4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910. - Repeal of Regulation 51, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 176.
Naval Defence Act 1910. - Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth - Cancellation of Regulations 78, 79, 80, 81, and Table 1 of Part II., and Regulation 139 of Part III., and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 178.
Defence Act 1903-1910. - Regulations (Provisional) for the conduct and management of Government factories, and the employment of persons under section 63, sub-sections (1) and (2) of the Defence Acts - Cancellation of Regulations 76 and 78, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 179.
Public Service Act 1902. - Repeal of Regulation 104, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 181.
Quarantine Act1908.- Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No.121.
Amendment (Provisional) of Land Tax Assessment Act 1910. - Regulation 23 relating to the furnishing of returns. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 177.
Australian Notes Act 1910. - Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 165.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, the following questions -
– The engineer who represented the Commonwealth during the building of the Warrego reported that there was a certain omission in its construction. This defect was discovered after the vessel was taken out of dock, and she was ordered back for the necessary work to be done. I brought the “matter under the notice of the Minister of Public Works for New South Wales, and pre sume that any additional cost necessitated by the re-docking will be borne by the contractors.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention has been called to a very serious misstatement in the Melbourne Age of this morning, in which it is stated that Mr. Justice Higgins has condemned preference to unionists, whereas the text of the report of the proceedings before His Honour goes to prove that he did nothing of the kind. I should also like to know whether he has noticed on the next page a report that preference to unionists has been granted in regard to theatrical employes, and also persons employed at picture shows, and that the Age has deliberately misstated the facts.
– Order ! The honorable senator cannot enter into argument or make a statement of that sort when he is asking a. question.
– May I not read an extract from the report, so as to better explain my question to the Minister?
– Questions which were based on extracts have been asked. Whilst I cannot say it is distinctly out of order, the reading of extracts from newspapers has been discountenanced as far as possible.
– I do not desire to quote at length from the newspaper, but merely to quote sufficient to better explain my question to the Minister. The report is headed. “ Shipping Trade Dispute - Wages, Hours, and Overtime. Unionist Preference.” In replying to Mr. Schrader, counsel for the respondent, who contended that no reason had been shown why preference should be given to unionists, Mr. Justice Higgins said that -
About 98 per cent, of the seamen were in the union, and he had found that up to the present there was no need for preference. If, on the other hand, the union did not include practically all the men, then preference would be unjust. That was how it struck him at present.
That is all I wish to read regarding the matter.
– My attention has been called to the statements in the Age of this morning. My faith in that newspaper was shaken many years ago, and I leave it to the general public to decide what degree of dependence they can put on any statements which it publishes.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster- General, upon notice - 1.Has the recently-engaged expert on wireless telegraphy yet reported on the subject of providing wireless communication between Australia and Papua?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 2499), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- Thissubject of conciliation and arbitration has been engaging the attention of the Federal Parliament almost since its inception. Various amendments of the law have been introduced from time to time. We have been trying to bring about a better condition of affairs between employers and workers, but so far we do not seem to have made very much progress. In pursuing thispolicy, however, we are simply following the genius of our people, which has been displayed during the last thirty years both in New Zealand and in Australia. During that period many attempts have been made to establish better relations between those who provide employment and those who work in our industries. We are now faced with another phase of the question, which is of a very serious character indeed. I think that there is no one, of whatever class or party, who can claim a monopoly of the desire to better the condition of the workers. While there may be some sections who are more advanced according to their own idea, still there is ageneralbeliefthat the workers should enjoy a larger share of the profits of industry, that they should have a higher standard of life, that more enjoyment should be open tothem,and that they should be able to make better provision, for their wives and families. That belief is general in the minds of all people.
– Nevertheless, the employers have fought against increases of wages every time.
– That is not so. The records of Parliament during the last twenty years do not show any such result. The very fact that measures have been passed with the object of improving the condition of the workers, and that Wages Boards, which have been working satisfactorily, have been established in various States, is proof positive that the honorable senator’s statement is not correct. For myself, I may say that I have always been in sympathy with the desire that I havementioned. In fact, the beginning of the movement for bettering the condition of the workers in Victoria began under the regime of the Patterson Government, of which I was a member. At that time disclosures were made concerning the condition of the white workers of Melbourne; that is to say, those engaged in miking up linens, cottons, and other such fabrics. A Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the allegations, and the evidence was such that a humanitarian movement commenced with the object of assisting those and all other workers. Had the Patterson Government continued in office, I myself should have had charge of an amending Factories Bill. I was engaged upon it with the Chief Inspector of Factories when the Ministry went out of office. The measure was, however, taken up by Sir Alexander Peacock, and at his instance Parliament passed the Act which established Wages Boards in Victoria. That Act laid down a very just and wise principle, namely, that of bringing together the various parties to an industrial dispute. This was the first time that that principle had received legal sanction in this country. The results have been very beneficent. When men holding different views meet together around a table, under the guidance of an impartial chairman, and discuss matters amongst themselves, whilst they may retain their own ideas very strongly, nevertheless, meeting as friends, and not only as such, but as men having an absolute knowledge of the industries in which they are concerned, they are able, as a rule, to come to a very fair decision. In a Court the parties stand on an entirely different footing. There, friendship goes by the board. Very often the proceedings, instead of bringing people closer together, and making them more friendly, and inclined to meet each other, tend to embitter the feeling between them and set them further apart. Under the Wages Board system, men try to convince each other. In a Court they try to convince the Judge. Under the Wages Board system, the parties assembled to deal with the question in dispute have an absolute knowledge of the facts. In a Court the presiding Judge generally acts from knowledge derived at second-hand. Until the Federal Arbitration Act was brought into existence, and during the term of the Wages Boards in Victoria, there was not, as far as I have been able to gather, a single strike for some ten years.
– Say in Melbourne; not in Victoria.
– I am speaking of Victoria.
– The Wages Boards did not operate outside Melbourne.
– My point is that there was not a strike in Victoria. The fact applies to the State as a whole, as well as to the city. Parties met together and settled their differences amicably.
Harmony and good feeling prevailed be-, tween them.
– How many Wages Boards were there in Victoria ten years ago?
– There were, I suppose, some fifty or sixty.
– There were six.
– Ten years ago the McLean Government, of which I was i member, brought in a provision for the establishment of twenty-two Wages Boards, and the Bill was passed into law. There were, if I remember rightly, fourteen or sixteen Boards in existence before that time. With the passage of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act strikes began at once. They have increased ever since. It seems to me that since our friends in the Labour party have increased in strength and power, industrial strife has become intensified. One has only to look at the records to see .that that is so. It appears that the reason is simply that there has been a process of “ bidding up “ instead of an endeavour to settle differences. There was no “ bidding up “ before. But now there is continually “ bidding up “ as to who shall give most, until we have almost reached a condition of government by bribery. The interests of the public seem to have been largely ignored. But somebody has to pay for all these increases, and that somebody, in the last analysis, is the worker himself. It cannot be otherwise. If we are going to raise wages all round - and I do not object to a fair rise in wages - we must increase the price of commodities.
– Not necessarily.
– Start with the wool on the sheep’s back. If the shearer gets more, if the carter gets more, if the railway hands get more - causing higher freight - if the shipping hands, manufacturers’ employes, and the workmen of all kinds get more ; if all who handle the wool from the time it leaves the sheep’s back until it becomes a suit of clothes or a garment of any other description get more, even though the increases be in themselves infinitesimal,the result must be higher prices. You cannot get away from that result. Therefore, whilst increases of wages have been secured, those increases have not always been to the advantage of those who have received them. Probably the worker, ‘if his accounts were balanced at the end of a year, would find that he is no better off now than he was before.
– Is that an argument for low wages?
– No; it is an argument for taking into consideration the whole of the conditions of an industry. It is not enough that a man should say that he wants 8s., 9s., or 10s. a day. The effect of a rise in wages must be fully considered. The Prime Minister pointed out at the Eight Hours Demonstration in Sydney that the real question is not the wages which a man earns, but the standard of comfort in which those wages enable him to live. I considered that a very wise observation, and the honorable gentleman viewed the matter very much in the way in which I am putting it to-day.
– No. If the honorable senator’s theory were right, Egypt, Japan, China, and India would be the most prosperous countries in the world. The wages there are low enough, and there are no strikes.
– There must be a limit to the demands which are being made. There must come a time when it will be necessary to call a halt. That time may come, either because people generally will have become prudent and reasonable, or as the result of droughts and other disastrous conditions. I believe that the worker should get a fair share of the products of his labour, and a bigger share than he has had hitherto; but there are very many people in this country who assert that he should get all the product of his labour, and that, I consider, is not a fair thing.
– Who are they?
– The Socialists say that.
– What Socialists?
– I am glad that Senator Guthrie is back in his place in this chamber, and has not lost his power to interject, but I do not intend to take any notice of his interjections to-day. Under the first compulsory conciliation and arbitration law of New Zealand, things worked very smoothly for the first six or seven years, and there were no strikes. The phrase “ compulsory conciliation and arbitration “ appears to be contradictory, but people generally understand exactly what it means. The Wages Board system postulates goodwill on the part of all who are parties to a dispute. Before a Court, that goodwill is not so necessary, and I say that whatever system we adopt, whether it be the Wages Board system, or compulsory conciliation and arbitration, unless we have a sense of fair play, good feeling, and loyalty on both sides, it cannot work well. A bad system honestly conducted, with goodwill on both sides, will give better results in the settlement of industrial disputes than any system, however perfect, in connexion with which friction and bad feeling may arise between the parties. For the last eight or nine years we have had nothing but friction and trouble in industrial matters in the Commonwealth. I do not believe that our friends on the other side have always been as zealous or as earnest as they might have been in seeking to prevent or allay that friction and trouble. It has seemed to me at times that they have rather endeavoured to raise trouble than to put an end to it. I take the case of the Newcastle strike, and we know that the AttorneyGeneral went up there, and tried to raise trouble. It was his motion that authorized the general strike. But when it was found that Mr. Wade’s Coercion Act was threatening the supporters of the strike, the honorable gentleman scuttled out of it, and left some one else to bear the brunt.
– It is a deliberate misrepresentation.
– It is nothing of the kind.
– Order ! I think that Senator de Largie is justified in saying that the statement is a misrepresentation; but unless he is aware that Senator McColl spoke with a full knowledge of the facts, he is not justified in characterizing the statement as a deliberate misrepresentation.
– Perhaps, sir, you will let nae explain that I thought every one in Australia was aware of the attitude adopted by the Attorney-General in connexion with the Newcastle strike. If Senator McColl does not know that the AttorneyGeneral did everything possible, with the assistance of one of his colleagues, Senator Guthrie, to prevent that strike, he is deplorably ignorant of what every public man should know.
– I have read the records of the strike, and of the action taken by the Attorney-General when he first went up and visited the scene of the disturbance. I have read what took place at the time, and know of the later action taken by the Attorney-General.
– The honorable senator read it in the Age, I suppose.
– I expect that the chief representative of the Government in- the Senate will not interrupt. I say that I have read the records of the strike, and the sworn evidence given in Court in connexion with it, and upon the facts, the conclusion I came to was that which 1 have just stated. I may look up the records again to refresh the memory of Senator de Largie. Perhaps the honorable senator was one who, with the AttorneyGeneral, visited the scene of the disturbance, trying to “ raise Cain,” and then scuttled out of it, as the Attorney-General did. There have been many other instances in which no attempt has been made by the Labour leaders to settle strikes. I can refer honorable senators to the strike of the agricultural implement workers, at Sunshine, which, in my opinion, was entirely unwarranted. That disturbance was fomented and intensified by the leaders of the men. The only man who had the courage to stand up on that occasion and tell the strikers they were wrong, and should go back to their work was Mr. Solly, of Carlton-; and he was roun’dly abused by his colleagues for doing so. The men on that occasion lost three months’ work, and .£50,000 which ought to have gone into their pockets as the earnings of their labour. From 1884 to 1900 there was no strike in Victoria. During the last ten months in Australia, we have had ninety strikes - forty in Victoria, eighteen in New South Wales, eleven in South Australia, eleven in Queensland, nine in Western Australia, and three in Tasmania.
– There were more in the States in which there are anti-Labour Governments than in those which have Labour Governments.
– There were no strikes in New Zealand when there was a Liberal Government in power, as there is to-day. The reason was that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was administered by the Liberal Government with a desire to promote industrial peace, and to put an end to industrial strife and warfare. We have only to look at the records which have appeared in the press, and which, so far, no one has challenged, to discover that our legislation on this subject, so far, has only had the effect of intensifying industrial trouble and causing more friction between employers and employed, stopping the wheels of industry, and bringing about hardship in many ways. That seems to me to be a very sorry record indeed. It is for this Parliament, as the leading Parliament of Australia, to say whether some means cannot be discovered to put an end to them. We have been favoured during the last seven years with very great prosperity. It is in times of prosperity that we can afford to experiment in social and industrial matters. When ^ everybody is doing well, work is abundant, wages are fairly high, and those carrying on industries enjoying fair incomes, people do not mind making experiments. But when bad times come, as they will, they will test the fine-spun theories of honorable senators opposite. If we do not discover a solution for these industrial difficulties before the advent of bad times, we may expect disaster, and then the workers will turn round and blame their friends for their troubles. It seems to me that the second-reading speeches delivered on this Bill in another place, and in the Senate so far, have failed to illuminate and explain the measure. They have clouded over important provisions, and, in some instances, where an explanation has been offered, it has been misleading. Speakers have, it seems to me, tried to burke the real issues, instead of trying to meet them. This Bill, far from being a machinery measure, seeks to alter the whole construction of our conciliation and arbitration laws. It constitutes absolutely a new departure. It seeks to bring within its purview every section of the community that is engaged in any form of industry ; it is designed to include the infinitely small and the infinitely large. At the same time, it does not permit of the cases of the two p’arties who are interested in any industrial dispute being put fairly before the Court, and that principle is the basic principle of our present , conciliation and arbitration law. Conciliation and arbitration presuppose that there shall be two parties to any industrial dispute, ii respective of whether they be individuals or organizations, and that they shall put their cases before the President of the Court, who will adjudicate upon them. But if we are to consider crafts instead of industries, as it is proposed to do in this Bill, it is quite impossible for employers to be represented as fairly as they are under the existing Act. Thus, instead of bringing about industrial peace, the Bill will result in the creation of industrial strife. I repeat that, while it will be possible for employes in a craft to form themselves into organizations, it will be impossible for employers to do likewise. Take the case of the engine-drivers as an illustration. There is scarcely an industry which does not employ an enginedriver. But how can the employers form themselves into an organization for the purpose of putting their case before the Court? On the other hand, we know that it would be* a very easy matter for the engine-drivers to form themselves into an organization. Then the Bill seeks to effect a great change by abolishing the exemptions which at present obtain in regard to rural industries; that is, industries relating to agriculture.
– Their omission from existing legislation is a blot on the Act.
– The conditions surrounding these industries differ so widely from those surrounding other industries that they require exceptional treatment. The agricultural industries cannot very well be bracketed with other industries in which the conditions are stable.
– Does the honorable senator therefore hold that they should be lowwage industries?
– I shall deal with that aspect of the matter presently. It seems to me that this Bill makes a forward step towards litigation and the nationalization of industries. For some years past a consistent (endeavour has been made to crush private employers, and to bring about the nationalization of industries. This Bill, if carried in its present form, will largely accomplish that result. It seeks to take away the control of employers, and by a side wind to Bring into operation the very powers which the Government sought to obtain at the recent referendum, when their proposals were so contemptuously rejected by the people.
– Does not the honorable senator think he should prove that statement ?
– The proof is apparent. I doubt very much whether the party opposite is solid on this question. There must be amongst them members who clearly foresee the result of such legislation. In another place, Mr. J. H. Catts made a very pertinent interjection whilst the Attorney-General was moving the second reading of the Bill- - an interjection which was cleverly evaded. Mr. Catts asked -
Should not the value of the product of an industry determine what the labourer employed therein shall get?
The reply of the Attorney-General was - :
I am not going to answer here any abstract economic theories. I do not believe myself that the cost of production has anything to do with value at all. Value is not determined by what it costs to produce an article, but by what the article will fetch.
That is true in some instances, but it isnot true in many others. The value of an article is regulated by the cost of its production. In .this connexion I am reminded of the story of two Highland drovers, one of whom had been selling a cow. His friend being a little annoyed at the big price which the animal had realized, exclaimed, “ Why, if you had taken the cow to Kilmarnock, you would have got £i$ for her instead of £10.” Thereupon his companion replied, “ Do you see that lake yonder? Well, if I had that in the infernal regions I could get 6d. a drop for it.” It is not correct to say that the value of an article is what it will fetch. I do not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council was justified in saying that the High Court had strained the Constitution for the purpose of limiting the powers of this Parliament. That statement was a reflection on the Court which should not have been uttered, especially by a Minister in this Chamber. The Justices of the High Court do not make our laws; they merely interpret them. The Leader of the Senate stated that the Court had taken advantage of technicalities to defeat the humane and just provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is not customary for Ministers to reflect on the High Court.
– I think I read that statement in the Age.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator does not improve more under the tuition of that journal. To-day industrial remedies centre round two tribunals - Wages Boards and Conciliation Courts. In moving the second reading of this Bill, the Minister of Defence claimed that these tribunals were practically identical, inasmuch as the decision in each case was that of one man. That is not so. In the case of Wages Boards, the merits of disputes are discussed by their members with” a full knowledge of the industry; whereas in the case of Arbitration Courts, they are discussed without that knowledge. In tEe one instance, the parties meet as friends across the table, whilst in the other they meet as enemies in Court. According to the dictionary definition of the word, “ conciliation” is “ the art of winning or gaining as esteem, favour or affection “ ; whilst “arbitration” is “the hearing and determination of a cause between parties- in controversy by a person or persons chosen by the parties”; and “reconciliation “ is “the art of reconciling parties at variance ; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.” These definitions emphasize the difference which exists between Conciliation and Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards. If the latter are tested by their results - by the industrial peace which has followed their operation - they are infinitely preferable to Conciliation and Arbitration Courts. Under the awards of the latter, one demand has simply led to another. We have only to look at the various States to-day to admit that these Courts have failed to bring about industrial peace. We have more bitterness and confusion now than we ever had before. In Victoria, Wages Boards have gone on in the even tenor of their way, working smoothly, and with a minimum of friction, and have put into the pockets of the workers of the State increased wages to the amount of not less than £4,500,000. The desire of all parties to go to arbitration is, of course, largely due to the personality of the gentleman who is President of the Arbitration Court. I believe that Mr. Justice Higgins is a thoroughly fair-minded and honorable man, and will bring about just decisions. I think that he looks at both sides of a question, and gives, according to his conscience, very fair decisions. At the same time, he is neither infallible, nor yet immortal. It will be quite impossible for half-a-dozen Judges such as Mr. Justice Higgins to overtake the work, if the proposed amendments of the Act are carried. This is a revolutionary measure, and the alterations of the Act which are proposed will be so great that no one man will be able to undertake, or even to get over, the fringe of the work. How can we have uniform wages in these industries? Is the man who drives a hundred horse power engine to receive the same rate of pay as a man who drives an engine for a dairy, or a sausage machine? How is the Judge to regulate the business ? How is he going to deal with the changes of climate and conditions which mark this enormous continent ?
– How has he done it?
– He has not done it. We may have one hundred industries, and one occupation running right through them. Which wage is to rule - the one for the man who is at the very top of the tree in the industry, or the one for the man at the bottom? In any case, injustice will be done to some persons. This measure gives enormous power to one man, who is not bound by the ordinary laws of evidence, nor yet by the usual rules of court. It will be necessary to appoint a large number of Judges to overtake the work if the proposed amendments are carried. Who are they to be ? Are they to be mere neophytes or trained lawyers? What is going to be considered - their politics, or their fitness for the Judicial office ? Then the Judge in the Arbitration Court is a law to himself. Section 25 of the Act reads -
In the hearing and determination of every industrial dispute, and in any proceeding under this Act, the Court or the President shall act according to equity, good conscience, and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms, and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform its or his mind on any matter in such manner as it or he thinks just.
Section 31 of the Act provides - (1.) No award of the Court shall be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called in question in any other Court on any account whatever. (2.) The President may, if he thinks fit, in any proceeding before the Court, at any stage and upon such terms as he thinks fit, state a case in writing for the opinion of the High Court upon any question arising in the proceeding which in his opinion is a question of law. (3.) The High Court shall hear and determine the question, and remit the case wilh its opinion to the President, and may make such order as to costs as it thinks fit.
The judgment of the man has to stand, but one Judge will not be able to overtake the work, and it will be necessary to appoint other Judges. A new Judge may look upon the same question in a different light from Mr. Justice Higgins, and give a different decision. How is it proposed to reconcile the conflicting decisions, since an appeal is not to be allowed ? We may have from one to four Judges each dealing with the same question, and giving different decisions. How is it proposed to reconcile the decisions, and which decision is to stand ? It seems to me that the position is very extraordinary. How is it proposed to rectify diverse judgments? We shall get into a perfect maze ; persons will not know where they are, and their last state will be worse than their first. I believe that if the Bill is carried, it will enormously multiply cases and judgments, and bring about a legal maze. Instead of shortening litigation and simplifying things, it will multiply the troubles in every way, and the result will be disappointment and distress to men who seek relief. In prosperous times, almost any measure will work. In fair weather, it is easy to sail a craft. It is when storms and troubles arise that good seamanship is required. It is when troubles and bad times come that good statesmanship, as well as good feeling, is required. I do not know how we are going to get out of this extraordinary maze. It should be the duty of the Government to try to devise some way. Whether it is going to be done, as was suggested elsewhere, by establishing subordinate Courts, with practically legislative power, I do not know. The essence of judgment, in any case, is that both sides shall .be clearly put. That, however, will not be done if the Bill is carried, simply because it will be impossible for the employer to have an organization. It will multiply industrial disputes instead of localizing them ; they will simply spread more widely with disastrous results. The proposed amendments will involve an entire recasting of the Act, because it is constructed on an entirely different basis. The Act was started on the basis of two parties appearing before the Court, and each being in a position to put its case. But it is practically proposed now to put new wine into old bottles, and we shall find that the bottles will burst. I take very strong exception to the inclusion of the rural industries in the Bill. They were deliberately left out of the principal Act by the Parliament, because it was thought that their conditions were such that they could not, like other industries, be brought under any hard and fast rule. It may appear unfair that the rural industries should be treated differently from other industries, but the conditions are entirely different. In trading, in manufacturing, and distributing the employers can control the output and regulate the prices. They can control the conditions under which work and distribution are carried on, but’ that cannot be done in the case of rural industries, because the latter are controlled by nature and not by man. They are the sport of the seasons. At one time we have a fine season, and at another time a bad season. Drought, frost and winds control the productions of industries, and the prices are regulated, not by the will of the person engaged in the industry, but by production elsewhere and the world’s prices for products. Therefore, I claim that the rural industries should not be put on the same footing, or be subject to the same control as other industries. Whatever the increase in the cost of production and distribution may be, it can be passed on to somebody else; but those who are engaged in the primary industries cannot increase the prices of their products. Their prices are controlled in entirely different ways from prices in ordinary business. I do not suggest that there should not be a regulation of the rural industries. I am not going to say that the rural workers have been paid fairly in the past, because I do not think they have. But there ought to be some other method adopted. Some body should be appointed by the two parties to judge the conditions of labour and of production, and come to a settlement. The farmer as a rule does not desire to be put under the control of a Judge. He is a free man. He works among the elements, and does not wish to be hauled up to a Court to decide how much he shall pay his men, or how he shall carry on his industry. There should be means by which the parties could meet together and settle a matter in dispute on fair terms. They cannot pass the extra charges on; and, that being so, they should not be regulated in this way.
– The honorable senator must recognise that the. rural industries are not included in the Bill before the Senate. The inclusion which he is arguing about was in the Act of last year.
– Perhaps, sir, I have not made, myself quite clear to you. Of course, it is understood that the exemption of the rural industries has been struck out of the principal Act. I told Senator Pearce last week that I would not take up much time to-day ; but I feel so strongly on the question of the bringing of these industries under the Act, that I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ any measure which aims at bringing the primary industries of the country, viz., agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, dairying, under the absolute control of- an Arbitration Court is inequitable and will be inoperative, inasmuch as the conditions of such industries are variable as regards localities, seasons, and climates, and the prices of the products of such industries cannot be locally fixed, but are governed by the markets of the world, as influenced bv the world, and where such products are grown.”
I submit the amendment, which I trust is in order. I hope that in Committee we shall get perhaps a little more enlightenment than we have had.
- Senator _ McColl has submitted an amendment which I do not think .can be taken as an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill. The matter which he contends should not be dealt with in the Bill is not dealt with in the Bill, but in the Act which was passed in 19 10. Therefore, I think that his proposal is out of order, as far as this Bill is concerned.
– It seems to me, sir, that my amendment is quite in order. The Act of 1904 exempts from its operation - persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits.
That exemption is left out of this Bill. The object of my amendment is to have the same exemption in this Bill as in the Act of 1904.
– T pointed out to the honorable senator that the matter which he objects to, while not contained in the Act of 1904, was contained in the amending Act of last year, and is not dealt with in this Bill. That was the reason why I ruled that the amendment was out of order.
– With all due respect to you, sir, may I ask whether the references lo the principal Act do not mean to the Act 1904-10? Unless I misunderstand the meaning altogether-
-Order! The honorable senator must object to my ruling before this matter can be debated.
– If I cannot explain myself, I am sorry.
– I do not know that it would be of any use to object to your ruling, Mr. President, though I consider that my amendment is in order, because it seeks to provide against certain industries being included under this Bill. However, I shall move an amendment in Committee.
– With all due respect to you, Mr. President, I feel compelled to move that your ruling be disagreed with. I will put my objection in writing.
– I have received notice from Senator Chataway to the following effect -
That the ruling of the President, that Senator McColl’s amendment on the second reading of the Bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Acts 1904-10, is out of order, be disagreed with, on the ground that the amendment is pertinent to the principal Act.
The reason why I ruled Senator McColl’s amendment out of order was not because it was not relevant to the principal Act, but because it was not relevant to the Bill be fore the Senate. Therefore the terms of Senator Chataway’s objection must be altered.
– I have altered my statement of dissent, and I move -
That the ruling of the President, that Senator McColl’s amendment on the second reading of the Bill to amend the Commonwealth Concilialion and Arbitration Act 1904-10 is out of order, be disagreed with, on the ground that the amendment is pertinent to the Bill to anient the principal Act.
The Bill before the Senate is .defined as a measure “ to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-10.” The Act of 1910, which” is now the principal Act, includes certain definitions. It also extends the operation of the Act to rural industries. I am not for the moment discussing whether rural industries should or should not be included; but I point out that this Bill clearly is a measure to amend the whole of the Commonwealth law relating to the question of conciliation and arbitration. Therefore I .hold that an honorable senator has a perfect right to propose an amendment relating to that past legislation. For that reason, with all due respect to you, Mr. President, but to uphold the right of honorable senators, I submit this motion of dissent from your ruling.:
– In seconding Senator Chataway’s motion, I desire to point out that this Bill proposes to alter the definition of “ Industry “ in the principal Act. It is intended to make the word “ Industry “ include - any business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, or calling of employers on land or water ; any calling, service, employment, handicraft, or industrial occupation or avocation of employes on land or water ; and a branch of an industry and a group of industries.
That embraces the whole range of employment and industry of every kind and character, including the industries to which my amendment specifically refers. That being so, I hold that my amendment is absolutely pertinent to the Bill, because I dp riot wish the industries enumerated in it to be included.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the question requires immediate determination.
– I am very sorry that honorable senators opposite should raise side issues upon this Bill. I have no doubt that Senator McColl has moved his amendment honestly, and with the intention of carrying out what he has stated.
But I point out that the standing order referring to the second reading of Bills lays it down that only certain amendments can be moved at this stage. One is -“ That this Bill be read a second time this day six months.” Another is “ That the President do now leave the chair,” which practically means the previous question. An amendment relative to the subject-matter of the Bill may also be moved.
– The words “relative to the subject-matter “ do not appear in the standing order.
– The standing order means that an amendment must be relative to the subject-matter of a Bill. How could we get on with business unless there were rules for our guidance? I point out, moreover, that when the Bill gets into Committee the whole of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-10 will be under review. The honorable senator can then carry out his intention by moving an amendment on any clause. The best advice that can be given to Senator McColl at present is that he should withdraw his amendment, and endeavour to secure his object in Committee.
– I respectfully submit, as a reason why the Senate should dissent from the President’s ruling, that Senator McColl’s amendment is distinctly relevant to the Bill. I refer you, sir, to standing order No. 190, which reads -
No other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
The standing order refers to amendments moved upon the motion for the second reading of a Bill. If I may do so without transgressing, I should like to call attention to the fact that an amendment was moved on the motion for the second reading of this Bill in another place without the slightest exception being taken to it on the part of the Government.
– Order ! Whatever may have been done under the Standing Orders of another place may, or may not, apply here.
– It seems to me that, under standing order No. 190, the only exception you can take to an amendment submitted upon the motion for the second reading of a Bill is that it is not strictly relevant to the measure. This is a matter which affects the privileges of honorable senators on both sides, and your ruling must have very important results if it is supported. Let me ask honorable senators to consider exactly what is proposed by the Bill and by Senator McColl’s proposed amendment. The Bill is intended to amend a section or sections of the existing Act, and, amongst other things, to alter the definition of “ Industry,” and “ Industrial disputes.” It will be admitted that an alteration of the definition of “ Industry “ may involve a complete alteration in the administration of the law. It may be a very difficult question for the Senate to decide as to how far we should go in this matter. Upon the second reading of the Bill I take it that we have full liberty to consider the effect of the definition of the term “ Industry “ as proposed in this amending Bill, and also as it appears in the existing Act. In this amending Bill we are asked to provide that the term “ Industry “ shall include -
Senator McColl’s proposed amendment, in effect, suggests that there is a calling that should not be included in the term “ Industry.” The honorable senator might, in fact, contend that, if by the Bill it had not been proposed to make the definition of the term “Industry “ so wide, he would have been prepared to vote for the second reading without protest. It is because, in his opinion, the definition proposed is far too wide that he asks the Senate to adopt an amendment upon the motion for the second reading. He contends that the proposed definition goes too far, and I fail to see how it can be disputed that an amendment proposing that it shall not include rural industries is strictly relevant to the Bill. The Bill does not go far enough, or it goes too far; and Senator McColl points out where, in his opinion, it goes too far. As proposed in this Bill, the term “ Industry “ embraces the whole range of industry in the Commonwealth. It includes -
Rural industries are surely industries conducted on land; and Senator McColl’s proposed amendment merely suggests that, in this matter, the Government propose to go too far. The range of the amendments of the existing Act proposed by the Bill must be an essential factorin the decision we shall give upon the motion for the second reading, and, in all the circumstances, I consider that Senator McColl’s proposed amendment is strictly relevant. For the sake of a wide discussion on broad principles, I hope that, without any reflection on you, sir, honorable senators will guard the privileges of the Senate, and regard Senator McColl’s proposed amendment as strictly relevant to the measure, and competent to be moved on the motion for the second reading.
– I hope, sir, that I misunderstood your ruling when I took it to be that the amendment moved by Senator McColl is not in order because it is not relevant to the Bill. I should like to say, first of all, that the previous history of this amendment, or any amendment of a similar character, does not in any way touch the point. It would not vitiate this amendment if a similar amendment had been moved in half-a-dozen previous Parliaments or sessions in connexion with a measure of this kind. With regard to the relevancy of the amendment, if your ruling were good merely on that ground, I suppose it would be a fair thing lor any member of the Senate to assume that it should be ruled out of order when the Bill gets into Committee. If )’Ou rule the amendment out of order now on the ground of irrelevancy, we may assume that the same considerations would apply in Committee, and it would be ruled out of order there for the same reason. I can hardly imagine any amendment which could be more relevant to the Bill now under discussion. It deals directly with paragraph b of clause 3 of the Bill, which involves a serious amendment of the existing Act. It includes in its terminology various occupations now being carried on, and for which this measure is intended to legislate. Senator McColl’s amendment deals with one of these occupations, and the honorable senator specially mentions it. I cannot conceive of anything which could be more relevant. If you had ruled the amendment out of order because this is not the time or place to move it ; that, for instance, this was an amendment which could not be moved on the motion for the second reading of a Bill, without expressing my view on that point, I could have understood the ruling. But on the ground of relevancy, it is very difficult for me, looking at the matter as fairly as I possibly can, to assent to the statement that Senator McColl’s amend ment is not relevant to the Bill, and in particular to paragraph b of clause 3. I have only to express my surprise that you have ruled against the amendment on the ground of irrelevancy. I have to assume, from your silence, sir, which I cannot, of course, ask you to break, that your ruling is on that ground, and no other - that in its meaning and intention the amendment proposed by Senator McColl is irrelevant to the Bill.
– I think that everything depends upon our interpretation of the words “ strictly relevant.” I admit that there is room for a great difference of opinion as to the precise meaning of those words. As I understand the standing order, I take it that, to be strictly relevant, any amendment, with the exception of those referred to in standing orders 188 and 189, intended to shelve a Bill altogether, which may be moved at the second-reading stage, should be explicit, and point out the words in the Bill to which it is applicable. Senator McColl’s amendment does not do that. It does not therefore come within my interpretation of the words “strictly relevant,” and for that reason I think that the ruling is correct.
– There seems to be some misapprehension on the part of some honorable senators. Senators Chataway and St. Ledger appear to be under the impression that when an amending Bill is under consideration, everything contained in the principal Act which it is proposed to amend is under consideration also. That is not so. It is only the principles of the existing Act which are dealt with in the amending Bill that are under consideration on the second reading. Some time ago this misapprehension led to a considerable amount of discussion, and we had to adopt a system which would enable amendments to be moved in Committee by an instruction being given from the Senate to the Committee to consider matters that were relevant to the Act proposed to be amended, though not relevant to the Bill under consideration at the time. The standing order then introduced reads -
An instruction can be given to the Committee on a Bill to amend an existing Act to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend.
That is the reason why I ruled that the amendment of Senator McColl is not relevant to the subject-matter of this Bill. The honorable senator dealt at some length with the question contained in his amendment in the form in which he attempted to submit it. I rose and pointed out that the principle which he was then criticising was not embodied in this Bill, but was embodied in the Act which was passed last session by the Parliament. I did not explain to him at the time that he could get his amendment before the Committee by moving for an instruction, assuming, of course, that he was supported by a majority. Still, I thought he would have understood that the latitude which has been allowed during this debate was permitted merely for the purpose of affording honorable senators an opportunity to express an opinion upon all aspects of the Bill under consideration. I ruled then - and I see no reason to depart from my ruling now - that the subject-matter of the amendment submitted by Senator McColl, whilst relevant to the Acts which this Bill seeks to amend, is not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill itself.
Question - That the ruling of the President be disagreed with - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I would like honorable senators to approach the consideration of this Bill with a full recognition of the fact that there are two sides to it. I do not wish to pose as an advocate either of one side or the other. The measure seeks to amend the Acts of 1904 and 1910. I confess that, some time ago, I was a great believer in the principle of conciliation and arbitration, but experience has convinced me that very little pro gress has resulted from legislation of this character. The Bill aims at the abolition of all the industrial exemptions which are sanctioned by existing legislation. Should it become law, I fancy that it will result in the multiplication of industrial disputes, so that it will be impossible for the present Justices of the High Court to cope with them unless their numbers be largely increased. We all know that since this Parliament has been in session two or three industrial disputes have been the subject of arbitration proceedings, which have lasted for some months. For instance, there was the shearers’ dispute, and there is now the dispute which affects members who are engaged in the shipping industry. Under this Bill it is proposed to abolish all exemptions, because clause 3 defines “ Industry “ as including -
It will be thus seen that it aims at embrac ing every occupation on God’s earth.
– I think we should have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I was remarking that the Bill seeks to include every occupation or calling upon earth.
– Have not the Government a right to do that?
– I do not think so. I do not believe that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court should be called upon to deal with a number of these industries. When the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was first submitted, I was of opinion that it might result in a little more of the spirit of give and take being evidenced as between employers and employes. But it seems to me that in every strike which occurs, the fight is one to determine who shall get the better of the deal, irrespective of the merits of the case. I do not think that such a spirit will assist in making legislation of this character successful in its operation. It reminds me of the case of two men who, if left alone, would, when they had a slight difference of opinion, argue it out, and then shake hands; but who, when they are urged on by three or four others, come at length to blows, and possibly become bitter enemies. That is not the spirit which should underlie industrial arbitration. I do not think that any Bill can be successfully applied to all the industries of the
Commonwealth, because the climatic conditions which obtain in a country of such magnificent distances as Australia vary so considerably. I pin my faith more to Wages Boards than to Conciliation and Arbitration Courts, because their members can meet in the district in which the industry affected is carried on, whereas it would be a very expensive matter to drag litigants from every part of Australia before a Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Further, the time which the latter tribunal occupies in dealing with any dispute appears to a layman to be extraordinarily long. Lawyers urge both sides of the question with great bitterness. That is not the intention of arbitrationlegislation. The object of arbitration is to get reasonable men to meet and to agree to a fair settlement. I do not say for a moment that men are not entitled to a fair proportion of the profits from the industry in which they are employed. In good times, when men see large profits being made, naturally they want to get a larger wage. That is quite right, but a reverse will come, and that is where I think the whole system will break down unless the leaders of the men are prepared to consider every point of view. If the same profits are not earned and the same wages are paid, the industry will be carried on at a loss. The employers will appeal to the Arbitration Court, and on the facts submitted the Court will order a reduction of wages. How will that take with the men?Do honorable senators mean, to tell me that some thousands of men will go into the nice intricacies of business? I have often noticed in the press after a strike has been settled that, instead of saying, “ We are sorry that the strike took place; there has been no gain, but a loss to each side,” the men have claimed that they have secured something or other, no matter what the cost may have been. The strike which has just ended is supposed to have cost about £50,000. The men lost in wages alone £30,000, but the secretary to the union claims that they have gained. What have they gained? I ask honorable senators to look at the matter in a fair and reasonable light. If it were a justifiable strike, and no reasonable terms could be given-
– Order. The honorable senator is not discussing the Bill, but a strike, which, I understand, has not been dealt with under any law.
– I take it, sir, that the object of the Bill is to do away with strikes. What is the use of me standing up here if I am not to be allowed to discuss the subject with which it deals?’ I am speaking about conciliation and arbitration, and yet, sir, you tell me that I cannot do so. The purpose of the Bill is to bring men together before a Court, and so do away with strikes. I am advocating that strikes should be done away with, and I want to show that the Bill will not accomplish that object, but will bring more persons under the jurisdiction of the Court. It is proposed in this measure to revert to craft unionism, which, as we all knoAV, was tried hundreds of years ago. The Old Country had its grocers’ craft, its drapers’ craft, its ironmongers’ craft, and its wheelwrights’ craft. Every craft was organized, and a man could not get into a craft unless he paid a certain sum. It is proposed in this measure to establish in Australia organizations by craft instead of by industry. I want to know how the Government propose to bring the various crafts under its provisions. I should like the Minister to explain how it is intended to deal with, for instance, engine-drivers. I believe that the engine-drivers in each district should be placed under a Wages Board. That plan would, I think, give more satisfaction to the men than could the Arbitration Court. Take a mine which works three shifts of eight hours each. An engine-driver goes on the stool when his shift comes on. He is not asked to prepare, but he starts to work immediately he arrives, and does eight hours work. Where only one engine-driver is employed at a mine he has to come on at least an hour before the starting time to get up steam, and very often he has some little thing to do after the men have left the mine. How is it intended to regulate the wages of the engine-drivers whose cases I have cited? How is it possible to say that one engine-driver should come on at 8 o’clock, and another at 7 o’clock, unless there is some scheme provided for that purpose ? How is a mine which works with one shift to be carried on ? If the engine-driver does not start until 8 o’clock, very likely the miners cannot start work until 9 o’clock. It is impossible for the enginedrivers in the mining industry to work under a common rule. The only satisfactory scheme is to establish a Wages Board for each district. Suppose, for instance, that a Wages Board were appointed in Queensland ? Do honorable senators on the other side expect that an engine-driver in North Queensland would work for the same amount as an engine-driver in the south of Queensland? That is not likely to happen.
– We do not propose that.
– How is it proposed to deal with the question of hours of employment in a mine where one, or two, or three shifts are worked? It is impossible to deal with the question with any degree of fairness. Again, how is it intended to deal with a butcher’s shop which may employ an engine-driver for an hour or two to drive the engine for refrigerating purposes, and to work about the shop during the remainder of the day? Again, take the case of a sawmill which, is carried on by persons co-operatively. A man has to drive the engine. This is very light work, because once the fire is got up it is only necessary to put in a bit of wood every half hour or so. The engine-driver is working at the bench during most of his time. How is it proposed to deal with a case of that kind in the Arbitration Court? A district Wages Board, if created, would know the requirements of the district. I feel sure that if three enginedrivers and three employers of enginedrivers were to meet they would discuss the matter in dispute across a table, and, like reasonable men, come to a proper understanding. Instead of adopting that plan it is proposed to force every dispute into a Court, where lawyers are introduced, and take all the technical points which they can. Let us look at some of the cases which have come before the Arbitration Court. It is not in the same position as a Wages Board, and a decision is given before the men have had an opportunity of consulting. As soon as the decision of the Court is given, one side or the other is dissatisfied. They did not consult each other; the lawyers conferred before the Court, only calling such witnesses as they thought necessary to make the best of their case. In the Court there is no give and take. No matter what Judge may be appointed, he cannot possess the necessary ability and knowledge to deal with all cases. !He would be another Solomon if he could. No one man can arbitrate for all industries. The world has not yet produced such a man. No matter who may preside over the Arbitration Court, we shall not get a verdict which will be satisfactory to both parties to a dispute, and instead of securing peace and contentment, the discontent in the community willbe increased. I was speaking about enginedrivers a little while ago. In one mine a. man may be driving a first motion engine, and may have to deal with 300, 400, or 500 men. He lowers the men into the mine, pulls the material from the mine, and brings the men to the surface. He ischarged with great responsibility. Do my honorable friends on the other side propose to put the man who controls life and everything else on a footing - perhaps they intend to classify the engine-drivers - with a man who is driving a little donkey-engine, and who is not intrusted with the safety of any person’s life ? If he makes a mistake no life is lost. The only person whom hecan injure, perhaps, is himself. Do my honorable friends propose to put the two men on an equal footing? I do not see how it is to be done. I ask the Minister if he sees any satisfactory way of dealing, with the vast number of mines which work only one shift. The engine-driver has tocome to the mine in the morning to clean and oil his engine and get up steam to lower the miners at & o’clock. If the mine was working three shifts, he would not have to do that, because the engine-drivers would work eight hours each. Unfortunately, a large number of the mines which require an extra hour of the engine-driver are not paying. The wages are paid out of the money raised by calls, and there is very little coming out of the mine itself. A man who has to go a little earlier than theminers, and whose employment very likely is not continuous, has not the same responsibility as an engine-driver who sits behind a larger engine with the lives of many miners at his mercy. Do honorable senatorsopposite say that the former should be paid more money because he goes to the mine anhour earlier than do the miners, and, perhaps, remains a quarter of an hour after they have left?
– Order ! The honorable senator is discussing the details of the Bill. It is not a question of what the wages shall be. Parliament is not going tofix the wages or the hours. The questionbefore the Chair is the establishment of a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and’ the honorable senator should address hisremarks to that principle.
– I am not suggesting, sir, how much money should be paid, but pointing out the impossibility of the measure covering the cases I am putting. I am showing how impossible it is for any Judge to deal with the various cases on any fair and equitable ground, but surely I should be allowed a certain latitude in making out my case.
– Order ! The honorable senator has been allowed every latitude. He has been dealing with the question of the engine-drivers employed at mines, which is a detail, and not a principle, of the Bill, since he started his speech. That is why I asked him to confine himself to the principle of a Bill.
– I take it, sir, that the principle of the Bill is the dealing with any business, trade, manufacture, or undertaking. I am dealing with an undertaking which comes under the Bill, and desire to show that the Bill will not meet the case ; but if you, sir, rule that I am not, I shall, of course, have to submit to your ruling. I do not wish to go beyond the bounds of the Bill, but to show that it will not cover an undertaking with which it deals, and, therefore, I hope that I shall be allowed a reasonable amount of latitude in stating my views. I want to show that under the principal Act, as well as under this Bill, a dispute will be protracted too long altogether. The engineers of Australia are banded together in one union. Suppose that a dispute starts in the north of Queensland, that another dispute starts in the south of that State, and that a third dispute starts in Western Australia. How is the Arbitration Court going to deal with these cases? We have here a Bill which covers everything under the heavens, but we are not told in what manner the Court is to carry out its provisions. Perhaps it is going to be done by regulation. But I think we ought to be informed by Ministers how they intend to deal with this matter. Up to the present we have had nothing from them to show that. Before the Bill passes through the Senate they should give us some idea as to how the measure is going to operate. It is useless to lay a measure of this kind upon the table and say to the representatives of the people, “ You must not make any inquiries ; you cannot go outside the bounds of the Bill.”
– It has been thoroughly explained.
– It has not been explained yet in the Senate, though it may have been explained somewhere else. The
Government have not shown us, for instance, how they are going to bring all the enginedrivers of Australia into one union.
– They are in one union now.
– They are not. Some engine-drivers may be in the union, but certainly all are not. This is not a straightforward measure. It has been introduced to try to secure by Act of Parliament something which the people refused to give the Federal Government the right to do. Ministers are trying to accomplish by it what the people on the 26th April last declined to sanction. They are trying to usurp powers to which they have no right. I admit that the party opposite is strong enough to accomplish its object. It has the numbers.
– How can Parliament do what the electors refused to allow us to do?
– Well, I do not believe that this Bill is constitutional, but, nevertheless, the Government are trying to get behind the decision of the electors. A few more Bills of this description, and a few more cases such as have occurred outside, will be a lasting warning to the people of Australia. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was absent last week trying to accomplish a certain result in South Australia, but he has come back very much disappointed. That was one warning. But even if it were laid down by the best legal talent of the day that this measure was unconstitutional, the Government and their party have decided upon it, and are determined to push it through. But the day is coming - and it will not be long - when the people will express their opinion decisively upon legislation of this description. I cannot support the Bill as it stands, and shall in Committee endeavour to secure the amendment of certain clauses.
– It is rather a sorry spectacle to notice that there are so many ardent supporters of the principle of industrial arbitration in this chamber, who, nevertheless, are very anxious that a Bill shall not be adopted to make the arbitration law more perfect than it is to-day. We have had declarations from honorable senators opposite concerning their desire that conciliation and arbitration shall be part of the law of the land. They tell us that they want to see the condition of the workers improved, and industrial disputes brought to a conclusion. But when an effort is made to improve the law which has already brought the process of arbitration to its present satisfactory stage, the whole Opposition is ranged against the proposal, and the Tory and reactionary section is up in arms.
– I think we might as well have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable senator seems very anxious to have a large attendance to listen to words of wisdom. I presume that he wished to direct special attention to his own party, who are represented by only two senators, as compared with nine on this side of the chamber. During the course of the debate in this chamber and elsewhere, a great deal of doubt and suspicion have been thrown on the way in which industrial arbitration is working out in Australia. It is as well, therefore, that we should turn to the official records, and inquire what really has happened since Parliament adopted arbitration as a means of settling industrial disputes. I have gone to the trouble to make inquiries as to what has occurred, even under the imperfect scheme that is at present the law of the land. I find that, since the first Arbitration Act was passed by the Federal Parliament in 1904, although repeated attempts have been made to nullify the decisions of the Court, it has, nevertheless, been the means of producing a vast amount of satisfaction in industrial circles. Thirteen awards have been given, and not one of them has been questioned by the workers. That fac! gives proof of the inaccuracy of what haw been alleged by our friends on the left, Moreover, the Federal Court, in addition to its direct- power of hearing and determining disputes, has the subsidiary power of indorsing and ratifying agreements that may be arrived at by opposing parties in the industrial field. I find that no fewer than 112 agreements have been made between employes and employers at different times since the passing of the Federal Act in 1904. Those agreements have the force of law, and have been the direct means of producing peace, tranquility and harmony in the industrial arena. Consequently, no fewer than 125 settlements have been effected by the Federal Court, affecting over 100, 00c employes throughout the Commonwealth. What, therefore, becomes of the attempt by honorable senators opposite to prove that this law is futile Is it not clear that they have manifested an utter ignorance on the subject? Moreover, there has only been one case of failure to abide loyally by decisions of the Federal Arbitration Court. That one case occurred in Sydney lately, where, unfortunately, a small section of the men - a section only - proved insubordinate, and by so doing have brought down on their heads unqualified condemnation from men in their own ranks throughout Australia.
– That did not prevent them from striking.
– This instance merely proves the rule that the Federal Arbitration Court has certainly produced a most satisfactory set of results. As to the amendments of the law proposed by this Bill, I may point out that no particularly fresh ground is to be broken. Nevertheless, we have heard declamation from honorable senators on the left to the effect that something extraordinarily new was about to be initiated. It has been alleged today by Senator Sayers that we are attempting to do by Act of Parliament what the people at the recent referenda refused to sanction. If the honorable senator had reflected a little, he would have Shown that it is idle to try by an Act of this Parliament to upset the Constitution. We tried to amend the Constitution by the referenda, and it is futile to say that this Parliament could do what the electors at the referenda declined to permit us to do. Our endeavour on the present occasion is to make the arbitration law more perfect .ind workable. We wish to bring it into such a shape as to produce more of the results which have already been so bene.cial to Australia. The Act under which we have been working for a considerable time, was based mainly upon the experience of two States of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand. Since the Federal law has been in operation, many attempts have been made either to upset decisions or to make it impossible for employes to approach the Court. The result has been that the President of the Court himself has been obliged to admit that the approaches to the tribunal over which he presides resemble a veritable Sirbonian bog. If we desire to benefit the employes in Australian industries, we should make our present imperfect law at least as good as a similar measure on the statute-book ‘of New South Wales to-day. In the New South Wales Act the word “ Industry “ is very clearly defined. It is given a very wide meaning, and under it employes may be grouped on the basis of the industry in which they are engaged, . or on the oldtime craft basis that has been in existence ever since trade unionism assumed any particular shape in the industrial sphere in either the Old Land or Australia. We may go back even to the Middle Ages and find that craft unionism has been recognised all along the line, In the happier times of the Middle Ages employers and employes made common cause. They took it upon themselves to legislate with respect not only to the conditions applying to their industry, but also to those controlling the output of the products of their crafts. In later years, it has been the practice in the Old Country, and here also, to have bodies of workmen organized upon the basis of the calling in which they are engaged. Miners have bet-n organized by reason of the fact that they are engaged as miners in the industry of mining, and seamen have been organized because they are engaged as seamen at sea. Engineers and enginedrivers may also be organized on the basis of their calling. If it were otherwise, we should have a very unsatisfactory condition of things in this country. If the judgment of the High Court is to stand, and no effort is to be made by this Parliament to alter it, we may have employes organized in future on an unsatisfactory basis, and under a system by which a minority of the employes in a given industry may not receive the same consideration and treatment as they would receive if they were organized on a craft basis. We may have an industry in Melbourne or elsewhere employing a very large number of men of varied craft and calling. There may be only two engine-drivers required to carry on that industry, and under the latest decision of the High Court, in the Engine-drivers’ case, the only chance for those two men to be enrolled would be as members of the great body of employes engaged in the same industry, and their interests might thus be very much neglected. It must be plain to one of ordinary understanding that there lies a danger, if the latest decision of the High Court is not altered, that a condition of things will arise which will lead to endless dissatisfaction amongst employers themselves. The object of this Bill is to give to the word “ Industry “ such a meaning as will enable the natural order of things to be continued in the future as was the case in the past. It is plain that the term “ Industry “ must have a controlling influence in the interpretation of such a measure, and its definition should be so wide that it might be applied in an industrial sense when the interests of employers and employes alike demand it. If we do not alter the meaning of the word “ Industry,” as proposed in this Bill, we shall be upsetting the whole fabric of the organization of employes. Senator Chataway must be aware that, as the law stands at present, at least 20,000 employes are vainly endeavouring to avail themselves of the opportunity to have their industrial disputes settled by the” Federal Arbitration Court. These persons are resolved to carry on their organization on the basis of craft unionism, and they will be denied the benefit of an appeal to the Federal Arbitration Court if Senator Chataway and the party to which he belongs are successful in resisting the passage of this Bill. If no other consideration weighs with honorable senators to induce them to support the measure, it should be sufficient to know that it will solve the problem of admitting 20,000 persons to the. friendly shelter of the Federal Arbitration Court. Arbitration has been established mainly for the purpose of protecting the interests of employes, but it serves a secondary purpose in protecting as well the interests of fair-minded employers. Wherever an employer is met in any part of Australia who is determined to do the fair thing by his employes, he invariably finds that his greatest enemy and worst competitor is the unscrupulous employer who treats his employes badly, and seeks to gain an advantage by the expense which he is able to save, as compared with the fair-minded employer who is willing to pay fair wages, to adopt reasonable hours of labour, and to observe decent conditions of employment. Arbitration therefore, protects the fairminded employer by making the unscrupulous employer come up to his standard in the treatment of his employes, and in observing conditions of employment which he would not otherwise observe. There is nothing new at all in the alteration of the existing Act proposed by this Bill. It is already provided for in the New South Wales Act. Our existing law has been found, by the repeated appeals to the High Court, to be most imperfect, and we are asking by this Bill that it shall be brought up to the standard of perfection of the State arbitration law of New South Wales. The first Arbitration Act of New South Wales was passed in 1901, and though the object was to preserve the industrial tribunal created, as much as possible, from interference by any other Court, it was found that decisions under the Act were frequently the subject of appeals to the High Court, in order that they might be upset. Eventually the State Parliament, with a desire to give effect to the will of the people - and, by the way, having at its head at the time, Mr. Wade, a man professing the same political beliefs as our honorable friends opposite - passed the amending Act of 1908, repealing the original Act, giving increased powers to the arbitration tribunal, and protecting it still further from interference by way of prohibition or mandamus by the High Court or any other superior Court. Notwithstanding this, attempts were once more made to cripple the powers of the State arbitration tribunal, and an appeal was made to the High Court in the bootmakers’ case. In that case the Supreme Court of New South Wales was appealed to, for the purpose of obtaining a prohibition of an order of the arbitration tribunal. That appeal failed, and the defeated employers then appealed to the High Court of Australia for an order to rescind the order of the lower Court. The High Court had all the facts placed before it, and after careful examination came to a unanimous decision that it was not warranted in issuing any writ of prohibition of the kind asked for. The matter was reported in the law reports at the time, and I need not labour the question further except to say that the decision of the High Court made the position very clear, and left the arbitration tribunal of New South Wales quite unfettered so far as its statutory powers are concerned. Mr. Justice O’Connor, in giving his judgment in the case, used words which show that the decision of the Court was really the adoption of a mean between two extremes. The appellants’ counsel made a reference to a previous case known as the Clancy case, in which it was decided that the Arbitration Court of New South Wales had a rather limited jurisdiction, but this was before the additional power conferred upon it by the amending Act of 1908. Mr. Justice O’Connor said -
It was urged by the appellants’ counsel that that decision substantially covered the present case. I cannot assent to that position. Section 52, as to the body of it, is no doubt merely a- repetition of section32 of the earlier Act, but the following words have been added : - “ and the validity of any such decision shall not be challenged by prohibition or otherwise.”
Those were the amending words used in the 1908 Act of New South Wales for the purpose of enlarging the powers of the State tribunal, and making it entirely unfettered so far as a writ of prohibition or mandamus is concerned. The addition of those words exactly corresponds to what we are attempting by this Bill to do in connexion with our arbitration law. That is to say that in future the validity of any decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court shall not be challengeable by prohibition or otherwise. These words were inserted in the New South Wales law in 1908, and, as a result of their operation, the High Court was compelled to refrain from issuing any prohibition on the ground of excess of statutory jurisdiction. That is all that is sought to be done under this Bill. But after listening to the incessant cries of its critics, one would imagine that something unparalleled was being attempted, whereas the essence of the measure is that the Government propose to endow the Commonwealth Arbitration Court with the same powers as are wielded by the Arbitration tribunal of that State to-day.
SenatorO’ Keefe. - We merely propose to remove a defect in the principal Act which neither political party detected when it was under consideration.
– Exactly. But almost by dint of its repetition one would think that something exceedingly strange was being proposed in this Bill. As a matter of fact, we merely wish, by means of the two proposals which constitute the vital portion of the measure, to do what has already been done in New South Wales.
– The Government of New South Wales have not brought domestic servants and farm labourers within the scope of the State Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– That is a detail with which I am not concerned. The vital portion of the Bill - the portion to which such frequent reference has been made - is the proposal to restrain the High Court from issuing a prohibition, and the proposal to enlarge the definition of the term “ Industry.” But in these amendments we are merely attempting to do what has already been done in New South Wales by a political party which was led by Mr. Wade, who has frequently been referred to by
Senators Walker and Chataway as a shining light in politics. Where is the ground for all this suspicion, for all the posturing which has been indulged in by opponents of the measure? Instead of coming out in their true colours, and opposing the principle of arbitration, they seek to shield themselves under very specious pleas. If they had the courage of their convictions, and boldly opposed arbitration, they know that an outraged populace would instantly demand their abolition from the political horizon. I recognise that this is an urgent measure. I merely rose to point out that, so far as the principle of arbitration is concerned, it has proved an unqualified success up to date. Not one enemy of that principle amongst the Opposition can point to a single defect in its operation, with the solitary exception of the wharf labourers’ strike in Sydney. That constitutes the only exception, and, therefore, proves the rule. We all deplore the recurrence of industrial troubles in every State. But it must be remembered that the much-lauded system of Wages Boards has been more responsible for strikes and industrial discord than has any system of arbitration of which we have any knowledge- The inherent defect of the Wages Board system is that employes are frequently called upon to act as arbiters in industrial disputes, and, as a result, afterwards become the victims of the smallmindedness or the vengeance of their employers. I say that men have been victimized again and again as a result of their appearance in the industrial or political arena. When employes act as arbiters in an industrial dispute, they run a serious risk of losing their employment if they do not conform as far as possible to the views of their employers. That being so, I say that we can turn to a more perfect system in the shape of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, which has been productive of the most beneficent results ever since its establishment. Over 100,000 employes have appealed to that tribunal, and have had their grievances adjusted in a way that has given tolerable satisfaction to all, and has not resulted in a single strike.
– Except the strike in Sydney, in which 5,000 men were involved.
– It is quite true that that deplorable example of insubordination amongst the Sydney wharf labourers is to be regretted. But there can be no more outstanding or prominent indication of the general beneficial results flowing from arbitration than is afforded by the fact that my honorable friends opposite can point to only one case in which about 5,000 men out of 100,000 have refused to be reconciled to the observance of an agreement into which they have entered. That such a large body of unionists in the industries concerned have stooped to the rule of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court after laying their grievances before it is a splendid tribute to the working of the Arbitration Act throughout Australia. The small section of the Sydney wharf labourers who declined to observe their agreement has had heaped upon them the condemnation of their fellow unionists in every shipping port in Australia.
– Quite undeservedly.
– I disagree with my colleague.
– I agree with the workers every time.
– When a voluntary agreement has been entered into by an organization, it should be observed. The breaking of such agreements must disastrously recoil upon the heads of those who decline to observe them. Of course, there are agreements and agreements. There are those which are entered into under duress, and which it is not incumbent upon the party which has been forced to consent to them to loyally abide by. But in the case of voluntary agreements, where the disputants have had every opportunity of voicing their views, there is no justification for their violation. As far as the general aspect of arbitration is concerned it should be remembered that we have merely attempted, during the short space of a score of years, to solve a problem, the solution of which has resisted attempts extending over the past century. We have had varying examples of how industrial troubles may be overcome. We have had strikes, and we have now turned from the use of that old-time weapon. To-day we have arbitration in a modified form. But I venture to say that the test to which the principle of arbitration has been subjected by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court proves that there is hope for those who believe in it. We are moving slowly it is true, but no belter record can be pointed to than that of the tribunal in question, which has satisfactorily dealt with the claims of 100,000 employes. The employers, too, have appealed to it, and in every instance the disputes have been satisfactorily adjusted, with the result that the industrial machine has been running smoothly. That would not have been the case if arbitration had not been the law of this country. I support the second reading of the Bill, because it merely attempts to put into operation what is already the law of the land in New South Wales, and because it will have the effect of removing a barrier which prevents 20,000 men from having recourse to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. If there were no other ground for the passing of the measure than the latter I say that it would constitute a sufficient warrant for placing this legislation on the statute-book.
– I should not have risen but for the reference of Senator Lynch to the so-called strike amongst the Sydney wharf labourers. I venture to say that there has been nothing in the nature of a strike amongst the members of that body. The position was that, under an agreement registered in the Arbitration Court, the men were expected to carry wheat for is. 6d. per hour on deep-sea vessels, and to do the same work on coastal vessels for is. 3d. per hour. These men, satisfied with their earnings on the deep-sea vessels, did not see fit to accept employment on coastal vessels at 3d. per hour less. With all respect to those who have condemned their action, I do not complain of men asking for better conditions. What do we think of the action of a Senate whose members had undertaken to discharge their parliamentary duties for £400 per annum, increasing their allowance to £600 per annum? When that was done there was no outcry in reference to a breach of an agreement, and the other branch of the Legislature assisted to do it. But in Sydney, no sooner is an award of the Arbitration Court given in favour of .the employes than rents and the cost of living are increased. Arbitration will never secure better conditions to the workers of the Commonwealth unless others are prevented from exploiting them in the direction which I have indicated. I think it ill becomes that section of the community which in the Parliaments of the States and of the Commonwealth, boldly declares that its members represent the workers, to complain of the action of the Sydney wharf labourers, and to attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill. There has been no breach of. agreement so far as they are concerned. I merely rose to say this because the mem bers of the Opposition are using the case which has been cited, as an illustration of the breakdown of the principle of arbitration. Where an arbitration award has been given the men have worked under the conditions imposed by the Court so long as those conditions suited them. I do not think we have any right to expect them to continue to work under conditions which do not suit them. If I were a wharf labourer in Sydney, and I could earn is. 6d. per hour upon deep-sea vessels, and only is. 3d. per hour on coastal vessels, I should probably be content with a few hours’ work per week on the former, and would fill in time with some other employment. Senator Walker has suggested that the Bill contains something entirely new, because it aims at bringing within the purview of the principal Act domestic servants and agricultural labourers. But arbitration is either a good thing or it is a bad thing. If it be a good thing, it is equally good for the agricultural labourer and the farmer.
– Is it?
– I do not object to it. The honorable senator’s party is quite at liberty to apply the Bill to agricultural industries, so far as I am concerned.
– How can they afford to pay 8s. a day ?
– There is nothing in the Bill to call upon the farmers to pay 8s. a day. That will come when the Judge is convinced that the work in the fields is worth that rate. Either arbitration is good or it is not. If it is good for the manufacturer, the ship-owner, or the mine-owner and his men, it will be equally good for the farmer and his employes. If the principle will work out satisfactorily for one class in the community it should be tried for another class. I suppose that the only reason why the farm labourers have been neglected has been because they have not been organized into a union, and have not been sufficiently strong to demand that interest shall be taken in their welfare.
– They are too scattered.
– Yes ; they have been too indifferent to their own requirements, and the result has been that, until quite recently, they have been the worst paid section of the working classes. That is not the fault of the farmers, who pay good wages, and are willing to give good conditions of employment. In farming and pastoral districts the men who cannot come under the different awards work, in many instances, under worse conditions than do the members of any other section. The daily newspapers write about the overgrowth of the cities, and of people flocking from the country districts to the cities. Is it wonderful that a. man who is working for £1, or even 15s., a week will not take the first opportunity to get near Sydney or Melbourne, where he can get £2 10s. a week for less work.
– Be fair. Do not leave the man’s keep out of the count.
– In the country districts, there are men working for 15s. and £1 per week, and their keep, the value of which, according to an award of the Arbitration Court, is about 13s. The newspapers profess to be surprised at men flocking in thousands to swell the population in great cities, where by organization and unionism, the conditions of the workers have been made much better. If arbitration is a good thing for the manufacturers and the ship-owners, it will be a good thing for the agriculturists. If it is fair to require the ship-owner, the mine-owner, and the manufacturer to submit to the award of the Arbitration Court, as to the wages which he shall pay to his employes, it is equally fair and just to impose that obligation upon the farmer. The only ground of objection that Senator Walker can have is that the farmers will be asked to pay more money.
– They cannot afford to do it.
– That is the very cry which every employer of labour raised when the first attempt was made to shorten the hours and improve the working conditions.
– The trouble is that the price of goods goes up too.
– I recognise that. We have to contend with great difficulties when we try to improve the conditions of the workers. The whole system of arbitration fails for one reason, and that is that there is no provision in each award that, when it is followed by an increase in rent, or an increase in the cost of goods, the unionists interested shall have an opportunity of having the award reviewed. That will have to be provided for very quickly, because it is the boast of the monopolistic section .represented by the Opposition that they are increasing the rent and the cost of living.
– Not the boast, but the regret.
– At the present general election in Victoria the argument which the opponents of Labour are using is, that despite all its organization and achievements the. position of the worker is no better to-day than it was, because, with the power which they still retain they have increased the cost of living. Arbitration, in order to be successful, will have to remedy that state of things. I do not believe that either this Parliament, or the next one, will accomplish that task, but it will have to be undertaken. I rose chiefly to ask why the hours of domestic servants should not be regulated. Of course, in the eyes of honorable senators opposite, that is quite impossible. Why ? Because they have argued on the old system of allowing employers ito treat domestic servants as they will. Some employers provide excellent accommodation, while others provide very poor accommodation. If we are going to have arbitration for one section of the community, let us have a fair trial of the principle for every section. I believe that this Bill is a step in that direction, and I shall not rest satisfied until I see it on the statute-book. I do not propose to delay its passage. I rose first to put in a protest against the attack on one section of the wharf labourers who are not on strike, but are doing the work of the deep-sea vessels, satisfied with their earnings, and refusing to carry wheat on other vessels for 3d. an hour less than they receive on the deep-sea vessels. Were I in their position I should do the same thing. I also wished to point out that arbitration should apply to the farm labourers as well as to any other section in the community.
– - Senator Gardiner was really quite refreshing. I think that he introduced a matter which may be discussed on the Bill. He certainly took up the attitude that the Waterside Workers Association were undeservedly condemned. They were unreservedly condemned, not only by what we might call the Conservative press and Conservative people, but they were openly and unreservedly condemned by the AttorneyGeneral, who is, I think, one of their head officers. One might approach this question of conciliation and arbitration, Wages Boards, and so forth, in the philosophic tone of Senator Millen’s speech’. He pointed out that all the methods which we might adopt in the effort to do away with the evil of strikes, and to bring about industrial peace will be nullified if the people concerned will not support the law.
– Do you not think that the cry of the evil of strikes is very much overdone?
– It may be overdone, but I notice that honorable senators opposite are not averse to using the cry on a platform, whenever it suits them. They are not averse then to talk about the wonderful manner in which the Labour party has done away with the great evil of strikes, and now they depict the wonderful results which will accrue if they succeed in altering the Act which was passed in 1904, and tinkered with in 1909 and 19 10. Let us take the case of the Waterside Workers agreement, which was deliberately signed and registered in the Arbitration Court of the Commonwealth. What happened ? There is no question that the men broke the Federal law. Senator Gardiner has said that they were quite right, but Senator Lynch thinks the other way. The Registrar was asked by the ship-owners whether they should take steps to prosecute the men, or whether they should not. What was the reply? Legal jargon was immediately dragged in as to whether the men were liable under the Act, whether the penalties to be sued for, were penalties for liquidated damages, or, penalties for striking. Have the Government cleared up that point 3’et? They have not, in connexion with this strike, proposed anything to remedy the weakness of the law as shown by the Registrar - namely, that the Court does not enforce an agreement which has been registered, but it is left for persons who feel aggrieved to do so. Under the present law, no prosecution can take place without the consent of the Registrar. The part of the Act to which I am referring has got into a complete tangle, and this Bill will not straighten it out or cut the Gordian. knot. I will admit, in justice to my honorable friends opposite, that the present Government are perfectly genuine in their desire to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of strikes. But they are not entirely bosses of the situation. We can pass laws, but unless our enactments are keenly administered they will not have any serious effect. One has to remember the preaching that is going on in the country, and the absolute intolerance shown at times by persons be longing to trade unions with which honorable senators opposite are connected. Let me bring to mind a report which appeared in the Age of the 22nd September of the present year -
Speaking on the settlement of the trouble at the Trades Hall Council last night, Mr. Loughnan (Bricklayers’ Labourers) said the action of the Minister of Home Affairs in giving preference to unionists had brought the matter to a finish, as the employers had “ not a leg to stand on.” He moved that the Council express its appreciation of Mr. O’Malley’s action. Mr. Cohen (Vice-president), in seconding the motion, referred to “ blacklegging,” and said he agreed with a remark by Senator Rae, that if free labourers were shot and put to death it was no more than they deserved. If men would steal bread and butter out of the mouths of wives and children, such men deserved to be shot. If men crawled to employers, it would be “up to them” to get what unionists liked to give them.
I admit that there was some dissent from that statement; but, nevertheless, there you have the fact that a responsible official of the Trades Hall advocated, not arbitration, but pure murder.
– He holds no official position.
– He is called a vice-president of the Trades Hall Council, and if a vice-president does not hold an official position, I do not know the meaning of the term.
– What about Mr. Wetherspoon, M.L.C., of New South Wales, who said that if a Labour organizer came to his place he would shoot him? Mr. Wetherspoon is a member of the honorable senator’s party.
– I do not know that he is a member of my party. I never heard of him, and should not know him from a bar of soap if I saw him. The idea underlying this arbitration legislation is that capital and labour should be divided into two separate camps. But what is to be said when a man is called a blackleg, and denounced for doing what his union orders him to do? Only a few weeks ago a union called the Amalgamated Workers Association, which includes a number of men engaged in mining at Chillagoe and Atherton, as well as some who are engaged in the sugar industry, decided upon a strike. The Waterside Workers Union decided, however, that its men should continue to work. They did so, and were denounced by the Amalgamated Workers Association as “ scabs “ and “blacklegs” because they continued to observe an agreement made under the Federal Act.
– It was a mere difference of opinion.
– I thought that the terms “ scab “ and “ blackleg “ were reserved for those workers who acted against the principles of unionism; but here they were applied under entirely different circumstances. To approach this subject wilh the idea that we -are going to prevent strikes is a mistake. I do not think we shall be able to do so. A number of cases go to show how difficult it is to arrive at any satisfactory decision. There was a case the other day where the acting secretary of the Australian Workers Union in Sydney expressed regret and sorrow on account of an award given by Mr. Justice Higgins, because it did not benefit his particular people; and if the newspaper report can be relied upon-
– Newspaper reports cannot be relied upon. The report was not correct.
– The honorable senator does not know what newspaper I was about to quote. I think that this appeared in a Labour newspaper. This gentleman said that he was very dissatisfied with the award, which, though it would do good in some directions, left other important matters unsettled, and it might be necessary to take further steps to settle them. If that meant anything, it meant that the men were prepared to Strike, or to do something outside Mr. Justice Higgins’ award, to secure advantages which that award did not give to them. I am willing to concede that honorable senators opposite really desire to prevent strikes. I am still more inclined to make that concession in view of a statement appearing in the Barrier Truth for 4th November of the present year. It is stated there -
Every one who has any experience of industrial organizations knows that members of Parliament always endeavour 11 to settle differences amicably,” which means accepting any terms offered by the bosses, and the Attorney-General had the temerity to admit practically that he bas always tried to prevent the wharfies from striking for better conditions. Strikes are not fomented by politicians, but occur in spite of them. After a politician fails to “ settle “ a strike, he usually hangs round so as to obtain all the kudos and advertisement that may be going. Politicians have their uses in Parliament, but they are conservative factors in the unions,’ and retarding influences on industrial organizations. They usually monopolize the best paid positions - the general secretaryships, and so forth - thus keeping the younger and ambitious members from rising in union ranks, and preventing the more militant members from taking drastic action to secure redress of their grievances. Verily, Robert Blatchford was right when he declared that all great strikes had been caused, not by Labour “ leaders,” but in spite of and in direct opposition to the so-called “ leaders.”
It is evident that, unless the mental attitude of trade unionists is materially altered, we shall have a very poor chance of making our legislation effective. The extraordinary thing is that, during the last few years, we have had a far greater number of strikes and industrial troubles in Australia than we ever had before.
– We have had ninety strikes in Australia within ten months. I do not say that that is the fault of Labour legislation, but honorable senators opposite must admit that the number of strikes and industrial upheavals during the ,’last three or four years has been greater than in any similar period in the history of Australia.
– Is it the honorable senator’s argument that if there were no arbitration laws there would be fewer strikes ?
– No ; but I say that, in spite of our industrial legislation, there has been an increase of industrial unrest. The reason, in my opinion, is the great prosperity of the country. When workmen see that they can get more money for their services than they are entitled to under an award of the Court, they naturally try to get it. I do not blame them. We may some day have to face bad times. Then honorable senators opposite will have the unpleasant duty of watching wages going down, and they will find that all our arbitration laws will be ineffectual to prevent that result. Leaving aside the philosophical or academical aspect of the question, and coming to the political aspect of it, I may observe that Senator Pearce delivered one of the best speeches he has ever made in the Senate on this subject last week. But he did not really reply to Senator Millen. We could not expect him to do so. We all know how capable Senator Pearce is of making an excellent speech which does not reply to anything that has been urged by his political opponents.
– You cannot answer politics by philosophy.
– This was a case of answering philosophy by politics.
Instead of answering Senator Millen’s argument, Senator Pearce started to draw an awful, lurid, scarlet picture of the bad things done by ‘Legislative Councils, which are supposed to favour the policy of honorable senators on this side of the Chamber. It was amusing, but not altogether convincing. From what Senator Pearce said, one might imagine that Australia was hungering for legislation to preserve industrial peace and prevent industrial strife. But where do we stand now? Seventy unions have been registered under the Federal Arbitration Act. Consequently we may assume with reason that there is no great necessity to tinker with the present law in order to induce unions to come in under the Act. Let us see how we stand as far as Wages Boards are concerned. I have taken the latest figures available. I find that in Victoria in 1910 there were 147 Wages Boards, and _77 per cent, of the employes came under tile determinations of those Boards. If my honorable friends opposite are going to condemn Wages Boards out of hand, as Senator Lynch did, my argument will, of course, from their point of view, fall to the ground. But I wish to show that industrial legislation of this class has been passed, and enforced despite the terrible Legislative Council referred to by the Minister of Defence. In South Australia in 1910 there were 75 Wages Boards, and 80 per cent, of ‘the em ployes came under them. In New South Wales, up to 10th November, 1910, there were 117 Wages Boards. la Queensland, at the end of 1910, there were 77 Wages Boards, and in that State I was not able to get the number of employes affected, but I find that 40 per cent, of the trades were working under the Boards, and additional Boards are being appointed. I have taken these figures from the official Year-Book. and they show that in four States alone there were at the end of last year no less than 416 Wages Boards. If this amending Bill means anything, and in future organization is to go forward on craft lines, the work of these Boards must disappear, and the men affected must come under the Federal Arbitration Act. These 416 Wages Boards have cost very little to establish, and I have some information upon their operation in Queensland which it may be worth while to give to the Senate. I have here a report, which came to hand yesterday, I think, from the Director of Labour and Chief Inspector of Factories and Shops of Queensland, for the year ended 30th June, 191 1. I would not be positive on the subject, but I think this is the very first Queensland report that has been published on Wages Boards. I will admit that the number of Boards given for Queensland is not the same as the number given in the official Year-Book. I say that now, because I do not wish any one to trip me up on this account afterwards. The report contains these statements -
Speaking generally, the introduction of the Wages Board system seems to have brought about an improvement in the conditions in those trades to which it has been applied, and evidence that this is appreciated by the workers is shown by the number of applications which continue to be received for the granting of Boards. It is inevitable, of course, that any industrial legislation will take some little time before it will work smoothly, and Determinations of Wages Boards are no exception to the rule ; but as employers and employes come to realize the protection it affords them from unfair competition in the one case, and low wages in the other, they each endeavour to conform co the altered conditions.
The necessity for payments of arrears of wages in numbers of cases has had the effect of impressing upon employers the advisability of keeping themselves conversant with the requirements of the Determinations, and the diligence of the inspectors in seeing that copies of Determinations are posted up in all places where employes are affected has made it an easy matter for employes to satisfy themselves that they are being fairly treated, and it also affords them an opportunity of drawing the employers’ attention to any breaches. It has several times come under my notice that employers have posted copies of Determinations, as required by the Act, and these having been maliciously removed, complaints subsequently reached me that no Determination was posted; but such cases are comparatively rare, and a generally harmonious feeling appears to now exist between the employers and employes, the former recognising more than in the initial stages that the conditions of the Determinations must be adhered to, and the antagonistic attitude has almost entirely disappeared.
I remind honorable senators that the Queensland Wages Board Act was passed only within the last year or two. While on the subject, I would refer to a statement which I think was madeby Senator Gardiner, though I do not wish to do him an injustice. It was stated that honorable senators on this side have all been opposed to Wages Boards at one time or another, and that they have been opposed to the application of the system to rural industries.
– They are really opposed to. the betterment of the workers, although they are not game to say so.
– I wish to make myself quite clear on this point. The
Queensland Wages Board Act was passed after a battle royal with the Queensland Legislative Council. The Legislative Council at length gave in, and the Wages Board system was passed, and applied to rural industries.
– In South Australia Both Houses of the State Parliament passed resolutions for the establishment of four Wages Boards, but the bringing of those resolutions into operation was postponed for five years. That was due to the Legislative Council of the State.
– I am not defending the South Australian Legislative Council. I know that it is in a pretty bad way. What I say is that the Queensland Parliament passed a Wages Board Act, and made it apply to rural industries. I think it was before last December twelve months that I advocated by letter that all organizations concerned in the sugar industry should adopt Wages Boards. Later on I visited the north, attended the annual council of an organization, and advocated most strongly the necessity and advisableness of having Wages Boards appointed throughout the industry. I have the gratification of knowing that while they were against me at first, the delegates to the conference, when they went back to their districts, supported the proposal, and so far as I am concerned - and I speak for no other man on this side - I cannot be accused of having opposed Wages Boards for rural workers.
– The honorable senator is an exception to his party.
– That may prove the rule. One cannot tell what exceptions will do. Senator Pearce, when firing off his philippics against Legislative Councils in general did not realize that he was not altogether voicing the opinion of members even of his own party.
– He wiped the floor with the honorable senator’s leader, Senator Millen.
– If he had taken a leaf from the book of my honorable friend, who stays away when a critical division is being taken, he could certainly not have wiped the floor with Senator Millen. I remind Senator W. Russell that he absented himself from the last division taken in the Senate, which was one which would have rather tickled him up in so far as its bearing upon rural industries was concerned.
– That is untrue.
– I wish to remind the Minister of Defence of what was said at the Inter- State Labour Conference held in Brisbane in 1908. I quote from a report which appeared in the Sydney Worker, and which I may assume to be reasonably correct. Mr. Holman, at that Conference, referred to the fact that the High Court could declare that Australia was, as it were, within an iron ring, and the Court stood outside that ring. He is credited with saying -
The moment the Australian Parliament did anything that the High Court said was outside the ring it became invalid, as witness the judgment in the recent new Protection case. So delegates should remember that if the States had their Legislative Councils, the Federation had its High Court. Having touched on the possible personnel of the High Court Bench in years to come, Mr. Holman went on to say that he would sooner have the Legislative Councils, which could be swamped, than a judicial tribunal that was unassailable and irremovable.
– That is the statement of one of the State-righters.
– He was speaking of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, which is a nominee, and not an elective Council.
– He says that it would be possible to swamp it. His argument was that if he were given the power by the verdict of the people, he could control the State Legislative Councils. The position in Queensland was much the same when Mr. Kidston, as Premier of the State, was supported by the Labour party, and was still nominally the leader of that party. The Legislative Assembly quarrelled with the Legislative Council. What followed? The Legislative Assembly passed a Bill, which the Legislative Council was not game to reject, under which, if the Legislative Assembly passes a Bill twice, and the Legislative Council chooses to reject it twice, or to amend it out of recognition, the Bill is referred to the people at a referendum, which may be easily taken at the time of an election, and if they approve of if, it becomes law in spite of the Legislative Council.
– That applies to two only out of six Legislative Councils.
– It might be applied to all.
– I am only mentioning this in reply to all the “ hifalutin “ talk which we had from the Minister of Defence about State Legislative Councils.
– What is the honorable senator driving at?
– I am driving at the Minister of Defence, who devoted a great deal of his speech to the denunciation of Legislative Councils, as standing in the way of the effective operation of the Wages Board system, and thereby rendering it necessary to take industrial legislation out of the hands of the State Parliaments, and putting it in the hands of the Federal Parliament. If the honorable senator did not mean that by what he said, he did not mean anything. I think I do him no injustice when 1 say that’ that is what he was driving at. I certainly have a right, in replying to the honorable senator, to refer to the real position of the Legislative Councils of the State’s. T am prepared to admit that if our Legislative Councils were elected on rolls compiled in the way attempted in South Australia the other day, they would be a danger and a menace to the community. I have here a most interesting report of a Select Committee on the subject, but as I see that the President has his eye on me, I shall not read portions of it which I can assure honorable senators are very instructive and well worth reading.
– Is the honorable senator opposing or supporting this Bill?
– My honorable friend will know when we get to a division. Let me deal now with another aspect of the matter concerning the advantages or disadvantages of taking away from the 416 Wages Boards to which I have referred, the local control of industries, and putting it into the hands of a Federal authority. I do not suppose that any one could put this aspect of the matter better than did Mr. Bowman, the Leader of the Queensland Labour party, at the historic Labour Conference, held in Brisbane, in July, 1908. As reported in the Sydney Worker, he said -
He would say, in passing, that he favoured the principle of arbitration in preference to Wages Boards, but he did not think it advisable to hand over the local work, which those Boards might safely do, to the Federation. The present proposal might be all right as applied to the big industries, but what about the little industries? They could, he thought, be better handled in the State than in the Federal sphere.
I remind honorable senators that, on 26th April last, the people were consulted upon that point. Senator Pearce, according to a newspaper report, spoke in pathetic terms of the necessity of saving the poor little children, who were being murdered practically by the importation of rotten goods, and we had several Federal Ministers ex plaining to people in Brisbane the great advantages of coming to the Federal Arbitration Court with their industrial difficulties instead of trusting in a local Parliament dominated by a State Legislative Council. What was the result? In Queensland, as in every other State with the exception of Western Australia, where the Wages Board system is merely upon its trial, the electors decisively vetoed the proposed transfer of their local industrial affairs to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– The only persons in the Commonwealth who acted sensibly on that occasion were the electors of Western Australia.
– There is one clause in this Bill which will affect civil servants. I had intended, in Committee, to submit an amendment upon that provision; but I understand, sir, from your ruling this afternoon, that I might be out of order. Consequently I propose to touch upon it now. It is well known to honorable senators that there has been presented to Parliament a petition containing approximately 4,000 signatures from officers in the Postal Department. That petition sets forth reasons why certain public servants of the Commonwealth should not be brought within the scope of the principal Act. The two chief reasons are -
That from time immemorial Parliament has been the court of appeal for servants of the Crown, and that investigations under the Arbitration Court would be lengthy, costly, and burdensome.
I would remind the Government that this petition represents no less than one-third of the total employes in the Post and Telegraph Department.
– Its signatories do not represent a fourth of the permanent employes of the Post Office.
– The permanent employes of the Postal Department number i3,233 according to the very latest report of the Postmaster-General, and the 4,000 signatories to this petition represent about a third of them. I notice, too, that they are not what might be called the “ top.notchers.” They are not what one honorable senator opposite has chosen to designate “ the Conservative party.” The first 85 signatures on the petition are those of lettercarriers, the next 180 are those of telegraphists, the next 120 are those of linemen,and then follow the names of letter-sorters and clerks, making a total of something like 4,000. In Committee, I shall, if the opportunity presents itself, ask honorable senators to seriously consider the great danger and the unwise policy of allowing the Arbitration Court to regulate the wages and conditions surrounding the employment of our public servants. I admit that, in the case of the saddlery and clothing factories, which will probably compete with private enterprise, it is only fair that both parties should be permitted to go before the same Court. But it cannot be urged that private enterprise intrudes upon the working of our Postal Department. Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1 9 10 it is provided that persons engaged in Commonwealth or State industries can have their grievances laid before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. But it is now proposed to alter the meaning of the term “ Industry,” so as to make it embrace callings and employments. I have been told that the Government intend to introduce a short measure this session giving public servants the right of appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. But if this Bill be carried, it will not be necessary to adopt that course.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was asking the Government to reconsider their decision to alter the definition of the term “Industry,” so that it should not be made to embrace public servants, either of the Commonwealth or of a State. In the Act which we passed last year, section 4 of the principal Act was amended by omitting therefrom the definition of “ Industrial dispute,” and inserting in lieu thereof the following definition - “Industrial dispute” means an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State, and includes -
That definition might be allowed to stand, because the Commonwealth has already established a saddlery and clothing factory, and may yet establish horse-breeding stations, which may come into competition with private enterprise, and in such circumstances it is not unreasonable that both parties should be at liberty to appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. But in this Bill it is proposed to alter the defi nition of the word “ Industry,” so as to make it embrace “ any calling, service, or employment.” Obviously that would include all our public servants.
– Surely the honorable senator would not make them a privileged class.
– Is any person privileged if he is allowed to appeal to the Parliament of his country? But the Bill contains a proposal that our public servants should be permitted to appeal to the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, who, according to Mr. Holman, is “irremovable and unassailable.” I would suggest that, in Committee, after the word “ employment,” in paragraph b, of clause 3, the words “except in the employment of the Commonwealth, or of a State” should be inserted.
– Would the honorable senator give other workmen the privilege of appealing to Parliament in regard to wages matters?
– I have already explained that there are certain directions in which the Commonwealth may possibly come into competition with private enterprise.
– If the honorable senator desires to turn this Chamber into a Wages Board, why not give all workers the same privilege?
– Where the instrumentalities of the Commonwealth come into competition with private enterprise, both parties ought to be permitted to appeal to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. But in respect of services which constitute a State monopoly, such as our Post and Telegraphs, it would be a mistake to surrender our right to control the public purse, and to determine what wages shall be paid to our own employes. When honorable senators go before their constituents they have to tell them that they propose to tax the people to such-and-such an extent in order to carry on the public services of the country. But if we give effect to the provisions of this Bill we shall have to inform the electors that the question of regulating the wages and conditions of employment of our public servants has been relegated to a Judge who is “ irremovable and unassailable.”
– The Public Service Commissioner occupies a similar position now.
– The Public Service Commissioner may be removed from office to-morrow. He was re-appointed only the other day.
– He is just as irremovable, and more autocratic, than is a Justice of the High Court.
– No, he is appointed for a term of only seven years, whereas a Judge is appointed for life, subject to his good behaviour. Are the Government going to surrender to the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court the right to determine the wages which our public servants shall be paid ? It will be a great mistake to do so. It is our business to regulate the hours and conditions of employment of our own officers, with the exception of those whom I have mentioned.
– Every employer contends that he has a right to regulate his own business.
– If my honorable friend persists in his present attitude he may yet find himself in the position of certain kings who lost their lives because they insisted upon taking away from Parliament the right to control the public purse. This question did not arise when section 4 of the principal Act was under consideration, because the word “Industry” was then defined as meaning something entirely different from what it will mean under this Bill. Under the principal Act it means any ordinary industrial calling which may compete with private enterprise, whereas, under this measure, it will embrace “any calling, service, employment,” &c. The point is one which the Government should seriously consider. It would be well if we recollected the dangers and disadvantages that will accrue if we allow an outside body to prescribe the wages which shall be paid to our public servants. I would like to draw special attention to the extraordinary position into which we are getting in regard to industrial disputes. Take the case of the Sugar Workers’ strike. That originated with the Amalgamated Workers Association, which ordered its members to strike. No ballot was taken, and no attempt was made to appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. The strike, as every one knows, collapsed practically from the moment it started. I draw attention to the signatures which are attached to the agreement, which was signed on behalf of the respective parties on the 14th August, 191 1 -
Government Sugar Mills - W. H. Barnes.
Australian Sugar Producers Association : President - Thos. W. Crawford; Secretary - G. H. Pritchard.
Chairman, Inter-State Conference - J. Harry Coyne.
Federated Seamen’s Union - Arthur H. Gibson.
Federated Waterside Workers Union - J. Morris.
Merchant Service Guild - Tom G. Johnson.
Institute of Marine Engineers - Tom G. Johnson.
Federated Lorrymen and Carters Union - Robert McCormack.
Brisbane Coal Lumpers Union - Douglas Kingston. ‘
Amalgamated Workers Association - Edward Theodore.
Australian Labour Federation - Albert Hinchcliffe.
Secretary, Inter-State Conference - Arthur Cooper.
United Storemen and Packers Union - W. Bertram.
Queensland Railway Employes Association - J. H. Sherry.
The signatures were witnessed by J. S. Gibson. Ten or twelve unions, and nearly all Inter-State unions, stepped into Queensland and practically ordered the sugar workers to resume work. The point which occurs to my mind is that while the members of a union have the opportunity, if they like, of going to the Federal Court, the sugar workers did not go to that Court, but ten or a dozen Inter-State unions stepped in, took charge of the whole concern, and tried to bring about a settlement. It was a strike of sugar workers, but the only people who did not settle it were the workers themselves.
– They could not have gone to the Arbitration Court.
– They could. Does the Minister mean to tell me that the Federated Seamen’s Union is not under the jurisdiction of the Court?
– It was not an InterState dispute. It has to be an Inter-State dispute before the Court can be appealed to.
– It could have been made an Inter-State dispute if they had chosen, and as a matter of fact the Amalgamated Workers Association, which caused the dispute, operates in New South Wales as well as in Queensland.
– The dispute did not extend beyond Queensland.
– I may be mistaken, but I am under the impression that the dispute extended to New South Wales. I wish to show the extraordinary position into which we are getting in connexion with industrial legislation, when we find that in an ordinary dispute ten or a dozen organizations established all over Australia can step in and settle the dispute, it might almost be said, behind the backs of those actually engaged in it.
– Does it not also show the benefit of unionism ?
– If my honorable friend had heard the various extracts which I read, to show what these people think of the politicians and their attitude towards unionism, how they make all they can out of it, and do as little as they possibly can for it, probably he would not have made that interjection.
– That does not alter the fact that unionism settled the dispute.
– Clause 8 of this Bill contains one of the most extraordinary provisions which one could possibly imagine. I do not think that whoever drafted the Bill, or the Cabinet when they considered it, fully realized what the clause means. It amends section i6a of the principal Act by inserting the following new sub-section- “ (ia.) ‘Any person’ in the last preceding sub-section includes not only persons engaged in or connected with an industrial dispute, but also any person engaged in or connected with any dispute relating to industrial matters (whether extending beyond the limits of a State or not), and related in any way to an industrial dispute ; and also includes any person, whether connected with an industrial dispute or not, whose presence at the conference the President thinks is likely to conduce to the prevention or settlement of an industrial dispute.”
Suppose that the President of the Court has a dispute before him in Melbourne, that for some reason or other he is imbued with the opinion that I, living in Thursday Island, can throw a great deal of light on the subject, and help to settle the dispute, under the provision I can be summoned to Melbourne to be examined in connexion with the dispute with which I have not a tittle of interest, and if I do not come down I shall be liable to a fine of
– If you were at Thursday Island you would be very glad to have the chance to come down.
– My honorable friend is like a great many more persons : when he is dealing with serious matters he always makes a joke. It does not matter two pins to me where the Court is sitting. Let us change the venue to Thursday Island, and drag my honorable friend, under an order from the Court, to that place, under a penalty of £500, to give evidence.
– It is a very good place in the winter.
– My honorable friend never stopped there, and I do not suppose that he would if he could get the chance. The point I wish to make is that no provision is made for paying the expenses of a man who, under a penalty of £500, is dragged from one end of Australia to the other to attend the Court because it is thought by the President that he can give evidence. If he says that he cannot afford to come, I do not know whether, under a criminal law, the authorities could arrest him and take him, like an unwilling witness, from one part of Australia to the other. Even if a person comes to attend the Court at his own expense, there is no provision under which the President can make the Crown recoup him. I certainly think that there ought to be a provision under which a witness who is dragged from a distant part of Australia can have his expenses paid. I feel confident that in Committee the Government will find some way in which they can make the position of a man in such a case a little less desperate than it is. This, like other Bills, creates a new crime. It is a new terror to the man who does nothing. I desire to draw attention to another provision which I think the Government will probably agree to modify a little. Clause 15 amends section 38B of the principal Act. Under the section as sought to be amended, the Judge can give an award not only in connexion with the matters before the Court, but also the demands made by the parties in the course of the dispute. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that I, as an employer, have a demand served upon me in connexion with a number of employers, for certain conditions as to wages and hours of labour, and that I am willing to grant the demand. I do not want to come all the way to Melbourne or Sydney merely to say that I agree to the demand. When the case comes before the Court I am quite willing that the Court shall make the desired award, though the otheremployers may dispute the demand. But, while 1 am sitting down quietly waiting for an award with which I agree, the other employes spring fresh points. I am not bothering my head about the case, because I am willing to concede all that has been asked. There is a provision under which a fresh demand can be made while the case is proceeding, but there is no provision by which I can be advised that a fresh claim has been made. When the award is made I may find that it includes a number of things which I never had a chance of discussing. This is not a political, but a practical question. It does not matter whether it is the employers or the workers who make the claim. No fresh claim should be sprung upon a man while the case is before the Court. Probably a little drafting will put the clause right. I suggest that persons who are concerned in the hearing of the claim should get notice of any new claim which is made, and so have a chance to reply. In connexion with craft registration, I notice that there has been a tendency amongst honorable senators to discuss only the engine-drivers’ case. The matter goes very much further. On the 5th July last an application was made to the Arbitration Court to register a body to be known as the Australian Transport Association as an organization under the Act. I have ascertained at the office of the Court that the report in the Melbourne Herald, to which I am referring, is correct. I also learned that the registration of this organization was hung up in consequence of the High Court’s decision in the engine-drivers’ case. The following extract is taken from the Melbourne Herald of 6th July -
The constitution of the association provides that it shall consist of all employes engaged in or about all conveyance of passengers and goods in any part of Australia, or in and about the application of any traffic scheme or business connected with it, including all work directly connected with or incidental to the construction, maintenance, or control of any trams, vehicles, motor cars, waggons, carriages, trucks, buses, and any other methods used or to be used in the conveyance of persons or goods, worked by steam, gas, kerosene, benzine, oil, electricity, and gasolene, except conveyance by sea or horse-drawn vehicles other than on rails.
This is only what one might call a second instalment of the Prime Minister’s threat, that if we rejected the referenda proposals we should fall down with fright. 1 can see exactly what it means. It means an attempt to get round the referendum decision. It means that a man who drives a horse car at Kew is to be placed on the same footing as a man who drives a horse and truck laden with cane along a portable tram track at Mosman, in North Queensland.
– What does the honorable senator mean by saying “ placed on the same footing ‘ ‘ ?
– I mean that the Court is bound by the Constitution not to differentiate between one part of Australia and another.
– Not a bit of it.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the Arbitration Court has never given different awards applicable to different parts of Australia ? The last shearing award should convince him to the contrary.
– The last shearing award proves my statement.
- Mr. Justice O’Connor gave an award with differential rates, and that remained in operation until the other day, when Mr. Justice Higgins made the rates even.
– But his Honour had power to make different rates.
– That point has not been decided by the High Court. In the bootmakers’ award, while there were different rates for various States, there was also a sliding scale, so that eventually the rates will become the same. If there is to be one rate of pay for all persons driving vehicles on tram rails, there is no reason why there should not be the same rate ot pay for all other horse-drivers. But how are you going to bring into one organization, for the purpose of collective bargaining, ali the employers?
– The employers are in one organization now, and have been for years.
– Does my honorable friend mean to say that every man who runs a livery stable, or an omnibus belongs to the Employers’ Federation? To say that they do is to utter what may be called a gratuitous inexactitude. There is no true identity of interest amongst employers, and the only identity of interest amongst the employes is that they all desire to get the highest possible wages. I do not object to their getting all they can, but if you are going to have collective bargaining in the interests of the employ^, there ought to be some means of securing collective bargaining amongst the employers. How can you, however, have collective bargaining between the man who drives a cab in Melbourne, the man who drives a cart for an employer in Western Australia, the man who drives a horse-tram on the cane-fields of North Queensland, and the man who drives an omnibus somewhere in New South Wales? They all drive horses, but not under the same conditions. Again, how can you have collective bargaining affecting the employers of these various drivers? This Bill carries the principle of arbitration to every individual employer.
– It only affects the employer who has 100 workmen in his employ.
– There is nothing about 100 or more employes in the Bill.
– That is in the original Act.
– It is easy enough to make such a statement, but when the High Court comes to interpret this measure, it will not take any notice of what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said in the Senate. If the Government will provide for what my honorable friend has stated, it will remove a great deal of my opposition to the Bill.
– I am afraid the Government would be wrong then.
– Wait until my honorable friend, Senator W. Russell, is haled before the Court, because he happens to employ a man on his farm driving a hay-cart. Even though the general scheme of the Bill may be excellent, it means casting an enormous amount of work on the Arbitration Court. There are at present something like 415 Wages Hoards. Judging from the attacks that have been made upon Wages Boards from the Ministerial side, the intention undoubtedly is to override them, and bring all employes under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. If that be so we shall want about twenty Mr. Justice Higginses to manage this business. Otherwise we shall clog the machine. Already men, who had every right to ask for reasonable conditions of labour and wages, and were ready to make their appeal to the Court, have had their cases hung up for weeks and months, and I might almost say for years, awaiting a hearing. In their interest it fs not wise to pile an enormous amount of extra work on the Court. The Minister of Defence told us that he believes in discontent, which he says makes for progress. I would ask him incidentally whether the discontent amongst cadets makes for progress ? As Minister of Defence he should be an authority on that point. I do not believe that this Bill is going to be of any use to the working people of this country. It is simply a political placard from which Ministers themselves do not expect that any real good will result. I believe that they underrate the intelligence of the working men of the community in thus holding before their noses a bunch of carrots.
– I have listened with some amusement to the speech of Senator Chataway. I endeavoured, by interjection, to ascertain whether he was supporting the Bill or otherwise.
– I cannot say, even now. He has talked about a. bunch of carrots, but he has given us no indication as to whether he is going to vote for or against the second reading of the Bill. His attitude is a regular puzzle. I have no intention of occupying the time of the Senate at great length, because the criticism of the measure has been very meagre indeed. Honorable senators opposite have been continually declaring that they are in favour of the settlement of industrial disputes by all legal means, that they abhor strikes, and are anxious to do what is possible to prevent them, yet throughout the debate they have been continually declaiming that our efforts are of no use, and that conciliation and arbitration laws will do no good. I was not present when the Leader of the Opposition made his contribution to the debate, but I have had his speech read to me and paid careful attention to it. It reminded me of the lamentations of Jeremiah. The speech was dismal from beginning to end. He represented that all legislative efforts in the direction of settling industrial disputes had resulted in failure. Did Senator Millen really mean that? Did Senator Sayers, Senator Chataway, Senator St. Ledger, Senator Walker, and Senator McColl, who followed him, share his opinion? If so, they are nothing better than a band of pessimists who see no hope for the future, and have nothing but regrets with respect to the past. Senator Chataway went back thousands of years to find an illustration either of the failure or success of arbitration in labour disputes. We have been treated with evidence from Babylon. I will turn back to the times of Moses. He was a great man, as every one must acknowledge. When, with all solemnity, and to the accompaniment of thunder, lightning, fire, smoke, rain and storm, the Ten Commandments were given by Moses to the people of this world, a code of moral law was enunciated, which has been the basis of nearly all human law that has since been enacted.
– What about the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet”?
– I have never coveted anything owned by Senator Walker, and I do not think he has reason to covet anything of mine. When the commandments enunciated the divine law “ Thou shalt not kill,” did that put an end to murder? There have been millions! of murders since that time. But would honorable senators opposite say, therefore, that that moral law has been a failure, and that it has done no good in the world ? Would they say that it would have been better if Moses had never written the second tablet of the law? If they would not say that, they have no reason to say that our attempts to bring peace to all sections of the community, with respect to industry and wages, have been a failure. As Senator Lynch has told us this afternoon, the Federal Arbitration Court has given thirteen awards and has registered 112 industrial agreements, affecting the industrial life of over 100,000 employes, and I do not know how many- employers. That has been done in the course of a very few years. Will any one say that no good has been done by those awards and agreements ?
– Not much.
– There has been no instance of dissatisfaction with the exception of the recent instance in Sydney, which has been referred to. When we have members of Parliament kicking up rows, and flinging inkbottles at each other in Sydney, it will be admitted that that is a bad example for the working classes, and one can scarcely be surprised at anything happening in Sydney. But, in common with Senator Gardiner, I have a good deal of sympathy with those men “who were not prepared to do exactly the same work as was done by others, for nearly 20 per cent, less wages. I do not think they would have been justified in doing it. So far as I understand the matter those men were not aware of the full effects of the industrial agreement that had been entered into. Looking at the question from every point of view it must be admitted that there has been some excuse for their action. Some honorable senators opposite have declared that within the last five years there have been a greater number of industrial disturbances than there were for many years previously. I am sure that, if honorable senators thoroughly understood the position, they would know. the reason for that. Senator Chataway knows it, and has stated it here to-night. Every newspaper, every public man, and almost every member of the community have, during the last five years, been continually declaring here and elsewhere the great prosperity of Australia. . We have had a continuous period of prosperity for the last five or six years. If honorable senators opposite were working men in receipt of 6s. or 7s. a day, and found in their newspapers every morning accounts of the conditions of great prosperity existing throughout the country, they would naturally say to themselves, “How does it affect us? We are only getting 6s. or 7s. a day, which is the same as we got when the country was not in such a state of prosperity. Somebody must be making double the profit out of our labour that they were making three or four years ago.” Would that not create discontent in their minds, and lead them to apply to their employers for an increase of their wages ? With very few exceptions the increase applied for would be refused. And as they would not be able to go before a Wages Board or an Arbitration Court, there would be nothing left them to do but to band themselves together and say to their employers, “ Unless we get some share of the general prosperity, we shall not continue any longer to work in this way.”
– That was not the cause of the Mount Lyell strike or of many others.
– The honorable senator must know that the ostensible cause of a strike is very often not the root of the matter. He must know that that was the case in connexion with the Mount Lyell strike, and 10 1 other labour difficulties. The thing that appears on the surface is not .the actual cause of the disturbance. It must be looked for much deeper, and it will be found in the eternal struggle which employes always have in securing increased remuneration when they are conscious that increased profits are being made from their labour.
– The real cause of the Mount Lyell strike was preference to non-unionists.
– What appears to be the last straw that breaks the camel’s- back is often wrongly regarded as the real cause of a disturbance. But my honorable friends opposite know as well as we do, that the employes in any industry have never secured an increase of wages or an improvement of their conditions without a struggle lasting over years. It is because men have had to undergo these struggles, and their wives and families have had to suffer, because of their inadequate remuneration, even when prosperity has abounded in the country, that they have banded together and have refused to work any longer under such conditions, after they had made repeated demands for justice in the matter of wages and conditions of employment. Honorable senators are aware that it is the intention of the Government to do all that can possibly be done to prevent industrial upheavals such as occur from time to time. I say that, if our existing legislation in connexion with conciliation and arbitration has had the effect up to the present time of keeping 100,000 employes working quietly at their different callings it has done good. If it has been found to be defective, it is our duty to do all we can to improve it. Senator Chataway complains that it is a kind of patchwork ; but is not all the legislation that has ever been passed by the greatest Parliaments in the world a patchwork, that has been continually amended for hundreds of years? Is the Commonwealth Parliament to be more perfect than any other institution of the kind in existence ? There may be some mistakes in every Act we pass. Mistakes in legislation have very often been due to the deliberate action of the Opposition. Clauses have been inserted or mutilated for the very purpose of defeating the object of the framers and introducers of legislation. We know that our conciliation and arbitration legislation is full of defects, which have arisen in that way. There are members of the Senate who have done all they possibly could to defeat the objects of the authors of that legislation by the amendments they have moved and the obstruction with which they have met it. They have compelled those who introduced it to accept compromises which, if they had the power to reject them, they would never have accepted. Consequently, to-day we find grave defects in the existing legislation, and by this Bill we are trying to remove as many of those defects as we can. We do not pretend that they will all be removed. We do not pretend that the High Court will never give another decision which will necessitate further legislative patchwork.
In this Parliament we are restricted in our powers of legislation in respect of industrial matters, but we are trying, as far as we can, to exercise our powers to the full within the limits of the Constitution. Beyond that we cannot go, because the High Court will not let us.
– The Government are going beyond their powers in this measure, I am afraid.
– The honorable senator, when speaking, could not point to an instance in which we are proposing to go beyond our powers under the Constitution. Every clause of this Bill will be before him in a few moments, and if he can point to any which he thinks is ultra vires of the Constitution, he is welcome to do so, and to attempt to get it amended. I am sure that the Government have no intention of doing anything which would be a violation of the Constitution. Whenever, with the people behind us, we have the power to do so, we will alter the Constitution to give this Parliament additional powers, but while it remains as it is, I hope we shall honorably abide by it. I trust that the second reading of the Bill will be carried, and that honorable senators will endeavour to make some progress with the business. The session is drawing to a close, and our businesspaper is becoming crowded. We meet only three days a week, and no honorable senator can complain of undue hours of sitting. It rests with themselves what progress shall be made, whether we shall have long or short sittings, and shall sit few or many days each week.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section four 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.”
.- This is a clause which represents one of the anomalies in the Bill. As I remarked during my speech upon the motion for its second reading, the very basis of our conciliation and arbitration legislation is that there shall be organizations upon both sides. If both sides cannot be represented before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court how can any case be fairly decided ? If this amendment be made it will be easy for employes to organize, but it will be very difficult for employers to do so. I should like to hear from the Vice-President of the Executive Council how cases can be brought before the Court if these words are omitted from section 4 of the principal Act. We all know that an industrial dispute cannot be brought before that tribunal until it has extended beyond the limits of any one State, and, under such circumstances, it will be quite impossible for employers to be represented.
– I do not think Senator McColl is so simple as he wishes us to believe. He knows perfectly well that organization is necessary to bring any industrial dispute before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. But if organization upon both sides were required to achieve that object, one side could, by refraining from organizing, prevent a dispute from coming before that tribunal. Then, again, an industrial dispute of a very serious character may occur, and neither party to it may bring it before the Court. Consequently we have to frame our legislation so as to enable the Court to take cognisance of any dispute, irrespective of whether or not an organization is concerned in it. This Bill makes provision for that. I hope honorable senators will recollect that this clause is merely an extension of the definition of the term “ Industrial Dispute.” Previously that definition was too narrow. Difficulties were experienced in proving that an industrial dispute existed, and this extension of the definition is intended to remedy that defect. I think that hon orable senators opposite, who have been constantly crying out for loyalty, and for the principle of give-and-take, should evidence a little of that principle themselves, and should exhibit some confidence in the Courts of this country. Are we going to appoint to our Conciliation and Arbitration Courts, Presidents who will act in an irregular manner, and who will do things which are detrimental to the best interests of the people? Senator Walker is occasionally very strong upon the question of give-and-take, but up to the present it has been all take and no give on the part of the employers, and it is that which has led to disaster. It is to avoid these industrial disasters in future that we propose toextend the definition o”f the term “Industry.”
.- I have endeavoured to follow the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council with a view to understanding what this clause really means. I do not suggest: that all employers are good, and that all employes are bad. To my mind there are good and bad on both sides. But I would like to know how the clause will operate. It seems to me that there may be thousands of men employed in a hundred different industries, which have no connexion with each other. For instance, there may be engine-drivers in the saw-milling trade, upon the wharves, in refrigerating chambers, in butchers’ shops, and in soap factories, &c. Are all these men to be placed upon the same plane?
– I explained that matter in my speech upon the second reading of the Bill.
– Surely it is the duty of the Minister to give a reasonable explanation of the meaning of the clause. It would be far better if honorable senators had before them the Acts relating to conciliation and arbitration, which are already upon our statute-book, together withthis Bill. We might then be in a position to understand its provisions much more readily than we can at the present moment. If there be one engine-driver employed in a factory, whilst thousands are employed in the saw-milling and other industries, will the solitary individual in the factory have a right of appeal through his union to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court in the case of a dispute with his employer ? Later on I shall press for a reply upon another clause.
– It is simply an application of tlie principle of the common rule.
– We have heard a lot about the common rule, but I do not intend to discuss that phase of the matter just now.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council said a great deal, it is true, but he gave us very little information, Suppose, as he suggested, that one party to a dispute does not choose to organize. I presume that under this Bill an individual who felt himself aggrieved would have a right to appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. If so, would the dension in regard to that individual apply to the whole industry in which he was engaged? I must confess that I could rot understand the explanation of the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– I have already given all the information that I deemed to be necessary. In regard to the complaint by Senator Sayers, that nothing has been done to facilitate honorable senators in understanding the provisions of the Bill, I would point out that I hold in my hand a copy >of existing legislation with the amendments which are now proposed, set forth in large type. Does he want anything more? I really cannot understand him. Everything has been done to supply him with information, and yet he rambles all over the Bill inquiring what is to be done in the case of engine-drivers in saw-mills, in butchers’ .shops, in soap works, and in refrigerating chambers. I have already stated that these employes are organized into the Engine drivers and Firemen’s Association, and that they will cite a case before the Court. All the employers who are not interested will then be at liberty to appear. They will have an opportunity of being present, but if they do not choose to avail themselves of it, effect will be given to the award of that tribunal. Take the case of labourers as another example. There are various organizations of labourers. They work with dozens of employers, some of whom are members of the Builders and Contractors Association, whilst others are not. If the labourers cite a case before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, both the organized and unorganized employers will be at liberty to appear, but when once an award has been made it will apply to all labourers. As another illustration, take die case of a plumber and gasfitter who is permanently employed in the artificial manure factory near Footscray. Another plumber and gasfitter may be employed by the Harbor Trust, and still another in Messrs. Kitchen’s soap and candle works. Unless they get an award in connexion with the industry in which they are engaged at the present time, they cannot, according to the High Court, get one at all. It is to obviate that, and to allow men to get an award in the craft or organization to which they belong, that this amendment is considered necessary. Not many months ago in New South Wales the boilermakers brought a case before a Wages Board, but they could only bring it before the Carriage Builders Wages Board, and they lost about 18s. a week. lj: was only recently that their case was brought before a Wages Board constituted specially for them. On that occasion they succeeded ill getting better conditions, but not the conditions which they really deserved. It is to do away with these defects in the existing law that this amendment is introduced.
.- I think I can now grasp the meaning of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. To my mind, this amendment will be . injurious. The Minister says that an award is to apply all over the Commonwealth. Let us take the case of engine-drivers. Some men may be worth £5 a week, while others may not be worth £3 a week. Suppose that a case is cited, and the Court awards £4. a week all round. A man who receives £$ a week, and ds worth it, will have to accept £4 a week if the Court has to put all the engine-drivers on one footing.
– It has not.
– What is the Court to do?
– It did not do that in the case of the shearers’ dispute.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has just stated that that was the case.
– No, he did not.
– After listening attentively to his remarks, I said that I had obtained a grip of his argument. It is useless for the Minister of Defence to interject that his colleague did not. I think that he should show a little more courtesy. The tendency of this provision will be to have a minimum wage declared, which will become the maximum wage.
– That bogy is played out.
– That has been the tendency in the past, and I am afraid that with craft organization it will be repeated. So far as the President of the Arbitration Court is concerned, an engine-driver is an engine-driver.
– All the world over.
– The honorable senator knows that large mines employ enginedrivers who control the lives of hundreds of men, and who deserve, and earn, a good wage. The Bill will put a man who is attending to a tin-pot coffee-mill on practically the same footing as an engine-driver who holds a responsible position at a mine.
– The Bill will not do that.
– Under the Bill, the Court will have to fix the wages ; and what it has done in the past it may repeat. What has been the effect of the decision in the case of the shearers’ dispute? The Judge tried to put the men, as nearly as possible, on one footing. He allowed a little more for articles of food where the cost was higher, but, as regards labour, he did not make much distinction, and the men are not satisfied. The same thing may occur in connexion with engine-drivers. Is it proposed to bring them all under the operation of this provision? Even gentlemen who hold the same political opinions as Ministers do have expressed their belief that this provision will be a source of danger to the workers. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will recognise the danger which I have pointed out. Of course, the Government are strong enough to carry the Bill if they please; but the danger will be laid bare in the Court, and I suppose we shall have another measure brought in to tinker with the law again. I would prefer the Act to be repealed, and a new measure placed on the statute-book. The Minister takes a certain amount of credit for the fact that this is patchwork legislation. Perhaps next year he will find that his view was wrong, and we shall not forget to remind him that the danger was pointed out to him. I am afraid that, under the operation of this clause, the wages of men will be reduced.
– Owing to illness, the Opposition may be few in number this evening ; but the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not treating us fairly when he refuses to explain what this provision really means. To be absolutely fair, the definition of “ Industrial dispute “ ought to read -
Any dispute as to industrial matters arising, between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part, and an employe1 or an. organization of employes on the other part.
Apparently, the individual employ^ was left out of the original definition, and theindividual employer was left in it. Doesthe proposed amendment mean that an industrial dispute between an employer in, Queensland and an individual employe- who may be an agent in New South Wales may become an Inter-State dispute? When two men fall out about something, is the national Arbitration Court to hang up its work in order to settle that paltry dispute? If the clause means that, the Minister might at least admit the fact. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me quite clear that the proposed alteration of the definition will enable the Court, not merely to settle an industrial dispute between organizations, or even between an individual employer and an organization of employes, but also to settle a paltry dispute between a man in New South Wales and a man in Victoria. I think that the provision will be unworkable. Suppose, for instance, that I engage in Sydney a printer to go to my printing office in Queensland, and there is a row about the interpretation of the agreement, this provision will allow me or the printer to go to the Arbitration Court and occupy, perhaps, its time for several days, and so prevent large organizations of employers or employes from getting their cases dealt with. Is it intended that that loophole shall be open to clog the wheels of the machine? I believe that the Government have no such intention ; but that is possible under the provision.
– I desire to know if the Bill will interfere with a farmer who uses an engine on his farm for milking cows, separating the milk, cutting his chaff) threshing wheat, and doing other things. I was never a good engineer on a farm. For many years I had an engine in use, but I generally got a man to attend to it. It would be awkward if a man who did ploughing and other work were placed in a different position because he also attended fo the engine. Except at harvest, £1 a week is a fairly good wage to pay on a farm; but, of course, the men get their food. When I was on the hustings, I told’ the electors that, as regards workers on a- farm, neither I nor either of my comrades would, if returned, support the introduction of the eight ‘hours system in rural industries. I want Senator McColl to hear that pledge which I gave to the people of South Australia. I do not desire that by a side wind, or by a misunderstanding, those who work the engines of farms should be placed at a disadvantage. I told the farmers that if 1 were elected matters which affected their interests would be my first concern. I ask Senator McGregor to supply the information which not only I, but others, have asked for; and if he does not, he will know the reason why.
– I have always very great pleasure in allaying the feirs of my honorable friend. From his past experience, and from his acquaintance with this legislation, he ought to know that when he was working an oil-engine on a farm, and when I was working an oil-engine on a farm, or a gas-engine anywhere else, for a few minutes while cutting a bit of wood, or a bit of chaff, I was not an engine-driver within the meaning of the Act. I could not drive an engine, and even the honorable senator has admitted that he was not very good at that. An engine-driver, in the sense intended by this Bill, is not a man who drives an oilengine on a farm for the purpose of cutting a bit of chaff.
, - It would be interesting to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council is speaking under the advice of the Attorney-General, when he says that an engine-driver under this Bill is not a man who drives an engine for cutting chaff on a farm.
– I do not need the Attorney-General’s advice for a simple thing like that.
– I should prefer to take the Attorney-General’s legal opinion, little as I think of it, than that of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I remind Senator W. Russell that the Act of last year amended section 4 of the principal Act, by omitting from the definition of “Industry” the words “excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits.” The consequence was that the Act was made to apply to rural industries and domestic servants. I have no objection to rural industries being brought under the Act, but Senator W. Russell must make no mistake about the matter. The casual legal advice of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, tendered with the usual chaff, is not worthy of much notice. Take the decision given by Mr. Justice Higgins in connexion with the enginedrivers’ case. That award, amongst other things, provided that a man running an engine at a saw-bench at Fairymead, Queensland, for eight or ten hours a week, was an engine-driver. He was merely cutting up battens, but, nevertheless, he was brought under the same award as a Mount Lyell engine-driver.
– The honorable senator is working the fishing-rod very well, trying to catch Senator W. Russell.
– I am trying to make clear what this Bill means. A man who drives an engine on a farm is just as much an engine-driver as is a man who drives an engine which works trawling nets. There is nothing to remove from the operation of the Bill drivers of 5, 10, or 50 h.p. engines. Any man who drives an engine at all will come under the engine-drivers’ award.
– The Bill does not say that.
– There is nothing to prevent it. No discrimination is made. It appears to me that the only enginedriver who will be exempt from an engine-drivers’ award is the man who drives a beer engine in a “ pub.”
– I am surprised that any one should dispute what Senator Chataway has said. Under the definition contained in this Bill, “ Industry” includes “ any calling, service, employment, handicraft, or industrial occupation, or avocation of employes on land or water.” A man driving an engine on a farm is driving an engine on land. The Judge will take the Bill as it stands, and will have no regard to what Senator McGregor has said. The Bill makes no distinction whatever. Under it, Senator W. Russell might have to pay the man who drove his chaff-cutting engine £3 a week. But my principal complaint against the measure is that it will work downwards. The Judge must strike an average in order to make a rule for all engine-drivers. He cannot say that a man who is driving an engine which is cutting wood at a saw-mill shall receive less than an engine-driver in any other employment.
– The honorable senator knows that engine-drivers will be classified.
– There is nothing to provide for their classification in this Bill. They may be classified under State Acts, but a Commonwealth Act will override State law. The Judge will not search State Acts to find Qut. how engine-drivers are classified and what certificates they hold. He will say, “ Here is an Act passed by the Federal Parliament, and I am going to give an award in accordance with it.”
– Does the honorable senator seriously think that the Judge will place an electrical engine-driver, and the driver of a woodyard engine on the same footing ?
– At any rate, this Bill makes no distinction between them. If it did, I should have nothing to say against it in this respect.
– It seems to me that Senator Sayers has been discussing clause 3, when the clause before the Committee is clause 2; dealing with industrial disputes. I may say that I regret that it is proposed to alter the provisions of the principal Act at all, but I propose to postpone the remarks which I have to make on the subject of the proposed alteration in the definition of “ Industry “ until we come to clause 3.
Senator McGregor must rate the intelligence of Senator W. Russell very low, if he expects the honorable senator to be satisfied with the explanation he gave. Senator W. Russell asked whether any one working an engine on a farm would be brought under the provisions of the Bill, or of a decision of the Court with regard to engine-drivers.’ The Vice-President of the Executive Council told him that he would not be. There is scarcely a farm in the country to-day on which there is not an engine of a fair size. A large number of farmers are getting traction engines, and many have oil engines of considerable size, as they find it much more profitable to do their work by steam power than with horses. Senator McGregor must know that the men who drive these engines must have certificates.
– If they have certi ficates they will come under the Bill.
– Men are not allowed to imperil lives and property by permitting persons who do not hold certificates to drive engines of this character.
– Hear, hear, I hope not.
– I do not disagree with that at all. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council should admit that if a properly certified engine-driver has tobe employed to drive an engine on a farm, he will come under this Bill, and will be affected by any decision of the ArbitrationCourt dealing with engine-drivers. At the present time circulars are being issued, signed by the Secretary of the Rural’ Workers’ Union, asking that a dispute may be started in another State in order that a case may be brought before the Arbitration Court, to deal with the conditions applicable to the very men to whom Senator W. Russell has referred. A schedule of the wages demanded from farmers by the Rural Workers’ Union has been published. The rates are a considerable advance on those at present paid. I am not going to say that the present rates are sufficient, but if this Bill passes the members of the Rural Workers’ Union will be enabled to bring their claims before the Arbitration Court, and the day when a man. will be allowed to have his own little engine on the farm, or get a neighbour todrive it, will be gone for ever.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section four of the principal Act is amended by omitting therefrom the definition of “ Industry,” and inserting in its stead the following definition : - “ Industry “ includes -
any business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, or calling of employers, on land or water;
any calling, service, employment, handicraft, or industrial occupationor avocation of employees, on land’ or water ; and
a branch of an industry and a group of industries.”
– By this clause it is proposed toamend section 4 of the principal Act by substituting a new definition of “ Industry.” Under the Act of 1904, “ Industry “ was defined to mean -
Business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment, on landor water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits.
In the present Act the exemptions contained in the latter words are omitted, and they do not appear in this Bill. In my second-reading speech, which was not very long, I said that I intended to vote against the alteration of this section. I do not see how we can have a minimum wage applicable to domestic servantsA cook is certainly entitled to more pay than a kitchen maid. Is there to be a minimum wage fixed for each class of domestic service? Then with regard to the hours of labour, I am aware that many servants have a good deal of broken time, and are not required to work continuously for eight hours. If any attempt be made to fix their hours of labour at eight hours per day, it will be a very awkward arrangement altogether, and so far as domestic servants are concerned, it would be very much better to let things remain as they are. Every decent employer likes to pay his domestic servants decent wages, and to make them comfortable. I know that in my own house the servants are having much better quarters than I had many years ago when, as a bank clerk, I had to live for a considerable time in a small room, on a verandah.
– The honorable senator had not a union then.
– Domestic servants have not a union now. Any one visiting my house will see that each girl has a bed to herself, and as nice a room as any one would wish for. If this Bill passes, I may have to reconsider my position, and with many others may be obliged to consider whether I can. any longer keep up a household. This Bill will drive people into lodging-houses and flats, and will destroy family life. I am afraid that we shall be forced to adopt the horrible American system of living in flats. Senator W. Russell knows a great deal about farming, and I am sure that he does not desire to vote in such a way as to compel a farmer if he wishes to use a gas engine to employ a driver who may be brought under an enginedrivers’ award.
– The honorable senator should not exercise’ his persuasive powers on Senator Russell.
– In some respects Senator Russell is a very sensible man. 1 consider that he is very sensible when he votes with the party on this side. He also comes from a good country which has given us many decent folk, as witness the VicePresident of the Executive Council. .1 think that Senator Chataway alluded to the possibility under this Bill of men employed on a trawler being classified as engine-drivers and engineers. I am’ one of those who believe that this so-called amending Bill will only spoil and injure the principal Act.
– The fact thai I said a few words a little while ago has brought me to my feet again, as I wish to give a further explanation of the reason why I still hold the opinion that an eight hours’ day on a farm is impracticable.
– Men are working eight hours a day on some farms in Victoria now.
– Let me explain what I mean. About this time of the year a farmer may have 1,000 acres under wheat, and to look at it one would say that it would give a yield of 20 bushels “to the acre. But a day or two later a hot wind may blow, when the ears will be rubbed against each other, and that may mean a yield of ten bushels less to the acre. Again, a big thunder shower may occur and lay the crop level wilh the ground, and then it will be practically gone for ever. Then, let me point out to honorable senators that it is impossible to reap in wet weather, and that men employed on farms are paid by the week, whether they work or not, and they may bs practically idle for days together on account of wet or cold weather at harvest time.
– Sometimes it Happens that none of these calamities befall the farmer.
– Senator Walker has caught the honorable senator.
- Senator Walker has done nothing of the kind. I told the electors just what I am telling honorable senators now, and, like Senator McColl, I am speaking to the electors now. A farmer may, if the weather is warm, begin to reap his crop as early in the morning as he pleases, and are we to be told that his men must stop their reaping machines, knock off at the end of eight hours, and put the machine on one side, though they may not be able to reap again for a week ? It was for these reasons that I told the electors I would not support the adoption of the eight hours’ day on farms. So far as servant girls are concerned, I may say that my wife never had any difficulty with them. She was always a good mistress, who treated her servants as she would treat her own daughters, and we had no trouble to keep servants for six or seven years. My wife studied their interests and treated them as human beings, and if mistresses generally were educated as to the way in which they ought to treat their employes, there would not be so many complaints made about them. I told the electors that, on any question affecting the farming interest, I should be found voting on the side of the farmer. Senator McGregor, with all his wisdom, and Senator Findley with all his ingenuity, have not yet been able to convince me that I should take a different view. I am not afraid to say how I shall vote. If I think they are right I shall -vote with honorable senators on the other side. I am inclined to think they are right now, and I will vote with them. I suppose I have jumped Senator McColl’s claim, but he is only a dry farmer, whilst I am a practical farmer.
– - I wish to Point ou* that there is not a word in this Bill about eight hours a day, or 8s. or 10s. a day. It is proposed only to give power to the Court to decide these things, and I am sure Senator W-. Russell has sense enough to know that there is not a Court in the world that will put an embargo on the farmers with respect to their work in harvest time.
– It is the engine that is the trouble.
– The honorable senator need have no fear about the engine. Senator McColl has mentioned that many farmers in Victoria work engines of considerable size. They use them for all kinds of work, thrashing chaff, cutting wood, and for many other purposes, but they are required, under the State law of Victoria, to employ a certificated enginedriver. That is a very different position from that referred to by Senator Russell. A certificated engine-driver will not be required for every engine used on a farm, and unless he were a member of the Engine-drivers Association, even though he were certificated, he would still be outside an award that might be made by the Arbitration Court. I would like honorable senators to thoroughly understand the position before rising on the spur of the moment because somebody has chosen to “ pull their legs,” and to make them believe something which is not a fact.
– I object to that.
– I am not referring to the honorable senator. But instances of this kind have happened in the chamber, and even honorable senators opposite have exhibited their great ingenuity in that direction. I can assure Senators W. Russell and McColl that there is nothing in the Bill which provides that 8s. or 10s. per day shall be paid to engine-drivers on farms. The determination of the wages payable in that connexion is a matter within the discretion of the Court, and I think we may fairly trust that tribunal.
– Unlike Senator W. Russell, I do not object to this clause because I apprehend that the Court will award too large a wage to an engine-driver who is employed on a farm, but because I fear that it will not award a sufficient wage. It is impossible for the President of that tribunal to discriminate between the hundred-and-one occupations in which engine-drivers are engaged. According to Senator Russell, the usual wage paid to a man driving an engine on a farm is £1 per week and his keep. That is equivalent to about 30s. per week, and I do not wish to see engine-drivers working for that wage. If there were anything in the Bill to indicate that Parliament intends that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court should classify men and regulate their wages accordingly, I would have nothing to say in opposition to it. But it does not contain a word to that effect. The award of the F resident of the Court must, therefore, be based on the claims of the engine-drivers in a craft or organization. There is nothing in the Bill to suggest to him that he should adopt a different scale. What I fear is that, as a result, he will strike a mean, and say that a certain sum shall represent a living wage for engine-drivers. I repeat that there is not a word in the measure to suggest that he should exercise a discretionary power. I wish to make sure that in passing this Bill we do not inflict injustice upon a large number of men upon whom we have no desire to impose hardship. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council will introduce an amendment, under which the Court will have some guide to its action, I shall be satisfied.
– Why not adhere to the section of the principal Act?
– That Act originally defined “ Industry “ to mean -
Business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment, on land or water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits.
These persons were then exempted from the operation of the Act, But the exemption was struck out. Under this Bill nobody will be exempted.
– Under this measure the man who runs a milking machine will have to obtain an engine-driver’s certificate.
– It contains nothing to the contrary. I repeat that if we pass the Bill in its present form, we shall make a mistake in that it will be impossible for the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court to discriminate between the various branches of an industry. There is nothing in the measure to authorize him to do so. In the portion of the country from which I hail engine-drivers receive £4, £4 10s., and £5 a week. But the President of the Court can scarcely award a wage of ,£5 per week to a man who is employed to drive a little engine for the purpose of cutting firewood, otherwise the ‘.industry would be killed. In these circumstances, his only alternative will be to establish a fair wage which will be applicable to all enginedrivers throughout the Commonwealth. That, I contend, will inflict a great hardship upon many persons.
.- I would respectfully suggest to the VicePresident of the Executive Council that this is a convenient time to report progress.
– We shall have to make some progress first.
– The second reading of this measure, which is a very important one, has been carried within two days.
– That is not the progress I want. Senator Chataway knows the proposal I made to him.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has informed Senator W. Russell that there is nothing in the Bill which provides that farm employes shall receive 8s. or ros. per day of eight hours. That is perfectly true, but the Bill is so very open that its provisions may mean anything. My chief complaint is that it affords no opportunity to the President of the Arbitration Court to meet the varying needs of rural occupations. For instance, there are some men who are employed at Bacchus Marsh under excellent, conditions, others in Gippsland work under the hardest conditions, and still others labour under different conditions in the northern part of Victoria. There is nothing in the Bill to meet their varying needs. One man has merely to take his case to the
Court, and an award will be given which will apply fo the whole of the craft or organization to which he belongs. Now, it is well known that the conditions under which horticulture, agriculture, and viticulture are carried on differ widely all over this continent. There is nothing in the Bill to suggest that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court can make awards to meet these var5’ing conditions. For the information of Senator W. Russell, I propose to inform the Committee of what are the demands of the Rural Workers’ Union at the present time, and what the farmers have to face. I am aware that at present negotiations are in progress with a view to bringing about an industrial disturbance in two States, so as to enable the dispute to be brought before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. These negotiations will probably be successful, so that a case will be cited before that tribunal. I intend to state the demands of the Rural Workers’ Union in full, because I do not intend to allow this clause to be passed to-night. I can assure the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he will make better progress by consenting to an adjournment of the debate now, and by refreshing his mind as to the true interpretation of this Bill, than he will by resisting my very reasonable suggestion. He has been unable to answer the points which have been raised by Senators W. Russell and Sayers. I have here a complete statement of the demands which the Rural Workers’ Union of Australia means to make on all employers in the Commonwealth in the agricultural, viticultural, fruit-growing, market-gardening, and dairying industries. It reads -
Agricultural industry. - Hours per week, 48, provided that work shall cease at 12 noon on Saturday.
Last year, a very curious case occurred in the district in which I reside in connexion with this Saturday half-holiday. A landowner had 8,000 or 10,000 sheep to be shorn, and on Saturday, about noon, the full complement had been disposed of with the exception of about twenty or thirty. As a result, he requested the shearers to convenience him by continuing their work until the remainder were shorn. This they consented to do, but one of their number thereupon said, “ You are not going to work after 12 o’clock, or I will report you to the union.” The owner of this land had given liberal terms. He said, “If we work together well, I will give you very much more than I have agreed to give.” That would have meant £6 a man, or £60 in all. He was so much annoyed at their refusal to work a little longer that he declined to give them more than they were actually entitled to. He told his men to square up to the exact amount, and the money which he withheld he put on Comedy King, which, as honorable senators know, won the Melbourne Cup. It is not right to restrict a man who is running a farm. In the case I have cited the work could have been finished in half an hour, but the men would not work after noon because that was the union’s rule -
Kates. - Binder, stripper, and harvester drivers, ps. a day, £2 ros. a week; stack builders and thatchers, 12s. 6d. a day ; cane-cutters, £2 10s. a week ; general harvest hands, £2 5s. ; sugar mill hands, £1 15s. ; general farm hands, £1 15s. ; ploughmen, £1 15s. ; drill drivers, £1 15s. All workers not classified in this log to be paid at general farm hands rates. The foregoing rates include board and lodging. Where board and lodging are not provided, 12s. extra to be added to log rates. Provided also that where harvester, stripper, binder, drill drivers, or ploughmen attend to their own teams after usual working hours, 7s. 6d. per week, in addition to log rates, shall be allowed to cover such work, which shall not be considered overtime. Overtime. - For all work performed in any week after 48 hours, the following rates of overtime to apply : - Harvester, binder, and stripper drivers, is. 6d. an hour; cane-cutters, is. 6d. ; stack-builders and thatchers, 2s. ; harvest hands, farm hands, ploughmen, and drill drivers,1s. 3d. ; sugar mill hands,1s. 3d.
These are the rates which are demanded in the agricultural industry, and which are to be laid before the Arbitration Court when arrangements are made to have the case properly stated.
– It would be far better to pass the Bill, and let the case go before the Court to be decided.
– It is my intention to move an amendment on this clause, for the purpose of excluding the industries to which I referred this afternoon. That will call for a great deal of discussion, and the clauses cannot possibly be put through tonight. I ask quite respectfully that the Minister shall now allow progress to be reported.
– Certainly not. We shall have to make more progress than we have done.
– In my opinion the Government have done very well indeed to get the second reading of a big Bill like this in two days -
Grain Carrying and Stacking. - Hours per week, 48, to be made up as follows: - 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on five days of the week, one hour for dinner each day; 7.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Rates. - Carriers and stackers, 125. a day ; truckers, 10s. ; piece-work rates,3/4d. per bag each way in and out of stack. Rates of Overtime. - For all work performed beyond eight hours on any day, 2s. per hour ; Sundays and holidays, double time.
These are the demands which are going to be made in the Arbitration Court. I ask Senator W. Russell whether he, as an experienced farmer, thinks that they can be met ? I admit that the wages could be met, but certainly not the limitation of hours. Having regard to the varying conditions on a farm, and knowing that grain has to be rushed through when it is dry, how is the farmer to get along if he has to pay these rates -
Chaffcutting. - Hours per week, 48, to be made up as follows : - From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on five days of the week, one hour for dinner each day ; 7 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays; two “ smokesho,” 15 minutes each, on forenoon and afternoon of each day. Provided further that after 48 hours have been worked in any week overtime rates to apply. Time occupied in moving and setting plant to count as working time. Rates. - Engine-drivers, 12s. 6d. a day, or£3 a week; feeder, 12s. 6d. a day, or £3 a week; bag-sewer, ros. a day, or £2 15s. a week; bagger, 9s. a day, or £2 10s. a week; all other employees, 8s. a day, or £2 2s. a week. Board to be provided in addition to log rate. Overtime. - For all work performed in any week after 48 hours, time and half thetime.
– Who made out this statement ?
– It is a complete statement of the demands which the Rural Workers’ Union of Australia intend to make upon all employers in the agricultural, viticultural, fruit-growing, market gardening, and dairying industries, and which they are taking steps to bring before the Arbitration Court.
– I think that it is a little yarn which you got up for the referendum.
– This is. certainly not a yarn. It is an official document, which was issued by the union I mentioned, and which has been published in the press.
– From what newspaper are you quoting?
– I am quoting from the Argus of the 26th September last -
Threshing Grain. - Hours, 48 per week, to be made up same as chaffcutters. Rates. - Enginedriver, 12s. 6d. a day, or£3 a week ; general hands,1s. an hour, or £2 2S. a week; “chaffy,” 1s. 3d. an hour, or £2 8s. a week. Time occupied in moving and setting plant to count as working time, Overtime. - For all work after 48 hours the following overtime rates to apply : - Engine-drivers, 2s. an hour ; general hands, is. 3d. ; “ chaffy,” is. 6d. Board to be provided in addition to log rate.
– The farmer can.not run it.
– That is why we want a. provision inserted in the measure to meet the case. I am not here to say that these rates are unfair and should not be paid. We want a provision under which the Arbitration Court will have a discretion to consider all the varying conditions of farming, and to fix its awards accordingly. If we were satisfied that such a discretion would be allowed to the Court in the Act our opposition would not be as persistent as it is.
– If the farming industry cannot pay these rates, can it not prove that fact to the Court?
– How can it be done ? Can farmers organize and go to the Court ?
– In my State the farmers are organized. The Farmers’ Union is a very powerful body.
– The farmers are :not organized and registered under the Arbitration Act.
– Have you not addressed many farmers’ meetings?
– A great many.
– And organized farmers too?
– No. In Victoria or New South Wales there is no farmers’ union which is fit to go before the Arbitration Court,
– New South Wales has a very powerful Settlers’ Association.
– Yes; but it is not registered under the Arbitration Act. It is organized for another purpose altogether.
– The trouble is that they are trying to evade the Act, and will not register.
– I think it is optional with them to register. But under this measure an individual farmer can be brought before the Arbitration Court, and the award which is given is to become a common rule for the whole Commonwealth, in spite of the varying conditions.
Market-gardening. - Hours, 48 per week, work to cease at 12 noon on Saturdays. Rates per Week, with board and lodgings, £1 15s. ; where board and lodging is not provided, £2 8s. Rates of Overtime. - For all work performed beyond 48 hours in any week, is. 3d. per hour.
The state of the wheat-growing industry has been pointed out by Senator W. Russell. I may mention that in Bendigo, Harcourt, and Castlemaine, one severe frost has cut down the crops to almost nothing, and the growers will not get one- fourth of the returns which they anticipated.
– Will not the Court take all these matters into consideration?
– Under this measure no discretion is allowed to the Court. That is why I hold that the wheat industry, which brings in ^70,000,000 or ^80,000,000 a year, and which is subject to the danger of bush fires, should not be treated in the same way as manufacturing industries, which can pass on the burden. The price of wheat is regulated, not by the local market, but by the price in Mark-lane, Paris, New York, and Brussels.
– Is not the middleman the biggest curse?
– I am not here to stand up for the middle-man. If the farmers would combine and do away with the middle-man, perhaps they would do better for themselves; but that is a very difficult thing to do. 1 do not hold with the middle-man at all. I believe in the farmer getting the best possible price for his products, and in bringing him as near the consumer as possible. The farmers generally are waking up to that necessity. In a great many parts of New South Wales they are forming combinations, and doing most of their own marketing -
Fruit-growing Industry. - Hours per week, 4S, to be made up as follows : - 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on five days of the week, one hour for dinner each day ; 7.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Rates per day of eight hours : - Men and women over 17 years, 8s. a day ; dippermen, barrowmen, and carriers-out from dip, gs. ; boys and girls under 17 years, 6s. ; general factory hands, 8s. ; lumpers, gs. ; factory hands under 17 years, 6s. ; workers not classified, 8s. Overtime in daylight, is. 3d. per hour; after dark and on Saturdays, is. 6d. per hour or part of hour (after dark to mean from 8 p.m. to 7.30 a.m.) Women, boys, and girls not to be asked to work overtime. Piece-work or task system not to be permitted.
Like wheat growing, fruit cultivation is a critical industry, and a day or two may make all the difference, especially in the case of soft fruits.
Viticultural Industry. - Hours, 48 per week, work to cease at 12 noon on Saturdays. Rates per week, with board and lodgings, £1 15s. ; where board and lodging is not provided, £2 8s. Rates of Overtime. - For all work performed beyond 48 hours in any week, is. 3d. per hour.
If there is one industry that has helped the Commonwealth more than another, it is dairying. Nearly twenty years have elapsed since the question of lifting up the dairying industry was brought prominently before the Victorian Parliament. About a quarter of a million of money was spent in bonuses, a large portion of which went to the dairying industry. It is true that much of that money got into the hands of the middlemen, but at the same time the bonuses made an enormous difference to the industry. They lifted it right up, and since then it has never looked back. You may search the whole world to-day, and you will not find such a splendid average of good butter as is to be found in Victoria. No matter where one gets one’s meals, it is practically impossible to find bad butter in this country to-day. The cow has helped thousands of farmers, and put them in an independent position. Therefore, all consideration should be given to the dairying industry.
Dairying Industry. - Hours per week, 48. Rates per week : - Milkers over 18 years, £1 15s. ; milkers under 18 years, £1 2s. 6d. Board and lodgings to be provided in addition to above rates. Overtime. - For all work performed in any week beyond 48 hours, is. 3d. per hour.
Many of our farmers are giving up handmilking and getting machines, which are working very satisfactorily indeed. But a dairy of any size will, under this Bill, require an engine-driver to work its engine, and that engine-driver will have to have a certificate.
Butter and Cheese Factory, Creamery, and Condensed Milk Factories. - Hours per week, 48. Rates per week : - Foreman, ^3 10s. ; enginedriver, £3 5s. ; fireman, £2 15s. ; butterworkers, ;£3 j cheesemakers, £3 ; testers and graders, £3; weighers and packers, £2 15s.; creamery manager, £2 15s. ; casual workers, per hour, is. 6d. ; youths, 16 to 18 years, £1 ; youths, 18 to 20 years, £1 15s. ; all workers not classified, £2 10s. Where creamery manager provides horse and cart, 15s. to be allowed in addition to log rates. Overtime. - For all work performed beyond 48 hours in any week, time and a quarter ; night work, time and a half ; Sundays and public holidays, double time ; double time for work performed during usual meal hour. Cooks. - Rates per week : - To cook for 12 men or under, £2 10s. ; for every additional man above 12, 4s. each. General. -
How is the farmer going to get on under such conditions? He finds it difficult already to obtain labour to carry on his work.
I know a number of people who are going out of wheat-growing entirely, simply because they cannot get labour. If they are to employ only union men, their difficulties will be accentuated. What penalty will they incur if they do not employ union labour ? I suppose they will find that their wheat will be blocked. It will be put down as non-union wheat, and union men will refuse to handle it at the stations and wharfs. We shall have the union label on everything except members of Parliament.
– The honorable senator wants to build up the farmer, so that his party organizations can fleece him.
– I have represented farmers for nearly twenty-six years. The fact that they have always sent me back to Parliament proves that I have done them justice, and that they are satisfied with my services.
No child under the age of 15 years shall be employed in the dairying or fruit-growing industry.
The Minister of Defence cheers that statement. What are the children of farmers going to be brought up to, if they are not to be allowed to do any work until they are fifteen years of age ?
– Educate them.
– What sort of education will they get in the remote country districts ? How can a farmer afford to send them to the cities to have them properly educated? They will simply grow up to be loafers. How can farms be carried on under these conditions?
– We ought to have a quorum present. (Quorum formed.)
– I say that farming cannot be carried on unless the children are to help.
– Children under fifteen years of age?
– Yes, under fifteen years. I left my father’s house two months before I was thirteen years of age, and never got a shilling from’ him afterwards. I went on a dray to Bendigo, and have worked for my living ever since.
– Plenty of others did the same sort of thing.
– I know that, and they are none the worse for it. If you are going to deprive the farmers of this country of the services of their children, you will prevent them from succeeding.
– That was the argument used in favour of employing children in Mildura; but to-day people are being employed there on the eight hour system.
– This document lays it down that no children under fifteen years of age shall be employed on a farm, not even to pick fruit or to milk a cow.
– That does not refer to a farmer’s own children.
– lt says that none at all under fifteen years of age shall be employed.
– It would not prevent a man from employing his own family. He can sweat his own children if he likes.
– I quite agree that children ought not to be allowed to be sweated. I have always been a child’s champion : but, at the same time, there is a fair and reasonable thing to be done. If children cannot work for their parents, what are they to do between the ages of twelve and fifteen? Many children leave school at twelve, and their parents cannot afford to send them down to town for a higher education.
Employers shall pay to each of their employees all moneys due to them at least once in each week. Any employee working only portion of a week must be paid before ceasing work for all time worked during that week. Week in this clause shall be from the usual time of starting work on the Saturday morning to the usual time of knocking off on the following Friday. 4. Any aged or infirm worker shall be allowed to make an agreement with his employer to work at a lesser rate than the ordinary rate.
So that the aged and infirm man is not to be allowed to earn a penny unless he goes humbly to the union and asks for permission to gain his daily bread. That is a nice condition of affairs.
The employer shall give the workman a letter stating the rate of wages to be paid and the class of work to be performed, and the workman shall deliver this letter to the secretary of the union or local representative thereof, who shall then issue to the workman a provisional permit allowing the workman to start work immediately, and to work pending investigation of his case. No such agreement shall have force till approved of by the union, and such approval shall be evidenced by certificate under the seal of the union and signed by the secretary. No such agreement shall be for a longer period than six months. No subletting, sub-contracting, or other similar system shall be permitted unless provision be made in such contract or system that the term of this log be incorporated therein. 6. Piece-work shall be abolished, excepting on terms as provided by this log. 7. All time spent in going to and from work to be included in time worked, and, where work is carried on away from homestead, suitable meals and sleeping conveniences for the employees shall be provided by the employer. 8. The registered officer of the union, or his duly authorized deputy, shall have the right to visit and inspect any farm, factory, or place where it is reported to him that a breach of this log is occurring, and shall have facility granted to him to investigate such alleged breach. These powers are to be exercised only after notice being given to the employer in writing of intent to do so, and shall be exercised with as little interference with the work being carried on as possible. Overtime rates shall not apply to time spent travelling. Should any employee be employed at higher-grade work than that at which he is ordinarily engaged for any portion of a dai he shall be paid for such day at the higher rate. 9. That in the event of the employers adopting this log, or other log approved at conference with the association by the employers, and registered as an industrial agreement, the association will establish in each of the State Capitals a bureau where a list of all available employees seeking employment will be kept, and the association will facilitate the engagement of suitable men by the employers through these offices as far as possible. 10. Overtime rates on public holidays, when not already provided in log, time and half the time. n. Public holidays shall mean New Year’s Day, A.N. A. Day Eight Hours Day, Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, King’s Birthday, and any other day proclaimed as such in any State of the Commonwealth (within the limits of the State wherein it is proclaimed). 12. Task system shall not be permitted. 13. All rates in above log are the minimum rates for the respective tradings of employees. 14. That when an employee is engaged in future, suitable times shall be arranged for his meal hours, allowing at least one hour for each meal. All work done during meal hour shall be paid for at the rate of double time. On the coming into force of this log, suitable meal hours shall be fixed for all employees at present engaged, allowing one hour for each meal, and all work done during such meal time shall be paid for at the rate of double time. 15. If payment of wages be by cheque, then exchange shall be added to such cheque if not drawn on a local bank. 16. Employees engaged working “ broken time “ shall receive 25 per cent, above ordinary rates of weekly hands, as herein provided. 17. The rating and classification of employees according to the duties performed by them in the various industries as set forth in this log shall be adopted in those industries.
Such are the proposals of the Rural Workers’ Union.
– That is not the Labour platform.”
– It is the platform of the Rural Workers’ Union, and it is going to be placed before the Arbitration Court. There is nothing in this Bill to provide that the Court is to exercise any discrimination in dealing with the varying conditions of the industries carried on in the country districts.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Court could not vary its awards?
– There is nothing here to show that it could.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the document which he has read is going to become law ?
– No; but Senator W. Russell asked certain questions, and was told that there was nothing in the Bill as to the payment of ros. a day. I am showing the honorable senator, and the country, the sort of demands that will be made upon the farmer. This afternoon I raised the question of exempting agricultural industries from the Bill. I have stated at length the very strong reasons why, in my opinion, a hard-and-fast system cannot be applied to them. It is quite impossible that any man sitting on a Bench and issuing awards can regulate all the agricultural industries of Australia. The thing is simply preposterous. I move -
That after the word “water,” line 8, the following words be inserted : - “ excepting persons engaged in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural or dairying pursuits.”
I do not know whether it will be necessary if this amendment is carried to add the same words at the close of paragraphs b and c, but I can test the opinion of the Committee now, and that matter can be decided afterwards.
– I think that Senators Sayers and McColl ought to know that the Arbitration Court will have the power to discriminate, and that that Court has already exercised that power. In connexion with Wages Boards also, discrimination is used, and we find that a different wage is paid to a man who drives one horse from that paid to a man who drives two horses, or three horses. In the same way in the case of the Enginedrivers versus the Broken Hill Proprietary by the decision of the Arbitration Court a different rate of wages was fixed for different classes of engine-drivers. So that all this talk about the minimum wage becoming the maximum, and the difficulties of the Judge of the Arbitration Court is only so much moonshine. I got up only to say that apparently honorable senators opposite are determined not to allow progress to be made. I have already spoken to Senator Chataway, who raised an objection to clause 8 in connexion with prohibition, and I agreed that if we went as far as clause 8 to-night I should be satisfied. But if honorable senators opposite intend deliberately to keep us here until after the last trams and trains have left, it will be necessary for us to sit all night and put through the whole Bill.
– That is a threat.
– it is nota threat; it is a statement. Thehonorable senator knows that I had a conversation with him on the subject this afternoon. We desire that what is reasonable shall be done, but we will not be forced into an invidious position by the threats which have already been made by some honorablesenators opposite.
– We will divide on Senator McColl’s amendment at once, if the honorable senator will report progress afterwards.
– I am prepared to do what I told Senator Chataway this afternoon I would do. I am prepared to stand by my agreement with him to go on as far as clause 8 to which he has raisedserious objection. I think that would be reasonable progress to make.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council contends that the Arbitration Court will have the power to exercise discrimination. In North Queensland, in the mining industry, men are paid from ros. to- £4per week of forty-four hours, and I contend that the Judge of the Arbitration Court will not be able to fix a different rate of wages for the same craft all over the Commonwealth.
– Yes, he will.
– Different Wages Boards might do that, but the Judge of the Arbitration Court will not be able to do it.
– He did it in connexion with the shearers’ award.
– He did not, and the honorable senator knows as well as I do that the shearers are not satisfied with that award.
– He fixed different rates of pay for similar work in differentparts of the Commonwealth.
– I read the evidence in the case, and the Judge’s award, and I know that it is not satisfactory to the men engaged in the industry. An award applying to the whole of the engine-drivers of Australia cannot be satisfactory. In Western Australia I suppose that wages are no lower than they are in Queensland.
– They are much higher.
– I do not know that they are. Quoting from the Victorian Government Gazette of Thursday, 10th August, I find this award stated -
Engine-drivers in charge of winding engines, is. 3d. per hour, or 60s. per week of 48 hours.
– That is the maximum.
– I am aware of that. If the contention of honorable senators opposite is correct the Judge of the Arbitration Court will have to make an award applying to engine-drivers in all of the States.
– Why could he not do so?
– The honorable senator may get up later on and show me where that has been done. There is nothing in this Bill to direct the Judge of the Arbitration Court to discriminate between engine-drivers employed in the different States, and he will not attempt to override an Act of this Parliament. If we take the case of the shearers’ award we shall find that practically the only variation in the award as applying to shearers in the different States is intended to cover the difference in the cost of provisions where they are not supplied by the employer. Under this Bill the Judge of the Arbitration Court will have to bring wages in Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia up to the level of wages paid in Western Australia and Queensland. Do honorable senators opposite contend that that is the intention of the Bill, or that that is what is going to be done ? We know that it is not. I cannot see anything in this Bill giving the Court power to vary the award as applied to different States, but I can easily see that it is very likely that an attempt may be made to level down in some States, and level up in others, in order to fix a minimum wage, and the employers will then be able to say, “ This is the wage fixed by the Court. It is all you can claim, and it is all we shall pay.” That is what I am afraid of. In the case of the shearers’ award, something like that was done, and no one knows better than does Senator Gardiner that that award has not been favorably received by the shearers’ unions. In the mining industry in Victoria a week of forty-eight hours is paid for, but for the last thirty-seven years on
Charters Towers an eight-hours’ day, with four hours on the Saturday, has been the established rule.
– That is a good idea.
– It is, and that was done without any union, and without any award. It was not done by the Labour party, because it did not then exist. It was done by the mine-owners themselves thirtyseven years ago. But under this Bill the miners on Charters Towers may be told that they must work for forty-eight hours per week, because miners in Victoria, and other States are called upon to do so.
– Did the Charters Towers miners get the eight-hours’ day without a struggle?
– Yes ; they did. There was never a strike there because, without referring to the honorable’ senator personally, men like him were kept away altogether, and they are the cause of trouble.
– The honorable senator has an infernal cheek.
– When the honorable senator talks about cheek I say that I am prepared to give him the palm.
– Half the men on Charters Towers were sacked at one tune when the honorable senator was up for an election.
– That is only a little of the usual gag we get from gentlemen of the honorable senator’s kidney. I am prepared to go with him to Charters Towers and challenge him to prove his statement. It is like many other statements which are made from the other side, but when honorable senators are challenged to prove them they fail to do so. Men may have been sacked on Charters Towers because they could not do their work, but whenever a man is dismissed from his employment the members of the Labour party say that he has been sacked for his opinions. Such a thing never happened on Charters Towers, and I hope never will. According to the published statement I find that drivers, other than those who drive winding engines, receive only 50s. a week in Victoria. We shall” very likely have conditions brought about which have not previously existed. The Court may say, for example, “ All that you are entitled to claim is £5 or £5 ros. per week.” I object to the Bill upon that ground’. But other persons are employed in the industry, such as learners, apprentices, and improvers. During the first year they receive 20s. per week of forty-eight hours, during the second year 30s. per week, and during the third year 40s. per week. My information is derived from the Victorian Government Gazette. Western Australia, I believe, pays wages equally as good as does Queensland.
– Very much better.
– I do not think so. Tn Victoria engine-drivers are paid from 50s. to 60s. per week, and learners from 20s. to 40s. per week. He is a very poor man indeed who cannot learn to drive an engine in less than three years; but until he has learnt he receives only 40s. per week. I have no desire to see that scale of wages applied to Queensland. If there were anything in the Bill which permitted the President of the Arbitration Court to discriminate between employes, my objection to the clause would disappear. Senator McColl has already dealt with the case of engine-drivers who are employed in agricultural and dairying pursuits. I venture to say that if the Bill is to apply to enginedrivers, irrespective of where they are employed, we shall provide the President of the Court with plenty of work. In my opinion, we shall require the services of half-a-dozen additional Justices. I would also point out that it is not unlikely that the President of one Court may give a somewhat different award from the President of another. It is impossible to divide engine-drivers into different groups, except by saying that those who are engaged in certain industries shall have the right to appear before a particular Justice. Would that be right ? Why not allow these industrial disputes to be settled by Wages Boards in the localities in which they arise? If we abolish Wages Boards, I shall be extremely sorry, because I do not think that the Bill will provide a satisfactory substitute for them. Under it if a man is resident in the north of Queensland, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, sitting in Melbourne, will have power to compel Eis attendance here under a penalty of £500. That is an immense power to place in the hands of a Judge, especially as there is no appeal from his decision. I am afraid that by this provision we shall injure a large number of workmen. Unless we can prevent the President of the Court from establishing a mean wage in any industry, it will be better to entirely eliminate the provision. In the district in which I reside, there was at one time a population of 25,000, and during the past thirty-seven years no strikes have occurred there. The employes and the employers mix together, and there has never been any ill blood between them. The only matters upon which they differ are political. I hope that this Bill will not contain any clause which is calculated to provoke an industrial disturbance in that district.
– So far I have not occupied any time in discussing this measure ; but T am now going to assist my honorable friends by prolonging the debate. I think a great many of the very morbid prophecies which have been made regarding this clause will be falsified. I fancy that those honorable senators who ventured to indulge in such predictions themselves recognise that their fears are without foundation. They ask that in this clause some indication of the intention of the Legislature should be inserted for the guidance of the Court. But I would point out that, in connexion with our criminal law, we have never attempted to define what a Judge shall do, for example, in a murder case.
-Colonel Cameron. - Is this Bill on a par with criminal law ?
– The illustration is. We have never compelled a Judge to say whether any case is one of murder or of manslaughter. We have never definitely laid down any instruction as to howhe shall act in connexion with any particular measure.
– I wish to call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– I would ask honorable senators opposite whether they think for a moment that the President of the , Arbitration Court will consider it essential that a certificated engine-driver should be appointed to drive a milking machine? It does seem so utterly ridiculous that those honorable senators who have urged that view must have done so very blushingly, or otherwise be ashamed of themselves for doing it.
– What about a number five chaff-cutter ?
– I admit that I know very little about a number five chaffcutter. But I know that when the evidence is produced in the Court, the President will take into his consideration not only the actual conditions of the industry concerned, but also the position of any men who are employed to perform certain services in connexion with chaff-cutting. If the responsibility of the position demands that a number five chaff-cutter should.be in the charge of a certificated engine-driver, he shall be there as far as I am concerned. If, however, that is not necessary, I feel quite satisfied that the President of the Court will have sufficient wisdom to be able to discriminate between a number five chaffcutter and a number five anything else.
– It puts through a ton of chaff in less than three-quarters of an hour.
– I have admitted straight out that I do not know anything about chaff -cutting. The object of this proposal is simply to take away certain limitations which ought never to have been made. I think that the members of the Opposition will give credit to myself and several others for pointing out at the time that every man in the community had an inherent right to approach some tribunal for the adjustment of an industrial dispute. If a man has a legitimate dispute with his employer, and he thinks that his services are not sufficiently recompensed, surely there is no logical reason why he should not have access to a tribunal which will give him what he thinks is something like a fair deal. That is all that the provision aims at. Hitherto, our law has provided that certain persons shall not have the right to go before the Arbitration Court. Agricultural or rural workers . were excluded because there was in each branch of the Parliament, a majority sufficiently strong to prevent us from bringing them under the Act. But surely that does not establish a prima facie case why they should never be brought under the Act. I hold that the rural labourer is just as much a subject for justice as is any other man, no matter what avocation he may be employed in.
– What about the employer ?
– I believe that the employer will get a fair and just deal at the hands of the Arbitration Court. Why is my honorable friend so timid about the interests of the employer ? Why cannot the employer, if he has a case at all, establish it before the Court.
– You forget about preference to unionists, scabs, and black-legs.
– I believe in preference to unionists. I do not care a snap of the fingers about a scab. He is a sort of valueless humbug whom no one need care very much about.
– You would shoot him on sight, would you not?
– No j because he is unworthy of powder and shot.
– What is a scab?
– He is a crawling creature who uses his best endeavour to live upon the efforts of other persons.
– And you consider that a member of the Free Workers Association is a scab?
– I am sorry that I took notice of the interjections from the other side. We are attempting to prepare a pathway for every man - and for every woman too - who is engaged in an industrial occupation, no matter what it may be. There is no more reason why a domestic servant should be imposed upon than a man who works in a mine. If a girl feels that she is being unjustly treated, there ought to be a possibility for her to get her grievance remedied. With regard to domestic servants, while some of them may have a .good time, there are others who must rise early every morning, and often continue at work until late at night, and then not have a bed of roses to lie on. They should have access to a tribunal which will hear any case they may desire to state. Again, why should labourers not be able to approach the Court, and state their case? Senator Walker made an appeal on behalf of the voluntary system of arbitration. T was connected with the first voluntary Arbitration Court held in Australia, but after the taking of evidence had lasted for seven or eight days, and an award had been made, it was flouted by the employers. The workers have learned that the voluntary system is a failure.
– The people of New Zealand are opposed to the continuance of the compulsory system. They are tired of it-
– They have done remarkably well under it, and their opinions in regard to it are only a matter of conjecture. The clause will give the right to every toiler who thinks himself or herself insufficiently paid for the services rendered to state a case to a tribunal empowered to award “adequate recompense.
– Earlier in the evening, Senator McColl stated that the Rural Workers’ Union desires that farm labourers shall cease work at noon on Saturdays. Now, as Sir Thomas Ewing pointed out in another place a few years ago, the cow is not known which will need milking only on six days in the week.
– What has that to do with the Bill?
– The law as it stood originally excluded persons engaged in dairying pursuits from the definition of “ Industry,” but that exemption was struck out. It is proposed, too, to bring agriculturists under the Arbitration Court. My wife, who is very fond of flowers, sometimes accompanies me to Melbourne, and on such occasions we always visit a flower and vegetable garden at Camberwell belonging to an old Queenslander. When we were there last week, we noticed that his son was absent, and, on inquiring the cause, were told that the son being nineteen, and the father unable to pay him a wage of 30s. a week, he had to go elsewhere, and as a consequence the old man does the work of the place as best he can alone. Domestic servants are in a more independent position than any other body of employes in Australia, and can command reasonable wages. I know many persons in Sydney willing to pay £1 a week, who cannot get servants. Senator Sayers told us to-night, and I know from personal experience that it is not uncommon, that men on the Queensland goldfields in the far north receive from £3 10s. to £4. per week, and a Western Australian senator said that in his State miners get as much as £5 a week. In Victoria the conditions are very different. But if a minimum wage were fixed for the whole industry, it would probably not be more than £2 10s. a week, and as the tendency is for the minimum to become the maximum wage, the miners as a whole would suffer.
– The honorable senator need not be afraid.
– Although not a manual labourer, I have always been a worker, and when occasion has required I have not been afraid to work eighty hours a week. Nowadays there does not seem to be the kindly feeling, the sense of honour, the esprit de corps among employes that there used to be. In my time I never knew a bank officer object to work after hours if the necessity arose, and extra pay was never heard of.
– If he would not work after hours he got the sack.
– Nonsense ! A man gets promotion if he shows his loyalty, which does not consist in giving so much work for so much wages, but in looking after the employer’s interests. I believe in voluntary conciliation; and with it, when the right spirit is shown on both sides, the result is always satisfactory. I see that in New Zealand the employes themselves are getting tired of compulsory arbitration. Some allusion has been made to “ scabs,” and I understand that there is some trouble at Hoskins’ works because of “ scab “- handled material, while similar trouble will, I am afraid, arise on farms. That is what is called “liberty of the subject,” but I call it tyranny. Australia would never have gone ahead under such conditions, because what is essentially necessary is individual liberty.
– Did not the honorable senator’s banker friends threaten to “ strike “ if we passed the Australian NotesBill?
– As the honorable member will see, in a few weeks, when the report is issued, the bank of which I am a director has taken£2,200,000 worth of Australian notes, and paid£1 for each of them.
– All interjections are disorderly; and I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss the Australian Notes Act.
– If this Bill be carried, we shall possibly find ourselves paying 5s. per lb. for butter, because the farmer must charge more in order to make up for the big wages.
– It is matter of regret that the Government should not consent to an adjournment, seeing that the whole interest of the Bill centres in this particular clause. I am prepared, on behalf of honorable senators on this side, to allow all clauses to clause 8 to pass, provided that paragraph b of the clause under discussion be postponed.
– The honorable senator is too late with that suggestion.
– I may say that I am against the amendment proposed by Senator McColl, for reasons which I submitted in the debate on the second reading. It would perhaps be as well for Senator McColl to withdraw his amendment, although it is perfectly in order. If the Bill were passed with rural industries excluded, those industries would be left, like
Mahomet’s coffin, suspended between Heaven and earth, getting no benefit from either law, because this law is going, to a large extent, to destroy the Wages Boards. I should prefer to see them come under a Wages Board law ; but, failing that, I think they should come under an Arbitration Act. I propose to move an amendment in paragraph b ; but I understand that the Government have issued a ukase, although we have legitimately debated the Bill, and there has been no waste of time on our part - the longest and silliest speeches have been made on the other side - that the Bill must be put through.
– I desire to point out some of the difficulties under which agriculture is carried on in this country, in order to enlist the sympathy of honorable senators opposite, who seem to be so hard on the farmers to-night. I have here the Year-book of Agriculture of Victoria.
– Give us an essay on dry farming.
– That is a very important matter, and I do not know how Australia is to progress unless a great deal of attention is to be given to it. Onethird of the whole continent has a rainfall of under 10 inches, another third a rainfall of from 10 to 20 inches, and another above 20 inches.
– The honorable member will find all his farming in the dust-bin.
– I have never professed to be anything but a recorder of what other people have done in that regard ; but I have been able to give the people of this country much information, which, I think, will help diem a great deal. I have done that without fee or reward, purely as a labour of love, and it should not be thrown up at me by way of a sneer. I have given my time and money, and what little ability I have, to let the people of Australia know what is being done elsewhere on land similar to our own to support population and increase production. If the Government desire to encourage agriculture in Australia, and to settle the Northern Territory, they should at once set about establishing experimental farms throughout that region. There are various kinds of agriculture, and a man accustomed to cultivating land in a humid district would simply be lost if put in a dry district, and vice versa. These might almost be called separate callings. A man requires a training for each, and therefore I advise the Government to be as lenient as they can with the agricultural industry, to put upon it as few embargoes as possible, and especially not to bring it within the purview of the Arbitration Court. I know the feeling of the farmers in regard to this matter. Throughout the Commonwealth this debate will be very keenly watched by them ;. they are very restive and impatient, and ‘feel that they are not being given fair treatment. The farmer has to meet ali sorts of difficulties from the time that he takes up his land, and deserves the best treatment we can give him. The rural industries are the backbone of this country, and if we do not support them they will surely go down. We have over ^70,000,000 of exports that come from the soil, and that money enriches this country. We ought not to put upon the farmer any more burdens than we can possibly help. There are in this book some interesting articles, the reading of which I have no doubt will advance the cause of agricultural education. It is stated -
For lack of plan many farms fail to pay.. Order prevents waste, and to secure the highest average returns and live in solid comfort should be the aim of every one dealing with the soil. Under a sound system of farming the more land is cultivated, cropped, and stocked the better it becomes; but unfortunately, the reverse is the rule.
– The honorable member is not in order in pursuing that line of argument. The system of farming to which he refers has not much connexion with the question before the Chair.
– I think I am quite in order. I have moved an amendment to exempt the industries of agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, and dairying from the operation of the clause. I claim that I should be allowed to put before the Committee the position of any industry, how it is carried on, and the difficulties it has to encounter.
– So far as the honorable senator had gone, he had not dealt with any of those questions.
– I shall deal with one of the great drawbacks that the farmers have to encounter in the shape of pests. There is a pest known as St. John’s Wort, which is spreading rapidly in the northwestern district of Victoria. That is not the only pest, but it is a very serious one.
– The honorable senator is not in order in continuing that line of argument. I wish to give him every latitude, but I must ask him to keep as closely as possible to the subject before the Chair.
– If I am not allowed to show the conditions under which the farming industry has to be conducted I shall discontinue my remarks: .
- Senator McColl has referred to the insect pests with which farmers have to contend. I have a statement before me showing that, in six months, in Queensland, no fewer than 17½ tons of beetles were killed.
– Beetles do not come under the arbitration law.
– There are two sorts of beetles.
– The honorable senator is not in order in pursuing that line of argument. He may make allusion to beetles as an illustration, but he will not be in order in going into details concerning them.
– If I cannot talk about beetles I have an article here about the wire-worm. But I am afraid that that would be out of order also. I point out that the seriousness of the present position is that the Government propose to alter the whole meaning of the word “industry.” Personally, I do not believe that rural industries should be excluded from the benefits of Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts. But by instituting the system of craft industrialism the Government have adopted a method which I believe will break down-. As I said earlier in the evening I do not think they are serious about it. The whole thing is a placard. The original Arbitration Act, passed in 1904, defined “ Industry “ as “a business or manufacture, undertaking, service, or employment on land or water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage or rewa rd . “ B ut the Act excepted ‘ ‘ persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, or dairying pursuits. ‘ ‘ The amending Act of 1910 left out those excepting words. I have no objection to their omission.
Sitting suspended from midnight to
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator McColl’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
In division :
Question resolved in the negative.
– We have not yet been told how persons who are not represented by an organization are to get before the Court. I believe that in this Bill the Government are entering upon a new track without knowing where it will lead them. The result will be greater expense and less satisfaction than has been experienced under the existing Act. I believe, also, that it will be found that this Bill will be ruled unconstitutional by the High Court.
– I move -
That after the word “ employment,” line 9, the words “ except under the control of the Commonwealth or of a State,” be inserted.
I have, in this amendment, followed as closely as I could the verbiage of the Act of 1910, and I ask the Committee to insert these words after the word “ employment,” so that they may not affect a Commonwealth handicraft or industrial occupation or avocation of employes on land or water. What I desire to do is to make the definite distinction which I drew in my speech on the second reading and to provide that where Commonwealth or State enterprises are in competition with private enterprise the employes of the Commonwealth and of the State shall have the right to go before the same Court as the employes of private persons for a decision as to the conditions of their employment. I take it that the words “ any calling, service, or employment “ will cover the case of employes of the Post and Telegraph Department and the Customs Department. They are the two principal services of the Commonwealth.
– Not the Defence Department ?
– I do not think there is any hope that I shall be able to carry my amendment, but if it should be necessary later, I am prepared to move a subsequent amendment exempting the employes of the Defence Department. We are making a new departure.
– The honorable senator should have moved his amendment on the previous clause.
– I had no previous opportunity to submit it. On the motion for the second reading of the Bill, I intimated that I proposed to move such an amendment, and I also gave a contingent notice of motion which would have had the same effect if the second reading of the Bill had not been carried to-day. What I desire to make clear is that in the words used in the petition signed by 4,000 persons, and presented to another place, the High Court of Appeal for Commonwealth or State employes should be the Parliament, which has to vote the money to pay them. We shall make a grave mistake if we allow this power to pass away from the Parliament, and the public servants will themselves suffer considerably. It is wrong in principle for any Parliament to allow its employes to have their wages regulated by some outside body.
– Why should the Parliament give away its right to fix the wages of its own employes? Parliament should have the right not only to regulate the amount of wages to be paid, but to determine the method in which the money necessary to pay its employes shall be raised. Practically the same issue has been before the world for 400 or 500 years. It has always been urged that Parliament, and not an outside body, or a Judge, or the King himself, should determine the public expenditure. The Parliament should have the right to fix the wages of the public servants of the Commonwealth, and the latter in turn should continue to have the right, which they at present enjoy, of appealing to Parliament if they feel they are being badly treated. We now propose that the Public Service shall be able to flout their employers, who have to find the money to pay them by taxing the public, and to ask a Justice of the High Court to regulate wages, and to order the elected representatives of the people, in effect, to impose the taxation necessary to pay their wages. Such a principle is absolutely rotten. It is subversive of all those principles on which public finance and public employment have hitherto been carried on. I ask the Government to pause before landing themselves in the Serbonian bog of trouble in which the passing of this provision will place them. Mr. Justice Higgins spoke of being placed in a Serbonian bog of difficulties, but that is a mere puddle compared with the bog in which this proposal on the part of the Government will land us. I honestly believe that this Parliament will make a very serious mistake if it allows any outside body to fix the wages and conditions of employment of the very persons whom the Parliament itself has to employ and pay. A private individual is responsible only to himself, out this Parliament is responsible to the taxpayers of the country.
– When the parent measure of 1904 was under consideration, the honorable senator’s party supported the very provision he is now opposing.
– Then so much the worse for them. If I remember rightly, the Government which brought in the original measure was led by Sir Edmund Barton, and was supported by the Labour party.
– And supported by the honorable senator’s party.
– What was my party in those days?
– The Black Labour party.
– Then, according to the honorable senator’s logic, the White Labour party was, in the first instance, backing up the Black Labour party in support of this proposal. The Government are making a great mistake, and it will be regretted by future Parliaments, and also by the public servants themselves, if, in spite of the protests of the latter, they transfer the regulation of the wages and conditions of labour of the men they employ to a Judge, who, in the words of Mr. Holman, when speaking at Brisbane in 1908, constitutes a judicial tribunal unmovable and unassailable.
– It is difficult to foretell how the Government proposal is going to work out, but, like Senator Chataway, I do not think it will prove satisfactory. It may work well, but it has yet to be tried. I cannot understand why the Government have submitted such a proposition. It may probably be that they do not want to be bothered with public servants who desire to secure higher salaries. They are proposing to hand over to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court the power to fix their wages and conditions of labour, so that when they appeal to them they will be able to say, “You must go to the- Court ; we have nothing to do with the matter.” The Government are proposing to give to an outside body a power that the Parliament itself ought to retain. We ought to be able to manage our
Own service without invoking the assistance of any Court. We often hear the Public Service Commissioner roundly abused. That, to my mind, is very wrong. He is a buffer between the service and the public, and has tried to do his duty. Even if he has seemed occasionally to be severe, I am sure that he has always acted in what he believes to be the best interests of the public. We can do no more than enter our protest against this provision.
– This provision seems to have been an oversight in the drafting of the Bill. I am surprised that the Government should propose to take from Parliament the power to fix the salaries and conditions of labour of employes of the Commonwealth. The public servants themselves do not want that which the Government are offering them. They prefer to remain under parliamentary control.
– They are under the Public Service Commissioner, and not tinder parliamentary control.
– Then why do they petition Parliament? I have frequently heard honorable senators declaim about the wrongs suffered by our public servants. If the latter had not been “under the control of Parliament their utterances would have represented only so much bosh. We ought not to relinquish our right to fix the emoluments of all officers in the employment of the Commonwealth. When the Estimates are presented each year we have before us practically the whole of the salaries pay able to our public servants, and we are at liberty to rise in our places and advocate a reduction of those salaries.
– Parliament is the least competent body to classify our public servants.
– Who is competent to classify them - a Judge of the High Court ?
– The man who has been specially deputed to inquire into the matter.
– We have such an officer in tha person of the Public Service Commissioner.
– The Public Service Commissioner controls Parliament to-day.
– Some honorable senators take up a very peculiar position. They denounce tha Public Service Commissioner and declare that he usurps the functions of Parliament. But I would point out that he can exercise only the powers which have been conferred upon him by Parliament. Yet we are now asked to endow a Judge of the High Court with even greater powers. Further, our public servants do not wish to come under the operation of this Bill. Why should we compel them to resort to a tribunal to which they have no desire to appeal? The Government are anxious to escape the obligation to control our civil servants. We were told the other day by the Postmaster- General that our telegraph operators worked on an average only five and a quarter or five and a half hours per day. But already that statement has been denied by the men themselves, who declare -that they work from eight to ten hours daily.
– The operators in Brisbane say that they work eleven and a quarter hours daily.
– Under this Bill, if the President of the Arbitration Court decided that these men must work ten hours per day, they would have no option but to obey his award. The Government are forcing this Bill upon the public servants of the Commonwealth. I would like to know whether the members of this Parliament have not a better knowledge of the duties which our public servants are called upon to discharge than has the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I think that we have. Yet it is proposed to compel Commonwealth employes to appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court for the redress of their grievances. The adoption of suda a course will not redound to the credit of Parliament.
– If a telegraph operator appealed to the honorable senator to do something for him, what course would he adopt?
– I would lay his case before the Postmaster-General, and I believe that if the Minister throught he could honestly represent to the Public Service Commissioner that the individual was labouring under a disability, the Public Service Commissioner would seek to remove it.
– The Commissioner has over and over again invited our public servants to state their grievances if they have any.
– Exactly. The Government are anxious to get rid of their obligation to do justice to the civil servants all round. They desire to place a buffer between themselves and our own officers. 1 very much doubt whether we have the power to interfere with the public servants of the States and to authorize the President of the Arbitration Court to regulate their salaries.
– Under this Bill the whole of the teachers employed in the Education Departments of the States would be at liberty to appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– The Arbitration Court win then be above, not only the Federal Parliament, but the State Parliaments. I cannot understand why this proposal is submitted, but if the Government think that it is a right thing to do, and will accept no amendment of the clause, they must take the responsibility. I do not know how they intend to vote, but I believe that a good many honorable senators agree with me that Parliament should retain this power in its own hands.
– At first I thought that the Opposition were deliberately trying to misrepresent what the Government is seeking to do, but after listening to this “stone- wall “ for some time, I am satisfied that they simply do not understand the proposal. Senator Sayers has stated that we are trying to force public servants to go to the Arbitration Court with their grievances. We are not seeking to do anything of the kind, but to simply give public servants the privilege of going to that Court if they please. What is the position which the honorable senator is so anxious to maintain? He desires that Parliament shall retain the right to redress any grievance, and he has stated that if any public officer came to him with a grievance he would bring it before the Postmaster-General. How absurd it is to suggest that members of Parliament have the time to understand all the difficulties with which the managers of a great public concern are faced. Take, for instance, the Post and Telegraph Department, with its numerous branches. What nonsense it is to say that the PostmasterGeneral can grasp all the difficulties which surround its administration, and remedy grievances. It is true that under the present Government very much has been done in that direction. Many thousands of pounds have been added to the earnings of postal officials, but that is only a drop in a bucket. In private employment a man who is dissatisfied with his rate of pay or conditions of work can seek another position, but that is not the case with a telegraphist. I think that the proposal of the Government will appeal to the common sense of public servants. If they do not want a proper tribunal established to hear their grievances, and give them a fair deal, they should. If they want more than a fair deal ‘they will not get it from Parliament. Hitherto it has been backward in giving them either fair hours or reasonable conditions. It has been stated that postal officers in Brisbane are working eleven and twelve hours a day. I feel sure that if the Postmaster-General were convinced of that not one day would pass before a remedy was provided. It shows the difficulties which face the men at the head of this Department when they cannot get the information which Senator Sayers has placed before the Committee.
– It was published in the press in Brisbane.
– If any postal officials in New South Wales were working, to my knowledge, twelve hours a day, I would not wait for them to lay their grievance before me, but would proceed to get it remedied at once. What has Senator Sayers done to remedy the alleged grievances of the postal officials in Brisbane? If they have to wait on members of Parliament will their grievances ever be remedied? In a period of ten years it has not provided a remedy. That is a very good reason for giving public servants an opportunity of appealing, to a tribunal where they will have a chance to get a fair deal and reasonable conditions. This clause will not force one man in the Public Service to appeal to the Arbitration Court. It will only be when he finds that his grievance is not remedied by the Government or the Parliament that he will have the opportunity of appealing to the Court. If such a system had been established ten years ago, we should have had none of the fearful muddle into which the Opposition party allowed the Post and Telegraph Department to drift. We are rapidly getting away from the muddle which was brought about by the parliamentary management of a huge concern, which, in the absence of 1 knowledge of the working conditions, members of Parliament could not manage in an effective way. Senator Sayers may have the right to speak for one or two public servants, but not for the whole of the Public Service.
– Do you call 4,000 one or two?
– It has been stated by the honorable senator that 4,000 officers in the Post and Telegraph Department have petitioned Parliament against this proposal to empower the Arbitration Court to hear, and, if necessary, to redress, their grievances. That statement has been made in the Senate. It may be that the petitioners, like Senator Sayers, do not understand the provision, and are unaware that they will have the option of appealing or refraining from doing so. If they are satisfied with their conditions, they will have no reason to appeal. The question that presents itself to my mind is, Should not the method of settling industrial disputes which it is best to apply to the public generally apply also to the Public Service? Even under the worst Wages Boards the conditions of the workers have improved, and I am in favour of giving to the public servants the advantages enjoyed by the ordinary taxpayer.
– Senator Chataway has moved to exempt Commonwealth and State employes, but if that is done a privileged class will be established. He had a great deal to say about Parliament’s control of the purse, and argued that Parliament should fix the wages of the Public Service; but those who, by the payment of taxes, provide the public purse, are willing to submit their claims to the Arbitration Court. It has been objected that the public servants do not trust the Court, but no honorable senator knows whether that is so. Although I have come into contact with public servants in many branches who are in favour of the provisions in the Bill, I could not speak for the whole service, and say that it was in favour of the provision. Personally I have always thought that the public servants should not be exempt from an Act which applies to other citizens. As a matter of fact, Parliament has practically nothing to do with the Public Service. The destiny of every individual in the service is in the hands of the Commissioner, who is vested with autocratic powers ; and there are thousands of public servants who cannot get their grievances stated. The Ministerial head of the Department has no more power in these matters than an ordinary member of Parliament, and can only reply to representations, “ The matter must be referred to the Public Service Commissioner.” Surely when a public servant is not satisfied with his conditions he should be enabled to appeal to the Arbitration Court, which will hear both sides, and give an impartial decision on the facts. But that is not the position to-day of either the Commonwealth or the State public servants. There are many in the Commonwealth Public Service who have been practically damned by confidential reports made without their knowledge, and suddenly launched when least expected. What chance of justice is there under such circumstances ? At any rate, an appeal to the Arbitration Court would present an opportunity to get this pernicious system abolished. If an employe is guilty of any misconduct, he should be made acquainted with the nature of the charge. I believe that if a referendum were taken a vast majority of the public servants would be willing to leave their destinies in the hands of the Court. There is no taking away from Parliament any responsibility - there is no shirking of any responsibility on the part of Parliament. The idea simply is to give the Commonwealth public servants the right of appeal that is given to all other citizens in the Commonwealth ; and I hope the amendment will not be adopted.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [1.40 a.m.]. - Senator Gardiner and Senator Needham have so clearly stated the case for the Government that I cannot under stand how it is that Ministers, even at this late hour, do not realize that they are asking Parliament to throw aside its responsibility. I could under- stand a tribunal being created in order to deal with questions between private firms and institutions and their employes; but for the Government to throw aside the control of their own servants is a piece of gratuitous timidity. Are we to deal with our soldiers on the same lines? Are our soldiers, on whom we have ultimately to depend for the maintenance of law and order, to have an appeal to a tribunal entirely separate from the Government? If our soldiers cannot get redress from the Government, can it be suggested that an appeal to a tribunal of this sort will make them any more loyal?
– Does the honorable senator not think that soldiers will fight as well on 8s. a day as they do on 2s. a day ?
-Colonel CAMERON. - We have to do justice to the people, and not shirk our responsibilities. If there is anything in the argument of the honorable senator, it means the abrogation of the responsibilities of Parliament; and the next question is whether the representatives of the people should have any power left in their hands ? The proposal of the Government really sets up a Court superior to Parliament ; and if Ministers will reconsider the question, it will be better for themselves and the country.
– Had it not been for the fact that Senator Cameron seldom addresses the Chamber, and that his utterances are always marked by the utmost earnestness, I should not have addressed the Committee on this clause. I feel that Senator Cameron does not fully appreciate the position. When Parliament vested the control of the Public Service in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner, that was not a step taken without consideration. We thought it was better to fix wages and regulate conditions in the service in that way than to leave the matter to Parliament.
-Colonel Cameron. - But we still have control over the Public Service Commissioner. We have none over a Judge of the High Court, or if we have we destroy the traditions of the Bench.
– The traditions of the Bench of an Arbitration Court are entirely different from those of an ordinary Court. Parliament, by giving the public servants this additional means of getting their grievances redressed, is parting with no more power than it has parted with already to the Public Service Commissioner.
The Royal Commission which was recently appointed to inquire into the conditions brought about in the Postal Department by tha appointment of the Public Service Commissioner, found that a great deal of discontent had resulted from his rule of the service. Most of this arose from the fact that there was no appeal from his decisions, he having the full power to regulate wages and conditions of employment. We propose to give a power beyond the Commissioner. If any class of public servants is discontented with the salaries or conditions fixed by him, we say they may appeal to the Arbitration Court. An additional privilege is thus being given to the service. We are not curtailing any of their privileges, but we say that the. Arbitration Court ought to be open to them just as much as to men in private employment. Unless we are prepared to take this step we shall be depriving men in the employment of the Government of the rights granted to workmen outside the service. We ought not to curtail the rights of men simply because they happen to be in our employment. If the public servants do not want to go to the Arbitration Court they need not. We do not force them into it, but it is open to them to bring before the Court any question pertaining to their employment. This Parliament would be in a hopeless position if it had to undertake the task of fixing the wages and conditions of employment of the officers of the Public Service. We have not the requisite knowledge of the work done by them.
– The heads of Departments know that.
– The heads of Departments do not, and cannot fix the wages and conditions now. That- is all done by the Public Service Commissioner, but honorable senators opposite want all that detailed work to be put into the hands of Parliament, which is totally unsuited for it. The Public Service Commissioner has been trying for years to work out a classification scheme that will be satisfactory to all concerned, and he has failed. There is no abler man in the Commonwealth for that work than Mr. McLachlan, and, since he has failed, we ought to try another method of getting any dissatisfaction which may have been caused by his decisions alleviated. The Arbitration Court provides the machinery necessary for that purpose. Senator Cameron asked what position the Army would be in if they demanded this right also. I do not know that there would be any great harm done even if the Army did ask that the question of their salaries should be submitted to some such Court in case of a dispute. They, however, are on an entirely different footing. When a man joins the Army, he knows practically what the wages for each position have always bee.i.
– If the right is given to all the public servants with that exception, a situation very difficult for the Government will be created.
– I think not. We are taking the only safe method so far as the public servants are concerned. They can appeal to the Arbitration Court from the Commissioner, who has been called the Public Service Tzar that rules with an iron hand. Parliament is not parting with any of its rights or privileges by this proposal. We parted with the right to fix the wages and conditions of the service when we handed it over to the Public Service Commissioner. We are simply trying to provide a more perfect machine to settle the vexed question of the grievances of the public servants.
– Senator de Largie claimed that the President of the Arbitration Court is in an entirely different position from an ordinary Judge, but, so far as I can find from the Act, the only difference is that he can be removed at the end of seven years, if he does not behave himself, without being impeached. An ordinary Judge cannot be removed unless he is impeached by both Houses of Parliament.
– The President of the Arbitration Court is therefore in the same position as the Public Service Commissioner, who has also been appointed for seven 3’ears.
– No, because the President of the Arbitration Court is still a Judge of the High Court. The Public Service Commissioner may be appointed for seven years or for five years. I believe he was recently re-appointed for five years, but he has no vested interests in the office, such as the other man has. He has not a vested interest in the position in the same manner as a Judge has. The proposal now is to transfer control from an officer who occupies his position by virtue of the fact that he has had long training in the management of a public service to a Judge who has had no such experience, and must act upon, ex parte, second-hand evidence.
Ministers, if they persist in this proposal^ must take the full responsibility for it. They will not be able to turn round and” say that the terrible Conservative Opposition did not object, or even that the Women’s National League was in favour of the project.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 10 of the principal Act is amended* by omitting the words “ ten pounds “ and inserting in their stead the words “ twenty-five pounds.”
– I notice that the penalties are being increased. I suggest to the Government that it would be very interesting tothe public, and instructive to unionists and employers alike, if they would enforce some of the penalties incurred under the principal Act.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales> [2.1 a.m.]. - I move -
That the following words be added, “ No employee shall cease work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that a non-unionist is, or that” non-unionists are, in the same employment.”
I take up strong grounds with regard to the fairness of a man being at liberty to employ unionists or non-unionists as he pleases.
– Should not a workman be at liberty to decide whether he will work with non-unionists or not?
– I see. no reason» whatever why unionists should not work quietly alongside non-unionists. Why should preference be shown to one person over another? It is particularly unfair that this spirit should be introduced into the Public. Service.
– Would not the honorable senator give preference to a bank clerk over a navvy in his own business?-
– It depends uponthe work that had to be done. One member of the present Government has even, given directions that preference shall be given to unionists on Government work in his Department. I wish to place it om record that, at all events, one member of the Senate had such a strong sense of fair play that he endeavoured to insist that no man should be punished because he chose tobe a non-unionist.
– I know that I can appeal with confidence to Senator Walker’s sense of fairness. I have no doubt that he would be willing toemploy both unionists and non-unionists, and would act fairly by both. But Ican inform him that circumstances might arise under which it would be very unfair for a non-unionist to insist upon a unionist continuing in employment with him. I take, for instance, the coal-mining industry, in winch I was engaged, and the conditions of which I thoroughly understand. In connexion with that industry, the funds of the union are called upon to tear the expense of check weighmen - coal miners are paid so much per ton. The coal is weighed as it comes from the mine, and these check weighmen are paid -by the unionists. Then there are men whose duty it is to keep tools in order, and put them away, and bringthem to the place at which they are to be used ; and check inspectors, who look after the safety of the mine. All these have to be paid for out of union funds. It is easy to imagine that in dull times mean men, in their desire to escape their financial responsibilities, might claim that they were not unionists any longer, though they would still continue to participate in the advantages conferred by the employment of men in the positions to which I have referred, and who were paid by the unionists. I am sure that Senator Walker would not consider that fair, and T have known mean fellows who would have no hesitation in shifting their financial responsibility on to the shoulders of others in the way I have stated.
– I am afraid that Senator Walker does not quite realize the effect of his amendment. He desires for himself perfect freedom to employ unionists and non-unionists side by side, but he would deny an equal measure of freedom to unionists to leave their employment whenever it suits them to do so. If, for any special reason, a person does not desire to continue in a certain employment, he should not be compelled to do so. I have known many cases in which unionists working side by side with a majority of non-unionists have been made very uncomfortable ; and yet Senator Walker would claim that against their will they should be compelled to continue in employment that was repugnant to them.
– They need not give the fact that non-unionists were engagedin the same employment as their reason for leaving.
– Then the honorable senator would have them resort to a subterfuge, in order to comply with the law?
– Is a non-unionist mat to be at liberty to earn a living?
– Certainly. The doors of the union are always open to him.
– While we appreciate the force of the honorable senator’sclaim that he should be allowed to employ unionists and non-unionists side by side, he should admit the force of the claim that a unionist should not be compelled to continue in employment that was repugnant to him. The honorable senator would permit the unionist to make use of a subterfuge in order to avoid the consequences of a Breach of this proposed amendment. A man might in his own conscience know that he had committed an offence against the Act, but no Court of Justice in the world would rind him guilty without evidence of greater substance than a mere intention to leave his employment for a reason which was not publicly stated. We should need evidence, and it is not possible to get evidence to sheet home an offence against this non-unionist whom Senator Walker desires to keep employed against his will.
– There is a great deal of force in the remarks of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat. As long as a man can do his work an employer should have the right to put him on whether he is a non-unionist or not, but if we allow him that freedom we must extend the same freedom to the worker. If he chooses not to work in a particular shop, he ought to have the right to be able to leave it when he wants to do so. I think that Senator Lynch has put the matter fairly, and that it would not be fair to pass the amendment.
– There is some force in what Senator Lynch has said, but, unfortunately, we have a good many instances of a host of men leaving their employment becauseof the introduction of onenon-unionist.Does the honorable senator think that is fairto the employer.
– If an employer takes such a : risk he knows what he is doing. .
-We know thata strong party desires preference to unionists on everyoccasion. Senator Henderson has said thathehas a great contempt for any one who is not a unionist. If no one ‘is going to support me, I must let my amendment be negatived on the voices, but I still think that it is a reasonable proposal to make.
– The honorable senator asked for guidance as to the form in which he should move his amendment. I suggest that he should move it in the following form -
That after the word “ amended “ the following words be inserted :- “ (a) by inserting after the words ‘ fact that ‘ the ‘words ‘ a nonunionist is or that non-unionists are in the same employment; or that, and “(*)”
– Very well, sir, I adopt your suggestion.
Amendment, as amended, negatived.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
– I had intended to move an amendment to clause 8, but owing to a misunderstanding I allowed it to pass. I drew the attention of the Minister to the matter previously.
– The honorable member has vindicated his position as a leader to-night. Why not let the Bill pass?
– Why cannot the honorable member hold his tongue.
– I take exception to that remark.
– Then I will ask the honorable member not to hold his tongue. Let him wag it as much as he pleases, but not whilst I am addressing the Chair.
– Since Senator Chataway states that he allowed clause 8 to pass under a misapprehension, .1 propose to allow him to move the amendment in clause 8 which he states he had previously indicated.
Clause 8 (Compulsory conference).
– We are introducing an entirely new proposal in clause 8-
– That clause has been passed.
– There was a misunderstanding.
– But we cannot go back.
– I have the permission of the Chairman to move that the clause be amended. I wish to draw particular attention to the fact that, under this clause it is proposed to introduce an entirely new principle by giving the President of the Court power to require, in connexion with a compulsory Conference, the attendance of any person, whether connected with an industrial dispute or not, whose presence at the Conference the President thinks is likely to conduce to the prevention or the settlement of an industrial dispute. Failure to obey such a summons will render the offender liable to a penalty of ,£500. Under this provision a resident of Broome, in north-western Australia, who might have some sort of knowledge of a dispute going on in Melbourne or Sydney, could be required by the President to come to Melbourne to give evidence, although he might not have a penny piece to his name. That is an entirely new principle. I am not going to say that it is unreasonable, but the party to a dispute who required the attendance of such a man should be compelled to pay his expenses. Whoever wishes him to be brought’ here should pay his expenses.
– The next clause gives power to do that.
– The next clause provides that the Court or President may order any party to any application to pay to any other party such costs and expenses, including expenses of witnesses, as it or he thinks fit. But those costs do not include the travelling expenses of a witness. A penalty of no less than ,£500 may be imposed upon a man who resides at Broome or Thursday Island, and who does not possess the means to enable him to attend the Court to give evidence in a dispute in which he is not personally concerned.
– The President of the Court will not do things in that airy fashion.
– We have often heard that certain things will not be done, but after the lapse of a few years they are done. I move -
That the following words be inserted : - Subsection 2 of section i6a of the principal Act is amended by inserting after the word “ President “ the words “ who shall order the payment of reasonable expenses to such witness.”
.’ - I have previously had a conversation with Senator Chataway upon this matter, and, of course, any reasonable man must recognise that if the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court accepts the responsibility, on the advice of either party to a dispute, of compelling the attendance of a witness, the Court will be responsible to that individual in the same way as it is responsible to any other witness. It is absurd to suggest in a loose fashion that persons may be brought from Broome or Thursday Island to attend the Court. We must presume that the Court will be presided over by a gentleman of intelligence, and not by a lunatic. In addition, we have to remember that the applicants have their own interest to conserve. I would remind honorable senators that witnesses before the Arbitration Court are paid out of the conciliation and arbitration fund, and, consequently, there is no necessity for the amendment. I am informed that that course has already been adopted in the case of persons who have been called upon to attend a conference in connexion with an industrial dispute. I am sure that no honorable senator desires to curtail the power of the Court to give costs against any party to an application.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
Section twenty-four of the principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section two the words “ within a reasonable time, and the President so certifies.”
– I have an amendment to propose to this clause. Honorable senators are aware that in the past objection has been taken in the High Court to the Arbitration Court having to deal with part of an industrial dispute. The amendment is designed to overcome that difficulty. It will give the Court power to deal either with the whole or any part of an industrial dispute. I move -
That all the words after “ amended,” line 2, be left out, witha view to insert the following in lieu thereof : - “ (a) by inserting in sub-section (1) after the words “ agreement between the parties,” the words “as to the whole or any part of the dispute,” and
by omitting the whole of sub-section (2) and inserting in its stead the following subsection - “ (2) If no agreement between the parties as to the whole of the dispute is arrived at, the Court shall, by an award, determine the dispute, or (if an agreement has been arrived at as to a part of the dispute) so much of the dispute as is not settled by the agreement.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 -
Section thirty-eight B of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting, after the words, “ indus trial dispute,” the words “ or to the demands made by the parties in the course of the dispute “; and
by adding at the end of the section the words “or of preventing further industrial disputes.”
– I can hardly allow this novelty in the way of jurisdiction to pass without trying to get some sort of explanation from the Government, and entering a protest from this side. Under the new scheme which I gather is taking form throughout Australia, all horse-drivers are to be joined in one camp, and all horseowners in another camp. It is quite obvious that a number of the employers will be quite willing to accept the demands which are made upon them. They will sit back, and just wait for the Court to make its award or order. During the hearing of the case new claims may be nnde under this clause. It is against all principles of ordinary decent justice that after a man has been called upon to answer a certain claim, and he has agreed to it, he should not be notified of any new demand which may be made subsequent to his agreement. In such a case a man may suddenly find himself committed to a great many things to which he did not intend to be committed when he agreed to the original claim. Of course it may be said that he ought to employ a representative or an agent or a friend to look after his interests. I think that the Government will be well advised if they introduce an amendment that copies of new demands shall be served on every person who was cited in a case. Suppose, for instance, that I own a newspaper in North Queensland, and that a demand is made on newspaper proprietors by the Typographical Society for certain wages. Being willing to concede the demand, I sit back, and do not bother to be represented at the Court. But during the course of the hearing, the Typographical Society raises new demands, which I suddenly find myself, Avithout notice, committed to. I hope that the Minister will make a note of -my suggestion to introduce an amendment.
– What Senator Chataway has pointed out is really the practice at the present time. Let me recall what took place on the occasion of the Broken Hill strike, which was settled by the Court when it extended to Port Pirie, in South Australia. When the President heard the applications for relief at Port. Pirie,, he found that there were certain grievances which, although they were- not- contained in the applications, would, if they were- not redressed then, be likely to cause friction in the future, and that it would be far better if relief were granted at once. He did grant the relief desired, but the employers at Port Pirie* in conjunction with the employers at Broken Hill, appealed to the High Court, which, on technical grounds, said that the President had not the power to grant the relief. Consequently, the difficulty was accentuated there. A great deal of mischief would have been averted if he had had the power which he exercised, and which he thought he had.. The object of this: provision! is to- make it: clear that in a future case; of that kind, the President will have the night, to deal- with, any matter, which has been- omitted in an application, and which, if dealt with at once, will give greater satisfaction. It takes away any limitation of the relief which may be granted, by the Court. It has been the practice- when a new claim has been sprung, upon the employers oe the employes to give notice of the claim. Itf the time has been too- short and an. application has-been made to the Court, an adjournment has always! been granted in- order to: afford to those interested an opportunity to put their side- of the case. No- danger need be apprehended from this clauseThis is a power which, to my mind, the President of the- Court should possess. I believe that in the future it will assist in getting over difficulties which have- arisen in the- past..
.. - I was very glad to get theassurance. of the- Minister, but I hardly understand how a thing- has- been the practice: ira the past when apparently it is: being introduced into our law for the first time:.
– -What the honorable senator has referred to has- been done, at Port Pirie and at Broken Hill.
– The Minister probably did not quite catch my argument, which was connected with the new form of unionism that we are going to have. I’ suggested that a large number of persons will not put in an appearance at the Court at adi, and that it is* reasonable that if new demands are made- during the hearing- of a. case, the persons who- were originally summoned and did not put in an appearance should also be notified of the new demands.
– So they will.
– Once the Bill leaves this Chamber,; the matter will be out of the honorable senator’s hands, and it will be for the Court to interpret, its provisions.
– It is a just Court.
– I do not doubt its justice, but I suggest that the honorable senator should insert a provision to the effect that, when new demands are raised in. the course of a hearing, all the parties originally cited shall, be supplied with a copy of them’, so that they may be heard. If such a provision is not inserted now, it will be brought, forward’, a. year or two hence in an amending Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 22 agreed to.
Clause 23 (Term of industrial agreement).
– The clause provides for altering the maximum term of an agreement from- three to five years. I am in favour of. that, but, seeing that agreements now cannot be kept for five weeks, I do not know that much advantage is to be expected from it.
– The honorable senator is mot very hopeful..
– Experience has made me a pessimist.. To lengthen the term o£ an- agreement may increase the reasons for the breaking of. it. by a dissatisfied, party.
.. - Senator Chataway would have the Committee believe that the agreements under the Commonwealth Arbitration law are not respected, but although 113 agreements have been filed, not one of them has been violated. That is the answer- to a statement made with a- view to disparaging this means of settling indus trial disputes. While I regret, that sometimes employes have not considered themselves bound by awards, I feel that they have been justified’ by the action of the employers. On one occasion when, in Western Australia, an award was given in. the timber industry, affecting some 3,000- men, to. the effect that a schedule of wages- was- to apply to the least competent in every grade and calling, the timber companies proceeded to reduce every one in their employ to the minimum, and thus declared :in effect that every employe was the least competent of his kind, an obvious absurdity, and a flagrant breach of the award. Employers violate awards as often as employes. In the Broken Hill case an appeal was made to the High Court, with a view to evading an award, and vital provisions in it were thus set aside. Senator Chataway’s imputation regarding the employes is not deserved.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Senate adjourned at 2.56 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111115_SENATE_4_62/>.