4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether the statement in this morning’s newspapers in reference to the discrepancy between the State and the Federal Statisticians as to the population of New South Wales is correct, and, if not, whether he will tell the Senate in what position the matter stands?
– I have received from the Home Affairs Department two memoranda by the Chief Electoral Officer dealing with this question, and as I do not think that the statement in the press is quite full, perhaps it will be better if I read them to the Senate. The first memorandum is as follows : -
Following upon Senator Millen’s remarks in Parliament as to the alleged inflation of the New South Wales electoral rolls, I took advantage of my recent visit to New South Wales to inquire carefully into the matter of the compilation of the rolls :
The data for the rolls was collected entirely by the permanent police officials and compiled by the Commonwealth electoral registrars with the assistance of the police.
All the officers acted under instructions issued by the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth and the Chief Electoral Officer for the State, and in these instructions each officer’s duties and responsibilities were so plainly defined as to make any confusion of thought, misunderstanding, or overlapping inexcusable.
Each officer concerned dealt with a specified area, and certified to the faithful discharge of his duties in strict accordance with his instructions.
The New South Wales police officers are amongst the most experienced electoral canvassers in the Commonwealth, and no question has been raised as to their integrity or competency. The electoral registrars are Commonwealth officials, with statutory responsibilities, against whom no complaint has been made. Senator Millen’s contention, that because the electoral enrolment figures furnished by the Chief Electoral Officer do not agree with the estimate of electoral population furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician, the rolls have been stuffed or inflated, is one with which I am unable to concur. The statistical estimate of electoral population of a State, which is arrived at by taking the total estimated adult population at a given time and deducting the number of aliens, new arrivals, &c, assumed to be disqualified for enrolment at that time may, for various reasons, be very wide of the mark, and cannot in reason be relied upon as against a personal collection of names.
I have conferred with the Commonwealth and the State statistical authorities, and understand that there is grave doubt as to the accuracy of the Commonwealth statistical figures quoted by Senator Millen. The New South Wales Statistician claims that the actual population of that State is by many thousands in excess of that given by Mr. Knibbs, and that the electoral figures are substantially correct; while the Victorian Statistician estimates that the actual population of the latter State is very markedly below the estimate given by Mr. Knibbs. Both statisticians are, I understand, of opinion that there has been erroneous counting by the railway authorities on the border, and have made representations to the Commonwealth Statistician to this effect. The statisticians are still conferring with regard to the population figures of the two States, and, in the meantime, I submit that there is no ground for assuming that the New South Wales electoral rolls are in fault.
Chief Electoral Officer. 15th November, 1912.
The further memorandum reads -
It is now alleged by the Government of New South Wales that the figures supplied by their officers to the Commonwealth Statistician as the migration out of the State, and at first stated to be correct, after the question of their accuracy had been raised, are really incorrect. It is understood that this alleged inaccuracy is accepted by the Victorian Statistician, and the basis on the conclusion of the State Statisticians is expected to be submitted to the Commonwealth Statistician for his consideration. Pending the receipt of this, a definite answer cannot be given ; but it is understood that Victoria is prepared to admit a very considerable reduction in the estimate of its population, and New South Wales will receive a correspondingly large increase. Inasmuch as a large proportion of the border migration is adult, this will materially affect the voting numbers. 12th December, 1912.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask another question. The report of the Chief Electoral Officer deals with my remarks so far as they had reference to the figures presented by the Federal Statistician.I also indicated here a discrepancy between the rolls and the figures supplied by the State Statistician, but, to. that portion of my remarks, Mr. Oldham has made no reference. In view of the importance of the matter, will the Minister bring it under the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer, with the view of obtaining an explanation?
– I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator on that head under the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer, and ask him to furnish a report.
– In view of the number of applications and the importance of the subject, sir, will you take into consideration the- advisability of placing at the disposal of honorable senators a number of copies of the complete debates on the referenda proposals?
– It has been decided that half-a-dozen copies of the debates shall be sent to every honorable senator who so desires. There will be spare copies, which will be distributed in different directions; but I should like to know, in order that the necessary instructions may be given, whether honorable senators will be satisfied with the number of copies I have mentioned, or will require to be furnished with more.
– May I ask, sir, as a matter of ordinary humanity to the people of the Commonwealth, whether it ‘ is possible to have a condensation, or a precis, made of all the speeches in a small pamphlet, instead of issuing the full report?
– I have no objection to that course being adopted.
– It would be a very useful thing. .
– I do not think that Mr. Speaker and myself should be called upon to be responsible for the condensing of speeches. I feel perfectly satisfied that, however well .the work might be done, it would not give satisfaction to any member of either House.
– Is it possible, sir, to place the matter in the hands of an expert?
Prosecutions - Caning of Cadets
– Has the Minister of Defence yet been furnished with any report in connexion with the cases I mentioned of solicitors’ costs being charged to cadets who had been fined for nonattendance at drill?
– Yes, reports have been received by me, but I regarded them as unsatisfactory, and gave an instruction that the Area Officer is to refund the costs. The instruction has gone forward, and action will be taken at once.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received any report from the Military authorities in Sydney concerning the flogging of a cadet at the Sydney Grammar School ? Will a report or statement be permitted from the parent or the boy concerned ?
– When the honorable senator questioned me on this subject, I at once directed that a telegram should be sent to the District Commandant in New South Wales, instructing him to expedite the forwarding of a. report. Yesterday I received from him a telegram stating that the delay had been occasioned by his regarding the reports of the officers concerned as unsatisfactory, and referring them back to them-; but that a report would be completed and forwarded on that day. Probably it will be delivered at the Barracks here between 3 and 4 o’clock, and may not reach me before the Senate adjourns. Of course, until it comes forward, I cannot know what it contains.
– I was invited the day before yesterday by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to ask him a question about a matter which we were then debating in Committee on the Loan Bill, and, lest he should accuse me of want- of courtesy, I desire to ask him the question now.
– What is that?
– If it is necessary for me to remind the honorable senator of what the question was, I shall do so. I endeavoured in Committee to ascertain - and it was at his request that I put it in the form of a question - two points : first, what rate of interest the Commonwealth is paying a private vendor in respect of the uncompleted purchase of a property at Perth, in Western Australia; and, secondly, what amount of rent in respect of that property is to be paid to the Commonwealth by the vendor?
– I regret that I have not yet received the information, but, as soon as I get it, I shall make it available to the members of the Senate.
– It is two days, now.
– The Ides of March !
– The Minister probably forgot it.
– It is excusable.
– No; I did not forget the question. I spoke to the Minister of Home Affairs about it.
– I neither accuse the Minister of forgetting the question nor of endeavouring to keep the information back; but may I ask will he, without further question put to him, give the Senate the information?
– I shall give the information as soon as I get it, and, if necessary, I shall get an honorable senator to ask a question.
– That will be satisfactory.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Arms Factory, the Cordite Factory, the Clothing Factory, and the Harness Factory instituted or authorized ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are : -
Factory. 1910-1911, Clothing, Harness and Saddlery, and Woollen Cloth Factories.
The manufacture of rifle parts was commenced in February, 1912, on a limited scale, it being necessary that operatives should be taken on only in such numbers aswould admit of their proper instruction.
Cordite Factory -
Preliminary and experimental manufac turing work was commenced in September, 191 1, but the manufacture of cordite for out-turn was not begun until 1st July, 1912.
Clothing Factory -
Manufacture commenced 3rd January, 1912.
Harness Factory -
Manufacture commenced 24th July, 1911.
It is pointed out, however, that the above figures may be subject to revision after the examination of factory books and accounts by the Auditor-General, now proceeding, is completed.
Small Arms Factory -
Debate resumed from 12th December (vide page 6931), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– At the last sitting, I was engaged in pointing out the change which has come over the nature of commerce the world over, and especially in Australia. I have said that commerce in Australia to-day is’ not confined to particular States, but ranges over the whole area of the Commonwealth. Goods manufactured in the east and south find their market in the west and north. We send timber from Western Australia to the eastern States, and products of the eastern States - such as butter, bacon, and other foodstuffs - are sent to the west, and as far north as the State of Western Australia extends. In view of the fact that commerce to-day differs so very much from what it was a hundred years ago, it is quite illogical to contend that the laws which were sufficient to regulate it then suffice for to-day. People outside naturally look for guidance to members of this Parliament, because of their special opportunities to become acquainted with matters which the people generally have no means of knowing; but, when they find the opponents of these proposals insisting that a law made over one hundred years ago is sufficient for the requirements of to-day, the only conclusion to which they can come is that we must shut our eyes to the change which has ‘ come over events, and which especially has taken place in the nature of commerce in Australia.
An instance came under my notice recently of an attempt to compel commerce to run within certain definite channels without respect to the interests of the people. As honorable senators are aware, the Government of Western Australia recently started a line of steam-ships, and, during the short time since the establishment of that line, the residents of comparatively isolated and remote districts of the State have derived very great benefit from the service. It has led to a reduction of fares and freights, and the people have been placed in the position to contend better with the disadvantages of their isolated situation than they were able to do when served by private shipping companies. I am in a position to inform honorable senators that, in connexion with goods shipped from Melbourne to a port in Western Australia, there was written across the bill of lading the words, “ Not to be shipped in the State steam-ships of Western Australia.” It is very evident that the consignors of these goods were brought in some way or another under the influence of those engaged in the shipping business here. That is an instance of the kind of thing that is going on in Australia to-day. An endeavour has been clearly made to confine commerce within channels controlled by private enterprise, and to prevent it from being conducted by a State steam service established for the benefit of the people. This is a restraint of trade which places a burden upon the people of Western Australia.
It would appear, from this debate, that nothing done by the Ministerial party in this Parliament meets with the approval of the Opposition. They are carrying out the role assigned to them by Disraeli when he said that it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose. But it is not in the true interests of the community that they should carry out that role to the fullest extent. The result has been to place honorable members opposite in very contradictory positions at times. When the Maternity Allowance Bill was under consideration a few months ago, the Leader of the Opposition condemned it as a vote-catching measure. It was stated that the measure was introduced before an election merely as an electioneering placard and in order to catch votes.
– Hear, hear !
– I find that that statement is cheered by a member of the Opposition who opposes the measures now under consideration on exactly opposite grounds. Senator Shannon has urged the rejection of these measures, because they are unpopular. He has told the Senate that, on a previous occasion, similar proposals were rejected by about 250,000 electors, and has contended that that was a reason why they should not be submitted to the people again. On the one hand, honorable senators opposite condemn measures because they are calculated to catch votes, and, on the other hand, they condemn measures which they assert are calculated to repel popular opinion. Whether we place before them allegedly popular or unpopular measures we cannot please the taste of the Opposition.
– Honorable senators opposite should not try ; they should do what is right.
– That is just what we are doing. We go upon our own course in obedience to the dictates of our consciences, and we do not trouble ourselves as to whether what we propose meets with the approval of the Opposition or does not. Senator Fraser may laugh, but the history of the Labour party in politics in Australia supplies the best answer to the honorable senator It is the history of a militant party. We have stood up for measures which were unpopular. After years of struggling and endeavour measures which were unpopular years ago are accepted to-day by the people, as a result of the efforts of the Labour party and of the Labour party alone. We are in the proud position of having been able to convert a considerable minority into an overwhelming majority. The fact that measures which were regarded as unpopular have since been accepted by the people is due to the efforts of the Labour .party, assisted by one or two staunch friends of the movement who do not belong to the party. I make this statement in justice to those outside the Labour ranks who have helped us, but they have been very few in number. We are pursuing our own course, indifferent as to whether we meet with popular favour or arouse popular clamour. That is evident from the way In which the measures to which I have referred have been treated by the Opposition.
Senator Millen has said that the Ministerial party in this Parliament are, in connexion -with these measures, flying in the face of the history of our own race. That is a high-sounding statement, but I wish to direct attention to its inaccuracy. First of all, the history of our race is not confined to the British Empire, or members of the Empire. If we consider Canada alone we shall find that the National Parliament of that Dominion possesses powers far in excess of those for which we are asking to-day. So far as the experience of Canada, therefore, is concerned we cannot be said to be flying in the face of the history of our own race. Senator Fraser, who comes from Canada, must acknowledge that the Dominion is one of the most prosperous portions of the British Empire. If there be any lack of ‘prosperity in Canada the honorable senator will admit that it is not due to the character of the Canadian Constitution.
– That is so.
– Then, I ask the honorable senator why he is found voting against measures submitted for the purpose of endowing the Commonwealth Parliament with the powers which vested in the Canadian Parliament have been attended with such beneficial results. It would appear that the honorable senator is being guided by the alleged jesuitical maxim that the end justifies the means. Is it because he desires to get in a blow at the Labour party that he refuses to endow the Australian people with the powers which he claims have been productive of so much benefit in Canada ? I ask the venerable old political jesuit whether that is his object?
– Order ! I think that statement is not in accordance with the rules of debate, and the honorable senator should withdraw it.
– I am pursuing a line of argument based upon an admission by Senator Fraser, which I contend justifies the statement. We have been told that it is an alleged jesuitical maxim that the end justifies the means. I have based an argument upon that. I asked Senator Fraser, as a native of Canada, to say whether the prosperity of the Dominion has not been largely due to the Canadian Constitution, and the legislation framed under it. The honorable senator admitted that it has, and I now ask him whether he is opposing the endowment of this Parliament with the powers which have been productive of such good results in Canada in order that he may bring about the downfall of the Labour party through a refusal to confer upon the people of Australia powers the exercise of which has done so much foi the people of Canada. Dealing with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition, that we are flying in the face of the traditions of the British race, I have looked closely into the Canadian case, and claim that we in this country are seeking even less power than is enjoyed by the Dominion Government in Canada.
Let us turn to South Africa. There the central authority has greater power than is given here. I say flatly that, so far from flying in the face of the traditions of our race, we are not asking for more powers than are enjoyed to-day by any other selfgoverning entity of the British Empire. In South Africa, the States, which for a long time enjoyed complete autonomy, have been stripped of their powers, and these have been intrusted to a single central authority. Look at the United States of America. We must acknowledge that the Republic of the West, numbering 90,000,000 of people to-day, affords an example which is just as much part and parcel of the experience of the British race as is that of any part of the British Empire. The British Parliament cannot fairly be compared with the
Commonwealth Parliament, however powerful it may become. The British Parliament has to legislate for 300,000,000 people, ami not 5,000.000. It has to deal with territories spread over the five continents of the globe. It has to deal legislatively with peoples alien in race, religion, and economic and social standards - the very opposite of the Australian people. Therefore, the cry of Home Rule, as applied to the question of the referendum, is grotesquely absurd. We turned to the United States of America when framing our own Constitution. But what has been the trend of events there? We can take the opinions, not only of impartial students on the spot, but of jurists elsewhere, who, after an examination of the facts, have come to the conclusion that the State Governments of America are waning in popular favour, and stand in danger of losing the sovereignty which they have hitherto enjoyed. I direct the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to what has been written by Professor Harrison Moore, of the Melbourne University, on the trend of events in America.
– The answer is given by the figures of the last Presidential election, when the people turned down Mr. Roosevelt, who sought to bring about changes such as these.
– We cannot judge from a temporary indication of public popular feeling, but must consider the general trend of events. Professor Harrison Moore says, at page 621 of his work on the Commonwealth of Australia - ;
It is the experience of Federal Government in the United States, in Germany, and in Switzerland that the National Government tends to grow in power as compared with the State Governments. In the United States of America the development has been by way of judicial construction rather than by formal amendment, a construction given under a deep responsibility which came from the knowledge that the decisions of the Court were, in face of the difficulty of amending the Constitution, for all practical, purposes final, and yet mav not be “Commerce among the several States.” In America, too, as elsewhere, the citadel of natural rights has been stormed, and the securities demanded by the citizen of the eighteenth century against the improvement of his liberties are likely to be more and more regarded in the twentieth century as hindrances to his social welfare.
That passage sums up in a very few compact sentences Professor Harrison Moore’s opinion on the tendency of the times in America. He shows that popular feeling and favour are running in the direction of giving increased power to the central authority ‘at the expense of the States.
– In spite of the fact that the United States of America have had a more liberal High Court than ours.
– Quite so. Professor Harrison Moore says that the temper of the times has been so clearly manifested that even the Judiciary has sought to overcome difficulties by straining the Constitution to meet popular demands. I will also quote the opinion of an American writer, Samuel N. Patton, who, in his book on The Decay of States and Local Government, expresses the following opinion : -
Among the many political changes which have occurred during the history . of the American people there are few that can compare in importance with the growth of the national feeling by which the State and local Government have lost their former independent position and are now valued largely for the places they furnish for partisans of national politics. . . . The average voter of to-day would have been a puzzle to our ancestors. The motives upon which he acts would have been incomprehensible to them. They looked upon the State as a sovereign, and kept State issues independent of those of the nation. They limited the power of the nation as’ much as possible with the hope that the States would retain their vitality and be the real centre of power and influence. Each part of our really complex system of government had a meaning to them, and they exerted the utmost vigilance to ensure that no part lost its vitality. Nothing could have grieved the fathers of our country more than to know that before the end of the first century of our national existence, State and local Governments would have sunk to their present condition with a mere nominal existence.
I think that clearly shows that in the opinion of the American people it is necessary to endow the central Government with increased powers, and that that can only be done by taking powers from the State Governments. I shall quote the opinion of another American writer, Mr. Ashley, author of The American Federal StateHe says -
In 1789 we had a Federal system nominally the same as it is now, but then we had States and a nation. Then all spoke of the States as sovereign, and of the Central Government as sovereign only in regard to the powers conferred upon it. Whatever we may think about the permanence of the States, one thing is assured, the Union, i.e., the Commonwealth, will stand, growing stronger with the onward march of the centuries.
Senator Millen wishes to draw that line deep, black, and irremovable. He wishes to place a bar between the two spheres of action and authority. I say that we cannot draw that line permanently. The writer proceeds to deal with the difficulty of changing the American Constitution.
– It has been changed.
– I know that it has been changed in reference to matters of great public concern, as to which all parties were in. accord. But it is almost impossible to change the Constitution to-day, owing to the power of money in the United States. This writer proceeds -
Were Lt not for the fact that the general principles underlying State laws are everywhere the same, and that there are but four or five groups of States with any difference in details, some action by an outside authority would be necessary for the proper conduct of ordinary business.
The writer supports Harrison Moore in showing that the Judiciary of the United States of America has been straining the Constitution to bring about changes demanded by the times, and that is an action which is open to serious question. He proceeds -
In other words, if State lines are not permanent in every-day affairs, they must not make important boundaries of legal systems or they will have to be removed.
All who have studied American affairs know how exceedingly difficult it is to alter the Constitution in any material respect. An amendment requires a two-thirds majority in each House of Congress, or a demand by two-thirds of the States, and has to be ratified by three-fourths of the Legislatures of the States. So that, compared with our own Constitution, the prospect of altering the American Constitution is almost hopeless, if not actually impossible.
In regard to the main features of these referenda proposals, I have referred to what has taken place in other countries with respect to monopolies. During the time of my participancy in public affairs in this country, I admit that I have advocated concerted action by those in charge of industries and their employes. I ; have urged them to come together and to recognise that it was not wise and well to permit unrestricted competition in carrying on business. I have suffered from the cut-throat competitive methods adopted by those engaged in industry, and have been forced to accept lower wages than were reasonable and have been compelled to live under unsatisfactory conditions. This state of affairs was entirely due to the reduction of prices to such an absurd level that they did not pay the employers, or those who were engaged by them. I urged on that occasion and Afterwards that it was necessary for the employers to combine to fix rates that would operate fairly to themselves and enable them to deal fairly with their employes. I was urged to do this by the necessities of the situation and because I was not going to be made a slave so that the public might enjoy cheap prices. Whilst on that occasion I agreed to those engaged in industry combining for their reasonable protection, I did not agree to their going to the further, length of making themselves our masters. I refer particularly to the shipping industry.. When’ the shipping companies were not combined, people could travel from place to place around the Australian coast for less than they could obtain board on shore, and hundreds of persons did travel merely for the novelty of the thing and in order to save their board. The employes were made to pay for these holiday jaunts, and that was not a healthy state of affairs. I urged that it was necessary to raise rates to such a level that employers would obtain a fair return for their capital and would be able to pay us fairly for our labour. We are charged to-day with, having encouraged monopolies, but . there is . a great distinction between combinations for the purpose I have indicated ah j combinations which will enable employers to become masters of the situation. I may invite a man into my house to enjoy my hospitality, but at the same time I am not content that he shall become my master. My invitation affords him no warrant for usurping my place in my own home. Those employers who took our advice to combine in order to fix fair prices were not content with accomplishing that object, but have gone much further afield and have constituted themselves masters of the situation.- These proposals are intended to enable the Commonwealth Government to curb this abuse of power, and to deal effectively with those who have gone far beyond the boundary line between a fair reward for their enterprise and exorbitant demands upon the public.
In regard to what has happened in other countries, I shall have to discard a good deal of the matter I have prepared with a view to showing the trend of events in the United States, Great Britain, and New Zealand. But I would refer especially to New Zealand, because it is nearer home, and because in that Dominion we shall find ample evidence in support of the present proposals. A Royal Commission appointed by the New Zealand Government to inquire into the cost of living last year presented its report during the current year. The report contains a list of articles which are the subjects of monopolies. The Commission found that the cost of living had been increased by 21 per cent, during the last seventeen years. They found that the following articles were the subjects of monopolies : -
Sugar, matches, cocoa, Keiller’s marmalade, Colman’s mustard, Colman’s starch, Keen’s spice, Keen’s blue, Robinson’s groats and barley, oatina, gerstena, Neeve’s food, Mellin’s food, Edmond’s baking powder, Sapon, Levers’ soaps, Reckitts’ polishes, local starch, soap, candles, proprietary teas, Highlander milk, tobacco, cigarettes, and certain brands of cigars.
In all there are twenty-eight commodities that are the subjects of mutual arrangement in the fixing of prices in New Zealand today, and most of these are foodstuffs.
– Does the honorable member say that they are all the subjects of monopolies.
– That is what was discovered by the Commission in respect of them. The Commission say -
Acting upon legal advice, individual -members of the Merchants’ Association of New Zealand refused to give evidence. The Commission has definite proof that the members of this association have banded together for the purpose of restraining trade in their own interests, and boycotting independent trading. Where they have succeeded in securing control of imported and locally-produced commodities, their operations have been followed by increased prices. In no single instance have they reduced the price of any commodity to the public. They have obtained control and fixed higher prices for at least the following commodities : -
Then they give the list of commodities I have quoted.
– Is there no indication that those increases were not - as in the case of the shipping business justified in the interest of those employed in the industry.
– What was the advance in wages during the same period?
– I am glad the honorable senator has asked that question, because in answering it I shall be able to meet statements, by gentlemen in the same political camp as himself, to the effect that the increased cost of living is mainly attributable to higher wages and labour legislation. That has been a stock argument. In regard to wages the Commission find that from 1895 *o 1907-
– You took a seventeenyear period in making a comparison as to the cost of living.
– I am quoting the report of the Commission. I might mention that the paragraph in the report relating to the increase in house rents reads as follows: -
After the most careful consideration of the evidence submitted, the Commission is of opinion that the rent for an ordinary working man’s house, generally of the same style and quality, has increased by about 20 per cent, over the last fifteen years. The increase seems to bemost marked in Auckland - a city which has also exhibited the most rapid increase in population over that period - and it is not improbable that there rents have increased by 45 per cent.
With regard to wages, the Commission found that, taking 100 as the mean, the purchasing power of wages in 1895 was 101, whereas in 1907, it was 101.5, so that during twelve years the purchasing power of wages increased by only 1 per cent. This is a most important point. Whilst the cost of foodstuffs has increased by 21 per cent., and house rents have increased by 20 per cent, all over New Zenland, and by 45 per cent, in Auckland, the purchasing power of wages has increased by only per cent.
– That is no answer to my argument.
– It has been stated over and over again that labour legislation has been the chief factor in increasing the cost of living. Let us see what the Commission - upon which there was not one labour nominee - has to say on that point. The report sets out the causes of the increased cost of living. They are twelve in number, and no reference is made to labour legislation as being in any senseresponsible. The first four cases aregiven as follows : -
Another cause is given as the relatively high increase in the cost of distribution! owing to the increased transport charges, the excessive, number of those engaged ira the work of distribution and the duplication of distributing agencies. Some sidelights are thrown on the way in which the work of distribution is carried on and the extent to which the hand of monopoly is placed so heavily upon the commercial and industrial affairs of New Zealand. The following statement is made : -
Mr. F. Williams, baker, of Christchurch, showed what might happen under the circumstances mentioned above. He was outside the Master Bakers’ Association, and was selling bread cheap for cash over the counter, when the Master Bakers’ Association, in concert with the Flour Millers’ Association, blocked his supply of flour for at least a year, and forced him to import Manitoba and Australian Bour from Sydney, as be could not obtain New Zealand flour from the outside millers at a price low enough to enable him to compete successfully with the Master Bakers’ Association.
There are numerous instances given here, sir. In fact, the report is almost strewn with accounts of big independent traders who would not knuckle down and observe the regulations laid down by the Merchant Traders’ Association or other monopolies in New Zealand being made the victims of boycotting and intimidation. Here is another reference which I will quote -
Mr. Fulton states distinctly that this refusal on the part of the British Empire Trading Company to supply him with tobacco followed on a refusal by the associated merchants to supply.. He says, “ We were cut off for no reason at all. by the associated merchants as far as we know.” The inference, it seems to us, to be drawn from the correspondence and other evidence is that Messrs. Brewer, Fulton, and Co. were being boycotted by the Merchants’- Association and that the Merchants’ Association exercised pressure on the Tobacco Campany to induce it to refuse supplies.
I do not wish to weary the. Senate by making repeated reference to the high-handed action of the. Merchant Traders’ Association as showing how traders in the Dominion are restrained.
In regard to the remedy to be applied for the threatened danger that is evidenced in the Commonwealth, I wish to place on record again the remedy which Mr. W. H. Irvine, a leading member of the Opposition in this Parliament, proposed two years ago, and by which, unfortunately, he does not stand to-day. It is best known to himself why he has deserted the position he took up spontaneously two years ago. Then he acknowledged that there was something wrong in the commercial and industrial life of this country ; then he could divine the causes which were at work; then he could place before Parliament and the people the remedy, about which there should be no misunderstanding. That remedy he is no longer prepared to apply - that remedy he has abandoned. Why has he deserted his position? The electors will be asked why he and other members of this Parliament, found to-day in the Fusion camp, have turned their backs upon and betrayed their professions of two short years ago. What power or influence is at work that public men should so act, is incomprehensible to me. As a humble unit of this party, I may say that I have never yet turned my back, nor do I know of any member of the party who has made a volte-face in such a shameless fashion as have these men who stand before the country and ask the people to put faith in them. We find that, on this very question, Mr. W. H. Irvine recorded these views in Parliament two years ago : -
There are others which by the powers that they have come to wield and the methods by which they use those powers are visibly becoming - although not so much yet in this country - a menace to liberty.
One does not wish to speak strongly of other countries, and especially of a country which one admires, but on these matters we must speak plainly. The truth has been borne into us that these great aggregations of irresponsible wealth in the United States are rapidly destroying the foundation of the constitutional liberties of the people. The ordinary organs of government which ought to control them in some cases are becoming their instruments? The experience of the United States, especially during the last fifteen or twenty years, goes to show that to deal with this growing evil the arm of the States is “ too short, whilst the arm of the Central Government is paralyzed by the constitutional ligature to which f have referred. There is no power to deal with these trusts in the United States, and the point has been made by Dr. Haynes in the passage to which I have referred, that with a Constitution which is practically incapable of being so amended as to do away with this ligature there may be found no other remedy than some form of revolutionary change.
The right honorable member for Swan said -
But the States can deal with these trusts? to which Mr. Irvine replied -
The States cannot; that is the whole point. The right honorable member for Swan again, in whose embrace Mr. Irvine, is found to-day, having deserted and basely abandoned opinions which he voluntarily expressed two years ago, interjected -
Not. with the operations of a trust within a State ? to which Mr. Irvine replied -
No; the whole evil of the position in the United States is that the individual States are’ quite powerless.
So we say. I say “ Amen “. to everything Mr. Irvine said two years ago, but not “ Amen “ to the position he is in to-day, and to the false expressions of opinion he is now giving. Referring to Eddy on Combinations and Judson on Inter-State Trade, Mr. Irvine went on to say that they showed - that the State machinery is absolutely inefficient to deal with, the great commercial octopi which carry on their operations over a large territory. The only power that can effectively deal with them is the central authority, and the ‘ ole question is, “What authority ought the central power to possess to enable it to deal with these injurious combines?”
That is the view of the Mr. Irvine of two years ago, not that of the Mr. Irvine of today. We will take good care, when the time comes, to point out the difference between his attitude of two years ago and the attitude of himself and his colleagues today.
I think it is worth while, even at the expense of delaying the Senate, to point out what has happened in regard to the supply of steel rails, and to show that Governments and those who are engaged in developmental work in Australia are seriously handicapped’ by the action of the’ Steel Trust to-day, which reserves to itself certain spaces over the surface of the globe, beyond which they do not attempt to trade. No competition reigns- within these allotted areas. In his work on International Trusts Mr. Hermann Levy, professor in -the Heidelberg University - and so important was his work that it was translated into English - sets forth the fact that in 1895 an international arrangement was . entered into between the steel companies of ‘ the world, that the price of rails in Great Britain was something like -£2 a ton more than the price of rails in the United States of America, and that in spite of the fact that England was Free Trade and that America could land rails at a cheaper price in England, according to the relative price in both countries, after the compact had been entered into, only 477 tons were landed in England. In the meantime, America exported no less than 200,000 tons to foreign countries, but England, although the price was higher in that country, never received more than a paltry 477 tons during the ‘ time. It is quite plain to those who are conversant with public affairs in the Old Country, that their vaunted policy of Free Trade at least is not .giving the consumers in England any . benefit’, but rather that the mighty trusts that sit in conclave in different cities in the world can come to an arrangement which will throw into the waste-paper basket any Tariff which the Parliament of Australia, or the British House of Commons, may take’, labour and pains to formulate for the benefit and protection of the people. The Tariff in the Old Country, so far as steel rails were concerned, was powerless. People in that country wanted the rails at a cheap price, but the Americans would not supply them. Therefore, it is clear that these enormous octopi, as Mr. Irvine has described trusts, can play “ ducks and drakes “ with the Tariffs of the world. It was done in the case of steel rails in Australia when the Germans refused to tender and left the field clear to the American and English competitors.
I’ desire to refer briefly to the proposal to enable railway servants to come under the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, should they ever find themselves in trouble, or want a dispute settled. I regard it as a very vital proposal indeed. When we examine closely the objections to the proposal, we find that, unless the railway servants of Australia are given power to approach the Arbitration.. Court, very serious ‘consequences, if not evil, will ensue. Senator Fraser may laugh.
– I am. amazed at your effrontery.
– The honorable senator who laughs at this proposal comes from the State where the railway servants went into revolt not very long ago. Why? To obtain fair conditions. I am not personally aware of the conditions under which they worked, but am able to state, on the best authority, the conditions under which they worked up to the time they struck-, as compared with .the railway servants of New South Wales. Prior to the strike, the average wage of the enginedrivers -in Victoria was 12s. n)d. a day, and in New South Wales, 13s. 4d., being a difference of 4jd. a day in favour of the. New South Wales men. The average wage of firemen in Victoria was 8s. 7$d. a day,, and in New South Wales, 8s. 8Jd. - not a. great difference, it is true, but still a difference, to which I shall refer later. Theaverage wage of guards in Victoria ‘ was 8s. 10¾d. a day, and in New South Wales it was 9s. 7fd., showing a difference of 9d. in favour of the New South Wales men. In addition - and this is all-important - in the New South Wales service, the men worked only eight hours a day, and ninetysix hours a fortnight ; whereas in Victoria, up to the time of the strike, the men worked 108 hours a fortnight. In other words, they worked a day longer for a lower wage than was paid in New South Wales. When they sought a redress of their grievances, what was the result? Mr. Irvine, who is now in this Parliament, and has shown himself so skilful an acrobat, refused to consider what they proposed for consideration, and insisted upon the Government being the only arbiter of the situation.
– Hear, hear !
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. I believe that the railway servants of this State should not be in the position of having the Government as their sole arbiter.
– They were anarchists, for the time being.
– A fair means of adjustment would be to have an arbitrator to decide between those seeking something and those refusing it. The Government of Victoria of that day refused to consider the demands of the railway employes unless they conceded that the Government should be the sole arbitrators in all such matters. We know the history of that strike, and the attempts made to force those men into submission. Nothing serves as a better guide for the future than experience of the past. It is the lamp which may guide our feet. What has happened in the past is a reliable guide to what may happen in the future. The railway men went on strike in Victoria, as they were perfectly entitled to do, because a man should have the right to sell his labour in the highest market, just as a merchant sells his goods in the highest market.
– He can retire if he likes.
– Yes, and starve.
– There is outside employment for him.
– This is a chapter from the history of Victoria, which may be repeated in the future. In order to overcome the trouble a Coercion Bill was introduced in the Victorian Parliament. There was an attempt for the first time in the history of Australia to stain the statute-books of the country with one of the vilest coercive measures which have been such a foul blot upon the laws of the Old
Land. This measure was introduced by the same Mr. Irvine, and I ask the close attention of honorable senators whilst I refer to some of its main features, in order to show what the Government of Victoria proposed to do to men because they insisted upon what they considered a fair thing.
– They left their engines out in the bush, and defied all justice and reason.
– It does not matter where they left them. It was only after they had exhausted in vain every means open to them for theredress of their grievances, and because they were treated with contempt by the Victorian Government, that they resorted to those extreme measures. Here are some of the clauses of the Irvine Coercion Act, which should, I think, be put on record, as indicating what may happen in the future if we are to accept the experience of the past as a guide. Section 2 of the Bill provided that-
Every person employed in the railway service, either in a permanent office or as a supernumerary, who, without the approval of the Commissioners, or before the expiration of fourteen clear days after giving notice of intention to leave the said service, ceases to perform his duties, shall, if the strike is not previously concluded, be deemed to have joined in the strike, and to have become a striker, and to have committed an offence against this Act.
Offences against the Act were to be punished in the following way -
Every person who is guilty of an offence against any of the provisions of this Act shall, for every such offence, be liable, on conviction before any police magistrate (who, whether sitting in a Court of Petty Sessions or otherwise, shall have all the powers and authorities of a Court of Petty Sessions), to a penalty not exceeding One hundred pounds, or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve months, or to both such penalty and imprisonment.
The Victorian Government of the immediate past proposed as a penalty for going on strike a fine of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment, or the payment of the penalty, and also the imprisonment. These were the penalties provided for the punishment of those against whom they were directed for doing what merchants, traders, and all engaged in monopolistic enterprises are doing to-day, and have done in the past, without any interference under the law. Here are a few more gems from this Coercion Act introduced by the Victorian Government. I quote them as showing how Magna Charta was overturned in one act by a Victorian Government.
Every person shall be guilty of an offence against this Act if he -
That is a fairly drastic provision. If a a man used abusive language towards the women or children of a person seeking employment, or one who had been offered employment, he was liable to a fine of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment, or to the payment of £100, and twelve months’ imprisonment.
That was an offence. A man was liable to the penalties to which I have referred for following a person about -
If a person were only found outside the house of a non-unionist - a black-leg - he might be instantly hauled before a court without a warrant, sent to gaol and ordered to pay a fine of£100.
– What is the meaning of “ lurking?”
– I do not know; but a person might be studying the phases of the moon, and be said to be “ lurking.”
The section continues - or lurks near or spies upon the house or place where any such employe or person resides or works or carries out his duties, or happens to be, or the approaches to such house or place; or
Under this Coercion Act it was possible for a man to be fined£100 or twelve months’ imprisonment, or both, if he was found near a railway station speaking to a railway passenger. We talk about the liberty of the subject. This was the legislation passed to deal with a railway strike because of the refusal of the Government to grant reasonable terms to their men. I have said that it was only after the railway employes had exhausted every other means of redress and were driven from the steps of the Government offices, that they resorted to extreme measures. The section further provides that -
I have no objection to that. Then it is provided -
For any of the offences specified in paragraphs; a to h inclusive of the foregoing sub-section, any offender may be arrested, either with or withoutwarrant, and when so arrested shall not in any such case be released on bail..
He could lie in gaol. That is what the State control of railways came to only a few short years ago. In section 7 I find the following with respect to printing.. The Honorary Minister will appreciate this-
Every person who prints, publishes, distributes, issues, circulates, or posts up or exhibits any printed notice, notification, order, request, document, or paper having, or which appears to have, as an object the encouragement, maintenance, furtherance, extension, or continuance of the: strike, orthe collecting, receiving, keeping, distributing of any fund or moneys for any such object, or containing any insulting or abusive language with respect to persons continuing in. or accepting employment in the railway service, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
A printer, or even a newspaper-boy in the street was liable under this to imprisonment for twelve months.
Any such notice, notification, order, request, document, or paper may, without further or other authority than this Act, be seized and destroyed by any member of the Police Force, or by any person whomsoever.
The police were entitled to enter a newspaper office and seize and destroy the property they found there without reference. to any judicial authority whatever. Did any one ever hear of such a reign of terror as prevailed in Victoria when the State Government had control of the railways? Here is another drastic provision -
Any meeting of more than six persons in any building -
It might be in a person’s home. A man’s home is supposed to be his castle. These time-honoured shibboleths have deceived the people long enough. A man’s home was not his castle in Victoria when Mr. Irvine was Premier of the State -
Any meeting of more than six persons in any building or in the open air, held or being held for the encouragement, maintenance, furtherance, extension, or continuance of the strike shall be deemed and taken to be an unlawful meeting.
Every person whoat tends any such meeting shall be deemed guilty of an offence against this Act.
Any Superintendent, Inspector, or SubInspector of Police, or, if so authorized by any Superintendent, Inspector, or Sub-Inspector, any sergeant of police, may, with such assistance as be deems necessary, disperse any meeting which he has reasonable grounds for believing to be an unlawful meeting as aforesaid.
Here comes the “ Crow-bar Brigade,” an outrage borrowed from the experience of the country from which Mr. Irvine claims to come - the men who used to tumble the people out of their homes while their breakfast was still being prepared in the pots -
Where any meeting (not being a public meeting, lecture, concert, or entertainment, or service to which the public have access by payment of money or otherwise) is held in a building or premises, or on any land, and any officer or sergeant as aforesaid has reason to believe–
Good old “ reason to believe “ - the same is an unlawful meeting as aforesaid, he many demand or endeavour to obtain entrance into such building, premises, or land at any time when such meeting is being held, and if admittance be refused or delayed and cannot be otherwise readily obtained, he may, with such assistance as aforesaid, use such force as may be required by breaking doors or otherwise for making such entry, and where necessary he may also so enter any neighbouring or adjoining building, premises, or land in order to obtain access to the buildings, premises, or land where he believes any such meeting is being held, or about to be held. Where at least four strikers are present at any meeting, such meeting shall, unless proof to the contrary to be shown by persons present thereat, be deemed and taken to be an unlawful meeting.
I will quote another clause which penalizes the practice for which Mr. Irvine’s uncle went to gaol, and against which he continually thundered -
In order to disperse an unlawful meeting, the said officer or sergeant of police shall attend such meeting and order its dispersal forthwith ; and any person at the meeting who does not disperse and depart therefrom within five minutes after such order may be arrested, either with or without warrant, by any member of the police force.
Where is British liberty, where is Magna Charta, where is the Englishman’s home, in the face of that action of the Victorian Government a few years ago? Let me quote clause 10, which embodies another extraordinary reversal of the practice pursued by Courts of Justice -
In any prosecution for an offence against this Act, a witness shall not, in any Court or before any Justices, be excused from answering any question on the ground that his answer may incriminate, or tend to incriminate, himself.
A witness who answers truly all questions he is by this section required to answer shall receive from the Court a certificate stating that he has so answered, and such certificate shall be a bar to alt criminal proceedings against such witness in respect to any offence, not being a felony, as to which he has been examined. Here we find the informer encouraged. He could betray those with whom he had been associated, and escape punishment himself. I think I have disfigured and blotted the pages of Hansard by sufficient quotations from this extraordinary measure to create reason for apologizing for placing on record the proposals made by the Victorian Government a few years ago. But the same sort of thing is quite likely to happen in the future.
– Oh, no.
– The only light that can guide our feet is the experience of the past. In Victoria, the “Englishman’s home” was dishonoured, the informer was encouraged, the practices of the Courts of Law were set at naught, trade and commerce were completely disorganized and brought to a standstill, and the most repressive means of coercion were resorted to by the Government. I want to prevent the happening of such things again by making these amendments of the Constitution. I make these references to warn the people as to what may happen in the future. The railway system of Australia to-day links up one part of the country with another and the trade and commerce conducted by its means is all part and parcel of one whole. The railways are an indispensable factor in dealing with trade and commerce and if one State Government chose to do what the Victorian Government did a few years ago, the trade of the country would be paralyzed. We should surely be blind to our true interests if we did not institute means of preventing the recurrence of such a state of things. But that can only be done by granting the Federal Government the powers asked for.
I wish to say a word about the work of the Federal Arbitration Court. It has granted fifteen awards, and 214 industrial agreements have been registered under it. By means of awards and agreements combined, the affairs of no fewer than 105,000 employes have been regulated, and the whole of them are working peacefully to-day. There have been no strikes in connexion with the awards and industrial agreements of the Federal Arbitration Court. It has smoothed the path of the industrial chariot, and brought employer and employ6 more closely together, notwithstanding the serious curtailments of its power which have been brought about by the action of the High Court. Let me mention some of the directions in which the High Court has restricted the usefulness of the Arbitration Court. There is, first, the common rule. The Arbitration Court cannot fix a common rule, whilst the State Courts can do so. . Secondly, there is the power to fix the wages of apprentices. The Federal Arbitration Court cannot fix them. The State Courts can do so, having unlimited power in that respect. Again, the Federal Arbitration Court reduced the length of the working week of the employes at the Port Pirie smelters from seven days to six. State Courts could have done so, but the High Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Court could not. The Port Pirie smelters have to work seven days, instead of six, owing to the limitations of the Constitution. These are samples of the hobbles in which the Federal Arbitration Court has been struggling, owing to the extraordinary action of the High Court. I will not refer to what has been said by the President of the Court, except to indicate that its records speak for themselves. I believe that we shall enter upon an extended area of industrial peace if we can only secure the increased industrial powers asked for by these referenda proposals.
I wish to say a word or two as to the warnings afforded by other countries in regard to the actions of monopolists. In Free- Trade England there are no fewer than fifteen combinations in existence, including the tobacco combine. As to what is happening in connexion with the social life of the Britisher of to-day, the fol- lowing is a passage which I have taken from Mr. Lloyd’s Lords of Industry -
Dr. Drysdale, of London, at the last session of the Social Science Congress, pointed out how the death-rate rose with the scarcity of food. The mean age of the rich in England at time of death is 55 ; among the poor it is not 30.
So that the rich live longer, while the poor die at an early age. They have a chance of going out of this vale of tears much sooner than the rich. The death rate amongst the children of the comfortable classes is eighty per 1,000 ; whilst, amongst the cHildren of working people, .in Manchester and Liverpool, it is 300 per 1,000. Dr. Farr has shown that the death rate of England decreases 3 per cent, when wheat declines in price 2s. per bushel. As food grows dearer, typhus becomes more plentiful, and a scarcity of food creates crime. Professor Le Resignola, in his Trusts in America, writes as follows, concerning conditions in the United States -
One-half the material wealth of the United States of America belongs to 200,000 families, or 1,000,000 persons, while the other half belongs to 77,000,000 people.
So that 77 millions of the people have to scramble for one-half of the wealth of the nation, whilst the other half is enjoyed by the remainder. Surely that is not a healthy state of affairs. It has been brought about by the evils that have taken such deep root in America, and which we are trying to prevent by these proposals. What has happened in Germany? The following is the opinion of Mr. Dawson, in his work The Evolution of Modern Germany - “ Never before,” wrote the Austrian Consul in Berlin to his Government in 1906, “ was economic Germany so entirely under the absolute rule of a group of men, barely fifty in number; in no former period of industrial expansion was the old formula of * the free-play of forces ‘ abandoned to such a degree as in 1906, when the momentous decisions as to the extent of production, sales abroad, prices, the granting of credit, the raising of new capital, and the fixing of wages and rates of interest lay in the hands of a few persons found at the head of the large banks, mammoth industrial undertakings and great cartels. The lion’s share of the industrial boom has fallen to these great combinations of interests, whose gains have been the larger the more their industries were ruled by syndicates.”
It would take too long to refer to the incipient evils existing in this country, which we hope to cure by means of this policy. It will suffice to say that the same tendencies of the time are making themselves evident iia Australia, as is the case in other countries of the world. Take the report of the Wheat Commission, appointed by the South Australian Government only four years ago, That Commission found, as Senator Shannon is aware, that, owing to the cornering of prices, and the bringing about of “honorable understandings,” the price per bushel was reduced by ‘2d. all round. Taking the products of South Australia for the year with which the report deals, we can say that those manipulators of the wheat market robbed the producers of the State of no less than ,£166,000. Honorable senators opposite can laugh, but what do the people think who were robbed of this money ? What about the men out in the wilds with broken boots and broken hearts? Senator Fraser can afford to laugh because he is in the lap of luxury. But I speak as one who knows these troubles intimately. I know that it is no laughing matter for men who have to earn a bare living on scanty food, and who work with blighted eyes and blighted hopes in the distant parts of this country. They have been robbed systematically by that gang of thieves, the wheat-buyers of South Australia. I say that they are hypocritical who will not give us the power to deal with evils which result in the wholesale robbery of our farmers. The manufacturers of harvesters- abroad have entered into a combination with the local manufacturers to charge certain prices, with the result that the farmer now has to pay j£i8 more than previously for a machine. The farmers are being robbed wholesale by the manufacturers’ combine. Being the son of a farmer. I know that the farmers are robbed consistently by these highway raiders, who are everywhere in the field of commerce. When the farmer sends his wheat to market he finds that the price is ruled by world-wide competition, or else by some combine that is operating to his disadvantage. On the other hand, in respect to everything he requires, he has to pay prices which are regulated by halfadozen men sitting in an office in one of the big metropolitan centres. He sells at prices which are fixed by competition, but has to buy at prices fixed by combines which claim to be his friends, but which are piling up the burdens on him all the time. We are endeavouring to save this young Commonwealth from treading in the false steps of other communities. We are endeavouring to protect the people against the monopolies that have already driven their roots into the soil of Australia - as the Victorian Premier, Mr. Watt, has admitted. We want to cut off these roots, and the only means by which we can do so is by strengthening the central Government in the direction indicated by these proposals.
What have these monopolists done ? Even now they are turning round and biting the hand which fed them. In- every civilized country monopolists have flourished under the protection of the Government, and have invariably turned round and rended those who have supported them. We can see in our forests something which will serve to illustrate the methods of the combines. Take the case of the banyan tree. That tree is raised from a seed which is borne aloft by birds and deposited in some hollow recess of a forest monarch. By-and-by the seed germinates and the young plant obtains a foothold and gradually spreads its root downwards along the stem of its supporter which is providing sustenance and fostering it. Eventually it reaches the earth, and its roots soon become embedded in the soil. The plant continues to grow, and eventually surrounds its once lordly supporter, and gradually twists and squeezes the life blood out of it. Monopolies are growing under the shelter and protection of our Government institutions, and by virtue of the security they enjoy, and once they become entrenched they will inevitably squeeze and crush the life blood out of the community. It is in order to prevent the development of this evil, and the dire consequences that will inevitably follow unless it is curbed, that we are asking for these additional powers. We should be wise in our generation, and do everything we can to escape the evils which have overwhelmed other countries. We have here a glorious heritage to preserve. Our lands extend over an immense area, and our resources cannot be questioned. Settlement has merely touched the fringe of our heritage, and not a drop of blood has been spilt to secure the inestimable liberty we enjoy. Those who know Australia, and have wandered through its vast expanses, have learnt to love even its dry and barren wastes. We have also learnt to appreciate the immense resources of our fertile plains and dense forest areas. We have learnt to appreciate the priceless heritage that has been given to us, and the liberty we enjoy, and we should be foolish in the extreme if we did not take steps to prevent this overshadowing evil from destroying us. We have a land that is worth being lived for, as it is worth .dying for, and we should do everything possible to maintain our standard of living and improved social conditions. One of the means to this end is enlarged powers for the central authority, so that it may effectively cope with the evils which threaten us. If we do this, we shall act wisely ; if we fail, we shall pay the penalty of our folly.
– We have been listening for some time here and in another place to debates on the series of Bills over which, as we know, this Parliament does not exercise complete control, but with respect to which we shall all agree that this Parliament is called upon to act in something like an advisory capacity. These Bills, after they have received the approval of this Parliament, will have to be submitted both to the people and the States, and, for this reason, I would remind honorable members that we are practically acting now in our advisory capacity. On this account, I shall be very brief in my remarks with regard to any or all of the Bills that are being submitted to us. There are other reasons, I might mention, probably without offence, one of these being the fact that there is not the slightest chance of affecting the decisions of this House, or of the other Chamber. In this connexion, I would recall something I have heard this morning, and at other stages of this debate, with regard to the change of mind on the part of some honorable senators on this side. I am bound to admit that there are, on. this side, honorable senators who have occasionally shown themselves so lacking in political acumen as to be unable to realize that the majority of their own party represent absolute infallibility. I cannot make that” accusation against honorable senators opposite. The infallibility of the majority of the Labour party was at first a thing to be wondered at, but now we have become accustomed to it.
– There have been more divisions of the voting power on this side than on the other side.
– Probably so, but those divisions have taken place, not in this Chamber, but somewhere else.
– I mean in this Chamber.
– The honorable senator is referring to matters of minor im portance. There has been no split among honorable senators opposite in regard to any matter of importance.
– I am talking about divisions generally.
– It is easy to make divisions about trivial and unimportant subjects, but in regard to all matters which we regard as important the unanimity of honorable senators opposite has been remarkable. There are other reasons why I do not intend to speak at length. In common with other honorable senators, 1 had an opportunity of listening to the speech delivered by Senator Millen, which, for close logical reasoning and the strength of its destructive criticism, was superior to any speech I have heard in this Parliament. This is another reason why I should not venture to address myself to the subject at any great length. But the main reason I have is that these matters will have to be decided elsewhere. If I have any regret in connexion with this debate, it is in regard to the fact that neither the VicePresident of the Executive Council nor the Minister of Defence, has explained in a lucid way, and seriatim, the meaning of these proposals. If these debates are to be worth anything as a record, or as a means of conveying information to the public outside, it would have been of advantage if some one on the Government side had indicated the exact nature of the proposals. The average elector will not be able to grasp the meaning of these proposals, or to locate the specific sphere of action intended to be covered by the respective Bills. I have found some difficulty in arriving at an understanding of their scope. Taking them briefly, the first Bill is that which, for the sake of better distinction, is termed “ the Trade and Commerce Bill.” To me, this seems to involve the policy of the new Protection, as we know it, including, incidentally, the question of fixing prices. Then there is the Railway Disputes Bill. We all know what that means. It represents the desire of the Government to bring within the purview of our Federal Arbitration Court the railway servants who are in the employment of the various States. It means other things too, but that is the predominant object. The third is called the Trusts Bill. I do not wish to invite criticism or rejoinder when I say that the measure is regarded as a substitute for the Anti-Trust Bill which this Parliament passed in 1910. My opinion regarding this measure is that it is quite unnecessary. I believe, as I said here two or three years ago, that the last Anti-Trust Bill we passed is adequate for the purpose. In spite of the decision recently given by the High Court, I adhere to that opinion.
– That is a strange view to express. The High Court expressed a very different opinion.
– No. Very unfortunately, as I think, the High Court was not invited to decide the case on the basis of our most recent Anti-Trust legislation, and as we all know, there was a very strong and justifiable reason why we should amend the Act. No one was more interested in the amendment than I was, personally.
– To which case are you referring - that of the Vend ?
– Yes. No one was more disappointed than I was that the proceedings recently instituted were not laid under the amending Act.
– That case was initiated by our predecessors.
– The honorable senator will drag in party matters, even when I want to leave them alone.
– This is not a party matter.
– I am dealing solely with facts, and I do not care which Government instituted the proceedings, because that is wholly irrelevant to my present argument. I merely stated what is known to be a fact, and that is, that the recent proceedings against the Coal Vend and Shipping Combine were instituted under the Anti-Trust Act of 1906, and that we had no opportunity of testing the virtue and the validity of our most recent legislation.
– It would have been a retrospective action if we had proceeded under the later Act.
– I can assure the honorable senator that it would have been perfectly easy for the Commonwealth authorities to take proceedings de novo.
– And collect evidence afresh ? .
– I do not believe that it would have been necessary to collect fresh evidence. It would have been quite easy for the Government to start the Amending Act in full operation with regard to the Coal Vend and Shipping Combine.
However, that was not done. I do not wish to elaborate that argument, but it is my opinion that the Trusts Bill is, so far as any member of this Parliament knows, quite unnecessary, because we have not yet given the amending Anti-Trust Act a trial.
– That is what you said at the last campaign - that the 1906 Act covered the case.
– I did not.
– If you did not, your party did.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is quite justified in making that statement, because I can assure him that many of us who approved of the intentions of the measure openly expressed ourselves doubtful as to whether it went far enough. Even with Senator Gardiner’s opportunities to criticise measures in Committee, he will find that many a measure passed while he is here will be found in the light of subsequent development to require amendment. That happenedin this case. The grievance I feel is that we have been deprived of an opportunity of testing the. amending Act. I now come to the Industrial Matters Bill. So far as I can offer an epitome of the measure, it seems to me to represent the desire of this Government to have arbitration without causing a dispute to spread beyond a State. I can see nothing else in the proposal. I know that the Government resent the idea that a dispute has to extend from one State to another before it can be brought under the purview of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I also know that one of the effects of that Court has undoubtedly been to promote and encourage the spread of industrial disputes.
– No measure that we might have passed could have been more fruitful in that respect than has been our Arbitration Act.
– It has done more good than any Arbitration Court ever instituted.
– Again the honorable senator wishes to refer to a matter to which I have made no reference. I have said deliberately that I do not care at present to discuss the value of the Arbitration Act, but I can say, without fear of successful contradiction, that one of the vices of that Act has been the spread of industrial disputes. Dozens and dozens of disputes have been deliberately spread from one
State to another - and by this remark, I do not necessarily make an accusation against any one concerned - in order that the question in dispute might be referred to the Federal Arbitration Court. Personally I think it is a good thing-
– It is a good argument for altering the Constitution.
– I do not think so-
– It is because of the existence of the Act.
– Many a dispute in the Commonwealth has been made to spread from one State to another in order that a decision might be obtained from the Federal Arbitration Court.
– Do you not think that the Bill will prevent the spread of disputes as well as restrain them ?
– I can quite understand that if a man’s head is cut off he is prevented from suffering further disease, but I do not think that the remedy in that case, any more than in this case, is a desirable one.
– Will not the Judges keep the dispute Intra-State instead of making it Inter- Sta te?
– I vastly prefer the legislation of the State, and especially do 1 prefer the operation of Wages Boards, as we have known and tested them in Australia, to the operations of the Federal Arbitration Court.
– Yes, and the Legislative Council of our State refused to the clerks a Wages Board.
– I think that Senator Ready, and others too, might find some fresh grievance. We have heard a good deal about the Legislative Councils.
– It is a very substantial grievance.
– I do not think it is substantia] at all. ‘I am not going to be drawn aside, but I confess to a little weariness whenever I hear the phrase “ Legislative Council.” Another amendment of the Constitution is called the Corporations Bill. It is a strange measure. I admit that there might be some good material discovered in the Bill if it were altered in scope. I do not think that any honorable senator who knows even a little bit about company laws and company matters in Australia would be prepared readily to deny that the Federal Parliament might perhaps improve, even when it made uniform in this particular matter, our company legislation.
– The mere uniformity would be an improvement.
– Not necessarily. I am not going to tie myself to the tail of uniformity.
– You only have confusion while there are six sets of laws in regard to one subject.
– I am prepared to admit that it might be desirable for this Parliament to frame a company law if it were limited to the inception and the end of companies. But this proposal goes very much farther.
– You would only control the operations of a company at the beginning and the finish?
– Undoubtedly, because I do not want a Federal law for the operations of a company between the date of its birth and its dissolution. I think that, inasmuch as every company would be carrying on its operations, which are complex in their nature, within the confines of a State-
– Not necessarily. It is quite conceivable that a company might be carrying on operations in other States.
–Yes ; but since a vast number do carry on most of their operations within the confines of a State, I believe that the State ought to regulate those operations. No explanation is needed as to the last referenda Bill. It is an open and clear declaration for an ordinary elector to understand; and it is a declaration in favour of nationalization. I should say that the Bill represents the efforts of the party in office to provide the machinery and to supply the means for giving effect to some of the most prominent planks in their platform. With that statement I do not suppose that any one could quarrel. I have heard the remark that there are honorable senators on this side who are opposing these referenda proposals, first, because they originated with the Labour party, and secondly, because they contemplate that the Labour party will have the administration of them.
– That is what Mr. Irvine said.
– I have no particular man in my mind, but I have heard the argument used in the Senate. I was not referring to anything which happened elsewhere. May I ask the members of the Government party to consider whether there is anything strange in that opposition? Speaking entirely for myself, if all these Bills were accepted by the people not one of them would be of any use to me. So far as my political views go I do not think there is any necessity for a single one of them - excepting, perhaps, the trivial and unimportant reference I made just now to a common company law, though I think that that end might be attained by other means. If I and other members of this party think that, from our point of view, these referenda proposals are of no value, it surely cannot be considered strange that we should oppose them. On the other hand we know that they represent the machinery and the means by which the Labour party hope to go on with legislation. I venture to say that the opportunities for showing to the people of Australia the beneficial results of their power are being rapidly curtailed - have practically, I think, from their own point of view, come to an end.
– We have a lot to do yet.
– We a,ll know the subject to which Senator Stewart refers, but I feel sure that he is not going to bring that matter into this debate. Perhaps, with the exception of the honorable senator, the Labour party generally recognise that the limit of their operations has been reached.
– Do you think that these proposals, if agreed to, will endow the Labour party or the National Parliament ?
– The Labour party originated these referenda Bills, and unless the Bills are carried by the people and the States - they will find, I think, that ‘the limit of their beneficial dispensation of power, and control of legislation, has about come to an end.
– There are ‘several other ways of accomplishing the same object.
– I think that the Labour party have unanimously decided that this is the chief way. One regret I have is that Ministers, neither here nor in the other House, have not ventured to say that at the next elections they are going to stand or fall 6*y these referenda proposals, nor do I think for one moment that they will. They will, however, be placed in this position : If they fail to carry these referenda proposals, they will be forced to admit in- this Parliament, and to the pub-, lie, that the desirability of. their continuing any longer in office, and in control of the affairs of the Commonwealth, will have been seriously questioned. They will be forced to admit that there is not much good that they can do by remaining longer in office. I am certain, however, that they will not say, “ As the Constitution imposes such limits upon us, we decline to carry on any longer.” They will not say to honorable senators on this side, “ If you believe that under this limited and circumscribed Constitution you can manage the affairs of Australia for the good of the people, you can come and do it.”
– Does the honorable senator not admit that if the Labour party go to the people at the same time as they refer these proposals to them, they will be staking their political existence upon them? Will they not show their courage when they put the two issues before the people at the same time?
– Order ! Senator Givens will have an opportunity to speak if he pleases.
– I do not propose to take advantage of it.
– I do “not think that if the honorable senator took advantage of his opportunity to speak for two hours, he could say anything that would please me more than his interjection. He has asked me whether I do not recognise that by going to the country at the time when these proposals are submitted to the people, the Labour party are going to stake their politcal existence on the fate of the proposals ?
– No, that is not what the honorable senator said.
– It is what Senator Givens said. I do not ask Senator Needham to say it. -
– I say that we shall’ be taking all the risks.
– The remark was so recent that I could not have forgotten it, and Senator Givens will agree that I did not misquote hin. In answer, I have only to say that I should be very glad if the Vice-President pf the Executive Council, or any one holding a responsible position in another place, would say the same thing. I am perfectly sure they will not. The debate on these referenda proposals has supplied a statement of the desires, motives, and main objects of the Labour party should they continue to control the affairs of the Commonwealth; but I regret to say that during the course of it we have had, in the Senate, several expressions of opinion which I think had much better have been left unsaid. T say this without any party feeling whatever. I should not for a moment think of making partly political capital of some of the words used by Senator McGregor, but, speaking purely as a member of the Senate, I say that it is extremely regrettable that any one holding the position of Leader of the Senate should have given expression to such views. Those of us who are mere .privates of the army do occasionally use words which in cooler moments we should like to recall, but I say that upon the Leader of the Senate, to whichever party he belongs, devolves a much greater responsibility. It is very regrettable indeed that Senator McGregor should have used the terms he did about the High Court.
– I say ,what I think.
– I propose to tell the honorable senator what he said. I hope he did not think it If so, the honorable senator has said things which he ought not to have thought. We have a means open to us of attacking the Judges of the High Court. Senator McGregor knows the procedure, and I say that unless a member of the Senate is prepared to adopt that procedure in dealing with any person who holds a position on the High Court Bench he should refrain from intermediary criticism. It is regrettable that Senator McGregor, speaking as Leader of the Senate, should give expression to such opinions concerning Judges of the High Court.
– I do not attribute infallibility to the High Court.
– I am not asking the honorable senator to do that, but I am asking him not to think, or, if he cannot avoid that, not to give public expression to remarks like these as applied to Justices of the High Court -
They keep as much poorer from the Commonwealth as they can, and allow the States to retain as much power as possible.
That is a” criticism which went, perhaps, quite as far as it should, but subsequently the honorable senator went a great deal further than that. In reply to the interjection, “ Surely you are asserting that the
High Court represents the little Australian ideal?” the honorable senator said -
Up to the present time the majority of the High Court has done so, because every member of the Bench does not interpret the Constitution in the same direction.
The term “ Little Australian “ is a term of contempt, and I venture to say that of all the men who have occupied public positions in the Commonwealth, the members of the High Court bench are absolutely the last against whom that accusation should have been hurled by a member of this Parliament. That is a. statement which Senator McGregor should have been the last man to make.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from Hansard for this session ?
– I am quoting from Senator McGregor’s speech in introducing this Bill only the other day. If Senator Russell had done the honorable senator the honour of listening to his remarks his attention would have been arrested by them. Hearing them now, the remarks appear not to have excited in his mind any need for comment, but I venture to say that they will give rise to> comment outside this Parliament, and will be denounced by many persons who are accustomed to support the Labour party.
– On a point of order I wish to ask, sir, it the honorable senator is iri order in quoting from Hansard debates of the current session. I believe that the right to do so has beer* refused on other occasions.
– No; the honorable senator is perfectly justified in quoting from Hansard, for this session, anything which has been said during the debate on the matter before the Chair.
– There is only te little misunderstanding between the honorable senators.
– Then it is Senator Russell’s misunderstanding. I did notcreate it.
– I do notapologize.
– I am not askingfor an apology ; it is the last thing I want. Tn the same speech, and referring to aparticular Judge, Senator McGregor said -
When it was referred to the High Court, al- - though he was then a member of Hie Bench, even he. with all his ability and astuteness, was not able to convince those who had shown themselves from the very beginning to be State - Righters to the very backbone.
– Quite right !
– The honorable senator was asked by interjection, “ Are you referring to the other members of the High Court Bench?” and he went on to say -
Yes; is there any harm in saying that? . . . 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 not evidence of the State Rights mania, I do not know what is.
– It is all true.
– The honorable senator will not make his position any better in the eyes of the Senate, or of the members of his party, by reiterating his assertions of the truth of his accusation that the members of the High Court Bench, who disagree with the tenets of the Labour party, are victims of the State rights mania.
– That is not what the honorable senator said. Senator Clemons has interpolated the reference to disagreement with the tenets of the Labour party.
– Then I did something which was quite unnecessary. Certainly, Senator Rae did not require that I should interpolate it in order to describe it properly. I have finished these references to Senator McGregor, and I now desire to say that, so far as I am concerned, I shall do my utmost during the coming elections to induce the people and the States of Australia to reject these referenda proposals.
– The honorable senator could not remain in his party if he did not.
– Oh, I think I could. I have never heard from my party any suggestion of a. threat in the matter. What is Senator Rae thinking of?
– The pressure is there all the same.
– I can assure Senator Rae I have not been submitted to it so far. I assure him also that I speak with sympathy after hearing his interjection. It is possible for some persons who have never suffered a particular pain to express the fullest sympathy with those who have done so, and I express the fullest sympathy with Senator Rae.
Sitting suspended from12.57to2.30p.m
– I desire to approach this matter as calmly and dispassionately as I possibly can. We all recognise the impor tance of the subjects brought before us in these various Bills, which are to be referred to the people for confirmation or otherwise next year. A good deal depends upon the view-point from which they are regarded. We have established in Australia a Government national in its. character, and supreme with respect to all matters referred to in section 51 of the Constitution. We have also in Australia States which are supreme within their own ambit, and endowed with sovereign power to pass any legislation they please that does not interfere with the legislation of the Commonwealth. In all Governments, in Australia or abroad, the spirit of devolution is manifested. For instance, the States of Australia endow with considerable powers of self -government such bodies as municipal corporations, shire councils, district councils, and boards of health. That policy is pursued because it induces a spirit of responsibility on the part of the citizens themselves, creates a deeper interest in public affairs, and leads to the advancement of the best interests of the whole community. The idea of decentralization is favoured nowadays because it makes for good citizenship. Senator Russell observed that if this idea be followed to its logical end, it leads to the self-government of the individual. I admit that. It is well that it should be so. because, if an individual can govern and control himself, he is better able to assist in the government of his country. In Great Britain, affairs are moving in the direction of decentralization all the time. There are demands for Home Rule for Ireland, for Wales, and for Scotland. It is felt, as Senator Lynch showed, that the national Parliament is overburdened, and that it is necessary that subsidiary bodies should have referred to them various matters for legislation and decision. Here, however, the tendency is manifested to commit to the central Government all sorts of subjects for legislation which can be better managed by the States themselves. I do not for a moment say that the Constitution of Australia is a sacred thing. It is not a fetish. It may be altered to suit the will of the people. But when appeals are made to the people to alter the Constitution, those who make them should advance good and sound reasons.
– That is what we are doing.
– That is a matter of opinion. At any rate, I have not heard sufficient reasons for the adoption of the most important of these proposals. They were submitted to the people last year, and emphatically declined. I do not say that the Government have not the right to put the questions to the test again, although I do think that to put them again within two years after the previous decision is rather to discount the intelligence of the people by supposing that they will so soon have changed their minds.
– There are enough new voters to reverse the previous decision if they all vote one way.
– That may be a very good reason for submitting the proposals to the people again. I am not complaining because the Government see fit to adopt that course. The sooner a decision is arrived at, and the question settled, the better. But these alterations do not seem to me to be necessary from a national point of view. The demand is altogether sectional. One party, and one only, asks for them. The people generally have not expressed in any way whatever a wish that these proposals should be resubmitted.
– Have not many prominent members of the honorable senator’s own party said that some of these proposed alterations are essential?
– Some, yes; and we said so at the last referenda. We said that if it were necessary to give the Federal Parliament further powers in dealing with trusts and combines we were prepared to do so. But my point is that there has been no general demand for these wholesale alterations of the Constitution. The policy is put forward by the Labour party, and the consideration which weighs with them is not “ Will these alterations be in the best interests of the whole people,” but “ Will they be in the interests of our party.” That such is the attitude of the party I gather from the proceedings of the Labour Conference. Mr. Minahan said at one of these gatherings -
The Conference was the parliament of the Labour movement, because the policy they decided there must ultimately become the law under which the whole of the people would live if they were to retain their majorities in Parliament. Their powers and responsibilities were greater than those of the pledged representatives, for the Conference could make and unmake politics, while their elected pledged representatives of the people had to confine their duties to putting the policy of the Conference before the people, elaborating it, and voting for it in the Parliament of the country.
In other words, the members of the Labour party in this Parliament are simply here as the delegates of that conference. The conference directs their work, issues instructions to them, says, “ Carry out this programme.”
– Does not the honorable senator’s party do the same?
– We do not have dictation from any old woman’s league, anyhow.
– The honorable senator would make a very good member of an old woman’s league. He would be quite an ornament to such a body. I am surprised that he has not been secured for the purpose. They might hold him up as a bright example. These proposals, I say again, have been put forward because the Labour Conference instructed the party that they should be re-submitted.
– They were brought forward before the Labour Conference decided.
– That is right; but at the last Labour Conference held in Hobart in January, of this year, this matter formed plank No. 3 of the platform.
– The Conference merely indorsed what we had already done.
– If the policy was not on the platform previously, it is there now, and the Labour party are here with instructions to do all they possibly can to see that these measures are put on the statute-book.
– That is right.
– Such were the instructions given .by that secret Conference, which consisted of six representatives from each State.
– There was no secrecy about it. It was all public. I will give the honorable senator a copy of the report.
– I have one.
– Then why make the statement that it was secret?
– I said that the conference was held in secret.
– I say that it was not. It was not secret, merely because the honorable senator was not therc.1
– Was the press admitted ?
– All the truthful press.
– If the section that was admitted was the truthful press, God help us, and keep us away from any section that was less truthful. I want to let the people of Australia know whence this policy originated. I do not think that the public generally are aware that it is simply a sectional policy, put forward merely to advance the interests of one party.
– How can the honorable senator say that the policy originated with the Labour Conference when he has already admitted that it was submitted to the people nine months before the conference was held?
– I say that item 3 of the platform forms an instruction to this party.
– No instruction from that Conference could have any effect at all until the next Parliament.
– The referenda proposals were defeated last year, and were cleared out of the way. They remained out of the way until the Labour Conference again put them on the party’s platform, and declared that they should be submitted to the people again.
– That platform was formulated for the next Parliament ; not for this one.
– Then I cannot understand why these Bills have been submited to this Parliament. Why could they not have been held over until the next one? I have a copy of the report of the proceedings.
– I thought the honorable senator said that it was a secret Conference.
– I said the proposals were discussed in secret, and the honorable senator has admitted that only one section of the press was allowed to be present.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator forgets that through the medium of the newspaper in which a full report was printed, the whole of the proceedings were made public.
– That is to say the other newspapers might copy the report if they chose. But they had no right to send their own representatives to the conference.
– No; because they could not be trusted.
– The bare decisions of the Conference do not show what is in the minds of members of the Labour party, and the class of legislation to which they look forward. For instance, I see that Mr. Watson moved the following motion on behalf of the Cobar branch -
That the Inter-State Conference immediately take into consideration the remodelling of the whole of the Federal Constitution, with a view to the abolition of the High Court and the State Governments and Parliaments as at present existing, and the transfer of their property and powers to the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Mr. Watson moved this motion pro forma, and it was defeated on the voices. Other motions were also brought forward and defeated, and I look on these motions as showing the way the current is tending. A straw shows how the stream is flowing, and these motions make me most suspicious as to the ultimate aim of the proposals now before us.
– If the motions were defeated on the voices, they show that the current is running the other way.
– I admit that the Conference did not uphold the view of the Cobar branch, but the motion stands as the expression of the views of the branch.
– When the Liberal Conference carried a programme, the honorable senator disowned it.
– That is absolutely untrue. The programme of that Conference was printed, and it stands to-day. Some of the newspapers declared that it was the fighting programme of that party, but they never made a greater mistake, because the Conference never adopted a fighting platform.
– What did Mr. Irvine say about that platform?
– Mr. Irvine is quite capable of answering for himself.
– There was too much of the springboard in your platform.
– The honorable senator is chained down too closely to have any spring in him. Senator Lynch said that the Conference decided against Unification. So it did, but I maintain that the whole of these proposals tend towards Unification, and nothing else, and if they are carried, others will follow.
– They will merely tend: to secure effective Federation.
– That sounds very well, but it is effective only from the point of view of the Labour platform.
– That is a broad and liberal platform.
– The Labour party never had a broad and liberal platform. They are the most conservative and reactionary party in Australia. They fight for their own hand all the time, and they want these proposals to be carried, because they think they will advance the interests of the Labour party. We have a Federation, and I intend to stand by it until I am satisfied that the Occasion has arisen for making a change.
The first of the proposals before us has reference to trade and commerce. The Constitution now gives the Commonwealth power over “ trade and commerce with foreign countries, or among the States,” and it is proposed to strike out certain words with a view of very much enlarging the powers of the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, it is desired to obtain control over the whole of the trade and commerce of the Commonwealth. Trade is the medium or pathway of commerce, and commerce, as I understand it, embraces every particle of business that can be carried on - the buying and selling of every article, wholesale or retail, from a button to a battleship. It governs all forms of transportation by land, river, lake, or sea, and embraces every means of transportation from the handbarrow of the costermonger to the big ocean liner. Nothing is omitted from the scope of the present proposals, which are intended to cover the whole field of trade and commerce. At present the control of trade within the States is left to the States themselves, and that is a very wise arrangement, which has worked well. Why should these larger powers be granted? When the Constitution was adopted the powers of the Commonwealth with regard to trade and commerce were limited, and certain control was left in the hands of the States, because within out vast area of over 3,250,000 square miles mainly undeveloped, and with varying conditions of climate and population local interests can be more efficiently controlled by the States than by the Commonwealth Parliament. It would be impossible to centre the whole government of the Commonwealth in one place. Are the conditions the same at Adelaide and Port Darwin? Are the conditions in the East the same as in the West?
– In some things yes,” and in some things “no.”
– That is a very good answer. It is because the answer is “ no “ in regard to a great many things that certain powers have been left in the hands of the States, which are best able to develop their own resources and control their own trade and commerce. It must be admitted that centralization leads to loss of interest and indifference, and that it is much better to leave the local Parliaments to look after the affairs in their respective States, and to carry on their work directly under the eyes of their own people. The present arrangement is ideal, and works well.
– Do you think it cannot be improved?
-No. I think even the honorable senator could be improved upon. From the time the Commonwealth was established, the Labour party have been endeavouring to strain’ the Constitution in one direction only. Nearly everything has been looked at from the industrial point of view.
– The other side have tried to narrow down the Constitution.
– You cannot narrow down that which is strictly defined. We appointed the High Court to interpret the Constitution, and if there is any narrowing or extending to be done that body is the proper authority to refer to.
– Only one body can broaden or narrow the Constitution, and that is the people of Australia.
– Yes, but the interpretation of the Constitution must be left to the High Court, which was constituted for that purpose.
– You would not give the people a chance to exercise their choice in the matter.
– They will have their chance, but I am endeavouring to indicate what the Labour party want.
– What Parliament wants.
– It cannot be what Parliament wants, when there is a large majority against the proposals.
– Anything done by the majority is done by the Parliament.
– We will say that the majority are in favour of these proposals - I do not quarrel with that proposition. I submit that every effort to amend or strain the Constitution on the part of the Labour party has been made with the object of securing advantage for their own side only. The AttorneyGeneral does not object to large combinations in trade and commerce, but, on the other hand, thinks they are very good in certain cases. Addressing the Victorian Railway Workers ‘Union, he said -
He had always been a believer in big unions and not little ones. He was secretary of the Waterside Workers’ Association, which included the whole of the waterside workers of, Australia. He thought those workers had been the better for that organization. The tendency industrially and commercially was for affairs to be controlled by men acting in combination. Many people regarded that policy as being an unmitigated evil. On the other hand, he looked upon it with satisfaction.
Later, speaking of co-operation, he said -
To-day competition was being killed because competition meant not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the worst, and it also meant death to all legitimate trade. Combination was now necessary for production and for the salvation of trade.
Again, he said -
Tn ten years’ time this combination would have arrived at a pitch where competition would have’ ceased. The waterside workers, for instance, had to deal with a shipping combine. They did not confer with individual shipping companies. They went to one man who spoke for the whole of the companies. He settled the matte 1. That was better than twenty branch unions dealing with twenty separate companies. There was one union conferring with one man, so he held that a big union was better than a small individual one - provided there were discipline.
Note the proviso. Further on, he said -
Twenty years ago they were like men walking in a wilderness. Now they had found their feet, and had achieved something. Solidarity had been the political salvation of the Labour party - so had the Caucus, because it had made for united action.
If that is good for one party, it cannot possibly be bad for another party. Still further on, the Attorney-General said -
The Government was now face to face with certain restrictions ‘which were very formidable. They were face to face with combinations in industry, manufacture, and production. They knew very well that prices of commodities had been raised sympathetically with the increase in wages. It was, therefore, perfectly clear that unless Parliament could regulate prices and profits the mere ability to regulate wages was of very little value. As long as the people who had the control of commodities raised the prices the workers were very little better off. Therefore, the Commonwealth Parliament would have to regulate prices and profits. They were the beginning and end of the whole thing. There was nothing else in :’. Bring down prices, profits, and rents, and everything else would come down’ with them.
The idea is to raise wages, bring down profits, and regulate prices. This idea of new
Protection was put out as the trump card of the Attorney-General on that occasion. To my mind, the old Protection has not yet had anything like a fair chance. No one is satisfied with the present Tariff. Free Traders affirm that there is too much revenue raised on articles which cannot be manufactured in Australia ; while the Protectionists declare that the duties are not sufficient to maintain the present industries and establish new ones. The Government have been approached over and over again to revise the Tariff - to do away with its anomalies, to make it more just in its working, and, as Senator Sayers says, more comprehensive. But what has been the reply? It has been simply a petulant refusal . because the new Protection has not yet been adopted. The Minister of Trade and Customs has said, “ We will not touch the Tariff until you carry the referenda proposals. Until you give us additional powers, we are not going to do anything in regard to a revision of the Tariff.”
– It is not anything petulant; it is a well-considered policy.
– I am glad to know that, because I feared that the Minister had petulantly replied on his own behalf. I now understand that it is a wellconsidered policy. Even Free Traders of the Labour party say “that they are going to have the referenda carried, and high Protection established, before they will do anything with the desired power. Protection was originally designed to put the local manufacturer on a level with the low-paid industries of other countries, and, of course, to pay fair wages to Australian workers.
– The old Protection enabled him - the new Protection will compel him.
– That remains to be seen. At all events, that was the idea of the old Protection, and that was the result of it.
– And that brought about sweating.
– It immediately led to legislation for the purpose of securing to the worker something like fair wages. Now we are to have the new Protection, a Protection which is going to enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to control wages, profits, prices, and rents. It is, I think, a quixotic proposal. I do not think it is capable of being carried out, at all events, to any great extent. I hold that it is not possible to fix the price of any of our primary products. We cannot fix the price of a pound of wool, or a bushel of grain, or dairy produce ; nor can we fix the price of silver, lead, copper, zinc, or other minerals. The prices of these articles are fixed outside the Commonwealth - in the markets of the world.
– What sweet simplicity.
– Any one who is familiar with commercial operations is aware that the prices of these articles are fixed in the competition of the world’s markets, and cannot be fixed in any other way. If it is possible to fix prices at all, it is when the articles have been manufactured, and are being retailed. Senator Millen has already referred to the difficulty of fixing the price of a loaf of bread because of the variations of the wheat market. The price of wheat may rise or fall, and therefore it is not possible to fix the price of bread.
– The price of the loaf does not go clown when the price of wheat goes down.
– Sometimes the price of the loaf does not go up.
– It does.
– What I mean is that if wheat goes up id. a bushel, the baker cannot put id. or Jd.’ on the price of the loaf. The rise in the price of wheat is often too infinitesimal to allow of a rise in the price of bread. It is only when the price of wheat has gone up to a considerable extent that the baker is able to make a difference in the price of his bread. Before the price of a pair of boots can be fixed, it will be necessary to fix the price of the hides and other materials used in the manufacture, and also the price of the leather itself. The same course would have to be taken in fixing the price of a suit of clothes. There has been a proposal made to put export duties on both food and clothing produced in Australia, but I want to know how it is intended to fix the profits? On what basis can that be done?
– On a little more humble basis than they have been soaring up to recently.
– I warrant that in any business in which Senator Rae is engaged, he is glad to make all the profit he can. I never knew of a man being in business simply for the fun of the thing. He is there to get as much out of it as he can do fairly and justly. There is a further difficulty in carrying out this proposal. One man who has an uptodate plant is able to produce more cheaply than can a man whose factory is not so well equipped. How is it proposed to deal with a case of this kind ? Is the higher man to come down, or is the lower , man to go up, or how is it intended to bring about an average? It is possible, I take it, to raise the cost of production, but it cannot be done without increasing the price to the consumer. However the Labour party may imagine that they are going to carry out this idea, they will find in the end, I think, that they have made a very great mistake. It is said that the Labour party do not propose to use all these powers if conferred on Parliament, and when they are asked to say what powers they are going to use, what legislation they intend to introduce, we cannot get a definite statement.
– You have power to pay your employes £i a week, but you do not do it.
– No ; I have not the power to do that.
– Yes, you have.
– If I enter into a* honorable agreement with the Typographical Union to pay certain wages, I pay them.
– You can pay more if you like. You have the power.
– I can pay more. I would not pay less if I had the opportunity.
– The whole point is that you would not be unfair and pay less . if you had the power.
– Of course not.
– You have the power to pay more, if you care to exercise it.
– If the Wages Board in my State does fix, as it has done, a minimum rate of wages for all the people engaged in the trade, I cannot pay anything less without violating the law.
– If you have the right to pay more, why should you not have the right to pay less.
– I do not want to pay less. The ‘Labour party say that they are not going to use all these powers, even if conferred, but when I try to find out what powers they intend to use, I cannot get an answer.
– The Labour party has not said anything of the kind.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will tell us the powers which are going to be exercised.
– Whatever powers the people confer on this Parliament by their votes.
– I take it that the Labour party do not know, and will not know, until they get their instructions from the Labour Conference. That is the body to decide which powers are to be used, and the Ministry will bring in proposals in that direction as soon as they get their instructions.
– Can you say how the powers we possess are exercised?
– It is incorrect to state that this Parliament will not act until it is instructed by a Labour Conference.
– Which Conference instructed us to pass the maternity allowance?
– I shall again quote an extract which ‘I have already mentioned -
Their powers and responsibilities were greater than those of the pledged representatives, for the Conference could make and unmake policies, while their elected pledged representatives of the people had to confine their duties to putting the policy of the Conference before the people, elaborating it and voting for it in the Parliament of the country.
– But the Conference cannot .prevent an expression of the people’s will.
– That is my authority. If Senator Needham does, not like that, he can go and kick up a row about it at the Conference. These proposals represent an endeavour to disturb the Constitution, in order to secure for this Parliament greater powers in the regulation of industrial affairs. Exactly the same difficulty has arisen in the United States of America. To-day there is an agitation in that country to tear up the Constitution, merely in order to advance the designs of certain persons interested in industrial matters. They are worse off in the United States of America in this respect than we are.
– It is not a question of tearing up the Constitution, but of adding a new chapter to it.
– Senator Rae may know what Gompers and the Federation of Labour in America desire to do, but
I can assure him that I have read something about it. In the United States of America the people have been very largely saved from tearing up their Constitution by the action of the Supreme Court. I was very sorry, indeed, to hear the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council with regard to the Judges of our High Court.
– The honorable senator should have been glad, because, if they were wrong, they should afford good political pabulum for his party.
– I do not care about that. If a wrong statement is made, T object, no matter who makes it.
– It was not a wrong statement.
– Now we have the Government Whip declaring that the VicePresident of the Executive Council was right in what he said about the High Court. His remarks, as quoted by Senator Clemons this morning, aTe a direct reflection upon, the High Court, and represent a desire for a Court that would interpret the Constitution as the Labour party wish it to be interpreted.
– The Employers Federation have often expressed the desire to have certain. Justices removed from the High Court Bench.
– I have never previously heard that they dealt with the High Court in any way whatever. I wish to put in. a plea for the maintenance of our High Court, and that proper respect should be paid to the Judges of it. If they are to be the subjects of continual criticism and condemnation, because they do not interpret the Constitution as a certain political party desire, the status and dignity of the Court will be lowered, and much will be done to injure the influence of one of the safeguards of our civilization. I propose here to read an extract from an address delivered before an important body in New York, on 21st May of this year, by Mr. Thomas A. Emery, General Counsel for the National Council of Industrial Defence. He had been referring to just the kind of thing I have mentioned, namely, the earnest, insistent, and persistent endeavour of the Federation ,pf Labour in the United States of America to break down the Supreme Court. This is what he said -
The judicial department of our government, by its very nature, finds its last sanction in the respect and confidence of the community. Deprive it of that essential asset, you weaken its authority more insidiously, but as successfully as though it were emasculated by statute. Possessing neither the purse nor the sword, without power to appoint, appropriate or reward, the judicial department represents in the highest degree the conscience and sane judgment of the people. By virtue of its functions, it represents the last refuge of civilization from barbarism, the final arbiter that alone saves each from the individual defence of his own by the sword. It is our last resort and hope. The legislator, elected for short terms, may yield under human temptation to the dominant passions of the hour. The Executive, but less remotely effected, may yield to a like weakness in the making of law and its administration. The minority or the individual, helpless, outnumbered, unpopular, alone, finds refuge against overwhelming force only in the sanctuary of justice. Protected against fear of the loss of popular favour by their tenure of office, the nature of their function, the established respect of long usage, and the personal qualifications which rarely in our history have failed to sustain the individual, our judiciary, in the most trying periods of national life, have faithfully met the highest requirements of their great office. Amid the formations of the two great schools of political thought originating in the lifetime of Hamilton and Jefferson, and all of bitterness and passion that tore families and political groups asunder amid the storm and passion of the great civil struggle; and during all that critical period of reconstruction that followed in its wake, our judiciary has stood serene, immutable in change, unshaken and magnificent in temptation. Let the rising tides of political fashion leave that institution, like the last mountain in the deluge, the last resting place of Heaven’s light, the last security of human hope. The very storms that beat about our courts will but make them more secure by the support and sympathy they shall secure and retain from an aroused people. The very assaults of their enemies, the very bitterness of their critics, the very temptations of their task have won for them the respect of our people and the wondering admiration of human-kind. Let us hold that great system secure against the inroads of passion and prejudice. Meeting with firmness every effort to lessen the efficiency, impairthe powers, or slander the reputation, of the human instruments of justice, losing nothing of our faith in the institution, because in rare instances it has been administered by unworthy hands. If we shall support it during the storms that now beat upon it, that great department of our government shall rise supreme over the discontent of this trying period, enduring as do the pyramids of Egypt. The sun of centuries has burned their sides, the countless storms of time have broken upon their worn but enduring pinnacles; the sands of the desert shifting about their base have but filled their crevices and made more secure their foundations.
I indorse that as applied to our own High Court.
I do not wish to say any more on the subject of the Bill dealing with trade and commerce, but I wish to refer to the measure proposing extended powers in connexion with industrial matters. It is pro posed by this Bill to alter the Constitution by substituting for section 51, paragraph xxxv. - “ Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State “ - the words -
Labour and employment and unemployment, including -
the terms and conditions of labour and employment in any trade, industry, occupation, or calling;
the rights and obligations of employers and employes;
strikes and lock-outs;
the maintenance of industrial peace; and
the settlement of industrial disputes.
In introducing this Bill the AttorneyGeneral was candid enough to say that he did not really know what these terms mean. I do not blame the honorable gentleman, because they are so very wide. There is nothing with regard to labour, employment, manufacture, and the relations between employer and employe that is not covered by these words. I have always favored legislation to secure fair wages and conditions for workmen by the establishment of conferences for conciliation on the lines of Wages Boards rather than of Arbitration Courts.
– There are far more breaches of the awards of Wages Boards than of those of Arbitration Courts.
– I do not think so. I shall be able to supply the honorable senator with some particulars on the subject later on. I say that if the powers proposed in this Bill are conferred upon this Parliament, instead of making for industrial peace, they will throw the whole industrial world of the Commonwealth into a state of turmoil, and will engender a spirit of unrest. I venture to say that the atmosphere of the Arbitration Court is redolent of a spirit of antagonism and unrest.
– Does the honorable member say that this proposal will tend to encourage industrial awards ?
– I say that these powers, if granted, will probably lead to industrial turmoil and unrest.
– Is that the honorable senator’s own opinion ?
– It is, and it may be taken for what it is worth. I do not profess to state the opinions of any one else. I think I shall be able to show that I have some reason for holding that opinion. I say that if these powers are put into operation the result will be that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court will in a little time become bunged up with business, which it will be absolutely impossible for it to overtake. Mr. B. R. Wise, who introduced the Arbitration Act which is in force in New South Wales, and who, by the way, said that it was a. perfect measure, referring to these matters in the Federal Convention before the Constitution was adopted, said -
There is no matter which the industrial population of Australia would more desire to confine to the local Parliament,where they can make their influence upon members felt, than matters affecting industrial disputes. To give the Federal Parliament power to make laws affecting industrial disputes gives them authority to regulate by penalties every detail of the industrial life of every trade in the Colonies. Surely that cannot be desired or intended. There is no matter in which varied local development is more necessary or desirable to a State than the development of its industrial conditions, and the industrial conditions in every part of this continent in years to come may, and probably will, very largely develop.
That was the considered opinion of a man of considerable experience, who afterwards took a very active part in connexion with these matters in his own State. What is the position of affairs in the Commonwealth to-day? We have 13,822 manufacturing industries employing 286,831 persons. They pay every year in wages something over£24,000,000. Their production represents£121,000,000 out of a total production in the Commonwealth of £187,000,000. These 13,822 manufacturing industries with their 286,831 employes are all to be brought under the one Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. That Court is to be the authority for regulating all conditions as to wages and employment. How many Judges will he required? What time will it take? How much will it cost? It is a herculean task.
– The same argument was used at the inception of the Court.
– At the present time we have given the Arbitration Court power to deal with industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. But this proposal would give the Court power to deal with disputes all over Australia.
– Does the honorable senator mean that it necessarily follows that all disputes would come before the central Court?
– Yes. The experience of the past shows that disputes have been engineered so that they might be brought before one Court.
– Engineered by whom, and for what?
– Engineered by the workers. What is the record of the Federal Arbitration Court? Between December, 1904, and December, 1911, out of 19 plaints submitted only 9 awards have been given. The other cases were settled or withdrawn. The hearings occupied 313 days. The shearers’ dispute occupied no less than 68 days of the President’s time. The agreements entered into numbered 136. The tramway dispute is now being heard. How long will that take?
– It will be settled this week.
– We shall see.I have a return here showing a list of cases dealt with in the Arbitration Court. I may as well give the particulars -
Merchant Service Guild of Australasia v. Commonwealth Steam -ship Owners Association No. 1. Sixteen days. Award made.
The Australian Institute of Marine Engineers v. Howard Smith Company Limited. Three days. Case dismissed.
The Australian Workers Union v. The Pastoralists Federal Council of Australia and Others No. 1. Twenty-two days. Award made.
Exparte H. V. McKay (under the Excise Tariff Act). Twenty-one days. Scale of wages adopted.
Merchant Service Guild of Australasia v. A. Currie and Company and Another. One day. Case reserved for High Court. Held no jurisdiction.
Marine Cooks, Bakers, and Butchers Association of Australia v. The Commonwealth Steamship Owners Association. Seventeen days. Award made.
Barrier Branch Amalgamated Miners Association v. Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Twenty-two days. Award made. Part declared bad by High Court.
Federated Engine-drivers and Firemen’s Association v. Pastoral Finance Association and Others. Nine days. Agreement arrived at.
Federated Sawmill, &c, Employees of Australia v. James Moore and Sons Proprietary Limited. Twenty-one days. Case discontinued. Cost employers about £3,000.
Australian Institute of Marine Engineers v. Commonwealth Steam-ship Owners’ Association. Three days. Agreement dealt with.
Australian Boot Trade Employees Association v. Whybrow and Co. and Others. Thirty-seven days. Award made and varied after High Court judgment. Cost employers about £1,000.
Federated Marine Stewards and Pantrymen’s Association v. Commonwealth Steam-ship Owners Association. Sixteen days. Award made.
Federated Engine-drivers and Firemen’s Association v. Caledonian Coal Company Limited and Others. Seven days. Case dismissed. Cost employers £458 7s. 6d.
Merchant Serivce Guild of Australasia v. Commonwealth Steam-ship Owners Association No. 2. Thirteen days. Agreement settled.
The Federated Seamen’s Union of Australia v. The Commonwealth Steam-ship Owners Association and Others. Twenty-nine days. Award made.
The Australian Workers Union v. The Pastoralists Federal Council of Australia and Others. Award made.
Butchering and Meat Industry. Four days’ Conference. Agreement made.
Federated Engine-drivers and Firemen’s Association v. Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Others. Thirty-three days. Award announced, but not yet in force. Cost employers about£1,050
Mildura and Renmark Fruit-growers’ Case. Fifteen days. Award made.
Merchant Service Guild of Australasia v. Commonwealth Steam-ship Owners Association. Award made.
Tramway Case. Still proceeding. Over fifty days to date.
Note. - The above days and costs refer only to the Arbitration Court, and not to proceedings in the High Court.
I hold that instead of handing over these many disputes to one body, it would be far better to allow the States to make their own arrangements for settling them. If there are differences between one State and another which operate unfairly, we might provide an appeal board to sift the evidence and bring about harmony. That would be a more efficient and less costly way of dealing with the matter. I do not believe that if an Appeal Board were established many appeals would be made to it, for the simple reason that it would be composed of employers and employes, who would know the conditions prevailing in their industries, and what wages were fair as between one State and another. A good deal has been said with regard to New Zealand and its experience of arbitration. A writer in The Round Table has referred to the New Zealand experience in the following terms : -
The past two years have shown that the system has entirely broken down, in the sense that a powerful section of employes has indicated that no legislative provisions will deter it from using the weapon of the strike. Plainly, therefore, the system must be destroyed or very materially altered, for, if the prohibitions are mere brutafulmina, the sooner they are removed from the statute-book the better. For many years the arbitration system effectually prevented strikes, but only while the victory rested substantially with the workers. Now, however, it is realized by the more aggressive and militant bodies that little more is to be gained by compulsory arbitration, and the old weapon of the strike is once again brought out of the armory. Quite naturally, legislation is powerless to restrain its use. For some time past numerous applications have been made for cancellation of the registration of the workers unions, the object of this being to enable them to join in or assist a strike without danger to their funds under the penal provisions, and trouble has been brewing for well over a year.
– How many of those New Zealand strikes were covered by Wages Board awards?
– There are no Wages Boards in New Zealand. There is an Arbitration Court there; but experience has shown that when the Court’s awards do not suit the workers, they take matters into their own hands.
– The honorable senator has said that he prefers strikes to arbitration. He does not believe in arbitration.
– I do not believe in an Arbitration Court, but I do believe in legislation for making arrangements as to wages. I believe in conciliation, and bringing people together. I believe in having conferences between employers and employed; who could come to a mutual arrangement which should have the force of law.
– There must be a chairman to give a casting vote.
– In a great many cases the chairman is not required to give a. casting vote.
– In the event of the parties not coming to a mutual arrangement, what would the honorable senator do?
– In that case, the matter would have to be settled by the casting vote of the chairman.
– Who would be an arbitrator.
– I have never known the Chairman of a Wages Board to be unsympathetic with the demands of the workers. As a rule, he has considered them carefully, and has made terms which he believed to be fair. At this stage, perhaps, it would be convenient for me to ask leave to continue my speech on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill from being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to intimate that I promised Senator Clemons I would obtain certain details as to interest and rent in connexion with the Perth Post Office site. I have obtained the figures which will be read by my honorable colleague, the Minister of Defence.
– The return is as follows -
Perth, Western Australia - General post Office.
Acquisition of 30th August, 1911.
Total amount of compensation agreed to, £167,370.
Total amount of compensation paid, £30,050.
Rate of interest allowed on compensation payable, 3 per cent, from date of acquisition (30th August,1911) to date of payment of instalments, 30th June, 1912.
Rate of interest allowed on balance of compensation payable, 5 per cent, from 1st July, 1912, to date of settlement.
Total interest payable on 31st December 1912, £7,617.
Total rents collected as at 31st December, 1912, £12,665.
– Idesire to make a statement with regard to the caning of a cadet attending the Sydney Grammar School. Yesterday, I received a letter from the father of the boy who, writing from “Cromarty,” Wolseley-road, Mosman, on 10th instant, says -
I herewith enclose statement made by my son, which I believe to be a correct record of what took place. It is needless to add that such conduct on the part of military officers will tend to bring compulsory training into disrepute.
The statement referred to in the letter is as fol lows-
After I attended the whole-day parade on 12th November, which lasted four hours, from 1 o’clock till 5 p.m., I was commanded to stay back by Sergeant Cloustan for slowness, but I did not think it justifiable. A few others were commanded to stay back by different officers also. I waited until the other cadets (except those who had to stay back) had gone. Then Sergeant Sherwood came up and said to another cadet who had to stay back, “ It is hardly worth while drilling these few.” During this time I was sitting down, being tired. Then I went home.
Next day I was told by Corporal O’Brien to see Lieutenant Boyse, but be was in class at the time, so I waited till the luncheon hour, when he told me to go with him to the Area Office. I went with him, hut he took me to Mr. MacNaughton’s office. I was then told to wait outside while Lieutenant Boyse interviewed the Adjutant, Mr. MacNaughten. Then I was told to come in, and the Adjutant told me the punish, ment - A Breach of Military Discipline ; then he read out the punishment - three months’ imprisonment, with or without hard labour, or the reduction of pay, or a fine of Thirty (30) pounds. Then he asked me which I preferred, imprisonment or the fine, and I said the fine. Then he asked me which I preferred, the fine or be caned by Mr. Lucas (headmaster);’ I said I would rather be caned.
The next day, Thursday, 14th, Mr. Lucas came to me in class, and asked me what I did on parade on Tuesday, and I told him that after parade on Tuesday I was told to stay back, but I went home.
The next day, Friday, 15th, Mr. Lucas came and spoke to Mr. Giles, and told him the affair, and (asked) said, “ If we take proceedings they will not prosecute. What do you suggest?” Mr. Giles suggested that I should be caned before the assembled school. Then Mr. Lucas left the room, but returned in a few minutes and said there would be assembly when the bell rang. Then he asked me would I rather be fined or punished by him. I answered that I would rather be punished by him. At assembly I was called up, and Mr. Lucas addressed the school that I was being caned to avoid being fined Thirty’ pounds. Then to me, “ This is at your own wish?” and I said, “Yes.” Then I was caned, and the school was dismissed.
All I wish to say is that Mr. Lucas is the Acting Headmaster of the Sydney Grammar School, the headmaster of which recently died. It is almost inconceivable that Mr. Lucas would have told the youth that a caning was the alternative for a fine of £30 unless he had been so informed by the Adjutant. If that intimation was conveyed by the adjutant, it was a clear case of bluff and bullying on the part of an officer, who ought have known better.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121213_senate_4_69/>.