10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if, in view of the frequent interruptions and dislocation of shipping and mail services between Tasmania and the mainland, the . Government will give early consideration to the establishment of the proposed aerial service on that rate.
– I am in a position to inform the honorable senator that the matter is receiving the consideration of the Government. The necessary data are being collected to enable a full inquiry to be made.
The following papers were presented : -
High Commissioner for the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom - Report for 1927.
Development and Migration Commission - Dawson Valley Irrigation Scheme, Queensland - Report.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 14 of 1928- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 15 of 1928 - Arms, ‘Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 16 of 1928 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of -
Health - J. C. Spencer; A. R. Tremain.
Home and Territories - R. G. A. Kappler.
Trade and Customs - A. S. Stumbles, J. V. Bray, J. H. Thompson, A. Badman, G. F. Clinch, N. Buxton, N. J. Butcher, G. A. Keith, W. S. H. Nye, A. Brand, J. Smith, E. W. Williams, A. G. Home, L. B. Purry, K. A. Graham, E. T. Harper.
Nauru - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Nauru during the year 1927.
Munitions Supply Board - Annual Report from 1st July, 1926, to 30th June, 1927; together with the Annual Report of the Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory.
Federal Capital Commission - Report for the quarter ended 31st March, 1928.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 42.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1928 - No. 8 - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 9 - Copra.
No. 10 - Explosives.
No. 1 1 - Legal Practitioners.
No. 12 - Judiciary.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 1 - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 2 - Royal Commissions.
Northern Australia Act - Ordinances of 1928-
Central Australia -
No. 8 - Stock Diseases.
No. 9 - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
North Australia -
No. 8 - Stock Diseases.
No. 9 - Maintenance Orders ( Facilities for Enforcement).
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 41.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1928 - No. 40.
Senator BARNES presented the reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed Australian War Memorial at Canberra, and to the proposed erection of a School of Public Health at Sydney.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Dried Fruits Bill 1928.
Wine Export Bounty Bill 1928.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders.
[11.8]. - 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.
My object in submitting the motion is to allow the debate on the bill to proceed forthwith.
– “Why not take it as read ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.This bill and the amendments made by another place to the Electoral Bill, together with a Supply Bill constitute practically the only business for the consideration of the Senate at this stage of the session, and it is hoped that if we sit fairly continuously we shall be able to dispose of it in time to enable honorable senators to return to their respective States at the end of the week or the beginning of next week. I am sure that this course will meet with their convenience. All honorable senators are familar with the provisions of this Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and do not need time to make up their minds about it. I am therefore asking them to agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders so that we may proceed with the secondreading debate to-day.
– I am astonished that the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has suggested this course. It is within the knowledge of honorable senators that this bill ran the gauntlet of criticism in another place for approximately four weeks, and that the members of that chamber were called upon to add to the ordinary sitting hours in order to give it that attention which its importance demanded. They sat morning, noon and night, and sometimes all night. As a matter of fact, the bill did not leave another place until about 4 o’clock this morning. And yet the Leader of the Senate now cooly asks honorable senators, after an adjournment of about three weeks, to rush ahead immediately with the second-reading debate and to dispose of it forthwith. Senator Barnes suggested very pertinently, while the Leader of the Senate was speaking, “Why not take it as read?” The Minister is treating the Senate with contempt. He suggests that it will meet the convenience of honorable senators if the business of the Senate is dealt with this week. I fail to see why the convenience of members of this chamber should stand in the way of the’ calm and deliberate’ consideration of this bill, which will have far-reaching effects upon hundreds of thousands of people in Australia. It is not a bill that can be disposed of without serious consideration. The Minister has said that we are familiar with its provisions. I challenge that statement. If the bill had emerged from the debate elsewhere in something approximating its original form, we might have been familiar with its contents; but, as honorable senators are aware, it has been drastically amended in committee. The Attorney-General himself circulated a considerable number of amendments on behalf of the Government, and it is only a few hours since these were embodied in the bill in another place. In the light of these facts, how can the Leader of the Senate say with truth that we are all acquainted with its provisions? I have already mentioned that honorable members elsewhere had to sit extraordinarily long hours to dispose of the measure. No attempt was made by the Government - in fairness to the Ministry I say this - to in any way force the debate. Ample time was given for its consideration. The Senate is entitled to the same treatment. We should resist this deliberate attempt on the part of the Leader of the Senate to force the bill through all its stages with unseemly haste. The right honorable gentleman has coolly said that all we have to do this week is to dispose of this bill, grant Supply to His Majesty’s Government - I presume for another three or four months - and consider the amendments that have been made by another place to the Electoral bill. The two first-named will provide sufficient food for discussion for a much longer period than will be available to us between now and Friday afternoon. It. is quite plain that the right honorable gentleman is not going to be content with the ordinary hours of sitting. I presume that before long he will ask the Senate fo sit all night, and thus secure the passage of the bill by a process of exhaustion.
– Does the honorable senator really wish to sit next week ?
– When that has been done, the Senate will probably adjourn for a considerable time.
There is another aspect of this matter. If this measure was not of a contentious and provocative nature one might readily agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders. It is not an ordinary amendment ofour arbitration law, but on the contrary a direct attack upon the system of arbitration that has been in operation in Australia for many years. As we are being asked to change that system entirely, we should approach the consideration of the question leisurely and deliberately. The motion should be either withdrawn or defeated by the Senate. The Leader of the Senate has said that, honorable senators are well acquainted with the provisions of the bill. I hold in my hand two pages of printed matter, containing 60 or 70 amendments that were inserted in the measure by another place. Yet we are asked to suspend the Standing Orders so that we may proceed forthwith to the consideration of the bill, pass it through all its stages by Friday, and then adjourn for two or three months! The right honorable gentleman is well aware that the whole complexion of the hill was altered by the amendments inserted in it. Therefore he is exercising to an extraordinary degree the privileges which he possesses. Honorable senators who sit on this side will not be a party to the suspension of the Standing Orders; but I presumethat honorable senators opposite will, as usual, support the Leader of the Senate, so that the bill may be disposed of quicklyand the system of arbitration that up to the present hasbeen in operation in the Commonwealth destroyed.
SenatorReid. - The honorable senator does not mean that.
– As soon as thi s bill becomes operative the process of destruction will begin. If honorable senators opposite are in a hurry to consummate that object, let them go ahead; but in the attempt to reach that goal the will receive no assistance from this side.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator SirGeorge Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the. affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[11.29]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It is inscribed on the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren, in St. Paul’s, “If you would see his monument, look around.” Applying the same language to the present occasion, I would say to the Senate “If you would see the necessity for this bill in Australia, look around.” We have, to-day, the spectacle of a small body of men flouting the arbitration law and the public opinion of this country, flouting also the . discipline and organization of other trade unions, by carrying on an industrial dispute, thereby throwing thousands of men out of work, inflicting great loss on the community and causing the dislocation of trade and commerce generally.
There has%been an attempt to make it appear that the action of the Government in introducing this bill and its attitude in respect to the present dispute in the transport industry, are prompted by a desire to attack trade unionism. I desire to say at the outset that neither in introducing the bill nor in the steps it has taken to deal with the present disastrous dispute has the Government been animated by any desire or intention to attack trade unionism in this country. On the contrary, the Government recognizes the value and necessity of trade unionism. Let me say further that if any employers in this community seek to turn what I believe to be the complete defeat of the Marine Cooks’ Union, in the present dispute, into an attack upon trade unionism, or if as a result of its defea’t, they attempt to bring about a position detrimental to trade unionism in this country, the Government, as it is constituted to-day, will set its face most determinedly against any such attempt. It will hold the- scales equally between both parties.
It has been said that those who are supporting this bill know nothing of trade unionism, and therefore are incompetent to deal with a subject such as that to which this bill relates. I wish at the outset to refute that charge. There are on this side of the chamber a number of honorable senators who have had actual experience in trade unions, and many of them have been leaders for a great length of time in the trade union movement. In this connexion I mention Senators Duncan, Foll, Givens, Lynch, Newlands, Plain, Reid, Thomas, Verran, and myself, all sitting on this side, and also Senator Ogden. That makes a total of eleven senators who are supporting this measure, as against six of the Opposition who, I presume, are opposing it. May I put forward my own experience, not in a spirit of egotism, but to show that I have qualifications for speaking with some degree of authority on this subject? I have been a trade unionist since I reached the age of 20 years. I was for a long period the unpaid secretary of my union - the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. I was the unpaid secretary of the Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia, and I was also its president. In addition, I was the president of the Second Labour Conference held in Western Australia. Senators Lynch, Givens, Thomas and Verran, all supporters of the Government, also have records just as long, and as varied as my own in connexion with the trade union movement of this country. These men, therefore, have some knowledge of trade unionism. They know what it is. how it works, and what its constitution is, and .therefore are able to draw upon their practical experience in dealing with a subject such as this.
I come now to the bill itself. I wish to point out in the first place that the Commonwealth Parliament’s powers are limited in respect to legislation of this character, inasmuch as it can deal only with industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. A dispute must legally at any rate be interstate in character before it can intervene, and even then the Commonwealth’s powers are very limited in that it can deal only with the matter by means of conciliation and arbitration. There are in this country, not only trade unionists, but employers who say that it would be better if arbitration were done away with altogether. They appear to think that if we abolished compulsory arbitration there would be no industrial disputes in this country. They ascribe all our industrial evils of the present day to the Arbitration Court, and assume that if the court were abolished those evils would vanish. The Government does not subscribe to that view. It does not profess that the court has been a complete success, but it does say that it has done and is doing valuable work. The Government contends that industrial disputes and problems are bound to arise, and it is for those who advocate the abolition of the court to propose some better system for effectively dealing with these problems. The present system of conciliation and arbitration has become part of our industrial life, and to abolish it without substituting something better, would be to increase rather than to decrease the problems confronting us.
At the present time the membership of the unions working under the awards of the Arbitration Court or under agreements filed in the court, is 693,000. There are 149 unions and 27 employers’ organizations registered under the act. There are 149 awards and agreements filed in the court, and most of these awards and agreements are . working smoothly and giving satisfaction both to employers and employees. These facts should be remembered by . those who criticize the Arbitration Court because it has failed in some instances to prevent strikes and industrial trouble. . The Government therefore does not propose to - abolish compulsory arbitration, but to attempt, in so far as it is able under the Constitution as it stands, to remove some of the difficulties that now exist.
– Those who are opposed to arbitration have not made any practical suggestion in the direction of substituting a better system.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No, they have not made any alternative proposition. In this bill an attempt is made to overcome a most unsatisfactory feature of our industrial legislation, namely the overlapping of Federal and State awards. That is the first important subject with which it deals. This serious difficulty which arises out of the present distribution of Commonwealth and State powers, is one of the problems that would have been effectively dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament if the referendum which we submitted to the people some time ago had been carried. That opportunity having been denied us, it is the people and not the Parliament who are responsible for the continuance of the present overlapping of Federal and State awards, in so far as the Parliament is incompetent to deal with the evil. There are, however, in the bill, various provisions under which it is hoped to remove, so far as possible, this difficulty. The object of these provisions is to ensure that there shall be only one rule in industry, whether that rule be State or Federal. Clause 32 provides that the court before dealing with a dispute shall consider whether it is more desirable that the dispute, or any part of it, should be dealt with by a State court. There is also in clause 29 a provision which makes it possible for a conference to be held between a judge of the Federal Arbitration Court and State industrial authorities. It is impossible for the Government to compel co-operation between these authorities, but this provision at any rate opens the way for such cooperation. Clauses 17, 22 and 26, arc based upon the principle of the supremacy of a Federal award. That is to say, there is now a way in which the difficulties associated withoverlapping awards can be overcome, and that is that where there is a Federal award that award shall be paramount, and where there is only a State award in operation, it shall be recognized.
– Is there anything in the bill to prevent the parties taking advantage of the award which suits them best?
– By means of the provisions to which I have just referred we hope to overcome that trouble. Under the present system, where two awards are in operation, the employers are compelled to obey both awards, except in so far as they are inconsistent. There have been certain judgments, which are illuminating, as to the power of the Federal Court, if it seeks fit to exercise it, to overcome the difficulty to which Senator Robinson has referred. It is hoped that these clauses will strengthen the power of the court in that direction.
Clause 35 is a legislative enactment of the principle laid down by the High Court in Cowburn v. the Glyde Engineering Works (37 C.L.R. page 466), in which a ruling was given that where a Federal and a State award deal with the same matter, the Federal award shall prevail.
From time to time complaints have been made by employers to the effect that there are too many different awards applicable to one industry. For instance, the H. V. McKay Harvester Works, at Sunshine, Victoria, is subject to move than 30 awards. That state of affairs is very embarrassing to industry, and in clause 22 of the bill an attempt is made to overcome it.
I point out that the bill cannot deal with unions generally. Owing to our limited powers, it can deal only with registered organizations. Another salient point is that this bill does not increase penalties, but it does increase the power of the court to enforce penalties.
– It is about time that was done.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes ; there has been considerable criticism concerning a penalty of £1,000, which is provided for in certain cases, but I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that that penalty has been in the act since 1904. It was not introduced by this bill, but was provided for in the original act.
The bill also provides that the court in fixing wages, other than the basic wage, and hours and conditions of work, shall also have regard to the economic effects of its award. The time is quite ripe for that action to be taken, because it is obvious that if arbitration is to remain part of our economic system, it cannot and must not shut its eyes to the economic effect of what it is doing. We have to remember that our primary products are up against the competition of the world, and that if unsound, uneconomic standards are laid down for the secondary industries, which re-act upon the primary industries of Australia, the position will be very serious.
– The right honorable gentleman wishes to substitute starvation for arbitration.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No, that is the very thing we are attempting to avoid. The present system, unless remedied, is likely to bring about starvation. If we set up in Australia uneconomic standards under which our primary products cannot compete in the outside world, it is obvious that we shall bring about a state of starvation in Australia because we are dependent to-day for our bread and butter on the successful sale of our primary products overseas.
The bill provides machinery by which unionists may obtain secret ballots. This proposal has been responsible for a considerable amount of satire and criticism from members of the Labour party, but I want to mention two recent incidents to demonstrate that unionists themselves have asked for the right to hold secret ballots. The first was described in the following paragraph which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 26th April, 1928 : -
” Rank and File “Victory..
The ballot for the election of officials of the
Breadcarters’ Union, conducted under the supervision of the Department of Labour and Industry, resulted in an overwhelming victory for the “ rank and file “ candidates, who won all the important executive positions in the union. Under direction of the Industrial Court the counting of the ballot was continuous, and as a result, the returning officer andhis staff were obliged to count throughout Tuesday night. They were locked up in the Trades Hall, and meals were supplied to them. The counting commenced about 4 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, and continued for 26 hours. There were 31 candidates for the IS positions, and about 900 votes were recorded. All the present officials were defeated. The new officials of the union will be: -
Then the paragraph gives their names. The history of the trouble in the Breadcarters’ Union is very informative. The officials of the union were ignoring and defying resolutions passed by the members. The members attempted by resolution to remove them from office, but the officers, having the books in their possession, refused to recognize the rank and file. The latter thereupon held a separate meeting and approached the Department of Labour and Industry. Eventually they applied to the court for an injunction against the officials. This injunction was granted and subsequently by order of the court a secret ballot of the members of the union was conducted by the Department of Labour and Industry and resulted in an overwhelming victory for the rank and file candidates, who won all the more important executive positions in the union.
Let me refer now to an even more recent incident. We are well aware that the marine cooks were called out on strike, not by resolution of the members of the union, but by their executive. It is reported in the Brisbane press that the Brisbane branch of the Marine Cooks’ Union carried a resolution demanding that a secret ballot should be taken as to whether or not the dispute was to continue and that when the resolution was forwarded to the executive in Sydney it was calmly ignored.
The bill is not aimed at any union that is carrying out its duties in a lawful manner, or acting in accordance with the principles of arbitration. It is aimed, so far as its penal provisions are concerned, .at organizations that defy the law - at those who stand for direct action and refuse to allow their members a voice in their own affairs.
The opposition to this measure has been largely worked up by paid trade union secretaries and organisers; the response of the rank and file to their appeal has been singularly absent. When the bill was introduced in another place, a number of these gentlemen saw in it a menaceto their power. They realized that with its enactment their autocratic control over the organizations would pass away, and so they hurriedly got together and compiled what they described as an appeal to the rank and file. This appeal was issued in pamphlet form with the following title : -
No Compromise: Organize against Bruce’s Anti-Trade Union Bill. Price Id.
All sorts of misrepresentations and false statements are to be found in that pamphlet, issued for the benefit of the rank and file, at a cost of Id. a copy; but it contains not one argument against the secret ballot. The gentlemen who compiled it knew very well that the rank and file were not opposed to the secret ballot, and so, instead .of attacking the principle, they preferred to issue false statements and to twist and misrepresent the meaning of the provisions of the bill. Their hope was so to alarm the rank and file of labour that their influence might be used against the measure. I shall quote a few paragraphs from this leaflet to show what has been evolved by its authors. On page 2 we find the following: -
If Bruce wants powers to deal with trade unions, he only refers to “ organizations ‘ The employers know what he means. So do the judge, the police, and the military.
If he wants to smash the unions, he asks for powers to “ dissolve “ the organizations.
If he wants the power to imprison or shoot the workers, he asks for “ plenary powers “ to deal with them.
That is how these “impartial” people, dissecting the bill for the benefit of trade unions, opened their attack.
The most fundamental and elementary right of the workers in every civilized country is the right not to work on terms repugnant to them.
This elementary right has been won by over a century of working class struggle and sacrifice. To take away’ this right is to subject the workers to the grossest form of wage slavery.
Why has the Labour party, since 1904, been supporting the Commonwealth Arbitration Act? It takes away from the workers the right to strike, just as every Arbitration Act passed by State Parliaments does. Actually the right has not been taken from the workers. They voluntarily surrendered it, knowing that they were to get in its place something far more valuable to them - the right to have their claims adjudicated by an impartial tribunal.
The leaflet goes on to urge that this bill contains certain provisions that are against the interests of the workers. Here is one statement -
Part II. - Prohibition of lockouts and strikes in relation to industrial disputes - 6. (1) No person or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the nature of a lockout or strike, or continue any lockout or strike.
Penalty: In the case of an organization or employer, £1,000; in the case of any other person, £50.
Although these people knew perfectly well that this penalty had been in the Arbitration Act since it was first enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament. They issued to the rank and file a statement that would make any one who did not know the facts believe that this was a provision introduced by the Bruce-Page Government for the first time.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The only penalty is that of being found out. Dealing with “ drastic powers,” the pamphlet proceeds -
Bruce’s discredited referendum proposals, which the people of Australia rejected in 1926, aimed at controlling the trade unions in the interests of the employers.
The present Arbitration Bill seeks to do the same, and is in consequence a violation of the expressed will of the people of this country.
The central feature of Bruce’s 1928 referendum proposals was the power to disband trade unions.
Yet the Government’s referendum proposals referred to had the support of the Labour party in both chambers of the Federal Parliament. We can assume, therefore, that if the referendum proposals of the Government contained what this pamphlet says they contained, the Labour party was also seeking power to disband trade unions. What was true of the Bruce-Page Government in regard to those proposals, can be claimed to have been equally true of the Labour party in the Federal Parliament when the Referendum Bill was passed! This pamphlet goes on to deal further with the bill and states -
Therefore, the Nationalist Federal Government has provided in its scab bill that it will not permit a trade union to adopt any rule of which it does not approve.
That is misrepresentation of the grossest nature. Honorable senators know quite well that the Government has no control whatever over the rules of a union. The court alone can exercise that control, and then only when the rules are in conflict with the Arbitration Act or any award. But this is an attempt to make the unionists believe that under this bill the Government itself is taking power to control the unions. It is doing nothing of the kind.
On page 8 of the pamphlet i3 a paragraph dealing with coercion, and certain clauses of the bill are quoted. These are the clauses under which every union is held liable to keep a proper record of the names of its members and their addresses. The pamphlet alleges that this is being done in order that the National party may use this information in its political campaigns, and in order that the employers in their attacks upon standards of living, may know who are members of the unions and where they live. Obviously, if we are to have an Arbitration Act, and the unions are to be registered under that act, they must keep proper records. The court must know who is and who is not a member of a union. It must know whether a man is a genuine or a bogus member. That provision is in the interests of the organizations; it will prevent the formation of bogus unions. Yet in their desire to make out a case against the bill, the authors of the pamphlet drag in the argument that it is an attack on the unions.
There is also a reference to ten allegedly “ savage “ penalties. Can honorable senators believe that of the ten statements published regarding the alleged “ savage “ penalties, seven are totally incorrect, and the other three arepartially incorrect?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Seven of the statements are complete lies, and the remaining three are half lies. That is not a bad average. Then there is a paragraph headed - “ Criminal to declare Goods ‘ Black’ “. Under this heading the pamphlet states -
In Australia, under the Bruce bill, this is a “crime” punishable with heavy penalties. Bead this : -
All books, papers and documents produced in evidence before the court may be inspected by the court and by such of the parties as the court allows. 86a. No person shall -
by violence to the person or property of another person prevent, or endeavour to prevent, any person from offering or accepting employment or working in accordance with the terms of an award or order of the court.
The comment that the pamphlet contains on those proposed new sections is -
So that if any trade union or trade unionist declares any non-union undertaking “ black,” they can be mulcted with heavy, fines under this bill.
They appear to think that there are people in this country who should be permitted to do violence to the person or property of other persons. Apparently they would allow criminals a free hand; an individual who does violence to the person of another is certainly a criminal.
Yet these people say that such a mau should not be punished. This is how the pamphlet sums up the bill -
To sum the Bruce Coercion Bill in plain English, it means:
Taking away from the trade unions the elementary right to strike.
That was taken away in 1904.
That is an absolute lie. They are to work on the terms laid down by the court, and the court is to protect them so that the “ bosses “ will not have the right to dictate the terms of their employment -
There is no such provision in the bill.
There is no provision in the bill for any control of the affairs of the unions, except by the members themselves.
That paragraph supplies its own answer.
Breaking them financially! This bill, for the first time, will give them the same protection that friendly societies enjoy to-day and have had for years. The Registrar of the Court will have some oversight over the expenditure of the members’ funds; the time is not unripe for that.
Take an illustration from British experience. I shall give particulars of the finances of the Durham Miners’” Union in 1926, and I think that this could be duplicated in Australia if the union returns were filed as they are in Great Britain. This union had 147,740 members, and the revenue was £401,294. It paid no sick benefits, but it disbursed funeral benefits to the extent of £28,322 and other benefits amounting to £3,064, making a total of £31,386. But it spent on “trade disputes “ - a term that covers a multitude of sins - the sum of £352,364. Salaries to officers amounted to £6,497 ; expenses of committees, £603; political expenses £6,080, and other working expenses £12,962, making a total of £26,141. So that it cost £26,000 to pay benefits amounting to £31,000. It finished the year with over £10,000 less than the amount with which it started ! These particulars are taken from the report of the Registry of Friendly Societies for the year 1925-26.
I have referred to the fact that the leaflet from which I have quoted emanated from paid secretaries and paid organizers who feel that the bill is an attack on them and the privileged position they hold and have occupied. As an old trade unionist I want to say a few words about the change that has come over trade unionism in the last twenty years. That change has been due to two factors. The Arbitration Act, for one thing, has been one of the greatest organizing factors that trade unionism has ever had. Because arbitration could not work without the trade unions, the Arbitration Act has resulted in bringing men into the unions, in encouraging the growth of unions, and in the formation; of new unions. The growth of unionism in Australia is contemporaneous with the arbitration legislation of the Commonwealth and the States.
But contemporaneously with that tremendous growth another influence has been developing. In the days before the Arbitration Act and before the great growth in the membership of trade unions, the large majority of these organizations were controlled and directed, so far as their officers were concerned, by unpaid, honorary officials, who gave their time and efforts voluntarily, and carried on at the same time their ordinary avocations. I was such an officer; I went through that experience. In those days there was no such thing as preference to unionists ; there was rather a preference against unionists. But, at that time, a man who joined a union did so only because he was convinced of the essential rightness of trade unionism and its necessity in his particular trade or calling. He was prepared to make a sacrifice on behalf of those working in his trade or calling; but, when the Arbitration Act was passed, and the principle of preference to unionists was adopted, thousands of men entered the unions, not because they believed in the principles of trade unionism, but simply because it paid them to become trade unionists.
Then came the days of the paid secretaries and the paid organizers, and, -with preference to unionists, the principle was introduced that struck the most deadly blow at the control of unions by the members themselves. I am speaking as one who believed in the principle of preference to unionists before I had had experience of it. I had practical experience of it in administering the Defence Department. Let me tell honorable senators how it operated. I shall give my experience of it in that department during the time of a Labour Government. That Government decided on preference to unionists in government employment, and very soon that was crystallized by decisions of the party into this: When persons were required to work at a government factory, or on any government work, application had to be made to the headquarters of the union, and the union was asked to supply the member. That put into the hands of the paid secretaries and the paid organizers a whip which could be wielded over the members of the unions. It came to this, that any member of a union who dared to make himself unpleasant to a secretary or organizer could not get a Government job. A tremendous power was placed in the hands of the paid officials when they were given control over not only the unions, but also the very lives of the members. From that day the rule of the paid secretary and the paid organizer came into being in Australia, and that power has been increasing until to-day these men rule many of the unions with an iron hand.
The dispute that is now in progress in Australia is the work of the paid secretary only. The members of the union have never had a voice in it, and to-day they are deprived of any voice. That is where this growth of unionism has led us. There are many things in life in respect of which success does more to damage and destroy us than does adversity. The evil that has developed in trade unionism has resulted from its success. In the days of its adversity the members controlled the unions. I never dared speak in the name of my union unless I was authorized to do so by a resolution’ of the union. I have often had to issue statements by the union with which I did not agree; but, as I was the unpaid servant of the organization, I had to do as I was told. That position has now been entirely reversed. The paid servant of the. union to-day issues statements and instructions to the members, and these have to be obeyed.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.So much for the secret ballot.
I come now to the present position of the Labour party in Australia towards arbitration. I take it that I am justified in assuming that when the party makes a pre-selection of candidates for elec1 ti on to the Commonwealth Parliament, statements made by those candidates with regard to arbitration, indicate precisely the attitude of the party in Australia on that subject. Recently,’ there was a Labour pre-selection ballot for Senate candidates in New South Wales, and ex-Senator Arthur Rae was placed among the candidates at the head of the poll. His views on arbitration, I therefore assume; are endorsed by the majority of those who took part in the ballot, and they correctly define the attitude of the party on arbitration. I have in my hand a copy of a journal entitled The Pan-Pacific Worker, the official organ of the PanPacific Trade Union Secretariat, Australian edition, published on 2nd April,. 1928. In it is to be found the following message to workers of the Pacific countries over the signatures of Mr. W.’ J. Duggan, president, and Mr. C. Croft, general secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions: -
MESSAGE TO WORKERS OF THE PACIFIC COUNTRIES.
The opportunity ‘offered at this juncture to deliver a message to all workers nf the countries bordering the Pacific is indeed an honour, and our message is: -
A sincere wish that the day is not far distant when we shall be closely allied with each other, not only in order to prevent devastating imperialist and capitalist Avars, but bound together in a solid working class phalanx, to ensure to all workers the full product of their labour. ( Signed )
J. Duggan (President, A.C.T.U.)
Croft (General Secretary, A.C.T.U.)
Among articles in the same publication is one written by ex-Senator Arthur Rae entitled, “ The Curse of Compulsory Arbitration “.
On page 17 Mr. Rae states -
It is impossible to estimate the moral harm which has been done to the Australian working class” by its hasty and ill-considered acceptance of arbitration as the solution of labour’s problems.
Further on in the article Mr. Rae discusses the surrender of trade union organizations of the right to strike, under a system of compulsory arbitration. His observations make it clear that when Labour accepted arbitration it did surrender its right. This is what Mr. Rae says -
Secondly, by surrendering the right to strike, it opened the door for reactionary Nationalists and renegade Labourites to impose all kinds of barbarous penalties upon those guilty of striking or of aiding or sympathizing with strikers.
I am entitled to assume that in this article Mr. Rae is expressing the view of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. That he has the confidence of the workers of New South Wales is evident from the fact that he has secured the selection and will be one of the endorsed Labour candidates at the next Senate election in that State. We may take it, therefore, that his statement on arbitration represents the last word of the Australian Labour party on that subject.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Does the Leader of the Opposition repudiate ex-Senator Rae?
The bill contains many provisions which, I suggest, may better be examined in committee. In the view of the Government it is an attempt to ensure industrial peace so far as the limits of the Constitution will permit. It has not been introduced with any desire to interfere with or damage in any way legitimate trade unionism in Australia. The Government’s purpose in submitting it is to offer proposals that will put an end to that bitter fratricidal strife, which is one of the greatest obstacles to progress, and to see that full protection is given to the workers peaceably to pursue their various avocations. The Government hopes also that the bill will be instrumental in bringing about a better spirit of co-operation, so that those who preach class war and class hatred will be relegated to other countries to which they rightly belong. There is no room in Australia for people who preach that kind of doctrine. In this country we all should have the common objective of cooperation, assistance and unity. The Government believes that this bill will be a step towards that end.
– I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech delivered by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) in moving the second-reading of this bill. Before I enter upon the discussion of its provisions, I should like to reply briefly to one or two statements made by that right honorable gentleman. He referred to the industrial trouble on the waterfront, which has been in existence for some time, and suggested that it was one reason for the introduction of this measure. Apparently the Minister forgot that the bill was introduced in another place long before the present industrial trouble began, so it is idle for him now to attempt to show that the maritime dispute arising out of the trouble with the marine cooks is responsible for the measure.
At this stage 1 do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of that dispute, except to say that there is a definite movement now for settlement, and I hope that it will be successful. I must say, however, that the action of the
Government within the last few days in issuing a proclamation under the Crimes Act is not calculated to help in that direction. Other means could have been found to bring the disputants together.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should have been done?
– The course suggested by the leader of my party in another place should have been adopted. The Government should have invited the Arbitration Court to intervene, and by means of a compulsory conference have sought to put an end to the dispute. The issue of a proclamation under the Crimes Act will have a far-reaching effect upon all concerned.
The Leader of the Senate has emphasized the importance of the provisions in the bill dealing with a secret ballot of members of trade unions. Already members of such organizations have that right, and sometimes it is exercised. I warn the Government that if this bill becomes law control of trade union affairs in certain circumstances will be in the hands of the Arbitration Court, and for this reason the measure is causing a feeling of resentment among members of industrial organizations. The trade union movement has made extraordinary progress during the last two decades. I am satisfied that the Government, realizing the strength of organized labour, is now seeking by means of this, bill to smash its power.
SenatorReid. - In what way?
– I shall deal with that point later. The Leader of the Senate quoted statements made by exSenator Rae, indicating that that gentleman is opposed to our present system of arbitration, and he charged me with being afraid to repudiate those statements. I do repudiate them.
– Does the honorable senator repudiate exSenator Rae?
– I repudiate his statements as regards the attitude of the Labour party towards arbitration.
– Do not forget that ex-Senator Rae is a selected labour candidate for the next Senate election in New South Wales.
– I care not what he is or what he will do. I say most emphatically the Australian Labour
Party stands for arbitration to-day, as it did when the first Arbitration Bill was introduced in 1904. The Leader of the Senate must be hard put to it to find an argument in favour of this measure when he makes so much of a statement of ex-Senator Bae. He knows perfectly well - no man better - that the party to which I have the honour to belong is today steadfastly pledged to the system of arbitration.
– Then why does it endorse an opponent of the system of arbitration.
– The Minister is only trying to sidestep the issue, by suggesting that the Labour party has renunciated or repudiated arbitration. We oppose this bill because we see in it a direct and, indeed, a devilish attempt to cripple or smash arbitration machinery that has been working well for so many years. No one can deny that arbitration has done a vast . amount of good in both Federal and State industrial spheres. We on this side wish to see the system perpetuated and improved. Certainly we do not wish to have it destroyed.
The Leader of the Senate has attempted to show that opposition to the bill comes not from the trade unionists generally, but from the leaders of trade union organizations. I tell him most emphatically that the rank and file of trade unionists in -Australia are deeply stirred and incensed at what they consider is an attack upon the system of arbitration. In my own State, organization after organization is protesting against the bill. These protests have been forwarded to members in both Houses, to members of the Ministry, and especially to the originator of the bill, the AttorneyGeneral. So much for some of the statements of the Leader of the Senate.
In 1925, while we were in the throes of a general election, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in his policy speech said that one of the greatest needs of Australia was industrial peace. No person can cavil at that statement. Industrial peace is what every country needs. But Ave have to discover the best means of securing and preserving it. We on this side pin our faith to the system of arbitration. Notwithstanding that statement of the Prime
Minister, the first act of the Government after its return to power was to place upon the statute-book an amendment of the Crimes Act, in the belief that by that means industrial peace would be obtained and preserved. During the election campaign the Prime Minister and his lieutenants in this and another chamber made the statement from every platform from which they spoke, that there was in existence in this country organizations which should be disbanded, because they were a menace to the Constitution under which we live, and also that there were men who should be deported and whom the Government would deport if it were returned to power, because they were instrumental in fostering industrial unrest. They said that we were sitting on the brink of a volcano which might erupt at any time, and that revolution, red and bloody, would stalk throughout this fair land unless they were given a further opportunity to control its destinies. The people were worked into such a state of political hysteria that they were stampeded into voting the present Government, back into office.
What have they done since that time? The right honorable gentleman who leads this Senate himself stated in Western Australia that those organizations would be disbanded, and that any man who was a menace to our Constitution and our free institutions, would be deported. Will he now mention an organization which has been disbanded, or an individual who has been deported? There is not one. That plainly proves one of two things: either the statements which were made to the people during the last election were false, or this Government has shirked its duty. If we were in the danger that was then pictured, we should have been given some evidence of an attempt by the Government to ridus of it. The men who, according to them, are dangerous citizens, are still in Australia. I am fortified in the opinion that the members of the Cabinet and their supporters were not sincere, and that they knowingly made false statements so as to work up a state of political hysteria. The Crimes Act, as amended, has been upon the statute-book for three years. Can any honorable senator say what it has done or is capable of doing?
– That was shown in Brisbane a fortnight ago.
– Is any honorable senator prepared to argue that, if the provisions of that act were challenged in the High Court of Australia, it would not meet a fate similar to that which befell another measure that was passed by this Government.
– An appeal has been made to the High Court.
– If the matter is sub judice I shall say nothing more about it.
Recently an effort was made by the Prime Minister to convene a conference representative of both sides in industry, with a view to discovering means for preserving industrial peace; yet, while those negotiations were proceeding, this legislation, which is most provocative in its nature, lay upon the table of another place. The Government was in the position that if the endeavour to secure industrial peace by a round table conference was not successful, it could still fall back upon this coercive measure. That leads me to the conclusion that its suggestion of a peace conference was not a genuine proposal to secure industrial peace.
Clause 48 of the bill, as originally introduced in another place, indicated the partisan attitude that the Government was adopting. It made provision for the winding-up of the affairs of an organization, and gave to the Arbitration Court the power to confiscate its funds and vest its property in another voluntary organization. The only way in which I can describe such a proposal is to say that it is despicable. Applying the term that is most widely understood in the industrial arena, the proposal was to vest those funds and that property in a “ scab “ organization.
– The honorable senator should use a better term than that.
– There are occasions when it is as well to use the most expressive term, consistent with the observance of parliamentary etiquette.
THE PRESIDENT (Senator Sir John Newlands). - The .honorable senator may not use the most expressive term, unless it conforms to the Standing Orders of the Senate. I ask him not to make use of offensive expressions.
– I have not the slightest intention of coming into conflict with you, sir. I shall not use any term that is considered offensive. But all honorable senators know perfectly well that the term I have used is a colloquialism in Australia. It is true that the proposal to which I have referred was withdrawn, but for what reason? Because of the combined criticism of the trade union organizations and honorable members of the .Labour party in another place, the Government beat a strategic retreat, and that particularly obnoxious proposal does not now find a place in the bill.
Some little time ago the Prime Minister stated definitely that there should be only one political party in Australia. A close scrutiny of the measure we are now considering suggests that it is designed to bring about that condition of affairs, because it meets only one side of the question-.
– The honorable senator has just admitted that the Government withdrew a clause which was repugnant to trade unionists.
– That is so. But there are still within the four corners of the bill, obnoxious proposals which, if they become law, will operate only against the employees and in favour of the employers. The act, which this bill purports to amend, can do everything that the Leader of the Senate has said the Government is anxious to do. One result of the passage of this legislation will be further delays in the hearing of cases before the Arbitration Court. The delays which have occurred in the past have been a source of considerable danger.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– In many instances industrial leaders have considerable difficulty in restraining the members of organizations from ceasing work when they become restless on account of the delay which occurs between the time when a plaint is lodged and the case is heard before the court.
– That is an argument in favour of conciliation?
– With more conciliation and less arbitration there would be fewer industrial disputes. The Government should have appointed more conciliation commissioners instead of increasing the number of judges, particularly when included in that number is one who has . well-known political tendencies. Such actions do not tend to make our arbitration system popular, or to preserve industrial peace.
The bill is onesided in character, and reminds me of- a story broadcast by a comedian, who when referring to his domestic troubles said that in his house there were always two sides to every question - his wife’s and that of his wife’s mother. In connexion with this bill there are also two sides - that of the Government and that of the employers, and both are against the employee all the time.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and other members of the Government are continually blaming the workers for industrial trouble which sometimes arises, but they do not blame the employers, many of whom are often guilty of evading both the letter and the spirit of industrial awards. On numerous occasions men are deprived of their employment shortly before the Christmas season and are then not paid for holidays, although the awards provide that they shall be paid. We do not hear of the employers ever being blamed for action of this kind.
It is 24 years since the arbitration system was first introduced, and every one will agree that during that period our arbitration legislation has been of considerable benefit to the workers and ‘the community generally. We have to thank organized labour for the benefits gained by the employees. As a result of its efforts, conditions generally have been more favorable. If it had not been for organized labour we would not have had an arbitration system to-day. In the days when there .was freedom of contract, conditions of slavery existed and the workers of Australia realized the necessity for organizing.
– Some of our leading men in Australia are the products of that system.
– The workers of Australia realized the necessity to organize in order to compete with the organizations controlled by the employing class. I venture to say that the liberty of the subject and the freedom of speech so often referred to are being attacked if not altogether removed by this bill.
It provides another long list of offences and, in fact, establishes a new criminal code as far as the workers are concerned. In one portion of the bill it is provided that a person criticizing an award of the court or any judge of the court shall be liable to a penalty. We are to establish a court consisting of four or five judges, who, according to the bill are to be sacrosanct. Any man or woman who dares to criticize the action of a judge of the court, or any awards of the court, will be liable to a heavy penalty. It is useless to apply force. For a while it may prevail, but it always leaves behind a feeling of anger and discontent. A system in which force is applied, causes wounds which reopen at the slightest irritation. In his second-reading speech the Minister emphasized the point that, in hi& opinion, only trade union leaders objected to this measure. I wish to inform the right honorable gentleman that almost every labour organization in Australia has passed resolutions condemning the bill. The object of an amending arbitration bill should be to simplify and cheapen arbitration proceedings as well as to facilitate the hearing of plaints. If more conciliation commissions were appointed there would be less industrial trouble.
– This bill extends the conciliatory powers provided in the present act.
– The act that is being amended provides for the appointment of conciliation commissioners and although those provisions have been in operation for two or three years, only one conciliation commissioner has been appointed.
– And he has done good work.
-Yes, Mr. Stewart has done wonderful work. But when Mr. Stewart was appointed exSenator Drake-Brockman, who is an avowed partisan in every sense of the word, was also appointed an arbitration judge. He was an ex-president of the Employers’ Federation, and representative of the Government at Geneva, and also acted as Government Whip in this chamber. All his speeches were directed against the workers.
– His awards have been sympathetic towards the workers.
– What would have happened if a Labour government had been in power and had appointed the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who is a lawyer, to the Arbitration Court bench? Honorable senators oposite would have gone mad with fury and said it was a partisan appointment.
– What about Mr. Dwyer’s appointment in Western Australia ?
– They are not in the same category. Mr. Dwyer was a member of the Western Australian State Parliament for a period; but he was never the president of the Employers’ Federation. The appointment of partisans to positions of this kind is not arbitration but aggravation.
– The bill makes further provision for the appointment of conciliation commissioners and therefore should be acceptable to the honorable senator.
– The present act gives all the power necessary for the appointment of conciliation commissioners. The Prime Minister has said that industrial peace depends Upon ensuring a fair wage and reasonable conditions of comfort foi- the workers and those dependent upon them. I do hot think the measure will have that, effect.
It is provided in clause 2’2 that before making any award or certifying any agreement the court shall take into consideration the probable economic effect of the agreement or the award upon the community in general and its probable economic effect upon the industry or industries concerned. Thi’s is a new phase of arbitration. The position of the worker is evidently to be subject to the economic conditions of the industry or of the country. The worker has only his labour to offer, the payment for which is to be subject to economic conditions. This may lead to the payment of starvation wages. The economic effect of customs duties on certain commodities imported into this country is not considered. Is there any other arbitration system in existence which has been established for the prevention and settlement, of disputes under which the economic conditions are taken into consideration in fixing wages. Such a provision in the bill makes the system a farce. Nothing is said in the bill about ascertaining the economic effect on the community and industry of bad and inefficient management, or the use of obsolete and antiquated machinery. If we are to have a survey of the economic field, business management should be examined to ascertain if those in control of industry are competent, if their overhead expenses are the result of inefficiency, or if the plant installed enables full value to be secured from the labour employed.
During the election the Prime Minister was very much concerned about the workers of Australia getting a fair wage, yet in this measure he is agreeable to the workers getting what the court might consider a fair wage after taking into consideration the economic effect it will have on industry. In other words, he places the welfare of the industry before that of the workers. The workers really form the community of Australia. Yet the economic survey proposed is to be conducted in the interests of the employers only, and at the expense of the employees.
While it is admitted that the condition of workers in Australia is better than that of workers in many other countries, they have yet a long way to go to get the conditions of labour they should enjoy, and an adequate remuneration for their labour. We cannot overlook the psychological side of human affairs. Natural forces have to be taken into consideration. We must not legislate for one side only. Since our arbitration system has been in existence it has been opposed by a large number of employers ; in fact, I think I can safely say that practically the whole of the opposition to the system has come from employers, and not from employees. Although a great body of employers loyally supports the system, and adheres to awards of the court, there are many others who are bitterly opposed to it. Some of them do not scruple to avail themselves of every conceivable opportunity to evade the spirit and the letter of awards. Quite recently a pamphlet was issued by the Metal Trade Employers’ Association denouncing arbitration, and advocating a return to the “ good old days “ of freedom of contract, and the survival of the fittest. The pamphlet says -
The- best plan would be to abolish the industrial arbitration system, which has degenerated into an instrument for the oppression of employers and the hampering of industry.
The poor employers ! But are they in a bad way? We have only to look at their balance-sheets to see what profits they are making. We have only to look at their homes to see the extent to which they are oppressed. Mr. Bruce, in the policy speech he delivered in 1925, said that during his term of office Australia had progressed at home and abroad, and that its trade internally and externally had expanded; but quite recently, when trying to create an atmosphere for the introduction of this bil’., he said that on account of strikes Australia had got into a deplorable condition. If one of these statements is right the other must be wrong. If, during the Prime Minister’s term of office, Australia has progressed, not only at home but also abroad, there cannot have been that degree of industrial unrest and strikes which he alleges has justified the introduction of this coercive arbitration bill. Australia is not alone in having strikes. Industrial unrest is widespread throughout the world. In each of the other component parts of the British Empire there have been strikes greater in number and more injurious in character than we have had in Australia. It is useless for the right honorable the Prime Minister to try to make it appear that Australia is the home of industrial unrest. [Extension of time granted.] From 1919-20 to 1925-26 the value of production in Australia has increased from £92,330,000 to £143,256,000, and the value of production per head of the mean population from £17 8s. 2d. to £23 18s. 2d. There is no evidence of going slow in those figures. The pamphlet issued by the Metal Trade Employers’ Association also says -
Industrial arbitration lias a beautiful ideal and a righteous one. It was originally evolved to protect the workers who were unable economically to protect themselves. It has done so. It has overdone it. It has pampered them, so that they have become bowelless tyrants and unmitigated ruffians towards the industries from which they draw their sustenance.
The pamphlet concludes -
Away with it, and let us get back to the clear, open economic ring.
Yes, the clear open market where every man had to scramble to get the best price he could for his labour ! These are the days the employers want, and which will be brought about if this bill becomes law. The reason which has actuated those who have introduced it, and those who are supporting it, is the restoration of those “good old days.” Can any honorable senator say that the workers of Australia are getting more than they earn, or any greater comfort in their homes than they are entitled to have? T do not want to see the present conditions of employment destroyed; but I am afraid that this bill will tend in that direction. Because the workers, banded together within the law, endeavour from time to time to improve their conditions of employment, and obtain increased remuneration, they are branded by such employers as those connected with the metal trade as tyrants. Yet no word of complaint is heard against those employers for causing industrial unrest; at all times and under all conditions the blame is laid at the door of the Australian workers.
I have referred to the general effects of the bill ; but it will be more convenient to discuss its details in the committee stage. I notice that clause 7 refers, among other matters, to sectional strikes. To my mind, this is a most amazing clause. It provides that, in the event of a strike occurring in a section of an industry, an employer may apply to the court for an order declaring that a strike exists. On the other hand, if there is a lockout in a section of an industry, the workers may apply for a similar order. I have never heard of any body of employees asking for an order declaring the existence of a lockout ; but I have frequently heard employers complaining about strikes. I claim this to he a one-sided provision that will operate against the workers only. It represents an effort by the Government to put increased power into the hands of the employers to crush the workers. Let me assume that a strike has occurred in a factory - a section of an industry. That factory may employ 5,000 men. If 100 of those men have gone out on strike, the employer, in order to bring them to heel, may apply to’ the court for an order that a strike exists, and that gives him legal authority to lockout the remaining 4,900 employees. That position could arise not only in connexion with a factory employing 4,000 or 5,000 men, but it could also affect the whole of an industry in which there might be 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 employees. The bill provides for the legalization of a lockout.
– Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander !
– But we are told that the bill has been brought down for the purpose of preserving industrial peace. The most important purpose of our arbitration laws is not the settlement of disputes, but their prevention. I shall deal more fully with this clause” in committee, because I regard it as an iniquitous proposal.
The next clause to which I shall refer relates to penalties. It is true, as the Leader of the Senate has said, that penalties are provided for in the principal act. Clause 8 refers to organizations of employers or employees ordering or advising men to offer or accept employment. If an organization retains an officer or member who is found guilty of an offence under this clause, it may be fined £1,000. So far, so good. This also applies to officers of branches of organizations. Further, it is provided that the fine may be reduced if the organization can show that it was not responsible for the offence. If the organization removes from’ office and expels an officer who has been guilty of an. offence, the fine may be reduced to £100 ; but if the offender is re-admitted within twelve months the fine may be in creased to £1,000. A vendetta is put into operation so far as that’ officer is concerned. Clause 10 makes the organization liable up to £50 for strike penalties that may be imposed on an officer of the organization. That means that a union will be liable for the payment, notwithstanding the fact that the officer may have acted in contravention of orders from head-quarters. The more I peruse the clause the more iniquitous it appears to me to be. The board of management of a Federal organization with head-quarters, say, in Melbourne, might give strict orders to a. branch of the organization to do certain things; yet under this clause the organization would be penalized for the offence of a branch or an officer of a branch, irrespective of whether the central body had given orders to the contrary.
– Any company is liable for the mistakes of its servants.
– But I contend that the clause is inequitable.
One of the main clauses is that relating to secret ballots. To the principle of the secret ballot none of us objects. As I have already said, the organizations take secret ballots. I instance the Amalgamated Society of Engineers.
– Do they always take them before they strike?
– The rules provide for it; but the provisions of this clause are somewhat staggering. On the application of ten men the court may order the taking of a secret ballot. They may apply either singly or together, and they would have power, under this clause, to put a union, even if it had 100,000 members, to the expense of holding a secret ballot.
If the union refused to take this ballot at the behest of the ten men, they could go to court, and the court could authorize that the ballot be taken under the supervision of its own officers.
– The organization is not to be reimbursed for the expense incurred in the taking of the ballot.
– I am coming to that point. The judge can refuse to reveal the names of the ten men. If the court exercises the authority conferred under this clause - and I have no doubt that it will - then, after the ballot has been taken, it will not order that the Government shall pay the cost of the ballot, but that cost will have to be defrayed by the organization. I can see that, in certain instances, the cost of secret ballots would cripple unions financially. It is proposed to give ten men, perhaps malcontents, full control over the policy, and almost over the funds, of an organization. I invite the closest scrutiny of this clause.
– The ten men could not gain control of it, unless the union had only nineteen members.
– But the Minister will not deny that ten members of an organization comprising 100,000 members could apply for a ballot, and the court could order that it be taken. Yet the names of the ten men would be kept secret. The members of the organization’ may vote against a strike resolution; but if they vote for a strike they are liable to certain penalties. Again, when a dispute is actually before the court, ten men can request that a ballot be taken to determine the matter in dispute, even while the machinery of the court is in operation.
– They cannot determine the matter in dispute: the judge has to do that.
– They may apply for a ballot during the hearing of the dispute, and the court may order that the ballot be taken. If the court does that, it means that the trouble is prolonged ; that the wheels of industry are to remain stationary. If ten malcontents in a huge organization of workers can bring about all that trouble I have a right to say that the bill will not be conducive to industrial peace but will have the opposite effect. I warn the Government that of all the clauses in the bill, the secret ballot provisions are the most dangerous, and will, if passed, practically wreck our arbitration machinery.
– The workers like this provision.
– I have already said that almost every labour organization in Australia has condemned the bill, lock, stock and barrel.
– But not the great body of the workers.
– The honorable senator has a better knowledge of wool than of the workers. If the bill is passed in its present form, and if a secret ballot is ordered of members of a trade union in respect of any particular matter, how will the Government compel the men to vote?
– There are no provisions for compulsory voting at such ballots.
– That is so. Neither is there a provision to prevent men, if they do not approve of the ballot, from casting informal votes, in that way defeating the object ofthe ballot itself. Proposed new section 56f . provides that any person counselling another not to vote will be guilty of an offence, and liable to a fine of £50. As I have stated already, the bill establishes an entirely new criminal code. If, as might easily happen, trade unionists become incensed at what they regard an interference with their domestic affairs, and advise one another not to vote at a secret ballot, what will happen? Does the Government propose to fine or- imprison every member of an organization?
– The honorable senator is setting up “ cockshies “ for the purpose of knocking them down again.
– I tell the honorable senator that I have given this bill very careful study, and from my personal experience in the industrial world, I realize that it contains provisions that will do much to break down our present arbitration system.
– Where has the honorable senator had experience in the industrial world?
– In Australia, and in the land from which the honorable senator himself came to Australia. Senator Pearce has told us something ofhis experience in trade unionism. He said that he was a member of a trade union either, at or shortly after, his twentieth birthday. I became a member of a trade union when I was only sixteen years of age. However, that is apart from ‘ the question at issue. I repeat, that the provisions dealing with a secret ballot will do much to break down our arbitration machinery, because they are provocative and coercive in the extreme.
I have reviewed at some length, the principal features of this measure. I regret that it has been brought before the Senate. I presume, of course, that it will be passed, because the Government has the numbers. Although the bill was under consideration in another place for about four weeks, we are expected to pass it at short notice. The Government, I have no doubt, relies upon the submissive majority which it has in this chamber to give it its imprimatur. I was hoping, however, that in the course of our legislative duties, we, who are the representatives of the people, would have endeavoured to improve our present system of arbitration in the direction of making the path to the court cheaper, and more direct, and also in the direction of making the court the final arbiter in industrial disputes. This bill will not achieve that purpose. On the contrary, it will put back the hands of the industrial clock. For these reasons, among many others which I could advance, but which I will reserve for the committee stages, I shall strongly oppose the second reading of the measure. I hope that it will be rejected.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) who has just resumed his seat, has stated that the bill will set back the industrial clock. For that reason he asks us to reject it. For exactly the opposite reason I ask honorable senators to support it, to keep the clock from being stopped. No one can deny that the workers in Australia are enjoying better conditions than are workers in any other country. Because of our democratic and liberty-loving sentiments governments and trade unions have in recent years been encouraged in their effort to better the conditions of the working classes. Trade unionism is not so strongly entrenched in Great Britain as it is in Australia, and accordingly the conditions under which the people work there are not comparable with Australian conditions. I am sure also that there is a general desire to maintain the existing standard in Australia. Every one who has knowledge of the history of the struggle upward must acknowledge that trade unionism has been the principal instrument in securing industrial reforms along the line of progress.
Senator Needham referred just now to the good old days of voluntary trade unionism and freedom of contract. I remember those days very well. I have good reason to, because I suffered much in the struggle for industrial progress. I suppose that no other honorable senator has been longer in the Australian Labour movement than I have been. At one time or another I have been identified with practically every phase of trade unionism, so I can claim to know something about the movement. I intend to support the bill, because I believe that it will make for industrial progress and certainly prevent our arbitration machinery from becoming a total wreck.
It is as well to realize that industry is passing through a very strenuous time. Because of the improved conditions enjoyed by employees under our system of arbitration, the cost of production in Australia has risen very appreciably and industry generally is in a serious position. Our primary industries are more or less hampered by the economic conditions which successive governments and awards of the Arbitration Courts have imposed .upon the country, and unfortunately our secondary industries, owing to the high cost of production are unable to market their products ‘ outside Australia. The problem which we are up against is to maintain our present ecomomic conditions so as to keep our primary industries going and help our secondary industries to expand. The present state of affairs is due to a number of abuses of the arbitration system. No government would be so foolish as to go out of its way to interfere with the privileges enjoyed by the working class. Senator Needham has told us that the industrial organizations are opposed to this bill. If they are, then it is because they have been misled as to its provisions.
– They know that it is unworkable.
– The great majority of the rank and file in trade unions do not take trouble to study legislative proposals for themselves; they depend upon information given to them by their secretaries and leaders. It is regrettable that in respect of this bill, they have been seriously misled and have an entirely wrong impression of the amendments to the act contained in this bill. Honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in another place, notwithstanding their protestations that they would welcome any proposal to prevent industrial disturbances, have made no suggestions for an improvement of the measure. I invite the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, when the bill is in committee to offer suggestions for its improvement. If they are such as to appeal to the good sense of other honorable senators I am sure that they will be well supported.
I am satisfied that the people of Australia as a whole are in favour of the bill, because they wish to put an end to all those industrial disputes that occur so frequently. They wish to see industry well regulated. I should not have the slightest hesitation in going before them and asking for their endorsement of this measure; which I regard as an honest attempt to solve those difficult problems that so closely affect the industrial life of Australia. The Government is taking the right step in submitting this bill, and I am satisfied that it has the support of a large number of trade unionists. As a matter of fact the Federated Railway employees waited on the Attorney-General not so long ago and asked that their members should come within the scope of the act. Representatives of employees of the States and those engaged in State instrumentalities also have made the same request. How then can it be urged that all these organizations are opposed to the bill? I say that they are not. Although I admit that they may be opposed to certain amendments to ihe act included in it, certainly they are not opposed to the bill itself.
– They are not opposed to the system of arbitration.
– Nor are they opposed to the bill. They may, as I have stated, be uncertain about some of its provisions in respect of which I have no doubt that they have been misled. Hitherto trade union organizations have been allowed to ignore awards of the court. The greatest sinners in this respect have been the transport groups and the miners. Apart from these organizations, the great majority of trade unionists have been content to work under Arbitration Court awards. They realize that but for the court their conditions would not be nearly so good as they are.
– Then why try to destroy a good system by these0 amendments.
– The Government is not trying to destroy the existing system. It is endeavouring to improve it. Senator Barnes knows as well as I do how difficult of solution are the many industrial problems that arise from day to day. He also knows that if the Arbitration Act had not been passed two-thirds of the trade unions in Australia to-day would not be in existence. Several of the unions when they were established represented only a small minority of the workers engaged in their particular industry.
– We were a gallant band then.
– I admit that. If we had more men of the same type to-day in some of the trade unions the Labour movement would be all the better for it. The majority of the unionists to-day know nothing about the conditions that existed, in the past. There is a new generation of both employers and employees, and they have had no experience of the manner in which the conditions have been improved by the Arbitration Act. It would be one of the greatest calamities that could take place if we were to revert to the old conditions. Yet despite the benefits of the arbitration system, a handful of men in the Marine Cooks’ Union, which numerically is the smallest union in the transport group, has been allowed to tie up the whole of the shipping on the Australian coast. We have reached the stage that there is not one vessel in commission.
– There are several now.
– The position, of course, has altered in the last day or two. The fact remains, however, that they proved themselves capable of tying up a service upon which Australia largely depends. I do not blame the cooks so much as the other unionists in the community. They showed a lack of moral courage in not ordering the strikers back to work. Only a few unions in Sydney, which are led by Jock Garden, stood behind the cooks. If all the other unions had threatened to support the introduction of free labour if the vessels were not manned within 24 hours, the trouble would have been settled very quickly. Until the unions discipline their own members they will always be enemies of the system of arbitration. I regard the unions and the Labour party generally as a set of moral cowards. They should have ordered the cooks back to work or have expelled them from the movement, as they have done with some persons who are too good to be associated with them.
Let me give another illustration. The South Johnstone strike, which paralysed the whole of the transport services in Queensland, was caused’ by a few extremists at the sugar mill who defied the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers Union. On three occasions the judge of the Queensland Arbitration Court visited the seat of the trouble, and endeavoured to settle it. The president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers Union also went up there, but he was ignored. The Federal Executive, of which Senator Barnes is the head, could not interfere, because the Queensland branch© had local autonomy and finally the whole of the railway system was paralysed. The Queensland Government was compelled to take the bull by the horns. The Premier, Mr. McCormack, dismissed every employee on the State railways who disobeyed instructions, and refused, to reinstate them until they had signed an agreement undertaking to obey the Commissioner for Railways. Is it not time that the Commonwealth Arbitration Act was amended to deal with such situations?
– If the provisions of this bill could be put into operation, what effect would they have upon the strike of the marine cooks?
– Those members who are opposed to the action which has been taken could apply to the court for a secret ballot, I believe such a ballot would disclose the fact that a majority of the members of the union are opposed to the attitude which their secretary has adopted. In that event the court would have the power to order that the ships be manned.
– But in the event of the cooks voting in favour of the strike, how could it be stopped?
– It is as well to recognize the fact that a body of men cannot be compelled to work if they are unanimous in their desire to remain on strike; but on the other hand a penalty can be opposed for any breach of an award. It is just as criminal for a union to break an award as it is for a private citizen to break an agreement. A private citizen can be taken to court and punished. I support the penalties for which the bill provides, in the hope that, they will cause commonsense to prevail. An Arbitration Court judge may make a mistake ; but, as in criminal and civil jurisdiction, the victim of it must continue to suffer until it is remedied.
– There is no provision in the bill for the rectification of any mistake that may be made by an Arbitration Court judge.
– A farther claim could be lodged within a limited period. It is much better that a union, which represents only a small minority of the community, should suffer an injustice, than that it should paralyze industry. In the timber-workers’ case, Judge Lukin decided against the men, and their secretary, Mr. Bowers, advised them to slow up on the job and indulge in sabotage. A newspaper paragraph describes the incident in the following terms : -
Members of the Timber Workers’ Union decided on Saturday to defy the Federal Arbitration Court by agreeing to adopt go-slow methods unless their claim for a continuance of the 44-hour week is conceded.
At a stop-work meeting at the Trades Hall, a resolution was carried endorsing the previous decision of the union, which instructed members not to work more than 44 hours, and not to accept overtime if any attempt was made to alter the hours. It was further resolved that if the employers reduced wages, the employees should reduce their output by Si per cent.
That is defiance of the Arbitration Court.
– Judge Lukin defied the Full Arbitration Court in the award that he made.
– The union can appeal from the decision of Judge Lukin to the Full Arbitration Court.
– He would allow them to appeal to the High Court, but not to the Full Arbitration Court.
SenatorREID. - I am not discussing Judge Lukin’s decision; it may have related purely to a matter of law. He may have wanted the High Court to decide to what extent he could deal with the matter. The Arbitration Court is helpless in many respects. My complaint is that when a decision is given against the men they go on strike. They want to benefit both ways.
– They asked to be allowed to appeal to the Full Arbitration Court for its interpretation of the meaning of the award in relation to hours, and their application was disallowed by Judge Lukin.
SenatorREID. - I do not know what was in Judge Lukin’s mind; but I have been acquainted with him for very many years, and I know he is as fair-minded as any man.
– The question was, how far a single judge could act in interpreting the question of hours.
– A single judge cannot deal with the question of hours; but the Full Arbitration Court can. The union wanted an interpretation from that court.
SenatorREID. - Evidently Judge Lukin wanted the High Court to say what powers he possessed as a single judge. Until that legal point has been settled, he and the other Arbitration Court judges cannot know where they stand. I have no time for unions which break awards, and that is why I am in favour of the provision of penalties. Senator Barnes knows that a fruitful source of trouble is the overlapping of Federal and State awards. On one occasion Mr. Justice McCawley, in the Queensland Arbitration Court, increased the rate for shearing from £2 to £2 5s. a hundred, and thereafter the shearers in the other States carried on a continuous agitation to have their rates raised to the same level. The awards of the Federal Court should be paramount.
– While the shearers in Queensland were receiving £2 5s. a hundred, Mr. Justice Powers, in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, awarded the southern shearers a rate of 30s. a hundred. That was in 1922. I conducted the case for the men. A week or two later he found out that he had made a mistake, and altered the rate to 35s. a hundred; but he then made a further mistake in his calculations, which resulted in the shearers earning 35s. a week less than they should have earned.
SenatorREID. - That was due to an error of the court, and the judge admitted it.
– He did not.
SenatorREID. - Was it not altered.
– Only in a subsequent award, and after the men had lost about £2,000,000. Notwithstanding that, the honorable senator wants to know why men should strike.
SenatorREID. - I propose to quote briefly from a paragraph which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, giving the opinion of a gentleman who has been prominently associated with the industrial life of Australia, and who has been referred to as a disturber of the peace. I refer to Mr. Tom Walsh, who, according to his manifesto, recently issued to the seamen of Australia, has apparently come to his senses, and has expressed views with which, foronce, I think the majority of the people of Australia will agree. In referring to the industrial situation and the policy of the union, he said -
There can in fact be only one end to this policy, and that is the utter ruin of the Seamen’s Union.
I do not know what his motives are, but there is no doubt as to the accuracy of his conclusion. There is no one in this chamber who knows more concerning the seamen than Mr. Walsh, and he says that if they carry on their present tactics the result will be the utter ruination of the union. He went on to say -
It is useless to secure wages and conditions in advance of what have previously obtained unless the agreements covering those questions are honored by the seamen.
– The honorable senator did not quote Tom Walsh prior to the last election.
SenatorREID. - No, I am pleased to say that he has come to his senses, and his utterances are now in accord with those of all reasonable men. He further stated -
If the ships are continually held up the public will insist upon a repeal of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, so that overseas companies with ships under overseas articles can be called in to relieve the position. This would ultimately mean that Australian concerns would be absorbed by British companies.
That is common sense -
To this state we have come on account of the activities of the militants who insist upon indulging in class struggle tactics in the maritime industry, and what can lie the objects of those who are trying to bring about this very condition of affairs? It is impossible not to come to the conclusion that those who adhere to the revolutionary movement intend, by this means, to drive the workers thus displaced to violence. These plain facts will convoy to you better than other words the truth that there exists in Australia a party which aims deliberately at creating a dreadful civil war and making a desert of this prosperous country. In our claims for fair treatment for the men who go down to the sca in ships, all right-thinking people in Australia will be with us.
He went on to express similar views, and if earlier in his career he had shown the good judgment which he now appears to be displaying, the industrial position in Australia would, I think, be much better than it, is to-day.
It is interesting to note that Australia is not the only country in which shipping troubles are occurring. In a paragraph published in the press yesterday concerning the position in Tokio, I find the following -
It is estimated that 300 non-Conference steamers are being held up awaiting a decision to strike on the wages issue, the shipowners refusing demands. Business men are of the opinion that the owners will eventually be forced to yield in order to avoid the trouble spreading to liners not at present involved.
That is happening in Japan where the Government can exercise more control in industrial affairs than is practicable in Australia.
– And where they have no arbitration system.
– No. We have heard a great deal concerning the absence of industrial disputes in America, but if honorable senators will refer to the industrial situation in that country 40 or 50 years ago they will find that the conditions there were similar to those prevailing in Australia before the establishment of our arbitration system. At times the position became so serious, as was the case in connexion with a dispute at the Carnegie Steel Works, that the soldiers were instructed to shoot down the men. In those days civil riots were a common occurrence. America has now overcome her difficulties and it is to be hoped that it will not be long before we shall be able to say that we have a means of effectively preventing and settling industrial disputes.
For a long time I was very closely associated with the industrial life of Australia, and I believe that ‘ this measure will produce some good results, although I have not very much faith in it. If honorable senators opposite are able to submit reasonable proposals for it improvement they will have my support. I am somewhat pessimistic regarding the results which will follow the passage of this bill, because it has not been received in. the right spirit by the industrial section of the community. Honorable senators are aware that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) made a determined effort to get the employers and employees to meet in conference; but the representatives of the employees rejected his proposals. That is the most convincing proof that the representatives of the employees do not wish industrial peace. If they did, they would have met and endeavoured to draw up an agreement acceptable to both parties. They speak of the necessity for conciliation but what did they do to assist when the opportunity was provided ?
– The employers and employees conferred inGreat Britain and New Zealand with good results.
– Yes, and a better spirit now prevails. I support the bill because I think it will improve our present arbitration system, although, as I have said, I have not much faith in it. I believe, however, that an honest attemptis being made by the Government to improve industrial conditions in Australia, and that in attempting to unravel the industrial problem it has not the slightest desire or intention to interfere with, or injure, trade unionism.
– It was quite refreshing to hear the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) in support of the great principle of arbitration. The honorable senator delivered a lecture concerning the advantages of arbitration, but it is to be regretted that he has not spent a little more time in upholding the advantages of arbitration before the members of the Labour party. A great many of those whom the honorable senator professes to represent, are prominent trade unionists and members of the Labour party who do not support the principle of compulsory arbitration. Indeed many of them in their speeches and writings have urged within the last year or two that compulsory arbitration must be thrown overboard by the Labour party because it is not in the interests of the workers.
– Who said that?
– Would the honorable senator like me to give the name of one ?
– The Labour party in New South Wales recently nominated a candidate for the position which has just been filled by Senator Gardiner in the person of Mr. Arthur Bae.
– Donald Grant is not a member of the Labour party.
– It is unfortunate that Senator Hoare is not more conversant with Labour politics. The candidate nominated by the official Labour party was not Donald Grant, but Arthur Bae, who has recently written an article condemning compulsory arbitration.
– I quoted what he said.
– Yes, and I could give the names of others associated with the party who are also opposed to compulsory arbitration. It is a fact that a recent champion of the Labour party who was nominated to represent New South Wales in this chamber recently wrote an article condemning compulsory arbitration. That, I believe, is becoming the policy of the bulk of the members of the Labour party. It is unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition does not endeavour to convert some of his followers to the advantages of arbitration instead of lecturing honorable senators.
I approach this subject with a certain amount of diffidence because I have lost quite a lot of faith in compulsory arbitration as a means of preventing and settling industrial disputes. I have always realized that our present act is undemocratic and outrages almost every democratic principle that we value. It sets up what we may describe as an oligarchy of officialdom that is not controlled by any legislature in the Commonwealth. Worse than that it is an oligarchy that is able to dictate to the legislators appointed by the people. This Parliament found itself trammeled by the limitations of the Constitution in its attempt to legislate for the settlement of industrial disputes. It has no power to legislate directly for the con trol of industrial affairs. For instance it cannot pass legislation for the inauguration of a 44-hours or a 48-hours week or for the control of factories. The only thing it can do is to legislate for the establishment of an arbitration court to which is delegated certain powers. Once judges are appointed to that court - they are appointed for life - they are able to make just whatever decisions they please within the terms of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act and they are not subject to the control of this Parliament in any way whatever. But we must remember that ours is not the only sovereign parliament in Australia. State legislatures have certain powers reserved to them to deal with questions of hours, general industrial conditions and matters of that kind, but when they have legislated upon these matters, believing that they are within their sovereign rights in doing so, their legislation may be overridden by a decision of the Federal Arbitration Court. For instance not long ago the Federal Arbitration Court issued an award which conflicted with the deliberate intention of the Parliament of the State of New South Wales to establish a 44-hour week. In the case of Cowburn versus Clyde Engineering Company, a decision was given that where an award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court - that body which is not subject to the control of this Parliament - conflicts with a State law the decision of the Federal court shall prevail.
– That decision abrogates one of the fundamental principles of democracy.
– Of course it does, and it is an issue that sooner or later the people of the Commonwealth will have to face. It is provided that State parliaments shall have the power to legislate on certain matters upon which the Commonwealth Parliament has not the power to legislate, yet the Federal Arbitration Court by a decision founded upon evidence but not upon that knowledge of the conditions in the States that the legislatures of the State must possess, so overrides State legislation in regard to the matter that it becomes inoperative. We have thus set up an oligarchy of officialdom that becomes paramount to the representatives of people in the State parliaments, not upon points reserved for the Commonwealth Parliament but upon matters on which the States are directly empowered to legislate. These things make one wonder just where we stand in the matter of arbitration. That this state of affairs should exist is certainly not democratic, as we understand the word. It is not government of the people by the people; it is rather government of the people by a few officials and the setting up by them of conditions under which the people shall work willy nilly. They are certainly judges but nevertheless they are officials who have all that power under an act of this Parliament to do as they please despite this Parliament and the legislatures of the States and very often despite the wishes of the great majority of the people.
– Has that decision been tested in the Privy Council?
– It was tested in the High Court. I do not know that it has been taken to the Privy Council.
– It cannot be taken to the Privy Council without leave of the High Court.
– At any rate, it is something that sooner or later the people of Australia will have to take fully into consideration. It is also another strong argument foi- the amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution so that this Parliament may have power to legislate directly, and as it pleases on matters of this sort, or at any rate, so that it may have equal powers with the State legislatures in that respect.
We have all had a great deal of experience of arbitration. Every man who has played a part in the affairs of the Commonwealth or a State, or has been an officer of an organization, whether it be a trade union or an association of employers, knows that we cannot afford to dogmatize upon issue arising out of arbitration. It is impossible for us to say that the bill will be a success. It is just as impossible for us to say, as Senator Needham has said, that it will be a failure. We may reason that from certain aspects it is likely to be a success or a failure, but generally speaking, it is impossible for us to foresee what will happen within a few months after it becomes law. When arbitration was first mooted in the State Parliaments, it was said that it would be a heaven-sent panacea for all the industrial evils under which we were suffering. -A tribunal was to be set up that would, as Senator Verran has suggested, usher in a new Jerusalem. Strikes were to be a thing of the past. There was to be no further industrial conflict. The lion would lie down with the lamb. I am not saying who was to be the lamb. The general future of Australia was to bc one of progress and peace. But what has happened? We have had amendment after amendment of our industrial arbitration laws in the States and in the Commonwealth. We have amended the law from time to time in the light of experience. We have endeavoured to close every loophole and make the whole scheme as perfect as it is possible for human beings to make anything perfect. Yet after all these years we are here faced with further amendments, still further stoppages of leaks, still further proposals for making our arbitration system watertight. I care not what amendments are made or what new proposals are brought forward, we shall still be faced with the possibility of industrial trouble, strikes and lockouts, and such like. One has only to consider human nature to know the truth of such a statement.
– The law against thieving does not wholly prevent thieving.
– While that may be so, we are morally bound to make all the amendments that are necessary to provide machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes and for the prevention of them to as great an extent as possible. By doing so we may not be able to prevent all strikes and lockouts, but we shall have done something. The point made by Senator Pearce is good. No one would think of removing from the statute-book the law against murder because murders are still committed, or the law against thieving because there are still thieves in our midst. Those offences will still be committed in spite of the law, but the fact that the law is in existence does a great deal of good. It prevents a lot of people from committing murder, and gives a general protection to the community.
– We can insist on penalties under the general law, but the penalties under our arbitration law are not worth the paper on which they are written.
– I do not know that the honorable senator is quite correct. Penalties have been imposed under the Arbitration Act and have been collected. There are amendments in the bill now before the Senate to make provision for the better collection of penalties by fixing certain guarantees and safeguards that must be observed.
– The position is certainly strengthened in that way.
– I know that it is extremely difficult to collect penalties from some organizations.
– Senator Reid has just mentioned that there are only 100 members in the Marine Cooks Union. How could a fine of £500 be collected from that union?
– Of course a heavy fine could not be collected from such a small union, but there are some organizations from which it would be an easy matter lo collect heavy penalties. For instance, it would be easy enough to collect a fine of £100 or even £1,000 from the Australian Workers Union.
– But as it is not possible to collect a £50 fine from an indi.vidual member of the Cooks’ Union, how would it be possible to collect a £50 fine from an individual member of the Australian Workers Union?
– I know that the position is full of difficulties. I have not the sublime faith in this bill that some of my friends have. But it will improve the position in certain respects, and on that account I am prepared to support it.
Arbitration, I have said, has not been able to remove all our industrial troubles. We still have recurrences of turmoil that sap the wealth of the community in a way that reveals how really wealthy Australia must be to be able to stand it. I venture to say that if many leading countries had been subjected in proportion to their population to the industrial trouble and great losses Australia has had, and has sustained, they would not have been able to stand them. Statistics reveal the extraordinary loss occasioned in Australia, not only to the workers, but also to industry and the community generally, as the result of industrial disputes. In some years this amounts to millions of pounds. The workers would be vastly better off, and everybody in the community would be in a better position, if -the money lost through stoppages of work went into the pockets of the trade unionists. The fact that Australia has survived the industrial unrest that it has experienced is not due to the conditions under which industry has been carried on, but to the magnificent country which, by the grace of God, we are privileged to occupy. But the struggle for national existence is becoming keener every year. The other nations are preparing to meet world conditions that they expect to arise in the near as well as in the dim future. They are building up their industries, and unless Australia has due regard for the future, I am afraid that our hopes that we shall set up in Australia a condition of affairs such as has never been seen in any other country will vanish into thin air. This country cannot continue on the road it has been following.
The fact that strikes have occurred, and are likely to continue to occur, has been stressed by the Leader of the Opposition, and in that respect I agree with him. But there is a difference between strikes that occur because industrial conditions are not what they ought to be, and those industrial disturbances that arise from sheer cussedness. I am afraid that striking has become a habit; some persons would regard it as a gift. Our industrial tribunals are agencies for the promotion of industrial disputes. These are brought about in order that the court may be approached ; and so adept have some persons become at manufacturing them that in a great many industries those saddled with the responsibility of carrying them on find it practically impossible to plan ahead, as business executives must do, to ensure a reasonable hope of success. I would remind honorable senators that industrial conditions in this country are constantly changing. There is no element of permanency in them ; they alter almost from week to week, and from month to month. Certainly from year to year it is almost impossible for any leader of industry to make plans for the future conduct of his business.
Under the present arbitration system, and under our general system of regulating industrial affairs, business men are handicapped to an extent that would not be tolerated for a moment in any other part of the world, and development is hamstrung because of it. Our manufacturers endeavour to escape from this apparently hopeless position, and the problem of ever-increasing costs of production, by asking for the imposition of ever-increasing customs duties. These are imposed, and these, in turn, increase the cost of living.- But we cannot go on indefinitely along those lines. Sooner or later we must realize that we are reaching a dead end. When wages go up the cost of living increases correspondingly, and again the workers apply to the court for an increase in wages. Still the manufacturers find themselves no better off, and they again apply for heavier customs duties. Who will say that that is a satisfactory condition of affairs?
– The primary producer has to carry the whole burden on his back.
– Yes, but it is not fair to him; he is breaking down under the load.
– The wage-earner is carrying the primary producer and everybody else on his back.
– What is the primary producer but a wage-earner ? He has to work twice as many hours as the trade unionist. He gets no holidays, and no Sundays off for a great part of the year. He does not receive double pay for overtime; he has to work hard ali the time.
– I notice that a boat load of primary producers recently left Australia on a trip to the Old Country.
– Yes, and I am glad that some primary producers are in that happy position ; but I am speaking of the producers generally. A number of trade union secretaries are in a sufficiently good financial position to take a trip abroad at any time. The expense would not trouble them.
Owing to good seasons and fair prices. Australia has enjoyed a fair measure of prosperity for a number of years ; but we cannot expect this condition of affairs to continue indefinitely. We are faced with the great problem of solving the present industrial unrest, and the Government has brought down this bill as its remedy; but when we begin to consider the problem we immediately see difficulties in the way. In the first place we find ourselves up against what may be termed privilege. The employers naturally re- sent any interference with their business, and with what they refer to as their vested interests; but it is doubtful whether they are as jealous pf their rights as the trade unionists are of theirs. To be a trade unionist a few generations ago was to be regarded as a kind of moral outcast; but to-day the unionists are regarded as the salt of the earth. I recall that successive British Governments went to all sorts of lengths to wipe out trade unionism. They even transported its leaders in their attempt to prevent the growth of the movement; but it grew in spite of that opposition, because at that time it had behind it right and justice. The trade unionists of that day were only asking for what they were entitled to receive; they wanted the right to organize in order to obtain improved working conditions, shorter hours, and better pay. It was a movement that did wonderful work for the British Empire and the world generally. But the unions in Australia to-day have lost the old ideal, and they are now asking for considerably more than justice.
I have spoken of privilege in connexion with the employers; but the trade unionists of Australia are asking for a degree of privilege that was not even contemplated by the trade unionists of a few years ago. It was not thought of by organizations of employers or employees in any part of the world. This clamour for additional privilege has manifested itself in many ways. There is a demand that the unions shall be considered to be above the law. What is that but a demand for privilege? When this or any other government brings down a proposal to amend an act such as the Arbitration Act, or any other measure that deals with trade unionists, we are informed that they have no right to do it, that there must be no restriction placed upon the unions, and that any proposal to impose penalties upon them is inherently wrong. These organizations must be regarded, we are told, as being above the law. But I cannot subscribe to thatdoctrine. To concede such a point would mean that the whole economic, industrial and social fabric would be shattered. Trade unionists, like every other section of the community, must be amenable to the law, and subject to the will of the majority of the people.
It has been said that the Government has no right to bring down this bill, that it is an attack on trade unionism, and that by means of it the Government is improperly seeking to regulate certain aspects of trade union activities. I submit that it is the right of this Government to introduce such legislation, and the right of this Parliament, if it approves of it, to pass it. It has been suggested also even that only members of the party opposite have the right to legislate in regard to trade unions and industrial affairs, and that such legislation should be in the direction of extending the powers, influence and privileges of trade unions, always with the idea of building up in Australia a certain privileged class with rights above those enjoyed by any other section of the community. In the eyes of the law one section of the people, whether trade unionists or not, is as good as another; but it is obvious that in the eyes of honorable senators opposite the trade unionist is the only man who has any right to consideration. Any other man with his wife and family may starve because owing to the operation of the principle of preference to unionists, work often is denied to him.
SenatorGraham. - There are plenty of people starving to-day.
– That is not so.
SenatorGraham. - There are thousands in New South Wales.
– I do not know of any one who is starving in my State. Although I am not a representative of the Labour party, I would not make such a reflection upon the trade union movement. If, as the honorable senator says, there are thousands of trade unionists starving in New South Wales - I do not admit that there are - it is a grave reflection upon those powerful trade union organizations that have been in existence for so many years, and it must be obvious to all that up to the present the activities of those organizations have been wrongly directed. Something more than merely higher wages should be their objective. Unfortunately, it is a fact that there is not that spirit of comradeship in trade unions that should exist. In a country like Australia, where there are hundreds of thousands of trade unionists at work and earning good wages it would, I repeat, be a grave reflection upon them if thousands of their fellow trade unionists were unemployed and starving. I do not believe the accusation, and I feel sure that, when Senator Graham realizes the full import of his words, he will be disposed to withdraw them:
– I am certain that there are thousands of trade unionists out of work in the different States.
– I desire now to continue along the line of thought which I was pursuing when the interruption came. It is suggested that we should regard trade unionism in Australia as a sacred institution. Anything in criticism of it is viewed with horror, in the same way as a devout Mohammedan would regard any reflection upon the Prophet. I can, of course, imagine the thrill of horror that is running up and down the spine of the trade union movement at what its leaders believe to be a pernicious attack upon their privilege by the Government and Parliament, through this bill. These people are raising their hands to high heaven and calling out “ sacrilege, sacrilege,” in the hope, I have no doubt, that something may be done to preserve them in their present privileged positions in the country.
We know, of course, that their opposition to the measure is inspired, not by the desire to advance the interests of trade unionists generally, but purely for political purposes. Honorable senators of the Labour party are hoping that, by their action in opposing the bill they will secure some advantage to themselves. They are endeavouring to work up a feeling of passionate opposition on the part of trade unionists throughout Australia against the measure and the supporters of the bill, by declaring that it is an attack upon the rights and privileges of trade unionists.
– They are trying to stir up a good healthy hatred of the employing class.
– That is so. They are working assiduously on the class consciousness of the workers.
– Give us credit for some virtues.
– The honorable senator has many virtues as we are aware. But he knows, as well as I do, that what I am saying is absolutely true. When he contributes to the debate I venture to say that he will join in the general chorus of condemnation of the bill and will describe it as an attack upon trade unionism, although he realizes that speaking generally, it will distinctly strengthen the arbitration system.
I have spoken of the possible disasters to the industrial and national life of the Commonwealth if the present chaotic state of affairs is allowed to continue. There are many people who have a very clear idea as to what should or should not be done to improve the position. On the other hand there are certain people who wish to increase the possibility of disaster. They would prefer to see the Arbitration Act repealed and the court abolished so that employer and employee could get back to the old system of direct negotiation without the intervention of any authorized tribunal. It is remarkable that the attitude of honorable senators opposite is endorsed by persons who are keenly anxious to do away with our present arbitration system. Probably these revolutionary spirits who are behind the opponents of the bill are logically right from their point of view. They realize that under modern social conditions the industrial organization is so complex that the days when it was possible to have direct negotiation between employer and employees have gone for ever. This is the day of massed battalion of both employers and employees and the communists and revolutionaries desire to see these two great armies locked together in a struggle to the death. Their one desire is to prevent our industrial machinery from working smoothly; to bring about a state of revolution that will overturn existing social conditions and destroy the fabric of society. All these people are in deadly opposition to the arbitration system, and it is somewhat’ significant to note that they are supporting honorable senators opposite. It would be interesting to know if our friends in opposition are opposing the bill from the standpoint of these revolutionaries or not.
I have stressed the disadvantages of the present system of arbitration. But [ realize that great as the disadvantages are, it is better to endure them than to risk the alternative. The Government has acted wisely in bringing down this amending bill with the object of improving the present machinery. Certain clauses of the measure, particularly those relating 10 strikes and the prohibition of strikes, call for some comment. It is remarkable that whilst in certain proposed new sections strikes are made illegal, other clauses provide that in particular circumstances an unlawful strike or lockout may be .regarded as lawful. This certainly is an anomaly, but after all the whole of our industrial system bristles with anomalies. Moreover it is an anomaly which, I feel certain, can be fully justified. I wish it were as easily possible to justify the proposal of the Government in what I may describe the exonerating clauses of the bill - those provisions which in certain circumstances, lift the penalties imposed upon those responsible for strikes or lockouts.
We have had some discussion about secret ballots. The principle is democratic, but I am afraid that the provisions in the bill are full of snares and pitfalls. The Government has set out to overcome these -difficulties, but I am doubtful if it has been successful. I remind honorable senators that one may lead a horse to water but it is quite another matter to make the animal drink. Thus while we may provide the machinery for the taking of a secret ballot and put it in motion, it is impossible to compel unionists to vote. If members of an organization do not vote at a ballot these provisions will be more farcical and disadvantageous to the industrial life of this country. If there is one thing that trade unionists are noted for, it is the loyalty of members to their own organizations. I can speak on this point from personal knowledge. I know how strongly members of a trade union feel about it. In an industrial crisis members of an organization’ go on strike because of a resolution of their union. They do not care to go against the decision of a meeting. Exactly the samo position will arise under these provisions relating to the secret ballot. As I have said, I speak with some authority on this matter, because I have a thorough knowledge of the sentiments which actuate members of a union in a crisis. Whenever a trade union is face to face with grave industrial trouble, which threatens to develop into a strike, a special meeting is summoned for the purpose of considering what action shall be taken. If the meeting decides that a strike shall take place, the members of the organization concerned - those absent from as well as those present at the meeting - will observe the decision of the union. Although some of them may not believe in the wisdom of a strike, the last thing they would dream of doing would be to take a stand against the decision of their organization. The question of a secret ballot will arise only when the members of a union are working under a set of conditions that they feel they cannot any longer continue to suffer, and threaten to cause industrial trouble. The famous ten persons to whom Senator Needham has referred would then apply for a secret ballot. There is no provision to prevent the executive of the Australian Workers Union or any other organization from calling a meeting of its members and arriving at a decision upon the question at issue. In the majority of instances the members of a union will observe the decision that has been arrived at by a properly constituted meeting, and give effect to it in the secret ballot.
– The position now is that half the men do not know the reason for a strike.
– I would not go so far as to say that. I admit that many trade unionists do not trouble to attend the meetings of their unions. In the average union of 4,000 or 5,000 members the attendance at a meeting would probably be not greater than 100 members; but even so, those who do not attend abide loyally by any decision arrived at. Those conditions will not be altered under this new provision for the holding of a secret ballot. The members who do not believe in a strike will certainly have the opportunity to vote against it; but the great majority of the members will vote in accordance with the wishes of their organization. Despite the provision which makes it an offence to do anything prejudicial to the ballot, the members of an organization will be made acquainted with any decision arrived at, and vote in accordance with it. Having advocated this principle at the last elections, I am now prepared to vote for it; but I gravely doubt whether the expectations in regard to it will be fulfilled. In some cases it may cause a considerable amount of harm. I know of instances of union officials having taken a strong stand against the proposal to resort to direct action. The executive officers of an organization know how much it stands to lose by industrial trouble. Frequently secretaries of unions who have opposed the wishes of hot-headed members and endeavoured to preserve industrial peace have been hounded out of their positions, and their lives have been made intolerable. This provision, however, is experimental, and is well worth a trial. The principle underlying it was endorsed by the people at the last elections, and it is favoured by very many trade unionists because they wish to obtain a greater measure of control in their organizations.
I am sorry that the success of this measure has been prejudiced to an extent by the opposition to it engendered in the ranks of trade unionists by honorable senators opposite and some honorable members of another place. I claim that it is an honest attempt, inspired by the highest motives, to do the right thing to the trade union movement and the people of Australia. Prom that aspect the speech of the Attorney-General in another place was a model, because there was an entire absence from it of either passion or prejudice. The sole desire of the Ministerial party is to act fairly by the trade unionists and the people of Australia. The reason for the introduction of this measure is no different from that which led to the passage of previous legislation dealing with the same subject. It is a genuine attempt to solve the problems with which industry in Australia is confronted. It is easy to criticize, but infinitely harder to advance constructive proposals. This is a constructive proposal which, while it may not do all that is expected, will go a long way towards curing the existing evils in our arbitration system. I hope that when the bill is being considered in committee honorable senators opposite will be able to suggest improvements that will make for the more effective operation of the law in the interest of that section of the community which they claim more particularly to represent. The Government can then be judged according to its readiness or reluctance to accept proposals that have the force of reason and the germs of common sense. Unless honorable senators act in that way they will be condemned out of their own mouths. I give the bill my blessing.
– In common with the majority of honorable senators, I am gravely concerned as to the effect which this measure will have upon the conduct of affairs in Australia generally. I have been a trade unionist for many years. As a matter of fact, I have spent the greater part of my life in an endeavour to provide machinery that will afford an opportunity to the people of this country, but particularly those who are designated wage earners, to obtain what they consider they are entitled to receive from a country which they claim as their own. History teaches us that, notwithstanding the milk of human kindness which we are led to believe flows from the breasts of humanity, the working people of this and every other country have throughout the ages been engaged in a struggle against another human element to obtain those conditions under which they consider they are entitled to live. They have had an uphill fight the whole of the way. Oppression of every description has obstructed their path.
The trade union movement is possibly more enlightened in Australia than in any other part of the world, not because of any inherent virtue but on account of the peculiar circumstances under which civilization was established in this corner of the earth. In the first place Australia was pioneered by what we can claim without conceit were the boldest, the best, the most enlightened, and the most courageous units of the white races; and their progeny have always insisted upon being given decent means for earning their livlihood. We have evolved through different systems to the present method of settling industrial disputes. I think I can claim without egotism that but for organized labour there never would have been a system of arbitration in this country. I do not say that it was a Labour Government which in the ‘first place passed that class of legislation; but there is not the slightest doubt that it was the force of organized labour which compelled other governments to do so. They used their power outside of Parliament, and later returned their own representatives to fight on their behalf. Arbitration is an industrial system which they evolved. I can recall the time when employees did all in their power to introduce some conciliatory system under which their grievances could be adjusted, because they knew that strikes meant a substantial loss of wages, and caused untold suffering to men, women, and children. The strike weapon was the only one then at their disposal, as conciliatory methods had been unsuccessfully attempted. The men had approached the bosses almost on their kness in an endeavour to place their case before them; but what did they get? They received nothing but contempt and had to contend with refusal after refusal from men who did not know what hardship meant. It was not until a compulsory system of arbitration was introduced that the employers adopted a conciliatory attitude, because they knew if they did not confer the powerful arm of the law would compel them to appear before the courts of this country.
After years of experience I claim that our present system has done more than anything else to prevent and settle industrial disputes, and Australia is freer from such trouble than any other country. Reading the capitalistic press and hearing the comments of some tory politicians, one would think there was more industrial trouble in Australia than in any other country, but in comparison with other countries in a similar state of civilization, there ‘are fewer strikes in Australia than anywhere else.
In common with all experienced trade unionists, I prefer arbitration as a means of settling industrial disputes to any other system. But I say in all sincerity, that the Government is doing its best to make arbitration unworkable. One only has to refer to the leading articles which appear in the Melbourne Argus and other tory newspapers which frequently refer to the iniquity of the Arbitration Act, and its harassing effects upon industries and those who control them, to ascertain the attitude of the Government. Those who support the opinions which these newspapers publish do not want arbitration, which they say hampers industry and imposes upon employers conditions with which, they urge, they should not be compelled to comply. They want arbitration swept out of the way. This measure is an attempt to give legislative effect to the opinions expressed in the Argus and other newspapers under the direction of capitalistic institutions.
One would think to hear the comments of some honorable senators and persons outside, that “ the rabble,” as they term trade unionists, is not controlled by the law or regulations, and does not obey the laws of the country, but the point should be emphasized that trade union organizations come into existence only under the laws of the country. It is claimed that a good deal of the industrial trouble which sometimes prevails is due to the fact that there are little cliques of trade union officials who by some legerdemain perform acts which the organization as a whole does not support. I know of no trade union in Australia that does not possess the fullest right to elect its officersby means of a secret ballot. The machinery of the Australian Workers Union is similar in a sense to that under which this country is governed. It has its constitution and rules and regulations to guide it in the conduct of its affairs, just as the Commonwealth has its Constitution and laws which are passed under it to enable the Government to function in giving effect to the wishes of the people. Other industrial organizations also have their constitutions, rules and regulations for the conduct of their business. The rules of the Australian Workers Union provide that its officers shall be elected once a year, and I as its general president have to submit my name to 150,000 or 160,000 members of the organization in Australia with others for election to that office. The general secretary has to do the same; but any other officers comprising the executive of our organization are not elected by the whole of the members but by sections or branches. Will any one claim that officers so elected are not qualified and should not be empowered to speak on behalf of those whom they represent? Our election is similar to the election ofmembers of this chamber; the only difference being that we are elected every year, whereas honorable senators are priviliged to hold office for six years. In these circumstances I do not think it can be said that I am not sufficiently in touch with the members of my organization to speak on their behalf.
SenatorVerran. - I do not think there is a man in Australia that can represent a union better than the honorable senator.
– I am . endeavouring to remove some of the bogys.
– By quoting an exceptional instance.
– I do not know of a union in Australia conducted in any other way.
– I do.
– I do not. The unions elect their officers periodically.
SenatorFoll. - Walsh and Johnson appear to be elected every week.
SenatorBARNES. - It is difficult to obtain a representative vote from the seamen because many of the members of their organizations are constantly at sea.
– Would not the Australian Workers Union experience difficulty in. obtaining the votes of some of its members who are in the outback country?
– There is difficulty at. times.
– The Brisbane branch of the Marine Cooks’ Union said that it never had a voice in the election of the union’s officers.
– Possibly that is true, but if it is, it is an isolated case. I claim that the officers of my union ure intelligent men, and quite capable of making recommendations for the benefit of the majority. As the men would not support any action taken by the president, secretary, or any other official that was not in their interests, it is unreasonable to suggest that these organizations are under the control of irresponsible persons who are acting to the detriment of their members. They are more entitled to speak on behalf of their members than are honorable senators in this chamber to speak on behalf of the people who were responsible for their election, because they arc elected at shorter intervals.
As a result of years of experience in the trade union movement, I believe that the greatest factor in fomenting industrial unrest is not a desire of the workers to be everlastingly on strike, but the fact that there is so much delay in having their cases heard by the Arbitration Court. It is true that the present act may need amending in some minor directions, but the easiest way in which to overcome the present trouble is to appoint more judges. One judge did the work for a long time but he now has assistance. At present there are about 180 cases held up in. the court, and when they can be dealt with God only knows. Unionists are prepared to obey the law, and to submit their grievances to a properly constituted court, but they strongly resent the delays which occur in getting an award from the court. The Australian Workers Union submitted a case to the court about a year ago, which has not yet been dealt with, and our members are continually bringing pressure to bear upon the officials, and blaming them for the delay. They have said they are sick and tired of waiting and may have to resort to direct action, although the representatives of the union are continually endeavouring to pacify them. Similar difficulty i3 experienced by other organizations, and if the Government could facilitate the hearing of,, plaints, they would do more in the direction of obtaining industrial peace than they can ever possibly achieve under this bill. What would it matter if twenty judges were appointed at- £2,000 a year if the ISO plaints which are at present before the court could be promptly disposed of? If additional judges were appointed the claims now waiting settlement would be dealt with in a short time and the whole cause of industrial trouble would be removed. As things are now, cases are so much delayed that by the time an award is made a new plaint is necessary. Circumstances have so altered that the plaint lodged twelve months previously is useless. Clear away all that delay, give the trade unions an opportunity to avail themselves promptly of what arbitration i9 available, .and most of the trouble existing will be removed.
– If we had a little more conciliation, would not some of the difficulties be removed?
– I am always ready to be a party to conciliation. The officers of the Australian Workers Union are continually in conference with people who employ our members. There are roughly 123 different awards made by the Federal Arbitration Court and by State courts, under which members of the Australian Workers Union work. I have frequently met fruit-growers, wheatgrowers, and all kinds of people in conference. On many occasions we have been able to remove quite a number of misunderstandings and difficulties that were not tending to promote the harmony so necessary to enable industry to be carried on for the benefit of all, and when, sometimes, after having done ail we could to bring about peaceful settlement we have had recourse to the court, the judge has said to us : “ I shall convene a compulsory conference; you people must settle as much as you can in conference and when you have done that, you can come to the court and I shall arbitrate in regard to the points, upon which you cannot agree.”
Under this bill the whole basis of arbitration is altered. A matter that we thought was settled twenty odd years, ago, has to be determined once more. Early in the history of our law for the settlement of industrial disputes the principle was laid down that no industry should be carried on in Australia unless it could enable the people engaged in it to work under comparatively decent conditions. To that end, it was decided to establish what was then termed and has since been known as the basic wage. I have heard no reason advanced during the debate on this bill why any departure is proposed in this respect - why we should allow the court to take into consideration the economic conditions of an industry. The only object that I can see in doing so is that the court may say : “ This industry can be carried on sucessfully, but it cannot pay a wage which the people of Australia think every worker is decently entitled to receive.”
– The honorable senator is assuming that the court will do that.
– It is provided in the bill that the court may do it. For instance, clause 22 of the bill introduced in another place provided - 25d. The court shall, before making any award or certifying any agreement, and in proceedings for the variation or cancellation of an award or agreement, take into consideration the probable economic effect of the agreement or award in relation to the community in general and the probable economic effect thereof upon the industry or industries con- “ cerned.
– The honorable senator has forgotten the proviso.
– In another place the clause was modified by the addition of the following proviso : -
Provided that this section shall not affect the practice of the court in fixing the basic wage.
Another grave objection to the bill is that it makes provision for the taking of a ballot in certain circumstances. The manner in which their officers are appointed, makes it impossible for organiza tions to be governed by little, cliquesnot responsible to the will and wishes of the members. I cannot imagine any machinery that would enable a body of men to have a greater and tighter grip upon their officers than that which the members of trade unions have to-day. The law provides that unions cannot be registered unless their rules make provision for the proper administration of whatever the, organization claims to do for its members, for giving the members control over their representatives and for the proper administration of the finances of the organizations. The Trades Union Acts of the States and the various Arbitration Acts of the Commonwealth and the States make it compulsory for the organizations to comply with those requirements. Of course we know that in the best regulated institutions there are occasional leakages. For instance in the Australian Workers’ Union recently we had the misfortune to have two or three men get away with some of our cash, but the law has been set in motion and they will be punished as soon as they are caught. But we often find that people are able to get away with the cash of banking institutions, whose administrative arrangements are supposed to be the last word in regard to the control of the money in their care. So that it is not to be wondered at if, occasionally, there are defalcations of union funds.
I shall quote a few of the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union in order to let the public know something a little different from what they have had instilled in their minds during the last few weeks in regard to the conduct of trade unions. As a matter of fact, these organizations are the cleanest run and about the best organized, bodies in Australia. The branch auditors of the Australian Workers Union are selected at the annual meetings of the members of the various branches. They must be experienced accountants, and must not be members of the organization. Wherever possible we secure the services of Government officials. The general practice in regard to the head offices in each of the capital cities is for the executive to engage the services of a firm of accountants of standing. The instructions are that the auditors can go into any office of the organization during working hours, and claim from the secretary the keys, and the right to go through the safe and the books. _ Can any one tell me of a better safeguard than that in regard to the care of the money placed in the hands of the officials of the Australian Workers’ Union by the. members of the union? If so, we shall be very glad to adopt it.
– All unions are not like the Australian Workers’ Union in that respect.
– I think that most of them. are. I do not know of any that runs its affairs in a lax manner. They mostly conduct their affairs on the lines we adopt, because in trade unions there is the same human element that is to be found in all other walks of life. It is because of the frailties of human beings that law and rules must be framed and obeyed. Otherwise the dishonest man would gain an unfair advantage over his fellows. No one knows how he will fare when put to the. test if the temptation is big enough. Rule 20 of our organization provides -
The financial year of the head office shall terminate on the 3 1st of December of each year, and an audited balance-sheet shall be presented to Convention by the general secretary.
The convention is our highest authority. It is elected by the membership of the union. Every man in the union has the right to a vote in the selection of the delegates. These attend from all parts of Australia. Rule 21 provides -
The Executive Council shall appoint annually two experienced auditors (not members of the union), one of whom shall, if possible, be a government auditor, who once a year and at other times when requested by the council shii.ll take the head office books and balancesheets, with all receipts, and compare thom with the bank pass book and vouchers, and report on same to Convention. Auditors finding any deficiency shall state the particulars in their report, and lay same before the following Executive Council Meeting or Annual Convention.
I shall not weary honorable senators by quoting further from the rules of my organization. Apparently they agree that it is conducted on honest lines; but they have “ a bee in their bonnets “ about other organizations. I can assure them that my union is not unique in the man ner in which its affairs are controlled. Its constitution and rules are brought uptodate as experience shows need for alterations, and those alterations are always effected in a proper manner ; they cannot be made without the members having an opportunity to give them the fullest consideration. There must be a representative gathering of delegates who are elected by the members of the union in the same way as this Parliament is elected by the people of Australia.
The secret ballot provisions of the bill could not be applied to my organization. When we proceed to elect our officers we begin to take a ballot about the 1st August, and the ballot is open until the 15th December, in order to give all members of the union, many of whom follow seasonal occupations, an opportunity to vote. Should ten disgruntled members, who might easily be put up for the purpose, have power, to cause a ballot of the whole of the members of the organization throughout Aus-tralia to be taken on some trivial matter? The employers have their “ pimps “ in the trade unions. Some of them are placed there deliberately in order to keep the employers well posted in the doings of the unions. What is there to prevent the employers putting up ten men of straw at any time ? All that would be necessary to have such men made members of an organization like the Australia Workers’ Union would be to pay the price of the union tickets for them. For £15 or £20 a year, these persons could be kept in a union to embarrass the organization in the interests of the employers, and they could demand a secret ballot of the members on this, that, or the other matter. It would be left to the court to say whether or not such a ballot should be held. A scheme of that kind could be easily carried out.
– Not unless the union was involved in industrial trouble.
– It could be done at any time the employers wished. It is unnecessary to cumber our arbitration machinery with such a provision, which would make it impossible for an organization to conduct its affairs honestly. The act would be unworkable.
Proposals of this kind force me to the conclusion that the object of the bill is to destroy our arbitration system. I have already said that there is a powerful element in the country that would like to wipe out the act. There are some persons even on my own side of politics who would cheerfully do it; hut the great bulk of the working people have no desire to bring about the downfall of the present arbitration system. They desire to continue in their employment as peacefully as possible. There is no sense in a union precipitating a strike if it is possible to settle a dispute in some saner way. Usually when a strike takes place the workers have no other remedy. One of the best ways to minimize industrial trouble is to make it easier than it now is for an organization to go before the court.If we did that we should prevent 90 per cent, of the industrial disputes that now occur.
Honorable senators, no doubt, are familiar with the industrial history of Australia and the world in general, and it is unnecessary for me to indulge in a homily upon that subject. My countrymen are the most law abiding people on earth, and the most patient. I bitterly resent the gibes continually hurled at trade unionists from Tory platforms and in the’ Tory press, that they are always looking for trouble. In my opinion nothing is further from their thoughts. Of course, disputes such as that in which the Marine Cooks’ Union is now engaged occasionally occur. It appears to me that that trouble has been staged by supporters of the Government; but I do not know what they expect to get out of it.
– The honorable senator has stated his case well ; but he is not sincere when he suggests that that strike has been staged by the political opponents of Labour.
– It looks like that to me. It seems very much like the seamen’s strike that occurred about three years ago. That was another tin-pot affair; but a lot of heads went into the basket that under different circumstances would not have gone there. I know some of the tactics that are adopted by the other side in order to achieve its objects. “We have ample evidence that many things are done in this country that probably would not be approved by honorable senators. I remember reading re cently in an influential newspaper published in Melbourne about what was called a consultative council - a coterie of powerful financial interests, alleged to be responsible for the policy of the Nationalist party.’ It is said that it simply pully the strings, and the party has to do its bidding, whether it likes it or not.
– Did the honorable senator read that in the Labour Daily?
– No, in the Melbourne Age, that great organ of democracy in Victoria! I think that the article appeared in other journals also. It may have been published even in the Labour Daily; that would have given it added authority. I know some of the strings that are pulled. Many people would be loth to believe that such tactics are employed by anybody; but honorable senators on this side, as practical men, know that such things are done. Organized capital will get the last gasp out of labour, and will not be particular whether it is organized or otherwise.
– Just as labour will try to get as much as possible out of capital.
– Labour does try to do that; but there is no truth in the story that the workers of Australia are inefficient and adopt a go-slow policy. Clear evidence is available to show that the trade unionists of this country are the most efficient workmen on earth, and the most law-abiding. I fear that the party opposite would like to deprive the trade unions of the benefit of the Arbitration Act, but the unions wish to carry on peacefully under that beneficent piece of legislation. They do not wish to be hampered more than they are at the present time. They desire to make even greater use of the act than they have in the past.
M.v respected leader, and the little band who support him in this chamber, ari; powerless to prevent the Government from passing the bill and giving effect to it. As a matter of fact, as I said when the Leader of the Government in the Senate brought the bill forward it might as well be passed without discussion, because the eloquence of honorable members on thi3 side would be of no avail. It is useless to endeavour to persuade the Government to withdraw the measure.
The union with which I am associated has shown its patriotism by refraining from causing strikes. It has been responsible for only one strike since tbe Arbitration Act has been in force, and that exception was due, not to any objection to the act, but to an unfortunate calculation made by a responsible judge. This bill, I fear, will compel even my union to consider whether it is worth while continuing its registration under the act, or whether it would be better for it to depend upon its industrial might. I submit that the Arbitration Act has been of immense benefit to the workers; it has helped many organizations of employees in the textile industries, in which a large number of women and girls are employed. They were shockingly underpaid and with their small contributions they were unable to build up a big fighting fund; but they were able to take advantage of the Arbitration Act and convince the court of the justice of their cause, in opposition to the best legal talent in the country. They obtained redress that could not have been secured in any other way. To unions such as the miners’ and the engineers’ organizations, the Arbitration Act has not been such a great boon as it has to the weaker bodies. It would be possible for my organization to conduct a guerilla warfare from one end of Australia to the other that would harass the Government to an extraordinary extent without affecting our members very much. But that is not our policy. Nothing is further from our thoughts than to do anything like that. But I warn the Government that legislation of this character will have the effect of driving law-abiding organizations like my own, away from the court, and converting them into an armed camp.
SenatorReid. - It is because trade unions have not been obeying the law that the Government has introduced this bill.
– The provisions in the original act enabled the Government to do almost anything that it wished to do. I have very good reasons to know, because I was in trouble once. I have often wondered, when certain things were happening, why full advantage was nol taken of all the provisions in the act. and why the Government or the court did not use its full powers. On one occasion, the court tackled my union, and powerful as we are, it spiked our guns. If that were possible under the act in the case of my union, surely it was possible in the case of other unions, so there should be no occasion for the introduction of this bill. The Government would be wise if it burnt the measure, and concentrated on a number . of needed amendments of the principal act. If the disabilities under which organizations suffer as regards getting claims before the court, were removed, 90 per cent, of the industrial troubles in Australia would disappear.
This bill, I repeat, will tend to drive law-abiding organizations away from the court, and that certainly will not make for industrial peace. We who are closely identified ‘ with the trade union movement, know better than most other people how unwise it is to have an army of unemployed in the Commonwealth. This is one reason why we deplore the action of the Government in this matter. We are firmly convinced that the bill will not ease the industrial situation in any way. There has been a good deal of talk about the number of people who are thrown out of work owing to strikes in Australia, but there has been no mention of the millions of pounds that are lost annually because of unemployment, the responsibility for which must rest principally upon the Government.
– This bill will not touch any one who obeys the law.
– I say that it will, and I have already instanced the case of my own organization. The bill contains many objectionable provisions. I do not suggest that all of the employers of Australia will take advantage of them, but I know that a number are capable of doing anything. These are the people for whom the law must be made. Trade unionists are, in the main, law-abiding citizens, and it is impossible to put legirons on them. The history of the industrial movement teaches us that. It is only a little over 100 years ago since men were gaoled and persecuted for being ‘ members of a trade union, but the restrictive legislation of the time and the punishment meted out to offenders against the law, did not prevent men from coming together in such organizations. The result of that persecution is seen in ‘ the magnificent organizations which we have to-day, which exercise a considerable influence on the social life of the Commonwealth. No amount of restrictive legislation will check for ever the onward march of progress. It is impossible to keep a good man down. The cause of industrial peace will not be furthered by the passing of this bill in its present form. On the contrary, the Government and all those who support the measure will lose, the respect not only of those who are directly connected with trade unionism, but also of other sections of the community that have an inherent sense of justice, and will not tolerate ‘anything that savours of repression or coercion. The Government, I repeat, would be wise to drop the bill, and give its attention to the removal of the disabilities under which trade unions are labouring. If the Ministry does this, it will render a distinct service to the Commonwealth.
– This bill may not be all that we would like it to be but it has been submitted in fulfilment of a promise made by the Government at’ the last general election. Senator Barnes has just stated that it ought to be burned. I do not agree with him. The present industrial position is so desperate that the Government is to be commended for having attempted to furnish a remedy. It is the duty of the Ministry to provide the necessary legislative machinery for the maintenance of order, and to ensure obedience to the country’s laws. Having had considerable experience of the arbitration system I am satisfied that, as a people, we have been coddled somewhat; I believe that if the Arbitration Court had disciplined trade unionists as they should have been disciplined, Australia would be the better for it to-day. Trade unionists in many cases have thought nothing of breaking an award; their attitude towards an order of the Arbitration Court has been similar to that of the average publican towards the 6 o’clock closing law - that it was made only to be broken. Every right-thinking man likes others to believe that his word is his bond; that all honorable undertakings entered into by him will be duly observed. Should not the same principle apply to industrial organizations when they obtain awards from the Arbitration Court ? No one can deny that the working conditions in Australia are better, the wages higher, and the people happier than in any other country. And I would say to those men who are making all this trouble, “ Go to Russia ; go to Germany ; go anywhere; but for God’s sake, go out of Australia.” I do not wish to be unkind; but I cannot help thinking that Australia would bc the button, and no one would raise any objection, if certain extremists were in Heaven to-night. What is going to be the result if a number of people are determined to take more out of Australia than they are prepared to put into it? It is regrettable that our industrial organizations should be handicapped by being obliged to maintain a set of agitators - men who have no responsibility, and whose chief aim appears to be selfaggrandisement. These are the men who are dominating the industrial position to-day. They have brains. So have a considerable section of trade unionists; but unhappily the latter’s brains are always back-firing. These agitators are responsible for much of our present troubles. Australia has been blessed by a succession of able Prime Ministers who have had the interests of the Commonwealth at heart; but, unfortunately many of the leaders of industrial organizations have not been animated by the same high purpose. They do not give an adequate return for the £8 or £9 a week which they receive.
– How much did the honorable senator get when he was in the movement?
– Nothing, and in the end I got kicked out.
– Many of the present-day industrial leaders do not ‘want peace.
– That is so. They get £8 or £9 a week, and are provided with an office and a typewriter.
– And some of them have motor cars.
– And some have motor bicycles. Whenever a strike occurs these men do not suffer loss of pay. They draw full wages, but the trade unionist who is on strike has to be content with what he can get. Looking at the history of industrial unionism, I realize that a man who lifts his organization out of a rut does a great work; but still greater work is done by the man who prevents it from falling over the industrial precipice. Some persons in the past conceived the idea of making the Labour movement bigger and more powerful by affiliating with it the whole of the trade unions. What did that mean? The principles of trade unionism were departed from, and the unions became the infernal political fighting machines that they are to-day. No honorable senator can deny that that is so. I regard the Australian Workers’ Union as the only real trade union in Australia to-day. Senator Barnes is its president, and its members should pray fervently that he will continue to live for many more years. If the union loses his guidance it will go overboard.
Another class of men who came into the movement some years ago was that which I was pleased to term the “ black coat brigade “. They never did any work; they wore out two seats of their trousers to one pair of knees. They came into the movement for what they could get out of it. Fancy a lawyer joining the Labour movement! That class of man saw the opportunities which were afforded by the affiliation of the trade unions and the political Labour party and some of them have succeeded in enriching themselves to the extent of thousands of pounds at the expense of honest trade unionists. They are the men who to-day are making the most noise. I saw some of their type at a meeting in Adelaide only the other night. As trade unionists one would not buy them if they were put up as a job lot. They are opposing this bill for all they are worth. I put it to honorable senators that nine out of every ten Labour members of another place secretly believe in the bill and are praying for its passage. I am not blind. I can tell from a man’s expression what he means, and from the twinkle in his eye what he thinks. If’ the measure was submitted to-morrow to a vote of the trade unionists in Australia, 80 per cent, of them would signify their wish that it should become law. We have been sent here by the people, and we have no right , to excite prejudice, enmity, illwill or evil speaking for the purpose of gaining a few votes. The real reason for the opposition of a certain class to the bill is a desire to win the next election. They have no consideration for the present generation. There is nothing more cruel in Australia to-day than the party political machine. It is a question of “ My party before all ; let Australia go hang.” In this matter, we are dealing with what vitally concerns our fellow men. The employer and the workman have lost , confidence in each other, and this is an attempt to bring them together so that that confidence may be restored.
– It will not have that effect.
– It may not, if the honorable senator and his friends preach that doctrine. He will flout his intelligence and his susceptibility to the needs of his fellow men if he adopts such a practice. What have the leaders of the Labour movement taught their fellow men during the last twelve years?
– Class consciousness.
– When they get on the box they refer to the workers as “ Fellow slaves “. Fancy putting such a plaster on a workman in Australia today! The days of serfdom have passed. We have never lived in better days than those which we now enjoy, and the privileges accorded to working men have never been greater. The marine cooks did not go on strike because of low wages or bad working conditions. They struck against work. In Adelaide the other day two men were offered £15 by the Tramways Trust to uproot a big gum tree. They turned down the offer. Two friends of mine accepted the contract, and on Friday they divided £20, because they also had the right to dispose of the wood in whatever way they chose. This bill has been introduced because the workers are hindering the production of Australia.
SenatorSirGeorgePearce-Someof them are.
– On a big subject like this one cannot differentiate. I have heard workers referred to as “beasts of burden.” Is there anything more distressing than the preaching of such a doctrine? Why not teach man that he is fashioned in the likeness of God, and that he must stand four square to his responsibilities? I always derive pleasure from work, and any man who does not is of no value to either Australia or any other country. God said, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” That cannot be controverted. Our arbitration law makes it possible for the workers to get the last half-penny out of their employers if they are honest. I have participated in three strikes, and I can confidently assert that one-half of the men do not know the reason for any strike. Many of them cannot tell the difference between eighteen pence and a hen and chicken. - The provisions of this measure are not too strongly drawn. How are we to make Australia equal to other nations if we are not prepared to work? No man can say to-day that he lacks the opportunity to develop his intellectual and moral facul- ties. I question whether we have not carried the principle of free education a little too far.
The industrial conditions in Australia during recent years have been so disturbed that the Government has been compelled to introduce an amending arbitration measure in an endeavour to secure industrial stability. It is regrettable that because several marine cooks could not secure the assisttance to which they considered they were entitled, and for which provision was not made in the award under which they were working, they went on strike, with the result, that thousands of men who were not in any way concerned in the dispute have been thrown out of employment. If these men were being unjustly treated they should have referred their complaint to the tribunal which has been constituted for the settlement of such matters. As the result of years of experience in the industrial arena I have no hesitation in saying that a strike is idiotic and useless. Years ago it was the only weapon the workers had at their disposal; but conditions have altered. If men wish to succeed they must work, but unfortunately employment is not available to many deserving men. A few days ago I was approached in the street by a man 37 years of age who said : “ What are you going to do for me ? “ I replied, “ What do you expect a man 72 years old to do for a man of your age?” Men must work; but there are unfortunately many who have no such inclination.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion of “Jock” Garden?
– I believe that when a man who has once been a parson enters the Labour movement he is a devil.
– What of Johnson?
– He is largely responsible for a good deal of the industrial unrest which prevails to-day. Mr. Tom Walsh, who has taken a very prominent part in many of the industrial troubles on the waterfront possesses, I think, a well-balanced brain, but he has been on the wrong road. Years ago there were many fine fellows associated with the Miners’ Association of which I was a member - men who were always in favour of a federation of unions and the establishment of a central executive council. They had their way and that was the end of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. A short time ago one of the cleverest engineers who has appeared before the Arbitration Court, and concerning whom Mr. Justice Powers spoke very highly, was dismissed from his union and was afterwards asked to become an honorary member. This man, who for over 36 years had been the secretary of the organization, was thrown overboard because of the action taken by two or three men in Sydney. There are some lovely things up there. There is no need for Italians who hawk images in the streets to be short of supplies; there are plenty already available in that city. We need discipline in every walk of life. If my father had not disciplined me I should have been an uncontrollable animal instead of a reasonable man. If we do not observe the divine law which is above all others, we have no foundation for our civilization. We should never have Lad slavery, strikes, the persecution of the weak, or any other troubles if men had loved God, and had observed the injunction, “ Seek ye the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” There are some who do not like to hear me speak in this strain, but if men prayed as much as they swore, the world would be better than it is to-day.
If secret ballots for which provision is made in the bill, were held when industrial troubles arose, strikes would seldom occur. I was on strike on one occasion for 27 weeks, during which time no strike pay was available. On that occasion the rules of the Australian Miners’ Association were flouted, and because of that no funds were forthcoming from other unions. I believe that if secret ballots were compulsory, eight out of every ten strikes would be averted.
– The honorable senator is right there.
– I think I am. Reference has been made to the penalties that can be imposed, and to the punishment which may be meted out to some individuals; but the punishments provided in this bill are infinitesimal when compared with those which certain persons will experience later if they do not adopt different tactics. A secret ballot is an honest way of ascertaining the opinion, of the men. Why should certain individuals object to men earning their living ? There are always some who wish to push the other fellow into the ditch.
– They will not lot a man earn a living.
– Is that in New South Wales?
– No. The honorable senator knows that the party with which he is associated, gave me five years of hell in South Australia. It declared me black and everything else, merely because I held to my convictions. If a member of the Labour party to-day has a strong personality and a lively individuality, they kick him out. The vision of the members of that party has become so restricted that if a real man comes into their presence, they fail to see him. ..No more Labour party for me.
I intend to support the second reading of the bill, but there are several of its provisions upon which, in committee, I shall seek some information, because my view at present is that they are overbearing and will be hurtful rather than helpful. We need a measure such as this. I am reminded of the Cornishman who said that “If thee gets what thee wants and wants what thee gets, thee ought to . be happy.” The workers of Australia are, I believe, getting what they want, and as they will want what they get, they ought to be gloriously happy. I support the bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
– I was about to remark, Mr. President, when you left the chair for the dinner adjournment that I was pleased to see that the bill deals with boycotting, and the practice of declaring a man “ black.” I think it is a very essential provision. A dark man does not object to being called black; but when a man is of fair complexion and has blue eyes, he does not like to be described as “ black.” In this age of ours, I do not know of anything more wicked than that a man should be called a “ scab “ or a coloured labourer, because his principles and his convictions differ from those of others. [ have been a labour man . all my life. I challenge any one to say that I have not done as much for the workers of South Australia as any other man, but I have ‘ been declared an outcast from labour, because I differed from labour views, first on the question of the war, and later because I refused to fall in with a demand for a standard wage for a dying industry. I believe in the British Empire. I have lived under the British flag all my life. I believe in Old England, just as I believe in God. As for the question of wages, on which I was attacked, the men affected were working in a mine that had been worked for 53 years. For eighteen years a sliding scale had been in operation and had worked without difficulty until there came on the scene some howling, mealy-mouthed bolsheviks. Some of them came over from Sydney and got hold of the cars of the workers in the mine, and the miners listened to them. I opposed them. For over a year I had paid money out of my pocket for the welfare of men and women who had spent their lives in the district and whose ages were too far advanced to permit them to remove elsewhere. I was dubbed a “scab,” although I had never had a bad disease in my life. It is almost inconceivable that in these enlightened days it should be necessary to protect the individual against a crowd of wicked men evilly designed, but because I oppose these so-called labour men, and because I stood for Parliament against a so-called Labour candidate, a man who floated into Parliament on the blood of soldiers - he would not have won otherwise - I was declared an outlaw. For five long years all that I was allowed to earn to keep a widowed daughter who looked after my home and her three fatherless children was £125.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Is the honorable senator proposing to connect his remarks with the bill?
– Yes. They are in relation to the provision in the bill that deals with boycotting and calling a man a “ scab.” The trouble about the controversy that has arisen over the bill is that although we live in an age when every man should be able to think and act for himself, there are many people who do not think for themselves. They prefer to let others think for them. Some people who are opposed to the bill have said, “Burn it,” but in my opinion the measure will prove to be the salvation of the workers of Australia if only they are willing to have confidence in it. Any legislation we pass loses its value immediately we, who are the workers, lose our confidence in it. What is the value of a law if we think we can break it when we choose? It is often said of a man that his word is his bond. We cannot say that of men in the Labour party today. There is no honour among them. They talk about class- consciousness, but they never talk about a Commonwealth consciousness. They take all they can get out of the State without giving anything in return.
I feel that I am justified in supporting the bill. Nothing hurt me more than when I stood in the Trades Hall and was shown the open door and told to get out. After all my honest labour, after filling many offices in the movement, and working for it in season and out of season, it hurt me to be toldto get out by a lot of men who were not fit to sit in judgment on one who had been all his life in the movement. Afterwards everywhere I went looking for work, the reply I got was, I am very sorry, but if you come here we shall have to get out.” I was up against that for five years, until eventually I was chosen to represent the State of South Australia in this Senate. Was there anything manly about the attitude of the Labour party to me ? Was it even ordinary common sense ? No, I was dealing with men who had lost their moral conscience and all sense of honour. One man met me in the street and asked me what I was doing to get a living. I told him I was collecting. His reply was, “ That’s good enough. We’ll starve you into the poorhouse.” In this present-day civilization is a man to be told that he must starve because he will not bend the knee to others? I have never asked any man to bend the knee to me, and I shall never bend my knee to others.
– Yet the Labour party declares that it does not believe in victimization.
– There are men in the Labour party who would victimize their own mothers. Capital and labour must walk together. I have nothing against honest Labour men. I have for them the same kindly feeling that I had for them years ago, but I have no such feeling for the man who is going through Australia crying “Down with capitalism.” Capitalism is here, and will stay; Labour is here and will stay; trade unionism is here, and I do not know any one who wants to see it depart. It is a healthy body to have in the community so long as it does not prostitute the principles on which it was built up in the first place.
The bill we have before us can be made agood measure. If it does not become a good measure the workers of Australia will be responsible. No law, social or economic, can be more powerful than we make it; but Labour must be honest. The conference that Mr. Bruce tried to convene would undoubtedly have been a. blessing if it had met. Both sides could have discussed the whole question of arbitration; but, unfortunately, Labour said, “ We won’t attend it. It is a, Bruce stunt,” and so on. Where is there a more honest man than Mr; Bruce? I hold no brief for him. We do not wash in the same basin ; but as a Prime Minister he is a credit and honour to the Commonwealth. He puts, forth his principles. without fear of contradiction. Then take the Attorney-General. The first time I saw him I thought he would make a fine minister. He would have been a credit to the pulpit. With his genial manner, and his fine analytical mind, it seemed to me that he was a man who could unfold matters plainly. I heard him move the second reading of this bill in another place. His speech was free from nasty things. He is a man of lofty mind, and is good natured. I thought that these two men would have helped to restore the lost confidence between capital and labour. What interpretation can we place on the refusal of Labour to attend that conference than that Labour did not want to confer with capital on the matter of amending the arbitration law? The fundamental principle of this bill is to restore the confidence between capital and labour which has been lost. Some one has placed in my hand a small pamphlet about a communistic school. I do not trouble very much about communists. Like Senator Barnes, I think the sooner that crowd gets away from Australia the better. I am sure they will never be able to bring about a revolution here. The moral conscience and intellectual force of the working man in Australia will overcome all the wicked and destructive ideals of the bolshevik element in our community. We have some of them in South Australia and should be glad to send them to Sydney.
Our primary producers are seriously affected by the “ hold up “ of shipping. Australia is a wonderful country with great possibilities; but capital is needed if its resources are to be fully developed and its population increased. Some people say that Australia does not need a greater population, but they are wrong. I do not say that merely to increase our population we should allow anybody who desires to enter this country to do so. I am a firm believer in the white Australia policy. I believe that in the British Empire there are sufficient people to .populate Australia. I do not desire that our moral and material standards should be lowered. On the contrary, I desire that Australian citizenship shall reach an even higher level than at present. We should not allow any admixture of the races which would result in a lowering of our standards. This bill will help to make Australia a better place in which to live. If a secret ballot of Australian unionists were taken tomorrow, I believe that 80 per cent, of them would vote for this measure. Ninety per cent, of the members of the Labour party in another place, although they opposed the bill, hoped in their hearts that it would become law. The great majority of trade unionists are behind this legislation. Its only opponents are trade union leaders who are in receipt of salaries of £8, £9. or £10 per week, together with a motor car for their use. At one time when there was a strike at Broken Hill I was asked how long I thought it would last. I replied that it would continue so long as Tom Mann was paid £9 per week to run it.
In the interests of the unions themselves, their books should be audited by outside auditors. I do not say that trade union officials are dishonest, but sometimes they make mistakes. We should make it difficult for them to bring disgrace upon their wives and families. The secretary of one trade union in South Australia absconded with £140 of the union’s funds. When I was informed of the name of his successor I predicted that he would have all that remained of those funds. My prediction was fulfilled, because he absconded recently with £40 belonging to1 the union. In the face of such facts, why dp honorable senators say that a bill to discipline trade union officials is not necessary? The manhood of Australia is in need of strong discipline. Senator Barnes allows no one to usurp his position as president of the Australian Workers Union. By his action he has many times saved his union from destruction. With a weaker man in the position one does not know what might have happened. Unfortunately, there are many of the black coat, straw halt, striped neck tie, sharp toe boot brigade, men who have never done an honest day’s work in their lives, connected with the Trades Hall. I believe that this bill will help the unions to reconstruct the social and industrial life of the people of Australia, and assist men to become better citizens.
.- I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate when introducing this bill. He delivered a well prepared attack on present-day unionism. Had I not been a new senator who might have been regarded as a somewhat forward individual, I should have interjected while he was speaking to ask him. to tell us something about the bill itself. The right honorable gentleman’s speech and the speeches of other honorable senators opposite appear to me to be mere electioneering addresses rather than remarks associated with this measure. That the Government is contemplating another attempt to carry the country with the battle cry “ Wipe out the agitators “ is very disconcerting to me. Those tactics succeeded at the last election. The electors believed that certain men who were said to be a menace to the country would be transported from Australia before the next election. But two years have passed and no one has yet been transported. Now we have another bill containing threats and penalties against the organized workers. The framers of the Constitution provided that there should be no discrimination between States. Had they suspected that the day would come when a party in office would discriminate between individuals they would have safeguarded that position also. But such a thing was unthinkable 30 years ago. At that time it was not thought possible that the Parliament of the Commonwealth would enact legislation providing different punishments for the same offence according to the social position of the offender. I address myself to this measure as one who believes in Australia. I am not one of those who have been disappointed with the results of arbitration. I measure the value of arbitration, not by its visible accomplishments, but by what it has prevented.
Senator Pearce quoted from an article by ex-Senator Rae, a man for whose integrity, truthfulness and ability we all have the highest opinion, whatever our political views may be. The right honorable gentleman endeavoured to show that because ex-Senator Rae did not believe in arbitration, the whole
Labour movement did not believe in it. I thank Senator Sir George Pearce for having brought before us ex-Senator Rae’s article entitled “The curse of compulsory arbitration.” That article sets out the views not of organized labour but of Arthur Rae regarding arbitration. If his views are to be, regarded as those of organized labour I should be justified in associating the Nationalist party with the views expressed recently by the right honorable William Morris Hughes regarding Italian migration.
– Since Arthur Rae made the statement to which I have referred he has been selected by the Labour organizations of New South Wales as their candidate for the Senate.
– If Senator Sir George Pearce knew the men from whom those organizations had to select their candidates he would agree that exSenator Rae was the most able man they could secure.
The bill before us provides penalties for a lockout. Seeing that I am at present suffering from a lockout, I can only express the hope that those penalties will be increased. Ex-Senator Rae’s article is a clear exposition of the views of a man who believes that arbitration has failed. Just as earnestly I believe that arbitration has been a wonderful success. My views and those of exSenator Rae are entirely different. He believes that the labour organizations should always be fighting, Throughout my political life, I have worked not so much for the fight as for the victory. I do not want to see Labour always fighting, I want to see it going forward step by step, and by sane and constitutional methods obtaining what it can never obtain by direct action. I make the following quotation from the article by exSenator Rae: -
There can be no question that at the outset organized labour expected great results from arbitration enforced by law, and that although frequently disappointed, yet for many years it was believed that the system was sound in principle and that amendments in the law would eventually remedy all defects and make the system a perfect means for the accomplishment of Labour’s ends.
It is true that that was the anticipation of labour. If I desired to see how far we had gone towards the attainment of that end I should refer to the Australian Workers’ Union of which I have been a member since 1894. When the legislature prevented members of Parliament from being members of that union,- it appointed me an agent so that I could continue membership of it. Since arbitration became the law of this country that union has consistently advocated arbitration, and excepting where State and Federal awards have conflicted, there has been no trouble in the wool industry. Both the pastoralists and the men engaged in that industry have benefited by arbitration. Our judges will have to be careful that that great organization whose ramifications extend throughout the country is not led to believe that the benefits which have accrued to them by their loyalty to arbitration are to be taken from them because of decisions given in favour of the employing class. Let me direct the attention, of honorable senators to one of the conditions in a recent award which, in my judgment, savors distinctly of unfairness. I may say, in passing, that the time of Parliament and the Government might better be employed in endeavouring to inspire a feeling of confidence between employer and employees rather than in creating a suspicion in the minds of one section of the community that it is not getting a fair deal. The award to which I allude relates to the liability of employers, and it contains the following provision : -
A station hand shall be entitled to sue by virtue of this award for only such of the benefits thereof as have accrued to him in respect of work done after he shall have notified his employer in writing that he is a member of the union, provided, notwithstanding, that nothing in this clause shall affect any prosecution for breach of this award.
If honorable senators ask me what is wrong with this, my answer is that in not a few instances, more trouble is caused over imaginary than real grievances. If I, as a member of the Australian Workers’ Union, notified my employer that I was a member of that organization and if he then informed me that he did not require my services, I should feel that I had a grievance against him. My experience, in this matter extends over many years. I can say without fear of contradiction that nothing shakes the confidence of men in arbitration systems so much as awards such as the one I have referred to.
I speak to-night because those who are identified with the militant section of the Labour party - they are pleased to call themselves the advanced section- - take the view that, in recent years, Labour has stood still while all the rest of the world has moved forward. Ex-Senator Bae belongs to this advanced section. All I can say of that section is that it has travelled so fast that I have failed to keep up with it. The foreword of the Pan Pacific Worker states its policy to be-
To fight against and remove all racial and national barriers and prejudices which still divide the exploited classes and oppressed people to the advantage of the capitalists and oppressors.
I take it from that that the object is to wipe out altogether our White Australia policy which, as we understand it, is one of the national barriers mentioned. I think it is more than a coincidence that the pamphlet in question was published on the 2nd of April last. I was in the country at the time and paid little attention to the march of political events. But now that I have read the pamphlet and understand what is the objective of this advanced section, I realize that these advanced Labour men are taking up the fight where the older men have left it. It may also be useful to remember that within a day or two of the publication of this pamphlet, William Morris Hughes made his remarkable pronouncement concerning the White Australia policy at a conference of the Nationalist party.
I have no desire to speak at great length to-night, but I should like to make it clear that ex-Senator Bae’s views on arbitration are by no means endorsed by the rest of the workers of Australia. Speaking generally, the workers have benefited considerably from arbitration. Many years ago, when I was acting as organizer for the Australian Workers Union, my instructions were to endeavour to persuade the employers to pay the workers 6s. a day. I found that they were not at all enthusiastic about that proposal, nor was it easy to persuade the station hands to hold out for that amount. One employer informed me that he had never yet paid his men 6s. a day, and he was not going to make a start. At that time shearers were asking £1 a hundred. One employer informed me that since 1894 he had not paid more than 15s. a hundred, and did not propose to increase the rate merely hecause there was a scarcity of labour through a number of backcountry men going to the Boer War. I then told him that I had looked over his ration list, and noticed that sheep were being charged at 8s. a head, whereas formerly the men were charged only 4s., and I said to him, “I suppose that as there is a scarcity of sheep you are charging more. As there is now a scarcity of men we propose to charge more for their labour.” A few years later the Arbitration Act came into operation, and placed the position of trade unionists on a much better footing. The working classes have benefited appreciably from arbitration; but I warn the Government against the danger of passing unjust measures such as this. If there is one thing more than another which governments should avoid, it is that of appearing to take sides in industrial disputes.
This bill contains many glaring anomalies. There is, for example, the provision imposing a penalty of £20 on an ordinary person for using abusive language, and a penalty of £100 on a person belonging to a trade union. Where is the sense of fair play in that? The law should bear evenly upon every person in the community. I believe thai this bill contains many unfair provisions. I intend, therefore, to submit a number of amendments at the committee stage. We are advised to trust the Government. I ask honorable senators not to travel side by side with the extremists who go so fast that the rest of us appear to be standing still ; not to link themselves with the militant section of the community, but to stand for parliamentary action and proper constitutional means. As one who fought for arbitration for many years, and took a prominent part in many struggles, I can say, in the words of the poet that, we have taught these men the worthier cause, and brought the freeman’s arm to aid the freeman’s laws. We have gained more by constitutional means during the last 25 years than militancy has gained during a century in other countries.
What is the danger to Australia at the present moment? The danger, as I have said, is that governments may appeal to the country on issues that stir the passions of the people, and prevent them from exercising a calm and deliberate judgment on questions that may be brought before them. In this way governments may improperly secure a continuance of office. I realize that governments and leaders of parties are justified in taking full advantage of their opponents; but they are not justified in deliberately preparing measures calculated to irritate one section of the community. My objection to this bill is that it will cause a great deal of irritation to one section. I read the other day the report of a speech delivered by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). In the course of his remarks he referred to certain provisions of the bill and mentioned that the penalties against members of trade unions for breaches of the act were being reduced from £1,000 to £50. But I have read the bill, and I find that there is an extraordinary discrepancy in the penalties imposed by it on individuals. For example, a unionist who goes on strike may be fined £50. But if 1,000 men take part in a strike they may each be fined £50 so the total fines will be £50,000. On the other hand, if an employer locks out 1,000 men the. fine imposed upon him or his .organization will be only £1,000. When the bill is in committee I propose to move an amendment, the effect of which will be to impose on an employer a fine of £50 for every man locked out. The amendment will, in my opinion, equalize the punishment. It is absurd to suggest that a trade unionist could be fined £1,000 as provided in the act. That penalty was never enforced. In all our legislation the penalties imposed for breaches of the law should be commensurate with the offence committed. Does any one argue that it is fair to fine a member of a trade union £50 and an ordinary individual only £20 for the use of abusive language in the heat of passion - at a time when men may honestly believe that they are fighting for their existence, their homes and their children? I frequently use heated language because of the heights of anger to which I am roused over what some honorable senators opposite may regard as trivial matters. If I plead guilty of the offence, how much more reason is there for forgiveness of a trade unionist who uses abusive language in moments of anger, when he believes that the welfare of those who are dear to him is at stake. There is no reason why members of trade unions should be singled out for these heavy penalties.
I am satisfied that when the history of the industrial movement in Australia comes to be written, the brightest pages in it will be those devoted to the work done by the pioneers, who sacrificed so much to make the conditions of their fellow men better. I am not raging against the employers because, as I read history, the reason why our industrial progress has not been greater is that the workers themselves have been so contented. I invite honorable senators to
Study the industrial history of Great Britain during the eighteenth century, which marked the birth of trade unionism in the mother country. What were the conditions obtaining at that time? History tells us that children, only nine years of age, were employed in the coal mines, and that when Parliament passed a law raising the age to eleven years, mine owners clamoured that their industry would be ruined because they would not be permitted to employ the younger children. Among the witnesses who gave evidence before that famous select committee which investigated the conditions was the overlooker, whose duties, I presume, would be similar to those that are performed to-day by an overseer. He said that, after having worked for 12, 14 and 16 hours a day, little children had to be whipped, and sometimes they had to have water thrown over them, tq keep them awake, so that they could do their work. I am not altogether condemning the employers. In many cases the workmen themselves made their children, work just as long hours. They had to do it to obtain from production sufficient to enable them to exist. We have never had those harsh conditions in this country. We have never been ground down to that level. Surely we can tolerate little pinpricks and struggles without wishing to magnify them, and to say that they will bring about the ruin of industry!
I was a little disconcerted at the possibility of’ an early election, when I heard Senator Duncan make such a wellbalanced speech. It certainly possessed the quality of sensibility, and had been well thought out. He did not altogether lose touch with his old friends while he attempted to keep in the good graces of his newly acquired friends. He made the usual reference to the loss occasioned to industry by men going out on strike. While the team of English cricketers is in Australia I shall be prepared to sit beside him and try to tally up each day the amount that is lost to production as a result of the idleness of the thousands of people who will leave their work to watch the games in which it engages. No complaint will be made in Parliament about such a loss .of time. I am a good enough sport to say that there is no loss; that these national games, which teach us to be sports and to take a beating if need be, are well worth a place in any schemeof education in a British community. But what is the use of carping at the few pounds which industry loses because men go on strike to better their conditions? I do not want to see strikes resorted to for that purpose. I believe that they are always a failure. That is why I pin my faith to arbitration. The empty stomach cannot fight the full purse. The employer has only to sit still and forego his profits for a month or two, until the unfortunate worker is starved into subjection, and is forced to return to conditions that may be worse than those which he left. .
I am of an optimistic, hopeful nature. I believe that arbitration ‘has done an immense amount of good for the working classes of this community, and a great deal more for the employing classes. They were afraid of the effect pf higher wages and shorter hours. It is one of my delights to study the balancesheets of the big companies in this country, and note the profits which they make year after year. I do not say that every industry is profitable; but if any honorable senator will read the financial columns of his morning newspaper he will gain some idea of the profits that are being made. The nominal value of the shares of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is £20, but their selling value at the present time is £60. They must be doing fairly well, or their shares would not he quoted at that figure. Their value has doubled since the Labour party was instrumental in having wages increased and hours shortened. That great employer of labour in America, Henry Ford, set an example to the whole world, and showed that production was not made more profitable by maintaining a low standard of wages. He raised the wages of his workmen from $2.40 to $5 a day, in one act.
– He saw that they earned it.
– He did that against the advice of his directors, who said that he would make the concern bankrupt. It has always been argued that industry will fail because of the great demands that are made by labour upon it. Every honorable senator knows that machines have been invented which make it possible to produce more in a day than can be produced by manual labour in a month. But the workers get no more; they receive only enough to live on. Let me again quote from the remarks of ex-Senator Rae. Referring to a policy of stagnation, he says -
Another, and perhaps the most disastrous effect of the arbitration system is that it has a direct tendency to keep the working class standing still while the rest of the universe is constantly progressing or, at any rate, constantly changi ug. Awards are based on the basie wage though they ure varied according to the degree of skill required, exceptional danger, or the inconveniences or unhealthiness of the surroundings. But no matter what these marginal differences may be, the basic principle is that the wage awarded shall keep the worker and his family “ in frugal comfort “ and permit them a few of the cheaper forms of pleasure, in return for which he must render humble obedience to the court, never go on strike, and must hold the law in the deepest veneration. Also, when any concession is withdrawn or his wages reduced, lie must realize that what the law has given the law can take away and blessed is the name of the law.
There is a great deal of food for thought in statements of that character. ExSenator Rae has expressed the view not of the Labour party in New South Wales, but of a keen thinker, and one who can express his thoughts clearly Some enthusiasts who prefer more substantial results may hold different opinions. He also says -
But supposing everything is worked as fairly as the system permits, even then it means that the workers as a class will never be any better or any worse off than their first award made them, because while nominal wages may rise or fall their purchasing power, which constitutes real wages, remains approximately the same. Now, when any legal system condemns a huge majority of the people to a condition of stagnation and, moreover, expects them under severe penalties to accept that position without daring to make any effective protest, what must be the consequence? Clearly the choice can only lie between rebellion or slavery and it depends entirely on the courage and mental make-up of the workers which position they will take up.
Some honorable senators may seize upon the reference to “ rebellion or slavery “ and say that he is in favour of a rebellion. He wants nothing of the kind, and neither do we. But I do not want the laws of this country to contain any provision that appears so unfair that it may be used as an argument to induce any person, either unionist or nonunionist, to range himself on the side of rebellion and against constitutionalism. We must all strive to avoid that. We have to realize that a unionist i3 not a criminal, and we must not by legislation seek to make him one. If a man can be punished for ceasing work, can it be said that he is other than a slave? Do honorable senators opposite wish to adopt the role of a Simon Legree? If they saw the slave boss’s whip cutting into the backs of coloured labourers would not their blood rise against such a degradation being placed upon mankind? It is just as cruel to impose penalties upon men who earnestly believe that they are struggling for better conditions. I am dreading the effect of this legislation. It must be remembered that speeches which are favorable to it will rarely reach the ears of the workers. They will have only the version of those who wish to make them believe that the quick road to superior conditions is direct action. In one place this measure is described as the “ Bruce Coercion Bill “, and in another place as the “ Australian Blackleg’s Charter”. This is the language in which it is summed up : -
Comment on this is unnecessary. To sum up the Bruce Coercion Bill in plain English, as we have issued in pamphlet form, it means -
Taking away from the trade unions the elementary right to strike.
Forcing men and women to work on the bosses’ terms.
Disbanding the unionsand handing over their fluids and property to groups of scabs.
Controlling the internal affairs ofthe trade unions in the interests of the employers.
Protecting and fostering the growth of scabs and re- actionary trade union officers within the unions, who will sell the workers into thehands of the employers.
Breaking the trade unions financially.
Preventing the trade unions, through the boycott or other means, from using any economic weapon against their enemies.
Paving the way to a general offensive by the employers against the wages and hours of the workers.
Over-riding and nullifying any awards favorable to the workers which have been introduced by the various State Labour Governments and State courts.
Generally breaking up the organization of the trade unions in order to make the workers helpless against the attacks which the employers are preparing against the existing standard of living of the workers of Australia.
I do not say that that is a perfectly straight statement in regard to the bill; but I feel that it will be better for this Government, for this Parliament, and for the people of Australia, if this attempt to bring the unions into subjection by the use of the “ big stick “ is not persisted in. It must be remembered that the democracy of Australia have had the benefits of education, and are able to think and write. I say candidly that you can stamp out a small industrial trouble by the use of force and coercion, but the moment it becomes so geat that the men believe that the fight is against unionism the drastic type of legislation is the worst that could be placed on the statutebook. The preservation of law and order is dependent upon the power of the Government, backed up by public opinion, not upon military organization or police forces. Drastic penalties and harsh conditions cannot be enforced in opposition to the wish of a majority of the people. Whenever a wave of crime passes over this country, men who have never thought out social problems write to the newspapers urging that it be stamped out by the imposition of heavy penalties, and complaining that the magistrates and judges are too lenient. The stamping out of crime is a slow process and must be brought about by the education of the human mind, so that it will turn from brute force to reason. In the ranks of the trade unions at the present time there is the dread that the Government is preparing the way for an opportunity to crush unionism. The penalties provided in this measure are unusually severe, and those to be imposed upon trade unionists are much heavier than the penalties which the employers are ever likely to be called upon to pay. There should not be any discrimination in matters of this kind. During the Great War trade unionists, militants, and representatives of all sections of the community were banded together in a great endeavour. All sections of the community were represented. There was no such discrimination then. We always seem to be faced with the problem of a conflict between one section, which is said to be causing industrial trouble, and another that is always frantically endeavouring to preserve what they term law and order. We are the most law-abiding community on the face of the earth. Like Mr. Rae, I sometimes think that we are too peace-loving, and allow our freedom and liberty to be filched from us. Clause 52 provides that for certain offences, such as the use of insulting language, the penalty shall be £20, or in the case of an officer of a registered organization, £100.
– The honorable senator has left out a paragraph which is most important.
– I am quoting from the bill circulated for the information, of honorable senators, and if it is not the same as other honorable senators have in their possession it is not my fault. The penalties provided are as I have stated. If the Government has changed its mind, the measure I have before me is the one which has been brought before trade-union organizations with the object, shall I say, of stirring them up. On the first page of this measure I read, “ This, bill originated in the House of Representatives, and having this day passed, is now ready for presentation to the Senate for its concurrence.” It cannot be said that I am not quoting from the right bill. The proposed sub-section from which I am quoting is on page 20, at the bottom of which penalties of the amount I have Stated are provided. Why should there be any discrimination between members of unions and its officers? As the framers of our Constitution provided that there should be no discrimination between the States, so we also should provide that there shall be no discrimination between Australian citizens in the matter of penalties.
In another portion of the bill it is provided that ten members of an organization may demand a secret ballot of the whole organization, but I venture to say that any one who knows trade unionists will admit that such a provision is quite unworkable. When the Boer War was threatening, that much quoted humourist Dooley said’ that if he were Kruger he would give the Uitlanders a vote; but would reserve to himself the right to count the votes! If a secret ballot is to enable the individual members of an organization to express their opinions, what is likely to happen? I am not suggesting that the ballot will be “crook” or that the counting will be inaccurate ; but they will take a legitimate ballot and will win every time. During the years I have been connected with industrialism in New South Wales I have found, with few exceptions, the men with whom I have been associated always earnest and honest. It may be possible, in some instances, to . single out one or two whose integrity has not been up to the usual standard of unionists, but that can also be said of some who are found amongst the employing class. There are Black sheep in every flock. The Government would never suggest that the affairs of friendly societies should be controlled by legislation of this nature. It will be said of course that there are certain members of the community whose actions are disturbing our commercial activities, and cousing industrial strife, but during the 23 years I have been associated with trade unionism, I have never known men to cease work unless they have had a legitimate grievance. I am not advocating strikes, and if I were a member of the Marine Cooks Union I should be willing to suffer even a little longer and have my grievances adjusted by constitutional methods rather than resort to direct action. In some instances, however, men are driven to. take drastic action. When travelling on a passenger steamer some time ago, I left a table in the . saloon which was spread with all the luxuries one could desire, and saw when going to my cabin the stewards, who had been working sometimes all day and long into the night, sitting along the alley way eating their food from their hands.
– That was not on an Australian ship.
– I am speaking of what I saw ten or fifteen years ago on a big liner; but since then I know there has been great changes on our coastal ships. But what right have ten members of a union consisting of perhaps thousands of men to claim a secret ballot? Ten members of this chamber cannot outvote the other 26. Why should ten members of a union direct a course of action to which perhaps ‘ thousands are opposed? Unionists will always see that there is fair play.
Let us consider the provisions of this measure very closely to see if it cannot be improved in committee. We should see that every law which passes through this Senate bear on its pages the imprimatur of fair play. I should like the Government even at this stage to withdraw the bill just as it is likely to withdraw the Empire Exhibition Bill which was strongly opposed in another place. Some time ago, Parliament passed a Crimes Bill under which it proposed to deport Walsh and Johnson; but what happened? The Government found that it had not the power it thought it possessed. The Government is always professing a desire to secure industrial peace, but has now submitted a measure that will stink in the nostrils of decent men. An attempt is being made to treat the workers of Australia as criminals. Has the Government the right to propose the unnecessarily heavy penalties which are provided in this measure, merely because a few men are fighting for better conditions? Has the Government any right to send men to gaol for refusing to work? Is that an offence? One of the greatest rights which we, as British people, enjoy is ‘that of free speech. Are we now to be deprived of that right? Under the common law of England British people have the right of free speech; but under this measure the exercise of that right is to be made a criminal offence.
I intend to oppose this bill to the utmost of my ability, because the penalties proposed are harsh, and because it will be the means of causing more industrial strife than there is in Australia to-day. It is an attempt tq destroy the spirit which has made Great Britain the country she is to-day, and which has given her the strength which she possesses. I do not wish a state of industrial unrest to prevail; but I should not like to see the representatives of the States in this chamber following a false trail that will not lead them anywhere. I am prepared to speak openly oh the public platform and suffer, if necessary - as thousands of other men have suffered for asserting their rights - in an endeavour to secure to those who come after me the rights which they should enjoy. It is true, as Senator Duncan said, that we could not achieve much by the exercise of force ; a case that rested upon force alone would be doomed to failure. We should proceed cautiously with the consideration of this measure, and not endeavour to rush it hurriedly through its committee stages. If men. have a legitimate grievance they will strike, and we cannot stop them. I suppose if a man leaves his work he will be accused of striking. I have spoken somewhat strongly, because I think this measure is one of the worst and most irritating that has ever been submitted to this Parliament. I ask, even at this late hour, if the Government will not reconsider its decision, withdraw the bill, and let us see if we cannot obtain, by means of conciliation, the objective we all seek. Let us try to restore confidence between those who toil and those who employ. The restoration is not only possible; it has been secured in a great many cases, notwithstanding the efforts of those extremist militants who are advancing so rapidly that old fogies like myself get out of breath trying to keep pace with them. But I cannot support a bill of this nature, that will lead us nowhere unless it be into paths of danger.
.-H I congratulate Senator Gardiner on his maiden effort. Although he has been absent from the chamber for about two years, he has evidently lost none of his cleverness in debate. He told us that he had listened very attentively to the speeches made on the bill, and had heard very little about the contents of the measure. I listened very attentively to the honorable senator’s speech, and I do not think he referred to the bill for more than a couple of minutes; when he did attempt to quote a provision in it he left out its most salient features. Having heard the honorable senator I am satisfied he knows nothing about the bill. In the early portion of his speech he said that because he was a strong believer in conciliation and arbitration he was out of step with the militant section of his party. If he had read the measure he would know that it is mainly designed to bring about conciliation where conciliation does not apply at the present time, and to make arbitration easier instead of more difficult. He referred to what he called the “bad old days.” He spoke of employers in countries where they have black slaves, and of how men winced at the thought of the backs of these men being laid open with the slave drivers’ lash. He referred to the child labour of Great Britain a hundred years ago. Is there any honorable member of this Senate who stands for that sort of thing, or desires to do anything to injure trade unionism? Is there any honorable senator who believes that this bill will do anything to injure trade unionism? As a matter of fact it has been designed to make trade unionism better in Australia and to improve the lot of trade unionists. The honorable senator at the conclusion of his remarks said, “Let us have conciliation.” If he had read the bill he would have seen that it contains provisions for the extension of the principle of conciliation. As an exMinister of the Crown and as a man who has been in political life for many years he must know that one of the greatest disadvantages of- the Federal Arbitration Court is that owing to the limitations of the Federal Constitution it is practically powerless to function until a dispute comes into existence. Everything that could be done to make the power of the court more elastic has been done by the present Government.. During its term of office it has amended the law to enable the court to function more speedily and render it more accessible to the workers. One would think from the remarks of honorable .senators opposite than those supporting the Government contemplated, by means of this bill, a concerted attack upon trade unionists. If we wanted to commit political suicide wo might do that. Thousands and thousands of good trade unionists in Australia vote for the Nationalist party. Probably more of them vote for it than for the Labour party. They realize that they can get more generous treatment for trade unions from the Nationalist party than they are likely to get through the tubthumping tactics of honorable senators opposite. The loud-mouthed vapourings that achieve no practical result, have kept honorable senators of the Labour party in opposition, and are likely to keep them there for many years to come. Senator Gardiner protested against the penalties provided in this act. When Senator Gardiner was a member of a Labour government, the Federal Arbitration Act, then on the statute-book of Australia, contained most of the penalties which the honorable senator describes as excessive, and which he claims have been provided for by the present Government to oppress and crush trade unionists in this country. He knows that most of them are in the original act, but he obviously chose to quote them to-night for political party purposes. I do not know that he took any action to have them removed when he was a Minister. I do not know that he ever raised any strong objection to them. In the course of his speech to-night he told us that he believed in the principle of conciliation and arbitration ; that he believed in the handshake rather than the fight. Every honorable senator who is supporting the bill is doing so because he thinks the measure will encourage industrial peace. The honorable senator referred to the men who carried the burden of Labour in the early days. He will find those men sitting on the Ministerial side of the chamber to-day. He will_find that some of them are members of the present Government.
Honorable senator after honorable senator opposite has claimed that practically the whole of the industrial legislation on the various statute-books of Australia has been passed as the result of the efforts of the Labour party. Since I have been a member of this Parliament, and in my experience in the State of Queensland, I have seen a tremendous amount of beneficial industrial legislation placed on the statute-book by governments strongly opposed to the Labour party. Senator Gardiner spoke of the awful conditions which apply on vessels, and mentioned that when he was travelling in luxury to Great Britain, he saw stewards eating their meals out of their hands in alleyways. He said afterwards he was talking of British ships over which the Australian Government has no control. I remind him that it was a Nationalist government that brought into force the Commonwealth Navigation Act which has given the seamen, stewards, and others who work on ships trading on the Australian coast, better conditions and’ wages than are enjoyed by workers on the vessels of any other country.
– That act was placed on the statute-book by a Labour government, and Senator Pearce was the Labour Minister that piloted the bill through the Senate.
– It was a Nationalist government that brought the act into force by proclamation. Labour, when in .power, took no steps to have the act proclaimed. But the point I seek to make is that the people who have benefited by the proclamation of the Navigation Act have yet to show that they are deserving of the benefits it has conferred upon them. The privileges they enjoy are abused as no other privileges have been abused by any set of workers. The bulk of the trouble occasioned on our coast is brought about by men who are enjoying those privileges.
Senator Needham, Senator Gardiner, and Senator Barnes have referred to the secret ballot provisions of the bill. Senator Pearce has shown the results that have followed the holding of secret ballots. Who is holding up our shipping industry to-day? The smallest section of men who work on our ships. So exasperated has become the .Brisbane branch of the Marine Cooks’ Union, that is has declared that it will have nothing more to do with the present dispute. For the last three years it has never had any voice in the affairs of the union, and its members are prepared to man the ships no matter what decision is arrived at in the other States. It is also prepared to send its members to other parts of Australia. “What would have been the result if a secret ballot had been held among the members of the cooks’ union? They would not have been on strike to-day. Those honorable senators who travel between the mainland and Tasmania or go by sea as they frequently do to “Western Australia and Queensland, converse freely with the men on the ships, mid discuss industrial affairs with them. Each man they talk with says that, on every occasion he is pulled out of his ship to go on strike, the orders are given not by the men who go to sea, but by the men who are on shore. It is not the man who is on what is termed a “happy ship “ and is satisfied with the conditions under which he is working, who willingly goes on strike. He has no voice in the matter. When a ship arrives in port, a representative of the union comes on board and tells him that there is a strike in progress. He must get out or face the consequences. In regard to the present trouble, we know that the stewards and seamen have no sympathy with the cooks. So exasperated are they at the continuous trouble that is brought about by a few individuals, that they are taking steps to protect their own interests. Provision is made in-this bill to protect members of organizations such as the Seamen’s Union. No one who is acquainted with the actions of the Seamen’s Union during recent years will deny that its members need some protection. Five or six years ago that union was one of the strongest financially in Australia; to-day, instead of having .£30,000 in the bank, it would experience difficulty in finding 30,000 pence. Because Messrs. Walsh and Johnson have had a squabble as to who should be the secretary or the president of the unions, its funds have been dissipated. The members of the union do not know where they stand. Senator Gardiner said that if legislation of this nature were proposed in connexion with friendly societies there would be an uproar throughout the country. I remind him that legislation to protect the accounts of friendly societies has been in operation for many years. That protection which is afforded to other sections of the community should be’ afforded to the trade unionists of this country. The laws of the States and the Commonwealth relating to limited liability companies give protection to their shareholders. It is the duty of the Government to protect every section of the community.
Prom the remarks of Senator Gardiner one would almost be led to believe that the attitude of the Nationalist party towards trade unions and arbitration was one of hostility ; yet that party has done more to make arbitration workable than any other party has done. During my eleven years as a member of the Senate many amendments have been brought forward by Nationalist governments to make the Arbitration Court more accessible. Some time ago Senator Barnes pointed out that a great deal of dissatisfaction existed- because of the congestion in the Arbitration Court, largely on account of the large number of plaints lodged by public servants. In consequence of those complaints the Government appointed a Public Service Arbitrator to deal with conditions in the Public Service. This relieved the congestion existing in the court, as a large number of the plaints were lodged by Commonwealth Public Servants. Moreover, the Government has appointed a number of additional judges in order to expedite the hearing of plaints. Now it proposes to go a step further. It purposes extending the facilities for settling disputes by conciliation. Senator Barnes will agree that Mr. Stewart, the Conciliation Commissioner, has done much to bring the parties to disputes together without recourse to law. Yet we hear from honorable senators opposite nothing but a tirade of abuse of the Government for daring to introduce this bill.
This measure is condemned because of the alleged severity of one penalty, Honorable senators would have us believe that the Government is desirous of getting back to the conditions which existed many years ago, whereas the bill has been introduced in an effort to bring about industrial peace. Unfortunately, there are persons in. the community who do not desire industrial peace. When the Prime Minister desired to arrange a conference to promote industrial peace, those persons who previously were loudest in their protestations in favour of industrial peace refused to attend it.
– Industrial peace is the last thing any of them desire.
– That is because they thrive on industrial turmoil. The great organization of which Senator Barnes is president, knowing that to be so, refuses to affiliate with the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, and with other industrial bodies. The Australian Workers Union, whose members may be found throughout Australia and whose assets are valued at many hundreds of thousands of pounds, prefers to play a lone hand and to have no association with Mr. “ Jock “ Garden.
Senator Gardiner referred to the penalties which the bill imposes on individuals who declare things and persons “black.” During recent years we have had many pitiable exhibitions of men who have been prevented from working by the action of their fellow unionists. During the recent railway strike and the South Johnstone disturbance in Queensland, we had the spectacle of one section of a union declaring “ black “ another section of the same union.
– Such actions do more to break down unionism than anything else can do.
– Actions of that nature will do more to harm genuine trade unionism than will any industrial legislation introduced by the present Government, which has always shown its willingness to assist the workers to gain their legitimate desires. Honorable senators opposite say that they believe in arbitration. But they cannot have both arbitration and the right to strike. When an industrial dispute was imminent in Queensland some time ago a ballot of members was taken to decide whether the union would abide by the award of the court in the event of it not giving them what they wanted. If the unions are to have the benefit of arbitration they must be prepared to accept the awards of the Arbitration Court. Unfortunately, certain sections of the community are in favour of arbitration only when it suits them. If an award of the court does not coincide with their desires, they claim the right to strike. The Nationalist party is prepared to make every effort to encourage conciliation and arbitration.
Honorable senators opposed to the bill would have us believe that every social and industrial reform has emanated from Labour governments, and that other governments have done their utmost to crush the workers and destroy trade unionism. At a recent by-election in Queensland the Labour candidates took up the same attitude. They claimed that the Labour party had been responsible for all the recent social reforms. They stated that Labour had given the people industrial arbitration, notwithstanding the fact that Labour did not come into power until 1915. Both the Wages Board Act of 1908 and the Industrial Peace Act of 1912 were introduced by Liberal Governments. They claimed, also, that Labour was responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Acts of 1905 and 1909, whereas those measures were passed by Liberal Governments, Labour not coming into power until many years afterwards. They claimed, further, that the Labour party had, by price fixing legislation, given the people protection from profiteering. Actually that legislation, the Control of Trades Act, was passed by the Liberal Government in 1914, and although a Labour Government was in power for some years afterwards, it did not put the act into operation. They further claimed credit for educational reforms, the passing of the Apprenticeship Act, the appointment of Workers’ Dwelling Boards, and many other useful legislative reforms, all of which were introduced before the Labour party was in power in Queensland.
I do not wish to dwell upon this matter further, except to say that the object of the bill is to give members of trade unions an .opportunity to control their own affairs. All who took part in the last election will recall the promise of the Government that, if returned, it would bring in a measure that would’ have « that effect. The bill now before the Senate is in fulfilment of that promise. Unfortunately for the members of the Opposition, this Government gives effect to its promises. I am satisfied that Senator Needham’s greatest regret is that the Ministry has introduced this amending legislation. For two years, as Leader of the Oppositionin this chamber, he has been endeavouring to work up some sort of a case against the Government in regard to election promises, and is unable to point to one undertaking that has not been honored.
– What about the Government’s promise to provide £20,000,000 for housing?
SenatorFOLL. - Apparently that is a matter that hurts. The Government has passed a housing bill.
– But where are the results of that legislation.
SenatorFOLL. - The act has just been proclaimed and I have no doubt that it will interest the honorable senator to know that throughout Australia people are making applications ‘ under that act for loans for the purpose of . building homes for themselves. The people who are taking advantage of this act have no hope of obtaining homes for themselves under existing State laws, and so they are turning to the Federal Government for this much needed assistance. The Government, as I have said, has carried out its promises. This is one reason why honorable senators opposite are so uncomfortable in view of the forthcoming election. They have my sympathy.
– We do not seek sympathy.
– I have a high personal regard for Senator. Hoare, and I am sorry that he is at present, in such an awkward position. During the whole debate honorable senators opposite have been setting up “ aunt sallies “ for the purpose of knocking them down again. Even the newest recruit to the ranks of the Opposition, a Labour senator who is not a member of the Labour party, indulged in this pleasant pastime, but not one sound argument has been advanced why the bill should not be carried.
I intend to support the measure because I am satisfied that it will make for the smooth running of our arbitration machinery and because I am a firm believer in the principle of conciliation and arbitration. Honorable senators opposite are opposing it because they have received their instructions from the outside junta. Although they know that it will do a great deal for the workers of Australia and benefit trade unionists from one end of the continent to the other, they dare not support it, because the whip hasbeen cracked and they must obey their instructions. For my part, I welcome it, because it will do much to uplift trade unionism and give trade unionists an opportunity to control the affairs of their organizations. I believe, also, that it will do away with much of the industrial turmoil that has been experienced in recent years, and make for peace in industry.
– There is really nothing for Senator Foll to get excited about. He has assured us that he believes that the bill will make for industrial peace. I have no doubt that he is sincere in his belief, and I will not quarrel with him on that account. We who are opposing it believe that it will have the opposite effect. Senator Foll made some reference to the “ aunt sallies,” which, he said, had been set up by honorable senators on this side in their criticism of the measure. He was discreetly silent about the “ aunt sallies “ and star turns put on by those who are supporting the bill. Senator Verran, for example, gave a picturesque address. He told us, among other things, that capitalism was here for our benefit. He was not always of that opinion. On one occasion, when he was a leader of trade unionism in South Australia, he is reported to have said in a speech delivered at Kadina -
He would live to see the day when the workers would wipe the sweat from their brows with the slack of their guts.
– I never said such a thing as that.
– The honorable senator said much more. He declared also at a Labour social at North Adelaide, at which I was present, that -
Capitalism was a sweating system. Every week many of the workers would, through the sweating system of capitalism, have to take up an extra hole in their belts.
If he was sincere then, is he sincere now ? I wish to be quite fair to Senator Verran, and I shall expect him to be absolutely fair to former colleagues of his who are still in the Labour movement. He says he was “kicked” out of the Labour party. I well remember attending a special conference in Adelaide, when Senator Verran was leader of the Labour party in South Australia. On that occasion the delegates were asked to sign a certain resolution. Those who refused to do so walked out of the room. Senator Verran was one of those who did so.
– I will tell the honorable senator what happened. A blank sheet of paper was placed before us, and we were asked to sign it.
– The honorable senator knows very well what that sheet of paper meant, and why other members of the Labour party remained in the room. Something of a similar nature happened in Melbourne when the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said at a meeting of the Labour party, “ Those who are with me, follow me,” and a number followed him out of the room. No one was kicked out of the party. They all went out.
But let me deal with the bill itself. It is said that to Greece we owe our art and culture, to the Jews our religion and moral code, and to Rome our system of jurisprudence. Out of that system of law and order our civilization has developed, but in the view of some people it has failed. Perhaps it may be said to have failed in cases where men able and willing to work are not allowed to do so. As a result of the present system unemployment has become world-wide, and there has been much crime, misery, destitution and despair. I agree that strikes and lockouts cause much unemployment and poverty; but while there has been much criticism of trade unionists for the part which they play in strikes, nothing has been said concerning the employers’ responsibility for lockouts. Two sections of the community are opposed to arbitration - the extremist employers and the extremist industrialists. Both are in the wrong, and both are a menace to human progress and society at large.
My earliest recollection of the arbitration system is in connexion with the appointment of conciliation boards in New Zealand. We who were identified with the Labour movement in Australia were then looking to
New Zealand for our inspiration, for we realized that conciliation boards there were doing much to improve the condition of the workers in that country. A little later the Labour movement in Australia gathered strength, and eventually it was instrumental in securing the passing of a law providing for our present arbitration system, which has always been part of the Labour party’s platform. Labour seized it with both hands. I agree that the arbitration system has not proved as successful as its advocates anticipated; but we cannot expect to secure perfection. I admit that we cannot have both arbitration and strikes. I am a believer in arbitration, and consider that the unions should obey the awards of the court, whether they are in favour of or against them. If they are not prepared to do that, they should be honest and say “ We do not believe in arbitration ;. we will get out and revert to the old method of settling of disptes by direct action.” In my opinion the marine cooks have been unwisely led, and what is more, that they were induced to begin a fight that thenleaders knew they had no hope of winning. Messrs. Tudehope and Johnson appear to have made up their minds to drag other unions into the upheaval whether they were in favour of or opposed to it. The question which is suggested to my mind is, whether those two men, and others who are equally extreme, wish to destroy unionism. If that is the case, who is paying the piper ? They are not taking this action without hope of reward. Prior to the last election the strike in the ranks of the British seamen was brought about by persons who were well paid for what they did. Where the money came from, one can only conjecture.
One of the proposed new sections to which labour is most strongly opposed is that which provides for the taking of secret ballots. The objection is, not to the secret ballot itself, but to the methods that are to be employed. It is a boast of the Labour party that the secrecy of the ballot is one of the greatest blessings that has ever been given to any people.
– But, it is necessary to have the right kind of mechanism.
– That is so. “We do not want the sort of mechanism that brought about the return to power of the honorable senator’s party at the last election. If Johnson and Walsh had each been paid £1,000,000, it would not have been a farthing too much for their political services to the Nationalist party. Three months previously the political pendulum was definitely swinging towards Labour, and its return to power looked to be a certainty. At the dinner which was tendered to Lord Forster, just before his departure from Australia, His Excellency referred to Mr. Charlton as the future Prime Minister of Australia. But Walsh and Johnson, by their actions, enabled the Nationalists to secure the victory.
The Government has not made plain the manner in which the provisions in regard to the secret ballot are to be put into operation. Sub-section 2 of the proposed new section 56f reads -
The secretary of the organization or branch may thereupon forward a statement in writing upon the matter to the registrar for submission to the judge dealing with the matter, and in particular, may state whether the organization or branch will itself take within any anil what period, a secret ballot upon the question, or will take any other action in relation thereto.
What is meant by the reference to a branch ? The majority of unions in Australia are federated; they have a federal executive, and each State constitutes a branch. If a dispute arose in a construction camp, and ten men demanded a ballot, would it be taken throughout the State or only among the mcn concerned in the dispute? It is my impression that it would have to be taken throughout the State. During its progress another small dispute might arise. It will thus be seen that any ten unscrupulous men will be able to demand a ballot repeatedly, and eventually cause the branch to become bankrupt. It is possible to find in every union ten members who arc unscrupulous enough to take any action. Two thousand years ago Judas betrayed his Master for 80 pieces of silver. And even the Labour movement to-day has in its ranks many a Judas who would he willing to sell it for 30 pieces of silver, or even less. In one portion of the bill the term “ bona-fide unionist “ is employed. Will the judge of the Arbitration Court have to satisfy himself that applicants for a secret ballot are in reality trade unionists?
– There may be in any union ten men who are not unionists at heart, but are entitled to call themselves unionists by virtue of the fact that they have paid their subscriptions. At the request of their masters they will apply themselves to the task of wrecking the organization.
Senator Pearce has said that trade union organizations are controlled by their secretaries and presidents. To a certain extent that is so. It is the fault of the rank and file, who do not attend meetings, and, therefore, have no right to complain if action is taken which docs not meet with their approval. I joined the Shearers Union in 1898, and have been a unionist ever since. I have never seen any pressure brought to bear upon members of a union in the conduct of a ballot. At one time I was the secretary of a branch at Port Adelaide,, which was not satisfied with the actions of the executive. I took a principal part in an agitation against it, and soon obtained a following. The union’s room was not large enough to hold those who attended a meeting which we called, and we engaged a special hall. We succeeded in turning out the old executive, as well as the secretary and president, and in having new officials appointed. That will prove to honorable senators the power of the rank and file.
– What was the executive doing?
– Endeavouring to act contrary to the policy of the Labour party. Their places were taken by Mr. Thomas Murphy, who, I think, became president of the Australian Workers’ Union and by a Mr. Dunstan, who is now in Queensland. I ask leave to continue my remarks at « later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of
Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill presented by Senator Sir George Pearce, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George
Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till to-morrow at 11 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 June 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280612_senate_10_119/>.