11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Is he aware whether approximately 6,000 applications were received in New South Wales for advances under the Commonwealth housing scheme during the first month it was in operation ?
Does the Queensland State Government still refuse to operate this scheme on behalf of the Federal Government?
If so, will the Government make other arrangements, so that the people of Queensland may receive the same benefit under this scheme as the people of the other States?
I am now able to supply the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Advice has been received that the number of applications actually received to the 23rd February, 1929. was 226. In addition, there were prospective applications not fully completed, numbering 237. The sum involved in these applications was approximately £438,000.
This is a matter of policy which is receiving consideration by the Government.
– On the 8th March Senator Chapman asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
The following papers were presented : -
Central Australia. - Report by the Government Resident on the Administration of the Territory for the year ended 30th June, 1928.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1929 -
No. 1 - Recovery of Lands.
No. 2 - Fish Protection. .
International Radio-telegraph Congress, held at Washington, October-November, 1927 - Report of the Australian Delegate.
International Labour Conference - Draft Convention and Recommendation relating to minimum wage fixing machinery adopted by the Conference at its Eleventh Session, 1928.
Bill received from the House ofRepresentatives, and (on motion by Senator Ogden), read a first time.
Debate resumed from 8th March(vide page 928), on motion by Senator Sir
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Needham had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after “That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “further consideration of this bill he postponed until such time as the committee appointed by the Peace in Industry Conference has made representation to the Government with respect to the penal provisions of industrial legislation passed by this Government.
– When speaking on this measure last Friday I was directing attention to the menace of the influx of foreigners who are displacing our own people. In conversing with some gardeners in South Australia recently I was informed that they usually receive 6s. n case for lemons and 2s. a dozen bunches for turnips, but” the Italian gardeners with whom they have to compete are selling lemons at1s. 6d. a case and turnips at1s. a dozen, bunches. It is difficult to understand how Australian gardeners can successfully carry on against such competition.
– But the consumer is obtaining supplies at a much lower price.
– The consumers may derive some temporary benefit, but if the Australian growers cannot obtain a fair price for their products it will not be long before they will be forced off their holdings and be compelled to join the ranks of the unemployed. When the fruitgrowing and fruit-drying industry was first undertaken in California, only white men were engaged in the industry; but later the Japanese crept in as employees, and it was not long before they began to force the white man out of the business. That is what is likely to happen in Australia.
– But the workers in Adelaide will be able to obtain supplies at a cheaper rate.
SenatorHOARE. - There are always some people who will buy anything that is cheap.
– Is the honorable senator aware that last year the departures of Italians exceeded the arrivals.
– I can scarcely imagine that that was the case; but I do not dispute the honorable senator’s statement.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I remind the honorable senator that the matter he is discussing is not in any way associated with the Transport Workers Bill.
– I was merely replying to an interjection by Senator Duncan. Senator Payne contended that since the introduction of arbitration, wages had increased. The honorable senator omitted to state, however, that prices of commodities also had increased, and that for many years wages had been chasing high prices but were always a long way behind. If it is wise to allow the Arbitration Court to determine the wages to be paid in industry it is equally reasonable to urge that the court should also fix the selling price of commodities. If this were done we should not have these repeated appeals by trade union organizations to the Arbitration Court for increased wages to meet the higher cost of living. Surely Senator Payne realizes that the value of wages is determined, not so much by the total received, as by their purchasing power.
– I do realize that fact to the full.
– The purchasing power of the sovereign has fallen appreciably in recent years. To-day the purchasing power of the sovereign is not more than about 12s. 6d. compared with what it was in 1914. There is sound reason, therefore, for the contention that the Arbitration Court should fix the prices of commodities.
– Does the honorable senator advocate that line of action now?
– If that were done a farmer, if he had a good crop, might be obliged to destroy . it-
– I object to such stupid interjections.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators not to interrupt Senator Hoare, and I suggest that the honorable senator take no notice of interjections.
– Senator Payne argued also that more employment would be created if men worked longer hours and also worked harder in industry.
– What I said was that the greater the production was per head of population, the better it would be for the people of Australia.
– I completely fail to follow the honorable senator’s line of reasoning. I submit that if the 44-hour week were observed generally in industry, the increased employment available would be not less than 10 per cent.
– I thought honorable senators opposite always argued that a man could do as much in 44 hours as he does in48?
– That is true. Mr. HenryFord, who should know his business, has adopted the 44-hour principle, and states that the standard of efficiency is higher and the output is greater than under the 48 hours’ system.
– What about the effect of the piece-work system ?
– The piece-work system was in operation in Henry Ford’s establishments before the working hours were reduced from 48 to 44 per week.
– Does the honorable senator advocate the introduction of piecework in industry?
– I do not, because I look upon it as a self speeding-up system, which is not good for the men. Every man has a certain amount of reserve energy. If this reserve force is expended in a week of 44 hours the additional four hours in a working week of 48 hours will not mean an increased output. Senator Reid referred to the high wages paid to waterside workers. Surely he knows that the higher rate was fixed by the Arbitration Court because of the intermittent nature of the employment, and because a number of men occasionally get a disproportionate share of the work available. I have made some inquiries on this subject from reliable sources in Adelaide find I have been assured that in a normal period very few waterside workers earn more than the basic wage.
– What 1 said was that special gangs could always make more than the basic wage.
– To be fair we should take the average earnings of waterside workers. The Arbitration Court had regard to this factor in the industry when fixing the rate of wages.
– Is it not a fact that the unions have protested against permanent employment on the waterfront.
– I do . not know whether they have done as the honorable senator suggests.
– I know they have.
– The Leader of the Senate in his second-reading speech referred particularly to the position of the waterside workers in Queensland and quoted the following statement by Judge Beeby : -
On the plea that a better distribution of work amongst members of the federation is necessary, the accepted policy of the federation is to “spin out the job” and so to destroy the mobility of labour engaged that many more men will be employed than are necessary….. Definite allegations were made during the proceedings that notwithstanding provisions for extra labour and other advantages conferred by past awards, members of the federation in some ports have systematically reduced output, and that gangs of men, although numerically increased, load and discharge less tonnage per hour than in pre-arbitration days.
That is not the experience in South Australia. I have here some figures compiled by Mr. Condon, M.L.C., showing the relative output of volunteer labour and waterside workers.
– Is Mr. Condon an authority?
– I should say he is one of the best in South Australia. Mr. Condon said -
It took volunteer labourers two days longer than waterside -workers to discharge No. 1 hatch of s.s. Tarcoola.
The following figures show the relative rate of loading by volunteer workers and the waterside workers on s.s. Nolisment -
It should be noted also that the volunteer workers worked four hours longer than the waterside workers.
– Dothose figures take into account the time lost by the volunteer workers when they were being interfered with by waterside workers who were on strike?
– There was no interference with the volunteer workers on that occasion. There has been no trouble on the Port Adelaide wharfs, since Mr. Makin, a member of another place, and I took part in a procession in connexion with the present dispute.
I emphasize the point that there will always exist a small percentage of men who will dodge the boss, but it has been my experience that in workshop, field and factory, at least 97 per cent, of the workers of Australia are prepared at all times to do a fair day’s work. The bill contains a provision which reads -
Any waterside worker whose licence is cancelled under this section may within fourteen days of the cancellation appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction against the cancellation of the licence.
That means a court presided over by justices of the peace. If a motorist runs over an individual or is caught for exceeding the speed limit his case is heard by a stipendiary magistrate. Why, then, is the same privilege not extended to a waterside worker when his licence is cancelled? There is every chance that the justice of the peace before whom the case will be heard will be biased by reason of a fancied injury that he has sustained’ at the hands of a waterside worker.
– A justice of the peace is supposed to be guided by a sense of equity and good conscience.
– That is an excellent ideal, but is not always realized. These men should be privileged to appear before a stipendiary magistrate.
SenatorCrawford. - A stipendiary magistrate would not be available at some of the remote ports.
– The difficulty could be overcome by the Government making a provision in the bill that if a stipendiary magistrate is in the district he shall decide the case. The bill is essentially a bad one, which does a moral wrong to the waterside workers. Why is this system of licensing to play an important part only in places like Melbourne and Port Adelaide? If it is good for those centres it is surely good for all parts of the Commonwealth. I maintain, however, that it is utterly wrong. Certainly, in these enlightened days of democracy, one expected something better from the Government than repressive legislation such as this.
Much has been said about jurisprudence. No doubt it is generally conceded that we owe our system of jurisprudence to Some, our art and culture to the ancient Greeks, and our religion and morals to the Jews. But this antediluvian legislation suggests that the Government has not profited much from the lessons of the past. Only a despotic power would endeavour to make a moral wrong into a legal right, and I am of the opinion that the Government should accept the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition and cast this proposed legislation aside temporarily, if not for all time. There would then be no trouble on the waterfront. As it is, the men at Port Adelaide are not receiving proper treatment, and it will be found that, when the volunteers have served the purpose of the boss, they will be discarded and treated just as drastically as he is now treating the waterside worker.
– They will be dealt with more drastically, because licensing will then be universal. It is likely that the employers will even, take the thumb prints of workers!
– Trouble is already looming on the horizon of the volunteer workers, who are beginning to get somewhat shifty because of the big wages that they are drawing. Prior to the recent industrial trouble 1,800 waterside workers were satisfactorily performing their tasks at Port Adelaide. They have been superseded by 600 volunteers, who have been granted licences. Those volunteers are constantly employed, because immediately one boat is finished they are permitted to go to another. The rules of the waterside workers stipulated that if a man finished one boat he could not go to another that day. The volunteer labourers are overburdened with work, and the majority of them are making from £12 to £14 a week, simply because there are insufficient of them to do the work.
– That is the consequence of the tyranny previously exercised by the waterside workers.
– It is the result of the tyranny of this Government.
– Those volunteers are privileged to go about armed with firearms, huge knives and razors. Recently one of them shot a policeman, who was not in any way interfering with them.
– Have they been allowed to carry firearms as a protection against the use of bombs?
– There have been no bomb outrages in Adelaide. [Extension of time granted.] I thank honorable senators for their courtesy in granting me an extension of time. It is wrong to allow volunteers to go about armed, to the danger of the community generally.
– The main thing is that they are allowed to work.
– They should not be permitted to carry firearms and to shoot innocent persons, as was done when they shot a constable who was performing his duty.
– “Was that proved?
– Absolutely. If the honorable senator were a greater student of the events of the day he would have read the reports of this case in the press.
– The honorable senator contends that the volunteers are specially privileged. How does he reconcile his statement with the contention of Senator Barnes, that the employers are getting rid of those men?
– Senator Barnes merely indicated that the turn of the volunteers will come; that they will be cast aside when the boss can no longer use them to gain his ends.
– Senator Barnes said that they were bad workmen.
– I have proved that to be a fact. But whether good or bad workmen they should not be privileged to carry firearms and to shoot innocent persons. The volunteers appear to think that they are superior beings; above the law.- ,
– There is such a thing as self-defence.
– Yes, but there should not be one law for the volunteer and another for the waterside worker. If volunteers are allowed to carry firearms, then waterside workers should also enjoy a similar privilege. However, I do not advocate that sort of thing in Australia, as it would not be conducive to the peace and progress of the community. The volunteers are well protected by the law, and should be disarmed.
– Why does not the honorable senator discipline the timber employees, who go about with lethal weapons, such as bars of iron?
– We have done so in South Australia and Western Australia, and the men have gone back to work.
– For 48 hours a week ?
– Yes. The people of South Australia are asking the Government to disarm these men. When that step is taken there will be more law and order in the State.
– Half-a-dozen unionists will then be able to catch the non-unionist in a lane and “stoush” him.
– When these men are in back lanes they arc well protected by the police. If the police cannot afford them sufficient protection no doubt the military will be called out, and if the military are not sufficient the navy will be called out, and if the naval forces are not sufficient bombing aeroplanes will be used.
The Government has been returned with a majority, but it is not nearly so strong as it was before the elections. If it has one or two more victories of the same sort, it will not be long before there is another party in control of another place, and when that time comes the Transport Workers Act and similar legislation introduced by the present Government will be repealed. On Friday I spoke of the extremists of Australia. If those men had not been antagonistic to the Labour movement, and if they had not brought about the British seamen’s strike, which organized Labour in. Australia could not prevent, we should not now be sitting in opposition, fighting thisbill; we should not have had to fight against the recent amendments to the Arbitration Act or the Crimes Act. A Labour government would have been in power.
– The honorable senator is a bit of an optimist.
– I am no more an optimist than Lord Forster was when, at a farewell dinner given to him in Melbourne, he used words to this effect, “I have listened with some attention to Mr. Charlton, now the Leader of the Opposition, but the future Prime Minister of Australia.” He could see how the pendulum was swinging at that time.
– I think Lord Forster said that Mr. Charlton was possibly the future Prime Minister.
– The inference was there all the same. He saw that there was a swing towards Labour, and but for the actions of the extremists Labour would have been in power before this. I am hoping that the “ red-raggers “ will read what I have to say about them, because they have been responsible for the presence on our statute-book of all this legislation which we are now fighting. Had it not been for the industrial upheavals they have created from time to time, particularly the British seamen’s strike, a Commonwealth Labour government would have been in power, and there would have been no need for licensing workers on thewaterfront.
SenatorKINGSMILL (Western Australia) [3.50].- The debate on this bill has been characterized by an interchange of amenities from either side, which, I think, creates a record for the Senate for the time I have been in it. It has been characterized also by a number of definite statements on both sides, some right and some quite wrong. We are on common ground in regard to one statement that has been, made - that this bill is unnecessary. I am inclined to agree that it is, because there is already on the statute-book a Transport Workers Act which this bill amends. The introduction of this measure is simply the fulfilment of the Government’s promise that such a bill would be brought before the new Parliament for consideration, and that certain provisions which hitherto had appeared only in regulations should be embodied in it. If the Government had chosen to retain its power to issue regulations under the existing act, it could have gone far beyond the limits it has imposed on itself in the bill now under consideration. In the circumstances, therefore, although the measure we are debating may not be altogether unnecessary, it is perhaps superfluous. It is, however, here for consideration, the promise of the Government has been redeemed, and this new Parliament, as well as the old, has full opportunity to consider its provisions. One very important factor that should be borne in mind, is that the electors of Australia have had an opportunity to pass an opinion on the necessity or otherwise for a Transport Workers Act. I can assure honorable senators that in Western Australia the measure formed a prominent feature during the elections. Its pros and cons were discussed, and candidates on every platform on both sides were asked questions relating to it. No other subject received greater prominence. Honorable senators who support the Government have every reason to be satisfied with the. verdict the people have given on this and other matters brought forward by the Government.
Those who are opposing the bill are doing so, I think, from lack of sense of proportion. When any subject is set down for argument it is easy for those who choose to set aside for the time being, and for the sake of argument, some of the main facts of the case, to take up an attitude which is very attractive to those who are not acquainted with the circumstances, or who have given no consideration to them. Honorable senator after honorable senator opposite has said that Labour in this Parliament represents the bulk of the electors of Australia. One honorable senator went so far as to say that it represents 95 per cent, of the electors. ‘ Then why is Labour in opposition? Is it generosity, diffidence, or lack of desire to occupy the treasury bench that keeps honorable senators where they are? So far as I can gather from history that altruistic attitude has not been characteristic of them. If they represent 95 per cent, of the electors, why do they not rise in their might and cast forth the Government from the position it occupies and has occupied for six years? They show too much tolerance, too much modesty. Their diffidence is so overcoming, that I cannot believe it. My opinion, which I have been many years in forming and which I claim is justified by facts, is that this lack of a sense of proportion, and this overestimation of their numbers and importance have been characteristic of the Labour party ever since it has been in existence. According to the latest figures given in the Year-Book, in 1927 the membership of Labour organizations was 911,000 and the number of electors in Australia was about three and a third millions. Those figures do not bear out the claim of honorable senators that they represent 95 per cent. of the electors. Furthermore, I object to their division of the electors into two classes - . employers and employees. Between those two classes there lies the most important section of people this or any other country could have - those individuals who are actuated by a desire to work for themselves and not for wages. Let me ask if honorable senators opposite can cite any country that has ever been made by wages men, or any country that has ever reached prominence in which individual effort and the desire to work for themselves as well as for the good of the country has not played a leading part. Therefore I say that in regard to both numbers and importance to the community - and the good of the community should be our guide in these matters - the contentions put forward by honorable senators opposite are trifling and valueless. I should hate to accuse Senator Hoare of exaggeration, but I cannot visualize the aweinspiring picture he has drawn of those loyalist workers of Port Adelaide walking about rather like perambulating ironmongery stores festooned and rattling with razors, revolvers and huge knives. The only thing that would save the inoffensive, unfortunate, unprotected worker would be the noise that would be made by one of these armed men approaching him. It would enable him to flee from danger. Let us contrast the happy hunting ground of the loyalist in South Australia with what has happened in Victoria where I understand 1,000 or 2,000 workers bravely and boldly attacked23 policemen - not, it is true, with huge knives or razors, which I suppose are for the coup de grace when you get a man down-
– The honorable senator knows something about the razor gang of Sydney.
– The favorite weapons are blue metal and bottles.
– And boots - well armoured boots.
– I understand that when the leather is cut away from the metal in toe-capped boots the effect of a kick is like that of a blow from a cold chisel.
– Who is exaggerating now ?
– I have seen many inoffensive persons injured in that way.
– A number of free labourers were thrown from a railway platform on to the rails in front of a moving train in Melbourne.
– There again we have unsolicited testimonials given, so freely that I pause while they are given, because they are all in favour of my case. But I was about to say that the position that existed before the Transport Workers Act came into force was intolerable. The waterside workers were principally to blame for it. They had come to look upon the wharfs on which they work as their own property. Their unions were guilds, entrance to which could not be obtained for a shilling. They demanded £10 in some cases and their membership was limited. They have attempted to hold up the commerce of Australia and to wreck the prosperity of their fellow citizens who are endeavouring to make a living for themselves and to develop the country. It is time that they were stopped. Honorable senators opposite say that the institution of the licensing system will not bring peace in industry. I remind them that since the regulations under the Transport Workers Act were put into operation there has been greater peace in industry than existed previously. That act has already accomplished a great deal, and I believe it will do a great deal more in the future to ensure industrial peace. I, therefore, intend to vote for the bill.
– We expected that.
– I am glad that the honorable senator expected me to support this measure, the object of which is to establish better conditions in industry. Occasionally my views and those of the honorable senator coincide; but there are limits beyond which I cannot go. I am glad that he did not expect me to support him in the attitude he has adopted towards this measure. The Transport Workers Act of last session played an important part in the recent election campaign, for it showed the electors the difference between the two main parties seeking their suffrages. It separated the party which aims at legislating in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia from the party opposite which, confessedly, stands only for protecting the alleged rights, and for adding to the imaginary rights of only one class in the community. For the reasons I have given I shall vote for the second reading of the bill.
– The licensing system which has been forced on the workers of this country is not in their best interests. Honorable senators opposite have contended that because cabmen, motor drivers and others in the community are licensed, there is nothing wrong with the licensing system instituted under the Transport Workers Act. It is true that cabmen and drivers of other vehicles have to be licensed; but such licences are precautionary measures taken in the interests of the safety of the travelling public. Moreover, were it not for the licence-fees paid in connexion with motor-driven vehicles, there would be insufficient revenue to maintain our roads in a proper state of repair. There is this further difference between the two classes of licence ; whereas in the case of licences of motor vehicles the employer is the person licensed, under the Transport Workers Act the employee has to take out a licence. Honorable senators who support legislation of this nature show their desire to get back to the time when men had, as it were, to crawl on their stomachs like snakes, and approach their masters with a request that they be allowed to work. In these days we should be past such things; such methods will not inaugurate an era of peace.
– The Transport Workers Act has brought peace on the waterfront.
– It has not. I remind honorable senators who support this coercive legislation that it will have a boomerang effect. Among them are some who in times past did yeoman service as members of trade unions. There was a time when Senator Lynch, who has so stoutly championed this legislation, would have resisted the pernicious system of licensing which it has instituted.
– A man without a union ticket cannot obtain a job to-day.
– That is not so, for a man may work for a fortnight without applying for a union ticket. A man who is not prepared to stand by his mates who have battled to improve the conditions of the workers should not be allowed to work. This legislation takes us back 50 years. I ask those honorable senators who support it what they would do if tomorrow they were forced to seek employment on the waterfront. Would they join the volunteer workers? They know that they would not do so. When Senator Ogden, who was associated with the labour movement for many years, supports a measure of this kind and condemns the methods of the workers, he speaks with his tongue in his cheek. During the last five years the Government has brought to Australia large numbers of migrants, not with a view to settling this country, but in order to increase unemployment. They have come here in thousands, with the result that large numbers of Australians have been thrown out of employment. Foreign migrants, through force of circumstances, are prepared to accept conditions lower than the standards we have set up for ourselves. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) was at one time a stalwart unionist, who did a great deal to improve the conditions of the workers, butnowhe, like Senator . Kingsmill, would force them back to the days before trade unionism and revive the system of individual bargaining. A good deal has been said about volunteer labour. I remind honorable senators who decry labour organizations and favour volunteer labour, that in our banking institutions there is no volunteer labour. Every man employed in them is a member of an organization. There are no “ scabs “ among them. The workers who have only their labour to sell should be protected by the Government instead of being penalized as they are at present by the iniquitous laws which this Government has foisted upon thom. The unemployment problem with which we are confronted to-day is due to the migration policy of this Government, which is resulting in stagnation of trade, unemployment and starvation. The unfortunate bombing outrages which occurred in Melbourne during a recent industrial upheaval were condemned at the outset by Labour leaders, who knew that unionists were innocent and that those outrages were the work of some irresponsible persons. Honorable senators may be surprised to hear that the Prime Minister, when speaking on the industrial situation at a meeting in one of the suburbs of Adelaide, said that if he were one of those who had been thrown out of employment he would deal with those who had led them into trouble with a bottle. A statement, to that effect appeared in the South Australian Register, which as honorable senators know is an anti-Labour paper. 7’ am one of those referred to by Senator Kingsmill as having met with defeat at the last general election, and in going out to earn my living in another sphere, perhaps on the waterfront, I shall be compelled to approach a licensing officer and say, “Please, sir, here is a shilling ; I want a licence.” Th; licensing system is objectionable to every unionist, but it would be interesting to know why those who desire a licence have to pay for it. Why should men have to pay for the right to work? In what way is the Government using the money it derives from this source? Is it to be used to reduce the deficit? I do not know what Senator R. H. S. Abbott thinks of the licensing system.
– I would sooner carry a licence than ask for a union ticket.
– Then the honorable senator falls 100 per cent, in my estimation. He is apparently the only sup porter of the Government who does not believe in unionism. They all profess to believe in the principle and some are still members of trade unions. By introducing legislation of this character the Government is only widening the breach which exists between the employer and the employee. Mr. Holloway, one of the most modest and reasonable men associated with the trade union movement in Victoria, was recently fined for doing something in the nature of inciting a strike and the union has also been penalized. I believe that the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) is largely responsible for the drastic provisions which have been embodied in certain legislation recently passed by Parliament, and I suppose before very long that gentleman will appoint himself to a position on the High Court bench.
– Surely the honorable senator knows that the AttorneyGeneral in filling his present position is making a big sacrifice.
– I do not think that that gentleman is sufficiently philanthropic to sacrifice even “ two bob “ in the interests of his country. A farmer in Western Australia told me quite recently that he offered employment to three Italians, who were without food and who were wanting work, in clearing five and a half acres of land under contract. During the time they were engaged on the work he fed them and the remuneration they received at the termination of their contract was about 4s. lOd. each. If Australian workmen have to contend with competition of that kind it will not be long before they will all be faced with starvation. It is impossible for Australians to live under conditions which are acceptable to some foreigners. The men who should be encouraged to migrate to Australia should be virile, self-sacrificing, and hard working, who will make good citizens, help to improve the standard of living, and, should the occasion arise, be prepared to defend this country against invasion. The Government is solely responsible for the chaotic industrial conditions which prevail in every State, and peace in industry will never be brought about while legislation of th:: character is on the statute-book.
– I should like to remind honorable senators opposite that I supported the act which this bill is to amend before I had the honour of occupyi rig a seat on the Treasury bench. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) has moved an amendment to provide that the consideration of the bill be postponed until such time as a committee of the Peace in Industry Conference has made representations to the Government with respect to the penal provisions of certain Commonwealth legislation. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition is thoroughly acquainted with the details of the resolution carried at the Peace in Industry Conference. The resolution submitted by the committee is not of great importance. It reads: -
The committee is in agreement regarding the principle that the penal provisions of the industrial legislation of the Commonwealth are not generally conducive to industrial peace.
That was the main resolution submitted to the conference by the sub-committee. The committee further reported that -
The time at the disposal of the committee did not permit of a detailed analysis of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, the Crimes Act, and the Transport Workers Act; but the committee should be authorized to continue its labours and submit its recommendations as to the nature of desirable legislation, for immediate approval, with the object of making joint representation to the Federal Government.
It is extremely interesting to study the Opinion of the leader of the industrial section of the Labour party at that conference. He is not strongly in favour of the abolition of the penal clause of the Transport Workers Act and the Crimes Act, and we can also presume that he would include the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. Mr. Crofts, the Secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, stated at the conference that those whom he represented were not in favour of the complete elimination of the sections under which penalties are provided. Honorable senators opposite realize that if there were no penalty provisions, the acts in which they are embodied would be valueless.
– That is why the word “generally” was included in the resolution.
– Mr. Crofts does not want the penal clauses eliminated. He went on to point out that the unions contemplated the prosecution of certain employers. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition reveals that he places the industrial movement before the welfare of the State, and that, in his opinion, unionists are the only members of the community worthy of consideration. During a dispute on the waterfront, a senator representing Tasmania, submitted a motion asking the Senate to affirm the desirability of continuous communications between Tasmania and the mainland, but the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues opposed the motion, thereby indicating that the rights of unionists were of greater importance than the welfare of the State. That ia on record in Hansard’. Senator Findley made a sentimental appeal to the Senate and said that although a unionist might hold very strong views upon certain questions he must subordinate them to the decisions of the majority. The greatest treasure a man possesses is his liberty and freedom of speech. Do honorable senators opposite believe that unionists must subordinate their convictions and opinions to the terms of resolutions submitted at union meetings? That is not my idea of unionism.
– What is done at Cabinet meetings?
– The honorable senator knows from experience what is done at such meetings. What is the difference between a unionist and a nonunionist? I assume that honorable senators opposite are, most of them, members of a trade union organization. I am myself. I have been made a life member because of the work which I have done for the Labour movement. Actually there is very little, if any, difference between honorable senators opposite and members on this side of the chamber. We are all human beings, actuated I hope, by a desire to do our best for the Commonwealth. It follows, therefore, that a man is not the better citizen simply because he happens to be a member of a trade union. Senator Daly, who may be regarded as the legal member of the Opposition, had in front of him when he rose to speak, a formidable array of legalworks. I was under the impression that he was about to train all his big guns on the Government and the bill; but actually he fired a few squibs which were completely harmless. He had something to say about an industrial dictatorship, which he declared would be established under this measure, and he directed attention to those clauses in the bill which give the Minister power to extend the licensing provisions of the act to a group of ports. How can the honorable senator argue that there will be an industrial dictatorship in view of the fact that the Minister will be responsible to Parliament, and Parliament to the people? Surely there can be no more democratic form of control.
– A great deal of harm may be done by the administration before the people have an opportunity to deal with the Government.
– But the people have their remedy, and I need hardly remind the honorable senator that quite recently they emphatically endorsed the industrial policy of this Government. Senator Daly also argued that in the event of an appeal against the cancellation of a transport worker’s licence, the onus of proof would be on the appellant. Actually, the onus will be on the licensing officer, who will be called upon to show cause why a licence has been cancelled.
– Suppose an appellant succeeds, what will the advantage be to him, seeing that another licensed man will have taken his job?
– It is all casual work paid for by the hour, so one licensed worker cannot take another man’s job.
– Honorable senators opposite also referred to the effect of arbitration awards and the attitude of trade union organizations generally. Let us consider the position. All those who have any knowledge of the trade union movement will know that prior to the introduction of the arbitration system, it was extremely difficult to organize trade unions. Immediately following the establishment of the Arbitration Court, the work of the organizers became exceedingly light, because the arbitration system gave added strength to trade unionism.
– It has quadrupled the membership of trade organizations.
– That is so. It has given them the power which they now possess.
– Which this legislation seeks to destroy.
– Surely the honorable senator cannot be serious. It is admitted that the Arbitration Act strengthened the trade union movement. If the Government wished to destroy trade unionism, would not its first act be to introduce a bill to abolish the Arbitration Court? The Government has been in power for six years with a substantial majority in both Houses and it has never attempted to do anything to interfere with the smooth working of the Arbitration Act. It cannot be denied that the party which stands more loyally by the arbitration system is the party sitting on this side of the chamber. This Government has been the salvation of the arbitration system.
– That is why the employers’ federations and ship-owners are trying their “ damndest “ to destroy the system.’
SenatorOGDEN. - If any attempts are being made to destroy arbitration, responsibility for that action rests not upon the Government or its supporters, but upon honorable senators opposite, and the trade unionists themselves.
– What about the attitude of the Employers’ Federation?
– The honorable senator knows very well that the Employers’ Federation does not wish to see the arbitration system discarded. The record of this Government is a complete answer to all those ridiculous statements that have been made from time to time that the Ministry is desirous of repealing the Arbitration Act. One honorable senator opposite stated that under this bill the worker would have to apply to a licensing officer for the right to work on the waterfront. On that point I direct attention to the attitude of the waterside workers themselves, and at the same time, would remind honorable senators that all the privileges which members of that organization enjoy, have been won for them under the arbitration system. They now have high wages and good working conditions. They had preference of employment on the wharfs which belong to the people of Australia. Actually, they had the right to say to men, “ You shall,” or “ You shall not work here.” They have extraordinary power.
– Which they use to the fullest extent.
– That is true. It cannot be argued that the Waterside Workers’Federation has used its powers wisely. On the contrary, it has abused its power. Let me give one illustration. Membership of the organization costs not1s., the amount charged for a licence under this bill, but some pounds. At times, the federation closes its books, so that new members may not be enrolled. During the busy fruit season in Tasmania, a number of overseas vessels call at Hobart to ship the exportable surplus to Great Britain. Work is plentiful at the time, but local workers, who were not permitted to join the union and would not be called human beings by some people, if one may judge by the speeches made by certain senators opposite, but who have wives and families to maintain, are not even allowed to work. The federation imported fellowunionists from Melbourne and Sydney and permitted them to register as members of the Hobart branch which accepted their transfers from Melbourne or Sydney.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority that the union imported members from Sydney and Melbourne ?
– I know that they were admitted to the Hobart branch on transfer from Melbourne or Sydney. The local workers very occasionally get a small share of the work. These men are called “dicky birds” because, so I presume, they cannot get into the union. At odd times they get an hour or two of casual work, when unionists who may have been working for ten or twelve hours and have earned a week’s wages in that time, are unable to cope with the work ; but as soon as the unionist has finished his job these men are peremptorily told that they must quit. In 1928, the waterside workers went on strike to force their application before the court. They held up the trade and commerce of Australia and got back just in time to save their industrial skins, after pressure had been brought to bear upon them by other trade unions. As a result of that disturbance they got certain concessions, which were included in the Beeby award. Still they were not satisfied, and again declared war on the community by refusing to work under the two pick-ups. Can any honorable senator seriously argue that by exercising their power in this way, the waterside workers are dealing justly by the people of Australia, and by the 700,000 odd unionists who are working amicably under Arbitration Court awards? The waterside workers, the seamen and those engaged in the transport industries, hold the key to the situation. When they declare war, there is war. When they say that there shall be a cessation of trade, there is no trade. They persisted in exercising that extraordinary power in a manner which was detrimental to the best interests of the country. It was fortunate for Australia that honorable senators opposite were not in power, and that the community had this Government to rely upon to come to the rescue. I tremble to think what would have happened had Labour been in power. It recognizes the rights of no man who has not impressed upon him the hall mark of trade unionism. The Labour party is building up a psychology which will be a danger to future generations. It is silent when it should speak, and shouts when it should remain silent. It acquiesces when the laws of the country are broken by its supporters, and refuses to direct trade unionists along right and proper lines. Labour to-day does not lead; it follows. Senator Hoare and Mr. Makin vainly imagined that they were leading the workers along the streets of Adelaide. Actually the workers were driving them. When Mr. Jacob Johnson demands that something shall be done, the Labour party cringes and does it. When Mr. Jock Garden issues an instruction there is no one in the party to say him nay.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for those statements?
– It is unnecessary to detail specific cases. I have never known a Labour supporter to publicly express disapproval of the action of those men. In private they admit that such things are wrong, but they are afraid to adhere to their opinions in public. It was because of that condition of affairs, and that I dared to speak out, that I was driven from the ranks of Labour.
– The honorable senator drove himself from the ranks of Labour by refusing to be a party man in this Senate. The honorable senator crawled into office by joining the party opposite. Let him tell the truth.
– Order ! I ask Senator Needham to withdraw that accusation.
– If I used any expression which violates Parliamentary Standing Orders I am prepared to withdraw it.
– The honorable senator accused Senator Ogden of telling an untruth.
– With all due deference to you, sir, I merely requested the honorable senator to tell the truth.
- Senator Needham, on his own confession, accused Senator Ogden of telling a falsehood, and I asked him to withdraw the expression, which is unparliamentary.
– If I have used an unparliamentary expression I withdraw it; at the same time I reserve my own opinion.
– I regard this, not as a coercive measure, but as a charter of liberty which establishes the right of every individual in the country to work. It lays down the inalienable right of every man to earn a living for his wife and children; a sacred right, which is possessed alike by unionist and nonunionist. I welcome the introduction of this bill, which has already borne fruit. Senator Hoare quoted figures as to the amount of work performed by volunteers. A better comparison would have been to give the amount of work performed by waterside workers before and after the operation of these regulations. The Tasmanian workers were wise enough to return to work before the regulations became operative, and they are now work ing peaceably and better than ever. Local men who have not been allowed to join unions are no longer ostracised, but arc permitted to work during the present fruit season. The operation of the regulations has also decreased pilfering. I do not know why there is so much protest against the measure, as licensing exists in Great Britain.
– But not a similar system, although its parallel might be found in Russia or India.
– The conditions of licensing are similar in Great Britain, the only difference being that unionists in that country have more sense than those in Australia, and welcomed the system. I hope that before it has been long in operation in Australia trade unionists will appreciate its advantages, and realize that it enables them to get rid of the undesirable element now associated with the Waterside Workers Union. I know that trade union leaders are anxious to rid the movement of that element, and I believe that before long the bill will be welcomed by them, and that every person who receives a licence will automatically become a unionist.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the extension of the principle to other branches of unionism?
– The need does not exist. If, for instance, the coal industry got into a position similar to that which existed on the waterfront, when the activities of the Commonwealth could not carry on owing to a lack of coal, as the result of the activities, either of the employers or employees, similar drastic action would be justified. However, I shall not deal further with that aspect of the matter. As ‘a member of the Government I support the bill, just as I supported the principal act before I had any intention of joining it, as I believe it to be in the best interests of the workers, and necessary for the welfare of Australia.
.- I cannot allow the bill to go through without saying a few words upon it, because I can approach the subject from an angle somewhat different from that of most other honorable senators, the angle of the employer. I have been connected with employers associations for some years, and before the system of arbitration was established in Queensland I had, on several occasions, the privilege of acting upon Wages Boards as a representative of the employers. I was not here last year when the parent measure went through, but I gather that it gave the powers which are now being amplified by this bill. I can say with certainty that the result of the regulations has been particularly satisfactory in Queensland. There industry was very much hampered from time to time by the action of” the waterside workers, but no disturbance has occurred on the waterfront since the regulations have been in force. The following extract from a New South Wales publication, Australian Goal, Stepping, Steel and the Harbor, is interesting: -
Interstate vessels have got away at their scheduled sailing dates to the great joy of the passengers.. Firemen have abstained from deserting at the last moment, thereby necessitating a long delay while they were being sought for in far-distant places of refreshment. Country storekeepers have received their supplies with unaccustomed regularity. Even the seamen have not’ passed adverse judgment upon the sea cooks on board their respective vessels, nor have they chased the chefs from their galleys with curses and threats as formerly.
It indicates that the measure has also had far-reaching and beneficial effects in New South Wales. Apparently, the principle of licensing meets with great objection from honorable senators opposite. I remind them that no objection was taken to the licensing of carters under the old Customs laws, nor to the licensing of baggage porters. . Why, then, should waterside workers object to being licensed in order that they may ply their trade? .
I wish to sound a note of warning in regard to free labour. Volunteers should be afforded the greatest possible protection, since, it is only by their assistance that the business of the country can be carried on when unionists decline to work. Free labourers volunteer their services, and they should receive every protection, particularly from State Governments against brutal assailants, who should be severely punished.
While I believe that arbitration ha.3 not come- up to expectations in Australia, I contend that the employers have faith- fully obeyed the awards of the courts. The observance of those awards has been one-sided, as they are obeyed by the workers only when it suits them. I think we can safely say that this is truly a union-ridden country. The union officials are very domineering and, when they become organizers, seem to think that a halo surrounds their heads and that they are above the law. They would not get any backing were it not for the support they receive from young irresponsibles in the unions. I can quote a Queensland experience in proof of that assertion. When the Mount Morgan Company f6und that the ore was becoming poorer, while expenses were increasing, Judge McCawley, Queensland;s first arbitration judge, a man with distinctly Labour tendencies, who had been appointed by a Labour Government, made an award for the employees of the mine which the company considered reasonable and which was in accordance with the capacity of the industry to pay. But the workers would not accept it. They wanted 20 per cent, more than the judge awarded them Their organizer at the time, who was a man who looked particularly well cared for and weighed about 15 or 16 stone, urged them not to accept the award. He told them that the eyes of Australia were on them.
– And he probably advised them to stand firm.
– At any rate they decided to stand firm. A ballot was taken and it was against accepting the award, although I had it on pretty good authority that the bulk of the employees of the company were in favour of accepting it. One day I said to a leading worker “You married men who believe that the award is a fair one and want, to get. back to the work which is offering ought to assert yourselves. Why do you not do so”? He said “I will tell you privately what happened at. a recent meeting. Two or three o£ us suggested that the award should be observed, and we were so maltreated that, two of us had to be taken to the hospital. “ I asked him who had interfered with them, and he told me it was the young irresponsibles who are the support of the organizers. Although work was available for the Mount Morgan men at the rates given in the award made by Judge McCawley, they remained out on strike for eleven months and during that time were in receipt of Government doles. Of course, a Labour Government was in power at the time. And here is where I wish to nail down a lie frequently uttered by Labour members. It is claimed that the Queensland Government came to the rescue of the Mount Morgan Company by contributing £1,000 per week to enable it to pay the workers the wages demanded by them. What happened was that the Queensland Government arranged with the company that £1,000 a week should be paid out of the railway earnings to make up the difference between Judge McCawley’s award and the amount which the men were asking. It did not quite come up to the 20 per cent, asked for by the men; in reality it did not amount to more than 15 per cent, above the award rates. But the fact remains that the Queensland Government encouraged the men at Mount Morgan to disobey an award of an arbitration court, and gave them. doles for eleven months, and at the end of that period 15 per cent, over the judge’s award by means of a contribution of £1.000 a week to the Mount Morgan Company. Later on there was another strike and the mine was fired. I suppose there were 1,000 men on the mine that night, but they, would not at first allow the boiler fires to be kept going to enable water to be pumped into the shafts. Eventually, better counsels prevailed among them and the mine was flooded and the fire was put out. But for four years the company had been struggling against adverse circumstances and union methods, and in face of a decrease in the value of the ore it was obliged to go into liquidation, as a result of which 1,700 or 1,800 men lost their employment. This was largely due to the attitude of the unions.
– Is the mine still idle?
– I regret to say that it is. Although it has been proved that there is still £16,000,000 worth of gold and copper ore in the mine, it is estimated that it would probably cost £17,000,000 to get it out. The present cost of production is too high to enable the mine to be re-opened. A great avenue of employment has thus been lost.
Although arbitration has not come up to expectations, I am not advocating its abolition, but if the unions continue to flout awards it will become a question of whether the arbitration system should not be abrogated altogether. If the system is abandoned we shall not have far to go to find countries where very satisfactory results are obtained in labour circles without resort to compulsory arbitration. When I was in Canada and the United States of America I paid very close attention to the labour problems in those countries. Neither country has a system of arbitration, yet I found unionists and non-unionists working contentedly side by side. Differences are settled by conferences and conciliation, and when the parties come to a dead-end an umpire is called in.
– The honorable senator is aware of the price that America has paid to secure that result ?
– An American told me that Australia is now going through the process that America has already gone through. My reply was, “I hope that you are right, because as things are in Australia to-day, I do not like its future prospects. “ There are few labour troubles in America. When I was speaking the other day, Senator Needham interjected that there were lots of strikes in America, but during the three weeks I spent in California and the six weeks I was in Canada there was not the slightest sign of a strike.
– Every working man in America owns a motor car.
– Wages are higher in America than they are in Australia, but the employers get good value for the money they pay.
– Wages in America are higher per day but not per annum than they are in Australia.
– What does it matter? If American workmen get higher wages per day they must certainly get more in the year than the Australian workmen get. The wages we pay in Australia create a fictitious standard of living. Reasonable hours with reasonable rates of pay would give a better standard of living than is possible with a few men earning high wages and a great number earning nothing.
– Wages in Australia have a higher purchasing power than those paid in America.
– The honorable senator means that the cost of living is higher in the United States of America than it is in Australia, but I am not sure on the point. It is certainly not higher in California. In my opinion the coal business in Australia has been handled very badly throughout. After the 3s. a ton given to the employers by Mr. Hughes had been paid for some time it was found in Queensland that it was more than was necessary, and refunds had to be made by the coalowners. Ever since then, although the price of coal has been reduced, wages have not come down. In Central Queensland we have managed to introduce cooperation in coal-mining with very good results. On a mine which was working on the day-labour principle with a hewing rate, the men were unquestionably practising the darg. Every fortnight the company found that it was losing money and it ultimately intimated that it would have to close down. ‘ But a party of very good miners offered to work it on tribute, and their offer was accepted, with the result that the company began to make money straight away, and when orders were coming in freely, the miners were earning on an average at the rate of £1,200 a year. They did not make it all the year round, but they did so when orders were coming in freely. I think that eventually co-operation will be found to be the solution of our troubles in coalmining.
– Licensing will not cure them.
– Every miner in Queensland must have a miner’s right which is the equivalent of a licence and the men do not seem to mind it.
– But would the honorable senator license the coal-miner?
– Certainly, and he would not object to being licensed. This measure is calculated to establish peace in industry, especially among the waterside workers. Indeed, it has already had that effect. I, therefore, give it my unqualified support.
– This bill is more the complement of the Transport Workers Act of last year than an amendment of it. The regulations under that act which practically settled the trouble on the waterfront and kept the wheels of industry running, are now being incorporated in a statute in order that no future government may alter them by proclamation. So long as they remained regulations only they could be altered in Executive Council, but as an act of this Parliament legislative action will be necessary before they can be altered. I listened with a great deal of interest to the fervid oration of Senator Barnes, whose life has been spent in fighting for the interests of workers who, not having so much technical skill as craftsmen, are possibly at a disadvantage in the matter of remuneration for their services. Listening to the honorable senator, I was reminded of -
How well Horatius kept the bridge
In the brave days of old,
. even the ranks of Tuscany
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
Other honorable senators must have been similarly impressed. Senator Barnes appeared to be afraid that this legislation would destroy unionism. His remarks showed that he had little sympathy for the waterside workers or others who defy the Arbitration Court and flout the law of the land. Industrial conditions in Australia at the present time recall to my mind the account of the great feast of Belshazzar, when, as he and his courtiers were assembled, there appeared a hand which wrote on the wall “ Mene mene tekel upharsin.” For the benefit of the honorable senator I shall endeavour to give a free translation of those words to suit the spirit of the times and the possibilities of the future. If the unions continue to flout the Arbitration Court, disregard the law of the land, and adopt an attitude generally detrimental to the welfare of other workers, a modern translation of those words will be as follows - “Mene mene” - the domination of the unions shall pass away; “tekel upharsin “ - the law shall be obeyed, the liberty of the workers shall be restored, sympathetic strikes and holds-up inimical to the public weal must cease. ‘ Large numbers of unionists adopt the line of least resistance; they take out their tickets, and they work under the rules of the union, because they cannot obtain work otherwise. If we restore to the worker his freedom, we shall get back to the position from which we ought never to have departed. In those days the workers enjoyed greater prosperity than they do to-day. Almost everything that the primary producer requires has increased in price during recent years. For that state of affairs, some blame the tariff, others the trade unions. Something is wrong when the return which the primary producer receives for his produce is less than the cost of production. The cost of labour to-day is so great that it is almost impossible for his products to compete in the world’s market. The trouble to-day is that men are asking for their labour more than their services are worth. Recently, a friend of mine was asked to pay £79 for the labour involved in erecting lj miles of ordinary fencing - five wires and a barb. That represented about £45 a mile. While labour costs are so excessive primary producers cannot make a success of their holdings. On many orchards in Victoria to-day, the fruit is rotting on the trees because it does not pay to engage labour to pick it. The cost of processing fruit is also very high, not only in respect of overhead expenses, but also in other directions. If we are to find an overseas market for our fruit, these costs must be reduced. I was in London during the great strike of 1926, when no newspaper was published for some days, and even the House of Commons was unable to print its notice-paper. For three days the British Government could not issue a printed proclamation; every proclamation had to be written. But the Government did not stand idly by and allow the unions to take charge of affairs. It took steps to see that the ships were unloaded so that the people of England did not starve; 60,000 special constables and 300,000 volunteer workers were engaged to do essential work. In preventing the newspapers from being published the unions did themselves a great injury. In the emergency, the Government utilized the wireless broadcasting stations to dis seminate news. Four or five times a day it broadcast through 2LO information which it desired to place before the people of Great Britain and Ireland. Rumours that the Welsh Fusiliers had been ordered into barracks were contradicted by that means. Magistrates sat in the courts for 24 hours at a time to deal with persons found guilty of outrages in the streets. The result of these activities was that within 24 hours the conditions in London became almost normal. At first there was a complete dislocation of transport services, but on the fourth day a skeleton ‘bus service was inaugurated. With my two sons I travelled through the streets of London on one of the first ‘buses which ran under the emergency scheme. As we passed through the East end of London, every window in the ‘bus was smashed, but the ‘bus continued on its way. Soon a more regular service was established. The ‘bus on which I rode was driven by a peer of the realm, while a church dignitary, protected by special constables, collected the fares. Later, the same ‘bus was driven through the streets of London bearing a placard on which were the words “We have no pane, dear mother, now.” In emergencies of that kind, governments must act with firmness. In Melbourne there has been considerable anxiety recently because of industrial disturbances, but the Transport Workers Act and the licensing system, which it has set up, have broken the domination of the unions, and will yet do a great deal more to cope with organizations which are throttling industry and creating an army of unemployed. If their labour is not worth the price they demand, they cannot be employed. There must be thousands of men who are able and willing to work, but the scale of wages fixed and the conditions obtaining are such that they cannot be profitably employed. It is useless to carry on industry under conditions which will only result in insolvency. We must face the situation. The trade unionists in Great Britain usually adopt a more reasonable attitude during trade depression. The employees there frequently confer with the employers and agree to a temporary reduction in wages; but when the conditions improve they rightly insist on being paid higher rates. They seldom attempt to hold up industry. Unionists in Australia sometimes refuse to work at wages which would he considered highly satisfactory in some European countries. Senator Graham sought my opinion on the licensing system, and I interjected to the effect that I would prefer a government licence to a union ticket. The holder of a government licence has the Government, the law, and all right thinking people behind him, whilst the holder of a union ticket has only the Labour organization, and the forces which that organization can employ to aid him. Some unionists believe in holding up industry indefinitely without regard to law, justice, or any right principle that should guide us. I intend to support the bill, and trust that it will be the forerunner of a system of control that will overcome industrial trouble in Australia.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out, be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
– This clause provides that the act shall commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation, but I should like to know why it is necessary to proclaim this measure at any time. Why go further with this legislation until the peace-in-industry conference, which is still functioning, presents its report? Senator Ogden quoted one important resolution, which was agreed to unanimously by the committee of management.
– Is the conference still functioning?
– It was adjourned sine die.
– The committee of management appointed by the conference is still functioning.
– The committee of management has no one to report to.
– The conference has not concluded its deliberations. The resolution which Senator Ogden quoted urged that the penal provisions of legislation passed by this Government were not conducive to peace in industry.
– No, it did not say that.
– The resolution was in these terms -
The committee is in agreement regarding the principle that the penal provisions of industrial legislation of the Commonwealth are not generally conducive to industrial peace.
Senator Ogden then went on to say that Mr. Crofts, the secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, had urged that the penal sections of the Arbitration Act should not be repealed.
– That is so.
– Did the honorable senator quote the whole of Mr. Crofts’ statement?
– No; only that portion of it referring to the point raised.
– I understood that the peace-in-industry conference sat in camera. Representatives of the press were not admitted, so I am at a loss to understand how Senator Ogden got a copy of a speech made by. one of the delegates. Copies of speeches were not available to others.
– Where did the honorable senator get the resolution which he quoted?
– From the public press, to which it was given by Mr. McDougall, the President of the Chamber of Commerce. I am not objecting to Senator Ogden’s quoting a statement by Mr. Crofts, but he should have quoted Mr. Crofts in extenso.
– (Senator Duncan). - Order! I have been waiting for the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the clause. I cannot allow him to proceed further. If I did so I should have to allow other honorable senators the same latitude. He must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I am endeavouring to give reasons why it should be deleted.
– If the clause is struck out, the bill will come into operation immediately it is passed and assented to.
– My object is to suspend the whole of the legislation dealing with transport workers. The Government should not proceed with this legislation, which is provocative, coercive and repellent. I ask the Leader of the Senate to reconsider his attitude and agree to the deletion of the clause.
[5.55]. - If the committee deletes the clause the bill will become law immediately it is assented to. The retention of the clause will mean that the act will not take effect until a proclamation is issued by the Governor-General. As for the peace-in-industry conference I am afraid that if we hold up legislation until that body presents its report we shall be depending upon a very rotten reed. Union after union has withdrawn its delegates and generally the attitude of the various organizations has been so hostile that the conference has adjourned sine die.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The committee divided.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 7 agreed to.
The principal act is amended by adding after section 3 the following. . . . sections: -
– As this clause is a very comprehensive one, embracing five pages of the bill, I suggest that each proposed new section be dealt with separately by the committee.
– (Senator Duncan). - Is it the wish of the committee that each proposed new section covered by clause 8 be put separately?
Honorable Senators. - Hear! hear!
Question - That proposed new section 4 (Application of Part) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to .
Question - That proposed new section 5 (Appointment of licensing officers) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 6 (Licensing of waterside workers).
– I hope that the committee will not agree to this proposed new section, which provides that any man seeking work on the waterfront must obtain a licence, for which he must pay a certain fee, which shall be prescribed. Why does the bill not stipulate the amount to be paid?
– What is wrong with providing that licences should be issued free?
– That is an even happier suggestion. Why should a man who is seeking work and willing to obtain a licence have to pay for that licence ?
– Why quibble over such a negligible amount? How much does it cost to join the waterside workers’ union ?
– I might as reasonably ask what it costs Senator Guthrie to remain a member of the organization to which he belongs, or what it costs to become a member of the Employers’ Federation.
– It costs me nothing.
– I might also ask what itcost the consultative council of the Nationalist Party when it had to pay for Senator Guthrie’s election expenses to return him to this chamber.
– The free votes of the people of Victoria put me here.
– Senator Guthrie is not prepared to disclose that information, so I shall confine myself to the proposed new section. Perhaps at some not far distant date the meaning of the term “ transport “ may be extended to embrace not only waterside workers, but railway and tramway workers, also the driver of a horse and cart. For the time being, however, the term as used in this bill is confined to men engaged on the waterfront. Those men must first obtain a licence to work, and for that licence they have to pay a fee which is to be prescribed.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– I see no reason why the fee to be charged for the licence should not be set out in the bill. If this bill becomes law a man must have a licence before he can work.
– But that is the law now.
– Then why the need for this bill?We are told that the Government has brought it down for the purpose of converting certain regulations into a statute, and, as Senator Kingsmill has told us in his usual condescending manner, in order to carry out a promise it made. We have had many bills before us in which salaries have been fixed. They were not left to be prescribed by the Governor-General in Council, or by any body of men who, for the moment, happened to hold sway over the country. Why, then, cannot we fix in this bill the fee to be charged for a waterside worker’s licence? A man does not need a licence when he applies to a railway stationmaster for employment as a transport worker. Why should he be required to carry one if he seeks the same class of work on the waterfront? We are told that doctors and others are licensed; but that is not correct. They are registered. The proposed new section is unnecessary. We have peace on the waterfront to-day. Why should we seek to stir up trouble by passing aggravating legislation of this sort? Why cannot we let bygones be bygones, and allow the transport workers to carry on their work without having this added insult heaped upon them? I shall vote against the proposed new section.
.- The proposed new section says that a worker “may” make application for a licence, but the whole purport of the bill is to make it compulsory for him to do so. It would be interesting to learn what revenue is likely to be obtained from the licence-fees. Honorable senators opposite have emphasized how necessary it is that every citizen should be at liberty to go wherever work is offering and secure employment; yet they seek to make one section of workers pay a fee before they can approach certain places where employment may be obtained. Honorable senators are somewhat inconsistent. The amount of the fee to be charged for a licence has not been divulged to the Senate. I agree with Senator Needham that it should be made known. A government which is afraid to tax big people apparently does not mind imposing a fee on the fellow who goes on a wharf to earn the price of a loaf of bread for his kiddies ; but it makes no attempt to impose a fee on shearers or coal-miners. There is to-day no award operating on the waterfront, and in the event of a section of men combining and applying for an award, I should like to know if they will get preference over those who hold licences ?
– A second union cannot be registered.
– I understand that there is no union recognized to-day. All that the employers are expected to recognize is a licence - not a union ticket, nor even experience.
– What does the union “ licence “ cost ?
– I cannot say what the entrance-fee to the Waterside Workers Federation is, at the moment.
– Is it not £20?
– Senator Guthrie, of course, has worked on a wharf, and knows all about the work on the waterfront! But thework he did was very different from that which is done by the man who loads a” bale of wool into a ship; he simply had a book and pencil, and watched the bale being loaded as if it were “ the Golden Fleece “ going to ancient Greece. If honorable senators knew what fee was to be charged for the licences, their opposition to the bill might be more violent. The Waterside Workers Federation has been broken. Like the harp of dear old Erin, it is a mass of broken strings. Preference of employment is to be given to holders of licences over a “ dinkum “ organization that would approach the Arbitration Court. The proposed section should be deleted, because it is offensive.
[8.15]. - I draw the attention of Senator Barnes to the regulation fixing the fee for a licence at1s.
.- If the regulations provide for a fee of 1s., provision to that effect should be made in this bill. So long as the fee is governed by regulation, it may be altered by proclamation at any time. I do not think that the Government has any intention of increasing the fee, and I think it would be wise to fix the amount iri the bill.
– During this discussion honorable senators opposite have frequently referred to awards of the court. One would think that this bill was aimed at men who disobey such awards. The principal act contains no mention of an award1 of any court, whether good, bad or indifferent, nor is there any reference in the bill, so far, to any award of a court. If the object of this measure is to penalize men. who have committed breaches of awards of the Arbitration Court, the Government should move an amendment to include coal-owners also.
– I thought the honorable senator did not believe in penal clauses.
– We, on this side, are trying to abolish penal legislation; but if legislation of that nature is to remain, it should apply to employers as well as to employees. Only within the last week or so 17,000 men were dismissed from their employment by coalowners, despite an award by an industrial tribunal.
– (Senator Duncan). - The honorable senator is out of order. The committee has already determined that this bill shall apply to waterside workers. The honorable senator is not in order in referring to other workers.
– I realize, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that any reference to the dismissal of coal-miners is irrelevant at this stage. I was endeavouring to show that if honorable senators opposite are so concerned about the observance of awards of the court they should see that employers who commit breaches of awards are penalized in the same way that this legislation penalizes employees.
Question - That proposed new section 6 be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 7 - (Grant of Licences).
.- I hope that the committee will not agree to this proposed new section, which reads - (1). Where an application is made under the last preceding section to a licensing officer he may issue to the applicant a licence in accordance with the prescribed form, bearing a number and the name of the port in respect of which it is issued.
There is no obligation on the licensing officer to issue a licence. The word used is “may.” He may issue a licence. An arbitrary discretion is thus vested in a departmental officer who, for any reason whatever, or for no reason, may refuse to issue a licence. He is, as it were, an industrial dictator. The person to whom he refuses to grant a licence has no right of appeal; he cannot appeal to Parliament, because Parliament has no jurisdiction over the licensing officer. Similarly, Cabinet has no jurisdiction over him Senator Ogden said that this provision is included in the bill to give effect to a principle which has been in operation in Great Britain for many years. The committee has affirmed the principle that workers shall be licensed. Various reasons have been given by honorable senators opposite for licensing workers; some wish the waterside workers to be punished; others think that the time is ripe for unionists to be licensed; others desire to crush trade unionism.
SenatorFoll. - No honorable senator on this side gave that as a reason.
– Of course not, because honorable senators opposite look to unionists for votes. If honorable senators opposite would examine their own consciences they would know that they support this measure because it offers an opportunity to crush the trade union movement. “We listened to-day to a lecture on behalf of the shareholders of a certain company. We heard how the actions of the men in insisting upon a decent wage had led to the cessation of certain mining operations. Some honorable senators opposite see in this measure an opportunity to crush the unions and get back again to the days of individual bargaining.
– The honorable senator is not troubled about that.
– I am. Only after many years of agitation was the system of arbitration affirmed inthis country, and placed on the statute-book. If honorable senators opposite were honest they would admit that in assisting to place this measure on the statute-book they are obeying the dictates of the Employers Federation. They are not prepared to say publicly that they are opposed to arbitration.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the proposed new section, which refers to the granting of licences.
– It is obvious that the Government has some object in appointing industrial dictators.
– Was the honorable senator prepared to allow conditions on the waterfront to remain as they were before the Transport Workers Bill of last session was introduced?
– No; but neither the Government nor that legislation had anything to do with the settlement of the dispute. It had no more effect on the settlement than had that magnificent “ Essential service army “ on the waterfront at Port Adelaide. The trouble there was settled because of the sanity and common sense of trade unionists. I know what happened in South Australia.
– Is the honorable senator acquainted with what took place on the coast of Queensland?
– It took me all my time to study the conditions in South Australia. There is forgiveness even for the most confirmed criminal in the land, but apparently no leniency is to be shown to industrial offenders by those who regard a strike as the greatest crime in the criminal calendar. The men concerned have already been punished and there is no need for this class of legislation. It will not get over our present difficulty.
– It has got over the difficulty.
– It had nothing whatever to do with the settlement of the trouble on the waterfront. If, on the 30th June, when the new licences will come into force, a unionist holding a licence fails to take out a fresh licence and to that extent rebels against the Commonwealth law, what will happen to him ? This legislation will never eliminate strikes. We had strikes before the adoption of our present arbitration system, we have had strikes under arbitration, and we shall have strikes if the court is abolished.
– There will be no more trouble on the waterfront if this legislation is passed.
– The honorable senator is an optimist if he holds to that view.
– There will be very much less trouble, anyhow.
– The system is entirely wrong. It in no way resembles the English system.
– It is the same.
– The machinery provisions are entirely different. In Great Britain the system of registration is controlled by employers and employees.
– So will this law be if the employees are reasonable.
– The Minister knows very well that the employers and employees will in no way control the machinery provisions of this measure.
– Who will?
– The industrial dictator whom it is proposed to appoint.
– Does not the honorable senator believe in government control?
– I believe in a British system of control. I do not approve of the Italian methods which the Government is seeking to sanction by Commonwealth legislation.
– Would the honorable senator make it’ mandatory for the licensing officer to issue licences?
– If we are to have the licensing system, yes.
– Then I presume the honorable senator will say that a man should secure a licence even if he is known to be a convicted thief?
– There are provisions in the law to meet such cases. I am not suggesting that convicted thieves should be licensed; but I disapprove of the methods adopted by this Government, and I believe that before three years have expired Parliament will be asked to repeal this legislation.
– The application for a licence must be signed in ink. Why not in blood?
– The licensing system provided for in this measure is absolutely foreign to any system operating in the British Commonwealth of nations, and I hope that the committee will not accept the Government’s proposal.
– As I understand the clause, the issue of licences by the licensing officer is to be optional, and Senator Daly would prefer that all applicants should be supplied with a licence. Is that the position ?
– With certain exceptions.
– The honorable senator’s argument appears to be directed against the appointment of some person whom he describes as an industrial dictator, from whose decision, so he says, there will be no appeal. He also objects to the word “ may “ in the sub-clause, because it implies that- the official “ may “ refuse to issue a licence.
– That is so.
– Does Senator Daly argue that every person who applies for a licence should get one?
– Why then does the honorable senator object to the clause?
– I wish to fetter the discretion of the licensing officer.
– Is it not conceivable that a person making application for a licence may be totally unworthy of having one issued to him? Is it not conceivable also that an applicant may have broken a Commonwealth law; that he may have been guilty of intimidation, or have engaged, in company, in a brutal assault on his fellow-men during an industrial dispute?
– Yes; but I would not disqualify an applicant for life.
– As all honorable senators know, Senator Daly is a member of the legal profession. We may rightly presume that before the authorities issued to him a certificate entitling him to practise his profession, they satisfied themselves that he was a fit and proper person to practise the profession of law. We are all aware that, in certain circumstances, licences or certificates are refused to aspiring members of the honorable senator’s profession.
– Judicially, not arbitrarily, as contemplated under this bill.
– At all events, certificates are sometimes withheld, and at other times they are cancelled. It would appear, therefore, that Senator Daly would have one law for himself and a totally different law for wharf labourers. And yet he poses as a democrat! The Government has decided that the licensing system shall be adopted to meet an abnormal situation. No one dreamed, prior to the creation of the Arbitration Court, that its awards would be disobeyed and its authority flouted as has been the case lately. Exceptional circumstances require special remedies. The people demand that the industries of the country shall be carried on, and its laws obeyed. Unless we can devise the means to maintain the authority of the Arbitration Court, the future progress and well-being of the workers of this country will be imperilled. As one who has been through a number of strikes, I know that the worst award of the worst court in Australia is better than the best settlement that can be obtained as the result of a strike. Senator Barnes, who has grown grey in the service of trade unionism, can bear witness to the truth of this statement. It is extraordinary that after a long struggle for arbitration, the very men in whose interests the law is invoked from time to time deliberately disobey it.
– Is this a secondreading speech?
– It is, I suggest, a speech worth listening to. Senator Daly appears to take exception, to the discretionary power to be vested in the licensing officer to issue licences. All I can say on that point is that the same system is adopted in connexion with Labour organizations. If the executive of an industrial union believes that a membership card should not be issued to an applicant, it is withheld. This licence enables a man to work, and that is where it differs from the form of licence which is issued by present day unions.
– But why is a man fined for the right to work?
– Are not members of Senator Barnes’s union charged a fee for the right to work?
– They are charged 25s., which provides them with a ticket which carries them all over Australia.
– Senator Barnes knows, and Senator Daly may know, that for many years seamen, who work alongside the waterside workers, had to possess certificates or licences before they were permitted to work. It was a condition of their employment. And what was wrong with such a provision? This is merely a device to ensure harmonious working, in keeping with the principle of humanitarianism. The proposed new section will not prejudice the rights of any man. I quite appreciate the spirit of Senator Barnes, who believes that trade unionists are the salt of the earth.
– So they are. Who denies it?
– The honorable senator believes that the tradition about the Jews being the chosen people is all humbug, and that the chosen people are really present day trade unionists. Senator Daly wishes to narrow the choice of the licensing officer, and to make his position ridiculous. He would have him issue a certificate to all and sundry, irrespective of character or ability to work, or previous bad behaviour. The provision is on all fours with other systems of licensing which obtain throughout the Commonwealth.
– I merely desire to have the discretion of the licensing officer fettered.
– These licences give a man the right to work, which is the inalienable right of every man in the community. They also bear testimony to his character and ability. I see no objection to them, except that which exists in the imagination of Senator Daly.
– Provision is made that if a man is granted a licence and it is cancelled, he may appeal. But no appeal is provided for the man who is refused a licence. That is an anomalous position which needs attention.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [8.53]. - The position that the honorable senator visualizes has not yet occurred, and is not likely to occur. Many thousands of licences have been issued and not one protest has been received to the effect that a reputable person has been refused a licence. The instructions to the officers who issue licences is that they are not to exercise any discretion, and certainly not as .between unionists and non-unionists.
.- What is the objection to the Government granting the right of appeal as suggested by Senator E. H. S. Abbott? I can conceive that a licensing officer, actuated by wrong motives, might exercise a biased discretion.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 8 agreed to.
Question - That proposed new section 9 (Duration of licence) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 10 (Licences lost or destroyed).
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [8.58]. - This proposed section reads -
In the event of a licence issued under this part being lost or destroyed or becoming illegible, there may ho issued to the person to whom that licence was issued a duplicate thereof upon that person making a statutory declaration declaring the circumstances of the loss or destruction or upon his surrendering the illegible licence (as the case may be) and upon his paying the prescribed fee.
I should like to hear from the Minister in charge of the bill whether this proposed new section implies the imposition of an additional fee. Already the transport worker has taken out his licence and paid the prescribed fee. What happens if he inadvertently loses that licence or it becomes illegible and he makes a declaration in regard to the occurrence? I should like to know if this provision requires a man who secures a fresh licence to pay an additional fee. If a depositor in the Commonwealth Savings Bank loses his pass book a fresh pass book is issued to him without charge.
[9.1] - No charge is made by the Commonwealth Bank for the depositor’s original pass; book. In connexion with licences for the transport workers, it must be remembered that some holders of licences are anything but friendly to the act. The provision requiring payment of a second fee when a licence is replaced, will be a deterrent against the wilful destruction of licences and will prevent men from hindering the licensing officers in the administration of the act.
– It is vindictive to expect a second fee to be paid because some workers are opposed to the Transport Workers Act. I cannot understand the Government being desirous of imposing a penalty upon its pets - the army of volunteers which this legislation protects. It may be true that no charge is made for the issue of a pass-book by the Commonwealth Bank, but do Senator Pearce and his lieutenant, Senator Lynch, forget their own statements in this chamber, when the Commonwealth Bank Bill was first introduced? Do they forget that they then said that there were people in Australia who were opposed to such a fee. Yet to-day those two honorable senators demand that a man who has lost his licence must pay a second fee for another. This legislation is not only hasty and provocative, it is also vindictive.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 11 (Licence for another port) -
– If a man takes out a licence for one port and pays the prescribed fee and perhaps a second fee for the renewal of a licence which has been lost or become illegible, he has still to take out another licence when he transfers to another port. “Where will the Government stop in its pursuit of these men who have allegedly broken the law of the land? Surely one penalty should be sufficient. Why should a man be chased from one port to another and charged a second or, as it might perchance be, a third fee?
– Some unions charge a fee of £10 for a transfer.
– When the honorable senator was secretary of the Amalgamated Miners Association, he knew that he could transfer from Bendigo to Kalgoorlie without paying a second entrance fee or taking out another ticket. When Senator Pearce, as a member of the Amalgamated Carpenters Union was working at his trade at Subiaco, Western Australia, he knew that he could transfer to Melbourne and work at his trade there without having to pay another entrance fee. I am a member of the Australian Workers Union and I can work in any part of Australia on the ticket I take out in Western Australia for a fee of 25s. a year. It is vindictive to charge the waterside worker a second feeon a transfer to another port.
Question - That proposed new section 11 be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 12 -
– This is the most important provision in the bill. It provides -
A licensing officer may cancel a licence issued under this Part to a waterside worker in any case as to which he is satisfied that the worker after a licence has been issued to him -
has refused or failed to comply with any lawful order or direction given in relation to his employment.
I ask the Minister in charge of the bill to tell the committee who will be responsible for determining what is a lawful order; whether the matter will rest with a licensing officer. It is also provided in paragraph e of subsection 1 of the proposed section that the licence of any man who has been convicted of an offence against any other Commonwealth law, or against any State law, committed upon a wharf, pier, jetty, hulk, barge or ship, may be cancelled. Here, again, the licensing officer is to be the judge of the nature of the offence.
– He is made a higher authority than a Commonwealth or State court.
– In sub-section 3 it is provided that; -
Where a licence issued to any person is cancelled under this section, the licensing officer by whom the licence is cancelled shall, by writing under his hand, fix a period, not being less than six months nor more than twelve months from the date of cancellation, during which the person shall be ineligible to receive a licence under this part, and the person shall, subject to this part, thereupon be ineligible accordingly.
In this sub-section the word “ shall “ is used for the first time. We have heard of the tyranny of unionism; but is this not tyranny of the worst kind? A man who leaves the path of rectitude shall be ineligible for employment for a period of six months! It is true that a worker whose licence is cancelled may appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction against the cancellation of his licence ; but it may be that here again the functions of the court are vested in the licensing officer. Sub-section 6 of proposed new section 12 provides that the court, on hearing the appeal, may restore the licence or confirm the cancellation. In the latter case it may vary the period during which the appellant is ineligible to receive a fresh licence; but that period shall not be less than six months. In this proposed new section Parliament is taking to itself powers which the people refused to give it in 1926, when the Government appealed to the electors to give this Parliament power to control essential services. Moreover, this legislation makes a distinction between States.
– Quite right.
– Why should this law apply to Melbourne, and not to Sydney?
– There has been no breach of the law at Sydney.
– Different penalties are provided for the same offence. The sub-section is . not only tyrannous, but it also violates the sovereign rights of the States. If a man breaks a State law, he can be dealt with in the courts of that State. This bill interferes with that right, for it makes a licensing officer the judge. I ask the committee to reject this proposed new subsection.
– I hope that the Minister will agree to an amendment to sub-section 3 of this proposed new section. The minimum period of six months for which a licence may be cancelled is altogether too long. Some of the offences enumerated are, indeed, serious, and six months is not too long a period for a person found guilty of such offences to be delicensed; but in other cases six months’ cancellation of a licence is an almost inhuman punishment. In a fit of passion a man may do something which, at other times, he would not do ; yet, if found guilty, he will, for a period of at least six months, be deprived of the opportunity to work on the wharf. I favour the retention of the maximum period of twelve months in order to deal with offences of a serious nature; but the minimum period should be less. It is not right that a man who has been goaded into committing a minor offence should be forced to seek employment elsewhere, and bring hardship and suffering to his family. The minimum punishment provided in this sub-section is too severe.
– He can appeal against the penalty.
– Believing that the minimum period of six months is too long, I move that -
The word “ six sub-section 3, proposed new section 12, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ three “.
Probably one month would be a sufficiently long minimum period ; but I have suggested a period of three months as a reasonable compromise.
Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [9.30]. - It is all very well to suggest, as some honorable senators have, that the clause is aimed at trivial offences only.
– Trivial and serious.
– The clause is aimed at serious offences. Considerable damage has been done not only to the rights of individuals, but also to the interests of the community by what are called trivial offences on the waterfront. Senator Needham just now suggested that the disobedience of a lawful order of an employer was a trivial matter. Have honorable senators forgotten the quotations which I gave in my secondreading speech from Judge Beeby’s award ? Have they forgotten the instances disclosed of the huge losses inflicted on the community by interference with men working on our wharfs by irresponsible persons, vigilance officers and others? The cancellation of licences for a short period has no terrors for the men who have been the cause of so much trouble on our waterfront, and who have been guilty of serious offences against the law. There is a well-authenticated case of a man working on the Melbourne wharfs who was convicted of pilfering no fewer than twelve times, and was sent to gaol on seven occasions. Gaol has no terror for such a man. He came back to the wharfs from time to time and demanded re-engagement, and such was the strength of the union of which he was a member, that the employer had to re-employ him. But these men fear the Commonwealth legislation on this subject. For instance, I have been informed by a member of another place that complaints have been made by members of the “Waterside Workers Union in a port which is not a licensing port under the Transport Workers Act, that a criminal section of waterside workers at another port where licences are issued, have become so afraid of the law that they are leaving their port and seeking work at the port where the licensing system is not in operation. Men at that port, so I am told, have protested to their union, but it is numerically small, and it has been instructed by the head-quarters of the union that it must admit to membership the criminal element which is evacuating the port where licences are required of all waterside workers. These men, fearing the punishment that may be meted out to them, are migrating to a port where up to the present the licensing system is not in operation. We must not forget that offences against the law, extending over a number of years, have inflicted losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds upon the community. On many occasions, Australian industries have been dislocated and the trade and commerce of the Commonwealth has been held up, in absolute defiance of the law, and of trade unionism. I invite honorable senators to read the report of the royal commission which inquired into the allegations of pilfering on wharfs in 1921. The commission was asked whether persons convicted of offences involving dishonesty were employed on the wharfs, and if so, under what authority, by whom, and to what extent. It replied -
Evidence has been given in every port, except Launceston, where no such persons are employed at the present time, that such persons are employed on the wharfs under the authority of the persons who require their services, and the unions to which they belong, The latter take no action against their being so employed. The employers are not bound to employ men whom they know to have been convicted, provided there are a’ sufficient number of men to choose from. If there are not more than the required number of members of a union present the men known to have been convicted must be employed. This is unfortunate, considering the fact that the unions at the ports where preference to unionists obtains can prevent honest men who are not members of the unions from securing employment on the wharfs. As to what extent they are employed, there is no bar to their employment.
It was also asked -
What special measures, if any, are necessary to prevent pillaging in the future?
It reported -
Without the full and whole-hearted cooperation of the unions concerned in dealing with cargoes on the ships and wharfs, thieving of cargo in Australia will remain forever as a standing disgrace to the good name of the nation. Even the children of the waterside workers must know that it is carried on; and what kind of an education is it for them?
Maybe, in course of time, it may become an honour instead of a disgrace to be a thief; fortunately it is not so at present.
Many of the secretaries of the unions who have appeared before the commission say they have no knowledge of thieving of cargo taking place here. Now they can learn in the plainest possible terms that it takes place to a great extent in Australia.
There are as honorable men who are members of the unions as in any other profession in life, and it is to be regretted that they seem to be unable to make a stand against the thieving of cargo.
Many of the union officers who appeared before the commission are men of high integrity, who could be placed in any position of trust, and would faithfully carry out their duties; but most of them, unfortunately, take the view that a member of a union who has been convicted of stealing, and one of them said even up to half a dozen times, should have another chance, although some of them admitted that if a servant employed by them was convicted of stealing their goods they would not employ her again.
So long as the unions concerned countenance, or even approve of, the thieving of cargo in Australian ports, by taking no action to prevent it, so long will cargo thieving continue, despite every other precautionary measure to prevent it.
It is not suggested that they should necessarily expel the dishonest members from the unions if the unions desire them to retain their membership, as it is a matter purely in their discretion; but they should allot them other work such as coal lumping, timber handling, wheat-stacking or loading, &c, where they would not he open to the same temptation as they would be in handling cargo liable to pillage.
Surely for the honour and good name of the unions the members will recognize the extent of the evil, and do all in their power to suppress it.
That -was the position in 1921. So far from improving it became worse. We are now told that these are trivial offences and that we should not be too harsh in framing legislation to deal with the offenders. Let me remind honorable senators that this law need have no terrors for the honest law-abiding citizen. No man who obeys the law need fear that his licence will be cancelled. I submit, therefore, that the committee should stand by the clause. Let us make it plain to these law-breakers who have involved this country in such heavy losses that we are tired of this rebellion, these offences against the law, and these frequent dislocations of industry. Let us inform them that the price of their employment in this key industry in future will be good behaviour and obedience to the law, and that the penalty for disobedience will be such as to make them think twice before they break the law.
– I regret that the Minister appears to have misunderstood the reasons underlying my amendment. Apparently he makes no distinction whatever between the minor offences that may be committed, and the offence to which he has directed attention. He has told us that certain criminals have broken Ihe law repeatedly; that one man was convicted twelve times and in respect of many offences was sentenced to terms of imprisonment. I make no appeal on behalf of such persons, and I do not suggest that their period of punishment should be interfered with in any way. I suggest, however, that minor offences such as the use of abusive language should not be treated as a criminal offence. Abusive language is sometimes indulged in in this chamber and no one suggests that the offender should be punished with exceptional severity. To me it seems anomalous that for what I regard as minor offences, the punishment should be cancellation of licences for six months, whereas according to the Minister, a person who has been convicted of a serious offence no fewer than twelve times will have his licence cancelled for only twelve months. I protest, therefore, against the implication in the Minister’s remarks that those honorable senators who may support my amendment desire to put. up a fight for convicted criminals. I make no such proposal. On the contrary I am prepared to extend the maximum punishment in the case of convicted criminals. In my judgment, cancellation of a licence for three months is sufficient punishment for minor offences. I should have no objection to extending the term even to twelve months for a second offence. We should, I think, observe the common law in regard to such cases and allow for the exercise of a little mercy. Punishment should depend upon circumstances. In some cases a fine of 5s. and in others a fine of 10s. might be sufficient. If, as the Minister attempted to show, the clause is aimed at criminals, then all I can say is that the punishment contemplated is not sufficient, and it is idle to suggest that the amendment is put forward in their interests.
– I hope that this proposed new section will not be carried. There is a good deal of truth in what Senator Duncan has said. I invite the right honorable the Leader of the Senate to consider what would happen if a man charged with pillaging was brought before the Criminal Court, and the circumstances were such that the judge decided that it was a proper case in which to extend the provisions of the Offenders Probation Act. According to the right honorable the Leader of the Senate that man’s licence would be cancelled. ‘
– And quite right, too.
– That is but another example of what has been claimed earlier in the debate, that there is a certain section of honorable senators opposite who see in this measure a tyrannical means to get rid of trade unions.
– A man need not be a trade unionist to be licensed.
– Legislatures throughout the British Empire have decided that there are cases in which the provisions of the Offenders Probation Act should be applied, and clemency shown to the erring individual. But this measure provides that such action by a Supreme Court judge is to be disregarded, and that any man who receives the advantages of the Offenders Probation Act shall have his licence cancelled for at least six months.
– That does not prevent his working elsewhere.
– That is a most illogical argument. Such a man will be thrown into another industry, and, if he decides to be a confirmed thief, he can continue to move from industry to industry.
– The object of the Government is to cleanse the Augean stable of the wharfs.
– That appears to be the only object of the Government.
– Is not the honorable senator in favour of cleaning up the wharfs ?
– I think we might with advantage begin by cleaning up our parliamentary institutions. I do not consider that any cleaning up is needed on our wharfs. The right honorable the Leader of the Senate intimated that SO per cent, of the waterside workers are decent men. I venture the suggestion that quite a fair percentage of decent men have been released at various times under the provisions of the Offenders Probation Act. During a previous debate on this bill the right honorable gentleman challenged my statement in regard to the appellate tribunal. He stated that an appeal may be made to a court of summary jurisdiction, and that the licensing officer has to justify the cancellation of a licence. At that time Senator McLachlan was not in the chamber. He is here now, and I challenge the right honorable the Leader of the Senate to repeat his statement that the onus is upon the licensing officer to prove that he was right in cancelling the licence. The onus is on the waterside worker. The right honorable gentleman, who desires to clean up the wharfs, has provided for a tribunal, which may consist of justices of the peace, to deal with what he admits to be an important matter. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the High .Court of Australia has decided that the meaning of the words in the section is that if an appeal is lodged we must take the court as we find it? For instance, in Adelaide, owing to pressure of business, it has been necessary to constitute additional courts. Two are presided over by stipendiary magistrates, and the other by justices of the peace. Appeals under this measure may be dealt with by those justices of the peace, by men who, although perhaps actuated by principles of equity and good conscience, would not be guided by legal precedent, and are not learned in the law. If I wanted to prosecute a unionist to-morrow for arrears of contributions the case would be heard by a stipendiary magistrate, yet this proposed new section provides that an ordinary justice of the peace, untutored in the law. shall decide the important matter concerned. That tribunal will first of all decide whether the man is guilty of the offences alleged, and will then award the punishment. It will be the final court of appeal. What a remarkable position ! I recall my experience with justices of the peace, in the celebrated Peace Day troubles in Adelaide, in which the Municipal Tramways Trust and its employees were concerned. The returned soldiers demanded that they should be given time off on Peace Day. Certain prosecutions were launched, and the court was presided over by a stipendiary magistrate and justices of the peace. Two of the justices met in the justices’ room and stated “We will have to deal with one of these men, and that will stop the trouble!” Some honorable senators opposite may some day lose their seats in the Senate, and perhaps sit in judgment on an industrial matter. I shudder to think what would happen, particularly if industrial trouble were occurring at the time, if a waterside worker appeared before them. He would not have much chance of obtaining a licence. A stipendiary magistrate trained in the law and removed from all political influence would constitute the best tribunal and, if the Government intends to proceed with the measure, I urge that the proposed new section be amended to provide for an appellate tribunal presided over by a stipendiary magistrate. There may be doubts as to how that could be effected in remote parts. The Commonwealth Government has power to appoint honorary magistrates. That has already, been done in South Australia, and could be done in remote places, such as
Broome. The Leader of the Senate says that we are dealing with important matters, and that the wharfs have to be cleaned up. Let us clean matters up in an Australian way, and introduce into this statute legislation consistent with that which has previously been passed by other Governments.
.- I regard this as one of the most important provisions in the bill, as it gives protection to those who desire to carry on their work as waterside workers. When trouble occurred on the Brisbane wharfs last October, the majority of the Brisbane branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation were opposed to a strike. A ballot was ordered and taken, but before it was possible for a count to be made, some of the hot-heads in the Brisbane branch kicked the ballot-box to pieces and spread the ballot-papers to the four winds of heaven. There then existed no restraining influence such as is contained in this bill, the cancellation provision of which will make an extremist think hard before he indulges in intimidation; I believe that it will do much to check trouble on the waterfront.
– The man who kicked to pieces a ballot-box at Port Adelaide was one of the first to be licensed under the new regulations.
– That discounts the argument of honorable senators opposite that unionists will be shut out by the operation of the bill. Senator Daly seems very much concerned about the provisions of proposed new section 12. I understand that the honorable senator is an employer of labour. What would be his attitude if one of his staff committed any of the offences referred to in the proposed new section. I can imagine that if such an employee refused to comply with his lawful directions he would be dismissed, but he would not be asked to return in three months to resume his old job. If any person working for Senator Daly or any other employer committed an offence of the nature of those set out in. the proposed new section, he would not be suspended for six months or at the most twelve, and told that he could return again and be re-appointed. He would be told to remain away altogether.
– But he could get employment in the same calling somewhere else.
– The men who are deprived of their licences for serious offences committed on the wharfs may seek employment in other walks of life. This provision will do more than any other to give adequate protection to the waterside workers, unionists and non-unionists, who are desirous of carrying on their work without the frequent stoppages that have characterized work on the waterfront in recent years.
– I agree with Senator Foll that this is one of the most important provisions in the bill and is absolutely necessary, but I do not agree with him in his opposition to the amendment moved by Senator Duncan. I can understand extenuating circumstances inducing a licensing officer to impose a small penalty. I am not suggesting that we should seek to relieve from the heaviest of penalties those who are guilty pf heinous offences on the waterfront, or that the maximum penalty of twelve months should be reduced. All I am saying is that it should be left to the discretion of the licensing officer to impose a smaller penalty than six months for the cancellation of a licence.
– We have put up with these waterside workers quite long enough.
– I am second to none in my desire to make disturbances on the waterfront and dislocation of trade impossible.
– I am surprised that a Tasmanian should try to weaken the bill.
– The right honorable gentleman has on more than one occasion expressed surprise at my attitude, but I follow my own conscience in anything I do. In any case, the Government is not infallible, and I am. confident that there are many members of this Parliament who will agree with Senator Duncan. I have no desire to give the criminal section of those engaged on the waterfront any reduction of the penalty, but I can imagine that a happening of a minor character may be surrounded by extenuating circumstances, which the bill will not allow the licensing officer to take into account.
– The licensing officer is not obliged to cancel a licence except under specific circumstances.
– The majority of people would consider aminimum of three months reasonable.
– Is not what the honorable member seeks to have done covered by sub-section 4?
– Sub-section 4 provides that the worker whose licence is cancelled may appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction against the cancellation of the licence, and sub-section 6 provides that the court may, as it thinks fit, confirm the cancellation or order the restoration of the licence, or where it confirms the cancellation, may vary the period during which the appellant is ineligible to receive a fresh licence, but so that the period of ineligibility is not less than six nor more than twelve months. It may reduce the period from twelve to nine months, but may not make it less than six months. The same condition is imposed on the licensing officer. I suggest that favorable consideration should be given to the amendment.
– This is not ordinary legislation.
– It is certainly extraordinary.
– It was passed to deal with exceptional and extraordinary circumstances and I shall not support any proposal to whittle it down. Wherever the awards of the Arbitration Court have been observed, the workers are not required to be licensed, but in ports where the law has been broken, the act has been applied, and men have been required to take out licences. The Senate would do wrong if it did not give its fullest support to a government which is determined that the law must be observed. It would be dangerous to whittle down provisions which enable trade- and commerce to be carried on. Tasmania has suffered more than any other State from interruptions to shipping, and I am determined not to deprive the Government of any authority that will enable it to preserve law and order and see that essential services are maintained.
.- This is an astounding provision. It appears to abrogate certain State powers. A man may be deprived of a licence if he has been convicted of an offence against any State law committed on a wharf, pier, jetty, hulk, barge or ship. Half a dozen men caught playing “ twoup “ on a wharf may be punished by a State court.
– Their licences would not be cancelled for that.
– But under this provision it could be done. It is a dangerous provision. Persons caught playing “ two-up “ on a wharf, and sentenced by a State court to two months’ imprisonment could, on their return to the waterfront, be sentenced to another twelve months’ absence from work. The licensing officer has the power to do it. I have no time for criminals. In Australia a man ought to be able to get an honest living ; but, unfortunately, we have criminals in our midst and possibly some of them gravitate to the wharfs. What would happen in the case of a man sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment for larceny from a wharf? For the protection of the shippers would he be driven from the waterfront to make a living elsewhere for another twelve months? He might not be able to do any work other than that of a wharf labourer. Are the shippers the only people to be saved from the depredations of those who break the law? When one authority has dealt with people who have committed an offence it should be sufficient. Once the State has punished a man, the Commonwealth licensing officer should not be authorized to double the penalty. It would appear that the Commonwealth, by subterfuge, is trying to abrogate the authority of the States. No officer should have this power. Would honorable senators agree that in the case of a wharf labourer living’ at, say, Brunswick or Fitzroy, who is found guilty of robbery or drunkenness, the licensing” officer, knowing his address, should be able to impose a further punishment upon him after he has served the sentence imposed by the court ? No licensing officer should have that power ; but that is what we are doing in this legislation. The whole principle underlying this bill is wrong. A man who serves the sentence imposed by a court for a breach of the law should not be subjected to further punishment by a licensing officer.
– I am sorry that the Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment of Senator Duncan. The speeches of Senator Herbert Hays and others might be justified if this were a temporary measure to apply for a period of six months. But it is not a temporary measure. Once it becomeslaw it will remain on the statutebook forall time, unless it is - and that may be a difficult matter repealed. In years to come, men who had nothing to do with the strike will be employed as wharf labourers. Should they disobey a lawful command, however trivial the result of that disobedience may be that they will be subject to the penalties provided in this legislation. No man who has committed a mere minor offence should be prevented from working for a period of six months. It is not sufficient to say that he can obtain work elsewhere, for we all know that it is not always easy for a man to find a new job. Senator Duncan’s amendment, while not affecting the punishment for serious offences, would make more reasonable the penalty imposed for minor offences. I should like to see a further amendment to sub-section 4 of the proposed new section, which reads -
Any waterside worker whose licence is cancelled under this section may within fourteen days of the cancellation appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction against the cancellation of the licence.
I should like the words “or whose application for a licence under section 1 of this act has been refused” inserted after the word “section.” If that were done there would be consequential amendments in the following three sub-sections. A man to whom the licensing officer refused a licence would then have the right of . appeal against the officer’s decision. There is as much reason for a right of appeal against a refusal to grant a licence as against the cancellation of a licence.
– Does the honorable senator know of any cases in which licences have been refused ?
-No ; but if a licensing officer can make a mistake in cancelling a licence, he may make a mistake in refusing to grant a licence.
– We should endeavour to legislate in such a manner that justice will be tempered with mercy. I agree with Senator Duncan that the minimum period for which a licence may be cancelled should be lets than six months. Swearing at the boss would be regarded as a breach of the law, and would render a man guilty of that offence liable to have his licence cancelled for six months. If I were a justice of the peace I should dismiss a case of that nature rather than sentence a man to be altogether too severe minimum penalty provided in this sub-section.
– If the period is not reduced, men who should be convicted will be acquitted.
– At Port Adelaide some time ago a man kicked a ballot-box to pieces. He was a “ red-ragger “ from another State who caused a great deal of trouble. Fearing that the . result of the secret ballot which the waterside workers had decided to hold would mean the end of the strike, this man destroyed the ballot-box. Yet he got off scot-free, whereas, in my opinion, he was guilty of an offence justifying a severe punishment. Who is to determine what constitutes an offence under this act? Will the ship-owner or the licensing officer decide that matter? Again, who is to say what a lawful command is? These things should be made clear. I hope that the amendment will be accepted by the committee.
– It is difficult to anticipate what form the opposition to this measure will take. Sometimes it appears to be heading north by south and at others east by west. This chamber has re-echoed with the condemnation of the bill, because according to honorable senators opposite, the Government proposes to issue licences to transport workers. Senator Daly has argued that this is an iniquitous proposal; that the whole purpose of the Government is to smash trade unionism. Then when the Government proposes to withhold licences in certain circumstances he protests and says that the men should not be denied an opportunity to get licences, Senator Elliott is also opposed to the cancellation of licences for six months. Surely he and other honorable senators realize it is about time that we told these waterside workers, who represent less than 2 per cent, of trade unionists in Australia, that they owe a duty to society; that they must not, in future, interfere with the every-day occupations of the people and retard the progress and development of Australia. Who gave them a mandate to do this? They have over-long arrogated to themselves this special privilege. It is time that they were taught a sharp lesson, if only in their own interests. If they cannot be brought to reason by moral suasion, then we must apply a certain measure of force. We must penalize them for their callousness and cold-blooded indifference to the interests of their - fellow Australians. Honorable senators opposite always have a good word to say for these waterside workers who have done so much harm to the trade and commerce of Australia. I invite them to place themselves in the position of the man outback, the man who has his head down to his job and who is depending on supplies from the centres of civilization, and whose very life depends on the safe transport of his produce to our ports for shipment overseas. How would they feel if they saw their produce rotting on the wharfs, as was the case in Tasmania and Western Australia, simply because the transport services were dislocated at the whim of this small section of trade unionists? It is because honorable senators opposite have never been in that position that they are now expressing so much concern for the future of these defiant law breakers. But what about the 80 per cent, of trade unionists who loyally abide by arbitration awards and do their duty to Australia? Are they not entitled to consideration? Apparently Senator Needham and his friends hold the view that they are not. We know, of course, that they sympathize with this remnant of trade unionists because they typify the red element and are, in fact, their political bosses. Let me tell these wharf labourers and their friends that if they were in Soviet Russia they would find a rusty bayonet behind them for nearly every hour of the day to ensure their obedience to the law. This bill may be regarded as a little-big measure. It is a Tittle bill dealing with a big subject. It is a beginning, a step forward in the direction of protecting the people of Australia from the assaults of law-breakers representing but a negligible fraction of trade unionists. Senator Needham and his colleagues really owe their position and strength in this chamber to the fact that they have bowed the knee to this irresponsible remnant of the industrial movement. If they had stood true to their principles they might to-day have been on the treasury bench. They remind me of a certain French political leader who was asked “Why do you not check the excesses of your followers?” “How can I do that?” he answered. “ I must follow, because I am their leader. “ That is where Senator Needham and his friends stand .to-day. The penalties proposed to be inflicted are not by any means harsh or vindictive, as has been suggested; but they should be sufficient to bring the law-breaker to his senses. They will serve as an intimation to him that he cannot continue violating the law with impunity. We must make it absolutely clear to wharf labourers that they cannot expect to usurp the powers of government and rule this country as they have done over-long.
– I wish to clear up one or two points in connexion with this clause. As far as I can see, if a worker commits any of the offences mentioned in paragraphs a, b, c and d, his licence may be cancelled for a period of not less than six nor more than twelve months. I agree with Senator Lynch. We are dealing with a union which for a number of years has caused far more economic loss to this country than even the Seamen’s Union, and that is saying a good deal. The waterside workers in recent years have cost Australia millions of pounds.
– And caused a great deal of misery.
– Honorable senators opposite are always talking about unemployment. Do not they realize that the wharf labourers have been largely responsible for much of the unemployment in Australia? The constant friction in the transport unions for several years has contributed more to unemployment than any other single factor. It has reduced the volume of production, the only source from which the community can be employed and wages paid. Therefore, it is high time that the offending unions were brought to book. The punishment proposed for offences mentioned in paragraphs a, b, c and d is not excessive. It is only in regard to paragraph e that any difficulty might arise.
Paragraph e deals with the case of a transport worker who lias been convicted of an offence against any other Commonwealth law, or against any State law committed upon a wharf, pier, jetty, hulk, bargo or ship.
It is conceivable that a man might say something offensive to another man and get” punched on the nose. That would constitute an offence for which he might be proceeded against and convicted under a State law. As I read the bill it would also provide grounds for the cancellation of his licence, and he would have no appeal.
– There could be an appeal on the degree of punishment.
– If his licence wore cancelled for nine months he might appeal, and the magistrate could reduce the period to six months, but if the cancellation were for six months he would have no appeal since six months is the minimum fixed by this proposed new section. I believe that is the difficulty in the minds of some honorable members on this side. The whole thing boils itself down to a matter of administration. Is the law to be administered in r drastic and injudicious fashion?
– It has not been up to date.
– And my opinion is that it will not be in the future. No official will be foolish enough to take extreme action because a man may have been convicted of a minor or technical offence.
– No notice will be taken of that sort of thing on the wharf.
– I think the honorable senator is right. I believe that the measure will be administered with the utmost care. Honorable senators opposite would be delighted to discover one glorious example of the exercise of what they term “ tyranny “ in the administration of this law. It would be broadcast from one end of Australia to the other. I feel that the Government will issue such instructions to its officers as to the administration of the law that no offence of the nature which I have attempted to indicate will bring about the cancellation of a man’s licence. The endeavour of the Government is to try to restore peace on the waterfront. It can definitely be claimed that not only have the regulations been successful in preventing dislocation of industry, but that they have caused work on the waterfront to proceed with greater expedition and smoothness than has occurred for many years. I believe that that state of things will continue.
– That is not due to this law.
– I believe that it is entirely due to it. Although the regulations have not been made to apply to New South Wales, there has been a most marvellous change in the conduct of affairs on the waterfront in that State since the passing of the principal act which this bill proposes to amend.
– That is due to the great number of unemployed.
– It is because the waterside workers know perfectly well that this weapon is in the hands of the Government, and that a system of licensing will very quickly apply at the port of Sydney if the men do not do their jobs properly. I consider that we will be well advised to accept the bill as it has been drafted, and leave it entirely to its administrators to see that it is administered fairly. I have not the slightest doubt that if at any time any individual has the slightest ground for claiming that he has been unfairly treated by the operation of the measure, it will not be very long before we hear of it in this chamber.
– I should prefer to see the amendment by Senator Duncan incorporated in the proposed new section 12. I am totally against the system of licensing.
– Because I believe that as a free and enlightened people, we do not need to be granted licences to enable us to look for work. Senator Lynch delivered a flowery speech in which lie pointed to the alleged beauty spots of the bill, and instanced how the measure will operate. I cannot see eye to eye with the honorable senator in that regard. If a man’s licence is cancelled for six months, not only will he be precluded from obtaining waterside work, but the very fact that his licence has been cancelled will prejudice his chances of obtaining work elsewhere, and the probability ia that be and his family will starve. It is well known that all employers seek favorable references before engaging labour, and one cannot regard a cancelled licence as a favorable testimonial. I do not countenance pillaging or thieving of any description on the wharfs or elsewhere. Men guilty of such acts should be dealt with by the law. But we must be careful not to penalize the honest worker. A minor conviction might very easily damage the future of a perfectly honest waterside worker, and I urge the Government to be careful in this regard. I- am not prepared to give power to any official to determine whether a licence shall be cancelled for six or twelve months. I am absolutely opposed to any system of licensing, but J shall support Senator Duncan’s amendment, believing in the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread.
– The Opposition seek in the first place to have proposed new section 12 deleted, but they realize that such an. objective is unlikely to be attained, as the numbers are against them. We rejoice to find that at least one honorable senator opposite, Senator Duncan, considers that the punishment provided is too harsh and wishes to reduce the minimum period for which a licence may be cancelled to three months. We are prepared to assist the honorable senator in his efforts. The Leader of the Senate again quoted from a report on pilfering and pillaging which he has previously used in this chamber. Proposed new section 12 contains no reference to such offences.
– It deals with offences against the law.
– Paragraph “« deals with the case of a man who - lias been convicted of an offence against any other Commonwealth law or against any State law committed upon a wharf, pier, jetty, hulk, Barge or ship. .
The words “pillaging” and “pilfering” do not occur. Will the right honorable gentleman inform me whether any volunteer who applies for a licence is questioned as to his previous career !
– Although he may be an habitual criminal, a murderer, or guilty of that unforgiveable offence, the violation of a woman, he is granted a licence in order that he may “ scab “ on his fellow workers. When trouble took place this Government did not a3k for the history of a man who applied for a licence. Whether he had been a murderer or a burglar he was welcomed. But if he commits a further breach of the- law, Commonwealth or State, his criminal record is quoted against him. I direct attention to subsection 1, which reads -
If, where a licence has been cancelled under paragraph (c) of sub-section (1.) of this section, the court, on the hearing of an appeal against the cancellation of the licence, is satisfied that the intimidation or violence, or the threatening or abusive language, had no relation to the employment of the waterside worker, or to the fact that the waterside worker had. offered for, accepted, or continued in employment in the work in respect of which he was licensed, the court shall order the restoration of the licence.
I should like to know if compensation will be paid to the man who can thus prove his innocence. Quite recently a high officer in the Commonwealth Public Service was suspended, but when upon inquiry it was found he was not guilty of the charges made against him, I presume his pay continued from the date of his suspension.
– That is provided for in the Public Service Act.
– It is quite the right thing to do; but the unfortunate man who is deprived of his licence on the charge that he has committed a breach of the law, and on appeal proves his innocence, gets no compensation for his lost time. The most rabid antiLabour man in this chamber cannot see any justice in this sub-section.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out. (Senator Duncan’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That proposed new section 12 be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new sections 13 to 17 agreed to.
Question - That proposed new section 18 (Dual applications, &c.) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new sections 19 to 22 agreed to. -
Question - That proposed new section 23 (Penalties) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Question - That proposed new section 24 (Regulations) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Continuance of existing licences).
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 he now read a third time.
Question put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 11.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 March 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290313_senate_11_120/>.