4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following paper : -
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - Promotion of W. G. Chapman to position of Clerk, Fourth Class, Public Works Branch, Department of Home Affairs,New South Wales.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council give us any idea as to when the report of the Auditor-General on the accounts for the year ending 30th June last will be available to honorable senators?
– I have no information on this subject, but I will obtain it for the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is the Minister aware that certain financial institutions throughout the Commonwealth have issued instructions to their branch managers to call in advances and overdrafts, with the result that a temporary tightness may be caused in the money market?
Will the Governmentuse every endeavour to expedite the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank,in order that the primary producers of Australia may not be restricted in their operations by the causes mentioned ?
– The answers to the questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the Questions are -
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That there be a Call of the Senate on Wednesday, the 18th day of December, 1912, for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill, the Constitution Alteration (Corporations) Bill, the Constitution Alteration (IndustrialMatters) Bill, the Constitution Alteration (Trusts) Bill, the Constitution Alteration (Nationalization of Monopolies) Bill, and the Constitution Alteration (Railway Disputes) Bill.
Debate resumed from nth December (vide page 6798), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Senator E. j. RUSSELL (Victoria) [10.35]. - Owing to the speeches delivered here in opposition to these proposals, and the speeches which we have to meet outside, differing so entirely, it is almost necessary to look at the A B C of the question. First, I wish to take the question which was dealt with so eloquently, and, might I say, so cleverly by Senator Millen, which seems to be the basis of Federation. He impressed upon the Senate, and this is repeatedly done by other honorable senators, that Federation is a contract between the States and the Commonwealth. Now, it is necessary to ask what brought about Federation in order to see where a contract lies ; in fact, whether one really exists between the States and the Commonwealth. I take it that there is not a contract between the States and the Commonwealth, as the term is used by very many honorable senators opposite. They speak as if the States and the Commonwealth were institutions which existed entirely apart from the people.
– If that be so, I want to ask this question : In the State of Victoria we have a. Minister of the Crown who has affirmed again and again .that there is a monopoly and a restraint of trade with respect to the export of fruit. He has also affirmed that there is an honorable understanding amongst a meat ring. That responsible Minister has, in common with other citizens, waited upon Commonwealth Ministers, asking them to take action to put a stop to these restrictions upon industry. If the State Governments really believe that they have the necessary power to restrict these commercial brigands, why does not this Minister of the Crown bring his influence to bear upon the Government of which he is a member? It is because he is compelled to recognise the ineffectiveness of the State power that he appeals to the Commonwealth.
– Has that Minister said that it is because of the inefficiency of the State Governments that he has had to ask the Commonwealth to take action?
– Yes, he has said that in connexion with the export of fruit. It has beenproclaimed over and over -again that the cost of living has gone up until in the State of Victoria the sovereign is only equal to the purchasing power of 16s. seven years ago. Every State Minister, every State member of Parliament, knows this. But not a single step has been taken to restrict the combines and monopolies which have forced up prices. Surely this is a recognition of the fact that the States have not the effective power to exercise.
– It certainly is proof that they have not exercised their powers.
– What other reason can there be which prevents the State Parliaments from carrying this class of legislation? One reason is, of course, that the States are prevented from taking action because there are representatives of rings, combines, and “ honorable understandings ‘i in their Legislatures. We have them in Victoria representing trusts, combines, and corporations in one particular branch of the Legislature, which makes it impossible for the people of the State to carry the legislation they desire. It must be remembered that it is not within the power of the Labour party to impose upon the people of this country legislative conditions or constitutional powers which they do not desire to see established. Seeing that the people have to decide, surely we can trust them to give a decision in accordance with their own interests-
– Is the decision of the people to be final ? They have already decided against the Labour party in this matter.
– That is true. I make no apology for the fact that the people defeated our referenda proposals in 191 r. They may decide against us again. But I have no doubt that what has happened in regard to previous legislation will occur with respect to this. A little later on we shall see Opposition members proclaiming from every platform that they arc the people who carried the legislation to restrain trusts and combines. Take one instance. The claim has recently been made on behalf of the Fusion party that they introduced the note issue. It makesme wonder what all the fighting was about !
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Who claimed that the Opposition introduced the note issue? I never claimed it for our party.
– That claim was made in another place a few days ago. In my judgment, the people made a mistake in 19 1 1. But they are capable of receiving light. We have watched with great interest the evolution of opinion amongst them. Admitting for a moment that the decision in 1911 was overwhelming, surely the Opposition ought to congratulate themselves, if they believe that that decision was final, on the Labour party having the courage to go to a general election espousing such unpopular measures. They ought to encourage us to proceed on this path.
– We do not want you to do wrong.
– I had no idea that we were so much beloved by members of the Opposition. In a personal sense probably we can reciprocate, though politically we fight one another. As the people will have to give expression to their decision, there cannot be the slightest objection to trusting them. Another factor that has to be recognised in relation to modern industry is that competition is practically dead. In” commerce and business as conducted to-day, outside a few retail lines which this legislation does not touch at all, competition has almost entirely disappeared from trade concerns. The kings of commerce and the captains of industry make arrangements among themselves. The world moves on. and it is impossible for the people of this country to hark back to conditions which have now disappeared for ever. Now-a-days we have great aggregations of capita] and organizations of labour which have created new conditions to which we must adapt our Constitution.
– There is no country in the world where capital is so well distributed as it is in Australia.
– I hope that that’ will continue to be so.
– Senator Fraser has obtained a fair share.
– I have earned it by hard work.
– We do not envy the personal success of our friend. We congratulate him upon it. We are anxious to see a condition of things created that will give every one equality of opportunity at the start.
– The Labour party are denying equality of opportunity ina particular class.
– The phrase which the honorable senator uses sounds very well, but it is difficult to understand what he means. Yesterday Senator Millen made a remark to the effect that the smaller the governing area the more effective are the self-governing powers of the people.
– That is quite true as a rule.
– What does that statement really mean? Follow it out. You can keep on dividing the community into smaller and smaller communities until you get down to the individual. Indeed, Senator Millen himself said that the best form of government is that which allows an individual to do as he pleases. But that is the doctrine of the philosophical anarchist. Had any member of the Labour party made that statement here there would have been a howl from the Opposition benches that we were preaching anarchy.
– Do you charge Senator Fraser with being an anarchist?
– He is an anarchist until he wants protection for himself, and then he calls upon the community to provide that protection.
– How does that apply to yourself? You want to help the community.
– I do, but I am a Socialist, and that makes all the difference. Senator Millen said that he did not object to the enlargement of the powers of the Commonwealth, but what he objected to was going to unnecessary length’s. Let me take the position of the Fusion party. Sir Robert Best, who represented the Fusion Government in this Chamber, introduced an Inter-State Commission Bill. What was that Bill for? As regards the industrial aspect of it. it was to get over a difficulty which had arisen in the administration of the State industrial laws, not so much from the employes’ as from the employers’ point of view. Judge Heydon, of New South Wales, was one of the principal causes of that Bill being drafted in the form in which it was. In a judgment in the Bootmakers’ case he said he believed that 9s. was a fair wage to give to the employes, but he regretted he could not give that wage, because in Victoria they were only getting 8s. and 8s. 4d. a day. Recognizing that in the boot line Victoria was quite as effectively developed as New South Wales, if not more so, he pointed out that the awarding of that wage meant giving Victoria an advantage in the New South Wales market. The Bill provided that where it could be proved that the paying of just wages in one State would be. detrimental, not to the employes, but to the employers engaged in a similar industry in another State, that would be sufficient ground for appeal to the Inter-State Commission to regulate the matter. It was impossible under that Bill, which gave expression to the thoughts of the Fusion party, for the employes to approach the Inter-State Commission directly on the question of wages, because they had to prove that there would be a detrimental effect upon the trading of the employers in another State. That was a distinct admission that our Constitution* was not effective, or that the States were not able to exercise full self-governing powers. The State electors having expressed the”’ desires at the election, the State Government carried those desires out as far ;is was possible within their Constitution, but it was found that they could not give effect to the wish to secure the payment of just and honest wages in New South Wales on account of constitutional limitations. That is one of the difficulties we are anxious to overcome at the earliest possible moment. Another remarkable statement was made by Senator Millen. He said that it was not the desire to get more effective power that was impelling the workers to try to get to the Federal Court, but that practically Judge Higgins was the magnet drawing them to that Court. Is that so? The impelling force is undoubtedly the desire for a larger area and wider powers, to get over many limitations that now exist. Has any responsible body or any member of this Chamber ever had the courage to say that Mr. Justice Higgins, in any decision which he has given, has meted out more than justice to the workers? Certainly not. Mr. Justice Higgins has time and again expressed the opinion that he was unable to mete out full justice because of the constitutional limitations on the exercise of the functions of that Court. If it is true that no more than simple justice has been done to the workers who have approached that Court, seeing that the State awards have granted much lower wages and imposed harsher conditions, it must be true that the workers have not received justice from any of the State Wages Boards. Take this State. In the industrial legislation of Victoria the power of veto can be exercised by the Minister. What takes place? As soon as an award is given by a chairman who believes in justice, there is a deputation of employers to the Minister, and he not only suspends the award, but actually vetoes it.
– Is that the established practice in administration in Victoria ?
– Yes. It’ . has been done so repeatedly that you can now term it the established practice. Thi, had led to industrial discontent, and is undoubtedly compelling the workers to appeal to the Federal Court owing to the fact that they recognize that through the class bias of one section of the Legislature in Victoria, they are not able to get. effective laws to extend, not throughout Australia, but throughout the State itself. They are subjected to all sorts of restrictions, and, apart from the Industrial Appeal Court, the awards are subject to the veto of the Minister. To-day employers are going upon these Boards with the deliberate intention of delaying decisions. Furthermore, instead of the Boards deciding upon the evidence tendered, they have now adopted the course of receiving deputations. One Board which recently sat received deputations for over three months instead of going on with its actual business. The prejudice of the workers against the State industrial laws has been brought about through the injustice and partizanship that has been displayed.
– Wages Boards, . are acknowledged all over the world to be the most practical way of getting over the difficulty.
– If that is so, I wonder why the party, of which the honorable senator was a. member, does not see the wisdom and justice of extending the system to the whole of the State of Victoria? The moment it is proposed to extend it to the whole of the State, the members of that party rise up in their might, and even go to the extent of threatening to put in a new Government if an attempt is made to bring that about. Senator Millen also spoke of the fraud and hypocrisy on our part in seeking power to regulate trusts and combines when we do not believe that it is possible to effectively regulate them by means of legislation.
– Not when you do not merely believe that it would not achieve that object but when you affirm that it could not do it.
– I admit that the honorable senator’s statement is quite correct. I have always declared that I do not believe that, under the ordinary law or a law of the Commonwealth , we shall be able to effectively control combines and monopolies. I support enthusiastically this proposal to obtain the power to regulate, and I shall vote for any legislation in that direction, because I recognise that law, like everything else, has to go through various stages of evolution. I also recognise that the people honestly believe that it is possible to regulate combines and monopolies, and because it is their desire that this Parliament should be given the power to regulate, I am willing to afford an opportunity to the Parliament and the Courts to see if it can be done. I have no confidence in this idea, but the people have the right to rule the country - not our individual whims. I do not consider that we take a hypocritical view when we say that we are willing to give their view a fair and reasonable test, and if it honestly fails, then our claim for the nationalization of monopolies will be stronger and better, because we shall have proved the ineffectiveness of the other law.
– Do I understand you to say that you will not proceed to nationalize until you have first tested the powers under the other Bill?
– When the honorable senator puts the matter in that way, I might give the answer “Yes-no.” When, as the result of an inquiry, whether it be by Parliament or a Royal Commission, or the Inter-State Commission, it is proved clearly that competition has been eliminated, and that the combines have the power to dominate the prices and conditions in industries, I am in favour of immediate nationalization. I am prepared to watch the development of various combines, and when they, like the apple on the tree, ripen and become complete monopolies, I am in favour of the Commonwealth stepping in and nationalizing them.
– I thought that the granting of these powers would prevent the monopolies from ripening.
– I said that I believe that our party will, as far as possible, honestly try to regulate in order to prevent the development of monopolies. Further, I repeat that, in my belief, it is not possible to do so, because monopolies, combines, and trusts are the natural evolution of industry in the world to-day, and are not the result of a special creation by a particular individual. Given the greatest brain power and the greatest organizing genius in the world. I donot believe that any man could effectively organize a trust or combine with ramifications throughout the world unless the industry had reached that stage of evolution which made that possible. That is the attitude I take up on that question.
– Well, you believe in taking away the ingenuity, brains, energy, and all that sort of thing, and making a man like a brute beast.
– I do not believe in taking away the ingenuity of any man. During the whole of my boyhood the honorable senator was in the State Parliament, and though I believe that I have a little natural brain he and his party robbed me of the opportunity of getting that development which the State should have provided.
– It comes badly from the honorable senator to accuse me of desiring to rob any person of his intellect seeing that he robbed me and thousands of my fellow citizens of that opportunity which he was sent into Parliament to create.
– I landed in Australia with twenty sovereigns in my pocket.
– And I landed in Australia without any clothes. From Senator Sayers yesterday evening we had an interesting statement as to the effect of competition. He dealt particularly with the Coal and Shipping Combines. I only wish to refer to the principle which he laid down. He said that honorable senators on this side have defended the combines, and that they were successful. He told us that the competition of the Coal Vend had cut the throats of the employers, and had reduced the workers to starvation wages, while the competition of the shipowners had reduced the fares to an unpayable point, namely, 5s. for a passage between Sydney and Brisbane, that their workers were badly treated, and that competition had practically ruined two industries. Yet to-day the honorable senator, who believes that competition in the commercial world brought about that murderous state of things, is, like his party, bitterly opposed to any attempt at collective action to prevent its continuance. I know of no mid-way. Either we must allow free competition to have its effect, and the law of supply and demand to operate throughout the field, or we must step in, and the moment we commence to regulate or to own and control, from that moment we abandon the individual and competitive position and become part and parcel of an organized and collective system. We are organizing more and more, and will continue to organize. With every development of the mind of man there has been an increasing tendency for the people to collectively come together, educationally, industrially, and otherwise. And this will continue. I come to a very important part of the speech of Senator Sayers. I believe that he belongs to a party which is going to reject the Labour party at the next elections, because they complain that we have betrayed Protection, and not given more Protection. The honorable senator laid it down that Protection is the cause of the establishment of trusts, particularly in this country. Members of his party who are in opposition to myself are now touring this State with the approval of his party, and, I take it, of every senator on that side, and denouncing the Labour party, saying that we have betrayed Protection, that we will not make the duties still higher. Yet Senator Sayers said only yesterday that practically the sole cause of the existence of trusts and combines in this country, as in America, was high Protection.
– Not the whole cause - a contributing cause, as Mr. Hughes said in the other House.
– I admit that the evolution of industry has caused even Protectionists- and I am a high Protectionist without compromise - to think-
– Except when your party is in office, and thenyou compromise.
-I am in opposition to my party in that regard, and have said so on the floor of the Senate. I believe that my party made a mistake in that respect, but I did not get the enthusiastic co-operation of the honorable senator all the same.. I wish that I had.
– Or of your own party.
– You did not try.
– Yes I did try, and I also tried the honorable senator when we had the Tariff before us, but he was wanting once or twice. The point I was making was that in the greater number of the industries, although we had the highest Protection, in some cases almost equal to the value of the goods, still the internal competition was so effective that it did keep prices down, but when an industry becomes a monopoly, when it reaches that stage of development that it can control the fixing of prices in the whole market, the Protection is appropriated by those who carry on the industry. Take sugar for example. It is beyond doubt that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company fix the price of their sugar on the basis of the value in the New Zealand market, and add the Protection which we grant to them. As a Protectionist I make that admission, but the reason why the company are able to do that is because they have a complete monopoly of the market and the power to fix prices irrespective of what this Parliament may determine. In fact, the company are really a greater and more effective power in the commercial world than is this Parliament. In other words, this Parliament has been subordinated to this combine or industry, and under the existing Constitution we are helpless to deal with these people. They have flouted the Courts. If Democracy means anything it means that the people shall be supreme. Do honorable senators opposite deny for a moment that there are in Australia to-day institutions which under the Constitution are at present more effective and more powerful than is this Parliament? That is undoubtedly the case. There are a few quotations which I think ought to be put on record in regard to the position of the existing laws when they are brought before the Courts. Referring to the cause Mr. W.
These would sometimes make even a lawyer’s head reel with confusion in the endeavour to follow the intricacies to which the Courts are reduced in trying to divide what is really and substantially an individual whole - to divide the commerce of the community into parts, and to say that one part shall be under the Government of one Parliament and another part under another Parliament.
That statement by Mr. Irvine is, I believe, one of the soundest justifications for our proposal to” take power to control corporations and regulate them. It means that, as regards trade and commerce, which comes under the head of corporations and is largely controlled and dealt with by them, it is practically impossible to get a sound definition of what is Intra-State commerce and what is Inter- State commerce. The Commonwealth Parliament should have the necessary power to deal with corporations in order that we may avoid such complications. It is significant that nearly every lawyer who has dealt with these matters has agreed that the power to create and dissolve corporations should be vested in the Federal Parliament. We know that where it is desired to conduct operations throughout the Commonwealth there is considerable difficulty connected with the creation of six distinct companies, and also very considerable difficulty associated with their dissolution. To relieve those interested of such difficulties and burdens, we find that certain persons are agreed that the creation and dissolution of companies should be within the power of this Parliament. It would not be regarded as in any sense an interference with State rights to pass a uniform company law for Australia for these purposes. But when it is desired that we should be in a position to insert in such a law provision for the protection of workers and consumers, and the investments of less wealthy members of the community, we are invited to believe that that is a different proposition altogether. I need not refer to the “ Serbonian bog,” as the allusion has already become so well known. I may, however, quote a statement made by Mr. Sidney Kidman, as reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of nth- September. He said : -
Three or four of the meat companies in Queensland fixed the price of cattle. . . . Beef will not be cheap again.
That is a very definite statement, and Mr. Kidman appeared to have no doubt about it. .
– Mr. Kidman did not say that beef will not be cheap again, because of the existence of the Meat Company referred to. He dealt with the cattle supplied before he made the statement that beef would not be cheap again.
- Senator Millen may have had the advantage of being present at the personal interview, but I think that I am entitled to quote from a report of Mr. Kidman’s statement in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
– So long as the honorable senator makes a fair quotation.
- Senator Millen ought not to talk about fair quotations. Only yesterday I was compelled to withdraw a statement I made when I asked the honorable senator not to misquote an honorable member of another place. The honorable senator fell back upon the doubtful authority of the Argus, and I again challenge his statement. I have the copy of the Argus referred to before me now, and while I do not for a moment question the fact that Senator Millen may have honestly believed that he was quoting correctly from memory, if he will read the Argus report again, he will find that the honorable member for Bourke did not make the statement which he attributed to him yesterday. The question is, do we desire to interfere with State rights. I have already said that I do not think there is any such thing as State rights. It is a question for each individual to determine whether the laws which he desires to have passed can be most ef_fectively dealt with by the State Parlia- ments or the Commonwealth Parliament. A cry has been raised, not merely in this Chamber, but outside, “ Let us preserve our Home Rule.” It is remarkable that people who clamour most for Home Rule have usually an empty record so far as any personal effort to bring about Home Rule is concerned. People are asked not to give up their State rights to the Federal Parliament, but what right have I, or any member of the Senate as a unit of the citizens of a State which we could not continue to exercise, should the powers asked for be transferred from the State Parliament to the Commonwealth Parliament? These are cries which appeal not to the intelligence of the people, but to prejudice against the Labour party. When these proposals are submitted to the people, I trust that we shall not have a repetition of the misrepresentations of the last campaign, and the attempts then made to hide the real issue. The question is really a simple one. The people are to be asked to transfer certain powers which theoretically are possessed by the State Parliament, but have never been effectively exercised, to the Commonwealth Parliament, over which, as electors, they have themselves a greater control than they have over the State Parliament. The object is that laws may be passed in the interests of industrial peace and to nationalize combines and monopolies that have robbed the consumers of this country. I hope that the electors, when given a fair opportunity to understand the effects of the proposed amendments of the Constitution, will be prepared to give a favorable verdict, and so enable this Parliament in future to deal with these matters in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11.32].- Honorable senators generally may agree with much that was said by Senator Russell at the commencement of his speech. It is reasonable to ask how these powers can be most effectively exercised. The honorable senator said that, if they could be effectively exercised by the State Parliament, well and good, and, if not, that they should be intrusted to some superior power. There could be no objection to that, but the honorable senator viewed the matter rather from the stand-point of Unification than in the light of existing conditions. Our Constitution was definitely framed upon certain broad lines, and the respective rights of the Federal and State’ authorities were so defined and separated that they should not interfere with each other. We know the difficulties that surrounded the establishment of Federation, and before the people would consent to federate it was made an essential condition that the sovereign rights of the States to deal with matters affecting their local interests should not be taken from them, lt was agreed that powers which might be best exercised by a national Parliament should be the powers given up by the State Parliaments. Many persons, in addressing themselves to these questions, have truly said that the impelling force bringing about Federation was the general desire for an effective system of national defence. It h’ad long been realized from the reports ofmilitary authorities that if the defence ot Australia was to be made effective, it must be the defence of the Commonwealth as a whole, and not merely of individual States. If, prior to Federation, an attack were made upon any of the States, except as a matter of self-preservation, New South Wales, for instance, would have had no particular interest in protecting Victoria, or Victoria in the protection of New South Wales. The systems of defence followed in each of the States might have been entirely different, and it is recognised that the necessity for a uniform system of defence for the whole of Australia was the primary object of Federation. The repre sentatives of the States at the Federal Conventions had, of course, to consider whether there were not other matters which might be dealt with more effectively by the Federal than by the State Parliaments. It was found necessary to transfer the collection of Customs and Excise to the Federal authorities, and it was realized that that was a matter which should better be dealt with in the interests of Australia as a whole than that there should continue to be Tariff wars between the different States, which might have led to conflicts. We know the difficulties which are constantly arising between neighbouring nations in Europe, and it was seen to be necessary to avoid the possibility of such differences in Australia. The people generally speedily recognised that, in many respects, Federation would be to their interests, and it then only became a question of the form of Federation which should be adopted. Many members, even of the first Federal Parliament, were opposed in some respects to the provisions of the Constitution framed by the Federal Convention, believing that it did not sufficiently provide for fair play between the different States. The question of the representation of the States in the Senate gave rise to the expression of many differences pf opinion. Many of those who took part in the Federal movement did not, on thai question, see eye to eye with the framers of the Constitution. They did not believe that there should be equality of representation in the Senate, but it was found that that was necessary in order to induce the smaller States to join in the Federation with some assurance that their particular interests would not be swamped by the larger States. If it had been proposed at the time that the Federal Parliament should have the power to interfere, as now proposed, in matters of purely local concern, the people of the different States would have turned the Constitution down unless it provided for proportionate representation in the Senate.
– Nothing of the kind is proposed.
– It has already been stated, and I believe I shall be able to show, that there 1 is a strong desire to bring about a system of Unification, and make the State Parliaments entirely subservient to the Federal Parliament.
– To the people.
– No, not to the people. I recognise that it is not proposed to add anything to the powers possessed by the people, because” those powers were possessed by the people of the various States before Federation was established. I realize that certain of these powers can more effectively be administered by a National Parliament than by State Parliaments. I refer particularly to the powers with regard to Defence, Customs and Excise, and certain other matters mentioned in section 51 of the Constitution. We are reminded that the Constitution contains a power of amendment. Of course it does. However well the Constitution may have been drawn originally, inequalities and deficiencies were bound to be discovered in it that would require to be rectified sooner or later. Therefore a power of amendment was inserted, subject to certain restrictions and conditions. But I remind honorable senators that at the inception of Federation no State was bound to accept the Commonwealth Constitution unless it saw fit. No State could have been dragged into the Union. The preamble to the Constitution reminds us of what happened. The people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania - agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and- Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established.
The Constitution “ hereby established “ made provision that certain powers should be transferred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Section 51 provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Then are enumerated the various powers, the first of which is - trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.
It is now proposed to make an entire alteration with regard to that power .
– The honorable senator is now opposing the exercise by the Commonwealth of powers which we thought we had when we federated.
– I dispute that statement. The Constitution granted us certain specified powers, but it did not grant the powers now sought to be acquired. In my opinion it would be far better, if the Commonwealth really requires to make these drastic alterations, to submit a new scheme altogether, by means of which we might adopt the Canadian or South African system of government in preference to the one under which we are living. When our Constitution was framed, those responsible for preparing ii had an opportunity of examining the American and Canadian ConstitutionsThey also had an opportunity of inquiring into the working of Federal Constitutions formed amongst other than Britishspeaking peoples. They deliberately decided that it would be to our advantage to accept the American model in preference to the Canadian. Why ? Because they realized that the people of the States of Australia were very jealous of giving up any of the powers which they enjoyed, and would not be prepared to surrender them unless they were convinced that it would be to the interests of the States themselves to do “so. In Australia, the circumstances and climate are quite different from those which prevail in Canada. In Canada there is practically one range of temperature. The country is situated in one zone. In Australia we embrace both temperate and tropical zones, with all their varying industries. The problems of government, therefore, are much more difficult here than in Canada. The climate and the natural productions of the soil, the interests of .the people, and the conditions of living, are far more various. In the United States of America there are likewise various climates. The framers of the Constitution thought it advisable to adopt the American system.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that different forms of Constitution are due to climatic variations-?
– No; but I say that that was one consideration in this case.
– I do not think that it entered into the minds of the framers of the Constitution.
– Let me point out another consideration. Since Australia was settled the tendency has been, not to enlarge the size of the governing areas, but to decrease them. In the first instance, Victoria was governed from Sydney, 600 miles away. The Victorian people felt that their local interests were not being so well attended to as they would be if a local form of government was established.
– That was the cry when I landed in Victoria, sixty-two years ago.
– A few years later Queensland was dissatisfied for similar reasons, and her territory was cut off from New South Wales. Even now, in Queensland, there is a feeling that the State would be much better governed if divided into two or three States, Complaints arise from Rockhampton and Townsville that the interests of the people there are not conserved so carefully as they would be if the Government were not concentrated at Brisbane.
– There is a provision in . the Constitution for the division of States.
– Of course there is, but I am pointing out that the tendency has been to divide, not to concentrate government in one great centre. The Vice-President of the Executive Council admitted the other day that this policy of the Government involved Unification with respect to one matter, namely, trade and commerce. I presume that the Government have submitted their proposal on this subject because they think that trade and commerce can be more easily and more efficiently dealt with by a central Government. For my own part, I think that while trade and commerce, as far as the outside world is concerned, can be efficiently controlled by the Federal Government, it is not desirable that the Commonwealth should have the right to interfere with and to regulate trade and commerce within theStates.
– Can we always separate trade and commerce?
– I admit that there is a great deal of difficulty in separating it. But that is no reason why we should pass a measure which would not be fair to the States. If we had no difficult problems to meet, legislation would be very much easier than it is. Whatever legislation we pass, difficulty must arise as time goes on. But the whole of these provisions distinctly tend to bring about Unification. The Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes, in dealing with the referenda proposals two years ago, laid down what he regarded as the difference between Federal and State regulations. He pointed out that the difference between Federation and Unification was that, under Federation the States had certain powers that could not be interfered with by the’ Federal body. I ac cept that definition. But when you begin to whittle down the powers of the States, you are destroying the system of Federation, and virtually bringing about Unification. Our Constitution lays it down that when there is a conflict of laws between State and Federal authorities the power of the Federation shall prevail. How will that operate in regard to the proposals now submitted to us? It is perfectly true that we do not in so many words say to the States, “ You shall have no power to legislate on these matters.” But we do say, “ Although you may pass laws, still, if we decide to bring in a measure dealing with the same subject, it will repeal every one of the provisions contained in your enactment, and by that means we shall control the whole of your powers of self-government.” When you get to that position you reduce the States to a situation not a bit better than that of the Provincial Governments in Canada and South Africa. In South Africa the State Governments are absolutely and literally under subjection to the Central Government. No Act passed by a State Government can have any effect unless the Central Government see fit to allow it. to operate. In Canada much the same condition of things prevails. Although certain rights are given to the Provincial Governments, they can only exercise their rights with the knowledge and fear that the Central Government may interfere with their legislation if it does not meet with the wishes of that body. I admit that the Canadian system enables the Central Government to exercise such powers as are sought to be obtained by the Commonwealth. But, as I have already pointed out, it was never intended that our system of government should be on Canadian lines. By these proposals we are making the States subservient to the Central Government to a greater extent than is the case in Canada. Our Labour friends, when charged with attempting to bring about Unification, say that they will endeavour to obtain these powers one by one, and so work by instalments towards the end they have in view. We are also confronted with the fact that not a single man in the Labour party is a free agent. He cannot do what he considers right if his opinion is not in accord with the platform which may from time to time be adopted by his party.
– What about Mr. Glynn and Mr. Irvine?
– I have nothing at all to do with them. They are free agents, and they can do what they think fit.
– So can a Labour man.
.- At what peril?
– At the same peril. We would fire them out, and I suppose you would fire them out.
– You would undoubtedly fire them out. The Government were unable to carry these proposals when they were not a plank of the Labour party’s platform, but because there is a majority of the Labour party in favour of them now, they are going to make members of the party come to heel and support these proposalsor go out at once. When these referenda proposals were before the country some time ago a number of prominent members of the Labour party, particularly in New South Wales, were not favorable to them, and an attempt was made to compel those gentlemen to support them because they were brought forward by a Labour Government. Mr. Holman was one gentleman who was most troublesome on this question ; and, to show the feeling that existed amongst the Labour party respecting this gentleman. I shall quote the following extracts from a letter which appeared in the papers at that time, signed by Mr. Driscoll -
Sir, -You needn’t worry about Mr. Holman and the referendum. He can blow off steam about what he is going to do, and butter no parsnips in the operation. He and Mr. McGowen and Mr. Griffith and Mr. Flowers, with one or two other Labourites, expressed very emphatic opinions about the financial agreement referendum, but when it came to toeing the mark they had to fall into line with their bosses, the Labour organizations, or be thrust aside. The Conference is supreme, and woe betide the Labourite M.P., be he Prime Minister or rankandfiler, who dares to act contrary to its directions. We are top dog in the political arena, and no man in the Labour movement has any right to exercise any individual opinion on matters of public policy ; it is destructive of that solidarity which is the backbone of the Labour movement in politics and in the unions. The days of individual judgment and action in the Labour world are past. Collective opinion and collective action alone count. The Conference will either bring Mr. Holmnn to heel or pass him out if he is stubborn. The choice lies with himself. - Yours, &c,
January 27. T. P. Driscoll.
That is a plain and definite declaration of the policy of the Labour party upon these great constitutional matters : and yet we hear honorable senators say that they should not be dealt with as a party question.’ I interjected last night, when one honorable senator was speaking, that there was not a single member of the Labour party who would dare to vote against these proposals - nor is there - not because all members of the Labour party honestly believe in them-, but because some of them are coerced into supporting them. What has been the effect upon one of the best and ablest members of the Labour party who has had to resign from the New South Wales Government?
– He was never one of our best men ; he was a rotter all his life.
.-He was selected as one of the members of the Ministry by the Caucus, and has done his work well, and stood well by them until he now finds that he cannot swallow these proposals. Mr. Beeby considered it necessary to give reasons why he left the party. There may be some who charge him with being a rotter and all sorts of things now that they find that they cannot bring him to heel.
– It is because he is a rat ; he thinks he is leaving a sinking ship.
– I must ask the honorable senator to obey the standing order which provides that no honorable senator shall use offensive words against any member of the House of a State Parliament.
– Permit me to say that Mr. Beeby, having resigned his seat, is not a member of any State Parliament. “’
– I believe the honorable senator is correct. Mr. Beeby has resigned, not only from the Government, but his seat in the State House, in order that his constituents may have an opportunity of saying whether they will return him or not. because he no longer subscribes to the Labour platform. So far as that platform is concerned, he was elected as a straight-out Labourite, but he found it necessary to separate himself from the party in consequence of a difference of opinion regarding this last plank that has been added to the party’s programme. Mr. Beeby says this-
Having come into conflict with the Labour party on what I consider to be a matter of supreme importance, and having given expression to opinions which must lead tomy exclusion from that party in the future, the only course open to me was to resign altogether from Parliament, and give my constituents an opportunity of saying whether or not they desire me to continue as their representative’. When the referendum proposals were last before the State they were not included in the Labour platform, and I opposed the amendments of the Constitution which were then submitted. Since then the adoption of these amendments has been placed upon the platform of the party.
I strenuously opposed their inclusion, and urged that an issue of this kind should not be subject to party control, but that every member of the party should have the right to place his own views before the State. This right, however, was refused.
– It was included eleven months- ago. That was his time to get out if he did not agree with it.
– - No; his time was to get out when it became an active matter for the public to deal with. Mr. Beeby goes on to say -
T believe that the Labour party has made a fatal mistake in this attempt to subjugate its representatives and supporters into the acceptance nf any amendments of the Federal Constitution which the Federal Parliament might propose.
I have always supported the party in its endeavour to obtain from representatives allegiance to a definite platform of legislation. But during the last two years the tendency has been to. go beyond the original conception of solidarity, and dragoon adherents into the support if matters upon which freedom of thought and action was previously conceded.
The. acceptance of these proposals will have a- disastrous effect on future progress. The government of Australia will become hideously complex. The Federal and State Parliaments will have- concurrent power of legislation in almost every important field. The High Court will become permanently occupied in defining tile; respective functions of the two Governments on all important questions.
Almost every law passed by a State Parliament will become liable -to- review by the High Court, as to whether or not it is inconsistent with a Federal enactment. The interpretation of law will be a subject of perpetual technical conflict. Government will not be simplified, but made bewilderingly complex.
States Constitution, and in every detail the Constitution was framed for a federal government. To-day we are asked to completely depart from the federal conception without refraining the Constitution.
We are asked to go two-thirds of the way to unification without making the necessary corresponding alterations in ‘the Parliamentary machine. There is no objection to the supporters of the. referendum advocating unification. But there, is objection to their trying to conceal the effect of their amendments, and claiming that they only amount to a transfer of federal functions..
That”, is. only portion of the address which this gentleman saw fit to issue upon his retirement from the Government of New South- Wales
– ls it necessary to give tis that ? We all know Mr. Beeby’s views on the. referenda- proposals.
.- We all know Mr. Beeby’s views, and we all know the views of Mr. Holman; Mr. McGowen, the Premier of New South Wales; Mr. Estell, the Government Whip in New South Wales ; and Mr. Flowers, the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council ; in fact, more than halt of the members of the State Government of New South Wales have expressed opinions in opposition to these referenda proposals.
– You are a long way short of a majority of State Labour members in Australia.
– I realize that. But I assume that these referenda would not be on the platform of the party unless a majority believed in them. I say that it is unfair to the minority to dragoon them, and say that there can be no room for a difference of opinion upon the question. They may be good and sound men as far as the rest of the platform is concerned, but when it comes to the vital question of destroying much of the autonomy of the States, the Labour party say, “We are not going to allow you to express an opinion.” That is grossly unfair. I say that members of the Labour party are not in a position to give a straightout honest vote on this question. Many of them will give a straightout honest vote, but there’ are others who will have to give a dishonest vote or lose their position as far as membership of the» Labour party is concerned.
– Some of your party are in the same position.
– None of our party are in the same position. Any member can do what he. likes.
– What about Mr. Irvine and Mr. Sampson?
– They have advanced reasons for holding a different opinion.
– Their reason for their present attitude is that they have to stick to their own party.
– No. Yesterday, when Senator O’Keefe was speaking, he said that there was a flagrant party utterance made by a certain individual - that if the powers were necessary it was dangerous to give them to the party in power. The honorable senator referred . to further said that it was dangerous to give these powers to a party in power with the aims and objects which they had in view, and which they wanted to effect by means of this legislation.
– Does not that mean that he would like these powers for his own party if he thought they were necessary ?
– It is no part of my duty to defend members of the Liberal party ; they can all defend themselves. There is an opportune and inopportune time for doing things, and the wise man takes the opportune, not the inopportune, time to do a particular thing. Honorable senators on the other side say, “ The Liberal party say they are coming into power, and why do they not take these powers if they think they are necessary?” We say we do not think they are necessary. We have stated authoritatively that we are prepared to give our consent to any amendment in the Constitution that may be necessary in order to effectively carry out the powers already embodied in the Constitution. We recognise that many powers require assistance in order that they may be carried out effectively. We are prepared to give that assistance but we are not prepared to take away from the States their rights of selfgovernment.
– Neither does the Labour party. Why do you repeat it time after time, like a donkey braying?
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT (GOULD. - I am addressing senators whose brains apparently require assistance. The Labour party is a party of tyranny and class prejudice. The Vice-President of the Executive Council talked about Unification and the brains which are required to grasp these things. But let me point out the way in which he desires to see the powers of this Parliament exercised. He knows that the interpretation of the Constitution rests with the High Court, but he wants the High Court to be composed of Justices who will see as he sees, and interpret the law as he desires. That is not a function of the High Court. What did the honorable senator say so recently as Friday last? He said -
Some members of the High Court Bench have done all they possibly can to narrow the powers of the Commonwealth, and to conserve or widen the powers of the States ; and if that is notevidence of the State Rights mania, I do not know what is. But I hope the day will come when there will be Australians on the High Court Bench.
Let me remind him here that the High Court Bench has a duty to perform whether it is composed of little Australians, as he chooses to term some of them, or of great Australians; and one duty is to hold the balance fairly between the States and the Commonwealth, to see that neither attempts to intrude upon the province of the tother. To charge the High Court Bench with having done all they possibly could to narrow the powers of the Commonwealth and to conserve and widen the powers of the States, is to make an unwarranted allegation. I have quoted decisions of the High Court which maintained the position of the Commonwealth, and other decisions which maintained the position of the States. The Judges have to hold the balance of power fairly. I believe that they are put on the Bench because they not only have a knowledge of law, but are able to deal with any matter judicially without fear, or favour, or affection towards an individual or an institution. Further on, the Vice-President of the Executive Council said -
I want an interpretation that will be broad and Australian, not narrow and in the interests of the States.
Is that a proper remark to make in regard to the Judges of the High Court?
– It is.
– Again the honorable senator said -
I want the Constitution to be framed, interpreted, administered, and amended when necessary, in the interests of the people of Australia as those interests appear to me, and so does every member of the party to which I belong.
– In the meantime you want your own party represented on the High Court Bench.
– I want the views of this party represented on the High Court Bench-,
– Read on.
– I intend to read on - and I say that they are represented there, because, in many of the decisions, the view held by this party has been given expression to.
We do not want the views of any party represented on the High Court Bench, but we want the meaning of the laws expressed there.
– If they cannot find a flaw, they will make one. They have done it now in the Officers case.
– A man who has a grievance in regard to a particular decision is very apt to complain of the action of the Judges because they did not see through his spectacles.
– It has nothing to do with me. The men spent thousands of pounds on their case, and now the Judges find a flaw for them.
– The honorable senator objects because the decision of the Court is not such as he thinks ought to have been given. I admit there are many pitfalls and difficulties to contend with in connexion with the interpretation of the various Statutes. What do we find after the speech of Senator McGregor ? A Bill is brought down - to do what? - to add to the High Court Bench at this particular juncture, not merely to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Justice O’Connor, but to appoint two additional Judges, and then to make further provision regarding the decision of constitutional matters.
– Order. I hope the honorable senator will not start to discuss that measure, because it is being considered in the other House.
– We have cognisance of such a Bill having been brought before the other House, because that fact is disclosed by the Votes and Proceedings of the other House, which are placed on the table of this Chamber. I admit that it is not competent for me to discuss the provisions of the Bill, but I submit that I should be allowed to refer to any matter appearing on the official records of the other House which are supplied for our information.
– I did not prevent the honorable senator from stating that a Bill had been introduced with the object of increasing the number of Judges on the High Court Bench, but he then proceeded to go into the provisions of the Bill.”
– I only propose to say that a Bill has been introduced to increase the number of Judges and to deal with the majority for the decision of constitutional matters. The very introduction of the Bill, taken with the utterance of Senator McGregor, at once raised a question as to whether the Labour party desire to place themselves in such a position as to have the Constitution - interpreted, administered, and amended where necessary in the interests of the people of Australia, as those interests appear to me, and so does every member of the party to which I belong.
– The honorable senator knows that once a Judge is appointed to the High Court he is there for life.
– Unless, of course, he is removed in consequence of misbehaviour. .
– Therefore he is in an independent position to express his opinion.
– The point is, a,re we to regard this an an authoritative utterance on the part of Senator McGregor that the Labour party want the laws interpreted, administered, and amended as the interests of thepeople appear to him and his supporters? In my opinion, we do not want that at all. Our duty in the framing of the laws is to express our opinions in apt words so that the Judges may always gather from the laws a full knowledge of the intention of Parliament. It is the duty of a Judge, even if he is opposed to every provision of a law, to carry out the law fairly and honestly; and, as Senator St. Ledger reminds me, he takes an oath to do so.
– Nobody ever wants them to do anything else.
– I am very glad to get that disclaimer from Senator McGregor. He knows that there are very good reasons why we should not, except on a specific motion, discuss the decisions or the conduct of the Judges on the Bench. That has been done, not only here, but in another place. It is a very great pity that such references should be made, because, if one man praises the uprightness or the integrity of the Judges, or the way in which they perform their duties, another man, who thinks they are not acting as they should, may wish to express the opposite opinion. One of the great advantages of the rule that Judges should not be criticised in Parliament except on a specific motion, is to enable them more effectively to discharge the duties of their office, and, at the same time, to create what is of vital importance to a community, and that is, the belief that the Judges can be trusted in all circumstance*, and that, even if a decision is given against a man, he must respect that decision, and be satisfied that it was honestly arrived at, however disagreeableit may be to him.
– Is there not a broad distinction between the wisdom of a Judge and his honesty?
– A decision may be given by the High Court to-day with which the honorable senator and I may not agree, but we can say, “ There is the law authoritatively declared, and now it is our duty to see if we cannot amend it, “and then, of course, we are free to discuss the decision, not from the stand-point of the Judges, but from the stand-point of the law. Senator E. J. Russell mentioned in his speech that there was a great economic change coming over the community ; that now we have collective bargaining and effective organization of both employers and employes ; that the system was entirely different from that which obtained in the old days when individuals or ordinary partnerships conducted business. I admit all that, but it does not help forward thisproposal to obtain authority to override powers which are now vested in the States. Honorable senators opposite have to show that it is necessary to make a change, and to do that they will have to proceed in an entirely different way. Originally, this Parliament was empowered to legislate with respect to -
Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.
But now it is proposed to obtain power to regulate -
Trade and commerce, but not including trade and commerce upon railways the property of a State, except so far as it is trade and commerce with other countries or among the States.
Apparently, the Government propose that, so far as the railways of a State are concerned, we should not interfere with trade and commerce so long as it is Intrastate and not Inter- State. That is proposed with a view of saying, “ We recognise that railways are instrumentalities of the States, and that we have no right to interfere with them unless they come within the scope of our trade and commerce power.” The Government also desire that this Parliament should be clothed with power to. legislate with regard to -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes in relation to employment in the railway service of a State.
A few years ago when we first dealt with the question of conciliation and arbitration, provision was made for the case of railway servants, and it was held to be ultra vires of our powers, since we could not interfere with State instrumentalities. It is now proposed, in one
Bill, to observe the powers of the States as regards Intra- State trade and commerce, but, in another. Bill, to take a very wide power to deal with conciliation and arbitration in relation to their railway servants. Why should we attempt to interfere with the States in dealing with their own servants ? The States provide the money for the construction of railways and the payment of railway servants, and are responsible for the freights and charges imposed. Once we take from the State authorities the power to control the railway employes, we take from them practically the control of the railways. The Government say that it is not proposed to interfere with trade and commerce within the boundaries of a State, but at the same time they propose to dictate to the State authorities what they consider necessary and proper conditions to be observed between those authorities and their servants.
– Would not a big dispute in connexion with the railways of one State prejudicially affect the working of the railways in other States?
– If such a dispute extends beyond the boundaries of a State it at once comes within the Federal power. We know that in Victoria, some time ago, there was a big railway strike, but the Victorian Parliament found no difficulty in dealing with it.
– By passing legislation which the honorable senator would not dare to introduce.
– The Victorian Parliament passed legislation which effectively dealt with the strike, and I say that the State authorities have ample power to deal with any dispute occurring between their servants and themselves. If the State Governments are out of harmony with their employes, public opinion will still exercise its proper influence. If the railway servants of the State are being unfairly dealt with by the Government, the people of the State will be in a position to remedy their grievances. We are bound to recognise the sovereign powers of the States. When they federated it was never intended that this Parliament should assume the position of an overlord. Coming to the question of the regulation and control of corporations, it is generally admitted that ‘ certain amendments of the Constitution are necessary for this purpose, but not such extensive powersas are asked for in these measures. The
Government ask for an amendment of the Constitution to enable this Parliament to deal with corporations formed under the law of a State, including the creation, dissolution, regulation, and control, of such corporations, ‘but not including municipal or governmental corporations, or corporations formed solely for religious, charitable, or scientific purposes, and not for the acquisition of gain by the corporation or its members. The Government desire to be in a position, so far as State railways are concerned, to regulate the wages and conditions of railway employes, but when we come to deal with corporations they disclaim any desire for power to deal with municipal or governmental corporations. Suppose the case of a governmental or municipal corporation formed for the construction and working of a railway, I ask whether it is intended that the proposed amendment of the Constitution to enable this Parliament to interfere in connexion with industrial disputes in the railway services of the States should cover a case of that kind.
– Has the honorable senator no confidence in the ability of the Courts to decide such a matter?
– I should have confidence in the ability of the Courts to decide such a matter if it were referred to them.
– Would not the authority mentioned by the honorable senator be a governmental corporation?
– My point is that the railway, under its control, would not be a State railway. But that is a matter which is open to argument, and I say that it would have to be dealt with should the proposed amendments of the Constitution be made. We have another measure proposing that powers should be asked for in connexion with labour and unemployment, and the AttorneyGeneral was quite right in saying that by the proposed amendments of the Constitution the Government are seeking for the transference to this Parliament of tremendous powers. It is not, in my opinion, right that we should attempt to interfere with the autonomy of the States in dealing with matters of this kind. Can they effectively deal with them within their own borders? I say that they can. Senator Russell has told us this morning that Wages Boards in Victoria have made attempts to deal with industrial matters, but that a Minister has been in a position to exercise a power of veto upon their decisions. That is a matter entirely for the consideration of the people of Victoria. If they believethat Wages Boards should have authority to regulate certain matters, and that noMinister of the Crown should have theright to override their decisions, they cansecure the passage of legislation to give effect to their desire. They need not, unless they please, leave this autocratic power in the hands of any Minister. The question of the influence of the LegislativeCouncils does not come in here at all. The veto referred to is exercised by a Minister of the Crown, who owes his position tothe good-will of the people of the State. If necessary, he may at any time be forced to make way for another, and we may besure that no Minister would veto the decisions of a Wages Board if he believed that the people generally approved of those decisions. The people might provide that the decisions of a Wages Board should ‘be referred to a judicial tribunal if those concerned had reason to believe that they would operate unjustly. We have heard many complaints about the LegislativeCouncils of the States blocking legislation from time to time. I recognise that in some of the States the Legislative Councillors are nominees of the Crown, and that inother States they are elected on a restricted’ franchise.
– On a property qualification.
– Even men who have ‘been elected’ upon a property qualification become amenable to the influence of public opinionHonorable members opposite may laugh, but they cannot deny that the real powerrests, after all, with the House elected by the popular vote. We know that even in> the case of the House of Lords, a legislative body entrenched behind centuries of power and the recognition of authority, the Imperial Government were able to carrydrastic and startling reforms. If such a thing could be done in the case of theHouse of Lords, why not in the case of theLegislative Councils’ of these States ? Tohear some persons speak one would imagine that the possession of property necessarily places a man in direct antagonism to thebest interests of the country. It may be urged that an Upper House elected upon a restricted franchise is bound to be a veryconservative body, but the most conservative House must eventually recognise the desires of the people in the government of” the country. It has been pointed out .that there is a marked difference between the methods ^employed in the Bill dealing with trusts and combines and that dealing with the nationalization of monopolies for the definition of a monopoly. Under the first measure the Court is to be asked to define what a monopoly is, and under the second practically the Government of the -day will do so, if they desire to nationalize a particular industry. This is a matter which, in my opinion, would be much better left to the decision of the Court than to the decision of any Parliament. We should, I think, in the first place, indicate the monopolies it is proposed to deal with, though in dealing with widely differing industries it becomes difficult to define what a monopoly is, but I assume that in the absence of any express definition by Parliament a Court would be guided by accepted definitions and the circumstances of each case brought under its notice.
– Could the honorable senator give a definition of “ monopoly “ which would cover everything?
– Probably I could not, but I have said that in my view the matter should be left to the Court. That is proposed in one of the Government measures, but in that referring to the nationalization of monopolies a most dangerous proposal is made, and this Parliament is to be asked to define what is a monopoly which should be nationalized. If the dominant party in Parliament desire to nationalize a particular industry they will be in a. position under the Government proposals to declare it to be a monopoly, and may thus give effect to their desire by a purely party vote. This is a most dangerous power in view of the fact that we have a party which does so much of its work “behind the backs of the people, and gives so little information concerning the way in which its decisions are arrived at. Let us say, for the sake’ of argument, that one political party numbers seventy out of a total of in parliamentary representatives.
– That is the whole “trouble.
– That is undoubtedly a serious matter. There may be forty men in the Labour party who favour the nationalization of a particular industry. They consider the matter in caucus, and decide that that should be done, notwithstanding the protest of the other thirty members of the party. Then the whole of the seventy members of the party come out from the caucus, and vote in the one way.
– The honorable senator knows all about the workings of the party, does he not?
– We have heard of the solidarity of the Labour party, and we know that whatever a majority of the party determines upon the whole of the members of the party must stand by it. I say that there is here a very considerable difficulty at once raised when the Government begin to deal with the interests of private individuals.
– But there is no sane man in the Labour party who is not in favour of the nationalization of monopolies.
– Senator Russell has told us this morning that trusts and combines are the natural evolution of industry. If an industry, when established, is successful and gradually swallows up competitors in the same line of business, it becomes a monopoly, and, according to Senator Russell, the Government of the day should then nationalize it.
– Not necessarily; it may not be a destructive monopoly.
– That is so; but the Government are proposing an amendment of the Constitution which would give them that power. A Government may find themselves in financial difficulties. They may realize that if a particular industry were nationalized, they would, by its operation, be able to make money for the people, and might at once proceed to do so. We know that the idea of a great many members of the Labour party is to bring about the nationalization of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and members holding such views would be perfectly consistent in proposing the nationalization of any paying industry. We have heard much talk of the Tobacco Monopoly, the Sugar Monopoly, and other alleged monopolies. The majority of the members of the Labour party might very well say, “ Why should we not nationalize these monopolies in the interests of the public? They are making big profits, and it’ would be better that the returns from them should be used for the benefit of the people at large than that they should continue to go into the pockets of a few persons.”
Honorable senators have to bear in mind that an industry that is great to-day probably had to struggle hard in its early days. It may have succeeded by good management, good fortune, or other fortuitous circumstances. Why should we deprive people who have worked up an industry until it becomes successful, of the fruits of their labours? Is it a fair thing? Suppose that another body of men spend their money on another industry, and are unfortunate? Will the Commonwealth come to their help?
– It does, by means of the old-age pension.
– That is bringing the matter down to the point of absurdity.
– Such a company will have lost other people’s money.
– People invest because they want to make money.
– Does the honorable senator expect us to nationalize the failures?
– The party opposite are only going to nationalize the successes.
– Absolutely !
– What encouragement is there to build up a great industry if success simply means destruction for those who have laboured? A country will never be built up to a degree of greatness by a policy of that kind. Honorable senators opposite compare Canada with Australia.
– Canada is 150 years older than Australia is.
– In many respects, she is 150 years ahead of us. We give our people little or no encouragement. On the contrary, we adopt a policy which will discourage people from enterprise. We hear over and over again of the corruption that exists in America through the working of trusts and combines. We are told how they get hold of Congress and obtain concessions which would be impossible except for the improper influences they exert. Take the converse position. Suppose that the Commonwealth said that it intended to nationalize some great industry, would there not be a temptation for people to try to manipulate members of Parliament in order to prevent the nationalization of a concern from- which they derive profits ? There is just as great an incentive for that to be done as there is for powerful combinations to resort to corrupt means in America. Fortunately, Australia has so farbeeb able to keep free from great and. grave scandals of that kind. We are told that the scandals that have occurred in America have been due to the concessions which trusts and combines have been able to obtain from governing authorities, and also from railways. Although the railways in Australia are controlled by the States, still there are opportunities for individuals to approach members of Parliament and say, “ There are good reasonswhy you should see eye to eye with us in regard to our industry.” There will be opportunities for interested persons to throw out baits and to use improper methods. We were told a little while ago-‘ that some industries in this country havecontributed largely to the funds of certainpolitical organizations. We were even toldi that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company paid . £50,000 to the account of the organization of the Liberal party. I do not believe it. I do not believe that the Liberal party ever controlled anything approaching-. £50,000. Whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ever gave anything, I do not know.
– Money was poured out. like water in New South Wales.
– They have offered one man £5,000 for one speech in the Sydney Town Hall.
– I should like to know who was offered that sum.
– The honorable senator might guess the name in two guesses. He knows it as well as I do.
– I certainly do not. I do not believe that any one was ever offered” £5,000 for any speech ; no such fact has ever come within my knowledge. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, however, that an organization does receive large sums of money to fight a political battle at the poll. Is that wrong, if the money is properly expended? It is very different from the utilization of funds to manipulate members of Parliament.
– There is not the same likelihood of trusts flourishing here as in America.
– By these proposals the Government are acting unfairly to people who are carrying on big enterprises. Moreover, no Government that we have ever known yet has been capable of properly and efficiently administering a great industry. I have before me the report of the Sugar Commission. What do the Commissioners say? These gentlemen were appointed to investigate thoroughly the whole of the conditions affecting the sugar industry, and to make recommendations. It was believed by honorable senators opposite that the Commission would recommend the nationalization of the industry.
– The Opposition -said that it was a packed Commission appointed to serve a certain purpose.
– I do not care what any party :said. I am prepared to take the report as it stands. These Commissioners were appointed by the present Administration, who, I assume, were satisfied that they would give an honest and unbiased judgment.
– You have been cursing these men ever since they were appointed ; now you bless them.
– I know that this report is a bitter, pill for the Labour party. Nevertheless, let us hear what the Commissioners say -
Advocates of the public ownership of industries rightly dwell upon the avoidance of wastes of competition, but, in the case of the refining industry in Australia, such wastes are negligible. Further, taking into consideration the various difficulties with which public ownership has to contend, and the high efficiency of the present refining business in Australia, we do not think that the public ownership of the refineries would prove as financially successful as the present private ownership.
The cost of nationalizing the refining industry would involve an initial capital outlay of some millions by the time allowance had been made for the cost of refineries, good-will, floating capital, &c. To secure a fair interest on this capital outlay without penalizing consumers would, we believe, be difficult, if not impossible.
– They also urge the regulation of prices.
– They point out that it would tie impossible to nationalize the refinery industry in the interests of the public at large. From this we may learn what would be the effect if we tried to nationalize other industries. I have no doubt that the same difficulty would be experienced in regard to the tobacco industry. The Minister of Defence at one time was very keen with regard to that. He secured the appointment of a Royal Commission which took evidence. Would he be prepared, with the knowledge that he has since gained, to say that such an industry should be taken over by the Commonwealth, and that it could be run with advantage to the Commonwealth itself?
– I do.
– No attempt has been made in that direction. No proposal has been made.
– We cannot.
– What is the use of talking rot like that, when the honorable senator knows that we cannot do it?
– The people of this country will never be prepared to allow the Commonwealth Government to nationalize all these great industries. But, even if they did so, the Government would simply make a failure of the attempt. The influences that are brought to bear upon any Government render it incapable of managing industries efficiently and properly. I do not know of any Government industry that has been a success. We have had scandals over and over again. Take the Fitzroy Dock, where our war-ships are being built. The industry conducted there has not attained its present position without grave scandals.
– All the charges have been disproved.
– When a great industry is controlled by private individuals, no matter what their political views may be, they exercise all their energies and abilities with one end in view. They have not to keep their eyes open to ascertain how one party or another may favour any particular step. All they have to do is to keep within the limits of the law, and devote themselves to their business. But that is not so with a Government enterprise. Take the irrigation works at Yanco, in New South Wales. We have had scandals there. A Minister who has constituents who want work, sends them up to Yanco. Supporter after supporter of Ministers has been sent there. They have very little to do, and everybody knows it. One of the gags in use in a theatre in Sydney is founded upon this state of things. One of the actors says, “I “have plenty of money; I have ^30 a week.” Another says, “ What are you working at?” “ Oh,” says the first man, “ I arn not working; I am at Yanco.” Of course, our railways are run by .the State Governments, but even as to them it is recognised that business management cannot be conducted satisfactorily under political influence. The Governments of the States have therefore divested themselves of direct control over the railways, and placed them in the hands of Commissioners, who exercise their powers under Acts of Parliament, often in direct opposition to a political Minister.
– There is a great movement in England for the nationalization of the railways.
– I am showing that you have to get rid of political control in regard to railways before they can be successfully managed. They still belong to the State, but, instead of the Government being allowed to say in what way they shall be managed, Commissioners are appointed as managers. These are selected, I presume, on account of their business ability and capacity.
– Are we not doing the same in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank ?
– Are you going in for wholesale nationalization, and do you propose to appoint independent Commissioners to deal with each industry ? If so, we shall have Federal officials from one end of the country to the other. Where are you going to get the money to take over all these industries? You have to go to those who have money, and it is not likely that you will get money from those who have already made it in order to destroy the opportunities of private individuals to make it. An honorable senator wanted to know about the fixing of prices. That is another fallacy which was exploded years ago. It is quite impossible to fix the price of everything that is produced in this country. If you are going to fix the price of one commodity, or the prices pf half-a-dozen commodities, why not fix the prices of all? Last year we exported produce to the value of £51,000,000, and minerals to the value of £11,000,000. Where were the prices fixed of the articles which we exported ? They were not fixed in Australia; they were fixed in other parts “of the world. Last year we exported £10,000,000 worth of wheat, £26,000,000 worth of wool, and £4,000,000 worth of butter. How could we fix the prices of those particular commodities ?
– They were sold perhaps half-a-dozen times on the voyage.. The prices were changing all the time.
– That is due to speculation, but the price of wheat was fixed in Mark. Lane. How are you going to fix the price- for your wool?
– How does Mark. Lane fix the price?
– By the demand of the world at large. We might say, “ We shall not allow anybody to export a certain commodity from this country,” but would that benefit the people of Australia?
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 f.m.
– I ask honorable senators, can they indicate any way by which they would be able to regulate the prices of the commodities that we export? If it were possible to consume the whole of those commodities in the country, it might be doneby excluding imports, but, under existingconditions, the prices which our principal’ commodities realize are dependent uponcompetition in the markets of the world. It would be just as impossible to regulatethe price of bread as to regulate the priceof flour or of wheat. If we produced such a quantity of wheat or flour as wassufficient for our own consumption only, there might be a method by which prices might be regulated.
– Would you prevent combines from charging an exorbitant price for foodstuffs?
– I do not see how it can be done by legislation. Whatever may be said to the contrary, the law of supply and demand will always prevail in connexion with the regulation of prices. If you have an enormous quantity of any commodity in the market, the price will go down, and if you have a shortage the price will go up.
– In Western Australia we always have a good, supply of meat, but still the price has kept up.
– It may be that the price has kept up because there is a short supply, although there may be a good supply in point of quality. If you pay the price you can get any quantity of foodstuffs. It may be that the small supply of meat actually available for the local market has kept up the price, or it may be that it pays better to export meat than to sell it in the local market. I know that honorable senators opposite talk about various combines that are going to control the market. Whether those combines are operating or not I do not know, but I am quite sure that no legislation we can devise will be effective in regulating prices.
– Supposing there is only one buyer for a certain product. Take the small fruits in the southern parts of Tasmania : What does it matter to that one buyer whether the yield is small or large?
– How are you going to increase the number of your buyers? If a buyer will not, give a reasonable price, there is always the outside market to which to send your fruit.
– It is impossible to send perishable fruits any distance.
– I know that fruit is sent from Tasmania to London.
– I refer to small fruits.
– I dare say there is a difficulty in that respect, but the producers can sell to the jam manufacturer or to people who will preserve the fruit. But I ask the honorable senator to tell me how he is going to increase the number of purchasers of that fruit?
– It is a question not of increasing the number of purchasers, but of insuring to the grower fair prices for his product.
– That is one of the difficulties which these proposals are not going to get over. The Government cannot say that no man shall sell his produce under a certain price. A man sells his produce at the best price he can get, because he does not want to lose it absolutely, and because he wants the money to carry on his ordinary business. You cannot devise such a system as will effectively protect all the producers of the country in the sale of their produce.
– Is it not a simple process to regulate the price of timber, coal, or oil?
– I do not think it is a simple process where you have a large number of producers .competing one with the other.
– Is there any competition in coal, oil, or timber?
– I will say this with regard “Jo coal : It is well known that coal was .so reduced in price by the competition amongst the various colliery owners that they not only had to be content with little or no profit, but had to cut down the wages of those who were winning the coal to such an extent that the men were almost unable to live. Then the Coal Vend was established in connexion with the regulation of the price, and the Coal Vend in fixing their prices had to keep an eye on the price of the coal that entered into competition with them in the other markets of the world. Our local consumption is small as compared with the quantity that can be sold for export under fair and reasonable conditions. The coal proprietors said to the coal miners, “ We will give you so much for winning the coal whilst it is at a certain price; as the price rises or falls, so will your wages be increased or reduced.” We know what was. the result of the prosecution of the Coal Vend. The Court held that it had npt been proved that it was in restraint of trade and to the detriment of the public, and those who have a knowledge of the coal-producing districts of New ‘South Wales believe that it was a common-sense decision, so far as regulating the price of coal is concerned. But you have quite a different position in connexion with the growing of small fruits. You have not the same opportunity of having prices regulated. I know that in the report of the Sugar Commission there is a suggestion made regarding the regulation of the price of sugar. It is proposed that a certain price should be fixed, and that there should be an import duty rising and falling according to the price at which sugar is selling outside. That is proposed in order to protect the consumer from paying ari excessive price. It has to be borne in mind that an import duty is being imposed at the present time in order to insure the continuance of the industry in the country. The whole system of bounties, duties, and Excise is based on that principle. A suggestion has been made to get rid of the bounty and Excise in respect of sugar, and have a sliding import duty, which would be increased or reduced according to the prices in the outside market. I know that in the early part of the last century a great deal of attention was paid in Great Britain to the question of a duty on wheat. It was desired there to regulate the price of wh°at, but in the thirties that was abandoned. I have expressed my opinion regarding the regulation of prices. I- am told that the only possible way to carry out the system of new Protection is to regulate duties, wages, and selling prices. If honorable senators intend to regulate the price of wheat they will have to regulate the rates of wages and rentals, in fact, to establish what so many persons desire, and that is a co-operative Commonwealth. We know >that an attempt was made- to establish a new Australia in Paraguay, arid the disastrous result of that attempt is a matter of history. I ask, do honorable senators wish ‘to increase the population of this country and its prosperity ?
– Hear, hear; that is why we want the Constitution altered.
.- Then my honorable friends will have to .do all they possibly can to induce settlement. We cannot be a self-contained nation, with a population of only 4,560,000, especially if we wish to have a White Australia. If we want to carry out that policy, our continent will have to be filled up with white men. Again, if my honorable friends wish Australia to continue as. a portion of the British Dominions, they will have to let outside nations see that we. intend to make use of the country, and not to allow it to lie idle for all time. If, however, my honorable friends say that no man shall Be entitled to the fruits of his labour if he becomes successful, .they will distinctly place this country . at a disadvantage in comparison with other countries which are endeavouring to attract population, and which say to people, “ Here are opportunities afforded to you .to make homes, and to improve your position. The Government will protect and assist you in all legitimate ways; and you will not feel that if you establish an industry legitimately you will do so at the peril of having it taken away by the Government by means of a party vote or a’ dishonest vote.” My honorable friends will have to guard against these things ‘if they wish to make this country prosperous, and enable it to become what it ought to be. They have been asked to say why they are not satisfied with the decision which the people gave two years ago in regard to similar proposals. I am not one of those who say that the Government have no right to’ re-submit any proposals. If they consider they are of vital importance, and that there is a , reasonable prospect of inducing the people to accept them, I do not see why they should not re-submit them. But 1 submit that it is not fair to say that if the people will not take the proposals this time, or at any time, the Government will appeal time after time, like the importunate widow, until at last they manage to force the acceptance of some of the proposals. I admit that in ipu the Labour party did not get as big a vote as they will probably receive at the next referendum. The probability is that at a referendum taken in conjunction with a general election they will get a very large vote. While I believe that probably they will get a much greater vote on the next occasion, at the same time I do not believe they will achieve anything near success. There are two or three reasons which lead me to think that the Labour party will obtain a larger vote. First, a large number of persons will be anxious to go to the poll at the general election; and, secondly, the amendment of the Constitution has been made a plank in the Labour platform ; and thirdly, fair notice has been given to every person belonging to the Labour party that he has either to accept these proposals, whether he likes them or not, or to dissociate himself from the party. In fact, there has been a distinct attempt to dragoon a large number of the people into accepting proposals which are really opposed to their better judgment. I can understand the Labour party endeavouring to induce the people to accept the proposals, to point out what they consider the advantages of accepting them, because that is a perfectly legitimate way of fighting. But it is not a legitimate thing to tell men that they will have to keep out of the party, or to swallow what the Government have determined is for their good.
– What happens to members of your party when they will not subscribe to a thing?
– Nothing happens to them.
– Out they go.
– Senator Gould votes more often with this Government than does Senator Rae.
.- Why ? Sometimes I think the Government are on the right side, and so I vote wilh them. I do not support them when I think that they are wrong.
– Nor does Senator Rae.
– No; he is one of the honorable senators who manage to kick over the traces occasionally, and I dare say that he gets talked to. I decline to be a party to withdrawing what I regard as purely State powers from the States under the specious reasoning that the Commonwealth will be able to do better for the people than the States can do. Wherever the States have power under the Constitution to deal with their own affairs, we have no right to interfere. It is all nonsense on the part of honorable senators opposite to tell the States that they cannot manage to do what is best in the interests of their people, and that, therefore, the Commonwealth is going to overlord them, and tell them what they ought to do. That is all very well with a paternal form of government, but we do not wish to live under such a system. I am prepared to consider any reasonable proposals which will enable the Commonwealth to exercise effectively the powers which are already conferred by the Constitution, or any powers which may be regarded as of a national character, and which are already given to the Commonwealth, so long as it carefully abstains from dealing with business which pertains purely to the States. I am prepared to strictly observe the relative powers of the States and the Commonwealth, but, beyond that, I do not think that any reasonable man should be expected to go. If my honorable friends show me that there are powers which ought to be exercised by the National Parliament, and which really concern the whole of Australia, I am willing to assist them to exercise those powers, but I am not willing to assist them to capture powers which belong purely to the States. I do not propose to detain the Senate much longer. I have experienced great difficulty in discussing these proposals, because they have been dealt with at great length in another place, and the reasons and arguments given there have gone forth to the public much more extensively than will the reasons and arguments used here. I think that the Chamber which has the first opportunity of dealing with proposals of this kind is that which will command the greatest attention and get its views disseminated more widely throughout the States.
– I think that this is essentially a question for the Senate.
– Certainly, if the Senate, is regarded as the States House; but while I recognise that it is our duty’ to see that the interests of the States are properly safeguarded, I do not go so far as to say that we have no right to look at these proposals from anyother stand-point. I trust that when .these proposals are submitted to the people there; will be such a strong majority against their acceptance as to put an end to this agitation for some time to come; but if, on the other hand, the proposals are accepted by the people, so much the worse for the country.
– It is somewhat interesting to notice the attitude of the Opposition to- these measures, and to let the people of Australia know exactly what it is. I think that it can be boiled down into a few words, although it has been expressed in very many words by Senator Gould, and by speakers in another place. In brief, they say to the people, “ We will do our best to prevent you from having these enlarged powers so long as you return a majority of Labour members to the Federal Parliament.”
– Who said that?
- Mr. Irvine has said it, and in his address this morning Senator Gould pointed out that there was a danger as to the use which could be made of the powers, and he quoted the attitude of cer-, tain Labour senators, and particularly of myself. Senator Millen also quoted me and other honorable senators to show’ the extreme use we might make of the proposed powers. I am justified in saying that if their opposition is directed to anything at all it is practically a threat to the people of Australia. “ It may be necessary that there should be increased powers given to the Commonwealth Parliament, but we will do our best to prevent it from getting them so long as you return a. majority of Labour members.”
– Did not Mr. Irvine say something about the form of, your demand ?
– In his speech, Sena> tor Millen attempted to make great use of the recent Presidential election’ in the United States of America. He said that ‘ it was fought out on the question of the increase of Federal or State powers. He quoted ex-President Roosevelt as the champion of increased Federal powers, arid the president-elect, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, as tine- champion ©f State authority. He said that it. was the primary factor on which the election was fought’ out. I have here a newspaper called Progress, which circulates in Melbourne. The front page of its issue of 2nd December contains a photograph of Dr. Woodrow Wilson, and underneath appears the following quotation from his speech accepting the nomination of the Democratic party -
We must break down that great dam that runs around all our coasts - the restrictive Tariff that Hems- us in, that chokes us, that smothers us.
That was- the dividing line’ between himself and the other candidates. That was the main principle put forward by his party, the Democratic party, and that is borne out by the platform of the party of which- he was the selected candidate.
The first and principal plank of the platform refers, to the Tariff, and is as follows : -
We. declare it to be a fundamental principle of the Democratic party that the Federal! Government, under the Constitution, has no’ right or power to impose or collect Tariff duties; except for the purpose of revenue, and” we demand that the collection of such taxes, shall be limited to the necessities of government, honestly and economically administered.
That is the first and’ principal plank of their platform,, and it is the first and principal plank of the. platform on which ©t. Wilson was elected. How was that viewed by the’ party- journals, who are the political sponsors of honorable senators opposite? Commenting on the victory of 0r. Wilson, in a leading article of 6th November, the Melbourne Argus says -
His victory is unquestionably a crushing blow to. the cause of high protection.
Vet Senator Millen would have the Senate md the people of the Commonwealth to
Relieve that the question on which that ejection was fought out was that of State versus Federal powers.
– He made a definite statement that he would not interfere with the existing Tariff.
– I dare say that he did. ‘ It is characteristic of a certain class crf politicians to make statements which leave them a way out. I have quoted from the platform of the party that he represented, from his speech in accepting the nomination of the party, and from the greatest Conservative journal in Australia, hs to the principles on which the Presidential contest in America was fought. During, the debate we have had many references to the increased cost of living, and honorable senators opposite have attributed it to the increase of wages and to Labour legislation. They say that it is coincident with the rise and establishment of Labour government. In this connexion, the following statement from Mr. Woodrow Wilson’s speech, when1 accepting the nomination of his party, is very interesting.
– And there are no Labour Governments in America.
– There are no Labour Governments and no Labour members there. Mr. Woodrow Wilson said -
It is not as easy for us to live as it used to be. Our money will not buy as much. High wages, even when we can get them, yield us no great comfort. We used to be better off with less, because a dollar could buy so much more. The majority of us have been disturbed to find ourselves growing poorer, even though our earnings were slowly increasing. Prices climb faster than we can push our earnings up. Moreover, we begin to perceive some things about the movements of prices that concern us very deeply, and fix our attention upon the Tariff schedules with a more definite determination than ever to get at the bottom of this matter. We have been looking into it, and we begin to see very clearly what at least some of the methods are by which prices are fixed. We know that they are not fixed by the com-‘ petitions of the market or by the ancient lawof supply and demand -
That is very pertinent to certain remarks made by Senator Gould - but by private arrangements with regard- to what the supply should be, and agreements amongst the producers themselves. Those who buy are not even represented by counsel. The high cost of living is1 arranged by private understanding. 1 put that forward as an answer to the statement that Labour legislation is accountable for the increased cost of living. Coming to the Bills before the Senate, I desire that my remarks shall not be merely criticism destructive of what has been urged from the other side. 1 think that those who support these measures are under an obligation to make out a case for their adoption. First of all, as regards the commerce power: It will be difficult for any one to controvert the statement that commerce is essentially Federal in its character. Whilst we may, by artificial lines, cut up a country into geographical parts, name them separately, and even have different forms of government for the different parts, the commerce within all the separate areas will be Federal in character, and, if they are occupied by different nations, will be international in character. Tariff legislation, and the imposition of differential railway rates, go to show that these are merely artificial restraints imposed upon the international character of commerce, in order to confine it for the special benefit of those residing within a particular geographical area. The fact that nations, for their protection or aggrandizement, adopt these artificial methods is itself a recognition of the international character of commerce. If we are to deal effectively with commerce, our legislation must, perforce, be as Federal in its character as is the commerce with which it purports to deal. Having stated that general proposition, it devolves upon me to give instances where our existing Constitution hampers and prevents the passage of legislation for the benefit of the people within the geographical area known as the Commonwealth of Australia. This Commonwealth Parliament decided that, in the interests of the people of Australia as a whole, a law should be passed dealing with commerce in goods imported from the outside world for sale in the Commonwealth. A practice had grown up, especially in connexion with textiles, under which goods sold in Australia as woollen goods contained very little wool. Goods sold as wool were found to contain cotton as well as wool; and in many other ways imported goods were incorrectly and dishonestly described for purposes of sale. lt was considered essential that, in the interests of the people, this Parliament should pass legislation enacting that these goods should be honestly and accurately branded, so that purchasers of them might know what they are purchasing. We accordingly passed the Commerce (Trades Descriptions) Act. Under that Act, when goods are received at the Customs House, “if they are woollen they must be marked as -such. If they contain cotton, it is under our Act a crime to describe them as woollen. They must be marked as being wool and cotton goods. If they are wholly cotton goods, they must be marked as such. That Act had an immediate effect. The labels attached to imported goods had in many cases to be taken off, and were taken off and new labels had to be printed and attached to the goods, honestly describing what they were.
– No human being would object to that.
– Certainly not. As “Senator Fraser does not object to that, he should be prepared to go further, and see that the people of Australia really get the benefit oof .the legislation that we have passed. iVe have to consider what may happen . when the High Court rules that our Federal law cannot have effect beyond the Customs House. Under our law. as interpreted by the High Court, what happens is this : When a bale of goods is removed from the Customs House to a shop, the shopkeeper can remove the label accurately and honestly describing the nature of the goods, and attach to the goods any label he pleases, and our Federal law cannot touch him. In that way the object and purpose of the Commerce (Trades Descriptions) Act is absolutely defeated.
– The State law could deal with that.
– Of course, a State law could deal with that, but the laws of several of the States do not deal with it, and attempts made to pass such legislation in the State Parliaments have hitherto been successful in only two or three of the States.
– The Victorian Pure Foods Act is admired all over the world.
– That may be so, but the fact remains that all the States have not passed legislation similar to our Act, and in some of the States the practice to which I have directed attention is being continued. In the Commerce (Trades Descriptions) Act we passed a provision that foodstuffs containing deleterious substances should be ‘prohibited from coming into Australia, or if permitted to be introduced, should bear on the package containing them a statement of the substances of which they were made, so that people, in purchasing them, would know that they were buying foodstuffs of a deleterious character. The Federal power has been effective to prevent the importation of deleterious foodstuffs, but what may happen, and has happened in more than one case, is that the goods, having been stopped at the Customs Houses, the manufacturers establish works within one of the States, commence the manufacture of the prohibited goods, and distribute them throughout the Commonwealth, and our Federal law is in that case impotent to prevent them. Senator St. Ledger may tell me that the State Parliaments can also deal with that matter, hut my point is that they cannot as effectively deal with it as it might be dealt with by a Federal law if its operation extended beyond the Customs House, and applied throughout the Commonwealth wherever such goods were manufactured and sold. These facts are on record, and I may say further, that members of the State Governments who are bitterly opposing the proposed extension of the powers of the Federal Parliament, have themselves recognised in their annual conferences the necessity for uniform legislation upon these matters. I quote the following from page 6 of the report of the proceedings of the Inter-State Conference held in Melbourne this year : -
Resolved- That the Chief Medical Officer of New South Wales (Dr. Ashburton Thompson) be constituted a Royal Commission for each State in turn for the purpose of making recommendations with the view to uniform legislation for the standardization of Australian manufactured food products.
Why should the people of Australia be forced to the necessity of having six separate State Parliaments taking independent action to secure uniform legisation when, if they chose, they might take for themselves the power through their National Parliament to pass one Act which would operate all over Australia. I quote the following resolution from page 7 of the report of the Inter-State Conference : -
Resolved - That the representatives of New South Wales and Victoria confer, with a view of agreeing to the provisions of a Bill to regulate the manufacture and sale of footwear for submission to the Parliaments of all the States.
In these two resolutions we have a recognition Of the Inter-State character of commerce, and of the fact that State legislation upon these matters can give no satisfactory results. As a matter of fact, the only result of State legislation dealing with such matters is to improve the conditions of the people of a particular State at the expense of the manufacturers of that State, and for the benefit of the manufacturers of other States in which no such legislation exists.
– The people do not ask us to do it; they ask their State Parliaments to do it.
– I am not concerned with that. I am pointing out the fact that in asking that it should be done the representatives of the States at the InterState Conference have recognised the necessity for uniform legislation of this description. I wish to quote in this regard no less an authority than Mr. Glynn, who was Attorney-General of the Fusion Government, and when occupying that position went into this question, and embodied his views in a Memorandum relating to the Australian Industries Preservation Act and the industrial power, together with suggestions “ for the amendment of the Constitution in relation to trusts and industrial1 matters.” That is to say, a member of the present Opposition, who will go before the people and ask them to reject this very power, is the gentleman whose observationsI am now about to quote. After giving an historical account of the laws dealing with corporations in the United States, and the results which have followed from thoselaws, I find that in paragraph 7 of hisMemorandum he says -
It will be seen from these references that in the United States of America, where combinations and monopolies are more numerous and extensive in their operations, the ineffectiveness, of divided power is felt, and greater Federal control is advocated by men who have no desire to unnecessarily narrow the sphere of the States. That the power of Congress is as great in respect of Inter-State, as it is admitted to be in respect of external trade, has been questioned ; but there can be no reasonable doubt that the power of the Commonwealth Parliament under section 51 (i.) of the Constitution extends to the prevention of any interferences with the absolute freedom of trade and commerce between the States provided for by section 92.
The point is not the plenary character of “the Federal power within its acknowledged sphere, but whether, in the interests of the public, that power should extend to legislation in respect of contracts or operations in restraint of trade, whether Inter-State and external or intra-State, of corporations, or corporations and persons.
Among the considerations that affect opinion in the matter are the difficulties of divided, and the advantages of Federal control, and the magnitude of the evils to be dealt with. As to these, a few remarks may be made.
No State Acts in the matter exist, or if passed, could effectively meet the necessities of the case. It is clear that all Acts, Commonwealth and State, while covering operations of persons or companies in different fields of jurisdiction, should be similar in purport or terms. Otherwise the lawfulness of operations would depend on locality, and similar facts might be made the basis of different charges, under the State and the Commonwealth Acts respectively. This would mean the application, to the same Acts, of conflicting views or standards of policy or morals, different rules as to proof, on the same evidence, conviction under one jurisdiction and acquittal under another, and in States without any legislation in the matter, freedom for the operations of the offending persons or companies except so far as controlled by common law.
As regards administration, the difficulties in securing uniformity, so desirable in the case of States presenting similar conditions, would be great. It is clear that, to the extent to which concert in the enforcement of the Acts of the States and Commonwealth was not attained, the attempts to prevent or suppress the evils would be ineffective.
That is Mr. Glynn’s comment upon the situation with which I have been dealing.
I wish now to say a few words in regard to the Bill which proposes’ to alter the Constitution by inserting after paragraph xxxv. of section 51 the words -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes in relation to employment in the railway service of a State. It is said that this power is intended to take away from the State Parliaments and State Governments the means of fixing wages; and it is argued that we are attempting something in the nature of a revolution. It is alleged that we are taking away the sovereign power of the people of the ‘States to fix the wages of their own railway servants. Let us look at the facts. There ‘is not a State in Australia to-day whose railways are not controlled by Railways Commissioners. In the Railways Commissioners Acts of the States, autocratic power is given to those officials for the very purpose of removing the railways from political control. Those Commissioners practically stand, as far as concerns their relation to their employes, in exactly the same position as do private employers towards theirs.
– No; they can be suspended.
– Subject to an alteration of the Railways Commissioners Acts.
– Subject, of course, to an amendment of the Acts under which they are engaged.
– Subject, also, to Parliament finding the money.
– The State Parliaments have not shown the slightest disposition to interfere with those Acts or to take away from the Commissioners their powers, except in one regard. In the States of New South Wales and Western Australia what has happened? The Governments there have established industrial tribunals, and the railway employes of those’ States have been given the right to appeal, with respect to rates of wages fixed by the Railways Commissioners, to those industrial tribunals.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. They are agencies of the States.
– Will the honorable senator tell me that the Governments of those States will not respect the wages fixed by those tribunals? Will any honorable senator allege that the position can, or will, arise under which, when an industrial tribunal which a State has created, and to which these matters are relegated makes an award, the State Parliament will say, “ Although you have made an award, we will not find the money ‘ ‘ ? We know, as a matter of actual fact, that they will do nothing of the kind. What is the difference between this proposal and that? Simply this - that the tribunal to be established to hear disputes of this character, instead of being a State Court created by a State Statute, will be a Federal Court created by a Federal Statute.
– That makes all the difference.
– There is not the slightest possibility of a suggestion that any State Parliament will refuse to honour the award of an industrial tribunal which is established by the Commonwealth, any more than they would refuse to honour the award of an industrial tribunal established by themselves.
– The honorable senator has not shown any warrant for interfering with State functions.
– The warrant is this : The railways of this country are essentially Inter-State in their operations. The trade they carry is essentially Inter-State. Although a dispute may arise within a State, and may be absolutely confined to that State - although it may have no relation to any Inter-State issue - the very fact of the strike or lock-out occurring will have an effect and be felt on the railways of all the other States that happen to be linked up with the railway system of the State in which the dispute occurs. If continued long enough, the dispute will undoubtedly paralyze the railway systems of the neighbouring States, as far as the main trunk lines are concerned. I will give a case in point. A few years ago there was a strike on the railways of Victoria. It lasted only four days. But within that short space of time the railways of South Australia and New South Wales were vitally affected. No goods could be carried over the railway from Melbourne to Sydney; no passengers could be carried from Melbourne to Adelaide. Therefore, the New South Wales railways from Albury to Sydney, and the South Australian railways from Serviceton to Adelaide, were vitally affected by the Victorian dispute. Nevertheless, though the other States suffered, they could not do the slightest thing to effect relief, or to bring about a settlement.
– If this measure had been in force then, the strike would have spread from State to State.
– And would have lasted for months.
– I am pointing out what the effect of a railway dispute may be. The very fact that you allow a dispute to exist on the railways qf a State may lead to other disputes. Under the Constitution, but for the judgment of the High Court, resort could be had to the Federal Arbitration Court. We believed for a considerable time that railway servants concerned in a dispute extending beyond the limits of a State had the right of appeal to the Federal Court. But the Constitution, as now interpreted by the High Court, prevents that. Therefore, we have this peculiar position - that we have one class of Inter-State disputes that cannot be provided for either by State law, or, in consequence of the judgment, of the High Court, by Federal law. Consequently, we see the urgent need of affording railway employes the opportunity of appealing to the Federal Arbitration Court.
– What difficulty has arisen since- that dispute occurred?
– If the honorable senator’s party had been in power, difficulties would have arisen. I come now to the Bill to amend section 51 of the Constitution by adding to it the following paragraph
Trusts, combinations, and monopolies in relation to the production, manufacture, or supply of goods _ or the supply of services.
Senator Millen, in his speech yesterday, quoted a good number of opinions from the United States of America, and alluded to practices which obtain there.
– As to what?
– As to the operation of Federal law in regard to trusts, combinations, and monopolies.
– I never quoted one.
– The honorable senator quoted Dr. Woodrow Wilson.
– Not as to trusts and monopolies.
– No; as to the operation of the law.
– No; my quotation from Dr. Woodrow Wilson was as to the necessity of preserving State selfgovernment.
– In respect of what?
– To secure State rights.
– In respect to InterState trade.
– Not with regard to trusts and combines in any way.
– The quotation had? particular reference to Dr. Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential campaign. The honorable senator alleged that Dr. Woodrow Wilson stood for the retention of State rights in these matters, and that Mr. Roosevelt stood for the extension of the Federal power to deal with trade and commerce.
– No; it had nothing todo with trade and commerce.
– In respect of what, then?
– The one simple question was the proposal of Mr. Roosevelt to modify the Constitution in the direction of giving greater power to, as the honorablesenator would say, the people.
– (Let us see what Mr. Roosevelt’s position in that regard was.
– To tear up the Constitution, practically.
– Two articles have been published in the North American Review for November. One entitled, “ Why I am for Woodrow Wilson,” and the other, “ Why I am for Roosevelt.” The passage which I wish to quote is this -
The Democratic party and Governor Wilson, its candidate, apparently do not realize that these private powers which have established1 monopolies of meat, iron, sugar, natural oil, transportation, and other necessities, are morepowerful than any State Government, and that by the use of modern machinery, of steam and electricity, of the telephone, the telegraph, they hold the Continent as in the hollow of their hand, that State lines are as nothing to them, and that it will tax the power of the Federal Government to subject them to the proper rontrol. The Progressive party would in no way minimize the power of the States nor lessen itsactivity, but it sees that most private interests seeking to prey upon the public, and .to escape with their public plunder, are joining with the Democratic party in its cry against national control. The Progressive party is pledged to the proposition that the whole power of the nation, must be exerted to stop and hold in check the exploitation of the nation for private aggrandizement, and that the Federal Government should extend its agencies for exercising its constitutional powers.
The writer proceeds -
Governor Wilson says he “ will make war upon such a proposition to the utmost of his power.” That is the attitude of the Democratic party ; it is opposed to Federal control and regulation, of trusts. No other power can do it.
The article then goes on to say -
The great corporations must be regulated by the said Government or not at all. The choice is between Government regulation and a lawless private plutocracy growing constantly greater by unrestrained privilege. The Progressive policy is to strengthen the Sherman anti-trust law by defining what acts constitute a restraint of trade, and to quickly enforce it through the proposed Commission. Great combinations of capital must exist. To allow them to be formed, and to do business for years without interruption, and then bring suit for dissolution, is illogical and ineffective, as demonstrated by the Standard Oil and Tobacco Trust suit. The Progressive party would subject them to constant Governnent control, take from them every special privilege which has been the principal means of monopoly, and so leave the way open for competition where competition is needed.
– May I hand the honorable senator the actual quotation which I used yesterday?
– I do not care.
– No; the honorable senator does not care whether I said what he has represented or not.
– If the honorable senator says that his quotation from Dr. Woodrow Wilson had no reference to the law dealing with combines and monopolies, I accept his statement.
– I will hand the honorable senator the actual quotation, and will ask him to read it to the Senate, so that he may be as nearly fair as he can be.
– The quotation is as follows: -
We declare that all powers not specifically granted to the Federal Government belong, and of right must be exercised by, the States in their sovereign capacity, and we assert that the most effective results in government are attained by the complete exercise by the States of these reserved sovereign powers. We are unalterably opposed to any usurpation by the Federal Government of the rights of the States.
Very well ; that is a general statement. What I have quoted from the North American Review is a particular statement, showing the line between the Roosevelt party and the Woodrow Wilson party.
– There is nothing in Senator Millen’s quotations with which the Minister cannot agree.
– Nothing. It is a general statement, but the passages which I have quoted are specific, applying the general statement to the regulation of trusts and combines. Anybody who reads the speeches of the respective candidates knows that that was the line of attack and defence. As regards Senator Millen’s quotation, I want to say that America is about the last country to which we should go for guidance on the question of dealing with trusts and combines.
– Your people are always going there.
– We go there for examples of their operations. To go to American statesmen for guidance as to how to deal with trusts is to go to people who stand confessed as abject failures in that respect throughout the legislative world. If you can believe the statements which they make of each other, they are men who were placed in power by the trusts themselves. If you can believe Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Taft, then they are the very last people to whom we should go for guidance on this particular subject. America is the last country to which we should go for guidance, because, if there was ever a country that was trustridden, it is America, and I suppose it has the greatest number of anti-trust laws on its statute-book of any country on earth. I propose to come a little nearer home, and to .deal with a Trust whose operations have recently been investigated by a Royal Commission - I refer to the Sugar Trust. I am about to quote from the report of the Commission, which, apparently, took a very friendly view of the Trust, and whose report has, apparently been hailed with very great delight by honorable senators opposite. I shall, first, quote from Part III. of the report, dealing with growers, millers, and refiners. Honorable senators opposite say that the Government cannot regulate prices, but we have clear proof in the report of this Commission that, whether the Government can regulate prices or not, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company can, and does, regulate prices in the most effective fashion. The extracts are as follows -
They go on to deal with the balance-sheets of the company. It is instructive to note that, though this company; through tts monopolistic power, has squeezed down the growers to such a price as will barely enable the growers to continue to exist, it has been able to amass such enormous profits as perhaps have never been made by any other company in Australia -
This means that £2,375,000 has yielded investors generous dividends distributed halfyearly, and reserves (inner and distributed) of £3,625,000. We think it fair to conclude from these figures, supplied by a company whose expansions of business have been built on a basis of milling and refining profits, that the milling and refining industries in Australia are conducted as a matter of fact under conditions which admit of high profits.
That, of course, is the old tale of the trusts the world over. If you were to compare the report of this Commission with the report of the inquiries held by the United States Courts into the operations of the Standard Oil Company, and various other trusts, I do not suppose that you would find a very great variation - huge profits, exorbitant prices to the community, and crushing prices to the producers who supply them with the raw material. Then we come to the question of the public control of prices. Honorable senators opposite are for ever saying that it is impossible to control prices. They remind me of the old lady who, when she first saw a locomotive, said, “ It will never go; it can never go”; but, when it commenced to go, she said, “ It will never stop ; it will never stop.” She was a true Conservative. Whenever any new legislation is proposed, the Opposition cry out with one voice, “ It cannot be done; it is impossible,” and, when it is put into operation, they say, “ Where is this sort of thing going to stop ? “ So it is with the proposed regulation of prices. They say, “ It cannot be done,” although they see it being done all around them. They see the ancient law of supply and demand interfered with time and again in the business world. This Royal Commission inquired into the question, and dealt pretty exhaustively with the control of the prices for raw sugar and sugar-cane. I may be excused for quoting somewhat largely from the report on this question, because I suppose there is no industry into the operations of which there has been as thorough an inquiry by men who, at any rate, are of fairly high intelligence. The report states -
Colonial Sugar Refining Company, as we have seen, pays £9 7s. 6d. per ton for raw sugar when the selling price of refined sugar is £19. For each £1 increase in the price of refined sugar, the price of raw sugar is enhanced by 18s. Further, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has, at one time or another, made overtures to the growers for the adoption of a sliding scale of prices with respect to sugar-cane, although the growers, for reasons not difficult to understand, have generally preferred the offer of a straight-out price. Other millers have paid for cane, or have offered to do so, on a sliding scale.
The disadvantages of existing arrangements or offers as to a sliding scale of prices are chiefly two -
Then they quote some evidence, and in subparagraph 3 of paragraph 30 they say -
We are also at a loss to see why, if prices can be fixed as they are at present by one party to a bargain, they cannot be fixed by a public authority acting in the interest of both parties. The prices of raw sugar and sugar-cane in Australia at present are fixed, not by laws of supply and demand (within the Tariff wall), but by refiners in the one case and millers in the other. We have already dwelt on this fact at some length.
– Do they not propose to do that by means of the Tariff ?
– No; they propose to do it by means of direct legislation.
– Hear, hear !
– They propose Federal legislation, and that, of course, means an amendment of the Constitution. Will the honorable senator say “ Hear, hear !” to that also?
– I have not heard what they have to say ; read on, please.
– The Commissioners say -
If it were found upon such reasonable distribution that one or more branches of the industry were not securing an adequate return on capital outlay, then the import duty would have to be raised. We believe that when once the scheme was established, it would be recognised by all parties, and by the State of Queensland, as a just solution of existing problems.
One possible objection to public control of prices is that public control, by giving a public guarantee of fair prices, would result in the production of a surplus. There might be, for example, a surplus of Australian-produced sugar ; or there might be a surplus of cane supplied at one or more of the mills, i.e., a greater supply than the mill could crush. As regards the latter surplus, the difficulties could be overcome as at present by mutual arrangement between millers and growers. As regards the surplus of Australian-produced sugar, we do not think it likely ‘to occur for some years to come in view of the expanding local market. Should it occur, however, a difficult situation would arise in view of the facts that exportation must involve a loss, that sugar is not a commodity which can be stored for indefinite periods, and that, being one of the necessities of life, no great increase inthe local demand would be stimulated by loweringthe price on the local market. The situation would not, however, be wholly novel: and it might be dealt with as under existing conditions.
If the surplus tended to recur, despite the deduction in price, the fact would indicate that the protection was unnecessarily high ; and the proper remedy would be to lower the import duty. Otherwise there would be introduced into Australia some of the more objectionable features of the Cartel system.
We have spoken, hitherto, of the public control of prices. The expression is designedly ambiguous. It evades the difficult question of the spheres of Commonwealth and State action. It says - nothing of the particular machinery which, whether State or Federal, is to interpret public control in definite executive action. Under other circumstances we might have felt entitled to leave such questions to the consideration of Legislative Assemblies. But, as we have recommended a departure from existing legislative practice in Australia, we feel it to be our duty to consider briefly the means for giving effect to the policy which we have advocated.
At the outset, we venture to express the opinion that the machinery should be Federal. Several reasons, taken cumulatively, enforce this conclusion upon us : -
The burden of protecting the sugar industry is borne by the consumers of the Commonwealth.
The purposes which are served by the sugar industry, more especially the settlement and defence oftropical or semi-tropical areas, are national in a special sense, and give to the industry a unique national significance.
The import duty (the amount of which should be assessed from time to time by authorities in organic relationship with the authorities which control prices) is fixed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and could in the nature of things be fixed by no other body.
The price of raw sugar could not be fixed by any one State,’ since the refineries are established in several States. The absurdity of invoking legislation and accessory machinery in four States when the same object can be achieved by Commonwealth action must be apparent.
Assuming, and we see no other conclusion possible, that Commonwealth authority should control the price of raw sugar, it follows by inevitable sequence that the same authority should control the price of sugarcane. We do not wish to call in question for a moment the claims of the States to self-government in matters of purely local concern ; but we are quite unable to resist the conclusions that what is imperatively needed in the case of the sugar industry is a single controlling ultimate authority, and that such authority must in the very nature of things derive from the Commonwealth. If sugarcane were produced only in Queensland, the conclusions just suggested would follow with less force than they do. But sugar-cane is already produced in New South Wales on the northern rivers; and, in time to come, it may be produced in the Northern Territory.
We are aware that an amendment of the Constitution may be necessary. But we believe that the passing of such an amendment should not be difficult, in view of the national importance of the sugar industry, the burden imposed Upon the Australian consumers by the continuance of the sugar policy, and the various reasons which we have urged for securing by Commonwealth authority a just distribution of the profits which accrue in the sugar industry as a result of the protective policy.
– Is there any other primary product which is protected?
– Yes; I think there are duties on bacon and butter ; and I fancy that the honorable senator voted for them.
– The duties are very small. Is there a duty on wheat, or wool, or minerals?
– There is a duty on wheat.
– If there is a duty on those articles it is inoperative. My apology to the Senate for quoting so largely from this report is that practically every statement therein made regarding the sugar industry applies equally to the tobacco industry. The tobacco monopoly in Australia is in precisely the same position, both as regards the consumers of tobacco and as regards the growers of tobacco leaf, as is the sugar monopoly.
– Now, you know that that is not correct.
– I know that it is an absolute fact. I assert that every word which has been written by the Sugar Commission in relation to the sugar industry applies equally to the tobacco industry, which is not only protected by the Tariff, but has absolute power to fix the price of tobacco leaf in Australia, and also the retail price of tobacco, and exercises it. If the Sugar Commission’s arguments are conclusive, honorable senators on the other side, if they say that we should not have Federal control for the purpose of regulating prices, will have to contradict the reasons given in this report. If, on the other hand, they say “It is all very well to fix prices, but you must fix them through the States,” they should answer the reasons given by the Sugar Commission why the industry should be controlled by the Federal Government. The Labour party has never said that it believes in fixing prices universally. What we have said is that where an article is the product of a monopoly, it is necessary that the Government should step in to protect the consumer of that article and the grower of the raw material.
– You cannot have two standards of wages.
– It is in these cases that a necessity to regulate prices exists. I desire to say a few words regarding the proposal to empower the Commonwealth Parliament to enact a general arbitration law. A good deal of an extreme character, perhaps on both sides, is said about Arbitration Courts. I am one of those who have never thought that an arbitration law was anything else but an expedient.
– A very bad expedient, too.
– It was an expedient to get over a very awkward difficulty, and that is the difficulty of settling industrial disputes. So far, in my judgment, it is the best expedient which has yet been discovered to deal with the settlement of industrial disputes.
– Oh, no.
– I know of no better expedient.
– Canada has a better system.
– Practically, the Canadian system is to let the parties fight the dispute out. We know that so far as the Federal Arbitration Court is concerned it is hampered at every turn, and although it is extremely cribbed, cabined, and confined, I venture to say that it has a very fine record to its credit.
– I do not think so.
– We shall see.
– Many of the unions do not think it has.
– I propose to put its record before the Senate by quoting from a parliamentary paper which was ordered to be printed on the 29th August last. It is a return showing -
– Out of a total of how many workers?
– Over 1,000,000.
– That is where the Court suffers. It is so cribbed, cabined, and confined that practically every worker who can go under the Court is under it today. I venture to say that this list exhausts the number of those who can come under the Court.
– If every worker can come under the Court, why do you want the law amended?
- Senator Vardon said that there are 1,000.000 workers who are not under the Court and I reply that these 103,000 persons were practically all who can come under it.
– And a goodjob, too.
– Would the honorable senator say that it would be better to have a system under which we should have strikes and locks-out?
– Than a system under which we have that number of men working peaceably under awards?
– You could get a much better system.
– I venture to say that there is no State industrial tribunal which has worked so smoothly, and whose awards and agreements have been so little disturbed, and so faithfully obeyed, as have the awards of the Federal Court.
– What has it cost, and what would it cost to disturb them?
– Cost is a comparative term., and I may answer by saying that the cost of obtaining the awards and agreements would be a mere drop in the bucket compared to the cost weekly to the people of Australia of a strike in the maritime industry. We have those engaged in the maritime industry working peacefully now under the award of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– The honorable senator has forgotten the Brisbane strike.
– I have not forgotten it, and no better instance could be given of the necessity for giving workers within a State the right to appeal to a Federal Court for an award.
– The cost of living in Queensland is about half the cost of living in Western Australia. How is it possible to fix the same rates for both States ?
– Does the honorable senator not know that many of the 100,000 workers referred to in the statement I have quoted are employed in the shearing industry at varying rates of wages? In South Australia alone there are two, if not three, different rates of wages paid in the industry; in New South Wales another rate ; and in Victoria there are varying rates for different districts of the State. In my opinion, industries, like commerce, are Federal in their character. Even where there is no intimate connexion between State and State, the operation of a particular industry in one State affects the operation of industries of the same kind in other States.
– That is an argument for Unification.
– Industrially, it. is. I say that Australia is already unifiedindustrially, except so far as the power to regulate the wages and conditions of labour are concerned. We unified Australia industrially when we took from the States the power to erect Tariff walls around their boundaries. Whilst we unified Australia in that sense, we kept it divided into six different parts for the purpose of the regulation of industrial conditions in the various industries of the several States.
– Where is the unifying going to stop?
– I have shown that it started with the adoption of a uniform Customs Tariff. The Tariff creates one industrial arena for Australia, and as a logical outcome of a uniform Tariff there should be a uniform industrial law. The one is the necessary concomitant of the other.
– The States could make their laws uniform.
– They could do so, but they have not done so. They have varying industrial laws, and in some States scarcely any regulation of industry at all. Among those who have recognised this are the State Governments themselves, and honorable senators now occupying the Opposition benches. I intend to show how they have recognised it. At page 9 of the report of the proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference, 1912, I find this -
Resolved - That it is expedient that a Bill embodying provisions to the following effect be adopted by the State Parliaments -
Then follow provisions to enable disputes coming within the constitutional section to be referred through a certain channel from State tribunals to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The State Premiers proposed to make provision to achieve in a roundabout way what we propose to achieve in a direct way. That is a recognition by the State Premiers that State legislation is ineffective, and produces unequal and unfair conditions in industry, and methods were suggested by them to invest the Commonwealth tribunal with power to overcome that difficulty. That is a confession of the unsatisfactory nature of the present distribution of industrial powers. All the Opposition can now say is that they do not deny the need of some tribunal to equalize industrial conditions, but they object to the methods by which we propose to bring it about. I can not only refer to the resolutions of the State Premiers, but I have here a copy of the InterState Commission Bill introduced into this Chamber by Senator Best as a member of the Fusion Government. Part V. of that Bill dealt with industrial matters, and proposed to do almost what the State Premiers suggested. It proposed the establishment of a Federal Court of Industrial Appeal, to which appeals might be made from State industrial tribunals, in order to equalize competition in different industries. In these two proposals we have a recognition from those who now oppose the alteration of the Constitution pf the need for the possession by this Parliament of these powers, the only difference of opinion being as to how the powers should be exercised. We can resort in - this matter also to Mr. Glynn’s memorandum as giving, I presume, the views of the Fusion Cabinet then in power. I do not know whether honorable senators opposite will repudiate Mr. Glynn’s memorandum, but, dealing with suggested constitutional amendments, he says, at page 8 -
Power for the Federal Parliament to make laws : -
For enabling the Inter-State Commission toregulate industrial matters in any State, so far as is necessary in the judgment of the InterState Commission, for the purpose of removing such obstacles to the establishment in any State of fair industrial conditions as arise from unfair competition, or the prospect of unfair competition, from other States.
In exercising powers under any such law, the Commission shall take into account the difference of economic conditions in different parts of the Commonwealth, and shall have due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers, and of the public generally.
In addition to that, we have the famous memorandum on new Protection by Mr. Deakin. That was issued before the formation of the Fusion party, and, I presume, will be repudiated by members of the party now. But it is interesting in the light of recent history to read what Mr. Deakin said on this question -
These proposals, to some extent, cover theground that is already occupied by legislation in some of the States. Every exercise of power by the Commonwealth in matters in which Commonwealth and States have concurrent authority must be subject to this condition. The cooperation of the States Governments is most desirable in every aspect; but the Commonwealth cannot ignore its obligations, so far as the Constitution allows, to secure equitable and uniform industrial conditions in all the industries which come within the range of its fiscal legislation.
The proposals for requiring the maintenance of fair and reasonable conditions in protected industries are simply a corollary to the power of imposing protective duties. To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of these duties while the conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles are carried on differ so widely in the different States would be to permit inequality, discrimination, and discord. The ideal of the Constitution is equality and uniformity in all national matters. With that end it prohibits the imposition of taxation in such a way as to discriminate between States or parts of States. The ideal can hardly be realized if uniformity of protection is coupled with wide diversity in the conditions of manufacture. Effective and useful as State industrial laws have in many cases proved, their operation is circumscribed by State boundaries, and it can hardly be claimed for them that they either door can secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this, and the attempt to do it in the way that has been outlined, is in fullest harmony with the Federal aims and character of the Constitution.
This is the gentleman who now says that these proposals mean Unification. He then said -
The way that has been outlined is in fullest harmony with the Federal aims and character of the Constitution.
The way outlined by Mr. Deakin in his new Protection memorandum was not through the Inter-State Commission, but by direct operation of the Federal power itself. Yet, in a few short months, this same gentleman will be taking the stump and asking .the people to reject these proposals on the ground that they lead to Unification. > I wish now to refer to the proposed alteration of the Constitution for the purpose of dealing with corporations. In my opinion, the necessity for a uniform company Taw has long been- recognised, and it is only party bias and prejudice which prevents members of the Opposition from saying so. There are no gentlemen better acquainted with company law than some of those who sit on the Opposition benches, and no one knows better how difficult it is to conduct business under six separate company laws operating in the different States. Before the amendment of the Constitution came to be viewed as a party question, business men in Australia from time to time urged the necessity for a uniform company law. What is our present position in this regard ? Up to the time of the Huddart Parker case under the Australian Industries Preservation Act, members of this Parliament, not merely those occupying the Government benches, but those occupying the Opposition benches as well, believed that we had far more power than the High Court has decided that we have. Any one who reads the judgment in the Huddart Parker case must come to the conclusion that we have no power other than the power to register, and when we find four Judges expressing four different opinions, we can be excused if we also come to the conclusion that even the Judges of the High Court themselves are not sure as to what powers we have. As the Huddart Parker case was one in which our power with regard to corporations was defined, it is important that we should get a grasp of what the judgment meant, and its effect to-day upon our Constitution. I say that its effect has been to alter the meaning of words, and to read into words contained in the Constitution a meaning which they do not commonly bear. I refer honorable senators to the report of the case -
Sections 4 and 7 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act constituted certain acts offences when performed by any person in relation to trade and commerce with other countries or among the States.
Sections 5 and 8 of the same Act constituted <he same acts offences when performed by any foreign corporation or trading and financial cor- poration formed within the limits of the Commonwealth, in relation to trade and commerce simply (not trade and commerce with other countries or among the States).. In other words, the Commonwealth Parliament, since it had power to legislate with regard to “ foreign corporations or trading and financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth,” thought that it could legislate under that power to control the operations of such corporations in connexion with all trade and commerce, and that it was not restricted to the case of InterState or foreign commerce.
Proceedings were instituted against a corporation under sections 5 and 8, and the corporation challenged the validity of these sections on the ground that they were not in substance legislation regarding corporations, but regarding trade and commerce, and should therefore have been limited to Inter-State or foreign trade and commerce.
The Court, by a majority (Isaacs, J., dissenting), upheld the contention of the company, and decided that the two sections in question were invalid.
Here is an extract from the head-note of the case Huddart Parker and Company Proprietary Limited v. Moor head, reported in 8 Commonwealth Law Reports, page 330-
By the whole Court. Section 51 (xx.) of the Constitution does not confer on the Commonwealth Parliament power to create corporations, but the power is limited to legislation as to foreign corporations and trading and financial corporations created by State law.
By the Court (Isaacs, J., dissenting). - Sections 5 and 8 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906 are ultra vires the Commonwealth Parliament and invalid.
By Griffith, C.J., and Barton, J. - Section 51 (xx.) of the Constitution confers upon the Commonwealth Parliament power to prohibit foreign corporations and trading and financial corporations formed under State laws from engaging in trade and commerce within a State, as distinguished from trade and commerce between States or with foreign countries, or to impose conditions subject to which they may engage in such trade and commerce, but does not confer upon the Commonwealth Parliament power to control the operations of such corporations which lawfully engage in such trade and commerce.
By O’Connor, J. - The power conferred by section 51 (xx.) of the Constitution is limited to the making of laws with respect to the recognition of corporations as legal entities within the Commonwealth, and does not include a power to make laws for regulating and controlling the business of corporations when once they have been so recognised and are exercising their corporate functions by carrying on business in the Commonwealth.
By Isaacs, J. - Section £r (xx.) confers on the Commonwealth Parliament power to control the conduct of the specified corporations in relation to outside persons, but not the powers and capacities of corporations, and sections 5 and 8 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906 are a -valid exercise of such power.
By Higgins, J. - The power conferred by section 51 (xx.) of the Constitution on the Commonwealth Parliament is a power to legislate with respect to the classes of corporations named, -as corporations - that is, to regulate the status and capacity of such corporations and the conditions on which they may be permitted to carry on business; but does not include a power to regulate the contracts into which corporations may enter within the scope of their permitted powers. Sections 5 and 8 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act r()06 are not legislation with respect to such corporations, but legislation with respect to trade and commerce.
The sum and substance of that is that practically our powers with respect to trading corporations are those of registration only and that the carrying on of trade and business is completely within the functions of the States. The words of the Constitution, therefore, with respect to the control of corporations, are absolutely blank and meaningless. That judgment attracted the attention of legal luminaries all over the world, and has been discussed in the legal journals by very high authorities. I pl Cpose to quote one criticism of it, published in the *Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation for July,1 1911. The article is contributed by Mr. A. Berriedale Keith, D.C.L. After quoting the substance of the judgment which is practically what I have read, the writer goes on to say -
Nor in the case of the Australian Industries Preservation Act r()o6, does the judgment of the majority of the Court seem very convincing. The power of the Commonwealth to legislate with regard to foreign corporations and trading and financial companies formed under State laws is no doubt not an unlimited one, but the particular exercise of the power to which exception was taken, the prohibition of such companies or corporations forming monopolies or conspiracies in trading matters, seems an exercise of power which it is peculiarly probable that the Commonwealth Parliament was meant to have. It is notorious that in Australia certain great foreign corporations are believed to have, or to desire to secure, a hold such as to defeat other competition, and only a Federal law, it is clear from the experience of the United States, could successfully deal with such corporations. If the matter were left to State activities, probably the whole end of prohibition would be defeated by the action of one State, just as Tasmania supports Tattersalls after its exclusion from the rest of the Commonwealth. No doubt the interpretation of the full ambit of the power of the Commonwealth regarding such corporations would be difficult, but it is hard to think that it was in any way ultra vires to forbid corporations to monopolize trade. Moreover, if this power is not vested in tV Commonwealth, it is clearly one which must, in the public interest, be so vested.
That is the judgment of a lawyer, who, 1 take it, must be an authority, or his opinions would not find a place in a journal of such repute. He is. far removed from our party conflicts. He looks at the matter entirely from a lawyer’s point of view, and that is his ccol, calm, collected judgment on the case, regarding it as one who is not in any way mixed up in our local politics. His judgment, in my opinion, is worthy of all consideration by the people of this country. Mr. Glynn also dealt with this point in paragraph 3 of his memorandum of 1910. He said -
It may, therefore, be well to consider the desirability of” obtaining, by reference to the State Parliaments under section 51 (XXXVII.), or preferably by an amendment of the Constitution, greater or full power to control the con-, tracts and acts of persons (including corporations) within the purpose of the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906-7.
The method of amendment (section 128) which enables the people to speak both through their national representatives and directly at the poll on a referendum, is evidently more in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution than that of parliamentary reference (section 51, (XXXVII.) which applies to matters affecting the interests rather of two or more States than of the whole Commonwealth.
Mr. Glynn goes on to argue the point again in the following terms : -
It will be seen from these references that i» the United States of America, where combinations and monopolies are more numerous and extensive in their operations, the ineffectiveness of divided power is felt, and greater Federal control is advocated by men who have no desire to unnecessarily narrow the sphere of the States. That the power of Congress is as great in respect of Inter-State, as it is admitted to be in respect of external, trade, has been questioned ; but there can be no reasonable doubt that the power of the Commonwealth Parliament under section 51 (i.) of the Constitution extends to the prevention of any interferences with the absolute freedom of trade and commerce between the States provided for by section 92.
The point is not the plenary character of the Federal power within its acknowledge sphere, but whether, in the interests of the public, that power should extend to legislation in respect of contracts or operations in restraint of trade, whether Inter-State and external or Intra-State, of corporations, or corporations and persons.
Among the considerations that affect opinion in the matter are the difficulties of divided, and the advantages of Federal, control, and the magnitude of the evils to be dealt with. As to these, a few remarks may be made.
No State Acts in the matter exist, or,, if passed, could effectively meet the necessities of the case. It is clear that all Acts, Commonwealth and State, while covering operations of persons or companies in different fields of jurisdiction, should be similar in purport or terms. Otherwise, the lawfulness of operations would depend on locality, and similar facts might be made the basis of different charges, under the State and the Commonwealth Acts respectively. This would mean the application, to the same Acts, of conflicting views or standards of policy or morals, different rules as to proof, on the same evidence conviction under one jurisdiction and acquittal under another,, and, in States without any legislation in the matter, freedom for the operations of the offending persons or companies except so far as controlled by common law.
As regards administration, the difficulties in securing uniformity, so desirable in the case of States presenting similar conditions, would be great. It is clear that, to the extent to which concert in the enforcement of the Acts of the States and the Commonwealth was not attained, the attempts to prevent or suppress the evils would “be ineffective.
Mr. Glynnstrongly presses the view that it is desirable to take these powers, and that preferably they should be obtained directly by an amendment of the Constitution. Mr. Glynn drew up that memorandum when he was Attorney-General in the Fusion Government. I am, therefore, justified in making the statement that that was his own well-considered opinion, committed to paper as the result of his experience as AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth, after he had had the duty thrust upon him of investigating the cases that had arisen under Australian law, and after the delivery of the judgment in the case that I have quoted. Therefore, I do say that the charge can be levelled at honorable senators opposite that they are not prepared to deal with these questions on their merits, but that their opposition arises purely from party prejudice, and because there happens to be a Labour Government in office. I have a few words to add, in conclusion, upon the Bill to enable the Constitution to be altered with respect to the nationalization of trusts and combines. In that regard, I wish to say that my position has always been clear. I am one of those who believe that it is in the interests of the people themselves that the great trusts organized throughout the world should not be broken up, and that industry should not be set back into a state of unrestricted competition. I believe that these trusts are doing great work in the economic field, for the benefit of humanity, in that they are organizing industry as, perhaps, it could not otherwise have been organized. I believe also that they are, unconsciously to themselves, taking a definite step in the direction of the public ownership of industry, which will be facilitated by the very work they are doing in organizing their industries under collective control. We have to recognise that one of the pleas that has always been urged for State ownership is that it would make for the elimination of competition, and the waste that results from it. These trusts have proved that you can exercise a control over great industries which is not a personal control, in the sense that those who direct it are not themselves personally interested in the profits. Who are to-day controlling the great industrial enterprises of Australia ? Are the men who are managing the sugar industry and directing its movements the actual owners of that industry ? What do the directors of the Tobacco Company know about tobacco manufacturing? I doubt whether any of them could explain the process by which a cigar is made, or a plug of tobacco manufactured. So it is with other gigantic industries. They are being organized and run to-day by men who, in many cases, have no personal interest in them, who are paid salaries, whose ability and knowledge is bought by the directors. These industries are themselves governed by directors, who themselves have no technical knowledge of the businesses they are directing.
– The businesses are under their control, and many of the managers get a commission on the success of the industries they manage.
– Of course, the industries are under their control. ‘ But what does that imply? It supplies a complete answer to the statement that used to be made a few years ago that the State could never run these great industries successfully, because, as was alleged, it would not have a personal interest in them such as always arises in the case of a man who is running his own industry. The day when the man who owned an industry ran it for himself has gone for ever. One has only to keep his eyes open and to look around to see that industry is going through a process of evolution. Industry is conducted on lines and under conditions that were absolutely unknown, and could not have been dreamt of, in the time when Adam Smith and other writers on political economy wrote their treatises. Conditions have entirely changed. Yet there are people who would attempt today to regulate commerce and industry on lines laid down by the political economists of old. In my opinion, the conditions of today demand new methods of legislation, and it is because of that that I believe that we should not attempt to break up and disperse these gigantic corporations. I believe that their organization is for the benefit of humanity. The evil arising from them lies here - that whilst you have under collective ownership a means to organize and produce on an economic scale, that very power gives to those who control those industries a means of exploiting the community, and, by exerting an influence on the business life, and even on the political life, of the community, to become dangerous to others. It is dangerous to place in the hands of any group of individuals such an enormous power. Therefore, whilst we want, on the one hand, to conserve the benefits which may be derived from the gigantic corporations, trusts, and combines, we want also to avoid the evils that arise from the exploitation by a few invididuals of the community as a whole. We say that .we can achieve that only by nationalization.
– We cannot have good management, then.
– Will the honorable senator say that we have not good management on our railways to-day? I venture to say, as I said when Senator Millen quoted my statement on the Australian Industries Preservation Act, that one reason why the trusts in Australia have not been so successful as they have in America - one of the reasons why they have not been able to ex1ploit the people to the same extent - is that they have not been able to get hold of those great arteries of commerce, the railways. The very fact that those railways are the property of the States saves the people of Australia from exploitation by trusts and Combines, as has been the case in America. I do not propose to detain the Senate any longer. In my opinion, the proposals now put before the people are reasonable. They are necessary. If they are explained to the people in such a way that their meaning can be grasped, I have every confidence that they will shortly be embodied in the Constitution of Australia.
– There is one statement upon which the Minister of Defence placed a great deal of importance, and that was as to the platform laid down by the Progressive party in the United States of America. It was pointed out by Senator Millen that Woodrow Wilson, throughout his Presidential campaign, never asked for an alteration of the Constitution. Although he was cognisant of the evils of trusts and combines, he never sought to protect the United States of America from the evil effects of those trusts and combines by advocating an alteration of the Constitution. The Minister of Defence seemed to try to make out that Woodrow Wilson advocated an alteration in the Constitution.
– Do not put words into the Minister’s mouth that he never uttered. ‘ The Minister said nothing of the kind.
– The Minister produced triumphantly the declaration of Woodrow Wilson with regard to the dangers of trusts and combines, and though he did not actually say so, he inferred that Woodrow Wilson intended to alter the Constitution of America in order to deal with combines. The Minister quite correctly stated the issues in that campaign, and how Woodrow Wilson dealt with them ; but he ought to have gone further. In these matters we are not mere advocates, we are trustees of the people, and the Minister of Defence, when reading those quotations from Woodrow Wilson’s declaration in order to make out his case, should have read another declaration. I intend to read it. It is as follows : -
To that end we urge the establishment of a strong Federal Administrative Commission of high standing, which shall maintain permanent active supervision over industrial corporations engaged in Inter-State commerce, or such of. them as are of public importance, doing for them what the Government now does for the national banks, and what is now done for the railroads by the Inter-State Commerce Commission. Such a. Commission must enforce the complete publicity of those corporate transactions which are of public interest ; must attack unfair competition, false capitalization and special privilege; and by continuous trained watchfulness guard and keep open equally to all the highways of American commerce. Thus the business man will have certain knowledge of the law, and ‘will be able to conduct his business equally in conformity therewith ; . the investor will find security for his capital ; dividends will be rendered more certain, and the savings of the people will be drawn naturally and safely into the channels of trade.- Under such a system, constructive regulation, legitimate business, freed from confusion, uncertainty and fruitless litigation, will develop normally in response to the energy and enterprise of the American business man.
As a part of the scheme they say -
We pledge ourselves to the establishment of a non-partisan scientific, Tariff Commission, reporting both to the President and to either branch of Congress, which shall report first, as to the costs of production, efficiency of labour, capitalization, industrial organization a”d efficiency, and the general competitive position in this country and abroad of industries seeking protection from Congress.
Though Roosevelt was cognisant of the dangers of combines, he did not say a single word in regard to a drastic alteration of the Constitution in order to deal with them. It is a remarkable coincidence that many of the remarks made by Woodrow
Wilson are identical with ‘the propositions which have been put forward by the Liberal party in this country when dealing with industrial and other difficulties here. There is another remarkable feature about the Presidential election in the United States of America. Roosevelt, in his campaign, spoke about the necessity for further legislation in order to deal with trusts and combines, and led the people of the United States of America to believe that his attack upon them would take such a form as to possibly require an amendment of the Constitution. From the beginning of the campaign it was noted that he was starting a campaign of hysteria and not of history, and, as a result, he was turned down by the people of the United States of America. The people said, “We will keep our Constitution intact rather than follow the lead of Roosevelt, and we will fall back upon the platform of Woodrow Wilson and find a remedy there.” So it may be said, speaking generally of the Liberal party in Australia, that we prefer to deal with these combines by means of legislation rather than attack the Constitution in the wholesale manner proposed by the Government.
– You admit that they want dealing with.
– There is not a parliamentary representative who will not freely admit that these trusts and combines must be watched, and, as a necessary consequence, the operations of combines of Labour men must also be watched. A remarkable feature of these referenda proposals is that the Constitution is not only attacked, but the principle upon which the Constitution is largely based is being reduced to a farce. The people who, about eighteen months ago, said, emphatically, “ No,” on an appeal being made to them are, with practically unchanged conditions, to be asked to say “ Yes “ to-morrow.
– Did you refrain from offering yourself as a candidate a second time, when you were defeated?
– The contention is, as is suggested by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, that because an appeal may be made by an individual candidate to an electorate that has turned him down, or because a policy may be again referred to the people who at one time were opposed to it, or because a party may he returned to power that had once made an unsuccessful appeal to the electors, you can also reasonably make succes sive appeals in regard ‘to amendments in the Constitution. But there is this radical difference between the two cases : The Constitution is . the subject-matter upon which parties and policies must operate; it is entirely distinct from parties and policies themselves. If the Constitution is not stable, then parties and policies are all in vain and absolutely useless.
– What is the power of amendment in the Constitution for?
– The power of amendment in the Constitution was not placed there for politicians to play with as they choose. The referendum was provided for, not to weaken the Constitution, but to give power to the people to express their opinion with regard to its improvement. Senator Millen has pointed out that the English people, from the very time at which they began to frame their laws, adopted the policy of decentralization. ‘ It was through the extension of that policy that the United Kingdom was built up, and has grown into the greatest Empire the world ever saw. What has been the characteristic of our nation? In the early days of our history our people were able to express and give effect to great principles of legislation in the form of common law. As the country advanced there came the expression of great principles in Magna Charta, a concession won from a despotic king. Then we have the Habeas Corpus Act, which also contained definiteprinciples, and right through the intervening stages a marked feature of all English legislation has been that certain principles have been fixed and stable. It is because the people were conservative as to constitutional principles, whether written or unwritten, that the English political system gradually grew and developed until ultimately it became the strongest exposition of constitutional government to which any civilized people in the world have been able to attain. It was fixity of purpose and principle in their Constitution, whether written or unwritten, which made the British people the greatest political people on earth. It was the stability of the principles which they put down in their Constitution, written or unwritten, and the care with which they worked out certain great principles of government and embodied them in their laws or political’ charters - it was that which helped the English people to gradually grow and develop until they became what they are. Every writer of history, as well as every jurist to-day, has pointed out that the principle of fixity, allowing for development from time to time, has made the English people and their political system, not merely the envy and the admiration, but the model, of other peoples.
– They are the real chosen race, the honorable senator thinks.
– I have made no assertion in regard to the English people being better or worse in other respects than other people. I have only mentioned what is the acknowledged verdict of every jurist and every historian to-day, and that is that there is no finer achievement in the work of legislation for the advancement and the social development of the people, for the preservation of their freedom and for the development of law and order in that freedom, than that which has been attained by the English people.
– How is it we went to America for most of our own Constitution ?
– Your analysis and argument show just the opposite to that which you wish to prove.
– Not at all. My purpose in drawing marked attention to a peculiar feature of our political Constitution and history is that a. people who are always wanting to change their Constitution, and a Government who are always asking the people to alter their Constitution, are flying in the face of that great experience. Let me consider the matter from another point of view. ‘ From the time Louis XVI. of France called together the National Assembly until after the Bourbon Monarchy was restored, between 1830 and 1840, there were seventyfive Constitutions proposed to the French people for their acceptance, amendment, or rejection. The first National Assembly which was called together by that King sat for four years, and they proposed, submitted, and altered no less than a dozen Constitutions. They were not able to frame a Constitution which satisfied the people, and the result was that the legislative confusion had to be ended by “a whiff, of grapeshot” under the despot Bonaparte. A Constitution is something more than a contract. It is, so to speak, the expression of the best and the highest power and intelligence in government. Our Constitution, as it stands, is the expression of the best legislative intellect and experience for half a century, and was finally adopted as a stable guide to enable us to steer our path in national development. For such a purpose a national Constitution was conferred upon this National Parliament.
– With the right to alter it.
– Yes, and wisely so to an extent. Still, in the face of what I have quoted from history, a Government or a party which has a policy that alterations of the Constitution, even in its vital parts, may be proposed to-day, and, if rejected by the people, may be resubmitted to them in a short time, is dooming the Constitution to destruction and is acting on principles which have wrecked many a Democracy.
– That is exactly the argument which was used against the reform of the Upper House in England.
– I am rather glad of that remark, because I have a note on the point. If we were to concentrate in a particular principle the whole of the objections to these vital amendments of the Constitution, it might be expressed in these words, “ We want these Federal powers because the States are hampered by Legislative Councils.”
– Hear, hear !
– That is the sum and substance of this demand, and it is the last ditch, so to speak, of honorable senators opposite.
– The first ditch.
– It may be the first or the last ditch, according to the point of view ; but I think that when my honorable friends drop into the ditch it will be found to be their cemetery. When we ask our honorable friends to mention a particular instance where a Legislative Council has proved itself an insuperable obstacle against legislation which the people wished to be enacted, we can elicit nothing definite.
– The Legislative Council of Western Australia at the present time.
– And the Legislative Council of South Australia- in this very year in its action concerning the piers and the wharfs.
– We can get nothing definite from the other side. And, more than that, every honorable senator who is familiar with the history of legislation in Australia knows that, sooner or later, whenever the Legislative Council of a State has acted in opposition to the will of the Legislative Assembly, and the people have declared their will unmistakably, the Legislative Council has yielded, as it must do all the time.
– The people have not a voice.
– The people have a very strong and effective voice through the election of their representatives in the Legislative Assemblies. If a Legislative Assembly has desired that certain reforms in legislation should be made, and a Legislative Council, as it is alleged, has thrown them out, the people have had, by means of the suffrage, the power to compel the Legislative Council to obey them. The strongest second Chamber to-day is the House of Lords. As a matter of fact ;that House has not finally or obstinately -resisted the declared will of the people for the last 100 years. When Mr. Balfour went before the electors in 1906, he pointed out the conflict which was likely to arise between his party and the House of Lords. He used these words in an address at the Carlton Club, which was to a certain extent the manifesto of his party -
I do not for one moment believe that the Lords, in the exercise of the high functions intrusted to them by the Constitution, will waver in their duty. Their duty is not to thwart the will of the nation, but to see that its will is really and truly carried out.
At that very election his party was defeated, and the measures of the Liberal Government which succeeded were passed by the House of Lords, and Lord Lansdowne then, as he did afterwards, told the peers that the great principle of the constitutional government of the United Kingdom was that when the will of the people was declared it should prevail. Notwithstanding the opinion of the House, of Lords, the Veto Bill and the other Bills were passed at that time by that House. From that point of view I give the answer back to this Government. I say that the will of the people is to prevail. The will of the people ought to prevail when . it is definitely, declared. When it is sought on a definite and clear proposition it ought to prevail, and in spite of what any one can do in this Parliament it will prevail. That leads me to ask, How is it that the will of the people, unmistakably expressed in 191 1, is not to prevail now ? In that year they stated distinctly that they did not desire the proposed alterations of the Constitution to be made. There has never been a more clear and more emphatic verdict against- proposed amendments of the Constitution than was the verdict delivered by the people in 191 1. Who are those who are now saying that the will of the people should prevail ? They are those who are throwing that verdict right back into the faces of the people. It is really a species of political hypocrisy to talk about the will of the people not prevailing, and to say that the reason for proposing these amendments is because the States have Legislative Councils. Whenever a Government or a party has played tricks with the Constitution, with the result of making it wear one aspect to-day and another aspect to-morrow, the end has been disastrous in every way to the people. What are the other reasons given for the re-submission of these proposals? The second reason, which is expressed on the platform, in the press, and in individual utterances, is that in 191 1 the people did not understand the proposals which were submitted for their acceptance. It was the same people who were responsible for the Constitution under which we are now living. It was assumed that they understood what they were doing when they ratified that Constitution. They said “ Yes “ to it. It is admitted generally’ that they acted wisely, and that they then gave to Australia a powerful and use’ful instrument for the purposes of national government. Yet when they said “No” to these very proposals for the amendment of the Constitution, honorable senators opposite tell us that they did not know what they were doing; that they were ignorant, and that they did not understand, and could not be made to understand, what they were asked to do. If that were true, it would be absurd to trust such a people. We say, on, the contrary, that they did know what they were doing when, on “the last occasion, they were asked to consent to these amendments being made in the Constitution, and we desire to act upon their verdict.
– They did not properly understand the questions put to them.
– That is a magnificent compliment to my honorable friend, who, with others of his party, went out to explain those questions. Notwithstanding his- explanations, the people said “No” to. the honorable senator. Does he -mean to infer that he was unable to make himself understood ?
– The trouble is that he did make himself understood.
– And greatly to the advantage of our party.
– Most of our time was taken up in correcting the tarradiddles of the party opposite.
– The Minister of Defence now suggests another excuse. According to his statement, the people said “ No “ to these proposals on the last occasion, not because they were ignorant ot what they meant, but because we lied.
– Our honorable friends opposite went very close to it in some cases.
– So long as there are political parties having different policies, so long will there be contrary and contradictory advice submitted to the people. Every constitutionally-governed country must submit to that. It is even an advantage that the people should have contrary views placed before them ; but it is an insult to the people to say that when those views have been placed before them they are unable to form a judgment upon them. However these proposals are viewed, they assume an ignorance of the Constitution on the part of the people, a. misuse of the powers of the referenda, or an insult to the people.
– Two-thirds of the people only heard one side of the matter on the last occasion through the pres.,.
– It has frequently been said that the press misled the people of Australia. It is further said that the press were subsidized, and were more or less corrupted. We are invited to believe that the people, blinded by a corrupt press, gave a wrong verdict; in other words, that the jury was profoundly ignorant. If that be so, the Government can have no hope in submitting these proposals to such a people. * Our only hope must always rest upon the intelligence of the people. If the people of Australia were ignorant in 191 1, of what use is it for the Government to appeal to them now, since the same influences are bound to operate? I do not think that the press of Australia will alter its advice to the people on this occasion, and we certainly do not intend to do so. If the .press will again act corruptly, and supporters of the party on this side will again pour forth a torrent f “ tarradiddles “ - to use the language of the Minister of Defence - what reason, is there for again submitting these proposals to the people?
– May not the peoplehave learned a lesson from bitter experience ?
– That is a failinterjection. Let me ask the honorable senator how have the circumstances changed. It is admitted by supporters of these proposals that the political partiesand their policies have not changed. It isalso admitted that social and industrial conditions in the Commonwealth have not changed since similar proposals were last submitted to the people. The same party have control in the National Parliament of the destinies of Australia, and are carrying out the same policy. They are opposed by a party that still has the same policy, and in these circumstances I ask why should these proposals for the amendment of the Constitution be re- submitted ? So far as we know, the electors had learned from experience on the last occasion, and gave their verdict accordingly. One of the great safeguards of our Constitution is trial by jury, and it is the essence of trial by jury that the verdict of the jury shall stand. But theGovernment contend that the verdict of thegreat jury of the people is the only jury’sverdict that shall not stand. Those whoare desirous of submitting these proposalsto the electors with a view to the alteration of their verdict tell them, “ If you do not say ‘ Yes ‘ now, we shall put these questions to you again. If you will not say ‘ Yes ‘ in 1913, we shall continue to put these questions to you.” It is unthinkable that in a Court of law a Judge should deal with a jury in that way. As a matter of history,, of course, we know that Judgesused at one time to so deal with juries. They occasionally kept them without food for days. They would not accept their verdict sometimes for two or three months after the trial, and they sometimes tied them to a cart- tail and dragged them about England when they would not give a verdict which the Judges desired. But the people put an end to that kind of thing, and decreed that in ordinary circumstances the verdict of a jury must stand. That is the keystone of the liberty of our people ; and yet, according to honorable senators opposite, the verdict of the greatest jury in Australia is mot to stand. The object of the re-submission of these proposals for’ the amendment of the Constitution is to secure for this Parliament increased powers with regard to trade and commerce,, labour, employment and unemployment, and the other matters dealt with in the different Bills now before the Senate. It has frequently been stated that the reason why these powers should be given to this Parliament is that under the Federal Constitutions of Cana’da and South Africa they are given to the central authority. It has also been pointed out by supporters of these proposals that, under the Constitutions of Germany and Switzerland, these powers are vested in the National Parliament. It is contended that there can be nothing revolutionary or extreme in asking that powers should be conferred upon this Parliament which are exercised by the National Parliaments of those countries. But I ask whether those who desire that these powers should be vested in this Parliament are prepared to advocate for Australia the adoption of the Constitutions of Canada or South Africa. 1 venture to say that if any such proposal as th;it were submitted to the people, it would be scouted, and turned down by a greater majority than the majority by which proposals similar to those now being moved were defeated on the occasion of the last referenda. ‘When honorable senators opposite talk of the powers of the Federal Parliament of Germany, I would ask whether they understand the powers of the Bundesrat in that country. The AttorneyGeneral has frequently mentioned the Constitution of Canada as an apology for these proposals; but is the honorable gentleman, or the Government of which he is a member, prepared to suggest that Australia should adopt the Constitution of Canada ? If proposals were made that in dealing with trade and commerce, employment, trusts, and monopolies, we should exercise the powers which may be exercised by the National Parliament of Canada, I nm certain that no one in Australia would accept them. Where, then, is the analogy which is sought to be drawn? The AttorneyGeneral could not keep the party to which he belongs together for an hour if, on behalf of the Government, he proposed to alter the Constitution of Australia upon the lines of the Canadian or German models. I do not admit the proposition that under the Canadian, German, or Swiss Constitutions the National Parliaments are given the powers which honorable senators opposite wish to have conferred upon this
Parliament by the proposed amendments of the Constitution.
– The Privy Council has said that they have not these powers.
– As Senator Chataway has said, the Privy Council has clearly decided that the National Parliament of Canada to which I have referred do not possess the powers which the Government desire to have conferred upon this Parliament.
– In what regard?
– With regard to trade and commerce. Those who are familiar with the decisions of the Privy Council are aware that laws controlling such matters as bankruptcy, company law, and even education, have sometimes been ruled to be unconstitutional. The artisan of Munich to-day is entirely free from interference from any central bureau at Berlin. If you were to try to control the artisans of Wurtemburg, Bavaria, and Hanover from a central bureau, as it is proposed in this country to control the artisans of Brisbane and Perth from Yass-Canberra, the effort would end in revolution.
– Industrial matters in Germany are controlled, by a central Parliament, nevertheless.
– Even assuming that the National Parliaments of Canada and Germany possess these powers, it cannot be disputed that they have never attempted to exert them. There is not a Federal or Confederate Government on earth to-day that have proposed to use such powers as the Federal Government of Australia desire to exercise. What is the great principle of modern constitutional government? It is decentralization. What is going on in the Mother of Parliaments to-day? . What is the great motive lying behind Imperial legislation, the great instrument by which Great Britain attempts to make her legislation effective? It is decentralization. Every country on earth that has advanced to a prominent position in civilization, is striving to decentralize as much as possible.
– Which country, outside Great Britain?
– It is so in France and Germany. The great struggle which is going on in France to-day arises from the efforts of the Socialists to centralize administration. The Liberals are aiming at decentralization. The Central Government in Germany have been warned over and over again that further centraliza- tion may mean the break-up of the German Confederation. I wish now to come to close quarters with regard to the alleged evils arising from combines. Possibly many of them are quite real. I believe, :for my own part, that some of the allegations in this regard have been proved up to the hilt. It is, therefore, urged that we should take trusts and combines by the throat and treat them as enemies of industry. As long as there are demagogues in politics there will always be some who will put that view before the people - probably the easiest and most attractive way for the demagogues to reach power is by talking in that fashion. But I doubt whether the evil arising from combines is as great as has been alleged by some politicians. During the last Presidential campaign in America 1 journal which took an active part in the fight, the American Review of Reviews, called for opinions from some of the ablest men in the country, with the object of throwing light upon the question of the conflict between combines and labour. Contrasting the two relationships, one of the writers said -
It is deplorable that organized labour has so generally misunderstood and resisted all efforts at a correct measurement by which alone a just scale for division of profits can be established, by which, indeed, just division would ultimately be compelled, nol only as between one worker and another, but as between all employers and employes.
I quite indorse that. When you have determined, by means of the investigation of economists, what is a fair reward for labour, then, and not till then, can the Legislature safely proceed to determine upon such matter;, as these. But it is in the interests of politicians that the question shall not be determined by such means. They desire that the worker and his leaders shall be induced to support a political party which will only grant relief by amendments of the law. I say this because I am convinced that it is not by an amendment of the Constitution or by legislation of any kind that you can improve the condition of the worker ; and those who are holding out the hope to the workers of Australia that if these amendments in the Constitution are made, a new paradise for labour will be opened up, are mere betrayers of the people, mere hireling shepherds and decievers. Nothing permanently good can ever accrue to the .people when legislation is passed as a result of inflaming their prejudices, It has been said that probably the reason why trusts and combines have secured such power in America, in Canada, and perhaps in Australia, is mainly due to the influence of the Tariff.
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
– It does not matter what I believe on the subject. Whenever my view has been solicited I have not flinched from saying “ Yes “ or “ No “ to any question. I have not cared whether the answer would make me popular or unpopular, although I am not now giving a personal opinion. The statement which I have cited has been made by those who support these amendments of the Constitution, as well as by those who oppose them.
– We want the honorable senator’s own opinion.
– The honorable senator will not get it now.
– “ These are my opinions but I can change them.”
– It is as plain as possible that the Vice-President of the Executive Council’s interjection has been made for the purpose of inducing me to made a declaration that would possibly be hereafter uncomfortable, not only to myself, but to others of my party. -I have been too long in politics to be led off the scent by red herrings like that. When the proper time comes, I shall not hesitate to express my opinion. It is contended by the most eminent authorities in Canada that the best way to deal with these combines is through the Tariff. Here is a declaration that was made by Mr. McKenzie, Minister of . Labour in the Canadian Government, in 1910 -
In labour troubles the penalties are unimportant. Negotiations, advice, and publicity are the effective things. The loss of Tariff protection, the loss of patent protection, or a substantial fine, is a genuine danger to the Constitution. Not in the United States, not in Canada, nowhere in the world in modern times, have such remedies as these been proposed. Nowhere in the world has nationalization been suggested as the dread and only alternative.
In Canada there is a law which provides that if any trust or combine is dealing unfairly with the public, and is operating upon manufactures which are practically brought into existence by the Tariff, the Tariff can be lowered.
– Will the honorable senator vote for the lowering of the sugar duties?
– As that question has been asked me, might I ask Senator Russell, will he vote in favour of an alteration of the Tariff for the purpose of dealing with these trusts and combines?
– I will vote in favour of increasing it. Will the honorable senator vote in favour of lowering it?
– If there is any trust or combine in Australia that is carrying on an industry which is dependent upon the Tariff, and is using that industry to the detriment of the public, I am prepared to consider a revision of that Tariff, with the view of lowering it. In Canada they put forward that remedy, and that remedy is available to us now. That being so, before we seek to amend the Constitution we should make inquiries into the operations of these combines, to see whether the Tariff has enabled them to oppress the worker on the one hand, and exploit the public on the other hand. But are these combines in Australia destructive of our industries? Atc; they enemies of Labour? I cannot find evidence of it. I look in some quarters where I think I shall get strong evidence, and this is what I find : A gentleman occupying a very’ prominent position in Labour ranks, and well known in Australia, made these remarks - 1 am quite with the honorable member that we should take care that nothing is done to prevent such legitimate combination amongst coal-owners as may be found necessary to enable them to get a fair profit on their capital invested and to insure fair wages to their employes.
That is a declaration made by Mr. Watson, the ex-Leader of the Labour party. tfe admitted that this particular Combine, which has been the- subject of a prosecution in the High Court, was a beneficial one. Speaking at Newcastle about the same time, he said -
At Newcastle miners have practically gone out on strike to get a general agreement with their proprietors, and incidentally to bring the proprietors into combination.
The Vend was beginning its operations at the time when Mr. Watson made those statements in another place, in order to protect that Combine. We on this side had our doubts about the Combine, and took steps to investigate its operations. Mr. Watson also made these remarks -
I wish it to be distinctly understood that the position at Newcastle ought not to be disturbed, because I believe that to -disturb an arrangement of that description would bring an injury, not merely upon the combination of proprietors, but upon all employed at their collieries.
It is contended that one of the reasonswhy we should amend the Constitution isthat the High Court delivered a judgment favorable to the operations of that Combine, on account of the narrow restrictionsof the Constitution.; but the High Court, in-, its judgment, really said what Mr. Watson said over and over again in another Chamber. The operations of that Combine were the subject of discussion in this Senate about three years ago, as the result of it motion, for the adjournment of the Senate by Senator Millen. What was the attitude of honorable senators on the other side on that occasion? The fact of a combination having been formed between the steamship companies and the colliery proprietors was practically applauded by honorable senators on the other side. It was pointed out by them that since the Combine had been formed better wages had been paid that, prior to the Combine being formed,, the miners were reduced to starvation wages, and that it was only fair that whenthe Combine had guaranteed to give betterwages to the colliery workers, the publicshould pay the increase. I indorse every one of those remarks. The principle invol ved’ is thoroughly sound, and it is one which weshould like to apply, as far as we can, in, all our legislation. But those who are nowmaking such a song about combines, were strong supporters of that Combine, which’ was brought before the Court by the Liberal party.
– lt was brought into existence at the instance of the Labour, unions themselves.
– Not at all. Theunions had nothing at all to do with the Vend.
– It is a matter of history that the colliery workers were receiving poor wages until a combination was formed between the steam-ship companies and the colliery proprietors.
– The steam-ship owners .came in later, and they have always been objected to by the Labour side.
– lt was pretty well understood that the miners could not get decent wages until a combine was-, formed, at least amongst the colliery, owners. It is also known that there was. a long and persistent effort on the part of the coal miners to induce the colliery owners to combine. The miners said tothe owners, “ You should combine in such a way as to control the prices ;. and if you control the prices, you can give us better conditions.” When that arrangement was made, it would have been ineffective unless the shipping companies had been brought in. Their proceedings were thoroughly investigated, with the result that the judgment of the High Court was practically a mere paraphrase in legal terms of what has been said over and over again by Mr. Watson. I mention this to show that the High Court could not have placed a very narrow interpretation on the law. So long as the operations of these combines are beneficial, and until it can be shown by the Clearest of evidence that they are detrimental to the public, there is no need to take action against them. The prosecution in the Vend case failed, but the powers of the Constitution have not been exhausted, because, in 19 to, we passed an Act of a far more drastic nature than the Statute under which the Vend was prosecuted. In order to show that the judgment Of the High Court is identical with the case put forward by the members of the Labour party, I intend to read some extracts from the judgment of the Chief Justice. He quoted the following passage from the judgment of Lord Macnaghten, in the Maxim.Nordenfeldt case, 1894 A.C. 535. -
It is a sufficient justification, and, indeed, the only justification, if the restriction is reasonable- reasonable, that is, in reference to the interests of the parties concerned, and reasonable in reference to the interests of the public, so framed and so guarded as to afford adequate protection 4o the party in whose favour it is imposed, while at the same time it is in no way injurious to the public.
The Chief Justice, applying these principles to the case before him, said -
Cut-throat competition is not how regarded by a large portion of mankind as necessarily beneficial to the public Indeed, it is against the evil consequences of that class of competition that the second part of section 4 is aimed. . . The Wages Boards’ Acts of the Australian States, with many others which have for th”eir object to secure a fair reward for honest labour and enterprise, whether through Customs laws or arbitration, are based on the same motion.
He then gave the History of the coal industry in Newcastle and on the South Coast, and of the arrangements made, and he said -
In substance, therefore, the arrangement was that the owners and the workmen should divide in the’ proportion of 11 to r3 any increase in the selling price. This arrangement may or may not have been based on sound principles of political economy, but during a period of forty years it commended itself as satisfactory to all persons concerned.
After dealing with the facts of the case, he continued -
In our opinion, the fair inference to be drawn from the tenor of the Vend agreement itself is that the intention of the parties was to’ put the Newcastle coal trade on a satisfactory basis, which would enable them to pay adequate wages to their men, and to sell their coal at a price.
And yet it is said that the Constitution does not enable us to do justice to the public and to the employes in any industry. It is not disputed that the public might suffer injury, but, so far as the relations of the coal-owners with their employes were concerned,, there was no doubt that the latter were greatly benefited, and because no intention to detrimentally affect the public was proved the case broke down. It is admitted that the object of these amendments is to give to the Federal Parliament a very much more extended jurisdiction. It is also admitted that a large proportion of the powers proposed to be conferred have hitherto been embraced within the State jurisdiction, and if both propositions are correct, it follows that the endowment of the Federal authority with these powers will detract from the powers now exercised by the States. Why are these powers to be taken from the States? It is argued by those who support the Constitution in its present form that the State Governments are the proper instruments through which these powers should be exercised. We go further, and say that the State authorities can more wisely and more effectively exercise jurisdiction over these matters than can the Federal authority. We go still further, and say that if these powers are transferred to the Federal Parliament the public interests will materially suffer. Those who hold these views are said to be suffering from State Rights mania. But I will quote an opinion that will throw a flood of light On the subject. After reviewing the two different kinds of jurisdiction, and pointing out the jurisdiction which, in his view, should prevail, the speaker whom I am about to quote said -
It seems to me that the administration of our laws, the management of our mines, the handling of our railways, the great arteries of transport, the control and regulation of industry,, the education of the whole population who are to- be engaged in these ways, the administering of the whole system Of laws and justice which controls every relationship, the establishment of that local government which is in future’; we hope, following, the example of Europe, to be the instrument by which a vast amount of social reform’ is to be worked, but the whole of these vital matters are’ in the hands’ of the State Parliaments.
If we want decent land laws, this House has to make them. If we want decent mining laws, this House has to make them. If we want a complete railway policy, this House alone must be responsible for it. If we want industrial legislation outside those big prominent cases which can fight their way into the Federal Arbitration Court, this House has to provide it. The Federal Court is all right for those powerful and wealthy unions which have branches all over Australia, and are. sufficiently well organized to come together and .fight their cases before that almost inaccessible tribunal.
Whenever we turn” our eyes to matters which are directly in issue in the struggles of politics to-day, it is to the State and not to the Federal Parliament we appeal.
That argument is eloquent, and it is as convincing as eloquent. It is the argument of Mr. Holman, the present AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, as expressed on 21st October, 1909. Honorable members opposite are confronted with this declaration from the ablest man of their party. He gave his reasons for opposing the referenda, and he put the position so clearly and so strongly that, in order to restrain him from going on the public platform and fighting the referenda proposals, the leaders of the Labour party threatened him with expulsion from their ranks. They sandbagged him, and he dare not go on the platform and repeat the declaration he had made in Parliament. But I quoted his statements over and over again from the public platform. On one occasion in Brisbane I quoted the statements I have just read without disclosing the name of the speaker, and I was met with the observation, “ Oh, that is only your opinion.” When I mentioned Mr. Holman’s name, a good many of those in the hall found the atmosphere too oppressive, and left.
– Did the honorable senator read Mr. Deakin’s and Mr. Irvine’s opinions?
– I was only concerned with the opinion of one of the ablest members of the Labour party. I indorse every syllable of Mr. Holman’s utterance. . I doubt whether that gentleman will go on the platform at the coming referenda and repeat what he said in the New South Wales Parliament on the occasion to which I have referred. Mr. Holman understands the question thoroughly. He realizes that the Federal and State jurisdictions should be kept separate, and recognises the advantage of retaining the present distinctions. If his statement held good in 1909, it will hold good today, and neither Mr. Holman nor any member of his party can wipe it out.
– You have taken Mr. Holman to your bosom.
– If he chooses . to come to our bosom entertaining such sentiments as those I have quoted, well and good.
– The only difference between Mr. Holman and other members of his party is that he has the courage to say what he thinks, while others remain silent.
– Yes, and every man in the Labour party who has shown courage in connexion with big public questions such as those now before us has been sandbagged or flogged out of the party. Some of the very best men we have on the Liberal side, whose opinions are looked to with respect, have left the other side, and have come over to us because the restrictions on their better judgment were too great to be tolerated.
– Weeds we have “ thrown over our garden wall.”
– No; they were men who had made their position before they were in the Labour party. When they were in that party they were the strongest members of it, and their reasonings were quoted far and wide. Some of them have since left their mark on the statute-book. Originality, courage, and judgment on big, questions seem to be a crime with honorable senators opposite. Consistency and’ the Caucus aire the refuge of political’ mediocrities.
– Name them.
– It is frequently said that the Caucus system is the only means of managing a party’s affairs under which political mediocrities will endure.
– It is no place for political tricksters, anyhow.
– I hope not.
– Or for political bounders.
– I do not know who would go out and hang himself now if he applied that term to himself.
– You tried hard to get in under its aegis.
– No red herring ! I shall now get on to the questionof monopolies. The Minister of Defence has practically said that quite a recent and most alarming development in industrial civilization is the establishment of monopolies and combines. That seems to be a. delusion which is possessing the minds of many honorable senators on the other side. It was Solomon, I believe, who remarked that there is nothing new under the sun. If we trace economic history back far enough we shall find the existence of monopolies, and also complaints about them. I shall take one as an illustration of the rest. There is a glass monopoly in Austria and America to-day. In England, in 1619, a glass monopoly was given to Sir Richard Mansell. It lasted until 1855 ; it survived him, and he and some others got a concession from Queen Elizabeth to mine in Cornwall. At that time tin and copper were regarded as royal metals. That being so, the Crown had a monopoly over them, and could also grant a monopoly. Sir Richard Mansell was one of those who got the right to open up the tin mines of Cornwall. His monopoly lasted up to 1643. I was able to get at the record of the debates on this matter. It was brought up in either the House of Commons or the Privy Council. The same complaints were made then as are made here to-day. There was talk about the danger of monopolies and the’ evils of oppression. Sir Walter Raleigh, who happened to be a member of the Privy Council, stood up on the other side, and he said just as my honorable friends are saying to-day, “ The miners were getting very poor wages before the monopoly was given. Where they were getting only 2s. a week they are now receiving 4s.” It is all nonsense for the Minister of Defence to say that this matter of monopolies is something revolutionary. That statement is either intended to blind or bulldoze the people of Australia, or is an exhibition of ignorance of economic history. I could trace monopolies to a date nearer our own times. I could trace in the Privy Council and in Parliament, arguments on both sides which are reminiscent, and are in some cases almost word for word identical with the arguments advancedpro and con. in this Senate of the enlightened Commonwealth of Australia.
– Can you not save yourself a lot of trouble by pointing out the distinction between the monopolies of those days and the monopolies of the present times?
– I doubt whether if I were to try to make an analysis on any essential point I should find one tittle of difference in essence. The honorable senator has jumped a little too soon. The operations of monopolies embrace a wider area to-day than they did in the days I referred to.
– You said that they wanted a Royal Charter.
– Yes; and sometimes they got it. They were given a Royal Charter as a monopoly. The honorable senator must surely know that two or three of the Royal Charters granted were most powerful, and, indeed, were the only means by which the Empire’s trade and commerce could be developed in those days.
– A Royal Charter in those days simply compares with the Act under which a private railway company or a gas company operates in Australia today.
– Very much so. The Orders in Council granting these concessions were ordered very much in the same way.
– There was a vast difference, because no other trader had the right but the person in possession of the Royal Charter.
– It is the same now with the Act under which the Sydney Gas Company operates.
– The same monopolies are given to-day as were given in bygone days, and the only difference in principle is that the combines and trusts operate over a larger area, with a larger capital, and increased facilities of communication. The aggregation of their capital, and the effect of their operations can be more quickly felt. If we take the aggregation of capital in trusts and combines devoted to industry in the twentieth century, side by side with the aggregation of capital in those days, and compare the value of a £1 then with the value of a £1 now, I doubt if from the monetary point of view, the aggregation of capital in the twentieth century is not very much larger than that which went on in the early part of the eighteenth or nineteenth century. There is not much difference ; practically the principle is the same. It must be remembered, too, that the combining of capital was restricted by law, just as, unfortunately, the combining of labour was restricted by law. The common law would not allow capital to combine nor to operate in the same way as an individual could apply his own capital. When the great industrial development began in England in the early part of the nineteenth century, the law was altered so as to allow individuals to concentrate their capital ; partnership law and company law began to form, and then charters began to come. The development of banking company and partnership law tended to give an impetus to capital to combine for industrial purposes. That helped in the industrial development of England. It helped in the industrial development of every country where those laws were adopted. So that the principle of combines, and indirectly of monopolies, was one which, economically, was favoured by all legislators.
– And the law made property more sacred than human life at that time.
– I would remind the honorable senator that, side by side with this development of the principle of combination in regard to capital, labour was also allowed to combine. It was a crime in 1830 if workmen met together and tried to fix the price of their labour ; it was regarded by the employers as a sort of treason, sedition, or worse, if they met together to make certain demands. But gradually they also were allowed to combine. They were given certain rights and privileges, and the movements of capital and labour were going on side by side so long that any ordinary student of economy and legislation, any ordinary Macaulayan schoolboy, could have seen that, with the advance of civilization, the combinations of labour and capital would be gradually developed until we would have some of those huge combinations, both of labour and of capital, which operate to-day. One reason why I oppose so strongly the Bill asking for power to deal with monopolies is the want of a definition. What is a “monopoly”? It is admitted by the AttorneyGeneral, who is sponsor for the Bill, that he cannot define the word. It is practically admitted by the representative of the Government here that it is impossible to define it, and Parliament is to get out of the difficulty of definition by means of a provision under which it will be empowered to say that a certain business is a monopoly, and upon that declaration being made the business will become a monopoly. Is there any precedent in the history of economics and legislation for such a’ stupid and ridiculous proposition ? This is really tantamount to giving a blank cheque to Parliament.
– It can be defined easily enough.
– Then why is it not defined in the Bill ? A new aspect is introduced. The Vice-President of the Executive Council says that it is easy enough to define “ monopoly,” while the Attorney-General, who knows the legal difficulties in the way, has said publicly that it defies the wit of man to define the word. I believe that the honorable and learned gentleman is, to a large extent, right. We cannot define “monopoly,” but we can do as is frequently done when we do not wish to give a wide definition of a term : we can provide in the Bill that a term shall mean so-and-so for certain purposes, and thus for the purposes of the Act we get a working definition. If this power is conferred upon the Federal Parliament, what will be its position ? It will have the right to declare that a certain business is a monopoly, and that the Government may take it over on “just terms,” which means that the Parliament is to ask the nation to pay for the business. When that day comes, that principle will be the most fruitful seed plot of corruption that the world has ever seen, and, much as we execrate the graft which goes on in America, that graft will be a small circumstance compared with the graft which must necessarily arise out of legislation framed under such an amendment of the Constitution. _ Let me illustrate what I mean. Take, for instance, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which is a monopoly, and which, if the Government could have their way, and had the means, would be nationalized. . Suppose that the company put down its good- will at ^6,000,000 or ,£7,000,000, and that the Government will agree to give only ^5,000,000, there will be at least 000,000 for the company to gamble with.
– Will this Parliament or the High Court determine what the expression “ just “ means ?
– We do not know yet, but so far as this proposed amendment is concerned, we do know that that possibility is open. Suppose that this amendment is carried, and that thereunder legislation is framed bringing the settlement of the dispute between the Sugar Company and the Government under the jurisdiction of the High Court. I would not let that ^1,000,000 jingle outside the doors of the High Court.
– But do you think that, under this proposal, the Parliament will have to debate the price to be paid for a monopoly?
– I do not see how Parliament can get out of that position.
– It can define what are “just terms.”
– From the moment that Parliament is asked to declare that a certain industry is a monopoly, and must be bought out for the purposes of the nation, the question of price must inevitably come before it.
– You will burst a blood-vessel if you are not careful; do not get excited.
– I hope to burst tip what I think will be a seed plot of great corruption in Australia. Let us get to close grips with this important question. Let us assume that the persons controlling the sugar monopoly fix for the purchase of their business a certain price which they contend is a fair one. The Government say “ No..’-‘ and the difference between them amounts to ^1,000,000. There at once arises a frightful temptation. We know that similar temptations have arisen in connexion with the State Legislatures of America. We know the prices which were paid for franchises without taking money from the public purse directly.
– What is to prevent the price being decided on the principles embodied in the Lands Acquisition Act?
– Suppose that the matter is decided on the lines laid down in that Act; I should not like to be an arbitrator in such a matter if I were a man of a certain temperament. We know that immense sums will require to be paid for the nationalization of industries. I have supposed that there is a difference of ^£1,000,000 between the price put upon the sugar monopoly by those controlling it, and the Government nationalizing it ; and I want to know who will be charged with the responsibility of doing justice between the parties.
– Opportunities will be afforded for the biggest bull and bear operations possible.
– Undoubtedly they will. In such circumstances it would not matter two straws to a combine, whether their operations inflicted injury upon the public or not, if they knew that by injuring the public they would be declared to be a monopoly and could then get their own price from the Government determined to nationalize it. I foresee that such things will, or may, happen ; and it is our duty to guard the public purse in this regard. This- is one of the strong reasons which induce me to oppose these proposals. It is submitted by honorable senators opposite that the company controlling the sugar industry is a monopoly, and that it is operating to’ the detriment of the public. They determined that it should be dealt with, and appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the matter. Some of the members of the Commission were believed not to be impartially disposed towards the allegations put forward by the other side. The Commission made their investigation, and what has been their decision. They have reported -
We do not think that the public ownership of the refineries would prove as financially successful as the present private ownership.
That is definite. The Commissioners further say -
The Commonwealth Treasury would be involved in a heavy financial loss unless it were prepared to make higher demands on the consumers than is necessary under a system of privateowned industry.
There is no doubt as to the meaning of that. What has happened has been that an important plank of the platform of the Labour party has been tested by a Commission which, at least, was not hostile to the party ; and the plank has broken down in the middle, plunging those who depended upon it into the raging ocean of impossibilities and absurdities. . The one thing which the Sugar Commission have distinctly warned us against is the nationalization of the sugar industry. No honorable senator opposite has failed to describe the company controlling the industry as a monopoly, and it has been repeatedly stated that it has squeezed inordinate profits out of the public. The matter has been put to the test, and, notwithstanding all the charges that have been made, the Sugar Commission say “No; do not nationalize it.”
– It has been said that the Commission was packed.
– Who said that the Commission was packed?
– A colleague of the honorable senator in another place.
– The only comment of that kind which I have seen was to the effect that, if the Commission was packed at all, it was in order to make sure of a verdict against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. If there could be a verdict in favour of the company, it is certainly that which has been arrived at by the Commission. After inquiry, the members of the Commission have reported against the nationalization of the sugar industry, and give reasons for their report which are clear and distinct. Another object of the proposed amendments of the Constitution is to fix prices and wages. The longest and strongest part of the argument of the Minister of Defence was directed to showing that the fixation of prices might be very easily brought about. I may say, in answer to the honorable senator, that the possibility of the fixation of the prices of goods is one of the oldest delusions of antiquity. It was antique and hoary when Moses was pulled out of the ark in the bullrushes. The fixation of prices was in operation then, and we can trace it right up to the present time. Every attempt made at different stages of the world’s history to fix prices has failed. The argument is frequently used on the other side, “ Combines fix their prices, and why should not the Federal Government do so?’’ This argument is fallacious. If the Government propose to fix prices, what will be their standard? It will be decided by political influence. If it is proposed to fix the prices of wool and wheat, the pastoralists and the wheat-growers will have a “ pull “ in Parliament, and will seek to make use of political influence. Privatelyconducted combines, in fixing prices, take into consideration the law of supply and demand. The standard by which they determine prices may not always be a correct one; but a standard determined by the law of supply and demand will be more reliable than one determined by the exercise of political influence. 1 have said that this delusion about the fixation of prices is one of the most ancient in history. It was swept away by the writings of Adam Smith, in his book The Wealth of Nations. It is an historical fact that that book influenced the Encyclopaedists of France, who formed the opinions which led to the French Revolution. The Jacobins of France made the revolution of opinion a revolution in fact, and the result of the Revolution was to sweep from every statute-book in Europe legislation passed for the general fixation of prices. The power of the fixation of prices was the most powerful weapon of Despotism. The last vestige of it disappeared from England at the time the Corn Law legislation was completed. In the middle of the nineteenth century the delusion had entirely disappeared from economic thought and legislation; but we find it revived again at this stage of our history in its pristine vigour.
– Can the honorable senator explain how it is that the fixing of the prices of land in Ireland has worked out so satisfactorily?
– I venture to submit that possibly we are only quarrelling about the meaning of terms. I think it is much more correct to say that the prices of land in Ireland were not fixe’dThe land was taken from the landlords of Ireland, at its market value at the time. A Commission was appointed with power to inquire into the whole matter, and to determine the value of the land. There was then a grant made from the Imperial Treasury to enable the tenants to purchase the freeholds of their holdings from the landlords, and some £140,000,000 was made a charge on the Imperial Treasury for that purpose. I am considering the ordinary application of the term, and I say that, in its ordinary acceptation, fixation of prices was swept away by the French Revolution. The passing of the Corn Laws in England saw the last of the delusions there, and no modern legislation by any Parliament has sought to fix prices.. Looking into history a little, I find that in the reign of Henry VIII. there was a Statute fixing the wages of artificers, and side by side with that the prices of articles and commodities. Going back to the time of Edward III., I find indications of a measure to fix the price of labour and the price of poultry. These prices were fixed by the same Act. I ‘find again in the reign of Henry VIII. a Statute fixing the price of beef and pork at Jd. and of mutton and veal at half-a-farthing per pound. Going a little further back, I find an outline of an Act fixing the price of scarlet cloth at 26s. per yard. Side by side with that, there is a record showing, that the wages of bricklayers and tilerswere fixed. One of the most startling discoveries I made in my little . research intothe history of this delusion was that in the reign of the well-known despot, King John, there was what was called an “Assize of Bread.” There was a tribunal going about fixing the price of bread, and fixing it irrespective of the price of corn. Another astonishing thing that I found was that King John was not content with fixing the price of bread. He also fixed the price of beer at 2d. a gallon in the towns and id- a gallon in the country. He probably fixed the price of bread and beer because he, as King, thought, as many politicians think, that the way to obtain power is through bread and beer. At the time that King John took this action he was contending with his barons. They tried to get the people on their side in order to drive the despot out of England; and King John, in order to get the people on his side, determined to fix the price of bread and beer. We should like to know whether the price of bread and beer is going to be fixed by the Government of this country?
– If so, we should like to know whether the prices of bread and beer are to be fixed up or down.
– Perhaps we ought not to press the Government too closely upon that point, because, as the Royal Commission has pointed out in the case of sugar, you cannot fix the price of an article like bread without also fixing the price of wheat, regulating wages, controlling exports and imports, and touching everything connected with the manufacture of bread, until ultimately either the Government will be landed in a lunatic asylum, or the people will rise in revolution against their policy. When you come to fix the prices of the necessaries of life you have to contend with insuperable difficulties. It may be easy enough to fix the price of an expensive gold watch or a grand piano, but it is quite different with commodities that everybody must have. Take such a necessary of life as potatoes. Suppose that potatoes are selling at 12s. per cwt. in New Zealand, whilst they are being sold in Victoria for 9s. per cwt. Would the Government forbid the farmer in Victoria from exporting to the 12s. market in order that he might get a better reward for his labour?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I have asked whether the Government would prevent a producer of potatoes from sending his commodities from this country to New Zealand in order to obtain better prices. Take the converse position. Suppose that in Australia the price of potatoes was fixed at 13s., whilst in New Zealand the price was down to 10s. Why should not the consumer in Australia be able to import potatoes from New Zealand at, say, TIS per cwt. ? But if that were done, would it not operate against the price fixed by the
Government in Australia ? These are some of the difficulties that would arise immediately an attempt to fix prices was made. Although the law of supply and demand may not always lead to the most equitable results, it is nevertheless a fact that every other expedient for regulating prices has been found to be utterly defective, and has merely resulted in exaggerating the very evils it was intended to prevent. It must be evident at once, in regard to the necessaries of life which depend on natural production, that whether there shall be plenty or scarcity depends, not upon legislation, but upon a superhuman power. In every country in the world the idea of regulating prices -by legislative means has been abandoned. It has been left for the Government of Australia to revive this exploded device. It is intended, through the cumulative effect of these proposals, to remodel the whole structure of our Constitution. We who are objecting to these wholesale modifications say that they amount to Unification. The other side deny that that is so. My personal opinion is that they amount to something worse than Unification. It is admitted by the AttorneyGeneral that the powers, if granted, may not be used - that, indeed, they may not be needed. Surely the Attorney-General was simply apologizing for this policy when he had to say to this Parliament : “ The powers to which some of you object as too drastic we may never need, and may never use if we get them.” It is an abuse of legislative power to ask for powers for which no necessity is apparent. As far as I know, there is no precedent for a Government asking for powers which it admits itself are not required. In every constitutionally governed country of which I have ever read, before a Government asks a Legislature to pass legislation it is prepared to meet the question : “ What is the defect you intend to cure? What do you need these powers for?” That has been the governing principle in the framing of laws in every civilized land. . But now, for the first time in modern history, we have a Government, through its chief law officer, admitting that it is asking for powers which may never be used nor even needed. It is contended, and, to some extent, rightly, that in some respects our National Parliament under its Constitution is fettered, and that greater freedom should be given to it. May I ask. to what extent are the powers of the National Parliament impeded under the terms of the Constitution? No direct answer has been given to that question, either here or elsewhere. . From the judgments of the High Court it dees :not appear that the legislation which we have passed is defective, or is likely to fail. It” has not yet been stated what powers the Federal Parliament possesses. One power which this Parliament possesses is that of practically unlimited taxation. I do not think that there is a member of Parliament, or any jurist in the Commonwealth of Australia, who can say how far our unlimited power of taxation can be made to extend. In this connexion I am driven to the consideration of the decision of Chief Justice Marshall, in the case of McCulloch v. Maryland, in the United States of America. In that judgment, Chief Justice Marshall was called upon to draw the line between the jurisdictions of the Federal and State Governments, and he made the following remarks : -
The power to tax involves the power to destroy. That the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create are propositions not
AO be denied.
There may be a doubt as to where the power to create on the part of the States ought to be checked, and where our power to destroy what we think is inimical to the National Parliament should be invoked, and on that point the judgment of Chief Justice Marshall is instructive. So long as we possess supreme powers of taxation, there is not any State instrumentality or agency which we cannot control. I think that the reasoning of Chief Justice Marshall in that judgment will in the main be adopted, if there ever is an encroachment upon the jurisdiction of either the Federal or the State Parliaments. A land tax was imposed by the Commonwealth Parliament - I” do not approve of the exercise of that power by the Commonwealth - in order to achieve certain objects which were considered desirable by the party now in power, and which they say they achieved through that power of taxation. Before 1 am going to consent to the drastic amendments in the Constitution which are now proposed, I want to ask when, how, and where those supreme powers of taxation are not regarded as sufficient to achieve, immediately or indirectly, the end which is now aimed at. In that very judgment there was set up, for the first time, a sort of lighthouse for the State and Federal jurisdictions. Chief Justice Marshall further said -
No political dreamer was ever mad enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass.
He was one of the greatest jurists that America, Or the world, has produced. He had to define the jurisdictions of the States and the Federal Government, and he laid down what was a necessary consequence of the unlimited power of taxation, which was conferred by the Constitution upon the Federal Government of the United States of America. After having laid that down, he made the remark that the wildest dreamer would never think of trying to compound the American people into one common mass. Whatever may be the immediate intention of making these amendments in the Constitution, when they are put into operation you will bind the whole of the Australian people into one common mass. It is said that the Australian States will not or do not properly exercise their powers to the advantage of employment, labour, trade, and commerce in Australia; and that in order that the energies and industries of the people may be properly utilized, those powers should be transferred to the National Parliament. I shall give a summary of statistics in relation to trade, commerce, labour, and employment under the State laws to show how those laws have affected these matters. Except for the alteration of the Tariff, commerce, trade, labour, employment, and other agencies have been under the sole control and regulation of the States. I ask, Have the States abused those powers? Have the States kept back the commercial or industrial development of Australia in the light of the statistics which I am going to quote? I further ask, Is there another country on earth that can show a better record than Australia has in this respect? I take the exports and imports as a sort of barometer of the commercial development of the country. In the United Kingdom, in 191 1, the imports were £68o,559,poo, or about £15 per capita. The exports were £557,003,000, or about £12 -per capita. In Canada, the imports were $472,194,000,’ or, roughly, about £12 per capita. The exports were $297,196,000, or £8 per head. The manufactures represented an output of $1,430,000,000, or £53 Per head. In Germany the imports were £447,040,000, or £7 10s. per head; while the exports were £405,090,000, or £6 18s. per head. In Australia, the imports in 1910 were £60,014,351, or £13 6s. 8d. per head; while the exports were .£71)836,195, or £j6 per head. The amount per head of the exports is the highest in the world to-day, and yet it is said that the States have not used their powers, or have misused them. I ask, can anything better be shown under any form of government in ‘the world ? I shall go a little more minutely into the industries qf Canada. The output of the manufactories for 1905 was $706,446,000, or, roughly speaking, £21 per head. There was invested in manufactories in 1911 in Canada, $1,500,000,000, or about £48 per head. The output was $100,000,000,000, or, roughly, £28 per head. It is difficult to place the statistics of different countries on a basis which would enable one to draw accurate conclusions, but I have compiled a set of figures in respect of Australia, the accuracy of which I do not think can be seriously challenged, and which show that Australia in trade, commerce, and industries stands well abreast, and, in some respects, ahead, of the world. The argument of honorable members opposite is that the powers now vested in the State Governments are deficient and that industry is stagnant. In 1901 we had 197,000 employes in our factories. In 1910 the figures rose to 286,000, an increase of 40 per cent, within that period. These figures afford no evidence of stagnation. The number of factories in 1903 was 11,551, and in 1910 13,822, or, roughly, an increase of 45 per cent. There, is no evidence of stagnation here. These figures go to show that Australia is ahead of all the rest of the world. In 1906 the salaries and wages paid to employes in factories in Australia amounted to £13,207,000, or £75.14 per capita. In 1910 the salaries and wages paid to factory employes amounted to £23,874,000, or £87 per capita. I have taken the trouble to search for statistics relating to other countries, and I have failed to find anything like the same record. Honorable members are asking that we shall extend the powers of the Federal authority because the State jurisdiction is insufficient for the purpose of developing trade and the means of employment. These figures are very striking, and are in strong contrast to those relating to other parts of the world. I find that everything is progressing under State legislation.
– That is because the Labour party have come into power.
– The honorable senator might say it is because the sun shines.
– Not very long ago the honorable senator said that capital was being driven out of the Commonwealth.
– I never said so. That- is another of the ingenious tergiversations of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I challenge him to show that I have ever stated that the Labour party were driving capital out of the country.
– What did the honorable Senator say when the progressive land tax was before us?
– I objected to it very strongly. I pointed out - as experience has since shown - that, although the progressive land tax might burst up some of the larger estates, two-thirds or four-fifths of that tax would fall on the backs of the workers. I do not believe in the principle of burning down all the buildings in which pigs are kept in order to obtain a bit of roast pork. It is remarkable that since the Labour party have come into power sovereigns have become more scarce than ever before in the history of Australia. Although I make no particular charge against the Government, I and other members of the party to which I belong have frequently pointed out that, as the Labour party extend their programme, capital will become so alarmed that it will cease to flow into Australia, and we are to-day face to face with facts which are unchallengeable in regard to the tightness of money and the suspicion with which capitalists- view investments. Now returning to the industrial returns, I find that in 1909 our factories had an output of £107,409,000, or £25.13 per head. In 1910 the output had risen to £120,000.000, or £27 6s. 4d. per head. The figures are still increasing in the same ratio. Ninetynine per cent, of the legislation controlling our factories is represented by State laws, and yet we find nothing but vitality, progress, and development in one of the most important departments of our industrial life. Before we are asked to make a large transfer of the power of control from one jurisdiction to another, we are entitled to ask for the soundest of reasons. When we ask for these reasons, we are told that the States do not now use the powers vested in them to the best advantage, but in view of the facts and figures I have quoted, the people of Australia will surely deny the claim of those who are putting forward the present proposals, and will demand better reasons before they consent to any change. Turning to the individual States, I -find that in New South Wales the output of the factories in 1907 represented a value of £37,23I,000, and in 1910 £49,615,000, or an increase of nearly 33& Per cent- during a period of about four years. In “Victoria the output in j 907 was valued at £29,693,000, and in 1910 £36,660,000, or an increase of about 20 per cent. In Queensland the output in j 907 was valued at £11,209,000, and in 1910 at £i5>792)00o, an increase of 33 per cent. The statistics for the rest of Australia are not available, but as the other States are governed by practically the same laws, 1 take it they have made similar progress. Our development in this direction equals, if it does not surpass, that of any country in the world, and, therefore, the argument that the development of commerce, industry, and employment is being unduly hampered either by the defective legislative powers pf : the States or their refusal to utilize their powers is disposed of. The statistics show that there is no reason whatever for making any change. Now let us take another standard. Our Savings Bank returns afford a clear indication of the prosperity and progress of the community. In 1903 the number of depositors in our Savings Banks was 1,053,372, and in 1910 1,600,112. I find that in the United Kingdom the proportion of depositors in Savings Banks was higher than in Australia. This is a somewhat surprising fact, but still it ‘cannot be ignored. In 1903 the deposits in our Savings Banks amounted to £33,910,000, or £8 15s. per capita, whilst in 1911 they had increased to £59>393.-68z> °r £3* °s5d. per head, or an increase of 45 per cent. Surely these figures do not give the slightest indication of stagnation. No other part of the world can show anything like this record, and yet we are asked to take away from the States the powers which have been exercised by them, and transfer them to the National Parliament, because the results of State control have not been satisfactory. I am tempted to refer to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, and to express the belief that the people of Aus- tralia will continue to patronize the State Savings Banks, whose records show satisfactory results, under State jurisdiction, and indicate that the people have the fullest possible faith in them. I believe that the attempt that has been made to bring; about an alteration in existing conditions, and to divert the flow of capital from the State Banks to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, will result in hollow failure. I have some figures in regard to the United Kingdom, but I do not intend to follow that matter any further, because I think I have proved, by evidence strong and irrefutable, that from every point of view there is nothing but a record of sanguine and hopeful success for everybody interested in every development of the nation’s enterprise, and under State jurisdiction. Another reason for the proposed amendments, which is suggested frequently, and which will be suggested again, is that as regards the regulation of the conditions which ought to operate on labour and employment, it is necessary that we should give extended power to some centralized authority acting in and dependent upon Federal jurisdiction. The Federal jurisdiction so far has been exercised under the authority of paragraph xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution. The system of conciliation and arbitration, so far as it has been applied, is essentially impossible. It is said by honorable senators on the other side that it is successful, and that by reason of the success of the jurisdiction of this Parliament, extended power should be granted to it. Compulsory conciliation and arbitration may be a benefit to the worker.
– It is a contradiction in terms.
– Of course, it is I was one of those who hoped that under this system the conditions would be improved, though at no time did I place much, reliance upon the principle of compulsion as applied to conciliation and arbitration. But now it is proposed to extend the principle, and to apply it over the whole continent. If there is any hope for the material improvement of the worker through State Wages Boards it will foe found only in decentralization, and not by centralizing the jurisdiction of existing Conciliation and Arbitration Courts. It is because of the proposed wholesale centralization of each jurisdiction that I oppose the desired grant of power. The highest authorities in the world are against the extension of the State jurisdiction by way of compulsory conciliation and arbitration between the employer and the employe, and it is because of these opinions mainly that I oppose the proposal to extend the power. I shall give briefly some warnings which have been delivered on the point, and I think 1 am entitled to quote some authorities. I have here a short extract from the recommendations of a Royal Commission on Labour, which was appointed by the Imperial Government, and submitted its report in 1894. The question of compulsory conciliation and arbitration came prominently before the Commission, and its finding is given in these terms -
In the case of the larger and more serious disputes arising with regard to the terms of future agreements frequently between large bodies of workmen on the one side and employers on the other, we have had to consider in the first place suggestions for the compulsory reference of such disputes to State or other Boards of arbitration, whose awards should be legally enforceable. No such proposal, however, appeared to us to be definite or practical enough to bear serious examination.
– The workers of Great Britain will not have it.
– No, they threw it aside. In 1894 a Commission was appointed in the United States of America to consider the question, and its report was presented to Congress in the same year. In its finding it says that there was - expressed a belief that a Central Department might do much by advice and assistance to promote the more rapid and unusual establishment of trade and district Boards adapted to circumstances of various kinds.
That Commission, too, would have nothing to do with State interference between employer and employ^ by conciliation or arbitration of a compulsory character, or in any other form.
– The employed there are in favour of the strike all the time.
– Yes. Our contention is that we cannot have strikes on the one hand and conciliation and arbitration on the other. We cannot have both; we must choose between the two. I shall now quote a short finding presented to Congress by Mr. Carroll D. Wright, who was a Commissioner until quite recently in the United States Department of Labour. He gave evidence before the Industrial Commission in 1894, and he conveyed his conclusions to the workers of the United States of America in a pamphlet from which I take this brief extract -
I have no faith in it either from a moral or economic point of view. I have always so expressed myself. It is a doctrine which, so far as I know, finds no approval of organized labour anywhere. While I believe in arbitration as a help, even a solution, it seems To me that compulsory arbitration would be a positive injury.
We were willing to try, and we passed an Act which has strained, and still strains, the limit of our legislative power. And now we are asked on behalf of the worker to amend the Constitution in order to put the whole of the industries of Australia under a. centralized tribunal. Yet we find that the workers of the world are opposed, not merely to the half-way relief which we sought to effect under our Constitution, but to the principle of compulsory State conciliation and arbitration. Before I shall consent to further power being given, I am inclined te put two phases of the matter before the Government. First, I submit that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as it is now administered gives no sufficient satisfaction either to the employer or to the employ^ ; and, second, that to extend our jurisdiction over a continent comprising 3,000,000 square miles, with every diversity of climate, and so on, is to reduce the principle of compulsory conciliation and arbitration to what is, from an economic point of view, worse than a farce - an utter impossibility. We cannot concentrate the settlement of industrial disputes over a vast continent before a centralized tribunal. We are told that in order to get over that difficulty a tribunal with extended powers will travel all over the continent. Either the whole of the industrial disputes in Australia must be taken to the central Arbitration Court, or that Court must go to the scene of the disputes. The very statement of the position from that point of view - and it is not overdrawn - shows that one of two things must happen. One Judge could not deal with all the disputes ; ten Judges could not do the work. It will be necessary to have subordinate Departments if the proposed amendment is accepted and legislation is founded thereon. An army of officials will have to go over the continent, or the parties to industrial disputes will have to come to them, and there will be the same conflict, the same indecision, the same difficulty amongst this small army of subordinate officials as prevails, possibly, now. Then for the harmonizing of those difficulties and conflicting decisions, it will be necessary to fall back upon a Mr. Justice Higgins or a Mr. Justice Brown, or a Mr. Justice Robinson, or on the three of them. There is no precedent in economic or other history for such a proposal as w.e are asked to sanction. It has been pointed out in support of the proposal that the people of Australia ought to be operating’, so far as employment and labour are concerned, under a uniform law. A common expression for the operation of that uniform law is the “common rule”; there can be no alternative. An effective common rule is unjust to a certain class of workers. It is unjust to the efficient worker as against the inefficient worker ; that is the radical defect in most Acts of Parliament. Apart from efficiency or inefficiency, there is a natural difficulty. It is unfair to ask a. man to face the difficulty of developing the Northern Territory or the northern portions of Western Australia or Queensland, and to accept the same wages for that employment as are paid in Melbourne and Sydney. If my honorable friends opposite admit the principle under the common rule that a differentiation should exist the question naturally arises of who is going to determine where and how far the differentiation should go. From the moment they begin to consider that question they get back at once to the common-sense answer that the best tribunal to determine the question is that which is created as close as possible to the locality, and it is because the Wages Boards in the States are founded mainly on that principle that whatever success has followed State interference between employer and employe’s that the system has been a success. The defect in the case of the -Conciliation and Arbitration Court is that it cannot take that differentiation into proper account. In conciliation and arbitration, as well as in other kinds of legislation devised by the States, most of their enactments are the refuge of the inefficient, and not an encouragement to the efficient. The American worker will have none of this system, because he knows that combines and large employers are looking all the time for efficiency, and employes who go into big enterprises are desirous of becoming efficient in various departments. The result is that we find a higher efficiency from the point of view of industry and a higher reward for labour. Our system of State Wages Boards is a compromise between two principles. The principle of com- pulsory conciliation and arbitration is only an aggravation of the difficulty. The workmen of America will not have compulsory conciliation and arbitration. Our workers are still seeking to find a solution of the difficulty of dealing with differences between employers and employes, and, so far as we can gather from the press and the statements made by representatives of the unions, they are inclined to favour State Wages Boards as against compulsory conciliation and arbitration. It is said that the Liberal party have offered no solution of the difficulty. Our policy, so far as it has been indicated to the public, has been in this direction : We say that it is possible that, along certain lines, success may be achieved. So far as our policy in the matter can be put in definite language, we say, “ If there is a necessity for relief, seek it not through Mr. Justice Higgins, Mr. Justice Brown, or Mr. Justice Robinson, by means of compulsory conciliation and arbitration, but through the great principle of the establishment of State Wages Boards and State Arbitration Courts.”
– We do not seek to lead people into blind alleys.
– Certainly not. There is very little consolation for the man who finds himself in the ditch in the dark when you assure him that you had towards him the most beneficent intention,, that you did not intend any such fate should befall him, but rather that he should be conducted to a warm inn and every comfort. We say that the people concerned should seek relief, not by hampering State jurisdiction, but by allowing it to operate as freely and as extensively as possible through State Wages Boards; and, if there be injustices in connexion with the conduct of industry which may not be possible of remedy in that way, we are willing to consider an amendment of the Constitution to permit of appeals from State Wages Boards to an Inter-State Commission, or some other Federal tribunal. The Government, however, propose that this Parliament should interfere radically and drastically with the whole of the industries of Australia by a system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration. That system has already failed in Australia. It is not viewed favorably by a large number of unionists, and is absolutely disapproved by the nonunionists of the Commonwealth, whilst, root, stem, and branch, it is condemned by the workers of the outside world. Only last year a congress of trade unions was held in England, and at that congress a proposal in favour of compulsory Conciliation Boards was turned down. It was turned down also in 1904, and we know that the workers will not hear of it in America. We are, in the circumstances, entitled to say to the workers and people of Australia that they should pause before permitting drastic amendments to be made in the Constitution for any such purpose, since the workers, not only of Australia, but of other countries, are utterly opposed to your Mr. Justice Higginses, or any one else, interfering compulsorily between them and their employers. I know that it may be said that, as a result of this advice, we may possibly have to face strikes.
– There have been plenty lately.
– They are going on all the time, and it is only a pretence to say that they are not. I say that the line of action suggested by the Liberal party is safe and cautious, and will permit us to retrace our steps if we find that mistakes have been made. It will permit us to develop our legislation under an amendment of the Constitution to meet industrial difficulties as they arise. It proposes no blind leap in the dark over a broad chasm, but that we should proceed, as all true Liberalism always must, slowly along well tested paths. The Minister of Defence said, in effect, that, boiled down, all the objections to the proposed amendments of the Constitution resolved themselves into this : “ Do not concede them because a Labour Government asks for them.” I do not object to the granting of these powers to the Federal Parliament because a Labour or Socialistic Government is in power, but I do object to this particular Government asking for these extensions of power, and I warn the people of Australia against granting them to this Government, because of the attitude which the Prime Minister, representing the Government, took up with regard to the syndicalistic strike im Queensland. If every other objection urged from this side to the adoption of these proposals were found to be untenable, I should still justify my resistance to the grant of these powers to the present Government because of their attitude in connexion with that strike. They wish to concentrate supreme power over trade, commerce, and industries in Aus tralia, so that, by legislation, they may be in a position to deal with them as they choose. I view these proposals with alarm when they are made by a Government whose Prime Minister justified and indorsed a syndicalistic strike. In the circumstances, I say that the answer to the request of this Government for such extended powers should bc an emphatic “ No.” The people might very well say that, although in the future it may be found advisable to extend the powers of the Federal Parliament, the present Government cannot be intrusted with the operation of these extended powers, because of their attitude in justifying and indorsing that strike.
– And subscribing to the funds of the strikers.
– I shall make no reference to that. If I saw a fellow in distress, I should be disposed to assist him even though I knew he had done wrong.
– The honorable senator would not try to fan the flames of the strike from Brisbane to Bundaberg.
– The honorable senator reminds me that the Prime Minister went through the richest parts of Queensland, everywhere indorsing and justifying that syndicalistic- strike. He was accompanied on the occasion by his colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I know that at Rockhampton Senator McGregor, from one platform, was thundering in favour of the strike, whilst I was thundering, from a platform close by, against it. The Prime Minister and the Vice-President of the Executive Council were asking, not for conciliation and arbitration, and a means towards the peaceful .settlement of disputes, which we are all desirous of obtaining, but were speaking in justification of that great strike. In the circumstances, we are entitled to ask whether the present Government are seeking these extended powers that they may be able to give support to a syndicalistic strike all over Australia.
– To foment rebellion.
– Yes; to foment rebellion. There was a terrible position and a terrible dilemma created in Queensland, but I may say that the Liberal Government of the State took up the gauntlet that was thrown down to them, and were returned with a party that was never more united, or in a greater majority.
It has been said that the Prime Minister never justified the Brisbane strike. I do not believe that the right honorable gentleman will himself make that defence or apology. He has been unmistakably reported in the newspapers as having done so. When he visited Rockhampton, and addressed a large audience there, there were two reporters present, one representing the organ supporting the Labour party, and the other the newspaper which was on our side. The Prime Minister was asked a direct question by an elector, and his answer before that large audience was -
Make no mistake ; that strike was amply justified.
Those were the right honorable gentleman’s words. They appeared in both of the newspapers to which I have referred. When we find such a statement made by the head of the Government that is asking the people for these extended industrial powers, we are entitled to ask, “ What guarantee will you give that if we concede these powers you will not indorse and justify a syndicalistic strike again?” Almost every one of the right honorable gentleman’s colleagues supported him in the matter. The members of the State Labour party in Queensland also justified and indorsed the strike. The Prime Minister and his colleague, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, went up to Queensland and assisted every State Labour candidate who had assisted to engineer or who had even indorsed that strike. We are bound to .see that the powers which remain with the State Parliaments shall be preserved to them to the utmost limit. The State railways are at present under the supreme and unfettered control of the State Parliaments. We know that these syndicalistic strikers in Brisbane tore to pieces the agreement registered in the Federal Arbitration Court, and, going further, dragged out the servants of the Commissioner of Railways in that State. They paralyzed the trade of the State, and prevented people from getting their supplies by land or by sea. Yet, in view of these facts, we are asked to take away the jurisdiction of the States in these matters. For what purpose? Is it in order that the Prime Minister may go up to Queensland, and, on behalf of the National Parliament, justify interference with the agencies of the State? It is said that if we give these extended powers to the Federal Parliament the States will not lose by it, but we know that the Prime Minister and his supporters in Queensland justified an interference with a State agency which is of the greatest importance in the settlement and development of the country. In face of that example, I am not going to ask the people of my State to give greater power to the Federal Government. I am going to ask them why they should give greater power to this Government, when the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth indorsed a strike which was intended to cripple, harass, and almost destroy the existing agencies of a State. It will be said that my speech is that of a rabid, inconvertible Tory, and that I am utterly opposed to the expansion of the powers of the National Parliament. I have heard that kind of thing before, and I dare say I shall hear it again. It does not affect, me. I am no opponent of any expansion of constitutional powers which will enable the National Parliament to do that work which the people intend it to do. In the: light of experience, we may regard it as a safe maxim that the people should not be wholly governed by the hand of the dead,, but it is a sounder and wiser maxim that an infant Constitution should not be strangled, almost at its birth, by the ruthless hands of the living.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia> [9.13]. - The speech of the honorable sena*tor who has just resumed his seat may be described as having been delivered mainly with an eye upon the electors of Queensland. If I were not in danger of transgressing the rules of the Senate, I would move that Senator St. Ledger is quite a fit and proper person to represent the Fusion fizgigs of his State; but seeing that we are engaged on more serious work, I have decided not to transgress. The debate has roamed over a very wide area, and I suppose that it would be impossible at this stage to bring forward anything new. The field has been ploughed, harrowed, and’ scarified in all directions; and very industrious efforts would be required to find a single patch which has not been touchedmore or less by those who have preceded me. I therefore feel somewhat handicapped in approaching the subject. I amafraid that before the electors have pronounced on the subject the discussion will have fallen far below the level at which it should have been maintained. Already wehave plenty of indications on all sides that the main issue will be lost sight of, and? that the electors, instead of being treated to a sane, rational, fair exposition of the subject, will be asked to vote upon extraneous issues, and will have their minds as far as possible dragged away from the main point. The pity is that such a weighty issue promises to be enveloped in the mists of circumstances wholly foreign to its nature and harmful to its consideration. Instead of appeals being made to the sane and sober judgment of the people, they will, in many instances, be made to prejudice. Poisoning the mind of the public is a chief feature of Fusion warfare. I deplore that fact. Amongst the matters that have been introduced which are quite foreign to the subject is the old bogy of Unification. As one who has been in the ranks of Labour since the beginning, I know that much time has to be devoted to rooting out of the public mind false notions concerning the aims of that party. The air has resounded with this false .and bogus cry.
As one who has for some time been in the firing line of politics, I have had it brought home to me that, instead of our opponents representing our policy in a fair and square way, much of their time is consumed in striving to circulate misrepresentations so as to prevent a fair and honest discussion of the merits of our proposals. What is the truth ? Unification is not, and never was, intended by our party. But the cry has been brought forward again, as it was in 1910. We have the old stuffed lion brought out once more, and we recognise the candle and turnip that have clone duty so often. Two years ago the country was covered with literature that had for its object the misleading of the people. It was said that the Labour party meant Unification, and nothing else.
– Does not the honorable senator believe in Unification?
– No; I have never believed in it. Since the honorable senator has mentioned the subject, it is just as well that I should show what the Labour party’s attitude is, as defined by the highest of its councils, namely, the Congress held at Hobart last year. The subject was discussed, and the report records what took place in this way -
The motion of the previous day - “ Unification of the Australian States with provision for local governing bodies” - was called on.
Mr. Watson moved that Conference go into Committee to consider the motion, and also questions of constitutional amendments.
The motion was agreed to, and after a lengthy discussion in Committee Mr. Watson formally reported to Conference that in Committee the resolution for Unification had been defeated by nineteen votes to six. The decision arrived at was recorded in the minutes.
In the face of that authoritative statement, it is mere idle, childish rubbish for any honorable senator to say that we are in favour of Unification.
– The report shows that some members of the party were.
– That is an indication of the freedom which the members of our party enjoy in the expression of their views. But the question was dealt with by the party, as a party, in the manner I have described. We may, therefore, put aside the Unification bogy as unworthy of further consideration. In regard to the efforts made to defeat our referenda proposals on the last occasion, it is worth while to put on record the fact that the Labour party had to depend entirely on its own resources and its platform work. Our cash resources were pretty slender, and the sources from which that cash was drawn were on every occasion open to inspection. Not a penny was spent by the Labour party that was not keenly scrutinized. Every penny was accounted for, and the accounts were printed. How does that record contrast with the efforts of those opposed to us? The chairman of that huge monopoly, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, refused to say, when examined before the Royal Commission, that his company had not contributed £50,000 to the party fund of our opponents. Since that statement may be disputed, it is well to put on record exactly what Mr. Knox said. He was examined as follows : -
By Mr. Hinchcliffe.- Did the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited contribute money out of its undistributed profits or out of any other fund belonging to the company, to support the opposition to the proposed law to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Commonwealth relating to monopolies, which proposed law was submitted to the electors on* 26th April, 191 1? - You ask did we contribute anything ?
Yes; did you contribute anything? - That is a matter I am not prepared to give you any information on. We have not done anything in that matter or in connexion with anything else, or relating to the business of the company, which is not strictly legal.
You do not deny such a contribution was made? - I do not say anything about it one way or another. You have no right to ask thequestion.
– We have a right to ask the question, but no right to compel an answer.
By Mr. Hinchcliffe. - I thought I was giving the company an opportunity to repudiate it - When you began about Mr. Parker Moloney, I thought you were going to suggest if we had paid the .£50,000 that is where it has gone. I do not say it would not have gone with a very good object. But we did not make that contribution.
You did not make the contribution? - I do not “say we did not make the contribution ; we did not make that contribution.
The amount might be more or less. Around this transaction is an amazing mass of secrecy. The chairman of directors of the company refused to deny the statement made, and the electors of Australia can put their own construction upon his lack of frankness. With regard to our own party, it is quite plain that every penny of our funds is accounted for. The accounts of our associations are scrutinized both in the State and the Federal arena, so that any money expended by us cannot come from a secret source in the same manner as money goes to the funds of members of the party opposite. A lady in Victoria testified to the enormous stream of gold that was poured in to resist the extension of the power of the Commonwealth Parliament. The following is an extract from the Labour Call -
After the last referenda, Mrs. Berry, of the Women’s National League, stated that £50,000 -was spent on defeating the referenda, and just before the last Victorian State elections the official organ of the Women’s National League said : - “ The Socialistic party, if it were returned in a majority at the coming State elections, could bring into operation all that it had asked the people to allow it to do at the late referenda, and the £50,000 which had been spent in defeating them lately, was the best money ever spent, so far.”
So that while Mr. Knox would not give a straight-out reply to the question put by Mr. Hinchcliffe/ Mrs. Berry states frankly and unreservedly that, in Victoria, £50,000 was used to oppose the proposals at the last Federal referenda. I mention this to show the different methods pursued by the two parties in the field.
The Labour party, with no press worth mentioning at their backs, and very slender resources, are taking the field on’ this occasion just because we do not desire to desert a principle that we hold so dear, and against us is arrayed a powerful Opposition that has the whole of the press with it, with an odd -exception here and there, and that has the -command of unlimited cash at its back to use in a referenda campaign. Senator Shannon and members of another Chamber have been asking what right the Labour party have to push on these proposals for the extension of the powers of the Federal Parliament in face of the overwhelming vote that was given against the proposals two years ago. I believe human credulity has its limits, and that it was reached on that occasion. There is no special prohibition against doing what we think is right. I can remember when the party opposite mixed oil and water in the politics” of this country, when there was a fusion of men who were at opposite poles on many issues, but who found a sudden fraternal feeling for each other, and went into each other’s unholy embrace. They had nine short months of office, and when the electors were appealed to, they did not return a sufficient number of members of the party to this Chamber to form a corporal’s guard.
In view of the necessity on that occasion for an appeal to the electors, and in view of the fact that the electors sent many of the members of the Fusion party about their business, there is ample justification for us to appeal to the electors again, seeing that on the last occasion we had a strong vote, and that we believe an extension of the powers of the Federal Parliament is absolutely necessary in order 40 safeguard the material welfare of the people of this country.
– After your victory, the people turned round, and knocked you out by 250,000 votes.
– I remember when we had even a greater majority against us in this country, but see where we are to-day. There was a time in the political history of this country when the Labour party were in a large minority, and did not even exist in some of the States; but where are we to-day? We are on the rising tide. We are still ascending. The great merits of the policy which we are in charge of fortify us in fighting great odds, believing that we shall retain our present popular position in the eyes of the electors of the Commonwealth.
Some honorable senators would seek to put a halo around the Constitution. I am one of those who have no particular respect even for a Constitution if it does not serve the purpose for which it was created. I believe the Constitution to be an instrument of government which is made for the people. The people are not made for the Constitution. Those who drafted .that Constitution were so wise in their generation that they made it easy of amendment. They recognised that in the future development of the country circumstances might arise which would cause the succeeding generation to regard the Constitution of ten or twenty years ago as insufficient for their purposes, and they wisely provided an easy means of amendment. That easy means of amendment w.e are now seeking to put into operation. I am fully aware that in seeking for an extension of the powers of the National Parliament we are handicapped to a slight extent, because we have to-day a force in our public life, the influence of which it is very hard to gauge.
We have two definite sets of opinion arising from different sources. We can trace those two forces back to the days of pre-Federation. There was at that time a purely parochial opinion, and side by side with that was a wider and truly Australian opinion. Those two sets of opinion still survive, and though the parochial opinion no longer exists in its old form - that is, in holding its hand strongly and obstinately against its neighbouring State - it still believes that each State should be a separate entity. That opinion has merged into a larger body of public opinion that will be launched against us in the coming campaign. Then we have a body of opinion that is very jealous of the powers of the States. We have in our system of government in Australia two areas of jurisdiction, Federal and State. The Federal area of jurisdiction I might compare with the sun, annually revolving on its own axis, and then you have the six smaller States revolving in their respective spheres. They are not supposed to clash at any point, but when they do clash a reference is made to the umpire, the High Court. Reverting to the parochial opinion, let me say that those who would not have Federation at any price, who believed that the six States should continue as they had been from the date of their establishment, will be assisted on this occasion by the jealous State Rights opinion, which has come into play since Federation has been accomplished. Those who support these proposals therefore have no small odds against them, but I feel sure that when the electors are appealed to they will recognise that, owing to the exigencies of the moment, owing to the vast changes that have taken place since the establishment of Federation, it is idle to continue to live under a Constitution which might have been suitable in past days, but which is certainly not suitable for the needs of the present day.
If my opinion is asked as to the working of a Constitution, or the results that can be obtained from any system of government, let me say that I do not care for having any other test than that of securing the highest standard of living for the people and improving their well-being, and if the system under which we are living to-day does not minister to those ends, it is wanting. If the Constitution under which we are living cripples us in any particular direction, prevents us from exercising powers which will secure to us the maximum measure of well-being, then the Constitution wants amending or ending. I do not propose that we should end it.
I propose that we should amend it, and if we look around us, and take into consideration what is happening, we cannot be blind to the fact that the Federal Constitution and State Constitutions are totally inadequate for the purpose of coping with the evils that exist in our midst. Where is the Constitution derived from in its first and most important particular ? Much of it is taken .word for word from the Constitution that was framed in the United States of America 125 years ago. That Constitution was framed to suit thirteen colonies on the American continent, and at that time intense jealousy prevailed amongst those colonies. The result was that the Constitution was framed to reconcile the differences of the States on one hand, and with a view to the establishment of a National Government on the other. As regards the power of the Commonwealth over trade and commerce, we find that the provision has been taken word for word from a Constitution that was framed by people living 125 years ago.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - And the people of that country are still living under the same Constitution.
– They want to alter it badly, but they know how impossible it is for them to do so. There is a vast number of people in America to-day who would alter that Constitution if the opportunity that we have were afforded them. I object to .our Commonwealth being any longer dominated by. the dead hand of over 100 years ago. I have great respect for those who have gone before us. They taught many a philosophical lesson for the benefit of mankind, but in the matter of useful legislation for the present-day needs of our population we should have no more respect for what was done in the misty past than for what was done only a few years ago. We should be extremely foolish if we did not fashion our Constitution to suit our own needs. Senator St. Ledger had something to say about the Canadian and German Constitutions. He said that the powers now sought exceeded those enjoyed by the central authorities in Canada and Germany. I have taken the trouble to look up the Constitutions of those countries, and to ascertain the provisions in regard to trade and commerce. In the case of Canada, I find that the Central Government has exclusive powers with regard to the regulation of trade and commerce, and yet Canada has not a unified form of government. Furthermore, the central authority has more extensive powers than are possessed by the Commonwealth Government, and more than are now sought. It has control over the Savings Banks - as we propose here - and also power to regulate and control the Indians within the Dominion, and all the lands reserved for the Indians. Furthermore, it has full control over penitentiaries. I might mention a number of other powers in excess of those for which the Government are now asking.
Under the German Constitution it is provided that, within the Federal territories, the Imperial Parliament shall exercise the right of legislation in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and the laws of the Empire shall take precedence over the laws of the State. Among the exclusive legislative powers conferred on the Central Government are those relating to taxation and commerce. Exclusive power over trade and industry is also given. I would particularly emphasize the fact that the Central Government has control over -industry because that is what we are now asking for. There is not a unified form of government in Germany, and no cry of Unification was set up in Canada or Germany when the powers to which I have referred were granted. The Central Government in Germany has control over railways, and, subject in Bavaria to Article 46, over the construction of land and water-ways for the general purposes of defence and commerce. These powers are far wider than any powers that have been thought of or dreamed of by the Labour party. Therefore the statement made by Senator St. Ledger is not borne out by the facts.
Senator Millen, in addition to the other equally invalid arguments he used against these proposals, said that the Government were flying in the face of the history of the British race. This is a very old friend. It is one of those bogies which will be brought forward every day. during the forthcoming campaign. No doubt we shall also have the other bogey - Home Rule - brought forward. Let me say, once and for all, that there is no connexion whatever between the question of Home Rule and the additional powers that are being sought by the Federal authorities. To compare the powers of the Central Government of the British Empire with those of the Commonwealth Government of today, or with those which would be possessed by the Commonwealth Government if the present proposals were carried into effect, would be to compare like with unlike. On this question I need only quote some words which recently fell from the British Prime Minister. On nth April Mr. Asquith said -
Let the House consider for a moment the extent and variety of the field over which we insist upon exercising daily and exclusive supervision. Look on the question paper of this House on a Monday or Thursday in any week you care to select. What does it include, or rather, what does it not include? Delay in the Postal service of some hamlet in Connemara. A dispute about trawling in the Moray Firth. A discussion perhaps about some poaching case by a rural Bench in Wales. A case of deportation in South Africa. The position of the Mohammedan community in the Presidency of Bengal The efficiency or inefficiency of the rifle that was served out to the Territorial Forces. The seaworthiness of the latest Dreadnought ; and perhaps the International relations between Great Britain and Germany. This is only a sample.
Now, I ask this question : Has any deliberative assembly in the history of the world ever taken upon itself such a grotesquely impossible task?
It will thus be seen that there is no excuse for talking about Home Rule in connexion with the proposals now under consideration. The powers enjoyed by the Imperial Parliament do not bear the slightest resemblance to those exercised by the Commonwealth Parliament, and there will be no analogy between the two cases for the next 100 years. During the last fifty years Great Britain has been adding possession after possession to her dominions, and naturally the work of the Imperial
Parliament has been greatly increased. It exercises control over 300,000,000 of people, and has to deal with all matters relating to even the remotest parts of the Empire. The suggestion that the congestion of business in the Commonwealth Parliament will approach that of the British Parliament will not bear even the most casual examination? The devolution of power has been practically forced upon the Imperial Parliament, which now finds itself unable to effectively discharge its everincreasing duties.
Turning to our present position, it is claimed that we have adequate powers to-day. This Parliament has been working under a Constitution which has formed a kind of shield or shelter for the people, and under this Constitution endeavours have been made to pass Acts which would secure the greatest amount of advantage for our citizens. What do we find ? No less than six Acts which have been passed in perfect good faith have been declared null and void, because of their failure to comply with the terms of the Constitution. The Labour Government were not in power when these measures were passed, and they were not responsible for them. Other parties, including that to which members of the Opposition belong, must have thought that, in bringing forward these measures, they were acting within the limits of the Constitution, or they were merely fooling the people. I give my honorable friends the benefit of the alternative; but I would point out that if they believed they were justified in bringing forward these measures, they are not showing high statesmanship in refusing .to extend the powers under the Constitution which have been shown to be defective, but are taking the downward path of political advantage and party intrigue in order to circumvent the only true Australian party.
The first of the Acts referred to was the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which has been the subject of several onslaughts, and which has been rendered absolutely unworkable owing to three or four of its vital provisions having been declared ultra vires. Then there was the Excise Tariff Bill, which was introduced by the Deakin Government with the object of protecting the three sections of the community - manufacturers, employes, and consumers - concerned in the imposition of Customs and Excise duties. They said they desired to hold the scales fairly for all parties concerned. When that Act came to be pronounced upon by the High Court, it was declared ultra vires, and so is no longer the law of the land. We now seek power to legislate in that direction. When the Trade Marks Act - an Act which was designed to wisely differentiate between goods made under fair and reasonable conditions and goods not so made - came to be dealt with by the High Court, it, too, was declared ultra vires.
– The union label is not a trade mark.
– Happily there was a division of opinion on that subject in the High Court, and one which is worthy of being taken notice of. The Australian Industries Preservation Act was passed by this Parliament to defend the people from the encroachment and rapacity of trusts and combines; and when it was taken before the High Court it, of course, was declared ultra vires. The party to which Senator Vardon belongs imagined that this Parliament had power to pass the Seamen’s Compensation Act ; but when it came before the High Court it shared the fate of other measures, with the result that to-day we have six Acts high and dry on the bar of unconstitutionality, no longer of use to the people, although the Parliament of- this country passed them, and other parties were in power when they were passed. Yet the members of those parties urge the strongest opposition to our obtaining additional powers, notwithstanding the fact that when they were in office they sought to pass the six measures I have cited.
The allegation has been made here that our effort to amend the Constitution in certain respects is a purely party matter. According to my conception of the duty and position of the Labour party, it is a party matter, and we do not wish to deceive the public in the least in that regard. With respect to our honorable friends opposite, whatever they may say, or think, or ask the people to believe, it can be recalled that when certain members of their party wanted to assert their independence they were instantly called to heel and made to renounce their opinions, and now we find that party standing as a kind of dead wall against our proposals. While our party frankly acknowledges, and wishes to tell the electors, that with, us this is nothing but a party question, honorable senators opposite will want the people to believe that it is not a party question, although they have silenced some of their principal members and made them eat their own words.
As regards the warrant that exists for taking some of the powers which are included in our proposals, let me quote a statement which was made by Mr. Watt at the Inter-State Conference held at Melbourne in January last -
I did not hesitate to say during the referendum campaign that if some of those propositions were standing by themselves I would advise the Victorian electors to vote “ yes.”
In regard to the appearance of monopolies in Australia, Mr. Watt said -
At the present time, and I am not speaking as an alarmist, but as an ordinary student of events, I can see the roots of monopoly gradually working their way into our soil in Australia.
I wonder how he will treat these referenda proposals. Will he be found in the position of some prominent members of the party sitting on your left hand, sir, who have gone back on their words and professions of two years ago? Will he be made to swallow the opinions which he solemnly expressed in January last - to stifle the conviction in his breast, and act and vote in deliberate opposition to what he expressed and professed only two years ago? He continues -
I would give to the Commonwealth power to regulate or nationalize it (a monopoly). I speak as an anti-nationalist. When once the judicial examination is complete, and a verdict is given, the Commonwealth should have the power to do what it thinks best in the interests of the nation.
– As laid down in their proposed Bill.
– Which Senator Lynch will find at the beginning of the report he holds in his hand.
– That is so. The State Premiers proposed to give powers to this Parliament, but they made, to my mind, the very undemocratic proposition of getting the High Court to declare, behind the back of this Parliament, what a monopoly should be. The State Premiers propose to place it in the power of the High Court to interpret the feelings and the wishes of the people on this allimportant question. What the State Parliaments desire is to substitute the High Court for this Parliament. I contend that there is only one institution which should have the custody of the people’s welfare, and the exclusive right of pronouncing upon what they are in need of, and that is this National Parliament. But, instead of that, we find that the State Parliaments desire that the High Court should usurp the function of this Parliament, and declare what a monopoly is before the people of the Commonwealth can move hand or foot in the matter. That is not the attitude of the Labour party. We propose to get power for the Parliament to act after the electors are duly consulted. Concerning the new Protection, Mr. Watt said -
If we attack this set of problems, four in number, in the proper spirit, we will achieve most of what our Parliaments and our people expect us to do. With regard to new Protection, I may say that I am a Protectionist, and a new Protectionist, to a certain -extent. I believe that the Commonwealth does well to impose duties that encourage manufactures. In the past I have seen large protective duties lead to flourishing industries, and the manufacturers getting the largest benefit from them. It was not long before I was convinced that it was a fair thing that the advantage should be shared by the co-operators in the industry. I go that far in connexion with new Protection, and that is what it means to the bulk of the liberal thinkers in Victoria.
Here we find Mr. Watt declaring himself unequivocally on the subject of new Protection. He said that, as one who believed in new Protection, it ought to be passed. I wonder if he will go on the platform and urge the adoption of at least two of these proposals.
Touching the proposal- to enlarge the “trade and commerce” power, 1 wish to direct attention to what is happening to-day in the Commonwealth. If we go to Sydney to see how some of the big warehouses carry on their trade, we find that Anthony Hordern and Sons have their hoardings placarded with a map of Australia showing no State boundaries at all. This firm of universal providers send their stuff throughout the Commonwealth. No State boundaries bar their operations. Only one thing stops the area over which they trade, and that is the boundary of the Commonwealth itself. Again, in Queensland, Finney, Isles, and Company, another very large firm, display in their window a map of Australia, on which they advertise that they send wares and merchandise over the broad areas of the Continent. There are no artificial barriers to the conduct of the business of these two firms. No doubt honorable senators can call to mind other* firms which do the same thing. We find that in Melbourne the harvester manufacturers and implement suppliers have not the State of Victoria alone as a theatre for their operations, but trade far and wide, recognising no State barriers. So far as commerce is concerned to-day, its only limits are those which divide the land and the water, that is to say, the boundaries of the Commonwealth itself. Seeing that commerce has so overspread the Commonwealth, is it not only reasonable and logical to ask that the power to regulate that Commerce should be coterminous with its operations ?
– It is the natural corollary to Inter- State Free Trade.
– I should think so. Up to the present time, we have had six independent authorities working within the area of their respective jurisdictions, and all to the disadvantage of those who carry on commerce, and those who are benefited thereby. It is unnecessary for me to remind honorable senators that we are still wedded to a power which was created over 125 years ago, and embodied in our Constitution. When it was originally framed, trade and commerce was vastly different from what it is to-day. At that time thirteen independent colonies formed what was then known as the young American nation. Those who are acquainted with the origin of the trade and commerce power know that those colonies were most jealous of the power of each other - indeed, so jealous were they that they intended to raise Tariff barriers against each other. Trade and commerce within the areas of the thirteen colonies was small and circumscribed, and entirely different from what it is to-day in Australia.
– There were no railways then.
– Exactly. Seeing that the times have so entirely changed, will it not be foolish not to also change’ our political systems? There has grown up a mighty ever-spreading net-work of trade in the Commonwealth, and it is the acme of foolishness, bad management, and want of economy to apply worn-out constitutional methods that served their purpose very well in former days, but do not suit the different circumstances of to-day. It will take me some time yet, sir, to deal with several matters which I desire to discuss. Therefore, I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted; debateadjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with the message that the House had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate to the amendments of the House, except the amendment No. 128, to which it had agreed with an amendment, and that it had agreed to the consequential amendments made by the Senate.
Standing Orders suspended, and message taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee :
Clause 287 (Licensing of foreign ships to engage in coasting trade).
Senate’s Amendment. - Add to sub-clause 3 the following paragraph : - ” (c) That in every ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade where a library is provided for the use of passengers, members of the crew shall be entitled to obtain books therefrom under the same conditions as may regulate the issue of such books to the passengers.
Penalty (on owner) : Ten pounds.”
House of Representatives’ Amendment of Amendment of Senate. - Leave out the words “ members of the crew shall “ and insert in lieu thereof the words “ every seaman and apprentice shall where no library for their special use is provided.”
– I move -
That the Committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives upon the Senate’s amendment.
The effect of the amendment made by the House of Representatives would be that where a library is provided for the crew the members of the crew would not be entitled to obtain books from the ordinary library provided for the use of passengers. I trust that the Committee will accept the amendment.
. -Ifind it difficult to decide what will really be the effect of the amendment which the House of Representatives has made upon our amendment. It may afford an opportunity to ship-owners to provide a. dozen yellow-back novels, which would be of no use whatever to seamen, and then claim that they had provided a library for the use of the crew. If the House of Representatives’ amendment is to be accepted, some provision should be made to determine the class of library which shall be provided for the crew.
– We do not prescribe the kind of library to be provided for passengers.
– That is true, but it is reasonable to suppose that a much better library would be provided for passengers than is likely to be provided for the crew. It appears to me to be quite clear that under the amendment of the House of Representatives the ship-owners would be at liberty to provide a few secondhand books for the use of the crew, and then claim that they had complied with the provision inserted by the Senate. We should, I think, insist that where a library is provided for the crew, it shall consist of books that will be interesting, instructive, and, if honorable senators please, edifying. I wish to see a library worthy of the name provided for the use of seamen, where the ordinary passengers’ library is not open to them. I move -
That the House of Representatives’ amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ library “ the words “ as may be prescribed.”
– I ask Senator Lynch not to press his amendment. We are very anxious to expedite the passage of this Bill. If the honorable senator’s amendment be agreed to, it will involve another exchange of messages between the two Houses, and I cannot give any guarantee that the Minister of Trade and Customs would recommend another place to accept the amendment. I would ask the honorable senator to consider whether, in view of the valuable principles’ contained in this Bill, it is desirable, for the sake of pressing his amendment, to further delay its passage. We are very anxious that the Bill shall be sent to the GovernorGeneral as soon as possible, in order that the Royal assent to it may be obtained. The honorable senator will recognise that some delay will probably take place before the Royal assent is received to the Bill. If the measure has to be sent to Great Britain for the purpose, as I anticipate will be the case, it is very desirable that it should be forwarded as soon as possible. There are some practical difficulties in the way of carrying out what the honorable senator suggests. I am not satisfied that he will effect anything by his amendment. If it is to be the Minister who is to prescribe the kind of library to be provided for seamen, is it intended that he should mention the class of books, the names and values of the books to be provided, and say how they are to be kept? I invite Senator Lynch to imagine the kind of books which Senator St. Ledger would probably prescribe if it ever were the misfortune of this country that that honorable senator should occupy the position of the Minister administering this measure. lt is almost certain that it will be found necessay in a future session to introduce some amendments in a Bill of this character, and, if necessary, this provision might then be amended in the direction suggested by the honorable senator. In the meantime, I ask the honorable senator to give the provision, as amended by the House of Representatives, a trial, especially in view of the desirability of expediting the final passage of the Bill.
– I was waiting to see if Senator Lynch was disposed to withdraw his amendment. As he has not done so, I wish to say that I am quite prepared to support him. If there is one feature of the legislation of this Parliament that is objectionable, it is that matters are left to be finished at the close of the session, when they are rushed through, and the Senate is then always asked to give way. It is suggested that the Bill must be sent across the water, and it is possible that it may not then receive the Royal assent. In the circumstances I do not see that a delay of a day or two in the passing of the measure would make any difference.
– The Royal assent to the Bill will not be refused.
– I understand that the Royal assent was refused to a Navigation Bill passed by the New Zealand Parliament. The reason given by the Minister for resisting the amendment submitted by Senator Lynch is that it is very desirable, to finish the business, but this is the business for which we are here, and we should finish it. in the way which honorable senators think desirable. I was not here when the provision amended by the House of Representatives was inserted in the Bill, but I take it that it received full consideration from the Committee before it was accepted. The amendment made by the House of Representatives would leave it in the power of ship-owners to practically defeat the intention of honorable senators in inserting this provision by providing for the use of seamen a few books which would be of no use to them. I am not sure that, if I had been present, 1 would have supported this provision when originally proposed, because, from the little experience I have had of seamen,
I should say that they have no time to do anything else but work. In my view, the amendment of the House of Representatives is an indication of weakness. I should have preferred honorable members in another place to have disagreed with the Senate’s amendment, instead of submitting an amendment upon it to make it unobjectionable to ship-owners, and enable them to provide two or three second-class books for the use of the crew, and call them a library. If it was necessary for the Senate to take action in this direction at all, it appears to me that we should see that effect shall be given to the desire expressed by honorable senators. The difficulties in the way of prescribing the kind of library to be provided for the crew should not be very great. A regulation might be framed including a list of books, which might be added to from time to time, and vessels of a certain size, and carrying a number of men, might be expected to provide a certain number of those books. It was hardly worth while putting in the amendment in the first instance, but as it has been inserted in the Bill, we should not leave it possible for ship-owners to get over the difficulty of allowing the crew to have the use of the ship’s library by providing a special one for them, and that not of a suitable character. It appears to me that this is a slipshod way of doing things.
– I will ask the Committee even at this late hour to reconsider the whole position. When Senator Lynch ‘s amendment was originally submitted, the Minister of Defence put forward views which induced me to oppose it. Those views hold ‘ good to-day. It appears to me to be carrying legislation of this kind to a ridiculous extent to insert such a stipulation. Although I recognise that an amendment upon the Senate’s amendment was necessary, I recognise a’lso that we are up against a difficulty. We have either to accept the amendment of the House of Representatives, or to submit an alternative, but there is a way out of the difficulty, if we choose to take a little trouble. That would be by rejecting the amendment of the House of Representatives, which would enable us ultimately to eliminate Senator Lynch ‘s amendment altogether.
– That would be a lovely thing to do !
– It would be a commonsense thing to do. I hold that the Senate made a mistake which will make us look extremely foolish, and we should do as much as possible to rectify it. I urge that we should reject the House of Representative’s amendment with a view of bringing about an interchange of messages, and. if necessary, a conference, which would enable us to put ourselves in the position of rejecting the original amendment.
– I was rather influenced by the Minister’s appeal to Senator Lynch in regard to saving time, but I am entirely opposed to the view which Senator Millen has put forward. I supported Senator Lynch’s amendment warmly. Even if the idea was not expressed happily, the object was a good one, namely, to insure that those seamen who liked to read, and had any time to spare, should have access to the ship’s library. Some people appear to be rather horror-struck with the idea of a common every-day seaman having the right of entry to the library used by saloon passengers. I know that it has been pointed out that ship’s libraries, as a rule, are “no great shakes.” But I have seen very good works of travel and adventure, and a reasonable amount of fiction in some of them. Personally, I think that any book is better than none if one feels inclined to read. I protest against the action taken in another place. In fact, I am disgusted with what has occurred. They have not had the manliness to reject the amendment. If they did not like it, they should have turned it down. That would have been much better than amending it as they have done. I feel inclined to have a tilt at our own Ministers on this matter. When an amendment of this kind was made in the Bill, Ministers should have had it re-drafted so that it might convey adequately the intentions of the Senate. Then there would have been no necessity Tor another place to amend it in a clumsy and ineffective way, and send it back to us in an emasculated form. When an amendment is made upon a Bill which requires re-drafting, the legal advisers of the Government should take it in hand, and put it in proper form. The Minister has said that probably the Navigation Bill will have to be amended at some future time. Inasmuch as this Bill will have to be sent ‘to England for the Royal assent, are we to assume that amending Bills will also have to be sent Home?
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Lynch’ s motion) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the House of Representatives’ amendment negatived.
– I hope that Ministers will now take into consideration the suggestion of Senator Millen.
– That suggestion cannot be accepted. The Standing Orders would not permit it to be done.
– There is nothing to prevent our rejecting the amendment made by the other House.
– That can be done, of course, but I did not understand that that was Senator Millen’s suggestion.
– My suggestion rested on the assumption that we should, by rejecting the amendment of the House of Representatives, place upon that House the alternative of either accepting our original amendment or sending back a message which would lead to a Conference. I recognise the position in which the Minister stands. But I urge him, as he did not believe in Senator Lynch’s amendment originally, to take a course which would enable both Houses to delete from the Bill a provision which has no right to be there.
– I would point out to Senator Gardiner that I am in this peculiar position : I did not accept the amendment which was carried against the Government, and I have no guarantee that we can agree in Committee to reject our own proposal. Unless I can get a guarantee that the Committee will also reject the other amendment, I would prefer that the amendment of the House of Representatives be accepted. This procedure also has the advantage of quickness.
– I do not think that I would have supported the amendment moved by Senator Lynch, but it is only a pretence to make that amendment in its present form. It is time we made a stand against this pretence to do things. If there is one thing more objectionable to me than another it is making an effort to-day on behalf of a certain section of the community and then tomorrow putting our tongues in our cheeks when an amendment is brought forward that cuts the ground that we have taken up from under us. The suggested procedure would only mean the delay of a day or two, and that means very little in connexion with a Bill that has been hung up for five or six years.
– I think the suggestion of Senator Millen is more in the nature of a challenge. I am prepared to take up the gauntlet that he has thrown down. Whilst I voted against the amendment of Senator Lynch, I am prepared to stand by the original vote of this Committee. If a division be called for I shall vote against the amendment of the House of Representatives, in order that some understanding may be come to between the House of Representatives and this Chamber as to the original intention of the mover of the amendment.
– I want to make this final appeal to the Minister. He says his difficulty arises from his inability to determine what might be the ultimate attitude of the other House.
– Not of the other House; of this Committee.
– Accepting the statement of the Minister, the worst that could happen would be the carrying of a message from this Chamber to the other House and the possible receipt of a message from the other House, and that would occupy probably about ten minutes of our time. If the Minister believed in the proposal that he is supporting, I would not address the appeal to him, but he does not believe in if anymorethanido.Ithinkitis worth making an effort again to remove from the Bill that which he himself regards as a blemish.
Question - That the amendment of the House of Representatives, on the Senate’s amendment, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so. resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro-‘ posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I’ should like to ask the VicePresidentof the Executive Council if he can give an answer to a question I asked earlier in the day regarding the AuditorGeneral’s report?
– I have spoken to the VicePresident with regard to the maternity bonus. We notice that some 8,000 bonuses have been paid ; that 1,400 applications are held in abeyance, and about 59 have been rejected. I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to state what those rejected cases mean.
– In reply to Senator Chataway’s question, I may state that the financial statement on which the Auditor-General’s report is based was forwarded by the Treasury to that gentleman at the beginning of this week, and the Auditor-General and his staff are working overtime so as to allow of the report being laid on the table before Parliament prorogues. As regards
Senator Shannon’s question, the majority of the claims were rejected because the children were still-born, and not viable. A small’ number were rejected because the children were still-born, and there was no doctor’s or midwife’s certificate that they were viable. A lesser number were rejected because they were claims in respect of children born before the Act came into operation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121212_senate_4_69/>.