2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It has been intimated to me that His Excellency the Governordesignate of Tasmania will attend for a short time to-day to listen to our deliberations. I desire to inform the Senate that I propose, by its leave, to invite His Excellency to take a seat on the floor of the Chamber.
Honorable Senators. - Hear hear !
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– I shall be glad if my honorable and learned friend, instead of seeking the information in this manner, will allow me to deal with the question as I propose to do when the Bill comes up to the Senate.
– That will be satisfactory.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
” BLUEJACKETS AND LUMPERS.”
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
“BLUEJACKETS AND LUMPERS.
” Perth, Thursday. “ Considerable friction has been caused among the local lumpers owing to the bluejackets of H.M.S. Euryalus working the steamer Winfield, while coaling the war-ship. The matter is to be brought before the Federal and State Governments?”
– The matter has not yet been brought before the Government, as the telegram says is intended. I understand that if it is, the Government will make all necessary inquiries.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Supply Bill to pass through all its stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– On the motion for the first reading of the last Supply Bill, I found it necessary, in consequence of some remarks in the Senate, to make a statement with reference to certain matters with which my name had been connected. I thought that that would have been sufficient explanation, but as it has apparently not been deemed sufficient, and as the matter has been referred to more than once in another place, and in the press, I feel it my duty to speak a little more fully in order to show the absence, of any foundation for the accusation which has been made more against the Prime Minister than against myself. As my name has been coupled with the accusation, it is due to myself, to my constituents, and to the Senate, that I should offer some remarks. What I refer to is the allegation that a payment made to me years ago when a member of the New South Wales Parliament by the Prime Minister influenced my political action; in other words, that he offered me a consideration for support, and that I accepted it. When a reflection of the kind is made on the credit of any man, especially on the credit of a man who has been before the public of his country for twenty -five years, as a public servant, I think that some attention should be paid to the nature of the charge, and the date fixed for the alleged occurrence. I desire to speak: as briefly as possible. I shall make a few quotations from the New South Wales . Hansard, to show that Mr., now Sir William, Lyne, first mentioned this matter on the 30th August, 1899. He used these words -
On a critical vote on the 15th September, 1898, the honorable member for Paddington (Mr. Neild) was not present. It was on the 15th September, 1898.
It will be seen that he twice fixes the 15th September, as the date of this alleged occurrence. In the same speech he said -
It was shortly before the vote that the honorable member for Paddington spoke to me, and it was after the vote that certain interviews took place between the honorable member and the Prime Minister.
He says that I spoke to him before the 15th September, and that it was after that date the interviews between myself and the Prime Minister took place. How could interviews that took place after the vote affect the vote? I might almost be disposed to leave the matter at that point. But exactly one week after stating that it was the 15th September, Mr., now Sir William, Lyne, in the same debate, when he was replying, said -
The vote of censure on the Government took place on the 16th November, and we found the honorable member voting with the Government on that particular occasion.
So that he has already shifted the date by two months. He said that I voted with the Government, but in a subsequent speech on the 28th September, 1904, he used these words -
Upon a critical division one member of the New South Wales Parliament, who came into contact with the Prime Minister of that State,- changed his attitude towards the Government and abstained from voting against it. He did not vote.
So that we have two dates, and statements that the member for Paddington did vote, and did not vote.
– Well, that is not strange for Sydney.
– It was not strange, perhaps, for Sir William John Lyne. In another speech on the 29th September, 1904, he said -
Mr. Neild withdrew his opposition to the Government, and although he did not vote for them, he spoke in their support. The Government won by a majority of four.
Now, Ilansard, shows most conclusively that I did not speak on either occasion. It is quite true that on the first occasion I did not vote with the Government, through a mere accident in missing a cab which- had been sent out to my house. Living, as I do, three and a half miles from Parliament House, I missed the cab while I was at a charity entertainment amongst my constituents”, and that simply accounted for my not voting on that occasion. During their whole five years’ tenure of office, there was no occasion, except that one, when I did otherwise than vote with them, and on that occasion by a pure accident, I failed to be present. So that Sir William, or Mr., Lyne, makes these statements, first, that the vote of censure was on the 15th September, 1898; secondly, that it was on the 1 6th November, 1898; thirdly, that Mr. Neild did not vote with the Government; fourthly, that Mr. Neild did vote with the Government; fifthly, that Mr. Neild spoke in support of the Government on the 15th September, 1898, in the debate on the motion of censure ; and sixthly, that Mr. Neild did not speak on that occasion. I might be willing to leave the whole thing on the basis of the utter absurdity that a man making a charge cannot be telling the truth on every one of those different occasions. If a man makes charges of this kind with such absolute indifference to the truth of the facts that he does not know one date from the other, to the extent of two months, and cannot bring his statement into line anywhere I think that it is a very poor and very unworthy ground on which to base an effort to injure the reputation of either the Prime Minister or myself.
– Why resurrect New South Wales squabbles?
– I have not resurrected New South Wales squabbles, but when pages of Hansard, are filled with statements of the kind; statements which are not checked elsewhere, even on a point of order, it is my duty to myself, to the Senate, and to my constituents, and, indeed, to the whole people of Australia, so far as they are interested in the character of a public man - because, if I am returned by New South Wales. I am, nevertheless, the servant of the whole Commonwealth, which to that extent is interested in the honour of its representatives, no matter where they are elected - to make a reply. Here is another statement made by this romancing gentleman in- the same speech of 30th August, 1899 -
The honorable member for Paddington exhibited a direct change of front with regard to the Government on the very day that the honorable member was going to vote against the Government. It was on the 15th September, 1S98.
I have already shown that he said that it was after the vote that the interview took place, which he has supposed to have influenced me on the vote, but in the selfsame speech he said that it was on the very day of the vote. In another part of that speech he says it was after that vote that certain interviews took place between the honorable member and the Prime Minister. Later on in the same speech, he says -
On the 17th January of this year, 1899, after a consultation which the honorable member had in a certain place with the Premier, the honorable member for Paddington changed altogether.
It will be seen that in the same debate Mr., now Sir William. Lyne has given no less than three dates, namely, 15th September, 16th November, and 17th January. Two of the dates must be absolutely wrong. So that Sir William Lyne stands convicted of having made two statements which are more than inaccurate. Who is to say that the third date is to be believed? If a man makes these statements so recklessly that he does not care about ‘the truth of two out of the three, who is going to believe the third ? I, for one, am not.
– Where were the statements made - in the Federal Parliament, or in the New South Wales Parliament ?
– Unfortunately, the Standing Orders do not permit me to quote statements which have been made in the other House during the present session. But I suppose that I .shall not be out of order in saying that honorable senators will find the statements to which I am replying chronicled in Hansard of this session, however they got there. In a speech last month this honorable fictionist said - .
Upon a critical division, one member of the New South Wales Parliament, who came into contact with the Prime Minister of that State, changed his attitude towards the Government, and abstained from voting against it.
He has already said that I had voted for the Government.
I discovered some months afterwards that he had been paid the sum of ^350, and I have not the slightest doubt that that payment was responsible for his altered political’ altitude.’
That is a most distinct charge of corruption against the Prime Minister for offering the money, and against myself for accepting it. An interview with Sir William Lyne appeared in the Melbourne Age, of 29th September, 1904, Sir William Lyne speaks of -
A payment to Mr. (now Senator) Neild at a critical time, of a certain sum of money.
Will it be believed th’at this payment was not made on the 15th September, nor the 16th November, nor even the 17th January, but on the 19th January, under Cabinet authority ?
– Was not all this threshed out in the New South Wales assembly at the time?
– And did not the Government go out on it?
– Well’, was it not one of the reasons for their defeat?
– It was part of the matter on which they went out.
– That shows what the New South Wales Assembly thought of it.
.- That is a discreditable statement, coming as it does from an ex-Minister. After his experience he might at least have - I do not know whether I shall be wrong, in saying the decency, but, at least - the courtesy and common manliness to hear my statement before he makes a reply. So that according to Sir William Lyne, first, it was on the very day of the vote, 15th September, 1898, that Mr. Neild’s attitude changed; secondly, it. was after that vote; thirdly, it was on the 17th January, 1899, four months later; fourthly, it was when Parliament was not sitting, as will be seen from the following statement : -
Parliament was not sitting, and, unquestionably, such a payment should not have been made.
If the Parliament was not sitting, where was “the critical time” here spoken of? Fifthly, “the payment of -£350 altered Mr. Neild’s political attitude,” and sixthly, “the payment was not made till the 19th January, 1899.” So that the payment of the money on the 19th January altered my political attitude towards the Government on the previous 15th September. I desire to read two short extracts from speeches by
Mr., now Sir William, Lyne, in the New South Wales Assembly, on the 30th August, 1899-
The honorable member met me at the top of the stairs, and he told me on the eve of the vote of censure that he was going to vote against the Government.
More recently, the same person has said -
Mr. Neild had come to me and had stated that he was furious against the Government.
There is . a wide difference between .an accidental meeting, and going to give myself away to a gentleman to whom I had always been opposed in politics. As a matter of fact, these statements continue ,to be so widely contradictory that they are intolerable. Here is another statement of Sir William Lyne, made last month -
The member to whom I have referred visited England, and upon his return railed against the Government, and announced his intention of voting with the Opposition. As the result of an interview with the Premier, however, he did not vote. I suspected what had taken place, and accordingly I consulted the Auditor-General who showed me that ^350 had been paid to the honorable member in question.
I returned from England in April, 1897. Parliament met in May, and I supported the Government right throughout that session, as I had previously done. When Parliament was dissolved in 1898, I was lying at the point of death. The first meeting to promote my re-election - and I refer to this as showing the absolute absurdity of the allegation that I railed against the Government, and was opposed to them - was called by Mr. Reid personally. My friends and supporters; had not even formed a committee to secure my re-election. The Prime Minister visited my electorate, and made a speech on my. behalf. I propose to read a very short extract from the report of that speech, in order to show the terms which existed between Mr. Reid and myself, and the entire absence of any reason for his placating me, or making any effort to secure the good-will that was as strong between Mr. Reid and myself as ever it was between the head of a Government and a supporter. The extract which I shall read is taken from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 13th July, 1898. I shall quote the passage unabridged -
Fully 2,000 people attended the open-air meeting held opposite the Paddington Town Hall last night by the Premier in aid of Mr. J. C. Neild’s candidature, that gentleman being at present confined to his house by illness. . . . Mr. Reid, who, on rising, was received with cheers, said that he was pleased that the first speech he was to make out of his own electorate should be on behalf of Mr. Neild, than whom there was not a more independent member in Parliament. His illness he knew had been brought about by the arduous labour he had been engaged on for some time, of preparing what would be one of the ablest reports in existence with reference to the charitable relief systems in Europe, and a proper system of old-age pensions. This, he assured his hearers, was no electioneering statement, Mr. Neild having been commissioned eighteen months ago, when about to visit the old country, to make full inquiries into the way these things were managed, the Government recognising that he was a man of singular ability and industry, and that his report would be of great usefulness to the country. . . . Mr. Neild he recognised as one of the best men in Parliament, and in years gone by, when he was fighting the Dibbs Government’ from 1891 to 1894, Mr. Neild had been one of his staunchest lieutenants.
That was a speech made when even my medical’ attendant did not- know that I should live to be elected.
– It was good .enough to frank the honorable senator into heaven !
.- Yes, if the man who made the speech had held the keys ! I quote next from the Sydney Morning Herald of the same date -
The Premier, on rising to speak, was received with loud cheers. He said he was very glad to be there to speak on behalf of Mr. Neild, who was unable to be there himself on account of a very dangerous illness. (Cheers.) There had never been a more independent man in Parliament than Mr. Neild. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Neild’s illness had been brought about by the extreme labour of preparing what he (the Premier) believed would be one of the ablest reports in existence on the systems of charitable relief and old-age pensions. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Neild, in consequence of his parliamentary duties and his labours on that report, had been stricken down by one of the most serious illnesses a man could have. It was for that reason that he had come to Paddington to speak for Mr. Neild, who was one of the ablest men in the Parliament of New South Wales. (Hear, hear.) In years gone by Mr. Neild had been one of his staunchest Lieutentants, and Mr. Neild had done nothing to forfeit the confidence of the electors of Paddington (Cheers.)
If .honorable senators will cast their recollection back it will be seen that within two months of the making of that speech, which indicated the strong terms of personal regard and friendship existing between the present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and myself. Sir William Lyne had the remarkable effrontery-
– I will not say that, because I wish to restrict myself to language to which no exception can be taken. But I feel that a charge of this kind - made under such circumstancesconcerning one man whose reputation had never been assailed, who was alleged to have been busy bribing his friend to give a support which had never been withheld, and another man whose reputation had never been assailed, who was said to have accepted such a paltry consideration for a public fraud - ought to be completely refuted. I will give as briefly as possible an account of what these various motions of censure were. On the 8th September, 1898, Mr., now Sir William, Lyne moved a vote of censure to take the conduct of the Federal negotiations out of the hands of the Reid Government. On that vote, the Government had a majority of four. Except for my absence - due to the little accident to which I have referred-they would have had a majority of five. And I think I may add that for a man who has been in Parliament for twenty years, to have missed giving his vote on a motion of censure only once out of scores of occasions when he had the chance of voting on similar motions, is not a bad record. I did not speak on that motion, and, therefore, the statement of Sir William Lyne that I spoke one way and did not vote, or that I spoke one way and voted the other - -for he has made all these statements - do not contain a word of truth. Sir William Lyne spoke on the 8th and the 15th September, and he made no charge against me politically or otherwise. A fortnight after this vote of censure was moved a strange development took place. It was an unusual occurrence. Very many charges had been made against the Minister of Works in connexion with the byelection that brought Mr. Barton - now Sir Edmund Barton - back into the New South Wales Legislative Assembly after a lengthy absence. Those charges were of a serious character. On the 28th September- that is just within a fortnight of the first vote of censure - I took certain action in the Legislative Assembly. It was that action that brought upon rae the ill-will that has prompted these charges. I recognised that charges made against the Minister of Works ought not to be made unless supported “ by evidence, and on a motion of privilege I asked for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into them. Of course, this action “ trumped “ the hand of the Opposition, who were intending to bring forward another vote of censure. My motion for the appointment of a Select Committee was varied during the course of the debate. Sir William Lyne spoke twice, and although he charged me with trying to play the part of dry nurse to tine Government, and was very angry with me for “trumping” his ‘hand, because I spoiled his proposed vote of censure, he made no charges against me of any change of attitude, such as he has made since. As I have said, the motion underwent an alteration, with the result that the matters in question were inquired into by Mr. Justice Owen, of the New South Wales Supreme Court, sitting as a Royal Commission, who eventually presented a report entirely exonerating the Minister from the charges. But will it be believed that the man who now makes these charges against the Prime Minister and myself, actually asked the Legislative Assembly to censure the Government, and to put them out of office on account of the very things that were then the subject of an inquiry at the hands of a Supreme Court Judge at the instance of the House? The matters had been submitted to that tribunal by a majority of fifty votes. There were thus two more opportunities in the speeches which Sir William Lyne made on those occasions for him to make any allegations of change of front against me. But he did not make them. Instead of that, Tie makes them to the Federal Parliament four or five years after. Of course, on that vote of censure I spoke very strongly on behalf of the Government, or against the tactics that were resorted to in order to destroy the effect of the very inquiry which the House had ordered. Hansard shows, from the interjections which I made, that I was present until about 8 o’clock in the morning. At that time Mr. Reid himself paired me with the late Vice-President of the Executive Council, in New South Wales, Colonel Mackay, who had been taken suddenly ill, and who wanted’ a pair. Mr. Reid knew that he had a fair hand, and he gave a pair. Consequently I went home at 8 o’clock in the morning. That was the end of Sir William Lyne’s votes of censure for the year. But November came along, and Sir Edmund Barton tabled a vote of censure. That was moved on the 15th November, and was settled on the 16th. On that occasion I did not speak at all, but I voted with the Government. Nothing more happened until 1899, when, on the 23rd August, action was taken - not by Sir William Lyne, the purist, who now wishes to pose as the champion of parliamentary and political purity, but by a. member of the Labour
Party. Mr. Edden. He moved a straightout vote on account of the payment by the Government of £550, expenses out of pocket to me as a Royal Commissioner. He did not want an inquiry. He did not want to know’ the truth of the matter. He simply moved that my seat should be declared vacant. But what did Sir William Lyne do? He actually voted against declaring my seat vacant, and carefully held his tongue, not having a word to say ! The seat was not declared vacant. There was an overwhelming majority against the motion - I think a majority of 71. But the matter was sent to the members of the Elections and Qualifications Committee, which as you, Mr. President, are aware, is appointed by the Speaker’s warrant. But for this occasion the Elections and Qualifications Committee was appointed a special Committee, so that the House could afterwards have a peck at its report if it desired to do so. So that virtually there was a double election of this committee of inquiry - first by the Speaker’s warrant, and secondly by the unanimous vote of the House. I gave my voice with the ayes for the appointment of the Committee. I will deal further with that matter later on, but I wish first to finish with these extraordinary accusations of Sir William Lyne. The Committee presented to Parliament an unanimous report in my favour. The accusation was that I had forfeited my seat by accepting a sum of money, but the Committee, by a unanimous finding, declared that I had not done so. But on the very day that the reportwas presented, viz., 30th August, 1899,. Sir William Lyne moved the following motion : -
That the present Government does not possess the confidence of this House.
This was the first time Lyne made any accusation against me. He used the following words : -
On a critical vote, on .the 15th September, 1898, the honorable member for Paddington was not present. It was shortly before that vote that the honorable member for Paddington spoke to me, and it was after that vote that certain interviews took place between the honorable member and the Prime Minister. It was on the 15th September, 1898. Then this came afterwards. On the 17th January of this year (1899), after a consultation which the honorable member had in a certain place with the Premier, the honorable member for-Paddington changed altogether.
What a contradiction ! Who can make head or tail of it? Such a tissue of contradictions would not do in a law court. A week later, on the 7th September, 1899, he used these words : -
The vote of censure on the Government took place on the 16th November, and we found the honorable member voting with the Government on that particular occasion.
I have already shown that Hansard proves that I did not vote with the Government on the 1 6th November. I paired. I say this : No one in the New South Wales Parliament was more responsible than myself for the appointment of Mr. Reid as leader of the Opposition on the retirement of Sir Henry Parkes. Somebody generally works these things, and I worked them on that occasion. Is it to be supposed that I should work things of that kind and then not vote with Mr. Reid, or that I should be found not voting at all when his Government was in danger ? By the ordinary process of things I took a very active part, as I have said, in supporting Mr. Reid as leader of the Opposition, and I have already shown from the passage I have read that he stated I was one of his staunchest lieutenants all the time he was leader of the Opposition. Hansard shows that all the time he was a Minister I was equally staunch in my support. Of course, we had many minor differences. Mr. Reid has publicly .said that I kept him and his Ministry out of bed night after night. I did criticise them when I thought they were wrong on matters of detail, and I fought them on many points. But that did not make us worse friends. No true man objects to honorable opposition, but he does object to slander, and he does object to character assassination - which represents about all the courage which some people are capable of mustering. Sir William Lyne spoke on the 8th September, 15th September, twice on the 28th September, on the 5th October, on the 7th October, on the 15th ‘ November - in all seven occasions in 1898 - and not once did he accuse me of any change in my attitude, although we were politically fighting one another all the time. When it was proposed to send th~e matter to the Select Committee there was another opportunity to speak, but Sir William Lyne held his peace, and voted against declaring the seat vacant. Later on, when the report of the Committee was produced, there was a debate, but Sir William Lyne did not speak even then, though he voted against the reading of the report, it having been publicly stated in the
Chamber that the finding was unanimously in my favour. This Committee examined ten witnesses on oath, and their decision was that -
That John Cash Neild, Esquire, has not accepted an office of profit within the terms of the Constitution Act Amendment Act of 1884.
That report was brought up on the 30th August, 1899, and I have shown that Sir William Lyne spoke seven times on matters relating to votes of censure, and had three other opportunities to speak, of which he did not avail himself. Therefore, apart from all the forms of the House, he had no fewer than ten opportunities to draw attention to this matter, but did not choose to do so. And why? Because he had no occasion - because there was no truth in the proposition. It was not until the 30th August, 1899 - or no less than fifty weeks after the date on which he now declares I changed my attitude - that Sir William Lyne uttered one word. He says that he found out by inquiring from the AuditorGeneral that the payment had been made. But payments from the Treasurer’s Advance Account in New South Wales are published monthly, and he would have no difficulty in ascertaining the facts from the Government Gazette. The money was paid on 19th January, 1899, and Sir William Lyne indicates that the inquiries of which he speaks were made soon afterwards. Parliament met for a. ten days’ session on the nth April, 1899, and sat till’ the 21st of that month, dealing with Federation. But questions’ were asked on all sorts of topics, and though Sir William Lyne asked no fewer than eight, he never mentioned this matter. Then Parliament met for its ordinary session on the 18th July, 1899, and again Sir William Lyne made no mention of the subject. It was not until the 23rd August, or six weeks after the meeting of Parliament - at least six months after he must have known, of the payment - that he referred to it. If any honorable senator, or any other person, who reads the report of my statement this afternoon, can. see the smallest, even the most grotesque aspect of truth in such a medley as that .uttered by Sir William Lyne, I cannot think much of the” intellect of the reader. I want to run over as briefly as I can the facts of the case. I have devoted myself to utterly destroying in the mind of any .sentient Being any idea of truth in this verbal harlequinade.
– I should like to hear Senator Zeal if he were in the chair now.
.- I think Senator Zeal would be as courteous to a fellow senator defending his character from a gross, reckless, and wicked assault, as I believe my colleagues in this Chamber are. To deal with the facts briefly, I may say that when I was returned at the general elections in July, 1895, I opposed a gentleman who was alleged to be standing more in the interests of the Government than I was. I put forward as the second plank in my platform the question of oldage pensions, this being the first introduction of that proposal into New South Wales politics. I was returned, and in the first and second sessions I brought the matter of old-age pensions before the House on motion. It was shortly after the second motion that Mr. Reid sent for me and said, “ I understand you are going to England?” I replied that it was probable I should go, and Mr. Reid asked me to accept an authority on behalf of the Government to inquire into the matter of old-age pensions in Europe. I accepted that authority as honorary commissioner, and I discharged my duty. I have already stated that the question of whether the payment of this money to me vitiated my seat was referred to a Select Committee, and I shall make one or two extracts from the. report of that Committee, which can be found in the Library. In reply to question 151 I said -
In July, 1898, I received a note from Mr. Reid, the Premier, asking me to call and see him at the Treasury. Upon calling, Mr. Reid said he understood I was likely to visit England, and asked if I was willing to make inquiries there regarding the question of old-age pensions. I consented, conditionally upon being properly accredited by commission. It was distinctly understood that I was to receive neither emoluments nor expenses of any kind.
In answer to question 280 Mr. Reid said -
I invited him (Neild) to act for the Government in obtaining for us some information upon the subject during his visit to Europe.
Mr. Reid goes on to say that a commission was issued to me, with the complete understanding that I was to receive no allowance of any kind in connexion with my inquiries. The answer to question 155 shows that after my report was completed in draft Mr. Reid obtained a copy, I suppose from the Government Printer, and, surprised at the magnitude of the work, which consists of nearly 600 pages, he expressed himself as shown in my evidence : -
He asked my concurrence in placing a sum - I think it was ^’500 or ^600 - upon the Estimates to recoup my outlay, and in some way a portion of that amount was to be a recognition of laborious service in preparing the report.
In answer to question 293, Mr. Reid said : -
I was simply astounded at the amount of labour and research which must have been thrown into the work. I told Mr. Neild, after looking into it, that, in my. opinion, the Government should cer’tainly put a sum of money upon the Estimates in recognition of his work.
Then the evidence proceeds at question 294, as follows : -
Did you make that statement voluntarily ? - Decidedly. 295. There was no approach from him? - Absolutely none. Mr. Neild, from the time I appointed him to make the inquiry, down to the time I broached the subject of recognition, absolutely, in no shape or form, in the most remote or indirect way, hinted to me that he was looking for a single penny. 296. Did any one do so on his behalf ? - No human being approached me, neither Mr. Neild nor any one else - to suggest in any way that an i sort of reward, recognition, or payment should be made to him.
The proposal made to me by Mr. Reid was, according to the sworn evidence, made about the end of October, or the first two days in November, 1898, at a time when there was no adverse motion against the Government pending or talked of. There were no Supplementary Estimates that year, and so Mr. Reid’s intention was not carried out. Parliament was prorogued on the 23rd December, 1898, without any sum having been voted, and on the 15th January, 1899, I. wrote to Mr. Reid as may be seen on page 10 of the report of the Select Committee. The letter was produced by the Under-Secretary to-the Treasury, and read, as follows : -
My Dear Mr. Reid,
Reverting to your intention to place upon the Supplementary Estimates a sum in recognition of my report on old-age pensions, charities, and State insurance, and, in view of the fact that need for such Estimates did not otherwise arise, may I beg that you will be so kind as to fulfil your intention in another way, viz., by making me an advance of, say, ^350 to recoup some of the expenses actually incurred by me in connexion with the work, and leave the balance to be voted in. the next Estimates. Believe me, &c, j no. C. Neild.
According to the evidence of the UnderSecretary to the Treasury, this letter dated 15th January was minuted on the 16th by Mr. Reid, as follows : - “ For Cabinet. - G.H.R.” It was in sworn evidence that the
Cabinet met on the next day, the 17 th, and the proposal being approved of, the sum of ,£350 was paid into my credit at my bankers on the 19th January. As I have already pointed out, Parliament had not been sitting since the 23rd of the previous month, and, in the ordinary course, would not sit again until the month of July. Where, in the name of common-sense, was the “ critical period “ which Lyne has alleged existed ? Could there be any influence on a vote in the manner suggested by Sir William Lyne? Now as to the repayment of the money. I learn from the evidence of the Prime Minister himself, as reported on page 21 of the report, that if Parliament refused to vote the money paid, I should be called upon to refund, and failing myself,, the members of the Ministry would have to make good the amount. With such a statement before me, what course but the one I took was open to me? As soon as the Select Committee unanimously decided that my seat should not be vacated - that I had committed no breach of the law - what did I do? I paid the money back into the Treasury. My inquiries cost me £1,200, and I received ,£350 towards the expenses of obtaining the information, and preparing what is recognised by the highest authorities, from his present Majesty downwards, on both sides of the Atlantic, as being the most exhaustive work extant on the subject of Old-age Pensions, State Insurance, and Continental Charities. New South Wales has never paid me for the documents which I had to purchase. Government publications are not obtained so easily in England and on the Continent as they are in Australia, there being no Government Printing-offices to which one can apply. I had in the most devious ways to obtain :hose documents, and for many cf them I had to pay considerable ‘ sums through foreign bankers. Accredited as I was in the most complete manner under the Great Seal’ of New South Wales, I even then could not obtain those documents without much trouble and expense, as could be easily proved by a copy of my acco nit at the bank in London-. If it had not been for the good offices of the manager of the Bank of New South Wales in London I could not have obtained much of the information and documents I did obtain. While the New South Wales Parliament have, through their Public Service Board, paid j£i8o 5s. for the translation of the documents, money has never been found to pay me for the documents that were translated.
I have almost finished, and if I am a little lengthy I hope I shall be forgiven by my comrades of the Senate. But I wish to deal with this matter once and for ever. One gentleman, Mr. Falconer, was paid ^39, and the Government Interpreter was paid .£141 5s. through the Public Service Board, for the work of translation. I have already stated that the Select Committee reported unanimously in my favour, and that the report was read in the Legislative Assembly. There the matter ended on the 30th August, 1899, and was never heard of again until resurrected in the Federal Parliament for the purpose of damaging the Prime Minister. I recognise that the Prime Minister, and not myself, is the person attacked, and that fact is also recognised by the right honorable gentleman himself. But still by implication I am charged, and while I know it is difficult to follow a lot of dates and quotations, I am satisfied that my statement this afternoon gives the most absolute contradiction to the revival, either against the Prime Minister or myself, of this discreditable party scandal - I may say slander, because “scandal” is not strong enough.
– Tactics may be decent. This slander is indecent. My statement would be incomplete without one further reference to the long-established practice in New South Wales of paying outofpocket expenses to members of Royal Commissions who are also members of Parliament. Taking the first Royal Commission which comes to my mind - that relating to water conservation, pf which this romancing spatterer of verbal mud, Sir William Lyne, was chairman - I find that his expenses did not amount to ^350 for two years’ work, half of it at the other end of trie world, but to -^734 os. 4d. That sum stands in juxtaposition to the expenses of another member of Parliament on the same Commission, who drew the humble sum of ^140, or nearly £600 less than that drawn by the very man who makes this rumpus and slandering reference to a sum of money paid for the honour of the country by the Prime Minister with the approval of the Cabinet. It may be said that the Committee only inquired into the legal question of whether or not my seat was vacant, and that it never considered the morality of the payment, but, as a matter of fact, it went far beyond the scope of its instruction. It inquired back for a period of twenty years to ascertain what had been the practice in regard to .the payment of members’ expenses as .Commissioners. If the debates on this matter be referred to, it will be found that for over twenty years there had never been in power a Ministry that had not paid the outofpocket expenses of Members of Parliament as Commissioners.
– That practice was common all through the Colonies. .
– As my honorable friend says, it was common all through the Colonies, and no one has received a much larger sum for this purpose than has Sir William L,ne. When I was Executive Royal Commissioner for New South Wales, at the Adelaide Exhibition, where I had the honour of meeting you, sir, and Senator Playford, for the first time, I drew between .£600 and ,£700 for outofpocket expenses during my residence there for nine or ten months, and the morality of the matter was never questioned.
– Why did the honorable senator pay back this money if it was so right and proper to receive it ?
– When I heard Mr. Reid’s evidence that if Parliament did not vote the money, I should be called upon to refund it, and .that if I did not, the Government would have to make it good. I paid it back at once. Would any man hold money under such conditions, when persons were clamouring for the blood of the Ministry ? I preferred to pay it beforehand, rather than afterwards. There was not a hope of that Parliament, considering its humour, voting the money, because in the interim there had been all the fuss about Federation, party feeling ran very high, and Mr. Reid was turned out of office, as he will admit, chiefly on his attitude in supporting the Convention Bill.
– The fact that 236,000 electors voted for the honorable senator is a sufficient answer to Sir William Lyne.
– But people do not always put things together as my honorable friend does. I quite admit that a vote of 200,000 odd from my fellowcitizens - and I suppose it is the largest vote that has ever been cast for a resident in the British Empire - ought to be a sufficient answer. No doubt others who will come after me will lower my record ; still at the present time I suppose that a vote of that magnitude, especially in the circumstances in which it was given - with a mere bagatelle of expenditure - might be, as my honorable friend says, a sufficient refutation. But these statements have appeared in thepages of Hansard and the press, and people do not, like politicians, always look to the antidote ; they are satisfied to see the bane. Perhaps the most remarkable thing I can say is that on the very evening that Sir William Lyne made these statements in another place, accusing me in this manner, I met him in the Queen’s Hall, and he had the surprising audacity to tender me his hand, when I, knowing nothing of what had transpired, took it. If he believed that I had been guilty of the corruption he had implied, what sort of a man was he to offer me his hand? Until the end of last month he and I had been such good friends that, though at the time of the first Federal election I was offered unlimited expenses if I would- only go and oppose him, I declined. Not that I was afraid of being beaten, because a man absolutely unknown to politics ran him within about 230 votes. When the offer was made to me I asked, “ If a man did you a good turn would you set your dog on him?” and the gentleman who was interviewing me said, “ No, I would not.” I remarked, “ Lyne did me a good turn once on an unimportant matter, and I am not going to set my dog on him.” I forgave him the attack upon me in the New South Wales Assembly, recognising that he was under the strain of a great temptation in the hope of becoming Premier, not only of New South Wales, but of the Commonwealth. He very nearly won both positions. He became Premier of New South Wales, and he had the opportunity of becoming Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, if he had only been able to obtain colleagues, because he was the first gentleman commissioned by the GovernorGeneral to form an Administration. Recognising that he was under the strain of a great temptation, I think it was a fairly generous act on my part that I forgave him the wrong and forgot it. I remained on most friendly terms with him until the other night. I do not suppose that we shall ever be on friendly terms again.
Honorable Senators. - No, no.
– Is that worthy of the honorable senator?
.- I do not know whether my honorable friend is in the position of having children, whose father’s good name will be of some value to them when he is dead.
– Yes; that is another aspect to be considered.
.- I am able to stand here where I have the right of free speech, and can defend myself, but I have to consider my family, and I should’ be worse than recreant if I did not do what I have done this afternoon. I have been compelled to do it, and it has been a much greater strain on my feelings than it has been on .the courtesy of my fellow senators to listen to me. No true man cares to speak at. such length as I have been compelled to do with reference to his own affairs. To me it has been a most painful task, but whether it was needful in the estimation of some, or not needful in the estimation of others, I was determined that I would deal with the whole story from start to finish, expose its fallacies, prove its absolute contradictions, deny its truth, and deal with it once and for ever.
– I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to call attention to a paragraph in- Division No. 44 of the Estimates. It will be remembered that last July I moved a request to alter the phrase “ Imperial Government “ in the Supply Bill to the phrase “ The Government of the United Kingdom,” which is the legal way of defining the Government of Great Britain and Ireland. It will also be remembered that Senator Dawson, the Minister of Defence, while agreeing with me, asked me to withdraw my motion, and undertook that thereafter the accurate phrase should be used. I do not propose to do more than call the attention of the Attorney-General to the fact that the present Government has deliberately ignored that undertaking. I hope that before the Appropriation Bill comes up, he will take steps to see that that Ministerial pledge to the Senate is made effective.
– Senator Neild was quite entitled to take this convenient opportunity of dealing with what, we must all admit is a very grave imputation against, not only’ the political, but the personal honour of a member of the Senate. Not only is it an imputation of that character, but it is probably the most terrible, if it has any foundation, which could be made against any man, for it is a charge of absolute personal corruption. What it amounts to is simply that the honorable senator whilst a member of another Parliament has sold his vote. Therefore he was quite en titled to take the opportunity, occupying a. time which some may have thought waslengthy, but which, in my judgment, wasnot too long, in order to deal with the subject exhaustively, finally, and for good. I think we shall all join in hoping that thismendacious ghost has now been laid foi ever. We, in this Chamber, are not open to the imputation of often doing what I think is extremely blameworthy, and that is going back for years and years, wandering amongst the political tombstones of the States, and replenishing our armoury of weapons for personal attack by digging up the stale memorials of the past. I think that such conduct is distinctly deplorable, and I believe that I express the sentiment of every one here, when I say that although there are occasions when past records and past fights may be referred to, it is greatly overdone, and there ought to be some kind of statutory limitation in relation to these matters, which are personal rather than political. They concern individuals, and it is not in the best interests of this country that they should be introduced in our debates. Referring to what, if I may be allowed to say, is a matter of inferior consequence, because I do not attach quite the degree of significance and importance which Senator Matheson does to the use of the word “ Imperial ‘ ‘-
– What about the Ministerial undertaking? That is the point at the present moment - continuity.
– My honorable friend’s appeal to me to-day has so moved me that I shall take the earliest opportunity of looking at the undertaking and giving the fullest consideration to it.
– Allow me to provide the honorable and learned’ senator with the report?
– I am much obliged to my honorable friend, whose courtesy is always remarkable and always appreciated. But I should like to ask whether he desires, in order to make this correction, that the whole of the Estimates shall be reprinted. I am sure that he does not wish that.
– But they will come up in the form of a Bill.
– I would suggest to my honorable friend that .this mere description, even if it were erroneous, of the hand which is to receive the contribution from Australia, is really of small consequence, so long as it does indicate that hand. At any rate, it does not seem to me of quite the same importance as the matter referred to in debate on the Bill in which I shared a year ago took place. The question of whether the contribution is to be made is one thing, and the description - which we all understand - of the hand which is to receive it, is of less importance. I shall take care to look at the undertaking, and I am obliged to my honorable friend for the reference to it in Hansard. I can assure him that I shall take care that due attention is given to his representations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (AttorneyGeneral - South Australia). - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill contains no controversial items; and we hope at a very early date to have the Estimatesbefore us, when every matter of public expenditure may be considered. It is due to the Senate to say that the only increments which are going to be paid are those to officers receiving salaries up to£160. All the other increments are , held in- abeyance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General what items are covered by the sum of , £5,000 for “ refunds of revenue”? .
– A question was asked in regard to this matter when. Senator McGregpr was leader of the Senate, and he explained it very fully. Probably my honorable and learned friend was not here on that occasion. Generally, the vote referred to includes the moneys which come into the revenue through the necessities of administration. For instance, in connexion with the Post Office, a person may buy a large quantity of stamps - say a few pounds’ worth - and afterwards find that he does not want them all. He brings them back and the Post Office pays for them, deducting a percentage, or commission. There is. consequently, a refund of revenue. It is a departmental refund.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st October (vide page 5936), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The eventful Bill which is now before the Senate, is a measure of considerable importance, but I am sorry to say that I am one- of those who would rather see it go into the waste-paper basket, than be placed upon the statute-book in its present form. Yet, I can congratulate the leader of the Senate upon the speech in which he introduced it. That speech dealt generally with the main principles of arbitration, rather than with the details of the Bill, and no more eloquent tribute to the value of arbitration has been given in the Senate. It is a singular coincidence that the first time I had the pleasure of listening to the Attorney-General, was on an occasion when, as the result of a strike, some workmen had rightly or wrongly to stand before the Bar of Justice to answer to the charge of having assaulted other men who had taken the places of those who were on strike. I well remember the eloquent terms in which the honorable and learned senator defended those men. So eloquent indeed was his speech that they were discharged as not guilty.
– In what year was that?
– I am referring to a case that arose at Port Adelaide in connexion with the maritime strike. I mention that merely to show that the AttorneyGeneral has had an intimate acquaintance with strikes. Although the members of his profession do not go out on strike he knows the necessity for such a measure as this. Therefore, his words on the principle of arbitration, carry considerable weight with me. I was pleased to notice that the AttorneyGeneral used no threats in introducing the Bill. It is commonly reported that the Government may take certain action if certain things eventuate. I am pleased that the Attorney-General so well recognised the powers and rights of the Senate that he did not attempt to threaten us with what might happen if we took a certain course. But another honorable senator took upon himself the role of stern parent, and threatened the Senate with what would happen if we ventured to exercise the powers conferred upon us by the people of Australia.
– I did not threaten any one; I simply expressed my own opinion.
– The only observation made by the Attorney-General, which in any way approached a threat, was his’ statement that this Bill, having wrecked two Governments, might wreck a Parliament. I venture to say that honorable senators on this side of the House have no cause to fear if the Bill should wreck a Parliament. We should welcome the wreck of a Parliament rather than see the trade unions of Australia wrecked by means of this measure.
– The Bill would not do that.
– Are the trade unions likely to be wrecked by this Bill?
– If the Bill is passed in its present form any unions that registered under it would stand a very good chance of being wrecked.
– Then the honorable senator had better vote to throw it out.
– I have said that I would rather see it placed in the wastepaper basket than on the statute-book in its present form. Another honorable senator to whose speech I listened with very great interest was Senator’ Matheson. He paid a tribute to the principle of arbitration in industrial affairs, not merely as a politician, but as one who has large interests in enterprises which are at present being worked under an award of the Arbitration Court in the State of Western Australia. Senator Matheson has had an intimate acquaintance with that measure, and his speech on the subject is a sufficient answer to those who tell us that a Bill of this description would drive capital from the country. Senator Matheson is the representative of a large amount of capital, and as the result of his experience of the Western Australian Arbitration Act, he is prepared to vote for a Federal measure. I wish to deal briefly with the position taken up by Senator Smith. Practically his position is “Hands off this Bill.” He says that we must leave it as it is. He has pictured the consequences that will ensue if we attempt to alter it in any particular.-
– I said that we should not make any radical alterations.
– The honorable senator said that the Government would drop the Bill, and that there is a possibility of a disastrous strike in some of the indus tries that would be affected by it, the responsibility for which would rest upon those who attempted to alter the measure. _ I: take it that that is a distinct threat to those who are prepared to alter this Bill in any particular which is hostile to the wishes of the Government.
– How can any honorable senator threaten the Senate?
– I have stated what Senator Smith said. His remarks were a threat in this respect - that they were an attempt on his part to place on the shoulders of honorable senators on this side of the chamber the responsibility for his own inaction in this matter.
– The honorable senator is attempting to- take me to task for expressing my own opinions. Senator PEARCE.- Senator Smith has a perfect right to express his opinions, but in saying that the responsibility for the effect of a strike would rest on those who would alter this Bill he is endeavouring, by means of a’ threat, to prevent us from making certain proposals. If he has no objection 10 our making amendments, why tell us that if we move in certain directions certain contingencies will flow from our action? It seemed to me that his speech was a distinct attempt to influence us in the direction of accepting the Bill as it stands.
– Does not the honorable senator think that his expression of opinion comes to very much the same when he says that if his party cannot get what they want the Bill will go into the waste-paper basket ?
– I dp not say that it will go into the waste-paper basket; I say that I would rather see the Bill put into the waste-paper basket- than passed in its present form. Do .the Government intend to resign if the Bill is put into the waste-paper basket?
– Will the honorable senator permit us to consider that when the contingency arises?
– It will not take much consideration.
– We wish to get the Bill on the statute-book in as good a form as we can.
- Senator Smith holds that as it stands, it is a workable measure. First of all, he seemed to agree that preference to unionists in some form is desirable. I am glad that he recognises so much, because it is undoubtedly the case that an Arbitration Act without a section providing for efficient preference to unionists - or as I prefer that it should be called an efficient protection to unionists - is a vehicle of tyranny. Because an arbitration law not only confers rights upon organized workers j it takes something from organized workers. It takes from them the right to strike. It makes a strike a criminal act. If you take from organized . workers the right to strike - and remember “that we must have organizations in order to police the Bill, anc! put it into operation - if those organizations take upon themselves the responsibility of carrying out the Bill, and if the members of ,the organizations incur the expense of financing them, they should be protected against being placed in an invidious or unfair position, as compared with non-unionists. If this is a desirable measure, surely Parliament should see that the men who make it workable by forming organizations should not be victimized because of their action. Senator Smith said that the Bill as it stands is quite workable. The preference clause provides that the union asking for preference should prove that they represent a majority of the workers who will be affected by an award of the Court.
– That is impossible.
– Of course.it is impossible. Take the shearing industry as an example. It extends all over Australia. There are thousands of men who would be affected by an award dealing with that industry. Those men do not all follow the occupation of shearing throughout the year. Many of them work at shearing only for two or three months together. Some of them work in twos and threes. How would it be possible to show that the majority of the men engaged in shearing, and who would be affected by an award, were in the union? In order to prove it there would have to be a census of those engaged in the industry, and who would be affected by an award. Even then, no one could be sure that the census was an accurate one, because there are a large number of men who enter the occupation every year and who were not engaged in it previously, just as there are a number of men who leave the occupation which they have followed previously. Therefore it would be necessary to take a census every year, so that if a dispute should occur and preference to unionists be asked for, those asking for it would be able to prove to the Judge that a majority of those working in the industry were in the union asking for preference. Honorable senators recollect the difficulties that occurred in connexion with the compilation of the Federal rolls. In compiling those rolls there was no such difficulty as would be encountered in picking out a certain section of workers. Thecompilers of the rolls, simply had to take every person over the age of twenty-one, and place his or her name upon them. Yet it was discovered that thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth who were qualified, had their names omitted from the rolls. If that was the case when rolls were compiled by a powerful Government that had unlimited funds and the assistance of the police of the States, how could it be expected that a voluntary organization like a trade union could, with its limited resources, take a census of the persons following a certain occupation, in order to prove to the satisfaction of a judicial tribunal that it represented a majority of those who would be affected by the award? Can any one, therefore, say that the proposal of this Bill giving preference to unionists is practicable ?
– -Why not accept Mr. Glynn’s suggestion that there should be organizations purely for the purposes of this measure?
– The objection to that is, that the organizations in existence have been developed and brought to their present position as the result of years of labour and sacrifice. They are asked to throw aside all the results of their years of work, to undo all that they have done, and to commence to build up fresh organizations in order to carry out this measure.
– We do not wish to interfere with the unions, but we do not desire that they shall interfere with us.
– I said that without preference to unionists this Bill would in its operation become a tyranny. It would take away from the trade unionists of Australia the right to strike, without conferring on them any protection against their employers victimizing them, simply because they are unionists. Something has been said during the debate about public opinion in England on this question. There has been an attempt to make capital out of the fact that the Trades Union Congress in the old country, has, for several years in succession, rejected motions in favour of this principle. It has been made to appear that the trade unions took that action because they do not believe in compulsory arbitration. I could describe the correct position from memory, but I have gone to some trouble to obtain documents which show the reasons which animated the trade unions. At page 193 of the Annual Register, for 1900, we find, in reference to the Trades Union. Congress of that year : -
The resolution in favour of compulsory arbitration was rejected by the Trades Union Congress by 939,000 card votes to 246,000. The overpowering strength of the opposition to this proposal was very possibly due to Mr. Justice Farwell’s decision in the Taff Vale case a few days previously. ‘
That was the first time a motion of the knd was brought forward by Mr. Ben Tillet, after his visit to Australia and New Zealand, during which he was converted to the principle. The Congress met a few days subsequently to the decision in the Taff Vale case, which meant a complete revolution in trade unionism in England. That decision put a different complexion on the position of trade unions before the law ; and, in the minds of trade unionists, showed clearly a distinct bias on the part of the Judges against them as a class, and against trade unionism as an institution. The trade unionists in that view may be wrong; I am’ not prepared to say that they are right. But whether they are right or wrong, the fact is that the workers in England have taken the view that the decision is registered against them, not as a matter of law, but as a matter of prejudice and bias. At page 214 of the Annual Register, of 1902, there is the following : -
The Trade Union Congress, held in London in the first week in September, calls for some brief notice. Reference is then made to the Taff Vale case, and the feeling being that the general attitude of the upper and middle-class public opinion was unfavorable to the claims of organized labour. The result of this feeling showed itself in the discussion and vote on a resolution for compulsory arbitration in trade disputes. It appeared that among the members of the Congress there was an impression that any Arbitration Court that might be set up by law would go against the workman by reason of the “ class “ or “ political “ bias attributed to the Judges, who would naturally be asked to preside. The vote showed 961,000 against 303,000 for.
That Congress followed another decision on the Taff Vale case by the House of Lords. The decision of Justice Farwell was dissented from, and the case eventually found its way to the House of Lords, where that Judge’s decision was upfield. All through those two .years there had been heated discussion in trade union circles on the Taff
Vale case, and as bearing on trade unionism. One of the oldest trade unions in England had suffered financial loss as a result of the decision which followed the judgment of Mr. Justice Farwell. Can we wonder that those men who were treated, as they thought, unjustly 6y these decisions, because of the bias of the Judges, should reject the motion to take away from them the right to strike, and to hand over to those same Judges the right to fix the conditions under which the workers should live?
– The authority of the honorable senator says that that was possibly the view of the decision.
– That is the opinion of the official recorder of the Congress, but there is no doubt that it represents the opinion of the people, not only in England, but in America.
– It is difficult to speak for 900,000 minds.
– While we recognise that this measure in its present form is not satisfactory, I urge the Senate that some such measure is absolutely necessary. There is no doubt that we are liable to great convulsions in the industrial world, such as a maritime strike would represent. It would be well for honorable senators who are, perhaps, timid, to alter the measure in such a way as to make it acceptable to those who will have their conditions in life fixed ‘by its provisions, rather than pass a measure of which advantage will not be taken. It is Hardly necessary, at this time of day, to point to the costliness of strikes. The latest instances we have of strikes of a similar character to those which would be dealt with by the Bill, is the shipping dispute at Marseilles, in France. The Melbourne Herald, of 15th October, publishes the following telegram : -
It is estimated that the great shipping strike in Marseilles, which ended a couple of weeks ago, has cost the trades of the port no less than £3,000,000.
The dockers and labourers alone lost the aggregate sum of £120,000 in wages.
There are now 3,000 imported labourers in Marseilles, pledged to have nothing to do with the trade unionists.
Then there is a great strike of miners going on at Colorado, and I am sure nobody who has any love for Australia would like to see those conditions reproduced here. We must remember, however, that similar causes may bring about similar results. In the Melbourne Age of 14th October, there appears a telegram from San Francisco, depicting a condition of affairs little short of war. The letter is as follows : -
The peaceably inclined citizens of the mining districts of Colorado are beginning to despair of the restoration of law and order. For months past riots, murders, deportations, outrages on property, and other scenes of violence, have succeeded one another with regularity. The military have relinquished control of Cripple Creek, but mob rule appears to have taken its place. Just now the Western Federation of Miners (the striking body) is having a very bad time at the hands of its enemy, the Citizens’ Alliance.
I may say that the Citizens’ Alliance is the body which is vigorously conducting an agitation against the trade unions label in the United States.
One day towards the end of last month over a score of prominent citizens, not members of the Federation of Miners, but merely suspected of sympathy wilh that organization, were rounded up and forced out of the town. The outrage was instigated by the Citizens’ Alliance, but was actually carried out by non-union miners who have replaced the strikers. No secret is made of this. A number of the larger mines were closed down when the day shifts stopped work, and the night shifts were requested to assemble in the town, as trouble was brewing. A report had been circulated that several hundred deported union men were returning, and the Citizens’ Alliance had determined that they should be driven away. The report proved to be unfounded, but other work was found for the 2,000 or more non-union miners, who swarmed into the town, and, acting under instructions, they proceeded to “round up” and deport a number of objectionable citizens. An extraordinary feature of the occurrence was that many of the deputy sheriffs assisted the mob in its work, showing how bitterly opposed the official class is to the Federation of Miners. Amongst the men thrown out of the town were the attorney for the Western Federation of Miners, and several other lawyers, one of whom had formerly held the post of district attorney. ‘ The union store, run by the Inter-State Mercantile Company, was attacked, and its manager and several of the principal stock-holders in the company were included in the twenty ot more men deported. At 6.30 o’clock p.m., when all these men had been herded together, they were started over the hills west of the town, under a guard of 2,000 nonunionists, most of whom were armed. When the prisoners had been escorted three miles from the city, the spokesman for the mob stepped forward and said -
Those gentlemen who talk so freely of unionists depriving non-unionists of the right to live, and so forth, should direct their attention to this little speech, made to unionists on behalf of the representatives of law and order - “ You men are not wanted in this camp. You are not going to be allowed to live here. You do not seem to be happy unless you can stir up trouble. We have had trouble enough. You are going on, and you are not coming back. If you do there will be either a bullet or a rope for every one of you. Now, go, and keep going.” They kept going. The mob was in control of the town that night, and the whole of the stock of the Union Store, valued at ^600, was destroyed or stolen.
– There is only one answer, and that answer this Bill does not provide. We must base legislation of this kind on the fact that the interests of capital and labour are identical.
– The Bill does provide the answer. Such scenes as those to which I have just referred can only occur when disputes are not referred to arbitration but to force. Honorable senators, who claim to represent law and order, have to make their choice between the system represented by those scenes and the system provided under this Bill. The scenes in America are the logical outcome of the principle adopted by those who do not be:lieve in arbitration. It is logical that if there is no arbitration, non-unionists should fly to force. After all, I do not know which is the worst form of force - to starve a man into submission, or to hold a revolver to his head and dictate your terms. The former is, at any rate, the quicker method, and is not nearly so painful. Those nonunionists and the members of the Citizens’ Alliance were carrying the doctrine of honorable senators opposite to its logical conclusion.
– Certainly not my doctrine.
– No law and no order could be applied, and the non-unionists there only acted logically in taking the power into their own hands and deporting all of a different opinion. I wish to deal briefly with another objection there is to this class of legislation-. It is a somewhat antiquated objection, but it apparently has lost none of its virility. The objection is that we must not impose such conditions, because the industries of the country will not be able to compete successfully with the industries of other countries, where there are no conditions of the kind. That is the view taken by Senator Gould, and it is urged that if we’ wish our industries to succeed we must allow free and unfettered competition, and have wages fixed according to. the law of supply and demand. It is held that any interference with the law of supply and demand will place an employer in an’ inferior position as compared with his competitors, and handicap him in the markets of the world. That objection is sometimes raised also to labour men being free-traders. We are told that such a position is illogical - that we cannot believe in legislation of this character if we believe in free-trade. The two objections appear to me to be- on all-fours, and they arise from a mistaken idea that low-paid, or sweated labour means cheap production. The contention of Senator Gould seems to be based on the idea that if employers have the right to dictate terms to the employes Ave shall then have the best system of production. The only reply is that experience teaches us differently, and goes to prove that in those countries where the conditions are best, production reaches its highest and cheapest point, and not in countries where the conditions are poor. Those who object to legislation of this kind from that point of view must hold the opinion that, in order to make Australia a most successful producing country, we should wipe off the statute-book all measures which in any way hamper an employer in dealing with his employes.
– Who advocates that? The honorable senator is fighting a shadow !
– I am fighting the objection raised by Senator Gould that a measure of this kind Hampers industries. And does not Senator Dobson, when addressing, meetings of ladies, tell them that such legislation will drive capital out of the country ?
– The honorable senator does not mean all legislation of that kind.
– It is the most frequent, if not the only objection that is raised to this class of legislation. Is the same argument not stated at great length in the petition now lying on the table, and indorsed by Senator Fraser?
– The Arbitration Bill, which Senator Pearce favours, will drive capital out of the country.
– The honorable and learned senator confirms my statement by repeating it.
– But the honorable senator said that we on this side would like to have all legislation of this kind “done away with.
– I said that, to be logical, the same objection should be taken to every measure which in any way interferes with an employer’s right to treat his workmen in any manner he thinks fit. That objection has been raised on every occasion when a proposal has been made to interfere between employers and employed. I intend to refer to some cases of a long time ago, in order to prove that this old bogy has always been trotted out. When the Ten Hours Bill was introduced into the House of Commons, nearly eighty years ago, Lord Macaulay dealt with the subject in a very admirable manner. Lord Macaulay was then dealing with the u objection that by limiting the hours to ten* the employers of Great Britain would be placed at a disadvantage as compared with the employers of Europe. At pages 438 and 439 of his published speeches Lord Macaulay is reported to have said -
They cannot understand how any friend of freetrade can wish the Legislature to interfere between the capitalist and the labourer. They say, “ You do not make a law to settle the price of gloves, or the texture of gloves, or the length of credit which the glover shall give. You leave it to him to determine, whether he will charge high or low prices, whether he will use strong or flimsy materials, whether he will trust or insist on ready money. You acknowledge that these are matters which he ought to be left to settle with his customers, and that we ought not to interfere. It is possible that he may manage his shop ill. But it is certain that we shall manage it ill. On the same grounds on which you leave the seller of gloves, and the buyer of gloves, to make their own contract, you ought to leave the seller of labour and the buyer of labour to make their, own contract.” I have a great respect, sir, for those who reason thus ; but I cannot see this matter in the light in which it appears to them ; and, though I may distrust my own judgment, I must be guided by it. I am, I believe, as strongly attached as any member of this House to the principle of free-trade, rightly understood. Trade, considered merely as trade, considered merely with reference to the pecuniary interest of the contracting parties, can hardly be too free. But there is a great deal of trade which cannot be considered merely as trade, and which affects higher than pecuniary interests. And to say that Government never ought to regulate such trade is a monstrous proposition, a proposition at which Adam Smith would have stood aghast. We impose some restrictions on trade for purposes of police. Thus, we do not suffer everybody who has a cab and a horse to ply for passengers in the streets of London.
He enumerates a number of instances - 0
For the science of political economy teaches us only that we ought not, on commercial grounds, to interfere with the liberty of commerce; and we, in the cases which I have put, interfere with the liberty of commerce on higher than commercial grounds.
On page 447 Lord Macaulay continues in this strain -
They reason thus. We cannot reduce the number of hours of labour in factories without reducing the amount of production. We cannot reduce the amount of production without reducing the remuneration of the labourer. Meanwhile, foreigners, who are at liberty to work till they drop down dead at their looms, will soon beat us out of all the markets of the world. Wages will go down fast. The condition of our working people will be far worse than it is; and our unwise interference will, like the unwise interference of our ancestors with the dealings of the corn factor and the money lender, increase the distress of the very class which we wish to relieve.
At page 444 he says -
Thirty years ago, the late Sir Robert Peel told the House that it was a common practice to make children of eight years of age toil in mills fifteen hours a day. A law has since been made which prohibits persons under eighteen years of age from working in mills more than twelve hours a day. That law was opposed on exactly the same grounds on which the Hill before us is opposed. Parliament was told then, as it is told now, that with the time of labour the quantity of production would decrease, that with the quantity of production the wages would decrease, t*t our manufacturers would be unable to contend with foreign manufacturers, and that the condition of the labouring population instead of being made better by the interference of the Legislature would be made worse. Read over those debates ; and you may imagine that you are reading the debate of this evening. Parliament disregarded those prophecies. The time of labour was limited. Have wages fallen? Has the cotton trade left Manchester for France and Germany? Has the condition of the working people become more miserable? Is it not universally acknowledged that the evils which were so confidently predicted have not come to pass?
Speaking on that subject, I can say that, in listening to the debate last week, and especially to the address delivered by Senator Gould, one might almost imagine that he was listening again to the debate on the Ten Hours Bill in the British House of Commons. I quote this passage from the same writer. He says, at page 450-
Of course, sir, I do not mean to say that a man would not produce more in a week by working seven days than by working six days. But I very much doubt whether, at the end of a year, he will generally have produced more by working seven days a week than by working six days a week ; and I firmly believe that at the end of twenty years he will have produced much less by working seven days a week than by working six days a week. In the same manner, I do not deny that a factory child will produce more, in a single day, by working twelve hours than by working ten hours, and by working fifteen hours than by working twelve hours. But I do deny that a great society in which children work fifteen, or even twelve, hours a day, will, in the lifetime of a generation, produce as much as if those children had worked less.
And at page 454 he concludes in this way -
Never will I believe that what makes a population stronger, and healthier, and wiser, and better, can ultimately make it poorer. You try to frighten us by telling us that in some German factories the young work seventeen hours in the twenty-four, that they work so hard that among thousands there is not one who grows to such a stature that he can be admitted into the army ; and you ask whether, if we pass this Bill, we can possibly hold our own against such competition as this? Sir, I laugh at the thought of such competition. If ever we are forced to yield the foremost place among commercial nations, we shall yield it, not to a race of degenerate dwarfs, but to some people pre-eminently vigorous in body and in mind.
To those who would try to sweep back the tide of this legislation,, I would say that every measure which goes to make our workmen more intelligent by giving them greater time to cultivate their intelligence, and to make them stronger by giving them a greater share of the wealth that they produce, in order that they may better feed their bodies, goes to make them more formidable competitors in the race of industry. In Western Australia we have had some experience of this legislation. For some years now many of our industries have been worked under the award of the Arbitration Court, constituted under our arbitration law, and I venture to say that there are very few people in Western Australia who would to-day vote against the principle of arbitration. I have here a report on the mining industry in Western Australia, which I commend especially to our honorable friends from Tasmania, because I notice that there are labour troubles connected with the mining industry in that S’tate. The mining industry of Western Australia has been worked for the last two years under awards of the Arbitration Court, and I wish to bring under the notice of the Senate the conditions under which those awards were made. At the time I speak of, the English mining companies had decided to make a genera! reduction of wages throughout Western Australia. They had sent out to their managers in that State instructions to post notices on the mines, and those notices were posted on many of the mines. Senator de Largie, who was general president of the mining unions at the time, will be able to tell honorable senators that they had strong- organizations throughout all the mining fields. They had a substantial bank balance, and what was of far more importance, they were animated by a determination not to submit to the proposed reduction of wages. There were all the circumstances present iri Western Australia at that time to produce, in the absence of legislation of this kind, a strike, which would have paralyzed the mining industry of the State, and which - because that is the chief industry in Western. Australia - would have paralyzed the whole State for years to come. What .happened? The arbitration law was taken advantage of. Instead of the men leaving their work, they sent their case to the Arbitration Court. Representatives of the employers and of the employes, sitting with a Judge of the Arbitration Court in a little galvanized-iron shanty on the gold-fields, had submitted to them the case of the mine-owners. They produced their books and their evidence in support of their contention that they were not justified in paying the wages that were asked. On the other side, the miners through their officials submitted their cases to the Court, and an award was made, not as the result of the power of the mining companies to starve the men into subjection, and not as the result of the power of the men to compel the mine-owners to concede their terms; but an award based on the principles of justice and equity, was made as the result of evidence brought before the Arbitration Court. That award, while it has not been wholly satisfactory to either of the parties affected by it, has been worked under for the last two years with very satisfactory results to both parties.
– Was the award general in its application to the industry, or did it apply only to certain mines ?
– To certain industrial districts.
– It applied to the whole district for which the Court sat ; but as the Court sat in various districts, awards were made which resulted practically in the whole of the mining industry of the State being carried on under its awards.
– - The Court defines the area within which its award shall have effect.
– I bring the condition of the mining industry in Western Australia forward as a proof that the power given to the Arbitration Court- in that State for the settlement of industrial disputes does not hamper industry, nor does it take away from the capitalist the profits of the industry in which his money is invested. I quote from the Western Mail, of September 24th, the official report of the Mines Department of Western Australia for 1903.
The total mineral output for 1903 amounted to the value of £8,971,937, or an increase of nearly j 1 per cent, on the value of the previous year’s output, 97 per cent, of this being gold ; the total gold output for the year being valued at £8,770,719. The dividends paid during the year amounted to £2,024,152, being an increase of £599,880, or 42 per cent. The number of men engaged in gold-mining was 20,716, being an increase of 240.
An increase of 240 in the number of men brought about an increase of ,£599,880 in the amount of the dividend.
The value of gold produced per man engaged in gold-mining was £423.37, as against £388.14 for the previous year. The above figures testify to the general prosperity of the mining industry in this State ; especially so is this evident with regard to the dividends paid during the year which give a return of 26 per cent, on the nominal capital of the dividend paying mines.
– T - That is on the nominal capital.
– That is on the nominal capital, and not on the paid-up capital. I wonder whether the Argus and the Age will, to-morrow, print these statements under black scare headlines, as they put their report of the fact that twenty or thirty wheelers in a Newcastle mine would not obey the award of an Arbitration Court.
– Or that the miners of Victoria have been paid £1,000,000 more than all the gold they ever got is worth.
– That is a little fairy tale.
– It is based on the figures of the official Statistician.
– I will ask Senator Dobson to produce the official records to prove his statement, as I am doing. The report continues -
The amount of ore raised per man employed exceeds that for 1902 by r8-7i tons; and the ounces of gold produced per man employed above and below ground are increased by 16.23 ozs. per man. The average value of gold for the year being £3 “s. per ounce. Over £479 worth of gold was produced for every man employed above and under ground, as against £427 for the previous year. It only requires an increase of less than 3 per cent, on the value of the present output of gold from this State to equal the total value of the gold output of the eastern States and New Zealand.
I give that as a sample of one of the industries which, if we are to believe some persons’, has been ruined by being worked under the award of an Arbitration Court.
– The honorable senator does not mean to insinuate that mining is altogether unprofitable.
– From the figures I have quoted, it may be assumed that it is a fairly paying industry. I wish now to refer to the effects of arbitration in New
Zealand. I need not go into details for that Colony, because they have been so often referred to that honorable senators .must be conversant with them. I propose to read a report which was made by Mr. Tregear, Secretary to the Labour Department in New Zealand. I do so, because partial extracts from the reports have been printed in the Australian press for the purpose of creating the impression that the report in some way condemns the New Zealand Arbitration Act. I have myself read in the Australian press extracts from this report, and comments upon them, which would lead to the impression that the Secretary of the Labour Department in New Zealand condemns the Act, and that there is a revulsion of feeling in the Colony against it. I was so impressed when I read these extracts and comments that I wrote to Mr. Tregear for a copy of his report. He was good enough to send me a copy, and I propose to quote it in this debate. ‘ After dealing with the circumstances in which the report was asked for, Mr. Tregear says -
The New Zealand Arbitration Act is not working under such conditions, nor is its beneficent power available to the full in the cause of public utility. The work of the Court is being neutralized by malignant collateral action. It is in the position of a single regiment or division of an army sent far into the enemy’s country without reserves or supports. Or, to use a still closer metaphor, it is like a fair edifice the foundations of which are being destroyed by cunning miners working from every side.
The general effect of the Act has been to benefit the whole community by insuring to the employer stability of business and output, to the worker higher wages and shorter hours, to the general public that continuity of trade and business which was formerly too often dislocated by the mischievous waste of strikes and locks-out. These results have been of high advantage to the whole colony, as the great prosperity shown by every indication of the economic barometer denotes. Such effects are, however, rapidly becoming neutralized, and soon only the empty shell of an apparent prosperity will be left us if the unbridled covetousness of a few be not regulated and checked. Some of the necessaries of life cost more than in former years; their price is rapidly advancing, and this out of all proportion to the rise in wages of producers. Of course the rise in wages given by the Arbitration Court to certain classes of workers is asserted by some to be the reason for the increased cost of articles and services, but this argument runs in a vicious circle, for it is the increased cost of necessaries which has caused the concession of higher wages. There has been no fair ratio between the rise in wages and the rise in prices. The fact is that there is a third hand in the game besides the employer and employe, and it is this third man, the nonproducing ground-landlord of city and suburban property, who alone will rise a winner in the end.
All reference to that was carefully omitted from the extracts quoted by the Age, and from the comments made upon them. The report continues: -
The chief devourer of the wages of the worker and of the profits of the employer is excessive rent. That an equitable payment for the use of land and dwellings should be made to their owners is, under the present constitution of society, proper and desirable; but a greedy rack-renting system, which transfers gradually almost the whole earnings of the industrial and commercial classes to the pockets of the non-producer, is indefensible. It partakes of three characters ; it is unauthorized taxation by private persons, it is a tribute to a conqueror, and ransom of a captive. In Wellington the rents have not only increased during the last ten years, but they have acquired an utter disproportion to earnings. It is difficult for a clerk or foreman at ^250 a year to get a decent house near the city under £1 10s. a week, which means about one-third of his income. A labourer earning (taking wet days, illness, &c.) on an average £1 10s. a week, must pay at least 10s. to 12s. a week for a house; he, too, then finds that a roof over his head costs one-third of his income. This may be accepted as a general rule in the capital city, viz., one-third of the income goes to the landlord. The shopkeeper, who by his industry and capability improves his business, enhances the value of his holding, and discovers as soon as his short lease expires that if he wishes renewal, he must sacrifice the profits of his business. In a certain southern city there is a striking instance of this process. A small piece of land, now in the centre of the town, was bought many years ago (almost by chance) for a person living in England, who paid ^.’50 for it. That person has drawn £800 a year from it for twenty years, and now receives ^2,000 a year therefrom. The tribute levied on the struggling colonists of New Zealand by this absentee would, if capitalized, “ stagger humanity.” It represents nohonest profit on investment.
Other items of necessaries, such as meat, bacon, eggs, coal, firewood, &c, have also risen in price considerably, and have helped to minimize any advance in workers’ wages. These, however, are more defensible in their deductions than unfair rentals, because some part of the profits made in such case go to producers. Unfortunately for the operative or labourer, he is seldom the owner of the means of production, and the point he is made to realise is that mutton is far more costly than it was ten years ago, while the increased cheques for frozen meat, freights, commissions, &c, do not come his way. Nevertheless, a certain number of his class are employed in the production or distribution of meat, and therefore advances in its price do not stand on the same footing as those of ground-rents. Even the farmers indirectly suffer by such mulcting of wages, for less farm-produce is consumed when the spendingpower of the masses is checked and directed aside into private banking accounts of the owners of city and suburban lands.
With the above considerations in mind, I very earnestly ask the Government to take into consideration the question of legislating for the acquirement of suburban lands and the housing of the citizens. Whether such consideration should take the direction of State or municipal control of compulsorily acquired properties I do not presume to suggest. Some scheme, however, should be earnestly pondered over having for its determination the breaking-up of the land ring. Just as Russia acquired by an Imperial ukase possession of petroleum-wells at Baku, and so controlled the market in order to prevent the cupidity of individuals destroying the transport service, &c, of the Empire (carried on by oil-burning steamers), so in New Zealand there is reason for the State to interfere to prevent the exploitation of its citizens and the draining of the earnings of the community into the possession of a few private persons.
It is beyond doubt that the advantages bestowed by progressive legislation are gardually being nullified, and will eventually be destroyed by certain adverse influences. Those influences must be sought out and neutralized fearlessly and effectively in the interests of all classes of workers - i.e., of the vast majority of the citizens of the colony.
Secretary for Labour.
My reason for reading that is that I have an impression that Senator Dobson will probably adopt the parti-coloured statements which have been taken from that document, and inserted in the columns of the Age, and will read them here as though they comprised the whole document. I wish to get the document in evidence to show that it is not the Arbitration Court which has produced the increase in the cost of living, but that that is due to the action of tlie ground landlord, who, as usual, is taking advantage of every rise in the conditions of the workers. In the early part of my address I contended that an arbitration law, to be successful, depends upon unionism, and that, without unionism, it -is tyrannical. I wish to point out the tactics which are adopted to break up a union in order to’ convince honorable senators of the absolute necessity for a preference clause in the Bill. This measure will not interfere with the fixing of rates, but will make striking illegal. It is thought in the interest of employers to break up unionism. It is said. “ Oh, but the employers will not take such action as will break up unionism.” But I hold in my hand some proof that in this verv State there has been not only a successful attempt to break up a union, but a further attempt to starve the unionists out of the country. I shall convict the perpetrators of this attempt by reading some statements which appeared’ in the Age of 24th October, 1904. I am referring to the coal strike at Outtrim and Jumbunna, which ended in July last - that is more than four months ago. Surely the coal-owners had quite sufficient revenge in keeping the men out of work for four months after having defeated them.
– The honorable senator does not contend that there was a strike existing for the whole sixteen months ?
– If men sit down, and are content to receive strike pay for sixteen months I do not call that a strike.
– I propose to read the’ report of the deputation of these unionist miners who, in July last, surrendered unconditionally, and asked their former employers for reinstatement. When I said that employers will ban unionists in order to break unionism, the reply was made - “ You will not find employers who will take that course.” But let honorable senators listen to this report.
– The honorable senator does not give in a sentence or two the reason for the strike - that these men wanted to run the mine.
– Does the question whether the men- were justified in striking, affect the fact that they capitulated unconditionally ? They said to the mine-owners - “ Whatever we struck foi, we are beaten, and are willing to go back on your terms.”
– After spending months in trying” to shut up the mine, and ruin the owners.
– In the first place the men offered to arbitrate.
– They spent months in trying to ruin the owners.
– The honorable and learned senator knows very well that at the very outset the men offered to arbitrate - in other words, to submit to the very system of voluntary arbitration which he says is so effective. In the Age of 24th October, I find the following report under the heading of “ Mr. Bent as Peace-maker “ -
Mr. Prendergast introduced a deputation from the old miners of the district.
Mr. Connelly asked that the Premier would use his influence with the companies to secure work when there were vacancies at the mines for miner.? who had gone on strike. There were about 200 still out of work. They had their homes there, and were in danger of losing everything.
Mr. McNair said that he had had to buy land from the company, and had put all the result of his labour into his home. They would have liked to have given the Premier some music, but their band instruments had been taken from them.
Mr. Bent. I see Mr. Stamp here to-day. Would he like to say anything?
Mr. Stamp, after asking the concurrence of Mr. Boyd and Mr. Mackay, of the Jumbunna and Coal Creek Companies, said that, personally speaking, he thought the time had arrived when the feud that had existed between the men and the companies should terminate. (Loud cheers.) The men must recognise that the position they took up was so unreasonable that they could not expect to succeed.
That shows that there had been a conspir.acy on the part of the owners to keep the men out of work after the strike had terminated -
The companies having won the battle ‘beyond all question”, it was only magnanimous on their part to say that they were prepared to withdraw the embargo which prevented these men from being employed. (Cheers.)
That lis an admission that there was an embargo -
Mr. Boyd, on behalf of the Jumbunna Company, said he was prepared to instruct the mine manager that no further embargo should be placed upon the men on strike.
I put on record the statements of the mineowners, that they had placed an embargo on the men. On my showing it existed for four months, and on the showing of Senator Dobson it existed for twelve months after the strike had ceased to exist, and after the men had admitted that they were beaten, and were prepared to resume work on their employers’ terms. Therefore, it is possible for employers to break up a union. That is the plan which they adopt when there is no Conciliation and Arbitration Act or preference provision to safeguard the unionists. Let us see what happens in other cases. I was the president of a union which received a petition from the non-unionists of the town, asking that it should convene a general meeting of the trade for the purpose of considering the advisability of asking for an increase of wages. We convened the meeting, in which we were outnumbered by the non-unionists by two to one. When it commenced a non-unionist rose, and proposed that we should ask for a certain wage. He made a “most eloquent speech, and created a great impression amongst the men. I could see that, with the exception of perhaps a few unionists, his proposition would be carried unanimously. Speaking from the chair, I appealed to the meeting to pause. I pointed .out, first, that we ought to give notice, because a number of big contracts had been taken in hand under a lower rate, and, secondly, that we should probably be defeated, and that therefore we ought to ask for a lower increase than was proposed. But so strong an impression was made by the non-unionist who moved the motion that it was carried. I was supported in my attitude by Mr. Diver, the secretary. To the president and the secretary was left the duty of going to the employers and demanding this increase. Although at the meeting we had fought against the proposal, realizing the responsibility which would rest with us if we were defeated, still, we loyally carried out its direction. A strike took place, and, contrary to our expectations, it was successful. The employers had to pay, as the result of the strike, an increased wage. But what did they then do? They said, “ This is because of unionism. We must break up this union,” and they set to wark to that end. How did they proceed ? They said, “ Now, this union speaks through its officers. If we can victimize the officers the union will not get men to take their places. If we can drive the officers out of the town, the union will cease to exist, or, at any rate, it will cease to speak.” A list, on which the names of myself and Mr. Diver appeared, was published and sent round to every builder in the town. When I went back to the place which I had left as the result of the strike I was told that I was not wanted. Every other man was taken back. Shortly afterwards an advertisement appeared that a certain contractor was calling for carpenters. In order to test the question. Mr. Diver and I went along together. We were the first on the job. The foreman did not know us. When we said to him, “ We see that you are advertising for carpenters,” he said “Yes, I want several.” “Well,” I said, “we are out of work.” “ Well,” he replied, “ you can bring your tools round after lunch.” We started to go back for our tools, but before leaving the building he suddenly remembered his instructions, and he said. “ Oh, just wait a minute. Would you mind telling me your name?” Mr. Diver, being the nearer to him, said. “ My name is . W. Diver.” “ Oh,” he said “W. Diver. Well, I think you had better call round again to-morrow. Don’t bring your tools after lunch.” I remarked, “ Is there anything wrong with the name, because my name is Pearce.” “ Oh,” he said, “ I think you had both better call round to-morrow.” We took up a position outside the building, and presently we saw two non-unionists, who had been equally culpable with us in the strike, and who, moreover, had. voted for the strike, come along, and get put on. Within an hour from that time they were at work, although both of them were, to my knowledge, inferior tradesmen to Mr. Diver and myself. What would have happened if the employers could have successfully carried out the boycott ? Both Mr. Diver and myself would have had to leave the town, and any men who took up our positions would have done so with the knowledge that their living would be taken from them. Now what would have happened had we had a Conciliation and Arbitration Act, with preference to unionists? When the foreman refused work to Mr. Diver and myself, and engaged inferior workmen, we could have proceeded against him for an offence against the law, and he would have been compelled to show that he refused us work because we were inferior as workmen, and not because we were the leaders of a trade union. It is because there are thousands of trade unionists in this country who have gone through that bitter experience, that we strongly insist upon a preference to unionists which shall be full and effective.
– If a preference were given to unionists, would not the nonunionists be in just the same position as you were then in?
– What position would a non-unionist be placed in? If a nonunionist were to come along with Mr. Diver and myself, and was as good a tradesman as either of us, then, all things being equal, we should get a preference, because unions are necessary for the working of the Act. But if ths man were a better tradesman than either of us,- he would get a preference, and we should have to stand aside. What has a non-unionist to complain of there? Surely merit should be considered, and if the men are of equal merit, then this point should be considered : That unionists take all the responsibility of providing the machinery for the working of the Act. It is our money which makes it possible- for the organization to exist. It is owing to the sacrifice of our leisure and money that non-unionists are reaping equally with us the benefits which have resulted from our work. For that reason, we claim that unionists should be placed in no inferior position to men who sacrifice nothing, who take no responsibility, and who reap every benefit which is won by the unionists.
– T - The workers would have been in a very poor .position to-day but for the trade unions. They fight for the non-unionists as well as for themselves.
– That is admitted. Even the leader of the Senate paid a tribute to trade unionism. He admitted that it has done much for the progress of the country, and every honorable member on his side will concur in that admission. Surely, therefore, it will be recognised that trade unionists sacrifice their time and money, and in some cases incur odium in being . prominent in union matters. It is for these reasons that I, with” others, wish to see an efficient preference to unionists. I have felt the pinch of the boycott ; I have seen an attempt made to take the bread from mv wife and children. I know from bitter experience that there are men who, because a workman has the courage to speak his opinions, will try to drive him out of the country, and therefore I contend that this measure should either be dropped into the waste-paper basket, or passed in such a form that the men who accept the responsibility of stating the mind of their fellow-workmen shall be placed in a safe position, at any rate so far as their living is concerned.
– The term * preference “ is a misnomer. As a matter of fact, it is an anti-boycott clause.
– Yes, the proper term is protection to unionists.
– It is not so interpreted in New South Wales.
– The honorable senator makes that statement without any proof whatever. I have been in New South Wales, where the great Broken Hill mining industry is worked under a preference section, and I challenge the honorable senator to bring any non-unionist who will state that he has any ground of complaint under that section. The honorable senator can advertise in the newspapers, but he will not get a single man, either amongst the employers or the employed, who complains of preference to unionists’. This is what happens. Where preference is granted a tribunal is appointed to say in what way the preference shall work. If a mining manager makes a preference between employes and a non-unionist considers himself to be unfairly treated, he can appeal to that tribunal. What is’ the question to be determined ? First of all, the question is : Are (he conditions equal, and are the unionists and non-unionists equal in respect of capability? Surely that is a question of which the non-unionists could not complain. Under the competitive system, the employer does not exercise a preference in favour of the inferior workmen. When Senator Gray is engaging men to work for him, he does not choose the man who is an inferior workman. He chooses the best man he can get for his money. We are applying the same principle in connexion with the preference provision. We say that where the conditions are equal, the unionists should have a preference, but the employer has the right to employ a non-unionist, if he is a superior workman.
– Who is to judge of the capability of the men?
– There is in this very Bill a’ provision for a tribunal to decide that question. It is not” left to the secretary of a union or to the union itself, but to an impartial tribunal, appointed by the Court. In Western Australia the tribunal is constituted of a representative of the employers and a representative of the employes, with a Government official to act as arbiter.
– It will require twentyJudges.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is speaking without information. I have given a case in point. In the case of the Broken Hill mines, Mr. Delprat, the manager,told me himself that he was thoroughly satisfied with the way in which the award was being carried out by the unions. He is the manager of a mine in which, under the old conditions, one of the largest and most disastrous strikes which Australia has ever seen took place - a strike which dealt a severe blow to South Australia, the State that is represented in this Senate by the Attorney-General.
– Can the honorable senator explain how it is that, in spite of that preference provision, the bulk of the miners at Broken Hill are not in the unions ?
– That is not so. The great majority - almost the entire body - of the miners of Broken Hill belong to the unions. There are a few of the surface men who are not in the unions, but they are a different class from the miners. A surface man is not required to be a skilled labourer.
– The honorable senator will find that the majority of the men are non-unionists.
– In the mining industry almost . every man working below is a unionist. But amongst the surface hands are numbers of men engaged in all sorts of occupations. They are now treating zinc at Broken Hill, and hundreds of men have been brought from all parts of Australia to do that work. Of course, it takes some time to organize these men. But I repeat that the great bulk of the miners belong to the unions. I am glad to see that the old bogy about interference with States rights, about which ‘we have heard so much, is dwindling. It was a very absurd bogy indeed. The leader of the Senate dealt with it in a manner that few could cavil at. He pointed out incidentallv that there is a tribunal which will soon settle the question whether the clause of this Bill to which exception has been taken on the ground of States rights is unconstitutional. On the other hand, if it is constitutional we have a perfect right to pass it. While the Attorney-General does not agree that the provision is expedient, he admits that it is open to argument whether it is expedient or otherwise. The question of the State as an entity and the State as an employer has yet to be settled. We must not’ consider that States rights are in any way interfered with bv a provision of this kind, which will be passed with the consent of the people of Australia. Because it must be remembered that if the provision in question is passed by this Parliament, it is passed with the consent of the people of Australia. The people have been appealed to on the question. They are the same people, whether they vote as members of States or as electors of the Commonwealth. When we speak of States rights we are apt to” think that we are speaking of two different sets of people. But they are . the same. The great problem before us is as to the best method of dealing with the employes in States industries. The people have been appealed to on that question, and they have declared by an overwhelming majority that they prefer that disputes between the employes of a State and the Government of a State shall be settled by the Arbitration Court.
– Forty per cent, of the people never went to the poll, so that it cannot be said that the majority of the people are in favour of the clause.
– Does the honorable senator assume th’at those who did not go to the poll are of his way of thinking? We have to deal not with the man who does not go to the poll, but with the man who votes. It is the man who votes who makes legislation, If the other man is too tired to go to the poll, he has to bear the consequences of that legislation. I am not concerned with the man who does not vote. That is his trouble, not mine. What the men and women who did not go to the poll said in the most unmistakable way was, “We believe in the Federal Arbitration Court having power to settle disputes between a State Government and its employes if it is constitutional to do so.”
– If it is not constitutional, we cannot deal with it. But we have a majority in both Houses of the Federal Parliament in favour of including the State servants within the scope of this measure. That being so, we have the verdict of the people of Australia with us on the question, and we have a right to determine that disputes between States employes and States Governments shall be dealt with in precisely the same manner as disputes which arise between a private employer and his servants. I see nothing unreasonable in that. I believe that if some honorable senators who feel strongly on this question were to get away from Australian conditions and consider the question from the outside, they would see nothing unreasonable in it. At this point I would make reference to an authority which some honorable senators opposite always quote with great reverence. I refer to the London Times.
– Are we to get away from the basis of Federation ; the railways belong to the States, and how on earth have we a. right to interfere with them?
– We no more interfere with the rights of the States if we settle a dispute, than we interfere with them when the High Court settles a dispute between private individuals. The Arbitration Court is to be set up to settle disputes whether they arise between States and individuals or between private individuals. The electors have said that if that position is constitutional they are of opinion that the clause should be inserted in the Bill. If it is not constitutional nothing can be done. But those who say that we have no right to legislate on the question simply overlook the fact that the people of the Commonwealth and the people of the States are the same. If the people say that they wish such disputes to be settled by a Federal Arbitration Court, in the event of the Constitution permitting that to be done, we have a right to pass the clause in question. As I have said, if some honorable senators opposite were to get into a different atmosphere, I believe that they would look at this matter in a different light. Recently, there has been a discussion in the London Times as to the best way of dealing with the postal officials in Great Britain. It has been a vexed question for many years. It is claimed that the postal officials, being numerous, are able to influence the opinion of members of Parliament in respect to their salaries. (The Times, in dealing with the subject, has said that the system adopted in Victoria, of disfranchising the public servants, or giving them separate representation, is a proposal which no Parliament of the United Kingdom would ever contemplate for a moment. In an article published on September 12, 1904, on the wages of public servants, the Times says -
During the recent debate on the Post Office Estimates a suggestion was made, re employes, which seems worthy of serious consideration ; it was to refer all questions of the sort to a quasi judicial body, which should hear evidence and make awards.
Then it goes on to say -
Boards of Conciliation and Arbitration are gradually gaining ground.
Further, the article goes on -
But the awards of the suggested tribunal would be adopted, as the awards of any other body having authority to arbitrate between the Government and third persons, and would practically be beyond challenge in the House of Commons.
There is a proposal put forward to hand over the question of settling the wages of the postal servants not to a Commissioner or to the head of a Department, but to properly constituted Board’s of Conciliation and Arbitration. Therefore, we are not asking for anything extravagant, when we say that in connexion with the railway systems, where disputes may become of a Federal character, there should be a reference to the Federal Arbitration. Court. The leader of the Senate said that he could not realize any dispute on the railways of a State spreading beyond the limits’ of one State. I would ask him to remember that some time ago there was a strike on the Victorian railways. After a time the Railway Department was able to induce some men to take some .trains to the borders. The strike originated in Victoria. The whole basis of the dispute was Victorian in its origin.
– It arose on a question of affiliation with the Trades Hall.
– It was a question in which wages were bound up, but the main question was that of affiliation with the Trades Hall.
– How could an Arbi1tration Court deal with a case of that sort ?
– I am just coming to that point. Let us suppose that in order to assist their fellow-unionists in Victoria, the New South Wales engine-drivers, WhOsE unions are federated with the Victorian unions, refused to take on passengers and goods from Albury. Suppose, further, that the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales insisted on the men doing their duty, and the latter carried their resistance to the point of striking. There we should have a dispute extending beyond the limits of one State. I now come to the moot point that the origination of a dispute does not extend beyond the limits of any one State. That argument, however, does not afreet this question, ft is not necessary that the original point in dispute should be the only point settled by the Arbitration Court.
– I do not think that such a dispute would come under this Bill.
– But in the case of a State Arbitration Court, a dispute may arise on a question of hours, and when the nutter is taken into Court, an award may be given covering the whole scope of the wages and other conditions of labour. And so in regard to the point raised by the honorable senattor, namely, that while the question which caused the dispute in Victoria was the right of the railway men to affiliate with the Trades Hall, the dispute in New South Wales would have arisen from the refusal of the engine-drivers to obey the orders of their superior officers. One dispute is inter-dependent on and caused by the other - they become a Federal dispute, which may spread all over Australia. While the Federal Court might say that . the power to decide whether the men in Victoria had the right to affiliate with the Trades Hall wast beyond [the scope of the inquiry, still the engine-drivers could make use of the dispute in order to obtain an award covering the whole scope of wages, hours, and other conditions. I can quite conceive of a dispute amongst the railway men coming within the scope of the Bill, and for that reason, and because the people of Australia pronounced in favour of such a course, I hope the State railway servants will be included. In con-
elusion, I trust that when the Bill leaves the Chamber it will contain provisions which will not only prevent strikes, but will safeguard the trade unionists in their position - which will give them protection and enable them to maintain their unions with the necessary machinery for carrying the legislation into effect. If that be the case, we can rely on the sober common sense of the workers of Australia to insure that while they have a measure for the adjustment of their legitimate grievances, they will not use it as a vehicle for inflicting injury on the industries, or, imposing disabilities on the employers of Australia.
– I sincerely congratulate Senator Pearce on the very moderate and logical way in which he has put his views before the Senate. But I hope, with the same moderation and liberal spirit, to show the Senate that there is another way of looking at industrial disputes - that there are other methods of settlement which are adopted by the working men of the 40,000,000 of population in Great Britain, and by the working men of the 80,000.000 in the United States. To those methods the Labour Party of Australia seem to have given no thought whatever.
– Sometimes working men in America kill one another.
– The interjections of the honorable senator are always irrelevant,, and sometimes rude, so that he will forgiveme if I do not reply. I welcome all interjections which help me to work out my argument - which show me where I am right or where I am wrong. We do not need to be told that sometimes men kill each other in America ; we are all aware of the fact. What I shall have to show by-and-by is that the very principle on which the Labour Party of Australia are basing this Bill - the principle of hostility, as opposed to identity of interests - will probably lead the workmen of Australia in time to come to kill their employers. I should like, first of all, to deal with some of the remarks made by Senator Pearce. I think the honorable senator has forgotten, in the argument which he tried to adduce, the very basic principle on which we became a United Australia. The honorable senator knows that some thirty-nine branches of administration were given over to the Federal Parliament, and he also knows that every other branch, including the railways, was left under the supreme control of the States. I was rather astonished to hear my clear-headed friend say that by fixing wages, and dealing with disputes amongst the railway employes of the States, the Federal Arbitration Court would not be interfering with the railways. I should have thought that fixing the hours of labour and other conditions under which the railway men are to work was interfering in the most absolute manner between the States and their employes. It appears to me that the Constitution absolutely forbids our doing anything of the kind. I an,- not in love with the idea which has pertained in the other House, that because the two parties are evenly balanced, or rather mixed in regard to their ideas and policies, the States railways servants should be included in the Bill, nine-tenths of the honorable members knowing such a provision to be wrong, but being willing to leave the matter for settlement by the High Court. As a senator representing the whole of Tasmania, I do not like that view of my duty. It is my duty in every way to uphold the powers and privileges of the Federal Parliament within the meaning of the Constitution, but it is certainly not nay duty as a senator to give away States rights - to insert provisions in the Bill which have no right to be there, and, while I know the provisions to be wrong, to be content to leave it to the High Court to set the matter right. I do not think that anybody can regard such a clause as constitutional. But, even supposing that, by some wonderful chance, the clause turns out to be constitutional, it is, to my mind, most inexpedient. Such a provision can only be constitutional owing to the Convention having made a terrible blunder, because it is absolutely inconsistent with the basis on which the Constitution was framed. I ask you, Mr. President, to consider what would happen in South Australia if one of the Judges of the High Court, sitting as an Arbitration Court, made an award by which the employes on the South Australian railways were to receive one shilling, or sixpence, per day more in wages, or work an hour a day less. Would the Premier of South Australia take the slightest notice of such an award ? If the High Court decided that it was legal, I do not believe for one moment that any State Government would consent to be dictated to by any Federal tribunal on a subject which was left to the absolute control of the States. The railways are more safeguarded in the Constitution than any other branch of administration. The railways cannot be dealt with in any way without the consent of all the States; indeed, the railways are hedged around with safeguards in the most remarkable manner.
– Does the honorable senator say that the railways cannot be dealt with in any way by the Commonwealth Government or Parliament?
– Not by the Federal Government or Parliament.
– Could the Federal Parliament not take the railways for military or defence purposes ?
– The Commonwealth Government have extensive powers in regard to defence, simply because that was the one branch of administration which really brought about the unity of Australia. It was defence considerations, together with the desire for Inter-State free-trade, more than anything else, that led us to vote for the Constitution.
– But the honorable senator’s assertion was that we could not deal with the railways in any way.
– My assertion is that the Commonwealth cannot deal with the railways in any way. As I understand the law. it is that on all the matters handed over we are supreme. It was on that account I never took up the idea that Tasmania was robbed of a right when we enacted that the Post Office should not carry Tattersalls letters. What is the use of handing over to us branches of administration unless in those branches of administration we are supreme? But the railways, together with the police, education, and other matters, were left to the absolute control of the States, and no amount of argument or sophistry will ever dislodge the States from that position. It is a blot on our legislation mid statesmanship to pitchfork such a provision as that relating to the railway servants into the Bill, and trust to the High Court to ‘disallow it. Nothing will rob our friends opposite of the argument which they are constantly using, that we have a mandate from the people to pass such legislation. I was rather amused at Senator Pearce getting into a state of warmth and enthusiasm on the subject. Are we going to refer to the people of Australia -
I some of whom cannot read or write, and some of whom never read, although they can - a constitutional question of this sort? Are we chosen as representatives of the people to shirk a duty of this sort, and hand back to our constituents one of the very matters they are incapable of settling for themselves? Certainly not. I contend that the proposal to insert this provision is grossly illegal ; and if it is constitutional it is owing to a slip of those who framed the Constitution, and who never saw that the section referring to conciliation and arbitration conflicted with the fact that the railways are left to the control of the States. I think I have put my position clearly. If my friends opposite like to answer me byandby, let them do so. I cannot change my mind on the subject, because this question goes to the real root of our unity as a Federation. If we interfere in a matter of this sort, we may bring about disaster. Returning for a moment to the beginning of Senator Pearce’s argument, I should like to deal with the question of why a twothirds majority of the workers in Great Britain say they will have nothing to do with compulsory arbitration. So far as I understand the workers among the 82,000,000 of people in the United States have never seriously considered the question of adopting the principle. In the report of the Congress of workers in England I never saw any reference to any distrust of the Judges. I desire to confirm what Senator Symon said when he discredited and expressed unbelief in the statement that the workers, or any other class in a British community, had come to such a pass that they distrusted their Judges, and thought the latter would be biased and prejudiced by class differences, and not deal out fair play and equity. I never read or heard of that as being one of the reasons for rejecting compulsory arbitration. But Senator Pearce read an extract from the Annual Register, which stated that it was possible that was the reason - that the people distrusted the Judges, on account of the decision in the Taff Vale case. I presume that when cables are sent out, the people who compose them pick out the most prominent features and the strongest arguments; but we are told that the Trades Union Congress rejected the motion, because they refused to give up their right of striking. ‘
– Then the. honorable senator is going to vote against the Bill ? jo a 2
– The honorable senator might as well ask me if I am going to vote against a majority of a dozen men.
– Why quote the. Labour Party in England?
– I am answering Senator Pearce’s argument, that it is because of a certain decision in the Taff Vale case, that the workers- distrust the Judges. To what pass have we come when the democracy of Australia, or my friends of the Labour Party, take up the position that the whole industrial life of the community is to be given over to one Judge, and that there need be only one adverse award when he, like the Judges of England, will be deemed unworthy of credence - when it will be said that the Judges are of the upper and middle classes, and cannot be looked to for justice for the masses? If the same argument as used as has been used in England, the whole Arbitration Bill will fall to the ground. Nothing is clearer than that, under this Bill, the whole industrial life of the Commonwealth is to be given over to one Judge. I should like to ask what is to happen if we happen to have a socialistic Judge? What would happen if we had a Judge who frequently permitted his heart to run away with his head ? I could name one Judge who is dead, and another who is living at the present time, and I firmly believe that on every occasion the sympathies of those two men would be found to be, not with the class from which they came, but with the workers and the lower classes.
– There are no lowe classes.
– I am equally certain that there are a number of Judges who, perhaps quite unconsciously, would be biased, and would give verdicts against the workers.
– The honorable and learned senator is mistrusting the Judges.
– That is a most unworthy remark ; I am doing nothing of ihe kind. I confirm’ everything that was said by Senator Symon to the effect that the Judges should not be mistrusted. But if it is right for Senator Pearce to say that the working men in England, by a majority of three to one, have decided against- compulsory arbitration only because they cannot trust the Judges, it is certainly not too much to expect that the Labour Party in Australia might, say the same thing if an award were given against them.
– The honorable and learned senator is showing why we should mistrust the Judges - because a Judge might be actuated bv unconscious bias.
– I’ am showing that it is dangerous to trust the whole industrial life of the Commonwealth to any one man, who may be influenced by the prejudices of his class, whether he be a Socialist or a Conservative. Would my honorable friends opposite allow me to be a Judge of an Arbitration Court? Does my honorable friend Senator de Largie imagine that I would allow him to be a Judge of an Arbitration Court? Certainly not, if I could prevent it. We should each have the prejudice, or bias, of our class, and, even unconsciously to ourselves, we should find it difficult to hold evenly the scales of justice. Frederick the Great said years ago that it was the duty of the State to hold the balance between the classes and the masses. I think that Bismarck said the same thing. The State means the representatives of the whole of the people, and I decline to say that one man should be allowed to hold the balance between the various classes in .the community.
– The honorable and learned senator has spoken of the bias of his class. To what class does he belong?
– Senator Higgs does not apparently understand the meaning of plain language. I was not referring specially to my class, but to the class to which every man belongs. My honorable friends opposite credit me with belonging to the Conservative class. One honorable senator very often amuses me by going through a list, and saying So-and-so is a Democrat, and So-and-so is a Conservative. I am as liberal as is any man on some questions, but I hope I am thoroughly conservative on others. I hope that in dealing with all legislation I am agreeable to a reasonable amount of progress, checked by that proper caution and prudence which every man ought to use, and which I believe every man does use, in the conduct of his own affairs. Some of our honorable friends opposite appear to think that ye should be so democratic as to set aside all checks of caution and prudence. This placarding; of honorable senators as Democrats and Conservatives’ reminds me that an old English squire said the other day, “ It is all nonsense to tate about parties and classes ; there are only two parties left, and those are the ‘ Liberals’’ and the D - d Liberals.’ “ I am a Liberal, and if my honorable friends opposite belong to the other class I have no objection. I remind Senator Pearce of what has happened as a consequence of the operation of the New Zealand Act. At the time the dispute in ,the furniture trade occurred telegrams were sent home on more than one occasion by the Socialist Party in Auckland and Wellington to warn workers in the old country that they should have nothing to do with compulsory arbitration, as the Arbitration Court could not be trusted, and the Judges of the Court in New Zealand had been giving unfair and unjust decisions. I ventured while the honorable senator was speaking to interject that that might account for a little of the feeling which he thinks exists in the old country.
– Could the honorable and learned senator give us the date of those telegrams?
– I know that I had them by me for reference in case this Bill should come before us, as it ought to have done, two years ago. An award was made in connexion with a dispute in the furniture trade. It was proposed that the wages should be increased from is. or is. id. to is. 3d. The manufacturers said that they could no.t keep their factories open if they paid the wage which was asked for. The leaders of the men would not allow them to take a lower wage, though I believe they were willing to do so. As a matter of fact, the furniture factories were shut up, and seventy-one men were sent about their business, and suffered loss of employment for some months. As a result of the Arbitration Court award in that case cables were sent to England from two different centres in New Zealand bv the “ Socialist Party,” as they were called, not the Labour Party, criticising the action of the Court, and saying that it was not to be trusted. Unless we can secure the services of a man possessed of the keenest sense of right, and one who can absolutely set aside class prejudice, this legislation is bound to be a failure. I understood that every honorable senator admitted that if we do not get the right class of man as Judge of the Arbitration Court, this Bill cannot give satisfaction. .Some of the criticisms I have read upon this measure go to show that the tribunal proposed is a mistake; that instead of having one Judge, who knows nothing whatever about industries, we should have business men who know something about all industries, and who at the same time possess judicial minds.
– Where are we to get those men?
– That is a question for honorable senators opposite to decide. The fault is in the system they propose; it is not my system. I have no doubt it might be more difficult to get a layman, who understood various industries, with a judicial mind than it would be to secure a Judge with a knowledge of industries.
– I - If we have assessors on each side we need the Judge only to weigh the evidence. The assessors will be experts in industries.
– But they will not be experts; they will simply be barrackers for their own side, and their judgment will be tinged in many ways by the information poured into them. They will not have the calm judicial mind which they ought to have.
– B - But the Judge will have a judicial mind, and it is he who must weigh the evidence.
– And the proposal is that one man shall decide everything.
– But that is exactly what happens in every other Court.
- Senator Pearce has spoken of a strike which was averted in Western Australia by the operation of the Arbitration Act in force in that State. I followed the dispute to which the honorable senator referred with very great interest, because it was the first great case under the Act. I had the pleasure of speaking to the laymen who conducted the case - lawyers were not allowed to appear - on behalf of the mine-owners, and I say that, considering the dividends which the mines were paying, it was an unjust and a cruel thing for the mine-owners in Great Britain to send out instructions that wages must be reduced. I am very glad indeed that the matter was settled without a strike, but I point out to Senator Pearce that the case only takes him a very small step towards proving that this legislation is a success. Where we have to deal with successful industries in a State like Western Australia, which has been on the upgrade since the arbitration law came into force, and where we have one of the wealthiest communities in the world, it is easy to set up an Arbitration Court, and the workers may ask for concessions again and again, as in some industries they do, although in the case referred to the award lasted for two years. But when things are depressed, and times are bad; when dividends are not being received by the shareholders of companies, the real difficulty in settling industrial disputes arises. This leads mc to touch on a matter on which Senator Pearce was speaking the other day, which has no reference to one of the fundamentals - not one of my fundamentals, as Senator de Largie interjected, but one of the fundamentals upon which the world’s business life must be conducted if it is to be conducted prosperously. I need not trouble honorable senators with all the particulars of the case, but I may say that at Mount Lyell the miners were getting 9s. a day. It was a wealthy mine at one .time. It has paid enormous dividends, and though it is not so wealthy now, it is’ still paying dividends. The owners of the mine at Mount Farrell, a’few miles away from the Mount Lyell mine, proposed to reduce the wages of the miners .to 8s. 4d. a day. That mine had taken months to develop, all the capital was expended, the shareholders were paying calls, and there was no chance of dividends.
– T - The honorable and learned senator knows the difference in the cost of living between the two places ; he should put the matter fairly.
– When these men, in the altered conditions, were asked to accept a reduction in wages from 9s. to 8s. 4d. per day, they declined to do so, and when I passed through the place on my electoral campaign, I found them all idle, smoking their pipes along the railway line. I now come to the point. Are the Labour Party in Australia going to insist that the members of unions in every State in the Commonwealth shall receive 9s. per day in every industry ? Are they prepared to insist on the payment of the same rate of wages to miners engaged in scores of mines which are hardly paying expenses, and from which the shareholders have never received a single dividend, as are paid to those engaged in paying mines.
– What system does the honorable and learned senator’s profession adopt in fixing rates of pay?
– I am criticising the system proposed by my honorable friends opposite, and they would do better to answer my criticisms than to try to shift the burden on to me. I say that if the Labour Party in Australia is going to adopt a principle of that sort, the effect must inevitably be to drive capital out of our industries, to prevent capital from being brought here, and to sow a want of confidence In the minds of all who have a shilling to invest in mining. I do not believe for a moment that we can sue cessfully carry on the industrial life of the Commonwealth upon any such rotten principle. I should like my honorable friends to say whether there is to be any distinction made between a factory that is paying well, and one that is not paying at all ? I should like them to say whether they do not think their scheme will do more harm than good if it is applied indiscriminately to small factories established here and there, and to small mines in various States employing perhaps in the aggregate thousands of men who must be dismissed from employment if it is insisted that the minimum wage, whatever it may be, 8s., 9s., or 10s. a day, shall apply in all industries, without regard to the fund from which wages are paid, and without regard to the competition amongst those carrying on the industries. I say that that kind of thing must bring about disaster.
– The honorable and learned senator knows that we have never suggested anything of the kind.
– I am astonished to hear Senator McGregor say that. The speech delivered by Senator O’Keefe was certainly in that direction, and the principle of a minimum wage is all in that direction. We know that our friends would wish to have equality of wages, and to my mind that is one of the fundamental blots upon the whole of their policy. I think it can be proved absolutely that no such principle can be successfully adopted.
– There is not a uniform wage in two districts in Western Australia.
– The principle operates with reasonable success in the medical and legal professions.
– My honorable friend has used a very bad illustration, because while one man in the legal profession may get twenty guineas for a case, another man may get 200 guineas for the same case.
– What is the minimum ? There is ‘ no minimum, and there is a’ taxing master to be reckoned with besides.
– Senator Pearce has shown that the gold mines of Western Australia have been paying 26 per cent, on the nominal capital.
– No ; only the dividendpaying mines.
– Taking the whole of the mines in the State, the dividend on the invested capital is between 3 and 4 per cent.
– We are driven back to what are the true economic principles. If all the gold mines in Western Australia are returning only that small percentage, it shows that many of them are not paying a dividend. I ask my honorable friends if we cannot devise some system which shall be based on identity or mutuality of interest between the owner and the worker.
– D - Do the owners ever want it, or show a desire for it?
– So long as my honorable friends agitate for something else, so long as they pin their faith to one phrase, “ compulsory arbitration,” the democracy will not consider any other scheme. I wish the democracy led by my honorable and sometimes sensible friends to consider this alternative. ‘ I do not desire them to pin their faith to one particular thing, and imagine that it is a panacea for all evils.
– What is the honorable and learned senator’s alternative?
– I have already laid down the principle of my alternative, and thai is to recognise that the industrial prosperity of the Commonwealth can only be based upon a foundation of identity of interest between workers and capitalists. The rights of. the capitalists are sacred; the rights of the men, who ‘ have the skill to direct and employ capital, are sacred, and the rights of the workers are sacred. The rights of the three parties are sacred ; but my honorable friends opposite only wish to consider the rights of labour to be sacred.
– What about the rights of the speculator?
- His rights will be protected if capital is protected; but he cannot be protected against losing his money. I should like Senator Pearce to recognise that when I used the argument about gold-mining in Victoria, I relied upon a statistician who ‘took out the statistics as well as he could, and showed’ conclusively that for thirty years these mines had cost £ 1,000, 000 more in wages than the total value of the gold extracted. So that under the socialist scheme of my hon- orable friends, the State would have had to give £33,000 odd a year for thirty years to meet the wages of the gold-miners. That brings us down to bed-rock.
– H - How much money did the sharebrokers make during that time?
– It is quite likely that sharebrokers and others may have made a lot of money, but it is clear that tens of thousands of pounds were lost, that money went out like water, that speculators got no return, and that the miners got the whole of their wages as a first charge.
– What did their wages amount to during that period?
– I do not know, but the wages aggregated £1,000,000 more than the value of the gold extracted. If, by passing wretched measures, which are not founded on common sense or sound principle, my honorable friends give to the speculator or capitalist for the next thirty years the same outlook, do they believe that he will put his capital into mines, if he thinks that he cannot get a reasonable dividend? Do they ever think for a moment that the capitalist is entitled to a living interest just as the worker is entitled to a living wage ? We all admit that the workers’ wages take priority, ‘but when that deduction is made, is not the capitalist entitled to a living interest? He is, as a matter of justice, if it can be obtained, but if he is not, capital will suffer or else be withdrawn from’ this sort of investment. I contend that the moment the men have got their wages as a first charge, it ought to be theii bounden duty to work hard for eight hours a day, or whatever the time may be, in order to try to give the owner a living interest. But if my Honorable friends have a system which is based on hostility, and under which a workman is to say, “ 1 shall make blooming Mr. Capital sit up ; we’ll take him to court,” we shall have nothing but injustice, strife, unrest, and dissatisfaction to the whole community. And they will put it in the power of people to say, “ Yes, New Zealand may be a worker’s paradise, but it is also a capitalist’s purgatory.” We want to make a paradise for both parties, but my honorable friends opposite will not help us in that direction. The next point which Senator Pearce dealt with at some length was the question of preference to unionists. I congratulate my honorable friend upon the clever arguments which he used, but I think that there is a fatal flaw in them. I read with very great pleasure the report of the debate in the other House which centred round the amendment of Mr. Glynn, and in which Mr. Thomson also spoke. It was urged that in order to work this measure organization is necessary, but that it ought to be an organization simply framed for the purposes of the Act, that the men ought to subscribe their penny or half-penny per week to carry out its provisions, and that we ought not to mix up an organization for the purposes of the Act with an organization of these political unions. Senator Pearce stated his case very ably and with considerable candour. But what did he say? He said that the unionists who had devoted their time, intellect, and money to the question of the unions for years, and won all these victories for the labouring classes, were now entitled to consideration, and that, therefore, we ought to pass a measure, in justice to them, to compel every other working man to join their unions.
– Did I say that?
– The honorable senator said something very like it.
– What is the meaning of preference to unionists, then?
– I never said that.
– If the honorable senator did not say that he said practically the same thing.
– He said that unionists were entitled to be protected from being victimized by unfair employers, and, all things being equal, to get a preference.
– Practically, he said it was a preference whereby unionists would get priority of work, and we all know that the whole of the labouring men would be compelled to join the unions.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable and learned senator is deliberately misrepresenting what I said. 1 have assured him that I did not make the statement which he attributed to me, but he still persists in saying that I did.
– I understood the honorable and learned senator to qualify his original statement.
– I am very sorry that Senator Pearce should accuse me of deliberately misrepresenting him. I said that he asked for preference to unionists, with priority of work, and I went on to qualify that statement by saying that we all know that then every worker would be compelled to join the unions.
– I understood the honorable and learned senator to put these words into my mouth. I do not “object to him expressing his own opinion.
– Let us consider the power which the honorable senator wishes to confer on these unions under the guise of putting down strikes by compulsory arbitration. My honorable friends opposite know perfectly well that one of the gravest objections to preference to unionists is that unions are, and have always been, political bodies. They enter into political fights. They do. not possess those fair and equable rules which they ought to have if we are practically or theoretically to compel all men’ to join them. Let us take the case of the largest union in Australia? The Australian Workers’ Union is practically a shearers’ union. After it was registered the Machine Shearers’ Union was registered, and on two occasions the former has tried to get the registration of the latter cancelled. But on each occasion the Registrar of the Arbitration Court in Sydnev has said that the rules of the large shearers’ union are so unreasonable, and so calculated to deprive a man of his free rights, and make a slave of him politically, that he declined to cancel the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union. We know from our reading that there are a number of other unions which in their rules impose unfair conditions, and that, no matter how we may try in this measure to make them fair, we shall not succeed. Only the other day an unfortunate cooper, who had been working for a man for six years, was told that he must join the Coopers’ Union. When he went to join, what did he find ? He found that the union has a test. Before it would allow him to join, or rather to get work - for that is what it means - it set him to make a cask with wood which he had not been handling before. Well, he made the cask, and although his employer had been satisfied for six years, and wished to employ him, the union said that he had not passed the test, and could not be admitted.
– I - Is not this the Argus version ?
– It is the true version. The Coopers’ Union has a “ test-out.” That is the kind of union which my honorable friends opposite wish us to clothe with legal power against other sections of their class Their argument for preference to unionists might carry some weight if about two-thirds of the men belonged to unions. If about two-thirds of the men had sympathy for and confidence in unions, they might well ask, “Why should we be prohibited from working under this Act, as we wish, in a fair, friendly, kindly, and equitable spirit, simply because a minority of workers will not join us?” Wherever I obtain statistics - whether I look to Broken Hill or to New Zealand, or to the shearers - I find that the unionists are in a hopeless minority. I find that the unions are only making headway where there has been agitation with an Arbitration Act, and that in other places the membership of the unions is decreasing. For instance, the Australian Shearers’ Union numbered 20,891 men in 1902, 13,141 men in 1903, and 11,538 men in 1904. So that in less than three years it lost 7,000 or 8,000 members.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator know that the drought has had a lot to do with that?
– I know that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which was framed specially to do a fair thing between employer and employe, had hardly got into working order when the Australian Workers’ Union took advantage of the drought to strike. Finding that some land-owners were losing their sheep by thousands and millions, the members of this union struck, showing that some unionists do not want a Bill which will give them peace. On the contrary, they desire a measure which will allow them to have their own way, and if they can not get their own way they will refuse to work, in spite of any law that may be passed. In 1902 the Machine Shearers’ Union commenced with 523 members. In 1903 it had 1,818 members, and in 1904 2,737 members. Can my honorable friends opposite account for the large shearers’ union losing 7,000 or 8,000 members in. a period of three years?
– Yes, it was because of boycotting and of drought.
– I think that the provisions of this Bill should be confined to one class - sailors - in order to prevent a maritime strike. I do not think that it can be justly or equitably applied to any other class. I do not consider that, according to the provision in the Constitution or the rules of common sense, it -can be held to apply to a dispute until it has extended beyond the limits of a State. It will be extended very much as a matter of sympathy, and to bolster up other unions. As a matter of actuality, there is not a single industry that can be mentioned, except that of the seamen and waterside workers, that constitutionally has anything to do with this Bill. I should like to ask my honorable friends opposite how they account for the enormous falling off in the membership of these unions?
– The boycotting of the Australian Workers’ Union by the pastoralists.
– Let me give another illustration of the reason why the unions do not attract the majority^ of workers. A little while ago I was having my hair cut, and began to talk with the hairdresser about some recent legislation. I asked him whether the same wages were paid here as in New South Wales. He said, “ No, I believe the wages in New South Wales are about £2 5s. per week.” He added that he believed, that 80 per cent, of the hairdressers are working for reduced wages, and that the Arbitration Act in New South Wales had not in any way .helped the members of his trade. I asked, “ Do you belong to the union” ? He said, “No.” I asked, “ Why not “ ? He said, “ Because they want too much ; they ask for everything. They want, for instance, a halfholiday on the very day on which most business is done. I have had a hairdresser’s shop in the suburbs, and I know that Saturday afternoon and evening are the times when hairdressers look to getting business to pay their rent.” He went on to say that because the union was too greedy in asking for more than the shopkeepers could reasonably afford to pay, he declined to join it, and that there were others in the same position. There must be some reason for this absolute decline in the membership of unions, and for the fact that the bulk of the workers are outside their ranks. How can we be asked to give a preference to the minority of a class? How can .we be asked to pass an Act of Parliament to interpose between a man and his work, or to introduce the union secretary or his officials between a workman and his employment? Because that is what it comes to.
– Does the honorable and learned senator make that statement after reading the Bill?
– I have read the Bill, and I have also read the case of the Wharf
Labourers’ Union in New South Wales. A more disgraceful piece of tyranny I never heard of. Here were these wharf labourers carrying on their business, quite content with their conditions, and they were told that unless they became members of the union they could not get work any more. They naturally wanted to join, but were told they could not. They asked why they could not join, and were told that the books were closed. Affidavits were brought to show that the books were closed. They asked, “ When will they be opened “ ? and were told, “ That is for you To find out.”
– What was the end of that case?
– The Judge said’ that the union had behaved wrongly, and made them pay costs.
– So they did behave wrongly, and very few unions have behaved like that.
– But the Australian Workers’ Union have behaved far more wrongly.
– Were they not made to behave rightly in consequence of the Arbitration Act?
– I am pointing out that this legislation will have the effect of putting the union secretary between the workmen and the means of earning his livelihood. If a Conservative were to make such a proposal, I believe he would be hounded out of public life. I object to give this power to unions which, after all, are mere political organizations. I could go through the list of the unions, and show how the membership of others has declined. I find, for instance, that in the Newcastle Coal Trimmers’ Union the numbers have decreased from 330 to 307. It is true that in the Amalgamated Railway and Tramway Workers’ Union, in New South Wales, the numbers have gone up from 1,755 to 3;794> but what is the reason for that? The reason is that these tramway employes in New South Wales wanted to have a flutter under the Arbitration Act. They therefore filed a plaint in order to get higher wages and better conditions. They banded themselves together, and all the men joined the union. Then thev formulated a plaint with seventy-nine different and distinct issues, and filed if against the Commissioners. When there is any political object to be gained, or any fighting to be done, or benefits to be obtained, the men will join the unions. But in other cases the unions are going down. After these men had filed their plaint, the question arose whether the Court in New South Wales had the right to settle a dispute between the tramway employes and the Railway Commissioners. I suppose the union found that there was a constitutional difficulty, so they set to work to confer. They reduced the seventy-five points of dispute down to fourteen. The Commissioners would not agree to about five of their demands, but they agreed to the others, and eventually they settled the seventy-nine issues by sitting round a table and trying to do the right thing. That shows that these matters can be settled peacefully and quietly. If this Bill would have the effect of preventing strikes and promoting peace in industrial concerns, I should be strongly in favour of it. But, while it pretends to do away with strikes, and will do so as long as there are no awards against the workers, it will create strife in every possible way.
– Except for unions, what peace and harmony should we have in industrial affairs ?
– We shall have peace and harmony so long as we proceed in accordance with economic laws. I find that the membership of the Amalgamated Glass Workers’ Union has decreased from 160 to 72. The Sydney Wharf Labourers’ Union has dwindled from 2,639 to 2,295. I take it that that is owing to the fact that the union , is very ‘exclusive - that practically they do not want men to join their ranks. They want to get all the work for themselves, and to rob their fellow-men of the same rights. I maintain that we have no right to put up a barrier between a man and his toil ; for work means meat for the workman and his wife and children. I find that the Shipwrights’ Union has dwindled from 358 to 346, and the New South Wales’ Locomotive Engine-drivers’, Firemen’s, and Cleaners’ Association from 1,415 to 1..386. Of course, I can understand that in some of these cases workmen may have left the locality, and that may account for the decrease. Now, I desire to deal with three or four points which go to the heart of this Bill. The very foundation of the measure is wrong, because it undoubtedly will create strife. It does not say to the worker and- the employer that their interests are identical. It does not make for that content and that real respect which ought to exist’ between the employer and the worker.
My honorable friend Senator Pearce read to us an account of the terrible doings in Colorado. I had intended to read something to the same effect. Some of the strikers in that case endeavoured to blow up with dynamite a railway platform upon which there were some non-union workers. They poisoned the water supply, shot at their opponents, and so forth.
– That is very much better than arbitration !
– It is not better than arbitration, but if we were to endeavour to adopt a system of profit-sharing which would encourage the worker to do his best, it would have far better results than a measure of this kind. There are scores of cases of national co-operation under which it would be impossible for these things to happen. But I say that under this Bill my honorable friends are paving the way for blowing things to pieces with dynamite and doing all kinds of things of that sort. If you start with a principle which presupposes that employers and employes must always be enemies - a principle under which you are absolutely promoting strifes - such events will be likely to occur.
– It is a libel to say that the workmen of Australia would resort to such tactics.
– I am talking about what was done by workmen at the Colorado mines ; but if my honorable friend wants me to deal with the working classes of Australia, I point out that we have heard of wool-sheds being burnt, and of cases of violence and lawlessness in times of strike. I know what human nature is, and the working men of Australia are no better, I suppose - or no worse - than are working men elsewhere.
– They are far better.
– I say that there is a system which we could adopt which would apparently lead in the direction of peace, harmony, and the mutual interest of all classes. Have honorable senators opposite read Gilman’s book. If honorable members opposite read the Civic Federation of America they will know what is going on - thev will see that thousands, almost millions, qf men are being brought under the operation of such an arrangement. An agreement was first arrived at in New York, and was known as the New York agreement. This has been adopted in Massachusetts, and also in many parts of England. It is set forth that in every factory, or in any place where men belonging to unions are working, together, there is to be, first of all, a Joint Committee of three from each side. If any dispute takes place, the Joint Committee sit, it may be night after night, and endeavour to arrive at a settlement. If no decision is arrived at, the dispute goes to the Board of Conciliation, the members of which are appointed by the owners and workers. If the Board of Conciliation cannot decide, the question is sent to the Voluntary Court of Arbitration, and if this latter fails, then there is the right of appealing to arbitrators appointed by the Board of Trade. The Joint Committee has settled hundreds of disputes ; the Board of Conciliation has settled scores; the Voluntary Court of Arbitration has settled dozens, and a great many disputes have been settled by the arbitrators appointed by the Board of Trade. The agreement goes on to stipulate that no strike is allowed. Pass an Act of Parliament if you can to carry out a stipulation of that kind.
– If no strike or lockout is allowed, that is compulsory arbitration.
– I am now merely pointing out what I think is the better plan, and what has been done in England and the United States at the very’ time compulsory arbitration with preference to unionists is being proposed here.
– There is nothing to prevent all that being done under the Bill.
– I know there is nothing to prevent all that being carried out, except human nature. When we have said to the working men that there is an Arbitration Court, and that whatever claims they can conceive or manufacture they may take to it, the plan which I have outlined is not likely to be resorted to. This is called a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but it is nothing less than a Compulsory Arbitration Bill, and I do not know why it should not be called by its proper name. I do not think that any one reading the words in the Constitution would dream that such a compulsory system was contemplated by the Federal Convention. A point which might very well be taken is whether, under the Constitution, there can be compulsion of the sort. What is the meaning of “ conciliation and arbitration “ ? Is there any “ conciliation “ in telling the tramway employes that they can appeal to the Court with a long list of issues? It is all very well to say that conciliation has been tried, and that it has failed in South Australia ; but it was the men who made it fail.
– It was the” employers.
– If advocates of this kind of legislation would devote a tithe of the time and eloquence to the advocacy of such a plan as I have described, that they do to the Bill, the whole phase of our industrial life and political agitation would change. Men would be made happier and more contented.
– We have a lot of men in South Australia like the honorable and learned senator, whom we cannot convince.
– You will not sufficiently convince me to adopt a system which does not recognise the identity of interests. I wish to have a living wage, and, as far as I can, a living interest afterwards.
– What does the honorable and learned senator call a living wage ?
– Would the honorable and learned senator like me to spend an hour in defining a living wage ? Iam talking about principles and not going into details.
– The . honorable and learned senator told certain people in Tasmania that 5s. a day was enough for them.
– I am astonished at Senator Keating, who ought to know better than to make an unworthy interjection of that sort.
– Is it true; that is the question ?
– It is not true - it is true with a qualification.
– The honorable and learned senator told certain people that 5s. a day was enough for them.
– The honorable and learned senator is repeating a statement made ten or twelve years ago, and’which has followed me all round the island. I thought that Senator Keating would have had more sense and more common decency and honesty than to make such a statement. When I was in office Tasmania was going headlong down hill. That was towards the break up of the land boom, and every hour I was in office the revenue was coming down and down. The only way I could make ends meet was to reduce the wages of everybody, including my own wages. When men came to me asking that- public works should be started, I had no money for the purpose, and at last we had to provide relief works. It was stated openly that those were relief works, and some of the men engaged received wages as low as 4s., 4s. 6d., and 5s. It was then I said that that wage was enough for them to live on for the time being - enough to enable them to obtain the necessaries of life. In discussing this Bill, honorable senators will have noticed that I am dealing with the general principle of arbitration, because the measure is so complete in all its details that it might be made a State arbitration law. I have already stated that I think it is a very great blunder to make the measure one of general application, and that it should apply only to the maritime workers. It is a very grave question whether even the shearers should be included in it. I have dealt with the point that instead of seeking to devise a system for the settlement of industrial disputes upon the principle of identity of interests, sympathy, mutual respect, and confidence, we have proposed a system of litigation. The second objection I raise to the measure is that it must be found impracticable in operation, and must break down. We have already had some examples to show that it may become impossible at any moment to carry out an award of the Arbitration Court. Tt will depend solely upon the temper of the men, upon their sense of justice, their respect for the Judge and the Court, and in the last resource I suppose it will depend on selfinterest. If ever the time should come when it will be to the self-interest of the nien not to obey an award, and the- question involved is one of great moment, or thf.. wages involved amount to a considerablesum, most certainly they will mot obey it On the other hand, when an award is made which seeks to compel a factory owner to carry on his factory with very low returns for his money, and without sufficient compensation for the risks that he runs, he will shut the doors of his factory, and no Court in the world can compel him to keep them open. I have already instanced the case of the furniture factories in New Zealand, which were closed tor some months. A number of illustrations of the difficulties of working such a measure could be given. We need not say very much about the Teralba mining dispute, but it must be borne in mind that 200 or 300 men, after an award had been given by the Arbitration Court, from which they expected so much, absolutely declined to go on working under it.
– Did they not do so ultimately ?
– For six weeks and two days they refused to obey the award, and I believe it was owing only to the persuasion of the union leaders, consequent upon this measure being before Parliament, that the men in that case agreed to submit to the award.
– Does the honorable and learned senator ‘ think that the union leaders would not have used their influence, if this measure had not been before the Federal- Parliament?
– 1 do net say whether they would or would not. I suppose it would depend on whether they thought the award was just or unjust.
– The honorable ami learned senator said it was consequent upon this Bill being, before Parliament.
– I believe they wert. greatly influenced by that fact. The matter was one in connexion with which the men could have laid their complaint against, their employers at any moment, and there was no reason why they should not have given the award a fair trial. The Teralba men would not give it a fair trial until they were persuaded to do so, and until Mr. Wise threatened a prosecution, when they gave in. In the Maitland mines we had a repetition of the same thing. For some days the miners at Maitland refused to obey the award of the Court, though they eventually gave in. Now we have before us the peculiar case of the Newcastle miners, and a very extraordinary state of affairs has arisen in that district recently.
– All the cases to which the honorable and learned senator has just referred have arisen in the Newcastle district.
– I have nol been able to find out what the result has been in this case. So far as I can find out, a fair and equitable method of fixing wages was arrived at. When the price, of coal is up a certain hewing rate is paid, and when it comes down the hewing rate must come down with it. The price of coal unmistakably did; come down, I think from 12 s. to 8s. or 9s. per ton, and according to all the rules of equity and fair play the coal-owners were entitled to demand, and the men in all fairness should have submitted to, a reduction in the hewing rate. But under an agreement between the coal-owners and their employes made three or four years ago, and which the Court found was’ still existing, it appeared that the price of coal had not ‘been legally or technically reduced, and the Arbitration Court decided that the same hewing rate must be paid. A short time afterwards the men asked for something which was contrary to the agreement on which they relied in the other case. They were content with the agreement under which they had the advantage a few days before, and they contended subsequently that it was absolutely dead, and that they were entitled to something in defiance of that agreement. The Arbitration Court pointed out the gross wrong and injustice of their contention that the agreement existed for their benefit, and not for the benefit of the coal-owners, and gave a decision against them.
– The honorable and learned senator is at sea over this matter.
– I believe I am giving the facts exactly. I have read the statement of the case in newspaper after newspaper, and have not seen it contradicted I shall watch with very great interest to see what the outcome of this case will be. Unless they are hidebound on the principle of a uniform rate of wages, honorable senators opposite will admit that the rate of wages must, to some extent, coincide with the value of the article produced. If that is not agreed to, a loss in prices must re; suit in the closing of the factory doors.
– That” will be a matter for the Court to deal with.
– We all know that the Newcastle industry must be largely affected by the export of coal. We have the Japanese nation exporting 4,000,000 tons of coal, while New South Wales exports 2,000,000 tons, and in Japan coalminers are paid the magnificent sum of 9d. a day. These things must be taken into account. We do not desire to reduce the wages paid to our men because wages are low in another country, but if we must reduce them in order to keep factories and mines going, that had better be done than that men should be idle. There is here an economic nut which honorable senators opposite should help me to crack. Japanese coal-miners are receiving 9d. per day, whilst our miners get from 10s. to 15s. per day, and will not submit to a reduction of wages when the price of coal drops.
– Does the honorable and learned senator recommend that the wages of Australian coal-miners should be reduced to 8£d. per day?
– I am criticising ar: important plank of the Labour platform, that of compulsory arbitration, and it is the dutv of Senator McGregor to answemy criticisms if he can. I should like ti.take an illustration from South Australia. I understand that there are 2,500 men employed in the copper mines of that State. Though at times the mines have paid small’ dividends, there have been many years inwhich they have paid no dividends. The men in that State seem .to be reasonablemen. They are working for a wage of 7s. per day, as against 8s. 4a., 9s., 10s.. and 15s. per day paid to miners at Broken Hill. Thev would appear Fo be getting a very low wage indeed, and if I were to suggest that it io a proper wage, I should be accused of sweating, and of gross wrong. As a matter of fact, these 2,500 men art accepting what is really a low wage, because as between themselves and the mineowners they consider it fair.
– No ; because they are put into competition with one another to secure work.
– If Senator Guthrie ‘ knew as much about this matter as Ke does . about some others, he would know tha’ the co-operative principle is in vogue to some extent in the South Australian mines. At all events, the men are content with low wages when the price of copper is low, and the owners are content to raise the wages of their employe’s, and do raise them, when the price of copper goes up. Is noi. that a sound principle on which .to carry on our industries? We must consider our wages fund. As Senator Fraser said the other day, we cannot create a wages fund by Act of Parliament. The law of supply and demand must be taken into account. The value of our goods in the market controls the amount of the fund, and no Act of Parliament which we can pass will enable us to dole out money, irrespective of the fund from which wages must come.
– Will the honorable and learned senator explain the wages fund to us, as he is an authority on “ fundamentals “ ?
– I am pointing ou! that the wages fund must depend on the law of supply and demand, the value of the article produced, and the competition in the industries not only of Australia, but of the wide world. Honorable senators opposite think that the wages fund is nothing, and that we have simply to pass an Act of
Parliament to enable men to get wages at the rate of 10s. per day for all time. I utterly disagree with our honorable friends opposite, and I hope that some of them will get up and explain on what economic laws they propose to carry on the industrial life of this Commonwealth. I was proposing to show that arbitration under this measure is absolutely impracticable, because we cannot provide that the award of the Court shall in every instance be carried out. I have alluded to the furniture case in New Zealand, and I now allude to the award in the printers’’ case in the same Colony. The men were dissatisfied with that award, and as I told the Senate some time ago, they adopted the “ ca’ canny “ principle, and set up the type so slowly that the newspaper was not ready for the runners in the morning when they came for it. If the men had continued that course of action, the newspaper proprietors would probably have been ruined. I say that if at any time men can slow down and refuse to give an honest day’s work for the wage awarded by an Arbitration Court, no Court in the world can prevent them doing so. If some hundreds qf men employed in a large factory are dissatisfied with an award of the Court, and if they think, for instance, that the judge of the Court has treated them1 unjustly because of the class prejudice to which I have referred, it is human nature that they should not be prepared to do very much work. There must be a very great differ,ence in the case of 100 or 1,000 men working contentedly, having confidence in their employers, believing in the justice, not of an award recorded on paper, but of wages paid in proportion to the wage fund, having regard to the living interest to which their employer is entitled. I say that the difference between the position of men working under those conditions and that of men who believe that they are unjustly treated is the difference between light and darkness. These are fundamental matters which our honorable friends opposite should consider. Senator McGregor is always sneering at the arguments I employ, but let me point out to him the difference between a community giving its best and a community which is’ not giving its best, and where men will do no more work than they are compelled to do. I think Senator Pearce heard me use this argument the other night, and it cannot be contradicted. It touches a principle which lies at the foundation of the whole of our industrial life.
The mine- owners of Broken Hill used formerly to work their mines by day labour. They found that under that system the men were getting the best of it, and they were getting the worst of it. Under the day labour system, the men did not raise a ton of ore a day. The quantity they raised was 97 ton. The mine-owners changed the system to one of piece-work. That was a system in the interests of owners and miners, because the more ore the men raised the greater the dividend to the mine-owners and the higher the wages paid to the miners. As the result of the operation of that system, it was found that in the first twelve months the quantity of ore raised was 1*98 tons per day. In the second year, after the men had got used to the work, and had come to recognise that every stroke of the drill and pick was for the benefit of themselves as well as the owners, they mined 3.8 tons.
– Under quite a different system of mining.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to say it was under quite a different system. But that is the difference between payment by results and payment by the day. I could give numerous illustrations to show that the difference between the stroke of the man who has to put in only eight hours and the stroke of the man who is working for himself, or is being paid by the piece, means the difference, between prosperity and ruin. I defy my honorable friend to gainsay that.
– I can cite instances in which employers have refused to agree to the piece system.
– What I wish to put to the leader of the Opposition is this : - That to take the productive force of the Australian community at one ton per man per day seems to be wrong, but that to take it at three tons is prosperity and happiness. If my honorable friends pass any Bill - I do not Care whether it is a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill or any other measure - and reduce the results which ought to flow from the labours of a contented, happy working class, working for themselves in combination with their employers, I contend that it must bring about the gravest disaster. Nobody can tell the difference between the whole community working at a moderate pace, and the whole community working at its best pace, intelligently, honestly, and loyally. In all this labour legislation there is an objectionable want of elasticity, a’ rigidity, a dragging of men down to a uniform level.
– Then the honorable and learned senator objects to Factories Acts and Wages Boards.
– I say that there is a tendency in that direction. In the minimum wage of the Labour Party, and in almost all their proposals, there is a tendency to make men equal, whereas, if we look abroad, we can see that there is no such thing as equality anywhere, but the grossest inequality and the grossest injustice. If my honorable friends have one minimum or average wage, and old men must go and get a certificate before they can work for less, do they suppose that they will promote peace and harmony in the different classes of this community? Do they not know that there are scores of classes in which they could not possibly fix wages by Act of Parliament, unless they had three or four schedules, and even then they would have to allow the employer to be the judge of efficiency, or else create a tribunal for the purpose. These arguments, it appears to me, cannot be evaded. Already we see signs of dissatisfaction with awards, Already we see signs on all sides that the Arbitration Acts are breaking down. If we see these signs among’ the unions in New Zealand, where times have been most prosperous, what shall we see when it gets on the ‘down grade, when money becomes scarce and capital is alarmed, not by reason of the Act, but from other causes, and wages have come down because the wage fund will not pay the demand? Do my honorable friends mean to tell me that the men will stand by month after month and submit to reductions of wages, in the same way as the employers have stood by and submitted to increases of wages? There, again, the whole fight is most unequal. If an employer finds that an award is unjust he cannot shut his factory without ruining himself, without losing half his capital. But working men can go and find other billets. I dare say that they would lose a little, but they would not lose half as much as a factory owner would. Therefore, in that respect the Bill is unjust. My honorable friends cannot make just provision for both parties. It is fundamentally wrong, I think, to take the conduct of a man’s business out of his hands and intrust it to a Court which really knows nothing about it except from the evidence tendered. I can quite understand that under the plan of a joint committee which is advocated, working men could have a voice in the management by mutual consent. But to say that a dispute as to most infinitesimal details of the work of an industry shall be referred to a Court is wrong. We all know that Mr. Justice Cohen, in New South Wales, has condemned that idea, and said that the Arbitration Act ought to be confined, as I think it should, to some five important subjects, and that it is not right to make the Act the medium of asking the Court to settle every little dispute which the men’s brains can conceive of. On this question the Professor of Political Science in William’s College, in America, under the pen name of Mr. H.’ L. Nelson, writes -
All the gain’s of civilization during the last hundred years, as he observes, have been largely the gains of industry ; and nowhere has efficiency resulted from the effort to give the hand which works control over the mind, which plans, and which conducts. Therefore, “ the employer of labour is contending for the maintenance of a system which has brought to us with accumulation of wealth abundance of comfort, of ease, of welfare, of rich opportunities of repose that in its turn, if rightly used, gives an opportunity for the improvement of the intellectual and spiritual side of man. Every limitation of industrial liberty is really an obstacle to economic progress and an arrest of civilization ; and in these circumstances it becomes the duty of the citizen and of the State to defend the old and tried industrial system which, through the operation of the free mind and the free hands of the free man, whether alone or incorporated with others, has given us the splendid gains “o’f the inventors, of the adventurous and far-sighted directors of industrial enterprises, and of the wise and courageous capitalist who, having faith in the future, has embarked his property in services which are for mankind as well as for himself.”
I should like to read what Mr. Praed said the other day at a meeting of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, as it goes to confirm my belief that not more than onethird of the miners belong to the unions, although Senator Pearce has asserted that almost all the men below the surface are unionists.
– I said at Broken Hill, not generally.
– Well, at Broken Hill’. In reply t6 that statement, I have said that, according to the figures I have seen for any part of the Commonwealth or New Zealand, the unionists are in a hopeless minority.
In responding to a vote of thanks to the officers of the A.M. A., Mr. Praed spoke strongly against the condition of affairs in Ballarat. He referred to the fact that less than a dozen of the hundred tributers on strike from the Britannia United mine were members of the association. He had understood that all the miners in Ballarat were unionists. He was very much surprised at the state of affairs. He had no desire to say that the position of the tributers in Ballarat was a good one, for he believed it was quite the contrary. (Hear, hear.) At the same time he did say, without fear oE contradiction, that the men themselves had taken the first move towards bringing about the unsatisfactory conditions by contracting themselves out of the provisions of the Mines Act. [-le contended that the action of the miners in Ballarat twenty-five years ago had fixed the rate of pay at 4s. per week, and that the young men who were benefiting by the efforts of the association were shirking responsibilities which they had no right as honorable men to shirk.
Mr.raed p pointed out that the A.M. A. comprised between 7,000 and 8,000 men, and yet there were 0,000 C or 30,000 miners in the Commonwealth. In these circumstances how could they possibly expect any amelioration of the present unsatisfactory conditions? In concluding, Mr.raed s said they had plenty of enemies outside the association, and they did not want them inside their own ranks.
According to this gentleman, two-thirds of the miners are enemies within the ranks. They ought to join unions, according to mv honorable friends, and they do not. They systematically keep out of them, although the Labour Party have for years been engaged in pointing out the advantages of these political unions, and of all the victories which unions have won. If that is so, why do not these men join?
– What are political unions ?
– Trade unions are political unions.
– - The Amalgamated Miners’ Association is not a political union.
– My honorable friend cannot drag me into a discussion of that sort. Even in New Zealand, where an Arbitration Act has been in force so long, the unionists are in a hopeless minority. I recollect reading a letter to the Times - I for- ‘ get by whom - in which the writer, in reply j to Mr. Reeves, the Agent-General, stated that out of every seven workers in that Colony, five are outside the unions.
– Here are the figures given in an official return.
– According to this official return, in 1903 there were employed in the factories in New Zealand 44,413 males and 14,634 females, making a total of 59,047 employes, of whom 16,700 were unionists and 42,347 non-unionists. These figures bear out’ what I said, that one-third of the workers belong to unions, and twothirds of them hold aloof.
– Who is the authority for the figures?
– The figures appear in an official return, which was presented to the Parliament of New Zealand. We never can get on, because my honorable friends opposite will not admit any facts. If I were to say that black was black they would assert that it was white. I should like them to point out in what way an award could be carried out if the men were dissatisfied. Coming back to the question of the alternaive I I have already mentioned, that the best scheme that I can suggest is a scheme of pro-
I fit-sharing, I can imagine that a scheme could be drawn up by a joint committee representing both sides, and it could be embodied in an Act if preferred, or the mere fact of it being drawn up could be made a legal obligation as between the owners and the workers. The first thing to do would be to pay the wages.
– How could we make the proprietors of a rich mine share their profits with their employes?
– I shall come to that point. This plan is much better than the one which we are considering now, since it would allow full play to a workingman’s ambition to get on. I am not averse to Parliament doing what it can to help a man to get on, so long as it observes economic principles and has regard to what is just arid fair. Under a profit-sharing system, the first claim to be paid is for wages. When rent, or interest, rates and taxes, and working expenses are met, there may be a profit, and out of that profit the working men, having got their wages, ought to give a fair, or what I call a living interest, to the factory-owner. Then comes a question for the joint committee to decide. If there is then a surplus left, the men who got only a moderate wage should get a certain share, and the owners take the balance. In reply to Senator Mulcahy, I would say that if a factory or a mine is paying no dividend working men get a living or a moderate wage, because there is no fund to pay more than that. If a factory or mine is paying a small dividend, the men get their moderate wage with a little added. But in the case of an enormously rich mine, under a system of profit-sharing, they get a splendid wage.
– How are we to compel the owners to agree to such a scheme?
– In the first instance we might consider a system based on good-will, peace, and contentment and mutuality of interest, when there would hardly be any need for compulsion. But if there were that need it might be applied.
I might be against it or I might not, but my objections would be very greatly lessened if I found that every step leading up to that stage was designed to try to yoke the factory-owner and worker together. I know perfectly well that there would hardly be any cause for compulsion. Surely the men who get into a prosperous factory or wealthy mine could afford to pay splendid wages. What harm is there in initiating such a system? Do the Labour Party shrink from applying their own principles? I understand from them that they contend that all wealth is produced by labour and capital combined - probably they will admit with the assistance of skill and energy. Their contention is that labour does not get a fair share of the profits. But, under the profit-sharing principle, I can well understand that miners would make as much as £1 a clay if they were working in a rich mine.
– Could the honorable and learned senator persuade the Broken Hill Proprietary Company to adopt that policy?
– I think we could persuade the bulk of the capitalists to adopt any system that was in conformity with economic laws. But the Labour Party will not advocate anything that is fair. They will not consent to progress by steps. They want to take short cuts, and think they can bring about happiness and contentment by Act of Parliament. I see that Mr. Watson has now got hold of a pretty expression, and one that I believe in. Herbert Spencer points out that one of the greatest blunders of the age is the belief that directly Ave see an evil we can get rid of it by Act of Parliament, and that directly we see a good principle if we put it in an Act of Parliament it will be all right. Herbert Spencer points out that Acts of Parliament are not so powerful as the silent forces of humanity, and that if our Acts of Parliament are contrary to human nature .those silent forces will negative their effect. Mr. Watson, who is, I always understood, a bit of a Socialist, has delivered an address at Ballarat, before the Christian Social Union. He spoke about Socialism, and after talking round the subject for a while, he stated that he does not recommend any particular form of Socialism, but thinks that it is a question of “evolution.” If he would only write that in the forefront of the platform’ of the Labour Party, and his followers would take it up, their position would be far more satisfactory.
– We all recognise that.
– But they do not apply it. I wish them to advocate a system of profit-sharing and co-operation, which is fair and just, and which will work in the direction of peace and contentment.
– That is what this Bill does.
– -It does nothing of the kind. Let honorable senators opposite read in the newspapers what is going on, in this direction, in other parts of the world.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that the proprietors of the Hobart Mercury would agree to share their profits with their employes?
– It is not to be supposed that working men would be allowed to be partners in a business when they had no capital embarked in it. But their .wages would increase in proportion as the profits of the proprietors increased, and if no large profits were made the workmen would get a living wage.
– That system has been tried in England, and has failed.
– It has been tried, but it has not failed.
– Let the honorable and learned senator induce the proprietors of the Argus to try the system.
– There are some industries which might be excepted, but I think that every owner of a business who has tried the system has realized the great success and increase of profit which would accrue under a general system which would benefit the workmen, and induce them to put more skill and energy into their work. Surely amongst the numerous systems of the kind which have been recommended we could pick out a bit from one and a bit from the other, and evolve a better scheme than any that has yet been tried. Certainly, such a system would be better than one which, while it will do away with strikes, will most undoubtedly engender and encourage strife. Another objection which I have to this measure is that it will encourage litigation. We know how prone men are to litigate, and this measure will encourage the practice. In order to show the extent to which co-operation has been tried in England, let me read an extract from a letter by the London correspondent of a Melbourne newspaper. It is headed, “ The
British Example. Old Problems Solved. Triumphs of Mutual Aid.” It reads as follows : -
The thirty-sixth annual congress of the Cooperative Union of the United Kingdom has just concluded at Stratford, an eastern suburb of London. It was a great gathering, fifteen hundred delegates, representing 2,000,000 members of affiliated societies, who, in turn, represent nearly one-fifth of the total population of the island. No paltry concern this, it will be admitted ; no mere flash in the pan to be contemptuously dis-. regarded by the lords of trade and commerce ; but a real, living, powerful movement. An idea of its importance maj be gained from the fact that the turnover last year was greater than the whole export trade of the -United Kingdom at the period when co-operation was first entered upon. Nearly ninety millions sterling was the total, and the net profits were over nine and threequarter millions. These are figures which will surely make the mouths of business folk water. But there is more. A profit of over 30 per cent, on the share capital has been maintained from the very beginning of the movement, as compared with the general average trading profit of 10 per cent. ; and of I00,000 co-operative employes, onefourth are working under co-partnership, profitsharing conditions - steadily becoming more popular.
– Is that in Lancashire ?
– It is in Rochdale. I wonder how many members of this cooperative concern belong to trade unions.
– The great majority of them.
– I beg to differ from my honorable friend.
– They have eliminated the private capitalist altogether in those concerns.
– It is impossible to eliminate the capitalist in the great concerns of the world. What is the practice of the great Steel Trust of America in this respect? Every year they pick out the best of their foremen and make them partners. By mutual arrangement the Trust keeps back a portion of the wages of these men, and ultimately transfers these deferred payments to shares. That seems to me to be a common-sense system. I must apologize for keeping the Senate so long, but I have only one or two more points left. To whatever extent honorable senators may think that the New Zealand Act has been a success, they must agree that it has increased the price of commodities. That brings us back to the economic principle of the wages fund. If wages go up as the result of an award, the prices of goods are increased, and the cost of almost every article in New Zealand has been increased from 30 to 40 per cent. Considering that everything in the way of food and clothing and firing has increased in price, although the working men get more wages, I do not suppose that they have benefited to the extent of one-half or two-thirds of the amount they receive. The increase in their earnings is counterbalanced by an increase in prices. For instance, the price of coal increased, and what did Mr. Seddon do? He said, “We will start a Government coal mine.” He started1 one simply because the price of coal went up as a result of the increase in wages. The flour mill owners agreed to put up the price of flour, and Mr. Seddon threatened that he would start a Government flour mill. Whether he is going to do it or not I do not know. But that is the way the Arbitration Act is working. It is impossible to get away from economic laws and conditions. I shall have something to say with’ regard to the preference provision, when we get into Committee. I believe that the Bill is bound to pass, but whether it becomes law or not depends on my honorable friends opposite. I understand that they intend to propose drastic alterations, especially in regard to the preference provision. I presume that if they do so the Bill will be dropped ; at least, I hope that it will be. I should like to see certain alterations made in it, and I have already foreshadowed two or three.- Another would be to avoid the mistakes which have been made in past industrial legislation, as disclosed in the judgment of Mr. Justice Hood, in the case of the owners of the manure factories in Victoria. We have no business to throw an Act before the Courts, and to say to the Judges, “ You are to carry on the industrial life of this country as well as you can.” I should like to see alterations in the Bill, so as to insure that the owner of a business shall, at any rate, be able to get a living interest, to encourage him to continue his industry, and to enable him to provide employment for working men whereby they many live.
– It is not my intention to delay the Senate by debating this measure from the stand-point of principle. The subject .has been elaborated elsewhere, and I think that most honorable senators have considered the subject sufficiently to have made up their minds to vote either for or against the measure. As far as I am concerned, the principle of arbitration is so thoroughly established on the statute-books of Australia that
I have no doubt whatever as to its being a right one. We have gone past the stage of questioning the principle. Voluntary arbitration has been mentioned. It has been tried. Even under this Bill there is nothing to prevent parties having a dispute settled by voluntary arbitration, if they agree to take that course. But the principle of voluntary arbitration without compulsory arbitration at the back of it, has been a gigantic failure. That has been proved in the case of the Gippsland miners. The miners offered to submit to voluntary arbitration before they threw down their tools, and time and again during that lengthy strike, which extended to about eighteen months, the men offered to have the dispute settled by conciliation. But every offer which they made was rejected by the employers. I can speak from experience of the effects of voluntary arbitration in the Newcastle coal trade. There the colliery proprietors entered into an agreement with the Miners’ Union that any dispute should be submitted to a Board of Conciliation ; and the President of that Board for a very considerable time was the present Mir. Justice Barton. I think that while this system of voluntary arbitration was in operation in Newcastle, there were thirteen awards given, and all except one was in favour of the employers. Only one award was given in favour of the miners, and, strange to say, the employers of labour refused to abide by the decision. The whole plan fell to pieces, because there was no force of law behind the awards, and the experience has been practically the same everywhere. I support compulsory arbitration, not, perhaps,because it is an ideal system of settling industrial disputes, but because my experience leads me to the belief that it is much less expensive, and easier than the old strike method. I shall quote a few figures concerning the Newcastle coal trade in the years from 1892 to 1895, during which time I was a working miner in the district, and knew exactly what took place. Honorable senators will bear in mind that that was after the maritime strike, . at a time when one would think the men who had just fought a great industrial battle would be anxious to avoid strikes. But during those years the Newcastle miners spent annually something like £10,000 on strikes ; and on this point I wrote to Mr. Curley, the secretary of the Miners’ Union, who is well known in Labour ranks in New South Wales as an ex-M.L.A., and a man who stands high in the public opinion of all sections of the community in the Newcastle district. Knowing what it had cost to settle disturbances, which will arise whether we like it or not, I was anxious tq ascertain what had been spent by the miners in a similar direction since the advent of compulsory arbitration in New South Wales ; and I was informed by Mr. Curley that from 1902 up to date, the money so expended amounted to only a few hundred pounds. We must not forget that this does not take into account the cost to the district as a whole; and we know that shopkeepers and business people generally suffer in common with the miners and mineowners at the time of an industrial dispute. Looking at the matter, even from that narrow stand-point, it is shown that compulsory arbitration is the cheapest means of settling disputes, and we have every right to say that the system has proved an unqualified success. Senator Dobson referred to the “ classes “ in the community ; and was asked by way of interjection to what class he belonged. He did not deign to reply, but evidently the honorable and learned senator belongs to some class, and he certainly has no doubt as to what should be the duty of that class as against the workers. I have here a quotation from a speech delivered by him at Caulfield, and reported in .the Melbourne Age, of the 19th August. Senator Dobson said -
A fight between class and class was coming, and it would be suicidal folly if organization was not pushed on. It would be necessary at election time to combine with the Employers’ Federation and the Reform League in the selection of candidates. It was going to be all classes against the Labour Party.
That is the gentleman who poses as a Christian Socialist, and who has just delivered such a nice quiet sermon to us about profit sharing, and all that sort of thing. He has shown us how we should work hand in hand with .the employer, and has uttered many similar beautiful sentiments. But when he gets an opportunity to lecture those well-groomed dames’ he is in the habit of meeting at the National Political League meetings, he forgets all the fine sentiments he expresses here, and tells them they must organize as a class, and that all classes must be opposed to the Labour Party. Whether the honorable and learned senator speaks in one way here, and in another way elsewhere, I shall leave him to explain.
– The honorable and learned’ senator gets a very warm reception sometimes at those meetings.
– At all events, the honorable and learned senator has received’ the greatest courtesy from the Trades Hall people. Nothwithstanding all the strong things he has said in opposition to labour men, he cannot allege that they have not treated* him in the most kindly manner. Senator Dobson referred to the Broken Hill miners, and made the statement that the majority of them were not unionists. As soon as Senator Dobson made that statement this afternoon, I telegraphed to Mr. Wise, the secretary of the Miners’ Union at Broken Hill, and I am pleased to say that I have received the following reply : -
Majority miners here union. Majority labourers non-unionist, who only receive seven-and-six per day.
We know very well that the majority of surface labourers must be a very much smaller number than the majority of those working underground ; and the statement of the secretary of the union should not require any argument to support it, seeing that the principle of preference to unionists is in operation at Broken Hill. That fact, in itself, is sufficient to swell the ranks of any union, because men know that only by being a unionist can they get preference. Senator Dobson apparently does not take sufficient care before he quotes figures.
– I accepted Senator Pearce’s suggestion. What I read was that out of the 6,000 men - not miners only, but all the men - only about 2,500 were in the unions. I accepted Senator Pearce’s figures at once; but we are both right.
– I am glad that Senator Dobson has accepted Senator Pearce’s statement. The honorable and learned senator also desired to know something about the’ common rule. He ought to know, however, that in any case of the kind to which he referred it would be impossible to work the common rule in the manner he described. For instance, he spoke of one rich mine and one poor mine - a good mine such as those we have at Broken Hill or Kalgoorlie, and a poor mine with a low-grade ore, or no ore at all. The honorable and learned senator said that we should not expect the miner working in the poor mine to receive the same wage as the miner working in a rich mine. If the honorable and learned senator, in his profitsharing scheme, would propose that the working miner should get his share of the wealth of mines like the Great Boulder, there might be something in his argument. But there are honorable senators who are mine-owners, amongst them Senator Gould, who is understood to be a prominent shareholder of the rich Great Cobar mine; and I am afraid that Senator Dobson would have some difficulty in persuading Senator Gould to agree to a scheme of profitsharing. But so far as common-rule wages are concerned, we cannot, so long as the, present system prevails, permit a miner working in a poor mine to accept less wages than are paid to a miner working in a rich mine, always supposing equally good work is done.
– Then that principle alone will bring trouble and want of employment !
– The principle is in operation in Western Australia. That State is divided into industrial districts, and there are not two in which the wages are alike. The wages vary according to clrcumstances - the cost of living, and so forth.
– That is what I want.
– The common rule does not operate throughout Western Australia, and it would be folly to expect it to operate throughout the whole of Australia. .
– The honorable senator is now talking sense.
– It would be nonsense to expect the miner of Ballarat or Bendigo to receive the same wages as are paid to the miner at Kalgoorlie, the conditions of living in the two places being so entirely different.
– The honorable senator insists that a rich mine and a poor mine side by side should pay the same wages ?
– That conclusion cannot be escaped under the present system.
– There we differ.
– In Western Australia the wages in one district are all the same, and there has been no outcry against the system. We know that the rich mines of Western Australia are at present paying in dividends over ,£2,000,000 per annum, and that is sufficient proof that the common rule has worked satisfactorily.
– Senator Smith says that on the average the Western Australian mines are paying only 3 or 4 per cent, in dividends.
- Senator Smith is altogether wrong in his statement. As a matter of fact, the late State Treasurer, Mr. Gardiner, says that all the mines in Western Australia’ are paying 6 per cent, on the nominal capital. Senator Smith, when he says that the dividends are 3 per cent, on the real capital, says what is far from being the true state of affairs, and I am satisfied that when he examines the position he will be only too glad to admit his error. I should like to say a few words in regard to the argument that trade unions and labour legislation are driving capital away from Australia. If there was anything in that argument we should see some of the effects in our industrial life at the present time. But, instead of observing any evil effects in that direction, we have every reason to know that Australia is one of the richest, if not the richest country in the world. I believe that Australia to-day is absolutely in every sense of the word the richest country on earth. That opinion is borne out by the figures given by Mr. Coghlan in his latest work, in which he shows that in every great industry in Australia there has been such expansion as to place this country, so far as prosperity is concerned, at the head of the nations of the world.
– That, will be glad news to a lot of people just now.
– And I think I can prove from the figures to which I have referred that the news is true. I shall take the whole of my figures from Mr. Coghlan’s latest work, of which I believe every honorable senator has a copy, and I shall confine myself to the period during which the Labour Party has been in existence. We are led to believe from time to time that labour legislation is causing a great deal of depression in Australia.
– So it is.
– If Senator Walker will only have patience, I think I shall be able to persuade him that he is entirely wrong.
– The honorable senator cannot prove that.
– It will be borne in mind that the Labour Party, so far as political life is concerned, came into existence some time after the maritime strike. I shall take the census year of 1891 as compared with the latest year referred to by Mr. Coghlan, 1902, and it will be seen that the increase in every great industry of Australia is such as to” absolutely contradict Senator Walker’s statement.
– Does the honorable senator say that the prosperity is due to the advent of the Labour Party ?
– I shall quote those figures in order to disprove the common assertion made by. the Goulds and the Dobsons that the policy of the Labour Party is driving capital away, and thereby causing depression. I am dealing with the commerce of Australasia, including New Zealand, as well as the States of the Commonwealth, and I find that during the period to which I have referred, commerce has increased from £144,766,285 in 1891 to £163,442,664 in 1902. That must be regarded as a very satisfactory increase, indeed.
– Is it a satisfactory increase ?
– I think it is. At all events, Coghlan states that it represents the highest rate per head of population of any country in the world, with the exception of Belgium.
– The figures are not worth the paper on which they are written.
– Has the increase been satisfactory in New Zealand?
– I think it has, and it is evident that this legislation has not had the effect in New Zealand which honorable senators opposite have contended that it has.
– The increase might have been much greater, but for it.
– I take the figures for :he same period, 1891 to 1902, with respect to agriculture. I find that the increase in the area under cultivation has been from 6,720,000 acres in 1891, to 10,070,000 acres in 1902, or an increase of 50 per cent. This is the sort of ruination that labour legislation is bringing upon the industries of Australia ! Let me now take the figures for the shipping industry. It is an industry which is subject to industrial upheavals and strikes’, and if evil is to follow the legislation advocated by the Labour Party, we might expect some evidence of it from the figures for the shipping industry. On the contrary, we find that in the period I have mentioned, the Inter-State branch of that industry has increased by 57 per cent. I should like Senator Walker to pay some attention to these figures.
– Let the honorable senator look at the banking returns, and see how they compare with those of ten years ago.
– We cannot forget one circumstance in connexion with the banking returns. We know that during the period to which I am referring, the privately conducted banks of Australia went “ bung,” and very nearly dragged the prosperity of Australia into the gutter with then:. They would have done so, if the Governments of the various States had not come to the rescue. That is the state of things to which the banking experts and authorities, with whom Senator Walker has had something to do, very nearly brought us.
– Nonsense; it was the politicians who nearly dragged the banks into the gutter.
– The politicians had to stand behind the banks in order to save them.
– We have been told that there was no Labour Party in those days
– That is so. According to honorable senators opposite there was no Labour Party in existence in those days to do what Senator Dobson has suggested. I have said that Inter-State shipping for the period I have mentioned shows an increase of 57 per cent., but oversea shipping during the same period increased by 73 per cent.
– Is that owing to the Labour Party ?
– I think sO. Surely I have as good a right to claim that an increase of prosperity has been due to the) legislation advocated by the Labour Party as honorable senators opposite have to claim that a decrease in the prosperity of any industry has been due to the action of the members of that party. What I am showing is that the legislation which has been advocated by the Labour Party has not driven capital out of the country, and has not had a bad effect upon the industrial prosperity of Australia. On the contrary, in every branch of industry, there has been an increase, which is almost startling.
– Oh, no.
– I am aware that I am trespassing to some extent upon Senator Pulsford’s preserves, in quoting these figures, but I hope the honorable senator will not be jealous.
– I dispute nearly all the figures which the honorable senator has quoted.
– When I have made use of these figures, I am prepared to hand them over to Senator Pulsford, and I challenge the honorable senator to prove that any of them are wrong. I am not, as a statistician, a rival of Senator Pulsford, or of Mr. Coghlan, but these are not doctored figures, and I am’ prepared to stand by them.
– I believe the honorable senator has quoted the figures correctly, but I do not think he understands the bearing of them.
– I am aware that Senator Pulsford is a political economist, and that some time or another he may hope to compete on “fundamentals” with Senator Dobson. I hold that an increase of 73 per cent, in oversea shipping, and of 50 per cent, in Inter-State shipping is an evidence of satisfactory progress, so far as the shipping industry is concerned.
– The figures are loaded up by duplications.
– I suppose that the same argument might be brought against the figures quoted for any other country in the world. I am giving the figures as they are given by Mr. Coghlan. I propose now to give the figures with respect to the manufacturing industries. We might reasonably assume that compulsory arbitration, Factories Acts, wages boards, and the abolition of sweating conditions would affect these industries. If this kind of legislation is to be attended by evil effects we might expect to notice them in the manufacturing industries. I quote the figures for Australasia, and honorable senators will recollect that we have had factories legislation and wages boards in Victoria, and compulsory arbitration in Western Australia and in New Zealand for many years, yet we find that the number of hands engaged in manufacturing industries in Australia was 158,780 in 1891, whilst in 1902 the number had increased to 248,735, or an increase of 56 per cent. There is the “blue ruin” that we are bringing upon the manufacturing industries of Australia.
– Does the honorable senator know what Dr. Clarke said?
– Why does not Senator Dobson ask me what Gladstone said in 1885? If we look at the increase in the various States we shall find that in
Victoria there was an increase of 34 per cent, in the number of hands engaged in the manufacturing industry. This is the state in which we have been told .that factories legislation and wages boards have driven trades into insolvency. The figures do not bear out that statement. In New Zealand the increase in the number of hands engaged in manufacturing industries during th-j period I have mentioned has been from 2S;633. in 1891, to 48,718, in i9°2> or as increase of 51 per cent. These are figures which should carry some weight, because they are taken from an impartial authority. Mr. Coghlan does not compile these figures to suit the Labour Party, or to enable the de Largies and men of that type to make out a good case for this kind of legislation. He is a reliable statistician, and his figures are to be depended on as being as reliable as any statistician can make them. I propose now to deal with the production of minerals. We have had all sorts of wild assertions made in this connexion. We have been told that gold mining is so unprofitable that all the gold which has been won would not meet the wages paid in getting it. I want proof of these statements, and when we examine them these wild assertions vanish into thin air, because they are not borne out by the figures. If we take first the production of minerals of all kinds in Australasia, we find that their value in 1891 was £13,888,000, and in 1.902 £24,953,718, or an increase of 78 per cent.
– Does the honorable senator think this is relevant?
– I thought that Senator Dobson would not like it.
– I have a contradiction of it here.
- Senator Dobson having spoken, will not be able to reply, but Senator Pulsford, who is the statistician of the Senate, has not yet spoken, and I have given him a challenge which I hope he will take up. In gold productions for the period mentioned, the increase has been from £6,280,382, in 1891, to £16,763,434, in 1902, or an increase of 119 per cent. Some remarks have been made by Senator Gray with respect to the condition of mining in New South Wales, which is chiefly confined to coal mining, Newcastle being the largest coal producer in the southern hemisphere. In coal production, the increase for the period I have referred to has been even more marvellous than that shown by other industries. The output in 1891 was 1,342,055 tons, and in 1902 it had increased to 3,404,214 tons, or an increase of 153 per cent. Senator Dobson has asked us how we can expect to compete in this industry with a country like Japan ; but in spite of his statements we have the fact recorded that the coal mines of Australia have increased their production by 153 per cent., as compared with the output in 189J.
– Though the Japanese miners are working for gd. per day.
– Coal mining was never so bad as it is at the present time.
– I believe that it is bad, but that is, to a great extent, due to the suicidal competition of the coal mine-owners of Newcastle amongst themselves. Because the miners will not be parties to that insane competition and allow their wages to be run down to a starvation rate, Senator Dobson has nothing but harsh terms to apply to them. I hold that the Newcastle Miners’ Union has been the best friend the coal mine-owners could have, because it has, in many instances, prevented the insane competition which would have left no profit for mine-owners, miners, or anybody else. The competition to which I refer has, time and again, brought all business in Newcastle to the verge of insolvency. I know what it was, because I was driven out of Newcastle through being unable to get a living, there, on account of the competition pf the mine-owners amongst themselves. The primary industries of Australia, I find, are the greatest in the world.
– Then there is no Conciliation and Arbitration Bill for them.
– For coal mining, gold mining, and shearing, there is. Per head of the population the primary industries produce £21 12s. 9d in Australia, -/C16 5s. 6d. in Canada, £14 14s. 5d. in the United States, £11 11s. 6d. in France, and £7 18s. 6d. in the United Kingdom. I have quoted figures which practically cover the whole gamut of industry in Australia, and I think I have shown that we have advanced in every branch of industry. There is a lesson to be taken from these figures, and I hope that it will be taken to heart by Senator Dobson, who indulges in “ fundamentals.” There are two important facts to be observed. One fact is that the wealth of Australia is increasing much more quickly than its population. If there were anything in Senator Dobson’s theory of a wage fund, the wages of the working population would have gone up very considerably, because- we are producing much more wealth to-day than, we did before. But wages have not increased during the period I am reviewing. According to Coghlan’s work, we find that from the year 1892 wages fell right up to the year 1896.
– That was owing to the frightful depression after the boom.
– To the banks.
– It was due to a great extent, as Coghlan says, to the banks. Perhaps Senator Walker will be able to furnish an explanation on this point. I believe that the rotten system under which privately-owned banks were conducted caused the depression in those years. Coghlan says that the wages in 1902 had not got quite back to the rates at which they stood in 1891.
– That was in the height of the boom.
– So that, as the years roll on, the workers are getting a smaller and smaller quota of this wealth which they are producing in greater and greater quantity every year. Except in those trades which are subject to the operation of wages boards and compulsory arbitration, the workers are getting less for their work than they did eleven years ago. The lesson to be learned from these facts is that we require a better method of wealth distribution, and that the fairest, cheapest, and justest distributor of wealth is compulsory arbitration. Tor that reason, if for no other, there ought to be no doubt as to the treatment of this Bill. I am afraid that there are some honorable senators who will try to mould it in such a form that it will not apply, and that the workers, instead of getting a fairer share of the wealth which their labour produces, will continue to get the miserable starvation rates which prevailed in some places during the period under review. If the Bill is to secure no better state of affairs than has prevailed, if it be passed in such a form that it will not apply, or that the unions will not register under its provisions, then all our work will have been in vain. But do not let honorable senators think that if they prevent the Bill from being passed in a satisfactory form at this stage, they will’ have done with the subject. The workers of Australia have had a long struggle for emancipation and better conditions, and it is not going to finish if they are beaten on this occasion. So Senator Dobson and honorable senators of his type may make up their minds that if the Bill be thrown into the waste-paper basket on this occasion, it will come up again, and in a form which, perhaps, will be less satisfactory to them. Nearly every, speaker on the other side has referred to the action of the Labour Party as tending towards driving capital out of the country. By the figures I have quoted I have shown that that is not the case. If we were to be scared by that cry, which is an empty one, we should never be able to pass any legislation’ of use to the country. Were the pioneers of this kind of legislation scared by this cry at a time when perhaps there was more justification for being scared than at present? Since John Ballance introduced this kind of legislation in New Zealand it has been in operation for a considerable period, and we are, therefore, able to judge of its effects. What do we find there? We find a very satisfactory state of affairs indeed. John Ballance had to meet this very cry. L-11891, when he introduced his Land Bill, he was told by the opponents of land reform that it would drive the landlords out of the country, and that the capitalist would fly. But John Ballance was a man with a master mind, determined to make the way very much easier for those who followed in his tracks. Without his statesmanship and backbone there would have been no Seddon or Reeves or McKenzie. His was the courage which initiated this kind of legislation, and he had the determination and pluck to stand up against all kinds of opposition. How did he meet the cry that it would drive capital out of the country? When introducing his Land Bill he said -
I care little for the mere capitalist. I care not if dozens of large land-owners leave the country. For the prosperity of the Colony does not depend upon this class. It depends upon ourselves, not upon any such fictitious things as whether large capitalists remain in, or leave the Colony. They are merely accidents of the situation. They are often but excrescences which afflict our industries.
He did not care about the capitalist flying from the country ; he was not to be bluffed by that cry.
– I suppose he did not mind if the capitalist went, so long as the capital remained.
– John Ballance knew too well that the capitalist could not lake away the land or the labour, and that so long as they had land and labour in the country they could do very well without the big parasitical capitalist. I am glad that his forecast has been realized. The statesmanship which he displayed ought to gain the admiration of any one who is prepared to recognise that by a bold stroke he saved the country at a time when it was in a bad “position. We know too well the depression which had prevailed for years previously. A timid man would have been likely to halt and consider his position rather’ than proceed with very drastic legislation. But John Ballance knew what was good for the country, and his work has borne good fruit, since New Zealand is one of the happiest and most prosperous places on the inhabited globe. Senator Dobson, and his friends who think with him about capital flying from the country, do not really grasp what capital is. They have failed to understand the “ fundamentals “ on which they lecture, when they tell the good dames of the damage which the wicked Labour Party will do if their principles be enacted. What is capital? So far as my reading has enabled me to understand the question, I hold that capital is simply that part of wealth which is used in the production of more wealth. That being so, it will be seen that it is not, as Senator Dobson apparently thinks it is, a matter of mere hard cash. In Australia we have not very much hard cash. We have lots of wealth. We have, very nearly as much wealth in Australia as all the hard cash in the world. In gold and notes we have a trifle over £30,000,000, while the wealth is something over £900,000,000. If hard cash were the only capital we had to make use of there would be very little indeed to share amongst the population, and very little to work on.
– The wage fund would be small.
– It would be a very small one. Time and again I have tried by interjection to elicit from Senator Dobson what his favorite wage fund is, but I have not yet received any enlightenment. Is it a certain amount of hard cash?
– No, it is never a certain amount. It is a most uncertain amount.
– As a matter of fact, the wage fund is just that amount of wealth which labour can produce. The more we allow labour to produce the more will the wage fund amount to. What are wages, according to that great political economist Adam Smith? Wages are the produce of labour. These are his actual words -
The produce of labour constitutes the natural recompense or wages of labour.
He refers, not to a portion, but to the produce of labour. At the commencement of his chapter on wages he lays down that fundamental truth. That- being so, this theory of a wage fund, which is so often referred to by Senator Dobson, should, I think, on examination by him, be left alone, because it is one of those exploded fallacies which will not bear out his contention that there is only a certain amount for wages, and that it is of no use to try by arbitration or other means to raise wages above a certain point. My reply is, that the productivity of labour is so great that we can scarcely imagine the extent of the wage fund. Because the wage fund after all is merely that amount of wealth which labour can produce, and not a certain or restricted amount. Let us consider what one of the best writers on political economy says, and I take it that it is the duty of a politician to know something about that subject. Just as a doctor should know something about the science of medicine and a lawyer something about the science of law, so it is the duty of a legislator to know something of political economy. Henry George’s Progress and Poverty is one of the best known works of political economy, and he shows that the wage fund theory is baseless. Henry George demonstrates that before a labourer” receives his share of the so-called wage fund, he has to create the wealth by working.
– When I plant a garden I have to wait eight years before I get any profit from my fruit trees.
– I admit that there are many cases where the returns from the investment come very slowly. But there are other instances in which the profits are “derived within a very short time after the work is done.
– That does not apply all round.
– We have to take an average. One workman may be more efficient than another, and consequently may produce more rapidly, but the work produced by the slow workman realizes no more in the market than does that of the more efficient workman. One man may be able to make two pairs of boots per day, whilst another mav make only one pair, but in the market the one pair of boots will produce only the same amount as the pair made by the man who can produce two pairs per day.
– If the honorable senator believes in Henry George’s teachings, he should be a free-trader.
– I differ from Henry George in regard to fiscalism. While I am prepared to follow Henry George where I think he is right, I am equally prepared to follow Senator Dobson when he is right. In consequence of the power of labour to produce so much, the total wage fund is so great that there is no necessity for any workman to labour for starvation wages. There is abundant reason for our insisting that labour shall get its fair share from the products of industry. In order that labour may get its fair share, we are supporting legislation of this character, which will tend to bring about a fairer diffusion of the profits from industry. Senator Dobson should give up his wage fund theory, because, as far as I have been able to understand, and as far as the political economists whom I have read show, it is a fallacy. John. Stuart Mill believed in the wage fund theory at a certain period of his life, tout in later years he saw the fallacy of it, and gave it up.
– Surely the honorable senator understands the wage fund I was speaking of. I spoke of the wealth which labour and capital combined produce, and out of which everything has- to be paid.
– If the honorable and learned senator will only follow out the “ fundamentals ‘ ‘ of his theory he will find that his wage fund is merely a precious piece of nonsense, which will not’ stand examination. Where does wealth come from? I hold, with the best political economists, that wealth can only be produced toy labour - labour applied to the land. The land is the basis of all production. But wealth cannot be produced from the land without the assistance, of labour.
– Labour must live while the product is being produced. Who is to provide for the living of the labourer?
– It is provided by the produce of past labour.
– Begin at the beginning.
– If we go back to the time when the savage man had to gather berries, I dare say we shall arrive at the conclusion that he was then able to live without utilizing the results of past labour ; but even then some labour was applied to the fruits of the earth before they could be consumed as food ; the berries had to be gathered.
– Take an undeveloped mine; how is the labourer who is without any capital to live until he develops it?
– I admit that there is some difficulty. I will tell the honorable .and learned senator what happened in my own case. When I arrived in Australia about seventeen years ago I landed in the State of Queensland. There was no Labour Party in power then to drive capital out of the country ; but’ for a considerable time I could find no employment. Eventually I found a man who came from the part of Scotland where I was brought up, and he told me that he had a coal mine, but that he had not enough money to develop it. He said he was quite satisfied that there was coal in the mine, and that if he could get the labour to assist him to put it om the market, he would be. able to make money. Some twenty or thirty of us agreed to go to work practically on, the prospect of money being made out of the venture. I dare say that Senator Drake knows the part of the country to which I refer. It is the Ebwy Vale Mine, near Dinmore. We worked for about two months before we got any coal. I can assure honorable senators that there was no “ ca” canny “ amongst us. We were all pretty hard up, and we had to hustle to get the coal. In three months we were able to put coal on the market, and to enjoy some of the results of our labour.
– How did the honorable senator live in the meantime?
– We had to live on trust.
– Then some one else lent the money
– I think I shall be able to show that the capital which we consumed in the meantime was the product of the labour of other people.
– But not of the honorable senator’s own labour.
– I can assure the Attorney-General that I produced wealth before I came to Australia. Let us follow out this matter a little further. We are aware that the capital which is imported into Australia is usually raised in the London money market. If an Australian State wants a loan, it raises it in London.
But the money is not made in London. The capital which is the result of labour is not produced in London. But there are certain capitalists in Great Britain who are able to lend large sums of money for investment. I do not know whether it is fair to mention, as old neighbours of mine, men like the -Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Rosebery, and the Marquis of Linlithgow, the first Governor-General of Australia, but those gentleman have great estates within a few miles of where I was reared. They have very large rent rolls. They arc rich landlords. They derive their wealth from royalties from mines, as well as from rents from farms. Suppose that each of these rich landlords has a rent roll of £50,000 per annum, and suppose that they have a lot of money awaiting investment ; because even the most extravagant man can hardly spend so large an income. A capitalist of* that description is able to invest £10,000 in a fund for supporting men in Australia who are developing a mine, constructing a land grant railway in Tasmania, ‘or engaging in any other enterprise that is likely to prove successful. Suppose a railway is estimated to cost £1,000,000, and that there are ten rich landowners - like the Duke of Hamilton, the Marquis of Linlithgow, the Earl of Rosebery, and the Rothschilds, who are relatives of Lord Rosebery - who are prepared to invest ,£10,000 a year each in the enterprise. That makes £100,000 a year for investment in an enterprise which will keep the workmen until the concern commences to return interest on the money invested. Where does all that money come from? Is it created in. Hamilton Palace, ot Dalmeny Castle, or Hopetoun House? Nothing of the kind. The men who make that money are the farmers and the miners who pay rents and royalties to the big land-owners. It is in that way that the capital is provided from which the workman lives until his work commences to be remunerative. In other words, one set of labourers in one part of the world find the wealth for another set of labourers in another part of the world if the labour of the latter is not likely to be productive within a reasonable time. Wealth is produced by labour, and there is no other source from which it can be produced. If honorable senators reason it out they will find that labour alone produces all wealth. For that reason I say that labour should be respected to a greater extent than has been the case in the past. Senator Dobson this afternoon condemned the idea of fixing rates of wages for labourers. But I should have thought that the last opponent of the idea of fixing wages ought to be a lawyer ; because I find that in this State wages are fixed .for lawyers by Act of Parliament. I suppose that the same is the case in Tasmania. I find, for instance, from the Victorian Act that the wage fixed for issuing a writ of summons for the commencement of any action is, as a minimum, 12s. The highest rate is 18s.
– Is that for a better class of men ?
– I do not know, but I think it depends on the strength of the client’s pocket. For the indorsement of claims, the maximum and the minimum scale are alike, 5 s. ; for a concurrent writ or summons the fee is 6s. 8d. on the lower scale, and 10s. on the higher ; for a renewal of summons the fee is 10s. on the lower scale, and 15s. on the higher scale; and for a writ of mandamus the fee is 14s. on the lower scale, and £1 is. on the higher scale, and if the document extends to more than four folios there is another rate. Right throughout there is pay ment provided for every possible kind of service a lawyer can perform.
– That is piece-work, and not wages.
– Surely the Bill before us does not exclude, payment for . work by the piece. The Newcastle miner will not work under any other system.
– They are very sensible men.
– The employers have from time to time endeavoured to enforce day wages ; and that fact is a contradiction of the statement of Senator Dobson, in regard to the Broken Hall miners. I cannot speak with any degree of certainty of the state of affairs which obtained at Broken Hill, when the men were, it is said, producing .much less ore on day wages than when paid by the piece. Senator Dobson gave very little detail, but I guarantee, as one who has. been a miner for thirty years, that the conditions were altogether different. Any one familiar with the subject, knows that a miner wall be able to produce more ore one week than another, simply because the conditions alter so. quickly. The scale of payment I have read is fixed by Act of Parliament, and if’ it is right to thus settle lawyers’ fees, what is sauce for a goose, ought to be sauce for a gander. Lawyers do not permit any competition ; they look on a man who accepts lower fees as one disgraced in the ranks. In short, such a man is regarded as a “ black leg,” and I cannot blame those who so regard him, because any one who enters into unfair competition and “cuts” below reasonable prices, deserves nothing but contempt.
– Lawyers are quite with the honorable senator in that argument.
– Then, I hope we shall have the assistance of the legal gentlemen in this Chamber to frame a measure on the same lines as those observedin similar legislation in the States. I shall then be satisfied that we shall have a satisfactory measure from which the workers of Australia will gain some benefit. Similar legislation in other places has had no prejudicial effect on prosperity ; and as industries have advanced under compulsoryarbitration in the States, I predict that with our workers employed for twelve months in the year, the wealth of the community will be vastly increased. If we desire to see greater production of wealth,we should do all we can to prevent stoppage of work by strikes and locks-out. I appeal to honorable members to make this measure one worthy of the country. We have long passed the experimental stage in this legislation, and if we wish to have prosperity, let us produce a measure which will apply compulsory arbitration to all and sundry.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales).We all join with Senator de Largie in the hope that this Bill, if carried, will bring prosperity and happiness to the Commonwealth. But this measure has developed more importance than some of us imagined it possessed when it was first introduced ; and as practical men, we must have regard to the results of similar legislation in other States. The remarks of Senator McGregor give to the Bill a character which adds to its great significance to the community. That honorable senator openly and frankly placed his views as to the scope of this Bill before the Senate, and showed that, in his opinion, it did not bear the interpretation placed upon it by Senator Symon and others who followed him. According to the latter, the Bill will be applicable to only two or three of the largest unions already in existence, and so far as can be foreseen, it will affect only such organizations as those of the seamen and shearers.
It was also stated by Senator McGregor that, if preference to unionists is not provided for, the largest of the unions will not register under the Bill. All this gives the Bill an absolutely new aspect. The honorable senator stated that, if practicable, all the trade unions of the States will federate, and he thus placed the measure on an entirely new plane. The wider view brings all the details of the States industries, which are now dealt with by the States Arbitration Courts before the Federal Court ; and Senator McGregor shows the position in the following words, quoted from his speech, as reported from Hansard at page 5833 : -
Honorable senators ought to open their eyes to these facts, and discover what they mean. I am giving those who are opposed to arbitration and conciliation an insight into the real position that will exist, and that ought to exist. No association will be registered under this Bill as merely representing the workers in a small corner of Australia. That would be of no use, because they would never be able to come before the Court. I have shown what will happen, and how, ultimately, the industrial affairs of Australia will come under the charge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
The honorable senator then went on to mention in detail particular trade unions which would federate in order to come under this Bill. What does that mean? Senator McGregor’s words bear two interpretations. First, he says that the Bill is intended to prevent strikes, and secondly, and almost equally, it is for the purpose of organizing unions. We cannot but realize, in the face of those words, that behind there is the initiation of a crusade, not to organize unions, but to bring into play all the forces of the unionists and the non-unionists, with a view to realizing the system of Collectiv-. ism now advocated by Tom Mann.
– That is what Senator Dobson advocates.
– Senator Dobson does not advocate anything of the kind, and I think Senator McGregor is aware of that fact. Senator McGregor is very prone to criticise his opponents in an unfair spirit. The honorable senator has been to Newcastle, and there, in addressing the coalminers, spoke of “ such men as Mr. Gray and such men as Mr. Pulsford,” sneering at the idea of our having anything to do with the eight-hours movement. Senator McGregor’ “plays to the gallery,” gets a nice little laugh, and then thinks what a fine fellow he is. I venture to say that I have done more for the eight-hours movement than twenty Senator McGregors. The firm I have the honour to represent was the first to initiate that movement, and they did so without pressure from anybody. I have advocated an eight-hours day for years ; and yet the honorable senator dares to go before a Newcastle audience and make these sneering allusions to myself and others, as not doing anything for the Labour Party.’
– The honorable senator will do anything but vote for the Labour Party.
– I have never done what Senator McGregor has done - played to the gallery in order to traduce an opponent. I wish to be fair to the honorable senator, and I admit that he was perfectly frank in putting before the Senate his views on this Bill.
– I did not hesitate to say what I thought.
– I do not think the honorable senator did. I do not think that what he said at Newcastle was said illnaturedly, but it was calculated to create a false impression in the minds of thousands of men, and on that account I have a perfect right to justify my position as regards the eight hours’ movement. I wish ,to lay before the Senate what the result of these Arbitration Acts has been so far. I take New South Wales first, because I know most about the operation of the measure in that State. I admit that in its application to the workers it has in many instances done a great amount of good. There is no doubt that by the inclusion of many of the shop employes, and others, it has been the means of raising wages, and giving employes a happier outlook for the future. It may have done good in other ways,- but he would be a blind man indeed who did not recognise that it has also done an infinite amount of harm. I venture to say that it has created a want of confidence in manufacturers. Senator McGregor sneers before he knows to what I am going to refer. It has created distrust and want of confidence amongst employers and manufacturers from which the State is suffering deeply at the present time. I can give an illustration by which I may be able to kill two birds with the one stone, because it will tell against one of the pet schemes of honorable senators opposite, as well as against the Arbitration Act. Some time ago the New South Wales Government started a State clothing factory, and the second balance-sheet of that factory was issued only a fortnight ago. It shows a considerable loss for the year’s working. The manager of the factory, I am sure, is friendly towards unionists, and yet he states that the increased cost of carrying on the factory has been largely due to the operation of the New South Wales Arbitration Act. He estimates that the increase in cost of management, due to the operation of the Act, amounts to 25 per cent. The statement appeared to me to be almost incredible, and I still think that the effect of the Arbitration Act must have been overstated. This has been the result in the case of a State clothing factory, managed on lines of Collectivism, and it will take a very clever honorable senator on . the other side to explain it. The real difficulty raised by the operation of the Act in New South Wales has been that manufacturers and business firms are unable to discount the future. Every honorable senator who knows anything of business is aware that large manufacturing concerns must, in carrying on their business, have regard to the prices of labour and materials to be bought, and they must discount the future in making their contracts, and buying abroad the materials they require .to use.
– And this legislation gives stability of prices.
– I quite grant that stability of prices is unquestionably an important feature in the conduct of all business. I take the instance of Mort’s Dock, which has suffered to nearly the same extent as the State clothing factory. If any honorable senator will interview Mr. Franki, the manager of Mort’s Dock, he will find that there has been a decrease of more than 25 per cent, in the work done by that firm during the last two years, and the manager will attribute that decrease in a wry great measure to the operation of the New South Wales Arbitration Act.
– Where is the work done?
– The fact is that the large shipping firms now do every bit of work that they can possibly get done in the shipping ports at home.
– The honorable senator might tell us what department of work carried on by Mort’s Dock has been affected by any decision of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales.
– Every department. I should like the honorable senator to tell me one department that has not been affected in that way.
– The boilermakers have not been affected by it yet.
– Does the honorable senator think that because the Boilermakers’ Union has not yet secured a decision by the Arbitration Court the work of boilermakers is not affected by the operation of the Act ? The operation of the Act has its effect throughout the ramifications of the whole of the business of the State.
– There have been no decisions given by the Court which affect the employes of Mort’s Dock.
– I have said that the operation of the Act has produced a want of confidence in manufacturing firms, because they are unable to discount the future, and I can give some figures which will perhaps open the eyes of honorable senators opposite.
– Let the honorable senator finish with Mort’s Dock first.
– The number of factories has increased, and also the number of hands employed since the passing of the Arbitration Act.
– I can tell the honorable senator that three years ago Mort’s Dock were employing 1,800 hands, and to-day they are not employing 600 hands.
– Is that due to arbitration ?
– I am not saying that it is, but I say that in a great measure it is due to the operation of the Arbitration Act. The Clyde Iron Works were some time ago employing 1,200 hands ; they are now employing less than 300 hands. I could give half-a.-dozen such examples.
– Let the honorable senator give the total number of hands engaged in the whole Commonwealth.
– Senator Pulsford deals with the finances, and I shall leave him to deal with the figures as to the number u£ hands employed in our industries also. Senator de. Largie, ‘perhaps, does not realize what we in New South Wales realize, and that is that for thirty years trade was never so depressed as it is at the present time in that State. Any man who has any knowledge of business in New South Wales will confirm that statement.
– Thev never had such a drought in New South Wales as that through which they recently passed.
– And when the drought was on our honorable friends opposite said there was no drought, and that they would not assist us.
– When did they say that ?
– Sir William Lyne said it.
– Sir William Lyne is not a member of the Labour Party.
– Last year we had a good season, and we might look for some indications of increased prosperity, but there are no such indications.
– Not so soon after a seven years’ drought.
– I am in a position now to read for honorable senators a paragraph showing the effect of the Act in the case of Mort’s Dock. The paragraph is as follows: -
Mr. James Peter Franki, of Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company, said, “ It takes us all our time to keep our business going in marine work in any reasonable way, and that is leaving us fast ; and the only reason we can assign is that the Arbitration Court has given the men such an air of independence that at the least thing you do which does not meet their views they are up in arms at once. It is only an indication of what will be in the future, as I do not think we are out of our labour troubles; because so long as the Arbitration Court continues to give the awards which they have been doing of late in favour of the men it is all the worse for the chances of any capitalists embarking in any enterprise. I am perfectly sure that the present Arbitration Act, as being administered now, is very injurious indeed to capital being employed in any new industry or developing those here.”
There is no man in Sydney who has had a larger experience of business conditions in that city than has Mr. Franki. He is most highly respected by unionists and by every business’ man (who has the pleasure of knowing him, and I am sure that he would rather understate than overstate the evil of which he complains.
– Would the honorable senator mind quoting what is said by Mr. Beale, the President of the Chamber of Manufactures ? His statements prove the opposite.
– I know Mr. Beale personally. Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that he contends that the condition of business in New South Wales is different to what I have described?
– Mr. Beale will tell the honorable senator that the number of factories, and the number of hands employed in them, has been increased in New South Wales during the last few years. The honorable senator is trying to prove that the reverse has been the case.
– I say absolutely that so far from there being an increase there has been a decrease in the number of hands engaged in manufacturing industries. Mr. Beale has made his statement on the authority of Mr. B. R. Wise. I do not wish to be too severe on that gentleman, but I would say that his statements have not very much value in New South Wales when.it is known that he has a political object in view in making them.
– The honorable senator says that, because Mr. B. R. Wise is in favour of compulsory arbitration.
– I do not believe that he favours anything. I quote the following with reference to the object of the Act, from official documents of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, and they can be verified, if necessary, by any honorable senator present : -
It is safe to assume that they were to prevent strikes and lock-outs, not to create them, and also to bring about a generally better feeling between employer and employe. The best answer to these queries can be found by an examination into the history of the industrial life of this State, and also of the proceedings of the Court, and its records since 1901, when the Act name into existence. The Court, to administer the Act, .began to sit in May, 1902, since when it has, with short intervals, continuously silt hearing .disputes in the various trades, and yet the business has become so congested that some of the cases at present listed cannot be reached before 1906. In support of this suggestion, it may be mentioned that the list issued on the 1st October, 1903, showed fortysix cases which were then down for hearing. A year has now elapsed, and the list just issued, on the 1st October, 1904, shows no less than thirtythree of those cases still before the Court, and not reached. Allowing for other cases, such as breaches. of the awards, &c, which have of course been heard, it shows that out of the forty-six listed on the 1st October, 1903, only thirteen have either been settled by award of the Court or outside since then. Naturally, pending the decision of these cases, the very greatest uncertainty must prevail in all the trades concerned.
– Who makes these statements ?
– These are facts which may be found in the official records of the Arbitration Court. Any honorable senator on application can obtain the information by return of post.
– Why does the honorable senator object to say who makes these statements ?
– Why should I state the name?
– Are they made by the Judge ?
– Ought it’ not to be sufficient for me to state the facts without giving the name?
– What is the value of the statements if there is nobody responsible for them?
– Does the honorable senator say that no value is to be attached to the records of the Arbitration Court? I am .responsible for the accuracy of these statements, and if the honorable senator can prove that one of them is not correct he has the right to brand me as one who has brought forward evidence which I could not sustain.
– I did not know that the honorable senator was reading his speech, and that is why I made that interjection.
– I do not know that it is necessary for a member of- the Senate to state where or how he gets his evidence. If a correspondent gives me certain evidence which I think bears on the question under discussion I do not think that I ought, without his permission, to mention his name. I take the responsibility of making these statements. It would be setting a very bad precedent if an honorable senator who has obtained information privately from a friend about a particular case, and is assured that it is taken officially from the records of the Arbitration Court, were compelled to mention the name, or the evidence would not be considered worthy of credit.
– Does the honorable senator say that these statements are taken’ from the records of the Arbitration Court?
– I did not intend to read the comments, but I reached them before I got to the figures. The comments are only a repetition of what I have said, and I think every honorable senator will, agree with what I read - that the fact that these cases have been so long in the Court is not only causing uneasiness to the men, but is equally as injurious to the employer. What I contend is that the Court is causing, by its congested business, an enormous amount of injury to the trading community of New South Wales, and a certain amount of injustice to the men if their application be just. The effect of this legislation must be deplored by every honorable senator who has the welfare of the people at heart.
– Let the honorable senator ask leave to continue his speech tomorrow.
– May I ask permission, sir, to continue my speech to-morrow ?
– We have no standing order to that effect. On one occasion it has been done, but that was oh a Friday afternoon, when every honorable senator desired to get away. I do not know whether the Senate would desire me to lay down such a rule.
– I am prepared to go on.
– Let the honorable senator go on until half-past ten.
– But he has been travelling all night in the train.
– I think, sir, that the feeling of the Senate is that leave should be given to Senator Gray.
– I shall put the question. But honorable senators will understand that .if Senator Gray be allowed leave to continue his speech to-morrow, it will be taken as a precedent, and that in future any honorable senator may ask at any time for leave to continue his speech.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I had intimated a desire that we should continue the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill until half -past 10 o’clock, but honorable senators heard what the President said, and it was in view of the fact that Senator Gray had been travelling all last night that this concession was asked for and granted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 October 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041026_senate_2_22/>.