House of Representatives
5 September 1929

11th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 577


Report (No. 2) presented by Mr. Mann, read by theClerk, and adopted.

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– Will the Prime Ministerstate precisely the position of Australia with respect to the optional clause of article 96 of the statute of the Court of International Justice? Is it proposed that Australia shall be a signatory with reservations, or will her position be that defined by the Prime Minister of Great Britain?

Minister for External Affairs · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · NAT

– I outlined Australia’s position yesterday afternoon (vide page 548). The Commonwealth, of Australia, the other dominions, and Great Britain have decided to sign a declaration of acceptance of the optionalclause during the sittings of the present Assembly of the League of Nations - with certain reservations, which are now under consideration. Before the final act of ratification, which will confirm the signing, an opportunity will be given to this Parliament to consider the whole matter.


-Isthe text of the optional clause accessible to honorable members ?


– I shall instruct the external affairs branch of my department to prepare a short memorandum giving the text of the optional clause, a list of the countries that have signified their adherence to it by signing,and a general survey of the position, and honorable members will he supplied with’ copies of it.

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– It is freely rumoured that the Prime Minister has decided that the House shall sit throughout to-night to discuss the Maritime Industries Bill. It is very early in the session to adopt such tactics, especially in connexion with such an important measure. The right honorable gentleman is exhibiting a lack of consideration for honorable members. On this side of the chamber there are at least twenty honorable members who have not yet had an opportunity to express their views in relation to the measure, and there must be many opposite who also desire arid are expected to address themselves to it. Will theright honorable gentleman not provide better facilities for the full discussionof the motion for the second reading than can be afforded during an all-night sitting?


-If the House sits all night, it will he because of the need for completing the second-reading stage of the bill, and to enable every honorable member to speak upon it, which, I understand, is what the honorable gentleman desires. I remind him that yesterday I indicated the wish of the Government to bring the second-reading debate on this measure to an end to-morrow. I then suggested that honorable members might practise selfdenial by socurtailing their remarks that they would not occupy the one hour and five minutes which is allowed to each speaker by the Standing Order. . I still urge honorable members to exercise selfdenial. If they do so, the period during which we shall he compelled to sit will be considerably shortened.

Mr.COLEMAN.- Assuming that the debate is not completed to-morrow, is it intended that we shall sit until Saturday morning?


– I am confident thai there will be no necessity to sit beyond to-morrow ; but I am not prepared to reply to a hypothetical question.

Mr.FENTON. - Is the Prime Minister aware that the taxpayers, who find the money that is necessary for the upkeep of this Parliament, have expressed utter disgust at parliamentarians sitting all night to conduct the important business of this country? Can he not, out of bis fertile brain, evolve some better system ?


– There is no necessity for me to exercise my fertile brain. There are two methods by which allnight sittings can be avoided. One is by honorable members curtailing their remarks somewhat; and the second is by utilizing the machinery provided by the Standing Orders for the shortening of debate. If it is the desire of honorable members that we should have recourse to the latter method, I am quite prepared to meet them; but I am under the impression that they prefer to have an opportunity of expressing their views.


– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the Standing Orders provide means for the punishment of the Leader of the House for compelling honorable members to sit all night, thus bringing them to an early grave? I should like you also to inform me whether he is aware that honorable members are sent to this chamber to express their views, and that by depriving us of the opportunity to do so, he is acting contrary to the wishes of the people of Australia.


– The Standing Orders do not contain any such provision as that referred to in the first question. The conduct of the business of the House is in the hands of honorable members themselves. In reply to the second question, I am not able to say what is in the mind of any minister or any member.


– The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that he does not approve of sweating methods being adopted by employers. Why then does he seek to apply them to honorable members of this House ?


– It is not my intention to do any such thing. I do not believe the public will have the impression that honorable members are being sweated, even if they should happen to sit all night.

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– Has the report of the royal commission, which was appointed to inquire into alterations to the Constitution yet been placed in the hands of the Government? If it has not, can the Prime Minister say why summaries of the report are now appearing in the newspapers? I refer particularly to that which appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne Herald.


– I have seen in newspapers articles which purport to be summaries of it, but I have no knowledge whether they are accurate or inaccurate. The report is still in the hands of the royal commission, and I do not know what it contains. I understand that it may be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General either to-morrow or on Saturday.

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Report on Superphosphates.


– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state when we may expect to receive the report of the Tariff Board upon superphosphates?

Minister for Trade and Customs · HENTY, VICTORIA · NAT

– I understand that the report is now being prepared.

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Branch of Commonwealth Bank


– The pastoral activities of Central Australia are rapidly increasing. With the object of facilitating business will the Treasurer consider the immediate opening of a branch of the Commonwealth Bank at Alice Springs?


– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the directors of the Commonwealth Bank.

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asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the Port of Wyndham, in the far north of Western Australia, has the most infrequent shipping service of any port of equal importance in the Commonwealth?
  2. In view of its proximity to Victoria River, where a shipping service is maintained by the Commonwealth Government, will he consider the question of referring the matter of including Wyndham in that service to the North Australian Commission?
Minister of Home Affairs · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. In response to similar questions asked by the honorable member in December, 1927, the matter was referred to the North Australia Commission, which intimated that there was no justification for extending the Darwin-Victoria River service to Wyndham. Subsequent to the date of the honorable member’s previous question, the Commission, on 8th September, 1928, entered into a threeyears’ contract for the service from Darwin to Victoria River. The question of extending the service when a fresh contract is being considered will be referred to the Commission.

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asked the Minister for

Works and Railways, upon notice -

With reference to the Hume Reservoir -

  1. When is the report expected of the

River Murray Advisory Committee, involving, as it may do, the question of the completion of the reservoir to the 2,000,000 acre feet capacity?

  1. When is the report expected of the special inquiry board appointed to inquire, inter alia - “Whether the work in connexion with the acquisition of land and compensation for land, affected by the works had been satisf actory “ ?
  2. Whether the River Murray Commission, as the supreme controlling authority, is responsible for the apparent lack of foresight and coordination in the different branches of the work, such as deviation roads, railways, subsidiary channels, &c.?
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · FU; VFU from 1919; CP from 1920

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. I have ascertained from the Minister responsible, that the report in question will not be available for some months.
  2. The committee referred tohas completed its investigations and it is anticipated that its report will be submitted towards the end of the present month.
  3. The River Murray Commission as the controlling authority is responsible for the authorization of all works executed by the constructing authorities, and the order in point of time of the execution of such works. If the honorable member will furnish me with specific cases of lack of foresight and coordination, I will place the desired information at his disposal.

asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice. -

In view of the fact that the total estimated cost of the Hume Reservoir completed, is £5,872,637, and that the “Constructing Authority “ of New South Wales has submitted an estimate of £3,000 for clearing a boating course up the Murray Valley from the Dam, 12¾ miles long and 10 chains wide, and foreseeing the great aquatic carnivals that are likely to be held in years to come on this great inland lake, estimated approximately to be four times the surface area of Sydney Har- bour, and in view of the infinitesimal additional extra cost involved, will he, before the impounded water renders it impossible, take steps to have this work of clearing a safe boating course put in hand?

Postmaster-General · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · CP

– There is no provision in the River Murray Agreement which would justify the inclusion of the work of clearing a course for boating purposes on the reservoir as a charge against the construction of the reservoir. The River Murray Commission, however, favours this work being carried out and is prepared to make the necessary arrangements provided that funds for the purpose are made available from some other source. The question is now receiving the consideration of the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria.

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MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

When it is intended to arrange for the discussion of the proposed national insurance?


– The intentions of the Government in regard to the national insurance scheme were set out in the budget speech. A questionnaire has been sent to the States in the matter, and when the replies are received, the whole question will be thoroughly examined as to the best means of co-operation with the States. In the meantime, consideration of the National Insurance Bill will be postponed.

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Temporary Employees


asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

Does the contemplated action of the officers of his department in dismissing all temporary employees, involving in the metropolitan area of Sydney alone about 400 men, meet with his approval ?


– Every effort is made to retain the services of temporary hands provided they can be usefully employed. Dismissals are, however, inevitable from time to time where there is a shortage of work.

page 580




asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

In view of the fact that the aerial service between Queensland and Daly Waters will be commenced shortly, will he state what action the Government intends taking to link this service with the existing railhead in North Australia, and whether it is the intention to complete the railway construction to Daly Waters, as authorized by this Parliament?


– The matter of these communications has been investigated by a departmental committee. The report of this committee will be considered at an early date.

page 580



Rebate on Sugar.


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What quantity of sugar was used in processing fruit last season in the Commonwealth on which rebate for export was allowed; also, what price was paid by processors for same?
  2. What quantity of sugar was used in processing fruit last season for the Australasian market, and what was the price paid for such sugar ?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Approximately 1,200 tons, for which an average net price of £15 19s. 2d. per ton was paid by the processors for delivery in the inner suburban radius of the main distributing centres of the States.
  2. Figures for. the Australasian market are not available. The approximate quantity for the Australian market was 29,000 tons, the price paid being £306s. 8d. per ton for net cash for delivery in the inner suburban radius of the main distributing centres of the States.

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asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention been drawn to an industrial dispute in the theatrical business in Sydney, arising out of the employment by an American actor of a Chinese dresser?
  2. Is it a fact that this Chinese was brought to Australia by the American actor, and that the employment of the Chinese has deprived an Australian of the work performed by the Chinese ?
  3. Will he make inquiries as to the circumstances and conditions under which this Chinese was admitted into the Commonwealth?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes. 2 and 3. The Chinese in question is the personal servant of the actor referred to, whose stay in Australia is not expected to exceed six months, and, in accordance with the usual practice in relation to the servants of visitors of good standing to the Commonwealth, the servant was admitted under a limited exemption to enable his employer to have the benefit of his services merely as an attendant and not to displace any local labour. It is understood that the matter in dispute has been satisfactorily settled and that the Chinese in question will continue merely to act as his employer’s personal and private servant.

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Appointment of Dame J anet Campbell.


asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that Dame Janet Campbell has been brought to Australia from England in order to establish a division of maternal hygiene in the Commonwealth Health Department ?
  2. If so, from what date has this lady been appointed, at what salary, and for how long has the appointment been made?
  3. Were inquiries made in Australia as to whether there was any one here capable of occupying the position; if not, why not?
Minister for Health · CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. Arrangements have been made with the British Ministry of Health for the services of Dame Janet Campbell to be made available for the purpose of advising the Government as to the needs of Australia with respect to maternal hygiene and infant welfare.
  2. The arrangements include the payment of the salary of her position in England over a period of six months, including the time occupied in travelling to and from Australia, travelling expenses, and an honorarium of £500.
  3. No arrangements have been made for filling the position of Director of the Division of Maternal and Child Welfare.

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– On the 28th August last thehonorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) asked me the following question : -

Will the Minister for Public Works inform me who is responsible for damage done as a result of the carrying out of the Murray river waters undertaking? Six authorities associated with this work - the Victorian Government, the New South Wales Government, the South Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government, the Murray River Waters Commission, and, to a lesser extent, the State Rivers and Water Supply Board. None of these bodies seem capable of protecting public property. What authority, I ask, is responsible for thepremature inundation which has destroyed roads and bridges before new ones are constructed, and whichhas seriously damaged public and private property ?

I now have pleasure in furnishing the following information : -

The Public Works Department, New South Wales, and the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, Victoria, are the constructing authorities for the Hume reservoir works, and as such arc responsible for all matters in relation to the acquisition of lands required for purposes of the works, and for the submergence of lands as a result of such works. I am informed by the constructing authorities that all reasonable precautions were taken well in advance, firstly by the service on landholders of notices to treat for the purchase of lands affected by the storage, and, secondly, by warning shire councils and other interested local bodies, together with private landholders, as to when submergence might be expected to take place. In addition, measures were taken to provide suitable outlets by deviation of roadways and the provision of a punt before the submergence of existing traffic routes. The punt, of course, is only a temporary substitute pending completion of the Bethanga bridge over the Murray river, which bridge is expected to be completed during the coming year.

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Second Reading:

Debate resumed from 4th September (vide page 567), on motion by Mr. Bruce -

That the bill be now read a second time.


.- The question of paramount importance to be considered in this debate is not whether we shall retain federal arbitration, but rather what we shall do to preserve and safeguard our industrial conditions. It does not seem to matter much whether working conditions are maintained in this country under a Federal or under a State system; the vital thing is that they shall be satisfactorily maintained. Honorable members opposite discuss this subject as if arbitration in itself is a wonderful thing; as if arbitration courts of themselves give or provide wages. The courts, of course, make awards dealing with wages, but they do not provide wages, nor do they secure continuity in industry, or the observance of awards. I propose to delve, to some extent, into the history of arbitration. In the early days of Australia, the system of individual bargaining existed, and whatever may be said in favour of, or against it, it must be admitted that many working men became independent, and even affluent under that system, simply because they were able to labour on a piecework basis. It cannot be denied that there was a great deal of sweating, and often unsatisfactory conditions; and no one in this chamber, or outside of it, would like to see such things return. For, after all, we, in Australia, are one people, with a complete community of interests. We are descended from the one stock and have similar aspirations and hopes. Whatever affects one section, affects all in greater or less degree. Under the system of individual bargaining, advantage was taken of men’s necessities, and they were compelled to work for low wages. We therefore evolved a system peculiar to Australia, and called it industrial arbitration. I believe that New South Wales had the first arbitration system, and the example of that State was followed in 1904 by the Commonwealth. In that year, Sir Frederick Darley, then Chief Justice of New South

Wales, said, in dealing with the brickmasters’ and pipe manufacturers’ case -4, N.S.W. S.R., 229-

It is also beyond question that the Arbitration Act, as in force in this State, is an act which is in derogation of the common law; it does encroach upon the liberty of the subject as regards persons and property; it creates new crimes unknown to the common law, or contained in any previous statute. It interferes with the liberty of action both of employer and employee. It precludes the one from giving and the other from obtaining employment except upon terms settled by the court. It has the effect of preventing persons from obtaining employment at their specifio callings except upon terms imposed by the court. It deprives the employer of the conduct of his own business, and vests it in the tribunal formed under the act, and this tribunal can prescribe terms of management, which, however injurious they may be to the employer, he must comply with under penalties for any breach of the order of the court. There are many other matters to which I might refer, such as the operation of the common rule upon persons who have not been before the court; but it is not necessary to do so. Further, I think this Act is productive of the most alarming and deplorable amount of litigation, with its concomitant ill feeling and ill will between employers and employees, who are by this Act forced into hostile camps. I believe the object of the legislature in passing this Act was to promote peace and goodwill between employers and employees, but I fear it has not had that effect.

The deprivation of the liberty of the public at large is involved in this matter.

The Federal Arbitration Court was established by this Parliament upon the very definite promise and undertaking by the unions that if compulsory arbitration were instituted, the awards of the court would be faithfully and punctually obeyed. That was the only foundation upon which the system could rest. Our Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been in operation since 1904, and under it the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has been functioning. We have had industrial disputes. I do not suggest that the industrial disturbances of Australia have been more or less severe than those of any other country. That does not affect my present argument. I am concerned now in showing that since we have had Federal and State Arbitration, there has been no substantial improvement in the conditions of our workers. Although they have been getting higher nominal wages, they have not been getting better real wages. Nor

Lave they been getting continuity of employment. I am alarmed and aghast at the unemployment existing in Australia to-day. We have successive Commonwealth increases in wages, always accompanied by such increases in the cost of living that the real wages have not been increased at all. At one time there was a reasonable opportunity of securing continuity of employment. To-day there is no such thing. It has been said that under our system of arbitration industries have developed. I do not believe that at all. If we consider the decreased value of money, the increase in population, and the general conditions of the world to-day, it will be found that as a matter of fact our industries have not correspondingly increased, and we are getting no improvement in conditions so far as- the workers are concerned. The Arbitration Act has been amended upon eighteen occasions, and we have tried in every way to make it a perfect piece of machinery under the limitations imposed by the Constitution. Yet, what is the position? The British Economic Mission pointed out -

There lies -no task before the Australian people more urgent than that of, in some way breaking the vicious circle, and of bringing down costs of production, as is being done in the other industrial countries of the world, without lowering the standard of living of the workers, as measured not by money, but by real wages, which are the reward of labour in the form of goods and services.

Again Mr. Gillies, one of the members of the Queensland Board of Trade and former Labour Premier of Queensland, said -

It is impossible in existing circumstances to improve the standard of living in Australia, and will remain impossible, unless and until employers and employees co-operate to increase production.

Every one must agree with that. The Labour party, so-called, has arrogated to itself the fathering of industrial legislation. It has made arbitration its child for a certain length of time, and while it suits its purpose. As has been said elsewhere, the Labour party so loves arbitration that it will not consent, to- its being abolished, but it so hates the system that its members will not. obey’ it.. They cannot have it both ways: A man who faces’ north by south can>. make no” progress.

The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) affected to look back with pride upon his association with Mr. Justice Higgins in the Federal Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice Higgins was apparently the oracle from which all wisdom came. Yet, during the hearing of the case of the King versus MacKay, Mr: Justice Higgins, in criticizing the Arbitration Court, said -

It is the function of the legislature, not of the judiciary, to deal with social and economic problems; it is for the judiciary to apply, and, when necessary, to interpret the enactments of the legislature. But here, this whole controversial problem, with its grave social and economic bearings, has been committed to a judge, who is not, at least directly, responsible, and who ought not to be responsive, to public opinion. Even if the delegation of duty should be successful in this case, it by no means follows that it will be so hereafter. I do not protest against the difficulty of the problem, but against the confusion of functions - against the failure to define, the shunting of legislative responsibility. It would be almost as reasonable to tell a court to do what is “right” with regard to real estate, and yet- lay down no laws or principles for its guidance.

That criticism is as true to-day as when uttered by Mr. Justice Higgins. Sir William Irvine, an eminent jurist and now Chief Justice of Victoria, had this to say about arbitration - 1

I have no hesitation in saying that whatever the ultimate settlement of this hugely difficult question of the relations between labour and capital may be, the particular machinery which the Labour party have been and are supporting, namely, the Conciliation and Arbitration Court of Australia, has failed to perform the duty for which it was brought into existence. It has failed lamentably. I am going to’ refer to the record of the court in a very short time. It has been a momentous example’ of a piece of machinery of the ]hostcumbrous and most unsatisfactory kind, because it has cost the people Of the country whose interests on both sides it was supposed to conserve, immense sums of money, whilst the results of its action have’ been wonderfully little. The reason is that it- is not a court at all. I am not saying anything whatever in criticism of the President of the court. You cannot make a- thing a court by calling it a court. You’ cannot make functions judicial’ by calling the- place where they are administered a court.- Judicial functions and the functions of a court are those’ wh’ich determine the rights under the law between parties. There must be law before we can determine’ any rights between parties.- The function of this so-called- Arbitration Court is: not to determine rights under the- law at all, but- to make’ law.

So much for exalted legal opinion on the subject of arbitration. This expensive and cumbrous system has been in operation since 1904, and any man looking back upon its record dispassionately, fairly, and without party bias, must recognize and concede that it is one of steady retrogression. It is true that while arbitration courts were constantly granting increases of nominal wages, and agreeing to every claim that the unions lodged, there was a certain degree of obedience rendered to the awards of the court.- Now, however, when the economic position will not permit, this course to be followed any longer, a very different condition of affairs obtains. “Within the last fewyears, strong opposition to the existing arbitration system has developed even among the trade union organizations themselves. In August of 1927, the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council passed a resolution accepting the principle of a complete break with the Federal Arbitration Court, and the transference by the unions of their fight against piece-work to the industrial field. In July, 1927, the building trades group, supported by Mr. G. Rymer, of the Australian Railways Union, passed the following resolution - “ That this meeting of the Trades and Labour Council welcomes the action of the members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union in Sydney in defying the award made by Judge Beeby providing for piece-work, which by past experience has proved inimical to the interests of the members of the working class. “Further, that this council considers that sooner than accept such degrading conditions it would be in the interests of all workers to repudiate the Federal Court of Arbitration, and we seek the support of other councils in this matter.”

Again, Mr. J. B. O’Connor, President of the Australian Tramways Union, speaking in. September, 1927, said -

The Arbitration Court is overboard so far as tramwaymen are concerned. We will recommend to the members of our union that the court shall no longer be used. It has committed industrial suicide.

Organized labour has not been alone in its opposition to the system of industrial arbitration. At the annual convention of the Central Employers Federation held at Perth, Mr. M. L. Brooks made a strong attack upon the existing arbitration system. Mv. MacDougall, speaking in November, 1928, is reported as follows: -

Mr. James McDougall, the retiring president, referred to the operations of the Arbitration Court, the waterfront dispute, and other subjects which concerned employers. In particular, he criticized the system of compulsory arbitration under which, he said, conditions that were utterly intolerable had been imposed on industry. . . . Labour leaders and trade union officials had held out the promise that if employers and employees were compelled to submit their differences to compulsory arbitrament, strikes would be a thing of the past. But to-day, after working to a greater or lesser extent under the system for more than twenty years, the conduct of business, because of the lawlessness of certain unions, was as uncertain and embarrassing as it was in any period of the country’s history.

There is less peace in industry now than there was before the arbitration system came into force; Not long ago, as honorable members will remember, Mr. Justice Beeby was urged by the waterside workers to hasten the making of an award covering wages and conditions in their industry. The Waterside Workers Federation gave an undertaking that if he would make his award, they would obey it, and ensure its obedience by all affiliated groups. Yet, when the award was made it was straight away denounced as an infamous instrument, and it was disregarded and broken. Not only was it defied by those who were affected by its conditions, but it was disobeyed by the Queensland waterside workers, although it gave exactly the same conditions as those under which they had been working. They struck against the name, and not against the fact. There is still operating in New South Wales a lockout in the coalmining industry. I do not say, and I do not think, that the action of the coalowners could be proved to constitute a legal offence, but there does unquestionably exist a lockout. The men are suffering, industry is suffering, and the public are suffering as a consequence. Members of this House have clone their best to havethe matter settled, and in this connexion nobody could .have clone more than the Prime Minister has done. Within very recent times penalties have been imposed’ by this Parliament for breaches of arbitration laws, and members of trade union organizations have been fined for failingto obey those laws. Yet all these things. have not prevented industrial disputes,nor ended the strikes, and the situation, in fact, is going from bad to worse. We have to ask ourselves whether, in such circumstances, we ought to continue a system which is costing the country many hundreds of thousands of pounds and which is not giving us peace or security in industry. There is only one way in which we can restore a healthy tone to industry, and that is by increasing our output. We can achieve that only by a system of payment by results. But jio union in Australia, except the Australian Workers Union, will accept that system.


– The miners have accepted it.


– Yes, the miners and the shearers accepted it, but it remains true that very few unions will accept piece-work. They refer to the system as degrading. It is the only system, however, by which a working man may win independence, and lift himself out of the ruck. Other systems of payment result in a levelling down. The workers under the piecework system can be protected against sweating by properly adjusted scales of payment.

The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) prides himself upon his consistency. When speaking on this bill the other day, he said with relish that it was the duty of honorable members on this side of the House to support the platform of the Nationalist party. I was surprised at such a statement coming from the honorable member, because I have known no other member elected to support the Nationalist Government who has more consistently spoken and voted against its policy than has the honorable member for Perth. He now professes to love arbitration, and he faces north by South just as honorable members on the Other side of the chamber are doing. Yet, Speaking in this House on the 4th June, 1926, the honorable member for Perth, who prides himself upon his consistency, but who is in reality consistent only in his Opposition to the Nationalist platform, Said -

The part of my speech of three years ago, that I wish to modify, reads -

We must recognize that the principle of industrial conciliation and arbitration ,has come to stay, and if the machinery to give effect to it is not yet as complete and effective as it might be, the remedy is to be found, not in abandoning the principle, but in using every endeavour to improve the legislation.

At that time, I, and most other honorable members, believed that there was no alternative to compulsory arbitration; but a great deal has happened since then to shake our confidence in the principle, and I wish to make it perfectly clear now that I do not believe in it; but, at the same time, I do not think it is practical at present to abolish it. Public opinion would not support such a move until at least one more attempt has been made to make the machinery work. I feel that it will be impossible ever to make it work, but in consideration of the feelings of those who are enamoured of the principle, we ought to make an effort to do so, if only for the purpose of satisfying them that it is unworkable. The taking of this step will hasten the abolition of compulsory industrial arbitration. It must be patent to everybody that the time is not distant when all the State arbitration courts and authorities will be absorbed in the Federal Court. The judgments of the High Court to the effect that Commonwealth awards must override State awards forces one to that conclusion.. I believe that when only one arbitration court is operating, people will begin to concentrate on the actual basis of the system, and that they will soon como to see that it is fallacious, and must be ultimately abandoned. I can even see a glimmer of hope that it will be abolished not by the consumers, who suffer, under it, but by the employers and employees themselves.

The honorable member has again been converted, and now believes that arbitration ought not to be scrapped. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore), when speaking on the subject of this bill, asked what of the thousands of pounds which had been spent, and the mouths and even years which had been devoted to the making of arbitration court awards. Did the honorable member not realize that by stating the fact that the unions were obliged to spend thousands of pounds over a period of many months in order to get an award he was condemning the system? The system must be still further condemned, because very often when an award is obtained under such conditions it is totally disregarded by the party which sought it.

It is well known that the Commonwealth has practically no power to enforce the awards of the Arbitration Court. It has no policing machinery, and cannot oblige the parties to adhere to the terms of any decision of the court. When Mr. Mccormack was Premier of Queensland - happily he has now vacated that position - he travelled through the length and breadth of the northern State condemning the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. He told the people that the Commonwealth authorities could not enforce the awards of the court; that Queensland had an infinitely superior’ system of industrial control, and that the State authorities alone could ensure industrial peace and the observance of awards. Under the federal law, strikes, lockouts, and picketing are unlawful, but in Queensland a system of authorized strikes and lockouts prevails. When the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) was Secretary for Public Works in the Queensland Government he also had a great deal to say about the relative merits of the Commonwealth and State systems, and he advocated in no uncertain terms the method of industrial control .devised by his Government. He said that the measure then introduced in the Queensland Parliament would provide the most perfect instrument for the regulation of industry that had seen the light of day in any civilized country. He also said that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court was a lame duck, which could not enforce its awards, and had no power to make a common rule. Yet to-day he is advising us to keep this lame duck. But we cannot forget that the trade unions will accept the awards of the court only when the conditions granted are favorable to their members. They cannot have it both ways. They cannot expect to be allowed to work under favorable awards and at the same time contribute funds to enable workers in other industries to strike against unfavorable awards.

One aspect of this subject has not yet been touched upon. There is more than a suspicion in Australia that the workers in different industries are not allowed to exercise a perfectly independent choice as to whether they will or will not strike. A good deal of tyranny is exercised over them. Very few secret ballots have been taken on the desirableness or otherwise of conducting a strike, because the union leaders realize that in many instances the men would veto any strike proposal. The

Ifr. 6s. Francis following is an enlightening comment on this subject by Mr. R. D. Elliott. It appeared hi the Melbourne Herald on the 15th February, 1926, under the heading of “ How a strike was averted “ : -

Mr. Elliott was speaking on “Humanity and Industry,” and he referred to a dispute which arose a few years ago, affecting a firm that employed about 100 men. A mass meeting of the employees was called, and the union secretary and the manager both addressed the men. On a show of hands, a unanimous verdict for a strike was given..

One man then walked quietly past the representatives of the employers and said, “ Take a secret ballot.” He came back again with the same advice, but was careful not to let any of the men know what he was suggesting.

The manager addressed the men, and the secret ballot which followed gave an overwhelming majority for a return to work.

The union secretary harangued the men and called for a show of hands, resulting in a unanimous verdict for a strike.

The manager persuaded the men to take a fourth ballot, a secret one, and the men reversed the strike decision. “ The moral of this story is obvious,” Mr. Elliott added.

Not long ago a disagreement occurred at Cairns as to whether the waterside workers there should adopt the rotary system of work or strike. At the meeting of workers which considered the subject a show of hands revealed that practically all the men present favored a strike. But one person demanded a secret ballot. This was taken, with the result that a majority of 70 per cent, voted against a strike. By some means another show of hands was taken, and again practically every hand was raised in favour of a strike. Another secret ballot was held under the segis of the industrial magistrate, and again an overwhelming majority voted against a strike. It must be clear, therefore, that the men are not allowed to please themselves in these matters. Liberty is the most priceless heritage of mankind, and we should exercise all vigilance to ensure that the working men of this country are not robbed of the liberty to exercise a free choice in respect to matters relating to their employment. I am not suggesting that every union official is a tyrant. I know, as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) observed, that the task of the union officials is very often arduous. But it is not less so, although the honorable member did not say this, because they have to give effect to. the wishes of a few extremists who desire to dislocate industry. The trouble with the union officials is that they have to keep their seat in the saddle and ride hard to maintain their place. They haveto obey the behests of a few noisy extremists. This is not as it should be. In fact, the sooner that such a state of affairs is altered the better it will be.

Let us consider in a little more detail the attitude of the trade unions towards the Arbitration Court. I quote the following from a report which appeared in the Cairns Post on the 3rd August last, in connexion with certain proceedings which were being taken under the terms of the “ perfect “ method of industrial control introduced by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) when he was a member of a former Queensland Labour government. The remarks which follow were addressed by a responsible union official to the judge of the court : -

If we cannot get the protection of the court, we shall have to take what steps we deem advisable to protect our members. Then it will be found that a union which is regarded as an unwieldy organization would be able to kick as violently as a baby elephant. He did not say that was a threat.

If those observations did not constitute a threat, I do not know what a threat is. I cannot imagine any more threatening gesture or any more threatening words. If anything stronger had been said, surely the speaker must have laid himself open to a charge of contempt of court.

I wish to deal briefly with the speech delivered last night by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). The honorable member did not go back half far enough. He spoke of happenings in the last six years; but he should have taken into consideration the experience of the twenty years which have elapsed since the introduction of industrial arbitration. The substance of the honorable member’s argument was that he had lost faith in the judgment of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) on industrial matters.

Mr Maxwell:

– I did not say that.


– A fair paraphrase of the honorable member’s argument was that, although formerly he , had every confidence in the judgment of the

Prime Minister and the Attorney-General and had shared their opinions on industrial matters, those honorable gentlemen had been. proved to be wrong. Consequently, he said, henow had no confidence in their opinions, but his confidence in his own judgment was not shaken. Such an argument does not appear to me to be logical. It is quite possible, of course, that the changed views of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General on industrial questions are unreliable ; but so may be the opinions held by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). None of us is perfect. We are all liable to make mistakes. The honorable member made it clear that his confidence in the personal integrity and honour of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General remain unshaken. My confidence in the integrity of the honorable member is also unshaken. At the same time, I do not think that any convincing argument was submitted in support of the view that the judgment of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General was wrong. Formerly, the honorable member held views identical with those of his leader and the Attorney-General. If they made mistakes he made precisely similar mistakes and on the same grounds.

The honorable member had a good deal to say about the mandate the electorsgave to the Government. I am not greatly concerned about whether there was or was not a mandate for the introduction of this bill. We should not always be expected to take the safe course. There are times when the timid, doubtful, and apologetic course is wrong. The Government should not be expected to say, “ We are your leaders ; therefore we will follow you.” I do not subscribe to that view. The economic situation of Australia, with its record number of unemployed, its high cost of living, and the inability of its industries to compete in the markets of the world, is such that courageous action is necessary. To-day not a single primary or secondary industry in Australia can carry on its operations unaided and export its products at a competitive price to the world’s markets.

Mr Fenton:

– That is the lamentable result of six years of “ fat “ government.


– It is rather the result of twenty years of industrial arbitration. This system was to have brought an industrial paradise into being; but the paradise has not materialized. Our workers are not as well off to-day as they were before we established this system of industrial control. They have not had a real increase in wages. As a matter of fact, the purchasing power of their money has been decreased. The following figures furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician show, by means of index numbers, based on the index number 1,000 in 1911, the increase in wages in Australia over a period of years: -

Although nominal wages have risen, correspondingly greater increases have occurred in the cost of living. Assuming that the amount required to purchase a given quantity of food and groceries, and to pay a certain rate of rent, was 20s. in 1911, it has risen as follows in subsequent years -

The increase in wages therefore has not effectively kept pace with the increase in the cost of commodities. Our taxation has increased by leaps and bounds, and our public debt per capita has grown tremendously. We have not improved our position as a borrowing power in the world’s money markets. Our economic position must cause every thinking person the most serious anxiety.

Arbitration courts do not give wages but only fix rates of wages. When the first Arbitration Court of Queensland conducted an inquiry into a certain branch of the mining industry, I had the privilege of appearing before it as the representative of the mine-owners association. I refused to argue that the wages paid werea reasonable compensation for the risk that the men took and the work that they did. The judge asked me if that was not my contention, what was my answer to the claim. I replied that although I represented the employers, my case did not rest upon that ground. I said that I regarded mining as a hazardous employment, and that the men could not possibly be paid a wage which would compensate them for the work they did and the risk that they were obliged to take; but it was a question for the court to decide whether the men should take what the industry could pay, or should get a nominal award for higher wages and close the mines. The result of the hearing was that an increase of about 20 per cent, in wages was given. At that time over 70 mines were working in the area covered by the inquiry; but five years later only two mines were working, one on the tribute system, and another on wages. Mining had been killed and ceased to be a factor in the production of the State. Charters Towers, at one time one of the most famous gold producers in Australia, has ceased to be a mining centre. The ore reduction batteries have all gone out of existence, but not because of the exhaustion of the mines, because it is well known that on that field there are large bodies of ore awaiting development. On such fields as Black Jack and Broughton the surface has been only scratched. At Croydon the population has dwindled from 10,000 to about 270, and yet the mines have not been developed below the water level. The. reason for this collapse of the industry was largely that the courts had superimposed conditions which were not too great a reward for the workers to receive, but were more than the industry could stand. Labour members have frequently said that if an industry cannot afford to pay the wages that the workers are asking, it should be shut down. The courts have proceeded on that basis for a long time, and so many industries have been shut down that the country is experiencing record unemployment, which is to nobody’s advantage.

Mr Maxwell:

– What the honorable member says occurred could not have happened under the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which is required to take into account the probable economical effects of any award.


– That is quite true. Labour leaders have said that if an industry cannot pay a certain wage it should be scrapped; only within the lasts couple of years have we required the Arbitration Court to have regard to the economical conditions of industry. But what has happened since then? When the nominal wages have not been increased to the extent demanded by the men they have repudiated the awards, of the court. Can a system be called arbitration which permits the workers to say, “ Give us what we ask for and we will take it; give us less and we shall decline to observe the award?”

Mr Lazzarini:

– That is a misrepresentation of the workers.


– It is a plain statement of fact. In the Arbitration Court at Townsville an official of the A.M.I.E.U. said to the court, “If you care to give us what Ave are asking for, well and good ; if you don’t, Ave shall take it outside, and in spite of the court.” Whereupon the President of the court said, “ Gentlemen of the press, please ido not report that.” The Commonwealth arbitration system has achieved nothing, and it is time that we abandoned it. We are not making a success of it, and we have no means of enforcing awards. One of the amendments to the act which I believed would help the court to function .effectively was the provision for a secret ballot, which would restore to the workers the opportunity to control their own affairs. Throughout the division of Kennedy I commended the Government for that proposal, because I knew that many of my friends in the Labour movement would welcome it as one of the greatest aids to the cause of industrialism that could be devised. I Avas convinced that the secret ballot would he effective, but the happenings in Sydney in connexion Avith the timber strike have been a startling revelation. For those occurrences Ave cannot blame Mr. Lang; a Nationalist government was in office, and in spite of that fact the award of the court was defied and treated with contempt. Scathing and grossly unfair attacks were made upon the judge, who is an honorable man and above suspicion of party bias and political influence. Members of the union had requested that a secret ballot should be taken in accordance Avith the provisions of the act. and eventually the court ordered a compul sory ballot. Officials of the union were afraid that the ballot would result in an overwhelming declaration of the men’s desire to return to work, and to obviate that possibility they imposed their will ‘ on the members to defeat the law

Mr Lazzarini:

– That is more misrepresentation.


– This form of tyranny is disastrous to the people of Australia. It may suit Italy, but it does not suit us. The members of the union were not allowed to exercise their right to vote. They were ordered to have their ballot-papers burnt and an effigy of the judge was burnt by men who could only be called miscreants. We have also seen in operation and without protest from honorable members opposite the abominable system of “ basher “ gangs and bombing gangs. Nothing more tragic and disastrous has occurred in the industrial history of Australia. Heavy fines were imposed by the courts upon the unions, but they have not been collected. On the other hand, the prosecution of John Brown, a wealthy coal-owner, was withdrawn. Although in that matter I think that the Government acted rightly, the fact remains that there have been strikes, and at least one lockout, and the court has been helpless and futile to prevent or to end them. Arbitration has brought industrial peace no nearer. . We have carried this experiment in industrial regulation to the limit, and it is now time to call a halt. If the arbitration system is so wonderfully good, as its champions assert, it is strange that no other country in the world has adopted it. Australia has no patent rights in it, and surely if it were worth while some other country would have introduced the system. But it has not been respected even in our own country. It has been execrated from one end of Australia to the other by honorable members opposite and trade union members and leaders. They have held the court up to ridicule and contempt. In spite of the warning issued from time to time by honorable members on this side that they were imperilling the Commonwealth arbitration system, they continued heedlessly their campaign against the court, and honorable members opposite have never dared to raise their voices in protest against the outrages committed or instigated by the unions. They have treated the Arbitration Court as they treated the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, which was sabotaged out of existence. The workers were warned that if they continued their policy of strikes and obstructions the Government would dispose of the Line. They took no heed, and eventually the Line as a Commonwealth Government enterprise ceased to exist. The time has now arrived for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court also to disappear.

Honorable members opposite talk as if when the Arbitration Act is repealed, all forms of industrial regulation will cease. I do not believe that the regulation of industrial affairs should end ; but if arbitration is to bo satisfactory there must be power to enforce the decisions of the tribunals. As the States have sovereign rights complete and ample, and can make whatever legislative provision they choose for the adoption of the existing awards of the Commonwealth Federal Court, and provide any awards of their own, I see no reason why this matter should not be left to their control. They have also the police and the machinery for enforcing the judgment’s of the courts. In Queensland strikes and lockouts are authorized under State law and there is legalized picketing. In pursuance of what union officials are pleased to call “peaceful picketing” men have boarded railway trains, searched the passengers, thrown some of them out of the trains, capsized some trains, and prevented the running of others. Under this system one man was done to death, and evidence was given in court that one union served out loaded revolvers to some of its members who were to engage in “peaceful picketing.”

Mr Maxwell:

– And yet the honorable member wishes to relegate the regulation of industry to the State tribunals.


– While these evils were happening the Commonwealth Arbitration Court was in existence and could do nothing to stop them. That court bans strikes, lockouts, and picketing. The State Arbitration Act makes all three lawful, and if the police who were avail able to maintain law and order could not prevent outrages, what could the Commonwealth do. without a police force?

Some of those who are opposed to the abolition of the Arbitration Act have said that the people should be asked by another referendum to grant increased powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. I cannot see that anything would be gained by the taking of another referendum. Even if the people bestowed greater powers on this Parliament it would still be without ability to enforce obedience to the Federal Court, because it would have no police force unless it created one for that particular purpose. In the United States of America the militia have been called out on occasions to quell industrial disturbances, and I hope that we shall never be driven to such extreme measures in Australia.

The arbitration system has been tried out since 1904. The original act has been amended from time to time, and all things possible have been done to test thoroughly the system; but for the reasons I have stated we have failed to make asuccess of it. The conditions of the workers have not improved. The courts have awarded nominal increases of wages, but changes of economic conditions have prevented the workers from getting any advantage thereby. Actually there has been no net improvement in the working conditions of our people. In some cases they have been given shorter hours, frequently so short that they have not been able to obtain employment. What is the use of prescribing wages if men cannot obtain employment at those rates? Throughout Australia there are millions of jobs waiting to be filled and work waiting to be done that is necessary for the development of the country and the stimulation of our industries; yet tens of thousands of men are walking about the country looking for work, with no chance of getting it. That is what we have achieved under this cumbrous, frightfully expensive, and totally ineffective machinery. It is time that we scrapped it. By the time another referendum could be held and the necessary action taken, in the event of the people agreeing to the Commonwealth Government having wider powers, our economic condition would be a great deal worse than it is to-day.

I am pleased that, by this legislation, the Government proposes to repeal the whole of our arbitration laws. The arbitration system was once the idol of the Labour party; but it has not improved the conditions of the people, and, therefore, we should not continue it. It has hampered industry, has been the means of closing avenues of employment, has restricted the development of our enterprises, and has placed us in such a position that we cannot either compete with other countries or find work for our own people, although we have borrowed heavily to maintain the standards that have been set up and give an appearance of prosperity. It is time that we threw this machinery on one side and took other steps to place ourselves on a more economic basis. Only the maritime industries will remain under federal control. The Attorney-general, in a very able speech, has explained the reasons for that. I believe that the waterside workers will welcome the committees it is proposed to appoint, and that in future they will be more contented, and work under healthier conditions than those that have existed under the federal arbitration system. It is a vicious practice to place employers and employees in separate classes. This proposal will have the effect of bringing them closer together. Before arbitration was effective in Queensland I had the privilege of being associated with a successful attempt to apply the principle of conciliation. I, and three other representatives of the Mine-owners Association, met 30 representatives of the miners at a round-table conference, to discuss an application by the men for increased rates of pay. We placed our cards on the table and frankly discussed the position. They asked me whether I considered that the wages they were then receiving were sufficient. I replied, “ No ; I never have, and I never shall. You cannot compensate a miner for the risk he takes in such a hazardous calling. But it is for you to- say whether it is better to carry on under these conditions or to have no work at all.” The representatives of the men went through the balance-sheets of the companies, held a private conference, and then said, “‘We shall allow matters to stand as they ‘ are for, at any rate,, twelve months, when the position can he reviewed.” They took that action because they recognized that their difficulties were appreciated; but that the industry could not be further burdened in its existing condition. That arrangement stood, not for twelve months but for over three years. I am not suggesting that loss should be suffered and sacrifices made by the workers. I believe that they are least able to bear them, and that they should first be borne in another quarter. There must be efficiency in industry. I do not mean that the employees should speed up. Those who are responsible for the management of industries should be thoroughly efficient. They should have modern plant, and be economically capable of functioning in competition with other countries. Payment to the workers should then be on a piece-work basis, so that the man who has the ability to earn more than the living wage will receive it, and those who cannot earn a living wage will engage in some other calling for which they are more suited. It is the duty of the community to see that men are employed at work for which they are fitted. It will generally be found that those who are failures are engaged in the wrong calling.

I have no hesitation in supporting the bill, and I hope that, under it, we shall derive a greater measure of economic satisfaction and justice for the people. The States only can control these matters. When the responsibility is laid upon them, we may look for peace in industry, with a corresponding increase in national prosperity.


– I ask honorable members to contrast the proposal of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to keep this House sitting all night so as to pass the second-reading stages of the hill, with the action of one of his followers, who has just delivered a stonewalling speech, in the course of which he read lengthy extracts from conservative lawyers, and . took full advantage of the time allowed him by the Standing Orders. When I regard critically the present occupants of the Treasury bench I cannot fail to realize how far short they fall of the great men who occupied that bench in the early days of federation, men who took a broad national view of all questions relating to Australia, and who believed in an extension of the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. They would never have consented to hand over to the governments of the States any powers they possessed.

Mr Paterson:

– We do not propose to hand over any powers.


– The first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Sir Edmund Barton, had previously distinguished himself in his own State. He always had before him the ideal that this should be the dominant Parliament in the’ Commonwealth. If he were here to-day he would regard with scorn the gentlemen who propose to hand back to the States some of the powers that they possess. His first lieutenant, the late Hon. A. Deakin, also was a true federalist, who would look with contempt upon any man who would be prepared to see the Commonwealth shorn of any of its powers. Another brainy man who occupied a prominent position in this House was the late Honorable C. C. Kingston. He breathed the breath of life into the federal arbitration system, travelling from State to State in advocacy of it. He wished this to be the dominant Parliament so that it would pass legislation dealing uniformly with industrial matters. What would he think of a government of men who, before entering the Commonwealth Parliament, had had no experience in any State Parliament ? Not one member of the present Ministry has held a seat in any State Parliament; yet they propose to forgo the privilege of keeping this the dominant Parliament of the Commonwealth! I could mention other men whose names will live when those of the present Government have been forgotten.

I challenge any supporter of the Government to point to one occasion when the people were told, at an election, that the Government were prepared to hand over to the States the industrial regulation of all our industries. On the contrary, they claimed that they would tighten up the law so that it could be more effectively administered. By our tariff Ave can either make industries prosperous or kill them. Any Parliament which has the power to create and stimulate secondary industries should also have control of industrial conditions. If there should be a strike of boot operatives in both New South Wales and Victoria, there would be no machinery in either State adequate to deal with the dispute as a whole.

Mr Paterson:

– Each State will deal with its own dispute.


– I know that. But what will be the use of individual action in a dispute which extends beyond the borders of any one State? If this measure is passed one State may refuse to legislate to regulate industrial conditions within its borders, and another State may fix a minimum wage and the hours of labour in industry. The employers who are governed by no restrictions will say to their employees, “You people are notworking full time, and we can get the markets of another State if you like to work increased hours and accept reduced wages.” The result will be competition between the States, with a tendency to reduce wages. I had the honour to be associated with Judge Heydon on the Arbitration Court of New South Wales for three years. The wage of the workers engaged in the boot trade was at that time £2 8s. per week. The evidence showed that they were underpaid, but we were up against this difficulty, that had we increased wages in New South Wales the boot trade of that State would have been lost to Victoria or some other State. Judge Heydon at that time stated that the only way to do justice to those employees was to have a federal award. Competition among the various States must tend to keep wages down.

Mr White:

– Wages cannot be made uniform throughout Australia.


– The federal award for the boot trade employees has been in operation for over sixteen years, and there has been no dispute in the industry during that time. Before arbitration operated, the conditions in the clothing trade were deplorable. The employees in the warehouses used to carry bundles of clothes home and work on them all night and carry them back again in the morning. It was a wholesale system of sweating. Because of arbitration the standards of work and living of these employees have been vastly improved. The arbitration’ system has been beneficial to the whole country. The Prime Minister says that we must bring down the cost of production. He should be honest and . say that he means, “ We must reduce wages, and increase the hours of labour.” The Arbitration Court, in fixing wages, took into consideration the cost of living, thus preventing sweating and bad conditions of employment. I asked the Prime Minister the other day what guarantee he had that the States would legislate on the lines of Commonwealth arbitration. He made no reply. It is evident that he has no guarantee at all. The right honorable gentleman contends that the unions are not obeying the awards, and, therefore, we have no power to enforce them. It took him a long time to discover that, because he has continually amended the act in order to make it more workable and equitable. The Prime Minister did not consult his own Cabinet or party before he decided to abolish federal arbitration.

Mr Paterson:

– Does the honorable member suggest that it was not a Cabinet decision ?


– It was a Cabinet decision, but only after the Prime Minister had made his decision.

Mr Paterson:

– I assure the honorable member that he is wrong.


– The printing trade is working under a federal award. Without arbitration competition will become acute among the printers in the various States, and wages and conditions of work will be lowered so that prices may be cut. The employees in the printing trade have been working in perfect harmony for nearly twenty years under an award of the court. To-day there are 407,000 persons in Australia working under awards and they are now to be disfranchised so far as the Federal Arbitration Court is concerned. Their organizations have expended thousands of pounds to gain the protection of the Arbitration Court, but now their efforts to improve their conditions are to be frustrated. The Government has no mandate for its action. Its excuse for the abolition of federal arbitration is that some of the unions which promised to obey the awards of the court have acted in defiance of them. That can be said about a great many persons in this country. Under our marriage laws persons take certain vows. They promise to do certain things. Yet we find the divorce courts crowded with those who have broken their vows. No nian would say that that justifies the abolition of our marriage laws. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) said that we have no courts to administer the arbitration laws. I would remind him that we have no courts to administer the land tax or the customs. The State courts carry out that work. The Commonwealth would be put to enormous expense if it had to provide its own gaols and courts. An arrangement has been made with the States for the utilization of their courts to carry on the work of the Federal Government.

It has been said that under arbitration this country has made no progress. Let me give some figures to disprove that statement. In 1903 the number of factories in the Commonwealth was 11,551. In 1927-28, the number was 22,775. It has more than doubled, notwithstanding the arbitration system and the overlapping of awards. In 1907 the value of the output of factories was £93,549,165. Last year it was £416,994,009, an increase of nearly 500 per cent. The value added to raw material was, in 1907, £35,997,706. Last year it was £167,402,772. In some cases, under the arbitration system, our secondary industries have increased 400 per cent. The salaries and wages paid in secondary industries were, in 1907, £18,323,977. Last year the figure was £91,365,319, an enormous increase, despite the restrictions imposed by Arbitration Court awards. In 1901, when federation took place, our population was 3,824,913, and last year it was 6,336,786. Our population has doubled under federation and the system of arbitration. This country is progressing by leaps and bounds, yet honorable members supporting the Government see fit to decry it. According to the Statistician’s figures, the number of disputes in 1913 was 208, and last year, 287. The number of disputes in the intervening years has undoubtedly fluctuated, but some of them consisted of a stoppage of work for only two or three hours. Looking at the history of other countries we find that Great Britain and America have had more prolonged and serious disputes than has Australia. I believe that Australia’s favorable record is due to the fact that we have a system of arbitration and conciliation. The supporters of this bill say, “letus have round-table conferences between the parties, and settle our disputes in that way.” I remember when that system was in operation in Australia, and we can put it into operation again under the present system if we like. As a matter of fact, many industries to-day are working under agreements which have been arrived at in conference, and have been registered in the Arbitration Court, thus obtaining the force of law. Before the introduction of the arbitration system we had the system of round-table conferences, and with what result? There was a constant succession of strikes and lockouts, while industry was conducted under sweating conditions. Suppose I am an employer of labour, and am conferring with my employees regarding wages and conditions. I say to them, “ Those are my terms; I am prepared to give you soandso.” If they do not take it, there is a strike or a lockout, until eventually the employees are forced to accept the terms offered. Under the present system, if conciliation fails, the parties go before the court,whioh determines the matters in dispute. I believe that the great prosperity which this country has enjoyed in the past is due to the fact that we have had a system of arbitration in operation which has ensured comparative peace in industry. It is true that we have had strikes and lockouts, but no piece of machinery is perfect. We must remember that we are dealing with human beings possessed of reasoning powers, and if they feel that they are being unjustly treated, they will resent it. We cannot prevent strikes altogether, but we can aim at reducing their number and extent as much as possible. That is what this party stands for. If the Government is so sure that the people are behind it in its determination to abolish arbitration, let them go to the country on the issue. Nothing would please the Labour party better. We know that the people are in favour of arbitration, and we know that no Government, which would oppose their will in that respect, would be returned to power.

Mr.Fenton. - The Government will not do that.


– No, it will not take that advice; it is too cautious. I have gone to some trouble to take out the figures dealing with imports into Australia for a number of years past. Notwithstanding all the trouble we have had on the waterfront the returns show that our imports have been constantly increasing. In 1903 the imports into New South Wales were 4,463,000 tons. Year by year they crept up until last year imports totalled 8,674,000 tons. In Victoria, imports have increased during the same period from 3,409,000 tons to 8,444,000 tons. While the Government here has been preparing to abandon arbitration, what has been happening in Great Britain? There they had a strike in the cotton industry, and the Government appointed an arbitrator, who settled the dispute, thus enabling 500,000 employees to go back to work. Thus while we are abandoning arbitration Great Britain is taking it up. There is no justification for the Government’s present proposal. We in Australia have been pioneers in many directions, and we have pioneered industrial arbitration. I look back with gratification at the fine work done by the Arbitration Court, which has set up fair standards of living, and prevented sweating. It is only necessary to recall the conditions of the shop assistants in the past to realize the benefits which have been conferred by arbitration. In New South Wales, young women employed as shop assistants used to receive about 12s. 6d. a week, after ten or twelve years’ service. They received no wages at all for the first three months. Frequently, when they did become due to receive a decent wage, they were dismissed. Arbitration has altered all that. It has provided a scale of wages to which employers must adhere. It has also protected the decent employer against his unscrupulous competitor. I take my hat off to many employers who have invested their money in industry, and who are anxious to do the right thing by the public, and by those whom they employ. Sometimes, however, they are compelled by unscrupulous competitors to cut wages and impose bad working conditions under penalty of being forced out of business. If this bill passes - though I am inclined to think that the Government will pass out of office first - the result will be chaos in industry. In Tasmania and South Australia, for instance, there is no guarantee that any legislation will be passed to take the place of the present Commonwealth Arbitration Act. The Governments in those States are opposed to the principle of arbitration; they do not want any regulation of industry at all. They want to go back to the good old days, when the employers imposed their own terms upon the workers. Then an employer advertised for a man, and perhaps a dozen applied for the position. The man who was the hardest up, who had a wife and family to support, got the job, because he was prepared to accept what the employer offered. If’ the Government is honest, it will admit that its. purpose in bringing forward this legislation is to reduce the workers’ standard of living. The Prime Minister has stated that we must reduce the cost of production, but there are other ways of doing this than by reducing the workers’ wages. Production costs can be reduced by bringing down the rate of interest on borrowed money. We are paying lj per cent, more for our borrowed money to-day than we were before the war.

Mr Fenton:

– Our interest bill is £1,000,000 a week.


– That is so, and this huge sum is coming out of the proceeds of industry. No action is being taken by the Government* to reduce the rate of interest, but now that the labour market in every State is glutted with an oversupply of man-power, the Government thinks it an opportune time to bring down this measure. I would welcome a dissolution of Parliament on this issue, and if the Government possesses the courage of which it boasts, and is confident of the approval of the people, let it take the chance and test the feeling of the public at a general election. If it takes that action, I am afraid that I shall miss a good many of my friends opposite when Parliament re-assembles.

Mr White:

– The honorable member himself will be among the missing.


– The honorable member who has interjected will also be missing. He is here only by accident, anyway. Personally, I intend to oppose this bill by every means in my power. I have here a long list of industrial disputes which have been settled by conciliation and arbitration. The organizations which have benefited include those of the carpenters, watchmakers, engineers, drivers, cooks, &c. In those cases agreements were reached and registered in the court. What will happen to those agreements if this bill passes? The workers who are a party to them will be without any legal protection whatever. Honorable members on the Government side have spoken about overlapping in the present system, hut I do not see how this bill, if passed, will overcome any of the difficulties arising out of overlapping. At present 143 industrial unions are registered under the Federal Arbitration Court, and 769,000 workers may be affected by the awards made. If this bill passes, they will have no protection unless the States enact legislation to take the place of that which it is now proposed to repeal. We have no guarantee, however, that they will do so. It seems a tragedy to me that the trade unions which have spent money and taken infinite trouble to secure industrial awards should now be called upon to make completely new arrangements. The Government cannot claim that in bringing this measure forward it has the support of the people of Australia. The matter was not mentioned in the Governor-General’s last speech, nor was it mentioned by the Prime Minister in his policy speech. It was certainly not mentioned by any honorable member on this side prior to the last election. When I look at the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and when I think of other distinguished members of the Commonwealth Labour Government such as Mr. Andrew Fisher and Mr. Chris. Watson who desired to make this Parliament the dominant legislative power ki the Commonwealth,. I realize how far we have drifted from the ideals which we once set ourselves to attain. We now have men composing the Government of the Commonwealth who, far from taking any steps to make this Parliament dominant in the government of Australia, are prepared to hand over all control ‘ of industrial affairs to the Parliaments of the States. This Parliament has power to regulate industry by the imposition of Customs duties, but the Government proposes to hand over the control of working conditions to the States which have nothing to do with the tariff. I should like to see honorable members opposite remain true to their election pledges. They were elected to support a Government which allegedly stood for conciliation and arbitration, and for the preservation of law and order. Now they are going back on their pledges, and demonstrating that they deceived the people when they sought their suffrages. How can the people be expected to have any respect for the law when they see their lawmakers prepared to abandon the principles for which they professed to stand? I am strongly opposed to this bill, and I hope that the Government will be defeated on it.

North Sydney

– This measure is without parallel in the legislation of the Commonwealth. For a quarter of a century the National Parliament has been building up, stretching out, and consolidating its powers. The passing years have seen successive governments vieing with each other in an endeavour to exercise more effectively the powers granted to them under the Constitution. From the inception of federation until this ill-omened day the watchword of the National Parliament has been “Advance Australia.” The Leaders of parties, whether in office or in opposition, have striven zealously to develop and exercise the authority vested in this Parliament by the framers of the Constitution. Checked in one direction by decisions of the High Court, they have striven along other lines; but their advance has never halted. And during the last twenty years every government has demanded and endeavoured to obtain such amendments to the Constitution as would increase the power of this Parliament. The leaders of all parties, though not always agreeing as to the form of the amendments desired, have declared quite definitely that there was a need for wider powers to be vested in the Parliament. But while they have regretted the limitations of the Constitution, they have not halted nor stumbled in their onward march. They have endeavoured to exercise to the utmost all existing power. It has remained for this Government to sound the trumpet for a general and shameful retreat from a difficult but vitally important strategic position.

The system of Commonwealth industrial arbitration has serious defects, but the purpose of this bill is not to remedy them; not to improve the system, but to destroy it. At one fell stroke itwipes out all industrial laws passed during the last 25 years. It abolishes the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, in which, as the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) has pointed out, 769,000 workers are registered and 407,000 persons working under its awards. It leaves not one stone standing upon another of that temple of industrial legislation slowly and painfully reared by successive governments. And it does this in the name of industrial peace !

The object of the measure is to destroy. It is called the Maritime Industries Bill, and it contains some provisions which relate to the maritime industries: but these have been deliberately inserted for the purpose of misleading the people. The main and real object of the measure is not to build up, but to pull down. Like the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), we all listened intently to the speech .of the Prime Minister in introducing the bill, for, as the honorable member said, the onus rested upon him to make out a case which would satisfy us and the people of the country that there was some overwhelming reason why a system of industrial control, which had been laborously built up by successive Parliaments in the last 25 years, should not only be destroyed, but be destroyed summarily and without a moment’s delay. Those of us who were in a position to exercise an opinion upon the point came to the conclusion that the Prime Minister did not make out a case. His speech was full of sophisms, irrelevancies and platitudes. And the Attorney-General, who followed him while making pretense to logic, followed along the same lines.

The substance of the Prime Minister’s argument in support of the bill was that the economic and financial conditions of the country were very bad; that the depression through which we were passing was deeply rooted, and was not caused merely by adverse seasons, and that Australia’s great problem, if she was to solve her financial and economic difficulties, was to reduce the cost of production. If we could do something effective in this direction, our export and home trade would be strengthened, our industries extended, unemployment reduced, the cost of living decreased, and the purchasing power of wages increased. And he went on to say that the Government was definitely of the opinion that, these objects could only be achieved by making it possible for the employers and employees to get together. It was also definitely of the opinion that the co-operation of the two sides of industry could not be secured while the existing dual control of industry was allowed to continue. He emphasized the statement that a solution of these problems was at once vital and urgent. They were so urgent, we were told, that the Government was prepared to stake its existence upon its proposed method of solving them.

Last night the honorable member for Fawkner, like other honorable members who had spoken earlier in the debate, asked the Prime Minister to explain why the solution of these problems, which had been always with us, suddenly became so vital and urgent. But no adequate explanation is given. But we are told that the matter is so urgent that after a recess of five months and a session of two weeks there must be an all-night sitting of the House to deal summarily with the measure. Delay is fatal. Let us look at the position as it was when the Government decided to go to the country last year, when Parliament met in February, when it adjourned in March of this year. It has been pointed out during the debate that, whatever the defects of the Commonwealth industrial system, they are not now. What they are to-day they were any time during these last ten years. Whatever is wrong with federal control to-day was wrong with it in November last, when, we went to the people, when trie Parliament met in February, and when. Parliament adjourned in March. Nothing has changed; the system to-day is as it has been for 25 years or so; if there is any change it is a change for the better.’ Time is curing some of these defects, the decisions of the High Court in recent years have given a more liberal interpretation to the provisions of the Constitution, and so enlarged, to some extent, the powers of this Parliament. But the position to-day, and when the Prime Minister made his . startling and unheralded announcement to the Premiers Conference that the Arbitration Court and the entire Commonwealth arbitration system must be abandoned, has not altered by one jot or tittle from what it was in 1926, when the right honorable gentleman brought down amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which remodelled the court and gave it, for the first time in its history, the legal atmosphere and judicial panoply which the right honorable gentleman now deplores. Whatever is wrong with our arbitration system to-day was wrong with it in 1927, when the Attorney-General again amended the act and gave his positive assurance that they would so perfect the system that we should be assured of industrial peace. Whatever has changed the federal systems of arbitration is today what it. was when this Parliament was elected, and as it was when, we adjourned in March. What then is the reason for the introduction of this bill, the purpose of which is to destroy the federal arbitration system? Has the situation changed since November, since March? We ask in vain. We have been told a good deal about the financial and economic conditions of the country; but these are not different from what they were in March last, when Parliament adjourned. Has the price of wheat declined? Has the price of wool fallen? Has some great financial cataclysm overtaken the country? We know that the position is substantially what is was in March last. Anyhow, in what way can the measure now before us remedy the position ?

The Prime Minister has told us, among other things, that his opinions on industrial arbitration have remained unchanged. He still believes in the regulation of industry, but it is suggested that when he spoke so perfervidly of the regulation of industry, he meant the regulation by the States and not by the Commonwealth. He believes in arbitration as firmly as ever; but he believes that the federal system should be scrapped. Let us examine the right honorable gentleman’s position as set out by his words, and interpreted by his actions

Let us go back to the beginning. When the right honorable gentleman accepted a portfolio in my Ministry compulsory arbitration was definitely a part of its policy. That Government believed in compulsory arbitration as opposed to direct action. That was declared very definitely in my policy speech. By accepting a portfolio in that Ministry the right honorable gentleman adopted that policy as hi? own, and until the Parliament adjourned last March he knew no other. When he assumed office as Prime Minister he took that policy with him and steadily gave effect to its principles for si:: years. He believed in the federal system of compulsory arbitration ; the enforcement of the law for the preservation of peace, the benefit of industry, and the good of the whole people. Penalties were of the very essence of his creed. The present Government has introduced measure after measure to amend the Arbitration Act, and in every one, enforcement of the law, compulsion and penalties have been outstanding features. It is true, as the Attorney-General has asserted, that on one occasion he said that if the parties would not accept the awards of the court and loyally work under them, the Government would have to reconsider their position. He may have said that it would have to consider the scrapping of the arbitration system, but I do not recollect that he went so far. Certainly, the people were never asked to express an opinion ‘ on any such suggestion. The Government appealed to the country last November on the issue of the enforcement of the law against the waterside workers. The Prime Minister was then a firm believer in the efficacy of federal law. Did he suggest a surrender to the States? He did not. Did he doubt that the Commonwealth law could be enforced? He did not. Did he ever suggest that if it were necessary to restore economic conditions in industry the Government would propose the scrapping of the arbitration system? He did not. But he claimed when the Parliament met in February that he had secured from the electors a mandate endorsing the licensing system on the waterfront. He had gone to the country on the enforcement of federal law. The people - so he told us - had supported him. Tha* was a triumph for the federal law and of course for the Government and its policy of penalties for law breakers.

Now he tells us that compulsory arbitration is wrong, that penalties are barbarous, that we must abolish all courts and tribunals that prevent the parties from getting together and. reaching an amicable agreement. But yesterday, the strike was the one great offence against the majesty of the Commonwealth and the interests of the people. To-day it is one of those sportive gestures permitted to a free people. No longer is to strike an offence. But yesterday, the Prime Minister was a protagonist of penalties, and the enforcement of the law, to the hammering of people into reason, and compelling them to agreement. Today he preaches the gospel of brotherly love; the parties are adjured to turn the other cheek; penalties are swept away. The system is to-day what it was ten years or one year ago ; but the Prime Minister’s opinions are radically changed. To what are we to attribute this wondrous change? The right honorable gentleman says that he still believes firmly in the maintenance of the Australian standard of living, but the cost of production must come down. And so he proposes to abolish the court which has been the guardian of the economic and industrial welfare of the people, and is to-day the only barrier between them and industrial chaos. The right honorable gentleman says that he is not in favour of a reduction of wages, but he has decided that the court, which has been the greatest factor in establishing and maintaining decent wages, must be swept away. He undermines the foundation of the system responsible for Australian wages and the standard of living, and tells us he is against any reduction. He believes in the maintenance of the Australian standard of living, that he does not believe in a reduction of wages; but that the cost of production must come down ! These are vague and meaningless generalities.

How is the cost of production to come down, and at whose expense? Is there some magic incantation, some hidden virtue in this measure, which being released, will produce plenty where there is now scarcity? If not, how is the cost of production to be reduced? Are wages or profits to come down? We are not told. The parties are to “get together.” This phrase is like the “ blessed word Mesopotamia,” but what does it mean? The right honorable gentleman spoke as if getting together were some new discovery he had made. But there is nothing new under the sun. These things we tried in our youth, and in every country in the world, except Australia and New Zealand, the conditions to which he would have us return have always been in force. There is nothing to prevent the workers and employers of England from getting together, some of them do, and some of them do not. What is to happen when they do not agree? That is the question. Whenthe parties agree, there is no trouble, but what is to happen when they do not agree? The workers have but three alternatives - arbitration, the strike, starvation. A man must either take up arms to defend his position, submit to the judgment of an arbitrator, or accept conditions imposed upon him by the employer. For 25 years we have resorted to arbitration in preference to strikes. What were the conditions in this country before arbitration was adopted? The framers of the Constitution, fresh from the spectacle of the greatest industrial conflagration this country has ever seen, and while its embers were still warm, placed the arbitration provision in the Constitution in order to provide a better means of settling disputes. Those men had seen “the print of the nails”; their fingers had been thrust into the wound. They knew what appeals to force meant, and they pointed out a better way, and for a quarter of a century we have followed the trail they blazed. Until to-day, nobody has proposed that we should evacuate the field into which the framers of the Constitution led us. Now the right honorable gentleman suggests that in some magic way, the getting together of the parties will be facilitated by the abolition of the Arbitration Court. It can only help them to get together if it leaves the workers, or some of them, less protected. He says that the parties will not get together while there is a dual system of arbitration. By that he must mean that so long as there is some authority to which the workers can look for protection, they will not be compelled to accept anything against what they believe is right. If we remove that protection what will happen? The parties will, says the Prime Minister, “get together.” I am reminded of the limerick -

There was a young lady of Riga

Who went for a ride on a tiger;

They came back from the ride

With the lady inside

And a smile on the face of the tiger!

When the parties get together, on which side will the worker find himself? We are told that the Arbitration Court is to be abolished in the interests of the whole community. The Prime Minister, while declaring that he believes in the maintenance of the Australian standard of living, yet proposes to destroy the temple, so diligently built up by his predecessors, which made the basic wage possible. The right honorable gentleman says now that he believes in the settlement of disputes and fixation of wages by State courts. If the State courts can protect the workers the parties will not come together in the way that the right honorable gentleman expects. So long as the worker has some protection from an independent tribunal he will not accept conditions which he considers unfair. The right honorable gentleman does not appear to realize that this problem has been considered in all its aspects for years before he came into Parliament, and that in repealing the Commonwealth Arbitration Act he is destroying a system under which ninetenths of the workers of Australia have been reared. I doubt if 10 per cent. of our active workers have ever known any other; it is part and parcel of their industrial existence, an integral part of our national life, and upon it is based that standard of living which is reflected in the physique of the Australian people, their greatest asset. In what way does the Prime Minister think that the destruction of the federal court will help the parties to get together, except by depriving the workers of that temple in which they have found refuge and protection all their lives?

The right honorable gentleman tells us that this would reduce the cost of living. This is another of the vague statements in which he loves to indulge. How will it do so? He says that this measure will reduce the cost of living, in order to allay the dread of those - and the number grows with every passing day - who fear that the effect will be to reduce wages. He says in effect that although money wages may come down, the wage-earners will really be better off because the cost of commodities will be reduced. Let me ask him one or two plain questions. After all, we are not dealing with a hypothetical case, but with the circumstances of a people whom we know, and with whose standard of living we are intimately acquainted. We must have food, raiment, and shelter. Take the Australian dietary. What item of it is to be reduced in cost? Is the price of meat reduced? That, of course, would mean that prices of sheep and cattle would have to bc reduced. Does the right honorable gentleman tell us that this will be the effect of this bill? The pastoralists and the farmers will have something to say about that. Does he mean that the price of bread will come down ? Well, the farmers will have something to say about that also. Wheat-farming does not pay as it is. Are we to understand that the right honorable gentleman means that the price of wheat is to come down? What the wheat-farmer wants is what the sugargrower and the producers of dried fruits now, in some measure, have, and what the dairy farmers are getting - an assured price for their products in the local market. They want prices adapted to the Australian costs of production. Are the wheat growers to be told that, in the interests of the general community, the price of wheat must- come down ? Of course, the Government will say that it does not mean that. The whole trouble is that it does not mean anything. Are the prices of rice, dried fruits, and sugar to come down ? Are the prices of butter, milk, and cheese to fall ? Those are the staple items of our dietary. Not one of them will come, down. ‘Is the price of clothing to fall? lt can fall only if the price of wool falls, and, if the price of, wool falls materially,

Australia falls with it. There remains only rent. In the main, rents can fall only if there is a drop in land values. Is that what we are to expect? It is the only feather that the right honorable gentleman has to fly with. But we know very well that none of these things will happen. This talk about a reduction in the cost of living; that he is still in favour of the Australian standard of living; that he does not believe in the reduction of wages, is a palpable sham, a smoke screen behind which he is veiling his real purpose. The reasons that he advances are not the real reasons. What the real reasons are the people of this country will demand to know. What is responsible for the change in the right honorable gentleman, who, all his political life, has stood for arbitration; who followed the track blazed by those who went before him ; who upheld the virtues of the federal system; but now, at a moment’s notice, without the happening of any event, without the authority of the people, without consulting his party, without notifying this Parliament, without intimating to it when we met in February, either in the Governor-General’s speech, or at any other time, that he proposed to submit this measure for our consideration? Why has he tabled this measure which with every resource at his disposal, he strives to force down the throat of Parliament? The announcement of his intention fell upon us, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said last night, like a bolt from the blue. What motive spurred him on ?

The right honorable gentleman said that there were three alternatives before him. He tells us that he was convinced that a change was necessary; that this was vital and urgent. He had to consider what form the change should take. There were, he said, three alternatives ; for the fourth - continuance along present lines - was unthinkable, Yet it was on the continuance of this system which has been in operation for 25 years that every member on this side was elected, and most, if not all, honor-able members opposite. I certainly .was elected on that issue to every Parliament in which I have sat. I pledged myself to my constituents to support _ it. last

November. But the Prime Minister declared its continuance to be unthinkable. He . was, so he tells us, driven back upon the other alternatives. These were the evacuation of the field of arbitration by the Commonwealth, another referendum, or a grant of wider industrial powers by the States to the Commonwealth. The alternative of a referendum, the right honorable gentleman dismissed briefly. It would mean delay which was itself fatal, and was precluded by the very nature of the position in which he found himself. Further, it would cost £100,000. That, of course, to a gentleman like the Prime Minister, who has probably spent many times that sum on the commissions with which the whole country is littered, was a fatal objection. And so, in short, there could he no referendum.

When, after making his announcement to the Premiers Conference he gave an interview to the press, he said, “ We have tried twice, and the people will not agree to it,” thus seeking to convey the idea that he had been a tireless worker in the vineyard of constitutional reform. The facts show a very different light upon the position. He has been in this, as in other things, a dilettante. What are the facts? He has been in office for six years. He and his colleagues began with a burning desire to alter the Constitution. His colleagues wanted it for one reason, and he for another, but they were agreed that the Constitution ought to be altered. But their burning enthusiasm spent itself in words. He has made but one ill-conceived attempt to amend the Constitution. The announcement of his purpose burst upon the people, just as this bill has done, unheralded. An awed populace gazed at one another. The spectacle was seen of a man subordinating everything to the great purpose of amending the Constitution, a matter, he said, so vital, that unless it were done the Heavens would fall. Having thus adjured the people, he left Australia, depriving us of the incalculable benefits of his leadership and his inspiration during the greater part of the referendum campaign. He left the conduct of the campaign to the AttorneyGeneral, a man of great parts, a most excellent lawyer.

Mr Bruce:

– I did not leave Australia until -two days after the referendum had been taken.


– The right honorable gentleman gave up the active leadership of the campaign, and disappeared before the vote was taken.

Mr Bruce:

– No.


– The AttorneyGeneral, although a man of parts and an excellent lawyer, is one of whom it can hardly be said that his temperament and style of oratory are calculated to impress the people. He was left in charge. Be that as it may the referendum was overwhelmingly rejected by the people, although the Prime Minister had made a personal appeal to them to approve the amendment for his sake.

After the referendum the right honorable gentleman appointed a royal commission to inquire into the constitutional position, and recommend the form of amendments that ought to be presented to this Parliament for subsequent reference to the people. For two years this commission has been engaged in its labours. During that time we have heard little or nothing of it. The first notification we had that the commission was still alive was an admission that it has cost somewhere between £17,000 and £18,000. Its labours are now completed, it is to present its report, so the Prime Minister told us earlier this afternoon, on Saturday. But he will not wait for his commission’s report. Ho does not want to hear what it recommends. He has waited two years, but he will not wait another day. He has even decided to force through the second reading of this measure before the report of the commission has been tabled in this House. But let me return to the question of another referendum. He asks, what is the use of referring the matter to the people, seeing that they have rejected it? He means to convey the idea that he has time and again approached the people. That is not so; he approached them only once. The circumstances under which that submission was made, the form of the questions and the shortness of the campaign, were quite sufficient to explain its rejection by the people. The people rejected his proposals, but it is quite untrue to say that there is reason to believe that the people would not accept a proposal which they understand and which is properly presented to them. The facts are convincing on this point. What is needed is the education of the people, and that is brought about by successive references to them. On three occasions I submitted to the people proposed laws for an amendment of the Constitution. Tn 1911 the proposals were rejected by 259,000 votes. In 1913 they were rejected by only 26,000 votes - less than 2 per cent, of the total number cast; and in 1919 by less than 1 per cent, of the total number polled. The right honorable gentleman’s proposal was rejected by 13 per cent, of the total number of votes polled. He is satisfied with having made one splendid gesture. It is characteristic of him that he persists with nothing; but proceeds from stunt to stunt. It must be made perfectly clear to the people that the right honorable gentleman has failed to use his many opportunities to secure such amendments of the Constitution as would have ensured that control of the industrial sphere which is essential to peace and progress. He speaks of a referendum. It is for him to explain why he did not submit proposals at the last election. He ought to have done so. The proposals submitted in 1913 and 1919 were presented to the people at the same time as the elections. And in the interval between 1913 and 1919, although the war was on, the Premiers of the States were approached for a grant of wider powers.

The . right honorable gentleman has said that he asked the States to grant wider powers to the Commonwealth and that they unanimously declined to’ do so. What are the facts? The suggestion is that he was a humble suppliant to the Premiers, who scornfully rejected his humble petition. What happened was this: He said to the Premiers, “In the. face- of the referendum you will not, I suppose, agree to a grant of power ; but if you will, I ask you now to grant it.” He then, went on to say that in the alternative the Commonwealth would vacate the industrial field. The Premiers were astounded. They had never heard anything like it in their lives. They contrasted - and I want the members pf this House and the people of this country to contrast - his attitude then with that on the per capita question. On ‘that occasion he did not say “ There are my proposals. If you will not accept them I must, of course, take what you offer me.” He stripped them of every financial feather; he shut his ears to their prayers for mercy; he left them no alternative but meek acceptance of his terms. There is no doubt that when he wanted to bring them to heel he knew how to do so. But in this case he had made up his mind to vacate the industrial field.

He realized that that was the safest and best way to get out of the difficulty in which he found himself. It is not only arbitration that is on trial to-day; the right honorable gentleman is also on trial. This measure is brought forward, not to save Australia, but to save the right honorable gentleman. This adoption of the doctrine of brotherly love is not an admission that he has at last seen the error of his ways in exalting penalties and punishments to the seventh heaven as a means of bringing about industrial peace. The right honorable gentleman finds himself in the position of being no longer able to stand behind any measure which rests upon the enforcement of the law. He can no longer pose before this country as a man who is prepared to enforce the law impartially. That is the real, reason for the introduction of this measure.

The proposed change will bring chaos where there is now order. Hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens will be fearful that the. industrial heavens will fall. Within the last 25. years we have built up a system that has adjusted itself to the circumstances of the Commonwealth, and in turn these have adjusted themselves to the federal system of industrial control. Every great Labour organization is built upon a federal basis. All the great capitalistic enterprises have adjusted themselves to the same standard. It is impossible for the States to control the conditions of federalized industries or to deal with major industrial disputes. No State can mete out even-handed justice to great industries. An engineer in Perth and an engineer . in Sydney follow the same calling, do the same work, and demand that they shall do it under the same conditions. There can be no industrial peace without uniformity, and the only authority which can ensure uniformity, and which has secured a great measure of uniformity, despite the limitations imposed upon it - the Federal Court - is to be swept away. Into this relatively ordered arena the right honorable gentleman proposes to bring chaos. He proposes that there shall be set up six conflicting tribunals, each supreme within its narrow limits, and unable to deal with anything outside those limits.

We are now told that the States are to evolve a scheme by which their efforts will be co-ordinated. If they can do that, surely it would have been possible to bring about a greater degree of uniformity between the federal system and the laws of the States ! We know very well, however, because Sir William McPherson has told us so, that months, even years, must elapse before we can hope for the evolution of such a system. And at best the States cannot evolve any system comparable with that which exists to-day. The contention that the States can deal with great industries which are organized on a federal basis as the Commonwealth can is opposed to common sense and our own experience. It might be argued that if we were to dissolve the federation, each State could deal with its own problems. So it could. They could appoint a council to deal with such general questions as defence and the tariff. So they could. But these would be ineffective make-shifts. It was because the people recognized that some permanent authority was needed, that federation was consummated. The Federal Court is- the keystone of the industrial arch. It has maintained whatever measure of peace and uniformity we have had in this country. It has become an integral part of our lives. Its imperfections have always been admitted, but until the right honorable gentleman came on the scene, no one suggested that it should be destroyed. . As the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) has shown, the result must be a reduction of. wages. One State will compete against another. The employees in New South Wales may work 44 hours, and those in Victoria 48 hours, and conflict will necessarily ensue. The tendency will be for

State tribunals to adjust the matter by reducing wages and extending hours. I do not say that the present system is in all respects what it should be. I have long ago pointed out its many and serious defects; but I have always urged’ that those defects could only be cured by an extension of the powers of the central authority, and a simplification of procedure.

The right honorable gentleman deplored the fact that cases are heard in a legal atmosphere. He said, “We want the parties to get together.” He suggested that the federal arbitration system could not function, except through the Federal Court; that there must be a legal atmosphere. That is not so. There is nothing to prevent us from exercising the power of conciliation and arbitration through tribunals, committees, or any other instrumentalities Ave may care to create, presided over by laymen. Until 1926, the court Avas not a judicial body. It is true that it was presided over by a judge; but he acted in a non-judicial capacity. Sir John Quick, who has discharged the functions of an arbitrator for six years, is not a judge. Therefore, that argument must fall with the others.

We have been told that the Government stakes its life upon the passage of this measure, and that there is no alternative but to pass it without delay. He tells us that an amendment of the Constitution appears impracticable. There is no possibility of the necessary powers being granted by the States; the present system is unthinkable. We are asked to believe that the previous utterances of this statesman, and of all those who have preceded him for the past 25 years, are as the twittering of sparrows; that there never has been any possibility or hope of securing industrial peace under this system. Alternatively, we are told that because the timber.workers have defied the law, the system of federal arbitration must be abolished. That, of course, is merely an excuse. We regret that the timber-workers have defied the law: but it is not the first time that a federal award or other laws of the land, have been defied. No one would dare to suggest that the criminal code should be swept aside merely because’ the criminal law is defied by certain persons in the community.

The Commonwealth Arbitration Court is to be sacrificed, and with it all those men in the industrial arena who depend upon it to ensure them decent wages and conditions of labour. The Commonwealth is in difficulties, the precise nature of which we are not told; but they are such as to demand immediate action. And the only action of which the right honorable gentleman is capable of taking is to run away, and to hand over the job to some one else. The Prime Minister was elected on a policy which rested upon the enforcement of the law of federal law. He posed as a champion of law and the effect of its penalties upon the evil-doer. And now he, who insisted upon the law being obeyed, contemptuously pulls down the temple of the law. He spurns the Royal Commission on the Constitution which has been labouring for two years, and whose advice is to be tendered to him on Saturday. Possibly the recommendations of that commission will disclose a means whereby the Government may obtain wider powers and have greater scope for endeavours to assist this country. Because the recommendations of that commission may heap upon him greater burdens, he is compelling this House to conclude the discussion of this bill before its report is tabled. The right honorable gentleman lias been recreant to his trust. He has betrayed the people; yet he says that he has the authority of the people for this unauthorized, this iconoclastic policy. In saying this he insults our intelligence; he affronts our sense of decency. He knows that this proposal was never submitted to the people. They are aroused against it; the thunders of their protests break upon his ears. If he had mentioned it during the last election campaign, the people would have been up in arms. If the right honorable gentleman had embodied the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in his policy, every hoarding throughout this country would have been covered with posters, and the columns of every newspaper - and the daily journals almost without exception supported him - would have throbbed with appeals to the people to stand behind the statesman who had passed this long “awaited, this courageous proposal, which would at last bring economic sanity to a country that had been intoxicated with the heady draughts of false doctrines. [Extension of time granted.]

If this measure had been placed before the people, this issue would have subordinated all others; it would have been the one vital question upon which the elections would have turned. The abolition of the Arbitration Court was not even mentioned then.

The right honorable gentleman has said that the people are behind him. The people are not behind him. That is made evident by stating the position as it really will be if this becomes law. He speaks of the Federal Government vacating the field of arbitration as if he were stripping the National Parliament of the powers conferred on it by the Constitution. But this is beyond his power - beyond the power of any man. There can be no surrendering of powers; all that the right honorable gentleman proposes is to refuse to use such powers. Literally, he is the creature of a day. What he does to-day, another can undo to-morrow. Whatever was the issue of the last election, at the next election, come when it may - it may come sooner than many honorable members wish - this measure will be the issue upon which everything will turn. Then we shall see what the people will say. Nothing will distract the electors’ attention from this issue. The right honorable gentleman claimed that he has the authority of the people for what he is doing. He has not. . He claims that he has the authority of his party - that party he never consulted; He may have ; I cannot say. One thing, however, I do know: he has not the authority of the platform of that party which, in plain and unambiguous terms, commits the party to the maintenance of federal control of industry. I know, however, that he was elected upon avery clear and definite arbitration policy. The policy of the Nationalist party, as laid down in 1926 at the triennial conference in Adelaide, is very clear in its attitude towards arbitration. It reads - (/) The constitution to be amended to give the Commonwealth further control of industrial matters and extended powers for the maintenance of essential services where necessity arises.

  1. The establishment throughout Australia of a uniform working week in each industry, which shall be as short as is permitted by the economic circumstances of the nation; and the fixing of working hours to be entirely removed from the political sphere and to be the responsibility of an independent and expert tribunal.
  2. To make observance of all awards obligatory and binding upon all parties thereto with equal penalties for breaches.
  3. The power of the Government to interfere in all industrial disputes.

Every member elected as a Nationalist has subscribed to that platform, and is bound by his pledges to support federal arbitration and the maintenance of the federal system of control. The Prime Minister has contemptuously ignored that platform in this instance as on previous occasions. He is a Nationalist, but the platform of his party and his pledges to the people are nothing to him. As for me, my course is clear. I was elected to support federal arbitration. I told my constituents in very definite terms that I intended to support it; that I was opposed to the drastic penalties which the right honorable gentleman proposed. I said I did not believe in them. I. said then, as I say now, that I believe, as I have done for many years, that tribunals and committees are more effective in settling disputes than arbitration courts. But about the arbitration system I was quite definite. I have quoted the platform upon which the Prime Minister was elected.. He was elected to maintain the system of arbitration that has existed in Australia for the last 25 years. He proposes to destroy it. If he has his way he would leave this Nationalist Parliament without power to deal with the greatest problems that confront the civilized world. If this measure is passed we shall be a National Parliament in name only. If constitutional sanction could be given to this proposal, and this Parliament were deprived of the powers which he proposes to abandon, it would become a mere sham. The right honorable gentleman has on two occasions been wafted into power on the battle cry of the maintenance of industrial peace. This cry cannot serve him again. He can do nothing to preserve peace; he can do nothing in the face of a great industrial upheaval which would paralyze this country. But, if this measure is passed we shall have no power. There is no parish, municipality or shire council that will not have greater power in regard to industrial matters than this great National Parliament. It is saddening that this thing should be done by the right honorable gentleman, who has been entrusted with the government of this people, that it should be done in the name of industrial peace, that it should be done not because there is some great and powerful need for it to be done, but in order that the Prime Minister may save his face; that he may not be confronted with the ghost of that hideous blunder that he made when he withdrew the prosecution against John Brown. It is in that act of his that we must look for the genesis and find the explanation of the measure which is now before the chamber. I hope that the second reading of the Bill will be defeated, but if unhappily it should not be defeated, I propose to move in committee an amendment to the effect that it shall remain in abeyance until the people have been consulted on the proposed change.


– It has been said, during the course of the debate, that this is the most drastic proposal ever submitted to this Parliament during the 29 years of its existence. The aim of the Government is to revert to the conditions that existed before, federation, and it may interest honorable members if I review the position of this country before the present system of arbitration was instituted. In considering the proposal of the Government to destroy the great edifice of arbitration, one is reminded of the sign-boards that are frequently seen in our cities today outside buildings that are to be demolished. Those sign-boards bear a notice that “ so and so “ the wrecker is here. It might be truly said that outside the Arbitration Court edifice of Australia to-day is emblazoned on a sign-board, “Bruce the wrecker is here.” This bill may be described as the most “wrecking” proposal ever submitted to this Parliament. Prior to the introduction of federal arbitration there had been established in Victoria, for instance, a wages board, and in the other States some other tribunal.

But they were won only after years of agitation and strenuous fighting on the part of those engaged in the various industries of Australia. Until then destitution and misery had been rampant and wide-spread. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) has told us that women and children employed in the clothing trade were forced to work for a miserable pittance under conditions that barely kept body and soul together. Some measure of relief was given to them by the provision of State tribunals. Unfortunately some States refused to set up any tribunals to remedy industrial evils. We have on record the words of persons who were largely responsible for that situation. The President of the Melbourne Shopkeepers Association, when giving evidence before the royal commission inquiring into the working of the first wages board, said -

A great deal of sweating goes on, it is admitted, but this is beneficial to the nation. You cannot win a battle without killing a lot of men.

That callous utterance was made in the bad old days, at the time the first wages board was established in Victoria to remedy industrial evils. On -the advent of federation, when the customs barriers between the States were demolished, the workers applied to the wages board for increased wages, but they were told that if their claim was granted the industry in which they were engaged would be ruined because of the resultant competition from New South Wales. A similar argument was used in respect of the claims of workers in New South Wales. It was really the existence of those conditions and the lack of uniformity in the agreements or awards made by State tribunals that led - to the establishment of a Federal Arbitration Court. The first Commonwealth legislation was passed in 1904. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said, wisely and well, that the effect of the Government’s policy will be to take us back to the old industrial conditions, the existence of which actually led to the establishment of federal arbitration. The late Mr. Justice Higgins was the first president of the Federal Arbitration Court, and many years of successful arbitration followed his juris- diction. He laid down principles that protected not only the workers engaged in our various industries, but also the fair employer, from the competition of unscrupulous employers. He established a standard wage that would maintain a man and his family in reasonable comfort, living as a decent citizen in a civilized community, and for that act alone his memory will be kept green in our minds. It is that great system which this Government is out to destroy, and which this party and, I venture to say, the great majority of the people, are out to protect at all costs. The first question that must agitate the mind of the student of industrial affairs is whether arbitration has been a success. Until the meeting of the State Premiers, the Prime Minister had never said that the federal system of arbitration had failed.

Mr Theodore:

– His statements were to the contrary.


– Yes. He had previously defended the system of arbitration. The Attorney-General also defended that principle, and pointed out that there were 150 employees’ organizations, representing about 700,000 unionists, and 27 employers’ organizations registered under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act; that the awards of the Federal Court totalled 149, one-third of which were arrived at by the mutual consent of the parties. The. important factor is that an overwhelming majority of the organizations registered under the act have worked peacefully. During 1905 and 1906, there was no strike or stoppage of work within the large field of industry committed to the care of the Federal Arbitration Court. From 1916 to 1919 there were but two disputes, one of which was the seamen’s strike; and it is well to note that those disputes occurred in a period when prevailing war conditions altered the whole scheme of things. The facts concerning the manufacturing industries are remarkable. From 1917 to 1928 there were only three interstate disputes, which concerned the glass bottle industry, the railway workshops, and the building trades. The Government has contended that the number of disputes would dimin-ish if the control of industrial- legislation was left to the States. That is an astounding claim, and it appears to be the only excuse of the Government for the introduction of this drastic change. One crushing reply to that contention is to make a comparison of the number of disputes of a purely State nature with those of a federal character. In the year 19-27, there were 339 State disputes, of which 24 concerned the manufacturing industries. As against that there were but three disputes under the federal arbitration system between the years 1917 and 1928 !

Until recently, honorable members opposite not only did not claim that federal arbitration was a failure, they boldly declared that it was a pronounced success. It is interesting to note that during the period 1913 to 1923, the average time per annum lost by each worker through strikes, equalled only 1^ days. The statistics for the period 1923 to 1927 show that the time lost by each worker per annum was only four-fifths of a day. Those statistical facts demonstrate the great success that has attended the federal system of arbitration. A committee set up by the Commonwealth Government reported in 1924 that the average loss from unemployment for the period under review was 22.9 days per annum. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) pointed out, the days lost per unionist per annum in England as the result of strikes was nearly 18-J times greater than those lost for a similar reason in Australia. Those figures are not a figment of the imagination; they are statistical actualities that have not, and cannot, be denied, and they demonstrate irrefutably that federal arbitration has been a pronounced success. One seeks in vain for the reason why this Government was prompted to introduce this drastic change. Certainly it cannot be. because the existing system has been a- failure. The facts are all against that.

It would be very interesting to ,put the Attorney-General of a few months ago . into the box to answer the Attorney-General of to-day in this matter. The honorable gentleman has been freely quoted from both sides of the House, but I have, here a statement that has- not yet been cited, one that will- surely rise in judgment and be used in condemnation of the honorable gentleman by the people of the country, who after all are the final arbiters. On one occasion, the present Attorney-General found himself at a smoke concert given by the Kew - Victoria - branch of the National Federation, and I have here extracts of his recorded speech, in regard to a principle of which he was then . an ardent advocate. The honorable gentleman is reported to have said -

Aa to industrial relations, it is essential that there should be permanent industrial peace in order to obtain the greatest efficiency in primary and secondary production. The Arbitration Act had its defects, but it was working much better than many people gave it credit for. It was useless to talk about scrapping the Commonwealth’s industrial legislation. and he concluded by saying -

The people of Australia would never tolerate that.

I believe that the honorable gentleman still has that conviction. It was because of that that he carefully avoided making any reference to the subject when he was last before the electors. …

Mr Latham:

– The people of Australia would not have tolerated that action then, but they would be glad to have it done now.


– When the Attorney-General again appears before the electors his statements of the past will rise up like so many stubborn, unlaid ghosts, to his great discomfiture. The honorable gentleman declared that it was his considered opinion that the people of Australia would never tolerate the scrapping of the principle of federal arbitration. No doubt he was able to impress upon the mind of his leader that the people of Australia would oppose any such action, hence the reason for this mean, contemptible practice of going behind the backs of the people to do that which he is not prepared to submit to their decision.


– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw the suggestion that an honorable gentleman was guilty of a mean and contemptible practice. He referred particularly to the Attorney-General


– If you, Mr. Speaker, consider that I made any reflection upon the Attorney-General, I withdraw it. Am I not in order in saying that this savours of a mean, contemptible practice?


– The honorable member must not try to evade the rulings of the chair.


– When a Prime Minister, an Attorney-General, or any other responsible member of Parliament, expresses his belief that the people of Australia would never stand for a certain thing and then, after an election campaign during which the subject is not mentioned, he carries into effect the very thing that he believed the people would not countenance, it is not too severe to describe that as a mean way of conducting the business of the country. A little later, the Attorney-General stated that the number of unions which in recent years had struck, or ceased work, either through lockout or strike, might be counted on the fingers of one hand. Is it to be wondered, then, that I search in vain for the reason why the Government has embarked upon this drastic measure.

Mr Latham:

– Will the honorable gentleman mention, for my information, the date when that statement was made ?


– On the 13th of August of last year, only a few months prior to the last election. In the circumstances, I do not think that I could uselanguage sufficiently forcible to describe the honorable member’s action.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]


– Evidently the Government’s change of policy has been brought about as the result of instructions received by Ministers from their masters outside. We know that the Government’s supporters outside Parliament began in real earnest last year to make an outcry against the federal system of arbitration. The Single Purpose League has been in existence for some time, and it has persistently demanded that the Government should do the thing it is now proposing to do. Only last year the Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers demanded that the Federal Government should vacate the field of arbitration. The president of the Adelaide Chamber of Manufacturers last year said, “ We employers are sick of being cited to the Arbitration Court.”

The Metal Trades Employers Association met in Sydney recently, and issued a circular which contained the following statement: “Industrial Arbitration has pampered the workers. Away with it, and let us go back to the open, economic ring.” The Government’s supporters demand that the country should go back to the old days - the good old days they call them - when there was no regulation of industry, and when unscrupulous employers were able to deal with their employees as they thought fit.

Mr Chifley:

– That was when the parties used to “get together.”


– Yes, and the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott), put it forward as a serious contention that the workers would enjoy more protection under the State Arbitration Court than they have been receiving under the Federal Court. Yet what was the attitude of the Premier of South Australia, when the last railways award was issued by the Federal Arbitration Court? He said that he would not obey the award, adding that if he did obey it, a large number of employees would be sacked; and sacked they were. He said he would not obey the award, because it imposed wages and conditions which it was impossible for the State Government to accept.

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– It was impossible for the State to pay the wages.


– Yes, that is what he said. In spite of this example, the Minister for Home Affairs said that the workers would enjoy a greater measure of protection if they were again under the jurisdiction of the State Arbitration Court. One trembles to contemplate what would happen if a big railway dispute occurs after this retrogressive step has been taken. The Commonwealth Government would have to stand idly by while the railways system of the country was paralyzed, and industry dislocated.

Mr Abbott:

– The country people would soon fix that up.


– Listen to this hero from Gwydir, this fangless snake-


– Order! The honor able member must withdraw, that term.

Mr Abbott:

– Oh, it does not matter; I do not care.


– The point is not that the honorable member does not care; but that a Standing Order has been infringed.


– I withdraw the statement, but I thought that I would be in order in using a phrase which the ‘honorable Minister himself originated. The honorable Minister said that the “ farmers of the community would soon settle a railway strike, if one occurred, and in saying that he sets himself up as the violent advocate of direct action. I say, deliberately, that he does not represent the opinion of the farmers on this matter. If he thinks that he does, let him accept the challenge that has been issued from this side of the House, and go to the country on this issue. Let him give the electors of the Gwydir an opportunity to say what they think of the Government’s proposal. Does he seriously tell the members of this House that the farmers and pastoralists of Australia are in favour of the abolition of the Arbitration Court? Let me put the position, as one who represents a country constituency. It is not too much to say that before the advent of arbitration, there was not only incessant strife and turmoil in the pastoral industry, but sometimes bloodshed as well. From. the time the Australian Workers Union was formed in 1886 - that great organization of 150,000 members, the largest in Australia - until the issue of the award in 1905, there was incessant strife and unrest in this industry. Yet, from the time the award was made up to the present date, there have been only two disputes in the pastoral industry. Those who say that the pastoralists of Australia want to revert to the bad old days do not voice the opinion of the pastoralists. The honorable member for Gwydir also does gravE injustice to the farmers of Australia in saying that they wish to revert to the days of cheap labour. The sensible farmer knows that the troubles which confront him are not due to higher wages. Very few -small farmers employ labour to any extent, and even those who do are fully aware that their chief troubles arise from high rates of interest, and the operation of middle-men and combines who exploit them in connexion with everything they use on the land, including artificial manures, machinery, supplies, &c. Compared with these exactions, an increase of a few shillings in the workers’ wages is comparatively insignificant. The pastoralists and farmers of Australia want peace in their industry, and they have got it under the Federal Arbitration Court.

Mr Abbott:

– And yet they approve of the present proposed change.


– Upon what authority does the honorable member say that?

Mr Abbott:

– On the authority of the president of the Federal Council of the Farmers and Settlers Association.


– I deny that he represents the view of the majority of farmers, but even he damns the proposal with faint praise. The pastoralists did not ask for the change, and even the President of the Pastoralist’s Association admits that the federal arbitration system has worked reasonably well. Hearing honorable members opposite, especially the Country party section, one might think that the man on the land was favorable to the Government’s proposals. But surely his interests and those of the workers engaged in secondary industries are closely interrelated. The man on the land recognizes that a high standard of living among the workers in secondary industries means a greater spending power in the community, making it easier for him to sell his wheat, his potatoes, or. his onions.

Let us ask ourselves who wants this change. I have shown that the pastoralist does not desire it. It cannot be that men engaged in business have asked for it, for the higher the standard of living among the consumers, the greater their turnover, and consequently the greater, their profits. No sensible business man wants this change. . The right honorable member for North- Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that 100 per cent, of the workers were opposed to. this bill. I go further, and say that an’ overwhelming majority of the business people and primary producers are opposed to it. Numbers of organizations have passed resolutions condemning the Government’s proposals. The Australian Natives Association, which is representative of a large section of the community, recently passed the following resolution: -

That the Australian Natives’ Association protests against the proposed repeal by the Federal Government of some of the Commonwealth legislation with respect to conciliation and arbitration, being of opinion that in the best interests of the people of Australia fuller rather than restricted Commonwealth powers should be obtained.

The President of the Association, speaking to the resolution, said -

Although the Federal Government might feel that the position, in consequence of certain happenings, was not an ideal one, nevertheless there was a clear mandate from the people that the Commonwealth should, by its legislation for arbitration and conciliation, fully exercise the powers given to it under the Australian constitution. The association viewed with grave apprehension the proposal to surrender to the States the exercise of industrial control and legislation, and it was considered that the Commonwealth Government should place the whole position frankly before the people of the Commonwealth with a view to obtaining the necessary powers to enable it to control industry.

That resolution is typical of the opinion of the great bulk of people outside this chamber. It is not alone the opinion of the workers, for among manufacturers there is only a small minority in favour of the bill; and that ‘ minority is composed of men who are always opposed to anything which might lead to ari increase in wages. The competition among our manufacturers is largely interstate. Many of them have not forgotten the days when border duties’ were in operation; they do not want to get back to the conditions which existed then. Honorable members can visualize the chaos that would be caused in industry if manufac:turers in Sydney, working under 44 hours a week and paying high wages, had to compete with manufacturers in Melbourne if the working hours were longer and the wages lower. It was because of the chaos that existed in industry in the early days of federation that pressure was put upon parliamentarians to bring about a system which’ would ensure uniformity: Now the Government would put back the hands of the clock, and revert to the conditions which existed in pre-federation days. The dislocation of industry which would result from the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court would not be confined to manufacturers in the capital cities, some hundreds of miles apart. Let us consider the effect of these proposals in two border towns. Let us imagine that in the woollen industry at Albury certain rates of wages and conditions of labour apply, and that across the border, say, at Wangaratta, another woollen mill is operating under an entirely different set of conditions; Can the result be other than chaotic? The manufacturers of this country do not wish such conditions thrust upon them.

If the adoption of the Government’s proposals will so seriously affect interstate trade, with how much greater force can it be said that overseas trade will be affected. Should my statement that the Government is acting under instructions from the outside bodies to which. I have referred be challenged, I ask from what quarter have those instructions come? The Prime Minister did not say that, in submitting these proposals, the Government was acting in the interests of only one section of the community; he said that the bill was introduced in order to prevent overlapping. Last year, the Government introduced an amendment to the Arbitration Act to avoid overlapping, and its introduction was based upon the. decision of the court in the Clyde Engineering Company’s case. The decision of the judge in that case made it clear that where Federal and State awards clash, the federal award prevails. In that decision there is a complete answer to those who complain of the overlapping of awards. Last night when the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) was speaking, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) interjected that now there were seven clashing tribunals - six in the States and one in the Commonwealth. That was an entirely erroneous statement. In all interstate disputes, there is only one tribunal, for, as I have said, when State and Commonwealth tribunals clash, the latter prevails. There is now only one deciding authority; but this bill will, set up six authorities.

The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott) said that the workers had not obeyed federal awards. He would have us believe that they would be entirely obedient to the State awards. What authority has he for that assumption? Assuming that the Government is sincere in respect of State tribunals - although there is no’ certainty that State tribunals will bo set up - what assurance has it that unionists throughout Australia will be more willing to obey the awards of State tribunals than those of a federal tribunal ? Is there any reason why they should obey a State tribunal and disobey a federal tribunal? That is a line of reasoning that only honorable members opposite are capable of taking. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) quoted a number of statements, which he attributed to members of trade unions, in an endeavour to prove that the Labour party was opposed to Federal Arbitration. As a matter of fact only parts of the various statements were read. If the honorable members who quoted similar opinions had been honest, they would have admitted that it was the Arbitration Court and not the principle of arbitration which was generally under discussion. None of us suggests that the Arbitration Court is perfect; but we hope to improve it. The persons whose remarks have been quoted by the Attorney-General, and other honorable members opposite, complained principally” of the making of partisan appointments to the Arbitration Court Bench, the loss of time in securing awards and the penal provisions of the act. We all remember that a little while ago this Government did an unprecedented thing in appointing the president of the National Federation to the Arbitration Court Bench. Quite properly that appointment raised a storm of objections.

It was amusing to listen to the AttorneyGeneral quoting from the Communistic Pan-Pacific Worker, with the object of proving that the the Labour party was opposed to the principle of arbitration. He seemed to forget that he himself had now adopted the view which he ascribed to the communists. I have not yet been able to discover the reason why the Attorney-General quoted so extensively from the Pan-Pacific Worker, though, as I have suggested, he might have read the newspaper through and allowed that to represent his own present changed view upon arbitration.

A good deal has been said about the mandate given to the Government by the people at the last election. Not a word in the Prime Minister’s policy speech, nor in any of the speeches which he delivered during the election, suggested that anything of the kind was contemplated. The right honorable gentleman travelled from one end of my electorate to the other, and I read the reports of many speeches which he delivered. In not one of them was there a suggestion that any action of this sort would be taken. The slogan of the Government was, “ We shall maintain law and order,” and on every platform Government candidates promised that if the Government were returned to power it would tighten up our arbitration court machinery. But it apparently intends to tear the act into little pieces, and throw them to the four winds of heaven.

The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), made some enlightening remarks last night about certain telegrams which the Prime Minister despatched to his followers, after he made his declaration to the Premiers Conference that the Government would abandon the field of Commonwealth Arbitration. That these telegrams were despatched in the circumstances stated has not been denied; and that honorable members opposite, with two or three exceptions, accepted the decision of the Prime Minister on this subject, shows that they have not the vestige of a mind of their own. The Prime Minister did not ask the members of his party whether they were willing for him to take this action. He simply told them that he had taken it. He acted and then condescended to consult them. Honorable members opposite are fond of saying that members of the Labour party are caucus bound; but we have never had a leader who has treated his followers in that fashion. The Prime Minister evidently knows the kind of followers he has. All he has to do is to say, “ I have done so and so. Come here and bow down. Do exactly as I want you to do.” The followers of the Government, with a few exceptions, are mere marionettes.

This step is the most retrograde and anti-federal that any Commonwealth Government has ever taken. Mention has been made, during this debate, of the leaders of other days, such as Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. Deakin. The action of this Government in connexion with industrial arbitration is enough to make these men turn in their graves. Although they did not subscribe to the policy of the Labour party when they were members of this Parliament, they at least were sound Australians. Compared with the authors of this’ proposition they appear as a Triton among the minnows. As has been well said during this discussion, if this retrogressive step is taken it will reduce the National Parliament to the level ofa legislative council. Such language is not extreme. When the Prime Minister threatened his supporters with an early election if they did not agree to the passage of this bill he adopted a cowardly course; but it was not resented by his servile followers. However, the right honorable member will not force an election over this issue. I believe that if the majority of honorable members opposite were allowed to express their own opinions on this measure they would vote against it; but the bill has been forced upon them. It is some satisfaction to us to know that the great majority of the people of, Australia are sound on the principle of federation. If the Government dared to make this an issue at an election, it would be swept from office. The people would express in no uncertain way their opinion of a government which shirked its responsibilities in this fashion.

Treasurer · Cowper · CP

– The most important issue that can be discussed in the National Parliament of this or any other country is the means by which continuity of employment and good wages may be maintained.From the beginning of history, mankind has been seeking to fashion some social organization which will ensure continuity of employment and satisfactory working conditions. It has never been content with past achievements, but has continually sought after improvements. With the object of achieving the desired end, different forms of government have been set up from time to time. These have not been an end in themselves, but merely a means to an end. In Australia we have formed a Commonwealth Government under a federal constitution for this end. A federal arbitration court had been made possible only by a short clause inserted at the tail end of the Constitution as a kind of afterthought. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that if the bill abolishing that court were agreed to the. National Parliament would be reduced to something less than a shire council, and the whole reason for federation would be destroyed. The right honorable member seemed to have forgotten that the Commonwealth Constitution was fashioned after twenty years of earnest thought by the best brains of the nation. The subject of industrial arbitration was not in the minds of these men when they drafted its original provisions or conceived the federal idea. How the removal of this small part of the federal function, which originally was not embodied in the Constitution, does away with the main reason for federation, passes comprehension. Surely the right honorable member was guilty of extravagant language. Arbitration systems are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end.

As one means of securing continuity of employment and good wages, Australia set up her Commonwealth Arbitration Court. This also was simply a means to an end. If we find that the ends which we are seeking, namely, continuity of employment and good wages, cannot be secured by this means, we are in duty bound to seek some other means of attaining them. The consideration of whether this is or is not the best means of achieving our objective should be approached in the most detached and impartial manner possible, for the question is economic rather than political. The subject should certainly be considered apart from any considerations of party prejudice and passion. But the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) reduced the discussion to the plane of party prejudice and passion. He made certain vile insinuations as to the motives of the

Government which had led to the introduction of the bill - insinuations for which there was not the slightest justification. He talked about wage slaves and potential sweaters in a way that would have disgraced a Domain meeting. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) also attempted to create an atmosphere of venom and spite, and showed personal malice against the Prime Minister which was totally unwarranted. He suggested that because the Prime Minister made what he termed a mistake in regard to a certain prosecution that was launched, he was willing to reduce the whole industrial life of Australia to a state of chaos to cover his tracks. Such a statement will not be believed by a single responsible citizen of Australia, much less by any honorable member of this chamber. It will be laughed to scorn, as it deserves to be. We are asked to consider the regulation of industry - a subject that touches the brain and heart of industry - in an atmosphere that has been befouled in this way. How could a major surgical operation be conducted under such conditions as . that ? The surgeon might easily find himself operating on the wrong part of the patient’s body, or even on the wrong patient. The Opposition is endeavouring to cloud the issue, by making honorable members imagine that they are called upon to give a decision on a matter that is not really before them. That is the attitude of the so-called leaders of labour, who, in this particular instance, and during the last five or six years, at the very least, have been leading industry in Australia to destruction, and have brought forward no constructive proposals that will help its progress. These actions demonstrate the undoubted proof of Gomper’s dictum that industrial problems are 99 per cent, economic, and only 1 per cent, political, and that they ought to be entirely divorced from politics. It was interesting to read in the cable news from the Old World yesterday a statement by Mr. Ben Tillett, a noted Labour man for many years, and a great agitator, who now considers that the time has come to. organize industries economically in order to bring into being a constructive leadership that will direct the people into paths of greater prosperity, enable them to look at periods of temporary depression with equanimity, and increase the effective value of wages. Everybody will agree that if we wish for progress there ‘ must be some constructive leadership of this nature to bring harmony instead of to increase discord, to attract new capital to industry rather than to drive it away, and to eliminate overlapping in the control of industry. Everybody must agree that such a system would increase production and the effective wages of the people. The Government’s present action, like its past policy, aims at a constructive leadership of that kind. It recognizes obligations of industry, and desires full use to be made of its opportunities in this country.

The Government is trying to emphasize the points that the different parties to industry have in common, and not the points in which their interests are opposed. Its action, as I shall show later, will tend towards uniformity of basic wage awards throughout Australia ; it will remove the expense now borne both by unions and employers in policing awards; it will stabilize industrial conditions ; it will encourage the advent of new capital, and it will completely divorce the Federal Parliament from the continual contemplation of problems that prevent it from giving due attention to the developmental, social, national and international matters’ that claim its consideration. Its action will also result in greater continuity of employment, increased production, and more effective wages. The first step is to transfer control of industrial regulations from the federal sphere, where it is necessarily incomplete, owing to constitutional limitations, to the State sphere, where it is complete.

The Opposition is trying to misrepresent the true issue before the Parliament. The real issue is between single State control and a dual State and Federal control, the Federal control being handicapped by the constitutional limitations that have been fully described by the Attorney-General. To consider the issue in its true light, it seems essential that what is not the issue should be clearly stated, so that we may see exactly what we now have to decide. The issue before us is. not-‘ between arbitration and no arbitration, lt is not between the regulation of industry and no regulation of industry, because every State has its system of industrial regulation. Four of the States have arbitration systems that are almost identical in form with that of the Commonwealth. Two other States have systems which the people of those States regard with greater pride, possibly, than that with which the other States look upon their particular systems. The statements made by the so-called leaders of Labour that the actions of. the Government will deprive the workers of all protection arc an insult to the intelligence of the workers of Australia, more than one-half of whom are working under awards of State tribunals, and not under federal awards. There are now between 500,000> and 600,000 men working under State arbitration awards. Altogether, there are 420,000 men and women who belong to unions that have federal awards. The Statistician is sure that 110,000 of these are working under federal awards and the remainder of them are probably under State awards; but, even supposing the whole of them were working under federal awards, the proportion would be about 6 to 4 under State as against federal awards. Yet, honorable members opposite try to gull the people that the proposal of this Government is an attempt to throw the workers to the wolves - to potential sweaters. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) demeaned himself this afternoon by attempting to “ put across “ that suggestion. These honorable members carefully avoid reference to the fact that the Parliaments which established the State instrumentalities are elected on a franchise similar to that on which the Commonwealth Parliament is returned. Those Parliaments are elected by the same people, at any rate so far as the lower houses, that have the making and unmaking of governments, are concerned. It is true that, in certain of the States, the franchise for the Upper Houses is different from that on which this Parliament is elected. But for the popular Houses, where the fate of ministries is decided, the voters are precisely the same as those who return the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Yet the honorable members to whom I refer talk as though the electors of the State Parliaments were aliens, with a base standard of conduct, and people who, if they had complete control of industrial arbitration, would give the workers something different from the treatment received from the Federal Parliament. Could there be a greater travesty of the truth? Not one person in Australia outside this Parliament will believe that there is the slightest truth in that contention.

My next point is that the issue before the Parliament is not an attack on wages. It has been said that this bill constitutes an attempt to reduce wages. That is also an insult to the intelligence of the workers, because, as I have said, there are more men satisfactorily employed under State awards than under federal awards. Even in those cases where they have the opportunity of - obtaining awards from either the Federal or a State tribunal, we find that they frequently prefer the latter. There are 141 federal awards in operation in Australia,, and only 26 of them are availed of in Queensland. Why is that ? If federal awards were more- favorable, is it imagined that there would be only 78 of them in operation in South Australia, 90 ‘ in New South Wales, 117 in Victoria, and 61 in Tasmania? In New South Wales, alone, there are 444 State awards, or five times as many as the federal awards operating in that State. The men go to the State tribunals voluntarily; they would have no difficulty in creating a fictitious interstate dispute if they desired to go before the federal court. We know what was done by the tramway employees in Sydney in that direction, even though no other employees were in a . similar position. Yet these hundreds of thousands of men do not approach the federal court because they consider that that was not worth while. Yet we are told that the reason for the measure is that the Government desires to make an attack on wages. There is no excuse for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) when he makes that suggestion, because he has been a State Premier, and he probably knows more than most people about industrial conditions in this country. He knows that for years at a time the basic wage fixed by certain State tribunals, has been 5s. or 10s. per week greater than the federal basic wage. In New South Wales in 1919-20, when the federal basic wage was £3 7s., the State award was £3 17s. When we examine the position of the outside organizations of industrialists, we find that their great fear is that any attack on wages will come from the Federal Court, and not from the State Courts. The New South Wales Labour Council, and the Australian Labour party, in 1928, when the Arbitration Bill was being discussed in this Parliament, issued a joint manifesto, in the following terms : -

There can be no question that the bill is deliberately drafted to skittle the awards obtained by the workers in State Courts, established by Labour Governments.

Yet members opposite, have the impudence to tell the Government that it is trying to reduce wages by sending the workers to the State Courts ! Statements such as that I have just read show that the so-called leaders of Labour have no warrant from the unions for their statements. In the last six or seven months, we have had the timber workers trying to escape from the jurisdiction of the Federal Court, and obtain a State award. A similar position has arisen in the shearing industry in Queensland. In New South Wales, the State award for shearers is 4s. higher than the federal award. How can it. then be said that the Government is proposing to transfer industrial control from the Federal to the State sphere, in-order to bring about’ a reduction in wages? A reduction in wages of itself would not increase the prosperity of the country. Prosperity can be Brought about only by increasing the production of the country, and that is the object of the measure by making it possible to increase the volume of production without increasing costs.

Passing to my next point, the issue is not State arbitration or Federal arbitration. That was the issue in 1926, when the Government brought down a measure to obtain from the people complete control of industry by the National Parliament. That measure was agreed to- almost unanimously by the Parliament, and the Government appealed to the people for an amendment of the Constitution. Everybody knows why that referendum was defeated; it was because -men like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) formed the industrialist section and became the campaign directors for the “Noes.” Although all members of this House were satisfied that the Government had adopted the right course in seeking full federal powers, only two or three honorable members opposite had the courage to say on the platform, what they had said in Parliament. The others were forced to be silent, and they broke the heart of their then leader, who is now living in retirement. It has been suggested that it is quite easy to get the people to agree to proposals submitted to them by means of a referendum. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said it was only necessary to keep on submitting a proposal to the people in that way, because finally they would become so sick of it that they would agree to it. He tried to show that the people were being gradually educated to the opinion that the Commonwealth should have complete control in the sphere of arbitration. But what do the figures indicate? At the second last referendum, it was defeated by one per cent., and at the last referendum it was defeated by 13 per cent., so the people are apparently being educated backwards. Even when there was almost unanimity among the various political parties . in Australia, we found that it would be almost a super-human task to carry a referendum in favour of granting increased powers to the Commonwealth. Take the agreement between the States and the Commonwealth for the provision of a sinking fund and the consolidation of the State debts. Everybody in Australia believed that that was an excellent proposal ; yet what took place ? One would expect no objection to be raised by the people; but practically 700,000 electors voted against it, although all parties in Parliament and the country supported it. When the proposal was submitted to the State Premiers that State industrial powers should be handed over to the Commonwealth, the Labour Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) immediately said that .he would not support a proposal to give complete industrial powers to the Federal Parliament. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) was Leader of the Government in Queensland, he subsidized, from Government funds, an attempt to prevent State instrumentalities in Queensland from being brought under the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court. I take it that that is still the position which he occupies.

Mr Theodore:

– That is a misrepresentation.


– It is an absolute fact. I can prove it by giving the actual date and the comments of the AuditorGeneral. The expenditure amounted to £585 15s. 9d. in 1921- “when he combined with the Premiers to send Mr. Owen Dixon to the Privy Council.

Honorable members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– Order! If honorable members persist in interjecting I shall have to name them. It is utterly impossible for the Treasurer to develop his argument in such circumstances, and also impossible for me to hear him.


– I was pointing out that there are still the same elements opposed to the transfer of further powers to the Common-wealth Parliament. There is the big State industrial voting factor to be considered. Mr, Lang would not agree to transfer further powers to the Commonwealth; he would take up a position identical with that taken by Mr. Collier, the Premier of Western Australia. The only Premier who at the last conference said that he would assist to have a federal referendum carried was Mr. Moore, the Premier of Queensland. Every other Premier said he was opposed to the suggestion, and would fight it tooth and nail. Under those conditions there would not be the slightest hope of a referendum being carried at the present time; and there is no sense in continuing indefinitely the existing duplicated system in the present condition of industry. What is necessary is a stimulant, and a tonic, not something which will depress the whole nation. We do not want a continuation of duplication - with the ill effects of which I shall deal later - but something that will clear the air.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the Treasurer believe that additional powers should be given to the Commonwealth?


– I hold quite definite opinions on that matter, and expressed them three years ago. During the honorable member’s absence from the chamber I pointed out that there should be at least one parliamentary system in Australia, which would be absolutely free’ from the necessity to discuss industrial matters, and would be able to devote itself entirely to problems connected with development and the amelioration of our social conditions. The issue before the House is not the false one that has been introduced: the reduction of wages or the abolition of the arbitration system. We have to decide whether we shall have a dual system, Federal and State, with consequent overlapping and conflict because of constitutional limitations, or a single system, under State control, that could be brought into being immediately. The issue goes very much deeper” than the mere abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, or the transfer of power from Federal to State hands. What is really raised in this debate, and what since 1926 it was inevitable would be raised, is the quality of leadership in industry in Australia, and whether it is to be constructive or destructive. There is one set of labour leaders who wish to have the existing duplication maintained. They include the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Judging by his attitude in regard to State instrumentalities, he can take up no other stand; nor has he attempted to do so. In these remarks I am not referring to those honorable members on this side who are opposing the bill. They are not leaders of labour. The men to whom I refer are endeavouring to make the industrial movement a classconscious, tyrannical movement. Their object is to terrorize the people. They are striving to attain their objective by arousing fear in the minds of the populace. But the other set of leaders, in which are numbered the members of the Government, wish to have unity of control and simplicity of . method. They desire to see the community impressed by the wisdom of the unions’ efforts towards solving our national problems. Tho great bulk of the people are behind us in this matter. One set of leaders emphasize the wrongs and grievances of the workers, and endeavour to cause envy and hatred. The others emphasize the opportunities, the obligations of the workers - what they owe to themselves, society and the world, and are striving to make them realize the advantages that would accrue from a united national effort to increase production. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Theodore) has stated that the loss of work caused by unemployment is twenty times as great as that caused by strikes and industrial disputes. 1 point out that unemployment is largely caused by the tactics which are adopted by these labour leaders, and its attitude towards production. At the present time it will bo found that the amount at fixed deposit in the banks is £33,000,000 greater than it was two years ago. Why is that so? It is because of the uncertainty of investment, and the difficult labour conditions that exist. Those . who have money to invest cannot be sure, with the leadership of labour such as that which we have at the present time, that the investment of their capital will return them a profit. They ai’c nervous, and prefer gilt-edged investments such as government stocks and fixed deposits. This state of affairs, unfortunately, is not peculiar to Australia, but is to be found wherever unionism attempts to gain political power. In such cases there is a tendency to magnify grievances rather than to bring about harmony. Professor Hearnshaw, a noted writer on sociology, in a book published two or three months ago, said of the Labour leaders in England -

Labour leaders continue to advocate restriction of output, ca’canny, shortening of hours without increased efficiency, and so on. They incessantly organize strikes; they hamper, harass, and annoy employers to the. utmost extent of their very considerable power. In no single particular of which I am aware do they lift a finger to assist production, to foster efficiency, to encourage improvement in processes, to stimulate invention, to enlarge and cheapen output. They are mere obstructors and disturbers. And then they say, “ The capitalist system has broken down.” They are like children continually poking sticks into the works of a clock, and then complaining that the clock .won’t go:”

Nothing could better describe what has been happening in Australia during the last four or five years. There have been continued efforts to promote strife, wrangling, and discord in the community. Everybody must agree that duplication is one of the most potent causes of conflict and discord. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was Prime Minister in 1922. The Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of Parliament in that year contained the following passage: -

Action will be taken to put an end to the clashing jurisdictions, conflicting and overlapping awards, uncertainty, delay, expense, loss, and other unsatisfactory features of the present machinery for dealing with industrial disputes.

The late Mr. Justice Higgins, whom many honorable members opposite have eulogized during this debate, is credited with the following statement: -

It is a grievous wrong to those who have the responsibility of carrying on business undertakings that they should have to obey at the same time, on the same subject, two distinct authorities - State and Federal. If there is to be regulation, and there must be, it should come from one authority.

In 1924, the following statement was made by the late Mr. Justice McCawley, president of the Queensland Court of Industrial Arbitration -

Employers justly object to a system, which permits employees to chop and change between Federal and State Courts.

I could quote similar extracts from the pronouncements of every public man, who has spoken on this matter in Australia, no matter where he stood in politics. It is universally agreed that duplication is the great evil in industrial arbitration in Australia. Having failed to secure, by means of the referendum, complete federal control, the Government propose to vacate the field and leave it wholly to the States, which are in a position to exercise complete control. That is the only logical course to adopt. It is an experiment^ but it is worth a trial. I am satisfied that the result will be peace and contentment in Australia. But despite the fact, that everybody agrees that duplication is a bad thing, it is clear from the actions of the leaders of labour - which, after all, speak louder than words- that they favour duplication. In 1926 these industrial leaders sternly resisted the attempt that was then made to secure complete federal control by means of a referendum. Every labour organ preaches the doctrine of class conflict. Their propaganda is merely destructive. All the while they emphasize grievances, and preach class consciousness and contempt for the law. They seek to gain their ends by a display of tyranny, and by instilling terror into the hearts of the people. Does any person in his heart believe that by such means the workers of Australia will ever be led to the promised land, or that the millenium will be hastened? In Russia there is a Soviet republic, organized and run by the workers. It has issued many decrees, one of the early examples of which deals with strikes in essential services. If any man who is employed in waterworks, electric light works, or other essential service, should go on strike, the punishment meted out to him is death. That they have not receded from that position is proved by the fact that that law still stands. On the 6th March, 1929, the Soviet Government promulgated a decree to deal with action such as that which has been taken in Australia by those who are inciting the timber workers to defy the law. That decree lays upon unions the onus of disciplining their members and of preventing acts of violence such as those for which the basher gangs in Australia have been responsible. The Soviet Government realizes that production must be increased and its cost reduced, because that is the only way in which the effective value of wages can be maintained. Yet here in a capitalistic state we’ are asked to tolerate a system for which the leaders of a workers’ republic will not stand! Honorable members of the Opposition have not the courage to denounce the . destructive propaganda that is being carried on in Australia.

It is worth while examining at some length the timber workers’ award. The history of that award makes the most depressing story that industry has yet faced in Australia, and is a poor advertisement of Australia in other countries. For many years the timber industry has been in a depressed condition. Every year as a result of modern inven- tion more substitutes for timber have been placed on the market. The increased size of buildings and the necessity to give protection against loss by fire led to steel and concrete being more largely used in the construction of houses and buildings generally. The use of timber became less as the years went on, and it was necessary to go further into the bush to obtain supplies, which com sequently were more costly. The industry came under the notice of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That court decided that it was declining, and that efforts should be made to revive it. After an inquiry lasting many months an award was made which, it was hoped, would improve the condition of the industry. Although the weekly number of hours was increased, the wages also were raised.

Mr Lacey:

– That is not a fact.


– It is an absolute fact. In New South Wales the increase amounted to 5s. a week. The timber workers were badly advised by their leaders to strike against the award. The employees in bush mills had been working 48 hours a week for eight or nine years When the pampered darlings of the trades hall in the city were asked to work the same number of hours as those poor fellows in the bush, they said - “ Go on strike and we will stand behind you.” Later, when they were told that they would have to comply with the law, Jock Garden replied, “ Still they tell you to stand up to the law. If that is the law I say to hell with it”. Senator Rae, a member of the Labour party who was returned at the last election as a member of the Senate as a Labour candidate said of the federal arbitration law, “It was a law made to be broken. Workers should consider it a duty to break it.” That is the way in which members of the Labour party consider this question. Instead of denouncing the men who are flagrantly breaking the awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, they merely refer to the withdrawal of the prosecution against John Brown, which was done by the Prime Minister in a generous spirited effort to settle the coal difficulty and without dissent by miners representatives who were urging a conference. Their persecution and slandering of him since, for this action on his part, has earned the contempt of every one conversant with the facts. During the six and a half years which the Government has been in office, the members of the Labour party have openly assisted the seamen, the waterside workers and the timber workers to defy the awards of the Arbitration Court. When a genuine trade unionist is anxious to work under the court’s award he is regarded as a most contemptible person, and is persecuted in every possible way. These people have the utmost contempt for those who wish to observe the awards of the court. Although the leaders of labour have continually stated that the men engaged in the timber industry are not receiving sufficient remuneration for the work they do, they actually reduce the earnings of other unionists by forcing them to pay a weekly levy to assist the timber workers who are out on strike against an award of the Arbitration Court, which they say they wish to maintain. They are instrumental in reducing the wages of certain workers in order to fight all award of a court from which they are receiving considerable benefits. Even the police who are performing their duty are denounced and their numbers are taken so that they can be persecuted later, if Labour gets back to power. Instead of the improvement of the conditions in industry their main objective appears to be to disrupt society. What are the facts? These men are trying to destroy, not merely the timber workers’ award, but the whole fabric of our arbitration system. Mr. Jock Garden, the secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in Sydney, said -_

The class significance of the Arbitration Court is gradually being realized by the workers and they are gradually throwing off the stultifying and doping effects of the court.

Senator Rae, who was a selected Labour candidate at the last general election and was returned on the votes of those whom honorable members opposite represent, said in an article entitled, “ The Curse of Compulsory Arbitration “ - that is the way in which this arbitration system is spoken of by these men-


– That is a lie.


– It is the absolute truth. I ask that that statement be withdrawn.

Mr Anstey:

– What is the remark to which exception has been taken?

Mr Latham:

– Before the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) heard the statement he said it was a lie.


– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.


– I rise to order. At the time I made the remark to which you have taken exception, sir, your attention was momentarily diverted from the debate. The Treasurer was referring to a statement made by a member of another place, which he said was supported by honorable members on this side of the chamber.


– If the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) said that the statement of the Treasurer was a lie, I ask him to withdraw the remark. I did not hear what he said.


– In deference to the Chair I withdraw, but the right honorable the Treasurer took advantage of the fact that you were otherwise engaged to use the words to which I objected.

Mr Anstey:

– I rise to order. I object to the slanderous statement of the right honorable the Treasurer that such statements have been made by honorable members on this side. It is a slander and a lie.

Mr Hill:

– Put him out.

Mr Anstey:

– Try it on.


– Order ! The honorable member has not raised a point of order.

Mr Anstey:

– I object to the slander.


– Order!

Mr Anstey:

– I was replying to an interjection by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill).


– If the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) will not obey the Chair, I shall have to name him.

Mr Martens:

– I rise to order. I ask that the Treasurer be called upon to withdraw his slanderous statement, that honorable members on this side of the chamber have endorsed a certain statement made by a member of another place.


– I have not heard the Treasurer say anything which he should be called upon to withdraw. If any honorable member has been misrepresented, he will have an opportunity later on to make a personal explanation.


– If I said anything offensive to honorable members opposite I withdraw it. “When exception was taken to my remarks by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) I was about to read the following statement made by Senator Rae : -

The Curse of Compulsory Arbitration.

Perhaps the most disastrous effect of the arbitration system is that it has a direct tendency to keep the worker standing still while the rest of the universe is constantly changing. When any legal system condemns the huge majority to a condition of stagnation . . . what must be the consequence? Clearly the choice lies between rebellion and slavery. What organized labour has gained from arbitration in numerical strength it more than lost in average quality of unionists it created. It is impossible to estimate the moral harm which has been done to the Australian working classes by this hasty and ill-considered acceptance of arbitration as a solution of Labour’s problems.

Mr Lazzarini:

– Does the Treasurer agree with that?


– We, on this side of the chamber, stand for arbitration, whereas honorable members opposite, who assert that they favour compulsory arbitration, subscribe to such utterances by men whom they and their supporters return to Parliament.

Mr Fenton:

– I rise to a point of order. The Treasurer has quoted a statement by a member of another place with which he says honorable members on this side of the chamber agree. I object to that assertion. It is a slander upon me, personally, and I ask the Treasurer to withdraw it.


– If the statement is offensive to the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) I withdraw it. Here is one type of leadership pursuing a material objective with the savage methods of the beast, stirring up the primitive fighting passions of the people into a frenzy of destruction, the result of which can only be to reduce wages and lessen employment. The object seems to be to depress labour, discourage enterprise and forethought, prevent the accumulation of capital, encourage recklessness and extravagance, and ultimately to ruin industry. We require constructive leadership which will increase wages and bring about continuous employment. Honorable members opposite seem to forget that plentiful and cheap capital is the life blood of industry, and the vitalizing stream that brings back unemployed labour into full activity. A wise labour policy should be devoted to the fostering of thrift and of investment, strengthening of the sense of security and the accumulation of capital. If capital is plentiful and cheap, labour will be dear. On the other hand if labour is plentiful and capital scarce, labour will be cheap. Every trade unionist should be advised to save and to use his funds for the purpose of purchasing shares in the business in which he is engaged, instead of using them for the destruction of the business and ruin of the country. Mr. Warren Stone, president of the Railway Men’s Brotherhood of the United States of America, in the World’s Work in 1924, said that organized labour in America had gone through three stages of evolution. The first was the period in which class consciousness was aroused, when itwas necessary to evolve a sense of solidarity before there could be any effort towards better wages and working conditions. The second was the struggle for collective bargaining, involving the use of force, sometimes economic and sometimes physical, on both sides. The third lay in constructive development and co-operation rather than war. The most striking evidence of this was in labour banks and co-operative profit-sharing by employees in the United States of America to-day. In that country they are saving for the control of industry, and not for fighting purposes. In the Philadelphia Transport Company, for instance, in the course of a few years the men have increased their wages considerably, in addition to their dividends.

Mr Stewart:

– What, has this to do with the bill?


– It touches the leadership of industry in Australia. From January, 1922, to February, 1924, the workers in this company alone received 120,000 shares, worth £800,000, or onefifth of the entire stock. By February, 1925, 11,000 employees owned £2,000,000 odd of common stock, or over one-half of the total. As a result of this financial interest in and control of their own company the men have a system of increasing their own wages according to the length of time they have been on the job. For instance, surface motor men and conductors increased their earnings after three months from 60 cents per hour to 63 cents, and after one year to 65 cents: This is what the employees are doing in the United States of America, and we contend that it is time the unionists of Australia did the same. The coal industry in Australia has been held up for many months, and the amount lost, in wages would have been sufficient to buy a couple of the collieries. ‘ Professor Carver, a noted economist, has pointed out that in ten years the workers could be one of the dominating financial factors of the world, if they invested their savings for this purpose. Such a progressive and constructive leadership is what the Commonwealth Government has been aiming at during the whole period of its existence. It has been said by. Labour members opposite that the industrial legislation introduced by this Government has brought about industrial unrest; but when this measure is introduced for its repeal .we are told industrial disputes have been less under this Government than ever before. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. When they attacked the Arbitration Act they said it caused industrial unrest; when we proceed to repeal it they say that it has lessened strikes and disputes. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that up to 1920 the average time lost per working man was 1.6 days, and from 1924 to 1928 seventenths of a day. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) tried to show that industry in Australia was more peaceful under federal arbitration for the last four years than ever before. The Sydney Worker, issued on the 24th August last, states -

According to figures prepared by the Commonweal th Statistician and other authorities, the average time lost each year, by each worker over the age of twenty during the period from 1013 to 1923, was one day and a half. Between 1923 and 1927 (the last year of completed statistics) the time lost per worker annually decreased to eight-tenths of a day. Between 1913 and 1927 about onethird of the total number of strikes lasted not more than one day.

Last year the Labour Opposition tried to make out that this Government’s arbitration legislation had produced industrial unrest. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot tell us in one breath that under the administration of this Government the number of strikes and disputes has diminished and in the next breath that our tampering with the arbitration system has brought about industrial unrest and chaos. When this Government first came into office and during the past three years, we carried out a constructive policy, and dealt with questions such as the amalgamation of tax collection, the provision of sinking funds, and rural credits under the Commonwealth Bank. We brought into being numerous progressive and constructive works. During that time the personnel, legislation, and procedure of the Federal Arbitration Court remained unaltered. Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, the seamen’s strike took place. It was a strike against an award of the court. The Seamen’s Union deliberately had itself deregistered, and in this House the Labour party challenged the Government to go to the country to a fight to decide the methods by which we should secure industrial peace. Until then the industrial law had not been amended, so it could not have been any tampering with that legislation on the part of the Government which altered the position. Since that dispute took place we have tried to improve the position. In 1926 we tried to secure power to abolish duplication of awards by means of the referendum. I have already dealt with that subject, so there is no need foi me to say more about the lamentable spectacle which honorable members opposite presented at that time. Failing constitutional amendment if we are to eliminate dual control, we must take the action proposed under the bill. Everybody knows’ that duplication of control is oppressive and harmful. Some say that there should be complete federal control. I admit that that has many advantages, but when the Government put the position before the country those advantages, apparently, did not weigh sufficiently in the minds of the people to cause them- to accept the referendum. There are at present more unionists working under

State awards than under Federal awards. The United States of America operate f heir industrial affairs without any federal control. The existence of State Governmental activities, which are everincreasing, and which the honorable member for Dalley says should be entirely under the control of the State Governments, makes it practically impossible to abolish duplication if the Federal Government remains in the field of arbitration. The honorable member for Dalley also stated that more time is lost through unemployment than through strikes. Surely that emphasizes the necessity to have one parliament dealing exclusively with national problems and the proper development of this country and not overwhelmed by the intrusion of industrial problems. It is clear that whoever handles industrial arbitration should have complete control. The Federal Parliament has not complete power, and cannot get it. The State Governments have complete power and will have sole power when this measure is passed. There is only one argument that might seem to have weight against the Federal Government evacuating the field of arbitration and transferring the control to the States, and that is that there might be less uniformity as regards the basic wage. That seemed to be a valid argument until I examined the figures. I then found that the federal arbitration system had brought into the industrial field, not uniformity, but added confusion and chaos. I found that there is actually less difference between the basic wage rates propounded by the State tribunals in the various States at any given time than there is between the federal basic rates operating in the same localities. For instance, at the middle of 1926 the States, independently, by fixed tribunals and acts of Parliament, had an almost uniform basic wage of about £4 5s., whereas federal rates about that time ranged between £4 2s. 6d and £4 12s. 6d. in different places under a rigid system of index figures. In May of this year the range of federal rates all over Australia was from £4 2s. to £4 13s, whereas State rates were within 3s. of each other. That is to say economic pressure and competition brought the rates closer together than the Federal Court did. On the 1st August the federal basic wage was, in Sydney, £4 14s. 6d., Brisbane £4 Os. 6d., Adelaide £4 8s. 6d., Perth, £4 6s. 6d., and Hobart £4 5s. 6d., while the State basic wage rates were - New South Wales, £4 5s., plus endowment, South Australia, £4 5s. 6d., Queensland, £4 5s., and in Western Australia £4 7s.

Therefore, there can be no real claim on the part of the Opposition for increased uniformity of rates as the result of federal arbitration.

Another argument used by the Opposition was that federal control had always improved the condition of the workers, but that is disproved by the fact that in Queensland the Federal Shearing Award is not being observed; the shearers prefer to work under the State award. In New South Wales .the shearing rate is 4s. more than that prescribed under the Commonwealth award. In addition, the hours prescribed by the Parliament of that State are 44 per week, whereas in federal industries the hours are 48. The Labour party has repeatedly admitted the futility of the Federal Court, and it has attacked in turn every judge of that court. At present honorable members opposite have no wholehearted support for the court as constituted. They say that it should be a business-like council, something on the lines of the Industrial Peace Council controlling the coal industry, yet the fact remains that, despite the operation of that council, there has been more industrial unrest in the coal industry than in any other industry in Australia. That i? not a very good advertisement for the alternative suggested by the Opposition. The issue resolves itself into single or dual control. Dual control adds a disturbing factor, and if there is one thing we want to do more than another it is to keep industry free from industrial turmoil and harm. The existing overlapping of awards gives the Communists, an opportunity to cause paralysis to the community, and to manufacture the poison with which they propose to kill the existing social system. A single authority would force the extremists into the open, and in that way their activities could he considerably curtailed. Provision has been made for continuing satisfactory agreements after the repeal of the federal law. Mr. Bavin, the Premier of New South “Wales, is already dealing with this subject, and Mr. Moore, the Premier of Queensland, has convened a meeting of Premiers to discuss it. The present State legislation tends to assist collective bargaining, so there would be no danger in transferring to the States the full power of arbitration. The State Parliament is under the control of the same electors as the Commonwealth, and is more responsive to them. The external trade and commerce in the federal sphere is only a fraction of the whole, while that of the States is much larger, and is under their sole control in all its aspects.

The last argument used by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) and also the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was that the Arbitration Court, because of some 25 years of operation, should remain untouched. Labour howls for the abolition of the capitalist system which has been in every country for 25 centuries, yet shudders because federal arbitration, after 25 years of operation, is to he abolished. Labour has become completely re-actionary. It wants altered all things which seem immovable and unchangeable, knowing that it is perfectly safe in its agitation. I think that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) once said that the Labour party did not want socialism in its time, that that was an objective to be achieved in the dim future. The Government on the other hand has recognized that as conditions change we should be prepared to change our methods. It is prepared to go courageously forward and to stick to its policy when it is convinced it is sound, whether that involves an attack upon vested interests or preconceived ideas. We have always been prepared to do that, regardless of political consequences. The Government has shown courage and vision and its actions have been justified by results. Honorable members opposite have continually fulminated against the schemes of the Government, such as the Main Roads Agreement, the

Financial Agreement, and the extension of the operations of the Commonwealth Bank. Despite their prophecies these things have proved the benefits that were claimed for them. The dismal Jeremiahs opposite cannot see good in any change. They say that everything should be left as originally enacted. The only thing they wish to change is the fundamental structure of society. An unbiased observer must admit the sound? ness of the Government’s action. The Leaders of the Labour party have abdicated their position of industrial leadership in Australia. They have failed in their duty to organized Labour throughout Australia. There are proportionately five times as many unionists in Australia as in the United States of America and Canada because of the assistance given to organizations by the arbitration system. The Labour agitators have led the workers rashly and have allowed themselves to become destructive rather than constructive leaders.

Taking, the basic wage of London at an index figure of 100 the figure in Philadelphia is 179, Ottawa 157, Sydney 144, and Melbourne 142. ^ It will be seen by those figures that despite the wonderful opportunities in this country to progress we have been forced to take a standard of wages and living inferior to America. We have unrivalled resources only awaiting exploitation at the hands of men who will give their full energies, heart and soul, to make this country the best in the world. Under our present industrial conditions we cannot compete with other countries in many of our productions, and so we have to take second place to America. We contend that the issue is not simply the passage of this bill, it is whether there shall be a policy of constructive, as against a policy of destructive, leadership; whether there shall be Australian freedom as against tyranny of foreign methods; decent standards as against criminal standards, and progress as opposed to decay.


.- The gentle individual who has just resumed his seat exalts me to the skies. He has lifted this debate to the lofty eminence of the sewer! He referred to these “socalled leaders of labour “. The honorable gentleman is right. He knows them.

I, too, know them. I am one of them. “ These cowards “ ! he declaimed. Again, I am one of them. “ These contemptibles “ ! I am one of them. “ These dirty, miserable skunks “ ! I am one of them. But, dirty, filthy, contemptible, ignorant though we may be, we have nothing to lose by comparison with this honorable gentleman, the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). Is he not the man who for years from the Ministerial corner opposed the right honorable gentleman who is now his leader, until that leader bought him. He sold every principle for a job. And he would reverse their present positions for the same consideration and a similar amount of cash.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir littleton Groom:

– Order! I ask the honorable member , to withdraw that statement.


– Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to withdraw the statement after having had the pleasure of making it.


– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw it unconditionally.


– I withdraw it unconditionally.


– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has suggested that a Minister of the Crown has been bought with cash. I ask that not only should he withdraw that statement, but that he should also apologise to the House for the stigma that he has placed upon honorable members generally, by insinuating that they can be bought.


– I assume that, by his withdrawal, the honorable member for Bourke has expressed regret.


– If the debate is to proceed along personal lines, do not let us forget that the Treasurer assailed the Prime Minister until he was granted consideration that altered his opinion of him, and changed his place in the chamber. Let us not forget that there are other men in this chamber who assailed the Prime Minister until they also received from him favorable consideration that changed their opinions. They assailed the Prime Minister until the Government put something into their hands and converted them. Do not let us forget, too, that when the late

Prime Minister, the right honorable W. M. Hughes, was in London and Paris, a couple of honorable gentlemen who are now sitting on the front Treasury bench, were prepared to lick his spittle to gain the favours that he bestowed upon them. Yet now they have the impudence to attack honorable members on this side, and to designate them as miserable and contemptible ignoramuses. Far better is it to be ignorant than to be cultured, educated, talented, and to sell one’s talents for the first mess of pottage that offers.

I ask any honorable member, irrespective of the party to which he belongs, who listened to the Treasurer to-night, whether he can honestly say that this posing statesman, with his jackdaw-like strutting upon the stage of politics, said one word that tended to raise the tone of the debate.. Is not the poorest, meanest man on this side of the House as well fitted as he to occupy the position which he holds? Certainly none could disgrace it more than he does. Not one word of wisdom did he utter. He merely ransacked the wide world in order to discover some argument against honorable members who sit on this side of the chamber. Metaphorically speaking, he visited China, Russia, England, the United States* of America, and other parts of the vast universe, in an endeavour to pick up phrases uttered by some obscure individual, that he might use them to cast a reflection upon the character, and the public conduct of men who, whatever their shortcomings, are nevertheless the representatives of the majority of the people in their constituencies - men who are Australians, elected by Australians, and representatives of Australians. The Treasurer had the audacity, the impudence, and the unblushing shamelessness to endeavour to make those honorable members responsible in the public view for something said or done by men thousands of miles away. How can any one claim that such tactics add to the dignity or the prestige of this chamber?

The honorable gentleman went further. He referred to the foibles of individual members. Each one of us is responsible to the people who sent us here, for what he says or does. But our personal faults and errors are our own. We are responsible for our own conduct, but not for the errors and follies of somebody else.

Let me examine the position. If I were a young man, at the beginning of my political career instead of at the end of it; if I could see ahead of me a vista of from 25 to 30 years; if ambition was looming before me, and growing larger instead of failing; if the sunlight of a brighter day appeared ahead, instead of the darkness associated with the close of life, I should wish for nothing better than that God would harden the hearts of the Pharisees opposite so that they would rigidly adhere to their resolution to pass this bill. That would be a gratification to me. Even in my own constituency there are thousands of weaklings, the recipients of benefits from unions who, under the arbitration law, inaugurated by the Federal Parliament, were brought within the fold of unionism ; they paid their dues into its coffers, not because of inspiration, or of their faith in unionism, but because of what it guaranteed to them in the way of insurance of better wages and conditions. Thousands of such people, who to-day belong to unions, march behind and fight for nationalist candidates. When this bill becomes law and the existing privileges are swept away they will change their opinions. This measure cannot weaken my position, or that of any Labour member in this country. The abolition of our national arbitration law must inevitably strengthen the position of every man now sitting in opposition in this chamber. It will rally the weaklings, and re-inspire them with enthusiasm for the cause of Labour.


– Then the honorable member had better let us have our way.


– I am illustrating how the public man stands; how he must choose between political expediency and loyalty to his ideals. As the passage of this measure will strengthen the position of every man on this side, so it will correspondingly weaken the position of honorable members opposite. This action of the Government will be the rallying point, and will give impetus to the ultimate triumph of the Labour party in this House. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), asks why, if what I say is true, we do not let the Go- vernment have its way. It is because we do not view the position from the point of view of political expediency. This action of the Government will cast hundreds of thousands of the present generation back to the wilderness, and they will suffer something of the pangs of hunger and travail that their fathers suffered before them. In suffering, they will come to understand the great advantages of unionism, and so will become a rejuvenated, and inspiring force. What they may in the immediate future lose in the field of industry, they will more than regain when they triumph in the field of politics. They will be able, by virtue of their being endued with the power of government, to attain greater privileges than even their predecessors enjoyed.

It is questionable, apart from the possible triumphs of to-morrow, how far honorable members opposite can justify their adherence to the policy of political inconsistency. What is their justification tor supporting legislation which will mean intense suffering and the destruction of many of the weaker industrial organizations in Australia ? To the most militant and forceful industrial organizations the action of the Government means nothing. To those who for the most part follow nomadic and spasmodic occupations, whose life is a constant transition between employment and unemployment, strikes do not mean anything more than a period of ordinary unemployment, such as is frequently imposed on them by the vagaries of the weather, or of their employers. But to the great body of men and women, who have only the shelter of a union to protect them from victimization, who have grown up under the shadow of this law, it will mean, in many cases, the weakening of their organizations. It is for that purpose that the Government initiated the measure, and for that reason that this party cannot ally itself with the Government in the matter.

This country has passed through an era of non-organization of labour, of laissez faire - some say more lazy than fair. In that era everybody was struggling for existence and the most unscrupulous employers were able to depress men into the mire of poverty. It was against those conditions that every decent-minded employer, as well as the workmen, rebelled.

The industrial laws and the power of the working class organizations are not instruments which benefit only the masses ; they also operate on behalf of every decentminded employer in the country who desires that reasonable standards of existence shall be maintained. And so they built up, in this country, a national system of industry, which corresponded with the national organizations of labour. They also built up a national system of arbitration, its faults few, its virtues many. The proof of that is that nine-tenths of these organized working men and women of Australia have lived for many years in peace and contentment - within the shadow of the law.


– That is not true.


– Order !


– Nobody, except the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Green), not even his colleagues, would hold such an opinion. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know that my contention is true. Even the members sitting on the Government bench know that nine-tenths of the organized working men and women registered under the arbitration laws of the country have lived for many years in peace and contentment, and in conformity with the law. No one but the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) would deny that. The fact remains that only a small section of the workers - and that a section which would be rebellious if there was no law - is in favour of the abolition of arbitration. The absurdity of the position is that the Government proposes to sweep from beneath the sheltering wing of this law nine-tenths of the workmen who have lived in peace and harmony under it. The only people to whom the Government proposes to preserve the benefits of arbitration are those whom it cannot control. Speaking the other night, the Attorney-General said that the laws of the Commonwealth had been effective in preserving peace on the waterfront. Having set up effective instrumentalities by which peace has been secured, the Government now proposes to abolish them. We all know that peace on the waterfront and elsewhere has been preserved as peace is preserved between nations. When men or nations are beaten and driven into the earth, there is peace. Men who are beaten are peaceful for a time, but eventually they will gird up their loins and get strength once more into their vitals. Those who have beaten them may say, “ There is peace ; they cannot fight.” But how absurd it is for the Government to say that, because men are beaten down to the earth, not by force of the law, but .by the forces of hunger and destitution, resulting from unemployment, all is well ! That was the condition of affairs 30, 40 or 50 years ago. In 1893 the shipowners took £2 a month from the pay of the seamen. For a time they had not even a crust of bread. But later they rose as from the mire, and pitted blood against . blood, sinew against sinew, muscle against muscle. Men who are crushed to the earth to-day will rise again to-morrow. And the day will come when the men on the waterfront will rise again despite this law.

This bill is not designed to secure peace. It is a pretence and a sham; and it will fail. I propose to make one short quotation from Zola’s book Work. Honorable members will recollect that in his works, such as L’Assommoir and Nana, he dealt with drink, prostitution and other aspects of the social system as he saw them. He dealt with some of the many social problems that confront civilization. Towards the end of his life he commenced the writing of four books based on the characters of the four apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He spoke of Work, Truth, Faith and Justice as the four apostles of a newer society. He pictured a new era in society and a better class of workmen - to use the Prime Minister’s expression, “men of vision and ideals.” What greater ideal could a statesman have than the making of a better class of men and women, with better hearts and brains?

How does the Prime Minister show hia statesmanship? At the first sign of trouble he runs away from the task confronting him. The Treasurer said that the question before us was not one of politics, but of economics. It is more than a question of economics, for it has to do with living humanity, their faith and their beliefs. In this world we have to cope with many matters which to-day are the problem of a Nationalist Government, and to-morrow the problem of a Labour government. It is not the habit of the Labour party to run away from the task confronting it; rather does it lend its heart, its brain, its muscle, its sinew to the task. It is not a case of giving only of our gold ; we must be willing, as has been written, to offer our blood. No true statesman will abandon the task on which he has set his heart. I recommend Work to the Nationalist party. In it Jordan says to Luc -

What shall I do? It is plain enough; I shall start again. One ought never to throw up a task. Obstacles and hindrances are inevitable on the road. A task is like a child -our blood is in it; we owe to it our thought, our soul, our flesh, our brains. Because it does not develop under our hand as we would wish it should is no reason why we should abandon it. We must persevere and give it the best in us as long as we are erect, full of intelligence and virility.

How lacking in statesmanship, how cowardly, how pusillanimous is this great Nationalist party?

The Treasurer said that we should not view this legislation from the stand-point of class; but honorable gentlemen supporting the Government for the most part cannot avoid class. The Prime Minister is the symbol of class. The last section in the community to attain class consciousness was the poor and the downtrodden. The Government has shown its class-consciousness time after time. Who does not remember the time when the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes was a member of the Labour party? He left it for reasons which we need not now discuss, and formed the Nationalist party. Who does not know that from the carcasses of those who have deserted or left us the anti-Labour forces have been able to suck the life-blood of political existence? They realized the need of new blood; and it was deserters from the Labour party that had to inject it into 4them. The right honorable gentleman gave new life to that party. It used him for a period; during the. war it even honoured him, but after the war it threw him overboard.


– Does the honorable member want him back again?


– No. His day has gone for ever. He went, and 40 other men with him. Where are the majority of those men who went with him from the Labour party ?

Mr Theodore:

– They have gone to their political graves.


– They have been swept into political oblivion; thrown out like so much dirty water. But, for some reason, the Nationalist party has not been able to cast out William Morris Hughes; he alone of those who left the Labour party remains on the other side. But he is a desolate and lonely figure. Now the members of that party are after his scalp once more. They object to him because he cannot escape from endorsing the things he learned in his boyhood. He developed in hunger and poverty and misery; he rose from the pit. Poor workmen lifted him up on their bucklers to the most honoured position in this country. In our arbitration laws there is evidence of his driving force, some of his blood, his brain, his talents; and now, in spite of his present associations, he cannot forget the things of his early manhood.


– He is an Ishmael in both parties.


– The Government is going after him, and will not desist till he is cast upon the rocks.

I have little more to say; indeed, I should not have risen had it not been for the remarks of the Treasurer, who lowered the debate to a level inconsistent with the so-called dignity of this chamber. I do not profess to be a dignified person, or to exalt any debate in which I take part. I am a plain commoner who does not profess to he a superior person bestowing my patronage upon inferior creatures. I claim only to be the equal of any man who sits on the front Ministerial bench. If the speech of the Treasurer is an example of statesmanship; if the Treasurer himself is the best that Nationalism has to offer; we on this side have nothing to lose by comparison.

In conclusion, I ask, who on the other side are opposing this bill? Are its opponents the weakest men in the Nationalist party? Does Louis Atkinson oppose it? Honorable members can pick them out - the weakest, the poorest, the most humble members of the party are loyal followers of the Government. It is true that on the Government side there are some critics of the hill. Any man free from prejudice must admit that, whatever their motives, the men on the Government side who are opposing this measure are unquestionably the most able men of the party - men so mentally powerful, and possessing such moral force, that the Government would be delighted to throw overboard half the crew on the front bench to secure their aid. That is their condemnation.

We have no fear of the future. Legislation must be taken by and large. Judged by that standard, the arbitration legislation of the Commonwealth has been of great benefit to the people. The Government knows well that it is not because arbitration has failed that it is being abandoned. There are other reasons for the Government’s action, and they can be described as subterranean. ‘ The Government has made a false move; its sun has begun to sink ; and once more the sun of Labour is about to dawn. Labour will ultimately triumph. The passing of this bill will mean the destruction of Nationalism and a corresponding augmentation of the political power of the workers. The measure before us can only be regarded as ‘ a valuable aid to the Labour party - so “let her go!”


– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) said that it was a great mistake for the Government to go on with this measure because only a few unions were giving trouble, while many thousands of unionists were working amicably under the awards of the Arbitration Court. That may be so, but one reason why I support this measure is because I know that those men and women to whom the honorable member refers will go on working contentedly when the Federal Arbitration Court is abolished. It is not the presence of the court that makes them work in -peace ; they are doing so because they have been able to come to a satisfactory agreement with their employers. If they are not able to continue in agreement, the State industrial tribunals will do. what is necessary to ensure that industry is carried on, I have no fear whatever on that point. Honorable members opposite are always talking about what the people will do. One would think that they were the only representatives the people had in Parliament. I trust the people; honorable members opposite do not. The only good thing that compulsory arbitration has “done is to so inform the public mind that sweating conditions will not be permitted to exist when the present federal arbitration legislation is repealed. Honorable members opposite have suggested that the workers and employers will fly at one another’s throats as soon as this bill is passed, that sweated conditions will prevail, and that the workers will be made the tools of the employers. That is absurd; we have passed the stage when anything of the kind would be permitted. I have always opposed compulsory arbitration, and have spoken more strongly against it in this Parliament than has any other honorable member. I am supporting this bill, not because I am slavishly following the direction of any party, but because I believe that the measure is right. If we are to have a satisfactory industrial system, we must have one set of industrial conditions, whether imposed by the Common wealth or by the States. If full industrial powers were vested in the Commonwealth the Federal Court .would be able to make awards to suit the conditions existing in the place where a dispute occurred. But the States can do that too; they have full control within their own boundaries, and can handle industrial matters quite as well as any Commonwealth Court. If a dispute arises, the States can set up the necessary machinery to deal with it. It has been said that if control of industry is left to the States, each will set up a different standard, and uniformity will be lost. We have neverhad uniformity, so we cannot lose it. I am not concerned whether one State will pay a little less than another, so long as, the people are contented, and are doing their jobs.

Personally, I am in favour of going farther even than is proposed in this bill. I should introduce a system similar to that operating in Canada, where they have industrial boards without any compulsory powers whatever. If the workers do not like to obey the recommendations of the board, they may go on strike, and if the employers are not satisfied they may lock out. Then public opinion usually settles the matter. If a union on strike has the support of public opinion, it will win, but if a leader induces his men to go on strike when public opinion is opposed to him, he will quickly forfeit the confidence of his followers. Similarly, an employer who locks out his workers without just cause, will be quickly disciplined by public opinion. There is more work done in Canada, and less time lost through strikes under this system, than under the system we have in opera- tion here.

However, this bill provides for a system of arbitration, or regulation, call it what you like. It provides for the setting-up of a committee which shall consist of representatives of the employers and employees, with an impartial chairman. When the committee comes to a determination, that determination will according to its tenor, and in respect of the matter specified in the notice by which the committee was summoned, be binding upon all employers and employees engaged, during the currency of the determination, in the industry to which the committee was assigned, and in respect of which the determination was made. Therefore, that determination will have the same effect in law that an award of the Arbitration Court has now. I am opposed to arbitration as it exists now because it is necessary, before the system can be put into operation, to create a dispute. It is true that the parties may settle their differences by conciliation; but if they fail to do this, the court must be invoked. [Quorum formed.] When the parties get into the Arbitration Court, they become merely litigants, each fighting for its own hand. This causes proceedings to be exceedingly expensive and unduly protracted. The whole system is an absolute farce, and has been for many years. I am glad to see that a great many unions and employers are able to work satisfactorily together, and have the good sense to keep away from the court. One taste of it has been enough for them.

Another objection to the present arbitration system is that a judge is appointed who must learn all about an industry from evidence.


– What greater knowledge of industry will be possessed by the chairman of the committees which it is proposed to set up under this bill?


– The chairman of those committees will at least be surrounded by a number of persons who are thoroughly versed in the industry, and upon whose assistance he can count. The chairman of a wages board is usually a capable man, who is able to do good work. It is proposed, under the bill, to set up councils which, in some respects, will be similar to the Tasmanian and Victorian wages boards. The chairman of each board will be a judge, and so will not be connected with either the employers or employees. Our judges are men of average intelligence and worldly knowledge, who may be relied upon to make impartial findings. The discussions at the meetings of these councils will be frank and informal. The parties will lay all their cards on the table, and as, apart from the chairman, they will be fully informed of the facts relating tothe industry under consideration, their decisions should be reached without any delay. This system is far more likely to give good results than the existing system of industrial control, and it will certainly be less costly and more expeditions. The wages board system in Victoria is working better than the Arbitration Court system to-day.

Under existing circumstances it is unreasonable to expect industry to develop, for the parties which appear before the Arbitration Court are concerned chiefly with obtaining the greatest possible advantage for their own side. They do not care very much about the effect of an award upon the industry which they are supposed to represent. The union leaders, as well as the leaders of the employers’ organizations, know very well that they must do something to keep their jobs. Consequently, as soon as one dispute is settled, they set to work to manufacture another. The representatives of the two parties fight like cats and dogs, while the industries of the country languish. When a dispute occurs over land or a debt, the parties concerned go before a judge, obtain a verdict, and the loser is the only one who suffers. But in the case of ah industrial dispute the general community suffers until the parties reach an agreement. While a dispute is in progress men remain unemployed and women and children frequently starve. When the Arbitration Court was first set up, we placed at the head of it an eminent equity lawyer, who was also a fair-minded and clever man; but politically he was, in my opinion, a faddist. He laid down the principle that industry must return to the employees a living wage, that is, sufficient to maintain a worker, his wife and a family of three children in reasonable comfort. The president of the court fixed the minimum wage without having any regard to the capacity of industry to pay it. That may have been a humane procedure; but it was economically unsound, and, therefore, senseless. Unless we give heed to economic law, we must meet with disaster. There can be no doubt that, in the last few years, we have not taken economic considerations sufficiently into account. Consequently, the Government was faced with an extremely difficult position. The States would not agree to a grant of additional power to the Commonwealth, so something had to be done to meet the situation. We have had a series of industrial disturbances in the last twelve months. We have had trouble with the waterside workers, the timber workers, and a number of other less serious disputes. The Attorney-General last year introduced a bill to amend the Arbitration Act with the object of compelling both sides to obey the awards of the court; but, unfortunately, that object has not been achieved. The awards of the court are still being flouted. Unfortunately the leaders of the men are encouraging them to disobey the law. Even the unions which are working peaceably under awards of the court are breaking the law in another respect, for they are providing the money which makes it possible for other unionists to remain on strike. In all these circumstances the Government was justified in taking this bold step with the object of reaching the goal of industrial peace. We ought to be able to put the workers in a position to keep their wives and children in reasonable comfort, and at the same time accumulate a little money for a rainy day. Thereis good common sense in such a policy.. The Government is of the opinion that if the way were cleared for the employers and employees tomeet in conference to discuss their problems with as little formality as possible, substantial progress would be made. I have often said that it is unfortunate that the employers have not more confidence in their employees, and do not reveal to them some of the problems which have to be faced to the management of big businesses. Such a policy would cause the men to be more reasonable in their demands.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the honorable member think this bill would have been before us if the timber workers had accepted the award of the court?


– I am not in the confidence of the Government, butI imagine the bill would have been put before us in any case. I am prepared to support the Government in its industrial policy, for I am convinced that it is wise. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has indicated his intention to move an amendment which, if carried, would have the effect of deferring further consideration of this measure until the people have been consulted. I can see no virtue in taking that course.

The honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell) weakly argued last night that the Government should take another referendum. He said that as it was thought to be quite proper to go before the people regularly for reelection, nothing could be said against making repeated requests to them for additional power. I submit there is no analogy between the two cases. Different questions are submitted to the people for their consideration at each election, whereas the referendums which have been taken on the subject of power over trade and commerce have been submitted in practically identical terms on each occasion. The negative majority at the last referendum was larger than ever before. In these circumstances it would be a waste of public money to take another referendum. Many issues are involved in all constitutional questions submitted to the people, and there is always a tendency for the electors to adopt a conservative attitude and leave things as they are. They prefer to preserve the existing position than to risk taking a step into the unknown.

A great deal has been said during this debate about the attitude of the Labour party towards industrial arbitration. On this point I quote the following comments of Mr. W. J. Duggan, president of the Australian Trades and Labour Council, which appeared in the Melbourne Herald on the 19th August last: -

The attitude of Labour is a simple one, but it is being confused by side issues and the misconstruction of our object for purely political purposes. For many years the Arbitration Court served its purpose well, but in latter years it became the special attention of the legal fraternity, particularly those who move from the ranks into the political realm. Claims of unions were often defeated on legal technicalities.

This has grown up to such’ an extent that the feeling against the Arbitration Court became very strong. The culminating point was reached last year when the Government introduced a bill to amend the Arbitration Act and invested the Court with powers that hitherto were regarded as nothing less than an alteration of the Constitution.

What is desired to-day by the Labour movement is that the court should be constituted on an entirely different basis, so that industrial legislation will remain in the federal’ sphere.

It is suggested that Labour intended to submit a proposal exactly on all fours with that contained in this bill. It was on the same lines as the old wages board system of Victoria, which is closely followed in this bill, the only difference being that they desired the federation to have full control over all industries, while under the present bill the control applies only to the maritime industries. Of course, this Parliament is acting under its trade and commerce powers and not under its industrial powers. The Government has done its best to amend the Arbitration Act to make it workable; but the unions have refused to accept the awards of the court and have made the industrial position impossible. Judging by our previous experience in referring matters to the people by referendum, the electors expect this Parliament to act, and do not wish to be troubled with proposals .submitted to them in that way.

If I am not mistaken, the chief charge levelled against the Government by the

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, was that the bill was an attempt to reduce wages, and would result in workmen to accept whatever conditions the employers cared to impose. The honorable member must have a poor opinion of the intelligence of the public if he expects it to accept such a statement. “What the workers require is hot necessarily high wages but real wages. I should like to see workmen earning £20 a week if industries could be carried on under those conditions. Some honorable members opposite have said that if industries cannot afford to pay good, wages they should cease. A good many industries languish and die because persons with capital are not prepared to invest their money in them; they prefer to invest in governmentbonds. If industrial conditions in Australia were all they should be, it would be unnecessary for us to be troubled with migration problems. Australia would then be a magnet that would attract the best type of settlers from all parts of the world, and our only task would be to keep out undesirables. Compulsory arbitration ha’s done more than anything else in the last twenty years to keep this country from progressing. I have probably more personal friends amongst the workers than have some honorable members opposite, and I understand their points of view. If they are given a fair opportunity they are prepared to do a fair day’s work for the wages they receive. I need not refer to the history of arbitration in Australia, although I know it fairly well. I am satisfied that the Federal Arbitration Court has done more harm than good. It has been a storm centre’ rather than a means of bringing about industrial peace. I have no hesitation in according the bill my whole-hearted support. “When we have had experience of .the new system proposed by the Government, I feel sure that much happier conditions than now obtain will prevail, because workers and employers will be found pulling together to make their industries successful.


.- Some impressive speeches have been delivered on the bill. Eminent lawyers on both sides of’ the chamber have discussed it, and some of those who sit behind the

Government have denounced it. Any honorable member who was wavering in his opinion must have been profoundly influenced by the eloquent address of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). If honorable members opposite will consider the measure on its merits and forget party interests they will surely vote against it. Three honorable members on the other side have shown sufficient independence to oppose the bill,* and it must be agreed that the great weight of evidence is against it. It behoves every honorable member to express his opinion on this vital measure, which is one of the greatest issues that this Parliament has ever had to consider. Many years ago, when my late respected father was Premier of South Australia, the toilers in industries had no tribunal such as the Federal Arbitration Court to which they could appeal. I am greatly concerned when I find a Government prepared to wipe out many of the reforms that have been fought for and won in the past. I, therefore, propose to fight the bill to the bitter end. I am a new member of this chamber, and I consider that the way in which the Government conducts business is a disgrace, and a trayesty on British parliamentary institutions. When the Transport Workers Bill was under discussion it resorted to the miserable, contemptible action of applying the “gag,” and thus prevented twenty honorable members, who sit on this side, from expressing their views. A similar attitude was adopted when the financial- agreement was before this House. On that occasion the axe fell on me. I was exceedingly annoyed, because the matter was of vital importance to my State. The Government has the backing of servile members, who are willing to do its .bidding and force through legislation. Those who sit on this side are always ready to express their views on vital matters that are brought forward.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) told us this, afternoon that we are to be kept here until the second reading stage of the bill has been completed. The attitude of the Government towards the States on this occasion is entirely different from that which it adopted in the case of the financial agreement. Then it took from the States some of their sovereign rights. Now it is proposed to hand over to the States powers that are at present being exercised by the Commonwealth. That is a retrograde step, which will prove detrimental to the great mass of the people, and consequently it will not have my support. This evening we had a sorry exhibition from the Treasurer (Dr.- Earle Page),- who holds a very responsible position in the Commonwealth. If he is typical of a responsible Minister, it is a poor look out for the future of Australia. During the course of his speech I interjected that I hoped it would not be cabled to London. I made that interjection pointedly. If the Commonwealth or any of the States were seeking a loan on the London market, his remarks would prove detrimental to it. Statements such as he made are not conducive to the welfare of the people. The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott) has tackled the question from a different angle. It would appear that certain members of the Government party were wavering, and he set out to bring them into line. The outstanding feature of his speech was the use of the term “ f fangless snakes.” That will live in the memory of those honorable members for many years to come. When the time arrives for the Government to face the electors,’ it will feel the sting of their indignation. I hope that we shall go to the country in the very near future. The Government claims to have been given a mandate for this legislation, but they will find great difficulty in convincing the people that that is so. Prior to the last election in the literature published by the Bruce Government supporters, great stress was” laid upon its advocacy of the principle of conciliation and arbitration; yet to-day it proposes to overthrow arbitration.

Mr Parsons:

– Oh, no !


– The federal court is to be overthrown, and control is to be retained only over maritime industries.

Mr Gullett:

– We are cleaning up the ruin which the honorable member and his friends have caused.


– Whatever Government follows the present one will have a great deal to clean up. No Government could have made more wreckage. The sooner the people have an opportunity to pronounce judgment upon the Government the happier they will be. One is justified in assuming that a vast majority of the Australian people are strongly opposed to the Government’s anti-arbitration policy. Even honorable members opposite do not understand the reasons that actuated their leader in taking this drastic step, which will have such a detrimental effect upon a large number of Australian workers. The only intimation they received concerning the Government’s change of front was contained in a somewhat mysterious telegram despatched to every member of the Nationalist party. Although honorable members opposite have stated from time to time that they are free to vote as their conscience dictates, it will be found, when a division is taken, that they will follow the directions of their leader and support the measure. The Prime Minister and those supporting him frequently condemn trade unionists, for adopting a policy of direct action; but, in this instance, they are using similar methods.

Mr Gullett:

– Does the honorable member approve of direct action?


– I do not. There is not the slightest justification for the Government introducing a measure with such far-reaching effects as this without first receiving a mandate from the people. The Constitution provides that the Federal Parliament shall have power to make laws for “the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth, and in respect to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. Although ‘the Prime Minister has frequently said that, in order to legislate more effectively in the interests of the Commonwealth, the Government should have more extensive powers, it is in this instance declining to exercise the powers it already possesses. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) stated that the outcome of the Government’s action will be that different States will have varying rates of wages and conditions, which must ultimately have the effect of reducing wages. The Federal Arbitration Court was established with the object of co-ordinating industrial conditions throughout the Commonwealth ; but, under this proposal, there will be a disparity in rates of wages as between the States, with the results I have indicated. The Federal Arbitration Court was established in 1904, under the presidency of the late Mr. Justice Higgins, who was capable of understanding the difficulties with which the workers were confronted. While he always endeavoured to give a decision which was fair to both parties, he was never unmindful of the fact that many of the employees who came before him were actually living on the bread line. Unfortunately, some of the judges who have succeeded him have not treated the workers with the same consideration. This has undoubtedly been responsible for a good deal of the industrial troubles which have occurred in recent years. In response to a request submitted to the Industrial Registrar, I was informed that there are 141 Commonwealth arbitration awards at present in force, which, if this measure becomes law, will remain in operation until the 30th June, 1930. But, since this proposal, which has the approval of the State governments, has been introduced, the Premier of Victoria has asked that that time shall Be extended to the 31st December of that year. Under this Bruce-Page system of arbitration, maritime workers are to be controlled by the federal authority. The Government proposes to penalize a large section of Australian industry by depriving both employers and- employees of their federal industrial awards. Does any honorable member seriously contend that such action is conducive to industrial peace? In 1928 a conference of the Metal Trades Employers Association was held in Sydney, and from that conference a circular was sent out containing the following statement : -

Industrial arbitration had pampered the workers so that they had become bowelless tyrants, and unmitigated ruffians. Away with arbitration, let us get back to the open door, to the open economic ring.

What this association wanted was freedom of contract between the worker and the employer. Are the Australian manufacturers prepared to go back to freetrade, and face the competition of those countries in which low wages and sweated conditions prevail? If the Government proposed to withdraw the existing protection of industry, and allow the products of cheap labour countries to enter duty free, there would be a tremendous howl from the manufacturers of Australia. The Government should remember that there are others to be considered besides those who belong to the employing class. There is the great mass of the workers, who form a very big section of the population, and who play an important part in the country’s industries. They also have a right to be protected. The manufacturers are for ever approaching Parliament for further protection against the products of cheap labour countries. The Minister for Customs could, if he wished, tell the House that he baa always some representative of the manufacturers on his doorstep asking for still more protection. Personally, I believe in a protective tariff, but side by side with protection of industry we should have protection of the rights of the workers.

I am not one of those who believe in direct action in settling disputes between employers and employees, nor do I believe in the methods which this Government is trying to force upon the people. I believe in arbitration, and it is not very long ago since the Attorney-General also believed in it. Here is what he had to say on the subject only a short while ago -

There are those who urge that the Arbitration Court should be abolished. The abolition of the court would not solve any problem ; on the contrary it would create new problems without any satisfactory means of solving them. hi those remarks the Attorney-General has hit the nail on the head, and has gauged fairly accurately what is likely to happen if this bill is passed. Before the Attorney-General was converted to the Prime Minister’s view, before he received that particular telegram which, I presume, was sent to him as well as to other members of the Nationalist party, he was a firm believer in the principle of arbitration; but it is remarkable how quickly Ministers can change their personal opinion to suit the needs of their party. There are 149 trade unions registered in the Federal Arbitration Court, with a membership of 693,000, and no fewer than 27. employers’ organizations are also registered. The Attorney-General said, on the occasion to which I refer, that most of these organizations were working in peace under awards of the court. Compare the Attorney-General’s statement on that occasion with his remarks when introducing the present bill. The Government is determined to get rid of arbitration by hook or by crook so that we may return to the old system of strikes and lockouts. The administration of the law in this country by the present Government has been one-sided, and its action in connexion with the withdrawal of the John Brown prosecution was disgraceful.

Mr Parsons:

– That matter .is in the grave now.


– It is not in the grave; it will live in the memories of the people of Australia for a long time to come. I am pleased that the matter was debated in this Hou3e, and that a record was taken of those who voted in support of the Government’s action, and those who opposed it. It will serve to show the people of Australia where honorable members stand on that issue.

This bill provides for the setting up of industrial committees in connexion with the shipping and waterside industries. What is to become of the manufacturing group of industries in Australia? The Prime Minister stated that the Government had decided to remove the manufacturing group of industries from the jurisdiction of the Federal Court, because the unions did not obey awards. That is a ridiculous statement. We know on the authority of the Commonwealth Statistician, that during the eleven years from 1917 to 1927 there were only three interstate disputes before the court. 1 represented the State of South Australia as Agent-General in London, and during my three years’ term of office I noted many strikes in Great Britain. Australia’s record in regard to industrial trouble is much better than that of England or of any continental country. One thing which impressed me very much when I was in England was the prominence given in the newspapers to industrial trouble in Australia. In view of the fact that we have so little industrial trouble, comparatively, it is a shame that such prominence should be given in the overseas press to this side of our industrial affairs. On one occasion, at least, the publication of such news had a very detrimental effect upon our position in the British money market. At that time we were endeavouring to float a loan. A great deal of the money was undersubscribed and left with the underwriters. The Government should do something to check the publication of such damaging news in the British press. I challenge honorable members op’posite to show that any industrial country in the world has been freer from strikes than Australia has been during the last eleven years. The Government has tried to make the people believe that in bringing forth this bill it desires to promote industrial peace. Has any one ever heard anything so absurd?

I cannot understand how any man with a logical mind can argue that six State tribunals will bring peace to industry more than the Commonwealth Court has done. If the proposals of the Government are put into effect, industry must in the near future, be in a chaotic state. That the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has not entirely prevented strikes from occurring is no reason for repealing it. No one would suggest for a moment that the Police Offences Act should be repealed because a few offenders go unpunished. Industrially, the Government has undoubtedly run amok. It has pulled one lever after another in the attempt to run the train of State on to the right line until it has now lost all sense of direction.

It is difficult to understand how the intelligent men who support the Government could have allowed themselves to be forced into supporting this bill by a mere telegram. But, apparently, honorable members opposite have come to the conclusion that they must stand behind the Government whatever- it may do. The Prime Minister deserves to be congratulated, not only upon his strength, but also upon the weakness of his followers. The telegrams which caused such a remark able change of front must have been remarkable. When one considers the effect of a recent long-distance telephone conversation between the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister on the John Brown case, and the effect of the telegrams to which I have referred, he is forced to the conclusion that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is playing an important part in national affairs in these days.

I hope that there will be a sufficient number of honorable members voting against the bill to prevent the smashing up of our arbitration machine. Prom my earliest days I have been closely associated with the Labour movement. I have carefully studied the effect of the industrial legislation of the Commonwealth and the States over a long period of years. Many stalwart Labour leaders including my father, the late Honorable Thomas Price, fought strenuously in days gone by for a workable system of industrial arbitration. We had to suffer many privations in our family circle in my boyhood days because of my father’s staunch and self sacrificing support of this principle. Happily the conditions of life are somewhat easier for me to-day than they were then; but I shall never forget those days, and I should consider myself a renegade if I failed to prevent with all my power the backward step which the Government is proposing to take. We should still be engaged in the work of industrial reform, but the Government is reactionary in this as in other respects. Serious injury will be done to this country if this bill is passed. The measure can do nothing to restore harmony in our industrial relations, but on the other hand it may cause untold trouble which we shall find it difficult to rectify. I shall fight the bill to the bitter end, and feel that in doing so I am acting in the best interests of Australia, the land that I love. By improving the existing Commonwealth industrial machinery we may do a great deal to add to the contentment and joy of our citizens, but by voting for this measure we shall undoubtedly bring chaos into industry.

Sitting suspended from 11.55 .p.m. to

Friday, 6 September 1929 [Quorum formed.]

Monaro · Eden

– I think that it will be admitted by all fair-minded persons that conciliation and arbitration have had a fair trial in the Commonwealth and in New Zealand, and honorable members should have no difficulty in deciding whether that system has been effective or otherwise. When the bill providing for it was introduced in New Zealand in 1894, the Minister in charge of the measure said that an experiment was being made. He added that the operation of the system would be closely watched for a while; if it worked well it would be retained, but otherwise it would be wiped off the statute-book. In thosedays, New Zealand was regarded as one of the most democratic countries in the world. Soon afterwards New South Wales adopted similar experimental legislation, and the eyes of the world were turned towards that State and to New Zealand ; but other countries did not care to copy that legislation. In 1904 the Commonwealth adopted this system. The framers of the Constitution realized that it would possibly be asked for, and they made provision for it in the Constitution; but they regarded it with some suspicion. Although legislation has been enacted providing ostensibly for conciliation and arbitration, the system has not been effective. Its main object was to bring peace to industry, and that would have meant progress. The workers expected three good results from compulsory arbitration - improved wages, shorter hours, and uniformity of working conditions in the various States. If, after a trial of over a quarter of a century, we could prove that federal arbitration has brought peace to industry, made wages more effective, shortened hours, and caused uniformity of conditions, the present debate would be unnecessary; but I intend to show that our legislation has failed in all those respects.

Mr Maxwell:

– When did the honorable member discover that?


– I came to that conclusion a long time ago. Honorable mem bers on this side are not all like “ dumb driven cattle “. If the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is true to Nationalism, honorable members supporting the Government on this measure must be out of step with it; but I suggest that that honorable member is out of step with his own party. Many strikes have occurred in Australia under federation. For the last six months the timber workers have made our arbitration law the laughing stock of the Commonwealth and even of the whole world. Attempts have been made to amend it; but strikes still occur. If the workers are not prepared to obey the awards of the Arbitration Court, what is the use of maintaining a system from which no good results can be obtained? The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) quoted statistics that appeared to me to have no bearing upon the present issue. There may be some justification for the strikes that have occurred in Great Britain, Canada and the United States of America. The men in those countries have struck for conditions that the workers in Australia already enjoy. The industrial population in those countries is so large that the conditions there are not comparable with those in Australia, which is a primary producing country. Twenty-five years ago we adopted what were thought to be advanced methods of preventing strikes; but we find to-day that the industrialists are striking against the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court. I would abolish even the majority of the State arbitration tribunals. Wages are undoubtedly higher than they were in 1904 and this applies even in countries that have no arbitration courts. A professor of economics in Sydney stated some twelve months ago that wages in New Zealand had certainly risen; but the real purchasing power of those wages was not greater than in 1900. In the United States of America, however, where compulsory arbitration does not obtain, wages have increased and their purchasing power has also risen 25 per cent. The purchasing power of wages in Australia has slightly increased since 1904; but there are tens of thousands of men out of employment to-day, and this is due, in the main, to the effect of the awards of the courts, because industry cannot afford to pay the wages that have been fixed. To arrive at the average wage, it is necessary to make allowance for the large number of men who are out of work. Many wage-earners are taxed by their unions in order to keep strikers going. Strikes are practically incessant, and, if we take that fact into consideration, it will be recognized that the workers throughout Australia receive a lower wage to-day than in 1904. Therefore, it cannot be said that the effect of the Arbitration Court has been to increase the wages of the workers.

Let us now consider the hours of work. Originally, the attainment of a 48-hour week was regarded by the unions as a triumph. We saw men proudly marching behind their banners on Eight Hours’ Day. Many of them now have a 44-hour week, and it is mainly because a Labour Government in New South Wales, independent of the Arbitration Court, made provision on the statute-book for that number of working hours, and in many industries the Commonwealth has been obliged to follow that lead; but this reduction of hours cannot be attributed to arbitration. The hours of labour have been considerably shortened also because tens of thousands of unemployed have brought the average number of hours actually worked down to 36 or 38 per week. Uniformity of conditions in industry is impossible. Australia is a big continent with varying climates. Different conditions are found in Tasmania from those experienced in North Queensland, and similarly the conditions in the eastern States are entirely different from those in Western Australia. Only twelve of the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court apply throughout the Commonwealth. The Premier of New South Wales is anxiously awaiting the passage of the present bill.

Mr Chifley:

– He intends to scrap arbitration.


– Personally, I hope that he does; but I am positive that that is not his intention. He proposes to bring forward amending legislation that he hopes will not only produce peace in industry in New South Wales, but will provide employment for starving workers. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the right honorable mem ber for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) have emphasized the fact that no mandate has been given to pass this legislation. A hundred and one things are done by governments for which they have no direct mandate. Is it contended that, in the event of some great calamity, a government should decline to take action because it had no mandate to intervene?

Mr Maxwell:

– Will the honorable member mention one drastic change that has been made without being referred to the constituencies ?


– To me this is not a drastic change. During the war the people were not asked to consent to the War Precautions Act being placed on the statute-book, and even after the war the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) carried on without a mandate under that act. The Government would be spineless if, when thousands of men are out of employment and their wives and children are suffering, they did not attempt to find a remedy.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the honorable member think that in peace time the community Would tolerate such an act as the War Precautions Act?


– No. It served its purpose, and was then repealed. The reason that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is not Prime Minister to-day is that the people would not stand it. To-day people are starving.

Mr Fenton:

– They are starving on the coal-fields.


– They are starving also in the cities, as a result of the disastrous strikes that have occurred.

Mr Maxwell:

– Is this going to cure strikes ?


– It will be one remedy for them. The States will have control of industries within their own borders, and will be in a position to take the necessary action to settle any dispute that may arise. Two or three weeks ago a speaker in the Sydney Domain made such strong remarks that the people who heard him wondered why he was not arrested. One of his audience said to a policeman, “ Can you not arrest this man ?” and received the reply, “No. He is talking about industrial matters, which come within the federal sphere. We are employed by the State authorities, and without federal sanction we cannot arrest him.” It is not desirable, nor does it make for peace in industry, that such a state of affairs should be allowed to continue. During the past five years there have been 2,064 registered strikes in Australia, of which 1,006 have been settled by direct negotiation between employers and employees, 86 by the intervention of a third party, 100 by State tribunals, and only 63, or 3 per cent, of the total, by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Yet it is seriously urged that this expensive machinery should be retained to deal with that number of disputes! During the last sixteen years, the workers have lost in wages a total of £18,791,000, a yearly average of £1,175,000. Surely it is time we woke up and realized that the fetish which we have worshipped for so long is not what we thought it to be ! Last year there was a big waterside workers’ strike against an award of the court, and this year the timber workers are defying an award. Such action is merely bringing the system into derision. Since its inception arbitration has imposed a tax upon the worker who continues at his job, because he has had to contribute to the support of the families of strikers. During the last six years, the Australian Railways Union has spent over £9,000 in obtaining awards from the court, and last year the Federated Locomotive Enginemen spent more than half their income in- fighting claims. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) sympathizes with the timber workers who are out on strike, on the ground that the award is too outrageous for them to accept, and members of the Opposition have carried a resolution congratulating the strikers on the fight they were putting up. When those who help to make the law have so little respect for it, very little argument is needed to prove that there is something fallacious in the system. Every honorable member has been inundated with letters from various unions, stating how peaceful and lawabiding they have been; yet each week, they are contributing to a fund which is used to enable another union to defy the law. [Quorum formed],

Ever since the arbitration system waB established in 1904, whenever wages have been increased by an award of the court, this Parliament has been asked to assist the industry concerned by imposing an additional tariff. Thus, the cost has been passed on to the public. We have also added to our indebtedness abroad. The time came, however, when the shoe began to pinch. The primary producers had to keep their production costs at the lowest possible rate, and pool their products. No sooner is a new award given than the cost of living is considerably increased. In the last four or five years, as a result of Arbitration Court awards, no fewer than 22 industries have had to close down, and the position will become more acute the longer the existing system is allowed to continue. An industry can pay only according to what the manager can make out of it. If wages continue to rise and hours continue to be reduced, it must eventually go out of business. It is surprising that the tide did not turn long ago. This year, the price of wool dropped materially. It is estimated that, even if we had as big a clip as we had last year, the owners will receive £20,000,000 less than they did then. In Queensland the new Government, which was elected recently found it absolutely necessary, if it was to assist the unemployed, to cancel all industrial awards in country districts. The New South Wales Government contemplates taking similar action. In my electorate, as well as in many other parts of NewSouth Wales, the land-owners are not undertaking any scrub-cutting, clearing or ring-barking, because they cannot afford to pay the ‘ award rates. In consequence of this, large numbers of men are out of employment, and in some cases are faced almost with starvation. As I understand that there are a number of honorable members on this and the other side of the chamber who wish to contribute to the debate, I shall conclude my remarks by saying that in my opinion arbitration has failed at practically every point, and although we are told that the Government has not received a mandate, it must be admitted that it has made an honest attempt to remedy the evils associated with our industrial system.


– If the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) and those who have spoken in support of the bill have contended that in abolishing the Federal Arbitration Court it is not the intention to reduce wages, the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) has set at rest the minds of honorable members on this side of the House on that question. The honorable member admitted that he has always been opposed to the present policy, and said that he would not only assist in abolishing the Federal Arbitration Court, but was also opposed to State arbitration. The honorable member, like many others, leaves the chamber directly he is attacked, and is amongst those who fight and run away in the hope that they may live to fight another day. The honorable member for EdenMonaro has shown quite clearly what is in the minds of honorable members on that side of the House. He said that federal arbitration was a success only at its inception and shortly afterwards; but that it soon began to be irksome, and that those engaged in industry had to approach the Federal Parliament with a request for higher customs duties. The honorable member asserts that the time has come to abolish arbitration because the present rates of wages cannot be paid. Although this is only a newcountry, I know of no other having such a large area and with such a small population, which has such a record of prosperity. Only one-fourth of the Commonwealth has been developed. It is the policy of the Government to abolish the Federal Arbitration Court without substituting some equally effective system.

Mr Atkinson:

– The State will appoint tribunals to deal with the wages and conditions of the workers within their boundaries.


– The bill provides for the industrial conditions of merely a handful of the workers that are at present under the Commonwealth Arbitration Court; practically 600,000 workers will be deprived by it of federal industrial protection. The position of Australia is not so serious as the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) and other honorable members suggest. The honor able member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) said that 22 industries had gone out of operation during recent years. I do not know if the honorable member was referring to industries, but if he was, I cannot accept this statement. A perusal of the Commonwealth YearBook shows that our manufacturing industries are developing rapidly, and that the number of their employees is correspondingly increasing. A remarkable feature of the debate on this measure is that particular attention has been directed to the fact that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is to be abolished, and that little consideration is devoted to the interests of those who are to be seriously affected by the change. The Prime Minister referred to the position confronting the Commonwealth, and we have been informed, through the columns of practically every newspaper in Australia, that the Commonwealth Treasurer is responsible for the present unsatisfactory position of our finances. He is admonished everywhere by Nationalist newspapers. He has been told that he has been a failure, and in fact a member of the ministry when a private member said that the right honorable gentleman was “ the most tragic Treasurer . Australia has ever known.” For a cash consideration - because of the emolument which the member now receives as a Minister - he is no longer in a position to criticize the Trea surer.

Mr Abbott:

– I rise to order. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) has stated that for a cash consideration the Minister for Customs withdrew certain criticisms he had made concerning the Treasurer.


– What I said- and I repeat it - was that the present Minister for Customs said that the Treasurer, who is the leader of the Minister for Home Affairs, was the most tragic Treasurer Australia has ever known.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– I did not hear the whole of the sentence, but I heard the honorable member use the words “cash consideration”. If they were used to impute improper motives to a member of this House, the remark must be withdrawn.


– I continued that the strong criticisms of the Treasurer by the Minister for Customs have now ceased, because the latter is now sitting cheek by jowl with him on the Treasury bench.


– Does the honorable member assure me that he did not use the words “ cash consideration “ imputing an improper motive?


– The effect of my statement was that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who now draws cash emoluments as Minister for Trade and Customs, is no longer prepared to criticize the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) whom he once designated as the most tragic Treasurer Australia has ever known.

Mr Abbott:

– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) has not made a truthful statement.


– Order !

Mr Abbott:

– I ask, sir, that the honorable member repeat the actual words he used, or that the Hansard report of his remarks be transcribed and read.


– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has given me his assurance that he did not use the words in the sense that would have made his remarks disorderly and I accept that assurance.


– If I used words expressing exactly what I thought, you, sir, would not permit me to remain in the chamber, but nevertheless they would be true.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I rise to order. I distinctly heard the honorable member for Kalgoorlie use the words “ cash consideration “ in connexion with the Minister for Customs’ present attitude towards the Treasurer, and I ask that those words be withdrawn.


– I have already ruled on the point.


– The Prime Minister has stated that the cost of production must be reduced. A similar statement was made by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Perkins). He pointed out that the only logical outcome was a reduction in wages. The late member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) rendered one service to his country when he was in this chamber by showing that, in the butter industry, the amount of money received by the butter producers was no measure of the amount extracted from the consumers who bought the butter. [Quorum formed.] The Prime Minister said that the cost of living must come down. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett), writing in that very reputable journal, the Argus, on 24th June, referred to the huge deficit in the federal finances, and said -

No tariff, no matter how high it is, can compete against a diminishing working week. Australia will continue to remain economically depressed so long as there is a desire to reduce the hours of working.

So it is quite clear what was in the mind of the Minister for Trade and Customs, as well as in that of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis), who stated that the salvation of the workers lay in the general adoption of piece-work. The honorable member for Kennedy went on to say that the reason for the closing down of the gold-mine at Charters Towers was that the men were asking wages too high for the industry to bear. I have previously had to put the honorable member right on that point. The honorable member should have enough experience to know that, when a mine is petering out, as all mines inevitably do, no reduction in wages can make it continue working. If I were permitted to use the expression - which I am not - I would say that the honorable member for Kennedy became almost a master of mis-statement when he suggested that the mines at Charters Towers were closed, because the workers asked for too much. He, in effect, charged the workers in the gold-mining industry with having asked for more wages than they were entitled to.


– I did not.


– It is futile for the honorable member to deny it.


– I said that no wages could compensate the men for the work they did, and for the risks they undertook. I have said that more than once.


– Has any one ever heard the honorable member for Kennedy voice an appeal oh behalf of the workers? He has said that most of us come from the working class, that we have relatives amongst that class, and that we might return to it; but he has also termed the workers of that State “ bolshevists “ allied to the Labour Government in Queensland and has stated that they are responsible for all the troubles existing in that State. His hostility ‘ to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), due to his jealousy of that honorable member’s transcendent ability, may yet lead him to where it led another honorable member of this House. I shall let it go at that, and the mighty atom can subside again.

In a letter published in the Argus of 26th June of this year, Mr. MacRobertSOn, a well-known confectionery manufacturer of Melbourne, stated -

There is no gainsaying the fact that wages must come down, and that production must be increased.

In other words, the workers must work harder and get less -

Correspondingly the’ cost of living will decrease and thus enable us to obtain a greater proportion of oversea trade) which is of vital importance to Australia. It is better that 1,000,000 persons be constantly employed, say, at £4 or £5 a week, than 500,000 at, say, £7 or £8 a week periodically, on the basis of “ a half-loaf is better than no bread.”

This Mr. MacRobertson has done very well in Australia. His family have three or four motor cars, and it is well known that he is a millionaire.

When introducing the Arbitration Bill in 1927 the Attorney-General made a statement which is very interesting in view of his recent volte face. In the course of that speech, delivered on the 15th December, 1927, he said -

That ideal condition of affairs of being able to rely on every employer to do the fair and just thing, however, does not exist. Therefore, although the Government recognizes that the general abandonment of industrial legislation in Australia which is sometimes suggested would not solve any problem, but would open the way to a period of suffering and industrial unrest, and to the perpetration of individual injustice for which the Government is not prepared to accept responsibility.

The supporters of the Government were behind it in its attitude towards arbitration as expressed by its mouthpiece on that occasion. Now those same supporters, including the Minister for Home Affairs, rise in this chamber, and with their tongue in their cheek, try to convince the people that they have been against the principle of arbitration all their lives. Where is their consistency? Two or three men on the Government side who have stood out against arbitration all along alone have shown any consistency in this matter.

Much has been said in this chamber by honorable members opposite regarding the number of strikes in Australia. A total of 769,000 workers are registered, through their organizations, in the Federal Arbitration Court, and ninetenths of these are, under this bill, to be deprived of legal protection. This is the first government, that has attempted to belittle the Constitution, and to scrap a valuable part of it. Section 51, paragraph XXV., of the Constitution provides for the inauguration of a system of conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. The Government proposes to tear up that portion of the Constitution. If you did not occupy your present position, Mr. Speaker, and were on the floor of this chamber, you would, I am sure, raise your voice in no uncertain manner against the proposal of the Government to deal with arbitration in this illegal way.


– The honorable member must not bring the Speaker into the discussion.


– I do not like to use the term “ dumb-driven cattle “ in regard to honorable members opposite ; but it is a fact that not one of them, not even the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott), nor the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), was consulted about this proposed change until after the Prime Minister had made his decision.

Mr Paterson:

– That is absolutely wrong.


– No protest from honorable members opposite will count for anything on this point. As a matter of fact, on the party platforms of honorable members opposite there is a plank pledging the members of those parties to support the system of federal arbitration. Nov/ they are tearing up their own party pledges in order to follow willy-nilly a leader who has made a “ muck up “ of the administration of arbitration, and is now trying to get clear of the quagmire in which he finds himself as quickly as possible.

There are, it is true, several deficiencies in the Federal Arbitration Act as it stands at present. They have been referred to on many occasions. If that act had been amended it would have been of greater service to the community, and would have prevented a considerable amount of the industrial unrest which has recently occurred. The court as at present constituted is unable to deal with disputes within a reasonable time. In March last then- were no fewer than 160 cases waiting to be dealt with. Men do not approach the court unless they have a grievance, and it is no crime to be dissatisfied. Ever since I can remember, men have been dissatisfied with their conditions. Employers have sought for bigger profits and employees have wanted more wages. Discontent is a natural failing, if it he a failing at all, which is not confined to one class in the community.

One complaint we have against the Arbitration Court is that its atmosphere has been too legal. Men with legally trained minds are inclined, like our worthy friend the Attorney-General, to spin words ad infinitum, without indicating clearly what they are driving at. This is particularly so when they are not too clear in their own mind about what they desire to express. There is no reason why the Commonwealth Court should delay hearing the cases coming before it, for provision is made in section 36 of the act to enable it to detail some of its lesser power to subordinate authorities. Unquestionably the court has good features, from the point of view of the workers. It has provided, for instance, that overtime shall be paid at the rate of time and a half for Sunday work, and work outside of the ordinary hours. We have no undertaking that the State authorities that may be set up will adhere to these principles. The Commonwealth Court has also granted a shorter working week in the engineering and other industries. These advantages may be taken away by the State authorities. Under section 25b of the amended act of 1927, it was provided that the economic results of paying a certain wage in industry should not be considered in relation to the basic wage. But there is a significant clause in the bill now before us which reads -

A board shall, in considering each determination submitted to it under this act, take into consideration the probable economic effect of the determination in relation to the community in genera] and the probable economic effect thereof upon the industry concerned.

It appears, therefore, that the protection given to the workers under section 25b to which I have referred will be removed if this measure is agreed to. The insertion of the clause that I have quoted clearly indicates the intention of the Government to reduce wages. The State wage-fixing authorities have, to some extent, taken into account the Commonwealth basic wage in fixing their award.

It has been satisfactory to note that, since 1920, the High Court judges have repeatedly declared that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has considerably more power than it has exercised. Consequently, we should be taking steps to strengthen the hands of the court. There is no justification for handing over complete industrial power to the States. As a matter of fact, the State authorities in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria are not able to deal with some of the big questions which have come before the Commonwealth Court. If disputes occur in the industries concerned, chaos must result. It is highly significant that immediately the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention of withdrawing from the field of industrial arbitration, certain State leaders declared that they would exclude certain callings from the benefits of arbitration. It is apparent therefore that some workers will have no authority to which they can apply for a declaration as to their wages and working conditions. Instead of dealing with suppositious cases, honorable members opposite will be well advised to turn their attention to the specific points I am bringing under their notice.

I have no desire to impute motives to the Government, but I should be lacking in my duty if I refrained from saying. that it is significant that the Commonwealth Government withheld any declaration of its intention to abandon industrial arbitration until anti-Labour governments were in control in five of the six Australian States.


– Does the honorable member think that this is part of a huge conspiracy.


– I do not know; but perhaps the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott) who made a flowery speech the other night, may be able to let another snake out of his bag, which would give us some information on this point.

Mr Abbott:

– As a matter of fact the Labour Premier of Western Australia accepted the proposals of the Prime Minister.


– He had no opportunity to do anything else. He was in the same position in this connexion as in respect to the Financial Agreement. The Prime Minister went to the Premiers Conference and asked, “Are you fellows prepared to surrender to the Commonwealth complete control over industrial affairs?” The State Premiers replied, “ No ; we are not “. The Prime Minister, with a wave of his arms, then said, “ Then I am swimming out “. The Premier of Western Australia would certainly not agree to the granting of complete industrial power to the present Commonwealth Government for he has no confidence in the ability of the Government to exercise such power wisely. The Treasurer suggested tonight that the Labour supporters of Australia were responsible for the rejection of the last referendum proposals. That is not so. Unfortunately, Labour polled a minority of votes at the last election. Thousands of Nationalists as well as hundreds of thousands of Labourites were not prepared to grant unlimited industrial power to the present Government, and so it was withheld.

If this bill is passed, I should like to ask what the Government would do in the event of an interstate railway strike occurring? Such a dispute might occur at any time and it could cause incalculable injury to the nation. It would soon reduce trade and commerce to chaos. If the Government throws, away the indus trial power that it now possesses it will have to stand with folded arms in such a situation.

Why is there the need for such unseemly haste in dealing with this bill? When the Attorney-General introduced the amending Arbitration Bill in December last, he allowed the discussion of it to stand over for two or three months in order that honorable members might thoroughly familiarize themselves with the measure. But we are now being asked, after a few hours’ consideration, to abolish the whole of our industrial machinery, which has been constantly improved since 1904. The Commonwealth system of industrial control was born in the minds of great men like Charles Cameron Kingston and Alfred Deakin, and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), with his wide knowledge of industrial affairs, did u great deal to improve it. Now a dilletante Prime Minister wants to shuffle, out of this important field of Commonwealth activity because his dignity has been hurt by reason of the fact that he has made a mess of things. The right honorable gentleman has told us that Australia is in a perilous economic position, and that she is, in fact, facing ruin. But, what are the facts ? An examination of the Commonwealth Year-Booh, which is compiled by an independent authority, shows that the value of Australia’s production increased from £184,00u,000, in 1911, to £446,000,000 in 1926-27. No doubt the rise in prices in the years following the conclusion of the war contributed to some large extent to this huge total; but the increase has been consistent all through, taking the good years with the bad. In the year 1924-25 the total was £8,000,000 higher than in 1926-27. That was accounted for by the fact that in 1924-25 our production of’ wheat and wool was valued at £24,000,000 more than in 1926-27. We know that in some of our industries seasonal conditions play an important part. We are likely to have a bumper crop one year and very little the following year, although the workers put in the same amount of labour. Unfortunately in our Mallee districts this year, there will be practically no crop. But this is not the fault of the workers, who are engaged principally in manufacturing concerns. My figures would not convey very much, possibly, unless the relative productivity of the nation was also considered. To ascertain the real position, we must compare to-day’s production with that of pre-war years on a pre-war basis. The index figure for the year 1911 on this basis is given in the Year-Booh as 1,000, and in the year 1926-27, it is given as 1,008. These figures show beyond question that the workers have been doing their shareto bring about the increase in production. That is a refutation of the suggestion that Australia is “ going to the dogs.” On this occasion, as on many others, some honorable members opposite are prepared to defame the workers of Australia, and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) is the arch-offender in this respect. It is disloyal to lead people abroad to believe that Australia is a land of strikes. While our association with Great Britain is valuable, so far as trade is concerned, and while we appreciate the heritage handed down to us, we as Australians have a task that transcends . all others, and that is the work of developing our own country. The Attorney-General stated not long ago that those who called Australia a land of strikes did a grave disservice to this country. He did not repeal that observation during the present debate, but the Treasurer has shown a readiness to defame his country to keep political place and power. Such statements do more to harm Australia than any others, and instantly undo any good that may result from heavy expenditure on advertising propaganda.

It has been frequently said, and just as often conveniently ignored, by honorable members opposite, that during a period of years up to 1927, the working time lost through strikes in Australia was not three quarters of a day per workman, whereas in Great Britain, the loss amounted to two and a half days per man. Does the Treasurer speak of England as a land of strikes on that account? But the Treasurer is prepared to defame the workers of Australia, who lose only one-third of the time lost in the Old Country through industrial disturbances.

Mr. Wickens, the Commonwealth Statistician, points out the following interesting facts : -

A great deal of erroneous deduction has been made from the figures published in connexion with industrial disputes, more especially in regard to “ No. of disputes occurring “, due in large measure to the inability of the Bureau to publish within the narrow limits of an official publication full details of the “ causes “ of the bulk of these disputes. A close analysis of the returns, however, discloses that the vast majority is due to causes which amount to nothing more than pure difference of opinion between workers and management on the questions at issue, and is only capable of settlement by the parties themselves, although in the case of a protracted dispute common sense or economic necessity often dictates the appointment of an outside mediator to settle the trouble. The number of disputes settled by “ direct negotiation “ is thus largely explained.

The Commonwealth and State Arbitration Tribunals have covered by their awards all matters of wages and working conditions which it is possible to incorporate in such documents. The analysis referred to reveals the remarkable fact that only about 15 per cent. of the total disputes that occur touch questions which are either covered by awards or are susceptible to treatment by an arbitration tribunal.

The following typical causes of nonarbitral strikes under the several classifications referred to above will enable a proper perspective to be taken of these disputes, viz.: -


Wheeler left work owing to faulty horse and claimed for full shift.

) Payment of “ wet pay “ to wheelers.

Two wheelers on pit bottom demanded men’s wages instead of boys’, which applied.

Refusal of pay to four or five wheelers withdrawn from certain sections.

Payment for wheeling with long reins.

Contract wheelers demanded to be made up on a daily instead ofa fortnightly basis.

Hoursof Labour.

Objection to night shift.

Objection to overtime.

Smoking during working hours.

Variation of shift times.

Employment of Particular Persons.

A new lad was placed in a superior position, and the boys on the job demanded the appointment of one of their number.

Refusal to draw cavil for three places, because one place considered unsafe.

Driver wanted a set rider put back on clipping.

Dismissal of two men for misbe haviour.

Refusal of manager to start man just released from gaol.

Working Conditions.

Shaft sinkers objected to supervision of master sinker.

Passenger crew refused to take coal to destination,

Additional assistance to wheeler.

Refusal to use explosive provided,

Defective compressed air jets.

Shortage of drinking water.

No less than seven other matters of thatkind, which are merely trivial, are referred to by the Statistician. Mr. Wickens showed that only 15 per cent. of the disputes were of a serious nature. The Government, I contend, have taken a wrong view of the present industrial position. Honorable members on this side have always held the opinion that, if men employed under a supervisor are found to be loafing, the fault invariably lies with the man in charge of them. Henry Ford has said that, if a strike occurs in any industry, it is necessary to “fire” the foreman. Those of us who have done heavy manual work, know that men will do 50 per cent, more work for a good “ boss “ than for a bullying foreman. Australians are the finest workmen in the world ; their output per head is larger than that of any other country, excepting the United States of America. In the latter country employers believe in paying higher wages; but they have a way of getting good work out of the men. Some firms have gone in for what they call the “new welfare movement,” and they recognize the benefit of treating the men on an equality with themselves. Thus they establish a community of interests that could not possibly be found between, say, the Prime Minister, carrying his stick and wearing his spats, and the workman on the roads in Canberra. A couple of Englishmen - Messrs. Austin, M.B.E., M.A., and W. F. Lloyd, M.A., A.M.I.E.E. - who went to America to discover why high wages were paid in that country and a big output obtained, came to this conclusion, which is set out in their well-known book, The. Secret of High Wages -

The only way to secure the maximum concentration of effort from a man is to pay him well, and this applies equally from the highest to the lowest engaged in industry. No business, on the other hand, can be in an economically sound position to pay high wages or salaries, unless its efficiency is high. High wages are, therefore, an index of efficiency.

Examples of enterprises are available in some of which wages are low, and in others wages are high. A careful examination into their conditions cannot but reveal the truth that low wages are accompanied by low efficiency, and high wages with good efficiency. In Great Britain, we find low wages in many coal mines and high wages in Coventry. To ask workers to accept less wages is merely equivalent to an attempt to reduce the firm’s efficiency.

The report of the industrial delegation that visited the United States of America in 1927 pointed out that the strikes which occurred in that country were never advertised; but the columns of its press are always open to receive the news that is broadcast from Australia of industrial troubles that occur here. Millions of days a year have been lost in the American coal-mining industry. I invite honorable members to read a newspaper called Labour, published in Washington, issued by the workers of America. They will then learn that those workers are continually fighting for more decent conditions. I quote the following from the report of the industrial delegation: -

Mr. Herbert Hoover (Secretary of Commerce) ; now President of the United States of America ; says that “ The American wage-earner has at his elbow 50 per cent. more power than any of his competitors. In consequence of this, his production is greater, his wage higher, and his physical strain is less than any other.”

In another part the report shows that in 1920 the union wage rates had an index figure of 199, while in 1926 it was 238, an increase of 33 per cent. Prices, on the other hand, dropped from 226 to 150, a decrease of 33 per cent., showing clearly that the sinister cry in Australia for a reduction of wages is not in the best interests of this country. The American employer recognizes that if a man is poorly paid he has not a very great purchasing power. It is significant that 90 per cent. of the production of that country is consumed by the wage-earners. That is made possible by the high wages they receive. This Government would make it impossible for the workers of Australia to purchase the few luxuries they are able to afford at the present time, and, by depressing trade, would bring about a state of stagnation worse than that which exists to-day. [Quorum formed.]


.- At the outset, I enter an emphatic protest against this method of dealing “with the most important proposal affecting the powers of the Commonwealth that has come before this Parliament since federation was established 29 years ago. It. is an outrage. The extent to which honorable members opposite will tolerate tactics of this nature is amazing. It shows that they lack political decency as well as argument.

It has been stated that one of the reasons for rushing through this legislation is the desire of the Government to burke the consideration of the report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, that is undoubtedly a reasonable conclusion. So far as the debate has proceeded, no cogent or substantial reason has been advanced for these proposals. Their introduction is but another illustration of the entire absence of consistency, stability, and fixity of purpose that has been so pronounced a feature of this Government, more particularly during the last two or three years. Political principles, constitutional powers, and all else are to be jettisoned to satisfy the petulant caprice of a Prime Minister who appears to be drunk with’ vanity and arrogance. During the last year or two he apparently has worn his faith in much the same way that he wears his clothes - ready to make rapid changes to meet changing circumstances.

Mr Abbott:

– Cannot the honorable member rise above that level?


– I hope that I shall be able to rise to a higher level than that to which the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott) has risen. He is not particular either as to the language he uses or the kind of political company he keeps. He finds himself to-day sleeping in the same political bed as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett), whom he attacked only a year or so ago, declaring, that he ought to be ashamed of his remarks. I am not, however, concerned with the political principles or standards of honor of the honorable gentleman, and do not intend to take serious notice of any interjection he may make.

The principal characteristic of the Government during the last two or three years has been its vacillation. Vacillation is usually regarded as evidence of weakness of character. To suggest that the Government has a mandate for this amazing legislative proposal is to insult the feeblest intelligence.

A refreshing feature of this debate has been the honest candour, and the high principle and courage on this question of the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell) in particular, and certain other honorable members opposite who have not been prepared to jump at their master’s bidding like tame monkeys. Other Government supporters have declared from a thousand platforms their adherence to the principle of arbitration; yet notwithstanding this, they are now prepared to jettison that principle at a word from the Prime Minister. Australia is asked, in effect, to accept the dictatorship of the Prime Minister. That is evident from the fact that his party was not consulted before he decided to bring forward this proposal. During the course of his second-reading speech the right honorable gentleman declared that he made it “ perfectly clear “ - that blessed verbal idiosyncrasy which serves in the absence of argument - that one of the principle questions on which the Government was appealing to the peopple? was the obtaining of “ peace in industry and a better understanding between the parties concerned.” He went on to say that he told the people that the “ Government would take any steps that were necessary to bring that about.” How can he claim to have been given a mandate for this proposal on such vague phraseology? That he does make such a claim proves that the Government will sink to any depths of political duplicity to justify the abolition of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Peace in industry is to be obtained by bringing about a condition of anarchy and chaos, and a better understanding between the parties is to be arrived at by placing the workers at the mercy of the organized employers. The right honorable gentleman feels that his excuses are scarcely adequate, and therefore threatens a dissolution, with the object of bludgeoning his rebellious supporters ‘ into an unwilling acceptance of the proposal. Any person who analyses his speech must agree with the honorable member for Fawkner, that it was one of the weakest that has ever been delivered in support of a legislative proposal by a leader of a Government. Recognizing that he lacks argument, the right honorable the Prime Minister takes refuge in the vague declaration of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) made during the course of a lengthy second-reading speech, in introducing the amending Arbitration Bill in 1928, that the policy of the Government in regard to arbitration would have to be reviewed if there was not a complete acceptance of the Government’s policy. It cannot be expected that notice would be taken of a single sentence abstracted from a lengthy speech; and stress has been laid upon the fact that during the election campaign such a declaration was conspicuous by its absence. If ever the Government had an opportunity to make perfectly clear its policy in regard to industrial arbitration, it was at the last election. They cannot claim that the matter was not brought forcibly under the notice of the people, because at the time, there was a dispute on the waterfront, and the Government’s arbitration policy was being challenged by a large section of trade unionism. The Prime Minister evidently feels that his reasons are inadequate, and goes on to say that no Government needs a mandate for its entire policy. No doubt that may be true in regard to minor issues; but that before the House is of paramount importance. By the greatest stretch of imagination no one can claim that a proposal of this drastic character is included in a general mandate given at an election. This proposal affects not only approximately 750,000 workers registered under the Federal Arbitration Court, but the economic well-being, security, and standards of living of, perhaps, 1,000,000 women and children. Ultimately about 2,000,000 persons will be affected by this alteration of policy. No one in his wildest dreams contemplated a change such as is now proposed. The provision for the exercise of federal powers in relation to industrial matters is one of the most vital matters in the Constitution. One of the things that led to the creation of . the Commonwealth was the desire to establish a measure of uniformity in industry, and to equalize the economic competition between the States. It was never contemplated that all the powers provided in the Constitution should be utilized by the Federal Parliament, and no one suggests that it is of vital importance to the economic well-being of Australia that every power contained in the Constitution should be exercised; but the industrial power affects the well-being of a large percentage of the population, and was included only after considerable argument and much controversy. It was placed there with the intention that it should be exercised. The exercise of our industrial power has been sanctioned for the past 25 years - since the first Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was passed - without any protest from the people or any suggestion that a change should be made. The abandonment of this field of legislation strikes a definite blow at federalism, and has been so regarded by the representatives of all interests in the community who are anxious to extend the federal spirit. It will also be condemned by good Australians who are anxious that this nation should carry on its work in the spirit in which its founders brought it into existence. The Prime Minister advanced reasons for the introduction of this measure in the same manner as a drowning man clutches at a straw. He contended that there is great urgency rendering necessary its introduction. One may repeat a question which has been previously asked, “ What is the motive behind this policy”? We are told that Australia is faced with a serious economic position, and obviously the inference to be drawn from the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General is that the Government is alarmed at the federal basic wage, which increases with the cost of living, so that the Government decides it must take action to reduce wages, lower the standard of living and increase working hours. The Government has not the courage to admit that this is part of its policy and attempts to obscure the real issue. Examining the real economic problem confronting Australia to-day, one is forced to the conclusion that it has been caused by mis-government on the part of the present Federal Administration. During the last six years we have witnessed an orgy of extravagance arising from non-productive expenditure. The Government has trifled with customs tariffs, has failed to check imports. The Government has failed to relieve unemployment and has failed to solve urgent national problems. It has not prevented a general rise in interest rates, and, generally, has failed to regulate the problems associated with industry. The Prime Minister, in addressing a meeting of manufacturers some days ago, referred to the necessity for rationalization in industry, and a reorganization of the methods of distribution. One might pertinently ask what the Prime Minister and the Government of which he is the leader, have done to grapple with these problems beyond talking about them. Industrial development is seriously affected and depression caused by unearned increment, over-capitalization in business and the absurdly high prices of property due to the actions of speculators. I shall quote later from a letter. I have received from Captain Lawrence, the general secretary of the Merchant Service Guild, not only because he directs attention to these obvious facts, but because he is the secretary of an organization which is not affiliated or in any way identified with the Labour movement. He is an officer of an organization completely detached from the Labour movement, and which possibly includes among its members thousands who support the Nationalist party, therefore his views should carry weight with Government supporters. In dealing with the economic problems of industry, Captain Lawrence points to the fact that the capital value of property in Sydney has increased approximately a hundredfold during the last twenty years. He refers to the ridiculous disproportionate increase in city property values; he shows how land in a suburb of Sydney has increased from £37 a foot to £400 a foot during the last five years. Factors such as these are responsible for our economic difficulties. To place upon the workers the full responsibility and add to their burden taxation imposed by increased output, lower wages and longer hours is obviously an act of class bias. One, in listening to the calamity howlings of honorable members opposite, would imagine that wages in Australia were excessive. It is interesting to note that the basic wage in Australia, founded on the Harvester judgment, was fixed after making provision for only bare necessities. It provided the lowest possible standard that could be prescribed. No provision was made iu computing the basic wage for luxuries for the workers. Consequently, there is extreme resentment in their ranks when any attempt is made to lower wages or reduce the standard of living. We hear quite a lot about the increase iu values. Statistics disclose that from 1901 to 1924 wages increased by 117 per cent., and the cost of living by 91 per cent. Real wages increased over a period of 25 years by only 13 per cent. On the other hand, rents have increased since 1901 by 116 per cent.; but nothing has been done to regulate dividends, profits or rents.

Captain W. G. Lawrence, general secretary of the Merchant Service Guild of Australasia, made the following observations in the course of an article recently published, replying to an attack on arbitration by Sir Mark Sheldon : -

During the war years and right up to 1922 (after which it became the practice of the court to insert quarterly adjustment tables) the cost of commodities other than labour rose 85 per cent., but labour did not rise until terrible losses had been sustained by the workers. Labour, therefore, did not set the land jobbers at work. Labour did not encourage the city property boomsters. Labour did not water the stock of public companies. Labour did not put the war prices on utility services and commodities. Labour did not double the interest on money. Labour inflated nothing, and it had to wait for years to be restored from time to time to the living wage. The share to labour in the wealth produced is no greater to-day, nor has it ever been greater than it was in 1907 - it is even considerably less, owing to the fact that the skilled worker to-day is receiving relatively a much lower rate than he received in 1907. If, therefore, Sir Mark is honestly looking for the cause of the high taxation he will seek it among his capitalistic friends, who turned the war into an opportunity to boost values.

I commend these utterances to honorable members opposite. They are not th? opinions of the wild communist they po often condemn, some class-conscious individual, or a member of the Labour party, but those of a gentleman who represents a middle-class organization of shipmasters and officers. He clearly indicates that, where sacrifices are concerned, it is generally the workers and the so-called middle-class, from whom the Government derive some measure of support, who are affected. A good deal of propaganda has been indulged in by members of the Nationalist party in connexion with the 44-hour week, iu which they declare the 44-hour week to be impracticable. A publication of the United States Labour Department sets out the scale of wages and hours of labour in American industries as at loth May, L928. In a great majority of skilled industries a 44-hour week predominates, ;md in many others the hours worked are 40 and under. The Prime Minister has sheltered behind the suggestion that a system of payment by results or piecework is a solution of our economic problem. In that connexion the Prime Minister is in disagreement with the views of many economists, who contend that the application of piece-work or a system of payment by results is not only difficult of application, but inflicts injustice upon the workers. The Arbitration Court has been reluctant to extend the piece-work principle, because of the dangerous possibilities associated with it.

It is, therefore, arrant humbug to ask this Parliament to consider this measure in a non-party spirit; it is apparent that the Government has been actuated by a partisan spirit in introducing it. It would appear that the gospel preached some years ago by the Single Purpose League is now being embraced by the Government. Let me quote the following, from a manifesto issued by the Metal Trades Employers Association : -

Industrial arbitration lias pampered the workers so that they have become bowelless tyrants and unmitigated ruffians. Away with it! Let us get back to the open economic ring.

Presumably that reactionary and vicious expression of policy summarizes the attitude of the present Government, which has yielded to the pressure of those financial interests who are anxious to destroy the stability and tranquility which have prevailed in a great majority of industries under arbitration. It would appear that the Government policy has been based upon secret consultations between representatives of the Government and such organizations as the Metal Trades Employers Association. It is well known that private discussions have taken place from time to time between members of the Government and representatives of the employers, particularly in Sydney.

The Attorney-General has been reminded that he now finds himself in agreement with the dreadful “ reds,” whom he spent so much time denouncing during the last few years, and he quotes with gusto their statements in opposition to arbitration as a justification of the present action of the Government. He does small credit to his professional ingenuity when he shows himself unable to find better arguments in support of the Government’s policy than that. He quoted from an article writen by Mr. Arthur Rae which, perhaps, when analysed from a philosophical point of view, may contain elements of truth. The article quoted was to the effect that arbitration has lulled the workers into a sense of economic security. If it has produced that result it would surely be a good thing for the Government to continue the existing policy rather than abandon it. Perhaps it would be just as well for the Attorney-General to link, up with the Communist party, since he finds himself so completely in agreement with it.

It has been suggested that the States could deal adequately with industrial matters. The fallacy of that contention becomes apparent when we take into consideration the theatrical industry, and others with ramifications extending beyond the limits of one State. It seems evident that the change of attitude on the part of the Attorney-General is based, not upon principle, but upon expediency, and was arrived at after consultation with a section of the employers. It is interesting to quote, for purposes of contrast, the remarks of the Attorney-General made in the course of an address delivered in Wesley Church some time ago. He is reported as follows: -

One of the facts that people should consider when they talk about scrapping arbitration is that there are 140 unions registered under the Arbitration Act, 330.000 employees working under it, and 558,000 employees working under State awards. Any proposal to abolish industrial arbitration would produce chaos. Mr. Latham set out to answer the question, “ Should we scrap arbitration.” The subject should be considered on the high ground of principle, not of varying expediency.

Now principle gives place to expediency. He advances as an objection to the Federal Arbitration Act that the creation of disputes involved introducing a legal atmosphere. It is well known that the necessity for creating a dispute as a preliminary to conciliation and arbitration is to-day practically a legal fiction. The old difficulty has been overcome, and a dispute, for the purposes of the law, consists merely of a demand and refusal. The activity of the court is in no way impeded by this technical obstacle. The extent to which conciliation has entered into the settlement of industrial disputes is shown by the large number of consent agreements which have been arrived at in recent years, but which would never have been reached but for the shadow of a court in the background. The Attorney-General also made the remarkable declaration that there was no loyalty to the principle of arbitration among trade unionists. There is absolutely no ground for such a sweeping declaration. “With the single exception of the timber-workers’ dispute - and in that case much might be said for the attitude of the timber-workers - the industrial sphere in Australia presents nothing to support the Attorney-General’s statement, or to justify the change which the Government propose to effect. On the other hand it is a paradox that the maritime workers, who admittedly have been the cause of much industrial disturbance, are receiving a measure of protection under this bill.

Reference has been made to the failure of the people to pass the referendum of 1926. In that case the same impulsive action was taken by the Government as it i3 taking now. It rushed the questions before the people without any attempt to educate them upon the matter, and after having made it a party issue in the first instance in this House. No attempt was made to take the Opposition into the confidence of the Government in framing the proposals. The people re- fused on that occasion to vest in the authorities, which were to be constituted, the powers sought by the Government, and they refused because they did not trust the Government nor the authorities it proposed to create. The proper time to submit constitutional amendments to the people is at a general election when the people can, if they- so desire, change the Government and the Constitution at the same time.

The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) vainly asked why the report of the Royal Commission on the Commonwealth Constitution was not submitted to members before this bill was brought forward, so that they might consider it in relation to the Government’s proposal. His question is likely to remain unanswered. This bill deprives hundreds of law-abiding industrial organizations of legal protection. It destroys the federal organization of trade unions in much the same way as if the Federal Constitution was destroyed, and we returned to the old situation of State versus State. It takes away from those organizations which have loyally accepted arbitration, the protection of their legal charters. It nullifies industrial awards which it took trade unions thousands of pounds to obtain. It uproots a system of industrial jurisdiction which, though admittedly a fruitful cause of litigation in the past, has nevertheless now become stabilized as a result of High Court decisions.

This proposal, if carried through, will not only deny legal security to hundreds of thousands of wage-earners, but will also inflict injustice upon tens of thousands of so-called middle-class workers - clerks, actors, journalists, &c. - the majority of whom have supported this Government in the past. Those workers waited for a long time for the opportunity to obtain for themselves decent economic conditions. I speak with knowledge on this matter, because prior to being elected to this- Parliament,’ 1 was secretary of a clerical organization. I remember that when the living wage in the State of New South Wales was £3 a week, many of these clerical workers with fifteen or sixteen years’ service to their credit, were receiving only about 35s. a week.

The conditions prevailing in banks were shocking, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) knows well. Even eight or nine years ago the extent to which sweated conditions prevailed among clerical workers would astound honorable members. Now these lawabiding unionists, whom honorable members opposite profess to represent, are to be denied the protection of arbitration. Take, for example, the journalists, those men who play such an important part in moulding public opinion in this country. Until they received their award in 1916 from Mr. Justice Isaacs their conditions were bad, and their remuneration very low. The same thing might be said of the school teachers, and many other workers of that kind-

Mr Latham:

– The honorable member surely knows that school teachers do not come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court.


– -I am fully aware of that. They are under the jurisdiction of the State.

Mr Latham:

– And that applies to many of the other workers the honorable member has mentioned.


– The journalists are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. My remarks are directed generally to the defenceless position of this class of workers. Before arbitration was extended to them this class of worker was even more defenceless than were the wage-earners. The factor that led more than anything else to the revolt of the middleclass workers against their conditions, was the fact that when the basic wage in New South Wales was raised in 1918 from £2 15s. to £3 per week, those middle-class workers did not share in the increase. This led them to organize on industrial lines, and to deprive them of the rights they won through their organization will be a very serious matter from the point of view of honorable members opposite who look to them for support.

Here is what the secretary of the Merchant Service Guild has to say about the conditions prevailing in that industry before the institution of arbitration : -

Before the first Commonwealth award was made, the conditions of employment for masters and officers on the Australian coast were little short of slavery. There was no regulation of hours or overtime and officers frequently worked up to 120 hours a week. while 84 hours a week was about the average.

In the event of the Federal Arbitration Court being abolished there is no guarantee that the State industrial tribunals will be extended. The nominee and property franchise Upper Houses of the State legislatures constitute a barrier to the liberalization of existing State tribunals. We have already had a declaration from Mr. Bavin, the head of the New South Wales Nationalist Government, that it is proposed to reorganize the Industrial Court in that State. Queensland, under a Nationalist administration, proposes to do the same thing. In Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, the existing industrial tribunals are hopelessly inadequate, so that the positions of large sections of workers in those States will be very serious if this bill is passed. Middleclass workers will suffer the most.

If the bill is passed the stability of a large number of businesses will be destroyed, and confusion will be caused in manufacturing industries governed by federal awards. There is a marked disparity in not only the relative, but also the actual State basic wage which’ operates in the various States. I do not desire to quote the numerous opinions of judges on the desirableness of retaining the federal arbitration system, but the following statement which appears in a recently published book, The Fixation of Wages, by Mr. Anderson, an acknowledged authority on arbitration, is suggestive: -

It would appear that the case for the regulation of industries by State industrial authorities is not a very strong one.

Mr. Anderson argued the case from the point of view of the employers, and drew attention to many anomalies which exist under the present State law. As the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) stated, and as most economists agree, it is eminently desirable that the same authority should control tariffs and wages awards. If the protection of wages by the Arbitration Court is abolished, it would be logical to abolish also the protection accorded industry by the tariff.

One section of industry should not be protected at the expense of the other. It appears to me that the passing of this bill must bring about a reduction in our wage standards, for the federal basic wage will become a thing of the past. It will no longer exist in even the maritime industry, for the bill contains no provision for the fixing of a standard basic wage. Any interference with our economic standard of living must adversely affect price levels and rents, and so bring about economic disaster.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), in his speech on the bill, stated that it had only recently been decided that certain of the trade and commerce powers of the Commonwealth could be exercised in relation to industrial matters. It is a pity that the honorable member did not amplify his statement ‘ and indicate the way in which the decision to which he referred affected the power of the Arbitration Court. This bill has undoubtedly been drafted in a cunning fashion. It is designed with the object of preventing the acceptance of any important amendment at the committee stage. Some Government supporters are deluding themselves with the idea that they will be able to amend the bill in committee, but, you, Mr. Speaker, very well know, that amendments must be in conformity with the title and subject matter of the bill, otherwise they cannot be accepted. It would appear, therefore, that the Government is leading the House on to a veritable quick-sand of deceit, with the object of entrapping its followers. The bill is a political freak which will make confusion worse confounded. It will be useless as a means of preventing trouble, and must, inevitably, increase the irritation that already exists in the maritime industry.

The bill does not seek to vest exclusive control over the maritime industry in the Commonwealth, for its provisions will apply only to interstate ships and wharfs dealing with interstate and overseas ships. Intra-state ships and wharfs from which intra-state ships depart will be controlled by State awards. The wharfs from which overseas ships depart will be controlled by the federal authority. But this control will not extend to overseas ships such as those operated by the

Canadian-Australian and the AustralianNew Zealand lines. As a matter of fact, the bill is a hotchpotch of the confused ideas of a legal theorist. Ridiculous and absurd anomalies will be caused, for two or more sets of conditions will apply on the waterfront. Intra-state and coastal shipping will be subject to conditions which will differ from those applicable to interstate and overseas ships. How on earth such a system can be expected to bring harmony into industry, I cannot conceive. The measure must inevitably cause countless difficulties. The idea which some honorable members opposite seem to hold, that it will give complete plenary power over the maritime industry, is utterly wrong. It is quite definitely laid down in the bill that the Commonwealth authority shall be limited to interstate ships, and the interstate and overseas wharfs from which such ships are worked. The anomalies that must inevitably be caused by the system occurred to Captain W. G. Lawrence, secretary of the Merchant Service Guild, in Sydney, who wrote to the Attorney-General on the subject. But the only reply he received was that he should discuss the matter with the shipowners. Captain Lawrence then wrote to the Attorney-General in the following terms : -

Some of our members work part of a month in the interstate trade and part of a month in the intra-state trade, either on the same vessel or possibly on another vessel. Unless, therefore, their conditions of employment were common to both trades the gravest confusion would arise, particularly with regard to all those rights which flow from continuous service under one set of conditions. Another question is the difficulty of determining with any accuracy just when the vessel ceases to be interstate in character or vice versa. I foresee the utmost difficulty in preserving industrial rights to employees unless the conditions of employment are uniform for both State and interstate trades.

On the question of extending interstate provisions by means of State tribunals, here again there seems to be but the remotest hope that this will be possible. Not only has it to bc recognized that each tribunal has a large personal element about it, but the industrial laws in the various States are anything but uniform; for example, in New South Wales there is a 44-hour act. Your suggestion that the purely intra-state employers may consent to accept the interstate award will bc put to the test ; but I fear that there are even greater elements of difficulty here than would exist in an effort to secure uniformity by medium of all the State tribunals.

The inescapable prospect is that utter chaos, together with injustice to the employees, will take the place of the present peaceful and contented manner in which the industry is working, so far as my members are concerned.

It is to be hoped that the decision of the Government in the matter is not irrevocable, or that a closer examination of the situation will eventually convince the Government of the dire consequences of shattering the one piece of legislation which has promoted and sustained in almost every instance both industrial peace and industrial justice.

The Attorney-General replied to the following effect: - 1 suggest that you should approach the ship-owners direct, and suggest that your members will be prepared to work the intra-state trade upon interstate conditions if the employers will consent. I think that you will find that the employers will be prepared to welcome the suggestion.

The futility of such a scheme must be apparent to everybody.

I propose now to examine some of the principles of the bill. First of all, the definition of “ organization “ is ambiguous and unsatisfactory. No legal status is given to an organization. There may be a multiplicity of organizations, which can have no other effect than to cause a state of war in the industry. We shall undoubtedly have “ scab “ shop, or in this case, ship, organizations on the American plan. I have no doubt whatever that the object of this provision of the bill is to smash the power of the maritime workers’ organizations. There can be no other reason for inserting it. The powers proposed to be vested in the Minister also call for criticism. The administration of the measure will be semi-political in character. The Attorney-General will have a large measure of discretion in determining who may constitute the boards to be set up under the bill, for he will “have power to select the representatives. The organizations will be permitted to suggest the names of representatives, but the appointments will be made by the Government.

Mr Latham:

– The honorable member is in error in making that statement. The appointments can be made only on the recommendation of the chief judge. Suggestions may be made to the judge, who will recommend the appointments to the Minister.


– I may have misread the bill, but the inference I drew from it was that the Minister would exercise the power of appointment. The proposal to appoint the representatives for a period of three years is also open to serious objection. The fact that the proceedings before these committees will not be open to the public is calculated to undermine the confidence of the workers in the tribunal, as also is the fact that no viva voce, or verbal, evidence may be tendered. Then again, the committees will be empowered to take into consideration the probable economic effects of proposed awards. This will apply to even the basic wage, so that the protection which was accorded the basic wage in the amending arbitration act passed last year has been removed. Under this measure, not even the basic wage will be safe. This is worthy of comment, seeing that Sir Neville Howse, campaign director for the Nationalist party at the last election, made great political capital out of the fact that the Government had protected the basic wage from examination iu the light of existing economic conditions. The undoubted effect of removing this exemption will be that coolie competition and price-cutting in the maritime industry will determine the economic ability of the industry to pay a certain wage standard. Coolie competition will be possible because of the suspension of certain sections of the Navigation Act. Absurd anomalies will be caused because ships trading between Australian aud New Zealand ports, will not be subject to the control of the Commonwealth awards. As I have already said, the Canadian-Australian line will also be excluded from Commonwealth control.

It is interesting to notice how careful the Government has been to safeguard the interests of the employers. There will be no disclosure of the financial position of the shipowners, unless the court orders it. Clause 34 provides that before making any order for the disclosure of information and the production of documents -

The court shall consider the probable effect of any disclosure which would result from the order upon any trade secret or the financial position of any person.

How carefully is the interest of the employers safeguarded in every direction.

It is provided that the present judges of the Arbitration Court shall constitute the Maritime Industries Court. The Government has been hard put to it to find positions for the Arbitration Court judges, but it is not justified on that account in incurring the heavy expense that will be entailed in setting up the overmanned Maritime Industries Court. The judges of the Arbitration Court draw £11,500 annually in salaries, and the other expenses of the court amount to £15,500. The total cost of the court is, therefore, £26,000 annually. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Collins) elicited the information, in reply to a question, that it was anticipated that the passing of this bill would result in a saving of £10,000 per annum. I challenge the Attorney-General to indicate how that saving will be effected, seeing that more than half the cost of the present court will be spent on salaries to the members of the proposed Maritime Industries Court, and a good deal of the balance of the £26,000 will be spent in salaries to the conciliation commissioner and his staff. The principles upon which the bill is based are calculated to promote industrial unrest in the maritime industries, and it would appear that the Government is determined to take a retrogressive step rather than a step forward. It fails to realize that in the present age education is a potent factor in industrial unresn The workers are not prepared to ‘accept a lower standard of living than they now enjoy, and the Government, instead of talking about destroying . that standard, should direct its attention to its improvement. Ministers are like so many political beggars on horseback, riding to a hell of chaos and industrial anarchy. Many members on the Government benches have climbed into power on the votes of trade unionists^ who believed that they stood for arbitration and the basicwage principle as set out in the Nationalist policy. But to-day those workers find themselves basely betrayed by the introduction of this legislation, for which there is no mandate from the people. This is an act of political treachery and cowardice. It is a political confidence trick.


– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.


– I withdraw it, and say that the tactics of the Government in regard to this bill indicate a measure of artifice and ingenuity, in endeavouring to justify its actions, that is unprecedented in the annals of this Parliament.


.Immediately after the conference held in Canberra in May last between Commonwealth and State Ministers, the Australasian Council of Trade Unions announced its decision to launch a campaign throughout the Commonwealth as a protest against the proposed partial abolition of federal arbitration. During the last few weeks, honorable members have received letters and circulars from organizations in all parts of Australia containing strong protests against the bill. Many of the resolutions mentioned are framed in practically the same words, which suggest to me that the communications are not forwarded voluntarily, but under pressure from the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. At the May conference, the Prime Minister discussed many matters of vital importance to the people, and particularly referred to the presence of two systems of Commonwealth and State arbitration. In placing the matter before the conference he said -

The Commonwealth Government, as a result of the considerations which I have submitted to you, is definitely of opinion that either extended powers must be conferred upon the Commonwealth, enabling it to exercise sole control in industrial matters, or the sole responsibility must be assumed by the States.

It has been recognized for many years that there has been considerable difficulty in beneficially administering the present, act.

I intend briefly to trace the attempts made by various governments to improve the position. It has been claimed by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that he launched three referendums. Certainly he was the Attorney-General in the Fisher Labour Government in 1911 to 1913, when the people were asked to amend the Constitution to confer additional industrial powers on the Commonwealth. In 1919 the Hughes Nationalist Government made a further appeal to the people; but, unfortunately, they again refused to grant the increased powers asked. It remained for the Bruce-Page Government in

L926 to make the next appeal to the electors. It is absurd for the right honorable member for North Sydney to claim that the referendum of 1926 was not taken in the best of faith. He complains that there had not been a sufficiently active educational campaign to induce the people to realize the great importance of this matter. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) agrees with the right honorable gentleman, and he asks that the people should be appealed to on a fifth occasion, claiming that if they were, they would probably grant the increased powers. The honorable member for Reid remarked that the people had not been sufficiently educated on the matter; but the fact remains that on four occasions the electors refused to grant these increased powers asked for, by referendum, by the Labour and National Governments. [Quorum formed.] The present time might be opportune for a further appeal, because of the wide interest that has apparently been caused by the campaign announced by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. It is on record that the Prime Minister on no less than five occasions has endeavoured to meet the difficulties surrounding the administration of the Arbitration Act. In the first place, he launched a referendum and a great deal of expense was incurred. All the Ministers and members of the Nationalist party, and to some extent members of the Labour party, conducted a campaign throughout Australia, and every attempt was made to ensure its success; but unfortunately the proposals were defeated. A second attempt by the Government, and by the Prime Minister in particular, was made when a special delegation was sent to the United States of America to study the industrial conditions there. On this body all the conflicting industrial interests were represented and no expense was spared. Every possible assistance was given to the commission, both in Australia and America; but, unfortunately, there was not that co-operation that we were entitled to expect among the members of the commission. Separate reports were forwarded to the Government, and little notice was taken of them, because of their divided nature. Even then the Prime Minister did not despair. He made a third attempt to improve the position by summoning a peace conference. Invitations were sent to various organizations throughout the Commonwealth, and it was expected that these bodies of both employers and employees would have sufficient confidence in the Prime Minister to pay him the compliment, at least, of meeting in conference and trying to arrive at an agreement. It is extremely regrettable that the Australian Workers Union, one of the strongest labour organizations, refused even to send delegates to the conference. It meant that the Prime Minister was again unsuccessful in his commendable efforts to improve the relations of the opposing sides in industry. The .fourth attempt took the form of several important amendments to the Arbitration Act which were expected to improve its administrative functions. This effort has not been successful. His fifth proposal was made when he appealed to the State Governments’ representatives at the May Conference to surrender voluntarily the powers that the Commonwealth needed to enable the Federal Arbitration Court to function properly. In the course of this appeal, the Prime Minister said -

The Commonwealth Government has arrived at the definite conclusion that the present duplication of powers iu the Commonwealth and the States is not only unsatisfactory in principle, hut in practice, it is responsible for serious economic waste and for irritation of personal relations between employers and employees. The present duplication imposes grave handicaps upon Australian industry, both primary and secondary.

It seems to me that the attitude of the State Governments should be placed on record in Hansard, The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) said that there was no guarantee that the States would provide compulsory arbitration for the workers if the Commonwealth withdrew from the field. Before one can decide that matter,’ I think that it will be necessary to study the report of the May conference, and see exactly what attitude the States took. The Acting-Premier of New South Wales stated that his Government was not prepared to transfer full industrial powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. Sir William MacPherson, the Premier of Victoria, said : -

As to the vital question of the arbitration system, upon which the Prime Minister has dwelt) I say frankly that my Government could not recommend to the State Parliament that full power to legislate in regard to industrial matters should be handed over to the Commonwealth. If, on the other hand, the Commonwealth Government, after these years of trial, secs fit to stand aside and allow the States to deal with their own industrial affairs, we shall be quite prepared to accept that obligation. As one who has had some 30 or 40 years’ experience in business, I say that the operation of the Arbitration Court is solely responsible for the way in which we are suffering, both industrially and financially, in Australia to-day. So far as industrial legislation is concerned, we are quite prepared to shoulder the burden and to deal with our own people.

The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) has claimed that the arbitration system in Queensland is more satisfactory than that of the Commonwealth, and :.hat under it the timber workers’ strike would have been settled long ago. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) replying to an interjection by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill), said that the shearers in New South Wales struck for the higher rates of wages that were being paid in Queensland under a State award. Those expressions of opinion show that in at least one State there is an excellent system of arbitration that should make a highly satisfactory substitute for the federal system. In Queensland, only 24 federal awards were in force on the 22nd August, 1929, compared with 252 State awards and determinations that were in force on the 31st March, 1929. I particularly wish to show the attitude towards this proposal of the Premier of Queensland, because he has taken exception to some statements that have been made by representative leaders of the Labour party. At the conference held in May, he said -

The most important of the questions to engage our attention is, perhaps, that of our industrial relations. I personally should have preferred the Commonwealth Parliament to have been accorded by the people of Australia the right to take over the whole field of industrial legislation. Had that been done we should not now be suffering the disadvantage of having different systems operating in the various States. Under these varying systems, competition in certain industries has become very acute, and has rendered almost impossible the successful carrying on of some of them. T realize that the position to-day is difficult, and rather than have over-lapping systems of arbitration, I should prefer the States to manage their own industrial affairs.

Queensland recognizes that the shackles on industry must be removed. I am perfectly frank. Where there is responsibility there must also be authority.

The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) argued that the South Australian Government is opposed to the principle of arbitration, and that there is no guarantee that the States can make provision for the settlement of industrial disputes. The first of those allegation? is disproved by the following statement made by the Premier of South Australia at the May conference -

The Prime Minister dealt with the subject of industrial laws. I say frankly that my Government would not recommend to the South Australian Parliament that the field of industrial legislation should be wholly transferred to the Commonwealth. I do not take that attitude because of any petty reason, or because I think that the Commonwealth Government could not deal with the problem, and would not do what it thought best in the interests of the States. But we are convinced that most of our industrial troubles are local, and that because of .geographical and geophysical differences, it is almost impossible to make a common rule for the various States. We realize the responsibility that will be thrown upon us if the Commonwealth relinquishes the greater portion of its control of industrial affairs.

It will be seen that the South Australian Government fully realizes the responsibilities they will be called upon to bear, and are prepared to shoulder them. There is only one other Premier whom I desire to quote, and his opinion should carry weight with honorable members opposite. .1 allude to the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Collier, who said -

I should be inclined to restrict the activities of the Federal Parliament rather than to extend them. [ admit that there are some industrial questions over which the Commonwealth should have control, and they would be questions of common interest or concern to al] the States. It would be possible, of course, for one State to fix, by legislation, wages and working conditions that would operate to the disadvantage of competitors in other States. I would not advocate that the Commonwealth Parliament should vacate altogether the field of industrial legislation, but in the main I should prefer it to be controlled by the State Parliaments. I should feel somewhat diffident about asking my Parliament to hand over to the Commonwealth complete industrial powers. Our people would be quite willing to undertake the responsibility of setting up industrial tribunals to replace those that are now controlled by the Commonwealth.

When he had heard those expressions of opinion the Prime Minister thought it was his duty to tell the State Premiers where the Commonwealth Government stood. Iu the course of a very able speech he showed the disadvantages under which the Commonwealth was working, and referred to the many efforts that had been made to remove difficulties. He summed up in these words -

The Prime Minister then stated that if all the State Governments had concurred in recommending the transfer of full industrial powers to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Government would have been prepared to assume full responsibility. The position was, however, that all the States concurred in refusing to take such action. He had already explained that the Commonwealth Government was not prepared to remain in the field of industrial legislation unless full powers were transferred. He, therefore, announced that the Commonwealth Government would submit to the Commonwealth Parliament proposals for the repeal of Federal legislation on industrial arbitration, subject to transitional provisions for the continuance of Federal awards and agreements for a period sufficient to enable the States to assume full control. The Commonwealth Government proposed to retain control in shipping and waterside industries where the Commonwealth Constitution conferred sufficiently extensive powers to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to handle the questions arising.

Lt cannot be said that action was taken hastily. The Government can claim to have explored every avenue for a way out of the difficulty in which they found themselves. In all the circumstances, honorable members on this side at least will agree that the action taken was perfectly justified.

The National party, as a whole, does not believe that industrial arbitration should be abolished. So far as the workers are concerned, it will not be abolished, and they will not be left at the mercy of the employers. There are two sections in Australia which the National party wishes to discourage. One is the old-time Conservative, who would submit the workers to long hours of employment and low rates of wages; and the other is the extremist, who is continually preaching class hatred and fomenting industrial strife. [Quorum formed.] If any person wishes to be given an illustration of the attitude of the National party as a whole, he will find it in a few sentence? uttered by the Prime Minister during a recent visit to Queensland. He then said -

I am not trying to destroy the trade unions of this country. What I am trying to do is to protect them. I am convinced that unions are part of our social system, and are essential to the welfare of the Commonwealth. Unionism must stay, but it has to be a trades unionism controlled by the workers themselves, and not by a few extremists. Honorable members who sit on this side support that statement. If they thought that the workers would suffer as a result of the partial withdrawal of the Commonwealth from the field of arbitration they would vote against the bill. But they are not of that opinion. Tens of thousands of workers in Australia are working peaceably under awards of the federal court. We submit, however, that they will be equally well provided for by State tribunals. I have already quoted the honorable member for Herbert in confirmation of that assertion.

Mr Forde:

– He was referring to the existing court, which is to be reconstituted.


– .The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) can rest assured that the present Government in Queensland will realize its responsibilities, and I am sure that the court will be reconstituted in a manner which will not in any way injure .the workers. The Australasian Council of Trade Unions is, doubtless, responsible for the present agitation against the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court, as that organization has passed resolutions which have had the effect of injuring the confidence of the workers in the Commonwealth court. It cannot be denied that this organization was supporting the timber workers in their defiance of the award of the Arbitration Court. On one occasion a representative of that body said that it was inconsistent to pretend that the Commonwealth arbitration system was operating in the interests of the workers. A further illustration of the attitude of organized labour towards the court is contained in the statement made in Perth by Mr. Grayndler, the secretary of the Australian Workers Union, as reported in the Worker on the 21st May, 1928, in these -words -

He was confident that practically all the unions which have federal awards at the present time will have nothing more to do with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court as soon as the awards expire. .

He further said -

For some considerable time there has been disquietude in industrial circles at the manner in which the Commonwealth arbitration was being influenced politically, and at the convention of the Australian Workers Union, held in February last, it was decided that even the pastoral industry brandies of the union should be authorized, if they so desired, to apply for State awards.

These statements confirm the attitude of Labour organizations generally.

When the Commonwealth arbitration system was originally instituted it was said that the workers were expected to obey the awards, and that it would lead to the abolition of industrial warfare. Jurisdiction was to be confined purely to interstate disputes, but to-day disputes arising in any part of the Commonwealth are artificially made of an interstate character, and matters of purely State jurisdiction have been taken to the Commonwealth Court. Of course this unforseen development has led, as the Prime Minister pointed out, to a good deal of overlapping. There has been conflict between Federal and State authorities and general industrial confusion. This has undoubtedly hampered development. At a conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, held in July, 1927, it was stated by a delegate that the Commonwealth arbitration system was detrimental to organized labour. Resolutions were passed in which it was declared that a perpetuation of arbitration was against the best interests of the Commonwealth. At another conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions held in 1928 the unions were recommended’ to withdraw from the Federal Arbitration Court. Senator Rae, whose name has already been mentioned in the debate, wrote an article headed “ The Curse of Compulsory Arbitration,” in the course of which he said : -

It is impossible to estimate the moral harm which has been done to the Australian working class by its hasty and ill-considered acceptance of arbitration as a solution of labour’s problems.

All these quotations clearly show that there is a general objection to the present arbitration system and that the opposition now being shown to this measure is purely a political move. Doubtless the members of the Opposition would like the Prime Minister to apply the closure so that they could use such an act for political purposes; but the right honorable gentleman has assured honorable members that the debate may continue so long as they desire. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) in speaking on the Transport Workers Bill in this House, said -

We, on this side of the House, and the trade union movement outside, are willing to admit full responsibility for any breaches’ of the law that may be committed. Such laws as those passed by the Bruce-Page Government, dealing with industrial matters, are unworthy of observance. There is not sufficient accommodation in all our gaols to hold the people who are committing breaches of the industrial laws passed by this Government. Recently the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, a body which is truly representative of the trade unions of Australia, decided to sever all connexion with the BrucePage Arbitration Court.

The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), in speaking to the same measure, said -

Ever since 1021, Labour has felt that the Arbitration Court has been only partially fulfilling its true functions. At lie Labour conference held in that year, it was resolved that it would be desirable to replace the court by industrial councils on which both the employers and the employees would be adequately represented.

The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) contended that the Arbitration Act was a travesty on arbitration. All these statements clearly show that there is a very marked difference of opinion among honorable members opposite as well as among certain Labour organizations. The statements I have quoted represent the true attitude of labour towards Commonwealth arbitration. The members of labour unions approach the Commonwealth Court when it suits them and the State Courts when they think they can obtain better terms. We heard unrestrained and relentless criticisms of the court before the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention to abolish it, but since that announcement has been made it would appear that its former opponents are anxious to prove what a friend it has been to organized labour. I am strongly of the opinion that it is the definite policy of the Labour party to refrain from assisting in any system of co-operation between the employers and the workers. Many unionists make no secret of the fact that it is their desire to destroy the present economic system. They are making every effort to render the investment of capital unprofitable and every hold-up in industry is a step in that direction. Honorable members on this side stand for conciliation and arbitration in the settlement of industrial disputes, and for the maintenance of the necessary safeguards to ensure the payment of reasonable wages and decent working conditions. Until the people are prepared to give the Commonwealth the necessary power to enable the Commonwealth Court to function effectively it is not unreasonable to ask the States to undertake this responsibility. It cannot be said that the Government has neglected to explore every avenue in an endeavour to secure peace in industry. On five occa-sions it has tried to find a way out of the difficulty, and that is the best recommendation of its sincerity in this instance.


– In submitting this proposal for the abolition of federal arbitration the Government has committed an act of grave injustice to a very large section of the workers of Australia, and I regret that we should have to debate this measure at 3 o’clock in the morning. It cannot be denied that its object in introducing this measure is to facilitate a general reduction of wages in Australia. It will be acting in collusion with the Nationalist Governments in five of the six States, which will reconstitute the existing State courts in such a way that the workers will receive a set-back from which they will take a long time to recover. In the matter of arbitration and a general improvement of the workers conditions the Labour party has a very creditable record. Before the advent’ of the Labour party employers believed in the old system of freedom of contract under which the workers were reduced to a state of poverty and were compelled very often to accept “ tucker “ for services rendered The Labour movement is most progressive. It has always endeavoured to assist in improving the laws, and in modifying the power of oppressors throughout the world. It has ameliorated the conditions of living of the great majority of those in the countries in which its influence is felt. Although we may not be successful in preventing the passage of this bill, a day will come when the Labour Government will again be in power, and be able to’ re-establish federal arbitration. Then why should the Government cause this dislocation ?

The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) said that the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Moore, was not opposed to the repeal of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In this connexion, let me quote something which appeared in the Brisbane Courier of the 1st June, clearly setting forth the Premier’s views. It is headed, “ Industrial laws - Premier’s conflicting views - Mr. Moore against repeal.” Then appears the following telegram, sent from the Courier’s Sydney representative : -

The, Premier of Queensland (Mr. A. B. Moore), before he left for Brisbane, said that he opposed the repeal of the federal arbitration legislation when it was under discussion at the Premiers’ Conference at Canberra.

I venture to predict that within ten years there will be a return to the federal system.

Mr. Moore knows well that there will later be in power a Federal Government that will te pledged to re-establish federal arbitration.


– And much earlier than he predicts.


– I believe so, too. The Government knows that even its own supporters are deserting it on this question. No one can accuse the Melbourne Age of being a Labour newspaper; nevertheless, this statement appeared in a recent issue -

An institution which has become an integral part of a nation’s life for a generation is not to be tampered with hastily, petulantly, or in a period of panic or industrial pessimism.

The Age realizes that in this bill a blow is being struck at approximately 750,000 workers throughout Australia. The Government has done much to destroy the confidence of the workers in the federal arbitration system by its constant tinkering with the act, and by appointing to the bench judges who are known to have definite Tory tendencies, and even to have held such a position as president of an employers’ organization. By its penal and industrial laws the Government instituted a reign of terror against the workers. It imposed heavy penalties against unions and officials-

Mr Paterson:

– The penalties were decreased.


– The honorable member knows that the penalties were increased, and that they were inflicted upon trade union organizations and trade union officials, but it was a different matter when it came to the prosecution of John Brown.


– He contributed to the party funds.


– Perhaps he did. At any rate, he is a wealthy employerin New SouthWales. The law was put into operation very tardily against him, but even then, after the Prime Minister had been approached on the matter in Sydney, the prosecution was withdrawn. When, however, the Government was asked to withdraw the prosecution against Mr. Holloway, who was a sick man, it was said that the prosecution could not be interfered with, and that the law must take its course. He was fined £50, and would have gone to gaol except that some of his friends came to the rescue, and paid the fine for him. A fine of £1,000 was imposed upon the Waterside Workers Union, although this money had to come out of the pockets of the workers, who were not so well able to pay it as the wealthy John Brown would have been able to pay any fine imposed on him. In Queensland large sections of workers were afraid to come under the Federal Arbitration Court. While the Labour Government was in power in Queensland there was in existence one of the finest arbitration acts in the world, and the Arbitration Court meted out justice to both sides. That court, however, is not to remain in existence any longer, but to be reconstituted by the Tory Government. [Quorum formed.]

This Government is committing an act of political cowardice in seeking to evacuate the field of federal arbitration. It is a retrogressive step, and will, I believe, result in the defeat of the Government when next it faces the electors. Because the Prime Minister could not obtain full powers from the States, he proposes to hand arbitration entirely over to the States to deal with. That is not the act of a statesman, but of a man who is shirking his responsibilities. It is no wonder that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said that the news of the Government’s determination came to him as a great shock. We now find that the members of the Prime Minister’s party were not consulted before he arrived at his decision. It was stated in The Canberra Times that the AttorneyGeneral was so indignant at the Prime Minister’s action in withdrawing the prosecution against John Brown that he threatened to resign from the Cabinet, because his position would be untenable, and it would be impossible for him to administer the arbitration laws of this country. Apparently the Times had some inside information, because it went on to say that the only remedy was to repeal the Arbitration Act, so that the AttorneyGeneral would not have the action of the Government over the John Brown case thrown up at him every time he put the law into operation against the unions. The position of honorable members opposite who have spoken their minds in defiance of the Nationalist party machine is precarious, and I am reminded of thelines of Jane Taylor -

Though man a thinking being is defined,

Few use the grand prerogative of mind;

How few think justly of the thinking few,

How many never think, who think they do?

We know that these members will be disciplined by their party, and will probably have the Nationalist endorsement withdrawn. The Nationalist party has boasted that it gives its candidates absolute freedom to speak as they like in Parliament; yet the first time a few of its members exercise that right, they are excluded from party meetings and threatened with political extinction. The honorable member for Fawkner must have made some honorable members think seriously when he said that neither in the Governor-General’s speech nor in the policy speech of the Prime Minister before the last general election, was there any reference to the present proposal of the Government. Honorable members opposite who have had the courage to speak against the Government are the outstanding members of the Government party.

Most honorable members opposite know very well that this is a retrogressive step. If they were left to please themselves they would vote with the Labour party to defeat the bill. They know that their leader has made a tremendous blunder and that he is losing their confidence ; but they feel that they must vote for their party.

Honorable members opposite have contended during this debate that the Commonwealth arbitration system has failed because the awards of the court cannot be enforced, but they did not say that during the last election campaign. On the contrary they made a point of the fact that the Government had an arbitration policy which would compel both employers and employees to adhere to the decisions of the court. The campaign director of the Nationalist party in New South Wales, Sir Neville Howse, issued a book of notes for use by Nationalist speakers. The title page of it read “Commonwealth of Australia; General Election, 1928; Facts about the Bruce-Page Government; A handbook for the guidance of Nationalist party candidates and other speakers.” This volume was supposed to contain the facts required to make the Nationalist propaganda effective. One paragraph in it reads -

Provisions designed to protect the Court in the performance of its functions, and to secure the observance of awards and of the provisions of the Act.

There was no mention there of the alleged impossibility of enforcing awards. The book also contained the following paragraph -

Mr. Bruce (Prime Minister) epitomised the position in regard to trade union affairs in his policy speech before the 1925 general elections. He promised that industrial disputes would he brought more closely under the law and that to trade unionists would be restored control over their unions, their officials, their funds and their acts. He also indicated the strengthening of the powers of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and provision to prevent the duplication and overlapping of awards by Commonwealth and State industrial authorities.

But we are told to-day that the court must be abolished because of the impossibility of enforcing its awards. This story is different from that told to the electors. The fact of the matter is that the Government sought and obtained a mandate from the people to strengthen the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It certainly had no mandate to abolish it. The book also contained the following paragraph -

The following are the main principles embraced in the new Arbitration Act as brought in in conformity with that policy and passed: -

Preventing of overlapping between Federal and State tribunals.

The correlating of the awards of the courts with economic realities.

Development of a system of voluntary arbitration as distinguished from compulsory arbitration.

) The further application of the principle of conciliation.

Important improvements in procedure.

The responsibility of organizations for the conduct of their officers and members and for the general observance of awards.

Provisions relating to the rules of an organization, the audit of its accounts, and similar matters.

The principle of the secret ballot in order to give members of organizations control over their officers and the affairs of their organizations.

Provisions designed to protect the court in the performance of its functions, and to secure the observ- , ance of awards and of the provisions of the Act.

Now we are told that compulsory arbitration should be replaced by a system of voluntary arbitration in the maritime industry. With one voice the Government said “Return us to power and we will perfect our system of industrial arbitration.” The election having been won the Government said with another voice, “ The Commonwealth arbitration system has lamentably failed and must be abolished” Many people were misled into voting for Nationalist candidates. The Government promised to introduce an era of industrial peace by making provision for the enforcement of the awards of the court. The argument has turned out to be nothing but a political stunt. The Government succeeded in vamping the people into a state of political hysteria and so were returned to the Treasury bench.

The speech of the Prime Minister in introducing this bill must be put down as an admission of the dismal failure of the Government to carry out its arbitration policy. The right honorable gentleman now wants to hand the task over to some other authority. “When the AttorneyGeneral introduced the amending Arbitration Bill on the 15th September last he said -

There are 149 wages agreements filed in the court and under most of these industry is working peacefully and on the whole satisfactorily.

The Attorney-General did not at that time consider that the Commonwealth system of control had failed. A careful reading of the campaign notes of the Nationalist party prior to the last election fails to show that the Government had the slightest intention of abandoning the field of industrial arbitration. Speaking on the subject in December, 1927, the AttorneyGeneral said: -

The abolition of the court would not solve any problems; on the contrary, it would create new problems.

On the 28th April, 1928, the honorable member said : -

Those who say that arbitration has broken down are not acquainted with the facts.

At that time the honorable member was a great federalist, and he spoke as a champion of the Commonwealth system of conciliation and arbitration. He shared the views of the late Hon. Alfred Deakin, who, in the heyday of his political life, said : -

The ideal of the Constitution is equality and uniformity in all national matters. With that end in view, it prohibited the imposition of taxation in such a way as to discriminate between States or parts of States. The ideal can hardly be realized if uniformity of protection is coupled with wide diversity in the conditions of manufacture.

Effective and useful as State industrial laws have in many cases proved, their operation is circumscribed by State boundaries, and it can hardly be claimed for them that they do or can secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this, and the attempt to do it in the way that has been outlined is in fullest harmony with the federal aims and character of the Constitution.

What has happened lately to cause the Attorney-General to alter his views? [Quorum formed.] It is disgraceful that honorable members should be compelled to discuss this bill at 4.10 a.m. They could have been called together every day next week to debate the subject in reasonable hours. But the members of the Government need not imagine that by adopting these shock tactics they will wear us down. We shall fight the bill to the bitter end, although many supporters of the Government are asleep in other parts of this building.

If this measure is repealed the protection which 140 organizations and 400,000 workers of this country enjoy will be removed. If the electors were asked to determine whether the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should or should not be abolished I feel sure that they would give an overwhelming majority in favour of the retention of the court. In my opinion the Government has introduced this measure after consulting with the Nationalist Premiers of the States. This is a conservative action inspired by large conservative employers of labour and Nationalist leaders principally outside of Parliament, who desire to break down Australia’s standard of living. While we have federal as well as State awards, it is more difficult for Tory Nationalist Governments to lower the workers’ standard of living ; but with only State courts appointed by Nationalist governments, who would probably see that friends of the Employers’ Federation were placed on the bench, it would be an easier matter to bring about a wage cut and to increase the hours of work than if the Federal Arbitration Court were continued. I am sorry to say that a few Australian manufacturers do not realize that a reduction of wages would mean a reduction of the purchasing power of the ‘ great mass of the workers who are the main customers of shopkeepers and tradesmen such as drapers, butchers, bakers and fruiterers. In the United States of America high wages are favoured because it enables the people to be well fed and clothed, and thus money is kept in circulation. A wage-cutting campaign, which I fear is about to be launched, would be disastrous to the community. I believe that a large section of business men would be opposed to it. Only the Nationalist party and big conservative employers are in the forefront of this fight. The Melbourne Age, in a recent issue, made no secret of the intention of a large section of employers to use their heads with the Federal and State Nationalists Governments to bring about a general wage cut. It said: -

It is, however, no secret that their ambition is to get the whole system of compulsory arbitration discarded, and the old individualistic freedom of contract doctrine re-established in all relations between capital and labour - a shameless forcing back of the hands of the clock to the concepts of 50 years ago. . . . There are people who for profit would renew some at least of the appalling conditions that obtained in the early stages of the industrial era.

Prominent men such as Nationalist leaders, presidents of employers’ federations and of chambers of commerce, from one end of Australia to the other, have talked of the necessity for reducing the cost of production. - While they have not had the courage to state on the public platform that they favour a general reduction in wages, they admit in private conversation that in their opinion wages must come down. As long ago as June, 1922, the Prime Minister was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, in an article by the financial editor of that journal, as follows : -

Mr. Bruce, in his speech at the dinner of the Commercial Travellers’ Association gave evidence that he had entirely grasped the significance of the high costs of Australian production and the falling world prices in relation to Australian economy. Equally he burked the real issue, the necessity of more economical living on the part of the whole population of the continent . . . Part of the remedy is a reduction of wages. That is disagreeable, and is sure to be fought against . . . Yet an appreciable reduction in the cost of living cannot be brought about unless a reduction of wages takes place.

Since that date concerted action has been taken to produce an atmosphere suitable for a general cutting down of wages. We find that a deputation representing employers, recently waited on the new Minister for Labour in Queensland, Mr. H. E. Sizer, and requests were made to him as follow: -

A reconstructed Board of Trade, with fair representation for all interests.

Amending acts dealing with industrial matters to give the board discretion as to hours.

The elimination of the four Saints’ Day holidays and the substitution in their place of Anzac Day.

The amendment of the Industrial Arbitration Act to provide that payment by results on a fair basis shall not be prohibited.

These requests were preferred with a view to whittling away the conditions enjoyed by the workers of Queensland.

At some of the meetings of the EmployersFederation we find the arch priests of conservatism. Of course, there are exceptions, but there was an occasion in Queensland when the minutes of a big meeting of the Employers’ Federation reached the hands of Mr. Forgan Smith, who read them in the State Parliament, and their accuracy was never denied. That meeting was held at the Union Bank Chambers, Queen Street, Brisbane, on the 24th January, 1922, to determine what should be the future policy of the Employers’ Federation in that State in opposition to the request of the workers for improved conditions. At that gathering Mr. W. G. Thompson, from Rockhampton, now Senator Thompson - an estimable gentleman personally, but a representative of the “die-hard” conservative interests - made the following contribution to the debate: -

There is another aspect of the strike matter, and that is this. Have we any machinery able to provide for armed forces? Is there any machinery to-day by which you can put your hand on some reliable force to put against the forces of -


– Hooliganism.

General THOMPSON. - If you have a few regulars, it is wonderful what they can resist. I have seen 500 men in the shearers’ strike held up by 75 mounted infantry.

Of course, he meant that armed forces would be used in opposition to the demand of the workers. In dealing with some of the points raised, Mr. R. Bowen said: -

With regard to the question of an organized force, I say there is none, and I do not know that we would have. any chance of arranging any just now.

No doubt they had in mind the fact that there was a Labour Government in Queensland at that time, and it would not tolerate the employment of armed forces against the workers, as happened in the 1891-1894 strike, which was green in the memory of Senator Thompson. He was probably one of the leaders of the 75 mounted infantrymen who, he said, had kept at bay 500 men during the shearers’ strike. With the Employers’ Federation at the elbow of the Nationalist Premier in Queensland, the workers will not get the fair deal that they have rereceived up to the present time. The Rockhamption Morning Bulletin, a Nationalist newspaper, commenting on the statement by Senator Thompson, said -

General Thompson evidently had in mind the formation of an irregular force - not the ordinary force of the Crown which is at the disposal of His Majesty’s Government to maintain the authority of Government. They had in mind the formation of an irregular force which could be used to their own advantage. He wanted men of the type of the “Pinkerton Thugs,” who are a feature of industrial strife in America to-day.

According to the minutes of the meeting of the Employers’ Federation, to which I have referred, the president (Mr. C. W. Campbell) showed the influence that that association could wield with the Tory party ii? power. lie is reported as having said-

On many and many a night we have gone up to the House when the Liberal Government was in power and secured alterations in the legislation going through, which have all been for your benefit. (Addressing employers.) They were in touch with us all the time the tramway strike was on.

How could organized workers in Queensland place any confidence in a reconstituted arbitration court that would hear their appeals in that State if the bill were passed by the Moore Government at the dictation of conservative employers? Mr. Bowen at the meeting of the Employers’ Federation, said -

MTow we put through a Queensland Arbitration Act in 10.16, which to-day is thrashing ns right and left because it was not thoroughly altered during the “time when it went through the House, and because there was not a man in the House to closely watch it. . . We want to be in a postion to have money at our back, and to keep a man to watch our interests, and to pay for it.

Other evidence could be furnished of the hostility of the big employers to Arbitration Courts that have given the workers a fair deal. Mr. (now Senator) W. G. Thompson, who at the time was the President of the Central Queensland Employers’ Association, said in 1921-

I am personally not a believer in the Arbitration Court, certainly not as constituted in Queensland, and therefore regard our many defences put up here as simply efforts to prevent matters going worse with employers.

To-day he is prepared to cast his vote in another place for the repeal of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, and to place the whole of the workers of Queensland at the mercy of a State court in which he said he did not believe. The Queensland Pastoral Review, which is representative of all the big pastoral companies of the State, also is opposed to arbitration. In one of its issues it said -

To institute successful immigration, we must first burn our arbitration acts and abolish the basic wage and price fixing.

Doubtless some Tory pastoralists would reduce the wages by one half. I have shown what is thought of arbitration by the persons from whom the National parkin Queensland obtains funds to fight elections, and to whose representations any National government in that State must listen sympathetically. Even in his secondreading speech, the Prime Minister said -

The obvious answer to our problems is to reduce our costs of production.

I should like him to be more specific, and to have the courage to say, what he and every conservative leader in Australia to-day undoubtedly think, but fear to say, that is, that there should be a general reduction of wages. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) who was a Cabinet Minister for some years, was very definite in a speech that he made on the 2nd April, 1924. He then said-

I would remove the sugar embargo and do away with Arbitration Courts and high tariffs.

He would abolish all arbitration courts both Federal and State, and place the defenceless worker at the mercy of an unscrupulous, sweating employer, who, when there was a surplus of labour, would have, a man who had to support a wife and children working for 30s. a week or even less. That is what honorable members opposite stand for, but they have not the courage to say so. Another big employer, Mr. A. A. Simpson, C.M.G., past-president of the Adelaide Chamber of Manufacturers, in a statement published in the Adelaide Register oh the 14th May, 1928, said-

We employers are sick of being cited to the Arbitration Court.

They would prefer to be in a position to dictate what the workers should accept. It is not only manual workers who are appealing to the Government not to abolish the federal court. There are about 140 organizations registered in the court, including the Australian Journalists Association, the intelligentsia of unionism. Those gentlemen realize that it will be a very bad thing for them, and have sent a circular letter to every member of the Federal Parliament. One can see at a glance that it has been written by a trained journalist. They say of this proposal -

It will penalize our Association and members just as efficiently as if we had been deregistered by the Court for an illegal action. We shall be deprived of our character, and all our efforts for the last twenty years in building an Australian professional organization will be shattered by dividing our Association into separate and independent bodies.

They have advanced very good reasons why the court should not be abolished. Let us hope that they will use their pens to facilitate the advent of a Labour Government that will re-establish the federal court and restore to them the privileges that they say they will lose when the court is abolished. The Leader of the Government in another place (Senator Sir George Pearce) is a very responsible man in the councils of the National party. He has definitely linked the abolition of the Federal Court with a wage reduction policy. At a private meeting of the Western Australian consultative council, the head of nationalism in that State, he said -

There is no other way, and you recognize it. Wages must come down. We have discarded the Federal Arbitration Court and have instituted another system.

Mr Paterson:

– He has denied having said that. .


– He is reported as having said it.

Mr Paterson:

– The report is without foundation.


– That is the honorable member’s opinion ; but I have read otherwise. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) was most discreet when he visited Brisbane recently. But, reading between the lines, one can get some idea of the Government’s policy. On one occasion he said -

The Commonwealth Government accordingly desired to put in the evacuation of the arbitration field as its first contribution in the great campaign of reducing costs in Australian industry.

Later he said -

Until they got back to a 48 hours’ week they would not prosper as they should do. If the policy of a little more overtime and a little more night work were adopted in a national way, it would work miracles.

What did the honorable gentleman mean ? I believe he hinted at a possible reduction of wages and lengthening of hours. Does he wish to revert to the conditions that existed not very many years ago, and that I remember well, when men had to work from 6 in the morning till 6 at night, or from 9 in the morning till 9 at night? Does he wish to deprive the worker of the opportunity to enjoy his evenings in the family circle and have the companionship of his wife and children?

I say quite definitely that the Prime Minister insults the intelligence of every honorable member when he claims that he has a mandate from the people to abolish the Federal Arbitration Court. The right honorable gentleman was ludicrous when he referred to a speech delivered by the Attorney-General, in this Parliament in 1927, in which it was hinted that the Government would alter the constitution of the court if it did not work as they considered it should.

Mr Paterson:

– The expression used was “discontinue it.”


– If so, why was the repeal of the act not definitely proposed on the hustings, or at a meeting of the Nationalist party before it went to the country? Why was it not mentioned in the hand-book for Nationalist speakers prepared by Sir Neville Howse, the campaign director? He definitely advanced reasons why the people should return the Nationalists to power, one reason being that they had perfected the Arbitration Court, put an end to the overlapping between Federal and State tribunals and developed the system of voluntary as distinct from compulsory arbitration; in short, that they had made the court a perfect piece of machinery, and that there would be industrial peace and an end to strife and trouble. Does that look as though the Government was seeking a mandate for the abolition of the court? It is evident that at that time they had no intention of abolishing the court. The Prime Minister was very emphatic in this House on the 28th May, 1926, when he said -

Some remedy must be found for the duplicating and overlapping of the two tribunals. The remedy urged by some persons is to abolish arbitration. I say that this is unthinkable.

On the 17th May, 1928, discussing the Arbitration Bill, the right honorable gentleman said -

Another suggestion was that only two industries - the shipping and shearing industries - were the affair of the Commonwealth. That, of course, is quite wrong. There are many other industries which are nation-wide in their ramifications.

He led the House to believe that he was opposed to the abolition of the federal arbitration system. The promises that were made to the people caused them to return the National party to power. They believed that the court was to be continued. Now, however, we are told that it is a matter of extreme urgency that it should be abolished, despite the fact that the Government has spent the huge amount of £17,000 - at a time when Australia is in a bad way financially as a result of the bungling of this Ministry - on a Royal Commission which they appointed to inquire into the Commonwealth Constitution and the best methods to amend it. In two days the report of the Commission will be before this House; yet we are forced to sit up all night to consider this important question. Honorable members should have been given ample time to consider it. If this measure is passed it will be to the everlasting discredit of the Government, and when the people are consulted the Labour party will be returned to this House with an overwhelming majority, and with a mandate to re-establish the Federal Arbitration Court.


.- The policy of the Government in abolishing the Federal Arbitration Court has been discussed from almost every angle but there are one or two phases of it which have not been stressed. I have always been under the impression that a Government was elected for the specific purpose of enacting constructive legislation, but in bringing forward such a measure as this the Government is undoubtedly guilty of a most destructive act. It is interesting to realize the circumstances in which the Federal arbitration system was brought into existence. When the first President of the Federal Arbitration Court, the late Mr. Justice Higgins, was the member for North Melbourne in the House of Representatives he is reported in Hansard of 28th June, 1901, to have moved -

That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient for the Commonwealth to accept full power to make laws for Australia as to wages, hours, and conditions of labour.

In speaking to the motion, the late Sir Edmund Barton, the first Prime Min’ister of Australia, said -

The grant of interstate free trade is likely to be crippled unless the Commonwealth has power to deal uniformly with .the conditions of employment throughout Australia.

Three years after the Federal arbitration system was launched, Mr. Alfred Deakin said -

To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of duties, while conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles is carried on differ so widely in the different States, would be to permit inequality, discrimination, and discord. . . . Effective and useful as State industrial laws have in many cases proved, their operation is circumscribed by State boundaries, and it can hardly be claimed for them that they either do, or can, secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this.

As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that, unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of protection must remain incomplete.

The utterances of those gentlemen showed that it was their desire to do something of a constructive nature, and whilst I disagreed in the main with their political views, I am sufficiently broadminded to acknowledge their statesmanlike action and utterances in the early days of Federal arbitration. On December 15th, 1927, the present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) said -

The abolition of the Federal Court would not solve any problem; on the contrary, it would create new problems without any satisfactory means at hand of solving them.

One wonders- if the gentleman who made those remarks is the same person who now occupies a seat in this Chamber, and who has expressed entirely different views. In August, 1927, the Attorney-General addressing a meeting of the Commercial Travellers’ Association in Melbourne, said -

In the Arbitration Court 149 unions are registered. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of unions which in recent years have struck or ceased work, whether by lock-out or strike.

It would be difficult to more adequately describe the principle of Federal conciliation and arbitration than it has been outlined by the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in speaking on an amendment of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act on 17th May, 1928, said - . . . Another suggestion was that only two industries - the shipping and the shearing industries - were the affair of the Commonwealth. That, of course, is quite wrong. There are many other industries which are nationwide in their ramifications.

The Attorney-General made these comments on 29th May of the same year -

The Arbitration Court, despite some defects in its machinery, which this bill endeavours to remedy, is to-day doing most useful and valuable work.

The Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson) said that, although Commonwealth arbitration legislation had been amended on twelve different occasions, the number of strikes was still increasing. But most of the amendments to which the Minister refers were made by the present Government, and the strikes which have occurred during recent years have been in consequence of the amendments which this Government has made. Most of the strikes are due not to our arbitration system, but to the unsympathetic manner in which the act has been administered by this Government. Reference has been made to the duplication of awards, much of which could be avoided, under a system of unification. We should avoid duplication of awards by a system of coordination. Abolition of the federal arbitration system would mean industrial barbarism; its abolition is supported only by those who prefer all arbitration, systems and legally endorsed industrial agreements to be eliminated. The Prime Minister may assume the role of a purist and say that he is concerned not with low tactics but with high principles, but his object is to mislead this House and the people of Australia. His somersault is inexplicable. In 1926, the need for federal arbitration courts inspired the various Ministers to glowing eloquence. To-day not one of them is pre pared to support the system. Political leaders with principles so elastic can scarcely expect to receive the support of a thoughtful public. Neither the Prime Minister nor his Government can produce an atom of evidence that the Australian people, particularly trades unionists, are desirous that the Federal Arbitration Act should be repealed.

Its repeal was not mentioned during the election campaign of 1928. For 25 years the federal arbitration system has operated with much success. Honorable members on this side of the House will readily grant that there has been an occasional failure, but on the whole it has done much very useful work. It has maintained working relations between labour and capital, and prevented grave industrial crises, which would certainly have arisen if there had not been a court to which an appeal could he made.

The defence of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General has been riddled through and through with controverting facts. During a period of 25 years the number of unions under federal jurisdiction has increased sevenfold, and now represents 80 per cent, of the organized workers of Australia. One hunderd and fifty awards of the Federal Arbitration Court are operative, and practically onethird of these met with the common consent of parties.

Is recurrence of strikes a reflection on the Court ? A brief analysis will explode such a theory. During the first twelve years of the court’s operations neither strike nor stoppage in industry occurred, and within the last eleven years only three interstate disputes have arisen in manufacturing industries. Labour was in control of the Treasury bench from 1910 to 1916, and during that period, our Arbitration Act was administered in such a way that only three strikes occurred. The Attorney-General said two years ago that it was out of the question to consider that the federal industrial machinery could be scrapped, the result of twenty years’ effort set aside, and industrial disputes left to the jurisdiction of some non-existent body. Is that the same Attorney-General who spoke in defence of the measure now before the House? One cannot expect any group of men to be intelligent at all times, but one can, and does, expect them to make an effort to be a little more consistent than this Government has been. Apparently the Federal Arbitration Court is to go because the Prime Minister and his colleagues, in the interests of somebody - I am not prepared to say whom - has decided that it must go. It seems to be part and parcel of a concerted attack on the wages and living conditions of the workers, not only in the Commonwealth, but throughout the whole civilized world.

Another reason for the retention of arbitration is that if State were set against State in granting arbitration awards the unscrupulous employer would make the resultant confusion serve his sordid ends. The type of employer who would make profit out of human beings still exists. There are some who would gladly get rid of the Federal Arbitration Court, solely as the stepping-stone to get rid of all arbitration courts and industrial laws. If the larger industrial safeguard were gone, it would then be much easier for these people to refute the State safeguards. The most powerful argument in favour of abolishing State courts then would be the precedent laid down by this Government in the abolition of this Federal Arbitration Court. The people are fully aware of this peril. They have a right to demand, before the Federal Arbitration Court is abolished, that they should be consulted. If they were, we on this side of the House are confident of the result. “We acknowledge that there are drawbacks to the existent system of industrial legislation, but we know that these would be indescribably greater if we drifted under the Government’s proposition back to industrial barbarism.

There must be some sound reason for the opposition of the workers to this proposal when their representatives are prepared to fight it in this House even in the small hours of the morning. They do not wish to lose the protection which they have enjoyed for the last 25 years. What are the causes of the workers’ present discontent which finds expression in wasteful strife, or in still more wasteful restriction of effort and output? The thinking worker makes five main complaints against the existing industrial system: -

  1. For all his toil it does not supply hi in, in most cases, with an income sufficient to give a comfortable livelihood for himself and his dependants, together with a margin for enjoyment and saving.
  2. Industry has failed to give ‘him security of livelihood, however eager and willing to work he may be; accident, a spell of sickness, or a shortage of work, due to no fault of his own, may at any moment throw him out of employment, use up his savings and inflict hardship’ and humiliation upon his dependants. Of all these menaces, unemployment is the most feared, and it inspires the belief that there must be something wrong with a social order in which, amidst flaunting luxury, such insecurity haunts the life of the worker.
  3. The existing industrial order denies him the status which seems proper for a free citizen. He may be dismissed at a week’s or a day’s notice, or even less, and thus deprived of his livelihood without redress or appeal, perhaps for no better reason than that he has offended an autocratic foreman. While, as a citizen, he has an equal share in determining the most momentous issues about which he may know very little, in regard to his own work, on which he has knowledge, his opinion is seldom asked or considered and he has practically no voice in determining the conditions of his daily life except in so far as trade union action has secured it. Indeed, where management is inefficient and autocratic he, the worker, is frequently compelled to watch waste and mistakes of which he is perfectly well aware without any right of intervention whatever, and this despite the fact that when these errors issue in diminished business for the firm concerned he, the worker, and not the management, will be the first to suffer by short time working or complete loss of employment.
  4. Knowledge of the financial results of industry and of the division of its proceeds is denied to the worker, and of this fact lie is becoming increasingly resentful. He has little means of judging to what extent he is in fact participating in the fruits of his own labors, or whether or no he is getting a square deal. Thus his dissatisfaction with the existing order is proportionately intensified.
  5. The worker believes that the products of industry are unfairly divided between capital and labour. That under the capitalist system society is divided into two parts; a small class of masters who own the means of production, or live luxuriously by owning them, and a huge class of workers who receive in return for their work only what they can force the owners by collective bargaining through arbitration channels and trade union movements to pay. He believes that under such a system there can be for his children no true equality of opportunity with the children of the more fortunate classes.

This bill, if passed, is calculated to breed in Australia something which the Nationalist party professes to be opposed to, namely, communism. The only alternative to arbitration is what the Communist party believes in, and to which the Nationalist party has now apparently been converted, and that is direct action.

The Labour party does not stand for it; we believe in arbitration, and particularly federal arbitration. Anyone who has the welfare of his country at heart will fight against the introduction of a system which is bound to create discord in industry. During every election campaign in recent years the members of the Government, through the press and from the platform, have tried to discredit the Labour movement by connecting it with the Communist party. Not one act of the Labour party, however, can be pointed to as being consistent with any part of the preamble to the Communist party’s platform, hut the Government, in bringing forward this measure for the abolition of arbitration, is doing exactly what the Communist party would do if it were able. The only thing the Government is consistent in is the inconsistency of its attitude towards the workers. The Government supporters say one thing on the platform, but practise another thing in this House through the legislative enactments sponsored by the Government. We have reached the stage when we must ask ourselves whether “arbitration is good or bad. I believe that arbitration, and particularly federal arbitration, can be proved to have done a great deal of good. Great stress has been laid upon the few strikes that have occurred under the federal system of arbitration, but not one word has been said about the many strikes that have been prevented as a result of the activities of the Arbitration Court. The Government must have some sinister motive in attacking the arbitration system. If arbitration is bad, why has it taken this Nationalist Government seven years to find it out? Whatever defects exist in our present federal arbitration system have been added to it by the various amending acts for which this Government is responsible, and the worst of these are the penal provisions which” the Government now admits to he ineffective. It is a peculiar thing that the ineffectiveness of these penal clauses was not discovered until they were directed against one of the employers. They were quite effective, apparently, when brought into operation against the waterside workers and the timber workers; but the employers, when they broke the law, were allowed to slip through the meshes in the legal net because it was said ‘that there was no evidence to substantiate the charge of a lockout.

Someone made the statement that this bill sounded the death knell of federal arbitration. It may, or it may not,’ but I am more inclined to believe that it will sound the death knell of the present National Government. The paramount issue at the next Federal election will be the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It is disgraceful that honorable members should be compelled to remain here all night to discuss this subject. We would not object to sitting in the House every day and night of the week to deal with such national problems as unemployment, the exploitation of foodstuffs and the manipulation of the money market. But to oblige us to debate this bill all night is unworthy of any government. This is class legislation in the worst sense of the word; yet honorable members opposite continually prate about the necessity for creating a better feeling between capital and labour, How can they expect anything but discord when such unjust laws are proposed? It appears to me that some honorable members opposite would deny the workers the right to live. To-day in practically every city of the Commonwealth there are workers and their wives and families on the verge of starvation. This adds to the iniquity of the Government in even suggesting the abolition of the Arbitration Court. We shall resist the passage of this bill to the last ditch.

Honorable members opposite have argued that it is necessary to reduce the cost of production in Australia; but why should they adopt the cowardly policy of attacking the bottom dog? They should go after the proprietors of the great monopolies of Australia and the banking combine.

Mr Jackson:

– I suppose the honorable member realizes that the price of money would be reduced if Russia would pay her debts to Great Britain.


– I know that if the honorable member for Bass would devote a little more attention to Australia and a little less to Russia this country might be better off. It is lamentable that in order to reduce the cost of production the Government should seek to rob the worker of a portion of the miserable pittance which he is able to earn to-day. The honorable member for Perth (Mr: Mann) observed that while the cost of living went up in a lift the wages of the worker went up the stairway. I suggest that the cost of living is going up in an aeroplane and that the worker is trying to reach it from a step-ladder. As a matter of fact the worker is never nearer than 33J per cent, to the cost of living. In these circumstances there is no justification for this concerted attack upon wages and working conditions. The position of the Australian industrialist is much better than that of the industrialists of older countries. Our wages range from 87 per cent, to 270 per cent, higher than the wages that prevail in some of the overcrowded countries of the old world. But unfortunately the huge imports that are allowed to enter Australia make it impossible for our manufacturing industries to expand as they should do. I challenge honorable members opposite to show their patriotism by helping us to lift the standard of living of other countries. That “would be a far better occupation than trying to reduce the standard of living in Australia. The cost of production is not increased by the wages paid to the workers. The country is suffering to-day from overproduction and under consumption. Our warehouses are full of merchandise while many of our people are unable to obtain the -wherewithal to keep body and soul together. If Labour had possession of the Treasury bench an effective financial policy would be put into operation. We should use the Commonwealth Bank as a means of stabilizing industry. This bank saved the country from bankruptcy during the war years, and it is capable of rendering other great services to the nation. The introduction of this bill is, in my opinion, part of a. general offensive, the object of which is to reduce the Australian worker to the standard of the coolie. Our workers do not receive real wages to-day. The small increases they secure from time to time are at once swallowed by the increased cost of living. The pound sterling of 1911 has a purchasing power of only lis. 3d. nowEverybody knows that if the worker loses a day during the week he is unable to pay his bills on the following Monday morning. This is a deplorable state of affairs.

I was interested and amused to hear one honorable member opposite draw attention to the number of days and amount of money lost by the workers annually through strikes. The honorable member did not say anything about the far greater losses incurred through unemployment. Many men are behind prison bars to-night not because they are criminals, but because they have been denied the right to work, and so have been unable legitimately to obtain food and clothing for themselves and their families. The percentage of working days lost last year through unemployment was 22.9 ; and the percentage lost through strikes was 1.5. There is every reason, therefore, why we should attack the unemployment problem. This Government is attacking the men who are unable to put up a fight for themselves, and yet Ministers would have us believe that they are statesmen. Bills of this description savour not of statesmanship, but of “vindictive tactics towards those who are least able to protect themselves. Compulsory arbitration, as honorable members on this side have experienced it, has not failed. This Government, however, has failed most miserably to administer sympathetically a system that has been in operation for 25 years. Ninetenths of the employees working under industrial awards in this country have loyally obeyed them, and should not be penalized if the remaining tenth cannot be disciplined. The Government has got the country into such a hopeless muddle financially, industrially, socially and in every other way that the people of Australia wonder why they were gulled into putting it into power at the last election. If the last policy speech of the Prime Minister had indicated that he intended to bring down a bill of this description, his party would have been deprived of office.

By two of its actions - the withdrawal of the prosecution of John Brown and this attempt to repeal the Federal Arbitration Act - the Government has displayed a complete disregard of the principles of responsible government. I warn Ministers and their supporters that by thus flouting the law they have created a dangerous precedent, and other citizens may feel justified in adopting a similar course at some future date. The Government prates about law and order and its desire for peace in industry; but twice, since this Parliament met in February last, it has flouted the law. When a worker is compelled to fight for his life, from an economic stand-point, the Government pursues him, without giving him any opportunity to justify his action. If the bill is passed into law the Government will have great difficulty in satisfying the people on the next appeal to them that it has acted in their best interests.

The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) referred to union secretaries and other union officials as parasites on industry. He would have commanded more respect from honorable members on this side if he had completed the list of those who are not only parasites on industry but on society as a whole. The Government has attacked the only citadel that the workers have. It is necessary for them to employ organizers and secretaries to watch their interests, because they cannot themselves give the necessary time required to watch the repeated attacks made on them by the other parasites whom the honorable member for Warringah forgot to mention. I speak from experience. During the upheaval in the railway service of New South Wales in 1917, I tried repeatedly for a fortnight to prevent that strike ; but when my colleagues left the work-shops I went with them, and I was denied the right to work in the industry for 3^ years. If the members of unions employ and pay organizers what has it to do with the honorable member for Warringah, who has also been a paid secretary of a much larger organization, and whose salary was a drain upon industry? There is considerable difference between the salary he received and that paid to the average union organizer, who is expected to justify himself in his employment and must do so to retain his position.

The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) made the fallacious statement that the mining industry in Australia had failed owing to the opera tions of arbitration courts. I suggest that the present condition of that industry is due to fluctuations of the metal market, and the exploiting of high grade ores by grasping mining companies, which have left behind payable ores in large quantities. I was reared in a mining environment, and I assert with confidence that some of the coal mines on the northern fields of New South Wales could be worked to-day if it were not for the fact that the parasites, > hungry for profits, have taken the inside out of them, leaving behind a large percentage of payable ore. The town of Cobar is now ruined because that policy was adopted. Did arbitration cause the closing of Mount Boppy when it was the richest gold mine in Australia? Three men are to-day working the property on tribute, and have made hundreds of pounds there. Did arbitration courts cause the shutting down of Minmi and other collieries ? No. The cessation of work was due to the fact that the owners took advantage of the cheaper and quicker means of transport of the coal to the market by developing the mines nearer the railway line. So they closed down the other mines and left a large percentage of the nation’s coal resources to go to ruin. The honorable member for Kennedy will perhaps tell us next that arbitration courts_ killed the iron and steel industry, and were responsible for the sale of the Commonwealth Line of steamers. We shall be told next that awards of the court have been responsible for the closing down of Cockatoo Island dockyard, and the loss of thousands of pounds of the nation’s wealth by the throwing idle of machinery which is going to rack and ruin while this country is being flooded with goods made by Asiatics, but branded “ made in England “ for the purpose of securing an entry to Australia under the 10 per cent. British preferential tariff. We shall be told that those awards have been responsible for making the Senate chamber red and this chamber green. I do not know what next they will try to push down our throats. The Government would like to treat us as though we were children. But while they talk of the scientific aspect, we deal with the practical side.

Every effort that we can make to prevent the abolition of the federal arbitration system will be justified. Unquestionably the object of the bill is to attack the wages of the workers. I may not know a great deal about Parliamentary etiquette, but I speak from the bottom of my heart, because I candidly believe that the abolition of the federal arbitration system will be the forerunner of the repeal of State arbitration legislation. This Government is establishing a dangerous precedent, which the State Governments will follow. Honorable members opposite wish to revert to the “ get together “ system. Let me give a few examples of the way in which that system operates. I have participated in conferences with employers. The employees place all their cards on the table, but the employers, instead of exhibiting a reciprocal or even a conciliatory spirit, come along with a schedule of demands and lay them on the table with the ultimatum “There are our conditions ; take them or leave them “. It is a case of the survival of the fittest. The Government has deliberately brought into being an army of unemployed, and the man who is first on the scene and who is prepared to do the work most cheaply will be given the preference when any employment is offering.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.


.While the honorable member for Lang was speaking, he was interrupted by an honorable member who occupied a reclining position on the other side, and was asked to state whether the interest rate on loans would not be lower if Russia had paid her debt to Great Britian. Everybody knows that Russia repudiated a debt of something like £250,000,000; and that, although Italy did not repudiate her debt of £576,000,000, arrangements have recently been made under which she is to be relieved of all except £78,000,000, which I believe is to carry an interest rate of 2 per cent. If Russia had not repudiated her debt, she might have been loaned another £250,000,000, and been given 65 years in which to discharge her obligation.

It is not my intention to reflect upon the intelligence of any honorable member opposite, nor to refer to the school in which he was educated. If the dictum of Confucius is unchallengeable, Parliament is not a body that will ever reform the world ; because we are not allowed by the standing orders to call either men or things by their right names. Fifteen months ago this Government gave a solemn and definite undertaking to ‘preserve the system of federal control in the industrial field. Now it is decided that no fewer than 149 unions, representing 80 per cent. of the organized workers of the Commonwealth, shall be denied the right to have their wages and industrial conditions regulated on a uniform basis by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The electors have not given the slightest suggestion of a mandate to abolish the court. The action of the Government is a barefaced repudiation of declarations made from time to time by the Prime Minister and other members of the Government, who are now doing their level best to defend this act of political sabotage. As far back as 1926, during a referendum campaign, the Attorney-General told members of the Nationalist party in Sydney that they could not abolish this system of arbitration except at the risk of putting back the clock a century. He also said that the effect of abolishing the federal system would be to create industrial confusion and cause loss to industry. Addressing this Parliament two years ago he made the following emphatic statement : -

It is out of all question to consider seriously the suggestion that this’ industrial machinery should be scrapped, and all the court’s awards, the result of 20 years’ work, set aside, interState industrial disputes being left for the future to the adjudication of some, at present, non-existent body.

He and other members of the Government now propose to do the very thing that two years ago they decided was out of all question. With one stroke of thepen, they propose to scrap the result of 20 years’ work, and to leave industrial disputes to be adjudicated upon by some tribunal which at present does not exist. When a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was before this Parliament, the Prime Minister and other members of the Government declared most emphatically that there was not the slightest intention to scrap the federal arbitration machinery. Speaking on the motion for the second reading of that bill in this Parliament on the 17th May, 1928, the Prime Minister said -

This measure lias been introduced with the sincere desire to enable compulsory arbitration to operate successfully in this country, and if possible to bring about the realization of our great .ideal to establish new and improved standards in industrial affairs.

The Attorney-General was even more emphatic when introducing the bill on the 15th December, 1927. He then said -

The Government…… considers that the general abandonment of industrial legislation in Australia, which is sometimes suggested, would not solve any problem, but would open the way to a period of social and industrial unrest…… for which the Government is not prepared to accept the responsibility.

Later in his speech he gave reasons why the Government could not scrap the Federal Arbitration Court. He said -

The expressed opinion of some is that the whole system has serious defects which cannot be amended, and that, therefore, it should be ended. The Government does not at the present time subscribe to that view. The abolition of the court would not solve any problem. On the contrary it would create new problems without any satisfactory means at hand for solving them.

Further, he is reported in Hansard, vida page 3283, as follows : -

The Government is not prepared to abandon compulsory arbitration. . . . We have constitutional power to utilize conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, and I have always been of the opinion that the power to prevent industrial, disputes by this means has not been sufficiently utilized. The law in the past has dwelt too much upon the subject of the settlement of disputes as distinct from their prevention.

The Attorney-General is now doing his utmost to secure the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, although he has admitted that such an act would result in continual industrial unrest. It would appear that the Government is abolishing the Commonwealth Court with the deliberate intention of bringing about a chaotic condition in industry. Other members of the Nationalist party were equally emphatic in their declaration that the Government had not the slightest idea of interfering with the present system of arbitration. They declared themselves to be the staunch supporters of the court. I have before me the opinions expressed by some other honorable members, including the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), who said -

I am not one of those who believe in the scrapping of compulsory arbitration. The Nationalist party stands for compulsory arbitration, and it is clearly wrong to lay the least charge against the Government that it is endeavouring to subvert or undermine the principles of compulsory arbitration.

Mr. Ley, the exmember for Barton, when a member of this House, stated -

The Government stands four square for arbitration. No one who has heard the AttorneyGeneral can truthfully say there, was the slightest indication on his part that the Government intended to scrap the arbitration laws.

The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) is reported in Hansard of the 23rd May, 1928, vide page 5130, in this way -

A system which for the past 24 years has been working satisfactorily from the point of view of tens of thousands of workers must be continued. . . . We believe arbitration is an effective instrument for maintaining the industrial peace of the country and for controlling industrial conditions.

The Vice-President of the Executive Council, .Senator Sir George Pearce, in dealing, with the subject of arbitration on the 12th June, 1928, said-

The Government does not propose to abolish compulsory arbitration, but to attempt in so far as it is able under the Constitution as it now stands, to remove some of the difficulties that now exist.

On the 12th June, 1928, Senator Foll expressed himself in this way -

I am a firm believer in the principle of conciliation and arbitration.

Senator Kingsmill, on the 13th” June, 1928, said-

I believe in the principle of arbitration. -I think it lias not fallen short of achieving its objective. I do not say that it has failed.

What must the electors think of such gentlemen, who so strongly affirmed their faith in the federal arbitration system only fifteen months ago, and who now so brazenly pretend that they are justified in the action which they are about to take? Nine months ago the Prime Minister and his supporters sought the suffrages of the electors on the plea that if they were returned the present system of arbitration would be maintained and every effort would be made to ensure more peaceful conditions in industry. A perusal of the speeches of every member of the Nationalist Country party during the election campaign will clearly show that there was not the slightest suggestion’ that this act of political treachery or sabotage was to be perpetrated. The electors were told that the Arbitration Act was to be amended in such a way that industrial disputes would be prevented. Surely the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court is a matter of major importance; but, at the general election held nine months ago, the Government did not give the slightest indication of its intention to act in the manner now proposed. The Government cannot claim that it has received any mandate from the people for its high-handed action, nor can it justify its repudiation of the promises it made only a few months ago. I have before me a pamphlet issued during the election campaign, entitled “ The Claims of the Bruce-Page Government,” from which I quote the following

The measure most fiercely debated during last Parliament was the new Arbitration Act. It has been attacked on the ground that the motive of its authors was to undermine trade unions. It does nothing but give the control’ of unions to unionists, improve opportunities for conciliation, and diminish friction between State and Federal Courts…..

Australia cannot maintain its high standard of living, pay high wages, and exclude coloured labour unless its producers are able to avail themselves of the most scientific methods and the most expert advice.

It is interesting to note that during recent months the Commonwealth Government has had the advice of certain experts from Great Britain, known as the British Economic Mission. I have always been highly amused at the idea of gentlemen from Great Britain being brought here to advise us, because I believe that the country from which they come should first place its own house in order before its representatives attempt to dictate to the people of Australia. Conservative and Liberal Governments of the old Tory type have been in office in Great Britain for several hundred years, but to-day that country is confronted with a national debt of eight thousand million pounds. According to a report of certain expert advisers the industries of Great Britain are sixteen years behind those in progressive countries, its steel industry is collapsing, the railway systems are losing £7,000,000 annually, its textile industries are slipping and the mining industry, according to Mr. Baldwin, the ex-Prime Minister, is in such a parlous condition that it was unable to pay a living wage. That gentleman said that the miners had to accept work at less than a living wage, and that there were 250,000 miners in England and Wales who could not possibly hope to find employment in the mines. Notwithstanding these staggering facts certain gentlemen came from England to this country to tell us how to improve our economic conditions. If those who are so interested in the welfare of the Dominions spent in their own country some of the millions which they invest in foreign countries, at high rates of interest, in building decent homes for the workers and in improving their industrial conditions their opinions would be received with more respect than they are to-day.

The simple remedy for unemployment is to increase wages. With poor wages a country cannot be progressive. I happen to know the conditions under which a number of poverty-stricken farmers in this country are carrying on. Although the farmers of Russia in pre-war days were producing enough grain to feed the world those engaged in this production and the women who live with them were compelled to subsist on rye bread. The dairy farmers of Denmark, which country produces the finest butter in the world, use margarine, and the Japanese who produce the finest rice, import an inferior commodity with which to feed their workmen. On one occasion when the right honorable the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) was addressing the House he referred to unemployment as a consequence of the awards of the Arbitration Court. There are no arbitration courts in America, where the worker does not receive the protection that he does in Australia. Although 42,500,000 men and women are remuneratively employed in the United States of America, less than 5,000,000 are members of trade unions. The financial history of America records a series of panics which occurred about every ten years, and when these crises occurred the bankers, as well as the rest of the people, suffered. The position became so intolerable that the bankers set their experts to work to suggest a means of avoiding panics. From a pamphlet issued in America I quote the following:

The financial history of America is a record of a series of great panics coming at intervals of from seven to ten years. In these crises the bankers used to suffer as well as the rest of us; but this was intolerable to them, and so they put their experts to work. To save yourself in a panic you must have money - a great deal of money in a hurry, and where can such money be got? Where, but from our good old Uncle Sam. So the bankers devised a wonderful new scheme, the Federal Revenue System; a chain of twelve regional banks, with a directing head, a banker-board, having for its function to watch over our money system in the interest of the bankers, to lend money freely when they want it to be cheap, and to so call in loans when they are ready for a killing; above everything else to watch out for panics, and when these come, to issue credit to the big insiders so that they can keep afloat while the rest of us drown. In the summer of 1920 there was a riot of speculation, and the Bankers Board decided that somebody had to be “deflated”. They picked out the farmers. Who cares anything about “hicks “ out in the sticks ? “ Go home and slop the hogs “ was the word of a banker legislator iu North Dakota to a delegation of farmers. So the Federal Reserve Board “ advised “ the farmer banks to lend no more money to farmers, and one little hint was enough to bring farm prices crashing. Before the crisis was over a total of 603,000 farmers had either lost their farms or were keeping thom on sufferance of their creditors; and those are Government figures, Judd! You know how it was with produce that year - the farmers in the middle west burned their corn for fuel, and out here in Southern California it didn’t pay to gather the orange and lemon crops. But the prices of automobiles and hardware and lumber . and cement did not share this harsh fate; the big Wall-street banks had all the credit they needed, and they “carried” their friends, the big manufacturers, whose stocks and bonds repose in their vaults. They were “ sitting pretty “, and waited till the storm was over, and we were ready to buy their goods at the old fancy prices._

I may be asked what that has to do with the subject under discussion. My answer is that financial panics bring about unemployment which it is the duty of this Government to prevent.

The farmers were also mentioned during the course of this debate, and it was contended by honorable members opposite that the farmers were anxious to have arbitration scrapped. If I mistake not, the farmers of this country know exactly on what side their bread is but tered, and in that mighty nation of the United States of America, if there is one section more than another which has reason to take exception to the conditions under which it lives, it is the farming section. In the summer of 1920 there was a riot of speculation in United States of America, and the Bankers’ Board decided that somebody ought to be deflated. Who cared about the hicks in the sticks ? “ Go home and slop your hogs “ was the advice given by one banker in North Dakota to a deputation of farmers which waited upon him. The bankers advised that no more money should be advanced to farmers and the hint was sufficient. Before the crisis was over 603,000 farmers had either lost their farms or were keeping them on sufferance. Those are the official government figures. The prices controlled by the combines, however, did not fall. Those engaged in the lumber and cement industry, for instance, did not suffer the harsh fate of the farmers. The big Wallstreet banks saw that they had all the credit they needed. They carried their friends, the big manufacturers, whose stocks and bonds were in their vaults. Those manufacturers sat still until the people were ready to buy their goods again at fancy prices. The workers in this country, or any other, have verylittle chance of getting on, or very little hope of looking to anything better than the old-age pension, the workhouse, or the old men’s home when their working days are over. I have here a table drafted by the National City Insurance Company of New York, the richest insurance company in America. It was trying to persuade the people to take out insurance, so that the money would come back into Wall-street, and allow the merry game’ of speculation to go on. Those who prepared the table took as an example 100 people at the age of 21, and asked what would be their position when they were 65. One, it was said, would be independent, four would be well to do, five would be working for a meagre living, 36 would be dead, many of them for want of attention that money would have secured, and 54 would be dependent upon others. Out of the entire 100 only five would be in satisfactory circumstances. There you have a picture of what the richest nation in the world has been able to achieve in the way of promoting sound, human happiness. We have been asked to follow that example. More than twenty years ago Poster Eraser wrote a book called America at Work. In that book he tells how he visited many big factories in United States of America, such as boot factories, engineering shops, &c, and in one of them he said to the manager “ There is one thing I miss - Where are your old men V “ That is very easy to answer,” said the manager. “ If you will get on this car, and light a cigar, I shall show you where the old men are.” They pulled up at the nearest cemetery, and the manager said “ There they are - too old at 40.” We should be better off to remain where we are than to introduce into thi3 country a system which puts men in their graves at the age of 40. I saw one example in Australia of industry conducted on the American pattern, and if the men working in that industry- live to be 40 they will be lucky. That was at Lysaght’s iron foundry, Newcastle, where the men are working on piece rates. That is an example of American industry up to date. I have one more quotation to make, taken from the report of an investigation made recently into economic conditions by Professor E. F. Gale, of Harvard, and Professor Mitchell, of Columbia. This report* recently came into the possession of the Development and Migration Commission, and in it Professor Mitchell says : -

Belief in the economy of high wages has become prevalent among the abler business executives, much as belief in increasing productivity has become prevalent among the abler trade union leaders. To find a market for the wares turned out by mass production and urged on consumers by national advertising, it is patently necessary to have corresponding purchasing power in the hands of the consumers. Since studies of the national income have demonstrated that wages constitute by far the largest stream of personal income, it follows that wages per man - or, rather, wages per family - must be increased as production is expanded.

I hope that this bill will not pass its second reading, but that it will be defeated. Whether or not an election results I, and the other honorable members on this side, will not he perturbed. We are not job conscious.


– It is not the fault of honorable members on the Opposition side of the

House that this important subject is being discussed at this hour of the morning. I think it will be admitted by honorable members on both sides that a measure of such importance should have had more time allotted for its consideration. However, it is the dictum of the Government that the bill has to be rushed through, but no reason for this undue haste has been given by any honorable member who has spoken in support of this destructive piece of proposed legislation. No measure ever before introduced by a Federal Government into this Parliament has been received with such hostility as this, not only by honorable members on this side of the House, but by a number of honorable members on the other side. It is refreshing to note that when a government, as in this case, strays so far from its policy as propounded at the election campaign, some of its supporters at least have the courage and manhood to stand up and tell it so’. I thought that we had reached a stage when the work of Parliament could be done without these protracted sittings, and when free and open discussion might be allowed upon all measures, and certainly upon a measure such as this.

As was stated by the last speaker, and by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), there seems to be some hidden reason for the introduction of this legislation, a reason not disclosed by the Prime Minister or by any of his supporters. The very men who stood for the regulation of industry by arbitration only a short while ago have suddenly, for some unknown reason, decreed that we must turn our faces away from arbitration, and cease all interference with labour conditions except in the case of the maritime industries. Only a few weeks ago one member of the Ministry had the temerity .to speak, in favour of unification. I do not know whether he was caned by the Prime Minister, but he has certainly become very pliant since then and is to-day supporting his leader in an endeavour to pass this the most anti-Federal measure ever introduced into this Parliament. This bill seeks to break down the power of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, it should be resisted by every honorable member who believes in Federation.

I grew up in the locality where compulsory industrial arbitration was first introduced. I know something of the struggle that the unionists had to establish the system. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) spoke of sitting round a table and settling disputes in Queensland by the “get together” method. It has also been my lot to assist in the settlement of industrial disputes by the round-table method in New South Wales and other States. But I can remember the time when the employers flatly refused to meet their employees to discuss wages and conditions. They said, “ There is your work and there are your wages; take them or leave them.” The first strike that I remember was not for an increase in wages, but for a conference to discuss working conditions. The employers met the men after a cessation of work which lasted for three months, and a voluntary authority was set up to deal with grievances. Subsequently the State Government established an industrial court of a kind. This was followed later by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) pointed out on Wednesday evening, industrial arbitration has been a live issue in Federal politics ever since that time. The majority of our employers and employees have grown up with the system. I can remember only one case in which a serious deadlock occurred owing to the refusal of one of the parties to obey an award of the court. This is a good record. No law is obeyed perfectly. As a matter of fact, people will not obey an unjust law.

Mr Theodore:

– There is no respect for bad laws.


– That is so. In my opinion the award which caused the recent dislocation of the timber industry was bad in every respect. It was never really acceptable to either side. Such awards may be expected occasionally from men who are totally unacquainted with the details of an industry; but, on the whole, the awards of the Common wealth Court have been reasonable and practicable. It is only recently that a tendency has been shown by judges of the court to give undue consideration to the claim of one party to a dispute.

The reasons given on behalf of the Government for the introduction of this bill have not been satisfactory. I believe that the measure has been forced upon us by the influence of persons not resident in the Commonwealth. We have been visited recently by the British Economic Mission and other influential persons from overseas, who have exercised a big influence upon the Government. I do not desire to say anything detrimental to the gentlemen who are making the inquiry into the coal industry, but I point out that of the ten collieries into the affairs of which the commission will inquire one has been closed for seven years, and another, after paying 100 per cent. in dividends for a long while, is now working at only a quarter of its capacity. It is unfair to determine the degree of profit made in the Maitland coal-fields by inquiry into the affairs of such collieries as these. The colliery which paid 100 per cent. in dividends is operated by a company the capital of which was subscribed in £10 shares, but the shares were only paid up to £6 and then declared to be fully paid up. When the mine was making such huge profits the shares boomed and reached the astounding figure of £54. A good deal of the money at present invested in the mine was invested on the basis of £54 for a £10 share, and the owners of those shares expect enough profit to be made to pay them a reasonable rate of interest on the shares for which they paid £54. (Quorum formed.]

The bill provides, among other things, for the repeal of the Industrial Peace Act. It is remarkable that the provisions of that measure were used for a long while to discipline the workers ; but immediately it became necessary to use them to discipline the employers the measure was found to be ultra vires. When attention was drawn to this significant fact, some little while ago, the Attorney-General asked, by interjection, why the men did not submit their case to the board of inquiry rather than cease work. Although this bill is presumably brought down because the timber workers are supposed to have flouted an award of the court, colliery proprietors in New South Wales are deliberately locking out 12,000 workmen and causing unemployment throughout the country. Why is nothing said to themabout their breach of the law? Compulsory arbitration has been discredited because of the Government’s weak administration of the law. Interference by the Government with arbitration has weakened the faith of the people in it. The present Ministry has done more than any other to undermine it. The Government claimed that its object was to bring about peace in industry, but we have more turmoil in industry to-day than has been experienced at any other time since federation, and it is due to the action of this Government. Unionists are not alone in disobeying unfavorable awards. Employers can offer such drastic reductions of wages that the employees cannot possibly be expected to accept them. All the industrial benefits that the coal workers have obtained have resulted from their struggle for better conditions of employment. When they were asked to accept a wage reduction of 1s. per ton if the colliery-owners agreed to a similar reduction in the selling price, they naturally said that they wished to work under the sliding scale that had previously applied to the industry. No attempt was ever made to permit the dispute in that industry to be settled by arbitration. If the employers can dictate their own terms to the wage-earners without interference by the Government, it is not surprising that the workers object to the treatment they have received. It is unfortunate that this retrograde step should be proposed at this stage of federation, soon after the transference of the seat of government to Canberra. The bill will precipitate further industrial disturbance, instead of encouraging harmonious relations between employers and employees. The leaders of the nation, when they established federation, took as their slogan, “One people, one flag, one destiny.” But the present Government appears to favour retrogression rather than progress. No bill has been criticized more ably and fairly than has this measure, and the Government would be well advised if it withdrew from the position that it has taken up regarding it. I do not look upon the introduction of the measure as an error of judgment so much as a deliberate attempt to weaken industrial arbitration. If this bill of negation ispassed. the Commonwealth willbe de prived of powers that it has rightly enjoyed for the last quarter of a century. Notwithstanding the defects that have been found in this legislation, it has brought about peace in industry in Australia for many years. It is more than regrettable to find federal Ministers favoring an anti-federal proposal of this nature.


.- I enter my protest against the manner in which the bill is being considered. This House adjourned last March, and did not re-assemble until the 14th August. Although during the recess honorable members were dealing with matters of importance to their constituents, they could have been summoned for the purpose of considering any important legislation that the Government wished to pass. Now, after a few weeks, they are forced to remain in this chamber hour after hour. The present sitting has already lasted for seventeen hours, and we have been considering one of the most momentous measures that could be discussed here. The bill provides for the repeal bf the Arbitration Act, but one industry will remain under federal jurisdiction. As the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) remarked, this is a retrograde step, and one for which the Government has no mandate from the people. I claim that it has a mandate from them to continue the present arbitration laws, although the Prime Minister has expressed the opposite view. It has been said that, when the last appeal was made to the people, the Prime Minister promised that this act would not be interfered with. I have also heard honorable members opposite say by interjection that that statement is not true. Those who read Hansard will know that this Government was elected on’ the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister at the last election. The promises that were then made should be regarded as sacred. Dealing with industrial matters, the right honorable gentleman said : -

Continuity of any employment is essential if those results are to be obtained. In order to ensure that there would be that continuity and a cessation of disastrous strikes and lockouts, with their consequent suffering and loss, a system of compulsory arbitration has been established in Australia. That system is designed to prevent stoppages of industry by providing that disputes, when they arise, shall be determined by an impartial tribunal whose awards shall have the full force of the law and be observed by both sides. Compulsory arbitration was enthusiastically supported by the Labour party of pre-war days, but where does the Labour party to-day stand?

The only inference to be drawn from that statement is that the right honorable gentleman intended that the Federal Arbitration Court should be continued if his Government was returned to power. That is what the people believed. If they had not been misled, this Government would not now be in office. Every fair-minded citizen has no desire to see strikes and lockouts in industry, nor does he desire to revert to the conditions of the bad old days, when industrial disputes were fought out to the end, and the greatest bitterness was displayed by both employer and employee. The platform of the Nationalist party provides for the maintenance of the Arbitration Court, and the people were promised that there would be no interference with it during the life of this Parliament. There is a reason for the desire of the Government to repeal the act, and their action has been interpreted by honorable members who sit on both sides. In these cases one must be guided, by circumstances. Nothing has happened in Australia since an amending measure was passed through this chamber in 1927. Are the Government still hopeful of overshadowing their maladministration, as they have done on former occasions ? There is a saying that “ When thieves fall out, honest men come into their own.” When members of the Government party fall out, they expose one another. That has happened in the present instance with the’ right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). He has stated that the reason for this legislation is that the Government find themselves no longer able to enforce the law on account of the attitude they have adopted towards the employers in the coal industry. It is not that arbitration has failed, or that there has been any extraordinary happening recently. During the passage of the amending measure to which I have already referred, I expressed amazement at the fact that honorable members opposite had become advocates of the principle of arbitration for the settlement of indus trial disputes. Member after member on the Government side during that debate announced his adherence to that principle. The Attorney-General was one of the most ardent supporters that it could have. He said that there were no other means by which the industrial conditions of the workers could be adjusted. * He went on to say : -

In some quarters it is occasionally suggested that, as the original reasons for this system of regulation have now largely if not entirely disappeared, it is no longer necessary to maintain in operation the laws under which it exists. I am unable to agree with that view.

Later he said: -

Therefore, although the Government recognizes that this system of regulation in many ways imposes a burden on industry, it considers that the general abandonment of industrial legislation in Australia, which is sometimes suggested, would not solve any problem, but would open the way to a period of social and industrial unrest, and to the perpetration of individual injustices, for which the Government is not prepared to accept the responsibility.

I predict that in a few years the people of Australia will again demand a tribunal that will deal with interstate disputes, but they will insist that it must be different from the Federal Arbitration Court as it has been constituted during the last few years. The Attorney-General went on to say:-

The expressed opinion of some is that the whole system has serious defects which cannot be amended, and that therefore it should be ended. The Government does not at present subscribe to that view. The abolition of the court would not solve any problem. On the contrary, it would create new problems without any satisfactory means at hand for solving them.

That gentleman to-day sits cheek by jowl with the Prime Minister, who promised the people of this country that the Arbitration Court would be retained during the life of this Parliament. He then said that the abolition of the court would not solve any problems, but would create new ones. That is just as true to-day as it was then. Nothing has happened to alter the position. The Attorney-General went on to say -

It is sometimes, said that the court is a failure; I do not profess that it has been a complete success ; that it has not been, and it is now, subject to defects, but very few human institutions are a complete success.

I agree with the view expressed by the Attorney-General that the court has not been a complete success, but no one can deny that it has been of great assistance in providing reasonable conditions for the workers and also in affording protection to the employers. [Quorum formed.] TheAttorney-General does not like to hear the speech he made in 1027 quoted against him to-day, particularly as the views he expressed in 1927 are totally different from those which he holds today. I have often heard it jocularly remarked that Hansard should be dispensed with, and if that course had been adopted some time ago the AttorneyGeneral would not appear so ridiculous as he does to-day.

Although the awards of the Arbitration Court have not always been obeyed in their entirety there are other laws of the land, which are at times disregarded by certain sections of the community. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) recalled the conditions which existed prior to the introduction of an arbitration system and showed how strikes were sometimes prolonged for months because there was no court to intervene. During the election campaign the Prime Minister did not suggest to the people that the arbitration policy which he once so strongly supported would be abolished. On 17th May, vide Hansard page 5001, he said -

We should endeavor to define the industries over which the Commonwealth would have control, and that those industries should be set out in the Constitution, the States having complete and strict jurisdiction over all others. After many months of careful examination, it was found impossible to decide how industries should be classified. Another suggestion was that only two industries, the shipping and the shearing industry, were the affairs of the Commonwealth. That of course is quite wrong.

What was “ quite wrong “ in 1928 is apparently quite right in 1929. Why has the right honorable gentleman changed his opinion? After months of consideration he decided that it was impracticable to decide how industries could be classified ; but that is exactly what is provided for in the bill. When the BrucePage Government appealed to the electors in 1925 they clearly intimated that if returned to power they would see that law and order was maintained and that there would be peace in industry. Later an amending Arbitration and Conciliation Bill was passed by Parliament in the exact form which the Government desired, and the main proposals of that measure were set out by the AttorneyGeneral under the following main headings : -

  1. Prevention of overlapping between Federal and State tribunals.
  2. The necessity for co-relating the awards of the court under economic realities.
  3. Development of a system of voluntary arbitration as distinguished from compulsory arbitration.
  4. The further application of the principle of conciliation.
  5. Certain important improvements in procedure.
  6. The responsibility of organizations for the conduct of their officers and members and for the general observance of awards.
  7. Provisions relating to the rules of an organization, the audit of its accounts and similar matters.
  8. The principle of the secret ballot in order to give members of organizations control over their officers and the affairs of the organizations.
  9. Provisions designed to protect the court in the performance of its functions, and to secure the observance of awards, and the provisions of the Act.

Surely that was sufficiently comprehensive to provide for overcoming the difficulties which were alleged to exist in connexion with the system then in operation. The Prime Minister and his colleagues are novices in the matter of industrial legislation, and it is reasonable to assume that this measure is not likely to be more effective than the Arbitration Bill passed in 1928. The Government has been meddling with our industrial legislation, to such an extent that it is now unworkable and it considers that its only means of escape is by scrapping the whole business. It has been said that the States will have to introduce legislation to control industrial arbitration within their boundaries, and one would think from the utterances of the right honorable gentleman that the State governments favour this proposal. As a matter of fact, if the States are compelled to introduce such legislation, they will do so against their wish. In the Brisbane Courier of 1st June, there appears an item telegraphed from Sydney which sets forth the views of the Premier of Queensland on this subject. The paragraph states : -

The Premier of Queensland, Mr. A.E. Moore, before he left for Brisbane to-day, said that he opposed the repeal of the federal arbitration legislation when it was under discussion at the Premier’s conference at Canberra. “ I venture to predict,” said Mr. Moore, “ that within ten years there will be a return to the federal system.”

Probably some of the other Premiers have also had to swallow this proposal against their will. The Prime Minister has been able to whip his own followers into line on this matter, and force them to break their election pledges, so he has probably been able to induce the Premiers also to agree to the proposal against their better judgment.

I hope that this bill will not be carried, and that we may have an opportunity of carrying on under the present system of arbitration after its defects have been remedied. Arbitration has been operating for twenty-five years, and it cannot be claimed that it has failed. Itwas clearly intended by the framers of the Federal Constitution that there should be a federal court of arbitration with jurisdiction over interstate disputes. It was intended, not that this jurisdiction should be limited, but that it should be extended over all disputes which are interstate in character. If this bill is passed we shall have more disputes than at present. The Government’s proposal constitutes a breach of faith with those who have registered in the court, and who have incurred heavy expenses in securing arbitration awards. Now they find that they have taken this trouble, and incurred these expenses, merely to have their agreements and awards abolished at the whim of the Government. The framers of the Constitution intended that when we pulled down the State barriers there should be at least uniformity in wages and conditions in those industries of an interstate character. Mr. Deputy President Webb, of the Federal Arbitration Court, dealing with this aspect of the matter, said: -

There are two outstanding considerations which induced the people of Australia to enter into the federal compact. The one was to enable Australia to take proper precautions for her defence, and the other to establish the proposition that the trade between the States should be free, and the Constitution is framed for the purpose of protecting freedom of trade between States. It is difficult for fair interstate competition in an industry to exist unless industrial conditions are reasonably uniform throughout the States.

Mr. Deputy President Webb is a man who has had considerable experience in arbitration, not only in the federal arbitration courts, but also in the South Australian courts prior to entering the federal sphere. Many other judges have touched on this subject, and their remarks have always been to the same effect. They have all said that they cannot provide for uniform awards under State jurisdiction, and that interstate industries should be subject to the Federal Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice Heydon, during the hearing of the clothing trades case, said : -

The evidence that has been submitted to me in this case proves beyond any doubt that there is room for improvement in the wages and conditions of the employees in this industry, but one is forced to take into consideration the wages and conditions obtaining in the same industry in the State of Victoria. In consequence, I hesitate to concede to the employees all that I might in other circumstances. In an industry such as this there should be some form of federal adjustment of the wages and conditions.

He was not able to give the workers the wages and conditions to which he considered they were entitled because of the competition from Victoria, and he suggested that the matter should be dealt with in the Federal Arbitration Court. When dealing with the printing trades case Mr. Deputy President Webb said : -

Up to the present time this industry in each State has been dealt with by the tribunal of such State, and the result is that the wages and conditions of employment which are prescribed in the various States present strange difficulties and anomalies. The printing industry has been before State tribunals for many years. The anomalies which have existed have been commented upon by the State tribunals, but it has been impracticable for the State tribunals to rectify them.

Now the Government proposes to intensify those anomalies by forcing practically all industries back to the State courts. If this bill is passed we shall have not only the industrial unrest which prevails now, but also that which will arise from the fact that the State tribunals will not be able to deal effectively with interstate disputes. Mr. Justice Powers, discussing the subject of State versus Federal Arbitration, said: -

There is interstate competition in the flourmilling industry, and especially in the export trade, on which the mills chiefly depend. It is therefore desirable that all the mills should compete on equal terms.

The mill-owners in the other States (than New South Wales) must be in agreement with the Union on the necessity for one award dealing with the industry in the four States, because of interstate competition.

Mr. Justice Higgins, dealing with the building trades dispute, spoke along similar lines, and one could multiply instances in which judges have pronounced themselves in favour of federal control of interstate industry. Despite the limited power which the Commonwealth enjoys in legislating in industrial matters, the federal arbitration system has been a success in Australia. If complete power is handed back to the States the low-wage States will have an advantage over those in which higher wages and better conditions prevail. The consequence will be that wages and conditions in all States will be forced down to the level of those prevailing in the States with the worst labour conditions.

The Prime Minister said that because of Australia’s unfavorable financial position something would have to be done to bring about a better tone in industry. In support of his contention he produced a table of figures to show the relative increases in production and taxation over a period of years. These figures will come in very useful to prove that during the life of the Bruce-Page Government there has been very little increase in production and an extraordinary increase in taxation. They will be useful to quote against the Prime Minister when he contends that our present troubles are entirely due to high production costs. What is the Government doing to reduce the cost of production ? Its only policy in that regard seems to be to abolish the Arbitration Court. But as this court deals only with the wages and conditions of the workers it is clear that the Government intends that the workers shall bear the whole burden of any reduction that may be achieved in the cost of production. Nothing has been said about calling upon the persons who are receiving high rates of interest on the money they have loaned or those who control the rings, trusts and monopolies which are operating in our midst, to also make a contribution towards the reduction of the cost of production.

In season and out of season I have been an advocate of industrial arbitration. I recognize that there are some defects in the system, but they are not so serious as to warrant the abolition of the court. This means of settling industrial disputes is much to be preferred to direct action. Some organizations registered under the act have spent thousands of pounds in securing their awards; but to their credit it should be said that they have carried on their operations without a stoppage since they were first registered. If the court is abolished they will be obliged to begin afresh and spend thousands more pounds in securing awards from the State tribunals that may be set up. As they will have to submit their claims to probably six different authorities, there will be no possibility of securing uniformity in the awards.

Mr Bell:

– Does the honorable member consider that a system which obliges the workers to spend thousands of pounds to secure an award is desirable? That, surely, is one of its grave defects.


– It is better for a union to spend £5,000 in obtaining an award from an arbitration court than to spend many more thousands of pounds on a strike, apart altogether from the privation and suffering which a strike would entail. The trouble is that under the Government’s proposal a union might be obliged to spend six times £5,000 to achieve, in a less effective fashion, whatis at present achieved through the Commonwealth Court. Still, it appears that the servile followers of the Government are willing, in order to please their leader, to force the workers to incur even that tremendous expenditure.

A good deal has been said about the number of strikes which have occurred in Australia. The fact is that we have had fewer strikes in recent years than formerly; but every little dislocation has been published to the world. In some instances, a great deal has been made out of a very little. The Government has used the cry of industrial unrest to mislead the people. It has been returned to the Treasury bench on two occasions through this parrot cry, and it has also used it to overshadow its maladministration. We have no guarantee that the awards of the State tribunals will be observed to any greater extent than the awards of the Commonwealth court. A careful examination of our statistical returns shows that strikes have been less prevalent in recent years than formerly. In 1913, the average number of days lost per wageearner over twenty years of age was 0.5, and per union member 1.6. Similar figures for 1919 are five, days and ten days, and for 1923 0.8 days and 1.6 days. The average number of days lost per worker over twenty years of age, from 1913 to 1923 inclusive was 1.5, and per union ‘member, 3. Comparative figures for 1925 are 0.6 and 1.4; and for 1927, 1.1 and 1.9. The average number of days lost per annum per worker over twenty years of age in the years 1923 to 1927 inclusive was 0.8, and per union member, 1.5. It will be seen, therefore, that only about half as much time was lost in the period 1923 to 1927 as in the period 1913 to 1923. Industrial unrest in Australia is not so extensive as formerly, so that cannot be the reason for the introduction of the bill.

I believe that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) gave the true reason why we are considering this measure when he said that the Government had found that it was impossible to compel the employers in the coal industry to obey the awards of the court. I move -

That the -debate be now adjourned.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– It is not competent for the honorable member to move that motion.


– Then I have no more to say, Mr. Speaker.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– Any person who has listened to this debate and carefully studied the history of industrial arbitration in the federal sphere must admit that the system has had a fair trial. He must also agree that an analysis of the records of the court justifies doubt as to the success of the system. It has certainly not succeeded in accomplishing all that was expected of it. This is shown by the record number of strikes and the great amount of unemployment that has occurred in Australia in recent years.

Sitting suspended from 7.67 to 9.S0 a.m.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– Arbitration in the federal sphere has been given a trial for the last twenty-five years, and, despite our long experience and the endeavours to perfect the system, industrial trouble continues and unemployment is rampant. Such conditions should not obtain in this young country, whose resources are almost as yet untouched. This bill is de signed to overcome some of the basic causes of industrial trouble. Unfortunately, the present situation arises out of the limitations imposed by the Federal Constitution upon this Parliament. The federal court cannot function until a dispute has taken place, and a dispute may be either actual or artificial. The creation of artificial disputes for the purpose of getting a hearing before the court has been one of the great defects of federal arbitration, and a fruitful source of much industrial strife.

Mr Curtin:

– A demand and a refusal constitute a dispute.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– When a dispute has been created a log has to be served on each individual whom the applicant wishes to be a party to the dispute. This process is costly and productive of friction and vexatious delay. Many of the troubles that have been experienced by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court are due to this weakness. Constitutional limitations have also led to the creation of two armed camps, the -employers in one and the employees in the other, each organized to fight the other rather than to come together to arrange a system of co-operation in industry. They have also caused us to seek arbitration before a legally constituted court at the commencement of negotrations rather than have resort firstly to conciliation.

The lack of co-operation and goodwill is one of the main causes of industrial trouble, and has contributed substantially to the present economic and financial difficulties of the Commonwealth. The powers of the States, on the other hand, are unlimited. They can have arbitration, conciliation boards, wages boards, round table conferences, shop committees, or any other system that can be devised for the prevention and settlement of disputes. In the federal realm for these reasons industrial troubles will continue unless and until this Parliament obtains full industrial powers from the people. The position has been made more difficult by the practice of applying for awards from both Federal and State Courts.

The passage of this bill will remove many of the embarrassments under which industry labours. Dual control will be abolished, industrial progress and development will be possible and unemployment will be reduced. The people of Australia are in favour of the regulation of industry by a properly-constituted authority. This is necessary, not only to ensure that the employees get a fair deal, but also to protect the decent employer against unscrupulous competitors. The repeal of the Federal Arbitration Act will not remove any of the unions from industrial control or deprive them of the necessary protection. It will only do away with dual control and conflict of Federal and State awards. The complete jurisdiction of the State courts will still be available to enable the parties in industry to settle their troubles.

Australia has too many parliaments, and I look forward to the day when the Commonwealth Parliament will have increased powers and the State Parliaments reduced powers and a smaller number of members. Rather than that the Commonwealth should completely evacuate the arbitration field, I would prefer that it should be given by the people more complete control to deal with industrial matters. But there has been no lack of effort on the part of the present and previous Governments to obtain an extension of Commonwealth powers. Appeals to the people by referendum were made in 1911, 1913, 1919 and, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister, in 1926. All efforts to obtain for the federal authority greater power to deal with industrial matters have failed, and I feel certain that another appeal to-day would be equally futile. Travelling through South Australia recently I discussed with many people this question, and I gathered from them that an appeal to the people by referendum for an extension of the federal power would not be entertained for a moment. In Western Australia the opposition would be even greater, and there would certainly be no possibility of an affirmative vote in Victoria. The State Premiers at the Canberra conference having rejected the Prime Minister’s request for a reference of powers by the State Parliaments to the Commonwealth Parliament, must, to be consistent, oppose any appeal to the people by referendum. In opposition to such an appeal would be the State Governments, the members of the Labour oppositions and their bosses, the union officials. In the circumstances it would be impossible to carry such a proposal. The only other means by which this Parliament can obtain the necessary power is by a reference by the State Parliaments, and that has been refused. The only other alternative would be to leave matters as they are.

No honorable member of either party if free to voice his own convictions, would support the continuance of the present chaotic conditions. Every judge who has sat in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has drawn attention to its helplessness under the present limited powers of the Commonwealth. The British Economic Mission which recently visited Australia also supported this contention. In its report we have the following : -

A frank and valuable criticism of Australia’s arbitration system was made by the British Economic Mission in its report of 7th January, 1929, to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. The mission said: - “We have had frank and interesting discussions with the leaders of the movement (trade union), and we have found that practically on every occasion the subject of arbitration acts and of the courts established thereunder has come up during the course of these discussions. By workmen’s representatives, not less emphatically than by representatives of the employers, it has been consistently represented to us that the arbitration courts are not achieving their purpose, and that a system designed to arrive by judicial decisions at fair and prompt settlement of industrial disputes, such as could be freely accepted by both sides, must be held to have failed. The most important of the reasons which have been advanced for this view are that experience has shown that there arises between the two parties who appear before the Arbitration Court judge or arbitrator the spirit of antagonism inseparable from litigation, and that the object of prompt settlement is defeated by the delay occasioned by the necessity for the collection and presentation of detailed evidence in a form acceptable to a court. It is complained that the procedure of the court occasions the expenditure of such time and money by the litigants, and involves very long absences from their ordinary occupations for a large number of persons whose time might be more profitably employed; that the subjectmatter of the questions which are brought before the courts is not of a nature with which judicial tribunals, necessarily unversed in the practical problems of industry or in the economic questions to which they give rise, are best fitted to deal; and that the overlapping jurisdictions of the Federal and

State Arbitration Courts have led to an almost inextricable tangle of conflicting decisions so complicated that large staffs have to bc maintained to keep track of them, and to endeavour to’ guard against involuntary contravention of any of them in the course of every-day business. The indictment of the system of the arbitration courts which we have heard is a heavy one, and we feel that it is well founded on many grounds, and particularly on the ground that the system has tended to consolidate employers and employees into two opposing camps, and has lessened the inducement to either side to resort to round-table conferences for that frank and confidential discussion of difficulties in the light of mutual understanding and sympathy, which is the best means of arriving ‘at fair and workable industrial agreements. A change in the method prevalent in Australia of dealing with industrial disputes appears to us to be essential, and we hold that there should be a minimum of judicial and governmental interference in them, except in so fur as matters affecting the health and safety of persons engaged in industry may be concerned. This decision was arrived nt after frequent discussions with trade unions officials.”

Let me further support this contention by extracts from the judgments of our Arbitration Court judges. During the hearing of the Carters and Drivers case in 1917, Mr. Justice Powers said in the Arbitration Court : -

I have never had a case in which employers have had greater cause to complain of the effect of Federal and State arbitration awards operating on the same industry, fixing different sets of conditions of work and hours of labour, and wages awarded on different basic and other rates. It is for the State Parliaments (or the people if the Federal Parliament again submits the question) to say whether State or Federal courts are to regulate all industrial matters, or whether both courts are to continue to do so. Tlie present position causes dissatisfaction to employers and employees, and renders the work of both Federal and State industrial courts most difficult.

He made similar observations in 1921 in connexion with an application under the Factories Acts of Victoria. Mr. Justice Higgins, when giving evidence before the Royal Commission on the Constitution on the 27th October, 1927, said : -

It was his decided opinion that employers and employees should not have two independent authorities - Federal and State - hanging over their heads and imposing different conditions, especially when those two powers were not co-ordinated. He knew that one large undertaking had had 125 different awards in operation within its works. It .was an intolerable burden; it promoted industrial disputes. There was nothing which, in his opinion, promoted so much discontent as for the average workman to find that his prescribed wages and conditions were inferior to those enjoyed by another worker doing exactly similar work in the same industry. He found that some sections of workers treated the Federal and State courts like rival shops, and tried to play off one against the other. It was a most inexpedient position.

Chief Judge Dethridge, on the 15th February, 1928, pointed out that “ the whole thing was a muddle,” “they must make the best of a bad job,” and “ try to wend their way through the morass and do as much good as possible “. The Deputy President of the South Australian Arbitration Court, Judge Hewitson, said in 1924, during the hearing of the brassworkers’ case”: -

There are two Commonwealth awards operating in the same field as the determination. The resulting complications are chaotic. If it were desired to design such a situation it might be conceived by the disordered mental efforts of u commission of lunatics.

He went on to say -

The mischief is intensified when the men in the nominal classification, or doing the same kind of labour, work sometimes side by side for different rates of pay. The appellants ask in so many words that the court should vary the determination so that it will conform with the Commonwealth awards under which a number of employees in the industry work.

He pointed out further how impossible it is to carry on under those conditions. One could quote numerous other cases in which the conflict of the Federal and State jurisdictions in arbitration matters has made it impossible to carry on without constant friction in industry. Let me give one other example of dual control, the overlapping of awards and the impossibility of carrying on smoothly in industry under the existing federal arbitration system. I quote from the Argus of 26th June of this year.

In my business (call it “A”) we are under some 38 wages boards and arbitration awards. The result is endless confusion and enormous expense. We manufacture fancy boxes, plain boxes, lace paper, canned fruits, sweets, biscuits, grease-proof paper. We do all our own engineering, blacksmithing, electrical work, plumbing, painting, woodworking, carpentering, sawmilling, modelling, carting. We employ labourers, liftmen, etc. The rates of wages vary, so do the hours and conditions, so much so that the Trades Hall officials are constantly quibbling over some supposed irregularity till an employer seriously asks himself: Why do I remain an employer? An illustration: Some of our employees commence at 7.30, some at 7.45, some at 8, and some at 9 o’clock. Some cease for lunch at 12, some at 12.30, some at 1 o’clock. Some have 30 minutes, some 45, and some 60 minutes. Some cease work at 5, some at 5.15, some at 5.30 and some at 6. Some work 35 hours a week, some 44, some 48. Some work on Saturdays, and some do not. Can one imagine anything so complicated and “ irritating ? A clerical staff is employed to try to check the hours and conditions. As a matter of fact they are so complicated that I am unable to tell when the employees should be coming or going. The person who has to work 44 or 48 hours is restless when he sees the 35 hours a week worker leaving. Why not have one wages board for one employer? If the wages board thinks the carpenter is worth more than the tinsmith, well, then, good. The same applies to the other branches.

Many such examples could be quoted. The postion is absolutely intolerable, and I do not think that any member even on the other side of the House could argue in favour of those extraordinary conditions.

Mr Lacey:

– That is not an argument against the Arbitration Court.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– It is an argument in favour of the abolition of dual control - that industry is controlled by conflicting State and Federal awards.

Mr Lacey:

– Does the honorable member suggest that those extraordinary circumstances have arisen because of the duplication of awards?

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– They are largely due to the dual control of industry by Federal and State authorities. Another difficulty under the federal arbitration system is the lack of power to make a “common rule.” The following is taken from a manifesto issued by the Commonwealth Council of Federated Unions, during the last referendum campaign, when that body* was urging the people to vote “Yes” -

There are 00 federated unions affiliated with this council representing more than 350,000 unionists. In carrying out our work, we have encountered many difficulties because of the limitations in the Federal Constitution, involving the unions in enormous expense and labour and causing vexatious delays in securing awards. The necessity to prove the existence of a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State and the failure to obtain a “common rule” have been serious obstacles in the way of the court. Thousands of pounds have been spent in fighting legal technicalities raised by employers. To prove the existence of an “interstate dispute” has meant prolonged constitutional arguments. The delay and cost has at times brought some unions almost to financial ruin. The inability of the Arbitration Court to make a “common rule” has forced unions to serve logs and summonses on each employer, as the award can only be made to apply to the employers cited before the court. In some cases unions have to serve logs and summonses on 10,000 employers. Several unions have to serve up to 5,000 logs and summonses. The cost of printing and posting is a serious drain upon the union funds.

That is another serious reason why we should abolish the federal arbitration system until such time as full powers are granted to the Commonwealth by the people.

If further evidence be- needed as to the costs of establishing disputes before the court and obtaining awards let me quote from the bi-annual report of the Australian Railways Union, page 15, which states that in 1924 the union expended £1,036 in putting its claims before the Arbitration Court; in 1925, £1,673; in 1926, £1,871; in 1927, £2,390; and in 1928, £2,729.

Mr Culley:

– It was the union’s own money.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– It was money taken from the wages of the workers to pay for this unnecessary and costly procedure. The Arbitration Court fixes a living wage which barely enables a man, his wife and children to exist, and the unions extract sums from him in order to maintain an army of officials to push claims before the Arbitration Court.

The only argument put forward by the Opposition which I consider is worthy of reply is that there will be a lack of uniformity when the federal arbitration system is abolished and replaced by State systems. “We know that the State Premiers, when in conference recently at Canberra, agreed that this legislation when passed should be suspended to enable the States to pass the necessary laws.

Mr Fenton:

– The Premiers never promised that.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

- Mr. Collier definitely undertook to pass the necessary legislation. He said: -

I am not a unificationist. I believe Australia is too large to be controlled industrially from one centre, and I prefer to take the full responsibility for the control of industrial affairs in my State, and I shall do it.

Mr Curtin:

– Is the honorable member reading from the report of the proceedings ?

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– I am reading an extract from a statement made by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Moore.

Mr Curtin:

– That portion of the extract has no resemblance to the official report.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

– I know Mr. Moore personally, I know how careful and accurate he is when stating facts, and the passage that I have quoted contains the actual words used by Mr. Collier. I leave it to the honorable member for Fremantle to disprove my statement. I am quite satisfied that he cannot do it. Unfortunately, there has never been uniformity in the State Sphere. Even the judges have laid down certain procedures to be followed until uniformity is established. If ever there was a prospect of bringing this about, Mr. Lang, ex-Premier of New South Wales, by the introduction of the famous 44-hour week, made uniformity impossible. Uniformity was never desired by Labour in the State sphere. The Queensland award for the shearers gave- the shearers in that State 5s. per 100 sheep more than the rate paid in other States. The Australian Workers Union is quite prepared to work under a federal award in five States, and under a State award in Queensland. It never desired the uniformity of hours that honorable members opposite are so keen about to-day. There is not even uniformity in our industrial laws, or in our taxation.

In New South Wales there are 88 federal awards and 455 State awards; in Victoria there are 111 federal awards and 185 State awards; in Queensland, which has had a Labour government misruling it for the last fifteen years, there are 24 federal awards and 252 State awards; in South Australia there are 74 federal awards and 191 State awards; in Western Australia there are 30 federal awards and 120 State awards; and in Tasmania there are 58 federal awards and 51 State awards.

The number of unionists working under federal awards is about 400,000, but under State awards there are between 500,000 and 600,000. There are only twelve federal awards which are operating in all the States. The attitude of organized labour to this bill may be gauged from a statement by Mr. Rymer, the State presi dent of the Queensland branch of the Australian Railways Union, as reported in the Baily Mail of the 31st May of this year : -

The change proposed by the Government would make little alteration in Queensland where most of the unions were operating under State awards. The problems of the remuneration of labour and the hours of such were inseparable from the problem of unemployment. The respective State parliaments should accept the responsibility of such matters as the basic wage, hours of labour, and unemployment, leaving the margin for skill and other details to State courts or boards. There was no more important issue facing the people’s political representatives under existing society than the solution of these problems. He believed that the Prime Minister’s proposals, if given effect to, would ultimately assist in that direction, by forcing recognition of the varying conditions and stages of development opcrating in the respective States, and which at present made Commonwealth-wide uniformity of hours, wages and conditions an impossibility.

Mr. Rymer, the leader of one of the greatest unions in Queensland, entirely endorsed the proposal of the Prime Minister, and declared that it was impossible under the existing circumstances to obtain uniformity of hours, wages and conditions. That is an effective reply to the only charge that I feel the Government is called upon to answer, that lack of uniformity of conditions will result from the passing of this legislation.

The bill makes full provision for the smooth transfer of unions from the existing to the State system of arbitration. Federal awards will operate until the 30th June, 1930, or until varied by the States. It will be within the province of each State to pass a measure providing for a continuance of the federal conditions until such time as it is deemed advisable to alter them by new awards of the State. Every precaution has been taken to avoid friction. I believe that the measure will bring about greater peace and harmony in industry, and that the friction and the overlapping of awards, the evil effects of which the country is now suffering, will be brushed aside, to usher in a new era of prosperity in our industries.

Before concluding I shall deal very briefly and, I hope, effectively with some false propaganda that has emanated from honorable members opposite and elsewhere as to the opinions of the

Premier of Queensland, Mr. A. E. Moore, on this subject. Mr. Moore has been accused of being opposed to the proposals of the Prime Minister. Here is a statement by him which recently appeared in the Brisbane press : -

The Premier, Mr. A. E. Moore, to-day made the following statement: -

It has come to my notice, said the Premier, that a circular over the signature of Mr. Lewis McDonald . ( Secretary of the Queensland Central Executive of the Australian Labour Party) has been issued to union executives containing a misrepresentation of my attitude towards the proposed abolition of the federal arbitration court. The circular submits a draft resolution of protest against the abolition of that court and urges that it be carried and forwarded to Queensland members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Federal Parliament. The proposed resolution contains the following incorrect statement : “ The Premier of Queensland (Mr. A. E. Moore) has publicly expressed his concurrence with the attitude of organized labour on this question.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I made my attitude on this question perfectly clear upon my return from the Premiers’ conference on June 3 last, when I stated : “ The outstanding achievement of the conference was the decision that the federal arbitration court should cease to function, except in relation to one or two special industries of an interstate character. Personally, I would have preferred increasing the industrial powers of the federal parliament in the interests of fair interstate competition and united control. None of the other States, however, would agree to this course. Therefore, rather than continue the present overlapping of State and federal awards, I agree that each State should accept full responsibility for the control of industrial affairs within its own borders.

In the same statement, I added the remarks of Mr. P. Collier, Labour Premier of Western Australia, on this subject. Mr. Collier said : “ I am not a unificationist. I believe Australia is too large to be controlled industrially from any one centre, and I prefer to take full responsibility for the control of industrial affairs in my State.”

There was considerable divergence of opinion, said Mr. Moore, as to whether industrial regulation should be controlled by the federal court or by State courts, but the Premiers of all States were unanimous that the existing pernicious duplication of federal and State tribunals should be ended.

Mr. Moore added: The Prime Minister (Mr. S. M. Bruce) suggested an agreement by all States to hand over exclusive jurisdiction to the federal court. This met with strong opposition from several States, andit was then decided unanimously that the best course to pursue to end the present chaotic conditions would be the withdrawal of federal jurisdiction except to a few industries of a purely interstate character.

There was no ambiguity whatever about my attitude towards this question, and my statement of the case cannot possibly be twisted to mean that I supported the retention of the federal arbitration court with State courts also in existence. With State courts operating, I favour the abolition of the federal court, and I sincerely urge upon the union executives concerned to regard this matter from the industrial and not from the party political viewpoint. The welfare of their members is dependent upon profitable and expanding industries, but the duplication of industrial tribunals has proved a very great obstacle to that achievement. With two tribunals operating in the same field, it is quite impossible to secure co-operative effort, stable conditions, or a restoration of confidence in those with money to invest in industrial development. It is equally impossible to attain those desirable ends if industrial affairs are permitted by the unions to be the football of party politics.

I wholeheartedly endorse the opinion of Mr. Moore. I feel that this should not be a party political matter. Our industries should be permitted to prosper unhampered as at present, and those engaged in them should have the right to work. If Australia is to prosper this continual harassing of employers and employees by the operations of conflicting awards and dual control must cease. We are a young nation, with our resources as yet almost untouched. We have greater opportunities than almost any nation in the world, but our prosperity is obviously being retarded by this perpetual conflict in our industrial jurisdiction. I feel confident that this bill will be passed and that if the new law and the State industrial laws are carefully and conscientiously administered, we shall have in industry that goodwill that is so necessary, and that co-operation that is essential to industrial welfare and prosperity. I look forward to the measure coming speedily into operation, and to the early realization of my expectations.


.I realize that this is one of the most important problems with which this chamber has had to deal. I have carefully followed the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite, and I give them credit for stating their opinions. They are fighting in defence of their leader and those whom they represent in this Parliament just as we, on this side, are fighting to support our deputy-leader and those whom we represent. The bill before theHouse seeks to repeal legislation which was introduced as far back as 1904. Because of the conditions under which the workers then found themselves, and the resultant industrial unrest, it was deemed advisable to establish a federal arbitration court to clear the atmosphere and to usher in an era of industrial peace and prosperity. Sub-section VI., section 2, of the original Act reads -

The chief objects of this Act are -

To facilitate and encourage the organization of representative bodies of employers and of employees and the submission of industrial disputes to the court by organizations, and to permit representative bodies of employers and of employees to be declared organizations for the purposes of this Act.

The act was brought into being to give both employers and employees an opportunity to set up organizations, through the medium of which grievances could be discussed either at round-table conferences or before a judge of the Arbitration Court. The workers of the country seized the opportunity to organize so that they might secure to themselves some measure of justice. They realized that under the proposed scheme it would not be necessary for individual workers to have to face their employers when submitting grievances, a procedure which invariably brought the wrath of the employer upon the employee concerned. At this juncture I wish to state that I am aware that there are many decent employers - and I have had the pleasure of working under some of them - but there are also unscrupulous employers who would do anything to penalize a worker for having the effrontery to make an effort to have his wrongs redressed. Industrial organizations were inaugurated, and the Federal Arbitration Court came into existence. The originators of this bill have been subjected to considerable abuse, justifiably in my opinion. Honorable members opposite have asked what is the use of having a federal conciliation and arbitration court if the workers refuse to accept its awards. 1 reply that the percentage of workers who have ignored such awards is small. And the practice is not peculiar only to the workers. The employers also have played their part in ignoring the awards of the court. I recall the fact that when the Australian builders’ labourers first went before the Arbitration Court and secured an award, at very great monetary cost to the union, the employers, despite their assurance that they would observe any constitutionally granted award, failed to honour their obligations. What do we find? Although it cost hundreds of pounds to secure that award, which the employees were willing to accept, the employers fought hard to evade it. When they failed to get an injunction against the award they took the case to the Privy Council. The workers were determined that, whatever the cost, the award should stand. That determination meant that they had to send a legal representative to England to fight their case. After his arrival in the Old Country circumstances arose which necessitated the postponement of the case. When it again came before the Privy Council, the award was upheld. The men were at last able to continue their work in peace. That is an example of the way in which the employers have attempted to flout the law. Increased living costs necessitated a further appeal by the workers to the court. The court was always prepared to give justice to the workers, and for that reason its President was ridiculed by many employers, and described as a man “prepared to toady to the workers of this country.” That was how they described a man who believed in fair dealing between employer and employee, a man who always endeavoured to do the right and just thing.- When the case came before Mr. Justice Higgins, he said that he would base his award on the cost of living figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician. In making his award he said that- if the organization had asked for ls. 9d. an hour he would have granted its application on the facts before him ; but as only ls. 6d. an hour had been applied for, he incorporated that rate in his award. The employers were not prepared to accept that award. They endeavoured to strike a blow at the weakest link in the chain, and concentrated their attack on the workers in Tasmania, thereby locking them out. Had they been successful in that attack, it was their intention to continue the fight in South Australia, that State being considered the next weakest link in the chain. After a battle lasting for sixteen’ weeks, the employees were successful. Again, the employers were forced to submit to an award made by a properly-constituted court. These instances are given to show that it is not always the workers who attempt to evade the awards of the court.

I am concerned with the effect which this bill, if agreed to, will have upon the workers of this country. A good deal has been said regarding overlapping awards. There may be some overlapping of awards, but there is not that overlapping that Government supporters would have us believe. For nineteen or twenty years Commonwealth awards have been in operation. They have affected- every State. In making their awards judges have always taken into consideration thei r effect on interstate trade. New South Wales and Victoria are the two great manufacturing States of the Commonwealth. In the former the working hours are 44 per week ; in Victoria there is a probability of a working week of 48 hours. What hope would the manufacturers of New South Wales have of competing against manufacturers in Victoria if, in addition to working shorter hours, they had to pay higher rates to their employees than their competitors in the southern State?

Honorable members opposite claim that the passing of this measure will bring about industrial peace. It will do nothing of the kind; its result will be industrial chaos. I predict that if this bill becomes law, we shall soon have the employers asking for some form of federal control. I have beer privileged to represent the workers on Sta.te wages boards, and I say unhesitatingly that this legislation will, in a short time, cause more industrial unrest than would have resulted in a lifetime from the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court. An award lately given by a State tribunal in Tasmania is typical .of what we might expect from other State industrial tribunals. On the 30th March last the Shipping Wages Board met in Hobart for the purpose of determining the wages and conditions which should operate in the shipping industry. Having heard evidence on both sides, the chairman decided on a wage of £4 for a week of 52 hours for men employed in the shipping trade in southern Tasmania, notwith- standing that at that time the basic wage for that part of Tasmania was £4 6s. a week.

Mr Martens:

– That is the Government’s idea of justice.


– Let us consider the reasons which prompted the Government to introduce this bill. For two or three years there has been an agitation on the part of hig English manufacturers to increase working hours and reduce wages. A committee was set up in London to discuss whether wages should he increased or decreased, and, if increased, whether industry could continue. A proposal was made at that conference that operatives in the cotton industry should accept a reduction of 25 per cent, in their wages, with an increase of four hours in the working week. Not long after that conference was held the “ Big Four “ visited Australia. The ability of those men cannot be questioned; they knew their job. But it is remarkable that following their visit and the publication of their report the Government introduced legislation to throw on the States the onus of regulating industry. It did so knowing full well the result of State industrial legisation in the past, and that similar results must be expected from State legislation in the future.

This bill is a deliberate attack upon the standard of living in this country, notwithstanding the assurance of the Prime Minister that he does not desire to see that standard lowered - that he believes in good wages and conditions for the workers. He has urged that there must be either more production or that the cost of production must be reduced. Honorable members will recollect that a few years ago the cry was “ Produce, produce, produce.” What happened when heed was taken to that cry, and the operatives in the boot industry increased their production? More boots were made than could be disposed of, with the result that men and women in the industry were unemployed and starving. There was no possibility of their product being consumed so that they could be kept in employment. The trouble is due not to over production, but to under consumption. If wages were higher the workers could consume more.

Mr Gregory:

– Would they produce more to enable higher wages to be paid ?


– The workers employed in Tasmania by Henry Jones & Co. produced to such an extent that that firm was deliberately dumping fruit in the river, although hundreds of starving people would have been glad to eat it, or convert it into jam. This bill is an attack upon the workers and must be resisted to the last ditch. If the Prime Minister thinks that by removing from the Commonwealth Statute Book, legislation that has been there for the last 25 years, he will bring about peace in industry, he is sadly mistaken. After I had attended the Geneva Conference in 1922, 1 returned to London, and instead of indulging in joy jaunts, I took the opportunity to visit many industrial centres in order to learn firsthand the conditions of the workers. I saw thousands of men unemployed, and I hope that we shall never have similar industrial conditions in Australia. But I foresee dire possibilities when the employers find themselves free from the restrictions imposed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Even to-day, in spite of the awards of the court, they are taking advantage of the economic depression, and when they have “ an open go “ they will exploit the necessity of thousands of unemployed, whom starvation will compel to accept whatever conditions are offered. To-day we hear Government supporters complaining of the restrictive effect of the arbitration court upon industry, and they have criticized the declaration of Mr. Justice Higgins that if an industry cannot pay the basic wage, it should go out of existence. Many times employers have said that if the award of the court involved the payment of more wages, they would not continue their industry. But how many industries have been closed down as the result of awards of the court? “When I put that question by interjection to the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Grosvenor Francis) he quoted the mining industry. The court has not been responsible for the closing down of one mine in Australia. Honorable members must realise that the first ton of ore produced is the cheapest, and that the cost rises as the mine increases in depth. The honorable member for Kennedy referred -to Charters Towers. That field, like nearly every other in the Commonwealth, was worked out. A lode can be profitably worked only to a certain depth, and while the ore is of sufficient value. In the early nineties, Tasmania was lifted out of the slough of depression by the mineral wealth won from the soil, and I believe it has still mineral resources which will again make it prosperous. It is one of the richest States in the Commonwealth, but has been badly governed and mismanaged. The Mathinnia field at one time produced a large quantity of gold and carried a population of between 1,500 and 2,000; to-day. there are not more than 30 persons left in the town. The population has diminished, not because of any award of the arbitration court, but because the lodes have petered out. The Beaconsfield mine was worked for nearly 40 years, and supported a population of between 3,000 and 4,000; to-day there are not more than 200 people there. Again the reason was that the lode had become too poor for profitable working. The Lefroy field yielded large quantities of gold, but its population has dropped from nearly 2,000 to 30 or 40. Not one mine is working at Zeehan to-day. The Bendigo and Ballarat fields at one time supported large armies of miners, but today mining is dead because the lodes have either petered out or are too low-grade to be operated at a profit. Kalgoorlie, too, has slumped, but the workings are thousands of feet longer or deeper than when the arbitration court first made awards for the industry. Even if wages had not increased, every additional foot of sinking or driving would have added to the cost of production. In addition the value of the ore has decreased. Awards of the arbitration court have not affected the cost of mining in Western Australia, and the honorable members for Kennedy and Angas were hard-up for an argument when they had to quote the mining industry as an example of the effects of the arbitration court. Although honorable members opposite contend that the arbitration system has had the effect of retarding industry, the statistics in the year book show a steady increase in the number and size of factories throughout Australia. The manufacturers have been prepared to honour the awards of the court, but owing to the low protection given to them by the tariff, they have not been able to withstand the competition from abroad. “We hear a good deal about the patriotism of the Briton ; the truth is that he is loyal to his pocket. Millions of pounds of British capital have been invested in the erection of mills in China, in order to exploit the cheap coolie labour to the detriment of the British worker. The products of those mills are sent to Great Britain, and thence re-exported to Australia as of British origin. If the present standard of living is to be maintained, what chance has the Australian worker to compete against Chinese men, women and children, who are working from 14 to 16 hours a day, at a daily wage of from l0d. to1s. 3d.?

Much abuse has been hurled by honorable members opposite at the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and the trade union leaders. I happen to be a member of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, a body that was brought into being to assist in establishing industrial peace and maintaining Australian conditions. Certain statements have been made by honorable members supporting the Government respecting a resolution passed by that body, affirming that a ballot should be taken in the trade union movement on the question whether the unions should withdraw from the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. Because of that we are accused on the one hand of supporting the continuation of the Arbitration Court and on the other hand, of desiring to abolish it. Much has been said about that, and about the attitude of Mr. George Rymer of Queensland. No union representative associated with the Arbitration Court made any attempt to support the resolution of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. The very fact that we are here to-day advocating the retention of the court is sufficient answer to the honorable members behind the Government. It was not the intention under that resolution, to break away from the Arbitration Court altogether. It was an endeavour to try to alter unsatisfactory conditions.We must admit that there is a certain amount of confusion existing under the arbitration system.

Mr Gregory:

– Has not the trade union movement asked for its abolition?


– The trade union movement of this country has never asked for that.

Mr Gregory:

– The railways organization did.


– It did nothing of the sort. Its desire was to make the system more workable.


– That body evidently did not understand the meaning of its own words.


– Perhaps the honorable member- himself also does not understand it. The very fact that the State instrumentalities that were for a number of years under State boards are now desirous of coming under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court is evidence that the Courtis doing valuable work and should be retained. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis), referred to a statement that appeared in the Argus, that a certain employer operating in Melbourne was working under so many different awards that he really ‘did not know whether his employees were coming or going. The hours operating in the factory were from 48 to 35 a week. The clerical staff would work 35 hours, and 44 and 48 hours would be worked by two different sections of the workers. The section working 48 hours would be under the State industrial law, and that working 44 hours would be under federal awards. At that particular factory every employee is working either under federal award or under federal agreement.When the employer does not know when his employees are coming or going, it is because his employees work the 48 hours in five days. Some of them have their luncheon inside, and others outside. The employer has been in business for 43 or 44 years and hehas never had one industrial dispute in his factory. That should be a sufficient answer to those who are crying out against the disastrous effect that the overlapping of Federal and State awards has upon industry. To-day there are two big industries in New SouthWales and Victoria known as the boot trade and the clothing trade. If, after the 30th June, those industries are to be left to the tender mercy of State tribunals, there is likely to be a lowering of wages and conditions. While the federal system has been in operation the employers and employees have always been prepared to meet in conference and to fix wages according to the cost of living. That practice is likely to go by the board if this bill is passed. The following is a statement by the general secretary of the clothing trade. (Mr. Herbert Carter) -

In an enlightened community to-day it may he superfluous to recall Thomas Hood’s tragic “ Song of the Shirt.” Before the days of federation in Australia, however, the conditions of sweating in the clothing trades, especially in what is known as outdoor work, approximate to the story told by Hood. Those days, everyone hopes, have gone forever, but there are many people in the industry to-day who have very vivid and. poignant memories of them. The Federal Arbitration Court gave the clothing employees a charter. Men, women, and even children, gained a fresh hope of life.. Their charter is now threatened by the proposal of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to abandon federal conciliation and arbitration.

Much has been said about the delays occasioned in reaching a decision by the Commonwealth Court. On one occasion the Clothing Trade Wages Board’ in Victoria took approximately eighteen months to reach a determination,and that board dealt only with the tailoring section of the industry. It must be remembered that the Federal Arbitration Court iu making an award in the clothing industry floes so for every section of the employees at One time, whereas under the wages board system we had separate wages boards for order and ready-made tailoring, order and ready-made dressmaking, collars, shirts and pyjamas; underclothing and white-work; headgear and millinery; dyes and clothes cleaners and umbrellas. With all these boards meeting at different times there was much delay, and great expense was incurred. The power conferred upon the wages board by the Factories Act is so restrictive that a majority decision of the board could not completely deal with 80 per cent, of the conditions set out in the Clothing Trade Award.

That means that if this bill is carried, and the workers have to rely upon State legislation, those who have given all their time to the industry to try to improve the conditions of the workers will be denied the right to represent them on any State tribunal either in Victoria or Tasmania, the two States in question. There should be a paid representative of the employee on any industrial tribunal, because we have had experience of men being victimized because in putting their case they have had. the courage to stand up to their employer. It is difficult to prove victimization, but I know of one case in which, under the Wages Board system, a young man, who did not take a broad hint when putting his case before his employer, was not long afterwards deprived of his job. It could not be proved that that was a case of victimization. The employers were simply dispensing with the services of a man.

I trust that the bill will not be carried. Honorable members opposite claim that the system of federal arbitration has been fully tried out. It has not. Ever since its inception it has been subjected to a continual barrage from the employers’ federations throughout Australia, and it has not received a proper trial. I believe that the original measure could be suitably amended to facilitate the approach to the court by unions and to make it more workable. I hope that the motion now before the House will be defeated, and that the system of federal arbitration will continue to operate and to govern the industrial conditions of Australia.


.The reasons for the introduction of this bill, intimating as it does the retirement of the Government from the arbitration field, except in those industries specifically mentioned, have been adequately’stated by the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the Treasurer, and honorable members on this side. It is not my intention to reiterate them. Let it suffice for me to say that I am heartily in agreement with the Government in the matter, and I trust that the good sense of the House will give the bill a speedy passage. We have listened to many honorable members of the Opposition to whom I think we need pay not much attention. Rather should we examine their past actions and ask why they remained silent at times when the whole system of federal arbitration was in danger.


– Read Avhat the Attorney-General said in the past.


– I shall read an extract that was sent to me anonymously, and taken from the Bulletin of the 28th August of this year. It reads -

The Federal Parliamentary Labour party has met and resolved that the timber strikers are acting nobly in their insurrection against the federal award. At the same time it demands that the Federal Arbitration Court should continue to exist and hand out awards, to be treated the same way, or worse. It is a purely Scullinary attitude.

Right here let me say that I do not approve of the writer using Mr. Scullin’s name in that manner. If there is one man connected with the official Labour party to-day who has done something to maintain federal arbitration and to induce the workers to live up to it, it is Mr. Scullin. The honorable member may have fallen by the way on one or two occasions, but speaking generally, he has manfully stood up to what he considers should he done. The extract continues - but the Scullins have put the last nail in the coffin of federal arbitration. The Commonwealth cannot make its court’s decisions respected unless it has power to interfere in disturbances, wherever they may arise, and has police and military forces with which to scatter insurrectionary mobs. There being no visible chance of getting the power, the obvious course is for the Commonwealth to get out of the arbitration business.

I am in agreement with the writer. I believe that the lack of action of the official Labour party is largely responsible for the attitude that the Government has been forced to adopt in connexion with arbitration. You, Mr. Speaker, will remember that line from The Ballad of Reading Gaol, “ For each man kills the thing he loves.” The Labour party declares that it has always been favorably inclined towards federal arbitration, claiming it more or less as its own child; but it has failed to support it as it should have been supported. It will be remembered that that party adopted a similar attitude towards the Commonwealth shipping line. That line no longer exists. It went out of existence because the leaders of the Labour party had not the courage to tell unionists to do the fair thing by the people of this country.

During the last week or two, I, in common with other honorable members, have been deluged with circular letters from unions throughout Australia. These letters contained a resolution dealing with the intention of the Government to ‘depart also from the field of arbitration, and carried protest against that action. Those protests would have carried more weight with me, and I think with other honorable members, if they had been the spontaneous expression of the unions con- cerned, but in the main they were copies of resolutions passed by some central body and sent out with the request that they should be despatched to all federal members, evidently in the hope that, as they were allegedly the views of the many unions, it would be believed that there was force behind the arguments advanced. No doubt honorable members have read and studied those resolutions and protests. I am satisfied that the unions concerned have cried out before they are hurt. That might be a very wise precaution under certain conditions, but I am confident that no danger will come to the workers of Australia as a result of the bill that is now before the House. They will be safeguarded under the State courts just as securely as they are to-day under the dual control of State and Federation. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) quoted certain figures to show to how small ah extent federal awards are nation-wide in their application. If 3 remember rightly, the number of awards operating in each of the six States is twelve, out of a total of something like 154 gazetted federal awards. It will bc competent for the unions to register existing awards under the State courts. Certain unions are purely federal in character. One of the first letters that I received on the subject was from the Australian Journalists Association, pointing out that its members work at times in one State and at times in another, and that it would be very difficult for them to obtain justice if they worked under six separate awards. I am satisfied that an arrangement can be made whereby the existing conditions, which are entirely satisfactory to both parties, will be gazetted in each of the States, and that no hardship will result to the man engaged in that profession. A similar state oi affairs applies to members of the theatrical profession. Their case is even more difficult and complicated than that of the journalists, because for every one journalist who travels from State to State there are scores of individuals following the theatrical profession who do so. But I am confident that if we and the authorities of the various States are in earnest about the matter, those. difficulties will be overcome.

It is not my intention to discuss the bill in detail. I shall not claim that it has been debated ad nauseam, because I agree with honorable members that it is one of the most important measures that has come up for discussion for a long time. I make it quite clear that I support the Government. I contend that no other course is open to it. The Government has been accused of having turned a political somersault. Member after member opposite has quoted extracts from the speeches of the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, and others, in an endeavour to show that what the Government stood for in 1926, when the amended bill was under discussion, is not on all fours with what it preaches to-day. It may not be possible for honorable members to find a definite statement in a speech made by either the Prime Minister or the AttorneyGeneral to the effect that the proposed amendments were the last endeavour to make the Arbitration Court workable. But there is no honorable member on this side who was not fully convinced that that was the object of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. There were those who said, at the time, “ Away with the court. It is unworkable.” The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, in their greater wisdom, refused to accept that conclusion. They said “ Let us make a further attempt to render it workable.” They did so. As a result, a little order has come out of chaos, but not sufficient to warrant the continuance of the federal authority in the field of arbitration. No other course is now open to the Government. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) claimed that the Government and this party had no right to introduce the measure without a mandate from lie people. I cannot accept that contention. If the leader of a party puts forward a programme in his policy speech and is returned to power on it, he is in duty bound to carry out the promises that he made. But he is not prevented from embarking, in addition, on a new line of action. How would progress come if Parliament was always to follow and never to lead? That is one reason why I give my wholehearted support to the Government in this matter. I recognize in it a body of men who are prepared to lead, and to stake their political existence on what they consider to be in the best interests of Australia. I sincerely trust that the good sense of the members of this House will induce them to give their support to the measure now under discussion.

East Sydney

– I do not pay much attention to the remarks of the last speaker. One of his main reasons for supporting the bill is that some union secretaries have written to him urging that it is a dangerous thing for the Federal Government to vacate the field of industrial arbitration. I look on the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as the keystone to the edifice that has done so much to improve the social, moral, and financial standards of the industrial classes of Australia. Even though my remarks may not satisfy honorable members opposite, I hope that they will satisfy the people of Australia. I remember the time when in the early days of Federation the late Hon. C. C. Kingston visited me in my house in Sydney and accompanied me to the Trades Hall, where he put certain proposals before the Trades and Labour Council. Listening to him I felt that the introduction of a system of arbitration and conciliation in the settlement of industrial disputes would remedy many of the evils then afflicting humanity. In time arbitration as a means of ensuring industrial harmony became the watchword of numbers of public men in New South Wales, and an attempt was made to introduce legislation providing for it. As one who has taken an active part in arbitration matters, I am surprised that the Government does not realise the benefits which the system has conferred on the women of Australia. No measure passed by this Parliament has done more for the women of this country than has the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Wise counsels prevailed in the last British election, for no less than nine women were elected to the Mother of Parliaments. It would be well if we had a few women members in this Parliament, for then honorable members opposite might realise that women are living creatures, worthy of respect and of better treatment than this bill metes out to them. As a sanitary engineer and plumber, it has been my duty to visit factories and workshops in my State, and I have frequently been seriously at variance with the employers of labour because of the conditions under which women were forced to work in the factories and workshops. The conditions in many factories were a damnable disgrace to those concerned. In the boot trade a number of women were employed, but separate places of convenience were not provided for the sexes. I feel that in these matters, if I am to use my best endeavours for those whom I represent, I must call a spade a spade. When the question of providing separate accommodation for males and females was brought up in the courts, it was decided to refer it to the plumbers. Their recommendations were adopted, and to-day much better conditions exist. I am of the opinion that the womanhood of this country should not engage in many of the occupations in which women are found to-day. Nature never made women to fill such positions. But seeing that women are employed in industry, it is right that special provision should be made for them. To-day, in every factory of certain dimensions in which women are employed, a trained nurse must be in attendance. But is it not shameful that the force of the law was needed to provide such protection for them ? All these improvements in the conditions of women workers have been brought about as the result of the Arbitration Court. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act was not placed on the Statute Book solely in the interests of those the nature of whose employment necessitates the soiling of their hands, and the wearing of dungaree suits and hobnailed boots. It applies also to the brain workers. In my early days, men employed in offices were treated worse than Arabs, Egyptians, Indians or- Chinese. In 1881, and 1882. when I was a young man, the conditions under which journalists worked, earned them the designation of “ penny-a-liners “. Their mid-day meal consisted of an onion, a bit of bread and a pint of beer. A man was required to attend at the office at 9 o’clock; at 9.30 he was probably at the Supreme Court ; at 10.30, at the police court; in the afternoon he reported a gathering of ladies; and in the evening the proceedings of the

Trades and Labour Council or some other body. So strenuous was the work, that I have seen the. poor fellow who was reporting the proceedings of the Trades and Labour Council fall over the table exhausted. On such occasions, I prepared a report for him; and whether he improved it later or not, I know that the report I prepared was always a good one. Since those days the status of journalists has been improved considerably as a result of awards given by the Arbitration Court. Many honorable members opposite know nothing of these matters, for they have been fortunate enough not to have had to soil their hands in industry, but have followed occupations in which there has been little to do and good pay for doing it. I have here a letter from the federal executive of the Australian Journalists Association -

I have been directed by my association to ask you to use your best endeavours to prevent the abolition of Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration as proposed by the Prime Minister.

The Australian Journalists’ Association, which has always’ advocated and adopted constitutional methods of adjusting industrial differences, has been registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act since 1910.

We have found the conciliatory provisions of that Act most effective in enabling us to discuss our differences at round table conferences with newspaper proprietors, the result being that we have industrial agreements covering practically all the newspapers of the Commonwealth.

Our latest negotiation was in May last, when we met representatives of the proprietors of metropolitan daily newspapers in compulsory conference. An agreement was reached and Judge Lukin made it an award, by consent, to operate from 1st June last for a period of five years.

We have been compelled to strongly oppose the proposal of the Prime Minister because -

It will penalize our association and members just as efficiently as if we had been deregistered by the court for an illegal action.

We shall be deprived of our charter and all our efforts for the last twenty years in building an Australian professional organization will be shattered by dividing our association into separate and independent State bodies. (3 Industrial discord will be created in newspaper offices, where harmony has hitherto prevailed, as the result of the operation of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, and where in the largest offices peace has just been re-assured for a further five years.

Our members will be compelled to submit their disputes to the conflicting industrial regulations of the States. This will bring about inequalities, and many will not receive industrial protection, as their permanent or temporary employment will be in a State beyond the jurisdiction of the award or agreement purporting to cover them.

We believe that most of the Federal Arbitration Court awards have had the effect of allaying industrial unrest, and only in a few isolated instances have strikes occurred in which the court has had jurisdiction.

Nearly one-third of the 143 awards of the Federal Court were made by the consent of the parties, and they form the substances for determinations made by State tribunals, and therefore we support the contention of other federated unions that the indirect, as well as the direct, result of the abolition of the Federal Court will be injurious.

If the States alone are left to carry out industrial experiments they will create a series of disassociated judgments which will have but little relation to one another, and will cause widespread discontent among employers and employees of the Commonwealth.

We are strongly of the opinion that wages and conditions of employment should be regulated throughout the Commonwealth on the same basis, and not on the conflicting foundations laid down by the various State tribunals.

We feel that with each State determining wages and conditions at varying periods, industries throughout the Commonwealth would be in a constant state of unrest and their development hampered.

We ask you, therefore, to seriously consider these conclusions, which are based on the feelings of our members and our observations of the various organizations which have also used the Federal Arbitration Court, and have loyally abided by its decisions, upheld its prestige, and are highly appreciative of the standard of living it has ensured and the protection it has afforded them. [Quorum formed.] The writer of that letter is a man of literary ability, and he has shown that the Government is making a mistake in proposing to repeal the Arbitration Act. He is expressing the view of men who follow an intellectual occupation ; they are not like the mere labourers for whose views the Prime Minister and his colleagues have such little regard. I am always pleased to read a communication that shows literary capacity and a knowledge of the subject with which it deals. I quote now from a letter sent by the Federated State School Teachers’ Association -

At a council meeting of this association held since the Premiers’ Conference it was resolved -

That in view of the necessity for promoting an Australian national outlook through an Australian education system, this Federal Council of Australian Teachers stands by the principle of federal arbitration and will make all endeavours to overcome constitutional obstacles.

I am delighted that the school teachers are not mere State righters whose vision does not extend beyond their vest pockets. The letter continues -

It will be seen from the resolution that we support measures that will retain arbitration, not necessarily in its present form, and which will place arbitration in the hands of the Federal Parliament in a form that will be effective. We are, by . decision of the High Court, placed outside federal arbitration constitutionally. We seek redress of that position, holding that State services should have the assistance of federal arbitration in determining their salaries and service values to the States that employ them. State servants should have full benefits of Australian privileges.

We shall be pleased to have consideration of our viewpoint in the movement that will take place in arbitration in the approaching session of the Federal Parliament.

The school teachers show by the resolution I have quoted a wise foresight. Once arbitration is removed from federal control there will be no uniformity of conditions in different parts of Australia. That letter conveys more than all the oratory of honorable members. School teachers are not men who would commitoutrages; they cannot be designated communists or bolsheviks. They have stated an intelligent view of what is proper and essential to the progress of Australia. The State Instrumentalities Unions Committee is a most representative body. Some of the men for whom it speaks are receiving salaries higher than the basic wage; others, like myself, hold the diploma for plumbing or the degree of Bachelor of Science. These men do not soil their hands and wear hobnailed boots and dungarees, and for that reason their views should receive respect even from honorable members opposite. In a letter to me the committee states -

Having spent a considerable sum of money in prosecuting awards, and having experienced the advantages of being able to approach the Federal Judiciary, it is unlikely that State servants will submit to a loss of those rights, and any attempt to filch them away must inevitably result in a united front on the political field, until such time as those rights are regained, and possibly turmoil amongst those unions representing workers more definitely of a manual character would be precipitated. We stand for the rectification of grievances by constitutional means, and believe that this can only be achieved with content to the great body of employees and satisfaction to the nation, by the continuance of access to federal tribunals.

I have also a communication from the Printing Trades Union. The printing industry has a fine system of apprenticeship which produces highly skilled tradesmen who take a pride in their occupation. The result is that their work is the finest of its kind that is done in any part of the world. The letter from the union reveals the progress which the industry has made in Australia -

Printing is fourth highest in importance in the industries of Australia.

The first five industries of Australia, in the order of importance when judged by the value added to raw materials (the Commonwealth Statist says that this is the real measure of the value of production of manufacturing industries), in the process of manufacture for the years shown, are -

Before this bill is passed the Government should show the House in what way the operation of the arbitration system is dangerous to the community. I advise it to study the figures which I now propose to place before it before proceeding further. The number of factories in Australia in 1917 was 1,232; in 1920-1921, 1,259; and in 1926-1927, 1,533. Honorable members behind the Government pitch a gloomy and sorrowful tale about the financial position of Australia, and, unfortunately, their statements are broadcast overseas. Nothing is more injurious to this country. The following figures will show the progress that has been made in Australia. The production of the Commonwealth of Australia has increased in the last seven years from £379,382,000 to £442,000,000, an increase of £62,618,000, the figures for the respective years being: - 1922-1923, £379,382,000; 1923-1924, £400,183,000; 1924-1925, £454,106,000; 1925-1926, £431,504,000; 1926-1927, £446,874,000 1927-1928, £453,311,000; and 1928-1929, approximately £442,000,000. Those figures should dissipate the gloom and pessimism of honorable members behind the Government. I cannot understand the attitude of the Prime Minister. His speech was painful to listen to. The question which occurred to me while he was speaking, was, how on earth the Government had been able to get into such a financial tangle. During the seven years that this Government has administered this country, it has embarked upon an orgy of extravagance. No provision has been made for the future, and it is high time that a change of government took place. The cost of the Constitutional Commission was £18,000. I was a member of the original federal committee, and Sir Robert Garran, who was also a member, knows very well that its cost was infinitesimal compared with that of the Constitutional Commission. [Quorum formed.] The Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs made addresses to the House that were full of abuse of individuals connected with the Labour party. They failed to display that character and statesmanship which should be inherent in those who occupy the Treasury bench. They should at least set an example to other honorable members and not resort to guttersniping and other lowdown methods.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom:

– The honorable member must withdraw those references.


– I do so. Honorable members supporting the Government are endeavouring to make out that unemployment and the other disabilities that Australia is suffering . from have been brought about by the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. To resort to such an argument is an act of sheer desperation, but let me assure them that that kind of talk is not likely to mislead the people. The following is taken from an authoritative document: -

The thrift of our people is perhaps the most gratifying feature of our economic position. Savings banks deposits have risen from £102,275,000 in 1922 to £215,188,000 in 1928; an increase of £52,913,000. From 1923 to 1927, life insurance policies have increased by 70,823 to a total of 866,710, while the sum insured in the latter year was £262,276,366, an increase of £52,226,421. In industrial insurance the figures are equally encouraging. The number of policies in 1927 totalled 1,481,044, an increase of 337,040 over 1923, whilst the sum insured increased by £20,723,750 to a total of £60,732,865. In life and industrial insurance combined the sum insured in 1927 was £323,009,231, an increase in’ four years of £72,950,171.

In view of those figures honorable members behind the Government surely cannot allow the impression to be broadcast throughout the world that Australia is an impoverished nation, making little or no progress. Is it any wonder that the moneylenders of Europe are chary of us? Is it any wonder that our loans are floated at £93 17s. at high rates of interest, and that we have to provide £6 13s. to redeem loans raised at £5. In the interests of my electors I feel that it is my duty to place these things before this Parliament and the country generally.

Here is another paragraph that should have some effect on the Government -

The thrift of the people was also demonstrated in the ownership of their own homes. The 1911 census disclosed that 52.22 per cent, of private dwellings were either owned or were being purchased by the occupants. At the 1921 census this percentage had increased to 56.32 per cent., and it may be confidently expected, with the additional financial accommodation being granted by house-building authorities, that the 1931 census, will disclose a further large increase in the percentage.

That thrift has been brought about by the interest taken by the Labour party in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Before a people can become prosperous it must secure a standard of living that gives it something over and above the mere cost of subsistence. My statistics confound the dismal Jeremiahs opposite.

I was considerably impressed with the reference that was made to the recent referendum. I hold very pronounced views on the subject - views which have the approval of some of the most prominent business men in Sydney. Those views are based on long experience and a close study of the subject. When this Government submitted the last referendum to the people, it so condensed the questions that the average working man was quite unable to grasp their meaning. A friend of mine in Sydney, who owns and controls a large commercial establishment, told me that he did not understand the ramifications of the proposal; but that he had voted for it. He asked me for an explanation of the matter. I obliged, and be became convinced that he had done the right thing. I have voted for every referendum, with the exception of conscription, which I detested. When my constituents asked me to oppose the last referendum, I referred them to the platform of the Labour party, and I proved that my attitude was the right one. Curiously enough, many large oil companies, newspaper concerns, and other important commercial undertakings voted against that referendum, because, like many of my supporters, they were apprehensive of the Government in power. Because of that fear the Labour party lost thousands of votes on that referendum, and, if honorable members on this side desire to have the powers of the Federal Government amplified, they must first effect a change of government. The confidence of the people will then be restored, and this party will be able to proceed unhindered to realize its humanitarian ideals. This Government has acted in a most objectionable manner in regard to the arbitration judiciary, which is now constituted of governmental appointees, who have not the approval of that section of the community which comes under the operation of the act.

I must express my indignation at the Prime Minister’s reference to the case of the timber workers. I think that awards should be obeyed; but these unfortunate timber workers were so harassed by the action of their employers that they were goaded beyond endurance. The Prime Minister cannot comprehend the distress under which many workers labour. He is the. child of fortune, who moves only in the most exclusive circles, and whose sympathies are naturally alienated from the under-dog. His association with the coal-mining strike was also of a regrettable nature. The Prime Minister and Mr. Bavin, the Premier of New South Wales, attended the oft-quoted conference merely as advocates for the mine-owners. How different was their action from that of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, the Labour Premier of Great Britain, during the recent dispute in the cotton industry in that country. The cotton-spinners of Lancashire met in conference and decided to effect a very considerable cut in the wages of their employees. The employees concerned numbered about 200,000, and the employers only about 418. The Labour Prime Minister of Great Britain did not view the situation with a detached air of super refinement. He immediately visited the industrial centre concerned, and exhaustively investigated the matter, calling to his assistance the best brains of the country. Within a few hours they had arrived at an agreement by which the men were to return to work at a reduction not of 13 per cent., but of 6 per cent., in their wages, and the whole matter was to bc referred to arbitration. Those employers were big men, not actuated by motives of animosity against those in their employ. With these fine examples before it, one wonders why the Government could not rise above party. In our newspapers we read how Mr. Philip Snowden had not been long in office before he took the train to Dover and crossed the English Channel to the continent to inverview the statesmen of France and Germany and other nations concerned with reparations. The result of his visit was that the British nation was placed on a higher pedestal than it had occupied under the Baldwin regime, or any of the Tory governments that have cursed England for years. The Ramsay MacDonald Government contains some of the finest, brains in the Old Country - brains which will he used to confer lasting benefits on the people. In its comparatively few hours of office, it has already restored the confidence of the people in the government of the country - a confidence such as does not -exist in

Australia to-day. There will be no settlement of the problems confronting Australia until there has been a change of government. As surely as the sun will rise to-morrow, there will be a return to prosperity with a change of government in Australia.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.


, - I shall not speak at great length on this bill, for I realize that there are still many honorable members on both sides who desire to express their views. But on an occasion like this I am not prepared to give a silent vote. I shall endeavour briefly to explain the reason why I intend to cast my vote in favour of the bill. It is not that the fate of the Government is at stake.

Honorable members opposite have reiterated that the passing of this legislation means the abolition of arbitration. I submit that that is not so. I point out that the bill retains to the Commonwealth the control of the maritime industries; the existing awards of the court will be preserved in their entirety till the 30th June next, unless in the meantime State legislation of a conflicting character is enacted. [Quorum formed.’] The bill does not abolish arbitration; it merely paves the way for the establishment of one authority. It will give to the States full power to act in circumstances in which the Commonwealth lacks power to do so. There is no foundation for the charge that the Nationalist party has discarded arbitration as a principle, or that the passing of this measure will dislocate industry. It has been urged that the people should be consulted before this bill comes into operation. Surely, after four unsuccessful attempts to get the electors to agree to an alteration of the Constitution, another appeal to them is not justified at a time when the Commonwealth is experiencing serious financial and economic difficulties. It is said that the Prime Minister’s outlook is altogether too doleful. I have read the report of the recent Premiers Conference, and noted with interest that the only Labour Premier present spoke in much the same strain. Indeed his remarks were even more emphatic than those of the Prime Minister. He concluded by saying that the industrial situation in the Commonwealth was largely responsible for the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. There is nothing inconsistent about the action of the Government in introducing, this bill. We must judge its views on arbitration not by this hill alone, but by its general attitude towards industrial questions. Honorable members should not forget that when the primary producers of Australia, particularly those in Queensland and Western Australia, were faced with ruin, the passing of the Transport Workers Act, introduced by the Government, restored a reasonable measure of peace in industry, and secured to those primary producers a market for their produce.

The Opposition has challenged the Government to appeal to the electors on the arbitration question; but it has not displayed a great deal of enthusiasm about the matter. When on a previous occasion the Opposition challenged the Government on an issue, the Nationalist party swept the poll; and I have no doubt that if the present challenge were accepted, and an appeal made to the country, the Government would have another decisive victory. Honorable members opposite should be chary about issuing challenges of this nature.

One or two features of the bill appeal to me - particularly the provision for the abolition of penalties for strikes and lockouts. Similar legislation in the sister dominion of New Zealand has had good results. With this legislation on the statute-book we can expect more har- monious relations between employers and employees. Under existing conditions a dispute must spread to more than one State before the Federal Arbitration Court can deal with it. The very atmosphere caused by the present legislation tends to the spreading of disputes. This bill will remedy that state of affairs by creating an entirely different atmosphere - one in which more conciliatory methods will be possible. I am very glad that the proposed maritime committees will be expected to pay regard to the possible economic effect of any determination they may make. The people approve of the protection of the workers by insuring to them a fair wage and decent working conditions, but for some time they have realized that those who pay the piper must also be considered. The Government is wise, therefore, in proposing that the consumers who will be affected by the determinations of the maritime committees must be studied.

A great deal has been said about the need for uniformity. That argument would have some weight if uniformity were possible in all respects, but the States have varying climates, assets, liabilities, and productive capabilities. It has been impossible to bring about uniformity even in taxation. Therefore, any lack of uniformity that may result from the system proposed by the Government will not be very serious. In any case, I cannot see that uniformity will be seriously prejudiced by the bill. Of the 155 industrial Commonwealth awards operating in Australia only twelve are applicable to all the States, and the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers Union . has deliberately elected to be under the jurisdiction of the State Arbitration Court, although all other branches are registered in the Commonwealth Court. Mr. Lang’s introduction of the 44-hour working week and the child endowment legislation in New South Wales did more than anything else in its political history to bring aboutunemployment in that State, and to defeat the ideal of uniformity of industrial conditions throughout the Commonwealth. Honorable members of the Opposition have declared that duplication of awards is not a serious detriment to industry, but I am told that seventeen industries in Victoria alone are adversely affected by the overlapping of Federal and State awards. As an example of this vexatious anomaly, I mention the implement manufacturing business of H. V. McKay and Company; it is subject to fifteen Federal awards and 23 State awards or determinations, the provisions of which in regard to hours, overtime, holidays, and other conditions vary. There are Federal and State awards applying to men doing the same work. That is the case with the carters and drivers. Another anomaly is that non-unionists can have no rights under a federal award. The industrial powers of . the Commonwealth do not permit the court to make a common rule, and it can function only when an interstate dispute is brought about by interested parties. The State courts on the other hand have complete power to make their awards applicable to all persons engaged in an industry.

There has been much talk of errors of judgment, and we have been told that the Nationalist platform is slipping from under our feet. I have no fears in that regard, and I hope I have proved that there is no justification for the statement that by this legislation the principle of arbitration is being seriously prejudiced. On the contrary, provision is being made for more conciliatory methods of adjusting the differences between employer and employee. I have full confidence in my leader and his colleagues, and am prepared to defend their work during the last six years to bring about industrial peace. So far as the limits imposed by the Constitution would allow, they have done what the majority of the people would have them do. The only producers of real wealth - commodities that can bo marketed abroad at a profit - are the primary producers, and it would have been a sorry day for them if the Labour party had been in power during the last few years, for neither the Leader of the Opposition nor any member of his party has had the courage to say a word in behalf of the man on the land. I am convinced that the Government is wise in proposing that the Commonwealth shall withdraw from an unwholesome atmosphere. The Federal Court has not brought about a better relationship between employer and employee, and when the way is made clear for the courts of the sovereign States to function without hindrance, a new industrial era will dawn. Unfortunately there are in the chamber croakers, who predict calamity as the consequence of every proposal that the Government brings forward. When the Financial Agreement Bill was submitted to this House there were members even on the ministerial side who said that the Leader of the Government was without political judgment, and that he was leading the party to destruction. That re-adjustment of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States was one of the biggest jobs ever tackled by any government in Australia, and who dare criticize it to-day? It has given stability to the finances of both the Commonwealth and the States, and has established a permanent Loan Council, without which it is doubtful whether we could overcome our financial difficulties. Because of its general record in the industrial and financial realms, I. am happy to support the Government, and I wish it luck in dealing with this measure.


.- The varying views that have been expressed from the ministerial side in justification of this measure indicate that either the Ministry has an opinion which its supporters do not share, or that they are prepared to rely upon any argument, however inconsistent with the reasons given by Ministers, to justify their support of any Government proposal. The Prime Minister commenced his speech by examining the present economic position of Australia, and he went on to say that the real cause of industrial unrest and the inability of employers and employees to work harmoniously together was the duplication of industrial jurisdiction. If that contention is correct it is not affected by the economic conditions. If everything were well with the finances of the Commonwealth, if our industries were comparatively prosperous, and our competitive position in the world’s market satisfactory, and yet it were shown that there were overlapping jurisdictions in industry, we should inquire whether such duplication is mischievous and whether the proposed alteration will be an improvement. For good or ill the people of Australia have committed themselves to a federal system of government. Long ago, after much examination, they came definitely to the conclusion that there was need for two legislative authorities. The States were allowed to retain sovereign industrial powers, and to the Commonwealth was delegated authority within a limited sphere. No argument has been advanced, except in regard to duplication, to show that it is bad in principle for the States to exercise certain industrial functions, and for the Commonwealth to exercise others. The value of this objection can be estimated by a consideration of the economic circumstances of Australia. Ministerial members have said that under the present dual jurisdiction there is no uniformity, and in illustration of that they mention that the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers Union prefers the jurisdiction of the State Arbitration Court, while other branches of the same organization consider that they are best served by the Commonwealth court. Australia, with an area 25 times as great as that of Great Britain and Ireland, with industries separated by immense distances, a wide distribution of population, and great variations of climate and resources, is not yet an economic unity. Different localities may have no community of interest, but certain portions of the country undoubtedly have ; and in the same way a commercial firm may think it a sound policy to establish a business in Melbourne and Sydney, but not in Perth and Darwin, a body of workers, bound together by a sense of mutual interests and independence, may discover the wisdom of not putting all their eggs in one basket. For instance, I draw attention to the variations of the pastoral industry, due to the different sizes and character of the runs and the fact that some of the areas are divided by enormous distances and are dependent on differing means of communication. To the argument that there can be no industrial order without uniformity, and that it is unsound to have two authorities functioning within the same limit, I say that that is of the essence of the economic structure of Australia. It is a reality to which we must adapt ourselves, and I resent any government being so unsportsmanlike as to quarrel with the state of the wicket. It should play the game.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m. (Friday).


– Not only are the industries of Australia widely scattered, with differing characteristics exhibiting themselves even in the same industry in different parts of Australia, butthere are also certain points of resemblance. For example, a coach builder working, say, in the town of Northam, in Western Australia, or Longreach in Northern Queensland, with, perhaps, one assistant to help him in his work, could not be expected to agree that the determination of his wages, hours and conditions of employment should be the result of a decision arrived at in Melbourne or in Sydney, where the predominant conditions of the industry in those two cities would naturally have an important influence in the making of the decision. Just as it would be absurd to apply to the coachbuilder of Northam, a federal award for all Australia, so it would be equally absurd to apply to the coachbuilders of Melbourne and Sydney - where the conditions are almost identical, where they live in a metropolis exhibiting all the manifestations of modern progress in a variety of forms - an award that applied, to the Northam man. And so it seems to me to be quite reasonable that there should be these two forms of authority available; one to meet the differences that distinguish the coachbuilder at Northam from the coachbuilder at either Sydney or Melbourne, and also an instrumentality to effect some reasonable approximation on the basis of equity as between the coachbuilder at Melbourne and the coachbuilder at Sydney.


– May not that be done by a co-ordination of authorities in the various States?


– It can be done in a number of ways. It is not at all essential to repeal one of the important powers which the Constitution has allocated to this Parliament to enable these industrial arrangements to be effected. The bill, in essence, involves but one proposal, the repeal of the whole arbitral authority which has been exercised by this Parliament for 25 years. That is its purpose. Although the present economic conditions have been used as a sort of fortification for this change, the real argument is that of duality. The Government says that that is inherently wrong, yet, all over the world, these dual systems of regulating industry are operating. In the United States of America, the transportation workers, the locomotive brotherhood of enginemen and men engaged in industries of that description, are under continent-wide agreements; but at the same time, it is quite understandable that all the workers of that country would not be subject to a continent-wide agreement, and in America, without any arbitral law, a sensible recognition of economic realities has given that variation in industrial conditions which, it is said, is bad in the case of Australia, because it has been brought about under dual control. That system, the Government contends, is bad for Australia. The real answer is that it is not the law that has created these differentiations. They have developed in consequence of the progress of our economic life, and whether we have an arbitral law or not, we cannot put the whole of the workers into one pool, any more than one State can pool the whole of its workers.

Why then the insistence on the part of honorable members on this side that this Parliament shall retain authority to deal with certain aspects of industrial conditions in this country? Fifty years ago, I- think it was, Thomas Carlyle said that the problem of labour was the supreme vital problem of the world. It was the problem, so he said, of the whole future for those who, in the future, would seek to govern men. Where stands this federation, this symbol of the unity of purpose which, broadly speaking, characterizes the Australian people, this legislative agency which time and our own good sense has given to us? What part is it going to play in the future in connexion with this supreme, vital problem of the world? The Prime Minister says that he will vacate the field of arbitration, except for a few men who are engaged in the maritime service in Australia, and even there there is -a distinction. He will deal with wages and conditions of employment of the maritime workers, but he will not deal with the conditions of their employers. He will not have authority exercised over the controllers and owners of the requisites of the maritime industry. He is agreeable that John Brown’s coal shall not be produced until John Brown so wishes,and that there shall be no interference on the part of this Government or of this Parliament. But once John Brown opens his mines, produces coal, and places one ton of it upon the wharfs at Newcastle for shipment to Adelaide, then the terrific power of this Parliament and of this Government will be brought to bear to ensure that no one interferes with it. But, so that John Brown may have his own way, there must be no inter ference until he says it has become a matter of great profit to himself to carry on the operation of coal production.

Mr Beasley:

– It is class legislation.


– Decidedly so.

Mr West:

– It is wicked.


– Wicked is a poor word with which to describe the Government’s action. It is stupid for this Parliament to say to the great mass of the working people of Australia, “ There is no hope for you in the legislation that we may pass. You may go to election after election, but this chamber, which, for 25 years has been the repository of possibilities for you - which has passed humanitarian laws exercising authority for the protection of your wages, hours and conditions of employment - will do nothing for you. Now the chapter of hope is ended, and this Parliament in future will be the bulwark for only the hopes and aspirations of the employers.” The workers may not look to the Commonwealth Parliament, with its panoply of government, for anything for their own good. “ It is not because the law is helpless “, Benjamin Disraeli once said, “ Tell me not that you cannot do it ; if you wish it to be done, there are ways and means open to you to do it.” What is the history of the arbitration system of Australia? As time went on, various alterations took place in the orientation of trade unionism. Small craft unions in a State became organized more or less upon an industrial basis. Then they began to stretch out to their brothers in the other States, and gradually the organizations were joined together. The Arbitration Act became one of the means whereby unionism in Australia developed. It enabled men, not only to meet upon the broad field of this continent to discuss their conditions in the light of a sort of continental unity and agreement, but also to discover how, by contact and amalgamation, they could, perhaps, make better use of the instrumentalities of the Commonwealth and the States. It is true, to some extent, that the working men, through their leaders and executives, were able to make a choice of State or Federal courts. Apparently, that has been an awful thing in the eyes of the Government, simply because it has made it. possible for a man to do a little better here than he is doing there Why should not the working man in Australia have the choice of one or other of these tribunals? To tlie mind of the Government for any great group of workers to be able to choose between one award and another or the possibility of going to one specified tribunal as against another is anathema, because it opens up a wider possibility of improving their conditions. I contend that that is not wrong. It seems to me to be quite reasonable that the onus of proving the propriety of the jurisdiction before which men may go should certainly rest with the party which takes the initiative. What is wrong with that? These men hope to make things a little better for themselves. No one else attempts to improve their wages, lessen their hours, or to make better their conditions of employment, so they go to the union meetings and examine the alternatives before them. There is always the alternative of the strike, and of starving upon the boss’s door-step until he surrenders. Honorable members behind the Government glibly quoted statistics which, for the most part, they did not themselves understand, to show that working men had, time after time, resorted to strikes. The facts are that nine-tenths of the workers of Australia, given the choice between a competent tribunal and the. strike weapon, would prefer to allow their claims to be subjected to a reasonable examination, with a possibility of improvement, by the tribunal. And so they have gone to one or other of these tribunals.

The Australian Journalists Association has been mentioned by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West). What is its position? There are a number of great newspapers in Australia. For the most part they are centred in the capital cities. Those great organizations of capital are becoming increasingly powerful every day, and increasingly necessary, from the point of view of the Government, if it is to remain in power. Australian journalists, the employees of these newspapers, recognize that they should have a federal jurisdiction, and they have never had any difficulty in demonstrating that that is the right and proper procedure. Everybody knows the resemblance between the Melbourne Argus, a capitalist organization, and the Sydney Morning Herald. From the stand-point of the forms of employment they offer, and the number of men they require to produce their newspapers, it does not matter whether it is the Argus or the Sydney Morning Herald, because they are identical industrial propositions. They are counterparts of each other, and it would be ridiculous for the journalists, printers, or typographers of the Argus to have an award different from that appertaining to the staff of the Sydney Morning Herald. But there are small weekly and fortnightly papers scattered throughout the countryside. There are job printers who never print newspapers at all, but who employ men in vocations almost identical with those followed by employees - such as compositors and linotypers - of the Age, Argus, and other great newspaper offices. Do honorable members opposite contend that, in order to have a sound rational industrial policy for Australia, all these men must bc put under either one of six separate awards and that the employees of small newspaper offices, say, at Orange or at Broken Hill, must be under the same award as employees of the Sydney Morning Herald’1. The State can no more guarantee that that will not happen than honorable members opposite can guarantee what the Federal Court will do in pursuance of the awards it makes under the acts which this Government passes. Is it to be urged that because a sound case has been established for an interstate jurisdiction, an intra-state jurisdiction should not be contemporaneously operative for employees in similar establishments engaged in the production of what, in many respects, is the same kind of article? Before lunch, I gave as an example the case of the shearers of Queensland. Is it reasonable that those shearers should be pushed into an award with the shearers in the Midlands of Tasmania? The climatic conditions of the two States are radically different; the wool grown is altogether different; the average weight of the wool in the fleece, of course, different, because of the differentiation of pastures. Yet is it not reasonable that shearers in the Riverina should have a similar award to that of men engaged in the northern parts of Victoria, where it is merely a case of doing a hop, step and a jump to cross the river Murray? Is it wrong that they should have a federal award in which their conditions would be bulked together? After all it is not the river Murray that determines the region of economic identity. No geographical boundary defines the economic domain. No one can define the word “ industry “ and, with all respect to the Attorney-General, I say that no one can define exactly the words “ trade and commerce “. For years the Federal Court could not define the word “ industry “ and I have no doubt that in the future, when that crop of litigation, which this exercise of the trade and commerce power is going to bring forth, comes before the court, it will declare again its incapacity to determine tlie precise definition of the term. In ascertaining the meaning of a word one must always have regard to its application and context. “ Trade and commerce “ in reference to coal, will mean coal in transit from Newcastle to Adelaide, but not coal in “transit from “Wallsend to Newcastle. What an absurdity. Take a boot manufacturer. Is he engaged in trade or manufacture? If this bill becomes law a manufacturer in Victoria will have to subject himself to a State award in whatever way that award is elaborated.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– He is registered in the State courts now.


– Not in Victoria, because there is no registration there. The honorable member’s publicity officer has not served him too well. Take the case of a manufacturer of boots. He, it may be contended, is engaged in industry, but if he does nothing else, what happens to the boots? Has he not to sell them? And having sold them, is he not engaged in trade? Is it not conceivable that there will come down amendments of this very procedure extending the application of the term “trade and commerce”? It may be that under this power that is expressed without limiting words such as limit the arbitration powers with a government in the future that believes that John Brown’s employees should not be subject to it to a greater extent than John Brown thinks fit, a spanner will be thrown into the machinery of constitutional practice in Australia and will probably bring forth more difficulty than the present arrangement.

Who are the federalists in this Parliament? Reference was made to the report of the conference of premiers which was held in Canberra, early this year, in consultation with the Prime Minister. Certain honorable members have quoted the opinion of the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) on the point. This is really what he said -

I admit that there are some industrial questions over which the Commonwealth should have control, and they would be questions of common interest and concern to the States. I would not advocate that the Commonwealth Parliament should vacate altogether the field of industrial legislation.

That was in reply to a proposition advanced by the Prime Minister, in these words -

I now invite the Premiers to state definitely whether they are prepared to recommend tei their parliaments the reference of full industrial power to the Commonwealth.

That meant the very opposite from the proposition now before the House. It meant the evacuation by the States of authority in industrial matters. I submit, that that would be no more reasonable than the present proposal. I make that contention having regard to the economic condition of this continent, and to the fact that there are important definite local areas in Australia that are remote from all the others, where the ties of relationships are difficult to decipher in that connexion. Western Australia may be cited as a sort of larger area. There is, as it were, a large sea of sand dividing that State from the main life of the Commonwealth. There is only a 4 ft. 8£in. gauge railway, apart from the sea-borne trade, connecting Western Australia with the rest of the Commonwealth in the matter of material ties. It is very difficult to discover actual contact in the sense of absolute close relationship between the industries of Western Australia and those of Eastern Australia. I recognize that, and refuse to agree to the proposition of the Prime Minister as also did Mr. Collier, that Western Australia should hand over the whole regulation of its industrial conditions to a parliament sitting in Canberra.

It is quite possible that in the fulness of time, when there is a devolution of governing agencies in Australia, when the States have changed their precise character, and there is a development of some form of provincial administrative agencies, that sovereignty, in its entirety, will pass from the States to the Commonwealth. But that time has not yet arrived. The Prime Minister went to the Premiers’ Conference with two propositions, both of which, I believe to be a disservice in their application to the people of the nation. One was that no other Government than his own should have this power. The other was that unless the Government had absolute power he would refuse to exercise any power. Those points of view are not in conformity with the essential principles of federalism which this nation has developed and applied through the two arms of its legislative agencies, and when all is said and done, are supposed to be handed on to this Parliament to carry out and administer.

I know that honorable members who sit behind the- Prime Minister make a great deal, particularly in connexion with Western Australia, of the so-called evil effects of unification, which, allegedly, would ensue if a Labour party got into power. I ask the Western Australian representatives in this chamber, what would have been the position if the Prime Minister had got his way at the Premiers’ Conference, and the States had agreed to give him absolute industrial power? Would that not have been a unification of the control of industry? Industry is the most important thing in the life of this nation. Upon its development, the manner in which it is carried out, the changes that come to it, and upon its healthy future really depends the development of the material prosperity of the country. And we shall have a chance of a prosperous industry if this Government takes from 900,000 workmen the protection of the statutes that have been built up over a generation of experience in this Commonwealth. It is all very well to say, “What if those privileges had not been granted?” That which men have never known, they never miss. But, at present, there are over 400,000 workmen operating under federal awards. Honorable members opposite have said, “ They will be all right; we have given them the right to continue under the present system up to the 30th June, 1930. In the meantime the States will carry out the requisite changes to enable the awards to bev effective in practice “. Who can accept that as being a true picture of the practicalities of State politics in Australia.

Some honorable members oppositehave claimed that matters could be righted by a simple two-line bill. In all the previous important negotiations between the States and the Commonwealth in which radical changes have been effected in the policy of the Commonwealth, definite agreements have been made with the States. That was the case in connexion with the Financial Agreement, the Main Roads Agreement, and the agreement affecting the development of the joint health policy of the States and of the Commonwealth. Conference after conference was held between the Commonwealth and the State Health Departments, and eventually a definite agreement was arrived at dealing with maternal hygiene and infant protection, with a view to improving the health of our children. But here there is no agreement with the States. This bill is to be passed, and the whole of the awards simply cast upon the States to do the best they can. Unlike the State Parliaments, the Commonwealth Parliament is elected on the votes of all the people. One State has a nominee Upper House which is an anachronism in this country, and an age like this. The rest of the State Upper Houses are elected on a restricted property franchise, and are the citadels of reactionary conservatism in this continent. The Commonwealth Government should be active in the field of industrial legislation because of the pernicious influence which the Upper Houses of the States have exercised in the shaping of State instrumentalities in connexion with industrial legislation. Until 1907 Tasmania made no attempt to regulate in any way, industrially, while the State of Victoria was for years saturated with old world iniquities.

The clothing trade instance in Victoria was mentioned this morning. The State Parliament had sovereign powers then, as it is assumed to have now, and a Parliament with a background like that cannot be trusted to do the fair thing by the workers of Victoria. It is true that, with two exceptions, the States have something in the way of an industrial code and the* registration of unions. If all that has been said by ministerialists in support of this measure is correct, the same duplication of awards will continue. Reference has been made to the establishment of H. V. McKay Limited. The great majority of the workers in that establishment worked for years under determinations made in compliance with the Victorian wages board system. There were probably a dozen different awards in operation. I have had experience in Victoria of working under a number of different awards. In the timber industry there were four awards - one for the city, another for certain towns, another for country wood-workers, and a fourth for bushmen. Honorable members contrasting the large list of State awards with the Commonwealth awards said that because the number of awards under the States is greater than the awards of the Commonwealth, the former must be more popular. That is not so ; it merely shows the limitation of State awards when four awards are necessary to do the work of one.

The question of the sovereignty of the States has arisen. Awards made in pursuance of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act are absolute in their sovereignty over those which are subject to them. There can be no question about that, in view of the decision of the High Court regarding the supremacy of the Commonwealth awards. What is wrong with Commonwealth awards? Has a Commonwealth award in any industry contributed to the present economic difficulties of Australia ? Why did the Prime Minister bring forward that argument in the discussion of this subject? If duplication is an evil; if the two systems of arbitration should come to an end; let them come to an end on their own merits as intrinsic factors in the regulation of industrial conditions, and not merely because some person is unable to make a profit. Do honorable members opposite suggest that arbitration awards have caused all the mischief that has occurred in industry; that they underlie the present period of depression? If they suggest that, the only possible deduction is that this bill is one to reduce the centralized authority over federal industries, so that those industries may be split up into State segments. It is hoped that the trade unions now operating upon an interstate scale will be dissolved into six small bodies, each with comparatively few members and limited resources. It is introduced in order to reduce the fighting powers of the unions, so that their members may be at the mercy of the State with the lowest standard of living. The standard of that State will become the standard for Australia.

This bill invites the workmen of Australia to chase one another down the pit of misery. It means that the comparatively high rates of wages which they can now command because of highly-organized industries in two States will no longer be obtainable. The trade unions will he rent asunder and the comradeship of trade unionists broken. The Government knows that every blow struck at the unity of labour is a factor towards its demoralization. This bill, if agreed to, will bring about those results whether or not it is aimed at doing so.

Mr Maxwell:

– It is a case of “divide and conquer.”


– Quite so. Honorable members supporting the Government say that this measure does not involve the overthrow of arbitration. Let us consider the industrial position in the several States. In Western Australia there are comparatively few highly-organized secondary industries. Tasmania has behind it a history of low wages, long hours, and poor conditions, largely due to its competitive disabilities. It is almost impossible for manufacturers in Tasmania to succeed. What will happen if this measure is placed on the statute-book? The Parliament of Tasmania will probably appoint a tribunal. That body will have to take into account the economic conditions of Tasmania. As the prospects for secondary industries in

Tasmania are not so good as they are in Victoria and New South Wales, the result will be that Tasmanian workmen will be placed under a greater disability than if they were permitted to link up with their big brothers on the mainland. There is now a possibility of Tasmanian workmen being given conditions which approximate to the mean Australian standard, whereas this bill would regulate their conditions on a purely Tasmanian standard.

The Federal Arbitration Court has not proclaimed uniform wages throughout Australia, but has agreed to a certain flexibility. By a process of averaging, and having regard to a number of factors, it has arrived at what economists recognize as an Australian standard. That standard has been, as it were, a spiritlevel to guide State instrumentalities in fixing rates and conditions of employment. The remarks of Mr. Justice Heydon, in the boot case quoted by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley), are a complete answer to the contention of the Attorney-General that this bill will not affect the standard of living. It must do so. If it will not, how does it become one of the factors in the rectification of Australia’s economic position? If it does not mean that we shall have more work done for less pay, what have economic problems to do with the bill, as such? That the two things are related is obvious.

The Prime Minister recently addressed the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney. Before he did so I doubted whether all the arguments in support of this bill had been presented to Parliament. I felt that some still remained in the background. The Prime Minister does not wear his heart on his sleeve; he expresses one idea here and another idea somewhere else. Before one can get the philosophy of the right honorable gentleman, one must go on a collecting tour and gather what he has said here, and there and somewhere else. When they had all been pieced together, one might know what the right honorable gentleman is after. What did he say to the Chamber of Manufactures? He told them that the old idea that trusts and combines were evil things would have to be given up; that the amalgamation of capital in such combines would be more evident in the future. He pointed to Germany and the United States as countries in which enormously powerful trusts and combines had largely overcome waste, and increased efficiency. That is true. Those are the economic results of the formation of these huge concerns. But what of the human results? Do honorable members opposite present the United States of America as a country where civilization is a real thing; where efficiency produces social justice; where humanity has a fair chance; where life is regarded as a precious asset? The lowest average percentage of unemployment for the whole of the workers in the United States of America is higher than the highest average rate in Australia. There is always in the United States of America a great army of unemployed - the hoboes of civilization, the Lazaruses who wait upon the Dives - so that when die great peak periods of industry demand more labour they are ready to be dragged in and paid by the hour, or the minute. They may be employed for a day, or half a day, or even a quarter of a day, and they are paid by results. We are told that this great arrangement has enabled industry to prosper in that country !


– Hear, hear!


– If such arrangements voluntarily entered into between workmen and employers are the solution of the problems confronting society, and will contribute to the betterment of men and women who have little to sell but their labour, how does the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) account for the industrial conditions in Asia, China, and India, where there has never been any regulation of industry or any laws to protect the workers, but where employers have had a free hand to invite workers into their offices to “ fix matters up “ ?

The truth is that never in any country at any time have ‘ the controllers of great industries voluntarily asked the workers to a conference to discuss wages and conditions. Without pressure and coercion they have never offered their employees more than was previously paid. Not one improvement has been made in the conditions of the workers of this country because of the employers’ own volition. It is true that here and there individual employees will be picked out for preferment; but that is usually because they are valuable to the business. This bill will reduce the standard of living of which honorable members opposite boast so much, but to which i.hey have contributed nothing.

There were three main points iu the Prime Minister’s speech. With two of those points - the economic position and the duplication of awards - I have already dealt. The third point is contained in the question - “ Why do not the unionists observe the awards ?” The Attorney-General said that the Labour movement is unable to guarantee that an unpopular award will be observed, and that, therefore, the Commonwealth should vacate the field of arbitration legislation. Is that the reason for the introduction of this bill?

Mr Maxwell:

– No.


– That is not the reason why arbitration should be destroyed. If it is, those who say so must prove their indictment. So far they have not done so.

In no country in which modern industrial conditions obtain is the time lost by the workers, as a result of industrial disputes, as little as in Australia. According to reports submitted to the International Labour Office, the two countries which lead the world in respect of the absence of industrial disputes, are the only two in which a legalized system of compulsory arbitration is in operation, New Zealand and Australia. The reason for this is obvious. As the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) pointed out, of all the unions operating under industrial awards in Australia, only one particular group has been associated with frequent industrial disputes, and the Government does not suggest that the Commonwealth should surrender its powers to control that insurgent group of unions. The coal-miners, the seamen, and the waterside-workers, are not mere malcontents who are always ready to fight about nothing. What is the impelling force behind their incessant disputations? All three groups are working under those forms of industrial control which the

Prime Minister recently urged the Chamber of Manufactures to adopt. They are serving huge aggregations of capital, controlling industries in which competition is dead, the individualism of employers at an end, the joint-stock idea allpervading, and the old human relationship between employer and employee, non-existent. The wharf labourers, the seamen, and the coal-miners perceive thai their employers have amassed great fortunes which they never use to improve their industry or raise the standards of their employees, and that is the secret of the great difference between the peaceful groups of unions engaged in the manufacturing industries, and those working for the Newcastle Coal Vend and the shipping combine. For twenty years the coal-miners at Collie have not had a dispute with their employers. The owners of the mines pay a higher hewing rate and sell for a lower price per ton than the Newcastle firms; yet they can make their industry pay, and the Newcastle coal magnates cannot. There must be some explanation of this, and as usual, when things go wrong, honorable members opposite blame the workers and the Arbitration Court.

The economic condition of Australia to-day is not attributable to the Arbitration Act, or the policy of unionism, or the Australian standard of living. The real causes are the twin burdens of cost of capital and cost of government. These, operating and reacting on each other, are sapping the lifeblood out of the productive industries. Many are trying ,to pay interest on watered stock, and we hear of new flotations in which of £500,000 subscribed, only £300,000 is to be used in the business, the balance being absorbed in watered stock, brokerage, and promoters’ shares. In a hundred and one ways the enormous interest bill of the nation is imposing an increasingly heavy burden on industry.

If all that honorable members have said about this bill be true, it can have but one purpose, and that is to divide Australian unionism so that it will be represented by so many scattered and shattered fractions instead of an army, mobilized and on the march. Dismembered and weakened in that way, it will be less capable of presenting its case to a central tribunal. The Federal Arbitration Court has been naked to the gaze of all men. One of the great influences that has operated to overthrow the sweaters and exploiters, has been the exposure of their practices at the open hearings before the court. Is it not significant and sinister that the bill proposes star-chamber hearings; that there shall be no public statement of the facts or the reasons why an application is granted or refused, and that everything associated with the work of the committees shall be screened from public scrutiny? Revelation to the public of the facts of industry is indispensable to a sound and proper public judgment. The bill does not propose to make that information available to the public, for various reasons, which successive speakers on the Government’s side have put forward, each explanation cancelling the other. On the one hand we are told that the hearing should not be in public; because the parties know their own industry and require no evidence, they should be allowed to arrive at an amicable settlement. On the other hand, other champions of the bill say that such an arrangement is dangerous to the public, and that there must be a legal superstructure superimposed on these committees, lest the employers and employees, meeting in secret conclave, should arrive at decisions which make them joint partners in exploiting the public. Both arguments cannot be right.

If it is necessary for the Chief Judge of the Maritime Court to oversee the findings of the committees, why can he not continue to do so as Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court? What is the reason for the change of titles? The Chief Judge may nominate other judges, and the representatives of the workers are to be appointed by him. The unions are not to be allowed to select their own representatives’, but the judge may take cognizance of the representations made to him by the workers. ‘ He may1 - hut he may not. Like some honorable members: opposite^ he may refuse to associate with persons whom he regards as agitators, and as a result, the right of the* workers to present’ their case- in- their own way through men selected1 by them, will, be defeated.

Thus a serious blow is being struck at public confidence in the examination of our industrial .problems. There can be no private or wholly self-regarding act in a modern industrial community. No one man or group of men, whether of employers or employees, manufacturers or traders, is engaged in an industrial activity that concerns only himself or themselves. Individualism in industry is dead. These matters are of live public concern, and serious importance to the whole of the community.

This bill does more than repeal one of the finest chapters in the industrial history of Australia - it opens up a black and dismal prospect. It makes the workers weak in the presence of the enemy, and the enemy strong to impose his own will. This Parliament was regarded by every Australian statesman during the years in which the federal enabling bills were being discussed, as the hope of Australian nationhood, and as an instrument to bring the great masses of this country, separated by enormous distance, into elemental bonds of unity and kinship. The industrial workers of the nation, have responded to the hope of the founders of federation. They have united in Australian-wide federations, and they take an active part in the prosecution of the business of the Commonwealth in this national legislature. But for the future, this Parliament will have nothing to offer them. There will be a revival of the old State ascendancies, and by persisting with this legislation, the Government is not only striking a vital blow at the workers, but is stabbing at the very soul of the Australian nation.


– The absence of industrial peace has done more than anything else to retard the progress of industry in Aus. tralia ; and until we are’ able to” surmount our industrial difficulties and employers and employees can settle their disputes amicably between themselves,, we cannot hope tO’ be counted’ amongst the” prosperous .nations of the world. The problems of industry to-day are largely economical ; they are also problems’ of personal relationship between the’ parties, and to some extent legal. I am afraid that’ we have been inclined to attach too much importance to the latter aspect. Overlapping industrial legislation has produced nothing but conflict. I do not believe that industrial regulation should be abolished for it is instrumental in maintaining proper wage standards and working conditions, but the present system of dual control is the cause of endless irritation to both parties and much economic waste. Therefore, either the Commonwealth or the States, must withdraw from the field of industrial arbitration. On four occasions the people have seen fit to disapprove of an extension of Commonwealth powers, and this Parliament has no option but to withdraw and leave the field entirely to the States. The last referendum was taken as late as i926, when the people in no uncertain terms,, gave their verdict against the appeal made by this Government. In those circumstances I heartily endorse the refusal of the Government to commit the country to an expenditure of £100,000, and the interested parties to a similar expense, in holding another referendum. We have had a definite answer from the people, and the State Premiers have declined to withdraw from the field of arbitration, or even to submit the matter to their Parliaments. We cannot possibly carry on under present conditions, and the only course open to the Government is that represented by this bill.

I propose to deal with the subject from two aspects. First of all, from the point of view of the untold harm dual control system is doing to industry in Australia to-day, and, secondly, of the huge expense incurred, not only by the Commonwealth, but also by both sides in industry. When there is a dispute in industry a conference is held; but it invariably breaks down and there is a further appeal to the Arbitration Court. The union feels that, by taking the case to the court, not only will it not have to give something away, but there will be a chance of gaining something. So the case is taken to the court. Suppose that it is hoard in Sydney, and then; because of interstate interests, adjourned in. turn to Melbourne, Adelaide, and, perhaps, to every other capital city of Australia. In that way, the representatives of both sides would journey to the various capitals. An adjournment may then be secured from one State capital to another which it not the capital of the State in which most of the parties to the dispute reside. What is . the position, then, of those who conduct the industries of this country while this skirmishing is going on from one city to another? How can they hope to arrive at costs of production, and to make estimates for contracts in competition with outside manufacturers ? They are more or less in a continual state of uncertainty. They know perfectly well that, when an award is made, it may not be accepted and that a movement for a further dispute may be started at any time, resulting in a further appeal to the court and many more months of litigation. So long as that opportunity exists, and so long as we have a system of arbitration which excludes conciliatory methods available to the States, but prohibited to the Commonwealth, there is bound to be endless industrial trouble. One of the greatest difficulties that the federal court is faced with is that it is unable to enforce its decisions, and, as a result, the unions practically control the alteration of awards. An award is given, after litigation has been going on for, perhaps, two or three years, the union objects to it, and uses its most powerful weapon, the strike, on the pretext of claiming higher wages. Bargaining then commences between the union officials and the court. The union officials say that they are agreeable to recommend to their men that they return to work on condition that the case is re-opened. That takes place, and invariably the award is altered in favour of the unions. That has been going on for many years, and our Arbitration Court is now the laughing stock of the people of Australia, and Australia the laughing-stock of the people of the world.

Honorable members opposite and their supporters have not failed on every- occasion to incite the men to disobey the law and to ridicule to the utmost the judges of the Arbitration Court when awards are not to their liking; but they praise the same judges to the skies when the awards are in their favour. Look at the disgraceful performance of the timber workers in Sydney only a few months ago, when they stooped so low as to actually burn the effigy of an Arbitration Court judge who gave a decision unfavourable to them. We can understand them burning ballot-papers, their union leaders would see to that, knowing that it would be as much as their jobs were worth to allow the men to take a ballot. The timber workers were not alone in their action. They were supported by their parliamentary representatives. I do not believe that every honorable member opposite, in his own heart, approved of what took place in Sydney, but he dared not voice his disapproval. I pay a tribute to the work of the New South Wales police in upholding the law, but at the same time we could not expect them to enforce the federal law as effectively as they would the law of their own State. To continue the system of federal arbitration we should need an efficient police force, and all honorable members will agree that that is quite out of the question at present. How many times lately have we read of the attempts of Messrs. Garden, Ryan and company to intimidate the New South Wales police? Have we not heard of the famous “ black-book “ which is kept in a “ safe place “ at the Trades Hall and in which is entered the names and numbers of policemen, so that action can be taken against them in the event of a Labour Government gaining office in New South Wales? If ever the people of that State are foolish enough to hand the reins of government to Mr. Lang and his followers, God help them.

Because of the resrictions imposed upon the Australian shipping ‘industry under the Arbitration Act and the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, we have had strike after strike on the waterfront, and at every port in the Commonwealth there are numerous idle vessels; the reason given being that the court is quite unable to accede to the extravagant demands of the union. An interruption to our interstate and oversea shipping, and the cutting off of our coal supplies, has paralysed industry. Thousands of men have been out of work, and women and children are on the verge of starvation. What has the dual control system done towards preventing strikes? It has done nothing. In fact, it has been an obstacle in the way of the settlement of strikes.

Let us consider for a moment the extraordinarily powerful position of an Arbitration Court Judge, and how easy it is for him to make a mistake which might have a most disastrous effect on the community as a whole. It must follow that an Arbitration Court Judge has only a superficial knowledge of the trades with which he is dealing. His knowledge, perhaps, of that trade can be compared with the layman’s knowledge of law. The community, through its parliamentary representatives, vests this * power in a judge to enable him to give decisions that might be totally out of keeping with the ability of the community to pay, and totally regardless of the seven Governments and seven Treasurers who are endeavouring to live within their means. Consequently, they are committed to endless expense over which they have no control, and . they can square their ledgers only by imposing extra taxation and by the wholesale dismissal of employees. [Quorum formed.] How then can we possibly reduce our cost of production, and so compete with other manufacturers of the world? We are, indeed, proud of our high standard of living, and I am sure that we are all unanimous in our desire that our workers should continue to receive good wages. But at the same time they must be prepared to earn those wages. We are repeatedly told by honorable members opposite that when we speak of reducing costs of production, we mean a reduction in the wages of the workers. Here is an opportunity to reduce the cost of- production in industry by some millions of pounds, yet the proposal is receiving the most bitter opposition from the Labour members. Most union officials are against the measure, but, at the same time, are completely devoid of any remedy for our industrial evils. I realize that we shall never be absolutely free of industrial trouble, but at all events we can reduce it to a minimum. To-day the opposing sides to industry are spending far too much time in fighting one another instead of devoting their efforts to the production pf goods, and so enhancing the national wealth of Australia. The lengthy procedure of securing awards and its cost are undoubtedly not taken into consideration by the advocates before the court, because they are entirely dependent upon industrial disputes for their very existence. As one honorable member truly said, they are mere parasites on industry. Our workers, unfortunately, have no more control over their unions than honorable members opposite have over the policy that they are compelled to adopt. Since I have been in this House I have never witnessed an honorable member opposite speaking or voting other than as dictated by his party bosses. Honorable members opposite depend for their very existence on dancing to the tune of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions or of the Pan-Pacific Secretariat, and so, also, the unfortunate worker has to depend for his job on taking the advice of his union officials. The country would be saved enormous expense if these officials devoted their time to promoting peace in industry instead of disputes. Similarly, on the other side of industry, it is necessary to incur tremendous expense. In some cases a single industry has as many as 30 awards to obey, which means that the conductor of a big business is compelled to employ the services of a special officer,

Or even to establish a secretarial department especially to administer awards. The result is that there is so much regulation of each employee’s work that the employers will not give a man a job unless it is absolutely necessary.

We must not overlook the cost to the Government of providing inspectors and departmental officials to see that awards are properly carried out. It is clearly seen that this dual control of arbitration complicates matters industrially to such an extent that an award-making industry is actually created, at the expense of the employer, the employee and the country. The industrial manager suffers loss, and union funds are continually drained, and become a tax upon the workers’ wages. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) indicated what a wonderful thing it would be for Australia if we could divert into industry 75 per cent, of the money, brains and energy now taken up in industrial litigation. 1 do not suppose that the combined Federal and State tax has anything like the depressing effect on industry that this dual system of control has. We are struggling hard enough with our industries, in competition with overseas manufacturers in countries which have the very lowest living conditions, which have enormous capital, and unlimited mechanical power at their command. Yet we have to carry this huge unnecessary burden, which cripples our industries and precludes our national expansion. There is a good deal to be said on the score of expense, but it would be impossible to estimate the approximate cost to Australia. It must be enormous.

In addition to the expenses of the parties concerned, we have to take into consideration the wages costs of the errors made by the court. In view of the thousands of awards that £ave to be considered, no one would suggest that the legal mind does not make errors, or is infallible. The rigidity of the system of wage regulation by the court is another bad feature about federal arbitration. Many of its findings are based on false premises. The first one is that when a man turns 21 he immediately acquires a wife and three children - at least that is the contention of the Federal Arbitration Court. According to the State Court of New South Wales he has a wife and two children. At present he has only a wife, and if he is not in receipt of more than £5 a week he has to prove the possession of children. The Federal Statistician, on the other hand., says that the average family unit is a man. his wife, and one and a third children or, to be more logical, every three families has four children. It does not, however, credit a man of 21 with a wife and a ready-made family. What is more extraordinary about the two courts is that while they are not in agreement as to the average size of a family, they are often in agreement as to the cost of supporting a family. Again, there are always three grades of workers in any industry, good, medium, and indifferent. The majority of calculations are based on the medium worker, which indicates that the indifferent worker is overpaid and the good, worker underpaid. If a business has the misfortune to have more indifferent than good workers, its cost of production must necessarily be high. Further, the good workers soon slow down in practice, having no inducement to do more work than the indifferent worker. Where the court fails is that while it can fix wages, it cannot determine the amount of work to be done for that wage, which makes it quite impossible to determine accurately the cost of production.

It is interesting to note the methods employed by the court in arriving at awards. Its conclusions are based on three factors, food, groceries and house rent. Other necessary items, such as clothing, are left out of the calculation, as they are considered too uncertain. The three items which I have specified are supposed to rise and fall contemporaneously, but in actual practice that is not so. Recently, owing to the floods in Tasmania, the price of potatoes increased considerably, and in the last variation in the cost of living of 4s., as much as 3s. 4d. was attributed to the rise in the price of potatoes. Potatoes necessarily became a luxury and . were discontinued, so that for two months that expensive item was still continued in the cost of living, without any corresponding increase in the amount of money to pay for it. Consequently, unemployment must necessarily follow. Compulsory industrial arbitration is based upon the theory that if two parties cannot agree they should be made to agree by the decision of a third party, which is the public, represented by a governmental authority. But when either of the two disputing parties is not agreeable to this method, and the third party cannot enforce its decisions on the others, what purpose can be served by continuing it? That argument may be cited against the general principle of compulsory arbitration, both Federal and State; but it is particularly applicable to the federal system, because the effect of its constitutional limitations has been such as to confine its operations to a kind of cold legal formula that has had the effect of congealing the very life-blood of industry instead of causing it to circulate freely. The total lost in wages by strikes during the period 1917 to 1926 inclusive was £14,487,891 - an average of £1,448,789 per year. During 1927, £1,676,696 was lost in this way. As compulsory arbitration with its expense and trouble cannot after 25 years’ trial, show a better result than this, it would be better for the parties to industry to settle their own differences rather than keep up an expensive complicated system which has failed to do its job. Of what effect is compulsory arbitration in the settlement of disputes that occur ? During 1927, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, there were 435 industrial disputes recorded. Arbitration authorities, either Commonwealth or State, took part in the settlement of only 32 of the disputes ; but by direct negotiation between employers and employees or by the intervention of parties not connected with compulsory arbitration 229 were settled; while the remaining 184 were composed by other methods of conference and conciliation not connected with the governmental arbitration machinery. The arbitration system seems to be fruitful in causing strikes, but practically impotent in settling them.

Labour members may say that this or that authority proves that disputes are more prevalent elsewhere than in Australia. But . they overlook the fact that industrial conditions elsewhere are not as good, generally speaking, as they are in Australia. Which ever way one looks at it, £1,676,696 is a substantial amount for Australian workers to lose. Let honorable members compare it with what they will; let them dig out what statistics they like from this or that overseas publication; the fact still remains that there has been a direct loss of £1,676,696 to the workers.

The Commonwealth Constitution, as it was framed in 1899, was a really brilliant achievement. Lord Bryce praised it warmly. “Compared with the Australian Constitution, the American is oldfashioned and the Swiss archaic ‘.’, he said. Honorable members will, I think, agree that Lord Bryce needs no recommendation as a constitutional authority. The framers of the Constitution knew what they were about when they inserted in the draft the power which the Commonwealth was to have in regard to industry. It was only to have power to “ Conciliate and arbitrate for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State “. That is, an emergency power only. Nothing was said of a system of judicial regulation of wages and conditions of labour by the Commonwealth, because all those matters were reserved to the States. The framers of the Constitution knew that the States and the people would not accept any proposition that the Commonwealth should become the arbiter in industrial regulation. In fact, the plain reasoning was that industrial regulation within and by the individual States was presupposed and inevitable. What they had in mind in regard to the emergency power that was to be exercised by the Commonwealth was such widespread disputes as the maritime strike of 1890, and the strike of British and Australian seamen in the big upheaval of 1925. The idea that a costly Federal Court would grow up to deal with the general subject of wage regulation in the States, and to be called into action by fictitious disputes caused by unions amalgamating in different States to approach the Federal Court would, no doubt, have been laughed at in the Federal Convention.

Since the federal arbitration system was founded in 1904 successive Governments have tried to make the best of the conditions then imposed, but all of them have had to confess impotence. There was no sound basis for a federal arbitration system. It was never intended by the Constitution, and has really grown up in spite of it. Messrs. McGowen and Holman, leaders of the first Labour Government in New South Wales, knew this, and opposed the adoption of the 1911 referendum proposals of the Fisher Government. Mr. Lang, when Labour Premier of New South Wales, in 1926, had similar views in opposing the 1926 referendum. Although his views were dictated to a great extent by political hostility to the Commonwealth Government, his’ remarks are worth quoting. In discussing the Bruce-Page Government’s proposals for increased Commonwealth industrial powers, he said they would be “fraught with tremendous danger”, and added that they w’ould be a

Mischievous interference with powers exercised effectively and wisely by the States. The States would never have federated, he said, had the intention been to set up a kind of legislative and administrative ogre.

Mr. Willis, M.L.C., Mr. Lang’s right hand man, also expressed himself strongly. Mr. George Black, M.L.C., in his book, Compulsory Arbitration a Failure - and Why! quotes Mr. Willis’s views as follows -

When a decision is arrived at, even by means of voluntary arbitration, it should bc given legal effect to, and become binding on the parties. I never did agree with compulsory arbitration.

He was still more definite at the Metropolitan Conference of the New South Wales Australian Labour Party at Sydney, on February 11, last. Mi’. Willis then said -

You can’t on the one hand say: “We will have arbitration,” and on the other hand ignore it. Next week it will be some other section .than the timber workers. You cannot expect to get justice from the court.. The time is coming when the movement will reconsider its position. You- must say whether* it is to bc arbitration or not, and take a definite stand.

Uniformity is the great plea used by those who wish to retain the overlapping federal system. If the Federal Court had succeeded in bringing about uniformity of industrial conditions even to a limited . degree it would at least have some justification for existence. But it has not. An illustration of its failure in this respect is given by the Australian Leather Trades Review, in its issue of June 14, 1929-

It is a matter for serious doubt. . . whether uniformity in industrial awards is of real importance, even to industries which are interstate in character, while there remain differences in other costs of production in the different States. Tanners and hoot manufacturers know to their sorrow or delight (depending upon the State in which they are located) the effects of differing conditions in adjoining States. The Family Endowment tax in New South Wales, the unemployment tax in Queensland, the Forty-four Hour Week Acts and absolute preference to unionists in these two States, the heavy freights in Queensland, the hampering of motor transport in Victoria, the oversea freight advantage of Western Australia, the isolation of Tasmania, the dumping into South Australia made possible by various local laws, the gaps of difference between fuel, power and lighting costs, insurance, income tax, rates, health and factory regulations, these are but some examples of the “ benefits “ that have accrued to industry not entirely localized in character through the retention of so much power by the States. Until there is uniformity (possible only through Commonwealth control) in all major factors influencing production costs, industrial award differences are perhaps not as important as imagined.

In the same journal the following statement appears -

Wo have a conference with the union every twelve months and fix things up. We don’t go to the court at all. We went once, years ago. Our wages are fixed automatically, by the rise and fall in the Federal Statistician’s cost of living figures. The round table conference is the best way to conduct conciliation. It has proved very successful in the boot trade. If the union is satisfied, the employers arc satisfied. We do not always get all we want, for in conciliation there must be give and take.

That statement, which I understand was made by Mr. McMurtrie, of McMurtrie & Company Limited, is elaborated in a further paragraph in the same journal:

Boot and shoe manufacturers point out that they have npt been much of a worry to the Federal Arbitration Court, and little or no difference would be occasioned to the industry if the court were put out of existence. When wages matters need to be dealt with, it has always been found possible to arrange alterations by means of conferences between employers’ and employees’ representatives direct. The findings of that conference are accepted without demur, and result in what might be described as a federal award without reference to the court at all. The agreement in force continues until it comes to be denounced by either one side or the other after duo notice having been given. Every halfyear a conference takes place between the parties as to the variations necessitated by the variation in the cost of living figures, based on the Commonwealth Statistician’s report, and history has shown how successfully this matter has been adjusted in the past. It is generally claimed that the relations between employer and employee in the boot and shoe manufacturing industry are such that whether the Federal Arbitration Court was in existence or not, an amicable arrangement in connexion with wages and hours questions could always be arrived at without much difficulty. As one manufacturer put it, the employers are out to reduce cOS 4 naturally, but as a whole they do not believe that cutting wages should be the first step in that direction.

The lack of power to make a common, rule makes the Federal Court a laughing stock. It simply means that federal awards apply only to the parties to disputes, and, instead of creating uniformity the Federal Court merely makes one more award to he obeyed or disobeyed. Giving parties an award simply because they have caused an interstate dispute is like giving a stick of candy to two boys for fighting - every time they want another lolly they start another fight.

An instance of the futility of the Federal Court was the strike of the New

South Wales engineers in Sydney in 1926. The Lang Government legislated for a 44-hour week in all New South Wales industries. For those engineers working under the federal court the award was 48 hours. Strictly speaking, they should have continued working under the 48-hour week, because, in theory, the federal award over-rode the conflicting State legislation. But they struck work, and lost thousands of pounds in wages during a period of some weeks. Finally, they went back to work, having compromised on a week of 44 hours with a reduction of wages. Later, a decision of the federal court made the working week 44 hours for these men. They were then over their difficulties; but they might just as well have been under the State jurisdiction in the first place, for they would have had their 44- hour week without striking for it, and losing their wages for about two months.

In another instance of this confusion the New South Wales railway staffs were concerned. Some of the employees came under federal awards which gave them a 48-hour week. Naturally, they did not want to work 48 hours when many of their colleagues were working only 44 hours each week. The Labour Government therefore agreed that they should collect the higher wage for the federal award, and that they should enjoy the 44- hour week. That decision costs the Government of New South Wales £100,000 a year in reimbursing the Commissioners. The men may be worth that extra £100,000; but the point is that, had there been no federal court, there would have been none of this trouble.

The Sunshine harvester works in Victoria, which afford a classic instance of clashing awards, have often been quoted. The rates paid for overtime in those works are illuminating -

Engineers. - Time and a half for the first four hours and double time thereafter.

Timber Workers. - Time and a half for the first two hours, and double time thereafter.

Carters and Drivers. - Time and a half for all overtime.

Agricultural Implement Workers. - Time and a’ half for all overtime.

Moulders. - Time and a half for the first four hours and double time thereafter.

Electrical Workers. - Time and a half until midnight, and double time thereafter.

Ironworkers’ Assistants. - Time and a half for all overtime.

Blacksmiths. - Time and a half for the first four hours and double time thereafter.

Carpenters and Joiners. - Time and a half for the first four hours and double time thereafter.

Builders’ Labourers. - Time and a half for the first two hours and double time thereafter.

Leather-workers and Sail-makers. - Time and a quarter for the first three hours and double time thereafter.

The case of MacRobertson’s factory, where 38 awards apply, is another instance which already has been cited. Other works afford similar instances of chaotic regulation.

What is Labour’s alternative to the abolition of federal arbitration generally? The Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Scullin) suggested in his announcements of his party’s policy that a system on the lines of the Industrial Peace Act should be inaugurated. That indicates a remarkable lack of knowledge of industrial history. An Industrial Peace Act tribunal has operated on the northern coal-fields of New South Wales for many years. In the present acute crisis on the coal-fields, which has thrown 12,000 men out of employment, both masters and men have ignored the tribunal. The loss of wages through disputes iti the coal-mining industry in 1927 was £983,839, or 59 per cent, of the total wages lost through similar causes throughout Australia. The late Mr. Justice Higgins, sincere and earnest exponent of arbitration, said in 1920 -

It is bad enough for the State and Federal Parliaments to be simultaneously dealing with the same subjects of labour condition; but there is confusion worse confounded when a government creates novel special tribunals.

Arbitration cannot compel people to work, or to give work. The awards of the court provide conditions which must be observed if work is to be offered, but the entering into contracts is a purely voluntary affair.

Many of those who have been most condemnatory of the federal system of arbitration in the past have somersaulted recently. They fear to take the decisive step, and, instead of being the chief prosecutors of arbitration, they have become its foremost defenders. Pear, not faith, is their motive in adhering to the federal system.

The Melbourne Age is violently antagonistic to this bill; but it is interesting to compare its present attitude with the views it expressed in 1926. To quote them is to give the best possible arguments in favour of the bill. On the 23rd August, 1926, when the Bruce-Page Government proposed a referendum to give the Commonwealth unrestricted industrial powers, the Age wrote: -

It has evidently not occurred to the Federal Government that it would be equally possible to use the referendum and restore to the States the powers of industrial legislation they thought they had, and that they certainly never intended the Commonwealth to filch when federation was proposed and approved. . . . Admittedly, there is much overlapping of awards, but it is the functioning of the Federal Court which is causing most of the overlapping of which the Government is complaining. The remedy for that evil seems to be in the extinction of the court, not in the extension of its powers. . . . Throughout the past 22 years the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has proved itself costly, dilatory and unsatisfactory. It has not eliminated friction; it has not averted strikes. It has played the part of an intrusive fifth wheel;’ it has been a fertile source of revenue to the lawyers.

Again, in its issue of 28th October, 1926, the Age said -

There is in our midst the will to industrial peace. The problem is how to make that will prevail. The first essential step is to scrap the existing industrial peace machinery. (Federal Arbitration Court) . . . Throughout Australia faith in the court is dying, or is dead; the great mass of employers and employees would gladly retrace their steps out of the blind alley. Arbitration by compulsion has failed. . . . After 22 years the bitterness between parties has been accentuated. That is ever the effect of litigation; a law court has not an atmosphere favorable to a satisfactory settlement of an industrial dispute. The parties directly affected are muzzled; ‘a judge with only a legal appreciation and hurriedly acquired knowledge of the position decides. . . . it is significant that both employees’ unions and employers’ federations are recognizing the futility of legal machinery to settle their differences satisfactorily. … In all progressive countries employers and employees have watched it; nowhere have they adopted it. Trade union leaders in America and in England have definitely rejected it. These facts need not be given undue weight; but they should have a significance for Australians, who are obviously veering round to the opinion that compulsory arbitration should be discarded. Jungle law is not at all the alternative. These years of arbitration have taught both sides the lesson their best hope of settling disputes is by friendly conference; not by legal compulsion. Employers are loudly protesting their dissatisfaction ; the employees are protesting more crudely, but more effectively, by flouting many of its awards. . . . Certainly Australian industry will constantly be in jeopardy as long as employees and employers try to adjust their differences not as fellow workers, but as rival litigants.

Then, again, on the 20th September, 1926, the Melbourne Age said - ‘

They (the Australian people) have no intention of enhancing its (Federal Arbitration Court’s) power or of extending its scope. The signs plainly are that they would be swift to endorse any proposal that the institution should be scrapped.

My concluding quotation will be exPresident Coolidge’s final message to the Congress of the United States of America -

In its economic life our country has rejected the long accepted law of a limitation of the wage fund, which led to pessimism and despair because it was the doctrine of perpetual poverty, and has substituted for it the American conception that the only limit to profits and wages is production, which is the doctrine of optimism and hope, because it leads to prosperity. Here and there the councils of labour are still darkened by the theory that only by limiting individual production can there be any assurance of permanent employment for increasing numbers, but in general, management and wage-earner alike have entered a new era in industrial thought which has unleashed the productive capacity of the individual worker with an increasing scale of wages and profits, the end of which is not yet. The application of this theory accounts for our widening distribution of wealth. No discovery ever did more to increase the happiness and prosperity of the people. Since 1922, increasing production has increased wages in general 12.9 per cent., while in certain selected trades they have run as high as 34.9 per cent, and 38 per cent. Even in the boot and shoe shops the increase is over 5 per cent., and in woollen mills 8.4 per cent., although these industries have not prospered like others. As the rise in living costs in this period is negligible, these figures represent real wage increases.

T look upon this bill as the first step towards a .new era in Australian industrial relationships. The new system should result in the adoption of conciliation and round-table conferences in place of the present conflict.’ Under State machinery, handled by committees and conferences which are familiar with local conditions, much greater satisfaction should be afforded to workers and employers than under the centralized federal system. In fact, the workers themselves furnish the best proof of that, because, of the 911,000 unionists in Australia, according to the Commonwealth Year-

Book, 1928, only 407,000 work under awards of the federal court. Therefore, the other 504,000, who constitute the majority, prefer the State arbitration authorities. The Government is taking the only stand consistent with a desire to bring about more amicable relations in industry. Therefore, I give the bill my hearty support.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

.- This seems to be a bill of destruction, the far-reaching effects of which cannot beforetold. But as a member of this chamber when every measure dealing with arbitration has been under consideration by this House, I have always considered that this legislation has been characterized by too much force and too little conciliation. Speaking on the present bill, the title of which is a misnomer, because it ought to be called “ a bill for the destruction of conciliation and arbitration,” the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), said -

This is a measure to give effect to the policy of the Government which already has been announced, to withdraw from the field of industrial regulation save in respect of the maritime and waterside industries, which will continue to be controlled by the Commonwealth, not under its arbitration powers, but under the trade and commerce powers of the Constitution. The bill provides for the repeal of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the Industrial Peace Act. . . . The bill is a real contribution towards the solution of the economic problems confronting us. The passing of this legislation will free industry from many of the embarrassments from which it has suffered in the past, and enable real progress to be made in the development of our primary and secondary industries. The Government’s proposals should be considered, as they affect the welfare of the people as a whole, and the progress and prosperity of this portion of the Empire. Therefore, I appeal to honorable members to approach the consideration of the bill in no party spirit, but with a sincere desire to do the best for the nation.

I hope, this afternoon, to throw some new light upon the subject of conciliation. The Prime Minister has set out to abolish the federal arbitration system, although only fifteen amending arbitration bills came before this Parliament between 1904 and 1928. The amending acts relating to the common law in England would number, not hundreds, but thousands. In New Zealand no less than 28 amending acts appertaining to the subject of arbitration have been passed. This fact is recorded in the select bibliography on industrial conciliation and arbitration published by our worthy Parliamentary Librarian, Mr Kenneth Binns, assisted by Messrs. H. L. White and L. C. Key. In New South Wales, no less than nineteen measures have been placed on the statute-book in connexion with arbitration, and another measure which could be regarded as an alteration of that legislation, brings the total number of amendments in that State to 20. I agree with the honorable member who represented Fremantle before the present member for that electorate was returned. He retired from politics a good deal disappointed with our arbitration legislation, because he thought that it savoured too much of law and too little of conciliation.

Let me draw an analogy from the life of the great Bruce of Scotland. It will lie recalled that, having been defeated, and being a fugitive, he saw a spider one windy day. It spun a web and the wind broke it; but the spider replaced it with another web, and tried to attach it to the branch of a tree, and, after repeated failures, it at last succeeded. That stimulated the great Bruce to go forward to success. But his modern namesake, the Prime Minister, has decided to give up the task of trying to perfect our arbitration system, because, on referring the matter to the people by means of a referendum, he has obtained an adverse decision. I do not by any means accuse him of lack of courage; in fact I have sometimes admired him. When he has considered it necessary to “ gag “ honorable members, he has never called upon one of his followers to do the “ dirty work”; he has always done it himself. But I do charge him with a lack of courage in his attitude to the subject of compulsory arbitration. I suggest to honorable members as a whole, that, if the people were asked by referendum to endorse a unanimous wish of this Parliament to provide for the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration, their answer would be favorable.

What is the history of the referendum ? For an answer we need only go to Switzerland, where Germans, Italians and French live in amity. They continued to dwell together in peace even during the late horrible war, owing to the fact that their laws are just. Party government has characterized the proceedings of this Parliament too much in the past. Our deliberations should have been conducted solely for the benefit of the people as a whole. God never created anything to be His equal, or allowed any created thing to make itself His superior. Therefore, I ask honorable members, and through them the citizens of Australia, why a created thing called Parliament which is elected once every three years, is permitted by its creators to make itself more powerful than the people.

I had hoped that the Prime Minister would be able to deal successfully with the problem of unemployment which, next to the horror of war, is the worst curse of civilization. Neither in the nest of the ant, nor in the hive of the bee, do the workers or the young suffer want and privation ; but, although warehouses may be crowded to the roof, granaries full, and the growth of foodstuffs abundant, through the course of unemployment and lack of proper organization, men, women, and little children are in need at the present moment in this community. Surely the brain of man, that designed the magnificent steamship that plies the Atlantic night and day at a phenomenal speed and provides its passengers with every comfort, or that planned the mighty bridge that is being constructed across the Sydney Harbour, could devise means of wiping out the curse of unemployment. I have no enmity towards any man. I am not like the old Fijian chief, who Was asked on his deathbed by the minister, who was anxious to save his soul, to forgive his enemies. . The chief declared that he had none, and when the minister asked, “ What did you do with them “, he replied, “I ate them.” Although I regard no one as an enemy, any person who will willingly do an injury to a man, woman, or child, is my political enemy. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) who is honoured by being named after the glorious American orator Garfield, has questioned the courage of honorable members on this side. I question his courage and that of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. If the Government will not incur the cost of taking another referendum on the subject of industrial powers, I issue this challenge to the Prime Minister, that I will resign my seat if he will contest it against me on this bill of destruction. I believe the election would, be the liveliest held in Melbourne since I .was opposed by Sir Malcolm McEacharn. Had the Government tried honestly and earnestly to deal with unemployment every honorable member on this side of the House would have supported it heart and soul.

The deplorable conditions existing in Melbourne and suburbs are revealed by an Argus report of a conference of branch representatives of ladies’ benevolent societies in the Melbourne Town Hall. I quote this passage -

A woman, who applied to the acting president of the Melbourne branch, Mrs. W. A. Hall, had spent her last 3d. on a stick of chewing gum from which she had staved - off the pangs of hunger for two days. Women with infants in arms coming to her for assistance had fainted on the doorstep from starvation and exhaustion. “ Last week I called at the house and found a woman in bed at the point of death from starvation,” said the secretary of the Hawthorn branch, Mrs. F. L. Baker. “ Only the most generous financial assistance from every available source can prevent the deaths from starvation of many children in the winter we are now facing.”

Mrs. E. Dare, of Yarraville, said ;

No Christian seeing things as they are could resist the appeal for assistance. Women come to us to help them to save their sick babies.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Luxton, who presided at the meeting, said -

Unemployment is the most serious problem we have to face at present. The position of Lord Mayor would be very pleasant if it were solved satisfactorily. I cannot believe that the Ladies Benevolent Societies will close. The Ministry and the municipalities will have to come to their rescue.

Much as I condemn the present Government in Victoria for many things, I honour it for not having allowed the Ladies Benevolent Societies to die. I accuse this Government and every supporter of the proposal to abolish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, of helping to increase unemployment and its attendant miseries. Ministerial members have said that the Arbitration Court has been a failure. It has, in some matters, but only because there has been too much law, compulsion, and expense, and too little conciliation and justice. I recollect that when the tramway employees federated they had to spend more than ?15,000 to get an award from the Arbitration Court. If it were possible for me to hate anybody I would hate the profession of lawyers, although there have been glorious exceptions - Sir George Grey, Higinbotham, Kingston. Higgins, Deakin, and Sir Robert Stout. I believe that history will add the name of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) whose legal knowledge and abilities have been devoted to minimizing industrial disputes. The most valuable factor in the community is a happy home in which the mother knows that her husband has a good billet and that on each Saturday he will bring home sufficient wages to meet the domestic requirements for the week ahead. “When u strike occurs it is the women who suffer most. Well do I remember the hardships that attended the great maritime strike. The man may leave his home for a few hours, smoke a pipe, and temporarily forget his worries, but they are with the mother always. If the children are without clothes or require their boots mended, if the landlord knocks at the door, if the tradesman’s bill is overdue, she has to face those troubles. The Suffering of the women and children is one of the greatest curses of strikes and unemployment. We are doing our best to improve the conditions of the workers, but we are limited by the caprice of lawyers. The word “ Parliament “ is derived from “ parler “ which means to speak. Every honorable member is sent here to voice what he thinks is right and to denounce what he thinks is wrong. Thi department over which the AttorneyGeneral presides may be a department of law, but it is not a department of justice. Adapting a sentence from Dante’s Inferno, I suggest that above the portals of the Attorney-General’s Department should be inscribed these words “To Lawbreakers. Abandon hope all ye who enter here unless ye own great wealth “. Is it not a fact that two men who escaped from the law are millionaires? Is it not true that a malefactor, who is living abroad to escape the consequences of his crimes could be brought back to Australia if the Government would threaten to confiscate the immense properties he owns in this country? On one occasion the head officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department were permitted to accept £1,000 from a private source. When the Labour party exposed that abomination in this chamber the Prime Minister lost his temper, and I remember my leader saying that if Labour had been in power those officers might have been suspended or even dismissed. Throughout the history of the judiciary, from the days of Judge Jeffreys, I doubt if a greater infamy has been committed than the increase of hours and decrease of wages awarded by the president of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. For many decades noble men belonging to the Liberal and Conservative parties in Great Britain - I have in mind particularly Lord Shaftesbury - have endeavoured to improve the wages and living conditions of the workers. Reform progressed steadily until now, when a judge has increased hours and decreased pay by a legal direction. That infamy may well he the epitaph of the man responsible for it. I well remember the sense of triumph I enjoyed when I was able to insert into the bill introduced by Sir Thomas Bent for the construction of a tramway from St. Kilda to Brighton, a clause providing for a working week of six days of eight hours each, and a wage of 7s. a day. At that time the value of money was greater than it is to-day and the proposal was considered almost revolutionary. Indeed, after I entered the Federal Parliament, the Conservatives eliminated that provision from the act. I remember the Mayor of Brighton stating in evidence before the Railways Committee that the provision in the act relating to the working hours and wages was responsible for the financial failure of the line. Lord Leverhulme, one of the greatest organizers of labour that the British people have produced, and a multi-millionaire, was humane enough to reduce the hours of his male employees to 48 and female employees to 44, and in his hook, The SixHours Day, he advocates a working week of 36 hours. Yet Judge Lukin says that the working week should be increased to 48 hours! Will any honorable member say that he knows as much of industry as Lord Leverhulme?


– I ask the honorable member not to reflect on the judiciary.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I am merely comparing a man of purely legal training with a great captain of industry who has built up an organization second only to that controlled by Henry Ford. While Lord Leverhulme is advocating a working week of 36 hours a member of the Australian Judiciary is trying to increase the present working week to 48 hours. Would any man who was well acquainted with the organization of labour do such a thing? Is it not a fact that that mighty man, Henry Ford, is advocating a fiveday week? Yet, in this beloved Australia, that we used to say was in the vanguard of the world’s progress, we are going backwards. That judgment will stand to the discredit of this Government and of the men, whatever position they may occupy, who carry it into effect. I do not believe that the Prime Minister, in the light of the experience he nas had with the firm of which he is a distinguished member, would have felt inclined to take this action had it not been for the prompting of the Attorney-General. Over the entrance to the law courts there should be the inscription, “ Abandon hope all ye who enter here, unless you own great wealth.” Let us see what wealth has done for the Attorney-General in his constituency. Some time ago a list was published by Smith’s Weekly showing the amounts made available out of the funds of the National Union to various constituencies. It shows that the sum of £2,300 was paid to a Mr. Russell, the secretary of the campaign committee in the Kooyong electorate. Smith’s Weekly has never been prosecuted for libel on account of the publication of these figures. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Attorney-General dare prosecute them. I challenge them to do so. I have been responsible for the reprinting of this list and its circulation in my electorate. If these members do not care to prosecute Smith’s Weekly, they can prosecute me. We know that the men who have received these sums dare not take that action, because in the witness-box they would not commit perjury by denying their correctness. These monies are subscribed by the hidden hand which is controlling this Government, and has made it bring forward this measure. Every National candidate in Victoria had an amount ranging up to £3,500 spent in his electorate. Why has this list not been extended to include the sums made available in New South Wales and Queensland? The reason is that no officer betrayed the secret.

This bill is an abomination. When a similar measure was introduced on a former occasion, I quoted from a work written by Henry Demarest Lloyd, and edited by John A. Hobson, entitled A Sovereign People. It is so splendidly written that I shall make a further quotation from it. At page 155 we have the statement -

The employers and employed in each group of trades elect their representatives, fifteen for each side, to form a conseil. The numbers choose by ballot a committee consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary, and vice-secretary, the presidency and the other offices being held alternately by an employer and a workman, with the further proviso that, when the president or the secretary is an employer, the vice-officer must be a workman, and vice versa.

The work of the conseil is divided as follows. First comes the conciliation board, consisting of an employer and a workman, who preside by turns. This board has summary powers of decision in cases involving sums not exceeding twenty francs. In case of disagreement between the members, or where sufficient evidence for a summary judgment is lacking, the case is referred to the second board, the tribunal.

The Tribunal de Prud’hommes consists of a president, three employers, and three workmen, hears evidence and, where necessary, summons experts and gives final decisions in cases not involving more than 500 francs.

Cases involving larger sums are carried to the third court, a chamber of appeal, which consists of a president, five employers, five workers, and a secretary (without a vote).

Finally, certain cases where competence of jurisdiction is disputed are referred for decision to a mixed court composed of two judges of the court of justice (nominated by this court) and three prud’hommes chosen from among themselves by the chamber of appeal.

That is the only place to which legal men are admitted. There are two judges, but they are out-voted by the three members of the Court of Wise Men. The passage continues -

The proceedings of the tribunal and the chamber of appeal are public, and careful rules are provided to secure that no member of a court shall have any interest direct or indirect that is prejudicial to the impartiality of his judgment in the case he is called upon to try.

The conseils have also other functions of a more general order. They are summoned by the cantonal government to deliberate upon questions affecting industry and commerce. A special committee of prud’hommes determines questions regarding the execution of contracts, and constitutes a sanitary authority regarding the conditions of trades. Finally, a central committee, consisting of two elected delegates, forms a reporting and mediating committee between the Conseils de Prud’hommes and the Council of State and governmental departments, and is also entrusted with general powers of investigation into industrial conditions, hygienic, technical, and educational.

Such is the system in force in Geneva and Vaud. Two other cantons, Neufchatel and Solothurm, which had adopted the same method, exchanged it later on for what is commonly known as the method of arbitration courts.

The distinctive feature of this method is the appointment of the president of the Industrial Court from outside the trade the disputes of which he has to arbitrate, thus securing a presiding officer of guaranteed impartiality and usually of higher experience and general competency.

With the exception of the Court of Conciliation, all these courts are open to the public. The Court of Conciliation comprises one employer and one employee, who endeavour to maintain peace between the workmen and the owners. Judgment is given publicly, . either orally or in writing, and is enforceable by the ordinary processes of law. A further passage reads -

Ten courts of arbitration deal with disputes in these groups of trades: -


Earth and building works.



Foodstuffs and liquors.

Clothing trades.

Paper-making and polygraphic industry.



Retail trade and other callings (banks, insurance, employments connected with literature, art and science ) .

The following table will show the number of cases dealt with and the manner in which they were settled: - I quote the following from *Survey of Industrial Relations,* 1926, page 388: - >In France, bodies known as Conseils de Prud'hommes, organized in groups of trades and composed of employers and workpeople in equal numbers, have existed since 1806 for the settlement of disputes affecting individual workers. > >The first law for the settlement of collective disputes was the Voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 27th December, 1892. This act is still in operation, and it forms part of Hook IV of the Labour code, having been incorporated in the code as recently as June, 1923. Under this law, either party to a dispute, or both parties conjointly, may apply to the local magistrate (judge de paix) for the appointment of a conciliation committee; but the magistrate may himself take the initiative in the case of a strike or lockout. If the conciliation committee fail to agree, an arbitration court may be set up at the request of either of the parties, each side naming one or more up to five arbitrators. The magistrate must give an answer within- 24 hours. Claims before the Federal Arbitration Court have been delayed for years before they could be heard. That is because too little use is made of conciliation in this country. In. Italy, Mussolini has prescribed punishment for lockouts far more severe than that for strikes. The employer's sentence in the case of a lockout is a fine of from 10,000 to 100,000 liras and imprisonment for six months to one year. Fancy sending John Brown to prison in Australia! Why, the inhabitants of the tabernacles i of wealth would shriek with horror at the idea. When the workers of Italy go on strike the fine is from 100 to 1,000 liras and the punishment is from one month to six months' imprisonment. It is a pity that this Government does not follow the splendid example set by Mussolini. Since his dictatorship Italy has progressed by leaps and bounds. According to the writer of the *Survey of Industrial Relations,* conciliation and arbitration in Switzerland has a history dating back to 1S82, when the Government of the Canton of Geneva established industrial courts on the model of the French Conseils de Prud'hommes. Other Cantons followed this example. The whole question of conciliation and arbitration. was dealt with by federal enactment in sections 30-35 of the Federal Factory Act of 18th June, 1914, which read - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. For the amicable settlement of collective disputes between factory-owners and work people and also in regard to the interpretation and execution of collective agreements, the Cantons shall establish permanent conciliation boards bearing in mind the requirements of the various industries. The organization of Cantonal conciliation boards shall be subject to the approval of the Federal Council. *[Quorum formed.].* Section 31 - >The conciliation boards shall intervene on their own initiative upon the request of the authorities of the interested parties. Any person subpoenaed by a board shall be compelled, under penalty of a fine, to appear, to take part in the proceedings, and to give all necessary information. The procedure shall be free ofcharge. I want honorable members to notice that the procedure is free of charge. Compare that with the charge of £15,000 made against the unfortunate tramway workers in the early days of conciliation and arbitration. Unions had to despatch 4,000 letters apprising the employers of the action that was being taken, when one small paragraph in the *Government Gazette* would have been quite sufficient notice. The remaining section read : - {: type="1" start="32"} 0. Should a dispute extend beyond the limits of the Canton, the Federal Council shall nominate the Conciliation Board. The Federal Council shall also be entitled to appoint a Cantonal Board to arbitrate. 1. Should a number of factory-owners and their work people, belonging to the same industry, unanimously appoint a conciliation board, the latter shall, as far as they are concerned, replace the public board. 2. The parties shall have the right in every case to empower the Conciliation Board to settle their difference by means of an arbitral award. Should the board have been established by mutual consent, the parties may extend such power to all their differences. 3. The Canton shall have the right to confer more extensive powers on their Conciliation Board than those provided for in the present act. These clauses were implemented by federal resolution of 1st February, 1918, concerning the establishment of conciliation offices. The date 1st April, 1918, was then fixed as that on which the clauses in question should come into operation. It was reported in *Soziale Praxis* for 4th September, 1924, that Conciliation Offices have been set up in all except 4 of the Cantons. I shall now draw the attention of honorable members to a paragraph in the *Contemporary Review,* 1883, in respect of the Courts of the Wise Men. Before these courts, cases were conducted with perfect courtesy. One case concerned an employee who was dismissed, and the court decided that the employer should pay 36 francs, and, for the two letters of the court, 60 centimes. That is equivalent to 6d. The writer states definitely that nowhere in England could justice be gained for 6d. Surely to goodness we, in Australia, should be able to make good laws. The great Gladstone said that a law to be willingly obeyed should be just and merciful, that it should be easier for a man to obey the law than it is for him to break it. I agree with the principle of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but it has in it too much compulsion and too much law. Too many lawyers take part in arbitration. In France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland, no lawyer is allowed to interfere in the courts of conciliation. Only when a case is before the Third Court are two judges chosen, and they are more than balanced by three of the court's wise men. The conciliation courts of those countries operate at a minimum of cost, whereas in Australia the cost of arbitration' is enormous. Lawrence Gronlund, in his book, *TheCooperative Commonwealth* lays down this code - >If a lawyer wins a case by superior vigilance he has done just what his duty requires of him even if he knows he is on the wrong side. A lawyer must steer around, must dodge the law against him. A lawyer should see to it. if he may not surprise his adversary, or even the judge, into some action which will render a new trial . probable to the verdict against him ; for instance . make the judge overrule an objection by stating a flimsy ground, while he conceals the true one. Indeed, our shining lights of the bar do daily acts of a comprehensive rule, that they may do anything to gain a victory except suborning witnesses and forging precedents. This is what Lawrence Gronlundwrites about judge-made laws : - >One more instance is too interesting to omit. Do you know why Christianity is a part of the common law of our country? Because an English judge, Lord Mansfield, mistranslating two words of a dictum of somebody in the loth century called *ancien scripture* (Norman French meaning: ancient writing) "holy scripture"! ! ! That leads me to the following statement of this great writer : - >Just as little Switzerland will furnish us a model of really popular democratic administration in the " referendum ", so it is possible that little Denmark will furnish us a model of popular administration of justice in her so-called Courts of Conciliation ", which have been in existence in that country since 1828, and, during that period, have given immense satisfaction, so much so, indeed, that similar courts have, to a certain extent, been adopted by other countries in Europe. The distinguishing feature of those courts is that no lawyers are allowed there. All suits, whatsoever, without regard to the amounts involved, must, in the first place, be brought before the courts. The judge takes down the oral complaint of the plaintiff, and the oral defence of the defendant, and renders judgment accordingly. If, however, either of the parties is dissatisfied with the judgment, the judge refers the case to the regular courts, in which case, however, no other evidence is allowed to be introduced but that which was laid before the judge sitting in the Court of Conciliation. When the late **Mr. Justice** Higgins was examining the law pertaining to Victoria, I introduced to him a worthy citizen of Denmark who wished to give evidence before the commission. It was explained to me that, in Denmark, the magistrate - the Pacificator - would be sworn to make peace between citizen and citizen, but if the parties failed to agree he would appoint a day to hear the case and give his decision in writing. No lawyers were admitted. The magistrate would hear the case, and give his decision together with reasons. In the event of the magistrate's decision being unacceptable to either of the parties, the case would be heard in a higher court, at which both parties could be represented by lawyers. The lawyers, however, could not introduce fresh evidence, and had to argue the. case on the written decision of the . magistrate. I now wish to quote the following extract from *Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration,* by Douglas Knoop, *vide* page 119 - >With regard to the work done by councils, it is worth noticing that the great majority of the disputes dealt with are directly concerned with wages, e.g., questions concerning the exact amount agreed upon, the time and mode of payment, the amount of fines, hours of labour, absence from work, defective workmanship, apprenticeship, valuation of piece-work, and delay in completing task work. The most striking feature about the councils is the preponderance of conciliation. The average annual number of cases dealt with during the " eighties " slightly exceeded 40,000-- Compare that number with the figures quoted by the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** - and of these two-thirds were settled by conciliation or withdrawal. At the present time more than 50,000 cases come before the Committees of Conciliation. Some 60 per cent, of the cases are settled by the committees, or withdrawn, and only in about 15 per cent, is final judgment passed. On several occasions the Chamber of Deputies have passed bills to alter the existing law with regard to Councils of Prud'homnies, but in each instance the Senate has rejected them. The second chambers are always opposed to humane legislation. In this instance the Government proposes to hand over the control of hundreds of thousands of working men who have wives and children dependent upon them, to the Legislative Councils in the States, which will have the power to veto any arbitration legislation passed by the lower chambers. The second chambers in Australia have always been noted for this infamous conduct. When a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly I had the honour of introducing two private bills, which had been drafted for the protection of women, and which were passed by that chamber the same evening; but the infamous Legislative Council refused to pass one. The government of the day had supported them. One could not be considered by the Legislative Council until the following year, when, however, it became law. The late **Sir George** Turner, who was then Premier, congratulated me upon the success I had achieved, and I am sure that he regretted the attitude adopted by the Legislative Council. I have always been strongly opposed to second chambers. The quotation from Knoop's *Industrials Conciliation and Arbitration* continues - >The chief changes proposed are: that experts should be elected for commerce, agriculture and mining, that the minimum age of electors should be reduced to 21, and that of members to 25, that foremen and chiefs of workshops should be counted as employers, that employers and workmen should remain electors and eligible for membership on the councils for ten years after retirement, that the franchise should be extended to women over 21 and that judgment should be final when the amount involved does not exceed 2,000 francs. The only suggestions which the Senate countenances are the extension of the jurisdiction of the councils to mining, and the raising of the limit under which judgment is to be final from 200 to 300 francs. In every instance the Senate was the stumbling block. Since the publication of this volume in 1905, all the suggestions of the lower House have been carried into effect, notwithstanding the attitude of the Senate which, corresponds with the Legislative Councils in the States. With a few exceptions, Legislative Councils consist of members representing only one class, namely, land-holders and anyone who is not directly or indirectly a land-holder, is not eligible for membership. Honorable members opposite supporting this bill are placing the interests of 900,000 workmen and their dependants under the control of the Legislative Councils in the various States. {: #subdebate-15-0-s34 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Bayley: -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [5.8].- This measure is divided into two parts in one of which provision is made for the removal of a certain legislative structure, and in the other, for a new edifice. When a substantial structure is to be erected it is necessary to remove the old building and to ensure that the foundations arc secure. In this measure, provision is made for the demolition of the old edifice by the repeal of fifteen acts and the amendments of fourteen others. I hold a somewhat unique position in this chamber in that, prior to my election in 1922, I made the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court a main plank in my platform. That was the attitude I adopted towards arbitration in 1925, and again in 1928, and 1 was delighted when I was informed that it was the intention of the Government to abolish the Federal Arbitration Court. The policy I have advocated for years has on three different occasions been endorsed by my electors.I told my constituents that our arbitration ship was leaking so badly that although it would put to sea, it would undoubtedly meet with heavy weather and have to be docked or perhaps scrapped. I was willing that the vessel should be patched, but I was afraid that it was in such a condition that it would be unable to weather the storms it was sure to encounter. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The vessel is all right; the trouble is with the crew. {: #subdebate-15-0-s35 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- That is not so. As I have advocated the total abolition of the Arbitration Court for seven years, it cannot be said that I have not received a mandate from the electors. The platform of the Country party does not go quite so far, and paragraph 4 *(k)* provides that conflict in industry should be avoided by making general arbitration awards in relation to interstate shipping and the pastoral industry. Under this measure, the Commonwealth will retain control over the maritime industry. Although I have always been aware that many major difficulties were likely to arise under the policy I advocated, it was not until the Transport Workers Bill was under consideration that I learned that the Commonwealth had authority to deal with the maritime industry under its trade and commerce powers, instead of under its conciliation and arbitration powers which are being exercised at present. I commend the Government for now introducing a policy which I first advocated in 1922. Is it not illogical to reason that, because an important matter was, or was not, mentioned in a policy speech, the Government is forbidden to place legislation dealing with the subject on the statute-book? Whether the Prime Minister has or has not a mandate does not make the least difference to the introduction of such a measure. as this. I claim that it is unnecessary to have a mandate. The right honorable member for North. Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** proposes to move an amendment providing that the people shall be consulted by way of referendum before the measure becomes law. We have had many referendums, and I have still to learn that a government is forced to go to the people when it wishes to repeal an act. That is introducing a new theory into our Australian policies. Honorable members have been elected by the people to represent certain views. *[Quorum formed.]* It is their duty faithfully to maintain those views. We have to make our own decisions. If certain legislation is a brake on the progress of the nation we should be recreant in our duty if we failed to repeal it. I still desire to know how, and when, the theory was originated that it is necessary to go to the people before repealing an act. Many acts have been repealed and the fact that this measure now affects fifteen other acts makes no difference. There is no need to conduct a referendum on the matter. Honorable members opposite are merely seeking to cloud the issue. This afternoon I asked a pertinent question of the honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin)** when he was pointing out that the Federal Arbitration Court had done much for the wageearners of Australia. I asked why, if it has been of such benefit to our wageearners, employees have assisted to repudiate its awards. I received no answer. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Oh, yes, the honorable member did. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I repeat, I received no answer. Honorable members opposite deliberately shirk the issue. This matter was brought to a head by a strike in the timber industry. Peculiarly enough, although we knew that there were exceptionally militant associations, such as the waterside workers organization and the coal-miners- organizations - the latter being responsible, in 1927, for 59 per cent, of the strikes in New South Wales - we believed that the timber workers union was of a very mild disposition. That leads me to put forward this aspect of the case. For a number of years, certain privileges were granted to various unions, but the first time that the court failed to grant the request of a union - in this case the hitherto docile timber workers union - that organization went on strike. In other words, the court created a militant union and a strike by refusing to grant what was sought from it. Is' it seriously claimed that the court can continue to be of benefit to Australia? I contend that that union, by going on strike when its claims were refused, effectively killed the federal system of arbitration. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- John Brown was the principal cause of the Federal Government withdrawing from the field of arbitration. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- He may have been a contributory factor. Through the considered action of several unions the court has been jettisoned. The most severe condemnation of that court was uttered by Judge Lukin himself. Following a determination by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions not to file further plaints in the Arbitration Court, and not to be represented in the court the Federated Carters and Drivers Industrial Union of Australia applied to Judge Lukin in the Arbitration Court to have its plaint dismissed. In this case **Mr. R.** Cheney represented the unions, and I shall read a significant portion of the report for the information of honorable members. It is as follows: - >By Judge Lukin. - What have you to say about your members being out on strike? > > **Mr. Cheney.** ; I say that our members stand for unionism. > >Judge Lukin. - But that is not an answer to my question. > > **Mr. Cheney.** ; We have no special interest in the timber workers' strike, except sympathetically. We are a component part of the Australasian Council of Trades Unions, and we have to obey a decision of that body. > >Judge Lukin. - Whether it is against the law or not? > > **Mr. Cheney.** ; Most certainly! I answer that with the greatest deliberation. > >Judge Lukin. - I realize that. I ask the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell),** who contends that the court should continue to operate, what he has to say to that. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- If the honorable member had a guarantee that awards would be faithfully observed, would he be prepared to continue the court ? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- We have not the power under our Constitution to enforce awards. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Will the honorable member answer my question? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I have done so. We have not the power to give the necessary guarantees. **Mr. Judge** Lukin, dealing with the position of the unions, had this to say - >There is another unpleasant and regrettable aspect of the present trouble to which I may refer. That is the position which, at the behest and direction of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, the Federal unions are to take up against the arbitration laws of the community. I say advisedly " the laws of the commnity," because the court, as the community's representative, is the duly appointed authority empowered to make arbitration laws on behalf of the community in respect to interstate disputes. > >Shortly stated, the position is a defiance of those laws, and an attempted boycott of the court. An individual or organization that persists in defying the laws of the community compels the community to treat him or it as what he or it claims to be, that is, an outlaw, One of the necessary consequences of outlawry is a deprivation of benefits of the law which the outlaw defies. Trade unions have defied the court on many occasions, and made themselves outlaws. Now they are trying, through their accredited representatives here, to have their privileges preserved, and honorable members are squealing, because the unions are to be deprived of the protection of laws which they refused to respect. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- We are not squealing; we are fighting the issue fairly. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The honorable member and his colleagues squealed all last night. " Judge Lukin said that one of the necessary consequences of outlawry was the loss of legal rights. The unions having placed themselves outside the law, have forfeited their right to the protection of the law. Therefore, take the court away; it is the only thing to do. If nobody else in this House has a mandate to support the abolition of arbitration, I at least can claim to have one. During three election campaigns, starting from 1922, I have pledged myself consistently to support the abolition of the Arbitration Court. That has always been one of the main planks of my platform. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The honorable member can sympathize with his colleagues, who have to change their minds so often. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- There is no occasion to offer them sympathy; only commendation. In 1926, this House, with only two dissentient voices, agreed to refer to the people, by way of referendum, a proposal 'that the Constitution should be amended in order to give the Commonwealth wider powers, particularly in regard to arbitration. Singularly enough, the only two members who opposed the proposal sat on this side of the House. The proposal put before the electors was that, instead of having an emasculated Arbitration Court such as we have to-day, we should have one clothed with full powers. It is interesting to analyse the vote of the electors in order to determine whether or not honorable members opposite may claim to have a mandate from the people to oppose this bill. Were the constituents of the Leader of the Opposition in favour of the extension of powers asked in order to make the court effective? They were not. In the division of Tarra there was a majority of 24,129 against the proposal. In the division of Dalley, which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Theodore)** represented at that time - {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- I was not a member at that time. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I am sorry. At any rate, in that electorate the majority against the proposal was 12,802. In the electorate of some of the other verbose members opposite, the voice of the people in opposition to the extension of Commonwealth powers was just as definite. In the division of Maribyrnong, which the Opposition Whip, **Mr. Penton,** represents, that persuasive and talkative gentleman was not able to induce the electors to agree to the proposal which he recommended, and they voted " No " by a majority of 21,048. In the electorate of the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Anstey),** who was at one time Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the majority against the proposal was 24,568. The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. C. Riley)** smiles; I shall furnish him with the figures for his own electorate. There the electors turned down the proposal by a majority of 17,223. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- What was the result of the vote in the honorable member's own electorate ? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- In my electorate the " Yes " majority was the biggest in the State of New South- Wales. That was their opinion on the question of the extension of powers of the Federal Arbitration Court, but since the Commonwealth was not able to secure those extra powers, the best thing to do is to get out of arbitration altogether. In Hindmarsh, which is represented by the secretary of the Labour party, **Mr. Makin,** the majority for "No" was 22,733, which shows the extent of his influence among his electors. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- What was the majority in the Flinders division? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I do not know; I have not the figures here. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- There was a majority against the proposal, in spite of the personal appeal of the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I have quoted the results in the electorates of the officers of the Opposition party, and in no case was the majority for " No " less than 20,000. Yet those members come here and tell the Government that it has no mandate to abolish the Arbitration Court. Where, I ask them., is their mandate for saying that the court must be retained? Their own electors have said very definitely that the Commonwealth Government should get out of arbitration, and hand the control of industrial matters back to the States. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- They always vote for our platform by the same majority. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- That reminds me of a phrase used this afternoon by the honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Cur tin)** . It consisted of only three words, but it stuck in my mind. He said, "Individualism is dead." {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Among members of the Labour party. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- Of course I do not infer that it is dead among Government supporters.. There is a great deal of twisting and wriggling going on among members of the Opposition party. To speak crudely, the Labour party may be likened to a seething mass of maggots, because maggots have no individuality. {: #subdebate-15-0-s36 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Littleton Groom: -- Order! I ask the honorable member to modify his language. He must not use such expressions. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- What has the honorable member to say about those on his own side who have allowed their opinions to be submerged? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I know of no one on this side whose opinions have been submerged. I wonder whether the flood of union secretaries who have been in Canberra recently has had anything to do with submerging the opinions of honorable members opposite? The honorable member for Fremantle extolled as a virtue the absence of individualism. We have been aware for a long time of the lack of this quality among members of the Opposition, and I am glad that one of them has at last admitted it. I am sorry to say that a more weak-kneed crowd of sycophants than the members of the Labour party I have never seen. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- The members of the honorable member's own party are silent, which shows that they do not agree with him. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- Not necessarily. A little while ago there was published in the *Sydney Morning Herald* a series of articles by an anonymous correspondent which threw some interesting sidelights upon the Federal Arbitration Court. In one of these articles the . writer states - >The statement is made' that in Victoria 60 separate industries are subject to overlapping, and that in the other States the position is comparable. In some cases a single industry has to study and observe sheaves of detailed regulations included in more than 30 awards. A leading manufacturer of confectionery puts his position thus - > >In my business we are under 38 wages boards and arbitration awards. The result is endless confusion and enormous expense. Some of our employees commence at 7.30, some at 7.45, some at 8 and some at 9. Some cease for lunch at 12, some at 12.30 and some at 1 o'clock. Some have 30 minutes, some 45 and some 60 minutes. Some cease work at 5, some at 5.15, some at 5.30, some at 6. Some work 35 hours a week, some 44, some 48. Can one imagine anything so complicated and irritating? A clerical staff is employed to check the hours and conditions. As a matter of fact, they are so complicated that I am unable to tell whether the employees should be coming or going. That is in one establishment alone. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- That can be stopped by the States, but not so long as the Commonwealth is operating in the field of arbitration. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- Duplication is the cause of these troubles. This bill will remedy the existing unsatisfactory state of affairs. The report of the "Big Four " contains the following in relation to the overlapping of awards : - >If the settlement of. industrial disputes must continue to be referred to Arbitration Courts, we think that the faults of the system will continue to be intensified, unless an end can be put to overlapping and conflict between the spheres of Commonwealth and State jurisdiction, and the courts themselves are laid under, an unqualified statutory instruction to have regard to the economic effects of their awards, both on the industry with which the awards may be immediately concerned, and on other industries which may be indirectly affected by them. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Of the 38 awards mentioned by the honorable member, how many are State and howmany Federal? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I do not know. Let me quote again from the article to which I have referred. It gives particulars of the cost to the parties of the cases heard before the court - >The costs of industrial Litigation amount to several thousands of pounds in many cases. Even the minor matter of taking notes and making transcripts of the evidence is serious. Here are someof the bills paid by the parties in this way: - Federated Engine-drivers and > >Firemen, V.A.T. Amalgamated, Gold-miners and others, £552 17s. 3d.; Australian Tramways Employees Association v. Railway Commissioners of New South Wales, vice versa, £204 18s. Gd.; Printing Industrial Employees Union v. Arbuckle, Waddle and others, £128 19s. 9d. ; Australian Workers Union v. Alston and others, £120 3s. 3d.; Timber Merchants and Saw-millers Association v. ' Australian Timber Workers Union, £555 2s. 9d. The general secretary of the Australian Railways Union has said that the arbitration expenses incurred on behalf of the union during the last six years have amounted to £9,084. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- Are those the court costs ? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- They are the hills that have been paid for arbitration expenses. {: .speaker-K7Z} ##### Mr Culley: -- What return did the unions get for the expenditure? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- They got too much return. I also desire to draw attention to the number of disputes which were settled during the years 1925-26-27, and 1928. In 1924 the number of all disputes was 500. In the following years mentioned the numbers were respectively 491, 356, 435 and 282. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- Do those numbers include the disputes mentioned by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I do not know. The figures I have given are those of the Commonwealth Statistician. Of those disputes the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court settled twelve, or 2£ per cent., in 1924; thirteen, or 3 per cent, in 1925 ; thirteen, or 4 per cent., in 1926, and nineteen, or 4 per cent., in 1927. During those five years, out of 2,064 industrial disputes, only 63, or about 3 per cent., were settled by the Federal Arbitration Court. The others were settled in various ways, mostly by negotiation as this bill proposes. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- One of them concerned a waitress who broke a plate and refused to pay for it. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I am glad of that admission that a whole crowd of employees went on strike for such a trivial reason. The main objection to this bill is that it will throw a number of union secretaries out of a job. That is the reason for their lobbying. I do not blame them for coming here to save their jobs. Any man similarly situated would be justified in taking action to . keep himself employed. These men have, however, "put it over" members of the Opposition, who are not really voicing their own opinions, but the opinions of these union 'secretaries. Even the gentleman whose name is indissolubly associated with the Federal Arbitration Court - **Mr. Justice** Higgins - wrote against the repudiation of the court's awards. He pointed out on more than one occasion that the main weakness of the court was its inability to enforce its awards - " I have seen a cartoon in a Labour newspaper," writes **Mr. Justice** Higgins, in his book on arbitration, " showing a labourer walking towards a gate marked ' freedom ' and a bull-dog with a collar marked 'arbitration.' Arbitration bars his path." What do honorable members opposite stand for - freedom, or the dictum of the honorable member for Fremantle' **(Mr. Curtin)** that his individuality has gone: he is one of the herd ; he will do what he is told? Honorable members opposite would deprive the " dinkum " worker of freedom. In the timber workers' case they wanted to prevent the taking of a ballot. That was an interference with the freedom of those workers, suggestive of the methods of the " basher gang " in Sydney. " Dinkum " workers in New South Wales are being barred to-day. You are pre' venting " dinkum " workers, who art willing to work, from obtaining it. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The honorable member uses the word "you." Whom does he mean? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I refer to honorable members opposite. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- It is a lie. I ask you, **Mr. Speaker,** to call upon the honorable member for Richmond to withdraw his statement. {: #subdebate-15-0-s37 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member must withdraw his remark that another honorable member has given expression to a lie. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I am prepared to do it for the time being. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member must withdraw it unconditionally. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I do not attach any conditions. I regard the statement of the honorable member for Richmond as most offensive and objectionable. It has no foundation in fact, and I ask that he be called upon to withdraw it immediately. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- To what statement does the honorable member refer ? While the honorable member for Richmond was speaking, the honorable member for Cook asked him a question, and, in reply, the honorable member for Richmond said he referred to honorable members opposite. I heard nothing offensive. If the honorable member takes exception to any statement made by the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green),** and considers that it applied to him, he may, when the honorable member for Richmond has resumed his seat, make a personal explanation. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I take strong exception to the base and false statement of the honorable member, for Richmond. He said that honorable members of the Opposition were connected with certain happenings associated with the " Basher Gang" in Sydney. That statement is most offensive, and I ask for its withdrawal. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- If the honorable member for Richmond made use of those words, they would certainly be offensive. If he used them, he should withdraw them. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I have no intention of withdrawing a statement which I did not make. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. E. C. Riley),** if he thinks that the honorable member for Richmond made the statement to which he has referred, is entitled to take exception to it as applying to himself. But when the honorable member for Richmond assures me that he did not make the statement, I must accept his assurance as a man of honour. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I will repeat, as nearly as possible, what I did say concerning the Opposition. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Richmond said his remarks applied to all honorable members on this side. He said that we were denying work to " dinkum " workers. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I said that, and I mean it. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- The honorable member referred to certain happenings in Sydney. He said that we on this side denied freedom to " dinkum " workers. He made it clear that he meant the whole of the members of the Opposition. The remark is offensive to me, and I ask that he be called upon to withdraw it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I cannot see that the remark was offensive. The honorable member for Richmond suggested that freedom was being denied to certain men by honorable members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Adelaide **(Mr. Yates)** is entitled to deny the correctness of the statement at the proper time. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- The honorable member for Richmond referred to certain happenings in Sydney, with which the "Basher Gang" was associated, and then he said that we on this side denied freedom to " dinkum " workers. I point out, **Mr. Speaker,** that we have a definition of a " dinkum worker," which differs from that of the honorable member for Richmond. That, following his previous remarks, makes the term very offensive to me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! I am afraid that if an honorable member uses a phrase, the meaning of which may be ambiguous, it is not for the Chair to interpret it necessarily as offensive, apart from the context. The honorable member for Richmond has given me his assurance that he did not apply to honorable members of the Opposition the words of which the honorable member for Cook complained. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I shall repeat what I said in order that there may be no misunderstanding on the point. I said that freedom was being denied to the " dinkum " workers of Australia and that honorable members opposite and those who are sitting behind them are responsible for it. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- On a point of order, I take strong exception to that remark. I have had nothing to do with the timber workers' strike in New South Wales. I am not a New South Wales member. The timber workers of South Australia are working amicably. The honorable member has included me in the remark that he has just made, and I object to the inclusion. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The remark of the honorable member for Richmond could not be regarded as offensive. If the honorable member for Adelaide feels that the statement made is incorrect he will have an opportunity later to correct it. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- There is no doubt whatever that intimidation tactics have been adopted against the workers of Australia which have had result, in some cases, of causing men to allow their wives and children to starve rather than submit to the nickname of " scab. " A man who does that deserves all that is coming to him. I was a trade unionist for many years, but in those days no domination whatever was exercised over me. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- And domination is not exercised over the unionists to-day. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- But you are under domination to-day. Mr.R. GREEN.- The Labour party is still speaking with two voices. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie says that there is no domination and the honorable member for Macquarie says that there is. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- I said that the honorable member was under domination now. Mr.R. GREEN.- The opposition to the passage of this bill is not coming from the real trade unionists. I have a number of trade unionists in my electorate. I have fought my last three campaigns with " the abolition of the Arbitration Court " as an issue. Many trade unionists must have voted for me or I should not have obtained such a large majority. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Is the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court a plank in the platform of the honorable members' party? {: #subdebate-15-0-s38 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- Paragraph *k* of section 4 of the platform of the Country party reads - >Conflict in industry to be avoided by the limitation of Commonwealth arbitration powers to the determination of standards of basic wage, hours of employment and child endowment in industry and for the making of general, awards in relation to the interest of shipping and pastoral industries. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Then why is not something being done for the pastoral industry? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The Government could not be expected to retain the Arbitration Court for the sake of one industry. It is not necessary to retain the court for the sake of the maritime industry, for the power proposed to be exercised over it is contained in those sections of the Constitution which deal with trade and commerce. We cannot use our industrial power effectively because our hands are tied. The main opposition to the abolition of the Arbitration Court is coming from the officials of the federated trade unions who are afraid that they will lose their jobs. The Labour party is not united in its opposition to the bill, as I shall show by a quotation from an article which appeared in the *Pan-Pacific Worker* of the 2nd April, 1928, by **Senator Arthur** Rae, who was elected as a Labour representative at the last election. Honorable members opposite may snort derisively, but **Senator Rae** is a fully accredited Labour man. His article was headed " The curse of compulsory arbitration " and it contained the following paragraph : - >It is impossible to estimate the moral harm which has been done to the Australian working class by its hasty and ill-considered acceptance of arbitration as a solution of labour's problems. On the loth May, 1928, the Australasian Council of Trade Unions passed a resolution in which it expressed its "full satisfaction " with the character of the issue of the *Pan-Pacific Worker* in which ' the article by **Senator Rae** appeared. Here again the Labour party is found to be speaking with two voices. Which voice are we to believe? We have heard a good deal about the mandate which the Government received at the last election. I contend that at least some honorable members of the Labour party received a mandate from the people to support this bill. Among these are the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Scullin),** the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Anstey),** and the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Makin).** These honorable members advocated an affirmative vote on the referendum proposal, but the negative vote on the subject in their electorates showed a majority, in each case, of more than 20,000. Consequently, I cannot see from where the kick of the Opposition is coming. The people refused to give additional industrial power to the Commonwealth in 1926, and it would be useless for us to take another referendum on the subject. , The prestige of the honorable members whom I have mentioned must have suffered a great deal through the adverse vote given in their electorates on the referendum proposals. I have a definite mandate to support this bill, for my electors returned me on a platform which provided for the abolition of the court. As a matter of fact, the Government is seeking to do exactly what the people directed it to do, namely, evacuate the field of industrial arbitration. The High Court has indicated clearly that the awards of the court cannot be enforced. This ought to be a sufficient justification for the action of the Government. I sincerely trust that we shall make it possible for the States to manage their own industrial affairs. This will lead to the workers of Australia being paid all that they can earn. If a man can earn £15 or £20 a week he should be paid it. *Sitting suspended from 6. IS to S p.m. (Friday.)* {: #subdebate-15-0-s39 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera -- I protest against the procedure adopted by the Government in endeavouring to force the bill through this House. We have been sitting continuously for two days and a night, although by no stretch of imagination can the measure be regarded as urgent. No evidence has been adduced in support of the claim for urgency advanced by the Government. The bill is designed to repeal some fifteen statutes and to amend almost as many more. It has never been submitted to the people. The Government had given no indication whatever of its intention to introduce the measure until it was mentioned in the press, following the conference of Federal and State Ministers. At the last election, not the slightest hint was dropped that such legislation was contemplated. No member of this House, and nobody outside it, thought that such a bill would be considered during the life of the present Parliament. On the contrary, there was a statement in the policy speech of the Government that it would support the present arbitration system. As indicated by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell),** no legislation of that description was suggested by the Government after the election. When Parliament went into recess prior to Easter, no member, apart from the Ministry, at any rate, thought that before we met again such a bill would be brought before us. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Not even the members of the Cabinet. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I am referring to the rank and file of the Ministerial party, who, we are assured, are not caucusridden, but free to express their individual opinions. The Government's consultation with the rank and file of its loyal supporters, who follow it so slavishly, consisted in sending them telegrams - urgent telegrams, I believe - informing them that it had decided to do this thing. In the words of the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell),** the announcement came to him, as it must have come to the other members of the party, as a bolt from the blue. Then, a further consultation, if I may describe it by that term, occurred in the party rooms. The Ministerialists were told what the Government intended to do. The Prime Minister brought the measure forward, and he now seriously appeals to the House to discuss it in a non-party spirit! After sitting for many hours continuously, honorable members are still discussing it, although it has never been submitted to the people, and not a scintilla of evidence has been produced in justification of the claim that it is urgent. The conditions in the industrial arena are the same now as they were twelve months ago, except that in the last year the Government has continued to blunder in that sphere, as it has done for the last four or five years. The whole history of the legislation and administration of this Government in industrial matters has been one of bungling. I rather think that a recapitulation of its record in that respect would not be relished by honorable members opposite. The Government said it did not believe in agitators and other undesirable persons, and it brought forward a deportation bill to enable it to send two men out of the country. These persons were seized and placed on Garden Island; but eventually the Government had to compensate them for wrongful arrest. Then it declared, " We are going to see . that the laws of this country are obeyed " ; so it amended the Arbitration Act, and provided for penalties. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- That is nothing like a fair representation of what has been done. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I am relating facts, and, despite the protest by the AttorneyGeneral, I shall continue to do so. Then the Government proceeded to give effect to the legislation it had passed, and certain unions and union officials were fined. Holloway was fined under the provisions of one of the statutes introduced by this Government. I think that he had to pay £50, or go to prison for six months. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- That is not so. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The £50 has not been paid. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- There was an alternative of imprisonment in the Holloway case. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I understand that that was so. If a defendant refuses to pay a fine, what is done further? I have no desire to dwell at length on these matters; but the John Brown case is fresh in our minds. The Government said that it had a prima facie case against that gentleman, who is still at large, and may still be seen at race meetings with his glasses slung over his shoulder. The public may say of him, " There goes a man who, according to the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth, has broken the law " ; but he still goes on, and the Government persists in its statement that it stands for the enforcement of the awards of the Arbitration Court. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- " John Brown's body lies a-mould'ring in the grave, but his soul goes marching on " ! {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I have made a preliminary survey of the circumstances under which we are invited to discuss this measure. I have listened to the battle-royal between representatives of recognized industry and organized capital. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- There are no representatives of organized capital here. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The susceptibility of the Attorney-General is very tender. Evidently the all-night sittings are getting on his nerves. I am quite prepared to agree to the postponement of the debate. As a representative of the pri-mary producers I ask myself where they come in. Where are their champions, who were sent here to represent their interests? With the exception of one speech, we have heard nothing from them during this debate. I shall put the case as I see it, and as one who has been returned again and again by the farmers in 'my constituency, I shall make a brief survey of the position of the primary producers of Australia under the present federal arbitration system and the tariff regime; I couple these two matters because they are inter-related. That fact was recognized by those responsible for the original introduction of compulsory arbitration' legislation. **Sir Edmund** Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister, stated - >The grant of interstate free trade, which follows the adoption of a uniform tariff, is likely, in many respects, to be crippled unless the Commonwealth has power to deal uniformly with the conditions of employment throughout Australia. The conditions of employment and the price of articles are inseparably interwoven, and these conditions and prices are also inseparable from the nature of tlie tariff, whether it operates externally only, or externally and internally among the States. **Mr. Alfred** Deakin, when Prime Minister, in a memorandum presented to Parliament on the 13th December, 1907, said - >To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of duties, while conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles is carried on differ so widely in tlie different States, would be to permit discrimination and discord. . . . > >Effective and useful as State industrial laws have in many cases proved, their operation is circumscribed by State boundaries, and it can hardly be claimed for them that they either do, or can, secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this. In a further memorandum, presented on the 28th October, 1908, **Mr. Deakin** remarked - >As tlie power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of protection must remain incomplete. I do not think that that view 13 opposed in this House. The official organ of the Victorian Country party, an organization to which the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Gibson),** the Minister for Markets and Transport **(Mr. 'Paterson),** and other honorable members in the corner party belong, stated in a leading article last year - >Never before in the history of this country have the primary industries been in the parlous position that they are in to-day. Consider the position of the wheatgrowing industry throughout Australia; I refer particularly to South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. The growers in my own constituency and in northern Victoria have never been in a worse predicament than that in which they now find themselves. Last year the Victorian Parliament was compelled to pass a Postponement of Payments Act in order to relieve the settlers who were in financial difficulties on account of the drought. The position in that State to-day is worse than it was last year, owing to the continuance of the drought. That may be said also of South Australia, where the wheat-growers, with the exception of those in the southern and more favoured parts, are in a desperate position, and a moratorium or some other form of relief alone will save hundreds from being driven off the land. The New South Wales Cabinet is considering a proposal for the consolidation of the settlers' debts in order to prevent many in the western parts of their State from being forced to abandon their holdings. We may be told that these things are due to seasonal conditions, and not to legislation. But seasonal conditions are an integral part of the economic problem of primary production. In any case, the distress does not obtain only in the drought-stricken areas. The soldier settlers and others engaged in the canned fruits industry are in difficulties, and the report of the Development and Migration Commission shows that those people are confronted . with a hopeless economic prospect. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- The jam fruits industry is worse. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams)** is in a position to speak with authority upon that industry. The dried fruits industry also is in difficulties. The dairying industry, owing to legislation and organization, is, for the time being, in a fairly good condition. The wool industry is faced with declining profits and a stationary or increasing cost of production. This is a serious national problem, having regard to the fact that the exports of wool, wheat, meat, butter, and fruit alone keep the Commonwealth solvent. No means can be devised by this or any other Government that will solve the problem of keeping the national finances in a sound state unless we export about £30,000,000 worth of goods more than we import in order to pay our indebtedness overseas. So in considering the economic problems of the country the first and vital factor is the position of the primary industries. Last week several members of the Victorian Parliament journeyed into the new Mallee district to study the conditions of the settlers. Many of them were representatives of city constituencies, and had no practical knowledge of the conditions of the man on the land. I quote this letter, which was published in the *Argus* above the signature of ten representatives of different parties in the Victorian legislature - > **Sir, -** As the result of a special invitation we have visited the new Mallee in the electorate of **Mr. Allnutt,** M.L.A., during the last five days, and gained an intimate insight into the conditions prevailing in that area. While realizing that the weather, especially the terrible duststorms, was exceptional even in this part of the State, we feel that the circumstances thoroughly warrant the request that we are making in this letter. > >The new Mallee is now experiencing its third successive year of drought. Many settlers and their families are living in bag humpies, and others in tin huts under conditions which would be considered serious in other parts of the State, but are appalling in the Mallee. Four children in one family in a two-roomed shack had to be taken away to hospital in the midst of the great duststorm on Saturday. Despite hard work in clearing the land and sowing crops the rain has failed the settlers. Still battling cheerfully against adversity, they are continuing bravely with their task, but they have been unable in most cases to do anything to improve the living conditions' of their families. For the last two years the majority of the women and children have been living on Government sustenance. They have not been able to leave their Mallee huts even for a night. Hard work and cruel weather conditions have sapped their energy and vitality in a manner that cannot fail to enlist the sympathy of those who live in more favorable circumstances. There is no prospect of an improvement in their position for at least eighteen months. All the rain in the world could not save this year's crops. The writers concluded by appealing for funds to get the women and children out of that area for a few weeks in order that they might recuperate. The drab picture they painted is unfortunately only too true, and I draw to it the attention of members of the Opposition, who battle so loyally - rightly so - to improve the conditions of those whom they represent. The wage-earners in the secondary industries are not the worst remunerated. Much lip loyalty is paid to the pioneers, but their reward is to work long hours under the worst conditions for a less return than is paid to those engaged in any other industry. And the people who are slaving under conditions approaching starvation read in the newspapers this sort of thing - Sydney, Thursday. The Lustre Hosiery Company was fined £3 by the Chief Industrial Magistrate for having neglected to provide Mary Nolan, an employee, with morning tea. I have no objection to the workers having morning tea, but the circumstances indicated by that paragraph are in striking contrast to those of the primary producers. The colossal losses in connexion, with soldier settlement are due, not alone to Government bungling, but also to the fact that men were directed into an industry in which the conditions are worse than in any other. As a farmer, I have often thought how strange it is that when the Government wants to settle migrants or soldiers it places them on the land. Why does it not create factories and find employment for them there? Always it puts them on the land, as tens of thousands of soldiers who fought and suffered for this country have been settled. The reward of their sacrifice is a raw block of scrub. I met a neighbour on a sandhill one day who, after three or four years of drought, had nothing to show for his hard, work and privations but a letter from the Soldier Settlement Board stating that his indebtedness far exceeded the value of his block. Looking about him he said, " Sometimes I wonder who won the war:" **Mr. White.** - Have not thousands of men been put into other industries? {: #subdebate-15-0-s40 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The Repatriation Department did not put as many men into secondary industries as were placed on the land. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- Is not the honorable member making out a wonderfully good case for the repeal of the Arbitration Act ? {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- What are the Government's reasons for proposing that step? The Attorney-General stated the most important when he said that the purpose of the bill was to abolish dual controlof industry, from which nearly all our industrial evils result. How can he say that the abolition of the Arbitration Court will abolish dual control? The inference from his statement is that there will be only one controlling body in industry. That may be true of an industry peculiar to one State, but it is absurd to say that there will be only one control of industry throughout ' Australia. There will be six different bodies, and sometimes they will be attempting to control the one industry. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- There are seven now. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The most the honorable member claims is, that whereas there are now seven controlling authorities, if this bill is passed there will be only six. But the Attorney-General says there will be only one. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- No evidence has been produced in support of that extraordinary statement. The champions of the bill say that the abolition of the Federal Court will benefit the producers, the workers, and the manufacturers, and will reduce the cost of production. But how ? What will be reduced ? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- It will reduce the expensive overhead. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The overhead, whatever it may mean, is surely not sufficiently great to permit of a substantial reduction of the cost of living and production throughout Australia. The Government states that wages will not be reduced, and that there will be no chaos in industry, because regulation by a State authority will continue. To say that this policy will reduce the cost of production is one thing; to show in what way it will do so is another. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court is linked up with the tariff policy of the Government. If the Government had said that all sections of the community must make sacrifices, and had brought forward a proposal for a general tariff reduction, the workers would have been less suspicious than they are ; but with the record that the Government has in regard to industrial matters, what else can it expect, when it does not propose to touch even one stone in the temple of the tariff, but on the contrary intends to add one or two more, and in addition to wipe away the particular tribunal which safeguards the workers of this country? There is not one gentleman on the front Government bench who knows anything about industrial matters. They have not been through the hard school of experience in which I and other honorable members were trained. They do not understand the psychology of the workers of this country. They overlook the fact that the sweeping away of this structure will not have the effect of destroying the federal character of the unions. The tendency throughout industry is to merge into larger bodies. The federal character of the labour unions has been developed and strengthened within recent years, and that development will continue in the years to come. If this measure becomes law, chaotic conditions will result from State tribunals endeavouring individually to regulate federal industries in opposition to federal industrial organizations. There will be -six different authorities. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Instead of seven. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The AttorneyGeneral says that there will be only one, but now one of his supporters admits that there will be six. The primary producers, as well as the Labour organizations, believe in industry being federally controlled. My friend, the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** also holds that belief. He has upon the noticepaper the following motion : - >That in the opinion of this House steps should be taken to induce the States to -agree to an amendment of the Constitution, which would permit of an Australian organization, with complete sectional control of internal and external marketing of each rural product by the producers of such commodity. It is not often that the honorable member and I are in agreement, but we agree in this matter, and I propose to support that motion. The wheat-growers of Australia are to-day clamouring for a federal organization. What is the objection that is raised by those who oppose the organization of the wheat-growing industry? It is that a compulsory pool in one State will be ineffective because of competition from other States. That is what the Labour unions say. In the dried fruits industry there is now before the courts a case concerning the seizure of fruit under the authority of certain State acts. The basis of the recommendation made by the Development and Migration Commission in regard to that industry was that there should be federal control and amalgamation of packing sheds. That commission inquired also into the canned fruits industry, and the basis of its recommendation was that it should be organized on a federal basis, and that there should be an amalgamation of the canning factories at Shepparton, Kyabram, Mooroopna, and Leeton. Wherever one turns, one finds that State control of primary industries is ineffective, and that almost to a man the primary producers are federalists. Let it not be thought for one moment that I am in favour of the maintenance of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court as it exists at present. In the past I have criticized that court and the tariff policy of the Government. The real issue before this House is, not the existence of the court in its present form, but Federal versus State control of industry. When a choice has to be made between State and Federal control, I unhesitatingly choose the latter. The regulation of industry is admittedly a difficult problem, which is puzzling the best brains in. the civilized world to-day. Human nature being what it is, it is difficult to say whether any really satisfactory solution of the problem is possible under our present social system. While we have production for profit, it seems to me that we must have difficulties. In the last analysis we cannot compel a body of men to sell their labour, which is the only article they have to sell, at a rate that will not give them a reasonable return and ensure decent living conditions for those who are dependent upon them. On the other hand, can we rightly compel a man to keep his business open if it does not pay him to do so? It appears to me that our best course would be to have conciliation rather than arbitration legislation, and to provide machinery whereby both sides could endeavour to settle their problems in an amicable, peaceful way. I would give to any Government the necessary powers to maintain law and order, so that in the event of any serious conflict it could take steps to protect the interests of the community. It is wrong to wrangle and abuse each other, because we cannot make things perfect. We can only do our best. My sympathies have always been with the workmen of this country. I am and always have been one of them. I represent a primary producing constituency, if anything a conservative, not a radical, constituency. I believe in organization, and have been in the thick of every fight to organize the primary producers. I came into this House as a representative of organized farmers, who considered that they were not getting fair treatment from either of the two big parties. I still think that no political party will look after the interests of the farmers so well as one of their own making. I advised the farmers to send their own men . to Parliament to safeguard their interests, to support measures rather than men, and not to identify themselves with any other party. Some honorable members who sit on the Government side of the House were elected on that policy. It is still my policy, but it has ceased to be theirs. There are some farmers who say, " If you can only keep the dreadful Labour party off the Government benches, peace and prosperity will reign." I can honestly say that whenever the primary producers have organized with the object of shaking the middlemen off their backs or of improving their conditions economically, it has been not the workers, but those who represent the big business interests in this country, who have opposed them. We have said that, if there is to be pricefixation in respect of what we use in production, if others are to fix prices for us, we will fix the price of wheat. We therefore set out to organize the wheat pool. Who fought us? Not the Labour unions, but those who believe in maintaining the usual trade channels. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- It would not be amiss if the honorable member mentioned the word " arbitration " now and again. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I am dealing with an important aspect of arbitration. The economic aspect is very pertinent to the issue before the House. For years past the representatives of the manure companies have sat round a table and fixed the price of manure. The farmers decided to form their own co-operative manure company, and they set out to do it. Who fought them? Not workers' unions or the trades hall ; but the manure combine. The chairman of the Phosphate Co-operative Company, the honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. Hill)** is not in the chamber. I pay him a tribute for the good work that he has done as the. chairman of that company ; but he could tell those on the Government side a rather embarrassing story of the efforts of vested interests to prevent the co-operative company from starting in Victoria. When that company was established the price of superphosphate was immediately reduced by over £1 a ton. To-day the manure interests have amalgamated, and it will now be a fight to the death between the organization of capital and the farmers' co-operative company. We have always had to fight when we have set out to emancipate ourselves economically. I give, still another illustration; as we failed to receive a fair deal from the press, we started a paper of our own. Some £170,000 or £180,000 of the farmers' hard-earned money was used in establishing the *Morning Post* in Melbourne. We said, " This will be our organ, and in it we shall give expression to our opinions." The other day I received a letter from a liquidator returning me 3s. or 4s. for £1 shares. Who boycotted and eventually killed that newspaper? Not the workers' unions or the trades hall, but the Nationalist organizations in combination. That is my justification for the stand that I have taken ever since I have been in this Parliament. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- Does the honorable member suggest that there are "basher gangs"? {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I am suggesting nothing. The subject of " basher gangs," of " a seething mass of maggots," " running sores " and " f angless snakes " and similar nauseous expressions I leave to the dignified members of the Government. I hope that this measure will not be passed; but, if it is, I hope that the House will agree to the amendment which the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** proposes to move in committee. The people should be consulted. The Government has no mandate for the abolition of the federal arbitration system. It is rather extraordinary that a government that is usually so strong on mandates should do a thing like this without a mandate. How often has the Government in the past endeavoured to justify its actions by declaring that it has a mandate. The very fact that it had a mandate seemed to justify it in expecting the Opposition to raise no objection to any legislation that had been mentioned by Nationalists on the hustings. The right honorable member for North Sydney said that the Government's action in withdrawing the prosecution against John Brown would lose the Nationalist party tens of thousands of votes. The passage of this measure will have the same effect. Government members proudly proclaim the fact that they receive the vote of a large section of the workers of this country. That is true. They would not be on the treasury bench to-day had they not, during the last election, received the votes of thousands of organized workers, who not only voted for them, but also worked for the Nationalist cause. What will those men, and women, too, say when they find that their representatives in this chamber are assisting to pass legislation the operation of which will affect them adversely? The people of this country never for one moment dreamt that the Government, which claimed their support under the plea of the maintenance of law and order, would set about abolishing the federal arbitration system, thus dealing a deadly blow to the organizations to which they belong and to the industries from which their bread and butter is won. I suggest that the Government would be well advised, before passing this far-reaching legislation, to consult the people of Australia. {: #subdebate-15-0-s41 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 .- I have listened with great patience to a long debate, in the course of which the leaders of both sides fully supported by the rank and file of their parties have presented their views to this House. It is my lot to follow the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart).** That honorable member and myself represent adjoining constituencies. For the most part he, like myself, is returned by the aid of the farming community. He takes his stand on this measure alongside the Labour Opposition. I take my stand alongside the Government, because I consider that this measure is a justification of the action that I took, together with the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Gregory),** three years ago when it was almost political heresy to talk of the abolition of the central compulsory arbitration system. The honorable member for Swan and myself, during a sitting in Melbourne, fought a strenuous and prolonged fight against the combined parties in this House, and we succeeded finally in defeating the proposals in the country. I may say that my constituency was the only one in Victoria that recorded a majority vote for the proposals advocated by its representative in Parliament. I have listened conscientiously to this debate, endeavouring to find the main points of difference. I find that the compass has been boxed in the course of the debate. What members of the Labour party can explain away the vote cast at the referendum to grant full industrial powers to the Commonwealth when down they went like skittles in front of their constituents? The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Scullin)** had at the former election a majority of over 20,000, yet at the referendum he had a deficit of 10,000, which made him 30,000 votes to the bad. The Prime Minister had a similar unfortunate experience. But the honorable member for Swan and myself were at least supported in our constituencies, for* the votes we cast and the views we expressed on that occasion. I have been a keen observer of the effect of the central compulsory system of arbitration on the economic and public life of Australia. It is useless for the Opposition to say that this legislation will pull down the temple of Labour. We are not to he carried away by cant and sob stuff. We can think for ourselves. We are here to do good for Australia. We have had 25 years experience of federal arbitration, yet, to-day, the financial and economic position of Australia is deplorable. Honorable members opposite talk of the high social standard of the people. Who enjoys it? It is not the tens of thousands of returned men, especially those on the land. We have more unemployment in our midst than- ever before in the history of Australia. The men who are workless cannot enjoy our high social standard. There is no clear money in industry now. The man on the land to-day is confronted with heavy production costs but little clear money. The man in business has little clear money to-day. The wage-earners are receiving high wages but they have no clear money. The purchasing power of money is not what it used to be. Our boys and girls who are reaching maturity have little opportunity to launch out on careers. Never before has it been so difficult to obtain employment. We are to-day suffering a severe depression, notwithstanding the past run of good seasons that we have had and the enormous sums that we have borrowed. To-day the economic and industrial life of this country has reached its worst stage. During the last fourteen years Australia has borrowed and expended £800,000,000. Fourteen years ago the Commonwealth had no public debt, but the State debts amounted to £320,000,000, borrowed over the whole period of responsible government, and the average rate of interest on them was £3 32s. 6d. To-day the aggregate public debt of the Commonwealth and the States is £1,115,000,000, on which interest at an average rate of 5 per cent, is being paid, the annual interest bill being £55,000,000, or an amount greater than the value of our annual wool clip. In 1924 our pension bill was £3,200,000, but to-day it is in the region of £19,000,000. Wool prices are approximately 33 per cent, lower than they were last year; the wheat harvest promises to be poor, and in the district represented by the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** the outlook is anything but promising; indeed, there is no certainty of a good - harvest in any portion of the agricultural belt in Australia. In these circumstances, the time has arrived for the Government to examine, completely and fearlessly, our financial and economic position. While we are here debating the manner in which industrial disputes should be settled, and the means by which rates of wages and living conditions can be adjusted, we are touching only one phase of the economic conditions of our country. It is necessary that we should engage in a much closer scrutiny, to ascertain the direction in which our general national policy should be amended. We are not in a position to maintain false standards which now exist on borrowed money. I do not care what honorable members opposite may say, I am not afraid to assert that, while seeking to maintain these standards, we send representatives to the Mother Country, where there are 1,250,000 people unemployed. We tell the people there, in effect that they should adopt our standards, and pay the wages which our workers are receiving and at the same time we coolly ask if we can borrow another £50,000,000 to maintain our conditions. This cannot continue. We had a severe rebuff a few days ago in connexion with the issue of Treasury bills in London for a period of twelve months, when we could borrow only at £6 3s. per cent. The Commonwealth is reaching the limit of its borrowing capacity, and I am glad that the Government has at last realized that a Commonwealth compulsory arbitration policy is economically unsound. " Our federal arbitration policy has been in operation for 25 years, and has failed -even the workers. The Australian wageearner has a perfect right, in return for honest service, to enjoy sound economic conditions, and to receive a fair margin in the matter of remuneration to enable him to maintain his wife and family in comfort. I do not advocate the reduction of wages as the first necessity in a general economic overhaul. With the good times we all went up together and we must all come down together. In 1914, when this nation undertook heavy war activities, we incurred an enormous war debt. The conditions which prevailed at that time were responsible for the heavy expenditure of loan money. Huge contracts were entered into, almost regardless of the consequences. After the first year or two of the war, we experienced wonderful seasons, with high prices for our primary produce. Extensive borrowing of money caused an inflation of prices, the effect of which is still being felt, and whilst other countries have been writing down we have declined to do so. Like the ostrich, we are seeking to hide our head in the sand, while the rest of our body is still exposed. We cannot carry on our national work on a false basis, and the sooner we face the actual facts, the better it will be for the people. I am glad this measure has been introduced, as it may be the means of improving our economic position. Some honorable members have said that, when the measure becomes operative, there will be six authorities controlling industrial arbitration. There will be a separate authority in each State but one. But these authorities will not be in conflict. The State authorities will have sovereign powers within the State boundaries. It may be necessary to establish a coordinating authority in order to ensure fairly uniform conditions and to remove anomalies, but that is a matter for the States. I do not think there will be any overlapping. Who can be a more jealous custodian and guardian of the States' rights than the States themselves? Can a central authority be more solicitous for the interests of the people within a State than a State authority? The honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin)** said he wished the Commonwealth and State arbitration systems to prevail. I can only surmise that he knows that the State of which he is one of the representatives is anxious that the control of- its industrial affairs should be in its own hands. Tasmania, which does not possess the resources of the mainland States, was once a happy and contented, if not altogether prosperous, community. For years, Tasmania controlled her own industrial situation in a satisfactory way. It was not until the Commonwealth's Conciliation and Arbitration Act came into operation, that she began to feel thud after thud, and eventually found that she could not stand up to the burden. This forced the Government of that State to come, cap in hand, to the Commonwealth for a financial grant of £300,000 or £400,000, in order to maintain her position under the new system. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- Tasmania is only getting back money to which she is entitled. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- For years Tasmania had to carry the burden of developing the State under federal arbitration awards without federal assistance. Western Australia and South Australia have been compelled to approach the central authority in the same way. The conditions experienced by the States I have mentioned have, they claim, been imposed upon them by the legislation of the federal authority. A federal industrial authority is too costly, too cumbersome, and too slow, and many workers are tired of the Commonwealth arbitration system. Some honorable members opposite say that the workers will rise in open revolt when the industrial machinery is in the hands of a State authority, but in Queensland and . New South Wales the industrialists have been taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the State tribunals. I am not opposed .to rivalry and competition. I do not want Australia to be controlled under a system of unification. We have a diversity of ideals, of climate, and of soils, and there should also be diversity of control; with the States legislating in their own interests and working out their own economic life. I do not believe that a National Parliament in Canberra is the best informed body to deal with the industrial life of the whole of Australia. On the contrary, I find that the system, under which we are operating is too cumbersome and too costly, and that we are too far removed from the people of the States. The State authorities can exercise better control and supervision over those things, which are dominating factors in our national life. I do not wish to traverse th'e arguments which have been adduced by honorable members on both sides of the chamber, but I welcome the opportunity to try out a new system under which, I hope, every industry in Australia will receive a fair deal, and every workman will be able to receive a fair wage, so that they and those dependent upon them will feel that there is a prospect of a bright and prosperous future. {: #subdebate-15-0-s42 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- It must be evident to a majority of the. Australian people that this measure, which is undoubtedly the most important that has ever been placed before this Parliament, has been introduced- at the instigation of the big financial interests; not only in Australia, but overseas. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the speeches of honorable members, and particularly to that of the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers),** who has not spoken in this chamber since the 22nd March. Prior to that date, the honorable member had something to say on almost every subject which came before the House for discussion. The honorable member for Wannon, who said that there had been a good deal of " sob-stuff " used by honorable members on this side of the chamber, also referred to the question of unemployment; but I should like to ask the honorable member what he or the Government which he is supporting has done to solve the unemployment problem. The Government has aggravated the situation by allowing immigrants to come into this country when there is a large army of unemployed, many of whom are starving. When the position of the coal industry was under consideration, on the 22nd March of this year, the honorable member for Wannon said that any one possessing a spark of humanity could not disregard the earnest appeal which had been made by the honorable member for Hunter. He 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 business on a better profit-earning basis, they arc 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 appeal to the Prime Minister to take action to have this matter cleared up. What action has the honorable member for Wannon taken to assist in that direction? When the motion of want of confidence was launched by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Theodore),** he was absent; but when a division was taken at 7.30 a.m. after an all-night sitting he did not assist those for whom he had previously pleaded, but supported the Government in its action in withdrawing the prosecution against J ohn Brown. Such men should not speak of sob-stuff, because when the "hard word" is put on them, they are like snails and crawl into their dugouts. There is another individual to whom I have listened with considerable interest and amusement, the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green).** He said that he never heard anybody from this side of the House, although we advocate the retention of the Arbitration Court, state why we supported the timber workers when they broke an award. I personally support the timber workers' refusal to comply with that pernicious award. It was meted out to them by an old-age pensioner, a fossil from Queensland, who was, and still is, receiving a pension of £1,000 a year from the Queensland Government. {: #subdebate-15-0-s43 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member is entitled to criticize the principles embodied in judgments; but must not use terms which in any way reflect upon the judiciary. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I contend that this judgment was an unjust one. It was founded upon an amendment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration - Act which this party strenuously opposed. A conference was held between the representatives of the timber workers and the timber merchants in Melbourne, and it was agreed by the parties that an inquiry into prevailing conditions was necessary; that it would last at least six months. Judge Lukin conducted an inquiry - and he promulgated his decision within two weeks. Putting it very mildly, I contend that it was indecently unfair for a man receiving a pension of £1,000, and a salary of £2,500 per annum, which works out at approximately £70 a week, to determine that workers in the timber industry should receive only from £3 10s: to £4 10s. a week. .1 fail to see that justice was done, and, so far as the Lukin award is concerned, I shall support the action of the timber workers every time an opportunity presents itself for me to do so. When dealing with the proposal of the Federal Government to vacate the field of federal arbitration, I must primarily consider the position of the organization which is in a large measure responsible for my presence in this chamber. That organization has very clearly defined views on the subject. It has declared against the methods of the court, probably impelled to do so by the legal entanglements that have always delayed the hearing of claims, and by the failure of the tribunal to deal adequately with all aspects of the coal industry. Particularly is it influenced in its decision by the withdrawal of the prosecution against John Brown, who broke the very award under which the coal miners worked. It is further influenced in its decision by the attitude of this Government in standing by and allowing the coal barons of Australia to continue to break that award and to go scot free. If the workers break an award there is a different story to tell. I refresh the memory of honorable members by recalling the history of the early miners' leaders, some of whom were jailed for periods of from six months to two years for infringing the laws of the country, and refer particularly to the Peter Bowling strike. The right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** knows something about that. Those men were taken away from their homes in leg irons, and put into gaol because they were mine union leaders. Yet John Brown and the rest of the coal-owners go scot free. The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green)** mentioned the incidence of strikes in the coal industry, and declared that the coal miners do not obey awards. I ask him to give me an instance. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- Oh, he does not know anything about awards. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- No, he talks a lot of bunkum. That is not to be wondered at, as he appears to come from a place where they have plenty of sheep - and goats. The coal-miners are always prepared to work under their awards, but they have not been allowed to do so. I have tender recollections of my father and my elder brother, with their fellow-workers in and around old Lambton, being confronted with Gatling guns. The New South Wales Government under the instructions of **Sir Henry** Parkes, was responsible for that callous action. Is that the system to which honorable members opposite desire . to return? Is that the open economic ring? Is it the desire of honorable members opposite to go back to the practices of 1888? If it is, they may rest assured that they will get what they are looking for. I am convinced that the granting of arbitration awards by the Federal or State Courts is governed by the economic strength of the unions concerned. The coal-miners' organization is peculiar in this respect. It was inaugurated by men who migrated to Australia determined that the conditions which prevailed in the mines in Great Britain should not prevail here; that there should be no exploitation and sweating of child labour in mines, or the employment on the mine surface of women. Those stalwarts founded an organization composed of the best elements of the incipient trade union movement in Australia. That union gathered to itself a tremendous economic strength, which gave it the capacity to fight for what it considered to be equitable wages and conditions. And it would have continued to progress in that direction had it not been for the callous action of this Government and the Government of New South Wales, who deliberately ranged themselves behind the coal barons. The coal-miners were carrying on their fight strictly within the law of the country, and, although harassed and baited by the coal-owners, for eighteen months they refused to break the law. Then the coal-owners, becoming desperate, took matters into their own hands and broke the award. That is now history, and I do not propose further to dilate upon the facts. I am convinced that in supporting those coal barons in an illegal action this Government provided another nail for its coffin and this fact . would be demonstrated if they faced an election on this issue. History has shown that nothing tangible can be accomplished by the workers unless backed up by strong organization. That applies particularly in the industrial field, and it has always been found by the unions that the industrial tribunals set up by parliaments will grant no more than the applicants are strong enough to demand. The workers, not only in the mining industry, but iu all industries, are beginning to realize that only in effective organization does their salvation lie. The miners do not expect me to adopt a selfish attitude on this matter; they realize that they have comrades who are not in a position to win concessions from the employers by their own efforts through lack of organization. The Arbitration Court has provided safeguards for them, and I cannot be a. party to removing those safeguards. If they were removed, the workers would be thrown upon the tender mercies of six different' governments, which would be competing one against another in an endeavour to keep production costs at the lowest possible level. What has already happened in the coal-mining industry would happen in every industry throughout Australia, particularly if this bill is passed. The country's oversea coal trade, has suffered as the result of competition from cheap labour countries. To win back that trade, the miners would have to accept conditions equal to those of coolie labourers in other parts of the world. If the court were abolished the conditions prevailing in Australia in prefederation days would be restored. Even the wages boards, and other industrial tribunals operating in the States, have been won only as a result of agitation by organized labour, political and industrial. Giving evidence before the royal commission that was inquiring into the working of the first wages board the president of the Melbourne Shop-keepers Association, in Melbourne, callously said that no nation had ever been built up by the help of industrial legislation. He admitted that a great deal of sweating went on; but it was beneficial to the nation. " You cannot win a battle," he added, " without killing a lot of men." There has been much talk about ." basher gangs " ; but honorable members on the other side of the House have more in common with " basher gangs " than have the members of any working-class organization. Recently **Mr. J.** N. Grace, speaking on behalf of the council of the Retailers Association, said that he was very pleased that the Prime Minister had decided to abolish the Federal Arbitration Court, and he would like to see the other courts abolished, also. This was no time for increases of wages, or for a 44-hour week. In his judgment 48 hours a week were few enough. Moreover, he strongly objected to the shops closing at a quarter to six at night, and at twelve on Saturdays. Evidently he would like to see the shops opened for trade during church services, so that people might buy his wares during the interval when the collection was being taken up. Those who are supporting the Government in its determination to abolish the Arbitration Court would like to see a return to the open economic ring. Only last week, when I was in my constituency, I was told of the method adopted by one business man, of the " Johnnie-all-sorts type " to add to his income. Recognizing that coal is very scarce around Newcastle at the present time, he started to sell it. There are numerous falls in abandoned workings where coal may be obtained and this person employed little children, from eight years of age up to fourteen, to go down these falls, and carry out coal in their little arms under dangerous roofs, and through other dangers. It was placed in corn-sacks, for which he paid them 6d. a sack, and then sold this coal to the public at from 5s. to 7s. a sack. There we have exploitation of child labour going on even in my own constituency. This is the type of person who wants arbitration abolished so that he can have an " open go ". The coalowners want the wage-for-age scale abolished in the mines for boys, so that they can pay them by results or in other words, sweat child labour. It is absurd to say that it will be of any advantage economically to Australia to abolish the Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister said that the abolition of the court would effect a saving of some thousands of pounds a year. If it is necessary to save money, why does not the Government take its courage in its hands and ask the people for power to abolish the State governments, and to vest supreme power in this Parliament, as was promised when federation was agreed to. If this were done *it* would effect a saving, not of £10,000 only, but of millions of pounds, through the abolition of costly State parliaments, and all the paraphernalia of State departments. We have been told that it is necessary to economize; but no member of the Government has ever said that the time has arrived when capital should be placed in the witness-box and made to divulge its profits; when it should be made to tell what it is getting out of the great national industries which are as vital to the country's progress as water and air are to human beings. I have never heard any one suggest that, in order to help the country out of the financial morass in which it is struggling at present, those who invested money in war loans at 6 per cent., and who are still receiving that interest on their investments, should be asked to make some sacrifice. It is grotesquely unfair that the workers should be asked to accept reduced wages when those who have invested their capital at high rates of interest are not called upon to sacrifice a penny, either in dividends, rent or interest. It is not fair. Their only cry is that the wages of the workers must be reduced. There is no reference to those who, for business reasons, said they could not go to the war, or to those who refused to subscribe to the war loans until the rate of interest was raised to 6 per cent. If those investors had been half as patriotic as the men who enlisted, they would have lent their country their money free of interest. If it is right that returned soldiers employed in the mines in my constituency should be turned out of war service homes, together with their wives and children, because, owing to the lockout, they cannot pay their instalments, it is right also, that those who exploited the country should receive no more interest on the money they put into the war loans. Action along that line would assist in getting the country out of its present difficulties. The Prime Minister extols piece-work, as does also the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green).** The miners have always worked piecework; they have always been paid by results. Mention has been made of the strikes and lockouts in the coal industry. Piece-work means competition between workers; it breeds discontent, dissatisfac tion and turmoil. The troubles in the coal industry have been caused by the continual pin pricks to which the workers have been subjected by the owners and managers of the mines, who seem always to be trying to filch something from their employees. In a dangerous occupation such as coal-mining, piece-work causes many casualties. Men are forced into workings that are dangerous. If they refuse to work in such places, they have to go home, as in many instances no other jobs are found for them. The result is that many of them are taken from the mines, not to their homes, but to the cemeteries. The proportion of casualties to the number of workers employed is greater in the coalmining industry than in any other industry. Yet we hear the coal-miners described by the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green)** as "men who will not work." These men who have always endeavoured to do the best for the development and protection of the country want to work to-day, but they are not allowed to do so. From among the miners in my constituency and in Newcastle, two battalions of infantry and one mining battalion were sent from Australia to take part in the Great War. To-day, those of them who returned are having their pensions reduced and their homes taken from them. This is their reward. They have been taught a bitter lesson which which will not be forgotten by them or by their children. It is remarkable that the Government should desire to rush this measure through before the report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution is tabled. The employers in industry are asking for the removal of the Arbitration Court because it interferes with the conduct of their businesses. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- **Mr. Speaker!** I call attention to the state of the House. {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: -- I submit, **Mr. Speaker,** that members of the Opposition have no right to ask that the bells be rung to call a quorum when it is well known that a quorum exists within the precincts of the House. In the House of Commons it is considered sufficient that **Mr. Speaker** shall be satisfied that a quorum of members is within the build ing. That is also the established practice in several of the State Parliaments; I know it to be so in South Australia and Queensland. You, **Mr. Speaker,** are, of course, well acquainted with what *May* says regarding the duties and powers of the occupant of your office in relation to the formation of a quorum. In the House of Commons, when the Speaker was satisfied of the existence of a quorum in the building, he has declined to count the House. I point out, too, that although an Opposition member was addressing the House when attention was drawn to the lack of a quorum, only two members of the Labour party were in the chamber. The others are sleeping in various portions of the building, and Government supporters are expected to keep a House together. You will realize, **Mr. Speaker,** that it is difficult to retain a quorum in the chamber if members on one side only attend. I trust that in this matter you, sir, will be guided by the practice of the Mother of Parliaments, and set out in *May* at page 224; allowing the debate to continue without interruption so long as you are satisfied that a quorum exists within the precincts of the House. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- My reading of *May* is that **Mr. Speaker** must be satisfied that the number of members required to form a quorum is present in the House. Before you call upon the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** to continue his speech you .will, I assume, satisfy yourself that a quorum is actually present in this chamber. If honorable members are walking in the gardens, or are in other portions of the building, taking no interest in the business under discussion, and some one, considering that in courtesy to the member addressing the House they should attend to hear his remarks, calls attention to the state of the House, they, I take it, must be actually in the chamber to be counted as part of the quorum. It is, I realize, a question of the interpretation of the language used in *May,* which I take to mean that the Speaker must satisfy himself that a sufficient number of members is actually present in the chamber. The honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Bernard Corser)** complains that Opposition members have left the chamber, and suggests that they have done so purposely. I point out that honorable members on this side of the House have expressed the view that it is unreasonable and unnecessary to sit two nights in succession. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member is departing from the point of order. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- I am only following the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser),** who endeavoured to tell . you, **Mr. Speaker,** what you should do in this matter. I claim that I am in order in pointing out the circumstances of the case, for they are important. In the present circumstances it is the duty of the Government to maintain a quorum. The Government has called the tune, and it must dance to it. The Government has said that the sitting will be continued until the second reading has been disposed of, notwithstanding the fatigue occasioned by so long a sitting. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- This question has been raised on a number of occasions, as you, **Mr. Speaker,** are doubtless aware. When, in the past, attention has been called to the state of the House, Speakers have ruled that they would not allow an incessant calling together of members, and it has been the practice to allow a quarter of an hour to elapse after the calling of a quorum before the bells will be rung again. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- It is the duty of the honorable members, irrespective of party, to assist in maintaining a quorum for the conduct of public business, "and only those whom the Speaker can see actually within the bar of the House are counted by him. Regard cannot be had to those who may be within the precincts. This is shown by the following paragraph in the Constitution : - >Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers. I would also refer honorable members to Standing Orders 33 and 34. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** has said, it has been the practice that fifteen minutes should elapse between calls for a quorum; calling for a quorum at more frequent intervals appears to have been considered to be in the nature of an obstruction to _the business of the House. I have taken note of the calls made during this debate, and in every instance it appeared to me that at least fifteen minutes had elapsed between them. *[Quorum formed.]* {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- The employers have fostered the agitation for the abandonment of arbitration in the Commonwealth sphere, because it has interfered to some extent with their business. But they have not been the only agitators. The *Pastoral Review* - the squatter's journal of the 16th September, 1921, contained an article, in which the following sentence appeared : - >To institute successful immigration, we must first burn our Arbitration Acts and abolish tlie basic wage. ' , The Government arid its supporters hope, that by evacuating the field of industrial arbitration, they will be able to force the workers into subjection. They anticipate that competition between the States will bring about a reduction in wages. The bill has also been introduced because the Government has been made to look utterly stupid because of its refusal to enforce the law against the employers, notably, **Mr. John** Brown, the coal baron. As the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** pointed out, the people have given no mandate for the taking of this step. Otherwise, we should have heard something about it in the GovernorGeneral's speech. The Government has stolen a march on the people. It has been consorting too much of late with men of the John Brown type. Not only the Prime Minister, but also the State Premiers, have been bluffed by this gentleman. I predicted that in %March last. The result has been that the coalmines are still inactive, and 36,000 people have been reduced to a state of destitution. The National Government is in very truth in a sorry plight over it. The bill is part of a determined effort to smash the federated organizations of the workers. The employers hope that by this means they will be able to attack the trade unionists first of all in the weakest State. If they can secure a reduction of wages in one State, they will make similar efforts in other States. Thus they hope to force down the standard of living in Australia. The introduction of this bill is one of the most callous and cold-blooded acts that any Commonwealth Government has committed. We have been told repeatedly that the cost of production must be reduced. We are now able to see that the Government intends that the only sacrifice to be made to achieve this end shall come from the workers. There is no suggestion that interest rates should be reduced or that profits should he limited. The workers alone are to be called upon to bear the burden. The Government would not, of course, dream of demanding a sacrifice from its wealthy supporters. It hopes that by forcing the workers to speed up their activities, production costs will be reduced and profits increased. I worked in the coal-mines of Western Australia for five years on a daily wage, and work was carried on without cessation. We had only five days' stoppage in the whole period. I know that the contract system is now in vogue in those mines, but the Western Australian mine-owners do not seem to he as avaricious as those of the northern coal-fields. {: #subdebate-15-0-s44 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Bayley: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Seeing that at least fifteen minutes of my time was taken up in the discussion of a point of order, I should like an extension of time. {: #subdebate-15-0-s45 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- No allowance can be made for time occupied in the discussion of points of order. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- In view of the fact that I was responsible for the call for a quorum, which was decided on a point of order, and resulted in a debate which curtailed the time available to the honorable member for Hunter, would I be in order in asking for leave to move that he be granted an extension of time? {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Bayley: -- Yes. {: #subdebate-15-0-s46 .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- I ask leave to move accordingly. *(Leave refused.)* {: #subdebate-15-0-s47 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- I do not wish to cast a vote on the second reading of this momentous measure without briefly indicating my reasons for supporting it, and also expressing my gratification at its introduction. The honorable member for Barton **(Mr. Tully),** speaking during the small hours of this morning, quoted from the speeches of a number of honorable members on the subject of Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration. He endeavoured to show that, in supporting this bill, a number of those honorable gentleman were recanting views previously expressed by them. He quoted a sentence or two from some remarks that I made during the second-reading debate on the amending Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which was before us on the 23rd May, 1928. I should like, to read his quotation, ,and, in fairness to myself, continue it for another sentence or two. Throughout this debate, many of the quotations used, if begun a sentence or two earlier or continued a little further would have assumed a somewhat different complexion from that suggested. On that occasion, I followed the honorable member for "Wannon **(Mr Rodgers),** who said he believed that the central system of compulsory arbitration was an absolute failure. He also maintained that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court had not succeeded in bringing about industrial peace, and he apparently agreed with those who have stated that the court really tended to promote industrial unrest. After referring to the honorable member's remarks, I said - >However, there are to-day tens of thousands of workers in Australia who are satisfied with the existing system, and are abiding by the awards of the court. After all, only a few unions - important ones, undoubtedly - come into conflict with those awards. I certainly think - and I am sure the honorable member for Wannon will agree with me - that a system which for the last 24 .years has been working satisfactorily from the point of view of tens of thousands of workers must be continued, That is where the honorable member's quotation of my remarks ended; but I went on - >And that the main duty of those who believe in arbitration is to try to improve it wherever that can be done. I have no knowledge of the intentions of the Government, but I personally think that this should be regarded as the last attempt to place that system on a sound basis; and should it fail I do not think that any one would cavil at the Government if it endeavoured to find some other means of obtaining industrial peace in this country. I certainly think that the honorable member for Barton might have completed my statement. I remember the occasion well. The honorable member for Hume **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** who followed, took me to task for expressing the opinion that I did. Shortly after that, I wrote to the secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in Brisbane, and requested that I should be permitted to address the members of that body in regard to this particular legislation, with the intention of explaining to the best of my ability the object of the Government in bringing it down. They agreed to' my request, and I was shortly afterwards given the unusual pleasure and privilege of addressing them in the Brisbane Trades Hall, when a number of representatives of other unions were also present. I shall always retain the happiest recollections of that meeting. I have never been present at a better-conducted gathering. I reiterated the statement that I had made in this House, and not long afterwards I again submitted myself to the suffrages of the people of Brisbane, who did me the honour of returning me with a majority of 5,000 votes. I have no hesitation in supporting the bill before the house. Much has been said about the lack of a mandate for the introduction of this legislation. Once again, I would remind honorable members that the Prime Minister, on the 3rd July last year, stated in Perth that unless we got away from the spectacle of strikes proceeding concurrently with awards of the court, the whole system of arbitration would have to go. "When he delivered his policy speech in October, 1928, he made it plain that the Government was prepared to consider any alternative to our present industrial arbitration laws, which would enable the ends they were designed to secure to be more satisfactory achieved. During the debate upon the Transport Workers Bill in February this year, he repeated the warning, and, lastly, on the 17th May, with special reference to the strike that was proceeding in the timber industry, he issued a final and most definite warning. On other occasions, also, he indicated to the people the action the Government would consider it necessary to take, should the industrial conditions remain as they were. Surely that was definite enough. Honorable members who argue that the Government had no mandate for its action have not seriously attempted to support their contention. I have listened most carefully to the speeches delivered on this hill. I was struck by the remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Chifley).** From his point of view, it was a most able speech, and well delivered. It was free from exaggeration. But I cannot agree with many of the views he expressed, particularly in his contention that this legislation would in any way reduce the dignity of the Federal Parliament; in fact, I think it will raise it. Not long ago, certain honorable members opposite complained that, by bringing down the Financial Agreement Bill, the Government was doing all it possibly could to diminish the powers of the States. So it appears that, whatever action the Government takes, some honorable members on the Opposition side must oppose it. I was impressed by the speech delivered by the honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin).** But I could hot follow his arguments. I think that he is the only member who has spoken on this hill who definitely favours a dual control of industry. The honorable gentleman pointed out that the Commonwealth is a very large area ; that some men might be engaged in a certain industry, say, at Longreach, in "Western Queensland, while other men might be employed in the same industry at Normanton. It is quite possible, and probable, he said, that federal awards made in Melbourne or Sydney in that industry would not be suitable for those distant localities, and would not be acceptable. I quite agree with that; but it supports the legislation that the Government has brought down. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- He said that there were, other industries that required uniform legislation throughout the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- Yes ; and I think that reference was made to that fact by the Attorney-General in his speech in this chamber. At 'the present time the members of the "Western Australian Branch of the Timber Works Association have broken up the union and formed a new one, with the object of applying to the State court for an award. Whether it can do so or not is, I believe, a matter that has not yet been decided by the High Court. The Prime Minister, and also the Attorney-General, indicated very clearly to the House and the country the reasons why this measure was brought down. Honorable members on both sides have constantly referred to and quoted the late **Mr. Justice** Higgins' awards and writings. The Attorney-General, in his speech, said that the fundamental principle underlying the bill was found in the words of **Mr. Justice** Higgins, in his book *A New Province for Law and Order -* >If there is to be regulation, and there must be, it should como from one authority. I think that it. will be admitted, if a review is made of the history of Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration, that the Government led by the Prime Minister has made the greatest possible effort to insure its effective working. That is my opinion, and I am sure it is shared by the majority of the people of this country. Three years ago the Government, recognizing the chaotic conditions that have been brought about by overlapping arbitration awards, took a referendum of the people, and invited them to grant further powers to the Commonwealth ; but that request was refused. I shall not say more about that, because constant reference has been made to the referendum, and the reasons for its failure. Then there followed a comprehensive overhaul of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. . I maintain that everything possible was done to make amendments of the law that would be acceptable .to those engaged in industry. The Government consulted organizations of employers and employees, inviting their assistance and co-operation ; suggestions were asked for, and everyeffort made to make the whole scheme of compulsory arbitration more acceptable to those engaged in industry. Particular effort was made in the amending bill to ensure the observance of awards. But since it was passed, little more than twelve months ago, the waterside workers and the timber workers have struck against awards of the court. Both strikes were definite refusals to obey the industrial laws of the country. No government, whether Nationalist or Labour, could leave matters as they are at present and expect to retain the confidence and respect of the people. It appears also thatso further improvement of the existing laws is possible. The present state of affairs cannot continue, and there remains no alternative but to evacuate the field of industrial arbitration in favour of the States. That is the course which the Government is proposing. It is misleading to say that the Commonwealth's retirement from this field will leave the worker and the fair employer without protection. To say that is to cast a grave reflection on the parliaments of the States. After all, more workers are operating under' the awards and determinations of State authorities to-day than under the awards of the Commonwealth Court, and the Attorney-General has clearly indicated that there is no legal limit to the power of a State authority to deal with disputes, so far as they affect employers and employees within the boundaries of that State. The people have been assured by the Prime Minister that it is not the intention of the Government to allow industrial relationships to come again under what has been termed the law of the jungle. Such a step is not contemplated for a moment by the Government. All honorable members recognize that a return to conditions which would enable the unscrupulous employer to take an unfair advantage of his employees would be a retrograde and unthinkable step. The bill makes definite provision for all awards and agreements registered in the Commonwealth Court to remain in force for a period sufficient to enable those interested to transfer to the industrial jurisdiction of the States. It is unnecessary at this stage to say that the Government, and those who support it, stand definitely for an adequate basic wage, approved working conditions, and as high a standard of living as is economically possible. If the workers have a grievance against this legislation - and their representativesprofess that they have - they must place the blame upon those of their own leaders and members who for a considerable time have held the Commonwealth Court up to ridicule, and wilfully and deliberately undermined the principle of federal compulsory arbitration. Thereby they have done untold damage. Twenty-five years ago, the people were urged to accept a system of compulsory arbitration, and were led to believe that it would usher in an. unbroken era of industrial peace, based upon judge-made industrial law; that all decisions of the court would be obeyed, and that if breaches occurred penalties would be enforced. But to-day we have reached a state of almost hopeless industrial confusion, and industry is wellnigh paralysed by clashing awards. One of the most serious disabilities under which the Federal Court labours is its inability to enforce its jurisdiction. The majority of the people are sick of existing conditions, and tired of a law under which one factory alone is subject to 38 different awards and wages boards determinations. The campaign against the principle of compulsory arbitration has been proceeding since 1927, and it has been organized by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which claims to represent a large number of the unions. How many it does represent not even the Attorney-General has been able to ascertain. During this debate frequent reference has been made to the *PanPacific Worker,* which is issued by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and the Pacific Relations Committee, and claims to represent the views of a large number of unions throughout the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- No. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- The *Pan-Pacific Worker* is the official organ of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, and its astounding views on compulsory arbitration have done untold damage during the last couple of years. I understand that honorable members opposite repudiate that journal. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It does not speak for Labour at all. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- Then the claims of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which publishes the journal, that it represents a large number of unions must also be repudiated by honorable members opposite. They must take into account the harm done to the ordinary unionist by the poisonous matter that is published in this journal. lt is not denied by any honorable member supporting the Government that the Federal Court has rendered very great service, hut to-day the financial and economic position of the country is such that burdens must be removed from industry. Opponents of the bill have said that the object of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General is to reduce wages and lower the standard of living. I repudiate that absolutely. There are other burdens that can be removed from industry, and amongst the heaviest are the tremendous expenditure in connexion with arbitration, and the uncertainty arising out of dual control. These have done more than anything else to retard the further investment of capital in this country. There is plenty of money available for investment in industry if a feeling of certainty in regard to the future can be established. To overcome the existing evil of dual control three courses are open. The first is an appeal by referendum to the people for a grant of increased power to this Parliament. The suggestion has been made inside and outside this House that, notwithstanding previous refusals, the Government should have again appealed to the people. Possibly the real attitude of labour generally to the 1926 referendum proposals was expressed by a union secretary, who said that an extension of the Commonwealth power was desirable, but should only be supported by the workers when a Labour government was in power. That contention had a lot to do with the failure of that appeal. We must realize that the determination of the jurisdiction of the Federal Court will enable the States to set up whatever machinery is required by the various industries. Many of them will be able to devise their own machinery for the settlement of grievances and the fixation of wages and working conditions. The repeal of the federal legislation will also relieve organizations of employers and employees of the cost inseparable from the present system, will result in more expeditious settlements, and will enable matters which are at issue to be dealt with without necessitating the artificial creation of disputes. The fact that the existence of a dispute was a condition precedent to the functioning of the court has been one of the most prolific causes of trouble. Furthermore, industrial relationship will be entirely removed from the atmosphere of litigation, and employers and employees will be encouraged ' to come closer together for the settlement of their differences. That will be perhaps the greatest advantage that will accrue from this legislation. There is also absent now a sense of finality, and that must tend to uncertainty. It, to a greater extent than any other factor, is responsible for the condition in which industry finds itself to-day. A return which has been issued by the court shows that eight industrial organizations were involved in an expenditure of over *£26,000* in connexion with their representations to the court; while a financial statement of the Australian Railways Union shows that in six years the costs of that organization in connexion with arbitration proceedings exceeded £9,000. Over £6,500 was spent by employers in the building trade to obtain a determination as to whether the builders' labourers' case should have been adjudicated upon by a Federal or a State tribunal. With the exception of the honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin)** - who, I repeat made a very able speech - honorable members opposite are prepared to admit the defects of divided control. I cannot conceive how they can base their opposition to this measure upon a real desire to retain the Federal Court. Members of the Labour party have urged that there should be a further development of the Industrial Peace Act, which they opposed at every stage, and which labours under exactly the same constitutional difficulties as those that beset our Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Any system of industrial arbitration or regulation must be doomed unless it is supported by those who are engaged in industry. The whole of the industrial legislation that has been introduced by this Government has been misrepresented repeatedly, and that misrepresentation has gone a long way towards preventing it from operating successfully. Those who .have been responsible for such misrepresentation cannot escape the charge of making use of the industrial weapon to secure political control. I support the bill without hesitation, because I honestly believe that it will do much to improve our industrial relations. I am quite convinced that it will not in any way act detrimentally to the workers of this country. If I thought for one moment that it would do so, I should not support it. I feel quite confident that it will bring about a better position in industry than that which exists to-day. If it does that, we shall have gone a long way towards improving the conditions of the people of this country. {: #subdebate-15-0-s48 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong -- I feel sure that every honorable member listened with pleasure to the contribution to the debate that has just been made by the honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. D. Cameron).** Naturally, however, I cannot agree with many of his contentions. For example, he complained that there is a lack of investment of capital in Australia owing to industrial unrest. That is not borne out by the latest figures that have been issued by the Government Statistician, which show that the total production of all industries in Australia last year was valued at £450,000,000, an increase on the previous year of £35,000,000. Those figures refer to primary as well as secondary industries, and although one is not prepared to admit that conditions are as good as we should like them to be, they are, nevertheless, not so bad as they might be. The honorable member also said, that certain union secretaries had opposed the referendums submitted to the people by this Government, because they were put forward by an anti-Labour Government. I shall not say whether that was or was not their reason. I do know, however, that when the Fisher Government in 1911 and 1913, submitted to the people proposals for an amendment of the Constitution, in the direction of enlarging the powers of the Commonwealth in relation to industrial matters, the attitude which he has accused these union secretaries of having taken up, was adopted by **Sir William** Irvine, the predecessor of the present Prime Minister in the Flinders seat. Speaking in the Commonwealth Parliament he said - >Certainly our Constitution should be amended. We should have larger industrial powers. We should have larger powers over trade and commerce. We should have larger powers over corporations. But because there is a Labour Government in office at the present time, and they are submitting these referendums, I feel disposed to oppose them. There are many unions whose members would not be able to obtain a proper recognition of their claims were it not for the existence of the Federal Court. The flour milling industry is established in every wheat-growing State, and there is a considerable export of flour from Australia. I have received the following communication from the Federated Millers and Mill Employees Association - >In the flour milling industry to-day (July. 1.920), we have men - not one or two, but several of them - who not so many years ago worked twelve hours a day for six days a week, alternating weekly day and night shift. One week from 6 a.m. to (i p.m. daily and the other from G p.m. to G a.m. daily. Fancy men being required to work all night in this trade, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day, for 72 hours a week. That time was bank to bank. The time occupied in going to, preparing for, and coming from their work, would come out of their own time - the other twelve hours of each day. > >These conditions have only been ameliorated principally by class organization and action, and directly by country and city branches amalgamating as a State, and States federating as one organization, and improving members' conditions through the channels of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. > >State branches have been told by arbitrators and judges of State industrial tribunals that claims, although proved, could not be granted on account of interstate competition - the employers' main argument. It is not a very healthy industry at the best of times; but working for twelve hours during the night must have a deleterious effect upon the health of those who engage in it. That was the state of affairs which existed until the men organized on a federal basis and obtained an award from the Federal Court. I have also received a communication from the union to which I have belonged for very many years, the printing industry union. I have placed in the possession of the Prime Minister, a petition signed by over 4,000 employees in that industry in Victoria, and I believe that similar petitions have been forwarded from New South Wales and other States, appealing to the Government not to proceed with this legislation. This union has almost 34,000 members throughout the Commonwealth, and so far as production is concerned, it stands fourth on the list of industries in Australia. *[Quorum* *formed.]* Its total return amounts to just on £12,000,000 per annum. I could cite instance after instance of members of unions having endeavoured to obtain recognition under State jurisdiction. The communication reads - {: .page-start } page 754 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### INTERSTATE COMPETITION During the hearing of applications for State awards by State unions within the printing industry, employers invariably gave evidence before the State tribunal to show that interstate competition existed, and that if the conditions of the States were not approximated, one set of employers would have an advantage against another. In certain States, legislation within the field of industry which was beyond the jurisdiction of State industrial tribunals resulted in giving one State an advantage over another, and this was always the subject of complaint by representative employers. When the Federal Court heard and adjudicated upon the printing industry claim, it was recognized by both employers' and employees' organizations that uniform conditions would obtain for the first time in the history of the industry. Nearly all the industries in Australia have first tried to obtain State awards, but ultimately have been driven to the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. The State arbitration legislation is not uniform, and because of that, an industry in one State is sometimes given an advantage over a similar industry in another State. The late **Mr. Justice** Higgins said that nothing caused more irritation in industry than varying conditions of labour and employment in the different States. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that there is less irritation, and more satisfaction, and harmony existing under Federal awards than under State awards. The time is long over-due for the granting of wider powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, and the establishment in the States of what might be termed provincial parliaments. That, I believe, is the -consensus of opinion throughout Australia. I had a very striking illustration of that on Saturday evening last at a large public gathering in my constituency. This subject was mentioned by the proposer of the toast of the Federal Parliament, and he complained bitterly that we have in Australia too many parliaments, which were costing the taxpayers enormous sums of money. I am also of that opinion. It is time that we gave this National Parliament the powers that we thought it would have, when federation first took place. Those who took some part in persuading the people of Australia to adopt the Constitution Bill did not, for one moment, believe that the State Parliaments would continue to function for any considerable period in their present form. I, myself, would have* opposed federation had I not thought that the Federal Parliament would be the supreme Parliament of Australia. The great leaders of that day were favorable to an extension of the powers of the Federal Parliament; but the present proposal of the Government to transfer the Commonwealth powers of arbitration to the States is belittling this Parliament and the Federation of which we all should be stout defenders. The speeches on both sides of the House have been couched in somewhat bitter language, but the lead was given from the Government benches. When the Prime Minister was introducing the bill, he made use of personalities which might very well have been left unsaid. The AttorneyGeneral attacked trade unionists, and others who are really excellent citizens. Although the Prime Minister indulged in strong language, he made one plea to which I have no objection. He said - >I appeal to honorable members to approach the consideration of the bill in no party spirit, but with a sincere desire to do the best for the nation. Had that spirit animated honorable members during the debate, there would have been a better atmosphere in this chamber. As so much criticism has beer indulged in, it will not be amiss if I follow the example of other honorable members. For some considerable time the Federal Government has been seeking to alter the industrial system of Australia. The Industrial Mission that was sent to the United States of America was composed of representatives of both industrial parties. At the time I thought that the mission was justified as an indication that we were reaching out to the other countries to try to obtain some knowledge of their methods. Not satisfied with that, however, the Government invited the " Big Four " here, and they made certain recommendations. Then this Parliament passed the Crimes Act and the Transport Workers Act, and amended the Arbitration Act. All these things have been done with a view to drastically alter the industrial conditions of Australia. **Mr. Hugh** Grant Adam, associate editor of the Melbourne *Herald,* accompanied the Industrial Mission to the United States of America ; but he did not keep close to the arranged itinerary. He stepped into the by-paths of American industry, and saw how industries were conducted, and how workmen were treated. He kept apart altogether from the plan mapped out by those who were conducting the delegation through the various industries of the -United States of America. He said that the Australian delegation was about the fifth delegation that had paid a visit to the United States of America to investigate its methods of conducting industry, that every one of the delegations .saw the same institutions and industries, and travelled the same route. They were taken to the show places, and, consequently, did not get a true indication of American industrial methods. Let me quote a few paragraphs from **Mr. Hugh** Grant Adam's book, *An Australian Looks at America,* since it contains some valuable information that might be of interest to honorable members. He said - >The argument I heard was, " Co-operation between labour and capital makes a country industrially prosperous. America is industrially prosperous. Therefore America has co-operation between labour and capital." America is enjoying many of the conditions that might be expected to result from the enthusiastic co-operation of labour in the business of profit-making. Labour works hard, at great speed, and for long hours. It does so because the pace is set by the employers, and it has no alternative but to keep up that pace or get out. That is the extent to which labour co-operates with capital in America. This co-operation has been brought about by the weak position of the individual worker, in the absence of labour organization. The demand for skill has been reduced to a minimum, and there is the constant menace of a surplus of unskilled workers, drawn mostly from low-standard countries, to whom the wages paid in America represent great wealth. This situation, like many others in American industry, is bound to be profoundly effected when the results of restricted immigration make themselves felt upon the quality and quantity of the labour supply. In another place he says - >I do not believe that America has reached any more intelligent, any more democratic, partnership between labour and capital than > >Australia has, despite all our records of industrial disputes. If labour in America must attain at least the recognition that it already receives in Australia before there can be such a partnership, America will be very lucky indeed if its revolution is a peaceful one. Again he said - >One conclusion that I formed early,- and in which I remain unshaken, is that I would not like to see the Australian worker in the position of the American worker. If I had to believe that it was necessary for the Australian worker to accept the conditions that exist in America before Australia could become a prosperous industrial nation, I would have very grave doubts of the wisdom of pursuing prosperity. I have heard the honorable member for Forrest **(Mr. Prowse)** say in this House that, if we followed American principles more, indulged in piece-work, and adopted their methods, Australia would be in a much better position than it is at present. I have heard the ex-member for Wakefield, when dealing with this very subject, telling us how necessary it is for us to adopt the methods of America. **Mr. Hugh** Grant Adam has seen the industries of America, and from what I can gather from his book and other publications, I do not think that it would be desirable for Australia to adopt the American methods of conducting industry. The greatest asset of any country is its human beings, and anything that will tend to make our people happier and to improve their conditions of living should have the support of every honorable member, no matter what his political colour may be. In America elderly persons are seldom seen in factories or workshops. The managers of such institutions, when asked the reason for that, will point to the grave-yards, and say, " They have gone there - men of 40 and 45 years - they are old men." We do not want such conditions to exist in Australia. The representatives of different political parties in this chamber have, at times, perhaps inadvertently, been responsible for utterances which may have had a damaging effect upon the country; but I resent the remarks of honorable members, opposite, who repeatedly say that Australia is a land of strikes. The two most progressive countries industrially are the Commonwealth and New Zealand, in each of which a compulsory arbitration system is in operation and they have fewer strikes than any other country. A conference was held in New Zealand last year consisting of employers, employees, university professors, students of economics and others, which considered five subjects, on four of which the conference reached a unanimous decision. The conference discussed at length the arbitration system of New Zealand, which has been in operation since 1894, but did not come to any definite conclusions. Professor Fisher, a member of the conference, in dealing with the prevention of sweating, and the prevention of strikes, said - >This, one of tlie original objects of the court, has apparently been attained. Sweating is unlikely to be a serious evil in a rapidly developing country, but unless proper control is exercised on principles analogous to those which justify the Factories Act, it is always likely to crop up in isolated sections of industry. The Arbitration Court properly exercise a useful influence in checking any such tendency, but if it were decided to abolish the court it would not be difficult to devise other machinery for the same purpose. > > *Prevention of Strikes.* - Here the court is alleged to have failed. New Zealand is no longer a country without strikes. It seems, however, unreasonable to condemn the court because it does not succeed in preventing every possible breach of the law. Even the most efficient courts seldom do that, but we do not propose on that account to abolish them. It is very common to exaggerate grossly the losses inflicted by strikes, and it is quite a mistake to suppose that New Zealand is a country peculiarly afflicted by them. In Great Britain, Germany, and the United States of America, strikes' are much more numerous and much more violent than they are here. Statistics of wages lost arc not a satisfactory measure of the damage to the workers concerned, if, as often is the case, the work, which otherwise would have been done during the strike periods, is merely postponed and not entirely lost. What is true of New Zealand is true of Australia. According to a memorandum submitted by the Premier, another conference was to be held, which, I believe, concluded its deliberations a week ago. **Mr. Justice** Fraser, who for nine years has been president of the New Zealand Arbitration Court, and who is assisted in the work of the court by a representative of tlie employers and employees, recently reached Melbourne. In an interview with **Mr. Justice** Fraser, the Melbourne *Herald* reports ; The methods by which industrial peace are preserved in the Dominion were explained today by **Mr. Justice** Fraser, New Zealand's only arbitration judge, who is visiting Melbourne. " As a system," he said', " arbitration was introduced" in 1894. There have been very few changes in it since. Following a series of complaints about its operation - some urge the abolition of the court- the Government summoned an industrial conference last year to thresh the matter out. There were 25 delegates from each side of industry, and, after a talk they approved of the system." "The court," said Judge Fraser, "consists of one judge, with Supreme Court status and two nominated members, representing the employers and the employees. They hold office, for three years. It has jurisdiction over the whole dominion. I cannot agree with the view expressed by the honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. Cameron),** who said that the Government had made every effort to secure peace in industry, Although the Prime Minister has made belated attempts to bring the parties together, there have been numerous occasions on which he has declined to intervene. When the Federal Parliament was sitting in Melbourne, the then Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton)** unsuccessfully appealed to the Prime Minister to assist in solving a difficulty with which the country was confronted. The late **Mr. Deakin,** when Prime Minister, and also the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes),** when holding that office, also acted as mediator between contending parties to an industrial dispute. A gentleman occupying the important position of Prime Minister should use his personal influence in an endeavour to assist in preventing industrial chaos, but this the right honorable gentleman has declined to do. The honorable member for Brisbane also quoted an article contributed to *The Pan Pacific Worker* by **Senator Rae** - probably before he was elected to this Parliament - antagonistic to the principle of arbitration, and suggested that that gentleman was expressing the views of the members of the Labour party. The members of the Labour party are pledged to compulsory arbitration, which is a plank in the party's platform. The honorable member also ' accused honorable members on this side of the chamber of opposing the Financial Agreement Bill. I have stated on numerous occasions that I am in favour of the powers of the Commonwealth being extended, but I was opposed to the *per capita* payments to the States being withdrawn before the Constitution had been amended. If the statement to which the honorable member for Brisbane has referred had been made by an accredited official of the party he would be justified in quoting it; but it is unreasonable to select an expression of the opinion of one individual and to say that it conveys the views of every member of the party of which that person is a member. In connexion with the attitude of the Attorney-General **(Mr. Latham),** a representative of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions states - > **Mr. Latham** is challenged to deny that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions approached him, on behalf of the trade union movement, with a request that he should amend the existing Federal Conciliation Arbitration Act, with a view to the appointment of conciliation committees and commissioners. Provision was made in the amending act of last year for the appointment of these committees and commissioners, but so far only one conciliation commissioner has been appointed throughout Australia. That is the Ministry's contribution to the work of conciliation. {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- Notwithstanding the claims of the Government, only one conciliation commissioner has been appointed. The feeling is fairly general throughout the community that the Government's appointments to the Federal Arbitration Court have been, to put it mildly, unfortunate. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That simply illustrates the biased mind of the honorable member. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- It does not. I can mention a number of honorable members opposite who hold similar views. *[Quorum formed."]* I know that the legal fraternity in Selborne Chambers and elsewhere were astounded when this bombshell fell and the Government made its appointments. The Bruce-Page Ministry has never lent its ' aid to the promotion of har mony between the partners in industry. When the Australian seamen's dispute occurred in 1925 representatives of the trade union movement interviewed the Prime Minister with a request that he should intervene. **Mr. Bruce** referred the delegation to the Commonwealth Shipping Board, in whose hands, he declared, the matter rested so far as it concerned the Commonwealth Line. Finally, **Mr. Lang,** then Premier of New South Wales, arranged an interview with **Sir William** Clarkson, of the Commonwealth Shipping Board. **Sir William** acted on his own initiative and the Commonwealth Line, notwithstanding the fact that the Government had refused to intervene, made a satisfactory agreement with the Australian Seamen's Union. Despite the opposition of the Government, representatives of the trade union movement were thus able to bring about peace in industry in that particular case. I shall not enter into a general discussion upon the waterside workers' dispute of 1927, but I may mention that the Attorney-General, who acted on behalf of the Ministry in the matter, absolutely refused to lend any assistance. When interviewed by **Mr. Crofts,** the secretary of the Australasian Council df Trade Unions, and urged to bring the parties together, **Mr. Latham** said " The waterside workers are not going to get away with all that they think they can." If that was the attitude of the AttorneyGeneral in that case, one must conclude that he is another of those who threw a spanner into our industrial machinery. The occasion was an important one, and the possible consequences so serious that the Attorney-General should have mediated in the matter. And when the Australasian Council of Trade Unions was on the eve of settling the waterside workers' dispute in 1928, the Government introduced its reactionary and obnoxious Transport Workers Act, so aggravating the trouble. During his second-reading speech on this bill the Attorney-General, becoming irritated by interjections, intimated that the. timber workers had been humiliated and defeated. He gloried in their defeat, and demonstrated his undoubted bias. The facts indicate clearly that the timber workers of Victoria were fully justified in fighting for a principle. The terms of the settlement set aside Judge Lukin's award so far as wages and working conditions are concerned. They also set aside the decision of the full arbitration court on the matter of hours. It was agreed by the employers that the industry should be investigated by a fully qualified accountant of at least ten years standing. The terms of that settlement were effected by the present chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, **Sir Robert** Gibson, who presided over the conference and conducted it in such a gentlemanly fashion that results were achieved that are a credit to all concerned. They further provided that the accountant was to inquire into the ability of the industry to work under a 44-hour week. Until the inquiry was completed the employers, were to put into a trust fund wages equivalent to the difference between a 44 and 48-hour week. This sum will go to the workers if the decision is finally in their favour. The timberworkers came out of that trouble very well. The results achieved show conclusively that if any prominent public man, whatever may be his political views, makes an endeavour to bring about a peaceful solution of industrial difficulties, the probability is that his efforts will be successful. But the Prime Minister refused to render assistance. It is generally known that the Government found the money for the expenses of the Commonwealth Industrial Conference, which is generally known as the Industrial Peace Conference. That conference unanimously carried a resolution intimating to the Bruce-Page Government that the penal sections of our industrial legislation were not conducive to peace and harmony in industry The Government has used those sections to harass and humiliate the workers. Yet John Brown, the coal baron, has been allowed to go scot free. And he is still flouting the laws of the Commonwealth. The Government, taking refuge in its coward's castle, is too weak-kneed to bring John Brown and the other offending coal barons to heel. The Prime Minister intimated that the Government would see that' the law was obeyed. Why has it failed in this instance? We know that the withdrawal of the John Brown prosecution and the abandonment of federal arbitration have caused differences in the Ministry, and very serious differences between two prominent honorable gentlemen opposite. The Attorney-General told the Prime Minister that if the Government withdrew the John Brown prosecution it would have to abandon the field of federal arbitration altogether. Although the Prime Minister intimated that he desired some proposals to be submitted to him, he did not give any indication that he had in his mind the abandonment of federal conciliation and arbitration. His apparent desire was that the existing Arbitration Act should be made more effective. His announcement to the Premiers' Conference in May last, therefore, came as a shock to representatives of both the employers and employees on the Industrial Peace Conference. That conference needed a little more Commonwealth money to complete its labours. That was denied. Now this bill comes as a bolt from the blue. The facts show conclusively that the Government has not behaved in a manner conducive to peace in industry. It is held suspect in regard to industrial matters, and I do not blame any individual or union for being bitterly antagonised by its action. The withdrawal of the prosecution against John Brown dissipated the trade unionists' last shred of confidence in the sincerity and good intentions of this Government. When I think of such men as the late **Mr. Justice** Higgins, **Mr. Alfred** Deakin and **Sir Edmund** Barton, and compare them with those who are supporting the Government in the action in which it is now proposing to take, it makes me wonder whether there is any one on that side of the House who has remained true to the great principles of federation. **Mr. Justice** Higgins took a prominent part in the conventions which assisted in drawing up our Commonwealth Constitution, and he was one of the earliest members of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Constitution which he helped to draw up was not perfect ; it was permeated too much by the spirit of State rights, and not enough by that of National rights. Yet, very early in the life of the Federal Parliament, **Mr. Justice** Higgins, then **Mr. Higgins,** indicated his readiness to do what he could to obtain for this Parliament a larger measure of control over industrial affairs. Speaking on 28th June, 1901, he said - We feel that these problems, especially the problems of the tariff, are so inextricably intertwined with legislative attempts to regu-. late wages, hours and conditions of labour that we cannot properly fulfil our functions in the one respect without having power to deal with the other. With free trade between the States, it will not work to let one State have one set of laws regulating wages, hours and conditions of labour, and to allow another State to have another set of laws dealing with these subjects within its boundaries. **Sir Edmund** Barton, Australia's first Prime Minister, in supporting **Mr. Justice** Higgins, said - >The grant of interstate free trade, which follows the adoption of a uniform tariff, is likely in many respects to be crippled unless the Commonwealth has power to deal uniformly with the conditions of employment throughout Australia. The conditions of employment and the price of articles are inseparably interwoven, and these conditions and prices are also inseparable from the nature' of the tariff, whether it operates externally only, or externally and internally among the States. A memorandum presented to Parliament on December 13th, 1907, by the then Prime Minister, **Mr. Alfred** Deakin, contained the following statement: - >To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of duties, while conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles is carried on differ so widely in the different States, would be to permit discrimination and discord. . . . Effective and useful as State industrial laws have in many cases proved, their operation is circumscribed by State boundaries, and it can hardly be claimed for them they they either do, or can secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this. In a further memorandum presented on October 28th, 1908, **Mr. Deakin** said- >As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of protection must remain incomplete. I do not think that any honorable member here, whether free-trader or protectionist, will repudiate the sentiments uttered by those three gentlemen. This Parliament imposes tariffs to encourage manufactures and provide employment for workers. Having done so, we should be recreant to our trust if we did not keep to ourselves the power to regulate the conditions of employment of those engaged in such industries. I know something of the hopes which lay nearest **Mr. Alfred** Deakin's heart, having been associated with him in a number of undertakings. When a minister issues a memorandum it represents the result of careful study, and is intended for the guidance, not only of those of his own time, but of those who come after him. If Parliament passes this bill, it will depart from the great principles, of federation laid down by the eminent jurists and parliamentarians who set us such a splendid example in the past. What will become of the employees in State instrumentalities? Recently **Sir William** MacPherson, the Premier of Victoria, informed a deputation representing the Government employees, that the most he would do for them was to provide some kind of a board to deal with their working conditions. He was averse, he said, to allowing any arbitration tribunal to lay down wages and conditions for State employees. I contend that employees of State instrumentalities should have the same right as other citizens to enter any court in the land. We all know the treatment meted out to the Victorian railway employees by the Government of which **Sir William** Irvine was head. I said at that time that a future parliament would reverse what he had. done, and results proved me to be right. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Anstey),** that if we, on this side of the House, considered only our own political interests, we could not do better than to allow this bill to be passed, because it would arouse such indignation throughout the country that the defeat of the Government would be inevitable. We cannot, however, refrain from asking Parliament not to pass a measure which would inflict a great injustice upon a large section of the community. The great body of unionists are abiding loyally by the awards of the Arbitration Court, but because a few of them have not done so, the Government proposes to wipe out federal arbitration altogether. It would be just as logical to say that, because a few persons do not respect the civil and criminal laws of the country, those laws should be repealed. I stand firmly for the principle of federal control of industry, for increased powers for the Federal Parliament, and for the widening of our powers to deal with industrial matters. Our arbitration legislation, far from being abolished, should be amended so as to remedy its defects, and increase its usefulness. I oppose this bill, and I hope that either during the second-reading stage or subsequently we shall be able to prevent the passage of a measure which I am certain would he detrimental to the best interests of the community as a whole. *Silling suspended from 11.55 to 12.80 a.m. (Saturday).* Saturday, 7 September 1929 {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Forrest -- I listened for many hours to the speeches delivered on this important subject, and, unquestionably, some of them were of very high merit. Perhaps the most meandering, as well as the least constructive speech, was that delivered by the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes).** I was greatly surprised that a gentleman of his experience did not have some assistance to offer the House with which he professed to be in sympathy. Almost every sentence of his speech revealed his vindictive jealousy of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce). Mr. Hughes** remarked that, at the recent Premiers' Conference, the Prime Minister referred to the high cost of living in Australia; he continued, " The Prime Minister has been in power for six years, and only now has he found that out." That remark took my mind back to a time a few months after the right honorable member for North Sydney had run his course in the public esteem, and was replaced by the present Prime Minister. It may be well to recall that **Mr. Hughes** was the gentleman who advised the GovernorGeneral, the King's representative in this country, to send for **Mr. Bruce.** I cannot forget the occasions when, in this chamber, the ex-Prime Minister has revealed the jealous spirit within him. Honorable members who were in the House in 1923 will remember the introduction by the Bruce-Page Government of a bill to amend the Old-age Pensions Act, by which the weekly payment to pensioners was increased from 15s. to 17s. 6d. per week. Certain anomalies in the then existing act were also to be removed, making the weekly pension equivalent to £1. The then Leader of the Opposition, **Mr. Charlton,** moved that, instead of 17s. 6d. a week, the pension should be £1 a week. That amendment was supported by the right honorable member for North Sydney, notwithstanding that it was a motion of want of confidenec in the Government. Had any other honorable member on this side of the House delivered a similar speech and voted as he did, I should not have taken any notice of it, and should probably have forgotten it long before this, but I could not forget that **Mr. Hughes** had been in- office for six years, during which time he could have made the pension £2 a week had he so desired. Yet he was prepared to put out of office a government which did not do something which he himself had failed to do when he had the opportunity. A little later certain ordinances relating to land policy in the Northern Territory were under consideration in the House. Again the Leader of the Opposition objected, and urged that that land should be controlled by an act of Parliament. The Opposition made out a very strong case. The ex-Prime Minister, still full of jealousy, agreed with the Opposition, nowithstanding that the ordinances to which he objected were drafted by a member of his own Cabinet, and that, during his regime, similar matters were governed by ordinances, and none by act of Parliament. Remembering those occasions, and the jealousy of the right honorable member for North Sydney, I was not impressed by his speech on this bill. It contained nothing constructive. I heartily support the bill, on the ground that the Prime Minister submitted it to the State Premiers at a recent Premiers' Conference. It is designed to effect economy. The vexed question of the cost of living does arise ; it is, indeed, a potent factor in this connexion. Yet the right honorable member for North Sydney sneered when it was mentioned, and wanted to know what the cost of living had to do with the bill. He inquired whether the bill would insure to the primary producers a greater return for their wheat, their butter, or their cheese. I regret that the right honorable gentleman is not in the chamber to hear my remarks. He must know of the vicious circle, which has resulted in the higher cost of living in Australia. It is not so much a matter of what the primary producers receive for their produce as what they have to pay for everything they buy. The rising costs of production are putting Australia into an insular position. Much of the existing unemployment has its cause there. I compliment the Government on having asked the British Government to send to this country those four economists who recently visited Australia, and in an impartial manner examined our economic situation. Their report dealt, among other things, with the queston now before the House. On page 13 of the report the " Big Four " said - >But all measures designed for the increase of Australia's wealth production and power of absorbing new population tend to be defeated if there are strong forces within her which operate so to raise her costs of production that she cannot sell her products in the markets of the world, and is restricted within the limitations of her own home market." Here we approach the most vexed, and the most important of all Australian questions, that of the combined effects of the protective Customs Tariff and of the legislative enactments, both of the Commonwealth and of the States, for the fixing of wages and conditions of labour, which wo will call, for brevity, the arbitration acts. The British Economic Commission regarded that matter as fundamental. Again, on page 20 of its report, the commission stated - >Most vexed and most important of all Australian questions is that of the cost of production with its effect upon export industries and of the combined effects of the Tariff and the arbitration acts. > >There is ground for the common complaint of a vicious circle of increased prices due to the tariff, and of increased costs of labour due to arbitration awards, and it is urgently necessary to break the vicious circle without lowering the standard of living, i.e., real wages. I remind honorable members opposite that the Labour Premier of Western Australia regards this question in the same light as does the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** should heed the remarks of **Mr. Collier.** {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- I am not prepared to follow him in everything, merely because he is a Labour Premier. I regard him as a champion of State rights. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- In the *West Australian* of 2nd August, under the heading, " Cost of Production, Need for Decrease, **Mr. Collier's** Views," the following statement is attributed to **Mr. Collier,** in his speech on the Address-in-Reply in the Legislative Assembly - >The position in Australia to-day was serious, **Mr. Collier** said. The Commonwealth was literally living on its primary industries - wheat and wool. The consternation caused about a month ago when a fall in wheat occurred indicated the results that would follow any serious fall iu the price of those two commodities. With the competition of artificial wool, a further reduction in the price of - the real material threatened next year. The Adelaide wool sales, the other day, showed a drop of between 25 per cent, and 30 per cent., compared with the sales of the previous year. **Mr. Collier** continued - >There was no doubt that any falling-off in the volume of production of wool or wheat, quite apart from any fall in price,' would create a serious situation for the people of Australia. The cost of production in Australia was too high. Australia had to compete in the world's markets. The producer of wool and wheat had no say in fixing the price of the commodity he produced. It was determined by external influences over which he had no control. If Australians were to compete with other countries they would have seriously to consider the question of lowering the cost of production. The right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** would have us believe that the Prime Minister's, object is to reduce wages. That was one of the things he stressed in his speech. **Mr. Collier** evades the issue; but says we would have seriously to consider the question of lowering the cost of production. How was it to be done? The British Economic Commission got down to fundamentals, as did also the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers)** in his speech, on which I compliment him. What does it matter if the money the worker gets is less, so long as its purchasing power is greater? Lowering the cost of production will mean less unemployment, and a better chance to sell our produce in the markets of the world. Our attempt to establish all kinds of industries in Australia, by artificial means irrespective of whether they are economic and necessary to our well-being or not, has placed an intolerable load upon our primary industries. "We speak that we do know." The report of **Mr. Collier's** speech continued as follows : - >When the fall in wheat prices took place, many people believed that it would be unwise for the growers to cultivate or crop as much land this year, and, in some quarters, it was suggested that there should be a decrease. But that would be a very retrograde step. The State would never surmount its difficulties by decreasing the area under wheat merely because the price fell, but it should endeavour to enable the farmer to compete in the overseas markets by reducing the cost of production. An increase in the area under crop and a reduction in the cost of production would make tlie position to-day, with a lower price, what it was. two years ago, with a higher price. > > **Sir James** Mitchell. ; Wheat will not fetch a lower price this year. > > **Mr. Collier.** ; No. But it was threatened. It was difficult to see what was the cause of the high cost of production. Sir James Mitchell. ; Taxation **Mr. Collier.** ; That was a contributory cause. The high tariff was the chief cause. The tariff piled up year by year, and the primary producer, unlike' the manufacturer, was unable to pass it on. Honorable members opposite are doing everything in their power to increase the tariff, and this is making conditions extremely difficult. I congratulate the Government upon the open-minded attitude it has taken upon this subject. It is at least trying to educate the people of Australia along economic lines. The report from which I have already quoted continues - >He hoped that the Federal Parliament would not continue to pile burdens on to the primary producers through the customs. > >Another contributory factor to the high cost of production was that many people engaged in manufacturing had not kept abreast of the world's progress with regard to uptodate machinery. In the old world all pre-war methods of production had been scrapped in favour of more economical methods. This waB a question that Australia would have seriously to consider. He agreed with the contention of tlie Leader of the Opposition that high taxation diminished the amount of employment, decreased production, and affected the whole community. > >So far as Western Australia was concerned, however, the prospects were very bright, and indicated that the State would enjoy one of the best seasons it had experienced for many years. It is apparent, therefore, that the Labour Premier of Western Australia recognizes that a serious situation confronts Australia. He must thoroughly agree with the Prime Minister that some action is necessary to overcome our difficulties. In addressing the recent Premiers' Conference on this subject the Prime Minister said - >A critical examination of our present position leads inevitably to the conclusion that the basic cause of all economic troubles of Australia to-day is the high cost of production, and that a reduction of our costs of production is the first step that we must take to bring about a solution of our problems. A nation-wide reduction in our costs of production would effect such a transformation in our industrial and financial position as would enable us not only to absorb our unemployed in useful occupations, but also to pave the way for a progressive increase in our population. Having laid further emphasis on this aspect of the subject the Prime Minister referred to the overlapping of Commonwealth and State arbitration awards. He said that this would have to be prevented if we were to advance to a better economic position. He proceeded as follows: - >However, I now invite the Premiers to state definitely whether they are prepared to recommend to their Parliaments the reference of full industrial powers to the Commonwealth. In the- absence of such concerted action on the part of the States the Commonwealth Government feels that it will be its' duty - because of its deep conviction that the present dual system of industrial regulation is retarding our national progress and preventing industrial peace - to propose to the Commonwealth Parliament the repeal of the existing Federal Arbitration legislation subject to transitional provisions, which will preserve existing awards and agreements . for a period, sufficient to enable the States to assume complete control. The Premiers' Conference quite definitely refused to agree to the surrender of additional industrial powers to the Commonwealth, and I do not blame it for doing so. The States ought to have complete authority over their own industrial affairs. A good deal has been said during this debate about the necessity for uniformity in industrial matters ; but it must be remembered that the standard of living in the less developed States is necessarily not so high as the standard in the well developed States. Each State must work out its own salvation. A court operating within a State is far more likely to give satisfactory awards than a court operating in some far distant place. The honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin)** made out a case for the bill when he said that' there was a great difference between such towns as Northam, in Western Australia, and Longreach in Queensland. For this very reason local courts should have authority to prescribe local conditions. To provide for this is not to abolish arbitration. It is simply to make it more effective. {: #subdebate-16-0-s2 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- When I spoke to my constituents during the last election campaign, I put before them in unmistakable terms the great disadvantages to industry of overlapping awards. I said that it was costly and unnecessary to have two industrial machines running side by side. The population of Australia is not large enough to bear the burden of so much legal machinery. If we had one industrial authority in each State we should secure a more satisfactory result and inr dustry would be able to develop along peaceful lines. It seems absurd to me that honorable members opposite should desire to duplicate our industrial machinery. I believe that the rank and file of trade unionists would be content to have State courts to fix their conditions. The *Bulletin* of the 28th August puts the position in a nutshell in the following words : - >The Federal Parliamentary Labour party has met and resolved that the timber strikers are acting nobly in their insurrection against the federal award. At the same time it demands that the Federal Arbitration Court shall continue to exist and hand out awards, to be treated the same way, or worse. The Commonwealth can't make its court's decisions respected unless it has power to interfere in disturbances, wherever they may arise, and has police and military forces with which to scatter insurrectionary mobs. There being no visible chance of getting the power, the obvious course is for the Commonwealth to get out of the arbitration business. That is a fair statement of the case. I am not a unificationist. I do not believe that that policy would be successful in our great country, with its unwieldy and undeveloped States. Australia is much overgoverned and overtaxed. Wo can reduce the cost of government to some extent at least by voting for this bill. When the hue and cry of the Opposition has died clown a little it will be found that the thinking trade unionists will express satisfaction with the action of the Government in abolishing the Commonwealth court. It was made quite clear during the election campaign that the Commonwealth was not able to enforce the decisions of. the Arbitration Court. It, therefore, seems to me to be unreasonable to retain this ineffective instrument .of industrial control. I know that the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** would like all power to be reposed in the National Parliament; but the people are not favorable to an alteration of the Constitution in that respect. The States are at present administering our police, education and health laws and there is no reason why we should interfere with their operations. I heartily support the bill, for I think that it is a step in the direction of better government. {: #subdebate-16-0-s3 .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 .If the bill is passed, I fear that it will do irreparable harm to the industries of Australia, and to the workers engaged in them. It is the most retrograde proposal that has been made since the inauguration of federation. One would have expected the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister to advance substantial arguments in support of it, but their speeches were lamentably weak, and lacked conviction. The Prime Minister referred to the economic effect of the drastic change that is proposed, and the AttorneyGeneral spoke of the estimated savings; but he did not take into consideration the enormous loss that would be incurred owing to the chaos that would result. It will still be necessary to have six industrial tribunals throughout the Commonwealth, and I believe that the new system, if adopted, will eventually prove more costly than the present dual control. The Prime Minister merely made an economic survey of the present industrial situation, which is largely due to the extravagance of this composite government in the last six or seven years. On several occasions the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have said that the scrapping of Commonwealth arbitration would be unthinkable. Speaking in this House on the Industry and Commerce Bill, on the 20th May, 1926, the Prime Minister said - >Not for a moment do I accept the view that, because we have had difficulties, we should scrap the whole machinery of arbitration and conciliation and revert to the old system for composing our differences. Li the widest. sphere, that of international affairs, efforts are being directed towards the ideal of having disputes arbitrated upon by an arbitration tribunal. If that can be attempted, even in the international sphere, it is obvious that it can be achieved in the much smaller sphere embraced by the industrial affairs of one nation. If the Commonwealth Government scrapped the Arbitration Court, our. troubles industrially would merely be accentuated. I agree with that view, and consider that the reasons advanced by the right honorable gentleman hold good to-day. The Attorney-General, in the debate on the same bill, on the 21st May, 1926, after referring to the work of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, remarked - >It is out of all question to consider seriously the suggestion that this industrial machinery should be scrapped, and all the court's awards, the result of 20 years' work, set aside, interstate disputes being left for the future to the adjudication of sonic at present non-existent body. It must bc remembered that no single State is able to deal effectively with an interstate dispute merely by the service of a printed claim. If we wish to secure industrial peace through the medium of the law, there must be some means of dealing with these disputes on a federal basis. Therefore, tlie Government is of opinion that it is necessary to continue the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and to make certain improvements to it. Those utterances cannot be lightly dismissed by honorable members. The Government annually expends large sums of public money on various delegations, such as those sent to the- International Labour Conference at Geneva. By despatching delegations to such conferences the Government concerns itself with matters relating to international labour problems and conditions of employment. Yet it fails to exercise its industrial powers for the protection of Australian labour conditions. Judging by their utterances, one would expect the AttorneyGeneral and the Prime Minister to be the last to suggest tlie evacuation of the field of arbitration by the Commonwealth. In the last 25 years, Australian industries have forged ahead by leaps and bounds. The number of factories " has increased from 11,945 in 1905, to 22,775 in 1927, and the number of employees from 214,589 to 464,196 during the same period. A huge industrial fabric has been built up since the inception of federal arbitration, and the industries established either on a State, or an interstate basis, would be seriously affected if this machinery were swept away. In my opinion, the proposed change would result in fierce interstate competition. That is not desirable. In those industries where a business has been established in one State, and is economically supplying the requirements of the whole of Australia, there will be a temptation on the part of others to establish branches of those industries in adjoining States, largely on account of inferior conditions of employment- that may be brought about as the result of the change. This will stir up interstate jealousy, which, happily, has now diminished to a negligible quantity, owing to the disappearance of interstate customs barriers ana the uniformity of working conditions that prevails in many federal industries. If the bill is passed, there will be an entire lack of uniformity; the conditions will be ever changing owing to the varying industrial laws of the States, and the varying duration of those awards. The Prime Minister referred to the fact that the Australian Workers Union does not avail itself of the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court in Queensland. He mentioned this matter with a view to suggesting that too much importance should not be attached to the desire for uniformity. But there is no comparison between the work of members of the Australian Workers Union and employees in manufacturing industries. The product of the shearers, that is, the greasy wool, is not subjected to interstate competition, most of it being exported overseas, only 5 per cent, to 6 per cent, of it being manufactured in Australia. On the other hand, however, the output of our factories is for local consumption and subject to interstate competition. From time to time, the Government has said a good deal as to the necessity for law and order, but, when one examines its proposals in regard to arbitration, one is inclined to the view that, after an election, that cry ceases. It is proposed to retain the industrial machinery in order to control the maritime industries; but that change would enable the Government to deal with merely the remnant of an industry. This Government sacrificed the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and that had the effect of robbing the 1,200 employees of the benefit of Australian conditions of labour. The Government intends to repeal the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, and so to administer a severe blow to the maritime industries. Once the Commonwealth evacuates the field of arbitration, this country will be confronted with the same difficulties as those experienced in the early days of federation prior to the passing of the Act of 1904-5. **Mr. Justice** Heydon, during the hearing of the clothing trades case in the New South Wales Arbitration Court said : - >The evidence thathas been submitted to me in this case proves beyond any doubt that there is room for improvement in the wages and conditions of the employees in this industry, but one is forced to take into consideration the wages and conditions obtaining in the same industry in the State of Victoria. In consequence, I hesitate to concede to the employees all that I might in other circumstances. In an industry such as this there should be some form of federal adjustment of the wages and conditions. If those difficulties existed in 1905 they are bound to be accentuated by the tremendous development in the manufacturing industries, particularly the boot trade if the Government's proposals are carried. **Mr. Justice** Heydon, dealing with the case of the boot trade employees said - >We are of the opinion that journeymen in the boot trade are skilled workers, and should receive the wage of skilled workers, and that £2 8s. is not the wage to which they are fairly entitled. ... If our hands had been free, we should have given most of the boot trade journeymen 9s. a day, or £2 14s. a week, with a little less to the assistant stuff cutters and the lining cutters. We have wished to see our way to do this, but we have come to the conclusion that, in common fairness to the employers (that is the New South Wales employers), we cannot do it. The workers will be confronted with those conditions immediately they are obliged to seek awards from State tribunals. In both the clothing and boot trades there are unscrupulous employers. In the former particularly, sweating may return and the conditions now enjoyed by the workers will be broken down. The Government's proposal is extraordinary, and one is forced to seek the motive for it, in the same way as we sought the motive for the withdrawal of the prosecution of John Brown. Honorable members on the Government side have been at considerable pains to defame the fair name of Australia by exaggerating the number and extent of industrial disturbances. But the Attorney-General, speaking on the Arbitration Bill on the 21st May, 1926, said- >We have strikes, and some of them are serious - more particularly transport strikes, the effects of which are far-reaching, because they extend considerably beyond the persons immediately involved in the dispute. But other countries have their strikes and lockouts, too, and it is unfair to represent Australia as being particularly and specially afflicted by strikes. I am in accord with that statement. Those who exaggerate these troubles in order to justify their support of the bill are not good Australians. Many strikes have been more or less justified. The Attorney-General stated that the average time for which unions desiring to approach the court had to wait, had been eight months. Delays of that sort are sufficient to cause dissatisfaction and restiveness on the part of the workers. Although they have to wait the greater part of a year to have their plaints heard by the court, the employers, the rackrenters, and the sellers of the daily necessaries of life, are able to get an increased price for their commodity without any delay and without recourse to any authority such as the workers have to submit to. Those increases have to be paid by the workers, and men who are receiving the bare means of subsistence are aggravated and goaded into revolt when they have to wait a considerable time for redress from the Arbitration Court. These delays could have been minimised if the Government had seriously addressed itself to the removal of many anomalies that hinder the functioning of the court. When this measure is stripped of all pretence and veneer, one is forced to the conclusion that it is part of a well thought out plan, which has been developing since the end of the war, to break down the conditions of the workers. The Employers Federation and the Single Purpose League have openly expressed their determination to do everything within their power to destroy the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. In that endeavour they have been supported by the wealthy interests, and the Government has consistently aided them by appointing various investigatory bodies whose opinions would be likely to coincide with those of the opponents of federal arbitration. The British Economic Mission was a body of independent British business men who, on the initiative of the Prime Minister at the Imperial Conference in 1926, were nominated by the British Government to report upon economic and industrial conditions in Australia. Dealing with the tariff and the Arbitration Court, the "Big Four" said- >Wo have been strongly disposed to the view that the combined operation of the tariff and of the arbitration acts has raised costs to a level which has laid an excessive and possibly even a dangerous load upon the unsheltered primary industries..... We have felt much force in the oft-repeated complaint that successive increases in the tariff which affect prices and the cost of living, following upon, or being followed by, successive advances in the cost oflabour as the result of decisions under the arbitration acts have involved Australia in a vicious circle of ever ascending costs and prices, and that this condition of affairs is crippling Australia's progress and her power of supporting increased population. There lies no task before the Australian people more urgent than that of in some way breaking the vicious circle and of bringing down costs of production, as is being done in the other industrial countries of the world. . . . Those gentlemen gave a lead to the Prime Minister, who is disposed to take more notice of the opinion of imported experts than of the judgment of captains of industry within the Commonwealth. The report of the mission referred to the Tariff Board's annual report for the year 1925-26 : - >Our views have merely been strengthened by our study of the reports of . the Commonwealth Tariff Board, who, we observe, in their report for the year 1925-26, say that they are - strongly of the opinion that the industrial unions of the Commonwealth should be induced to realize the critical position into which the Commonwealth is drifting and the absolute necessity for preventing the wages gap from becoming still wider between the United Kingdom, the Continent of Europe and the Commonwealth. It is obvious that the minds of the Government appointees on the Tariff Board and the members of the Economic Mission were running on parallel lines. The report of the mission continued - >A change in the *method* prevalent in Australia of dealing with industrial disputes appears to us to bo essential, and we hold that there should be a minimum of judicial and governmental interference in them except in so far as matters affecting the health and safety of persons engaged in industry may be concerned. Honorable members will see that these gentlemen gave a direct lead to the Prime Minister to propose the legislative changes that are contained in the bill. They urged a reduction in the cost of production, and I interpret that to mean a drastic cut in wages. It has been said ' during the debate that had the industrial proposals of 1926 been carried the Government would not be proceeding with this measure. The honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** and other ministerialists have charged the Labour party with having been responsible for the defeat of the industrial powers referendum in 1926. When that honorable member and the Prime Minister were speaking, I reminded them that the opposition to the referendum proposals came not only from certain sections of the Labour movement, but also from the wealthy interests, particularly those represented by **Sir Arthur** Robinson and **Sir Owen** Cox. Had the people conceded to this Parliament power to regulate and control corporations, it would have been possible to pass a general company law to control private companies which represent over 70 per cent, of the capital invested in Australia. During the referendum campaign, the Federal Union - that being the name of the organization, formed by the wealthy interests to oppose the Government's proposals - stated that, in an effort to get at the possibilities behind the referendum proposals, it had obtained an opinion from a very prominent Melbourne barrister, now on the Supreme Court bench. The questions asked were as to the powers of Parliament over ordinary trading companies should the trade and industry amendment be carried. Among the questions and replies were the following: - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Could the Federal Parliament legislate in regard to the ordinary daily activities of all companies and corporations other than those specially excluded ? - Yes. 1. As to their methods of buying and selling? - Yes. 2. As to the percentage of rate of divi dend? - Yes. 3. As to capitalization of profits, provision of reserve funds, &c. ? - Yes. 4. If Parliament were dissatisfied with the decision of an authority, could it extinguish such authority and create another? - Yes, by repealing the statute creating it. As a fairly reliable estimate places the companies as distinct from private individuals in possession of 70 per cent, of the business of Australia, it will be seen bow drastic are the powers asked for. It will be seen that **Sir Arthur** Robinson and the wealthy group which he represents were " wise " to the farreaching importance of those proposals. They were defeated, not as a result of the opposition of industrial labour, but entirely as a result of the united opposition of the capitalistic press and the wealthy and influential supporters of the National party. The Government dares not again submit the proposals to the people. Those interests which make it a practice to contribute to the funds of the National party no doubt subscribed on the occasion of the last election on the understanding that similar proposals would not again be introduced, and that the Government, therefore, would not appeal to the electors to grant to the Commonwealth further powers to deal with industrial matters. For some months the royal commission which was appointed to inquire into amendments of the Constitution has been engaged on that work, and its report will probably be presented to the Governor-General to-day. A proposal such as this ought not to have been brought forward until that report was in the hands of the Government, and this Parliament and the people of Australia had had an opportunity to consider the recommendations that it contains. The Government, however, has shown itself unwilling to adopt that course. It has displayed an indecent haste in connexion with this measure which is not warranted merely by the rejection of the proposals that were placed before the people in 1926. Under the Constitution certain industrial powers were granted to the Commonwealth Parliament. They have been in operation for 25 years, and should not be taken away or allowed to remain latent without the approval of the electors. The Government should take the earliest opportunity to refer this important matter to the people and allow them to make a pronouncement upon it. It would appear that the work of our nationbuilders in the early days of federation is to be undone by a number of pygmies, who are either members or supporters of the Government. It is regrettable to find honorable members opposite willing to facilitate this scheme. The Government has expressed a desire to bring about industrial peace. ' How can that object be achieved when they propose to so alter the industrial laws that industrial warfare is inevitable ? For six years they have mishandled industrial matters and manhandled labour leaders. They have made themselves the laughing-stock of the country. The honorable member for Forrest **(Mr. Prowse)** has expressed his determination to support this measure on the ground that the Prime Minister submitted the matter to the State Premiers at the conference which was held in May last. I contend that the proposals did not receive the mature and lengthy consideration that was warranted. The conference dispersed three days after it met. When the Prime Minister announced his proposals the Premiers unanimously said they were opposed to the handing over of further powers to the Commonwealth, but would warmly welcome the evacuation of the industrial field by the Commonwealth. The Premier of. Victoria was most anxious to see the Commonwealth retire from this field; yet he is now asking this Government to defer action so that he may consider what industrial machinery is necessary to take its place. If this measure is passed the workers of Australia will' be thrown to the wolves. No undertaking has been given by the various State Governments that the interests of the workers will be fully protected. The Sydney *Baily Guardian* yesterday referred to the long delays that have been experienced by the Teachers Federation in New South Wales, in having their claim' adjudicated upon. It is headed, " A Long Job," and reads - >When the Premier makes his second-reading speech on the bill substituting conciliation committees for industrial courts, he had better skim lightly over the. record of the recent Teachers Conciliation Committee, under the chairmanship of. blind barrister Mcwilliam. > >The teachers lodged their claim in June, 1926. Fruitless conferences with the Public Service Board Occupied many months, and about the middle of 1927 the claim went to the conciliation committee. > >After over two years' continuous wrangling between representatives of the teachers and the department - the latter backed up by the Public Service Board - the conciliation committee has issued an award for male teachers, and reports its inability to arrive at any compromise on the subject of women teachers' salaries! There are 9,000 State public servants involved. From what I have read, it will be seen how difficult it is to induce the State Parliaments, with their reactionary upper houses, to provide machinery for the efficient and speedy handling of industrial matters. We should hesitate to give the State Parliaments this power, because there is the grave danger of different workers being excluded from the schedule to industrial acts. In the days when there was a wages board system in New South Wales; the clerical workers were excluded from the act, and men who were engaged in clerical occupations could not obtain redress from either the State Arbitration Court or the wages board. During the last few months the Premier of Queensland, **Mr. Moore,** and the Premier of New South Wales, **Mr. Bavin,** have stated that either the rural worker's award will be repealed or the rural workers will be excluded from the operations of the State award. That is a very unsatisfactory position. How does the Government propose to protect the workers 'excluded from the benefits of the State Industrial Acts? I believe in an extension of the powers of the Commonwealth, and I sincerely trust that this proposal of the Government will be defeated. I confidently believe that at the first available opportunity the electors will dismiss from office this blundering and incompetent Government. I greatly resent the methods that have been adopted by the Government to break down the opposition to the bill by compelling honorable members to remain here continuously for so long a period. I hope that honorable members opposite will display their independence and instead of being influenced by party considerations will do what is iu the best interests of the country. I trust that the motion for the second reading of the bill will be negatived and that thus the interests of the Australian workers will be protected. {: #subdebate-16-0-s4 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS:
Franklin -- I again protest emphatically against the manner in which the business of this House is being conducted. If a snap-shot could be taken of this Parliament at the present time and presented to the people it certainly would not have its powers extended. To compel honorable members to remain here continuously for 48 hours is a cruel act, the responsibility for which lies at the door of one who would appear to be drunk with power. There is no necessity for it. The House could have adjourned at 11 o'clock last night, and could have completed its business to-day in time to allow honorable members to catch their trains. i have not been able to discern any stonewalling during this debate. I sincerely hope that there will be an amendment of the Standing Orders, and that the time allowed honorable members for second-reading and other speeches will be considerably curtailed. I regard this as one of the most important measures that have been before this Parliament, mainly because it affects the greater portion of our industrial life. For that reason it deserves our grave and earnest consideration. We want industrial peace. If there is one State in Australia that has been gruelled and crucified by strikes, it is Tasmania. I listened attentively to the speech of the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James),** and was considerably moved by his description of the sufferings of the miners who are locked out. My State is locked out for about four out of every six years. Once the cooks, the stewards, the firemen, the engineers or the waterside workers go on strike Tasmania is cut off from the mainland. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- Will the passage of this bill prevent that? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- if this bill, when passed, is put into operation immediately, I am afraid that a strike will occur and again isolate Tasmania from the mainland. The honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin),** in his able speech, pointed out the disabilities under which Western Australia was suffering. He said that its only connexion with the eastern States consisted of railway and water carriage. Tasmania has no railway to connect it with the mainland, but is dependent entirely upon water carriage. The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. West)** was also afraid that the repeal of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act would tend to destroy the mercantile marine of Australia. I contend that that act is a millstone round the neck of Tasmania and is doing more to injure that State- than anything else. The Navigation Act has built up the biggest monopoly in Australia, because the greater portion of its mercantile marine is owned and controlled by the Inchcape combine. Tasmania is suffering severely from lack of transport facilities to the mainland, and her semiisolated position has been brought about largely by the operation of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- The honorable member heard the late **Mr. Kingston** say that the United States of America protected its mercantile marine right round its coast. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- The operation of the Sherman Act absolutely killed the mercantile marine of the United States of America. During the war 75 per cent, of the American troops had to be carried overseas in British vessels. We have now practically driven the Australian mercantile marine off our coast. Tasmania has had a bad spin lately. We have had a poor crop of fruit.- The berry fruit that has been grown is so small that it is practically unsaleable. The potato crop is rather poor and on top of that we have had the most devastating flood that has ever occurred in Australia. Tasmania is staggering under this load, and I believe that if a maritime strike occurs during the coming tourist season it will be a knock-out blow to that State. The introduction of this bill is exceedingly important at this time. It is a drastic and far-reaching action. If this legislation is passed and proclaimed immediately it will cause, I fear, serious industrial trouble. In any case this measure should not be put into operation until it has met with the approval of the people. A certain period should be given to allow State courts to be established, and some of them must necessarily have a semi-federal control. They must be vested with certain federal jurisdiction. I cannot see any objection to the bill being suspended until it has received the approval of the electors. I am taking this stand solely in the in terests of Tasmania. I may be called parochial or provincial, but I believe that Tasmania will prosper if industrial peace is ensured for some time to come. I blame the Government for the present industrial position. If John Brown and Hollowayhad been imprisoned for defying the federal law, the coal-miners lockout and the timber workers' strike would have ended in less than a week. A few months ago I helped the Attorney-General to caulk the leaks in the Arbitration Act so that the law might be administered fairly in respect of all sections of the community affected by it. Now we are suddenly asked to wipe out the Arbitration Act, and to throw the onus of arbitration on the States. I have no objection to that. I have never favored extension of federal powers at the expense of the States. I am a federalist, but not a unificationist. . The only way that we can secure a strong national federation in Australia is by retaining the sovereign States each complete in itself, each operating within its own circuit, without transgressing or intruding upon the rights or functions of the other. I join . issue immediately with those who say that Australia can be governed better from Canberra than from the different capital cities. At one time Australia was governed from Sydney, and State after State was formed, because of the people's desire for independence. It would be a retrograde step to have one central authority with power to govern the whole of Australia. Tasmania is in a serious position. I frankly admit that I view with great apprehension the possibility of this measure suddenly becoming operative. I attended the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Canberra in May. I heard the Prime Minister's proposal concerning the Commonwealth Government's suggested arbitration policy, and also the reply of the State Premiers. The gentleman most emphatic in his refusal to accede to the request of the Prime Minister was the Premier of Victoria **(Sir William McPherson),** who even before this measure has passed its second reading stage is asking that even if it is passed it shall not become operative until the 30th December, 1930. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- Did the honorable member see the Prime Minister's reply to that statement? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- No, but I understand that it was to the effect that the date on which the measure should become operative would -rest with the States. Under our arbitration system we have been building up for- nearly a quarter of a century two big armed camps - organized labour on one side and the employers on the other. When we consider the Government's action in this connexion I am reminded of an able article written by a German military officer who had toured India, and who, after describing the racial hatred which existed in that country, said that Great Britain had acted as umpire so long between the conflicting interests there that if her influence were suddenly removed, Moslems and Hindoos would, be at each others throats within a week. Although two great armed camps have been built up in Australia during the period I have mentioned, we are now asked without the slightest warning to sweep away the authority which has controlled them. It is not safe -to follow the course proposed by . the right honorable gentleman. It is exceedingly dangerous to the State which I represent. The section of industrialists who are to remain under federal jurisdiction is responsible for 95 per cent, of the strikes which have led to Tasmania's isolation. If any of the maritime organizations object to this measure coming into force they will take immediate action. If only 16 marine cooks - such as those who refused to work some months ago - decide to disregard the award of the Maritime Industries Court, Tasmania will again be isolated from the mainland. As a representative of Tasmania I cannot incur that risk. While I intend to support the second reading of. the bill to enable it to reach the committee stage, I shall assist those who are endeavouring to postpone its proclamation until it has been fully considered and by doing so to avert the danger of an industrial upheaval. This is not a party question, but it is one in which the political, industrial, and even the social interests are vitally involved. We should be guided by the biblical injunction, " Come let us reason together." {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- That is what should have been done. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- I think it is a great pity that efforts were not made in that direction before this drastic piece of legislation was brought before Parliament. {: .speaker-KXR} ##### Mr Parsons: -- The object of the bill is to create a better feeling. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- It may be. I have never imputed improper motives to my political opponents, to my friends, or to neutrals. The object of the bill may be as the honorable member suggests, but the circumstances in which it has been introduced do not support that view. I know nothing that would tend more to ensure a period of industrial peace than the withholding of the proclamation of this measure until it has been referred to the electors for their decision. Such a course would give Tasmania practically two and a half years of exemption from industrial disputes, and I would willingly do almost anything politically to give Tasmania such an exemption. Whatever the system of arbitration be, it should be clearly defined. Any party which accepts arbitration should obey its awards. If arbitration has been killed, it has been by the deadly knife thrusts of **Mr. Holloway** and **Mr. Duggan,** who are prominently associated with the trade union movement in Victoria. I know not what their motives were; but when an award of the court was given it should be accepted by both parties. The men I have mentioned are largely responsible for the Government's drastic change in policy. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- They, and those who who have acted similarly are largely responsible for the measure. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- When a decision was given in connexion with the waterside workers' case I said then, as I do now, that the provision in the award for a second " pick-up " was unnecessary ; that it was injurious to the morale of the men and of practically no benefit to the ship-owners. In that case the men should have accepted the award of the court, and immediately appealed against it. I have been given out "leg before wicket" when I knew I had "played the ball." In arbitration the advice of an Irish cricketer to his son is particularly appropriate. He said, "When the umpire says you are out, my boy, remember you are out even if you are not out." Unless each party is prepared to accept the awards of the court our arbitration system becomes a farce and a sham. I believe that practically every member of the political Labour party in Australia is in favour of observing awards of the court. {: .speaker-L1J} ##### Mr Lister: -- There are many who are not. {: #subdebate-16-0-s5 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- I am merely expressing my own opinion. {: .speaker-KXR} ##### Mr Parsons: -- Does the honorable member include **Mr. Holloway** and **Mr. Duggan** ? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- They are industrial not political leaders. Reference has been made to the enormous advantage of a common rule under which the rates of pay in a particular industry would be similar in all States. That is all right in theory, but is unfortunate in practice. The system of semi-mass production in Sydney and Melbourne has been the means of practically smashing Tasmanian industries. The best customers of the big Melbourne manufacturers are the Tasmanians, and particularly those in that portion of the State represented by the honorable member for Darwin **(Mr. Bell).** We have been told that it would be of great advantage if men, say in the boot trade, in all parts of Australia were paid the same wage. But there is a reverse side to the picture. The larger States, such as New South Wales and Victoria, with the aid of a high protective tariff, have built up large and important industries on a mass production basis, and their methods have made it practically impossible for smaller manufactories in other States to compete with them. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- Does the honorable member suggest that the workers of the smaller States should accept lower wages ? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- The workers from the smaller States are drifting more and more into the already overcrowded cities of Melbourne and Sydney. That is not a good thing for the smaller States, and it is a serious disadvantage to Australia generally. I was asked my opinion on a statement made some months ago by the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Gullett).** I expressed the opinion then that mergers had been responsible for the greatest and cruellest combines that exist to-day in the United States of America. One of the worst things that could happen to Australia, and to its industry, is the creation of these so-called mergers, which are simply combines. Assisted by the protective walls of a high tariff, they are able to kill competition and to have the public and the worker alike at their mercy. I am distinctly opposed to the popular idea that it is necessary to merge big industries into combines in order to obtain mass production. There is nothing more adverse to the interests of the consumer, and of the workers, than the banding together of these great organisations, which relentlessly exercise their powers. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Regulation by the central authority will prevent that. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- Never during the last 25 years has there existed a British authority which has been successful in preventing monopolies from taking complete advantage of their position. I do not know a monopoly that can be trusted. The State of Tasmania has experienced a very fair sample of the operations of one. A shipping monopoly has secured complete control of the trade between Tasmania and the mainland. It has increased freights and fares at its own sweet will, and it refuses, to give Tasmania an adequate service unless the authorities submit themselves to blackmail. It is well that somebody should ventilate these matters. The federal authority has the impression that it is establishing an Australian mercantile marine. Actually it is building up a monopoly which has a strangle-hold on an isolated State entirely dependent on seacarriage for its transport. I believe that I have made my position plain. Inconsistent, some may say: I do not mind. Parochial if you like. I do not mind. I am viewing matters to some extent from the position of Australia, but largely and wholly from that of my own State. I repeat, a strike at the present time would sap the very life blood of the State of Tasmania. I am afraid that if this measure is put into operation suddenly and it precipitates a strike, Tasmania will be in a perilous position. Honorable members who are not residents of an island State can have no conception of what industrial unrest means. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Let the honorablemember vote against the bill. {: #subdebate-16-0-s6 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- No; I have a better method. My vote against the second reading would be futile. I believe that it is better in the interests of all concerned that a fair and reasonable- time should elapse in order that the matter may be considered. There is no need to rush it into operation. Its effect may be embarrassing, and even injurious, to the mainland States; one blunder will again cut off my State. Do honorable members know what it means to be cut off from the mainland ? The honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** made a passionate plea on behalf of his miners, and I am greatly in sympathy with him. He has pleaded eloquently on behalf of men who have been two or three months out of work. But I have seen men who have worked for twelve months, gather their harvest, and then have to cast it into the sea because the State of Tasmania has been deprived of its sea transport. No sugar has been available in Tasmania, although, on the Sydney wharf, thousands of tons awaited transport. Surely there is not an employer, an employee or a member of Parliament, either State or Federal, who is not prepared to do something to prevent that, happening again. I believe that the best way to secure industrial peace, pending the time when the measure can be put into complete operation, is to suspend its activities until it has received exhaustive consideration. It is worth trying. Honorable members talk of the cost of a referendum being £100,000. How many hundreds of thousands of pounds does one strike cost the community of Australia? {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- Is the honorable member urging that the measure should be submitted to a referendum ? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- I am in favour of the bill being held in abeyance until the electors have decided its fate by referendum, which would be infinitely preferable or at a general election. In the meantime the State courts could operate. And here I caution the Government that the whole thing will not be as simple as it appears. {: .speaker-K9H} ##### Mr Gardner: -- Does the honorable member suggest that the State courts should be built up before the referendum is taken? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- I reply deliberately, yes. The questions placed before the electors at the referendum should be simply whether they favour, on the one hand, a purified Federal Arbitration Act, or, on the other, the State courts. I notice that the Premier of Queensland **(Mr. A. E. Moore)** has initiated an intensely practical idea: that all the State Premiers should meet and formulate a common rule to govern the courts which are to be established by the States. Let us have those amalgamated State courts, and let us submit the proposal to the people. I am prepared to abide by the result. I did in the matter of the State debts. I told the electors that the agreement was a mistake, but submitted myself to their decision, which I accepted. This law is to be operated too suddenly, and the battle axe has been used unnecessarily. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- How is the referendum going to prevent strikes ? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- The referendum will decide which system we are to 'adopt. Whatever system is adopted must be adhered to. I have said that if the Government had put **Mr. John** Brown and **Mr. Holloway** in gaol the strikes and lockouts would have been over in a week. It is impossible to run an arbitration act according to "Raf- ferty rules." We cannot have arbitration and conciliation unless it is understood that both sides will honour the arrangements entered into. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- If John Brown had been convicted, he would only have been fined; he would not have gone to gaol. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- If that is so, the sooner we alter the law so that we may send to gaol wealthy men like John Brown who flagrantly defy the law the better it will be for the country. I shall support any amendment in committee which will have the effect of postponing action under this bill until the matter has been fully considered, and which will prevent what, to my mind, constitutes the greatest danger - namely, a widespread industrial upheaval. We are now within a few months of the time when, by some devilish device, the usual strike will occur to disrupt Tasmania's tourist traffic, and. to interfere with the marketing of her fruit crop. I am not prepared to risk an industrial upheaval merely for the sake of rushing this bill through Parliament, before full time has been allowed for its consideration. To me, industrial peace in my State means more than any political party. Let us take counsel together on this matter. There has never been any industrial question before any Parliament, State or Federal, which has caused such . uneasiness in the minds of trade unionists as this one has. I have never been able to subscribe to the view that the rank and file in the Labour movement are opposed to the wishes of their leaders. If they were, those leaders would not be in office very long. Call it cowardice if you will, but in order to secure two or two and a half years immunity from industrial trouble in my State I am prepared to go a long way in the taking . of political risks. {: #subdebate-16-0-s7 .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES:
Adelaide .This subject has been discussed from every angle, and there is little left for me to add. I shall endeavour, however, in the course of my remarks to throw some new light upon the motives which, I think, have actuated the Government in bringing this measure forward. Before embarking upon that phase of the subject, however, I wish to make some reference to the last speaker, and particularly to the suggestion that the States should be afforded an opportunity of putting into operation machinery to take the place of the existing federal industrial legislation. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- I did not ask for time to put it into motion. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- Well, the honorable member asked for time in which the States might get the necessary legislation ready. That sounds very well, but if the honorable member possesses the political acumen with which his long experience should have provided him, he must have been talking with his tongue in his cheek. He must know that in five States out of the six comprising the Common wealth there is a leg-rope upon the popular branch of the legislature - namely, a legislative council. He must know that those legislative councils will oppose any proposed legislation designed to give the workers an opportunity of justifying their claims to be treated as human beings, as they have been under the present system of federal arbitration. It is true that if arbitration is scrapped now it will be restored by a future Labour government, and it is inevitable that, in the course of time, a Labour government will again bo in power in the federal sphere. The system of federal arbitration is no new thing. It is a natural development of our social and industrial life. After 25 years' experience, however, there are still in this country, and in the House, some who would wish to see Australia back to pre-Federation conditions. The honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mc Williams)** spoke of the doings of conferences of State Premiers. I remember that at such a conference, held many years ago, it was decided by the Premiers of the six States that uniform action should be taken regarding six different matters, but such action was never taken. By means of these conferences they sought to achieve something which only a supreme federal parliament can properly achieve. Throughout Australia to-day conferences are being held between the heads of different institutions for the purpose of achieving uniformity of action throughout the whole Commonwealth. Yet, there is no one on the Government side with sufficient courage to tell the people that the natural corollary of such events is to invest this Federal Parliament with supreme legislative power throughout the whole of Australia. It is a case of " pull devil, pull baker " between the six States in an endeavour to determine which shall fare best at the expense of the others. Every year there takes place a transference of high Government officers from the administration of one State to that of another. Some time ago we in South Australia took **Mr. Bellamy,** an hydraulic engineer* from Tasmania. We, in our turn, lost a civil engineer, **Mr. Veale,** to Victoria or New South Wales, I forget which. This competition for the services of efficient men costs the taxpayers money. We should aim at closer organization, and a more unified form of government. The honorable member for Franklin knows very well that what he advocates would put back the clock a long way. In pre-arbitration days sweating conditions prevailed in many of the industries in South Australia under the old go-as-you-please system. I could tell stories of the heartless exploitation of men and women who received no protection under the law. I was a part of the system then, and I know what it was like. When the Labour party grew powerful enough in South Australia to be reckoned with, and to press for the introduction of ameliorative legislation, there was still the opposition of the Legislative Council to overcome. The Labour party was faced with the opposition of the Liberal party, the same party that, in the federal sphere, is now called the Nationalist party. Why it is so called, I do not know, except that the name was bestowed upon it by its founder, the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes).** It would more fittingly be called the Conservative party. As a result of -the pressure brought to bear by the Labour party in South Australia, a system of wages boards was eventually established there. I have had experience of them, having sat upon one for some time. When the legislation providing for the establishment of these boards was introduced, the Legislative Council insisted that they should only be appointed to deal with such industries as Parliament agreed they should apply to. This meant agreement by both Houses. It was further stipulated that the provisions should have force only within a radius of ten miles of the city of Adelaide, the only exception being that Gawler was included. A long time elapsed before the system was extended throughout the whole State. Another provision was that the boards should not fix any wage, no matter what the workers' ability, higher than that paid by " a reputable employer " in South Australia. The word "reputable" was torn to shreds. Wages boards. were not allowed to make awards which prescribed higher rates of pay than those operating in Victoria. It was also provided that a man appointed a member of a wages board had to be actively engaged in the indus- try for at least three months prior to his appointment. That meant that no one but an active worker in the industry could be appointed to the board. In other words, the man had to face his boss across the table. I had that experience. The representatives of the employees submitted a log of wages which they considered reasonable. The increases sought were not staggering; but we knew that they would not be accepted without question. The employers also submitted a log. The chairman said that he would not split differences ; either one log or the other would be accepted in its entirety. The employees' representatives held another meeting, and decided to submit a new log which embodied the Victorian rates for the industry. The case concerned hardware assistants, the nature of whose work was the same in South Australia as in Victoria. The bosses asked for a rate 2s. 6d. a week lower. The chairman of the board had been appointed by the Government because the parties to the dispute could not agree on the appointment of a chairman. The decision of the chairman was in favour of the log submitted by the bosses. When I asked him by what process of reasoning he had arrived at that decision, he replied that he had given his judgment as a man of the world. I do not know what he intended to convey; but he gave no reasons for his decision. I mention this experience particularly for the benefit of the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams)** who said that the States should get ready for the transition period. We shall get very little from the States ; and what we do get will not bring about uniformity. There will still be overlapping, and variations in the margin for skill, if the control of industry is to be left to State tribunals, in which the influence of the Legislative Councils will predominate, then all I can say is " God help the workers." Another effort should be made to obtain for the Commonwealth the power that it should have, and I feel sure that if an appeal were made for that power the people would grant it. It is time that we owned up that the . logical result of federation is unification. The remarks on this bill have been many and varied. By some speakers the Government has been roundly condemned, but so far, it has not answered the charges made against it. Although the speech of the right honorable gentleman for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** did not contain the sound reasoning of some of the other speeches that had been delivered, it contained one great truth. The right honorable gentleman said that the Government's proposals so staggered the electors, that they would reject them if given the opportunity. I am convinced that the right honorable member was right in that statement. Another great truth was expressed by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** who said that the Government's proposal came as a bolt from the blue, not only to the Nationalist Party, but also to the people of . the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** stripped the Government naked in regard to this bill. We are told that its passing will reduce the cost of production. If the honorable member for Fawkner was cross-examining a witness who made a statement like that, his next interrogation would be - " How will it reduce costs?" I ask how this bill will reduce costs if wages are not to come down ? The onus of showing how production costs can be decreased without a reduction of wages rests on the Government. The Prime Minister, addressing the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney, said that overhead costs should be reduced. He urged greater standardization and more mergers. There is nothing illogical in what he said. He was really recommending something along the lines of the One Big Union. If unification is good for industry, it is good for the Commonwealth; but, in adopting it, we should not isolate ourselves from the heart of the Commonwealth and try to govern this country from a spot in the wilderness. Dealing with the withdrawal of the prosecution against **Mr. John** Brown, the honorable member for Fawkner said that, while he could not justify the Government's action, he would not vote for the motion of censure because he was satisfied that the Prime Minister's motive was pure. The honorable member also condemned the Government in respect of the measure now before us ; but he did not say one word about the motive underlying its introduction. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- In the censure motion the gravamen of the charge was that the Prime Minister's motive was dishonorable. I could not endorse that. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- The honorable member justified his action in supporting the Government by saying that he believed it was actuated by right motives. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- I did not support the withdrawal of the prosecution. I merely said that I could not support the Opposition in alleging a dishonorable motive for the act. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- The honorable member for Fawkner will agree that, when a case in the court has to be determined, not on known facts, but on the circumstances connected with it, one of the first things is to seek the motive. In the absence of a motive, and where the facts are not known, it is difficult to get a conviction on a serious charge. I expected the honorable member to seek the motive underlying the introduction of this measure. He said that the Government had no mandate to bring forward such legislation; that the Nationalist party's platform provided for arbitration; that" neither prior to nor during the election campaign had any intimation been given to the electors that such a proposal would be brought forward. He stripped the Government bare of everything, and yet he did not pursue his reasoning to the point of asking for the motive. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- It does not matter in this case what the motive is. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- It matters a great deal to the people of this country. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- On this occasion I propose to vote against the Government because I think it has acted wrongly. The motive does not matter. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- It is evidently a case of the Government being convicted *per se.* {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- I thought that the honorable member for Adelaide, of all men, would appreciate the difference. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- I accept the honorable member's explanation. In this 'case he did not care what the motive was; he knew that the Government was in the wrong. But I shall endeavour to show the motive underlying the Government'* action. The speech of the Prime Minister when introducing the bill suggests a motive. The right honorable gentleman said that because the Arbitration Court had been defied in some instances, our arbitration legislation should be scrapped. That motive is too thin. Would he scrap the criminal law because sometimes it is broken? Laws are made because there are -violators of laws. When laws are made, it is assumed that there will bc law-breakers. The apparent motive underlying this legislation can, therefore, be set aside. It does not explain the Government's *volte face.* It has been said by some honorable members opposite that members of the working class have criticized the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and that, therefore, the court should, be abolished. But that is very poor reasoning; it certainly does not justify removing from 750,000 people the protection which they now enjoy. The Prime Minister showed clearly, though he did not actually declare, the real object of the Government in introducing this bill. Nearly half of his speech had to do with financial affairs, and it might have been delivered more appropriately in a budget debate than in a debate on arbitration. The right honorable gentleman said - >The Government believes that the existing financial and economic position of Australia renders necessary a measure of this kind, and that the bill is a real contribution towards the solution of the economic problems confronting us. As the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** bluntly asked, " How will this measure do anything to solve the economic problems that confront us?" I repeat the question. Neither the Prime Minister nor his supporters have given a reply to this inquiry. The question should be answered. That quotation came from the beginning of the Prime Minister's speech. Here is one from near the end of it - >The passing of this legislation will free industry from many of the embarrassments from which it lias suffered iu the past. Again I ask how this measure can do anything to free industry from its embarrassments? If the Prime Minister were in the chamber I daresay that he would say something about the overlapping of awards, and the dual control of industry; but that is not a sufficient ex- planation. The workers of this country have fought hard and long through the various Commonwealth and State Parliaments to set up and perfect their industrial machine and they will resist every effort that is made to reduce their wages and lengthen their hours of work. In my opinion, the object of the Government is simply to cut down wages and lengthen the working week. I may be told that that is a wild assumption, but the Nationalist party has been consistently working to this end for a long while. The thin edge of the wedge was inserted by **Sir Henry** Barwell six years ago in South Australia, when he fought a State election on the slogan "Wages must come down. We must get back to the old law of supply and demand, and the old policy of freedom of contract." That is exactly what this Government is working for. In the opinion of the Government, industry is embarrassed because the worker of to-day is not in quite the same position as the slave of yesterday. The employers desire to revive the old policy of piece-work, which enabled them to press every ounce of energy out of their young, strong and vigorous employees. Some of the men with whom I worked 40 years ago under the piece-work system are to-day in a pitiful plight now that they are old men. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr Jones: -- The Government wants to get back to. the old policy of " Rafferty rules." {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- It seems to me that that is so. Here is another extract from the Prime Minister's speech - >Now, as the ledger cannot be balanced without the imposition of more taxation, which will increase the cost of production and thus further hamper the development of our great industries, we must endeavour, by increasing our national prosperity and stimulating industry, to enlarge the field over which our taxation is spread. That paragraph reminds me of the man who, having delivered his speech, asked, " Gentlemen, am I sufficiently ambiguous." The Prime Minister's speech was ambiguous from beginning to end, and he cannot complain if there are many interpretations of it. What does the right honorable gentleman mean by enlarging the field of taxation? Does he intend to spread it over the field of secondary production? It must be remembered that this measure affects almost exclusively those engaged in secondary production. The Government desire, it would seem, is to make one man do the work of two; but it forgets that by so doing it will increase our army of unemployed and cause us quickly to reach the saturation point. The honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** quoted some interesting opinions on this branch of the subject. In my opinion, the cry for more production is wrong. We already produce too much. I cannot see how the scrapping of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the evacuation by the Commonwealth of the field of industrial arbitration can do anything to stimulate industry. Again, with the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart),** I ask, "How can this policy improve our economic position?" Honorable members opposite must know very well that if this bill becomes law a great deal of discontent will be caused in the community. It is quite likely that the growth of bolshevism will be encouraged. It is certain that unemployment will increase. I know very well from experience that hungry men are angry men.- They are also desperate men. It is not a good thing for the country that the wives and children of men who are willing to work, but cannot get it, should be left on the verge of starvation, while the shops and factories of the land are crammed full of merchandise. The Prime Minister went on to say - >In 1013, the year before the Great War, Australia's production was valued at f 22 1, 000,000. Taxation that year amounted to £23,000,000 or 10.4 per cent, of the value of production. > >In 1927-28 the value of production had increased to £450,000,000, but taxation had increased to £88,000,000, or 19.6 per cent, of the value of production. What has that got to do with the Arbitration Court? The Prime Minister should have proved that the workers were responsible for the huge increase in taxation from 10 per cent, to 19.6 per cent. The value of production in 1913 was £221,000,000, and' in 1927-28 it amounted to £S80,000,000- a fourfold increasebut the taxation per head of the population had not doubled. I shall show the reason for the increase in taxation. It does not mean that the worker has " gone slow," and it is not due to high wages. In an address given by **Mr. Wickens,** the Commonwealth Statistician, before the Industrial Peace Conference in Sydney on the 19th February last, and reported in the *Economic Record* of that month, he said - >With this analysis of our population before us, let us turn to the tangible results of their efforts during that portion of the present century which we have under review. Let us take first the value of their production. The total value of primary and manufacturing production combined was estimated at £114,600,000, or £30 per head of population, in 1901, as compared with £446,900,000, or £73 per head of population, in 1920-27. These figures indicate that the total value was nearly four times as great in the later as in the earlier year, and the value per head of population nearly two and a half times- as great. The change in price levels during the period is, of course, an important factor in this matter, and since, on the average, the prices involved were some 81 per cent, higher in the later than in the earlier year, the total production in 1926-27, on the basis of the 1901 prices, would have had a value of approximately £247,000,000, and tlie production per head would have been £40. These figures indicate, roughly, that the total quantity produced in primary and manufacturing industries in 1926-27 exceeded that in 1901 by 110 per cent., and that the total quantity per head produced in 1926-27 exceeded that in 1901 by 33 per cent. Does the Prime Minister expect the people to believe his doleful story about the condition of affairs in Australia in face of those figures ? I shall quote **Mr. Wickens** a little further, so that the details of production will be placed in *Hansard* alongside the statements by the Prime Minister - >I have already indicated that, taking values only into account, the total from all sources for 1926-27 was four times as great as that for 1901. This ratio, of course, differs in different industries. Thus in agriculture and in pastoral industry the total value for 1926-27 was rather more than four times as great as that for 1901. In dairying and in forestry and fisheries the ratio approached five, and in manufacturing it exceeded five. In mining, however, there was little change, an increase in value of only 9 per cent, being recorded. It must be noted here that for the purpose of those returns manufacturing value represents the value added in process of manufacture; that is to say, it is the value of output less the value of raw material and fuel used, thus obviating duplication. With the single exception of mining, the value of the production of the various branches of industry has increased solidly during the period under review, the agricultural and pastoral industries representing the smallest proportionate increase and manufacturing the largest. Until 1019 the pastoral industry occupied the position of chief producing agency, and was usually responsible for some 30 per cent, of the total value of Australia's primary and manufacturing production. From 1.921 onwards, however, the manufacturing industry lias assumed the lead, and now represents more than a third of the total. That is an absolute contradiction of most of the arguments advanced by the section represented by honorable members opposite, which always complains that the workers " go slow " and that production costs are too high. The facts that I have adduced lead me to ask what justification can be found for the bill. **Mr. Wickens** also dealt with the agricultural industry, and I shall quote sufficient to show that the Prime Minister's remarks were not in accord with the facts regarding activities in our primary and secondary industries. Speaking of wheat, **Mr. Wickens** said - >In the last eight years of the last century the average production of wheat per annum was 31,000,000 bushels, and the maximum for any one year 41,000,000 bushels. In the last eight years of the present century the average yield per annum was 133,000,000 bushels and the maximum 105,000,000, approximately a fourfold increase in quantity in each case. The records of this country read like a fairy tale; but, when the party opposite sets out to attack the working classes, statements are made that are not borne out by the facts. **Mr. Wickens** referred to sheep in these terms - >During the ten years from the season 1916-17 to the season 1926-27 the total quantity of wool produced per annum increased from 630,000,000 lb. of greasy wool to 924,000,000, but slipped back in 1927-28 to about 900,000,000. A tentative estimate for the season 1928-29 is 950,000,000, which, if correct, is the record wool production for Australia. The Prime Minister has made specious misrepresentations of the facts in an attempt to justify the scrapping of our arbitration machinery. Regarding cattle, **Mr. Wickens** stated - >A peak of over 12,500,000 cattle had been reached in 1894, followed by a persistent decline to 7,000,000 in 1902, a rise to 11,750,000 in 1911, a decline to 10,000,000 in 1915, succeeded by a rise in 1921 to 14,500,000, the highest cattle figures ever recorded. Since this latter date there has been a continuous decline until the latest figures indicate a total of no more than 11,500,000. This latter decline is due to a large extent to the relatively unprofitable character of cattle raising in some Australian pastoral areas in recent times, owing to the unsatisfactory state of the oversea market. Again, I say that any unsatisfactory conditions that may give cause for comment are not due to any " go slow " movement, to short hours, or to high wages. The Statistician goes on to say - >In what may be termed the dairy and farmyard group of industries we have again a predominant item. This time it is butter, and the position which it occupies is an important one, representing as it does some 40 per cent, of the total value of the output of the group, and amounting in 1926-27 to nearly £20,000,000. Eggs and poultry have a wholesale value of upwards of £10,000,000 per annum, and milk consumed as such of upwards of £7,000,000. In 1901 the total production of butter in Australia was 103,750,000 lb., and for the year 1927-28 it has increased to 280,000,000 lb. Cheese, concentrated milk, bacon, ham, and pork are other increasingly prominent items in the dairying branch of production. The production of cheese increased during the period under review from 11,000,000 lb. to 20,000,000, and ham and bacon from 32,000,000 lb. to 73,000,000. **Mr. Wickens** proceeded to deal with the manufacturing industries. He went over the whole gamut of production before delegates who would understand the significance of the figures he quoted, and in the face of those statistics I cannot understand why the Prime Minister should be such a dismal Jeremiah. The right honorable gentleman said that " the passing of this legislation will free industry from many of the embarrassments it has suffered in the past." **Mr. Wickens,** to the Peace in Industry Conference said - >Coming next, to the manufacturing industries, we have a much more pleasing story of growth. Dealing with the wages in the secondary industries he said - >In the matter of salaries and wages of employees, the total paid in 1907 was £18,300,000, and in 1926-27, £90,600,000, representing about £78 each in 1907 per annum and £202 each in 1920-27. Those wages represented on the average about 55 per cent, of the value added to raw materials in the process of manufacture. In other words nearly half the added value was available to pay the cost of rent, fuel, light, and miscellaneous expenses, and profit. **Mr. Wickens** continued - >This added value increased from £33,000,000 in 1907 to £162,000,000 in 1920-27, or allowing for change in price levels, by about 180 per cent. We have thus, on all hands, evidence of a remarkable increase in manufacturing industry during the twenty years for which comparable data are available. I turn now to an important passage in this illuminating lecture- >Comparing from different dates the estimates of Australian private wealth referred to earlier, it is of interest to note that the estimate of 1903 gave an average per head of population of £252, that of 1915, £327, that of 1921, £397, that of 1923, £420, and the latest made for 1925 gave £478. Each of **Mr. Wickens'** statements gives the lie direct to the Prime Minister and they were made authoritatively before a body which the right honorable gentleman had brought into existence with a view to bringing about peace in industry. Yet he and his supporters have had the audacity to attack the workers and to rob them of their right of appeal to the courts of the land. It is useless to say that the workers and the Arbitration Court are ruining industry. If that is true the judges are not worth their salt. They hear the evidence and declare that a man is worth £4 5s. a week, shall work only 44 hours weekly, and shall enjoy this and that condition. The worker depends upon the judgment of the court; he cannot order the boss to pay him what he asks. If the worker does at times say bitter things when he is treated as John Brown is treating his slaves he is more than justified, because he is driven to do so by desperation while the ruthless employer acts in cold blood. The Prime Minister said in regard to the finances of the Commonwealth - >The position is extremely difficult because of the growing feeling of uncertainty as to the trend of affairs. That is a specious argument to be advanced by a man whose training should have given him a full knowledge of the finances of Australia. I should be able to apply to him a word that would describe what he is when he makes such misstatements. {: #subdebate-16-0-s8 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The honorable member will not be allowed to do so. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr YATES: -- I quite understand that the word I would like to use is not parliamentary, but it will be used elsewhere. The following table taken from the *Year Booh* shows the financial position of the banks operating in Australia, and is very significant - {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-16-0-s9 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin .During the 44 hours of debate on this measure the industrial position of the Commonwealth has been considered from every angle. Whilst the case for and against the bill has been stated with a good deal of eloquence and occasionally with vehemence, the debate has been conducted with remarkable good temper, having regard to the circumstances of this sitting. One cannot deal with the matter as he would wish to do without repeating what has been said by other debaters. I have no desire to occupy a great deal of -time at this hour of the morning, but my constitutents will expect from me a statement of my reasons for supporting the measure. The Commonwealth system of conciliation and arbitration has been in operation for about 25 years and nobody can deny that it has had a fair trial. Because the Government and honorable members supporting it spoke in favour of the amending, arbitration act last year, and are now about to vote for the abolition of the federal arbitration system, it is unfair to charge them with inconsistency. Circumstances have arisen during this year which compel us to realize that this Parliament has no alternative but to repeal the Arbitration Act which has given satisfaction to neither employers nor employees and has been defied openly by one side and to a lesser extent by the other. Those honorable members on the ministerial side who have declared that the Government has no mandate for the introduction of this bill overlook what has happened during the last twelve months and the attitude of the unions and their leaders towards the arbitration court. Prior to the award in the timber workers' case the court had never reduced wages or increased the working hours. When that occurred the prophecies of many, who claimed to understand the attitude of the workers, that as soon as the court refused them what they demanded they would flout its awards, were verified. First, the union went on strike in defiance of the court; next, other unions rallied to the support of the strikers, and then the labour leaders throughout Australia endorsed that attitude of oppostion to and defiance of the court. In fact a general boycott of the court was established. The leaders of unionism in Australia have advised their followers to defy the court. Many instances of this have been given by other speakers during the debate, but I will confine myself to one. On the 9th February this year 30 of the federated unions after the three days' conference at Melbourne unanimously passed the following resolution : - > That all unions now before the Federal Arbitration Court bo urged not to proceed with their plaints or to appear before the court officially. Herein we have a deliberate boycott of the court organized by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions with the avowed intention of compelling the judiciary to enforce a 44-hours' week. It was frankly claimed by the union leaders responsible for the resolution that if all the unions agreed to the course a death-blow would be dealt to arbitration. No Government who allowed such a position to continue would be entitled to the respect and confidence of the country. In addition to the open defiance of the court, men who are willing to work under the award of the court were maltreated. The Stateswere either unable or unwilling to protect them. When a law is made specifically to protect certain people, and they defy it, if we are powerless to enforce it we should abolish the law. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Does the honorable member suggest that, under this bill, the Commonwealth will be in a position to enforce an award of the proposed committees ? {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL: -- In addition to repealing the present arbitration law the Government proposes to set up what are called industrial committees, to deal with maritime industries. According to the AttorneyGeneral, the Commonwealth has full powers with regard to trade and commerce. Some honorable members have asked why other industries cannot be similarly dealt with. The reason advanced by the Attorney-General is that they cannot be dealt with under the trade and commerce powers." Under the trade and commerce powers which the Commonwealth now possesses, it can enforce the awards made by these maritime industrial committees. The honorable member for Fawkner suggests that the Commonwealth is powerless to enforce awards. I draw attention to what happened during the last strike in the maritime industry. The Commonwealth then took action which settled that strike in a majority of the ports of the Commonwealth within a fortnight. I have never been satisfied that the present system is a good one. It is cumbersome, slow in operation, and costly, and has promoted strife rather than peace. Some honorable members opposite have said that it costs unions many thousands of pounds to have their cases heard, and they complain that it will cost them many more thousands if they have to approach a State tribunal. The Commonwealth Court should not be so costly. We want a simplified procedure. If the system has become unworkable, and we are powerless to institute a better one because of our constitutional limitations, the Commonwealth should vacate this field. Having reached the stage that neither side wants it and both sides defy it, the Government would not deserve the support of any section of the people if it did not take action such as that now proposed. During the course of the debate the hon- 'orable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams)** made certain statements with respect to the effect of strikes on Tasmania. I regret that I feel impelled to correct him in certain respects, because Tasmanian members have the reputation of speaking with one voice regarding matters that affect ' their State. I agree that Tasmania has suffered tremendously as a result of strikes on the mainland, because it is dependent entirely on transport by sea ; but I remind my honorable friend that for years we have not had a strike which affected Tasmania to any great extent, because of the firm action taken by this Government against those who were holding up the transport service between the mainland and Tasmania. The honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams)** has told the House that although he intends to vote for the second reading of this measure he will support any amendment to postpone its operation until the people have an opportunity of being consulted either by referendum or election. It is his right and privilege to vote as he thinks fit,' but I cannot see eye to eye with him. He says that he will do anything to help Tasmania. I represent a Tasmanian constituency and I would go as far as the honorable member in helping to assist that State to progress by improving the transport facilities to the mainland, but I fail to see how Tasmania is to be assisted or strikes prevented by deferring the operation of this legislation for two years. Every strike that has occurred has been in defiance of an Arbitration Court award. I, therefore, cannot understand the argument of the honorable member for Franklin that we shall assist Tasmania by continuing the present system of arbitration. The honorable member said that the ' industries on the mainland benefit to the detriment of industries of Tasmania. He made a statement that I am bound to contradict. He is unfair to Tasmania when he says that there is practically no industry operating to-day in the State because of the operation of awards and the luring of its workers to the mainland. It is not often that I quote figures, but under the circumstances, let me say, that in 1902, there were 420 factories in Tasmania employing 7,466 hands; in 1909, 544 factories, employing 9,322 hands; and in 1927, 767 factories employing 11,694 hands. According to those figures the position of Tasmania in regard to its industrial activities, is not, as the honorable member for Franklin has stated, gradually becoming worse. As a matter of fact there has been a steady increase in both the number of factories and employees. During the last two years the position of Tasmania has improved tremendously. Our exports, both primary products and manufactories, have increased. I do not give the figures showing the progress of our primary and mining industries, for I take it that the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams),** when he said that practically every factory of importance had closed down, excluded the mining industry. We have in Tasmania a wonderful industry in the Electrolytic Zinc Works, which employs some thousands of hands in Hobart' and on the west coast of Tasmania. The industry has progressed steadily for years. In my own electorate there is, as well as the Electrolytic Zinc mining fields, the Mount Lyell Company, the only copper mine in the Commonwealth that is operating successfully to-day. The enterprise has been a success only because of its efficient management and the fine type of employee at the mines. It was able to continue its operations even when the price of copper fell to £60 a ton. The only valid argument in support of a Federal arbitration system is the necessity for uniformity of awards. "We know now that that is practically impossible of achievement, because the Federal Arbitration Court has no power to insist upon it. One serious difficulty is that only those who are cited before the court come within the ambit of its awards. I should like to' see Australia return to the conditions when a certain amount of collective bargaining took place between those engaged in industry. The workmen were .then more satisfied with' their wages and conditions of employment, but unfortunately they have been compelled by the union to which they belonged to go on strike because of some little dissatisfaction existing, in one of the other States. That happened in the case of a strike of the waterside workers. The dispute arose over a trivial question concerning the pick-up, and as a result an attempt was made to hold up the whole of the shipping of Australia. In that case, fortunately, the dispute did not extend to Tasmania. "Work continued on the wharves in Tasmania, and when the men were called out they refused to cease work and continued to handle the products of Tasmania. Because of that strike on the mainland, thousands of men were thrown out of employment in other industries, though they were perfectly satisfied with their conditions. If the effect of the establishment of a common rule is to compel men. who are willing to work, to throw down their tools and bring about chaos in industry, then I prefer control of industry by the States instead of by the Commonwealth. Not long ago there was a strike of timber workers on the mainland. The timber workers in Tasmania were perfectly satisfied with their conditions and they continued to work until such time as the labourers on the mainland refused to handle Tasmanian timber. As a consequence, the mills had to close down. Isolation is sometimes a good thing for a country. The isolation of Tasmania prevents the poison that is manufactured on the mainland from being instilled into the minds of the workers. I am a great believer in the law of compensation, and the compensation for the isolation of the workers on the "West Coast is that they are separated from the influence of labour leaders on the mainland. During this. debate much has been said about the number of strikes that have taken place in Australia and the number of working days lost as a result. I do not intend to compare the position of Australia with that of Canada or any other country as has been done by other speakers because that does not affect my argument. Strikes have taken place' in Australia despite the favorable conditions of employment and the existence of tribunals established for the settlement of disputes. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was speaking on this bill I interjected that unemployment in Australia was mainly caused by strikes. Unemployment is the direct result of strikes, which cause a lack of confidence on the part of those who control capital. As the honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. D. Cameron)** has truly said, there would be plenty of capital available for enterprise in this country if those who control it had a reasonable assurance that conditions of employment would remain unaltered. Unfortunately there is no such assurance. There is no guarantee of any security; those wishing to invest capital in industry are always faced with the possibility of operations being suddenly suspended. If Australia is to prosper and our people are to be successful, the investment of capital to enable our industries to be developed should be facilitated. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Theodore)** referred to the prevalence of unemployment which he inferred was largely due to the maladministration of the Government. The unemployment has been caused mainly by a succession of strikes which have affected employment in not only the industry particularly concerned, but also those dependent upon it for supplies. It is true that we will always have unemployment in varying degrees; that must be expected as our prosperity is governed largely by seasonal and other conditions. Although production has not been satisfactory during the last year or two, the general conditions are such that the number of unemployed in Australia at present should be considerably less than it is. I admit that some employers adopt an unreasonable attitude which has the effect of disturbing the industrial balance, but the main cause of a good deal of the unemployment which prevails must rest with the representatives of organized labour, who very unwisely direct the men to disregard the award of a tribunal which was brought into existence for their protection. It is idle to repeat that when wages are inflated the cost of living increases in many cases out of proportion to the higher rates. No one is foolish enough to think that industry will produce more than is put into it. What is needed in Australia to-day is that a little more of the sweet spirit of reasonableness should be displayed by all engaged in industry. The employers' interests have to be protected and the rights and privileges of the employees, without whose assistance industry cannot prosper, should be safeguarded. If the employers will provide reasonable working conditions and the employees will give an honest day's work for the money the court awards, production will increase and peace in industry will be assured. It is the selfishness of both the employer and the employee that causes many of the difficulties with which we are confronted to-day. I support the proposal which the Government has somewhat unexpectedly submitted, but which I am sure will meet with the approval of not only its supporters in Parliament, but the people generally. In the ordinary course of events, it will be a little over two years before we have to again face the electors, and when that period has elapsed I believe that the conditions in industry in Australia will be such that the action of those who are supporting the Government will be fully justified. {: #subdebate-16-0-s10 .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES:
Indi .- I desire to associate myself with the protest uttered by the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** against the action of the Government in compelling honorable members to work unreasonable hours to discuss a measure of great national importance. It has been claimed by many honorable members opposite that the Government has received a mandate for the bill now before the chamber, but I am convinced that whatever interpretation is placed upon the remarks of the Prime Minister in opening the political campaign prior to the last elections, it cannot Be suggested that he even hinted at the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister has said that the cost of production must be reduced, but he has not given the slightest indication of how that can be done. Apparently the only way to achieve his objective is to lower wages. Last night the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers)** practically apologized for the present high standard of living in Australia. I am proud that our standard is higher than it is in many other civilized countries, and I shall use every power at my disposal to prevent the workers in this country from being compelled to work under conditions less favorable than those which now prevail. During the debate statesmen such as Barton, Deakin, Kingston and Higgins, have been mentioned, all of whom studied the question of the Commonwealth powers and responsibilities from every viewpoint. The utterances of these and other eminent men which have been quoted, suggest that, in their day, it was never contemplated that any Government would legislate in this way. The honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** strongly criticized the Government for taking this drastic step without consulting the electors, and said -that the Prime Minister had " stolen a march " upon the people. In my opinion, the Government and the Prime Minister are synonymous terms. The right honorable member for North Sydney, who has seen our arbitration system develop to its present stage, has said that the Prime Minister had been recreant to his trust; that he had betrayed the people and that he was now submitting a reactionary and craven policy. I regard the measure as a pusillanimous piece of political perfidy. On the 21st May, 1926, the Attorney-General, **Mr. Latham,** said - >I say it is out of all question to consider seriously the suggestion that this industrial machinery should be scrapped, and all the court's awards, the result of twenty years' work, set aside, interstate industrial disputes being left for the future to the adjudication of some j i resent non-existent body. . . . > >If we wish to secure industrial peace through the medium of the law, there must lie some means of dealing with these disputes on a federal basis, and, therefore, the Government is of opinion that it is necessary to continue the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and to make certain improvements to it. I suppose honorable members -supporting the Government in this instance are also of that opinion. lt would appear that when the Prime Minister changes his mind his supporters also change their minds! Certainly there are a few exceptions. The right honorable gentleman has a squad, which he has trained thoroughly in the art of changing step. But he also has a small awkward squad who do not change step as readily as the others. Should a war again break out and honorable members opposite volunteer, the sergeantmajor will have little difficulty in training them to change step. The Prime Minister manages his team well. He cracks his whip, and they promptly respond. I admit that there are a few recalcitrants, who cause the right honorable gentleman no little perturbation. During his second-reading speech the Treasurer **(Dr. Page)** stigmatized the Opposition as cowards,' and claimed that all the courage was possessed by honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Anstey)** replied very effectively. But I shall also examine this accusation of cowardice, and . see where it really applies. It should be the desire of the Government to bring disputing parties together, but the Prime Minister has been noticeably lacking in this respect. I have recollections of the Treasurer as a private member having referred to his present leader as a man who would paralyze industry and lead Australia to ruin, if he were given the chance. Shortly afterwards a bait labelled " Commonwealth Treasurer " was dangled before him, and, metaphorically speaking, he swallowed hook, line, bait and sinker. I admire the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** for relinquishing office and refusing to sacrifice his principles. Then the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** referred to the Treasurer as the most tragic Treasurer that Australia had ever seen. He, too, was taken into the fold. The Prime Minister is, indeed, an adept at collecting a team and in stifling criticism. Now let us examine the courage of the Government and of honorable members opposite. When the waterside workers broke the law, they were gloriously courageous. They were prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. But when John Brown, the coal baron, broke the law, the courage of the Government failed. It baulked at the first stiff hurdle. John Brown is still brazenly defying the law, and the Government, by its attitude of impotence, ineptitude, and inaction, is aiding and abetting him in his continued flagrant defiance of it. Yet the miners, their wives and their children, are permitted to suffer the pangs of hunger. Here is an occasion when the alleged strong man, the courageous Prime Minister, could take action. Instead, he skulks behind the reserve forces, afraid to face the music. So much for the men of courage. The honorable member for Wimmera, at the invitation of the Government, gave a *resume* of the bungling tactics of the Government in handling industrial matters. The Federal Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is about to be jettisoned. One honorable member likened the tribunal to a ship that is not worth patching up, that is brought into port leaking and with its sails in shreds. Another honorable member pertinently interjected that it was probably not the ship, but the crew, that was at fault. I agree that it is the fault of the crew. Although the Government knows that the Federal Arbitration Court is operating satisfactorily, it proposes to scrap it. Its courage has failed ; it is about to relinquish the substance and grasp at the shadow. In his second-reading speech the Prime Minister hoped that honorable members would consider the matter in a non-party spirit; from a national point of view. Until quite recently he was a believer in coercion in industrial matters. But he made the statement in connexion with this proposal, that - >We have come to the conclusion, as a result of recent experience, that we cannot prevent strikes and lockouts by the provision and infliction of penalties. And immediately his followers changed step and fell in behind him. The Prime Minister used coercion on his followers. He told them, in effect, that if this measure is not carried, the only alternative is the holding of a general election. He is neither consistent nor courageous. Now let me examine the so-called cowardice of honorable members on this side of the chamber. They, urge the prosecution of John Brown, and even censure the Government for withdrawing it. They stand for human rights, the rights of the miners working in the mines, and of their wives and children. Oan that be classified as cowardice? Honorable members on this side are opposed to the reduction of existing awards and to an increase of hours. They stand against moral degradation and economic degeneration. So that the Treasurer is unable to substantiate his charges of cowardice. The honorable member for Darwin **(Mr. Bell)** stated that federal arbitration should be abolished because its awards were totally ignored by one side, and partly disobeyed by the other. That is not a fair, statement of the position. I can remember, some years ago, that when there was trouble in the mines owned by John Brown, that individual said, in effect, to the miners, " Very well, I can close down the mines and sit back. I know who will starve first." Should a man who adopts such a truculent and unworthy attitude be allowed to continue the ownership of those mines ? Should he be allowed to continue arrogantly and flagrantly defying the law? A strong, courageous leader would not countenance the continuance of such a state of affairs. When I spoke on the censure motion dealing with the withdrawal of the prosecution against John Brown, I instanced the strong action that was taken by the late President Roosevelt, of the United States of America, when he satisfactorily settled the great coal strike which occurred in that country in 1902. After a great deal of trouble, President Roosevelt got the parties together. The men were out on strike for higher wages, but he induced both parties to agree to a conference under threat of carrying into effect some drastic proposals if they refused. The arbitration commission was formed, and both sides to the dispute were bound to abide by its decision. In the meantime the men went back to work. Contrast that with the situation existing during the present lockout on the New South Wales coal-fields. There is a commission sitting, it is true, but neither side is bound to accept its decision. In fact, the miners have already said that they will not hold themselves bound by any decision arrived at, and they are, I think, justified in adopting that attitude. Here is a report of the proceedings of the commission when the parties were discussing whether or not the owners' books should be produced. **Mr. Justice** Davidson said: "Nobody has the right to know how much it costs a colliery company to mine coal or how much profit a company is making." Seeing that the miners' rates of pay are based upon the profits derived from the coal mines, it is of vital importance that they should know what those profits are. John Brown is still flagrantly defying the law, the miners are still out of work, and their wives and families are suffering. If we had a man here with the resolution and ability of President Roosevelt, such a condition of affairs would not be allowed. If the honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** were at the helm this trouble would have been settled long ago. Exception was taken to his actions while he was in office, but at least he obtained results, and that is more than can be said of the present administration. As the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** truly said this afternoon, industrial legislation in Australia has been bungled. Not long ago we were told by members of the Government that the rank and file of the unions were bossed by the union officials, and that legislation was necessary to give the rank and file control of their organizations. Amendments were made in the Arbitration Act to ensure this being done. Further industrial trouble occurred shortly afterwards. The union officials gave instructions to the men that they were to go back to work, but the men refused. Then the Government said that the union officials did not have proper control over the rank and file, and that it was necessary to pass legislation which would give them that control. Accordingly the Transport Workers Act was passed. That is a glaring instance of the legislative bungling perpetrated by this Government in connexion with arbitration. The Government has not only bungled arbitration, but has failed in every other sphere of activity as well. The Minister for Customs was right when he said that the present Treasurer was the most tragic Australia had ever had. When this Government took office there was a surplus of £7,400,000; to-day there is a deficit of £5,000,000. It has been truly said of the Treasurer that he may be a good surgeon, but that, as a Treasurer, he would bleed Australia white. In the Federal Arbitration Court there are registered 143 unions with a membership of 7 64,000, and of these 407,000 are working under awards. Twenty-eight employers' organizations are registered in the court, and there are 16,400 employees of these organ.izatons No one on either side of the House contends that our arbitration system is free from defects. It remains true, however, that the great mass of workers registered in the Court are working amicably in accordance with the terms of their awards. Yet it is proposed to scrap this tribunal in favour of something that may be set up by the States. If this is done those unions which are now organized on a federal basis will be disintegrated. At the same time that the Government proposes to do this, it is encouraging the formation of big business mergers. If the working classes are to meet these mergers on a basis of equality, they must be organized on a federal basis. Some of these mergers are not only federal but international in character. The honorable member who preceded me referred to the timber workers' dispute. He admitted that he did not know a great deal about it. At any rate, when I asked him a question relating to the dispute he did not answer it and I assumed that he did not know very much about the subject. It is true that the timber workers did disobey an award of the Federal Arbitration Court because they considered that award unjust. How was that award arrived at ? When the Arbitration Act was last amended a clause was inserted to the effect that before any new award was made, or existing award varied, the economic effect of such new award or such variation of an existing award should be taken into account. An effort was made to give effect to this clause when considering the timber workers' award, and an inquiry was alleged to have been made into the books of firms engaged in the timber industry. We were told that the books of only ten firms were examined by an accountant, although there are over 1,000 firms engaged in the industry. On the strength of that examination it was alleged that a profit of only 2.2 per cent, was being made by the employers, and as a result tie working week was lengthened, and wages in some cases reduced. {: .speaker-JWQ} ##### Mr G FRANCIS:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · NAT -- That applied only to city workers. Most of the mills are in the country. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- The award issued by Judge Lukin provided a wage' of £3 a week for bush boys of 19 years of age. If the honorable member has had any experience of the bush he must know that the average bush boy of 19 years of age is a big, hefty fellow, physically as good as he will ever be. Yet his wage is fixed at £3 a week. What would the average employer do if he received an application for a job from such a bush boy, and from a middle-aged married man with a wife and family to support. He would have to pay much more than £3 a week to the married applicant, so it is only natural that he would give the job to the boy. The workers allege that the inquiry into the profits of the timber industry was not a fair one because the books of only ten firms were examined, and the names of those firms were kept secret. Does any honorable member contend that a fair estimate of the average profits of an industry can be arrived at by examining the books of ten firms out of a total of 1,000? {: .speaker-JWQ} ##### Mr G FRANCIS:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · NAT -- It depends on the percentage of the total turn-over represented by the business of those ten firms. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- Suppose the butchers in a small town are engaged in cut-throat competition to secure trade, and an accountant examines their books to find out what their profits are. Would it be fair to say that their profits represented the average profit of the butchering trade throughout an entire State, and on the strength of the finding regulate the wages for all employees engaged in the industry ? It is . true that the timber workers broke the award, and I do not stand for that. This party has always stood for the maintenance of law and order. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- What has the honorable member's party done to get the strikers back to work? {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- What has this Government done to get the miners back to work in the coal-mines? I await the honorable member's answer. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Labour party should take the initiative. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- The Attorney-General claims that the Transport Workers Act has brought peace to the water-front. The honorable gentleman should not be too certain that permanent peace has been secured there. I liken the position on the water-front to a quiescent volcano - the more protracted its state of quiescence the more violent the eruption when it does come. In the Victorian Parliament recently a question was asked regarding the cost of providing police protection on the water-front. The answer was such as to make one think. Peace will not be secured by such means. As soon as the police protection has been removed the eruption will come. The Prime Minister said that his Government had come to the conclusion, as a result of recent experience, that it could not prevent strikes aud lockouts by the provision and infliction of penalties. At least he has learned the lesson which history teaches - namely, that coercion has never been conducive to industrial peace. It never will be. The way in which the minds of honorable members supporting the Government change with every change of the Prime Minister's mind leads me to adapt the well-known lines of Shakespeare to make them read - >Why, man, he doth bestride the Commonwealth Like a Colossus; and they, petty men, > >Walk under his huge legs, and peep about To find themselves dishonorable graves. I speak, of course, in a political sense only- >Now, in the names of all the gods at once, > >Upon what meat doth this our P.M. feed, > >That he is grown so great? Honorable members opposite say that peace and prosperity in industry can only be maintained by keeping the Labour party off the Treasury bench. Let me contrast the position of Australia under a Labour Government with its state to-day under a so-called Nationalist Government. In an interview recently **Mr. Wickens,** the Commonwealth Statistician, said that in all countries during periods of depression the natural birth-rate decreases and the death-rate increases. He added that that had been the position in Australia for some time. He also said that the number of migrants entering a country was an index to its prosperity. Statistics show that the record year for migrants entering the Commonwealth was during the regime of a Labour Government. In one year over 90,000 migrants came to Australia. The next best year in this connexion was also during the term of office of the Fisher Government when about 63,000 migrants came here. During 1928-29 only 17,000 migrants came to Australia. If the statement of **Mr. Wickens** is correct those figures go to show that there was greater prosperity in Australia when a Labour Government was in office than exists today under a Nationalist Government. {: .speaker-JWQ} ##### Mr G FRANCIS:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · NAT -- Yet honorable members opposite still say that too- many migrants are entering this country.' {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- They should be kept out while there is so much unemployment here. During the regime of the Labour Government to which I have referred migrants came to Australia of their own accord and at their own expense. There was no need for the Government to offer inducements to bring them here. Nevertheless, it was blamed for not chartering special ships for that purpose. Such was the prosperity of Australia under a Labour Government than exists now. Labour has been tried in Australia, and it has not been found wanting. The present Government has been fruitful in promises, but barren in results. Its administration has resulted in unprecedented poverty, depression, strife and unemployment. I was pleased at the stand taken by the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** in connexion with this bill. Both he and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mi-. Hughes) learned the dignity of labour in a hard school. One criticism of the Federal Arbitration Court is that it operates in a legal atmosphere,- but a study of this measure shows that it, too, will flourish in a legal atmosphere. It is true that it provides for the establishment of committees; but every determination made by a committee whose chairman is not a judge must be referred to the Chief Judge, who may, or may not, allow it. If the chairman of the committee is a. judge the determination need not be sent on to the Chief Judge. A judicial atmosphere pervades the bill. The right honorable member for North Sydney suggested that industrial disputes should be settled by men with practical industrial experience. This legislation does not do that. I am sorry that the honorable member for Fawkner did not have time to complete his speech. He said that if time had permitted he intended to refer to the moral and spiritual aspects of this industrial question. A quotation from *An '* *Autogbiography* *by Theodore Roosevelt,* an ex-President of the United States of America, might supply that which the honorable member for Fawkner would have given us. The following extract is from page 512 of the autobiography - >A democracy can bc such in fact only if there is some rough approximation to similarity in stature among the men composing it . . . a simple and poor society can exist as a democracy on a basis of sheer individualism. But a rich and complex . industrial society cannot so exist; for some individuals, and especially those artificial individuals called corporations, become so big that the ordinary individual is utterly dwarfed beside them, and cannot deal with them on terms of equality. It, therefore, becomes, necessary for these ordinary individuals to combine in their turn, first in order to act in their collective capacity through that biggest of all combinations called the government, and second to act also in their own selfdefence, through private combinations, such as farmers' associations and trade unions. This the great coal operators did not see. They did not see that their property rights, which they so stoutly defended, were of the same texture as were the human rights, which they so blindly and hotly denied. They did not see that the power which they exercised of representing their stock-holders was of the same texture as the power which the union leaders demanded of representing the workmen, who had democratically elected them. They did not see that the right to use one's property as one will can be maintained only so long as it is consistent with the maintenance of certain fundamental human rights, of the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or as we may restate them in these later days, of the rights of the worker to a living wage, to reasonable hours of labour, to decent working and living conditions, to freedom of thought and speech and industrial representation - in' short to a measure of industrial democracy and, in return for his arduous toil, to a worthy and decent life according to American standards. Still another thing these business leaders did not see. They did not see that both their interests and the interests of the workers must be accommodated, and if need be, subordinated, to the fundamental permanent interests of the whole community. No man and no group of men may so exercise their rights as to deprive the nation of the things which are. necessary and vital to the common life. The last sentence might well be made to apply to Mi* John Brown, for coal is necessary and vital to the common life. Why should one man be allowed to paralyze an industry? The following quotation is from pages 518 and 519 of the same work - . . . we must recognise the fact that today the organization of labor into trade unions and federations is necessary, is bene.ficient. and is one of the greatest possible agencies in the attainment of a true industrial, as well as a true political democracy in the United States. This is a fact which many wellintentioned people even to-day do not understand. They do not understand that the labour problem is a human and a moral as well as an economical problem, that a fall in wages, an increase in hours, a deterioration of labour conditions mean wholesale moral as well as economic degeneration, and the needless sacrifice of human lives and human happiness, while a rise of wages, a lessening of hours, a bettering of conditions, mean an intellectual, moral and social uplift of millions of American men and women. Honorable members on this side of the chamber stand for the bettering of conditions and the intellectual, moral and social uplifting of the people; but honorable members opposite can hardly make such a claim if they support this bill. The quotation continues - >There are employers to-day who speak as though they were lords of these countless armies of Americans, who toil in factory, in shop, in mill and in the dark places under theearth. They fail to see that all these men have the right and the duty to combine to protect themselves and their families from want and degradation. They fail to see that the nation and the government, within the range of fair play and a just administration of the law, must inevitably sympathize with the men who are struggling for a decent life, as opposed to men, however honorable, who are fighting for larger profits and an autocratic control of big business. Tlie main object of the supporters of the Government seems to be to aid those who are fighting for "larger profits and an autocratic control of big business." The great majority of our workmen are law7 abiding, peaceful and honorable citizens who have done nothing to deserve the treatment which the Government is meting out to them. The final quotation that I shall make from the book begins on page 520 and reads - >I believe that the' overwhelming majority, both of workmen and employers, are lawabiding, peaceful and honorable citizens, and I do not think that it is just to lay up the errors and wrongs of individuals to the entire group to which they belong. I also think - and this is a belief which has been borne upon me through many years of practical experience - that the trade union is growing constantly in wisdom as well as in power, and is becoming one of the most efficient agencies toward the solution of our industrial problems, the elimination of poverty and industrial disease and accidents, the lessening of unemployment, the achievement of industrial democracy, and tlie attainment of a larger measure of social and industrial justice. In his second-reading speech on the bill the Prime Minister suggested that it was necessary to discourage employees from forming big organizations; but the late President Roosevelt held quite a different view. {: .speaker-JWQ} ##### Mr G FRANCIS:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · NAT -- Does the honorable member suggest that the trade unions wish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to be retained? {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- I certainly do. Employers and employees alike admit that there are certain defects in the system, but these could be remedied. If this bill is passed it will bring chaos into industries that are at present being conducted harmoniously. Let us not make the mistake of throwing away the substance for the shadow. {: #subdebate-16-0-s11 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- So much has been said on this bill by the many speakers who have preceded me that I cannot hope to break new ground. As a humble new member, I shall not pretend that I can pour out half as much wisdom as has been released during this long debate; but it ap pears to me that honorable members opposite and even some distinguished members on this side of the chamber have indulged in many irrelevancies and inexactitudes in the course of their speeches. It has been said that this necessary reform is a deplorable and reactionary attempt on the part of the Government to force the workers of* Australia back to the sweating conditions of the dark old days. Let us strip the debate of this " sob stuff " and hysteria, and look at the subject frankly. The object of the bill is to remedy the overlapping and duplication of the present system of industrial control. The Government is proposing to set up what will be practically federal wages boards for interstate disputes, and to leave to the State authorities the settlement of lesser disputes. Every one who knows anything about the industrial life of Victoria i3 aware that the wages board system of that State has been remarkably successful. Its one serious defect is being corrected in the scheme laid down in this bill. As the Attorney-General eloquently explained, the judges who will be chairmen of the boards constituted under this measure will be able, if they think that any decision of a board would have the effect of exploiting the public, to refer the matter back to the board. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- What would happen then ? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I have enough confidence in human nature to believe that the defects would be remedied. The representatives who will constitute these boards will not require to talk to the gallery or the press, for the deliberations will be conducted *in camera.* There will, therefore, be no need for any person to try to glorify his own organization. I believe that these boards will get down to bedrock quickly and do their best for the industries in which they are in- 'terested. The system will be inexpensive compared with the Arbitration Court method. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- What does the honorable member mean by " lesser disputes " ? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- It is well known that, under the present system, a comparatively minor disagreement can be quickly manufactured into an interstate dispute. In fact, a dispute must extend to more than one State before it can come before the Commonwealth Court. That method of dealing with industrial troubles is expensive. The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green)** quoted some enlightening figures with the object of showing how expensive the Commonwealth Court has been to industrial organizations. **Mr. Crofts** recently said that it cost something like £30,000 a year. I think that he referred particularly to the salaries paid and to other expenditure of that sort, but the system involves almost incalculable expense that has to be borne by industry. Thus enterprise is stifled by the charges that have to be met by the employer, who at any time has a difficult task, and is not encouraged to remain in industry. The fact that the amount at fixed deposit in the banks of Australia is £33,000,000 greater than it was two years ago shows that people have not sufficient confidence in secondary industries to invest their money in them. If any man in this chamber suddenly acquired wealth, would he invest it in a secondary industry? I think not. If Labour were sincere in its statement that it is out to help the working man, what a chance there would be to make him really interested in his industry. He could even become a shareholder in it, as is the practice in the United States of America where labour is not political, but where its chief concern is to make the men contented and industrious in their employment. How it would help Australia to progress if the Labour party could induce the members of the unions to take genuine interest in the industries from which they obtain their employment. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- What does the honorable member mean when he refers to Federal wages boards? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I said that Federal labour boards similar to wages boards were to be established in big industries. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- There is no provision along those lines in the bill. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I was referring to disputes that have an interstate significance. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- If that were specifically provided for, it would bring more support to the measure. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The firm of H. V. McKay Ltd. devotes a whole department to the study of arbitration awards, and that is an overhead expense to industry. One honorable member wanted to know where that expense occurred. The cost of the salaries of the officers employed in that work is, of course, passed on to industry, and the benefits of the tariff are to that extent nullified. I agree with the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers),** who pointed out that the economic position of the country was not all that could be desired. He said there was no certainty that wages would remain at the present level. Who could promise that they would? Wages are decided by the economic position of the country. They rise to a certain level, and ultimately they must recede. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- But the Government says they will not go back. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- That could not be guaranteed; they may either go up or down. If the wealth of a country is £5 per head of the population, it is ridiculous to assert that each inhabitant can take £6. What is wrong with Labour's policy is that it pays no regard to economics. It desires artificial standards irrespective of whether the industries can afford them. Governments cannot do everything. Much depends upon the people themselves. As Carlyle says - >Political reform can, indeed, root out the weeds, but it leaves the ground empty, ready either for noble fruits or for new worse tares. We ought to have more faith in our own country and patronise our industries. How many honorable members opposite are entirely Australian in their purchases ? That is one way in which unemployment can be reduced. If all sections pull together, we shall eventually see Australia marching to her destiny with success similar to that achieved in America. It seems to me that honorable members opposite, as federal members, fear that their sphere of influence in the Commonwealth will wane considerably if this bill is carried. So long as Labour as a party advocates nationalisation, its objection to the evacuation by the Commonwealth of the field of compulsory arbitration is understandable. They believe in the nationalisation of all the services of production and in that respect they are consistent in opposing the bill. But that they should suddenly become the champions of the Arbitration Court is rather ludicrous. As the court stands at present, it has been roundly condemned by both sides. So long as its awards were favorable to Labour, they were accepted by the unions ; but when the economic situation, resulted in awards being less favorable to the workers, they declined to accept them. When they have defied the law, have any representatives of Labour told them to go back to work? Does anybody imagine that industrial disaster will result from this very necessary reform contemplated by the Government? Much has been said by Labour about the Ministry having no mandate for the bill. With loud voices, honorable members opposite have been keeping up their courage, and declaring they would welcome an election. I can say emphatically that I at least have a mandate. It is the result of the Balaclava by-election at which I received a large majority in every subdivision. This is the only election in the federal sphere that has been fought since the arbitration, proposals of the Government have been brought forward. Labour did not care to put up. a candidate. Although there are from 18,000 to 20,000 Labour voters in the electorate, the independent Nationalist did not succeed in polling three-fourths of the Labour votes, let alone obtain any of the votes of the independents. This action of the Government was brought well to the fore at the election. The Prime Minister explained his intentions regarding federal arbitration, and he also referred to the John Brown case. My opponent, who fought very fairly, took the opposing side in the matter of arbitration, and his speeches were almost as well reported in the press as mine were, but he obtained only about 16,000 votes. So a bigger majority was gained under these circumstances by the Ministerial candidate than at the last federal election, when so worthy and illustrious a man as the Bight Honorable W. A. Watt was returned. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Does the honorable member believe what he is now saying? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Tes. And if the honorable member for Wimmera goes to the country again, the worthy candidate who opposed him last time will run him closely, and probably beat him, because of his extraordinary attitude to the Government. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- I was not returned as a supporter of the Government. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Of course, it is hard to predict the result of an election. The honorable member for South Sydney **(Mr. E. Riley)** referred to my advent to this chamber as an accident. The Balaclava figures should be an eloquent enough reply. The only accident is the presence of the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. Jones)** who will be one of the first of the Opposition to lose his seat. The attitude of Labour is naturally one of opposition to everything that the Government does. It will embarrass capital in any way it can. The attitude of honorable members opposite is so near the border line - {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- The pupil admonishing the schoolmaster! {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The pupil has been sadly disillusioned after hearing a great man for whom he has the utmost respect - the war time Prime Minister - pour forth venom and illogically oppose the very necessary reform that the Government has introduced. He submitted his amendment as a convenient way to avoid voting with the Opposition. In the same boat is the honorable member for Wimmera, a man whose political complexion before I entered this chamber I had great difficulty in deciding. He makes most inaccurate remarks. He said that the Government put ex-soldiers on the land, and not into factories; but he must know that hundreds of them have been placed in factories through the Repatriation Department. There is yet time for his enlightenment, and for him to decide definitely to move into one political camp or the other. The attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell),** whom I very much admire and revere, is to me inexplicable. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- It is courageous. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- That is so. I have never known a member on the Labour side to stand up against his own party. Perhaps the lawyer's mind sees in the proposed legislation some technicalities with which he cannot agree, and, because of legal straw-splitting, he is abandoning his party. Much has been said of the trouble that will be caused by interstate competition. Competition is essential to sound business, and competition between the States is both necessary and desirable. Indeed, there is interstate competition at the present time. We cannot have throughout this great continent the economic uniformity to which honorable members opposite attach so much importance. When the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court makes interstate competition more active, industries will migrate to their right geographical positions. In Victoria, the engineering genius of that great soldier, **Sir John** Monash, is engaged in the harnessing of electricity, and if, as a result of the advantages thus created, industry in that State is stimulated, that will be to the advantage of all Australia. Similarly, if Queensland can offer exceptional facilities for other special industries it should be allowed to have them and other States similarly. If honorable members will take the trouble to investigate the industries which are peculiar to the different States, they will certainly approve of this policy. I have been surprised at the manner in which the names of great men have been dragged into this debate as champions of this, that, and the other policy. Has the House forgotten the vitriolic criticism and political crucifixion of some of those men when they first brought forward the measures for which to-day they are enthusiastically commended? Arbitration, we are told by members of the Opposition, was one of the reasons for the federation of the States. It was only one of 39 reasons for federation, and the framers of the Constitution realized that it was only an experiment, although a great ideal lay behind it. That experiment is 25 years old; and the arbitration system is now rather patched and worn. Because the Government has the courage to say that the industrial mess should be cleared up, that men should not be kept in subsidized idleness by the unions, encouraged by members of the Opposition, and that the burden of overhead costs should he lifted from industry, it is bitterly assailed by the Opposition and by some of its own supporters. If time permitted, I could show that the present federal system of regulating industry does not operate uniformly. Other speakers have pointed out that there are only twelve awards of the Arbitration Court which have a Commonwealthwide application, that more State than Federal awards are in existence, and that more employees are under the jurisdiction of State tribunals than are under federal jurisdiction. Many of the specious arguments that have been advanced in opposition to the bill will not bear investigation. I hope that this debate will not prove to have been merely idle talk. The dawn is now breaking. Soon the division on the second reading of the bill will be taken, and I hope that when the measure is adopted, as it will be in spite of all efforts to frustrate it, it will mark the dawn of a new industrial era. I admire the courage of my leader and his colleagues in bringing forward this legislation. If they had not done so, they would have been recreant to their trust. I have great pleasure in supporting the second reading of the bill. {: #subdebate-16-0-s12 .speaker-JVT} ##### Mr NELSON:
Northern Territory -- The fine federal spirit displayed by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** has cleared away some of the mists that have been overhanging this bill. The honorable member would do away with the federal ideal and reintroduce interstate competition, border duties, and all the jealous and selfish conditions that characterized the bad old days which we had hoped were gone for ever. The honorable member was more candid than some of his colleagues and verified the suspicions of honorable members on this side of the House. Although his leader has said that wages will not be reduced as the result of this legislation, the honorable member for Balaclava says that they must be reduced. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I did not. I said that they might go up or down. {: .speaker-JVT} ##### Mr NELSON: -- Under a competitive system a reduction of wages is inevitable. The honorable member religiously refrained from endeavouring to explain the merits of the bill. I sympathize with him and the other members of his party who are in the invidious position of not being able to explain the legislation they are thrusting on the people. He said that the Government has a mandate for this proposal, and in support of that contention he referred to his election for Balaclava, one of the most conservative constituencies in the Commonwealth. Would the honorable member contest the electorate of Melbourne Ports as a supporter of this legislation? The bill is condemned by the poverty of the arguments advanced to justify it. a The statement that the Government has a mandate for it is the height of absurdity. It is well known that the Government went to the country pledged to the system of arbitration and gave no indication that it intended to wreck an industrial jurisdiction which had been built up gradually over a period of 25 years. On the contrary the Government assured the people that the Arbitration Act was to be tightened up and that it would compel obedience to the awards of the court. The AttorneyGeneral brought his legal knowledge to bear, and as has always happened when he has dabbled in industrial affairs, the existing arbitration system degenerated from bad to worse. The Government posed on the hustings as the champion of law and order; and if it received any mandate it was to make the industrialists obey the arbitration law. Having secured a further tenure of office, itproceeded to introduce a scheme of vindictive penalties which were put into operation against the worker immediately he offended against the arbitration law; but this legislation recoiled on the Government when it was faced with the necesssity for prosecuting one of its own friends, **Mr. John** Brown. He had undoubtedly committed a breach of the industrial law, and the Government had either to make a pretence of prosecuting him or withdraw the prosecution against the trade unionists. The Ministers have fallen down on their job, and this bill is a frank admission of their inability to regulate the industrial affairs of the country. We have never seen a more appalling demonstration of weakness on the part of any one. Ministers have said, in effect, "We cannot legislate industrially for the people of Australia, the job is beyond us; therefore we shall surrender it to the States ". If that is stable Government, God save Australia from a continuation of it. We are told that one reason for the abolition of the Arbitration Court is the need to remove dual control of industry. There is no dual control, because if - a Commonwealth law or award is in conflict with a law or- award of the State, automatically the former prevails. If the Government is so anxious to abolish overlapping, why does it not address itself to the income tax laws? They represent duplication of the worst type, but there is no proposal to abolish Commonwealth income taxation because it overlaps the State taxes. Despite what has been said to the contrary by the honorable member for Balaclava, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has established commercial equality throughout Australia. That is the object of the federal arbitration law. We have no need for parochial vendors of stinking fish; we want a united people animated *'by a.* national patriotism. The arbitration law is one means of giving effect to that ideal. The court should enable industry to find its level in all the States. It is not desirable that an industry enjoying especially favorable conditions in one State should be able to compete unfairly against similar industries in other States. The Constitution provides that there shall be no discrimination between States in respect of trade and commerce, but if the, wages in one State are reduced by 10 or 20 per cent, its industries must have an unfair advantage over all competitors. The Government said that this bill will establish one authority in industrial affairs. By no stretch of the imagination can industries throughout the Commonwealth be brought under one authority because no State, notwithstanding its sovereign rights, can. extend its jurisdiction beyond its own boundaries. As industry develops and becomes more federal in character the State courts will become powerless to interfere in any dispute of interstate extent. The States are not ready for this legislation. The Premier of Victoria, **Sir William** McPherson, has requested the Commonwealth Government to withhold its operation for some considerable time. He has admitted that his State has no machinery to carry on the work which the Government proposes to abandon. The Premier of New South Wales has said that he will do away with arbitration. In a work entitled, *A New Province for Law and Order,"* the late **Mr. Justice** Higgins told us that it was the intention not to confine this law to any particular trade or calling, but to make it national in character. The court was intended to benefit not only the workers, but also the producers. Here is an illustration of the benefits of the Commonwealth Court. It was not until 1913 that the Carters and Drivers Union commenced to function federally. Prior to that there were several serious strikes in the carting industry, but during the last thirteen years the court has prevented disputes from developing into strikes. Where is there a more striking testimony to the benefits of the court? There are transport workers all over Australia, hut this bill makes no provision for them, nor for workers in the territories of the Commonwealth. I know that there are seven or eight federal awards which are operating in the territories of the Commonwealth. This Government proposes to wipe all of those out of existence, and does not intend to provide any machinery to take their place. A federal award has never been broken in the Northern Territory. What action does the Ministry intend to take to protect the men there? The Government, in its eagerness to do something rash, will destroy the whole edifice of arbitration, and the States are not ready to meet the situation which must inevitably arise. I propose to make a few quotations to show what was in the minds of those who were responsible for the creation of this court. **Mr. W.** B. S. C. Sawers, speaking in the House of Representatives on the 28th June, 1901, said - >I have always regarded it as a misfortune that the Constitution Act did not provide that the question of conciliation and arbitration, and the regulation of wages and conditions of labour generally, should be left as matters for the sole control of the Federal Parliament. Those views were expressed during a speech delivered on the following motion moved by **Mr. H.** B. Higgins : - >That in the opinion of this House it is expedient for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to accept (if the State Parliaments see fit to grant it, under section 51, sub-section 37 of the Constitution Act) full power to make laws for Australia as to wages, hours and conditions of labour. In moving that motion **Mr. Higgins** said - >With freetrade between the States it will not work well to let one State have one set of laws regulating wages, hours and conditions of labour in that State, and to allow another' State to have another set of laws dealing with those subjects within its boundaries. **Senator Drake,** who was PostmasterGeneral at the time, said - >I am sure we all desire that, with regard to the laws relating to wages and the hours and conditions of labour, there should be uniformity amongst all tlie States. We can see very clearly that it will be necessarily to the disadvantage of some State or other if there is any considerable difference in the laws governing these important subjects. They realized that if we were to progress as a nation we must have uniform laws, so that traders and industrialists would be placed on an equal footing. **Senator Sir Josiah** Symon, of South Australia, said - >I am entirely in sympathy with the principle underlying this motion. It is exceedingly desirable in the interests of trade, and in the interests of the Commonwealth, that we should have absolute uniformity, as far as possible, where the conditions are uniform, in relation to everything that affects the material welfare of each of the States composing the Commonwealth. It was soon after the first Federal Parliament met that the late **Mr. Justice** Higgins (then **Mr. H.** B. Higgins), who was one of the first members, submitted the motion which I have just read providing that the Commonwealth Parliament should have full power to make laws dealing with wages, hours and conditions of labour. The procedure then proposed was that the State Parliaments should grant the power to the Commonwealth. The late Honorable A. Deakin, then Prime Minister, in a memorandum presented to Parliament on the 13th December, 1907, said - >To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of duties, while conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles is carried on differ so widely in the different States, would ibc to permit discrimination and discord. . . . Effective and useful as State industrial laws have in many cases proved, their operation is circumscribed by State boundaries, and it can hardly be claimed for then that they either do, or can, secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this. In a further memorandum presented on the 28th October, 1908, he said - >As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of protection must remain incomplete. **Sir Edmund** Burton, speaking to the motion moved by **Mr. Higgins** in June, 3901, said- >The grant of interstate freetrade, which follows tlie adoption of a uniform tariff, is likely in many respects to be crippled, unless the Commonwealth lias power to deal uniformly with the conditions of employment throughout Australia. The conditions of employment and the price of articles are inseparably interwoven, and these conditions and prices are also inseparable from the nature of the tariff, whether it operates externally only, or externally and internally among the States. Those are the words of **Mr. (afterwards Sir Edmund)** Barton, admittedly one of the finest of Australian statesmen. An examination of the political history of Australia will show that the best brains that we have produced have stood four-square to the conclusion that the supreme control of arbitration should be in the hands of the federal court. The Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral refused to carry out the law, because of partisan administration, and they decided to jettison the whole system. As the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** has truly said, the Government has no justification for scrapping the law just because there are offences against it. If that were the case with our criminal code, our laws would be at sixes and sevens. The Government, in sacrificing the federal arbitration system has given the country additional and positive evidence of its weakness in administration. Dealing with the basic wage, the late **Mr. Justice** Higgins said - >The first task I had to face was not, strictly speaking, conciliation or arbitration. The Federal Government imposed certain excise duties on agricultural implements manufactured, but it provided for the remission of the duties in the case of goods manufactured under conditions as to the remunerations of labour, which the president of the court should certify to be fair and reasonable. That was the spirit behind arbitration at that time. The legislators of. the Commonwealth granted concessions to employers on condition that they gave a fair living wage to their employees. It was on that basis that our arbitration court was established, and carried ou for twenty-five years. It is true that the operation of the court has not been satisfactory from all points of view. It has been unsatisfactory from an industrial point of view and particularly from the employers' point of view, but that is no justification' for scrapping our industrial legislation. Where are the legal brains and constructive ability of members sitting behind the Government, when they cannot rise to a situation like this? Cannot this legislation be amended so as to make it workable and equitable? The Government is not game to tackle the issue. The line of least resistance is to scrap this legislation in its entirety. Industrial chaos will arise from the act of the Government ; one does not need to be a prophet to foretell that. In the near future industrial disputes will be raging from one end of Australia to the other, and, with the abolition of the arbitration law, there will be no tribunals competent to handle the disputes. Honorable members behind the Government want to get back to the "good old days," the economic days. The honorable member for Martin **(Mr. Graham Pratten)** admitted