10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chairat . 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Export Guarantee Act - Statement up to 31st December, 1925, showing particulars of assistance granted in respect of the following industries : -
Marston Process for the Preservation of Citrus Fruits:
Citrus Fruits Industry; and
Tasmanian Hop Industry.
– If the Minister in a position to inform the Senate when it is intended to proclaim the Bankruptcy Act.
Senator Sir VICTOR WILSON.Before that act can be proclaimed, it will be necessary to pass some amending legislation. I can assure the honorable senator that there will be no unnecessary delay in the matter.
Debate resumed from 4th March (vide page 1316) on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time. Upon which Senator Gardiner had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after “Thai” ‘he left out, with a view to insert in heu thereof the words - “ this House is of opinion that the bill should be withdrawn with a view to redrafting so as to eliminate the obnoxious clauses referring to industrial disputes, as such clauses associated with the Crimes Act are an unwarranted affront to the great bodies of organized labour.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (Soutn Australia) [11.3]. -It is gratifying to every honorable senator on this side, as it should be to honorable senators opposite, to know that the Government has taken the earliest opportunity to give effect to the clear and unmistakeable mandate of the people, given at the last election. It is puerile for members of the Labour party, whether in this Parliament or outside, to attempt to deny that mandate. I was greatly disappointed with the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Gardiner) yesterday. I had thought that he, of all honorable senators opposite, would state dearly and definitely the case for Labour regarding this bill. His presentation of the case was, however, extremely weak. While he advanced no plausible arguments against the bill, he like other honorable senators, denied that the Government had received a mandate from the people. I ask him and other honorable senators opposite why no Labour senator was returned to this Senate at the last election. The issue, which was placed clearly before the electors by the Prime Minister, was whether law and order should be maintained. The reason for the failure of Labour was due to one of two causes: either the electors were strongly and overwhelmingly opposed to the general platform of the Labour party, or they felt that they could not trust that party to do what was necessary to maintain law and order and the supremacy of constitutional government.
The issue has been settled by the people. They have given their mandate. It is now the duty of the Government, and of the Parliament, to give effect to that mandate at the earliest possible moment. I do not know whether this bill will do everything that is necessary in that direction, but it goes a long way towards providing means for the maintenance of law and order in Australia.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.This bill will provide the means to deal with them. Yet honorable senators opposite, with the splendid exception of Sena- tor Ogden, oppose it. Does any one think that the whole of the shipping of Australia could be held up by the mere handful of people who are members of communist associations unless they received active support from many trade unionists throughout Australia? Let me give further evidence that the extremists of Australia are not confined to the members of communist associations.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I was about to refer to a convention which was held in Sydney last week by the extremist element in the Labour movement, commonly known as the “ Reds.” This convention of extremists was held as a preliminary to the AllAustralian Labour party conference, to be held at Easter. The number of delegates at that conference was approximately 100, representing 42 unions, with a total membership of something over 120,000 industrialists. I notice from the report, evidently supplied to the press, because it was the sa]ne in all the newspapers, that this convention received a congratulatory message from Moscow, which the report stated was suitably acknowledged. We have not been given the text of the message from Moscow, or of the suitable acknowledgment, but that fact proves that 120,000 industrialists are in close and direct touch with Russian bolsheviks. The men are all members of the Labour party, and they will be represented at the Easter conference by men of their own choosing. “What is more, we shall find that the result will be exactly the same as it has been on previous occasions, seeing that the extremists control the Australian Labour party, as they have done since June, 1921. That was the time referred to by Senator Duncan when the objective - the first plank in the Labour party’s platform - was changed from the nationalization to the socialization of industry and the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes, I do. I know that when these representatives reported to their various unions throughout Australia the more moderate ‘ members were so alarmed that they convened a second conference in the same year, which was held in Brisbane, when it was said that they could not hope to win an election with the word “ revolutionary “ in one of the objectives of the Labour party.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.An outside authority, with a ruddy complexion, is the responsible authority.
– The Deputy Lender of the Opposition (Senator Needham) has more than once said that a statement made by Senator Harwell is untrue, and as such an expression is unparliamentary I ask him to withdraw it.
– I cannot help speaking the truth.
– The honorable senator must obey my ruling, and must make an unequivocal withdrawal.
– I have no desire to defy your ruling, sir. When I said the statement was untrue I knew that I was speaking the truth. If the truth is unpalatable, I am prepared to withdraw.
– The honorable senator’s explanation is an accentuation of the offence. I ask him to withdraw the statement unreservedly.
– I withdraw it.
– The fact that these reasonable provisions in the bill are opposed by Labour politicians at the dictation of Labour leaders and industrial agitators outside Parliament proves conclusively that if the elections had resulted otherwise we should have had in power at a critical period of our history a Government too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, and too servile to it to maintain law and order in this country. Surely the existence and activities of the revolutionary and destructive forces in Australia are sufficient to cause the deepest anxiety to any patriot. Surely the danger to be feared from communists, and those who actively co-operate with and support them, is evident enough to point to the urgent necessity of the Parliament taking the necessary steps to restrain and suppress these revolutionary forces. I cannot understand honorable senators opposite opposing this bill. If they are not weak as water, and blind as bats, they will support the measure in their own interests, and in the interests of the great organization to which they belong. I often wonder whether men, such as the Deputy Loader of the Opposition, realize that they are like putty in the hands of the agents of Moscow.
– The honorable senator is as putty in the hands of the National union, which supplies funds to secure the return of the honorable senator, and those associated with him, who make these slanderous statements.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.We subscribe to a platform, but we are absolutely free to express our opinions. We are not caucus ridden, or caucus controlled.
– What about the dictation of Sir William McBeath?
– I do not even know to what the honorable senator is referring.
– He is the dictator of the National Federation.
– Most of our difficulties in Australia are caused by artful and designing men, who are ever ready to foment discord and inflame the natural jealousies that exist between different sections of the community. A government that declared itself powerless to deal with such men, and to confine them strictly within the limits prescribed by the law of the land, would be unworthy of the name of Government. Such men are for the most part mere parasites, who live upon their fellow men. The difficulty that has to be faced is that they increase in numbers and importance during times of industrial strikes like vermin in the midst of corruption. That is why legislation of this kind is particularly necessary. I understand that the provisions of the bill to which the strongest objection is taken by Labour members are those covered by proposed new sections 30j and 30k. The first point to be noticed about the former is that it is purely an emergency provision. It is to operate only when the GovernorGeneral issues a proclamation that, in his opinion, there exists in Australia a serious state of industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States. In other words, it is to operate only when it is specially brought into operation because of some serious national crisis. It further provides -
Any person who, during the operation of such proclamation– that is, during a time of national crisis, when the transport and the public services of this country are being prejudiced - takes part in or continues, or incites to. urges, aids, or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of a lockout or strike -
in relation to employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers, in trade or commerce with other countries, or among the States; or
in relation to employment in, or in connexion with the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth or by any department or public authority under the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding one year, and, in addition (if he was not born in Australia), to deportation by order of the Attorney-General, as provided in this act.
I have already pointed out that, because of the restricted powers of the national Parliament, these provisions are limited to transport services - to services affecting trade between the States or with other countries - and the public services of the Commonwealth. It is a great pity that they could not be made to cover all industrial disturbances which bring about a state of chaos in the national life of Australia. The national government should have the power to deal with any: thine in the nature of a national crisis. It has not that power at the present time, and we cannot confer it. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) said that it would be a great mistake to make the operation of this provision dependent upon the will of the Governor-General. He knows, as well as I and every other honorable senator, that the act is the act of the executive government: it will not be at the personal or arbitrary discretion of the Governor-General. I point out that this is only an emergency measure, but it confers upon the national government a power that it ought to possess. I admit, however, that that power must be very carefully and very sparingly exercised. Deportation should be resorted to only when it is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of law and order and the general well-being of the community - that is to say, it should not be resorted to as a punishment, but merely as a safeguard of the people’s liberties. That is the answer which I make to Senator Hoare, who asked why punishment should be heaped upon punishment. This is not a question of adding one punishment to another, but of providing for the imposition of the punishment of imprisonment by the judicial authorities of the land, and. in the case of a man who was bora outside Australia, deportation at the discretion of the Attorney-General, if he considers that action to be necessary to safeguard the community. . Senator Gardiner took the objection that this power might be abused. He said, or implied, that a government might issue a proclamation merely for the sake of downing a political foe, or to serve its own party ends. No government, whether it be National, Country party, or Labour, is likely to so abuse this power. It must be remembered that behind the government, and in reality over the government, stand the people of Australia. We can he quite sure that, the great body of citizens in
Australia will never permit this or any other government to do an injustice to any section of the community. The force of public opinion is a very real and very potent factor in the government of this country, and no government dare ignore it. So I say that 1 do not apprehend - and I feel sure that no reasonable man can apprehend - any abuse iu the exercise of this power. Although nominally it is being given to the government, in reality the people of Australia, through their representatives in Parliament, are taking it unto themselves. I, for one, am prepared to trust the people of Australia, but apparently our friends opposite are not. The other provision to which objection is taken by honorable senators opposite, is proposed new section 30k. T. ask honorable senators to pay particular attention to its wording. It makes it an offence, punishable by imprisonment, to obstruct or hinder, by violence, threats, intimidation, or unreasonable boycott, the transport services of Australia, or the public services of the Commonwealth. Surely there is no valid reason why such dastardly acts as those should not come within the ambit of the criminal code; and no reason can be advanced in opposition to their being punishable by imprisonment without the option of a fine. Of course, it is urged by honorable senators opposite that that provision is aimed at trade unionists and labour leaders. Such an objection would not be taken were it not that they have a guilty conscience. They evidently feel that the provision will operate against them, because they are liable to offend in the manner indicated. Do honorable senators opposite think that labour leaders in particular should be exempt from liability for acts such as those which are specified? Do they think they should have the right to obstruct or hinder, by violence, threats, intimidation, or boycott, the transport services or the public services” of the Commonwealth 1 That is exactly the point that they make. They think that,, merely because they are members of labour organizations, they ought to have the right to do what this proposed new section forbids; to commit the diabolical acts at which it aims. Surely thereshould be some provision- in the criminal code against acts of that kind, and it should be made wide enough to cover every person in the community. I should like to deal shortly with the amendment that was moved yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. It is a most extraordinary amendment. He proposes to leave out of the motion all the words after the word “That,” and to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - this House is of opinion that the bill should be withdrawn with a view to redrafting, so as to eliminate the obnoxious clauses referring to industrial disputes, as such clauses associated with the Crimes Act are an unwarranted affront to the greatbody of organized labour.
– If it is an extraordinary amendment, it has been moved to an extraordinary bill.
– If the bill is extraordinary, it has that feature only because of the extraordinary emergencies that have made it imperative to introduce it.
– Where is the emergency ?
– I do not for a moment believe that Senator Needham is so blind that he has not been able to see the emergency which has existed for the last few years.
– How many men has the Government arrested or deported?
– The bill proposes to give the Government the power to deal with those men.
– Whathas been done with them during the last four years ?
– The honorable senator is shiftinghis ground. A moment ago he denied that any emergency existed.
– I deny it now.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The honorable senator is hopeless, and I shall not argue further with him.
– The honorable senator has a hopeless ease.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator is in a proper frame of mind to see the point that I am endeavouring to make.
– I should have to be in an extraordinary frame of mind to follow the honorable senator.
Senator Sir “HENRY BARWELL.It would be extraordinary for the honorable senator, but I think the other honorable senators will have no difficulty in following me. Has ever a more extraordinary amendment been moved to a motion for the second reading of a bill? If the Senate desires to eliminate certain clauses because they are obnoxious, it has the simple remedy of voting against them in committee. I have followed the proceedings of many Parliaments for a great number of years, and I defy the Deputy. Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) to show me where such an extraordinary amendment has previously been moved.
– The one merit of the amendmentis that it enables everybody except the mover to speak twice to the bill at this stage.
– I do not agree that that is a merit if the result is to inflict upon us again the speeches to which we have already had to listen from honorable senators opposite. I have not heard one plausible argument advanced against the bill. I do not want to sit here and listen to a rehash of what has already been said, and I shall not do so. I doubt if the amendment is strictly in accordance with our Standing Orders, but I do not propose at this stage to raise that point. I have not mentioned other provisions in the bill, because, I understand, that they are being supported by honorable senators opposite. I whole heartedly support the second reading of the bill.
– A quarter of a century has passed since the Commonwealth came into existence. During that period we have had many general elections, and on every occasion Labour candidates have had to fight against a powerful purse, a prejudiced press, and poisonous propaganda. The last election was no exception. On the contrary, so far as the non-observance of the ordinary canons of political decency were concerned, it outstripped them all. We were confronted with the most unscrupulous tactics that have ever been employed against us. We had to fight against the masters of mammon, against mountains of misrepresentation, and a veritable Niagara of vilification from 98 per cent. of the newspapers of Australia. Our opponents succeeded in creating, for party purposes, an entirely false atmosphere. Unfortunately some people were persuaded that Australia was on the verge of a revolution. I regret to think that, as the result of this campaign of misrepresentation, Australia - the land of my birth - received the worst advertisement it has had since the Commonwealth came into existence. From platform after platform the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and those associated with him in his opposition to Labour candidates, declared that the eyes of the world were centred upon the electionswhich were decided upon the 14th November last. That, of course, was a grossly-exaggerated statement of the position. People overseas were led to believe that Australia was upon the brink of a red revolution.
– The eyes of the world were on Australia, because of certain happenings in this country.
– Prior to the decision to go to the country, a certain measure was passed in another place, and, in due course, it came before members of this chamber. That bill contained a proposal to which we took, and still take, the strongest exception. . V challenge was issued to the Government by the Leader of the Labour party in another place, to go to the country on that issue. That challenge was not accepted at the time. A little later the Prime Minister visited Wonthaggi during a tour of his division, and when he was asked if he intended to accept the challenge, he replied emphatically in the negative.
– What else did he say?
– If I intended to accept a challenge I should give a decisive answer immediately. I should not say “No” to-day, and “Yes” to-morrow. It is said, however, that certain things happened in the allegedly united and happy family opposite and that the decision to go to the country was made after a threatened mutiny in the ranks of a certain section of our opponents, who are not numerically stronger than they were prior to the last election. But, assuming that the challenge was accepted on the issue mentioned, I remind the Senate that, during the election campaign, the Prime. Minister and his supporters declared that they could not, and would not carry on the ‘Government of the country unless they were given power to deport two men, whose purpose, they declared, was to disrupt Australia and dismember theEmpire!
– Can the honorable senator refer specifically to one speech made by the Prime Minister in which those two men were mentioned?
– All the election speeches of our opponents consisted mainly of a repetition of the statement that the Government intended to deport two men who, it was alleged, had been guilty of unlawful acts. As the result of gross misrepresentation of the position, thousands of votes were improperly won for Ministerial candidates. Ministers had been advised by legal luminaries, some of whom have been mentioned as likely to occupy seats on the High Court bench, though they are not there yet, that the measure to which I refer was constitutionally sound. Having been trained in a legal atmosphere there was, perhaps, reason to believe that they knew their business. One member of the Government went so far as to say, even before the board had arrived at a decision, that the two men would be deported from Australia before the elections were over.
– Who said that ?
- Dr. Earle Page was reported to have said at a meeting in Queensland that the two men mentioned would be deported before polling day. That report has never been contradicted.
– The meeting was held at Gympie. I was present and I did not hear the statement made, so I contradict it.
– Well, Dr. Earle Page is reportedto have said that these men would be sent out of Australia. Just imagine two men being a menace to a population of six millions ! The people were told, of course, that when those men had bean deported everything would be all right. Fortunately, we have an institution which, so far as the interpretation of the Constitution is concerned, is higher than Parliament. The Government considered itself above the law, but the High Court, when the issue came before that tribunal, intimated that the Government could not over-ride the Constitution. I said not long ago in this chamber that this is essentially a rich man’s government. I repeat that statement. The Government appointed a biased board which Dr. Earle Page, so it would appear from his reported utterances during the election, believed would bring in a finding in favour of deportation. The Ministry seemed to think that, having these two men in its grip, it would be comparatively easy to deport them from Australia, because it did not anticipate that the workers would provide the money necessary to carry an appeal to the High Court. What a sorry mess the Government has made of the whole business. The Government itself has been humiliated and the taxpayers of the Commonwealth have been involved in legal costs amounting to many thousands of pounds. In addition to appointing members of the Deportation Board at inordinately high salaries, the Government engaged a number of peace officers about whose duties very little is known. According to a statement, made by the Leader of the Opposition here a day or two ago, these peace officers appear to be employed chiefly in collecting the names of persons who are not of the same political faith as supporters of the Government. The Government went to the country for a mandate to deport two men from Australia. Now, so the Leader of the Government in this chamber informs us, they are to remain here notwithstanding their alleged offence. In the Immigration Bill provision was made for the issuing of a proclamation, after which those who took part in an industrial dispute were to be liable to be brought before a board, and, if found guilty, deported. The bill before us to-day is a much more drastic measure than that upon which the people expressed their opinion at the ballot-box. It contains provisions which were not before the people. The punishments for which it provides are much more drastic than those in the other measure. For instance, for certain industrial offences created under this bill, an Australian trade unionist is liable to one year imprisonment, and a trade unionist who is not Australian born is liable to be deported in addition to being imprisoned. The previous bill did not provide for imprisonment for trade unionists of any nationality.
– The bill also provides for the punishment of employers..
– During the Minister’s second-reading speech he made only one reference to a lockout, but we know that employers can always dodge the law in relation to lockouts. We have heard a great deal about red revolution in Australia. Does any sane man honestly believe that there is a possible chance of a revolution in Australia? It is all so much fustian to talk about the possibility of a revolution, and about taking steps to deal with men who preach revolution. Senator Pearce, in explaining the provisions of this bill and the necessity for it, cited only one case of a man who advocated the overthrow of responsible government. That man was one whose name began with “ Z,” just as there was a man in the last British elections whose name began with “ Z,” and who was alleged to have forwarded a letter from Moscow which was afterwards declared to be a forgery. The man whose case was cited by Senator Pearce was deported long ago. Therefore the only dangerous person the Ministry has been able to unearth has already gone out of the country. According to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), this man urged the Russians in Australia to start a revolution immediately. How many Russians are there in Australia to talk about red revolution? Unfortunately, during the recent elections there were men who ought to have known better who saw red in the morning, red in the afternoon, and red as soon as they got on a platform, and after talking red all day dreamt red at night. Those were the men who created the atmosphere of red revolution.
– There was a display of red on the Fremantle wharf where heads were broken.
– Long before the last election there was trouble on the Fremantle wharf of a much more serious and dangerous character than that which was so speedily settled by the Labour Premier of the State during the course of the last election. Blood was shed, there was loss of life, and damage was done to property. Reference has also been made to a railway strike in Queensland, which unfortunately also took place during the recent Federal election. In Victoria some years ago we had a much more serious find disastrous railway strike. The Government of the day decided to fight the men, and as a result the whole of the railway service was dislocated, the public was subjected to inconvenience and much irritation was caused. That strike was settled in a way Senator Lynch likes - by a fight to a finish; hut for many years afterwards there was no unity or harmony in the railway service of the State. The recent Queensland railway strike was settled in a different manner, and as a result harmony prevails in the railway service of the State where friction would have existed had the other method favoured by Senator Lynch been adopted.
– The honorable senator is romancing.
– There was nothing romantic about the police strike in Melbourne. We know that the police had good cause for striking, and we know, also, that the police force of the State to-day is nothing like what it was prior to that strike.
– The police of today are enjoying the improved conditions for which their predecessors struck.
– After the strikers had pioneered the way, these “ Johnny-come-latelys,” for whom Senator Lynch has so much consideration, are enjoying improved conditions, for which other men had to struggle for a quarter of a century.
– Therefore, there is nothing good in strikes.
– Very often, strikes are blessings in disguise. I well remember the maritime strike of 1890. I was associated with a newspaper at that time.
– The honorable senator must have been very young then.
– I was old enough to understand the reason for the strike. As a matter of fact, it was not a strike, but a lockout by the Australian ship-owners.
– I know that it was nothing of the kind, because I was there at the time.
– Prior to that time, there was no political Labour movement. Some honorable senators who favour this bill, and who are prepared to co.me down with a heavy thud on any man or woman who dares to strike, ought to remember that they owe their political existence to the fact that the strikes which occurred 30 and more years ago gave birth to the political Australian Labour movement.
– In those days, there was no method available other than a strike for the settlement of grievances.
– I ‘admit that the opportunities for reform were not then as great as they are to-day; but if, as Senator Reid contends, the passage of this bill will prevent industrial unrest, stop strikes, and bring about the sunshine of prosperity, we shall reach the millennium to-morrow. Strikes take place in practically every country, whether there are Labour governments or non-Labour governments in office. Does any honorable senator really believe that two or three men in a union can induce the great body of those who are members of it to go out on strike merely for the purpose of striking ?
– Yes; in the case of the Seamen’s Union, by means of terrorism.
– A few months ago there was a strike among British seamen in Australia.
– Prior to that, there had been a succession of Australian seamen’s strikes.
– But the strike among the British seamen was largely responsible for the last Federal election being held before the Commonwealth Parliament had expired by effluxion of time. Does any honorable senator honestly believe that the two men whom the Government proposed to deport were responsible for that trouble? As a matter of fact, the British seamen were thoroughly dissatisfied with their conditions, and they struck of their own volition in Liverpool, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand before trouble occurred in Australia.
– The British seamen struck in Australia first.
– The strike broke out in Liverpool before it took place here, and it is absurd to say that the two men whom the Government sought to deport were responsible for it. As the previous bill, intended for the deportation of the two men much in evidence during the recent election, campaign, was found to be unconstitutional, it is probable that this measure, when tested, will also be found to be unconstitutional. It is wrong for any government to try by every means, fair or foul, to achieve its end.
– The Government knew all the time that the Immigration Act was unconstitutional.
– The Government intended in any case to. deal with the men against whom that legislation was directed, lt did not anticipate that there would be an appeal to the interpreters of the Federal Constitution. Prior to the election, 98 per cent, of the newspaper press of Australia volleyed and thundered on behalf of the Government and for the deportation of those two men, contending that the legislation was sound, and that the alleged menace should be removed. What has happened to change the attitude of certain newspapers which before the election so vigorously supported the Government and opposed the Labour party?
– We are not concerned about the attitude of the newspapers.
– By means of the newspapers the Government obtained its mandate. Because the Government decided to impose no duty on imported newsprint, the newspapers gave it their support. The Adelaide Advertiser, which is not a Labour paper, contained an interesting and informative article on the bill now before us. I should say, as a layman who understands something about newspapers, that it was written by a legal gentleman who is conversant with the Federal Constitution ?
– What is his name?
– I do not propose to mention any name, because I may not be right in my conjecture. The Adelaide Advertiser said -
The bill, in its efforts to encompass all sorts of crimes against the Constitution, reached a vagueness which will, no doubt, horrify its framers when the High Court has finished interpreting it.
The Hobart Mercury said that the bill, whatever its merits, bristles with difficulties. There are some who believe that th’s measure is the embodiment of constitutional law; but Mr. Latham, the Attorney-General, when introducing it in another place said, “If hon orable members hope that there will be no litigation in respect of it, I arn afraid that their hopes will not be realized.” The Melbourne Age supported the Government during the recent election campaign ; but, on 11th February, in its editorial columns, dealing with the proclamation which the Government will, no doubt, issue under this legislation, said -
The proposal is to be regarded as the deliberated judgment of men who have found themselves face to face with an admittedly difficult situation. To that extent their proposal is entitled to respect. But such a measure of power no Australian government should get. This Government must find some less dangerous way out.
The same editorial continued -
If the Government persists in keeping such a provision intact, it will display a perverse and unpardonable blindness to the elemental facts of industrial life.
– Does the honorable senator bow to the decision of that great journal ?
– The Age was pointing out that the Government would probably again have to bow to the decision of the High Court. On the 18th February, in its editorial columns, the Age said -
Tlie Government has already had a humiliating lesson as to the perils lurking in illconsidered legislation. It should remind itself that triumph in the House may easily mean trouble in the court. Those considerations, however, are legal and technical. It still looks as if serious objections could be raised on grounds more fundamental. . . . The bill is palpably bound to hit the decent, conscientious, industrial striker. His right to strike is not merely one which he will fight determinedly to retain - it is one of which he cannot very well be dispossessed. . . . Australia should, through her Parliament, declare that she is strong enough and determined enough to control within her own borders those who are native born or British born.
That is plain common sense. Let me again quote from the Age of the 25th February : -
The Government has been guilty of a blunder in using its numerical strength to pass the Crimes Bill. It may partly redeem the blunder by passing the bill out of sight altogether. Let it be buried in the statute-book without any sure or certain hope of a resurrection.
– The honorable senator has been quoting from Melbourne newspapers. What about the Canberra newspaper ?
– I am dealing with a serious matter in a serious way. I have been born and reared in an industrial atmosphere, and no measure with which I have dealt in this chamber has caused me more concern than has this bill. It is a damnable insult to organized labour and to the trade union movement, with which I am associated. To designate an industrialist as a criminal, to bring him under the criminal law, subjecting him to a year’s imprisonment and to deportation for an alleged industrial offence, is something for which I cannot, and will not, stand. Whether I am a member of this Parliament or not, my voice will be heard in protest.
– The honorable senator has not read the bill.
– I have not only read it, but I also understand it. During the last Parliament, the Government introduced a Bill to deal with industrialists. Apart from the judges of the High Court, it had access to the advice of the best legal talent in Australia. It was satisfied with the bill which it introduced; but, in effect, the High Court said that those who drafted and supported that measure did not understand the A B C of the Constitution. Now Senator Pearce says that I have not read the bill! I know that one portion of it deals with unlawful associations to bring about revolution and to overthrow responsible government in this country. I prefer to treat the utterances of men who talk of overthrowing the Constitution by violence as so much empty froth. The Government worked itself into a frenzy because some Russian named Zuzenko urged all the Russians in Australia forthwith to start a revolution. All the talk about a “ red “ revolution in Australia is childish. Men who harbour such thoughts in free Australia, where, on polling day at least, rich and poor are equal, ought to be medically examined. Ever since the foundation of Australia there have been some such people in our midst. The present Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce”* in days gone by spoke on the Yarra Bank. If we were to look up reports in the daily newspapers of 25 years ago, we should see that Senator Pearce was then a “red-r agger” who gave utterance to views just as strong and vigorous as are advocated to-day in the Sydney Domain or on the Yarra Bank, Melbourne. In those days, also, his next-door neighbour on the Yarra Bank was probably a man who advocated anarchism, while not far away were others who advocated nihilism. If any one had then suggested to Senator Pearce that special legislation should be introduced to deal with such persons, he would have said, “ What nonsense ; they are only blowing off steam. Take no notice, of them.” We have been told that this bill will not affect trade unionism, but I point out that it will do more than that. The proposed new subsection 30,r brings within its scope any person who during the operation of a proclamation takes part in, or continues, or incites to, urges, aids, or encourages the taking part in, or continuation of, a strike or lockout. We are told also that the bill will apply only to transport workers. Do honorable senators believe that any organization which may, directly or indirectly, be affected by a strike among the transport workers will not come within the scope of this legislation? The bill contains drag-net provisions, so that all and sundry may be included. During the British seamen’s strike, various organizations, encouraged, assisted, and supported the strikers. Labour newspapers and persons sympathetically disposed towards Labour’s objective supported the strike. Certain clergymen, including the Rev. Maynard, of Queensland, and Dean Hart, of Melbourne, also advocated the cause of the strikers.
– The Rev. Maynard is a communist.
– Never mind. Several prominent clergymen sympathized with the strikers.
– That does not prove that the action of the men was right.
- Senator Barwell said that the measure would not restrict the liberty of the subject,- and would not embarrass any person who desired to freely express his opinions. If this measure had been in operation a few months ago, the clergymen whom I have mentioned and others who expressed their opinions in favour of the strikers, would have been liable to imprisonment. Will the Minister deny that?
– The honorable senator knows whom we are after.
– Will the Minister deny that Dean Hart, the Rev Mr. Maynard, and others could not have been punished under such a measure as this? Will the Minister say that any trade unionist who gave practical support to the strikers would not have been liable to imprisonment? Every one who knows anything about industrialists will admit that an injury to one is the concern of all. If this measure had been in operation newspapers which dared to publish a word in support of the strikers would have been liable to prosecution. Is this the only way of dealing with strikes in Australia ?
– This” is one way.
– Does any one believe that there should be discrimination between citizens?
– There will not be under this measure.
– There will be. Apart from other constitutional aspects, we have to consider whether the Commonwealth h”«s the right to discriminate between citizens.
– In every law we pass we discriminate between the citizen who obeys it and the one who does not.
– In this case we discriminate between citizens by providing for the imprisonment of some offenders, and for the deportation of others found guilty of the same offence.
– Two persons were deported on one occasion.
– Under our Immigration Act the Government has power to prevent certain persons entering Australia, and also the power to deport them. The Government should have that power, as it would be wrong to allow persons affected by disease, or who are mentally defective to enter Australia. But no one has previously suggested that men who commit industrial offences should be imprisoned for a period of up to one year, and if they were not born in Australia, be liable to deportation. After a man has served a sentence he is given an opportunity, which sometimes is not the best, to make a new start in life, but the opportunities given to a criminal of the worst type may be denied an industrialist, who, after he has served a term of imprisonment may be deported if he is not Australian born. It is problemati cal if any country will take back one of its citizens after he has been deported. We know of the handicaps to be faced by those who have been imprisoned. The fact that a person had been deported would be published throughout the world, and his opportunities in life would be seriously affected.
– Is it not in a man’s interests to send him to another country after he has served a term of imprisonment ?
– That is a new doctrine. If a person serves a term of imprisonment, Senator Thompson thinks it is in his interests to deport him.
– The State courts frequently direct that certain undesirable persons be returned to the States to which they belong.
– To send a man to another State is not to deport him. We are studying this matter from an Australian view-point, and are not taking into consideration imaginary boundaries. There are some persons in this chamber who have a most ha7.y idea of the political views of other members of the community. They look upon every man who advocates communism as a menace to the peace, order, and good government of the country. Some of the best men and women in the world advocate communism. It is not proposed under this measure to deal with a person because of the political views he holds. A person, however, who advocates the overthrow of constitutional government by force or violence is to be dealt with. The proposition is too ridiculous to be seriously entertained. It is foolish to suggest that persons could equip themselves with arms and ammunition, and would attempt the impossible, when, on election day, they can vote for candidates who, if returned to power in sufficient numbers, will give effect to the policy they favour.
– That is the proper way.
– Does any one think differently 1
– Some of the honorable senator’s friends do.
– Some years ago an important meeting was held in the Melbourne Town Hall to consider the acceptance of a tender by the Melbourne City Council of 4s. Hd. a day for the supply of a man, horse, and dray. I attended the meeting. The building was packed. I advised the Mayor to keep out of the chair, but he said, “ I am the Mayor, and it is my duty to preside.” I informed him that there was a very strong feeling against the acceptance of the tender. The Mayor took the chair, but the proceedings were so lively that the meeting could not be held, and the services of the police were requisitioned. At the gathering were one or two who advocated revolution and anarchy, but when I informed them that the police had been sent for they suddenly disappeared. Those men were as much prepared for revolution as are those who today speak of bringing about a changed condition of society by unconstitutional methods. Although the Government was successful at the last election it should not disregard the advice tendered iu the editorial columns of certain newspapers, and that given by members of the Opposition, who understand the industrial position better than honorable senators opposite. We ask the Government to hesitate before besmirching the statute-book of this country by placing on it a measure such as this. It is too dangerous a power to be placed in the hands of a Government such as we have in office today. The bill has been ill-digested, and as a writer in the Adelaide Advertiser said, it will horrify the framers of the Constitution when it is tested before the High Court. It bristles with difficulties, and in the language of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), who introduced it in another place, it will provide more work for the lawyers. I trust the Government will accept the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) .
– I have listened with a considerable degree of interest to the views that have been expressed by honorable senators on both sides, but more particularly to those which have been advanced by honorable senators opposite. I join issue with Senator Findley in regard to the reason for the introduction of this bill, and the extent to which it will operate against certain members of the community. The honorable senator besought us to believe that the strikes which have been agitating the people of Australia for the last twelve months were so trivial that they might be brushed aside with a mere sweep of the hand. He spoke thus of the strike of railway employees in Queensland, and that of the Police Force in Victoria; but if we are to accept the opinions expressed by leaders of thought in the Labour movement in other States, we must conclude that the Queensland railway strike was a serious menace, not only to that State, but also to Australia as a whole. Metaphorically speaking, the railway workers held a fullyloaded revolver at the head of the State Labour Government, and caused it to capitulate. It acceded to every demand, and within a week a strike bulletin was issued under the aegis of the Trades Hall, in which the statement appeared, “ If you can paralyze industry by folding your arms, why resort to arbitration?” In that bulletin also there was the further statement to the railway workers, “ You have gained more by direct action in two days than you could hope to gain in two years by arbitration.” Senator Gardiner informed) us yesterday that the Labour party had never advocated a resort to strikes, but that, on the contrary, it believed in arbitration. The arbitration legislation that finds a place on the statute-book to-day was mostly initiated by members of the Labour party, and in spite of its many defects, 95 per cent, of the people of Australia believe that it provides the only logical means for the settlement of industrial disputes. Briefly stated, the question before us to-day is whether we are in favour of constitutional methods or direct action - law and order or communism, the National Anthem or the Red Flag. The National Anthem is good enough for me. Mr. Gillies was Premier of Queeusland when the railway workers of that State went on strike. At the commencement of the upheaval he put on a bold front, but when pressure was applied he readily capitulated. A door of escape was conveniently opened for him, and he placed himself in a snug position, above the turmoil of party politics, at a remuneration of £2,000 a year. Before he relinquished ministerial office, however, he said of the men who had caused the railway strike, “ I admit that these revolutionaries can destroy the government.”
– Yet Senator Findley believes that they are quite harmless.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) delivered an able speech in moving the motion for the second reading of this bill, and in the course of it referred to the outbreaks of lawlessness at Cairns, Gladstone, and Fremantle. Are honorable senators opposite going to throw dust in the eyes of the people of Australia by endeavouring to make it appear that the railway strike in Queensland was a comparatively mild affair, and that the outbreaks at Fremantle were merely an exhibition of braggadocio and hilarity on the part of the lads on the waterfront? We put up with these occurrences until tlie breaking point was reached. Our friends opposite appear to forget that the lawabiding section of the community, which represents from 95 to 96 per cent, of our population, must be protected from these bushranging communists, who disregard their interests, and seek to make them bow to their behests. There is a point beyond which the people will not go. Every self-governing community has the inherent right to pass legislation to control the people within its frontiers by declaring certain acts to be offences punishable by deportation. If a person is guilty of an offence against society, will any honorable senator opposite tell me that a self-governing community has not the right to deport him? Although the power was adjudged by the High Court to have been wrongly taken under the Immigration Act, is there anybody who will contend that this Parliament is not entitled to pass a law creating certain offences, and providing such punishment for them ? If a person is so blind to not only his own interests, but also those of 95 per cent, of the people of Australia as to commit an offence against society, we have the right that is possessed by every self-governing country to deport him as an alternative or an addition to the imposition of imprisonment. My friends opposite put up a good, fight for a very bad case. That was the role which they were forced to adopt, also, during the election campaign. In that big fight it was recognized by many leaders of Labour that we were on the edge of a precipice. The people were asked by most of our opponents, however, to believe that there was no necessity for alarm, that the National and Country parties were raising a bogy - that communism did not exist in Australia - and that by subterfuge and nefarious practices we were endeavouring to gain votes that we did not deserve. But what had Mr. Lang, the Labour Premier of New South Wales, to say about these revolutionaries and communists? Although we may not endorse the whole of his dicta, his opinion on this subject must carry a certain amount of weight, and be entitled to a certain amount of respect. Ho said, in July. 1925-
Mcn who como here deliberately to set class against class, and to embitter social relationship, will richly deserve all that is coming to them, and I can assure thom in advance that the present Government is not going to allow criminality to flourish in our midst, whether it masquerades under the name of. the Industrial Workers of the World or any other. II- record in this and other parts of the world i«s infamous, and leads us to but one conclusion, that it is 99 per cent, criminal. It is reported in the press that one of the first speakers on behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World in the Domain declared that, he was here <» propagate strife, strikes, and job control. Al! those weapons are opposed by the unions and the Australian Labour party, and, so far amy power extends, it will bo used to protect the public interest and the good name of our industrial population. 1 do not think i,hat New South Wales should be made the dumpingground for the industrial refuse of the British Empire. More care should be taken by thy Federal authorities in the admission of undesirables.
Throughout the election campaign I did not hear of one occasion upon which any of my honorable friends opposite, or the advocates of the platform which they espouse, came into the open and castigated those who are trying to burst up the unions of Australia, to overthrow law and order, and to undermine all the advantages of civilization for which we have been striving during the last 150 years. Either they approved of the tactics of these people, or they had not the pluck to denounce them from a public platform. If the latter is the explanation, what is the reason for it? Is it that they realize that it would mean political extermination for them ? We went right through the elections without that denunciation on the part of Labour candidates, and the people were, therefore, left to judge for themselves as to which party was in the right and which in the wrong. The verdict was given in no uncertain way. Our friends opposite, and those to whom. Mr. Lang referred, were told in unmistakable language that those who espoused the cause of Nationalism and the tenets of the Country party had right on their side, and that the people of Australia wanted law and order and good government to prevail, instead of direct action and unlawful methods.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– When wewent to the people last November, the National and Country party, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) clearly stated, sought a definite mandate for the maintenance of law and order and the supremacy of constitutional government. That was the paramount issue. It rested with the Labour candidates to answer the clear and perfectly direct statement made by the Leader of the Government. How did they answer it ? They endeavoured to persuade the people that the Prime Minister was misleading them, that there was no need for action against the com- munists, and that the Government was making, or intended to make, an insidious attack upon trade unionists, and the workers generally. As to the first point, I submit that the decision of the people at the. ballot box was a complete vindication of the appeal made by the Government. National and Country party candidates secured 1.593.533 votes, and Labour party condidates 1,313,949 votes, leaving a clear majority of 279,584 votes on the side of law, order, and good government.
– If the honorable senator’s argument is sound there must be a considerable number of people in Australia against law and order.
– I prefer to think that those who voted against us were misled by Opposition candidates. At all events there was a clear majority of over a quarter of a million people in favour of constitutional government being carried on as it should be in every civilized, up-to-date community.
– Did we not have a majority for good government before the last election?
– There was a definite majority in favour of good government until the cloven hoof appeared in the Labour movement - until the advent of these communists, who have brought so much discredit upon the party, and upon those earlier leaders of the movement who had been able, by lawful and constitutional methods, by resort to the ballot box, to improve substantially the condition of the 700,000 trade unionists of Australia. Unfortunately the communists, although we are told they are only a thousand strong, have been able, by preaching their insidious doctrine, by throwing dust in the eyes of the workers and some of the champions of the workers’ cause, to do damage to the movement. What is more, they have played hell with the whole of our industries, particularly the primary industry, by interfering with the means of production, distribution, and exchange. They have practically held up 95 per cent. of the people of Australia, taking the bread out of their mouths, so to speak, and the money out of their pockets. They represent a small but noisy element. According to Mr. Garden, the secretary of the Labour Council in New South Wales, they number only 1,000, and yet they have been able to dominate the New South Wales Labour Council, which represents the bone and sinew of the Labour party in that State. On the 31st December, 1924, the Sydney Trades and Labour Council issued a report signed by Mr. Garden in which he said that although there were only 1,000 communists in Australia, they were able to impose their will on over 700,000 workers. How do our Friends opposite explain away the fact that 1,000 communists have such influence on the Labour movement in Australia’? There are 120 unions in New South Wales. Of these, 67 are in the city of Sydney. These unions appoint twelve delegates to the Trades and Labour Council, and eleven of the twelve members of the executive of that council are avowed communists. In view of this fact, what, is the use of the Labour party telling the people of Australia that the communist menace is a myth? I think we are all at heart socialists. What more glorious ideal can any person have than that of doing something to uplift his fellow man. The greatest religion the world has ever known is based on that ideal. I have nothing to say about the private character of Mr. Garden. In his earlier years he was a Methodist minister at Macleay, in the northern rivers district of New South Wales. There he engaged in the business of saving souls, and I have no doubt that in his probationary period lie did good work. He was engaged then in synthetic work, but to-day he is busy with his iconoclastic programme as a breaker of images, and is doing his best to destroy the beautiful edifice created by the earlier leaders of organized Labour in Australia. The Labour unions have no greater enemy to-day than men of Mr. Garden’s line of thought - the imported communists who are seeking to spread their terrible doctrine amongst them. He, and those who think with him, are doing their best to break down the existing social edifice. They invite the people to throw off the protecting mantle of civilization and revert to the era of the savage - to hark back to the methods of the semi-barbarians of the stone age.
When we appeared before the people a few months ago the Labour party were not very active in their denunciation of the communistic doctrine. So it is not to be wondered at that the enlightened people of Australia - where the poor man, living perhaps in a hovel, enjoys the sam-e right to vote as the rich mau in the mansion, where we have free education, where our universities, through the medium of bursaries, are available to every boy and girl with brains, where the doors of opportunity are wide open to all - should have rallied to the support of the Government.
Under our democratic form of government our people, starting from scratch - and, having regard to our earlier population, with not too good a “ kick off “ - have achieved a great deal. On our statute-books are many enlightened measures for the uplifting of humanity. In this respect we lead the world. Our people have £175,000,000 on deposit in our savings banks; sufficient to pay £30 to every man, woman, and child in Australia. These deposits have not been built up by any system of bush-ranging or direct action, but by the civilizing influences of our social system, and good government. Australia is not a fertile ground for the propagation of the communistic seed. Conditions hero are not analogous to those of Russia, which . are so often held up to us by men whose names begin, with “ Z “ or “ K.” The people of this country have too much to lose to be led away by any false communistic doctrine. In Victoria alone three-fourths of the people have deposits to their credit in the savings banks, and in South Australia, to its credit, six out of every seven people are in the same happy position. The figures for the Commonwealth show that 65 per cent, of the people have credit balances in one or other of the savings banks - I exclude the cheque-paying banks from this return - and, as I have already stated, the total to their credit amounts to £175,000,000.
– Why penalize them by this bill ?
– The point I am trying to make is that where a community such as ours has been enabled by means of educational facilities and by social environment to develop its dynamic power, as against the static power of semi barbarians, it is rather a travesty to ask them to accept the communistic dogma of Soviet Russia, or any other country. Why do these communists seek to force their doctrine upon the people of Australia?
– And why are they welcomed by honorable senators opposite?
– Yes; why do they welcome them with open anus, and speak with them from the same platform ? The communists in Australia are comparatively few, but they will venom breed. Why noi: “ scotch the snake.” If we do not check them, they may fasten their nefarious doctrine on this country and destroy the fabric of our social system, with the result that all that we prize so much will be handed over to the thieves and vagabonds of communism, who will dismember our institutions just .as they have clone in Russia. Soviet Russia has been held up as representing the last word in government. Let me quote from
J’ fie Sociology of Revolution, by Sorokin. We find in one passage the statement that in Soviet Russia-
The remuneration of the teachers is pitifully insufficient, so that most of them either die or have themselves transferred to more lucrative posts. To these difficulties must be added that of the absence of books and other educational implements.
In another passage, speaking of the Soviet conditions, Sorokin writes -
As a result of all these conditions national education and civilization deteriorate in proportion to the strength and deep-rootedness of the revolution.
In another place he writes -
Fifty per cent, of the primary and high schools have been demolished during the years of the revolution. . . . The percentage of children of school age that actually received education was as follows : - In 1905 about 43 per cent. ; in 1914 about 70 per cent. ; in 1922 about 38 per cent.
That was after the Soviets had had plenty of time to make their presence felt. I con Id quote ad lib. from this book as to the effect of communism on Russian conditions, but I have quoted sufficient to establish one point I wish to make so far as Australia is concerned. We were getting on very well indeed if we had only been left alone. Our friends opposite are very concerned because they regard the deportation provisions of this bill as an insidious attack upon trade unionism.
– There is1 no doubt about that,
– There are hundreds of laws in Australia which, if disobeyed, render persons liable to imprisonment, and when persons are found guilty of disobeying those laws, and are imprisoned, we applaud, and say that I he offenders’ have met their deserts. What do we find in this bill ? There are clauses dealing with unlawful associations. Honorable senators opposite do not approve of unlawful associations, and therefore any objection to the bill on the score that it is against unlawful associations is removed. Honorable senators opposite do not approve of people who are engaged in treasonable practices, nor of those who instigate others to commit crimes. Both of these offences are provided for in this bill. It seems to me that our friends opposite approve of everything in the measure except those provisions which impose fines and imprisonment after a proclamation is issued. My experience is that we always get a reasonable interpretation of any statute by those who are placed in power to administer the laws. It is apparent to any one who gives a second’s thought to the provisions of this bill that proposed section 30j finds a place in it so that it may he brought into force when matters have reached the stage at which it is necessary to hit hard and pretty often.
– ] t may be brought into force before that stage is reached.
– No. Senator Findley said that this provision was an attack upon trade unionism, and was aimed at the bona fide striker. No legislature has yet devised any power to take away from a body of men the ordinary right to strike. No body of men can be made to work if it does not wish to work. You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. But when the stage’ described in proposed section 30j is reached, when there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance, prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, the Governor-General, on the advice of the Executive Council, is empowered to issue a proclamation, and thereafter any person who does certain things must beware. The sword is there, but we do not say that it will descend. Honorable senators opposite want to keep their unions inviolate ; they want unionism to remain on the high pedestal to which it has been raised by their own efforts and those of others; yet when certain craven souls who have come into our midst uninvited have abused the rights of citizenship, they are not prepared to put them in their place. In those circumstances, it rest with the Government, particularly when it is backed up by the mandate of a majority of 250,000 votes, to say, not only to unionists, but also to every man in Australia, “ There is the law. You may break it, but if in your organizations, or by your propaganda, you carry on the breaking of the law to such an extent that there is a serious industrial disturbance, prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, the power given by this bill will be brought into operation.” The difference between this bill and the Immigration Act is that before deportation can take place, a conviction in a court of law must be obtained; whereas under the Immigration Act a prior conviction was not necessary. My friends opposite cannot claim that this law will be enforced against unionists or trade unions in Australia. It will simply be administered in the way in which other law? have been administered by the composite Government. No true-blue unionist who obeys the law will have any grounds for fear. It will really pro- tect him. against his own so-called friends - the men who preach the doctrines of which I have spoken, and endeavour to impose their will on the workers as well as the people of Australia. The method they adopt is to burst up the unions, create dissension among the ranks of the unionists, hold up our interstate and overseas trade and act in a vile conspiracy against 95 per cent, of the law-abiding people of Australia, who want to carry on in their own fair way, but are prevented from doing so by a handful of wrongdoers. This bill will give that sort of person short shrift, but the sword will fall only in the direction in which it is intended to fall. I am a newcomer to the Senate, but I congratulate honorable senators opposite on the case they have put up, poor as it is. They have had a particularly hard row to hoe. I admire the spirit in which the debate has been carried on, but, at the same time, every person who dispassionately reads the provisions of the bill sees that the law-abiding citizen, or the law-abiding organization, has nothing to fear. Any organization that is prepared to give the people of Australia a fair deal will be treated in like fashion by the people of Australia. We are situated 12,000 miles from the heart and hub of the universe. We are encircled by a sea coast-line 12.000 miles long. Within a week’s sail of the Northern Territory, a quarter of the population of the world is to be found in China. A little farther off is India. If all the people of the world were paraded in front of us. one out of eight would be an inhabitant of India. Nearer at hand is Java, with its millions, yet in Australia we have a mere handful of people holding a continent. All that the worker has gained in Australia has been gained by constitutional methods. When we look about us and see the homes and other assets of a contented people, with money to their credit in the savings bank, and find that the prosperity of the country is very largely intertwined with the welfare of the primary producers, who have never been able to pass their imposts on to others, is it any wonder that the verdict was given on the 14th November last for law and order and good government ? The people are not blind to their own interests. Many oof those who voted for the National and Country party candidates were members of the Labour party. No man will contend that a government could carry on for one moment without the substantial backing of a great many of the toilers, whom we term the Labour people of Australia. I hope that no government will ever be able to carry on without that support. Otherwise, it would be legislating for one class only. The present Government has the backing of many solid Labour voters. These voters have said to the composite Government, “ Go ahead with your legislation. Get rid of the craven hosts of men who are prepared to break down everything near and dear to us. The sooner you do it the more satisfied we shall be.” Honorable senators have only to recall the recent incidents in Queensland. When the strain had reached the breaking point, trains were run down to Cairns from as far back as Baron Palls and further west, and at every station they picked up from 20 to 40 toilers. They were, for the most part good Labour men. They had always voted for Labour, but they realized that an insignificant majority had taken the reins of government into their hands, and were prepared to dictate to the Ministry, and to declare that the primary producers, who get a return from their labour but once a year, could not have their produce removed but must see it rot on the wharfs. These people realized that they had to take charge of affairs in order to get any return at all for the sweat of their brow. Were they not justified in stepping in when others who sought to hold up industry caused starvation and penury and trouble to the best people in Australia? I regard those people who live out-back, who encounter all sorts of difficulties, and are deprived of all forms of social amusement and comfort, as the backbone of Australia. Every day we are saying, “Put people on to the land; bring immigrants here, and populate our vast, empty spaces.” I wish that we could do so. Along with the matter ot constitutional government, the populating of our empty spaces is the most important question in Australia to-day. But how are we to populate our vast spaces unless we have settled government, and can tell these people, “ Yes, plough your furrow, sow your seed, and garner your harvest; we shall take it to the market and see that you get the world’s parity for what you grow?” Is that asking too much ? Is one small section of the community to be allowed to take charge of everything ? Red revolution will come, if it comes at all, from those men who are deprived of their rights. If the other section of the community is to be allowed to behave to the people of Australia as Mr. Gillies and his henchmen behaved to the people of Queensland, then good-bye responsible government, good-bye our White Australia, good-bye Australia and everything near and dear to us. No unionist need be afraid of this bill if he is prepared to follow the straight and proper course. Many unionists are hoping that the bill will be passed because it will cleanse the Augean stable and remove from the Labour movement a parasitic growth which has attached itself to it in Australia, and taking its very life-blood. Instead of looking to a Labour government to clean up things, the majority of the people of Australia have given the task to the composite Ministry. The majority of the workers are quite satisfied to leave the destinies of Australia in the hands of that Government.
– The Government was returned under false pretences.
– Does the honorable senator seriously suggest that? I should like to meet that issue.
– The Government said it was going to deport two men, but it has failed to do so.
– If a number of persons were discussing a sentence of, say, six months’ imprisonment imposed upon some man, some one would say, perhaps, that he deserved five years, and others that he should have received two years; but if one of the party asked, “ If we all got our deserts in this world, do you not think some of us would have done six months before now?” they would probably hang their heads, and not say another word. An amending Immigration Act was passed. I do not say it was wrong, but under it a conviction could not be obtained. We do not wish to adopt unconstitutional means in our endeavour to deport undesirable citizens. What are we doing now? What is the purpose of this bill ? Surely the Opposition do not suggest that those responsible for the recent serious industrial disturbances in Australia should be allowed to remain in the Commonwealth, if they again misbehave.
– They cannot be deported.
– Every selfgoverning community has power, as we have under the Constitution, to create offences, and to provide punishment for such offences. If those persons who are endeavouring to destroy everything that is near and dear to us continue as they have been doing, we should provide a means of sending them out of Australia. It is only these microbes, which, have come here from Russia, and, like the tick, have grown fat, that are endeavouring to induce the workers of Australia to adapt themselves to Russian ideals. Senator Needham does not look upon them as a menace, hut wishes, apparently, to champion their cause.
– He is really afraid of them.
– Yes ; and he and others of his party are secretly glad that the Composite Government has undertaken that which they had not the pluck to do. We repeatedly hear the party opposite declare that they are championing the cause of the proletariat. We have no proletariat in Australia. I ask honorable senators to say whether I am wrong in that assertion. As far as the workers of Australia are concerned, the word proletariat is a misnomer. It has no application to patrician or plebian. Proletariat, as honorable senators know, is derived from proletarius, a citizen of the lowest class. In ancient Rome, it was the sixth and lowest class. We have no sixth class in Australia. The proletariat consists of a people who are untutored and unskilled. In Australia, where we have universal education and advanced industrial legislation, it cannot be said that we have a proletariat. It is true that at times we have unemployment, but that is also true of every large community. Reference has also been made to the meaning of the word “ sabotage.” which is used in the bill, but which is not defined. Exception has been taken to its use. There can be no doubt however as to its meaning. Years after the French revolution, French working men and women always wore wooden shoes, which were known as sabots. Industrial trouble and unrest occurred in certain factories, men and women could not secure what they claimed to be their rights, and on one occasion a working man threw his wooden shoe or sabot into an expensive piece of machinery, and smashed it. And so the word “ sabotage “ came into use. The latest defintion of the word is to be found in Har ley’s Syndicalism. It is -
The wilful destruction or deterioration, or the rendering useless of instruments and other objects with a view to stopping or hampering work, industry, or commerce.
– As an Australian would say, “ Putting in the boot.”
– Yes, and a wooden one at that. Another definition, which is practically the same, is that given in the latest dictionary issued this year by Funk and Wagnall.
– Can the honorable senator define the word “ profiteer “ ?
– That is not mentioned in the bill. I have endeavoured to put the position as I see it. I speak as one who has had 30 years’ experience amongst the producers in the back country of New South Wales. I have been associated with shearers and other industrialists, and therefore know what I am talking about. I say unhesitatingly that if we are to have a happy and contented countryside the primary producers must have some measure of protection, such as is to be given them under this bill. If we are to settle the broad acres of this marvellous Australia of ours, we must have at our disposal a means of dealing with the class of persons referred to in this measure.
– Communists never do any pioneering.
– No, they only break down, undermine, and white-ant what others have done. The pioneering done by white ants does not appeal to us.
I have not dealt seriatim with the clauses of this bill, because they have already been discussed threadbare. I trust that the bill will be carried and that there will be no occasion to give effect to its penal provisions. Every legitimate trade unionist and worker, and the industrial organizations with which they are associated, will have nothing to fear from it; but if at any time unlawful associations carry their activities to such an extent as to come within its purview they will deserve all they get. I trust the bill will be placed upon the statute-book, and when it is, our friends opposite will wake up one morning to a realization of the fact that it is far-reaching and beneficent, but necessary. They will admit then that we have done the dirty but necessary work that they were not prepared to undertake, but which they were really pleased to see the composite Government take in hand and they will be forced to acknowledge that by doing so we have assisted trade unionists and built up trade unionism to a greater extent than-they themselves have done for many years past.
Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) [2.391. - I wish to express my strong opposition to the bill, and particularly to proposed new section 30r Strikes occur at various periods in different parts of the Commonwealth, but it is clear to every one that it is not always possible to stop them. Senator Lynch, who has had considerable experience in the industrial arena, will admit that in many cases strikes are unavoidable. Many strikes have been caused by the difficulty experienced by trade unionists in getting before the Arbitration Court in order to have their grievances adjusted. An objectionable feature of the bill is that the leader of an industrial organization, the members of which are on strike may, if found guilty of an offence under it, be imprisoned for a period of two years. The members of the Labour party have always favoured arbitration, but the patience of. workers has often been tried to such an extent that they have been compelled to take extreme action. To give peace officers the power to arrest industrial leaders without a warrant is un-British and unjust. We are not in favour of the adoption of barbarous methods in order to settle disputes, but when they do occur it cannot besaid that a union leader is more responsible than a member of the rank and file of his organization. He is merely carrying out his duties at the request of a majority of the members of his union.
– We know better than that.
– The honorable senator does not’ know anything of the kind. I am speaking of legitimate trade unions and organizations. A strike is not declaredunlessamarjority of the members of the union concerned are in favour of a cessation of work. If all other methods fail, the strike weapon is resorted to.
– Does the honorable senator say that a strike does not occur unless a majority of the members of a union sanction it?
– Did the seamen’s union hold a ballot?
– I cannot say.
– The honorable senator knows it did not.
– I do not know anything of the kind. I have only the honorable senator’s word, which is not worth much, that a ballot was not held. This measure is aimed particularly at the transport group, which includes, of course, the seamen, the railway workers, and other industrialists; but it is easy to imagine that in the event of a strike of transport workers the coal miners would also be involved. Even if strike leaders were imprisoned, work would not be resumed. If one man is taken there is always another ready to step into his place. I deplore strikes as much as any man.
– The bill will not have the effect that the honorable senator apprehends.
– Under it a man taking part in a strike may be arrested and brought before a tribunal. If he is Australian born he will be liable to two years’ imprisonment, and if he is not Australian born he may be imprisoned for twelve months and afterwards deported, for taking action that he was forced by his union to take. The deportation provisions will apply, not only to those who were born in Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway, and other foreign countries, but also to those who were born in Great Britain. That is one of the reasons for my opposition to the bill. I have in mind a strike that took place in New South Wales in 1892. The leaders of that strike were arrested with the idea of forcing the men to submit, and thus enabling the Broken Hill mines to be reopened. Was that action effective? Those men were manacled and sent to Deniliquin for trial. I suppose that similar practices will be adopted under this pernicious measure. I do not stand for sedition, but I believe that this is too harsh a measure to apply to legitimate industrial agitation. It has been introduced to cover up the constitutional error into which the legal gentlemen associated with the Government led Parliament last year. The wording of the proposed new section does not do credit to the Government. Although I shall vote to have the bill sent back for redrafting, I know that the brutal majority behind the Government will not permit of that being done. Under the lag laws in the darkest days of Van Diemen’s Land there was nothing worse than this. Senator Pearce informed the Senate that the bill was brought in to deal with certain persons who were considered to be unfit to remain in Australia. He said that it would apply to teachers in communistic and socialistic Sunday schools who were teaching, not socialism, but hatred and sedition. I believe that the right honorable senator is as unacquainted as I am with the proceedings in those institutions. The Government is playing the game pretty low when it endeavours to foist these provisions upon the industrial community. . Apart from the legislation in respect to which the Government got a setback from the High Court, there is already sufficient power to deal with the persons to whom Senator Pearce referred. The bill is undemocratic, and un-British.
– Will the honorable senator name the legislation under which the Government can deal with these men ?
– Apart from deporting them, they can be dealt with under the Arbitration Act.
– My experience of that act is that you cannot deal with them under it.
– Senator Barwell, who is regarded as a well-informed lawyer said that the bill hardly went far enough, but as it was an emergency measure, he was prepared to accept it. He then went on to say that the power which it conferred would have to be used with extreme care. It is difficult to understand what the honorable senator really meant. The bill lays upon an arrested person the onus of proving his innocence. I assume that Senator Pearce knows that in Western Australia there is an act which deals with gold stealing, under which a man can be arrested without warrant and has to prove his innocence. The right honorable senator will probably agree that this will not have a steadying effectupon the industrial movement. The drafting of the measure does not reflect very great credit upon the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham). A legally-trained mind is not necessary to formulate such trash as it contains. I am satisfied that he is not one whit better fitted for the position than the man whom he succeeded. References have been made to the possibility of revolution breaking out in Australia. My experience in different parts of the Commonwealth and New Zealand has convinced me that it would be impossible to stage a bloody revolution here.
– The police strike in Melbourne amountod almost to a revolution.
– That was the fault of the State Government. The men on strike were prepared to come to the assistance of the authorities.
– They held upt he loyal police at every opportunity.
– Not atall. I have lived in Australia long enough to know that it is impossible for Labour to achieve its objective by the spilling of blood. There are times, such as during big strikes, when small riots may occur; but nothing is further from the minds of Labour men in general than the precipitation of a bloody revolution. I fail to understand why honorable senators who have preceded me have expressed a fear of such an occurrence. Apparently, they can see blood on every hand. I suppose that Senator Abbott, and other honorable senators who took part in the recent war, and witnessed the spilling of human blood, did not appreciate the experience. They, too, know that a revolution is unlikely in this country, where a comparatively small population is scattered over a large area. It would he impossible to muster sufficient men at one time to foment a revolution here. Labour has advanced in the past by constitutional methods, and it is still prepared to carry on its work in that way. Some members of unions contend that Labour is not making sufficiently rapid progress, and they are prepared to “ crack the globe.” No doubt, those honorable senators who had thousands of men under their command during the recent war will admit that they had to contend with the rowdy element; but it would be absurd to say that bloodshed is imminent in Australia. Senator Lynch referred yesterday to transport being held up because of a strike, and he remarked, “What wouldbe done if the growers of wheat withheld it from sale, and refused to dispose of it unless they were paid 10s. a bushel? The authorities would step in and force them to sell.” Let mo remindhim, however, that, soon after the war, the people of Kalgoorlie had to pay 12s. 6d. a bushel for wheat, although similar wheat was sold in Germany for 7s. 3d. a bushel. On that occasion, the authorities took no action.
– Haveyou a flour-mill in Kalgoorlie?
– No.I am not speaking of large quantities of wheat.
– Why is the honorable senator so anxiousthat Messrs. Walsh and Johannsen should not be deported ?
– The honorable senator should dismiss that idea. The Government proposed to deport them before the recent election ; but, since it found it could not effect its purpose, it has brought down the present bill to overcome the constitutional difficulties that it then encountered.
– It has introduced this bill to keep faith with the electors.
– No. The Government was prepared, prior to the elections, to deport these men; but it now declares that it has no such intention.
Debate (on motion by Senator Payne) adjourned.
Death of Senator the Hon. J. V. O’Loghlin.
Motion (by Senator Crawford) proposed - .
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Before putting the motion for the adjournment, I desire to inform the Senate that I have received a communication from Mrs. O’Loghlin, widow of the late Senator J. V. O’Loghlin, acknowledging the receipt of a hound copy of the resolution of the Senate and the speeches made in this chamber when the death of her late husband was announced. She desires me to thank honorable senators for their kind expressions of condolence and sympathy, which she deeply appreciates. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260305_senate_10_112/>.