2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice -
– My attention has not been directed to the report of the very interesting gathering to whichmy honorable friend refers, and I do not know that I can answer for any kind of consolation that they or anybody else can take to themselves on any matter of public interest. As regards the. second part of the question, the proceeding or notproceeding with the Bill, as I intimated some time ago, depends upon the time at our disposal, and not upon any influence exercised either on one side or on the other. As I intimated before, and as I think the Minister of Trade and Customs informed a deputation the other day, it will not be possible in the time at our disposal to deal with the measure.
SenatorTURLEY.- I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, if he has obtained the information which he promised to give me to-day in connexion with the duty on China oil ?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following paper : -
Copy of letter from the Premier of Queensland to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, dated 18th October, 1904, on the. Queensland Sugar Bounty, and enclosing copy of memorandum by Dr. W. Maxwell on the question.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– I shall be glad if my honorable friend will postpone the question until this day week. If he will allow me, I should like to make a suggestion in regard to the second part of the question. It might be more convenient, and, perhaps, more in accordance with parliamentary usage, if he were to move for the information in the form of a return.
– I have to inform the Senate that His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Harry Rawson, intends to pay a visit to the Chamber this afternoon, and that, by its leave, I intend to accord him the courtesy of a seat upon the floor.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 4th November, vide page 6563) :
Clause 40. -
And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
Upon which Senator McGregor had moved by way of amendment -
That the words- “ And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given,” be left out.
– This amendment involves the question of whether the Court should be trusted to grant preference, and on what terms it should be granted. We may assume that it will only come to a decision on the evidence tendered. The Court will consist of a Judge of the High Court only; it will not include a representative of the employers or a representative of the employes when the question of preference will be decided. Therefore it may be assumed that the decision will be arrived at purely from a judicial stand-point. If the employers can bring forward such evidence as will warrant the Judge in not extending preference, or in placing certain limits on the preference to be given, he will take that course. If, on the other hand, the employes can make out a case for unrestricted preference, the Judge will be guided by the evidence. But the qualification which was inserted in the Bill in another place binds the Judge. No matter what justification can be brought forward for preference, in every case the Judge will be bound to take evidence on the point as to whether this application is approved by a majority of those affected by the award, who have interests in common with the applicants. He will,- of course, consider the claim on the basis of justice. But there will be a strict injunction laid upon him oy the Parliament that he must be influenced, not by any theory or surmise, but by facts and figures, that the applicants represent a majority. In discussing the second reading of the Bill I attempted to show how impracticable this provision is. If the Committee propose to lay down any impossible conditions it would be more honest on their part to strike out the provision for preference. It will be impossible for any honor- able senator to show that it would be practicable in any big industry, such as the shearing industry, to prove that the applicants represent a majority of those who would be affected by the award. This term drags in hundreds of persons who may not follow the avocation continuously, but who, at some time during the year, may be affected by the award. The union could not comply with that condition, and therefore it would be impossible for preference to be given under .any circumstances. What does the term “preference” stand for? It is a misnomer. It is really protection to unionists. If honorable senators are in favour of arbitration, and recognise that unions are necessary in order to put the provisions of this measure into force, they should give such protection to unionists as would prevent them from being victimized and their unions from being broken up. I have no doubt that this power will be used by the Court with a wise discretion. In New South Wales the Arbitration Court consists of a Judge of the Supreme Court, an employer, and an employ^. Although this power exists in that State without any qualification, yet it has led to no general outcry. Of course, there have been isolated com plaints, but there has been no public outcry. When I was at Broken Hill recently I was informed by union officials, townsmen, storekeepers, publicans, and others that the provision has worked no hardship to anybody, but has been used’ by the officials of the union with discretion. It must be remembered that if a union endeavoured to make use of an award in a tyrannical way it would be fashioning a weapon which would lead to its undoing. It would bring about such a revulsion of feeling against preference that an amending Bill would be brought, in to prohibit preference. If there is one place in New South Wales where the unions are in a strong position, it is Broken Hill. They have a greater public influence there than in any other part of that State. Although an unrestricted award of preference has been given by the Court, still no nonunionist has complained. No townsman has complained of any hardship. No mine manager - and I spoke to practically all of them - has said that it is a harsh provision, or has interfered detrimentally with the management of the mines. In view of the experience of New South Wales and New Zealand, and in view of the fact that the Court will not include an employer or employ^, what need is there for this qualification, which practically nullifies the provision for preference? I would appeal to the Committee that, having rejected the amendment of Senator Macfarlane to strike out preference, in order to be consistent, they should now make the preference effective. For these reasons, I trust that the amendment will be carried, and that we shall have in the measure a provision which will enable the Judge, whenever he thinks fit, to grant protection to unionists.
– - Before debating the question of substance, I wish, sir, to direct your attention to the amendment, with a view of having a ruling as to whether it can be put, and also with a view of suggesting what seems to rae to be a better method. The amendment is to strike out the words’ -
And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given.
The Committee decided that question when it rejected the amendment of Senator Macfarlane to strike out paragraph b, which, omitting the phraseology, says that “the Court may direct preference.” We are now asked to vote on precisely the same question, in substance.
– Sometimes a principle is tested by the striking out of one word.
– Where that is done the word must be in conformity with the purpose which the Committee has in view, or else it must be a word which is altogether immaterial and without any significance. Standing Order 126 says -
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
The question on which we are now asked to vote is identical not only in terms, but also in substance with the question which was debated nearly all Friday, at the instance of Senator Macfarlane.
– What Ave have determined is that preference may be given.
– In paragraph b the words “ and provided “ do not appear.
– In one paragraph we say that preference may be directed, and in the next paragraph we say -
And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given.
– “ Unless “-
– We are not dealing with the “ unless.”
– Is it the same in substance ?
– The question which the Committee will determine under this amendment is absolutely identical with the question which has already been determined.
– The question that will be determined here will be that of a majority being required.
– The question that will be determined is whether preference shall or shall not be directed to be given. There was no division upon Senator Macfarlane’s amendment, but had a division been called for, those who are in favour of preference would have voted against it. Others may have voted against the amendment who were in favour of preference with restrictions and qualifications. That is my position. I object to unrestricted’ preference. If the issue had gone to a division, I, as being in favour of preference in a restricted form, would have voted against it. But some may have voted for preference with the idea not of accepting the restriction as framed in the Bill, but of making some modification which would render it in some way more acceptable. By moving the elimination of the words “ And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given,” Senator McGregor causes the greatest confusion. How are those who are in favour of preference with a modification to express their views?
– They will vote to retain the words.
– But the extraordinary position is that they will be giving a vote opposed to the vote which they would have given upon. Senator Macfarlane’s amendment. We ought to have an amendment which will not embarrass any honorable senator. That would be secured by taking an inoffensive word. Senator McGregor could, if he liked, move to strike out the words “ And provided further.” I desire no misapprehension as to my own attitude. I am in favour of preference with a restriction. But if those who agree with me vote for retaining the words proposed to be struck out, the records of the Senate, will not show our attitude. Let amendments be moved upon the paragraph in such a way that when subsequently the paragraph is put, as amended or otherwise, we can vote on the question whether it shall be retained or not. That seems to be the better way, because it will prevent injustice being done to any one.
– I have no objection to adopt any method that will meet the wishes of the Committee, as long as the course pursued has the same effect as the amendment which I have already moved. But there is not a single honorable senator who does not thoroughly understand what is meant by my amendment. In the first place. I would point out that Senator Findiey had an amendment to move on this proviso, but in deference to the wishes of an honorable senator opposite, he withdrew his amendment temporarily. It has always been an understanding that when an honorable senator withdraws an amendment to enable other amendments to be moved, he should have a subsequent opportunity to move his amendment. If my amendment included the whole proviso, and it was negatived, Senator Findley would be debarred from moving his amendment.
– That would not be fair to him.
– It certainly would not be fair. My amendment is both in accordance with the practice of the Committee and with our StandingOrders. Every honorable senator is aware that this proviso is a qualification of the part of the clause to which we have agreed. I cannot see how it can be argued that the amendment is out of order. Suppose that the word “ and” had been embodied in a previous paragraph, and that an honorable senator had proposed to strike it out, the amendment being negatived. If the word “ and “ also appeared in the latter portion of the clause, would the Attorney-General argue that it would be out of order to move to strike it out, because the same word had not been struck out in a preceding paragraph? If the Committee agree to strike out all the words down to the word “given,” it will be understood that it is an intimation that honorable senators are prepared to strike out the remainder of the words of the proviso. There is really no point in what has been brought forward by the Attorney-General.
– The standing orders bearing upon the question which has been raised are Nos. 195 and 253. Standing order 195 states-
No new clause or amendment shall be at any time proposed which is substantially the same as one already negatived by the Committee, or which is inconsistent with one that has been already agreed to by the Committee, unless a recommittal of the Bill shall have intervened.
Standing order 253 says -
A motion contradictory of a previous decision of the Committee shall not be entertained in the same Committee.
Paragraph b, which was agreed to by the Committee last week, directs that preference shall be given, other things being equal. That seems to me to be the principle of the clause. A number of provisos follow. The amendment upon which this point has been raised by the AttorneyGeneral deals with a proviso. There might be fifty provisos to a clause. There might be a proviso to the effect that preference should only be given to employes who were at least twenty-one years of age. Any proviso that was struck out would not be in conflict with the principle which the Committee have agreed to, by adopting paragraph b. As regards the other argument of the Attorney-General, that if we strike out these words, we shall give a vote in contradiction of the terms of paragraph b, I draw attention to the fact that it is a very common practice in Committee to proceed in this way. It is followed every day. The practice of moving to strike out certain words, although those words have been used in a previous part of the clause, is not uncommon, and that procedure is adopted in order that no injustice shall be done to any honorable senator who may wish to move another amendment provided the words proposed to be left out are not left out. Therefore, I must rule that the amendment is in order.
– I think we shall all be glad to have the specific ruling of the Chairman, because it will very largely remove any possible confusion which might exist in the minds of honorable senators. The substantive portion of the clause would certainly, on the face of it, seem to be again brought into question by this amendment, although that is not the intention. Honorable senators will realize that in dealing with the amendment we are in the same position as though the whole paragraph were before us. It will be understood that those who vote with Senator McGregor vote for striking out the whole of this paragraph, whilst those who vote for the retention of the words are not stating that there shall be no preference, but are voting for the retention of the entire paragraph, which is a qualification engrafted on the preference given in the earlier portion of the clause. That being the case, we can deal with the question from the point of view of whether this amendment ought to be agreed to or not. I dealt fully with this portion of the Bill in addressing myself to the second reading. But my; honorable friend, Senator Pearce, has found it necessary to gild the pill - using an expression which he applied to a quotation of mine, from a speech by Mr. Wise - by objecting to the word preference, and substituting the word “ protection,” to which not so much exception is likely to be taken.
– I think it is a better term.
– It is an exceedingly adroit way of dealing with the situation. But his use of the word “ protection “ is, from my point of view, a confession that “ preference “ is not a desirable word to use, and that sustains me in the view I take in inquiring - Where is the need for what is called protection? How is unionism and how are unionists hurt by these restrictions. In what way is protection necessary? My honorable friend goes on. to say that if we retain this qualification - which is simply laying down the rule which has been, not merely adopted by every Arbitration Court that has dealt with the subject, but which has been propounded by those who have been most active in legislation of this kind, like Mr. Wise - it will be calculated to nullify the preference, and to make it ineffective. Surely my honorable friend cannot say that, when the principle embodied in this paragraph, and in conformity with which preference is given, without doing injustice or injury, has been formulated, adopted, and carried into effect whenever the question has arisen in New Zealand or Australia ? How can it be said that the principle of consulting the majority, and of conceding preference only when it has been established that a majority affected are in favour of it, nullifies the preference and renders this provision, ineffective? Precisely the same argument cuts the ground from under the amendment proposed by my honorable friend opposite. The argument could not have been put more forcibly than it was by Senator Playford the other day, when he said that we should “ leave it to the Court.” If we do that the Court will act upon the principle embodied in this paragraph.
– Then why bind the Court in this rigid way ?
– I shall come to the binding presently. I am dealing with Senator Playford’s argument that we should leave it entirely to the Court, and I say that if we do we all know that such Courts have acted on’ the principle that, we are endeavouring to embody in this paragraph. The matter is not one of substance, because if, as my honorable friend says, the Court will act upon that principle, his argument falls to the ground, and if the Court does act upon that principle, it is right that it should be embodied in the Bill, so that everybody should know it. As to the suggestion of Senator Pearce about this being a protection, let us consider for a minute what protection is sought, and where is the opening for any suggestion that rights are assailed, or anything of that kind. Employers and employes have a dispute. They come to the Court. There is no strike and no lock-out. The essence of the Bill is that the employer’s business goes on, and the employment continues without interruption. There is. no break, no dismissal, and re-engagement of men, or anything of the kind. Peaceful arbitration is the object of the Bill, and presumably the parties, continuing their work with- the greatest harmony, come to the Court, and an award is made. Things go on just as they did before. If the award is in favour of the employer, things go on uninterruptedly, as they do if the award is in favour of the employes. There may be unionists and non-unionists employed by the same employer, and they will continue to work uninterruptedly in the same workshop.
– The employer will deal with those who ‘have been prominent in the dispute.
– I am coming to that. We may talk as we please in the most pleasant language about the object and purposes of the Bill, but if it is not intended to produce the state of things I have described it is not worth the paper on which it is written. The whole object of the measure is that all work shall go on smoothly and uninterruptedly while the adjustment of a more or less friendly dispute is proceeding - that there shall be no cessation of employment on one side or the other.
– The difficulty is as to what happens afterwards.
– The award is made, unionists and non-unionists are employed together, and what can happen - that the employer may dismiss a workman, and a workman may dismiss himself ? That is provided for, so far as the workman is concerned, by clause 9.
– No, it is not.
– Clause 9 provides -
No employer shall dismiss any employee from his employment by reason merely of the fact that the employee is an officer or a member of an organization, or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.
– There are many ways of killing a dog besides choking him with butter.
– My honorable friends must see that even if we strike this provision out, preference is to be given, “ all other things being equal.” Wecannot stop all the avenues that may arise. What my honorable friends are afraid of is that an employer will discharge a workman who, in the words of clause 9, which has been very carefully framed, is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement, or an award.
– No; that when a workman comes for employment he will be refused it, not that he will be dismissed when in employment.
– And that he will be dismissed when in employment, also.
– Let us take one step at a time. We are dealing with the situation as it exists. We are dealing with the men who are in employment, and the men amongst whom a dispute arises.
– The men in employment are not affected by this.
– Yes, they are.
– If Senator Pearce agrees with me that the men in employment are not affected, then there is nothing which they need to be protected against.
– Both those employed, and those seeking employment require protection.
– If it is the dismissal of men in employment that my honorable friends opposite are afraid of, I think they must agree that that is prevented by the provisions of clause 9 and other clauses in the Bill.
– Clause 9 will not be effective.
– The whole object of clause 9 is to prevent an employer visiting the consequences of an award adverse to himself vindictively upon one of his workmen. It must not be forgotten that the employer is to have preference too, though how that is to be carried out, I really do not know. I suppose that a union workman is tobe at liberty to say that he will not work for a non-union employer, but I do not know how the provision is to be worked in that respect. I am more concerned with the position that is likely to arise, as suggested by Senator Pearce. I am concerned with the effect upon the workmen. I am prepared to let the employers take whatever risk or benefit they can get from the provision for preference, which, in my opinion, will not be found to be quite as workable as many people imagine. But the protection, so far as regards those in employment, is adequately given by clause 9. Then I come to the next point Senator Pearce has mentioned. The employer requires more men, and what is it that the honorable senator proposes that we shalldo? We are to compel him, when he requires additional men, to accept unionists instead of non-unionists.
– Not unless the Court gives the award of preference.
– My honorable friends opposite desire that it should be unrestricted - of course the Court must give the award - and is not that preference? It is not protection. There is no protection wanted for a man who has not been in employment, and who cannot, therefore, be visited with pains and penalties for anything he may have done.
– He requires protection against the refusal of employment because he is a unionist.
– Is the other man to be refused because he is a nonunionist ?
– Certainly not.
– Then I say we do not require this provision at all.
– It will give the employer liberty.
– I wish to give the employer liberty.
– This provision will do it.
– I am afraid that I must differ from my honorable friend, though I do so with the greatest reluctance. For instance, two men come to an employer for employment. Both’ are equally competent. They are not men who have been in the service of the employer, and if they were they could not be interfered with, because their rights are protected most carefully by other provisions of the Bill ; but they are men who come to seek employment - it may be months after the award of preference has been given. I say that in such a case the employer’s hands are tied, and he must take the man who has the brand of the unionist, and reject the man who is a non-unionist.
– Unless the nonunionist is the better workman.
– As I am stating the case I am presuming that the men are of equal competence. I ask my” honorable friends whether that is not tying the hands of the employer, and in a very gross way ?
– Then we should strike out every provision for preference of any kind.
– I am agreeable, unless it is restricted as in the Bill. If this qualification is not put in, allowing a general rule only when the majority of those affected by it are prepared to approve of preference, I say that we should have no preference.
– Is not that an argument against the whole principle of preference?
– Not at all. I point out to Senator Playford how it will work. We have two men equal in competence coming to an employer for employment, one a unionist and the other a non-unionist. Suppose that the nonunionist is a man with a large family, and the unionist is a bachelor?
– Suppose the conditions are reversed! ?
– I am putting it both ways. I say let the employer have liberty. I do not depreciate the importance of unionism one atom in saying this. If the unmarried man is a unionist, and the non-unionist is a man who is starving, with a large family, under trie proposal of my honorable friends opposite the employer is to have no option, he must take the unmarried man and let the other man go on with his starvation. I ask my honorable friends whether that is not unjust.
– That is the provision in the honorable and learned senator’s Bill.
– That is not this Bill.
– The honorable and learned senator is claiming that the majority should rule.
– Yes, the majority affected by the award, and composed of unionists and non-unionists. If the non-asociated workmen affected by an award choose to say, “ We are perfectly willing to submit to this,” why should we prevent them?
– How can they speak if they are disunited?
– Then what does the honorable senator think of Senator Findley’s amendment? The fact is that my honorable friends opposite do not know their own minds. They got Senator Findley to propose a qualification which they have dropped like a hot potato, because they find that Senator Playford cannot support them in it.
– Who says that we got Senator Findley to do it?
– Can we not read the signs of the times?
– I understand that it was a prior amendment that Senator Findley proposed.
– I think that Senator Findley’s amendment was a most ingenious contrivance. Do my honorable friend’s opposite wish for unrestricted preference? Do they desire that any single man in this country, a Judge, or -whom you please, shall have the power to say, “ This person shall have work, and the other shall starve,” not because of competence, or incompetence, but simply because the one has the mark of unionism on his jacket, and the other has not?
– We are prepared to trust the Court.
– My honorable friends were not prepared to trust the Court when in summing up shortly on the second reading I asked them whether they were prepared to accept Senator Playford’s view. Not one of them said a word in affirmation of that. Then Senator ‘ Findley came along with his amendment, and I think I am therefore entitled to say in perfect good humour that my honorable friends do not know their own mind.
– Our silence gave consent.
– Did it? My honorable friends laughed consumedly at the idea of siding with Senator Playford at that time.
– Why this special pleading for Senator Playford?
– Because I understand that it is Senator Playford’s view that is now being adopted by my honorable friends, opposite “ leave it to the Court.” Is Senator Playford prepared to leave it to the Court, without the consent of the non-associated workmen, to say that one man shall have work and that another who requires, it more shall have none?
– The consent of nonassociated workmen is not asked for in the Bill.
– All that I can say is that that would be absolutelyunjust. What it means is that the nonassociated workmen are to be content with the crumbs of work that fall from the rich tables of the unionists.
– Is not the Bill based upon organization?
– Why could not non-unionists organize for the purposes of this Bill?
– Hear, hear.
– They would not be unionists in the sense in which my honorable friends opposite use the term. Why should we compel any man to beg a brother of the earth to give him leave to toil.
– What about lawyers?
– Why should the honorable and learned senator do it in this Bill?
– We do not do it in the Bill. We say that the Court may direct that preference shall be given, but only if the majority of those affected, whether unionists or non-unionists, approve of such preference.
– Does not the honorable senator think that that would upset the whole thing?
– I do not. I say that it is neither gust nor right to deprive a non-unionist of his daily bread.
– Has one the right to do so if he has a majority behind him?
– I am saying now exactly what Mr. Watson said elsewhere. If the workmen are all in the union, the question does not arise. If the great majority of those affected by an award of preference wish it, then I say to that extent I am willing to go with hon orable senators opposite, because that majority will include non-associated as well as associated workmen. That surely is giving them a certain amount of liberty ? But if we strike this qualification out altogether, and leave the provision unrestricted, we shall put it into the power’ of the Court to make an award irrespective of the desires of non-unionists.
– The honorable senator has said that no harm has been done in the past.
– My honorable friend is going adrift from the question. I say that if the provision is unrestricted, we shall put it in the power of the Court to say that non-unionists, who may form the great majority of the persons affected, shall be deprived of work in order that unionists may have it. I ask my honorable friends opposite whether thev consider that is fair?
– We do not allow nonunionists to start anything under this Bill ; they must be members of an organization before they can- move in the matter.
– If we pass this legislation - and I think it is right that we should - why should honorable senators desire the opportunity to use it as an instrument to coerce people to join unions ? This Bill is not intended to be an instrument of coercion.
– Nor will it have that effect.
– Surely it is not intended that it should be an instrument to compel men to enter unions under peril of starvation ? What we desire is only a fair adjustment of difficulties. Senator Playford has said that no harm has been done in the past, but I repeat that preference has been awarded upon the principle which we are seeking to embody in this Bill - the principle of giving preference to the majority - -of permitting the majority to rule. It would not be treating honorable senators with that courtesy with which I wish to treat them to go over what I said in my second-reading speech, when I quoted from Mr. Watson and others that -
The practice in nearly every case in all the Arbitration Courts is to grant preference only, when a majority reasonably ascertained are in favour of such preference.
I need not quote other passages, but Judge Backhouse, in his very admirable report, said -
Safeguarded in these ways, the granting of preference, it may be said, can only be objected 10 x to, as one of the Judges put it to me, on sentimental grounds.
I wish to put that safeguard in the Bill. We have dealt with the preference question. The whole issue is on what basis it shall be granted, and according to what principles shall the Court act? My honorable friend has said that he prefers to use the word “ protection.” I think I have shown that the euphemism is not applicable to the conditions which we expect to arise under the Bill, namely, the continuance in employment of the men between whom and their employer the dispute arises. The whole principle of the Bill is that everything shall go on undisturbed, and therefore no difficulty can arise on that head, because protection is amply given by clause 9, under which any employer who seeks to vindictively visit on the head of his employe the consequences of an award which he may think adverse to him, are /guarded against, and the employer is liable to punishment. The only case to which it can apply, therefore, is the case of persons who seek work subsequently to the giving of an award. Between the two men it is a pure question of one being preferred above the other. The competence being equal, the employer can take into consideration any other matters which may affect his determination. His hands and his judgment are alike tied. He will be obliged to refuse employment to the non-associated workmen, and give it to the unionist. If that state of things is to be carried into effect, it’ will produce a degree of injustice which I think we shall all regret. If. on the other hand, the non-associated workmen, as well as the associated workmen, choose by a majority to declare that they approve of a preference, even of that character, being given; if the nonassociated workmen say that they are willing to waive their right as regards employment, then no one can say that they are not entitled to take that course. That is all this paragraph does, and it rests on the principle which has been followed by arbitration tribunals elsewhere, and which has been propounded as the right principle to follow by those who have taken the greatest interest in framing legislation of this character. A further reason which I offer to my honorable friends is that Mr. Watson, in dealing with this matter on other occasions, has given his adhesion to the principle adopted by the Courts of only granting preference by an award at the instance of a majority of those affected. He used the expression “ reasonably ascertained.”. We may differ when we come to consider the remainder of this paragraph. I do not say that its language in. that respect is not open to criticism.
– In another place the Government said they would not give way.
– I am not going to give way on it. I am not going to say that it is not open to criticism, but my honorable friends opposite thought that they might formulate something which would more successfully carry out exactly the same idea. There was no test elsewhere on. the essence of the question - whether preference should be granted or not. The question was as to the conditions, and when the fatal controversy took place elsewhere, the question was whether the form of words adopted by Mr. Watson would better give effect to the same idea than the form of words which are adopted in this paragraph. I do not like the words which he employed, one of them being “ substantially.” I prefer the form of words in the paragraph.
– When a man is on the edge of a precipice he will often compromise.
– I do not think that Mr. Watson thought that he was on the edge of a precipice; it is my honorable friends opposite who are on the edge of a precipice. I do appeal to them to pause before they entirely strike out this paragraph, and to rather proceed with the method to which I understood they have committed themselves - of seeking to amend the phraseology so as to make it from their .point of view more workable than it seems to them to be as it stands. I hope, therefore, that we shall not make an amendment which is to have the effect of striking out the paragraph, but that we shall apply ourselves to the consideration of whatever suggestions are made from either side to get rid of difficulties, if there are any. I think that the paragraph will work excellently as it is. If there are any difficulties, let us consider what is proposed. But let us, at the same time, stop short of a drastic amendment which it may be impossible for my honorable friends afterwards to moderate or to mitigate in amy way.
– I have listened to the Attorney-General a great many times, both in South Aus- tralia, and in the Senate, but I have never listened to a more inconsequential statement of a case from him than that’ he has just delivered.
– That is because my .honorable friend does not agree with it.
– There is no doubt that his mind runs against all preference, and, therefore, he is not in favour of the Bill.
– I am in favour of the Bill, but I am not in favour of preference.
– In his inmost soul the honorable and learned senator abhors preference. He drew a most harrowing picture of two men applying to an employer for work after a preference had been given ,to unionists. One man is a nonunionist with a wife and many children, possibly starving, while the other is a unionist and a bachelor. The honorable and learned senator asked, “ Would you prevent the employer from giving work to the man with the large family, and compel him to engage the unionist?” Does he not in all his arguments show plainly that he does not believe in preference? In the legislation of New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia the determination of this question is always left to the Judge. The Attorney-General has shown unmistakably that in all cases the Judge has used his common sense, and that preference has been granted to unionists on reasonable grounds, with which nonunionists have found no fault. Where is the necessity of binding the Judge, so that he could not give preference until it was proved to him that a majority of the persons engaged in a trade were in favour of that course being taken ? I can imagine a case in which a Judge might say, even if there was a majority, that he would not grant preference, and I can also imagine a case in which the majority could not be ascertained with mathematical precision, and in which the Judge would say, “ In the circumstances of this case I will grant preference.”
– The Bill allows him to do that.
– No, there must be a majority.
– No, “ in his opinion.”
– The opinion of the Judge would be based upon certain evidence. I. can’ imagine a case . in which 10x2 in his opinion there was not quite a majority, and yet he might be quite willing to grant preference. I do not think it is wise to unnecessarily tie the hands of the Judge in a matter of this sort.
– Look at clause 25, which provides that the Court - may inform its mind on any matter in such manner as it thinks fit.
– That does not necessarily imply that the Judge has to infrom his mind “ in such manner as he thinks fit” as to the existence of a majority. By this provision we are preventing him from doing what he might think would be best in the best’ interests of all concerned, because he could not give preference unless in his opinion a majority of those engaged in the trade were willing that it should be given.
– That is the principle now.
– That is what the Judges have generally adopted ; but it is not a rigid principle by which they are bound. If the Judges have adopted that principle and acted with such good judgment that there has been no trouble, why should we bind the Court in this instance?
– On another day we might have a Judge who would not agree to that.
– The arguments of the Attorney-General are against preference altogether. The question is whether the Judge should be left to exercise this power without restriction, or whether he should be required to ascertain if an application is supported by an absolute majority. I argued this point very fully in my second-reading speech, and I came to the conclusion without consulting my honorable friends on this side-
– They have consulted the honorable senator since then.
– They asked me whether I would support the amendment of Senator Findley, and I said no. Under the present law, it devolves upon the unionist to prove whether there is a majority in the trade in favour of preference being granted. But that amendment would reverse the position, and devolve that duty upon non-unionists who, of course, could only appear personally before the Court. When I said “no-“ so unmistakably, possibly ray honorable friends thought it would be better to abandon that amendment, and propose that which I had previously suggested, thereby showing a considerable amountof judgment and foresight. It would be a great deal better to allow the Judge to decide this question, and, therefore, I support the amendment.
– I wish to enlighten the Attorney-General in regard to a few facts which he seems to have lost sight of. In his very lengthy and laboured address on this simple proviso, he laid very great stress on the effects of clauses 9 and 10. One clause provides that no employer can discharge an employe simply because he is a unionist, or had anything to do with the bringing about of an award, while the other runs in an opposite direction with respect to the relation between employe and employer. The Attorney-General says that everything is provided for here, that the business will go on, and that “an employer cannot discharge any employe who was an active agent in bringing the matter before the Court. I grant all that. But it has been repeatedly stated here that this measure must apply more particularly to shearers and seamen, Did the Attorney-General, in his laboured discourse, consider the position which those persons occupy ? Shearers and bush-workers work for five or six weeks - in some instances, not so long - for an employer, and do not come into contact with him again for twelve months. If there were no preference to unionists granted in the Bill and the proviso were to remain as it is, what chance would a president or secretary or active agent have to bring before the Court a matter which was distasteful to the employer whom he had worked for, and where would clause 9 or 10 come in? Does it not apply equally to the case of the seamen? They go on a voyage, and are engaged for twelve months or two years. If the vessel is wrecked, and they aresaved, what is their position? Can they obtain their discharge ? These are considerations that the Attornev-General has overlooked. I have not the least doubt that he is very anxious to grant preference if he can find a reasonable way of doing it from his point of view. In these cases it would be a very great hardship to many men if something in the shape of preference were not granted. The best course is to leave the matterto the Court. The Attorney-General says that the party to which I belong has suddenly veered round in the direction of adopting Senator Playford’s suggestion. But we have always been in favour of striking out this proviso.
It was inserted in the Bill in direct opposition to the efforts that we made, and any attempt on our part to qualify the proviso has been governed by our opposition to its insertion. In case of any dispute arising, we wish the Court to take cognizance of every fact connected with it. If the Court sees that either the employer or the employes are likely to be prejudiced: by the position they find themselves in, preference should be granted. More than thirty years ago I was employed under conditions by which preference was granted, although I was not a member of the union concerned with the occupation. I thought it no hardship if times were slack to get employment elsewhere for a day or two when I was not engaged at the calling which I regularly followed. In many cases the rules of the association, that were agreed to by the employers, provided that a non-unionist might be employed if no unionist was present; but as soon as a unionist came along the non-unionist was discharged.
– Why ?
– That was an understanding between the employer and the organization.
– Because the union had the power to do it.
– I belonged to another union, and I felt that there was no hardship in laying down my tools when a member of the union concerned in the work which I was doing temporarily came along. If the matter is left to the Court, the Court will review all the circumstances, and if it comes to the conclusion that preference is necessary it will be granted. In another case the Court may say that under the circumstances some man will be bound to suffer very seriously if preference is granted, and it may be refused. For these reasons those who are supporting the amendment intend to do all they can to strike out the proviso.
– The question before the Committee is probably as intricate and difficult as any we can have to consider in connexion with this Bill. There is a great deal of plausibility in the contention urged for the retention of the clause as it stands - that if it is struck out the effect will be to deprive some persons of an opportunity to earn their living.
– And there is truth in it.
– I shall try to show that there is nothing more than plausibility in it. To start with, the condition of most industries in normal times is that there are about as many men engaged as are required. Whether they are non-unionists Or unionists, the whole of them are generally required for carrying on the industry. Therefore, the granting of preference to unionists would not deprive any one of work. If everything was fair and above-board the absence’ of preference would never deprive any one of work. But experience teaches us ‘that the absence of preference would enable persons who were averse to this measure - persons who had an objection to the powers conferred upon the Court - to visit their dissatisfaction upon the instigators of an action before the Court. Some honorable senators will say that employers are not so vindictive nor so unfair. It is correct to say that the average man is not o vindictive. The average man would be prepared to say, “While I do not approve of this process, still it is law, and it has been resorted1 to; while I do not approve of the decision of the Court, still it binds others as well as myself, and, therefore, I will honorably observe it.” But a very long experience in connexion with labour organizations has proved to me that while that would be the attitude of the average man, the very reverse is the attitude ot a very considerable number of employers. I have known .men to instigate a discussion about conditions of employment! that the employes thought objectionable, and a change in which the employers resisted. Ultimately, those who instigated the inquiry were proved to be right in their contention that there ought to be a change; but the effect was to create in the minds of some employers a determination to victimise those men. I know of many employers who, while agreeing to pay the wages decided upon, or to give ‘the conditions of labour contended for, have said, “ We will not employ any of the men who have agitated, and will not pay the wages that have been decided upon or grant the, conditions contended for to men who are associated with unions. Unions are a nuisance. Unions are continually stirring up strife. The only way in which we can manage our business in our own way is to employ men who are not associated with them.” I can understand persons like my honorable friend Senator Gray and others, who are large employers of labour, holding that it would be a very convenient thing at all times to have absolute control of all the conditions of employment.
– We want to be able to employ the best men we can get.
– I know that the argument that is used is, “. We must be permitted to manage our own business.” To that I answer that it is not their own business. No business in which hundreds of men are engaged can be said to be the “own” business of any particular one of them. It is the business of all of them. And if things are to be equitably managed, all of them must have a reasonable voice in deciding the conditions ‘ under which it is to be carried oh.
– Who provides the employment?
– Most employers cLaim that they are working men. They say, “ We work as hard as the men whom we employ.” The organizer who carries on, a business which engages the energies of 1,000 men earns his living by that process of organization. But is it not equally true that the 999 men who are engaged in the business with him find him in employment ? The only difference is that his employment is very much more remunerative than theirs usually is. The business requires the energies of all the men, and while one possesses organizing talents that the others do not possess, the others possess mechanical skill and muscular development that the organizer has not. Clearly, they are all necessary to the carrying on of the business, and it is not unreasonable to say that all should have some voice in deciding upon the conditions under which the work is carried on.
– They cannot all be captains of industry.
– They cannot all be captains, but if one man, by a single expression of his will, causes 999 men to be idle for a day, or a week, or a month-
– Talk some sense !
– I should like to hear the honorable senator do so, though I have been waiting for a long time in vain. I may not have reached that very great intellectual altitude that distinguishes Senator Fraser, but I am, at any rate, endeavouring to deal with this question logically and reasonably. My honorable friend, Senator Gray, argues that the employer ought to have absolute control over his business. I say that he ought to have control, subject to conditions that are equitable and fair ; and if he may exercise one voice, is it not fair that the 999 men should also speak with one voice, so that the two contracting parties may have equal power? Not preponderating power for the 999 ; I do not ask for that.
– Does the honorable senator say that each of the 999 workmen should have the same power as the employer ?
– No, I say that the men should be able to speak with one voice as to the conditions of employment, just as the organizer of the industry can speak with one voice. That can only be secured’ by their combining and voting together for a common object. If their organization is to have the effect that the employer may say, “ I will no longer employ one of these 999 men, but will employ 999 others, who are not organized,” with a view to revert to the old conditions that were unfair, we should legislate to prevent him from doing so.
– No employer would do such a thing.
– Let me give an instance of which I am an example.
– I am speaking in a broad sense.
– Some years ago I was prominently associated with a labour organization. The organization to which I belonged deputed me and another to go as a deputation to a Minister of the Crown, with a view to secure legislation that we thought would be beneficial to us. Our employer thought this legislation would be prejudicial to him. He said, “ I object to this deputation, and if you go upon it you will have to leave, this factory.” The result was that my co-delegate refused to go on the deputation. He remained in the factory. I said, “ I have been deputed to do a public work, and I intend to do it.” I was dismissed. If it had ended there it would not have been very bad. But at that time practically the whole of the trade was done for -Flinders-lane - for the merchants. In other words, the manufacturers at that time worked not for the retailer, as they do now, but for the wholesale houses, and were under their hands. When I was dismissed, although I had never been a week out of employment in my life before since I ‘was able to work, I could not get a job anywhere for three months. And yet things were busy. The Attorney-General speaks of the possibility of a bachelor who is a unionist getting work, whiist a married man with a large family, who is a nonunionist, is kept out of employment. At that time I had ten children going to school, and had nothing” to maintain them with but the labour df my hands. For thirteen weeks I could not get a job at my trade. Although, a steady, temperate man, I had not been able to save very much, having a large family to maintain, and my resources soon, became exhausted. Therefore I had to look” for work somewhere else. I had to find’ work of some sort somewhere, and, with my muscles soft, through not being accustomed to heavy manual labour, I had to engage myself at lumping on the wharves to get a living, because employers- not one, but a large number of them - had resolved that as I had taken a prominent action in the interests of those with whom I was associated, I ought to be driven out of the trade.
– Now the honorable senator wants ‘to put non-unionists in the same position.
– My honorable friend will see that I do not want to do any such thing. I will show my honorable friend not only that I do not desire it, but that such a result will not accrue. Employers who are angry, who have been beaten in litigation, worsted in a conflict, and are anxious to visit their spite upon some persons, have an inducement to victimize unionist;!, who have contributed to bring about the result they deplore. But no employer can have any motive for victimizing a nonunionist, and non-unionists will, therefore, have exactly the same opportunities for em,ployment that they have always had. The Attorney-General desired to know what reason there is for protection. I do not think the honorable and learned senator could have a more forcible reason than ‘the one I have given him. Although it happens that in the instance to which I have referred, I was .myself the victim, it is only a type of a number of similar instances which have come under my own observation. I know that a great corporation in Melbourne - which I will not mention by name because I do not desire in this discussion to create angry feeling - had a dispute with its employes, and after a very protracted struggle, during which a strike was going on for a part of the time, though the struggle was continued long after the strike was ended, public opinion had such an effect that this corporation very materially improved the conditions of its work people, who numbered several thousands. But it immediately set to work to make it penal in its employment to be connected with associations. It set to work to break up the organization that had been instrumental in bringing public opinion to bear upon . it, and compelling it- to grant conditions to which it objected. These are the reasons for which preference or protection to unionists under certain conditions is sought. A great boast justifiably made in Australia is that we have every reason to trust our Courts. It can fairly be said that the Courts of Justice in Australia, and indeed throughout the British Empire, are beyond reproach, and above suspicion. We are willing in this connexion to trust the Courts of the Commonwealth, or a Court which may be created under this measure, having as its presiding officer some Judge already on the Bench in Australia. The AttorneyGeneral says that there is no need to Strike this provision for a majority out of the clause, because wherever that preference has been given the ascertainment of the fact that there was a majority in favour of it. has been the guiding consideration with the Court in granting preference. If that is not absolutely, I think it is mainly the fact, but. if it be so, and the Court does ascertain that there is a majority of persons interested in favour of preference before giving an award granting preference, where is the necessity to specifically prescribe that there must be a majority before such preference can be given? Where is the necessity, unless, as the AttorneyGeneral seems to imply, the Government, and those who hold with them in insisting upon the retention of this provision are afraid to trust the Court? I hope that that is not their attitude. It would be, I think, a painful and “undesirable declaration that any section in Australia, with our experience of Courts, is unwilling to trust this Court.
– Does the honorable senator wish to create a Court which will compel honest men to starve?
– That is what the honorable senator is doing.
– If Senator Fraser had been applying his great intellect to following the arguments I have submitted
– I have followed them through and through.
– He would have observed that what I am endeavouring to show is that it is necessary that there should be a Court created to prevent persons who have been worsted in a process of law from compelling honest and competent men to starve. I have given myself as an illustra tion, and on the occasion to which I have referred I should have starved if I could have done nothing else but the work of my trade.
– The employers intended that you should starve.
– I would have starved, with my wife and family, if I could have done nothing else but bootmaking, and I should have starved as it was if I had not had a few pounds, which carried me over the months during which I could not get employment at my trade. If I had not been resolute, and had not taken up work to which I had been altogether unaccustomed, but at which it was possible for me to obtain a living, I might have starved. It is to prevent the recurrence of such things under this measure that the amendment is proposed.
– Does not the honorable senator know that he was distinctly disloyal in taking other work?
– I am not sure that I was not disloyal in living at all.
– It requires explanation. The honorable senator had no right to live.
– I desire to discuss the question from the point of view of its practicability and its necessity. The Attorney-General has said that the Bill makes adequate provision for the protection of persons who are in employment. I take the liberty to suggest, from my own experience, that even that statement is not correct. I have known instances where men who took part in bringing about a readjustment in connexion with the conditions of industry, have been compelled to leave - they have not been dismissed, and I ask honorable senators to observe the distinction - by the conditions being made unendurable in the shop in which they were working. In the boot-making industry, with which I was associated, the majority of the work done is piece-work. Men come from their work to the office, and they can be given it at once, and the opportunity of earning their living is thereby facilitated. Or they can be delayed, hindered, and prevented. They may be told, “ Call again, we are not quite ready just now.” They can be given work that is unsuitable, or work to which they are not accustomed.
– How, on earth, can we prevent that by Act of Parliament?
– We do not propose to prevent it, but we do propose to say that, if an employer compels a workman, who has been an active unionist, to leave his employment, by making its conditions unendurable, because thev disagree with his methods, not of working, but of organization, he shall .it least take another man who will do just what the first man did in the matter of organization. That will be some protection to him. Then, again, when the first man leaves his place, we provide that he shall not be prevented from getting work elsewhere, where his services otherwise would be very acceptable. These are the reasons for which we seek, as Senator Pearce has put it, not so much for preference as for protection for unionists. I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not charge employers generally with the sort of action to which I have referred. I think that would be very unfair. I believe that the great bulk of employers desire to deal fairly with the people with whom they are associated in business. I; do not agree with Senator Gray that the employer finds employment. That is an absolutely misleading idea. The employer does not find employment.
– What does the dictionary say ?
– I do not know; I have’ hot consulted it recently. The employer is simply an organizer in arranging for employment that is given by the general community. Senator Gray might have a very large contract to carry out for the construction, say, of- an enormous dock. Does he require the dock? Is it his dock, or is it going to be used by him when it is completed? We know that he is only the organizer in providing a dock for the whole community. It is the community who find employment.
– He finds the capital, I presume?
– No, he does not.
– Who finds it?
– The community. I do not know whether Senator Fraser has ever had a large contract, but if he has he knows that one of the conditions of a contract is that progress payments shall be made, and a contractor can scarcely proceed an inch with his contract before there is a payment.
– What about the deposit ?
– There must be a deposit ; but very often the contractor does not even find that.
– He does, or his credit finds it.
– No, the credit of the whole community. Suppose that my honorable friend. had a contract for building a dock, to cost ^500,000, for the State. ‘ He has not .£500,000, but he can get an advance, because he is known to be reputable and reliable, and because he has behind him this enormous contract, for which the State has to pay him month by month.
– Then the honorable senator contends that capital is not necessary ?
– I do not say that capital is not necessary, but I say that men who have the control of capital from time to time very often attach undue importance to themselves and claim worship and adoration to which they are not entitled. I say that capital is necessary, and our experience teaches us that very few of the captains of industry had much capital to commence with.
– All large contractors are very wealthy.
– I know they are, after they have been large contractors for a time. I think that Senator Fraser has boasted that, he landed here with but a very few shillings. But I do not wish to be drawn away from the argument on the matter before us.
– It is a very useful argument. It is a splendid idea, if we can get on so swimmingly without capital !
– I can remember the time when my honorable friend, Senator Best, had not very much capital, but I hope and believe that the honorable senator has some now. This, however, is apart from the matter Ave are discussing. I think I have shown that the amendment, if adopted, will not lead to non-unionists starving. I think I have shown also that unless some preference or protection is given to unionists, this measure will lead to unionists starving. We have the fact that non-unionists will not be injured by giving to the Court the power to award preference under conditions that commend themselves to it.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that non-unionists
Will not be injured by this provision for preference ?
– I do not believe they will.
– Then why have this clause at all?
– Because if we do not have it, unionists will be injured. The great advantage of this provision for the common rule is that where everything is conducted honorably and fairly throughout, it can injure nobody, whilst it will prevent harm being done where everything is not conducted fairly and honorably. That is a very strong argument for maintaining the clause, not as it is, but as it was introduced in the first instance. Honorable senators should remember that this provision for a hard and fast mathematical majority to guide the Court in granting preference was not introduced by those who believe in the policy of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. It was not introduced by those who desire to see peaceful instead of warlike methods adopted for adjusting industrial difficulties, but by those who have resisted arbitration by process of law, and who have urged that if there is to be arbitration at all, it should be voluntary arbitration - knowing, as experience has taught us, that their friends and themselves would only arbitrate when they could not win by other means.
-The honorable senator is straying a long way from the question.
– I am pointing out that this provision was introduced not by those who desire arbitration, but by those who are opposed to arbitration. Assuming that they knew anything at all about the facts I have been revealing, it would be a fair inference that persons who object to arbitration by process of law might be suspected of introducingprovisions that would make the Arbitration Court futile when appointed. I say that that would be the effect if it were provided that the Court must ascertain that there is a majority in favour of preference. The difficulty would be so great that it would very seldom be surmounted, although the Court might have reasonable grounds for saying that there was a majority, and although there might be conditions, apart from the consideration of the majority or minority, that would justify the granting of preference. Let me suppose a case of a dispute in which an employer declares, “ I do not care what comes of the trial of this matter. I shall not have a union man in my place again.” My honorable friends opposite will agree with me that such a thing is very common, and do not honorable senators think that whether there is a majority or not in favour of it, that would be a case in which the
Court would be justified in establishing preference to unionists, particularly when it is remembered that the only persons who can move the, Court are those who have gone to the trouble and expense of establishing unions? Surely it is a fair thing, seeing that it is on them the success of the Court depends, that they should be protected from unfair action on the part of those who are opposed to the Court, or to any appeal to the Court. For those reasons the amendment ought to be carried, and I, at any rate, shall vote for it. If the amendment is not carried, I shall try, with as many as will help me, to insert some other provision by which the arbitrary, rigid character of the clause may be modified.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the following words be left out- “ unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.”
Clause, as amended, . agreed to.
Clauses 41 and 42 agreed to.
Clause 43 -
– I move -
That the words “ either House of the,” line i, be left out.
I intend subsequently to move the omission of the words “ within fifteen sitting days after such rules have been laid before such House.”
– I have consulted the Attorney-General, who informs me that, in his opinion, the claude, as it stands, is perfectly constitutional. But, with all due respect, I think there is very grave doubt as to whether we are not in this particular instance seeking to give to one House rights which the Constitution does not justify. Every one who has studied’ the Constitution must have been struck with the fact that whether in legislative or administrative functions, no power is delegated to any one House which is not also given to the other House; in fact, in all cases the words used are “ The Parliament,” and no reference is made to any one half of the Parliament. Where an express power is given to one House, such as that to originate financial Bills, the power is stated in express terms.
– Power is given primarily to the Governor-General in Council to accept or reject rules.
– I shall deal with that point presently. If the Constitution does not give any one House the right to act either in an administrative or legislative capacity without the assent of the other House, we by any Bill we pass in this House, with the consent of the other House, cannot confer such a power. Senator Mulcahy says that the Governor-General in Council has the primary right to pass those rules.
– To approve or disapprove.
– I point out that directly the Governor-General in Council approves of any rules they will immediately have the force of law.
– Until Parliament meets.
– And until’ Parliament rescinds.. This clause gives one House of Parliament the power to repeal, without the consent of the other House, what is practically law ; and in my view that is distinctly unconstitutional. If the Constitution has delegated legislative and ad ministrative powers, and the duty of safeguarding the rights of the people, to both Houses, we should not be wise in establishing the precedent that any one House has the power to practically repeal a law. From the point of view of expediency, this clause, as it stands, will operate in two ways. Let us suppose, for a moment that the Court, in the exercise of its functions, drafts a really workable set of rules which would facilitate the operation of the Act, and give everybody the opportunity to take advantage of its operations. We know that just as there has been an outcry in other States by a certain section of the press and of the community against arbitration, it is very likely that throughout the Commonwealth, when this Bill became law, a similar outcry would arise against the good workable rules drafted by the Court. One House, therefore, should not have the power to repeal those rules, when they have practically become law. Look at the situation in the two Houses at the present time. ‘ In the one House there is a majority in favour of a good, workable, and effective Arbitration Bill, while in the other it is extremely doubtful whether such a majority exists. If good, workable rules were drafted, the other place would reject them - it would say, “ We are not satisfied with the rules ; they make the proceedings too easy.”
– The amendment takes the honorable senator no further forward, because one House might refuse to approve of the rules.
- Senator Best, as a lawyer, will agree that directly the rules have received the assent of the GovernorGeneral in Council, they will have the force of law, and that being so, if any one House is given the right to nullify them by disapproval, it is tantamount to giving that House the right to repeal the law - a right the Constitution does not contemplate. We. therefore, say that the assent of both Houses should be necessary before the rules of the Court, approved by the Governor-General in Council, are disallowed. Of course, my contention would work exactly the other way. If the Court drafted a bad set of rules, we, in the Senate, who thoroughly approve of arbitration; and desire that every facility should be given to the people to come under its operation, would be powerless to nullify those rules. But, in the aspect I haVe placed before honorable senators, I ask whether the’ amendment is not one which could be reasonably accepted, as in accord with the spirit of the Constitution. I hope the House will agree with Senator Stewart, and make the whole Parliament, rather than one-half, responsible.
– The amendment is a double one. The first part is intended to prevent either House of Parliament negativing any of the rules - to make it incumbent that both Houses shall agree. The second part is intended to make it possible for the Parliament to rescind rules at any time, no matter how long they may have been in force, as against the limitation imposed by the clause as it stands of fifteen days after the sitting of Parliament. As to the first part of the amendment, Senator Givens rests his contention on two grounds ; first, that in his view it is unconstitutional that either. House of Parliament should have the power to rescind - that the power must be conferred on the Houses jointly. I disagree with that view. In my opinion, the clause is not affected by the Constitution in any way. We are empowered by the Constitution to legislate with regard to conciliation and arbitration. We do so legislate. And in this Bill, which we hope to pass, power is given to make rules. It is perfectly competent in the Bill to delegate that power to the Court with the approval of the Governor-General, and to give the Parliament a controlling voice. The Parliament has a perfect right to say who shall make the rules, who shall approve or disapprove of them, and whether the Houses shall act separately or together. My honorable friend says it is very undesirable that one House should have this power. That objection is answered by the fact that the first Act of this session contained the following provision : -
When an Act confers power to make Regulations, or Regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
Be notified in the Gazette,
Take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the Regulations.
Be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution, of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such Regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any Regulations, such Regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
It would be a very anomalous thing for us now to make a change inour parliamentary procedure. Either House has the right to veto any Bill. We are not obliged to pass a Bill because it was passed by the other House, nor is the other House obliged to pass a Bill because it was passed by the Senate. It is exactly the same with rules which are made in pursuance of a Statute. I think that we had better conserve the dignity and power of theSenate. We should have an independent voice, and not place ourselves in a position in which we should not have the power of vetoing a bad rule, because the other House does not agree.
– The other House may veto a good rule
– If it is a bad rule, one House can bring it to an end without the concurrence of the other. And if the other “House chooses to be obstructive, it may thwart the whole object of this legislation. That is a very good argument, but it cuts both ways, and therefore I think we may as well fall back on the constitutional principle that if one House has a right to veto a particular measure, it also has a right to veto a subsidiary enactment. If the amendment were adopted in this shape, it could not be carried out, because the Parliament does not mean merely the Senate and the House of Representatives but includes His Majesty (he King, though that defect could be remedied. I think that when my honorable friend perceives what the position is he will not press the amendment.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - The principle has been affirmed by the Committee that either House of Parliament may veto the rules of Court; but, as the clause stands, it can only be done within fifteen sitting days after the rules have been laid upon the table. We ought to have unlimited power of vetoing any rules which at any time may be found to be bad. Therefore I move -
That the words “within fifteen sitting days after such rules have been laid before such House,” lines 3 and 4, be left out.
My object in moving the amendment is to conserve the right of either House. It is extremely undesirable that the exercise of the power should be limited to a period of fifteen days, in which important matters might be engaging the attention of either House. The bad effects of a rulemight not be apparent for twelve months.
– Parliament has the power to veto a ruleat any time.
– The Parliament could not veto a rule by passing a simple motion; it would be necessary to pass a Bill through both Houses. It is quite likely that the bad effects of some rules might not make themselves apparent for two or three years. A test case might not crop up until three or four years after the rules were laid before the Parliament. And when it did arise, the Houses would, unless they went to the trouble of amending the law, be absolutely powerless to act. Surely it is right to give either House of Parliament the power of vetoing any rules after it has had some experience of their working.
– I think that Senator Givens is making a serious mistake in submitting this amendment. It is most desirable that the procedure in connexion with the Arbitration Court should be definitely settled. If it is to be an independent judicial tribunal, it should be allowed, as far as possible, to work out its own machinery. The rules will relate principally to matters of procedure. If it were thought that political control could be exercised from time to time, it would completely destroy the value of the Court as an independent tribunal. The procedure of the Court should be definitely known, so that litigants could know exactly what they would be required to do. If it were competent for either House, by a mere resolution, to interfere at any time, it might have the effect of intimidating the Court. It would certainly have the effect of bringing to bear upon the Court a political influence from which it should be free at all times. If a member of either House could at any moment submit a motion and criticise the procedure of the Court, or make a violent attack on it, public confidence in the Court would be seriously disturbed. In each State the Supreme Court is allowed to make its rules and regulations. Within a certain time, the rules may be nullified by either House of the Parliament ; but once that time has expired, the Court is practically allowed to work out its own procedure in its own way, as experience may dictate from time tq time. The Arbitration Court should be as independent a tribunal as the Supreme Court of a State, and so far as’ rules and regulations are concerned it should be treated in precisely the same way as other independent tribunals. In moving this amendment, Senator Givens is attempting to sap the independence of the Arbitration Court, and rendering it subpect to the exercise of political influence.
– I cannot vote for the amendment, because I do not think that there should be such indecision about the rules of the Arbitration Court. If Senator Givens will extend the time in which either House may exercise the power of disallowance, it will meet the case. There is great force in the argument of Senator Best that if a motion could be moved at any time in either House it would interfere to a considerable extent with the influence of the Court. Let us assume that rules and/ regulations have been framed, and that by-and-by a case comes before the Court. Suppose that in one House of Parliament there is a majority of strong partisans. Say that one House is composed of men who are entirely on the one side in regard to a case which may be coming on. They would practically be able to intimidate the Court to such an extent, by nullifying one-half of the rules of the Court, as practically to prevent it from going on with its ‘business. It seems to me that that would be bad from every aspect. If strong political influence is exercised by any party in either House, and the rules of the Court are affected by that influence, it is not likely that the general body of the public will have confidence in the Court.’ Personally, I think that the period of fifteen days is too short. It takes a long time to consider some rules which have been framed by Judges, and a layman may have to consult other people before he can understand their meaning.
– Fifteen sitting days of the Senate means five weeks.
– If the Senate sits four or five days a week it may mean only three weeks. In a number of Acts in Queensland the time allowed is sixty sitting days.
– The Senate has not had sixty sitting days this session.
– But we have had peculiarly long adjournments. I could not vote for the amendment moved by Senator Givens, but if he will move for an extension of the time within which exceptionmay be taken to the rules I shall support him.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- It is very evident that those honorable senators, who have opposed Senator Givens’ amendment have given no consideration whatever to the subject in hand. Senator Best appears to think that the amendment would” give rise to a feeling of want of confidence in the Court on the part of the public. He- argues that the Court must have rules and regulations that everybody knows. I agree that that is so. But if, after rules have been in operation for some time, they are found to be unfair, Parliament should have power to alter them. Rules are like pieces of chain; we can only judge of their strength by testing them.
– The Court will alter them if they do not work properly.
– Courts, like the honorable and learned senator, appear to be bound up by red tape, which, although not made of iron or any other strong material, is just as powerful in its effects. My contention is that, if we find that a particular rule of Court is. not working as it ought to do, Parliament should be at liberty to alter or abolish it. Some honorable senators think that fifteen days is a sufficient time within which Parliament may make an alteration. What is the procedure? The Court makes its rules. Suppose it makes them shortly before Parliament meets. When Parliament meets, the rules are submitted. No opportunity has been afforded to test the rules. Yet honorable senators are limited to a period of fifteen sitting days within which they can propose amendments, and if subsequently the rules are found to work unfairly, no action can be taken except in a round-about manner. Parliament should not tie its hands in this manner. I have no fear of anything such as Senator Turley has suggested. Parliament would never dream of interfering with any rules of Court, unless it were demonstrated that thev were operating injuriously to the public.
– Parliaments have done some funny things.
– That was in the good old times before sensible people like Senator Turley and others came into Parliament. I do not think that Parliament would take any action in connexion with rules of the Court, except as a last resource.
– What about trusting the Court?
– What about trusting Parliament? Parliament is the highest Court in the realm. My own opinion is that Parliament has interfered with rules of Court far too little. I have gone over rules of Court, and there are dozens of instances where alterations would be distinctly in the interests of the public. But there is a tendency to regard the rules made bv Judges as sacred - as similar to Holy Writ - as something which it would be sacrilege to question. Parliament should never delegate its responsibility in this fashion. We stand between the people and the Judges. I have no fear that Parliament will do anything wrong in the matter. Parliament should have power at any time when the necessity for altering or abolishing rules has been proved, to take the steps necessary to that end.
– I hope that my honorable friend, Senator Givens, will not press his amendment. The real object of the rules referred to has been to some extent overlooked. We propose to give the Court, whose jurisdiction it is to administer this measure, the power to make rules regulating its practice and procedure. Such rules do not deal with any matters of principle or of substance. The Court can do’ nothing except what every court is empowered to do - frame rules affecting its own procedure.
– The amendment does not propose to take away that power.
– The honorable senator has given an exaggerated importance to these rules. It is implied in the amendment that it might be possible for the Judge to frame such rules as would en tirely defeat the purposes of the measure.
– The rules can be made cumbersome.
– That should be left to the Judge, who is surely the custodian of the procedure of his own Court. Parliament is not anything like as capable of framing regulations for the work of the Court as the Judges are. Suppose notice had to be given of some procedure. It would be for the Judge to say, in the exercise of his discretion, whether ten or twenty, or thirty days’ notice should be given, as required by the justice of the case. We simply require to provide that Parliament shall have an opportunity to know what the rules are; and if some very serious arid exceptional rule is made, Parliament will not be absolutely without power to consider it. We say that the rules are to be laid before both Houses of Parliament within thirty days after they have been made; or, if Parliament is not sitting, then within thirty days after* the next meeting of Parliament. Therefore there is ample time within which Parliament can consider the rules. If there is any rule which is considered to be mischievous or highly exceptional, it can be criticised. There can be no doubt that it would be a very serious thing, as Senator Givens has pointed out, if the rules were to be kept open for parliamentary criticism indefinitely. It would never do. It would be a very serious thing if the vitality of the rules depended upon a majority in one House of Parliament. There might be a majority at a particular time in the interests of the employers. I hope that these antagonisms will not prevail, but what I have suggested might happen. Five years hence some case might come before the Court, and the majority in the employers’ interests might deal with the rules of the Court in such’ a way as to prejudice seriously the work of the Court. It is evident there ought to be a time limit ; and if we are to have a limit, why should it not be fifteen days, as laid down in other Acts of Parliament ?
– Unless it is specifically stated.
-Quite so. I can give, as an illustration, a very important Act under which regulations of the most vital character have already been made. I refer to the Customs Act of 1901. There the same provision is inserted, and it is provided that if either House of Parliament passes a resolution at any time within fifteen sitting days in opposition to a regulation, it shall cease to have effect.
– What about the Public Service Act? Notimeis mentioned there.
– I was under the impression that the time was limited in that Act also.
– No; it is not.
– At any rate, here we have rules of Court made by a Judge. They have to be approved by the Governor-General, then they have to be laid before Parliament for thirty days, and during that interval they will no doubt be widely known and discussed; and then there are fifteen sitting days within which a resolution may be moved, not in both, but in either House of Parliament. So that if there should be some difficulty in the way by reason of a vote of want of confidence having been moved in the House of Representatives, the matter may be dealt with in the Senate. If there were any necessity, I have no doubt that a matter of this kind would always be brought on. I am satisfied that no Government would delay the consideration of such a matter for more than fifteen sitting days.
– Much they would care when they were fighting for their political existence
– I do not take that view at all. I have no doubt that the rules, if they could be called in question, would be dealt with. I hope that my honorable friend will not press his amendment. He must see that, as these are rules governing the practice and procedure of the Court, and will be made by a Judge, we can trust the Court in this matter, if we can trust it in any, and we should not hold the interference of Parliament over the Court, in terrorem, for an indefinite time. I remind honorable senators that fifteen sitting days would, as applied to the Senate, represent about five weeks.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - Notwithstanding the eloquent appeal of the Attorney-General, I do not think that this provision should be left as it is. The honorable and learned senator asks why we should interfere with the Court; but, if his argument in this respect is sound, the provision should be left out altogether. I am prepared to agree that there shall be a time limit during which Parliament must exercise the right to veto these rules ; but I think that the time mentioned in the Bill is altogether too short. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment, with a view of moving that the time should be thirty days, instead of fifteen.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I now move -
That the word “fifteen,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ thirty.”
I ask honorable senators to imagine what might have been the result if this Parliament had been called upon to deal with such rules at the commencement of this session. We know that it has been a session of turmoil, during which successive Governments have been forced to fight for their existence. Supposing that, as soon as the thirty days had expired, a no-confidence motion were tabled in another place, what would be the result? Before honorable senators had had time to look at the rules the Senate would be adjourned for two months. That has occurred often during this session. Fifteen sitting days would cover at most only five weeks as applied to the Senate, and if the Senate were adjourned for two months the term provided in the Bill would be altogether too short so far as the Senate is concerned. So far as the House- of Representatives is concerned, if a noconfidence motion were before that House everything else would be lost sight of in the struggle of the “ outs ‘ ‘ to get on to the Treasury bench and of those occupying them to maintain their position. I submit that the amendment I now move is a very reasonable one, and- should be accepted by the Attorney-General. It will, give Parliament sufficient time within which to carry out its desire, if it should have such a desire, to veto these rules of the Arbitration Court; It should not be forgotten that this is an exceedingly important Bill. It has wrecked three Governments, it may wreck a fourth, and, as the AttorneyGeneral has said, it may even wreck a Parliament. That being so, the rules of the Court, the procedure and everything else connected with it, must be regarded as matters of vital importance, and I therefore contend that the time during which Parliament should have the right to exercise the power of veto under this clause should be extended to thirty sitting days.
- Senator Stewart, in mentioning that there is no limitation under the Public Service Act, was in one sense right and in another wrong. The honorable senator was wrong, inasmuch as there is no power given to Parliament under the Public Service Act to alter a single regulation under it, except by Act of Parliament. The regulations made pursuant to the Act have full force and effect immediately they are published in the Gazette, and they are to be laid before both Houses of Parliament, within seven days after the publication in the Gasette, if Parliament is in session, and, if not, within seven days after the next meeting of Parliament.
– We have altered some of them.
– Yes. bv resolution.
– Of course a resolution would be taken notice of by the Public Service Commissioner, but there is no power to veto regulations under the Public Service Act, and there is, therefore, no limitation as to time provided.
– I believe that the regulations will be a very important feature in the administration of this Bill. The Bill cannot be brought into operation until regulations are provided. It might be wise, in some instances,’ to have as lengthy a period as possible in which to discuss proposed procedure; but my experience is that it is very unwise to allow too much time.
– The regulations under this Bill will come into force directly they are approved bv the Governor-General.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. -I have a very definite knowledge of an important Act of Parliament which was passed in Western Australia, and the regulations, which practically controlled the administration of that Act, did not come into operation until nearly eight months after the passing of the Act and the framing’ of the regulations. The result was that during . that time the Act was not operative, although it applied to a very important industry.
– That could not happen under this Bill.
– I consider that five weeks is a fair time to allow.
– Certainly it is, for the Senate. “Senator Givens. - Then the honorable senator does not understand the question.
– I understand that when we have these regulations framed, the probability is that -we shall do very little with them.
– We can only disallow them altogether.
– Quite so; and I do not suppose that we will go to the trouble of disallowing them. If this Bill is passed, I wish to see all regulations framed under it brought into operation as speedily as possible, in order that the Bill may become operative, and for that reason I shall vote for the clause as it stands.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I should not have risen again but for the fact that Senator Henderson undoubtedly misunderstands the. effect of the amendment. The honorable senator says that he wishes regulations under this Bil Ito come into force as soon as possible. He runs away with the idea that, because I propose that the time during which Parliament may exercise the right to disallow these rules’ shall be thirty sitting days, I am trying to prevent regulations under the Act being brought into operation as soon as possible. I point out to the honorable senator that directly the regulations receive the assent of the Governor-General, they have the force of law, and that would be so though we extended the time during which Parliament might exercise the right of veto to twenty years. Senator Henderson is running away with an idea which has no foundation in fact, but I hope that notwithstanding what he has said, we shall receive his vote.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I am not surprised that an amendment of this character has met with opposition from the legal profession; that was to be expected. But that a number of laymen, from whom we might expect at least a common-sense view, should seek to tie Parliament down in the fashion proposed, seems to me quite extraordinary. What is the object of providing for the submission of rules to Parliament? The object undoubtedly is to enable Parliament to make an alteration if anything objectionable is found in the rules. What business-man would say to himself, “ I shall give myself fifteen days in which to find out any defect in my methods, and if I do not find out any defect within that period, no matter how many I may afterwards discover, I shall apply no remedy.” Let honorable senators take a common-sense view, and ask themselves whether any man in his sober senses would tie himself down in that fashion?
– But a customer might say to a business-man, “ I shall give you so many days ‘ in which ‘ to alter your methods.”
– That is a different matter. The question before us is not one of buying and selling, or of a person discovering a flaw in an article which he has purchased. The question before us is one of public importance. ‘ The Bill practically provides that no objection whatever shall be taken to a rule after fifteen sitting days from the meeting of Parliament.
– Parliament can. always make an alteration bv Act.
– No one knows better than Senator Playford how difficult it is to pass an Act of Parliament.
– Better have an Act of Parliament than tinker with the Judge’s rules.
– I quite appreciate the Attorney-General’s altitude; but, thank heaven, a majority of members of the Senate are not lawyers.
– They all wish they were.
– If we could’ have as large and lucrative a practice as has the honorable and learned senator, we should, no doubt, be very well pleased to pay as much homage to the Courts as he does.
– My homage is of a very controversial character.
– As has often been said by the leader of the party to which the honorable and learned senator belongs, in regard to industries, “ Let in the fresh air.” I think a little fresh air would do the Law Courts a great deal of good, full as they are of dust and cobwebs, and the traditions of an effete and barbarous time.
– ;We would gladly exchange chambers. There are no cobwebs here.
– Thank goodness !’ And that is entirely owing to the fact that the fresh air of public opinion has been permitted to blow over the Chamber. If the honorable and learned senator had come to this Chamber a few years ago, when it was occupied by the Legislative Council of Victoria, he .would have found any amount of “dust” and “cobwebs.”
– Its members were all hard-working, industrious men.
– No doubt they were very industrious; but that is altogether beside the question. Parliament should preserve to itself the right to alter or disallow any regulation.
– So Parliament does.
– Why are we here ? Are we here to bind ourselves in such a way that if we do not discover a flaw within a certain time we shall be powerless, to patch the flaw up afterwards?
– It is the universal practice.
– That plea has been advanced in opposition to every reform. What should we say of a captain who sailed from Melbourne, and declared that if he did not discover a leak in his vessel within twelve days he would not trouble to stop any leak he might discover afterwards? We should say that such a captain was a madman, unfit to command a ship. What can .we say of Members of Parliament who shut their eyes and open their mouths, and swallow whatever the Judge may send? If the Senate will not agree to sixty days, or to an unlimited time, surely the period might be fixed at thirty sitting days. It might take years to discover a bad regulation.
– The Judge can make fresh regulations at any time.
– But my contention is that Parliament should have a say in the matter.
– We have trusted the Judge with much greater power.
– We have trusted the Judge in the matter of preference.
– I am anxious that we should retain the power to disallow a regulation, whenever we find that it is opposed to the public interest. Senator Givens has shown very clearly how it might be impossible for Members of Parliament to even read regulations within fifteen sitting days after the meeting of Parliament. There might be such important business before us that no one would have time to give any attention to regulations, and if the period fixed elapsed in the meantime, we should find ourselves absolutely impotent to move in the public interest.
– We can always pass an Act of Parliament.
– It may be easy to pass some Acts of Parliament, but it is very difficult to pass others. We are not dealing with Acts of Parliament, but with regulations under an Act of Parliament. Parliament ought to guard very jealously against government by regulation. There is too great a tendency of late years to delegate our powers, and to resort in a great measure to government by regulation. The amendment moved by Senator Givens is a fair and reasonable compromise. What special virtue is there in fifteen days?
– What special virtue is there in thirty days?
– It gives Parliament a little more time.
– One virtue in fifteen days is uniformity.
– Are we to make a fetish of uniformity - erect an idol before which we bow clown? I, at least, am not prepared to tender such worship.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 44 to 53 agreed to.
Clause 54 -
The Industrial Registrar shall keep, at the principal registry, a register of all organizations registered under this Act, and a list of all proclaimed organizations.
Each Deputy Registrar shall keep, at the registry under his charge, a register of all organizations registered under this Act at that registry, and a list of all proclaimed organizations existing in the State.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I should like to know from the AttorneyGeneral whether a society can register at the principal registry, which will be located at the Seat of Government, or whether it will have to register at the District Registry in its own State? So far as I can gather, it will be difficult for an Inter-State union to register as an organization. The process will be tedious and involve considerable trouble and worry. Apparently, each branch of a society will have to take out a separate registration. Is it not possible to devise a provision which will allow a union which is Inter-State in character or operates throughout the Commonwealth, to register at the principal registry ?
– I do not think the Attorney-General has quite grasped my meaning. In this clause no provision is made for the Industrial Registrar at the principal registry to receive applications for registration. It only provides that he shall keep a record of the information which may be forwarded to him by the Deputy Registrars.
– My honorable friend is mistaken. Clause 52 provides for the situation of Registries, but clause 51 says -
The Governor-General may -
establish a Principal Registry for the registration of organizations ;
establish District Registries for the registration of organizations ;
appoint an Industrial Registrar and Deputy Industrial Registrars.
Another clause enables the Governor- General to proclaim organizations. Therefore we have three sets of organizations, namely, those registered at the Principal Registry, those registered at the District Registry, and those proclaimed. The Industrial Registrar is required to keep a list of all applications received throughout Australia, just as is required to be done under the Patents Act. . Clause 54 merely defines the duty of the Industrial Registrar, and the duties of Deputy Registrars, keeping in view the keystone in clause 51, I do not anticipate that there will be the slightest difficulty under clause 54.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 55 -
Provided that no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by the Court when, and so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character. . . .
– I move -
That the following words be left out - “ Provided that no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by the Court when, and so long as it rules.”
If that amendment be carried, I intend to move the omission of the remainder of the proviso, and if it be not carried, it will leave the way open for another amendment. I think it is well-known that many honorable senators as well as very many members in another place, do not believe in the proviso. In my opinion, it is too drastic altogether. If it be allowed to stand, I can hardly see where it will land the existing unions. It has been affirmed here by a majority this afternoon, that the Court may, if it think: fit, grant preference to members of an organization. It is not fair to hamper or restrict the Court by allowing this proviso to remain as it is. It seems to me that unless it be altered no existing union will be safe in doing any act of a political character. It is well known that when an organization desires to hear the views of candidates who are advocating different policies, it provides the funds for hiring a hall, or identifies itself in a small way with a political meeting. But, according to this proviso, the members of an organization which provided a few shillings to pay for the rent of a hall would be deprived of the chance of getting a preference whenever, in the settlement of a dispute, the Court thought it was necessary and fair that it should be given. If we can trust the Court to say when it is fair for the members of an organization to get a preference, surely we can go a little further, and trust the Court to deal with a case of this kind ? Surely no one will imagine for a moment that the Court would grant preference to the members of an organization if it were shown that it had in its rules anything that was unfair to non-unionists? Having given immense powers to the Court, we can surely trust them to declare whether, in their opinion, there is anything unfair to the non-unionists in the rules of the organizations. I cannot think that the proviso is necessary.
– I cannot accept this amendment, and I hope that my honorable friend will not press it. The reasons which have been stated by honorable senators opposite in regard to preference certainly do not apply to this proviso. My honorable friend has said something about trusting the Court. It is at least doubtful if the Court would have power to inquire as to the destination of the funds of an organization in dealing with preference. The very first men to complain of the interference of the Court in regard to the powers of the organizations to use their funds for political purposes in the absence of statutory authority would be my honorable friends opposite. First of all, I do not think that the Court could do it. In the second place, it would be highly inexpedient to do it if they could ; and in the third place, if they attempted to do so, it would expose them to animadversions and criticisms. The preference provision applies to employers’ unions as well as to unions of employes. I beseech my honorable friends to think of the measure that they are endeavouring to bring into operation. The complaint is frequently made that the employers are possessed of far more of the sinews of war, and are far better fitted for political propaganda in that respect than are the employes. From that aspect it would be a very unwise thing to leave the matter to the voluntary action of the Court, and any such interference by a Court of justice with the political rights and privileges claimed by any organization might be resented vehemently by honorable senators opposite. There is another consideration. This proviso simply says that organizations under this Bill are to be looked upon, and are to be in essence, trade organizations, for the purpose of furthering the interests of the employes in the particular industries concerned. If their character in that respect isto be altered as proposed by Senator O’Keefe’s amendment, we shall be deciding not that organizations like the old trades unions are to have preference, but that members of political bodies are to have preference under an award of the Court. I do not think that my honorable friends opposite desire that. I put it to them in this way - that they are only giving a handle to criticism; because if they strike out this proviso, they will be declaring that the organizations enjoying preference, which are to have power to coerce non-associated workmen by their being left out of employment, are to be instruments of political propaganda. If the proviso is struck out, whether honorable senators like it or not, they will make the public fee-‘ that their most earnest object is the con version of trades organizations into political engines. Is that desirable in their own interests ? I think not. My honorable friend says that the proviso as it stands is too drastic. It does not say that a union shall not be an organization which may have political purposes as one of its objects. It does not interfere with the liberty of the unions to do as they please. What it says - in words that, I think, are not susceptible of improvement - is that if a trade organization is in fact a political body, its members are not to have preference.
– It says more than that.
– I think not.
– Suppose, for instance, that a trade union organized a meeting for the purpose of considering a certain Act of Parliament ?
– Say a Master and Servants’Act.
– That does not strike me as a political purpose within the meaning of this provision. That would merely be the consideration of matters of concern to a particular industry.
– Surely that would be something of a political character.
– It does not appear to me to be action of a political character.
– Would the honorable and learned senator agree to an amendment making that point clear?
– I will consider the amendment when I see it. But my honorable friends opposite have a fancy for concealing their amendments. My honorable friend Senator O’Keefe, in moving this amendment, has adopted the strategy that was resorted to earlier in our proceedings upon this Bill. Senator de Largie gives us a hint that an amendment is to be moved, but I know nothing of it, andcan say nothing about it until I see it. All that I say is that the object of this provision is to restrict thegranting of preference, and not to allow trade organizations which are largely political bodies to be used as instruments of political aggrandizement by means of the preference provision.
– In Victoria, when factories legislation was before the country, the trade unions carried on a series of meetings, and used their funds to enable them to do so. Would that be permitted under this Bill ?
– If a trade union provided funds to support a candidate for Parliament it would be using its funds for political purposes.
– Would making a contribution to a free-trade association be using funds for political purposes?
– If unions could make a contribution wisely to any particular purpose, it would be to further free-trade operations; but I think that that would be a political purpose. Although I, in common with Senator Pearce, should welcome any assistance of that kind from a trade organization, I should be bound to tell them,if they did so after this measure came into operation, that we would rather not take their money, because it would place them in an awkward position if they ever came before the Court and claimed preference. What we want to do is to make trade organizations in word and in spirit as free as possible from the imputation of being mere political instruments. So far as this Bill is concerned, we should say to them that they may be as political as they please, but that, when they come to the Court and ask for preference - that is, that their members shall be entitled .to obtain work as against non- associated men - they ought to safeguard themselves from being regarded as political associations.
– Will the honorable and learned senator be kind enough to give me an answer to my question - whether carrying on meetings for the extension of factories legislation would make the unions political organizations?
– If a union held a meeting amongst its members for the purpose of discussing any particular factories legislation ; that, in my view, would not come within the ambit of this measure. I gave an. extreme illustration of union funds being used to further the interests of a candidate for Parliament.
– Would a union be able to use its funds to hold public meetings in the interest of factories legislation?
– I think that would be a political purpose. A good deal has been said about “ trusting the Court,1’ - and it is the Court that will decide this matter. The only effect of this proviso is to submit the question to the Court for decision. If we left this out, it seems to me the Court would not be entitled to go into the question at all. It would shrink from dealing with it unless there were some obligation upon it. If we retain this proviso, the Court will be obliged, not to deal with the question in its political aspects, but to say whether or not the rules or binding decisions of an organization permit the application of its funds to political purposes.
– If the AttorneyGeneral will permit me to interrupt him, I should like to put a question to him. I submit the case of a registered trade union which, under its constitution and rules, provides that -
It shall raise funds by contributions, levies, fines, and deductions for the objects hereinafter specified ; namely, to obtain legislative enactment for the more efficient management of mines, whereby the lives and health of miners may be preserved, and, if necessary, to take steps to obtain compensation for accidents where employers are liable.
I should like to ask the honorable and learned senator whether that could be interpreted as the application of funds to political purposes?
– It would be for the Court to decide. I arn a lawyer, not a prophet. The honorable senator can scarcely expect me to give an opinion as to what the decision of the Court would be on a matter of that character. If, as I have said in answer to Senator Findley, the action of the association were limited to the discussion by its members of existing legislation, and that sort of thing, it would not, in my view, come within the political purposes referred ‘ to in this clause. I think the best illustration I can offer is that which I have already given. The proviso would apply where the funds of an organization were expended for the purpose of securing the return of a candidate for Parliament, or where, as the clause very clearly expresses it, the rules required its members “to do anything of a political character.” The object is, as far as possible, to shut out all political elements from trade organizations. It seems to me -that that will be accomplished by the clause as it stands, and I sincerely hope that the words to which exception is taken will be retained.
– I should like to ask the Attorney-General, in this connexion, whether, if the Trades and Labour Council, or any society associated with that body, got up a petition for the purpose of putting legislation on the statute-book to provide for trade union marks, and devoted a portion of its funds to carry out that intention, such action would be considered of a political character?
– It would entirely depend on the way in which . the funds were used. If the funds were used, for instance, to secure the return of persons opposed to the present Government, I should say that the action would’ be highly political and most reprehensible, and it ought to be prevented.
– I shall put a more direct question to the honorable and learned senator. Only the other day a petition was presented to the Senate, which it took the Clerk about half an hour to read. It was presented by the Employers’ Union; and the object was to prevent the passage of the Trade Marks Bill, because some clauses had been inserted in it providing for trade union marks. The preparation of that petition must have cost a lot of money and trouble, and I should like to ask the AttorneyGeneral whether, if the Employers’ Union were registered under this Bill, and spent its funds in that way, their action would be interpreted as being of a political character ?
– I should not set up my opinion against the view which the Arbitration Court might take, but I do not think that the presentation of’ a petition to Parliament would be covered by the words “political purposes,” as used in this clause.
– I asked the honorable and learned senator exactly the same question as applied to trade unionists.
– If my honorable friends opposite desire that I should not merely assist in passing legislation, but should interpret it as law, they are setting, me a task which it is very difficult to perform. I do not think that th”e action to which, Senator McGregor has referred is such as this provision is directed against. I see nothing which would bring within the definition of “political purposes,” as used in this clause, the action of any organization, whether of employes or employers, in sending a respectfully worded petition to Parliament in relation to some matter which it might desire to bring, under the notice of Parliament.
– There are one or two matters which I wish to clearly understand before we come to a decision. The Attorney-General, when asked a question by Senator McGregor as to what would be the effect in certain cases if the Bill passed as it stood, stated that he was not able to say what opinions the Judges of the High Court, or any other tribunal, would hold after the law came into operation. But Senator McGregor never even suggested a question of the kind. What we expect from the Attorney-General is a statement of the reasons for inserting this proviso in the Bill. We think that, as Attorney-General, he should be able to inform us as to what he conceives will be the operation of the proviso- what view, from a legal stand-point, the Court will be likely to take.
– The honorable senator is after cheap law.
– Cheap law is often verv expensive in the long run. To ask a legal member for his opinion might Be called an attempt to obtain cheap law ; but in such a matter as this we have a right to the benefit of the Attorney-General’s legal knowledge.
– The honorable senator wants to know the purpose of the clause?
– And what is likely tj be its effect. The matter is of such importance that before we do pass the clause we wish to know what, from his legal knowledge, is likely to be the effect of this proviso. Certainly such a proviso would not have been inserted unless there had beensome reason operating in the AttorneyGeneral’s mind.
– I did not insert it.
– But the AttorneyGeneral is in charge of the Bill, and in submitting it to the Committee he has fathered it, and to all intents and purposes is responsible, so far as this Chamber is concerned. The other remark which fell from the Attorney-General is, from my point of view, still more serious. I understood the Attorney-General to say that the express intention of putting a ban on political action by any industrial union is to absolutely sweep away any semblance of politics in connexion therewith. If that be so, I am most decidedly opposed to any opportunity being afforded to carry out any such idea. We have heard a great deal during the discussion about the old unionism and the new unionism. It is undoubtedly true that the old unionism has passed away pretty well all over the Commonwealth, and has been decently buried, with very slender hope, if any, of a resurrection. In its place we have what is known as the new unionism, which comprises all trades and occupations into one union in a State, followed by a federation of unions. But we have got beyond the idea of amalgamation. Unionism has entered as a political factor, not only in the States, but in the Commonwealth ; and as a result, there are a number of direct representatives both in this and the other Chamber, known as the Labour Party.
– If it had not been for that fact, we should not have seen this proviso.
– Had it not been that we have been steadily growing in strength we should not have seen any proposition of the kind in the Bill.
– Nor the Bill itself.
– But the Labour Party all wanted the Bill.
– Undoubtedly ; we were wanting this Bill long before a political Labour Party came into existence.
– Senator McGregor seems to think that it was the political colour of the organizations which led to the Bill.
– I did not understand Senator McGregor to mean that. I made the statement, in which I thoroughly believed, that had it not been” for the existence of the political Labour Party, we should never have seen this proviso, and Senator McGregor interjected, “ Nor the Bill itself.” I am not arguing about the Bill, but about the proviso to this particular clause, and expressing’ the opinion that it is a distinct effort to destroy the political Labour Party as such - that it is a round-about attempt to destroy political action by any organized labour union. The remark which fell from the Attorney-General undoubtedly bears that meaning ; at any rate, that is the reasonable inference. The old unionism, as I was endeavouring to point out, did not take political action, whereas the new unionism has done so, and with very good effect, though I believe our sad and solemn friend, Senator Dobson, believes it to be tyrannical action. Senator Dobson’s observations, however, fall from an honorable and learned senator who does not know anything about industrial organizations of their working. The entrance of organized labour into the. political arena was absolutely forced on the unions, and I am free to say on the floor of this Chamber that if the Liberal Party, as it existed in the days of the old unionism, had been worthy of its trust, and had made the slightest effort to carry out its promises made often on the public platform - if it had stood to us in our hour of trial and trouble - there never would have been a parliamentary Labour Party in any State. It is precisely because at the time- we wanted the Liberal Party to do what they had been promising all their lives, and had failed to do, that we realize the absolute necessity to go further - the absolute necessity not to lean on somebody who bent or broke immediately, but to fight the battle for ourselves. We have succeeded, and how that our party is growing in strength, I interpret the remarks of the Attorney-
General to mean that this round-about method has been taken to destroy us as a political entity.
– I neither said anything like that, nor meant it.
– Then I ask the AttorneyGeneral what does he mean? I had occasion, when we were discussing the proposal to include domestic servants, to ask the- Attorney-General whether an associated workers’ union, which included domestic servants, could register and appear before the Court. The Attorney-General did not answer the question, and in my opinion, he is in a state of doubt and uncertainty on the point. Now, the very same legal point crops up. If an associated workers’ union such as we have under the new unionism, comprising all kinds of trades and occupations, has anything in its rules bearing on political action, it would not, I take it, be able to register, and consequently would be debarred from bringing any disputes before the Court. The result would be simply that the union would have to refuse to register if they desired to retain their organized political power.
– As I read the clause, such a union would only have to give up preference.
– That is all.
-I am taking my present stand in consequence of the remark by the Attorney-General, when he said that the object of the clause is to brush away all semblance of political action from this Bill.
– I did not say that ; really, the honorable senator misunderstands me.
– The clause says expressly that no preference shall be given to any political organization.
– And then the union can be as political as it pleases.
– It is only just that, when unions ask for preference, they should give up their political programme.
- Senator Playford has been long in Parliament both on the Government side and in Opposition, and he knows as well as I can tell him that when a man, particularly a layman, is reading an Act of Parliament, he has to read what is conveyed to his mind, and, as far as he can judge, the intention in inserting a particular provision. What are the intentions and reasons operating in this case?
– The Government were forced to insert this provision.
– If that is so, we shall use gentle force, as far as we know how, to have, this clause omitted, and our last state will certainly be as good as the first, with the added experience which may be beneficial in the future. It appears to me that if any industrial organization has a rule showing that the object is to secure direct representation of labour . in Parliament, that union cannot register if it wishes to retain preference. Such a union has either to excise the rule and revert to the old unionism, relying on the Liberal Party which failed us at the needy moment, or else it will not have to register. My experience of the Liberal Party is such that I am not willing to go back from the position we occupy now, to the very unfortunate position we occupied in days gone by. And further, I would ask honorable senators whether when, if they attempt to prevent any properly organized labour union from taking an active part in politics, and having its representative in this Chamber or the other, they really know what they are doing? They are endeavouring, even though they do not destroy the labour representative, to put upon him as large a handicap as possible. What are our methods? No man, whatever his occupation may be, is debarred from joining a union. The mere fact that Senator Dobson is a lawyer does not debar h:.m from joining a union ; but he is disqualified because he is antagonistic to its principles. It is. precisely the same with the Employers’ Federation, which also takes an active part in politics. Are its members to be penalized in the same way as trade unionists? In ample time, nominations are called for by a union, and if more than the requisite number are received, a selection ballot takes place. We are forced to take that course with the union and all sympathetic bodies, although they may not belong directly to the organization, in order that the public may be able to distinguish between the labour candidate proper and the bogus labour candidate. In the past we have suffered a great deal from the bogus candidate. This is the only protection we have against the miscalled liberal, and the candidate who says he is as good as, if not better than a labour man.
– Is admission to all the unions by ballot?
– In- the case of some unions it is.
– I do not know of a single case. Senator Dobson may be speak, ing of the miners’ organization in. Tasmania, which is not a new union, but a branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association of Victoria. A carpenter cannot belong to that organization, but any man, even the Attorney-General himself, can join the Associated Workers’ Union on the condition that he is not antagonistic to its principles.
– I have read of men having been excluded by ballot.
– I should like the honorable and learned senator, or any one else to mention any portion of the Commonwealth in which a candidate for admission to the Associated Workers’ Union is balloted for. Can the honorable and learned senator name any union which has a rule to that effect?
– I have read of it.
– It is a most extraordinary thing to me, as I am sure it must be to Senator Givens to hear a statement to that effect, because he and I were concerned in preparing the draft rules for an Associated Workers’ Union. These draft rules were circulated throughout the States, and so far as I know they have not been materialy altered, and certainly they contain no reference to a ballot for membership. If it is the intention of the Government, through the efforts of the AttorneyGeneral to destroy us as a political entity, I should like him to say so straight out. I do not intend to return to a system which we found absolutely destructive to- our interests as a body. In the past we could make no headway, and were absolutely at the mercy of men who deserted us on every possible occasion. The Associated Workers’ Union is an industrial union. It is a federation oftrades and occupations, and it has developed its powers to such an extent that it has secured direct representation in the Parliament. But the Government come down and say, “ We shall not give you an opportunity of going before the electors, and asking them to say whether you will come in as direct representatives of labour. If you wish to retain that particular privilege, we shall not allow you to register under the Act, or to enjoy any of its benefits.”
– The honorable senator is not. stating the case fairly. The organizations will be allowed to register, and it will only Be when they ask for preference that they will be required, to give up politics. They will be in no worse position when the Bill is passed than they are in to-day, because they have no preference at the present time.
– They will be allowed to register, but must give up preference, without which the Bill is useless. We shall be in a worse position. Without a provision for preference to unionists, the Bill will not be worth a snap of the fingers. My contention is that the Associated Workers’ Union should be accepted just as it is, and that honorable senators have no right to ask if to give up a power by which it has achieved great success, and hopes to achieve still greater success. It has done a great deal of good for the States, as well as the Common wealth, since it took an interest in public affairs. The acceptance of this proviso would prevent the members of such organizations from reaping any of the benefits of this legislation. If it is passed in this form, I suppose that we shall have to exercise our ingenuity to discover some means by which, without destroying its effective power, a body can be an industrial union and at the same time an organization composed of exactly the same persons a,t liberty to take political action. We would rather act in a straightforward way than be compelled to adopt round about, and perhaps less efficient methods.
- Senator Dawson appears to me to have a very short memory, and, quite unintentionally I think, he has put before the Committee a very misleading issue. An effort was made in another place to enact that an organization should be registered for the purposes of the Act; and for no other purposes. That proposal was defeated, but some of its opponents recognised that it was just that if the members of an organization asked for preference, they should cease to be a political union, and be simply a trade organization.
– What does the honorable and learned senator mean by a political union?
– A political union would be a trade union and a political union combined, but a trade union would merely be a union for the purposes of a trade. Senator Dawson ought to see that this clause forbidding the members of an organization from entering politics is the price which they have to pay for getting preference. I do not believe in giving preference to trade unionists, because it is grossly un just. The Parliament, I understand, is not prepared to give preference to unionists if they, are to be not merely trade unionists but trade and political unionists. My honorable friend mis-states the issue when he says that this provision was inserted for the purpose of killing trade unionists as a political body, and driving them back to their former position. They say that the Bill will be absolutely useless without a provision for preference. They have been given preference in a modified but a fair way, and they are asked to pay the price. We refuse to grant this privilege to them if they desire to keep up their agitations and to be political party unions.
– Will any political party union go to the Court?
– I am not saying that a political parly union ought to have anything to do with the Court. If preference is wanted, trade unionists ought to be prepared to register for the purposes of the Act, but apparently they wish to be allowed not only to register for the purposes of the Act, but to carry on political lagitations, and to use the funds of the union one day for the purpose of litigation, another day for the purposeof supporting a candidate, and another day for the purpose of issuing leaflets against the Government. How can they fairly ask for preference of that description?
– If the honorable and learned senator knew anything about the rules of the Associated Workers’ Union, he would know that its funds could notbe used in that way.
– The Shearers’ Union did.
– I do not wish to be bound down to the Associated Workers’ Union. I am thinking of cases in which the Judges have commented upon the misuse of the funds of unions. I am thinking of scores of cases in which men have deliberately kept out of trades unions. I can fancy that it they did join, their subscription of a farthing or a half-penny per week might defray the cost of all litigation under the Act, but probably they would have to subscribe ten times that amount. My honorable friend must know that a portion of the subscriptions of these men would be used for purposes of carrying on political agitations and fighting the capitalists. Hundreds of these men object to their funds being used in that way. I find that for a purpose men are deliberately keeping outside of trades unions.
– The honorable and learned senator has said that so often, that he has come to believe it.
– It is impressed upon my attention so often that it cannot be stated here too frequently. At six o’clock this morning I was in one of the .most uptodate shearing-sheds in this State. I asked the “ boss “ how many men working in the shed belonged to the union. He said, “ I do not believe there is one in the union. They do not believe in union methods and in union strife.” When I hear such evidence, do honorable senators think I am going to take their mere statement to the contrary ? There are thousands of working men outside the unions, because they do not believe in their method’s. There is the evidence of some of the first thinkers of the age as to the mischief which unions are doing. Many working men have the good sense to see this for themselves. They read and think, and they have the ability to realize the facts. At the present moment the nonunionists are. in the majority, and the poltical trade unionists are in a hopeless minority. It does not lie in the .mouths of honorable senators opposite to ask for preference, and, when a majority in another place declare that preference shall be granted on certain conditions, to say that they will not pay the price, but keep the advantage they enjoy. I think that the best way out of the difficulty is to adopt the method proposed by Air. Glynn, that trade organizations shall be registered solely for the purposes of this measure. To force men to join unions, and then to use the funds for political purposes in which they do not believe; would be a gross wrong.
Senator GUTHRIE (South AustralianSenator Dobson contends that we should adopt the suggestion made in another branch of the Legislature, and have organizations formed especially for the purpose of carrying out this measure. I will ask the honorable and learned senator to take the case of one union, and say whether it does not cover the whole field of political action in regard to the industry affected. The seamen, firemen, masters, and engineers in our vessels are affected by Acts of Parliament in every direction. The ships in whch they work are built in accordance with regulations laid down by Act of Parliament. The accommodation provided for them on board is prescribed by Act of Parliament. They cannot secure an increase of that accommodation by one inch unless they take political action. The quantity of. food which they shall have is laid down by Act of Parliament. The very water they drink is measured out to them by Act of Parliament.
– Cannot the captain of a ship give them more than the regulation allowance ?
– The Act says that they shall have such and such an amount, and they cannot insure having more, unless they secure an alteration of the Act of Parliament. Thousands of men were sent to a watery grave until political action was taken by the trade unionists in Great Britain, which prevented coffin-ships being sent to sea.
– Were they the old unionists ?
– The unions expended a very large amount of their funds for the purpose of assisting the agitation led by Mr. Plimsoll, for securing that only good ships should be sent to sea.
– The ‘old unions were benefit societies.
– There are benefits connected with nearly all the unions in Australia. The Amalgamated’ Society of Carpenters, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, and most other trade unions confer distinct benefits upon their members. The Seamen’s Union affords its members insurance for loss of clothes and effects in case of shipwreck. The labourers secure by means of their society, insurance in case of accidents happening to them in the course of their work. Nearly all of these unions incidentally engage in political action. Take the position of the sea-going class. They have no hope of bettering their condition in any way, unless they are able to take political action - except in the one matter of wages. From the moment they go on board ship until they obtain their discharge, they are regulated by Act of Parliament. Their engagements are made under an Act of Parliament, and their discharge is given to them by Act of Parliament. The character they receive from the master’ is regulated by Act of Parliament. There is not an individual in Australia favorable to the abolition of strikes, who is not prepared to extend this measure to the sea-going population. As far as I know, the whole of the men engaged in Inter-State shipping, with the exception of the masters, are unionists. They are asked, for the sake of preference, to remain content with the laws under which they work without ever taking any action to amend them.
– Cannot they join a Political Labour League?
– They can, but what will their position be then? Their identity as sea-going men will be entirely lost in the multitude.
– What does that matter ?
– It means that as seamen they cannot bring influence to bear upon the Legislature to secure reforms in the conditions under which they work. Seamen are’ bound by laws which apply to no other individuals in the Commonwealth.
– A good many of the laws are for their own protection.
– Is it for their own protection that they have only 72 cubic feet of space to live in? Is it for their own protection that a miserable allowance of food is doled out to them? Is it for their own protection that they are sent to gaol for an offence which in the case of a landsman would simply mean dismissal from employment?
– Any one would think, to hear the honorable senator, that it is proposed to take votes from the seamen.
– To a large extent they are not able to use the franchise. Not one-third of the men engaged in the Inter-State shipping trade have an opportunity to record their votes, notwithstanding the liberal provision made by the Commonwealth Parliament for absent voters.
– Why have the majority of the unions in New South Wales refused to join the Political Labour League ?
– I am not aware that they have done so.
– By a majority of two, at the last annual meeting, they refused to join.
– I do not know exactly what organization the honorable senator refers to.
– There is a Political Labour League in New South Wales, and for years they have tried to bring in the whole of the unions, but have failed. This year there was a majority of two against joining.
– If the honorabble senator will give me some definite data, I shall be able to answer him.
– They meet annually.
– I know that the Political Labour Leagues meet annually. If the honorable senator will tell me when any meeting of unions in New South Wales decided not to join the league I shall be very thankful. . .
– I make an assertion; I cannot give the exact date.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is mixed up in his facts. Each union in New South Wales, so -far as I know, is organized on its own lines. There are two councils, one called the Trades and Labour Council, which is not political, and to which most of the societies in New South Wales are affiliated, and the second the Political Labour League, upon which most of the societies of New South Wales ‘are represented.
– There was a majority of two against joining.
– I do not know from what source the honorable senator obtained that fact.
– It was published in every newspaper.
– I say that a joint meeting of the trade unions in New South Wales has never been held to determine whether they shall join the Political Labour League or not.
– I am sorry to say that I think the honorable senator is incorrect.
– I feel absolutely satisfied, because the unions decide these matters individually.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will send a telegram to inquire.
– There is no need ; I give the statement a denial. I shall be pleased if Senator Gray will get some information in regard to his assertion. As far as my information goes, I am satisfied that no joint meeting of trade unions in New South Wales has been held for the purpose of considering whether they should join the Political Labour League. I believe that every honorable senator who knows the way the unions are organized will agree with me. Coming back to the point, we are asking the firemen, the officers, the cooks, the stewards, arid the seamen engaged in our coastal trade to give up their political rights in order to secure preference, when it is clear that their life is absolutely bound up in the politics of -the country..
– So is the life of every man.
– The life of every man is not regulated by Act of Parliament. The accommodation provided for him is not prescribed by Act of Parliament. Every man is not placed in the posi- tion that the very thickness of the plates between him and a watery grave is fixed by Act of Parliament.
– Those are provisions intended for their benefit and protection.
– Political action had to be taken to secure them.
– As a general rule, they are not for the protection- of the seaman. The conditions governing his food and accommodation were decided by the Imperial Parliament in the “ forties,” and they have never since been altered. Honorable senators will agree that the conditions under which other workers are employed have been considerably improved since 1840.
– The conditions of seamen have also been improved, and the law is not strictly followed.
– If Senator Playford will look through the evidence which has been given before the Navigation Commission he will find that in some of the latest additions which have been made to the Australian mercantile marine, the Board of Trade .measurements in connexion with the accommodation of seamen have been strictly adhered to.
– Senator Playford could not get into the places provided for seamen.
– The honorable senator has run away from the question of food to the question of lodging.
– So far as the food is concerned, a week’s allowance, according to the scale applicable to seamen, would not be sufficient for the honorable senator for three days.’
– I have seen a good many sailors feeding, and I know that they are exceedingly well provided for.
– The honorable senator refers to liners on which plenty of food is supplied, but I. invite him to consider the case of one of our tramps or one of our deep-water ships. The provisions may have been, put on board when she was leaving some British port, and she may have run round the Horn once or twice without taking in fresh provisions. I should like to sit the honorable senator down to the hard biscuit and pot of coffee supplied to the seamen on such ships,t when the biscuit very nearly walks away by itself. This is in accordance with conditions laid down by Act of Parliament, and yet some honorable senators say to men following this occupation, “You must hold your hand; you must not take any political action to alter those conditions.” If they do, they are to get no preference under this Bill.
– Why should, they get preference as unionists?
– Why should they not? As members of an organization they are to be liable under the Bill to penalties if they strike, whilst the non-unionist is not to be so liable.
– Because he does notstrike.
– He is at liberty to strike, and Senator Playford must be aware that non-unionists do sometimes strike. Apart from the great maritime strike in Australia, the strike which, in my experience, caused the greatest inconvenience was that of the rivet boys on the Clyde. They were absolutely unorganized, but their strike had the effect of leaving every shop in the yards idle. It is possible that non-unionists may strike, and be the cause of very serious inconvenience to the country, but this Bill will not reach them at all. We are prepared, under fair conditions, to register under this Bill, but if honorable senators withhold this preference because of political action on the part of members of trade organizations, I feel certain that none of the maritime trades will register under it. I am aware that there is a provision in the Bill by which the GovernorGeneral can proclaim a union to be an organization under the Bill, but unions will have to be compelled to come under it before they will do so if this right to take political action is taken from them. I hope that honorable senators opposite will see that the position they have taken up is untenable, and will give way.
– Senator Dobson said just now that a trade union should be a union only for trade purposes. It is for that reason that we wish to strike out this proviso. What are trade purposes? Do they cease with merely industrial purposes? Let the honorable and learned senator take any trade he pleases, and he will find that trade purposes are, in many cases, political purposes. The function of the State as an employer is being extended every day, and trade unions must perforce become political organizations even for trade purposes. Take the Shearers’ Union, which will come under this Bill, and honorable senators will admit that it will be affected by political questions, apart altogether from purely party questions, and from the question of the Labour Party versus any other political party. The industry in which shearers are engaged is affected by legislation, and the Shearers’ Union, in order to effectively deal with its trade purposes, must deal with political questions. It must spend its money in connexion with these political questions, and it must pass binding resolutions, for unless it does it will entirely fail to be an effective trade union in the best sense of the term. It is therefore impossible for trade organizations to comply with Senator Dobson’s request, that they should separate trade from political purposes. To do so would be to set back trade organizations for fifty years. It is quite correct to say that trade unions can register under this Bil!, but we have all recognised that without preference to unionists it will be harmful for them to register. Without preference to unionists, this measure would be an instrument of tyranny to them, because it makes it penal for the members of trade organizations to strike. If preference to unionists is taken away from them, the unions registering under this Bill will be placing themselves in the arms of the law without receiving any corresponding benefit.
– Is not thu peaceful settlement of disputes a great benefit ?
– It may, or may not be.
– It is a benefit to the community.
– And to all concerned.
– Is not a settlement by the Court preferable to a settlement by strike ?
– I shall endeavour to answer one question at a time. The peaceful settlement of a dispute might mean loss to the workers; it might mean a reduction in their wages.
– It might also mean a loss to the employers.
– That is so; but what I am pointing out now is that it does not follow that because a dispute is peacefully settled, that will be a gain to the workers. There is an erroneous impression sought to be created that this Bill is being passed in .the interests of the employes because by the peaceful settlement of a dispute bv the Court they will win every time, when, as a matter of fact, they may lose.
– By a peaceful settlement, the employer may also gain ; that is the quid fro quo.
– I have pointed out that without preference to unionists the employes will not gain, because this Bill will give them no protection. It will take away their right to strike, which is the only power they have to hit back, and it will place them in the hands of their employers. The employer, by victimizing his men, will be able to break up their unions, and the workers of the country will be at the mercy of their employers.
– The employers’ unions are giving up the right to lock-out.
– Senator Dobson accused honorable senators on this side of manufacturing evidence to bolster up their case, but the honorable and learned senator does not substantiate his accusation.
– When did I accuse honorable senators opposite of manufacturing evidence?
– The honorable and learned senator made the statement that he had been” to a shearing shed at six o’clock this morning, and learned that the men there did not belong to, and did not desire to join unions.
– I said nothing about the manufacturing of evidence by honorable senators opposite. I referred only to the evidence which is brought under my notice day bv day
– I presume that Senator Dobson visited this shearing shed’ after addressing one of his drawing-room meetings.
– It troubles honorable senators opposite very much that anybody should organize but the Labour Party.
– We are glad to see them organizing.
– The shearers’ employer seems to have made some startling statements to the honorable and learned senator.
– He said that he had not a single shearer employed who was a member of the union. If honorable senators will ask the hairdresser over the way, they will find that he does not belong to a union. If they will ask the men employed by the Port Melbourne Trust, they will find that they do not belong to a union.
– Because of these statements which Senator Dobson hears, the honorable and learned senator thinks that the remarks which ‘ we make as to the anxiety of the workers to belong to unions are only so much nonsense. I can give Senator Dobson a sample of the way in which evidence is manufactured by persons belonging to the side which he supports. In the Age of 18th October last, I find the following paragraph : -
An interesting communication from the South Australia Chamber of Manufactures was received at a meeting of the Victorian chamber last night. It announced that members of the Select Committee appointed by the Legislative Council to inquire into the effect of the Wages Boards upon industries would arrived in Melbourne on Thursday next to take evidence in regard to the working of the Wages Boards in Victoria, and went on to state that the South Australian Chamber relied upon the Victorian manufacturers “ to bring the strongest evidence possible before the Committee as to the bad effect of the boards.”
Senator Dobson is not able to bring forward proof of anything of that kind having been done by honorable senators .on this side.
– Do not honorable senators opposite do the same thing? Do they not bring the strongest evidence they can get in support of their case?
– We do not ask people to consider only the bad effects of a system. I point out to Senator Gray that these gentlemen did not desire to know the effects of the Wages Boards legislation, but desired only the strongest possible evidence as to the bad effects of that legislation. Political questions like trade questions are manifold. 1 remind honorable senators that paragraph d of clause 60 provides that if it appears to the Registrar -
That the rules of a registered organization or their administration do not provide reasonable facilities for the admission of new members or impose unreasonable conditions upon the continuance of their membership, or are in any way tyrannical or oppressive - he can cancel the registration of that organization. What would be an oppressive or tyrannical rule? If a union, for instance, endeavoured to compel a minority of any of its members to do something political, to which they were opposed, I have no doubt that that would, in the opinion of the Registrar, be considered tyrannical and oppressive. I ask the attention of honorable senators to what took place in New South Wales, where there is no such provision as this. The Australian Workers’ Union attempted to compel its members to take certain political action, and a rival shearers’ union brought an objection before the Court on that ground. There was no provision in the New South Wales Act such as there is in this measure; but what did the Judge do ? He immediately ordered that the rules should be altered, or, at any rate, he refused to register the Australian Workers’ Union until that step had been taken. This shows that non-unionists who are induced to join unions are fully safeguarded in their political rights. Provision is made in this Bill for appeal against any such rule, which would, I freely admit, be tyrannical and oppressive.
– What objection can there be to state what you say is implied?
– Because a trade union which is neglectful or impotent on the political side is only half a trade union. A great part of the reason for its existence is political. There are a thousand and one matters, apart from party politics, which have a political aspect.
– It is the application of the funds to political purposes which is objected to.
– It is more than that.
– That is the main point.
– Not only must the rules not be of a political character, but no resolutions of a political character binding on the members must be passed. Honorable senators ought to realize that in New South Wales, without a provision of this kind, it has been possible to safeguard unionists in their political rights. The Bill provides not only that trade unions must not support a Labour Party, or any other party, but must not take any political action whatever. Senator Guthrie gave a splendid illustration of one union which must be wholly political in its character, although not necessarily party political. The question of accommodation for seamen is of general concern. There are many politicians who would assist in such a case besides members of the Labour Party. Is it to be said that, in order to prevent the Seamen’s Union taking part in party politics, they must also be prevented from passing resolutions on political questions which, as has been pointed out, affect their life and well-being ? Such questions are not questions of party politics. Honorable senators who give their adhesion to the clause do so because they look at the party political aspect of it only, and have no regard to the other political questions which affect certain trades. I have been a trade unionist for many years, and was one in the days of the old unionism, before the political Labour Party. At that time I was only a youth, but I remember I was in a union which prohibited political discussion by its rules. Yet there was scarcely a meeting at which we were not forced in some way or other to discuss political matters.
– Such as employers’ liability.
– What was the case in connexion with that matter ? The unions had to finance their members in order to recover damages, and were therefore interested in getting a workable measure. We took political action, not as units of the Labour Party, but because we were acting in the interests of the particular trade, and our unions were formed for that purpose. We might just as well insert a clause which’ would prevent a trade union taking any friendly society action. On the same line of argument as that adopted’ by honorable senators opposite. I could say that the Bill is not for the purpose of providing sick and accident benefits, and ask why men should be compelled to- enter unions which have those as one of their objects. Such men may be in other friendly societies, and I might ask why they should be compelled to enter other organizations which have a similar aim. That argument is on all-fours with the argument used on the other side.
– Not quite on all fours; one leg is the same.
– It is said that there are Political Labour Leagues which trade unionists can join, and to that I retort that there are other friendly societies. If the Bill dees not recognise action on political lines, neither- does it recognise action on friendly society lines. In fact, every argument which has been advanced against political action can be used against friendly society action. While it is proposed to put a political ban on unions, nothing of the kind is attempted, nor could it be carried out, in the case of the employers. The Shearers’ Union, for instance, if its members asked for preference in order to carry out the objects of the Bill, would be told, “ Very well ; Ave will give you preference, but you must cut yourself off from all political action.” But the employer could proceed with his Pastoralists’ Union, and pay the expenses of his Walpoles and his Sievwrights, and his organization would not be in the slightest degree interfered with. The man who uses his pennies, where the employer uses his pounds- the man who has no press at his back - is told, if he wishes to take advantage of this legislation, that he must give up the most valuable part of the trade union organization.
– What about the 8,000 men who have left the Shearers’ Union during the last twelve months?
– I am afraid the honorable senator has been “ left.”
– The printed list I gave showed that 8,000 men had left the union in twelve months.
– On Friday last I submitted a list of figures, which I ask the honorable and learned senator to digest. That list showed that the members of unions had increased by 6,000 in Western Australia, which pretty well makes up. the deficit.
– But the honorable senator instanced the Shearers’ Union.
– The Shearers’ Union has suffered from the fact that, whereas a few years ago there were. 60,000,000 sheep, there are to-day only 30,000,000, so that it does not require half the men to shear. I urge the Senate to strike out this provision. On the face of it, I admit that it looks reasonable to propose that if by preference an inducement is held out to non-unionists to join, unions, they ought not to be coerced on political grounds. But under sub-clause d of clause 60, non-unionists who become unionists are protected; ‘and if any of the rules are oppressive or ‘tyrannical, ‘an application may be made to have them annulled. While this clause is inserted for party purposes and because of a fear that the unions will use their power in party politics, it must not be forgotten that the great bulk of their political work is not of a party character, but is political purely inthe interests of industry. The instance quoted by Senator Guthrie showed that the political work was of a high technicalcharacter, with which none but members of the trade could effectually deal. How could the Shearers’ Union, or even a joint organization, deal with such questions as Senator Guthrie laid before us? Such work is for a Seamen’s Union, or an Officer’s Union, the members of which know all the facts, and can bring influence to bear on Members of Parliament and on public opinion through the press, quite apart from party politics. If in order to get preference a union has to cripple its usefulness in one direction, I have no doubt that it will, as has been intimated, say, “ Keep your Bill and its benefits; we prefer our political liberty in order to safeguard the interests of our trade, both on its industrial and on its political side, as in the past.’.’
– This part of clause 55 was evidently inserted as an afterthought in another place. If the unities were to be preserved, such a provision should ha-ve been inserted in clause 40, which deals with preference, instead of in a clause which deals with registered organization. This provision was not in the Bill as introduced by the Deakin Government. That was the Bill which was before the country at the last general election ; and it is strange to find that honorable senators who were enthusiastically in favour of the measure then are now supporting this afterthought, which was doubtless inserted with a specific object. There is no question as to what that object was. It was a blow at the Labour Party, which represents a vast number of electors in both Houses - it was aimed at that large section who sent the Labour Party to Parliament. I heartily agree with the contention of Senators Guthrie and Pearce, that it is absolutely impossible for unions to carry on without reference to political action of some sort, i had the honour to be connected with a union for a very considerable time, and we had to discuss political matters altogether apart from party politics. Although the rules of the old Australian Miners’ Association absolutely prohibited the discussion of political matters, or the taking of sides in politics, we found, as members, that we were forced by the exigencies of our calling, and the desire to improve our conditions, to take part in political discussions
– And to take political action in some cases.
– - Yes, undoubtedly. I was connected with the Miners’ Union in Queensland for over twenty years, and we were continually trying to get amendments of the Mining Regulations, in order to insure proper conditions - proper safeguards from needless risk, proper inspection of machinery and winding gear, and reforms of that sort - to insure also that engine-drivers ‘ should be properly certificated before they - were allowed to take charge of winding engines, so that men should not needlessly risk their lives. We had to take very considerable political action in trying to bring all these questions forward. By political action we have gained a very considerable number of the safeguards that we require, and we hope to gain a great many more in the future. We desired to have a Workmen’s Compensation Act on lines similar to the Imperial Act, so that when a miner or other worker unfortunately lost his life through pursuing his avocation, his widow and children should not be left destitute. All these questions are entirely apart from party politics. We have found men of various parties advocating our ideas on many occasions. We could not induce a Government to take up the Workmen’s Compensation Bill, and, therefore, it had to be introduced by a private member. I ask the Attorney-General whether any member can introduce a private Bill without incurring some expense? It is absolutely impossible. Who has to bear the expense? Is it to be borne by the organized workers who desire the legislation to be passed, or by the unorganized workers? In all these matters the organized workers are fighting the battle of the unorganized workers just as much as their own battle. And yet it is proposed by this Bill to penalize organized workers. For years they have taxed themselves to improve the condition of every individual engaged in a calling by political as well as industrial action. And it is said that because, being organized, they continue to pursue this policy they shall not be allowed to enjoy any of the benefits of this Bill. Senator Dobson, and other honorable senators on his side, seem to be very much troubled about what constitutes the difference between old unionism and new unionism. If my throat were not so hoarse I should be happy to explain the difference at considerable length. ‘ Old unionism may be shortly explained. In the times past, not so very long ago, the workers saw that they were suffering certain hardships. They led a very laborious life under pretty bad conditions. They did not think they were receiving proper remuneration, or ought to be worked for so many hours. They did not think that children should be forced to work at a very tender age. In many other directions they saw what they deemed to be hardships, and they said, “ We shall combine to try to improve our condition. Every time we see an attempt being made to impose unnecessary hardships upon us, we shall fight it. When an employer wants us to work for too low wages, we shall, if necessary, go out on strike, and try to compel him to pay us a more equitable rate. If he asks us. to work too long, or to work under either unfair or unjust conditions, we shall go out on strike.” That was the sole method of action employed at that time. In their own way, but without understanding the cause at the time, they could see “they were suffering certain hardships which they should not be called upon to endure, and they decided to fight in their own interests. They were suffering from a disease with very objectionable symptoms, namely, low wages, long hours, and bad conditions of work generally. Old unionists immediately started to fight these bad conditions’. They were continually trying to remove or alter the symptoms. They met with a very considerable amount of success, but they never tackled the cause, and consequently the symptoms always had a tendency to re-appear, and they had to be fought as often as they reappeared. The new unionists recognise that when they remove the cause the disease will disappear. They wish to do in the industrial world exactly what a skilful physician does in the medical world. The new unionism means to discover and to destroy the cause of the disease, and when the disease disappears, there will be no symptoms to bother them. It recognises the cause of the disease which is continually manifesting itself . in all conditions of labour in unequal distribution of wealth, low wages, and long hours, and’ all the other hardships incidental to the life of labouring people. It recognises that the cause of the disease is unjust laws and unequal social conditions. And in order to remove that cause it has found that it is absolutely necessary to get political representation. ‘ That is’ where the difference between the new- unionism and the old unionism comes in. Which is most likely to be successful - the one which dealt with the symptoms, or the one which proposes to discover and remove the cause of the , disease ? The proviso with which we are dealing was inserted in the Bill in another place as a direct attack on new unionism. It was proposed and supported with the avowed idea of trying to stem the tide of reform by penalizing the workers who dare to take part in any political movement. Honorable senators opposite might as well try to stem the tide with, a broom, because the more disabilities they impose upon the people, the more they try to entrench privilege in an impregnable fortress where it cannot be assailed, the more they will arouse the enthusiasm of the people, until they will sweep away the tyrannical codes of laws, unjust privileges, and unequal social conditions that have been the causes of the industrial evils which have been the curse of civilization up to the present time. I have proved, I think, to the satisfaction of any person who is not biased altogether, that, apart from party politics, it is necessary for at least some unions - and I contend for all unions - to take some sort of political action, and to expend their funds in drafting Bills which they can see to be for their benefit, such as Workmen’s Compensation Bills, Mines Regulation Bills, and other measures of that kind. Senator Guthrie has instanced a case in which it was absolutely necessary for the Seamen’s Union to use its funds in that way. Yet we are told that if the members of a union do these things, from which non-unionists will also benefit, they shall be deprived of the beneficent effects of this measure. It is a monstrous act to penalize men for trying to better the conditions of not only themselves, but every man who is labouring in the same calling. Unionists are not selfish, and I think it is generally recognised now that the non-unionists have shared in every advantage which has been gained by unionists, often at a great sacrifice, and often at considerable cost. It is proposed, however, by retaining this proviso, to penalize the men who fight for themselves and nonunionists. How any honorable senator who supported the Deakin Administration can vote in favour of that provision I do not know. Let us give a preference to unionists, and leave them untrammelled to work out their industrial salvation in their own way. I do not think we should. As Senator Pearce has pointed out, clause 60 contains ample safeguards to secure that the doors of the unions shall be thrown wide open to every person who chooses to join. It gives the Court ample power to say whether a rule is tyrannical, unjust, or unfair, and, if so, to compel the union either to alter the rule or to forego all the benefits of the Act. If a further safeguard in that direction be necessary, I am prepared to vote for it. It would be unjust and unfair to penalize every union by saying that it must confine itself to that which has proved to be the less effective line of action, and to give up its most effective weapon. I would almost as soon see the Bill thrown under the table as have one of its best provisions nullified in that way.
- Senator Dobson has said that this proviso is the price which the unions are asked to pay for the provision for preference. In my opinion, the unions are not prepared to pay this price, either for preference or for the Bill. The unions I know best have not only industrial aims but also political aims. No organization that I am acquainted with in Queensland confines its attention to purely industrial matters. This proviso would prevent the organization of the men in the back country. The men who are organizing in the back country are paid from the funds of the organization for organizing industrially, and, at the same time, practically without any increased remuneration, they organize politically.
– They put men on the rolls if they get a chance.
– Yes, they look after the rolls wherever they can. They endeavour to induce men to takean interest in politics. That Act would effectually debar any of these organizations from getting preference if they applied to the Court for an award. It has been said that the object of the Convention was to empower the Federal Parliament to deal with two classes of industry - the seamen and the shearers. I feel satisfied that these organizations would not register under the Act if it contained this provision, because it would destroy their usefulness from one end of the country to the other. There have been times in Queensland when industrial organizations have lent their funds for political purposes. The political organizations - which are separate from the industrial organizations - have not had funds at their command in contesting elections. They have applied to the industrial organizations for loans. Notice has been given to the members of the industrial organizations, they have had special meetings, have voted the money, the loans have been repaid by the political organizations, and no harm has been done. But under this measure industrial organizations, the whole of whose members might be connected with political organizations, would not be able to advance money for such a purpose if they were working under a preference award. What is meant bypolitics? Is this provision confined to Federal politics? Does it mean that men connected with organizations which are working under a preference award are simply prevented from taking part in agitations for Federal legislation, or is it meant that they shall not take part in State politics or in matters connected with local government ? All matters connected with the divisional board, the municipal council, the shire council, the local Parliament, or the Federal Parliament are political. Are we endeavouring to prevent these organizations from taking any part in the politics of their country, whether Federal, State, or municipal? Every one who is acquainted with the back country in Queensland is aware that the strongest union at one time - it is not so strong now - was the Carriers’ Union, in the western portion of the State. The carriers used to iravel hundreds of miles with goods, and to bring back loading to the towns. Their organization was interested in getting good roads, good crossings, good bridges, and everything that would enable them to travel as quickly as possible. The Carriers’ Union used its influence upon the members of the divisional boards, with the idea of obtaining better facilities for travelling. In many instances they used their organization for the purpose of getting members of their own body elected to the divisional boards. Under this Bill they would be absolutely prohibited from endeavouring to improve their position by seeing that good roads and other means of transportation were provided in the country districts. If they did they would be shut out from the benefit of any award of the Arbitration Court, because the measure says that an industrial organization shall not take part in politics. No one will deny that to take part in local government is to take part in politics ; but in many respects the affairs of local government are far more important than anything that can be done by this Parliament. Senator Walker knows that when he was in Queensland, many, of these carriers had hundreds of pounds invested in teams and waggons. Some of them drove their own teams, and were what the honorable senator would term men of substance and of capital. Yet they would be debarred from coming to the Arbitration Court with the object of getting an award, because they interested themselves in local government affairs.
– They could get the award all the same.
– They could not get preference. Why should they be debarred from taking part in such work ? Do honorable senators look upon it as atrocious for a man to endeavour to improve roads, crossings, bridges, and other facilities of transport?
– Of course not.
– If the honorable senator votes for the retention of these words in the Bill he will be penalizing these men who, by taking part in politics, are endeavouring to improve the conditions under which they carry on their industry. Let us come to other cases. The Bill already provides that agricultural labourers shall be affected by the decisions of the Arbitration Court. It may be said that the measure will not affect the farming community to any great- extent. But let me show that it will do so. The farmers will have to organize with the object of being registered under the Bill, because, unless they are organized by proclamation, there will be no other means of putting their side of the question before the Court. when a dispute takes place. In Queensland the farmers’ organizations have been endeavouring to induce the Government to take some action to assist them in connexion with their produce. They have asked for coolstorage, for cheap freights on the railways, and so-forth. Only the other day in Queensland the citron-growers appealed to the Government to give them assistance to find markets for their produce. There was an overplus of citrus fruits in Queensland, and in consequence of their action, a quantity was sent to London. I am sorry to say that the shipment was not a success ; but at the same time these men had to carry on an agitation “Before they could get the Agricultural Department to take any hand in exporting the fruit, grading it, and packing it, with the object of placing it upon the London market to advantage. They have to form organizations under this measure. If they do not, they will be organized by proclamation. They will be absolutely debarred from using their organization with the object of procuring’ facilities from the State Agricultural Department. Let me ask Senator Mulcahy whether the fruit-growers of Tasmania do not ask the Government to give them as- istance with the object of placing their fruit upon the London market to advantage? Yet, under this Bill, if the words objected to are allowed to remain, they will be debarred from using their organization with the object of bringing pressure to bear upon the Agricultural Department of the State. It is not all “ beer and skittles “ with men who are growing produce, and they are not situated as favourably as are persons who reside in the cities in respect to holding meetings, and making known their views.
– They cannot come under this measure.
– They can come under it. Under clause 4 they would have to come under it in the event of a dispute occurring with the agricultural labourers.
– The class referred to in Tasmania rarely employ labourers.
– Wherever men carry on farming operations, and employ labour, their organizations will be debarred from any political action if ever they come before the Arbitration Court and ask for an award. Indeed, the clause would penalize the very men whom honorable senators are endeavouring to protect. In Queensland at the present time there is an agitation for an extension of the franchise. The people there have not the same franchise as prevails in Victoria and New South Wales.. They desire to secure adult suffrage. A measure to that effect was lately introduced in the State Parliament, and was rejected. The newspapers of Queensland show that the industrial organizations are principally concerned in carrying on the agitation for electoral reform. In many of the back country towns meetings are being called at the instance of the industrial organizations whose centres are in those places. The men who are engaged in these agitations would absolutely refuse to register under this measure, because they would not be able to carry on the agitation for the franchise if they did. Again, in Queensland, we have not yet been able to get anything like a fair Workmen’s Compensation Act. It has to be agitated for. Years ago an Employers Liability Act was passed, after a number of years of agitation, but it has proved to be one of the greatest failures that was ever placed upon the statute-book. I wish to know whether honorable senators are prepared to say that men engaged in the shipping industry on the coast, and men working in flour, timber, and sugar mills, if they are members of trade organizations, shall not carry on an agitation with the object of securing compensation for injuries arising from accidents? This provision woul’d prevent members of ‘these organizations from carrying on an agitation to secure the legislation in this direction, for which they have been asking for years, not from the Federal Parliament but from the States Parliaments. I am sure that the majority of honorable senators approve of legislation in this direction, and there is no member of this Senate who will say that -he is prepared to take away from men who are members of industrial organizations in. Queensland the right to agitate for it. This is one of the very worst provisions that could have been suggested. When I return to Queensland I shall advise the members of every industrial organization to have absolutely nothing to do with this Bill if this clause is passed as it now stands. Trade organizations in Queensland have been agitating as industrial and political organizations for a number of years in the interests of the community in which they live, and yet, if this clause is passed, in the event of their desiring to refer a dispute to the Arbitration Court, they will not be allowed preference because of the action they have taken. I have given the instance of the Carriers’ Association. There is no member of the Senate who will contend that those men should, be condemned for the work they have done, and are still prepared to do in securing good roads, which mean decent transport and cheap freights, so far as the back country is concerned. Yet, under this clause, the members of the Carriers’ Association would be penalized, if, being registered under this Bill, they required to appeal to the Arbitration Court. I may refer to some of the work which trade organizations in Queensland have been doing. They have been agitating for some time for an amended Mines Regulation Act. Improved local mining regulations are of more importance to the miners of Queensland than is any benefit they are likely to receive under this Bill. Do honorable senators imagine that they will give up their right to agitate for legislation for the preservation of their lives, in order to come under a measure of this description? No member of the Senate, if he were a miner in Queensland, would give up his right to agitate for equitable local legislation for his own protection, in order that the organization to which he belonged might be registered under this Bill. We are looking for a Wages Protection Act and a Lien Act in Queensland. Such legislation has been passed in some of the other States, and will honorable senators say that industrial organizations in Queensland, that have been working for some time to secure this legislation, will be likely to give up their right to carry on that agitation, by returning men to the local Parliament, by holding meetings and getting up petitions in its favour, in order that they may come under this measure? The conduct of these political agitations involves the expenditure of money which has to be found by the organizations in Queensland, and honorable senators will not contend that the organizations which have carried on this work for years, will give up their right to do so to secure the benefits which they might derive under this Bill. The probability is that they would not be likely to appeal to the Arbitration Court for any relief under this Bill for a very long time, and when they did, if this clause were passed as it now stands, they would find that they would be denied preference in any award that might be given. Of what use would a Bill like this be to shop assistants in Queensland who are seeking for amended factories and shops legislation from the State Parliament, when they are not to be given any protection under it unless they give up the whole of their agitation for the improvement of their local conditions ? The suggestion that they should come under this Bill in its present form is monstrous. I am satisfied from my knowledge of industrial organizations in Queensland, that they are prepared to sacrifice any benefit which they might receive as the result of Federal legislation to secure the legislation for which they have been asking from the State Parliament. People in the backcountry districts of Queensland are asking the State Parliament for assistance for artesian boring, for water conservation, and irrigation. This d’emand is not confined to workers’ organizations. Almost every person in the country districts demands that the State Legislature shall do something in this direction, but at the back of the general public the men who are doing the whole of the work of agitation are the members of the industrial organizations, who are able to raise the money for the time being for advertising, to secure halls for meetings, and generally to carry on the agitation. These men are working in the best interests of the country. Honorable senators will contend that it is the duty of settlers to carry out irrigation, but by insisting that this clauseshall be passed as it stands, they are condemning the action of the men who are the back-bone of the movement intended to carry water conservation and irrigation to a successful issue. Some honorable senators run away with the idea that it is only the men who work in the shearing-sheds who take out Shearers’ Union tickets. But I am able to inform them, and my statement can be borne out by Senator Drake, who has lived in Western Queensland, that: the majority of the business men in the west take out their tickets in the Shearers’ Union every year as regularly as do the men working on the shearing-boards. These men are as much interested in fair wages being secured under the Arbitration Bill as are the men working in the sheds, and yet they are to be used practically to penalize the shearers’ organization, in the event of its having to appeal for an award to the Court. If the provision applied only to Federal politics, there might be some force in the contention put forward by the Attorney-General on behalf of the Government, but it is not confined to Federal politics ; it takes in all State politics as well.
– We cannot tell where it ends.
– It ends nowhere. When we were discussing the inclusion of agriculturists, I pointed out the difficulty of drawing any dividing line, and in just the same way, it is impossible to draw a dividing-line in this matter. It covers all State politics, as well as Federal politics, and, if passed, it will prevent the organized Labour Party from taking part in any movement affecting the well-being of the community.
– It will cover action taken by municipalities and divisional board’s.
– That is the strong point. Wherever local government is established the members of Municipal Councils, Divisional Boards, and Shire Councils have been carrying on a strong agitation for local improvements, and yet under this provision industrial organizations will be unable to render them any assistance. They will be unable to contribute from their funds, and their secretaries will be prevented from working with a local authority to secure improvement in roads, bridges, and the conservation of water. The one thing which is required more than am other on roads in the back country is the establishment of water tanks, for which Divisional Boards are responsible. They have to see that provision is made for securing water for travelling stock along the stock routes. A team of bullocks is travelled twelve miles in a day, and if water is not provided at proper intervals along the road the men in charge of it are put to very great inconvenience. I have known men in charge of a team start out at sundown, and1 travel on until sunrise next morning. The bullocks are given a drink before they start, and next morning they are unyoked and driven back to the water. They are given another drink, driven back to the drays, and are then yoked up again, and travelled on to the next water. Under such conditions, the men are practically killing their stock, and they are, themselves, required to work in a very exhausting way, to say the least of it. Yet the men who carry on the agitation to secure the establishment of tanks along stock routes are the very men whom we are asked to penalize by passing this provision, because they belong to an industrial organization, which might at some time or another have to appeal to the Arbitration Court. This is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the Bill. I should like the Attorney-General to say whether, in his opinion, the definition of “ political “ stops at the Federal application, or whether it includes not only State politics, but Municipal and Divisional Board politics. The men to whom I have referred are spending their best years, and practically giving their lives in some cases, as well as using their capital, in opening up the country, and making it possible for it to carry a large population. Does the Attorney-General think it fair to penalize them because they happen to belong to an organization which may at some time have to apply for an award under the Bill ? When honorable senators see how farreaching this clause may be, they will not blame the Labour Party for the action they are now taking. If this clause be passed, I should prefer to go to the organizations, and advise them not to register, because the penalty they will suffer, or the price they will pay, as Senator Dobson would put it, is a great deal more than the benefit which they will derive from the legislation.
– The position put forward several times in the course of the debate indicates a misconception of the very purpose of the Bill. The object is not so much to confer direct benefit, as to prevent mischievous consequences by providing a means for the settlement of industrial disputes according to the words of the Constitution. Senator Pearce, in particular, seems to think that the industrial organizations are to be called upon to make some particular sacrifice.
– So they are.
– I do not think so. The Bill provides machinery devised bv the framers with great care, and adopted after considerable debate, in order to prevent what is rightly admitted to be a. mischief.
– The framers of the Bill did not insert this proviso.
– It was inserted with the approval of Mr. Watson.
– Mr. Watson expressly accepted it.
– It does not matter who inserted the proviso ; the question is whether the industrial organizations are to be called upon to make any sacrifice without receiving compensating advantage. Machinery is provided to prevent organizations doing something which is mischievous to both sides alike. A Court is provided, to which the men, along with the employers, may resort, with the further advantage that one side can compel the other to go to the Court. Where is the great sacrifice by the unionists ? The arguments of the labour representatives on this particular clause would make it appear that they could not get the benefit of an award made by the Court. But whatever the Court decrees will apply to labour organizations as well as to others. If an impartial audience not fully versed in the details of the Bill were present they might come to the conclusion that something was being taken away from the organizations. As a fact we have by one clause conferred: an advantage on members of organizations over and above that conferred on working men who are not members of organizations ; but we draw the line, and say this special preference shall not be associated with political associations.
– We do not wish a man to be compelled to surrender his political opinion.
– I acknowledge there are difficulties. The object of the clause is to enable registration for the purposes of the Bill, with the proviso that no organization shall be entitled to preference so long as its rules permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
– Define “ political purposes.”
– The Court will do that.
– The definition of “ political purposes “ is, I admit, one of the difficulties, but the only deprivation made by the clause is that of the right of special privilege, and I have voted against special privilege all through, because I do not believe in discrimination. Had I been here on Friday, I should have supported Senator Macfarlane’s amendment.
– Does the honorable senator mean that a man should be debarred from taking part in local government?
– The honorable senator is, unintentionally, I am sure, somewhat unfair. We should not try to prevent organizations taking political action. It is beneficial to the public that organizations, although they sometimes make mistakes, should take political action; but we should not confer special privileges on them.
- Senator Mulcahy has presented no argument in support of the clause, except that he is opposed to the granting of preference to unionists. But the Senate having decided that preference shall be granted, are we to submit to that advantage being taken away by the retention of the clause?
– The clause does not take away preference.
-Senator Mulcahy argued that he was opposed to preference, and therefore was in favour of this clause because it would deprive unionists of preference.
– That is not so.
– I cannot think of any organization which has not political objects. Churches, friendly societies, clubs, employers’ unions, temperance societies, and every society I can think of, have political objects which, from their point of view, are laudable, and the whole of them of public benefit, from the fact that they lead to the discussion and ventilation of important questions. I remember that at the last general election, in which I had the honour to be an actor, the Employers’ Union went to the expense of placarding every railway station in Victoria with their list of candidates. And they were quite justified in doing so. If they had happened to be right - which they were not - was it not extremely desirable, in the interests of the whole community, that the people should have that guidance? This Bill removes one remedy which the unionists have.
– And which the employers have not.
– And which the employers have also. The Bill removes from the unionists the right to strike and from the employers the right to lock-out - most desirable in both instances.
– A great reward.
– It is admittedly a great reward for the whole community. But if the disadvantage more than outweighs the advantage, we do not a good but an injury. I have all my manhood been associated with some form of industrial’ organization. I have been associated with friendly societies and social organizations, and I do not remember one which, at some time or other, has not found it necessary, in the interests of the community, to spend . some of its money on what may be described as political objects. I should see no objection, speaking for myself, to a proposal that no organization should have preference which entailed on its members the obligation to vote in. a particular direction.
– What is the good of an organization if the members do not vote as the organization directs? That is what is wanted, and properly so.
– That is what the employers want.
– I know that the Attorney-General is a member of some organization.
– Indeed, I am not.
– What about the Law Society ?
– Oh, I see !
– I do not think that the Law Society is an organization in an ordinary sense, seeing that it is provided for by law. But an organization, the members of which always vote one way, would be of very little use in my opinion, because discussion would necessarily be shut out. What is argued against the omission of this clause is that the political freedom might ‘be ‘used as an instrument of tyranny to coerce working men into voting’ against their inclinations - that it might be used as a means to compel them to join organizations ‘ which would force them ‘to vote against their convictions. I have no fear of that result, but if “there is that fear, I see no objection to words being inserted to remove it. But the clause is so sweeping in its character and so wide in its application that it. will be impossible for an organization to have preference if it remains in the Bill. Having voted for preference to unionists under certain conditions, and having taken some trouble to show the necessity for preference in order to protect unions, I am bound to vote to strike out this very far-reaching, indefinite proposal to exclude any organization which permitted any of its funds to be used for political purposes.
– So far as I can see if this provision were carried it would practically mean that the Bill would be a dead-letter.
– Why should it be when the object is to stop strikes and locks-out, and to adjust differences ?
– I do not know whether the Attorney-General has been listening to the various speeches, but if he has, I cannot understand how he has failed to be convinced of the truth of what I am stating. This provision is of a most surprising character. It is more worthy of a Parliament which existed three hundred or four hundred years ago than of a Parliament elected by the manhood anr! womanhood of Australia. I do not know who the ingenious person was who invented the provision, but it seems to me that hewas actuated by motives of the most malignant character.
– That is rather hard on Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Groom.
– It does not matter to me who the gentlemen were.
– They may not have perceived the effect of the proviso.
– Hatred of the measure, a desire to maim it, and render it practically inoperative must have been at the foundation of this provision.
– Is it not the principal object of the Bill to secure the peaceful settlement of disputes?
– The honorable senator imagines that we cannot see through the little scheme of our opponents. They tell us that they are all in favour of conciliation and arbitration, unions and organizations, and all the rest of it. They say, “ Public opinion is in favour of these things, therefore we must appear to go with the times, but while professing to favour arbitration, we shall be very careful to see that such provisions are inserted as will render the ‘Act nugatory.” We are asked to agree to a provision that if the members of organizations take any part iri politics, they shall not get a preference as unionists. Our contention is that if there were no preference there would be no organization, and that therefore the Act would be a dead-letter. No one would dream of coming under its operation. No doubt that is the position which the opponents of the Bill desire to attain. They do not wish this measure to become an active ,force in the public life of the Commonwealth.
They dare not oppose it openly, but they come along with the mask of the conspirator, and the dagger of the assassin.
– We admit that we are in favour of voluntary conciliation.
– The honorable senator gives away the whole case. He is obliged to swallow compulsory arbitration, but he says, “ Compulsory arbitration is the bane, but this provision which we have inserted, and propose to retain, will be the antidote,” I should just as soon see the Bill burned by the common hangman in the market-place as see it placed on the statute-book containing a provision of that character.. I do not know whether honorable senators have considered what it means. It says that if any union takes part in politics its members shall not be entitled to a preference. I wish to hear something from the other side on this question. How is it possible for any number of men to band themselves together for industrial purposes, and refrain from taking part in politics? How can they divorce the one question from the other? It cannot be done, ‘because the two questions are one and indivisible. Senators Guthrie, Givens, and Turley have proved so exhaustively that the one thing cannot be divorced from the other that any unprejudiced man must be bound to be convinced, and the only conclusion I can come to is that honorable senators who vote for this provision are the veiled enemies of conciliation and arbitration. I do not wish to go over the same ground as has been covered by other speakers, but I should like to refer honorable senators to a few matters. Take, for instance, the Miners’ Union, how can it possibly differentiate between industrial matters and political matters? The intention of the framers of the Bill appears to me to be to prevent the members of unions taking any share in party politics. But there are a hundred questions of a political character which may come before a union, and which have no reference to party politics. Take the question of the better ventilation of mines. In Victoria ‘a large ;number of men are dying from a disease called miners’ consumption. It is brought on by bad ventilation in the mines and bad explosives. Suppose that at a union meeting the miners were to discuss this question,, and it were proposed to ask the Government to bring in a Bill to provide for better ventilation, and other matters in connexion with the management of mines, they would immediately bring themselves under this provision. If this proviso were retained it would be impossible for the miners to reap any benefits from the Act, and it would not be worth the paper it was printed on. Again, how many questions in connexion with seamen are of a political character, and yet have no relation to party politics? Take the Plimsoll line, the manning of vessels with trained seamen, and a number of other questions with regard to the mercantile marine which come under the purview of Parliament. Seamen, if members of a union, could not take the slightest cognisance of these questions if they desired to secure the benefits of the Arbitration Act. Again, all the men in our industries are interested in the question of land monopoly. That is a question which I believe operates more effectively for the good or ill of the community than any other. Yet if the members of a union were to express a desire to break up, say, a land or other monopoly, or a combine, they would immediately come under, this provision, and be precluded from enjoying the benefits of the Act. Suppose that a number of factory operatives were to come to the conclusion that hard times and low wages were produced by a Tariff which was not sufficiently protective, and to start an agitation for the purpose of increasing the duties, they would be precluded from taking advantage of this legislation.’ The whole provision appears to me to be a cunningly devised .scheme- for plucking the heart out of the measure.
– Under the Constitution we have a right to be a political party, but under this Bill we have no such right.
– No. This provision appears to me to be one of the most narrow-minded, meanest, most despicable, most politically sectarian provisions I have ever come across. It is unworthy of this Parliament. I do not know who the ingenious, Machiavellian person was who originated it, but whoever he was he was either very stupid or very malignant. If those who are in favour of the provision have not been convinced by the arguments of previous speakers, and the measure be passed as it stands, the only thing which its’ opponents can do will be to advise the men engaged in the various industries not to register.
– We shall find a means of getting round the provision.
– It might be done, but it would be extremely difficult, I think. Let’ us have a straight-out method or none at all. I am convinced that an appeal to the constituencies will ultimately result in cur getting what we desire. This appears to me to be an attempt to interfere with the liberty of the subject - to go back to the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Honorable senators might almost as well insert a provision compelling the members of industrial organizations, if they desired to get the benefits of the Act, to attend a particular church, or to belong to a particular friendly society, or to wear a boxer hat, or a particular kind of clothing. It is one of the most tyrannically inclined provisions I have met with for a very long time indeed. I hope the good sense of the Senate will see that the words are eliminated from the Bill. Every one who has given the matter serious consideration, has come to the conclusion lhat they are a blot upon the Bill, an attack upon the liberties of the people of this country, and an attempt to do something which, in the very nature of things, cannot be accomplished - to separate industrial matters from political matters. The two things are one. Conditions of labour, wages, hours of labour, sanitary conditions, everything and1 anything that can be mentioned in connexion with our industries is within the region of politics. It is not possible to draw a line. If a case should come before the High Court, it is quite possible that it might be decided that a union that has any connexion with politics could not get preference; arid as has been pointed out already, without preference the organizations will not register. Men are not going to be so foolish as to band themselves together if there is no preference for their organization. If there were no organizations, the Bill would be a dead-letter ; and probably that is what the supporters of this proviso desire. I shall vote for the amendment, and hope that this iniquitous proviso will be omitted.
– I should not have troubled the Senate had it not been that I am dissatisfied with the answer to a question which I put to the Attorney-General earlier in the evening. The honorable and learned senator and his supporters directed their arguments to matters that are wide apart from the provision under consideration. Even Senator Symon failed to give any substantial reason why such a provision should be placed within the Bill, other than that it is intended to prevent something that is seemingly an indefinite quantity. I admit that the Attorney-General indicated that the proviso might be used to prevent the organizations taking part in movements for the return of members to Parliament. If that is the object, it might have been more honest to say that preference should not be granted! to any unionists who voted for labour candidates. We have been told that preference is to be granted, at a price. The price, apparently, is that organized labour shall give up every right that it has won since the inception of trade unionism.
– This is really a union suppression Bill.
– That name would be as near to the mark as. the title Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The trade unions of this country owe their position to the efforts which they have made for the advancement of industry, and the betterment of the social and industrial conditionof the workers. Why should we be asked to pay a price for preference, if it is admitted that preference ought to be given? If it ought to’ be given, why should an embargo be placed upon it? Why should we take away ‘the vitality of every union in Australia ? I wish to read again the rule which I formerly quoted in my question to the. Attorney-General with regard to the position of the miners. The rule reads that the union -
Shall .raise funds by contributions, levies, fines, and donations for the objects hereinafter specified, namely, to obtain legislative enactment for Hie more efficient management of mines, whereby the lives and health of members may be preserved, and, if necessary, to take steps to obtain compensation for accidents where employers are liable.
Just imagine taking such a provision out of the rules of the Miners’ Association, or preventing them from getting preference, because their union endeavours to agitate for better conditions upon those lines. If any one wants to know why the members of miners’ unions ask for preference, they haveonly got to carry their minds back to the occurrences which are commemorated by monuments which have been erected in various’ parts of the world. In former days mines were filled with fire-damp and othernoxious gases. The New South Wales senators know that there is a monument standing near Bulli - a great obelisk, which commemorates, practically speaking, inefficiency in .mine management, utter carelessness and an absolute disregard of the lives of men. That monument, and the report of a Commission that sat to inquire into the circumstances which it commemorates, are in themselves a sufficient reason for granting preference to members of the miners’ organization. It chills one’s blood to read the-‘ facts elicited by the Commission. For years and years the clause which I have quoted, has been one of the rules of the Miners’ Union, and for years they have inducted agitations and spent hundreds of pounds in political effort to endeavour to preserve the lives of their members, and to secure fitting conditions under which they might work. Now a provision is placed in this Bill, which, I take it from the answer made by the Attorney-General, means placing an obstacle in the way of a union conducting such agitations in the future.
– I do not say that ; that is for the Court to decide.
– We do not want to have this matter left. to the Court. I am prepared to trust the Court in matters that are fair and above-board, but I have a grave suspicion about this affair. I have an idea that the provision was inserted not to assist the industrial life of Australia, or to alleviate the conditions of the masses. 1 have the very gravest suspicion that there is, underlying this provision, the very bitterest party feeling.
– No ; it was suggested by Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Groom.
– I do not care by whom it was suggested.
– It was inserted by the alliance.
– I do not care even if Mr. Watson suggested it.
– He accepted it
– I am still prepared to say that in my opinion this provision was introduced in a’ spirit of the strongest party feeling. It is quite evident to me that it is aimed at the object of trade union organizations to secure representation in this and in the States Legislatures, and it was introduced entirely with a view to prevent that. I do not agree with Senator Stewart thai it will mean the bursting up or trade organizations.
– It will mean the bursting up of this Bill.
– I am quite with the honorable senator in that, but my knowledge of trade organizations has led rae to the conclusion that it has been through persecution that they have arrived at their present position.
– We have had enough of crucifixion.
– Just so, but every effort made in the same direction is calculated in the end to strengthen the posi tion of industrial organizations. They have . come to stay, and it is of no use for legis.lators to pass provisions of this sort in the hope that they will prevent the advance of trades organizations, which are to-day the bed-rock of our civilization. If honorable senators will consider for a moment the objects of trade unions, and the conditions of industry, they will understand that il_ will require very much stronger reasons than any which have yet been advanced to justify such a provision as this.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - I wish to make a personal explanation with respect to something which occurred earlier this evening. I do so now because I understand that I cannot refer to the matter when the President is in the chair. When the bells .Were rung for the division on -Senator . McGregor’s amendment with respect to preference to unionists, I happened to be at the other end of this building conferring with Mr. Watson on a ‘ matter of public business, which it is not necessary that I should particularly mention. I did not hear the bells, and consequently I did not take part in the division; I omitted to inform Senator 0’Keefe, the whip of the Labour Party in the Senate, of my movements, and the reason for that omission is that when I left the Chamber to see Mr. Watson, it appeared that there were about half-a-dozen honorable senators tumbling over each other in their desire to express their views on the question. I consequently’ assumed that there . would be ample time, before the debate on. the amendment concluded, to enable me to return and take part in the division. Had I been here, it is unnecessary to add that I should have voted, for Senator McGregor’s amendment.
Senate adjourned at 10.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041109_senate_2_23/>.