2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General the following questions without notice : -
– As to the first of the four questions which the honorable senator has asked, I am not aware that the Government of South Australia has given consent to the construction of the railway, but I am aware that it has given consent to the making of the survey. The other questions involve matters of policy, which will be dealt with when the Bill, which is at present before Parliament, comes before the Senate for consideration.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following paper: -
Regulations under the Patents Act.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Attorney -
General, upon notice -
The Minister of Customs, in reply, said - “ As I stated to a deputation the other day, I am, and always have been, in favour of granting State assistance to industries which show a reasonable prospect of being profitably established. I intend to go thoroughly into the whole question of agricultural bonuses with the State Governments during the recess. This does not mean that I am seeking to put the question aside. The fact is that if agricultural industries are to be fostered the Federation must co-operate with the States, for the States have, through their Agricultural Departments, all the machinery for getting into intimate touch with the producers. Though we alone can grant the bonuses, I feel that we should work with the States Governments wherever possible. As I intend to meet the States’ Ministers, I do not want to lay down a policy now all cut and dried, and then go to the States and say they must adopt it. With regard to the cotton industry, I am extremely anxious that something should be done to foster it. I shall, therefore, give veryspecial attention to it during recess. The question, after all, is a serious Imperial one, as well as a matter deeply affecting Australians. The position of Great Britain is very serious. If the United States liked to put an export duty on cotton, Lancashire would be in desperate straits, if not ruined. I shall certainly do all I can to help the cotton industry in the Commonwealth.”
– The answers to the honorable senator’s- questions are as follow : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Defence Department to transfer to Queensland the warrant and senior non-commissioned officers of the Instructional Staffs of the other States who are in excess of the numbers provided for on the Estimates now before the House, and are such officers to continue to draw higher rates of salary than are provided for under the Commonwealth Military Regulations ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
There are no excess warrant and noncommissioned officers of the Instructional Staff in any of the States.
The Regulations provide that the rates of pay therein set out for warrant officers and noncommissioned officers of the Instructional Staff shall apply on and from the 1st July, 1904, or, in the cases of appointments or promotion, made from the date of the Regulations. Should, however, any warrant or non-commissioned officer, appointed prior to 30th June, 1903, be in receipt of a salary higher than that pertaining to his classification under the Regulations, he will continue to receive the same pending promotion to a class with an equivalent salary.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Is the Commonwealth Government favorable to such an export tax on greasy wool as would impel owners or exporters to have wool scoured by Australian workers before export from Australia?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Government have not considered the imposition of such taxation, but they are not likely to be favorable to the proposed tax.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Is it not a fact that, of the 9,000 transferred Federal civil servants, some four or five thousand will be entitled to pensions under State Acts?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the sea carriage of goods.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from nth November, vide page 6881):
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.
Upon which Senator de Largie had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “decisions,” line 4, the following words be inserted : - “ compel or require any of, its members to vote for or subscribe !> the funds of any political party.”
– When we last discussed the matter before the Committee, I was pointing out the evils which might follow from the adoption of a sweeping proviso of this kind, and I tried to induce the Attorney-General, as. leader of the Government ;n this Chamber, to submit something more definite. With the object of securing a more definite proviso, Senator de Largie moved an amendment, which, I think, would exactly meet the case. I am prepared to advance additional reasons in support of that amendment, but I refrain from doing so now in view of the fact that Senator Matheson has circulated an amendment, which is not by any means all that honorable senators ora this side would desire, and is less than the Government demand, but which is better than nothing. In the circumstances, I do not propose to further contend against the proviso, or to support the amendment, as I propose to support the amendment which Senator Matheson has circulated.
– 1 have not unduly occupied the time of the Committee on this important question ; but with the permission of the Chairman - and no one knows better than I do, how necessary it is to obtain it - I should like to offer a few remarks before the question is decided. Honorable senators opposite, in discussing the proviso, have forgotten the real object of the Bill which they will allow me to remind them is industrial, and not political. The clause, as- at present drafted, contains two special provisos, one regarding the application of the funds of organizations, and the other regarding the rights of their members to “ do anything of a political character.”
– Anything at all - it is a drag-net provision.
– I wish to speak first with reference to that part of the proviso which deals with the application of the funds of an organization. One of the most forcible criticisms which can be offered against such a Bill as this is that while ample security is provided for the enforcement of penalties against employers, there remain grave doubts whether a penalty, imposed under the Bill, could be enforced against employes. ‘The basic principle is, as far as possible, to secure that penalties may. be enforced against both sides, and it is for that purpose the Bill recognises organizations. It deals with organizations amongst other reasons, because the criticism that a penalty under its provisions could not be enforced against employes, can be met so far as it is practicable to meet it by providing that” the funds of organizations shall be available to satisfy a verdict given against employes.
– That is purely industrial.
– Of course; this is an industrial Bill. Honorable senators who are anxiously regarding the conditions of working men must recognise that the criticism to which I have referred is a fair one, and yet the amendment at present under discussion, and, in fact, every amendment which has been suggested on ii h this clause, has had the object, amongst others, of doing away with that security - the security for costs, if honorable senators please - which is provided by the first part of the proviso to which so much exception is taken. I say that if this Bill is ever to be a success no hand must be laid upon any provision which meets the criticism to which I have referred by providing a fund which shall be available for the enforcement of penalties if an award is given against employes. This provision is essential if the Bill is to cut fairly both ways ; and if honorable senators opposite were .to succeed in removing the guarantee of fair play here provided, they would be doing more harm to the cause of industrial conciliation and arbitration than would be done bv the neglect to pass such legislation, or than would be done if we had never touched the subject.
– The honorable and learned senator’s point is that the whole of the funds of an organization shall be available for the payment of an award.
– I say that every penny of the funds of the organization should be ear-marked for the purpose of showing its bona fides.
– So thev are under the Bill.
– Quite so. We are with the honorable and learned senator in that.
– I say that the proviso affecting the application of the funds of organizations is the only provision which will meet the criticism to which I have referred, and’ which, it must be admitted, is strong. It ought to be, and can be/ met. It is for this reason that I shall oppoSe, as I think every other member of the Committee should, any invasion of those funds for other purposes. The proviso insures bona fides, and if it is passed it will be an evidence of a desire ( ti the part of employes, as well as employers, to make the Bill cut fairly both ways.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator realize that the proviso does not meet his objection at all?
– It meets all that I require, and I do not think it could be improved.
– Certainly not, because it goes into politics.
– I am perfectly satisfied with the proviso as it stands. . I think that it was intended, and it is only fair that it should be so, that the funds of the organization should be religiously guarded for the purposes of this Bill.
– If a union passes a resolution bearing in any way upon a political matter, it will be put out of court.
– I am aware of that, but I am at present dealing with the part of the proviso which refers to the application of the funds of organizations. I say that no man who desires that effect shall be given to this Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will in any way weaken the force of the answer here provided to the criticism that the funds of organizations might not be available to meet penalties imposed upon employes. I know that many men who oppose this legislation, wrongly in my opinion, fall back continuously upon the argument that, while a penalty can be enforced against employers, it cannot be enforced against employes, and I say that it is the duty of Senator Dawson and every honorable senator opposite to meet that argument in every possible way by providing that not a penny of the funds of an industrial organization shall be taken for any purpose outside the purposes of industrial organization.
– Senator Pearce upset that argument absolutely.
– I do not think the honorable senator did. These funds would be kept sacred for these purposes.
– Would the honorable and learned senator prevent the trade union paying any benefits from its funds?
– This Bill has nothing to do with trade unions - it absolutely ignores them.
– No it does not. What is the honorable and learned senator’s definition of an organization if it is not a trade union?
– This is another of the fallacies adopted by honorable senators opposite, and another of the assumptions they are not warranted in making. The Bill in no way recognises trade unions. It provides that they must begin de novo as industrial organizations only.
– The honorable and learned senator differs in opinion from his leaders, and agrees with me.
– I prefer to accept the Attorney-General’s opinion from himself.
– According to the Bill, an association means any trade or other union.
– I grant that, and that is the only reference the honorable senator can find to it, and those words were put in after the Bill had been introduced. Does Senator Guthrie mean to contend for a moment that an association means a trade union because those words are in the Bill. The basic principle of the Bill is industrial organization. It proposes that these organizations shall begin absolutely de novo, and why? As we are all agreed, this Bill is an attempt, and on the part of many of us an honest attempt, to prevent strikes. We know that strikes were not prevented when trade unions were in full swing. One of the chief works done by trade unions was at the time of strikes to enable men to more approximately realize their ideal of justice than they would have been able to do if they had acted as units. That was the principal object of trade unions, and I frankly admit that very good work has in this way been done by them. I say, further, that if we do not intend to pass this Bill, trade unions should not only maintain their present strength., but their continual object should be to increase their numbers! and strengthen their effective power for the protection of working men. Every one must recognise that the individual, as a unit, cannot do the work which can be done by a trade union or association. But it was to meet strikes that trade unions were justified. It was for that purpose that they were encouraged by my honorable friends opposite. But in this Bill we decide to adopt a totally new way of dealing with strikes and locks-out. We have found that the old method of settling them is unsatisfactory. The very fact that we adopt a different method compels us to begin de novo, and to have new industrial organizations altogether. That is the point which honorable senators opposite are now grasping, but they grasp it reluctantly. This Bill is absolutely based upon new industrial organizations.
– Has the honorable senator read clauses 62 and 63?
– I have read them, and have heard the arguments about them, but those arguments appear to me to be futile and meaningless. The leaders of the Labour Party have to recognise that under this measure the organizations have to be new, and have to be wholly industrial.
– That is the principle of the whole Bill, and if it is taken away we destroy the main feature of it.
– And it only applies when they obtain preference.
– Always subject to obtaining preference. With regard to preference, I say - dissenting from many honorable senators on this side of the Chamber - that, inasmuch as this Bill is based upon organizations, and that such organizations give security for costs, or some guarantee that penalties can be enforced, it is desirable that their members should have some measure of preference.
– The honorable and learned senator is. trying to defeat that.
– That is where we differ. I admit that under certain circumstances members of organizations should have preference under the measure, because if the organizations, and not isolated individuals, are to be responsible, some advantage should be given to them. But I differ entirely from Senator Guthrie and others when they wish to bring in, not industrial preference, but political preference. That is the sort of preference that honorable senators opposite want, and that I object to as being wholly antagonistic to the spirit of the Bill.
– Can the honorable and learned senator produce a line to show that there has been any contention in favour of political preference?
– I am not so wholly innocent as not to be able to extract from the attitude of honorable senators opposite, and from some of their interjections, what they mean’. In every speech they have shown that there is something political in what they require; and I say distinctly that they will not be satisfied if there is not left to them a hole large enough through which to jamb all they want. I shall oppose every attempt to bring in anything like political preference, and in doing so shall be giving loyal assistance to pass this Bill through Parliament. I am desirous to see the measure placed upon the statute-book. I admit that I am not sanguine about its success, but it is an experiment that we should fairly try so long as it is based upon the recognition of industrial organizations, and not political organizations. Many criticisms have been offered against the Bill, and against the objections of honorable senators opposite. The opponents of the measure have cited a particular case. I have no doubt that honorable senators know the case to which I refer. If the clause is permitted to remain as it stands, the unions will be prevented from shutting their doors, and the Bill will to that extent, curtail the political ambitions of many of the existing organizations.
– What case does the honorable senator refer to?
– The honorable senator knows that I refer to a Sydney case. It is a case which has been cited on several occasions, and I am satisfied that honorable senators opposite were glad to have the decision of the Court, in reference to men who were going to be fined if they did not vote as they were told for a selected candidate. Does Senator Dawson contendt hat that statementis all a figment ofimagination?
– It is absolute moonshine. There was a case, but the honorable able and learned senator’s statement of the facts is absolutely incorrect.
– Does the honorable senator say that the decision was never given ? He cannot. The object and intention of the latter part of the clause is this : to open the doors of the industrial organizations as widely as possible, so that every workman may enter, subject, of course, to his perfectly laudable desire to obtain preference. That being so, I say again that honorable senators opposite would, from my point of view, be extremely foolish if they attempted to interpose any obstacle in the way of any man who wanted to enter an organization that ought to be wholly and solely industrial. I believe that if any amendment is made in the clause, the organizations will not be wholly industrial. My object in supporting the measure is to bring about industrial peace, and, as far as possible, to prevent a political complexion being painted upon the Bill. I should like to say also that it has been perfectly obvious during the debate that the whole question of industrial peace, and of settling and preventing industrial strife has disappeared. Honorable senators opposite stand confessed as arguing with extreme enthusiasm and desperate earnestness to bring about certainly not industrial peace–
– The honorable and learned senator has no right to say that; it is not a fair statement of the case.
– I am saying what I honestly think, but I do not wish to say anything that is unfair. If the object be to bring about industrial peace by strengthening the hands of the Labour Party politically, they will never do it. But in all the amendments which have been moved or suggested in regard to this clause, there is one purpose sticking out, and that is to lend a political colour to the industrial organizations which the Bill as it stands absolutely denies to t’hem. Something has been said about party politics. With me it is not a question of party politics at all. I object to the introduction of politics in any shape or form. If we once depart from the industrial lines on which this Bill has been framed, we shall make a mistake and introduce an element of weakness. If an alteration in this clause were not likely to assist the Labour Party, I should oppose it just as strongly. I object to the industrial organizations having anything whatever to do with politics.
– The pretext put forward in another place was that it was desired to prevent the organizations from having anything to do with party politics; our opponents are getting bolder now.
– I know nothing of pretexts. I am expressing my own opinion. The earnestness of honorable senators opposite would induce one to believe that a considerable amount o’f political action was involved, and that it was not entirely non-party action. They have been zealous in their efforts to introduce a political element in this clause.
– We are perfectly .willing to put a bar against party political action.
– I repeat that with me it is not a question, of party politics at all. We shall vitiate the clause if we allow politics to be introduced in any form. If an amendment were proposed which would have the effect of making the clause operate in the interest of the employers in a political sense, I should oppose it just as strongly. I should say that it was a blunder and was likely to weaken the whole measure.
– The Bill as it stands is wholly in the interests of the employers.
– Is Senator Turley going to vote for the third reading of a Bill - the second reading of which he has supported - which he considers to be in the interest of the employers ? If he is, it is an absolute revelation to me.
– We wish to amend it in the interest of the community.
– But the honorable senator has said that at present it is in the interest of the employers. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer, but I feel strongly upon this point. I feel that the measure is in danger of being wrecked if the clause is altered in any way, because any amendment would be a source of weakness.
– Is this an official announcement ?
– There is nothing official about it. I am expressing my opinion as a senator. But I am speaking in the hope of securing, by means of this Bill, a measure which will make for industrial peace. I feel that the clause as it stands will have that effect, and that by altering it we shall weaken it. For that reason I oppose any alteration whatever.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - It appears to me that if honorable senators opposite desire to see passed a measure that will avoid the mistakes which have been made under the New South Wales conciliation and arbitration law, they will adhere to the clause as it stands.
– Organizations are not forbidden political action in New South Wales.
-Col. GOULD. - That is one of the mistakes of the New South Wales law. We know perfectly well what happened in connexion with the Australian Workers’ Union and a dispute which it had with another shearers’ association. Men would not join the Union for the reason that the rules required they should vote in accordance with the direction of the executive.
– Was not that rule excised ?
– It was excised when it found that the other association’s registration could not be annulled while it remained in existence.
– The Australian Workers’ Union was a bond fide association.
-Col. GOULD.- The newlyformed association was as bona fide as any other.
– Is it not a fact that it was subsidized by the employers?
-Col. GOULD.- The statement that the employers formed that union has been denied.
– Did the employers subsidize it?
.- I believe that that statement has also been denied. But, after all, that is beside the question. We know perfectly well that in the other Chamber, when this measure was being discussed, there was a warm debate with regard to this particular proposal, and, as I am informed, the proviso under discussion, in the shape in which it now appears, received the approval ofthe leader of the Labour Party in that House. If that be the case, and if there be a strong feeling in the other House with regard to the form of the clause, where is the necessity for altering it?
– What have we to do with the other House ?
– The honorable senator will be on his knees to the other House before long, if that House declines to accept the amendments of this Chamber. Ought we to adopt an amendment which will enable industrial organizations to be converted deliberately into political organizations? I understand preference to mean that any man in a particular trade, if he joins an industrial organization, shall be entitled to receive his share of the work that may be going. There may be men who are strong free-traders or protectionists, but who may object to the labour politics of some of the unions. They would object to join a union, if it adopted a political policy. We ought not to impose any bar to such men becoming members of organizations, when those organizations become entitled to preference. Is it to be said that if a man’s views are not those of the majority of an organization he is not to be allowed to have work, because he cannot honestly join that association? With all the views I entertain as to the unfairness of giving preference to anyparticular union, I am willing to admit that the men who are so strongly in favour of preference being given . say; “ We want to do a fair thing between the men and the trade.”
– If the honorable and learned senator’s facts were correct it would be unfair and unreasonable.
– I am very glad to get that admission.
– It has been made here times out of number, when the honorable and learned senator was not present.
.- If honorable senators agree that every man, no matter what his political views may be should be entitled to join an organization, and participate in the right to preference, the fairest way is to stick to the clause as it is, and not to introduce an element of grave uncertainty. Notwithstanding the Act, a trade union will have a perfect right to pass whatever regulations it may think fit, so long as they are within the law. But it is not a trade union in the ordinary sense of the term which is to get the benefits of this legislation. Half-a-dozen trade unions will be free to form one organization, which will be recognised by the Court, and whose members will probably hold different views on political questions. One member might be in favour of the Government, and another strongly opposed to its policy. How could these men be brought into an organization if they thought that its funds could be devoted to the purposes of one party or the other, or if they thought that pressure would be brought to bear upon them to contribute in a special direction?
– The honorable and learned senator cannot find in. Australia anybook of rules which interferes with the control of funds outside trade union purposes.
– Is it not a fact that the funds of a union have been voted for political purposes?
– No ; and I have been run by a union for the past twelve years.
– I have been so informed, and that statement has been made in the press.
– What about the Shearers Union?
.- Did not the Shearers Union utilize some of its funds for political purposes at election time?
– This clause will prevent any member of an organization being compelled to contribute to a fund for political purposes. We know that in a strong organization or union pressure can be brought to bear upon dissentients, which will either compel them to assist in any proposed political action or cause them to occupy such a position that it will be almost impossible for them to meet their fellow members. We do not wish to see anything of that kind. I think it would be a mistake on the part of those who favour this legislation to alter the clause. Even if the amendment were carried here, it would not be accepted by the other House, and ultimately it would be found that several day’s had been wasted in discussing an amendment by which we were not prepared to stand. I anticipate that by-and-by several honorable senators will discover a reason for changing their views; in order that the Bill may not be imperiled.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland).- The statements which have been made by Senators Clemons and Gould are at variance with the facts. If they make the statements designedly, it is no compliment to them or their honesty. But if they are made from sheer want of knowledge, that is another matter. Times out of number, by interjection, it has been denied that the funds of trade unions have been appropriated for political purposes. I challenged honorable senators on the other side to cite one case of that kind.
– Is not the Australian Workers’ Union a trade union ?
– The only reply I received came from Senator Gould, who said that he had seen the statement in the press.
– I shall show the honorable senator a case in the law reports directly.
– It is a positive pain to the. press to tell one atom of truth with regard to the Labour Party. If the editor of a dailynewspaper were seen sitting between Ananias and Sapphira he would be in the bosom of his family. I challenge any honorablesenator to cite a case where union funds have been used for political purposes.
– We can cite cases where the rules required union funds to be used for political purposes.
– This is not a betting chamber, else I should be prepared to bet my continuance in this position against an orange that it could not be shown. The fact remains that trade unions have never used union funds for political purposes. If Senator Gould would only procure a book of the rules, he would learn that every contribution is allocated to a particular purpose. I asked Senator Clemons what he meant by the term “ funds,” and he replied that he did not intend to go over old ground. There is a weekly contribution by the members allocated to a certain purpose. The officials of a union may use other funds, but are they union funds ?In his sheer ignorance Senator Clemons has said something which he cannot substantiate. I object to this brazen attempt to “ bull-doze ‘ ‘ the general public into thinking that we desire to take advantage of this measure for political purposes. As a matter of fact, the boot is on the other foot. Honorable senators opposite wish to enact a provision to stop us from having any political ideas.
– The Labour Party have got the right to preference for industrial organizations; but now they want preference for organizations which are political as well as industrial, and it cannot be granted. :
– I defy the honorable and learned senator to point to an organization throughout the Commonwealth which has asked for political preference. All we demand is that we shall not be political outcasts, simply because we belong to an organization. The Attorney-General knows that this provision will make us political outcasts.
– Nothing of the kind ; it will merely prevent you in certain circumstances from getting preference.
– All we claim is that we shall not be made political outcasts.
– The Bill does not know trade unions ; it has nothing to do with them.
– Well, the Bill shall know trade unions. In the old days, we could assist to amend a Mines Act or take part in a charitable movement ; but under this provision, we shall be precluded from taking any political action.
– The object of the Bill is limited, and other associations may be formed.
– The Bill prohibits organized action; it prevents me from expressing a certain view in combination with some one else.
– No; it only says that that association shall not be regis-, tered.
– The honorable and learned senator ought to be in favour of the amendment of Senator de Largie, and if he is not prepared to go that far, he ought to support the amendment which has been suggested by Senator Matheson. I believe that it is always better for a man to speak out plainly. Senator Clemons said that he had come to a resolution because of certain things within his knowledge. He proceeded to state the facts, but he did not distinctly1 state what the case was. We do not know exactly what he was referring to. In my opinion, if an honorable senator knows of a case he ought to state exactly what it is.
– I do not know what the honorable senator is referring to.
– For the honorable and learned senator to go round and round a subject,and to refrain from making a plain- statement is not fair or honest.
– The honorable senator can say what he likes about my honesty, and I shall not even ask the Chairman to rule him out of order.
– I do not think it is a fair or honest thing to do.
– I do not think that that term should be used.
– It ought to be withdrawn, sir.
– Standing order 404 reads as follows: -
No senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal ; and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
The suggestion that Senator Clemons was not honest is not in order.
– I do not believe that Senator Dawson meant to suggest that I was nothonest. I am sure that he would not make such a suggestion, or entertain such a thought.
– What I meant to convey was that the statement on which an argument is based ought to be clearly expressed, and that unless that is done, the consequent deductions are not honest.
– In reply to Senator Dawson, I say frankly that if Icould kill this Bill I would. I am against preference in any form, and I base my opinion upon the verdict which was given this year in the United States, and in which it was laid down that a preference is unconstitutional, and against the’ liberties of the citizens. I have risen to refer to the tame manner in which my honorable friends opposite are to-day viewing the political aspect of this questions, whilst last week, hour after hour was spent by them in expressing their views as to the importance of the political phase of the question, and pointing out how trade unions have, to a very great extent, been the means by which the condition of the classes has been ameliorated. Honorable senators opposite have tried to show that infinite injury will be done to trade unionists if the political aspect is not recognised in this Bill, and if they are not, under it, allowed to carry on a crusade in the same direction. Senator de Largie waxed so eloquent on the matter that he madecertain statements which were scarcely correct, and somewhat exaggerated. He entered upon a philippic against what he called “the Manchester School,” and claimed for the old unionism the credit of all that has been done in the United Kingdom, and to a certain extent in Australia, to remedy the grievances of the workers, and to make their lives happier. I contend that the people who did most for the amelioration of the working classes in the old country were the middle classes of the United Kingdom, though I admit that they were assisted by trade unionists as individuals. Will honorable senators tell me that such men as Robert Owen, Lord Shaftesbury, and Mr. Gladstone did nothing for the working classes?
– Did I not mention those names?
– The honorable senator mentioned the name of Lord Shaftesbury, but there were others also - John Bright, Richard Cobden, and Titus Salt. Imagine Senator de Largie going to any English constituency and telling the people that, apart from the fiscal question altogether, John Bright and Richard Cobden did nothing for the working classes. Those men sacrificed more for the amelioration of the working classes of England than almost any other men whose names could be mentioned. It is strange to hear honorable senators opposite saying today that the political factor is not of the importance which they attached to it last week. We should look at the question fairly and squarely, and I remind honorable senators of what has been said by two exMinisters of the Crown, the present leader of the Opposition and the ex-Minister of Defence, Senator Dawson. Senator McGregor frankly confessed that the Bill would be used principally and primarily as an organizing Bill. He did not say that it would be used as an organizing Bill to prevent strikes, and it therefore must be for some other purpose. We have had Senator Dawson anticipating the time when all trade unionists would be organized in one body and all’ employers in another.
– In the interests of peace.
– What an ideal to contemplate ! The employer has but one vote, and the employes in his factory may have one hundred votes, and yet Senator Dawson invites us to believe that they would be equal.
– Does not the honorable senator realize the axiom that to be prepared for war is the best guarantee of peace?
– I believe that Senator Dawson and honorable senators opposite are as sincerely honest in the attitude they assume as are honorable senators on this side. Senator McGregor has frankly stated what trade unionists hope to use this Bill for, and Senator Dawson has followed up his statement by anticipating the formation of huge armies of employes and employed. What Senator Dawson suggests means either that’ employers and employes are, between them, going to squeeze the public, or that employes, as a strong army, are going to use their power on behalf of Collectivism. Honorable senators opposite believe in placing all industries into the hands of the State. That is the goal at which they are aiming, and it appears to me that they are trying to .reach it by means of this Bill. They desire to make use of this measure to carry on their political propaganda, and not only as an instrument for the prevention of strikes.
– If there are organized employers on one side and organized employes on the other, where does the honorable senator get his public from ?
– The public are the middle classes, and the producers, and all who are outside unions.
– Are they not either employers or employe’s ?
– I say that, if the employers are associated as one body, and the employes as another, terms will be made between them by which the public will be squeezed. A reference to the report of Mr. Clarke, the accredited agent of the American Labour Bureau, will show that that has already taken place in New Zealand. He shows that, as a result of the operation of the New Zealand Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the expense of living in that Colony has been increased by from 25 to 40 per cent., from what it was previous to the passing of that law.
– How does he finish up. his report ; will the honorable senator read the last paragraph ?
– It does not affect the matter before us. Senator Turley cannot say that I am quoting Mr. Clarke inaccurately. He shows that, although wages have increased under the operation of tEe Act, the increase has not been sufficient to cover the increased expense of living, and the working man in New Zealand is now in a worse condition -than he was prior to the passing of this legislation.
– Does he not show that conciliation and arbitration has done a great deal of good for the workers of New Zealand ?
– He does, and he also shows that it has done them a great deal of harm. The suggestion apparently now is that there should be community of interest between employers and employes. The employers are to find that the only way out of the difficulty in which they will be placed by this legislation is to combine with the employes to fleece the public. I do not suggest that in an offensive way, but I say that the mass of the people havehad their living expenses increased as the result of the operation of the Arbitration Act in New Zealand, and that is owing to collusion between workers and employers. If the ideals of honorable senators opposite are realized in Australia, we shall have the two bodies combined, with the result that the public will be flattened out between them, because living expenses will be increased all round ; or else the employes, by the power they will be able to exert, will gp further in the direction of State control of industry, which, in my opinion, would, so far as the working classes themselves are concerned, be the most cruel and tyrannical course ‘which could be adopted. We had four years of domination by the Labour Party in New’ South Wales, during which we have had the ideas of Collectivism- in operation, and they have proved most inimical to the working classes themselves, though for a time they lived in the land of Goshen. It is impossible for the country to progress unless capitalists here and at home have sufficient confidence to induce them to invest in its development. I have stated my views of the ideals for which members of the Labour Party are striving, and what I think would be the consequences of their realization. Today they do not appear to think that the political aspect of the question is of much importance, though they laid very great stress upon it last week.
– We stated our arguments, but honorable senators opposite did not reply.
– It appeared to me that no reply was necessary. We believed last week that the whole question had been threshed out, and were prepared to vote, but honorable senators opposite were not.
– Let us have a vote now.
– If I felt that I had convinced honorable senators that they should vote to destroy this Bill, I should resume my seat in a moment. We are told that unions will not register under it, and I therefore dp not see why honorable senators opposite should bother very much about it. If they are prepared to do anything which will have the effect of destroying the Bill, I can promise them my assistance. In his very able speech, Senator Clemons demonstrated the position which organizations will occupy under this Bill in a manner which was a revelation to me. I had not previously grasped the distinction which there will be between the old unions and the new unions under this Bill. Honorable senators opposite, should recognise that in agreeing to preference to unionists, some honorable senators on this side have made considerable sacrifices of their views, because they honestly believe that it infringes the liberties of the people.
– The honorable senator sacrifices nothing.
– I voted for it as a compromise.
– And how the honorable senator desires to destroy it.
– I would if I could, because I disapprove of preference; but honorable senators must remember that since the Bill was introduced, domestic servants and agricultural labourers have been included under it, and there have been a number of additions made to it.
– Nothing has been added, but invidious exemptions and distinctions have been removed.
– What does the honorable senator think of Mr. Justice Cohen’s opinion on the subject of preference?
– I have already given my opinion, but I have no objection to state it again. I respect Mr. Justice Cohen. I believe he is trying to do his best, but he lacks business acumen. I am not stating my own opinion only but that of some of the best business men and working men in Sydney. But if honorable senators ask me what I think of Mr. Justice Cohen’s opinion, I ask them in turn what they think of the views of Chief Justice Darley and Mr. Justice Parker, as to the effect of arbitration laws?
– Absolutely wrong.
– What do they think of the views expressed by one of the New Zea land Judges when he decided against the opinions of the Labour Party? If we are to consider the views expressed from the judicial bench on the one side, we should also consider them when they are on the other side of the question. Nothing has been said by the employers against Mr. Jusitce Cohen that is half so objectionable as has been said on the other side against Chief Justice Darley, Mr. Justice Parker, and one of the New Zealand Judges. I contend that a Supreme Court Judge is not a proper person to take into consideration the thousand and one various matters connected with business. With the best intentions in the world, he must be influenced by the strong expert man sitting either on his right or on bis left. My admiration for the judicial bench, as a whole, and for the honesty and integrity of Mr. Justice Cohen, is not weakened in the slightest degree, notwithstanding the opinion I have expressed, namely, that Mr. Justice Cohen has given verdicts which, from a business point of view, are scarcely intelligible to a business man.
– I have here a newspaper called The Worker, and I wish to make one or two extracts from it. We have all heard the opinion of Mr. B. R. Wise, and it is refreshing to find from an article by him in this newspaper, that he does not altogether find fault with Mr. Justice Cohen on account of his excellent decision with regard to the Laundry Employes Union. In this article Mr. Wisesays -
It is to be observed that in the case referred to the Court gave several reasons for refusing preference, of which the numerical weakness of the union was only one, and I by no means wish to imply that the decision of the Court upon the facts before it was incorrect.
It is well-known that Mr. Wise, for whom personally, I have considerable regard, thinks that the Arbitration Court in New South Wales should, in all cases, give preference to unionists. Indeed, he actually says in his summary -
To sum up, my point is, the weaker the union the greater the necessity for preference and the less the chance of injuring non-unionists.
In the course of the debate, some remarks have been made with reference to Mr. John Bright. But I would point out that it is a well-known fact that during the cotton famine, many years ago, Mr. Bright actually kept his mills at work at great personal loss, for the purpose of giving employment to his employes. Last week, Senator Matheson, and to-day, Senator Clemons, gave convincing reasons why the organizations should not be political, but should simply oe societies of employers on the one side, and employes on the other, registered for the purposes of the Act.
– Is not the Employers’ Federation- a political body that could take part in politics?
– Under this Bill, that federation of employers dare not take part in politics. It would”’ register as a nonpolitical body for industrial purposes. Otherwise it would not be able to get preference under the Bill.
– The employers do not require preference.
– But the measure says that there are to be. organizations of both employers and employes. I may remark that The Worker is very uncomplimentary in its allusions to this Bill.
– Did the honorable senator read Mr. Justice Cohen’s comments in this morning’s newspapers?
– I did read them, and, much as I esteem Mr. Justice Cohen privately, I hope that his term of office as Judge of the Conciliation, and Arbitration Court will shortly expire, and that he will then resume his seat on the ordinary judicial bench, where he can attend to other matters. Fortunately, the New South Wales Act will expire in three years’ time, and it will be a great relief to the community when that happens.
-CoL GOULD (New South Wales). - When I was speaking a little while ago, a slight difference occurred between myself and honorable senators opposite, with regard to the Australian Workers’ Union and the- Machine Shearers and Shed Employe’s’ Union. I alluded to certain rules of the Australian Workers’ Union. The following extract from the official report of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales will show the way in which this particular union devotes, attention to political objects. Its rules say : -
Then comes .the most serious aspect of the whole matter, showing clearly how this particular union was determined to deprive its members of its political views or opinions, or of the right to exercise them. Rule 57 of the union says -
Any member of the union voting or working, against the selected labour candidate approved of by the union shall be fined the sum of £3.
– The honorable and learned senator knows, that that rule has been annulled.
.- Yes, but why ? The union had the audacity to go to the Court to ask for the cancellation of the Machine Shearers’ Union, arguing that there was one big union which the workers could rely upon ; and when it was held by the Court that an organization which had rules of this character rendered it impossible for many men’ to join, the union attempted to make an alteration in the rules. It did that simply in order that it might destroy the other union which it regards as antagonis-tic to its interests.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that that is why the Court gave that decision?
.- I say that the Court declined to order the cancellation of the Machine Shearers’ Union, because it was not possible for many men to’ join a union which had rules of this character staring them in the face. The Workers’ Union altered its rules in order to bring about the cancellation of the Machine Shearers’ Union. Fortunately, even that did not succeed. I was challenged to show any instance. Here is an instance, and if honorable senators would like to go further; it could’ be shown that there is a newspaper; The Worker, which published the names of members who were black-listed, and this paper was supported by the funds of the Union:.’ It was- purely apolitical newspaper,, started and supported by money drawn out of the funds which individual members of the union subscribed; and devoted entirely to the advocacy of the political views of the parties who were running it. Senator de Largie’s amendment would permit this kind of thing to go on. Such a case as that in which the Machine Shearers’ Union was concerned could not occur in an organization registered under this Bill if this proviso remained in it. But take the proviso out, and there will be nothing to prevent such a set of rules as the Australian Workers’ Union had being passed by any organization. This shows the undesirability of accepting such an amendment as that proposed. An organization ought not to be permitted to use its funds for any political purposes whatever.
– Can the honorable and learned senator show a single clause which prevents an employers’ union from using its funds for political purposes?
-Col. GOULD.- The clause applies to any association, whether of employers or employe’s.
– But an employers’ union would not ask for preference.
.- Such a union would not be justified in using its funds for political purposes, anv more than the funds of the employes could be used for such purposes. The whole spirit of the Bill is against it. What is the object of giving preference? Is it to give facilities for persons holding particular views to obtain employment, or is it simply for the purpose of enabling organizations to register to carry out the provisions of the Bill ?
– Preference is to prevent victimizing.
-Col. GOULD.- The clause as it stands would prevent that. If a man belongs to a union, that is not to stand to his detriment in any way whatever. But while we are going to protect him, we must not render it impossible for any man to join a union on account of its political policy. If the unions are permitted to devote their funds to political purposes many men will be unable to join them.
– Senator de Largie’s amendment is intended to prevent that.
-The members supply the funds, and if their contributions could not be used, how could we spend money for political purposes?
– Senator Pearce, Senator de Largie, and myself, could form a union not to elect a member of Parliament, but to getpreference- for our trade, After a time the question of an election would crop up, and a portion of the funds we had contributed could be devoted to running a candidate whom one of us did not approve of. That could be done under this amendment. I admit that it would not compel me to give a pound directly, but I submit that the subscribed funds couldbe used for political purposes.
– When Senator Gould was speaking about the Machine Shearers’ Union this afternoon, I interjected that it was a bogus union. My authority for making that statement is the Prime Minister.
-But. he was counsel then for one party.
– I do not think for a moment that outside the law courts the Prime Minister would make a statement which he believed to be absolutely untrue.
– Let it be remembered that he was briefed by only one side.
– The Prime Minister didnot make this statement at the time he was briefed, but quite independently of the case to which it refers. According’ to the press, he said -
A good deal has been said in reference to the Australian Workers’ Union and a bogus union. I happened to be professionally employed in that case. I was employed by the Australian Workers’ Union. I wish to say that I absolutely sympathized with the Australian Workers’ Union in every shape and form. The case in question constituted a sheer conspiracy on the part of some pastoralists and some working men of a type in which I do not believe. -It was a positive conspiracy to create a bogus union, and their action was not fought with the aid of working men’s subscriptions, but with money which came from quite another source. I look, with as great detestation as any man can, upon the action of men - whether they be employers or workmen - who can be bought over to thwaTt the honest desire of their fellows to do a very proper and beneficent thing.
It was on the authority of Senator Gould’s leader that I interjected that the Machine Shearers’ Union was a bogus union.
– It has been stated this afternoon that honorable senators on this side attach much less importance to the political aspect of this clause to-day than they did last week. No one on this side has indicated that we do, , and we have ample justification for making a complaint in that regard.No provisionhas ever been brought forward here in;mytime with less reason for its existence than the one which we are seeking to amend. If the statements of its supporters are to be relied upon, there is not an instance where the Government have more persistently stuck to a shadow than they are doing on this occasion. Last week the Attorney-General said, “ We ask you to give us bread, and you offer us a stone.” For years and years the people outside the industrial barriers have been crying for bread, and certainly on this occasion they are offered a stone. After years of effort on the part of those who wish not to lay hold of some one by the hair, but to secure an equitable .system of settling industrial disputes, honorable senators on the other side say, “We are prepared to give you an opportunity to settle your industrial disputes if you will give up all the rights and liberties that belong to the political welfare of this nation. In other words, if you will allow us, like our forefathers, to run the show without restraint, we are prepared to give you a modicum of justice in recognition of your industrial efforts.” The political rights of the members of these organizations were won by making great sacrifices. A mere shadow is. being held out to trade unions, while . the substance is being filched from them by a provision which has no other end in view than that of preventing industrial organizations from exercising the privilege which every man feels that it is .his bounden duty to exercise. I. thought that the time had passed in Australia when political liberties would be questioned. I imagined that we were safe from the ravages of that old notion which prevailed centuries ago, and which took very deep root in the minds of the people - namely, that the classes were a heaven-created element to enjoy, whilst the masses were a heavencreated element to provide their enjoyment. But when I took up this Bill, and read a provision which withdraws from a man an old established privilege, I thought .that we were returning to the dark days. I was reminded of an occasion when I heard Mr. Gladstone pointing out how dangerous it was for the British Government to rule a country with an iron hand, instead of with intelligence. We have come back to the old Irish Coercion Acts, and it is questionable whether the ‘phraseology of their provisions has not been borrowed by the framers of. this Bill.
– The honorable senator means union preference, I suppose?
– I do not mean union preference, but I mean this attempt to make serfs of men - to take away that political liberty which is generally acknowledged to be a man’s right. No one can furnish a logical reason in favour of a provision which seeks to take away a civil right from a man. Trade unionists are asked to give up their political rights in order that they may obtain preference, and may be protected.
– Against non-unionists.
– No ; but against the tyranny of those who care little for unionists and non-unionists. We desire to protect the unionists against the .tyranny of those who wish all’ industrial legislation to be swept off the statute-book in order that they may be able .to return to the good old times of which they sometimes sing, when pie and plum-pudding were all their own, and workmen got their potatoes and salt. It has been urged that the Bill does not seek to take away any man’s political rights, and that. if a union wants preference, all it is required to do is to register for the purposes of the Act. The legal luminaries here tell us trial: all we require to do is simply to build up a new organization under a set of rules which will scarcely provide for anything except registration. From the theoretical point of view it may suit the legal luminaries to argue on those lines. Let me tell honorable senators that they have so little experience of these things that they have not yet grasped the rudiments of trade unionism and its operations. I take the case of a union in Western Australia, comprising 9,000 or 10,000 members, and having some seventy or eighty branches. It has rules which are generally speaking uniform for all the .branches, though in some instances they are framed to meet local conditions. It is registered under the Arbitration Act of Western Australia, and, in order that no advantage shall be taken of the Act, the rules have to be placed before the Registrar, as provided in this Bill. But we find that this Bill contains a provision which at once contradicts the statements of our legal friends that this is a very simple matter. In the latter part of clause 40, we have provided -
In any case in which the .Court directs that preference shall be given it may subsequently suspend or qualify the direction for such time, or subject to such conditions, as it thinks fit if, in the opinion of the Court, the rules of the organization are burdensome or oppressive or do not provide reasonable conditions for admission to. or continuance in membership, or that the organization has acted unfairly or unjustly to any of its members in the matter of preference.
If that means anything, it means that we must submit a copy of the rules of our organization when we present ourselves for registration under this Bill. The proviso which is now under discussion, informs us that we shall have no preference so long as our rules or other binding decisions permit the application of our funds to political purposes. What political purposes are has never been denned by honorable, senators opposite for the reason that every man of intelligence must recognise that they cannot be denned. No man can tell where political interest begins and ends in such organizations. It has been clearly shown that trade unions, in the interests of the preservation of the health and lives of their members, must be political organizations. Surely men who profess to be imbued with the humanitarian spirit, recognise these things, and I cannot for the life of me see how honorable senators opposite can continue to stultify their reason by supporting such a proviso as this. The amendment moved by Senator de Largie is all that should be attempted in the way of amending this proviso. I admit that the AttorneyGeneral contends that it does not take what he chooses to term “the viciousness “ out of some; provisions. The only viciousness that can be shown here, is that which is embodied in the proviso to which the Attorney-General so persistently clings. Surely it is not vicious to give men liberty, and to allow trade unionists to spend their money as they please, so long as they do not attempt, in doing so, to wilfully injure other people? Whilst Senator de Largie’s amendment would allow an organization, where its members are unanimous, to expend its funds for .political purposes, that is only what must be recognised as the inalienable right of all organizations. Honorable senators opposite tell us that we are not now dealing with unions, but with some bodies which they term “industrial organizations.” They are taking a phantasmagoric view of something which is going to arise under this Bill, but about which nothing is yet known. Personally, I have never known of a trade union that was other than an industrial organization. Trade unions are industrial organizations with necessary political aspirations. Senator Gould has said that last week we announced our intention to bring political organizations within the scope of this Bill. But the honorable and learned senator must be aware that no one ever made any such statement.
– Was not something very like that said?
– Any man who would make such a statement must be beside himself. What interest has a purely political organization in this Bill ? What object could it have in registering under such a measure? A .political organization pure and simple_ concerns itself only with the political welfare of one party or another, but trade unions are industrial organizations, with aspirations and necessities that compel them also to toe political organizations. The amendment must meet all the requirements of honorable senators opposite unless they wish to lay themselves open to the suspicion that there is not one vestige of sincerity in their advocacy of ‘ the great principle of arbitration ; ‘ that they are simply advocating the principle at the present time as a make-belief, whilst they intend on some other opportunity to throttle it. It lias been well said that the proviso, if brought into effect as it stands, would at once shut the doors of the Arbitration Court against every trade union or industrial organization that now exists in Australia. It will absolutely prevent any attempt at organization for the purpose of registration under this measure, and by agreeing to such a proviso we shall defeat the whole of the objects of this Bill. Organization is certainly a basic principle of the Bill, and it has been shown that preference is protection. Mr. Justice Cohen has not minced matters in dealing with the question in New South Wales, for he tells us that the New South Wales Act is based on the principle of preference, and he has extended it in accordance with the Act. Here in the Federal Parliament, which should be the most advanced Parliament in Australia, we are asked to insert a provision for preference; then by another clause, to agree to destroy the principle, and finally by the use of the word “permit” to ‘ get back to the old days when men were ruled by the pressure of coercion instead of by intelligence and light. We are asked by this proviso to bring out all the vice and all the cunning of which human nature is capable, instead of to adopt the true principle of the Bill, which aims at inducing men to exercise Ohe highest and noblest traits in defence of themselves, and for the protection of their kind.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after the word “character,” line 6, the following words be inserted: - “but no action taken with reference to hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour shall be deemed to be a political purpose, or of a political character.”
If my amendment is carried, the proviso will read as follows : -
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; but no action taken with reference to hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour shall be deemed to be a political purpose, or of a political character.
In dealing with my amendment, I think it will be just as well to review the position in which we find ourselves on this clause; and I propose to do so as shortly as possible. First of all, the amendment of Senator O’Keefe practically aimed at striking out the whole proviso. The result would have been that the organizations under the Bill would have been able to use any funds in their possession for any political purpose, whether party or otherwise, and would have been able to bring compulsion to bear on their members to take part in political strife at the dictation of the organization. I do not say that any organization would ever have used that power, but they would have been able to move in that direction. I based my objection to Senator O’Keefe’s amendment on the view that had been expressed by Senator McGregor, that the organizations under this Bill to be of any value would be registered as new organizations, and that the old and at present existing unions would not be found practically registering under the Bill as organizations, though undoubtedly they would have the right so to register. Senator O’Keefe’s amendment, as the Committee will remember, was rejected. Senator de Largie then moved an amendment. It was a very cleverly framed amendment, the result of which would have been that organizations would have been left with the power to use any funds at their disposal for political purposes, whether party or otherwise. But there was this restriction placed upon them - that if they desired to obtain preference for their members under any award given by the Court under this Bill, theywould have been obliged to omit any clause in their rules requiring their members totake any political action of a party nature. I think that explains concisely the drift, though not exactly the wording of Senator de Largie’s amendment. I objected equally strongly to that amendment, because the view which I took, as I explained to the Committee, was this - that we were compelling men either to do without work or else to join the unions ; that the unions would be supported by the funds subscribed by every man who joined them, and that it was unfair to ask any workman to join a union whose funds could be used for supporting a political party to which he was opposed. Those were broadly my grounds of objection to Senator de Largie’s amendment. I felt that it would be atrociously unfair to put men in the position of either having to go without their bread, or of supporting political action of which they were not in favour. Under these circumstances, of course, I found myself unable in the last division to vote with Senator de Largie. But up to this time I had been absolutely of the opinion following Senator McGregor, that fell these organizations would inevitably, under this Bill have to be new organizations, and that the old unions would continue to exist and. carry on political action of a party nature. But, as the debate proceeded, Sena- tor Pearce made it perfectly clear that, under clauses 62, 63, and 64 of the Bill, power was given to the Governor-General to proclaim existing unions and force them to become organizations under the Bill - forcing them, at the same time, to adopt new rules which, if the clause under discussion were left as it stands at present, would take from them many of the rights which, as unions, they now have. Under these circumstances, it became clear to me that some sort of compromise would have to be arrived at - at any rate, so far as I was concerned - between the clause as it stands and the desire which has been so strongly expressed on the part of honorable senators opposite, that some greater scope should be given to the organizations in the employment of their funds. My honorable friends opposite have practically come down to this - that as they cannot obtain for their organizations the right to use their funds without control for political purposes, they would be content with half a loaf, which, from their point of view, would be better than no bread; and they are prepared to agree to an amendment, which would have the effect of preventing the funds of organizations being used for party politics, but, at the same time, would leave those funds completely available for any movement in the direction of what we may call domestic politics, dealing with the occupations of the members of the organizations. Therefore, under the circumstances, and considering clauses 62, 63, and 64, I find myself quite prepared to support their views. But the initial difficulty was how to define the difference between party politics and agitation for industrial reform. That is really where the difficulty arises. I think I may fairly claim that the amendment which I now propose defines the difference as clearly as any amendment can do. What I wish to emphasize is this : that the objections of nearly every honorable senator who has spoken on this subject, both in the Senate and in another place, have been to the use of the funds of the organizations for party political purposes. I want to lay particular stress upon that point, because, judging from conversations which I have had an attempt will be made to get past it altogether. The emphasis which has been laid so strongly on the party politics side of the argument will be slurred over, and honorable senators will now say - as Senator Clemons did this afternoon, knowing that my amendment was to be proposed - that no funds should be employed for any political purpose, whether for the amelioration of the conditions of the workers, or for party politics. It is therefore desirable that the attention of the Committee should be turned to the utterances, at any rate of the leaders, in dealing with this question, so that the rank and file of. each party may understand exactly how they stand. Senator Symon, as reported in Hansard at page 6828,’ said-
We are asking for something that will preclude the possibility of compulsion being applied to any man - any non-unionist - to barter his poli tical freedom for bread.
That distinctly means that no man is to be asked to support party politics in return for employment.
– I never said anything about party politics.
– The honorable and learned senator did not; but the only interpretation that can be placed upon that utterance is that it is in opposition to party politics, because it is perfectly clear that all the workers in an organization must be unanimous in supporting any movement for the amelioration of the conditions of their employment, the increase of their pay, or the shortening of their hours of work. Therefore, in dealing with these three topics it would be quite impossible for any man who was obliged to join a union to barter his political freedom. That is a point which I wish to impress upon’ honorable senators in reference to my amendment. On these three topics every man who compulsorily joins a union must inevit-ably be in accord; and if every member of a union agrees no injustice is done to any one individual. Under these circumstances, if, in order to obtain work preferentially, a man is obliged to join one of these organizations, no injustice is done to him. Senator Symon further said, dealing with an existing trade union or organization -
It is entitled to enter into political fights as much as it pleases, to spend its funds, if its members permit, as freely as it likes in support of the Government on the one hand or of the Opposition on the other.
My amendment makes it absolutely impossible for any of the organizations to employ their funds in the specific ways to which there can be objection-
– Why prevent a trade union from doing all that?
– And still claim for itself preference.
– That is the point.
– The honorable and learned senator did not permit me 10 finish my sentence.
– That point only arises when you wish to get preference in any branch of employment.
– Undoubtedly ; and I am now agreeing that such preference should be granted as long as the particular political agitation, to which the AttorneyGeneral objects, is debarred from the organization. Then I will make another quotation. The present Prime Minister, Mr. Reid, stated that the object of having some such provision in the Bill was to let the Judge know before he exercises his own sweet will upon the subject that there shall be no element of choice as between politics and bread.
I have already made it clear that, in reference to my amendment, no such choice is forced upon a candidate for entrance into an organization; and, therefore, the prime objection that Mr. Reid raised is nullified, as far as my amendment is concerned. Then again, we have Mr. Watson. Here I quote from the other side. Mr. Watson said that he was prepared to accept an amendment which would have the effect of preventing preference being given to unions if they have in their rules anything relating to politics which is likely to detrimentally affect any persons who may desire to join them.
What I maintain is this : that if anything could prejudiciously affect a workman joining an organization, it would be entirely eliminated by the amendment which I have placed before the Committee. So that, I think, I may fairly claim that my amendment is of such_ a nature that I can appeal to honorable senators on both sides to support it as a fair compromise, and one under which the rights of the majority of the workers, as well as of the minority, have been amply safeguarded. Of course, some honorable senators - as will possibly happen - may get up, and say, “ How are you going to define conditions of labour? Will it not be possible to make the term, conditions of labour,’ apply to all sorts of things outside what the intention of the Committee is?” All I can say is, that, “conditions of labour “ is a well -recognised phrase, and it is perfectly well known to what cases it applies. It is perfectly well known what classes of agitation would come under the heading of agitations in connexion with conditions of labour. It is simply splitting hairs to endeavour to read into that expression a number of matters which no Court and no Judge would permit to be read into it.
– Will the honorable senator define what he means by “ conditions of labour?”
– It is not easy to define in so many words, and it would be much better if the honorable senator would suggest something under the heading “conditions of labour,” that would not be acceptable.
– The air-space provision for seamen is a condition of labour.
– Quite so. One suggestion that has been made to me - and I can only deal with suggestions when they are made to me - is that running a newspaper in support of a political candidate would be agitation for the amelioration of the conditions of labour.
– I say distinctly that it would not. No one but a person with a most vivid imagination, or an imagination absolutely distorted with a view to throwing discredit upon my amendment, could for a moment make a suggestion of that sort.
– What are newspapers for?
– They are for purposes of education.
– I mean especially workmen’s newspapers.
– The honorable senator is trying to beg the question. We are not talking of the purposes for which ordinary newspapers are conducted. Evidently the honorable senator imagines that a newspaper could be brought out under my provision, and that it could be run to advocate the interests of particular candidates at an election, as though that were a matter that would come under the heading “conditions of labour.” My reason for considering that my amendment is a compromise is this - that we have already seen that existing unions can be proclaimed by the Governor-General. The existing unions have the fullest political rights that any individual enjoys. The Seamen’s Union, for instance, is able to carry on a political agitation in every State. If it were proclaimed by the GovernorGeneral it would be debarred from exercising this privilege, so long as it expected to get any preference for its members. Is that just? I am satisfied that no fairminded person outside the Chamber would think it just. This afternoon, an honorable senator objected to the amendment of Senator de Largie, because he said it had no chance of being accepted in another place. Obviously, that objection cannot apply to my amendment. I do not see how any honorable members in that House, unless their minds are saturated with prejudice against these organizations and the Bill itself, could possibly object to allowing industrial organizations to move and agitate in industrial matters. The three topics on which my amendment touches - the hours, the conditions, and the remuneration of labour - are essentially industrial matters with which an organization, formed under the Act, should have the fullest powers to deal. I am satisfied that if it were not for the unfortunate circumstance that the Attorney-General as a member of the Government is obliged to support the Bill as it stands, he would be the first to support this amendment.
– Do nut say that.
– From what I know of the liberal tendency of the AttorneyGeneral’s convictions and utterances, I am satisfied that he would be among the first to support such a small concession to my honorable friends on the other side as that which is sought in this amendment. I hope that I have stated my reasons clearly and concisely. I beg honorable senators not to read into my amendment matters which it does not and cannot reasonably be supposed to embrace.
– I disclaim any suggestion that I am saturated with prejudice, or that my judgment is in any way tainted by adverse feeling to the Bill. In using that expression, probably Senator Matheson did. not include me.
– Certainly not.
– I view every amendment from the stand-point of securing that the Bill shall be returned to the other House marked by a serious and earnest attempt to deal with numerous controversial matters, and under such circumstances as will invite their equally earnest consideration to what has been done here.
– And so that it shall not embarrass the Government.
– The Government do not wish to be embarrassed about a Bill which they are anxious to place on the statute-book. Surely, my honorable friend has discovered that I am most anxious to have this Bill passed in the form which appears to me to be best.
– We never saw the honorable and learned senator so thoroughly in accord with the other Chamber as he is on this occasion.
– There are very strong reasons for that. It is because of that very earnestness that I have taken up that attitude. But whilst I am most anxious to consider every amendment, and to listen to everything which is urged in its support, I am equally anxious to convince honorable senators of the view I take. Senator Matheson appealed to me on the ground that if I were not in charge of the Bill I should be more prepared to consider, probably favorably, his amendment. He is entirely mistaken in that respect. I am just as disposed to listen to his persuasive accents in advocating his amendment as if the Bill had not come up here after it had been exhaustively dealt with elsewhere. While my honorable friend was speaking I was trying to find out why the amendment was being moved. He appeals to me particularly on the ground that it is such a small concession to make. Either it is microscopically small, or it is mischievous.
– The objection is microscopically small.
– Surely my honorable friend does not wish his name to be associated with an amendment which will be idle and superfluous. The pathetic appeal he made to us not to reject the amendment because it is such a very little one seems to me to suggest that there is a desire on the part of honorable senators to amend the clause in some way, no matter how, so long as they can preserve a political colour, or give a political handle to a particular organization.
– Oh, no !
– Well, that is the inference I draw. Senator Matheson has described his amendment as a compromise. It is a compromise of nothing. He called my particular attention to the words “ hours, conditions, and remuneration of labour,” in his amendment. What is the object of the Bill but to settle the hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour by means- of an Arbitration Court ?
– It does not allow the application of the funds of an organization to political purposes.
– But the funds of the organization are to be applied in order to bring these matters for settlement before a Court which is substituted for Parliament. My honorable friend has forgotten the earlier part of the Bill and its very purpose. He must have taken the words of his amendment from clause 9. What are the industrial matters which the Court has to consider ? -
All matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employers or employees, or the mode, terms, and conditions of employment or non-employment -
– When can they deal with these matters? Not until there has been a dispute.
– And when are my honorable friends going to bring them before the Parliament? When there is a dispute?
– No, before there is a dispute.
– We have been legislating, or trying to legislate, and my honorable friend’s, assisted by Senator Matheson, wish to undermine the whole scheme of the Bill by inserting a provision which is to send all these disputes to political agitation.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that this Bill deals with all industrial matters in the Commonwealth ?
– My honorable friends ask the Committee to add to the clause a proviso that no action taken with reference to hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour shall be deemed to be of a political character. But that is the whole object of the Bill.
– But does it deal with all those questions throughout the Commonwealth ?
– We are not legislating for State arbitration bodies.
– We d’o not take away States rights.
– For goodness sake let us deal with the subject which is under the consideration pf this Parliament, and that is disputes which extend beyond the limits of a State. It is with these organizations only that we are dealing. We have said- in the Bill that when any dispute arises as to the ‘hours, terms, and conditions of labour, there is to be no poli tical agitation. You are not to have a political party founded on an agitation as to» those matters, but you are to go peacefully to the Court and have them settled. My honorable friend1 has misunderstood the whole purpose of the Bill. He is absolutelydriving a mine of the most deadly character under its whole scheme. I am sorry that he has moved the amendment, because either it is an idle and superfluous addition of words, or it means that every union may be a political organization so long as its foundation is to take action in respect of the hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour. That is impossible under the Bill ; but if it is possible, it is more mischievous than any amendment which has yet been suggested. My honorable friend asks what action can be taken except by a reference to the Court Of course, none. The Court is substituted for political agitations, and my honorable friends either want to destroy that or else they desire, by this insidious amendment, to make the Parliament a Court of Appeal, with all the mischiefs of political disturbance, from the Court of Arbitration. To my mind, no language is better fitted to prevent preference being given to a political organization than the language which is adopted in this clause. I thought that there was some foundation for the criticism about the words “require” the members of an organization to “ do anything of a political character.” But the first part of the proviso defines a body which is industrial and political as a body which permits the application of its funds to political purposes. No one can take exception to that. What does the second part of the proviso do ? If a man is forced by an endeavour to secure employment and his daily bread to go into a union, there ought to be nothing in its rules or binding decisions to require him, unless he so wills it, to do anything of a political character’. Such a man may be a conservative or a radical, and not a member of the Labour Party. He may disagree with a programme, or with a political agitation as to hours, or anything^ else, and he has a right to. say, “ I should not be compelled to join your organization and be bound by rules which may require me to do anything of a political character.”
– Would he belong to that union ?
– My honorable friend goes back to the’ point that we are not interfering with unions or organizations which may exist for purely political purposes, or for industrial, coupled with political purposes. All we say is, “ Before you can ask for preference ‘ ‘ - and we all know what that is - “you must drop your political platform.”
– Both party and industrial.
– What is a political platform ?
– There has been a good deal of confusion in the use of the word “politics” and the word “party.” I object tq the word “party.”
– Because it does not suit the honorable and learned senator.
– It suits me perfectly, but I object to it being held aloft as the only thing. What is the Labour Party ? Is it not a political party ? Is it not the political party which, by inference, honorable senators opposite have admitted is assisted and supported by these political unions?
– That is not the freedom for which we are fighting.
– My honorable friend must know that if we put in any words here covering political action, no matter how innocuous they may appear, there will be no checking the political action which might _be taken under them. They will be made a- pretext for political action of every kind. If we once admit that an organization may be political and yet be given preference, I do not care how we may limit its foundation, it will be political.
– What the honorable and learned senator proposes by the proviso is to stop political action of any kind.
– If I can I am going to keep organizations under this Bill free from all suggestion that they are political bodies if they are to be allowed to ask for preference. That will be done effectually by the proviso, but it will be the Court which will have to decide whether the particular action challenged is political. There honorable senators will see that we have provided an absolute safeguard. Politics are, of course, a perfectly innocent and most excellent pursuit, and some action might be taken which would not be. held by the Court to be action of a political character. In this connexion I should like honorable senators to listen to the definition of “ politics “ and “politician.” My objection to the use of the word “party “ is that when we are speaking of “politics” the term “party politics” is but a limitation of the word The word “politics” includes and involves party politics, but “ party politics “ does not exhaust the meaning of the word. Honorable senators opposite have reminded me that the platform of the Labour Party does not include the fiscal question. Suppose, for illustration, that some labour unions chose to make the fiscal question a plank of their platform, and they would of course choose free-trade.
Honorable Senators. - Oh !
– Then I withdraw that, and I say that they would choose protection. Surely that would be politics, but it would not be party politics.
– Yes, it would.
– It would not in the sense in which the term is used by honorable senators opposite, because the fiscal question is not a part of the platform of the Labour Party. The word “politics” covers more than Senator Matheson seems to think, and I am sure that when the honorable senator hears the’ definition of “ politics “ which I will bring under his notice he will withdraw the amendment, and will not attempt to send to another place an amendment which, from his own point of view, is a little one, and which from the point of view of honorable members in another place might be looked upon as too ridiculous to be seriously considered.
– The honorable and learned senator says in one breath that the amendment is ridiculous, and, in the next that it is absolutely destructive.
– It is either one or the other, and the honorable senator can choose between them. As the honorable senator views the amendment it is innocuous. As I view it, it is mischievous. I find that the word “politics” is defined in the following way: -
In a narrower and more usual sense the art or vocation of guiding or influencing the policy of a Government through the organization of a party among its citizens, including therefore, not only the efforts of government, but more, especially and often through the exclusion of ethical principles, the art of influencing public opinion, attracting and marshalling voters, and obtaining and distributing public patronage so far as the possession of offices may depend upon the political opinions or. political services of individuals ; hence, in a legal sense, the schemes and intrigues of political parties, or of cliques or of individual politicians, as: “The newspapers were full of politics.”
When we say that two men are talking politics we often mean that they are wrangling about some mere party question.
– We are prepared to accept that definition.
– Very good; then leave the Bill as it is, and we will have the Court to guide us.
– Who is the author of the definition quoted?
– A distinguished English writer, F. W. Robertson. Let us take now the definition of “ politician.” This is what is given -
One who occupies himself with politics; one who devotes himself to public affairs or to the promotion of the interests of a political party ; one who is practically interested in politics; in a bad sense, one who concerns himself with public affairs, not from patriotism or public spirit, but for his own profit or that of his friends, or of a clique or party.
And “ political,” the word used in the clause, is defined in this way -
Relating to or concerned in public policy and the management of the affairs of the State or nation ; of or pertaining to civil government or the enactment of laws and the administration of civil affairs ; as political action, political rights, a political system, political parties, a political officer.
– Is there any bad sense in that ?
– That shows how sweeping the clause is.
– It is intended to be sweeping, of course. There was no division on this proviso when introduced as an amendment’ in another place, and I think the House of Representatives acted wisely in accepting it. It is undoubtedly difficult to define action of a political character, and in my opinion the words of the proviso have been well chosen, because it would be impossible to deal with the matter better than it is dealt with here. The intention is to prevent preference being given to an organization which is industrial, if honorable senators please, but which is also political, which permits its funds to be used for political purposes, or requires, and that is tosay compels, any of its members to doanything of a political character.
– What does my amendmentsay?
– The honorable senator’s amendment simply adds to the clause words relating to the definition of ““industrial matters,” which after all are to be left to the Court, and which do not require, and ought not to be brought before, Parliament at all.
– The honorable and learned senator will pardon me. My amendment simply . provides that hours, conditions, and wages of labour shall not be held to come within any of the offensive headings which the honorable and learned senator has read from the dictionary definition of “politics.”
– These are not, offensive headings.
– I gathered from the tone of the honorable and learned’ senator that he considered them offensive.
– Not at all. I had no idea that Senator Matheson had so low an opinion of politics. I point out that the honorable senator’s proposed addendum is not required at all, as it refers only to pay, hours, and conditions of labour.
– Certainly we do require to emphasize the fact that these things are not to be regarded as matters of a political nature.
– We do not require a lot of unnecessary words, which can have no effect. The addition, if made, will lead to the implication that organizations may be political in some things, and that political action may be taken in respect of these matters, which, under the Bill, are to be dealt with by the Court, and which should be dealt with by the Court only, and should not be made the subject of a political movement or agitation. I hope the honorable senator will withdraw his amendment. He has endeavoured to convince me that it is a very little one, and its very triviality should prevent its further progress. But if effect is to be given to it, it will be mischievous, because it will convert organizations which are otherwise industrial into organizations with a political colour, and what that may lead to one can hardly foresee.
– One good result of the amendments suggested to this clause will be probably that we shall eventually discover the motive which prompted the insertion of this proviso. We were first told that the reason for it was that, without it, by giving preference to trade unionists, we should drive men into unions, compel them to vote for political parties to which they were opposed, and to contribute funds for political purposes in which they did not believe. But we find now that honorable senators opposite have shifted their ground. We were first of all told that there was no objection to unions taking political action for industrial purposes, and that it was only when they became party organizations that any objection could arise. We now learn from the Attorney-General that political action of every sort is objected to, even though it should be pf an industrial character. It is, in the opinion of honorable senators opposite, obnoxious, and should be prevented.
– Only with regard to the question of preference.
– It is a most insulting and degrading proviso.
– I take it for granted that it has reference to the question of preference.
– The honorable senator speaks as though it were a positive ban.
– It is a ban, when preference fs asked for. Preference will naturally be asked” for on every occasion by trade unionists, in order to safeguard their position, and to prevent them being boycotted. I therefore assume that we are dealing with what will be the normal condition of affairs. The AttorneyGeneral, in introducing the definition of “industrial matters,” made a very clever attempt to drag the Committee away from the point at issue. The definition of “ industrial matters” in this Bill merely means that where there is an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State, it can be settled by the Court, so far as it deals with the question defined in the interpretation of “ industrial matters “ ; but this Bill does not deal with the thousand and one questions which are covered by the term “industrial matters,” either in the States or in the Commonwealth. The Court will deal with them in an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of one State, so far as the parties apply to have them dealt with, but the Court, will go no further.
– The Court mav establish a common rule.
– Only on the application of the parties, and then the .Court in its award will deal with the particular industrial matters involved in the dispute; but that will not exhaust the term. If we take the case of a dispute in the shearing industry, the Court might make an award dealing with the hours, piece-work rates, and conditions of labour, but there is a condition of labour in this industry which the Court would not take into consideration. That is proved from the experience in New South Wales, where there is an arbitration law in force, with a greater scope than has this Bill. In that State it has been found necessary to bring in a special Bill to deal with the accommodation provided for shearers. As shearers have no choice but to accept the accommodation provided for them by their employers, the accommodation must be looked upon as a condition of their labour. That is a condition which in New South Wales the workers have only been able to improve by means of industrial political action,, taken through their union.
– There is a similar Bill before the Queensland Parliament at the present time.
– The Court will not hold that under this Bill conditions of employment cover the accommodation provided for shearers.
– I should think it would. Did the Court in New South Wales decide that those words did not cover accommodation?
– The Court in New South Wales has never been asked to decide the question.
– That shows that the workers do not think much about it.
– No; it shows that the parties concerned considered that they would get what they desired more effectively by legislation than by an award of the Court. I take another example, which will be admitted to be pertinent to this Bill. If we take the case of the Seamen’s Union, we have here men engaged in employment in which the accommodation provided for them must be regarded as a condition of their labour, because they have no choice but to accept it. How is it going to be regulated ? Is it by this Bill ? We know that it is not, and that it must be regulated bv a Navigation Bill.
– It might be dealt with by the Court; it is a condition of labour certainly.
– The honorable and learned senator must be perfectly well aware that the question of the . accommodation to be provided for seamen and the number of cubic feet of air to be allowed for each would be left by the Court to a Navigation Bill.
– If the navigation law deals with the matter, it will not be necessary for the Court to deal with it.
– Even if we had a navigation law passed, I venture to think that no Arbitration Court would take it upon itself, by an award under this Bill, to impose conditions with respect to the accommodation to be provided for seamen on vessels plying in ‘ Australian waters.’ I venture to say that the Attorney-General could be most strenuous in arguing that the Court should do nothing of the kind. Though the honorable and learned senator is strongly opposed to Senator Matheson’s amendment, he will not be so bold as to say that the Arbitration Court will make an award which might lead to the alteration o£ the accommodation provided for sailors on every ship on the Australian coast.
– It is within the power of the Arbitration Court.
– It is most improbable that the Court would make any such award.
– The Court must do its duty. It will not be dealt with by the Court if legislation deals with it.
– It will. We are given power under the Constitution to deal with all questions of navigation, and I am certain the Attorney-General will not contend that we should hand over our powers of legislation to an Arbitration Court, constituted under this Bill.
– Surely this Bill governs seamen?
– As to industrial matters, the honorable and learned senator knows very well that there are questions affecting seamen that are always dealt with by special legislation, and will be dealt with by special legislation if this Bill is passed. The Court will never take upon itself the legislative functions of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The honorable senator says then that there are certain terms and conditions of employment that are not governed by this Bill ?
– I say that the Bill does not cover all the conditions of labour, and that it is not intended to.
– Then there is a grave defect in the Bill.
– The honorable and learned senator may say that, but he knows that his own answer to a similar question must also be “ Yes.” My point is that, as we have other powers in the Constitution for dealing with seamen and shipping, it . is not likely that the Court would say that this Bill deliberately handed over to the Arbitration Court powers in that regard.
– Under the amendment of Senator Matheson, would not everything as to hours, conditions, and remuneration in regard to seamen be likely to be taken away from the Arbitration Court and handed over for political discussion ?
– Not at all, because the honorable and learned senator knows very well that .this is not a limitation of the powers of the Court. It lays down a rule of guidance for the Court.
– It lays down the lines upon which the Court shall work. Without the amendment, the seamen would be unable to agitate for what they consider to be proper cubic space for them on board vessels, and for other reforms which, though the agitations may be said to be political, are certainly not partisan in any sense. Then, again, some honorable senators seem to forget that in connexion with the principal industries of Australia there are certain allied trades. There are trades allied to the shearing and other industries which would never come directly under the scope of this measure. But the shearing industry itself, being bound to some extent by the conditions prevailing in those allied trades, is intensely interested in participating in political action to ameliorate their conditions of labour, their rates of remuneration, and their hours of employment. Senator Matheson’s amendment goes beyond the particular trades which are. organized, and which may come under an award of the Court-. It gives an organization power to take part in political action on the lines indicated in connexion with other allied trades which are, strictly speaking, outside its own trade. It enables an organization to take part in political action for the purpose of assisting those allied trades which are inseparably associated with its own. There may be an associated trade which cannot get the benefit of an award of the Court, and is not strong enough in itself to take political action. Its conditions, however, may have a great deal to do with the conditions prevailing in he trade that is working under an award of the Court. We know that there are many industries that are associated in that manner. We also know that the conditions prevailing in one trade to a certain extent determinen the conditions in other trades. Under this drastic proviso, if an allied trade is endeavouring to secure fair-play, a trade which was working under an award of the Court would not be able to come to its assistance, and to take part in what might be regarded as political action. It must be remembered that the Federal Arbitration Court does not touch occupations like those of the seamen and the shearers unless there is an Inter-State dispute. Senator Matheson’s amendment seems to recognise that there are questions upon which organizations might desire to take political action of that kind, and that if they were debarred a deliberate injustice would be done to them. Another point which has to be remembered is that under clauses 62, 63, and 64, if the Seamen’s Union, for example, were to say, “ We will not consent to pay the price for preference which we are asked to pay, and will not register,” then if there were a dispute between the seamen and their employers the Governor-General could proclaim their union an organization. They would be at once brought within the scope of the Bill, and compelled to give up all political action, because if they went into Court they would have to ask for preference unless they wished to sell’ themselves body and soul to their employers, and give the employers a weapon by means of which they could disband the union.
– Could that happen in the case of a powerful organization like the Seamen’s Union?
– It has happened in reference to far more powerful organizations than the Seamen’s Union. By means of the boycott employers have been able to break up unions.
– That is prevented by preference.
– But the price which we are asked to pay for preference is such that the seamen would prefer to remain outside. They would preferto retain their own liberty, and, what is perhaps the most powerful of all their weapons the right to agitate for better industrial conditions upon political lines.
– So they can. They can form other associations.
– But, even if they form themselves into separate organiza tions, the Governor-General can proclaim; their old organization an organization under this Bill.
– They can form themselves into a. purely political or-; ganization.
– The answer is that the Governor-General can proclaim the old organization, and compel them to bring their funds over with them.
– A political organization would not come under the Bill.
– Their political organization would be scattered’ to the four winds of heaven. It would remain outside the Bill. But the Governor-General could bring the old organization, robbed of all political power, under the Bill. Surely honorable senators have read clauses 62 to 64, and know that the Governor-General has power to proclaim any organization. If the Seamen’s Union said, “We do not think this Bill will be of any use to us, and we decline to register,” and if later on there was a dispute in the shipping trade, the Governor-General could proclaim the Seamen’s Union. Then what would happen would be this : If the rules of the union did not conform to the requirements of the measure, they would have to be altered. But there is something else which would have to go over with the union. The whole of its funds would go over with the organization proclaimed.
– Who says that the funds would go over?
– The funds are part of the organization. Does the honorable and learned senator think that they would not go over?
– I do not think they would. They would be ear-marked for certain purposes under the rules.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator know that under the law the officers of trade unions are made responsible for the funds of their unions, arid that the funds follow the organization ? If a union is proclaimed an organization under this Bill, it is not a skeleton organization that is proclaimed. The organization consists of the officers, the members the funds, and the property of the union.
– I do not think the , funds would go oyer, though. .
-The honorable and learned senator seems to argue that when the union was proclaimed the funds could be given away. What would become of them if they did not go over ?
– They would stay with the old organization.
– But the old organization would be proclaimed.
– The members of it would be. But that proclamation would not alter their rules as to the disposition of their funds.
– Once an organization comes within the scope of this measure its funds would go with it. The Bill provides for the recovery of penalties, and does the honorable and learned senator mean to say that the Registrar is going to see the funds disappear, they being the only security he has that the measure will be properly carried out?
– That is a good point ; but no funds would be transferred except for the purposes of this measure.
– Of course the funds would only be transferred for the purposes of this measure, but the Registrar would take very good care that they were not spirited away. I urge honorable senators to consider the fact that Senator Matheson’s proposal is a compromise. Personally, I do not think it goes far enough. I do not think it is quite fair. Senator de Largie’s proposal was a fair one. But, nevertheless, this compromise might very well be accepted. It prevents the funds of the unions from being used for party political purposes, but it gives the unions power to agitate upon political lines concerning questions within the scope of the amendment. Under the amendment there could be no coercion used against any workman on account of his political opinions. Every one knows that the whole of the members of a union are interested in conditions affecting their employment. There are scores of matters which could be raised upon which they would desire to take action. Without this amendment, unions would even be prevented from taking any part in connexion with the administration of industrial Acts affecting their trades. Not only could the Registrar do that with organizations which might register under the Act, but through the agency of the Governor-General, he could rob existing organizations of the rights which they have enjoyed, and which might have induced them to remain outside its provisions.
– Would there not be a recommendation by the President of the Court before the Governor-General acted ?
– That is some safeguard. .
– That does not tone down the provision, because the power could be used by the Government. Honorable senators opposite started the discussion on the preference clauses by saying that they were against coercion. But they are lending themselves to an instrument of coercion that will be infinitely stronger than anything which they have suggested the unions would be guilty of if there were no qualification of the preference. Those who object to coercion should be the first to accept the compromise offered by this amendment, because it provides that if any existing organization be proclaimed, although it will be deprived of the right to do political acts of a party character, still, it will have preserved to its members the right to take political action of an industrial character.
– I was rather amused at the earnestness and vigour with which the. Attorney-General dealt with the amendment after calling it only a little thing. If it be so little in his view, there was no great necessity for him to get excited.
– It was Senator Matheson who first used that expression. It was little in his mind, but not in that of the Attorney-General.
– I am rather surprised at an honorable senator with the good judgment and lengthy experience of Senator Playford, succumbing to the sophistries of the Attorney-General ; because he knows how the ability of the honorable and learned senator enables him to make out that black is white. We on this side were quite prepared to leave the regulation of preference to the Court. We did not wish the granting of preference to be restricted by any conditions with respect to either political action or social action. We were quite prepared to allow the Court to deal with the circumstances as they arose, and to grant or refuse preference as it thought fit. But there is a persistent endeavour to deprive organized labour of the right to take political action of any description when it wishes to get the benefits of this legislation. It is admitted by a majority of the Committee that for the protection of organized labour preference is really necessary. So far as the granting of preference is concerned, we were willing to leave the Court untrammeled ; but we were defeated. We have to thank Senator Matheson for the very reasonable view he has taken. There are one hundred and one questions which interest organized labour, but which do not come within the scope of this measure. Senator Pearce has dealt with them comprehensively ; but there is another point of view which I desire to submit. Senator Playford has said, “ You need not be alarmed. You can have your political organizations, your social organizations, and your industrial organizations, and you can also have a special organization to be registered under the. Act.”
– Hear, hear.
– It must be recollected that in Australia, as in other countries, the working classes are not all bank managers. It is quite sufficient for them to contribute to one industrial organization. For the purposes of insuring economy they wish that organization to be of as comprehensive a character as possible. If, however, they had to contribute to an organization for political purposes, to a benefit association, and to an organization to be registered under the Act, they could not meet the demands on their miserable wages. The result would be that there would be no organization, and the Act would be a dead letter. The AttorneyGeneral has said that the Bill deals with every possible contingency in connexion with industrial work, whether social or political. By his specious arguments, he has led Senator Playford to think so. I believe that the intention of the latter is to be fair to every class ; but if he will only look at the last portion of the clause, he will see that the members of an organization are not to be permitted to take political action of any kind. Now what is the object of an industrial organization? It is not formed simply for the purpose of dealing with differences of opinion which may arise between employers and employe’s. . It is formed for the purpose of improving the social and industrial conditions of its members, and to secure as fair terms as possible in the various industries. Senator Pearce has pointed out what is likely to occur in connexion with the Australian Workers’ Union and the Federated Seamen’s Union. If any question has agitated the minds of the working classes, particularly in the building trade during the last ten or fifteen years, it has been the need of a Workmen’s Lien Bill, to prevent an unprincipled speculator from mortgaging everything he has to a Christian bank manager, whowill not part with a cent of that which he has acquired, even although he may know that hundreds of working men have had to go without their wages.
– I am quite in touch with the honorable senator there.
– Will the honorable senator vote for the amendment?
– I am in favour of workmen having a preference in regard to their wages as against other creditors.
– Is not a question affecting the industrial welfare of the community a political question ? The Arbitration Court could not deal with a dispute in any matter which might arise under a Workmen’s Lien Act. If the Bill be passed without some qualification, such as the amendment provides, it will be impossible for any industrial organization, asking for preference, to move in that direction, or to spend one penny for the purpose of promoting such legislation. Honorable senators on the other side want trade unionists to spend money in getting up an association for the purpose of advocating for such matters as the enactment of a Workmen’s Lien Bill. Is it not of vast importance to a workman and his family that a measure should be passed for the purpose of giving some compensation to aworkman who has met with a serious accident, or, in the event of his death, to his widow and family? If this amendment be not inserted no legislation of that description could be promoted or assisted by an organization registered under the Act if they asked for preference. 1 could point out a hundred and one other cases of that kind. Take theFederated Seamen’s Union. For the last fifty years no question has been of more interest to the seafaringclass than that of the depth to which a ship should be immersed. But in the absence of the amendment, which Senator Matheson wishes to insert in the clause, the Federated Seamen’s Union would be powerless to spend a penny or take a single act in the direction of endeavouring to secure the passage of a Load Line Bill. In other parts of the world there are a summer load line and a winter load line, but on the coast of Australia there is only one load line, and sometimes very great difficulty is experienced in navigating vessels round the coast. If the
Federated Seamen’s Union wished to secure the enactment of a winter load line, as well as a summer load line, and took the necessary political action in the absence of this amendment, they could claim no preference from the Arbitration Court.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia. - I propose to deal briefly with a few of the remarks made by the AttorneyGeneral in connexion with this matter. The honorable and learned senator considered my amendment superfluous. He has said that if it is the little thing I consider it to be, it is already provided for under the heading of “industrial matters,” and’ that these topics will be dealt with by the Court.
– I said that the Court is constituted for the express purpose of dealing with these matters.
– And therefore the contention is that the Court would deal with them. The Attorney-General has overlooked the fact that my argument was addressed to developments that takes place under the terms of the Bill. The GovernorGeneral is to be entitled to proclaim existing unions, and oblige them to become organizations under this Bill.
– And he can make their rules.
– And he can also dictate their rules.
– No; it is the Court that does that.
– I find that the honorable and learned senator is right; but my point is the same. Whether the rules are prescribed by the Governor-General or by the court, they are prescribed compulsorily, and they will debar existing organizations from exercising the political rights which they already possess.
– The honorable and learned senator must always split that hair. I should have added “ if they claim preference.”
SenatorSir Josiah Symon. - The honorable senator conclusively showed the other day that the clauses to which he refers will not deprive existing unions of any rights whatever. They merely provide that they may be proclaimed organizations for the purposes of this Act.
– That is exactly what I said just now. They may be proclaimed organizations, and they must register new rules under which, if they wish to obtain preference, they will be debarred from exercising privileges and rights which they already possess.
– Only because they are registered under this Bill as organizations for the purposes of the Bill.
– I agree with the honorable and learned senator if he will add the words “ compulsorily registered and against their own wish.”
– What does that matter? The honorable senator showed the other day that those clauses would only be inforced in great emergency.
– I did say so, and I now frankly admit that I was mistaken. I say now that those clauses have a much larger application than I imagined when I spoke at the time to which the AttorneyGeneral’ refers.
– Which clauses?
– Clauses 62, 63, and 64. It is true that the Bill provides; that the Court shall deal with such matters in regard to any dispute spreading from one State to another, but these unions or organizations have other duties which they at present exercise in the different States. The Attorney-General seems to lose sight of that fact. I fail to see anyreason why, having registered under this Bill, they should be compulsorily debarred from exercising such rights as the people of the various States choose to give them for purely industrial purposes.
– Then what the honorable senator desires to do is to strike the clause out.
– The AttorneyGeneral knows perfectly well that I do not desire to strike the clause out.
– I am aware of that, but that is what the honorable senator’s argument suggests.
– On the contrary, I wish to limit the political action of these unions to the three specific matters I have mentioned, and’ to deprive them of the right which they have at present of dealing with such questions as free-trade and protection, and other political questions quite outside industrial matters. These unions have rights existing under the various States laws, and if they are proclaimed under this Bill they will be prevented from exercising those rights as they can exercise them at present in the various States.
– How would the honorable senator’s amendment help them ?
– It would help them in this way : Under the proviso to this clause as it stands they will be. prevented from applying their funds to political purposes, or from requiring their members to do anything. of a political character. It is a matter of doubt whether matters in connexion with pay and the hours and conditions of labour are political questions, and my amendment is intended to clearly indicate that the Court is not to hold that these are political questions iri connexion with which the unions will be debarred from taking action. The contention of the AttorneyGeneral is that the Bill provides for these matters to such an extent that my amendment is quite unnecessary. The honorable and learned senator contends that the Court will take cognizance of these questions under the Bill.
– That -is one of the objects of the Bill.
– I do not dispute that. But I say that, apart from disputes which spread from one State to another, unions have functions to perform in the various States, and they will be debarred from performing those functions in so far as they deal with the three items to which I have referred, unless the proviso is amended as I suggest.
– Not a bit of it.
– I find that what I Jack is the power possessed by exSenator Harney, who was able to. deal with ex-Senator O’Connor’s arguments in such a way that he could not reply. That was because ex-Senator Harney was a lawyer. The members of the Committee know exactly what I desire, but I cannot deal with the Attorney-General, because he is a lawyer and I am a layman, and the honorable and learned senator is able, apparently, to rebut my arguments, when he really does nothing of the kind.
– Ex-Senator Harney was not the equal of the honorable senator in addressing convincing arguments to the Committee.
– The ex-senator was of the very greatest use to me in this Chamber, and he continually met ex- Senator O’Connor, when leader of the Senate. I lack his eloquence to convince the present Attorney-General.
– What the honorable senator lacks is the same material as ex-Senator Harney had. With equally good material the honorable senator would be equally effective; but he cannot make bricks without straw.
– I maintain that with the assistance, of the present AttorneyGeneral and ex-Senator Harney, we did good work on the Tariff, and with verv much worse material than I am using now, we were able to win. I hope I have convinced the Committee that these unions, which are liable to be proclaimed as organizations under this Bill, have duties which they at present perform quite outside the scope of this Bill, and which it is my desire they should continue to perform. I could give many examples qf political action with which this Bill does not deal, and which it is eminently desirable that organizations should be in a position to take: There is one piece of legislation with which we have been materially concerned in Western Australia during the last month or two, and that is the Truck Act. That is an Actdealing with a condition of labour altogether outside the scope of this Bill.
– Does it’ relate to hours and conditions of labour?
– Undoubtedly it relates to a condition of labour.
– Then it can be dealt with under this Bill.
– The honorable and learned senator is referring again to the definition of “ industrial matters “ ; but he will find that not one of the powers given the Court under this Bill can possibly embrace a Truck Act. I shall stick’ to that, because I have looked up the matter, and my contention in this respect is unassailable. Will the Attorney-General say that these organizations should be debarred from agitating for such a reform as the passing of a Truck Act ? If the honorable and learned senator makes that contention, I venture to say that very few people outside this Committee will support him.
– I think the’ honorable senator would, if he listened to the arguments, and if the conditions to which he refers mean the same thing as the conditions referred to in this Bill.
– I have placed the honorable and learned senator iri a difficulty on the question of conditions. One of the most amusing things which have occurred during the debate was when the honorable and learned senator told the Committee that I had practically quoted the terms already used in the definition of “ industrial matters,” and then proceeded to read those terms. The honorable and learned senator read “hours, pay,” terms, and conditions” - and then he hesitated before he read the words “ of employment, “ because “terms and conditions of employment” in no sense mean “conditions of labour.” The terms and conditions of employment are the terms and conditions on which people are employed, whilst “ conditions of labour “ is a phrase used to describe the conditions under which labour is performed.
– Who is splitting hairs now?
– The expression “conditions of labour” is a well understood term, covering such matters as ventilation in mines, the cubic space of air allotted to each workman in a factory, and so forth ; whilst “ terms and conditions of employment “ refers to the terms and conditions imposed by the agreement under which labour is employed. There are many matters connected with the mining industry, with which I am best acquainted, which could not be dealt with under this Bill. The question of ladder-ways in a shaft, the qualifications of the engineer engaged in driving the hoisting gear, ventilation, the use of cyanide in such a way as to prevent the fumes being deleterious to the miners, are questions which could never come before the Arbitration Court.
– If they are conditions of employment, why not?
– This Court would have no right to prohibit the use of cyanide in mines.
– It might do so if its use was disputed.
– No such dispute could arise, because these are matters that are dealt with by State, and not by Federal legislation, and the manner in which cyanide is used in a mine could never be the subject of a dispute spreading from one State to another. The matters to which I have referred are dealt with under States Mining Acts.
– If a dispute arose in connexion with any of those matters, surely it could be considered under this Bill ?
– I remind Senator Fraser that this Bill deals only with disputes which extend beyond the limits of one State, and the matters to which I have referred are dealt with under States Mining Acts. These matters of ventilation in mines and factories, affecting the health of employes, are solely dealt with by States legislation. A dispute about them could not spread from one State to another. Therefore, such matters would not come within the scope of this Bill.
– Then why put them under the operation of the Bill?
– No one proposes to do so. But is it proposed to give the organizations that are registered under this Bill power to agitate in the interests of all their members for the improvement of industrial conditions? We propose to give them power to agitate in the States for the improvement of State industrial legislation. That power would be taken away from them unless we added these three specific items to this prohibitory clause, always assuming that the organizations desire preference.
– I do not agree with the first part of the honorable senator’s proposition at all.
– The honorable and learned senator is entitled to disagree. I am simply laying my views before the Senate, and it is for honorable senators to hold the balance between us. I have addressed myself to the one argument that the Attorney-General raised against my amendment. He has said practically that it is redundant and unnecessary as an addition to the clause, because the Court already has the power. I have endeavoured to show to the Committee that while the Court has this power in the case of disputes extending from one State to another, it has no power to deal with an enormous number of social questions which affects the States only, and which never can, under any conceivable conditions, come within the scope of this Bill.
– I should not have taken the trouble to speak again on this question had it not been for the repeated assertions of the Attorney-General and of SenatorClemons, who seem to think that there is no difference whatever between conditions of employment and conditions of labour. If the Committee will only consider for a moment the conditions which surround a workman engaged in his employment, they will see that conditions of labour are entirely different from conditions of employment. Let me take a single case to illustrate my point. Under the Coal Mines Regulation Act in New South Wales, certain conditions of labour are specified. But it does not specify any condition of employment. It says in one section that a certain amount of air shall travel into the places where miners are working - that the miners shall have 150 cubic feet of air per minute. That is a condition of labour. But the conditions of employment are that the coal-miners shall produce one ton of coal at so much per ton - 4s. or 3s., or whatever the price may be at a particular time. It will therefore be seen that conditions of labour and conditions of employment are entirely different. While we have the power under this Bill to deal with questions affecting conditions of employment, we have no control whatever over conditions of labour. The matters to which I refer as conditions of labour come within the scope of Mines Acts or Factories Acts, which are within the domain of States legislation. We cannot possibly deal with them, because the Constitution does not give us power. Our powers are clearly set forth in the Constitution. Undoubtedly, Factories Acts and Mines Acts are retained in the hands of theStates Parliaments.
– If there is a dispute as to work in a coal mine, and it spreads into another State : could not it be dealt with under this Bill ?
– Absurd !
– It depends upon the nature of the dispute.
– I am assuming that there is no State legislation.
– There can be no possible Inter-State dispute over such a matter as the amount of air space for each miner in a mine.
– Then this Bill would not apply at all.
– It would not apply to conditions of labour.
– Then we need noi trouble about that.
– But this Bill would prevent the workmen from agitating in a political way to secure reforms in a State law.
– Not at all, because they would not be an organization under this measure.
– The Committee has not given due consideration to the position which a union will be in when it endeavours to register. We have had Senator McGregor’s definition of the matter, and I am coming round to his way of thinking. Evidently the Attorney-General is gradually coming to the same conclusion. I fail to understand him if he is not. It is necessary to remember that we have no control over factories and mines legislation affecting conditions of labour. Take a factory in Melbourne. Suppose children were being employed at a very tender age - a condition which I am pleased to know does not exist in this city - and a political agitation was got up for the purpose of limiting their employment. The .moment an organization registered under this Bill entered into such a political agitation, it would place itself outside the law. So that it is clear that conditions of labour are quite distinct from conditions of employment, as Senator Matheson has contended.
– My honorable friend, Senator Matheson, has put forward certain arguments in favour of his amendment in a very clear way. But I do not think that they are convincing. The very foundation of his arguments is wrong. He admits that he wishes to limit the political actions of unions, but he goes on in his exceptions to use three terms which, to my mind, cover almost the whole area of political action, so far as trade unions are concerned. What is there for them to agitate about outside of hours of labour, conditions of ‘ employment, and wages ?
– Then the honorable and learned senator thinks that trade unions should not agitate about those matters?
– If they desire to have preference in employment over their fellow-men, they have no business .to enter into political agitation with regard to these matters. Does my honorable friend think that it is possible to draw the line, and say to unionists that they can enter upon political agitation on a certain side of politics, but the moment they cross the line they put themselves out of Court? Are the labour parties of this country going to be bound by a limitation of that sort? The proposal is hopelessly impossible. Look at the eight hours movement. It took years to accomplish. We may have an agitation for a Seven Hours Act before long. We may have an agitation for a new Minimum Wage Act, for a new Factories Act, or for a new Act affecting wages or conditions of employment in some other direction. While Senator Matheson thinks that this is a good compromise, I say that there is no such tiling as compromise in regard to this provision. It is utterly impossible to draw the line. The three words used by Senator Matheson, hours, conditions, and wages, cover almost every ground of political action on the part of trade unionists which it is worth while to consider.
– The honorable and learned senator thinks that the employer ought to control all these matters?
– Where did the honorable senator get that unjust idea from? I do not. say that the employer should control them absolutely. I should be content to leave the unionists at perfect liberty to exercise (heir political rights, and carry on their agitations by means of their organizations in their own way ; but if they come and ask for what I consider to be a gross wrong against their fellow-men then I say they will have to give up politics for the purposes of this measure. As I read the Bill, Senator McGregor is to a great extent right as to the rules of the organizations under the schedule. There will have to be a federation between the different unions in the different States, or there will have to be some officer going round in the different States arranging with the unions to register under the Bill; and then there are certain rules which must be made in accordance with the schedule to bring the organizations under the requirements of the law. Every organization that registers will have to do so for the purposes of this measure only. But now my honorable friend, Senator Matheson, says that the registration shall not’ be for the purposes of the Bill only, but also for the purpose of carrying on political agitation as it has been carried on from the beginning, because the three words which he includes in his amendment would practically permit the organizations to agitate with regard to the whole of the matters in which, as unions, they are now interested politically. Surely the honorable senator sees that.
– These three matters do not embrace the whole of politics.
- Senator Matheson’s position is that the unions are to be perfectly free to. agitate politically with regard to the three matters mentioned in his amendment, though they are not to agitate politically with regard to other matters. I am afraid that the political questions, outside those three matters, which the unions would desire to agitate about, are so few as to be like comparing the honorable. senator’s farthings with his sovereigns. ‘ Senator Pearce, in an interjection, said, “ That is not the freedom we are fighting for.” I will not address myself to the honorable senator, or I might use words that might be considered impertinent, butI think I saw something like the same words in one of the Labour Party’s journals last Friday. It was stated there that what the Labour Party was fighting for was freedom of preference for unionists. Honorable senators opposite are fighting not for the freedom of the large majority of the working classes, because they for some reason or other will not join their organizations. I deny to my honorable friends opposite the right to claim that they are fighting for freedom or for liberty. I claim that two-thirds of the workmen are not in the unions, and therefore have no interest in the principle of preference to unionists. As far as I can see, honorable senators are fighting for power to compel two-thirds of the workers of Australia to join their unions, or to suffer a loss of employment. That is not freedom as I understand it. You may ask for liberty to kill a man. I might ask for liberty to put my hand in Senator Pearce’s pocket, but I do not suppose that he would call that true freedom. It is not freedom to rob a man or to deprive him of employment.
– Is that reasoning?
– I am not reasoning, but giving a plain statement of facts. At the time of the French Revolution the guillotine was used under the guise of fraternity and brotherly love, and it seems to me that freedom and liberty are used in much the same sense now. Senator Pearce lias made the most of clauses 62 to 64. But no fair argument can be based upon those clauses. The law is not quite such a “hass” as Mr. Bumble made out; because whenever you pass an Act of Parliament under which you give a man a right to institute proceedings before a Court, the law takes care that the Act shall not be rendered nugatory because the defendant does not appear, or because you cannot serve him. There would be a gross omission from this Bill, for which the draftsman or the Attorney-General- would be to blame; if there were no means of bringing the defendant before the Court. The clauses referred to are simply for that purpose. If either one side or the other will not register, these clauses give power to compel them to register. Suppose the great Engineers’ Society, or the Seamen’s’ Union, for whom this measure has. been principally brought forward, and to whom I believe it is particularly applicable, would not register under the measure. If they did not that would prove conclusively that the desire was to make the Act so much waste paper. Are
Ave to assume that, notwithstanding the’ great outcry there has been for an Arbitration Act, and for industrial peace, the principal organizations will not register when this Bill is passed? Are we to build up a set of arguments on that slight foundation? Suppose that the Seamen’s Union did not register, and wished not only to evade the Court, but to stop the whole commerce of the Commonwealth by not doing their work. Then if the employers liked to bring the case before the Court, the Governor-General could proclaim the members of the Seamen’s Union an organization for the purposes of the Act. Do my honorable friends think thai: the Court would interfere with its rules on other matters? Do they suppose that the Court would confiscate its funds? The funds would not be transferred from the union to the organization ; but they might be applied to pay a fine, because otherwise the Act would be nugatory. The trade unionists would not be robbed of their political rights. The union would merely be proclaimed an organization for the purposes of the Act, and for no other purposes. If the organization thus constituted would not set to work and frame rules, the Governor-General, could proclaim that schedule B in the Act should be the rules. That would not do away with the old union. If they did not want preference, and did not register, they would not have preference. All their old political agitations could go on from morning till night. Therefore, two-thirds of Senator Matheson’s arguments are beside the mark. He sars “ I recognise that trade unions have certain duties to perform with regard to the. States. They have certain rights and privileges with regard to States industrial matters, which have nothing to do with Federal matters, and they would be prevented from discharging those duties if this amendment were not made.” There is no reason why trade unionists should not carry on political agitations if they like, provided they do not ask. for preference. Cannot my honorable friends opposite see that preference is of very great advantage?
– The honorable and learned senator comes back to. that point every time.
– Of course I do, because my honorable friends opposite evade it. Judging by their interjections, and speeches, it will go forth to the Commonwealth that we are trying to make political outcasts of trade unionists. It is because of all this rant and cant that I repeat my arguments. If my honorable friends want preference, they are bound down not to take part in politics. Let me express my astonishment at what came out this afternoon from Senator O/Keefe. I understood in the first instance that this was a Bill to put an end to strikes, and give us peace. Undoubtedly it has a good object ; but we know from the leaders in another place that as a mode of settling industrial disputes, it will be regarded as so much waste paper, unless preference be given to unionists. It is now stated by the leaders of the Labour Party that as regards putting an end to strikes, the Bill has lost all its significance and importance. The whole desire is that under cover of its provisions, trade unionists shall get a legal preference over non-unonists. The Labour Party stands before the Commonwealth with that issue to which I shall try to keep them. I shall not allow them to say that we are trying to make political outcasts of trade unionists. We are doing nothing of the kind ; we are actuated by a spirit of justice and freedom, and we do not intend to enact any conditions which mean exactly the opposite.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator think I was right when I used the term “political outcasts”?
– That is a very good electioneering cry. If my honorable friends desire the Bill to pass, they know that it will become law. If they do not want the Bill to pass, they know perfectly well that they have only to adhere to the provisions relating to domestic servants and agricultural labourers, and at the next election, [’ suppose the electors will be asked, “ Are the unionists to be political outcasts” ? That will not be a fair and honest way of putting the issue before the country. This amendment is not a fair compromise, because it includes all the trade union politics which are worth troubling about. The only way to settle this matter is to make every organization register under the Act, and for the purposes of the Act only.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).Seeing that the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Government, will not accept the amendment, it is incumbent upon him, I think; to put a definition of the word “ political “ in the Bill.
– We have just appointed a Court for the purpose of dealing with that question.
– So that the Court might have something to go upon.
– But my honorable friends objected to me putting in a definition of “majority.”
– We have continually complaints from the public as to the vagueness of Acts of Parliament. I have no doubt that lawyers in the Chamber and lawyers outside are anticipating a very rich harvest of fees if this provision be enacted. The Attorney-General deliberately refuses to make this a clear Bill.
– I think it is perfectly clear as it is.
– What does political mean?
– We all know what it means. When my honorable friend goes up to Queensland and stumps the country he knows what it means.
– Let us take the definition which the honorable and learned senator read. According to the American dictionary, the word “ political “ means anything pertaining to the government of a country. The position is one of the most extraordinary I have ever experienced. Here we have a Parliament professedly anxious to encourage the settlement of industrial disputes in a peaceful fashion. The very essence of this Bill is preference to unionists ; without preference there will be no organization ; without organization there can be no reference to the Court; and without a reference to the Court any disputes which might arise would be settled in the good old fashion with the bludgeon and other barbarous weapons. Preference to unionists is really the key-stone of the arch of this Bill, if Senator Dobson is really anxious to promote peace, it is not absolutely necessary that preference should be given to unionists without reservation.
– I am willing to give preference to the members of an organization who register for the purposes of the Act.
– Has Senator Dobson read the remarks of Mr. Justice Cohen on “ Preference to Unionists “ ? If not, I will quote them for him. The Age, of 1 6th November, contained the following report : -
ARBITRATION COURT AWARDS.
President on Preference to Unionists. Wagesof Draymen and Carters.
In the Arbitration Court to-day judgment was given in the long-standing industrial dispute between the Trolley, Draymen, and Carriers’ Union and the Master Carriers’ Association, and in all respects, except preference to unionists, the Court was unanimous.
The President said that he and Mr. Smith (employees’ representative) were of opinion that preference of employment should be given to unionists. One of the principles of the Arbitration Act was collective bargaining as far as industrial unions were concerned. Therefore he considered that when an industrial union fairly and practically represented an industry as far as the employees were concerned, preference should be given to unionists. Another reason which actuated him was that industrial unions of employees incurred all the expense and trouble in preparing and submitting their case to the Court, and, he assumed, obtained conditions more satisfactory to the employees than existed before the submission of the dispute. Without this preference all encouragement would disappear. Within certain limits, unless preferencewere given to unionists, he feared that industrial unionism would become a thing of the past. In the minds of some people that might be considered a good thing, but he did not accept that as the declared will of the people of the country.
-Col. Gould. - That is on the construction of that Act, which says that the Court may direct preference to be given to unionists.
- Mr. Justice Cohen has had a very lengthy experience in dealing with trade disputes, and he deliberately says that preference to unionists is the key-stone of the arch of arbitration.
– “Within certain limits,” he says.
- Mr. Justice Cohen says that if preference be taken away there will be ho encouragement to trade unionists to bring their cases before the Court, and that if they do not come before the Court with their disputes there will be left only the old barbarous method of a strike.
– But we have given preference.
– On that occasion the employers’ representative made a little speech, which I shall quote -
Mr. Wright (employers’ representative), in the course of his dissent, referred to the utmost good feeling existing between the employers and employed, and said the evidence showed nothing to justify the claim to the exclusive right of employment in this particular industry. He could not, therefore, in equity and good conscience, assent to that portion of the judgment granting preference of employment to members of the claimant union.
I wish to specially direct the attention of honorable senators to the principle of this Bill, namely, that every industrial dispute shall be settled by arbitration. In order to carry out their desire to promote this method of settling disputes they must give every possible encouragement to organizations. That is the price which they have to pay for peace. A great amount of money has been lost through strikes, and very great suffeiing has been brought to the doors of both employers and employes by industrial disputes. To avoid all this loss and suffering, this peaceful method of settling difficulties between employers and workmen has been devised. If the Act be not to our liking we can ignore the Arbitration Court.
– But you cannot strike.
– It may be that, through the law courts, the capitalists will gain a few victories over us, as was done in Great Britain, but within a very short time the unionists of Australia will find a means of getting past the Act and capturing the Parliament, which can make rules and regulations for every industry, and which will be, as compared with this measure, as a steam-roller is to a wheelbarrow. That is the alternative which, in all sincerity, I place before honorable senators who are opposed to making this a workable measure. Do they court trouble; do they court more and more agitation; do they court a struggle to the very death? If they do let them emasculate the measure as they are doing. Let them ham-string the Bill, as they will do if this clause be retained. The Attorney-General reminds me of an Eastern potentate of whom I read in my youth. A veritable ogre captured a number of persons, cast them into dungeons, and at last had the good grace to say that they were at liberty. The prison doors were opened, the people were led outside, but they were immediately hamstrung, so that liberty to them was a mere fiction. That is exactly the position of the Attorney-General and the Government with regard to this measure. They say, in effect to the Labour Party, “You have been clamouring for conciliation and arbitration. Very well, we will give it to you, but we shall put a provision into the measure.
– We did notput it in.
– I do not care who put it in.
– The Labour Party put it in.
– The Government are supporting it now. We are not supposed to discuss what was done in another place.
– I thought that perhaps the honorable senator might have overlooked that fact.
– But the Labour Party did not put it in.
– I am not very well versed in the history of the Bill. I do not care two straws who put it in.
– The AttorneyGeneral knows that the Labour Party did not put it in; it was carried by one vote.
– It is not acceptable to the Labour Party here, and therefore we are doing our best to secure its elimination. This provision, and indeed the whole measure, reminds me of another old story which I read in my youth. Honorable senators have all read the fable of “The Fox and the Stork.” They will remember that the fox. being a very cunning gentleman, invited the stork to dinner, and had the dinner laid out on broad shallow plates, so that the stork, with his long bill, could eat nothing. The fox, taking advantage of that fact, gobbled up the whole. I suppose that Reynard thought he had stolen a march upon the stork. In this case the Government is the fox, and the Labour Party is the stork; and, just as the stork of the fable got back on the fox, it is more than probable that the Labour Party will get back on the Government, if this measure is passed in its present form. I listened carefully to the speech of the Attorney-General. I confess that it was a very able one, and no doubt convinced his supporters.
– And himself.
– I think not. The honorable and learned senator is too acute to be convinced by sophistry of that kind. There is no doubt it was very able sophistry, but still it was sophistry all the time. The honorable and learned senator directed the attention of Senator Matheson to the definition of “industrial matters” in the interpretation clause, and said that it covered the whole thing. I do not pretend to be able to say whether it does or not, but the amendment proposed by Senator Matheson would undoubtedly make the clause before us very much clearer than it is at present, would do away with a great amount of litigation, and would also remove a great deal of unnecessary heart-burning, because, rightly or wrongly, the unionists of Australia will consider thatthis proviso is aimed at their existence. Suppose that, previous to a dispute, some union had passed a resolution affirming the desirability of a legal eight-hours day. Would that be deemed tobe political action? I suppose it would, because a legal eight-hours day could not be enforced except by an Act of Parliament, and if an Act of Parliament should be the result of a resolution passed by an industrial body, that resolution would immediately be given a political significance. In the case I have instanced the union would at once be deprived of preference under this Bill, and would not care to take the trouble to bring any case before the Court. If honorable senators opposite are at all desirous of promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, they will not insist on this proviso. I am not sure that the proviso is constitutional. I should like to hear the lawyers on that point. The Constitution gives every man and every organization of men the right to take part in the government of the country. Not only so, but every good citizen is expected to take an interest in the government of the country in which he lives.
– As an individual.
– And as a member of an organization. The honorable senator is aware that organizations are very much more powerful than are any individuals. He is himself closely connected with very powerful financial organizations.
– Their members exercise the franchise as individuals.
– Why should we penalize men for exercising the political power which the Constitution has conferred upon them?
– The honorable senator should not forget that we propose to give unionists preference.
– I have pointed out that without preference to unionists we cannot settle disputes by arbitration. If we do away with preference, this Bill becomes a dead letter. I have nodoubt the honorable senator desires that it should.
– Hear, hear.
– Some candid opponent says outright that he does not want this Bill. This proviso is the stiletto which is intended to stab it to the heart, and I believe it will do so very effectively. I ask Senator Fraser to say what earthly good the measure will be without preference to unionists ? Yet unionists are being told that they will not get preference unless they abandon all their political rights as unionists.
– They will continue to possess their political rights.
– It is absolutely impossible for any union to steer clear of the provisions of this Bill with respect to political action; whilst, if there is to be no preference given, there will be no organization. Why should the members of a union fight for better conditions for men who will not enter the union, when they know perfectly well that after the battle has been fought and the victory won, they will reap no benefit from it, but, on the contrary, will be penalized?
– Senator de Largie has said that unionists have fought in years past for better conditions, without preference.
– Butthey have had the strike as a weapon to insure that they would not be victimized.
– This Bill is introduced professedly for the purpose of doing away with strikes. I can say for the Labour Party that it has always been in favour of the peaceful settlement of disputes, and I am sorry that I am compelled to add that our opponents have just as consistently been opposed to it. They have always believed in the mailed fist. They have always said in effect, if not in so many words, “ Let us starve these people out ; letus scourge them with the whip of starvation ; and let them see their wives and little ones famishing before their eyes.”
– The honorable senator is saying what he knows to be incorrect.
– I am extremely sorry to be compelled to say that I am giving utterance only to what I know to be perfectly correct.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that any body of men desires that women and children should starve ?
– Either that or that their workmen should submit to their terms. If they have not expressed themselves in just those words, I have stated exactly what the actions of employers’ associations have meant in many cases. We wish to do away with all that sort of thing. We desire that disputes shall be settled in a rational fashion, and for that purpose preference to trade unionists must be given without any qualification. That is the demand of the Labour Party. If the Attorney-General will not agree to Senator Matheson ‘s amendment, which is a very fair compromise, we must hold out for preference without qualification or no Bill, because this Bill will be absolutely useless to the people of Australia unless preference is granted to unionists. We must consider this clause in connexion with clauses 62, 63 and 64, because if the employers register, and the employes refuse to do so, and a dispute arises, the GovernorGeneral may proclaim the employes’ organization an organization under the Bill. That will bring it immediately under the operation of the Bill, whether the employes desire it or not, and ?hen the members of the organization and the organization itself will be liable to all the pains and penalties set out in the Bill. We have come here to a most peculiar position. It appears to me that the Labour Partv is deliberately invited to walk into a trap, to go into a blind alley from which there is no escape. We are deliberately invited by our opponents to place ourselves in a position in which we shall be absolutely at the mercy of the employers’ organizations, the Governor-General, and the Court. That being the case, it behoves us to be verv careful in what we do. This measure as it stands is not calculated to promote industrial peace. The provisions we are now discussing are more likely to give rise to bitter feelings of antagonism than to promote industrial amity and concord. What will the thousands of unionists throughout Australia think of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament who deliberately deprive them of their political rights as unionists. I do not know whether honorable senators opposite are in touch with public opinion. As some of them secured a large number of votes when elected, I presume that they are to a greater or less extent, and if they are they must be making some terrible mistakes, because in Queensland the great majority of unionists think more of their political rights than of anything else. They look on the man who attempts to deprive them of those rights as their most deadly enemy. That is how they will view the members of this Committee and the Parliament of the Commonwealth if the proviso we are now discussing is placed in this Bill. They will say, “What, deprive us of our political rights? Declare that, as men banded together for our own advancement, we cannot even pass a resolution asking the State Parliament to get us better conditions without being deprived of preference under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill? This is a tyranny worse than that of Russia.”
– That is a little strong.
– They do not pretend to give people political rights in Russia, but here we act the hypocrite. We give men political rights with one hand, and we filch those rights away from them with the other. Is not that a great deal more contemptible than the conduct of the Russian autocrat, who says, “ You shall not have any political power “ ? Could any thing be more mean, wretched, and miserable than to say to the great body of the unionists of this country, “ You have votes under the Constitution. We expect you, as good citizens, to take part in the government of the country,” and in the next breath to tell them that if they wish to receive any preference under this Bill they must abandon all their political rights as unionists ?
– We do not say that.
– What a fine distinction? This is the first occasion on which I have found Senator Playford drawing these fine distinctions. It would appear that “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” When the honorable senator was fighting the battle of protection against Senatoi Symon he did not draw these fine distinctions. It appears to me that the Attorney-General is contaminating the honorable senator.
– Hypnotizing him.
– I am not sure that it would be easy to hypnotize Senator Playford, but the Attorney-General, with that clever verbal instrument of his, has succeeded in putting the honorable senator on the wrong track. I trust that Senator Matheson’s amendment will be accepted.
– Senator Matheson said that with the proviso as it stands we should have no political unions, but with the amendment we should have political unions, but only very small ones.
– We need not trouble about what Senator Matheson says, because we have the honorable senator’s amendment before us. The AttorneyGeneral has refused to give us a definition of political question, because the honorable and learned senator cannot define it. Senator Matheson has tried to define it in a way which is not satisfactory to me, because it is my desire that the whole of this proviso should be eliminated, as I consider it fatal to the Bill. For that reason I shall gladly vote against it. But I think that Senator Matheson’s amendment is a very fair compromise under the circumstances, and its acceptance by us shows the reasonableness of the party to which I belong, and that we are not the extremists that we are said to be.
– The honorable senator’s party tried one or two other amendments first.
– It is a case of “ try, try, try again.” I suppose the honorable senator has read the story of Bruce and the spider. We are in the position of Bruce, and the honorable senator occupies the position of the spider. We are going to try and try again until we get what we want. We shall not be satisfied until we get it. Senator Matheson’s amendment holds the field for the present, at any rate. It simply provides that no action taken with reference to hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour shall be deemed to be a political purpose, or to have a political character for the purpose of this measure. The AttorneyGeneral, however, will not accept the amendment. Why not ?
– Because it is provided for now.
– There is no provision with regard to these matters being of a non-political character. That is the point we are discussing.
– Why should we make them political if they are already made judicial ?
– The question of hours of labour is at present a political question, so far as a large number of the unions are concerned. They pass pious resolutions every year, affirming the desirability of an Eight Hours Bill being passed by Parliament1. Would not the passing of such resolutions bring them within the category of political unions? If they had preference undoubtedly it would. They could not get preference if they passed such a resolution.
– The Court could grant them an eight hours day if it liked.
– The Court could fix the hours of labour for any trade at eight hours. But the unionists of Australia might decide to proclaim an eight hours day or a six hours day all over the continent; and if they had a majority in favour of doing so, what would there be to prevent them? The electors of the Commonwealth have a right to fix the hours of labour by Act of Parliament if they choose to do so. It has been pointed out by other speakers that it would be impossible for any live labour union to exist without taking part in the politics of the country. Senator Guthrie has told us about the case of the seamen, and Senator Matheson has pointed out the position of the miners. Other honorable senators have alluded to other industries. It has been made perfectly clear to my mind that it would be impossible for a union to exist at all without moving politically. I am astonished that honorable senators opposite have not been persuaded to accept Senator Matheson’s amendment. It proves to me that they -are governed entirely by prejudice, and have no desire to see this ‘ measure made workable. They think they can beat down the trade unions with other weapons. I warned them a little while ago that if we have this weapon of political action* taken out of our hands we have a more powerful weapon in reserve. We have the numbers, and we can capture every’ Parliament in Australia if we put our shoulders to the wheel. Unless disputes of the character now referred to can be settled by peaceful arbitration by a Court which will give the workmen justice and fair play, and before which workers and employer will be on an absolute equality, we shall have recourse to other methods which will be much more effective.
– What other methods ?
– Acts of Parliament regulating all industries. We are not going to abandon this struggle because we are outwitted or out-generalled or out-numbered on the present occasion. If we are beaten on this point we are going to carry the thing a great deal farther. We are going to insist upon fair conditions for all our workers, and to secure the peaceful settlement of disputes in one way or another. If the Arbitration Bill is framed in such a way as to give preference before the Court to the capitalists, then we shall have to cry out for a remedy in some other direction ; and I have not the slightest doubt that we shall be able to find’ that direction. But for the sake of peace I hope that honorable senators opposite will come to the conclusion that the right thing to do ac present is to support Senator Matheson’s amendment.
– I do not like to give a silent vote on this question. I have followed two rules with regard to the subject under discussion - to maintain an open mind and a shut mouth. As a matter of fact, when I first read Senator Matheson’s amendment I was disposed to favour it. I thought that it might remove a difficulty, and be a step in the direction of compromise. I have listened to the arguments on both sides quite impartially. I owe no allegiance to either side. I am absolutely independent in regard to the subject. But after listening carefully to what has been said, I have come to the conclusion that the amendment is not necessary. I ought to preface what I have to say by remarking that I am against the principle of preference. Throughout the discussions upon this Bill I have been opposed to any discrimination of any kind. But the Committee, by a majority, has decreed that a preference shall, at the discretion of the Court, be given to unionists, and now that that has been carried I do not intend to do anything to destroy the principle, or by any side wind to deprive the unionists of the preference they have secured. But, returning to the question at issue, it seems to me that Senator Matheson’s amendment, if it only means what it says, is surplusage. If it means what it says, it amounts to this - that any action which the unions take under the Bill is not to be regarded as political action. Why the very object of this Bill is to enable the organization to take such action as that specified in the honorable senator’s amendment. I have not been converted by the arguments which I have heard in favour of the amendment. We can safely leave it to the Court to determine what is political action on’ the part of a union. The Court will speedily determine whether any action taken by a union is, properly speaking, outside the scope of the Act. We should not insert words which may be capable of a larger interpretation than is intended by the honorable senator who has moved them. I regard the amendment as totally unnecessary, even from the point of view of the unions themselves. Senator Stewart has read a report of the remarks made by Judge Cohen in the Arbitration Court in New South Wales. Those remarks have been received with a great deal of acclaim by the members of the Labour Party. But if honorable senators will recall the language of the Judge, they will see that he said that preference ought to be granted only when the Court is satisfied that a union substantially and practically represents the industry. This was the principle adopted in the Bill as iti came to the Senate ; but the Labour Party did not accept it.
– The unions in New South Wales have political rights.
– We do not wish to deprive them of their political rights, nor does this Bill do so. I should be the last person to do anything of the kind. I do not see any difficulty whatever in the various trade organizations so arranging matters that they will be able to exercise the full rights conferred by this Bill without trenching upon the matters which are excluded from political action on their part, under the rules which they have to adopt when they apply for preference.
– I find that I cannot please either party. It was reported in South Australia the other day that the Labour Party had “captured Senator Playford.” Now the Labour Party are complaining that my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon, has captured me. Whichever party thinks that it has captured me must consider that it has a pretty big fish on its hook. But I can assure Senator McGregor that Senator Symon has not captured me, in any sense. The first person who spoke to me with regard to this matter was Senator O’Keefe, who informed me this morning that Senator Matheson intended to move an amendment. He showed it to me, and I read it through. I made up my mind in about two minutes as to what I should do. I said that it was surplusage. There is no necessity for it. The Bill provides for all that it contains. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that I ought to vote against it. But I am bound to confess that I do not like the proviso as it stands. I consider that the latter part of it, that requires the members of a union not to do anything of a political character, is a little bit too sweeping. I puzzled my brains to see whether I could devise an amendment which would be satisfactory, but I found the problem more difficult than I had anticipated. The form of amendment which I drafted would have added the words - but, subject to the approval of the Court, any organization may expend its funds and take such action on questions specifically affecting its own trade or calling - and other words following out the same idea. I thought at first that some such amendment would meet the difficulty, but I confess that the task of devising an amendment that would be workable and satisfactory has been too much for me. I am prepared to accept the proviso, especially as we have the assurance of the AttorneyGeneral that no Court would ever rule that the members of a trade union who took action in regard to matters especially affecting their own calling would be doing anything of a political character. The Court would never debar them from such action.
– We must trust the Court.
– In a previous clause, we refused to say that a hard and fast majority should be required before preference could be given, but that we would trust the Court. In this case it will be a great deal wiser and better for us to leave the question open, instead of trying to modify the provision in such a way as to open the door considerably wider. When the amendment comes to be examined carefully, it will be seen that it opens the door so wide that an organization in Queensland could help an organization in Western Australia to do certain things.
– If the intention was to promote the interests of those who subscribed the money, why object?
– Because it becomes a political organization.
– The amendment reads -
But no action taken with reference to hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour, shall be deemed to be a political purpose or of a political character.
The amendment is very simple, and at the first glance its effect is not seen. When it is closely examined, however, it is found to be of a very far-reaching character. As the Attorney-General so ably pointed out, it will open the door wider. Either it is mischievous on the one side, or it is surplusage on the other. According to the argument of Senator Matheson, it is really not mischievous, but an exceedingly simple thing. See what a wide door it opens when it allows funds to be taken from one end of the Commonwealth and applied’ to a political purpose at the other end. That is going too far, I think.
– Why should the honorable senator object to it for only those specific purposes?
– Those questions will be decided by the Court.
– Only in the case of a dispute spreading from one State to another.
– The Court will not be required to decide anything if there is no dispute. But when a dispute arises, all the matters to which my honorable friend refers in his amendment will be dealt with by it.
– Not in the matter of State legislation.
– Where the State legislation has undoubtedly decided a matter, I presume that the Court will not interfere. If the State legislation has not decided the conditions of employment, I should imagine that the Court will certainly have the right to fix them. The term “conditions of employment “ would cover everything likely to be injurious to the employes. I do not see any distinction between conditions of labour and conditions of employment; they are practically synonymous terms.
– There is an absolutely legal difference between them.
– I have not heard the Attorney-General on the question of the legal difference between the terms. The only thing I have to deplore in this discussion is the fact that Senator Stewart has used threats. To threaten what will take place if this or that thing be not done is the worst form of argument which can be used, and it is evidently adopted by the side which has the worst case.
– He did not mean to threaten; he was only endeavouring to prophesy.
– He should speak as a prophet. He certainly did not put on the prophetic gown and speak under the divine afflatus. He should not make use of threats. If the unionists are to be told that they are only asking for that which is right and just and fair, and that we are unwilling to grant their demand, there is another side of the question which can be placed before the electors. To all the men who are not unionists we can say, “ Is it fair to give unionists preference over you individually without conditions, so as to prevent them from becoming political societies ? “ That is the position which will ‘be put, and it strikes me very forcibly that, although an electioneering cry may be got up on one side,’ still an equally powerful cry can be raised on the other side. I think that the Court may be trusted not to take away the right of the members of an organization who ask for preference to agitate, politically if they like, for the redress of other wrongs under which they may suffer, and which are not specially due to their trade or calling.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I cannot understand the position taken up by Senator Playford. He tells us distinctly that no Court will do this thing or that thing. What is the intention of the clause? Is it not an absolute direction to the Court, which must be obeyed ? The proviso says -
No 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 qf its funds to political purposes.
– The Court will not consider conditions such as have been alluded to as political conditions.
– I have just been handed an American newspaper, from which I learn that the seamen are agitating for certain reforms. Petitions have been presented to the Congress, and delegates have been sent from all parts of the United States to Washington for the purpose of assisting to pass the legislation. What is the position in Australia to-day? Every elector in the Commonwealth has the right to approach his representative, and submit his case. But with the central Government located in Melbourne, it is very hard for the men to see their representatives, and possibly delegates may have to be sent to the Seat of Government at considerable expense. That is a political purpose which would debar the union from getting preference under this provision. Practically the same questions are being agitated in America to-day, as in Australia. This newspaper mentions twelve questions, both industrial and political, which would debar I the Seamen’s Union from getting preference under the Act. Let me read the first question -
That is a fair question to agitate. It is well known that on many deep-water ships sailing out of Australia the men do not get watch and watch, but are kept on deck all day, and have to keep watch and watch at night.
– Would that not be a question of the hours of employment ?
– It might be; but it might not be dealt with in the Navigation Bill. It might be considered by the unionists that it would be better to have the hours laid down hard and fast in an Act of Parliament, rather than to be referred to a Court. The next question is -
The other day I received from a Queensland port aletter stating that the imposition of Sunday labour is bearing heavily on the men engaged on the northern boats, and asking me if some steps could not be taken to minimize the evil. That is a political question.
– No; the Arbitration Court could deal with that matter.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs in no less than three Governments has dealt with the question of Sunday labour in Northern Queensland.
– In a different aspect; not in its industrial aspect.
– In its industrial aspect. Another question which is agitating American seamen is stated as follows : -
The Court would not deal with the question as to when the wages should be paid. In Australia when a man signs on board a ship for a term of three years he has to sign an agreement that he is to get no money, except at the master’s option, until its expiry.Is not that a political question? And ought not the matter to be regulated by Act of Parliament?
Is not that a fair question to agitate? Is it not a fair thing for men to combine, and to ask that if a ship, through stress of weather, should get into a foreign port, and the majority of her crew should be of opinion that it was not safe to leave the port, they ought to be able to demand that a survey of the ship should take place? Would honorable senators on the other side debar a seamen’s union from agitating to have a question of that sort dealt with by legislation? Would they refuse preference because a demand of that sort was made?
– Yes, I would. The Judge would not consider that to be a political question within the meaning of the clause.
– According to the definitions which the Attorney-General read to-night, it is nothing else but a political question to ask for the repeal of an Act, and for the enactment of new legislation.
Under the Merchant Shipping Act, a man is allowed three quarts of water per day for the purposes of drinking, cooking, and washing. I do not know how honorable senators would like to exist under such conditions. Yet they contend that if seamen ask for an alteration of those conditions they should not get preference under this measure.
These are all political questions to the seamen. The other night Senator Best made a considerable point, as he thought, by saying that it would be an easy matter for the unionists to evade the provisions which honorable senators on the other side are trying to insert in the Bill ; that, in fact, we could keep our unions intact, andtake whatever political action we liked so long as we formed a bogus union for the purpose of registration under the Act. I think that the Attorney -General to a large extent approached the same point.
– Senator Dawson started by making use of some such words as a threat.
– No; he disdained to do anything of the sort. The title of the first New Zealand Act was an Act to encourage the formation of Unions.
– And the object of this Bill is to encourage organizations for the purposes of the Act.
– All the questions I have mentioned are absolutely industrial. Nothing of this sort was attempted in passing the New South Wales and Western Australian Acts. I am satisfied that if the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, who is the author of this legislation, were present as a member of this Committee, he would be one of the strongest opponents of the Bill in its present form. That right honorable gentleman never had any other idea but that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be founded on a recognition of the existing unions, and the Bill as drafted by him went far to show that. He provided not only for organizations for the Commonwealth, but for associations within the States, showing that he had taken into consideration the ramifications of the unions at present in existence. The Bill before us today will not carry out what the right honorable gentleman intended in submitting this legislation. Senator Clemons was afraid that there might be some interference with States rights in this matter ; but I do not think there is any reason for such a” fear. The question has been raised, and I think a good point might be made of it, that organizations exist in some of the States where no legislation has been passed to protect those engaged in dangerous occupations. Honorable senators by supporting this proviso, would take away from the members of those organizations all power to agitate for the passing of such legislation. Senator Playford is aware that unsucessful attempts have been made in South Australia to have leadsmelting included in the category of dangerous trades. In various unions in that State there is a strong feeling that the smelting industry can well afford to pay compensation to those who suffer from lead poisoning as the result of their employment in the industry. They will not rest satisfied until some legislation is passed to make the owners of smelting works responsible for the consequences of the illness suffered by their employes. It is not sufficient that they should pay a paltry wage of 6s. a day.
– They pay more than that. The lead-smelter liable to be leaded gets higher wages than the ordinary labourer.
– I know that while Block 14 was working at Port Adelaide, the uniform wage paid to labourers in the smelting works was 6s. a shift.
– Those men would not be leaded. It is the men who stir up the furnaces who are affected.
– Hundreds were leaded as we know to our cost, because the expense was thrown not upon those who were reaping the profits derived from the labour of the smelters, but upon workers associated with them in friendly societies. The friendly societies in those districts have been very nearly ruined owning to the amount which they have had to pay out to maintain those who have suffered from leadpoisoning. I hope that Senator Playford will see his way to vote for Senator Matheson’s amendment, which, I think, will cover all the matters to which I have referred, and they are matters which should be provided for.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I am aware that a number of honorable senators who have voted against the last two amendments are not entirely satisfied with the wording of the proviso asit stands. I believe that they will be in favour of the amendment which has been suggested by Senator Trenwith. On account of urgent private business that honorable senator was unable to foepresentto-day, buthe has lefthis amendment in print. He proposes that we should insert after the word “ character” the words “ except of a purely industrial nature connected with the trade or calling of the organization.” Honorable senators must recognise that the Attorney-General’s opposition to the amendment has not been legitimate. By his speech and by interjection the honorable and learned senator has declared emphatically that such political questions as workmen’s compensation, liens, load lines, and other questions vitally affecting the interests of workers, and of a purely industrial as well as political character, would not be considered political under this proviso. I cannot imagine for a moment that the honorable and learned senator thinks so. If he were the Judge of an Arbitration Court under such a Bill as this, in which the Court is directed that the members of an organization are to take no political action whatever, would he decide that these are not questions of a political character? If the honorable and learned senator would, he would belie all my past experience of jurisprudence. I do not for a moment believe that the honorable and learned senator, if he were a Judge of an Arbitration Court under this Bill, would hesitate to decide that all the matters to which reference has been made on the amendments proposed by Senators de Largie and Matheson are of a political character. Senator Playford has acknowledged that he is in a difficulty in connexion with this question. The honorable senator has repeatedly asserted that he is not satisfiedwith the terms of the proviso, and he acknowledges that industrial unions have a right to interfere in the matters to which we have referred. But he says that the Court would not consider them political. The amendment suggested by Senator Trenwith provides that the Court is not to consider as political action which deals with industrial matters connected with the organization claiming preference. I do not’ think it necessary to advance further arguments in support of the amendment suggested by
Senator Trenwith, because the arguments which have already been used on the last two amendments apply with equal force to this. I am prepared to leave it to the good sense of the Committee and’ the judgment of honorable senators, who have declared themselves dissatisfied with the wording of the proviso as it stands. I may state that I was asked by Senator Trenwith to submit the amendment on his behalf, and I therefore move -
That after the word “ character,” line 6, the following words beinserted - “ except of a purely industrial nature connected with the trade or calling of the organization.”
Of course, if what is done is of a purely industrial nature it will not be of a political nature.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I do not agree with the AttorneyGeneral. Indeed, I think that he has put his case in a diabolical fashion. He has misled the Committee, not only in the remarks which he has just made, but by his many interjections. He knows very well that all that we have been contending for in connexion with Senator Matheson’s amendment is that industrial organizations registered under this measure shall have preference, even when they do take an active part in bringing about such legislation as compensation laws, and laws with regard to liens, load lines, and accommodation for shearers. He knows also that the Court has no power to grant preference to a union that takes political action of any character. That is distinctly provided by the clause, and I am sure that no Judge or arbiter would, when the Bill distinctly stated that no preference should be granted in such a case, think of granting it to a union which took political action, even with respect to matters that do not strictly speaking come within the purview of the Arbitration Bill. What we want is to give the unions liberty to do all they can to bring into existence legislation that will have a beneficial effect upon the working classes, and the general community. I hope that honorable senators will no longer be misled by the AttorneyGeneral.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to move a further amendment. The party to which I belong are prepared to go to any reasonable length to meet the views of honorable senators opposite, but some .of them seem to wish to emasculate the Bill altogether, and to render it absolutely useless. The great object of some honorable senators is to prevent the unions from doing anything to further the interests of one political party - the Labour Party. They have an unreasoning fear of the Labour Party, and, therefore, they wish to clip its wings in every possible way. T desire by this amendment to meet them, as far as possible, and to absolutely prevent the unions from doing anything of a party character. Surely that ought to please honorable senators opposite. We used to be told that we ought to devise some better means of settling industrial disputes than by strikes. Why, then, do honorable senators complain that we take constitutional means to settle labour difficulties^ and why do they seek to prevent the unions from taking that action which they formerly recommended them to take? We have accepted their advice, and now: they tum upon us. They used to tell us that if the law was wrong we should endeavour to alter’ it, but that while the law remained we should have to obey it, or thev would send Gatling guns and troops, whose officers would order them “ to fire low and lay em out.”
– Was that ever done in Australia?
– It was done, and the’ fact was published throughout Australia.
– Does the honorable senator believe that ?
– I do. I have the best of reasons for believing it. The statement was repeated only about a month ago. Colonel Tom Price himself’ has also alluded to it in a recent published utterance.
– He made reference to it in Brisbane only a month ago.
– Yes, I believe he did. The whole principle of the new unionism is that, instead of fighting the symptoms of economic and social diseases, we shall take political action to .remove their causes, and then the diseases will disappear. Surely, if we insert an amendment which will prevent trade unions from assisting any particular political party, honorable senators opposite should be satisfied. I therefore move -
That after the word “character,” line 6, the following words be inserted : - “ for the purpose of furthering the interests of any particular political party.”
– Except for the introduction of the word “‘particular,” it seems to me that this amendment is in substance the same as the amendment of Senator de Largie, which was negatived, and I desire, sir, to have a ruling on the point. The amendment, which was negatived, was one to insert after “ decisions “ the. words - compel or require any of its members to vote for or to subscribe to the funds of any political party.
The present amendment is to add to the proviso the words - for the purpose of furthering the interests of any particular political party.
It seems to me that the Committee, if it voted for the amendment, would be stultifying itself. It is different in language, but it is the same in substance as “the other.
– it leaves all the other words in.
– That is what we pointed out in debating the previous amendment. Its substance was to prevent any member being required to vote for or to subscribe to the funds of a particular party, that is, to further its interests.
– Its interests can be furthered, in many ways.
– Of course they can. The present amendment says the same thing as the other, but in a different set of words. . I ask you, sir, under standing order 126 to say whether or not it is the same in substance as the amendment of Senator de Largie. It is also open to the objection that it limits the political purposes to the furthering of the interests of a particular political party. Honorable senators opposite have said that these unions are industrial and political, and, therefore, this amendment would simply affect the furtherance of the interests of ar particular political party quite irrespective of the possibility of the organization constituting a political party of itself.
– The effect of the statement of the Attorney-General is to mislead the Committee, .and it would mislead me if I were a little more innocent than I am. He has tried to make out that the amendment of Senator Givens is the same as the amendment of Senator de Largie, when as a matter of fact it is of a more far-reaching character. There are many methods of assisting a political party besides subscribing to its funds or voting for its members. In Victoria certain persons find it to their benefit to go to the extent of lying for the purpose of assisting the political party they belong to. This amendment would prevent them from misleading the electors, whereas the other one only related to spending the funds of an organization, or to the actual voting of its members. The effect of the present amendment is. to allow a person to do nothing of 21 political character which would further the interests of a party, whereas the only effect of the other amendment was that an organization could not spend its funds or compel or direct its members to vote.
– 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.
But the. standing order which I think more particularly refers to the point in dispute is No. 195, which reads -
Nd 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 already been agreed to by the Committee, unless a recommittal of the Bill* shall have intervened.
The amendment of Senator de Largie was to insert after “ decisions “ the words - compel or require any of its members to vote, for or subscribe to the funds of any political party.
That amendment was negatived. Senator Givens how moves to add these words to the proviso -
For the purpose of furthering the interests of any particular political party.
It seems to me that the present amendment is substantially the same as the one which was negatived. I rule that it cannot be moved until a recommittal or reconsideration of the Bill has intervened.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Since it has been decided not to modify the conditions for the employes’ organizations, I wish to give honorable senators an opportunity of making a similar provision for the employers’ organizations. Therefore I move -
That after the word “ character,” line 6, the following words be inserted : - “ and further, provided that no organization of employers shall bc entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by an organization or employees, so long as its rules 0” other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
Honorable senators have banned an employes’ union from applying for preference, and now I ask them to ban an employers’ union from opposing such preference as long as its members indulge in the heinous crime of talcing political action or using its funds for political purposes.
– Is not that done already?
– Certainly not. An employers’ union does not appear to apply for preference, but to oppose it.
– But they may apply for preference.
– They do not need to apply, because they always have preference.
Senate adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041116_senate_2_23/>.