12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I understand that the right honorable the Prime Minister is making his statement this afternoon from some notes. I have not been supplied with a copy of his remarks, although it is. possible one may come to hand later.
– by leave-I desire to make a personal explanation. On the adjournment last night, the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) claimed that I had charged him with having inferred that members of the Public Accounts and Public Works Committees were out after money. The right honorable senator was good enough to supply me this morning with a Hansard pull ofhis speech, which I read carefully. I find that there was no justification whatever for my remarks last night, and I tender to the right honorable gentleman a very sincere apology for what I said.
Regulations and Rulings
– Owing to the great confusion that exists among traders of the Commonwealth because of the numerous regulations and rulings under the sales tax assessment acts, will the Government consider the advisability of publishing a codified set of regulations and rulings, particularly those dealing with the measures passed last August?
– I have endeavoured to secure the information which the honorable senator earlier intimated that he desired to obtain ; but, unfortunately, I have not been able to do so up to the present. I hope to be able to make a statement on the Adjournment.
Senator THOMPSON brought up the eighth report of the Printing Committee, and - by leave - moved -
That the reportbe adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I should like to know what are the lateat developments in the matter of the proposed wheat bounty of 6d. a bushel, and if the Government has come to a satisfactory arrangement with the banks in regard to the matter?
– I understand that a bill dealing with the bounty is being introduced in another place to-day.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The banks, at the request of the Premiers Conference held in Melbourne last month, agreed to advance to the Commonwealth an amount of £3,000,000 to provide bounty onthe export of wheat of the 1931-32 season, provided such bounty did not increase the price beyond 3s. per bushel, f.o.b. The Commonwealth Government, at the request of a conference of State Ministers of Agriculture and representatives of wheat-growers, held in Melbourne on the 16th October, has asked the banks to increase . the limit to 3s.6d. per bushel, f.o.b. If this request is approved, the increase will not involve the Government in any additional expenditure beyond the £3,000,000 proposed to be made available for payment of the bounty. Legislation to give effect to the scheme for payment of the bounty will be introduced in another place to-day.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it the intention nf the Government to carry out any shipbuilding on Cockatoo Island; if so, will the necessary money be granted this year or before May, 1932?
– For the present financial year, the Government has provided £42,000 towards the maintenance of Cockatoo Island Dockyard on a nucleus basis, and £10,000 for repairs to plant and buildings at the dockyard. Every effort is being made to secure shipbuilding for the dockyard, but so farno definite arrangements to that end have been entered into.
Position of Tasmania
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In the event of the shipping troublesnow existing on certain interstate steamers, at present in Melbourne and Sydney, extendingto the shipping service between Tasmania and the mainland, will the Government take such steps as will ensure the maintenance of the essential shipping services?
– A statement on the whole matter is being made by the Prime Minister to-day.
Cost of Flotation
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are at follow : -
The following papers were presented : -
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing assistance granted, to 30th September. 1931.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinance of 1931 -
No. 6 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No. 7 - Mortgagors’ Interest Reduction.
No. 8 - Firearms Registration.
No. 9 - Workmen’s Compensatios (No. 2).
Crown Lands Ordinance - Regulations.
Firearms Registration Ordinance - Regulations.
Motion (by Senator Hebbebt Hays) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Ogden on account of ill health.
Bill received from the House of Representative’s.
First Reading - -MARITIME and Meat Export Industrial Disputes.
Motion (by Senator Daly) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [3.11]. - I take it that this is u money bill on the first reading of which honorable senators are entitled to discuss matters which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. I avail myself of this opporunity to bring before the Senate and the Government the serious position which has been created in the shipping industry, and also in one of our great export industries - the meat export trade - by two disastrous strikes that have obviously been caused, and arc being fomented by the communist element in our midst. I regret that the Government has not taken the precaution to bring before the Senate to-day the statement which the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) has made in another place in regard to the shipping strike. I have not the terms of the right honorable gentleman’s statement before me, and am, therefore, unable to tate what he has said on this subject or what action, if any, the Government proposes to take in regard to it. This discussion will give the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) an opportunity to tell tho Senate what action, if any, the Government is taking and the view it holds with respect to these disastrous disputes which are so seriously interfering with the trade and commerce of this country. The two strikes to which I have referred are probably among the most unjustifiable that have ever occurred in this country, especially as they have occurred at a time when all our energies should bo devoted to keeping those industries which are at present in operation, still going and to preventing anything that will add to the unemployment at present prevailing, and the severe loss in the country’s revenue.
The shipping strike has been engineered by the communist element in our country, and is the direct outcome of communist propaganda. I have before me a document issued by the 3o-called marine transport section minority movement of Victoria, and the marine transport workers of Melbourne. It is dated the 16th October, 1931, and reads -
Once more the bosses are attacking, this time by victimization of the militant workers on the Canberra. Their tactics of sacking militants one at a time have failed this time, as the men refused to take the Canberra to sea unless this comrade was re-instated, with the result that all the firemen have been sacked. At a mass meeting held in Sydney to discuss the matter, it was decided, by an overwhelming majority, not to take her out until the victimized member was re-instated. In spite of repeated attempts by the owners to get men to man the Canberra they have failed to break, the spirit of the men, and now the bosses are going to try new tactics. The Dimboola, of the Melbourne Steamship Company, has been chartered by the Howard Smith Company, to take over the nin of the Canberra. This ship is at present in Melbourne, and preparations are being made to sail the ship on Saturday to take the place of the Canberra. The propaganda of the boss is being well circulated, and already a bosun and a few sailors have been picked up, and plans are being made to pick up more. Comrades, tho men in Sydney expect us to Stand by them, and we must not let them down. The seamen, at their meeting tb-day, must follow the lead given by the Sydney men, and also by the meat-workers-
Honorable senators will see the connexion between the two movements -
The Dimboola must not leave Melbourne. We stand for no victimization. Not One man must be picked up to take the strike-breaker Dimboola to sea. The seamen must set up a rank and file strike committee. The other marine transport workers must do likewise. AH sections must unite and set up a rank and file strike council. Not one nian. Not one bit of cargo must bc put on this ship until the Canberra is sailing with her original crew.
Issued by the Marine Transport Section Minority Movement, Victoria.
I have also an extract from the Maritime Worker, No. 19, dated, Sydney, 14th October, which reads -
Tlie Canberra has been tied up. This, aa a result of the company’s pig-headedness. Owing, to the usual sort of Paddy’s promotion. when in order tofit somebody into some place or other there is a general readjustment of rates of pay and nature of work, it was found necessary to reduce several of the vessel’s stokehole staff, and after all the readjustments Comrade Shelley, a well-known militant, was given the order of the sack.
I think we have heard of that name in Western Australia.
The time is not yet with us when the Seamen’s Union is willing to abide by every little whim and fancy of the owners, and their lackeys. Let this serve us as a means to accelerate the establishing of ship committees on board every ship and job committees on every job, in preparation for the struggle which we can foretell will be forced upon us. Join the minority movement!
What are the facts in this case? When a member of the crew of the Canberra was taken ill, the union was asked to supply a substitute. It supplied Schelley. When the man who was sick recovered the ship-owners wished to reinstate him in his position, and to that end discharged Schelley. The militant minority movement then called out the men, and hung up shipping for what it alleges was victimization. It wanted to victimize the man who was sick. This is the sort of thing which is inflicting a great loss upon the Commonwealth, adding to the number of unemployed, and seriously affecting the trade and commerce of this country. It would be ridiculous if it were not so tragic that at a time like this the minority members of a union are able to act in this way. I know that a moderate section of the union are strongly opposed to tactics of this kind. That is obvious from the reports of meetings held in Sydney and Melbourne. Some members of the union do not agree with the action taken by the minority section. The old tactics of the basher-gang employed in connexion with the timber-workers and other strikes are being adopted, and intimidation is being practised by the minority section in order to prevent the peaceful conduct of industry. It would be farcical if it were not so tragic that in a country like this, and at a time when unemployment is rampant a few men can inflict such hardships upon the community.
I come now to the other strike, which had its genesis in exactly the same way, having been engineered not by the officials of the union, but by a small minority of the slaughtermen in Melbourne, who submitted exorbitant demands, and when they could not be acceded to, called out the men, and declared the work black. By doing so they held up the operations of one of our most important export industries at a time when every £1 worth of exports assists our trade balance, bringing absolute ruin to a deserving class in this community who already were close to it. The meat exporters are not big capitalists; they comprise thousands of small farmers, who raise lambs for the export market. Their industry is now paralysed, and their living gone. If this export trade is held up for a few weeks the product becomes useless; crossbred lambs must be sold when they are marketed or they lose the whole of their value. As a matter of fact, according to the reports, quite a number of the lambs that were marketed died in the stockyards as a result of the action of these men. Is the community to remain supine and helpless in such circumstances? This is concrete evidence of definite action by Communists in our midst, whose declared aim is the destruction of society as we know it to-day. This is the quickest way in which they can destroy society. Everybody knows that, owing to the prevailing industrial conditions, and the fall that has taken place in the prices of our primary products, with the consequent dislocation of our public finances, Australia has been sailing very close to the rocks. Governments and industries have had a very hard task to keep the ship of State off the rooks; yet these fanatics seize upon such an occasion to precipitate this country into a fratricidal struggle, the only effect of which must be to add to our troubles, and make it even more difficult to steer the ship of State to safety. It is a crime against the community. Surely these individuals, who are a menace to the community, and whose only object is destruction, can be dealt with in some way! There is on our statute-book the Crimes Act, which was fiercely denounced while it was being enacted. It provides remedies for actions of this sort, and I suggest that the Government should seriously consider what steps may be taken to deal with these men who have inflicted this tremendous loss on the community. The officials of the union are not to blame in either case. They did not lend themselves to the action that has been taken, but on the contrary, I understand, deprecate it. Other unions also deprecate it. Apprently, it is the work of a mad militant minority, who do not caro what suffering they inflict on the unfortunate community.
I bring this matter forward in the hope that, if the Government is not able to take immediate action, public opinion may bc aroused against this minority movement. The public have remedies for this sort of thing, and I hope that they will be applied. This country cannot afford to suffer any longer from this midsummer madness.
– [ wish to stress the seriousness of the go-slow strike that has been inaugurated by slaughtermen in Melbourne, who have violated an agreement which does not expire until the 31st December next. They have flouted tho laws of this country, and have acted in defiance of their union officials. As a result of their mad action, 2,000 men were almost immediately thrown out of employment directly, and many more thousands will be penalized indirectly. These individuals are particularly misguided to act in this way at a time like the present, when the country is suffering so severely on account of the fact that the prices ruling for all our primary products are below the cost of production. Even lambs, which are selling relatively well compared with other primary products, are bringing only a reasonable price. They were the one bright spot in the great sheep industry, and promised to at least enable those who raised them to make a living. These individuals are striking, not because their wages have been reduced - they are no different from what they were on the 1st January last, although the wages of the workers in practically every other industry have since been very materially lowered - but actually to enforce their dr-mand for an increase of 20 per cent.
Giving reasons for the strike, Mr. Hogan, the Premier of Victoria, said -
An unsigned leaflet, typed and distributed from 200 Russell-street (the Communist Club), revealed that the Rank and File Committee were in close touch with the communists mid were carrying on thu pernicious policy of creating, fostering and maintaining industrial strife. It witu incredible that the members of tlie Ment Industry Employees Union, who paid union fees for the purpose of maintaining their union executive., should reject the advice of their officers, thu president and secretary of thu union, and follow the advice of anonymous people at the Communist Club.
Mr. Hogan went on to urge control by the union. Meanwhile the sales of lambs have been postponed, and the control of the dispute has been taken from the union executive by people who are not known to Mr. Hogan, and whose names he had never heard before. Mr. Ogilvie, the secretary of the Meat Employees Union, said -
The only basis upon which there could be any resumption of work was by the observance of the slaughtermen ami labourers of the present agreement, which did not expire until the 3lst December, 1931. He claimed that the rates of pay provided compared more than favorably with those paid in other industries and were the same as those ruling at the beginning of the year, whereas in other industries there had been material decrease.
Before the go-slow strike was instituted, the slaughtermen were accustomed to handle fourteen lambs an hour. They reduced that number to two. According to the secretary of the union, there has been a heavy mortality among the lambs that were sent down to be killed at the various freezing works in Victoria. I also quote the secretary as having said that before the lambs that could not be sold could be returned to the paddocks, hundreds died.
This go-slow strike has been instituted by communists at the very peak of the lamb season. In the week before last, S3,000 lambs were sold for export in Melbourne alone. The strike commenced at the time when the animals were at their best, and it will have a tremendously serious effect upon their unfortunate owners, who want every farthing that they can get. So do their storekeeper creditors, the banks with which they transact business, and Australia as a whole. This industry was growing very encouragingly.
– In the majority of cases, they are small farmers.
– Those who supply lambs for the export trade are men . with small flocks, numbering only a few hundred, compared with an average throughout Australia of 1,300. They were selling reasonably well. although not at a fictitious or an inflated value. I notice that the market in Melbourne dropped the week before last to the extent of 2s. a head. Lambs were then selling from 13s. to Ins., a few being sold, at 16s., while the average price was from 4£d. to 5d. per lb. for dressed carcasses. This country is dependent upon its primary producers, who are responsible for 97 per cent, of the annual value of our exports. They are also responsible for 75 per cent, of the total wealth produced in the Commonwealth, and, as I have said, this particular branch of the industry was doing very nicely. In September of this year, we put up a record by shipping £500,000 worth of fat lambs to the London market, but now, unfortunately, this valuable trade lias been disorganized right in the middle of the export season. In 1928-29, our lamb export trade was worth £.1,423,440, and of lamb and mutton, £2,166,043. In 1929- 30, we shipped over 2,000,000 carcasses of lamb, valued at £1,765,988, and of lamb and mutton, £2,3S6,186. ‘ In 1930- 31, this trade was valued at £2,105,959. There is room for considerable expansion, because our figures are a long way behind those relating to New Zealand, and this is one of the few industries which, on present prices, provides a living for the man on the land. Of late years, our breeders have been giving more attention to the type of fat lambs suitable for the export trade, and the improved prices obtained in the London market have been most encouraging. There is a good demand in all countries for young meat. Lamb is saleable at almost any time, whereas mutton is not in demand except at very much lower’ prices. The season has been a very good one in the northern part of Victoria and the Riverina where most of the fat lambs are produced. It is deplorable that such a valuable export trade should be jeopardized merely because of the demands of a comparatively few men who, it should be noted, are averaging £11 2s. per week in wages - about four times as much as thousands of men who are tramping the country can ever expect to earn. These people should not be allowed to hold up our export trade in this way. Drastic action should be taken against these agitators, some of whom are foreigners, and the majority of whom have no interest whatever in the country. Those agitators love neither their fellow men nor their country. Some -people might regard this go-slow strike as a matter of minor importance. Possibly they assume that it will be over in two or three weeks, because, if the men do not listen to reason, free labour will be called, and work will go on as usual. I hope there will be a call for free labour, because thousands of farmers’ sons are quite able and willing to kill lambs for the export trade, and I feel sure that they will offer their services. They may not be as speedy as the expert slaughtermen who have gone on strike, but they will soon learn the business, and it is to be hoped that they will replace these men permanently in order that the industry may bc continued. No farmer is making anything like £11 per week, and, moreover, he has to work IS hours a day compared with S hours worked by these slaughtermen. Delay in the settlement of this strike will be most serious, because the spring is setting in pretty dry in the Riverina and northern districts of Victoria, and already the grass is starting to seed. If these export lambs are turned out to grass, they will go back rapidly in condition, and their fleeces will get full of grass seeds. If they arc held for any length of time, they will have to be shorn and will lose much of their value as export lambs because, however careful a shearer may be, it is impossible to prevent a certain amount of bruising and cutting* of the carcass in the shed. Therefore, instead of being exported as prime lambs in the wool, they will be shipped as third grade lambs. A week’s delay may mean the loss of 100,000 carcasses. Deterioration will take place so rapidly that, instead of being sold on the London market as prime lamb, which realizes 7d. per lb., they will he sold as third grade lamb, and probably will not realize more than 5£d. per lb.; so that exporters will lose 2d. per lb. in the value of the carcass, and will also have to accept a lower price for the wool. Recently the Melbourne Herald launched a splendid advertising campaign in the interest of the fat lamb export trade, and I am pleased also to bc able to say that the Government experts, by advising growers of the suitable type of lamb for the London market, have been doing excellent work for some years. To further assist the industry, the Melbourne Harold suggested that Australian citizens with friends in Great Britain should purchase carcasses of prime lamb for shipment as Christmas gifts to friends in Great Britain. The idea has taken on very well indeed. Already no fewer than 3,000 spring lambs have been purchased under this scheme, and are to be shipped to friends in Great Britain. These 3,000 carcasses of prime Australian lambs will prove to be 3,000 splendid advertisements for Australia, and no doubt will help to still further improve our reputation as regards lambs in London. At present our export lambs realize from 1d. to1½d. par lb. below prime New Zealand lambs. This goslowstrike in the lamb export trade is a very serious matter. Not only will it mean heavy losses to the Australian breeders of fat lambs, but also heavy losses to employees in the industry, and many thousands of others who are dependent upon it for a living. It will also create a bad name for the Australian export lamb trade, and as we have keen competitors in the Argentine, New Zealand and other countries, it is important that nothing should be done to interfere with the regularity of shipments from Australia. Hitherto serious complaints have been made concerning the irregularity of supplies from this country, but as I have said, we were getting on very nicely when this trouble occurred, and there was. every prospect of a record season. Only this week I had a letter from a prominent official in London, pointing out that the improvement in the breed and get up of the Victorian lambs for export had been very noticeable, and that one individual breeder, Mr. Browning, of Yarrawonga, had for several years been obtaining even higher prices than those ruling for the primest Canterbury New Zealand lambs.
These lambs are just ready to kill, and they will be very much damaged, if not ruined, by this enforced delay.
An official report, dated 10th October, gives the following London prices for fat lambs : -
New Zealand, 83/8d. to 7½d. per lb.
Victoria, 7¾d. to7¼d. per lb.
Other Australian States, 73/8d. to 7d. per lb.
Argentine, 8¼d: to 7¼d. per lb.
The following prices were quoted for mutton : -
New Zealand, 5d. to 4¼d. (wethers) and 4d. to 3½d. (ewes).
It is not profitable to ship mutton at that price, but it is profitable to handle fat lambs at the existing rates. Last year New Zealand shipped to Great Britain 7,146,146 carcasses of lamb, and 2,557,326 carcasses of mutton. This trade is worth £10,000,000 per annum to the sister dominion. There are great possibilities ahead of Australia if she can develop the fat lamb industry. We have a climate, and 1,000,000 square miles of country with a 20-in. rainfall near the seaboard, suitable for fat-lamb raising. By improving our pastures we could become a very serious competitor for this trade. Last year we shipped abroad only about 2,000,000 carcasses, and they were nearly all from Victoria. It must be apparent to honorable senators, therefore, that this industry is well worth developing. With improved pastures and better breeding we can get much nearer to the New Zealand figures. The experts connected with the Departments of Agriculture in the different States are doing their best to encourage and foster this industry, and I believe that there is a great future ahead of us if we go to work in the right way. We were making very good progress until this unfortunate go-slow strike occurred. During thefirst three months of this financial year, that is, up to the end of September, we had shipped 850,000 carcasses to Great Britain, compared with 91,353 for the corresponding period of last year. The fat lambs we shipped abroad in September were valued at £500,000. This trade was of tremendous advantage not only to our farmers, but to the entire community, for the money was needed by the farmers, the storekeepers, the banks and the Commonwealth as a whole.
– The middle of October is the peak period. At present the lambs of the Riverina and Victoria are at their best.
– That is why these men have selected this time for the hold-up.
– That is so. They are not doing themselves any good, but are doing many other people irreparable harm. They are seriously injuring the farmers, and they are making it impossible for many men to get work which should be available to them. These strikers are doing great damage to Australia - a country which is far too good for them - and to everybody who lives here. In my opinion they enjoy far too much freedom. They should not be allowed to use this liberty to injure their fellow men. These men are violating our laws, ignoring the union covering their calling, and insulting the Government. They have broken their contracts as well as our laws. One could perhaps understand them acting in this way if their wages had been reduced, though they would still be acting wrongly, but that is not the case. They have not lost a penny in reduced wages, although practically every other class of workmen in the community has suffered a loss in this direction during this year. In my opinion it is high time that some drastic action was taken. These men should be taught a severe lesson. I have no sympathy whatever for them. They are earning colossal wages. We should pack them off to Russia or to some other country where they think they would get better treatment, though, of course, we know that they would not be treated nearly so well there as here. Senator Pearce mentioned that the men seem to think that by acting in this way they are injuring the big men ; but there are no big men in the fat lamb industry in Australia. As a matter of fact there are only 3,500 flocks of sheep of over 5,000 head in the whole of Australia. The average size of our flocks is 1,300 head ; but the average size of the flocks of the men producing fat lambs for export is well under 1,000 head, probably not above 500 head. Our farmers received practically nothing for their wheat, barley, and oats, and very little for their wool, and they were looking for a small income from their fat lambs. We see in the press that wool has brought up to 16d. and 17d. per lb.; but the average price will not be more than 9d. per lb. Up to date it is only 8d. per lb. for the whole of Australia. In Adelaide the average for the first series was less than 5d. per lb., and Sydney 6½d. per lb. ; but these low prices are not quoted in newspapers. Our farmers were relying on their fat lambs to bring them in some much needed money, but these callous brutes have held up the industry, and done irreparable damage, not only to their fellow men, but also to thecountry at large.
– It is almost unbelievable that at a time when the Commonwealth Government, the State Governments and the Opposition parties are doing their utmost to work in the closest co-operation to promote trade and commerce, a small section of the community should be allowed to flout the labour laws of the country and hold up our industries. Yet that very thing is happening to-day. To-day I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) whether the Government would reassure the people of Tasmania that essential shipping services between Tasmania and the mainland would be maintained. 1 asked the question because of the existing dispute in the shipping industry. I do not desire to be unfair to the honorable senator, but I think it was due to us that, as the Prime Minister was making a statement in another place in regard to the shipping dispute, a similar statement should have been made in this chamber. My question should not have been answered by merely stating that the Prime Minister was making a statement on the subject in another place. I regard that reply as evasive. Surely Senator Barnes could have obtained a copy of the statement which the Prime Minister made in the other House. Prior to the assumption of office by this
Government we were told by members of tho Labour party that many industrial disputes were occurring, and the industrialists, and the workers of this country generally, were being kept in a state of ferment because of the unsympathetic treatment of trade unionists, and unsatisfactory administration of our industrial laws by the Nationalist Government. lt was also said that if labour were returned to power it would appoint conciliation committees with the object of restoring and maintaining peace in industry. This is the first opportunity the Government has had to give some practical demonstration of its attitude towards a section of the community which is attempting to destroy the industries of the country. “We on this side have always declared that communists have been fomenting trouble in Australia, but we have invariably been assured by honorable senators opposite that there are no such people in Australia. The document quoted by Senator Pearce this afternoon confirms what we have had to say in regard to communists.
– The near communists are the worst.
– It is time we spoke plainly on the subject The Government cannot say that it has not had ample opportunity to deal with the matter. The Arbitration Act gives it the fullest and widest power to deal with any dispute, but during the eight years I have been a member of this Senate I have never heard one member of the Labour party take a definite stand and denounce the actions of that small minority which is always seeking to destroy the industries of the country. I do not go so far as to say that honorable senators opposite are abetting that small section, but their silence at a crisis such as this leads one to believe that they are afraid of taking the definite stand which the nation expects them to take at a time like this. It is only right that some Minister should tell the Senate where the Government stands in the matter, hut when these questions come up for consideration, the Government’s policy is to remain silent. Ministers are afraid to t».ke up that stand which they told the electors they would take. They have no longer the excuse to offer that they have no authority to act or that they have not the support of a majority in Parliament. They will have the co-operation of every honorable senator on this side of the chamber if they take appropriate action. I believe that every honorable senator will stand four-square behind them in any decided action they may take to end this trouble. Let them be up and doing, and the people will support them. Why should we, as members of the National Parliament, tolerate a Ministry that will not take a proper stand at a time like this? I have no desire to say anything likely to prevent a settlement of the existing dispute, but it seems to me that at the very first semblance of the breaking of the law, the Government should have given a lead to the people who have been driven almost to distraction. We know that half a million of the workers in Australia are idle to-day; yet a miserable minority, avowed enemies of the country, and, it the Government would only admit it, avowed enemies of theirs, is allowed to create further unemployment while the Government remains silent, afraid to take any drastic action in the matter. Although the people, I believe, regret it, they returned the Government to power to do certain things, and the Ministry cannot complain that it has not had ample opportunity to carry out its promises. Industrial matters was one of the great issues at the last election, and the Government made promises in regard to obedience to the arbitration laws which it is bound to carry out. I think that we should start a crusade in denunciation of a government that, at a time of national crisis, refuses to apply those laws to law-breakers who are seeking to destroy all the institutions we hold so dear. No ones knows better than do Ministers in the” Senate what a serious industrial dispute means to the country in its present financial position. They know that Australia is depending on the export of its surplus products to meet its obligations overseas. In the circumstances, I am not only disappointed at the evasive answer given to my questions this afternoon ; but I also resent the absence of the information for which I asked, although the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) had ample opportunity to get it, seeing that presumably a statement was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) in another place at least half an hour before the Senate met.I hope that when the Government does make a reply, the people will not be under any misapprehension as to what is intended to be done. When Ministers took the oath of office, they swore to see that the laws of this country were obeyed, and that law and order were maintained so that industries could be carried on; t hey swore that they would administer the laws of the country without fear or favour to any section of the people.
It was my intention to move the adjournment of the Senate to-morrow to discuss this subject, but this motion has proved an opportune time to ventilate it. The time occupied in discussing the matter cannot be ill-spent. I trust that there will be no evidence of weakness on the part of the Government, and that they will put these communists in their proper place, even to the extent of depriving them of any further opportunity to upset the industries of this country. If it is to bo a fight, let it be a fight to the finish. These men have no right to claim citizenship in a country like this. We have the fullest freedom and fairest industrial laws of any country in the world, yet we find them attempting to destroy our industries. I hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate will make some amends in regard to my question, and that he will let the Senate and the country be under no misapprehension as to the attitude the Government intends to take in regard to the maintenance of the industries of Australia, and particularly in regard to the action it proposes to take to end the present dispute.
– I am sorry that a debate on this subject has arisen, because Senator Herbert Hays did not get a reply to his question, but the honorable senator must realize that only yesterday a conference of the parties concerned in the present dispute was held in Melbourne, and it would not have been wise for the Government to make any prior announcement of its intentions.
– The conference has no bearing on the question I asked.
– The honorable senator linked up his question with the seamen’s trouble and the slaughtermen’s Trouble. Hehas attacked the Government because of its alleged weakness. There is no evidence of weakness, on the part of the Government. It stands for unionism. If this man Schelley is to take control out of the hands of the recognized organization, he will get what he deserves. This Government will back up genuine unionists.
– Rightly or wrongly ?
– They are always right. I admit that there is an influence at work in this country which is not for the good of the country.
– How do yon propose to deal with it?
– In the manner in which it should be dealt with. I arn an Australian, and I believe in the policy of “ Australia first.” This is an Australian Government, and it will not tolerate meddling or interference from any outside forces. This is the first job that this man Schelley has had for eight years. I understand that he took the place of a sick man. The genuine unionist does not stand for a man coming in and taking the place of a sick man, and insisting on retaining that position when the man is fit to resume.
– The seamen are obeying the instructions of the communists.
– I do not know what has taken place in that regard, nor that anything has occurred, other than I am about to relate. Schelley had taken the place of a sick seaman on the SS. Canberra. When that seaman was prepared to return to work after his health had been restored, Schelley refused to leave the job, and his fellow workers supported him. He had evidently made a fairly good impression on the others for them to insist that he should keep his job. That he wanted to retain his job was not fair to the sick man, nor to the genuine unionist. In these circumstances, there is no question as to what should be done. The whole matter should be referred to arbitration. The arbitration laws can become operative immediately. Unfortunately, the right honorable the Prime Minister had insufficient time to prepare a statement, and, in outlining the position in another place, spoke only from rough notes which have since been supplied to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes). I assure honorable senators that there is a diversity of opinion in the rank and file of the workers associated with this dispute. It is clear that several individuals are endeavouring to take advantage of the unfortunate position in which the workers of this country are at present placed, and to destroy the principle of unionism, of which this« country is proud. This Government will not countenance what is happening, and will make every effort to prevent a continuance of the dispute. The Government is giving the matter every attention, and honorable senators can rest assured that it does not propose to lend itself to tactics of this character.
– But prompt action is necessary.
– Prompt action has been taken. What do honorable senators opposite suggest should be done?
– The dispute hasbeen in existence for nearly a week.
-I do not think that that is so. A conference between the shipowners and the members of the union was held only yesterday, hut, unfortunately, Schelley and his followers are not prepared to abide by any decision which that conference may reach.
– The union has lost control of its members.
– I do not admit that. A section may have broken away from the union. It appears that Schelley has a following, and that there must he something more in the dispute than has been brought under our notice. I have received a communication from an official of the Stewards Union who, in opposing the strike, says that it is nothing short of imbecility for the seamen to cease work over a matter of this nature when there are hundreds of thousands of men out of employment.
– It is job control.
– It is going beyond that. It is unreasonable for an individual member to endeavour to destroy unionism by insisting upon his retention in employment at the expense of another man whose place he has been temporarily filling. I could understand the men advocating the reinstatement of a sick man, but to fight for the retention of a man who has only been temporarily employed cannot be justified.I cannot understand a body of workers taking such a stand.
– They are not workers but shirkers.
– I do not know anything about this man ;but if he has not had a job for eight years he cannot be a worker.
– What does the Government propose to do?
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– The Government is the first authority to move in the matter.
– Nothing of the sort; the honorable senator knows that.
– It is very easy for honorable senators to suggest that something should be done; that is practically all that has been suggested during the debate. This Government, which has done more than previous governments, is prepared to tackle problems of this nature, regardless of. the results.
– There have been fewer strikes while this Government has been in office than there were under previous’ administrations.
– And there has been a greater percentage of unemployment since this Government has been in office than was the case previously.
– This Government is not responsible for the unemployment which, unfortunately, prevails. Had this Government not been in power the percentage of unemployment would be greater than it is to-day.
– Unemployment has reduced the number of strikes.
– If an election were looming on the horizon I realize how pleased honorable senators opposite would be to have an industrial trouble such as this.
– I rise to a point of order. I regard the remark of the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) that honorable senators on this side of the chamber would be pleased if an industrial trouble such as this arose just prior to an election, as offensive, and nsk that it he withdrawn.
– If my remark has offended the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition, I withdraw it. The success of previous governments at election time has depended largely upon troubles on the waterfront. On the eve of every election the friends of the Nationalist party brought about trouble on the waterfront.
– Previous administrations prevented trouble on the waterfront.
– I do not admit that. The fact remains that troubles on the waterfront, which were so detrimental to the country, have occurred at a most convenient time for honorable senators opposite.
– Perhaps the Lang party has engineered this strike in order to embarrass the Government?
– I do not think that that party is responsible.
– Has the Assistant Minister read Senator Rae’s last article in the Rank and File?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Plain). - I ask honorable senators to cease interjecting.
– The Government has the whole matter in hand ; but it must be remembered that other governments have not been able to settle industrial disputes within 24 hours. If this dispute should develop a serious position may arise; but the Government has a thorough grip of the situation, and will do everything in its power to see that the trade and commerce of this country is carried on without interruption.
.- I am pleased that the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has introduced this subject. No greater injury could be done to Australia at this juncture than to allow any interference with industry, particularly in view of the distress which is prevalent throughout the Commonwealth. The Leader of the Opposition would have failed in his duty had he not raised this question, because it is absolutely essential that any dereliction of duty on the part of the Government should be made public.
– This is not dereliction of duty on the part of the Government.
– The Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) said that the Government intended to do all that is possible. Something should have been done before now.
-What should have been done?
– Protection should have been afforded by the Government to any men willing to carry on the shipping services of the country.
– What form of protection ?
– Instead of providing the necessary protection, the Government has been inactive in the matter. A statement which I made some time ago was referred to by the honorable senator as a bogy; but,as will be seen from a document from which I shall quote, it was nothing of the kind. It has been stated to-day that the communist element in Australia is undoubtedly responsible for the trouble we are experiencing, not only in the shipping industry, but also in connexion with the slaughtermen’s strike in Melbourne.
– The Assistant Minister admitted that.
– A short time ago when I read a statement showing that this movement is increasing in great strength I referred to the fact that the Australian Council of the Australian Railways Union had unanimously decided to seek immediate affiliation with the Red Internationale - a communistic body. For the information of honorable senators, I quote from a leaflet entitled The Striker, issued as far back as the 29th August, 1925, and published by the communist party of Australia. It reads -
If you can paralyse industry by folding your arms - why use arbitration?
Arbitration is tbe boss’s method of keeping industrial peace. It means a judge receiving £40 a week for bludgeoning you into starving your family on £4 a week.
The direct action of the railwaymen has accomplished in two days what the Arbitration Court failed to do in two years.
Remember! Labour politicians and union leaders voted for the wage reduction you are now reclaiming by strike!
Make every industrial fight a class issue. Always widen the basis of a dispute beyond your own craft union, and thus assist the development of revolutionary industrial unionism.
Throughout the maritime world, British seamen are striking against£1 a month wage reduction. The strike of the Queensland railwaymen and the British seamen is part of a great international class struggle: when we assist the sailors in the port of Brisbane we are assisting our class against exploitation.
To win a fight the boss depends on his bunk balance; we must depend on our class solidarity !
In Soviet Russia the working class own the industries. The didn’t arbitrate, they took them by force. The railwaymen control the network of railways, and the sailors control the shipping. We can do the same when we decide that capitalism must go. Wage reduction is only an expression of the system, why not abolish the cause?
Don’t sleep on the job - agitate! There are two classes of contented men in the world - dead men and fools.
It goes on to say -
Go back to the workshops with the intention of keeping the strike spirit alive. Don’t discuss the matter with the man who knows, but get right after theman with the sleeping sickness and wake him up!
Organize mid-day talks on the job - distribute revolutionary literature, particularly to the man who is opposed to your ideas. Form a workshop committee to control workshop a ffairs.
At every opportunity stress the class position of the workers, break down craft union barriers, and develop revolutionary industrial unionism.
Attend your union meetings regularly. Don’t be a ticket-holder, be an active fighter. Watch your union officials - they may be all right, but never give them an opportunity to go all wrong!
The communist party stands for an offensive fight in the matter of immediate demands - with the dictatorship of the proletariat as an ultimate objective.
You may disagree with the communist party - but where do you stand anyhow?
– That is nothing compared with what Senator Rae said the other day.
– Possibly not. Reference is made to the adoption of the Soviet system in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition quoted from a docu ment in connexion with this trouble. I have another, which reads -
The decision of the Melbourne seamen not to mau the Dimboola because of the fact that the ship-owners intended using it as a means of smashing the fighting spirit of the New South Wales seamen, who are on strike against the victimization of amember of the crew of the Canberra, demands immediate action on the part of the waterside workers of Melbourne.
The seamen have declared the Dimboola “ black “, which means that this ship should not be handled in any way by any section of the working class, and this decision is a call to the fighting spirit of the waterside workers, a call to the solidarity of all members of the working class, a call that must be answered by the waterside workers falling into line with the seamen.
The seamen have set up a rank-and-file strike committee to take full charge of the dispute, picket the ship, and to keep constant contact with Sydney. This must be followed by the waterside workers setting up a rankandfile strike committee, and link up with the seamen, and the meat workers, who are also fighting the boss’s tooth and nail.
Watersiders? Into line with Sydney and Melbourne seamen.
Set up a rank-and-file strike committee.
Dimboola’s cargo must not be handled.
All out on the waterfront under rank-and-file control.
Issued by the Marine Transport Section, Victorian M.M., 200 Russell-street, City.
That document proves conclusively that this menace, which has been referred to by Senator Daly as a hogy, and which has been similarly described by other (honorable senators of his party when occurrences of this nature have been brought before the Senate, is far from being a bogy; but, on the contrary, is a growing menace to the fair name of the Common wealth which should be sta mped out root and branch by whatever government happens to be in power.
– It is issued by the Marine Transport Section, Victorian Minority Movement, and has been distributed among the men on the waterfront in Melbourne.
– Why did not the honorable senator send it to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department?
– His party may have distributed it.
– The suggestion of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) that the party to which the members of the Opposition in the Senate belong may have conspired to have such a document printed is worthy of him.
– I would not put it past you.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) . - I ask honorable senators to conduct the debate on a somewhat different basis.
– Such a suggestion would cause any one to lose control of himself. The Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) has referred to the man who was the originator of the trouble. .His name is Schelley, and I have it on the best of authority that he is not an Australian, but a naturalized German.
– According to my information, he is a naturalized British subject.
– He is a German who has become naturalized. The time has arrived when the gloves have to he taken off. A little while ago the present Government appealed to the people of Australia to act patriotically by coming to the rescue of their beloved country, and making sacrifices. The response was such that both the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) said -
We are proud of the way in which the people of Australia have responded, at much cost and privation to themselves, to the appeal that we have had to make on behalf of the country for financial assistance.
The object of that appeal was to bring about a better condition of affairs, so as so make it easier to rehabilitate ourselves. It was hoped that we would gradually regain normality, and eventually wipe out the distress that is evident throughout this fair land. Does any one suggest that, after the ‘sacrifices that- have been made in that and many other directions, any government is justified in standing idly by while this menace is so obvious? Unless it be checked, much of the good work that has been done in the last few months will be undone. A government that did not take every step open to it to correct the position would be unworthy to hold office. If necessary, let the Government bring in legislation immediately to deal with this matter. No matter how drastic it might be, every member of the Opposition in the Senate would support it. I believe, however, that the Government already possesses the necessary power. I make no suggestion as to why it has failed to exercise that power. It should recognize the right of the people of Australia to demand action that will not only scotch, but kill, this evil thing. Until that is done, we shall continue to have trouble. It is of no use to adopt half measures in dealing with such a menace ; we must go the whole hog, and remove the cancer from our political and social life.
I appreciate the action that has been taken by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) this afternoon, and associate myself with the views that have been expressed by him as well as by Senator Herbert Hays. I hope that the outcome of this debate will be that the Government will realize that it is its duty to take action without further delay.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [4.27]. - Senator Herbert Hays drew attention to the inaction of the Government in dealing with this trouble on the waterfront in Sydney, and also pointed out that no member of the Government had seen fit to reply to the statements that had been made. Since then, however, one Minister has spoken. In the course of his remarks, he repeated a statement made by Senator Pearce, that the whole of this trouble was due to one man, who had been given temporary employment on the Canberra, and was unreasonably demanding that lie should be continued in that employment. Such an admission is an indication that the Government is in possession of the facts. Had it taken strong action early in the dispute, it might have prevented the trouble from spreading.
– What action could it have taken?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The honorable senator will be told a little later. The attitude of the Government is what one would expect it to adopt towards troubles of this character. It has always been weak in its dealings with industrial upheavals. When the party that now occupies the treasury bench was in opposition, there was trouble on the waterfront. The whole of its members then knew that the men were striking against an award of the court, and were flouting the laws of this country, yet they declined to give advice that might have induced them to carry on their lawful occupations. The Government is now asking what action it should take to deal with the present trouble. Had the statement been made earlier in the dispute that the claim of this man Schelley was unreasonable, and that the Government would see that the trade of this country was1 carried on lawfully, I feel sure that ‘ those who are now in control of the affairs of the union concerned, would not have become nearly so powerful. The strike has been continuing for over a week, yet no statement has been made by the Government in regard to it. I direct the attention of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) to the fact that Mr. Hogan, the Labour Premier of Victoria, has taken action to deal with the strike of meat workers in Melbourne. That gentleman told the strikers plainly that it was their duty to return to work. Has there ever been a strike that was more unjustified than this ? Australia’s trade is at a very low ebb. Business men and those who are responsible for the maintenance of our transport facilities are ‘ having considerable difficulty in making ends meet. Yet those who are in control of the Seamen’s Union in Sydney a,re holding up the whole of our trade, so that one very militant person may li*.’ given employment !
Discussing the trouble in Victoria, Senator Guthrie showed how necessary it was for our lambs to arrive on the market in England before it became glutted with lambs from South America and New Zealand, and in sufficient time to be available for the Christmas trade. As everybody knows, our lambs have to be treated in their bloom, so that when they arrive on the overseas markets they may compare favorably with those that are exported from other countries. It is a scathing commentary on our industrial system, that men who have been awarded certain wages; and who are protected in regard to the conditions under which they labour, can succeed in holding up the whole of the trade of this country by abusing the privileges that have been given to them. I remind honorable senators opposite that it is not the meat works proprietor who really employs these men, but the small farmer in the country, and it is against him that they are aiming this blow. Nobody knows better than the Leader of the Government, and the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley), the condition of primary production in this country. The farmer and the grazier are producing for export, but are making no profit out of their operations. Their employees are receiving a much lower wage than is paid to the men who are working on the waterfront and in the ships. Both the primary producer and his employee receive very little reward for their labour, but the wages of waterside workers and seamen are now very little below what they were when they reached their peak. It is a terrible thing that these men should bo allowed to levy such a heavy toll on the unfortunate people in the country, who are producing and exporting almost sufficient to enable us to pay our way overseas. I am surprised that the Government should remain inactive in such circumstances. In* Melbourne, undoubtedly, the unionists have taken advantage of the fact that the lamb export season is at its peak. They know that lambs in prime condition for export must be treated immediately, otherwise, as Senator Guthrie has pointed out, they rapidly deteriorate in condition. Knowing all this, the men concerned in this “go-slow” strike believe that they can hold both employers and producers to ransom. I hope that the Government will take drastic action to put an end to this trouble. I realize that if there is a call for volunteers, men who might feel inclined to offer will remember the treatment meted out by the Government to volunteers during the strike on the waterfront, and, perhaps, will fear a similar fate.
– Does the honorable senator think that it is the Government’s duty to call for volunteers to man the ships?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Certainly, because it is the duty of the Government to see that the lawful trade of the country is carried on without interruption. Does the Leader of the Senate say that the Government has no responsibility in this matter; that it should not take action against these people who are offending against our industrial laws and, while refusing to work themselves, are also preventing their fellow unionists from obtaining employment? The secretary of the Marine Stewards Union has directed attention to what he describes as the imbecility of the action taken by the Seamen’s Union, and has told that organization - to cease its farcical display and get back to work. A similar view of the trouble is taken by the Waterside Workers Federation, which has declared itself against this strike. Even if this Government were not concerned about the public interest one would think that it would at least have some consideration for the interests of trade unionists who are prevented from continuing in their employment by this wholly unjustifiable strike of the Seamen’s Union. I hope that the Government will take immediate steps to enable the shipping companies to man their ships and allow the lawful trade of this country to be carried on.
– Before referring to recent happenings in Sydney and Melbourne, it might be well for me to invite the attention of honorable senators to the latest definition of a strike, and its political 1 significance. We have just had it from the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) who told us that strikes are engineered by the Nationalist party, the Country party, and other sections opposed to Labour, meaning, of course, that the strike weapon has been secretly contrived by the parties opposed to Labour in order to ensure their political success. If this latest definition of a strike is to be accepted, I shall have to learn anew all the principles governing political life and action. But I remind the Leader of the Senate that his colleague in the Ministry, the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore), some time ago took the platform in New South Wales, and in a speech in Balmain, or the Town Hall, Sydney, declared that if members of the police force, or officers of the law, whose duty it is to see that strikes are not effective, carried out their duty, they would be marked down for suitable punishment when Labour was returned to power. How can we reconcile these two declarations? Ministers cannot have it both ways. So much for the alleged definition of a strike, and the double meaning given to it by ministerial colleagues.
In Sydney, laws framed entirely in the interests of the working classes are simply ignored by a band of agitators who place themselves above the law, and a Labour-made law at that. Perhaps this is understandable because we are living in the Antipodes, where conditions in the animal and vegetable kingdoms are unlike those in other lands. In Australia, for instance, the trees shed their bark instead of their leaves, so, perhaps, it is only to be expected that a government, instead of governing, should allow the affairs of this country t’o be controlled by a set of wild and lawless men, who are the real governors of the country. These irresponsible agitators and disturbers of the peace, in both Sydney and Melbourne, have deliberately combined to interfere with the progress of trade and injure the interests of the community. Meanwhile, this Government looks on and does nothing. Is the well-being of our citizens of no concern to this Ministry? We are entitled to assume that it is not, otherwise, Ministers would take prompt and effective action to check these lawless violators of industrial peace. When a government fails to govern it deserves to forfeit the confidence of the people. When a man undertakes a journey naturally he expects to get to his journey’s end. Similarly, a man who spends the greater part of the year producing something, expects that nothing will be done to prevent it reaching the world’s market in the shortest possible time end. in the best possible condition. This ih hi3 right, because his produce is his labour in concrete form. Need we be surprised, therefore, if he evinces some concern at the spectacle of a body of irresponsible mon taking charge of it and, by their action in delaying shipment and other processes, . rendering it absolutely valueless? That is what is happening in Melbourne. Lambs bred for export, the result of the farmer’s hard labour, are sacrificed before their very eyes. I suppose that, according to the canons of a certain brand of unionists, this is right and lawful and beyond censure! Perhaps also it is regarded as natural justice! But that is not my conception of the law. And certainly it is not the treatment that one would expect to be served out to any section of the community under a democracy. But, unhappily, we are living under a democracy controlled by a privileged industrial class, and as a result these industrial brigands take the law into their own hands, and ruthlessly trample on the rights of their free fellow citizens. Apparently, this Government is wholly unconcerned about the losses sustained by citizens, the fruits of whose labour are so callously sacrificed. What kind of a government is this? Is it really a government, or merely a pretence and a sham? It is a sham government, or even worse. A government that is false to its responsibility and to its solemn duty becomes an object of contempt and derision in the eyes of every self-respecting citizen. These lambs, which have been sacrificed through the action of militant industrialists, represent portion of our overseas trade upon which we depend for the discharge of our overseas obligations. It is, therefore, a matter of no small concern to the people of this country that any band of lawless men should be allowed to render it entirely worthless. This is not justice - it is the kind of treatment that one might expect in a country without properly constituted laws for the government of its people ; and apparently, this is what we must expect in Australia until we get a government that will govern. This Government, instead of penalizing these brigands, appears disposed to condone these acts of lawlessness.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn. This Government is not in favour of men who are guilty of lawless acts.
– The honorable senator must withdraw the statement complained of.
– I withdraw it, Mr. President, but I should like Senator Daly to define what is an unlawful act. Will he dare to say that the men who are out on strike in Sydney and Melbourne are not acting unlawfully? Something should be done to bring these unlawful brutes to book. Senator Daly cannot deny that these men are acting unlawfully, and that the Government is standing by like a tailor’s dummy, doing nothing.
– I rise to a point of order. The statement that the Government is standing by like a tailor’s dummy is a reflection on the Government, and offensive to me. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The statement is reflection upon the dummy.
– I also take exception to that remark, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– Any honorable senator who feels himself aggrieved or injured by an expression used by another honorable senator is entitled to rise in his place and ask that it be withdrawn.I must ask honorable senators to avoid wilfully hurting the feelings of other honorable senators, either in this or in any other debate in this chamber. It is my duty to protect honorable senators from such attacks. It should be easy for an honorable senator to express himself strongly without being discourteous.
– I agree with you, Mr. President ; but I point out that some honorable senators imagine themselves to be aggrieved, when they are not really hurt. Although the Standing Orders leave a lot. to the imagination, I realize that I must obey them. But I still adhere to my statement that these men in Sydney and Melbourne are acting unlawfully, and are inflicting untold hardship and misery upon innocent people. They are bringing suffering upon the lawful workers of this country, left and right, north and south, and east and west; and this Government is not raising a little finger against them. These law-breakers are sheltered, whilst our law-abiding citizens are allowed to suffer. This should not be tolerated. The democracy of this country is like a huge elephant, which allows itself to be taunted, goaded and tormented by irresponsible insects. But surely the time has come when the people should rise in their own defence.
– The honorable senator has not yet withdrawn his remark about the tailor’s dummy.
– I withdraw it. Would our Constitution have been adopted had it contained a provision to the following effect: -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, it shall be lawful for any body of persons to rebel openly against any industrial law passed under this Constitution, and to bring industry and commerce to a dead stop without being guilty of any offence whatsoever.
Does any one imagine that it would have been accepted ? I voted in favour of the acceptance of the present Constitution, but it did not contain a provision similar to the one that I have imagined. Yet that is exactly what is now being done. No one ever dreamed that any body of persons would be able to smash the laws of this country, and to bring suffering and oppression upon a large body of our people, and yet escape scot-free. The imaginary provision of the Constitution which I have quoted exactly describes the conduct of these men in Melbourne and Sydney. They are openly breaking the law. It was never intended that any one should be able so seriously to infringe the liberty of the subject, so flagrantly to break our laws and still escape. No one can deny that to-day the law is being treated with contumely. In. these circumstances, it is high time for society to protect itself. Although these men are rebelling against the industrial laws of Australia, and bringing untold misery upon unoffending people, the Government: (teems powerless to punish them as they richly deserve to be punished. What is happening to-day on the sea front has happened again and again on Other occasions in this country. Time other time the little island State of Tasmania has been cut off from the rest of the Australian community, and has been left like a beleaguered city, because a body of men have constituted themselves the supreme authority over our shipping. No wonder Tasmania finds it difficult to process. Not once or twice, but many times, these men have withdrawn all shipping facilities between the mainland and Tasmania, and the Commonwealth has. done very little to remedy the position. Western Australia has also suffered through the unlawful acts of the waterside workers. Many of my unfortunate fellow citizens in Western Australia have worked early and late in the interior of the State to grow produce for shipment . overseas. Their goods have been sent to the seaboard, only to be left there to rot. The producers do not work by clocks and watches; they work as long as they have any strength left in their bodies, and time after time the product of their labour has been ruined because a mere handful of men on the waterfront has refused to put it aboard ship.
Is the Government doing anything te denounce and punish these people? It appears to me that neither the Government nor its supporters cares a cent about what is happening. Some half-hearted protests have been made, but the denunciation of these men by the Government and its supporters has been spasmodic. Nothing systematic has been done to bring retribution upon these people who are destroying the reputation of Australis and. ruining her most industrious citizens. These men have no interest whatever is the welfare of the Commonwealth. The? would drag our people down to the lowest standard of living that we have evm known. It is time that the Government did its duty, even though it be the first time that it did it. Unless prompt and salutary action is taken against these miscreants, the democracy of this country will he. ruined. No democracy can stand for long if lawless men are allowed to inflict pain and misery upon lawful citizens. Otherwise what virtue is there in a democracy? These men are miscreants of the worst type. They are tolerated outlaws, who are thriving upon the patience of our people. But this exploitation shouldbe stopped. We cannot have the trade aud commerce of the country brought to a standstill every few weeks. A conti nuance of that policy will very soon wreck Australia. I should be false to my duty to the people of Western Australia if I did not protest against this kind of thing as long as I. have breath in my body. The industrious and law-abiding elements in the community cannot be allowed to remain the victims of these social wreckers. Effective action was taken by the previous Government to maintain peace on the waterfront. The former Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) was responsible for the introduction of a policy which maintained peace. But these men have since been allowed to break the Beeby award, and to do many other lawless things. Men of this type, I remind honorable senators, scabbed on me in the old days. At that time they could not be got to strike to remedy legitimate grievances; but now the beggars cannot be stopped from striking for jio visible or sound reason. Their action in bringing the trade and commerce of the continent to a standstill, and inflicting untold misery upon tens of thousands of people must be punished as it can be. The previous Government brought these men up with a round turn after they had had an almost uninterrupted run of lawlessness over a number of years.
It is most extraordinary, as well as most unpleasant, that Australia, which, in order to make any progress at all, must ship its produce to the markets of the world, should be subjected to this lawlessness. Our distance from the world’s markets is a great and standing handicap to our producers; but we should not add to this handicap by allowing irresponsible seamen and wharf labourers to do as they like. Do honorable senators realize that it costs the Australian farmers as much to bring a bushel of wheat from a point 200 miles inland to the Australian seaboard as it costs the American farmers to send a bushel of wheat from Chicago to Liverpool, 1,000 miles by land and 3,000 miles by sea ? It costs us very much more to get our produce to the world’s markets than it does the people of Argentine and Canada and all other competitors. Yet on top of this our producers are expected to suffer the additional and almost insuperable handicap of placing their produce in the hands of lawless scoundrels, who care for nothing but their own selfish interests. We cannot allow the wealth of this country to be wasted. I have said that the Australian public might be likened to a huge elephant which suffers, without protest, the annoyances of the insects which torment it. It is time that this huge animal rose in its might and, once and for all brushed these pestiferous insects from its tortured body. We should permit the work on our waterfront to be done by volunteer labourers, who would certainly do it better and at less cost than the wreckers who are now supposed to be doing it. If the Government had even the suggestion of a backbone, it would grapple with this situation.
Unless we do something to show that we really value this great continent, we shall certainly lose it. The time will come when an international authority, such as the League of Nations, will ask us what we are doing to develop Australia. We may be able to say that we are cultivating its fields and preparing produce for the world’s markets, but Ave shall not be able to deny that time after time the lawless elements in our community have had the upper hand and have made it impossible for us to sell our produce. The only justification that any people in the wide world can have for holding anything is that they are using it. If any member of the Government had a mining claim he would be iii danger of losing it within 24 hours if he ceased work upon it. Farmers cannot expect to hold their farms unless they work them, and men who are licensed to develop fishing areas must develop them or lose them. Similarly Ave must develop this continent, or we cannot expect to hold it; and Ave certainly cannot develop it while Ave allow a lawless band to take charge of an essential service. We might well be asked how it is that people are leaving Australia when there is such a great need for population here. The situation is being watched, and the question will be asked of us sooner or later, whether Ave can expect to be allowed to remain in occupation of this wonderful land, idling away our time and yet warn others off. Tolstoi stated in one of his works that hungry COWS, kept within a fenced area devoid of grass, which saw on the other side of the fence succulent pastures, would one day burst the fences which separated them from the fodder which they so greatly needed. There are cows - and I do not use the word offensively, but merely in the Tolstoian sense - which are kept out of Australia, but who can see succulent grasses up to the bellies of other cows in this country; and unless steps are taken to make full use of the advantages of this great country, they will one day burst the fences which keep them out of its fruitful pastures. It is scandalous that refugees and others who have come to Australia from abroad should be allowed without hindrance to preach their malignant doctrines in every rank and grade of society, while the Government stands idle and’ does nothing to protect the interests of our citizens. These destructive doctrines should not be uttered in this glorious country. At any rate those who utter them should not be allowed to go scot-free. I have sometimes listened to the ranting of irresponsible babblers in the Sydney Domain, and on the Yarra bank. It would really seem from what they say that there is a penalty of seven years for every public speaker who does not say things sufficiently outrageous. Nothing is too sacred to escape their villainous attention. In a glorious land like this with so much liberty, where men have risen from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest, scoundrels who do not understand the first principles of liberty, and are doing their level best to destroy it, to blast it, to send it out of existence, get all the sympathy, all the patting on the back, all the fondling; not an unkind word is said against them. I say to the Government, “If you will not take action against these men, get out of the way and let others put these men in their proper, places - these people who have done so much mischief in their incitement to unlawful and unsocial acts.” A government has civic obligations to discharge. Let our Government discharge those obligations. It is ready enough to take steps to punish any humble ordinary citizen for simple offences. Let it do the same in regard to the men who are holding tip “the commerce of Melbourne and Sydney. If a stranger from overseas landed in Melbourne or Sydney and saw all trade held up, he would ask, “Why are these trucks filled with lambs being sent back to the country, half of them in a dying condition?” He would be told that a band of men would not work for £11 a week - there are some poor devils who do not get lid. per week - and if he had any commonsense he would then ask, “ Have you not a government in this country?” The reply would be, “Yes, we have a Labour Government,” and, of course, if he came from a country where a Labour Government existed he would say - “ That explains it. These men can do what they please.” But if he were anxious to see a restoration of business, he would ask, “ Have these men, who have £11 a week, no remedy?” The answer would be, “ Of course they have a court with doors as wide open as a church. They can go to it to-morrow morning.” Why do they not go to that court? Because they would rather levy blackmail on society. And our Government connives at their attitude, or at any rate displays as much spirit as an Egyptian mummy in dealing with these flagrant law breakers.
I have quoted figures to show that Australia was formerly in a better position than Canada, that our credit was better than that of Canada, hut now Canada’s credit is like gold in the eye* of the world. Canada can approach the New York market and borrow at 4 per . cent., whereas if Australia appeared within 1,000 miles of Wall-street it would be under suspicion. It cannot borrow anywhere, largely, if not principally, because of the actions of these wild lawless men who like serpents have been taken to the breasts of the Government in power.
If we carry on in this way we have no right to hold this country. Our sole claim to hold it is based on our efforts to put it to its maximum use. If an appeal were made to the League of Nations against an aggressor, its answer would be, “ Go back and work your country under the conditions that labour lays down for the individual who is working a mining lease or an agricultural plot. Do your job. If you do not do it open your seaports and let others get in. If you do not do it, we shall make, you do it.” This lesson has been preached in season and out of season, hut those who preach it are said not to be as sympathetic with the workers as are members of the Labour party. Despite the protestations and vapourings on public platforms of supporters and. advocates of labour, they are not the only people in this country who have bleeding hearts for the genuine worker. It is utter nonsense to say that labour men have a monopoly of sympathy with the worker. Every honorable senator on this side of the chamber sprang from the ranks of the workers and has been a worker himself, and is to-day working an individual proposition in some part of Australia, where every one can gaze at it; whereas representatives of labour do not engage in any undertaking worth speaking about upon which daylight can be shed. They prefer gilt-edged securities, and get others to do the hard work for them. They are like an ex-Labour Minister of Western Australia, who as Minister paid workers on the roads £4 15s. a week, but on his own farm paid only £2 a week to a man and his wife. Another ex-Labour Minister of Western Australia was always applying the grossest of epithets to a certain class of European labour, although the country of origin of that labour was civilized, and ruling the world when men of his breed were going to war with painted unclad bodies in chariots. I have not 5s. in the world, but if ever I am anxious to be put on to a real good gilt-edged security, I shall seek the advice of one of the later day labour nien. They know where they can get the best security for their money, yet when they are on the hustings they are always ready to denounce the boss who grinds out dividends for them. I know these men from A to Z. Do not ask them to engage in business or come in actual contact with manual labour. They have on their platform the policy of day labour in contracts, yet the Trades Halls of Perth and Queensland were built by contract. We cannot have ft garden of Eden without working for it. We must strive for what we get. Success depends on individual effort. By that means alone can we turn the corner and get once more on the road to prosperity in this country.
If tho Government thinks that it can carry on in this easy going way, and take no notice of these law breakers, the writing on the wall is plain. Out they will go bag and baggage. Even at this the eleventh hour, let them rise like the older Labour men rose. Senator Barnes has been over* many a dry gully. He remembers that when the old Labour men made promises, they stuck to them no matter -what happened. His long, chequered career has taught him that this country has been built up, not’ by the efforts of those who lean upon governments, but by the industry of the pioneers who worked out their own salvation. Is it a true democracy when, with impunity, a section can hold up two steamers? If it is, God help the country. It is the first step towards the country’s downfall. Aristotle said that the bane of democracy are the demagogues that go about with leather lungs - Aristotle did not say that but meant it - trying to persuade the people against their will that they are their benefactors. Looking back over the years that had passed, Aristotle spoke of democracies that had risen and decayed to give way to the tyrants. Who were the best friends of the tyrants? Demagogues such as we have in Australia leading strikes in Melbourne and Sydney.” Our school books tell us that the one enemy of democracy is the demagogue; damned scoundrels who go round the country-
– Order !
– I apologize. These good democrats go about upsetting the product of the best work of our forefathers, the men who laboured so long to give us the glorious liberty we now enjoy. These men are now doing their best to trample it in the mud. What can justify the silence of the Government to-day unless it be its own imbecility? Its vacillation will bring it to a dishonoured end. It cannot go on as it is doing. Sooner or later the people will rise in their wrath and hurl it from power, as they will hurl from power any government that does not give them a fair deal. Such is the proud spirit that animates the people who have sprung from our pioneering stock that they will not allow this heritage . of ours to go for nothing, or to be controlled by an evil designing and irresponsible body. The fighting spirit of the Anzacs is still among us. The trouble is to restore to the breasts of Labour men the tenacity of purpose that characterized their predecessors. Former Labour men would not stand the dictation of Johnnycomelatelies who do nothing to improve or advance the country, and whose only object is to get out of the Labour movement all they can. I ask the Government to stand up to their job, to be firm with friend or foe alike, and to be guided by a desire to restore prosperity to their country, and to maintain the glorious freedom given to us by our forefathers.
– The facts, which have been forcibly f ocussed by various speakers, and picturesquely ornamented by others, call for drastic and immediate action. The Government is charged with the duty of protecting Australia’s overseas trade; it is under statutory obligation to carry out that duty; but all that we have had from the Government this afternoon is a half-hearted statement by Senator Dooley that the matter is under consideration, and that some action will be taken. When from time to time the Senate, in furtherance of the interests of those men who obeyed the law and came to the rescue of this country, has disallowed waterside workers regulations, within a few minutes, the Government, in the interests of the other group who did not abide by the law, moved expeditiously enough, and immediately proclaimed other sets of regulations. One is justified in asking if there is not one law for the law-breaker and another for those who abide by the law. Facilities are at the disposal of the Government to deal with the situation which has now arisen, and which is holding up our interstate and overseas trade. A week has passed and the Executive has not met, a proclamation has not been issued under the Crimes Act - a weapon ready at the Government’s hands.
– What action could be taken ?
– Apparently, the Government is afraid to enforce the provisions of the Crimes Act in order to relieve the people, and particularly the primary producers of this country. The Crimes Act contains a provision intended to meet such a case as has now arisen in connexion with our lamb export trade. It is not my intention to dwell upon the enormity of the crime which has been perpetrated against Australia, and particularly the primary producers, and which constitutes a grave offence against State laws, and seriously affects the economic position of the Commonwealth. Section 30j of the Crimes Act, which was framed to meet such a position, reads -
If the issue of a proclamation were necessary to deal with the waterside workers’ regulations, the Attorney-General would lose, no time in waiting upon . His Excellency, the Governor-General; but when it is a matter of issuing a proclamation to protect the primary producers of this country and to ensure that the overseas trade and commerce of this country shall be safeguarded, the issue of a proclamation is not mentioned. I suppose the Prime Minister would stand aghast at the suggestion that action should be taken under the Crimes Act.
– This Government has been directed to repeal the Crime6 Act.
– I have quoted a portion of a provision in the statute law which this Government is charged with the responsibility of administering. The Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) asked what the Government could do in the matter. It is so afraid of the position that exists that it says that it is impotent. The section continues -
Any person who, during the operation of such proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to, urges, aids or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lockout or strike -
There is a complete code upon whichthe Government should act.
– And Schelley should go.
– He should go; the Government must like this man. The Government is absolutely craven; it is afraid to administer the laws of this country. If the Government studied this matter from the proper viewpoint, and acted as it should, every honorable senator on this side of the chamber would be behind it. It should give effect to the provision which I have just quoted. The necessity for the Crimes Act was never more apparent than it is to-day when this country is being imperilled by action of this character. I do not suggest that the trade union movement is responsible, but a section of trade unionism is undoubtedly wielding more power than the Government or a majority of trades unions are able to exercise. I have seen this trouble developing for several weeks. The members of this Administration have been referred to as mummies. They resemble mummies in more than one respect. They are absolutely silent; they have no defence. The Assistant Minister said that the law would be administered; hut what has the Government been doing during the last week? It, has been sitting quietly by without making any pronouncement as to its policy. It has not attempted to discourage those responsible, or intimated that it would use thestrong arm of the law to endeavour to help Australia out of the morass.
– This is the first time that the matter has been mentioned by the Opposition.
– Questions have been asked almost daily.
– Is the Government of this country so craven, so beref t of all resources that it has to come to the Opposition for advice? The Government is absolutely afraid to act in the matter.
– It is not afraid to act promptly when regulations issued under the Transport Worker? Act are disallowed.
– No; when it is a matter of issuing waterside workers’ regulations, the Attorney-General does not appealto the Opposition for assistance, but marches straight out to Yarralumla with the necessary paraphernalia in order to have regulations proclaimed in substitution of those disallowed by the Senate. When it is a matter of upholding the laws of the country, the Government desires to support the lawless.
– The remark that the Government desires to support the lawless is offensive to me as a member of the Government, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I suggest that the honorable senator couch his remarks in parliamentary language.
– The Assistant Minister did not grasp the point that I was making. I was contending that the waterside workers, whom the Government seeks to protect, have been guilty of acts of lawlessness unparalleled in the history of this country. When this chamber has disallowed regulations issued under the Transport Workers Act in order to provide volunteers who have always stood by law and order with a means to obtain employment, the Government has immediately issued new regulations in the interests of those who have been guilty of acts of lawlessness. The men responsible for the hold up of shipping and who are imperilling the nation’s interests could not be guilty of a greater economic crime. The Government suggests that the Opposition should advise it how to protect the interests of this country. J venture to say that if the Crown Law authorities were consulted, they would promptly refer the Government to the section of the Crimes Act which I have quoted. The Government is afraid to move. What has already happened is only part of a preconceived scheme. The members of the Government are silent, as also are the “ heavenly twins “ - Senators Rae and Dunn - who are well aware that a movement is on foot to destroy our overseas and internal commerce. The Government is afraid of the consequence of administering the law. In August last, a statement was published in one of Australia’s leading journals which, I think, should have brought to the mind of the Government the fact that it is losing control of the situation. A contributor to the Sydney
Bulletin, who signs himself “ Quack,” writes -
A few weeks ago, I, being a medico, was summoned to a ship tied up to a bunker wharf. I found a sailor suffering from a minor ailment, which necessitated 48 hours off. duty. The vessel waa due to sail in two hours. If it sailed without my patient, he lost his job, the first he had had for many months. He earnestly requested the .captain to allow him to remain on board. His mates agreed to do his work for two days. Everything was arranged. Then the union secretary came on hoard - held the ship up, and ordered my patient ashore. The patient lost his job. The shipping company lost a considerable sum of money from the delay caused in obtaining another man. Everybody from the captain down bowed to the ukase of the ruler of the land, the union secretary, without protest or comment.
This Government is bowing to these people from whom it is receiving instructions.
– -That is nonsense.
– It is the truth. The Government will not tackle the problem because it is afraid of the political consequences. I quote . another case by the same contributor, showing the utter callousness of certain union officials who hold sway in matters of this kind. It reads -
John Williams, a carpenter, unemployed for eight months. A willing and conscientious worker. Called up for two weeks’ relief work. As he took his card from the official at tha desk, a union official stepped forward and bade him hand it back because he was not a financial member of the Carpenters Union. The official nominally in charge of the office, and supposedly the representative of the Government, took it without a murmur, and John Williams found himself back on the dole.
This unfortunate wretch who had not received any wages for eight months had to return his card and refuse a job, because he was unfinancial on the books of the union. The Government permits such things to be done without a murmur. The paragraph continues -
Next time he was called, he promised to pay a year’s subscription to the union in advance, and got his two weeks’ work. The subscription amounted to two-thirds of the only money he had earned for eight months; and thus the boss of the union which professed to look after the interest of the workers made sure of his salary. The holes in John Williams’ trousers and boots did not worry him.
It is actions of that character that will bring trade unionism to the dust. That is the policy of the unions which profess to look after the interests of the workers, but whose leaders make sure of their salary. If the Government, in the interests of those who have supported it in the past, do not take control of the situation,, it will get beyond them, if it has not already done so. The Government is hoping against hope that a settlement will be reached. But while it is delaying, the lambs raised by the graziers in Victoria are perishing in thousands in thu Newmarket yards. Where is Australia heading? The action of these individuals should focus public attention on the seriousness of the situation. It is not a case of white-anting, but of red-auting the trade union movement of Australia. It has already been red-anted with such success that the Government is afraid to act as a responsible government should. Honorable senators opposite sit in silence. For a week the Prime Minister has remained dumb. As stated by Senator Lynch, while this Government has not done anything the Premier of Victoria, whose government is not in control of overseas trade and commerce, has endeavoured to reason with the men. Then, forsooth, the Opposition in the Senate is asked why it did’ not suggest that a proclamation be issued under the Crimes Act! If that is not an abnegation of all that is best in responsible government in Australia, I do not know what is.
.- It has been a most pleasant sensation for thousands of citizens of this country to realize, during the last few mouths, at least, that the dark cloud of depression which had weighed them down for so long was gradually lifting, and that the sunshine of prosperity was again penetrating to their humble homes. A few individuals, however, who might have shared in. that prosperity, have determined to wreck the social conditions of our country, and, if possible, to prevent the Government from administering its affairs. They realize the weakness of this Government, and know in what fear and trembling they are held by every member of it. Only a few years ago, when I had the pleasure of appealing to the people to return a Nationalist government, I was questioned on several occasions regarding my feelings towards the Labour party. I then candidly admitted that I had no fault to find with the members of that party as individuals, but that I considered that, collectively, they occupied a weak position, in that they allowed a few individuals outside to dictate their policy.
– The honorable senator himself was a member of the party at one time.
– I was. At that time, however, it was so constituted that it was not possible for a few reckless individuals to sway its decisions. Every member of it then espoused its principles regardless of consequences. The time has arrived for the Government of this country, regardless of party considerations, to put an end to those who would destroy this fair/land of ours. There is a limit to the patience of every individual. Our yeomanry have been extremely tolerant, and so have all honest working men, whose sufferings have been accentuated by reason of the fact that the primary producer has been so severely handicapped within recent years. Unless the Government, without any sign of hesitancy, grapples with the position that has arisen, and takes steps that will enable the primary producers to market their goods, our plight will be a very serious one. If these few individuals are permitted to carry out their threat to prevent lambs from being exported, and our shipping from being carried on uninterruptedly, immediately the next wheat crop is harvested they will defy the wheatfarmers, also, to market their produce, f urge the Government, if it has not already the power, to ask Parliament for it. The position is most serious. Any assistance that I can render to bring this trouble to an end will be gladly given.
– The Opposition has been given an excellent opportunity this afternoon to “ wallop the joss.” The Government is fully acquainted with what has been happening, and has done everything that lay within its power to settle what it regards as a stupid dispute. Honorable senators opposite would embarrass the Government by placing a bullock bell round its neck, so that it could not avoid announcing what action it proposed to take. Such matters as these are not handled in that way. Neither the Government nor the trade union movement desires to embarrass our industries, or to do anything that might prove calamitous to Australia. Why should mischief-makers butt in, in an endeavour to settle a dispute about which they know very little? The busybodies should refrain from interfering while negotiations are proceeding that are likely to settle this trouble. It is useless for honorable senators opposite to use a bullock whip to try to drive the workers of this country into doing what they do not wish to do. It has been shown time and again thai such a policy is doomed to failure. The Government believes that there is machinery for the settlement of this dispute, which is a grievous and a serious thing that has brought in its train a lot of suffering and sacrifices that have been undeserved and unexpected by the people affected. Apparently the dispute has occurred over one individual. A seaman who became ill had to leave the vessel on which he was employed, for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment. The rule of the union has always been that, in such circumstances, when the man recovered his health, his job was open to him. In this case, however, it would appear that that practice was reversed. I do not know anything personally about the man ‘ who replaced the seaman who took ill, but my notes reveal to me the fact that his name is Schelley, that he was born in Germany in 1889, and that he is a naturalized British subject. I do not know what objection could be raised to that. A ma ii is not responsible for the country in which be is born. Any person who is born in a foreign country, and subsequently becomes a naturalized Australian citizen, must obey whatever laws are in existence While he lives in Australia. I do not know of any law that prevents a man from doing his best to alter conditions that he considers are harsh and wrong. A number of quotations have been made this afternoon, but, strangely enough, the views of many wellknown trade union officials have not, so far, been placed before the Senate. I consider that it is unfair for an honorable senator to read an anonymous leaflet with the object of showing that the Government is responsible for the present trouble. No other inference could be drawn, from the quotation that was made by Senator Payne. All documents quoted should bear the name of some responsible person. Because that which was quoted by Senator Payne did not comply with that condition, I interjected, “ Your party may have printed it”. Mr. G. E. Moate, federal president of the Marine Stewards Union, in a statement published on the 16th October, said -
My association is not going to be embroiled in a dispute which lias been brought about by a so-called rank and file committee, which has taken the matter out of the hands of responsible officials of the union. Several members of this so-called committee are well-known communists, .and one of the men over whom the trouble arose is a prominent member of the communist party, who attempted to interfere in the miners’, and other disputes. This man’s activities have led to the disruption of the industrial movement wherever he has appeared.
That is the opinion of a prominent official of a very strong organization of labour in this country. . Do honorable senators want anything more condemnatory?
– What are you going to do about it?
– As I said in my opening remarks, how can diplomatic work be carried on when there are bell wethers who want to sticky-beak so as to find out what is being done, when every effort is being made to effect a settlement of the trouble?
– Does the Minister regard Mr. Moate as a bell wether?
– No ; I regard him as a sane person. The secretary of the Federated Marine Stewards and Pantryments Union, Mr. A. H. Moate, said -
The hold-up of the Canberra,, when every part of Australia was crammed with idle steamers, was nothing short of imbecility. . . Other sections of the crew had been disregarded. . . It was the policy of the Stewards Union that, when a member who had been ill returned to his ship, the relief man must make way for him, and leave the ship.
That seems to me to be a sensible utterance. A. man who becomes so ill that he has to leave his job should be reinstated when he returns to health. The Government has not been asleep in regard to thi* matter; it is doing its utmost to bring about negotiations between the employers and tlie employees. With thepermission of a majority of this Senate,. Conciliation Commissioners were appointed for the settlement of disputes of this character. I ask honorable senators to consider seriously the situation as it appears to the Government. I said a little while ago, and I repeat, that you cannot flog an Australian into a place to which he does not wish to go. Laws can be enacted that will give him a reasonable opportunity to place his case before a properly constituted tribunal. Our workers have availed themselves of whatever opportunities have been afforded. Surely honorable senators opposite have some appreciation of the difficulties that confront the Government in its efforts to solve the problem of unemployment. It would not be fair to attach responsibility to any government in that matter, because unfortunately the same trouble is besetting every country. It is a fact, nevertheless, that this Government inherited from former administrations problems which it is difficult to solve, but it is endeavouring to do this in the best interests of the country, and, at the same time, it. is attempting to ease the economic pressure upon the Labour movement. Is it surprising ‘ that a man like Schelley should feel so strongly in this matter? I do not know the man, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his statements, but possibly he feels that ‘he has a distinct grievance.
– If he is the man we have in mind, he lived on the unemployment problem in Western Australia.
– Possibly he did. I would’ not excuse him for that. But in view of the state of people’s minds in this time of stress, it is of no use for any one to talk to men who have been out of work for possibly a year or more. I know many who are in this position. Heaven only knows how they and their dependants live. Can any one be surprised if these men, who have been driven to the point of desperation, display a revolutionary spirit? They know that food in plenty ie produced in this country, but because of some interference with the existing social order, it is not available to them. The wheat harvest of last year was sufficient to feed Australia for the next six years, and there i3 always more than sufficient meat for the requirements of our people. And yet, in spite of the fact that we are living in a land of plenty, no fewer than 400,000 of our citizens are out of work. Cannot honorable senators understand their state of mind? It may suit their purpose to get up in this chamber, and by criticism do their best to embarrass the Government. This is a cheap way of getting an advertisement for their party and party purposes.
– But these men were not unemployed; they were all in good work.
– I know they were, and I am offering no comment upon the means they have adopted to redress Avhat they regard as a wrong. I feel strongly upon this subject because several honorable senators opposite have had experience in previous administrations, and know what happens if some one throws a spanner into smooth-running machinery. They complain because I do not disclose all that is happening, and all that is being done by the Government by way of negotiation to bring about a settlement of this trouble. By “ butting-in “, as they have done this afternoon, they merely embarrass the Government, and also the people who are parties to this dispute. The Government is fully aware of the seriousness of the position, and it is doing all that is possible to end the trouble. If any law is broken the Government will not hesitate to take the necessary action.
– It might be necessary to amend the law to prevent interested parties from the airing of views concerning industrial matters of which they know very little.
– But why negotiate with law breakers?
– They are not law breakers until they are proven to be.
– The interests of very influential bodies are involved in this dispute, and the Government is doing its best to end it, and enable the business of the country to be carried on. But how can this be done if the representatives of political parties, who wish to get an advertisement out of it,air their views in this way for the purpose merely of embarrassing the Government ? The poor innocent elector is quite unaware of the influences at work in this chamber. All he knows is that certain honorable senators “flogged” the Government in connexion with this matter and, if he is a supporter of any of the opposition parties, that will be good enough for him. Honorable senators must know that the Government is shifting heaven and earth to bring about a settlement of these troubles. What has been said this afternoon will not be helpful. On the contrary, it will render the task still more difficult. Honorable senators opposite must know that negotiations of this character, to be successful, are conducted behind the scenes, and quietly, because neither side wishes to disclose what it is doing until an agreement has been reached. Enough has been said to enable the people of Australia to make up their minds about this matter. Statements from responsible Ministers with regard to communists or any other organizations that are not friendly to labour indicate unmistakably the Government’s views. But I do not know that even communists should be altogether banned in a free country like Australia. When I was a young man I held certain views which were not approved by the majority of the people, but I have lived long enough to see them translated into legislation which to-day is regarded as beneficial and satisfactory. Therefore, I consider that even communists may promulgate ideas which was not acceptable and that some day they may convince the people of Australia that they are right. I do not say that I approve of them, but I believe that every man should be allowed to air his views. Progress is only possible in a country which tolerates the expression of advanced thought that blazes the track and enlightens the world. That has been so in politics, science, medicine and, in fact, in everything where there has been any advancement.
– Obedience of the law is old-fashioned, but it is right.
– Yes; obedience of the law is old-fashioned, and so long as the law remains, it is possibly right that it should be obeyed.
– That is an extraordinary statement to be made by a Minister.
– I well remember the time when I was associated with a great body of men, which included some of the best elements in the country, who had to fight all the laws of Australia, and every State authority, to secure justice. Those men were bludgeoned, dragooned and gaoled. But they fought on, and the law was altered. There are times when men have to fight the law with such weapons as they have at their disposal.
– Does the Minister approve of the actions of this man Schelley ?
– I do not. I think the whole thing is foolish. I do not know what the man means. T do not know what wrongs such people wish to have redressed, or whether there are any wrongs which need redressing. But it seems to me that in a time like this, men would not leave their work unless they had some reason for doing so. The Government could not intervene without reason in a dispute; but it should not be assumed that because no statement has been made nothing has been done to remedy the trouble. These matters have to be dealt with diplomatically; and a government cannot broadcast the steps it is taking to effect a settlement.
– Does the honorable senator wish to whitewash this blackguard?
– No; nor do I wish to whitewash the honorable senator. The situation is most embarrassing to the Government. I do not blame honorable senators for exercising their rights and privileges in the way that they think proper; but surely the Government is entitled to tolerance from even a bitter Opposition. The Government is alive to the seriousness of the situation; it has not been asleep. But it does not intend to paint on the sky what it is doing.
– Will the Minister submit to the Senate the statement made by the Prime Minister this afternoon in another place?
– I said earlier in the day that I would probably be in a position to make a statement to the Senate later
– I did not hear that remark.
– The debate that has occurred has compelled me to occupy time in replying to the unjustifiable comments that have been made. Unfortunate situations often arise owing to illconsidered or thoughtless actions. I am sure that honorable senators generally are anxious to see this dispute settled. The Government also desires to see it settled, and it should surely be given credit for that desire.
– Will the honorable gentleman submit to the Senate the statement made this afternoon in another place by the Prime Minister?
– A lot of people in Australia do not think that the Senate is worthy of such consideration. I know that some honorable senators do not think the Senate is always treated as courteously as it might be. But I assure honorable senators that the Government realizes that a serious situation has arisen. That is true, however, when any industrial dispute occurs.
– This is not a dispute; it is defiance of the law.
– Difficulties are always created when a dispute occurs between two parties and other interests not directly concerned busy themselves about the matter. There is trouble in Manchuria at present between two nations. If representatives of all the other nations in the world were to busy themselves with this dispute, it would not be settled easily. It should be left to the authorities at Geneva to settle. Those remarks apply in some respects to this dispute. The matter should be left for settlement by the authorities properly entitled to conduct negotiations. When other busybodies poke their noses into the matter, negotiations are hindered rather than helped.
– At the risk of being branded as one of the busybodies or stickybeaks who, according to Senator Barnes, wish to poke into something that does not concern them, I wish to make some remarks in reply to the most unjustifiable attack that has been made on the rights and privileges of honorable senators. I sat in the gallery of another place early this afternoon and heard the Prime Minister make a statement on this subject. The right honorable gentleman said distinctly that up to the present the Government had done nothing except watch the situation. He also said that the police of the States were quite capable of handling any lawlessness that might arise, and that if the Commonwealth Government were called upon for any help it would give it.
– The Prime Minister made that statement after consultation with the Crown Law authorities.
– Quite possibly; but the statement was different from that made a few moments ago by Senator Barnes. We have been severely castigated for discussing this matter; but was it to be expected that we would remain silent while this man Schelley carried on his communistic campaign? That would have suggested that everything m the garden was lovely, and that we could forget about the whole thing tlie day after to-morrow. But that is not the position. I agree with the statement of Senator Barnes that sane aud reasonable actions cannot be expected from people who are suffering the pangs of hunger because they have been out of work for a year or two.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– The doleful picture the Minister drew of the desperate state of mind of the man who has been out of work for some time might be perfectly true of a man genuinely out of work, but is certainly not true of the man who has been the cause of the present shipping trouble. According to the record of this man, which the Prime Minister gave this afternoon in another place, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, he was not a seaman, because, although he had been engaged in some capacity on board a vessel in 1923, it was the last occasion on which he had been employed iu any capacity whatsoever on a vessel until he took the place of a sick man on the S.S. Canberra. We can come to no other conclusion than that he went on that boat not to obtain work, but to start trouble, and to start it not for himself, because he lives on trouble, but for those for whom he was supposed to be work ing. The meanest thing a man can possibly do is to cause a number of innocent men, perfectly willing to carry on their occupations, to lose their jobs. When I listened to the Prime Minister, I was struck by his sincerity in. dealing with this case. He said that he was not in favour of what had been done; he deprecated it in the strongest possible language and said that the unions, officially, were not behind it. But I have heard that story before. It seems remarkable that two or three men who are not in control of a union can get the whole of the rank and file in any occupation, to follow them like sheep.
– If they do that sort of thing, it shows what sheep they are.
– They are certainly being driven like sheep. The Minister to-day read a letter from the secretary and president of one union indicating that they had no sympathy with this cessation of work, and that they regarded it as sheer madness. But that does not get us out of the difficulty. The Minister complained of honorable senators drawing attention to the present state of affairs. He seemed to be blaming them for causing the trouble that has arisen. He said they were-
– Mischievous busybodies.
– Yes. As far as I could follow him, he said that they were mischievous busybodies who were spoiling the Government’s chances of effecting an early settlement of the trouble. It is not the first time in the recent history of Australia that something like this has occurred. On more than one occasion, Mr. Bruce, when he was Prime Minister, had to make an exactly similar statement to that made by the present Prime Minister this afternoon. But, whereas to-day the Prime Minister was heard with attention and respect, and was immediately followed by Mr. Latham, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who pledged the support of the Opposition to every effort the Government might make to see that the law is obeyed, and that the services of the country are carried on, when Mr. Bruce had to make a statement about the waterside workers, his voice was drowned by the howls of execration - I can describe them in no other way - that came from the Opposition benches, from the very men who are now sitting on the treasury bench in another place. Not only did they do that in the House, but they went into the country and told the people that Mr. Bruce was a mischief-maker, out to destroy the working man ; that there was no truth in him, and that the electors should take no notice of what he said or what effort he might make to see that the law was obeyed. It is poetic justice that those men have now to face a like situation, but, fortunately for them, they have a sympathetic Opposition to assist them in the trouble that is facing Australia to-day. Senator Daly repeatedly asked different honorable senators, when they were speaking, what they would suggest to get over the trouble.
– I direct the question to the honorable senator.
– I have no objection to answering it. Senator McLachlan read a section of the Crimes Act, which is eminently fitted to deal with the situation, and would inflict no hardship on any law-abiding citizen.
– He read only a portion of the section, and I guarantee that Senator Brennan would not agree with Senator McLachlan’s interpretation.
– Senator Brennan is able to answer for himself, and I do not think that he would ask Senator Daly to guarantee his opinion. If that provision were put into force and failed to effect a settlement, there is one other course open to the Government; but it is one I hesitate to suggest because it would inflict hardship upon the innocent as well as the guilty. If the Government took its courage into its hands and suspended the operation of the Navigation Act, the present trouble would come to an end and people in far distant States would be greatly assisted.
– The threat to do it would be sufficient I think.
– Probably. What happened in Ireland the other day? Every man in the street was carrying a pistol in his pocket, but when the Irish Parliament passed an act to provide for the safety of the realm, the pistols were handed in as fast as they could he received. Some people are as brave as lions when they are behind a hedge. If this Government would show its determination, the present trouble would b« settled in 24 hours.
I do not think that the Minister is entitled to say that the Senate has no right to discuss a matter of such firstclass public importance. Are we, in the far distant States, dependent on the shipping of the country being run to schedule time, to sit down calmly, and say, “ It is all right, the Government is doing its best “ ? I take the Minister’s word that it is doing its best, but its best is not good enough. It should do something better or allow some one else to do it. It should allow the law to’ take its full course, and should not be timid about it. Trade and commerce are the life-blood of this country.
– Let us get on with the tariff.
– The Minister has twitted me about the tariff. I say, unhesitatingly, that the tariff is at the root of the whole trouble, because of the false standard of living it has set up for city dwellers. It has built up the cities of Sydney and Melbourne at the expense of the country until they are twice the size they ought to be. They have become cesspools of trouble. As long as the poor unfortunate country could support their inordinate demands for more and more, everything was all right; but now when the last straw has been passed over to them by the rural areas, they have nothing te do but eat each other, and that leads to trouble. The Government is in a desperate position, knowing that in order to maintain a semblance of law and order in the country, it must offend the very people from whom it draws its chief support.
.- One gleam of hope that has come out of this debate is the fact that our friends on the Government benches are not to-day defending law breakers as they have done in the past. It is extraordinary that only two Ministers should have spoken.
– There are only three Ministers in the Senate.
– But two honorable senators who have always been staunch defenders of strikes and have always applied opprobrious terms towards those who do not take the strikers’ part, have not risen to-day to defend the action of the present strikers. Apparently, they are now beginning to realize that there is something wrong in what is taking place; that there is some truth in what bas been pointed out, over and over again, by this side of the chamber. I refer to the white-anting of unions by the extremists, which has led to the present trouble. One man who took the place of a sick sailor has not had the manliness to get out and let the sick sailor resume his job upon being restored to health. He is responsible for this trouble. In no other place in the world could such a thing take place.
– Have we not heard enough of that to-day? Cannot we gel on with the tariff?
– I am aware that the honorable senator is not anxious to hear anything about this matter. He would do anything to get out of the trouble. But there is something he dare not do. The Government dare not authorize the employment of free labour on the ships. The Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes), who’ is president of one of the most powerful industrial organizations in Australia, knows that the Government dare not enforce the law in the interests of the law-abiding people in this country. Why has this position arisen? It is due to the activities and influence of one man. Although the Government has declined to act promptly in this matter, it has, on numerous occasions when the Senate has disallowed regulations framed under the Transport Workers Act, issued fresh regulations within a few hours, which have had the effect o* inviting a certain section of the community to break the law.
– Is it competent for an honorable senator to say that the representatives of His Majesty have invited a certain section of the community to break the law?
– It is not in order to refer, to His Majesty the King in order to influence debate. If the honorable senator referred to the representatives of His Majesty in that sense he must withdraw the remark.
– I was merely mentioning the fact that the action of the Government encouraged the law to be broken-. We are all aware of the trouble that has occurred on the waterfront at Melbourne, Brisbane, and other places, and which would not have arisen had regulations contrary to those which a majority of honorable senators supported not been issued. The action of the Government in connexion with the waterside workers has encouraged law-breakers, who, having the position in their own hands, have been paralysing our interstate and overseas shipping trade. The Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) asked what the Government should do in order to enforce the law, and Senator McLachlan showed that the Government had merely to enforce certain provisions of the Crimes Act. According to press reports, the ship-owners asked the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) what support they could, expect from his Government if volunteer labour were employed, but up to the present no answer has been received. The Government is afraid to take any steps in the matter, because it realizes the power possessed by the trade unions, and that if free labour were employed it would establish a dangerous precedent. Ministers have not dared to defend the tactics employed in this instance. This is only the beginning. We have been informed over and over again that owing to unemployment many men are becoming desperate, and will not listen to advice. But, apart from that section, there is a large element in Australia whose sole object is to cause industrial trouble, and thereby bring about a complete change in the system of government. They do not believe in upholding the law, but in breaking it at every opportunity. They wish to destroy the present social system and substitute some other method, concerning which no one seems to know anything. These people are out to destroy. The Government has now an opportunity of showing its sincerity in the matter of enforcing the law, not only in the interest of those who are more directly affected, but also on behalf of a large body of lawabiding unionists. Surely Senator
Daly will admit that the Government has power to act in this matter? Even if an amendment of the law is necessary, an overwhelming majority of members of this Parliament will support the Government in any endeavour to protect the community. It is not a matter of party politics. The economic position in Australia is more serious than it has ever been, and the taxpayers of this country are unable to stand any further losses. We have not yet reached a safe position financially, and industrial disputes will only tend to aggravate our economic position. One of the worst features of the two industrial disputes to which reference has been made to-day is the action of certain slaughtermen in Melbourne, who, although receiving up to £11 a week have gone on strike. These men have adopted this course at a time when hundreds of thousands of persons are on the verge of starvation, and would,, if the opportunity were available, willingly carry on the work that they refuse to perform. The policy which many of them have adopted has been encouraged by this Government, which now finds its chickens are coming home to roost. In a sense I am glad that a Labour Government is in power, as it will give the people of Australia an opportunity to see what course it is prepared to follow. Unless some steps are taken io combat this evil, which is worse than some persons imagine, it will soon become a menace to our national life. The leaders of this revolutionary movement are working quietly, but a situation may develop at any time. It was interesting to hear the way in which two Ministers endeavoured to excuse the action of those responsible for the hold up in the shipping industry, and their endeavour to show why the Government had not acted in the matter. I understand that the right honorable the Prime Minister stated that up to the present no action has been taken by the Government. The Leader of the Senate told us that certain negotiations were in progress, and that the whole matter was receiving the close attention of the Government. He endeavoured to defend the inactivity of the administration. I will support the Government in any action it takes to enforce the law against those who are deliberately attempting to interfere with certain essential services, and thereby create industrial turmoil.’ The members of the organization concerned must obey the law ; that is the duty of every responsible citizen. I urge the Government to act promptly in this matter, otherwise its inactivity will result in the wrecking of the Labour movement and to the detriment of those who support it. The Government which is assured of the help of the Opposition should enforce the law, and prevent an extension of these disputes which will make our economic position even worse than it is to-day.
– The nature of the apologies of the two Ministers who have attempted to explain the inactivity of the Government has amply justified the debate on this subject. They have treated these two strikes as if they were ordinary industrial troubles. No one knows better than Senator Rae that they are not ordinary industrial troubles. The honorable senator is associated with a group of men who, though not calling themselves by the same name, are preaching exactly the same doctrine. They are endeavouring by one means or another to undermine the very foundations of society. That is their definite, objective. The two troubles under discussion have no root in any industrial dispute. There is no industrial dispute in the general acceptation of the term. This Parliament throughout the whole course of its history has been trying to lay down industrial laws that will enable the working men of this country to obtain economic justice. But these happenings have their root in a definite communistic movement, to which Senator Reid has just referred. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) quoted the words of the Federal President of the Marine Stewards Unions, who said that this disturbance in the shipping industry is not an industrial dispute at all. He said that it had its foundation in communistic agitation, and we know that is so; yet we have the Minister talking about negotiations ! Do you “ negotiate “ with a snake when it confronts you? No! You break its back quick and lively ! Nor can you negotiate with communism. It is a case of war to the knife. These sinister influences which are in our midst today, and which are raising their heads as they have never done before, have to be dealt with in a way entirely different from the method of dealing with an ordinary industrial dispute. Unless we are prepared to do that - unless the Government is prepared to take its courage in both hands and scotch this thing in its infancy no political party in Australia will suffer more humiliation than that represented by honorable senators opposite. They know, perhaps, better than I do how these sinister influences are honeycombing the industrial organizations which they represent. They are afraid.
– They apologize for them.
– We have not apologized for any one.
– The last conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions Congress decided to instruct the Federal Government to repeal the Transport Workers Act, and pending its repeal, to give complete preference to members of the Waterside Workers Federation in all ports of the Commonwealth.
– Is there anything wrong with that?
– If Senator Dunn will wait awhile he will see the connexion, and perhaps wish that he had not spoken. The report presented to congress, on which the resolutions of congress to which I shall refer were based, was submitted by a committee consisting of Mr. A. S. Drakeford. W. H. Seale, A. S. Evernden, H. Carter, A. E. Turley, H. C. Gibson and E. C. McGrath. The resolution reads -
That the congress requests the Federal Government, acting in co-operation with the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, to repeal the Transport Workers Act at the earliest suitable date. Pending the repeal of the act, the congress urges that the Government by regulation or otherwise, shall exercise nil its powers to restore complete preference of employment in the industry to members of the Waterside Workers Federation in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– The bosses wanted complete power to discriminate against them.
– Your bosses made you do what they told you to do; they made you bend the knee.
– They did nothing of the sort.
– Over and over again, the Senate has witnessed the abject surrender of the Government to the dictates of this irresponsible outside body.
– On a point of order, I take exception to the language employed by the honorable senator, in which he says that this Government has yielded to the dictates of an irresponsible organization.
– There is no point of order.
– Those words are personally offensive to me as a member of the Government, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– As they are personally offensive to the Minister, the honorable senator must withdraw them.
– In those circumstances, I withdraw them. But I ask the Senate to contemplate the attitude that was adopted by these gentlemen who, having been told by an outside organization to do this thing-
– The Government was not told to take the action that it took, and did not do so as the result of any dictation. The honorable senator knows that.
– All I know is that, after, and not before, this AllAustralian Trade Union Congress had met, after it had passed that resolution and communicated it to the Government-
– What was the date of the meeting?
– The 27th February, 1930. It was after that meeting was held that the Government discovered a method of obeying the instructions that had been given by issuing regulations under the Transport Workers Act which have been repeatedly disallowed, and as repeatedly re-enacted by the Government. At the end of the report from which I have read, we find the following words : -
The congress also adopted a report urging that certain sections of the Crimes Act relating to industrial offences should be repealed. The committee contended that tha whole of part 11a, which included the sections which were repressive and tyrannous, should be repealed.
– Were they repealed?
– Neither those sections of the Crimes Act, nor the Transport Workers’ Act, have been repealed. But there were two ways in which the Government could obey this latter mandate. One was by repealing the act when it had the power to do so - a power that it does notpossess to-day - and the other by doing nothing whatsoever, by leaving the provisions of the Crimes Act in abeyance. It is the latter course which is being adopted by the Government. The Government knows full well that it has the power to scotch this thing, but it dare not operate the provisions of the Crimes Act, because it has been told that it must not do so. It has been told it must deprive itself of the very power to handle situations of this sort. And rather than face up to the position and take its courage in both hands, it is prepared to allow the trade, commerce and industry of this country to be hung up’, to bring misery into the homes of scores, nay, thousands, of our people, to see the primary producer, who has been right up gainst a condition of affairs such as has never previously been experienced in the history of this country, bled still further, so that these communists may be able to carry on their fine work, and Senator Rae and his comrades may be provided with opportunities to give effect to the theories that they have been preaching and distributing among the people of this country for some considerable time past. I say to. the Government that, unless it is prepared to deal with this menace of commuuism every time it manifests itself, in the only way in which it can be dealt with-
– What is that?
– I shall not tell the Minister, because he knows far better than I do. Unless the Government is prepared to take the action that is necessary to scotch the snake of communism every time it raises its head - as it is undoubtedly doing in these two disputes - eventually it will suffer the most bitter defeat and humiliation as a result.
– This subject has been discussed from very many aspects, and I shall not have very much to say concerning it- less, perhaps, because some of Senator Greene’s observations covered one of the points that I had intended particularly to make.
This afternoon references were made by members of the Government to the disagreement that has arisen between an industrial organization and a body of employers. I desire to stress the point that it cannot be regarded as a dispute in any sense in which that word is understood in the industrial legislation of Aus tralia.
– It can.
– If it can; then any action, however outrageous or flagrant, which may be taken by either side, must come under the heading of a dispute. In the Arbitration Act are to be found definitions of “industrial dispute’’, and “ dispute “, and they are relevant to the matter which we are now discussing. Let us consider, for a moment, what if characterized as a dispute. Take, first, the case of the seamen. They were working under an award; and anything in the nature of a strike that if done while working under an award is an offence that is punishable under the Arbitration Act.
– Were they working under an award?
– There is in the press a statement embodying a telegram from representatives of the shipowners, who say that this action is being taken in direct violation of an award. I have accepted that as my authority. At all events, they were working under some form of agreement. The present trouble has been brought about by an act which not one member on the Government side has ventured to excuse; at any rate, directly. On the contrary, they have specifically condemned it; although I am afraid that on more than one occasion the words used by Senator Barnes amounted to something in the nature of an apology for the communistic tendencies revealed by the strike. Doubtless, however, that was not his intention. As an act of business, a man was employed to take the place of another who became ill. You do not, I should think, expect anything more than the ordinary spirit of fair dealing between man and man to be displayed when you look toa man who has been employed temporarily to relieve another who is sick, to vacate his position when that other is restored to health.
SenatorRae. - Is the honorable senator sure that he has all the facts?
– No person can be quite certain that he has all the facts. I have given those facts that have been made public, and as they have never been publicly contradicted, I think that we may assume that they are accurate. Having regard to the statements that have been made concerning the position which has been occupied by this gentlemanwho, so far as is known, found on this occasion the first employment that he had obtained in a period of eight years - it seems very likely that he took this position for the sole purpose of creating trouble in our interstate shipping service.
Let us consider, now, what has happened in Victoria. The members of the organization concerned in this case were being handsomely paid; indeed, having regard to the times in which we live, they were very handsomely remunerated. They were working under an. agreement which does not expire until the 31st December next.
– It is not amenable to Commonwealth jurisdiction.
– Senator McLachlan has shown one way in which it is. If any man undertakes to do a certain thing up to a certain time, he is bound by the ordinary laws of decency to carry out that undertaking.
– Hear, hear !
– I am very glad that the Minister agrees with me. He can hardly fail to realize that if we are no longer able to rely upon the plighted word of a man, the whole of our civilization must fall to pieces. What did these men do, and why did they do it? It cannot be that they are dissatisfied with the wage of £11 a week that they are able to earn. At a time like the present, when there are 300,000 or 400,000 men who would he very glad to earn even11s. a week, no body of men can be really dissatisfied with £11 a week. Therefore, the only reason they can have for doing what they have done is that they realize that the present is a crucial and critical time. Indeed, they have proclaimed that it would not be possible for their places to be filled. Believing that to be so, they have taken the law into their own hands, and have tried to force from their employers a wage 20 per cent. greater than they are receiving, and 20 per cent. more than they are entitled to receive under the agreement that they have made. So tolerant have the employers been, that they have even offered to discuss with them the question of what their future relations shall be if they return to work. But so conscious are they of what they believe to be their strength, that they have declined that offer, and are continuing the strike. It has been suggested by Senator McLachlan that that is an offence within the provisions of the Crimes Act. Senator . Daly expressed the view that I would not agree with him. I am rather at a loss to understand what the honorable gentleman had in his mind when he ventured to dissent from the view put forward by Senator McLachlan. Under the section quoted by Senator McLachlan, a proclamation could he issued whenever a serious industrial dispute occurred, threatening the trade and commerce of Australia with other countries. Anything then in the nature of a strike would be liable to severe punishment. Apparently, the view taken by Senator Daly is that this dispute is not in the nature of a strike at all, although it has been shown that employees working under an agreement have reduced their normal output from 100 lambs to 30 lambs per day.
– They are not amenable to Commonwealth jurisdiction.
– I have no doubt that, if the case were tested, they would be shown to be amenable to Commonwealth jurisdiction, because the very provisions of the Crimes Act are that the dispute shall threaten trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States. That section was inserted so that it should apply only in cases that came within the provisions of the Constitution. Surely it would not be alleged that interference with the slaughter of lambs directly intended for the export trade would not be an interference with the trade of the Commonwealth with other countries, and among the States?
– It would be very difficult to prove.
– If the honorable senator relies upon the difficulty of proof, that is another matter entirely, lie did not state his case in that way when he was criticizing Senator McLachlan’s interpretation of the law. But, apart from being a violation of a contract, upon which the whole of the business relations of this country subsist, the dispute in question is one of a. peculiarly mean character, because it inflicts « severe hardship upon men engaged in primary industry who, for the last two or three years, as Senators Guthrie and Plain- have shown, have been facing very great difficulties. It is well known to every honorable senator that for some years wheat-growing and wool-raising have been unprofitable occupations, and it is much to be deplored that this trouble should have occurred just when there appeared to be some gleam of hope for those who have been giving their attention to the export trade in lambs. This dastardly action on the part of the slaughtermen affects more particularly those primary producers who, foi1 so many years, have been living from hand to mouth. Ministers and their supporters desire to know what they could have done. I am not one of those who suggest they should have immediately set the la.w in motion against those primarily responsible for these disputes, but considering first the seamen’s strike, they could at least have thrown the weight of their moral in-‘ fluence on the side of those who condemn such conduct, having regard to the fact that the dispute had no merit-
– The honorable senator takes that for granted.
– Those who think otherwise should explain wherein lies the merit, lest we misjudge these men. I can only say that, on the facts published, we are justified in saying that that dispute has no merit.
– If the honorable senator knows anything about the methods of the press of to-day, he must admit that, in a dispute of this nature, more than onehalf of the truth is suppressed.
– As we have never heard any doubts expressed as ‘ to the published statements concerning that dispute, we are entitled to assume thai there has been a correct statement of the facts. The Leader of the Senate said this afternoon that it was impossible to drive the Australian working man with a bullock whip. Again, I suggest it was not a case for the application of the bullock whip, but for something in the nature of whole-hearted condemnation of the conduct of men whose action i* absolutely unjustifiable. Upon this subject, there has been profound silence on the part of the Government, but we are indebted to Senator Carroll for the information, that a statement was made thi, afternoon by the Primo Minister in another place. Senator Barnes, on the other hand, so far from condemning it, has used words in extenuation of the communistic tendencies which this strike shows, and which can only be regarded as apologetic. The Leader of the Senate mentioned that views, which in h.U early days were not acceptable to the people generally, have later become translated into the law of the land. As 1 understood the honorable gentleman, he meant to convey the impression that, although he does not, at this stage, approve of the principles of communism, he is of the opinion that, before very many years have elapsed, communism may become an established, if not a respectable political creed. In the meantime he disowns it. Nevertheless.. I fail to understand why he should have suggested that the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable senators who. have expressed disapproval of the Government’s inaction, were “butting in “ as busy-bodies and disturbing the negotiations which, he said, were being quietly conducted by the Government. It is significant that, while the Leader of the Senate was speaking in this strain, and leading us to believe that the Government was doing something to bring abou peace, the Prime Minister, in another place, was informing honorable members there, that, up to the present, the Government had not engaged in any negotiations for the settlement of these disputes. I merely wish to add a few words in conclusion. The honorable and gallant senator from Queensland (Senator Sir William Glasgow), in reply to an interjection by the Leader of the Senate this afternoon, declared that, in his view, it was tlie duty of the Government to take whatever action may be necessary to maintain the commerce of Australia. It is only to a limited extent that I agree with that statement. I agree heartily that, as governments have taken upon themselves the task of curing all the ills from which the body politic suffers, it is clearly their duty to maintain the arteries of traffic between Australia and other countries. But I put it that it is the efforts which governments have made to preserve peace in industry that have been responsible for all the war in industry which has occurred. It is the efforts which governments have made to make the people of this country rich, that have resulted in a good deal of poverty in this country. Having gone so far as we have, the government should go the full length to see that the law is obeyed, and at least, if it will not take steps to have the matter tested in a court of law, it should throw its influence on the side of every right-thinking man and woman in this community, and condemn the action taken in both these cases.
– The seamen’s strike and the “ goslow “ tactics of tho slaughtermen are a deliberate attempt to interfere with the prosperity of the Commonwealth. It is deplorable that this interference with trade and commerce should have occurred at this time. Within the last twelve months drastic reductions have been made in all avenues of public expenditure, the salaries of public servants have been reduced, our invalid and old-age and war pensioners have been called upon to make sacrifices, and because of the reduced purchasing power of our people, the majority of our primary producers are barely making a living. Those responsible for these strikes selected the most harmful time for their dastardly action. Interference with the lamb export trade at the peak of the season will inflict a great hardship upon a large number of smaller farmers. In my own State the breeding of fat lambs for export was the one bright spot in the whole range of primary production. The small farmer or grazier cannot, at short notice, change over from his ordinary work of production to that of fat-lamb raising. A considerable amount of preparation is necessary. In the first place a farmer has to secure a different kind of stock and make provision for succulent feed. It takes at least twelve months to produce fat lambs, and when they are ready for market they have to be treated and shipped immediately. Our breeders have gone to a good deal of trouble to prepare fat lambs for export at this season of the year, in order to get ahead of New Zealand exporters. ‘ If there is delay, the lambs lose conditio” rapidly, and, ultimately, may have to be sold as second grade, or perhaps as stores. It is inexplicable that workers who have enjoyed so many benefits from industrial legislation passed by this Parliament should so callously hold up industry. The Navigation Act has been of immense benefit to seamen, and our system of arbitration, which has been described as one-way traffic legislation, has been a tremendous boon to the workers generally. If men who have received these benefits decline to obey the law of the laud, the benefits of this legislation should bc withdrawn from them. I agree with Senator Carroll that if the Navigation Act were abolished, it would not be long before the seamen’s strike would be over., and I think that if the Arbitration Act were also abolished it would not be long before all business concerns in Australia were operating quite normally. Governments should provide protection for those who are willing to work. At the present time there are thousands of people who are anxious to get to work, but, unfortunately, owing to the action of militants in the ranks of trade unionism, they are unable to obtain employment. It is our duty to see that they can get to work without delay.
– Why does not the honorable senator apply that reasoning to the tariff and let us get on with the business?
– I regard the tariff as the twin brother of the two obnoxious acts that I have referred to, namely, the Navigation Act and the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If these two acts were repealed, and the workers allowed to work if they want to work, and if the business people were allowed to carry on the business of the country, it would not be long before we should get out of our present troubles.
– I congratulate the members of the Opposition on their effective stonewalling. The course of the debate to-day reminds me that coming events cast their shadows before. The fact of the matter is that the debate on the subjectmatter of this bill is being delayed because the members of the United Australia party and the Country party are not in agreement on tariff questions.
– The honorable senator should guess again.
– I advise Senator Carroll to confer with Senator Crawford on that subject. I also congratulate honorable senators opposite upon making such good use of Hansard for the purpose of providing themselves with material for political propaganda, which, I have no doubt, will be used as much as possible. A lot of heat has been engendered in this debate. Personally, I do not care whether Schelley is, or is not, a naturalized British subject. He may have been born in Germany, but, as the Leader of the Government rightly remarked, he was not consulted on that subject. It might be as well for some honorable senators to recollect that the presentRoyal House of Great Britain is of German origin. Not many months ago we had a number of financiers out here from Britain to advise the Government in regard to the balancing of its budget. One of those gentlemen was 100 per cent. German. Honorable senators opposite have thrown a good many verbal bricks across the chamber to-day, but honorable senators who support the Government are able to defend themselves, and I give my assurance that Senator Rae and I, who represent the Beasley group, are also quite capable of defending ourselves. Several challenges have been thrown at us by honorable senators who took the same oath of allegiance to King George that I took. Possibly these challenges were issued in the course of a heated debate; but if honorable senators opposite say that the working class of Australia, and we, as representatives of it, are prepared to use political violence to attain their ends, we are prepared to take up the challenge. If honorable senators opposite made such a statement in regard to trade unionists of this country they should be booted out of Australia.
– We did not say anything of the kind.
– A good deal has been said to-day about the present shipping hold-up. I wish to make it quite clear that we believe in peace iti industry. The Labour party has always believed in arbitration. If this Government had had any political courage it would have accepted the challenge of honorable senators opposite three months after it was elected to the treasury bench, but the Government has neither moral courage nor political guts.
– I must ask the honorable senator to couch his remarks in parliamentary language.
– That word is in the dictionary.
– Other words which I could not allow the honorable senator to use are also in the dictionary.
– The word is also in the Bible - a book in which I believe. In view of what has been said to-day about the shipping hold-up, I consider it my duty to enlighten honorable senators opposite, and also the occupants of the press gallery, on the true facts of the case. I have been associated with the trade union movement for over twenty years - quite as long as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), Senator Lynch, and some other honorable senators were connected with it - and I have climbed the ladder from its bottom rung. During my long connexion with trade unionists I have discovered that they do not throw up their jobs to remain idle on the roadside unless they -have good reasons for doing so. The Canberra, the vessel originally concerned in the shipping holdup, belongs to Howard Smith Limited or the Australian Steamship Company, and trades to Queensland ports. The engineers’ storekeeper on the vessel was taken ill, and had to be sent to his home port. Senator Lynch will understand these references, because at one period of hia life he was a seaman. Incidentally, the honorable gentleman has been associated with more strikes in his lifetime than I have been. The present Leader of the
Opposition (Senator Pearce) was also, at one time, an active member of the Carpenters Union; but times have changed.
– We had no arbitration acts in those days.
– There was an arbitration act in operation at the time Senator Lynch was expelled from the Labour party in 1916 in consequence of his attitude on the conscription issue. The storekeeper to whom I have referred was taken ill, and one of the firemen of the Canberra was temporarily promoted to his place. The fireman’s position was taken by a stoker, and the stoker’s position was taken by a coal-trimmer, and another man was engaged as a coaltrimmer. In the course of time the sick storekeeper was declared by the company’s doctor to be fit to resume work. The man who had taken his place resumed his old position, and all the men whose positions had been altered resumed their old jobs except Schelley. Because Schelley was engaged in propagating political doctrines which were not acceptable to the ships’ officers he was victimized. Senator McLachlan may laugh, but those are the true facts.
– Tell us how he was victimized. Was he not a temporary man ?
– He was not. He was a member of the ship’s crew, but because of his advocacy of certain principles in which he believed, he was victimized. I. contend that these men are just as much entitled as honorable senators to protect their interests. We have heard a good deal to-day about the so-called communistic snake and the primary producers, but I suggest that Senator Guthrie, Senator Plain, and Senator Greene know very little about trade unionism in this country. It has been’ said that Senator Bae and I belong to the communist party; but that is not true. We are members of the Australian Labour Party, and no member of the communist party of New South Wales, or any other State, would be permitted to sign the pledge which is required by the party to which we belong. We have heard a lot about communism, yet the primary producers of this country are in direct contact with the Soviet Repub lics of Russia. They have sold their wool and their rams to Russia, helping to build up the flocks of Russia. It is to the credit of the present Government that it placed an embargo on the export of rams to Russia, or anywhere else. The trade unions have not sold wool or rams to Russia, or any other country.
– They have never had anything to sell.
– They may not have earthly possessions, but trade unionism has helped in the development of this country as much as capital has done. Thank God, the popular franchise for which Labour fought has enabled it to have its representatives in this and another chamber. I have no wish to prolong the debate, but I felt that I had to rise to defend trade unionism against the attacks made upon it to-night. Trade unionism was responsible for sending Senator Pearce and Senator Lynch into this Parliament nearly 30 years ago, and for giving political birth to Senator Plain and Senator Reid. The cheap sneer of Senator Carroll “cuts no ice” with me. I do not set myself up as a censor of what fhonorable senators care to say; but I resent their bitter attacks upon trade unionism. Honorable senators are well aware of the attitude of Senator Rae and myself to the present Government, but it was not possible for us’ to remain silent under the torrent of condemnations of the trade union movement, and when proposals were being put forward for the abolition of arbitration.
– One expression used was, “ kill ‘em like snakes.”
– If I come under the description of “ snake,” I shall take to killing a few beforeI am killed.
– Again I remind the honorable senator not to make threats.
– While I appreciate your wisdom, Mr. President, those words “kill ‘em like snakes” were used.
– As applied to trade unions?
– I have been here all day, and such an utterance was never made by an honorable senator.
– I do not propose to ay any more. I was in duty bound to place before the country the real facts of the hold-up of the Canberra.
Senator duncan (New South Wales) [9.22]. - Ve have just listened to a very characteristic speech by Senator Dunn. With a certain amount of cunning, he has endeavoured to throw back the attack upon the Government, which he now rushes to defend, by raising an altogether false issue that has not been raised by the Opposition. The whole of the concluding portion of his speech was an attack on the Opposition for saying, as he alleged, that members of the trade union movement were snakes, and ought to be treated as snakes.
– At least one honorable senator inferred it.
– The Minister now is following the very bad example of Senator Dunn in raising an altogether false issue. No such statement was made by the Opposition.
– It was.
– It was not. If it had been, I should have been the first to resent it. I was associated with the trade union movement for many years. I know what it stands for, and there is not an honorable senator on this side of the chamber who has not the utmost respect and admiration for real trade unionism, and for trade unionists who are worthy of the name. But the type of trade unionist which we are told the Government is against is that which can only be likened to a blowfly which, wherever it settles, sets up all sorts of irritation, leading to all sorts of future trouble.
– That type is in the honorable senator’s party, not in ours.
- Senator Daly knows that the industrial blowflies are not to be found supporting honorable senators on this side of the chamber. He knows also that the Government in failing to take action in reference to the two industrial troubles now existing is defending the very type of men for whom Ministers say they have neither respect nor admiration. The Government’s failure to act must be due to one of two things: either Ministers fear these men, or they love them so well, because they are the supporters of the Government, that they do not choose to take action against them. I have always given the Government credit for being opposed to communistic agitators. At any rate, Ministers have told the country time and time again that they are opposed to communism, and that, they do not want communists among their ranks or among their supporters, yet they refrain from doing anything, although they find these men, few in numbers but powerful in influence, insinuating themselves into the trade unions, a few here, and a few there, and getting the control over them because they hang together - and they ought to hang together - exercising a far greater influence than their numbers warrant. They whiteant the unions in which they enrol, and because of their bluster and loud-mouthed braggadocio, impose their will upon the quieter, more reasonable and saner members of the union. Although the latter are in a great majority, and are not inclined at any time to break the laws as these men have broken them, these men point out that if they do not take the course of action they indicate should be taken, the majority will be branded as cowards. And because they are afraid of being so branded, they do not oppose the minority, and find’ themselves led into industrial trouble.
– - -The honorable senator broke away from the Nationalist party. Why does he blame these men?
– It is not a case of breaking away from anybody. Honorable senators of the Labour party tell us that they stand for one set of things, but when they are given control of the affairs of the country, they are not game to stand up to their beliefs.
– The honorable senator’s late leader owes his seat to labour.
– What does it matter to what party a nian owes hi? seat? The position has to be considered from the view-point of whether it is today the same party as that with which he was associated. I am not sure which late leader of mine the honorable senator means. There are men in this party who were associated with trade unionism, and owed their first political elevation to the political labour movement. In the days when they were associated with labour, they were fighting for things which they believed to be right, and in many cases, they are prepared to fight for exactly the same things to-day. But a mair like the senator who is prepared to change his opinions to accommodate changing circumstances-
– Order! The fact that this debate need not be relevant to the bill should not induce honorable senators to indulge in nothing but personalities. I speak to honorable senators who have been interjecting at one another during the last ten minutes.
– I quite agree with you, Mr. President, but I will not permit honorable senators to say things that are so easy to score off without re-, plying to them. Senator Dunn has not always been as kind to this Government and to its actions as he has been to-night.
– I do not intend to be to-morrow.
– He has just shown us that to-morrow he intends to give the Government some hurry-up. But to-night he is charging honorable senators on this side of the chamber with stonewalling the motion. Apparently, he resents the publicity given to the dispute; but we feel that the subject is of such importance that it should be ventilated. A crisis that demand.? immediate attention having arisen, the Leader of the Opposition availed himself of the first opportunity to bring the matter under the notice of the Senate, and to endeavour to obtain a definite, pronouncement from the Government as to the policy it proposes to adopt in order to bring about a settlement of the dispute. Senator Dunn was not at all at ease in endeavouring to apologize for tho inactivity of the Government, and was not happy until he commenced to attack the members of the Opposition.
– He entirely disregarded the interests of those engaged in primary production.
– Yes. He is not interested in the welfare of those struggling to produce for export, and who have tu look for a return from what they produce to enable them to meet their interest and other financial obligations, and also to maintain their wives and families.
The honorable senator is interested only in Schelley and certain other persons with whom he is associated, who feci that the present is an opportune time to disorganize the whole industrial life of the country. Our first consideration should be not for highly-paid men, such as the slaughtermen, who have gone on strike, but for those producing for export. Why should our interest be in the direction of a person who has not worked for Light years, and who has spent his time at ease and perhaps in luxury?- Our responsibility is to protect essential services, and that the Government has failed to do.
– If I make that admission can we get on with the tariff?
– The Assistant Minister is anxious to proceed with the discussion . on the tariff so that further prominence shall not be given to the shortcomings of the Government of which he is a member. Even when we reach the tariff the inefficiency of the Government will be further demonstrated.
– Apparently, the Government is not anxious to get on with the tariff as half a dozen bills have to be disposed of before that can be debated.
– The Government is anxious to discuss almost any subject but that now before the Senate. It realizes its absolute inability to handle the present situation, which, if allowed to develop, may have a most disastrous effect upon the whole community.
Senator hae (New South Wales) [9.38]. - I have listened practically to the whole of this debate, and I find that nearly all the speeches of honorable senators opposite have not been tinged, but permeated, with the most vicious anti-union feelings. Honorable senators opposite have been flagrantly partisan, and have sought iii the most absurd way to associate the Government with the present industrial trouble. I am not here to defend the Government; it can defend itself. There are many important points upon which I am at entire variance with the present Government, but as a matter of ordinary fair play, I object to the attitude taken up with respect to its action or inaction in connexion with the industrial dispute under consideration. Every honorable senator who knows anything at all about industrial troubles must realize that precipitate action might be the means of the industrial trouble spreading over a much wider area, and affecting a larger number than at present involved. Instead of such action being in the interest of those engaged in raising lambs for export, or in other spheres of primary production, it might intensify the trouble which by summary means they seek to suppress. Unfortunately my chief opponent in this debate, with whose remarks I should like to deal, is temporarily absent. Honorable senators who deny that they have said anything in the direction of advocating personal physical violence are only quibbling. Senator Payne said communism should he stamped out as a cancer.
– And I repeat it.
– Senator Greene said that communism was a snake which should be strangled. In most cases communists are trade unionists, and, therefore, an attack upon communists is an attack upon trade unionists. Senator Dunn said that communists were not members of the Australian Labour Party; but the difference between the Labour party and the trades union movement is that one is political, and the other industrial. A person may be a member of one without necessarily being a member of the other. One cannot be an avowed member of the Communistic party and also a member of the Australian Labour Party. I wish to make my position quite clear in the matter. On previous occasions, I have said that there is no fundamental difference between the ethics of communism, and the ethics of the Labour movement. The first plank of the Labour party’s platform provides for the socialization of industry, and socialism is only another term for communism. The terms socialist and communist are interchangeable. I have never sought to deny my political faith, which I think is immeasurably superior to that, of my political opponents.
– Does the honorable senator deplore the existence of these disputes ?
– “What I deplore more than the disputes, bad as they are, is the intolerant, biased, and venomous attitude exhibited by some honorable senators.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. W, Kingsmill) . - Of those three adjectives, I cannot allow the honorable senator to use “ venomous “.
– I do not dispute your ruling, sir, but as Senator Greene was allowed to talk about killing people as he would a snake, I should be allowed to use the word “ venomous “.
– The honorable senator must not reflect upon a decision of the Chair. Senator Greene referred to a movement, and not to an individual.
– Then I withdraw the word “ venomous “, and shall say that they were scandalously unfair. I have never heard a single argument advanced in this chamber against communism. 1 have heard the most bitter denunciation and vicious statements concerning the doctrines which communists support, but I have never heard any one discuss the principles of communism’. That shows that honorable senators are animated with the thought that what they consider a political menace should be exterminated. It is very easy for persons to object to the methods of their opponents, and 1 strongly object to the methods of some honorable senators who have contributed to this debate. The bias of honorable senators is conclusively proved by the fact that they have accepted as the whole truth the absolutely absurd proposition that the dispute has been caused by the dismissal of a man who temporarily filled the position of a seaman who was sick.
– That was the statement of the right honorable the Prime Minister. A similar admission wm made in the Labor Daily.
– I am not responsible for what the Prime Minister stated. Anyone who assumes that the dispute is due to the dismissal of a man who was temporarily employed, is merely looking for an excuse. On its face, that is absurd.
– What explanation does the honorable senator offer?
– Had the honorable senator been listening, he would have heard the statement made by Senator Dunn. It certainly covered the ground, and was much more reasonable than any other explanation that has been offered. In any argument or discussion, no man has a right to assume that an absurd explanation is sufficient, if a more reasonable one oan be advanced.
– We are the . judges of its reasonableness.
– Of course. As a result of my experience as a trade unionist, and a union organizer, I can ay emphatically that the average man has no desire to lose his job, and that a good deal of pressure has to be exerted before he will take up the cudgels on behalf of his fellow man, even though that man may be suffering an injustice. It is only human nature to be rather reluctant to make sacrifices in order to relieve other people of their troubles.
– Does the honorable senator place this single grievance against that of the hundreds who are consignors of goods?
– I am dealing not with relative sufferings, but with the reasons that have been advanced for this dispute having been brought about. I say that it is entirely unreasonable and absolutely absurd, to suppose that any body of men would go out on strike for the reason that has been advanced in this case. It is demonstrably more reasonable to suppose that the story told by Senator Dunn is the correct one. A member of the crew of this vessel became ill, and another man was given his position temporarily. That necessitated further adjustments among the crew. A stoker was moved up to take the position of temporary storekeeper, a trimmer was given the place of the stoker, and an additional hand was engaged to take the place of the trimmer.
– WaB Schelley the additional hand ?
– No, he was the trimmer who was made stoker.
– How long had Schelley been on the boat ?
– I do not know. That, however, is not relevant to this discussion. The man who was employed as a trimmer when Schelley was given the position of stoker should, in the natural order of things, have been returned to the shore when the storekeeper resumed his duties. The other men were shifted back to their respective positions, but as Schelley was sot liked, the opportunity waa seized to fire him, and to put the temporary man in his place.
– Then the representatives of the Government misled tlie Senate this afternoon?
– I cannot help that. Senator Dooley probably placed before, honorable senators the information that he had received. We have obtained later information. I cannot guarantee its> accuracy; but it is much more reasonable to suppose that a body of men would resent an attempt being made to replace a permanent hand with a temporary one, than, that they should seek to prevent a sick man from returning to work when he became well in order that the temporary hand should be retained. I appeal to the common sense of those who have had dealings with bodies of men, to say whether they are likely to be so unjust as to back up a man who wishes to retain a position, that has been given to him only temporarily.
– There have been many instances of intimidation in the ranks of the Seamens Union, and they have caused men to act against their will.
– There may have been cases of intimidation, but this is not the kind of thing that comes under that heading. In this case Schelley has been displaced, and the men have openly stated that they object to his being victimized. While I am exceedingly sorry to see any primary product destroyed, Or its value lost, until we have a social system under which each party will realize that the troubles of others are their concern, it is the duty of the unionists affected to uphold their rights and to defend their members. It is not their province to consider other sections of the community who do not consider them. When have the primary producers demanded justice or better conditions for the men who aro engaged on the wharfs or the ship3? It is equally unreasonable to expect these people to go out of their way to defend the interests of the primary producers. They have, to take what comes to them, and they have a right to defend themselves. They are attacked by the victimization of one of their number, and adopt the attitude that until that victimization is removed they will no longer work for those who are guilty of it. Throughout the history of trade unionism, workers have risked their livelihood to defend their fellow members. That spirit has done more to build up civilization than have all the Parliaments of the British Empire. Organized labour has raised the standard of living of the working classes in every country in which unionism exists, and wherever it is strongest the position of the working class is the best. I join with Senator Barnes in saying that years ago men were persecuted for their political principles and opinions, and were compelled to break the law. I would gladly do it again in similar circumstances.Justice was not procurable either from the law or from those who administered it. Years ago, if a shearer or a station hand was charged with breach of an agreement, or was concerned in any industrial trouble, he was brought before a magistrate who was a bosom friend of the man whose interests were affected, and, in some cases, before justices of the peace who were brother squattersof those who sought to have penalties inflicted upon the offenders. The workers in the pastoral industry were robbed of half the money that they earned. That was scandalous exploitation, which nothing but trades unionism has done anything to remedy.
I wish to deal now with another point, and, in doing so, I shall probably fall foul of some of my union friends. Senator Greene has accused me of being connected with a branch of unionism that is akin to communism, but does not bear that name. Within recent years unionism has shown an increasing tendency to become bureaucratic, and to get into the hands of a clique of officials who have practically run it. Those officials probably have acted with the beat of intentions, and have done what they considered was in the interests of their members. Although the forms may have been democratic, in practice there was no real democracy. The officers, instead of being the paid servants of the union, have been its masters and the dictators of its policy. That system has developed to such an extent that it has caused a revolt in the ranks of many unions, the outcome of which is the minority movement. The rank and file are determined that their paid’ officials shall be their servants and not their masters; that they themselvee shall define from time to time the policy of their organization and the manner in which it shall operate. This minority movement, which has been so loudly condemned, is the very essence of democracy. It acts on the principle that “ those who pay the piper shall call the tune “. When the rank and file consider that their officials have arrogated to themselves powers that they ought not to possess, they have a perfect right to rebel and to ordain that they and not those whom they employ and well pay shall decide the policy of their organization. Those who endorse the idea that an attempt is being made to undermine the underlying principles of society, entirely ignore the fact that the capitalistic system, which honorable senators opposite uphold, has itself become so undermined that it is on the verge of collapse. In every so-called civilized country in the world the conditions are such that a complete breakdown of the system may occur at any time. Consequently, those who are attempting to formulate a new structure of society within the shell of the old are doing what must be done if the world is not shortly to lapse into absolute chaos. I, therefore, offer no apology whatever for holding opinions that other honorable senators may condemn. Communists have just as much right to broadcast as widely as possible the theories that they hold, as have honorable senators to promulgate what experience has proved is disastrous to society generally.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Ministerial Replies to Questions - Ministerial Statements - Excise Duty on Spirits.
Motion (by Senator Barnes) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This morning the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes), in reply to a question asked by me, upon notice, said that a statement would be made by the Prime Minister to-day with reference to the seamen’s strike. Some time ago I referred to the evasive answers given by Ministers in the Senate, and I should like to know now if the Leader of the Senate will be able to furnish me with a straightforward answer to this question to-morrow, or whether I should again put it on the notice-paper?
SenatorE. B. JOHNSTON (Western Australia) [10.3]. - Again I direct attention to the practice of this Government of making important statements of public policy in another place and not in the. Senate. It is desirable that we should revert to the former practice, which was observed by this Government until recently, of making all such statements in both Houses concurrently. To-day, practically the whole of the sitting of the Senate was occupied in the discussion of the seamen’s and slaughtermen’s disputes, without extracting a definite statement from any representative of the Government in this chamber. The announcement made by the right honorable the Prime Minister in another place this afternoon was definite and emphatic, and in marked contrast with those given by tbe Ministers in the Senate. If a statement had been furnished to this chamber on the lines of that made by the Prime Minister elsewhere, it is probable that a great deal of to-day’slong discussion would not have been necessary, because the Prime Minister condemned, unhesitatingly, the action of those who had been responsible for tbe seamen’s strike. It is due to the Senate that carefully prepared statements of government policy should be presented to this chamber as well as to another place. After hearing the Prime Minister’s statement, Ihad no doubt about the attitude of the right honorable gentleman towards those who engineered this deplorable strike.
– I should not have spoken on this motion but for the fact that a wrong impression might bo created in the minds of honorable senators because, as the Minister in charge of the excise tariff, an explanation was not forthcoming from me this afternoon. As honorable senators are aware, the first reading of a measure of that character opens up the field for a general and full discussion upon a variety of subjects. I had no opportunity, at any stage of today’s proceedings, to make any explanation, because if I had done, so, I should have closed the debate.
– A statement could have been made in answer to Senator Herbert Hays’ question.
– That is so, but it wouldnot have prevented the long, discussion which we have had to-day. As a matter of fact, what was said to-day had nothing at all to do with the subjectmatter of the Prime Minister’s statement in another place. Nevertheless, 1 agree that statements of an important nature should be made in both chambers, and I shall join with the Leader of the Senate in making representations that this be done in future.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to a certain matter which is agitating the minds of an important section of producers in South Australia. I refer to a proposal recently adopted in another place, at the instance of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) that spirits subject to the excise tariff shall remain in the wood for a period of three Years.
– The honorable senator must not anticipate a debate on the excise tariff.
-I do not desire to do that, but certain manufacturers of spirits in South Australia are very much perturbed at the reported intention of the Government to accept an amendment of the law in the direction indicated, and I should like the Minister to consider the matter, so that we may have some intimation of the Government’s policy.
– The honorable gentleman should direct his remarks to that subject when the excise tariff is before this chamber.
– I do not. understand the reason for thecomplaintmadeby Senator Herbert Hays, because I thought I had supplied an adequate answer to his question. Some honorable senators, I understand, heard the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) in another place, and apparently they feel aggrieved that they did not get a repetition of it in the Senate. I did my best to enlighten the honorable gentleman as to the situation from tbe point of view of the Government, and stated that it was not desirable to broadcast what steps were being taken in the matter mentioned,because of the danger of inflaming the minds of parties to the dispute, and thus interfering with the carrying on of the business of the country.
-Could not the Minister have read the statement made by the Prime Minister elsewhere?
– The Prime Minister only spoke from notes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19311021_senate_12_132/>.