11th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Sampson had been appointed a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in the place of Senator Payne, resigned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Thompson had been appointed a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in the place of Senator Kingsmill, resigned.
Debate resumed from 15th August(vide page 57), on motion by Mr. Theodore -
That, by its withdrawal of the lockout prosecution against the wealthy colliery proprietor, John Brown, after its vigorous prosecutions of trade unionists, the Government has shown that in the administration of the law it unjustly discriminates between the rich and the poor, and that as a consequence the Government has forfeited the confidence of this House.
.- The speech of the Prime Minister yesterday was clear and precise; whether one agreed with it or not, one could understand it. The majority of his points have been already dealt with by honorable members on this side of the House, and I do not propose to comment further upon his speech except to ask why he so often repeats, “ I have never met that man “. I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that these disclaimers are dangerous; his memory may betray him. Even men of high ideals and noble sentiments, such as he and I, are capable of mistakes. I know that he has an excellent memory, but even the best of memories fail at times, and I distinctly remember that after he had assured the House on a previous occasion that he had never met a certain person official documents were produced which proved that his statement was not accurate. The right honorable gentleman suffered a lapse of memory - other people might use another term - and I advise him not to give to his opponents by these positive disavowals, opportunities to point out such inaccuracies.
The speech of the Attorney-General was in a different category. Can any honorable member, whether agreeing or - disagreeing with that speech, say that it was at any rate clear and definite?’ A man with legal training might be able to follow the honorable gentleman’s remarks through all their intricate . meanderings and grasp the distinction which the Minister sought to draw between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, but the average man in the street will find in the speech nothing clear or definite. The man in the street sees only certain facts and he wants a clear explication of them. Primarily he wants to know why organizations of workers are prosecuted and organizations of employers are not. . The Prime Minister answers that this employers’ organisation cannot be prosecuted:, because it does not own the industry. Neither does a workers’ or- ganization own its industry, but it can e prosecuted, whilst the associated employers cannot. That is a plain fact visible to the man in the street, and ho asks for a clear explanation of the reason. The Attorney-General said that the organization of the employers is not registered.
-I said that it was not a party to the relevant awards.
– Do I understand the Attorney-General to say that organizations of workmen can be prosecuted, because they are registered under the law, but for some reason, which perhaps a lawyer oan explain, the organization of the employers in the coal-mining industry is not so registered and cannot be brought within the scope of the law! If that is so, there is no equity in the law. This Government while proclaiming its impartiality has so framed our industrial legislation that a padlock is placed on the workers’ organizations, whilst the employers’ organizations are allowed to go free. What is true of the organizations is true also of individuals; there is .the same distinction between the worker and the employer. Yet the Government claims to administer the law fairly and without partisan prejudice.
Both the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral commented severely upon an alleged secret document which had been published in a newspaper and quoted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We were told that it is a heinous crime to make use of secret and stolen documents. In every day life the theft of a document may be a crime; but in the world of diplomatic intrigue it is a virtue, and he who, by influence, money, or power, can induce another person to acquire, properly or improperly, a document required by his Government is extolled by the nation. Sometimes this aid to espionage has prevented grave international disasters, and been so beneficial to’ a nation that the thief has been rewarded with honours. When the Prime Minister and ‘ the Attorney-General were holding up their hands in horror at the thought that somebody had improperly acquired a cabinet document, I recollected that Blowitz, the famous Paris correspondent of the London Times, had, in the middle seventies rendered great service to Europe by disclosing information obtained from a document originally stolen from some government pigeon-hole in Germany.
– That document was stolen from a foreign country.
– Apparently the honorable gentleman sees a distinction abd a difference between the theft of a document belonging to one’s own government and the theft of one belonging to a foreign government. Applying the matter to the broad principles of morality enunciated in the precise and polished language of that most highly trusted of all our public servants, Sir Robert Garran, “ If the end is legal all means to the achievement of that end . also are legal.” That maxim is supported by the Attorney-General, but Chief Justice Knox told the honorable gentleman and Sir Robert Garran that not only the end but also the means by which it is achieved must be legal. In international politics, the end, whether it be the world’s peace or the good of the Empire, is held to justify the means, and theft of documents of vital concern to one’s county is considered justifiable. Similarly in the case now before us, the main consideration is not the theft itself but its consequences, Did it lead to the disclosure of information which, in the public interest, should be made known? If it is true that a Cabinet document was stolen, the thief has rendered good public service by enabling the wisdom of the AttorneyGeneral to be broadcast to a listening and gaping world. The AttorneyGeneral has quibbled as to the accuracy of tie quotations from the document that have been published ; but the world wants to know what was contained in the seventeen pages of type script which represented the deliberate thought of himself and Sir Robert Garran. Apparently, this statement traversed the industrial administration of the present Government, and pointed out that the criminal code which has been built into the arbitration law has been productive of evil rather than good. In short, the Government’s policy has failed, and pages of the document are devoted to instances of such failure. Then the honorable gentlemancondemned the withdrawal of the prosecution of the millionaire Brown. Not only his moral soul, but also his political instinct, revolted against the immunity which the Government was giving to aggregated wealth. The honorable gentleman has denied the statement that the withdrawal of the prosecution was morally wrong and legally unjustifiable; but, in the words he employed in that document, it was “politically inexpedient!”
There has been no greater condemnation of the industrial policy of the Government than is contained in that memorandum. No criticism that could be offered by the Opposition would be half as effective as the statements circulated by the Attorney-General for the information of his colleagues. That document is the real indictment of the Government. The Attorney-General said that the Government could have chosen the safe and timid part by allowing the prosecution to proceed. The Government could have done sp, but it preferred the bold, bad, and - whether judged morally or politically - the stupid and improper part.
By its action, the Government has made industrial administration more difficult, not only for itself, but also for all those bodies, by whatever name they may be called, which are concerned with the control of industry and the preservation of industrial peace. To-day hundreds and thousands of men and women are in serious industrial difficulties, because of the partisan conduct of this Government, which has become, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) declared last night, the incubators of the violators of the law. What is its excuse? As the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) pointed out in his speech last night, this poor, weak, vacillating Government, that talks of its vision, its ability to peer into the future “far as human eye can see that parades its high ideals’ and noble sentiments, thinks of nothing but the interests of associations of Gradgrinds. The Attorney-General has spoken of the inconsistency of a policy which would smash the organizations of the workers and impose intolerable shackles on unionists individually and collectively, but when it comes to dealing with men who have millions behind them, withdraws prosecutions; of course, to secure some legitimate end. Industrial peace is to be secured, where the moneybags are concerned, by keeping them out of the courts and the penitentiaries.
Let us look at this case, not only from the stand-point of Mr. Brown, but from the stand-point of its” effect upon the country. Mr. John Brown is only incidental to the consideration of this matter, just as another John Brown was incidental to the American civil war; the important thing is that the action of the Government in regard to him shows the ingrained tendency of its administration. . Let us for a few moments strip ourselves of the cloak of hypocrisy with which we are accustomed to clothe ourselves when in the public gaze. Let us look at ourselves plainly. When we speak of governing in the public interest, we know full well that what we have in mind in administration is the interests of the party which the Government represents. Affirm it or deny it as we may, unquestionably we are engaged in a class war; a war which was not created by the agitator, but is the product of the ages, and as much a part of the social system under which we live, as the sun is part of the solar system. It has continued ever since one man was in a position to plant his iron heel on the neck of his fellows. So long as the master class had power the law of the land was the law of the boss. Every effort of the workman to improve his condition was treated as insurrectionary violence, to be suppressed by the .processes of law. Less than a century ago there came a change. Governments became alarmed at the rising tide of democracy.
When industry and organization operate . only within a limited sphere no great harm is done to the community at large by any industrial trouble that may arise; but to-day the position has changed. We have in modern times a new set of industrial organizations rising with increasing power against capitalistic organizations. Under existing conditions, men can no longer go out on strike, without paralysing the industrial resources of the country. With an industrial dispute of any magnitude, essential services are held up, and the industrial life of the nation is then paralysed as much as if by the act of enemy forces. Such a state of affairs calls for administrative action in the interests of the nation. Essential services must continue. That is fundamental. I accept that principle. But there can be no going back. Men now aspire to a higher, nobler and better civilization, in which there shall be no master and slave, but an equal distribution of the products of industry, and equality throughout the land. But neither socialism nor communism nor any other system can flourish unless civil and industrial order is maintained. In this intervening period, while we are on the way to a higher and better state of things, the leaders of Labour are bound to impose upon its adherents the doctrine that the essential services of the country must be maintained. But no Government should use the process of law as this Government has done to degrade workmen to a lower level. Men have not come out of the pit after centuries of suffering to be pushed back into it by process of law. They will stand together against the reactionary actions of this Government, which by its policy is ignoring all the facts of human history, and seeking by legal process to reduce the standard of living - action which the organized industrial movement will not tolerate.
This Government is acting deliberately on behalf of the employers in this particular matter. It is prepared tamely to permit essential services to be held up, not by the workmen, but by the employers. Were the workers now holding up essential services the press would be filled with complaints and the Government would take action. When the waterside workers were concerned the Attorney-General declared that action was necessary against the industrial organizations in order that essential services could function and the industrial life of the community be continued. In this case, however, while ships are being held up through the trouble in the coalmining industry, and thousands of women and children in every State are enduring misery, this inept Government says that it can take no action to bring about the re-opening of the mines. It declares that it has not the constitutional power to do anything. Its action, up to the present, has been one-sided, having as its object the suppression of the organizations of the sellers of labour. It is silent, futile, and partisan in its administration when action is required against the buyers of labour for their violation of the law.
That this Ministry is partisan is proved not only by the criticism of its opponents, but also by its conduct and the facts which that has furnished. Its’ administration in connexion with this dispute will make government more difficult not only for itself, but also for future administrations. The Ministry has declared that there is disorder throughout the land. That is not true. There is less industrial disturbance in Australia than in any other country. This is proved not merely by official statistics, but by admissions from other sources. In other countries, and in the past in this country, the milling, shearing and boot industries have been fruitful nests of open hostility, which was responsible for an almost continuous state of guerilla activity. That state of affairs is gradually passing. The various units in the industrial field having become more strongly organized are reacting to a sense of responsibility, and generally are becoming increasingly orderly.
The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) said the other day that agitators ought to be suppressed. What sort of agitators had the right honorable gentleman in mind? There is not one of us who disseminates an idea; there is not a man who speaks from the pulpit or elsewhere, who is not an agitator. The Treasurer himself is in this category. Apparently, he objects to agitators who are not of his class, and like an inquisitor of old would use the rack and other tortures against those who disagree with him. Let me remind him that that is not the way to secure law and order. Industrial organizations, I repeat, are passing out of the region of disorder into that of order. Only in this way can a nation progress and be born again. In the past the only instrument available to the working men was that of strikes and disorder and the dislocation of industry. To-day we have post-war problems on every hand. The industrial movement has to cope with the new psychology created by the war. The Labour movement of this country has received its share of the curses of the war. Because of the war it has within it a more boisterous and tumultuous element, especially in one or two industries. This, 1 suggest, is our post-war heritage. But our difficulties are gradually disappearing. Yet, because of this element, honorable members opposite seek to menace and harass the entire labour organization, and to pursue the unions with vindictiveness. This is not the way to secure industrial peace. Our business is to ease the situation, and, by impartial administration, bring about better conditions in industry. We, in the Labour movement, have made our contribution to industrial peace. The leaders of Labour - men like Mr. Holloway - the great bulk of the working class leaders, are sane, sensible men, who are daily making a contribution to industrial peace and order. But the Government holds up, as examples, the few who are not, and thinks that, by doing so it is serving the interests of the country. That is not so.
The Government denounces class bitterness in others, but its every action demonstrates its own class instincts. Its every act shows a savage class prejudice and ferocity. Instead of minimizing class hostility, the Government has intensified it. What workman in the land, untouched by the agitator and uninfluenced by the press, as he walks the streets of his city, or reads in his newspaper of the prosecution of other workmen and the withdrawal of the only prosecution instituted against an employer, can support such a Government?
The Attorney-General has developed in an atmosphere of prosecution. Prosecution has become to him almost a fetish, but he masquerades under the guise of a person of “ goodwill.” He alone among men is pure, sinless, stainless, untainted and without guile. He is the “unco’ guid.” But he cannot see sin in other men and not pursue it with the violence and ferocity of the tiger cat. It is said that he is very merciful, but I have yet to learn of an instance of his mercy. When a certain document was lost recently, a scapegoat had to be found, and so the AttorneyGeneral went after McFarlane, a returned soldier, who had been shot in his chest, and in his head; a man who had lost an eye in the war, and possibly is affected mentally by his injuries. The Government was not satisfied merely to dismiss that man; it charged him with the unlawful possession of a public document. It mattered not that that document had no public or private value. It was not the document which the Government was after. But a victim must be found. The police raided his house, and justice was vindicated by the imposition of a fine of 10s:. That man and his family were pushed out into the street by this great, this honest, upright Government; by Ministers who make broad their phylacteries, trailing their garments in the streets, and thanking God they are not as other men. Another man - one in the employ of the Federal Capital Commission - committed an error. The Commission thought that the offence was adequately met by his dismissal. But was the Attorney-General satisfied? He was not. The sinless one said again in that case, “ The law must be vindicated”; and that man also was pursued by the law.
Again when the men on the waterside at Port Adelaide, recognizing that they were beaten, stated their willingness to return to work, but objected to the licensing system, and asked that It be withdrawn, what did the AttorneyGeneral do? This man, so pure and sinless that even the angels blush in his presence, wanted not results, but discord. He went after ‘them. Again “ the law must be vindicated,” and the licensing system was forced upon them. Charlie O’Neil, the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Seamen’s Union, raised his voice, as in a free country a man has a right to do so long as he does not incite to violence. It is true that he expressed an opinion which was foolish; but every man - even the Attorney-General - has the right to make foolish utterances. In that case what did the Attorney-General do - the man who started his career in the navy as a commander by prosecuting Jack Tars. He wrote to Charlie and told him that he had seen in the press the report that he had made certain statements, and he warned him that if the report were correct, the Government would take the steps necessary to protect essential services. This time there were no ribald seamen to prosecute, only Charlie O’Neil, that scandalous agitator. The Attorney-General was ready to go after him, and if he could get him the penitentiary would accommodate him.
But when the coal-owners held up essential services, things were different. Certainly he went after them too. It is said that the desire for liberty slumbers in all men until is aroused by circumstances, and that once the tiger has tasted blood it does not know when to stop. The Attorney-General having tasted the blood of a few seamen arid waterside workers, forgot, for the time, even the distinction of class. He forgot that John Brown was not like’ other men. The tiger in him was roused ; again the law must be maintained. His pursuit of the sailor, of the waterside workers, of Charlie O’Neil, of the men at Port Adelaide, of McFarlane and McDowell, had affected his outlook; he must maintain the law even against John Brown. Then the position is pointed out to him. The Prime Minister reminds him that in this case he cannot have his pound of flesh. His chief says to him “ You shall not bite John Brown. He is a friend of mine. I know him. That is, I have never met him ; but I like him. He is one of us, and, therefore, you must not touch him.” What was the poor AttorneyGeneral to do? The tiger was dragged away from his meat. He was not even allowed one bite. The prosecution of the coal baron had to be withdrawn. What hard luck! Perhaps the Attorney-General will be more fortunate another time. It may be that then he will be after some one on this side, in which case he will not be called off, but will be allowed his bite.
.- The motion before the House has given rise to a good deal of exuberant rhetoric which seems somewhat out of place in a debate of such seriousness. The issue raised by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) is an exceedingly grave, but also a narrow one. The Opposition has charged the Government with the commission of a capital political offence, for which the penalty is political death. The question to be determined by this House is whether or not that charge has been sustained. That is the one point which I must determine for myself. In simple language, the charge is that the Government, in its administration of the law, has shown partiality and discrimination. If that charge be proved, it ought to carry with it the penalty of political extinction. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself admitted that if the charge were proved the Government would have no right to continue in office for five minutes longer. If the Government, or the Minister in charge of the department administering the law, has been guilty of discrimination in applying that law, then the . Government ought to go; and I for one would, without hesitation, vote for the execution of the accused.
In April last I wrote a letter to the Melbourne Argus which, during this debate, has been quoted by several speakers opposite. My letter has not been quoted in full, nor have I any desire at this stage to quote it fully myself, for any one interested can read it for himself in the Argus; but I want to say from my place in this House that I stand by every word that I wrote on that occasion. I wrote that letter on learning that it had been decided to withdraw the prosecution against John Brown. I pointed out that the announcement had come as a painful shock to every member of the Nationalist party, and that I, as a supporter of the Government, desired publicly to dissociate myself from it. ‘ At that time, no explanation whatever had been given of the withdrawal. Since then, however, an explanation has been given; and it is now for me to determine whether in my judgment it is sufficient.
In his able speech last night, the AttorneyGeneral said that there were two points in connexion with this case to which honorable members ought to direct their attention - the motive underlying the .Government’s action, and the circumstances of the case. L agree with him, for, after all, the facts of the case are practically admitted. On the one hand we have the fact that the Government has prosecuted representatives of labour, and on the other hand we have the fact of the withdrawal of the prosecution of a representative of capital. At first glance, there is in that contrast a suggestion of respect of persons, of discrimination between rich and poor.
– Are you going to call them together again?
– Unless the honorable member for “Werriwa ceases to interject I shall name him. Honorable members on both sides accorded the honorable member for Bourke an exceedingly fair hearing, as was proper in a debate on a grave issue, and similarly the honorable member for Fawkner is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I am trying to put the case as I see it. I have to decide how I shall vote, and I shall have to justify that vote. We now have to consider whether the circumstances justified the withdrawal of the prosecution. The Government took action which was open to the construction that has been placed upon it. There was, in fact, respect of persons and discrimination such as I have suggested. I admit, and I think that the Attorney-General himself admits, that the facts were open to the construction which has been placed upon them by the Opposition. The political enemies of the Government were sure to put this sinister construction upon those facts. Every member on the other side would be ready at any moment gaily to don the black cap and pronounce sentence of death on the present Government on general grounds. That is the consistent attitude of the Opposition to the Government. Consequently, when a situation such as we are now discussing presents itself, it is bound to put the sinister construction upon those facts, and it has done so. In my judgment, the circumstances did not justify the action of the Government in withdrawing the prosecution. I am just as convinced’ to-day as I was when I wrote the letter to the Melbourne Argus that John Brown should have been prosecuted. I have listened carefully to the explanation given by the AttorneyGeneral and the Prime Minister. If -I may say so with all humility, if I had been in the position of the AttorneyGeneral I should not have consented to the withdrawal. We have heard a great deal about the difficulties that would have attended the prosecution had it been proceeded with, but I submit that we have nothing whatever to do with those difficulties. We had an announcement by the Attorney-General that, in his opinion, a prima facie case lay. He intimated that the Government intended to launch the prosecution, and on that we rely. I have said that, in my judgment, the prosecution should not have been withdrawn. I hold that the Government made a very grave mistake in withdrawing it. The explanation given was that it had to choose between the withdrawal of the prosecution and the holding of a conference. We are told that, had the conference succeeded, it would have resulted in the opening of the mines and the lifting of the cloud of calamity overhanging New South Wales and, indeed, the Commonwealth. This prosecution was thought to stand in the way of that, and because of the splendid results that the Government hoped would accrue from a conference, it considered that the withdrawal of the prosecution was justified.
From my point of view, it should have been recognized that the law had been broken by John Brown. I do not care whether he is a capitalist or a poor man, an employer or an employee ; he has been guilty of a breach of the law, and of a defiant breach of it. He has continued in defiance of the law. Therefore, the withdrawal of the prosecution, to my mind, tended to weaken public confidence in the administration of the law. That is the inevitable result of such an action by a government, and it goes to the very root of our existence as a community. Although the withdrawal made possible the holding of the conference, what guarantee was there that any good result would accrue from it? In listening to the explanation I have not heard the reasons for which the Government considered itself justified in believing that, if the conference was held, good result would flow from it. If Mr. Brown had said to me, “If you will call off the prosecution, I will open the mines and let the men go to work,” I would have replied, “No; you are in defiance of the law. You have closed your mines illegally, and you have caused all this distress. The prosecution must go on.” In this case Mr. Brown and* those associated with him had not promised that if the prosecution was withdrawn they would open their mines. All they had said was, “If you call off the prosecution we will have a talk with the miners.” On the one hand, any good that might accrue from a conference was problematical. On the other hand, from my point of view, the withdrawal of the prosecution would have the inevitable result of shaking the confidence of the public in the administration of the law. I am only putting that aspect of the matter to show why I originally took the strong stand that I did in my letter of protest, dissent, and dissociation from this act of the Government. In my opinion, the Government acted wrongly in withdrawing the prosecution. So much for the circumstances. I could elaborate that point, but I do not think that any good purpose would be served by doing so. I simply desire to say sufficient to justify me in the action that I am now taking.
The second aspect of the case is to me the more important, so far as this motion is concerned, and that is the motive; because everybody will admit that the motive determines the quality of an action. What motive actuated the Government in withdrawing the prosecution? On that depends the nature and quality of the act itself. If, as suggested by the Opposition, the political enemies of the the Government, this prosecution was actuated by any indirect motive, no matter what it was, the Government has absolutely forfeited the confidence of every decent man, and ought to go. The right honorable the Prime Minister himself said so. Therefore, the issue becomes an important and crucial one. Without the slightest hesitation I accept the statement by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General that they had one motive, and one motive only - the bringing back of prosperity to the great coal industry that at the time was paralyzed, with all the misery attendant upon the cessation of work. Again I say that the political enemies of the Government will not accept the explanation given by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. I heard one member of the Opposition say when the Prime Minister, I believe, was speaking, “ We have only your word for it.” That was a most unworthy remark. Anybody who knows the Prime Minister would readily accept his word of honour. I believe that as man to man every member of the Opposition would take his word without hesitation; but when it comes to party politics and party warfare, the Opposition disclaims any such readiness to accept the word of either the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General. By an interjection yesterday, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) indicated that he drew a distinction between political hypocrisy and ordinary hyprocisy.
– I did not.
– It seems to me that there is mighty little difference between political sincerity and non-political sincerity. I venture to say that anybody who suggests that the motive of the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General in withdrawing the prosecution of John Brown was anything indirect, is not sincere. He might be politically sincere, but not sincere according to the ordinary acceptation of the term. I believe that any honorable member opposite would) as an individual, accept the word of the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General implicitly.
– I would not, for one.’
– In a matter of this kind they are imputing a motive.
– Deliberately charging a motive.
– There seems to be a considerable difference of opinion on the part of the Opposition as to the motive which led to the withdrawal of this prosecution. Some of them have gone to the length of suggesting that it was withdrawn in order to placate a man to whom the Government was indebted for generous contributions to the party funds. The better section of the Opposition has gone no further than to say that it believes it was done in consequence of a kind of unconscious class bias. They say that the Government was disposed to be friendly towards a representative of the class in the community which it is supposed to represent. It comes to this, that every man in the House who accepts the suggestion that the withdrawal of the prosecution was caused by some indirect motive, must vote for the motion of the honorable member for Dalley.
– Did not the honorable member also think that when he wrote his letter to the Argus?
– I am glad of thatinterjection. Some of my political friends think that I wrote that letter hurriedly, on the spur of the moment.
– Well, the honorable member should not do it again.
– I would certainly do it again in similar circumstances, for the point I wished to emphasize loS that whether the motive was direct or indirect the action was utterly wrong, for it was taken at a time when we should do everything we could to strengthen public confidence in the administration of the law. In such circumstances, the Government should not have laid itself open to the charge that has been made here that it has shown discrimination in respect of persons in administering the law. I wished to dissociate myself from anything of that description. Being a supporter of a Government which had made a point of its strict impartiality I felt that it was necessary in this situation to declare that I would not support any action that was open to the construction that it was pandering to the wealthy classes. I totally object to being associated with any such thing. One honorable member has observed during this debate that the administration of justice by the Government should like
Caesar’s wife, be above suspicion. In this respect the Government should “ abstain from all appearance of evil.”
– Is it not a fact that in most statutory offences the motive is immaterial ?
– The Opposition is firing with a hair trigger; immediately an honorable member on this side of the chamber begins to speak the Opposition lets fly at him. We are not at the moment dealing with the motive of an offence, but with the motive which actuated the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General in withdrawing this prosecution. To determine the nature or quality of an act one must look at its motive. I think the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), will agree with me that if we come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General in doing this act were prompted by the sole desire to help the community, and to help the industry they should not be censured. A person is never censured for an error of judgment, though his peers may be in total disagreement with him. They may say to him, “ You have acted in what you consider to be the best interests of the community, but we entirely disagree with you. We think you are absolutely wrong, but we cannot censure you.” That is the position in which we find ourselves. My attitude on this issue is determined by my absolute belief in the integrity of these honorable gentleman. They have pledged us their word that they were actuated by the single motive of trying to help the industry and the community. I accept their statement without any reservation whatever, and therefore I shall vote against the motion.
.- All honorable members seem to be agreed as to the importance of the issue which faces us. I have listened with interest to the speeches which have been made on the motion, and do not desire to give a silent vote on it. I agree that the subject is of the utmost importance. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has put, with every evidence of sincerity, the legal view, and so also has the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), as he almost invariably does. While it is some’ times of advantage to regard these issues with a legal mind, I have often felt, while listening to debates in this Chamber, that it is also disadvantageous to deal with some of the questions which confront us, and which affect the lives of the everyday working people of this community, from the purely legal standpoint.
The question that we have to determine is whether the withdrawal of the prosecution launched against Mr. John Brown was justified. Some honorable members have wandered from the point to some extent, but on the whole the debate has centered upon the main issue. The prosecution was launched by the Government under the provisions of a statute which this Parliament passed at its request. In recent years the Government has introduced a considerable volume of industrial legislation with the avowed object of maintaining industrial peace. It has provided for severe penalties to be imposed upon trade unionists and trade unions convicted of breaches of the law, and whenever these penalties have been under discussion in this House and upon the public platforms of Australia it has insisted that they are justified because similarly severe penalties were being provided to apply to employers who broke the law. In other words, the penalties applied not only to those who took part in strikes, but also to those who caused lockouts. Had the Government attempted to introduce heavy penalties against strikers without at the same time increasing the penalties against those who caused lockouts, Parliament would not have passed the measures to which I have referred. I think that the honorable member for Fawkner, with his sense- of fairness, would have revolted against legislation of that character.
– Hear, hear.
– Subsequent to the passing of these measures, action was promptly taken against the employees. It is significant that in the case of the first offence proved under the amended act, which provided for a maximum penalty of £1,000 against a workers’ organization, the maximum penalty was imposed. That was done in the case of the Waterside Workers Federation. I am not complaining about that, but am merely mentioning the fact. I am a believer in law and order, but I have frequently said from my place in this Chamber that
I do not believe in one law for the rich and another for the poor. The law must be set in motion when necessary against the employers just as it has been against the employees.
The only action launched against the “employers was the one under notice. It was taken in connexion with a highly-important industry. A great deal has been said on behalf of this Government about the necessity of maintaining essential services. Nothing is more vital to the essential services of this country than. coal. Early this year, before Parliament adjourned, certain employers in the coal-mining industry locked . out their employees, and at that time I taunted the Government with being afraid to institute a prosecution- against them. But an action was launched later. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) said that everybody was surprised when the Government withdrew this prosecution. It is questionable whether the community was not even more surprised when it was launched. The person against whom action was instituted was, reputedly, a wealthy man. There appears to be no doubt whatever that the AttorneyGeneral satisfied himself that a prima facie .case existed against this breaker of the law, yet subsequently the prosecution was withdrawn. The avowed object of its withdrawal, according to both the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral - and this has been eloquently stressed by the honorable member for Fawkner - was to set the wheels of industry in motion again, for the sake, as some one-has said, of the women and children who were suffering. The prosecution was withdrawn, we have been told, because a certain conference which was about to be held could not be held unless that was done. Did the coal-owners say that they would not meet the miners’ representatives in conference unless the prosecution was withdrawn?
– If that is so we are faced with an extraordinary position. Men who have avowedly broken the law have said to the head of a Government, the guardian of the rights of the people of- Australia, “ Unless you withdraw the prosecution launched against Mr. John
Brown, and make us immune from the operation of the law, we shall not take any action whatever to re-open the mines.” In other words, they have said “ We shall continue to act in violation of the law.” The Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral both talked a good deal about the motive which led them to withdraw the prosecution. These heroics are one of the striking features of this debate.
– There is nothing heroic about it at all.
– The honorable member for Warringah reminds me of a saying of one of the characters in George Eliot’s novel Hie Mill on the Floss, that too much knowledge leads to the gallows. If there be any truth in that observation the honorable member for Warringah will never be hanged. The Prime Minister contended that the easy, weak, and timid course would have been to continue the proceedings, and to have gone after the blood - to use the picturesque language of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) - of this millionaire, but the right honorable gentleman said; “ This is not a timid or weak Government; this is a strong Government,” so he decided to withdraw the prosecution, allegedly in the interests of the struggling miners and their starving wives and children. One can almost hear a sob from the honorable member for Warringah. But, strange to say, that statement was greeted by the members of the Labour party with unrestrained hilarity. The right honorable gentleman said that the motive behind the withdrawal of the prosecution was the desire to set the wheels of industry moving. However pure his motive may have been, the fact remains that his judgment was bad, because the wheels of industry are still idle. John Brown not only broke the law, but is still breaking it, and yet is immune from prosecution.
This is the Government that went to the country and talked about the necessity for maintaining law and order. From a thousand platforms, over the air, and through its newspapers, it told the people of Australia what fearful things might happen were the reins of Government held by the Labour party, and the Labour unions, the agitators, and the Bolsheviks of this country per mitted to subvert law and order. This Government appealed to the people to return it as the guardian of the law and of constitutional government, standing, as it alleged, for evenhanded justice among all sections of the community. This is a vital matter. During the last 28 or 29 years of our history as a nation we have never had a spectacle such as that confronting us to-day. As a young nation we are proud of the purity of our public life, and, as Britishers, we have for centuries prided ourselves most upon the impartiality of our judiciary, the corner stone upon which our national edifice has been erected. Surely our action to-day should be such as will impress upon future generations the fact that the law must be administered impartially, and that any transgressor, be he “ cook’s son, duke’s son, or son of a millionaire”, or even a millionaire himself, should be punished. Surely there is more in this question than the purity of the motive behind the withdrawal of the prosecution. Let me ask the honorable member for Fawkner a question concerning the case of John Brown.
– It is a question of the motive, not of John Brown, but of the Government.
– The motive of John Brown is almost as mysterious as that of the Government.
– John Brown’s motive has nothing to do with the issue.
– Let mc ask, in the plain every day language of the man of the street, stripped of all legal phraseology, a question of the honorable member. Suppose that the Labour party were in power and had passed provocative industrial legislation containing penal sections ; that it had thrust the legal knife to the hilt into the breast of one of the employers by imposing the maximum penalty for the offence of causing a lockout, and later had permitted Mr. Holloway or some other union leader to go scot free, although guilty of holding up essential services and refusing to enter a conference unless the prosecution pending against him was withdrawn; and that the Labour Government contended that its motives were right, and that it had acted with the best of intentions, what would the honorable member for Fawkner have said? What would the Prime Minister have said? Where would the legal mind of the Attorney-General have led him in a case of that kind ? What would the people of Australia have said? They would have said what the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said last evening, that the action of the Government had created an atmosphere of suspicion. Following the Abrahams’ case, the Kidman case, and other such cases, what a weapon to place in the hands of Labour ! I do not know whether there was any improper motive behind the withdrawal ; but I know that there is suspicion in the community that the laws of this country are not being impartially administered. Graver suspicion than that cannot be aroused in the minds of the populace. I intend to cast my vote in favour of the motion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore).
– In the absence from this chamber of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), it was only natural that the Deputy Leader (Mr. Theodore), who has aspired to the leadership of the Labour party in this House for a considerable time, should make an effort to show his ability by having a flutter. I am bound to say that that flutter can hardly be regarded as serious, or as one that would improve his chance of securing the high position for which he is endeavouring to fit himself. Had it not . been for the valuable service rendered by some of his colleagues, such as the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), he would not have had even the shreds of a case to present to this House. When listening to the Deputy Leader, one felt that he was hard put to restrain his scorn and contempt for the Government. He charged it with having taken action to subvert the , course of justice. As a master of tactics in this regard he felt that what he represented as the Government’s puny efforts were deserving of the most withering and scathing contempt. He could not help indicating how much better: he could have done the work. But he has his own difficulties to contend with.
His experience of justice is of a nature that makes it necessary for him to avoid certain subjects when placing important statements before this House. It was therefore, difficult for him to handle his case. He had to tread his way through the matters to be avoided and thus cramped his style. Moreover, he gave a lamentable exhibition of incompetence. He displayed lack of knowledge of the facts. He. quoted extracts from a stolen document, and even then he attempted to deceive the House by saying that they were taken from a newspaper.
– The honorable member for Warringah must not suggest that any honorable member attempted to deceive the House.
– Then let me say that the only evidence upon which the Deputy Leader based his case was taken from a stolen document, although he said that the extracts were taken from a newspaper. I leave honorable members to judge for themselves whether there was any attempt at deception on his part. I have my own opinion on the subject. One of the most strange theories ever put forward to a parliament of any country was advanced by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), and this House should repudiate with scorn and contempt his suggestion that the purloining of documents from departments of State should be regarded as an action to be extolled, or as a feat of skill which should receive the approbation of decent men. That was the suggestion which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) applauded, and which honorable members on that side of the House approved. I repudiate such an opinion, and say that it is one of the most abominable doctrines ever promulgated by a member of this House, or of any deliberative assembly.
– On a point of order, I request the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– What statement?
– The honorable member’s statement that I applauded and approved the sentiments attributed to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) to the effect that it is a virtuous thing, and one worthy of praise, to steal a public document.
– It is usual to accept the assurance of an honorable member on such matters as this.
– I have very much pleasure in accepting the . assurance of the honorable member for Batman that he does not applaud the sentiments of the honorable member for Bourke in that respect.
– What I want withdrawn is the statement that I applauded the stealing of public documents.
– I understood that statement to have been withdrawn.
– The issue now before the House was put at great length by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) in an endeavour to justify a letter he wrote to the press, and at the same time to justify the vote he is about to give. All I wish to say in reply to the honorable member for Fawkner is that I hope that I shall never be in a position which would require me to turn myself inside out, as he has had to do in trying to justify both his letter and his vote. It is for the House now to decide whether there was any real subversion of the course of justice as a result of the Government’s action. The Government had decided, after the most complete inquiry, to launch a prosecution against Mr. John Brown on a charge of having instituted a lockout. As the AttorneyGeneral has pointed out, there was much difference of opinion among counsel as to whether a verdict would be given in favour of the Government.
– The Attorney-General did not say that there was any difference of opinion among counsel.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.He did say so. He said that the case was, in the opinion of counsel, weak in some respects, and that there was great doubt as to whether the “ charge against John Brown, could be sustained in the courts of the country. Nevertheless, a prosecution had been launched, and the Government was going through with it. Then the Government was approached, not by the owners, but by the representatives of the miners, and asked to take steps to have a conference of the parties called. The miners’ representatives brought with them their accountant, Miller, whom they had put forward as a man who knew all the intricate and intimate details of the mining industry, a man upon whom they are relying almost exclusively for his knowledge regarding deductions, and the profits of the collieries. They came to the Prime Minister of their own volition and informed him that, in their belief, they had a solution of the difficulty. They believed that they had a plan which would be acceptable to the owners if only they could meet them -in conference. It was necessary for the Prime Minister to make a decision in view of the urgent need for bringing about a settlement of the trouble, which was causing such great loss and distress, not only to the miners and their families on the coalfields, but to workers and their families in other areas also, including the constituency of the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long), my own constituency, and those of practically all the other honorable members in this House. The Prime Minister had before him the pressing need of getting the mines open again, thus providing employment for 12,000 miners who were out of work. Of course, the members of the Opposition had no responsibility in a matter of this kind. Their duty, judging by the attitude of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, is to make reflections and imputations against the Government, and generally to criticize it. The Prime Minister, however, had a grave responsibility to bear. He had to decide whether he would go on with the prosecution, thus declining to consider the miners’ proposal for settlement, or whether he would take such steps as were necessary to ensure the holding of the conference. The honorable member for Fawkner said that he would never have considered for one moment any proposal to re-open the mines on the condition of dropping the prosecution. He would have insisted upon John Brown being prosecuted. He said that he would not have agreed to the holding of a conference on the conditions stipulated, but would have gome straight forward, allowing nothing to deflect him from his determination to prosecute, notwithstanding the misery and suffering that was taking place. The Prime Minister conferred with the Attorney- ‘ General, and after they had discussed the situation, they agreed that the interests of the country demanded, not so much the prosecution of John Brown, as the settlement of the coal dispute. After all, what would the prosecution have meant? John Brown would have carried the matter to the Privy Council, the proceedings would have been protracted to an inordinate length, and in the end the most that could have been done to him would have been to fine him ?1,000. That would have gone nowhere towards opening the mines.
– The honorable member is undermining the case made out by the Attorney-General.
– I am not. There have been persistent rumours of a disagreement between the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral over this question. Both the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister have denied that there was any disagreement. Therefore, I am justified in saying that the statements, which are still appearing in certain newspapers to the effect that the disagreement took place are simply a tissue of lies. For the reasons which I have outlined, the Prime Minister arrived at a certain decision, and contrary to the opinion expressed by the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell), I believe that the great majority of the people of this country realize that he decided rightly.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I have more right to assert that than’ the honorable member has to assert the contrary. And I may add that I have more and better opportunities of judging public opinion than has the honorable member. In case I should be misunderstood in making that statement, let me hasten to say that I have not in mind anything relating to the honorable member’s affliction. I refer only to the methods by which honorable members acquaint themselves of the nature of public feeling on such subjects. I maintain that the great majority of the people of Australia are of the opinion that the Government did the right thing in regard to this prosecution. Let me refer to the printed proceedings of the coal conference. I have here the report of proceedings for Monday, the 8th April, in which the Prime Minister sets out quite clearly the reasons which actuated him in withdrawing the prosecution. When those reasons were placed before the conference no objection was offered by the representatives of the miners to the withdrawal of the prosecution against John Brown.
– They did not get the opportunity.
– There was plenty of opportunity as the official report of the proceedings shows. After the Prime Minister’s statement, the following discussion occurred -
– I would like to discuss the suggestion with the owners’ representatives.
Mr.Rees. ; I would like half an hour in order to discuss the proposal with my colleagues.
– Shall we, therefore, resume at 4 o’clock?
Sitting suspended from3.30 to 4 p.m.
It is clear that the miners had ample opportunity at that stage to enter a protest against the withdrawal of the prosecution had they desired to do so. During the half-hour adjournment they could have made up their minds whether they would insist upon the prosecution, or whether they would proceed with the conference.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The representatives of the miners had ample time during the 30-minute interval to determine whether they should raise any objection to the withdrawal of the prosecution against Brown. They raised no such objection. On returning to the conference they made no reference to the withdrawal of the prosecution; they merely stated that it had been arranged that Mr. McDonald should state the case for the owners, and that Mr.Rees should do the same on . behalf of the miners. At that time the prosecution against Brown had not actually been withdrawn, so that the representatives of the miners were afforded the opportunity to raise any objection against its withdrawal, if they so desired.
The report of the conference indicates that the whole of the second day was occupied by the speeches of McDonald and Rees. Further, and I wish to emphasize this, the report of the proceedings states that only four transcripts of what had taken place on the final day of the conference were in existence, and that these had been supplied to the leading members of the delegation on each side. Therefore, on the second day the miners’ representatives had a copy of the verbatim report of the proceedings, and of what the Prime Minister said when he intimated that the prosecution against Brown would be withdrawn. The conference lasted for several days, and not a word was heard during its course against the withdrawal of the prosecution or the a attitude of the Government. It is evident that the leaders of the industrial section of the Labour movement endorsed the action of the Government, in contradistinction to the attitude later adopted by the political section of that movement. It is apparent that the industrial section regarded that conference as likely to be of much greater importance in affording a solution of the trouble in the industry than a mere prosecution of Brown. Further, I do not think that that section had the faintest idea of making any political capital out of the action of the Government in withdrawing the prosecution. It was only when the political section of the movement got to work that anything was said about the Government’s action, and this attack is merely a part of the political programme which the Opposition thinks it should follow.
Everybody must admit that the Government, by its action, left itself open to the criticism that has been heard in this chamber yesterday and to-day; but all fair-minded individuals must realize that the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral were actuated by the highest of motives, and took what they considered to be the right course in the interests, not of their party, but of the nation. I am confident that, upon mature reflection, that will be the general opinion of the man in the street. From a merely tactical point of view, it may have suited the Nationalist party to prosecute Brown; that might have been a good political move. But the Prime Minister and his colleague were not moved by party political considerations. If honorable members opposite believe that it is imperative that John Brown should be prosecuted for creating a lockout, I remind them there is no obstacle in the way of proceedings being taken against him by either the unions or themselves. It is mere political hypocrisy to abuse the Government for the course they followed, when it is competent for those who abuse to take the very action which they claim should have been taken by the Government. I challenge honorable members opposite, if they are sincere and feel strongly upon the subject, to take that action.
There is another point. The prosecution was launched against John Brown because he owned the Pelaw Main and Richmond Main collieries, which are considered to be the two collieries that are obviously paying their way. If the Government was insincere in its attitude, why did it institute proceedings against the owner of those two collieries, and not against the owners of some ‘of the remaining 63 in New South Wales, which are now inoperative? They selected those two in preference to dozens of other cases where it could be established, in a few minutes, that they were not paying their way on the rates in existence when the stoppage took place. To the impartial student of affairs it is evident that the Government acted in a bona fide manner, with but one idea in view - the welfare of the whole of the people, irrespective of political consequences. And that is what a government should do. This country needs such men - men of courage, who will do something .in the interests of the nation, and not always be seeking avenues through which they may disseminate their party propaganda. I repeat .that the Government, in doing what it did, even though it ran the risk of criticism by friend and opponent alike, took the right course.
During the course of this debate we have heard a good deal about justice having been subverted. It has occurred to me that justice is usually delineated as a woman, with a bandage over her ‘ eyes, holding a pair of evenly balanced scales, symbolizing the idea that justice is impartial. If a statue of justice were enthroned in this chamber and could hear the statements that have been made in this matter, hilarity would assuredly be its principal attribute. Some most astounding statements, allegedly in the cause of justice, have been uttered during the debate. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was the author of some. His speeches generally are “ as a tale that is told “ ; one hears them, knows that the honorable member has been speaking, but when he has finished can recall nothing of importance in what has been said. The honorable member never says anything that is worthy of repetition. One may peruse Hansard after Hansard, but rarely will one find that succeeding speakers have made any reference to the utterances of the honorable member. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that justice should be done, though the heavens fall. Much the same statement emanated from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin). I ask honorable members to consider in what way honorable members opposite are assisting the course of justice. In what way did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) assist the ends of justice, when he addressed the timber workers in the basement of the town hall and incited his listeners to continue to break the law? In what way did the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) assist the course of justice, when he told the timber workers that if they considered that their award was an outrageous and calamitous one they were not entitled to observe it ? That was the considered advice given to the workers by the leaders of honorable members opposite. Yet in this chamber they talk about justice having been subverted, by the withdrawal of a prosecution which could only be punitive in its effects, and which would have no value in effecting that which the community desires, the re-opening of the coal-mines. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) spoke about the law being like a spider’s web, catching only the small flies, and allowing the big ones to break through. I venture the opinion that many an honorable member immediately visualized the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as one of the big flies which tear their way through the legal entanglements that surround them, for the honorable member has got through the web, scot free. It appears to me that the only party which is to-day standing for the principle of unprejudiced administration and dispensation of justice is the Nationalist party. Honorable members opposite prate about the withdrawal of the prosecution against John Brown and of the prosecution of unionists. What did the prosecution of the timber workers amount to ? A law providing for penalties, which had been in force since 1904, was put into operation. Labour Governments were in power more than once after the passing of the act providing for such penalties, but they did not alter the penalties. This Government merely put the law into effect and the timber workers’ organization was fined £1,000, and Mr. Holloway £50. Neither party has paid the fines, and after all, that is the important point to consider in this connexion. The Timber Workers Association and Mr. Holloway in that respect are as well off as Mr. John Brown, against whom a prosecution was withdrawn, so that all this talk of discrimination against miners and other unionists is so much “ guff,” indulged in for assimilation by the supporters of the Labour party.
I remind honorable members that last session we spent a considerable time ii> discussing the proposal of the Government to make provision in the Arbitration Act for the imposition of certain penalties, one of which related to disrespectful references to any member of the judiciary. The act was also amended to make provision for the taking of a secret ballot among members of trade unions. What course did the trade unionists of this country adopt to show their contempt for its laws? They deliberately burnt publicly a number of ballot-papers, and with equal deliberation carried through the streets of. the principal city of the Commonwealth an effigy of the judge who had made an award governing hours and conditions in the timber industry, and subsequently burnt it in Hyde Park, the principal and most historic park in Sydney. Proceedings were not instituted against those men by the New South Wales State Government, upon whom the responsibility rested. Yet, my friends who sit opposite allege that discrimination is exercised against trade unionists and that favour is shown to the moneyed classes.
T contend that those who were guilty of the actions to which I have referred should have been proceeded against. If a judge who makes an award in one of our courts is to be traduced and abused in the fashion that Judge Lukin has been traduced and abused from one end of the land to the other, by legislators, agitators, and other classes of persons, our system of justice will be destroyed, because eventually the only men who will agree to occupy those positions will be those who are either prepared to put up with that sort of thing or are willing to give decisions that will be viewed favorably by unworthy sections of the community. In those circumstances justice will be dispensed as it is in the courts of the western States of the United States of America, and will be a byword to everybody. None have done more to undermine justice in this country than have honorable members of the Opposition in this chamber, led by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and supported by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) and the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). They and others are far more culpable than the dupes whom they attempt to lead. They should have been proceeded against, instead of Mr. Holloway and the Timber Workers Union. They are the big flies that burst through the web. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) asked what had the Government done. He said that one conference had been called, but that it had proved abortive. The only persons who have done, or who have attempted to do anything to settle the coal trouble are the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the Premier of New South “Wales (Mr. Bavin), and other Nationalists.
– Their efforts have not been very successful.
– How could they have been, in view of the action taken by the honorable member and his friends at the Town Hall, Sydney, and elsewhere, when the men were incited not to return to work? I repeat that the only persons who have attempted to settle this trouble are those who sit on this side of the House. The Leader of the Opposition paid a visit to Newcastle, and everybody thought that his object was to endeavour to settle the trouble. The Sydney Labor Daily, however, told a different story. It said, “ This visit will be a further move of the most important character in the alignment of the political and industrial wings of the Labour movement.” While, as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will assure honorable members, women and children were starving all round him, the Leader of the Opposition was merely attempting to adjust certain political differences that existed between two contending and conflicting sections of his own party, over some petty, piffling, local matter. When he returned, the honorable gentleman was asked what he thought of the position, and replied that the only contribution he could make to the settlement of the trouble was that a heavy bounty should be given on the export of coal; that the miners should continue to receive high wages and the owners large profits, and that the general public should continue to pay for their coal the high price they had been charged for years. That suggestion may have commended itself to the contending parties, but it certainly would not have the approval of the public as a whole.
I have shown that not only have the Government done their best, irrespective of consequences to settle the trouble, but also that in their administration of the law they have treated with the utmost consideration the trade unionists of this country.
The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who at the last election was returned to this Parliament as a Nationalist, delivered yesterday a speech that was received with the wildest enthusiasm by our friends who sit opposite. Probably it was in their opinion the best contribution to the opposition side of the debate to which they had listened. During the course of his speech, the right honorable gentleman said that the withdrawal of the prosecution was unprecedented, and that the explanation of the Prime Minister had shown a most extraordinary and inordinate incapacity. He went on to say that for ten years he had been AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth, and that nothing of this character had occurred during his régime. Let us see what the late Mr. Justice Higgins had to say on that subject.
– Does the honorable member intend to attack the right honorable gentleman in his absence?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.There is no bar to the right honorable gentleman’s entrance to the chamber. I feel sure that one of his myrmidons will very quickly fetch him.
Several honorable members interjecting
– Order! Honorable members are making it impossible for the honorable member for Warringah to be heard. He is entitled to put his case in his own way, and it is for him to decide what matter he shall place before the House.
– I merely intended to place before the House, for its calm and dispassionate consideration and judgment, certain views expressed by the late. Mr. Justice Higgins, the first President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. But first, I shall refer to another incident that is more or less in the minds of honorable members, in connexion with an increase in the hewing rate that was given to the miners, and an increase in the selling price of coal that was given to the owners in 1917, at a time when the right honorable member for North Sydney was in charge of the affairs of this country.
Honorable members interjecting-
– Order ! I ask honorable members to desist immediately. If they do not do so I shall be obliged to name them. It is almost impossible to hear the honorable member who is addressing the Chair.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The right honorable member for North Sydney said last night that there might be some parallel between this action of the Government and that which was taken in the Campbell prosecution in Great Britain, but there had been no parallel to it during the. ten years that he was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. I shall now give the views of Mr. Justice Higgins upon the manner in which the Arbitration Act was administered, even manipulated, during the period that the right honorable member was Prime Minister of Australia. In “ A New Province for Law and Order “ published by Mr. Justice Higgins, he said -
In 1917, Mr. Hughes,as Prime Minister, secured a regulation under the War Precautions Act to enable him to cancel registration of the Waterside Union then on strike. He then caused an application to be made to the President of the Federal Court for a rule nisi for the Waterside Union to show cause why its registration should not be cancelled. This seemed to me “You must cancel, for if you do not cancel I shall cancel myself “. Such attitude recalls the efforts of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns to interfere with judges in the execution of their duty. It turned out that the Prime Minister thought that, by cancellation of the union’s registration, he destroyed the award also. This was a mistake. The court discharged the rule on the grounds that the powers were not to be used as an instrument of fruitless vengeance, &c.
A further extract from the same work reads -
The court refused to proceedwith the arbitration in the coal dispute at the end of October, 1916, until the men resumed the former hours. The matter was complicated …. by an extraordinary antipathy to the Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes. The Prime Minister held a series of conferences, in which he found that the miners were firm in their refusal to work unless they got eight hours from bank to bank, and the employers insisted that if this concession were granted, they would have to raise the price of coal. The Prime Minister asked the President of the Court to deal with the case under a recent War Precautions Act (of doubtful validity), and, as incidental to the concession as to hours, to find what additional price the mine-owners might charge for coal. All such proceedings were outside my special functions. I stipulated that my hands must be free either to grant or to refuse the eight hours as should seem just. The Prime Minister then caused the claims of the miners and the mine-owners to be granted without evidence and without argument as to eight hours, the union undertaking that there should be no further stoppage during the war. The consequences were disastrous. The union failed in its undertaking; there were frequent local stoppages; and in 1917 the men struck in sympathy with the railway employees.
I also wish to quote one reason adduced by the late Mr. Justice Higgins for resigning his position as President of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. In announcing his resignation on the 25th October, 1920, he said-
The chairman of the recent coal tribunal spoke sense when he said : “ It is clearly an impossible situation if you should come before this tribunal to gee what you could get, and, if you are not satisfied, then go before some other tribunal of a concurrent jurisdiction.” The tribunals appointed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) will no doubt be often a convenient mode of yielding to a strike without expressly admitting it,
My resignation is due to my opinion that the public usefulness of the court has been fatally injured.
I do not wish to comment upon that statement; but I remind honorable members that the late Mr. Justice Higgins refused to carry out the instructions of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), then Prime Minister, to give the miners - these favoured sons of fortune who have always done well in the industry at the expense of the public - increased wages, and the owners the right to increase their prices. When the late Mr. Justice Higgins refused to accede to the ex-Prime Minister’s demand, Mr. Justice Edmunds was brought from New South Wales, and he did what the right honorable gentleman desired without hearing a vestige of evidence one way or the other.
– There is not a word of truth in that.
– I am quoting from records, the accuracy of which cannot be impugned. Let us compare the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), on this occasion, with that of the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). Their only object was to bring about peace in industry, and to insure the opening of the coal mines, whereas, on the other hand, the right honorable member for North Sydney interfered with an award of the Arbitration Court. In these circumstances the right honorable member for North Sydney had no right to attack the Government as he did last night, or to make the allegations he did against the Prime Minister and his Ministers.
– The action taken by the right honorable member for North Sydney was during the war period.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That is its only justification; but, even then, his action was not right. Other increases were given by him to those employed in the coal industry ; but with these I shall not deal, as they are not cognate to the motion. It has already been shown by honorable members on this side of the chamber that the Government acted courageously in the face of great opposition, and were actuated solely by a desire to do what was in the best interests of the nation. I am firmly of the opinion that a great majority of the people of Australia are prepared to support the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General in the action they have taken, and to place their integrity against that of any of their detractors in the public life of Australia.
– Having suffered by being compelled to listen, and to listen in silence, to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), one can but come to the conclusion that the speech just delivered by him was after all such as might have been expected from such a quarter. The honorable member, as a good party hack, dared not speak other than he has to-day.
– He is a member of the Nationalist Consultative Council.
– Yes. We may dismiss practically everything he has said as being of very little value, and agree with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who said that the longer the honorable member for Warringah spoke, the more he undermined the case put by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham). The case was a very weak one, and the honorable member left it even worse than it was when he found it. A portion of his address was directed to a criticism of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). If the honorable member had to meet either of these two honorable members in open debate in the public arena, he would cut a very sorry figure; but to-day he attacked them under the protection of the Standing Orders, secure in the knowledge that, as both had spoken during this debate, they could not reply to him. He attacked not only honorable members on this side of the chamber, but the actions and utterances of certain honorable members on the ministerial side who dare to be other than party hacks. “ *
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the term “party hack.”
– I withdraw it, and substitute a term used by an ex-Speaker of this House, Mr. Watt, who on one occasion said he refused to be one of the dumb dogs of the party.
– Was that expression used in this House?
– Yes, and it was applied to such persons as the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson).
– I did not hear the term which the honorable member used in place of the one which, at my request, he withdrew, but if it was unparliamentary I ask him to withdraw it.
– I merely repeated an epithet which the ex-right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) flung more than once at honorable members opposite.
– As I did not hear the words used by the honorable member, I ask him to repeat them, to enable me to determine whether or not they are unparliamentary.
– I give you my assurance, Mr. Speaker, that the term was not similar to that which you directed me to withdraw. I was proceeding to show that honorable members opposite, who dare to take an independent stand, come under the lash of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), whose utterances in this House are regarded as of little consequence, for the simple reason that he entered this Parliament determined to do exactly what he was told to do. The honorable member criticized the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) because he freely expressed his opinions in condemnation of the action of the Government in connexion with the prosecution of Mr. John Brown. The honorable member occupied a good deal of time in quoting from a certain document which was placed in his hands by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who evidently is not prepared to use it himself. He proceeded to point out that the course followed by the Prime Minister in this instance was also adopted by the right honorable member for North Sydney in 1916, in order to ensure the re-opening of the coalmines, which according to the honorable member was a very reprehensible act. I remind the honorable member that the action taken by the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was during the war period, and that it had the effect of causing the mines to be re-opened. Apparently, the course he then pursued had the approval of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) at the time, because, shortly after that, we read in the press that he had waived his right to stand for the North Sydney seat in favour of Mr. Hughes.
– He did a good deal more than that.
– Yes, in connexion with compensation and other matters, which I shall not discuss at this juncture. The action taken by the right honorable gentleman was evidently so satisfactory to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), who was not then in Parliament, that he made way for him to represent .the people of North Sydney in this chamber.
Listening to the first part of the speech of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), a newcomer would have been disposed to say that at all events, there was one honorable, member opposite who was prepared to break away from the Government, and to stand by the opinions he had previously expressed. That honorable gentleman, however, could not deceive any of us who have been in Parliament for any length of time. I have been a member of this Parliament for something like twenty years-
– Too long.
– I have been a member of this Parliament sufficiently long to know the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). His remarks did not deceive me, although they may have deceived some honorable members who are new to the chamber, and had not the opportunity to hear the honorable gentleman in the Ministerial party room. The honorable member for Warringah said that he hoped that he would never have to turn himself inside out as the honorable member for Fawkner has done.
– The other side might bc better ^
– The honorable member for Batman is not alone in the thought that such a change would be an improvement. We are quite prepared to see the honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Wannon also voting, not in accordance with their statements, but as they were directed in the party room. I wonder whether those men are ‘as much entitled to respect as those who remain silent and follow their leaders in the division. I have no desire to deal harshly with the honorable member for Fawkner, because he has to answer to his constituents.
– I have often been reminded of that) and have generally supplied an answer.
– As an exhibition, of political tight-rope walking the honorable member’s speech to-day was the best ‘ I have heard in twenty years. There is something to be said for honorable members like the honorable member for Riverina who, in regard to important matters, assumes the greatest complacency. Without question he follows the Ministerial bell wether. At a recent conference of farmers to consider the vital matter of water for irrigation and conservation, , the honorable member, although aware of the importance of the subject to the man on the land, was the only dissentient. He attended with a brief from the Government, and read it faithfully.
– There is not. a word of truth in that statement.
– The opinion of such an honorable member can have little value for the people. The honorable member for Fawkner belongs to another type. He wrote a letter to the Argus condemning the Government’s action, and he has stated to-day that he stands by every word in that communication.
– He has said, in effect, that so long as the motive is good it matters not how serious a crime or grave a blunder is committed.
– Not a crime.
– The honorable member wrote to the Argus that the Government made a very grave mistake when it withdrew the prosecution of Mr. John Brown, and that nothing could be more serious than the weakening of public confidence in the administration of the law. On his own testimony no motive, however worthy, would warrant such an offence. The honorable gentleman has told us that when he wrote to the Argus he did not know the motive which had actuated the Prime Minister. That motive, as the Prime Minister explained, was to facilitate the opening of the mines. The honorable member, in his letter to the Argus, said -
In view of the foregoing, the announcement of the Prime Minister reported yesterday that in order to promote peace in the coal industry proceedings against John Brown had been withdrawn, comes as a painful shock, I have no hesitation in saying, to every supporter of the Ministry.
Clearly the honorable member was aware of the Prime Minister’s motive when he wrote that letter.
– I was not.
– Assuming that the honorable member did not ^ understand the Prime Minister’s motive, his attitude is no less remarkable. He has condemned the Government for having committed a capital political offence, and, having led the leader of the Government to the gallows and confronted him with the hangman, he suddenly remembers to ask the motive of the crime. In effect, he says to the convicted murderer, “ What was your motive in sand-bagging the man in the street?” Having received an assurance that the motive was a worthy one, that the sand-bagging was intended for the victim’s own good, the honorable member says, “You are reprieved; step down.” If tactics of this sort are acceptable” to the electors of Fawkner, they deserve to have their present representative for ever. But I have a higher opinion of their intelligence, and I am convinced that the honorable member will not be allowed to back and fill in this fashion much longer. A few days ago he received a deputation upon another matter, and, imitating the American politician who said that “ Those are my views; but if you do not like them I will change them,” the honorable member said, “ I have told you my views for the present; but if anything else happens later, I shall call you together again.”
– The honorable member is completely misrepresenting what J said.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to interrupt the speech of the honorable member for Hume. If he is being misrepresented he may make a persona] explanation later.
– I leave the honorable member to the judgment of his constituents. We await with interest the statement of their attitude by the honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Wannon, who placed their opinions on record some months ago - a most dangerous thing to do before a party meeting is held, as the honorable member for Fawkner will admit. The honorable member for Angas said -
But this I will say: If it is true that there is a lockout iii the industry, the Government should prosecute the offenders with the utmost rigour of the law.
I invite him to tell the House whether he considers that the Government has prosecuted the mine-owners with the utmost rigour of the law. The honorable member for Wannon said -
I appeal to the Prime Minister to set his inquiry afoot. We in this chamber stand for the people of the nation, and not for a privileged few. If the coal-owners have closed their mines merely to put their businesses 011 a better profit-earning basis they are doing an injustice to the nation, for coal is an essential daily commodity. This is not a chamber to be moved merely by sentiment. We must weigh the facts and hold the scales of justice evenly. I hope that the Prime Minister will take action to have this matter cleared up.
Will the honorable gentleman express the same sentiment on this motion?
After the speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, honorable members opposite anxiously awaited the reply of the Attorney-General. But I have never in my political career seen a responsible Minister require so much prompting and propping. One could read on his face that he had a bad case. Before he could be induced to speak, the Prime Minister whispered in his ear, and then the Treasurer felt his pulse. After much persuasion the Attorney-General rose last night to take part in the debate, and T say candidly that I have never listened to a more unconvincing statement than that which the honorable gentleman made. He recited a great deal of the Prime Minister’s speech. The right honorable the Leader of the Government told us, and the Attorney-General repeated, that they were in communication by telephone, that they talked the matter over, discussing it from every angle, and giving particular attention to the political significance which would attach to the withdrawal of the prosecution. ‘He assured us that their only concern was to bring about a resumption of work at the mines, and it was for this reason, he said, that they decided to withdraw the prosecution against Mr. Brown. I assume that they were actuated by the best of motives; that they were anxious to have the mines re-opened. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) also took this view, and said he was prepared to forgive them. Unfornately, the proposals miscarried. The underlying motive, in withdrawing the prosecution was, we are assured, to get the wheels of industry going again. That purpose has not been achieved. The mines have not been re-opened, and the men are not at work. It appears to me, therefore, that the action of the Government having been ineffective, the AttorneyGeneral should have taken steps immediately to reinstitute the prosecution. That, I suggest, is a complete answer to the statement of the honorable gentleman yesterday. In failing to take this course, the Minister has been guilty of a grave dereliction of duty. Mr. Brown now snaps his fingers at the head of this Government.
– Mr. Brown did not ask for a withdrawal of the summons; he defied the Government.
– Mr. Brown completely ignored the Government. Probably he feels quite safe because he belongs to the class which provides the sinews of war for this Government and its party. He, and men of his kidney, helped the Ministry to office, and have kept them on the Treasury bench for many years. In the circumstances, the Ministry does not wish to offend Mr. John Brown, because he represents the people who support the Government.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) takes the stand that the Government should have enforced the payment of fines imposed upon Mr. Holloway and other union leaders. He says that they should have been prosecuted to the utmost limit allowed by the law, and suggests that the Government failed in its duty because it did not do that. At the same time he believes that the Government did the right thing in withdrawing the prosecution against Mr. Brown. The honorable member, as we all know, is the secretary of the Nationalist Union in New South Wales, and his party obtains its financial support from men like Mr. Brown. What is the use of indulging in all this hypocrisy?
– Order ! The honorable member knows that he must not use that expression, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it. But what is the use of honorable members opposite adopting this complacent attitude concerning the action of the Government in withdrawing the prosecution against Mr. Brown?
Equally unconvincing were the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General when they referred to the “stolen Cabinet document” - I am using their own words. When the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) mentioned the memorandum prepared by the Attorney-General for the consideration of Cabinet, the right honorable the Prime Minister was apparently bewildered at the disclosure, and appeared to be not too sure that the honorable member for Dalley did not have the original document in his pocket. The right honorable gentleman raised his hands in holy horror at the thought of any one stealing a document of this kind. First of all he said it was not an accurate transcript of the memorandum. If it were not accurate, then I fail to see how quotations from it could have perturbed the Prime Minister. We all know, of course, that the document referred to by the honorable member for Dalley contained a good deal of accurate information as to the views of the AttorneyGeneral, and the quotations from the Sydney Sun made by the Deputy Leader of my party were a cause of considerable perplexity to the Attorney-General. Speaking for myself, I can only say that I am not surprised at the action of the Government in this matter, because for seven years we have had experience of its administrative policy, and the withdrawal of the prosecution against Mr. Brown is only one of many similar administrative acts. It is part and parcel of the Govern- . ment’s policy and in keeping with what it has been doing ever since it came into office. We have only to recall one or two of its outstanding administrative acts to bear out what I am saying. There was the sale of the woollen mills some little time ago. Those mills were being operated in the interests of the people, but had to be sold because the profiteers in Flinderslane, Melbourne, represented that they were interfering with private enterprise - with the interests of those who supplied funds to keep this Government in office. Again, the Commonwealth Line of Steamers had to be sold for the same reason. Lord Kylsant is now the proud possessor of the Commonwealth Government steamers, which are being operated as part of an enterprise capitalized at £86,000,000. Those vessels were sold at the dictation of the shipping combine. Some years ago I was a member of a committee appointed by the then Prime Minister to inquire into the contract for certain “ coffin “ ships, as they were called. That was a contract in which a well-known citizen of this country joined with two American interests in the construction of a number of vessels for the Commonwealth Government. The inquiry disclosed that the contractors had used dummy bolts for the riveting of the plates, and the committee recommended that the whole of the money paid on account of those ships, amounting to £126,000, should be refunded to the Treasury. Experts who were called to give evidence declared that the lives of all who ventured to sea on those vessels would be endangered - that the ships would founder before they got outside Sydney Heads. Several years elapsed before any action was taken to give effect to the recommendations of the committee of inquiry, and finally the present Attorney-General accepted £76,000 instead of £126,000 in full settlement. In other words, he made a present of £50,000 to men who should have been placed in the dock for trial. Iremind honorable members also of the leniency of the Government in dealing with Sir Sidney Kidman for failing to furnish taxation returns in respect of his many pastoral properties for seven years. When the House was debating that subject on a motion moved by the present Leader of my party (Mr. Scullin), we cited the parallel case of a farmer at Werribee who, in seven years, had paid fines amounting to £400, not for refusing to pay taxation, but for having been late in furnishing income tax returns. Again, we see on all sides further samples of the Government’s discrimination arising out of its financial difficulties. During its term of office an accumulated surplus of £7,400,000 has been turned into a deficit of nearly £5,000,000. In view of the seriousness of the position the Government has dismissed large numbers of its lower-paid men, but it still retains its highly-paid officials. I am not in favour of a reduction in salaries; but I do object to the discrimination shown by the Government. Men on low salaries, some of whom have been employed for many years, are thrown into the streets, while at the same time numbers of useless boards and commissions, such as the Development and Migration Commission, with their enormous expenses, are retained. The discrimination shown by the Government inwithdrawing the prosecution instituted against John Brown is typical of its administration. We have come to expect these things at its hands, but that does not mean that we are content to sit idly by. The motion of no confidence now before the House is evidence of the Opposition’s disapproval of the Government’s administration.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Marks) adjourned.
Visitors in Gallery- Personal Ex planation - Hermannsburg Mission: Disease among Aborigines - Civil Aircraft.
Motion (by Sir Neville Howse) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.MAKIN (Hindmarsh) [3.33]. - I desire to refer to the treatment of visitors who wish to listen to the debates in this chamber. Should they desire to rest their arms or elbows on the front rail of the gallery, they are informed that it is against the rules to do so. The officer in charge of the gallery makes the intimation as courteously as possible, in the exercise of his duties; but surely no harm can be. done by allowing those who desire to have first-hand knowledge of the conduct of public affairs to make themselves as comfortable as possible while listening to the debates. In my opinion, the rule or regulation governing this matter should either be amended or withdrawn, so that those who occupy seats in the gallery may be put to as little inconvenience and discomfort as possible.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In the. course of his remarks yesterday, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) stated that I was not in the chamber while he was speaking. That is so. I can hardly conceive of my constituents being greatly perturbed on that account; but, in order that I may not be accused of discourtesy to the honorable member, I desire to point out that, having listened attentively to the speech of the mover of the motion of censure and the reply of the Prime Minister, I temporarily left the chamber to receive attention to one of my eyes. It was while I was so absent that the honorable member for Hunter spoke. I assure him that the reason I have given accounts for my absence from the chamber while he was speaking.
Last week I visited Alice Springs. I went out to the Hermannsburg mission station, and was shown over it by Pastor Auricht. He told me that nearly 40 of the natives had died of a disease, thought to be beri beri, and that others were sick and dying. In one of the huts I saw a child twelve or thirteen years of age writhing in agony, while a number of other natives were seriously ill. There is no doctor nearer to Alice Springs than Cloncurry, 400 miles distant by air, while the medical man at Hawker would have to take a rail journey of 706 miles. There are some persons in Australia who appear to think that these native people are scarcely human because they have black skins, but I feel sure that honorable members will not share that view. When the remnants of the aboriginal population are dying in this way a doctor should be despatched forthwith to attend to them. In conversation with Pastor Auricht, I mentioned the grave risk which he, a man with a wife and two children, ran. He replied, “ What can I do, Mr. Parsons ? I cannot neglect these people when they are in such desperate straits.” I urge the Government to despatch a doctor to the mission station forthwith with a view to arresting the progress of the disease- and alleviating the sufferings of these people.
– I desire to bring before the Prime Minister a matter which is causing deep’ concern to the owners of civil aircraft in Sydney. A number of young men there have bought their own machines and are doing good work in the air. Should the occasion arise they will no doubt play a great, part in the aerial defence of Australia. A circular has recently been issued by the department notifying that the charges for the use of hangars for privatelyowned machines have been increased by 100 per cent. The new rates will involve their owners in as much as 15s. per week. Smaller machines are charged 5s. or 6s. per week, but in each instance the rate has been increased by 100 per cent. At a meeting last week these facts were placed before me, and I promised to bring them before the notice of the Government.
, - I shall discuss with the Minister for Home and Territories the matter raised by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons), and will communicate later with the honorable member.
I shall discuss with the Minister for Defence the rates for the use of hangars to which the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) has referred.
For the information of honorable members generally, I desire to intimate that had the motion of no confidence not been before the House, I intended to make a statement dealing with external affairs, particularly in relation to the proposals for a treaty with Egypt, and the matter of reparations. I propose when making those statements to table a paper ana move that it be printed in order to enable a discussion to take place. I hope that it will be possible for that discussion to take place on Thursday or. Friday of next week.
– In reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), I desire to point out that from the inception of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne the rule requiring visitors to deport themselves decorously when occupying the gallery has been strictly enforced, for the reason that otherwise some might interfere with the comfort of others, especially those who sit behind them. I can assure the honorable member that the regulations in force have been framed with a view to ensure the comfort and convenience of all who occupy the gallery, as well as to preserve tha dignity of the proceedings of this Parliament. In operation the regulations have been found effective. I shall, however, make further inquiries into the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 August 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19290816_reps_11_121/>.