3rd Parliament · 4th Session
ThePresident took the chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I understand that, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate last night, the Vice-President of the Executive Council made a statement to the effect that he had been’ approached by members of the Opposition with a request or a suggestion for an early adjournment. I was absent at the time, but I understand that his statement was objected to and contradicted by those who were present on this side. I desire to say that no such suggestion was made by me to either, of the Ministers, nor was it made, to my knowledge, by any other senator on this side.
– I can conceive where a little misunderstanding may have arisen. The honorable senator has spoken ofa suggestion having been made for an early adjournment. I did not state that any one had suggested to me an early adjournment.. What was suggested was the postponement of the matter under consideration, and, as there was no other business to proceed with, except the Navigation Bill, it did seem to me that the suggestion that we should adjourn the consideration of that matter naturally carried with it the cessation of business.
– Why did not the Minister go on with the Navigation Bill?
– I repeat that it did not appear to me at all reasonable to ask the Senate to take up the Navigation Bill for practically a few minutes. Senator Pearce will pardon me for saying that he was one of those who suggested to me the desirability of postponing the consideration of the matter.
– On this bench.
– What matter?
– The clause with which we were dealing.I wish to make it quite clear that nothing I said last night was to be interpreted as a suggestion to me that there should be an early adjournment of the Senate. It was merely a suggestion to postpone the consideration of the matter before the Committee.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council arrange to have the Budget papers, which will be distributed in the other House to-day, simultaneously distributed in the Senate?
– As soon as the Budget papers are available, probably to-morrow morning, I shall lay them upon the table of the Senate.
– Will they not be distributed in the other House to-day?
– I think so.
– Why should we not get them as early as members of the other House ?
– When the papers are distributed, honorable senators . will each get a copy ; but to-morrow morning they will be formally submitted here, with a view to giving the Senate a full opportunity to discuss the Budget.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he is aware that telegraphic communication between Tasmania and the other States on Sunday - that is, between Saturday night and Monday morning - is confined to one- hour on Sunday evening? Is he also aware that, owing to this arrangement, there is such a congestion of traffic that it is impossible for anybody to forward a telegram and receive a reply on Sunday? And, in view of the fact that the cable is now the property of the Commonwealth, and not the property of a private company, will the Government take steps to maintain, as between Tasmania and the other States, as constant communication through theweek as exists between the five mainland States ?
– I am not aware of the departmental arrangements, but I shall bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral the very important public matter to which my honorable friend has referred, with a view to seeing how far public facilitiescan be increased.
– I can assure the Minister that a lot of traffic does not go over the cable on Sunday because it is known that it would be useless to send the messages.
– I desire to ascertain from the Minister of Trade and Customs when the trawler may be expected to arrive in Queensland waters?
– It was intended to concentrate the work of the trawler upon the Tasmanian coast, but, as the weather got too severe, it was decided to leave that coast for four or five weeks and proceed to South Australia. . The trawler will remain in South Australian waters for four or five weeks, and then return to Tasmania. It is difficult for rr.e at the -present moment to state exactly when the vessel may be expected to go to Queensland, but I shall make inquiries with a view to giving my honorable friend an idea of the date if possible.
Bill presented, and (on motion bySenator Colonel Neild) read a first time.
– I have received an intimation from Senator Stewart that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate until9.30 a.m. to-morrowto debate a matter of urgency, namely - “ The failure of the Government to make provision for the extension of the Protection afforded to the manufacturers in various industries, to the workpeople engaged in those industries.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– I think that every member of the Senate will admit that the matter to which my notice of adjournment refers is one of more urgent public importance than anything else that could be brought before Parliament at the present moment. We know that the policy of the late Deakin Government, supported as it was by the Labour party, was protection for the manufacturers and protection for the workpeople. The protection to manufacturers was given by means of the Tariff ; and the distinct understanding between the Labour party and the late Deakin Government was that when the Government had passed its protective Tariff it should pass a Bill providing for a referendum at the next Federal election, with a view to an alteration of the Constitution so as to give the Federal Parliament complete power over the terms and conditions prevailing in every industry affected by the Tariff. That was the understanding upon which a certain number of Labour members supported the Government’s Protectionist policy. Some members of the Labour party were Protectionists, and would have been supporters of high duties in any case.
– Most of them.
– Yes, most of them. They would have supported high duties in the hope that ultimately, by some means or another,Protection would be extended to the workpeople engaged in the industries. But several Labour members were returned to this Parliament as Free Traders, and, notwithstanding that fact, on account of the pledge given by the ;Government, they were induced to vote for the duties which are now embodied in the Tariff. My contention is that the late Government was in honour bound to carry out the understanding. No attempt has been made to do so during the present session. No more important question, therefore, could claim the attention of this Parliament. The object of the Protectionist policy, with which I agree, is to create industries in Australia, so that the great resources of this continent may be developed in an adequate fashion, and also in order that our young people may have an opportunity to be trained in various industries other than those which are known as primary. We have in Australia large numbers of young men possessed of the highest mechanical and scientific capacity. . Unless encouragement be given for the development of that capacity by establishing industries, we can hope to remain nothing better than hewers of wood and drawers of water for more fortunate communities. That, as I understand it, is the Protectionist policy pure and simple. But the new Protection embraces the workpeople as well as the capitalists. It says that the benefits of Protection must be extended to the people who are engaged in the industries and to the consumers as well as to the capitalists. I am particularly interested to-day in the question as it affects the wage-earners. The Tariff has been in operation for a considerable time. Several firms which have benefited very largely from its operation have since repudiated any obligation which they entered into with regard to it, have defied Parliament, have appealed to the High Court, and have been successful there. They succeeded in inducing -Parliament to protect them on an implied -understanding that they would extend a share of the protection to their workpeople. The latter part of the obligation some of them have repudiated in the most shameful fashion. It has now become the -duty of Parliament to see that that engagement is enforced in some way. I have referred to the agreement made between the Labour party and the late Deakin Government. The’ connexion between the Labour party and the Deakin party has at last been severed. Probably the head of the present Government considers himself no longer bound by any obligation into which he entered with us. But I take up the ground that Mr. Deakin did not merely engage with, the Labour party to do a certain thing. He agreed in the face of the people of the Com monwealth to do that thing. He promised
Protectionists throughout Australia - and they are in a very large majority - that if they voted for his Tariff he would see that its benefits were extended to the .workpeople in the industries affected. I say, therefore, that the present Government, the head of which is Mr. Deakin, is just as much bound to see this matter through as was the late Deakin Government. Of course we know that the Prime Minister has entered into an alliance with a party which does not believe either in the old Protection or the new. He is allied with a party which did its level best to prevent the imposition of the Protectionist duties to which Mr. Deakin pledged himself.
– That is grossly inaccurate.
Senator Givens. Absolutely true.
– He is now hand and glove with the people who would have defeated him on every item of the Tariff had they been able. They would have succeeded but for the assistance of the Labour party, whom he now treats with contempt and scorn, and whom he accuses of being wicked wasters of public time. But for the assistance of that party Mr. Deakin would never have been able- to place the Tariff upon the statute-book. Some people have very short memories. The Labour party does not expect gratitude from any politician, but it does expect common honesty from men who hold high positions in public .lifeIf the Labour party found that the head of the Government was as anxious now to secure the workmen in their rights as he was, or appeared to be, when in alliance with them, not a single member of the party would find the slightest fault with him. But what do we find? Immediately the honorable gentleman joined in the Fusion, the policy to which he-had-pledged himself in the face of- the public was ‘'’abandoned. There is to be no referendum, no., alteration in the Constitution, no handing of this power over the various industries affected by the Tariff to the Commonwealth Parliament: We. are told that there is to be an Inter-State Commission appointed. It may be that Mr. Deakin and his Government believe that it would be better to appoint an Inter-State Commission than to give the Federal Parliament complete power over these industries. The Federal Parliament possesses the power through the Tariff to create industries, and the natural corollary of that is that it should also possess the - power_.t©» control the wages and conditions affecting the workmen in those industries. Apparently that idea has been thrown to the winds. I suppose that Mr. Deakin would not be permitted by his new associates to give effect to any such far-reaching proposal. Their only desire, evidently, is to defeat the aspirations of the workpeople of Australia to share in the benefits of Protection. Instead of having two men running abreast, each with full control of all. his limbs, we have now one man tied to another as men are in the three-legged race of which honorable senators may have had some experience at country sports. The effect upon their progress is to make it slow, uncertain, and very uncomfortable. That describes the position in which we find the Deakin section of the present Government to-day, as compared with the position they occupied when in alliance with the Labour party. I have here the Ministerial statement issued by the Government, and ordered to be printed on 21st July, 1909. It is headed -
Ministerial Statement. - Business to be Submitted to Parliament.
A brief statement of the business which Ministers are about to submit to Parliament is due to both Houses, though, since the time at our disposal is limited, the references to its particulars must be condensed to the utmost. To simplify the synopsis proposals are grouped according to subjects, and not to their relative importance. The statement is as follows : -
Probably that is a very important qualification. I say that because I find that the very first subject referred to in the statement is the one with which I am now dealing. Probably the Prime Minister, when he placed this at the head of his proposals, did so with the mental reservation suggested in the preface which I have read. I quote now from the body of the statement -
The most complex series of measures to be submitted includes those affecting the industrial interests of the Commonwealth. The pivot of several of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an Inter-State Commission, which, in addition to exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, will also be authorized to undertake many of the valuable functions discharged in the United Kingdom bythe Board of Trade, such as a general oversight of production and exchange, supplying information in respect to markets and openings for trade abroad, and for the improvement and extension of Australian industries within our borders.
Among its duties will be those of a Federal Labour Bureau, comprising a study of unemployment and of a scheme for insurance against unemployment.
The Commission will also assist in supervising the working of the existing Customs Tariff in its operation upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries, advising the removal of any inconsistencies in its schedules, and also with the further view of developing preferential and other trade relations within the Empire.
This item has the place of honour in the Ministerial statement. I do not know whether that signifies that in the opinion of the Government it is. the most important item of their programme, but it certainly is, or ought to be considered, one of the most important items of their programme. That being so, we should have had submitted before now the Bill to give it effect. I need not tell honorable senators that, in the ordinary course of legislation, the average Government dawdles over the first two or three months of a session, and then tries to rush through its business, usually in the most undigested fashion, in the last month or two. That is the ordinary course followed in this Parliament, and I have often protested against it. I feel that in dealing with a question of such momentous import to the working people of Australia, Parliament should be given the amplest opportunity to discuss, in all their bearings, the proposals of the Government in connexion with it. I do not know whether I am warranted in saying that the Government are by no means anxious to bring this matter to a head, but all the evidence points in that direction. We have a Government that speak with two voices - the Protectionist voice, and the Revenue-Tariff voice - the voice which favours the extension of the benefits of Protection to workmen, and the voice which is opposed to that extension. I have read somewhere that when two bodies moving in opposite directions meet, there is a suspension of motion. The present Government is comprised of two parties, whose policies hitherto have been diametrically opposed. I remember reading. I think it was in the Fables ofÆsop, about a goat and a fox who met in the centre of a narrow plank crossing a stream. There was some difficulty as to how they should pass each other. It appears to me that we have an exact replica of that position before us in the conduct of the present Government. We have the late Deakin party united with the old Free Trade or Revenue-Tariff party - to do what? To do the business of the country ? No, but to deprive the Labour party of any voice in controlling the affairs of this continent. That is the sole purpose for which the present Fusion was accomplished. It was to take away from the Labour party any influence which it may hitherto have enjoyed in fashioning the policy of the Commonwealth.
– That is true.
– That condenses into a single sentence the reason why the Fusion was formed.
– I point out to the honorable senator that he is now getting away from the terms of his motion.
– Certainly the Fusion was not formed to do business of this character. As I have already pointed out, there was a clear agreement between all sections of Parliamentarians who supported the late Tariff that its benefits were to be- extended to the workman as well as to the manufacturer.
– And they have been by means of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts.
– I will tell the honorable senator what has been done. As everybody is aware, Tasmania is a great country, for fruit growing and jam manufacturing. We all know the wages which are paid to the workpeople there. A little while ago there was a great outcry against the low wages paid in Sydney by the various jam manufacturers, and an inquiry was held into the matter. The employers there did not deny that the wages which they paid were shamefully low. But they said, “If we do not pay these starvation wages we shall be compelled to suspend operations owing to the competition of Tasmania.” What was the reason for that state of affairs? It was that in Tasmania there are no labour laws. The employer there has full liberty to sweat his workpeople to the top of his bent. That being the case, although there were labour laws in five of the other States, in New South Wales at any rate the people in this particular industry were reduced to the Tasmanian level. Does Senator Dobson who interjected just now, think that that is the proper position for the State which he represents to occupy ?
– The facts are not as the honorable senator has stated.
– Is Tasmania to be allowed to be a sweater State? Are the other States to be reduced to its level, or must it be raised willy nilly to their level? The latter is the object of the Labour party. It was also the object of the Deakin party before it allied itself with the Revenue Tariff party. What its object is now I do not know. I am not sure that it knows itself.
But in any case it is only proper that it should at least make some pretence of trying to carry out its own policy. So far as I understand it, the idea underlying the proposed appointment of an Inter-State Commission is that an arrangement shall be made with the States. Is it not a beautiful method of .settling a vast industrial question - a question affecting the bread and butter of hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children throughout this continent ? If the States refuse to do anything what steps do the Government propose to take? Suppose that Tasmania says, “We now have labour laws of our own, and we will not allow the Commonwealth to interfere in this matter.” ‘ Suppose that Queensland, New South Wales, and the other States, adopt a similar attitude? Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council in his reply tell us whether any communications have passed between the Commonwealth Government in this connexion and the various State Governments, and if so, what replies the latter have forwarded? The ma*jority of the State Premiers resent the interference of the Commonwealth in this matter. Of course I am speaking not of the people of the States, but of the State Governments. I know that in Queensland a large majority of the people would welcome the complete control of industrial affairs being handed over to this Parliament.
– I ask the honorable senator how he is going to connect his remarks with the terms of his motion ?
– I thought that I was adhering very closely to the subject.
– The honorable senator is speaking of the actions and feelings of the State Governments.
– One object underlying the appointment of the Inter- State Commission is that an arrangement may be made with the States so far as wages conditions are concerned. That is one of the methods by which effect is to be given to the idea of the Government in reference to the new Protection.
– I do not wish to interfere unnecessarily with the honorable senator, because I know that his time is limited. But I would point out that the question under consideration is -
The failure of the Government to make provision for’ the extension of the protection afforded to the manufacturers in various industries to the workpeople engaged in those industries.
The Standing Order requires me to confine the honorable senator closely to the terms of his motion.
– If you, Sir, rule that I cannot refer to that aspect of the question I will not pursue it. It must be evident to everybody that the Leader of the Protectionist Party has pledged that party to extend the benefits of protection to the workpeople engaged in the various protected industries. If that is to be done effectively, considering the limited time at our disposal before the end of the session, the measure by means of which the Government propose to effect their object ought to be before us at the earliest possible moment. So far, we have been engaged in considering measures of only minor importance, some of which, to my mind, represent mere padding. The real business of the session has not yet been entered upon. In view of all the circumstances, the sooner the Government proposals are before us, the better it will be for Parliament and for the country at large.
– I do not think there is any need to apologize for the action which has been taken by Senator Stewart. Recent occurrences demand an intimation from the Government as to the course which they intend to pursue in regard to the question of new Protection. Otherwise the time of the Senate will be frittered away, and the end of the session will be reached without anything having been done. This is by no means a new question. It has been before Parliament so frequently that it has become quite hackneyed. I think that some tangible result ought to be reached before the close of this Parliament. A Royal Commission inquired into this question, as well as similar matters, and, as the result of such inquiry, Parliament took certain action, which, however, was declared to be unconstitutional. There the matter has rested from that day to the present. It is well known, at any rate on this side of the Chamber, that the late Deakin Administration came to grief over this question. Owing to their dilatory conduct, the Labour party decided that it could no longer afford to waste public time by supporting that Ministry. The result of that decision was that the Government went out of office on that question ‘above all others, because we had no confidence that they would make it a live question during the present Parliament. Whether the present Government will take warning from the fate of that Government, I do not know.
– The only warning I can see in that- to this Government is to be careful not to make any alliance with the Labour party.
– On that occasion, there was no alliance, but there certainly was an understanding with the’ Government that the policy of new Protection should be enacted in the life of this Parliament. We were the forcing power. We forced Ministers as far as we could, but, unfortunately, we were not able to force them to go the whole way. We forced them to go to a certain point, but apparently beyond that point we could not induce themto budge. I hope that the present Government will not come to grief in a similar way, for I can assure them that the country has not lost sight of this question. If the Prime Minister and his colleagues should lose sight of it, ‘they will find that the electors have a very lively recollection of the great advantages which they were assured would accrue to the workers from new Protection. The members of the Labour party will not forget to recall those promises to the recollection of the electors. The present Government displaced a Ministry who certainly would have asked Parliament to legislate on this question if they had been afforded an opportunity. Owing to certain events the Labour. Government were not allowed to put their policy of new Protection before the country, and it rests with the present Government to prove their earnestness in this regard. The Protectionists assured us that they intended to remedy the weaknesses of the old Protection, which they admitted was altogether one-sided, insuring protection to the manufacturer, but giving no heed to the worker. They admitted that the worker was left to struggle as best he could, and that so far as the Tariff was concerned he might as well have been given Free Trade conditions, because he received no consideration from the manufacturer. If the Protectionists are in earnest they now have a better opportunity to put their theories into practice than ever they had, because we understand that the so-called Free Traders, have dropped the fiscal sponge. They have abandoned the principles of Cobden and Bright and are no longer committed to Free Trade. Therefore there should be no opposition offered to the Government if they were only in earnest about new Protection. The present Opposition will be only too willing to lend whatever help they can in that direction. There never was a more opportune time for a Government to ask Parliament to legislate on new Protection than the present time. There is ample time to deal with the subject in the life of this Parliament. The Government have an opportunity here and now to take some definite action. Leading Ministers are going about the country declaring that they are anxious to get on with public business, but are prevented by the Labour party. Only the other night, at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, in Melbourne - a banquet which was provided with the ratepayers’ money - an oration was delivered in the usual Deakinesque style, pointing out how the present Opposition were wasting the time of the country and preventing the Government from getting ahead with their programme. The proceedings in the Senate last night showed thatthere was absolutely no justification for bringing such a charge against the Opposition.
– The honorable senator is getting away from the subject matter of the motion.
– There is ample time for the Parliament to deal with the question of new Protection if the Government are in earnest. In view of the fact that all political parties say that they are in favour of such legislation, the Government have no excuse for not taking the initiative at once. We have reached a stage when we can scarcely find enough business to go on with.
– Three second-reading debates were adjourned here yesterday at the request of the Opposition.
– There were other Bills on the notice-paper, but, for some reason best known to the honorable senator they were not proceeded with. There is no excuse, I repeat, for the Government holding their hand with regard to new Protection. The Tariff Commission were appointed to inquire into that question, and to report on the Australian industries likely to be affected by the operation of the Tariff. The necessity for introducing new Protection was strikingly illustrated by. the state of the agricultural implement industry. It was shown that the manufacturers were making a good profit. The fact that a harvester cost between£30 and £38, and realized as much as £80, was sufficient evidence that some consideration should be extended by Parliament to the workers. While a certain measure was being considered here we were told that the farmers were called upon to pay too high a price for the machine, and that if a more moderate sum were charged it would still leave a fair margin of profit to the manufacturer. Since then we have had evidence from the International Harvester Company that the landed cost of their machine in Australia is£38 10s. In view of these figures it will be apparent that there is a wide margin left to the manufacturers for increasing the wages of the workers and decreasing theprice of the machine to the farmer. In its new Protection legislation Parliament raised the import duty on the harvester, fixed the selling price of the machine, and provided that a fair wage should be paid to the worker. So far a fair wage has not been paid to the worker, for no sooner did the manufacturers get their Protection through the Customs House, than an appeal was made bv them to the High Court. The PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– The country and Parliament had a perfect right to expect from this or any other Government that proposals would be submitted and passed into law giving adequate protection to the workers as well as to the manufacturers. If politicians were animated by the ordinary principles of honour and honesty which actuate men in every other walk of life, I unhesitatingly say that we should not have had to wait nearly so long for this legislation. As far as anv one man can pledge himself in honour and in honesty to the policy of giving adequate protection to the workers as well as to the manufacturers, Mr. Deakin, the head of the present Government, did so, and to the fullest possible extent. But having obtained for his clients, the manufacturers, the wealthy, and the so-called’ influential people of this country, all the benefits of the old protective system, he shows a most lamentable want of sympathy for the workers and no desire whatever to secure for them a fair share of the protection which this Parliament willingly granted to the manufacturers.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not correct.
– I know that it is absolutely true, and that that can be proved from the records of this Parliament.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Will the honorable senator indicate to me one particular- in which my statement is not correct?
– It is grossly incorrect.
– Will the honorable senator deny that Mr. Deakin pledged himself over and over again to the principle of new Protection?
– That is an unfair imputation also.
– Only the subtlety of a legal mind could find anything unfair in my statement.
– The subtlety of Senator Dobson’s mind, I am afraid.
– The public records of this Parliament, and the newspapers of the country, show that over and over again Mr. Deakin was pledged .to the new Protection policy. He induced some of the Free Trade members of Parliament to vote for Protection under the plea that adequate Protection to the workers would also be immediately granted.
– Then he put the views of his Government in a memorandum.
– A memorandum is now all the pabulum that the workers get. That is how Mr. Deakin has redeemed his promise !
– He has forgotten even the memorandum’.
– When the present Government came into office they promised that measures would be introduced - measures of some sort, which many of us thought would be fruitless - to give effect to the new Protection policy. But, so far, not a single step has been taken in that direction. The Government, as its great organ, the Age, says, is merely marking time with - formal measures, or measures which are practically formal. This Senate has had ample opportunities to deal with the great question with which we are now concerned, and which I maintain is the most important that could engage the attention of this Parliament at the present moment. I ask my honorable friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, if it is not true that the head of the Government of which he is a member, is pledged over and over again to the new Protection policy? If that be the case, and if Ministers are animated by the ordinary sentiments of honour and honesty which obtain amongst men outside, they should hasten to redeem a pledge so given and not allow the majority of the people of this country to suffer from their failure to do so. But instead of that, we find that apparently the Government have no intention of introducing any adequate measure of the kind this session ; or, indeed, any measure whatever. The Budget is being introduced in another place to-day. The financial policy of the Government is likely to absorb a great deal of the attention of the Parliament during the remainder of the session. In the early days of the session, when there was ample time for debate, a Bill ‘dealing with the policy of the new Protection should have been placed before us. But nothing has been done, and apparently nothing is intended to be done. Mr. Deakin went a great deal further when he was head of the previous Administration, than the Government of which he is now the head propose to do. He pledged, himself to appeal to the people to give the Commonwealth authority to deal adequately with industrial subjects. He has. absolutely ‘.abandoned that position -now. He says that he will now ask the State Governments to give us authority. I see absolutely no hope of securing any authority from the States. I see no hope of this question being finally or effectively dealt with by any such method. But, ineffective as the method must be, the Government have apparently no intention of doing even so much. What is the position of the workers engaged in the various industries affected by the Tariff? We know that this Parliament extended to the manufacturers the benefits of a high Tariff on the understanding that the workmen engaged in the protected industries should also benefit. The manufacturers expressed themselves as willing to give to their workpeople a share of the benefits. But as soon as the Tariff was passed and the manufacturers were enjoying the Protection they desired they refused to extend any concessions to their workmen. They even went so far as to drag the Commonwealth before the High Court in order to avoid having to give to their employes what they had promised to give. Everyone knows that that is true. I say, therefore, that the failure of this Government to propose any remedy whatever is worthy of the strongest condemnation. I am pleased that Senator Stewart has taken this opportunity, before the session draws to a termination, to remind the Government of its duty. We may be told’ bv the Vice-President of the
Executive Council that our time has been fully occupied so far. But I point out in reply that our time has not been really occupied at all. We are sitting only three days a week, and Ministers have taken every opportunity by early adjournments to avoid doing business. Now, on the top of their past transgressions in the way of shirking business, they come down with a proposal for a week’s adjournment.
– That matter is not now under discussion.
– I am only alluding to it, Mr. President, for the purpose of pointing out that if the Government were prepared to transact business, and were to ask the Senate to sit an extra day per week, we should be perfectly willing to do so, and there would then be plenty of time for dealing with the important matter which is the subject of Senator Stewart’s motion. Probably we may be told that there has so far been no time to deal with other business. I say that there is time now. To-morrow the Government will move that the Senate at its rising adjourn for a week. Why could we not discuss a measure dealing with the new Protection during that week? It is a shameful thing that the workers of this country, and Parliament as representing the country, should have been so grossly deceived and basely, betrayed in this matter by Mr. Deakin. What had the workers the right to expect? They had the right to expect that they would get exactly the same fair share of Protection as the manufacturers had received. But unfortunately for the workers they are not like the commercial classes, an influential section of the community. The) have no society influence. They have not at their back the daily newspapers to voice their opinions day in and day out. The) are not the men who can urge the banks, the chambers of commerce, and the chambers of manufactures, to take action in their interest. They are only working men. Consequently it is easy for Mr. Deakin and his colleagues to deceive and betray them. But a day of reckoning will come, when thosewho have been so betrayed and deceived will havean opportunity of getting back upon the people who have so treated them. What is it that is known as the policy of new Protection ? I claim that it is merely an act of simple justice to the whole community. New Protection means that the Protectionist policy, which is now, I think, the accepted policy of this country, shall not apply merely to the manufacturers, or to the people engaged in producing commodities ; that it is not merely the employer of labour, not merely the big capitalist, not merely the rich producer, who are to enjoy the benefits of Protection. New Protection goes further than that, and insists that the men engaged at work in the various industries shall get a fair share of the advantage afforded to those industries by the legislation of this Parliament.
– Are not the wages boards securing that for them?
– New Protection goes a bit further. It says that the consumers of this country shall not be fleeced by any manufacturer or combination of manufacturers.
– Competition will provide for all that
– The subject to which the honorable senator is now referring is not within the terms of the motion;
– New Protection implies Protection, not only for the manufacturer,’ but for the workman and the consumer.
– That may be, but the honorable senator is bound by the terms of the motion.
- Senator Vardon interjects that the wages boards will provide for adequate wages. That was not what the country and Parliament were told when the Tariff was placed before us. We were then told that this Parliament would undertake the duty of seeing that the workers engaged in the industries affected by the Tariff, as well as the manufacturers, should be protected. We were not then told, “We will ask the State Parliaments to give us authority.” We were told, “We give you an assurance and a guarantee that we will introduce legislation to carry out the new Protection.” We were further told that if it were found necessary, an appeal would be made to the people to give us the necessary power by an amendment of the Constitution. It was absolutely necessary that that should be done, because I have no faith whatever in the prospect of getting the various States to coincidein their wages boards legislation. This Parliament needs power to grant Protection to the workers from one end of Australia to the other - from Cape York to the Leeuwin.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– It is a pity that the time’ of the Senate should be wasted in directing attention to a matter which should have received attention from the Government long ago. If I understand the purpose of this discussion aright, it is to direct the attention of the Government . to -the necessity of their faithfully observing the understanding arrived at between the electors of the Commonwealth and the members of the Federal Parliament. During the course of this debate Senator Dobson repudiated the statement that the new’ Protection policy had been avowed by the late Deakin Government. ‘
– I did not repudiate that.
– The honorable senator complained that Senator Givens was unfair when he said that the new Protection was part and! parcel of the policy of the last Deakin Government.
– No, I complained of the statement that Mr. Deakin, having secured for his own supporters the manufacturers, the benefits of Protection, afterwards lamentably neglected the workers.
– Is that not a fact ?
– No, it is not.
– It is quite true, and it describes the position clearly. In order to show what the Government of the dai were thinking about on this question, I quote the following from a memorandum submitted to this Parliament, presumably by Mr. Deakin, in the year before last -
When Parliament was considering the Tariff it was clearly understood that the benefits to the industries affected were to be fairly shared between the manufacturer and the workers.
That statement of the Ministerial policy at the time was presented to Parliament for the- benefit and edification of Senator Dobson as well as of every other member of the Senate.
– That is a dishonored promissory note.
– Quite so, and the present discussion has been initiated to direct the attention of the Ministry, even at the eleventh hour, to the necessity of’ keeping faith with the electors.
– The honorable senator’s party turned out the Government that adopted that as its policy.
– We have in office at the present time a Government that has been to some extent a continuous Government. Four and a half of the members of the present Government are committed to that policy.
– Who is the “half”?
– I suppose that the Government Whip may be regarded as half a Minister at any time. There are at least four members of the present Ministry committed to the policy of dividing equally between manufacturers and their workmen the benefits accruing from the imposition of protective duties. I have been surprised at the levity with which honorable senators opposite have regarded the motion we are now discussing. One would imagine that it was a matter of a trifling character, and did not concern, as it certainly does, the bone and sinew of the country - the workers who produce its wealth, f have said that the present Government has been a continuous Government to some extent, and one of- the press organs that support it has claimed that as a result of the understanding arrived at between the two sections forming the Ministerial party, the Liberal policy is to be maintained. If the Minister of Trade and Customs were present, as he ought to be, to listen to the discussion of a matter which especially concerns his Department, 1 should ask him how the policy of the Liberal section of the Government in connexion with the new Protection is being maintained! by the proposal to shoulder the responsibility for giving effect to it on to the States. We have in the Fusion a “ Cave of Adullam,” in which all the political elements opposed to the Labour party find shelter and a home, and we find the Fusion Government repudiating the policy of the late Deakin Government, and turning a volteface when asked to give effect to the policy so clearly defined in the quotation I have made from the memorandum submitted to Parliament by Mr. Deakin. Yet, according to the Age, the policy of the last Deakin Government in this connexion is being maintained. While following the paths of political rectitude, Mr. Deakin stated in a Ministerial memorandum -
That as the power to protect the manufacturer is national it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth a’so acquires the power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners the policy ., of Protection must remain incomplete.
In that statement, Mr. Deakin, in the first place, committed himself irrevocably to the opinion that the Parliament of the Commonwealth and no other authority under heaven should be charged with the duty of giving effect to the new Protection policy. But what do we find ? The honorable gentleman has shifted his ground, and instead of persisting with this feasible proposal for the solution of the difficulty, he now submits a proposal to share the responsibility for giving effect to the new Protection policy with the several State Governments, who must be influenced by varying State interests and jealousies. I would ask Senator Dobson to say how it is possible for such a proposal to be given effect to. The various State Governments will be influenced by the desire to secure the greatest degree of prosperity for their respective States, even though it can be main- tained . only at the expense of the other States. This difficulty could not be more clearly exemplified than it was in a decision given by Mr. Justice Heydon, in New South Wales, in connexion with a matter affecting the bootmaking trade. He said that owing to the wages paid in Victoria being lower than those asked for in New South Wales, he could not grant what the New South Wales employes asked for, since to do so would have the effect of penalizing his own State. That shows what may be expected if the State Governments are given a voice in the settlement of this question. Each Government will be influenced by, perhaps, a laudable desire to preserve the prosperity of its own State, even though if should be at the expense of the people of the other States. Under the proposal of the present Government, in trying to solve this’ difficulty, we are invited to ask the assistance of the State Governments, and particularly of the Government of a State that is endeavouring by hook and by crook to establish all the industries of the Commonwealth within its own borders.
-The honorable senator is now debating a policy which he says might be followed in .a particular State, and that is not relevant to the motion.
– I thought I was keeping closely to the motion in referring to the altered proposals of the present Government for solving the difficulty. I was trying to show that it has been proposed to give large judicial powers to the InterState Commission, and to call upon the various State Governments to. endow the Inter-State Commission with powers to fix rates and conditions of employment. I was pointing out the defects of this proposal, and trying to show that it could not be expected to work out satisfactorily, if we are to be guided by past experience, and by the declaration of Mr. Justice Heydon, Before the head of the present Government had fallen from grace, he intended to propose the establishment of an Inter-State Commission on the lines of the Inter-State Commission established in the United States. Dealing with the matter, the honorable gentleman, in another memorandum which he submitted to Parliament, said -
The powers of the Board in this regard will be similar to those of the United States InterState Commission.
Since he has fallen from grace, and, to keep himself in power, has called to his aid all the reactionary elements in Commonwealth politics, the honorable gentleman has departed from his proposal to create an Inter-State Commission, on the lines of the United States Commission, and now proposes a Commission on the lines of the Board of Trade in England, which, as every one knows, exercises no authority whatever in the determination of wages and conditions of employment. I can only account for the change of front of the Government in this connexion by supposing that they are pandering to State- jealousies for all they are worth. They are asking each State Government to assist in the creation of a tribunal that must necessarily bring about a chaotic condition of affairs. They are asking the State Government of Victoria to take a share in the work of determining the wages to be paid in Western Australia.
– No, it is asking the State Governments under the powers of the Constitution to vest in the Commonwealth the right-io do that. I have not much confidence that it will succeed, but if it does it will- do all that is desired.
– I quote the following from a statement made by Premier Wade of New South Wales, which appears in correspondence which was lately tabled -
The proposal to endow the Inter-State Commission with judicial industrial authority is by no means free from difficulty.
That is a very significant statement, and it emphasizes all that I have said. Mr. Wade gives his testimony that the proposal of the present Government is by no means free from difficulty.
– It is so difficult that I dp not think it will succeed.
– I agree with the honorable senator, and that is why I should like him to get up and speak vigorously in support of the motion for the adjournment. I am waiting to hear the honorable senator.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I did not abstain from speaking earlier in the debate from any want of courtesy to Senator Stewart, but because I recognised that as each honorable senator is fortunately limited to one speech upon this motion, it was desirable that I should allow a reasonable number of speeches to be made by my honorable friends opposite before replying. Let me remind the Senate of the terms of this motion. Its words are -
The failure of the Government to make provision for the extension of the protection afforded to the manufacturers in various industries to the work people engaged in those industries. ,
You, sir, have already directed the attention of one speaker to the fact that the policy of the Government is not under review in that motion. To some extent, therefore, I shall be circumscribed in my remarks upon it. The real accusation which has been levelled against the Government is, not that their policy is wrong, but that they are not: proceeding to give effect to it.
– At any rate the honorable senator has challenged the Government only upon one point, and under the Standing Orders I am at liberty to refer only to that point. Concerning .the accusation of failure on the part of the Go- ‘vernment to give effect to their proposals regarding the new Protection, I wish to inform the Senate of what has really been done up to the present moment. There were two methods by which we could have sought to give effect to our policy.’ One was by securing an amendment of the Constitution, and the other by inviting the States under a well-known section of that Constitution to endow the Commonwealth with powers which, if transferred to it, would be just as effective as would those which could be obtained by means of a direct referendum.
– And they are powers which can be more quickly applied.
– Exactly. If by means of an arrangement with the States we can secure the powers of which I speak, they will . enable us to anticipate by some months the enactment of the legislation which will otherwise be necessary. In giving effect to its policy the Government, shortly after its formation, opened negotiations with the various State Govern ments. The correspondence in this connexion has been practically completed, and has resulted in the expression of a wish on the part of the State Premiers that they should use the Conference which will meet in this city next week, ‘and which has been primarily called for another purpose, as a means of completing the negotiations which were opened up by means of correspondence. That is how the position stands. Whether that method be good or bad it is impossible to urge that the Government could have expedited matters by even twenty-four hours.
– In the meantime, could we not have the Government proposals?
– My honorable ‘ friend talks about our proposals even before the Conference has met which is to decide their fate. Whilst I have every reason to hope that as the result of the steps taken by the Government the States will give us the power that we seek, I say fully and frankly, and without the slightest suspicion of anticipating that it will be necessary so to act, that if that power is not obtainable in this way, the Government, will not hesitate to seek an amendment of the Constitution in order to secure it.
– Before the next election ?
– Certainly, so far as we can.
– That is a qualification.
– When I say, “ so far as we can,” I have in mind the threats of the Opposition to prevent any business being transacted. I am never allowed to forget those threats. Not twenty-four hours pass when the Senate is sitting in which we have -not actual demonstration of the fact that they were not idle threats. Only to-day we have had another demonstration.
– The Government do not bring forward any measures beyond those which represent mere padding.
– Regarding the policy of the Government, I may perhaps be pardoned for reminding honorable senators that, it is clearly set out in the document from which Senator Stewart has quoted. Having adopted that policy, we could not take any course other than that which we have followed.
– In the Ministerial declaration of policy the Prime Minister says that it is unnecessary to refer the question of new Protection to the Premiers’ Conference.
– I do not know what consolation my honorable friend can find in that. Of course, it was not necessary to do so. Does he understand the meaning of the word “ necessary “ ? Nobody said that it was necessary.
– I am not in the habit of giving a word half-a-dozen meanings, as is the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– My honorable friend need not get excited about the matter. I merely say that he is putting an entirely wrong construction upon the word “necessary.” It is not. necessary to refer this question to the Premiers’ Conference. That the Government do not think it was necessary to refer it to that body is proved by the fact that they first proceeded to negotiate with the State Governments by means of correspondence. But, as that correspondence proceeded, it became manifest that it was desirable to refer the question to the Premiers’ Conference. Seeing that it was desirable to adopt that course, the Government naturally and with pleasure agreed to the suggestion that the question should be discussed when the representatives of the States met the representatives of the Commonwealth around a common table in this city. Let me remind honorable senators opposite of what has been their own action in regard to this matter. We have been told that the previous Deakin Government pledged themselves to give effect to a policy of new Protection. They did, and what happened? That Government were immediately deposed by my honorable friends opposite.
– Because they did nothing.
– My honorable friends immediately turned round upon them and removed them from office. It was not until this afternoon that we heard the slightest hint as to why that Government were displaced. My honorable friends have never before taken the country into their confidence. But we know the reason for their action now. It was because the former Deakin Government were pledged to give effect to the new Protection. Let me test the sincerity of my honorable friends in their professed desire to deal with this question. Not only did they displace the previous Government which was pledged to give effect to a policy of new Protection, but when they themselves were evicted from office their anxiety to place upon the statute-book a measure embodying that policy was so great that they immediately asked the GovernorGeneral for a dissolution which, if granted, would have had the effect of postponing its initiation indefinitely. Therefore, I may be pardoned for assuming that the action of my honorable friends to-day is merely part and parcel of the action which has been taken elsewhere, and which is quite in accord with the threats with which we have been bombarded ever since we took office. I recognise that the Opposition are quite able to carry out those threats, and, therefore, it is not necessary for its members to give daily evidence of their power. But I take some exception to honorable senators who are constantly displaying considerable scientific ability in the consumption of public time, accusing the Government of being unwilling to proceed with business.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is really an adept in the art of throwing dust into the eyes of the people. The motion which we are now discussing affirms that the Government are not making anyattempt to give effect to the policy of the new Protection.
– Whose new Protection policy ?
– The alleged new Protection policy of the Government. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has declared that the attitude which the Government are adopting towards this question will probably result in as speedy an initiation of that policy as would any other attitude. They propose to ask six State Parliaments to pass six separate Acts, empowering the Commonwealth to deal with industrial matters. The Vice-President of the Executive Council expects us and a confiding public to believe that that method will result in bringing about a system of new Protection as speedily as would any other.
– That is not the matter which we are discussing.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council himself discussed it at considerable length. Further, he endeavoured to prove that it was a speedier method than was that of attempting to secure an amendment of the Constitution.
– What I said was that approaching the States would probably be a speedier method.
– What are States but the States Parliaments? They are not some heavenly or nebulous bodies with which we are unfamiliar. The only institutions which typify the States are the State Parliaments. That is the meaning of the somewhat cryptic utterance of Mr. Deakin when he declares that it is not necessary to deal with this question at the Premiers’ Conference. Now we all know that one branch of the State Parliaments is either elected upon a property qualification or is a nominee chamber. We also know that the Legislative Councils of the States have shown a decided aversion to dealing with the question of protecting workmen, even when it has been brought forward by the State Governments. We are also aware that the average Legislative Councillor looks upon the Commonwealth Parliament with something like abhorence.
– I would point out that the honorable senator is now discussing the action which will probably be taken by the Legislative Councils of the States. It is true that the Vice-President of the Executive Council alluded to the fact that the Government were endeavouring .to obtain certain powers from the State Governments, but he did not discuss the question of whether those Governments were likely to grant them. The question which is under consideration is, “The failure of the Government to make provision for the extension of the protection afforded to the manufacturers in various industries to the’ work people engaged in those industries.”
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council not only referred to the method which the Government proposed to adopt, but proceeded to show that it was a more speedy method of satisfactorily dealing with the question of new Protection than was that proposed by previous Governments.
– The honorable senator may allude to that matter incidentally, but he must not discuss details by pointing out what will probably be done by the various Legislatures. He may think that the method proposed by the Government is quite useless, and one which will only result in delay, but he will not be in order in debating the question at length.
– I do not think that I am exceeding the latitude which was allowed the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and I ask for no more. It will be necessary to get six State Parliaments to pass an identical measure.
– Will my honorable friend allow me to interpose?
– No, because the honorable senator will probably occupy a portion of my time.
– As the honorable senator would not allow me to interpose, sir, I rise to order. You have already decided that it is not competent for any one at this juncture to discuss the method by which the Government propose to proceed.
– Why did the honorable senator discuss it then ?
– I did not. What I did was to point out that the Government’s policy, as set out in their printed programme, indicates a certain course of action, and that we have proceeded as expeditiously as circumstances warranted. Whether that action has been slow or rapid is immaterial. But now the honorable senator is proceeding to discuss, not whether the Government have proceeded expeditiously, but whether their policy is expeditious in itself.
– I wish to remind the President that Senator Millen discussed the policy of not only the last Government, but two previous Governments. He even discussed our action in ousting the late Government.
– I have already pointed out that the honorable senator is not in order in going into details as to the action which the State Legislatures maytake. The Minister referred to the. policy of the Government, because it had been quoted by Senator Stewart in his introductory remarks. ‘ I have no objection to a reference being made to the Minister’s statement, but on a motion of this character an honorable senator is not entitled to discuss what various Governments may do. The probabilities may be alluded to in a passing way, but I cannot consent to the debate being turned in that way.
– I can connect mv remarks with the motion, sir. The proposition put forward by Senator Stewart is that the action of the Government has led to delay. ‘ My contention is that extremeurgency is necessary by reason of themethod which the Government are adopting. If . they had intended to approachsix State Parliaments, they should not havepostponed this matter until a late period of the session. Their first act should havebeen to ask each House to refer the question to the State Parliaments. I hold, sir, that there is a connexion between the two- propositions. If I can point out that a long delay Will result from the course which they are adopting, that is a reason why they should act promptly. Before Parliament met the Government had ample time to come to a decision and form a policy. Within a short period of its assembling they could have asked each House to make the necessary reference to the State Parliaments, but so far there has been no indication of a desire on their part to take that step. If only one State Parliament should disagree, their proposal will fall to the ground like a house of cards. One Legislative Council can upset the whole of their calculations, and no doubt one Legislative Council will be found ready to do so with pleasure. The Government are culpable because they have brought forward questions which are not so urgent. In this matter time is a vital element, because if the appeal to the State Parliaments should fail, the only alternative open to the Government will he an amendment of the Constitution. The Government must have time in which to obtain the refusal or the agreement of the State Parliaments; and then to pass, the necessary, measure through both Houses. Each State Parliament will take as long to deal with the subject as we shall. The probability is that a reply will not soon be received from any one of the State Parliaments.
– My honorable friend will get a reply next week.
– From all the State Parliaments?
– From the State Premiers.
– At present the Premier of South Australia has a majority of only one, and if that man should fall dead in the street the majority is gone. The State Labour party, like the Federal Labour party, will assist the electors to get new Protection in a proper and constitutional manner. The Government have no guarantee that a single State Parliament will agree to their proposal. If they had been in earnest they would have taken decisive action long ago, so as to make an opportunity for playing their other card before the end of the session, and that is to deal directly with the matter in the event of the appeal to the State Parliaments failing. It is apparent that the Government’s proposal is merely put forward as a justification for delay. Evidently the whole session will be frittered away; no definite action will be taken, and the Government will shelter themselves before the people by saying: “We would have taken action, but the Parliament “of Tasmania or some other State would not give us the opportunity to do so. We were quite willing to give you new Protection, but the Legislative Council of Tasmania was unwilling.” On the other hand, if the Government had taken early action and found their method unsuccessful owing to some recalcitrant State, then they would have had an opportunity of proving their bona fides by submitting a proposal to each House of this Parliament. The very inaction of the Government is an indication that they desired the alternative to happen ; that they wanted to secure the opportunity of sheltering themselves behind the action of some State Parliament. If, however, they desire to give evidence of sincerity their duty is to take early action and press the matter forward. I agree with my colleague that there has been a breach of faith by certain Ministers, who promised the people that in the life of this Parliament they would extend the benefits of Protection to the workers and the consumers. The Prime Minister is under a solemn pledge both to the Parliament and to the people that he will take this opportunity, not some future opportunity, to give the people new Protection. This motion for adjournment is quite justified, because it is necessary that the people should know that we have taken an early opportunity of pointing out that the action which is now proposed to be taken by the Government will be futile, and merely resul’t in delaying the enactment of this principle. If we had not taken this course it would have been said that we had allowed the proposal of the Government to go without entering a protest. I contend ‘that my colleagues have been absolutely justified in making their protests, as they have done.
– The question before the Senate cannot be said to be a trivial one. It is one in which I think the people take a deep interest. The point is whether ‘there has been undue or unnecessary delay on . the part of the Government. Honorable senators know that I have no confidence in the method which Ministers have prescribed, because I said so some days ago. I see all the difficulties which Senator Pearce has so trenchantly pointed out, but that does not prove to me that there has been any unnecessary delay. It has been proved by actual’ experience that this Parliament has no power to legislate in the direction that we desire. The only thing we can do under the Constitution is to obtain the power, and two ways are provided. The power may be ceded to us by the States, or it. may be obtained from the people by means of a Bill passed by this Parliament and referred to the States and their people. The second means cannot take effect until the next Parliament. It must be initiated in this Parliament, and indorsed by the people at the general election. Therefore, there is some justification for the allegation that the Government’s scheme, if effective, is the readier scheme, because it is capable of accomplishment this week. Of course, I do not think it. is at all likely to be accomplished this week, but I am merely dealing with the fact that we lose no power that we i assess in availing ourselves of this extra possibility. So far as I can see, the Government have taken such steps as they could take, and as early as possible, to give effect to the policy which they think may be effective. They indicated in their policy statement that if the method they pieter should fail, they propose to take other steps. If they do not keep that promise, then will be the time to complain of their lack of action.
– In the next Pa i foment ?
– No. I wish to point out how strongly I feel on this matter. I have taken what may be called a precautionary measure, showing that I have no intention of permitting the question to slide until the next Parliament. I feel that we are bound in honour, even though we have no confidence in the Government’s method, to give them an opportunity to test it, and not to twit them with insincerity until they have exercised that opportunity. Senator Millen has stated that they have asked the Governments of the States to give them power to initiate this legislation. Senator Pearce spoke of some reference from Parliament. No such reference is contemplated in the Constitution. It provides that the States can cede to this Parliament certain rights, but it does not contemplate that this Parliament should ask the States to cede those .rights.
– I alluded to a reference by the State Parliaments to- this Parliament.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that the Federal Government should initiate a reference to the State Parliaments. We apparently agree that what is being done is all that could be done on the lines that the Government propose. Let us assume, for argument’s sake, that the method of reference to the States fails. In that case, the Government could take no immediate action to pass a Bill in. this Parliament for the alteration of the Constitution, because the Constitution says that such a Bill must be submitted to the electors within six months of the time of its passage. The elections would probably not take place until the end nf April. Therefore, a Bill passed now would be dead before the question could be submitted to the electors. The Government hope to achieve their end by another means. As the question is not now a matter of urgency, it would be in the nature of a threat to the persons with whom the Government are negotiating if they were to give notice of the measure now. Therefore, I can quite excuse them from .giving immediate notice. I hope and expect that, if within a reasonable time, the method of the Government does not succeed, they will take other action. If they do not, I think they will be open to all the condemnation that it is possible to heap upon them. But, in the meantime, the question is not in the slightest degree prejudiced by delay. Therefore, there is no reasonable ground for complaint against the Government at present.
.- I agree . with Senator Trenwith that the question under discussion is very important to a considerable section of citizens. When the Tariff Bill was introduced, manufacturers, and those interested in commercial pursuits in different States, by personal representations, by circulars, and by other method’s, exercised to the fullest extent all the influence which they could command, in order to obtain what they desired. The party with which I am associated, felt that no Tariff would be complete unless it gave a full measure of protection to the workmen engaged in the industries advantaged by protective duties. But, almost immediately after some manufacturers had obtained protection, they showed that they wanted free trade in labour, and did all they could to bring about such a fusion as would make a comprehensive new Protection policy well nigh impossible. One of the most prominent men in Victoria, in bringing about the present Fusion party, was Mr. Joshua. Mr. Joshua and Mr. McKay were also the two men who at one time exercised more influence than probably any other two men in Australia outside Parliament in regard to the Tariff.
– They were the men whom the honorable senator delighted to honour.
– The industries in which these two men were interested were singled out from the general Tariff for special treatment. I allude to the distillery business and the harvester industry. Both promised that if they secured the measure of Protection which they sought, their workmen, beyond all doubt, would also receive the consideration to which they were entitled. Parliament gave the distillery and harvester-making industries Protection. The new Protection policy was applied to the harvester business. But, almost immediately, Mr. McKay took a case to the High Court, and proved that the Act of this Parliament was unconstitutional. He upset the new Protection principle holusbolus. From that time to the present the workmen have been asking why we members of the Labour party permit this state of things to continue. When the late Deakin Government was in office a comprehensive measure of new Protection was promised. There was to be a referendum to the people as to whether they approved or disapproved of protection being extended to the workmen in protected industries. But since the Fusion has been consummated Mr. Deakin has gone back on his promise. He is now seeking the opinions of the various State Parliaments in regard to new Protection. But the State Parliaments do not fairly represent the people of the State. Some of them are elected on a very restricted franchise. Tasmania has been cited. We know what industrial conditions prevail there. Although the Labour party increased its strength at the last election, it is. still in a minority in Tasmania, which is dominated by a Conservative Upper House.
– The honorable senator is not now speaking to the motion.
– I have no faith whatever in the sincerity of the desire of the Government to give adequate protection to the workmen and workwomen of Australia. I cannot by any stretch of imagination believe that those who a few months ago condemned the old as well as the new Protection, and one of whom, a member of the present Ministry, said that new Protection was a mad-cap scheme, are in earnest in their desire to protect the working people of Australia. Holding that belief, I think that Senator Stewart is to be commended for moving the adjournment of the Senate in order to exhibit to the electors the hollow ness of the pretensions of the present Government in regard, not only “to the matter under discussion, but to other items in their so-called policy programme. Within a few hours a motion for the adjournment of the Senate for a week will be submitted. Why ? In order that Ministers may discuss matters pertaining to the national welfare with the Premiers of the States. It may be that the new Protection will be referred to incidentally. But that is not a matter for the State Premiers, or for the State Parliaments. It concerns the people of Australia, and they should be directly consulted. If they are consulted in a constitutional manner, I have not the slightest fear of the result. But because the Government fear that the majority of the people of Australia will declare in favour of a comprehensive system of new Protection, they are afraid to pursue such a course. They are influenced by organizations such as the one that met the other day and declared itself emphatically in favour of the present Fusion Government, against the policy of the new Protection, against the subject being referred to the people by referendum, and in antagonism to Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration. That was the attitude of the Chamber of Manufactures, a prominent member of which is Mr. Joshua. There is no hope of securing consideration for the workpeople of Australia from- this Government and from its supporters. We are told that some of them have sunk their Free Trade principles. They have seen the error of their ways. Yet we have seen in English magazines articles written by certain senators, one by
– Has that anything to do with the subject-matter of the motion?
– I was about to show, in my own way, that nothing is to ‘be expected from this Government, although they profess to be anxious to extend the principle of Protection to the workpeople in protected industries.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in dealing with the opinions expressed by various honorablesenators.
– Then I shall not be in order in making a passing reference to one Government supporter who evidently has not abandoned the principles which he contends were glorified in his own State. It is from such supporters that we are told we may hope in a very short time to get such a measure of new Protection as will give satisfaction to those who believe in every form of Protection. I do not wish to .take up further time. I have joined in the discussion, because I felt that the question dealt with is one upon which we might well -spend some time. Unless our fiscal policy is made sufficiently comprehensive to embrace protection to the artisans, it will be of no value to the majority of our people. I hope that the Government will make their views in the matter known as early as possible, in order that we, who have been returned to secure Protection for the working classes, will know exactly what course to follow.
– - I think that it is necessary to ask the Government why they have not done something for the working people engaged in the various industries in Australia. The only reply we have received from the Vice-President of the Executive Council is a reference to threats by honorable senators on this side to waste time. The honorable gentleman says that in submitting this motion we are carrying out those threats. I wish to ask him who made the threats, and where and when they were made.
– Mr. Fisher, Mr. Hughes, Sir William Lyne, and many others on the honorable senator’s side.
– I have never heard such a threat made by any member of the Senate.
– Dees the honorable senator deny that Mr. Hughes and Mr. Fisher have made the threat publicly?
– I have no knowledge which enables me either to confirm or deny that statement; but I have not heard any member of the Senate say that he intended to prevent the transaction of public business.
– Senator Findley said so in the early days of the session.
– I said -I would do what I could to harass the Government.
– And the honorable senator is doing it.’
– I did not hear Senator Findley say that he would do anything to block public business.
– I did not use those words.
– Some members’ of the Senate appear to me to be very gullible.
They seem to imagine that the Government are in earnest in their professed intention to do something to protect the interests of working men. Having regard to my experience in the Senate, I find that the funniest thing imaginable. I can well remember the set opposition of quite a number of honorable senators, who are now supporting the Government, and by whose support the Government are enabled to live, when proposals were introduced for the protection of the worker in industries in which the manufacturers were given a great deal of protection. They pointed out that it was against all principles of economics. They did so, for . instance, in connexion with the harvester industry. They said, “ Here we are giving a large measure of protection to the manufacturer, and now you say that you want protection for the workers in the industry, and also for the consumers.” No one was more emphatic in denouncing the whole thing as chimerical than was Senator Pulsford. He told us that the whole thing would break down of its own weight. It did not do so, but what happened was that as soon as the manufacturers were given protection against outside competitors .they failed to carry out the promise they had given to increase the wages paid to their employes or to reduce the price of harvesters to the consumer. Senator Dobson said that there was protection of labour under the laws of the States ; the honorable senator knows that in his own State there is no law to prevent a man being sweated to the extent of having to work for his tucker, if he is forced to come down to. that level. It is true that in some States legislation has been passed which protects the interests of the workers in some industries. But who does not remember the course followed by some honorable senators opposite when the Labour party approached the Federal Government to induce them to fix a certain wage for labourers iri the sugar industry ? Having got rid of the coloured alien they desired that labour in the industry should be as cheap as possible, and they said that the industry could not afford to pay anything like 25s. a week for labour. When the Government decided that those engaged in the industry must not sweat their labourers at 4½d. an hour, some honorable senators opposite went post-haste with a deputation to the Government to ask that those engaged in the industry should be allowed to continue the old system of sweating, white labour.
In spite of these facts, some honorable senators still believe that the Government are really in earnest in the desire they have professed to protect the interests of the worker. I regard this matter as urgent, in view of the action taken by manufacturers affected by a measure which we passed, and in which we sought to protect the interests of the worker. I refer to the Excise (Spirits) Act. Mr. Justice Higgins gave an award in connexion with this matter. The manufacturers said that they were prepared to abide by any award which Mr. Justice Higgins might choose to give. He gave an award, and wages were raised in accordance with it. I refer honorable senators to what happened in a distillery in my own State. I shall show what the conditions were prior to and after the award given by Mr. Justice Higgins. A number of coopers were employed in the distillery, and before the award they were paid 50s. for a week of fifty-eight hours ; after the award they received 56s. for a week of forty-eight hours. Bond storemen, who were regarded as skilled labourers, worked fifty-eight hours a week, for 36s., before the award, and after it they worked forty-eight hours a week for 45s. Unskilled labourers, prior to the award, were paid 36s. for a week of fifty-eight hours, and after it 42s. for a week of forty-eight hours. Prior to the award two firemen were employed at 39s. for a week of seventy hours, and after the award three fireman were employed at 48s. for a week of forty-eight hours. The head distiller was paid 50s. for a week of seventy hours prior to “the award, and after it he received 72s. for a week of fortyeight hours. In his case, there was a decrease of twenty-two hours work per week, and an increase in wages of 22s. per week. Two other distillers were paid 42s. for a week of seventy hours before the award, and after it they received 60s. for a week of forty-eight hours. The clerk in the office worked forty -eight hours per week for’ 30s. prior to the award, and after it he worked forty-eight hours per week, and was paid from 40s. to 45s. My correspondent writes -
Under the old system there were only two firemen, now three. There were only two distillers previous to the new conditions, both of whom worked 70 hours at 42s. per week. There are now three distillers. I am not exactly sure about the clerk, whether he got 25s. or 30s. under the old regime or whether he gets 40s. or 45s. now At any rate he has obtained a considerable increase.
The distillers pledged their word to abide by the award made by the Judge of the
Arbitration Court, and they did so until those interested in the manufacture of harvesters took their case to the High Court, and the Act affecting then:, was declared to be ultra vires. Since then, what has happened? The manufacturers, who are strongly supporting the Government now in power, immediately reverted to the old condition of things. They said to their employes - “ You have no Government to protect you now, and we shall give you the long hours and wages you had to accept previous to the time when you received protection from the Government.”
– And yet the Excise (Spirits) Act was not declared to be unconstitutional.
– That is so. But the decision in connexion with the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was accepted. In spite of all this, it is expected that honorable senators opposite will use their influence with the Government to induce them to do something to protect the interests of the men who are suffering in this way.
– Are we to understand that all the men to whom- the honorable senator has referred, are compelled to work for more than forty-eight hours per week?
– Undoubtedly, they are compelled to work for as many hours per week as the employers choose, or their poverty compels them to accept.
– What about the eighthours’ system?
– The eight-hours’ system is not enforced in connexion with the sugar and many other industries. The present Government are living on the support of those who condemned the legislation under which the men to whom I have referred received the benefit of a big rise in wages, and an important reduction in their hours of labour. I have shown that they were asked to work seventy . hours per week.
– Have they to work as long now ?
– I am not quite sure. I made inquiries from a member of the Queensland Parliament only a little time ago, and he told me they had gone back- from the position they occupied after Mr. Justice Higgins’ award, but he could not say exactly how far they had gone back. It is absurd to expect Senator Dobson, who was opposed to the legislation under which these men were relieved, to compel the Government to do something now to relieve not only the few men engaged in the distilling industry, but the thousands engaged in other industries. The Government intend to consult the State Premiers upon this matter. But what relief do they expect to obtain ? Do they anticipate that the Tasmanian Parliament will pass a Bill providing that all farm labourers shall be subject to the. industrial legislation of the Commonwealth?
– Order ! The honorable senator has exhausted the lime at his disposal.
– Honorable senators are well aware of the views which I have always held upon the question of Protection. My objections to a Protective policy have not diminished with the lapse of years. I am as great an opponent of such a doctrine to-day as I ever was. In fact, as the years roll by and my experience becomes enlarged my disbelief in the efficacy of a policy of Protection to enrich the community grows greater and not less. Concerning the -new Protection policy, I am prepared to support it ? Why ? Simply because our legislation has been enacted in the interests of the employers. I have no faith in either the old Protection or the new Protection, but I am prepared to assist my honorable friends opposite to give effect to the latter policy, in order to show that all such legislation must be a failure.
. - I did expect that the Vice-President of the Executive Council in his reply would have been able to make some effective defence of the Government. But having no case he resorted to the old device of abusing his adversary. He railed at the Labour party for wasting time. We had retailed to us the usual clap-trap in that .connexion. It appears to me that if a member of the Opposition asks a question or ventures to make a few. simple remarks, he is at once accused of wasting the time of the country. Apparently we must not discuss such measures as the Government may choose to put before us. Surely the welfare of thousands and tens of thousands of working men and women throughout the Commonwealth is a matter of supreme importance, and yet nothing has been done to give effect to the pledge which the last Deakin Ministry gave to the people of the Commonwealth when their policy of Protection was submitted for their approval or disapproval. Let me again quote what is contained in the document issued by that Government regarding this question -
As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners the policy of Protection must remain incomplete.
That was the declaration of Mr. Deakin as the Leader of the Protectionist party. We are now told that that party is not dead. That Senator Best occupies his old seat is a living illustration of that fact. What has he to say regarding the present position? The excuse urged by the VicePresident of the Executive Council for Mr. Deakin and his former colleagues was that the Labour party turned them out of office when they were pledged to secure an amendment of the Constitution so as to give effect to a policy of new Protection. It is true that we did turn them out of office. But did that circumstance justify Mr. Deakin and Senator Best in repudiating a deliberate engagement into which they had entered? They entered into that obligation with the people of the Commonwealth. In effect they said: “If you will give us a sufficient majority to enable us to give effect to our policy of Protection, we will secure to the workpeople throughout Australia a decent rate of wage. “ Yet the Vice-President of the Executive Council practically claims that because the Labour party turned Mr. Deakin and his colleagues out of office we have no cause to complain of those gentlemen not carrying out their promise. Again I ask, “ Is not this code of morals altogether too low?” When men occupying positions like those filled by Mr. Deakin and Senator Best make deliberate pledges to the people who elect them, are they warranted under any circumstances in proving false to those pledges? It was the intention of the then Government, of which Mr. Deakin was the hear1 and Senator Best-
– Was the tail.
– I will not say that. I know it is sometimes said that the tail wags the dog. I am not sure whether in the case of the present Government the tail does the wag.
– The dry dog wags the tail of a few Ministers.
– I belie~« that the dry dog has something to do with them. I have already quoted the proposition laid down by the former Deakin Government. It declares that in the absence of fair and reasonable conditions of ‘employment to wage-earners the policy of Protection must remain incomplete. The Government recognised that the only effective method of securing the desired reform was by means of an alteration of the Constitution. The concluding paragraph of the memorandum issued by that Government in regard to the new Protection reads -
In order to carry out these objects, it is proposed to insert new paragraphs in section 51 of the Constitution, so as to enable the Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to - “ (35a) the employment and remuneration of labour in any industry which, in the opinion of the Inter-State Commission, is protected by duties of Customs.” “35 (b) The grant to the Inter-State Commission and its members of such powers of regulation, adjudication, and administration, as the Parliament deems necessary for giving effect to any laws made in pursuance of the last preceding paragraph, subject to such review, if any, as the Parliament prescribes.”
But the present Government, insteadof seeking an amendment of the Constitution, propose to ask the States to consent to an arrangement whereby the Inter-State Commission will be able to fix rates ot wages throughout the Commonwealth. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has claimed that the Government have done everything in their power to carry out their programme in this connexion. What have they done? They have not yet appointed the Inter-State Commission. They have not even submitted to Parliament the Bill providing for its appointment. Before that Commission can be endowed by the State Parliaments with the powers which it requires, it must be in existence. The first duty of the Government, therefore, is to create the Commission. They will then be in a position to say to the States : “ Here is the Inter-State Commission. We ask you to consent to clothe it with the necessary power.” But none of these things have been done. It is true that some correspondence has passed upon the subject between theCommonwealth and the States, and probably the representatives of both will have a pow-wow in Melbourne when the Premiers’ Conference assembles. But nothing has been done. Therefore, we can very well charge the Government with insincerity in this connexion. They have abandoned the policy which they adopted with so much deliberation.
– Is not the honorable senator laying himself open to a charge of insincerity? Does he not wish us to appoint a Commission consisting of three highly-paid men before there is anything for them to do?
– Before the InterState Commission can be clothed with the power to regulate wages conditions, it must be in existence. We cannot turn steam on to an engine which has no existence. That should be apparent to the honorable senator.
– Does not the honorable senator think that our first act should be to prescribe the duties of the Commission?
– Has Senator Walker read the Ministerial statement? The Inter-State Commission is to be clothed with very great powers. It is to have power over everything in Heaven, on earth, and in the waters under the earth. I am not sure that it will not be charged with the duty of exploring certain regions which ought to be nameless in this place. The present Government have not only abandoned their pledged policy, but they have failed, and are failing, to carry out the policy dictated by the Fusion, and the reason for that is not far to seek. When the Labour party was supporting the Government, we were pushing the coach up-hill, and occasionally cracking the whip over the backs of the horses ; but now the brake is on, and very heavily on, and the members pf the Fusion are delaying the progress of the coach by every means within their power. The fact of the matter is that the Government dare not move. The Ministry are divided on this question, and on that account, hundreds of thousands of men and women throughout Australia are suffering. The policy of Protection is stinking in the nostrils of the people. I am a Protectionist. Ibelieve in Protection.
– For how long has the honorable senator been a Protectionist ?
– I have always voted for Protection.
– The honorable senator told me that he was a Free Trader at one time.
– I have not always lived in Australia ; and I am not referring now to my Australian life. When I lived in Great Britain I believed in Free Trade. When I came to Australia and understood the conditions here, I became a Protectionist. I am a Protectionist to-day - an old Protectionist and a new Protectionist. Unless the Government move, and move speedily, in this matter, they will find that the policy of Protection will meet with a great deal of opposition throughout the Commonwealth. The working men and the working women of this country have decided that, unless they receive a share of the benefits of that policy, then, either some new policy must be tried, or the Government, who refuse what is demanded, will get a very short shrift.
– Does the honorable senator desire to withdraw the motion ?
– No, sir.
Question - That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 9.30 a.m. to-morrow - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Abolition of the Kilt : Staff Officers, War Course of Instruction : Defence Schemes.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it true, as reported, that in the military reorganization scheme it is contemplated the Scottish Volunteer Regiment should lose their distinctive identity, and the kilt be dispensed with as a uniform?
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
No. 2. (a) One is nearly completed.
Chief of the Imperial General Staff, War Office, London.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the proposed early visit of the prospecting vessel Endeavour to South Australian waters, will instructions be given to examine and report on the extent and value of the fibre deposits in Spencer’s Gulf?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The present visit of the Endeavour to South Australian waters will probably be of only brief duration. It is desired to continue the work partially completed on the Tasmanian coast, which has been interrupted by the severe weather usual at this time of the year. After that is completed it is proposed to take up a thorough investigation on the S’outh Australian coast, when some attention will be devoted to the marine fibre deposits mentioned by the honorable member.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is the quantity of water reported by Mr. E. M. de Burgh as flowing down the Cotter River available for the proposed Federal Territory by a scheme of gravitation, or how much of it is so available, or will a pumping scheme be necessary to obtain the use of the whole of the said water, or what part of it, and at what cost ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Premier of New South Wales was asked for the further information desired by the honorable senator, and replies that the discharge of the Cotter River given by Mr. de Burgh, Chief Engineer for Harbors and Water Supply, New South Wales, represents the total discharge from the whole Cotter River catchment of 160 square miles. Of this the discharge of ten-sixteenths from the area of 100 square miles is available by gravitation for delivery at a point 508 feet above Canberra, serving the highest building sites recommended by Mr. District Surveyor Scrivener. This upper 100 square miles is the best of the catchment, and includes the snow country, and the Engineer considers tensixteenths a conservative estimate of the quantity of water available by gravitation as above. The balance of the water will be available by pumping, but the cost cannot be given until the site of the City in the Territory is fixed, as the level is not known, but about 4d. per thousand gallons to the highest level mentioned may be assumed.
Debate resumed from11th August (vide page 2263) on motion by Senator Sir Robert Best -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia) [5.24]. - Last night I moved the adjournment of the debate, in the hope that Senator McGregor would be well enough to speaktoday, but I understand that he is still indisposed, and therefore I propose to address a few remarks to the Senate. I believe that this Bill is welcomed by every one, but there is one clause to which I desire to draw attention, and that is clause 14, which seeks to insert after section 87 of the Act three new sections, prohibiting agreements such as that referred to by the Minister in regard to the bootmaking industry. If we can prohibit such agreements under the Patents Act, I welcome it, because I recognise that the agreements referred to are of a harmful description, and, in some cases, most iniquitous. But I should like to be assured of our power to do what the Bill proposes. We are not now quite so sanguine as we used to be, as to our power to deal with some of these questions by Federal legislation. If we have not power to legislate as to what the Bill purports to deal with, it would be better to have the point cleared up, and, if necessary, to seek an alteration of the Constitution in order that we may be able to pass a law that will stand the test. It is manifestly a waste of time and money to pass a law which would be immediately declared ultra vires by the High Court. The clause in question, which is proposed new section 87 b, reads as follows -
It shall not be lawful, in any contract made after the commencement of this section in relation to the sale or lease of, or licence to use or work, any article or process protected by a patent, to insert a condition, the effect of which would be -
to prohibit or restrict the purchaser, lessee, or licensee from using any article or class of articles or process, whether patented or not, supplied or owned by any person other than the seller, lessor, or licensor, or his nominees; or
to require the purchaser, lessee, or licensee, to acquire from the seller, lessor, licensor, or his nominees, any article or class of articles not protected by the patent; and any such condition shall be null and void.
It will be seen that that is an attempt to conjoin with the power of granting a patent the power to say to the owner of the patent “ You shall not do so and so in connexion with your trade.” It is an attempt to restrict the owner of the patent in regard to selling, not the patent itself, but the article patented.
– If Senator Best agrees with that statement, there will be no difficulty.
– Oh, no !
– To deal with the matter under the trade and commerce section is just what we cannot do. If we have not power to deal with the matter under the paragraph of section 51 of the Constitution relating to patents, we have not the power under any other part of the Constitution. I hope that honorable senators clearly see the point. What I am dealing with is not the patent or invention, but a condition to be attached to the sale of the patented article. Take, for instance, boot-making machinery, such as is used in all up-to-date factories. The patentee makes the machinery, and sells it to another person, but he lays down certain conditions regarding its use. He says - “If you use this lasting machine, you shall not use such and such a machine alongside it, unless it is made by my firm.” That is really a condition of sale.
– That is to say, the patentee controls the use of other machinery by means of his patent?
– By laying diown the conditions under which he will sell his patented article, he controls the trade of the person who buys the machine. This is not the only case that could be mentioned. Probably some honorable senators are acquainted with a razor called the “ Gillette.” The dealer in such razors - that is, the seller to the retail purchaser - has to submit to the condition that he will not sell any other blades with the razor than blades produced by the Gillette Company. A similar condition prevails with regard to certain phonographs. There was an interesting case in which the dealer or jobber was bound down by the owner of a patented phonograph. Some cases of the kind have been before our High Court, which has given judgment.
– Cannot we control the use of a patent within our territory ?
– We can lay down laws with regard to the holding of a patent, the protection of the patentee, and so on. But can we lay down a condition affecting the contract of sale, not necessarily of a patent, but of the article produced under the patent, or to which the patented article is attached? The first case in which this question rose was the Union Label case. We had power under the Constitution to legislate in regard to trade marks. We did so, and attached to our law certain conditions affecting industrial affairs, the argument being that as we had power to legislate as to trade marks we also had power to attach conditions to the use of trade marks. On page 469 of vol. 6 of the Commonwealth Law Reports, the following case is stated -
It is a necessary implication from Part I. of section 51 of the Constitution that the power of Parliament does not extend to trade and commerce within a State, and, consequently, the power to legislate as to internal trade and commerce is reserved to the States by section 107 to the exclusion of the Commonwealth. When the intention to reserve any subject-matter to the States, to the exclusion of the Commonwealth, clearly appears, no exception should be admitted to that reservation which is not expressed in clear words.
Part VII. of the Trade Marks Act 1905 is in substance an attempt to regulate the internal trade of the States, not within or incidental to any of the expressed powers conferred on Parliament to regulate that trade.
That part of the Act is therefore ultra vires, and, though its provisions, if limited to trade and commerce between the States would be within the competency of the Commonwealth Parliament, it is impossible to separate that which is within from that which is without the power, and the whole is invalid.
Chief Justice Griffith, in his judgment, said -
Since, then, the Parliament has no power either to create new kinds of property, or new kinds of bodies politic, except as incidental to some expressed power, or to create new offences, except by way of sanction to a law already passed under some express power [Lyons v. Smart (1)) there is nothing left upon which Part
of the Act can validly operate except the mark of an individual worker.
In my judgment, this part of the Act is an attempt to regulate the internal trade of the States. It does not fall within and is not incidental to, any of the express powers conferred on the Parliament to regulate that trade and, except so far as those powers extend the power of the States is exclusive.
That judgment carries us thus far - that, to legislate as to’ a contract of sale, unless it is essential to the granting of a patent or connected with the ownership of a patent, is just as much an interference with the international trade of a State as the Union Label was held to be by the High Court. I come to another case which also has a bearing on the trade and commerce section of the Constitution. It may be held that while we have not the power to attach to a trade mark certain industrial conditions, we have power under the trade and commerce section to attach- certain conditions to patents. In the Huddart, Parker case, as reported in the Argus on 8th June, Chief Justice Griffith said -
It is common ground that sections $ and 8 (Australian Industries Preservation Act) as framed, extend to matters relating to domestic trade within a State, and the question is whether the power to make laws with respect to foreign corporations and trading and financial corporations formed within a State extends to’ governance and control of such corporations when lawfully engaged in domestic trade within the State. If it does, no limit can be assigned to the exercise of the power. ……..
Dealing with the limitation of trade and commerce powers to “ trade and commerce with other countries or among the States,” he pointed out this power is not unlimited, and said -
It is a corollary that if there is to be an exception from the reservation the extent of that exception must be equally clearly and unequivocably expressed.
My application of that ruling to the patent law is this - that if we have any other power than to set out a condition under which a patent shall be granted - if we have power to regulate contracts of sale in regard to patents - that power, according to Chief Justice Griffith, would! require to be unequivocably set forth. He went on to say -
The contracts and combinations mentioned are governed by State law, and, therefore, lawful or unlawful according to that law. In my judgment, the words of sub-section (20) of 51 of the Constitution are not clear or unequivocal, but are open to two constructions, and I think they ought not to be construed as authorizing the Commonwealth to invade the field of State law as to domestic trade, the carrying on of which is within the capacity of trading and financial corporations formed under the laws of the State.
Mr. Justice O’Connor also said
Contracts made in the course of trade and commerce so confined (i.e., to within a State) were part of the subject-matter left by the Constitution exclusively in the hands of the State.
There is another case under the patent law which is important. In the Commonwealth Law Reports, vol. 7, a case is reported of which the following is the summary given in the index.
– Is this the phonograph case?
Patent. - Infringement - Use and vending of patented invention - Conditions attached to patented articles on sale - Whether conditions binding apart from contract - Parties to contract - Breach of contract - Patents Act igo3 (No. 21 of 1903), Sections 4, 62, 65, First Schedule. A patentee is not, by the operation of his patent and apart from contracts, entitled to impose conditions upon the use or sale of his patented articles. So held by the Court, Isaacs, J., dissenting. Decisions and dicta to the contrary in Incandescent Gas Light Co. v. Cantelo, 12 R.P.C. 262; Incandescent Cas Light Co. v. Brogden, 16 R.P.C, 179; British Mutoscope and Biograph Co. Ltd. v. Homer (1901), 1 Ch., 671 ; McGruther v. Pitcher (1904), 2 Ch., 306; and Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik v. Isler (1906), 1 Ch., 605, dissented from. The plaintiffs, who were the manufacturers of their patented articles, sold_ them wholesale to “jobbers “ upon the terms of an agreement which provided that jobbers should only sell the plaintiffs’ articles to “dealers” who had signed- a “retail dealers’ agreement” in a form provided by the plaintiffs. Both the jobbers’ agreement and the retailers’ agreement provided that the plaintiffs’ articles should not be sold on better terms than those authorized by the plaintiffs. The jobbers’ agreement provided that all dealers must sign the retail dealers’ agreement which was to be forwarded immediately to the plaintiffs. By the dealers’ agreement the dealer covenanted and agreed that in consideration of the sale to him at current retail dealers’ net prices or discounts of the plaintiffs’ patented articles by the jobber or by the plaintiffs, he (the dealer) would comply with the attached conditions, and, in the f event of his name being removed from the dealers’ list, would in no way handle, sell, or deal in, or use the plaintiffs’ patented articles. One clause of the conditions which formed part of the dealers’ agreement provided that dealers violating any of certain other conditions might be at once removed from the dealers’ list. Held, that the retail dealers’ agreement was as between the plaintiffs and the dealer a valid contract. Held by Griffith, C.J., Barton, O’Connor, and Isaacs, J.J., that the plaintiff could not remove the dealer’s name from the dealers’ list except for a violation of the conditions. Held, further (Isaacs and Higgins, J-J-, dissenting), that on the evidence the defendant had not committed a breach of the conditions, that his name was improperly removed from the dealer’s’ list, and, therefore, that he was not liable for a subsequent breach of the agree ment not to deal in the plantiffs’ articles, National Phonograph Co. of Australasia Ltd. v. Menck.
– Does that imply that a contract might be made?
– Yes, but apart from the fact that it is a. patented article. I continue the quotation -
So held by the Court, Isaacs, J., dissenting. . . . The plaintiffs, who were manufacturers of their patented articles, sold them wholesale to “jobbers” upon the terms of an agreement which provided that jobbers could only sell the plaintiffs’ articles to “ dealers “ who had signed a “ retail dealer’s agreement “ in a form provided by the plaintiffs. Both the jobbers’ agreement and the retailers’ agreement provided that the plaintiffs’ articles should not be sold on better terms than those authorized by the plaintiffs. The jobbers’ agreement provided that all dealers must sign the retail dealers’ agreement, which was to be forwarded immediately to the plaintiff. By the dealers’ agreement the dealer covenanted and agreed that in consideration of the sale to him at current retail dealers net prices for discounts of the plaintiffs’ patented article by the jobber or by the plaintiff he (the dealer) would comply with the attached conditions, and in the event of his name being removed from the dealers’ list would in no way handle sell or deal in or use the plaintiffs’ patented article. One clause of the conditions which form part of the dealers’ agreement provided that dealers violating any nf certain other conditions might be at once removed from the dealers’ list.
The conditions of the agreement are roughly set out in the paragraph which I have read, but I shall quote this particular condition -
This record is sold by the National Phonograph Coy. upon condition that it shall not be sold to any unauthorized dealer or used for duplication, and that it shall not be so’.d or offered for sale by the original or any subsequent purchaser (except by an authorized jobber to an authorized retail dealer) for less than is. gd. a piece.
That is a condition approximating to the condition attached to the sale of boot manufacturing machinery to which Senator Best referred. At page 514 it will be found that Chief Justice Griffith quoted this judgment by an English Judge under the English patent laws -
If so (i.e., if there is no defect in the sale) the sale of a patented article carries with it the right to use it in any way that the purchaser chooses to use it unless he knows of restrictions. Of course if he knows of restrictions, and they are brought to his mind at the time of the sale, he is bound by them. He is bound by them in this principle : the patentee has the sole right of using and selling the articles, and then he may prevent anybody from dealing in them at all. Inasmuch as he has the right to prevent people from using them, or dealing in them at all, he has the right to do the lesser thing; that is to say, to- impose his. own conditions. It does, not matter how unreasonable or how absurd the conditions are. It does not matter what they are if he says at the time when the purchaser proposes to buy, or the person to take a licence : “ Mind, I only give youthis licence on this condition.” And the purchaser is free to take it or leave it as he likes. If he takes it he must be bound by the condition.
And this is a pregnant sentence -
It seems to be common sense, and not to depend on any patent law, or any other particular law.
– Surely we can attach what conditions we please in granting a patent.
– I quite agree that we can attach such conditions as we believe necessary to the granting and holding of a patent. But what I am asking is whether in granting a patent we can impose conditions which shall attach to’ the sale or to the use of the patented article after it is sold, or to the use of other articles used in connexion with the patented article. I find this at page 515 -
On this point Kennedy, ]., said (2) i: Mr. Terrell has satisfied me that a patentee has a right not merely by sale without reserve to give an unlimited right to the purchaser to use and thereby to” make in effect a grant from which he cannot derogate, but may attach to it conditions, and if those conditions are broken then there is no licence, because the- licence is bound up with the observance of the conditions. I think that the defendant buying an article subject to those conditions the conditions formed a part of his right to deal with it at all.”
This is the comment of Chief Justice Griffith on that -
The point that the common law does not admit restriction upon the right of the owner of chattels to dispose of them as he thinks fit does not seem to have been presented to the mind of the learned Judge.
The learned Chief Justice went on to quote other cases - ‘
In Badische, Anilin und Soda Fabrik v. Isler (1 Buckley, J.) (now Buckley, L.J.) said- “ If a patentee sells the patented article to a purchaser and the purchaser uses it. he of course does not infringe. But why? By reason of the fact that the law implies from the sale a licence given by the patentee to the purchaser to use that which he has bought. In the absence of condition this implied licence is a licence to use or sell or deal with the goods as the purchaser pleases. Thomas v. Hunt (2) ; Betts v. Willmot!; (3) if the patentee sells, imposing no restriction or condition upon his purchaser at the time of sale he cannot impose a condition subsequently, by delivery of the goods with a condition indorsed upon them, or upon the package in which they are contained. Unless the purchaser knows of the condition at the time of the purchase and buys subject to the condition, he has the benefit of an implied licence to use free from condition.
Chief Justice Griffith; commenting on these cases, said -
If the plaintiffs’ contention is sound, the effect would be that a patentee of a valuable improvement in an article communis juris would practically be enabled to obtain a monopoly of the. sale of that article by attaching to his patents a condition that it should only be used with that article when sold by him.
For the reasons already given, I am of opinion that this branch of the plaintiffs’ claim cannot be supported..
If the right to impose conditions is “given, not under a patent law but under a law affecting sales, the matter -is one reserved for the States, except in so far as there might be Inter-State sales affected by the trade and commerce power of the Commonwealth.
– Might not a restricted agreement in connexion with the sale of a patented article be considered in restraint of trade?
– I say that it is, but if it is a breach, not of the patent law, but of a law controlling sales, the matter is one which is dealt with by the State authority.
– Does the honorable senator make any distinction between the right to attach such conditions to’ patents already granted and the right to attach them to patents to be granted in the future ?
– I think that if .the objection is sound it would hold good in either case.
– Can we not impose conditions as to the granting of patents?
– We can, but what I am asking the Minister to consider is whether we can impose a condition which will give us the power to deal with the regulation of sale contracts within a State.
– Are we going to say that a patentee cannot sell his patented article under any conditions he pleases?
– The question is, can we say to the owner of a patent, “ You shall not attach to the sale of your patented machine a condition that it shall riot be used in the same factory with a similar machine manufactured by some one else, or that a portion of a machine manufactured by some one else shall not be attached to a portion of your patented machine”?
– Suppose a patentee says, “ I shall not sell you. my linotype machine if you use a monoline machine”?
– Can we, in granting a patent to the manufacturer of the linotype machine, say that he shall riot impose such a condition?
– I do not know. I think that the honorable senator is very properly raising the point.
– This statement by Mr. Justice O’Connor is, I think, very much to the point. It will be found at page 53o-
The patentees’ right to sell the product of his invention is not given him by the patent law, for it is at common law the right of every man to dispose of his own property.
If the right to sell his product is a right given at common law, can we, under a patent law, say to a patentee, “You shall not in your contract of sale attach certain conditions’ ‘ ?
– The honorable senator forgets one element. While it is the common law that enables him to sell, the development has been that the patentee prevents any one else from selling, and by that means secures a monopoly.
– That is so; and I quite admit the hardship. I desire that we should have the’ power under this Bill to prohibit unfair conditions of sale. But I want to be sure that we have it ; and, in view of the judgments of the High Court which I have quoted, I think that there is some doubt about it. Mr. Justice O’Connor, in summing up the case, said -
In my opinion, therefore, according to the proper interpretation of the Patents Act 1903, there is no ground upon which the plaintiffs can rest the very extensive powers of controlling the sale and use of the product of their invention in the hands of the public which they have attempted to assert in this case. I agree that on the whole case judgment should be entered for the defendants.
The significance of that is that the patentee, or his agent in this particular case, tried to impose a penalty upon people who did not sign the agreement. The prosecution said that, although there was no agreement signed, that was the condition under which a sale was made to the middleman. The retailer disregarded the conditions, and they therefore struck the middleman off their list, because he sold to a man who did not regard the conditions. Mr. Justice O’Connor said that, according to the interpretation of the Patents Act, he could not give them a verdict, because there was nothing in the Act to protect them in imposing conditions.
– Does that not seem to imply that, in the opinion of Mr. Justice O’Connor, such provisions might have been included in the Patents Act if Parliament thought fit?
– I do not see ‘that. My object in referring to the matter is that I think these contracts of sale, if violations of the law, are violations, not of the patent law, but of laws governing contracts of sale. It is merely incidental that it is a patented article that is sold. The fact that it is a patented article gives the patentee a monopoly, and it is that which gives him control over the seller; but I am not sure that, merely because it is desirable, or even necessary, to interfere in these contracts of sale, we can stretch our constitutional powers so far as to say that we shall regulate, not only the conditions under which a patent is obtained, the term of the patent, and other conditions governing the holding and protection of it, but also the conditions of contracts of sale.
– A patent was originally a Crown grant, and the Crown can limit its grant.
– A patent is a Crown grant still. I told the Minister that I intended to raise this point, and I think I am justified in doing so. I raise it in no hostile sense, because I should like to see the power asked for given under this Bill. It is, however, most important that we should be very sure about our power to do what is proposed before we pass the Bill.
– - The point raised by Senator Pearce is worthy of the serious consideration of the Minister in charge of the Bill. I do not share the honorable senator’s fear that its provisions, if passed, would be found to be unconstitutional’. Probably we shall have further information on the point from the Minister. I should like to say that, inasmuch as our control of patents and inventions is given to us directly and explicitly by the Constitution, the moment we begin to legislate on the subject our legislation is absolutely exclusive, and, if so, we have summary powers in the matter, subject only to the possibility of coming into conflict with International treaties made by the Imperial Government. With that limitation, I think that our power in this matter is absolutely supreme.
– That is provided for here.
– I think that is the only possible limitation which can be placed upon our powers. Surely, then, we have power under the Constitution to impose what conditions we may think fit in regard to the use of patents in Australia. The matter is clearly put by Story, in a foot-note to section 1155, which is contained in Vol. 2, page 85. He says -
The power ‘of Congress to legislate on the subject of patents is plenary.
That means that in the matter of the issue of patents Congress may impose any conditions that it chooses. As our Constitution is similar to that of the United States, it follows that we possess like powers.
– If we impose certain conditions in regard to the granting of patents, can we follow the patented article through the ramifications of trade and compel the observance of those conditions by persons who are not directly interested in the patent?
– I think so. If Congress has plenary powers to legislate upon the subject of patents, it follows that our powers are plenary. Consequently we can attach to any patent which we may grant any conditions that we may choose in regard to its use or the restriction of its use.
– I am afraid that I have not a very large measure of affection to lavish upon this Bill. It appears to me that its whole tendency is to lessen the protection that has been given to patentees, and, therefore, to some extent - perhaps to a considerable extent - to discourage invention. I do think that in a young country like Australia we ought to be anxious to do all that we possibly can to encourage our inventors. I believe that the United States, by reason of a very liberal patent law, have gained immense pecuniary advantages as a result of the industry and success of their inventors. Prior to the accomplishment of Federation, I strongly held the view that the Colonies ought to be united in the matter of obtaining a uniform patent law. Indeed, T believe that there should be one law in this connexion throughout the Empire! I hold in my hand a copy of the report of the Colonial Conference which met in 1902, and upon the business-paper submitted to that gathering 1 find a subject which was placed there at the instance of the Commonwealth, and which is headed, “ Mutual protection of Patents,” The report mentions that -
The conference also discussed the subject of the mutual protection of patents and the purchase of ocean cables which had been suggested by the Government of the Commonwealth. In regard to the first of these subjects the accompanying memorandum prepared by the Comptroller of the Patent Office had been circulated to the members, and while it was felt that it was of too technical a nature for effective discussion of the conference, there was a general feeling that it was desirable that the recognition throughout the Empire of a patent granted in one part of it should be facilitated, and that an inquiry should be instituted as to how this could be effected, and the following resolution was passed : - “ That it would tend to the encouragement of inventions if some system for the mutual protection of patents in the various parts of the Empire could be devised. That the Secretary of State be asked to enter into communcation with the several Governments in the first instance, and invite their suggestions to this end.”
Nothing further has been done, except that at the Conference of 1907, the Commonwealth again suggested that it was desirable in the interests of inventors and the public that patents granted in Great Britain or in any Colony possessing a Patent Office of a standard to be specified, should be valid throughout the Empire. After some discussion, the following resolution was carried -
That it is desirable that His Majesty’s Government, . after full consultation with the Colonies, should endeavour to provide such uniformity as may be practicable.
I am bound to admit that the discussion on this subject, which has since taken place, and the sympathy of the Home Government in the matter, have not helped very much to achieve the object in view. The more the question has been discussed the clearer have become the obstacles in the way of the adoption of an Empire patent. But I am inclined to believe that those difficulties will ultimately be overcome. It is in the interests of Australia that this phase of the subject should be borne in mind, and that we should do all that we can to expedite the time when a single patent taken out in any part of the British Empire will cover the whole of that Empire. It seems rather idle for me to continue talking to an empty chamber, and I, therefore, call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.] There is one matter connected with this Bill to which I particular! v desire to draw attention. I refer to the clause in it which relates to the nullifying of patents, if the manufacture does not take place in Australia within a prescribed time. The Minister of Trade and Customs informed us that this Bill was intended to bring our legislation into line with that of the United Kingdom. But I venture to say that in a matter of this kind the United Kingdom, which is practically the oldest and greatest manufacturing country in the world, occupies a very different position from that of Australia.
Possibly the Minister may not be aware that even now an arrangement is being made between the United States and Germany by which they shall recognise each other’s patents, apart from the question of working. I should like honorable senators to bear with me for a few minutes, while I give a little information on that point. In a communication from- Washington, dated nth June last, a patent attorney in Washington writes as follows : -
In compliance with the request contained in your letter of 4th May, for information relative to arrangements entered into between the United States and Germany in regard to the working of patents in such countries, I am sending you herewith a copy of the treaty which has been negotiated and which has received the approval of both the German Reichstag and the United States Senate. It awaits formal ratification by the exchange of copies by diplomatic officials and the proclamation, of the President, before it will become effective.
I understand that efforts are being made to negotiate such treaties with all countries whose Patent Laws contain requirements as to manufacture. It is to be regretted that Great Britain rejected all such proposals, and it is not impossible that some retaliatory legislation will be .adopted here in the near future. In fact, numerous Bills have been introduced into Congress, and it has only been by the determined efforts that at least one of these Bills has not become a law. The whole difficulty appears to have been stirred up by the recently-enacted British law.
The following is the text of the treaty which was signed at Washington on the 23rd February last, submitted to the Senate on 24th February, and ratified by that House on the 15th April: -
Article I. The provisions of the laws applicable now existing or hereafter to be enacted of either of the contracting parties, under which the non-working of the patent, working pattern design or model carries the invalidation or some other restriction of the right, shall only be applied to the patents, working patterns, designs or models enjoyed by the citizens of the other contracting party within the limits of the restrictions imposed by the said party upon its own citizens. The working of a patent, working pattern, design or model in the territory of one of the contracting parties shall be considered as equivalent to its working in the territory of the other party.
Article II. This agreement shall take effect from the date of its promulgation and remain in force until the expiration of twelve months following the notice of termination given by One of the contracting parties.
Article III. The present agreement shall be ratified and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington as soon as possible.
The agreement is very brief, but most decidedly it deals with a very important matter. With reference to the treaty, the following information is supplied by the correspondent at Washington : -
Telegraphic advices received during the first half of May indicated that the ratification had been recommended by the German Bundesrath, and that ratification by the Reichstag was confidently awaited. The measure will have the effect in the United States only after proclamation by the President, which will undoubtedly follow immediately upon ratification by the German Reichstag.
I desire now to direct the attention of honorable senators to the position of outlying portions of the Empire, as compared with Great Britain. I find that every one of the following British countries has its own patent law : - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Transvaal, Cape Colony, Natal, Orange River, Rhodesia, Newfoundland, India, Ceylon, Straits Settlements, Hong Kong, British Guiana, British Bechuanaland, Malta, St. Helena, Bahamas, British North Borneo, British Honduras, Barbadoes, Jamaica,. Leeward Islands, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, British East Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Channel Islands, Gibraltar, North Gold Coast, and Mauritius. In addition to these, there are about half a-dozen separate patent laws for the protectorates in the Malay States.
– Can the honorable senator state the differences in the patent laws of those countries?
– I do not see the point of the interjection.
– We want to know if those countries have a law similar to that which is proposed here.
–If the principle that a patent shall not be valid in a country unless the article protected is manufactured therein is enacted in forty different sections of the British Empire - some being big, others small, and others minute - then protection by. patents will become of very little value to inventors. I should like honorable senators to consider whether the position of patentees is likely to be strengthened by such provisions as are now proposed in this Bill. I have in my mind the case of a small machine which was invented by an Australian a little time ago. He looked all sound Sydney for a manufactory capable of producing the machine, but he could not get the work done, and he had to- send an order to the Old Country. If the invention is a success, it will have more or less a sale in a certain number of countries throughout the world. But
I am quite certain that there are some countries in which it will not pay the inventor to establish a manufactory.
– If he can prove that he will not be compelled to do so.
– I. know that; but he would lose his patent.
– No, he need not. The Commissioner can let him get the article made elsewhere.
– That is a power which may mitigate to some extent the danger. But the Commissioner will be the final judge in these matters, and that in itself is a danger.
– The inventor is given the right of appeal to the High Court.
– The honorable* senator must not forget that ais a rule the men who take up subjects of invention and patents have not much money; they are not able to go to the High Court and indulge in that sort of luxury.
– We do not want them to go to the High Court.
– I daresay the honorable gentleman does riot. He is prepared to sit on all these gentlemen, to get as much money out of them in the way of fees, and then to. destroy the privileges which have Been granted to them. But I am not built in that way.
– I do not want them to go to the High Court.
– I believe it is advantageous to a country to give all possible encouragement to inventors.
– And to charge low fees.
– On many occasions I have instanced the low fees which are current in the United States. By means of its low fees and the simplicity of its patent law that” country encouraged inventors until the time arrived when it stood head and shoulders above the rest of the world for its new . inventions. I believe that the inventiveness of Americans, encouraged and brought about by their patent law, has had no little to do with giving the United States the important position which it occupies to-day in the manufacturing world. I urge the Senate to watch with very great keenness any proposals which are calculated to break down the encouragement and the protection which we have been accustomed to give to inventors.
Senatory Turley. - Does not the patent law of the United States compel the local manufacture of the article?
– Outside Australia” it is the only country that does not.
-Honorable senators must not forget the difference between obtaining a patent in Great Britain with its 45,000,000 people, and obtaining a patent in a community with only 4,000.000 people. If we adopt this legislation today it will be adopted by New Zealand tomorrow and by Fiji the day afterwards. And then, because a patented article is not manufactured in Fiji, the patent will be dead there and the article can be introduced from Germany or other countries in defiance of the patent, which by reason of the article not being produced locally, has become nui! and void. I suggest to honorable senators whether by such legislation they are not likely to do harm instead of good to ourselves. The position of the United States is unique; it is distinct altogether from the position of a young country such as ours. I think it is desirable for us to go very slowly in this matter - at least for some years to come - ‘Until we have grown and are able to take care of ourselves a little better than we can do to-day. I again draw attention to the fact that the United States and Germany are making arrangements for the recognition of each other’s patents. I have no doubt that the United States will invite Australia to agree that the manufacture of a patented article in this country should cover Australia and vice versa. I should prefer to have a mutual arrangement than assent to .these proposals, which are of a harsh and arbitrary character.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Debate resumed from 22nd July (vide page 1520) on motion by Senator Walker -
That the Standing Orders Committee be requested to submit a Standing Order for the limitation of the time of speaking.
– I have very little to add to what I said on this subject when it was last under consideration. I consider that it is hardly wise to place restrictions upon honorable senators unless there be some reason for so doing. So far our experience m the Senate has not shown a necessity for restricting freedom, of speech. It will be generally conceded that obstructive tactics have not been indulged in here. The Senate has attended strictly to the despatch of business. There has been no undue discussion on any occasion. Is it wise, then, to provide for. a set of circumstances which, so far, have not arisen, and which, from the circumstances of the Senate, are not likely to arise? There are only thirtysix members in this Chamber, and their talking ability is a strictly limited quantity.
– I admit that Senator Pulsford holds the record in the Senate for length of speech. Naturally, he wishes to limit every other honorable senator, so that there may be no possible chance of his record being broken. I also remember that Senator Dobson began a speech in one year and concluded it twelve months afterwards. These are exceptional cases;’ and seeing that the thirty-six senators are not always present together, and that there has been no organized obstruction to any measure, there is no need to frame a standing order limiting the length of speeches. The question further arises whether we have any right to limit the opportunities of the people to be heard on matters affecting them and the government of the country. When we speak here, it is the people whom we represent who speak through us. Any restriction placed upon our rights is a restriction upon the right of the people to be heard. Therefore, I hope that the motion will not be carried.
– Last year I» brought forward a motion similar to that now submitted by Senator Walker. The main difference between his proposal and mine is that I fixed a time, whereas he merely suggests a reference to the Standing Orders Committee. I came to the conclusion, after a great deal of consideration, that it was desirable, in the interest of good government, and the effective conduct of parliamentary business, that there should be a time limit on speeches. I did this, principally, with the object of securing to every senator an opportunity to speak if he so desired. It must be evident that if a few senators take up a great deal of time, others have no opportunity to speak. On one occasion we had Senator Pulsford monopolizing time for two days. On another occasion we had Senator Millen taking up five or six hours.
– I have admitted my iniquity, and I do not think that the honorable senator should “ rub it in.”
– We have, under our Standing Orders, an implement colloquially called the gag. My object is to abolish the gag. I agree with Senator Givens that to prevent senators from speaking here is to deprive their constituents of the right of being heard in the Parliament of the people. Each of us comes here as a representative of the people. I represent the people of Queensland, and they would resent it if I were not permitted to express their views upon every and any question, which comes before the Senate.
– Yet the honorable senator at one time proposed a similar motion.
– I have said so. Every senator comes here as the representative of his electors. I suppose that the honorable senator, who has just interjected, has a large number of supporters in Queensland. If he had not, he would not be here. When those people take up Hansard, they do not look to see what I have said. They want to know what Senator Chataway has said. They look for his speeches, and if they do not find them, come to the conclusion that Senator Chataway is a duffer, who is not attending to his work, and whose voice is never heard in the halls of Parliament. They think that they are not getting a fair run for their money. Those who -sent me here do not look for Senator Chataway’s speeches ; they look for mine, and if no remarks of mine are reported they come to a similar conclusion about me.
– They know that the Senate is not sitting if they do not find any of the honorable senator’s speeches in Hansard.
– I am not so sure about that. At all events, every member of Parliament is entitled under the Constitution to be heard. If he is entitled to be heard, have we any right to limit the length of his speeches. I think we have, and for this reason ; Parliament cannot sit continuously, and if we had a number of longwinded gentlemen here, like the honorable senator to whom I have referred, we could never arrive at a decision about anything, and before a debate had come to an end we should probably have forgotten what the subject-matter of it was. It is eminently desirable that there should be a time limit to speeches. My opinion is that the average man can say all that it is necessary to say on any subject in the course of an hour. I think that in the proposal I made I suggested that Ministers, in moving the second readings of Bills, should be permitted to occupy two hours, and that other speakers should be limited to one hour.
– My attention has been called to the fact that Senator Stewart has already spoken on this motion. When I called on the honorable senator, I did not recollect that. I have since looked up my notes, and I find that the honorable senator spoke to this motion on the 22nd July.
– Then I must apologize, sir. I did not remember that I had spoken.
– I hope that this motion is not submitted seriously by Senator Walker. It is an ill-considered motion. Itwould not only limit, as Senator Stewart has pointed out, the representation of his constituents by a member of the Senate, but it misses entirely the object for which Parliaments were created.
– The motion proposes only that the matter should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– That is so, but if it is carried, the Standing Orders Committee will be justified in believing that the proposal is seriously made. I do not think that we should allow the motion to pass beyond the business-paper in the form in which it now appears. I have no desire to talk for eight or ten hours at a time, and I do not care to listen to any man for more than an hour unless his speech is particularly interesting.
-Is the honorable senator not making out a good case for a time limit ?
– No ; I have listened in this Chamber to speeches which occupied five or six hours in their delivery, and I believe that the matters dealt with in those speeches could not have been properly handled in less time.
– Would not the Senate in special cases grant permission to honorable senators to exceed the time limit?
– Why should the Senate have power to do anything of the kind, or to do anything but recognise that every senator comes here as the representative of electors. His election to the Senate is an honorable senator’s authority for saying all that he thinks it necessary to say, so long as he keeps within the Standing Orders. Senator Walker’s proposal misses entirely the pur posefor which Parliaments were created. It is an historical fact, whatever may be said to the contrary, that Parliament waa created to talk. That is the reason Parliament was established, and it is the only reason why it has continued to exist. It was created as a sort of talking machine, for the purpose of voicing the opinions of people in different parts of the country inorder that their views might be embodied in a concrete instrument, which we call art Act of Parliament. Parliaments, as institutions, were created for the express purpose of talking.
– They are fulfilling their purpose well.
– That is exactly what they are doing. It would be entirely wrong to limit the right of any member of the Senate to speak for as long as he pleases. If honorable senators do not care to listen to a speech they can leave the chamber.
– Have we not had experience of a time limit to speeches only to-day, when on the motion submitted by Senator Stewart, that honorable senator could speak only for a certain time, while other honorable senators had to complete what they wished to say in less time.
– We have a time limit in force, but its application is also verv much limited. If we began a debate, for instance, on the Budget, an honorable senator might wish to discuss the Estimates for every one of the Public Departments. In the circumstances, we could not reasonably expect him to say all that he desired to say on the Budget in an hour, or in an hour and a half. I should like to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council finish all that he desired to say. on the Estimates in the course of an hour. It is possible that the honorable gentleman may do so on this occasion, but that will not be because he will have said ail that he might say. I am sure that if the honorable senator were sitting in Opposition, he would take more than two hours to discuss the Estimates which will shortly be before the Senate. I have listened even to Senator Dobson speaking for more than an hour at a time. He has some pet theories, which he is unable to discuss, as he thinks they ought to be discussed, in the course of an hour. If an important banking question came before the Senate I shouid not be surprised to find Senator Walker occupying more than an hour in discussing it.
– I have never spoken for an hour at a time yet.
– Then the reason is that we have had no question hefore us of sufficient importance financially to tempt the honorable senator to so indulge himself. If such a question should come up for discussion, it would be a calamity to have the President rising in the middle of a beautiful financial address from the honorable senator, and saying, “ Order, order, the honorable senator’s time is up.”
– What would happen if the subject under discussion were Socialism and anti- Social ism?
- Senator Walker would not take long to discuss Socialism, but he might occupy a little time in discussing anti-Socialism. I hope that honorable senators will let Senator Walker know that the time has not arrived when we ceem it necessary to prevent a member of the Senate from saying what he thinks he ought to saY in the interests of his constituents.
.- It ill becomes a supporter of the Government to submit a motion of this kind, and especially when he claims to belong to the anti-Socialist section of the community, and believes that every one should have unrestricted liberty to do as he pleases. The honorable senator has made the admission that he has never occupied the attention of the Senate for more than , sixty minutes at one time, and he desires that no other member of the Senate - except by leave of the House, and to ask that would be humiliating - should have the light, no matter how important the subject on which he desires to speak, to occupy a longer time.
– I do not say that.
– We may assume that, in Senator Walker’s opinion, too much time is occupied in the discussion of the various matters brought before the Senate. I have been a member of the Senate for some time, and I have never had to listen to what I considered unnecessarily long speeches. I have in mind a lengthy speech delivered by Senator Millen on a very important question, in which I was very much interested. The Senate was asked to approve of a Bill, submitted by Senator Pearce, to enable a referendum to be taken on the nationalization of monopolies in Australia. Senator Millen occupied the whole of one afternoon in discussing that measure. He had not, in that time, a sufficient opportunity to do justice to the subject, from his point of view, and he con tinued his speech for about four hours longer, when the Bill came on again for consideration.
– It was one of the best speeches, ever made by the honorable senator.
– It was an excellent speech from Senator Millen’s point of view. The subject on which the honorable senator spoke is only one of the many important subjects which are discussed in this chamber. In the first place, Senator Walker’s motion is ambiguous. It is a bald declaration, but if carried it will be regarded as an instruction to the Standing Orders Committee to take a certain course. The Committee will assume that, in the opinion of the Senate, there should be a time limit to speeches.
-That is the only way in which the motion could be interpreted.
– For that reason, I hope that honorable senators will not pass the motion, and ‘ so fetter themselves. Doubtless, the Government feel that from their point of view-
– The Government are opposing the motion.
– I was not aware of that. Then, as there is no chance of the proposal being carried, I shall not occupy the time of the Senate any further.
.- I have expressed the opinion more than once that unless we adopt stricter Standing Orders and impose a time-limit upon the speeches of honorable senators, the parliamentary machine runs grave risk of breaking down. We know what the closure means in the House of Commons, and even in another place they also have what my honorable friends opposite are pleased to call “ the gag.” Senator Henderson has declared that we are sent here to talk. I think he would have better expressed the functions of Parliament if he had said that we were sent here to make laws. Anybody who can see beyond his nose must recognise that in the past we have had too much talking and too little thinking. Senator Henderson reminds me of a little story of a lady and her father confessor. To adapt that story to present circumstances let us imagine that it was not a lady who figured in it, but a Mr. Henderson. One day Mr. Henderson committed so great a fault that he immediately sent a communication to his father confessor, asking him to meet him in the cathedral in order that he might confess his sin. But when the two met in the cathedral the father confessor could scarcely get a word out of the penitent. At last, between his sobs and sighs and groans, Mr. Henderson made it known that when he got up that morning he really thought that he was an eloquent speaker. “ Is there nothing else?” inquired the father confessor? “No, that is bad enough,” answered Mr. Henderson. Then “the father confessor said, “Go in peace, brother, it is no sin to make a mistake.”
– Where does the laugh come in?
– It seems to me that our parliamentary institutions are breaking down. Only this afternoon my honorable friends opposite complained because the Government had not brought forward their scheme for giving effect to the new Protection. But the fact is that they have no time to do anything. Why? Simply because honorable senators are talking incessantly, hurling accusations against their fellow members, and absorbing the time which might otherwise be occupied in wise legislation. I am astonished at the prejudice which is entertained by honorable senators against what is familiarly known as the “ gag.” But have we not to put a “ Sag “ upon ourselves in our every-day conduct? Do my. honorable friends not understand what self-control means to human nature? If we were all able to talk as we chose, we should have simply chaos. Because there has been no timelimit imposed upon speeches there has been chaos in another place. Of course, I recognise that as’ the Government are opposing this motion there is no chance of it being carried. But so impressed am I with the necessity which exists for limiting our talk in the interests of wise legislation, that I have not hesitated to voice my views, notwithstanding that I am in a hopeless minority. Of course, the carrying of the motion would be tantamount to an instruction to the Standing Orders Committee to frame a standing order limiting the speeches of honorable senators, so that we should have more time for Committee work and for thinking. Does Senator Henderson imagine that the parliamentary machine can be made to work smoothly simply by means of talk? Does he not recognise that 95 per cent, of our time is at present occupied with talk, and only 5 per cent, with thinking? Surely it is time that the practice of talking so much was abandoned, even if some of us think that we are eloquent when we are not.
– Does the honorable senator include himself in that category ?
– It is a very great mistake to make interjections of a personal character.
– And the honorable senator never does it.
- I believe that my interjections are always relevant to the question before the Chair. Honorable senators do not hear me saying, “ You are the man .who said that a man should live on 4s. 6d. a day.” That is the kind of interjection which should be disallowed.
– What has the honorable senator’s remark to do with the subject under debate?
– Nothing. I am merely telling honorable senators the kind of interjections which are irregular. Relevant interjections are splendid things, but irrelevant interjections are a check upon the transaction of business. I hope that the day will come when we shall get rid of the use of the word “gag.” I have rot seen anything of the “ gag “ either here or in the Tasmanian Parliament.
– I hope that the honorable senator will never see it here.
- Senator Henderson apparently thinks that he was sent to this Parliament to do nothing but talk. I believe that if a referendum of the electors were taken upon Senator Walker’s motion a large majority would be found supporting it. If honorable senators imagine that the Hansard reports of their speeches, which they circulate in such large numbers, are read by 2 per cent, of the electors, they are very much mistaken.
– I point out that the honorable senator’s remarks have no bearing upon the question.
– In conclusion I must express my regret that the members of the Labour party suffer from so many delusions.
– I am very pleased with the tone of the debate, and with the kindly criticisms of those who differ from me upon this matter. Senator Henderson seems to have got hold of the old story that the word “ parliament “ is derived from two words - the French word parler signifying to speak, and mens meaning the mind - a place where a man may speak his mind. It seems to me that the proper way to prevent the use of the “gag” is to impose a time limit upon speeches. Senator Stewart’s remarks in this connexion were absolutely to the point. In the motion itself I expressly abstained from fixing a time limit, because I believe that the members who compose the Standing Orders Committee have sufficient experience to know what limit should be imposed.- In connexion with formal motions for adjournment a time limit is already imposed upon each speaker, so that the principle for which I am contending has been admitted. I have no desire to occupy the time of the Senate any further. But I should like to hear a public debate upon this question with Senator Stewart upon one side, and Senators Findley, Givens, and Henderson on the other. I think that the meeting would be in f avour of the views expressed by Senator Stewart.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In order to save the time of the Senate, I beg to move -
That permission be granted to resume consideration of the Commonwealth Companies Reserve Liabilities Bill 1908 at the stage it had reached at close of session1908.
It will be remembered that during last session this Bill reached the Committee stage, but was not taken any. further. It was spoken to by several honorable senators, and some of their objections were of such a character that I could not help seeing the force of them. I have drafted some amendments which, I hope, will meet their views. I have endeavoured to meet the various points towhich Senator Givens referred. I think that, from his point of view, he made a very good speech, although, of course, I did not agree with him at the moment. I saw a good deal of force in his speech when I came to read the report afterwards. Let me now explain the principal alterations I desire to be made in the Bill. In the first place, I have drafted a clause to take the place of clause 3. To begin with, it provides that a reserve fund shall not be established without a determination of the company arrived at in general meeting. The directors have not the power to act in that way without the consent of the general body. Then, at the end of each half-year or other period, the proceeds of new shares and forfeited shares may go to the new reserve fund, but 110 transfer shall be made to that fund from any other reserve fund. The point raised by Senator Givens was that under this Bill a bank might transfer the reserve fund to meet its reserve liability.
– I do not think that the honorable senator’s amendments will be adequate to meet that difficulty, either.
– I hope that they will.
– It will be a new Bill.
– Except as regards clause 3, and two or three other points, it will be very much the same as the Bill of last session. For instance, a trustee company may be a trustee for a reserve fund, but anything done by that means must be done with the full approval of the company, given in public meeting assembled. Trustees cannot be removed by directors. They must be removed by permission of the company. Again, with regard to investments, I have made the Bill more conservative, and with regard to the important matter of note circulation, nothing will be done to limit the liability on note circulation. Out of future profits, not past profits, it is intended to build up a reserve fund to meet what is called the reserve liability. The West Australian Bank is a bank with its shares fully paid up, but there is a reserve liabilityof £10 on each £10 share to meet any difficulties which may arise. This Bill would enable that bank, if it thought proper to come under its provisions, to appoint trustees, and to put aside so much out of its legitimate profit; and they would hold that fund to meet the reserve liability.
– Is not this rather a second-reading speech, than a speech for the restoration of the Bill to the noticepaper ?
– I only want to show the difference between the original Bill and the Billwith the amendments I have drafted. I have no desire to enlarge upon the subject. In these amendments I have endeavoured to meet the points which Senators Givens, Clemons, Stewart, Best, and Lynch thought required attention. I am willing to drop clauses 12 and 13. These provide for preference shares, but they are so complicated that I thought it better to make this a simple Bill applying to only companies with one class of shares. Other companies having more than one class of shares can, if need be, ask for an amending Bill. This Bill, if amended as I propose, will be absolutely simple. It will apply only to banks, institutions, and other companies having one class of snares, with a reserve liability on those shares, that reserve liability being built up out of future profits. I might add that if a bank put aside 2 per cent. per annum on its capital at 3 per cent. interest in Government stocks, in thirty years and two-fifths of a year it would provide the amount of the reserve liability; and that at 3½ per cent. interest that result would be accomplished in less than twenty-nine years. In the history of a bank that is not a long period. What a comfort it would be when a crisis came to know that the reserve liability was available. Both the creditors and the shareholders would feel comfortable, and an extension of the disasterwould be prevented.
– There is nothing to prevent the banks from doing that now.
– Yes, there is. and that is the trouble. No matter how large a bank’s reserve fund may be, that does not affect the reserve liability on its shares. In order to show how difficult it is to get a private Bill put through the Senate. I may mention that this measure was introduced on the 17 th September, 1908.
.- I think that Senator Walker would have met the requirements ofthe case very much better in the circumstances if he had re-drafted this Bill entirely, and reintroduced it in the ordinary way. It seems to me to be an extraordinary thing for the honorable senator to come along this vear and ask the Senate to reinstate the Bill at the stage which it had reached in the pre vious session, because he, like most honorable senators, is aware that its second reading was carried, not because a majority believed that it ought to be carried, but merely as an act of courtesy to its author, and in the belief that he would not proceed any further. It is extraordinary that when an honorable senator has been accorded that courtesy in one session he should try to take advantage of it in another session.
– That is not fair. The honorable senator is too hard upon Senator Walker.
– It is an absolute fact, and I challenge contradiction.
– The honorable senator promised to prepare amendments, and that is why we passed the second reading.
– No, it is not; and the honorable senator was one of those who voted for the second reading only as a matter of courtesy.
– Because Senator Walker promised to submit amendments.
– I do not intend to follow the example of Senator Walker, and make a second-reading speech on this motion, because I do not think that this is the proper time to do so. I contend that honorable senators ought to be afforded an opportunity of hearing that honorable senator explain the Bill in its entirety, but if this motion is assented to no honorable senator will have an opportunity of considering the Bill as a whole.
– Yes; they will have the Bill printed.
– No; if the motion is carried, we shall be confined to the particular clause or amendment before the Committee, and will not be allowed to discuss the whole Bill. It is absurd to ask us to agree to this motion, especially in view of the fact that it is practically a new Bill.
– There is only one new clause.
– We have not the Bill before us.
– I have a copy of the Bill, and if the honorable senator will do me the honor of listening for a whileI think I shall be able to show him that it is practically a new Bill which we areasked to pass.
– May I remind the honorable senator that it can only be made a new Bill in Committee?
– I did not say that it was made a new Bill. But with his amendments Senator Walker practically proposes to make a new Bill of it.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator there.
– I do not intend to traverse the arguments which were used last year, nor to indulge in a second-reading speech with regard to the merits or demerits of the Bill. I wish to show that the motion refers to what is practically a new Bill, which should be introduced de novo. I am indebted to the courtesy of Senator Walker for a copy of last year’s Bill. It consisted of thirteen clauses. He proposes to drop clauses 12 and 13, and to that extent the Bill of last year will be wiped out. According to the advance copy of the amendments which the honorable senator proposes to submit, he intends to make one amendment in clause 2, to leave out clause 3, which he will admit embodies the whole principle of the Bill, and to insert a new clause in lieu thereof. The amendment of clause2 and the replacement of clause 3 will practically make a new Bill.
– It is the old clause with a few amendments.
– If the question depended only, upon the replacement of clause 3, the Bill would be practically a new one. On clause 4 the honorable senator proposes to move no fewer than three amendments ; on clause 5, two amendments; on clause 7, three amendments; and on clause 11, two amendments. One clause is to be replaced, and the other clauses are to have from two to three amendments made in them. If the amendments are made, it will be practically a new Bill, embodying an altogether new principle. I claim for the Senate an opportunity to discuss the new Bill in its entirety, but if Senator Walker gets his way, then no honorable senator, except at a stage which is generally regarded as formal, will have an opportunity to point out the relation of the different clauses to each other, and to discuss the principle which permeates the Bill. I claim that every honorable senator should have the right to fully discuss an important financial Bill of this sort.
– The principle is not altered.
– If I thought that it would be in order, I could easily show that the principle of the Bill is proposed to be altered very considerably. I should be equally successful in showing that the principle of the Bill is inherently bad. But I doubt whether I should be in order in doing that at this stage. I do, however, claim for the Senate the right of discussing the principles and bearing of the Bill in its entirety. If Senator Walker has his way we shall be deprived of that right. The honorable senator would have got as far with the measure by this time if at the beginning of the session he had introduced a new Bill.
– This is a very dangerous proceeding.
– It is indeed. What is the course usually adopted by a Government when raclical changes are made in a Bill which they introduce? They adopt the very wise and seemly course of withdrawing the Bill and circulating a fresh one, which is put through all its stages anew. That has been the practice in all Parliaments. The safeguard thus taken is very necessary for the reason that it is not wise to pass legislation on important subjects after insufficient discussion. This matter is so important that I think there ought to be more senators present to listen to the debate. [Quorum formed.] The safeguards adopted by all Parliaments in affairs of this kind are to insure that nothing shall be done without the gravest and most complete investigation. But if Senator Walker has his way what is practically a new Bill will escape a second reading. In the case of chartered banks what is proposed is most dangerous. The charters which they received provided certain conditions, one of which was that the shareholders shall be liable. There was to be a reserve liability which could not be paid up. I am not sure whether I am in order in discussing these aspects of the question.
– We have had secondreading speeches on the Bill.
– But the motion for the second reading was carried, not because a majority of senators believed in the measure, but as a matter of courtesy to the honorable senator, and in the expectation that the Bill would not be further proceeded with.
– Is that not a grave reflection upon the votes of honorable senators?
– No; Senator Pulsford is quite well aware that a proposal introduced by a private senator is occasionally assented to as a matter of courtesy, when it is understood that nothing further will be done in reference to it.
– I have never given such a vote.
– I know that a number of honorable senators did vote in that way upon this Bill.
– There was a majority of ten.
– -The chartered banks have the obligation staring them in the face that they must manage their affairs wisely and well, and safeguard the interests of their clients; otherwise their reserve liability will be called upon. But Senator Walker by this Bill would allow the banks to take money out of the Dockets of their customers, and apply it to free their shareholders from their liability. I do not suppose that that is what lie means, but it is what the Bill means. The Bill does not merely apply to banks. It applies to every company no matter what its business may be. It applies even to trustee companies, and to companies which will come into existence in the future..
– It is merely permissive.
– I know that, but I would not consent to the second reading of a Bill which would make .burglary permissive.
– That would be better than compulsory burglary.
– Things can be accomplished under this Bill which are far worse than burglary. It is a most dangerous proposal. Possibly Senator Walker, in his innocence and good nature, does not intend it to be dangerous, but it is so nevertheless. Undoubtedly it should be approached with the greatest caution, and only passed, if passed at all, after the fullest investigation. But under the present motion we shall be deprived of the opportunity for discussion. If the Bill became law it would be possible for half-a-dozen people to put their heads together, form a bank, carry on business, and free themselves from liability out of their customers’ money. Senator Walker asks us to throw all ordinary precautions to the winds. I for one do not propose to do so. I will assist Senator Walker to the fullest possible extent in securing full and fair discussion, provided no obstacle is placed in the way of a consideration of the principle of the Bill. But by his present action he wishes to deprive every honorable senator of the right of investigation. It is dan gerous to tamper with the constitution of our banks. Moreover, I am strongly of opinion, that legislation so grave and important as this ought to be embodied in a general banking Bill, introduced by the Government and not bv a private senator - especially a senator who is so closely associated with banks as Senator Walker is. He may be said to be practically acting in the interests of the banks.
– He knows what he is talking about in this matter.
– I admit that the honorable senator knows what he is talking about, so far as the proposal affects the interests of bankers. But I doubt very much that he knows what he is talking about as it affects the interests of the general public. Senator Chataway’s opinion is a matter of indifference to me; but, in dealing with banking legislation, I hold that it is the duty of the Senate to consider it from the point of view of the welfare of the whole people, and not merely of banking institutions. I see in front of me honorable senators who, last session, told me plainly that they voted for the second reading of the Bill as a matter of courtesy to Senator Walker. I do not blame them for that.
– The honorable senator is repeating himself a great deal.
– If I am to follow the lead of Senator Walker, and discuss the principles involved in this Bill, and the amendments proposed-
– What I take exception to is that the honorable senator should repeat himself over and over again. I do not object to his replying to the remarks made by Senator Walker on the amendments he intends to propose in the Bill. I cannot say that the honorable senator is out of order in discussing the principle of the Bill, although I remind him that the Senate has already affirmed it by carrying the second reading of the measure, whether as a matter of courtesy or otherwise. I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that he is beginning to repeat himself, because I do not wish to have to take further action.
– I think that the best thing I can do is to follow on the lines I adopted last year, and on this motion discuss the proposed amendments ; and whether they should be considered iri Committee until a second-reading discussion has taken place upon them, As the Bill was introduced last year, Senator Walker proposed that it should deal only with incorporated banks. He is now proposing an amendment to insert after the word “ incorporated “ the word “registered.” If that amendment were adopted, the Bill would affect, not merely the few incorporated banks we have in Australia, but every registered banking company in the Commonwealth. The honorable senator interjected that many of the amendments he proposed were merely verbal ; I would ask him whether the amendment I have just mentioned is a verbal amendment?
– I think so.
– It is an amendment that would have a most far-reaching effect. It would immeasureably widen the scope of the original Bill ; and, if it is merely a verbal amendment, then I do not know what a verbal amendment is. As honorable senators have not a copy of the Bill before them, it is difficult to explain the nature of the amendment Senator Walker proposes. In the circumstances, it will be necessary for me to read clause 3 of the Bill, as originally introduced, and then clause 3, as Senator Walker desires it to be amended ; and then, to the best of my ability, I shall explain the difference between the two. Clause 3 of the Bill, as introduced, reads -
From and after the passing of this Act it shall be lawful for any joint stock company to form .a reserve fund for the purpose of protecting its shareholders against their liabilities in respect of the uncalled capital (if any) and the reserve liabilities (if any) on the shares held by them in such company, and to pay and to carry to the credit of such reserve fund, such a sum out of the net profits of the company in any half-year or any period as shall be determined by the company in general meeting, and also the premiums from the sale of new shares and the proceeds of sale of forfeited shares or any portion or portions thereof respectively, and such sums (if any) as represent the recovery of debts previously written off as bad.
Senator Walker proposes to strike out that clause and insert the following in its place : -
From and after the passing of this Act it shall be lawful for any joint stock company to form a reserve fund for the purpose of protecting its shareholders against their liability in respect of the uncalled capital (if any) and the reserve liability (if any) on the shares held by them in such company, and to pay ind to carry to the credit of such reserve fund according to the determination of the company in general meeting sums out of the net profits of the company made after the passing of this Act in any half-year or other period, and premiums from the sale after the passing of this Act of new shares and proceeds of sale of shares forfeited after the passing of this Act, and sums (if any) representing the recovery after the passing of this Act of debts previously written off as bad. No transfer shall be made to the said reserve fund from any other reserve fund.
I wish now to point out the difference between that clause and the clause which the honorable senator desires to strike out, and to show, as I think I can, that the new clause would be just as dangerous as the clause for which it is intended to be substituted, and which met with the disapproval of honorable senators. One of the most important changes the honorable senator proposes to make is that any sums to be placed to a trust fund for the elimination of reserve liability of shareholders, shall be according to the determination of the company in general meeting. I point out that, as a safeguard, that does not amount to much. Honorable senators are aware that very few of the shareholders of a banking company attend a general meeting. As a matter of fact, the directors at such meetings have ‘ sufficient proxies in their pockets to enable them to carry any resolution they please. The next important alteration the honorable senator proposes is that the sums which are to be set aside out of net profits, must be made after the passing of the Act. I do not wish to state the case unfairly; but, as a safeguard, that provision also amounts to nothing. In this connexion, it is important to remember what is the legal definition of “ net profits.”
– The Honorable senator is not entitled to enter upon a lengthy disquisition with regard to the proposed amendments, which can be more appropriately considered in Committee on the Bill.
– I think that I ought to be allowed to explain the danger of proceeding with this Bill in the way proposed.
– The honorable senator is at liberty to do so, in a few remarks ; but he is not entitled to discuss at length the amendments proposed to be made in the Bill.
– I am trying to follow what Senator Walker said in submitting his motion.
– Senator Walker did not discuss the amendments he proposed to submit. He said what he intended to do, in order to meet objections raised to the Bill. But he did not discuss the value of the amendments he proposed, as the honorable senator is now proceeding to do.
– I respectfully submit that if Senator Walker was given the opportunity to explain that his amendments would meet the objections raised to the
Bill, I have an equally good right to explain that the proposed amendments will not meet the objections to the Bill.
– I point out to the honorable senator that, while he has a right to refer in a general way to the proposed amendments, he cannot debate them as he might do in Committee. I have already reminded the honorable senator that the principle of the Bill was affirmed by the Senate in passing its second reading. Although Senator Walker suggested certain amendments which he proposed to submit in order to meet objections raised to the Bill, he did not at great length debate the value of those, amendments. The honorable senator is now debating, at considerable length, what he considers the want of value in the amendments. He is entitled in the Senate to allude to those proposals only in a general way, and not to debate them in detail, as he might do in Committee. I wishthe honorable senator to bear that in mind.
– I propose toshow that, although the principle of the Bill was formerly affirmed by the passing of the second reading last session, the Bill, as Senator Walker now intends to submit it, is an entirely new measure, and its principlehas not been debated. I think that, in the circumstances, Senator Walker should not be allowed to reinstate the Bill at the stage which it reached last session ; because, what he proposes to ask the Senate to consider is practically a new Bill. I am trying to show also, that the amendments will not, as Senator Walker has contended, meet the objections raised to the Bill submitted last year. I think we should have an opportunity to discuss, in an ampie way, the effect which the proposed new Bill would have on such important institutions as the banks of the country. I think also, that we should have a quorum to listen to my remarks on thesubject.
– There ought to be more of the honorable senator’s party here.
– I freely admit that. [Quorum formed.] As you, sir, have ruled that I am not entitled to discuss the dangers presented by this Bill, as I might have done had we been debating the motion for the second reading of the measure, I shall content myself with pointing out a few of the alterations proposed by Senator Walker, with a view to demonstrating that this Bill is not the measure which was introduced last session, but is practically a new Bill. In clause 4 Senator Walker proposes what he claimsto be a mere verbal amendment. He proposes to insert after the word “ fund “ the words “ who shall have been previously approved by the company in general meeting assembled.” That amendment relates to the appointment of trustees, and it is a misuse of words to say that it is merely a verbal amendment. As a matter of fact, its adoption would entirely change the method under which trustees would ibe elected. Last session I pointed out that these trustees should be appointed by the Government, so that they would be men who could not be “ got at “ in the hour of difficulty, either by the directors or the shareholders. The next amendment in clause 4,I confess, does partake very much of the nature of a verbal amendment. But at the end of that provision Senator Walker proposes to add what is practically a new clause. He wishes to add -
Trustee companies empowered to act as trustees by an Act of Parliament of the Commonwealth or of any State within which the company is incorporated or registered, may be appointed sole or joint trustees under this Act. Whilst that alteration is a good one, so far as it goes, it does not meet the objections which were urged by honorable senators to the original Bill. I repeat that the trustees should be entirely removed from the influence of the banks. I admit that the amendment marks a distinct advance upon the Bill of last session, but it does not meet the objections of those who opposed that measure. In clause 5 three distinct amendments are proposed, and in clause 7, after the word “thereon” Senator Walker wishes to insert the words “other than in respect of such note circulation(if any) of the company as is by any Act of Parliament of the Commonwealth or of any State made a first charge on the assets of the company.” Senator Walker can scarcely contend that that is merely a verbal amendment. One of the strongest objections urged against the Bill of last session was that under its provisions it was possible for the banks to relieve themselves of their unlimited liability in regard to the redemption of their note issue. These facts conclusively prove that if the Bill be restored to the business-paper, and carried in its amended form, it will be practically a new Bill, which has never undergone the scrutiny that is inseparable from a second-reading debate. The Senate would not have been afforded an opportunity of discussing its principles, of pointing out whether the measure is good, bad, or indifferent, or of saying whether its operation would be dangerous or beneficial to banking interests. My greatest objection to it is that it will permit persons to form themselves into limited liability companies for the purpose of starting ephemeral institutions under the laws of the various States, and that these persons will gradually be able to relieve themselves of all liability by appropriating their clients’ money. If the Bill were intended to apply only to a few institutions of the front rank, such as the Bank of New South Wales, the Bank of Australasia, and several others, possibly it might prove to be harmless. But seeing that it is to be applied to banking institutions generally it is impossible to forecast the disastrous results which may flow from it. Consequently it behoves us to approach its consideration with the greatest caution. Senator Walker should’ have consulted our wishes in this matter by introducing a new Bill. I have repeatedly urged him to do so. I do not think that he has made any advance by proceeding in this way. The Senate has been treated in a very cavalier fashion by being asked to- pass what is practically a new Bill, without having been afforded an opportunity of discussing it upon the motion for its second reading. I call attention to the State of the Senate. [Quorum formed.] I have known of instances in which a few men - whose only capital consisted of a couple of office chairs and a table, with sufficient money to rent a room in a palatial building for a few weeks - have started such important financial institutions as insurance companies. After carrying on business for a while they have been absolutely insolvent, and the public, who ought to have been protected against such an institution, have been left absolutely unprotected. At least, one case of that kind has occurred in Queensland. If this Bill gets into Committee, I intend that it shall be discussed in the fullest possible manner. So satisfied am I of its inherent dangers - although I do not accuse Senator Walker of suspecting those dangers - that I am tempted to remind him of a quotation from Lord Byron, who wrote -
Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That all the apostles would have done as they did.
No doubt Senator Walker is fully persuaded of the virtues of this measure, but I believe that he is making a mistake.
– There is another possibility.
– No honorable senator claims to be infallible. The man who never makes a mistake never makes anything.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to reply to interjections which are irrelevant.
– So far as I know, no other senator has seen the Bill. I owe my copy to the courtesy of Senator Walker, whom I thank for it. He has also supplied me with an advance copy of his amendments. I think that the honorable senator is fully persuaded that it will be a good Bill - good for the banks and good for the country - but I hold that, primarily, it was introduced in the interest of the banks.
– Order ! Once or twice I have called the attention of the honorable senator to tedious repetition and irrelevance. There is a standing order which enables me to order an honorable member to discontinue his speech if, after his attention has been called to the matter, he does not desist from tedious repetition. For the last half-hour, repetitions on the part of the honorable senator have been constant.
– I do not think that they have been constant. I do not believe that I used those words before.
– Order !
– I do not think that I ever said before
– I am not going to debate the matter with the honorable senator. To my mind, he has been guilty of constant repetition ; and, if he is not prepared to accept my decision, I shall have to take the further action which I am entitled under the Standing Orders to take.
– I was contending - for the first time, I think, in the course of my remarks - that this Bill” was primarily introduced in the interest of the banks.
– I think that the honorable senator has made that statement at least half-a-dozen times since he commenced to speak.
– Mr. President, I am not going to argue the matter with you. Hansard only can say whether I did or not.
– Hansard will not show the repetitions.
– When Senator Walker was submitting this motion, I ventured to suggest that his remarks with regard to his various amendments would more properly be made in a second-reading speech, and were hardly relevant ; and I did so with the distinct idea of calling your attention to the matter ; but no notice was taken of Senator Walker going over the whole ground.
– Order! There is no use in the honorable senator attempting to find fault with the action of the Chair. If he foundthat there was any tedious repetition or irrelevance in Senator Walker’s remarks, it was his duty to call my attention to the fact.
– I did not claim that Senator Walker was guilty of either tedious repetition or irrelevance. His remarks were, I believe, relevant j but, whetuer they were in order at this stage is another matter, on which I am not prepared to express an opinion. As he was allowed to point out the effect of his amendments, I ought to be allowed to point out their defects from my point of view.
-The honorable senator has been allowed to do that, and he has done it over and over again.
– When I was discussing clause 3, which embodies the important principle of the Bill, I was not allowed to point out the dangers which may arise if this class of legislation is passed without receiving the fullest consideration. Therefore, sir, I think that, in justice to the Senate, an opportunity ought to be afforded to me and every other honorable senator to point out the full effect of this Bill if passed in the new form proposed by Senator Walker. I also think that we ought to have a quorum to listen to my further remarks on this subject. - [Quorum formed.] A day or two ago, when I understood that Senator Walker intended to take this action, I went to the Library to look up some authorities on parliamentary procedure. I did not bring them into the chamber with me this evening because I did not want to unduly delay the consideration of the motion. But any one who cares to consult May, or Todd, who are the recognisedauthorities, will find that they are very strong on the necessity that has at all times existed for safeguarding the passage of legislation so that nothing should be passed except after the most ample opportunities for consideration had been afforded to everybody. If I had wished to be in any way fractious or contentious on this motion, I could have brought in those authorities, and read them over and over to the Senate. They are very important and interesting.
– Shall I get them for the honorable senator?
– No. I have not wanted at any time to unduly delay the consideration of the motion; but I have wanted to point out, as strongly as Icould, my objections to the course proposed to be pursued. Senator Walker, by his action, asks us to allow all these safeguards to go by the board. I do not propose to allow that to be done without raising my voice in protest. I have entered my protest, and I promise Senator Walker faithfully that when the Bill gets into Committee, I shall see that as many honorable senators as care to listen to my remarks shall have a full opportunity of becoming acquainted with the dangers I see in the Bill, and they are many.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from nth August, vide page 2291) :
Clause 5 -
This Act does not apply -
to a seaman who is a member of the crew of a fishing vessel and is remunerated by a share in the profits or the gross earnings of the working of the vessel.
Upon which Senator Millen had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ remunerated “, paragraph 4, the word “ wholly “ be inserted.
– I understood that the Vice-President of the Executive Council undertook to reconsider the form of this clause. Some honorable senators suggested amendments which, so far as they were accepted by the Government, appeared to be desirable ; but I understood that, after the adjournment of the Senate last night, the Minister intended to see if a clause could not be framed which would more fully meet the wishes of honorable senators. I should like to know if he has given any further consideration to the clause in that direction ?
– I have reconsidered the clause, and, on the Chairman taking his seat at the table, I would have proceeded to announce the result of my deliberations if there had been any members of the Opposition to listen to me. As they have been conspicuously absent for a while, and were still absent when the Chairman took the chair, I hardly thought it necessary to address empty benches.
– Is not that a little unfair ?
– It is hardly unfair seeing that, practically speaking, there has been only one member of the Labour party here since the dinner adjournment.
– Oh no, I have been in the chamber several times.
– Never when a quorum bell was rung.
– What Bill is the Minister discussing, sir?
– I was discussing the absence of the Opposition, but I recognise that the Seamen’s Compensation Bill is before the Committee. I have reflected upon this clause, and consulted with the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department. It appears to me that it is almost impossible to set out in the measure provisions which would cover the whole of the different classes of fishermen whose conditions we were discussing last night. There are, probably, three main classes to be considered. The first class are the men who are essentially partners. By no means can they be brought under the measure, nor do I think that any one desires to bring under its provisions those who, in no sense, can be regarded as employes. . The second class are the men who may be paid partly in money and partly in fish. The third class are the men who are paid wholly from the proceeds of the haul. As regards these classes, it requires no effort of the imagination to see that there may be a large number of variations. I have come to the conelusion that it is impossible to indicatein the clause exactly where partnership may end and wage earning begin. In these circumstances, it seems to me that it will be better to omit the clause, and leave the matter, if necessary - andI hope that it will not be necessary - to the determination of the Law Courts if any one should feel that he has a claim or grievance under the Act. For that reason I ask leave to withdraw my amendment with a view to the clause being negatived.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause6 - (1.) If personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment is caused to a seaman, his employer shall, subject to this Act, be liable to pay compensation in accordance with the First Schedule to this Act.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether the words “personal injury” would cover the case of a person who met with an accident, and sustained injury which would not be quite visible to a doctor or to friends, but which would affect his health very materially. Take, for instance, a person who is engaged in running machinery. Through an explosion he may experience such a shock as really to incapacitate him from work for a long time. Will the phrase “ personal injury “ cover a case of incapacity which is occasioned, not by an act of violence to a man’s bones, but simply by a nervous shock ?
– If any incapacity results from an occurrence in the course of a man’s occupation that constitutes a personal injury to him, even though it may not involve the loss of a limb, or a wound of any kind. If a man’s nerves became so shattered that he is incompetent to perform any work, he is an injured person.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8- (1.) If the Comptroller-General, after taking steps to ascertain the view’s of the employer and seamen, certifies -
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council) [9.41I - I move -
That after the word “ scheme,” line 23, the following new paragraph be inserted, “ (d) that the scheme is financially sound.”
This clause provides for the conditions under which the benefits of compensation are to be secured by means of a scheme of insurance, and not necessarily from the employer. Senator Pearce has pointed out that if ascheme should prove insufficient, it would only be right to give the workman claiming compensation the legal right to proceed against his employer for any deficiency found to exist in the funds of the scheme. I intimated that I was only too glad to help forward an amendment of the kind, and when Senator Pearce moves an amendment which has been circulated I shall support it. I remind the Committee that paragraph d of sub-clause 4 provides that the Comptroller-General may revoke the certificate under which a scheme is founded if “satisfactory reasons exist” for doing so. If the Comptroller-General considered that conditions which were essential to the retention of the certificate did not exist, that would be a satisfactory reason for revoking it. Amongst those conditions is one that the scheme must be financially sound.
– But by that time the men would have lost the money they put into the scheme.
– They would not have lost any money, because the obligation would be thrown upon the Government of ascertaining that the scheme was financially sound before it could be started. If it were started upon a financially sound basis it could not become unsound afterwards.
– It might.
– If it became unsound it would not have been started upon a sound basis. If a scheme is started upon an actuarially sound basis, it must be strong enough to weather any storm it is likely to encounter.
– An actuarial basis is founded on an average.
– The term in my amendment is “ financially sound.”
– It means that the scheme must be strong enough to meet an average of claims. Every insurance society is actuarially sound, and yet some of the societies could not meet the claims made against them after the San Francisco disaster.
– It is for that reason I have avoided using the word “actuarial.” I draw a distinction between “actuarially sound” and “financially sound.” I admit that you might have a basis that was actuarially sound on the assumption that the average claims over a period of twenty years amounted to so much ; but there might be a condition of things in which ten years’ claims might be made in one year. That would bring about a crisis. But such a scheme would not be “ financially sound “ as I use the term. A scheme to be “ financially sound “ would have to be strong enough to meet the claims upon it in the first year and in every succeeding year. There is nothing in this Bill to induce an employer to take up a scheme of this sort.
– Then why insert the clause ?
– In my secondreading speech I brought forward evidence from the report of the Registrar of Friendly Societies in Great Britain, asto why the clause should be inserted. The principle reason is that the men are enabled by means of schemes of this kind to secure greater benefits than the Bill provides for. I quoted facts showing that the amount of benefit conferred upon claimants was 100 per cent. more than they would have obtained under the English Act without such schemes to supplement it. In no case had the contribution from the men exceeded1d. per week. For the year ending 31st December, 1907, the claims payable under the Act amounted to 9,940, whereas the actual payments amounted to£133,000 - an increase, on account of the schemes in operation, of nearly 67 per cent. The report shows that in four of the schemes in operation the employés made no contribution whatever. Under two schemes the employes contributed1d. per week as a. maximum, and1d. per quarter as a minimum. Under one scheme one contribution was1d. per week. It is ait answer to Senator Pearce’s dread as to the financial soundness of the schemes that their solvency was covered by insurance. It is, of course, quite competent, when these schemes have been launched, for their solvency to be assured by insurance or guarantee. I ask the Committee, therefore, in the interest of the workmen themselves, not to strike out the clause. I say at once that I rather expect that for some time to come it will be inoperative, because it offers no inducement to employers to contribute to such a scheme. In the first place, any scheme has to insure to the workmen not; less than they could claim under the Bill. They may get more, but they could not get less. Therefore no inducement is offered to employers. But, inasmuch as any such scheme would place the men in a better position than they would otherwise occupy, there is no reason why we should not permit its formation. I can quite conceive of the possibility that, as this idea of insurance grows, there may be a desire on the part of the men themselves to devise some scheme which would enable them to obtain greater benefits than those to which they are entitled under this Bill, and possibly they might be helped by their more benevolent and humane employers. Moreover, any such scheme, safeguarded by Government supervision, would offer to the workmen an absolutely solvent guarantee as against the always questionable solvency of an individual employer. As the Bill now stands, and must stand, every workman who has a claim can only maintain it so long as his employer is solvent ; and any employer, no matter how big he be, may, under the stress of bad times, become insolvent. But with a scheme which is actuarially and financially sound there is no possibility of any man having a claim and being unable to obtain what is due to him. A scheme so guaranteed, and with the security of a good insurance company behind it, offers a better guarantee than the solvency of the best employer in the country. For these reasons, I ask the Committee to leave the clause in the Bill, with such amendments as mav be found desirable.
– I do not think there can be arty objection to the words proposed to be added by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. They offer an additional safeguard to what we have already provided. In some cases schemes of insurance have already been adopted where men have found it distinctly advantageous to join with their employers’, and secure themselves in case of accident. They would, under such a scheme, receive much more relief than this Bill provides. ‘If we insure that the scheme, whatever it may be, should be examined into by an accountant or actuary, and be guaranteed by a certificate of financial soundness, the Bill must be improved bv permitting such a thing to be done.
– I am altogether opposed to this clause, for several reasons. When the Workmen’s Compensation ‘Act was originally introduced into England, several of the large railway companies had schemes of insurance. The workmen themselves requested that those schemes should be continued. We have not such schemes in Australia.
– There is no objection to having them.
– Yes, there is. While it is true that the workman gets extra compensation under such a scheme, nevertheless he has to pay extra for the benefit received.
– He need not join if he does not like.
– If he does not, he is told that he is not wanted, and does not get the work. The Union Company started a benefit society for its employes. The men were told that membership was optional, but men who did not join the society found that their services were not required. Another point is this : If I were to insure with an insurance company, and my policy lapsed, the lapsed policy, would have some value. But if I insure with my employer, I have no policy with a lapsed value. As soon as he finds that he does not want me any longer, he turns me adrift. The money I paid into the employer’s insurance fund would be entirely lost to me.
– The honorable senator would have cover all the time he continued in the employment.
– That is so, but the cover I would have with an insurance company would have a lapsed value.
– There is no lapsed value in the case of insurance against accident.
– I think that there is. I know that I receive bonuses in connexion with my policy every year.
– The honorable senator’s policy is a life policy as well as an accident policy.
– That is so. We are not going in this matter as far as the State Parliaments have gone, or as far as the English Act goes. Under the English Act in certain cases compensation is paid where a workman contracts certain diseases common to certain trades. A seaman is not supposed to contract any disease. He may be asked to go from Melbourne, say, to Sydney, where plague is sometimes raging, and he must either go to that plague-ridden spot when he is ordered to do so, or to Pentridge for three months. However, that is not the matter immediately before the Committee. It is possible that under this contracting out clause benefit schemes will.be brought forward which will depend on the right of men to employment.
– Where would be the benefit to the employer?
– I am not going to argue that point. The honorable senator is well aware that these benefit schemes have been proposed as a counter-blast to unionism.
– Is it not too late in the day to talk about these old bogies ?
– It is not an old bogy. I did not wish to bring this into the argument, but the honorable senator has asked for it. It is well known that the Union Company established their scheme after the maritime strike of 1890, in which they upheld the principle of absolute freedom of contract. The intention in proposing these schemes is to induce the men to believe that they will receive more benefit by joining in the scheme submitted by their employers than the union to which they belong can give to them.
– The honorable senator objects to that?
– I do not object to it. Unionism can compete against any scheme. Why should the Legislature assist employers to defeat Unionism? That is the object of these contracting out clauses. It would do no harm to strike out this provision. The Bill does not in any way depend on it. If the Government really desire to benefit Australian seamen they will say that the employer shall toe liable in case of accident, and that there shall be no contracting out provision. If the employers wish to offer their employes extra benefits let them do so of their generosity and of their own free will. The Bill would be improved by the omission of this clause, and its retention will only lend colour to the suggestion that the measure is calculated to be of more use to one side than the other.
.- Viewing the amendment to be moved by Senator Pearce in conjunction with that suggested by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it would appear that very little inducement would be held out to any man to contract himself out of the provisions of this measure. But why should we in framing Bills persist in including clauses permitting the persons concerned to contract themselves out of the law ?
– Does not the honorable senator see that that is a wrong term to use ? It is not contracting out of the law, but giving permission to submit a better for an inferior scheme.
– What is proposed is that we shall say to the seaman that if he pleases to enter into a contract with his employer he will benefit equally-
– More; for this reason, that in one case it is an absolutely solvent scheme against an employer whose solvency is always liable to be attacked.
– I do not know that that is really a sound argument. It is useless to argue in these days that the employer of labour is liable for the compensation payable under any of these Acts. It is the insurance companies who provide the compensation. If we really mean to pass a measure to provide compensation to seamen, why should we insert in it a right to seamen to contract themselves out of its provisions? This clause really means that if a seaman and his employer can agree to particular terms-
– And with the approval of the Government.
– All that the Government have to do in the matter is to see that the terms of the agreement which the seaman makes with his employer are such as will give him the same or a larger measure of compensation than he would be entitled to under the Bill.
– The honorable senator does not regard solvency as an advantage; I do.
– I have had so much experience of these cases that I am forced to smile when I am invited to believe that an employer will propose a mutual agreement with his employe offering better conditions to the employé than he is compelled to offer under the law.
– The honorable senator must have had a very unfortunate experience.
– I have had just the ordinary experience which any manassociated with the Labour movement inAustralia must gain in a very few years. In Western Australia alone I have had experience of at least twenty of these cases. They were placed in my hands, and in every one of them my great battle was not with the employer, but with the insurancecompany. The employers have tried to shake me off. They have said, “ This isnot our business. We have insured the men. It is the insurance company that is dealing with this.” When a man applies to his employer for the compensation provided for under the Act the person who comes to see him in answer to the application is not the employer, but the agent of an insurance company. On more than half-a-dozen occasions I have had sufficient audacity to tell an insurance agent to get away if he desired to remain in good health. Why should we complicate this measure in the way proposed ? Why should we not say definitely that seamen shall be entitled to compensation and that their employers shall be liable according to the provisions of the Bill ? If we agree that it is desirable to pass a measure of this kind there is no reason why we should insert a provision which can only have the effect of nullifying the other provisions of the measure. I do not suggest that this Bill will be rendered useless by such a provision; but there is at least a possibility of it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to consider the advisableness of withdrawing any obstacle to an agreement being arrived at between employer and employé in this matter.
– I would ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to temporarily withdraw his amendment, in order to enable me to move a prior amendment in subclause c I desire to omit the words “ is applicable,” with a view to insert, in lieu thereof, the words “ is sought to be applied.” If the clause be retained in its present form, an employer will only be bound to consult the wishes of those who are already concerned in such a scheme; whereas, under my proposal-
– I cannot see any difference between the two sets of words.
– My proposal will destroy any chance of an employer forming amongst his employes a society which some of them are unwilling to join. We had a very glaring instance of the petty tyranny sought to be exercised in this connexion by the Union Steam-ship Company. The men employed by that company had a very legitimate grievance. The societywhich was formed in that instance was known as the “ deaf and dumb society,” because the men who were paying their weekly contributions into it were not consulted before they were asked to join it.
– There is no monetary contribution provided for under this clause.
– But there may be. In the absence of the words which I have suggested, there is nothing to prevent an employer from forming a society amongst his employes against their will. The adoption of my proposal would throw upon the Comptroller-General the responsibility of consulting the wishes of the men who are compelled to join in any compensation scheme. It would simply guarantee to employes that liberty which they should enjoy when they are called upon to join a society, against their will.
– I have no objection to temporarily withdrawing my amendment to enable SenatorLynch to submit his proposal; but I assure him that it is quite unnecessary to alter the clause. At the present moment, it provides that if the Comptroller-General certifies that a majority of the seamen favour any scheme of compensation, that scheme shall be applicable to them. Moreover, a minority are free to stand aloof from any, scheme of the sort.
– A vote would be taken upon the matter every now and again?
– So that a ship would have to get a fresh crew every month ?
– Senator Guthrie knows that the Seamen’s Union stands upon too sound a basis to permit of anything of that kind being done.
– I have known ships which havehad six crews in six months.
– Would the VicePresident of the Executive Council depend upon the Seamen’s Union, rather than upon legislation ?
– Senator Guthrie has attempted to show that employers might act in a tyrannical way towards their employes. I say that the Seamen’s Union is too strong to permit of that being done. Senator Lynch has asked whether it is possible - where a number of men have agreed to adopt a compensation scheme - for a minority to stand aloof from it ? My reply is that the clause provides that even if a majority approve of any scheme there is no compulsion on the minorityto subscribe to it. They may stand out of it.
– In which case, they would not get work.
– It is very difficult to argue this question, because, the moment I attempt to deal with one point, my honorable friends opposite raise another. Why should an employer seek to force his workmen into any compensation scheme? I do not advocate the clause because I believe that employers want these schemes, or imagine that they will prove of any benefit to them.
– Because the VicePresident of the Executive Council does not know what employers have done.
– I have already shown that in some instances employes have obtained from their employers far greater benefits from a nominal contribution than they can obtain under this Bill. Whilst I have been speaking, I have had placed in my hand a reminder, that under Cadbury’s scheme, employes are entitled to £60 per annum, whereas under this Bill they can obtain only .£13.
– There are very few Cadburys in the world.
– Does the honorable senator wish to stamp out those employers who are inclined to do more than the Bill requires them to do?
– 1 say that those employers do not exist in Australia.
– I know that my honorable friend is not prepared to believe that an employer has any good instincts. But I know that there are employers who? without any obligations upon them, are today insuring their employes against accident. But, even supposing that there were only one employer in Australia who was prepared to make more liberal provision for his employes than is made under this Bill, why should we prevent him from doing it ?
– If this provision were not in the Bill, would there be anything to prevent him doing that of his own volition ?
– Yes ; he would have no power to do it. I quite recognise the fear which is entertained by Senator Guthrie that the clause might be used as a means of coercing employes. But what inducement is there to the employer who has been painted as a wicked, grasping, tyrannical man, to launch a scheme of this kind ? What has he to gain by it ? Absolutely not a penny, and certainly nothing in the matter of peace of mind. He occupies exactly the same position under the scheme as he would occupy if he remained outside of it. Therefore, “it “does not affect that sort of employer, who is, apparently, the bugbear of my honorable friends opposite. But it does affect the good employer who, from a sincere desire to benefit his workmen, is disposed to contribute more to a compensation scheme than he would be required to do under this Bill. When once the cry is raised that an employer is prepared to act tyrannically, all argument is brushed aside. In my opinion, the time has gone by when any employer is in a position to coerce his men in the way that has been suggested. An employer, could not launch a compensation scheme to-morrow unless his men were satisfied with it.
– But he might give them to understand that, if they were not prepared to come under that scheme, they could go elsewhere.
– ‘There might be some reason in that argument if it could be shown that by doing so the employer would make something. What is the employer going to make? What doe’s it matter to this callous employer whether he is under the scheme or out of it? He has to pay the same amount in any case.
– He may, or he may not.
– How can he possibly pay less? Senator Henderson mentioned that in dealing with claims under the Workmen’s Compensation Act he was invariably met by the representative of an insurance company. I would remind him that the Royal Commission which investigated this matter in England stated in their report that litigation was very rare indeed as the result of the schemes which the honorable senator is now condemning.
– Oh, no.
– These schemes were the schemes of the employers common to one industry, on the one hand, and the unions acting for the workmen, on the other. In their report the Royal Commission showed that the best results were obtained wherever there were, not individual employers, but the union of employers working together through some insurance scheme of their own, on the one hand, and the union acting for the men, on the other hand. This evidence all points to the fact that there are great advantages to be derived from such a scheme, and there has been no substantial reason shown why we should refuse to allow an employer to act a little more liberally than the law requires.
– I do not desire for a moment to prevent any employer, even by the omission of the clause, from being generous if he chooses. I do not believe that its deletion would prevent the play of those noble instincts which seem to have impressed themselves so forcibly upon the mind of the Minister. Years ago I” knew employers who, apart from any law on the subject, used to pension off their old employes. Some employers do that even now, and all honour to them for doing so.
– In scores of cases they do it now.
– The number of such employers has dwindled down to a very few indeed, and in a very short time there will be none left.
– The conditions of industrial life have removed that possibility to an old employe.
– Honorable senators on the other side are making it impossible for an employer to act in that way.
– I want the honorable senator to remember that to-day the employer is anywhere and acts anyhow. In fact, in some cases, we do not know who he is. Personal relationship has passed out of industrial life.
– I was never like that, and I was an employer for forty -five years.
– The conditions under which the honorable senator employed men are passing away, and passing away very rapidly. There are very few such employers in agricultural pursuits where, I suppose, it is least possible for an employer to treat his old employes in a generous way. We are now engaged in framing a law for those who follow a certain calling. Senator Millen has not shown any substantial reasons why we should allow any persons to contract themselves outside this clause.
– The marginal note is not a portion of the clause.
– We are discussing the principle to which the marginal note applies. We are considering whether it is advisable to enact a provision under which a certain number of seamen can agree with their employer to do something else than to continue under the operation of the law.
– Something as good or something better.
– If it is “ something as good “ there will be no advantage given, and if the clause is deleted the employer will not be prevented from doing “something better.”
– Yes he will, and that is just the point at issue.
– Suppose that I was a wealthy employer of labour, and I desired to pension off an old servant. Does the honorable senator mean to tell >me that the mere provisions of this measure would prevent me from carrying out my desire? . I should think not. One of the most weak arguments which can be raised against or for a proposal is that it would abolish such men as Cadbury and Hartley, who make provision for i heir old workpeople. Does any one mean to tell me that any Act of the Imperial Parliament would change the fixed principles which have actuated those men for years?
– Yes, if the Act made them do both things at the same time.
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that any Act would interfere with the benevolence of the Hartley Jam Making Company ? I am sure that if he reflects for a moment his answer will be that no matter what provisions may be contained in an Act, such employers will continue to treat their old employes as they have done hitherto. Again, take the Dukes of Northumberland, who have been employing men for hundreds of years. How have they treated men who have served them for a number of years? To every retiring employe they grant a pension, a free house and a piece of land on which to keep a cow and a pig, so that he may be comfortable in his old age. Does any one mean to tell me that any Act of Parliament would compel the Dukes to depart from that practice?
– Yes, if a man has to pay in two ways. ‘
– The man never pays anything. It is the industry which pays for everything.
– The industry must be a successful one or the employer could not act in that way.
– It is out of the industry that Cadbury is able to extend a sympathy which is so laudable, and which every one appreciates. Whatever comes to the seamen comes out of the industry.
– I can remember the time when half the shipping in England was laid up for twelve months. The honorable senator is arguing as if every business concern is bound to be a success.
– I ask Senator Henderson not to discuss the illustrations which he has given.
– I do not intend to ‘do that, sir. Why should there be all this contention?
– Let us get to a division.
– I am not particularly keen about getting to a division. I would rather come to a mutual understanding. If we, who are engaged in framing a law, fail to come to a mutual understanding without going to a division, what about the employer .and the employes to whom it is to apply ? It is quite possible that there will be force used on one side or the other. Let us so frame the measure that every person to whom it applies will come under its provisions, because it is an instrument providing especially, for his calling.
– I should like to bring to the notice of the Vice-President of the Executive Council the fact that under this Bill there is a serious clanger which has not been so far mentioned. There are clauses which are devised to protect the workman in cases where employers become insolvent. But there are no real safeguards in the cases contemplated by this clause.
– Provision must be made in any scheme for the protection of the workmen.
– There are no provisions in this Bill which insure any adequate supervision. An employer who may be in a perfectly solvent condition to-day may become insolvent. It is quite true that a generous employer might adopt a scheme which would be far more ‘generous towards the workman than anything provided by this Bill. But through unforeseen causes, over which the men would have no control,’ the firm or the fund might become insolvent. The only safeguard is provided in sub-clause 4 of the clause under discussion, which uses the words -
If complaint is made to the ComptrollerGeneral by or on behalf of the seamen of any employer -
That is to say, the seamen are supposed to be able to make an actuarial investigation.
– There is a seamen’s union.
– But this clause presupposes isolated cases. Seamen may not be able to meet together and arrange for an actuarial investigation. A shipping company may, through divers causes, become insolvent. In such a case an injured workman would have no redress. That is a position which should not be sanctioned. The safeguards provided in clause 4 are, first, that complaint is made -
That the benefits conferred by any scheme no longer conform to the conditions stated in subsection 1 of this section.
I have pointed out that the seamen may not be ira a position to know the facts, or may not be able to appoint any one to make an investigation for them. They may not be unionists, and may be scattered in various portions of the globe. Then, again, under paragraph b, complaint may be made -
That the provisions of the scheme are being violated.
In all the cases contemplated under subclause 4, the seamen may be unable to act in concert. Yet everything may go wrong. When we are making legislative provision for compensation to seamen, we should see to it that our scheme is not only generous, but safe. We should insist that no person shall be outside that scheme, whilst at the same time we concede to every one the fullest possible right to receive the benefits of any other scheme which he likes to adopt. Senator Gray has stated that employers, in some cases, are likely to be more generous than is this Bill. Senator Millen asks why we should shut out the generosity of the employer. No one proposes to do so. But we say that there should be a minimum, and that the employer may make as much provision as he chooses ia, addition to that secured by this Bill. Then no one will interfere with him. If we are going to safeguard the interests of the seamen we should insist emphatically that none of them shall be able to contract out of this Bill. A seaman who suffers from’ a broken limb, or whose health is injured while performing his duties, should have claims upon the industry, just as the cost of machinery is a charge upon the industry. We should insist upon this minimum of compensation being secured. I admit that some employers have been very good. If they wish to be more generous than the Bill there is nothing to prevent them.
– I am at a loss to understand the fierceness of the attack upon this clause. It appears to me to secure what Senator Givens desires - a minimum. An amount of elasticity is offered which would be lacking in the Bill without the clause. As long as we safeguard the position of the seaman, and assure him this minimum, why not give an opportunity for making a better arrangement when the chance exists?
I am quite satisfied that a chance for making a better arrangement, may be brought about when employers and men come together, and work out a scheme on a thoroughly sound basis. Let us insure that no scheme shall be accepted until it has passed a very close scrutiny. Let it be remembered that no claim can be forced on men of which they disapprove. Let honorable senators also bear in mind that employers have nothing to gain from supporting any scheme. Looking at this matter in the quietest and coolest manner possible, it appears to me that the seamen may gain from.’ such a scheme; and it is the seamen whose interests we are led to suppose are the special care of honorable senators opposite. May I suggest to them that their opposition goes a little too far, and that they may cause inquiries to be made by the public as to whether they do not want to go a little bit further than mere workmen’s compensation, and to carry antipathy to employers to the point of injury to the sailors.
– A great deal has been said about injury to .employers. None on this side of the chamber has any idea of injuring any employer, and not a word has been said to lead to such a supposition. Employers are quite capable of looking after their own interests. But every employer wants to make as much money out of his business as he possibly can. On the other hand, the men employed like to get as much for their labour as they can. The great danger is that we m’ay put into this Bill something that may cause friction between employers and men. Looking over the forms used under the English Act - and I take it that our draftsman will copy English procedure - I can see a good deal of danger. On page 731 of his book on the Workmen’s Compensation Act, Ruegg gives forms of complaint by workmen to the Registrar of Friendly Societies. These complaints are headed as “ Made by and on behalf of workmen of the employer in the abovementioned scheme.” The first complaint for which a form is given is - ‘
That the benefits conferred by this scheme no longer conform to the conditions stated in subsection 1 of the above-mentioned Acts in the following respects.
The second form is -
That the provisions of the scheme are being varied in the following respects.
The third form is -
That the scheme is not being fairly administered in the following respects.
I wonder how long a workman signing such a form would remain in the employment of any master, good or bad ?
– Those forms are used under a scheme administered by the emplover.
– Under the Workmen’s Compensation Acts which we have had in the past, employers have insured and thrown the responsibility on the insurance companies. Instead of a man who is injured going to his employer’s office to receive his compensation week by week, he has to go to the insurance company’s office to get it. I have such cases brought under my notice every day. A complaint made against the scheme of an employer would become public property. If an employer found out that John Jones or Tom Brown had sent such a complaint to the Comptroller-General, how long would the man remain in his employment? Suppose that an honorable senator opposite employed a gardener, whom he covered against accident by an insurance policy. Suppose the gardener wrote to the ComptrollerGeneral, saying that the scheme was not being properly administered, and the ComptrollerGeneral called on the employer to show that the scheme was in a financially sound state. Would not the employer immediately say, “ What do you mean by approaching the Comptroller-General in this fashion? Pack up, and get out of this.”
– In Australia the sailors are all in the union.
– They are not. It is true that 100 per cent, of the men employed on steam-ships in Australasia belong to the union. But it has not always been so, and not more than 15 per cent, of the men employed on sailing ships are unionists.
– Does the honorable senator refer to sailing ships plying between Australian ports?
– Yes, 75 per cent, of the men employed in sailing ships engaged in the Australian coastal trade are non-unionists. Honorable senators are aware that the Union makes no provision in its rules for sailing ships. We are not legislating in this matter for union men. Honorable senators are aware that like other organizations Seamen’s Unions have their ups and downs. They get hard knocks sometimes, and they were in a low state when the employers of New Zealand tried to work their scheme. The strongest argument against these schemes by which men are induced to contract themselves out of the law is that as a rule the workmen who refuse to take advantage of them lose their employment. Senator Millen has said that it is a misnomer to describe this as a V contractingout clause,” but that is the term applied in the text-books to alf similar provisions.
– But it is not used in the prejudiced way in which the honorable senator uses it.
– I say that the object is to afford an opportunity for the submission of benefit schemes for the purpose of superseding unions.
– Honorable senators opposite want to sacrifice the men for the unions.
– We probably differ from Senator Gray as to the meaning of “sacrifice” in this connexion. I knowthat seamen will be perfectly -satisfied with this Bill without the contracting-out provision. If the clause is left out there will be nothing to prevent an employer saying, “ In addition to what you are entitled to under the Act we will give you something more.” What is there to prevent employers from saying that ?
– What honorable senators opposite are proposing now.
– We are proposing now that all the employers of seamen should be placed on the same footing. We have made provision in some of our laws for the payment of a minimum wage, but that has hot prevented employers in any instances from paying their employes more than the minimum wage provided for. I am satisfied that Senator Gray pays the men he employs in Sydney more than the minimum wage he is compelled to pay by law.
– And honorable senators opposite have tried to prevent us from doing so. In connexion with a Bill providing for the payment of bounties it will be remembered that Senator Pearce proposed that a clause should be inserted under which it would have been necessary to put up a placard in every room in a factory setting out exactly the wages received by each person employed in the factory.
– I repeat that to leave out this clause would do no harm to any one. I am aware that every precaution is taken to see that these benefit schemes proposed by employers shall be always financially sound. But financial crises sometimes arise very suddenly, and with the best insurance” companies behind schemes of the kind the workmen might still find themselves “ left.” The seaman under this legislation is in a somewhat better position than the ordinary workman, because he will have a lien on the ship.
– For wages, not for compensation.
– Under the Merchant Shipping Act, a seaman is given a lien on his ship for wages, for maintenance during illness, and for compensation in case of injury.
– The right exists to the extent of the provision made under the Merchant Shipping Act.
– (Exactly. This Bill must be read in conjunction with the Merchant Shipping Act, and under that Act the seaman is given the first lien on the ship. There is a danger even there, because if the ship is lost, the seaman’s lien is lost with it. In the majority of cases of injury to seamen, the ship is left, and the seaman is given the first lien on the ship to enable him to recover the insured amount. I believe that the omission of this clause would give satisfaction both to employers and employes.
– It is somewhat remarkable that this matter .was debated at great length in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords, and that in the debate the objections which have been raised by honorable senators opposite were stated at length.
– Gladstone went out of power over this matter when it was discussed in connexion with the Employers’ Liability Act.
– The contracting out there permitted a man to relieve his employer of all his liability.
– This was arrived at as a compromise subsequently.
– The matter was discussed in connexion with the codifying Act of 1906, in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords.
– What has been the result of the operation of that Act ?
– So far as I know, there has been no complaint against it.
– I know that there have been several complaints.
– I shall be glad to have the references to them. I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive” Council, that it is a misnomer to call this a “ contracting-out “ clause, because what it proposes is a voluntary arrangement, by which the seamen may secure, not less, and, if possible, more, than the compensation provided for under the Bill. The Bill as it stands gives an additional guarantee to the seaman that he shall have the advantages intended to be conferred by. the Bill. We cannot guarantee the solvency of a corporation or an individual sometimes, even if we have a first lien upon all the assets; but, under the voluntary system, with the proposed addition as the most important of the conditions precedent, that the ComptrollerGeneral shall have the assurance that a scheme is financially sound, we shall secure at least the benefits conferred in the other portions of the Bill. The ComptrollerGeneral is bound to see that any voluntary scheme is not only financially sound, but that the fund is ear-marked. Any voluntary assurance under this clause would have a certificate* of financial soundness in all respects from the ComptrollerGeneral, responsible to the Government and to Parliament.
– What does the honorable senator mean by ‘ 1 ear-marked ‘ ‘ ?
– I take it that the money would be practically set aside as a trust fund, and that the ComptrollerGeneral would take into consideration the fact -that it has to meet the vicissitudes of the shipping trade. The Government seek as far as is possible, to guarantee the advantages of the measure under voluntary arrangement. The term “contracting out” is an unfortunate one, attached to the clause by the opponents of the voluntary arrangement, but, apparently, the provision has stood the test of criticism and practice at Home. It is a mere bogy to say that any proposal of the kind is intended to destroy the unions.
– Can the honorable senator knock the bogy down?
– I shall stand by the clause, in order to give even a unionist, if he chooses, the additional advantage.
– The honorable senator knows that a unionist would not accept it.
– I am assuming that the unionist is a man of common sense. If a corporation or employer deals justly and liberally with his employes - and I gather from Senator Guthrie and others, that, especially in the coastal shipping trade, the conduct of the companies towards the men is munificent-
– The companies never give to the men more than they are bound to give, or than the men are able to force out of them.
– I certainly understood the honorable senator to say that the treatment of the men in the coastal trade had vastly improved, and was to some extent a credit to their employers. Why should federated shipping companies not be able to enter into a voluntary arrangement with their men in order to obtain the advantages supplied by the Bill ?
– There was one arrangement which failed.
– There is no reason why, under other conditions, there should not be an arrangement which would not fail. Why should the federated shipowners be prevented from adopting a scheme, which might be better for the men than the conditions prescribed by the Bill?
– Does the honorable senator think that the ship-owners would be more liberal than this Parliament? If the men deserve more, let us so provide in the Bill.
– The Bill absolutely insists on a minimum, and the effect of clause 8 is to allow, by a voluntary arrangement, a better scheme. If such a scheme is financially sound, and likely to work well, it affords an opportunity to a union man, a non-union man, or any set of men, to take advantage of it.- I do not blame the other side for strongly representing the point of view pf the unions. There is, to some extent, justification for pointing out that under certain circumstances the objectors to a scheme might be exposed to dismissal or other forms of harassment, but I believe that that result is entirely imaginary. It is not too much to say, I think, that some use unionism to deprive non-unionists of certain advantages. I can see no possible objection to a thoroughly certified scheme on the lines suggested. It does not remove any one of the minimum advantages now being conferred on seamen; but, in order to create feeling against any voluntary arrangement, it is perpetually asserted that employers are using their position to terrorise the men. There may have been exceptional cases where employers have acted tyranically towards their men in the past, but the general condition of the workers has improved, partly, I will admit, through some fear of the powers of trade unions. In any case I have heard no argument why a voluntary agreement should not be provided for. If the clause is omitted through the criticism of the Opposition, the-v must take the full consequences of it.
– This is the first time we have been accused in this debate of using unionism to prevent non-union men from getting some advantage. As a matter of fact the Vice-President of the Executive Council mentioned that it was necessary to have strong unions in existence to insure that these funds would be administered in a way satisfactory to the men. We on this .side are not working in the interests of unions only. While willing to do all we can to induce men to join’ unions, we recognise that in this industry there are a large number of men outside the unions. Senator Guthrie pointed out that it was after the strength of the unions had waned, when the ship-owners of Australia had beaten them, and cut down the men’s wages, taking away at one stroke a large number of the advantages which they had previously gained, that one company tried to institute a scheme for the benefit of the men who had assisted them to defeat the unionists. Senator St.. Ledger is apparently ready to do all he can to prejudice whatever position the unionist may have been able to secure for himself by his union. Senator Pulsford need not be surprised at my opposition to this clause, for on the second reading I said I was going to vote against it, as I did not believe in contracting out. I believe that the full provisions of the Act should be made to apply to all. We hear a lot now from honorable senators opposite about the generous employer, but we have not found many of his class in Australia. The measure has been introduced because it is realized that something is necessary to protect the interests of the seamen against the employer. If the employers had instituted schemes of compensation in the past there would have been no thought of bringing in this Bill. The Bill was necessitated by the absence of any provision for compensation to seamen. I cannot help remarking the great amount of sympathy that honorable members opposite always exhibit for the workmen when they are endeavouring to weaken a Bill introduced to protect those workmen. Senator Pulsford, in the interests of the workmen, of course, warns us hot to carry our opposition too far, lest the public might think we were asking for too much, and tells us that the contractingout clause will confer even greater benefits on the seamen. We have no objection to the employer doing everything he can for the men who make the wealth that he enjoys. It is only public demand that has compelled politicians to bring in legislation of this description at any time. They opposed Unionism as long as they could. Conditions in England when similar legislation was introduced there were quite different from those now obtaining in Australia. The contracting-out clauses were put in the English Act, not to induce the formation of schemes outside the Act, but to enable schemes which had already been brought into .existence by some of the best employers to continue to exist independently ‘of the Act. Those employers, being sympathetic and broad-minded men, had made arrangements for compensation before any question of compulsory compensation arose, and the Legislature thought it better to allow those schemes to continue so long as the funds remained solvent. In Australia not one firm has done anything towards establishing compensation for seamen. Nothing in that direction can be pointed to except the bogus affair started after the strike of 1890. Why, therefore, should we go out of our way when initiating legislation of this character to induce the initiation of outside schemes? The VicePresident of the Executive Council asks what inducement there is for employers to start a scheme. We say there is none whatever. The Minister apparently does not think that the ship-owners of Australia intend to institute a fund.
– One has been in existence for years.
– There may be a fund to meet the cases in which actions are brought against the ship-owners by seamen.
– The ship-owners do not wait for actions to be brought against them.
– I do not know of any fund in regard to the management of which the men themselves have a “ say.” Possibly in a bad case the ship-owners give some compensation, but there is no rule to determine what compensation shall be given. Reference has been made to what has been done in the Old Country ; but similar arrangements do not exist here. The seamen on the sailing vessels on the Australian coast have had nothing done for them. Unless it could bc proved that they were injured by the negligence of their employers, they have received no compensation for injuries. Indeed, it is only of late years that they have come under legislation of this kind. The original Employers’ liability Act did not extend to seamen. It was years after the passing of that Act that they were protected. The proposed fund may be like that which the Colonial Sugar Company has established for the benefit of the men employed in its mills, to which they have to contribute so much a week.
– A man may or may’ not contribute, as he likes.
– A man who did not contribute would not keep his place long; his name would soon !be “ Walker.”
– Can the honorable member give evidence in -support of that statement ?
– It is supported by hundreds of cases. On a certain goldfield in Queensland 800 men lost their employment for daring to exercise their franchise in a certain direction. Hundreds of men have been dismissed . for showing a little manliness. Employers have positively objected to their men joining organizations.
– The honorable senator cannot mention an instance in which the Sugar Company has discharged a hand for failing to contribute to its fund.
– The proposed fund may he started without a contribution from the employer, but if he contributes, the Comptroller-General must certify that it will meet its liabilities apart from that contribution. That certificate is given at the commencement, and no provision is made for subsequent certificates, except on the application of an employe. Of course, employes as a rule would not care to make such an application. Only a few would do so, and the history of unionism shows that the few often have to suffer for the many. I hope that the clause will be left out. I said on the second reading that I should vote to strike it out, and I shall keep my word.
Senate adjourned at 11.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 August 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090812_senate_3_50/>.