10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Transfer of Seat of Government
– Is it a fact that the Government regards the transfer of the seat of government to Canberra as being inevitable as death, and is, therefore, as anxious to postpone the one as the other?
– It is not only not a fact, but a gross misrepresentation of the attitude of the Government.
The following papers were presented : -
Federal Capital - Photographs to accompany the Report of the Federal Capital Commission to the Minister for Home and Territories for the quarter ended 31st March, 1926, laid on the table of the Senate on the 2nd June, 1926.
Papuan Oilfields - Drilling Reports of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in connexion with oil-boring operations in Papua during the months of January, February, March, and April, 1926, together with report on drilling difficulties.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 73- No. 74- No. 76.
. -(By leave). - I wish to make a statement respecting the representation in the Senate of Ministers in another place. The Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs, the Treasurer, and the Attorney-General will be represented by myself. The Minister for Defence and the Minister for Health, in addition to his own Department of Home and Territories, will be represented by Senator the Honorable Sir T. W. Glasgow, The Ministers for Markets and Migration, Trade and Customs, Works and Railways, and the PostmasterGeneral will be represented by Senator the Honorable T. W. Crawford.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) announced the resignation of Senator Sir T. W. Glasgow of the position of Temporary Chairman of Committees, consequent upon his taking office as Minister for Home and Territories; and the appointment of Senator Findley to fill the vacancy.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In view of the great and increasing number of wireless installation in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, and of the growing desire on the part of listeners-in to hear the speeches of honorable senators in full, will the Minister take the necessary steps to ensure that for the remainder of the meetings of the Senate in Melbourne the speeches of honorable senators shall be broadcasted?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The programmes broadcasted are arranged by the broadcasting companies themselves, and not by the Government. It would not be possible to arrange for the whole time to be devoted to parliamentary speeches.
Debate resumed from 18th June (vide page 3290).
.- Few questions have agitated the public mind so much as those dealt with in the bill now before the Senate. Proposals such as are contained in this bill have been before the people of Australia on other occasions. It would appear that the public mind is usually conservative.
The party to which I belong has asked somewhat similar powers of the people, believing that this Parliament could not properly function and do the great service which the nation’s Parliament should do for the people unless it were given more extensive powers than it at present possesses. On the proposals being submitted to them on two or three occasions, the people were stampeded into refusing to give this Parliament the powers asked for. Strange as it may seem, we now have what, from my point of view, is a conservative Government proposing to ask the people for the powers, or some of them, for which the Labour party first asked over sixteen years ago. Whilst the proposals contained in the bill are not so far-reaching as those which we considered necessary, they go quite a long way on the road to giving effect to the platform to which I am pledged as a member of the Labour party. The agitation in the minds of the people on this subject would appear to be due, more or less, to misunderstanding. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce), in his second-reading speech, in explaining to the Senate and the public the powers which would be wielded by the Parliament in the event of the Constitution alteration proposals being accepted, said that any authority that would bo appointed by this Parliament would be subject to any restrictions which might be imposed upon it by the Parliament. That is to say, this Parliament would bo in a position to circumscribe the activities of any authority created by it to regulate the industrial affairs of Australia. Although it could not directly declare that 48 hours should constitute a week’s work, it could say to the authority, “You shall not gobeyond a 44-hours’ week in any award you make.” The Attorney-General emphasized this in a later statement. As Minister controlling this legislation he should know the intention of the Government when the bill was drafted. At any rate, he said -
It would be possible for the Parliament to provide that no award, regulation or determination of an authority should prescribe more than a certain number of hours or legs than a certain number. That would be within the power of the Parliament.
It has been claimed in the press and on the platforms of this country that the court to which the Government proposes to delegate its power will be an oligarchy with a life tenure and supreme over this Parliament in the exercise of its authority.
– Does the honorable senator think that it is the function of Parliament to decidewithout proper inquiry questions relating to hours of. work ?
– I am not speaking on that phase of the question for the moment. I am trying to remove from the public mind and from the minds of many Labour supporters the wrong impression that has been formed - that if this bill meets with the approval of the people, and an authority is appointed to regulate industrial affairs, it will be beyond the reach and control of this Parliament, and can do whatever it likes. My reading of the bill is that Parliament will have power to appoint an authority to regulate industrial affairs, and that the authority so appointed will not be beyond its reach. Parliament can clip the wings of an authority that does something which does not meet with its approval, and make it subservient to the will of the people. Therefore, it is not proposed to create something which will be superior to this Parliament.
Public opinion may simmer down presently, but at present it is very disturbed. Opposition to the proposed amendments has already been expressed, not only by half the Labour press and half the Labour leaders, but also by every Tory newspaper, and almost every Tory organization. In those circumstances, I. do not think the amendments will have a million-to-one chance of being carried. But if the Government persist in submitting them to the people, I think the people should have a clear understanding of the questions on which they are asked to give a vote. For my own part, as I said the other day, I would clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with every power possible, because after each election it represents . the expressed opinion of the people of Australia. Every adult in the Commonwealth is entitled to go freely to the poll and exercise a vote; indeed, every citizen is compelled to realize his responsibility in this regard, being forced under certain pains and penalties to record a vote. If any institution in Australia reflects the public will it is this Senate. When every person has the opportunity to express his political opinions by marking a ballot-paper, can there be any ground for complaint as to what is done by this Parliament? Therefore, as in the Commonwealth Parliament, all Australians can speak with an equal voice, I would clothe that body with every possible power. It is true that the representatives of the people in this chamber express divergent views on some of the matters which come up for consideration. As a life-long member of the Labour party, and an old trade unionist, I know something of the history of the trade union movement in Australia, and something of the means employed to relieve the workers of the disabilities they have suffered. The Labour party whole-heartedly advocated the adoption of compulsory arbitration. Throughout my life I have endeavoured to give people an opportunity to meet and discuss in a reasonable way those industrial problems which come before the country from time to time. When it comes to a real “ show down “ most men are amenable to reason. A shining proof of that is the success achieved by the Industrial Disputes Committee of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. That body has been in existence for about fifteen years. When trouble arises in any industry it is immediately reported to the Trades Hall Council, and the Disputes Committee gets busy. It asks the employers in the industry affected to meet if in conference and discuss the trouble with a view to arriving at a settlement so that work may continue. In the first year of its activities the committee settled 109 disputes out of 111 which occurred in Melbourne. That is a record which is not proclaimed in the press, or talked about where it should be made known. How can there be any truth in the assertion of those who do not know, that there is a desire on the part of industrialists to disturb the industries of Australia, when we go to so much trouble to appoint these committees, and place our ablest and wisest members on them to talk over matters with employers? Those employers will meet us in conference now, because they know that if they do not face a conference the law will compel them to face an industrial tribunal. It is no trouble now to get what Senator Barwell calls a round-table conference; but it would not be obtainable were it not for the fact that behind the request for a conference is the compelling hand of the law. The employers know that, if they prove recalcitrant, they can be haled before the Arbitration Court, by whose awards they will be bound. My party is constantly striving to promote conciliatory methods; no sane unionist would advocate any other method of dealing with industrial disputes. What advantage do the unionists get from the holding up of, say, the coal-mines? Thousands of men who are not directly concerned in the dispute are thrown out of employment. If the men employed in the coal-mining, shipping, or transport services leave their work, nearly all other employments are affected. It is surely worth the while of this Parliament to evolve means by which such dislocations of industry can bo avoided. People must rid their minds of the idea that men go out on strike lightly - because they want a rest, or a few days’ holiday, or for any other frivolous reason. They resort to the extreme measure of striking only when no other means of redress is open to them. That fact must be realized, so that laws for the proper regulation of industry may be put on the statute-book.
– What of the strikes caused by job control?
– I am not prepared to say that all strikes are justifiable, but most of them are.
– Some of them are not.
– The workers may make mistakes. I do not suggest that all their leaders are Solomons, but, broadly speaking, organized labour never resorts to extreme steps without warrant. I am not afraid of what the present Government may do if it is granted the increased powers that it seeks. If it abuses them, it can do so only until the next election, when the people will speak their mind very plainly. I do not fear the judgment of the Australian people. There is nothing the present Government would not do that it could do with impunity, but the great safeguard in a democracy is the power of the people at the ballot-box. That is the bulwark of our liberties.
– That argument applied to the deportation issue.
– Does the honorable senator wish to throw that apple of discord into this arena?
– The honorable senator is throwing basketsful.
– I regret that any Australian Parliament should have thought it necessary to punish any person by deportation.We should settle our troubles in our own country. If any man, no matter who he is or what his standing in the country, breaks the laws, he should be punished in Australia, and not passed on to some other country. Labour is able to do that in its own ranks. If members of Labour organizations get out of order, they can be brought to book, or pressure can be brought to bear upon them, to convince them that they are doing wrong. [Extension of time granted.] In the 40 years I have been in the Labour movement, I have been endeavouring to evolve an organization by which the will of the Labour movement might bo expressed through some recognized authority, so that when, in a crisis, it had delivered its dictum, every man in the Labour army would act like a welldisciplined soldier, fighting for the cause, regardless of whether he agreed or disagreed with the tactics -of the generals. I might differ from a policy laid down by the constituted authority, but I hold that if the Labour army is to achieve anything, if it is to make Australia fit for white men to live in, it must act unitedly, and individual opinions must be set aside.
– Why is the Labour party not united in regard to this bill?
– Does the honorable senator desire to see created one big union ?
– I am general secretary of the One Big Union, although when I attempted to register its constitution, I was opposed by 21 Labour organizations and eight employers’ organizations, Since then nothing further has been done. The principle I am laying down is that, when the Labour party speaks authoritatively, I and every other unit in the organization must be loyal to its decisions, even at the sacrifice of his personal opinions. The movement is greater than the individual. It is not for me to pretend to be a Messiah, the one person qualified to direct the workers to salvation. As a Labour candidate I signed this pledge -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognized political Labour organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principle embodied in the Australian Labour party’s platform, and, on all questions affecting the platform, to vote as a majority of the parliamentary Labour party may decide at a fully constituted caucus meeting.
Is there anything wrong with that?
– The honorable senator has said that this referendum proposal is not in conflict with the Labour party’s platform.
– -That is so; because one plank of the platform demands full legislative power for this Parliament. The Government does not propose to ask for anything like that power; but the proposed referendum will, if agreed to by the people, give to this Parliament greater power than it now possesses. I and other members of my party have fought two or three referendums to confer greater powers on this Parliament. We risked our political scalps in our effort to establish the authority of this Parliament to legislate on the lines of the Labour platform. The press, in declaring that I am supporting these referendums, is totally misrepresenting my position. I am doing nothing of the kind. I am supporting this measure, which seeks to give increased powers to the Commonwealth Parliament in relation to industry and commerce, and I will state my position on the second measure, dealing with essential services, when that bill comes before this chamber.
An Honorable Senator. - The honorable senator had better take care, or his party will have his head.
– Suppose that does happen? I shall not squeal, because I realize that the Labour movement is greater than the individual.
– But I can imagine the honorable senator roaring a bit about it.
– I am always prepared to fight, if that be necessary. If, however, the progress of the Labour movement required that I should stand aside, what sort of a man would I be to object? I am but a unit in the party, and I recognize that the sacrifice of a unit is not a matter of consequence if it profits the movement. The Government is unwise in submitting these proposals now, because there is no chance of securing an affirmative vote. Probably, from £80,000 to £100,000 will be spent on the referendum, notwithstanding that ministers must know that the dice is loaded against them. These proposals ore strongly opposed by the great bulk of the Labour organizations, by the Labour press, and also by the tory press. Sir Arthur Robinson called a meeting of all the tories in Melbourne at Scott’s Hotel last week. They have declared their determination to conduct a wellorganized campaign in Victoria in opposition to an extension of these powers. Probably the movement will spread to the other States. Labour, also, is organizing to defeat the referendums.
– In New South Wales Sir Arthur Robinson and Mr. Lang, the Labour Premier, may speak from the same platform in opposition to the proposals.
– Yes. They will be comrades in arms on these issues, at all events, if one may judge from their publicly-expressed opinions.
– But the reasons for their opposition would be divergent.
– The Government, in spite of all that is happening, appears to be determined to go ahead.
– When would the time be opportune to submit these questions to the people?
– I cannot tell; but if the Government wishes to succeed it should submit the questions in the form adopted by a Labour government sixteen years ago. At that time about one-half of those honorable senators who are now supporting the Government were in the ranks of Labour, and supported them wholeheartedly. Indeed, they helped to draft the proposals. No one should be afraid to trust the democratic vote of the people. The electors are entitled to choose either a National Parliament or a Labour Parliament, and it should have sufficient power properly to govern Australia. If these questions are to be carried at the referendum they should be submitted in the form adopted by Labour. There will then be behind them the whole of the organized Labour movement, and we shall be able to clothe this Parliament with adequate power to legislate for the welfare of the Commonwealth. Much of the opposition to this proposed extension of power is due to the fact that some of the Upper Houses of State legislatures are not elected on a democratic vote. Do honorable senators realize that whilst I am one of the representatives of Victoria in the national Parliament, I am not qualified for a seat in the Legislative Council of that State?
– How then is Labour represented in the Legislative Council of Victoria ?
– That is because some of our friends have the necessary property qualification. I have never been in that happy position.
– Then there are some capitalists in the ranks of Labour ?
– I understand that the property qualification for membership of the Victorian Legislative Council is the possession of £1,000 worth of freehold.I have not that amount of property, and, therefore, I am not qualified for membership of that exalted chamber. It appears, therefore, that Australia’s destiny is really in the hands of people who are not elected by the democratic vote of the community. The States have sovereign rights within their own domain. This Parliament should at least have as much power. I said on Friday last that I would not hesitate to destroy the Constitution if necessary to obtain wider powers for this Parliament. It would then be able to enact whatever laws it considered necessary in the interests of the people, and I, in common with every one else, would be willing to live under its laws. They would be laws enacted by our fellow-citizens, who would have to appear before the electors within three years, and if they had acted contrary to the wishes of a majority they would have to answer for it to the people. The supreme power always rests with the people, and no one else. For the reasons I have outlined, I urge the Government to withdraw the bill at this stage, and to submit more comprehensive proposals which would be likely to receive the endorsement of a majority of the electors. There are some, of course, who rightly believe that under the present Government the Commonwealth is being mismanaged. The suggestion so frequently referred to that further consideration of these proposals should be delayed until a constitutional session of the Parliament is held is one which should receive the closest consideration of the Government. Legislation which is “broad based upon the people’s will “ must always command their respect and support, and in proposing such legislation we shall be acting in the interests of the whole Commonwealth.
– It seems to me that many ‘ of the complexities introduced into the debate could with advantage have been dispensed with. For instance, Senator Barnes has poured into the discussion of the bill a great deal of feeling - for what object I cannot understand. I do not know why he displayed such indignation, or why, although supporting the measure, he spoke with such acerbity. He had not, of course, a good word to say for the Government which has introduced the measure.
– It does not matter what the honorable senator has said, so long as he supports the bill.
– That may be the honorable member’s view, but it is not mine. All questions such as these are decided ultimately by the personal opinions of the honorable senators who debate them, and in speaking now I am expressing merely my own opinion. I would not try to state the views of other honorable senators, because, from what has already transpired, I imagine that it would take me hours to accomplish that task ; whereas my intention is to speak for only a few minutes. It may be that the honorable senator was halfway through his argument before he discovered that there was a flaw in it. At any rate, he committed an error which has been committed at times by .honorable senators on both sides of the chamber; he divided the people of this country into two classes only - the em ployers and the employees. Like many others, he overlooked the great middle section of the public, whose vote must decide this and all other questions, and which is, I think, worthy of consideration. These electors have, at all events, an open mind on the questions it is proposed to refer to them, though they may not be greatly interested in them, and I hope that before the proposals are voted on there will be an opportunity to gain their interest in regard to them. I think, too, that Senator Barnes - I do not wish to criticize him too severely - is judging all the Labour organizations of the country by the great organization of which he is the distinguished head. I know it is the largest and best organization of its kind, at all events, in Australia; the honorable senator has told me so. Although this measure proposes an amendment of the powers of the Commonwealth in relation to commerce and industry, I look upon the industrial amendment as more important than that relating to commerce; and the first question we have now to consider is whether the industrial affairs of this country have been satisfactorily controlled hitherto. Looking at the matter dispassionately, and at the results achieved under the present system, I think the answer to the question is emphatically in the negative. But although the results have not been satisfactory, I do not, on that account, utterly condemn the system of arbitration. I condemn, not the system, but its application, and I feel sure that with the knowledge we have gained from the experience of other parts of the world, it is possible for this Parliament, having said that it will control the industrial affairs of the Commonwealth, to place on the statute-book legislation which will prevent the mistakes of the past, and will bring a happier future than is possible under our present legislation. In the first speech that I delivered in this chamber I deplored the fact that the application of Federal arbitration awards had been disastrous to Western Australia; first, because of the remoteness of the State from the Seat of Government, and, secondly, because of the conflict between the Federal and State jurisdictions. If the people of Australia assent to the proposals contained in the bill, the Federal
Parliament will be able - it will be obliged to do so when it has the power - to create such courts, or to continue such tribunals now in existence, as will enable the obstacle of remoteness to be overcome, and thus ensure the proper dispatch of hearings and the decision of cases. More important still, our legislation will, I feel sure, embody provisions enabling the Arbitration Court to enforce the decisions which lit gives. In the past trouble has arisen because effect could not be given to the decisions’ of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and the judges themselves have complained of this weakness of the system. -We should see that in the future the arbitration judges, whoever they may be, shall not labour under that handicap. I understand that much exception is being taken by the two schools of thought that are represented in this chamber by Senators Barnes and Barwell to the proposals of .the- Government concerning trusts and combinations of employers, and the part which the Government will play in the control of their operations. It has always appeared to me that there is a good deal to be said in favour of the control of some of these trusts and combinations. We have not very far to look for evidence of the necessity for that control from the point of view of both the trusts and combinations themselves, and of the people of Australia generally. We might, as the right honorable gentleman who leads this Senate (Senator Pearce) indicated, follow the example set by the governments of the various States, in connexion with the control and regulation of friendly societies, although some of the trade union organizations to which our legislation would apply do not altogether deserve the term “ friendly.” If this proposed control leads to the promulgation of a new law relating to companies, our time will have been well spent. I look forward with interest, and a greater degree of hope than that which was expressed by Senator Barnes, to the forthcoming referendum. There is every reason for supporting the bill in its present form, and I intend to do so. The referendum should be taken without the modifications that have been either alluded to, or suggested by honorable senators on both sides. The future of Australia depends to a very great extent upon the fair, impartial, and reasonable administration of the industrial affairs of Australia. For that reason, and also because I am hopeful of the best results accruing to Australia, I have every pleasure in supporting the bill.
– I have no desire to give a silent vote upon such an important and far-reaching measure. I listened with a considerable degree of interest to the speech which was delivered by Senator Barnes on Friday, and again to-day. He is well worth listening to when he undertakes the task of advising the Senate as to what he considers the best course to adopt. On this bill he has raised two very important points. The most important argument which he advanced was that the Government would take over the control of cur industrial affairs to the extent of issuing directions to the authorities that are to be appointed as to the manner in which they should discharge their functions. That, to my mind, would be most undesirable. My understanding of the position is that it is intended to remove this matter altogether from the realm of party politics, so that it shall not be affected by the party struggles that frequently characterize the debates in the national Parliament. The Government will not be able to take any action for the appointment of authorities before bringing down legislation for the consideration of this Parliament, which, in its wisdom, will decide whether or not the authorities appointed under the act shall be allowed to carry ‘on their work in the way that is desired by the majority of the people of Australia. Senator Barnes also argued that this Parliament would not have sufficient power to take whatever action might be thought desirable. If the proposals which the bill contains were advanced separately, I feel sure that the whole of the labour organizations would support one portion, and the capitalistic organizations the other. Their inclusion in the one measure has led to the amalgamation of those forces. Our experience of industrial and commercial affairs, since the termination of the war, must have convinced every reasonable man that drastic alterations are necessary in connexion with industrial organizations and combinations of capital. I do not believe that this Parliament would outrage the feelings of the community in any legislation that it might pass. I am pleased at the absence of ill-feeling from this debate. It has been conducted in a most friendly manner, the views of each side having been stated in the frankest spirit. That augurs well for the success of the campaign when these questions are submitted to the people. The proper angle from which to approach the question is, in what way will Australia be affected ? It is admitted, on every hand, that industrialism is not at present upon a satisfactory basis. Since the termination of the war, there has been so much interruption of industry as the result of strikes, that every reasonable citizen must agree that it is the duty of the Government to endeavour to improve the position without delay. We have very little knowledge of the combines that are operating in our midst, but it is the general belief that they are not working in the best interests of Australia. It would be an almost criminal act for a government to introduce legislation affecting labour organizations, if it did not concurrently introduce other legislation dealing with trusts and combines. I believe that if the people would adopt these proposals we should be able to do a great deal to improve our present unsatisfactory methods of dealing with industrial disputes. Notwithstanding the pessimistic views expressed by some honorable senators, it would be to the undoubted advantage of the community if this national Parliament had complete authority over matters affecting industry and commerce. I am quite prepared to admit that wages boards, round-table conferences, and other similar means of adjusting differences between employees and employers have been used with advantage to the general public, but I do not imagine, as opponents of these proposals have said, that their use will be dispensed with if the people sanction these constitutional alterations; for we have been told quite definitely that the Government intends to maintain them. The chief object in introducing this bill is to get power to prevent overlapping. At present some factories have to comply with the terms of anything from 20 to 50 different awards, and have to employ special highly-trained officers to keep track of all the determinations by industrial tribunals which might affect their business. That is making a comic opera of industrial arbitration. These proposals have been designed to remedy that, and to bring about a better understanding between employers and employees. Every one who is interested in the welfare of our great Commonwealth must regret that capital and labour are at present in antagonistic camps, and that instead of sympathy, there is a feeling akin to hatred between them. That must be altered before this country can prosper in the highest sense; and I feel that any move this Parliament may make to alter it will be welcomed by the great” bulk of the people. It is unreasonable to expect workers to wait patiently for twelve months, or even two years, for a settlement of their claims, as they are obliged to do now in some cases. The long delays that occur have considerably increased the irritation of all parties concerned. Personally I have no doubt whatever that that state of affairs will be remedied speedily if the people approve of these proposals : and that henceforth industry and commerce will go hand in hand to the advantage of the Commonwealth. It has been urged that this is a clumsy and costly method of trying to bring a spirit of greater harmony into our industrial relations; but it has been shown quite definitely in the course of the debate that an amendment of the Constitution is necessary before we can do very much to improve the present position. This plan for amending the Constitution is provided in the Constitution itself, and Parliament has simply to take it and use it. In my. opinion we should make greater headway if those who spend their time complaining and fault-finding would, with a willing spirit, advocate these proposed amendments. It is not at all likely that this, or any other government, in this democratic community, would attempt, in the exercise of larger powers, to introduce legislation that would victimize a section of the community, for it would know very well that it would soon get its deserts. We should have a more reasonable and rational method of determining industrial disputes, and the adoption of these proposals will, in my opinion, give it to us. I regret that so much publicity is given overseas to the statement that Australia is the land of strikes, but such excellent speeches as that delivered by Senator DrakeBrockman will do a great deal to remove those unwarranted aspersions on our industrial community. Australia, of course, has her industrial troubles just as every other civilized country has; but they are fewer and of less magnitude here than in a good many other countries. Before people will come and settle here, we shall have to remove these unjust suspicions, which, it appears to me, are circulated by those who are opposed to our arbitration methods for the settlement of industrial disputes. Possibly the guilty persons are afraid that similar arbitration courts may be established in their country. It is wicked and cruel that in most countries only the arbitrament of hunger is used to settle industrial disputes. It is unthinkable that Australia should go back to that sorry condition. For 25 years we have been trying to build up an effective industrial arbitration system, and I believe the adoption of these proposals by the people would be a step in the direction of making our efforts something more than a .by- word. Notwithstanding the comparative failure of the system so far, I believe that no one in Australia would wish to go back to the methods that existed before its introduction. I am astonished at the opposition to this bill. One section of the community thi ,11:E that it goes too far, and another that it does not go far enough. It is strange t.> see a small section of the community - the wealthy men who will be affected by the commerce provisions of the bill - in league with extremists in the Labour movement.
– Does the honorable senator think that only a small section of commercial men is opposed to this legislation ?
– I think so, because of the noise they are making. As a rule, the smaller the numbers, the bigger the noise. When these opposing factions are found to be in agreement, one is justified in believing that reforms are sometimes opposed merely because they have been introduced by a certain political party. Unfortunately, that is often the case; but I hope that, in considering this bill,’ and in dealing with the referendum proposals on the public platform, we shall forget our petty political differences and deal with the Government’s proposals from the point of view of their effect upon Australia. If the electors will consider the future of their country, rather than a temporary gain to any political party, these proposals will be carried by a large majority. The bill has my wholehearted support. During the last election campaign, I found that feeling ran high, and that it was necessary for me to declare my attitude towards certain questions then agitating the public mind. I made my position abundantly clear. I told the people of South Australia that, if the existing laws were not broad enough to deal effectively with industrial matters, I was prepared to support the Government in any action it took to remedy that state of affairs. On each occasion my remarks were applauded by the majority of those present. I do not think that the people of Australia have altered their opinion since that time, and I, therefore, feel confident that these proposals will receive their support. I do not agree with those who say that this legislation has been brought before us with undue haste. The electors have known for many months that legislation of this nature has been contemplated. If consideration of this bill were postponed, or the referendum proposals were not submitted to the electors for another year, I do not see that any benefit would accrue. The electors of Australia are not so stupid as some would have us believe. Most of them are anxious that the country shall be free from a repetition of the industrial upheavals from which it has suffered during recent years. I shall have pleasure in supporting these referendum proposals before the people, and shall do my best to convince them of the desirability of an alteration of the Constitution in order to deal with industrial disputes and those combines and organizations which, unquestionably, operate to the detriment of the people. No section of the community which is not acting detrimentally to the interests of the people as a whole, or disobeying the country’s laws, need fear this legislation. I stand always for the supremacy of the country’s laws, and, therefore, I shall support this bill.
– The discussion on’ this bill h-is thrown a good deal of light upon what is, probably, the most important subject with which this Parliament could deal. At the outset, I wish to make it clear that I am in favour of arbitration as a commonsense way of settling industrial disputes, and I believe that the majority of the people of this country are of the same opinion. Some honorable senators appear to have erroneous ideas regarding the manner in which trade union business is conducted. It is my privilege to be closely acquainted with the workings of various trade unions, and I have no fault to find with the way in which their affairs are conducted. Senator Pearce, when introducing this hill, drew an analogy between friendly societies and trad. unions. In that both exist for the mutual benefit and protection of their member, he was right. The Minister said, also, that it was desired that the books of trad.3 unions should be inspected by qualified auditors, in the same way that the books of friendly societies are audited. To that trade unionists, in the main, have no objection, so long as the persons appointed to do the work are fully qualified. Senator Barnes told the Senate that the books of each branch of the Australian Workers Union must, under the rules of that organization, be audited at certain intervals by at least one certified auditor. Trade unionists are endowed with an ordinary amount of common sense, and are anxious to conserve their own property. Having a voice in the distribution of their union funds, they can be relied upon to see that those funds are not misused. Cases of misappropriation have occurred at times; but even in the bestregulated banks, where auditors are almost constantly employed, funds are sometimes improperly used. Reference was made by Senator Lynch to the memorable award by Mr. Justice Higgins in the Harvester case, which has been accepted as the basis of the living wage. I suggest that altered conditions have arisen since the time when that judgment was delivered, and that the standard of living should, if possible, be raised. Mr. Justice Higgins was faced with a very difficult task in having to determine what was a living wage; he was practically a legislator in industrial; matters, upon which his book, *A New Province for Law end Order, contains much valuable information. Let me direct the attention of honorable senators to the following passage from that work: -
The new province is that of the relations between employers and employees. Is it possible for a civilized community so to regulate these relations as to make the bounds of the industrial chaos narrower, to add new territory to the domain of order and law? The war between the profit-maker and the wage earner is always with us; and, although not so dramatic or catastrophic as the present war in Europe, it probably produces in the long run as much loss and suffering, not only to the actual combatants, but also to the public.
Senator Lynch, unfortunately, never has a good word for the Australian worker, who, in his opinion, “ goes slow “, and does not return a fair day’s work for the wage received.
– A section of tho workers certainly has that fault.
– If there be such a section, it comprises a very small proportion of the workers. My own opinion is that the Australian worker is the best in the world.
– Then why were the principles of day labour departed from by the letting of a contract for the recent additions to the Melbourne Trades Hall?
– Although the work was done by a contractor, the men were employed under the day-labour system. Perhaps Senator Lynch would like us to return to the days when jails were built by prison labour, for which no payment was made. He also referred to the State agricultural implement works in Western Australia, which, I have been informed, have resulted in great benefit, particularly to the farming community of that State. The institution pays its way, and has had the effect of keeping the price of agricultural machinery at a fair level. I was sorry to hear Senator Barwell’s virulent attack upon the industrial system of this country, and upon the workers generally, because such statements, if broadcast, will do incalculable harm. He said that Australia was the home of strikes; but, as a matter of fact, fewer strikes occur here than the majority of people imagine. In South Australia, for instance, the total loss in wages on account of industrial disturbances in the year 1920 amounted to £140,326; in 1921, to £37,315; in 1922, to £43,222; in 1923, to £20,440; in 1924 to £14,851 ; and in 1925 to £12,240. Since the total loss decreased from £140,326 in 1920 to £12,240 in 1925, I hardly see the justification for Senator Barwell’s extraordinary allegation. He said that he believed in the Canadian system of settling industrial disputes. There a reference board is appointed, consisting of three members. One is nominated by the employees, and one by the employers, and, if the two sides cannot agree as to the third member, he is appointed by the Minister for Labour. I remind honorable senators, however, that strikes’ take place even in Canada. Senator Barwell suggested that arbitration was the cause of strikes in Australia ; but I intend to show that they occur in countries that have no arbitration system. The following statement by Judge Dennistoun, in the case of the King versus Russell, in connexion with the general strike in Winnipeg, was as follows: -
A ballot for a general strike waa taken within the week preceding 15th May, 1919.
At 11 o’clock on 15th May the strike became effective.
Russell was business agent of the Machinists’ Union and of the Metal Trades Council. lie was on the central strike committee, which at first consisted of five persons’ known as tho “ Big Five,” and was composed of Russell, Winning, Veitch, McBride, and Robinson.
A meeting of the general strike committee was held on 14th May, at the I-abour Temple in Winnipeg. Russell, Armstrong, Ivens, Queen, Heaps, were all present. They are all mimed in the indictment.
The general strike committee consisted of about 300 persons.
The police were instructed not to strike at that time, although they had voted to do so, and had given a strike notice to the police commissioners, as it was anticipated that, if they did so, martial law would be proclaimed, which was not desired by the committee.
Waterworks employees were instructed to remain on the joh, but to reduce the water pressure tn 30 lb., so that the water would not rise higher than the first floors. After a lapse of time, and as soon as the city council ordered the pressure hack to normal, they were called out.
Every organization affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council was ordered out, and every effort was made to force unorganized workers to stop work as well.
During the first week or so of th». strike, the executive work was done by the “ Big Five.”
When the strike became effective it is said there were 24,000 persons who left their employment, which included all the organized workers except the Typographical Union.
Among those who came out were the em’ployees of the railways, street railways, telephone system, post office, express companies, ‘ milk and bread companies, the fire department, city health and scavenging departments, and hotels and restaurants.
As the police had representatives on the strike committee, the force was dismissed as a whole by the Winnipeg Police Commission, after refusal to sever connexion with the Trades and Labour Council.
Pickets were placed on the post offices and throughout the city.
Publication of newspapers was eventually stopped by a strike of the pressmen operating the heavy presses.
Ivens and Queen, with others, were appointed to print and circulate a Strike Bulletin, which was done. Armstrong was one of the “ censor “ committee. Sixteen to eighteen thousand copies were issued daily, copies being sent to all parts of Canada.
A committee of strikers was formed to supply food to returned soldiers and strikers. This proved impracticable, and milk and bread drivers were ordered back to their jobs.
Permission was given to flour mills for the grinding of a limited amount of wheat: the limit having been exceeded, the mill workers were called out again.
Permits were issued by the strike committee for the carrying on of certain kinds of business, for the sending of censored telegrams, for. the purchase of gasoline, &c.
Moving picture theatres were issued permit cards on condition that they posted a permit card, “ Permitted by authority of the strike committee,” outside the theatre, and showed on the screen, “The. operators in this theatre are working in harmony with tho strike committee.”
A permit was granted for the furnishing of certain supplies to the hospitals. Delivery wagons were not permitted to operate without a similar permit card prominently displayed.
Efforts were made to promote sympathetic strikes in other cities, and were successful in the cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Brandon, and many points in Western Canada as far as Vancouver.
On 4th June, drivers of milk and bread wagons were again called out.
Several of the accused, from time to time, addressed open-air meetings in support of the strike.
The citizens who were opposed to the sympathetic strike took steps to patrol the streets, to guard the tire-alarm boxes, to man the fire halls, to supply workers in the waterworks department, to form volunteer, military organizations, and to distribute food.
About 23rd May, a meeting took place at the City Hall between representatives of the strikers and the mayor and representatives of the city council. Russell, Queen, and Ivens were present. Russell and Queen spoke. When the mayor stated that he represented constitutional authority in the city, Queen rose and said he did not want to hear anything about constituted authority: they were running the city, and would continue to run the city, and would show the citizens who were running the city. He then told the mayor to sit down.
In June, demonstrations and processions were frequent in the streets. A great deal of intimidation was evident.
The mayor describes o mob of about 4,000 aliens and 500 returned soldiers which assembled in the streets on 10th June. The special police of the city were driven from the streets. There was serious rioting at this time.
On 21st June, about 1,400 special civil police were available, and the mayor issued a proclamation urging the citizens to keep off the streets. Prior to this there had benn1 a direct prohibition of street parades. An attem.pt was made to run a few street cars on this date. The strike sympathizers demanded the right to parade, and that the running of street cars be discontinued. Large crowds assembled in the streets. The special police were unable to cope with them. The mayor then called on the Royal North-west Mounted Police for assistance; on arrival they were attacked by the crowd, and shots were fired from the roofs of houses. The Riot Act was read by the mayor. The military were then called out. The mounted police fired volleys. One person was killed and a considerable number were wounded, one of whom subsequently died.
The strike lasted six weeks. During the whole of that time there existed a widespread system of terrorism. It was due to the energetic action of the general body of citizens that the necessaries of life were procured and distributed and property protected.
On 17th June the accused wore arrested and subsequently admitted to bail.
On 26th June the strikecollapsed, and was called off by the strike committee.
Here is the judgment of Judge Cameron -
The strike committee put an end to street car transportation, shut off the telephone communication, interfered with the city’s water supply, called out the firemen from their posts, and left the city without tire protection . until the strikers’ places had been filled by volunteers. When the members of the police force, renouncing their sworn allegiance, had voted, to join the strikers, the strike committee issued an edict that “ordered” them back to duty. The delivery of milk, bread, and ice was forbidden. Restaurants and eating . places were closed, save those favoured with “ permit cards.” In the city delivery and transmission ofHis Majesty’s mails were, for a time, completely stopped. The newspapers were suspended, and telegraphic communication with the outside world was forbidden. The special police. force, organized to take the place of the ordinary . police force when its members were finally dismissed for disobedience to their lawful superiors, was mobbed, and driven from the streets, and the city left practically without police protection. One member of the special police, who had- been awarded the Victoria Cross for gallant conduct in the war, was seriously injured and had a narrow escape with his life*. In the rioting that occurred subsequently, there were numerous casualties, and members of the Royal North-west Mounted Police were assailed with missiles of all kinds, shot at from the street and roofs of buildings, and several of them wounded. Workers in the hospitals were called from their tasks, and the management of the Winnipeg General Hospital was forced, in the interests of its sick and dying patients, to obtain . permission from’t’-fl strike committee to keep its employees at their posts. A widespread system of espionage, intimidation, and terrorism was organized and executed with relentless vigilance and activity. All these events and many more arc a matter of history and of evidence.
Australia is not the only country that has strikes. I have not read of any strike in this country approaching that referred to by the two learned judges I have quoted, and that disturbance, be it remembered, occurred in a country whose industrial legislation Senator Barwell advises us to copy. Our industrial legislation is not perfect, and I doubt whether we shall ever devise a perfect arbitration system; but our industrial courts, on the whole, have done, and are doing, good work in the interests of the trade unionists and the people generally of this country. At least. 95 per cent, of the trade unionists are willing to submit their grievances to a court, and to abide by its decision. The strike of shearers a few years ago has been mentioned. Evidence was given in the Arbitration Court,, and Mr. Justice Powers fixed 30s. as the rate for shearing 100 sheep. Further evidence was brought before him, and the following week he altered the rate to 35s. It was contended, by the advocates of the union that on the evidence adduced the rate should have been higher than 35s., but if that rate had been awarded , in the first place, there would probably have been no strike. Mr. Justice Powers admitted that his calculations were wrong, and the necessity for altering the award caused the shearers to distrust the court. After taking evidence in Queensland, Mr. Justice McCawlev said that he could not . award less than. £2 per 100, and, as a result, the rate was £2 per 100 in Queensland, while it was 35s. per 100 in the other States. All except two of the pastoralists in South Australia who. had their sheep shorn that year paid £2 per- 100.
– The South Australian pastoralists referred to b’lacklegged on their mates, and paid the £2 per 100 in order to get their wool first to the market.
-I do not think the honorable senator can describe their action as breaking away from their union. What we stand for in Australia is not a maximum but a minimum wage. If the honorable senator had a man working in his garden and the basic wage for gardeners was 14s. 6d. per day, I do not think he would consider that he was blacklegging upon any one if he gave his gardener 15s. 6d. or 16s. per day. The increase beyond the basic wage would merely indicate a generous nature. We hear a great deal of talk about the need for bringing capital and labour together, and a little generosity of that kind would be likely to break down many barriers between them. South Australia sets many good examples, and the pastoralists of that State set a good example to pastoralists in other States in doing the right thing on the occasion I have referred to, and’ getting their sheep shorn. I may mention the fact that there have been strikes in America. I quote from the Monthly Labour ‘ Review of the Department of Labour, United States of ‘ America, of which James J. Davies is secretary. I want to put on record some information supplied by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, and published by the Government of that country, to show that this is not the only country in which strikes occur : -
According to information received by the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, 274 labour disputes, resulting in strikes or lock-outs, occurred in this country during the first quarter of 1925. Since, in some instances, the reports do not reach the Bureau until some time alter the stoppages occur, the number of strikes occurring during the quarter was perhaps a little larger than the above figure. Complete data relative to many of these strikes have not been received by the Bureau, and it has not been possible to verify all that have been received. The figures in the following tables should therefore be regarded as preliminary, and should not be accepted as final: -
The successful six-day ‘strike of 30.000 clothing workers in about 2,000 shops in New York City, beginning 10th March, was the most important labour disturbance during the quarter, as respects the number of workers involved. The strike was called- by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union against the Wholesale Dress Manufacturers’ Association, the union claiming that the association had violated its agreement which became effective on February, 1924.
A strike of about 15,000 clothing workers beginning February, 1917, was called by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union against some 850 shops in New York City. Among other things, the workers wanted a wage increase of 20 per cent., a forty-hour week, and complete unionization of the industry. The strike lasted twenty days, and resulted in a compromise.
This shows that Australia is not the only country in the world in which workers are calling for a shorter working week.
On 5th January, a strike of 3,000 coal teamsters in Chicago .for a wage increase of one dollar per day occurred. The men agreed to arbitrate, and returned to work on 6th January.
A successful strike for increased pay of 2,500 municipal employees (street sweepers, teamsters, &c.) in Chicago ran from 17th February to 28th February.
One of the most stubbornly-contested strikes in the history of the textile industry began on 9th March, when the employees of the American Thread Company at Willimantic, Conn., struck against a wage reduction of 10 per cent. This strike of 2,360 workers of both sections is still in progress.
A strike of 2,000 spinners, loom fixers, &c, of the Utica Steam and Mohawk Valley Cotton Mills against a 10 per cent, wage reduction was in effect from 2nd February to 1st April.
Strikes apparently also occur in Argentina. I quote the following in support of this statement from a paragraph headed “ Strikes in Buenos Aires” -
According to an official report on strikes in the Federal Capital of Argentina, in the last six months of 1924 there were 35 strikes, affecting 58,992 workers, and causing a loss of 3U9,314 working nays, and an estimated loss of wages amounting to 2,386,562 pesos.
Of the 58,992 strikers, 43,664 were men, 12,180 were women, and 3,148 were minors. 1 have quoted sufficient to show that Australia is not the only country in which there is industrial unrest.
– lt should be the only country in which no strikes occur. Was not the Arbitration Court specially devised to prevent the occurrence of strikes in this country ?
– I think it has prevented their occurrence to a very great extent. We heard something the other evening about the psychology of the Australian, and as I understand him he is a man of very independent character. When he makes up his mind that he has a just claim, or is entitled to resist certain action, having an independent spirit he fights for what he believes to be right. I remind honorable senators that many disputes, of which the public know nothing, are settled by the Arbitration Court judges.
– Not many in the. Federal court.
– The Federal court has been hampered to a great extent, because there has not been a sufficient number of judges to carry out its work. Trade unions have had at times to wait an inordinate length of time to have their cases heard. That is one of our difficulties, and, in common with other honorable senators, I am anxious that something should be done to overcome that difficulty by making the court more accessible. Very often when trade union organizations have been unable to get their cases heard by the Federal court they have gone to a State court. We have a State arbitration court in South Australia, and before any dispute is taken into the court the judge calls the parties together in conference. The other day I was looking through the figures showing the number of cases that were settled in South Australia without the parties going into court. In that State, if the judge can induce the parties to settle their differences without going into court, he does so. If he finds that they are not in a mood to settle their differences he orders them into court, where he arbitrates, and they are then bound by his award. I do not know of any case in South Australia where an award of the court has been flouted. I think that on all occasions the employees have obeyed the awards of the court.
– The honorable senator is now referring to awards of the State Arbitration Court?
– Yes, but I may add that I know of no. award of the Federal court that has not been observed in South Australia by employees of the industry affected. There have been some strikes in connexion with key industries in Australia that have caused trouble, but, eventually, every strike or disagreement in an industry must be settled by some means of arbitration. I am of opinion that the most effective way to settle industrial disputes is through an industrial court.
– The difficulty is that big unions go to the court, and afterwards strike if they do not receive a favorable award, whilst the weak unions can do no such thing.
– The honorable senator may remember that on one occasion at Broken Hill the Proprietary Company, and not its employees, refused to accept an award.
– The Proprietary Company locked its men out; but we shall have the power under these proposals, if they are accepted, to deal with lockouts as well as with strikes.
– No one could, of course, be employed in the Proprietary Company’s mines unless award rates were paid.
– Possibly the industry could not stand the new award rates.
– The men might just as reasonably contend that the wages paid prior to the award would not enable them to live.
– There are some people who, whenever an industrial disturbance is mentioned, conjure up a picture of employees on strike. They never think that, as Senator Thomas has reminded us, sometimes employees may be locked out. No sane man likes to see industrial trouble, and we need machinery to deal with industrial disputes. It is an axiom that there are three parties to all industrial disputes - the employer, the employee, and the community. Each party has its rights. One has no more right than another to inflict injury on the others. It should be the function of arbitration authorities to get the parties together, and we should make provision for the awards of an Arbitration Court to be binding on both employer and employee. I believe in arbitration. I consider it the nearest approach to the perfect method of settling industrial disputes. I know of a case that occurred in South Australia where men were working in a certain factory under an award. The manager of the factory hired some nonunion employees, who agreed to do piecework. Piece-work rates were set, and for the first two or three weeks the fast man was earning up to £8 per week, and the slow man about £5 per week. When this had been in operation for a few weeks the piece-work rates were recast so that the fast man could not possibly earn more than £5 per week, and the earnings of the comparatively slow worker were brought down to about £3 per week. There was no arbitrator called in in that case. The men had to work under piece-work rate’s set, not by arbitration, but by the firm for whom they worked. It is true that piece-work rates apply in the shearing industry, but those rates are fixed, not by the employers, but by the Arbitration Court, and the men are satisfied with them. In a strong virile community there are always bound to be little disputes, but so long as there is some means of settling them these differences of opinion do no harm to the body politic. I do not agree with Senator McLachlan that Australia has a bad name overseas. Quite recently I had the pleasure of meeting a number of woolbuyers from various countries - Japan, Germany, Prance, and Great Britain - and they all assured me that there was nothing in Australia to which they could take serious exception. They were all keen, observant business men, and they were most complimentary about the progress that Australia’s primary and secondary industries were making. In fact, one gentleman, who has two establishments in Yorkshire, giving employment to a large number of hands, who is starting a business in Australia, told me that after he had settled his affairs in the Old Country he would bring his wife and six children to settle in Australia, which he regarded as the best country in the world. Those who declare that Australia has a bad name overseas are not a good advertisement for this young country. Senator Barwell has told us that he replied for a couple of hours to questions put to him at a dinner in London. It is regrettable that when gentlemen holding responsible positions in Australia go overseas they are not accompanied by men ‘of different political views. The honorable senator has also told us that money is going in streams to other countries, and that people are not anxious to invest in Australia. If that be so, it is strange that Australia’s credit on the London money market is good, and that the British investors will lend us whatever money we require.
– They have lent us £6,000,000 this week.
– Yes, and they have agreed to lend us £34,000,000 to carry on our immigration scheme. Statements like those of Senator Barwell and Senator McLachlan are not calculated to do any good to Australia. We never hear an American decrying his own country. He always says that America is the finest place on the face of the earth. In Australia any man with grit can make good. Thousands of young Australians are making good, and there is room for others to come here and do so. They are welcome to come, so long as provision is made for them beforehand - because we do not want to create an army of unemployed. I believe in a system of scientific immigration. As I have said previously, I believe in bringing people here from England, Ireland, and Scotland. I would rather have men of our own kith and kin coming to Australia than Southern
Europeans or semi-coloured people. Australia is a country worthy of the attention of those of our own race, and they are worthy of the attractions that Australia offers to them. With others, I urge the Government to postpone the submission of these questions to the people. I think that Ministers are wasting a lot of energy and a good deal of money in holding the referendum at the present juncture. The industrial organizations of the country are solidly against the proposed amendments. Almost every Labour organization is fighting them tooth and nail. Last week we read a manifesto in which Mr. Turvey, the general president of the Waterside Workers Federation, vigorously denounced the proposals. In every port of Australia the members of his organization are fighting them. We have also read the declaration of the secretary of the Australian Workers Union against them. Various trades and labour councils have carried resolutions in opposition to them”. The Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales is standing by the Premier of the State against them. The great State of New South Wales, with its population of about 2,300,000, will be a big factor in deciding the issue. The Queensland Government has also declared against the proposals. The press of Australia is solidly in opposition to them. We have only a few weeks in which to convert all these people. One man said to me the other day, “ I bet you thirteen Stetson hats to one that the referendum will not be carried.” If there is any possibility of the proposals being defeated I think it would be better to postpone, the referendum for, say, six months, until an atmosphere more favorable to them can be created. If the Prime Minister thinks that, by a hurried campaign of five or six weeks, he will sweep the people off their feet, he is making a huge mistake.
– These proposals are not new.
– But it is many years since proposals for the amendment of the Constitution were last placed before the people, and there are thousands 6f voters now who were minors then, and took no interest in politics. What do they know about the previous proposals? Unfortunately, the average citizen of Australia takes but a cursory interest in politics.
– Then why refer the matter to the people?
– I believe in ascertaining the voice of the people; but, when I want anything carried, I try to use the best means of attaining my object.
– There is no choice in the matter. A proposal to amend the Constitution must be submitted to a referendum.
– I am aware of that; but, if the Government is honestly anxious to alter the Constitution, it should hold the referendum at a time when it has a chance of having its proposals carried.
– These will be carried.
– I think they -will be defeated in every State.
– There is plenty of time to educate the public.
– There is not. With the support of the press, five or six weeks might be sufficient; but without that support the only chance of educating the electors is by pamphlets, speeches, or advertisements in the newspapers - a very costly method. The Government would be wise to withdraw the proposals for the present. I believe they will be carried later on. I believe in giving the Commonwealth Parliament absolute power. The time is overripe for conferring greater power on this Parliament, and I am sorry to- note the -parochial Staterights spirit which still exists. Too many people are without the Australian outlook. They are little State-righters, who cannot see beyond their own State boundaries. The Commonwealth Parliament is the big national Parliament of Australia, and, as a member of that Parliament, I believe in looking at matters from an Australian view-point. I am as interested in doing something to promote the welfare of North Queensland as I am in assisting the development of the southeastern portion of South Australia. Itis the duty of a member of this Parliament to do all he can for the benefit of the whole of his country. I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision to hold the referendum at an early date. I think it should be postponed for a time.
– Is it not a tory statement that the time is not ripe. I have never known of a reform being submitted without some one saying, “ The time is not ripe.”
– I think the time is ripe for the amendment of the Constitution, but I maintain that there is not time enough, with the press against us, to instil into the public mind the need for an alteration. We must educate the people. Already we have great agencies on both sides of politics actively at work against the Government proposals, and saying the hardest things about them.
– Did not all the newspapers of Australia advocate conscription, and yet the people defeated both proposals ?
– The people understood what conscription meant, but the average citizen could not explain what is meant by the present proposals.
– Is he more likely to bother about it in six months’ time ‘! .
– I think so. We know that the Waterside Workers Federation has declared against the proposals. If during the next six months delegates in favour of the amendments could get into the union rooms and and convert the vote of that organization from a negative to an affirmative one, it would make a difference of thousands of votes. There are many men in the Labour movement who say that the Government proposals are not understood by the people. A postponement of the referendum would give them an opportunity to explain to the members of the various organizations what the proposals actually mean. I hope that honorable senators when quoting figures relating to industrial matters will not ignore the decreased purchasing power of the sovereign. What could be purchased for 21s. 5d. in 1911 cannot be bought for less than 34s. 9d. to-day; a loss of £1,000,000 worth of wages through strikes in 1911 was more serious than a loss of £1,250,000 in 1925, becaues the effective value of the sovereign has been reduced by the increase in the cost of living.
– To what extent is the tariff responsible for that?
– I believe in a high tariff, and I am convinced that the people are grateful for the assistance which the Labour party rendered to the Governmentt in enacting the tariff -with which this chamber dealt recently. If we proceed along constitutional lines, this country will make great progress, and will be able to give to its people high wages and a standard of living second to none.
.- Since the Commonwealth was established the Australian nation has expanded and advanced in many ways, and most people to-day recognize that the powers . that were sufficient for this Parliament in its infancy are inadequate to-day. When the Constitution was framed few people could foresee that so early in its history the Australian nation would assert its manhood and become a recognized power among civilized’ peoples. Inevitably the outlook of the framers of the Constitution was more or less affected by parochial considerations; if the same men were to-day framing an instrument for the government of the Australian nation, they would take a much broader view and endow the National Parliament with greater powers. Nevertheless, we must be grateful to them for having laid the foundation of the Commonwealth so well. The Federal Constitution will always be a monument to the draftsmanship and knowledge of the late Sir Samuel Griffiths. I remember in pre-federation days listening to the eloquent addresses of Mr. Alfred Deakin and Senator Trenwith in advocacy of Australian union. Many times I saw the Federal flag unfurled, and the people inspired to enthusiasm by the slogan of “ Ohe flag and one destiny.” In those days the general impression was that in due course the State Parliaments would be abolished, and the expense of government would be reduced. But the reverse of that has happened; the powers of the State Parliaments have tended to increase, whilst those of the National. Parliament, instead of expanding commensurately with the growth of the nation, have contracted under various judicial interpretations, until to-day it is seriously shackled by the limitations imposed by the Constitution. During the last election, when I was appealing for the support of the electors, I could not help feeling that I was associated with some small parochial body which was more or less powerless to deal with the urgent problems that confront Australia. Many times on the platform, I explained the constitutional limitations of the powers of this Parliament in regard to such vital matters as food supplies and transport, and I believe that many thousands of people learned a valuable lesson from the crisis which precipitated the election. Great changes have occurred, both inside and outside this Parliament ; . the present Government was returned to office with an overwhelming majority because of the experiences of the community during the paralysis of commerce and industry by the British seamen’s strike. They now recognize that if the. Commonwealth Parliament continues impotent in time of emergency, the de- velopment of Australia will be seriously hampered. This Parliament, does not desire increased power for its own ends; it looks to the future development of the country, and asks that it be given certain authority to exercise in the interests of the nation. There is a lot of popular, but foolish, opinion about the virtue of the referendum. In my youthful days, I believed in the referendum as an instrument of democratic government, but I do not now, and no sane politician in Australia or elsewhere who has had experience of the operation of that principle fails to recognize the folly of asking people to pass judgment upon issues about which they are not fully informed. It is easy to talk of democracy and of “government of the’ people by the people for the people.” Those are empty phrases. The peopleare absorbed in their own affairs and the problems of their every-day life, and they have not the time to devote tothe study of politics.
– Does the. honorable senator think that they have sufficient intelligence to elect their representatives ?
– Men are elected hecause of their association with a party in whose policy the people believe. Today no man who does not belong to one or other of the great political organizations in Australia has any chance of being elected to this Parliament. la the politics of Australia there are two great parties - Labour and Nationalist.
– What about the Country party?
– It is part of the Nationalist party; at any rate, the
Country and Nationalist parties subscribe to the same policy. The Nationalist and Labour parties place their policies before the country, and the people choose the programme that suits them and elect representatives to give effect to it. When the people have thus delegated their authority to Parliament, it should be able to make whatever laws are necessary without referring them back to the people. Of course, nobody who has enjoyed power for any time likes to surrender it. But past referendums showed that the people did not understand the questions upon which they were voting. Unfortunately, the Labour party made a fad of the referendum, but I believe that if the people were consulted to-day they would say, “Do the job for which you were elected and leave us alone.” The Mother of Parliaments has never operated the referendum, and it is untrammelled by a written Constitution. It has full authority to do what is necessary in the interests of the nation; the people trust it, and no party dare abuse that trust, for fear of the consequences. There is no judiciary to declare what are and what are not the powers of the British Parliament; the English judiciary is limited to its proper function of interpreting and enforcing the laws which Parliament makes. The referendum has been in operation in Switzerland for many years, but the leading statesmen of that country declare that it has been an impediment to development. I trust that when the proposed constitutional session is held, an endeavour will be made to remove the limitations upon the power of this Parliament.I believe in an unfettered legislature. We live in a democratic age, and the only way that a democracy can learn is by the mistakes its representatives in Parliament make. Every three years the people have the power of remedying the mistakes or punishing those who were culpable. I am convinced that if, as a result of the constitutional session, the referendum procedure is abandoned and this Parliament is freed of the shackles imposed by the High Court’s powers to interpret the Constitution, Australia will advance very much more rapidly than it is doing at the present time. If the Commonwealth Parliament had enjoyed un limited powers in the past, many strikes and much litigation and turmoil would have been avoided. A free parliament, elected on the widest franchise possible, should be trusted to do the will of the people. There should be nothing to fear in an educated democracy like that of Australia. I disagree entirely with the statement made by Senator Barwell last week, concerning industrial unrest in Australia. We all admit that mistakes are made on both sides. Necessarily, in its demand for improved standards of living and working conditions, organized labour comes into conflict with employers; but I refuse to believe that Australia is the country pictured by Senator Barwell. Senator DrakeBrockman, in his . speech on Friday, quoted figures to show that the productivity of industry kept pace with the increase in wages in Australia. The honorable senator’s thoughtful and timely contribution to this debate was a thorough vindication of the Australian workman. I appeal to him to put his shoulder a little more under the wheel, and to further increase production. Australia will then be even more desirable as a place to live in.
– And if he does that, he will get more by way of wages.
– Exactly. An increase in production will mean an increase in wages, and a general all-round improvement. We have heard a good deal, during this debate, about strikes in Australia, and the alleged failure of our system of industrial arbitration. Much of our trouble is due to the action of two unions. I have no desire to import bitterness into this debate, by saying anything particularly hard about the Seamen’s Union, but during the war that organization made repeated demands upon the ship-owners, who, knowing thatthey could pass on the demands by increasing freights and fares, always capitulated’. Finally, when the position became almost intolerable, the Government made an attempt to deport Walsh and Johannsen, the two officials responsible for the policy of the Seamen’s Union. The extraordinary prices received by wool-growers for their products after the war also led to repeated demands for higher rates on behalf of shearers. Senator McHugh this afternoon told us that the pastoralists in South Australia agreed to pay the rates fixed by the McCawley award in Queensland. They were practically forced to do that. If the ship-owners and pastoralists had withstood the demands made on them, there would not have been so much unrest in other industries, and, consequently, our system of arbitration would probably have functioned more satisfactorily. No one can deny that it- has failed to do all that was expected of it ; but the principal trouble has been with the transport unions, which have been spoon-fed to such an extent that the burden of increased rates Has become too heavy for the people to bear. On the whole, arbitration has been of immense benefit to the Commonwealth, though mistakes have been made by both employers and employees. Prior to the introduction of this system, there was no uniformity about the hours of labour, and there was bewildering discrepancy in the wages paid in kindred industries in the various States. With arbitration, we saw an attempt made to even up hours of labour, wages, and working conditions throughout the Commonwealth. Let me quote an extract from the views expressed- by Mr. Justice Powers on this subject -
The disputes settled at first were few (two in the first year), but Mr. Justice O’Connor laid down the principle that the wages to be paid must be “fair” wages; but, although he referred to a “ living wage “ in 1906, he did not state what would constitute, in his opinion, a “living wage.” It was in October, 1!)07, in an application under the Excise and Tariff Act, that Mr. Justice Higgins fixed 7s. a day as the rate to be paid for an unskilled labourer to enable him to support himself and his “wife and three children. In the judgment then given - known as tho Harvester judgment - he said : “I cannot think of any other standard appropriate as a fair wage than the normal needs of the average employee regarded as a human being living in a civilized community. The wages for an unskilled labourer should be sufficient to provide rent, food, and clothing, and a condition of frugal comfort estimated by current human standards.” Other words have been used from time to time to describe the living wage, but the principle laid down in 1007 has never been departed from by the former President or by any member of this Court.
Everything was new then. We were launching an entirely new system, with no land-marks to guide us. Mr. Justice Powers stated further -
It was not till September, 1913, that any application waa made to this Court by any employer or body of employers. In these later days employers, generally speaking, have abandoned the old opposition to the Court and applications for prohibition orders, and it is quite common now to deal with applications by employers as well as applications by unions. There are at present fourteen organizations of employers registered under the Act, with a membership of 7,721 persons, firms, and corporations. In 1906 only two applications were filed in the Court; in 19 1U, eight applications; in 1914 and 1915, 114 applications; in 1920 and 1921, 261 applications; and in 1924 and 1925, 460 applications.
Every fair-minded employer believes in the arbitration system, because it places him in a better position to meet his rivals in business. Prior to its introduction, unscrupulous employers, by sweating employees, were able to undercut the decent employers. The figures I have just quoted show that last year there were 460 applications before the Arbitration Court. How many strikes occurred during the same period? Apart from industrial disturbances entirely associated with the transport unions, there was scarcely one strike worth mentioning, so it is idle to say that the Arbitration Court is not performing a useful service. As the awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court were in general favour, many unions federated to enable their members who were engaged in similar industries in different States to approach that tribunal. This was, to a large extent, responsible for the work of the court becoming somewhat congested. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court has done more to strengthen trade unionism in Australia than union organizers or agitators have ever done, and that court is likely to remain an important factor in our industrial system, notwithstanding the suggestions of those die-hards who say that it should be dispensed with. As there has been a good deal of adverse comment concerning the court and its work, I quote further the opinion of Mr. Justice Powers. He said -
I notice that the press - not knowing what the powers of the court really are - are again saying the court has failed. One would think that the losses and inconvenience to everybody caused by two unions adopting direct action lately, instead of arbitration, ought to prove what a great success it has been to prevent loss and inconvenience by those unions and a hundred other unions for the past few years. It is a proof that arbitration is a success, and direct action the failure it always proves to be to the public particularly.
Arbitrators do not, as a rule, enforce awards - other courts have to do so - and they are authorized in Australia to enforce them. All this court is empowered to do is to make laws us a legislative body, in settlement of disputes, instead of Parliament doing so, and it is as absurd to say that Parliament is a failure and should be abolished because there are men who break every law it makes as to say the court should be abolished because the laws it makes are not observed by one or two unions for a time, and no effort is made to enforce them in the proper courts. The court is a legislative body, and must rely, as Parliament does, on the courts appointed by Parliament to enforce the laws it makes. The laws are as enforceable as if made by Parliament. If the court is given, in addition, judicial powers, it could only enforce them on applications by the parties, injured by any unlawful act, and the respondents refuse to apply to the courts appointed to enforce the laws made by this court. The court has not failed to carry out the duties imposed upon it by Parliament, and it will. not do so; but it must rely on the parties, and the Government, applying to the courts to enforce the laws it makes if they are not observed.
That is a complete answer to a good deal of the abuse hurled at the court. He continues -
The court does not deal with any application until it is satisfied the parties have used every method of settling the dispute themselves by meetings, by round table conferences and other recognized methods of conciliation - nor until the court has called a conference to try and settle the dispute. . . .
I have been asked why the court does not prevent strikes, as i1 was established principally for that purpose. The answer to that is that it does, by conciliation and by just awards, prevent all strikes where it has jurisdiction to make awards, except strikes and job control by one union out of the 146 registered unions, and that union has been de-registered and deprived of the benefits of any award. This Federal court can only deal with what are called interstate industrial disputes - that is industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of one State nf the Commonwealth. In the last twelve years there have not been six interstate disputes with which this court had jurisdiction to deal which have resulted in a strike (apart from those by the members of the de-registered Seamen’s Union) and the disputes referred to have been settled by awards of this court.
The following is an answer to the statement of Senator Barwell, and shows how Australia is misrepresented in other countries -
Members of .the British Empire Press Conference, when here, stated that they were told in England that in Australia they were sure to see rabbits and striked everywhere; but that they had only seen one rabbit and the only strike while they were here was one by their own British seamen.
Mr. Justice Powers goes on to show what the court has accomplished on behalf of the employers and employees, and says -
I have been asked, why are the workers not compelled to keep their awards? The answer to that is that they do keep them, generally speaking, without compulsion, with the exception of one union referred to now deregistered, for not keeping its undertakings to the court and not obeying the orders of the court.
There are about 328.500 workers working directly under the court’s awards and although the ordinary courts of justice have, and always had, the power to punish for breaches of the act or awards, and to enforce, observance of awards, it appears that there has not been any necessity to use such powers. I do not know of any prosecution of members of any union for any breaches of awards made by the court during the last five years. This court exercised judicial power for some years, but was rarely called upon to exercise it to punish unionists, or to enforce awards.
It is true that there have been coal strikes in the industry; but industrial disputes in the coal industry have to be dealt with by a special, tribunal, not by this court. lt is true that a few extremists members of a union in some town in one State do occasionally wrongly adopt direct action for short periods to enforce special local conditions, but those minor disputes are only “ State disputes,” and cannot be dealt with by this court at present. 1 hey can be dealt with by State tribunals. I am optimistic as a rule, but 1° am not optimistic enough to expect peace, perfect peace, in industrial matters until the millennium arrives.
Complaints have also been made as to the delays in the courts before awards are made or applications are dealt with. One answer to that is that the court has dealt with 250 applications in less than eleven months of this year. The other is that I personally have made 21 awards in important disputes before the court during the hist three months, and have dealt finally with many other applications. . . .
On 1st February, 1925, the court had on its list 70 matters requiring attention. Between 1st February, 1925, and 18th December, 1925, 218 other matters have been lodged. The court has dealt with 250 matters during the year, leaving only 38 matters on the. list, all except two of recent date.
Of the matters settled, 52 were brought before the court either by plaint or order of reference.
The rest were applications to vary, appeals under section 17 of the act, applications for interpretation, appeals from decisions of boards of reference, applications for cancellation of registrations, and applications under section 56 of the act.
There have been 41 compulsory conferences held during the year.
There have been 42 agreements settling disputes filed in the court, under section 24, during the year.
The court has, on occasions, settled industrial disputes, not interstate, by special request. boards of reference appointed under awards of the court have dealt with 277 matters during the year.
That, 1 contend, is a splendid record for a court which has to settle industrial problems of great consequence to Australia. Mr. Stewart, the Registrar of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, who ‘ has accomplished a good deal in the settlement of industrial disputes before they have been referred into court, has the confidence of the industrial organizations and also of the employers. Instead of having been a drag upon industry, the court has done a great - deal to assist it. If the proposed alteration of the Constitution is approved by the people, overlapping should be avoided in future. Organized labour a few years ago enthusiastically supported proposals almost identical with these, but now it is found in opposition to them for the reason that the unions realize that greater advantages can be derived from State tribunals. Queensland, on the last occasion, gave a majority vote in the affirmative, but in that State there is now a tribunal composed of partisans, who are willing to concede to the workers more than they can hope to obtain from the Commonwealth court. The unions will not be induced to vote for these alterations until they have been made to realize that their best interests are conserved by the central court. Australia occupies a much better position in regard to industrial matters than that in which some other countries are placed, and the Arbitration Court must be given the principal credit for the harmonious relations which exist. A few unions that for too long a time were spoon-fed, have been causing practically the whole of tho trouble in recent years. England is regarded as the home of law and order, yet a general strike there was. precipitated because of the action of the coalminers. The general strike has collapsed, but the coal-miners will probably remain out until starvation brings them te their knees. We have not yet passed the barbarous stage of starving people into submission, despite our boast that we are an educated democracy. A little over twelve months ago the Imperial Parliament voted £20,000.000 to avert a general strike, but even that vast- expenditure could not preserve industrial peace for more than a few months. Coalmining is a key industry, and if the workers remain out sufficiently long they can strangle any other industry that is dependent upon coal. Twenty years ago, in England, instead of being subsidized, the workers would have been shot down and their leaders put into jail for striking, but to-day those leaders are invited to a conference at Downing-street. England is the home of liberty, and its people are long-suffering and patient. In spite of its weaknesses and faults, arbitration in Australia has been a blessing, not alone to the employers and employees, but also to the whole of the people. One of the most important features of the bill is the provision under which the AttorneyGeneral will have the power to intervene on behalf of any organization, whether directly concerned in an industrial dispute or not. In every upheaval hitherto the employers and employees have considered only their own interests, and the public, which has been the chief sufferer, has had no say.
– It will be difficult to give effect to that provision.
– Where does tho public come in under this bill ?
– When the electors give the Government the power to amend the Constitution, a judicial body will be appointed to deal with all industrial matters. The Attorney- General will be able to conserve the interests of the general public by intervening in any dispute that may arise. During the war the demands of the seamen were never resisted by the ship-owners. I remember when the men were receiving only £7 a month, yet they considered that they were well paid. Today they are being paid from £16 to £1S a month, but they are more dissatisfied than they were formerly. Business people particularly have suffered because of the higher freights and fares that have been charged. Previously tho shipping companies could pass on to tho general public any increase that was granted to the men, but they have now reached the stage when that is no longer possible. There ought to have been some means of stopping that practice before the position ‘ became acute. Although I believe generally in Parliament having supreme power, in this instance I consider that it is wise to delegate power to a judicial body, because Parliament cannot pass a law making universal a certain wage or a standard number of working hours. Each industry must have its conditions investigated, to ascertain its particular requirements, and that so far the Arbitration Court has endeavoured to do. I am strongly in favour of the proposed alterations to the Constitution, and I shall do my best to convince the people that they are necessary for the future development of Australia.
.- So far as the debate has proceeded, every honorable senator has approached this subject with a desire to find a solution of the existing industrial problem. The framers of the Constitution must have had in mind only national industries such as coal-mining and possibly shipping when they decided upon the powers that should be granted to the Commonwealth Parliament. I cannot imagine that anybody contemplated the exploring of every avenue of trade and commerce by die Commonwealth authority. The functions of the Federal and State tribunals ought to have been clearly defined years ago. That opportunity has now disappeared, and we must deal with the position as we find it, admitting that the existing state of affairs is intolerable to every one who is engaged in industry. Industrial organizations federated so that they might approach the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the obvious reason being that the awards of that court heretofore set a higher standard than that which was set by many State tribunals. I have to consider the position as it is. I find State tribunals set up in every State, and in some States more than one system in vogue for dealing with industrial problems; and I also find the Commonwealth Arbitration Court operating. It is necessary for us to co-ordinate these authorities. We need not, at the moment, discuss the exact nature of our coordinating authority, for the intention of this bill is simply to equip Parliament with the power to set up an authority.
– Does the honorable senator mean that later we shall have the opportunity to discuss the form of authority that will be set up?
– That is so. Our acceptance of this bill will mean only that we shall ask the people, by referendum, for additional . power. If the people give it to us, definite legislation to enable us to exercise it will be introduced by the Government.
– The legislation will be introduced only if the people agree to these proposals?
– Yes. We shall then be able to consider the form of authority that we should establish. We have had a number of speeches on the merits and demerits of compulsory arbitration. Senator Barwell totally condemned the system ; while Senator DrakeBrockman, in my opinion, went so far to the other extreme, that if we accepted his view we should not need the power sought in this bill. He undoubtedly left the impression on the minds of honorable senators that the Government is already clothed with sufficient power to deal with our industrial troubles.
– But only from the industrial stand-point.
– I do not agree with Senator Drake-Brockman’s views. Industrial conditions in Australia are undoubtedly incomparably better than those that prevail in other parts of the world. We have an ideal climate, and working conditions are governed by factories acts in all the States. In the circumstances, it would be surprising if more industrial dislocation occurs here than in other parts of the world. On that point I should like to say, in passing, that although Senator Reid complained in his speech about the sentiments expressed by Senator Barwell he himself has, at times in this chamber, condemned in the strongest terms the conduct of certain industrialists here. But whatever mav be said about the relations between employers and employees, it will be generally agreed that the present position could be substantially improved. We have frequent interruptions of trade and commerce. I do not for a moment tuggest that compulsory arbitration has been an absolute failure, nor do I agree that it is still an experiment, for it ha; long passed that stage. I sn,’1:10 not like to suggest, either, that the whole system should be scrapped, for no matter what may be said of the success of the m el hods adopted in other parts of t he world for the settlement of industrial disputes, our people have accepted compulsory arbitration. In these circumstances, it seems to me that we should do our best to improve and make more effective the system that we have. It has been argued that these proposals have been introduced, and are being pushed forward, with too much haste. I disagree with that. This is not a new subject-. It has been prominently before the people for years. The Prime Minister, in addresses that he delivered in Tasmania during the election campaign - and I have no doubt he expressed the same views in the other States - made it quite clear that if the Government were returned it would take action to give the unionists proper control of their organizations, and to provide for the more effective control of industrial affairs generally. He also said that if it were not possible for the Government to give effect to its desires in that direction on account ofconstitutional limitations, he would not hesitate to ask the people for additionalpowers. It is highly necessary that additional powers should be given to the Government to deal with industrial matters, not only to settle disputes, but also to prevent their occurring, and to bring about more confidence between employer and employee. I support the bill because I believe that it may lead to the achievement of those desirable ends and also to the co-ordination of the various industrial tribunals that are now operating.
– During the debate an extraordinary speech was delivered by Senator Barwell. I take no exception to an honorable senator holding whatever views he may think fit, but Senator Barwell made some statements of such a serious character that they should he examined to ascertain whether they are in accord with the facts or not. If we accept the honorable senator’s statement we must admit that he built up a logical case in opposition to industrial legislation. But a very little examination will show that his statement is absolutely incorrect. In justice to Australia that fact should be placed on record. Senator DrakeBrockman and others have effectively answered Senator Barwell’s statement that arbitration had caused strikes, that there were more strikes in Australia than in other countries. But Senator Barwell made another extraordinary statement. He Said that arbitration legislation was not the cause of the abolition of sweating in
Australia; and he endeavoured to prove his case by stating that sweating had ceased to exist in other countries where the economic conditions were similar to those in Australia. The honorable senator’s statements - that arbitration has caused strikes ; that there are more strikes in Australia under arbitration than in other countries which have no arbitration legislation ; that arbitration has not abolished sweating; that wages in other countries where there is no industrial legislation have been raised to high levels and working conditions bettered - constitute a challenge which must be accepted by those who disagree with him. Let us deal, first, with Senator Barwell’s contention that arbitration did not abolish sweating in Australia. Honorable senators know that at one time sweating did exist in Australia, particularly in the clothing industry. The clothing industry is one which in many countries has been associated with sw eating.
– That is easily understood, because the work can be done in the homes of the people.
– No one denies that, about 25 years ago, there was sweating in the clothing industry in Australia. From 1896 onwards attempts were made to deal with this evil; in Victoria by the introduction of the wages board system, and in the other States by arbitration and factories legislation. That sweating does not now exist in any industry in Australia, the people believe to be due to those laws. Sweating has been effectively wiped out in Australia; let us see whether it has disappeared in other countries. As the greatest industrial country in the world to-day is the United. States of America, I have taken the trouble to look up the records of that country in relation to sweating.I have here an extract from an article entitled, “American Children in Bondage,” by Benjamin P. Chass, a writer on political, social, and economic questions, in the Current History Magazine. To show that his figures are not fanciful, he quotes from the United States of America Census Report of 1920 - the latest available. Mr. Chass said that in 1920 there were 1,060,858 children of from ten to fifteen years gainfully employed in the United States of America, that figure representing 8.5 per cent, of the total number of children between those ages.. In 1910 the number was 1,990,225. The decrease was due to a large number of the States, as well as the Congress of the United States of America, having legislated against child labour, although some of the legislation passed was afterwards declared by the High Court of the United States of America to be unconstitutional. The report of Mr. Chass went on to say that it was obvious that the figures compiled by the Census Bureau of 1920 were incomplete, and insufficient for a study of child labour in general. In June, 1924, the National Child Labour Committee almost doubled the number given by the Census Bureau. During the time that it operated, the Federal law had the effect of driving a number of children out of employment. Further on in his report Mr. Chass gave instances of the occupations which the children followed, and the wages paid to them. His report reads: -
Children were found working on these truck farms for the lowest wages imaginable; five, ten, fifteen and twenty cents, an hour were the common wages paid, the older children receiving the higher amounts and those of the younger classes - manywho were below eight years of age, and some below five - usually earned five and ten cents an hour. In speaking of these wages, the bureau stated that the earnings, especially of the younger children, seem a meagre return for the hours of labour, the physical strain of constant stooping, the exposure to heat and dampness, and, for many, the loss of time in school that the work entailed. . . . Children as young as six years of age were found at work in thebeet fields of Colorado and Michigan. Some 150 cases of mal-nutrition were found among l,022 children studied. The health of these children was found to be very much impaired. Constant stooping resulted in 676 cases of “winged scapulae”.
Later on in the report, we find the following passage: -
Wherever else the Children’s Bureau conducted these surveys of child labour the same conditions were found. Throughout the cotton regions children between the ages of six and sixteen were found at work for long hours for rewards of a few cents an hour, and the evidence was at hand that their health, education, and welfare had been grossly neglected.
A national child labour committee reported : “ We saw wrists that were swollen and lame; hands that were sore, cracked, and full of dirt; and knees that were sore, cracked, and calloused. The glare of the sun is a very severe strain upon the eyes of many children.” In the cotton-fields of California, children as young as four pick from sunrise to sunset.
According to the last census there were 5,850 children employed in and about the coal mines.
– Were they white children ?
– Yes. Dealing with the children employed in the coal mines, the report stated: -
It is underground, however, that the worst suffering is endured by these children. Here, the older boys, from twelve to sixteen years of age, toil in a kind of Dantesque inferno, isolated in a terrible dark world. Here, they often are forced to work in mud and water, sometimes stripped to the waistline because, of the intense heat, and sometimes groping through suffocating gas and smoke. A more intolerable condition could not exist anywhere for the youth of America. Yet here, mother’s little tots are forced to slave away their childhood days - the time of play and gladness.
The Terre Haute Advocate, of the 25th January, 1924, contained the following statement : -
Margaret A. McGroarty, a visiting teacher, told of frightful conditions in the Italian section of Upper New York. She said that manufacturing work is done in nearly every home she visited. Children as young as three work on artificial flowers. With their fingers they apply paste to the flower that the mother or older sister may apply the petals. “ The wages are deplorable, she testified. “ Conditions in East Harlem are simply appalling. . . The children come home from school; do not even wash their hands, but go right to work and eat when they can.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– At the dinner adjournment I was replying to some of the contentions of Senator Barwell, who. said, among other things, that it was not the arbitration laws of Australia that had abolished sweating, because, as a matter of fact, it had been abolished in other countries where compulsory arbitration did not operate. He instanced the United States of America, Canada, and other countries, where, he said, sweating was now a thing of the past. I quoted a number of statements in the Current History Magazine of March, 1925, which show that that is not the case. I propose to quote only one more from the same article -
The MonthlyLabour Review, in its issue for August, 1924, reported that “ women and children workers are usually paid starvation wages. . . . Child labour was found to be prevalent in nearly a quarter of the 15,000 houses licensed to engage in homework in New York State, according to the 1924 report of the New York State Commission to examine laws relating to child welfare. The report states that “ children of tender years- many of them under ten years of age - are commonly permitted or required to engage in this work.”
The most horrible form of sweating is that which exploits child labour, and I have shown that it exists to a large extent in the United States of America today. On two occasions Congress has passed laws, which have been declared by the High Court of the United States of America to be unconstitutional, in an endeavour to deal with the evil. I now refer honorable senators to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. xxv., 1905. In an article dealing with “ Child Labour in the United States, and its great attendant evils,” the writer states -
At the beginning of 1903 it is estimated that there were in the factories of the South - chiefly cotton factories - about 20,000 children under the age of twelve.
A year later, in volume xxvii., 1906, the same publication contains another article on child labour, in which occurs the following passage: -
The president of the American Cotton Manufacturing Association, Mr.R. M. Miller, of Charlotte, North Carolina, in an interview deprecating the raising of the age limit in North Carolina from twelve to fourteen, for girls and for illiterate boys, claimed that 75 per cent, of the spinners of North Carolina were fourteen or under. The average for children under sixteen, employed in Southern mills, as given by the census of 1900, was 25 per cent. On that basis there must be 60,000 children, from six to sixteen, now working in themills of the Southern States, and my own opinion is that there are 60,000 under fourteen years of ago. And just now the mills are running night and day, and even the rule of 66 hours a week makes the working day of these little ones for five days of the week twelve hours.
– That does not touch the point that I made about employers and employees meeting in conference and settling disputes, irrespective of compulsory arbitration.
– It is an answer to the honorable senator’s statement that sweating has been abolished in the United States of America and other countries where compulsory arbitration does not exist. If this is not sweating, I do not know what is - and this in the United
States of America, the leading country so far as efficiency in manufactures is concerned, and where labour receives the highest wage because of its efficiency.
– I said that the people of the United States of America do not accept arbitration.
– In the North American Review for December, 1924, appeared two articles on the proposed amending legislation respecting child labour. One of these artilces states -
First, as to the numbers of working children : - The decennial census is our only source of information for the United States as a whole. For the purposes of this discussion it does not give an adequate picture, for several reasons: (1) Working children under ten years of age were not enumerated. Their numbers, it is to be hoped, are not large; but the serious effects of their employment make even small numbers important.
Nevertheless, the census showed more than a million (1,060,858) children between ten and sixteen years of age gainfully employed, and nearly half a million (413,549) employed in. non-agricultural industries.
In 1920, it should be remembered, the Federal law was discouraging, by a prohibitive tax, the employment of children under fourteen in mills and factories, and the Federal eight-hour day made it more difficult and less profitable than formerly to employ them in mills which operated on a ten or eleven-hour schedule. The census figures for 1920 show that the textile mills were then employing 54,649 child operatives; iron and steel mills, 12,904; clothing factories and sweatshops, 11,757; lumber mills and furniture factories, 10,585; shoe factories, 7,545; coal mines, 5,850. Child servants and waiters were reported to the number of 41,586. Messengers, bundle wrappers, and office boys and girls numbered 48,028; sales boys and sales girls in stores, 30,370; other child clerks, 22,521. Newsboys numbered 20,706, and there were 147.048 children between ten and sixteen in other miscellaneous occupations.
Regarding the inability of the United States of America to solve this problem, the writer of the article points out -
In Mississippi more than one-fourth of all the children ten to fifteen years of age were at work; in Alabama and South Carolina, 24 per cent.; in Georgia, 21 per cent.; and in Arkansas, 19 per cent. Of the New England States, Rhode Island had the largest proportion of children from ten to fifteen years of age, 13 per cent., “employed in gainful occupations.”
Referring to the. absence of labour laws, the writer continues : -
Nine States hove no law prohibiting all chil dren under 14 years from working in both factories and stores. Twenty-three States, with a fourteen-year minimum age limit, have weakened their laws by permitting exemptions under which children not yet fourteen may work. Thirty-five States allow children to go to work without a common-school education. Nineteen States do not make physical fitness for work a condition of employment. Eleven States allow children under sixteen to work from nine to eleven hours a day ; one State does not regulate in any way daily hours of labour of children.
– Does that happen in a protectionist contry?
– That does not meet my point at all. No compulsory legislation will prevent that.
– The honorable senator endeavoured to strengthen his argument against compulsory arbitration by claiming that sweating had been abolished in other countries by reason of their economic conditions. He said that in any event sweating would have been prevented in Australia on account of the strength of the industrial unions; but it is well known that when compulsory arbitration was introduced here the unions were numerically weak. In nearly every industry unionists were in the minority, and were powerless to enforce their will. It is our arbitration law that has enabled the unions to become the powerful bodies they are to-day. The honorable senator also said that arbitration had prevented capital from coming into this country. That is a serious statement, and honorable senators have every right to inquire into the truth of it. One would have thought that before making a statement so damaging to Australia - because it is damaging - the honorable senator would have been sure of his ground. If it is a fact then, in allowing our Federal arbitration legislation to remain on our statute-books, we are risking the progress and development of Australia. If the honorable senator had applied to the Trade and Customs Department he would have ascertained whether his statement was one of fact.
– I know that it is a fact.
– We shall see. I have before me a list of industries that have been established in Australia in the last few years by British companies, in nearly every instance.
– That does not disprove my statement.
– In nearly every instance British capital has been invested in these industries, and, although the list is somewhat lengthy, I think that it might well be read, since the honorable senator’s statement, to which it is an effective reply, has been placed on record. The list is as follows : -
Firms in the United Kingdom Which Have Established Interests in Works and Factories in Australia.
Allen Liversidge Limited, London - Allen Liversidge Limited, Sydney, compressed acetylene.
Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited, London - Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited, Melbourne, oil boring and refining.
Babcock and Wilcox Limited, Glasgow; - Babcock and Wilcox Limited, Sydney, boilers, &c.
Blyth and Platt Limited, Liverpool - Blyth and Platt (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, boot paste.
Boston Blacking Company Limited, Leicester - Boston Blacking Company of Australasia Limited, Melbourne, boot paste, &c.
British Imperial Oil Company, London - British Imperial Oil Company, Melbourne, oil storage.
Bovril Limited, London - Bovril Australian Estates Limited, Melbourne, meat extract.
British Insulated and Helsby Cables Limited, London - Metal Manufactures Limited, Port Kembla, copper wire, lubes, &c.
Bryant and May Limited, Liverpool - Bryant and May, Bell Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, matches.
Cellular Clothing Company Limited, London - Cellular Clothing Company Limited, Melbourne, cotton underwear.
Chubb and Sons Lock and Safe Company Limited, Manchester - Chubbs (Australia) Company Limited, Melbourne, safes, strongrooms, &c.
William Cooper and Nephews, Glasgow - William Cooper and Nephews, Sydney, sheep dip.
Colonial Ammunition Company, Melbourne, cartridges, brass sheets.
Cadbury Brothers Limited, Bourneville - Cadbury’s Australasian Company Limited, Tasmania, cocoa, chocolates.
John Dickinson and Company Limited, London - John Dickinson and Company Limited. Melbourne, envelopes, &c.
Dunlop Rubber Company Limited, Birmingham - Dunlop Rubber Company of Australasia Limited, Melbourne, rubber tyres, &c.
Dorman Long and Company Limited, Middlesborough - Dorman Long and Company Limited, Melbourne, fabricated steel.
English Electric Company Limited, Bradford - English Electric Company Limited, Sydney, electric plant and machinery.
Goodlass Wall and Company Limited, Liverpool - Goodlass Wall and Company (Australia) Limited, Melbourne, paints.
Henry Lane, Wolverhampton - Henry Lane (Australasia) Limited, Newcastle, rabbittraps.
Kelsall and Kemp Limited, Rochdale - Kelsall and Kemp Limited, Launceston, wool mills.
Kynoch Limited, Birmingham - Kynoch Limited, Melbourne, explosives.
Load Sulphate Limited, Dudley - Lead Sulphate Limited, Launceston, white lead.
Lamson Paragon Supply Company Limited, Manchester - Lamson Paragon Limited, Melbourne, account books, stationery.
Lever Brothers Limited, Liverpool - Lever Brothers Limited, Sydney, soap,&c.
Lewis Berger and Sons Limited, Liverpool - Lewis Berger and Sons Limited, Sydney, white lead and paint.
John Lysaght Limited, Bristol - Lysaght’s Australian Works Limited, Newcastle, galvanized iron sheets.
John Lysaght Limited, Bristol- Lysaght Brothers and Company Limited, Sydney, wire netting.
Lloyd Attree and Smith Limited, Glasgow - Lloyd Attree and Smith (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, men’s wear.
Metropolitan Vickers Electric Company Limited, Manchester - Electrical Equipment Manufacturers Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, switchgear.
Newbold Silica Fire Brick Company Limited, Newcastle, silica bricks.
Nugget Polish Company Limited, London - Nugget Polish Company of Australasia Limited, Williamstown, boot polish.
and A. Parkinson Limited, Leeds - F. and A. Parkinson Limited, Sydney, electric motors.
Paton and Baldwin, Tasmania, woollens.
Reckitt and Sons Limited, Hull - Reckitt’s (Overseas) Limited, Melbourne, blue, &c.
Roneo Limited, Liverpool - Roneo Company of Australasia Limited, Melbourne, filing system.
Rylands Brothers Limited, Warrington - Rylands Brothers (Australasia), Newcastle, steel wire.
Rylands Brothers Limited, Warrington - Austral Nail Company Proprietary Limited, Newcastle, wire nails.
Thos. Robinson and Son Limited, Rockdale - Thos. Robinson and Son Limited. Sydney, milling machinery.
Schweppes Limited, London - Schweppes Limited, Melbourne, aerated waters.
Shanks and Company Limited, Glasgow - Shanks and Company Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, sanitary ware.
Henry Simon Limited, Manchester- Henry Simon (Australasia) Limited), Sydney, milling machinery.
Vestey Brothers Limited, London - Vestey Brothers Limited, Port Darwin, meat.
Welch, Margetson and Company Limited - Welch, Margetson and Company Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, men’s wear.
Whitehead, E., Bradford; Gates, E., Bradford -Yarra Falls Spinning Company Limited, Melbourne, woollens.
Alexander Fergusson and Company Limited, Glasgow; Brandram Brothers and Company Limited, London; Cookson and Company Limited, Newcastle-on-Tyne; Cox Brothers and Company (Derby) Limited, Derby; Foster Blackett and Wilson Limited, London: John Hare and Company, Bristol - British-Australasian Lead Manufacturers Proprietary Limited, Sydney, white lead.
Locke, Blackett & Company Limited, NewcastleonTyne - Australasian United Paint Company Limited, Port Adelaide, paints, colours, &c.
Locke, Lancaster, & W. W. & R. Johnson & Sons, Limited, London - Australasian United Paint Company Limited, Port Adelaide, paints, colours, &c.
Mersey Whitelead Company Limited, Warrington - Australasian United Paint Company Limited, Port Adelaide, paints, colours, &c.
Walker Parker & Company Limited - Australasian United Paint Company Limited, Port Adelaide, paints, colours, &c.
Areameter Company Limited, London - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Avonmore Engineering Company Limited, Haselmere - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Alex. Wood and Sons, Glasgow - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
& T. Avery Limited, Birmingham - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Bartlett and Sons Limited, Bristol - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Garland and Company, Birmingham - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machines and appliances.
Hodson and Stead Limited, Manchester - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Kosmoide Limited, London - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Parnell and Sons Limited, Bristol - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Pooley & Sons Limited, Birmingham - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Zachariah Parkes & Son Limited, Birmingham - Australasian Scale Company Limited, Sydney, weighing machinery and appliances.
Australian Coking & By-products Company Limited, London - Australasian Coking & By-products Limited, Newcastle, coke, tar, sulphate of ammonia.
V. Roe and Company Limited, London - Australasian Aircraft & Engineering Company Limited, Sydney, aircraft.
Moritz Bergl & Company Limited, London - Bergl (Australasia) Limited, Bowen, Queensland, meat, tallow, &c.
Barimar Limited, Glasgow - Barimar Scientific Welders (Australasia) Limited, Brisbane, electric welding.
Thos. Borthwick & Sons Limited, London - Thos. Borthwick & Sons (Australasia) Limited, Brisbane, Melbourne, Portland, meat, tallow, &c.
Brown and Poison, Paisley - Brown and Poison Limited, Sydney, cornflour.
British United Shoe Machinery Company Limited, Leicester - British United Shoe Machinery Company of Australasia Proprietary, Melbourne, boot machinery.
Thos. Brown & Sons, Limited - Thos. Brown & Sons, Limited, Brisbane, clothing.
Central Queensland Meat Export Company Limited, London - Central Queensland Meat Export Company Limited, Rockhampton, meat, tallow,.&c.
Alex. Cowan and Sons- Limited, Edinburgh - Alex. Cowan and Sons Limited, Melbourne, stationery.
Docker Bros. Limited, Birmingham - Wm. Docker and Robt. Ingham Clark & Company (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, paints, varnish, and enamel.
Robt. Ingham Clark & Company Limited, London - Wm. Docker and Robt. Ingham Clark & Company (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, paints, varnish, and enamel.
Ferguson, Palin Limited, Openshaw - Ferguson, Palin Limited, Sydney, electric switchgear.
Foster Clark Limited, Maidstone - Foster Clark (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, custard powder, jelly crystals, &c.
Fletcher, W. & B., Limited, London- W. & R. Fletcher Limited, Geelong, meat, tallow, &c.
Had fields Limited, Sheffield - Hadfields (Australia) Limited, Sydney and Perth, acquired Australian Electric Steel Limited.
Holbrooks Limited, Birmingham - Holbrooks Limited, Sydney, vinegar, olives, capers, jelly crystals, custard powders.
Howard & Sons, London - Hudson’s Eumenthol Chemical Company (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, medicinal pastilles, insect powders, &c
British Drug Houses Limited, London - Hudson’s Eumenthol Chemical Company (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, medicinal pastilles, insect powders, &c.
Newbury & Son, London - Hudson’s Eumenthol Chemical Company (Australasia) Limited, Sydney, medicinal pastilles, insect powders, &c.
McKenzie & Holland Limited, Worcester - McKenzie & Holland Limited, Brisbane and Melbourne, railway signal apparatus, &c.
Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company Limited, Manchester -*hompson & Company Proprietary Limited, Castlemaine, turbo-condensers.
Edgar Allen and Company Limited, Sheffield -*Thompson & Company Proprietary Limited, Castlemaine, cement - making plant.
Nobel Industries Limited, Glasgow - Australasian Explosives and Chemical Company Limited, Deer Park, Victoria, explosives.
Jas. Spicer & Sons Limited, London - Jas. Spicer & Sons, Melbourne, stationery.
Sulphide Corporation Limited, London - Sulphide Corporation, Cockle Creek, New South Wales, silver lead, spelter, tar, sulphate of ammonia, sulphate of copper, superphosphates, sulphuric acid.
Trewhella Bros. Proprietary Limited, Birmingham - Trewhella Bros. Proprietary Limited, Trentham, Victoria, land-clearing tools.
Taylor Bros, and Company Limited, Leeds - Commonwealth Steel Products Limited, Newcastle, steel wheels, tires, and axles.
Ward, T. W., Limited, Sheffield - Fifleld Magnesite and Refractories Company Limited, calcined magnesite, and magnesite bricks.
Underfeed Stoker Company Limited, Manchester - *H. Perks, Melbourne, mechanical stokers.
Murray’s Confectionery - Murray’s Conf ecery, confectionery.
Bullivants - Australian Wire Rope Works, metal cordage.
Nettlefold’s - screws.
Gramophone Company Limited - gramophones and records.
Spalding and Company - sports goods.
- Manufacture under licence from United Kingdomfirms.
That is a list of British firms which have invested their money in Australia with a full knowledge of our labour conditions.
– It depends, of course, upon the extent to which protection has helped them to start here.
– But the honorable senator made an unqualified assertion. He also dealt with the relative wages in the United States of America and Canada, and said that wages in Australia would have been just as good without arbitration, because they had increased to the same extent in the United States of America and Canada. I have facts to show that that is not correct. The daily wage rate in out-door occupations in those countries is higher than in Australia, but it is well known that all outdoor work there practically ceases in the winter months and, taking a year’s earnings, the wage rate would have to be much higher than it now is in America and Canada to be equivalent to the Australian rate.
– Then the effective wage per annum in Australia is greater than that in Canada or the United States of America.
– That is a very important point in favour of Australia.
– It is. When Senator Barwell was speaking, I had by me an issue of the Herald, in which Mr. W. S. Sharland stated that -
Life in Canada for the unskilled worker is exceptionally hard, owing to the poor wages, the severity of the winter, and the lack of permanent work.I met many men who formerly held high ranks in the permanent military forces of Britain, who were working for a pittance in Canada as labourers.
The statement that wages would have risen to the same extent if we had not had an Arbitration Court is not justified by facts.
– I made my comparison with the United States of America, not with Canada.
– The imaginary line drawn between those two countries does not affect the economic conditions on either side of it. Wages are practically the same in Canada as in the United States of America. I am a member of a world-wide organization which issues a quarterly statement of the wage rates of its members in various parts of the world. Those statements show that the wage rates for carpenters and joiners are practically the same in Canada and the United States of America.
– But the same seasonal conditions have not to be contended with in the United States of America.
– Unfortunately, for the honorable senator’s argument, they have. The statements show the number of unemployed, and if the returns for a whole year are studied, it will be seen that there are very few unemployed in summer, but a very large number in winter - when it is almost impossible to carry on building operations - and that this occurs both in the United States of America and Canada. Coming to yet another statement made by Senator Barwell, Senator Drake-Brockman has quoted figures showing that the Arbitration Court, so far from having been provocative of strikes, has prevented a large number of them, and that Australia is not the economic sinner that she is sometimes represented to be. Those figures could be elaborated in greater detail. During the last election I had analyses made of the number of men in the unions that had been the chief cause of strikes, and they showed that, although the Seamen’s Union had been responsible for 70 per cent, of the wages lost by strikes during a period of years, that union only had 8,000 members out of a total of 700,000 unionists. Therefore, the greatest trouble-makers in our industrial life can be narrowed down to 8,000 men at the most - an insignificant number when compared with the total of 700,000 unionists - who have been responsible in the last few years for enormous losses of wages, time, capital, and goodwill. I wish to say a few words in reply to some of the other criticisms of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator will need an extension of time to enable him to do that, and there is no provision in the Standing Orders for granting an extension to a senator speaking in reply.
– I do not wish to create a precedent by asking for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Section 51 of the Constitution is altered -
by inserting after paragraph (xxxix.) the following paragraphs: - “ (xl.) Establishing authorities with such powers as the Parliament confers on them with respect to the regulation and determination of terms and conditions of industrial employment and of rights and duties of employers and employees with respect to industrial matters and things:
.- I move-
That after the word “ things,” proposed new paragraph xl., the following words be inserted : - “but the exercise of suc h powers shall not apply to the regulation of any State activity engaged in the manufacture of products which enter into competition with similar products in the ordinary course of trade.”
The purpose of my amendment is to exclude from the provisions of the section State enterprises that do not enter into competition with private individuals and firms.
– Is it intended that the amendment shall apply to industries controlled by the Commonwealth, as well as by the States?
– Only to industries controlled by the States. The Commonwealth, of course, must be master in its own household. The amendment still leaves the States free, if they do not engage in ordinary trading, to look after their own affairs without interference by the central authority. Some of the States have established . brick-yards, timberyards, fish-shops, and meat-shops; but, on the other hand, there are activities which traditionally the State Governments have engaged in for many years. . Some of the States have made up their minds, from well or ill-considered motives, to enter the industrial arena; and to the extent to which they do that they should be subject to the same regulations, laws, and limitations as private manufacturers and traders in the same field. There is a steadfast conviction in the minds of the people that the States, as well as the Commonwealth, should look after their own affairs. The States are sovereign authorities, just as the Commonwealth is sovereign’ within its own domain. They took a prominent part in the creation of the Federation, and they are included in a very specific way in the definitions in the Constitution. The people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania are specially mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution, and, later, the word “ States,” like the word “ Commonwealth,” is defined. The States, as such, are an integral portion of our governmental system. It is proposed in the bill that the Commonwealth shall have the right to invade the arena of all State undertakings, large and small.
-brockman. - Under the present Constitution, the Commonwealth can regulate the conditions in State undertakings. We have the same power with respect to them as to other industries in Australia.
– When the Commonwealth arbitration system was created it was assumed that there were only two classes of interstate employees - shearers and seamen. Since then, however, unions have federalized and manufactured many interstate industries and disputes. There is no warrant for a central authority demanding to know of a State what it is doing in its different activities. Let me remind honorable senators of the extent of the undertakings of the States. The State railway systems are worth about £250,000,000, which is about twenty times more than the value of the Commonwealth railway system. They have embarked upon schemes for the supply of water for drinking and irrigation purposes, and have engaged in many other activities to develop the country; and in those undertakings they should not be subjected to hindrance or interference, or to the prying eyes of a Commonwealth authority. The object of these powers, if they have an object, is to secure industrial equity. They aim at removing social injustice, but such forms of abuse ought not to exist under the aegis of a Government. A Government, State or Federal, is an instrument by which the people secure the well-defined end of “peace, order, and good government,” to use a hackneyed phrase. The people are now asked to believe that the States are incapable of doin<-“ what the Commonwealth is doing. I am not disposed to go the length proposed in the bill. I am opposed to the concentration of power in the central authority, and that is where this bill is leading. The Prime Minister has declared that the power of fixing wages will be taken at first gradually, and finally entirely, from the Stateauthorities. I ask honorable senatorswhether they are prepared to accept that as an objective. Within limits, I am. I should limit State authorities to operating within their own sphere; but I would’ leave them to carry out their own work to the best of their ability. This would be paying them the only compliment they deserve. The Commonwealth is veryjealous of its own prerogatives, and we should not like any one to interfere with Commonwealth instrumentalities. It is; not because the Commonwealth is the superior authority that we should claimthe privilege of non-interference with whatever we do; but because of that quality inherent in the agency of government, which is possessed as fully by a State government as by the Commonwealth Government. This matter should! be given very serious consideration. I am against the proposal to load up the central authority with all these powers. It can only end, as a member of the last Parliament said, in imposing such a strain upon the central organization of government that we shall be compelled later to unload some of its burden and undo very much of what we are proposing to do to-day. It is proposed to federalize the authority to decide wages and conditions in industry, and, in another bill we have to consider, it is proposed that the Commonwealth authority shall have practically complete control in regulating the whole of the commerce of Australia. I submit my amendment with a view to leaving the State authorities free to revolve on their own axes, and to formulate their plans without any prying interference by the government of the Commonwealth. Is it assumed that a State government cannot be trusted to deal out even-handed justice and fair play to its subjects in the carrying on of these activities? Such an assumption must be the basis of this bill. But I would ask any honorable senator, who thinks in that way, to consider the work of the State parliaments. We all know that, if, in connexion with the operations of any State activity to-day, there is a single individual who feels injured or aggrieved, his grievance will find an echo in the State parliament, and will be inquired into and rectified. In this respect the control of a State activity differs entirely from the control of any private enterprise. It is true that I supported & somewhat similar proposal in the past; but, in common with others who supported it, I hope I have learned something from experience, and it appears to me now to be an unwarrantable interference with the State authorities. My experience supplies no justification for it. I desire that it should be embedded in the Constitution that, so far as this class of activity is concerned, the right of the State authorities to deal with them should not be subject to any interference by any Commonwealth government.
.- I would remind the committee that probably the most difficult task in which a legislature can be engaged is an amendment of the Constitution. The framing of such an amendment is not a task which should be attempted by a layman while standing on his feet addressing this chamber. It should be seriously considered, and any proposal for the purpose should be left to legal minds to decide what its exact effect would be. I am not a lawyer, and I have only just heard Senator Lynch’s amendment read ; but it seems to me that its effect would be exactly the opposite of what the honorable senator desires. I invite the honorable senator’s attention to the wording of paragraph xl. It reads : -
Establishing authorities with such powers as the Parliament confers on them, with respect to the regulation and determination of terms and conditions of industrial employment, and of rights and duties of employers and employees with respect to industrial matters and things.
The honorable senator proposes to add. to that paragraph the following words: - ‘ but the exercise of such powers shall not apply to the regulation of any State activity engaged in the manufacture of products which enter into competition with similar products in the ordinary course of trade.
If the paragraph were so amended it would mean that State activities, such as a State Public Service, or a State railway service would come under the powers proposed, but if a State established a fish shop or a butcher’s shop, such activities could not be regulated under the powers proposed. Under the honorable senator’s amendment, the regulation of such activities would not come under the “ grasping powers “ of which he speaks. I know that that is not what he intends, and that what he desires is that such activities as afish shop or a butcher’s shop shall come within the Federal powers.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator’s amendment would have exactly the opposite effect, and I appeal to him not to press it. He is aware that the Government is asking the Parliament to take very grave action. I assume that all who are supporting the bill really desire that the people shall endorse these measures, and accept the proposals for constitutional alteration. Judging from the debate, it is not going to be an easy task to induce a majority of the people in a majority of the States to accept these proposals. No one who desires that they should be accepted can consider it desirable that they should include one of the most debatable matters that could be introduced, and that is the question of how far the Federal industrial authority should go in the regulation of State activities. I understand that the High Court has ruled that where a State is engaged in an industrial activity it may under the Constitution as it stands, and without the acceptance of these proposals, be brought under the authority of the Federal Arbitration Court.
– That is the law now.
– That is the law now, according to the High Court, and certain railway unions are to-day before the Federal Arbitration Court seeking an award. I appeal to Senator Lynch’s sense of fair play, not to press his amendment. Does the honorable senator think it quite fair to the Government and to those who desire that these proposals for the amendment of the Constitution shall be accepted by the majority of the people of Australia, to throw in this apple of discord, and so place honorable senators in a false position,’ no matter how they may vote? Many honorable senators who desire that the Government’s proposals should be accepted by the people will vote against Senator Lynch’s amendment, when, if it were submitted as a separate matter, they might be found supporting the honorable senator. I ask him not to force them to make such a choice. An amendment of so far-reaching a character needs careful examination by legal authorities to decide exactly the effect of the form in which it is proposed.
– Senator Lynch has slightly altered the wording of his amendment, so that it will read as follows : - but the exercise of such power shall not apply to the regulation of any State activity other than those engaged in the manufacture of products which enter into competition with similar products in the ordinary course of trade.
– I cannot quite follow what Senator Lynch proposes. His amendment is very much involved, and he has not so far denned what he means by “ State activity.” In my view, the amendment, if agreed to, would defeat the object of paragraph xl., as set out in the bill. Whilst I admit that the paragraph as it stands does not go so far as honorable members on this side would like, I contend now, as I did when speaking on the second reading, that it does propose an extension of the powers of the Federal Parliament in the regulation of industrial matters. Senator Lynch’s amendment would have the effect of limiting the extension proposed by the bill. The honorable senator’s argument that, without an amendment of the Constitution those concerned in State instrumentalities cannot come before the Federal Arbitration Court, is fallacious. It is a considerable time since the High Court gave its decision that the Constitution permitted the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to regulate working conditions in .State instrumentalities. The only part of the paragraph I am concerned about is whether or not this Parliament will have power to give to .the authority to be created a direction in regard to hours of work.
– This Parliament can amend any act it passes.
– When an honorable senator was speaking on the second reading, the Minister in charge of the bill said that Parliament could give a direction to the authority in such a matter
– It cannot issue an instruction to the court, but it may pass an act setting out the powers of the court, and it can amend that act.
– I take it that Parliament will give a direction to the court by means of a bill, and at any time it may amend that measure. That opinion was confirmed by the Attorney-General in another place. It is a matter that is concerning the minds of many people in Australia to-day, particularly members of trade unions, and the Minister’s admission, confirmed by the statement of the Attorney-General,, has clarified the position to a great extent. While Parliament will create an authority, and pass an act setting out the powers of the authority, it still reserves to itself the right to amend ‘that act. I cannot say how I regard Senator Lynch’s amendment until he gives a more explicit idea of what he means. I am seeking for an extension of the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament over industrial matters, and’ I fear that Senator Lynch’s amendment would contract, rather than extend those powers.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [8.48]. - I have a great deal of sympathy with what I know to be in the mind of Senator Lynch, but I do not think the amendment he has submitted properly expresses what he has in mind. I take it that his idea is that State instrumentalities should be exempted from the jurisdiction of Federal industrial tribunals except in so far as they enter into competition with similar industrial activities carried on by private enterprise.
– Do not railways and tramways compete with private enterprise ?
– At the present time, as a result of the decision of the High Court, State-owned railways come under the jurisdiction of Federal courts ; but I take it that Senator Lynch wants to exempt them and confine the jurisdiction of Federal courts in respect of State enterprises to such things as State meat shops, fish shops, and so on. I quite agree with Senator Pearce that if Senator Lynch wanted to amend an important bill of this sort, which provides for an amendment of the Constitution, he should have consulted the Parliamentary Draftsman so that his amendment would express exactly what he intended. I have always held that State instrumentalities such as railways should be exempt from Federal jurisdiction. When federation was consummated, certain powers were delegated to the Commonwealth Government, all other powers being retained by the States. Thus we have two sets of authorities, the Commonwealth and the various States, each with sovereign rights within its own ambit; but when Federal courts interfere with State instrumentalities there is undoubtedly direct interference with the sovereignty of the States. The States, contrary to the true Federal spirit, cease to be sovereign within their own spheres as regards those particular activities.
– The Federal Government is in exactly the same position in regard to its own employees. The Arbitration Court fixes their wages.
– The Federal employees come quite naturally within the jurisdiction of tribunals set up by the Federal Parliament; it is no interference with the sovereign rights of the Commonwealth for Federal tribunals to adjudicate upon the wages and working conditions of Federal servants. It is, however, quite a different thing for those tribunals to exercise jurisdiction over the servants of a State.. That is what Senator Lynch has in his mind. A State railway is not an industry which is carried on in competition with a similar industry outside.
– Does not motor transport come into direct competition with railways?
– I was referring to a similar competitive railway. For instance, there are no private railways in Australia.
– There are two private railways in Western Australia in direct competition with a Government railway.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.If the servants of the Railways Commissioners of the State are to be subject to the jurisdiction of a Federal Court, so also I take it would be the employees of water and sewerage boards, harbour boards and other State activities. There is, therefore, a direct interference with the sovereignty of the States, which . 1 think ought not to exist. I quite agree with the principle underlying Senator Lynch’s amendment, but I cannot vote for it. If the honorable senator could have the matter postponed, and have an amendment drawn up by the Parliamentary Draftsman, the position would be entirely different; but to place into a bill of this character an amendment haphazardly drafted, might lead us into a false position. Therefore, while I should like to support the. amendment, I cannot agree to it in its present form.
. - On the second reading I said that the proposed new paragraph (xl.) did not appeal to me, and I am taking the first opportunity of giving effect to my statement. Perhaps I should have consulted the Crown Law Officers, and had an amendment properly framed to suit honorable senators, but the case seemed to me so simple that I did not think there was any need for the use of elaborate language.
– It does not need elaborate language; the simpler the language the better.
– If the Senate thinks that the Commonwealth, as the paragraph in the bill clearly empowers it to do, should step into the State’s spheres of action and inquire into every activity carried on by it, regulating the conditions of labour in connexion with it, I have nothing to say, except, of course, to raise my voice in protest. But if, on the other hand, it is the feeling of the Senate that the Commonwealth is not justified in stepping into the arena of State activities and interfering except to a limited degree, it should at least call for a pause and see where it stands - it should shape an amendment to suit its wishes.
– It is a question of whether the honorable senator’s amendment does not do exactly the opposite to what he intends to do.
– My amendment, as I have altered it, is as follows : - but the exercise of such powers shall not apply to the regulation of any State activity other than those engaged in the manufacture of products which enter into competition with similar products in the ordinary course of trade.
I want to draw a line, which can be done under the rules of common sense between one class of activities carried on by the States from the earliest days and another class brought into existence in recent years. In the past the States have built railways, waterworks, irrigation works, and harbour works wherever they were required, and those works were calculated to advance the general development of the States. But when they have opened timber yards, as has been done in Western Australia, brick yards as has been done in New South Wales, and butcher shops as has been done in Queensland, they have embarked upon a class of activities between which, and the other class I have mentioned, there is a sharp line of distinction. The paragraph in the bill I am seeking to amend aims at taking away from the States every vestige of control in the management of all activities. I am opposed to that, but I would limit my opposition, in that respect. I would leave to the States full control in regard to those activities which they have been carrying on for the general advancement and development of their own areas, but as for the others, I would say “ Let them by all means be subject to the same supervision, inquiry and regulation as is applied to any other kind of industry in Australia.” I want my amendment to give effect to that desire: I am opposed to the Government’s proposal if it means, as I think it does, the depriving of the States of every vestige of authority so far as the regulating of State instrumentalities is concerned.
– This bill does not do that; it does not raise that question.
– The Prime Minister has declared in another place that under proposed paragraph xl the Commonwealth will temporarily exercise power concurrently with the States. But, eventually, the concurrent power will end, and State instrumentalities will pass under Commonwealth jurisdiction.
– This bill does not affect that matter at all.
– It does.
– Why not accept the opinion of experts, who know something about the matter?
– I do not wish this issue to be clouded. If the Minister will give me an assurance that the States will retain sufficient power to control their own instrumentalities free of Commonwealth interference I shall be satisfied.
– This bill does not affect in any way the existing Commonwealth jurisdiction over State instrumentalities, as declared by a recent judgment of the High Court. What Senator Lynch desires can be accomplished when a bill is brought forward to define the powers of the proposed Federal industrial authorities. That measure can specifically provide that these authorities shall have no jurisdiction over State activities.
– I wish that to be set out in the Constitution.
– That can be done by a separate bill to amend the Constitution. Alternatively, a definite provision to that effect can be inserted in the legislation which will be introduced to create the Federal industrial authorities. In those circumstances, I appeal to the honorable senator not to press his amendment.
– I would prefer that the clause be postponed in order to enable an amendment to be framed which will give effect to my intention. I am not content that this matter, which is of such vital interest to the States, shall be left to the whim of Parliament. I wish a definite provision to be inserted in the Constitution that the States shall have complete authority over their own instrumentalities.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [9.5]. - I do not agree with the Minister that thisbill is not the proper place for an amendment to give effect to the intention of Senator Lynch. According to the High Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, Federal tribunals have jurisdiction over State instrumentalities. The desire of Senator Lynch and others is that that jurisdiction shall be withdrawn; if that is to be done, this bill is the proper place in which to propose the necessary amendment of the Constituti on. In 1923 this matter was brought before the Premiers’ Conference by the Attorneys-General of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The State representatives proposed certain delimitations of Commonwealth and State powers over industry, and sought to protect responsible government in the States by exempting their instrumentalities from the jurisdiction of Federal tribunals. In a memorandum issued by him at that time, the Prime Minister said, “With the objects which the State Governments have in view the Commonwealth Government is in full sympathy.” He admitted that the Commonwealth should not interfere with the sovereignty of the States in this regard, and he proceeded to discuss with the representatives of the States the procedure to be adopted. Certain suggestions were made by the State Premiers and Attorneys-General, and the Prime Minister’s memorandum said -
He referred to the right of Commonwealth tribunals to exercise jurisdiction over State instrumentalities - cannot be cured by an ordinary Commonwealth act of Parliament or by legislation by individual States. They call for either (a) an amendment of the Constitution; or (b) reference of the necessary subject-matter, by all the States concurrently, to the Commonwealth under section 51 (xxxvii.) of the Constitution. The second alternative is the less satisfactory. It is not certain - and cannot be certain until it is decided by the High Court - that such a reference when made is irrevocable.
In effect, the Prime Minister said, “ I am in full sympathy with the proposal that State instrumentalities shall be exempted from Federal jurisdiction, but that can be done only by an amendment of the Constitution.” We were told that proposals to amend the Constitution would be submitted at a later date, and we assumed that this matter would be provided for. The bill does not do that, and apparently the Government is not prepared to do it. If the amendment is carefully re-drafted - and that cannot be done without the expert advice of a draftsman - I shall support it, but I cannot vote for it in its present form.
.- The amendment submitted by Senator Lynch raises a very important issue, and if it is pressed to a division I shall feel bound to support it.
– It does not mean what Senator Lynch thinks it means.
– We know what he intends it to mean, and if that intention can be expressed in this bill, and not be inconsistent with its other provisions, it should be done. I admit that the amendment, as he has phrased it, is capable of a very wide interpretation; but if, as Senator Pearce says, State instrumentalities, unless specifically excluded by subsequent legislation, will come under the jurisdiction of Federal authorities, a serious infringement of State rights is proposed. The extent of Commonwealth jurisdiction over State instrumentalities has always been a debatable constitutional point, but Senator Lynch desires to insert in the Constitution a definite provision that such activities shall not come within the ambit of Commonwealth law. Until recently that was understood to be the meaning of the Constitution, and at one time the High Court ruled in that way. Senator Pearce has said that the State instrumentalities can be excluded when Parliament legislates in exercise of the increased powers that are how sought. I am afraid to leave this matter to the discretion of Parliament. The High Court has ruled that State civil servants come within the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court.
– Not ordinary civil servants.
– The court has ruled that State instrumentalities are subject to Federal jurisdiction, and the only question to be determined is what is meant by Slate instrumentalities. It may be that the railways, so far as ordinary transport services are concerned, do not come within the High Court’s judgment, but some of the State railway workshops manufacture for the public as well as the Government. Would they be regarded by the High Court as. State instrumentalities?
– All railway services come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. .
– I agree with the honorable senator that all State railway services should be exempted from Federal jurisdiction, and I wish that to be specifically provided for in the Constitution.
.- I sympathize with the purpose of the amendment, but it will not accomplish the intention of the mover. Indeed, I doubt whether we have sufficient legal skill in the Commonwealth to draft a provision that would definitely exclude all State instrumentalities from the jurisdiction of Federal tribunals. Admittedly the framers of the Constitution did not intend that Commonwealth jurisdiction should extend to State railways and other instrumentalities of that kind. But the States themselves are largely responsible for the High Court’s decision to the contrary. They commenced to dabble in all sorts of enterprises of ordinary trading which should have been left to private individuals, and the High Court finding it impossible to discriminate between State instrumentalities engaging in trading and private enterprises declared them all, therefore, subject to Commonwealth jurisdiction. What Senator’ Lynch desires to accomplish cannot be effected by an amendment in general terms such as he has proposed ; he must specifically exclude railways, tramways, and whatever other State instrumentalities he desires to name, from the jurisdiction of Federal courts. That is one objection to the amendment in its present form. There is also the suspicion that it will operate to deprive a great number pf industrialists of rights which they have acquired at considerable expense. The State railway unions will be affected. Naturally they will be supported by other unions from motives of sympathy. If the purpose is to kill the bill-
– That is what Senator Barwell and Senator Lynch wish to do, of course. They have said so all along.
– If that is the object, then the amendment should be supported. I regard the present situation as dangerous in the extreme, and I think the Government has adopted the only course to clarify it. If it were practicable to restore the condition which every one believed ‘existed at the inauguration of federation, I should heartily support Senator Lynch; but owing to the extreme difficulty in framing an amendment to meet the situation, and because of the enormous opposition which it would invoke, I must certainly oppose the present amendment.
.- Speaking as a layman, it seems to me that Senator Lynch’s amendment, which has enlisted the sympathy of Senator Barwell, will create a great deal of trouble, because it will vitally affect all employees -in State railway workshops, the engineers, coachbuilders, carpenters, joiners, and other federated industrial, organizations, which are operating under awards made by the Federal Arbitration Court. They will not give up their rights without a struggle. If an attempt is made to insert in the Constitution a provision exempting State instrumentalities, we shall have the organized opposition of all these federated unions. Even if it were possible so to frame the amendment as to express clearly what Senator Lynch intends to convey, I should oppose it, because it will lead to so much trouble.
– I remind Senator Reid that railway workshops, as a State instrumentality, were included in the 1911 referendum, and were purposely excluded in the 1913 referendum in order to ensure more united support at the ballot-box.
– Railways were not excluded in the 1913 referendum.
– They were excluded, as I have said, for the special purpose of making the questions more acceptable to the electors. Notwithstanding what Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Reid may say to the contrary, I am submitting my amendment with the idea of helping the Government. In the circumstances, I ask the Minister to postpone consideration of this clause until to-morrow, when it should be possible to submit an amendment in language that will make it acceptable to honorable senators. I believe, with Senator Elliott, that if the several State activities can be enumerated, it is desirable to include them so as to prevent any further invasion of the sovereign rights of the States at the sweet will of any government of the Commonwealth. I wish the State powers to be retained, and if my amendment is defeated I shall have to persevere in some other direction.
– Paragraph xli. proposes to invest State authorities, such as industrial courts and wages board tribunals, with certain powers. In. two of the States such tribunals have been created recently, as the result of State legislation. Will existing tribunals be interfered with, or is it proposed to vest them with Federal jurisdiction?
– It is difficult to say exactly, at this juncture, in what way the Government will ask Parliament to determine the powers of the authorities which it creates. What the Government has in mind is not to interfere with existing State industrial authorities, but so to utilize them as to bring about coordination of Federal and State industrial tribunals. Certain basic principles will be laid down by the Federal court.
– It will be open to the Parliament to do just what it likes from time to time.
– Yes, but no one anticipates that Parliament will become a “ Meddlesome Matty “ in the industrial sphere. The probability is that existing State authorities will continue to function, because Federal and State powers will be concurrent, but where there is a clash or variation the Federal power must take precedence over that of the State in order to prevent overlapping and confusion. It is not the intention of this Government to set up a single industrial authority for Australia, or, as has been said, toereate a Federal industrial oligarchy.
– But it will be possible for another government to do that.
– Yes, but I suggest that if a government adopted that course it would be looking for trouble, both for itself and the country, and that it would have an extremely short life. It is not intended to interfere with State industrial tribunals that are doing good work. For instance, no government would be foolishenough to set up another authority to do the work of wages boards in Victoria. The desire of the Government is to vest all such State tribunals with Federal jurisdiction if necessary.
– In other words, the Government is aiming at the decentralization of the Federal Arbitration Court
– Certainly. Our object is to bring about co-ordination of the Federal and State tribunals, and prevent overlapping and confusion.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill received from 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.
In submitting this motion, I desire it to be distinctly understood that I do not wish the Senate to pass this bill to-night. I merely wish to move the second reading, and shall then grant an adjournment of the debate in the ordinary way. There is a special reason why this measure should be passed as early as possible. As honorable senators are probably aware, the term of office of the President and the two Deputy Presidents of the Arbitration Court terminates on the 30th June. It is necessary that the bill should be passed before that date, because it empowers the Government to re-appoint the two deputies for such a period as will enable them to complete the hearing of the cases on which they are now engaged. In the case in which the railway servants are involved the hearing has been protracted. The deputy president of the court has been engaged on it for many days, and the representatives of State
Governments and the unions concerned have incurred great expense in the presentation of their evidence. If this measure is not passed before the date mentioned the whole ground will have to be covered again by the newly-constituted court. It is the desire of the Government that there shall be no hiatus, and that the cases which are now being heard by the two deputies shall be completed. In these special circumstances, I ask the Senate to agree tothe motion and thus enable me to move the second reading of the bill to-night.
.- At the first blush I felt inclined to oppose the motion for the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders, because I did not think it right to interrupt in this way our consideration of the two very important measures involving amendments of the Constitution, particularly as those bills were disposed of in another place before this measure was dealt with. In view of the explanation of the Minister, however, I realize the urgency. I understand that the Australian Railways Union and the Australian Tramways Employees’ Association are now appearing before the Arbitration Court, and that each of them has gone to considerable trouble to prepare its case, and to submit evidence to the court. If this bill is not passed by the 30th June, those organizations will have to start de novo, and will thus incur unnecessary delay and expense. As special executive power has to be obtained before the 30th June to enable the deputies ‘to temporarily continue, I shall not oppose the motion.
– There being more than a statutory majority of the whole Senate present, and no voice being raised in the negative, I declare the motion carried.
Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure does not embody the entire policy of the Government in respect to industrial arbitration. The Government is, of course, delaying the introduction of such a bill until a vote has been taken on the referendum proposals, when further amending legislation will be brought before Parliament. The object of this measure is merely to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, under the powers vested in the Parliament by the Constitution as it stands. The court now consists of the president - Mr. Justice Powers - and two deputy presidents - Sir John Quick and Mr. Webb. The president is resigning at the end of June, and the terms of the president and deputy presidents expire on the 30th instant. It is necessary, therefore, to make provision for the continuance of the court. Further, it is desired to take the opportunity to improve the constitution of the court, to extend its jurisdiction, and to strengthen its powers in certain directions. I could supply honorable senators with a list of the cases with which the court has had to deal, but I shall content myself by saying that they are more numerous than the general public is aware. There is, however, one phase of the court’s activities that I should like to mention in view of certain statements made in the Senate during the discussion of another measure. There have been 41 compulsory conferences held, and 42 agreements, settling disputes, filed in the court under section 24 of the act. In addition, the court has, on occasions, by special request, settled industrial disputes other than those of an interstate character. Boards of reference appointed under awards of the court have dealt with 277 matters during the year. The employees affected by the awards of the court number. 330,000. In view of these figures the court is freely availed of, and its foundation is firmly established.
The necessity for extending the powers of the court has been fully discussed in the. recent debates. The impossibility of separate States dealing effectively with certain disputes has been universally admitted, and if we are to secure industrial peace through the medium of the law, there must be some means of settling certain disputes on a Federal basis. As I have said, the bill does not provide for anything like a complete treatment of the subject. It is really designed to deal only with the period intervening between the 30th June and the time when the proposed constitutional amendments have been voted on by the people. The Government, therefore, does not propose at present to introduce an elaborate and carefully worked out scheme for the settlement of disputes upon the basis of our present limited powers. If the industrial powers to be sought are extended, it will be possible to introduce an improved scheme providing for a common rule, and means of settling industrial disputes other than those provided under the Arbitration Act. The existing Arbitration Court can be continued, its powers extended, and other means of determining industrial differences considered. This measure, therefore, is only to provide for the continuance of the court with some immediate improvement in its jurisdiction and status.
The subjects with which the bill deals may be stated generally as follows : - It confers full judicial power not now conferred upon the Arbitration Court. In order to effect this change the bill provides for a life tenure of office, pensions to the judges, means for obtaining general decisions which would apply to any of tho awards of the court, and would be followed by the judges on all matters such as those affecting .the basic wage or the standard hours of industry. It also provides for the continuance of ‘partheard matters now before the President and Deputy Presidents. As explained during the discussion on the referendum bills, the absence of judicial power affects the authority of the Arbitration Court to enforce its awards. Section 71 of the Constitution provides that .the judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in the High Court, and in such other Federal courts as it invests with Federal jurisdiction. “ Other courts “ means State courts, which this Parliament may invest with Federal jurisdiction. Section 72 of the Constitution provides that the justices of the High Court and of the other courts created by Parliament shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council, and shall not be removed except by the GovernorGeneral in Council, on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of misbehaviour or incapacity. The meaning of section 72 has been considered by the High Court in a case that is generally referred to as Alexander’s case, which honorable senators will find reported in 25 C.L.R., page 434. In that case it was held that sub-section 2 of section 72 provided that Federal judges must have a life tenure of office. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that the President of the Arbitration Court shall have a te.nure of office of seven years, and that the Deputy Presidents shall have a tenure fixed by the Governor-General in Council. Although the President of the Arbitration Court, in his capacity as a judge of the High Court, is appointed for life, he and the Deputy Presidents of the Arbitration Court are only appointed for a limited period in relation .to arbitration jurisdiction, and they are, therefore, incompetent in that jurisdiction to exercise the judicial power of the Commonwealth. Judicial power includes at least the power to decide whether the law has been broken, and the power to impose penalties for breaches of the law. It was held in Alexander’s case that the Arbitration Court had no power to impose penalties for any breach of its awards or orders. The court has imposed no fine for several years. Matters involving breaches of awards and contraventions of the act have been dealt with by police magistrates. Indeed, both sides in industry have expressed doubts as to whether it is desirable that a court, relatively unfamiliar with industrial matters, such as a magistrate’s court, must necessarily be, should, in practice, have power to impose penalties in respect of breaches of awards. It is generally agreed on both sides that these matters should be dealt with by the Arbitration Court itself. In another case, commonly known as the Waterside Workers’ case, the reference to which is 34 C.L.R., page 4S2, it was held that the power sought to be conferred upon the Arbitration Court by section 38 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to interpret its own awards was inoperative, in so far as it was a judicial power. A magistrate’s court, because of the defect of judicial power, is not bound by the interpretation that has been made by the Arbitration Court; it accordingly gives its own interpretation. The interpretation may differ from that of the Arbitration Court. An improvement in this respect is desirable, and this will be corrected by conferring judicial power on the Arbitration Court. It is no longer proposed to appoint High Court judges to the Arbitration Court. The Court of Conciliation and Arbitration will be entirely distinct from the High Court. The provision that the President of the Arbitration Court must be a High Court judge will, therefore, be repealed. There are various reasons which render it advisable to have the two jurisdictions entirely distinct from each other. Serious inconvenience of a practical nature now arises from time to time, because it is necessary to enlist the services of the President of the Arbitration Court to constitute a full bench of the High Court. Again, the President of the Arbitration Court, as a judge of the High Court, has on very many occasions to pronounce upon the validity of a procedure that he has adopted as President.
– “Will there be an appeal to the High Court on certain subjects ?
– The members of the Arbitration Court will be Federal judges, but not High Court judges. It is not proposed to allow an appeal from the Arbitration Court to the High Court, but the Arbitration Court will be able to state a case for the High Court. That is provided for in section 21aa, and also in the Judiciary Act.
– Supposing they refuse to state a case ?
– In such cases there can be no appeal. In clauses 4 and 5 of ‘ the bill it is made clear that Parliament intends the new judges to have all the powers that were sought to be confererd oh the court by preceding legislation. The title “ President “ is to be changed to “ Chief Judge,” and that of “Deputy President” to “ Judge,” to emphasize the change that is being made in the character of the court. Clause 6, which repeals sections 12, 13, and 14 of the act relates to tenure, and provides that the judges shall have a life tenure. Under the Constitution, as interpreted by judicial decision, judicial power cannot be conferred upon any judge whose appointment is for a limited period. The salary proposed for the chief judge is £3,000 per annum, and that for a judge £2,500 per annum. These are considered moderate salaries, having regard to the important nature of the work that will have to be performed. It is proposed that the judges shall be entitled, after fifteen years’ service, to retire upon a pension. The same proposal is made also in relation to the High Court judges in the Judiciary Bill. The object of the pension scheme which is embodied in this proposal, and which follows precisely the existing provisions with relation to the Supreme Court judges of New South Wales, is, in the first place, to attract good men, and, when they are appointed, to save them from financial anxiety. It is not proposed to apply the provisions of the Public Service Superannuation Act to gentlemen who have reached the age at which men are usually appointed to the bench. The contributions would vary very greatly, and it would be quite impossible to work out a scheme upon an actuarial basis. Clause 7 furnishes a means for obtaining a determination from the full bench of the Arbitration Court upon the questions of standard hours and basic wage. There is a section in the Arbitration _ Act which provides that certain -questions relating to hours must be dealt with by the full bench of the Arbitration Court. But it must be remembered that that court can deal only with particular disputes. In order to make it possible to obtain a considered judgment from the whole court, it is proposed to insert in the act a new provision that .the AttorneyGeneral may, in the public interest, intervene in the hearing of any dispute that involves the question of standard hours or basic wage. The court will publish a notification in .the Commonwealth Gazette that the AttorneyGeneral has intervened, and that any person or organization, ‘whether registered or not, having an interest in the matter, may apply to the court for liberty to be heard on it. That answers the question which Senator Thompson raised earlier in the day. Such an application may be made by a single union or a body of unions, a particular employees’ association,, or an employers’ federation.
– Will the court be free to refuse the application ?
– I dare say that it will. It must have the right to decide’ the matter, because frivolous applications may be lodged. If the court is of opinion that the applicant is interested in the question, it may allow him to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to address the court. No unlimited right to be heard is extended to an unlimited number of persons ; the whole matter will be under the control of the court. If the court is of opinion that an applicant is interested, it may, in its discretion, allow him to be heard. That is to say, the AttorneyGeneral will have nothing to do with the matter, other than to send the notice to the court, which will itself determine whether a particular applicant is sufficiently interested to be heard. These are big questions involving general principles that ought not to be determined unless both sides have the fullest opportunity of being represented. The only object of this provision is to allow both sides in industry to have the fullest opportunity to be represented. If that opportunity were not afforded, a determination might be reached in favour of one side or the other, and a binding rule might be laid down by theFull Arbitration Court to operate for an uncertain period, although the case had not been sufficiently stated on either side in view of the extent of the interests affected. The next proposal is designed to relieve the judges of the court to some extent of the burden of work which they have at present, by making provision for the Governor-General to appoint conciliation commissioners to facilitate the conciliation jurisdiction of the court. This is a means of increasing the exercise of the powers of the court in the direction of conciliation. The power of conciliation is one of the most important powers of the court, and the Government is of the opinion that it should be developed and extended. The powers of the commissioners will be found in sections 16 and 16a of the act.
– Will that provision enable bodies similar to wages boards to be set up ?
– It might be applied in that way, or to a tribunal such as a Whitley council. Anything in the nature of conciliation can be operated under those sections. The last clause of the bill provides that the present deputy presidents may continue to exercise in relation to part-heard matters all the powers which exist under the present act. It would be a great mistake to cut off everything on the 30th June. The Railways case, for example, is being heard before Sir John Quick. It is a very complicated inquiry, and the deputy president has heard the case in relation to about 75 out of 300 or 400 grades.
– In how many States ?
– All of the States. At the present moment there are no fewer than 105 matters before the court, so provision must be made for the completion of part-heard matters in order to save the time and money of the parties, and to secure the services in these cases of the deputy presidents before whom they have been conducted. Honorable senators will see that the bill by no means completely covers the field that will have to be covered if extended industrial powers are granted by the people to the Commonwealth. This is an interim measure, but it proposes to give to the court many powers that it has not possessed in the past, and which are very necessary for a full exercise of effective arbitration jurisdiction.
– Under this measure will the judges be appointed for life?
– When this bill becomes law, we shall be able to appoint judges for life, but they need not necessarily be the present judges.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating the appointment of Mr. Aubrey Abbott, in place of Mr. Paterson - discharged from attendance - as a member of the committee.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ Message) :
Clause 2 -
Section four of the principal act is amended by omitting from paragraph (g) of sub-section (2) thereof the words “ and section one hundred and twenty-one “ and inserting in their stead the words “ sub-section (3) of section one hundred and fifteen, section one hundredand twenty-one, and section one hundred and twenty-one a “.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
After the word “ amended “, line 2, insert : - “ - (a) by inserting in sub-section (1), after the words ‘ one hundred and forty-one ‘ the words ‘ and section one hundred and ninety-four a ‘ ; and “ (b) “
[9.55]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This proposes to apply to a petition, disputing a referendum, provisions similar to those that now apply to a petition disputing an election. Section 194 (a) of the Electoral Act reads -
On the trial of any petition, the court shall not admit the evidence of any witness that he was not permitted to vote in any election during the hours of polling on polling day, unless the witness satisfies the court -
That he claimed to vote in the election pursuant to that provision of this act under which he was entitled or might be permitted to vote; and
that he complied with the requirements of this act and the regulations made thereunder relative to voting by electors insofar as he was permitted so to do.
At the hearing of the Ballarat by-election petition, Mr. Justice Isaacs laid it down that the presiding officer should inform the elector of the particular provisions under which he should claim the right to vote. That is an impossible position in which to place the officer. It is now proposed to lay upon an elector whose name does not appear upon the certified list of voters used at the poll the onus of placing before the presiding officer the full facts upon which his claim to vote is based, and to formally claim the right to vote under the particular provisions that are applicable to him. Those facts are, and they should be, known to the elector, yet they may not be, and probably are not, known to the presiding officer. Although those officers should assist electors so far as they possibly can, the legal obligation should not be placed upon them when they cannot effectively discharge it, particularly as any action which they may take might place the validity of a referendum in jeopardy. This provision is similar to that which is embodied in the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
. - A certain process has to be gone through by an elector whose name does not appear upon the certified list of voters, but who claims the right to vote. That provision is embodied in the Commonwealth Electoral Act; Do I understand that it is desired to place an identical provision in this measure?
– I have no objection to that course being followed.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section six a of the principal act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection : - “ (3.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section a pamphlet containing arguments relating to a proposed law shall not be printed and posted in accordance with this section unless, within one week after the passage of the proposed law through both Houses, those Houses decide by resolution that the pamphlet may be so printed and posted.”.
House ofRepresentatives Amendment. - Omit all words after “ Act “, line 1, and insert - “ shall not apply in relation to any referendum held upon the proposed law intituled Constitution Alteration (Industry and Commerce) 1926,. or upon the proposed law intituled Constitution Alteration (Essential Services) 1926.”
[9.58]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Clause 3 of the bill, as passed by the Senate on 11th February last, provided that a pamphlet containing arguments relating to a proposed law might be issued if approval to that action were given by a resolution of both Houses within one week after the passage of the proposed law through those Houses. The amendment proposes that such a pamphlet shall not be issued in respect to the forthcoming referendums relating to industry and commerce and essential services. The reason is that a big majority of the members of both parties in another place are in favour of the proposals, and only a small number are opposed to them, and the minority has no desire to issue a pamphlet.
– If the committee agrees to the amendment, will section 3, as it stands in the act, apply to future occasions ?
– I do not like the amendment. There is plenty of time for a pamphlet to be issued.
– How could it.be got in time to, say, Wyndham or Eucla?
– There would be some difficulty in getting it to those places. But surely it would be possible for those who agree and those who disagree with the proposals to state their case!
– Whowould draft the case against?
– All the parties havesome members antagonistic to them.
– I admit that there would he some difficulty.
– And those against do not want to issue their reasons.
– In that case, I suppose we shall have to accept the amendment.
– I regret that this departure from our usual practice in connexion with referendums has been suggested, especially as the people will shortly be called upon to exercise their vote.
– They will be enlightened from public platforms.
– These proposals may have far-reaching results, and in my opinion it is desirable that the parties for and against should state their case in an official pamphlet. This is the more necessary, seeing that men occupying high positions in the legal profession differ seriously in their views as to the possible effect of an affirmative vote by the people. Pamphlets have been issued in connexion with every previous referendum.
– With the exception of the last one, and the financial agreement referendum. The law providing for the issue of a pamphlet was not on the statute-book in 1909.
– The proposals contained in the financial agreement were better understood by the people than these are. The pamphlets that have been issued in connexion with other referendums have been informative, and have enabled electors to take a more intelligent interest in the matters upon which they were being called upon to vote.
– How many people read them ?
– I venture to say that thousands not only read them but kept them for future reference.
– How is it possible for all those who hold different views on the matter to state their case? It cannot be done.
– There is no such word as “ cannot” in my vocabulary. It could be done if the Government allowed it to be done, but these bills are being rushed through at express speed. Even if the pamphlets were printed it would not be possible to circulate them to a large proportion of the electors.
– I assure the honorable senator that that is not correct. We have had a calculation made, and we could reach 95 per cent, of the people.
– I venture to say that many electors would receive them only a day or two before they were called upon to vote. To be of real’ value, such information should reach the average elector at least two or three weeks before the vote is taken. In the absence of an official pamphlet I can see that this will be mainly a newspaper referendum.
– What about the public platforms?
– It is true that speakers may reach an audience from the public platform, but it will not be comparable with the audience that the newspapers will reach every day.
– The newspapers will publish speeches during the campaign.
– They may to a certain extent, but we have had instances of the speakers on one side being fully reported and those on the other being practically ignored. I regret that nothing very much will be done by the Government to inform the minds of the electors on these all-important proposals. As the great majority of the newspapers will more or less vigorously oppose them there is very little possibility of them being accepted by the people.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment -
After clause 5, insert the following new clause: - 5a. Section nineteen of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [10.10]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment is to correct an error in the present Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act, and to bring it into harmony with sections 135 and 136 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which relate to the scrutiny in a Senate election and in a House of Representatives election.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
After clause 8, insert the following new clause: - 6a. After section twenty of the principal act the following section is inserted: - “20a. - (1.)If a scrutineer objects to a ballot-paper as being informal, the officer conducting, the scrutiny shall mark the ballot-paper ‘ admitted ‘ or ‘ rejected ‘ according to his decision to admit or reject the ballot-paper. “ (2.) Nothing in this section shall prevent the officer conducting the scrutiny front rejecting any ballot-paper as being informal although it is not objected to.”.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [10.11]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
A similar provision appears in section 132 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in relation to elections. It is desirable to bring the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act into harmony in this respect with the electoral -law relating to elections.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
After clause 7, add the following new clause -
Section33 of the principal act is amended
Section proposed to be amended -
No referendum . . . shall be avoided on account of any delay … or on account of the absence or error of any officer. …
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [10.13]. - I move -
That the amendmentbe agreed to.
These amendments are made to bring the law relating to referendums into line with amendments made in the Electoral Act in 1922, and are designed - (a) to bring the Commonwealth law into precise harmony with the British law and to establish beyond question the dictum of Chief Justice Griffith in Chanter v. Blackwood, which was set aside by Mr. Justice Isaacs in the Ballarat case. (b) To prevent a repetition of the procedure adopted in the Ballaratcase when Mr. Justice Isaacs admitted evidence as to how certain persons who alleged that they had been refused the right to vote would have voted if they had been permitted to vote.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
After proposed new clause 8, add -the following newclause : -
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [10.14], - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act is now cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1925. The purport of the proposed amendment is merely to bring all the references in the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act up to date and into harmony.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Senate adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260622_senate_10_113/>.