2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following paper : -
Memorandum by Major-General Sir Edward Hutton in regard to the case of Major J. W. M. Carroll.
Ordered to be printed.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Committee have leave to extend the time for bringing up the report to this day four weeks.
Debate resumed from 27 th October (vide page 6184) on motion by Senator Givens :
That, in the opinion of this Senate, it is desirable and necessary in the best interests of the white population of the Commonwealth, to amend the laws affecting the sugar industry so as to provide -
That the excise duty on all sugar produced within the Commonwealth shall be increased to six pounds per ton ; and
That the bounty on sugar-cane, in the production of which white labour only has been employed, shall be increasedto ten , shillings per ton on cane giving 10 per cent, of sugar, the bounty to be increased or reduced proportionately according to any variation from the 10 per cent, standard ; and
That the bounty on all beet-sugar, in the production of which white labour only has been employed, shall be increased to five pounds per ton.
– The sugar planters of Queensland have a good deal of reason to be thankful to Senator Givens for submitting this motion. Some of its sugar growers seem to be unaware of the action of their representatives, judging by their remarks in the press. They are complaining that the Federal Parliament has not been made aware of the requirements of the sugar industry. Although I greatly sympathize with the arguments used by Senator Givens, still I do not think that the Parliament will agree to his proposal, and, therefore, I move -
That all the words after the word “ Senate,” line 1, be left out, with a view to add the following words : - “ The Sugar Bounty Act should be amended to provide that bounty on white-grown sugar shall be paid up to the first day of January, 1915. The Excise Tariff should be amended to provide for the collection of an excise duty of 3s. per cwt. of manufactured sugar until the first day of January, 1905.”
That would mean an extension of the provisions of the Sugar Bounty Act and Excise Tariff Act, so far as sugar is concerned, for a period of about ten years.
– That would change the character of the motion.
– My motion is to rectify what I consider a blunder in the existing legislation, but the amendment is to continue the blunder for a period of ten years.
– There is a good deal of force in the contention of Senator Givens. When those measures were under consideration here, I, with other representatives of Queensland, pointed out that a number of Hindoos, Chinese, and Japanese would be engaged by the sugar planters, even when the kanakas had left the State, and that the proposed legislation would not be sufficient to cope with that evil. Senator Drake, I think, put the arguments of Senator Givens in a most unfair light. He wished to persuade the Senate that the employers of those races would have no hope of preserving themselves from ruin if the protection against foreign coloured - grown sugar were removed. He urged that if we imposed an excise duty of £6 on sugar, we should remove the protection from those black labour employers, and that absolute ruin would stare them in the face. That was not the view which he held a few years ago, when he held aloft the flag of a White Australia. He wished to abolish the kanakas.
– Not by removing the protection from the sugar industry.
– Did not the honorable and learned senator contend that we should get the kanakas back to their islands? There was no suggestion to prescribe a period in which they should be sent back. The proposal was to get rid of them at once, and when the planters asked for a ten years’ extension, the honorable and learned senator said that they made that request before, and that although it was granted, still they were not satisfied, and that if a similar request were conceded, a further extension of ten years would be asked for. The black-labour employers in Queensland would have the same opportunity as the other sugar growers of availing themselves of the provisions of the Sugar Bounty Act, and they need not suffer any wrong if they would only follow the > example of those who have successfully adopted white labour. Is there any hardship in asking sugar planters to employ white labour when it has been proved to the satisfaction of any reasonable person that white labour can be obtained in unlimited quantity at a lower figure than some of us ever anticipated? I remember, in reply to Senator Dobson, saying that I believed that any quantity of white labour could be obtained in Queensland at 35s. and rations.
– Is it obtainable at that price in the Cairns district?
– It is.
– We know from the Treasurer’s figures that bounties are paid in the northern districts of that State. The planter on a large scale is not prepared to do what the small owner is willing to do. I remember asking Dr. Maxwell how it was that the sugar planters in Bundaberg closed. The small owner, he said, controls his plantation. He is not compelled to go to work at a given hour and to continue to work for eight hours. But the planter on a large scale has to get his men brought out at a certain hour. A large owner cannot work his plantation so well as a small owner. It is the peasant proprietor whom we wish to encourage in Queensland. We desire to carry out the ideas of good old Dr. Lang, who was one of the first men to discover that the soil of Queensland was suitable for the production of sugar, cotton, and other things. He used to say that the Britisher could do any work that a black fellow could do, but that he should be given a small holding. We desire to encourage the man who will have to defend the country in its hour of need. The shareholder in London, Paris, or Berlin, would not perform that duty. The figures prove that the contention of .the representatives of Queensland was a good one. Notwithstanding a considerable number of obstacles, the bounty system has been a very great success, and I hope that the Government will favorably consider the proposal to extend the provisions of the Sugar Bounty Act for a period of ten years. An economic problem has been suggested to my mind by its operation, which I should like a free-trader to solve. I remember Senator Pulsford stating in the Sydney Morning Herald that if this legislation were enacted, the public of Australia would have to pay over £1,000,000 in taxes to the sugar industry. According to the figures which the Attorney-General supplied yesterday, the bounty has amounted to ,£151,648, while the excise duty has yielded £723,191, leaving a difference of £571,543 in favour of the Commonwealth. If an excise duty be imposed on an industry, theoretically, it should follow that the people engaged therein would pass the tax on to the consumer. According to that argument, retail buyers of sugar ought to be paying a higher price now than they did before the Excise Tariff Act was passed. But at any grocer’s shop in Melbourne and suburbs I can obtain the best sugar at 2¼d. per lb. Even the free-trade Argus admits that the public are not paying a fraction more for sugar now than they did prior to Federation.
– Where does the difference of £571,543 come from?
– That is what I wish the free-traders to tell us. I am inclined to think that it comes out of the pockets of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, a huge monopoly which the Argus admits controls the sugar industry here.
– Their profits are greater than ever.
– I see that the company have been paying 10 per cent., besides putting a considerable amount to reserve fund for a number of years. Therefore, we have the Sugar Refining Company making its usual profits, the public of the Commonwealth obtaining their sugar cheaper than ever, the white growers receiving what to them has been a very handsome windfall in most cases, the storekeepers and others in a better position than they were before, and nobody has suffered anything. The bonus has been a god-send to the white growers, and, in addition to that, it has had the effect of making employment for the white workers of Queensland, who have been receiving better wages than they could get in other walks of life. Are not these reasons why the Commonwealth should be willing to extend the provisions of the Bounty Act for at least a period of ten years?
– For a reasonable period.
– What is to happen at the end of ten years ?
– There may be an extension of the time, but we will consider that matter when it arises. I might reply to the honorable and learned senator as Senator Drake replied to me when I asked a similar question in 1902. I proposed that there should be an extension beyond the 1st January, 1907, but Senator Drake replied, “ There will be ‘a Parliament to look after that.”
– Probably the sugarproducers will be exporting to other parts of the world within five or six years.
– The reason why, as representatives of Queensland, we should like to obtain a decision from the Federal Parliament now is that the Bounty Act has only about two years to run, and there is a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty amongst the white growers there in consequence of the influx of Hindoos, Chinese, and Japanese.
– Where are the Hindoos coming from?
– I suppose that many of them are coming from, other parts of Australia, though some may be coming in vessels which escape the supervision of the Commonwealth officers. I am inclined to think that the supervision is lax. Senator Pearce, last year, expressed the opinion that there was a certain laxity on the part of the Customs officials in Western Australia.
– My statement was denied, but it has since been proved that on one vessel no less than twelve stowaways were found.
– I remember landing at Largs Bay on returning from Western Australia, where we had been to see the opening of the great water scheme, and I noticed that there was no supervision when the passengers got off the ship. There was one Customs officer to look through the luggage of the passengers, and any one, Hindoo, Japanese, or Chinese, could walk ashore.
– The captain of the ship is responsible for every person on board.
– But if the Customs officers have too much to do to check the captain, he gets off scot free. I venture to say that there are too many of these aliens arriving in Australia, and that shortly we shall have to legislate with regard to them. One of the thirty-nine articles of the Constitution gives ug power to pass special legislation, if it is necessary, to deal with aliens within the Commonwealth. We have power to make these people contribute a reasonable sum towards the cost of carrying on the government of the country. If they are willing to work for starvation wages, and to compete unfairly with white workers, we shall have to compel them 10 pay such a sum as will probably induce or force them to demand higher rates of wages from their employers. As I have already intimated, I have a great deal of sympathy with Senator Givens’ motion. His proposal to take away the protection given to persons who employ coloured labour would compel them to fall in with our White Australia legislation. I do not think they deserve any sympathy after the warnings they have had. Thev know that various attempts have been made in Queensland by the State Parliament to get rid of the kanakas. They know ihat there has been a growing party during the past ten years, which, if it got into power, would abolish kanaka labour. There was no uncertainty about the matter. . They knew that once the White Australia party in Queensland secured a majority in the Legislature, an Act would be passed for the purpose of returning the kanakas to their islands.
– Is not the object of the honorable senator’s amendment to continue the present law ?
– Yes. I may remark that the white sugar-growers are doing very well with their £2 a ton, which is, I believe, equal, on an average, to 4s. or 5s. per ton of cane. But while I have sympathy with Senator Givens’ object, I think that any proposal which is made in this direction should consider what this Parliament is likely to grant. If Senator Givens’ motion goes to a division, there can be no doubt that a majority will vote against it. I do not wish that to happen, because it would create a great deal of alarm in the minus of the people of Queensland. That will not happen if an amendment of the character which I have moved is adopted.
– The Senate is much more likely to carry the original motion.
– The Government have promised to take this matter into their earnest consideration, and we shall be able to get an indication from the Senate as to what the majority think. Then, at an early date, a measure can be brought forward to amend the Act, that will give the sugar-growers of Queensland greater confidence. They will receive an indication that there is a likelihood of some permanent arrangement being made in connexion with the bounty.
– Has the honorable senator considered the advisability of the bounty being discontinued, or of fixing a sliding scale so as to provide for a time when it will be worked out?
– Rather than a proposal to reduce the bounty by a sliding scale, I should prefer to consider some legislation which would increase the disabilities of those who insist upon employing coloured labour.
– Remember that they are our fellow creatures.
– We in Australia have to work out our enonomic salvation. Let other peoples work out their own economic salvation, whether they be in India, China, or Japan. We have a big enough work in hand to raise the standard of living of the white workers oi this country, without our burden being increased and our handicap made greater by the presence in our midst of Hindoos, Chinese and Japanese, who are prepared to work for very low rates of wages.
– We have stopped the influx, but we do not want to starve those who are here; we have let them in, and now we must treat them fairly.
– I remember endeavouring to bring the Senate to the test with regard to that question some time ago. When honorable senators opposite said, “We ought not to object to these men getting a living as they are here,” I answered, “We do not object to that, but we want them to get a good living. Are honorable senators prepared to support a minimum-wage law, compelling the employers to pay them reasonable rates of wages?”
– Is the honorable senator aware that Mr. Airey, the present Minister of Labour in Queensland, has contracts at present for fifteen aboriginals to work at Peel Island for 3s. a week and supplies ?
– The true test of the sincerity of honorable senators opposite with regard to these coloured people is, whether they are prepared to support a law compelling their employers to pay them reasonable wages. They .must know that the adversities of coloured people are very often taken advantage of. I do not think that the honorable senators who are now so anxious about coloured people would be willing to vote for a minimum wage law compelling their employers to pay them j£i a week.
– They differ very much in capacity and strength; they are not all equal to a white man, and could not do a white man’s work.
– Let us get back to the sugar question.
– This is an important matter in connexion with the sugar industry. I have not considered the matter of a sliding scale, such as Senator Dobson suggests. I admit, however, that .the sugar planter gets his 4s. a ton, and is doing fairly well under it. It enables him to get a decent living. But I have not considered the advisability of reducing it. I prefer1 at present to increase the disabilities of people who are anxious to employ coloured labour. On these grounds I commend my amendment to the Senate, and hope that it will be carried.
– I beg to second the amendment.
– I think that the amendment is not in order, for the reason that my motion proposes a distinct and radical change. in the existing law. The amendment . amounts to a direct negative, because it says that we should not amend the law, but should continue it. Technically, the amendment appears to be out of order, and I do not see why my motion should be burdened with it.
– I think that the amendment is not a direct negative. If it were a direct negative, it would not propose to extend1 the operation of the present Act until 191 5. I think it is relevant to the motion, and can be put.
– I cannot accept the amendment, nor do I think that it would be wise for the Senate to agree to it, for several reasons, which I will briefly give. I have moved my motion because I think that the present legislation of the Commonwealth is faulty, and fails to carry out the objects of this Parliament or of the people of the country. My motion suggests a remedy. Believing the law to be faulty, I cannot give my support to Senator Higgs’ amendment, which proposes to continue what I believe to be an enormous blunder.
– The amendment is the exact opposite of what the honorable senator proposes.
– Of course it is, and that is the reason why I raised the point of order.
– Do the Government intend to support the motion?
– I think that Senator Higgs, knowing that there has been an agitation in Queensland for some time past to continue the bonus system, though not exactly on present lines, has taken an unfair advantage of the fact that my motion has been brought before the Senate, to overload it by an amendment of this character. Possibly I may be doing him an injustice, and in that case I shall be quite willing to apologize. But I should much prefer to see the motion put to the Senate without such an addition. What is the effect of the existing legislation, which the amendment proposes to continue? It is that, whereas we give an inducement to white labour to produce sugar, we also offer an inducement to coloured labour to continue to produce sugar. There is no member of this Parliament who has received any mandate from the people of Australia to offer an inducement for the employment of coloured people. I challenge any honorable senator to say that his electors are in favour of offering inducements of the character I have described. Considering that we have received no mandate of that description, how dare we spend the people’s money in doing what the people have expressed themselves as being opposed to, in any shape or form, or under any circumstances? I say that it is an act of spoliation - of misrepresentation on the part of the representatives of the people - for this Parliament to do exactly the opposite of what it is the will of the people shall be done.
-Col. Gould. - This matter has never been before the people since the Commonwealth legislation was passed.
– It was before the people of Queensland at the last elections.
– But not before the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
– It certainly was before the people whom I represent. I issued a special manifesto on the subject, and addressed myself to it at every meeting which I attended. The result was that I was sent to this Parliament. I am here to carry out my election pledges. The people of the sugar districts in particular voted overwhelmingly in supnort of the policy which I put forward, and which I have expressed in my motion to-day. The view which I lay before the Senate is this - that this Parliament, acting for the people of Australia, should do what the people require them to do, that is, give every inducement possible to white people to engage in the sugar industry ; but we should give no inducement, or subsidy, nor should we spend a penny of the people’s money to encouragethe growth of sugar by coloured labour. That was undoubtedly the mandate of the people of Australia.
– Queensland is not Australia.
– The main question submitted to the electors in every State in Australia was the maintenance of a White Australia. Every political party took up the cry, because none dare do otherwise. Although Senator Gould, in his heart of hearts, would like to vote for a black Australia to-morrow, he dare not go on to any public platform and say so.
– I shall have the honorable senator alongside of me when I do.
– That will be because I shall never do it, and the honorable and learned senator is afraid to do it. I desire to show how the present legislation is working out. I have here the Brisbane Courier of Saturday,12th November, in which there is a special article by “ Koradji,” who has been a special agricultural commissioner for the Courier for a number of years. The article is headed “ Our Tropical Industries. Sugar-Growing and White Labour. White Australia Policy Endangered. The Cairns District.” The article occupies a column and a half of the newspaper, but I shall not inflict the whole of it on the Senate. I remind honorable senators that the Brisbane Courier is the great black-labour advocate in Queensland, and, after spending some time in the northern district its special commissioner writes as follows: -
The means adopted by the Federal Legislature to establish a White Australia are extremely doubtful. The natural result of the scheme, as at present constituted, is not calculated to achieve the purpose for which it was intended ; nor is it likely to lead to a consummation that shall meet with the approbation of posterity. Paradoxical as it may seem to those who have not looked al the broader aspect of the question, the employment of Polynesian or New Guinea labourers in the development of the immense areas forming the tropical regions of Australia under the proper supervision of white men is considered by a large number of those who have studied the position to be the only practicable means of perpetuating a White Australia, and for safeguarding our shores from the invasion of Asiatic hordes.
– Hear, hear; there is a good deal of truth in that.
– I let that go without comment. It speaks for itself. A little further on this writer says -
The number of Asiatics, including Japanese, Chinese, Hindoos, and Singalese, in the State is estimated as being over 14,000. A large proportion of these are engaged in tropical agriculture. The Chinese are not satisfactory labourers in the cane-fields when working for farmers. They prefer working on their own account, and for this reason are always on the alert for a piece of land to cultivate for themselves. Hence a large number of these aliens are renting land from white farmers. They work well while interested in the land ; but as time goes on, and when the kanaka has gone, it will evidently be difficult for white farmers to hold the land, because when the Chinese find themselves masters of the labour situation they will not be slow in exacting to the fullest extent the value of their work, either as determined by the rent they pay the farmer or as labourers in the cane-field’s.
Honorable senators will see that this writer has found that the state of things which I described in moving my motion exists in Northern Queensland, as I said it did. He shows that, as the kanaka is disappearing, the industry is falling more and more into the hands of other coloured aliens. As a matter of fact, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have leased between 3,000 and 4,000 acres in the Cairns district directly to Chinese, who will employ their own countrymen in the production of sugar. The result will be that Chinese competition in the industry will be worse for white growers than is the employment of the kanaka. Chinese will not work as labourers when they can engage in the industry themselves. They will lease lands from white owners, many of whom, like the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, own very large areas of land, and are continually on the look-out for profitable tenants. The Chinese leasing land for sugar cultivation will come into direct competition with white farmers who desire to lease land to engage in the industry. Since the Chinese are content to adopt a lower standard of living, to live in miserable hovels in a condition of dirt and filth, to go half-naked without any loss of dignity, or without injuring in any way their sense of decency, and as they have no families to maintain and educate, they will not be subject to the expense entailed upon white farmers, and will therefore be enabled to offer a much higher rent for land than the white farmers can offer.
The Chinese, being able to pay a higher rent for, the land, will obtain possession of the whole of it, because the land-holder has no other consideration than that of getting as much as he can for his land. If a Chinaman offers him 25s. an acre, and £1 per acre is all he can get from a white man, he will take the 25 s. an acre, and lease his land to the Chinaman. The result will be that all .the prime sugar lands of the Northern Queensland coastal districts will get into the hands of the Chinese; and unless something is done by the Federal Parliament to prevent it, white workers will be ousted from the sugar industry altogether. That is a result which was not contemplated by the people of Australia, or by this Parliament when it passed the White Australia legislation. The writer of the article from which I have quoted goes on to speak of what the farmers now want. I would point out to honorable senators that people are now very fond of speaking of what the farmers want. A little time ago they spoke only of what the planters wanted. This has been found to be unpopular in Australia. It has been found that the people of Australia are not greatly concerned with what the planters want, and so the farmers are now used as a convenient mouthpiece to voice the wishes of the planters. The Brisbane Courier’s contributor goes on to say -
What the farmers desire now is to let the bonus remain as it is ; also the duty and excise ; and that the Federal authorities make provision for obtaining labour from New Guinea, which is now a part 1 of the Commonwealth.
I have been aware for some time that that is what is desired by the big planters and coloured labour advocates. They wish to have the protection given them by Commonwealth legislation continued, and to be supplied with cheap coloured labour as well. This writer, in a newspaper which is the chief advocate of coloured labour in Australia, is not ashamed to say so straight out. The planters wish the bonus to remain as it is, and also to be allowed to recruit labourers from British New Guinea. They wish the Commonwealth to continue to give them an advantage of £3 per ton on sugar at the expense of the white people of Australia, in order that they may be able to carry on the industry with coloured labour from New Guinea. This is. what the amendment proposed by Senator Higgs would give them.
– It would continue the protection, but it would not give them black labour.
– It is a moot point whether we should be able to prevent these people recruiting coloured labour in New Guinea, which is now a Territory of the Commonwealth. Personally, I say, by all means let them have coloured labour from New Guinea if they please, but do not give them any protection as an encouragement to continue the industry with coloured labour. If we continue the protection to growers of sugar with white labour, and take away the protection from those who grow sugar with coloured labour, we shall hear no’ more about the necessity to recruit coloured labour in New Guinea and the unreliability of white labour. On the contrary, the coloured labour advocates engaged in the industry will, if the protection is taken away, soon be tumbling over each other to get rid of kanakas, Chinese, Japanese, and Cingalese, and go in for white labour, because that will then be the only profitable labour which can be employed in the industry. I again point out that the object of the legislation which has already been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament is to enable sugar to be grown by white labour, and not to subsidize its growth by coloured labour. I have shown what the sugar-planters of North Queensland are after at the present time, arid I have known for some time that this has been their object. These people are not slow to voice their wishes in the Federal Parliament. I have been buttonholed on various occasions by men interested in the sugar industry, and asked to withdraw my opposition to this scheme - because it can only be stigmatized as a “scheme to get the best of the white people of Australia. I have unhesitatingly refused to give any countenance whatever to it. To do so would not be in accordance with my election pledges, or with the wishes of the people of Queensland as a whole. It would not be in accord even with the wishes of the people in the sugar districts. I have lived nearly all my lifetime in the sugar districts of the far northern portion of Queensland, I have’ mixed with sugargrowers every day in the week, and, knowing intimately all that they desire, I say unhestitatingly that the great objection they have had to taking advantage of Federal legislation by growing sugar with white labour is the fact that the big companies exercising’ a controlling influence in the industry, from the Colonial Sugar’ Refining Company down to every central mill in the State, have put every possible obstacle in their way. It cannot be disputed that all sorts of obstacles have been placed in the way of the employment of white workers in the industry. I have letters which prove this, and no later than the present season obstacles have been placed in the way of white workers who have been engaged to cut cane. A big company has removed the portable railways which were being used for carrying the cane to the mill, on the ground that they were wanted elsewhere, with the result that the cane has lain perishing for three or four days, the mills have refused to take it, and the farmers have had to suffer the loss of that cane. These are some of the methods which some of the big planters have used to put difficulties in the way of successfully carrying on the industry with white labour. They hope that if they prove to the Federal Parliament that white labour cannot successfully carry on the industry, it will reverse the decision at which it has arrived on this question. They have openly said so. During the last three years, ‘ I heard the point put almost every day while I was resident in North Queensland, “ Let us prove this legislation to be a failure, and it must be .reversed.” However, they are beginning to see that the legislation is not likely to be reversed. But they are in hopes that it’ will be modified, as shown by the article to which I have referred. There has never been more than 10,000 kanakas in Queensland, and at present, there are no more than 8,500. No one will’ say that it is impossible to get 8,500 natives of New Guinea to take the place of the kanakas now in Queensland, and if this Parliament is foolish enough to accede to the wishes of these people, and base enough to betray the mandate of the people of Australia, there will be no difficulty in finding a substitute for the kanakas at present in the country. If those who employ coloured labour are to continue to enjoy the protection of ^3 per ton, the result will be that the people of Australia will be paying that amount to encourage the growth of sugar by coloured labour. I hope that this Parliament will not go. back on its determination to maintain Australia for the white races, and will not hold out any special inducements for the conduct of a great industry by coloured labour. I have sai’d sufficient to show my reasons for objecting to the amendment. I am satisfied that it has been moved by Senator Higgs with the best possible intention, and as a matter of expediency, be- cause in the opinion of the honorable senator, it would secure as great a concession as he thinks the Federal Parliament would be likely to grant. I am satisfied also that if the honorable senator understood the whole of the circumstances, as I understand them, and was as well aware of the evils arising in the sugar districts from the presence of coloured labour, “the amendment would never have been moved. Senator Higgs is a reasonable man, who is open to conviction. He is not willing to perpetrate the blunder which I believe the Federal Parliament unwittingly made in the legislation originally passed, and he has already intimated that he is prepared to withdraw his amendment, and allow my motion to be submitted as a straight-out issue. I reserve the remarks which I shall have to make on the most unfair speech which was delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, until I have an opportunity to reply to the debate on the original motion. I intend then to deal very fully with the remarks of the honorable, and learned senator.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - By way of personal explanation. I desire to say that I have no wish to stand in the way of Senator Givens’ motion being submitted to a straight-out vote of the Senate. We both desire to help the sugar industry. He seems to think that my amendment confuses the issue, and, therefore, I should be glad if the Senate would permit me to withdraw it, and give notice of it for a future day.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I am not prepared to support the motion, or, if it should come up again, the amendment. I cannot help feeling with the white sugar planter, and while I should like to do him justice, and try .to pass such legislation as would encourage him to car.rv on his industry, I have to remember that there are two objections to any proposal to help him. In Tasmania the question of revenue is an exceedingly serious one. The loss of revenue we have sustained under Federal legislation has practically capsized our financial arrangements, and also capsized a Ministry. If we had not lost our revenue from tea and kerosene, we could have stood a considerable loss of revenue from sugar, but considering that we have lost all revenue from those two sources, and about £25,000 a year from tobacco, we cannot go on suffering that loss. I ask honorable senators to think of the question of revenue just as I shall try to think of helping the planter. This is a question, not for Tasmania only, but for most of the States, and the Commonwealth. Owing to the shrinkage of revenue on the one hand and the increase of Federal expenditure on the other, the Commonwealth is getting very severe criticism. We have not inspired that confidence which we all hoped to see. Following up the matter of the revenue, I asked Senator Higgs what I regarded as a very pertinent question; but he confessed that he had not considered it. I was not a little startled at the request to continue the Sugar Bounty Act for ten years. I anticipated that the proposal would be to continue ‘for eight years the bounty on a sliding scale, under which it would diminish at . the rate of 5s. per ton per year. Are industries only to be kept alive by bounties ? Is every producer to run to the public purse when he gets into difficulty? Are we to be the one resource of the sugar planters, the fruit growers, and the farmers in that respect? There must be an end to this sort of thing. A very good case ought to be made out before the public purse is attacked, and when it is1 attacked in this particular way, surely we have a right to ask when the bounty is to cease. I do not think it was ever anticipated by any one that this bonus of £2 per ton would be renewed. We were told that, owing to the deportation of the kanakas, we must give the bounty to the planter until he got used to the new conditions, and sufficient white labour offered itself. It was never imagined, I think, by any person that the bonus was to continue for a very long period. The planters have a right to know where they are, but they have no right to ask us to give them still better terms. They are getting used to the conditions. We are glad to hear that white labour is doing the work. It is probable that white labour will increase; at the same time it is most satisfactory to know that the price of sugar has been reduced. These circumstances show that our legislation has been fairly good. Senator Givens seems to imagine that there is very much virtue in his proposal. He wishes to add to the disabilities of the coloured man. While I favour a White Australia within certain limits, I am not going to support the policy if it is to be accompanied by acts of injustice and gross wrong to our fellow-men. Having full confidence in the administration of the
Immigration Restriction Act, I ask whence are coloured men coming to Queensland ? If any Japanese, Hindoos, and Chinese are making their way to the sugar plantations, they are leaving other parts of the Commonwealth. Could we desire anything better than to see them settled in the tropics, where it is not particularly healthy for white men to be employed ? Do honorable senators wish to drive these men back to Sydney,, Melbourne, and Hobart? I should have thought that they would have been quite content to know that these men were making their way to tropical Queensland. ‘ If they are to be hunted out of the tropics, what is to become of them? Are they to be sent back to their own country, although they came here legally and honestly, and in some cases are our fellow citizens. I do not sympathize with any attempt to give effect to the doctrine of a White Australia in this atrocious manner. In every .debate on the sugar question the same cry is heard, and, to my mind, sentiments are used which shock any man who believes in fair play and justice, and knows that no nation can live to itself. If my honorable friends opposite cannot read the signs of the times, and do not know the history of the world, they will very soon find out that, like a nation,, a man cannot live to himself. I hope that the Government will oppose the motion.
– I felt a great deal of sympathy for the amendment which has been withdrawn. We must recognise that when Federation was consummated, Queensland was carrying on a very important and lucrative industry under certain conditions. For racial, national, and industrial reasons, we decided that the employment of kanakas should cease, and that they should be deported. Necessarily that meant that the cost of sugar production would be increased by the substitution of higherpriced labour. It was absolutely necessary to offer to Queensland some compensating advantage for the deprivation of her cheap coloured labour ; and therefore it was enacted that there should be a customs duty of £6 per ton on cane sugar, and of £10 per ton on beet sugar. Federation has been blamed, and continually blamed, by a certain class, for practically destroying the cane-sugar industry of that State. I venture to say that the reverse has been the case. I am so informed by some of the leading sugar-growers. Before Federation the price of sugar was about £18 per ton. Queensland received no advantage from any protective duty, because in each State her sugar was subjected to the same duty as foreign sugar. As she produced a much larger quantity than she consumed, the internal price in Queensland sank to the world’s price. After Federation, because the production of sugar in Australia is much less than the consumption, Queensland was able to reap the whole advantage of the protective duty. Almost simultaneously with the establishment of the Commonwealth there was a huge sugar trust, called the Cartel system, formed in Germany. There was a customs duty of £20 a ton on imported sugar, and an excise duty of £10 per ton. The leading beet planters and shippers joined together in a huge sugar trust, because they could see that, under those circumstances, they had £10 a ton to work upon. They were able, to raise the price of sugar to the German consumers by £8 a ton, and throw the surplus on the world’s market. It is a well known fact in economics that if there is an excess of 10 per cent, in production, it will very often bring down trie price of the commodity 30 per cent. In this case, the .excess brought the price of sugar down to about £8 or £10 per ton. If Federation had not taken place the sugar-growers in Queensland would now be obtaining £8 or £10 per ton. No sugar-cane industry in the world, with either coloured or white labour, could grow sugar for that price. When I paid a special visit to inspect the Bundaberg, Childers, and Maryborough canefields, some of the largest growers admitted that but for Federation they would have been ruined. We should be given credit for that result, at any rate. One of the heads of the German sugar trust boasted that in a few years they would destroy every cane-growing industry in the world. The position of the sugar-growers in the West Indies was so pitiful that the British Parliament had to vote a bonus or subsidy of £250,000 in order to keep them going. Free-trade Britain put a duty on sugar coming into India to countervail, first of all, the German bounty of 25s. per ton, and subsequently another dutv of a larger amount to countervail the ‘Cartel system. But for Federation, Queensland would have been in a similar position to the West Indies. I have never seen in a Queensland newspaper an admission that Federation has been of enormous advantage to the sugar industry. On .the contrary, it has been continually stated that the sugar industry has been ruined as a result of Federation. We should remember that the price of sugar is not fixed by the Australian duties, but by the huge sugar trusts of Germany, and other Continental nations. When we are considering a proposal to extend, for ten years, certain conditions, we should not forget that there are likely to ‘be large fluctuations in the price of sugar. If the Cartel system were abolished, as there was a possibility of it being a year or two ago, it might mean that the price of sugar would be increased from £8 or £10, to ,£18 a ton. All these matters should be looked at very carefully before we consider whether we shall ‘for a long period bind ourselves to certain conditions. At the same time, we should let Queensland understand that- we are determined that the sugar industry is not to be ruined without receiving some assistance from the Commonwealth Government. I have not gone carefully into the proposal of Senator Givens, and I cannot say, at the present time, whether I shall support it or not. I shall support the principle, but I do not say that I shall support the verbiage of the motion. Let me also point out that Queensland has certain duties to perform in this matter. She has to carry out her share of the contract. If we turn to the Immigration Restriction Act we shall find certain stipulations with regard to the deportation of kanakas. It contains this provision -
Nothing in this Act shall prevent the granting of licences as follows : - … During the year One thousand nine hundred and three, to the number of not more than one-half of the number of the Pacific Island labourers who have returned to their native islands during the year One thousand nine hundred and two.
That means that last year they were only allowed to import half the number that were transferred from Queensland back to the islands. But a. return is published in the Argus newspaper of the 16th of this month, which reads as follows : -
A return regarding the Pacific islanders in the State tabled in the Legislative Assembly showed that the total number of islanders, in Queensland in 1903 was 8,614, as compared with 8,878 in the previous year. The annual report, under the Emigration Act, upon Pacific Island immigration, also tabled, stated that 1,037 labourers arrived during the year, while 1,065, accompanied by thirty-two children, were returned.
So that, while the Act stipulates that twice the number shall return to the islands as come into Queensland, we find, as a mat- ter of fact, that 1,037 kanakas came in, whilst 1,065 - practically an equal number - returned. It seems to me that Queensland is not keeping to her share of the compact, if these figures be correct.
– Commonwealth officers may be responsible.
– I cannot say. I merely call attention to the figures. There is a discrepancy. It seems that the intentions of the Act are being evaded, and that the kanakas are not being returned as they ought to be.
– That is a serious matter, if it is correct.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.When the people of Australia are subscribing to assist the people of Queensland in maintaining their industry, we should see that the money goes into the right pockets. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is, however, enabled to make enormous profits out of the industry. I believe - though I cannot say for certain - that these profits have been considerably increased since the duties were placed on sugar and the bonus was granted. We should take care that a company like that, which practically fixes the price of sugar in Australia, and has lately increased the price to the consumer, shall not ,reap advantages from the sacrifices which the people of Australia have made to assist their white brothers in Queensland. Senator Dobson, in speaking just now, seemed to labour under the impression that it was a cruel hardship that we should have to continue, to pay a bonus on sugar grown by white labour in Queensland. But let us consider why an excise duty was imposed on sugar, rather than on any other product. It seems to me to be right, if we are going in for protection, that wherever possible we should grant protection to an industry which draws its product from the soil, as well as to industries that are concerned in manufacture. I cannot see any logical reason why there should be an excise duty on sugar at all, unless by means of it we intend to ‘differentiate between white and coloured labour. When we impose an excise dutv on sugar, we assume, first of all, that sugar-growing has as much right to be protected in a country that has adopted a protectionist policy, as has, say, the manufacture of machinery. That being so, we say, without any stipulation as to excise, that the sugar-growers are entitled to a protective duty. Why, then,- did we impose an excise duty of £3 a ton? That excise duty has been a large source of revenue to Tasmania and to other States. If it had not been for it, Tasmania would have been in a far worse financial position than she is in now. The bonus meant, first of all, a remission of a certain amount of excise. We established the bonus system because some States that were not consuming Queensland sugar were escaping their fair share of payments. I. think the people of Queensland will recognise that the representatives of Western Australia, without exception, voted for a bonus, though it meant a considerable demand upon that State every year. Formerly, by consuming imported sugar, Western Australia was practically paying nothing. But we were quite willing to incur this new obligation in order to show our desire to support a White Australia policy. Incidentally I would say to our Queensland friends, that when we are considering matters relating to other parts of Australia, they in their turn should consider them from an Australian stand-point, and should’ not assume a hostile attitude because what is proposed does not happen to be especially in the interests of Queensland. I hope that that attitude will always be adopted in regard to matters that affect the best interests of Australia. I should like to see this subject very carefully considered. We first of all have to consider the question of the price of sugar and then we have to remember that the price in Australia is regulated very much by the operations of the great sugar trusts of Europe. If by international agreement the Cartel system, against which the nations of Europe are protesting, is abolished, there will be an increase in the world’s price of sugar. That increase will have a vital effect upon the sugar’ industry in Australia. If sugar rises to£18 a ton in the world’s markets, our duty of£6 per ton will practically raise the price to the Australian consumer to -£24. per ton. That would be a very heavy price for us to pay for our sugar, and a considerable burden upon the people of this country. We have to see that the sacrifice that the people of Australia are making for this industry benefits those whom we desire to benefit, the white growers, and does not go into the pockets of a huge sugar trust like the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which practically regulates Australian prices within certain limits, and is reaping enormous advantages from the industry. When Senator Higgs was commenting the other day rather unfavorably upon a proposal which I made in regard to differentiating in rela tion to the products of the New Hebrides, he made allusion to the question of coloured labour.
– The honorable senator is out of order in referring to a previous debate.
– I am merely mentioning the’ matter by way of illustration. Senator Higgs said that the products of coloured labour should be taxed at the highest possible rates of duty, and that we should differentiate against them. It israther a peculiar comment upon that attitude that, at the instance of Senator Higgs and others, we have adopted a system by which we impose a duty of £10 a ton on sugar grown by white labour, with higher wages and shorter hours of labour, and impose a duty of£6 per ton on sugar grown in Mauritius, West Indies, Fiji, Java, and other places, which is grown purely by coloured labour, paid at something like3½d. per day.
– That is under the bounty system.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Certainly it is, but when we lay down general rules we should recognise that there are exceptions. ‘ Senator Playford has pointed out an exception in this case. But there are also exceptions in other cases. Why cannot Senator Higgs recollect that there are exceptions in the case of the New Hebrides? I should like the honorable senator to consider the special factors in that case before attempting to lay down general principles. I do not say that I shall support the amendment, but I am thoroughly in accord with the spirit of it, and I do not see why we should grant a bonus for the growth of sugar by coloured labour. But I see every reason why we should allocate some of the revenue which is derived from our excise duty to the encouragement of the growth of sugar by white labour in Queensland.
– In common with other honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this question, I am in sympathy with the object which Senator’ Givens has in view, but it will be my duty to vote against his motion. It seems to me that it would be much better for us to wait for the Government to bring in ah amendment of the existing Act. Some honorable senators may not be aware that before Federation there was a duty of £5 per ton in Queensland. At that time, as we all know, theplanters had cheap labour. It is quite true, as Senator Smith
– What is the loss to the revenue through not receiving the full amount of excise that should be paid in respect of black-grown sugar?
– Personally, of course, I am a free-trader, and should be very glad to see the excise duty made equal to the import duty. But I am pointing out what will be the effect of continuing the benefit of £5 a ton on all sugar grown by white labour. The sugar consumption of Australia is 150,000 tons per annum, and that quantity multiplied by five represents a loss of revenue of ,£750,000 a year. Personally, as an old Queenslander, I was very much disappointed that that State did not join the Convention when the Commonwealth Constitution was being drafted. I pointed out in a communication to every Queensland member of Parliament, and to the leading newspapers ‘of Brisbane, the desirableness of that State being represented in the Convention, even if it did not intend to join the Federation from the commencement. From our experience of the influence exercised by the Western Australian delegates, we can see how different the Constitution would have been had Queensland been represented.
– The honorable senator means that the planters would have been able to retain the kanaka?
– They probably would have had a longer term of cheap labour, and possibly a colour line would have been drawn. I may mention that the Messrs. Gibson, who are well-known sugar planters in the Bundaberg district, are seriously considering the advisability of going in for cotton planting instead of sugar
– Would the honorable senator give them a minimum wage?
– I was coming to that. In Queensland we have in power at the present time, a Government which is supposed to be largely dominated by the Labour Party. There are in that Government two very able men, Mr. Kidston, and Mr. Airey. Mr. Airey, I believe, is the Minister of Labour.
– There is no Minister of Labour in Queensland ; Mr. Airey is the Home Secretary.
– At any rate, labour legislation is principally administered by his Department.
– A good deal of it, but not all; the Public Works Department is not under his control.
– During this debate [ made an interjection with regard to something which Mr. Airey had recently done. The following paragraph explains what I mean -
Queensland Labour Minister Airey has arranged for fifteen aboriginals to be sent -from the Durundur Settlement to Peel Island to prepare land for the cultivation of vegetables for Dunwich Asylum. The blacks will receive 3s. per week and keep. This is not the minimum wage, it is about as close to it as one can get.
– I suppose that would include clothes.
– Possibly ; but the kanakas also get two suits of clothes per annum, and a free passage to and from their islands, as well as 10s. a month wages. I want to show the inconsistency of the Labour Party in this matter. When one of their own party gets into power he sees how ridiculous it is to talk of fixing a minimum wage for aboriginals, and pays them 3s. a week and supplies.
– Does the honorable senator think that that matter has anything to do with the sugar bonus question ?
– I am quoting this to show that a Labour Minister endeavours to obtain cheap labour for government work and does not think it improper to pay that labour at a rate of which honorable senators opposite would not approve as a minimum wage.
– It must be remembered that the Queensland Government have been keeping these aboriginals for some time past.
– I quite approve of Mr. Airey’s conduct, but I do not understand how honorable senators opposite can reconcile it with their principles.
– What kind of blacks are they?
– Aboriginal natives, of Queensland.
– It is their duty to keep them for nothing.
– No doubt it is. But were we not told by an honorable senator opposite that there are thousands of square miles in Western Australia that are perfectly useless, owing to there being blackfellows there. I remember that I interjected, “ Possibly the blacks think that it is their own country,” and Senator Symon interjected, “ Possibly they object to’ white labour.” This White Australia business is becoming absolutely ridiculous. Why do not honorable senators opposite encourage European emigration?
– I must ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the motion.
– If we were allowed to introduce Italians and others from Europe under contract, we should not have to trouble ourselves very much about the bonus that is being asked for. I propose to postpone further remarks on the question until the Bill dealing with the subject is before us. I sympathize with the planters, and I think they should be given the bonus on a gradually diminishing scale, and that it should not suddenly stop in two years from this date.
– If a few hundred Hindoo bank directors were introduced to New South Wales, the honorable senator might view the matter in a different light.
– I am an outandout free-trader, and probably I should go to India, and be able to earn a crust there. I wish it to be understood that I sympathize with the sentiment underlying Senator Givens’ motion, but I think the honorable senator has adopted an indiscreet way of giving expression to it.
Senator STEWART (Queensland)__ I intend to support the motion moved by Senator Givens. I would remind honorable senators who have spoken in opposition to it, that the question we are really discussing, is whether we are to have a White Australia or not. The people of the Commonwealth have pronounced a most decided verdict that Australia shall be white. Are they prepared to pay the price to bring that about? If they are, good and well, and if they are not, I suppose they will not be able to achieve their professed object, and all this talk about a White Australia will be neither more nor less than so much froth and fury, without any real meaning behind it. What does Senator Givens’ motion come to? It simply means that in future no protection will be given in respect of any sugar produced by black labour; in other words,that the people of the Commonwealth will not be called upon to pay a protective duty on a product grown and manufactured with the assistance of coloured labourers. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. If the question by itself were put before the people of Australia, I have not the slightest doubt of what their answer would be ; but the very moment the question of finance becomes involved in it, we find differences of opinion expressed.
– The question of finance is very strongly in evidence.
– That is so. A majority of honorable senators profess to be in favour of a White Australia; but some are not prepared to pay the price of it.
– Not at other people’s expense.
– Has the honorable senator any idea of how much it means?
– I have a very clear idea of how much it means. I think that it means close upon£1, 000,000 per annum for a number of years. I quite understand that, and there can be no doubt it is a very serious burden to place on the shoulders of the people of Australia. But when they entered Federation they did so presumably with their eyes open. They have declared by a unanimous verdict that Australia shall be white.
– They cannot manage it, because we have so many blacks here already.
– This is a part of the price which the people must pay for the process of white-washing. Senator Walker says that we cannot have a White Australia. I agree that we have a very large number of aborigines here whom we cannot deport, and who must be provided for in some way. But this legislation has no reference whatever to them. Every citizen of the Australian Commonwealth is prepared to act justly by the aboriginal population. Their existence need not be brought into the discussion at all. What we are concerned with in this matter is the large number of kanakas, Chinese, Japanese, and other Asiatics who are here. These are the people to whom the legislation to which we are referring more immediately applies. It is with them we are proposing to deal. To come back to the question of a White Australia, if the people of Australia are in earnest on this matter they will not grudge a sum even of£1, 000,000 per annum to bring it about. I for one would not agree to an indefinite extension of the period during which the bonus shall be paid. When I stood for re-election last year in Queensland I told the people in the sugar districts that I would not be a party to anything of the kind I shall tell honorable senators why. With proper legislation and administration, I do. not think there need be any necessity to continue the payment of this bonus for a period longer than that mentioned by Senator Higgs - up to1915. Indeed, I think that if the State Government of Queensland does its duty it will not be necessary to continue the payment of the bonus for so long.
– That would mean a cost of£11,000,000.
– Surely honorable senators know very well that if Senator Givens’ motion is not carried, the present legislation will continue, and a very much Jess sum per annum be paid ? I assume that honorable senators know the difference between the figures under the existing law and what they would be under Senator Givens’ proposed amendment. My first reason for not favouring an indefinite con- . tinuance of the bonus is that a very large amount of the profit annually derived from the Queensland sugar industry finds its way into the pockets of the shareholders of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I told the people in December last that in all probability the various States in the Commonwealth would in time become tired of paying even the present bonus, and it was their duty to put their house in order against that time. I pointed out one way in which they could help themselves, and that was by the institution of a State refinery or refineries. I believe that if that were done, it would be possible to discontinue the payment of the bonus almost at once.
– Is the Millaquin refinery paying well at the present time?
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s refinery is paying very well.
– In Fiji.
– I am aware that the Company derives considerable revenue from Fiji, and also from New South Wales ; but a very large proportion of its dividends is derived from Queensland.
– Are they putting up any new mills in Queensland?
– It must not be forgotten that owing to the drought the sugar lindustry in Queensland has been under a cloud to some extent during the last two years.
– They have put up a refinery in Brisbane, and they do not require another.
– What has become of the Yengarie refinery?
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is acting as an octopus, and is crushing out other refineries in Queensland.
– The Millaquin refinery is still going.
– I find that a very large profit is annually made in the industry in Queensland. I say that a State refinery is a natural sequence of State subsidized mills. If the people of Queensland are. anxious that the industry should be continued, they will take every means to insure its continuance without leaning indefinitely against the Commonwealth. Therefore, I say that one of the first things the Queensland State Government should undertake is the establishment .of a State refinery or refineries. If it were within the province of the Commonwealth to do so I should advise that the Commonwealth should take action in this direction. I suppose that under the Constitution it would not be permissible for the Commonwealth to embark in a venture of that kind. There is another method by which the Government of Queensland, if it cared to take action, could very materially assist the sugar ‘industry, and that is by the imposition of a land value tax. The history of the Queensland Central Mills is a most interesting one, and I think it would almost persuade Senator Zeal of the necessity for the imposition of a land values tax if he knew of all its ramifications.
-Honorable senators opposite seem to think that taxation means prosperity.
– I wish to let honorable senators know exactly how things have been operating in Queensland in the various sugar districts. The mode of operation has been something like this : A number of large land-owners, who either could not or would not do anything with their holdings except keep a few cattle upon them, met together and resolved that they would go in for sugar-cane growing. They sent a deputation to the Government to get an advance sufficiently large to erect a central sugar mill. The moment the promise to erect the mill was given, and before a single farthing was expended, the value of the land held by these men was immediately increased in some cases fivefold, and in other cases tenfold. Land that was previously worth barely £1 an acre rose in value to £10 an acre as a result of tha mere promise of the expenditure of public money, and not by reason of anything .the land-owners themselves had done, or proposed to do. In a great many cases these land-owners were the directors of the mills established, and what did they do? They sold their lands to cultivators in small areas on long terms. They advanced them food, found them in implements and horses, and almost everything they required. I do not find any fault with them for that. I say it was a most excellent system if carried out in a square and proper manner, but it has not been so carried out. These central mills paid a very much higher price for cane than did companies like the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. They told the farmers that they would give them from us. to 12s., and in some cases 14s. per ton for their cane.
– According to density, I suppose? ‘
– Yes ; according to density. The arrangement with the Government was that every year a certain amount of interest and principal was to be repaid. The land-owners, being directors of’ the companies, carefully refrained from paying off any of their liabilities to the Government, but were equally careful to pay themselves the extravagant prices I have referred to for their land out of the high prices they fixed for the cane. I wish honorable senators to note this: They paid themselves, and allowed their liabilities to the country to accumulate, until, I think, that at the present moment there is owing to the State of Queensland, in connexion with these central mills, in principal and interest, something between £700,000 and £800,000; while the land-owners have got out with very large sums of money to which they were not morally entitled. The result is that the industry has been verv seriously over-capitalized. Hitherto it has been unable to pay anything like fair wages to workers.
– Is the honorable senator aware that every shareholder in a central mill had to give a first charge on his property to the Government?
– Yes ; but what would the land be worth if the mills were taken away ? In many cases the mills were erected where there was no possibility of a sufficient quantity of cane being grown to keep them going. The whole business has been carried on in a most improper fashion. All this gerrymandering, or “ thimble-rigging,” or financing, has been made possible by the fact that the canegrowers were able to get cheap labour in the persons of unfortunate kanakas. The small holder paid an extravagant price for his land, - expecting that he would” get cheap labour. Financial institutions advanced money freely to probable buyers for the very same reason.
– Where the Government had. a first charge on a property the banks were very careful ?
– In a number of cases the banks advanced very considerable sums to the mills, and while the interest and the advances were religiously paid the debts to the Government were allowed to go on.
– The probability is that the banks had joined in several bonds.
– The Government had a first charge on the properties, but the administration of the law was so lax that the banks were able to get their money while the Government had to whistle for their share. All this mismanagement has over-capitalized the industry, and it is now saddled with an interest payment which is very much beyond its capacity to bear. Hence the sugar cane-growers continually cry out that unless they are provided’ with cheap labour the industry is bound to perish. The members of this Parliament and the people in Queensland must bear a share of the blame for this very unfortunate state of affairs. But while we are prepared to accept that responsibility, we submit that a stop should be put to this method of conducting matters. However much we may have gone wrong in the past, we are now determined to mend our ways, and to proceed on rational lines. So long as the cane-growers in the more northern parts of Queensland are permitted to employ coloured labour of .any description, so long will not only the White Australia problem be unsolved, but an entire industry be placed on a false financial basis. In his motion, Senator Givens strikes at the very root of the whole matter. He asks the Senate to resolve that no further protection shall be given to sugar grown by coloured labour. If that protection were withdrawn, the industry would at once fall into the hands of white men, and be placed on a proper business footing, and not only the people of the Commonwealth, but the sugar-growers would know exactly where they stood. If, however, a promise to continue the bounty be given, what will be the result? The gamble in sugar land which has been taking place more or less for three or four years, will continue, and will become accentuated as time goes on. What was the result of the institution of the bounty in some portions of Queensland ? In many cases the value of sugar land was doubled. Over capitalization went on just as it did previously. If the bounty be continued indefinitely, the same state of affairs will continue, until ultimately .the whole thing will break down of its own weight. We ‘ ought to begin to clear the way by making some provision which will insure that all sugar grown in Australia shall be produced by its white population. When that policy has been enacted, we shall have taken not only1 a most. decided step towards bringing about a White Australia, but an immense stride towards putting the sugar industry on a healthy national foundation. Until we adopt that plan, any action we may take will be of a mere tinkering character; it cannot be permanent in its results, nor can it be satisfactory to the people in those parts. Senator Dobson seems to be animated much more by the sordid consideration of hard cash than by the lofty ideal of a White Australia. He deplored the loss of revenue to Tasmania. That is a very mean form of taxation .which is compelled to resort to the sugar basin. The honorable and learned senator would be not only finding revenue for Tasmania, but doing the little isle the greatest service that any statesman has ever rendered if he could persuade the State Parliament, instead of leaning against the sugar basin, to put a very stiff land value tax on the large areas of unoccupied country there.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he had better keep his nose out of other people’s business?
– Unfortunately, or fortunately, the Constitution of the Commonwealth has given each member of this Parliament a long nose; and it is his duty, however disagreeable it may be, to suggest ways and means by which Tasmania may find the necessary revenue. I am astonished that any member of this Parliament should place the mere question of revenue in the balance, as against the question of a White Australia. If the people of Victoria want a White Australia, they ought to be prepared to pay for it. The Age and Argus complain that Victoria is losing money owing to the sugar bounty, and that if legislation on the lines of this motion be passed, she will lose so much more. It is more profitable to the working men and women of Victoria to contribute this sum to assist in bringing about a White Australia than it would be to contribute perhaps half a million per annum in sugar taxation to save the landowners from paying their fair quota to the revenue. There are two alternatives before the working men and women, of Victoria. Either they can contribute about half a million per annum to purge Australia of the coloured curse, or they can contribute that amount “to save the rich landowners from that taxation which ought to be imposed upon them. I do not think that they would hesitate to adopt the latter alternative. I know that the question of revenue is a most serious one to the various States. When Federation was in its first bloom we were enthusiastic for a White Australia, and a great many other things ; but the blossom has departed, and now we are beginning to count the cost. Many of us, I am sorry to say, have come to the conclusion that we are called upon to pay rather much for our whistle. I think it would be wisdom on the part of the Senate if it agreed to the motion. It would place the whole question upon an understandable basis. It would be an effective remedy. It would show the cane-growers of Northern Queensland that the people of the Commonwealth were not in a mood to be trifled with on this question ; that they had made up their minds finally that Australia was to be a white man’s country, and that the sugar industry must be carried on, if at all, by white labour. If we allow things to drift on in their present condition, how shall we stand? We shall have a continual agitation in the northern parts of Queensland against the White Australia legislation. The large planters have been so accustomed to influence Governments, and to change their declared policy, that no doubt they are hopeful of being able to persuade this Parliament to alter its policy. Consequently, every obstruction will be placed in the way of. the legislation we are considering. Every impediment will be thrown across its path. Every device which can bring this legislation into disrepute will be tried - with what ultimate result it will be difficult for any one to foretell. Senator Givens has told us something in this connexion. If time permitted I could cite a large number of instances where every conceivable stratagem has been attempted to bring discredit on the legislation relating to the sugar industry. Now that the old idea that white men could not work in the cane-fields has been exploded other bogeys have been called up. So long as the Commonwealth appears to halt between two opinions, as it evidently does now, so long will the sugar industrybe in an unsettled condition, and so long will those engaged in it, more especially in the far northern portions of Queensland, continue their agitation for the amendment or repeal of the law. I say, in conclusion, that if we are in earnest with regard to the White Australia question, Senator Givens has thrown down the gauntlet. If we do not accept his challenge we can be accused of half-heartedness We cannot by any stretch of imagination be called, thorough, and nothing but a thorough policy will avail us in a question of such dimensions. We cannot afford to temporize with it. We cannot afford to truckle with it. We must put our foot down firmly and at once, if we are anxious to carry out our expressed intention to bring about a White Australia. I therefore ask honorable senators who appear to waver on this question, not to wait until the Government take action. Why should we wait for the Government? We are a Senate. We are the representatives of the various Australian States. We are presumed to be committed to the policy of a White Australia. Senator Givens challenges us to show our bona fides with regard to this policy. Let us accept his challenge, and show that we believe that our actions are at least in accord with our principles. We shall do that by passing this motion.
– Although I am not a Queensland representative, still I think that this is a question which the representatives of other States have to take into serious consideration, because while we are paying bounties to an industry which is carried on chiefly in Queensland, though partly in New South Wales, those bounties have to be paid by the people of the other States. Questions of taxation are of vital interest to the people of all the States. Senator Givens’ motion has much to recommend it. His proposal has many advantages over the legislation which is now upon our Statute-book. But, at the same time, I do not think that the honorable senator has given proof that an additional bounty, to the extent he proposes, is necessary in order effectually to carry on the sugar industry by white labour. I quite agree with his contention, that thereis no good reason why we should protect the grower of sugar by black labour in Australia against the grower of sugar by blacklabour in Mauritius or the West Indies. No good reason can be given why planters who employ coloured labour should receive any protection.
– That honorable senator is a free-trader.
– But does Senator Mulcahy believe in protecting black labour ?
– I can account for the honorable senator’s views.
– Can Senator Mulcahy account for his own? Can he, as a protectionist, justify protecting an industry which is attempted to be carried on by black labour ?
– Would it not be simpler to wipe out the bonus altogether, and to wipe out the Excise duty, so far as white-grown sugar is concerned, and to retain the Excise duty in regard to blackgrown sugar ?
– That is another way cf getting at what we want ; but it has this disadvantage : That there is a monopoly concerned in this business. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company would take very good care that none of the advantage went to the grower. Under this proposal, however, we have a method of giving the grower some direct advantage. That seems to me to be the fatal flaw in the course suggested by Senator Smith.. Therefore, I find myself in complete’ agreement with Senator Givens’ desire to discontinue protection to the grower by black labour. He rightly says that it was never the intention of the first Commonwealth Parliament to foster the growth of sugar by coloured labour. Therefore, I shall certainly give a vote to take away all protection from such growers. But I do not altogether agree with Senator Givens’ further proposal. It is admitted that at the present time, with a bounty of 4s. per ton on sugarcane, white labour is being employed to an increasing degree. It is gradually taking the place of black labour.
– Very gradually.
– But we must remember that at the present time, there is an incentive, to continue the employment of black labour, because all the growers in Queensland are protected. If we take away that protection and say that the employers of black labour shall have no protection - if we say, “ We have given you until 1907 to make this alteration, and if you decide not to make it,- we shall discontinue” that protection,” we shall find that the growth of sugar by white labour will increase very rapidly. The course which I recommend would accelerate the speed with which these growers would substitute white for coloured labour.
– At present, j£6 a ton is paid on all sugar ; but there is a rebate of £5.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator proposes that there shall be no rebate whatever.
– I propose that there shall be no rebate on sugar grown by coloured labour. But Senator Givens’ proposal is to increase the bounty to the grower of sugar by white labour from 4s. per ton to 10s. per ton.
– That is equivalent to the present position.
– It is equivalent to an increase of 120 per cent.
– It does not increase . the rate; it is merely an alteration of the method.
– It is an alteration which is very beneficial to the grower. Instead of getting 4s. per ton, he will get 10s. per tori as a direct bounty. The weak point in Senator Givens’ proposal is that he has not shown a necessity for that increase of bounty to enable the grower to grow sugar by white labour.
– I say that it is not an increase ; it is simply an alteration.
– Let us not forget that this is the only natural industry which the Commonwealth has agreed to subsidize. Why should we not subsidize the growth of wheat or hops?
– We do not put an excise duty on those articles.
– Do we not protect the wine industry ?
– We do not ‘pay a bonus to the wine-growers. The point which I wish to make is this - that we have singled out this particular industry, and said that we will give a bounty to the growers of sugar. The only two States which benefit from the bounty are Queensland and New South Wales. So far as New South Wales is concerned, it is admitted that the growers can continue without a change in the operation of the duty. But because of the provisions of the Constitution we cannot differentiate between two States. Under Senator Givens’ proposal we should give the people of New South Wales who grow sugar 10s. a ton instead of 4s. Senator Givens must see on consideration that he is asking for too much. I do not intend to move an amendment. We are considering an abstract proposal. We are not being asked now to legislate. I shall vote for the motion, but on the distinct understanding that when definite proposals, are brought forward I shall certainly not feel committed to anything of the kind now suggested. It is admitted that under the present arrangement there is a’ tendency for white labour to be employed instead of black. That tendency is increasing. If we were to deprive the employer of black labour of all protection the tendency would increase to a greater extent. In that way probably Senator Givens’ object would be attained. I think we can attain our object without making an enormous increase in the bounty paid to the white grower.
– It must be remembered that black-grown sugar is imported from other countries.
– That would have to come in against the £6 a ton protectionist wall.
– But does not the honorable senator propose to remove that?
– No. The £6 a ton would still be a bar against imported sugar. At present the revenue gets £3 a ton, and the grower gets £2. Under Senator Givens’ proposal the grower would get the whole of the £5, and the revenue would not get anything. I propose to vote for the motion as an indication that I am not satisfied with the existing legislation, and am prepared to vote for such legislation as will remove any protection to the local grower of’ sugar who employs black labour. I am prepared also, if sufficient proof can be brought forward to justify it, to increase the bounty paid on whitegrown sugar. But I am not convinced that it is right to increase it to the amount proposed by Senator Givens. We have to remember that such an alteration would altogether upset the existing revenue conditions of the States. It would revolutionize those conditions. I am prepared to listen to anything which the Queensland representatives, who speak with authority on this subject, may have to say as to increasing the bounty if that is necessary. But I am not prepared at this juncture to commit myself as far forward as 1915. Before any such proposal is carried we should have very full data to act- upon. We should have the fullest information, and. if necessary should obtain for ourselves some personal knowledge of the conditions of the industry.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - If this debate has disclosed anything it has made perfectly obvious the danger of dealing by artificial means with the cultivation of any particular article. It is represented that some sort of protection must absolutely be given to the sugar.growers to enable them to produce their sugar by white labour. We know perfectly well that before Federation the sugar production in Queensland had practically overtaken the consumption in .that State, and there was a duty on imported sugar although it practically - brought no revenue into the coffers of Queensland. The Queensland growers were enabled to grow satisfactorily under the conditions that then existed.
– They were not natural conditions.
– I say they were natural, so far as soil, climate, and considerations of that kind were concerned. But it was recognised by the growers in Queensland that it was necessary that they should employ black labour in order that they might cultivate satisfactorily. Kanaka labour had been employed for some years when an Act was passed to limit the time during which kanaka labour should be available, but before that time had expired the Queensland Parliament legislated for a continuance of this class of labour, but limiting it to certain tropical industries, not so suitable for white men as coloured men within the coastal districts.
– Why these injurious restrictions, if they are “ our dear brothers “ ?
.- They may be our brothers, but it was thought they were better adapted for this work. These restrictions were placed upon them, and under the system then established the sugar industry progressed. This legislation shows that the opinion of the people of Queensland had undergone a change. With the establishment of the Commonwealth we passed legislation preventing the influx of coloured aliens. If there were no legislation of this character, Senator Givens’ position would be much stronger than it is at present, but, as Senator Pearce has reminded us, we have also passed the Pacific Islands Labourers Act, which provided for the gradual cessation of the importation of these men into the Commonwealth. It was thought at the time that this legislation would work the cure considered desirable by a majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament, and would throw the whole of the work of the industry into the hands of the white labourers. If honorable members will consider all the circumstances, they must agree that coloured labour will, in view of the restrictive legislation which we have passed, ultimately become entirely extinct in this industry. Senator Givens is. trying to hasten the time at which it will, cease, instead of allowing events to take their natural course under the legislation to which we have agreed.
– I wish other legislation to supersede that which we have passed’.
-The honorable senator is also, by his motion, saying that, while we recognise that ‘there al coloured men in the Commonwealth who came here legally, and have a right to remain, we should prevent their employment in those industries for which they are better adapted than are white men.
– I do not wish to prevent them from being employed; but I say that if they engage in the industry we should not subsidize them..
.- They are here, and we have no right to prevent them earning an honest livelihood.
– We need not subsidize them.
.- We must either allow them to earn an honest livelihood, or we must keep them, and Senator Givens will agree with me that it is better they should be allowed to earn an honest livelihood than that we should have to keep them. The moment we shut lip the avenues of employment for this class of labour, we shall place these men in an unfair position as residents of the Commonwealth. That is a very serious objection to the motion submitted by Senator Givens.
– That objection will hold good as against the legislation already passed.
– Under the legislation which has already been passed, these men will gradually disappear from our community, but while they are here they should have an opportunity .to earn their living fairly and honestly.. Under our legislation we give a preference of £2 per ton of sugar produced for the employment of white’ labour as against coloured labour.
– The honorable and learned senator’s objection applies to that legislation.
.- Yes. but not in the same degree. The legislation we have passed to that effect is bearing fruit, as honorable senators will see from the returns which have been issued, showing the increase in the number of white labourers employed in Ihe production of sugar. Quoting from the papers submitted with the Budget for 1904, I find that in the State of Queensland in 1902, there were 1,521 producers of sugar with white labour, whilst in 1904 the .number had increased to 2,142. In 1902 the percentage of white labour employes was 60, and in 1904 it had risen to 67 per cent. This shows a gradual increase in the number of those producing sugar with white labour.
– Those figures do not show the percentage of coloured labour employed in the industry.
.- They show the number of white producers, and the areas under cultivation by white and black labour are also given.
– They do not show the number of men employed.
.- I have no returns giving those figures, but dealing with the number of producers the figures show an increase from 60 per cent, of white producers in 1902 to 67 per cent, in 1904.
– What is the percentage of sugar produced by white and black labour ?
.- As the honorable senator is aware, there has been very little black labour employed in the sugar industry in New South Wales, because )the circumstances of the industry there are quite different from those existing in Queensland. Possibly there is not much to be derived from a reference to the progress of the industry in that State.
– There is a lot.
.- In New South Wales the percentage in 1902 was 89*7, and in 1904 it was 88’i, showing a slight decrease in -the number of white producers in that State. With respect to the area in acres under cultivation by white and black labour in Queensland in 1902, 37 per cent, of the area in acres was under cultivation with white labour, and in 1004 it had increased to 49^. per cent. With regard to the sugar production, I find that in Queensland white labour produced in 1902 12,254 tons, and in 1904 31,190 tons.
– That is a substantial increase.
– It is a very considerable increase. In New South Wales the quantity of sugar produced by white labour in 1902 was 19,434 tons, as against 18,600 tons in 1904, snowing a slight decrease. But in Queensland, the State in which the coloured labour question is really a burning question, a marked diminution is shown in the employment of coloured labour, and a marked increase in the employment of white labour. The quantity of cane grown in Queensland in 1902 hy white labour was 105,000 tons, and in 1904 it had increased to 277,900 tons. These figures show that in every respect in Queensland our legislation had been most effective. We require to hasten slowly in all these matters. After all, we are only experimenting, and I ask honorable senators’ whether it would be reasonable to wipe out the sugar industry in order to prevent coloured labour being employed in connexion with it.
– No one is proposing to wipe it out, and the honorable and learned senator knows that.
D- I hope that I am wrong, but I believe there are some honorable senators whose views are so extreme .that they would sooner destroy the sugar industry of Queensland than have any coloured labour employed in it.
– The honorable and learned senator’s leader, the present Prime Minister, expressed; practically the same view as you attribute to us. Is Senator Gould going back upon him?
.- I am responsible only for my own opinion. In order to provide continuous labour for white men in the sugar mills of Queensland, it became necessary to employ black men. It was just as reasonable to do that as to employ horses, bullocks, or machinery to make the employment of white men possible in any other industry. We have been told by Senator Drake, whose speech I have had an opportunity of reading, what an important bearing this motion has from the revenue point of view. Whatever our legislation may be, we must consider the finances and revenue of the Commonwealth. While New South Wales and Queensland may do very well with big bonuses, it cannot be pleasing to the people of the other States of the Commonwealth where sugar is not grown, to have to contribute to the support of comparatively a very few sugar-growers in the two larger States.
– The honorable and learned senator should go to the sugar dis- tricts of New South Wales and tell the people that.
.- I should not object to do so. The people of the sugar districts in New South Wales have been told it, and many of them have found it to their interests to go in for dairying instead of for sugar-growing. It should also be borne in mind that we have to decide whether we shall have sugar grown by coloured: labour in Australia or bycoloured labour elsewhere. If we are to consume any sugar produced by coloured labour it is better that it should be grown in the Commonwealth where the carrying on of the industry will give employment to the white workers of our population.
– T - That is not the freetraders’ creed.
.- I am not dealing with the matter from the freetraders’ point of view, but comparing the two propositions. I may tell Senator O’Keefe that the free-trader is as anxious for the prosperity of the industries of the country as is the most ardent “protectionist.
– H - He does not adopt that method of showing it as a rule.
– Senator Pearce said that he would sooner that the people of the Commonwealth consumed sugar grown elsewhere by coloured labour than sugar grown by coloured labour in our midst. I do not agree with the honorable senator. I think it is. better that we should allow matters connected with the sugar industry to go on as they are at present. What will be the effect of Senator Givens’ motion if it should be carried, and become operative? The honorable senator desires that the whole of the sugar grown in Australia should be grown by white labour, and also that Australia should consume it all. If what the honorable senator desires were realized on the basis of the present consumption of 187,000 tons, our revenue from sugar would be cut down to £187,000, whilst the consumer would not be one whit better off. Sugar would be increased in cost by £6 per ton, and the people of Australia would be called upon, for the sake of the revenue of £187,000, to pay something like £1,000,000 to the growers of sugar. I ask honorable senators whether that would be reasonable when, under the law as it stands at present, we are gradually diminishing the employment of coloured labour in the industry, which is looked upon so unfavorably. We are increasing the growth of sugar by white labour, and ultimately the effect of the law at present in force will be that coloured labour will disappear. We shall then have sugar grown in the Commonwealth only by white labour, whilst the people will have the benefit either of a reduction in the price at which sugar will be sold, or a revenue of £4 per ton for distribution amongst the States.
– Under existing legislation, the revenue gets £1 per ton as it would get under my proposal.
– No, it gets £4 per ton. The difference between Customs and Excise is £3 per ton, and whilst the Excise is £3 per ton and the bonus £2 per ton, there is a margin of £1 per ton to be added. The Commonwealth benefits therefore to the extent of £4 per ton, whilst under Senator Givens’ proposal, the growers would get £5 per ton.
– -The revenue does not now benefit to the extent of £4 per ton?
– Senator Givens has given a great deal of attention to this matter, and I do not question the bond fides of the honorable senator, or those who are supporting him. I am satisfied that they believe that what they propose will be best in the interest of the Commonwealth, but I must be allowed to hold my own view. A promise? has been made by the Government that the whole matter will receive the most careful consideration at an early date. The pre.sent system will come to an end in two or three years, and we must take time by the forelock and be prepared with the necessary legislation when the emergency requiring it arises. It would be well if, instead of attempting to carry an abstract motion such as that before the Senate, Senator Givens, now that it has been fully discussed, would allow it to be withdrawn. The Government have had an opportunity of hearing the honorable senator’s views, and will no doubt take them into consideration when dealing with the legislation to be submitted. My vote will be cast against the motion, not because I do not desire to give the Queensland sugar-growers the fullest justice in the circumstances, and not because I desire to break away from the law we have passed with respect to a White Australia, but because, notwithstanding the opinion which Senator Givens may hold of my views, I am as much in earnest in my desire to keep our race pure and uncontaminated as he is himself. I prefer, however, to adopt less violent and more equitable and reasonable methods to attain the same object.
– I shall not detain the Senate for more than a few minutes. I wish, first of all, to refer to a rebuke conveyed by Senator Smith in respect of the administration of the Pacific Islands Labourers Act, founded upon a newspaper telegram from Brisbane, appearing in the Argus.
– It seemed to involve a contradiction, which I wish the representatives of the Government to explain.
– I do not think it involves a contradiction. The explanation is so very obvious that I am sure Senator Smith will see it immediately his attention is called to it. The honorable senator referred to the fact that during the year 1903 no fewer than 1,037 kanakas arrived in the Commonwealth, whilst 1,065, accompanied by thirty-two children, were returned to the islands. That, of course, shows a difference of only from thirty or forty, if we exclude the children, between the arrivals and returns. The explanation is that the number arriving in one year cannot *oe compared with the number returned during the same year. We must compare the number who arrive in one year with the number returned’ in the preceding year. Of course, the number of those returned gradually diminishes. The fact that almost an equal number have arrived this year up to the 31st March, as has been returned during the same period this year, is not a matter of any great importance. We must remember that the number arriving in one year should be compared with the number returning in the previous year, and- of the number returned half are entitled to come back under licences, pursuant to our present legislation.
– If the honorable senator will look at the number rehalf are entitled to come back under licences, pursuant to our present legislation.
– What I desire to point out is that no comparison between one year’s arrivals and the same year’s returns is fair.
– Why not?
– Because we must take the arrivals for this year in comparison with the returns for the previous year. This will be clear to honorable senators if they will consult the provisions for the issue of licences for the recruiting of islanders under the Pacific Island Labourers Act.
Nothing in this Act shall prevent the granting of licences as follows : -
Therefore, when it is baldly stated in a telegram, that 1,037 arrived, and that 1,065 returned, it cannot be said that there has been any laxity of administration until the number who returned in the previous year has been ascertained. .
– How does the honorable and learned senator account for the fact that although 1,775 kanakas left Queensland in 1902, 1,037 arrived in 1903?
– I do not know what the number of licences is.I I am dealing with the quotation which the honorable senator made, and I submit that it does not justify any imputation in regard to the administration, because it is incomplete.
– I may have been wrong; but I shall look into the matter again.
– I am sure that if my honorable friend does, he will find that he is mistaken. In this motion, Senator Givens is aiming, and he intends to aim, a blow at the continuation, even during what remains of the sort of experimental or probationary period-
– My honorable friend wants his reform to come into operation at once?
– No, I want this to continue at the expiration of the present legislation.
– It is a pity that that intention is not stated in the motion. At any rate what my honorable friend wishes to do is to aim a more effective blow than he thinks has already been dealt at the sugar grown by kanaka labour in Queensland. But it seems to me that in aiming that blow, he will aim one infinitely more severe at the sugar industry itself in Queensland. He has made it perfectly clear that his first object is to drive an effective and irremovable nail into the coffin of sugar growing by coloured labour - that is, by kanakas, so far as he is concerned. Secondly, he is aiming a very severe blow at the revenue of Australia, and, thirdly, he is seeking to bring about a condition of great injustice to the States, and to increase the burden already resting upon them by virtue of Federal legislation. In his exceedingly clear and ‘thoughtful speech, Senator Pearce laid his finger on two or three defects of this proposal, and, therefore, I do not intend to go over them again. I propose to confine myself to the other blots upon it. Under existing legislation, there is a protection of £3 per ton for all sugar grown in Australia. We have an import duty of£6 per ton, and an excise duty of£3 a ton, and, therefore, every ton of sugar has a protection of The grower does not get that money directly, but he gets a protection to that amount. Then a bounty of £2 a ton is given as an inducement to grow sugar by white labour. It was a controversial subject, but the Parliament agreed that that should be conceded ‘ in order to bridge over what was called a transition period. There was a considerable contest in the Senate as to whether a longer time should not be given in order that the users of kanaka labour might gradually be able to introduce white labour. So to speak, we wished to temper , the wind to the shorn lamb. The great contest was on that point, and the time was fixed. But that bounty of £2 per ton is chargeable to the States according to population. It is not Queensland that loses that money from her revenue. She gets the benefit of the excise duty of £3, and she has not to pay the bounty of £2 out of her revenue.
– Every State gets the benefit of the excise duty on the Queensland sugar which it consumes.
– Every man, woman, and child who consumes sugar in Australia pays an excise duty of£3. But, in addition to that, every man, woman, and child in the States who do not derive a direct benefit from the bounty has to contribute to the payment of it. There is £,1, so to speak, going to the revenue in respect of white-grown sugar which is imported. That is the only margin which is left. The white grower does not get the£5, but a protection of £3, and a bounty of £2. But Senator Givens proposes to take away all protection from the very growers whomthe Parliament was solicitious to aid. Supposing that his proposal were adopted, the result would be that all those growers who might be unable to get suitable white labour at the moment, and in the more tropical parts, might find other difficulties in their way, would have to give up growing sugar.
– They would be handicapped since (hey would have no protection.
– It does not follow that they must give up growing sugar.
– We are talking as sensible men.
– Surely they could compete with black labour in other countries.
– When they were paying an excise duty of £6 per ton it could not be done.
– They would get back
– With an import duty of£6 and an excise duty of £6 per ton, there would be no protection to these sugar-growers. The growers employing black labour would not get back one shilling. Assuming that there are some planters who have been able to put their house in order, their sugar would be placed on exactly the same level as black-grown sugar which was imported, and they would be handicapped, as regards their neighbours in New South Wales, to the extent of£5 a ton. The people of New South Wales, as Senator Pearce pointed out, would then be getting a gratuity or benevolence to the extent of£5a ton, which they did not require, and the poor wretches who might be unable to get rid of their coloured labour within the next year and a half, would be handicapped in that way. That, of course, is an important point when we come to deal with’ the very large question of policy as to whether further consideration might be given so that they could get in white labour. It will have to be considered later on. But if honorable senators are going to put down their foot and cut those growers adrift from all this consideration, they will be doing them a very gross injustice.
– They would only be prevented from employing a certain kind of labour; they would immediately use white labour.
– In the last Parliament we had not the benefit of my honorable friend’s presence, but if he had been here he would know that there was a consensus of opinion that some consideration should be shown to these growers during the transition period; and the argument now on the part of most people is that it might be extended. The proposal which Senator Higgs made, and which I quite agree involved a negative of the motion, rests on the very ground that the consideration now given to these growers might not have been quite sufficient.
– The man who persists in employing kanakas is not entitled to further consideration.
– I am sure that my honorable friend does not wish to do an injustice or to strike a blow at the sugar industry.
– It - is unfair to say that I desire to strike a blow at the sugar industry.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON. I said the very opposite. That being the condition of things, from my point of view, in regard to the sugar industry in northern Queensland - which, according to the figures, produces infinitely more sugar than does the southern part, where white labour is employed - my honorable friend proposes to still further subsidize white growers, as Senator Pearce pointed out, by putting, into their pockets not £2 a ton, as at present, but £5 a ton. At the present time the excise duty of£3 a ton goes into the revenue, but under my honorable friend’s proposal, £5 a ton would go into the pockets of the white growers, a majority of whom do not require anything.
– That is a misleading way of putting the position.
– What becomes of the excise duty of £6 a ton?
– It goes into the revenue, of which Queensland gets the benefit, but the £5 a ton is paid by the States, according to the population.
– That is another unfair statement. Queensland only gets an excise duty on the sugar which is consumed byher own people.
– We know that an adjustment takes place. Suppose I saythat the £6 a ton goes into the revenue of the Commonwealth, then £5 a ton is charged against the States according to population. It is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I shall not go into the field so thoroughly covered by my Honorable and learned colleague, whose speech I think all must admit Was an able and exhaustive one.
– I shall show the utter absurdity of almost every line of the
– Am I not right that the honorable senator proposes to put £5 a ton into the pockets of the white growers?
– Of the £6 excise duty, £5 is to be returned to them.
– No.; it is a bounty. My honorable friend is mistaken in his view of what the Parliament has done.
– It was only altered from a ‘rebate to a bounty in order that it might be placed on a just basis.
Sen atm. Sir JOSIAH SYMON. - But it is a bounty all the same. Will my honorable friend also admit that this £5 will go into the pockets of the New South Wales growers, who do not want it?
– I contend that they do want it.
– I wish I were a New South Wales grower. If my honorable friend’s proposal were to come into operation at once it would, from my point of view, tend to smash up sugar production in Queensland. It would give a direct encouragement to foreign growers bv coloured labour, and to that extent it would be a discouragement of our own industry. We are all anxious that the production of sugar in Australia should not only satisfy our own consumption, but leave a surplus for export. When the production overtook tlie consumption there would literally be no revenue.
– Under the present system there would be no revenue when the production overtook the consumption.
– Would there not be the excise duty of £3 a ton?
– If the sugar were grown by white labour, £2 would be returned as a bounty.
– There would be £1 left.
– There would be no imported sugar if the production overtook the consumption.
– At any rate, we should have the excise duty of £3 a ton.
– No; because £2 would be returned as a bounty.
– I enjoy nothing more than to have a dialogue with my honorable friend, but I think I had better finish what I have to say. ‘ When the production overtook the consumption, literally we should have no revenue. All the while the people of Australia would be paying an increased price for their sugar. It would be increased by the £6 a ton excise. Not only would they have the great felicity of paying this increased price, but the people of the States would also have the additional happiness of paying their contribution towards the £5 a ton which would go into the pockets of these happy growers.
– That is a nice freetrade way of putting it !
– I was going to say that I am an exuberant protectionist from the point of view which I am putting. I will come to the question of revenue. Our home consumption of sugar amounts to 187,000 tons per annum. Our present local production is 145,000 tons, which represents, of course, £435,000 excise. We import 42,116 tons, which represents duty to the amount of £252,000, making a total revenue of £687,000. If we deduct from that the estimated cost of the bonus this year, £100,000, that leaves £587,000 as our present estimated revenue. My honorable friend’s desire is, of course, that we shall grow all our own sugar by white labour. If that state of things is attained, and assuming that the consumption does not increase, 187,000 tons at £6 will be £1,122,000. If we deduct from that amount the £1 a ton, the margin left is £935,000 - just under £1,000,000 put into the pockets of these white growers. I agree with Senator Pearce that we ought to pause before doing what looks very much like paying a little too much for our whistle. But that .is not all. Who has to pay that £935,000 ? The States. I will “tell honorable senators what the States pay now. Under the present law we impose a contribution of £2 a ton by way of bonus. The States at present, as shown by the papers on the file for this year, pay as follows: - New South Wales, £38>337 ; Victoria, £31,878; Queensland, £I3»758 - a very small amount, considering that Queensland gets a good deal back ; South Australia, £9,742 ; Western Australia, £6,407 ; Tasmania, £4,740 ; making a total of £104,862. That represents the bonus estimated for the vear 1904-5. But if the bonus is to be £5 a ton, it means that these amounts will’ have to be multiplied by two and a half on the entire consumption. That means that the gross amount we have to pay in bonuses is £935,000, which is about nine times the amount that the States are now paying. I say that the States would not stand that.
– If the present legislation were attaining its object the payments would be exactly the same.
– No, not at all. I ask the honorable senator whether, in view of these facts, he thinks it wise at this stage to push his motion to a division. It is an abstract motion, which if it were carried into effect might involve consequences such as I have mentioned. Surely we ought to deliberate a little more. In fact, this is a matter which ought to be one of serious Government policy. We ought not to arrive at a conclusion about it hastily. I have listened carefully to the speech of my honorable friend, and I have also read it over since. I therefore know what he is aiming at. But it is obvious that in a large question like this, involving a great industry like the sugar industry, the question of the burdens which the States are called upon to bear must be thoroughly considered;, and cannot be settled by means of an abstract motion of this character.
– We do not propose to settle it ; this is an expression of opinion.
– We cannot deal with the matter piecemeal. That is the consideration which induced my honorable friend Senator Higgs to withdraw his amendment. My honorable friend was quite right in thinking that we could not possibly ‘ accept that amendment. But my honorable friend Senator Givens ought also to realize that it is impossible to deal with the question piecemeal.
– I want to deal with it effectively.
– I quite appreciate my honorable friend’s earnestness in the matter. His desire is absolutely to put on the screw in the most effective way in respect to the growing of sugar by coloured labour. But in doing that we must not smash an industry. All I am anxious to do just now is to state these points for the consideration of honorable senators, and I ask my honorable friend to hesitate before he presses for a. decision upon an abstract motion of this kind.
Debate (on motion by Senator Henderson) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 16th November, vide page 7020) :
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 Pearce had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ character,” line 6, the following words be inserted - “ and’ further provided that no organization of employers shall be entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by an organization of employees, 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.”
– The Attorney-General, in his speech last night, seemed to think that I was not in earnest in moving this amendment, but that I had submitted it in a spirit of jocularity. I can assure the honorable and learned senator that I am absolutely in earnest in the matter. The reason why I did not previously give notice of my amendment was that I thought the Committee would amend the clause so as to avoid the necessity of moving it. But it has been decided to allow the clause to go with all its stringent and drastic provisions. I now wish to put the position which will arise when a union goes before the Court and asks for preference. We shall have on the one hand the employers’ association, which may be steeped in politics up to the neck. It may use its funds for political purposes. It may have paid political agitators going up and. down the country denouncing the Labour Party and labour politics, and dealing with industri i.l questions in a political manner. We shall have those associations retaining absolutely their political character and using their funds’ for political purposes. They will appear before the Court to oppose preference to unionists.
– Will not the employers apply for preference also?
– The employers do not require to ask for preference. They have employment to give. The employers’ associations will be political opponents of the employes’ associations. This Bill says to the employers’ association that they may retain their political colouring, and indulge in political action to any extent they like. But it says to the employes’ associations that they must not spend a single penny of their funds on political action or for political purposes. Is that ‘fair play ? Does it not show a spirit of vindictiveness ? As Emerson said, the man who holds the purse-strings needs no political party at his back. He can, to a large extent, control Parliament, because he has ths power of the purse. Before the employes are able to appear in Court to ask for preference, their associations will have to expunge all political references from their rules.
– But the Judge may say to them after they apply, “You mav have preference, if you alter your rules.”
– The unions will know before they go to the Court that they will have no chance of getting preference unless they excise political references from their rules. Does the honorable senator think that the unions would not read the Act of Parliament under which they were working? They would be aware before they went to Court that before they could ask for preference they would have to give up all political action.
– But the honorable senator contends that they would have to rid themselves of their rules before asking for preference.
– It amounts to that. Thev would know that the first condition of obtaining preference was giving up political action. To suppose that they would wait until they went to the Court before they eliminated political references from their rules, is equivalent to supposing that a person who is not twenty-one years of age, or who has not resided for a number of years in Australia, could reasonably think that he had any chance of being registered as an elector.
– The Judge will say “ I will grant you preference subject to your altering your rules, and if you do not ask for preference, vou need not alter them.”
– But the unions will go to Court, knowing that it is useless to ask for preference unless they give up their political rules and objects. Surely, honorable senators are not . going to say that the employers’ unions can go to the. Court tainted with politics, absolutely full of political action, with paid canvassers going throughout the country, and paid agents in all the principal centres, working for the purpose of downing the Labour Party ; whilst the employes’ associations are placed in an absolutely opposite position.
– Nonsense !
– It is an absolute fact.
– Does the honorable senator think that agitation can be conducted on the one side, and not on the other ?
– That is what the Bill says at present. We want to have the same liberty as the employers’ unions have. Our liberty has been taken away under this Bill. To be fair we must also take away the right to political action from employers’ organizations. If honorable senators opposite are not prepared to do that, they brand themselves as deliberately unfair, and as hypocritical. They have said that employes’ organizations that appear before the Court to claim preference, shall not be political organizations, and if that be so, we should not allow employers’ organizations appearing before the Court to be political organizations.
– They are given no preference?
– But they may oppose preference to unionists. To be consistent, honorable senators opposite cannot do otherwise than support the amendment. I cannot believe that, having deliberately supported the proviso as it stands, they will oppose the amendment. I give them credit for being sincere in their belief that political organizations should not appear before the Court.
– No; only that political organizations should not ask for preference.
– They may be as political as they please. - Senator PEARCE. - That is so ; I wish to be absolutely fair in my statement. They may be as political as they please, but once trade union organizations ask for preference, they must strip themselves of their political character. I say that we should deal justly with the two classes, and provide that employers’ organizations appearing before the Court to oppose preference, shall also be stripped of their political character. .
– The trade union organizations are being given a privilege in exchange, for which they must give up their political programme. The employers’ organizations are not being given a privilege.
– They are being given the privilege to appear before the Court to oppose the privilege which it is said is granted to unionists, and they should be placed in the same position as are the unionists. The employers will appear before the Court to oppose preference to unionists, in order that they may. be able to boycott the leaders of trade unions.
– The honable senator should not say that ; that is not the intention of the Bill.
– The object of the proviso is to enable employers to discriminate between unionists and non-unionists, and we say that the organization which appears before the Court to oppose preference ‘ equally with the organization which appears before the Court to ask for it should be divested of all political taint. We think that the stronger party with the power of the purse behind it should be placed in the same position before the Court as the weaker party, which has not the power of the purse behind it. I await with interest the arguments to be urged by honorable senators opposite against the amendment. They should give a wonderful insight into the motives which have prompted the action taken to preserve this clause in the Bill as it stands.
– Senator Pearce has made some very remarkable statements against those who differ in opinion from himself. We are surely entitled to express our honest views on these questions. We have given preference to unionists in this Bill, and I repeat that I entirely disagree with that. I cannot repeat too often that it is my opinion that in giving the Court the right to allow preference to unionists, we are giving it the power to do a very unjust thing.
– That is not the question now.
– The present question hinges upon that. Senator Pearce is not yet satisfied. He desires that unionists should notonly be given preference, but should retain the political privileges which they have now.
– It has been settled that they are not to have those privileges.
– - I wish to put both sides in exactly the same position.
– What the honorable senator wishes to do now is to prevent employers getting a hearing in the Court, if their organizations are political.
– A hearing to oppose preference.
– Will Senator Fraser read my amendment for himself?
– I have read it.
– The honorable senator must see that it provides for the same disability on employers as the Committee has imposed on emploves.
– It is not at all the same.
– Surely this is interfering with the Court? Let the Court do justice as between man and man.
– Hear, hear; that is what we said in speaking for the employes..
– W - Why did not Senator Fraser trust the Court before?
– These are the conditions which have been imposed on unionists by honorable senators opposite.
– As a condition of their getting preference.
– Honorable senators opposite do not like it when it is applied to themselves.
– Order. I must ask honorable senators not to interject.
– Surely, as a body of legislators, we are not going’, in an Act of Parliament, to take away the ordinary privileges of human beings.
– The honorable senator is stuck fast in the mud.
– As we have imposed this condition on the unionists, why should we not also impose it on the employers?
– Surely employers are to be allowed the ordinary liberties of the subject. If unionists do not wish for preference, they can do as they like in the matter of politics.
– And if the employers do not wish to oppose preference, they can do as they like also.
– I say that it is not reasonable that either the employer or the employe should be coerced.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– Why did the honorable senator fight so hard to coerce the employes ?
– It is right to coerce people to do what is right; but it is not right to coerce them to do what is wrong. All law is coercion, but it is coercion against wrong-doing.
– Serve all alike; that is what is asked.
– I cannot understand why our honorable friends opposite should be so determined to amend this clause.
– Let the honorable senator put the same hobble on employers that he has put’ on employes.
– Let the honorable senator tell us why we should not agree to the amendment.
– At any rate, I am not going to support the amendment.
– It is desirable that honorable senators whose votes may be considered doubtful should express their views with the object of bringing about an early division on the question. I do not think it right to oppose the amendment. I have already said that in my opinion organizations of employes will be able to discover means by which to exercise their full political privileges, despite the disqualifications imposed upon them in the proviso. I am equally sure that the employers on their part, even though the amendment should become part of the Bill, will find it easy to exercise their full political privileges. I do not, however, agree with honorable senators opposite that the case qf the employers is exactly on allfours with the case, of the employes. In one case, a specific privilege is sought by the employes organization.
– And is opposed by those who have to give the privilege.
– That is so; but the circumstances are quite different. However, I have held, and still hold, that there is no occasion to make these organizations political organizations on the one side, and as I am against all discrimination, to be logical I must hold that the same thing should apply to organizations on the other side. I have no doubt that both sides will be able to form whatever political organizations they please, and will be able to spend their money in support of whatever political action they ‘care to take ; but when we are dealing with organizations for the purposes of this Bill, it is fair that the conditions applied to organizations on the one side should be applied to those on the other.
– I intend to support the! amendment. Although I have the greatest personal regard for the Attorney-General, as I am sure we all have, it is only right I should say that, in my judgment, the honorable and learned senator. has shown that neither he nor the members of the Government he represents believe in this Bill.
– The honorable senator should not say that.
– If I should not say that, at all events, I will say that the AttorneyGeneral has construed the various clauses of this Bill in such a way, as purposely to truckle to the few honorable senators who are supporting him on the other side.
– Is it in order for the honorable senator to say that I have construed the various clauses of the Bill in such a way as to purposely truckle to honorable senators on this side? I am sure the honorable senator could not have meant to say that.
- Senator Croft has cast a personal reflection on the AttorneyGeneral, and I must ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the expression. I would say that it has appeared to me that the special antagonism to the principle of the Bill exhibited by a few honorable senators on the other side has to a great extent influenced the conduct of the Attorney-General in dealing with the various amendments which have been proposed on this clause. I submit an instance to show what I meant by the word “truckle,” although I admit that that is a word which no honorable senator should use in referring to the action of another. Senator Fraser was hopelessly stuck for something to say in opposition to the amendment, and he received a careful hint from the AttorneyGeneral that Senator Pearce was trying to prevent employers from appearing before the Court.
– “ From being heard on the question “ is what I said.
– The honorable and learned senator was aware that that would fan the flames of opposition in Senator Fraser’s breast.
– Is it not a fact?
– If it is I do not understand the English language. Honorable senators opposite impose restrictions upon unionists, and say that in certain circumstances they should not receive preference. I ask why the Court should not be able to say to the objector, “ Unless you can show that you possess the virtues you call upon unionists to possess, we shall not hear you in the matter.” If we prevent unionists taking part in political matters, surely we shall restrain those who oppose their receiving preference from doing the same thing? Judging by the interjections, the Government are opposed to the amendment, and I say that if the amendment is not carried, having a proper regard for the pledges I gave on the hustings, and a definite knowledge of the conditions likely to exist, obtained by my experience as a trade union secretary for many years, and a trades hall secretary for five or six years, I shall seriously consider how mv vote on the third reading of the Bill shall be cast.
– Hear, hear.
– Senator Gray cheers that statement because it is his desire that no Conciliation and Arbitration Bill shall be passed.
– Better none than a fraud.
– I desire that men shall have the means of bettering their industrial conditions, but knowing the great work which has been done by unionist political organizations, I shall not be one to lessen their political power, or to allow others to do it if I can help it. There is some difference of opinion as to the organizations which are likely to come under this Bill, but it is generally admitted that shearers and seamen will come under it. We have the assurance of Senator Guthrie, who can speak on the subject with greater authority than can any other member of the Committee, that he will persuade the Seamen’s Union not to come under it. In another place there is a member of the executive of the Shearers’ Union who, when speaking of this amendment, is repotted to have said -
Rather than accept any of the amendments which have been outlined, I trust that the Government will abandon the Bill.
I wish to call the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the fact that while, as he quoted, Mr. Watson favored the amendment, Mr. Reid is reported to have said during the speech of Mr. Hutchison -
The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has been openly accepted by the Government. to which Mr. Hutchison replied -
I am satisfied that no union will accept it.
– That was not the amendment under discussion now.
– No. Of course the honorable and learned senator will rise presently, and try with courteous and wellstudied phrases to obscure the point at issue. Sometimes he uses a phrase which is so well studied in effect that we are all pleased to hear such beautiful language ; but we are as much at a loss to understand what he is driving at as he seems to be. himself. I wish to refer to the attitude of honorable senators on the other side, who are always crying out for the poor nonunionists. Who authorized them to appear here on their behalf? Have not the nonunionists benefited by every act of the trade unionists? Have they not always shared in the prosperity of every trade?
– And have been prevented from getting employment sometimes.
– No such thing. I ask if any non-unionist in the Commonwealth would trust Senator Dobson to look after his interests in the Senate?
– Yes ; but the non-unionist would not trust the honorable senator.
– They have trusted me.
– Non-unionists ?
– Yes, with unionists. Fancy non-unionists trusting honorable senators who are backed up by the organ of the Employers’ Union, which will publish an article intended, I take it, to indorse a statement made by Mr. Walpole, the employers’ agitator, that marriage, like beer and theatres, is a luxury to workers !
– What newspaper is the honorable senator referring to?
– In its issue of’ 25th October, Liberty and Progress published this paragraph -
Thrift must have a strong hold of the Australian working man. Witness the great deposits of the Savings Banks and the enormous number of cottages owned by their occupiers. But there are evidently exceptions. A workman giving evidence before the Appeal Court in the artificial manures case stated that he was paid £3 2s. per week, upon which he kept a wife and five children. He paid is. 3d. weekly to the lodge, is. 3d. for insurance on the children, is. 6d. for tobacco, and 2s. for drink, but was unable to save anything. It does not seem to have occurred to him that his beer and tobacco bill amounted to .£8 in twelve months, and that this amount put away every year would soon enable him to purchase the cottage in which he lived, and for which he stated he paid 7s. weekly as rent. Of course, his socialistic teachers tell him that he must have beer and tobacco to compensate him “ for the miseries of existence.” Yet tens of thousands of men in every walk of life do without these so-called comforts, and consider themselves much happier for their self-denial, and they are undoubtedly better off for it.
I support the amendment, not because I think it will do much good to the Bill, but because I believe it will compel honorable senators on the other side to show their opposition to the Bill or their inconsistency.
– I rise to point out the unfairness of this amendment to the employers. Under the Bill employers and employes are put on exactly the same footing. Either party can appeal to the Court. The employes are not satisfied with that position, but ask for what is termed union preference. That implies that something is to be gained by the employes, and the employers think that, to a certain extent, it will be gained at their inconvenience and expense. The” amendment, plausible as it is on its face, is absolutely inconsistent with the terms on which the two parties will appear before the Court. I should like any one to point out the advantages which any employers will get from the administration of the Act before the Court. I admit that they may appear before the Court on an application to have the terms of an award altered according to the varying conditions of a trade. , But practically they will appear there as defendants. I cannot see how it can be said that the employers and the employes are placed on an equal footing, and therefore should both be subject to this provision. It contains no element of equity. If it is desired to place both parties on an equal footing, the employers should be given a quid fro quo.
– I thank Senator Croft for his very kind remarks about myself, but he did, in a very quiet, but none the less effective manner, use some very hard expressions by way of criticism upon .what he was pleased to describe as my language in confusing the issue. I do not know .that a debate on a matter of this kind is greatly assisted by the use of needlessly hard expressions. Politics are rather like a blacksmith’s shop, where sparks are always flying about. We should stop the sparks if we can from creating a conflagration. In the discussion on this Bill we have maintained a dignity and harmony which I hope will be preserved to the end. Senator Pearce thought I had questioned his earnestness in reference to this amendment. I should hesitate very much about questioning his earnestness as to any matter which he took up. But I did think that it was a little jocular. I did not express that thought in words yesterday, but if I had I should at once withdraw them, after what my honorable friend has said. It did strike me that perhaps it was a little petulant.
– Not at all. I had the amendment in writing for more than a day. I was holding my hand until I saw how the other amendment was dealt with.
– I felt that my honorable friend had been nursing the amendment.
– I wished to give the Committee an opportunity to be consistent, if it rejected the other amendment.
– If we are beaten on an amendment we ought to take our licking handsomely.
– I think we have taken our licking as well as the honorable and learned senator has taken his.
– What I felt was that my honorable friends on the other side had put up a most gallant fight on the whole of this proviso. But the credit due to them is apt to be discounted if, after they have been beaten, they either indulge in threats or propose what I think I may call a retaliatory amendment.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that that is my motive in moving the amendment?
– I do not.
– I assure the honorable and learned senator that it is not moved in a retaliatory spirit.
– I accept the disclaimer, and I do not attribute any motives to my honorable friend. That, however, seems to me, rightly or wrongly, to be its only commendation. If it is just and fair, it is not a bit the worse because it is moved to maintain the equilibrium in regard to something which has been carried against the wishes of my honorable friends.
– Does not retaliation suggest the meeting of one injustice with another ?
– Not at all. I wish my honorable friends on each side to consider what the amendment is before they vote. Senator Pearce put his view with a great deal of force and warmth, but I venture to think that he put the amendment on a footing on which it cannot possibly rest. He said with great vehemence that unless we carried his amendment we should be giving an absolute right to employers and employers’ organizations to employ their funds as they pleased for all political purposes, but that the employes - the poorer party - would be placed under a disability.
– When they ask for preference.
– In the part of his speech of which I took a note there was no allusion to preference. That was the rhetorical description my honorable friend gave.
– But it was understood that preference was referred to.
– It was absolutely understood.
– Very well, I will take it that all that eloquent language, apart from the privilege of getting preference, had no reference to that condition. That is to say, up to the point at which preference is to be given or withheld by the Court, employes’ or employers’ organizations are on exactly the same footing, and in exactly the same position as to using their funds for political purposes, and furthering their political interests or those of any party or person in whom they may be interested.
– Certainly they are, up to that point.
- Senator Pearce frankly admits it. That is the starting point of the whole argument. Up to the moment of application to the Court the employes are entitled to ask for such award as they think fit. They can ask for preference, although they are saturated with political purposes to the very marrow. But the moment the Judge takes into consideration the award that is asked for as to preference, he says, “ If you want preference’ you must drop your political platform.” If this amendment were to redress an inequality of condition, to make that fair which is unfair, it ought to be considered. But it is not so. We have got to the point where a Judge is asked to grant preference.
– The other side will oppose it.
– But the employes at this point will apply for preference. They are a political organization. The employers’ organization is also political. They oppose the application. Why should not one side oppose the application which the other side makes?
– It cannot be granted to one side unless certain conditions are imposed.
– But my argument is that up to that point both parties are on exactly the same footing. Now, what is the object of this proviso as it stands in the Bill? What is the effect of it? It is to provide that the organization which asksfor preference shall not be political ; or, to use Mr. Isaacs’ expression, if it wants preference it must drop its political platform. Is not that equal? Of course it Is. This proviso as it stands in the Bill applies to employes’ organizations and to employers’ organizations. It relates to a preference for which either side may ask.
– What preference can the employers ask for?
– I will show in a moment that employers can ask for preference, and have done so. But I want first to make this point plain. I agree with Senator Pearce that if there is an inequality, if the Bill gives a privilege to the employers that is not given to the employes, there ought to be redress. But it is not so. If honorable senators will turn to the clause as it stands they will see that it provides that -
Any of the following associations may, on compliance with the prescribed conditions, be registered in the manner prescribed as an organization.
That is the provision for registration of an organization. There may be registered - [a) any association of employers in or in con nexion with any industry, who have in the aggregate . . . not less than 100 employees in that industry ; and
So that this clause deals with organizations of employers and employes, and the proviso which follows applies equally to the one and to the other. I cannot for the life of me understand the suggestion that in regard to preference one party is placed at a disadvantage as compared with the other.
– Can the honorable and learned senator conceive of employers asking for preference?
– Yes; and I can conceive of their getting it. I am going to read an award of the New Zealand Arbitration Court in which they got it. I am not talking vaguely about this matter. What is the use of putting this provision in the Bill if it is to be not merely an excrescence but an injustice ? If the employers apply for preference the employes can oppose it, even though their organization is steeped in political purposes up to the hilt. Therefore the employes’ and the employers’ organizations are on an absolutely identical footing when they apply for preference.
– Certainly not.
– The language Is as plain as the nose on one’s face.
Provided that no such organization -
That is no organization of employers oi employes - shall be entitled to any declaration oi 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.
Does not that apply equally to employers’ and to employes’ organizations?
– It does technically, but not practically.
– Practically it does j absolutely it does. My honorable friends may say that an employers’ association will never ask for preference,* but that does ‘ not do away with the fact that if they do, they have to give up their political platform. I am looking at this matter with the desire to place this legislation upon a fair and just footing.
– And failing badly !
– We are doing the best we can. We are asked to carry Senator Pearce’s amendment in order to redress an inequality. What is it? The proviso prevents preference being granted either to employes’ or employers’ organizations, if they are political bodies. They are absolutely equal in that respect.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral say that an employes’ union would go into Court and ask for preference under a ban that would prevent them getting it?
– There is no ban whatever. It is a condition. So far as this proviso is concerned, an employes’ organization can be as political as it likes, and it may oppose the granting of preference to an employers’ organization, and just in the same way an employers’ organization may be political, and yet be entitled to oppose preference being granted to an employes’ organization. But what Senator Pearce proposes would not leave them on an equality. What is sauce for for the goose would not be sauce for the gander. He is proposing to place the employers’ organization under a disability thatdoes not apply to the employes’ organization.
– The honorable and learned senator is on exceedingly thin ice.
– It is not thin in “ any sense. If the proposed amendment is read without reference to the part of the clause which we have agreed to, it looks plausible, on the face of it ; and it would be reasonable if the employes’ organizations were debarred from applying for preference, or from opposing preference, if they were political.
– It would be useless for them to apply if they knew it would not be granted.
– That is not the point. We are considering where the inequality is. Show me the inequality and unfairness, and I will do all I can to consider the proposed redress.
– That is the point the honorable and learned senator cannot get round.
– There is nothing to get round. It is like a point in Euclid - “ position without magnitude.” It is impossible to see it. Then my honorable friends say that the employers are not likely to ask for preference. Why not? Whether they do or not does not alter the fact that both employers’ and employes’ organizations are on exactly the same footing, if they do ask for it. Thev each have to give up their political platform in order to get it. But, as a matter of fact, I have here in the report of the awards of the New Zealand Arbitration Court for the year 1903, page 324 - I dare say there may be other cases - an account of an award made by the Court in connexion with the New Zealand boot trade. . Preference was granted on both sides.
– Is there any political disqualification under that Act?
– There was not this proviso. But I am dealing with the point which has been suggested that the employers would not apply for preference. The award of the Court in this case read -
Throughout all the Departments recognised by this award preference of employment shall be given by employers to members of the New Zealand Federated Boot Trade Union.
That is preference to employes. Then the award goes on -
On the part of the union preference of service shall be given to the members of the Employers’ Federation.
If such an association of employers came before the Federal Court of Arbitration, and asked for preference, they could not get it without dropping their political platform, and similarly the employes could not get it without dropping theirs.
– It would be a good job if the organizations on both sides dropped their politics.
– Certainly. I am with Senator Playford on that point. But they have to drop their politics under this proviso.
– Did the employers apply for preference in the New Zealand case ?
– It was, I think, a case stated by the Bootmakers’ Union of employes.
– I do not care who made the application.
– Who asked for preference ?
– There is a good deal of what Senator Matheson would call “ hair-splitting “ going on. My honorable friend’s great argument is “-hat there is inequality. Where is it? Here is the fact that employers and employes can each get preference. Here is the fact that under this Bill employes and employers are absolutely on the same footing. If they apply “for preference, whether as plaintiffs or defendants, before the Court, they must each - and a very good job too - drop their political platform, otherwise they will not get preference.
– Why a “ good job too”? This qualification does not obtain in New Zealand.
– That is not the matter with which we are now dealing. Senator Pearce says that under the proviso as it stands, there will be an inequality - that the employe’s’ organization, which is not to get preference if its purposes are political as well as industrial, will be unfairly placed as compared with the employers’ organization, which will be able to get preference although its purposes are political. I say that it will not. I say that any claim for preference by an employers’ organization will be denied, if it is concerned with political purposes, just as it will in the case of the employes’ organization. There is in this respect absolute equality for both organizations under the proviso. But what is the amendment going to do ?
– It is going to introduce inequality.
– No, uniformity.
– It will introduce inequality, and will place the employers’ organization under a disability, which will not apply to the employes’ organization. Not only that, but it says not merely that an organization of employers is not to be entitled to preference if it is of a political character - because that is already provided for - but that no organization of employers shall have the right to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by an organization of employes. It is not to have a hearing.
– If it is political.
– But the employes’ organization is to be given a hearing.
– Not if it is political.
– It is to be given a hearing, but it is not to get preference if it is political, and it is to be given a hearing to oppose a grant of preference to employers. Why should not the same right be given to an employers’ organization?
– Thev can have that.
– That is what honorable senators opposite are withdrawing from the proviso by the amendment. They are withdrawing from an employers’ organization the privilege given to an employes’ organization, to oppose preference to the other party.
– Our privilege is taken away before we go to the Court.
– The AttorneyGeneral does not hear that.
– I heard it perfectly ; but Senator Henderson, I am sure, will believe that it is out, of no discourtesy to him that I prefer to state my own opinion of the amendment and its effects. An employe’s’ organization, though it may be a political organization, can be heard in an application for preference, whilst the employers’ organization, which will be the defendant brought to the Court, will not be heard to oppose it. Is that either just or fair?
– They will be heard if there is no political tomfoolery about them.
– Why should not they be heard when asking for preference? Senator Pearce, by interjection, while an honorable senator was speaking, said, “ The Court will give preference as a matter of course, if it is asked for, and the other party to the dispute does not oppose it.”
– Not necessarily, the Court has a discretionary power.
– But surely the Court should be informed. If this amendment is agreed to an employes’ organization which may be political, may have a dispute heard, and may apply for preference; but the moment that stage is arrived at, the mouth of the defendant organization is shut, and it is unable to inform the Court that the organization applying for preference is political in its purposes, and is not entitled to preference under this clause. Surely that is not fair?
– Will not the rules of the organization be before the Court before it can ask for any award at all?
– Yes, but there will be two parties before the Court. Honorable senators opposite propose to allow one party which may be political to apply for preference, whilst the moment that question crops up they shut the mouth of the other party.
– Having the rules of the union organization in its possession, the Court would know whether it had a right to apply for preference before any such application was made.
– I am not saying whether the Court might or might not deal with the matter ; but I am pointing out that the honorable senator’s amendment will stop the mouth of the other party.
– Could such an application be made by a political organization under this proviso ?
– If, in consequence of the. opposition being shut up by this amendment, preference to unionists were granted, who would suffer? The nonassociated workmen. This amendment will not injure the employers in any way.. The persons whom it will injure are the nonassociated workmen, who might - I do not say will - have preference given against them without an exhaustive hearing, in the absence of opposition to the application.
– The honorable and learned senator has a tender regard for the non-associated workmen.
– I do not deny it. I have a tender regard for every man who is being forced by a preference, against his will it may be, and in order to secure employment, to join a union to which he may object from an industrial, and it may be also- from a political stand-point.
– Such an organization, as the honorable and learned senator is aware; could not get preference under this clause.
– I am talking about the position in general.
– The honorable and learned senator .knows that before that stage could be reached, it would be shown that no award of preference could be given to such an organization.
– I am aware of that, but what I am saying is that it is the non-associated workmen who would be affected by preference, supposing it to be given inadvertently, in the absence of opposition, to an organization of a political character. A thing like that might happen through inadvertence.
– But tine Court will have the rules of the organization before it.
– The Registrar cannot register the organization if its rules are political ?
– My honorable friend is mistaken as to that.
– Not for preference.
– That will be for the Court to decide, once a dispute is in its hands. At any rate, honorable senators will not -injure the employers in any way by preventing their opposition to a grant of preference.
– We do not wish to injure the employers.
– But honorable senators might injure the nonassociated workmen, because preference might be given to a political organization, in the absence of opposition, or of an exhaustive dealing with the matter by the Court.
– Would not the Court apply to the Registrar to know what are the rules of the organization before granting a preference ?
– I am dealing with possibilities that might arise, and with the suggestion of inequality. I remind the Committee that the party so ably represented by my honorable friends opposite successfully, I am glad to say, resisted the application to themselves of this very condition which they now seek to enforceagainst employers organizations. As Senator Pearce has said, this amendment was originally submitted in another place by Mr. Glynn, and it was intended to prevent the registration of organizations for political purposes. That was modified1 by the amendment submitted by Mr. McCay. This amendment is practically identical with that, because it says to the other party to a dispute, “ You are not to have a hearing to oppose preference.” I say that we are not entitled to deprive any man or any organization of a hearing. Both sides are under the proviso, as it stands, entitled to a hearing in an application for preference, or in opposition to such an application, but if we accept this amendment whilst employes’ organizations will have the right to apply for preference, and the right to oppose preference applied for by an employers’ organization, we take away from the employers’ organization the right to oppose an application for preference by the other side.
– The honorable senator has clouded the issue very nicely.
– I have not sought to do so. If I could see the inequalities to which my honorable friends have referred, I should gladly try to find a remedy.
– The honorable and learned senator is not able to see anything but the Bill.
– I think it is a very good Bill.
– I do not.
– I have no desire to refer to the threats which have been uttered with respect to the third reading of the Bill. They do not assist our consideration of the measure very much. We must hold our own opinions as to the efficacy of the measure, which I hope will turn out to be a good one in every way.
– The Attorney-General has told us that employers and employes will be absolutely on an equality under this Bill. That is quite correct. If an organization of either applies for preference, its rules must not be political. But those of us who know something about these matters are aware that there will be no equality when these provisions are put into operation. For one case in which an employers’ organization will apply for preference, there will be 100 or 1,000 cases in which preference will be asked for by employes’ organizations. E ven in the case of the bootmakers in New Zealand, to which the Attorney-General alluded, the question was one of service, and the preference asked for was as much preference for employes as for employers. I have not looked up the case, but I will guaranteethat it was the employes who applied for the preference, and not the employers.
– It was the employes’ union that stated the case.
– They applied for preference in two directions - for a particular association of employers, and for the members of their own union. Honorable members will see by reference to paragraph b, of clause 40, that the Court may - direct that as between members of organizations of employers or employees and other persons offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall be given to such members, other things being equal.
How can that be applied to employers’ organizations ?
– Why not?
– They do not give service; it is the labourers who do that.
– They offer service, and it might be said that labourers should work only for unionist employers.
– That might be asked for, but honorable senators must know that there will be very few, if any, cases in which employers will ask for preference. Then, if we consider the provision with which we are now dealing, when the Court comes to decide a matter brought before it by either party, it may be found that the employes’ organization will ask for preference for its members, and they cannot get that preference unless their rules are in conformity with this proviso. That is the very first condition insisted on. The employers’ organization will do all it can to prevent the unionists getting preference, and before they can secure pre- fenence the unionists under this proviso will be bound by hard and fast conditions. All that the amendment provides is that if the employers intend to opposethe employes, they shall be bound by equally hard and fast conditions, and shall fight the battle fairly. What reason can be given for the objection of the employers? Considering that the employes are placed under certain disabilities if they ask for preference, why should the employers be able to oppose their application, and at the same timeto belong to political organizations, with, very often, a great deal of wealth at their back? Workmen are not allowed to apply for preference until they have withdrawn from political organizations, and, therefore, on the ground of fair play all round I intend to support the amendment.
– I felt that rhere was a great deal of force in the amendment when it was moved. I told Senator Pearce that I would keep an open mind, and endeavour to find out what the real facts were. Evidently he considers that the words “no such organization “ in this clause refer to the employes’ organization.
– No, to both.
– If the . honorable senator wishes to make the provision exactly the same in each case, his amendment should read in this way -
And further, provided that no organization of employers 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.
– That is already in the clause.
– I think that the amendment is redundant, and that if there is to be an amendment made, it ought to be framed on the lines I have suggested. My! impression is that there is no necessity to alter the clause. The AttorneyGeneral has made it absolutely clear that the amendment is unnecessary. Senator Playford made an allusion to clause 40, and he seemed to think that paragraph b could apply to only employes, but I submit that it would apply also to employers. The employers are those who offer the service, and the employes are those who desire the service. I wish Senator Pearce to understand that I have endeavoured to act absolutely fairly to himand to do what I believe to be right.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I ask the leave of the Committee to alter my amendment so as to make it read as follows : -
That after the word “ character,” line 6, the following words be inserted : - “ and further, provided that no organization shall be entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by any organization, so long as its rules or other binding decisionspermit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania). -I agree with almost every word the AttorneyGeneral said, but I attach less weight to some of his arguments than he appears to do. It is of no use for any one to attach the same value to preference to employers as to preference to employes. We know that preference to employers is merely a formal term.
– I donot attach the same value to it either.
– For the purposes of his argument, the honorable and learned senator did. Let us concede at once that in giving preference to employers we are practically giving them nothing. What advantage was it to the employers’ union of bootmakers to have a decree of the Court that the employes union should give them preference when seeking employment? It is most likely that the employers did not want a particular section to give them preference. It is probable that they would sooner engage non-unionists.
– It is not stated in the reports who asked for preference.
– What is the effect of this proviso which we have practically adopted ? Its object is to discourage the formation of political organizations, and to confine the operation of the Act to organizations formed for taking advantage of the benefits which it is designed to confer. We have decreed that if an organization of men desire to seek preference, so as to take the fullest advantage of the Act, they shall separate themselves from politics, and we are now asked to discourage associations of employers from taking part in politics.
– We give something to one class, but nothing to the other.
– I fully appreciate that fact. All this legislation is in the direction of bringing the employers more under the power of tlieir employes. What is to prevent any association of employers In, say, the boot-making or tailoring industry, from forming a combination for the purpose of seeking the benefits .of the Act ? Or what is to prevent an individual employer from going before the Court and opposing preference being granted to an organization of unionists which he has reason to believe has political purposes in view ? We are really not taking from the employers any advantage if we make this amendment.
– Senator Mulcahy has delivered about the only reasonable speech which has been made from the other side on this amendment. The faculty of speech is given to us to make ourselves intelligible, but apparently the Attorney-General was merely using, his faculty of speech to conceal his thoughts. He found himself in the same plight as Senator Fraser when he tried to square a circle. What has become of all the fine sentiments we heard to the effect that no favours should be extended by this Bill to any organization other than an industrial one. By this amendment we are seeking to place the employers’ organizations on the same plane as the employes’ organizations. It is urged that inasmuch as the employers are receiving no advantage they should have no permission to go as a political organization into the Arbitration Court to object to employe’s getting preference. What right has an employers’ association to be heard in the Court on a question of preference? If any one should ‘be heard against such an application, it should be the non-associated workmen rather than the employers. There would then be before the Court, not a question as to wages or conditions of employment, but a question of who is to get employment. I am willing to permit the employers to go before the Court when they have business to transact - and they can have no business to transact there except when they are citing a case, or the employes are objecting to the conditions of employment. If any one can devise a means to permit non-unionists to have a say when preference is asked for, it would be worthy of consideration. But the question now is whether the employers shall have a right to be heard in the Court. I entirely disagree with the view that any employers, good, bad, or indifferent, should foe heard in such a case as I have mentioned. I believe that the President, if he knows his business, will tell the employers when they appear that it is a matter between the workmen and the Court, and not a matter between -the employers and the employes. If honorable senators who have been in a muddled state of mind will look at the question from that stand-point, I think they will see that for the sake of their own credit they ought to drop their opposition to the amendment. Why should the employer have any advantage, in a political sense, over the employe ? Is it because he is a man of wealth and represents £ s. d. that he is to have political privileges in the eyes of the Court that the employes have not? That is the only reason that I can think of. But I do not think that this Committee will put into the Bill a provision of such a character. Where a case is brought before the Court, and an award is given as to conditions of employment in a particular industry, the employers have no right to go before the Court ‘and say who shall have employment in that industry. That being so, it is a fair and reasonable thing to say that the employer should have no footing in Court in a case of this kind.
Senator FRASER (Victoria). - My objection to this amendment is this : Two parties go before the Court, and under the proposal one party, by law, would be shut out, while the other would have a right to be heard.
– Senator de Largie would lead one to believe that the employers ought not to be represented before the Court at all. He seems to think that they have no right to be heard when an application is made for preference on behalf of the employes. But the principle that entitles the employes to ask for preference should enable the employers to oppose it. If the employes go to the Court and ask to have their wages settled or their hours of labour fixed, it is recognised as fair to give the employers an opportunity to urge why such an award should not be given. If we give the employer permission to have his case heard with regard to such matters, it is equally right to give him the power to be heard in reference to the granting of preference, There ought to be no disabilities placed upon employers that are not also placed upon employes. To my mind, the amendment, as amended, does not improve matters in any sense. ‘ It simply cuts out a little redundancy from the original amendment. We shall be putting employers in a most unfair position if we say that they shall not be permitted to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference, simply because they happen to belong to an organization which has political purposes. Senator de Largie seems to consider that our objections to this proposal are not genuine.
– I do not say that they are not genuine, but they are not logical.
.- As the clause stands, it is perfectly clear that both parties are in the same position. It must always be borne in mind that there can be only one organization of employes with regard to any trade in a State. Hence the reason for prohibiting organizations of a political character - the character of which might prevent persons holding different political views from becoming members - obtaining an order for preference, as against those whose political views had prevented their joining the organization. But any body of employers may be brought before the Court. Surely they should, irrespective of their political views, be at liberty to be heard in opposition to any application for preference. I give Senator Pearce credit for believing that his amendment will be an improvement upon the Bill, but, at the same time, I think that those who support it will make a serious mistake.
-I think that the Senate has come to a reasonable state of mind in connexion with Senator Pearce’s amendment. My object in rising is to appeal particularly to Senator Walker and Senator Macfarlane, who always manifest a desire to do unto others as they would be done by. We have, to a great extent, to thank the Attorney-General for the position in which this clause stands. The honorable and learned senator objects to preference, but I would call attention to the preference which he exhibits with regard to varioushonorable senators. He constantly alludes to “my honorable friend, Senator Pearce,” or “my honorable friend, Senator Playford,” but it will be observed that he never speaks of Senator Croft or myself as his “honorable friends.”
– That is not so at all.
– It is an absolute fact. I am giving this merely as an illustration that the Attorney-General himself shows preference. The question which has disturbed the harmony of the Committee for the last day or two is that of granting or refusing preference in accordance with whether the organization applying for it has a political character or otherwise. Senator Pearce’s amendment is exactly what honorable senators opposite have asked for. It is absolutely fair, because it applies to. organizations both of employers and employes. If an organization of employers wants preference, it cannot get it unless it drops every vestige of a political character. The same consideration applies to an organization of employes. Senator Pearce and those who are supporting him recognise what Senator Mulcahy, Senator Playford, and others have contended for, that while preference might be of very great importance to an organization of employes, it is of little value to an organization of employers. Every one must recognise that when a dispute comes before the Court, there may be opposition to the granting of preference. If an organization of employers applies for preference and it is opposed by the employes, those employes under Senator Pearce’s proposal will have to drop their political character. Similarly, if the! organization of employers oppose the granting of preference to the employes, they also will have to drop their political character. Both will be on the same footing. The provision is fair to both parties. The Committee will be wise to accept an amendment which is so reasonable and fair, and I cannot see how my esteemed friends, Senator Macfarlane and Senator Walker, who are always claiming’ consideration for their sense of justice and fairness, can oppose it.
– I rise to take the ruling of the Chairman on a point of order. Standing order 253 says -
A motion, contradictory of a previous decision of the Committee, shall not be entertained in the same Committee.
If we turn to clause 40, it will be seen that it gives the Court power to grant preference to organizations. It says, however - provided always that before any preference to members of organizations is directed, as aforesaid, the President shall, by notification published in the Gazette, and in such other publications, if any, as the Court directs, specifying the industry and the industrial matter in relation to which it is proposed to direct such preference, make known that all persons and organizations interested, and desirous of being heard, may, on or before a day named, appear or be represented before the Court. And the Court shall, in manner prescribed, hear all such persons and organizations so appearing or represented.
My honorable friend Senator Pearce’s amendment says -
No organization shall be entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference.
Therefore, while clause 40 says that the Court cannot give preference until it has summoned every one to appear before it, and that those persons shall be heard, the amendment says that subject to the conditions stated no organization shall be entitled to be heard on a certain issue. The Committee have already passed the proviso to clause 55, which says- 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.
– We have not passed that ; it is now before the Committee.
– We have approved of the clause down to that point.
– No; we may yet negative the whole clause.
– I quite understand that the whole clause may be negatived, but still it would not be in order for any honorable senator to move an amendment upon any part of the clause before that word. Having approved of the clause as far as the word “ character,” and having passed clause 4.0, I contend that my honorable friend Senator Pearce’s amendment is absolutely contradictory of what the Committee has done.
– I shall not debate the point of order at any length, because, in my opinion, it is a very weak one. The amendment I propose is but a further proviso to the clause. Senator Dobson must see that in clause 40 we have dealt with the grant of preference, and we are now dealing with the conditions of preference.
– We have dealt with the conditions of preference. Three times the Committee has declined to alter this proviso.
– I take it that we are now dealing with clause 55.
– After the word “ character.”
– No, with the whole of the clause.
– If the point of order were upheld, we could strike out the whole proviso.
SenatDr Dobson. - I quite admit that ; but we have no business to move an amendment in contradiction of what we have already agreed to.
– There is no contradiction in the amendment.
– I agree that it is impossible for us to go back and amend a portion of the clause to which we have already agreed. We do not propose to do so by this amendment, which is not a proviso of preference, but a qualification.
– The Court has to summon all the parties before it, and hear them, and the honorable senator proposes that it shall not hear certain persons.
– The parties have to be notified, and if an employers’ organization wishes to oppose a grant of preference, we say that it must conform to this qualification, and rid itself of politics. Clause 55 is still under consideration, and it is competent for the Committee to add this further proviso.
– Under clause 40, the President of the Court, before any preference is given to any organization, has to inform all the parties interested. It does not appear to me that the proviso proposed by Senator Pearce is a contradiction of that provision. It is a modification by which it is sought to provide that any employers who wish to oppose a grant of preference cannot do so if they represent a political organization.
– But, sir, you do not deal, in your ruling, with the proviso to clause 55, to which we have agreed.
– Clause 55 is still under consideration, and we have, so far, taken no vote as to whether it shall stand as printed. The proviso which Senator Pearce has proposed might have been included in clause 40. The Committer did not include it in clause 40, but if, in its wisdom, it desires to add it to clause 5$, it is entitled to do so. . I cannot, therefore, uphold Senator Dobson in the point he has taken.
Question - -That the words proposed to be inserted, be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …. 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 56 to 62 agreed to.
Clause 63 (Adoption of rules by proclaimed organization).
– I should like the Attorney-General to give the Committee some idea of what is likely to be the effect of this clause when considered in conjunction with schedule B. It is provided that certain rules must be adopted by a proclaimed organization, and these rules are stated in schedule B. I point out that so far as Queensland organizations are concerned, we are at present working on a system entirely different to that provided for in the rules mentioned in schedule B. For instance, there is here a committee of management provided for, and for years past we have had no committee of management in connexion with unions in Queensland. We do not run our unions by committees at all. We hold the usual fortnightly meeting, to which every member of the union is entitled to come, discuss the business, and take part in the decision arrived at. It appears to me that undert his clause the Governor-General in Council may proclaim our organizations, and make us conform to rules which will involve the adoption of a system of management which we have not found to be the best. That is hardly fair, unless some special reason for it can be shown..
– My honorable friend will, I think, find that no inconvenience will result under this clause. The rules provided for here are referred to in clauses 56 and 63, and again in schedule
B, and they will apply only to organizations registered under the Bill. In the case of such organizations there must be a committee of management, but in my view this will not interfere in any way whatever with the constitution or regulations of organizations which are not the organizations referred to under this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 64 to 72 agreed to.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I have had printed some machinery clauses, which will include men employed in the coastal trade in ships other than those registered within the Commonwealth.
– I understand that the honorable senator is about to submit certain new clauses, and I desire to point out that the proper course would be for the “Committee to take the clauses of the Bill as printed before dealing with new clauses. Standing order 192 provides that -
The following order shall be observed in considering a Bill and its title: -
Clauses as printed and proposed new clauses.
Then postponed clauses are considered. Our Standing Orders were framed to a great extent on the Standing Orders which have been in existence in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and the course I have stated is the course of procedure always followed there. In the New South Wales Legislative Council a different course is followed, and new clauses are considered wherever it is thought desirable to insert them. I submit that the course I suggest is that provided for under the Standing Orders, and is the more convenient, because by following it we shall have considered the full text of the Bill as printed before dealing with any new clauses suggested.
– I feel quite confident that the practice which we are pursuing is that which the Senate ordered to be followed. When we were working under the South Australian Standing Orders, new clauses were taken after the Bill had been gone through, but the Standing Orders Committee proposed a new method - that new clauses should be taken in their order as proposed - and it was adopted by the Senate. I must rule that Senator Guthrie is quite in order in proposing his new clauses now.
– In its wisdom the
Committee has taken away all restrictions on industrial occupations in the Commonwealth, with one exception, with which I propose to deal. It will be seen from the definition clause that the Act is to apply to all industries on land and water. A question has been raised as to the jurisdiction of this Parliament, and it has provoked considerable discussion. There can be no doubt that we have the power to legislate in respect of ships whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are within the Commonwealth. That power is conveyed in the covering sections of the Constitution, and of course in the Constitution itself we have the larger power of ‘dealing with the whole question of shipping and navigation. It is contended that such legislation as I propose should not find a place in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. But let me point out that similar legislation has been enacted by this Parliament. I refer to paragraph g of section 3 of the Immigration. Restriction Act, which honorable senators passed almost without dissent. That section provides that no labour shall be admitted into the Commonwealth when it is bound by a contract. It also says that a ship’s crew who are brought on to the Australian coast under contract, and paid a lower rate of wages than the current rate here, shall be considered prohibited immigrants. In my new clauses I do not propose to go so far as to prohibit ships from bringing crews into Australia that are paid less than the current rate of wages. All I wish to enact is that if a dispute arises in any industry in the Commonwealth - I do not care what it is - it shall be sent on to the Arbitration Court for settlement. It must be admitted that the shipping industry is one for which this legislation was primarily introduced. But the Bill as it stands covers only a portion of the industry. If any honorable senator had proposed to exempt the Chinese furniture-makers from the decisions of the Arbitration Court.,, he would have been laughed at. While a ship is trading within Australian waters, and taking .cargo from one port to another, she is just as much a factory as a cabinet-maker’s shop in Little Bourke-street There is no other tirade whian is subjected to so much competition. A ship, being a factory, is sent to the cheapest port in the world for the purpose of getting her labour, and it is brought ere to compete with the labour on our coast, the conditions and remuneration of which’ are to be fixed by the Arbitration Court. Will honorable senators allow this serious competition with the wages of our seamen to exist without being subjected to proper control? I merely propose to introduce machinery clauses in the Bill. In the case of Australian-owned ‘and registered ships there is no reason to fear that the owners, will not carry out the awards and recognise their responsibility to the Court. But in the case of foreign-owned ships it is absolutely necessary to have a provision to compel them to fulfil their obligations before they leave the Commonwealth. The Committee acted wisely in cutting out of the Bill all restrictions. It is generally admitted that competition, does exist in this part of the shipping industry, and I ask honorable senators to go one step further and bring it within the provisions of the measure. It is most unfair that certain men, who have their homes in the Commonwealth, should be subject to the pains and penalties which can be inflicted under the Bill, and that Peter Olsen, from Norway, or Germany, or America, should be at liberty to come here, to leave his ship, and to compete against those men without being subjected to its provisions. Before Federation each State had the right to control its coastal trade. In his second-reading speech on the Navigation Bill, the Attorney-General laid great stress upon the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, which he said was passed not for Great Britain alone, but for all British possessions. It enables Colonial Legislatures to regulate the coastal trade, provided that all British ships are treated alike. I believe the AttorneyGeneral stated that the operation of the Act is not affected by the passing of our Constitution , Act. Is it not ridiculous to place a handicap on the ships belonging to the Commonwealth? The Bill as it stands practically gives preference to Germans, French, Norwegians, Swedes, and Americans who are trading within Commonwealth waters. Supposing that the Court were to make an award to apply to the shipping industry, foreign ships engaged in the coastal trade could go away, and the award could not be enforced. Under these new clauses, however, every ship in the coastal trade would be treated as an industry within the Commonwealth, and, of course, the award of the Court would only operate within the Commonwealth jurisdiction. I think honorable senators agree that the position is a fair one. Honorable sena-. tors will, I am sure, agree that the clauses that have been prepared demand their careful consideration, and r am satisfied that they will say, after they have looked into the subject,’ that if we are not ready to extendi the Bill to the vessels I have referred to, we have no right to make the men within the Commonwealth subject to the awards of the Court, and ought 10 exclude them from the Bill. I shall submit the first clause, with the object of taking the sense of the Committee as to the rest of the proposals. I therefore move -
That the following new clause be inserted - “72A. This part of this Act shall come into operation On a day to be fixed by proclamation, not being less than six months after the commencement of this Act.”
– The new clauses proposed by my honorable friend, Senator Guthrie, open up some very important considerations, .which will require to be looked into carefully. I do not propose to ask honorable senators to debate them at this late hour.
Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041117_senate_2_23/>.