7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1912. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1017, No. 185.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1005. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 184.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911- 1915. - Dealings and Transactions during year ended 30th June, 1916.
Customs Act 1901-1916. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 183.
Defence Act 1903-1915. - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 188, 187, 188, 189, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206,. 208, 209, 216.
Inter-State Commission: Tariff Investigation - Index to Reports. “ Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1916. - Statement regarding Old-age Pensions for the twelve months ended 30th ‘June, 1917.
Public Service Act 1902-1916.- PromotionsPrime Minister’s Department - H.C.
Department of Defence -
War Precautions Act 1914,1816.- Regula tions amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 197, 198, 200, 217.
Report (No. 1) presented lay Senator
– I have received from Senator Gardiner the following notice under standing order 64 : -
Melbourne, 6th September, 1917.
I beg to inform you that I desire to move that the Senate, at its rising,adjournuntil 3 o’clock on Friday, to enable the Senate to discuss an urgent matter of public importance, viz., “ The desirability of the Government taking immediate action to bring about a just settlement of the present industrial trouble.”
Yours faithfully, albertgardiner.
.- I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock on Friday.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– For moving this motion I offer no excuse or apology to the Senate. I doubt if ever a question of greater importance than the immediate settlement of the present industrial trouble was ever discussed by a deliberative assembly. I desire to approach the question with the aim and end in view which I have stated in the motion itself, namely, that the Government should take immediate action to bring about a settlement of the dispute, which not only threatens* our commercial and, industrial life,” but which, if continued, must work havoc with the part that Australia has ‘ so proudly played in taking her share in the conduct of the war.
– Why should it continue?
– That is the very reason why I wish to address the Senate, and I hope that honorable senators will approach, the matter chiefly with that point in view. Why there should have been forced upon the unionists by the Railways Commissioners during the time of war conditions so distasteful to them that thousands of skilled workmen have left their employment rather than submit to them, I fail to understand. If it were pardonable in peace time for the Railways Commissioners to take this step, I submit that it was altogether unpardonable for them to do it at the present time. We are not allowed, I suppose, to discuss the actions of the State Government.
– Why not?
– I suppose that it would not be wise to discuss the actions of the State Government; but why they should continue to stand by and allow the turmoil to spread and become more dangerous and disastrous each day when a settlement has been within their reach from the very moment the trouble began, I fail to understand.
The immediate trouble commenced over what is known as the card system.
– Mr. Buckley, M.L.A., said that it did not, and that that was only a pretext.
– He is not here.
– That is why we speak for him.
– I have no doubt that the Ministers are well qualified to speak for Mr. Buckley. I am here neither to secure a party advantage nor to twist an argument to suit my own purpose, but to put facts before the Senate.
– Will you explain what the card system is?
– To the best of my knowledge and ability, I, will. The trouble in the railway workshops of New South Wales was originated by the introduction of the card system there by the Railways Commissioners. The trouble was not sprung upon the Government and the Commissioners by the unionists in a hasty manner, as from reading the newspapers one would be led to believe. In Decemiber of last year a deputation of railway workmen, to whom this card system was being applied, waited upon the Chief Commissioner for Railways, and put forward their objections to it. Mr. Fraser then withdrew the card system, and intimated to the men that at a more favorable opportunity he would introduce it. He evidently seized what he considered a more favorable opportunity.
– When was that?
– Quite recently.
– It was in March.
– I will accept my honorable friend’s date. When it was introduced in March, the decent men in the workshops would not use the card system. First of all, they tried it on those men who by their reputation would be considered the most suitable to work out the card system, but they absolutely refused to accept it. Then they tried it on some’ aspiring young men, who also declined to have anything to do with it, as they considered that would be equivalent to spying upon their fellows.
The workmen did not suddenly spring this trouble upon the Government. They interviewed the manager with regard to the card system, and wanted to know how it would work out. They asked him if a physically weak man, or a man weak from age, would be expected to dp the same job in the same time as a physically strong man, and the manager said that would depend upon the psychology of the case. The manager was then asked if the cards which he held in his hand were the only cards to be introduced, and in his reply he stated that he had the authority of the Railways Commissioners to say that they could not give any assurance as to what cards would be introduced.
– Will the honorable senator say upon whose authority he is making this statement?
– Upon my own reputation and authority.
– But the honorable senator must have obtained his information from some one.
– I am making this statement upon my own reputation, and upon information obtained by me from quite a number of men.
– The question I asked has an important bearing upon the subject.
– I have obtained the information from a number of men. I hate gone to a considerable amount of trouble to verify it, and I find that what has been told to me by one man has been corroborated by, at least, six more. All this goes to show that the trouble has not been sprung upon the country.
I come now to the card system. We have been told that it has been introduced merely to enable the New South Wales Government to ascertain what material and what time have been used in carrying out different works; that the system has been in existence, not only in Government workshops, but practically in all big business places in Sydney, for a number of years, and that no objection had been taken to it. The objection taken by the men to the introduction of this card system on the New South Wales railways is that it would introduce a system of spying. At public meetings which I addressed on this subject I produced one of the cards in dispute, and, in fairness to the Chief Railways Commissioner, I intimated that since then he had said he had given orders that it would not be used.
– Is that card No. 6?
-Yes ; and the fact that the honorable senator is aware of it indicates that he understands that there are six cards in this system. This is the form of card No. 6 -
Iwant to dwell upon question No. 6, and I will read it again -
Are there any hands in your section who are not satisfactory?
It may be said that some men have no objection to that, but I would not remain long in any workshop which gave authority to any man to report secretly as to whether I was working satisfactorily or not.
– “Well, if I have not, I will go so far as to say that the tradesmen in the New South Wales Government workshops deserve every credit for having taken an objection to the introduction of this system, under which, not higher responsible officers, but sub-foremen, have authority to secretly report upon their work; and I am glad to think that the skilled workmen, who have raised their trade to a plane of dignity, have taken a stand against it.
– Were you never told you could get your time without any reason being given ?
– No. I was always such a valuable man that nobody ever told me to get my time.
– Perhaps the honorable senator discovered that he was not wanted, and. so dispensed with that procedure ?
– No, because it always takes me- a long time to discover that. However, the point I make is that competent tradesmen would not have come out on strike without sufficient reason.
– Are there no Appeal Courts in New South Wales in connexion with the Railway Department?
– I am glad of the interjection, because I can’ say that there was no appeal from the decision ‘ with regard to the card system.
– Why did they not go to the Arbitration Court ?
– They were prepared to do that, and indeed put that proposition before the Government, saying they were prepared to continue working if the Government would appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the card system:
– My honorable friend may say “ and “ if he pleases.
– But you said you were going to give the full facts-.
– And that is what I intend to do.
– Well, you will be giving only half of the facts if you do not finish your statement with regard to the Royal Commission. There was a provision for. the withdrawal of the card system.
– I am quite prepared to say that. The men said they would continue working if ‘the Government would appoint a Royal Commission, and withdraw the card system pending an inquiry.
– And they said they would abide by the result.
– Is that the card they objected to ?
– It is the system they object to. When they asked the manager of the shop if the three cards then in his possession were the only cards to be used, he said he had the authority of the Chief Railways Commissioner to state that he would give no pledges as to the cards to be used.
– The Chief Railways Commissioner gave an assurance that card No. 6 would not be used.
– The Commissioner did intimate that this card would not be used. I say that the Chief Railways Commissioner has deliberately forced this new system upon the men and that it should not be done when they are working under an arbitration award.
– We have had the. same system in operation for over fifty years.
– The arbitration award states that there shall be no change or alteration in the conditions of employment. There is no getting away from that.
I come now to the attitude of the State Government towards the strike. The Ministry have said through their various mouthpieces that the men may go back to work, and that if they do so, after the card system has been operating for three months, there will be an inquiry into it. On the other hand, the employees say “ We will return to work if you appoint’ a Royal Commission to inquire into the merits of the card system, and we are prepared to abide by the decision of that tribunal.” If the two parties to the existing dispute each put forward these opposing propositions, and we are unable to find a basis of agreement between them, it is a reflection upon our intelligence.
– The honorable senator compelled the schoolmasters to goto sea. He was a Minister at the time
– I would remind the Senate that under our Standing Orders the time at Senator Gardiner’s disposal is strictly limited. I therefore ask honorable senators to refrain from interrupting him.
– I repeat that if the two propositions which I have advanced accurately represent the position which obtains to-day, it is a reflection on our intelligence if we cannot find a reasonable settlement of this industrial turmoil. I dread a strike as much as I dread a bush fire, and if I saw a bush fire within reach to-morrow I would hurry to put it out. The dangers associated with a strike to the industrial community and to the Commonwealth itself are so serious that intelligent men should earnestly address themselves to a settlement of the present trouble. My proposal provides for a just settlement of it. I say that those charged with the functions of government - those responsible for the maintenance of the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth - can well afford to look about with a view to discovering an immediate means of settling this trouble.
The Government of New South Wales, I regret to say, are adopting a very drastic attitude towards the strike - an attitude so drastic that the unionists believe that they are out to break up unionism. Onthe other hand, the Government affirm that the unionists are in revolt. I wish to say that there are no more law-abiding people in Australia than are its trade unionists.- They have shown their loyalty on the battlefields of Europe.
– Have they shown it by observing the Arbitration Court awards ?
– The Government of New South Wales have created the impression in the minds of unionists that thev are out to break up unionism. Here is what a Minister of that State, in addressing the voluntary workers, said -
– Who is the Minister? .
- Mr. Fitzpatrick, Assistant Minister of the Treasury. Addressing the voluntary workers on the Show Ground, Sydney, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, he said -
Unionism to-day is a running sore.
I say that unionism to-day is the same as it ever was - the organization of the most intelligent section of theworking classes of the community.
– Quite wrong.
– I know that, according to the changed attitude of Senator de Largie, my statement is quite wrong-
– I will prove it this afternoon if I am afforded an opportunity to do so.
– Senator de Largie will prove anything to his own satisfaction. I say that unionism to-day is as pure in its intentions as it ever was. The fact that some of us may grow too old or too conservative to appreciate unionism, does not alter the position in the least.The report from which I am quoting proceeds -
A Voice. - Why don’t you disfranchise them? Mr. Fitzpatrick. - We may do something worse than that with them before they are through.
Speeches of that kind are calculated to inflame the public mind against the Government. Something worse than disfranchisement will not be tolerated by organized labour in this country. The statement so frequently made in the press that the strike is a “ revolt “ is absolutely nonsense. A dispute has arisen between two sections of public employees in New’ South Wales - the Railways Commissioners who are charged with the management of its railways, and the employees upon those railways. But that circumstance ought not to be connected with the word “ revolution.”
– Why did you allow the strike to spread ?
– The workers have not allowed it to spread. The sympathetic strike which has followed the claim of the railway employees for an investigation of their case will continue to spread unless measures are taken to prevent it. Unionism has become such a great mateship that the sympathetic strike is always the most difficult to deal with. That men should voluntarily sentence themselves and their families to a lower standard of living for the sake of mates whom they never saw is one of those things that we need to understand if we wish to deal with it.
– Are the wharf labourers in Melbourne on strike in sympathy with the unionists in New South Wales?
– I repeat that a strike out of sympathy with another section of workers is a most difficult matter to deal with. But we have to deal with it as it stands to-day, as one of the splendid achievements of organized labour.
– In other words, the honorable senator says that unionism is fanaticism ?
– I say nothing of the kind. That may be the interpretation put upon my statement by the conservative mind of my honorable- friend. But I do say that such is the zeal for the mateship of unionism that the most splendid deeds of heroism will be performed, and the most acute suffering submitted to, by unionists, rather than that injustice shall be inflicted upon their comrades whom they have never seen. Every attempt to break up unionism merely serves to make it stronger.
– Who wants to break it up ?
– The impression in the minds of nine unionists out of ten is that the State Government, m conjunction with the Commonwealth Government, planned this attack upon unionism with a view to breaking it up.
– That is the impression in the minds of .the men.
– It is a pity that it is there.
– - “Lions led by asses
– I heard Senator Guthrie interject “ Lions led by asses.” That was the case when the honorable senator was leading Labour. J£ the statement be not true that the Government planned this attack upon unionism with a view to breaking it up, the obligation rests on them to show by their actions that it is not true. If the members of the Federal Government repudiate the statement that they have joined with the New South Wales Government in this attack upon unionism, picking the actual time for the strike, a time when the country workers would not be employed, their actions and not their words are necessary to support their repudiation of that gene ral impression held by those who are on strike.
– Does the honorable senator believe it?
– If that general impression is not justified, then I say that the false impression should be removed from the mind of the unions.
– Does the honorable senator believe it himself?
– I shall answer honorable senators who are asking these questions by putting to them the question, “ Do you believe that the unionists are revolutionary?”
– Some of them are, but not many.
– Do honorable senators opposite believe that the thouands of men who throw down their tools, and freely come out to seek suffering for themselves and their families1 in order to stand by their mates are disloyal?
– They are misled, that is all.
– If my honorable friends do not believe that they are disloyal, I have only to say that the impression that they are exists in the minds of scores of people whom they represent, and the sooner that impression is removed the better.
We have the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth making the statement that the men are in revolt. I venture to say that at a time like the present the utterances of a public man who says that there are 65,000 workers on strike, and then that it is a revolution, being immediately cabled to England, are calculated to create a ‘wrong impression in the minds of the people there.
– He is a proGerman, and has been ever since the war broke out. From his utterances, he is the best friend that Germany has in Australia.
– That is the joke of the session.
– At this time Australia should not be misrepresented on the other side of the world. The men charged with the government of the Old Country should not be given the impression that hundreds of thousands of workers in Australia are disloyal. There is no more loyal Dominion of the British Empire than is Australia, and there is no more loyal section of the people of Australia than are the unionists. That these false impressions should be spread broadcast by responsible men is’ one of the saddest features of industrial troubles.
– It is not the card system, then?
– It has arisen over the attempt to introduce the card system. The honorable senator should not try to twist my words. It is the old trouble going on, and that will go on through the ages so long as the employing class attempt to impose degrading . conditions upon those who have to labour. The attempt to introduce the card system was, in the opinion of the men concerned, an attempt to impose degrading conditions upon those who labour. If it was not such an attempt, there is a way out.
– Let us have that.
– I say that it is for the Federal Government - who, if they are fulfilling their functions of government, represent neither side in this dispute - to find the way out. They can find it very simply and very easily.
– Does not my honorable friend think that he is under some responsibility to suggest what we ought to do ?
– I venture to say that the mere suggestion of a settlemend coming from the Federal Government would bring about a settlement.
– A suggestion on what terms?
– On terms to be mutually agreed upon. Let the Federal Government say to the Government of New South Wales, who are responsible for what has occurred, that one representative of the Railways Commissioners and one representative of the men on strike should be appointed to confer under the presidency, if the honorable senator please, even of Mr. Hughes, or Senators Millen, Pearce, or Russell, to finda settlement of the trouble, and it can be found in less than twenty-four hours.
– The honorable senator is an optimist.-
– I am, because I know that the men desire only a just and fair settlement of the trouble.
– The honorable senator is an optimist because he wants to see the trouble settled.
– Yes, because I want an attempt made to settle it.
– Let the honorable senator lay down the basis of settlement now.
– If the Federal Government, representing the people of Australia, will suggest to the New South Wales Government that one of their representatives, representing the Railways Commissioners shall meet a representative of the men on strike, with a member of the Federal Government presiding over the conference, with a view to finding a way out of the difficulty, I predict that such a way could be found within twentyfour hours.
Let the strike go on, and what will happen? I heard a determined man say that not one ton of union coal would be hewn while the men are being victimized.
– There is a fair bit of it being hewn now.
– If the honorable senator is satisfied that the industries of the Commonwealth are going on the. same as usual, he is welcome to that satisfaction. But I look the facts in the face, and, in my opinion, no man who considers the industrial conditions of the country to-day will say that things are normal. I appeal to honorable senators, and to members of the Government, not to become partisans in this strike, but to lift the Federal Government above both parties, and see whether a settlement cannot be arrived at.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The first question that occurs to my mind, after listening to Senator Gardiner, is this: Is there a strike? I ask the question because I remember reading a day or two ago that a very distinguished and learned legal gentleman said that he had no evidence of a strike. I should judge from what Senator Gardiner has said that he, at all events, is satisfied that a strike is on, even though Mr. Justice Higgins is not.
– The honorable senator can call it a strike or a lock-out as he pleases.
– Senator Gardiner made some reference to an attack upon unionism, and I say that there is no evidence of an attack upon unionism.
– That is what Nelson said when he put the glass up to his blind eye.
– No Government has made an attack upon anybody. The attack has been made, not by a Government upon unionists, but by certain people, venturing to speak for the unions, upon a Government. It is strange, then, that the honorable senator should turn round and assume that, because the Government of New South Wales was doing something in defence of public interests, they should be held up to public scorn as being the attacking party.
Let us look at the facts, because I agree with Senator Gardiner as to the importance of the matter. It is an important matter. It is little short of deplorable. It is, indeed, tragic, that at a time when this country is fighting for its very existence, or when it ought to be doing so, it apparently finds its time and energies occupied by a not unsuccessful imitation of what is taking place in Russia to-day. One would think that we were outside the region of possible harm. I say again, that it is little short of tragic, when the fate of this country and of the Empire is still trembling in the balance, that we should find not only large bodies of men foolish enough to be misled, but public men in the responsible position occupied by Senator Gardiner, coming here and saying things which can only spur the men on t’o a continuation of their ill-advised action.
– Who started the trouble?
– Senator Gardiner first of all said that he sought a peaceful solution of the difficulty, but he had not spoken for more than a few minutes before he became a strong advocate of the cause of the men on strike. I say that any individual who comes forward asking for a peaceful adjustment of this industrial . difficulty, must leave that kind of advocacy outside the doors of this or any other chamber before he can look for a respectful hearing. To denounce, as Senator Gardiner has done, the representatives of the New South Wales Railways Commissioners as spies upon their fellow workmen, at a time when he professes only to be seeking a peaceful solution of the quarrel, is but an injunction and an appeal to the men to stand firm in the position they have taken up.
– I hope they will.
– The honorable senator, in saying that, puts himself out of court here. He can no longer pretend that he is a high-minded public man, moved without regard to, one side or the other, and seeking only a peaceful solution of the difficulty. He stands here, by that very interjection, as the unswerving advocate of the men for all they have done, and for all that he hopes they will do.
The honorable senator said something about the card system being forced upon these men, and that thousands’ have left their work rather than submit to ties© intolerable conditions.
– Hear, hear !
– There was no attempt to impose these conditions, whether intolerable or not, upon thousands of the men who have left work. The card system was sought to be introduced into a workshop in Sydney.
– Where there are thousands of men employed.
– I am entitled to ask, “Was there any justification at a time like this, when the country is at war, because of a dispute between a State Government, through their Railways Commissioners and the men employed iti the Randwick workshops, for any loyal body of men to immediately attempt to paralyze the hand of the Central Government who had no concern in the dispute at all, and refuse because of that, even to load the transports necessary to carry munitions of war and foodstuffs to the troops at the Front?”
– That is not true.
– I am simply asking whether, because certain men in the Randwick shops had a dispute with the Railways Commissioners there, that is a justification for thousands of men in this State and elsewhere immediately making war, not upon the Government of New South Wales, but upon the National Government, which is charged with the supreme responsibility of enabling Australia toput forward its best efforts in the war, amongst- those efforts being the despatch by transports of munitions and comforts needed for our troops?
It is suggested that the Commonwealth should interfere. The Commonwealth Government did interfere some time ago in the coal strike in New South Wales, aad, as I am reminded by Senator Pearce, in a strike at Broken Hill. By the action it took there, it secured to the men who struck all they asked for, but the result showed the Government the mistake it made. The Government was entitled to expect that, in return for its action, these law-abiding loyal citizens would at least have given what the Government thought was the equivalent, that is, continuity of service. That was the bargain and that bargain is shown to have been in the minds of those men, but another “scrap of paper.” We are asked now to repeat the sorry experience gained on that occasion.
The honorable senator says this matter can easily be settled. Of course it can. It is the easiest thing in the world. There are two ways of doing it, both equally simple - an absolute surrender on the part of the State Government, or for the men to go back and take the work that is waiting for them. It is simple whichever way you put it.
– Whydo not they do it?
– That is what I am wondering. I am marvelling why Senator Gardiner, instead of coming here to hurl those opprobrious epithets at those from whom he differs, is not making an earnest appeal to the men to go back now and accept the offer that has been held out to them for many months by the State Government. The address he made here should have been made to them, and not to this Chamber. The honorable senator was very indefinite when I asked him to say in what way the Federal Government could act. He suggested something in the nature of a Royal Commission, and expressed unbounded confidence that the decision of the Commission would be loyally observed. This is interesting. If that Commission decided that the card system should stay, would its decision be accepted ?
– Then the card cannot be very objectionable. If that is the position, were those men entitled to throw the whole industrial life of this country into turmoil when that inquiry was waiting for them at the end of three months ?
– They know that no Court on earth would sanction the card system.
– Then the honorable senator means that we are to appoint a Commission which will givethe men what they want, or, as has happened before, they will not abide by the decision. Senator Gardiner says he believes they will accept its decision. It is an even money chance - a phrase which Senator Barnes at least will understand - that any tribunal may decide in favour of the card, and. if so, Senator Gardiner says the men will go back. If they are prepared to work under the card system, all this trouble has been brought about because they insist that the inquiry should take place now rather th,an in three months’ time.
Everybody knows that it is not the card system that is at the bottom of the trouble.
– Take the card away and see. That is the way to prove it.
Sena torMILLEN. - Not even Senator McDougall will pretend that if the card system is withdrawn there will be an end of the strikes. The honorable senator’s quarrel on this point is not with me, but with Senator Gardiner, who said this was the old trouble, which would always go on, and that this was only an incidental occasion on which it had burst out afresh.
– You are only half quoting him.
– I do not wish to misquote him, but Senator Gardiner distinctly said that this was the old trouble-
– That would go on so long as unfair conditions were imposed upon the men.
– And as my friends in the unions always claim the right to decide for themselves whether the conditions are unfair or not, if the card system was withdrawn to-morrow, there would not be, in my judgment, any better opportunity of securing continuity of labour than there is to-day.
A quotation has been made here from a card, and when honorable senators listened to it, I am sure they regarded it as little short of a joke. What is there in that card to object to? I am going to assume that it is the most obnoxious card of the series, as I am entitled to do, for Senator Gardiner would not have brought the least objectionable one here.
– I brought the only one of which I had a copy.
– I am sure that Senator Gardiner obtained from his friends the most damning piece of evidence they could produce - that .is, card No. 6. Every man who has worked for an employer knows that it is written or operative, if there is - a foreman there, that he is not only liable to have that foreman report to the boss as to whether he is suitable or not, but that, as a matter of fact, that foreman is not worth his wages if he does not do it, card or no card.
– Then why has the Chief Commissioner since stated that No. 6 card will not be used?
Senator MILLEN. I do not know. It must be the worst card that could be talked about, or dreamt of, or Senator Gardiner would not have brought it here.
Senator Gardiner stresses the point ; and I agree with him there - that this Government is charged with the responsibility of securing the good government of Australia. That is the sole purpose of its existence. and it is called upon to decide in what way that good government is to be secured. One cannot shut his eyes to the fact that this is not a strike in the ordinary acceptation of the term. It is a distinct challenge. to the properly constituted Government of Australia.
– Yes, by the New South Wales Government.
– The New South Wales Government have offered no challenge to the Commonwealth Government. ‘ It is the unions which are refusing to do the work they are called upon to do in the interests of Australia and the Empire. Their quarrel is not with the New South Wales Government, or, if it is, it is a very poor way of carrying it on to seek to paralyze the efforts of the Commonwealth Government to carry out Australia’s part in the war.
– The Commonwealth Government is supposed to overrule all State Governments.
-.- The honorable senator can talk about what it is supposed to do, but the position is simple. Because there was a dispute between a body of workmen and a State Government, these men, in what Senator Gardiner calls a’ sympathetic strike, are making an attack, not on the State Government, but on the National Government of Australia.
– McDougall and Pankhurst !
– I have never run away as the honorable senator has done.
– In the effort to discharge its duty to maintain that good government the National Ministry has felt compelled to recognise in what is going on now nothing short of a conspiracy, first, to injure Great Britain and her Allies, and then, by paralyzing Australia, to prevent the possibility of that country doing what otherwise it might! have done to carry on its part in this great war.
– But brought about by Mr. Frazer, the Chief Commissioner.
– It has bees brought about! by two things. It has been brought about first by the “fact that there have honeycombed their way into the great industrial forces of this country those undesirable elements, Syndicalism, I.W.W.-ism, and similar institutions.
– You have got them nearly all in gaol now.
– We have a few of them in gaol, and I have not the slightest doubt about the next thing which is going to happen. It will not be very long before outside friends of some of my honorable friends opposite will be petitioning for the men in gaol to be let out.
– Did you notice what country the men came from?
– Yes; and, what is much more satisfactory to me, I know where they are now. These undesirable influences secured their way into the innermost recesses of unionism, and seized the opportunity to use their power in a most cowardly fashion, not for the good of unionism, but to give effect to their wellknown animosity to the British Empire, and all for which it stands. These men are reckless iconoclasts, seeking to pull down society as it is constituted to-day, and they have found very ready material in trade unionists, by reason of that very loyalty which animates the great body of unionists. These men. have played upon; the unionists, who have practically been made to forget for the time being what they owe to their country, in order that, intheir opinion, they may display their loyalty ‘to the baneful influences in their midst
Just a few words in conclusion. This Government never has, by word or deed, made the slightest effort to, in any way, destroy or disturb trade unionism, and itis not likely to do so. But we cannot shut our eyes to this fact, that, for some years, there has been growing ups misguided as they have been, on the part of unionists represented by their special spokesmen, something like a contempt for law. They would only observe the arbitration law, which was brought in largely at their request, just so long as iti gave them what they asked for. Trade unionists are taking up this position to-day: they do not want arbitration, but they want their own way. Just so long as arbitration, or any other institution, will give them their own way, they will take iti; but unless it does so, then so much the worse for the system. The matter has reached such a point now that it is not possible for the Commonwealth Government, nor, in my judgment!, for the State .Government, to recede from the position it has taken up. A challenge was thrown out, and the Government had to do one of two things.
– The challenge was not thrown out by the men, but by the Government. You must admit that.
– Not only do I not admit the statement, but I deny it. I say that a pistol was held at the head of the New South Wales Government. The engineers gave the State Government twenty-four hours in which to withdraw the card system, “otherwise,” they said, “we will lay your industries idle.” That was a challenge as to who was to rule this country. It is a Democratic country, and the electors have recently decided that certain parties and certain men shall be intrusted with its government. No Government worthy of its salt, no Government having the slightest consideration for not only the present but the future of this country, could meekly surrender to an unconstitutional demand such as that which has been represented by the action of the men for whom Senator Gardiner has spoken this afternoon.
– The closing words of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, (Senator Millen) proved to me that he has forgotten one very vital factor in connexion with the question for arbitration. He based his remarks on what he said is a fact, and that is that the workers of Australia do not want arbitration, but their own way. I wish to remind the honorable senator that from the establishment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court until now it is the employers who have been the greatest offenders so far as breaches of awards are concerned. Any honorable senator who likes to look back for the past thirteen years, and. take an account of the awards given by that Court, the number of times that the awards have been broken by the employers on the one side and by the employees on the other, will see that the offences by the employers have been greater than the offences by the employees.
– That) iia absurd nonsense. -
– The honorable senator is here as a representative of the employers, but I am here as a representative of the employees. I venture to say that if he will get away sometimes from his business and look through the records he will find that what I have said is absolutely true. I will meet him on any platform in Australia with the records, and prove that my statement is correct.
– We have had 2,500 strikes since the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed.
– As a rule I welcome interjections, but on this occasion my time is limited to a quarter df an hour, and therefore I wish to proceed with my speech. The honorable senator can ‘take up my challenge if he likes.
Senator Millen has put all the blame, on the men in the railway’ workshops at Eveleigh without putting any blame on the Chief Commissioner of Railways. I have studied this question very closely from the start of this formidable trouble until now. There is a factor which is entirely forgotten by those who support the Railways Commissioners, and that is that the men were working under an award. I am credibly informed that a promise was given by the Railways Commissioners that no new industrial conditions would, be brought in during the time of the war. Senator Millen did not refer to that fact; the press of Australia has not referred to it, and that is the reason why we on this side are taking this opportunity to put before the people the men’s side of the , question, which, so far, has not been stated in the press.
What is this card system? Senators Millen, Pearce, and de Largie have interjected about the system being in existence in other parts of the world, and in Australia. I am quite prepared to admit that I have worked under a system whereby my work was recorded. On the railways of Western Australia, where I worked for three years and four months, I had to fill in every morning a time-sheet, giving an account of the previous day’s work from 7.20 a.m. till 5 p.m. I filled in that sheet without any supervision from a foreman or a sub-foreman. That system obtains in the Western Australian railway service to-day, and no one objects to it. I did the same thing in Harland and Woolf’s Ship Yard, in Belfast, some years ago. T had to render an account of every hourI had worked, and what particular part of a ship I had been engaged on in connexion with its construction - on the boilers, bulk-heads, decks, hull, and so on. In that great shipyard where, at that time, there were about 17,000 employees engaged there was not a murmur of discontent.
But the card system which has been introduced by the Railways Commissioners for New South Wales is an entirely different proposition. Not one of the men who ceased work objected to recording his time and giving a faithful account of his stewardship. But the men do object to this system, which, at Eveleigh, Randwick, and Newcastle, has been the means of appointing 145 sub-foremen, who stand over the workmen watching every movement in connexion with the particular job on which each is engaged. Suppose, for instance, that a workman is filling a barrow with sand. A sub-foreman watches the workman, notes the time he takes to fill the barrow, the time he takes to wheel the barro;w to a particular spot, and the time he takes to turn round and return with it. The sub-foreman has a stop-watch. He has his cards with him, and he can so manipulate the stop-watch that the worker does not know in what manner his work is being recorded.
– So you say that for every man who works there is a man to watch him?
– I said nothing of the sort. I was giving an illustration of the way in which the card system is applied.
– Do you object to supervision ?
– Not at all. I have worked under supervision, and I quite agree with Senator Millen that it is the duty of a foreman to supervise his men properly. I have no objection to being properly supervised, butI have a decided objection to a man standing over me and registering every movement of my hands or feet. , Again, if a piece of steel is placed on a lathe, there is a subforeman, and every movement pf that particular workman is observed.
– Surely you do not put forward the counting of the revolutions seriously?
– This is too serious a matter for any levity to be indulged in. I am explaining to honorable senators the American Taylor system - the scientific system of speeding up which the New South Wales Railways Commissionershave endeavoured to institute.
– You are wrong.
– I know that I am perfectly right in what I say.
– You always are; that is the trouble.
– Senator Pratten will have a chance to disprove what I am saying.
So far as I am concerned, there has been no attack upon the National Government. It is quite evident that the State Government are not open to reason. They will not accept any offer from the men. They merely say that the men must do exactly what Mr. Fraser orders. That is not reasonable. I venture to say that the workers of Australia give a good return for a good day’s wage. They are conscientious workmen. It is wrong for any man, be he a Railways Commissioner or a member of a Government, a public or a private employer, to introduce into Australia a system for checking the time of a man’s work which has been rejected in America. We know perfectly well that in the latter country there is a system of speeding up. I believe that it is the most advanced country in the world in that regard, but advanced as it is it absolutely rejected the system which is being endeavoured to be introduced at the Eveleigh Workshops. It has also been turned down in England, and we have proof of that. Why should this trouble be brought on at the present time, when we are struggling with the enemy outside the gate? I realize that as a result of the cessation of work by the railway men at Sydney difficulties have occurred - that thousands of innocent men are unemployed, and that thousands of women and children are suffering. It is our duty to meet these men, if we can, by referring the matter in dispute to some tribunal
I want now to call attention to what I consider reprehensible action on the part of the Government in connexion with this strike, There is in existence a duly constituted’ Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Judge of which is vested with power to do certain things. He could, if he chose, deregister an organization guilty of breaking the law. Now what did this Government do ? They issued a regulation under the War Precautions Act, giving the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth power to deregister any organization that might come out on strike. So far so good. This regulation was issued shortly after the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court had informed the wharf labourers that they could not have both arbitration and strike. The question was sub judice but notwithstanding this, the Attorney- General of the Commonwealth had the regulation referred* to passed, and shortly afterwards he approached the Court with a request! to have a certain organization deregistered. It was not right that the Government should have power to use a judicial as well as a political weapon. Is it any wonder that the President of the Court made a protest when the AttorneyGeneral asked the Court to do something which he had the power himself to do under the War Precautions Act? ,
One or two more words, and I will have finished. I am credibly informed that several telegrams were sent by the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation in Melbourne to Mr. Rowe, the secretary of the Western Australian branch in Fremantle, but up till a day or two ago he had received only one message, and that waa a telegram ‘ containing the suggestion by the President of the Court that the men should resume work. Why have those other telegrams been hung up? I am also credibly informed that, before the men in Sydney ceased work in connexion with the card system, the National Service Bureau was being organized in Perth and Fremantle. If this is a’ fact - and I believe it is - it indicates that the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government knew that something was about to happen, and were determined to have the National Service Bureau in working order to engage “ scab “ labour to take the places of men who had ceased work as a protest against the card system.
– The speech delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) made it quite clear that this strike is a mere political move, and - that from an industrial point of view there is no excuse for it. I believe that nine-tenths of the people of Australia - if it) were possible to register their opinions - indorse this view of the present situation. When Senator Gardiner was addressing himself to this question, I said I would prove to him that the strike was of political origin, and I intend to substantiate my statement. Senator Needham, who has just sat down, talked a lot about the condition of affairs in America, a country which he has never visited, but his statements were mere assertions without proof. Some time before the conscription referendum was held, this matter of a general strike was discussed at a conference of the waterside workers in Hobart, and, at the time, one of the newspapers charged that body with an attempt to engineer trouble. Though the organization passed resolutions contradicting the newspaper report, the minutes of the conference show that the press statements were correct, because a three days’ discussion did take place, and motions were moved that, in the event of the referendum being in favour of conscription, a cessation of work should be ordered. Exception has been taken to the charge made by the Prime Minister that the present strike is a revolt against the Government. But Mr. Hughes knew what he was speaking about. No union has gained more from the principle of compulsory arbitration than the waterside workers. Before Mr. Hughes organized them, they were in receipt of a miserable wage, but by means of the principle of compulsory arbitration they have become the best paid wharf labourers in the whole world; so this is about) the last body in Australia that should endeavour to upset the Government of the 3ay, and thwart the will of the people. I find from the minutes of the conference to which I have referred that, on the 24th October of last year - the fourth day of the sitting - the following motion was moved by Mr. A. W. Wilson, and seconded by Mr. H. G. Walsh: -
That the standing ordersbe suspended to discuss what course of action this conference will advise the branches to take in the event of the conscription referendum being carried.
That motion was agreed to, and this was followed by another motion, submitted by Mr, Wilson, and seconded by Mr. W. Barr -
That this conference of waterside workers favour a cessation of work if the conscription referendum is carried, or if a Coalition Government should be formed.
If that is not a sufficient proof that the present trouble has been the result of a political move, right from the time of the conscription referendum up to the present, I do not know what more conclusive argument could be adduced.
– You ought to read a few resolutions from the Employers’ Federation minute-book now.
– But I am dealing with the waterside workers. Probably, if I read resolutions passed bv the Employers’ Federation, the honorable senator would suggest that I should read resolutions passed by the Waterside Workers’ Federation. I am merely doing what I set out to do.
– What has this to do with the question before the Senate?
– It shows that the present industrial disturbance is not due to genuine industrial discontent, but that it is a political move. This matter was discussed by the Hobart Conference for two or three days, and on the 24th October-
– What paper are you reading from?
– I am not reading from a paper. I am reading from the official minutes of the conference, sent to me as treasurer of the Waterside Workers’ Federation.
– Minutes dealing with the conscription referendum.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - Give us something dealing with the matter before us.
– I know I am giving honorable senators something which they do not like, but which they cannot dispute.
– We know all about those minutes.
– But. I am going to let other people know. Though the Hobart newspaper was contradicted the minutes of the conference show that a section of the waterside workers were determined, to bring about a stoppage of work in the event of the conscription referendum being carried or a Coalition Government formed. The matter was not introduced in a haphazard manner, because I find from the minutes that it was discussed on the following day, and this is an amendment which was moved by Mr. Ward, and seconded by Mr. Walsh -
That this conference recommend to the branches, in the event of conscription being carried, or a Coalition Government being formed, to ally themselves with all industrial and political bodies to oppose such by all means in their power.
– That was to oppose the conscription issue.
– “By all means in their power.” This policv is being given effect to at the present time.
– But conscription was not carried.
– But a Coalition Government was formed.
– Here is another amendment moved by Mr. Wood, and seconded by Mr. Bell -
That this conference recommend to the branches, in the event of conscription of life and industry being carried in any of its forms, that they ally themselves with all industrial and political bodies to oppose such by all means in their power.
There is not much difference between the two amendments, though both were submitted. The whole trouble, as I have shown, has been engineered as a political move againstthe constituted Governments of the day which had received a mandate from the country. That mandate unionists have challenged by engineering a general strike. As evidencing the candour, truthfulness, and honour of these people, the facts I am quoting constitute the best exposure that one can read.
– How do we know they are not a fake?
– Does Senator McDougall question them ?
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
– From the official minutes of the conference which were forwarded to me as treasurer of the Waterside Workers Union.
– And the honorable senator is reading them here?
– Yes. Why should I not do so ?
– Lovely !
– A further amendment, by Messrs. Wilson and Burroughs reads -
That the chairman and secretary wait on the representatives of the Mercury and the Daily Post to ask them to correct the report that this conference did consider the advisability of bringing about a general strike on or before the taking of the referendum on Saturday, the 28th October.
Tho conference did not deny that it was proposed to organize a general strike after the 28th October. It merely challenged the declaration that it was intended to take action before that date.
– That is too thin. The honorable senator means to say that its members were agreeable to organizing a general strike after 28th October, but not before. He is twisting their words.
– They said that they did not consider any proposal to bring about a general strike when they were charged with having done so by the newspapers.- They merely instructed their secretary to squirm out of the position under the plea that it was not proposed to organize a general strike before the referendum was taken, thus admitting that they were willing to do so after the referendum.
– I deny that
– Does Senator O’Keefe question the minutes from which I am reading?
– I deny the honorable senator’s statement entirely.
– I am merely reading what is before me. On Monday, the 30th October; this motion was carried -
That the secretary give a written denial to the statement in the Mercury newspaper that a general strike was discussed at this conference.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The question which we are now discussing is of such great importance that the Government ought to exhaust every means in their power to bring to a speedy end the existing industrial trouble,- It is a reflection upon the Government of New
South Wales that the dispute has been allowed to proceed as far as it has proceeded. We are told by the daily newspapers of this city that there are 65,000 or 70,000 persons out of work in New South Wales, and the same journals gravely inform us that the industries of that State are being kept going satisfactorily by 6,000 loyalists. In other words, these 6,000 so-called “loyalists” are doing the work which was formerly done by 70,000 unionists. I say that the press is out to mislead the people.
– Could not the position taken up by the press be explained by the fact that the 65,000 unionists had adopted a “ slowing-down “ process ?
– At the seat of this industrial trouble - Sydney - there may be seen in the Domain upon any Sunday 150,000 persons listening to the utterances of the strike leaders. Surely that is an indication of the trend of public opinion there.
– Does the honorable senator argue that those 150,000 persons are in favour of the strike ?
– The people of Sydney, who know the facts of the dispute, undoubtedly give an indication upon one day in each week of where their sympathies lie.
– They look upon Sunday in the Domain as a “ day out.”
– What are the facts? That a body comprising several thousand men intimated to their employers, the Railways Commissioners, months ago, that the introduction of the card system would not be tolerated under any circumstances short of absolute starvation. The Government of New South Wales, who are responsible for the conduct of affairs in that State, knew that the railway employees would object to the adoption of that system, and fully realized the consequences which would flow from forcing it upon them. I say that responsible officials like the Railways Commissioners ought, at least, to be expected to take note of the conditions under which we are living to-day. Yet, in spite of the fact that we are at war, and notwithstanding their unqualified promise to the deputation referred to by Senator Gardiner, that under no circumstances would new conditions be imposed on the workers in Government employ during the conduct of the war, they deliberately insisted upon the introduction of the card system.
Senator de Largie has said that there is a political move behind the strike. I believe that there is; but I believe that it is a very different move from that which the honorable senator outlined. I believe that it emanated from the Employers’ Federation and from the moneyed power of this country a long time ago. Since the members of that organization have a number of honorable senators opposite in the bag,” and are under the impression that the latter are such useful tools in their employ that they cannot push them too far- 1
– That is a nice statement to make.
– When this strike commenced, only a few men refused to work - those directly concerned in the dispute. The Government of New south Wales was then in’ a position to say, “ These are the skilled men in our employ, without whom the industries of the country cannot be carried on.” Obviously, if “scabs” manned the engines, it would be only a matter of time when all the locomotives would be in the repair shops. It was manifest, therefore, that a few skilled workmen could paralyze industry. Consequently, the Government might well have said to the Railways Commissioners, “This is too serious a matter for us to allow you to jeopardize the welfare of this country.” We all know that the Queensland Premier, Mr. Ryan, requisitioned for the services of Mr. Justice Higgins to enable a settlement of the trouble to be arrived at; but the Prime Minister was so concerned about it that he refused the request. Had he said to Mr. Fuller, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, “ In order to insure the carrying on of the industries of this country, I insist that this trouble must cease, and that you should utilize the services of Mr. Justice Edmunds-
– He- was the Judge who dealt with the coal trouble, I think. How long did his decision bind the men ?
– Had the Prime Minister insisted upon Mr.’ Fuller accepting the,services of Mr. Justice Higgins, the trouble would have been settled in two hours..
The New South Wales railway employees had clearly indicated their strong objection to the card system. What were their grounds for so acting, I do not know; but I do know that every organization in America has kicked the system out of the workshops of that country. I also know that Mr. Lloyd George insisted upon the system being kept out of the workshops of Great Britain.
– What card system is that?
– The Taylor system.
– What authority has the honorable senator for his statement ?
– My authority is the press of this country. The newspapers have published quite a number of statements concerning the strike, but only one journal has published the manifesto issued by the men, and that journal did so in defiance of the censor.
But instead of the Commonwealth Government insisting upon a settlement being made on the lines I have indicated, its members, from the Prime Minister downwards, have dubbed the strikers “ disloyalists.” The Minister for Defence described them, as “.mutineers.” The Prime Minister stated that he could detect Teutonic influences, at the bottom of the trouble. I say that if there is one section of the community which cannot be bought by German gold it is composed of the workers of this country. I do not think, for one moment, that the German people are so stupid as to spend their money on the workers of Australia in the belief that they will get much out of their propaganda. They would find it a lot easier to bribe people in high places in this country than to bribe the workers. They would find it very much cheaper to bribe the Railways Commissioners than to bribe the men in the whole of the railway workshops of New South Wales. Yet these were the insults which were heaped upon the workers - upon the men who have made Australia a place worth fighting for, and who have all their relatives fighting at the Front. It has been urged that the. men on strike are disloyal to the men in the trenches. I say that for every man ‘ scabbing ‘ ‘ on the wharfs and in the workshops to-day who is a returned soldier, we can find fifty returned soldiers amongst the ranks of the strikers. Yet the latter are described as “ disloyalists “- by the Prime Minister, who has “ratted “ on every promise that he ever made. These are the things which our people are supposed to take in silence.
No one deplores a strike more than I do. I have been through a number of them, but I would never allow my dignity, or the dignity of any other person over whom I had any control or influence, to stand in the way of averting such a trouble as exists in Australia to-day. I believe that even at this very late hour, if the Prime Minister did what he should have done at first, and said, “ Mr. Fuller, we have had enough of this. You take on the service of one of our High Court Judges, and allow him to adjudicate upon the card system,” the men would go to work, as they offered to do. They went so far as to say, “ We are prepared, if you will hold up the card system for one week, and in the interval appoint a commissioner to go into the merits of the system, to go to work on Monday morning, and we undertake to abide, during the period of the war, by whatever decision the arbitrator makes.” Could a more common - sense proposal be made? Surely it is time that the responsible people of this country made the New South Wales Government take ‘ on the fair offer of the men. If theyhad done so we should have avoided all the present trouble. Every one knows what a calamity it is to Australia that all our industries should be hung up, and our ships lying idle in our harbors. That is no good to any one in this country, and it is a state of things that ought to be put a stop to at once. There are only two ways of stopping it. There is the humane, common-sense, statesmanlike way of settling the difficulty which I have indicated, and there is in the alternative the inhumane way by which the Government may, perhaps, starve men into accepting conditions which otherwise they would never accept. These are the two alternatives, and I say that the responsibility is upon the members of the Federal Government, and those supporting them, to make the Government of New South Wales adopt the sane one of them. I have stated the two alternative methods of dealing with the trouble, and honorable senators opposite, and the party they represent, will be called upon some day, perhaps in the near future, to say what action they took in the matter. They will be asked by the electors of this coun try what they did when the strike was on. They will be asked, “ Did you use your influence with the Federal Government to have the strike settled in a common-sense way, with a view to saving the country the loss of millions of money and a vast deal of heartburning and suffering.’’ That is all that I desire to say on this question. I have said what I believe should be done, and the responsibility for doing it is on the National Government of Australia, and on no other.
.- I desire to say a few words on this question.I approach the subject as calmly and deliberately as it is possible for me to do. I feel that speeches such as that just delivered by Senator Barnes have, not only since the strike occurred, but ever since the beginning of October, built up the industrial unrest and dissatisfaction which has culminated in the general strike with which we are faced to-day. I recognise that Senator Barnes is quite sincere, but I honestly think that he is misguided, and is making a great mistake. I can picture the honorable senator delivering such a speech as he has just now made to the 150,000 people in the Sydney Dom,ain. I can imagine I hear his eloquence addressed to the men, and also the influence it would have in convincing them that the National Government of to-day are corrupt, that they are in the grasp of the Employers’ Federation, that they are the hirelings of capitalists out to cruel and crucify unionists.
– That is only a little of the honorable senator’s own medicine.
– Those would be the kind of words with which the honorable senator would convince the 150,000 he would address in the Sydney Domain that theirs is a just cause in the present conflict.
– They do not need to be convinced about that; they know it.
– Let me ask honorable senators to consider the position we are in at the present time. I. realize all that is due to unionism. No member of the Senate has a greater admiration than I have for the work done by unions in the past, or for the legitimate work being done by them to-day. I recognise that the majority of the liberties which the people of Australia enjoy to-day were won by thehard work of the pioneer unionists of old. I realize the suffering those men went through when there was’ no industrial law to rectify or redress their grievances.
– The honorable senator would not be on the other side ifhe realized it.
– I have had more union experience than the honorable senator. I realize what unionists have done, and appreciate it. They have won their way to such a position to-day that industrial grievances can now be settled in a lawful tribunal by an impartial Judge. There is no grievance from which the workers of Australia are suffering to-day that cannot be equitably adjusted by an appeal to one of the industrial tribunals that have been established for the purpose. When we consider what unionists and their wives and children suffer from an industrial strike we are forced to conclude that such a strike is not merely foolish, but absolutely suicidal. It is destructive of unionism itself, but at a time like the present, when we have all the machinery for the adjustment of industrial differences by lawful Courts, it is absolutely stupid and altogether unnecessary.
Let me direct the attention of honorable senators to our position as a democratic people. We are to-day as much at war with Germany as are any of the other Allies involved. We must realize that. Weare a thoroughly democratic community, and the Australian line of defence extends from General Birdwood to the nippers at work in the industrial shops of Australia to-day. What would our people think if our 360,000 men came out of the trenches in Flanders to-day and refused to fight? What must those men think when men employed in the workshops of Australia, because of some grievance with the management, throw down their arms and refuse to perform their part in the great conflict for the defence of Australia? I am satisfied that the men on strike do not realize the position, and while honorable senators and other public men make inflammatory speeches to them they will not realize it. It is the duty of every member of the Senate and of every public man in Australia to impress upon the men on strike that they should forbear, and should resort to constitutional tribunals for the adjustment of their grievances.
– Should not the other side do the same?
– If there is some grievance for which they cannot possibly obtain redress by a resort to the legal tribunals open to them, and if they are driven to extremes, let it be in the time of peace.
It is not the card system that is the cause of the difficulty. I worked under the card system thirty years ago.
– No, the honorable senator did not.
– I maintain that I did, and I had no difficulty with it.
– It was not invented thirty years ago.
– Senator Gardiner, in a cool and deliberate speech, read what is contained in the card that has been considered so objectionable. Honorable senators must conclude, as I do, that the honorable senator in support of his proposal would bring under our notice the card which, in his opinion, would most impress us in favour of the cause of the men.
– I brought the only card I had a copy of.
– If the honorable senator quoted the only card he could obtain I say that he was enabled to obtain the one which it was felt carried the most conclusive evidence that the system complained of was bad. There was only one thing in the card quoted to which any one could take exception, and for my part I say that it is absurd to take exception to a man placed in charge of a body of men being asked to place on record, verbally or in writing his opinion of the men working under him. Every boss, every sub-manager, every person placed in authority over a number of men, is held responsible for the good working of the branch of the ‘business of which he is given charge. If a man placed in such a position has men under him whose work is unsatisfactory he is held responsible for any failure in carrying out the work expected of him, if he does not report, either by a written card, letter, or report, or by a verbal statement, the fact that some of his men are not satisfactory. If any ‘ honorable senator opposite were placed in charge of a dozen, fifteen, or twenty men, and found that three of them were not doing a fair day’s work, that they were loafing on their comrades, and th,at, unless their comrades did more than a fair thing the aggregate work of the gang would not be what it ought to be, he would find it necessary., even to preserve harmony amongst the men themselves, to report to the foreman or manager of the works the men who were unsatisfactory, if he had not the authority to discharge them. What, would there be wrong about that?
Here we have a general industrial rebellion in Australia because the management of one industry thought fit to issue certain regulations for its conduct which were objectionable to some of the men employed. The men concerned do not understand dr realize the enormity of their offence. I say that it is an offence. It is the first time in my life that I have had to raise my voice against an industrial section fighting their employers. This is the first strike that I have known when I could conscientiously stand up and say that it is unjustified, and that it is a crime against the country to attempt to justify it. .
– The honorable senator would not say that to-day if he had remained with his own party.
– I am with my party, with the men who place Australia before personal interests. I am not with Senator O’Keefe, who, I am sure, would very gladly be with me.
– The honorable senator is not where he started.
– Yes, I am, exactly where I started. If I have to speak of myself, I say that I was returned by a majority of the electors of the State I represent on a clear pronouncement that my policy was exactly the same as that upon which I was first elected to Parliament.
– The honorable senator was returned as a member of the National party, to win the war.
– I was returned to assist the Government, who are doing their best to win the war, and. I have succeeded in keeping out of office those who intended to do all they could to lose the war.
– Why does not the honorable senator try to stop the strike ?
– What does Senator McDougall wish us to do? He says that the Government will not stop the strike.
– They will not win the war either. What have they been doing in the last four months to win the war?
– The Government have done all that has been humanly possible while faced with the opposition of such men as Senator Ferricks. He does not realize it, but if there is anything which he can do to prevent us winning the war, the honorable senator is doing it.
– You are a liar.
– Order! I ask Senator Ferricks to withdraw that statement, and apologize for making it. I was noticing him carefully, and I saw that he made it deliberately. He must know that it is unparliamentary and disorderly.
– It is unparliamentary but fully warranted; however, I withdraw it.
– The honorable senator must not aggravate his offence by saying that his statement was fully warranted. . He must withdraw it unreservedly.
– I withdraw it unreservedly.
– In a great measure the cause of this strike has been the successful effort made by a large number of public men and others to give the workers the impression that the National Government are out to cripple and ‘banish unionism. Over the length and breadth of Australia, without any warrant and without anything to support their argument, without a tittle of truth in their statements, speakers impressed upon the workers that if this Government obtained a majority on the 5th May, it was goodbye to the industrial and political liberty which they have fought for and enjoyed so long. That statement is absolutely- untrue. Every member of the National party would give an assurance to that effect if necessary, and would certainly resent any effort being made to prevent the industrial section of this country organizing for the betterment of their industrial and political conditions. On the day that the National party interfere with the right of any body of men to organize legitimately for the protection of their rights and privileges, and the betterment of their condition, on that day I shall certainly cease to be a member of it.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator FERRICKS (Queensland) to follow the bellowings of the last speaker, except to say that his speech forces upon one the realization that there is no worse renegade, and none more bitter, than the political renegade who deserts the Labour party. Men of that kind, of course, can never aspire to ‘be like the real Conservative. They can never be the “pure merino,” but they must try to be as like it as they can; and, with that enid in view, the more bitterness they display, and ‘the more hos:tility they show to the party that made them, the more they think they are pleasing lie people whose favours they hope to obtain. I am not surprised that Senator Earle left the Labour party. The surprise to me is that he was ever in it.
I am rather sorry that Senator Millen did not follow the clear-cut lines laid down by Senator Gardiner in .dealing fully with the strike in New South Wales as it exists to-day, and its causes. I was sorry that Senator Millen fell back on the old platitudes of I.W.W.-ism, treachery, and disloyalty, being at the bottom of the trouble in New South Wales. It appeared to me that, after the boosting the Industrial Workers of the World received at the hands of the Prime Minister and his followers at the last election, it would be a grave error, in the interests of Australia, to give it a further boost in connexion with this strike. The Industrial Workers of the World, prior to the notoriety and advertisement given to it by the Prime Minister and his followers for electioneering purposes before the 5th May last, was relatively an. insignificant entity in Australia, but it got such a boost on that occasion that it has made advancement since. The curiosity of the people has been aroused, and they attend Industrial Workers of the World’s meetings. Iti now appears that the Government are going to boost the Industrial Workers .of the World further in Australia- because nothing shoves things along in this country like advertisement That is why I regret the tenor of Senator Millen’s speech.
While we realize fully all. the evils, horrors, and hardships attendant on a widespread industrial upheaval of this nature, the one pleasing aspect of it to me is the disappointment of those who expected the smashing up of this strike ab the very earliest stages at the hands of returned soldiers.
– Who expected it?
– It has been expected in Australia for the past two years. I have heard iti in the trains and on the boats, as far up as the North of Queensland. I have heard one commercial man say, “ Where is this going to end ? What is going to stop it?’.’ and I have heard another reply, “ The returned soldiers when they come back.” That is the general expectation in conversations of that kind, and I am pleased to agree with Senator Barnes that the Government will not get the returned soldiers to “ scab,” as has been amply demonstrated during the past month in New South Wales. We have the information from Sydney that returned soldiers, to the number of 400 or 500, wearing their medals, have taken part in the strikers’ procession. Yet the members of the National party opposite, who profess, to be fair, unbiased, and nonparty in a matter like this, are supporting a Government which is responsible for censoring information to the effect that returned soldiers are in any way allied with the strikers or their processions. From the censor’s office in Melbourne, an instruction has been issued to the daily papers to the following effect: -
I am directed to inform you that publicationis prohibited of any matter to the effect that returned soldiers are in sympathy with or assisting strikers or taking part in any meetingsor processions.
What have honorable senators opposite to say to that? Can any one of them indorse or defend that) instruction ?. They are silent now, even Senator de Largie. Yet the party which they support, the party which was responsible for putting them where they are to-day, the party responsible for enticing them away from this party, which Senator de Largie, in his recently acquired affluence referred to as “ the poverty-stricken Labour party,” has issued instructions to that effect. It is afraid to let the people of Australia know that the returned soldiers are passing resolutions in support of, and sympathy with, the strikers in New South Wales, and taking part in their processions.
There is not the shadow of a doubt that the upheaval in New South Wales is ‘the result of a deep laid and well organized conspiracy for an attack upon the fundamental and basic principles of unionism and labour. In support’ of tbat statement, I can go back to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech read at the opening of Parliament, and containing this significant reference -
It is proposed to take steps for the purpose of insuring the continuity of industrial operations and the prevention of strikes or lockouts which would affect the efficient prosecution of the war. Among these will be a measure proposing certain amendments in the Commonwealth Conciliation’ and Arbitration Act.
That was the first announcement. Concurrently, stocks of coal were being laid up in New South Wales in anticipation of trouble.
– That coal was laid up for the purpose of getting the anticipated rush of wheat away from Australia by British boat’s. Do not try to connect that up.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance on that point. But in every statement issued by Mr. Fuller, the Premier of New South Wales, in the early stages of the strike, there was some reference to what he was pleased to term the “new unionism.” What did that mean? Did it mean breaking away from the industrial movement as we have it today? There must have been so.me difference. The Melbourne Age of 27th August said -
It is stated that as soon as the strike is over the Government intends to invite all Government employees to form one big union, pacific in character, and without any political affiliation, aspiration or control. Each branch of the service will have its own separate organization, and will elect delegates to sit on the grand council, which will control the affairs of all. The body will he free and untrammelled, with a membership of about 400,000, bat each section will be able to apply to the Industrial Court for an award. Awards now in force for separate organizations will be transferred to corresponding bodies in the new big organization.
There were references to the new unionism in every statement Mr. Fuller issued.
– Is that the Fuller who gave evidence in the Harper ease?
-Yes ; he was one of the twelve who did not go to gaol over the Ronald-Harper case. Is this new unionism “ scab “ unionism ? We have not had a definition of it.
– Unionists that will obey the law.
– The strikers in New South Wales andin Queensland are asking for the arbitration law to be put into operation, and cannot get it. The
Argus, in its issue of Tuesday, 14th August, announced -
We want a new unionism-
A unionism which they can command, which will be pacific in character, which will be servile, which will not ask for better wages and conditions, and which will not go on strike ! -
We want a new unionism with national ideas to rise from the ashes of the old, leaving in the fire all the dross that has been accumulating through its contact with I.W.W.-ism and anarchy. Then we will lend all the aid that experience has given us to help them.
There is the reference to anarchy again. We had it just now, on the authority of Senator Earle, that there were 150,000 people in the. Sydney Domain the other Sunday. Senator Gardiner gives us the same assurance. Are we to assume that those 150,000 people, assembled there that afternoon, were all members of the Industrial Workers of the World?
– No ; nor that they were all in sympathy with the strikers.
– The fact that Senator Millen and Senator Earle are harping on this Industrial Workers of the World business would give outsiders the impression that there was nobody else connected with the strike than members of the Industrial Workers of the World. That is an anti-national, anti-Australian, and “stinking-fish” report to send to the other side of the world.
These people have also laid it down that the card system seeks to get the highest efficiency out of the men. That is the most favorable thing that they can say for the system. I put it to honorable senators opposite, particularly those who have passed through various occupations, that if they take any three men, say, Smith, Brown, and Robinson, they will find variations in their work. Robinson is an excellent workman, and would do a certain job in an hour and three-quarters. Smith is not such a good man as Robinson in the application of tools. Although physically he may be just as strong as Robinson, it would take him two hours to do the job. Perhaps a difference of a quarter of an hour is a big stretch to make, but I do so for the sake of convenience. The second man would take two hours to do the job. But the third man, equally well-intentioned and working as hard as, perhaps harder than, either the first or second man, would take two hours and a quarter to do the same amount of work. Is any employer - State or private - entitled to have all his men up to the efficiency of Robinson, the first man, who can do the job in an hour and three- ‘ quarters? If he is, then what is to become of the other two-thirds in the community? Any employer, State or private, will have to be satisfied with the law of averages. Senator Fairbairn will find that in shearing and carpentering, and even in shovelling, equally strong and experienced men, working equally hard, do not do the same amount of work. In skilled work like shearing, it is impossible, and it is also impossible in such an apparently simple work as shovelling muck into a truck. Observe two shovellers working alongside each other, equally experienced and working equally hard. One man will do a lot more work than the other man, and with apparent ease. Take two miners working at a face. One man will bore a hole 9 inches deeper than the other, because he is a better man with the hammer and drill, but he does not ask for any more wages. A mining employer is not entitled to sack every man who does not come up to the highest pitch. Nor is the introduction of the card system justified in the endeavour to bring every employee in a factory or institution up to the point of the highest efficiency obtaining there. The idea is unsound.
– He gets it in coal mining.
– Coal mining, like shearing, is piece work. The contention is economically unsound.
– It is the proper system, too.
– The contention cannot be justified that the highest pitch of efficiency should be given to the employer, private or State. The employer must be satisfied with the law of averages.
– Assuming all that you say, may it not be intended to get the averages by the card system?
– If that is so, iC is not necessary to ask questions behind the backs of the men, nor has it been the experience in America, where men over the age of forty years have found themselves displaced from the factories Decause they were not able to come up to the highest pitch of ‘efficiency.
– What is your authority for that statement?
– The cablegrams stating that President Wilson and Samuel Gompers; the president of” the Americano Federation, agreed, as they had to do before the workers would accept the conditions in the munition factories, that the Taylor card system must be abolished
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time limit has expired.
– I feel rather sorry that honorable senators opposite did not bring forward this question in a more conciliatory spirit. It has been approached in the same old Domain style. It has been approached by honorable senators just as if they were addressing the men who are out on strike? The speeches have been one-sided, bitter, and, if I may use the term, classconscious. I am not approaching the question with any bias. I have known what it is to be in the same position as are our honorable friends opposite. I am familiar with the contemptible terms which Senator Ferricks used this afternoon towards the men who were turned out of the Labour party, and came over to this side. The use of such terms does not settle or clear up the industrial trouble one way or the other. The point is that in this continent we have what may be called a social revolution. It is of no use to shut our eyes and call it an ordinary strike, because it is more than an ordinary strike. All the constituted authorities in Australia are being defied. All industrial agreements have been broken. All the efforts which have been made to humanize the conditions of the workers, to give them better hours, and generally to improve their lot, have been thrown to one side, not only during the present crisis, but almost ever since the Conciliation and Arbitration Court was established.
– The employers have been the greatest offenders in that regard.
– I am not going to defend the employers or denounce the employees, but to point out what, from my point of view, is the cause in a large measure of the present trouble.
I desire to call the attention of honorable senators opposite, and of their friends outside, to a phase of the question which has not been touched upon this ‘afternoon.. A few moments ago I spoke of a social revolution in this continent. Those who. know the history of trade unionism, and what brought the Labour movement into existence, will not attempt at any time to interfere with the movement or to destroy it in any way, I realize that the talk from the other side is good gallery stuff for our honorable friends. I know* that it will bring rounds of applause to them to say that the Nationalist party are going to destroy trade unionism. But they know that the statement is not true. They know that it is simply gallery talk intended to inflame the passions of the crowd outside. I am nob aware of any State authority in Australia which wishes to destroy trade unionism.
– They want “ scab “ unionism, though.
– I should like to hear where the “ scab “ unions are. I know something about _ the history of trade unionism in Australia, and no honorable senator on the other side can tell me much in that regard. I know that very few of the men who are now prominent in what is called the Labour movement have ever done much for the cause or suffered for it. Those who came into the Labour movement in latter days are reaping all the benefits gained by the men who were its active advocates in the early days, when it did need some grit to be a unionist, or even to be a leader of unionism.
– There is a bigger percentage of them on this side.
– I deny that.
– Order! I think that this discussion is rather beside the question.
– I was leading up to this point, sir: that in the years when trade unionism was fighting for an existence in this country, and when it had a great mission to perform, it did a wonderful work for the Democracy of Australia and her welfare, even from a commercial point of view.
Ey constituted authority, Arbitration Courts have been created. Any body of men can form themselves into a union, and go before the Arbitration Court and get an award as to certain conditions which will put them in a very fair way. The majority of the men who have formed these unions of late years are not trade unionists in the old sense of the term. They simply organized to improve their own conditions, a proceeding which I do not find fault with. They came together without any thought of unionism, or knowledge of its past history. They have succeeded in getting almost everything they have demanded until they begin to look upon unionism as a weapon which gives them the power to wrest more and more concessions from employers and constituted authorities. They go to the Arbitration Courts and get improved conditions without ever having had to endure any suffering in the cause of unionism. They have no ideals. They have no conception of the ideals which have permeated the Labour party, or the Labour movement. They are simply actuated by the one thought of getting shorter hours and more money. This agitation has taught young men in thousands to become selfish. It has led them to utterly forget their duty to the State, and to, their employer.
– Do you say that men are getting high wages when they receive 9s. 3d. a day?
– The Arbitration Courts have given the men fairly good wages; certainly higher wages than they had when, they were disorganized. I do not object to that. What I complain of is that, in the past, State and Federal Governments have been too weak to see that the agreements arrived at in the Courts were carried out. The men have deliberately broken their agreements and treated them as mere scraps of paper. If it could only be realized that this legislation is an experiment in industrialism and commercialism both sides would try. to keep. the agreements, and, if necessary, go to the Court later to have them varied in a constitutional way.
What has been the history of the Arbitration Court? Almost as soon as agreements have been signed they have been broken. The men want not only the Arbitration Court, but Parliament- and every other power, bent to their will, so that they can have their own way and be right under any set. of conditions. I do not think any honorable senators on the other side will deny that statement. It is one of the weaknesses of the Labour movement. I should like to see the trade unions take a stand as we did in the early days, and make the men carry out the agreements, even if they should have to suffer under some grievances for a while. It is far better to suffer under a grievance for a time than to break an agreement before it has expired.
– Why do you not favour the idea of the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales carrying out their promises and their agreements, too?
– I am not going into that aspect, because this question has reached beyond New South Wales, and become a national one. I was trying to point out to my honorable friends opposite what I consider to be one of the weaknesses of the Labour movement at the present day.. Unless an honorable compact be honorably kept all this experimental legislation will be more or less a farce. To-day thousands of people throughout Australia are asking what is the good of all this kind of legislation.
Any one who studies constitutional history, the rise and fall of Governments, or event of social movements, knows that at times all constituted authorities are swept away, and I would impress upon my friends that there is a danger of the same :fate befalling these institutions in Australia. I know that very often it is difficult for leaders to take a stand. I do not say that the men are being led by agitators, for I know that often, it is difficult for them to take a stand and conscientiously oppose what is being demanded by men behind the movement. Many of the men do not think. That is the trouble. They only feel, and because they feel pressure they are disposed to take action. Trouble is also being caused in the movement by the introduction of a large number of young men, who have been brought into the movement because of what it offers them. These are the men who are ruining the movement. They do not think; they have no knowledge, and they act selfishly. T cannot discuss the merits of the dispute in New South Wales, because I am. not acquainted with the technicalities at issue, but I feel that if the Prime Minister, as the head of the National Government, insisted upon constituted authority being observed and agreements kept, so as to insure continuity of employment, he would have the admiration of the public anyhow, and later on he would have the admiration of the’ workers themselves.
– Senator Millen’, in his reply to Senator Gardiner, complained that the latter had made a one-sided statement, but after Senator Millen ‘s speech I am inclined to think that honours are fairly even, because, if Senator Gardiner urged the merits of the position from one side, Senator Millen’s speech equally represented the view of the New South Wales Government. The Minister also said that one of .the objects of the. strike was to pull down constituted authority; that it was a conspiracy on the part of those responsible for the strike to in jure Great Britain and her Allies. It is a pity that this great question was approached this afternoon in a party spirit. When our friends opposite have the temerity to say that all the party bitterness comes from this side, they do not know what they are talking about, because a bitter party speech was delivered by Senator Earle, and what was practically a party speech was made by Senator Millen himself, and certainly ‘ Senator de Largie made a bitter party speech. It does not matter ‘to me very much which, side is in the right or wrong in this struggle, but I am concerned with the fact that the people of Australia are suffering today, suffering probably as they have not suffered for many years, and if the trouble lasts much longer, the industrial, commercial, and social upheaval will be worse than any they have ever been called upon to face. I speak feelingly on this subject, because I happen to belong to a State which is cut off from the mainland. There is no communication with Tasmania except by sea, and only one ship, commandeered by the Government, is conveying passengers and goods to that State.
– Who cut the communication ?
– If I were to argue this matter with Senator de Largie for two or three hours, I have no doubt he would be satisfied that the trouble was caused by one side, and probably I would be just as much satisfied that it was caused by the other. I am not going to listen to a tirade of abuse against the workers. If some have made mistakes they have in the press of Australia plenty; of enemies to traduce them.
I admit frankly that I do not know enough of the merits of this dispute to go into its technicalities, but I do know that a tremendous industrial upheaval has taken place, that much bitterness exists, and that great suffering is being experienced by the people of Australia. Senator Reid said just now that the unions of to-day were nob willing to undergo suffering like the unionists of his time, but I point out that in all the big cities affected by this industrial trouble we are face to face with a great deal of suffering, and that many thousands, aye, tens of thousands, of men are not able to live up to their former standard of comfort because their earning power has been brought to an end.
We should leave post-mortem examinations of a trouble like this alone, and see if there is a way out. I am notconcerned with an inquiry as to which side was primarily wrong in this dispute, but I do want to know if there is a way out, and the suggestion made by SenatorGardiner presents a ‘better opportunity than any proposal made up to the present by the Prime Minister. Senator Gar- , diner has made a proposition in broad, general terms. He does not tie down the Government to any details, and his suggestion is at least worthy of consideration by this Parliament. If, as has been alleged, members of the Labour party have approached this question from a party stand-point, what could be said of the attitude of the Prime Minister - a man who, if he could for a day or two, should forget that he is fighting on one side in the political arena, and the man to whom Australia is looking to do something to prevent any further extension of this trouble. Every speech made by him for some weeks past has been of a bitter partisan nature. Bead the newspapers of this city, the Age and the Argus today, each giving a statement apparently official, because it is the same in each journal. The Prime Minister states -
As to the cause of this unhappy and menacing condition of affairs, I do not propose to say more than that the cause alleged, i.e., the introduction of what is called the card system in the railway work-shops of New South Wales - .which, at the worst, could affect only the merest fraction of those men on strike - is, on the face of it, a mere pretext.
He is not disposed to believe that the nien have any rights or any genuine cause of grievance. That is not a proper attitude for a great man and the Leader of a Government to adopt, especially at 41 time like the present. It would redound! to his credit, and he would go down ia history as a greater man, if he would take up a more conciliatory attitude on this subject. He goes on to say -
The real cause is an organized attempt by the extremists, who now control the union movement, to render constitutional government impossible.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable senator, who is one of the latest supporters of the Employers Federation, says “hear, hear,” to the Prime Minister’s statement. Mr. Hughes continues -
In plain words, this is a revolt, and not a strike; its motives are not industrial, but political. And the great mass of unionists are being led to their destruction to serve the ends of those selfish and reckless men whose disloyal and foolish counsels and tyrannical actions rent the Labour movement asunder and brought about its political debacle on 5th Hay. Mr. Fuller stated publicly that he had ample proof of this fact.
Mr. Fuller has not made this proof public -
But for those who know these men, and of what they are capable, no proof is needed.
In that statement Mr. Hughes lumped together all those men who came out originally, but I know that a large number ofmen have come out under the sympathetic strike. Why does not the Prime Minister try to get to the heart of the trouble, and see if something can be done to prevent its extension 1 If a tribunal acceptable. to both parties were appointed, the New South Wales railway men would cease the strike, and those who are out in sympathy would immediately go back to their employment.
It- is not too late even now to take action. Our Constitution states* in so many words, that at a time (ike the present the National Government should take precedence. A fig for the dignity of either side ! I do not care two> straws for the dignity of Mr. Fuller, as Acting Premier of New South Wales, or for the dignity of the leaders of the railway men in New South Wales on the other hand, if it is possible to end this* trouble on a satisfactory basis. In every, speech he has made on this question, tha Prime Minister has intimated that he ia not prepared to intervene between the
New South Wales Government and the strikers. It is a crying shame that no action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government to end this great industrial trouble. The people refuse to believe that the genius of our race for government has suddenly become so paralyzed that there cannot be found an honorable way out of the struggle. They do not care anything for the dignity of
Mr. Fuller or that of the railway employees. If the intervention of Mr. Hughes brought about a settlement of this unfortunate industrial disturbance, he would be thought a great deal more of than he is to-day.
At the present time people are pointing to the fact that, while this sooalled National Government was returned for the express purpose of winning the war, it is remaining passive in the face of actions which prevent us doing our part in winning the war. It cannot be denied that when industry is paralyzed for several weeks, Australia is not doing anything towards winning’ the war. Nor are we doing anything to prepare for the position we shall have to face when the war has ended. The -Ministerial party has a big majority in both branches of this Parliament, and I feel sure that if it chose to come down from the high horse of dignity, it could do something towards bringing about a speedy settlement of the strike. But the Prime Minister refuses to act, because he considers that to do so would be an un- warrantable interference on his part between Mr. Fuller and State employees. Surely he ought to recollect that it is not merely Mr. Fuller and State employees who are concerned in this trouble, but every State Government and its employees and every private employer and his employees. I do hope that it is not too late, even now, for the Government to intervene.
– I would not have spoken upon this motion but for the remark of Senator Needham that I am here to represent the employers. I give that statement a distinct denial. I am here to represent the Nationalists who returned me on the 5th May last. I hope that I shall represent them well. I am also here to represent those electors who voted against me, and I shall do my best to see that they receive fair play. I bear no political animosity towards anybody, and if I can in any way assist those who are opposed to me my services will always be at their disposal.
I appreciate the motive that prompted Senator Gardiner to bring before us this afternoon the question of the urgent need which exists for terminating the present strike, which has been called a disloyal strike. In this connexion we have to recollect that it is a strike against the Constitution of the country. If Parliament is not to be supreme, we shall soon drift into the deplorable state which exists in Russia at the present time. The industrial trouble now confronting us is not a strike for increased wages or for shorter hours. The unionists do not plead that their wages are insufficient or their hours too long. To my mind, Senator Ferricks touched on a very vital point this afternoon. He spoke of a condition which, I believe, underlies a great deal of the industrial unrest that is now being experienced. He said that if tho card system were put into operation, some men who worked better than others would probably be paid more than would others. Some provision of that kind in our industrial life is absolutely necessary. Economically, it must come about. If a good man is not paid proportionately to the value of his services he will gradually slow down. Consequently some system of payment by results will have to be adopted - something in the nature of a minimum wage for the inefficient man, and a higher wage for the better man. In the absence of a system of that kind we shall be effecting a levelling downwards instead of a levelling upwards. Doubtless the card which was quoted by Senator Gardiner this afternoon was the one to which the strikers particularly objected, -and against the’ introduction of which they took such drastic action. That card provides that a suboverseer must report on men who are inefficient. Personally, I cannot see any possible objection to that.
– He must secretly report upon them. Why not do it openly?
– If be reports to a higher official, surely the latter may be trusted to bring the individual concerned before him, with a view to discovering what is wrong.
I have been in industrial turmoil ever since the maritime and shearing strikes of 1891, and we seem to be going from bad to worse.
– And the honorable senator has always been on the employers’ side.
– Quite naturally. In the old days when we used to be asked by the trade unions to meet their representatives in conference we frequently declined to do so. That was an arrogant spirit to exhibit - a spirit to which I was opposed. But nowadays the arrogance is upon the other side. The unions refuse to meet in conference the representatives of the employers. It is this spirit of pride which is the underlying cause of much industrial turmoil. If Senator Gardiner and his friends would only advise the strikers to give the card system a trial for three months, probably the trouble would be ended.
– What is wrong with holding an inquiry into it at once ?
– I think that the authorities who control the railway workshops in New South Wales are anxious to see the system given a trial. Afterwards iti could be the subject of an investigation with a view to ascertaining whether there is anything really objectionable in it.
Only the other day, one of the strikers said that the unions were far stronger than any Government in Australia. That was a deplorable statement to make. I appeal to the strikers and their representatives to reflect -upon what they are doing. I believe that some of them have sons at! the war. I can scarcely credit the statement, because the action of the strikers has hung up the ships that are required to carry goods that are urgently needed by our boys in the trenches. That seems to me a disloyal act. Let the men go to work under the card system for three months.
– Does not the honorable senator think it would be a good idea to abolish the card system and get the ships away?
– It is difficult to believe that men whose own kith and kin in the trenches sadly need woollen goods, and who are starving for want of food, should go upon strike at a time like this.
– Most of the men fighting at the Front are unionists.
– That circumstance ought to make their relatives here more unwilling to paralyze industry by refusing to load ships with the produce that is so’ badly required overseas. It seems to me that only a feeling of pride is preventing these men from resuming work. If the position were properly put to them by my honorable friends opposite, I am inclined to believe that the strike would speedily be terminated.
– What about the honorable senator whispering a word in the ears of the Government?
– I do not wish to see the Government give way. We must have discipline in this country.
We have heard a great deal of talk about high ideals. We were told that we were going to abolish strikes. But what has been the result of our efforts in this direction? During fourteen years of arbitration in connexion with industrial disputes, there have been 2,500 strikes in Australia.
– In New South Wales during a period of seven years, when the Arbitration Act was sympathetically administered, there was only one strike.
– Does the honorable senator affirm that the Arbitration Act has not been sympathetically administered by Mr. Justice Higgins?
– No ; and because of his sympathetic administration the employers have struck against his awards more frequently than have the employees.
– The accuracy of that statement I challenge. I am perfectly amazed to hear it. Mr. Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistican says that there have been over 2,500 strikes during the fourteen years that our Conciliation and Arbitration Court has been in existence. I cannot remember a single lockout during the whole of that time.
– What about the lock-out of the moulders in Melbourne twelve months ago?
– If there have been lock-outs, why have not the employers responsible been fined? They have their buildings , and properties, and they can be got at. So far, we have been unable to impose fines upon a great number of men who go out on strike. There is no disputing the fact that during the existence of a sympathetic Arbitration Court strikes have greatly increased, and we are being led into what Mr. Justice Higgins has called a Serbonian bog, whatever that may be.
– That is because of the Constitution, which the honorable senator, and those who think with him, have refused to amend so as to givethe Arbitration Court more power.
– I think that we shall amend the Constitution before long, to give the Court much more power to see that its awards are carried out. The law requires amendment in many ways.
One thing which I think is a disgrace to us, and which should be remedied before long, is the power to grant preference to unionists. I have always been in favour of industrial unionism, but not of political unionism. We cannot have political unionism and preference to unionists without at the same time interfering with the right of a man to vote as he thinks fit.
– The honorable senator has never found members of the Employers’ Federation voting Labour.
– I hope not. I ask honorable senators to put themselves for a moment inthe position of a man who joins one of these political unions, because they are nothing else since the industrial side of unionism has been dropped. A man joins one of these political unions, and when election day arrives one of his fellow unionists says to him, “ How are you going to vote, mate?” ‘A man should have the right to decide for himself how he will vote. If he says, “ I am not going to vote for the Labour nominee,” he is hunted, and his life is made a perfect hell upon earth.
– He has the ballot, and no one knows how he votes.
– Then he has to tell a lie, and I suppose men do not care to do that.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Perhaps it is just as well that this discussion should have taken place this afternoon. If every member of the Senate could speak on the motion, I feel that all would avail themselves of the opportunity to express the utmost regret and sorrow that this political cataclysm should have overtaken Australia. I am sure that honorable senators opposite, who have spoken so warmly, and inone or two instances in such a vituperative way, have been honest in what they havesaid.
I should like to allude to a statement made by Senator Needham, which has been indorsed by Senators Barnes and Ferricks in the course of their remarks, that there has been an attempt on thepart of the New South. Wales Government to introduce the Taylor card system. This accusation hurled at the New South Wales Railways Commissioners and at Mr. Fuller, the Acting Premier, has been madetime and again, but very early in the history of this lamentable strike Mr. Fuller specifically denied that the Government ever had any intention to introduce that American card system. Mr. Fraser, the Chief Railways Commissioner of New South Wales, has also given the statement a specific and emphatic denial. It may be that somehonorable senators, in talking about the Taylor card system, do not realize all that itmeans. The Taylor system of industrial efficiency and economy originated in America, and is really a system of motion study. The motions of workmen have been studied that they maybe reduced to a minimum, so that with the same exertion the workmen may do a greater amount of work. I admit that the Taylor system is a speeding-up system. I admit that Mr. Lloyd George, when Minister of Munitions, refused toallow it to be introduced into the munition factories in England during thecourseof the war. But I again remind honorable senators who have said that the Government of New South Wales and theRailways Commissioners of that State intended to introduce the Taylor system that specific denials of that statement havebeen made from time to time, and that the only card system they tried to introduce was really a system for ascertaining the cost of the work as it goes on.. I am glad that Senator Gardiner, during his speech, did not make any reference to the Taylor system, and did not accuse the Government of New South Wales and the Railways Commissioners of that State of attempting to introduce it. Had they attempted to do so, I am surethat the honorable senator would havementionedthe fact as an argument in favour of the strikers.
A good deal has been said this afternoon upon the broader matters than the mere dispute between the Railways Commissioners of NewSouth Wales and their employees. Senator Reid has, in the course of very weighty remarks, pointed out thatourarbitration
Saws have practically broken down, owing, £rst, to the inability of the Government to enforce those laws on one side, and, -secondly, to the manifestly unfair position that the employing world is getting into when one side has to keep a law which cannot be enforced upon the other. Tam quite sure that Senators Gardiner, McDougall, and Grant very greatly deplore the position that unionism in New “South Wales has got into owing to the unlawful start that was made by the railway employees.
– I deny absolutely that they have done anything unlawful.
– I am sure that Senator Gardiner very greatly deplores the disunion there is now amongst his own supporters in New South Wales owing to the lamentable strike.
– I never saw such -union amongst them in my life.
– I have a. contrary experience.- I know many of. the tramway men who came out on strike. I spoke to some dozens of them, and asked them what was going to happen They said they did not know, but that they supposed the union leaders, would have a ballot before they were called out. In many directions I have heard extreme sorrow expressed by good honest workmen, of whom there have been so many in the employ of the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales, that such a huge strike should have occurred over such a small matter. I have heard sympathy expressed by unionists with the New South Wales Railways Commissioners in connexion with their attempt to improve the railway service of the State. As one honorable senator has pointed out, the dispute is not in connexion with wages, hours, overtime, privileges, or such conditions of work as the Arbitration Court deals with. It is merely a dispute in connexion with the administration of the railways by the Railways Commissioners, to whom the taxpayers of New South Wales look for the proper administration of their property. I am sure that if Senators Gardiner, Grant, and McDougall, those moderate, sage, and experienced leaders, had had their way, this cataclysm would never have occurred. I deplore the position these fine men have got into owing to the precipitate actions of their leaders. Some references have been made to; meetings in the Sydney Domain. I am sure that at no time have there been more than 100,000 people there. The Sydney Domain meetings are amongst those things to which people go now on a Sunday afternoon. People attend these meetings, addressed from dozens of platforms, for the amusement to be derived from some of the extreme sayings of the orators.
We all deplore the strike, and are sorry that it occurred over such a trivial thing. It has shown that in Australia unionism has in many directions run mad. It has shown that -no law will hold some unionists The strike has shown, if it has shown anything, that there is some necessity to amend our conciliation and arbitration laws in the direction of making men, once they accept a decision, obey the law in some shape or form. I, personally, do not think that we can look for much improvement when one side is determined to succeed, win, tie, or wrangle, and the other side has to, obey the law and pay all fines imposed. I appeal to my honorable friends on the other side, and particularly to honorable senators representing the State of New South Wales, to do what they can to keep Labour on the even keel. Some of the utterances to which we have listened here this afternoon were worthy of the Sydney Domain, to which we go for an afternoon’s amusement. I say deliberately that some honorable senators, in talking about “ scabs,” are guilty of having dirty tongues. When there is so much going on on the other side of the world, such expressions should be absent from speeches delivered, in a deliberate, calm, and cool assembly such as the Senate ought to be.
I am with Senator Gardiner in desiring to calmly and dispassionately discuss this matter of the industrial upheaval which is running like a bush fire through the length and breadth of Australia. I know something about the sufferings of wives and children, and that they have to go short sometimes even of bread because of the loyalty of unionists to their unions. I agree fully with Senator Needham that on the whole the Australian working man does a good day’s work for a fair day’s pay. But in saying- “ on the whole,” that implies that there are a number who do not, and will not, do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, and desire tq drag down the honest men who wish to give their employer a fair deal, to their own low level. There are rumours all over Sydney to-day about what some men have been doing in the railway workshops in Government employ. Perhaps I could astound the Senate with what I have heard on just as. good authority as Senator Gardiner had for many of the things which he stated here to-day.
– The honorable senator should have the courage to put them before the Senate. I did so, and took the responsibility for what I said, and the honorable senator should do the same.
– One man told me that he went to work in the railway workshops, and that after being there a week he was told to slow down, and that he was doing too much work. After a month of it he could not stand any more, and he left his employment. These things have been occurring. It is no wonder that the New South Wales Railways Commissioners wanted to tighten up the administrationof the railways in that State.
– Order ! The time limit imposed by the Standing Orders upon the discussion of this matter has now expired.
– I will just reply, and that very briefly.
– Order! The honorable senator cannot reply. The standing order gives the honorable senator the right to reply only provided that the whole discussion shall not exceed three hours. Three hours have expired, and I must therefore rule, reluctantly, that the honorable senator cannot reply.
– I shall certainly dispute your ruling. The standing order provides -
In speaking to such motion, the mover and the Minister first speaking shall not exceed thirty minutes each, and any other senator, or the mover in reply, shall not exceed fifteen minutes……
There is the clear provision for a reply of fifteen minutes. I do not think the intention of the framers of the Standing Orders was that the right of reply should be denied to any one. I shall not, at any time, allow what I believe to be the right of honorable senators to be taken away without challenge. Your ruling, sir, is a narrow ruling, and I hold that the Standing Orders should always be interpreted to widen, if possible, and not to narrow, our privileges. Eor that reason, and out of no disrespect to you, I shall certainly have to take the necessary steps to protest against your reading of the standing order, which says further -
Provided that the whole discussion on the subject shall not exceed three hours.
The discussion on the subject has exceeded three hours, but the reply is not a continuation of the discussion, because, in that reply, I cannot open new ground. If you rule that I cannot reply-
– I certainly rule that.
– Then, I beg to dissent from your ruling.
– The honorable senator must put his dissent in writing.
– I can give notice of it for another day.
– No ; the dissent must be handed in at once, in writing.
– As I understand that the Government are anxious to go on with other business, I shall not take up any more of their time this afternoon.
– On the point of order-
– The honorable senator cannot discuss the point of order unless it has been stated in proper form.
Question - That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 3 o’clock to-morrow - resolved in the negative.
Supply to British Government
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Road to Camp: Flying School: Horse-buyers.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Squadrons on active service to replace these men, who, when relieved, will be allowed to go.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Dismissal of Married Men
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked theVicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. Particulars are. being obtained, but are not yet to hand.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of America’s entry into the war, is it ‘ the intention of the Government to treat American firms in the same manner and on the same basis as Japanese and other Allied firms with regard to the importations of fancy soaps?
-If the honorable senator will make it convenient to call at the Department of Trade and Customs, the Minister will ibe glad to show him the correspondence on the subject.
– Arising out of the answer, will the Minister bring along what he has to show? Otherwise, as this is quite a serious matter, I shall have to move the. adjournment of the Senate to discuss it.”
– I shall have the whole of the correspondence brought along, but it is regarded as confidential, and the honorable senator, after perusing it, can decide what action it is desirable to take.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
.- I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional’ Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without, delay.
I do not propose to carry the Bill through all its stages in the way indicated, but I should like the permission of the Senate to make my second-reading speech on it this evening.
– I have no objection to the VicePresident of the Executive Council making his second-reading speech; but it is asking rather too much to suspend the whole of the Standing Orders to allow the Bill to go right through.
– All I am going todo is to make my second-reading speech.
– I object to ‘the suspension of the Standing Orders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8.45 p.m.
– I have to apologize to the Senate. I intended to announce, and should have announced, before the dinner adjournment, that the Senate would meet again at 8 o’clock, or alt such time as the bells would be rung, on account of the. war pictures being shown in the Queen’s Hall. The exhibition took a great deal longer than was expected. I hope and feel sure that the Senate will excuse me in the circumstances.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales -
Vice-President of the Executive Council)- [8.46].- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I remind honorable senators of the somewhat checkered history of the measure.. It was, as they know, the result of a Very general feeling that if there was one subject upon which taxation might legitimately be levied, it was the profits which were directly a result of the war. That, I take it, was the original conception of the measure. When, however, the obligation arose to look a little more closely into the matter; it was discovered, and I think generally recognised, that it was practically impossible, especially in a country like Australia, to identify with absolute certainty the profits which did arise as a result of the war. The- conception then broadened out, until finally we get a measure to levy taxation upon the excess profits which have arisen during war time. I do not propose to say anything as tothese two somewhat diverse principles, but I submit the measure as one which is designed to levy a tax upon profit’s earned in war time in excess of those which were earned in pre-war times.
The excess profits represent the amount by which the profits arising in a financial year - that is, the financial year covered by the taxation proposals of the measure - exceed the pre-war standard of profits. From this sum there is to be deducted first an exemption of £200. This exemption disappears in the first year when the excess profits reach £600, ‘ and in the second year when the excess profits reach £1,000. It disappears by gradations with which honorable senators who have followed that other interesting measure, the graduated Income Tax Act, will readily understand.
The profits arising in a financial year where the business accounting period is not coterminous with that year, will- be calculated from the monthly average of profits of each, business accounting period, extending into the financial year. For example, if a business generally balancesits accounts on the 31st December in each year, half the profits of each accounting period extending into the financial year will be added together, and taken as the profits arising .within the financial year.
The pre-war standard of profits may be either a profit standard or a percentage standard. The profits standard is the actual profits of the business, or, in certain cases, the former salary or salaries of the owner or owners of the business. In no case will the profits standard be less than £500.
The percentage standard is 10 per cent, on the amount of the capital employed in the business at the end of the last pre-war trade year.
The general scheme- of the Bill is tocompare the pre-war profits where they exist with the war-time profits on the same amount of capital. In order that this object may be achieved, the Bill provides that where more capital has been, used in the war-time accounting period than in the pre-war period, a deduction is to be allowed from the war-time profits of 10 per cent., or the rate of pre-war profits calculated on the additional capital employed. In other words, that is a simple arithmetical calculation by which, where a firm employs more capital, that factor will be taken into- account. Similarly, by another provision, where less capital is employed, a like adjustment will be required. This will leave an amount of war-time profits arising from the use of the same amount of capital as was employed in the pre-war period. From that amount of profits will be deducted the pre-war standard of profits, and the tax will be calculated on the excess, if any, .remaining.
The Government has included in the Bill provisions under which no- business will pay any tax unless the war-time profits which are to be brought into the assessment exceed £1,000. This is secured by sub-clause 3 of clause 15, which makes the minimum pre-war standard in any case £500 ; by sub-clause 7 of clause 14, second and third provisos, for a deduction from the war-time profits of at least £300 for management by the owner; and, finally, by a fixed and undiminishing general exemption of £200 provided in paragraph a of sub-clause 3 of clause’ 7 ; that is to say, a business with an actual pre-war standard of profits not exceeding £500 will always have an undiminishing general exemption of £200.
Where the profits amount to more than £1,000, that £200 exemption will gradually disappear.
– Yes, in exactly the same way. Where the actual pre-war profits exceed £500, but do not exceed £1,000, there is to be an addition to the actual pre-war profits of the difference between that amount and £1,000. In these cases the diminishing exemption of £200 will operate on all profits exceeding £1,000.
In arriving at the profits in both the pre-war and- the war-time periods, the rules laid down in the Income Tax Assessment Act regarding deductions are to be followed, and I have no doubt that honorable senator? are thoroughly familiar with the provisions of that Act. But in addition to the deductions allowed under the Act, this Bill, in clause 14, allows other deductions of a special character, such as amortization of the value of wasting assets used for the purpose of the business, expenditure on leasehold properties, either to purchase the leasehold estate or to create improvements on leasehold lands, losses due to fire, robbery, or embezzlement which are irrecoverable, either directly or by way of insurance; alterations, but! not additions, te plant, machinery and premises for the purpose of the business which have been charged to the revenue account; all bad debts proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioner to have been written off in the accounting period ; and, in the case of a mining company other than one mining for coal, so much of the profits of the accounting period as is appropriated for development or new plant.
A deduction will also be allowed of wartime profits tax paid outside of Australia in respect to excess profits, together with Commonwealth and State income taxes paid in respect to those profits. Other rates and taxes paid in Australia axe also deductible.
A war-time profits tax was first imposed by the British Parliament by the Finance Act (No. 2) of 1915. Canada was the next part of the Empire to impose a wartime profits tax. In 1916, the Canadian Parliament passed what they termed a business profits war tax. Both in the case of Great Britain and in the case of Canada, experience has suggested, I presume, certain alterations which have been made from time to time.
– Only additions in Canada.
– Experience has necessitated some amending legislation. I am not quite armed with the particulars of the alterations, but in both countries the original Act has been’ followed by subsequent legislation.
Coming back to the measure before the Senate, all businesses which have made a profit of more than 7 per cent. on capital in any war-time accounting period must pay tax on the excess of the profit over 7 per cent. Whilst the Canadian scheme attains simple and economical administration, and a large revenue, it acts unjustly on those businesses which have not made greater profits during the wartime year, or the profits of which have diminished owing to the war, but are still in excess of 7 per cent. on capital.
The Dominion of New Zealand followed with its tax, but imposed it by way of an additional income tax. The tax is 45 per cent. of the amount by which the income assessable to income tax in the war-time acounting period exceeds the average yearly assessable income of any shorter pre-war business period, or 7 per cent. of the capital employed in the business, whichever is the greater.
The French Parliament has lately passed a war-time profits tax, with the details of which I need not, perhaps, trouble the Senate.
This Bill is modelled on the English Act, but various modifications have been introduced, with the view to rendering the incidence of the tax more equitable. The conditions in Australia are very different from those in England, and the modifications Ihave referred to have been made to meet those changed conditions.
The first profits to be taxed are those which are made by a business after the 1st July, 1915, and the tax will be levied until the 30th June following the declaration of peace.
The administration will be undertaken by the present Commissioner of Taxation, who will be required to furnish an annual report on the working of the measure.
– To Parliament?
– The report will be made to the Minister in charge of the administration of the Act, and submitted, through him, to both Houses.
Certain exemptions are provided for in clause 8. These are-
– Is there anything left to tax ?
– I hope that my honorable friend will find that out in a practical way. I have mentioned briefly the exemptions, but the Bill also includes the business of any person taking commissions in respect to any transactions or services rendered, and of any agent of any description, not being a commercial traveller, or an agent whose remuneration consists only of a fixed and. definite sum, not depending on the amount of business done, or any other contingency.
The exemption is limited to the business, and does not extend to any business which supplies anything to, or purchases any of, the products of the exempt business. The clause also provides for the exemption of persons on active service outside Australia whose duties require them to be in any part of the field of operations where there is danger to life.
Where a person carries on more than one business, and makes a profit in some and losses in others, he may set the losses against the profits before the tax is1 levied.
In the case of new businesses and businesses which have only become profitearning during the war, provision is made for an increase in the pre-war standard to such an extent as may be necessary to insure the financial stability of the business. Any decision of the Commissioner in this respect is subject to appeal to t>e Board of Referees, whose decision shall be final. I shall refer to that Board later.
In the case of new companies the Bill limits the deduction for remuneration of directors to £1,000. This is a very necessary provision to prevent the absorption of profits of these companies by way of directors’ fees. In the case of older companies the remuneration of directors, managers, &c, is limited to what was paid in the pre-war years.
The Commissioner, however, has power- to increase the allowance owing to any ‘ special circumstances, or the fact that the remuneration depends upon the profits of the business.
The tax is limited to the profits derived from sources in Australia. The Bill contains a provision under which the Treasurer may arrange with the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the apportionment between the Imperial and the Commonwealth Governments towards the sup- ‘ plies necessary for the services of the Crown of the war-time profits tax under the Commonwealth Act or under the Imperial Act, whichever provides the greater amount, and may further agree that in any such case the tax or duty chargeable pursuant to the other of these Acts shall not be collected.
– Waa not that amendment suggested by the Chambers of Commerce ?
– I cannot say for the moment that it was so, but I think it is highly probable. As honorable senators know, there are certain businesses which’ attract the attention of both the . Imperial Chancellor and the Commonwealth Treasurer. Obviously, if both taxes were levied, seeing that the proposed tax under this Bill for the first year will be 50 per cent., and that the Imperial tax is in excess of that, I think 60 or 70 per cent., it is quite clear that the two taxes would amount to more than 100 per cent, of the amount to be taxed This is therefore a provision by -which the Treasurer of the Commonwealth hopes to obtain some arrangement with the Im- . penal Chancellor by which when deducting the whole of the profits some fair proportion of it may be allotted to the respective Treasurers of the two countries.
The tax will’ not apply to profits derived from sources outside Australia, although the control and management of the business may be in Australia. If capital has been withdrawn from the business in .the war-time years it is necessary to adjust the profits of those years in order to enable a proper comparison to be made with the pre-war years. This is done by adding to the profits 10 per cent, of the withdrawn capital, or the average rate of pre-war profits.
Provision is made in clause 14, subclauses 10 and 11, for recouping pastlosses from the -war-time profits. In the case of a- pastoral business, where any profits made in the last three pre-war trade years have been invested in the business and have later been lost owing to the drought, adverse seasons, or other adverse conditions, and any part of the current accounting period’s profits has been applied in extinction of that loss, the profits applied in extinction of the loss and any other loss which, in the opinion of the Commissioner, has been recouped from the war-time profits, shall be allowed as a deduction. That. seems, perhaps, a little involved; but I think honorable senators will recognise that it merely provides in the case of the pastoral industries that if a man’s flocks and herds have been decimated by a year or two of drought, he shall be allowed to recoup himself for such losses out of the profits for the succeeding years before he becomes subject to the tax.
– Will not a pastoralist pay on the extra price of wool 1
– Yes, if the extra price of wool gives him a profit in excess of his losses. It must be generally recognised by those who, like Senator Pratten, have an intimate knowledge of the ^conditions under which grazing is carried
On in Australia, that while a pastoralist’s profits for one or two years may be marvellously attractive, there come periods of drought when no profits are made, and “when heavy losses’ are sustained, sp that it would be distinctly unfair to assess pastoralists and wool-growers upon one or two successful years.
– What about the bookmaker ?
– I do not know enough about the intricacies of that business, but what little knowledge I have has certainly not been very profitable.
– I suppose the Government would ‘have no objection to treating everybody alike along those lines ?
– If the honorable senator is in an unfortunate position I shall be very glad to consider his case.
In the case of any other business where it has sustained a net loss since the first of the three selected pre-war trade years (in the case of a business adopt- . ing a profits standard), or since the first one of the last three pre-war trade years (in the case of a business adopting a percentage standard), and up to the beginning of the taxable accounting period, and has applied portion of the profits of the current accounting period in extinction of that loss, the amount of profits so applied is to be allowed as a deduction. That seems to answer the interjection made by Senator Pratten a little’ while ago. The pastoralist is to be allowed a ‘little longer period than an ordinary business man in which to set his losses against his profits. Where money i3 borrowed and used for the purpose of acquiring assets, from the use of which profits are made, a deduction is to be allowed of the difference between the interest paid and 10 per cent. In other words, as a man is allowed a 10 per cent, margin, he will also be allowed 10 per cent, upon any borrowed capital. Profits made on contracts extending over a term of years are to be apportioned over the’ periods of such contracts. I think honorable senators will see the necessity for this. A man might have a contract running for three years, but the whole of his profits might have been made in one year, so it is proposed to apportion the. profits over the period of the contract.
The whole basis of the assessment depends upon the capital employed in the business. Clause 16 deals with this question. The amount of capital of a business is the capital paid up by the owner in money or in kind, together, with all accumulated trading, profits invested in the business, with, the addition or subtraction of balances brought forward from previous years to the credit or debit of profitandloss account. Where an asset has been, acquired otherwise than for cash it is to be valued as ah the time of acquisition and treated as part of the capital.. Patents and secret, processes are deemed, to be material assets, and are to be valued as before mentioned.
Part VII. of the . Bill deals with the matter of obtaining returns from taxpayers and the making of assessments. The clauses are machinery clauses, and follow the usual lines. They are similar to sections in the Income Tax Assessment Act. Clauses 20 to 25 deal with returns and assessments.
In Part VIII. provision is made for the appointment of a Board- of Referees. This Board will deal with questions of fact. The primary decision is given by the Commissioner, but if a taxpayer is dissatisfied with that decision he may, in cases arising out of any of the headings mentioned in clauses 10-12, appeal to the Board of Referees, whose decision will be final. The Board will consist of three persons, and will be appointed by the Governor-General. Appeals on matters of law will be referred to the High Court, the Supreme Court, or a County or District Court), presided over by a Judge authorized by the Governor-General. The Board of Referees have power to award costs and to make regulations regulating the practice and procedure.
The Bill contains wide powers for the recovery of the tax. Notices of assessment will be given to all taxpayers, and sixty days allowed for payment of the tax. If the tax is not paid within that time, a penalty of 10 per cent, of the tax is payable in addition. The Commissioner has power to extend the time for payment or to permit payment by instalments. Power is also given to the Commissioner to remit penalties.
The Bill also provides that the person for the time being owning or carrying on the business, or acting as agent for another person carrying on the business, may be assessed for the tax. If the business has ceased the tax may be assessed on the person who owned or carried om the business immediately before it ceased. Where a business is transferred to another person the person to whom it is transferred is personally liable to pay any tax which may subsequently be found to be payable if he fails to secure the payment of the tax to the Commissioner. Where a company is wound up the liquidator is required to give the Commissioner notice, and to set aside sufficient to pay any tax that may bo found to be payable. It isfurther provided that if a business is unable to repay its creditors or debenture holders no tax will be payable.
The liability of agents and trustees in regard to the making of returns and paying the tax is fully set out in clauses 43 and 44. If an agent or trustee disposes of any funds in his possession after being informed of his liability for tax and does nob pay the tax, he will be personally liable to pay it.
I have endeavoured to place briefly before the Senate the main outlines of what we must all recognise as a complex measure.
– A very simple scheme t
– I am glad Senator O’Keefe recognises its simplicity, but lj confess that I am unable to do so. I re*gard it as an extremely complicated mea. sure, and because of its complexity I have not attempted to deal with it except ingeneral terms. The Bill, I think, may be much better dealt with in Commit-, tee. I do not pretend that it contains any outstanding principles around which’ much debate will centre. I submit it as a first attempt to levy taxation upon excess profits as a legitimate source of revenue, though there may be ample room for controversy over the details by which the principle is to be applied.
– How much do you expect to raise?
– When the Bill was first introduced, the estimate of the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) was, I think, little short of £1,000,000.
– £450,000 each year for two years.
– Since then certain amendments have been made in another place, and these may have affected the estimate. Whilst I would hesitate to throw the slightest reflection upon the estimates made by the Treasurer’s responsible officers, I feel that in breaking new ground, as is the case in this Bill, estimates as to the revenue to be obtained must necessarily be somewhat loose, and that we cannot expect to look with any) degree of confidence upon any estimates until we have had experience of the! working of the measure.
– What will be the” cost of collecting the tax?
– I cannot say.
– It is estimated that the cost will be £40,000.
– The tax will noi pay the cost of collection.
– Senator Needham was always a- pessimist regarding Governs ment proposals.
– Anyhow, the money, will still be in the country.
– Will the Govern-! ment allow’ legal assistance to people to make up returns?
– Certainly at the expense of the taxpayer. It is impossible for me to say what the cost of collection will be j but, as the work will be carried on by the officials responsible for the collection of the land and income tax, the additional work will not, in my judgment, involve any serious addition to the cost of the two Departments referred to. There appears to be a desire for information as to estimates of possible revenue and expenditure, and I shall endeavour to place the figures before the Senate during the course of debate. Meanwhile, having done what I could to place an admittedly complex measure before honorable senators, I shall content myself with moving the second reading.
– Before the Minister resumes his seat, will he explain the position with regard to the Board of Referees? I am in doubt as to who shall appoint them, and the salaries they will receive.
– The . honorable senator need not have the slightest doubt about the appointments. They will be made by the present National Government, and I have no doubt the Government will discharge that duty with entire satisfaction to the country. I know also that the honorable senator is one of the last men in the world to approve of anything in the nature of a sweating wage being paid.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
English Mails - Evaporated Apples : Supply to the British Government - Personal Explanation : Industrial Crisis.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn. .
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to the advertisement appearing in the mail notices in the Argus and Age newspapers to the effect that letters addressed to the United Kingdom, if sent by certain mails, via America, have to be so indorsed. I shall be glad to know why this is now necessary. I can understand why it was necessary some little time ago when . we had regular mail communication via Suez. But I fail to understand why we are now required to indorse letters “ Vid America.” I desire to know whether correspon dence which is not so indorsed will remain in the Post Office till the departure of a mail by some other route? I know thatthat was the practice some time ago, and when we enjoyed regular mail communication there was some warrant for it. I wrote a letter to England on Saturday last, and posted it the same day. Then on Monday I read an announcement in the press that a mail was about to be despatched vid America, and that overseas letters required to be so indorsed. Will my letter remain in the Post Office here until the departure of a mail by some other route?
– I am not aware of the circumstances to which Senator Thomas has referred, but I will make the requisite inquiry of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster), and endeavour to let the honorable senator have the information which he seeks, before the Senate rises to-morrow.
– I desire to call attention to a matter of very serious importance to a large number of electors in my own State. To-day I asked a series of questions which were answered by the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). Those questions were -
The replies given to those questions were clear, but were certainly not of a satisfactory character. Either the High Commissioner has not done what the persons chiefly concerned in this matter had a right to expect him to do, or there has been an unconscionable delay on the part of the Prime Minister in despatching the cable which he promised to send.
– The cable went to the Secretary of State almost immediately.
- Senator Earle is evidently in the confidence of the Prime Minister to that extent, and I am not.
– The honorable senator could be, if he chose to inquire at the Prime Minister’s Department.
– If the Prime Minister despatched the cable which he promised to send it is manifest that there has been a dereliction of duty on the part of the High Commissioner in failing to ascertain on the other side of the world what was really being done in this matter. I am in receipt of a lettergram which reads -
The Premier of Tasmania cabled the AgentGeneral of Tasmania as follows: -
Please ask the British Government to give earliest possible reply to offer cabled through the Prime Minister to the High Commissioner to supply 150,000 cases . . Prompt decision necessary to permit installation of the requisite plant, and prevent ruin to apple-growers.
The Agent replies, 30th August, as follows : -
Referring to yours, evaporated apples, the High Commissioner states no telegram received from the Prime Minister.
I say that it was the duty of the High Commissioner, when he informed the Tasmanian Agent-General that he had not received any cable from the Prime Minister on this very important matter - a matter of life and death to some thousands of fruit-growers - to ascertain whether the Secretary of State had received any such cable. Evidently there was an impression left on the minds of the fruit-growers concerned, after their interview with the Prime Minister, that he intended cabling this offer to the High Commissioner.
– Is the grievance of the honorable senator that the message was not sent through the High Commissioner?
– No. It is that there has been a considerable bungle somewhere. The message was sent direct to the Secretary of State, and the, High Commissioner apparently knew nothing of it. Surely the High Commissioner ought to have been sufficiently informed of what was transpiring on such an important matter between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to be able to give clear and definite information upon it to the Agent-General of any State when requested to do so. To me it is astonishing that he was hot able to give the Agent-General for Tasmania exact information. There seems to have been either an unwarrantable delay on the part of the Prime Minister’s Office in sending the cable, or on the part of the British
Government in determining whether or not they intend to accept the offer. If the offer was cabled some weeks ago, it is a wonder that a reply has not been received ere this.
– I may be able to throw a little light on this question. I received a similar lettergram to that which has been read by Senator O’Keefe. It came from Messrs. Jones and Company.
– They are the ‘ thousands ‘ ‘ of people who are interested ?
– The honorable senator evidently does not understand the position.
– Messrs. Jones and Company represent the whole of the fruitgrowers of Tasmania in this matter.
– Immediately on receipt of that lettergram, I visited the Prime Minister’s Department, and inquired whether a cable had been sent to the Imperial authorities In accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise to all the representatives of Tasmania. I learned that the cable had been despatched. I saw a copy of it. It was not sent as a separate cable dealing with this particular matter. The cable containing the offer dealt with other matters, including jams and preserves. The Secretary or State replied to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in regard to jams and preserves, but omitted to reply to his offer in respect of dried fruit. The officers of the Prime Minister’s Department sent another cable to the High Commissioner the same afternoon, asking him to bring before the Secretary of State the offer in question, and also urging upon him the necessity for an immediate and satisfactory reply. The mistake was made by the British authorities in failing to notice that in the cable there was an offer of 150,000 cases of dried fruit, each containing 56 lbs., and urging the Imperial Government to become the purchaser of it. I understand that an answer to the cable which was sent direct to the High Commissioner has not yet been received.
– I am among those honorable senators who received” a similar lettergram to that which has been quoted by Senator O’Keefe; but I knew something of the circumstances which preceded its despatch. I was one of the Tasmanian members who, in conjunction with a number of fruit-growers from that State, waited upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and requested him to offer to the Imperial Government a certain quantity of . evaporated fruit. He promised to submit the offer to the Imperial Government, and I understand that he did so. To that offer no reply has yet been received. The lettergram which I received was probably sent to every Tasmanian representative in this Parliament. I had not been in receipt of it more than ten minutes before I was informed ‘that the offer of 150,000 cases of evaporated apples had been made by the Prime Minister in a cable which had been despatched to the Secretary of State. The reason why that offer was sent through, the channel I have mentioned is that the Commonwealth Government is in constant communication with the Imperial authorities upon matters connected with the war. It is also in daily, 0* nightly, communication with the High Commissioner in regard to Australian affairs. As the offer in question related to a matter which is connected with the war, viz., the supply of evaporated fruit to Australian troops who are serving abroad, it was embodied in a cable to the Secretary of State.. Naturally, that message was dent in conjunction with other messages relating to war subjects. The message that is despatched to the High Commissioner, either daily or nightly, does not deal with matters connected with the war. The Secretary of State replied to the general message in which the offer was included, and in the course of his reply consented to purchase a certain limited quantity of jam, and made a suggestion with regard to the balance of the jam offered to them. That suggestion the Government have been acting upon since. No reference was made to the evaporated fruit. If Senator O’Keefe had adopted the course which, in common with other honorable senators, I adopted, and had gone to the Prime Minister’s Department, he would have found that everything that it was possible for the Department to do was being done in the matter.
– I took what I considered a proper course. Is the honorable senator satisfied with the delay, and with the fact that the High Commissioner did not make known what had 00. curred to the Agent-General for Tasmania 1
– I explained just now that these matters connected with the war and with our troops abroad do not go through the High Commissioner, but are carried on directly between the Commonwealth and the Imperial authorities.
– Would it not have been an easy matter for the High Commissioner to have given that information to the Agent-General for Tasmania?
– The High Commissioner was approached through the intervention of. the Premier of Tasmania by the Agent-General of that State, and he told the Agent-General that he had received no message with regard to the offer on behalf of the fruit-growers. I haveexplained that the Imperial and Commonwealth authorities are in daily or nightly communication with regard to various matters connected with the war. This was one of such matters, and necessarily and properly at the present juncture the communication was direct. Consequently the High Commissioner knew nothing of the offer of the evaporated! fruit, and he said so. I may say that within ten minutes after I received this representation from the fruit-growers of Tasmania I was able to send a reply to the Tasmanian people which, from the information I have since received, I believe was satisfactory.
.–This afternoon I moved a motion for the adjournment of the Senate to urge the desirability of the Government taking immediate action to-‘ bring about a just settlement of the present industrial trouble. I quite understand that on the present motion for the adjournment of the Senate I will not bo allowed in any sense to revive the debate which took place on- my motion this afternoon. However, there are one or two matters in connexion with which I desire to make a personal explanation, and which1, I think, I will be in order in referring to. I proposed this afternoon to quote something that was said by Mr. Fitzpatrick, a member of the New South Wales Government, but as I had mislaid the newspaper cutting from which I intended to quote, I made the quotation as well as I could from memory. I think I quoted Mr. Fitzpatrick exactly, and asI have since discovered the newspaper cutting, I wish now to give the quotation as it appears therein. Speaking to the men at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Mr. Pitzpatrick said -
Unionism to-day, gentlemen, is a running sore.
I desire the quotation to appear in Mansard exactly as it appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. There is another matter which I think requires some explanation, and I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) and Senator Earle will accept my explanation. Each of these honorable senators, dealing with my references to the card system, said that I had produced what was evidently the worst card in connexion with the system. I say, in all candour, that until 1 o’clock to-day it was not my intention to move the adjournment of the Senate to deal with this matter. The card I produced was re* f erred to because there was a copy of it in the public press, and I was able to get it. I hope that the honorable senators whom I have mentioned will accept that explanation as a fair statement of the reason why I produced that particular card, but I wish to say with regard to the card system that the men on strike are entirely against the introduction of that system.
– Order! The honorable senator is now exceeding the bounds of a personal explanation.
– That may exceed the bounds of a personal explanation, but I do not think I have exceeded my right to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
I have no desire to further revive the debate df this afternoon, but I now wish to remind the Government of some dangers arising through the strike that is occurring in Sydney at. the present time. I suppose that the Government are aware that there is at present, a strike on in Sydney, and possibly in other parts of Australia. Owing to that strike, the New South Wales Government have brought certain men to work on the wharfs. These men have committed an act which, although, as reported in the Sydney Sun, may be regarded as having been done in a light spirit, was of such a nature that it is worth while that the attention of the Government should be directed to it.
– It was done in a spirit of levity.
– It may be regarded as having been done in a spirit of levity, but it may also be looked at in quite another light, since the joke, if it is to be regarded as a joke, was perprtrated on a citizen of another country. We are not now living in peaceful times, and a serious infringement of the rights of people pf other nations cannot be thoughtlessly passed over. I ask the Government first of all to inquire as to the truth of the report in this matter. I am prepared to admit that the source from which my- information comes is by no means reliable, since it is a quotation from the Sydney Sun. I quite frankly admit that this is a most unreliable newspaper, but even newspapers in Australia at the present time should not be permitted to thoughtlessly, or in a spirit of levity, spread false reports connected with the conduct of business in this country. .
– I take it from the honorable senator’s comments that the newspaper to which he refers is not particularly supporting himself or his party’.
– If Senator Millen wishes to put that construction upon what I have said, he is at liberty to do so. If he is under the impression that I estimate the value of a newspaper by the support it accords to myself or to the party to which I belong, I have only to say that I am- not aware of any public journal in Australia that has ever assisted or supported me.
– Not even the Worker J
– Not even the Worker.
– I am surprised to hear it.
– The honorable senator may be surprised, but I am not aware that any journal has supported me in any way. Whilst the matter to which I intend to refer is treated jocularly, it should not be forgotten that nowadays there is a serious side to everything. In the Sydney Sun, under the heading of “ Speeding up the Chinaman,” the following statement, evidently supplied by one of the voluntary workers, appears: -
Yesterday, if you please, there were we working nineteen to the dozen, sweating and tearing lumps out of our hands, and cursing like the devil, while a Chow stood yapping to a pal at the end of the wharf. One of the fellows working with us is a shipping clerk, and can read the signs on the crates. I’m blest if we weren’t sweating and cursing over the Chow’s consignment. My friend here (he indicated the man worth £100,000 ) thought it a hit too rich, so up he goes and “Here, John Chinaman,” says he, “ you can give us a hand with this cargo.”
John Chinaman looked cute, and said, “Me no savee.” My friend here didn’t call for an interpreter, “ Well, if you don’t savee quick and lively, old cock,” said he, “we’ll chuck your bally cargo into the harbor.” John Chinaman understood that all right, and was soon working with the rest of us. We let him off after half-an-hour of it.
As a joke that may be all very well, but from another point of view this is A serious indignity offered to a citizen of another country. What would be said of a wharf labourer or a member of a trade union who would go to one of our big employers, to Senator Fairbairn for instance, whose goods he was handling, and tell him that if he did not lend a hand he would chuck his goods into the harbor. I direct attention to the fact that, according to the newspaper, the man who treated the Chinaman in this way was worth £100,000.
– I quite agree with, the honorable senator that the case ought to be looked into.
– The newspaper says that this man working on the wharf is worth £100,000. He evidently came to Sydney with the magnificent idea to take the place of the poor fellows who get 9s. 3d. a day. He worked only a week at the wharfs when, according to this statement, he became one of the worst types of the Industrial Workers of the World. He” makes a law unto himself, and if he cannot get his own way is prepared to destroy another man’s property. I have said there are two ways of looking at this matter. It may be a hoax on the part of a newspaper . that I have admitted is in no way reliable, or it may be a serious infringement of the rights of a citizen of another country. I value the liberty and rights of our own people too highly to trespass upon the liberties> rights, and protection which, I think, we should extend to the citizens of .other countries. Although the matter may be regarded humorously, I ask the Government first of all to inquire as to the truth of the .statement, and then to consider whether they should not negotiate with the Government of New South Wales to protest against ‘acts of lawlessness of this kind even by men who are worth £100,000. It is a fair thing that they should see that the people of other countries are protected from the lawlessness and the Industrial Workers of the World methods of gentlemen who are at present engaged in New South Wales as strike breakers.
.- I should like to say, first of all with regard to the matter referred to by Senator O’Keefe, that it seems to me that the honorable senator has been lacking the proper perspective, judging by the way in which he has dealt with this matter.
– Why ?
– Because of the simple facts of the case. A deputation waited upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and asked him to make certain overtures to the Imperial Government. He said that he would do so, and he has done so. He has cabled to the Old Country, not by any indirect channel, but directly, as he was entitled to do as Prime Minister, to the Imperial Minister handling this section of Imperial work which has a direct relation to the war. As Senator Earle has pointed out, though the Prime Minister’s cable dealt with three subjects, the Imperial Government appear to have overlooked one of them, or, and this seems to me a quite reasonable explanation, they were prepared to give a definite answer with regard to two; and were not prepared to do so regarding the third. These matters are not quite as simple as some honorable senators may imagine. If the Imperial Government require a little time to look. into this matter, I do not know that there is any reason to become abusive about it. We are asking them in this matter to do what they have done before in connexion with other products. They have gone out of their way to help the producers of Australia by doing what no one else is prepared to do at the present time, and that is, buying our products from us.
– Does the honorable senator not recognise some necessity for urgency in this matter?
– I Ho, and I was about to refer to that. If the matter was so very urgent, why did not the Premier of Tasmania, instead of wiring to London, send his wire here to the Prime Minister in whose hands the matter was? Instead of doing so, he went behind the back of the gentleman who had undertaken to act as negotiator on behalf of Tasmanian interests, and cabled to the Agent-General for Tasmania -
Please ask British Government give earliest, possible reply to cable sent by Prime Minister. in my judgment the Premier of Tasmania would have acted more correctly and more advantageously if, instead of wiring to London, he had wired to the Prime Minister of Australia.
– That is between him and the Prime Minister. I know nothing about that.
– The honorable senator appears to have been fastidious about the channels through which communications connected with this matter were sent, arid I am pointing out where, in my judgment, an error was committed by those on whose behalf Senator O’Keefe has spoken. The Premier of Tasmania wired to the Agent-General for that State, who saw the High Commissioner, and then cabled to the Premier of the State that the High Commissioner said, “ No telegram has been received from the Prime Minister here.” I cannot help thinking that that was the only message the High Commissioner was in a position to- send. The Tasmanian Premier did not ask his Agent-General to see the High Commissioner at’ all, but asked him to ascertain from the British Government what had been done. Seeing the channel he adopted, if he did not succeed, that is his own look-out
– Was there any necessity for that red-tape - that he should not acquaint himself with what had been done?
– It is the honorable senator who is defending the redtape method. The Prime Minister here said, “ I will short-circuit things; I will go straight from head-quarters here, being the man competent to conclude this deal here, to the man at the other end who is equally competent.” If he had acted through the High Commissioner at the expense of another day or two’s delay, Senator O’Keefe would have been the first to deplore the adoption of redtape methods. The justification for my statement that the methods adopted to expedite this matter have not been at all satisfactory is this: that whilst! the Premier of Tasmania was wasting time sending these cables to London and back, and making no great headway, Senator
O’Keefe had no sooner brought the matter up here than another cable went. Home from the Prime Minister. If the Premier of Tasmania had placed himself in communication with the Prime Minister direct, what has been done this week would have been done last week.
– Your statement, admits that there has been some delay, because it was only after a similar telegram to mine was given to the Prime Minister yesterday that he again cabled to London.
– That is my point - that the moment the Prime Minister’s attention was drawn to it, he sent a second cable to expedite matters at the other end.
– The second cable was sent two or three days ago.
– It might have been sent a few days earlier than that if the Premier of Tasmania had communicated here instead of London.
– It is pretty evident that the cablegram was not sent until Senator O’Keefe brought the matter up.
– The first cable offering the goods was sent some time ago. The absence of an answer to it naturally exercised the mind of the Tasmanian Premier, and he moved in the matter by communicating with his AgentGeneral in London, who was in no sense a party to the negotiations. This must have been some days ago, and had he then communicated with Mr. Hughes the cable sent early this week would have been sent a few days before.
– Perhaps, the Premier of Tasmania is a little bit tired of delay in some other matters. There was a little question of hops about which there has been some talk of delay.
– I do not see that a man shows very great objection to delay when he adopts a roundabout method which causes more delay.
– But Mr. Hughesfixed up that matter of the hops in Sydney on the 2nd March ! .
– It should not be forgotten that the Prime Minister has made a few good deals also.
asked that an inquiry should be undertaken by the Government! into a statement appearing- in a newspaper to which he attaches little importance as an authority. I do not know that the Government are required to inquire into every statement” uttered by irresponsible people, but if Senator Gardiner will take the responsibility of affirming the statement, it will put another aspect on the case. I do not think that the Government should run round inquiring into every little tittle-tattle paragraph appearing in a paper about whose reliability Senator Gardiner evidently has serious doubts.
– I still think the matter serious.
– I wanted to find out how serious the honorable senator thought it. He is quite wrong in assuming that any Industrial Workers of the World methods were adopted on the occasion referred to.
– The Chinaman would not serve the “ scabs “ with vegetables.
– The spectacle of Senator Gardiner championing the rights of a Chinaman is quite on a par with the fact that the Chinese here ‘are siding with the strikers.
– I am championing the rights of visitors to our country, and Governments will be well advised if they champion them, too.
– I am glad to hear that, because there: are circumstances which may make it desirable, that I should invite Senator Gardiner’s co-operation. There were no Industrial Workers of the World methods used in this incident. As I understand it, the Industrial Workers, of the World method is a disinclination to work; but on this occasion these men were not only working themselves, but said, “ We are going to make the Chinaman work, too “ - a distinct t violation of the principles of the Industrial Workers ©f the World. I appreciate the fact that the upholders of law and order have fo-day received a very valuable recruit in the person of Senator Gardiner. He says that he is against any infringement of the liberties of foreigners and others who visit this country. If he is so great a stickler for their rights and privileges, I am sure he will be equally insistent on the right of our own people to work if they want to.
– I would rather stretch a point in favour of the foreigner.
– If the honorable senator is so perturbed at anything which savours of interference with the liberty of a Chinese visitor, I am entitled to his support, if it becomes necessary, in seeing that there is no interference with the rights of any of our countrymen who are anxious to work in Australia. The honorable senator was very concerned about the possibility of international complications over this matter, and suggested the risk of a serious, struggle with the great Chinese Republic. I hope the honorable senator will be consistent. Not long ago certain workmen in this city refused to load a boat going to J ava, and a J apanese boat going to Japan. There was every possibility of international complications there; but if there was one silent man in Australia, it was Senator Gardiner. There was much greater possibility of, trouble through, vessels belonging to friendly nations, one our Ally, being refused the necessary assistance to load in our ports to enable them to sail in pursuance of their ordinary peaceful commercial undertakings, than there is over the incident brought up by Senator Gardiner; but the honorable senator had nothing to say about it. So long as the trouble seemed, to arise from those whose cause he championed, he was indifferent to possible, international complications; but when it comes through some action, alleged or real, on the part of those who are doing the work that his friends will not do, he sees the possibility of international complications at once.
– This was a direct assault - the compulsion of an individual to work.
– There was an assault in this city yesterday on a carter, one of the honorable senator’s own countrymen, but the honorable senator never raised his voice in protest in this Chamber.
– If there is an as- sault on any one here, the law will immediately take steps to protect him. That is what I want the Government to do in this case.
– The honorable senator knows that the vindication of that law is not a Federal matter at all. He never thought it worth his while to- bring that matter before the attention of the Senate; but because a Chinaman is the subject of, at most, a practical joke, he comes here as the indignant champion of the rights of people to carry on their lawful occupations. I hope the present trouble will be speedily over; but if it is prolonged, I ask the honorable senator to remember what he has said here, and in future to stand up for the right of every man, in conformity with the law, to exercise his freedom in carrying out his lawful occupation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170906_senate_7_83/>.