4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to move the adoption of the report of the Printing Committee.
– The motion has been declared not formal.
– I wish to say that I called “ not formal “ to the motion because I believe an opportunity ought to be given to discuss every report of the Printing Committee that is presented. Seeing the position which the motion occupies on the business paper, I should be glad, if I may do so, to withdraw my call of ‘.’ not formal “ to the motion.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - As a matter of order, I might point out that if any honorable senator wishes to discuss the report of the Printing Committee to-day the difficulty might be overcome by the Government moving the postponement of Government business until after the consideration of the motion standing in Senator Henderson’s name.
– I was going to suggest that when die honorable senator rose.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Orders of the Day, Government business, be postponed until after the consideration of Notice of Motion (Private Business) No. 1.
’. - I move -
That the report of the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on the 18th August, 1910, be adopted.
The whole of the papers presented to the Senate in the interval between the- last two meetings of the Printing Committee have been considered and dealt with as shown in the report.
– As honorable senators are no doubt aware, I have always held the opinion that every paper presented to Parliament should be printed. The Printing Committee, in its wisdom, has thought otherwise, and has been supported by the; Senate. So that now a selection is made, and if an honorable senator desires to see a particular document, the printing of which the Printing Committee has not approved, he must secure the original paper and peruse that.
– Or submit a motion in the Senate to have it printed.
– Yes. As. I have said, I think that every paper presented to Parliament should be printed.
– That would mean that there need be no Printing Committee.
– I am not troubled about the Printing Committee. The natural inference from- what I have said is that I believe the Printing Committee to be a superfluity. In the report now before the Senate this reference is made to papers presented under the Lands Acquisition Act -
Disposal of Land as part compensation to H. &’. Bliss for ‘Land acquired at Enoggera. No recommendation. Published in Gazette.
And so with regard to two other papers of the same kind. As a matter of fact, very few honorable senators read the Gazette. We have no time to be looking through it for items which may possibly interest us. All these matters should’ be brought particularly under our notice by the circulation to honorable senators of the printed papers. I remember that, on a previous occasion, an’ opinion was expressed that the Hon. Staniforth Smith’s report of progress in Papua .should not be printed ; but I still hold- that we ought to know what is going on in that- Territory: We have in the Hon. Staniforth Smith a very zealous, and, I believe, efficient Commissioner, and I hope we are all interested in the development of Papua, for the government of which we are responsible. We have a problem before us there, which, I think, will be very difficult to solve. Honorable senators should be supplied with all information that can be obtained -‘concerning Papua. I believe that every report sent in by the Commissioner should be printed and placed in the hands of honorable senators. Under the practice now followed, unless an honorable senator takes a special interest in the Territory, he will not be likely to look up these reports. If they are not printed, they .may never come under his notice, but if they were printed and circulated to honorable senators, they, would be read, and might be found of great use. I see, in the report, another entry under the Postmaster- General’s Department -
General Post Office, Sydney - Hours worked by Officers in the Delivery and Despatch Room. No recommendation.
I do not know why the Committee did not recommend that that paper should be ‘ printed. I think it is very important that honorable . senators should have these papers.
– Has the honorablesenator not received that paper?
– No; it has not been printed. I see that a footnote is attached to the reference to it which indi- . cates that it was “ presented to House of Representatives only.” I have understood that a paper presented in either House is presented to Parliament. If this paper was printed for the House of Representatives, honorable senators should be supplied with copies of it. I might direct attention to several other papers which ought to have been printed, but this report merely confirms me in the opinion that every paper presented to this- Parliament should be printed.
– I should like to indorse the remarks made by Senator Stewart as to the New Guinea papers. In the absence of any explanation, I cannot understand why reports upon the Territory controlled by this Parliament should be merely pigeonholed. There is much in the contention of the honorable senator that we have a difficult problem to face in New Guinea.
– All information respecting New Guinea is to be found’ in the periodical reports, which can be seen on the Library table.
– We should not have to go to the Library table for these papers’. I have no doubt, however, that if honorable senators express a wish for the printing of particular papers, the Printing Committee will do what they can to comply with it/ Another matter towhich I take exception is that certain papers appear to be presented to one House, and not to the other. I am not asking that there should be .-a duplication of printing, and, ‘no doubt, there is some explanation for this.
– There is a very good one.
– I am asking for information. I was always under the impression that papers tabled by Ministers in either House were presented to Parliament. I shall be obliged to Senator Henderson, or any other honorable senator, who will give us information on this point.
– I notice a reference in the report to a paper on the Federal Capital site -
Water Supply - Discharges of the Cotter River - 20th May to 29th June, 1910. and I should like to know from Senator Henderson why that paper is not to be printed? I find also that the paper to which I refer was presented to the House of Representatives only. It deals with a matter with which honorable senators are concerned, and if it was right that it should be presented to the House of Representatives, it should also have been presented to the Senate, or it should have been printed so that honorable .senators might have an opportunity of perusing it.
– 1 I regret very much if the Printing Committee have failed to recommend the printing of any paper which ought to be printed. The work of the Committee has always been effectively and well done, but the members of the Committee are not infallible, and, if they do not recommend the printing of papers in which honorable senators take a special interest, it is in the power of those concerned about them to secure an amendment of the motion for the adoption of .the Printing Committee’s report, and have those papers printed. With respect to Senator Stewart’s objections, I may inform the Senate that an effort was made to have him appointed a member of the Printing Committee, so that nothing might escape attention, and that honorable senators might be furnished with all the information necessary. But Senator Stewart would not consent to go on the Committee. He preferred to remain outside so that he might be ,in a position to throw stones at the members of the Committee when they endeavoured to do their work - no doubt as efficiently as possible. I hardly think that was fair. If the honorable senator desires the printing of any paper in connexion with which the Committee have made no recommendation, he has only to move an amendment upon the motion submitted by Senator Henderson, when I have no doubt he will receive assistance from honorable senators.
– I wish to say with regard to the attitude adopted by Senator Stewart and other honorable senators, that the members of the Printing Committee have no particular desire to take upon themselves the duties with which they have been intrusted. There is no member of the Committee who would not willingly resign tomorrow and allow the whole of the papers presented to the Senate to be printed; but I can assure honorable senators that, if that course were followed, it would involve a huge waste of public money in the printing of trash in papers which are called for in the Senate and in another place. I wish to say, in connexion with the papers listed under the Lands Acquisition Act to which Senator Stewart made reference, that they refer to matters of a formal character, and are to be found in every issue of the Commonwealth Gazette. The’ Printing Committee would not be jus,tified in recommending the printing of such papers. No member of the Senate need be without a copy of the Gazette, and he can always look up the facts in regard to the acquisition of lands by the Commonwealth. With regard to the Papuan reports, I may explain that the documents referred to come to hand periodically. We get them probably once in every two or three months. Since the Commonwealth took over the Territory such reports have always been forthcoming. In addition, we get an annual report, which conveys to every member of Parliament the whole of the information which has previously appeared in the periodical reports, and is always printed and circulated. The Printing Committee believe it to be their duty not to recommend the printing of the information which is afterwards contained in the annual report.
– The same remark applies to the fisheries work, and yet in that case the Committee have recommended the printing of a report as to ten days’ operations.
– No, the same remark does not. apply to the fisheries report. The document referred to by Senator Guthrie relates to the whole of the proceedings of the Endeavour on one of her voyages, and the information given was considered to be of value. The Printing Committee gave full consideration to the paper relating to the hours of labour of mail and despatch officers. It would probably take half the staff of the printing office a couple of days to put that information into type, and when that cost had been incurred the paper would simply tell members of Parliament that one man worked for an hour and a-half on Thursday, and another for an hour and a-half on Friday, and so forth.
– A similar paper last year would have cost ^250 te print.
– That is so, and the printing of the paper which is now in question would have cost 1 similar amount. The Printing Committee was satisfied that it was in the best interests of all that the paper should not be printed. The Committee go to a great deal of trouble in considering the utility of the documents laid before them. They have no particular desire to discharge this duty. If the Senate desires to consult the wishes of the members of the Committee, it will simply relieve us of our task.
– Why are some papers presented in one House of the Legislature and not in another?
– A star has been placed against some papers to show that they have been presented to 011c House of the Legislature, not necessarily as the result of Ministerial action, but possibly by request of some member of Parliament. Say that an honorable senator calls for a paper. It is produced, and ordered to be printed. When it is laid upon the table’ in the Senate, it is not necessarily laid upon the table in the other House also.
– That explanation does not cover all the papers referred to.
– In some cases a Minister laid the paper upon the table in one House only. We will say that the Minister of Defence presents a paper to the Senate; possibly the same paper is not presented to the House of Representatives. Similarly, though a Minister may lay a paper upon the table in the House of Representatives, it does not follow that it will be laid upon the table in the Seriate.
– But members of both Houses of Parliament receive those papers when they are ‘.printed.
– They do, and a star is placed against the titles of the papers in question to indicate that they have been printed by order of one branch of the Legislature.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Early this morning I made a request to the Leader of the Opposition with the object of expediting business and clearing the notice-paper as far as we could. I hoped that after the exhaustive manner ‘ in which this Bill had been discussed in Committee, the Opposition would be prepared to assist the Government in passing it through its remaining stages. The Leader of the Opposition did not see fit to comply with my request, but now that the report has been adopted, I trust that he will agree to enable us to take the third-reading stage without further delay. With that object in view, I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through its remaining stage without delay.
– I should have been more inclined, and, indeed, under a greater obligation, to listen to the appeal which has been made to me by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, if he had given some reason why the Senate should depart from the ordinary method of dealing with legislation.
– To-morrow is Saturday.
– Exactly, and the next day is Sunday. It might be said in regard to every Bill that comes before us that we should suspend the Standing Orders because to-morrow is some other day. But there is an obligation upon a Minister who asks the Senate to lay aside its Standing Orders, to adduce some reason why we should depart from the ordinary procedure. He should show there is some urgency which induces him to ask us to break down the safeguard provided by the Standing Orders. But the Minister offered no explanation. He merely made an appeal to me. I am not prepared to yield to an appeal of the kind from a Minister who has shown no special reason for the course proposed. I should have been prepared to consider any argument advanced by the honorable senator, but he offered no explanation whatever.
– Yes, he said he desired to expedite business, and thought that he might take this course in view of the exhaustive discussion that had taken place on the Bill.
– The same might be said about every Bill. A Bill of importance is generally discussed at length at the second-reading stage, and is further” discussed in detail in Committee. But that is no reason why we should destroy the safeguard provided by the Standing Orders.
– The honorable senator’s party was well represented here yesterday.
– I do not dispute that statement. The purpose of our Standing Orders in this respect is a good one. No honorable senator will venture to say that they ought to be set aside lightly. I am not now arguing as an opponent of the Bill, but as a defender of the Standing Orders. The defence of them ought to rest with the Minister ; but, assuming that he has a majority behind him, he appears to think that he can do as he likes. If we were to permit of the suspension of the Standing Orders in this manner, a practice might spring up that would be extremely dangerous. Of course, Standing Orders are frequently suspended when we are face to face with matters of public urgency, but we are under no obligation to depart from them without special reason. The Minister has offered no public justification for this departure. In the absence of any necessity, I do not conceive it to be our duty to depart from Standing Orders of which the Senate itself has approved.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11. 6].- I join with Senator Millen in entering my protest against the suspension of the Standing Orders for the purpose indicated by the Government. Much has been said by my honorable friend that I should have been prepared to say. I will content myself by adding that pretty well the whole of his remarks are in absolute accordance “with my own views. The Standing Orders, as we all know, are intended to provide for the ordinary and satisfactory conduct of the business of the Senate. The object of having various stages in the progress of a Bill is to enable honorable senators to have the fullest opportunity of considering and re-considering the .measures submitted to our consideration. We have, first of all, to debate the second reading of a Bill. Then we go into Committee upon it, and the whole subject is discussed in detail. Long speeches are frequently made upon the various clauses, which are subjected to a minute examination’. Then we have the stage for the adoption of the report, when _ it is open to any honorable senator to move for a recommittal of the Bill. Lastly, we come to the third-reading stage, when we deal with the whole Bill as amended in Committee, and can review it, confirming decisions previously arrived at, or registering any change of views that may have been formulated during the progress of the Bill. If we do away with any of those safeguards by suspending our Standing Orders we shall run grave danger of abuses springing up. A Ministry with a large and strong majority may endeavour to set aside these safeguards, which have been designed for the protection of the Senate, and more particularly for the protection of minorities. We are quite aware that a minority has to bow to the will of the majority ; but at the same time, it must always be realized in deliberative assemblies that when a minority fights a measure strongly they probably have very good reasons for their action. It is the essence of parliamentary procedure that the rights of minorities shall be preserved. The fact that the Standing Orders require a space of time to elapse between the report stage and the third reading is surely an indication that in no case should our rules be suspended unless there are reasons for urgency. No reason for expedition has been given on the present occasion. By observing the Standing Orders we do not delay the Bill more than one sitting day. There is nothing to pi event the Government from setting down this Bill for consideration on the next day of sitting.
– Is not the honorable senator underrating the “stone- walling” capacity of his party when he says that the Government can get the Bill through in one day?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The honorable senator himself is a past master in the art of “stone-walling,” and I do not believe that any man who knows what a real parliamentary “ stonewall “ is would say that the so-called “ stone-wall “ set up last night was a considerable affair in comparison with those that we have witnessed in some other Parliaments. If the Government never have to face any greater trouble than confronted them last night they will be very fortunate indeed. I trust that Ministerialists, when they themselves become an Opposition, will take care that they do not go to a greater extent in criticising an important Bill than did the members of the present Opposition last night.
– In other circumstances, I should have supported the Leader of the Opposition, but, after what we beheld last night, and being detained here until 5 o’clock this morning, although honorable senators opposite knew from every division that it was quite impossible for them to do more than to delay the passage of the Bill, I must support the motion. I felt very indignant at the action of the Opposition last night in “ stone-walling “ the Bill. I wished that we had the power to sit on, even until breakfast time, to put the Bill through all its stages. It is a great pity that we could not have done so.
– I hope that the Senate will not suspend the Standing Orders, unless some adequate reason is given for doing so. It is usual for the mover of such a motion to state the reasons for the urgency, but, on this occasion, the Minister submitted his proposal without assigning a single reason. In my opinion, the Standing Orders should only be suspended in cases of urgency or emergency, or in connexion with formal matters. What urgency or emergency is there to take this Bill out of the usual course? Honorable senators opposite have referred to the exhaustive discussion on the Bill which took place yesterday. There are few measures of a far-reaching and’ difficult character which have been advanced so rapidly, and discussed so critically in all their bearings, as has this Bill. It received what it deserved from honorable senators on both sides of the Chamber. I do not think that we have spent more than two or three days in discussing its provisions. In view of that fact, I submit that some shadow of a reason for submitting this motion should have been given by the Minister.
– When I made my request to the Senate, I left a great deal to the intelligence of honorable senators on the other side. I thought that they would recognise that any measure which had for its object the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes ought to be deemed urgent at all times. I also thought that they would have remembered that, owing to being entertained by yourself, sir, and the Speaker, on the first sitting day of this week, we lost considerable time. I am not complaining of the action of the Opposition in regard to the Bill. Their conduct last night was in no sense reprehensible. They had to justify their existence, and I am sure that every one on this side must acknowledge that they did so fairly well. We are all aware that there is consider able delay in connexion with the passage of measures. I have already pointed out a case where two days were lost. If the motion is not adopted, the third reading of this Bill must be postponed until Wednesday next.
– That would apply to any Bill.
– Yes ; but an urgent Bill of this description should have been dealt with at an earlier sitting in the week. If it is read a third time to-day, our amendment can be dealt with by the other House on Tuesday next, otherwise it cannot be considered until Thursday next. In my opinion, the almost interminable delay in passing important legislation of this description is a sufficient reason for suspending the Standing Orders.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11.25].- I do not know whether honorable senators generally feel inclined to devote very much time to the consideration of the Bill at this stage. It is evident from the recent division that they have fully made up their minds that it is desirable that the Bill should be proceeded with without further deliberation. Of course, it is entirely within their right to take that course. In the Senate, as in the other House, an important amendment has been made in the
Bill. I want honorable senators on the other side to realize what they have really done. In one breath they said that they will not allow an organization to be represented in the Arbitration Court by counsel or paid agent in any circumstances, except by mutual consent, but in another they put in an important amendment that greatly neutralises the first part of the clause. How will it act in regard to one member of the Ministry? The AttorneyGeneral is a member of a trade union, which has appeared before the Court from time to time in connexion with industrial disputes.
Provided that a bond fide member or officer of an organization -
I ask whether the Attorney-General is not a bonâ fide member or officer of an organization. He could not have occupied the position of president or secretary unless he had been a member of it. or a bonâ fide employé of a party not being an organization, appearing in that capacity to represent the organization, or party, shall not be deemed to be a counsel or solicitor or paid agent within the meaning of this section.
I have made this reference to the AttorneyGeneral, not for an invidious purpose, but to point out that this amendment was put in, not under any pressure, but on the initiative of the Government. There is no reason why a member of Parliament who belongs to the profession of the law should not join a union. But by this amendment honorable senators opposite are enabling a union or an organization to admit to membership a man who may be specially skilled in the law of conciliation and arbitration, and thus to defeat the will of this Parliament. I have mentioned the AttorneyGeneral because of his peculiar action with regard to industrial disputes. I do not insinuate for a moment that he would act otherwise than as a member of an honorable profession would do. I do not think it is probable that, except in special circumstances, a barrister would be found in the position of a member of an organization. Possibly it might be regarded as improper for a barrister to join a union. Though I have no proof of it I have no doubt that Mr. Holman still remains a member of the union to which he originally belonged. More than one other member of the party has adopted the much maligned, but still honorable, profession of the law. There are members of the State Parliaments who are members of unions and are also members of the other branch of the legal profession. They would have a perfect right to prepare the case for a union and, under this measure, represent it before the Arbitration Court. The provision as it now appears in the Bill appears to me to be a sham, and is open to very serious misconception. It encourages people to evade the expressed will of Parliament. I believe in allowing the parties appearing before the. Arbitration Court and other industrial courts to be represented as parties may be in the ordinary civil and criminal courts of the land. Is it not unfair that we should say to unions who have not professional men amongst their members that they should not have the benefit of professional advice in this Court? Unions of employers are established in a different way from organizations of wage-earners. For instance, I may be interested in the manufacturing, mining, or pastoral industries, and, in conjunction with others, form an organization. If that organization desired that I should represent them before the Arbitration Court I should have a perfect right to do so under this Bill ; but if I were not a member of the organization I should not be allowed to appear.
The rules of an association may also provide for any other matter not contrary to law.
It is not contrary to law for a man who is not a worker in a particular industry to become a member of an organization connected with that industry. I remind honorable senators that men have become members of the ancient trade guilds established in London and on the Continent who have never had anything whatever to do with the trades which those guilds were established to represent.
.- I have listened during the last nine or ten hours, with what I consider to be commendable patience, to the stream of oratory that has emanated from the Opposition benches.
– We did not hear much from the Ministerial side.
– We have such a well-defined policy that when the Government which we support brings down measures we know exactly on what principles they are framed, and support them because we have come here pledged to do so. I have listened carefully to the arguments of honorable senators opposite, but I have really failed to grasp the substance of their contention.
– That is the honorable senator’s misfortune.
– I am afraid it is the misfortune of honorable senators opposite, inasmuch as they have not placed their views clearly before the Senate.
– The honorable senator has his instructions as to how he shall vote.
– I received my mandate from the people of Tasmania who sent me here.
– And from the Caucus.
– The Caucus has nothing to do with our policy, beyond interpreting it. The attitude of honorable senators opposite reminds me of the story of the Irishman who landed in a new country, and asked whether there was a Government there. He was informed that there was. “ Then,” he said, “ b’ jabbers, 1 ‘m agen it.”
– A magnificent illustration !
– It is, and I am proud of it.
– Quite original, too !
– But I am not proud of the drivel and the enormous quantity of verbosity which has poured from the Opposition benches. I am not proud of the party that kept us out of bed while they filled Hansard with flapdoodle. But while 1 am sorry that our opponents have thought fit to inflict such deliverances on this Parliament, their conduct has one compensating advantage. If any of the electors whom they represent will only turn up Hansard I am convinced that the Labour movement will derive more advantage than it has done from anything else that has occurred this session.
– Then the honorable senator ought to be very thankful.
– i am, but in that respect only. 1 have been much surprised at the amount of intelligence manifested by honorable senators opposite. We have heard the old, old stories that have been adduced over and over again. For instance, Senator Vardon, speaking on one of the clauses of the Bill, asked, “ How any Act of Parliament could compel men to work if they did not wish to work?” Does the honorable senator think for a moment that we were not aware of that? There is no Act of Parliament which can prevent a man from thieving. If a man desires to thieve he can. All we can do by Act of Parlia ment is to punish him if he thieves. So it h in this case. If an employer does not wish to employ a certain body of men, or desires to close his factory, no law in the world can obstruct him. These arguments, which seemed to come out of the ark, have really made me feel somewhat tired, al-‘ though I am but a young parliamentarian. Another old argument adduced was in regard to preference. It has been asked, “ Why should men who form a union get preference over men who do not choose to join?” Simply because, to put it briefly, the men who form a union are instrumental in securing better conditions, not only for themselves, but for non-unionists also. Therefore we claim that as they have achieved such results they should secure preference in certain cases. I have heard the Australian Workers Union mentioned. I am proud to say that I was the first Tasmanian member of that union. It has occasionally been referred to contemptuously as the Shearers Union.
– By whom?
– By several honorable senators opposite.
– Name one.
– I do not wish to particularize, but the union has certainly been alluded to contemptuously.
– Again I ask by whom ?
– By Senator Millen, and, I believe, also by Senator St. Ledger, during the course of his numerous remarks.
– Let the honorable senator point to one word of contempt that I. have ever uttered concerning the Australian Workers Union.
– I am pleased to receive the honorable senator’s denial. The Australian Workers Union has gained for its members since its inception over £4,000,000 in increased wages; and I am told on good authority that since the award granted by the Federal Arbitration Court the average gain to the members of the union has been £250,000 a year. We claim that the Arbitration Court should give preference to the men whose time, energy, and sacrifice have secured those results, not only for themselves, but for the whole of the shearers and shed hands in Australia. Much has been said about Wages Boards, of which honorable senators opposite profess to approve. They should know that in so doing they are merely trifling with the question and splitting straws. In Tasmania we have not such a thing as a Wages
Board. I have before me a list of the measures affecting industrial questions that have been rejected by the Legislative Council of the State from which I come. It has not passed any industrial legislation, although, as the list will show, it has been repeatedly asked to do so. It consists of fighting members of the party which honorable senators opposite represent. In 1896 it rejected the Wages Attachment Bill and the Eight Hours Bill; in 1898, the Wages Attachment Bill ; in 1899, the Wages Attachment Bill and the Workmen’s Compensation Bill; in 1901, the Workmen’s Compensation Bill; in the first session of 1902, the Employers Liability Bill and the Factories Regulation Bill ; in the second session of that year, the Factories Regulation Bill and the Employers Liability Bill ; in 1903, the Early Closing Bill ; in 1904, the Weekly Half-holiday Bill ; in 1906, the Shops Half-holiday Bill ; in 1907, the Truck Bill ; in 1908, the Shops Half-holiday Bill; and in 1909, the Wages Board Bill and the Workers Compensation Bill.
– Did not the Legislative Council fulfil its functions by rejecting those measures?
– Certainly it did, and if honorable senators opposite could have their way they would act similarly on this occasion. In Tasmania we have what Senator Gould would regard as ideal conditions. We have no industrial legislation, but is the position any better there than in States which have such legislation ? Wages are lower, and the prices of commodities are not, as honorable senators opposite seem inclined to make out, lower than those which prevail in States with industrial legislation. Tasmania is an Eldorado for politicians of the stamp, for instance, of Senator St. Ledger. Although it is admitted that it has suffered severely since Federation, through not being able to compete with the States on the mainland, it should be an Eldorado because we have no industrial legislation. But, in spite of having no factories’ legislation, capital has not flowed to Tasmania. One would think that it is the very place to which all rich employers would go in order to get away from Labour agitators, as we are contemptuously termed. But, during the last seven years, less capital has been invested in industries in Tasmania than in any other State. Every other State is progressing industrially, and, of course, the Labour party has helped to achieve that industrial progress. In Tasmania, however, the want of suitable legislation has hindered industrial progress. We have already put up a great fight there. Wages have been very low. When honorable senators on the other side talk of coercion and tyranny they are skating on very thin ice, so far as Tasmania is concerned. For years employers in that State have granted preference to their own type of men. I could quote dozens of instances where men have had to leave their positions simply because they were suspected of being associated with unionists.
– On one mining field where about 500 men are employed, only forty or fifty men are in a union simply because they are afraid to join.
– Exactly. In the midlands of Tasmania my business was boycotted simply because I had associated myself with politics, and my returns dropped by nearly one-half. A few years ago in the midlands of that State, a man who held political opinions opposed to the then prevailing Liberal opinions, was indeed a marked man. My experience is, I think, worth mentioning to honorable senators on the other side. One of the largest land-holders in the district went to the senior partner of the firm, whose business I was managing. He placed my political predilections before that gentleman, and advised him that if he wished to do a successful business in the district, the best thing he could do was to fire out his manager.
– It is done everywhere. It is done, for instance, in the Western district of Victoria.
– It is done all over the Commonwealth.
– I ask the honorable gentleman to discuss the question before the Chair.
– I shall be pleased to obey your ruling, sir. I was dealing more particularly with the question of the socalled union tyranny, and proposing to show that the same amount of tyranny has been exercised in the last half century on the other side, and to a far greater extent than can ever be proved against Labour. I wish to assure honorable senators on the other side that unions exist for the purpose of benefiting men, not of tyrannizing over them. . A sensible man, who has any conception of right and wrong, joins a union. I am very pleased indeed that the Senate is about to pass a measure to give preference to men who have not hesitated to make sacrifices, and to risk their employment because of their determination to support a principle, which is not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of all the workers in the trade or industry in which they are engaged.
– It was not my intention to speak at this stage of the Bill, but I cannot allow the singular speech of Senator Gould to pass without making some comments. It seemed to me like an attempt to place on record statements which were misleading, and which certainly were not justified by economic experience. I do not think that the honorable senator can cite any statist in support of his statement that the necessary result of an increase of wages in an industry is a corresponding increase in the prices of commodities.
– He said if the cost of production were increased.
– I know what Senator Gould said, and what he intended the people of the Commonwealth to understand, and that is, that if wages are increased, the prices of commodities are also increased. He devoted, not a moment 01 two, but more than fifteen minutes, to the elaboration of that point. I asked him to cite an industry or an article produced in Australia under Wages Board or arbitration conditions where that result had happened.
– In the Arbitration Court evidence has been given in volumes that the cost of living has gone up.
– I intend to deal with that point. If the honorable senator is anxious to take up the cudgels on behalf of Senator Gould, I would remind him that in Victoria we have seventy-four Wages Boards. I ask him, or any other honorable senator, to name an article produced under Victorian Wages Boards, which, as the result of the wages paid, has been increased in price in any degree. Senator Gould must recognise that the industries of Australia are very extensive, but he was very anxious to avoid the citation of one article which had been increased in price as the result of an increase in wages. I indorse his statement that in recent years the cost of living in Australia has increased by 25 per cent., but I deny absolutely that that increase is due either to the Arbitration Act or to Wages Boards.
– Give us the case of boots.
– I prefer to start with the staple of life. Are the Wages Boards responsible for the increase in the price of wheat and of bread? Do farmers pay increased wages to their harvesting hands, or give them better accommodation? Certainly not. If I ask the reason why the price of wheat has been increased, no doubt I shall be told that it was determined by the world’s market. Now, it is not the world’s market which determines the price of wheat in Australia, but the wheat ring whose minimum price is exactly that which they can wring from the community by means of honorable understandings, or, in other words, by a trust. Again, take meat, which has increased considerably in price. Is that the result of higher wages paid to boundary riders or drovers? Certainly not. Again, take rent which, as we all know, has been increased by at least 20 per cent, during the last five years in the great metropolis of Victoria. Have house and estate agents received an increased commission for collecting the rents? Have the tenants received any superior accommodation ? It is owing to the increased prosperity of Victoria and the greater demand for houses, that the landlord is not regulated by a Wages .board, and is able to extract almost the last penny from his tenant irrespective of whether his action may be moral or otherwise. Again, take land. What has increased the cost of primary products? In Victoria we have men operating on the share system, which is practically a system of slavery. It is notoriously true that, in this State, many children who ought to be receiving the rudiments of an ordinary education are attending to dairy stock in order to enable their parents to live under the conditions which the landlords inflict upon them. For land which is devoted to dairying under the tenant system, men are paying over 25 per cent, of their annual produce, although they take the whole of the responsibility, defraying the cost of stock, wages, and freight. There is one other cause which may affect the rate of wages, and which is well known to the two senators from Queensland on the other side. Will they say that it was the magnificent wage, which even they tried to reduce, which caused the increase in the price of sugar?. They know as well as I do that that increase was due not to a rise in wages but to the power of a trust which is ably and well supported by members of the Opposition and which enables them to wring an additional od. per week out of every family.
– In New Zealand, where there is no duty on sugar, the price is higher than in Australia, where there is a duty of £6 per ton. Let the honorable senator take it out of that. He challenged me, and I give him his answer.
– Let me now give the honorable senator my reply. In the last fifteen months the sugar bill of the average family in Australia has been increased by od. per week, which represents a considerable increase for a working man’s family.
– The price of sugar has gone up more in Europe than in Australia.
– Will the honorable senator tell me that an increase in wages in the industry, or an increase in the price paid for cane, has been the cause of the increase in price? He knows that it is the Sugar Trust that wrings this toll from the people. As this is the first speech I have made on the Bill, I5 should like to say that I am a whole-hearted supporter of it. I do not believe that increased wages necessarily involves an increase in the price of commodities. But, if it did, I should prefer that to a cheapening of commodities by the payment of low wages. Honorable senators who have talked of the increased cost of living should bear in mind that the increase has been in the price of primary products of industries which are not controlled by Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts.
.- 1 should not have spoken but for the statements which have been made by honorable senators opposite. I fail to understand how they can contend that the increase in the price of commodities is due to an increase in wages. It cannot be argued that any increase in the cost of production is due to anything affected by this legislation. This Bill is intended to remedy defects which have been disclosed in the operation of the existing Conciliation and Arbitration Act, I am sorry that I was unavoidably absent last night, and I was astonished this morning to find that the opposition to this measure from the other side has unduly delayed its passage. I cannot follow the suggestion that this proposed amend ment of the existing Act will increase the cost of primary productions, or do more than it is intended to do, and that is to remove the anomalies under the existing law, and make it more efficient for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes. The operation of the existing Act has tended to provoke irritation rather than peace in industrial affairs. Honorable senators on both sides desire industrial peace, and they should therefore be willing to assist the passage of this Bill. When the statement is made that the cost of primary productions has increased, it should be remembered that the primary industries are not controlled by Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts. It cannot be said that the increase ir rents within the last few years is due to the operation of Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts. It is accounted for, I believe, by the general prosperity which has been enjoyed throughout the Commonwealth. It cannot be said that the increase in the price of flour or of commodities generally has been due to the operation of this kind of legislation. It has been due to conditions outside, with which this Parliament must sooner or later be called upon to deal. . I cannot account for the prolonged opposition to a measure the object of which is the settlement of industrial disputes in a manner satisfactory not only to employes and employers, but to the general public, lt has not been shown that the Bill will do any more than remedy defects in the existing Act. which prevent or retard the peaceful settlement of these disputes. I support the Bill, and I have no hesitation in saying that, when passed, it will be found ro be a great improvement upon the existing Act.
– A great deal has been said by honorable senators opposite on the cost of production, rates of wages, and cost of living, and they have claimed that the discussion has been due to some remarks which were made on this side. I do not intend to labour the question, but I should like to direct attention to the fact that whenever we discuss these great questions, on which we take different views, il. is the almost invariable rule with honorable senators opposite to insinuate that discuss them from one point of view, because ‘ we are the representatives of a certain class, which we desire to benefit at the expense of the workers. The cost of production rates of wages, and cost of living, are questions which for years have occupied the attention of all Parliaments and economic thinkers. An increase in the cost of production and in the cost of living seems to follow increases in the rates of wages in accordance with some inscrutable law from which there appears to be no escape, with the result that the last stage of the unfortunate worker whose wages are increased seems to be very little better than the first. I refer now to the well-known doctrine put forward by Macleod. If I differ in opinion from honorable senators opposite on these questions, it is not because I do not desire to benefit the workers, but because I have some doubt of the efficacy of the means they propose for the purpose. The cost of primary production throughout the world in recent years has gone up, and rates of wages have also been increased, whether or not the industries concerned have been conti oiled by Arbitration Courts or Wages Boards. The question has been very carefully investigated by economic journals in the last few years, and one explanation offered is that it is due to the fact that the output of gold is increasing at a greater ratio than the demand for it. It is regrettable that no politician, statesman, economist, or political party in the world has yet been able to offer a satisfactory explanation of the difficulty. If we were able to suggest a means by which the cost of production and the cost of living might be reduced whilst rates of wages were steadily raised, we should have begun the solution of one of the most important problems with which the world has yet been faced. Those who have taken an interest in economic and social questions must be aware that the problems we are now discussing have baffled the minds of the ablest men throughout the world, not for hundreds, but for thousands of years. I take it that what Senator Gould desired to direct attention to is the fact that, notwithstanding the operation of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts, a rise in the rate of wages has been followed by an increase in the cost of living, with the result that the position of the wage-earner has not been materially improved. It has been said by honorable senators opposite that we on this side are opposed to unions, and Senator Ready went so far as to say that I had said something contemptuous about them. I defy the honorable senator or any one else to show that in anything I have said or written here or elsewhere, I have tried to throw contempt upon the attempts of any unions or com binations of workmen to better themselves. It should be within the knowledge of honorable senators opposite that I have frankly and fully admitted the benefits of unions and unionism. When one approaches the discussion of these questions in a proper spirit, it is ungenerous of honorable senators opposite, and is not calculated to produce that calm feeling of mind in which such questions should be considered, to charge him with using language unfair to what he considers to be a worthy class of the community seeking by worthy and proper means to improve their condition. I hope that these remarks are not made with the idea of inflaming thf- minds of the public against honorable senators on this side. Possibly it is hoped that we shall be punished for giving expression to broad political principles, because they differ from those advocated by honorable senators on the other side. Very important issues will hang upon the interpretation put upon the provisions of this Bill in the Arbitration Court, and, it may be, shortly in the High Court. Comments have been made here and elsewhere upon this important aspect of the measure. I wish to say calmly that of the existence of the Arbitration Court and the High Court we in this Chamber know nothing beyond .the fact that it is our duty to be loyal, and enforce loyalty to those Courts. On the other hand, the Courts can know nothing of- the party policies and conflicting issues arising here, and can know this Parliament only by the Statutes which we place before them to interpret. We have immense powers conferred upon us by the Constitution, but very great powers have been conferred upon the Courts created under the Constitution. Each is bound to respect almost with sacredness the functions and jurisdiction of the other. If that is not borne in mind by us, we may be doing injury to ourselves, and injury to the great Courts we have set up to interpret what this Parliament has resolved. I trust that whether the attitude which has been taken up by the Opposition on this question be right or wrong, Parliament will respect the High Court. If we do not, we weakenthe powers of Parliament itself. If wekeep within our own jurisdiction and confine ourselves to our own concerns,, after all some good may be realized; and’ though we may differ in opinion, I am oneof those who, having enunciated his principles, can still express the hope that this; measure will, after all, do some good to the workers. I say so with all sincerity.
– I have been a consistent opponent of the proposal to settle industrial disputes by means of an Arbitration Court. I do not believe that a Court is the best means of settling them. This method places the parties in antagonism at the commencement. There is a plaintiff on the one side and a defendant on the other, entailing a legal struggle all the way through. The present arbitration laws have not been a success, and the Commonwealth Court has cost litigants something like ,£40,000. Arbitration Courts have never prevented strikes in any country where they have been set up. Moreover, there has never been a Judge sitting in an Arbitration Court, who, having given a verdict against the employes, has not been abused for so doing. Some have resigned their positions because they would not stand the abuse.
– What Judge does the honorable senator refer to?
– I may instance Mr. Justice Hood in this State.
– He did not preside over an Arbitration Court, but dealt with the awards of a Wages Board.
– My statement still holds good. I hold Mr. Justice Higgins in as high respect as any one can. He is a man of the highest integrity and consciousness, and he administers the law in a manner that he believes to be right. But I believe that, although it has been said that he is such a model Judge, if he ever gave a decision adverse to the industrial organizations they would crucify him.
– The honorable senator must think that the organized workers are a ferocious lot of men !
– I am judging from past experience. I have, as I have said, always been opposed to the principle of arbitration, and have stood up for conciliation and confidence as between the respective parties.
– The Bill provides for conciliation as well as for arbitration.
– How often are the conciliation powers availed of?
– Every week. The wharf labourers are sitting in consultation with the shipowners, with the view to conciliation, now.
– I want conciliation without the intervention of Courts.
– It may be necessary in case of a dispute to go to a Court.
– What would the honorable senator do in the event of one section not agreeing to conciliation?
– I would keep them sitting until they did agree.
– That is conciliation, indeed.
– That is what I call conference.
– It is coercion.
– I would say to these men, “lt is your duty to come to a decision in regard to matters with which 3 0U are dealing, and you are to sit until you do come to a decision.”
– The honorable senator would constitute himself judge and gaoler.
– If the parties could be brought into a condition of mutual goodwill, real benefits would be secured. I maintain that if we get away from the paid agitator who is trying to make his living out of conflict, we shall secure a better understanding in these matters a great deal sooner than we are likely to do otherwise. My opinion is that these paid agitators - a lot of irresponsible men - simply stir up strife for purposes of their own.
– Such as the secretary of a union that the honorable senator in acquainted with in Adelaide, Mr. Wallace.
– No; he is one of the best men I know. He may be a paid secretary of a union, but I am not referring to such persons.
– To whom is the honorable senator referring?
– To Mr. Walpole, of course !
– Of course, employers’ representatives are dreadful men !
– Walpole is the man who said that marriage for a working man is a luxury.
– I do not agree with that opinion. Marriage is a good thing. Are honorable senators opposite going to judge employers simply by what one man is reported to have said?
– Walpole is the paid agitator of employers in Victoria.
– He is in exactly the same position as is the gentleman who has been referred to by Senator Guthrie - Mr. Wallace, the secretary of the Typographical Association. He follows a perfectly legitimate occupation, and one in which a man can often do a great deal of good, as I am sure Mr. Wallace has done. I know the moderation of the man, his common sense, and his efforts to promote peace and good-will.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish to emphasize one or two other points in regard to this Bill. I desire to cultivate in every way good-will between employers and employed. Honorable senators opposite ought to realize that, however much they desire to do away with employers and secure the whole results of industry to the workers, that is not a change that can be brought about all at once. It must be a matter of evolution - of moving along, step by step, in slow degrees. We ought to try to make matters as pleasant and workable as we possibly can in the meantime. I am opposed to this Bill, because it does not operate in that direction. We are proposing to enlarge the powers of the Arbitration Court very greatly. The constitutionality of the position was discussed last night, but we ought to realize that the States have their own Parliaments, and have complete power over their own industries. There aremen in the State Parliaments who are determined to see justice done as between one side and the other. I shall indicate what seem to me to be some shams in this measure. There is a clausewhich proposes to give preference to employers. That is a provision which cannot be carried out. It is nothing better than a sham and a pretence. Consequently it might as well be left out. A new clause was inserted at the instance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, relating to persons who may appear before the Arbitration Court. That provision also is a sham. In the first place, the Bill does not even give the President of the Court a discretion - such as he previously had - to say whether he desires the aid of counsel in the elucidation of questions coming before him. We have decreed that neither lawyers nor agents shall appear in any case; but then we have inserted another provision which has opened the door to the lawyer widely. The employers may take greater advantage of this provision than the employed. They are in a better position to do so. It was altogether a mistake to make the amendment to which I have alluded, and which gives back with the one hand what the Bill takes away with the other. Then there is the provision giving the Judge power as to any pending or probable dispute.
– Is not that carrying out the Constitution, which gives us power to provide for the prevention as well as the settlement of disputes?
– This provision will not prevent. Moreover, we are making the position of the Judge harder to fulfil. We tell him that industrial matters include various things which he must decide, “ having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as. a whole.” What is the Judge to do when faced with a position of that sort? Who is to tell him what Parliament really had in its mind? I do not think any Judge will be able to undertake the extra work that is to be cast upon the President of the Court. His task will be an impossible one. Again, I am sorry that the Senate refused to re-enact the safeguards which were contained in the principal Act. I refer especially to section 40, which directed that, in any case in which the Court granted preference, if in the opinion of the Court the rules of the organization affected were burdensome, oppressive, or did not provide reasonable means of admission or continuance in membership for any workman, or if they operated unfairly or unjustly to any member, preference should not be conceded. That was a safeguard which ought to have been left in. I know that the schedule sets out rules prescribing what unions are to do “with regard to the regulation of their affairs. But for all that, I think we should have done better to leave in the original section. Much has been said about boycotting. I dare say that the engine of the boycott has been used on both sides. It seems a pity that should be so. But boycotting has certainly not been confined to one side. With regard to people working on the land on the share system, I have personal knowledge that some workers have found this to be a very good arrangement. I know of one man especially who worked with a farmer on the halves system, and who in two or three years was in a position to start onhis own account. Within the last three or four years he has done remarkably well. I do not intend to vote against the third reading of this Bill, but, holding the opinions I do, I maintain that it was ray duty to express them. My desire always has been, and always will be, I hope, not to foment envy and jealousy as between the two parties, but rather to bring them together in amicable relationship. I have always realized that mutual interests have to be studied, and that there should be mutual goodwill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– Inview of the fact that honorable senators sat during the whole of last night and came early to their duty this morning, I think it is only fair that we should proceed with no more business this afternoon.
– Why not?
– We do not want to exhaust ourselves, and therefore I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council, when he replies, to tell the Senate the order in which he proposes to proceed with business on the next sitting-day.
– On Wednesday next I intend to ask the Senate first to deal with the motion relating to a subsidy for a service of cable news, next to dispose of the Surplus Revenue Bill, in the Committee stage, as speedily as possible, and then to finish the debate on the second reading of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. I think that that will be enough business to occupy our attention for one day.
– And, if time serves, the honorable senator will take the Navigation Bill and the Defence Bill?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at2.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 August 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100819_SENATE_4_56/>.