3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council be good enough to have exhibited in the chamber a map showing the land at Jervis Bay proposed to be handed over to the Commonwealth? It would be a great convenience if a map, even on a small scale, were exhibited ; it would facilitate the discussion of an amendment which I intend to move.
– I shall endeavour to obtain, as early as possible, a map on the lines indicated by the honorable senator.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Quarantine Act 1908. - New Regulation 54. (Provisional). - Statutory Rules, 1909, No. 100.
Bounties Act 1907. - Cancellation of Regulations 20-28 (Statutory Rules, 1908, No. 69), and substitution of new Regulations 20-22 in lieu thereof.- Statutory Rules, 1909, No. 103.
Lands Acquisition Act1906. - Weston, New South Wales : Post Office.- Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Public Service Act 1902. - Documents in connexion with the appointment of Major A. J. Pinchen to the position of Assistant Military Engineer, Public Works Branch, Central Staff, Department of Home Affairs.
International Conference on Leprosy, held at Bergen, Norway, from 16th to 19th August, 1909; Report by Dr. Bull.
Transcontinental Railway Survey, Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta -
Instructions to the Engineers-in-Chief for Railways ;
Ministerial approval of the expenditure of the sum of£20,000;
Report by the Engineers-in-Chief, dated Melbourne, nth October, 1909.
Reply of the Minister of Trade and Customs to the question to be asked this day by Senator St. Ledger with regard to State Loans redeemed since Federation.
– I have received an intimation from Senator Pulsford that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate until to-morrow at 9 a.m., to discuss a subject, of urgent public importance, namely, “ The administration of the Department of Trade and Customs in regard to the duties on tobacco and on articles used therewith.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– A matter which involves tens of thousands of pounds of revenue may fairly be called a matter of urgency. Nevertheless, I am sorry to have had to move the adjournment of the Senate. I would not have done so but that I see no other way of putting the matter before the Chamber in the presence of the fact that my inquiries are mainly met by more or less Departmental bluff. It is not a matter of policy, but simply a matter of administration. Since Federation the Customs have delivered to the tobacco industry large quantities of dutiable goods without collecting any duty thereon, quite contrary, I am sure, to the intention of members of both Houses. Let me briefly explain the position. The importers of manufactured tobacco must pay a duty of £392 per ton. What the Australian manufacturer has to pat is divided into two portions. First he must pay Customs duty on the material which he uses, and then Excise duty on his product. The Customs duty comes to £224 per ton, but the Australian maker uses an average of 15 per cent. of Australian leaf, on which he pays no duty, so that the average amount of Customs duty which he pays is £190 per ton. Then he pays Excise duty on the completed product, that is £112, making a total of £302. Therefore, he is left with a margin of £90. That is the lowest estimate of the margin, because there are several other things up his sleeve. In the first place, unstemmed tobacco is subject to a reduction of £56 in the duty. In the second place, if the manufacturer makes his tobacco by hand, instead of by machine, he pays £28 per ton less Excise duty. In the third place, the margins between the duties on cigars and cigarettes are very much larger than in the case of tobacco. In the fourth place, the duty on imported tobacco is levied on the weight, “ including the weight of tags, labels, and other attachments,” whereas the local maker escapes by paying duty on the net weight. This last matter seems to be only a small one, but when the duties range up to some hundreds of pounds per ton, even this is of some value. Roughly, the industry may be said to work under cover of margins which range from £100 to £200 per ton; and if the quantity of product which the industry sells in Australia paid duty at the same rate as does the imported product, the revenue would benefit to the extent of between £400,000 and £500,000.
– And thus kill the Australian tobacco industry?
– I am not discussing that aspect of the matter. I do not say that the industry pockets this £400,000 or £500,000 - it may give it to the public for aught I know. But a position has been established by Parliament-
– A good position, too, from a Protectionist point of view.
– Undoubtedly it is. I am not quarrelling with that position to-day. I am merely attempting to show that a definite procedure hasbeen laid down by Parliament, and that the Customs administration are ignoring that procedure by heaping upon the tobacco industry favours the granting of which this Parliament has never sanctioned. That is the point to which I wish to direct special attention.
– The honorable senator is all right so long as he adheres to that point.
– That is the only point which I wish to make. The Australian tobacco industry is supposed to pay taxation in two forms - first, by way of Customs duties upon its materials, and, secondly, by way of an Excise upon its product. “But it is being permitted to escape a considerable proportion of the Customs duties to which it is liable, upon the ground that it is paying the Excise duty. That is to say, it is not being called upon to pay the whole amount of the duties chargeable under the Customs Tariff, simply because it is paying the duty which the law has declared it shall pay in the form of Excise upon its product. In this connexion, honorable senators should bear in mind the list which was read in the Senate a few days ago of the quantities of various ingredients which the industry is permitted to import free of duty. I need not recapitulate the items contained in that list. From the information which was given by the Minister of Trade and Customs, it appears that the weight of these goods reached no less than 530 tons. I would remind honorable senators that the duty properly chargeable upon these articles amounted to ^18,000, and, further, that if this weight of tobacco leaf had been used, in lieu of these substitutes, £79,000 more -would have been paid into the public Treasury.
– That is to say that that amount would have been paid in duty if no ingredients had been used at all?
– But no tobacco would have been smoked then.
– Very likely. But that is not my point. I wish to know where the Customs officials derive their authority to go behind the provisions of our Customs Tariff Act, and to deliver these goods to the tobacco industry free of duty. Section 24 of the Excise Act of 1901 reads -
Excisable goods and goods liable to duties of Customs may in prescribed cases and subject to the prescribed conditions, be delivered free of duty, or subject to such lower duty as may be prescribed for use in the manufacture of excisable goods.
I venture to say that no member of the Senate, or of the House of Representatives, ever anticipated that this innocent-looking provision would be used by the Customs authorities in the way that it has been used. I take it that it was accepted by all as a provision pertaining to an Excise duty, which was1 clearly the only charge intended to be levied. Let me now come to the Customs Act. Honorable senators know perfectly well that it is the wish of Parliament that that Act should be administered in a very stern spirit, and that wherever any question arises as to the amount of duty chargeable upon any commodity, the doubt must always be decided in favour of the Crown. Section 138 of the Customs Act reads -
If any goods enumerated in the Tariff are, or can be, classed under two or more names, headings, or descriptions, with a resulting difference as to duty, duty shall be charged when it is a difference between liability to, or freedom from, duty, and the higher or highest of the duties applicable shall be charged when it is a difference as to two or more duties.
It will be seen, therefore, that the instructions to our Customs officials, that the largest amount of duty must be collected, are emphatic. The next section reads -
Whenever any goods are imported which, in the opinion of the Minister, are a substitute for any dutiable goods, or are intended to be, or can be, used as such substitute, or for any purpose for which such dutiable goods can be used, or for any similar purpose, the Minister may, by Gazette notice, direct that such first mentioned goods shall be charged with the duty chargeable upon such dutiable goods, and the same shall be so charged accordingly.
That provision, too, is very clear and emphatic, and I should interpret it as meaning that if in the manufacture of tobacco a material is used which under the Customs Tariff Act is subject to a less duty thar is tobacco leaf, the duty which is chargeable upon tobacco leaf shall be levied upon the substitute for it. The Customs authorities, however, have not adopted that course. They have not even collected the smaller duty to which these goods are liable under our Customs Tariff, but have delivered them to the tobacco industry free. Now, the spirit in which that Act should be administered is well known to all of us, but I cannot illustrate it better than by. citing a Gazette notice which appeared on 15th November, 1901, within a few weeks of the introduction of the first Commonwealth Tariff. That notice reads -
By virtue of the powers conferred by section 139 of the Customs Act, I do hereby direct that “ Rice Straw “ shall be charged the same rate of duty as Broom Corn Millet, such “ Rice Straw” being, in my opinion, a substitute for Broom Corn Millet.
Now, broom corn millet and rice straw are very humble articles of commerce, but it will be seen that one of these articles was not permitted to escape duty by reason of the fact that it might be used in lieu of the other article. The Customs authorities have really condemned “their own administration ‘by making these concessions to the most highly protected industry in Australia, and by refusing to make similar concessions to other industries. If these can legally be made to the wealthy tobacco industry I should like to know why they cannot legally be made .to the less wealthy brewing industry, which not only pays the Excise chargeable upon its products, but also the duties which are levied upon sugar, beer, and hops, under our Customs Tariff. I freely admit that the Department has acted throughout in good faith, but I submit that the regulations which I have read are such that if the procedure which has been adopted in the case of the tobacco industry had been placed before Parliament, Parliament . would have negatived it. Parliament would have said that the Customs Tariff Act applied to these goods, and that the duties thereon must be collected; if, indeed, it did not say that the higher duties were to be levied. To me it seems that the Department of Trade and Customs itself is not quite sure of its ground, because honorable senators will remember that in reply to my question the Department appended a clause that was quite uncalled for, by way nf justification, saying that it must be remembered that these goods paid the Excise duty. But paying the Excise duty does not clear them from paying another duty which Parliament has said they must pay. I might as well engage a vehicle for a two-hours’ drive, paying by the hour, and then pay the man for the second hour, and refuse to pay for the first, on the ground that I had paid for the second. That seems to be the spirit observed by the Department of Trade and Customs in dealing with the tobacco industry. I suggest that the Minister should take this matter into very serious consideration. He should consider whether he has sufficient power to do what is being done. I would ask, further, as I asked briefly last week, that the whole matter should be put before the Minister’s colleague, the Attorney-General, for an expression of his opinion as to the legality or otherwise of what is being done. Even if the practice is found to be legal, I suggest .that something still remains for the Minister to consider.
[2.52]. - My honorable friend, Senator Pulsford, is reviving a very ancient question. I remember that, as Minister of Customs in the State of Victoria in 1895-6, I had to go very fully into the matter. After the most careful consideration I came to the conclusion that there was wisdom in making an exemption in favour of ingredients, such as is now being made by the Commonwealth. I can speak from personal knowledge only of the State ot Victoria, but we have also the experience of other States. Early in the history of the Commonwealth it was determined by the Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. Kingston, after very careful consideration, to exempt the ingredients used in the manufacture of tobacco from the payment of duty. As honorable senators are perhaps aware, the Excise Act 1901 provides that excisable goods and goods liable to duties of Customs may, in prescribed cases and subject to the prescribed conditions, be delivered free of duty, or subject to such lower duty as may be prescribed, for use in the manufacture of excisable goods.
– The Minister has said that his experience has satisfied him that the practice was a wise one. Was the practice in operation while he was Minister of Customs in Victoria?
– The tobacco manufacturers did not then use many of the ingredients which they now use.
– I am not saying that the ingredients used wen; exactly the same. I am talking of the principle which was followed in Victoria, and which has been followed in the Commonwealth.
– Were the ingredients exempt from duty before the honorable senator became Minister of Customs in Victoria; or did he exempt them?
– For the moment I am not quite sure. 1 only remember that the ingredients were exempt. After the introduction of the Commonwealth Tariff, Mr. Kingston, after full consideration of all the facts, recommended for the approval of the GovernorGeneral in Council that glucose, spirits, glycerine, liquorice, sugar, spice, starch, starch flour, cigarette paper, cork manufactured tips, flavouring essences, essential oils, and tags should be delivered free of duty for the manufacture of tobacco. In 1905 the whole question was reviewed by Sir William Lyne, who was then Minister of Trade and Customs, with the result that the previous policy was approved and certain other articles were added to the list of exemptions; namely, saccharine, dried orange peel, fruit juice, vaseline, and petroleum jelly.
– And “ any other articles that the Minister by Gasette notice may allow.”
– That may be.
– What has been the effect upon the profits of the tobacco manufacturers?
– I cannot say.
– Exceedingly favorable.
– I should think so. For every pound they made before, they must make ten now.
– I will, however, show what has been the effect upon the revenue. What has been done has been done, not merely as a matter of administration, as has been suggested, but also as a definite matter of policy. It has been done in accordance with the spirit of the policy of Protection which has been embodied in the Tariff. The result has been exceedingly satisfactory. I have not the statistics in regard to all the States. Exempting Queensland for the moment, there are employed in the tobacco industry in the other States something like 3,300 persons receiving a yearly wage of something like £220,000 or £230,000.
– Is that the result of allowing these goods to be imported free of duty?
– It is the result of encouraging the industry.
– Oh, yes.
– The encouragement of the industry was the distinct object and policy of our Tariff. The principle which has been followed is not a new one. It is a principle which was previously in force in some of the States. It is a principle which has been in force during the whole period of Federation. When my honorable friend, Senator Pulsford, says that Parliament knew nothing about what was done, I reply that the regulations to carry out this principle were, of course, laid upon the table of both Houses of Parliament in the ordinary way.
– The regulations were issued after the Tariff had been in force nearly twelve months, and were made retrospective.
– That may be ; but what my honorable friend says does not affect the argument that I am putting before the Senate. When the regulations were laid upon the table of the Senate, it was competent for any senator to. take exception to them.. They were tabled in 1902. The honorable senator then had the fullest opportunity of saying whether, in his opinion, the principle followed was a sound or a wrong one. Since that time, moreover, Parliament has revised the Tariff.
– And increased the protection to the tobacco manufacturers.
– Exactly ; and my honorable friend, Senator Pulsford, must have been fully aware, if he interested himself in the subject, that these ingredients had been previously exempted from duty by Mr. Kingston, Sir William Lyne, and other Ministers of Trade and Customs.
– They were good Protectionists.
– Precisely. The point is this - that, with a full knowledge of this principle, which, as I have said, has been observed since the commencement of Federation, Parliament, in 1908, granted increased Protection, to this same industry. It is, therefor, idle for Senator Pulsford at this juncture to be complaining. What we have done was done with deliberation, and in the light of day.
– It means a loss of revenue.
– I admit no loss of revenue. These ingredients are, moreover, exempted in accordance with the British practice.
– There is no British practice. The honorable senator will next cite Scripture in support of his argument.
– I might easily do so, because the principle is a just one. In the United Kingdom spirits and sugar are delivered for the purpose of the manufacture of tobacco free of duty.
– Yes, but there is one big Excise duty in Great Britain.
-I am talking of the principle, and my honorable friend cannot get away from that. In Great Britain also certain ingredients which are not dutiable, are used, as in our case, in the manufacture of tobacco. So we, adopting the British practice, are allowing the ingredients to come in free of duty. If the ingredients were charged duty in the ordinary way, they would have to pay£18,000 or£19,000, but as our practice is to charge on the weight of tobacco, the ingredients having been put into the article, and being necessary for the purpose of making it smokable-
– What nonsense !
– The ingredients are used to make the article more palatable.
– I am only giving my honorable friends the benefit of expert advice. These ingredients, I am advised, are essential to making tobacco smokable. As the tobacco is charged by the gross weight the extra Excise duty which goes to the revenue, is estimated at £60,000. It will be seen that we realize three times the duty which would otherwise be charged.
– Has Parliament singled out this industry for special protection?
– Not in this way.
– In view of many years’ experience, I think it would be unwise to disturb a practice which is working well, and I think, satisfactorily. It is founded on experience, and no just reason has been put forward why it should be disturbed. Of course, if my honorable friends think that it will be fair and just to alter the practice, and incidentally to aim a blow at the industry, that is another matter. It is probable that the consumer would be the first to suffer. I do not know that my honorable friend made any other statement which calls for comment or remark. I think that as Parliament acted with its eyes open it would be very unwise to disturb the present arrangement.
– I think that not only the Senate, but the public generally, ought to be grateful to Senator Pulsford for stating the position as he has done.
– I could not understand him.
– Probably before the discussion is closed the honorable senator will understand the position. I, as a Protectionist, desire that a protected industry should treat every other industry fairly. The tobacco industry is not the only one we have. When the Minister was referring to the remission of” duties on ingredients used in England by tobacco manufacturers, I was surprised that he did not recognise the difference between England and Australia. Take, for instance, sugar. England is not a sugar-producing country ; but, as every one knows, Australia is. In view of the amount of protection which is afforded to tobacco manufacturers, if they pass by white-grown sugar, and use sugar grown by black labour in Mauritius or Java or China, and get a remission of the duty, it is a mean and contemptible action on their part. I ask Senator W. Russell to look at the matter from that aspect.
– I am following the honorable senator.
– Again we are told that a large quantity of spirits is used in the manufacture of tobacco. Apart from the question as to whether that is necessary or not, Australia is a great spiritproducing country, and for an industry which is protected as well as is the tobacco industry to use foreign spirits on which the duty is remitted is contemptible.
– The honorable senator is assuming too much when he assumes that the tobacco manufacturers go beyond Australia for their spirits.
– I have been informed that they do, and that is why I protest. If the Excise duty on spirits were remitted I would have no objection. But if our tobacco manufacturers import their spirits and so deal unfairly with the local distillers, I object.
– That is another matter altogether.
– It all bears on the same question. The Minister has stated that if these ingredients were not used the tobacco would not be smoked in Australia. That is nonsense, as I am sure he knows. On board a man-of-war leaf is served out to the sailors, who manufacture tobacco without using molasses or spirits, or liquorice or printer’s ink, or any of the other numerous ingredients which are used by the Australian manufacturers, and theirs is better smoking tobacco than is the Australian article. Those who are prepared to use cheap ingredients and palm their article on to the public as the “ real Mackay “ continually tell members of
Parliament that the people would not have the article unless they did use the ingredients, and that they are only trying to suit the public taste. Why do tobacco manufacturers use such ingredients as_ liquorice or spirit or sugar, or any other cheap article? Is it done to suit the public taste? On the contrary, is it not done in order to get a larger profit? When it is mentioned that they would have to pay from lod. to is. 6d. or is. 10d. for leaf, cannot the Minister see the object of the tobacco manufacturers? It is they who create the public taste. In the navy no adulterants are used in the manufacture of tobacco, and it is more wholesome and more palatable than the adulterated article which is jut on to the Australian market. 1 object to the local makers getting any remission of duty when it is detrimental to the productions of other industries. More attention ought to- be paid to the manufacture of tobacco and other articles here than is now paid; In the interests of the consumers an investigation should be made into the accuracy of the - statements of manufacturers who use cheap ingredients. I think that Senator Pulsford is to be thanked for the action which he has taken. If he did not take this step seven years ago, probably it was because the remission of duty did not seem to him or any one else such a grievous crime as it now appears to be.
– I do not know that I altogether take the view which Senator Pulsford did. I am not so much concerned with the question whether the importer is to be put to a disadvantage, as compared with the local manufacturer.
– Oh, no ; I only explained the position under the law, and showed that the administration had gone beyond it.
– I wish to put the position to Protectionists. Do they not think that they are doing an injustice to a number of other industries just as deserving as the tobacco industry? The fact that the latter is rapidly eliminating oversea competition shows that the Tariff is amply protecting it. But how does it treat other industries? I venture to say that Australia, the home of the vine, can produce as good spirits as can any other country. Spirits are sold as cheaply here as elsewhere. Yet ihe tobacco industry imported 12,000 odd gallons of spirits in one year. Why ? Simply in order that they might obtain a cheaper and probably inferior spirit from outside the ‘Commonwealth. In doing that they injure an established local industry. When we were dealing with Ihe Tariff Senator Findley put up a good fight, and succeeded in getting a high duty on liquorice imposed in order to assist the manufacture of confectionery. Why should not the tobacco manufacturers use locally made liquorice? Will the Protectionists here say that it is an inferior article? Will they contend that the tobacco manufacturers should be encouraged to go outside the Commonwealth for liquorice? If they .do, look at the position into which they force themselves. According to that argument the local boot manufacturer should get his leather duty free. If the local tobacco manufacturer is to get spirits and liquorice duty free, why should not ihe local boot manufacturer get his leather duty free? Why, too, should not the leather manufacturer get his hides duty free? Although we have a starch industry which is competing successfully against the imported article, yet tobacco manufacturers imported 1,120 lbs. of starch. Again, we have paid a very high price to establish a sugar industry, yet the tobacco manufacturers, in order to avoid paying a higher price in the Commonwealth, imported 184 tons of sugar. According to the Minister, we cannot even produce the little tin tags which are put on the tobacco; We are told that if we produce these articles and compel the tobacco manufacturers to use them, we shall ruin the tobacco industry. That . is the most peculiar Protectionist argument that I have ever heard. Not many years ago the honorable senator told us that Protection cheapened prices. If Protection does not raise prices then there is no need to allow tobacco manufacturers to import these ingredients duty free.
– The practice has been followed for the last seven or eight years.
– The question has been raised quite, recently by Senator Pulsford, and if Parliament thinks it is a reversal of a good policy, it does not matter whether the practice has prevailed’ for seven or twenty-seven years. The tobacco manufacturers also use imported’ cork, although there is a factory in this city which is supplying cork in various forms to other industries. Although we can manu- facture paper in the Commonwealth, yet the tobacco manufacturers imported no less than £2,272 worth. I venture to think that millions of tags could be purchased for £100. In one year no less than £1,797 worth of tags was imported, and probably the tobacco manufacturers had them printed outside the Commonwealth in order to dodge giving work to the local printers. This practice is resorted to by manufacturers who are making an immense fortune. There are no manufacturers in the whole gamut of protected industries who are making as large profits as they are. It is also questionable whether these ingredients are required. On that point the Tobacco Commission took evidence. Our information was that in England none of these flavourings are used. Practically the only ingredients which are used there are sugar and water and in some cases spirits. English manufacturers do not use essences, petroleum jelly or starch. Perhaps the Minister will admit that Mr. William ‘Cameron is one of the best authorities on tobacco manufacture in the Commonwealth. Prior to the formation of the Trust he was a leading manufacturer, and he is now a director of that body. On page 254 of the report of the Tobacco Commission, he is reported to have given-after referring to the list of articles imported duty free, the list referred to by Senator Pulsford - the following evidence in reply to myself : -
Do you use imported sugar? - I think that that question again trenches upon private matters, and I decline to answer it.
If these ingredients were necessary, if there was nothing to hide in connexion with their use, why. should he call it a private matter ? If their use be necessary, in order to flavour tobacco, why did not this gentleman frankly say so? I then asked him -
I suppose you recognise all the articles contained in that answer? -
His reply was -
I recognise them all.
I further put it to him -
Are they all necessary in the process of manufacturing tobacco?-
To that, his reply was -
I would rather not say.
Why would he “ rather not say?” If the, are necessary to the manufacture of tobacco, why did he not give a straight-out affirmative reply? Later on, Senator
Findley asked him - as will be seen by reference to question 5554 -
Do you not think that the difference in the flavour of Australian tobacco, as compared with English, is due to the fact that you use seasonings ?
To that the witness replied by inquiring as to what was meant by “seasonings.” Senator Findley then enumerated under that heading, spirits, glycerine, liquorice, sugar, starch, orange peel, flavouring essences, essential oils, and petroleum jelly, and inquired whether the fact that tobacco manufactured in Australia is seasoned or adulterated, whereas the tobacco produced in England is not so seasoned, did not explain why a taste had been created for the Australian article. The reply of the witness was -
I do not think so. As- far as my knowledge goes, I deny that there are any injurious effects from the materials used in the manufacture of tobacco here, and I may add that in years past examinations of my father’s tobacco showed that it was one of the purest tobaccoes ever made.
Mr. Cameron was then further examined as follows : -
Are you aware that in England, ingredients such as those used here, are not allowed to be employed, that the only ingredient permitted is water? - I am.
Would not that to a great extent be the reason for your opinion regarding the flavour of Australian tobacco? - I have never understood the reason why they do not allow other materials to be used in England.
Why are these seasonings used in Australia? - I do not know, except that the Australian climate, being dry, materials must be used in manufacturing tobacco, to keep it moist. These ingredients, to a certain extent, keep it moist.
I pursued a little inquiry upon this subject on my own account, and I will tell honorable senators the real reason why these ingredients are used in the manufacture of tobacco. The tobacco leaf, when it is sold, is quite dry. But it is of a spongy character, and is therefore placed in a steam box where it is able to absorb water to an extent almost equivalent to the weight of the leaf itself. The problem which then faces the manufacturer is, “How much of that moisture can I retain in the leaf, whilst still producing a tobacco which, in our warm climate, will not develop a fungoid growth, and thus spoil?” The manufacturers have discovered that by the introduction of spirits, liquorice, starch, petroleum jelly, &c, they can counteract the .development of fungoid growth, whilst at the same time putting a tremendous quantity of moisture into their tobacco. So that these ingredients are not at all necessary to the flavouring of the tobacco, but are used merely for the purpose of enabling manufacturers to sell moisture in lieu of leaf. To assist in bringing about that result, the Customs authorities are permitting them to introduce these commodities free of duty.
– But my honorable friend must know that they use a large quantity of local products.
– They also use a large quantity of water. The industry is flourishing, and, in my opinion, the time has arrived, when, if their patriotism does not induce them to use Australian sugar and Australian leaf, the Government should, by means of a Gazette notice, withdraw the privilege which has hitherto been extended to them. By so doing, no injury will be inflicted upon the smoking community.
– The honorable senator does not mind the remission of the Excise upon spirits used in the manufacture of tobacco?
– That is what we do.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs fell into an error there. He declared that if duty were ultimately charged upon the weight of the manufactured article these commodities did not escape taxation.
– But should we not otherwise get the Excise just the same ?
– Of course. The bulk of our Australian tobacco is composed of one-half imported leaf, and one-half locally-grown leaf. The imported leaf pays a duty of is. 9d. per pound. But, later, it is manufactures into tobacco, and in that form also pays “the Excise duty. So that, if the tobacco industry abandoned th-i use of all these ingredients, their place would be taken by imported leaf and Australian leaf in equal proportions ; therefore, we should still collect the same amount of Customs duty, plus the Excise dirty. The result would, in that case, be more beneficial to the public revenue.
– The “Minister of Trade and Customs never fairly faced the position which I put in reference to this matter. T emphasized the fact that the Customs administration was unfair, in that whilst it allowed the wealthiest industry in Australia to import large quantities of various com modities free of duty, it refused to extend a similar concession to the brewing industry. The Minister did not think it well to reply to that aspect of the matter.
– I replied that what was being done had the sanction of Parliament.
– I absolutely dispute that statement. I say further that Parliament might .never have known what was taking place. I am sorry that the question of Protection in any shape or form has been introduced into this debate. In my opening remarks I pointed out that Parliament had placed the tobacco industry in a certain position, and that it had accorded to it a very lavish measure of Protection. I complained that our Customs administration exceeded the provisions of our Customs Act by granting concessions of which Parliament knew absolutely nothing. The Minister of Trade and Customs has referred to the practice which existed in Victoria prior to Federation. He may have been familiar with the course which has been adopted, but I say that when the Customs Tariff Bill was before Parliament, there should have been a Ministerial explanation of it. We ought to have been told that if we adopted the proposals then put before us, we should be called upon to sacrifice a great many thousands of pounds of the public revenue. 1 had not then the remotest idea that it was intended to adopt the course which has been followed. I would further point out that the Gazette notice making these regulations operative is dated 4th July, 1002, and that it is made retrospective as from 9th October of the previous year. In other words, for ten months after the introduction of the Tariff, on the 8th October, 1901, the tobacco industry was allowed to import these commodities free without the knowledge of Parliament. That is not right. There is no honorable senator who has a greater esteem for the head of the Customs Department than I have. I think that the Commonwealth has every reason to be proud of having a man of Dr. Wollaston’s parts. But I say that he has made a mistake, and that successive Ministers of Trade and Customs have made a mistake. It was only after the lapse of several years that I discovered that this procedure was being adopted, although I am pretty familiar with what is being done under our Customs laws. Upon every occasion that’ I have made an inquiry in reference to it, I have been met with more or less bluff. Only last week, the Minister of Trade and Customs urged the same view which he has urged to-day, namely, that because these commodities are included in the weight of tobacco upon which duty is ultimately paid, they therefore pay the duty. I would also direct attention to the fact that the honorable gentleman did not reply to my suggestion that the matter, as one of law, should be brought under the notice of the Attorney-General. I would again impress upon him the desirableness of taking that step.I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minis ter of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In connexion with the case of the claim of Captain and Honorary Major Carroll for recognition of promotion in South Africa -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1, 2, and 3. The promotion of all Australian officers in South Africa was officially recognised by either the State Government or by the Commonwealth Government, responsible as the case may be, for the despatch of such officers to South Africa.
All officers and men who served in South Africa were under the control of the Imperial Authorities.
It has. already been pointed out that -
Tank, as brevet rank, in the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
Prior to the Cabinet decision of 30th April, 1902, 29 of these were permitted to retain the higher rank held by them in South Africa, as brevet rank in the Military Forces of the Commonwealth; in the remaining cases (211) and which were dealt with subsequent to the date of the decision referred to, they were permitted to retain the higher rank as honorary rank.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In reference to the reply given by the Minister to SenatorPulsford on 7th inst. to the effect that, “ It is not considered that brewers are placed at any disadvantage as compared with tobacco manufacturers, who pay duty at tobacco rates on the weight of all articles used for the purpose of flavouring “ -
Is it not a fact that in the case of imported leaf, import duty has first to be paid on the leaf, and then excise duty on the manufactured article ?
Does any reason exist for differential treatment as between leaf and flavourings or preservatives ?
Is it not a fact that these ingredients are largely used for the purpose of enabling manufacturers to maintain a high percentage of moisture in manufactured tobacco, and to counteract the effect of such moisture on the keeping qualities of the tobacco?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 8th October, vide page 4327):
Clause 7 -
A person appointed to be the High Commissioner shall not, during his tenure of office, except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister be or act as director or agent of or hold any office in any company or syndicate whether incorporated or unincorporated or hold any other office or employment, whether within or without the Commonwealth.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.39]. - Everybody will admit that this is an exceedingly important and absolutely essential provision. I suggest that the prohibition should be absolute. It is a good and proper prohibition. No High Commissioner ought to be even within reach of temptation, or be placed in the position of having to ask the permission or authority of the Minister ; and the Minister ought not to be placed in the position of having to exercise any discretion in such a matter. Therefore, 1 trust that my honorable friend will see that it is desirable to make the prohibition absolute by striking out the words “except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister.” Then again, the words “ or hold any other office or employment “ require some definition to make them workable. For instance, there is such a position as that of a trustee. The High Commissioner might be appointed a trustee under a will or in connexion with the administration of some other affairs. I do not expect that it is intended to disqualify the holder of the office from accepting such a position. Trustees nowadays are permitted to receive emoluments. There used to be an idea that a trustee should not be paid, though he performed onerous duties.
– With regard to the last point raised by Senator Symon, I would point out that the deletion of the words ‘ ‘ or hold any other office or employment “ would have the effect of leaving the High Commissioner open to accept employment in connexion with a company.
– Of course that ought not to be.
– Such an amendment would leave an opening which would probably not be availed of freely. But still, we do not desire to leave an opening at all. The prohibition should be quite effective. I think it is necessary to retain the words. The difficulty suggested as to whether the term “ office “ is not loose, commends itself to me, but I can hardly suggest at the moment words which would, while preventing the High Commissioner from accepting outside employment, still leave him free to discharge such duties as those of trustee. I do not attach much importance to the words “ except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister,” because no Government would be likely to give its sanction to the High Commissioner acting in such a capacity unless under peculiar circumstances. For instance, a body might be formed for philanthropic purposes, but might consider it desirable to be incorporated as a company.
– Such a body would not be what we call a syndicate or company.
– It might be. I have in mind a case where a number of gentlemen for a purely philanthropic purpose decided to form a company. I attach very little importance to the retention of the words, though I cannot regard them as open to the objection suggested. If Senator Symon cares to move an amendment I shall not divide the Committee upon it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.48]. - I move -
That the words “ except as prescribed or allowed by the Minister” be left out.
I recognise the force of what has been said by the Vice-President of the Executive Council about philanthropic bodies. In South Australia, however, we incorporate such bodies as institutions; they are not called companies. We use the phrase “ Such and Such an Institution (Incorporated).” A company is a body which is incorporated for the purpose of gain. I thoroughly agree with my honorable friend, however, that it is absolutely laudable in every sense that this clause should be effectively carried out. With regard to the other point which I have raised, I suggest that if we leave out the words “office or” we shall avoid any trouble in connexion with a position of trustee or executor.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreedto.
That after the word “ hold,” line 6, the words “ or exercise “ be inserted ; and that the words “ office or,” line 7, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed from 8th October (vide page 4310), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill which we are now called upon to consider is in one sense rather peculiar. I do not know whether the attention of the President has been directed to it, but I anticipate that some difficulty may arise when we reach the Committee stage, unless a deficiency in the copies we have before us is in the meantime supplied. At the end of the Bill space is left for a first schedule. The words “text of agreement” are used, but no agreement is provided. I do not know whether Senator Millen has contemplated what may happen if he allows this Bill to get into Committee without bringing forward the agreement; but I venture to say, sir, that if you were appealed to on a point of order, you would hold thatthe agreement would not be within the scope of the Bill if it were sought to insert it at that stage. One can see, however, from reading the Bill through that the agreement mentioned is a vital part of it. We are, therefore, asked to pass the second reading of a Bill which at present does not contain a word of the essential agreement. The history of the negotiations has been sketched by the Vice- President of the Executive Council. Parliament declared that a certain area should contain the future Federal Capital’ city. The New South Wales Parliament have passed a series of resolutions intimating their willingness to hand over to the Federal Parliament an area, which, however, is not the territory that was asked for. The New South Wales Parliament practically say to the Federal Parliament, “ We are prepared to give you something that you did not ask for, and to refuse you something that you did ask for. “
– Is not New South Wales bound to give us all that we ask for?
– I hardly think that it is right to say that New South Wales has refused us what we asked for. The Parliament of that State has put forward an alternative, with the intimation that it is a suggestion only.
– Personally, I think that what New South Wales has offered is in some respects better than the territory recommended. But we are in this unfortunate position. On the map exhibited in the Senate Chamber is shown at a glance the request made by the Federal Government to the State Government, based on the advice of experts. On that map we see represented an area embracing the watershed of the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers. Those rivers are absolutely essential, not for the domestic supply of the Capital city, but for any water scheme which may be required to beautify the city - such as a supply for an artificial lake or anything of thatkind. The New South Wales Government say, “ Instead of giving you the watershed of the Molonglo and Queanbeyan rivers, we will give you water-rights over those areas.” Whatever they mean by water-rights is to be embodied in an agreement which the Government propose to make a schedule to this Bill. Obviously it is of first-rate importance that the Senate, before it agrees to accept another area than that recommended by experts, should know exactly how we stand, in regard to the Molonglo and Queanbeyan watersheds. Because, whilst we may be safeguarded with respect to the domestic supply furnished by the Cotter River, it is nevertheless very important that in a dry country like Australia, and especially in an inland district like YassCanberra, we should have such a supply of water available for beautification purposes as would enable the Capital city to be improved by artificial lakes. The Government say that what we have obtained from the New South Wales Government gives us that assurance. Let us consider what is offered. There is an agreement, some clauses of which are not yet finally drafted - a tentative agreement - which provides that the New South Wales Government undertake to give to the Commonwealth Government water-rights over the Molonglo and Queanbeyan areas. Now, I will put it to the lawyers in the Senate - whatis meant by water rights? Surely water rights over an area mean, amongst other things, the right to safeguard that area against pollution. Of course the matter of pollution is not of first importance when we are not dealing with a domestic supply. But if we are going to obtain water for beautification purposes we should have it as pure as possible, and it should not be allowed to be made turbid by means of disturbance or pollution. The filiate Government have police powers over all the water areas in that Territory. I take it, therefore, that they will have the right to say to a resident in a water-shed area, ‘ ‘ You shall not carry on an industry which will pollute the river or create a nuisance.” If they say that they hand over to the Commonwealth their powers in regard to water rights, does it mean that they surrender the power to intervene with a view to preventing the pollution of water ?
– Of course.
– That is what I should think it means, otherwise they give us nothing.
-Colonel Cameron. - If the water-rights are not absolute they will be of no use.
– That is my view of what is meant by a water-right. But by the speech of Senator Millen we are given to understand that it is something entirely different. He has outlined a proposal by which the police powers will remain with New South Wales, with an undertaking to the Commonwealth to protect the watersheds from pollution.
– Will the honorable senator point out what part of the Bill gives a water-right to the Commonwealth ?
– It will be given in the first schedule which has yet to be supplied.
– Then it is in the text of the agreement.
– Yes, I presume so. It is most unfortunate that it is not ready for submission to the Senate, because we are now discussing a very important feature in the dark.
– How can we well say that the agreement is to be ratified until we see it ?
– The substance of the agreement is now before the Senate.
– The substance of the agreement is based upon the resolutions carried in the State Parliament, four of which read as follow : -
That the right of the State to the use and control of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers and their tributaries, which are indicated on Mr. Scrivener’s plan and lie to the east of the Goulburn to Cooma railway, should be subject to the requirements of the Commonwealth.
That this State is prepared, if so desired by the Commonwealth Parliament, to reserve from sale or lease all Crown lands within the catch- ment areas of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers.
That this State should protect from pollution the waters of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers.
That- the State should surrender to the Commonwealth an area of about two square miles -at Jervis Bay.
Undoubtedly a question will arise at some time as to whether or not the waters have been or are being polluted. Who is to be the judge? Suppose that the Commonwealth authorities say that the water in a river is being polluted and call upon the State Government to exercise their power, and that the latter say that in their opinion the water is not being polluted. Cannot honorable senators see that immediately a cause of friction will arise between the two authorities ? One will have to be the judge of the question and the other the arbiter. Obviously, in such circumstances, an appeal would have to be made by the Commonwealth to the High Court.
– That applies to every clause in the agreement; for instance, to railway running rights.
– It does, but I do not think it should be allowed to apply more than is necessary. If New South Wales is really handing over to the Commonwealth the water-rights of this area it should hand over its police powers in regard to the water therein. But it is doing nothing of the kind. All that it undertakes to do is to exercise its police powers in the direction of seeing that there shall be no pollution of these waters.
– Does the State reserve to itself or to its settlers the right to use the waters of these rivers ?
– Subject, all through, to Commonwealth requirements.
– We shall have a repetition of the difficulty with regard to the use of the waters of the Murray River. The Constitution provides for a reasonable use et those waters provided that the interests of navigation are safeguarded. New South Wales and Victoria are using an ever and ever increasing quantity, and South Australia complains that those States are using such a quantity as to impair the navigability of the river. There we have the divided authority bringing about friction to such an extent that South Australia is about to appeal to ihe High Court to ascertain what is a reasonable use of the waters. I do not suggest that the Commonwealth should ask for the whole of the rights over the territory. I do not see any reason why we should stand by the Advisory Board’s proposition. We do not want to take in a greater area than is necessary for Commonwealth purposes. But if the Molonglo catchment area is desirable for the purpose of beautifying the city and providing a subsidiary supply for ornamental purposes New South Wales should be asked to surrender to trie Commonwealth the whole of its rights regarding the water. That would not, I should think, interfere with settlement in any way. It does seem peculiar to me that the State Government are undertaking to reserve from sale or lease all the Crown lands within the catchment area. If any honorable senator will look at the map on the wall he will see that the greater part of the area is already sold. I do not know what particular benefit there can be in retaining the little portion which is unsold. So far as 1 can see it might as well be sold. To retain the small white patches depicted on the left side of the map and keep them out of use does not seem to me to be a vital matter. If we are to accept the area we should have full police powers over the water, not a sort of divided control. In the past we have had a lot of friction. Surely it is well to avoid friction in future. If New South Wales is in earnest, as I believe it is; if it intends to keep these waters free from pollution, why should it not give the Commonwealth power to act in that direction? That would not interfere with the rights of the State, or with its extension or development. The Commonwealth would merely have that control over the citizens of New South Wales living on the water-shed area necessary to prevent the pollution of water. I am not asking for sovereign rights as regards the Molonglo River, nor do I think that they are necessary. What it is necessary to do is to take full power to prevent the pollution of water. I have read the correspondence on this question which has passed between the Commonwealth and New South Wales. Certainly the Premier of that State has climbed down considerably from the attitude which he assumed a year or two back. But in his letters there is still a tone which seems to indicate that we are acting the part of a suppliant. Take, for instance, his letter of the 26th September, dealing with the proposed alteration of the area. After recapitulating what has led up to the change, he says -
You may therefore alter the area in resolution (i) from 800 to 900 square miles, and add this further area to the same resolution.
I do not know that we need to ask permissive power from the Premier of New South Wales. Because that seems equivalent to saying to the Federal Government “ You may put forward a different area from that which we submit.” I think we already had the right to do that.
– In his speech he admitted that clearly. The offer, it must be remembered, bears upon” an agreement which is being drafted, and which will require two signatures.
– I have never wavered in my belief that Yass-Canberra is not the best site which could be chosen. I still believe, and will continue to believe, that Dalgety was by far the best site. I regret exceedingly that the last decision of the Senate has rendered the choice of Dalgety impossible. On a previous occasion I announced that I, as a member of the Fisher Government, was prepared to abide loyally by the choice of Parliament. But I do so with considerable misgiving, and also with a shade of annoyance, because in the New South Wales Parliament those of us who had been consistent believers in Dalgety were spoken of in a manner which I think was most insulting, which reflected very little credit on the users of the language, and which certainly did not give us any credit for honesty of purpose or sincerity. Here, for instance, is a statement which was made by a member of the Legislative Assembly -
We did not want the Capital site at Dalgety. No one wanted it there. Nobody ever seriously proposed that there should be a Capital site at Dalgety. The men who voted for Dalgety were voting for Melbourne, and nothing else, and everybody knew it, except my honorable friend who refuses to know it.
That was regrettable language for a member of the State. Parliament to use, because it was absolutely incorrect.
– By whom was it used ?
– It was used by Mr. W. A. Holman, a leading member. He ought to have been ashamed of himself when he made” the statement, because it was casting a serious reflection upon a large number of the members of this Parliament, including those who subordinated their better judgment in order to bring about a settlement of this question. Again we find this gentleman urging the Premier of New South Wales to accept an alternative amendment, and that was to offer to the Commonwealth either the area proposed by the Government or the area which Mr. Scrivener and others outlined. Practically he said, “ The people in the’ Federal Parliament are not in earnest, and if you give them a pretext they will use it as a means of delaying the settlement of the question.” That was a slander on this Parliament. I do not believe that there are half-a-dozen members in either House who do not sincerely desire to bring about an early settlement. There are some who have openly stated that in their opinion the time for establishing a Federal capital is premature, buteven these I contend have been honest in voting for the selection of a site. They did not all vote for Dalgety. Some of those who voted for Yass-Canberra were not in favour of an’ immediate settlement of the question. I believe that those who voted for Dalgety honestly believed that it was the best site which could be chosen. The Vice-President of the Executive Council did not tell the Senate the reasons which impelled the New South Wales Government to withdraw the Molongloand Queanbeyan area from the offer. He certainly indicated that in that area there was not the value for Federal purposes which we might anticipate, but we have not heard any adequate reasons for the withdrawal of it. I know that it would add considerably 1o the cost if we had to re-purchase the privately-owned lands in the area. That is one reason why I am prepared to wait, but that is not put forward as a reason.
– I gave two principal reasons.
– I’ do not remember any.
– First, it made a more shapely territory; and secondly, it left a State railway outside the Federal territory.
– I read the report of the debate in the State Parliament, but I did not observe that any reasons were given for the course proposed. There seemed to be an understanding which wa& not expressed. In this Bill there is no mention of territory for a railway line toJervis Bay or of territory at that place. One of the reasons which induced some honorable senators to vote for YassCanberra was the possibility of an undertaking that the Federal capital would have an outlet to Jervis Bay, and an area on its shore. But no provision of that kind is made in the Bill. We can only assume that the two things will be provided for in the agreement. We have been supplied with papers which show that an area of two square miles at Jervis Bay is proposed to be surrendered. But if honorable senators will turn to the map they will observe how small that area is. Owing to the contour of the bay there will be less than three-quarters of a mile between the shore and the back of the area to be surrendered for a port. That is altogether inadequate. 1 have circulated an amendment dealing with that proposition, because I think that if we are in earnest we should have such an area as would enable the Commonwealth to have a port of some extent, leaving room for development. At present the Bill is silent on that point. I can only assume that before we reach the Committee stage we shall have an opportunity to consider the question. I shall not further debate the Bill. Provided that the Government see that the Commonwealth is granted the necessary police powers to enable it to protect the waters of the Queanbeyan and other rivers from pollution, I think that the position which has been put before us by the New South Wales Government is a better one than is that which was first submitted by the Advisory Board. I shall require to be satisfied upon the point beforeI vote for the third reading of the Bill.
– Is the honorable senator satisfied as to the adequacy of the water supply?
– I think so. I was one of those who were sceptical upon that point, and I attacked the supposed defect rather vigorously. The result of that attack has been the submission of further reports, which are of an eminently satisfactory character. These reports come from reliable sources, and we must assume that no State Government would allow reports of a misleading nature to be placed in our hands. The reports assure us that the water supply at Yass-Canberra is ample for all purposes.
– But it is not proposed to grant the Commonwealth control over all sources of supply there.
– The evidence is that from the Cotter River alone we can obtain sufficient water by means of gravi tation to supply the requirements of a population of 200,000, and that by means of a pumping scheme we could obtain sufficient to supply a population of more than 600,000.
– That is assuming that each unit consumed double the quantity that is consumed by the citizens of Melbourne and Sydney.
– Yes. In the face of these figures; nobody can deny that the question of the water supply has been satisfactorily disposed of. I have no option, therefore, but to support the second reading of the Bill, and to leave other matters to be cleared up in Committee.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.23]. - I think that this Bill is of sufficient importance to merit debate, with a view to assisting, as far as possible, in advancing the question of the selection of the Federal Capital site, at least one stage further. I approach the consideration of the measure without any such misgivings or regrets as seem to affect the mind of Senator Pearce. As honorable senators are aware, some years ago I favoured the selection of Dalgety, but, after an honest and exhaustive attempt to justify my vote in that connexion, and after an inspection of the Canberra site, I came to the conclusion that it was the better one.
– Better than Dalgety?
– Infinitely. I am sorry that that remark should astonish my honorable friend, but it expresses my opinion. In supporting the proposal to advance this question one step further, with a view to removing it from the Commonwealth political atmosphere, where it has been somewhat of an irritant for a long while, I have no regrets as to the past, and no apprehension as to the future. At the same time, I am sorry we have not before us, in the first schedule to the Bill, the agreement with New South Wales, which we are expected to ratify and confirm. Doubtless we shall have it before us prior to the Bill being advanced beyond its present stage. Certainly we ought to have it, before we get beyond the title of the Bill in Committee, because it is scarcely reasonable to ask us to confirm, an agreement which we have not seen. One does not like to apply the common expression in reference to buying a pig in. a poke to the action of the Government, but that is what my honorable friend, the VicePresident of the Executive Council, with all his great eloquence and with that persuasiveness ofwhich he is a master, is asking us to do. I would urge him to get this omission from the first schedule of the Bill rectified, so that we may have before us the instrument which we shall ratify and confirm by giving our assent to the second reading of this measure. I do not know whether we shall be able to make amendments in the agreement in Committee, or whether we shall be expected to swallow it holus-bolus, as honorable members are expected to swallow another agreement elsewhere.
– The right of the Senate to do what it chooses is unquestioned. But the advisableness of doing what the honorable senator has suggested is quite another matter.
– My honorable friend will not think that I am an enemy of the Government if I suggest certain modifications in the agreement?
– I shall never regard a suggestion emanating from the honorable senator as other than a friendly one.
– The question of the water-rights which it is proposed to grant to the Commonwealth is one. which requires very grave consideration. I understand that the Advisory Board have recommended that the area indicated in the plan hanging in the most easterly position in the chamber should be handed over to the Commonwealth. The area includes Canberra, and the portion resembling a human leg in shape, without the thigh, embraces the bed of the Cotter River. I confess that I do not like the area, which resembles a horseshoe. I think it would be better to have a more compact area, such as is indicated in the plan which is suspended on the wall of the Senate to the west of the other diagram. But there can be no doubt that the acceptance of the area shown in the other map will most effectually prevent the possibility of doubt and friction arising hereafter in regard to our water rights. My belief is that the reports which have been submitted to us may be absolutely relied upon, so that we need entertain no fear that we cannot secure an abundant water supply for domestic use from the Cotter River alone. That being the case, the other sources of supply within that area are really in the nature of a reserve sup ply. To some extent, that mitigates any apprehensions which we might otherwise have in regard to our acceptance of the area which has been offered to us by the New South Wales Parliament - a compact area which does not embrace the Molonglo watershed - in preference to the area that has been outlined by the Advisory Board, which will give us, in addition to the Capital site, the other rivers which have been mentioned.
– The latter scheme alone will give the Commonwealth absolute control over the area surrendered to it.
– I am rather inclined to take that view myself. I am not quite satisfied as to the precise language which is to be employed in transferring to the Commonwealth the area and rights which it is proposed to transfer. From the second resolution of the State Parliament it would appear that State sovereignty, and the exclusive use and control of the rivers included in the area not actually to be transferred to the Commonwealth, are to be retained by New South Wales. State sovereignty, and, what is of more importance, the riparian rights of settlers along the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers, are to be absolutely preserved to New South Wales. Senator Pearce has referred to the question of the pollution of the waters of these streams, which is a very important one. If these rivers flow through federal territory, the Commonwealth would have the common-law right to prevent their pollution in the absence of any special statutory provision. A settler on the banks of one of these streams would have the right to protect himself against the pollution of the water by a settler higher up. The Commonwealth water rights will have to be clearly defined ; otherwise a joyful vista of litigation may be opened up, which, in some quarters, would be deplored. The difficulty which I see is that most of the land contained in these watershed areas, appears to have been alienated by New South Wales. In that case, every owner of land abutting on these streams will have his boundary represented by the centres of the channels.
– Not in New South Wales.
– Has that law been repealed?
– Under a law of quite recent date, the edge of the channel, and not the middle of the stream, has been fixed as the boundary.
– Has that law been operative as to the past, because it is difficult to believe that it has been made retrospective, thus taking away from owners old rights, without granting them compensation?
– My honorable friend may accept my assurance that it is so.
– I do. The circumstance merely shows what a patriotic lot of settlers there are in New South Wales, seeing that they are prepared to part with their rights for nothing. New South Wales has been cruelly maligned in the past ; and I am glad to know that she is to be rehabilitated in the eyes of the nation. The statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council certainly gets rid of the stronger point which I was suggesting. But if the settlers have a right to use the land alongside these streams, to the edge of the channel, they also have a right to use the water which flows past their property.
– Then they have the right to use the streams for domestic purposes and watering their cattle.
– They have, subject only to a permission which is granted under licence.
– In respect of anything beyond a domestic supply ?
– For irrigation purposes a licence has to be obtained.
– That necessarily would be so. But the Commonwealth, as a legal entity, would be entitled to protect itself by the ordinary legal machinery from interference with its right to a pure and abundant supply of water from the upper streams of the territory. Whatever rights it may be granted in the waters coming down these rivers, will be subject to the present riparian rights of the settlers along them, even in the restricted way to which the VicePresident of the Executive Council has directed attention. But those rights exist. The power and control of the State over that area would not be diminished, and those rights could not be interfered with. That is a point which will have to be considered. The Bill declares that this general control should be “ subject to the requirements of the Commonwealth.” If that expression be properly defined, it may be used in the agreement, and in the subsequent legisla tion enacted by the Commonwealth and New South Wales Parliaments with a view to preventing difficulty arising hereafter. Unless that is done, I shall pause before assenting to an agreement which is couched in such general terms. Our consolation, however, is that this is merely one step towards the final settlement of this question. I take it that unless the agreement is much more clearly defined than I anticipate it will be, a good many more steps will be necessary before we actually settle the title of the Commonwealth to this territory, and determine the rights which are to be conferred upon it, especially in relation to. this reserve water supply. I hope that the agreement will be of a very definite character in respect of what is meant by “ the requirements of. the Commonwealth.” Unless those words are clearly defined, the question of what are the requirements of the Commonwealth will always be a matter for judicial determination. In South Australia at the present time we are experiencing great difficulty with New South Wales and Victoria in regard to the use of the Murray waters. We know that in the Constitution an attempt was made to introduce a satisfactory definition. We thought we used terms that were clear enough. The expression used in one section was that “ fair and reasonable use “ of the waters for conservation and irrigation on the part of any States interested was not to be interfered with. On the other hand, we contemplated that we had provided for the maintenance of the navigability of the River Murray. In my view, whilst irrigation is in this country of more importance than navigability in some respects, still South Australia is entitled to have the navigability of the River Murray maintained in its fullest sense. I therefore think that the term “ fair and reasonable use “ of the waters of the river for irrigation must be interpreted by reference to that just right on the part of South Australia. I mention that simply for the purpose of showing that, although at the moment, for the purpose of adopting a course of action which may be in the best interests of Australia, we may be content with words which have a merely pious significance - such as “ fair and reasonable” and “just requirements of the Commonwealth “ - still that will not be enough to insure the National water-rights in respect of this area unless more accurate and precise definitions are adopted. Therefore, whilst I am quite prepared to discuss this measure in a general way, I realize that we are discussing it under difficulties when we have not the agreement before us. We cannot deal freely with what the Government desire us to do with any great confidence until we know what we are going to do. The fourth clause in the resolutions of the NewSouth Wales Parliament provides that the State shall protect from pollution the waters of the Molonglo and Queanbeyan rivers. As I have said, when the Commonwealth becomes the owner of the lands through which these rivers eventually flow, it would be entitled to protect itself against the pollution of them by proprietors of land in their upper courses. But there can be no objection to taking, at the same time, an obligation from the State of New South Wales in aid of our right to protect the rivers from pollution. Then the Commonwealth would have two strings to its bow. It would have its ordinary common-law remedy of protecting from pollution the waters which come to it, and also a remedy against New South Wales if that State did not do its duty in discharging the condition contained in the resolution to which I have alluded. But the Senate may very well be careful as to the so-called waterrights, to see that they are properly defined. As every lawyer knows, there is no more difficult and troublesome branch of the law than that which has regard to water-rights. I may add that there is no branch of the law which is more ill-defined and more difficult to pronounce an opinion upon. Therefore, I suggest to my honorable friend in charge of the Bill that before he goes any further he should get the Attorney-General, Mr. Glynn - who is very conversant with this question of water-rights by reason of his exhaustive and able investigation of the River Murray matter - to consider carefully the question which has been raised bv Senator Pearce, with whose caution I entirely agree. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, with the advice of Mr. Glynn, should be able to satisfy us that precision and clearness have been obtained to such an extent that the possibilities ‘of litigation and trouble with New South Wales are avoided. It would be a very great pity if we adopted an agreement which would be provocative of a long and bitter dispute, which might keep open the Capital site question for generations to come. As to the other matter raised by Senator Pearce, affecting Jervis Bay, whilst I have no objection to the residents in the Federal Capital area having access to a seaport or a watering-place not too far away, still I never have entertained the view that it is necessary that the Capital of the Commonwealth of Australia should be a seaport town. I do not believe that it should. I like the idea of having our Capital well in the interior of the country. I have never been much moved by the argument that the Capital city should be a great commercial port. But, at the same time, I agree with my honorable friend that if there is to be access to Jervis Bay, the agreement should insure us “control over the line of communication - that is, a railway - to the Bay. I cannot at present go quite so far as my honorable friend does in suggesting that an amendment should be made providing that a considerable area at Jervis Bay should be handed over as part of the Federal territory. I have no objection to that if the New South Wales Government chooses to agree to it. But I doubt whether I should be prepared to force such a demand upon them just now.’ It is enough for us to get the Federal territory. If we can, in addition, agree that we shall obtain access to the seaboard, that may be quite sufficient for our purpose. Possibly, a Commonwealth wharf would be useful, but I should be very sorry indeed to see a sort of commercial adjunct to the Federal Capital . established at Jervis Bay. I want the Federal Capital to be far removed from the possibility of bombardment from the sea, and I do not want to see anything like a commercial port established in connexion with it. It would be a misfortune to have a port under the control of the Federal Parliament. These are all the observations I wish to make. If a division is to be taken on ‘the second reading now, I shall only consent to it with the reservation that the agreement must be discussed in its details, and be subject to amendment, if necessary, when we get into Committee. But I should very much prefer that, before we adopt the second reading, and in principle ratify the agreement, we should enjoy the humble privilege of knowing what the agreement we are adopting really is.
– I have always believed that the sooner the Capital site question is settled the better it will be for the Commonwealth. I have always approved of the idea of having the Capital entirely separate and apart from any of our great commercial centres, and entirely free from influence by any particular State. The Commonwealth Parliament should not be dominated by the feelings aroused in any State, or in the metropolis of any State.
– The honorable senator is not dominated by any such consideration.
– It is very possible that Senator Dobson would not find himself where he now is but for the influence of the metropolitan press of Melbourne. He is, if I may use such an expression, merely a puppet in the hands of the leading newspapers, and they move him about like a pawn on a chess-board. Finally they have planted him behind the Fusion Government, and have left him without a will of his own. On previous occasions I expressed myself strongly in favour of the selection of Dalgety.
– The honorable senator did not vote for Dalgety.
– Ifhe honorable senator wishes to fire off interjections at me he will probably get a Roland for his Oliver which he will not appreciate. I consider that Dalgety was the best site offered in New South Wales. I was largely influenced in favour of that view by the fact that Dalgety unquestionably has an unrivalled water supply. There is no other river in New South Wales which can compare with the Snowy as a source of water supply for a great city. The Snowy River at Dalgety comes down in great volume from the Snowy Mountains, and furnishes a copious supply of the priest and best water. Another recommendation which weighed with me was that Dalgety is situated in what is at present, comparatively speaking, a wilderness, though a country capable of development in the highest degree. I believe that if Dalgety had been selected it would havemeant adding a new province to Australia. It would have completely opened up the south-eastern corner of New South Wales and the north-eastern corner of Victoria. Thus an advantage would have been conferred on the whole Commonwealth. A population of 250,000 would probably have teen settled in that locality within a comparatively short time. But the Federal Parliament having decided to adopt another area, I shall not offer any factious opposition to thepassage of this Bill. After voicing my opinion I shall do all I can to enable the measure to become law. Looking over the papers which have been circulated in reference to the Capital site, I must say that the Government has not been lax in supplying us with all available information. Studying the documents with care I have to admit that many of the objections which I formerly had to the selection of Yass-Canberra have now been removed. In the first place, we now have it on unimpeachable evidence that the water supply can be considered as fairly adequate to the requirements of a city such as we hope the Capital of the Commonwealth will become. That is a very important point. On that ground alone a strong objection which I had to the selection of Yass-Canberra, is to a great extent removed. But I see an objection to the alternative scheme which has been placed before us. The New South Wales Government guarantee that the waters of the rivers flowing through the Federal territory shall be kept free from pollution. But as Senator Symon has very cogently urged, riparian rights are very difficult to define. I am of opinion that there is nothing which will give the Commonwealth absolute power to insure those rivers against pollution except the possession of sovereign rights over the territories through which they flow.
– The riparian objection is simplified in New South Wales by the recent Water Rights Act, which abolishes the common law rights and vests all riparian rights in theCrown.
– I desire that the Commonwealth shall be protected from friction with any State. We have had too much trouble of that kind. It would not be advantageous to the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth that we should have any more friction. Unless we possess sovereign rights over the areas through which these rivers flow, we shall have to rely upon the administrative action of New South Wales. The members representing the localities affected in the New South Wales Parliament would be pulling this way and that, urging private rights and State rights as against Commonwealth rights ; and it might well be that the rights of the Commonwealth would disappear in the struggle. The Commonwealth Parliament would not be represented in the New South. Wales Legislature,where the question would be finally decided. For that reason, I am rather inclined to think that the original scheme was the better one, because it would have given us not only absolute control over the Cotter River territory, but absolute control over the rivers flowing through the Commonwealth territory in other directions. We should thus have been enabled to insure those rivers against pollution. It must be apparent to anybody that if rivers flowing through a city became polluted the public health is likely to suffer. Unless we have sovereign rights over the territory through which- they flow we cannot be certain that they will not be polluted. That is why I prefer the original scheme to the alternative one now offered to us. It is true that the New South Wales Government have promised to give us a right of access to Jervis Bay ; but the opportunity they give us for developing the territory there is of the most meagre character. We are offered a territory of two square miles at Jervis Bay. The time may come when it may seem desirable that, the Commonwealth instead ot establishing naval dockyards within the territories of States, should undertake shipbuilding within its own territory.
– Is not every Statein the Commonwealth our territory for such purposes?
– But the land does not belong to the Commonwealth.-
– The Commonwealth can take any land it requires for defence purposes.
– Already we have a dispute as to where the torpedo boat which has been ordered in sections shall be put together. Hardly a week passes without questions on the subject being asked in the other House. We know that there is a strong movement to have the work done in Melbourne, but the Wiliamstown people point out that theirs is the best site in Australia for the purpose. We have even been told that there is no place which possesses such* fine facilities for doing the work ns do the Newport Railway Workshops. We have the Melbourne press arguing most strenuously that the claims of Melbourne and Williamstown should not be overlooked. The Premier of New South Wales, on the other hand, says that there will be “a fine old row “ if anything of the kind is attempted. The aim of this Parliament should be to avoid the possibility of the occurrence of such rows. This work is not the business of New South Wales or Victoria, of Sydney or Williamstown, but the business of Australia. To avoid the possibility of friction and rows the Commonwealth should do the work on its own territory. In the past we have had too many of these Inter-State jealousies, and it is time that they were stopped. I hope that the Government will insist that a naval dockyard shall be established on Commonwealth territory. We were told as one of the arguments why Canberra should be selected, that for the purpose of naval training or manoeuvres there was no finer bay iri Australia than Jervis Bay. It was urged that the British Squadron in Australian waters used to go there every year for practice. If these arguments were sound - and I think that to some extent they were - we should have on the shores of that bay a place for a dockyard for the navy which we hope to build, and a place for establishing ship-building yards. On our territory we should have every facility for doing the work which is required by the people to be done for the service of Australia. I do not intend to debate the second reading of the Bill at length, because this question has been so often before the Senate, and the -pros and cons have been discussed in so much detail that there is nothing new to be said on either side. There is, however, a very grave oversight to which I desire to draw attention. Clause 8 contains a provision that the laws of New South Wales are to apply to the territory until such time as this Parliament otherwise provides. That in my opinion is essential, because otherwise from the moment that the Commonwealth took over the territory until this Parliament enacted some laws it would be a sort of happy hunting ground for everybody, and we should have no law except the common law of the Empire. Thereis another equally important matter .which has been omitted. The Bill provides that on a day to be hereafter named by proclamation the territory shall become vested absolutely in the Commonwealth. From that moment every citizen in the territory will be a citizen of the Commonwealth only, not a citizen of New South Wales. Every one of these citizens will continue to use dutiable goods, but to whom is the amount of the Customs duties thereon to be paid?
– To New South Wales, of course.
– Not a shilling of the money should be paid to that State.
– My honorable friend will see that if the financial agreement is adopted it will not matter to whom the money is paid.
– Suppose that the financial agreement is adopted shall we have to pay to New South Wales 25s. in respect of every citizen resident on the Federal Territory?
– It is not the payment of 25s. per head, but the abolition of the bookkeeping principle which the honorable senator has to bear in mind. The money which is paid in Customs duties will go into the Federal Treasury, and will not be to the credit of New South Wales.
– We have to consider this Bill in view of the laws as they are, not as they may be. We have no guarantee as to what the law on this subject will be next year. We have no right to assume that any Bill will become law. We should legislate for things as they are at present. Even if what the Minister assumes should prove correct, it will not be an injury to the Bill to make the provision which I have suggested. In Committee, I shall move an amendment in that direction, but I would much prefer that the Government should submit the necessary provision. I do not know what the population of the suggested territory may be, but, be it 500, or 1,000, or 5,000, the revenue derived therefrom must belong to the Commonwealth, and the State must have no claim upon it. I think it is not asking too much to ask the Minister that that should be done. If possible, I shall try to substitute Dalgety for Canberra. But, if I fail to make that substitution, I shall give the Minister every possible assistance to pass the Bill, and I hope that, after it becomes law, there will not be an hour’s unnecessary delay in arranging matters, so that the Commonwealth Parliament and Government can be housed on Federal Territory at as early a date as possible.
Debate (on motion by Senator Puls ford) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 6th October (vide page 4142), on motion by Senator Sir
Robert Best -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I listened with great attention to the very forcible address of the Minister, but I failed to recognise any particular lucidity in his description of this measure.
– He made it as clear as mud.
– I think that almost every ‘member of the Senate who had the privilege of listening to that exposition of its principles will admit that the Minister failed to understand what the Bill really means. There are certainly one or two principles involved which any one might understand. It is very difficult for a layman to discuss a measure which, apparently, from beginning to end bristles with legal technicalities. But there is at least one thing which I think that even a lay mind can thoroughly understand, and that is that the appointment of the InterState Commission under the provisions of the Bill will be fatal to the adoption of some of the industrial principles which many of us have advocated for years. It would appear that the Government have hit upon a plan for wiping out existing provisions regarding industrial legislation, and relieving themselves of the responsibility of carrying into effect principles which some of them have advocated for the past few years. They have designed the Bill, I think, to relieve themselves of the necessity of having to go further with their new Protection proposals. By this means they will get a body of men, who, like the Dublin Corporation, will stand in a position to be uninjured in either body or soul for the term of seven years. By the creation of that body, the Government will be entirely relieved of all their pledges in regard to industrial matters. Of course, there are one or two Ministers, perhaps more, who have always professed a very strong opposition to industrial provision? which their colleagues have heartily supported. It appears to me that the Ministry have brought in this measure in order that, both individually and collectively, they may be entirely relieved from the promises which they have made on various platforms and in Parliament, where some Ministers have expressed themselves emphatically in favour of adopting a system which would insure an equal protection to employer and employe.
– Which side of the Government is going to predominate in the tug of war?
– I have not the slightest idea, but I suspect that those members of the Government who expressed themselves as being desirous of doing this justice were simply playing for the position which they then . held.- They are now prepared to abandon the whole of their protestations, and walk behind colleagues who never did have any intention of giving industrial protection to the workers of Australia. That is the only logical view which I can take of the Bill, and certainly it is the only construction which I can put upon the speech which was delivered by the Minister of Trade and Customs in moving its second reading. His one object appeared to be to avoid a straightout declaration as to what are the intentions of the Government in regard to the industrial welfare of the Commonwealth.
– He was beautifully indefinite.
– That was certainly his aim. When some members of the present Government, who were members of a former Deakin Administration, professed their anxiety to assist those who are engaged in the lower grades of industry, I was willing to help them, and with that end in view, I gave them nev hearty support. But now that some of them are desirous of abandoning every principle which they have avowed upon the floor of this Chamber, it is time for me to reconsider my position. Their expressions of sincerity in regard to the new Protection will have to be very different from what they have been hitherto before I can support this measure. It appears to me that the Government wish to create an Inter-State Commission merely for the purpose of bolstering up a few wornout politicians who have rendered faithful service to a certain section in this Parliament. The Government are seeking to find a way out of political life for these individuals for a . period of seven years.
– The honorable senator is referring to the “ wreckage “?
– They are a sort of political debris, for which I cannot account. The Government desire to provide them with offices in which they will have power to keep those who are employed in our Australian industries in the grovelling position which they have occupied for years. In other words, the Commission will simply be a sort of glorified council of the Employers’ Federation, and its every act will be in the direction of strengthening that organization, whilst the worker and his anticipation that he would derive some benefit from the operation of a policy of new Protection, will be entirely blotted out.
– The Bill with which we are dealing would, perhaps, never have seen the light had it not been for the political changes which occurred at the commencement of the present session. It is true that an Inter-State Commission Bill was introduced into the first Commonwealth Parliament, because at that time preferential and differential rates were operative, . unfair railway and wharfage rates, and harbor dues, which were interfering with trade as between the States, and which were designed for that very purpose. But, as the result of the introduction of that Bill, the Railways Commissioners of the different States met in 1905, and abolished differential railway rates.
– Have they absolutely disappeared?
– I believe so. I do not know a State in which a differential rate obtains to-day.
– What about the railway rate between Mildura and Melbourne?
– I know that in Western Australia there was a differential railway rate, as between butter which was locally manufactured, and butter which was imported from the other States, and which was intended for consumption on the gold-fields. If the Minister of Trade and Customs could have resurrected a specific instance in which similar rates are operative to-day, he would have done so.
– What about the railway rates between Mildura and Melbourne ?
– I am sure that the Minister would not have suppressed a single instance in which a differential rate obtains, if he could have found one.
– But differential wharfage rates exist.
– I believe that differential wharfage rates are operative, but they .are not of serious consequence. In America, the evil which the appointment of an Inter-State Commission was intended to remedy was that of differential railway rates. The possibility of the re-imposition of similar rates here does exist, if the Railways Commissioners chose to tear up the agreement at which they have arrived. But what was the force which impelled them to arrive at that agreement? It was the knowledge that this Parliament has power to create an Inter-State Commission. Therefore, until we have proof that there is a likelihood of the Railways Commissioners abrogating the agreement at which they have arrived, we ought not to be in a hurry to establish this costly tribunal. The amount which it is proposed to pay to its members in salaries alone is £6,500 a year, so that I venture to say the total cost of the institution will be about £30,000 annually. For the sake of an imaginary break away from the existing agreement, is it worth while setting up such a costly Commission?
– The honorable senator is also aware that the High Court, in instances which can be mentioned, has already prevented preferences being granted in other directions, and that it can prevent them being granted in relation to railways.
– I am glad to hear that. That is another reason why we do not need to establish this secondary tribunal. Of course, I can quite understand the view which was entertained by the members of the Federal Convention in respect of this matter. The knowledge that differential rates existed in each of the States, and the experience of America in this connexion, doubtless impelled them toembody in the Constitution provision for the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. But I would point out that whereas in America the railways are owned by private companies, in Australia they are owned by the people. Consequently, there was reason for the creation of a similar tribunal in America, which does not exist here. We all recognise that public opinion is growing more hostile to attempts to drag trade to other than its geographical outlet. If we regard this Bill merely as one which is intended to provide for the functions which would be ordinarily discharged by an Inter-State Commission, its consideration may very well be deferred. There is nothing to be gained by passing it. It embodies a costly and unnecessary scheme. I venture to say that the real reason for its introduction is a desire to save the face of the Government on the question of the new Protection. They promised that they would establish some sort of tribunal to deal with that question. They do not desire to deal with it upon its merits, and consequently they propose to tack it on to the Inter-State Commission provisions of this Bill. They seek to tack on to clauses relating to the appointment of an Inter- State Commission, provisions relating to industrial matters, in the hope that by so doing they may secure the support of both sections in this Parliament, and thus insure the passing of the Bill. In moving the second reading of the measure, the Minister of Trade and Customs declared that the policy of new Protection had been operative for years prior to the passing of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. That policy may have been recognised theoretically, but effect had never been given to it. He also stated that the Tariff Commission had recommended that the workers in our industries as well as the manufacturers should be protected, thus implying that the introduction of the new Protection was based upon that recommendation. If the honorable gentleman is not better informed than that, he ought to be. As a matter of fact, the idea underlying the new Protection was first proposed in the House of Representatives by’ a member of the Labour party, Mr. Batchelor, when the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was under consideration. Prior to that, I took action in the Senate, and secured a recognition of that doctrine in the Sugar Bounties Act. That is the Statute in which legislative expression was first given to the principle of the new Protection. Subsequently, Senator Findley took similar action in reference to the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill. As a matter of fact, a Bill which was prepared by the former Deakin Government was actually held in abeyance for several weeks, pending the formulation of a. scheme by the Labour party to give effect to the new Protection.
– I stated that the Tariff Commission had recommended that the worker as well as the manufacturer, ought to be protected. I put that as a fact. The Commission recommended that the Protective duties which had been granted to agricultural implement manufacturers should be suspended in the case of employers who did not pay fair and reasonable wages.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs ought to know that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was the direct outcome of action by the Labour party.
– Was not that Act passed before the receipt of the Tariff Commission’s report?
– It was passed before the final report of the Tariff
Commission had been submitted to the Government.
– Yes; whilst their inquiries were in progress. It was passed with a view to redressing an anomaly which existed under the first Commonwealth Tariff.
– The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was passed to deal with a special case. The plan embodied in that Act was afterwards taken up by the Labour party, worked out in detail, and suggested to the Government, which adopted it. The Minister of Trade and Customs also said that from certain interjections from this side of the chamber he inferred that the Labour party had apparently swung round in regard to their administration of Wages Boards. That was an unfair statement. We have not changed our attitude regarding Wages Boards. In the State of Victoria particularly the Labour party has enthusiastically supported Wages Boards, though it is dissatisfied with the sort of Boards, which have been established. In Western Australia we have had no admiration for . the Wages Board system. We have fought strongly for an Arbitration Court, which has done excellent work. The bulk of the Western Australian industries, both rural and urban, are working under the Arbitration Court to-day. I say also that, in proportion to our population, the awards of the Arbitration Court in Western Australia extend over a greater area than do the decisions of the Wages Boards in Victoria. The Minister referred to a recent award of Mr. Justice Higgins as a reason impelling us to swing round in favour of an Arbitration Court. He referred to that award as a passing circumstance. I regard it as marking an epoch in the industrial history of Australia. I do that, not because, it was the award of an Arbitration Court, but because it expressed a vital principle which in industrial matters will, I venture to say, hold more and more the imagination of the people of this country. Mr. Justice Higgins laid it down as an axiom that a fair and reasonable wage is such a wage as will enable a man, with his wife and family, to live up to a reasonable standard 0i comfort, to make provision for sickness and old age, and to educate and bring up children as they ought to be reared. This was the first time in the industrial history of Australia that any Court had laid down that axiom, and it was a statement of principle which has since been regarded by every other Industrial Court in Australia. It constituted a challenge upon which every other Industrial Court has had to express itself. I shall deal later with some comparisons between the decisions of Arbitration Courts in reference to that principle. The Minister also said that the Labour Government were very indefinite in regard to this subject. In the GovernorGeneral’s speech, however, there was this paragraph -
Proposals will be submitted to you for the amendment of the Constitution to enable Parliament to protect the interests of the consumer and ensure a fair and reasonable wage to every worker in the Commonwealth. In protected and unprotected industries this will be secured through such extension of the industrial powers of the Parliament as may be necessary.
I do not think that” there is anything indefinite about that. It is not usual, of course, to put a Bill into the GovernorGeneral’s speech, but the paragraph contains a clear statement of what our intentions were.
– That is, that the Commonwealth Parliament was to take over the whole matter of industrial regulation?
– So much as was necessary to achieve the end in view.
– The policy of the Labour Government was that the Commonwealth Parliament should take over the whole matter of industrial regulation?
– Not as a Commonwealth Department.
– What does the. paragraph mean then ?
– We proposed to amend the Constitution, first of all to protect the interests of the consumer by preventing him from being injured by an unfair raising of prices ; and next we proposed to insure fair and reasonable. wages to’ every worker in the Commonwealth.
– “ Every worker “ ; does not that mean that the late Government intended to take over the whole matter of industrial regulation?
– No, because there is a large quantity of industrial regulation outside the scope there defined.
– What does the paragraph mean then?
– For instance, the Factory Act of Western Australia deals with other matters than wages, hours, and the regulation of apprentices. Our Act is more up to date than is the Factory Act of any other State. But we have in addition an Arbitration Act. The Factory Act deals with the strictly industrial part of the work. Our proposal was that the Commonwealth should have power to deal with such questions as are to-day dealt with by the Arbitration Court in Western Australia.
– In other words, it was proposed to take the regulation of industries out of the hands of the States and place it in the hands of the Commonwealth.
– I cannot read anything else into the paragraph.
– If the honorable senator cannot grasp the meaning of what I have said I cannot help him further. The Minister also said that the State Premiers have agreed to give to us the power that we are asking for under part V. of this Bill. Senator Sir Josiah Symon interjected that according to his reading of the Constitution these matters must have been referred to us by one or more of the States before we could take action. It is, however, a fact that not only has no State referred these matters to us, but that no Parliament in Australia has yet had presented to it a Bill for the purpose of referring the matter to us.
– Yes, a Bill has been introduced in the New South Wales Parliament, as reported in this morning’s newspapers.
– If that be the case, I did not see the report. Although several months have elapsed since the Premiers met, they have not yet taken any action except in the one case mentioned by Senator Chataway.
– Remember that there has been an election in Queensland.
– But there have not been elections in Western Australia and South Australia. We are told that a model Bill was agreed upon. I have asked for a copy of the model Bill, but have not been favoured with one.
– Mr. Wade has introduced it in New South Wales.
– Has any other State Premier even gone so far as to give notice of his intention to introduce such a Bill?
– That is a matter for the States; not for us.
– But there can be no legislation on this subject until the States make a reference to us, and no State, except New South Wales, has taken any action.
– The honorable senator knows that Part V. of the Bill cannot come into operation until the States do take action.
– I know that, but the States have shown no desire or intention to take action.
– Yes, Tasmania has.
– What can we expect from Tasmania? A few weeks ago a Factory Bill was discussed in the Tasmanian Parliament. The Labour party tried to introduce into the measure the Wages Board provisions of Victoria. The Tasmanian Government opposed the amendment, and said that they intended at a later date to bring in a Wages Board proposal. But what is the present position of the Tasmanian Government which promised the Prime Minister to deal with this question? It has already been challenged, and was only saved from political extinction last week by two members staying away when the division took place.
– The honorable senator has stated the facts quite wrongly. Captain Evans said, after a two hours’ speech, that he did not know how he was going to vote.
– Captain Evans refrained from voting, but if we may judge from the speeches of those who stayed away from the division, they would have voted against the Government had they been present ; and in that case the Government would have been defeated.
– The honorable senator is misinformed. One of the two did not speak at all.
– Is it not a fact that notice of motion has been given by Captain Evans with a view to challenging the position of the Tasmanian Government?
– That is not correct.
– Mr. Norman Ewing has given notice of motion.
– At all events, a statement to that effect has appeared in the press. If Senator Mulcahy, who has just come from Tasmania, says that the press is wrong, I will take his word. At any rate, we know that the position of Sir Elliott Lewis’ Government is precarious.
– It has eighteen men on its side.
– How many of them are looking for a loophole?
– How many of them are looking for a billet, the honorable senator might ask.
– I should not like to put matters on that ground. I thought that no such influences affected Tasmanian politicians. In South Australia we cannot rely upon the position of a Government that has a majority of only one. If an accident happened to the one, the Government would be displaced.
– On the other hand, if an accident happened to a member of the Opposition the Government would have a majority of two.
– The facts show, at all events, that the State Governments do not seem to be very anxious to make the necessary reference to the Commonwealth Parliament. Even if such measures were to. pass the Legislative Assemblies, however, would they get through the Legislative ‘Councils? Consider that possibility.
– Did not the Legislative Council of Victoria pass legislation dealing with Wages Boards?
– Yes, but if they get an opportunity to knock out a proposal to establish a Wages Board they take it.
– That was done on one occasion. Can the honorable senator mention another?
– Take the case of the paper-making industry. It is a protected industry. A proposal was brought forward to establish a Wages Board. It was pointed out in debate thai there were adult women getting from 13s. od. to 25s. a week, and adult men getting not more than 38s. a week. It was urged that a Wages Board should be established to secure higher wages for the employes. ‘ The proposal was carried in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and sent up to the Legislative Council. But that body rejected it by a large majority. Can honorable senators believe that a Legislative Council which refused to give the papermaking industry a Board, would be likely to support a measure, the object of which would be to enlarge the area of industrial legislation? Can we believe that such a body would give to the Federal authority a greater power than it would establish within its own State? The Minister of Trade and Customs must think we are simple if he believes he. can induce us to accept any statement of the kind. In South Australia, where there is a Wages Board system the Legislative Council is just as hostile to the establishment of more Boards as is the Legislative Council of Victoria. The system was delayed for years in that State through the Legislative Council refusing to pass the necessary regulations. In Tasmania there is a Legislative Council than which we cannot expect to find a more perfect example of Conservatism anywhere. How can we expect that a legislative body over which the Government have little or no control would be willing to hand over further industrial power to the Federation? I come to another difficulty in connexion with this matter. Let’ us assume that one or two of the States make the necessary references to the Commonwealth Parliament. Under the terms of the Constitution the Bill now under consideration will then apply to those States and those only. Senator Best in his speech blundered once or twice in dealing with that point. He made the statement that if one or two’ States made the- reference and others did not, the Inter- State Commission would apply to those that took no action, as well as to those which did.
– What I said then I repeat now. I was dealing with the hypothesis of all the States making a reference. I made that point quite clear. I corrected myself while I was still on my feet.
– The honorable senator corrected his statement later on, but he certainly did say what I have represented.
– I misunderstood a question put to me at the time.
– It is, of course, clear to those who have read the Constitution that only those States which refer this power to the Commonwealth will be affected by the Inter-State Commission. So that if any one State refuses to make the references, notwithstanding that we pass this Bill, there will still be a break in the chain just as there is to-day.
– Then we shall have to alter the Constitution.
– Why not alter the Constitution in the first place? We might by an alteration make the chain complete forthwith. That is the right way to proceed. If we cannot make the chain completewe have no right even to pass this measure. If, of course, the people prefer to leave the matter of industrial legislation entirely to the States, they can do so. But if the great bulk of the people want to make the chain of industrial legislation complete, the right and honest way is to alter the Constitution, giving the necessary power to the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The Constitution itself prescribes the method that is now being adopted.
– I am aware that the Constitution makes it possible to adopt this method. But what is the impelling reason for interfering in industrial matters at all? Is it not a fact that through the absence of industrial regulations in one State an unfair advantage is given to it over other States? The force behind the cry for new Protection was that we should have one area for Tariff Protection and one for industrial Protection. This Bill does not provide for that. It still leaves it open for any State to refuse to give the Commonwealth power to legislate, and if any State decline to refer the subject to us this Bill will not apply to that State.
– We have our reserve power then.
– I said so, distinctly.
– Part V. of this Bill has to be brought into operation by proclamation. Suppose that one State does not pass the necessary reference. Can this part of the Act be proclaimed as applying to thewhole Commonwealth, or can it be proclaimed only as applying to two States?
– It will apply to the States which have made the reference.
– That will carry us no further, because at present the State Boards take into consideration the question of Inter-State competition, and the InterState tribunal, which it is proposed to establish, will have no power to do more. It will simply be a duplicate of the present Boards.
– The honorable senator will find that what I stated is necessary to complete the chain.
– So far as any useful purpose will be served, until all the States make the reference to this Parliament, this Bill might as well not be passed. Does not the Minister see my point, that we shall be no “ forrader” until that event happens? Until then there will be a gap in the fence. If an appeal is made to prevent unfair Inter-State competition, nothing can be done until all the States have made the reference. Therefore, this Bill, if passed, will be simply futile legislation, and cannot possibly accomplish its object. We should waif until all the States have acted.
– We should wait, not until all the States have made the reference, but until every State has adopted the Bill. I am bound to say that it will not be adopted in South Australia.
– Apart altogether from the industrial aspect of the question, there will be considerable opposition to Western Australia surrendering to the Commonwealth any of its industrial powers, even the power of revision. There will be a sort of combined opposition offered to a proposal of the kind - the opposition of those who oppose any passing of industrial powers to the Commonwealth, and the opposition of those who think that this legislation is futile and inadequate. That opposition will be felt in every State Parliament. In so far as it professes to. introduce new Protection, this Bill is an altogether inadequate machine for the purpose.
– No machine inthe world will ever do what is suggested.
– That is the statement of a man who thinks that the resources of civilization are exhausted. If that is the case this Parliament ought to be dissolved. But the very fact of our passing laws is an affirmation of the principle that the resources of civilization are not exhausted. In his speech the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that the Wages Boards of Victoria apply to 68,000 workers. If he will permit me to say so, that was rather a slipshod way of stating the position. In his report for 1909, the Chief Inspector of Factories shows that the employes in the registered factories number 76,210, and that rates of pay have only been fixed for 55.000, that is for 73 per cent. of the total number. There are fifty-nine Boards, who represent 67,000 workers, but wages have been fixed for only 55,000 employes. There are fifty-one determinations in force. In order to show how limited is the jurisdiction of the Wages Boards, let me point, out that, on page 17 of his report, the Chief Inspector of Factories states that the Agricultural Implements Board applies to cities and towns, to the railway riding of the Shire of Braybrook, and to portion of the Shire of Bungaree. That is typical of a number of industries. The Factories Act has a very limited application. Although there are 76,210 employes in the registered factories, yet, according to a return issued ‘by the Government Statist, there are 93,808 employes in the manufactories of the State, so that practically only one-half of the employes in the manufacturing industries are under Wages Board determinations. I find that the wages paid represent 21 per cent, of the value of production, and that the average wage is £68 per year. The Wages Board system of Victoria has one great weakness. A Wages Board has no power to limit the number of apprentices. This is so great an evil that it was stated on oath before the Arbitration Court the other day that in some factories there are twelve apprentices and improvers to seven journeymen. That is a serious position, because it means that a large number of immature tradesmen are being turned out, and that boys are doing a lot of work which men should do. Any man who has had much experience of industry knows that there are two ways by which labour can be exploited, namely, either by low wages and long hours or by employing a number of boys in place of men. The Wages Boards of this State are absolutely without power to deal with the excessive use of boy labour.
– Have not the Government already agreed to bring in legislation to regulate that evil?
– The State Government have agreed to bring in legislation to deal with all sorts of things, but we know that Government after Government have failed to do anything in that direction.
– The Government had legislation to deal with the evil, but, unfortunately, the Legislative Council knocked it out.
– On the occasion to which the honorable senator refers the Legislative Council practically held up the Wages Boards legislation of this State, and did so for a considerable time. It was only after the exercise of considerable pressure and after public opinion had strongly manifested itself at public meetings, that the Legislative Council consented to reinstate the measure. Of the persons working in protected industries in South Australia only 20 per cent, are under Wages Boards, as compared with 60 per cent, in Victoria.
– There will be a good many more under Wages Boards this week.
– I am glad to hear that interjection. I do not know what the limitations are in that State. 1 do not know whether the Boards are able to fix the number of apprentices.
– Their present position is owing largely to the action of the Legislative Council.
– I think that the South Australian Act is modelled on the Victorian Act. A further weakness of the Wages Boards system of Victoria is the limitation of districts. Let- me give a few instances. The artificial manure trade applies to cities and towns and to part of the shires of Braybrook and Moorabbin. The Wages Board fixed the wage at 40s. 6d. per week ; an appeal was made by the employers to the Appeal Court consisting of a Judge of the Supreme Court, and the wage was fixed at 36s. per week for adults. Again, the boot trade applies to cities and towns, and to the boroughs of Eaglehawk, Kew, Geelong West, Newtown, Chilwell, and Sebastopol.
– As a matter of fact it applies to the whole State, at the discretion of the Governor in Council.
– So far as that discretion is exercised, it is limited in the way which I have indicated.
– And country members of Parliament fight against its extension.
– That is so; but it only confirms my statement as to the impossibility of making Australia one fiscal area and one industrial area. In the case of the stripper harvester industry, a firm was established at Ballarat, and the proprietor was charged with having deliberately shifted his works for the purpose of escaping an award, so far as moulders were concerned, to a shire outside the scope of the Wages Board. Whether he did it for that purpose or not, he did for some time escape the determination of the Wages Board. Under this Bill, the law in Victoria, as in other States, will remain as it is. It will not alter in one iota the State law, which will still be unlimited, and allow an appeal to the Court. At some trouble, I ascertained what wages the Boards have awarded. I found that the average wages range from 28s.10d. to 66s.10d. per week for adult males, and from 10s.11d. to 43s. 9d. per. week for adult females. The average wage for all employes is £1 7s. 6d. per week.I now come to the question of the Appeal Court; and it is a most serious question.
– Has the honorable senator anything to say as to why these industrial conditions should not be applied to unprotected as well as to protected industries ?
– I have not said that they should not. This is the statement of my position. I am prepared, so far as I am individually concerned, to pass legislation -
To protect the interests of the consumer and insure a fair and reasonable wage to every worker in the Commonwealth.
– Read on, please.
In protected and unprotected industries this will be secured through such extension of the industrial powers of the Parliament as may be necessary.
– That can only mean taking over the whole of the industrial powers from the States, and vesting them in the Commonwealth.
– I have pointed out that, even in the State arena, whilst the Arbitration Court deals with wages, hours of labour, and regulation of apprentices, it leaves a tremendous amount of material which is dealt with by means of the Factories Act. In Western Australia, we differentiate between the two in that way. Our Factories Act deals with the general industrial conditions. Sanitation, space, protection of machinery, are of vital importance to the worker, as every man who has been inside a factory knows. These things we are prepared to leave to the State, but the hours of labour, the rates of wages, and the number of apprentices, are the elements which determine InterState competition; and these we say should be dealt with by Federal enactment.
– The honorable senator would bring every worker under the law ?
– In those particulars.
– Mr. Fisher affirmed that in a telegram.
– The honorable senator must not lose sight of the fact that they are to be brought under the Federal law for a purpose, and that is to insure a fair and reasonable wage to every worker, and to protect the interests of the consumer.
– How is the honorable senator going to protect the interests of the consumer ?
– It would take too long to tell the honorable senator what is in my mind. I will content myself with saying that it can be done, either by means of a stamp duty, or by fixing a selling price. I now come to a further weakness which marks the Wages Boards of Victoria and South Australia, and which will probably apply to the projected Wages Boards in Tasmania. I presume that the model Bill will be based very largely upon the Victorian and South Australian Acts. This Bill contemplates that an appeal can only be made to the Inter-State Commission, on the motion of a Court, and, therefore, an Appeal Court or an Arbitration Court is necessary. Having had his wages fixed, an employe will be subject to an appeal to the Industrial Appeal Court; but there he cannot claim a wage which will enable him to marry and keep his wife and children. The very first principle laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins - that “mere passing circumstance” which the Minister referred to - is wiped out. In the fellmongers’ case, Mr. Justice a’Beckett laid it down clearly that there can be no marriage recognised by the Wages Boards of Victoria.
– As a matter of law ?
– Yes. I am pointing out that, under the law, the award of a Wages Board would be’ subject to an appeal to the Industrial Appeal Court, which will determine, not the wages which ought to be paid, but what, under the law, a man is entitled to be paid. From the Argus Law Reports of June, 1909, I extract the following: -
Court of Industrial Appeals before Justice a’Beckett, March 25-31 ; April 1-7 ; 28-30 ; May 17.
In re Fellmongers’ Board.
The Court of Industrial Appeals exists for the purpose of correcting mistakes made by Special Boards in making determinations as to the lowest rates of pay and maximum hours of work in the various industries for which such Boards are appointed….. The term “ living wage “ as used in section 122 of Act 1975, refers to the personal living wage and not to the family living wage, i.e., such a wage as will support a man and his wife and his family in frugal comfort.
Application to revise or to alter a determination of the Court of Industrial Appeals.
On the 15th May, 1904, the Wages Board relating to the trade of fellmongers, scourers, and tanners of sheep skins made a determination whereby the working hours of persons employed in that trade were fixed at fifty-four hours per week.
In August, 1906, the Board revised that determination and reduced the hours of work to forty-eight hours per week.
The employers representatives thereupon appealed to the Court of Industrial Appeals, and on 2nd October, 1906, Justice Hood amended the Board’s determination by fixing the working hours at fifty-four per week instead of forty-eight. This was an application by the majority of the representatives of employes on the Board to have the determination of Justice Hood revised or altered.
The grounds of the application were : -
Sitting for the first time in the Court of Industrial Appeals, I am asked by the employes in the fellmongers trade to revise a determination as to the hours of labour and the rates of payment.
In entering upon this duty I have to determine the principles which should guide me in discharging it, and, like Mr. Justice Hood, the first Judge of the Court, I find the greatest difficulty in discovering from the Act what Parliament intended to be the governing considerations for the Special Boards and for the Court that hears appeals from them. (He here quotes from Justice Hood’s previous decision : - “ I take the current as the only fixed factor and make it the starting point. If nothing is said against it, I assume that it is correct. That assumption, however, can be displaced with the utmost ease. It would vanish if it was shown that the current rate had been arrived at by reason of combination or oppression or over competition either amongst employers or employed, or if any serious change in the previously existing state of things was proved….. “)
I was urged, as was Mr. Justice Hood, to fix a new standard on a liberal estimate of human needs, and of the provision for them which should constitute the just reward of labour, though doing so might cause an industrial upheaval which would shake all industries within the operation of the Act.
I answer, as my predecessor did, that on reading the Act I can find no indication of any intention that Wages Boards should resort , to such a radical readjustment of the relations of employers and employed ; and, as I have said, the Act intended Wages Boards, not Judges of the Supreme Court, to settle those matters. . . . I now proceed to consider the demand for an increase of wages.
One of the grounds set out in the demand is that the cost of living has increased during the last five years. . . (after dealing with evidence as to cost of living increased) …. it does not follow that an all round increase of wages should be enforced under these Acts whenever a rise in the cost of living occurs. (He then points out section 122 of Act compels him to take into consideration effect of award on industry.)
That is important, in view of the fact that Mr. Justice Higgins took quite a different view. Section 122 amounts to a mandate that an industry must pay its employe’s a living wage. Here he refers to the arguments of counsel in the following terms -
The decision of Mr. Justice Higgins in the Harvester case has shown what “ fair and reasonable “ mean. That is, a wage which will support in frugal comfort, not only the employe himself, but his wife and three children. This wage at the present cost of living cannot be less than 42s. a week. You must, therefore, in devising the present determination, begin, by giving the man placed lowest in it 42s. a week. This argument … of Mr. Arthur is supported by reference to the judicial pronouncement of Mr. Justice Gordon, of South Australia, sitting as Judge of the Industrial Court of Appeals under an Act almost the same as ours. . . . The decision of Mr. Justice Higgins, sitting in a Federal Court, under a Federal Act, does not bind me, and if I dissented from it I ought not to follow it. But my construction of our Act involves no dissent from the attractive doctrines of the Harvester case. I concur in all that is there said of what is necessary to constitute the frugal comfort of the working man. On the evidence as to household expenses before me, evidence of the same character as that which was before Justice Higgins, I think that the 42s. per week fixed by him is a proper allowance……… The discussion of whether a living wage was intended to be prescribed is of no practical importance unless” living wage “ in section 122 means a wage sufficient to support a man, his wife and family, for there can be no doubt that the minimum of 36s. is more than a living wage for the man himself . Looking at the object of section 122, I think the living wage there contemplated is a personal wage. It is a section to safeguard an endangered industry, to preserve it from destruction, and it would be a strange way of doing so to insist as a condition to its existence, that the least it should pay to any of its employes should be a wage large enough to support a man, his wife, and family. … As a matterof construction, I say that the Act does not prescribe as the lowest wage to be fixed by a Wages Board, a wage which will support a man and his wife and family in frugal comfort. There is no appeal from my decision. If I have misconstrued the Act, Parliament alone can correct my mistake.
Here is a Judge who, upon the evidence, declared that there was absolute proof that a man could not maintain a wife and family if he received less than 42s. per week, and yet the Act recognises that he has no power to award that wage. In Other words, the industry must be his first consideration. He is not allowed to consider what constitutes a living wage.
– Andthis Bill permits that defect to be remedied. That is the very object of it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30to 7.45p.m.
– As an interesting sequel to the fellmongers’ case the judicial report of which I was dealing with before the adjournment for dinner, and bearing upon the Minister’s interjection that what I referred to in that case would be rectified under this Bill, let me inform honorable senators that the Fellmongers’ Union appealed to Mr. Murray, the Premier of Victoria, who, the Minister says, is prepared to give us the power to remedy the defect. They drew his attention to Mr. Justice a’Beckett’s ruling in the case. Honorable senators will find that it is reported in the Argus of 22nd June, 1909, that a reply was sent to the Fellmongers’ Union through the Chief Inspector of Factories, who, after arguing the pros and cons of the case, says, referring to the Minister -
He cannot consent to amend the Factories and Shops Act in the direction desired by the Operative Fellmongers’ Union.
The request of the union was that the disability pointed out by Mr. Justice a’Beckett should be removed, and that in deciding what was a living wage the. Court should have the power to take into consideration the position of a married man with a wife and family. It is on record, therefore, that Mr. Murray declined to alter the Victorian Factories and Shops Act in that direction. If, after considering a formal request made to them, Mr. Murray and his Government were of opinion that no such alteration of the Act should be made, what authority have we for assuming that they are now of a different opinion? We have no authority fo assuming that the Vic torian Factories and Shops Act will be amended in such a. way as to enable Victorian workers to secure a wage on which they would be justified in marrying. I propose to quote from the “ Report of the Agreement, Resolutions, Proceedings and Debates of the Inter-State Conference, held at Melbourne in August, 1909,” statements appearing on pages 12 and 13 which were made by Mr. Wade, Premier of New South Wales, and spokesman on this question at the Conference. He said -
As I say, in the first place, the mere fact of there being Inter-State competition should not in itself be a ground for the third body being called into operation. If the existence of such competition were to be in itself a ground for invoking the new tribunal, we would find a foundation so laid for invoking the Commonwealth tribunal in nearly all branches of industrial and commercial life……
Mr. Moore. Will not this tribunal which it is proposed to constitute have jurisdiction over the whole of the States, irrespective of whether the dispute extends over more than one Stateor not?
Mr. WADE. I take it that it will be confined to the exact point where Inter State competition exists, and that in so far as the local tribunal cannot adjust the matter it should be left to a body charged with larger powers for the purpose. The other negative condition is that the mere fact of a difference of wages should not in itself be a ground for giving this body jurisdiction.
– Let the honorable senator go on with the quotation. “ We know the cost of living differs in various States.”
– But I point out that, accordingto Mr. Wade’s view, if there was a difference in the wages paid in different States the Inter-State Commission would have no power to review them, and to say whether the cost of living in each State had been considered in fixing the wages. A mere difference of wages is not sufficient to insure a matter being referred to the Inter-State Commission.
– The Bill says differently.
– We have not got the Bill.
– Yes, we have.
– I refer to the model Bill which we have been given to understand is to be passed by the different State Parliaments. I am not concerned at this stage with the Federal Bill, which will be only so much waste paper unless the model Bill is adopted by the different State Parliaments.
– Will the honorable senator contend that this measure will possess any virtue at all, without the passing of an Act by the different State Parliaments ?
– It carries out the agreement made with the State Premiers.
– That is another question altogether. I ask the honorable senator to say whether it is not a fact that this Bill will be only so much waste paper until some State or States pass an Act dealing with the matter. The honorable senator knows that what I say is correct. Here we have the views which were expressed by the State Ministers who have to introduce such a measure.
– I understood that a difference of wages would be a ground for appeal.
– 1 have quoted for honorable senators the statement made by Mr. Wade on the subject.
– A difference of wages in Western Australia and New South Wales might not he a sufficient ground of appeal.
– I point out that until the matter is brought before the InterState Commission it is impossible to argue why the wages were fixed at a different rate in the two States. If a difference of wages is not to justify an appeal to the Inter-State Commission, those concerned can never get there to argue how it is that the wages differ in the different States. Suppose, for instance, that the fellmongers in Victoria were dissatisfied with their conditions under Mr. Justice a’Beckett’s award, and asked him to move the ‘ InterState Commission. He would ask: “On what ground?” The reply would be, “ On the ground that our wages’ are not as high as are the wages paid in New South. Wales.” Then Mr. Justice a’Beckett would say, “ That does not of itself prove unfair competition; it might be due to a difference in the cost of living.”
– He might say that it was sufficient to justify an investigation.
– He might also say that it was not, and Mr. Wade takes that view.
– The honorable senator is aware that Mr. Wade’s remarks which he has quoted were made during a discussion anterior to the preparation of this Bill, with the terms of which the State Premiers are now acquainted.
– I know that Mr. Wade has publicly expressed the same view since.
– I do not think the honorable senator can say that.
– At page 13 of the report from which I have quoted it -will be found that Mr. Wade went on to say -
That recognises that competition between the States is quite legitimate, and only where tha rates are preferential and unreasonable is the Inter-State Commission called upon to take action.
A preferential rate, I take it, would be a rate deliberately fixed by a State Wages Board with the object of creating unfair competition just as a State Railway Commissioner might quote a differential rate to secure traffic which would otherwise go to the railways of another State.
– Does the honorable senator think that the workers on a State Board would be a party to that kind of thing ?
– The representatives of the workers might be against it; but by the vote of the chairman of the Wages Board such a rate of wages might be fixed. It might be represented to the chairman of a Wages Board that by fixing a certain rate of wages the whole of the industry would be centred in the State to which he belonged. I desire now to quote another case bearing on this question. I refer to the bootmakers’ wages case which is before the Federal Arbitration Court in Melbourne. I quote from a report appearing in the Age of 2nd October, 1909. Mr. Justice Higgins is reported to have said -
It appears that the State tribunals are sadly hampered in their task of giving proper conditions of labour by the fact that in other States the conditions are low, and to award what seems proper would aid the manufacturers in the other States in underselling and give them an advantage in Inter-State competition. Judge Heydon, President of the New South Wales Court, felt this difficulty, and expressed it clearly in the Boot Operatives’ ease, viz. : - “ We feel that if our hands had been free we would have given most of the boot trade journeymen gs. per day or £2 14s. per week. . . . We have wished to see our way to do this, but we have come to the conclusion that in common fairness to our employers (New South Wales employers) we cannot do it. If the Commonwealth Court of Arbitration had been dealing with this case it would have had all the conditions .in all the cities of Australia under its notice, and can it be supposed for an instant that unless some distinct difference in conditions calling for a differential wage had appeared, it would have put the manufacturers of Syd- ney under more onerous terms than the manufacturers of Melbourne.” The New South Wales Court therefore was compelled to fix the wage at 8s. (as in Victoria) instead of 9s. as it wished ; but it added as part of the award that if the Victorian Wages Board should increase the Victorian wage the New South Wales wage should automatically follow it up to the wage of gs. per day.
In that case we have a sample of the way in which this Bill would operate as compared with the operation of the- new Protection proposals of the late Government. Under those proposals, to use Mr. Justice Heydon’s words, the tribunal would have had the conditions in all the capital cities of Australia before them and would have fixed a wage just to all competitors and differing only according to the different conditions obtaining in the several States. What would happen under the proposal of the present Government if an appeal were made to the court to send a matter on to the Inter-State Commission? The InterState Commission would not be a judge, as the Arbitration Court is of the merits of the wages fixed. It would not be a judge as to whether a certain wage was a sufficient award for labour, whether it was a living wage or a fair and reasonable wage. All that the Inter- State Commission could saywould be: “What wage are we to fix to bring about a removal of the unfair competition?” So limited would be the powers of the Inter-State Commission that if it were proved that in Victoria there was an area outside the Wages Board jurisdiction in which sweating was rampant, the Commission would be absolutely powerless to extend its award to that area. I m’ake that statement on the strength of what I find in clause 50 of the Bill which provides that -
The Commission may, of its own motion or on the application of any person interested, vary any determination by it under this Part ; Provided that the determination shall not “ be extended as to its subject-matter or as to the area of its application, except pursuant to a reference by a Court of a State at the instance of a State Industrial Authority.
That is to say that if the Appeal Court of Victoria which has refused to extend the jurisdiction of a Wages Board to a particular part of the State asked the Inter-State Commission to do something which it had deliberately abstained from doing itself, the Inter-State Commission would be clothed with the power to do it ; but not otherwise. When honorable senators come to realize the difference between that and what is generally - understood by the term “new Protection,” they will admit that
I am justified in saying that this Bill is a mere hypocritical pretence and contains none of the real principles of the new Protection. There are many industries in Australia that absolutely refuse to take advantage of the Wages Board provisions of the Factories and Shops Act, because of the restricted powers of the Boards. In the Age of 8th July, 1909, honorable senators will find a reference to the case of the Engineers Society. They refused a Wages Board. They went to the Premier of the State and asked that they should not be brought under a Wages Board for these reasons -
As to boy labour, Mr. A. Long, General Secretary of the Bootmakers’ Union, said, as reported in the Age of the 17th June of this year, that the New South Wales regulations provide for seven boys t<? twelve journeymen, whereas, under the Wages Board in Victoria, there is no power to regulate the number or proportion of apprentices. In several Victorian factories, according to Mr. Long, the proportion was three boys to one man. Now I return to the Conference. We are, however, under a certain disadvantage; the Minister says that I have only quoted statements anterior to the adoption of the Government scheme. Whose fault is that? I cannot quote the Conference debates. I cannot quote the reasons that led to this Inter-State Commission Bill being submitted to Parliament. The fault is that of the Minister and the Government to which he belongs. They cannot produce a report of the debates which took place at the Conference. No official record of them was kept. Evidently something so disgraceful took place that, for the first time in the history of such Conferences, no record was kept. Yet the Minister now taunts me with being unable to quote the speeches delivered at the Conference. He and his colleagues took are that we should never have an opportunity of quoting from them. I should very much like to have a report before me. I find, for instance, the following skeleton report of a meeting of the Conference on page xi. -
Industrial Matters - Vesting in Commonwealth by States of Certain Powers.- The Order of the Day for the consideration of this question having being read - The Honorable C. G. Wade initiated the debate on this subject.
The Honorable J. D. Brown moved, That the debate be now adjourned.
Question - put and resolved in the affirmative.
Ordered - That the debate be adjourned until Monday next.
That is all that the people of Australia are to know as to what took place. If the Minister wants us to understand thoroughly what this Bill means, why did he not get his colleagues to furnish us with a report, and let us know what they did at the Conference?
– Why cannot the Minister give us the information himself?
– Why not? I find that Senator Best was present at some of the meetings. For instance, on page xvi., there is the following record : -
Attendance of Commonwealth Ministers. - The Prime Minister of Australia (the Honorable Alfred Deakin), the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral (the Honorable P. McMahon Glynn), the Minister of External Affairs (the Honorable L. E. Groom), and the Minister of Trade and Customs (Senator the Honorable Sir Robert Best) entered the Conference Chamber at halfpast Ten o’clock, and, in Committee, conferred with the members of the Conference on the various subjects brought under consideration.
It would have been most enlightening could we have known the views expressed by Commonwealth Ministers as to these industrial questions.
– If Ministers cannot tellus what State Ministers said, they should, at all events, tell us what they themselves said.
– In the absence of such information, we have to fall back upon the views of State Ministers themselves concerning this question; and I propose to lay before the Senate some of the views expressed by Mr. Wade, as representing the opinions of the State Premiers.
– Views expressed at the Conference?
– Yes. On the second day, according to the official record, the Conference dealt with industrial legislation. This was the meeting at which the now historical letter from Mr. G. H. Reid was received. The first order of the day. “ Commonwealth and State Finance,” was postponed. Then the Conference discussed industrial legislation, and, in the course of a speech, Mr. Wade said -
What I have to say to-day is, that I wish to intimate at once a strong desire to maintain the rights of the States as far as they have been stated by the Constitution, and only to allow, so far as we are concerned, any deviation from that condition of affairs when it can be proved that there is some gap in the machinery of the law, and that it is necessary in the public in-‘ terests for some departure to be made.
He further said -
I do not know whether it has been experienced in other States, but great objection was raised among working men in New South Wales during the last election to the possibility of the imposition of protective duties leading to a higher cost of living to the working men, with no corresponding advance in his wages.
Mr. Wade there altogether misrepresented the feelings of the working men. The motive impelling them was that they should share in the protection now being granted to the manufacturers.
– It was expected that Protection would increase the cost of living.
– That is Mr. Wade’s view, but I venture to say that the majority of workingmen, being Protectionists, do not believe that Protection increases the cost of living. No convinced Protectionists believe that. Mr. Wade went on to say -
During the life of the Fisher Government this question of giving a living wage to workers in protected industry was talked of very freely, but Mr. Fisher himself never came to close quarters with it. He dealt in generalities, and only at the early part of this year did we first ascertain’ what was the precise purpose behind this apparent humanitarian proposal.
After outlining what the Labour party, proposes, he said -
That brought the case down to a simple issue - a proposition to alter the Constitution of the Commonwealth so as to give the power of doing what every State but one in the Commonwealth had full power to carry out.
Mark the ingeniousness of this !
With the exception of Tasmania all the States of the Commonwealth, whatever the form might be, had machinery whereby they could provide a living wage for every worker, whatever the trade might be.
Is not that interesting in the light of Mr. Justice a’Beckett’s statement? Read Mr. Justice a’Beckett’s declaration and apply it to Victoria, and then what becomes of Mr. Wade’s view of a living wage? His view is that a living wage is a personal wage, and not a wage on which a married man can bring up a family. Mr. Wade went on -
At that time Captain Evans was in power in Tasmania, and he intimated to me that if he remained in power he proposed to bring in legislation in the ensuing session to provide machinery of the nature indicated by the complaints of Mr. Hughes and his colleagues. At that time that fact was made known to the public, and at all events for the time being, an objection of that kind was silenced. Since then, of course, the position has changed.
I should say that it had ! Here we have an illustration of the illusory character of the promises of the Premiers. Here is the statement of Mr. Wade himself, that he had the promise of Captain Evans that during the last preceding session of the Tasmanian Parliament a Wages Board measure would be introduced and passed. We can say of Captain Evans’ party, in the language of Hans Breitmann, “Where is dot barty now? “ And where are Captain Evans and his promises? His Government has been relegated to the category of forgotten things.
– The honorable senator was quoting him a little while ago as a man likely to become Premier of Tasmania again.
– Apparently he will. But these State Premiers are ephemeral and their promises go with them. I can place no reliance upon them because they lack power to carry out their undertakings. Mr. Wade went on to say -
One of the arguments that is used, and can be used effectively in the future, is that if the States have the power by their respective Constitutions to create machinery to adjust industrial disputes within their own. boundaries, and they either do not do it or do it ineffectively, the Commonwealth is not only justified in stepping in but has the obligation cast on it to step in and create the necessary machinery to provide for that blank. So what I wish to point out at this stage is that if the Tasmanian Government can see their way to take the necessary action to establish industrial machinery for that State, then we have destroyed and removed the only substantial argument that has been advanced hitherto in favour of vesting the Commonwealth generally with industrial powers which the States now enjoy.
As reported on page 10, Mr. Wade also said -
I say that is a real danger that has to be faced by all the States, and in so far as that branch of the case is concerned, if our friends in Tasmania can see their way to announce that they will take action in the future, it will enable all the States to stand solidly and to announce to those who make the advances on the Commonwealth side that ‘the States have got the power to deal with industrial matters, that the States are entitled to reserve to themselves that power under the Constitution, and that until it is shown that there has been some inherent failure in the machinery of the States there is no justification for this move to shear them of their industrial rights. I have had some practical experience of the working of the arbitration tribunals in New South Wales for some years past, both through taking an active part in the Court itself and through being head for some years of the department administering the Arbitration Act, and I am quite satisfied from my own experience that in New South Wales we have got ample machinery, and at all events, if the machinery is not sufficient, that we have got ample power in the Constitution to enlarge the scope of these tribunals to enable them to give all reasonable redress in connexion with all branches of industrial life. Over and above the powers which the State tribunals enjoy of adjusting a dispute between the actual parties before them who may be some particular employers and employes, they have the power to extend the scope and the area of the award they make to all those neighbourhoods where competition exists and where the conditions of life are of a like character.
In order to show the principles upon which the State tribunals fixed awards I quote the following statement from Mr. Wade -
In nearly all instances where the trade before the Court or the Board is one of’ Inter-State interest the State tribunals have full power to adjust the position, because the rule, as far as I can see - I am taking one or two cases - is that the employes when they bring their cases before the Court usually begin by quoting wages in adjoining States as a foundation for some relief in the local Court.
Mr. moore : That is where the wages are higher in the adjoining States.
Mr. WADE : If the wages in the adjoining States are higher they are quoted by the men. So far as the employers are concerned, if the wages paid in the adjoining State are higher, and the manufacturers there have to bear the further cost of freight and transfer to the local State, as a rule the employers do not offer much resistance to considering, an increase of wages in their own State. It usually happens that they are able to compete successfully with the adjoining State, which is then paying a higher wage, and, as far as my experience goes, there is not much difficulty in those cases. But the difficulty arises - and this, I think, is what Mr. Deakin had in his mind when he made these proposals - where the wages in the adjoining State are lower. Where the same business people carry on trades in their own State, and in the local State the employer at once says, “ We are now faced with the fact that our competitors in the adjoining State are able to hold their own in our markets in this particular form of industry, and they have the further advantage that they are only called upon to pay a wage less than we are now paying. Therefore, if the men succeed in their request that we are to still further increase the wages here, and to that extent further handicap ourselves, the trade cannot carry on.” But, in all those cases, the position is usually dealt with in a practical manner because the parties invariably produce evidence of the cost of production of the article in the adjoining State, and they quote the wages paid in the adjoining State.
That goes to show that, in so far as the Bill does anything to adjust wages, that is already done by the Wages Boards. Mr. Wade states that these principles now guide the Wages Boards in fixing the wages. Another phase of the question is dealt with by Mr. Wade on page 12, in these words -
There are these two classes of cases in which competition exists. In one case the wage that is paid by the competing State is very much lower than that paid by the complaining State, and there is no power in the competing State by which the Wages Board or the Industrial Court can adjust these wages. Then there is the second case, where the wages may be equal for the same class of work, but the competing State employs a different kind of worker from the complaining State. If I may still quote the boot trade as an illustration, the view taken, I understand, by the boot manufacturers in New South Wales, is that, however much the local Court may adjust these matters in laying down what is a fair wage, even if they equalize the wages paid by Victoria they cannot control Victoria, as she employs a larger number of apprentices, which makes the cost of the article less. In New South Wales the manufacturer has to employ apprentices in a very different ratio. It is possible that a case of this kind may arise in the future as between State and State where competition exists, where the conditions cannot be equalized, and where the result is unfair to one or the other. It does seem that there is what I might call a gap in our local industrial powers, a gap that we cannot bridge over, and the suggestion is that in this case, where there is such competition that is unfair in the sense of being unreasonable and cannot be adjusted, there should be a power reserved for some other body to come in and adjust that particular difficulty, making its determination obligatory on the parties concerned. That is really the essence of this proposal of Mr. Deakin’s. In the first place, he differs from the movement enforced some months ago, which was to confirm the Commonwealth jurisdiction and power with regard to industrial matters, although confined to the State itself.
I think that Mr. Wade is talking of the second Mr. Deakin, not of the first Mr. Deakin, because I have in my possession a newspaper cutting which shows that when Mr. Deakin was asked in Ballarat at the last election - “ If you raise the duties for the woollen industry how do you propose to fix the wages in Victoria in order that they may be equalized in the competition with the’ other States?” he replied - “We propose to deal with that and with all other industries on exactly the same lines as we have done in the agricultural harvester case.” That is one of the most definite replies from Mr. Deakin which I have ever read, and it was made in too6.
– Yes, and it was found that it could not be done under the Constitution.
– It could be done by an alteration of the Constitution. Mr. Deakin has not yet redeemed that promise. Mr. Wade must have been referring to the second Mr. Deakin, who has appeared during the last few months. Then Mr. Watt asked - “ How do you know what suggestion Mr. Deakin is making?” Evidently he had in his hand a collection of Mr. Deakin’s election speeches. To that question Mr. Wade replied -
His letter has been sent to all the Premiers. These are the points. He makes that first distinction, that it is no longer a request to give the Commonwealth jurisdiction in matters of purely State concern.
There are some highly-protected industries which exist in only one State. According to Mr. Wade and Mr. Deakin, therefore, those industries are not to be affected by the Inter-State Commission Bill. They are to have no Wages Boards and no Arbitration Court. The Bill . offers them nothing.
– Can the honorable senator specify an industry of the kind in any State which is not provided with an industrial tribunal?
– I think that there are many such industries, but I cannot specify any off-hand.
– Can the honorable senator specify one?
– Not off-hand. I may say, however, that I do not know of any cement-making industry in any State but Victoria.
– There is an industrial tribunal in Victoria.
– I do not think that it extends to the cement-making industry.
– That is a point which can be easily dealt with.
– I believe that an inquiry will reveal some industries which exist in one State only. Mr. Wade continues -
The request only becomes operative where the trade concerned is Inter-State. Secondly, it only arises as a result of Inter-State competition of a practical character. And the third point to which I think he is agreeable, and on which we ourselves, at all events as States, should be insistent, is that even if these two propositions were established there should be no power given for the third body to intervene unless the Inter-State competition is not only, injurious, but is of an unreasonable character, and cannot be adjusted by the States concerned.
Surely when we come to read the limitations side by side with the Bill we find within what extremely narrow limits the Commission will have power.
– The honorable senator is asked to assent to a Bill, and not to any anterior expressions of opinion by any Premier.
– The Bill also bears that interpretation.
– The Bill owes its origin to the Conference. The powers of the Commission will be limited by the reference from the States. I am confident that the strong expressions of opinion by Mr. Wade - which, by the way, were not dissented from by any State Premier - will have much effect, and when we remember the wholesale surrender in the financial arrangement by the Federal Ministers to the State Premiers, we can well believe that on this question also they struck their flag, and that Mr. Wade and his colleagues had a complete victory over them. Senator de Largie has just reminded me that the sugar workers’ industry applies to only one State.
– How about New South Wales ?
– In New South Wales there is a refinery, but no crushing mill, so far as I am aware.
– There are two sugar mills - one on the Tweed and one on the Clarence.
– 1 understand from Senator de Largie that the sugar workers’ industry does not exist in any State except Queensland. I have not made an investigation for myself. After mentioning that the cost of living will have to be taken into consideration, Mr. Wade continues -
The only true criteria that I can see my way very well to lay down at present are these - that if the disparity in wages between the two States concerned is so great as to be primâ facie evidence of unfair payment in the State with the lower wage, that might be a ground for saying that the conditions are unfair, and that there is unfair competition, as for instance, if there were a case, as I quoted in the boot trade, where although wages are equal, the conditions of employment are such that one State has privileges which another State cannot concede to its own employes. Then, if we arrive at the position, from certain definite facts, that there is evidence of unfair^ competition between the States in that sense* the next question is how should action be taken? I have seen statements in the press that there is an impression abroad that the Commonwealth has asked the States to agree, and the States are inclined to agree, to the constitution of a Commonwealth tribunal in the nature of a Court of Appeal from State tribunals.
Now we shall see where Senator Best s statement comes in.
Well, so far as I am concerned, I would be absolutely against any proceeding of that kind, and if we cannot regulate this matter so as to avoid all the dangers of making this Commonwealth tribunal a Court of Appeal, I think we would be far better off in leaving it entirely alone, because if you are going to make the Commonwealth tribunal a Court of Appeal, and leave the right of appeal, as is now done, to one of the parties concerned, you will find that an inclination will arise to transfer to the Commonwealth the jurisdiction in all industrial matters -
Mr. Wade recognised the rising tide, but with his Partington mop he purposes to sweep it back - and that in every case the employes, unless they get what they want, which may be injurious to the employer, will take steps to appeal to the Commonwealth Court. We know that a Court of Appeal is always the Court which practically determines the conditions that we are to deal with, and if there be a Court of Appeal over and above our State tribunals in the hands of the Commonwealth, that only means indirectlyshearing our State tribunals of the right they now enjoy of exercising ultimate power. Therefore, to give the right of appeal to the parties, to be always invoked by the losing side, Would be, as I say, to open the door to the destruction of our rights as to industrial matters. The only safeguard that occurs to me, and I think, to a large extent, Mr. Deakin will be prepared to agree with this, is to have some judicial authority as the only channel and the only motive power for invoking the aid of the Commonwealth tribunal - that is, to remove the power from both parties in the dispute and leave it to some responsible person of standing and judicial character who is there not for party purposes but to ascertain whether, as a matter of fact, a real hardship exists owing to InterState competition of an unfair character. We have in most of the States at the, present time officers who would conform to those requirements. There is a Judge of the Arbitration Court in Western Australia. We have in New South Wales a Judge of the Industrial Court somewhat similar in character. They are both men of standing, and men whose judgment is relied upon. But in the other States, where there are Wages Boards presided over by chairmen, there is not the same character of individual presiding over those various Boards.
Mr. Watt : Of course, in Victoria we have a Court of Appeal in addition to the Wages Boards.
Mr. WADE : That will be all right, then; for Victoria.
Mr. Wilson : Do you propose that either party to a dispute shall he able to move the Arbitration Court and to state a case on appeal?
Mr. WADE : It is a matter of detail whether the parties should move the Court, or whether the matter should be brought before the Court in another way. But the point I wish to impress on the Conference is that action should not be taken unless some authority of a judicial character gives his sanction to the movement.
Mr. Watt : That is, you would have a kind of buffer court to decide whether there is a primâ facie case to go to the Arbitration Court ?
Mr. WADE : That is really what it would amount to. Queensland and South Australia, I understand, have Wages Boards presided over by chairmen who occupy positions quite different from those of the Judges whom we have in Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria.
Mr. Peake : South Australia has a Conciliation Board presided over by the Commissioner of Insolvency, and we also have a Judge of the Supreme Court, who is a Judge of Appeal.
Mr. WADE : That will simplify the position. Where the tribunal is a Wages Board pure and simple the chairman, of course, may be just a layman- he may be a business man or he may be a police magistrate, but he seldom is a Judge in any jurisdiction, and to leave the power of moving the Commonwealth tribunal to the chairman of a Wages Board, who might not realize the full responsibility of his action, might also open the door to dangerous results. What I have in my mind is that this permission to move the Commonwealth tribunal should be granted only on the authority or certificate Of a Judge of the Industrial Court or Arbitration Court, where there is one, and where the supreme head is not a Judge then upon the authority of a Judge of the Supreme Court. In that way I think we would have protection afforded to the various States, and to the parties with a just cause, and we also meet the position that where there is a real cause for the Commonwealth interposing that will be given effect to.
Mr. Peake : You mean that the Judge of the Industrial Court should certify that it is a proper case to go to the Commonwealth tribunal.
Mr. WADE : Yes. There must also be a further condition that the competition is unfair, and that the local tribunal cannot adjust it. You may have unfair competition which the local tribunal may be able to adjust.
In view of the suppression of all that was done at the Conference, of the reasons which were put forward for the action taken, and of what the Bill really meant - in the absence of that information we must fall back on these official expressions by the leaders of the Conference as to what they meant and what they were prepared to giveus.
– The honorable senator says that the report has been suppressed, and yet he has just been reading from it.
– The discussion which took place when the agreement was drawn up, and of which the Bill is a part, has been suppressed. The whole of the debate has been kept from the people and the Parliament, and, therefore. I feel compelled to put on record Mr. Wade’s statement as to what the Bill really meant, because only he and Commonwealth Ministers can know - they alone know the sequel, and the reference will be entirely a matter for the States to settle. If they like to make us a limited reference they have the power to do so. On the other hand, if they like to make a full reference they can, and the qualifications will be entirely of their making.
– They have not done anything yet.
– No. Even presuming that they do anything, the whole power lies with them. The report from which I have just quoted shows what is in the minds of those who have to make the reference to us. Mr. Wade is the Premier of New South Wales, with a large majority at his back. I have quoted the opinions which he expressed, and we have a right to assume that they represent all that the States are prepared to concede to the Commonwealth. We have to read this Bill in the light of what Mr. Wade says he is prepared to grant us.
– What does he say?
– He says that he will not agree to setting up a Court of Appeal. He declares that access to the tribunal to be established should be gained only through the medium of a Judge of the Supreme Court - that the parties affected by any dispute must prove to the satisfaction of a Judge of that Court that competition of an unreasonable nature exists in any particular industry, or that the wages paid in it are of an unreasonable character. Having done that, the Judge may make a reference to the Inter- State Commission, and the latter, to the extent of the area affected - which may be only a limited one - may then adjust the rates which are operative in the various States. No scintilla of original jurisdiction will be vested in the Board. Upon page 15 of the report, Mr. Watt raised the question of a living wage, and Mr. Wade’s reply was -
If we give effect to any suggestion to make the interpretation of industrial law uniform, we may open wide the door to giving control to the Commonwealth. Once that power is given a large inroad is made with regard to the powers of the States in remaining matters. If we confine it to special cases of the character outlined,then we are doing no wrong to ourselves - there is no violation of State rights, and we supply machinery for a gap that apparently from time to time may exist. I think, myself, in some instances when these facts are brought before the States concerned in a practical way, they would be able, through the power of Inter-State community, to adjust matters. Cases may arise in which that is not practical or is not desired, and to meet special cases of unfair competition through reasons that the complaining States cannot control, we are asked to give power to the Commonwealth tribunal to step in. The last stage of this general sketch is as to what form this so-called Commonwealth tribunal should take.
As to who is the originator of these proposals as affecting new Protection, a little daylight has been let in by Mr. Wade. Upon page 16 of the same document he is thus reported -
Our concern is that our views are very much in agreement with those Mr. Deakin has laid down.I saw Mr. Cook, one of the present Ministers, before he took office actually - I know his views are still unchanged - and discussed this question with him. I know that his own personal feeling was that they would be quite content if the moving party was somebody responsible, such as a Judge presiding over an industrial tribunal or a Judge of one of the higher jurisdictions of the State. I want to say, by way of a final word, that I recognise this as a most difficult question. We are trenching on dangerous ground, and while I can see a logical reason for asking for certain additional powers to meet certain deficiencies which the State machinery cannot supply, at the same time we must conserve the State Constitutions from any encroachment of a serious character, and the granting of these powers should be surrounded by verystrict safeguards.
So that this matter was arranged before the Government came into office. Upon the statement of Mr. Wade, the Bill formed a part of the Fusion arrangement, and there was collusion between the Premier of New South Wales and the Fusion Ministers. Perhaps that information supplies the real reason why the Premiers’ Conference sat with closed doors, and why we have no record of the debate which took place between the Commonwealth and State. I notice that the last portion of this Bill deals with the question of investigations. I regard that as so much padding. We already have in existence a Commonwealth Statistical Bureau, and I venture to say that practically the whole of the functions mentioned in Part VI. of the Bill might well be discharged by that Bureau. Do we need to establish an Inter-State Commission at a cost of . £20,000 annually to supply us with information affecting -
Do we need to pay a man £2, 500 a year to preside over a body whose duty it will be to compile statistics? Is the InterState Commission to be a roving Commission? Does not our Statistical Depart ment supply us with information relating to the growth of our manufactures ? Do we require an Inter- State Commission to investigate matters affecting -
What is our Parliamentary Library for? I venture to say that any honorable senator who asks our librarian for information upon that matter can obtain it within a very few minutes. Then the functions of theCommission are to extend to -
Will anybody affirm that we require a Commission to tell us that unemployment exists in Australia?
– But we might have more accurate information as to where that condition obtains.
– If the honorable senator will take the trouble to write to the secretaries of the labour bureaux in the different States, he can easily get that information. They keep their registers, and endeavour, as far as possible, to find employment for those who are unemployed. Will the Inter-State Commission be availed of to a greater extent in that connexion than are the labour bureaux of the States? I also learn, from a perusal of the Bill, that the Commission is to inquire into matters affecting population and industrial conditions and immigration. I say that all these provisions represent only so much flapdoodle, which is intended to be used at the next general election. They will then be trotted forward in the hope that the electors may not know that these matters are already being dealt with by efficient bodies. The Bill, so far as it relates to the creation of an Inter-State Commission, is unnecessary. The causes which might call for it do not exist. An agreement regulating our railway freights is already operative, and there is no indication that it is likely to be repealed. The Bill offers no redress in the matter of industrial conditions to the workers throughout the Commonwealth. At the last general election, they asked the Prime Minister for bread, and he now proposes to give them a bundle of statistics. They ask him to give effect to his pledges in respect to the new Protection, and in reply he says, “ I will not listen to you until you can prove to the satisfaction of a Judge of the Supreme Court that Inter-State competition of an injurious character prevails. I will not allow you to approach the tribunal which
I propose to set up. You are not worthy to wipe your shoes upon its doormat.” No body of workers throughout the Commonwealth will be able to approach this tribunal.
– The industrial organization has merely to make out a prima facie case in the view of the Judge of the Court, and he will then refer it to the Federal tribunal for an adjustment of the matters which are in dispute.
– Who will be affected by unfair competition? Take the fellmongery case, to which I have already made reference. In that case, was the Victorian worker affected by outside competition ? No. He was affected by the sweating which was being practised within his own State. In a limited number of cases, the employers will be able to gain access to the Inter- State Commission, but the employes will never be able to do so.
– Then, in a limited sense, the Bill will confer some benefit upon the employer ?
– Yes; but the worker cannot benefit by it.
– Has he not representation upon the Wages Board - upon the industrial tribunal?
– The Wages Board is not the industrial tribunal. The Bill declares that - “ State industrial authority “ means any board or court of conciliation or arbitration, or wages board, or tribunal, body, or persons, having authority under a State Act to exercise powers of conciliation or arbitration with respect _t* industrial disputes or to determine industrial matter.
But in each case where Wages Boards exist there is also an Appeal Court, and the Bill clearly sets out that the appeal must come from that Court.
– The industrial tribunal has merely to go before the Court and establish a prima facie case.
-Can a Wages Board in Victoria disregard the Court of Industrial Appeal, and proceed direct to the Inter-State Commission?
– It can establish a prima facie case before the Court.
– The Wages Board cannot appeal direct to the Inter-State Commission.
– Of course it cannot.
– The honorable senator is quite right in declaring that the Bill is not of much use in that respect, but I think that he is straining its provisions somewhat.
– I am not. No Wages Board can go direct to the InterState Commission until it has obtained the consent of the industrial tribunal. The union which represents the workers has first to get past the Appeal Court.
– It is not an Appeal Court. It may be a Judge of the Supreme Court.
– The honorable senator shuts his eyes to the fact that where there are Wages Boards there are Appeal Courts.
– What the honorable senator means is that the actual disputants cannot go to the Commonwealth tribunal at all until they get the leave of the Court of a State to enable them to do so.
– That is what I contend. I say that when they go before a State Court to move it, they will not pre- sent their case under this Bill, but under the law of the State - the model Bill proposed by the State Premiers. This Bill will come into operation only when the Judge of the Appeal Court or of the Arbitration Court, as the case may be, says, “1 think there is a case for reference to the Inter-State Commission. ‘ ‘
– But they will present an altogether different case to the Appeal Court, and an entirely different issue.
– They might or might not do so. The honorable senator has diverted me from the. point that I intended to make. Where a body of workers have approached a Wages Board and that Board has awarded them something less than a living wage, say 36s. a week, as in the fellmongering industry in Victoria, they can go to the Appeal Court and say, “ We appeal to you to allow us to appear before the Inter-State Commission.” What will the Appeal Court say? The Court will say, “ You have to establish your case. You have to prove that you are being unfairly competed with by workers in other States.” They cannot possibly do that. If they said, “ In New South Wales workers are paid 45s. per week for the work for which we receive 36s.”, the reply would be, “ There is no necessity for an appeal to the Inter-State Commission so far as you are concerned. It is the workers in New South Wales who are suffering from unfair competition, and it is the New
South Wales Court that must make the application.” But in New South Wales it would be, not the workers, but the employers who would feel that they bad any reason to complain.
– No, the interests of the workers and of the employers are identical.
– Therefore the only case in which such a matter could be brought before the Inter-State Commission would be one in which the only person who could make the application would be an employer.
– Could not the employes in the case mentioned complain that they were being unfairly competed with?
– Complain to whom ?
– To the Board that awarded them 45s. per week.
– They might do so, and might have the experience of those engaged in the baking trade in Victoria. The Wages Board in that trade fixed the living wage at £2 14s. per week, and the employers appealed to the Appeal Court, who brought the wages down again to £2 10s.
– What I mean is that the Court might be moved on an entirely different issue.
– What I am concerned about is, who is to go before the Inter-State Commission, and how they are to get there. I think that I have shown pretty clearly that in no case can the workers get there.
– Would not unfair competition be followed by a diversion of trade, which would be injurious alike to employe’s and employers?
– It might or might notbe. I have pointed out that the employes, the persons whom we desire to assist, the people of whom it has been said that they are not getting their fair share of Protection, are prevented under the Bill even from asking for it. The only people who, under this Bill, could approach the Inter-State Commission are those who are already getting a fair share of Protection.
– Would the honorable senator say at whose instance the powers of the Inter- State Commission in these industrial matters is to be invoked ?
– The honorable senator will see that clause 43 provides that -
Where a Court of a State has on the complaint of a State industrial authority in the State-
– Just so. Neither of the disputants can apply to the Court of a State at all. It must be an industrial authority of the State, and it is necessary first of all to induce that industrial authority to feel that its own judgment has been erroneous.
– That is so.
– Its own judgment is not involved in this at all.
– Yes, it is.
– Suppose we assume that the Wages Board in the boot-making industry of Victoria has made an award and fixed a wage higher than that paid in the industry in New South Wales. The Board would have done that with a full knowledge of the wages fixed in New South Wales. The employers may say, “ You have fixed a wage which is 6s. per week more than the wage paid in New South Wales. This has had the effect of bringing about unfair competition, and we, therefore, wish to appeal to the Inter-State Commission. You are a State industrial authority, and, as such, we wish you to move the Appeal Court to state a case for the Inter-State Commission.” As Senator Symon has said, if the members of the Wages Board agree to do so, they will censure themselves. They will have to say, “ We have fixed a wage which is unfair to you, because it produces unfair competition with you. We shall, therefore, grant your prayer, and will move the Appeal Court to send the matter on to the Inter-State Commission.”
– Might not the Board say, “ We have fixed a wage which is perfectly fair. But we grant your prayer and will move the Appeal Court to refer the matter to the Inter- State Commission in order that New South Wales employers may be compelled to pay a fair wage? “
– I have stated a case in which a Wages Board in Victoria makes an award which is 6s. per week higher than the wage paid in the same industry in New South Wales. Senator Trenwith assumes that having done so the Victorian Wages Board will go back upon its award and move for an appeal to the Inter-State Commission.
– It would not be going back but going forward with the New South Wales award.
– We constantly have Judges permitting appeals against their judgments.
– But in this case the Appeal Court would have to be satisfied that a case of unfair competition had been established before it would allow a matter to be referred to the Inter-State Commission.
– It might do so at once, in order to bring up the New South Wales award to what is fair and reasonable.
– The complaint is against the State paying the lower wage.
– Does the honorable senator forget the quotations which I have made from Mr. Wade’s speech, in which he pointed out that in dealing with these matters Wages Boards are always governed by the wages fixed in other States ? I have been led into making a longer speech than I intended. I have done so because I have felt that the question is very intricate and involved, and because I believe the Bill has been deliberately put forward for the purpose of misleading the electors of Australia. I believe it is intended to induce the workers to believe that they will be getting some fulfilment of the promises made to them by the Prime Minister, Senator Best, and others, at the last Federal election, that they would be given some of the advantages of Protection. The Government say that this Bill embodies the new Protection, that it is a redemption of their promises, and I have felt it to be my duty to expose the hollowness and insincerity of the measure. I have no fault to find with other provisions of the Bill. It seems to me to be modelled very much on the lines of a previous Inter-State Commission Bill. For such purposes I believe that the Bill is unnecessary. The Minister of Trade and Customs did not give a single instance to show that the measure is required for those purposes. I think it might very well be put on one side and that it certainly should not be passed this session.
– I was not anxious to enter into the debate after the eloquent address and complete analysis of the Bill by Senator Pearce. I did expect that after the scrutiny and able exposition of the mea sure, from his point of view, some honorable senator opposite would have vouchsafed a reply.
– The honorable senator would not give us a show.
– The President was putting the question.
– Senator Gray says that I would not give honorable senators opposite a show, but this is the second time this afternoon that the President was about to put the question for the second reading of the Bill.
– Why not? Does the honorable senator think that the question would have been passed?
– I think that it would have been a calamity if the second reading of the Bill had been agreed to when the question was put this afternoon before Senator Pearce spoke. If it were only because we have been given an opportunity to listen to that honorable senator’s speech we should be thankful that the second reading was not carried this afternoon. It is evident that there is a conspiracy of silence amongst the supporters of the Ministry. I do not intend to occupy the time of the Senate at great length in dealing with this measure. I have gone through the various clauses very carefully, and have come to the conclusion that the Bill bears on itsface the imprint of the Fusion. In my opinion, the word in this connexion means fear.
– The honorable senator thinks that the prefix “con” should appear.
– I believe that if it becomes law the Bill will bring about confusion. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in moving the second reading of the measure, said that in 1901 a similar Bill was introduced. It was shelved on that occasion, because Parliament considered at the time that such a Bill was premature. I am of the opinion that a similar objection can be urged against this Bill. The Minister certainly did not advance a single argument why such a Bill should become law. He enumerated what he considered the’ good points in the Bill, and said that it was wide and comprehensive; but I should like to saythat it is very wide of the particular purpose for which the Minister tried to convince the Senate it was intended, namely to confer upon the workers of Aus- tralia the benefits of the new Protection. I have here a memorandum circulated by the Minister, and on which his speech was based. It is a summary of English and American legislation. On going through it I find that the only thing we have to depend on is the fact that in England and America similar legislation has been passed for the regulation of freights, railway rates, and so oh. In proof of that I quote from the speech delivered by the Minister in moving the second reading of the measure. Referring to the powers of the proposed Inter-State Commission the honorable senator said -
The Commission, according to the terms of the Bill, will have jurisdiction over transport and carriage on land and water, so far as InterState trade is concerned. In England, there is a similar or corresponding body, which has full and like control over railways, canals, and ships chartered by railway companies in connexion with their traffic. In the United States, there is also an Inter-State Commission, which has full and complete jurisdiction over land and water carriage when both are used and are under common’ control, management, or arrangement for the continuous carriage or shipment of goods; but the Inter-State Commission of the United States has not jurisdiction over exclusively water, as apart from land traffic.
That was the first portion of the Minister’s speech, in which he tried to justify the second reading of this Bill. Further on he said -
In respect to English legislation, we draw upon the Railway- Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845, thc Railway and Canal Act of 1854, the Regulation of Railways Act of 1873, and particularly upon the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888. ‘ The -Railway Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845 contains what is called an equality section, which provides that tolls shall at all times be charged equally to all persons at the same rates. The Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1854 especially dealt with undue preference and traffic facilities; and, amongst other things, provided that no company should make or give any undue or unreasonable preferenceor advantage to, or in favour of, any particular person or company or any particular description of traffic. Under the Act of 1873, provision was made for the appointment of three Railway Commissioners of whom one was to be of experience in the law, and one of experience in railways; but that section was subsequently altered in the Act of 1888, to which I shall afterwards refer.
I quote the exact words use’d by the Minister in order to prove that the basis of this Bill is really the regulation of railway and shipping traffic between the States. But while that is the real purpose, the measure is held up to the public gaze as one which will give to the people what has long been promised, a corollary to the last Tariff in the shape of new Protection. The Minister also said -
The Commission will have power to prescribe reasonable and just rates in regard to railway rates, shipping freights, &c.
Once we leave that phase of the situation, however, we are done with the Bill as a utilitarian measure. It has been said that the Bill is subject to constitutional limitations. That, to my mind, . is the key of the arch. There is a doubt about the legality of the measure. But even supposing that its general provisions are legal, 1 should like to know how we can constitutionally or legally over-ride the decision of the High Court on Mr. Justice Higgins’ award in the McKay Harvester case. I am assuming that the Government are serious, and that Senator Best is convinced that if his Bill becomes law the Inter-State Commission will have power to enforce new Protection regulations. No doubt, the Minister will tell us in his reply that the real object of the Bill is to give practical effect to the new Protection idea. But I fail to see how such a policy will be forwarded by the passage of the measure. While it contains provisions enabling the Commission’ to prescribe reasonable and just shipping and railway freights it does not contain specific powers for the prescription of fair and reasonable wages for workers in various industries. If the intention of the Ministry really be to establish the new Protection principle the Bill is in that regard entirely useless. It is simply » piece of waste paper. The Government are doing nothing better than throwing dust in the eyes of the people. Senator Best said that the most controversial portion of the measure is Part V. I agree with him. Indeed, that is the vital part. But I am afraid that it will leave us exactly where we axe with respect to industrial legislation. We have been told that a model Bill has been framed by the Premiers. The Minister assures us that the Premiers have agreed to facilitate the passage of that model Bill through the State Parliaments. But even if they have agreed to do so, does the Minister himself think for a moment that the model Bill will be passed by the Legislatures of the States? I do not think that Senator Best is so foolish as to believe such a thing. He says that the Government are prepared to trust the Premiers. No doubt they are gentlemen of honour and of integrity. But a few months ago the same Minister, when in charge of the Tariff, told us that he was prepared to trust the manufacturers.
– Did I ? .
– The honorable senator did, and he knows that he did.
– Let the honorable senator find what I said and read the context.
– The Government of which the honorable senator was a member told the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives that if certain Protective duties were passed the manufacturers of Australia were quite prepared to share that protection with the workers and consumers. Will the Minister deny that statement?
– The honorable senator is quoting a statement apart from the context.
– That is just a lawyer’s shuffle. No member of the Senate knows better than Senator Best does that had it not been for the assurance given by himself and his Government the Tariff as it stands to-day would not have been upon the statute-book. There were some members of this Parliament who were by no means out-and-out Protectionists. Personally, I speak as a Protectionist, but there were others who voted for high duties who were by no means ardent Protectionists. Senator Best, who engineered the Tariff through the Senate, knows that he had a very hard row to hoe. He had no stronger opponent than the honorable senator who now sits cheek by jowl with him. He and Senator Millen now sit together like cooing doves.
– I think that Senator Needham was then one of Senator Best’s supporters?
– At any rate I was not like Senator Mulcahy, who sat on both sides and gave allegiance to neither. He was a senator upon whom no one could depend. The Minister says that he is prepared to trust the Premiers of the States. I have pointed out that the trust which the same Minister reposed in the manufacturers was misplaced. He was relying upon a broken reed. So soon as the Tariff was passed what did we see? We had the spectacle of the manufacturers backing up Mr. McKay in his appeal from the decision of Mr. Justice Higgins in the Harvester case. There the manufacturers had a chance to prove their sincerity. They clamoured loud and long for a Protective Tariff. They besieged the lobbies and asked the members of both Houses to vote for Protective duties. They held out to the Government, as well as to members of Parliament generally, a promise that if the Tariff became law they would share with the workers the benefits of the Protection which they received. But on the very first opportunity which presented itself they tested the validity of an Act of this Parliament which would have conferred upon the worker a fair share of the Protection afforded to the manufacturer.
– Why did not the honorable senator turn out that Government?
– The reason why 1 was dissatisfied with the last Deakin Government was that after they got the Tariff passed they would not put their idea of new Protection before us at all. I now come to the question of the Wages Boards and industrial tribunals for which this Bill provides. Senator Pearce has already shown that there are States in which there is no industrial tribunal. I do not want to again refer to the case of Tasmania, as it has been quoted so often. True it is that the. Premier has promised that legislation will be introduced in order to bring about the establishment of an industrial tribunal of some sort. Whether it will be a Wages Board or an Industrial Court I know not. Even suppose that he is willing to carry’ out his promise, it must not be forgotten that in every State there is a Legislative Council, in other words a stumbling blockto the effective working of the industrial “ part of this Bill. Whilst the Legislative. Councils are constituted on their present basis, there is not the slightest possibility of the measure, even though it contained all the essentials of new Protection - which it does not - being put into operation. In his opening speech the Minister said that the Government were relying on the Wages Boards, which honorable senators on the opposite side were trying to discredit. 1 presume that he was referring to the members of the Labour Opposition. I have never heard a Labour man in this or any other Parliament try to discredit’ a Wages Board. What I have heard, and what I know, is that in some of the States where Wages Boards exist there is an Appeal Court which entirely destroys the utility or .the benefit of the system. I do not think that Australia furnishes a better case to illustrate my argument than the case of the bakers in Victoria. The Wages Board was composed of a number of men, every one of whom had a technical knowledge of the industry. After deliberating long and carefully the Board decided that the wages of the bakers should be £2 14s. per week. An appeal was made by the master-bakers to a Judge of the Supreme Court, who, of course, cannot be expected to have a technical knowledge of every industry and of every phase of an industry in connexion with which he is called upon to adjudicate. His Honor decided to annul the determination of the Board, and fixed the wages at £2 10s. per week.
– He split the difference.
– At any rate the Judge reduced the award of the men who had a thorough technical knowledge of the industry. If the Labour party can be accused of anything, then in the words of the Minister they can be accused of discrediting an appeal from a Wages Board to a gentleman who cannot possibly have a technical knowledge of all the points in dispute between the parties. If the dispute in a case ended with the determination of the Wages Board there would be no greater advocate of Wages Boards than myself. But the system in vogue in Victoria is, I hold, dangerous. During the speech of Senator Pearce a great deal of interest centred round the course of appeal from a Wages Board to the Inter-State Commission. I do not desire to elaborate the point, but merely to quote a few lines, which, to my mind, put the whole case in a nutshell. On page 13 of the report of the Inter-State Conference honorable senators will find this passage -
Mr. Watt : Of course, in Victoria we have a Court of Appeal in addition to the Wages Boards.
Mr. WADE : That will be all right, then, for Victoria.’
Mr. Wilson : Do you propose that either party to a dispute shall be able to move the Arbitration Court and to state a case on appeal ?
Mr. WADE : It is a matter of detail whether the parties should move the Court, or whether the matter should be brought before the Court in another way. But the point I wish to impress on the Conference is that action should not be taken unless some authority of a judicial character gives his sanction to the movement.
Mr. Watt : That is, you would have a kind of buffer court to decide whether there is a prima facie case to go to the Arbitration Court ?
Mr. WADE : That is really what it would amount to. Queensland and South Australia, I understand, have Wages Boards presided over by chairmen who occupy positions quite different from those of the judges whom we have in
Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria.
Mr. Peake : South Australia has a Conciliation Board presided over by the Commissioner of Insolvency, and we also have a Judge of the Supreme Court, who is a Judge of Appeal.
Mr. WADE : That will simplify the position. Where the tribunal is a Wages Board pure and simple the chairman,of course, may be just a layman - he may be a business man or he may be a police magistrate, but he seldom is a Judge in any jurisdiction, and to leave the power of moving the Commonwealth tribunal to the chairman of a Wages Board, who might not realize the full responsibility of his action, might also open the door to dangerous results.
The Government are practically asking us to swallow this Bill without debate, and at the same time telling the people that if it becomes law it will be the means of carrying out the promises of at least one or two Ministers, so far as the new Protection is concerned. Referring to the award in the McKay Harvester Case, the Minister said, as reported on page 4132 -
It is quite true that the President of that tribunal has laid it down that a living wage - that is a wage sufficient to permit of a man maintaining himself and his family in comfort - must be paid irrespective of whether the industry could afford it or not. For the moment I have had no quarrel with that dictum, but I should like - if it were possible to do so - to enforce it also against our competitors in the markets of the world. That mere passing circumstance has caused the Labour party to swing round and to endeavour to wrest from the States the industrial powers which have been solemnly vested in them.
It is quite evident from the Minister’s words that the question of whether a man can or cannot maintain himself, his family, and those dependent upon him, in comfort, is a “mere passing circumstance.” Has it come to this pass in Australia - that a responsible Minister can stand up in the National Parliament and say in an airy fashion that the question of a man living in comfort and maintaining his wife and dependents in that state, is a “ mere passing circumstance “ ?
– The honorable senator knows very well that that is a most improper meaning to attach to what I said. It was never intended.
– The Minister knows very well that I am not imputing motives. I am quoting the exact words which he used in moving the second reading of this Bill. Of course, if he says that he did not use those words-
– I used them in this sense : That if, by chance, we will say A.B. had occupied the position which was occupied by the particular Judge to whom I referred, and had awarded wages which were lower than those awarded by the Wages Board, ray friend would not have had the same admiration for the Arbitration Court.
– I am not referring to the tribunal or to the gentleman who presides over it, or to the amount of the award, but to the words used by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– That is the “ passing circumstance” to which I referred.
– It is the “mere passing circumstance” to which the Minister did not refer.
– The honorable senator will accept my explanation.
– The Minister stated that this “ mere passing circumstance “ had caused the Labour party to swing round and to endeavour to wrest from the States the industrial powers which had been solemnly vested in them. This portion of his statement has a doublebarrelled meaning. He first referred to the necessity which exists for a man living in comfort as a “ mere passing circumstance,” and then he added that this had caused the Labour party to swing round and to attempt to wrest from the States the industrial powers which had been vested in them. No greater libel upon any party was ever uttered.
– I protest against the honorable senator deliberately misconstruing my words.
– The Minister may protest as much as he chooses. I am not deliberately misconstruing his words. I am putting my own construction upon them; and when he alleges that I am deliberately misconstruing them, I have no option but to leave him to his fate. This Parliament has already legislated for the protection of Australian manufacturers, and I desire to see it legislate for the protection of Australian workers.
– That term would include everybody.
– My honorable friend, with his usual impetuosity, will not allow me to finish my sentence. This Parliament has already enacted a Protective Tariff, and I want to see it protect, not only our manufacturers, but all those who are engaged in our protected industries.
– Why not include those who are engaged in unprotected industries ?
– As a lawyer, Senator St. Ledger knows perfectly well that a difference of opinion exists amongst legal authorities in respect of that phase of the question. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court has already awarded “fair and reasonable” wages in industries which do not come within the scope of the Tariff. But I am now dealing only with the new Protection phase of this Bill. To my mind, there is only one way in which the benefits of new Protection can be conferred on the workers of Australia.
– What is that?
– By a direct ap peal to the people.
– That is what the Government propose.
– It is quite evident that Senator Chataway has not read the Bill. I have already referred to the promises which were made by the Minister of Trade and Customs, when, as Leader of the Senate, he endeavoured to get a Protective Tariff through this chamber. I would remind him, too, of the utterance of his chief, Mr. Deakin, who affirmed that there is only one way in whichthis question can be settled. After the High Court had given its judgment in the McKay case, the Prime Minister said that there was yet another tribunal to which he might appeal, meaning the people of Australia.
– The Prime Minister has always upheld State rights.
– He has upheld so many things that it is difficult to say what he has not upheld.
– The honorable senator upheld the Prime Minister at one time.
– I am sorry that I did. I shall not uphold him again. I think it is the duty of the Senate to secure, the immediate remission of the question of the new Protection to the people. I fail to see by what process of reasoning the Government conclude that this Bill can in any way override or set aside the decision of the High Court. Senator Best has declared that if the agreement with the State Premiers be not carried out, a new situation will be created. I do not think that it will. Things will be in statu quo. The Government have no power to compel the State Parliaments, which at present are the real arbiters of the situation, so far as Part V. of the Bill is concerned, to agree to the provisos therein contained. The most manly course to adopt would be to introduce another Bill providing for. an amendment of the Constitution, and thus give the electors an opportunity of saying whether, or not the modern idea of the new Protection shall be at once put into operation. The Government are evading the situation. In conclusion, I must express the hope that, before the second reading of the Bill is carried, fair consideration will be given to its provisions. I trust that the argument’s advanced by the Minister of Trade and Customs will be carefully analyzed, in so far as they relate to that part of the Bill which purports to give effect to the new Protection. I hope that the Government will reconsider their position so far as that portion of the measure is concerned.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Largie) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at9.43 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091013_senate_3_52/>.