4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the
Minister of Defence whether, in view of the fact, as he admitted last night, that the Opposition had been taken unawares by the alteration of the order of Government business and our willingness to expedite the passage of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill next week, he will consent to postpone the first Order of the Day ? I give a promise to the honorable senator that we shall meet him in every way that is possible.
– I wish that the honorable senator had come to me earlier in the day.
– I had not an opportunity.
– I am afraid that in the circumstances I cannot accede to the request.
– I desire to know whether the Minister of Defence has noticed the following criticism in a leader which appeared in yesterday’s Age: -
It may be taken as a sign of the intellectual level to which Ministerial business has fallen in the Federal Parliament that the Senate has spent weeks upon an Electoral Bill which refrains from touching on the true needs of electoral reform. Yesterday hours were occupied in debating whether a man who neglects to enroll himself snail be punished without the option of making a defence. The measure, as we have said, is the conception of feebleness, begotten in weakness, brought forth in timidity, and debated in drivel. It makes a spectator feel sorry that the Federal Senate, which, if well led, is capable of good work, should have to. spend its time in puerilities.
– Order I It is laid down in a standing order that no honorable senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other comments referring to debates in the Senate during the same session.
– Will the Government take action to see that the business is put through a little more expeditiously and that the “ drivelling debaters “ - so called by the public press - on the opposite side are called to time and compelled to deal with business in an expeditious manner?
– Mr. President, has the honorable senator, under the guise of a question, the right to refer to “ drivelling “ from the other side of the Chamber ? We have a standing order which ought to be complied with.
– I do not think that the Senate need concern itself with expressions of opinion in a newspaper. The Government are satisfied that the business will be put through in due course pf time.
– I desire leave of the Senate, sir, to make a short explanation. Leave granted.
– When I was speaking in Committee on the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, last night I made a statement regarding the Small Arms Factory, and the Minister of Defence asked this question, “ Will the honorable senator correct his statement that Commander Clarkson affirmed that American machinery was less durable?” I did not know at the time whether I had made such a statement or not; but in answer to the question I said “ Yes.” On referring to the report of my second-reading speech I find that I” did not mention Commander Clarkson at all. According to the report,’ I ‘said -
On page 4 of the paper from which I am quoting, there is a cablegram from Captain Collins, who stated - “ War Office has been consulted. Like Birmingham oiler. Consider cost prohibitive compared other tenders.” It seems that the Government regarded cheapness as the principal consideration; but we should have been making rifles in Australia long ago’ if we bad accepted the other tender. Another portion of the document states, “ American machinery will not stand wear,” or words to that effect.
I cannot understand why the Minister said that I had made a statement about Commander Clarkson. What I referred to was a cablegram from Captain Collins.
asked the Minuter representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– If the honorable senator will move for a return the information will be supplied.
Debate resumed from 3rd November . (vide page 2223), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now’ read a second time.
– I can only express my very sincere regret that in the case of a Bill which unquestionably is a difficult one to deal with the Minister of Defence has not seen his way clear to accede to the very reasonable request of the Opposition, especially seeing that it was backed up with the assurance that every effort would be made to make up for any time which might be lost to-day by the expeditious passage of the Bill when we meet on Wednesday next. . I venture to say - and I do not want it to be understood as in the nature of a threat, for nothing is further from my thoughts - that the Government will, not find that they have saved any time by handling the business in this fashion. Had they accepted my offer I believe that every honorable senator on this side would have felt himself under a bond of honour to curtail his remarks as much as possible, and to assist .the passage of the measure. However, we are compelled, whether we like it or not, to discuss ‘ the measure this morning. I shall limit my speech to-day to general observations on the purpose and the effect of Arbitration Acts. I feel quite unable to-day to go into the particular amendments contemplated by this measure ; but I do think that it affords a very reasonable opportunity of looking into the whole question of arbitration. In the first place, I would draw attention to the marked difference in the mental attitude, both of the general public, and of those who work or strike under arbitration awards, regarding arbitration »hen it was mooted some years ago and to-day. The early advocates of this method of settling industrial disputes approached it with confident hope, and any one who ventured to dissent from their point of view was immediately and bitterly denounced as an enemy of the working classes. Contrast the bright confidence which marked their attitude then with their open attitude to-day. One will not find to-day any person, so far as I am aware, who speaks of arbitration in the same confident and hopeful tone as he did when it was first brought under legislative notice. There are certain reasons which have brought about this change in mental attitude. It is quite clear that for any Arbitration Act, or any method of arbitration, even if it is voluntary, to be at all effective it must proceed on the one and the only foundation which is available, and that is absolute loyalty on the part of the parties concerned. Has that loyalty been present? I think that I have only to put the question for the answer to immediately spring to the minds of honorable senators. Has that loyalty been forthcoming?
– Let us inquire into the matter
– Absolute loyalty for seven years.
– If the honorable senator will look back over the events of the last few years, and amuse his leisure moments, of which, apparently, he has plenty, by reading some of the utterances delivered even in this chamber, he will see that loyalty is the last note which is now struck. I might remind the Senate that only recently Senator Rae, who is not singular in this respect, expressed the hope that unionists never would give up the right to strike.
– If he is not singular in that Tespect it is about the only thing he is not singular in.
– I shall leave Senator de Largie and Senator Rae to argue out that very fine point in metaphysics. The fact is that the latter, although he expresses himself with more directness than domany of his associates, has only given expression to a view which is very generally held, and frequently expressed, toda.v in and out of Parliament.
– I cannot understand how the honorable senator can deny that that view is expressed. It is only recently that not very far from this chamber members of the Labour party did claim the right to strike. Not merely is it claimed outside, but it is acted upon. I do put it to honorable senators hat the original conception of legislation for the purpose of insuring arbitration was that it was to be an alternative to the strike. Ts that the view to-day?
– Is it correct to say that any one for a moment assumes that arbitration to-day is an alternative to the strike.
– Is it not more correct to say that those who look to arbitration to-day look to it, not as an alternative to the strike, but as an additional lever to secure the end at which they aim?
– That is not correct.
– I think that that view will be generally assented to, having regard to the utterances to which I have referred. But there are things which speak more loudly than utterances, and these are facts. I defy any one to find any period in the history of Australia which was so fruitful of industrial troubles and strikes as have been the last five years, yet that is the time during which we have had most arbitration legislation, Arbitration Courts, and arbitration awards.
– Can you mention one arbitration award of a Federal Court against which there has been a strike?
– I shall answer that question in a minute, but I want first to direct attention to a fact. It is now assumed that it is not arbitration which the honorable senator, by his interjection, wants to defend, but merely the awards of one Court.
– That is all that our concern extends to.
– Because that is an admission that there are strikes against arbitration awards when they emanate from any Court but a Federal Court.
– We have no power over other Courts.
– I am dealing with the effect of arbitration generally. We have no power over the Federal Arbitra tion Court.
– We have.
– Does Senator Millen refer to Wages Boards awards as arbitration awards?
– Yes, I include them in the general term of arbitration awards.
– That is where you err.
– Of course, it is very pleasant to be told in the confident tones of Senator de Largie that T err, but I venture to say that anv one dealing with the question of arbitration, and using the term as I did. who did not in his mental compass include Wages Boards, and all the other tribunals designed to arbitrate between employers and employes, would overlook a very important fact. Senator de Largie asked me to mention one award of the Federal Court which had been violated. What about the strike of waterside Workers which is proceeding?
– That was not a violation of an arbitration award.
– What was it a violation of?
– Of an agreement between two parties.
– It was a violation of an agreement under the Federal arbitration law.
– Yes, it is registered in the Arbitration Court. It is a little out of the order in which I proposed to deal with it, but seeing that this matter has been brought up now, I think that there could be no more appropriate time for a quotation I intend to submit to the Senate showing the view which Mr. Hughes, the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral, took of this matter.
– Quite recently, in the following telegram which he sent to Sydney to be read at a meeting of the Wharf Labourers’ Union
Please read following wire at meeting. I earnestly recommend members to resume work immediately as desired by Council of Waterside Workers Federation, and so honorably carry out agreement entered into by Federation verbally reported to Sydney Union and duly signed on your behalf.
Might I urge upon this that without that loyalty, which means the carrying out of an honorable agreement, arbitration must break down.
– We are all with the honorable senator in that.
– Mr. Hughes has been an official of the Wharf Labourers’ Union for a great many years, and he writes to tell the members of the Sydney branch that their breach of the agreement was a dishonorable act.
– I do not think any honorable member of this Parliament supports it.
-Then, what becomes of the interjection in which I was asked to give an instance of want of loyalty to the Federal law ?
– This was not under the Federal law.
– Then how comes this agreement to be registered in the Federal Arbitration Court? If agreements are not to be considered worth the paper they are Written on- and theevents of the last few months seem to show that that is the way in which they are regarded - it is useless to speak of loyalty to the law.
– A casual labourer cannot be said to be On strike when he does not resume work.
– All these interjections demonstrate my statement that there is a want of that loyalty which must be the foundation of any successful operation of an arbitration law. Honorable senators apparently do not regard the tearing up of an agreement as something to be regretted or lamented.
– That is unfair. Every member on this side has not only regretted it, but has publicly said so.
– They regret that this has happened. I quite agree, after Senator Pearce’s interjection, that it might have been assumed from what I said that my honorable friends are glad that this industrial trouble occurred. I do not think that for a moment. The fact remains that whether this agreement was made under the Federal Arbitration law or not, it is registered in the Federal Arbitration Court, was arrived at under the procedure of the Federal law, and it has been broken. I venture to say that men who are not prepared to abide by an agreement which, as Mr. Hughes says, was entered into on their behalf, with their concurrence, and signed for them, are not prepared to observe the award of any Court.
– The honorable senator should admit that the majority of the men engaged in the industry insisted on the Sydney men standing honorably by the agreement.
– then what are they on strike for now?
– They are not on strike now.
– They went back to work last Monday.
– What about the report this morning that they are out again?
-I did not hear that.
– Does the honorable senator not admit that the leaders of the nien desire that they should keep to the agreement ?
– I am quite prepared to admit that certain of their leaders did implore these men to go back ; but Senator. O’Keefe is missing my point, which is that, to insure the successful working of any arbitration system, we must have loyalty, by which I mean willingness, on the part of both parties to an agreement to stand by its terms.
– That is absolutely logical.
– I am glad I have made that point.
– How can we do better than insist on loyalty by the men through their leaders?
– We have got this far : I take it that unless there is a determination to loyally abide by awards given under an arbitration law, that law must fail.
– I admit that absolutely.
– Provided always that the agreement is not entered into under pressure - that it is a voluntary agreement.
– In other words, we are to loyally abide by an agreement so Jong as it suits us.
– All agreements are entered into under pressure. No party to an agreement can secure all that they desire, and every agreement is the result of pressure of some sort.
– Not pressure, but com.promise
– Is not compromise the outcome of pressure ? Men do not compromise unless they are pressed in some way.
– The honorable senator would like to give the other fellows all they want,
– It is not a question of whether a man gets all he wants or not. Of course, the point I am making now will be brushed on one side by Senator McDougall ; but I still say that if an arbitration law is to be worth the paper on which it is printed, there must be a loyal determination on the part of every one concerned to abide by any awards given under that law, whether they regard them as favorable or not. That being so, I want to ask whether that loyalty has made itself manifest during the last five years. I shall not go into details, but I defy any one to find any similar period in the industrial history of -Australia in which there were so many strikes, stoppages of work, and industrial disturbances as there were during the last five years.
– There might hia ve been many more without arbitration.
– Honorable senators may try to get over the difficulty in that way, but I again remind them that arbitration, as an alternative to strikes, has absolutely failed.
– It was an honest effort to prevent strikes.
– I join with the honorable senator, and no one was more sanguine than I of the results when the first arbitration law was passed in New South Wales.
– That is how all the trouble occurred ; there must be sympathy with it on both sides.
– I should offer no objection to any efforts made to remove disabilities or defects in the law. But I say that we can amend the law as much as we please, and we may entirely remodel it, but our latest effort will still be a failure unless we have as the foundation of all such legislation a general determination to loyally stand by awards given under the law.
– On both sides.
– Yes, on both sides.
– There should be no appeals to the High Court then by the employers.
– I did not quite catch the interjection, but I suppose it was not pertinent to my argument. In explanation of my attitude towards this Bill I wish to impress upon honorable senators that during the last five years there has been not merely an absence of the loyalty to which I have referred, but a considerable weakening of whatever little loyalty was manifested at the inauguration of our arbitration law. When Senator McDougall says that there should be loyalty on both sides, let me point out how essential it is, in view of the fact that it is impossible to give effect to the penal sections of any arbitration law yet framed. The AttorneyGeneral quite recently, when a question was put to him in another place, said, “How can you punish 5,000 men?” - the number of men out on strike in Sydney at the time. The same question arose in New South Wales when the miners were out on strike. How can we enforce the penal provisions of the arbitration law against a big body of men like that?
– How would they be dealt with if there were no arbitration law?
– Just as they are dealt with now. Men strike under an arbitration award just as they struck without it. My point is that we are no better off. Every session a new arbitration law is proposed, Courts are established at the public expense, and in New South Wales an army of inspectors is being created in order that the penal provisions of the lawmay be carried out against employers, but when the men strike we at once recognise the fact that it is impossible to punish them.
– Can the honorable senator suggest anything to meet the difficulty ?
– I am trying to bring home to my honorable friends the fact that if they desire arbitration to be successful they must instil into the minds of unionists that the only way to bring that about is to loyally observe all awards.
– That is as much as to say that we have not hitherto done so.
– No, I am saying that there has been an utter absence of loyalty to the principle of arbitration manifested during the last five years.
– That is an unfair statement.
– Its fairness or unfairness depends upon the facts. Senator O’Keefe can, if he is able, justify his statement that I am speaking unfairly by going into the records. I do not propose to do that; but I have made a statement that during the last five years there were more industrial troubles and strikes, although there were awards of arbitration courts in existence, than during any similar period in the industrial history of Australia. I will refer honorable senators to the strike history of the union which is just now occupying a large share of public attention. I refer to the Wharf Labourers Union.
– Will the honorable senator mention the locks-out also?
– There cannot be a lock-out without an immediate penalty upon the offending employers, but no penalty can be imposed upon the wharf labourers who strike against an agreement they have made. The penalty of£1,000, which might have been recovered by the employers in the shipping industry, would count for nothing ; it would not pay one of them for the laying-up of one ship for any length of time, and, spread over the members of the union, it would not represent is. a head.
– Can the honorable senator find only one case to prove his assertion?
– I cannot follow all the unions through their eccentricities during the last few years. I can prove what I have stated by a brief sketch of the strike history of the Wharf Labourers Union.
– The honorable senator might go back to 1890, when we had a strike which paralyzed Australia.
– So far as I can see, we are now approaching another 1890 in spite of all our arbitration laws.
– The honorable senator has shifted his ground considerably since those days.
– That is no doubt what Senator de Largie is pleased to regard as his strong point.
– It breaks my heart to think of it.
– It is a revelation to me to learn that the honorable senator has a heart to break. I want to be allowed to justify my statement by a reference to the strike history of one, and not the least, of the unions of Australia. I need not go very far back for my purpose. I find that in January, 1907, the wharf labourers of Sydney were working under an award of Mr. Justice Heydon, of the State Arbitration Court. They struck then for special rates for certain lines of cargo, such as bullion, ore, and so on. The strike lasted for a month, when an agreement which amended the award was arrived at. Efforts were made to bring the two parties together, and the award of the Court was ignored altogether in the matter. The Arbitration Act absolutely broke down, the ship-owners conceded the demands of the men, and work was resumed. In October of the same year, 1907, further trouble presented itself with regard to overtime, and, to avoid a strike on this occasion, the owners at once conceded the demands of the men. The award was still in existence so far as the official records of the Court were concerned.
– The honorable senator does not explain whether new conditions arose which had not been provided for in the award.
– The only new condition which arose and which had not been provided for was that of the men breaking the award. The award laid down certain rates and hours, and the men no doubt believed that the condition of the trade was favorable to their action, and they tore the award up. The matter of overtime had been dealt with in the award, and a special rate provided, but the men did not like it, and, in order to avoid a strike, the ship-owners immediately conceded their demand.
– That shows that the men were right.
– I am not dealing with that. I am showing that the men were exactly where they are to-day without any arbitration law at all, because, in order to .get what they .want, they do not hesitate to defy the law. I started my review of these industrial troubles by reference to a disturbance which took place in January, 1907. Amidst very considerable interruption I have got down to October of the same year, with two strikes during that period. In January, 1908, the deep sea and wharf labourers again struck. That strike was of brief duration, the main body of the men returning to work Within three or four days. But in regard to a section of the vessels the trouble continued till March, 1908. I have no record of how it was dealt with, but I believe that it was settled by the men getting what they wanted - that is, getting it because they broke the law and the award.
– It shows that they were right.
– All I am pointing out is that the advantages which they gained on that occasion were obtained because they broke the law.
– Nearly all progress in the world has been made by breaking the law.
– Senator Rae as an advocate of progress is, ergo, an advocate of law-breaking. I can quite imagine him defending his attitude by saying, “ I make the laws. Why should not I break them?” In November, 1910, the overtime question cropped up in this union. On that” occasion the owners, to avoid a strike, once more conceded the demands of the men. The agreement under which the men were officially working expired in February, 1910.
– The fault is that the agreements should be made of indiarubber, and then they could be stretched without any fear of them breaking.
– There is no need to have agrements made of indiarubber, seeing that the men can tear them up and trample on them just when they please.
– Does not an employer trample on them ?
– Immediately he does so the law is set in motion, and he is fined.
– We do not fine half of the employers who break their agreements.
– That is a reflection on the authorities. I know that in New South Wales a staff of inspectors is maintained to see that the awards are carried out, and in some cases employers have been fined for breaking awards. But the mere fact that one party breaks an agreement is no justification for the other party doing likewise.
– It is every justification.
– We have a right to ask that an honest attempt shall be made to observe the agreements entered into.
– Surely if one party breaks an agreement that agreement falls to the ground.
– If I have, an agreement with Senator Rae and I break it, my action is no justification for Senator Pearce breaking an agreement which he may have with Senator O’Keefe. Because an employer in some other industry has broken an award, the employes in the shipping industry are not entitled to break their agreement. The agreement under which the wharf labourers were working expired in February, 1910, though it had long previously been dead - killed by the action of the men themselves. It is impossible to regard an agreement as being in existence when it has been disregarded two or three times during its nominal currency. Negotiations for the renewal of that agreement followed, and extended over some time. Those negotiations were made ridiculous because, right through their progress, little sectional troubles were bubbling up daily. The first big disturbance occurred when the wharf labourers refused to handle the machinery turned out by the harvesting works of this State.
– That was an instance of loyalty.
– I am not suggesting whether the men were right or wrong in any one of the strikes to which I have referred. I am not sitting in judgment upon them. But I say that the frequency of these strikes evidences a determination on the part of the men to tear up any agreement into which they may have entered whenever that agreement fails to suit them. This strike was followed by the trouble over the cement. In that case, it was not a question of loyalty to the members of any other union. The men simply discovered that the wages paid them under their agreement was not sufficient to justify them in handling cargo which they said - but which the doctors denied - was injurious to health.
– The doctors do not handle it.
– The men may have been right or wrong. My point is that they were striking.
– To refuse to handle cargo is not to strike.
– I am not going to enter into such a refinement of words as Senator McDougall evidently wishes me to do. If a refusal to handle cargo is not a strike, then the refusal on the part of the ship-owners to allow men to handle cargo is not a lock-out. Senator McDougall knows perfectly well that, so far as that cargo was concerned, the refusal of the men to handle it constituted a strike. Then there was a refusal on the part of the wharf labourers to handle sugar. Senator Rae may say that their action on that occasion was prompted by loyalty to their brother unionists. That may be so. I am merely pointing out that this long record of strikes shows that no law which we can pass will ever compel a body of unionists to observe an award longer than it suits them to do so.
– The honorable senator has not shown one instance of that.
– I suppose that the threat of 5,000 wharf labourers to tie up the shipping industry is nothing to the honorable senator? Why should he worry over such a little matter as 5,000 men threatening to disrupt a big industry ? ‘
– If 50,000 were concerned it would be a big thing.
– If these strikes are so small, why should we bother to pass any law dealing with them? The refusal of the men to handle sugar was followed by trouble in regard to the handling of Lithgow iron. What the men did on that occasion was due to their loyalty to the central idea of unionism. But just in proportion as they wire loyal to that idea they were disloyal to the idea of arbitration. Then in September of this year there was a refusal on their part to handle wheat for export unless extra rates were paid for it. That trouble was settled by the payment of the higher rates, but it was none the less a violation of the law. That strike was so successful that another section of the wharf labourers struck for special rates for handling superphosphates, and a little later for similar rates for handling all manures.
– I should think they would.
– Personally I am not able to enter into the levity in which Senators Rae and McDougall are indulging. I cannot say whether the rates received by the men were high or low.
– The honorable senator is saying all that he can against the men.
– I am merely endeavouring to show the absolute failure of all our arbitration laws.
– They have been a partial failure, that is all.
– I do not for a moment question whether the men asked for a reasonable or an unreasonable rate of wages. The fact is that they struck for increased wages, although they were working under an agreement. That Senators W. Russell, McDougall, and Rae should applaud their action in tearing up the agreement does not surprise me in the slightest. A little later we had the recent strike which started on the 9th October. That was denounced by the officials of the union - practically by the heads of that body. I think it may be said that they recognised the great mistake which the men had made, and that they used their best efforts to terminate the trouble. I am sure that all of us were particularly pleased when we learned that the men had returned to work. But let me remind honorable senators of how that strike was terminated. It was terminated by the most ludicrous incident in the history of our arbitration laws. The men were violating an agreement which had been entered into under the auspices of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Then the Government of New South Wales came along, and in effect said to them, “ If you will resume work we will appoint a tribunal to arbitrate upon whether you ought or ought not to observe the award of the Federal Court.” Let us carry the matter a little further by supposing that Mr. McGowen’s tribunal had given an award as to whether the men were right or wrong in breaking a Federal agreement. In that case I presume that we in turn should have been called upon to create a Federal tribunal to decide whether or not the men ought to observe the decision of the State Court as to the original award. All these circumstances emphasize the fact that industrial agreements are of value only when the conditions under them are satisfactory to both parties.
– The honorable senator’s party were squealing for the State Government to do something to end the strike, and now that something has been done they are still squealing.
– If Senator McDougall thinks that anybody will be satisfied with such a grotesque statement of the position as that, he is very optimistic. I am not aware that I have made any comment on the action of the State Government until the present moment. But an agreement having been in existence some steps should have been taken to enforce its observance. I venture to say that had the ship-owners locked out the men there would have been a very vehement shriek from Senator McDougall, who would have loudly called upon the State Government or some other Government to enforce the law. The Minister of Defence is doubtless aware of the fact that, according to telegrams which appeared in this morning’s newspapers, the wharf labourers who returned to work a few days ago, lured by the promise of Mr. McGowen to create a second tribunal to arbitrate on their action, are again on strike.
– I am informed that that is not so - that they have merely decided to endeavour to get a revision of the agreement.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it would be better to wait for certain information before he bases an argument upon that case?
– Whether the men are out on strike or not is, of course, an important fact. If we are to judge from telegrams appearing from Sydney this morning the men have struck with regard to the time when they shall knock off for tea, which in itself involves the question of when overtime pay shall commence. Whether they are actually out on strike or not is, as I have said, a matter of considerable importance to themselves, and to the community, but it is not important for the purposes of my argument. It is quite clear that they are seeking to disturb an agreement which has been arrived at. Is there to be any finality in these matters at all ; or is it not better frankly to recognise, as I have been compelled to do, that these agreements and awards are absolutely useless unless and until there is an honest determination on the part of the men that they will loyally adhere to any arrangement made on their behalf?
– The honorable senator would not say that it is not better for the men to secure what they want in an» orderly way?
– This agreementwas only made- a few weeks ago.
– Did it deal with the tea-hour ?
– That is not the important point.
– Yes; that point might be outside the agreement.
– According to the information conveyed in this telegram from Sydney it was provided that the tea-hour should begin at a certain time, and that thereafter overtime should commence. Now there is an effort to vary that agreement.
– Our arbitration law provides for that.
– It is true that the law does provide for the varying of agreements under certain conditions, but when an agreement is made, ostensibly for a number of years, it ought not to be disturbed by a strike. The statements made by members of the Ministry in their efforts to bring the dispute to an end prove that what occurred was a strike, and not a variation of the agreement. Now we have steps being taken to patch up the trouble, not by asking for a loyal adherence to theagreement at all; but the men are to helured back by promises that if they will’ only return to work a tribunal shall be established to arbitrate as to whether they should adhere to the agreement originally made on their behalf. Can these things go on indefinitely ? They may, and it appears at present as if they would. But so long as they do continue as at present it appears to me that there is no justification, for asking any one, unless he is the most optimistic of men, to believe in the efficacy of our arbitration laws.
– Would the - honorable senator prefer to go back to the old order, when we had no other remedy for industrial discontent than strikes and locks-out?
– What are we having at present but strikes ? I venture to say that we should have no more industrial troubles than is the case now if we wiped the arbitration laws off the statute-book altogether. The history of the Wharf Labourers Union during the last five years, which I have given, clearly proves that when the men see an opportunity of securing advantages over and above those secured to them under arbitration awards, they have not the slightest hesitation in going on strike.
– Does not the honorable senator think that arbitration has minimized striking ?
– No, I do not.
– How long have the seamen adhered to their award?
– The seamen I believe, are working under an agreement which was not determined in the Arbitration Court at all.
– No, there was a provisional award last December.
– I have said before in this Senate that the real explanation of the agreement between the ship-owners and the seamen is that it was brought about by the operation of the shipping ring itself.
– The ship-owners made friends of their workmen, and the workmen were quite content to see the public “ taken down “ so long as they shared the spoil.
– The freights and passage rates in Australia are the cheapest in the world. You can travel for1d. per mile on our coast, and you cannot do that anywhere else in the world.
– Senator Givens has asked me whether I think we should have been any worse off without our arbitration laws. I have already stated that I feel satisfied that if a search were made into the records for the last five years, it would be found that more strikes and industrial troubles and disturbances have occurred in that period than in any other corresponding period in the history of Australia.
– Surely the honorable senator does not attribute that fact, if it be true, to the existence of the Arbitration Court.
– But the fact does demonstrate the failure of the Arbitration Court.
– How many more strikes would there have been without the Court ?
– I do not think there would have been a single one more. The proof of that statement is that there have been more strikes in those industries which are workingunder awards than in industries which are not working under them.
– There might not have been more strikes, but there might have been a bigger one infinitely worse in its effects.
– It does not appear to me to make much difference whether men are working under an award or not. The moment they are dissatisfied with their conditions they exercise what may be called their natural right, and say, “ We will not work unless we get better conditions.”
– Will the honorable senator say, then, that he is in favour “of wiping out our arbitration laws?
– The honorable senator is arguing that way.
– The whole drift of my argument is that if these arbitration laws are to be successful there must be a marked change in the attitude of the men working under them, who will have toexhibit more loyalty to the principle than they have done in the past.
– The honorable senator has said a great deal about workmen refusing to obey awards, but he has said nothing about employers who try to get outside an award that does not suit them.
– What I say on that point is that you can enforce an award against an employer, but that it is impossible to enforce it against a large body of workmen.
– An employer can defeat the law easily without actually breaking it.
– These interjections may be out of order., but they are very pertinent, and they all confirm my statement that you have to bring about a change in the mental attitude of those who are working under these arbitration laws before you can claim that they are successful. As far as I am concerned, I do not think that that change of attitude is going to be brought about within any reasonable space of time Consequently, I do not hope for anything from these constant amendments of the law. If the matter were left to me I would not walk across the street to amend, to repeal, or to abolish our arbitration laws. I regard them as mere waste paper. I am not prepared to abolish them, because it may be that more reasonable counsels will prevail in the future with the men. It may be that they will discover that after all is said and done a loyal adherence to an agreement or an award is better in the long run than striking.
– Awards have compelled many employers to pay fair wages.
– But the men do not adhere to them if they see or think that the conditions of the market justify them in asking for increases. The wages which are being paid in a number of industries to-day are not the wages which were determined upon under arbitration awards at all. That has happened because men threatened to strike if their employers did not concede to them better wages than they were receiving under awards.
– The percentage of breaches of awards has been exceedingly small.
– I cannot penalize the Senate by giving again the history of one union to show the number of strikes that have occurred, although the members of that union have nominally been working under awards for years.
– There was absolutely no breach of an award of the Federal Arbitration Court before last December.
– How does it affect the principle of arbitration whether an award comes from Mr. Justice Higgins or Mr. Justice Heydon?
– We are dealing with the Federal Arbitration Court.
– I am dealing with the principle of arbitration, and it is immaterial to me whether a body of men break an award given by one tribunal or “by another. The whole principle must break down, unless there is a loyal determination to respect arbitration awards, however given.
– My contention is that the Federal Arbitration Court has been a success. There was no breach of a Federal award until last December.
– And that was not an award, strictly speaking.
– I am dealing with the general and marked failure of arbitration, compulsory or otherwise.
– And the honorable senator is basing his argument upon a miserable percentage of breaches of awards.
– Senator Givens may say that the percentage is a miserable one ; but I again remind the Senate that I have given the history of one union for the last five years, and have shown what a large number of strikes have occurred in connexion with it.
– It is a healthy sign in the body politic.
– If Senator Rae says that it is a healthy sign when men break the law and break an agreement, and also claim the right to strike when an award does not suit them, I do not agree with him as to what a healthy sign is. The honorable senator has put in a few words the very point that I am making, and that brings me to the fresh point - that with regard to arbitration I am a confessed pessimist.
– The honorable senator does not look like one !
– Well, no one could see Senator Givens sitting in front of him without being brightened with a ray of hope occasionally.
– I wish to explain that I did not mean that it was a healthy sign that there was industrial unrest or that agreements had been broken.
– The honorable senator does not say that it is a healthy sign when employers break agreements that do not suit them. It is immaterial to me, however, whether strikes occur by breaches of awards by employers or employes. My point is that, in consequence of these breaches, the law has broken down. It does not matter which side has broken the law. There has been a want of loyalty on the part of those who should be working under awards, and as a result our arbitration laws have become simply a farce.
– This Bill deals merely with an obvious defect in the law.
– We have been passing amendments of the arbitration law session after session. Nevertheless, breaches of awards are multiplying, and it does not seem to me to matter whether we abolish our arbitration law or pass a fresh one.
– The honorable senator has been taking a good deal of trouble about this matter, which has cost him more effort than walking across the street would do.
– Of course, to a man like Senator Givens, with his strong aversion to any healthy exercise, it may be so, but it is not so to me. It appears to me that we are simply pouring water into a sieve. Of course, to do so may amuse some honorable senators - it may keep them out of mischief ; but I fail to see that it is doing any good at all. I repeat that this Bill will not do any good. I do not like to say a thing which may sound like a warning, and if my honorable friends opposite construe my observation in that way I cannot help it; but I assert again that, without something like loyal adherence to awards, and unless there is a marked change in the public utterances of those who are generally looked upon as the leaders of Labour, this amendment of the law will do no more good than did its predecessors.
– Will the honorable senator give us his remedy for the whole trouble?
– I have said several times in the clearest terms that I have lost ali faith in the arbitration awards.
– What is the alternative ?
– The alternative is what is occurring with unfortunate frequency. It appears that the men will never give up their right to strike, no matter what legislation we choose to pass.
– The honorable senator defends strikes?
– I am not defending strikes. I deprecate them. But I say that though I deprecate and regret the occurrence of strikes, I am not going to be fool enough to say that I see any sense in following up law after law when I know that each successive law will be broken, as its predecessor was. I am strengthened in that opinion by a reflection on the general position during the last five years. During that time, when numerous awards have been drawn up, invariably when the market conditions permitted of an increase of wages, the men struck, or threatened to strike, to secure them.
– Not invariably.
– The honorable member may be able to pick out one little swallow and call it a summer; but, nevertheless, my statement is correct - that these awards have marked an advance for workmen in the industries in which they are employed.
– Hardly in proportion to the increased cost of living.
– That is another matter. The awards have undoubtedly been on an up grade, yet they have not been observed. They have failed to give satisfaction.
– They have not gone up with a steep enough gradation.
– That may be so. If, during the time the awards were on an up grade, and did mark an advance; if, under these favorable conditions, men refused to be bound longer than it suited them, what is going to happen when in the natural order of events the present period of splendid prosperity terminates, and a period of comparative depression is entered upon? I feat what will happen.
– We shall make the employers do with less profits, so that we cart keep up our rates of wages.
– The workers will do that by a strike when it suits them, or by any other method when it suits them. The honorable senator must not thinkfor one moment that I take exception to any body of men trying to get the last possible farthing they can for anything which they have to sell; they are justified in doing that. But it is a perfect farce to pretend that they are going to adhere loyally to an arbitration award when the experience of the last few years shows that the moment the condition of the market justifies it they will break the award. In otherwords, they will resort to the method which a few years ago it used to be the custom to refer toas the “barbarous method of the strike,”’’ but which is. now being lauded.
– How long did the wharf labourers wait for an award?
– Did they have to wait a long time for an award?
– Three years.
– They were like the boy with the soap. They were not happy till they got an award, and then they were still unhappy. The first thing they did was to break the award. No one was morehopeful than I was when the idea of arbitration was in the air; no one was more sanguine, or more confident, than I was that we had struck the right solution for our industrial troubles. It has been to me a matter of considerable disappointment, and it is now that my old faith has been shattered, as the faith of thousands of persons’ has been shattered, by the unanswerable events of every-day life.
– If I remember rightly you were not an enthusiasticsupporter of arbitration.
– My honorable friend does not remember rightly.
– I am glad to ‘hear that.
– As a matter of fact, I do not think my honorable friend remembered it. He was simply throwing out a feeling interjection.
– I think you were very happy when the Watson Government went down on arbitration.
– I am always glad when a bad Government goes out of office.
– On arbitration?
– The principle on which the Watson Government went down was quite distinct from the Arbitration Act. I am a pessimist with regard to arbitration laws. It was with great regret that I arrived at that frame of mind. But I would be false to myself, and to the position I hold here, if I refrained from stating my opinion that all our labour will be wasted unless we see a complete change of mental attitude on the part of those who ought to be the first to stand up as the champions of any industrial award or agreement. I do not propose to discuss the details of the Bill, because everything turns on the wording of a provision. I have already stated that I have not had an opportunity of looking into the measure as closely as I would have liked to do, but there are two principles to which I desire to refer. One of the main objections I see to the Bill, if I troubled very much about arbitration law, which I admit I do not do, is that, if it does become law, as I suppose it will, and if that at which it aims is secured, it will sound the death-knell of collective bargaining. If we are going to have men organized in crafts, instead of, as at present, in industries, there can be no more collective bargaining. We can have collective bargaining in an industry, but we cannot if we organize crafts. A man who is driving an engine for a wool -scour in Queensland cannot join with the man who is driving an engine for a saw-mill on the south coast in New South Wales, to make a collective bargain with the employers in the two industries. To my mind, if there was one hopeful spot at all in our Arbitration Act and procedure, it was the opening which it presented for collective bargaining. I am not saying that there has been any very great success achieved there. It has always appeared to me that, where a bargain was arrived at voluntarily, there was a better hope of it being adhered to than where a Court had issued an award. But if the object of this Bill is achieved, and if the practice becomes general of men organizing according to their crafts, instead of according to their industries, we shall have absolutely destroyed any hope of extending the idea of collective bargaining. I leave it to others who are more familiar with the subject, and have greater faith in this kind of legislation, to determine that point. But to me the measure marks a retrogressive step rather than a progressive one. The next point to which I wish to refer is the effort made in the measure clearly to concentrate all industrial matters of the Commonwealth in the hands of one man, and having done that to stop there. Not only does the Bill direct all, these matters into the keeping of one man, but there is a provision which, as far as we can make a provision effective, is intended to see that his decision shall be final. Whether that is constitutional or not I am not now going to argue. But I do ask attention to the view which seems to me capable of easy demonstration that any attempt to bring into the hands of one man, or even into one Court, all the industrial affairs of a great continent like Australia, with its varied industries, occupations, and interest, will fail sooner or later. And I venture to say that it will fail more particularly in the ease with which the awards will be broken by one or other section of this big industrial army. When we find a body of men concentrated in one or two cities, whose calling is very similar, such as the wharf labourers, for instance; when we find the facility with which they strike against an agreement or award we can see at once how much greater will be the temptation to strike when an award is given which covers various sections located all over the continent, and engaged in various industries where the conditions are very much more diversified. For that reason I feel that, on these two points alone, the Bill is by no means progressive, but is, on the contrary, asking us to put back the hands of the clock of time. I want to express an opinion, which I hope I. shall be able to do without offending against the Standing Orders, or, at any rate, against my sense of what is right and proper in the circumstances. I cannot resist the feeling that the portion of the Bill, to which I have just referred, is simply prompted by the desire which is very strong outside, as it is strong here, to get an award from Mr.
Justice Higgins. I am not canvassing his judgments in any way, but I venture to say that the strong motive power underlying the Bill is a desire, not to get a Federal law, but to get a Federal Judge. In other words, if Mr. Justice Higgins were presiding over a State Arbitration Court the feeling would be to get before that Court, and not in any way to come under Federal jurisdiction.
– In the case of the seamen it was the ship-owners who wanted to go to Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Did you not have a little quiet arrangement before you went tnere ?
– No. How could we when we had disagreed?
– The movements of that very successfully handled union, the Seamen’s Union, and of the equally successful ring, the shipping ring, have been too marvellous, indeed, too mysterious, for me to attempt to follow them.
– You are under a delusion.
– I never think of this very happy family, concentrated in our coastal shipping, without being reminded of the story of the man who was charged with stealing pigs on one occasion. The evidence against him was so clear that his lawyer expected that he would be convicted. But, to his surprise, the jury acquitted his client. When the case was over the lawyer said to the man, “ Well, my man, I am glad that you got off, but I do not know how you did it?” The man replied, “Lawyer, it was this way; every one of those jurymen had some of those pigs.” That was exactly the way with the Seamen’s Union and the Steamship Owners Association. There has been a fair division of the hog stolen from the public, and so they are running along as a very happy family.
– And the public get the cheapest freights and passage rates in the world.
– We do not think so who have to pay them.
– I shall prove that by-and-by.
– I was saying that the strong motive power behind this desire to federalize industrial arbitration is not a clear and logical belief in the Federal law, but a strong belief in Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Hear, hear ! He is a fair and just Judge.
– I am not suggesting that he is an unfair Judge.
– Can he give an award contrary to the law?
– On Friday last we had a statement by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the High Court had strained matters to give certain interpretations.
– Mr. Justice Higgins is not the High Court.
– Is it justifiable to say that all the Justices of the High Court except Mr. Justice Higgins strain the law, and that he is a different type of man, and does not do so?
– He is not the High Court.
– But the High Court embraces Mr. Justice Higgins, and I used to understand that the whole was greater than a part.
– He is only a fifth part of the High Court though.
– He had to carry a fifth part of the odium which marked the words thrown at the High Court.
– Do you not think that these invidious comparisons are somewhat odious ?
– They are ; I do not want to make them. I tried to put the matter fairly without wishing anything I said to be in the slightest degree a reflection on Mr. Justice Higgins, or his awards. All I say is that these awards have appealed to the sympathy, the belief, the confidence of a large number of the unionists of Australia, and it is, perhaps, therefore, not unreasonable that they should turn to him. But he, like ourselves, is only a creature of the moment. It will be folly merely, because we happen to have a Judge who is popular administering the law, to centralize everything in that one Court, unless it can be shown that the centralization itself, apart from the Judge, would be a good thing. If Mr. Justice Higgins were not President of the Arbitration Court, or if his awards had not been received so favorably, I do not think that there would be the effort which- is made to-day to centralize everything under Federal jurisdiction.
– Do you not see that the similarity of conditions in various States is the real reason for the cry for uniformity ?
– No. We need not disguise the facts. Senator Rae understands the matter perfectly, and there is no one who cares less about disguising anything when it suits him. The honorable senator knows perfectly well that there is a strong desire to bring all these matters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court. That was one of the objects also of the last referenda - the centralization, as far as possible, of the control of industrial conditions throughout Australia in the Federal Courts. I am not taking any exception to it when I say that, in my opinion, it is not because there is a belief founded upon any demonstrable advantage to be derived from this centralization in one Court that this is proposed. That is not the motive. I believe that the real reason is that the decisions of Mr. Justice Higgins have appealed very largely to public sympathy.
– We are not foolish enough to believe that Mr. Justice Higgins is immortal.
– That may be so; but people are often foolish enough to regard the apparent advantages of to-day, and to disregard, it may be, the disadvantages of to-morrow. I shall not follow that matter up any further, except to say that if my statement is correct, that the Bill is due to a desire to get before Mr. Justice Higgins, whatever advantage may be derived in that way will be very dearly paid for.
– Mr. Justice Higgins’ awards have been no more successful than those of Mr. Justice O’Connor.
– I do not wish to enter into a comparison of that kind at all.
– But the honorable senator is doing it.
– No. As a matter of fact, I think that Mr. Justice O’Connor gave only one award.
– I think that he was as long at the head of the Court as Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Time has been running so rapidly, and, I hope, so pleasantly, with Senator de Largie that he has not recognised how it has gone, but I am sure he is quite wrong in suggesting that Mr. Justice O’Connor was President of the Federal Arbitration Court for as long a period as Mr. Justice Higgins has been, or that he dealt with anything like the same number of cases. I am, however, reminded by the honorable senator’s interjection that there was no great demand for this centralization in the Federal Court when Mr. Justice O’Connor was at the head of it. It has been only of late when, as I say, Mr. Justice Higgins’ awards have appealed very largely to the sympathy of people outside, that we have had this great demand to centralize everything under the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court. I say that is the reason for this Bill.
– There were scores of unions in Australia awaiting the passing of the Federal Arbitration Act, in order to come before Mr. Justice O’Connor.
– Before the Federal Arbitration Court was established, the only unions that ever talked about it were those that could not get an award under a State Act.
– All the Inter-State unions registered.
– Because their circumstances rendered it necessary. But to-day there are hundreds of bodies who can, and many of whom are, working under State jurisdiction, who desire to come under the Federal Court.
– That is the object of this Bill.
– Yes, and it was the object of the referenda. If I am right in my surmise, whatever immediate and temporary advantage may be derived from the awards of a particular Judge, those who will reap benefit from them will pay a very high price for it. Having obtained it by centralizing everything in the one Court, they will find, sooner or later, that the whole thing must break down when an attempt is made to deal in this way with our varied industrial conditions.
– Notwithstanding the complaint that he had not had an opportunity to go fully into this question, Senator Millen has managed to occupy a fair amount of time in discussing the Bill, with’ some liberal assistance from honorable senators on this side. I shall not take up much time in dealing with the measure, but one or two statements made by Senator Millen should not, I think, be allowed to go forth without an absolute contradiction, because the facts are against them. He says that there is no loyalty to the decisions of the Arbitration Court.
– That is not exactly what he said.
– Yes, it is. I took it down as he said it. As a matter of fact, up to September last no strike had occurred in regard to any of the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court.
– I was dealing with arbitration generally.
– So am I, but I shall take one thing at a time; and shall deal first of all with what this Bill deals with, and that is the Federal Arbitration Court. The strike to which I refer was only a very small matter, involving a very small number of people, and the difficulty was speedily overcome. The incident was so unimportant that I am practically correct in saying that no strike has ever occurred against a Federal Arbitration Court award. Let me give honorable senators the numbers of men working under awards of the Court. Many of the members of the unions to which I shall refer have been working under awards of the Court for several years. There is the Seamen’s Union, comprising sailors and firemen, and numbering 7,000; the Merchant Service Guild, comprising captains and officers, and numbering 1,800; Stewards and Pantrymen, 1,465; Cooks, Butchers. and Bakers, 200; Australian Workers Union, 48,000; Institute of Marine Engineers, 2,000; Barrier Branch of Amalgamated Miners Association, 1,000 ; Engine-drivers and Firemen, 4,000; Boot Trade Employes, 6,500; or a total of no less than 71,965. Many of these men have been working under awards of the Federal Arbitration Court for years, and there has never been a single strike against them. Yet Senator Millen says there is no loyalty to Arbitration Court awards. These awards have been in operation concurrently with tremendous increases in the cost of living, the general prosperity of the country, and with a general rise in wages. Yet they have been honestly and loyally obeyed. Let me say further that a number of unions cannot secure the benefit of a Federal award, because under sections of the existing Act, which we are now proposing to amend, the High Court has decided that they cannot appear before the Federal Arbitration Court. I propose now to divide the labour of Australia into three classes, because I wish to analyze this charge. There are those under Federal awards, the numbers of whom I have indicated, and amongst them there has been no strike. There are those who are working under awards of State Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards. I may mention here that in my own State of Western Australia the whole of the mining industry has been working under awards of a State Court since the establishment of the Federal Parliament, and without a solitary strike.
– There were strikes in Western Australia under a State Court award.
– Yes, but not in the mining industry. Then there are those who, because of the opposition of our honorable friends on the other side, cannot secure the benefit of any award, Federal or State.
– What does the honorable senator mean by that? How can our opposition prevent men obtaining awards under a State Act ?
– Because in the Federal arena honorable senators opposite have bitterly opposed every effort made to liberalize the Conciliation and Arbitration Acts, just as they are opposing this Bill; and in the State arena they oppose every extension of Wages Boards, as they are doing in Victoria to-day. And when legislation for the extension of Wages Boards is proposed, the Legislative Councils, who are the backbone of the party opposite in the States, do all they possibly can to hamper it with conditions that will make it unworkable.
– That is a most unfair statement.
– The members of the Legislative Councils who do these things are leading men in the organizations to which honorable senators opposite belong, and every one of them are supported by their party organization. I am going to consider now what are the causes of the strikes that do occur. In New South Wales there is an industrial tribunal which covers the whole of the State. We all know that the State law there is not satisfactory, and that the present State Government is pledged, as soon as the opportunity offers, to amend it so as to make it workable. Many of the strikes which have occurred in New South Wales have been due to the fact that the State arbitration law is unworkable and harsh.
– What about the strikes in South Australia?
– I am not going to be led away by interjections. In Victoria the Act providing for Wages Boards does not apply over the whole of the State, or to the whole of the industries. Less than two-thirds even of the manufacturing industries of Victoria have yet been able to take advantage of the Wages Board system. Every extension of the law has been bitterly opposed by the Tory organizations of the State, and in many cases the Legislative Council of Victoria has rejected, wholesale, resolutions submitted for bringing trades under the law. During only the last session of the State Parliament of Victoria the political comrades of our friends opposite fought bitterly against the extension of the Wages Board system to the rural industries of the State. Yet the so-called Liberal organizations of Australia are attacking the Labour party because they propose to extend the Wages Board system to the rural industries generally. In South Australia and in Queensland, where State tribunals of a kind are established, there is the same story to tell. In both States these tribunals are only partially open to the workers, and under conditions which lead to discontent and trouble. Referring now to the interjection by Senator Sayers, let me say that the South Australian Labour Government, recognising that whilst the State law remained in its imperfect condition - because it is a copy of the Victorian law - it must be ineffective, attempted to liberalize it, and to bring it more into accord with what we believe an industrial tribunal should be. What was the result ? The Legislative Council of the State, composed of the political comrades of Senator Sayers and our f riends opposite, rejected the proposed amendment, and retained the law in its present form.
– It was not our comrades there who stuffed the rolls. It was the honorable senator’s comrades who did that.
– I have no doubt at all that Senator Millen would much prefer that I dealt With any. other subject than that with which I am dealing. I now come to Tasmania. There is there a partial System of Wages Boards, and legislation, has, I believe, been passed in this direction during the last session. But we know that it contains all the objectionable features of the Victorian law, and we know also that those features were deliberately inserted by the Legislative Council of Victoria for the express purpose of robbing the workers of any ‘chance to obtain justice. The Tasmanian House of Assembly passed a measure without those objectionable features, and we find the Legis lative Council of the State following the example of their comrades over here and inserting them. We have a Federal law working smoothly, with those under it absolutely loyal, and the great mass of the people of Australia are prevented from taking advantage of its provisions, whereas the State laws on the subject are rendered nugatory, or have been so limited in their application by the opposition of the political comrades of honorable senators opposite that a large number of the workers of the Commonwealth can derive no benefit from ‘such legislation, Federal or State. Now, what becomes of the statements made by Senator Millen, that there is no loyalty to the principle of arbitration ; and what becomes of the professed desire of honorable senators opposite to see that principle widely extended? The organizations they represent have fought to the very last ditch to prevent arbitration being made possible and to make arbitration measures, where they have been enacted, unworkable and objectionable in every feature. I wish now to deal with’ Senator Millen’s objection to the Bill on the ground that it recognises crafts. He made the astounding statement that this measure will sound the death knell of collective bargaining. What is collective bargaining but bargaining between employers on the one side and employes on the other ? There is no destruction of collective bargaining contemplated by the Bill, because whether we deal with unions as crafts or as industries, we shall still get a number of employers on the one side and a number of employes on the other. Consequently, there is as much room for collective bargaining under this Bill as there is under any other industrial law.
– Some of the Minister’s own supporters do not agree with him.
– Possibly. This Bill does not prevent or hinder the formation and registration of composite unions, nor does it prevent them from bringing their case - if they have one - before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. It merely seeks to enact that where a body of men decide that they will not join a union representing the industry in which they are engaged, but prefer to become members of a union representing a craft, that fact shall not place them outside the pale of the Court.
– Admitting all that the Minister says, as to the right of men to join any craft union, will he.be good enough to tell me how a body of engine- drivers can form themselves into a composite union for the purpose of collective bargaining ?
– The Leader of the Opposition will find that all trades and crafts pay no regard to whether or not a man is a manufacturer - he can still join their organizations. In addition to their composite unions, the employers are wise enough to have a specialized union. For instance, there is the Chamber of Mines, which is an organization representing the mine-owners. There is also the Boot Trade Employers Association, the Saddlery Employers Federation, and the Iron Trade Employers Federation. We know that all these bodies are represented on the Employers Federation.
– Not one of them is represented industrially.
– The Leader of the Opposition is a very astute member of this Chamber, and we all recognise that a man will frequently say things on the public platform which go down there, but which he will hesitate to say in a deliberative assembly. But, clever as the honorable senator undoubtedly is, he had the audacity to-day to trot out the old political platitude which has been hawked about Australia during the past year in reference to a one-man Court, and to endeavour to make the public believe that there is something novel in the idea of one man adjudicating upon an industrial award. Yet my honorable friend and his colleagues frequently emphasize their love and admiration of Wages Boards. In so far as there is an agreement between the parties the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court does not adjudicate in any industrial dispute at all. He merely adjudicates upon the points which are in dispute. What happens in the case of a Wages Board? The employers have their representative upon it, so have the employes, and the chairman does not enter into the dispute except in regard to the matters upon which the parties cannot agree. So that every Wages Board decision throughout Australia - if there be a disagreement upon any point - is a one-man decision. Yet my honorable friends opposite do not voice any objection to that system. They profess a wonderful admiration and appreciation of Wages Boards, but are terribly apprehensive of the results which will follow from a one-man Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– But under the Wages Board system we have one Board for one industry.
– Is that the objection?
– Yes, as the Minister knew perfectly well when he spoke.
– The Leader of the Opposition is just as much astray now as he was previously, because, as a matter of fact, where there is an agreement between the parties upon certain points, that agreement is not arrived at by the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but by the representatives of the employers and employes of the industry concerned.
– That is not my point.
– I know, but it is my point. Just as the representatives of the employers and employes meet at the table of a Wages Board, and arrive at an agreement upon certain questions, so in regard to every question which is to come before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, the representatives of employers and employes meet for the purpose of deciding what points are in dispute. If confirmation of my statement were needed, I have only to point to the latest award of that tribunal. In that case the representatives of the pastoralists and of the Australian Workers Union were in conference for weeks, and only took to the Court the matters upon which they could not agree.
– My objection was the impossibility of any one man or any one Court efficiently handling all the matters which are handled by a multiplicity of Wages Boards.
– Does my honorable friend know that it frequently happens that a man is chairman of more than one Wages Board ?
– To a very limited extent.
– Then it is only a question of degree? The Leader of the Opposition declared that his objection was that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has to cover a wider field than has the chairman of a Wages Board. He grants the capacity of the chairmen of the latter bodies, but doubts the wisdom of the President of the Federal tribunal, who, by the way, devotes the whole of his time to his subject, and who has had a professional training which enables him to weigh evidence, whereas the chairmen of Wages Boards have had no such training, and have no knowledge of the industries with which they are called upon to deal. Does not Senator Millen know that many of the chairmen of Wages Boards in this State are not connected with the industry with which they deal? Some of them are retired police magistrates, and others are clergymen. I would advise him to look into this system which he admires so much, and he will find that many of the objections which he has urged to the Arbitration Court can, with equal force, be urged against Wages Boards. I trust that the Senate will pass this Bill. We wish to give these organizations an opportunity of coming under awards. I do not believe that the principle of arbitration will usher in the millennium.
– That is a concession.
– I never did believe that the Federal arbitration law would do away with discontent. I agree with Senator Rae that it will be a bad day for any country when discontent is done away with, because discontent is the mainspring of progress. We have to remember that some time ago Australia passed through a period of drought, and that during its continuance wages tumbled down to the lowest possible subsistence rate. From that time, however, we have been rapidly recovering - indeed, we have recently been passing through a period of unexampled prosperity. All those who have to earn their living by the sweat of their brow know that while it is easy for wages to tumble down, it is a very difficult matter to get them up again. We all know that, notwithstanding that the employer was reaping the advantages of a glorious and Unexampled prosperity, he made no attempt to raise wages until he was compelled to do so, either by having to compete for labour in the open market, or by reason of the award of an industrial tribunal. As a result, we have had strikes. The picture which has been drawn by Senator Millen of the number of strikes which have occurred during the past few years simply shows that the employes have demanded that they shall share in the general prosperity which has obtained. We believe that it is better to adjust these conditions by means of arbitration. The Federal Arbitration Court, in its awards, has shown that it can do that. It may break down. There may be strikes under it. So far, there has been none, but there may be some in the future. If so, that circumstance will not condemn it. We have to judge it by its general success. Our criminal laws are broken every day, but that does not prove that there should be no criminal law. This Bill is an attempt to adjust economic conditions as between employers and employes on the basis of justice. We want to make the law on this subject perfect. We find that it is imperfect to-day, and hence this measure.
– I join with the Leader of the Opposition in protesting that we have not had time to consider the important change which this Bill seeks to effect in our industrial law. I regret that we were not allowed more time to discuss such a very important question. I do not yield either to the Vice-President of the Executive Council or to the Minister of Defence in my anxiety to devise an effective machine for the promotion of industrial peace. For years I have hoped for that, and I join with Senator Millen in saying that every effort which has been made in this direc-. tion by the Parliaments of Australia has resulted only in disappointment. For the Minister of Defence to argue that there has not been a succession of strikes of an unjustifiable character in every State of Australia during recent years is as audacious as to argue that the electric lights are not shining in this chamber. The tact that some of the awards of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court have been loyally observed does not affect my statement - a statement which is unanimously supported by the press of Australia, and also by the employers of this country - that strikes have been the rule rather than the exception. Honorable senators opposite will not even do their opponents the courtesy of maintaining a quorum.
– Order ! There is a quorum present.
– I can say, without hesitation, that one of my chief desires throughout my political life has been to try to devise some machinery, parliamentary or otherwise, which would put an end to those disasters which have weighed so heavily upon the working classes throughstrikes.
– Why does not the honorable senator join the Socialists?
– The spectacle that we have witnessed since the industrial arbitration policy was inaugurated in Australia would be sufficient to deter a man from giving any credit to the Socialist party, which seeks to bring about the collective possession of production, distribution, and the means of exchange. If ever one were tempted to go in that direction, the strikes that have occurred in this country would be enough to drive him back to what may be called Tory methods of dealing with industrial affairs.
– The honorable senator has never left the Tory system, so that he cannot be driven back to it.
– I wonder whether my honorable friend knows what a Tory was? What was the principle characteristic of Tory legislation and administration for centuries past? It was the maintenance of privilege and caste. This Bill, and former legislation on this subject, have privilege written all over them. When on the platform I claim that our cause and our party are Liberal, I am sometimes asked, “ Where are the Tories?” My answer has been to ask my hearers to judge by some characteristic feature of Toryism, and I have had no difficulty in showing that the Labour party to-day are legislating in a Tory direction by giving to a certain class of workers - a class within a class - absolute privileges over their fellow workers. The Liberal party in Australia, whether in State or Federal politics, can stand forth with a clean conscience and claim that it has for years been trying to achieve industrial peace. This party has consistently supported legislative experiments whether by Wages Boards or by other means, to that end.
– Does the honorable senator say that without blushing?
– I say it in all good faith. As a general proposition, it is absolutely irrefutable that there has not been a State Parliament in Australia, where Liberals have been in power for the last ten or fifteen years, that has not passed laws with this object in view. There has not been a year in which one or other of those State Parliaments has not for a long time been occupied with legislation intended to bring about fairer and better conditions for the worker and peace between employers and employes.
– Truly, but those efforts have been wretched attempts to avert disaster.
– Let the honorable senator call them what he likes, but it is irrefutable that the Liberal party in Australia has endeavoured to secure better conditions for the worker. It is either Phari saical or hypocritical to say that the Liberal party as a whole has shown any hostility to legislation of this kind.
– That is just the thing the Liberal party has never tried to do.
– There is a people in Europe who have refused to recognise the motion of the stars as a factor in measuring time. There is also a party in this country that, notwithstanding the plainness of facts and the irrevocability of argument, still say that this Liberal party has not given the closest and most sympathetic attention to the fair claims of the workers in these directions. But just as I suppose it would be impossible to induce the Russians to have regard to the motion of the stars in measuring time, so I recognise that it is hopeless to expect honorable senators opposite to do justice in recognising the work of the Liberal party.
– Whatever they did was done at the point of the bayonet.
– My political history is pretty well known. I am not going to say that I have not committed some political sins, and that grave mistakes have not been pointed out. But I do say that there are few men in this Parliament - few who have been frequently before the public on platforms - whose efforts have been so continuous in regard to aiding the working classes in handling this great industrial question. For years I have been pleading and studying the question with the hope of devising means by which the worker might get fair play. I have never ceased in my efforts to attain that end. Senator Pearce has said that he does not expect the millennium to be achieved by this kind of legislation. Neither do we. If there is to be a millennium for Labour, the attainment of it will be slow and laborious. There must be many experiments before success is achieved.
– It will not be attained by legislation.
– I am reluctantly compelled to agree to that statement. Possibly we are travelling in a circle, and some time or other Senator Rae and I may find that we occupy common ground. It is not too much to say that the adjustment of fair relations, economical and industrial, between the worker and the employer is the greatest problem which presents itself to the human mind for solution. Honorable senators opposite may be cocksure that their remedy is the true one. Some of us may be less cocksure. But, at all events, it must be admitted that the progress which has been made towards industrial peace in Australia is meagre in the extreme. It is unfortunate that when proposals of this kind are put forward by those who profess to be the special guardians of the workers’ interests, criticism is either not listened to or honorable senators opposite grow restive under it, and will not take the argument as an argument, but will, if the proposition, or the criticism coming from this side be somewhat difficult, cast it on one side, and simply howl from their seats here, and from the platforms, “ You are the oppressors of the worker.” Something of this irritation is to be found in the speech of the Minister of Defence, but more of it is to be found in interjections which come from the other side. When the Minister of Defence gets up here, and says that we are to take it almost as morally certain that the Federal legislation, and the awards thereunder, are making fast for industrial peace; when he makes a statement of that kind, supported by more or less plausible arguments, it reminds me very much ot the Mormon advocate, who, when he went to. Great Britain, and asked some people to go to Utah, gave as one of his reasons that there was no social evil there. He said to men and women, “ Come to Utah, where there is no social evil.” A man who heard the argument, said, “No; because the whole system there is evil.” So it is in regard to conciliation and arbitration. I do not care how the position is twisted to suit a particular argument. It is, as I said before, irrefutable that strikes in industries are the rule rather than the exception. Take the Argus of only yesterday, which gave the particulars of every strike which has occurred in Australia during the last nine months.
– Will you analyze the list, and show how many strikes occurred under industrial awards, and how many did not.
– That is not the point now, as I am speaking of industrial operations generally. It does not matter to us as a Parliament, or to anybody, whether industrial peace, if it is brought about, is brought about by means of industrial awards. If it is brought about by means of the principle of conciliation and arbitration, does it matter a straw what is the machinery by which it is done?
– But take those cases where there was no machinery available.
– Unfortunately, if we take the industrial history of Australia for the last ten years, especially for the last three or four years, we find that where industrial arrangements between the employers and the employes have been made by agreements between themselves, apart from Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts, there has been more peace, progress, and development in those industries than there has been in the others. It is within my personal knowledge of the position of an industry which is carried on in more than one State, that the employers have refused over and over again to come under any arrangement made in a Court. They have been able, by their numerical majority, I am glad to say, to resist the Socialistic workers, who, when they enter an industry, always clamour for State interference and State restriction. If we take the industries of Australia to-day, we shall find that there is less of strife, and more of peace and harmony in all industrial operations where the arrangements are absolutely voluntary, than is the case under a system where the State is called in to interfere with, or restrict the arrangements existing between the employers and the employes. These are facts which justify an expression of opinion from this side.
– They are not facts, but absolute delusions.
– I am stating an absolute fact. I will not mention the industry, but I assure the Senate that I have known the majority of the employers in a particular industry, which is carried on in more than one State, to resent bitterly, and fight to the last, a proposal to bring them under Wages Boards or industrial awards, or a Conciliation or an Arbitration Court. They were so strong that every time, up to date, they have been able to resist every effort to bring the industry under the jurisdiction of a State Court.
– And they have never had a strike?
– Model men.
– There is an instance of a big industry. The men themselves have come to me, and told me that they dread the day when they will not be able to hold that position.
– What is the industry?
– I have given the facts, and will go no further than to say that it is a big industry.
– What is the industry?
– I do not wish to be misunderstood in this regard. I do not believe that one swallow makes a summer. The industrial and economic conditions are such that, on the whole, the worker would be foolish if he did not organize, because when an appeal for better conditions comes, whether it is right or wrong, concentrated power often brings employers to a position which otherwise they would not concede.
– Will you give us the name of the industry to which you referred ?
– Was it the undertaking industry ?
– I shall not give the slightest indication of where the honorable senator may find the industry, because, in some cases, where names have been mentioned, there has been such a thing as boycotting the men, or, in some cases, the workers or the managers. But the fact is absolute. I am not speaking without my book. It does not matter who the persons are, or what the industry is. That does not materially interfere with my argument.
– You say that it is a big industry.
– It is a goodsized industry. Apparently, we on this side are to be charged with that class Hatred, or class prejudice, which the Minister of Defence alleges against the Legislative Councils. I wonder that a man of his intelligence, and in his responsible position, can descend to such an attitude as that. I have yet to learn that, fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly, the Liberal party in the Senate is responsible for, or is in any way connected with, any opposition which the Legislative Councils may have offered to industrial legislation.
– Of course, you have been improved a bit by your surroundings.
– That is always the honorable senator’s spirit of selfrighteousness. Once a man is possessed with that spirit, nothing can take it out of his mind that he was predestined, and will become an angel, and that every one who is not with him was not predestined, and will go down below. In the moral world, that is a frequent thing.
– Order. The honorable senator is getting away from the subject before the Senate.
– I was drawn off my track, sir, by interjections. Assuming that it is true that Legislative Councils have resisted conciliation and arbitration legislation-
– And mutilated it.
– And if the honorable senator likes, mutilated it. Is it fair to say that they have taken that course, if they have done so, because they are opposed to the principle of conciliation and arbitration, or rather to the improvement of the conditions of the workers?
– No, it is because they are representatives of greed and pig-headed stupidity.
– Every time that the Legislative Councils have opposed conciliation and arbitration legislation, if they have opposed it,they are to be taken as pig-headed, and the enemies of Labour.
– That is the platform stock-in-trade.
– Of course it is.
– It is a positive fact.
– I intend to occupy some time, and to quote at some length, to show the honorable senator and the Senate that, down to the present time, the ablest Labour men in the world have been irreconcilably opposed to, and have condemned in words which we would be afraid to utter, the whole principle and system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration.
– We do not dispute that.
– When Legislative Councils resist such legislation, if they do resist it, is it fair to call them pig-headed enemies of Labour, when we find that Labour representatives of the highest character throughout the world, some of them living in Australia, have opposed it also?
– No; but when they deliberately wreck the thing, and make a sham and a fraud of it, they are.
– Order. I must ask Senator Rae to cease interjecting. I think that Senator St. Ledger is getting very wide of the mark. He has stated that he intends to quote at some length the opinions of persons who are outside Australia in connexion with this matter. This measure is, I understand, being passed for Australia, and its operation is not to extend beyond its boundaries.
– Am I to understand, sir, that in dealing with a measure which proposes a certain course of legislation, we are not at liberty to refer to other countries to see whether their experience will help us or not?
– There is no objection to a reference of that kind being made, but Senator St. Ledger said that he was going to state at considerable length the opinions of persons outside Australia who were opposed to this kind of legislation. If that were permitted, what would happen? The honorable senator could simply quote the opinions of persons scattered from one end of the world to the other, who do not believe in this class of legislation, without dealing at all with the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– May I be permitted, sir, to state that an honorable senator opposite quoted the members of the Legislative Councils in Australia as persons who are opposed to this kind of legislation, and criticised them in very strong terms indeed? Senator St. Ledger said he would prove that Labour men of the highest character throughout the world had also opposed this kind of legislation. Surely that is cognate to this debate?
– I do not dispute the honorable senator’s right to quote instances of the kind. The Minister, when speaking, mentioned that the Legislative Councils of Australia had opposed legislation of this description. So far, Senator St. Ledger’s speech has been confined to’ answering that aspect of the question. When the honorable senator says that he proposes to quote extensively from the opinions of people outside Australia on this matter, such quotations, if used as illustrations, may be made, but if the honorable senator is to quote such opinions at great length, I do not know where he will stop.
– I hope that I thoroughly understand your ruling, sir, and I shall try to obey it. The Leader of the Opposition has stated, and I confess, that I am disposed to agree with him, that there is some reason to despair of the results of compulsory conciliation and arbitration. When those who take that view here are referred to as “ pig-headed opponents of Labour,” it is not unreasonable that I should quote, I hope not at undue length, from Labour authorities, amongst the highest in the world, who take a similar view. They believe that compulsory conciliation and arbitration is bound to fail, and I go further, and say that this proposed extension of the principle will result only in a more marked failure and disappointment. I propose to quote now the opinion of Samuel Gompers, who has been for years, and I think is to-day, the head of the largest Labour organization in the whole world. He contributed an article for the editor of a work entitled Labour and Capital - The Relations of Employers and Employed, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1902 -
It may not be known to the advocates of compulsory arbitration that in the fifteenth century there was a species of compulsory arbitration ia vogue in Great Britain, where the courts determined the wages and conditions of employment. To the student of history it is an open book that the workers in Great Britain at that time were practically enslaved; that industry was hampered, and that only through violent revolution was a change brought about by which the labourers were permitted to quit their employment at will ; and from that revolution, by slow and painful processes, the industrial progress of Great Britain has developed.
Compulsory arbitration is the very antithesis of freedom and order and progress. On the one hand, it would mean confiscation of property ; on the other, it involves slavery ; and the enforcement of either or both of these is the beginning of the end, the death-knell of the industrial and commercial superiority of America.
That is the opinion of the head of the greatest industrial organization in the world.
– What is that organization ?
– Samuel Gompers is described as the President of the American Federation of Labour. I have another work in which he is more fully described, and in which it is stated that he said of himself, at a Congress in Paris, that he was the representative of the largest body of organized workers in the whole world. I give now the opinion of John Mitchell, the head of the Coal-miners Unions of the United States.
– Who are 400,000 strong.
– He says-
Arbitration has been advocated by many eminent and worthy people for many years, but I am glad to note that the advocates of compulsory arbitration are growing fewer with each succeeding year, and that there is a corresponding increase in the number of those who favour voluntary arbitration. Arbitration, to be practical, to be beneficial, must be entirely voluntary.
Might I interpolate here that that is one of the characteristic marks distinguishing Wages Boards from Courts of compulsory conciliation and arbitration. The element of voluntaryism is more effective and reasonably applied under a Wages Board system than under a system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration. Wages Boards do not depend upon compulsion, whilst compulsory “conciliation and arbitration, as the term implies, does depend on compulsion. Hence it is that Mitchell is justified in saying that arbitration, to be practical and beneficial, must be entirely voluntary. He goeson to say -
Compulsory “ and “ arbitration “ are in themselves contradictory terms ; there can be no real arbitration that is compulsory, and were the people of our country forced to agree that arbitration should become compulsory, that penalties should be inflicted on either the employed or the employing classes for a failure to accept the award of a board of arbitration, it would destroy every principle of free government, and I am free to confess that I know of no method by which compulsory arbitration could be adopted which would not mean the imprisonment of those who refuse to accept the decisions of boards of arbitration, providing they were unable or unwilling to pay fines.
So that it Is not merely the hide- bound Tory, or persons who may have some inherited prejudice against the working classes, who view this principle of compulsory conciliation and arbitration with alarm and resentment.
– There is one country which has given a splendid trial to the principle, and the honorable senator might quote from its experience.
– To which country does the honorable senator refer?
– To New Zealand.
– I do not desire to be led off the track, but, before I conclude, I may refer to the experience of New Zealand. Mitchell continues in more marked terms to express his views of compulsory conciliation and arbitration, and in the same article says -
As a result of years of experience in the tradeunion movement, I have become fully convinced that industrial disturbances have more frequently occurred because of the refusal or failure of employers” and employes to know one another, and to know one another’s business, than for any other reason.
Here, again, one is side-tracked on to another aspect of the matter. Mitchell says that the failure to preserve industrial peace arises from employers and employe’s not meeting in connexion with their business. This Bill, as the Minister has explained, is intended to give a number of workers the opportunity, if they choose to avail themselves of it, to separate themselves from the industry in which they are immediately engaged and the employers for whom they are working, and so to prevent any closer relationship between employers and employes. I say that it will be disastrous if by legislation we encourage unionist employe’s to separate themselves from the industries in which they are engaged. We have failed already in connexion with this legislation, and our failure under this proposal will be only more marked. I have only one or two more extracts to make.
– Does the honorable senator think it is worth while to quote the opinions of men who have never seen the principle applied?
– I have quoted from the head of the Coal-miners Unions of the United States, and I think his views are well worthy of attention in connexion with this discussion, if only for the reason that our honorable friends opposite cannot say that he is a pig-headed Tory, unsympathetic with the claim of Labour. If I had used similar words from a platform, it would be made too hot to hold me. The English language would not supply adjectives sufficiently strong to enable honorable senators opposite to describe me. I would be called a pig-headed Tory and the comradeinarms of predatory Legislative Councillors, and all kinds of unworthy motives would be attributed to me.
– I think the honorable senator has dealt with that question now for over half-an-hour, in reply to a few passing references made by the Minister of Defence to the action taken by Legislative Councils in Australia.
– Am I to understand that, on the general question of conciliation and arbitration, I cannot quote from Labour authorities opposed to the principle ?
– The honorable senator was not quoting authorities, but, in reply to an interjection, was referring to the manner in which he alleged he would be treated if he had used the expressions which he has quoted.
– I shall not follow the matter up. If I have been trespassing, I should, perhaps, thank you, sir, for allowing me to go so far. I think I have pretty well effected my purpose, but I should like to make one other quotation from Samuel Gompers. I quote from an address which he delivered before an Arbitration Conference, and the extract, though shorty is very explicit. He said -
It is submitted that the very terms “ arbitral tion” and “compulsory” stand in direct opposi- tion to each other. Arbitration implies the voluntary action of two parties of diverse interests submitting to disinterested parties the question in dispute or likely to come in dispute.
asked me why I did not quote from the experience of New Zealand. In the address from which I have just quoted, Samuel Gompers referred to the experience of both Australia and New Zealand, and still arrived at the conclusion indicated in the quotation I have made.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30p.m.
– Dealing more directly with the Bill itself, I do not think that it is desired by the workers of Australia. I believe that it has been forced upon the Government by a minority of the workers who are members of trade unions, and who are anxious, at all costs, and as soon as possible, to centralize the control and management of industry, distribution, and exchange. These workers, I believe, are in an absolute minority ; but through their unions they are able to exercise immense political power. I do not think that I am doing an injustice to the Government when I say that this minority has compelled them to introduce this legislation, with a view to centralizing the control of all industries in Australia, irrespective of the limitations imposed by our Constitution, which confines Commonwealth jurisdiction to industrial disputes extending beyond the borders of any one State. Notwithstanding all the defects which can be urged against either the workers or the employers, I wish to say that every enduring and substantial success which the former have achieved has been the result of their own united efforts.
– So that the honorable senator absolutely believes in the doctrine that is proclaimed by Arthur Rae?
– The more interjections that are made by honorable senators opposite, the more do they accentuate the fact that there is very little difference between their desires and my own. The difference is only as to the machinery which shall be employed to achieve the object that we all have in view. Everybody recognises that the Britisher has always been characterized by the splendid virtue of selfreliance. I admit that, at one time, I was hopeful that legislative enactments would go far towards achieving the result which we all desire to see brought about. But recent experiments have shown - and especially the experiments which have been made in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Court - that we have merely created a means, not by which each worker may have his individual interests considered and advanced, but by which organizations, which are largely of a political character, shall be able to exercise stronger power than they otherwise could exercise. I may claim the indulgence of the Senate if I express the opinion that much of the judicial interference between employers and employes has to be carefully watched. In the past the workers themselves have been suspicious of it. To-day their leaders are suspicious of it; and I admit that I am suspicious of it, because I do not believe that it is to the welfare of the worker that there should be this repeated interference between employers and employes. Upon that point I am supported by very able Labour authorities. Professor Flint, of the Edinburgh University, who is in no way hostile to the claims of the worker, in his book on Socialism, which was published in 1895, makes the following remarks, which are particularly apt at the present time, when we are seeking to extend both legislative and judicial powers : -
They (the workers) have fully proved that they can organize themselves, and owing to their organization numbers, and the importance of the services which they render to the community, they can give effective expression to their wishes as to wages, the duration of theworking day, and other conditions of labour. They are probably as able to protect themselves as their employers. They have manifestly outgrown the need for exceptional State protection and for grandmotherly legislation.
Now I say that whilst Liberals, both here and elsewhere, approve, to some extent, of legislation in this direction, our alarm is amply justified. We are justified in expressing that alarm by the fact that before this legislation was introduced eminent authorities, who were somewhat sympathetic with Socialism, had pointed out the very dangers which have since actually arisen in Australia as the result of this rash extension of judicial interference between employer and employe. I am a very great believer in the principle of self-help. I believe that it is the main principle underlying human intelligence and human effort. Every attempt to control the intelligence is an infringement of an inherent right, which, if not properly guarded, may inflict injury upon the State, and even greater injury upon the individual. I come now to a man whose name is well known in the Labour cause, who was, so to speak, cradled in the Labour movement, and who lived and died a worthy and admirable exponent of every claim on behalf of Labour - I refer to George Holyoake. In volume II., page 610, of his History of Cooperation, he writes -
There have always been too many people ready to regulate society in their own interests, whereas the welfare of the world lies in the direction of self-government. The English working class, if not brilliant, have a steady, dogged, unsubornable instinct of self-sufficiency in them. Being a self-acting race, they are alike impatient of military or spiritual mastery, or political coddling, and in their crude but manly and ever-improving way they make it their business to take care of the State and not to call upon the State to take care of them.
I view any extension of legislative interference with the same suspicion as he viewed it.
– There is no doubt that the honorable senator is an avowed individualist.
– For many years we have had experience of legislative interference with the conduct of business in Australia. The author goes on to say -
Without self help, self trust, the life of the poor is reduced to monstrous helplessness, servilude,and charity. Centralization is the doctrine of despots and paralyses all who are under it.
If I had made that statement for the first time during this debate, what would have been the reply ? I appeal to those authorities against whom no suspicion can attach to ask the other side whether by this extension of conciliation and arbitration legislation they are not encouraging the very evil which Mr. Holyoake warned us against - namely, centralization. That brings me hack to the point that I do not think that the worker himself, who is not under the heel of the Socialistic bosses in the trade unions, wants this sort of thing. I believe that the average British worker prefers to rely upon himself in the first instance, and objects to excessive legislative interference. Hefears, and rightly fears, the movement towards centralization, believing that it will turn out to be, as it has proved to be in the past, a machine set up by despots.
– Who are the bosses? I have not met them yet.
– I think that the minorities in the trade unions, impregnated with the Socialistic virus, have become bosses, and through an accident they have obtained power in the Commonwealth.
– What is the alternative to industrial legislative enactment?
– To go back to the principle of self-reliance. I believe that this Bill will hasten the day when individual effort will be reasserted amongst the working classes.
– Does the honorable senator believe in settling disputes by the method of strikes?
– If our legislative enactments will not give us industrial peace and secure freedom to the worker, the alternative is, of course, that we must go back to individual effort.
– Does the honorable senator believe in that?
– I should like to find another remedy. I take it that this Bill is an honest attempt on the part of the Government to prevent strikes and industrial disturbances. But it is our duty, and as long as the Senate is a deliberative assembly it is our right, to point out the dangers.It is possible to go too far in this matter. This very Bill may hasten the recrudescence of those evils which we are anxious to avoid. When the VicePresident of the Executive Council introduced the measure, he made use of these words concerning the High Court -
They have a perfect right to interpret the law of the Commonwealth as it presents itself to them, and they have done so, although, in many instances, their interpretation appeared to be strained in the direction of limiting the powers of this Parliament as far as the Constitution is concerned.
I do not think that that was fair comment from some points of view. But by making it the Minister invited a challenge. In taking it up one is conscious of being upon dangerous ground. It is not for us to say whether the High Court has put a strained interpretation upon the Constitution or not. That is for the Judges to say. But I wish to make another comment, not upon the High Court itself, but upon the Court which will have the interpretation of this measure when it is passed. I do not care what jurisdiction over industrial matters the Court may possess, or what power may be given to it - if you are going to write upon the walls of the Court that this legislation is to be interpreted from the point of view of regarding every worker as an Esau, and every employer as a highwayman, the sooner we cease to legislate for that purpose, and the sooner the Court shuts up, the better it will be for the worker, and for the whole community. Unless there is a determination to see that the just claims of workers and of employes shall be considered in a spirit of equity and fair play, any tribunal which we set up is bound to fail, and will defeat the intentions which Parliament had in passing conciliation and arbitration legislation at all. I come now to another phase of the Bill. Clause 2 contains the crux of the measure.
– Save us a little of this drivel !
– I do not know how a professed representative of the workers will be regarded by people outside for treating in such a spirit the efforts of one who, at all events, has given evidence of research in this matter.
– We are not used to blither like this.
– It is not very nice or dignified to use such terms.
– It does not matter what terms are applied. Such treatment is not going to interfere with me. I regard this matter as too serious. I have sought to look at it entirely apart from party considerations, which I have eliminated from my remarks. If Parliament has ceased to be a deliberative assembly, I can quite understand the attitude of the supporters of the Government.
– My trouble is that I do not understand the honorable senator.
– I am not responsible for that. The honorable senator should look to his Creator for the cause of his failure to understand. Clause 2 says -
Section 4 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from the definition of “ Industrial dispute “ the words “ arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employes on the other part.”
A reading of that clause, with the section proposed to be amended, reveals the fact that this Bill is intended to separate employers and employes from their industries - from the pact by which they are brought togetherand to group them in quite a new manner. The central point around which conciliation and arbitration has revolved has been the principle that the law was to be applied to organizations of employers and employes. But this is something more than an amendment of the principal Act. It involves a total revolution of our ideas of the principle of conciliation and arbitration as applied to industries. This Bill is in fact not an amendment ; it is a revolution. I should like to have a little more time to deal with another phase of the question, and therefore I ask whether the Government will permit me to continue my remarks on the subject next week.
– The honorable senator can continue them in Committee. I want to gelt the Bill into Committee to-day, if possible.
– I wish to deal with broad principles at this stage. I have already indicated that the proposed amendment of the principal Act amounts to a revolution ; but I cannot show that very well in Committee.
– I am prepared to adjourn when we get into Committee. The honorable senator will have the next few days to prepare any remarks on that point.
– In other words, the position is, that if I exceed the time fixed for applying the new sessional order, I must go on.
– Order ! The honorable senator is now debating a question which has no relation to the Bill.
– I must go on, sir. If I felt that I could introduce this matter in Committee as effectively as I should like to do, I would not have drawn attention to it at this stage. The Minister is, of course, quite entitled to force the position, as he has indicated his intention to do. It is in order to give effect to the principle of centralization of organization, to confer extraordinary powers on organizations, especially organizations of employes, and to alter the main principle which keeps employers and employes round an industry, that the Bill has been introduced. The Minister has told us that the Bill is intended to do that ; and it is for that reason that I have said that it proposes something more than an amendment of the law - a revolution.
– I think, sir, that we might have a quorum to listen to these remarks. [Quorum formed.]
– I believe that the proposed amendment of our law will be disastrous to the workers. This system of legislation has been considered more than once in many other Chambers. A measure which was the beginning of a series of laws, was proposed by M. Millerand, Minister of Labour in the French Chamber of Deputies, in 1902. He was the first statesman in France to attempt, with the power of the Government behind him, to give effect to the principle of voluntary or compulsory conciliation and arbitration in the settlement and prevention of disputes. In the Chamber of Deputies, as well as outside, he explained the objects of his measure. He pointed out the principles on which he intended to act, and defended the soundness of them. I shall quote what he said on that head, because it has a direct bearing on this Bill. In defending his own measure, he said -
But the time is, I feel confident, not far off when people will account it in the general interest that the world of workers should not be organized solely outside the factory.
Here I may interpolate that one of the objects of. this Bill - I refer to clause 2 - is, as far as possible, to discourage the formation of organizations solely outside the factory. Millerand knew what he was doing when he introduced his Bill. He continued -
The Bill on the friendly regulation of labour disputes which I introduced(i.e., into the French Chamber of Deputies) aims precisely at replacing the inorganic mass of workers of the middle-sized and the great industry, exposed in war - I mean strikes - as in peace to every impulsive influence, by a methodical organization making the workers in every factory into an ordered group represented by. regular delegates having habitual and normal relations with the management fitted for taking deliberative and reflective resolutions. The adoption of its principal will save at once the special interests of the workers and those inseparable from them, of national production.
Here is a remarkable contrast. It can be seen on the face of this Bill that it is not the factory, nor the particular industry, nor the relations between the employers concerned in the industry,nor the relations of the employes to the employers which are to be considered. The Bill departs entirely From that. It separates, as far as can be done, or it gives the means and facilities forthat separation, the employers and the employes from the industry concerned, and throws the whole of the industrial struggle back into the organization. Otherwise there can be no purpose in clause 2, and the dependent clauses. Will the Minister place his desire for the improvement of the worker; will any honorable senator on the Other side, place it at a higher level than that of Millerand, who was Minister for Labour in France, and is often called a Socialist?. Honorable senators opposite dare not do so; they cannot do so. When we are asked to deal with amending legislation of this revolutionary kind, we have a right to look to the experience of the outside world, in order to guide us as to how far, and how properly, we may go in our revolutionary amendments. Therefore, I quote the warning of Millerand, and the article which he wrote on his Bill when it was introduced, to show that, on the crucial point in this measure, the Government have departed from that essential principle which he regarded as the means of making it effective; and that is to keep the employers and the employes, for the purpose of conciliation and arbitration, as closely connected as possible to the industry in which both are concerned. I have pointed out one radical distinction between the two. Lest the Government may think that I have misunderstood the writings and speeches of Millerand on this subject, I shall quote another authority as to what he meant when he introduced his measure. Voltmar, who is a professed Socialist, and who desires to see the conditions of the workers improved, made these comments -
Millerand’s Bill is based on workshop representation.
But the Commonwealth Government deny that. They say, “ Sweep it aside ; leave out the petty workshop and the petty factory; leave out the large workshop and the large factory. Do not take the workshop into consideration as a factor or an element in the settlement of industrial disputes.” Are we going to sweep away, without criticism or without protest, any consideration of that great principle, supported as it is by such strong authorities, because that is what this Bill pretends to do? Referring to the French Bill, Voltmar continues - .
Representative bodies are elected by the universal, direct, and secret suffrage of the workmen and employes in the firms subject to the law.
How history will repeat itself in more places than one ! We have noted here one remarkable phase in industrial disputes - that nearly every . industrial dispute which has occurred recently in Australia has been voted in open meeting. The object of that is, of. course, intelligible to every one of us; but the intention of Millerand and others, when they adopted this principle of some form of legislative machinery to stop industrial war, was to confine the matter in dispute as far as possible to the industry, and to ascertain the decisions of employers and employes by secret ballot. What happened in regard to certain strikes the other day; and it is either for, or in relation to them, that this measure is submitted? The Minister of Defence knows, and every citizen in Australia knows, that two strikes, following one upon the other, were ordered. Why? Because some trade unionists had the power of. bringing in their proposals, and forcing them to open ballot. We know as a matter history, too, that what these persons fight for all the time is not a secret ballot, in order to ascertain the unprejudiced, and, so to speak, the free, opinion of every man in his union, or of any man in the industry. Not so in the case of the Bill which was introduced into the French Chamber of Deputies. It provided that, whenever a dispute arose between employers and employes, the matter in dispute should, before it came to be acted upon, be resolved by a secret ballot. That is what public opinion in Australia is often asking for; that is what the press is often asking for; and that, I can say from personal knowledge, is what many workers desire before a strike or a conflict with their employers is entered upon. Voltmar goes on to say -
They are to be in constant touch with the employers, and in the labour regulations definite times are fixed at which the workers’ representatives are to be received by the employers.
It is round the industry and the secret ballot that the whole of the legislation for conciliation and arbitration in France was proposed by a great Frenchman, and a very able exponent df the Labour cause. It is somewhat remarkable, as following up the history of his attempt, that, because of that temperate, moderate, and, I might say, perfectly equitable proposal, as far as we can devise anything perfectly equitable, his Bill was howled down. It never went beyond its .first reading, I believe. Because Mil.lerand recognised the existence of employers and the interests of employers, in relation to their industry, and because in his Bill, and in his writings, he recognised that the rights of the employers and of the industry, as well as the rights of the employes, in their relations with their employers, ought to be considered, the Socialists howled him down; and at the Bordeaux Conference, which met in 1903, it was moved that he be expelled. Jaures, who was the head of the French Socialist party, came to the rescue of Millerand, and, in defending him, said that whether he was right or wrong in recommending a closer relationship between employers and employes in an industry, it was an honest attempt on his part to solve a great social problem, and for that reason he ought not to be expelled. Millerand did not get his way, and when we on this side criticise the Government measure from this point of view, honorable senators opposite are absolutely silent, and cannot answer the criticism. If they would not expel the man offering such criticism, they at least refuse to hear him or to reply to him. It is evident that I shall not get a reply to this criticism on the second reading of the Bill, though possibly it may be replied to in Committee. I do not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council or the Minister of Defence will attempt to dispute the assertion I now make, that this amending Bill is certainly unprecedented.
– I shall not dispute any of the honorable senator’s assertions, if he will let us get into Committee on the Bill.
– That was the kind of thing I was told last night. The honorable senator is practically inform-, ing me, in a parliamentary and courteous way, that it does not matter what on earth I say so long as I let the Bill get into Committee. But I recognise that I am speaking to a larger audience than the Ministers and the few who are assembled in this chamber.,
– Is this a preelection address?
– I do not care whether it is a pre-election or a postelection address. I repeat that this amending. Bill is unprecedented in history. No reason has been given for it except it be one which involves a charge against the Constitution and indirectly against the High1 Court. Even assuming that there were no Constitution and no High Court, I remind honorable senators that we have still the highest authority for taking exception to this proposal, and for warning the people against it. It is a dangerous thing, especially in connexion with the industries, of a young country, to resort to revolutionarymethods of procedure in dealing with them. I have not yet heard or seen any argument by a member of the Federal Parliament justifying this revolutionary amendment of the existing law. It may be said that since the condition of France and Australia are not analogous, instances taken from the experience of France are not applicable toAustralia. If that be said, I will quote an instance from the experience of our own people. Honorable senators are familiar with the history of the dockers’ strike in 1899 in England. I shall not refer to it in detail. But, as a result of it, methods and principles were widely considered and debated to prevent any recurrence of such industrial disasters. The same course followed the great strike in Australia in 1890’ and 1 89 1. I make special reference to the dockers’ strike, because some of the highest intellects of the Empire, and amongst them men against whom there could be no breath of suspicion for antagonism to, or prejudice against, the workers, applied themselves to devise methods to prevent the recurrence of such troubles. In co-operation with the London Chamber of Commerce they drafted a scheme, one portion of which was that the London Chamber of Commerce should be empowered to secure the appointment of a Conciliation Committee to prevent any repetition of the awful disasters which resulted in the dockers’ strike. A Conciliation Committee was constituted. They set to work and devised a scheme, which, for a time, was put into practical operation. One of the most important features of that scheme for conciliation and the prevention pf industrial disputes provided that every separate trade should have .a Conciliation Committee, to be composed of equal numbers of employers and employes. It was further provided that each Trades Hall should elect its own representatives, employers and employed voting separately for their respective representation. The number of members and the general rules of procedure were to be determined by each particular trade, which was subject to the Conciliation Board. Here, again, we have a radical difference from the Government proposal. The pivot upon which, under the scheme adopted after the dockers’ strike, conciliation was to turn was the mutual interest of employer and employe” in a particular industry. This Bill departs entirely from that principle, and that is one of my greatest objections to it. The articles of the Conciliation Committee to which I refer further provided that every trade Conciliation Committee representing more than 1,000 individuals, should send two representatives to the City of London Conciliation Board, one being an employer and the other an operative workman, each to be separately elected by employers and employes respectively. That Committee was presided over by Cardinal Manning. The Labour world has never had a stronger, abler, or more intelligent advocate of the rational and best means of dealing with disputes between employer and employe” than was Cardinal Manning. If to any one man the honour belonged of settling that great dispute honorably, and to a certain extent favorably for the workers, it was Cardinal Manning. When he was considering, with Sir John Lubbock and others, how to prevent a repetition of such awful disasters, the means adopted centred around conciliation based upon the related interests of employer and employe” in a particular industry. I think I have made my point clear, so far as argument can do so.
– The honorable senator should now be content to let us go into Committee. We shall not go further than the first clause of the Bill.
– No; because there is another matter with which I intend to deal. But I feel, if I were further to pursue my present line of argument, I should become like the hero of one of Dryden’s poems, of whom it is said -
Thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
There is one other point which I desire to make.
– The honorable senator has made no point so far.
– I am not responsible for the honorable senator’s inability to see my point. There is such a thing as impenetrable head armour. This Bill contains a clause to prohibit appeals to the High Court. Ministers are labouring under some disadvantage in having no legal adviser in the Senate. I should like to hear, when we get into Committee, what is the intention of the clause to which I refer. In order that we may do so, I wish the Minister of Defence to consider what I am now going to say. Do the Government propose by this Bill to limit the power of appeal from the Conciliation and Arbitration Court to the High Court ? Is that the intention ? The Minister is silent. He will wait until we get into Committee. I think that on so important a matter we should have an answer to such a question on the second reading of the Bill. Is it the intention of the Government, by the clause prohibiting an appeal from the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, to limit the jurisdiction of the High Court ? The Minister of Defence should be prepared to answer that question. He has only one way of treating it, and that is to remain silent.
– Order ! The honorable senator has no right to demand a reply from the Minister on the second reading. The Minister has a right to reply to the whole of the debate.
– I admit that there is a difference between asking and demanding. May I be allowed to ask the Minister to answer the question as to whether it is the intention of the Government to attempt by this Bill to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court?
– I shall deal with that in Committee.
– I may anticipate, to some extent, what will be said in Committee in reply to the question. Perhaps the Minister of Defence will submit the question to the legal advisers of the Government for their consideration. There is a section of the Constitution by which the judicial authority of the Commonwealth is vested in the High Court. If we can take away a right of appeal to that Court, or limit its jurisdiction in one matter, we can limit it -in any number of matters, until we have finally whittled away its jurisdiction altogether. Is anything like that to be attempted by this Bill? I hope not. If the supporters of this measure propose to make any such attempt, I offer the opinion, with all humility in view of my imperfections as compared with the legal talent on the other side, that they cannot do so. Under the Constitution the judicial authority of the Commonwealth lies with the High Court. It is the final tribunal, and so long as it exists will decide how and when the Federal jurisdiction shall be exercised. If we wish to limit its powers, as proposed’ in this Bill, we can do so only by an amendment of the Constitution. I mention the matter now in the hope that the Minister of Defence will submit the point to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is in charge of this Bill. I hope the honorable senator will be able to say whether the Government intend to attempt, even if they could do so, to whittle down the judicial power of the High Court in the face of the fact that we have, under the Constitution, conferred it by express terms, and without limitation, upon that Court. Perhaps the Minister of Defence will ask the legal adviser of the Government to give some attention to that important point. I regret that here, as elsewhere, this most important of economic subjects has been thrown into the melting-pot of party politics. I hope that the day is not far distant when the worker will insist that it shall be removed as far as possible from the area of politics, and discussed from the point of view of what is best for the entire community. I hope that the time is not far distant when the worker will recognise that many of the utterances of the politician who stands upon a public platform and says, “ Look what a friend I am of the worker,” are merely political fireworks. I recognise that it is more popular to stand upon a public platform and to say, “ I will extend to you this power, and I will give you that power,” than it is to take up the attitude which I am adopting. From a political point of view, it is more profitable to say, “ I believe that you are an employ^, and, therefore, a social Esau, and if you send me into Parliament-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not discussing the Bill at all.
– Do you, sir, rule that mv remarks are out of order?
– Yes. The question before the Chair is, not one of a person appealing from a public platform to be elected to Parliament, but of the principles underlying the Bill
– It may be my fault, sir, but you misunderstand my attitude in this matter. I regret that this amending Bill has been thrown into the melting-pot of party politics. Am I not entitled to comment upon that ? I say, too, that the view which I take of this measure is not the popular one. The Bill does not provide the most effective means of dealing with industrial troubles. Am I out of order in commenting upon the measure in that way?
– I think that the honorable senator should confine himself to the principles of the Bill. A wide latitude has been allowed as far as the general question of conciliation and arbitration is concerned.
– I would suggest that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I feel that I should be taking up a more popular attitude if I allowed this Bill to be framed from the stand-point of regarding every employe” as an Esau, and every employer as a highwayman. But the question which I have to consider is, “ Will the Bill be conducive to better conditions for the worker, or will it not? “ In my opinion, it will not, and, therefore, I shall vote against it upon every occasion.
– After the eloquence of the previous speaker, one feels rather at a disad- vantage in addressing himself to this question. If the Bill in its present form would be the means of settling industrial disputes and of causing the parties to those disputes to honorably observe their agreements, it would undoubtedly be of immense benefit to the community. But, from experience, I doubt whether it will have that result. I note that clause 2 modifies section 4 of the principal Act, which defines industry as follows - “ Industry “ means business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment on land or water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, and includes a branch of an industry and a group of industries.
That definition exempts only those persons who are engaged in domestic service and in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits. I presume, therfore that the amending Bill will include all domestic servants and persons engaged on farms and dairy farms. Am I right in that supposition?
– It will include all those who come within the definition of “ Industry “ under this Bill.
– It will include all those who have hitherto been omitted from the scope of the measure.
– In Committee, I may have something’ to say on this subject. Personally, I have always been in favour of the settlement of industrial trouble by means of conciliation. The very word “compulsion” is opposed to the spirit of the average Briton. If he is compelled to do a thing, he will probably resent it. For that reason, a voluntary agreement is much more likely to be observed than is a compulsory one. According to the Argus, there have been ninety strikes in Australia during the present year, of which no less than forty have occurred in Victoria.
– Does that number include the doctors’ strike in Adelaide?
– I was always under the impression that the Wages Board system in Victoria was a great success, but if there have been forty strikes in this State during the present year, it does not seem as if it were. Clause 7 seeks to effect an alteration of section 10 of the principal Act by increasing the penalty from ^10 to ^25. Sub-section r of section 10 of the principal Act reads -
No em ploy £ shall cease work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that the employer is an officer or member of an organization or of an association that has ap plied for registration as an organization or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.
I would suggest that a new sub-section should be inserted, to read as follows -
No employ^ shall cease to work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that a fellow employe^ is a non-unionist.
I .think that would be a wonderful improvement upon the original Act. I cannot for the life of me see why a unionist should object to a non-unionist working alongside him. As a matter of fact, there are more non-unionists in Australia than there are unionists. Somebody has called the party to which I belong the Tory party. But, as I understand Toryism, the Tories are a party who desire to extend a preference to one section of the community as against another. I do not think that charge can be laid against’ our party. When I was in London, three years ago, I found myself made an honorary member of St. Stephen’s Club, and, when the articles were forwarded to me, I discovered that every member of it must be a Conservative. I went round to the club and pointed out that I was not eligible for membership, as I had always been a Liberal. Curiously enough, T met a gentleman there who said, “ I am glad to see you here,” to which I replied, “ I have come to tell the secretary that I am ineligible for membership.” “ What do you mean?” asked my friend, adding, “You must belong to .the Conservative party or to the old Whig party.” He then took me into the office of the secretary, and said, “ Here is a gentleman from Australia who says that he is not eligible for membership of the club because he is not a Conservative.” “But,” said my friend, “if not a Conservative, he is an Australian Tory.” I never went back to the club. I declined to be considered a Tory. I should prefer to leave the Act as it stands. I am not prepared to say that this measure runs counter to the Constitution, because that is a point as to which lawyers will have to express their opinion. What, however, does the Minister in charge of the Bill think of my suggested amendment ?
– We will consider that’ in Committee.
– When I behold the Macedonian phalanx sitting opposite to me, I can form an opinion of the treatment that any amendment will receive in Committee. But the time will come when our party will have a chance. Meanwhile we are trying to learn to be submissive. I trust that we shall have the pleasure of seeing Senator St. Ledger’s speechin printed form, so that we can study it carefully. Apparently it has not been appreciated as it deserved to be.
Debate (on motion by Senator McColl) adjourned.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers -
Department of Home Affairs : Schedule (No. 5) containing information in regard to sites, principal works, and other matters throughout the different States of the Commonwealth dealt with by the Department of Home Affairs, compiled from the Minister’s “ General Digests.” Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Goodna, Queensland - Commonwealth purposes : Notification of the acquisition of land.
Redbank, Goodna, Queensland - Commonwealth purposes : Notification of the acquisition of land.
Senate adjourned at 3.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111110_senate_4_62/>.