10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General yet able to give me a reply to my question of recent date, in regard to the profits of the Beam wireless service ?
– The information has not yet come to hand.
– Referring to the reply given . yesterday by the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, to my question in regard to the removal to the Civic Centre, Canberra, of the wooden buildings at present occupied by the Repatriation Department at Jolimont, to the effect that Sir John Butters had been consulted on the matter, will the Minister intimate to me the nature of the Chief Commissioner’s report in that connexion ?
– I will- endeavour to obtain a reply to the honorable senator’s question and, if possible, let him ‘have it at a later hour this day.
House Occupied by the Secretary ob the Federal Capital Commission - Employees’ Rentals.
– Reverting to the reply given to my question No. 3 on Notice Paper No. 142, by the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, in view of the fact that the secretary of the Federal Capital Commission is charged a rental of only £3 13s. per week for a house costing upwards of £4,203, will the Minister -
furnish the names of occupants of other official houses at Acton;
Is it not a fact that the extra living allowance in Canberra was taken into consideration in fixing the salary of the secretary? Is it not also a fact that the Public Service Board refused to grant the usual Canberra allowance to this officer, on the ground that the allowance had been taken into account in determining his rate of salary? If such be the case, what were the grounds, if any, for giving the officer preference in the matter of rentals, and can any and, if so, what steps be .taken to recover the amount due from him on the basis of his being a member of the Public Service-?
– I ask the honorable senator to put this question on the notice-paper, and I shall send him the information as soon as it is available.
Coastal Shipping See vice - Matt. Service.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs yet secured the information which I have requested, in regard to the negotiations that are proceeding respecting the Tasmanian coastal shipping service ?
– The information has not yet come to hand, but as soon as I receive it I shall forward it to the honorable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-. General yet in a position to advise me of the result of the negotiations which have been proceeding, with the object of improving the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland? If the negotiations are still proceeding, what stage have they reached, and when are they likely to be completed ?
– The negotiations are still proceeding, and it is impossible for me to say when they will be completed. As soon as finality has been reached I shall advise the honorable senator.
The following papers were presented : -
Northern Australia Act - Ordinances of 1928-
Central Australia - No. 19 -Food and Drugs.
North Australia - No. 21 - Food and Drugs.
Papua Act - Ordinance No. 5 of 1928 - Customs Tariff.
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, with a message intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendment.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . ..11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[11.18 a.m.]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill raises the clear-cut issue: Are we to have in Australia constitutional government and obedience to the law, or anarchy. Let us first of all, look at the facts that have led to its introduction. This Parliament has passed a law known as the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, providing for the settlement of industrial disputes, and under that act strikes are illegal. In the Arbitration Court, Judge Beeby heard a dispute between- the Waterside Workers Federation and the steamship owners of Australia, and gave an award. In some respects that award was more favorable to the waterside workers than that under which they were previously working. In certain other respects the workers regarded it as not being so favorable to them as the old one. Accordingly, the Waterside Workers Federation then met in conference and resolved to repudiate the award. On the other hand the steamship owners accepted it and were prepared to work under it. The Waterside Workers Federation has declared a strike against the award, and the Labour party in the Federal Parliament says to the Government “ You must not enforce it. “ The Government, however has proceeded to carry out the law, and has initiated a prosecution against the Waterside Workers Federation for participating in a strike, which is a punishable offence under the act I have named. The Labour party in the Federal Parliament also says to the Government “You ought to override the court and disregard the law which this Parliament has passed ; you ought to call a conference of the owners and the employees in respect of this award and this strike.” That, however, is not the duty of the Commonwealth Government. To think that it is, is to have an entirely erroneous impression of the position occupied by the executive of this country in respect to the law. The executive is sworn to carry out the law. It is for the Government to give effect to the law; it is for the court to interpret it. What would have happened if the position had been reversed? What would the Labour party have said if the steamship owners had defied the court and had repudiated the award, and the Government had announced that it would not institute proceedings against the owners, but would call a conference ?
What is the history of the transport industry of Australia since 1917 ? Let us take our minds back to the strike of 1917, which was the beginning of a series of industrial revolts in this particular industry. As a matter of fact, there has been more industrial trouble in this industry than in any other in Australia. The war was in progress in 1917, and Australian shipping was engaged in taking reinforcements and food and clothing to our men at the front. Hospital ships were also running between Europe and Australia bringing back to our shores soldiers who had been wounded and invalided home, and returning with necessaries for the hospitals and for the wounded overseas. Yet that was the time chosen for a strike in the shipping industry. Transports which were ready in our ports to carry badly-needed reinforcements and food and clothing to our soldiers at the front, and hospital ships that were needed to proceed to Europe and bring back our wounded countrymen, were held up. They were even refused permission to load the necessaries required by our hospitals and our wounded overseas. From that time on, as 1 say, there has been a series of industrial revolts in this industry - a series of mutinies and job control tactics. First, there was the British seamen’s strike, which paralysed our overseas trade, and was supported by the Labour party in Australia. At any rate, not one voice in the Labour party of Australia was raised in condemnation of it. Then followed the Australian seamen’s strike - something which was also against the law of this country. Yet not one voice was raised by the Labour party to condemn it. Then followed a long series of job-control tactics. Vessel after vessel was held up by firemen walking off at the last moment after their ships had been loaded. Cargoes of perishables were left to waste in the ships’ holds. Then came the cooks’ strike, also in defiance of the law of this country; and when on that occasion the Government proceeded to enforce the law, it met with opposition from the Labour party in the Federal Parliament. Not one of the spokesmen of the political Labour party condemned that illegal strike. Now we have the waterside workers’ strike, and still Labour is not raising its voice in favour of the act which it claims it was responsible for placing on the statute-book.
What are the facts of this particular strike? There has been issued in Australia a publication which urges that the time chosen for strikes of this nature should be when the greatest damage can be done. That is to say, this publica”tion advocates that strikes in the waterside industries should be brought about at a time when the primary products of Australia are ready for shipping overseas. This strike has occurred just when our wool and wheat are ready to be shipped overseas.
– What is the name of that publication?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It is the Pan-Pacific Monthly, the official organ of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which is affiliated with the PanPacific Secretariat at Shanghai. The result, of having this strike at this particular moment is- that the wool sales - a matter of vital importance to the financial well-being of Australia, one of those fundamental things upon which our financial security is based - have had to be postponed. Thousands of tons of maize and sugar lying in the northern ports of Queensland cannot be shipped; although the shipment of those commodities is essential for the well-being of the northern portion of Queensland. At Geraldton, in Western Australia, hundreds of tons of tomatoes awaiting shipment to the Melbourne market are held up. Probably by this time they are of no value whatsoever, and many settlers in the Geraldton district are thus deprived of their means of livelihood. Their year’s work has gone for nothing.
In yesterday’s Argus appears the following telegram from Hobart : -
Argus, 21st September, 1928.
As a result of the uncertainty of services to maintain a supply of manufactures to fill orders on the mainland Cadbury, Fry, and Pascall Limited intends to close its cocoa and confectionery factory at Claremont at the end of this week. Employees will not be reengaged until an adequate shipping service is restored. A statement issued by Mr. N. P. Booth, manager of the factory, says: - “We have no assurance in the case of several States when goods consigned there will reach their destinations. We have large consignments delayed in transit, and are congested with other shipments still in our warehouses at Claremont. In fairness to our employees we cannot expect them to be kept in a state of indefinite suspension of work in the event of their being able to find other employment. Hence our act in technically severing their connexion with us this week.”
I do not know how many persons are employed by this firm.
– Probably 500.
– Because of this strike thousands of men and women in all our capital cities will be thrown out of work, and unemployment will increase. But official labour raises no voice in protest against this breach of an arbitration award, and defiance of the laws of this country. The Waterside Workers Federation is either unwilling or unable to discipline its members. Yet when the Commonwealth Government comes forward with a proposal to permit the resumption of our shipping trade by enabling work to be performed under the law of the land by unionists and others who are willing to work, that proposal receives the bitter and strenuous opposition of those who profess to be in favour of arbitration. It is obvious that we cannot look to the unions to discipline their members, or to secure the due performance of awards. I have spoken of the record of the maritime unions since 1917: the continuance of lawlessness, and the constant interruption of trade, while no effort, apparently, was made by any of them to discipline their members, or to ensure that industry would be carried on. Are the Government and Parliament to sit with folded arms while these unions continue to flout the law?
It will be said by honorable members opposite, as it was suggested in another place, that the Government already has sufficient powers to do what is needed, if it will only exercise them. What powers does the Government possess? It has power to punish those who break the law when it can secure sufficient evidence on which to base a successful prosecution. That power has been, and is being exercised. Because of the interruption of the essential lighthouse service, and the hold-up of the ships which convey to the lighthouse keepers their food and other supplies, and thus enable the lights on our coast to be kept burning for the safety of shipping, certain men were prosecuted and fined. Then Johnson, the late secretary of the Seamen’s Union, was convicted, and is now under sentence, for a breach of the Crimes Act. Garden, again, was charged with intimidation and terrorization. This case is still proceeding. The Government has taken this action to enforce the law, but it is obvious that the mere prosecution of offenders is not sufficient. Something must be done to restore order, and to guarantee to those who will work the opportunity to do so. The strikers not only refuse to work themselves, but, by a policy of intimidation and terrorism, attempt to prevent from working those who are willing to obey the awards. This bill is an attempt by Parliament to bring about order on the waterfront, and to ensure that those who are willing to obey the law shall have an opportunity of doing so. It is an attempt also to prevent those who are not willing to obey the law, who will not allow peace to prevail, from coming back to their jobs when the trouble is over in readiness to take part, in the next trouble which occurs. The bill contains the provision that those who engage in the transport industry shall be registered and licensed, and those who are not so licensed will not be allowed to participate in the work.
This measure is not aimed at unionism. Unionists and non-unionists alike can register under the act, if they are willing to work, and to obey the laws of the country. The bill provides further that those who are willing to assist in carrying on the industries of the country shall, so far as the Government and Parliament can do so, be guaranteed continuity of employment. We shall not allow mon who have rendered good service in time of industrial trouble to be thrown aside by the employers as soon as peace has been patched up, as has happened too often in the past. It is intended that the last word in such matters shall not rest with the employers. The bill will be a protection both to the workers and to the community. Its objects are clear, and its administration will be directed by the Government with a sense of responsibility to the electors and to Parliament. But Ministers will not hesitate to use to the full every power it gives them to secure the carrying on of essential services for the community, to ensure the employment of those who are willing to work under the law, and the protection of law-abiding workers from victimization.
.- I have listened with very keen interest to the speech that has just been delivered by the Leader of the Senate in moving the second reading of the bill that is now before us. He gave a very concise and terse explanation of what the bill really meant, and said that it presented a clear-cut issue between law and order and anarchy. With the permission of the Senate I shall take up the gauntlet which he has thrown down. Let me remind the Leader of the Senate that it is not so very long ago that he himself, as the leader of a band of timber workers in Western Australia, defined law and order, and defied every dictum and command of the Arbitration Court of that State. He was then just ordinary Senator George Foster Pearce. He was not a member of this Government, which, he states, is out to secure a clear-cut issue between law and order and anarchy. No; he was then the trusted leader of the workers of Western Australia, who raised him from the humble position of a working man, and gave him his first chance in public life. He successfully defied the laws of his State, and the award of the Arbitration Court which decided against the timber workers, and was instrumental in removing the funds of the Timber Workers Union beyond the reach of the law, which maintained that those funds should not be used to help” the timber workers in their revolt against the award. Now this same gentleman tells us that this bill presents a clear-cut issue between law and order and anarchy.
– Did not the honorable senator himself advocate the breaking of the law in Sydney?
– I advocated nothing of the kind. I ask honorable senators to allow me to proceed with my speech, and to afford me the same hearing which this side gave to the Leader of the Senate when he was speaking. I shall make my speech in my own way, and shall not be ashamed of anything I say. I have been asked if I advocated a breach of the law. I did not. I stand here advocating what I have always advocated : Arbitration, and the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes. 1 shall go further, and say that I regret very much that the men engaged on the waterfront of Australia have not obeyed the orders of their conference, and of their executive officers, to resume work. The Leader of the Senate mentioned certain industrial disputes which have taken place since 1917. He referred to the seamen’s strike of 1925, and said that the voice of labour representatives was never raised in an endeavour to bring about peace. He seems to forget that a conference was called and assembled in Sydney for the purpose of trying to settle, not only the dispute with the Australian seamen but that with the British seamen as well. I do not think that he really forgets this, but he is not fair enough to give the accredited Labour leaders in the industrial and political arenas due credit for their efforts to settle disputes. The then leader of the Australian Parliamentary Labour party, Mr. Charlton, was all the time busily engaged in trying to bring about a settlement of that unfortunate industrial disturbance. The Leader of the Senate also referred to the recent cook’s strike. Again he refused to give credit to the leaders of political and industrial labour for their efforts to promote peace. Those efforts were eventually successful in bringing about a settlement, when the action of this Government might have resulted in an extension of the trouble.
Now I come to the measure itself, the provisions of which are contained almost entirely in one brief clause. I maintain that the bill has not been brought before Parliament with the intention of settling the present industrial trouble. It has been introduced with the intention of aggravating that trouble, in the hope that the industrial conflict may continue, and that the minds of the jury which is to give its verdict on the 17th November may be so inflamed that the misdeeds of the Government will be forgotten.
The Leader of the Senate stated a few moments ago that the Labour leaders inside and outside Parliament were silent on this matter. Let me remind him that genuine efforts have been and are still being made by the industrial and political leaders of Labour to restore industrial peace. At the result of the efforts of the Leader of the Parlia mentary Labour party, Mr. Scullin, and of the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hogan, a conference of representatives of the waterside workers assembled a few days ago and decided by resolution to instruct the men to return to work. Those efforts are being continued at the present moment, and none regrets more than the members of that conference and the Labour representatives in this House that the instruction of the conference was not obeyed. In the midst of these negotiations the Government introduces this provocative measure, which is handicapping the leaders of Labour in their attempts to bring about a resumption of work.
The threats made by this Government prior to the introduction of the bill, and the summonses issued under the Crimes Act, have not in any way helped to bring about peace on the waterfront. The conference to which I have referred was representative of all branches of the Waterside Workers Federation throughout Australia. Yet no sooner had it issued instructions that Mr. Justice Beeby’s award was to be observed than men, who had done everything possible to see that the law was obeyed, were brought before the court. Is that the way to cause peace in industry? The minds of the men were inflamed, and consideration must be given to the element of human nature in matters of this kind. If Ministers were placed in the positions occupied by the waterside workers, they would look at the matter from an angle very different from that from which they now view it. While I recognize that the law has been broken, the bill is not likely to bring about a settlement. It will encourage the ship-owners to obtain free labour to handle their cargoes. The Leader of the Senate asks what Labour would say if the ship-owners had broken the law and the Government had not taken action to prosecute them. I, in my turn, ask him what did the Government do when food was rotting on the northwest coast of Tasmania and the shipowners refused to provide the necessary vessels for its shipment? Did the Prime Minister prosecute the shipowners? No; and that trouble was not due to the men on the waterfront.
The bill gives unlimited power to the Governor-General, which means, in other words, the government of the day, to make regulations. He may make regulations that will have the force of law notwithstanding any other act on the statute-book. It will enable the Government, in the name of the GovernorGeneral, to make regulations to abrogate any act of the Commonwealth Parliament.Within a few days from now this Parliament will be dissolved, and Australia will have no national legislative until after the coming election. The country will be in the hands of a dictatorship controlled by the present Ministry. This authority will be able to do exactly as it likes; there will be no parliament to review its actions. The granting of such power is contrary to constitutional practice. The bill empowers the Governor-General to make regulations to engage and dismiss transport workers, and all those to be employed as such must be licensed. Those who have no licence will be prevented from obtaining work. What would happen if a shipping company agreed to have a conference with the men, and arranged for a resumption of work under the conditions determined upon by the court? Those ship-owners would be unable to work their vessels unless they had a licence from the Government. In other words, unless they did everything that the Governor-General ordered they would be unable to engage workmen. The representative in Australia of His Gracious Majesty the King is to be given a power that will make him a super-organizer of the employers of labour.
The Leader of the Government declared that the measure was not aimed at tradeunionism; but I contend that it is a deliberate and preconceived attempt to smash . organized labour. In most of our legislation there is a section stipulating that regulations made under it must not be inconsistent with the spirit of the act. In this bill there is no such limitation; absolute power is given to the Government, irrespective of any act on the statutebook. Thus, the Government is to receive a blank cheque. This means legislation by the Governor-General instead of legislation by Parliament. It amounts to the declaration of martial law so far as the workers of this country are concerned. A letter was sent from the secretary of the ship-owners’ organization to the conference of the Waterside Workers Federation, quoting a portion of Mr. Justice Beeby’s award, and it helps to prove at least that the men attending that conference acted within the law and within the scope of the award. The letter said -
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of 10th September, for which I thank you. In reply I am directed to inform you that I am instructed to draw your attention to clause 21 of the award.
This clause states -
This award shall not abrogate the right of the federation or any of its branches to arrive at agreements with the employees for any port or ports concerning any matters included in the award or any other matters relating to the loading and discharge of ships. Any agreement so arrived at may, on the application of any of the parties thereto, be embodied in this award.
Thus it will be seen that clause 21 authorized the holding of a conference between the parties concerning matters contained in the award. The action of the federation in asking for a conference between the ship-owners and the waterside workers was in strict conformity with the terms of that award. The Leader of the Senate also told us that the bill was being introduced to enable the Government to enforce law and order. If this Government, instead of becoming a partisan to the dispute and throwing its weight behind the ship-owners, had acted in concert with the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Scullin) and the Premier ofVictoria (Mr. Hogan) a conference would have been held to consider the questions at issue.
SenatorFoll. - This Government is not throwing its weight behind the shipowners. It stands for law and order.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Order! I call upon Senator Foll to obey the Chair. I have twice ruled that Senator Needham must be heard in silence. If Senator Foll offends again I shall be obliged to take other action to have the authority of the Chair upheld by the Senate.
– There is every probability that if a conference had been held work would have been resumed at all ports.
The right honorable the Leader of the Senate also referred to certain action that had been taken by the Government under the Crimes Act. I remind the Senate that in the Crimes Act, in the Peace Officers Act and in the amended Arbitration Act, the Government has all the power necessary to deal with industrial disputes. In addition, there is the common law, and the States themselves have adequate legislation to deal with any situation that may arise. There is no necessity for the introduction of this bill, which will make it possible for the Government to declare industrial martial law.
At the 1925 elections, the Government asked for, and claimed to have received a mandate from the people to deal with industrial disturbances. Ministers promised that, if returned to power, they would do all that was necessary to ensure industrial peace. The fact that there are only six members of the Opposition in this chamber out of a membership of 36, and 23 out of 75 in another place, suggests that the mandate asked for was given. But what has happened since the elections? The Crimes Act has been passed, also the amended Arbitration Act and the Peace Officers Act. And still the Government has failed to preserve peace in industry. The Government is looking not for peace, but for a political advertisement. Provocative and tyrannous legislation will not bring about peace in industry. Refusal on the part of men to work is not a crime, though it may be an offence against the law of the land. If it is, the existing laws are sufficiently comprehensive to enable the Government to deal with men who break the law. Refusal to work should not be regarded as a criminal offence. Men are offering at many ports under the Beeby award. At other ports they object to the provision for two pick-ups instead of one, which has been the practice for several . years at a number of ports. In these times, when all vessels are in wireless communication with the principal ports, owners can tell to an hour when a ship will arrive, so there should be no occasion for men to be kept waiting about all day to secure employment. Surely the waterside workers should reap some benefit from the advancement in the science of wireless. They should not now be compelled to wait about on the wharfs for hours for work. If they are informed at the first pick-up that they will not be called that day, they will be free to search for casual employment for the remainder of the day, and in this way may earn a little money.
There should be more of the spirit of conciliation in the relations between employers and employees. The title of the conciliation and arbitration act itself suggests that conciliatory methods should first be employed when any dispute arises. Why did not the ship-owners accept the invitation to meet the men and discuss the matters at issue? The leaders in the Labour movement have, on innumerable occasions when Australia has been threatened with serious industrial disputes, endeavoured to bring about a peaceful settlement of the trouble. This Government does not believe in that method. By its action in introducing this bill, it has aggravated the present dispute. In the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday’s date there appeared the following report concerning this crisis on the waterfront: -
Members of the Waterside Workers Federation are now working under the terms of the new award at the following ports: -
Cairns, Townsville, Port Alma, Sydney, Port Kembla, Tasmanian ports, Port Pirie, Port Lincoln, Port Augusta, Bunbury, and Albany.
The leading ports where the men refuse to work under the award are: -
Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle.
The statement with regard to Melbourne is not altogether correct, because ships are being worked at that port under the old award. This shows that work is proceeding in all but four of the principal parts, so the Government was not justified in bringing forward this provocative legislation. It will not help to bring about industrial peace. Let me quote briefly from a recent speech of the Prime Minister. His remarks have a particular application to the present industrial crisis. The right honorable gentleman when speaking at a dinner given by the Victorian Employers Federation, said -
There is only one way in which these problems can be dealt with, and that is by resorting to a spirit of conciliation and good will. That must fill the gap which political action is unable to bridge.
His action in introducing this bill is in marked contrast with those sentiments. I can only come to the conclusion that this Government does not desire industrial peace. On another occasion, when addressing a number of business men in Melbourne he is reported as saying -
Many Empire problems had been solved by understanding and mutual sympathy. Surely in their own small sphere Australians could bring about a similar spirit. Were they getting it? Was there riot a tendency towards antagonism in every direction?
This spirit of antagonism was harmful to Australia and the future prosperity of its people. He viewed with the greatest misgivings such a spirit being engendered.
Speaking at York, in Western Australia, he said -
I trust that better counsels will prevail in. industry, that the two sides will come together and thresh out the problems and try .to create a better understanding, so that there will be more co-operation……. and at the same time ensure peace in industry.
But at the very hour when the two parties were coming together, when the executive officers of the Waterside Workers Federation had instructed their members to resume work, and when the industrial and political leaders of the Labour movement were straining every effort to end the dispute, the Prime Minister, who preached the doctrine of conciliation and co-operation in York two months ago, drove this wedge of martial law between them in order to drive them further apart. Instead of helping the Premier of Victoria to heal the breach he is deliberately widening it. I contrast the sentiments he expressed at York with this coercive legislation, this endeavour to terrorize the workers by substituting force for reason. The right honorable gentleman said at Glenalvie, in Victoria -
Whatever they might hear, he asked them not to believe that the great mass of Australian workmen were permeated with the communistic, bolshevik spirit of the few wild men and extremists who had managed to secure some power. That was only a temporary phase.
These men have been too successful in the past. Through them the fair name of Australia has been defamed throughout the world. It is for me to see that the activities of these few men are definitely stopped.
What has he done to stop the activities pf these few communists ? Can the Leader of the Senate point to any action of the Government, legislative or administrative, to control the few wild men to whom the Prime Minister referred? Nothing has been done to stamp out unlawful associations; Walsh and Johnson are still abroad^ To-day the Government throws the blame, not on a few wild men and extremists, but on the whole Labour movement, and, because a small number of men refuse to obey the order of their executive to resume work, the Government has resorted to what is practically a declaration of martial law. Addressing the Women’s National League in Melbourne, the Prime Minister said -
It was recognized that Australians were a first-class people …. They had to help in the solution of the Empire problems, and the only way to do it was to follow the spirit of the Imperial Conference, the spirit of mutual understanding and sympathy and the spirit of co-operation and unity.
I contrast those words with his actions to-day. And in support of my opposition to this measure, I place in the witness box the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham). About twelve months ago, when introducing the amending Arbitration Bill, he declared that Australia was freer of industrial disputes than any other civilized country. He has not since denied that statement; rather did he reaffirm it in the course of the debate on this bill in another place. Despite that declaration, he and his leader are cosponsors for this legislation.
This Parliament is hurrying to its close, and I do not wish to delay it. I have made my protest against this illadvised proposal. I have told the Senate that I stand for arbitration as I have done throughout my life, not only in this, my adopted land, but in the land of my nativity where from fourteen years of age onwards, I took a humble part in trade union activities. Throughout my life I have set my face strongly against the use of the strike weapon, but at times one must make allowance for human passions; and when the political and industrial leaders of the Labour party are still endeavouring to bring the waterside workers to a realization of their folly it is wrong to enact legislation of this character.
The bill will receive the imprimatur of this Parliament because the Government parties are in the majority. The voices of honorable members on this side of the chamber are like that of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. But we take comfort in the knowledge that there is a higher tribunal, before which all parties will shortly have to appear. I leave this matter to the final arbitrament of the people, but, with an intimate knowledge of the industrial movement I tell the Leader of the Senate, what he must know of his own knowledge, that this is not the way to bring about industrial peace. We of the Labour party are prepared at all times to help not only to re-establish industrial peace, but to prevent industrial* war. I hope that even at the eleventh hour the Government will realize the mistake it is making and withdraw the bill, and that the Prime Minister will summon the representatives of both parties to conference so that this trouble may be settled without resort to the mailed fist.
– We must not lose sight of the fact that this measure has been introduced to maintain law and order at a critical time when, according to the admissions of honorable gentlemen opposite, a huge industrial upheaval may occur. This trouble is not merely a dispute between two parties, who might be left to fight out- their differences as they think fit; the community is a third party to the dispute. Listening to the honorable gentleman, one might be led to believe that the employers were responsible for the present situation. This Parliament has made certain laws for the settlement of industrial disputes, first by methods of conciliation, and, those failing, by the processes of the Arbitration Court. The rules and procedure of the court provide for each party getting a full hearing before an award is made. Do the members of the Labour party believe in the maintenance of law and order, and in obedience to the acts of this Parliament, or do they think that the laws of the land shall be set aside, so that a small body of communists may be able to hold up all the industries of Australia and practically take the bread from the mouths of hundreds of thousands of people? The Leader of the Opposition would have us believe that a large number of men are adversely affected by the award of the court. But the waterside workers are very few in comparison with the many thousands of people who will be directly or indirectly affected by their action. Yet they have the audacity to hold a pistol at the heads of the community. In effect, they say: “It is true that you have laws and awards. You 6,000,000 people may think that you should be considered, but we, the waterside workers, say ‘ To Halifax with your laws and Arbitration Court and awards. We insist on getting what we want in spite of the judgment of any tribunal ‘.” If all sections of the community were allowed to take the bit in their teeth in that way, law and order, and justice according to law, would cease to be. Our parliamentary and judicial institutions have evolved slowly through the centuries; Magna Charta, the Petition of Rights, and the Reform Bill in the House of Commons are epochal events in the Briton’s struggle for political and social freedom, and the equality of all men before the law. This Parliament is a board of directors, representing the 6,000,000 shareholders in Australia, and we should fail in our duty, if we did not make our laws effective.
Listening to the Leader of the Opposition one might think that the ship-owners have done some monstrous and audacious thing which had caused the present intolerable state of affairs. After the award of Judge Beeby had been made, the members of the Waterside Workers Federation approached the court for a variation of that award. The men said that they were not prepared to continue to work under the old conditions. The Arbitration Court promised to deal with their case only on the condition that the waterside workers gave an undertaking to abide by any award that the court might make. That undertaking was given by the Waterside Workers Federation in the following terms: -
That the committee of management of the Waterside Workers Federation hereby undertakes to advise its members to carry nut the existing awards and agreements covering the work of our members. It also undertakes to exercise all the powers conferred upon it, the federal council of the union to enforce strict compliance on the part of members with any future award made by the court and/or any agreements arrived at from time to time.
That was a definite undertaking by the Waterside Workers Federation that if the court would hear and deal with its plaint its members would observe any award the court might make. Upon that undertaking being given the court agreed to hear the case. The judge published his award, but did not bring it into operation immediately. He afforded both sides an opportunity to express any objections they might have to it. Both parties took advantage of that opportunity, the Waterside Workers Federation raising a number of objections, including that of the two pick-ups. Having heard those objections the court made an award which was to come into force on the 10th September last. In spite of the undertaking given by the federation to abide by future awards, the following resolution, which it is reported was agreed to unanimously, was carried by the federation
That the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia repudiates entirely the pernicious and vicious Beeby award of 1028.
In face of that repudiation will honorable senators say that the Waterside Workers Federation is entitled to further consideration? The federation has not openly instructed its men not to work, because it knows that to do so would render it liable to heavy penalties. But the fact remains that although that resolution was passed, individual members of the federation along the greater portion of the coastal frontier of Australia refused to work. It may be said that there is no stoppage of work in New South Wales, that the waterside workers there are prepared to work. That may be so ; but it is useless for ships to be loaded in one State if when they get to another State the waterside workers there will refuse to handle their cargo. A stoppage of work in two-thirds of the ports is tantamount to a hold-up throughout Australia. The position which confronts us is that men who obtained an award of the court on the understanding that they would carry it out now snap their fingers, and say that, because the award does not suit them, the primary products of the country can rot on the wharfs.
Australia’s prosperity depends on our primary products - chiefly wool, wheat and butter. It is significant that this trouble has occurred at a time when our staple products are ready for export. The wool sales have had to be postponed, with the result that wool worth millions of pounds is in jeopardy. Our export trade in butter and wheat is also at a standstill because of the action of these recalcitrants whom Senator Needham referred to as “ a few communists. “ To a primary-producing country like Australia any hold-up of the export of its staple products is indeed serious. During 1925-26 Australia exported goods to the value of £145,000,000 or £24 15s. per head of the population. Of that total, pastoral products, chiefly wool, represented £81,000,000 ; agricultural products, mainly wheat, £34,000,000, and dairying products, principally butter, £9,000,000. Of the total value of our primary and secondary products exported that year only £4,000,000 represented manufactured goods. Is it right that the labours of our primary producers for twelve months should be in vain because a few irresponsibles refuse to allow the ships to be loaded ? If Australia is -prepared, to submit to her primary products remaining on the wharfs because the waterside workers choose to disregard the awards of the court many persons now engaged in primary production will have to seek other avenues of employment.
This bill means that men who are prepared to work in terms of the award of the court will be permitted to do so, and that in their work they will be protected by the Government against victimization and terrorism. Is it wrong for the Government to guarantee protection to those who carry on the business of the country? Why should it not license men as transport workers in the same way that it licenses men to do other work in the community? Honorable senators opposite are not prepared to advocate that our produce should not be exported, or that the laws for the preservation of law and order should not be obeyed. But they avoid the main issue, and repeat the cry that the Government is adopting coercive measures. Any man who is -prepared to work in terms of the court’s award will be able to obtain a licence. The Leader of the Opposition said that the trouble was caused by a few communists. Is he prepared to let a few communists prevent the members of the Waterside
Workers Federation from doing their work and thus to hold up the trade of Australia? To say that a national parliament has no right to pass legislation of this nature is an acknowledgment of impotence which I am not prepared to make. What kind of men are the rank and file of the Waterside Workers Federation if they are prepared to allow themselves to be dominated by a few communists? The happenings on the waterfront show how the communists are seeking to control the wheels of industry and to terrorize law-abiding citizens. A few days ago, when a number of waterside workers signed on at the first call they were jeered at. Eventually they decided not to accept employment. They had not the pluck to do an honest day’s work to earn sufficient to buy bread for their wives and families. In the face of such incidents how can any one say that the Government is adopting coercive measures? The laws of the land and the awards of the court exist for the benefit of the workers as well as of the other sections of the community. The present situation on the waterfront is a challenge to this National Parliament. Shall we give way to a few irresponsibles in our midst, or shall we insist on the laws of the country being obeyed? Instead of opposing the passage of legislation of this nature honorable senators opposite would do better if they made it clear that they intend to uphold law and order. A definite stand by them to uphold the law’ would result in greater obedience to the awards of the court than has been the case in the past.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– In conclusion I point out that the strike is not against the terms dictated by employers, but against the decision of a legal tribunal which has impartially considered the claims of both sides. Judge Beeby saw that the waterside workers were attempting, by various forms of direct action, to secure the control of waterside operations throughout the Commonwealth and he warned them accordingly that that policy could not be tolerated by the Arbitration Court. The court’s investigations showed that there was n noticeable reduction in the amount of work in the overseas section of trade in
Melbourne, notwithstanding the liberal payment to men for a fair output. These are the words of Judge Beeby: -
In the interstate trade the trend has been downward. The unions have fomented unrest for other and improper purposes, lt has indulged in pin-pricks by sectional strikes and the holding up of individual ships. It has made demands for illegal restrictive conditions, for excessive rates, for special work, for arbitrary increases of the number of nien fairly employed on jobs, the destruction of the mobility of waterside labour, the substitution of drastic local rules and regulations for the award, and it lias incited to slackness and inefficiency.
The Arbitration Court exists to ensure industrial peace on the basis of industrial justice. That was the object of the Beeby award. It is the law and a strike against it is illegal. Men who refuse to work under the award have no right, legally or morally, to prevent others who are willing to do so from accepting employment in accordance with its terms.
Compulsory arbitration is a dismal failure. If the Arbitration Act is to operate only when employees get what they demand, and they are to be free to strike in order to compel negotiations with them whenever they are displeased with an award, there can no longer be the smallest doubt as to the utter breakdown of the system. There is no reasonableness in claiming the benefit of arbitration to the extent of having it enforced on employers if the award suits the employees, the latter reserving the right to strike if they are dissatisfied. Labour leaders appear to be concerned only about the political aspect of the trouble, and while conscious of the difficulties of their own position cannot spare a thought for the disaster that the turbulent and uncontrollable extremists of their party are inflicting upon Australia.
This bill at least will do one thing that has never been done before. It will give protection in future to the loyal workmen who come to the assistance of Australia in her hour of need, men who loyally support her and her people and endeavour to carry out the laws of the land. Those workers are now to be given a measure of protection against intimidation and interference, a protection which they have not had before.
– 1 liken the position of to-day to that of 1925 when this Government faced the electors with the cry that the extremists were holding up the transport of this country and were a menace to the community. The Nationalist Government at that time got away with that stunt. It was successful in sweeping the electors off their feet by a cry, that as I shall show presently, was all moonshine. It went to the country asking for a mandate to deal with a menace to Australia - the red element consisting, according to the Government, of two gentlemen. It won the election, and the electors gave >t the mandate that it sought to deal with those persons so that peace might be established in industry. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate what improvement has there been in the industrial position since that mandate was given to the Government?
With others on this side of the chamber, I stand for arbitration and conciliation. If any section of industrialists is not prepared to accept an award that has been given by the Arbitration Court I deplore the fact. But the position to-day is that half of the unionists who are affected by Judge Beeby’s award are at work. The others refuse to accept the dictation of the Arbitration Court. This skeleton bill has now been introduced to deal with persons who are said to b<2 holding up the trade and commerce of this country, by virtue of refusing to accept the Arbitration Court award and going on strike. During the last three years nothing has been done in the way of prosecuting the friends of honorable senators behind the Government for holding up trade and commerce. The Government dare not do anything to them. Even when this law is passed, the Government will not be game enough to put it into operation. lt will be held in abeyance until after the election. This is purely an election stunt, and I warn honorable senators opposite that the public of Australia will not be gulled twice by the plausible tale that the Government requires a mandate to enable it to maintain law and order. This is a coercion measure, designed to coerce the workers. No penal ties are stated, but they will be fixed by the Executive by regulation. The workers will be penalized, not only those who refuse to work, but also those who are prepared to work under the award. I am surprised that the Government is stooping to such methods to win an election. In 1925, Johnson and Walsh were, according to the Government, to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
– Is not Johnson now “ doing time V
– What happened to Walsh? Nothing. He was invited quite recently by the Nationalists to deliver an address before the Constitutional Club. The Government is now prepared to take Walsh to its bosom, but previously it tried to put him in gaol. What a wonderful achievement it was for this great Nationalist Government to stand or fall on the issue of the deportation of these two men. A few years ago Walsh, it was said by the Government, held up the trade and commerce of this country. He was to be dealt with, gaoled, fined, and deported. To-day he is friend of the Government.
– There shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine righteous persons which need no repentance.
– Evidently, the honorable senator has not forgotten the lessons that he learnt at Sunday school, but I am not now dealing with the question of repentance. I am showing that the Government is prepared to bend the knee, to stoop, to lick the feet of a man who, in 1925, it was prepared to prosecute, and declared to be a menace to the community. Is there any honour at all amongst the members of the Government?
I am reminded of what happened in 1892, when industrial trouble took place at Broken Hill. At that time it was impossible for the employers to subdue the miners, although the mine-owners had funds amounting to £7,000,000. Broken Hill was at that time the hub of trade unionism. The mines were opened in July of that year, and the owners invited free labour to work on the mines under the protection of mounted constabulary and the infantry of New South Wales, each unit being armed with rifle, ball cartridge and bayonet. I remember seeing these men with drawn swords riding four abreast up and down Argent-street. Their object was not to quell any trouble, but to force the people to take some retaliatory action so that weapons could be used against them.
– That was not so.
– Yes. Under an act that was passed during the reign of George III., a man who died and rotted over a hundred years ago, the miners of Broken Hill were forced to obey the dictation of their employers and to return to work at less than a living wage. Senator Abbott has said that the employers do not wish in any way to inflict hardships upon the workers, and that they are always prepared to accept the Arbitration Court award. Were the employers at Broken Hill prepared to accept an award? No; they were not. They kept the mines closed for at least seven months, despite the fact that peak prices were . ruling for metals. Were those employers working in sympathy with the men? No; the employers’ object was to crush unionism, and on that occasion their efforts were successful. The Government to-day, under this bill, is aiming a blow at unionism. I stand for arbitration and conciliation for the settlement of industrial disputes. If this Government were imbued with a true spirit of Nationalism, it would get together the parties concerned with a view to bringing about an amicable settlement of disputes without resorting to mean, despicable, and dirty tactics such as it has resorted to to-day by introducing a bill to coerce the workers, no matter whether the principle be right or wrong.
I deplore the holding up of our transport, which is inimical to the best interests of Australia, for not only will the shipping magnate suffer, but thousands of people who have not refused to abide by the law will be thrown out of employment and penalized. How gratifying it must be to belong to a Government which is prepared to thrust a dagger into the backs of the people who are the very foundation of the country - the workers ! Capital is not worth a snap of the finger unless it has labour which it can employ. In this instance, the shipping companies are as culpable as the wharf labourers, because they are extremely anxious to tie up their ships.
– Because they are obsessed with a desire to assist the capitalistic section of the community to break the back of unionism. That is the real purpose of this bill. We are asked to hand to the Government an unlimited power which will enable unscrupulous individuals to introduce drastic regulations to persecute the waterside workers. I really do not think that the Government has belly enough to take such extreme measures. I have no wish to be vulgar, but I repeat that favourite saying of Senator Verran and apply it to the Government. We have been overwhelmed by the supplications of supporters of the Government to observe law and order. A similar plea was broadcast in 1892, when martial law was proclaimed, and any two or three men who gathered together in the street and engaged in conversation were deemed to be conspiring against the law. Thousands of people were fined 5s. each for practically doing nothing more than blowing their noses. This measure is merely a repetition of that introduced by the Eight Honorable W. M. Hughes, when as a result of the “Warwick egg incident,” he inaugurated the Commonwealth PoliceForce. I know that the Government, by bribing the unscrupulous and callous, will gather together special policemen and men of the air force, who would be prepared to drop bombs, even on their own fathers and mothers if necessary, to comply with the behests of those who pay them. There are some who declare that this bill will cause a revolution in Australia, but I am confident that we shall never have a revolution here, because the Government will never be able to goad the people sufficiently far to achieve its purpose. Honorable senators will recollect the Victorian Police Force strike when, after making requests for three years for better conditions, the men in that force took the extreme step of going on strike. I deplore the use of such a barbarous weapon, but it was the only one left to those men.
– Does the honorable senator think that its use was justified?
– That question is answered by the results obtained. Volunteer constables, both mounted and foot, were brought in from the country districts of Victoria, and the new force was granted conditions far better than those applied for by the original members of the force; so that it is apparent some good is achieved by the sacrifice of a few. This bill is neither more nor less than a party political move to destroy the solidarity of the labour movement. Honorable senators know well that at the last general election Tom Walsh and Jacob Johnson were linked up by the Nationalists with the Labour party - to which they never belonged - and that that was the greatest asset of the Nationalist party at the election. This time there is no Tom Walsh, and Johnson appears to be in gaol, so that the Government is forced to fall back on a substitute.
– I do not think that Johnson is in gaol, because only yesterday he pushed Walsh down a set of steps.
– The occasion is so serious, that the levity of the honorable senator is ill chosen. Tremendous hardship will result from the operation of this bill, and many innocent people will suffer. I ask even Senator Herbert Hays, who so frequently seeks to have repealed the coastal sections of the Navigation Act in order that black labour may be employed on the vessels which ply between the mainland and Tasmania, to join me in a christian endeavour to cause this Government to stay its hand. There is nothing on the horizon to warrant the people of Australia believing the alarmist statements of honorable senators opposite, who claim that the sinister forces of bolshevism are undermining the stability of this country. The Government would have the- people believe that a satanic influence, spon-‘ sored by Russia, awaits a favorable moment to plunge the dagger of discord into the national heart of Australia. No one knows better than honorable senators opposite the source of the literature dealing with the Russian bolshevist movement, which inundated Australia.
That propaganda was disseminated in the hope that Australians would believe that malcontents, by the use of Russian gold, and through the instrumentality of our industrial movement, were seeking to bring about chaos in this Commonwealth. A similar happening took place during the war, when the insidious statement was circulated that the Labour party was influenced by German gold, and was prepared to go the whole hog, in association with Germany, to overthrow the capitalistic system of Australia. I never saw any of that gold, and I should like to know if honorable senators opposite did.
This bill has been so mildly supported by the followers of the Government that I am satisfied that the Prime Minister and his lieutenant, the Attorney-General, have bitten off, on this occasion, something that they will have difficulty in making the electors swallow on the 17th November next. I protest against the introduction of this iniquitous and despicable measure, which is merely skeleton legislation to be filled in as desired by the Government. If that is the way the country is to be governed, I ask that God may save us from our friends opposite. I hope that ‘the Government will look before it leaps, and that, instead of brewing trouble, and inflicting untold hardships upon innocent people, it will allow itself to be influenced by a christian spirit and endeavour to bring about a settlement of the waterside dispute without resorting to the repugnant methods of militarism.
.- I have listened with a great deal of attention to the Leader of the Opposition, to Senator Graham, and also to a number of Labour members of another place. Practically every one of them has declared that he believes in ,,arbitration. One would imagine that such a principle was the very foundation of all their beliefs. But I ask honorable senators opposite and their colleagues what sort of arbitration do they believe in? The majority of the people of Australia believe in arbitration. It is merely a small minority that is endeavouring to bring the system into disrepute. It must be acknowledged that at least nine-tenths of the advantages ‘enjoyed by the wage-earners of Australia have been attained through the Arbitration Court. It is quite unnecessary to rake up the dead past by quoting ancient history. I shall deal with the present. The prevailing trouble could be easily settledwithout Government intervention, Labour or otherwise, if the union leaders would but do their duty. Senator Needham urged that we should realize the frailties of human nature and be lenient and long suffering when dealing with an emergency such as this. The honorable senator would have us spoon feed a certain section of the community, no matter what tactics it employes to attain its objective. I believe that any one who appeals to the law should accept its decisions. I fail to see why the unionists of Australia do not abide by the awards of the Arbitration Court, and why they should be granted the privilege of alternative action. They applied to that court for an award which, after evidence was heard, was formulated only to be promptly defied by the waterside workers. Yet not one honorable senator opposite has had the courage to denounce them for defying the law.
– Has the honorable senator denounced the other side?
– Yes, frequently, and I shall do it again when necessary. I am impartial in this matter; I have no prejudice against either side. I am a strong believer in upholding the laws of the country. “We live under a democratic constitution which gives every person a voice in the framing of our laws, and they should be obeyed. I do not blame the average worker so much as the industrial organizer and the Labour parliamentarian. They are the people who are destroying the tranquillity of Australia, merely because they have not the courage to insist that their followers shall be law abiding. In this instance, as soon as the Government intimated that it would have to resort to the application of the Crimes Act, the Labour leaders called upon the men to return to work, but they found that they had started a fire which they could not extinguish. To-day trade is paralyzed in every Queensland port with the exception of Cairns. Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle are in a similar position. If honorable senators opposite wish to keep unsullied the credit of unionism all they have to do is to tell these men that if they do not return to work they will be turned out of the union. The executive of the union has not the courage to compel the men to obey the law. The court is not prejudiced either way, but if anything it has been very lenient to the wage-earners. I do not know of one award that has been made against the workers. The present campaign director of the Australian Labour party at one time occupied, the position of Premier of Queensland. During his progress to wealth in that State, he bought a sugar farm in the Tully district. Under the award of the Cane Prices Board the cane cutters are obliged to sign a contract to obey certain orders in the cutting of the cane. They did not carry out the agreement they had made with Mr. Theodore. What did he do? He issued a summons against them for failure to carry out the agreement.
– Did he not hold a conference with them ?
– He may have held a conference with them; but the point I wished to stress is that he haled them before a court and obtained a decision against them.
– Does the honorable senator approve of that action?
– I do. When a man enters into an agreement he should carry it out. In view of the attitude which he then adopted, Mr. Theodore should now be prepared to stand behind this Government and every one else who wishes to see the law observed. In that case he was protecting merely his own interests. In this case he can help to protect the interests of thousands upon whom misery is being inflicted. Senator MacDonald is acquainted with the personnel of the Board of Trade in Queensland. It comprises two trade unionists, with a solicitor as chairman. Its attitude generally, and the decisions it has given, have inclined towards labour.
– It has not been on the side of labour.
– It has, in nine cases out of ten.
– What about the basic wage decision? The honorable senator knows very little about the matter.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Order! The honorable senator will have an opportunity later to reply to Senator Reid. I ask him, therefore, to allow the honorable senator to make his speech without interruption.
– The wharf labourers all along the coast, as far north as Cairns, have acted in defiance of the Board of Trade, because of their objection to the rotary system. Last year there was an outbreak of lawlessness at South Johnstone. Mr. Dunstan, a member of the Board of Trade and a former general secretary of the Australian “Workers Union, visited that centre on four or five occasions to try to effect a settlement; but the men would not listen to him. Today the Queensland Government is standing behind the wharf labourers, a-nd sacrificing the interests of the Burdekin cane-growers. The Commissioner of Railways says that he will not supply trucks for the carriage of cane until the wharf labourers at Bowen have returned to work. How can men be expected to abide by awards when neither Labour Governments nor union leaders will denounce them for defying the law? Some communists from Mourilyan Harbour obtained control on the wharf in Cairns, and their rate of loading was 12 tons an hour, compared with 37 tons by the local wharf labourers. How can an industry carry on in such circumstances? In Newcastle the day before yesterday free labourers loaded wool into the ship at the rate of 150 bales an hour. When trade unionists, did the work the rate was only 70 bales an hour.
– Such an incident supplies a reason for the high cost of living.
– There is no doubt about that. The leaders of the unions are always wanting conferences. Even if the ship-owners agreed to a conference in this case, and the trouble was patched up, would there he lasting peace? Not at all. Within a month there would be a further outbreak. This bill has been rendered necessary by the action of the unionists themselves. There is no taint of martial law about it. If any unionist cares to register himself and work under the award of the court, he will not be interfered with.
– What action did the honorable senator take in the 1891 strike ?
– The Government proposes to do only what the leaders of the union have refused to do; that is, to discipline the men.
– Did the honorable senator in 1891 believe in leg-ironing the men?
– My attitude in 1891 has nothing whatever to do with this case. I know more about trade unionism than Senator MacDonald is ever likely to know.
– What about the movements with which the honorable senator is associated with at the present time?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Order! Senator MacDonald is not in order in trying to carry on a discussion across the floor of the chamber. He must obey the Standing Orders of the Senate just as other honorable senators have to do. If he offends again, I shall ask the Senate to take action against him. He will have an opportunity at a later stage to reply to Senator Reid. In the meantime, he must allow that honorable senator to proceed with his speech without interruption.
– The question at issue is a very simple one. There is nothing for which I need apologize, and nothing for me to retract. I am not in the least afraid to face the people of Queensland. I stand for obedience to the laws that have been made by this Parliament. Those who are prepared to observe the law, as laid down by the Arbitration Court, will benefit from this legislation. It will not interfere with the liberty of trade unionists who believe in law and order; but, on the contrary, will protect those who wish to observe the awards of the court. That is the exposition of it which I shall give wherever I go. Honorable senators opposite have not the courage to denounce men who flout the Arbitration Court. They are more cowardly than the men themselves. I have no time for leaders who will not discipline their followers. The Government has been forced into taking this action, to protect those who wish to observe the awards of the court. I shall support it wherever I speak, because my long experience of industrial matters teaches me that it is acting wisely and judiciously. This is the simplest and easiest way out of the trouble. The industries of Australia have been paralysed because of a dispute over the question of two pick-ups. There is nothing else at stake. Wages have been increased, and in many respects the conditions of the workers have been made easier. It has been customary to have two pick-ups in some of the States. Judge Beeby, in his wisdom, has said that two pick-ups are necessary. Therefore, why should not that system be given a trial ? The men ought long ago to have been instructed along these lines, and those who refused to observe the award should have been dismissed from the union. If that had been done, there would have been no necessity for the Government to introduce this bill. If the men will only accept the advice of their leaders there will be no occasion for the Government to intervene.
Senator MacDONALD (Queensland) [3.1 J. - Although the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat addressed his remarks to me instead of to the Chair, I do not intend at the moment to deal with the points he raised. Despite the honorable senator’s harangue I say at once that I believe in arbitration, not because I think that it is better than any other system and that we must adhere to it in every particular; but because so far as I can see it is the best system to ensure industrial peace. There is no system in the world that has not some defects, and arbitration has so many that the British workers have refused to have anything to do with it. If Senator Reid will take the trouble to study Sydney Webb’s Industrial, Democracy - perhaps the finest work on industrialism that has ever been written - he will find some very strong reasons why the British workers have refused to accept arbitration although in Australia we have adopted it. There are many more millions of workers in Great Britain than there are in Australia, but they do not believe in arbitration. Mr. Webb clearly sets out that the British worker is against arbitration 1 cause he realizes that he cannot expect to receive much consideration when his case is determined by a biased judge receiving perhaps £3,000 or £4,000 a year- £60 to £80 a week - who inquires into the struggles and ambitions of the poor unfortunate toiler receiving perhaps only £4 or £5 a week. The British worker knows that a judge who receives £4,000 a year must be the agent of the forces arrayed against him in his struggle against starvation. The British workers have said that a system based on such unsound foundations will not have their support. Hence we in Australia have to look upon arbitration with a certain amount of distrust. The British worker is independent and like some honorable members in this chamber takes a great pride in the stock from which he has descended. Despite the fact that the arbitration system has been in operation in Australia for 30 years, the British worker refuses to have anything to do with it.
I have not heard one reference during the debate to the real cause of the present industrial trouble on the waterfront. It has been occasioned by Judge Beeby providing in his award that there shall be two pick-ups instead of one as has been the case in most of the States. There are thousands of honest working men who say they cannot work under this award which provides for two pick-ups in the one day. In order to illustrate the way in which this portion of the award affects the men I shall refer briefly to my own experiences. I believe there arc some honorable senators opposite who like myself have had some experience in the printing industry. As a young man I was engaged in the mechanical section of that industry in which the hours were definitely fixed at 56 a week until as a result of militant unionism they were reduced to 48. The system in that industry is better than that operating on the wharfs to-day. When I entered the higher calling of journalism in a country newspaper office, 27 years ago, I was supposed to work from eight in the morning till eleven o’clock at night. Of course I was not on duty all the time, but 1 had to be at call. Like the poor unfortunate waterside worker I had at times to lounge about the streets or hotels, and was unable to take full advantage of the benefit of home life. I objected to the system ; but as there were only three journalists employed in the office we could not alter the system, although I would have liked to form a union to improve the conditions under which we were working. I might have taken part in a’ strike, :is there was no other means of rectifying a wrong. Later when I went to Melbourne and worked on the Argus and the Age I found that instead of having to wait about the office or spend my time in hotels until I was marked for an engagement, I could get away after completing the number of engagements for which I was marked. There was no occasion to wait about for hours such as the poor unfortunate waterside workers are expected to do. Some of those same big city newspapers are to-day opposing the waterside workers, because they are asking for the very system that is followed in their own offices.
Whatever may be said regarding this industrial fight we have to admit that a large number of workers are dissatisfied. We all know there have been occasions when the representatives of the two great political parties have told the workers to do certain things which they thought wrong, and after long arguments and bitter fights these two great parties have found that the workers were right, lt may he in this case that the men are right and that the two great political parties are wrong, because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) in another place showed us the political attitude of our side in this case. I agree with him that the Labour party does not want this fight. We should be cutting our own throats if we did anything to encourage an industrial upheaval, and I am sure my colleagues do not want a strike. We may be wrong, but it appears that big men commanding millions of capital have paid agents at work endeavouring to cause an industrial upheaval at this particular time.
– The honorable gentleman does not believe that.
– That has been said by others and there is some evidence of it. I have made a close study of politics since 1907 and I have seen a remarkable change during the last twelve years. We need only refer to the Commonwealth Hand-Book to show that a great change has come over the Commonwealth since 1914. That publication since the war exalts only the military achievements of federal members and forgets that great things have been done by civilians. It ignores the achievements of peace. There are times perhaps when war is necessary, but the victories of peace are as great as the victories of war. A study of the politics of this country shows that certain military strategists are operating in our midst. I suppose we should not. complain about that as “ all is fair in love and war,” and I suppose it is in politics. We object however, to being maligned and misrepresented as we have been by the last speaker for whatever we do. A strike at this time is against our interests. It seems that the people have been so deluded and fooled by military strategists that I cannot -expect a political victory. I have nothing to lose. I can speak the honest truth as I see it. We are so far behind in Queensland that it does not seem likely that we can win; but I shall always stand four-square to my political beliefs. I shall speak frankly and freely as I have always done and I hope I shall be able to continue to do so.
I repeat that the system of two pickups is unnecessarily harsh. I give credit to two great Australian newspapers for installing and adopting a humane system long before the coming of the journalists union. The difference between a journalist’s assignment and a waterside workers pick-up is only a matter of language. Some object to the workers having a union, but the barristers’ union is one of the strongest in the world. The members of the legal fraternity fix their own fees and conditions of work. No one has power to prevent them from getting what they ask. They get as much as they can- By passing this bill we shall be giving the Government a blank sheet, with power to fill it in as they please. It has been inferred that it applies only to waterside workers ; but I point out that the principal clause reads : -
– By sea.
– In my opinion the bill includes within its ambit not only the waterside workers, but the seamen and also the carters and drivers and other transport workers engaged in carting produce to the sea coast. In Queensland we have a body known as the Inland Transport Union which carts produce to the railways for transhipment to the sea board. The members of it would, in my opinion, come within the provisions of the bill. Some time ago the Queensland Railways Union unsuccessfully endeavoured to bring about an amalgamation of the Seamen’s Union, the Carters and Drivers’ Union, and its own organizations so that all the transport workers of the State would be in one union. If the scheme had been carried into effect, the union would have had a membership of 20,000 which would be a large body of workers for a numerically small State like Queensland. The Carters and Drivers’ Union, however, has recently made provision to include motor lorry drivers in its membership, and is now called the Transport Workers Union. It realized that with the passing of horse-drawn vehicles it had to do something to maintain its strength. I submit that workers employed from 600 to 700 miles from the sea-board may be brought within the provisions of the bill. Certainly the measure will not be limited in its application to those who lump cargo on the’ wharfs. It would even include tally clerks who are members of the Waterside Workers’ Union.
I wonder whether the Government realizes that if the bill is agreed to it may have ultimately to issue hundreds of thousands, if not a million, licences. This is no small matter, although actually it seems nothing but an electioneering stunt. For my own part, if I should by any mischance fail to secure re-election on the 17th November, I shall be able to return to my former calling, and I hope always to be able to state my views frankly.
There appears to be an unfortunate inclination on the part of honorable senators opposite to libel the Australian workers. We are told from time to time that they are a crowd of rowdies, that they are a pack of lazy bones, and that they have never done anything for the welfare of the country. Some honorable senators would also have us believe that Australia is the only place that has serious industrial upheavals. But when I was in London in 1911, I found that the National Union of British Railway Men, which had a membership of about 1,000,000, was engaged in a strike of wide ramifications. Previously, I had the idea that Great Britain was a model of industrial stability and sweet reasonableness. I had the same idea of Europe in general. But my experience while I was abroad gave me quite a new understanding of the situation. During that strike, I saw 40,000 professional soldiers camped in Hyde Park, Battersea Park and other similar open spaces, in order to be on hand to crush the workers if they did anything objectionable to the Government of the time.
Although I have never been actually connected with a strike, I have been victimized because of them, and because of my connexion with unionism. When I was a lad in the nineties, I was camped with my father on a billabong in New South Wales. My father, after eleven months of unemployment, obtained work in a shearing shed. A strike occurred two weeks later, and he in common with the rest of the men ceased work, and properly so. That was my first experience of a strike. But I have had a good deal to do with industrial struggles since. It would be a very sad day for the workers of Australia if they should lose the power to strike to improve their conditions when they believed that that was the only method available to them which promised success.
– Does the honorable senator favour strikes?
– I think they are necessary at times, though I do not suggest that this one is necessary. Quite frankly, I say that, in my opinion, the waterside workers would have been well advised to accept the award, and seek to establish the principle of the one pickup by more peaceful means. That also is the opinion of the Labour party, and the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation. We have endeavoured to settle this strike, but have not been successful. We might have had more success if the
Government had assisted us, but it seems determined to do everything it can to foment trouble. There are times when men who feel that they are suffering from serious grievances will not listen to the advice of persons not directly associated with them. In those circumstances it might appear to some people that the only thing to do is to use the dum-dum, as the British military forces did with the Dervishes in the Sudan, and the only way that the British authorities could deal with them effectively was to blow them sky high. There are times when that may be the only way to meet the situation, if we are to adopt the attitude of some members opposite.
A good deal has been said about the failure of the waterside workers to stand by their undertaking to observe the award of the court; but it often happens that other bodies of men and women refuse to abide by their solemn pledges. We are making great advances in other walks of life, and we should be able to advance our industrial standards. For instance, just think for a moment of what we can do to-day with the radio. I have spoken over the air from Brisbane across the Tasman Sea, and my parents were able recently to hear my voice for the first time in sixteen years. I sent them a cablegram in the morning, and they listened in at night. Last night I telephoned to Melbourne and Brisbane and had to wait only about ten minutes to get through. Our advancement should not be limited merely to the’ conveniences of life, but could easily be extended to relieving waterside workers from having to tramp two or four hours in search of a job.
It is possible to handle men effectively without causing any industrial upheaval. I have had from 60 to 100 men under mo, and have not found any great difficulty in discussing and settling satisfactorily such grievances as they brought under my notice from time to time. I may have debated the matter very warmly with them; but that did not prevent us from ultimately reaching an amicable -settlement. I may have had the power to be an autocrat for a month or two or year or two; but it was not worth using it. In ten years I have had to dismiss only one man in conse- quence of an industrial disagreement, and I dismissed him because he cast aspersions upon my personal courage. Many of the great captains of industry in Australia are able to settle their industrial trouble without recourse to a strike or lockout. Senator Reid said that the award to which the waterside workers had objected is really “ beautifully simple.” lie also insinuated that the workers were the only class in the community which disobeyed the awards of the court.
– What I said was that all persons who disobeyed awards, irrespective of whether they were employers or employees, should be called upon to pay the penalty.
– The honorable senator made the broader statement in the first instance, and it was only when I took him up on it that he qualified it in any way. As a matter of fact, men may break awards in many ways. They may do it by a direct honest strike, as the waterside workers have done; they may do it by reducing their output; or they may do it by the more violent means of sabotage.
– The Government is throwing grit into the machine by introducing this bill.
– There is no doubt at all about that. Graham, in his history of the Industrial Workers of the World movement in America tells us that no matter how strenuous or bitter was the fight that the members of the Industrial Workers of the World put up - and many of them were extremists, almost revolutionists, who talked of everything short of murder so far as their bosses were concerned - in the end they always had to get to a round-table conference with their employers, and admit that capital and labour had a lot in common, and that the interests of both dovetailed. I have mentioned” the ways in which awards of the Arbitration Court can be broken by the workers without resorting to strikes. Do I need to mention how they can be broken by the employers?
– Yes, we know nothing about those things.
– Some people can dissimulate so well that others believe they are speaking the truth, but so far as the honorable senator’s remark is concerned, my reply is a non credo. The employer has ample opportunity to get away from an award. For instance, he can pass on the added cost by increasing the price of his products, and thus in spirit at any rate, if not in actual fact, he breaks the award. Employers can break awards by sacking men wholesale, by retrenching their employees, on the score of reducing costs. The only time the average employer is found to be maintaining an award is when it does not hurt him; but when it hurts him he can find a thousand ways of breaking it. He can close his place of business or his factory. That has been done, and will still be done.
I have been amused at certain references to the law. The law is a great thing, and, if we all respected it, would continue to be a great thing, but my brief experience in this chamber six years ago rested on the very insecure foundation of a majority of two votes in the Queensland legislature. I honorably accepted the law of the land. I thought that it was fair that I should be chosen as senator under the provisions of the Constitution. I was not aware that, at the time, there were Tory forces in Queensland quite capable of attempting to buy out the whole Queensland legislature, so determined were they to show their respect for the law of the land. I could go further and refer to a very painful incident well known to every honorable senator.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I ask the honorable senator not to deal with that matter.
– I do not intend to do so, but when we roast the poor humble waterside worker, or for that matter any worker who is dependent for his livelihood on the sale of his labour, and expect him to obey the law of the land, we have to recall that not only in America, but also in Australia, there have been several incidents of the worst kind of law breaking, which were not associated with the workers. We ought to ask ourselves, if each and all of us have set as good an example to the waterside workers as we ought to have done.
– The honorable senator seems to have a guilty conscience.
– I have not, but I recollect a happening in this chamber twelve years ago, where an endeavour was made to get something by certain means which were beyond the law. It is fair to bring it under notice because ofits political nature, but I have no desire to go into the matter. When we hear talk about the need for the waterside workers to respect the law of the land and recall these incidents, it seems to me that the less we talk here of respecting the law of the land the better it will be for all of us. That seems to have been the point made by Senator Reid. His creed is to obey the law.
– Yes, both sides must obey the law.
– Then I ask the honorable senator to fight tooth and nail to see that the employer is kept up to the mark, for it will not be done by this bill. Armed force will be found necessary to keep the employer up to the mark; nothing short of the use of the military forces.
Senatorcox. - The honorable senator would do away with the military forces.
– I do not want to be credited with that lack of intelligence. Military forces are necessary in Australia to-day. They were necessary in the times of Cromwell, the French Revolution, and the American War of Independence. I am not the democrat who would have peace at all costs. I should not have been here if I had been too peaceful.
If we are all concerned in the prosperity of Australia we should try to end the present trouble on the waterfront ; we should use our endeavours to bring about some understanding between the two sides to the dispute. Although most awards of the Arbitration Court have been accepted by both sides, there is often dissatisfaction on one side or the other. It is quite evident to me from the stand the waterside workers are taking that they are firmly convinced that they are losers by the award, or there is some deeper significance in their action than appears on the surface. I have no desire to put myself on a different plane from that of any other man who sells his labour. Just as I would not rush hurriedly into a strike and cut off my means of revenue, so I believe the average worker is anxious to continue in his work, particularly if he is paying off a home, as I am doing. I am sure that the waterside workers are not anxious to have a serious interruption of employment. If they feel that they have been sufficiently injured to cause them to lose their employment, it must be because they have suffered serious injury. My experience as a journalist in the days before we had arbitration tribunals has made me a believer in the present arbitration system. Nevertheless, I know that it does not give entire satisfaction. The British worker and, I suppose, also the British employer regard the Australian arbitration method as useless. I remember writing an article on it for a British publication, but the proprietors were not interested in arbitration, having already formed their own conclusions about it. We are well aware that there are direct action ists on both sides. They are to be found among the employers. Many large employers of labour who have given a close study to the question are against arbitration. But the vast majority of the people of Australia, being democratic and anxious to meet one another, and having thrown off the European tendency to fight one another on all occasions, are anxious to adhere to our present system. For myself, I should like to adhere to it so long as it can be used to secure for labour a fair share of the product of industry. My desire is to have not so much direct action or arbitration as co-operation, and mutual understanding between employer and employee, because it is on those lines I think Australia will advance to the greater Commonwealth we hope it will be. The worker is entitled to a larger share of the product of his labour and will not be satisfied until he gets it. But he cannot get it under our present industrial system.
Honorable senators of the Labour party do not want this strike. Personally I do not want it, although, in view of the results of the Senate voting of three years ago and the big handicap I am already facing, it is really quite amusing to think that it could be a matter of great concern to me. But having had a fair amount of experience in industrial matters, I am considerably disturbed about this present trouble and the suffering and hardships that will follow. Honorable senators on the other side declare that the leaders of the waterside workers should have stopped the strike. I ask how they could possibly have done so.
– By dismissing the culprits from the union.
– If they did that there would soon be no union left. What happened to some of the honorable senator’s friends when they tried to exclude the Labour party from the labour unions? What happened to Billy Hughes ?
– I ask the honorable senator to devote his time to the bill.
– There is practically only one clause in the bill.
– The honorable senator has taken a long time to explain it.
– Other honorable senators have taken a long time to explain it because it has far-reaching possibilities. It may bring in other unions beside the Waterside Workers Federation. As a matter of fact it is the usual political stunt which the ministerial party rigs up every three years. The newspapers will not tell the people this. I intend to tell my constituents, during the coming election campaign, that this action on the part of the Government is merely a political stunt. The parties should be brought together, so that they might discuss the matter with a view to arriving at a settlement.
SenatorFoll. - I wish the honorable senator would induce the parties to do that.
– If I had as much authority as the Government I should do so. This whole business is merely an electioneering dodge; and is part of the process of militarizing Australian politics. I wish it to be understood that I have the greatest respect for those who risked their lives during the war for Australia, but it must be remembered that -
Peacehath her victories, and
No less renowned than war. and that after the election this whole business will probably be dropped ; it will have served its purpose. It is certainly suspicious that there should be turmoil on the waterfront on the eve of every Federal election. There are in Queensland men whom we call “ Bellyachers “, who are prepared to sell their services to the other side, and devote their time to stirring up industrial trouble. If we had a secret service of our own we might be able to pillory these persons, but, as it is, they go their way, always with plenty of money, and taking things very easily. Any attempt to put this measure into operation will cause a terrible industrial disturbance, and that, if it happens, will certainly not be of benefit to Australia.
.- While listening to the speech of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, I wondered what the Senate was really supposed to be discussing. At the outset he said that there was nothing in the bill. Evidently he must have creative powers, because he has been able to speak on nearly every subject under the sun while allegedly dealing with a bill which, according to him, contains nothing at all. I was very much struck by one remark he made at the conclusion of his speech, when he stated that he intended to regard this matter merely as an electioneering stunt. Is this industrial turmoil, with its consequent distress and suffering to the people of Australia, to be regarded by Senator MacDonald, who is shortly to seek the suffrages of the people of Queensland, merely as an electioneering stunt? There are thousands of primary producers in Queensland on the verge of starvation because of this trouble. Yet Senator MacDonald regards this as an electioneering dodge. He referred to the advantages of one pick-up as against two pick-ups. The question of one or two, or any number of pick-ups, has nothing whatever to do with the matter we are now considering. The question really is whether we are to have arbitration and direct action at the same time. The privileges and benefits of arbitration have been accepted by organized labour, and we have to consider whether, having accepted those benefits, organized labour shall be re quired to obey the awards of the Arbitration Court. Senator MacDonald delved into ancient history during the course of his argument, and referred to the time when workers had to toil for 50, 60, and 70 hours a week. He spoke of the struggle for liberty in Britain and Europe, but he did not mention that those countries had not the expensive arbitration system which we have here. This waterside workers’ dispute is not a question of better conditions, more money, or shorter hours. There is work waiting for the men to do at award rates, and they have refused it. By their action they have thrown hundreds of thousands of others out of employment just as we are approaching the Christmas season. Not only do the men refuse to do the work themselves, but they will not allow others to work. The Government is adopting the right attitude when it says to these people : “You have got the protection of the court, the 44-hour week, and the basic wage. If you will not work, and carry on the industries of the country, we intend to ask somebody else to do it, and we shall see that they are properly protected. “ Senator MacDonald said that the party which he represents is in a minority of 48,000. He professes to be a democrat, and to believe in the principles of democracy, yet he confesses that he represents a minority of 48,000. If that is so, he should not be here at all because democracy means majority rule.
The situation in North Queensland at the present time, is very grave, and nothing that the Government could do to relieve it would be too drastic for me, I am prepared to support the Government right up to the hilt. On the Atherton Tablelands, as Senator MacDonald very well knows, the maize crop is now ready for shipment to southern States. There are several hundreds of returned soldiers there who have been battling against bad crops and low prices for years. Now, when for the first time they have a prospect of a successful season, the whole of their crop has been hung up at Cairns. The sugar industry has also suffered very seriously as a result of these repeated interruptions to shipping. The ordinary cane grower in Queensland is a small farmer, but he employs a considerable amount of labour. Until the sugar refineries receive the sugar from the mills, no money goes to the mills. Until the mills get the sugar-cane from the farmers, the farmers receive no money, and until the farmers receive their money the storekeepers and the cane-cutters have to go without theirs. As a result of this trouble, therefore, the whole of the Queensland sugar industry is in a state of stagnation, and will continue in that state until the transport services are restored. The Leader of the Senate pointed out the position of the tomato growers at Geraldton, and the tomato growers at Bowen are in a similar plight. These men work hard throughout the year preparing their crops, in the expectation of selling on southern markets at this time when prices are high; but owing to this hold-up they cannot get their crop to the market. As Senator Reid has remarked, the Commissioner for Railways in Queensland has refused to accept orders for trucks required for the transport of the sugar crop. Wool to the value of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 is waiting to be shipped overseas. Is all this trade to be held up because a few individuals in the wharflumpers union take exception to a particular section of an award of the Arbitration Court? Senator Needham observed that the leaders of organized Labour had done everything possible to see that the award was obeyed, and were still taking action to that end. I have not heard public utterances from them to that effect. Why does not Senator Needham state plainly from his place in this chamber that the wharf lumpers should go back to work and accept the two pick-ups?
– The honorable senator must have turned a deaf ear to me when I was speaking.
– I heard a half-hearted justification of the strike, but no wholesale condemnation by. the representatives of organized Labour of the attitude adopted by the unionists. The true opinion of organized Labour on this matter may be gauged from the following paragraph that was published in the Melbourne Argus yesterday : -
Ti e emergency committee of the Australian Council of Trade Unions met in the morning, and a long deliberation arose on the best methods to be adopted. It was originally proposed to convene a conference of represen tatives of all maritime unions involved in the trouble, but before taking this step, it was decided to obtain the views of the federal management committee of the Waterside Workers Federation, which has been in session in Melbourne since the interstate conference. As the result of this consultation, it wag agreed that the whole of the resources of the unions should be thrown behind the waterside workers in the fight with the ship-owners, on the ground that the waterside workers were justified in resisting the new award on the two “ pick-ups “ question.
While these men say they are in favour of arbitration, they propose to use the whole of the resources of organized Labour to assist the wharf labourers in disobeying an award.
– Was that decision arrived at after the introduction of this bill or before it?
– Before the bill was brought down. This conference was held on Thursday last.
– Notice of intention to introduce the bill in another place was given the previous day.
– I stand corrected in that respect, but the introduction of any bill in another place would not justify a body of individuals in disobeying the law of the land. Not very long ago, when an upheaval by the transport group was threatened, the Leader of the Labour party in the Senate was reported in the press to have said that if a certain law were carried into effect he would have no hesitation in assisting to upset it.
– Mr. President, the honorable senator has accused me of having said that I would endeavour to upset one of the laws of this country. I want him either to produce proof of that statement or to withdraw the accusation. It is a most serious charge.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - The Leader. of the Opposition asks for either proof or withdrawal of the statement.
– The honorable senator has been challenged with having made the statement, and he has never denied it. A body known as the Council of Action of the Labour Federation met in Sydney two or three years ago. Senator Needham remarked on that occasion that if the Deportation Bill became law he would do his utmost to see that it was not obeyed. Simply because I may not be able at the moment to produce specific proof that the statement was made, I should not be called upon to withdraw it. I read the statement in the press, and the honorable senator was challenged with having made it.
– By whom?
– By the Leader of the Senate. The honorable senator has a short memory. If he assures me now that he did not make such a- statement, I shall accept his word.
– I want the honorable senator to prove that I made it.
– The honorable senator does not deny that he made the statement that I attributed to him.
The primary producers should be permitted to obtain their just reward for the work that they have done during the last twelve months, and should not be threatened with another industrial upheaval on the waterfront. The Government will have my fullest support in passing this measure.
– I listened with interest to the speech of Senator MacDonald, and noticed the number of times he repeated the same statement in a different way. By some means, he worked into the discussion of the bill a description of his early career, when he was working for a newspaper in a country town. He described how he used to sit in hotel bars waiting for some one to turn up, either to “shout” or provide him with news, and honorable senators all felt like sobbing. Then, Mr. President, you directed him to confine his remarks to the bill. The measure affords sufficient scope to enable any honorable senator to speak on it at least for the time allowed by the Standing Orders.
It is designed to meet special circumstances, and for that reason it is limited in its application. Senator MacDonald declines to admit this limitation, and has read into the measure many things that are not found in it. He said that the words, “ by sea or with other countries, or among the States,” imply that all men engaged in the bringing of goods to the sea are included within the scope of the bill. He would probably include the men handling the cargo carried by the Murray “ whalers “ and the Darling “ dreadnoughts.” In my opinion, it applies only to the handling of goods when they are actually on the seaboard. I do not think it involves even the trolley drivers and railway men who bring the goods to the wharfs.
I do not imagine for a moment that this measure will become a permanent part of the legislation of this country; at least, I hope not, because like most emergency legislation, it is somewhat extreme in its application.
– Do not apologize for it.
– I am not doing so. The Minister need not become annoyed. I was under the impression that the Government considered it a special measure to meet special circumstances. If I am assured that that is not its purpose, I shall have to re-consider my attitude. I realize the necessity to take some action to meet the circumstances now presented to us. We are faced with an impossible situation.
Senator Needham has addressed himself to a variety of aspects of the case, but has not faced the main facts. He does not admit that the situation is as serious as the Government and the party behind it believes it to be. Unless something is done to put an end to the present trouble, it may extend and dislocate industry throughout the Commonwealth. This is not the time to talk about a settlement by negotiation. The trouble is there, and it can only be met by legislation calculated to put an end to it by providing that those who contravene the law shall be punished. This measure will provide the machinery for the punishment of persons for certain offences. I hope that all those who are working on the waterfront will realize the real purpose of the bill. Thousands of men who have been employed on the wharfs for very many years must clearly understand that unless they register for employment and abide by the provisions of this new law, they will be denied employment in their occupations for ra term of years. This to them will be a serious matter.
Honorable senators opposite argue that it is not a fair thing to say to men that unless they do so and so, they shall not have an opportunity to obtain employment in- their particular industry. le not trade unionism doing this every day, not only in respect of work on the waterfront, but also in other occupations? It declares that men have the right to employment not as men, but as trade unionists. In other words, these organizations elevate unionism above manhood. This is something which neither this nor any Parliament in Australia will tolerate. The party behind this Government declares that the interests of the men and women of Australia are infinitely more important than the interests of trade unionism.
– The honorable senator’s party has elevated the interests of arbitration above the interests of humanity.
– Arbitration is only a means to an end. To strike as these men on the waterfront are striking, is an attempt to force the will of a minority on a majority. Will the honorable senator deny that the waterside workers are a minority? And will he advocate that the will of the minority in the Waterside Workers Federation must be imposed on the people of Australia?
– Only a small section of the waterside workers is causing all this trouble.
– Are we to permit the minority to do these things? We should be recreant to our trust as representatives of the people, as a Parliament and a party, if we acquiesced in the demands of the waterside workers. Senator Needham has told us that he is an advocate of arbitration. All that I can say on that point is that the friends of arbitration may well wish to be saved from such advocates. The honorable senator and those associated with him, may- be regarded as being in the double-headed penny class of arbitration - as the “ Heads I win, tails you lose “ arbitrationists. When arbitration awards suit them the system is all right; but when it does not, they are prepared to take other action.
It is Significant that all legislation brought down by this Government is bitterly opposed by honorable gentlemen opposite. They are not willing to join with the Government and its supporters in legislating in the interests of the people. Senator Needham waxed indignant this afternoon, when the right honorable the
Leader of the Senate charged Labour with being silent in regard to the present industrial dispute. The Leader of the Opposition and Senator MacDonald are the only two representatives of Labour in the chamber at the moment. Neither of those honorable gentlemen directed his remarks to the bill itself, nor did either advance any reason why it should not be enacted. Labour is silent on this issue, because it dare not be otherwise. Our honorable friends opposite know that the men who are in control of the Waterside Workers Federation to-day are the same men, not perhaps the same individually, but certainly the same in sentiment, as those who are in control of many other trade union organizations throughout Australia. Only one industrial organization, the Australian Workers Union, can truthfully be said to be standing solidly by the principle of arbitration. Has the Australian Workers Union anything to fear from this bill? Not one thing. It is not directed against the Australian Workers Union or any other trade union organization whose members observe the awards of the court. This Government has at all times endeavoured to ensure the observance of these awards. Employers who have evaded them have been punished repeatedly. In many instances they have been fined heavily, and we have never heard one word of protest from honorable senators opposite. The position is entirely different when action is taken against trade unions for disobeying awards of the court. We are then told that it is unreasonable to ask men to observe awards which, in their view, are not quite fair and just to them; and that it is unreasonable to inflict punishment upon them. We all have objections to certain phases of the law, but, nevertheless, we observe it.
– We object very often to income taxation.
– That is so; but if we object we do so in a constitutional manner. Similarly members of the Waterside Workers Federation, if they do not agree with the award of the court, if they think that they are not getting a fair deal, should work under it until they can again approach the court to secure a modification of its terms. If it is an unfair award they should be able to advance reasons why it should be altered. But, instead of doing that, they plunged the Commonwealth into a serious industrial trouble which threatens to bring ruin upon many thousands of people.
It may be said that the bill is drastic.
Extreme cases call for extreme measures. What could be worse than an outbreak of war? We all abhor war, but we are all ready to fight in defence of the national honour and for the preservation of those principles which are dear to us. This trouble with which we are confronted to-day is a species of industrial war, and the Government is going into action not on the side of one of the disputants, but in the interests of all the people. This legislative action is being taken to ensure that there shall not be a recurrence of such disputes. It is a perfectly proper attitude for the Government to adopt. This bill is not, as Senator Needham has suggested, an attempt to smash organized unionism. Are we to infer from the honorable senator’s remarks that he brackets all the other trade unions in the Commonwealth with the Waterside Workers Federation? If he does, then I am quite sure that organized trade unionism will be quick to resent the suggestion that they are in line with the waterside workers in this dispute. This proposed law is not directed against any particular industrial section. Inferentially it may be directed against a particular organization, but actually it is directed only against those who break the law. So long as organized trade unionists observe the law they will have nothing to fear. Is Senator Needham afraid that trade unionism in Australia is going to run amok as the waterside workers have done, and smash their industrial agreements and Arbitration Court awards, thereby causing industrial chaos? Certain action taken by the waterside workers has made it imperative for the Government to introduce this legislation to prevent a recurrence of the trouble. There is no doubt that the bill contains drastic provisions ; but, as I have said, desperate cases call for desperate remedies.
SenatorFoll. - This bill is protective of the interests of the people.
– It is. I hope, however, that it willnot be necessary to retain itfor any length of time on the statute-book. I am hoping that the waterside workers will realize that they cannot play fast and loose with the community.
– What is the objection to having a permanent registration of transport workers?
– I am afraid that the application of the law permanently from one end of Australia to the other would involve us in considerable trouble and difficulty, apart altogether from the question whether it is desirable to retain such a law on the statute-book. If the permanent operation of the principle be good for this industry, we must logically apply it to other industries, and I shrink from imagining a condition of society in which a man would be allowed to work only if he were licensed. Therefore, I hope that this measure will serve the purpose for which it is designed, namely, the establishment of industrial peace on the waterfront, and that when the waterside workers have a clearer understanding of their responsibility to society, the bill can be repealed so that they may work on the same basis as men in other callings. They can then be trusted to observe the canons of constitutional trade unionism, and not resort to the extremes that have been peculiar to their industry and allied occupations.
– (By leave) - I rise to make a personal explanation. During the course of my speech to-day I said that Senator Needham had on one occasion expressed his readiness to defy a law of the Commonwealth Parliament. . The honorable senator denied the accusation and challenged me to produce proof of it. I now quote from his speech on the Crimes Bill on the 4th March, 1926-
– the Minister has said that members of Parliament who attendedthis conference were defying a law of the Commonwealth.
– So they were.
– I was; and I shall dp so again if I think a law is unjust and tyrannical.
– T’hematterwith whichthis bill deals is so important that it will undoubtedly figure prominently in the coming election campaign, when each member will have the fullest opportunity .to explain to the public his reasons for- supporting or opposing it. Honorable members who are associated with the’ Leader of the Opposition have said that the bill is an electioneering stunt. Indeed, Senator MacDonald declared that it was becoming a practice for people to ask, when trouble occurred on the waterfront, if an election were likely to take place. Honorable senators will recollect that, preceding the general election three years ago, trouble arose on the waterfront many months before Parliament was due to go to the country. The then Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Charlton) criticized the Government’s attitude towards the strikers,, and challenged it to go to the country on that issue. The Prime Minister accepted the challenge, and the result of it was a complete vindication of the Government’s policy. If tho industrial upheaval on that occasion was a major issue of the election, Mr. Charlton was the person who made it so. Senator Graham said that the Government does not intend to, and, indeed, dare not, give effect to this legislation. The honorable gentleman must have a short memory. At the last election the Government told the people that it proposed to take certain action against extremists, and that, if it had not the requisite legislative authority, it would ask Parliament to confer upon it additional power. The Government did not hesitate to carry out that undertaking, and when it was found that the then existing legislation did not give the requisite power to deal with undesirables, it took the earliest opportunity, in accordance with the mandate of the people, to ask Parliament to grant further powers. Parliament legislated as the Government desired, and the Ministry has not hesitated, when the circumstances warranted, to take action against the principal al disturbers of industrial peace. We have been told that the proposed legislation will allow the Government to become tyrannical. I admit frankly that the powers conferred by the bill are very wide; but do honorable senators suggest that in a democracy like Australia the public would tolerate an abuse of the trust reposed in the Government? If the Government exercised tyranically the powers conferred upon it by Parliament it could not survive an appeal to the people. What is the fear of honorable senators who are opposing the bill? It aims at giving protection to those who will honour and observe the awards of the Arbitration Court. The critics of the bill would have us believe that all the waterside workers throughout Australia are opposed to working under the award. I venture to say that if a ballot were taken of the members of the organization 75 per cent, of them would vote in favour of returning to their jobs under the conditions awarded by the court.
– More than that.
– Probably tEat is a conservative estimate.
– Has not the Government power under existing legislation to take a ballot?
– The honorable senator said that all the waterside workers would be affected by this legislation. ‘ That is not so. Those in Tasmania are at work to-day, and I am confident that they desire to continue on the job. It seems to me that we are approaching a time when a general review of our industrial legislation will be necessary. We shall have to consider whether the workmen in certain ports, who have always observed the awards, are to be drawn into every industrial dispute on the waterfront in the larger States. To the best of my recollection not one of these troubles has originated in Tasmania. The waterside workers there share the desire of the people that they shall not be drawn into the disputes. Under the provisions of this bill those who are prepared to observe the awards will, I hope, receive that measure of protection to which they are entitled. There is a large body of workers who always have been agreeable to accept the Arbitration Court as a tribunal for the settlement of their industrial grievances, and who believe that the presiding judge deals impartially with each plaint’. When they believe that their conditions of employment should be reviewed they are prepared to go to the court, and leave the judge to decide fairly between them and the employers.Such men will hail with satisfaction this legislation which will enable them to follow their avocations peacefully in accordance with the awards of the court.
.- My attitude to this measure may be expressed in a few words. I endorse the Government’s action, and will back it up to to the fullest extent in this chamber, and in the constituencies. In supporting this endeavour to give protection to the law-abiding sections of the community, I speak as one who knows the industrial movement and the Labour party. I watched at its cradle; I do not wish to follow its coffin, although the indications are that it is1 being headed for destruc-tion. I put this phase to the Senate: If this measure is as iniquitous as its critics have said, the Government is foolish to introduce it on the eve of an election, for it runs the risk of punishment by the electors. A prominent leader in the Labour movement said a few days ago that the Government’s action would tend to create a new and more virile Labour organization. If that should be the result of this proposal the Labour party will have reason to rejoice, and we of the other parties will share its happiness. Apart from my desire to assist the honest trade unionist, and protect him against the militants and the “ reds “ who are leading him into wrong paths, I support this bill because of the peculiar circumstances of the State I represent. Tasmania is an island, and its produce can be placed on the markets of the mainland only by means of sea transport. We are especially hard hit when a trouble of this kind arises. It is regrettable that a small section of militant leaders in Sydney or Melbourne can, by a stroke of the pen, throw out of employment factory workers, primary producers, miners and other workers throughout Australia. I welcome the introduction of this bill, for its passing will mark the dawn - of a new era for the genuine worker. With this legislation on the statute-book, we can tell the few extremists in our midst that no longer shall they dictate the terms under which the trade and commerce of this country shall be transacted. In the . exercise of the powers conferred by this measure, -I trust that’ the Government will show wisdom, that it will administer the law to protect the genuine workers. If that is done - as I believe it will be - thousands of honest, genuine, workers in the trade unions of this country will offer up a prayer of gratitude for a Government that has rescued them from leaders who, instead of being their friends, are their mortal enemies.
– I support the bill, which is a measure to deal with dishonest men as they should be dealt with, and to protect honest men. We have in our midst a set of rebels who seek to injure this country. I am astonished that men, who otherwise may be regarded as sensible, should be so foolish as to obey them. No one invited these rebels to Australia, and no one would regret their departure; they are not an asset to the country. The best policy to adopt with them is that which is usually adopted in connexion with useless things, namely, get rid of them as soon as possible. The question confronting us is whether the Government, or a set of rebels, shall rule Australia. The condition of many of our trade unions is such that no common sense man dares to stand up at a meeting and express his honest opinion. If he did, he would be hounded down. I speak as a man who has led men for nineteen years. The only real trade union in Australia to-day is the Australian Workers Union ; the other unions are iri the hands of rebels. Eighty-five per cent, of the workers of Australia are almost ideal men, whose only desire is that they shall be allowed to work out their own salvation. A man is either good or bad; he is either within the law or without it. Those who stand for constitutional government believe that in this crisis the Government must rule. A lot of balderdash is talked about the Government trying to manufacture an election cry. Do honorable senators opposite think that the people of Australia are simple enough to believe that? Eighty-five per cent, of the workers are only waiting the opportunity to demonstrate their desire for liberty. Yesterday’s newspapers contained a report that a stationmaster in Queensland had refused to send trucks tq load sugar. There is something to which Mr. McCormack, the Premier of Queensland, should give his attention. Notwithstanding that a continuation .of ‘this strike will cause men, women and children to suffer, the only concern of honorable senators opposite is whether out of this trouble they will gain or lose votes, whereas their duty as members of this Parliament is to legislate in the best interests of all the people. We should congratulate ourselves that there is in office a government which is prepared to do its duty. I am not concerned about chickens that are not hatched, but I am concerned that those which are hatched are trained properly. Where would any of us be to-day were it not for the discipline to which we were subjected in early life? The workers of Australia to-day need as leaders men with enough common sense to discipline them. The rebels in Australia who have come from Moscow should be sent back to Russia or anywhere out of Australia. On one occasion a number of men were deported from South Africa. No letters have been received from them since they left; they had. no friends to write to. Honorable senators opposite plead on behalf of the “ poor worker “. The Leader of the Senate and some other honorable senators, including myself, have in times past raised the same cry : we have talked about the aid widow woman who kept a shop and pleaded the cause of the poor old fellow with one leg who conducted a barber’s saloon. Honorable senators opposite are trying to do to-day what we did years ago. They forget the changes which have taken place. Senator MacDonald condemned the provision for two pick-up -periods .. daily. What about the miner at Broken Hill who has to attend at the mine at 8 o’clock in the morning, again at noon, and also in the afternoon at 4 o’clock, looking for a job? I do not say that it is right that these conditions should obtain, but we cannot expect to get all we want at once. Honorable senators opposite are looking for a new Jerusalem; but they are going the wrong way to find it. This bill, when it becomes law, will mean the salvation of Australia ; it will open the way to greater- freedom and will give to everyman an opportunity to work out his own salvation. Hundreds of men to-daylivein a constant state of terror. I liken SenatorOgden and . myself to David and Johnathan, because our love of truth and our concern for the Empire have drawn us together. We are prepared” to sacrifice much to maintain the freedom and liberty for which the British flag stands. . We do not want in Australia a repetition of what took place in Russia. The people there, dissatisfied with the Czar, killed him, but in his place they established two other Czars in Lenin and Trotsky. I shall vote for the second reading.
[4.59]. - In view of the little time at our disposal I do not propose to traverse the various speeches which have been made, but to one statement made by Senator Duncan I feel that I must, on behalf of the Government, make reference. The honorable senator said that he regarded this as a temporary measure which, he anticipated, would be discarded after the settlement of the present industrial upheaval.
– No ; I did not think it would be put aside as soon as that; I thought that it would remain in operation for a few years.
– I desire that there shall be no erroneous impression as “to the attitude of the Government. The Government intends that the protection which is now being offered under this bill to those who will undertake to work under the terms of the awards shall be of a permanent, and not of a temporary nature. Of course, the continuation of that protection may not be under this bill - it may be considered advisable to introduce other legislation for the purpose - but I wish to unhesitatingly make it clear that the protection that will be afforded will be of a permanent nature.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed -to.
Clause 3 (Power to make-regulations).
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to. Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time. .Question - put. The Senate divided. Ayes ‘. . . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Tasmania Grant Bill. Loan Bill (No. 2) 1928. Land Tax Assessment Bill 1928. Customs Tariff (No. 2). Customs Tariff’ (No. 3).
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended and bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[5.16]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As honorable senators are aware, it is the practice each year to pass a bill fixing the income tax rates. This bill fixes, as from 1st July, 1928, the same rates that were in operation last year. As there has been no change in the rates, I ask the Senate to agree to the second reading of the bill without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed - That the bill be now read a first time.
– Under normal conditions3 the members of the Opposition would discuss in detail the bill now before the Senate, but in view of the fact that on the motion for the ;printing of the Estimates and budget papers I availed myself of the opportunity to criticize the financial position of the Commonwealth as revealed by the Treasurer’s budget speech, and that there is a desire to conclude the present sittings of Parliament to-day, I shall mention only one or two important matters in the hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) or the Minister representing the departments concerned will be able to give me a reply before the Senate rises.
The first matter which concerns the Defence Department’ is one to which I have previously referred. On the 6th October, 1927, I brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Senator Sir William Glasgow) the decision of the High Court in an action brought by his department against the Electric Company of Australia, Sydney. The Minister in his reply stated that when the next amendment of the Defence Act was being considered, he would see that the anomaly I mentioned was considered. The facts are these: Under the compulsory training provisions of the Defence Act an apprentice employed by the firm named had to attend training camps. At the end of the lad’s term of apprenticeship the firm said he would have to serve an additional term to cover the period during which he was absent from his employment while in camp. The Defence Department brought an action against the company and the magistrate fined it £10. On appeal, the Supreme Court of New South Wales quashed the conviction. The matter was then carried on appeal by the Defence Department to the High Court, which, on. the casting vote of the Chief Justice, decided in favour of the company. I consider this matter of sufficient importance to again bring it before the Senate. I contend that any youth who, in obedience to the law of the land attends a training camp, should not have added to his period of apprenticeship the time he was in camp. I ask the Government to fulfil the promise made by the Minister for Defence, who said that an amending bill would be brought down to cover such cases.
I also wish to bring under the notice of the Government an incident that occurred a few months ago at Fremantle, when 52 prohibited immigrants were discovered by customs officers carefully stowed away in a steamship. To summarize the position, I shall read the following memorandum issued by the Home and Territories Department for the information of all searchers and watchers endeavouring to prevent the entry of prohibited immigrants.
Home and Territories, 22/6717 (16th June, 1922 ) .
Coloured Stowaway Traffic.
Adverting to my circular memorandum on the 19th January last, I am directed to inform you that the Minister is pleased to note from the reports received from the various States, the precautions taken by way of watching and searching to prevent coloured stowaways from gaining illegal entrance to the Commonwealth, and he desires that there shall be no relaxation of efforts in this direction.
The 52 stowaways were discovered as a result of the vigilance of searchers and watchers, but instead of the full reward, £20 was the maximum amount that each man received. It may be claimed by the department that some information had been received that these men were on a steamer due to arrive at Fremantle, but the name of the vessel was not specified by the intelligence officer. It therefore remained for the searchers and watchers to discover not only the vessel but the stowaways. I ask the Minister to see that these men receive the full reward to which in terms of the circular they are entitled.
I also wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a matter relating to contracts let by that department. The general secretary of the Australian Labour party in Western Australia -wrote to me as follows : -
It 1ms come to my notice that the contract made by the Postal Department for clearing the track for the telephone lines from Toodyay to Goomalling has been let to Southern Europeans. I asked for information from the department by telephone, and was requested to write. I have done so, as follows: -
Could you kindly inform me as to thu name of the contractor who cleared the track for the telephone line from Toodyay to Goomalling, which has been recently completed ?
Could you also inform me whether there is any stipulation in the contract let by your department that preference shall be given to Britishers or naturalized British subjects? Trusting to receive an early reply.
In reply to which I received this answer - In reply to your memo, of 18th July, 1928, I have to advise that the name of the contractor for the ToodyayGoomalling clearing is Mr. P. Omodei.
There was no clause in the conditions of contract which stipulated that preference was to bc given to British or naturalized British subjects. (Sgd.) J. G. Kilpatrick,
I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that Southern Europeans are obtaining contracts to the. exclusion of British or naturalized British subjects. Power should be given to the department to stop such a practice. I presume that contracts are let to the lowest tenderer, but provision should be made in future tenders that foreigners shall not have preference over British subjects. The only other matter I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General is the case of T. J. Myers, of 29 Victoriastreet, Kalgoorlie. Mr. Myers is a returned soldier. He suffered from trench fever at the front, and one of his eyes is affected as the result of war activities. He is now receiving a war pension of 10s. 6d. a week. The affected eye is not as good as the other, but he has the use of it. For seven years he has been engaged as a linesman in the Postal Department. He passed an examination for permanent appointment, and while he was working in Wagin was gazetted. He submitted himself to a medical examination, and the doctor told him that he was all right. Vet, because of his impaired eye, the Public Service Board refuses to approve of his permanent appointment, declaring that he is not fit for a permanent position.
I should like the Minister, if possible, to give me a reply to the matters I have brought under his notice. There are other subjects, under the various votes, to which I could refer, but realizing that the Senate cannot properly discuss an Appropriation Bill under at least two days, I have not the slightest intention of endeavouring to discuss this bill in the limited time now at our disposal.
– In view of the general desire of honorable senators to put this bill through quickly, although there are very, many subjects to which I wish to refer, I shall confine my remarks to the reply furnished to me on the 13th September last, in regard to the cost involved in sending a telegraph message from Broome in Western Australia to Cape York in Queensland, a distance along the telegraph lines of about 7,500 miles. I asked whether the cost per mile of the telegraph poles was £70 and was informed that they cost £14Q, which was considerably more than I expected. The idea I had in view in submitting my question was to bring under notice the fact that, whereas we can send telegrams at Id. a word over 7,500 miles of telegraph lines which have cost up to £140 a mile the charge for sending a Beam wireless message is ls. lOd. a word although the cost of erecting the plant to send those messages did not exceed £120,000. In his reply to my questions the Minister after admitting a difference in the financial aspect of the question, said -
The destination of ordinary messages delivered in the Commonwealth is via land line,
Of course we knew that - but the destination of Beam wireless messages referred to is England. Therefore the services are not similar.
I should like the Minister to explain why the services are not similar. I have a brother-in-law in Adelaide and one in England. If I send a telegraph message to my brother-in-law in Adelaide and a Beam wireless or cable message to my brother-in-law in England, is not a similar service performed in each case? There is a cable between the mainland and Tasmania. If I send a message by cable to friends in Tasmania and another message by cable to friends in England is that not also a’ similar service? If it is not why is it not? The Minister’s reply proceeded -
Over each of the channels of communication a variety of classes of traffic is sent,
I admit that - and the rate charged for any particular class of traffic is not necessarily based on the capital investment or the cost of rendering this service.
That opens up the very important question of whether the policy of the Postal Department is to render services as near as possible at cost price, or make a prout.
– There was a heavy loss on last year’s operations of the telegraph branch.
– 1 quite admit the possibility of a loss being sustained by carrying telegraph messages at a Id. a word over costly land lines, and I want to know why the charge should be ls. lOd. a word for the transmission of messages over the Beam wireless the cost of which is infinitesimal in comparison with that of telegraph lines. Is it the policy of the Government to make the Post Office an instrument for levying taxation? The Telegraph Department is certainly not used for that purpose, because it is giving a wonderful service at less than cost price. “What, I ask, is the policy in regard to beam wireless charges? The Government has a definite interest in the Pacific Cable Board, and holds more than half the number of shares in the beam service company in Australia. The Minister admitted that the Government was consulted before the charges were fixed for the Canadian service, and I take it that it has also some say as to what those charges should be. Is the Government to be quite indifferent to the cost of the service which we receive or is it intended that these messages shall be transmitted at. as near cost price as possible? I know the policy of the English post office has been to raise revenue for the Government, and sometimes as much as £8,000,000 a year profit has been made. In the past, however, it has not been the policy in Australia to use the post office for raising taxation. I had intended to speak on other matters, but I shall refrain from doing so in the hope of receiving a satisfactory answer to these questions.
.—-I am disappointed that nothing has been done during the last six years. towards putting in hand the construction of a railway line connecting the Northern Territory with the railway systems of Queensland and New South Wales. In 1914,” during the regime of the Cook Government this work was considered of sufficient importance for a decision to be arrived at to proceed with it, subject to endorsement by the Queensland Government; but the State Ministry headed by Messrs. Denham and Barnes refused to accept the Federal offer. The matter was brought up by Senator Foll recently by way of a resolution, but after it had been debated nothing more was done. It may be said that . this is a parochial matter affecting Queensland only, but Queensland has not been very well treated in the matter , of Commonwealth expenditure. Queensland may not be exactly the Cinderella State of the Commonwealth, but it is certainly not the most favoured State. For instance, the General Post Office in Brisbane is an eyesore. We take a pride in Brisbane in our State and civic buildings. The new treasury block in that city is equal to anything in any of the capital cities of Australia. Indeed, it will compare favorably with public .buildings in any part of the world, and I had an opportunity some years ago of inspecting corresponding buildings in London and Paris. The new Roman Catholic Cathedral in Brisbane will, when completed, be a magnificent building, which ‘ will be equal, or superior to, the cathedrals in Melbourne or Sydney. Very fine mercantile buildings are being erected by private concerns, but in contrast to these the general post office, in the heart of the Queen city, makes a very . poor showing. Indeed, there is no imposing Commonwealth building in Brisbane.
– Do not forget the new telephone exchange.
Senator- MacDONALD. - They are proceeding very slowly with it; The new town hall, which is now nearing completion, will be the best of its kind in Australia.
If this railway to the Northern Territory had been completed during the present drought, which has been the worst within the memory even of the aborigines, it would have been the means of saving millions of sheep. Thus it would have. been of benefit, not only to Queensland, but to the whole of Australia, and might have been the means of reducing the Commonwealth deficit. The Northern Territory Commissioners, in their report, support the construction of the railway. I do not want to make unfavorable comparisons between this line and that being constructed from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs; but I urge that no time should be lost in connecting the Northern Territory by means of a north-east line with Queensland and New South Wales.
– Repeated requests .have been made to the Department of Trade and Customs to have re-surveys made of portions of the north-west and west coasts of Tasmania. The survey of the north-west coast was made many years ago. It is plotted on a very small chart, and complaints have been made from time to time by shipmasters that it is not complete. The west coast, on account of storms, is extremely hazardous to navigate. The Strahan Marine Board has repeatedly requested that this work be carried out. I understand that the department has asked the State Government to prepare certain landmarks, to enable the survey of the west coast to be made. I do not say that that is an unreasonable request; but the fact remains that the State Government has not seen fit to comply with it. The question as to who should prepare the land-marks ought not to be allowed to hinder the carrying out of this very important work. Even though the State is not prepared to share in the cost, the Commonwealth should still undertake. the surveys in the interest of the navigation of Tasmanian waters.
– Senator Needham seems to delight in “ having a dig “ at the Defence Department. Speaking to the motion that the Estimates and budget papers be printed, he stated that millions of pounds had been spent upon that department, and that the Commonwealth had nothing to show for it.
– I said that it was wasted, which is worse than being merely spent.
– The honorable senator’s speech did not contain anything constructive. Are we to understand that he has not a policy, or that he would abolish the department and not make any attempt to defend Australia?
– I would abolish some of the generals.
– Is it the policy of the Labour party to abolish the Defence Department?
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about.
–Senator Needham stated that we had nothing to show for our expenditure. That is quite false. We have been giving effect to a very definite programme for a number of years, and obtaining excellent results. A navy is being established. It is a fine one of its class, even though it is small. A visit to Point Cook will show honorable senators what is being done in connexion with our aircraft. Honorable senators opposite declare that there is nothing down there; but they have not paid a visit to the place, and, therefore, cannot speak authoritatively. Every year, young cadets attend a course in aviation, after which they resume their occupations in civil life with a pilot’s certificate. That training is most valuable. In the past, when Senator Gardiner led the Opposition in this Senate, he pinned his faith to aircraft and submarines.
– So do we.
– That is not apparent from the speeches of honorable senators who sit opposite; but, if it is so, they ought to derive gratification from the fact that the Government is developing its policy along those lines.
I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to the great dearth of landing grounds in the Commonwealth. Senator Guthrie, Senator Plain . and I had this impressed upon us very vividly last week, when we were taken by air from Canberra to Melbourne. The pilot stated that, with the exception of that at Cootamundra, there is no landing ground worthy of the name. That town is not in a direct line between here and Melbourne; you have to fly due west for a distance of 75 miles before you strike it. There are sites which could be made satisfactory landing grounds at Benalla and Seymour; but in their present condition it is dangerous to attempt to land upon them, because one is liable to crash. They have a number of stumps upon them, but these could be cleared at very little expense. To-day a wire was received from Senator Guthrie, stating that he had had to descend near Seymour. Apparently the machine was put out of order, and he was not able to continue his journey. It is undesirable that flying should be discouraged in this way. Engine trouble is always likely to be experienced, rendering it necessary to land. If possible, arrangements should be made with different country towns to provide landing grounds.
The War Office is urging that senior military officers should be encouraged in every way to become accustomed to being aloft and making observations from an aeroplane. This is worthy of the serious attention of the Government. In the old days it was possible to ride a horse to within a few hundred yards of the enemy’s lines, and reconnoitre his position. It is no longer possible to approach within a mile or so, and thus useful information cannot be obtained in that way. Consequently, there has been substituted reconnaissance from an aeroplane. It would be useless in time of war to send officers aloft without any previous training. One is just as much liable to be attacked by air sickness as by sea sickness, and should that occur an army’s plans might be disarranged. I was disappointed at not receiving’ any encouragement when I applied recently to the Minister of Defence for permission to use one of the department’s planes. Air Commodore Williams stated that he had a number of young officers who would be only too glad of the opportunity to fly to Canberra, pick us up and take us back to Melbourne. Seeing that the function which we wished to attend was closely connected with the military forces, I think the Government might have permitted these officers to perform this service.
Although our military force is small it is by no means to be despised. I suggest to honorable senators opposite that they should visit Williamstown on the first Saturday afternoon they have available to see the youngsters of the forces go through their firing exercises. In my opinion there is no army, either professional or citizen, in the world which could teach these youngsters much in the way of rifle shooting or Lewis gun work. I am sure that no honorable senator would be prepared to risk his head and shoulders in the place of the headandshoulder targets that the citizen forces use for their practice. The extraordinary development of rifle and machine gun practice throughout the forces is due in a large measure to the encouragement given to it by General Brand who, with his experience and enthusiasm, has done a great deal to encourage the boys. The presence of other senior officers on the range has also been a great benefit to them. Great credit is likewise due to the civilian rifle clubs for the assistance they have given in. this respect by acting as coaches.
The question of the mechanization of the army is referred to in the report. Sixwheeled lorries are gradually taking the place of horse teams, but the guns have not been built te stand being rattled along at 15 miles an hour at the tail of a motor lorry. Consideration must shortly ‘ be given to the provision of pneumatic tires on the guns. A good deal in this direction has already been done in Great Britain, but it cannot be said that the mechanization of the artillery, or that the adoption of specific types of motor vehicles, has been in any sense standardized. The Government would be well advised to give some attention to this subject.
Mr- MacRobertson deserves the utmost credit for his round Australia tour, one of the objects of which was to demonstrate the usefulness of motor transport. The Government should encourage other people to purchase similar plant by granting subsidies to them. These transport facilities would then be available at any time for defence purposes. A good deal is being done in England at present in that direction, though the transport is by no means stabilized.
Motor transport would be of extreme value in signal work. With our far-flung battles we are coming to realize more and more the importance of signal equipment. The work that has been done in the camps in this direction has been very successful.
It is regrettable that there is such a great shortage of officers and noncommissioned officers. According to appendix A of the Inspector-General’s report, we are 112 commissioned and 452 noncommissioned officers short in the first military district and 236 commissioned and 586 non-commissioned officers short in the second military district. The total shortage is 608 officers and 1,771 non-commissioned officers. We have been relying, since the war, upon the services of men who were on active service, but the time has come when we should pay a good deal more attention to this matter. I feel sure that an investigation would reveal that one of the reasons for the shortage is that the reduced period of service does not make it worth while for men to undertake the higher training. As soon as money is available we should increase the length of service by one or two quotas.
The Inspector-General’s report had a commendable word to say about the advisableness of adopting a smarter uniform for the troops. The old blouse with which we are so familiar gave good service in the Australian Imperial Forces, but it does not make any appeal in these days to the boys on parade or their sweethearts. I advise the Government to consider the adoption of something more brilliant and cheerful.
– In reference to the remarks of Senator Needham about the Toodyay-Goomalling telephone line, I have received the following report from the Postmaster-General : -
Toodyay-Goomalling Telephone Line.
Tenders were invited for the abovementioned telephone line, as shown hereunder : - (re) Clearing.
Supply of poles, delivery to be made at peg marks.
Regarding (a), only one- tender (nonBritish) was received, and was accepted.
Six tenders were received for (6), three of which were British. Each British tender was for the supply of poles free on rail and not at peg marks. When freight and cartage were added, the foreign tender was lower by 12$ per cent.
A non-British tender only was received for (c).
No tender was successful for (d), and the work was carried out departmentally.
– What about preventing foreigners from competing against Britishers?
– That is a matter of Government policy. Does Senator Needham suggest that the Government should give the contract to British firms irrespective of how much their price is above the price of foreign firms?
– Does the honorable senator say that the Government should not do so ?
– Attention has been directed by the honorable senator to the case of Mr. A. T. Myers, who was declared to be medically unfit for a permanent position in the Telegraph Department. I am informed upon that matter as follows: -
Mr. Myers, who is a returned soldier, was temporarily employed as lineman, and upon his passing the examination for permanent appointment, and his turn arriving, he was required to undergo the usual medical examination. From medical advice received it was found that his vision is very poor, and could not be improved with glasses. His medical history showed that the eye condition existed prior to his leaving Australia, and was not attributable to active service, although possibly aggravated by such service.
Regarding the remarks of Senator Thomas about the Beam service, I point out that the charges for this service are not similar to those for the ordinary telegraphic service; because in the latter case, the whole of the work is performed by the Commonwealth Administration, but the Beam service is administered by the Commonwealth in conjunction with the British Post Office.
[6.11]. - Senator Needham raised the question of the position of apprentices under the Defence
Act, and quoted the case of a young apprentice who was penalized by his employers who required him at the end of his apprenticeship to serve an additional period to cover the number of days during which he was absent from his employment on military duties. The matter was brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) who said that he would consider amending the act with a view to meeting such cases. The matter was then referred to the Attorney-General’s Department with a view to having such an amendment of the act made. The Solicitor-‘General on 24th January last replied that, in his opinion, it would be advisable to amend the section in order to ensure that trainees under indentures of apprenticeship would not suffer any detriment as a consequence of rendering the service required by the act. In a further communication from the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, dated 28th June, Sir Robert Garran states that the amendment itself appears to be one of some difficulty in view of the fact that apprenticeship is a matter governed by State law. He further points out that where a person is serving articles of apprenticeship the mere fact that he is required by Commonwealth law to perform military training, does not affect his obligation under the terms of his apprenticeship to complete the full period of service in the trade or occupation to which he is apprenticed. The insistence of an employer upon full compliance with that requirement has been decided by the High Court not to fall within the scope of section 134 of the Defence Act. In other words, the employer, by insisting upon the full term, does not “penalize” his employee.- In the circumstances, therefore, it appears that an employer is within his rights in requiring apprentices to make up the time which they have served by way of military training.
The Solicitor-General further points out that it is difficult to advise on cases without seeing or being informed as to the contents of the actual indentures of apprenticeship. For instance, it is quite possible that the indentures may contain some provision under which the apprentice agrees to serve for a certain number of years, and to exclude, in reckoning the period of his service, all time during which he is absent, irrespective of the cause of his absence. He goes on to refer to the fact that the decision of the three judges constituting the majority of the High Court in the case of Wells v. English Electric Company of Australia Limited (38 Commonwealth Law Reports, page 295), was to the effect that on the facts of the case the employee had not’ been “ penalized “ in his employment, seeing that he could have enforced his rights by legal action. He states that the case may be regarded as an authority for the view that on an indenture of apprenticeship drawn in the form used in that case, the employer has no right to require the apprentice to make up the amount of time spent by him in the annual training required by the Defence Act. The department is prepared to do everything in its power to see that apprentices are not penalized for having performed the training required by the act, and to investigate cases in which questions arise as to whether the apprentice has been penalized. The court held that the apprentice in that case could have insisted upon the termination of his apprenticeship on the day fixed by the indenture without serving the additional days required by the defendant. The dissenting judges took the view that the employer in that case had penalized the employee within the meaning of that section. Apparently their view is that the employer had no power to require the employee to serve for the additional days required by him. This Parliament cannot interfere with the full right of a State Parliament to pass a State law.
– Is not the Federal law supreme?
– Not in a matter in which a State has full power. If a State law provides that an apprentice shall complete three years of training, notwithstanding that he gives part of that time to military duties, this Parliament cannot override the State law. If the honorable senator considers that the time spent in military training should be taken off the period of apprenticeship, then it is the State law that must be amended.
I have a minute from the Home and Territories Department referring to the discovery of 50 Chinese stowaways on the steamer Almkerk on the 20th October, 1927. It states-
In 1922 the then Minister approved of a reward of £25 being offered to customs officers for each coloured stowaway discovered by them and in respect of whom ‘ the master of .the ship was’ convicted and fined £100 for a breach of the Immigration Act. The object of this offer was to act as an incentive to searching officers to make every effort to discover Chinese stowaways.
In the case of the 50 men discovered on the Almkerk, definite information was received beforehand that 52 Chinese stowaways were on board this vessel when she left Rotterdam, and that they were all secreted in the tank.
The customs officers worked strenuously to remove many tons of cargo in order to get at the tanks, and they deserve great credit for the successful results of their search. The position, however, was not the same as if they had discovered the men without the precise information to guide them. . The question as to the amount of reward to be distributed to the officers concerned was referred to the Collector of Customs for his recommendation, bearing in mind the special circumstances of the case. As a result, a sum of £270 was distributed amongst the officers in accordance with the Collector’s recommendation.’
Senator MacDonald referred to a railway proposal in Queensland. This subject was raised by Senator Foll in a motion which has been discussed in the Senate. The Prime Minister received a deputation on the matter in Queensland, and promised that it would receive the consideration of the Government.
As to the complaint that Brisbane has not had a fair deal in the matter of Commonwealth expenditure, I remind the honorable senator that the Commonwealth Government voted a considerable sum towards the cost of constructing the BrisbaneKyogleSydney railway. A magnificent telephone exchange has been erected in the Queensland capital, and a fine Commonwealth Bank building has been placed on a prominent site there. The delay in the erection of the Commonwealth offices in Brisbane is entirely due to the request of the local authorities that it should not be built until a decision has been reached regarding Anzac Square. The Public Works Committee recommended the building of these offices, and they would have been erected two years ago except for the circumstance that I have mentioned.
A request was made by Senator Herbert Hays for a survey of a portion of the Tasmanian coast. I have no personal knowledge of this subject, but I shall bring it under the notice of the responsible Minister.
Senator Elliott referred to the lack of landing places for aeroplanes and the need to encourage senior military officers to make observations from the air. These matters and his remarks about sixwheeled tractors will be brought under the notice . of the Minister for Defence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[6.19]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
When I presented the budget papers I gave honorable senators a full statement of the financial -position. My remarks on that occasion comprised practically an epitome of the Treasurer’s budget speech. I then invited honorable senators to discuss finances generally. As honorable senators have had a full opportunity to deal with the budget in general outline, I content myself now by asking them to support the second reading of this bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £22,992,927.
– I direct the attention of honorable senators to the items under the Joint House Department relating to the salaries of waiters in the refreshment rooms. There is provision for one waiter at £294, three at £270, one at £293, and three at £266 10s. These waiters have to appear in proper dress, and I believe that their uniform costs approximately £3 15s. The highest salary is £5 10s. a week. ‘ Is it possible to make an allowance to the waiters for trousers?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - There is a considerable number of employees in the Joint House Department and Parliament provides uniforms for all who are expected to wear uniforms. White coats are furnished for the waiters. Certain men from the cleaning department are also called upon to wait at table at lunch time and dinner in an emergency. It would not be reasonable to expect the department to provide these men with uniforms for the dining room, but they are supplied with as many white coats as are necessary. It is considered that this meets their requirements. When the Seat of Government was in Melbourne we were able, at short notice, to secure temporary employees to assist in the refreshment rooms. In Canberra this avenue is closed to us, so we utilize, when necessary, the services of a number of men from the cleaning staff, to assist in waiting at the tables.
– I notice, in the estimates of the Postmaster-General, that the number of telegraphists employed is less than in the previous year. In New South Wales there is a reduction of 20 employees; in Victoria, 7 ; in Queensland, 12 ; in South Australia, 17; in Western Australia, 17 ; and Tasmania, 1 ; making a total of 74. Is this because of greater efficiency in the department, or is it due to loss of traffic?
– It is partly due to a loss of traffic, and partly to the introduction of machine printing.
.- Under the Department of Trade and Customs I desire to refer to a matter that closely concerns the State- which I assist to represent in this chamber, namely, the effect of the Navigation Act on the coastal shipping trade. There is considerable discontent over this matter in Tasmania. A number of our people believe that the State is suffering more than it should suffer from the operation of the Navigation Act. This belief may result in the expression of a wish to secede from the federation. I do not think that this view is held seriously; but- 1 know that some people are thinking of secession. Since I have been a member of this Parliament I have endeavoured to get an expression of opinion by the Senate on the effect of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act upon coastal shipping generally, but without success. I had a motion on the noticepaper for two years. The Government and honorable senators kept putting the discussion off from time to time, “with the result that Parliament prorogued before I could get a division on the motion. The act is not doing what it was intended to do in stimulating our passenger coastal shipping services. In 1921, 24 passenger ships, aggregating 104,000 tons, were running. In 1926, the tonnage had decreased by 40,000 tons, and the number of ships by eleven, making a total of only thirteen ships with an aggregate displacement of 64,000 tons. That is the result of granting assistance to one small section of the community, comprising about 15,000 seamen. It is not right that the whole community should be penalized to such an extent in the interests of that small section. I, therefore, move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote “ Department of Trade and Customs, £911.260,” by fi.
I do this to test the feeling of the Senate in a matter of such importance to all the people of Australia.
[6.32]. - To ask honorable senators to vote on this amendment as a means of ascertaining their views on the Navigation Act is scarcely reasonable, because honorable senators who might share the opinion of Senator Ogden regarding that legislation might not desire to embarrass the Government by voting to reduce its Estimates.
– Would it embarrass the Government?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Undoubtedly it would, because the Estimates would have to go back to another place. I remind the Senate that a royal commission, the Public Accounts Committee, and various public bodies have made representations regarding the Navigation Act, and that the Prime Minister has promised that they will receive the consideration of the Government. With the election only a few weeks off, honorable senators will understand that it is impossible for me to say more than that. The only person who can now express the policy of the Government is the Prime Minister ; the mouths of other Ministers are closed.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On the 21st September Senator Elliott asked what had been the result of the inquiries instituted into the allegation that the specifications relating to the contract for the administrative block’ at Canberra had’ not been carried out. I now lay on the table of the Senate a copy of an interim report which has been furnished by the committee of experts which is testing the quantity of cement supplied and the adequacy of the foundations for the purpose for which they were constructed, together with a copy of a memorandum from the Chief Commissioner relating to the tests of the samples taken from the completed foundations : -
Memorandum for the Honorable the Minister for Home and Territories.
Further to my memorandum dated the 13th instant covering an interim report by the Committee of Experts into the foundations of the new Administrative Building, in view of the possible rising of Parliament this week I telephoned yesterday to ascertain the progress which had been made in connexion with the tests of the samples taken from the completed foundation, and I desire to advise that I have received a telegram from Professor Sir Henry Barraclough to the following effect: - “ Concrete samples arrived Wednesday proved to be too hard for diamond saw to cut test blocks, must now adopt slower method (stop) Samples probably not ready for test before Wednesday next.” (Sgd.) J. H. Butters, Chief Commissioner.
In accordance with your request that we should visit Canberra and report upon the situation which has arisen in connexion with the foundations of the Administrative Build ings we beg to make the subjoined statement.
We note also your request that a report be furnished during the present week. For reasons explained hereunder it proves to be quite impracticable to complete the investigations within this period. This report, therefore, can only be of the nature of an interim statement.
The situation in relation to the building we found - from the examination of official files - to have risen in the following manner: -
The design of the building was the subject of competition amongst professional architects, one of the conditions being that the designer who was awarded the first prize was to be the architect in charge of its construction.
The successful designer was the late Mr. George Sydney Jones, who unfortunately died before the working drawings were completed. The trustees of his estate (still in accordance with the terms of the competition) nominated Mr. G. H. Godsell, of the firm1 of Robertson & Marks, to carry on the work, and the Federal Capital Commission endorsed the nomination. The working drawings and specifications were’ taken up by Mr. Godsell as architect in charge, and so that quick progress might be made with the building it was decided to let a separate contract for the construction of the foundations only. The quantities for the foundation contract were determined by Messrs. C. A. Harding & Sons, quantity surveyors. The specification for the foundations is a normal one in every respect, and calls for no special comment.
Tenders for the foundations wore called, and the contract was let in October, 1927, to Messrs. Hutcherson Bros., the amount of the contract being £50,7S3. The architect in charge duly appointed Mr. Winter to represent him as resident architect on the work, and an experienced clerk of works was appointed on the nomination of the Federal Capital Commission and with the approval of the architect in charge. The work was carried out under the above described conditions, and was completed at the end of April, 1928.
We are of opinion that, following on the policy involved in the conditions governing the architectural competition, viz., that the design and construction of the building be completely entrusted to the successful architect, everything was done in a proper and orderly fashion and in accordance with professional practice, and the Federal Capital Commissioners had every reason to suppose that the resulting foundations would be in all respects satisfactory.
We are informed that at the time of the completion of the contract, one of the Commissioners - Sir John Harrison - in ‘connexion with another matter, incidentally called for a return of the quantities of materials used in the
Administrative Building foundations. On examining these figures he noticed that there was a large apparent shortage in the amount of cement used, compared with what should normally have been included under the terms of the specification, in the finished mass of concrete.
It should be noted that the cement, as well as the blue metal and sand required for making the concrete, was supplied by the Federal Capital Commissioners at definite specified rates; the contractor from time to time drawing such quantities of the various materials as he required.
Three main questions therefore arise: - (a) Is there in fact a marked deficiency in the quantity of cement required in the concrete as specified and» omitted in the actual construction thereof ?
If the deficiency exists, are the foundations as now actually constructed adequate for their purpose?
On the facts of the case as we have so far ascertained them, the answer to the first question is distinctly in the affirmative. The figures representing the quantities of material drawn from the Commission’s stores indicate clearly that the amount of cement actually present in the completed foundations is less by several hundred tons than would normally have been required.
The precise determination of the amount of this shortage is a matter which will require detailed examination, together with certain laboratory analyses, which will take time to complete. These latter have been put in hand, and the result will be reported to you in due order. Meanwhile we have devoted our attention to the second and more immediately pressing question as to the suitability of the completed foundations for their task of carrying the block of Administrative Buildings.
The concrete specified for the foundations was of two kinds, the first, for portions of the structure bearing the more severe loads, being of the proportions 3 parts blue metal to li parts sand to 1 of cement, while those portions less’ heavily loaded were 4 parts blue metal to 2 of sand to 1 of cement. These proportions are satisfactory, and are such as would commonly be used in such structures.
We learn from statements made by the architect in charge that variations in the proportions of the concrete were made to suit variations in the grade of the blue metal used. These alterations were slight, and were such as would properly be made by an architect under the given conditions.
As no tests of the concrete were made during the course of the construction of the foundations (although in terms of the specification they could properly have been made) the only method open to us of determining the nature and strength of the concrete actually in the foundations was. to cut test pieces of suitable size from different parts of the foundations, and to test these in accordance with recognized standard practice. Approximately 50 of these specimens have been taken from different positions distributed right through the foundations. The work of cutting out the test pieces from the mass of concrete is very tedious, and notwithstanding that the fullest facilities have been made available by the Federal Capital Commission and work has been proceeding for five days from early morning till late at night, the series has only now been completed.
It is proposed that these tests should bc carried out in the Materials’ Testing Laboratories of the University of Sydney. Before this can be done each individual block has to be sawn to exact size, which will still take some days, and the surfaces of the blocks must be accurately faced with cement, which will require several days to set hard before- they can be put into the testing machine, lt is clear, therefore, that the completed results of the testa cannot be obtained in less than probably two weeks from to-day.
We have carefully examined the situation to see if by any means this delay could be avoided, but no suitable alternative presents itself. The tests required are troublesome ones to make, and although we have carried out a series of them, we find that the local facilities are not adequate for obtaining conclusive results. We have consulted representatives of the contractors and of the architect in charge, and no tests would be satisfactory to them except those made by a completely independent and competent testing authority. In this view we concur, and arrangements have been made for the necessary series of specimens to be forwarded to the University of Sydney.
We are of the opinion that such a series of tests will afford the Federal Capital Commission the only positive information obtainable as to the quality of the concrete actually in the foundations, and we recommend that judgment by the Federal Capital Commission be held in abeyance until these figures are available. By that time also the information necessary to determine the shortage of cement in the concrete will have been obtained, and it will then be possible to give an adequate answer to the three questions above set out.
The following is the reply: - 1, 2 and 3. I am now advised by the Minister that the hearing of appeals by a special tribunal is dependent upon the passage of an ordinance to amend the Kates Ordinance. The preparation of such an ordinance is now in hand.
– On the 30th August, 1928, Senator Thomas asked the following questions: -
What is the profit or loss of the working of the beam wireless between Australia and England?
I am now in a position to advise him as follows : -
As previously indicated the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, has been communicated with in this connexion, and the matter has been considered by the Board of Directors. The managing director of the company has intimated, however, for reasons which have already been given (vide Hansard of 27th March, 1928, page 4155), the board feels that it would not be advisable to publish sectional figures of the company’s business other than those supplied to shareholders with the directors’ annual report.
[6.37].- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
As we shall probably not meet again this year, I desire on behalf of the Government to thank you, Mr. President, for the consideration you have always shown to honorable senators in the conduct of the affairs of the Senate, and also to thank honorable senators generally for their courtesy and consideration. The officers and staff of the Senate are likewise entitled to our thanks for the manner in which they have discharged their duties.
– On behalf of the Opposition I endorse the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Senate. As the right honorable gentleman has stated, we shall probably not meet again this year. I therefore wish all honorable senators a very happy Christmas, and I express the hope that the new year will bring them prosperity and peace. To you, sir, the Senate is indebted for the courtesy and consideration you have always shown. I am glad that, of late, your health has improved, and I feel sure that I am voicing the wishes of honorable senators generally when I express the hope that it will continue to improve.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I thank the clerks of the Senate for the assistance they have .rendered ; the members of the Hansard Staff for the manner in which they have discharged their duties, and the staff generally for their courteous help. I convey the thanks of honorable senators on this side of the chamber to the officers of the Senate generally. Without doubt, they have at all times rendered careful, efficient, and valuable service to honorable senators. As we may not all meet again in this chamber, I express the hope that, however radically we differ in our political opinions, our personal friendships may endure. I heartily endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Before putting the motion, I desire to express my very keen appreciation of the courtesy and consideration that honorable senators have invariably extended to me. I thank both the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) for their kindly interest in, and references to, my state of health which, I am pleased to say, has improved very appreciably. I feel particularly grateful to honorable senators and the officers of the Senate for their unfailing courtesy and kindness during what was, to me, a very trying period.
This is an occasion when one should recognize services worthily rendered, and censure those deserving condemnation. I am in the fortunate position of having nothing but commendation to offer to the staff generally. I desire specially to thank the Clerks at the table for the valuable assistance which they have unstintedly extended to me at all times.
Their knowledge and help have very considerably lightened my work. I also tender the thanks of the Senate to the Hansard staff, who are efficient and generous in the service they render- to honorable senators and myself. Honorable senators are aware that the move to Canberra imposed a very heavy burden on all officers of the House, but, though the task was difficult, occasionally unpleasant, and at all times strenuous, the attitude of the officers of the Senate was, without exception, exemplary. I should be lacking in my duty if I failed to express my appreciation of the services of the housekeeper and his staff. On many occasions visitors to parliament House have unreservedly praised its clean, well kept, and attractive appearance due entirely to the efforts of that staff. Our messengers have been particularly attentive to the requirements of honorable senators, while the chef and his assistants, who have attended to our creature comforts, are deserving of much commendation. I cannot overlook the services rendered by the engineer and his staff, who have so splendidly attended to the essential services of the building; while the gardeners deserve our thanks for their untiring efforts to convert Canberra into a veritable Garden of Eden.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at G.45 p.m., till a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
By His Excellency the Right Honorable John Lawrence, Baron Stonehaven, a Member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Member of the Distinguished Service Order, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 September 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280922_senate_10_119/>.