honorable member is in error, for the award provided for an extra picking-up place.
– In almost every port of Australia two pick-ups are provided for, but by tacit consent that provision is not observed in some ports. Judge Beeby made it abundantly clear that under his award the way was open for local agreements to be made to meet local conditions. However, it is not the merits or the demerits of the Beeby award that at the moment concern me, but the insensate act of the so-called leaders of the union in interfering with a situation which was quite satisfactory. As the honorable member for Dalley has pointed out, there was no trouble under the award of the Queensland Board of Trade and the men could have continued to work under it. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) argued that laws should not be made to apply differently to different sections of the community, but that has always been a characteristic of the laws of civilized countries. We have, for example, laws which deal exclusively
With medical practitioners, and other laws which deal exclusively with dentists. We also have laws which deal differently with the two branches of the legal profession, and laws which apply solely to licensed victuallers. I could give endless instances of the kind, so the argument of the honorable -member falls to the ground. He also said that it was wrong for a law to be administered by the administrative head of a department; but every law must be administered by some administrative head. .
– The honorable member for Fremantle did not say that it should not be so.
– He said, in effect, that it was wrong for licences to work on the waterfront to be issued by the head of a department. The point is that these licences are issued by an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, and that is quite proper. Some reference has been made to the fact that electricians’ licences are issued by the Electricians’ Union of New South Wales. I do not know the facts of the case, but I know that it is quite proper for responsible officers of the Commonwealth Public Service to grant licences to work on the waterfront, for they are acting for the supreme- authority which brought this law into force.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– It is important that we should endeavour to determine whither trade unionism is trending. I am one of those who believe that the best interests of this country demand the existence of a strong and sane trade union movement. There was a time when the man on wages was in an unsatisfactory position by reason of the fact that, just as all employees were not good, likewise all employers of labour were not beyond reproach. There were faults on both sides. But when we entered the field of industrial arbitration it was believed that we were taking a step forward. The leaders of trade unionism then looked upon the system of arbitration as the charter of their liberties, the source from which all good would spring, and the fountain from which all blessings would be bestowed upon the workers. What is the position to-day? In 1925 one of the industrial leaders in Queensland, referring to the State Arbitration Court as constituted by Mr. Theodore, the then Premier of Queensland, and now the honorable member for Dalley, is reported to have said that arbitration proceedings were a sham ; that they now had something better than arbitration ; that they should move to get out of the Arbitration Court. A similar statement was made more recently concerning the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Only the other day the Australasian Council of Trade Unions passed a motion urging trade unionists to get away from the Arbitration Court, presumably because in its judgment the use of bruteforce was a stronger and more effective argument. Apparently the official’ view of trade unionism is that the Arbitration Court must give industrial organizations what they ask for, and when they ask for it. The court, it is suggested, must not weigh the- merits of a case ; it must not consider what an industry can bear or what is best in the interests of the community generally. It must grant the demands of trade unions without regard to economic facts, the logic of the circumstances, or the ability of industry to pay an increased wage. I remind honorable members opposite of a very pertinent remark made by Mr. Justice Lukin when * he was dealing with an application by the Federated Carters Union to withdraw its plaint from the court on the ground, inter alia, that there were practically no prospects of getting any improvement in their conditions. This is what Judge Lukin said -
An individual or organization that persisted in defying the laws of the community compelled the community to treat him or it as what he or it claimed to be - an outlaw, One of the necessary consequences of outlawry was a deprivation of the benefits of the law which the outlaw defied.
Honorable members opposite would do well to consider carefully the statement which I have just quoted and take stock of their own position. We can all understand the desire of the workers to improve their position. Honorable member* on this side of the House are at one with all other honorable members in this matter, though we may disagree as to the steps to be taken to attain the objective* We must recognize the force of the’ rudi- ‘mentary economic principle that ,w»’ cannot take out of industry more than it produces without killing the industry. Unfortunately, that is what is being attempted in these days in the various spheres of industrial activity. It has been said that the waterside workers, in defying the law of the land, have virtually made themselves outlaws, and should be dealt with under the law. Since it is the function of the Government to govern, it follows that it is essential to -ensure the observance of laws. In furtherance of this purpose, it was considered necessary, last year, to pass the Transport Workers Act. I believe’ in that piece of legislation. It was framed, not as honorable members opposite seem to think, to aid the employers in a class struggle, but to protect the bulk of the people from violence or lawless acts on the part of any section.
The first blow struck at the principle of industrial arbitration was the declaration of a strike some years ago at the Mount Morgan mine. The miners employed there had approached the court on several occasions for increases in wages, saying, they wanted the full fruits of. their industry, they did not want more, and would not take less, and, whilst copper was rising in price the court increased its awards, which the mining company was able to pay. But, when copper - began to fall in price, the company was not in a position to satisfy the demands of the men. They still expected the court to grant increased wages; but, after the books of the company had been audited by four competent auditors, one representing the company, another the claimant union and two appointed by the court, the court refused the application and ordered the continuance of the existing award. Being dissastisfied with the award, the miners declared the court and the award black. It is interesting to note what followed. The honorable member for ‘ Dalley, who was then Premier of Queensland; arranged to subsidize the company to the extent of £1,000 a week, so that it could pay the wages demanded by, the miners, although the court was satisfied that the increased wages demanded was more than the value of the output of the mine. The Queensland Industrial Arbitration Act of 1916 -was largely a re-enactment of the Indus- trial Peace Act of 1912, which measure, I may add, was placed upon the statutebook by a non-Labour government. The next blow struck at the system of arbitration was when the Labour Government, of which the honorable member for Dalley was then a. member, came back from an appeal to the people. Although the Government had given a pledge that there would be ‘ no reduction of wages, wages in the Public Service were reduced by 5s. per week, or 5 per cent., whichever was the greater sum. It should be noted, however, that, while the -Government reduced the wages of men on the breadline - men who were getting £3 a week or less - it restored the salaries of the higher-paid officials.
– The honorable member’s statement is not correct.
– I have no doubt that the truth hurts the honorable member; but it is necessary that the House should know the facts. Commonsense would have suggested that the first persons to benefit from such a measure as the Salaries Act of 1923 of Queensland, would be those who were nearest the bread line.
– Does the honorable member propose to connect his remarks with the motion before the Chair ? ‘
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, I submit that my remarks are relevant to a general discussion of the system of arbitration which is opened up by this measure. The next step taken to break down arbitration in Queensland was the strike of railway workers. When the railway workers approached the Arbitration Court for the first time they were informed that the court could not grant an increase in wages, but, notwithstanding this dictum, the increased wages were paid by the Government, and, as a consequence, the Arbitration Act of 1916 had to be repealed. The judges of the Arbitration Court did not wish to sit as members of a tribunal which, by the action of the Government of the day, had been brought into contempt, and we now have in its place the Queensland Board of Trade.
Where are we drifting with regard to arbitration? The position undoubtedly is serious. To maintain respect by the community for the court, it is essential that its awards should be obeyed by both parties to an industrial dispute. As the leaders of the trade union movement are defying the court, it is necessary for the Government to safeguard the interests of the community as well as those of the employees in an industry. It was in this atmosphere and in circumstances such as I have mentioned that the Transport Workers Act was placed upon the statute-book last year. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) was misunderstood by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) in his references to the position of workers who disobey the orders of the court. The honorable member did not, as was suggested by the honorable member for West Sydney, declare that workers who refused to work under certain awards were criminals, and no one for a moment thinks that they are.
– The honorable member himself said just now that workers who disobeyed the awards of the court were outlaws.
– I did not. I quoted the remarks of Mr. Justice Lukin, who, when dealing with an application by the Federated Carters’ Union to withdraw its plaint from the court, said that persons who defied the laws of the community compelled the community to treat them as outlaws. The honorable member for Fawkner illustrated his argument bystating that those who made the strongest objection to the passing of laws dealing with criminals were the persons most likely to come under the provisions of such laws. But every person who has regard for the law of the land considers it not as an instrument for his punishment, but as the source of his protection. To obtain the protection of the law a person merely has to obey it. Honorable members opposite, when dealing with industrial problems, speak as if Australia were divided into two distinct sections. They affect to believe it to be composed of workers who are exploited and of employers who are exploiting them. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact there is only one class in Australia, and employers . and employees alike belong to it. As many employees support Nationalist candidates as support candidates standing on behalf of the Labour party. We are all descended from the one stock. No matter to what party we may belong at the moment we all recognize that the members of no family in Australia can declare that they are not workers and that their children or children’s children will never be found in the ranks of the workers. There are no separate classes in Australia, and those who preach class consciousness and class distinctions do wrong, not only to themselves, but also to the people they pretend to be helping. The licences made available under the Transport Workers Act were open to all. No distinctions were made in issuing them. Any person who was a transport worker when the act came into operation was entitled to secure a licence if his character was respectable. It is true, of course, as one honorable member opposite declared in an impassioned address, that no man should be compelled to work at a fixed rate of wages. No one on this side of the House has contended - and it would be a sorry day for Australia if it should ever come about - that any person should be compelled to accept a given rate of wage. On the other hand no one should be entitled to say “I shall not work at that rate and shall take steps to see that no one else accepts it.” Yet that is the position taken up by many, and defended by honorable members opposite. It amounts to deprivation of liberty. When honorable members opposite talk of Southern Europeans and foreigners generally, they overlook the fact that some of Australia’s best citizens are the descendants of foreigners who came here to better their conditions. As a matter of fact, many of them have taken the oath of allegiance and by their observance of the law of the land have demonstrated that they are better citizens than many born in this country who refuse to obey the law. Many Southern Europeans are descended from as good stock as ourselves. Their countries have ancient civilizations and their culture is as deep rooted as ours. In any case, it is idle to say that persons who can be admitted to the membership of unions, and whose money is good enough to supply union funds are so inferior that they cannot be permitted to work when others refuse to take a job. If ever there was a time in the history of this country when in their own interests workers should be .protected from their misguided leaders, it is the present. Unemployment has never been so acute in Australia as it is at the present time, despite the panaceas which Labour Governments have sought to apply. We have a huge burden of public debt - higher, perhaps, in proportion to our population than that of any other country. When the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) was wooing, the electors of Queensland he said “ Put Labour into power for twelve months and if at the end of that time you can find one man unemployed you can get rid of us again.”
– Be accurate!
– Labour has remained in power in Queensland for twelve i years. The position of the State became so bad that it so frightened the honorable member for Dalley that he ran away from it. He now tells us that what he said when he was in power was quite wrong, and that all he said before he got into power was quite right, although it has since been found to be entirely « wrong. At no other time in the history of Australia has legislation of this character been found more necessary than it is at the present time, and the necessity for it has arisen from the misguidance of their so-called leaders, but really misleaders
.- No intelligent school boy would give credit to the statement of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) that at some time or other the Government of Queensland took steps to repeal the State Arbitration Act. The repeal of the State act has never been suggested in Queensland by any union, but the law has several times been amended to make it more workable. There is not a finer piece of industrial legislation in the world than the Queensland Arbitration Act. It is generally suggested in the South that the northern State is the home of industrial disputes, and there is a considerable amount of talk about industrial disputes in the sugar industry. There is no truth in this talk. There has not been a single dispute in the sugar industry in Queensland.
– What about the South Johnstone dispute?
– There have been small sectional disputes of which the South Johnstone was one. It did not amount to very much, and but for the stupidity, or something worse, of those who support the honorable member for Kennedy it would never have come about. There has been no conflict in the sugar industry in Queensland since 1911, because under the State law when trouble is threatened - not when it takes place - an application may be made to the industrial magistrate, and that gentleman can go to the place where there is a possibility of trouble and arrange an amicable settlement. There has not been one strike worth speaking of among the waterside workers of Queensland. The members of the waterside organization were desirous of remaining under the operation of the State law, and would still be working under it but for the desire of the BrucePage Government to amend the Commonwealth Arbitration Act and so make it. possible to embrace the Queensland workers under it. Employers of labour in the southern part of Australia are even now engaged in an endeavour to get another body of workers who are registered under the State act to come within the purview of the Federal Arbitration Court. This would enable them to secure a considerable reduction in- the rate for shearing sheep; but the employers are wise enough to remain under the State law with all its faults, because they recognize the splendid machinery it provides for the settlement of disputes.
Another inaccurate statement made by the honorable member for Kennedy was in regard to what happened at Mount Morgan. The honorable member spoke of the workers of Mount Morgan getting a wage fixed by a tribunal appointed by the State Government. The truth of the matter is that the wage given to the employees on the Mount Morgan mine was £3 12s. per week, whereas the basic wage the Arbitration Court fixed for the State was £4 5s. a week. The reason for that was the unfortunate position of the metal market of the world at tha time. Very wisely the Labour Government decided to set aside about £11,000 n year for the purpose of keeping the Mount Morgan mine going, because of the great number of people dependent on it for their livelihood. In my opinion it was more humane for the Government to adopt that course than to pel’171 it the company to cease operations, as it would have done but for the assistance it got. If that assistance had not been forthcoming the political fellows of the honorable member for Kennedy who sit in the State Parliament, would have been loud in their condemnation of the inhumanity of the Queensland Government in withholding assistance, and compelling the workers of Mount Morgan to accept the so-called dole or to draw Government rations. Another mis-statement by the honorable member for Kennedy was that the first step towards the breaking up of arbitration took place at Mount Morgan. As a matter of fact what occurred, at Mount Morgan had no more effect on the Queensland Arbitration Act than a mosquito would have on the features of the honorable member for Kennedy.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) claims that a union ticket is a licence to work. The honorable member does not know what a union ticket stands for. The man who carries a union ticket has in his pocket a badge of manhood, which he can show to his fellow men. It has been rightly said that it is the members of trade organizations who have made the conditions under which people work under arbitration awards. Why, then, should not every worker contribute his quota towards the cost of obtaining those conditions ? Some are said to have conscientious objections to taking out a union ticket, but I have not met one of them who has not had a sufficiently elastic conscience <to enable him to draw the increased wages that have been secured by the organization in the industry to which he belonged. A union ticket is not a licence to work, and it cannot be construed to be anything in the nature of the licence the Bruce-Page Government has compelled the transport workers to. take out before they can obtain work. In Brisbane 4,700 licences have been issued, but at its peak period the port cannot provide employment for more than 1,500 men. I am of thi? opinion that a great many young fellows took out licences thinking that by doing so they would get work. In the other ports of Australia which are working under licence conditions, the number of licences issued is out of all proportion to the number of workers that may be employed at any given time. There are at least three or four men holding licences for every man who has a possibility ‘ of getting work. The Government officers who issued these licences must have known that there was no earthly hope of work being secured by all to whom they were issued.
– They were getting money under false pretences.
– On more than one occasion I have made that charge. There is no truth in the assertion made in Southern Australia that there is continuous industrial trouble in Queensland. If the Commonwealth’s Arbitration Act worked only half as well as does the Queensland Act much bitter feeling that is now felt towards arbitration would not exist.
The honorary member for Warringah says that there are officials of the Australian Workers Union in this House. I do not think that there is one official of the Australian Workers Union in the chamber. I was an official of the organization for 20 years until I ceased my connexion with it the other day. But I make no apology for my association with the organization.
As a matter of fact I owe my position in this House and what knowledge I possess of the economic, social or .political world to the fact that my membership of the Australian Workers Union has enabled me to study as I could not have done if I had still been on the end of a pick or axe handle. I glory in the fact that I was an official of the organization. It would be good for some honorable members if they were officials of similar organizations. If instead of indulging in the cheap gibe that paid union officials receive £8 a week to cause industrial trouble, some of our critics would taste the joy of being paid officials of a union for ‘six months, they would be glad to look for some other employment. Still, the experience would develop their mentality to some extent. The Prime Minister has stated that industrial peace is desired, but that it must be peace with honour. The present state of affairs cannot be so described. I have just resigned from the presidency of the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers’ Union, but I was one of those, who at the Coolangatta conference of the union, opposed the invitation to send delegates to the Industrial Conference convened by the Prime Minister. As I doubted the sincerity of the convenors T did not believe that there was anything that could be usefully discussed at such a gathering. Yesterday we witnessed a remarkable demonstration of the sincerity of this Government in regard to arbitration, when we saw the Prime Minister taking advantage of a technicality- ‘
– Order ! The honorable member may not refer to a matter that has already been decided.
– The Labour party has stood, and stands yet, for arbitration. We know something of the system, and we believe that other people might, with advantage to the community, give more study to it. We have heard pleas for round table conferences, and honorable members opposite assure us that they desire industrial peace. Their every action belies that assurance. I believe that the Transport Workers Act was brought into existence by the Government for no other purpose than to provoke industrial trouble. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) told us that in an electorate in which are many thousands of transport workers, he was. elected by a record majority. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said that his increased majority was a demonstration of the public’s approval of the policy of the Government in relation to the transport workers. However that may be, I do know that in those places in the Herbert electorate where the transport workers were employed under licence, I received my biggest majorities. The people there resented the compulsion which the Government had put upon them and the differential treatment meted out at various ports to men who were guilty of the same offence. If, instead of passing the Transport
Workers Act, the Government had adopted the conciliatory methods prescribed by the Queensland Arbitration Act, the trouble on the waterfront would have been settled in its early stages, but the savage attack on industrial organizations has engendered in the hearts of the men bitterness against the employers and almost hatred of certain men in public life and the judiciary of the Arbitration Court.
I am convinced that certain clauses of the Beeby award were promulgated for the express purpose of causing trouble. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Francis) has said that the conditions imposed by Judge Beeby are not different from those that obtained in Queensland under the award of the State Arbitration Act. That is not correct. There is one marked difference; the Beeby award introduced two pick-ups, and that system had not been in force in Queensland for many years. . It is not fair to ask men who have to travel many miles to the pickup station to return in the afternoon, if they have not been fortunate enough to get work in the morning. The Queensland ship-owners have experienced no difficulty with the one pick-up. The award of the State Court provides for a twohours spread of the pick-up ; but rarely is that necessary. Usually the pick-up is completed in twenty minutes. As most vessels are fitted with wireless, the shipping companies are able to know to within half an hour the time at which each vessel will berth; ,and they have ample time to arrange for gangs of men to be at the wharf. Many men who do not get picked up in the morning and cannot attend in the afternoon, miss the casual employment they might otherwise get. The statement has been made that the men who are not engaged in the morning need not come back in the afternoon; but if they do not return they arepassed out for not having been on hand when they were wanted. The licensing system has caused intense bitterness.
The honorable member for Kennedy said that he did not suggest that the waterside workers are criminals. The Crimes Act, however, makes criminals of men who participate in industrial warfare. I shall never tolerate that. If a man conscientiously believes that there is only one way to get justice, and therefore takes the bit in his teeth, he should not be branded as a criminal on that account. If the transport workers are criminals, every sugar grower in Queensland was a criminal in 1.916. Had the Government employed conciliation instead of the bludgeon, the present deplorable state of affairs would not have arisen. The Australian, being a Britisher, believes in fighting in the open, and settling his differences face to face with his opponent, rather than in waiting for an opportunity to stick a knife under his ribs. But if men are denied a fair “ go “ they are forced to adopt underhand methods, and to await their opportunity for revenge. The Government is compelling the workers to resort to tactics that are foreign to their nature. During the last three or four years, I have said repeatedly that one of the objects of this Government in allowing indiscriminate migration, was the creation of such an army of unemployed that economic stress would cause the workers to accept conditions which in normal circumstances they would refuse. Migration is part of the scheme to disrupt the organizations of labour and lower the standard of living. [ have heard honorable members opposite say that they desire equal justice to be meted out to both sides in the industrial arena, but I am confident that when the coal miners receive a fortnight’s notice, no action will be taken against the mineowners; they will be considered to have done a legitimate thing because the industry cannot afford to pay the award wages, and they will be able to avoid the obligation imposed upon them by the courts.
I am pleased to have had an opportunity to speak at this stage, although I regret the circumstances that have made nlp remarks necessary. I repeat that if the Government were to adopt the same methods of settling industrial disputes as are practised under the arbitration law of Queensland, the people would hold the Arbitration Court and its awards in greater respect than they do at the present time.
– The extraordinary action of the Leader of the Opposition in moving to-day, before the Government’s amend ing measure could be presented to the House and before the honorable gentleman could, have the faintest idea of its provisions, that the Transport Workers Act should be repealed, would have been warranted only if , he had been able to offer some constructive alternative to that act as a means of bringing about industrial peace and continuity of work on. the water front. I have listened carefully to the speeches delivered by honorable members opposite - the merely destructive criticism of their leader, the tirade of abuse of the honorable member for Dalley, the able and thoughtful speech of the honorable member for Fremantle, whom I congratulate on. his maiden effort in this chamber, and the bitterness and suspicion of the honorable member for Herbert, who made the ludicrous statement that migration is promoted by the Government as part of a , scheme for undermining the conditions of the workers. This statement will be ridiculed throughout Australia, because it is common knowledge that the StateGovernments have full control of assisted, migration and that the Commonwealth Government merely gives effect to their requisitions. Though such an allegation may- be applicable to other countries, it is> not applicable to Australia. I listened iu> vain for any constructive suggestion by the Opposition for bringing about industrial peace on the water front ; all I heard was a proposal to restore the status quo ante and to rely entirely upon the provisions of the Arbitration Act. Ii will be remembered, however, that during the last Parliament the Opposition refused to help us in the remodelling of that act. Yet to-day they tell us that the Arbitration Court alone is the means of bringing about industrial peace. Actually they have no constructive suggestions to make, and their endeavour to secure the repeal of the Transport Workers Act is but the natural sequence and climax of the tragic ineptitude and pusillanimity of the socalled leaders of labour in connexion with industrial disputes during the last three years, especially those disputes in which the waterside workers and the seamen have participated.
It is worth while to recall briefly the circumstances in which the Transport Workers Act came into being. Early
Last year the executive of the Waterside Workers’ Federation gave a definite undertaking that if Judge Beeby would give priority of hearing to their plaints over those of other organizations, his award would be honourably observed. Just when the exporting season was imminent the award was promulgated and the executive of the federation, ignoring its solemn pledge, repudiated the decision of the court and, on the 7th September, advised the members of the organization to strike. On the 9th September the waterside workers throughout the Commonwealth discontinued work. On the 11th September the Prime Minister in this House warned the unions publicly that the Government would do everything possible to secure a continuity of work along the waterfront, so that there should be no interruption of the carriage of our goods overseas and of trade generally. Then the waterside workers’ executive, which had given a solemn undertaking to Mr. Justice Beeby that it would carry out the terms of the award and had by resolution repudiated that award and undertaking, again met on the 17th September-and repudiated its resolution of ten days previously. It told the unionists whom it controlled to return to work, because the previous resolution of repudiation had had all the beneficial effect that it could have. But what happened? The unionists, who, first of all, had been told by their executive to go on strike, and then not to go on strike, refused in many parts of Australia to go back to work. The executive found that it was much easier to start a fire than to nut it out. After the unionists had refused to abide by this second command of the executive, it set about to see whether it could bring in to the strike other unionists throughout Australia to assist the men who were striking against its commands. Such leadership was ludicrous in the extreme, and it was tragic from the point of view of the workers themselves and the general public.
The effect of the Transport Workers Act that was passed last year was to ensure a continuity of work along the waterfront. Better conditions of loading and unloading than had been ex- perienced for many years were brought about. In some ports where previously 18 tons of goods had been customarily loaded by a gang, 27 tons were handled in the same time. In others where 14 tons had been the usual quantity, 21 and 25 tons were dealt with. In no case was the increase in the quantity of cargo handled less than 50 per cent. Everybody throughout the whole’ of the waterside districts recognized the immense improvement brought about as the result of the operation of the act.
During this period the election campaign was in progress, and the result of the voting throughout Australia was an emphatic endorsement of the action of the Government regarding transport work. This measure was one of the outstanding features of the Government’s policy. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has remarked that in an industrial suburb he largely increased his majority. That was the experience of country members throughout the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) for instance, was returned with a triumphant majority. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) doubled his majority. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter), whose seat was to be captured by the Labour party, we were told, trebled his majority. The Senate vote enables one to study the opinion of the electors as a whole, and one finds that of the nineteen Senate candidates returned twelve are supporters of the Government.
– But the aggregate majority over the whole of Australia was only about 60,000 votes compared with 260,000 previously.
– It cannot be denied that this Government is. supported by a majority of the electors, but the Queensland Government has practically always been supported by a minority of the total votes. The people of Australia emphatically endorsed the policy of the Commonwealth Government, realizing that a constructive effort had been made to bring about industrial peace and continuity of work on the waterfront. The people recognized that something was being done to maintain our exports and imports and to reduce the cost of living. The Labour party has not submitted any constructive suggestion, but it has denounced the legislation brought down by the Government as provocative. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat suggested that the Government introduced the Transport Workers Act before the waterside workers’ strike had occurred, but the facts are that that act was brought down to end a strike that had already commenced. Honorable members opposite wish to deceive the people by telling them that this was a provocative measure, although they’ well know that it was brought down as a remedial act and that it has had its effect. Improved conditions along the waterfront in the loading of ships have been brought about.
If one examines the conditions in other countries it is found that similar systems to that introduced in Australia are in operation as the most practicable means to ensure continuity of work on the waterfront. In various ports in Great Britain different systems of registration have been adopted for the definite purpose of making improvements in the handling of cargoes and in the conditions of the men. Registration has been resorted to in other countries, not because compulsion has been brought to bear by governments, but because the men have voluntarily accepted that system as being for their own benefit. Take the great port of Liverpool. In 1912 the workers and the employers there conferred, and decided that the only way in which their problems on the waterfront could be solved -was by a system of registration. For seventeen years, therefore, work on the waterfront has been regulated by a committee consisting of representatives of both sides in industry, and that body operates successfully at the present time, tn London, seven years after the system had been established in Liverpool, the problem at the docks was dealt with in a similar manner. Bristol followed the example of Liverpool in 1916, and Hull has taken similar action within the last three or four years. The conditions associated with registration where voluntary systems are in operation, are the kernel of the measure that has been put into operation in Australia. For instance, it is provided in Great Britain that if the committee finds that there has been serious misdemeanour, such as pilfering or an act of misconduct, it can cancel the registration of the workers in a particular port. Precisely similar provisions are contained in the Transport, Workers Act.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) said that doctors and lawyers were registered and had to pass an examination, t but that the licence required by the waterside worker required no qualification at all. I maintain that there is a qualification; it is the conduct of the man himself. Certainly, no examination is passed to entitle him to a licence, but he is liable to have his licence cancelled if he does not abide by the conditions laid down by the court regarding the observance of awards. Another qualification is the absence of convictions and so forth. It has been suggested that the mere fact of registration is demeaning, lowering the worker’s status of manhood. In my own profession registration is essential before a member is allowed to do any work at all, and similar conditions obtain in the dental and legal professions. As the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) pointed out, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) decides whether men can be registered in. New South Wales as electricians. The other day, when there was a bill under discussion in the New South Wales Parliament, dealing with housing. Mr. Davies, a Labour representative from a south coast district, tried to induce the State Government to insert a clause insisting on the registration of the builders of homes under the Savings Bank Act, to make certain that they would do their work properly - similar registration to that required under the Transport Workers Act. Registration has always -been insisted upon in those industries which touch closely and intimately the life, health and the property of the people. Nothing more closely affects the life and welfare of the community than the proper conduct of our import and export trade, which is the very life blood of the nation. One reason why the Government was returned with its solid numbers and why the majority of many members throughout Australia was increased was the introduction of this measure. The Opposition boasts of having increased its numbers, but it knows quite well that the reason for the increase in New South Wales, for instance, had nothing whatever to do with federal issues. If we look at the propaganda put out in that State in the last two or three weeks of the election campaign, it will be found that 90 per cent, of it had no relation to federal affairs.
– That, statement is not correct.
– It is absolutely true. In South Australia the position was the same. As I went through Australia I found that the action of the Government in regard to the transport trouble had received almost unanimous’ endorsement.
– Then why did the honorable gentleman’s party lose ground?
– I increased my majority by 5,000 votes, and in Queensland and the States generally every Government supporter improved his position. The result of the election was not very different from that predicted by me. My estimates were much nearer the actual figures than were the predictions of the honorable member for Dalley. I have no wish to detain the House .on this matter, because already too much time has been occupied in preventing honorable members from learning the exact nature of the measure to be brought down. It is impossible for the members of the Opposition and the leaders of the Labour party to continue along the paths they have chosen. We find that when a general election is in progress, they pose as constitutional socialists, willing to do everything by constitutional means, but as soon as they are confronted with a practical problem such as a strike in an industry, or the non-observance of an award which may interfere with conditions already obtained by the workers, they become, in actual practice, communists of the ordinary type. They then subordinate the interests of the community to those of the class, and would be laws unto themselves. They dare not tell the people who trust them and have blindly followed them that the right thing to do is to observe the law in every respect. Under a system of registration, employment at Australian ports is likely to be decasualized, and casual labour will eventually be greatly diminished. The registration system instituted in Great Britain has been of considerable benefit to the waterside workers there in this respect, and I am sure that Australia cannot do better than follow the example of the Mother Country.
.- During this debate a political drama has been staged by the members and supporters of the Government, the Prime Minister being the leading comedian and the Treasurer the tragedian. The Prime Minister in his opening remarks this afternoon referred to the promise that he made to the people of Australia during the election campaign. From what I can gather, the main feature in the policy of the Government as then outlined by the Prime Minister, was the intention of the the Government to introduce legislation to amend the Transport Workers Act. This is an iniquitous proposal to take from the workers of Australia privileges and conditions gained by them after years of struggle and hardship. The Prime Minister has stated that he cannot go back on the promise that he made to the electors. He. has not always been so anxious to carry out his promises. I have a vivid recollection of the scare which was raised by the Government prior to the general elections three years ago. Honorable members supporting the Government made damaging and unfair statements concerning the action of the workers, and of their leaders throughout Australia. All persons associated with the Labour party three years ago were, according to the Government, allied with a certain section of the workers of the world, whose sole object was to undermine the British Empire. That gospel was preached then, and it carried a certain amount of weight with the electors, because quite a number of stalwart adherents to the Labour parry were defeated. When the next election was imminent the Government knew that to retain, office another bogy would have to be raised. It, therefore, again fomented industrial warfare on thea Australian waterfront. An undertaking was given by Judge Beeby to the waterside workers that his award would not be completed until some time in November”.
Without warning, and at the dictation of the Government, Judge Beeby delivered his award some months earlier. The matter in dispute related not to wages but to the pick-up, and contrary to the wishes of the waterside workers the award provided for two pick-ups, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I support firmly the attitude of the workers. They were prepared to attend the pick-up in the morning, but to ask them to return in the afternoon on the offchance of obtaining employment was ridiculous. There is absolutely no need for the afternoon pick-up, because as has been stated by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), the shipowners are able to ascertain by wireless the exact hour when the men will be required on the wharfs. The Government passed the Transport Workers Act ostensibly to bring about law and order, and peace in industry throughout Australia; but the motive behind that legislation was the fomenting of industrial warfare solely for political purposes. Regulations were issued compelling the workers to register. It was repugnant and degrading to those men to have to get licences in order that they might be in a position to provide the necessaries of life for their wives and families. The Transport Workers Act has been , the means of bringing poverty and distress to the workers of this country. The Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members of this House have made every endeavour to bring the parties to the dispute together so that peace might prevail on the waterfront.
– The Prime Minister consistently refused to bring the parties together.
– That is true, although the leaders of the Labour movement did their best to settle the. dispute. The then Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hogan, made desperate efforts to bring the two parties to the dispute together., and I really believe that had the Prime Minister intervened, the strike would have been prevented and this discussion would not have arisen. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said that doctors and lawyers and members of other professions had to take out licences. That is true to the extent that many professional .men must obtain certain diplomas before they are permitted to practise. The honorable member also pointed out what might happen if the bedside workers refused to do their duty to the people of Australia. Let me say that in some cases doctors have refused pointblank to attend the bedside of sick persons simply because there was little prospect of obtaining a fee.
– The honorable member should give an instance.
– The honorable member for Bass cannot deny that on one occasion the members of the British Medical Association walked out of the Hobart Hospital, refusing to attend to the unfortunate patients. Doctor Ratten alone stood by the Hospital Board, and for his action he was bitterly attacked by the members of the British Medical “Association. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) laid the blame for strikes on the Labour leaders. I have been a leader of an industrial organization in Tasmania, and I have a vivid recollection of what occurred once when two unfortunate men were fatally injured at the Tasmanian gold mine. The workers of that mine, in the heat of the moment determined that their president should view the scene of the. accident, but the mine manager refused to allow him to do so. A meeting of the men was called, and several resolutions were carried.. I knew that these men, in their calmer moments, would regret their action, and I told them so frankly. Despite my efforts they went ahead and instructed me to take action. The following night a meeting of women was called at Beaconsfield. No man was allowed to be present except the minister of the Methodist Church, who acted as chairman. Those women, for my action in obeying the workers, were prepared to tar and feather me. That is one of many instances which I could quote to show that the Labour leaders are not responsible for the actions of the men. It is nonsense to suggest that intelligent bodies of men ave under the absolute control of their leaders. When an industrial upheaval or a stoppage of work takes place every member of the organization concerned has the right to express his opinion, and if a unionist has not the courage to. do that then he deserves all he gets. I stand for absolute preference of employment to any man or woman who is a member of an organization. If they contribute to the funds of an organization they should share in the benefits obtained by the efforts of that organization. The conditions that the workersare enjoying have not been given to them by philanthropic employers; they have been won by them after years of agitation and hardship. It is therefore only right that unionists should receive preference of employment. In the course of his speech the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) said that Australia was not the only country in which men were licensed to work. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) also when replying to a deputation said, “ Have not plumbers to be licensed?” As the nature of their work demands that only competent men be permitted to carry it out, licences are necessary. The same thing applies to electricians because of the skill required in their work. But in the case of men whose duty it is to load and unload timber or other cargo from the ships’ slings, the position is different; the amount of skill required is not so great. The Treasurer said that in England men are licensed, but he did not say whether the system of licensing was confined to the docks or was general throughout the country. Some time ago I visited Geneva at the invitation of the Commonwealth Government. While absent from Australia, I took the opportunity to visit England where I inquired into the conditions of the workers. I heard nothing about licences. The Treasurer may have been referring to the National Seamen’s Union, which is an organization allied with the shipowners of England, when he said that before a man could obtain employment on any ship controlled by the overseas shipping companies, he must be a member of that union.
– I did not say that; I referred to the dock employees.
– As I do not know whether the dock employees belong to the National Seamen’s Union, I must accept the Treasurer’s statement. The amended Arbitration Act contained all the machinery necessary to deal with industrial disputes. I am a believer in arbitration, but I remind honorable members that the workers have not had it all their own way in the Arbitration Court. Honorable members opposite have said a great deal about the workers not accepting awards of the Commonwealth with which they are not satisfied. I remember the first award given by the late Mr. Justice Higgins in the case of the Australian builders’ labourers. That award was given in a proper constitutional manner in an Arbitration Court, but the employers fought the members of the organization all the way. They took the case from court to court ; when they could go no further in this country they appealed to the Privy Council. The Australian Builders’ Labourers Union engaged Mr. Rundle and sent him to England to. fight their case at a very heavy cost to the organization. The Privy Council, feeling that it was not sufficiently in touch with industrial conditions in Australia, decided that the case should be deferred for six months. Mr. Rundle returned to Australia, and the union had to bear the expense of sending him to England a second time. Although the union won the case, it was about £300 on the wrong side of the ledger. The awards of the court were based on the cost of living in the various cities throughout the Commonwealth, and have a definite basis; but there has been a gradual whittling away of the margin for skill. Increased boy labour is introduced into the mines or workshops to displace men who have wives and families to support, and the workers naturally rebel. The Transport Workers Act was placed on the statute-book because of the superior weight of numbers on the other side of the chamber. Honorable members opposite claim that the Government has received a mandate from the people to introduce legislation of this nature ; but I remind them that the number of members on this side of the House is greater than before the election,while there is a corresponding decrease on the other side. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister visited Hobart where he delivered a fine address on behalf of the Government candidates, but notwithstanding his efforts, I am here to-day. Had some of the other men who at one time intended to seek election done so, there would have been two more vacant seats on the other side of the chamber. Should the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition be defeated, it will be due to the Government’s activity in the interests of the capitalists. Honorable members opposite claim to represent the whole of the people of Australia, but in reality they represent only a section of the community. No man can serve two masters. Despite the majority behind the Government to which the Treasurer referred, its position is not very secure; indeed, the majority was absent yesterday. The Labour party will continue to act in the interests of the workers, and despite the efforts of the Government to pass class legislation, to break down the industrial organizations, and to take from the workers the freedom won for them by the sweat and blood of their forefathers, it will eventually come into its own. If members opposite would study the industrial history of England and learn what men and women suffered in the days of the Chartist movement that we might enjoy greater freedom, they would see the futility of many of the things they attempt to do. The spirit of our forefathers will live for ever, the spirit of rebellion will rise again, and within three years the workers of this country will be represented on the treasury bench.
.- Mr. Speaker -
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided.
Aves . . . . . . 37
Noes .. .. ..31
Majority … . . 6.
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the question (Mr. Scullin’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce - (By leave.) - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, the following members be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz., Mr. Malcolm Cameron, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Josiah Francis,Mr. Gregory, Mr. Jackson and Mr. McGrath.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the Houes do now adjourn.
– I take the opportunity to ventilate what I consider to be a very important matter and, as the hour is not late and the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) have been apprised of my intention, I feel sure that those honorable gentlemen will not object to my dealing with it briefly at this stage. Certain matters have been placed before the Attorney-General which involve allegations of a very serious nature against certain Commonwealth officers and witnesses in a prosecution which took place in August last against an official of the Australian Seamen’s Union, Mr. Jacob Johnson. The allegations are contained in a series of documents, several of which are statutory declarations. I am not aware precisely what papers have been placed in the hands of the Attorney-General, but I know that several representations were made to the honorable gentleman by the solicitors who acted on behalf of Mr. Johnson, and that amongst the documents submitted to him was the principal statutory declaration. These allegations really amount to a charge against the prosecution of having framed evidence against Johnson, and because of their serious nature the Attorney-General should give the matter early consideration. It is for that reason that I now bring it forward. [ have had no opportunity, nor would I have the facility, to investigate the bona fides of the statements made, but I shall place before the House exactly what I have in my possession. The evidence points to the allegation that witnesses put forward by the Commonwealth in this prosecution perjured themselves to secure
Johnson’s conviction, that certain evidence was faked, and that an atempt was made to obtain other faked evidence in order to bring about a conviction. The first document that I desire to quote is a copy of a statutory declaration made by one James Bede Andresen, who was a witness for the prosecution against Johnson. It is dated the 23rd January, 1929, was declared at Wellington, New Zealand, before a justice of the peace, whose signature I find difficulty in deciphering, but which looks like “ J. Watt,” and reads - [Copy.]
In the mutter of Jacob Johnson, of Sydney, in the State of New South Wales, Union Secretary.
I, James Bode Andresen, recently residing at No. 51 Glenmore-road, Paddington, Sydney, but at present in Wellington, in the Dominion of New Zealand, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: -
JAMES BEDE ANDRESEN.
Declared at Wellington this ‘ 23rd day of Jan., 1929, beforeme
The same man made another and a prior statutory declaration, declared at Sydney, New South “Wales, on the 11th January, 1929, as follows: - [Copy.]
I, James Bede Andresen, late of 51 Glenmire Road, Paddington, and of the Sailors Home Wellington New Zealand, a member of the Federated Seamens Union of Australia do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: -
At the instigation of a Commonwealth Police Officer George McFarland Alexander Longmore, I went to Strathfield in company with Rigby and Powell (two witnesses in the Jacob Johnson case heard at the Central Police Court in August last past) who stated that they would like to see my statements as regard to matters which transpired at meetings held on the 20th and 21st of June last past. They said we intend to corroborate your statements in every respect regarding the statement alleged to have been made by Johnson at the aforesaid meetings. After the case had been decided in the Court of Petty Sessions in August last past, Powell said to me : “ We put it right across you as we were not at the meetings when Johnson used the alleged words, viz: “If any man mans the Katoora until the Adelaide Steamship Company supply three extra men he will be a “ scab “ and will be ostracized from the trade union movement “.
Further, that the said George McFarland Alexander Longmore supplied mewith money for the purpose of securing statements from other members of the union.
After supplying Andrew Amundsen (at present in the Liverpool State Asylum) and Joseph Johnston Inglis with intoxicating liquor, affidavits were compiled to the effect that Jacob Johnson was guilty of the alleged utterances. Subsequently, the said Amundsen and Inglis informed me that they were not at the said meetings.
And I make this solemn declaration believing the same to be true in accordance with the Oaths Act. (Signed)
JAMES BEDE ANDRESEN.
Declared at. Sydney in the State of New
South Wales, this 11th day of January, 1929.
Before me :
There is also a further statutory declaration which is signed by Amundsen, the man referred to in the previous statutory declarations and who is now, apparently, in the Liverpool State Asylum, for old and infirm people. It reads : -
I, Andrew Amundsen, at present an inmate of the Liverpool State Asylum, Liverpool, in the State of New South Wales, and a member of the Seamen’s Union, book No. A2261, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: -
That a man whom I now know to be James Bede Andriessen and another man whom Andriessen told me later was a Secret Service man, met me at the seamen’s pick-up (Shipping Office) and took me to an hotel in York Street. After having some beerhe askedme “ Were you at the special meeting?” I said “No” He said, “ Oh, yes you were “. I again said “No”. He said, “Oh, it is all right. I’ll tell you what to say. You will be alright, you’ll be looked after. You will come in with us, there are plenty of others in it.” We had some more beer and lunch and went up to the CustomsOffice. There was another officer in the office who took a statement from me to the effect that I was at the special meeting and that I heard Johnson make the statement complained of. The statement is : “ That any man manning the Katoora will be a scab and ostracized from the movement “. We then left the office; after we got out Andriessen said, “ It is alright, there is plenty money in this “. We then went to Pitt-street to the Crown Law Solicitor’s office, where I was again asked to make and sign a statement to the effect that Johnson said “ That any man who mans the Katoora until the Adelaide Steamship Company supply three extra men he will be a scab and will be ostracized from the trade union movement “ or- words to that effect.
When we left the office, Andriessen gave me two shillings and said, “ You are alright now, you will get plenty more later “. I then went and had a meal as I was very hungry, not having had enough to eat for some weeks. The beer had gone to my head and I was rather confused as to what had happened, but after the meal, especially after Andriessen: said that there was plenty of money in it, I commenced to realize that there was something crook in this. This conviction grew as. I remembered the statements signed by me. I walked around all day and did not sleep oneminute all night and finally made up my mind to go to the Customs Office and the Solicitor’s.
Office in the morning andrepudiate the whole affair. When I got to the Customs Office in the morning, I met Andriessen outside. I told him what I was going to do. Andriessen said, “ If you do that you will be jailed for making false declarations”,” to which I replied, “ I don’t care, I have never done anything crook in my life, and I am not going to start now “. He then said that he would go up and see if he could fix things up for me. When he came back he told me that everything was alright, that my evidence would not -be called as it was not considered satisfactory “.
And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same , to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Oaths Act. 1900. (Signed) A. AMUNDSEN.
Declared by the said Andrew Amundsen at Liverpool this 6th day of February, 1929; Before me,
A Justice of the Peace.
– Andresen gave evidence and, I understand, was considered an important witness by the prosecution against Johnson. Amundsen was not called. There are two other documents which I should like to read. One is from James Andresen, and is addressed to Mrs. Johnson, wife of Jacob Johnson. It was written from the rooms of the Sailors’ Friend Society, Wellington, New Zealand, and is as follows: -
Dear Mrs. Johnson. - Find enclosed a declaration made by me in Wellington, New Zealand. See Dr. Evatt, also Mr. Theodore, M.H.R. I have made six declarations, which will be distributed. I am sorry for my action, but it is never too late to. mend. I am dropping Jacob a line. - (Signed) James Bede Andresen.
There is a further letter, dated the 24th January, addressed to Johnson himself, and it states -
Dear Jacob. - Since arriving here I have made six affidavits. Your wife will have one. No doubt you were railroaded by unscrupulous persons for political purposes. My position has become untenable, and I intend to see the prosecution exposed. The seamen of this country are highly incensed regarding the methods of procedure adopted by the shipowners to gaol you. Myself, I gave evidence purely from animosity towards you, but I can assure you that I am suffering. Never mind, Jacob, I will clear your name, and probably go to gaol myself. We all make mistakes, and I realize mine. Trusting we will meet again under better circumstances. - I remain, yours sincerely - (Signed) James Bede Andresen.
That represents the documentary evidence supporting the allegation of malpractice. The evidence may not represent proof, and the charges may not be capable of being proved. I do not know.
– Is Andresen available f or cross-exami nation ?
– The advisability of having him cross-examined might be considered if the opportunity presents itself. He was in Wellington when those letters were written, and that is not very long ago; I do not know what sort of a man Andresen is. He may be a blackguard; he is evidently a self-confessed perjurer, but obviously he was depended upon to a great extent in the prosecution against Johnson.
– If the statements in his declaration are true.
– Whether true or not, he gave evidence in the court which in this statutory declaration he undermines. His sworn declaration is contrary to the evidence he gave. If the evidence was true, his declaration is false; if the declaration is true, the evidence was false.
– Was the falsity of his evidence known to the prosecuting authorities ?
-I do not know; but I do know that four witnesses called by the prosecution - Rigby, Powell, Andresen, and Ford were put forward as estimable citizens with no interest in the case but the advancement of justice. From what I remember of the reports of the case, a good deal of reliance was placed upon Andresen’s evidence. If the evidence he gave proves to have been worthless, some urgent action should be taken by the Government, even at this stage, to see that justice is done. There was a great deal of interest taken in the trial, partly because of the militancy of the man being prosecuted, and partly because of his prominence in the trade union movement. Perhaps, because of these things, there was also a great deal of heat in the prosecution, and possibly there was more zeal displayed to secure a conviction than to promote the true ends of justice. However, I do not propose at this stage to discuss the merits or demerits of the prosecution, but merely to bring certain matters before the notice ofthe
Attorney-General and of this House. Without putting it forward as proving anything, I think that the evidence which I have quoted justifies the taking of some action. It involves more than a suggestion of corrupt practices, and holds an implication of something crooked in the administration of justice under the Commonwealth Government. If such implications can be drawn from these documents, the Government should not rest until the whole matter has been investigated.
– It is rather a strong charge to make upon the statement of a self-confessed perjurer.
– Yes ; but Johnson may be serving his sentence because of the evidence of this self-confessed perjurer.
– I am referring to the charge against the officer.
– The allegation is that Longmore, of the Commonwealth Police Service, used his position to try to fake up evidence against Johnson. That allegation may be completely false, but it ought to be investigated. An investigation should be made, not only into the worthiness or otherwise of Longmore, which might be done under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, but also into whether or not justice was meted out to Johnson in this prosecution. That is all I ask. If these charges are ignored, or action is delayed, the idea may get abroad that the administration of justice in the Commonwealth is warped, and can be manipulated, especially in respect of union officials or persons whose political activities are directed against the Government. It might be said that there is a possibility of conspiracy between the employers and Commonwealth officers, charged with the administration of the law during the operation of an industrial dispute. I do not think that any honorable member wants that possibility to arise. These allegations, it is true, are made by a person who may not be responsible, but they have been made to union officers, and to the solicitors who acted for Johnson at his trial. To that extent they are public property. They have been placed before me with a view to having some action taken. I have submitted them to the Attorney-General, and have received an intimation from him to the effect that the matter is receiving the attention of officers in his department. I think, however, that the charges should be taken outside the routine of a departmental inquiry, and an investigation held in the most public way by a royal commission, or some other competent authority, into the truth or otherwise of the allegations.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) has placed before the House certain documents which suggest two charges. The first is that Mr. Longmore, an officer of my department, has been guilty of an attempt to obtain evidence at all costs for the purpose of making a case against an accused person; the second is that Jacob Johnson was convicted on evidence which Andresen says was subsequently admitted by witnesses to be untrue. If either of those allegations can be supported it is, indeed, serious. It is: the duty of the Law Department of the Commonwealth not to treat them at all lightly, but to examine them very carefully. The Commonwealth Law Depart- ment, and the Attorney-General as the head of that department, perform functions which are entirely non-politicaL I of course, regard myself as a political minister; but when I am concerned with the administration of the law, I act as a lawyer and as the legal adviser of the Government, and consider that a duty rests upon me to see that nothing is done that in any way savours of injustice or sharp practice. I am quite prepared to deal with any criticism which may be directed against me on that ground. I recognize that it is the duty of the Law Department to inquire into these allegations, and to regard them as serious.
I first heard of this matter from the solicitors for Jacob Johnson, who forwarded me a copy of one declaration made by Andresen. which the honorable member for Dalley has read. They did not send me the declaration made by Amundsen, of which I heard for the first time when the honorable member’ mentioned it to me yesterday. I can only suppose that they did not regard it as either important or significant. Nor did they send me the earlier declaration of 11th January, 1929, made by Andresen. I have received only the declaration which was made in New Zealand on the 23rd January, 3929. The other four documents which the honorable member read have not been sent to me by the solicitors for Jacob Johnson, nor have they come before me. [ may say, however, that I read in the Sydney Workers’ Weekly a copy of the declaration of the 11th January. The material upon which I have been considering the matter is that which is contained in the declaration made by Andresen in New Zealand.
To understand this matter, it is necessary to go back to the period of the cooks’ strike, which occurred last year. I shall state shortly certain facts which will not be disputed, to remind honorable members of the position that then existed. There was a division in the ranks of the Seamen’s Union concerning the cooks’ strike. After some time had elapsed the then Minister for Trade and Customs took action under the provisions of the Navigation Act which made it possible for vessels to proceed to sea without cooks, except those that might be employed by the men themselves who were to be paid a victualling allowance. The Seamen’s Union in Sydney objected to any vessels sailing under those conditions. The union in Adelaide took a different view, and agreed that its members should man the ships. The president of the union in Adelaide, Rigby, and another member of that branch, Powell, became members of the crew of the Barwon, in accordance with the authority of their union. The Barwon came round to Sydney. These men were sent for by Johnson, in whose office an interview took place. Two meetings of the Seamen’s Union were held, at which the question of the manning of the Barwon and the Katoora was dealt with. The subject matter of the charges consists of statements alleged to have been made by way of intimidation by Johnson in his office and at the two meetings. The evidence for the prosecution was directed to those three incidents. Ft was alleged that in his office Johnson said that unless these two men came off the ship, they would be “ scabs,” and thai, bags of ashes could conveniently fall from ash hoists. It was further alleged by the prosecution that at the meetings referred to Johnson had abused the men, had called them “scabs,” and had said that it would be unsafe for them to walk about the streets in future if they continued to serve on the Barwon. Put shortly, that was the case for the prosecution. Evidence in relation to the incident in the office was given by three witnesses - Rigby, Powell, and Forde. The evidence regarding the meetings was given by Rigby, Powell, and Andresen
– Who is Forde?
– He was present at the interview which took place in the office. The statement by Andresen relates only to the occurrences at the meetings. The evidence for the defence was given by Johnson and four other witnesses.
– Was that the whole of the evidence for the prosecution?
– There were only four witnesses for the prosecution and four, in addition to Johnson himself, for the defence. Johnson gave evidence - I have the depositions - in which he placed a different aspect upon the facts. He admitted that he did not agree with the action of these men, but said that he had used only what- one might call very mild language - that it was a deplorable action. He claimed that that was as far as he had gone. The other men who were called for the defence said that they did not hear Johnson use the words complained of.
– They did not say he did not use them, but that they did not hear him use them?
– That is so. The magistrate convicted Johnson, who appealed, but the conviction was confirmed.
In passing, I may say that in paragraph 14 of the declaration that the honorable member for Dalley has read, the statement is made that Andresen had sworn two affidavits, and that only the second was produced on the appeal. That was a matter entirely within the discretion of Johnson’s counsel. Everybody knew of the other affidavit; it was used at the time of the prosecution, and if Johnson’s counsel had thought it worth while he could have used it on appeal. I shall not spend any further time in discussing that aspect.
I may say that the proceedings took place in August last. According to the copy of the declaration that has been forwarded to me, it was sworn by Andresen in New Zealand on the 23rd January last. En that declaration Andresen says that he was employed by Longmore, one of the officers of my department, to collect evidence ; that he was given a few shillings at a time to provide entertainment for potential witnesses; and that, on the 11th August, he was sent to Strathfield to interview Rigby and Powell to obtain, at all costs, corroboration of his statement. He says he obtained that corroboration; that at the time he obtained it he thought that Rigby and Powell were present all through the meetings, but that he subsequently discovered that they were not present in the early part of the meetings. The most critical statement in the declaration is paragraph 13, which reads : -
After Johnson’s conviction the said Rigby, Powell, and Forde stated to me that they were not at the said, meetings at the time when Johnson spoke, having arrived late on both occasions.
That is the critical statement as to the evidence against Johnson. Andresen. in his earlier declaration made in Sydney on the 11th January, which I have only seen in print in the Workers’ Weekly, says that only Powell, one of the men, afterwards said that he was not at the meeting at the time that Johnson spoke. He does not say in that earlier statement that the three men, Rigby, Powell and Forde. afterwards said that they were not present at the meetings at the time that Johnson spoke. The statement attributed to Rigby, Powell and Forde that they were not at the meeting when Johnson spoke, when examined is seen to be not only not supported, but rather irrelevant in some respects. Forde never said he was at the meeting; he did not give evidence that he was at it; and no one ever suggested that he was. He gave evidence that he would like to have been there, but was unable to go. We can, therefore, leave Forde out of consideration altogether.. As to the statement that Rigby and Powell arrived, after Johnson had spoken, I invite the attention’’ of honorable members to the fact that Andresen does not say that his own evidence of what Johnson said was untrue.
What he does say is, in effect, that Rigby, Powell and he gave evidence as to the statements made at the meeting by Johnson, and that Rigby and Powell now say “We were not at the meeting when Johnson ‘ made the statement which Andresen swears he made.” Andresen does not, in his latest declaration, say that Johnson did not make the statement that he, Andresen had previously sworn that Johnson made; so he does not challenge his OWn evidence. He does not say “ I committed perjury “. He says at most, “I was guilty of the offence of suborning, or endeavoring to obtain false evidence.” He does not say that the evidence he gave as to statements made at the meeting by Johnson was false. Andresen gave exactly the same evidence as Rigby and Powell, but what he now says is that Rigby and Powell arrived late and did not hear what Johnson said. The statement of Andresen in the box in August was the same as he made on the 6th July, several weeks before the hearing. Johnson gave evidence himself that Rigby and Powell were at the meeting and heard what he said, whatever it was. He disputed the account of Rigby and Powell as to what was said. The only point that Andresen now raises is that Rigby and Powell were not at the meeting when Johnson spoke. Rigby and Powell say that they were and Johnson said that they were.
– Did Johnson say that on oath in ‘the box?
– Yes; there is no dispute as to that; the only conflict of evidence is as to what Johnson said, and the magistrate and the judge on appeal determined the question as to what was said at the. meeting as between the conflicting witnesses. Johnson gave the same evidence as Rigby and Powell as to the .fact that they arrived late at the meeting. Rigby and Powell have never said that they were there at the beginning of the meeting. They always have said that they arrived late. Johnson said in his evidence as to the second meeting that he “ filled up time “ until the Barwon men came. When Rigby and Powell came in he dealt with the Barwon. The statement of Andresen, in his declaration, is that he saw Rigby and Powell first on the 11th August, after he was seen by Longmore and after they arrived at Strathfield, having travelled overland from Newcastle. That is the declaration of 23rd January. In the declaration of the 11th January, which I read in the Workers’ Weekly, he said “I went to Strathfield in company with Rigby and Powell.” Andresen says that he first came into this on the 11th August, and that he was then out to obtain corroboration at all costs of his own statement as to what happened at the meeting of the union. On the 27th June, Rigby and Powell had sworn declarations as to what happened both at the office and at the two subsequent meetings. On the 8th July an officer of my department saw them in Adelaide and obtained fuller statements which were, however, exactly the same in substance. In the box they gave the same evidence that they had already given, in their declarations of the 27th June and 8th July, long before Andresen saw them on the 11th August. Those are statements on the official file in my office, and the evidence that they subsequently gave on oath is identical with the statements made to an inquiry officer of my department weeks before.
– Was that the same officer who is referred to in the affidavit?
– No; he was an Adelaide officer. Rigby and Powell were seen in Adelaide on the 8th July. They belong to Adelaide. They had already sworn declarations on the 27th June, in Sydney, which were sent in by the shipowners with some other declarations which dealt with matters relating to the Barwon and the Katoora.
– Was Johnson represented by counsel, and were these men cross-examined ?
– Johnson was represented by counsel. Mr. Mack, K.C., and Mr. McTiernan appeared for him. I have made an inquiry intothese matters and expect the written report to arrive to-morrow. It is, as a matter of fact, in the post. But in view of the fact that the honorable member courteously informed me that he proposed to raise the subject I caused inquiries to be made by telephone. Mr. Longmore, the officer of my department, denies that he employed
Andresen in any capacity at all, or gave him any instruction to interview any witnesses. Andresen had represented to him that he was destitute and starving and small sums were given him to enable him to obtain meals and accommodation. Andresen, according to my information, first came into the matter by visiting the shipowners in Sydney on the 2nd July, and informing them that he was in possession of important facts. . He then made a declaration and he was sent on to the Crown Solicitor. The Crown Solicitor then took a statement from him. He was not employed in any way, or asked to collect evidence, but the Deputy Crown Solicitor did say to him that his statement, to be of any value, would require corroboration. That observation, apparently, is the foundation of -Andresen’s statement that he was told to obtain corroboration at all costs. Andresen went away and came back with two witnesses, whose evidence the Crown Solicitor regarded as useless. One of these was Amundsen. I have already said that Amundsen’s declaration has not been sent to me, but I have obtained the following information by telephone as to what happened with respect to him: -
One of the men brought to the Crown Solicitor’s office by Andresen and Mr. Longmore, was Andrew Amundsen. He made a statement at the Crown Solicitor’s office, and the statement was taken down in shorthand. Amundsen was not able to remember the words actually used by Johnson at the only meeting which he attended, namely on the 20th June, and the evidence which he could have given was of no use, andhe was not further’ seen. Amundsen did not sign any statement at the Crown Solicitor’s office, and no affidavit was prepared or signed by him there. The Deputy Crown Solicitor’s office state that no intimation was given to them that Amundsen desired to withdraw his statement as he was not at the meeting. He was not under the influence of liquor at the time his statement was prepared ; he was perfectly sober, but he did not remember what Johnson said at the meeting.
I expect to receive formal confirmation of this statement by mail to-morrow.
After the proceedings were over, Andresen began corresponding with me and the extracts which I propose to read from’ his letters will enable honorable members to form an idea of the degree of reliability which, prima facie at least, should be placed upon statements made by this man. On the 22nd November he wrote to me stating he was the instigator of the Johnson prosecution, and was having a hard time. He was not the instigator at all. I directed the prosecution on the basis of the declarations made by Rigby and Powell before Andresen had anything to do with the case. Andresen was in no sense the instigator; but evidently he believed that he was the fons et origo of* the prosecution. He went on to say in this letter -
Now I am up against a tough proposition, as I am unable to secure the means of a livelihood. It is useless for me to enter any industry under the jurisdiction of the Trades and Labour Council. As soon as men discovered my identity they would not work with me. In fact, I have been assaulted twice within one month. I would very much like to obtain a police job or investigation work. . . .
He repeated this statement in other letters. He wished to be appointed a Commonwealth detective. His letter continued -
I am sorry that circumstances force me to Approach you, but I nin sa tisfied that’ I would get no assistance from your Sydney office. In fact, I think they would put in adverse reports about me. What I have stated concerning the Johnson prosecution is correct. Only for my advice and information they would never have put Johnson out of the way. Physically I am alright….. If you could find me a position outside the industrial sphere I would endeavour to give good service and carry out my duties to the best of my ability. t was in Queensland at the time, and, in reply, I informed Andresen that I would look into the matter. Subsequently I wrote him on 7th December, 1928, in these terms -
With reference to your letter of the 22nd November, 1928, there is no position available in the Commonwealth service to which it is possible to appoint you in any of the capacities mentioned by you. I think it is advisable to inform you quite frankly that you should entertain no hope of obtaining such a position. I am not aware of any obstacle to your” obtaining maritime ‘employment. [n the meantime I had made inquiries from the ship-owners, and had been advised that they were quite willing to employ him. He wrote to me again, stating that it was impossible for him to work safely in the maritime industry. In bis previous letter he had made no such statement; he had said that he was unable to obtain work. In a letter to me, dated 9th December, he stated -
I have exploited every means of obtaining suitable employment, and I am resolved not to risk my life by engaging in the maritime industry, and no reasonable person would expect me to do so. Anyhow the best thing f could ‘ do in the interest of all concerned would be- to leave the country. Myself, I think I am deserving of £200 and a passage out of the country.
To that letter I replied on the 12th December, as follows : -
I am in receipt of your letter of the 9th inst. Your former letter not unnaturally produced the impression that the ship-owners were refusing to give you work, and my reply to it was certainly based upon that impression. [ made inquiries from the ship-owners and was informed that they were perfectly willing to employ you. Your first letter to me did not say anything about the matters to which you now refer as reasons why it would be unsafe for you to obtain employment upon a ship. I would be glad to know whether you have made application to the ship-owners for employment in any and what capacity.
The next letter to which I refer honorable members is addressed to the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Marks), who sent it on to me. In this Andresen states -
If the Federal Government or the Australian Shipowners Association cannot give me a position or at least £1/50 -
His claim had now come down from £200 to £150- to start anew in some other country, then I will enlist the sympathy of someone with more brains than I possess.
Subsequently he was given a passage to New Zealand by the ship-owners as he desired to leave Australia.
The solicitors for Jacob Johnson wrote to me forwarding the declaration and said -
The declaration, you will notice, was made in New Zealand, and there can be no question, we submit, as to its having been involuntarily made by the deponent or having been extracted by officials of any industrial organization or by any other person or persons on their behalf by force, intimidation, oppression or other improper means.
On the’ 15th January, Andresen wrote to the Secretary of the New Zealand Shipowners Association in these terms -
Owing to my activities in the Jacob Johnson prosecution, I find myself ostracized from the Australasian trades union movement. At the behest of your federation in Sydney, I became the instigator of the above prosecution.
This, as I say, is a delusion on his part. He goes on further to say : -
On arrival here I find I cannot get into the Seamen’s Union. The union officials delivered me an ultimatum. They told me that if I make an affidavit on oath and also put them in touch with others they will give me a clearance.
And the declaration now produced by the honorable member for Dalley was made shortly after that letter was written.
– One declaration was made by him before the 15th January - before he left Sydney.
– I hope I have not wearied the House by reciting these facts, but anything affecting the cleanness of the administration of justice is important. [ am still waiting for reports from my officers. I am not prepared to take any steps in the matter as at present advised,* because an examination of the facts shows that Andresen is condemned by them and by himself as to the accuracy of his assertions. Furthermore, he is not here and it is obviously difficult to place any man upon his trial on any charge upon the basis of a document forwarded from New Zealand or indeed upon any document at all when the author of it is not subject to cross-examination. It is clearly obvious from what has been said by the honorable member for Dalley and myself that this is a matter in which there could not possibly be even a semblance of a satisfactory inquiry unless Andresen were available for cross-examination to the fullest possible extent. I have not, as Attorney-General, reached a final decision in the matter. There are further investigations I desire to make. For instance, Andresen refers to other persons than one of my officers, and I propose to make investigations in respect to these assertions. I shall await the report of my officers and then consider the whole of the facts, but on the facts at present before me, it does not appear to me that any special action would be justified.
– Irrespective of what the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) has said, this man Andresen played a very prominent part in bringing the Johnson case to a conclusion, and in the circumstances the facts disclosed in the declarations read by 1 the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) call for the closest investigation. A simple inquiry by the Attorney-General himself will not satisfy the trade union movement. One aspect of this matter is that pending the bearing of Johnson’s appeal, certain witnesses were provided with the means of living decently, and it would be interesting to learn who was responsible for the payments made to them during the months the appeal was pending. No doubt, I suppose, the people who originally advised the Attorney-General would see to that matter, because the issue was not confined to the dispute- about the manning of two vessels. There was, at the time, a division in the Seamen’s Union as to who was to be regarded as the leader of the organization. Tom Walsh, whose activities in 1925 played a prominent part in securing the return of the Bruce-Page Government, was endeavouring to secure control of the Seamen’s Union. He was responsible for what was termed an industrial peace movement, and was being given the support of the shipowners. It was to the interests of the shipowners to get Jacob Johnson out of the way. They felt that if he could be removed the path of Walsh would be made much easier, and they would then be enabled to reduce the Seamen’s Union of Australia to the position now occupied by the Seamen’s Union of Great Britain, that of an organization which is simply fostered by the employers. I am satisfied that the Seamen’s Union of Australia will not be satisfied with any hole-and-corner inquiry and that unless the whole matter is thrown open, far beyond the scope of the investigation suggested by the Attorney-General to-night, the trade union movement will endeavour, to the extent of its limited means, to have it thoroughly investigated. I am satisfied that the prosecution of Johnson had a political significance, and that he is now in gaol at the behest of the party sitting on the other side of the chamber.
.- The Attorney-General is right in having laid it down that this discussion, going as it does to the very fount of justice, is of first importance, and I must express some regret that, while the sentence imposed upon the person in question has nearly expired, it has remained to a private member of this House to ventilate the matter for the first time. Apparently the Attorney-General had some information in his possession and was proceeding, eery leisurely in the circumstances, to investigate it. He has assured us that, he disengages himself entirely from the murky atmosphere of politics in order to review all the facts and the law in the rarer atmosphere of his official and in some aspects, judicial position as head of the Law Department. His task is rendered a little more difficult because this prosecution from the beginning was of a semi-political character, arising out of a statute strongly debated in this House upon political grounds, and on those grounds strongly opposed by honorable members of the Labour party. I do not think this chamber is the proper place to have a re-trial of a defendant, but I do say that it is a very proper place to raise the question of a re-investigation of the matters involved in any prosecution. The honorable member for Dalley has done a service to the community by producing Andresen’s affidavit that Longmore asked him to get corroboration of . the charge against Johnson at all costs.
– Does the honorable member accept the statement of Andresen as proved?
– No, but Andresen was a material witness at the prosecution of Johnson, and it is sufficient that the documents before us contain strong prima facie evidence, if not that he is a perjurer, at least that part of his evidence was of an unreliable character. If Johnson had been tried on this charge before a jury of his countrymen, presumably honest men, and proof were adduced that one witness for the prosecution was a liar and had been employed to fake evidence, the. case against the accused would have broken down, and he would have been instantly acquitted. But Johnson is in gaol and his sentence is within measurable distance of expiring. Surely prompt action by the Attorney-General is called for. By the time his sentence has expired, no matter what further investigations may reveal, it will be too late to make amends tq him ; probably it is too late even now, but the earliest opportunity should be embraced to test the truth of the statements which are put before us, not as mere hearsay, but supported by declarations and affi davits. In addition to the facts that are proven, there are suspicious circumstances. One is that the ship-owners, who were immensely interested in securing the conviction of Johnson, are now enthusiastic about getting Andresen out of the country, and offered him a free passage to another dominion. I’ do not think this House should he required to undertake the task of passing final judgment upon the merits of the case against Johnson, but it is vitally concerned, as is the general public, with the pure administration of the law, and it is, if possible, more concerned because of the fact that the prosecution had a political flavour. I thank the Attorney-General for his apparently candid and complete statement of the facts supplied to him,- which, I have no doubt, he placed before the House as fully as he could, but I suggest that he has a further duty to recognize the urgency of this matter. The requirements of urgency can be satisfied only by testing out at once the new evidence that is now available. Should this testimony be sufficient to prove that Johnson was unfairly convicted, then, if he cannot be re-tried, he will be entitled to compensation ; at least some declaration should be made that his conviction was secured upon insufficient and perjured evidence.
– And for political purposes.
– If there were political purposes, the injustice is aggravated, but apart from the political aspect, every honorable member will agree that the charges should be reinvestigated in the light of the facts now before us. I hold no brief for or against Johnson, and it is well that we should consider this matter quite apart from party considerations. Some witnesses called for the prosecution were unreliable and are now looking for a halter; they have declared that they were prevailed upon by police officers, and others to produce evidence which was false. That declaration should be investigated to the full. There may be a difference of opinion amongst the general public as to whether Johnson should have been convicted upon the evidence actually adduced, but a well-founded suspicion having been created that some of the evidence was perjured, there can be no two opinions that a full investigation should be undertaken to ascertain the facts. The Attorney-General will be doing much less than his fair duty if he does not cause these declarations to be thoroughly tested immediately by evidence taken on oath from the persons concerned, and, if necessary, by cross-examination of the deponents in order to clear away the suspicion that Johnson, was, in the popular language of one of the deponents, railroaded to the cell in which henow languishes.
.- Does the Attorney-General intend to afford the House an opportunity to debate this matter, and if so when?
– Debate what?
– Whether there should be a further inquiry into the declarations submitted by the honorable member for Dalley. Is it the intention of the Attorney-General to make available to the House the whole of the documents relating to the prosecution of Johnson, including those he has quoted to-night? The undertaking he gave to the honorable member for Dalley, that he would make a statement to the House at a later date, is vague and unsatisfactory.
– I did not say even that much. I may make a further statement, but I do not wish the honorable member to be under a misapprehension.
– The AttorneyGeneral should not adopt that casual attitude. A citizen of the Commonwealth with a wife and child dependent upon him, languishes in gaol, although if the information contained in the declarations which have been quoted to-night is correct, he is innocent.
– A jury assessing the value of the evidence would not convict him on such testimony. According to the Attorney-General, four witnesses gave evidence against Johnson, and if the statements in the declarations are correct, there was collusion between three of the witnesses. If there is the slightest suspicion of a miscarriage of justice, the Government should be prepared to investigate immediately the statements made. There should be no hesitation about the matter. The way in which the inquiry was conducted is open to attack and condemnation. I madethe manner in which this prosecution was instituted, and the procedure adopted in “framing” Jacob Johnson, an issue at the last election in my electorate. We are concerned not with the individual affected, bat in the principle involved in keeping the fount of justice pure and above suspicion. Through-‘ out the inquiry the evidence was strongly partisan in character. The trouble arose from the internecine warfare that had been waged in the Seamen’s Union for some time. The case was dealt with summarily by a police magistrate, and the sentence was accompanied by comment of a party political nature by the magistrate. The magistrate went out of his way to pass censure upon the management of the trade unions in this country, and imposed a sentence of six months’ imprisonment. The opinion held by a vast number of persons is that that was a savage penalty. An appeal was made to Judge Cohen, largely on the ground that the penalty was excessive. He set aside several points without hearing evidence on them, and ultimately upheld the conviction. It may suit some honorable members opposite to lounge back on the green baize benches, and to sneer and snigger-
– I ask the honorable member not to make personal reflections upon other honorable members.
– I resent the frivolous attitude of honorable members on the Government benches when serious allegations, involving the administration of justice in this country and the liberty of an Australian are being discussed.
.- I have been in Parliament for many years, and I do not think that I have ever heard a more serious matter raised in it than that brought forward by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). I suggest to the Attorney-General that he cannot satisfy the public of Australia, and put their minds at rest in respect of this case, unless an inquiry of a public character is instituted. In order to satisfy the House that a public investigation ought not to be made, the honorable gentleman sought to prove that Andresen was a scoundrel; that he was unreliable, a liar, and a perjurer.
– That was admitted by the honorable member for Dalley.
– think that in itself is justification for a public investigation, because undoubtedly he was one of those whom the Attorney-General’s Department put for- ‘ ward as a principal witness against the defendant. If it can be shown that one of the Crown witnesses was a perjurer and a scoundrel-
– He does not say that in his declaration.
– If there was one thing that the Attorney-General endeavoured to convince the House of it was that this man was unreliable and a liar.
– He is unreliable, I admit.
– Yet he was one of the main witnesses for the prosecution. What guarantee have we that the other witnesses were not equally unreliable? The Attorney-General said he was holding the balance of justice fairly without regard to political opinions. He stressed the point that Andresen’s declaration was made in New Zealand, probably under duress, and that there is no opportunity of cross examining him. I suggest that, if that declaration constitutes perjury, the Attorney-General should bring Andresen here. That is the first step that he should take. In the second place, although the Minister says that Andresen is in New Zealand and cannot be crossexamined as to the truth of his affidavit, he quotes a communication from the shipowners in New Zealand in which they allege that a letter has been received from Andresen.
– I quoted acopy of the letter which they sent to me.
– The Minister accepts the bona fides of the shipowners and nobody else. If he is going to query the authenticity of a document from Andresen-
– I do not query it.
– But the honorable gentleman does. He submits a letter from the shipowners, and it is in this connexion that, in my judgment, he displays partisanship. He stresses the fact that that letter was received by the shipowners of New Zealand from Andresen on the 15th January, and that subsequent to that date Andresen made a declaration under duress from New Zealand, but the Attorney-General did not stress the fact that a declaration similar in character was made by Andresen in Sydney, on the 11th January, before he went to New Zealand.
– I stated that.
– Yes, but the AttorneyGeneral did not put the two facts in juxtaposition. I ask. honorable members if they were not under the impression that the only declaration by Andresen was made after he went to New Zealand, and after pressure was brought to bear on him there. Personally, I do not know the merits of this case, and I do not think that this chamber is the place in which they should be discussed. We are not in a position to judge the case, but if a subject that unquestionably has a political aspect is left to private inquiries by the Attorney-General, he will not do justice to his department, to himself, or to the public of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19290214_reps_11_120/>.