2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Report by Mr. Scrivener on proposed Federal Capital Sites in the Southern Monaro district, and report by Mr. . Chesterman on proposed sites in the Tumut district.
Addition to financial and allowance regulations, under the Defence Act, to come into force on 1st July, 1904.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information asked for is being collected from the various States, and will be made available immediately it is received. The questions ask for information upon a great many details, the collection of which will take a long time, and be very expensive.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he does not think that allowing drawbacks on the undermentioned imported materials, upon their being exported in a manufactured state, is calculated to operate against the use of similar materials which are or may be produced within the Commonwealth, viz : -
When considering the allowing of drawbacks on the above, or at any other time, was the matter of allowing drawbacks on meat wraps used in the export trade considered?
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions -
In regard to(a), it has always been the practice to allow drawback on the cloth used in manufactures.
As to (b) and (c), it is understood that the Australian timber is not suitable for the particular manufactures for which the imported timber is required.
As to (d), a large export trade is done in articles for which casks have to be used. The object of the drawback is to allow of the return of such casks to be refilled and again exported. Representations were made to the Department that unless drawback was given, the export trade would be much restricted.
As to (e), the object was to encourage the expenditure for labour in the Commonwealth.
It must be remembered that under the Customs Act, all kinds of operations can be conducted in bond, and goods manufactured therein exported free. The provision for drawback is on the same principle.
Should any concession made in regard to drawback be shown to act prejudicially to the interests of any Australian producer, the question of continuing to allow such drawback will be reconsidered.
asked the Postmaster - General, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member, I have to state : -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th July, vide page 2958) :
Clause 62 -
Any of the following associations may, on compliance with the prescribed conditions, be registered in the manner prescribed as an organization : -
Any association of employers in or in connexion with any industry, who have in the aggregate, throughout the six months next preceding the application for registration, employed on an average taken per month not less than 100 employees in that industry ; and
Any association of not less than 100 employees in or in connexion with any industry.
The conditions to be complied with by associations so applying for registration shall, until otherwise prescribed, be as set out in Schedule B.
Upon registration, the association shall become and be an organization.
Upon which Mr. Glynn had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “ industry,” line 14, the following words be inserted, “ Provided that no association shall be registered : -
Unless it has been formed, and exists solely for the purposes of this Act, or.”
Upon which amendment Mr. McCay had moved -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion, after the words “ Provided that,” line 2, of the following words, “no such organization shall be entitled to submit any industrial dispute to the Court when, and so long as, its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.”
– As the debate proceeds it becomes more and more an object lesson to the country. One of the lessons which is being learned by the electors is that a large number of honorable members are trades unionists first and statesmen afterwards.
– Many of them are neither.
– I am afraid that very few are entitled to the latter denomination in its strict sense. To my mind, the Prime Minister has forgotten the dignity andresponsible duties which his very high office has put upon him, and sinks the Prime Ministership in the position of trades unionist, while a large number of honorable members are supporting the Bill with preconceived ideas as to. what it should be, and how it should work. They had not taken into consideration the fact that it must run the gauntlet in Committee, and no doubt pictured to themselves something very different from the present position. Those to whom I refer are largely representatives of trades unions, in some cases having been leaders and in other cases followers. The debate shows that no other question is so dear to their hearts as is trades unionism, and that they are prepared to sacrifice even the measure now under consideration if they cannot get their own way in regard to it. They thought, no doubt, that it would be the ultimate glorification and apotheosis of trades unionism ; but now that it seems likely to become its supersession, they regard it with very different eyes. They pictured an industrial paradise, in which the organizations with which they have been connected were to take entire control, and rule at their sweet will ; but that is not going, to be the case. If it were, the great majority of the workers of Australia would not secure the benefits which the measure is intended to give to them. It has been said over and over again that the basic principle of the. Bill is organization. I think we may all agree to that proposition ; but if we are to have organizations, let us take care that they shall be sound and complete, and embrace not a mere fraction of the number of workers, but all those who can possibly be brought within the scope of the measure. We are bound to see that the Bill leaves the Chamber in such a form that it will operate equitably. It will be of no use to wait until friction occurs between different bodies of workers, or between the workers and the Court, and to then express our regret that certain provision was not made. It will be better to make the Bill as complete as possible in the first instance, than to amend it at a later period, after great injury has been inflicted. In spite of all that has been said by honorable members opposite with regard to the hostile attitude asumed towards the measure by those who have sought to amend it, I. think that I am perfectly safe in saying that, . although a few honorable members on this side of the Chamber may- be opposed to the Bill as a whole, the great majority desire to frame a measure that will work smoothly and do equal justice to all concerned.
– It does not look like it.
– I think it does. Those honorable members who cast doubt upon the honesty of others who may differ from them, are taking a one-sided view. I do not know that it lies in the mouth of any honorable member to claim that he alone is honest. We should all be ready to admit that those who differ from us are as honest as ourselves. The main object of the measure is to facilitate and. encourage the formation of organizations, and, looking at the question with an entirely open mind, I would ask : What have we to do with the existing trades unions? Our aim should be to make provision for the formation of organizations solely for the purposes of carrying out the principles of the Bill. As’ one entirely unconnected with trades unions, and as the representative of a constitu- ency in which there are not .many trades unionists, I admit that I have not been brought into such close touch with the unions as have some honorable members opposite. At the same time, I have, from the outset, taken up a very definite attitude with regard to the Bill, and I have acted consistently throughout. Honorable members opposite cannot expect to have all their own way in carrying out their preconceived ideas. If their object were achieved, and the Bill were passed in its original form, the control of the organizations formed for the purposes of the Bill, would fall into the hands of the trades unionists. A number of instances have been given of the tyranny and exclusiveness of the unions, and these may well make any reasonable man pause before giving them the sole control of the organizations required under .the Bill. We have been told by Ministers themselves, that a few years ago. the Wharf Labourers’ Union in Sydney closed its books, and fixed its entrance fee at £$. and that the coal lumpers did the same thing.
– That was before the New South :wales Arbitration Act1 came into force.
– We have also been informed that a few months ago, three men were told that under an award given by the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, they could not retain their employment, unless they became members of the Wharf Labourers’ Union. They sought admission to that body, and tendered their, subscription, but were kept for months dancing attendance on the union officials, and in the meantime had to subsist on 15s. a week instead of 35s. a week which they had previously been able to earn. This unjust treatment was meted out to the men by the union of which the Minister of External Affairs is President, and although that honorable and learned member said that he did not approve of what had been done, he failed to show us that he had attempted to apply a corrective.
– We had his word to that effect.
– We had’ the word of the Minister that he did not approve of what has been done, but it would have been much more to his credit if he had endeavoured to induce the union to take the proper course.
– He gave honorable members his Word ; he could produce no further evidence. 5k
– We have been told that the Arbitration Court compelled the union to admit the applicants. But why should we have to wait for the Court to take action in such a- case. We should make distinct provision in the Bill itself which would* guard against anything of that kind happening in the future. We must remember that all such legislation is largely experi-mental, and that opinions differ .with regard to the success of similar measures passed by the States Legislatures. The experience gained under those Acts should make us extremely careful in framing this measure. It may be said that it will be easy for us, if we find that the Bill works well, to pass another measure which would have the effect of extending its operation ; but I think that for the present caution should be our watchword. Honorable members on this side have been told that their object is to destroy trades unions, and-that the amendments now before us form part of an insidious attempt to bring about that result. I think that such charges are utterly unworthy of the Prime Minister and the other honorable members who have made them. No such’ idea actuates honorable members on this side of the Chamber.
– Some honorable members have already made that admission, notably the honorable member for New England.
– Although one or two honorable members are entirely opposed to the measure, the fact that the great majority of honorable members are in favour of the Bill was clearly demonstrated when the motion for the second reading was passed without a division. We know that the trades unions have had the effect of uplifting the workmen, and that their operations have culminated in the passing of such measures as that now before us. If such legislation is properly framed and administered, the necessity for unionism, as we have understood it in the past, should cease, and the organizations formed for the special purposes of the Bill should suffice. The organizations should be under the absolute control of the Court. Any endeavour to graft the existing trades unions on to the organizations required for the purposes of the Bill would be like putting new wine into old bottles. We should start afresh, and provide for organizations formed on such lines that no friction can occur. If the present trades unions are allowed to exercise control they will probably attempt to tyrannize ‘ over others as they have done in the past. There should be no chance whatever of the unions closing their doors to those who desire admission.
– The honorable member has already been assured by the Prime Minister that that will not be done.
– What is the use of. an assurance from an individual, even though he be as trustworthy as the Prime Minister ? We are not here to take the assurance of any person as to the future conduct of the trades unions. I believe that the Prime Minister is perfectly honest and sincere, and that he would do his best to carry out any pledge that he might give; but he is only one individual, and would exercise limited powers.
– But he has promised to insert a clause in the Bill that will have the effect of preventing the exercise of the power of exclusion referred to by the honorable member.
– We have not yet seen anything of the proposal.
– Yes ; the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would meet the case.
– It is our duty to see that the door is left open for all those who desire admission to the organizations under the Bill, and that absolute fair play is extended in the future.
– Hear, hear; the necessary provision should be made in the Bill.
– We should not permit of anything in the nature of legislative boycotting. The organization should be solely under the control of the Court, which should keep a complete industrial roll, and should be in a position to offer every man a chance to add his name to the list. The events of the past may well make honorable members somewhat apprehensive of the future unless proper safeguards are provided. We have heard something of the exclusiveness of trades unions, and of the misery and poverty which have been occasioned by it. We desire to remedy that state of affairs if we can. Why do Ministers object to the amendments which are now under consideration? Personally, I think that by acting thus they believe that (their dignity will be wounded. They have held up this Bill to the trades unions as one which will confer enormous benefits upon them by giving them a controlling influence over industrial organizations, and thev do not wish to return to the unions and admit that Parliament has foiled them in that attempt. They do not display as much interest in the Bill now- as they did formerly, because we hear threats that, in the event of their defeat upon these amendments, it will be laid aside. At present they are more concerned in retaining the favour of the trades unions which have supported them in the past. The Prime Minister has told us that, the organizations contemplated by the amendments will be intangible. Why should they be more intangible than are the existing organizations? In my judgment they ought to be much more real and tangible, because, if formed upon proper lines, they will embrace the whole of the workers of the Commonwealth, and not one-sixth or oneseventh of them, as do the present trades unions. The honorable gentleman declares that we have lost sight of the basis upon which the Bill was framed. I claim that honorable members upon this side of the chamber are adhering to that basis. It is the Ministry and their supporters who have lost sight of it, and who are acting according to their own preconceived ideas. We are told that, for executing the decrees of the Court, we must depend upon existing organizations. Why should that be so? The present trades unions have simply to effect a few alterations in their rules, and apply to be registered under the Bill. There is no question as to their destruction involved in the amendments. They are at liberty to retain their integrity and solidity for all purposes other than the purposes of this Bill, should they desire to do so.
– Does not the honorable member think that they are the best judges of what they want?
– But it is our duty to ascertain what the great body of the workers want, and not merely what the trades unions want. The honorable member is the mouth-piece of those organizations, but honorable members upon this side of the chamber are the mouth-piece of the country at large. In my judgment, the Prime Minister made one remark last evening which has an absolutely sinister meaning. He said that the trades unions were required for the “ policing “ of the Act. That is rather a peculiar phrase to employ. It seems to me to imply that the members of the various trades unions will require to exercise a close vigilance, to the extent almost of espionage, upon their fellowworkers, if the Act is to be administered in its intergrity. It constitutes a reflection upon the Court.
– There is no Act of Parliament which does not require some such policing.
– I fail to see that. If the whole of the industrial workers are embraced in the organizations which it is proposed to establish under this Bill, they will do all the policing that is necessary. No special, section- is required for that purpose. It has been said that the opponents of this provision desire to dissolve existing unions. Nothing of the sort. We merely wish to restrict them to their legitimate functions. I would remind the Committee that at the present time only a tithe of the workers are members of trades unions. We desire to make the measure complete by embracing within industrial organizations the whole of the industrial workers, and by removing all restrictions which are calcu-lated to prevent any man from becoming enrolled as a member. In his speech last evening the! Prime Minister could not refrain from having a- “fling” at the farmers. He talked about the Kyneton farmers and Socialists. Now, I claim that we are all, more or less, Socialists. There is no class of the community which does not believe in Socialism to a certain extent.
– I merely had a “fling” at their inconsistency, not at the farmers themselves.
– I do not think that they have displayed any inconsistency- When it is said that they are opposed to Socialism, I would point out that they are not opposed to that form of Socialism which is exemplified in the State control of our post-office, our railways, and our sanitary arrangements. They are, however, opposed to that class of Socialism which aims at the nationalization of all branches of industry, which would tax their lands to the point of confiscation, and which would rob them of the fruits of their hard labour. It seems to me that, in regard to the clause which is under consideration, and the amendments which have been submitted, we have now reached a somewhat peculiar position. The Prime Minister has threatened that if either the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, or that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, be carried, he will abandon the Bill. Yet he is prepared to accept the amendment which has been foreshadowed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and supported by the honorable and learned member for Indi. What is the difference
between the amendments immediately under discussion and the proposal which has been outlined ?
– There is a vital difference.
– There is no difference whatever, so far as the principle is concerned.
– Then why do not honorable members opposite accept it ?
– Will the honorable member accept my proposal in substitution of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, and’ that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella ?
– Certainly not. In principle there is no difference whatever between the amendments to which I have referred and the proposal of the honorable and’ learned member for Darling Downs. It issimply a difference of degree. We all know that a short time ago the Government and the Prime* Minister were very much exercised over the question of granting a preference to unionists. When an amendment was submitted which provided that a preference should’ be granted only when a majority of those engaged in the particular industry affected desired it, the Prime Minister moved the Chairman out of the Chair, and took time to consider the position of the Government. Now, under the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, he is prepared to entirely abandon tlie principle of granting a preference to unionists. He is absolutely giving it away. By accepting the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs he admits the justice of the contention of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, that the rules of many of these trades unions contain provisions that ought not to find a place under the operation of this Bill. He admits that their rules may be wrong.
– I have always admitted that.
– The Prime Minister objects to t’he amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, which is only a slight degree removed from the proposal which he is prepared to accept. The position taken up by the ‘Government is absolutely unjustifiable. If they can accept the amendment of the honorable and learned, member for Darling Downs, there is no earthly reason why they should not accept the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. Last evening the honorable and learned member for Indi made a very long, very clever, and very eloquent speech. But he clouded the issue by a multiplicity of words and by arguments which had no relevance to the question. He asked Why should the unions as at present organized be repudiated?” My reply is that they are not repudiated. Under the amendment proposed the Bill would take no cognisance of them. If . they desired to obtain the benefits to be derived under it they would be at perfect liberty to register under it. The honorable and learned member further inquired, “ Why should they be outlawed ? “ I ask, “ Who is attempting to outlaw them ? “ Was not the honorable and learned ‘member merely playing to the gallery ? Do the amendments which have been submitted justifv the use of such language as he has employed ?
– Does the honorable member say that under this Bill he is going to leave trades unionists alone when he would not allow them to strike, and would permit employers to dismiss them? Is he merely going to punish them?
– If this Bill is going to accomplish what it professes, if it is to benefit the workers in the way that is predicted, I say that the unions should come under its operation. But evidently they desire only to secure control of all industrial organizations. Unless they can obtain that, they will not come within the operation of the Bill, even if bv so acting they deprive sixsevenths of their co-workers of the benefits which it would confer upon them.
– Why should they, give tip their present rights?
– The honorable ‘ and learned member is really asking that they shall give up their existing rights before obtaining the preference which is deemed to be so essential.
– That is not a right; it is a privilege.
– The honorable and learned member asks why should they be robbed of their rights because they take part in politics. No one wishes to rob them of the right to take part in politics. Whether as individuals or as unions they have the same right to engage in politics for their own advancement as has any other class, and no sane man would attempt to deprive them of it. The honorable and learned member, however, wishes to place their political rules, as well as the political, and the other resolutions, the existence of which ‘is admitted by the Prime Minister, under the aegis of the Court, in order to strengthen them under it.
– Not a bit of it.
– The several proposals before the Chair are fundamentally the same. The honorable and learned member for Angas, the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and the honorable member for Darling Downs have really combined and advocate the same principle. Their proposals are in principle the same. The honorable and learned member for Angas says that unions should be required to eliminate from their rules the objectionable features which characterize them before being permitted to register under the measure; the honorable and learned member for Corinella says, in effect, to the organizations, “ We shall allow you to register, leaving your rules intact; but you shall not be permitted to bring a case before the Court- unless you eliminate any political provisions from your rules.” The Prime Minister and his new colleagues say to the unions, “ You must eliminate from your rules the provisions to which objection is taken before you. obtain a preference.” Which of these does the Prime Minister most desire? Does he wish unionists to have a preference or to be kept out of the Court altogether? The difference between the several amendments is the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee.
– Would there be an injury to any one until a union asked for a preference ?
– Would any one be injured if we provided that these provisions should be excised from the rules of the unions before they sought an award?
– The honorable member is evading my question.
– I am answering it as a Scotchman usually replies to a question - by putting another. It seems to me that the difference between the several amendments before us is not worth fighting over. If the Government are prepared to give up the demand for preference for the sake of bringing the unions under the Court, they might very well go a little further and accept the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. We have three proposals before us, and the middle one - that proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella - is fair. A middle course is generally the wisest to pursue, and we should therefore accept that amendment. It provides that -
No such organization shall be entitled to submit any industrial dispute to the Court . . .
All that is necessary in order to bring it into line with the proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs is to omit the words “ submit any industrial dispute to the Court,” and to insert in lieu thereof the words “ any preference.” If the Government are sincere in their desire to pass this Bill, and to give the workers the benefit of such a measure, they will not stumble over so small a difference, but accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and thus secure, not a divided, but a united Committee on the question.
– This Bill has already become historical, and I am of opinion that it will play a still more important part in the history of Commonwealth politics. It was launched in the last Parliament, and I know of no other measure - not even the Tariff Bill - that has met with so stormy a passage. At every possible stage it has been contested, and in’ some cases opposition has been offered by honorable members who vigorously protest that their only desire is to assist the class that it is intended to benefit. The history of the measure is remarkable. The right honorable member for Adelaide, arobust and ah earnest democrat, retired from the Ministry of which he was a member, rather than submit to the introduction of the Bill in what he considered to be a mutilated form, and even his political opponents must admire him for his candour and his earnest belief in the principles to which he desires to give legislative effect. There are other honorable . members who are equally strong in their support of the Bill, and I can conceive of their fighting for it, not only in this House, but on the hustings. I cannot for one moment believe that the Minister who has charge of the Bill could do otherwise than fight even more strenuously than he has done, not only in this Chamber, but on the public platforms of Australia, in support of a principle which he has so often advocated. We are now told that the stumbling-block to the passage of the Bill is the proposal to give a preference to unionists. Some weeks ago, the honorable member for Lang moved a direct amendment against the giving of a preference to unionists. On that amendment, the Go vernment won by a majority of eleven votes, but since then we have had various other proposals in a similar direction. The amendment moved two weeks ago by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, as well as that which he has now brought forward, -and the one moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas, embody the same idea, and although, as compared with the original amendment, they are well-watered proposals, they are really designed to restrict the provision as to preference to unionists. The battle has been raging round the question of preference and the political character of trades unions. I propose to deal with the question of preference. The right honorable member for East Sydney asked last night why should the proposal to give a preference to trades unionists be considered a vital portion of the Bill, when unionists represent only one-sixth of the community? And he argued very skilfully from that stand-point against the principle. The granting of a preference to unionists is not a new proposal. The principle has already been embodied in the Arbitration Acts of New South Wales, New Zealand, and Western Australia, and is provided for in all measures of this character. What is the position to-day? Do we hear any outcry on the part of the people of New South Wales against the preference provisions of the State Arbitration Act? New South Wales is now on the eve of a general election, and if there were any serious dissatisfaction with the State Act we should surely have some evidence of it. As a matter of fact, however, there is not one party or even a candidate standing as an opponent of the measure, or urging its amendment or repeal. I do not mean to say that murmurs of dissatisfaction with the Arbitration Court of New South Wales have not been heard. I have heard many expressions of dissatisfaction, and neither unionists nor non-unionists agree with the way in which various cases have been dealt with by the Court. But no attempt has been made by any party to secure the repeal or even the amendment of the Act. It cannot, therefore, be said that the danger of giving a preference to unionists has been evidenced in the administration of the New South Wales Act, to such an extent as would warrant us in opposing this proposal. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has referred to the position of a powerful union. I take the liberty to say that if we omitted the preference provision of this Bill, not one powerful union would register under it. The more powerful they are, both numerically and financially, the greater is the difficulty in inducing them to subscribe to a Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– The greater the danger to the State.
– I shall deal presently with that phase of the question. One would think from the arguments of some honorable member’s that the one aim of trades unionists was to be brought under such a measure as this. As a matter of fact, trades unions in New South Wales were strongly opposed to the arbitration process at the outset. Powerful unions, like the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, the Iron Trades Union, and the Shipwrights’ Society, in particular - which are numerically strong, including practically all the skilled workmen in their trades - did not voluntarily submit to the Court. .If the principle of preference to unionists were destroyed, I feel certain that they would refuse to register under the Act.”
– As a matter of fact, as the Bill stands they would not be prevented from getting preference.
– I know that the trades unions of which I am speaking would not have registered under the New South Wales Act if there had been no preference. Indeed, it was with the greatest difficulty that their leaders induced them to regist’er in any case. They knew that they were surrendering the right to strike, and also their right to refuse to work with nonunionists. Those were two important principles which they surrendered in the interest of public peace and the. general welfare. Of course, the weaker unions gain, but the stronger unions are like the stronger masters, absolutely in favour of the right of their associations to take . their own course. They would have preferred to retain the right to strike, and to refuse to work, with men who did not belong to their societies. But if, when they have surrendered those two principles, preference is not given to them, their inducement to register will be gone. It has been said that the peace and welfare of the community are conserved by an Arbitration Bill. That is so. But, if this Bill is amended as proposed, and the Government accept it in that form, and if in consequence the powerful unions refuse to register, the class hatred which it is desired to destroy will be stimulated to a much greater extent than we have ever heard of in Australia. I support the measure, although I am not a member of the Labour Party. I am in full sympathy with the Government in reference to it, although I refuse to be drawn at the heels of the Labour Party, or even of my own party. But I have some knowledge of trades unions such as those to which I have referred. I have been acquainted with them for many years. I think that if some of the legal members of this Chamber had a greater practical acquaintance with the working of unions, many of the remarks which have been made concerning them would not have been made. We have been led to believe that the sole object of men banded together in trades unions is to overreach their fellow men, and to make their corporations monopolies. That is not so. I admit that the unions with which I am acquainted have- their weaknesses and their abuses. No one who knows anything about them can contend that their methods cannot be improved upon. But no man who has any knowledge can say of them that their sole object is to promote their own advantage at the -public expense^ The, political flavour which the unions are supposed to have has been much dis cussed. Many honorable members oppose the principle of preference, except the political powers of the unions are’ clipped.’ Others say that they will not vote for any provision that is’ not applied to nonunionists and unionists alike. It seems to me that many honorable members are hot so much concerned with regard to the political leanings or prejudices of the trades unions as they are influenced by the fear that the political power of the unions may be used against their party at election time. But that idea will not stand the test of investigation. Take the electorate which I have had the privilege to represent, not only in the Commonwealth Parliament, but for many years previously in the State Parliament. I suppose there is no constituency in the Commonwealth where the branches of the unions which I’ have mentioned are stronger than in the electorate of Dalley. I may, therefore, be looked upon as a shocking example of the test which I am going to apply. But if the unions have any political flavour or colouring, certainly a great number of their members voted for me as against the labour candidate. The truth is that the members of trades unions do not sell their political views as readily as some honorable mem- bers believe; and the machine politics which they are afraid of do not exist amongst the unions of Australia,- so far as I know them. Take the Society of Engineers. A large proportion of the members of that society are as cool, levelheaded Scotchmen as is the honorable member for Echuca. They do not part with their political beliefs at the dictation of their union leaders. They record their votes as freely as does the honorable member. In the ranks of that union there are protectionists who will fight for protection to the bitter end ; there are also freetraders who will fight for free-trade; and there are Socialists. They do not march to the polls to vote for this candidate or that at the instance’ of any labour leader. It simply is not a fact that the members of the unions are prepared to sell their political birthright for a mess of pottage. No man who belongs to a union surrenders his political rights in any way. Nor would they do so under this Bill. A similar clause to that which the Committee has been debating for some days exists in the New South Wales Act. But there the members of the unions individually and collectively vote according to their political principles, as opposed to what may be regarded as trades union policy.
– No injury has come from the section in New South Wales or in New Zealand.
– If any injury had resulted we should find the leader of the State Opposition, Mr. Carruthers, at the time of a general election, advocating the repeal or the amendment of the measure.
– There is no word of any rep 6; 3,1
– Not a word.
– In the Review of Reviews, Mr. Carruthers supports the measure, and says it is working well.
– All that Mr. Carruthers says is that he is going to give the Act a fair trial, and allow it to work out its own destiny. Mr. Carruthers is the leader of a party, and is asking the electors to return him as State Premier; but he makes no appeal on the question’ of preference to unionists. And that is in a country where the people are not all unionists, but where, according to the right honorable member for, East Sydney, the unionists number only one-sixth of the workers. If non-unionists were so badly treated under the New South -Wales Act, I am sure that at the present time there would be no lack of appeals to the electors on their behalf. Every honorable member who has addressed the Committee has expressed his belief in unionism as an uplifting and grand institution. But when they are asked to do something for unionism, they refuse, asserting that they do so in the interests of non-unionists. Honorable members,, while describing unionism as a beautiful idea, and declaring that if they were workmen, they would themselves belong to unions, refuse to do anything for the institution of which they express such high approval. Even the members of the late Deakin Government disown their own child. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat fathered a Bill which included this very clause; the proposal before us is not the handicraft of the present Government, but is a remnant from the last Ministry. This is not a Watson Bill - it is not a Bill of Watson, the Labour man and trades unionist; but is a Bill introduced by the honorable and learned, member for Ballarat in the interests of the general community, after Cabinet deliberation and reconstruction. As I say, the members of the late Ministry are disowning their own child by supporting every amendment directed against this particular clause.
– At the same time expressing sympathy.
– And deep regret, but “no flowers.” I do not think the Prime Minister will find more than twenty honorable members on this side to support him, except, it may be, the honorable and learned member for Wannon, because we do not know how that gentleman will vote. ‘In all earnestness and seriousness, we must admit with pride that the present Prime Minister fulfils the duties of his position admirably’. That may be said, although we differ from some of his views ; and I hardly think that for the sake of retaining office he would betray the interests of his fellow-workers. The present Prime Minister has, we hope, many years to live; and if he believes - as I know he does - that the course he is now taking is the proper one, he .will be prepared to lose not only the Bill, but also his position as well, rather than see such a principle destroyed.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to hear, the Prime Minister say “hear, hear.” That was not the way with the members of the Deakin Ministry, who would have done anything to get the Bill through when they were in power, but would now do anything to prevent it becoming law. If we compare the trades union Ministry with the late Ministry - the members of which were so solicitous for the general interests of the community - we find that the former would rather lose their positions than sacrifice a principle.
– The Deakin Government did the same.
– None of the members of the late. Ministry are bold, brave, or kind enough to acknowledge the parentage of their own child.
– Oh, yes.
– That is, with the exception of the honorable member for Hume, who is, like myself, the “odd man out” with his party. I do not know exactly, however, to what party the honorable member for Hume belongs.
– Let the honorable member for Dalley look after himself, and leave members of the late Ministry alone.
– I know how to look after myself ; at any rate, I know that the righthonorable member for Swan would not look after me very long.
– The honorable member for Swan would climb into office on the back of the honorable member for Dalley, and then desert him.
– That is a personal matter, which I shall not discuss. I am prepared to advocate the preference to unionists, not only in the House, but outside, and to take whatever risks may.be attached to such advocacy. I am not a member of the Labour Party, and I refuse to be drawn at the heels of that party on any or every occasion; but I am prepared to support as strongly as I am able, any measure in which I believe. Let us see what is the position of this dreaded trades unionism in New South Wales. The Arbitration Court there is in its composition a trades union concern absolutely. It is a terrible thing to say ; but the representative of the . workers in that Court is a member of the Seamen’s Union, while the representative of the masters, Mr. Cruickshank, is connected -with the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. Both of these gentlemen are acquaintances of my own, of over twenty years’ standing. The only member of the Court with whom I cannot claim friendship is the Judge, but even he is a member of a union.
– What union is that?
– The union of the legal profession.
– Which is protected by the. law.
– And very well protected by law.
– And in that union there is a minimum wage, too.
– The interjection of the Minister of External Affairs reminds me of an illustration which may be of use in the argument I am endeavouring to enforce. I know a representative of the public who, as the agent of a labour organization in New South Wales, appeared before . the Arbitration Court. This gentleman was an agent, not a lawyer, but by his ability and application he was able to become a barrister. The case in which he was interested was still before Court after he had become qualified, and he was still the agent of the particular association with which he was connected. -
– Out of love for the legal profession, I do not give . the name. This gentleman appeared as agent until he passed his legal examinations, and had paid the fee necessary to entitle him to become a member of the union.
– The legal union ?
– Yes. This gentleman asked a solicitor of the union to consult with him in open court on the case, but this member of a lower or smaller branch of the union said he could not accede to the request. The gentleman to whom I referred in the first place, said, “ You know that I have qualified as a barrister, paid the fees, and done everything to entitle me to become a member of the legal union.” To that the solicitor replied, “Yes, but you have not yet been called to. the Bar ; and if I were to consult with you I should be under a penalty at the hands of the. Chief Justice, for a breach, not of the rules of the union, but pf the profession.” There is the difference - on the one side are the rules of the profession, and on the other side are those of the union. We find that in this Committee it- is mainly the members of the. legal fraternity who are opposing the provisions of the Bill which conserve trades union principles. A more protected or confined union than that of the legal fraternity does not exist; and although the Court itself is composed of unionists, we hear it said, by lawyers, “ Beware of unionism ; it is bad, and will work ill for the community.”
– They are in a position to know how dangerous unionism is.
– We all honour the medical profession, but what closer or more confined union could we find than that represented by that profession? Members of the medical profession join in the cry against the proposal to give preference to unionists, although they are more guarded and protected, if possible, than are their legal brethren.- So we find unionists fighting against unionists, although it is very, well known that the cry, . “ Beware of trades unionism,” has nothing at all to do with the question. It is asked, “ Why should unionists have preference?” I am here to argue the question, “ Why should not trades unionists have preference?”
– That is the straightout issue.
– Unionists have their organizations for trade purposes. In the past they have adopted the barbaric weapon of strikes, but they’ have been advised to adopt the constitutional methods which abolish strikes, because they have occasioned loss and inconvenienoe to the general community that has had no interest in their struggles. This is not a Bill intended to supersede the States Acts, but a Bill to deal with disputes extending beyond the boundaries of any one State. Honorable members must ask themselves which are the occupations in connexion with which it is likely that such disputes will occur. It is obvious that the persons affected are likely to be the mariners, the shearers, and the railway nien.
– Then why not confine the Bill to persons engaged in those occupations ?
– The non-unionist and the free-labourer never go on strike. One man cannot engage in a dispute which will extend beyond the boundaries of a State. An industrial organization engaged in an industrial struggle must secure the sympathy and support of a similar organization in another State before we can have a dispute extending beyond the boundaries of one State, the only kind of dispute dealt with under this Bill. The contention now is that all persons engaged in industries must be organized. Honorable members have accepted that in agreeing to the second reading of the Bill, and to some of the introductory clauses. In clause 2 we have made provision to prevent locks-out and strikes, to prevent on the one hand the master from using his power rightly or wrongly to shut men out of his works, and on the other the employes striking against their master. In order to effect this purpose we have said that there must be organizations of masters and of men.
– Not necessarily trades unions.
– Honorable members have committed themselves to that, but some of them cannot stand trades unions ; they cannot put up with organizations that have been in existence for a number of years, based on trades union lines, and what they now want is new organizations under this Bill. We are now given to understand that whenever a dispute arises, which extends beyond the boundaries of any one State, the masters and the men engaged in the industry concerned must be immediately organized and enrolled in new organizations; and as soon as the difficulty between them has been submitted to the Court and decided, the organizations are to disband again. Apparently that is the idea which some honorable members have. There are to be organizations for the purposes only of this Bill ; they are to be brought into existence immediately a dispute, which may be dealt with under the Bill, occurs. Any practically, minded man, who knows anything of trades unions, must be aware how absurd it is to suggest that men shall be. organized immediately a dispute occurs, a.nd that they shall cease to be so organized immediately the dispute has been settled by the Court. No organization can. understand the difficulties in the way better than can a trades organization, and no body of men will bring a dispute before the Arbitration Court unless they are satisfied that there are good, grounds for the application they make. Trades unionists are not madmen, who will bring a case before the Court merely for the purpose of bringing it there. They will not submit their case to the Court unless, according to their lights, they have reason to believe they will win it. In the same way, organizations of masters will not bring a case before the Court unless they have reason to believe they will win it. Trades unions have been organized for years, and I know that the Amalgamated Society of Engineers of Great Britain was at one time opposed to arbitration, but has latterly become reconciled to it, and has discovered the benefit’ to be derived from an application to an Arbitration Court. This is the most powerful trades union in the world, and so far as the trades are concerned, the engineers may be looked upon as the aristocrats amongst mechanics. As a rule, thev are men of more than ordinary attainments, of more than average ability, and possessing keen intellects. Though this powerful union had accumulated funds amounting to something like .£350,000 with which to carry on strikes, they found that in their industrial encounters they lost the £.350,000, and their judgment and skill went for nought. To-day they are considering the advisability of abandoning strikes, and of putting their grievances in the hands of an Arbitration Court for remedy. Do honorable members think that trades unionists will do that simply in order to be further handcuffed? Do honorable members suppose that these powerful unions will say - “ We surrender the right to strike, and the right to refuse to work with nonunionists, and we shall go into Court to be further handcuffed.”
– They surrender no legal right to strike.
– I am dealing with things as they exist. If the honorable member for New England desires to view the whole’ matter from the ethical stand-point, we should require no legislation of this kind. If men as units were powerful enough to obtain their individual rights, there would be no necessity either for trades unions or for Arbitration Courts.
– They have no legal rights. That is the point.
– Following that line of argument, every man should be a law unto himself, and we should fall back to the savage state, in which every man would exercise merely his physical powers in battling for himself and for those in whom he is interested. We have become a little more civilized than that, and it is not necessary for men physically to battle for themselves. -
– Let the legal right be given to all. That is what we are asking for.
– If we take the example of the Minister of External Affairs and myself, although I am aware that the honorable and learned gentleman is very plucky, I think that if we had to battle on physical lines and on the principle of the survival of the fittest, with a fair amount of luck. I might expect to defeat the honorable and learned gentleman. We are asking for preference to unionists.
– And we say that is wrong.
– I argue that it is not wrong. Let us take the illustration of a dispute in the iron trade, -affecting the hours- of labour, or the definition of a particular kind of work, which is often a subject of dispute, and suppose that the matter is brought before the Court. Those interested in the trades union connected with the iron industry run the risk of any decision. They subscribe funds to fight their battle in Court, and when the Court has decided in their favour, I am to be told by the honorable member for New England that no preference is to be given to those men. I point out that even that is not asked, and the Bill merely provides that, “other things being equal,” preference may be given to unionists, and the Court may have power to exercise its judgment and discretion in the matter. The Prime Minister intimated three weeks ago that he was prepared to accept an amendment which would take away every vestige of unreasonable power from trades unions. He intimated to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that he was prepared to accept ari amendment to clause 67, which would prevent any union from becoming a close corporation. I entirely agree with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in his proposal in that connexion, and I was very pleased to hear the statement made on that subject by the Prime Minister. We do not desire that there should be prohibitive fees charged which might prevent a man obtaining a living. Last evening the right honorable member .for East Sydney said that what was proposed was that men must either join unions or go without bread. What is proposed does not mean that at all.
– It does mean it, and there have been cases in New South Wales that prove it.
– It is just as well to speak as plainly of non-unionists as the honorable member’ for New England is accustomed to speak of unionists.
– I have not said a word against them.
– Every trades unionist one meets is not a god in disguise, nor is every non-unionist a god in disguise. There is as much of human nature in the breast of a non-unionist as in that of a unionist. I know hundreds of men who are trades unionists, and who are neither honorable nor manly ; and I know thousands of men who are non-unionists who are neither honorable nor manly. There may be some free labourers who have strong individualistic traits of character, but they are exceptions.
There are hundreds of free- labourers- who, as the Prime Minister said not long ago, refuse to join trades unions, not because they are men of a strongly, individualistic type of character who believe in absolute freedom of action, but for quite other reasons ; men who are content to enjoy the higher wages and the better conditions of living which have been gained by the influence of trades unions, without being ready to pay for them. That has been termed a harsh statement, but it is a truthful one. Hundreds of men are non-unionists because they are unwilling to pay the necessary fees, although they accept the benefits which trades unionism has conferred upon them. I am not trying to compel men to join unions. My allegiance to my party is as strong as that of any honorable member; but there are times when I must take a separate stand, and if I do not allow myself to be compelled by party considerations, I shall not seek to compel others. Trades unionists have made their blunders ; but my knowledge of trades unionism in New South Wales makes me know that they have served a useful purpose in the industrial life of Australia. I have heard it said that the leaders of trades unions often stir up strife; but I have known many instances in which they have been opposed to “ projected strikes, which have been brought about by the rank and file of the unions. It is not the middleaged, level-headed unionists who are always ready to strike, but the more buoyant and youthful spirits in the unions. The unions are gradually remedying and improving their conditions ; but, if the Government accept an amendment which will prevent them from interfering in politics, no union will register under the Bill. ‘ If the New South Wales Act were amended in that direction, the unions now registered would refuse to re-register, and Australia would be plunged again into the cauldron of strife and trouble.
– I know that it is so. In New South Wales, within the last nine months, a good object lesson has been taught to non-unionists in an industry which employs between 2,500 and 2,800 persons. The employers, who pay,’ perhaps, the best wages, and give, perhaps, the best conditions obtaining in the industry in Australia, have had only two struggles with their men in the past twenty-two years ; but when they tried to reduce the wages of unionists, these men have been able to suc cessfully resist the attempt, whereas the non-unionist workmen have been compelled to accept a reduction. Iri New South Wales the masters, particularly in the iron trades, are combining, and are seeking to bring .about a 10 per cent, reduction in wages, although if the Tariff benefited the manufacturers they should certainly have received an advantage from it. The unionists, however, by their inherent force, and because of their ultimate right of appeal to the Arbitration Court, have successfully resisted this reduction. Would any man who knows of these -things cast a vote against the principle of preference to unionists, upon the excuse that every man in the community should be allowed to work? When unionists have been compared with non-unionists in this debate, a- number of persons who are masters, or public servants, or wives and daughters of men who are not forced to call upon their families to maintain themselves, are classed with the latter ; but, if, on the one side, we put the unionists and those who sympathize with unionism, with their wives and daughters, and on the other side the non-unionists proper, the difference would be nothing like what ‘ it has been represented to be. That statement is best proved by the result of the recent elections, especially of the Senate elections. But were all the votes which were cast for the members of the Government and, their supporters the votes of trades unionists? Were they not rather the votes of trades unionists and of those who sympathized with trades unionism; the votes of men who would join trades unions if they could do so? Every year new societies are coming within the domain of trades unionism. The members of one Ministry have already resigned over this Bill, and’ the present Ministry, if they value the opinions of the workers and of the masses of the community, will adhere firmly to its provisions, and even resign rather than accept undue interference. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has intimated that he will do that. If he resigns, he will have to stand before those to whom alone he can look for support. I care not for the mouthings we have heard about the beauties of trades unionism and its elevating influence. Now is the occasion to test belief in trades unionism. Those who believe in it will vote to give preference to unionists, while those who fear that this new force will put down the class to which they belong, and destroy their political power, will vote against it. I am prepared to take my stand with the unionists, though it would be easier and simpler for me to fight with my party against them, because I expect no advantage from supporting the Labour Party. I have fought that party for years, and will continue to do so, because I am a strong individualist, and they have in their platform planks to which I cannot subscribe. But if I were an ordinary worker, and could demand entrance to a trades union, I would join one to-morrow. I believe that a big battle is coming in Australia, and that the Labour Party willchange its aims and methods. The honorable and learned members for Indi, Darling Downs, and others are not more associated with their class and calling than I am with mine. The opposition of the right honorable member for East Sydney to the proposal in the Bill is not a new thing. He has been opposed to such provisions for many years past, and has a- right to his own views. But I also have the right to take what I think to be the proper stand in this matter. Honorable members say that they have no desire to injure trades unions, and are fighting the battles of trades unions ; but it will be found that if the Bill is passed as it stands the workers will flock into trades unions instead of leaving them. On the other hand, if this Bill and the States Acts are destroyed, we shall have a repetition of the industrial anarchy which prevailed ten or twenty years ago. Any one who has seen the action of a strike, with its aftermath of suffering on the part of women and children, will know how undesirable that is. The power to strike is, as the right honorable member for East Sydney has said, a terrible weapon ; but if the unionists cannot go to the Arbitration Courts they will use it, and probably in a barbarous manner. I believe in this measure, because it encourages unions to register and take advantage of the Court, and thus tends to avert a serious struggle. I do not wish to speak as an alarmist, but I ask Ministers and the supporters of the Bill if they do not know that if provision is not made for preference to unionists, and arbitration is destroyed, we may have the biggest industrial struggle Australia has yet known. Today in New South Wales the unions are hanging to the Arbitration Court by a small thread. If honorable members think that trades unionists desire to have the Bill passed, they are making the biggest mistake of their lives. A poll of the trades union- ists of New South Wales would show that they would be strongly inclined to get away from the State Arbitration Court, and if no preference is given to them under this Bill, I am satisfied that they will not register under it. The Prime Minister has done all he can in the interests of peace, and in the interests of the very class whom honorable members on this side largely represent.
– In the interest primarily’ of the whole community, to avert the troubles of which the honorable member has spoken.
– Yes. The press and the public have, from” time to time, recommended trades unionists to adopt constitutional methods of attaining their ends. First, it was suggested that they should send representatives into Parliament, and then that they .should try to secure the establishment of an Arbitration Court, so that industrial disputes might be settled peacefully, rather than by the barbaric methods of the strike. Now that the trades unions have adopted constitutional means they are to be denied the preference to members of their organizations - to which they are fully entitled by virtue of the consideration they have shown for the well-being of the community as a whole. The honorable member for Gippsland referred to the conditions which exist in the rural industries. He told us that no strikes had ever occurred in these industries. How could there be a strike among the agricultural labourers unless they were organized ? How could Bill Brown, working in a dairy, strike on his own account, and extend the industrial dispute to New South Wales ; or how could Bill Smith, working on a farm in Queensland, enter upon a dispute with his employer, and extend its scope to South Aus* tralia? There are no trades unions in rural industries, and therefore there is no danger of a strike occurring; but if the agricultural labourers were organized and could exercise the power of striking, the honorable member for Gippsland and others who are interested in rural industries would be anxious’ to bring them within the scope of the Bill. We have heard a great deal about the boycotting for which the trades unions have been responsible, but I would point out that the proprietors of very influential newspapers in Sydney recently entered upon a boycott upon their own account. These newspapers have granted that trades unionism is all right up to a certain point ; but they have their own ideas of the uses to which such organizations should be applied, and immediately the unions begin to exercise their power they condemn them as tyrannous. When the Labour Party proposed to establish a daily newspaper in Sydney, the proprietors of the large dailies there intimated to the news agents, who were not in any way responsible for the policies advocated by the journals which they sold, that if they received advertisements for the proposed labour journal, or sold copies of it, they would be deprived of the opportunity to sell the other dailies. That was a direct boycott ; and yet we are told that the trades unions are dangerous because of the tyranny which they exercise when they attain power. The newspaper proprietors are not above taking the pennies of the working classes. They do not carry on their businesses for fun. Their concern for the well-being of the country is no greater than that of any other men. Their newspapers are carried on as commercial undertakings, and when they found that the labour organ was likely to come into competition with them, they intimated that the agents who sold that newspaper I would be boycotted.
– There was also the British Medical Association boycott at Balmain.
– Yes. Honorable members of the medical fraternity say that it is not fair to give preference to unionists, but they believe in preference to their own members. Their association is far more exclusive than is any trade union. I do not blame them for fighting as strongly as they can in their own interests. The British Medical Association is not a union, and therefore its members are not unionists; but they belong to an association which exercises closer control over the affairs of the profession than do the trades unions over the affairs of the industries in which they are engaged. I was glad to hear one remark of the Prime Minister. He says that he is not prepared to have the Bill emasculated, and that he will surrender his position rather than give up his principles. He is not such a fool as to take up that attitude unless he sees his way clear to placing a clear issue before the country in the near future. I am sure that if an appeal were made to the common sense of the community it would be easy to demonstrate that no danger is to be apprehended from giving preference to unionists, but that, on the contrary, the members of the unions, who are prepared to surrender many of their rights, are entitled to fair consideration at our hands.
– This debate has been considerably extended, and many able and exhaustive speeches have been made. T. do not hope to add much to the arguments- which have been used against the amendment. In fact, I have been struck with the fact that honorable members, who have had a practical experience of trades unions, possess a great advantage over those of us who are simply trying to learn all about them from hearsay or from books. As one who is responsible, to some extent, for the construction of the Bill, I wish to address myself to the proposed amendments in their bearing upon the clause. It has almost been forgotten that the clause provides’ merely for. the registration of organizations, and that it proposes ‘ that, on compliance with specific conditions, certain organizations may be registered. The honorable and learned member for Angas appropriately moved an amendment which would forbid the registration of organizations that have any political aims within the purview of their constitutions. Since then, however, we have gone much further afield. The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member will probably not be carried; but my honorable friend, the member for Corinella, has suggested that words should be inserted to the effect that no organization shall be entitled to submit any industrial dispute to the Court so long as its rules permit of the application of its funds . to political purposes. The clause provides that associations may be registered under certain conditions. Now it is proposed that, even though they may be registered, they, shall not be allowed to submit a dispute to a Court so long as their constitution or rules contain certain provisions. The two proposals are entirely distinct.
Mr.Glynn. - I raised that point, but my objection was overruled.
– Whatever we may think of its merits as a whole, the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas is quite logical and orderly. I submit, however, that, whatever view may be taken of the merits of the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, it is not expedient to jumble up matters in the’ way he suggests, and to insert words which have no relevance to the subject of the clause. The object of the honorable and learned member might be achieved by amending clause 47 or some other clause.
– Or clause 72.
– Yes, that would meet the case. I want honorable members to bear in mind the orderly arrangement of the Bill, and to remember that they will have an opportunity to insert a provision such as that proposed at another stage, if they think fit. The Government certainly have no intention to shirk a division on the subject. Thev desire to know exactly the feeling of the Committee. The offer made by the Prime Minister last night appears to me to go as far as any Ministry could go and still retain its self-respect. The Prime Minister expressed his willingness to insert a provision in the clause with regard to preference to the effect that no organization shall apply for preference if it has anything of -a political character in its constitution. That proposal is placed before honorable members to accept or reject, and it is for them to say whether or not the Prime Minister has reasonably met the objections to this clause. It will be observed - I do not say it unkindly - that those who have honestly and avowedly declared themselves as having no faith in legislation of this kind have expressed their intention to vote for the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. To our minds this fact affords conclusive proof that the amendment would have the effect of injuring the Bill. We have come here for the purpose of cutting the claws of the oppressor, but now an attempt is being made to sharpen the claws of the oppressor by inserting the amendment of the honorable’ and learned member for Corinella.
– Who is the oppressor?
– That side from which oppression comes. We want to do away with oppression from either side. There is no doubt, however, that the oppression comes from the stronger, and not from the weaker, and that all’ the talk we hear about freedom of contract simply means that we should leave to the stronger the power to oppress the weaker. It seems to me that a great deal of ignorance has been shown in some quarters as to the history and trend of the trades union movement. I cannot conceive of any men who know what trades unions have been, what they are, and what their tendency is _ in England, America, and Australia, struggling to prevent trades unions from taking an in terest in politics. Even in England, where politicians have a number of matters other than social affairs to attend to, the trades unions have to keep their eyes open to the movements in Parliament. How much greater must be the necessity for watchfulness on the part of the trades unions here, where all our politics are industrial, where not a single movement in politics that interests the people as a whole, does not directly bear upon the industries and the livelihood of the workers. In Webb’s Industrial Democracy, volume II., page 839, the writer refers to this aspect of trades unionism. He says -
In the democratic State of the future, the trades unionists may be expected to be conscious of their own special function in the political world, and to busy themselves primarily with its fulfilment. First in importance to every section, we put the establishment of a national minimum of education, sanitation, leisure, and wages.
With us, all these matters are political, sanitation, education, leisure, which means holidays, and wages. How could we expect a union, formed for the purpose of bettering the conditions of its members in the trade in which they are engaged, to close its eyes to the political movements in our Parliaments? Our legislation is industrial or nothing. Mr. Webb goes on to say -
But the systematic re-handling of the Factories and Workshops, Mines, Railways, Shops, and Merchant Shipping Acts, which is involved in this conception of a national minimum, will, as we have explained, only secure the base of the pyramid.
Then on page 840, he says -
The Federal Executive of the trade union world would find itself defending complete freedom of association, and carefully watching every development of legislation or judicial interpretation to see that nothing was made criminal or actionable when done by a trade union 01 its officials, which would not be criminal or actionable if done by a partnership of traders in pursuit of their own gain.
– From what work is the Attorney-General quoting ?
– From Webb, upon Industrial Democracy. I may add that I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. arid Mrs. Webb during their visit to these States, and consequently I appreciate more keenly the excellence of their work. The writer continues -
And the Federal Executive would be on its guard, not only against a direct attack- on the workmen’s organizations, but also against any insidious weakening of their influence. It would insist on the legal prohibition of all forms of truck, or deductions from wages, including fines, loom rent, and payments to national insurance funds, or employers’ benefit societies. Above all, it would resist any attempt on the part of the employer to transform the workman’s home into a workshop, and thus escape the responsibility for the carrying out of the conditions of employment embodied in the law of the land.
I feel that honorable members might just as well talk of having a sun without light as a trades union without politics.
– Then, how is it that the Ministry have agreed to accept an amendment providing for the elimination of politics from the rules of the trades unions?
– Evidently the honorable member has not heard what I was saying. The anxiety which some honorable members have displayed to prevent trades unions from having anything whatever to do with politics is perfectly futile and stupid. The Prime Minister has consented - and in doing so, I think, has gone .to the uttermost verge of his duty in the matter - to accept an amendment which provides that no application shall be made by a union for the granting of a preference^ if there be anything in its constitution relating to political aims. The New Zealand Act contained no preference provision.
– It is contained in the interpretation section of that Act. .
– No. There is nothing in the interpretation provision relating to the question of preference. The interpretation section, however, contains a very similar provision to that which is embodied in this Bill. Though it does not contain the word “ preference,” it is so very wide as to allow the Court to deal with any matter relating to trades.
– May I read the words of the section to the Attorney-General ?
– The honorable and learned member may do. so afterwards. Perhaps it will serve his purpose if he will hand a copy of the Act to me.
– I find that the Act to which the honorable and learned member has referred me is. the more recent Statute which was passed in 1900, whereas my remarks applied to the Act of 1894. In that year, 1900, though the Act contained no provision relating to the granting of a preference to unionists, the Supreme Court held that it was within its power to grant such a preference. In the Act of 1900, that position was recognised by the Legislature, and an express provision was inserted dealing with the question. The Court came to the conclusion that for the efficient administration of the Act it must be allowed tq grant a preference in certain cases. The further this debate proceeds, the more I am impelled to the conclusion which was put by an able writer in the Age to-day, who is evidently not favorable to the Ministerial view of- this clause. ‘ At the same time, an admission from an opponent is more valuable than is a statement from a friend. He says -
The question of preference to unionists is still the stumbling block to progress with the Arbitration Bill.
That puts the whole position in a nutshell. The amendment which is under consideration constitutes- an attempt to spoil the granting of a preference to unionists. The. clause does not necessarily bestow any such preference; it merely gives the Court power to grant it, ‘if it think fit. It ill becomes those honorable members who are continually taunting the Ministry with a desire to insist upon their own will as against the law, to exhibit a want of confidence in the proposed Court, and in the integrity of its President, by refusing to vest him with discretionary power to grant a preference to unionists in cases where it may be found expedient to do so.
– The Attor- ney-General is well within his right in contending that the place where it is proposed to insert these two amendments might have been bett er chosen. That is a question of form, the determination of which I am sure the Committee will be satisfied to leave to the honorable and learned gentleman. If this amendment be carried, no doubt he will be able to advise the Committee where it should be inserted.
– Under those circumstances the honorable and learned member will get a good opportunity to put it in himself. He need not be alarmed about that.
– I do not anticipate that result, and certainly do not desire it. In the second place, the Attorney-General employs the old argument thai because those who are opposed either to the whole or a large portion of this measure, are found supporting an amendment of this character, it should be looked upon with suspicion. The declaration that this Bill is chiefly to be used” for party political purposes made by some of his supporters can scarcely be that of the Ministry which is sustained by them. As a matter of fact I presume that, like any mixed body of representatives, we view this question from different angles, and possibly arrive at the same result from a good many stand-points. It is perfectly true - as has been stated - that in this country particularly, politics are very largely industrial matters. It does not follow, however, that unless trades organizations under this Bill are authorized to play a part- in election campaigns their members lose a single political, constitutional, or civil right which they now possess. As a matter of fact”, they do not. The proposal under consideration provides that it is only hades unions as such, whose intrusion into the political sphere is to be limited.. The unions in this city, which meet together at the Trades Hall, compose two bodies, one being a labour council and the other a political league. I think that they meet in the same building, that they consist of much the same men, arid appeal to the same constituents.
– All the unions do not belong to the Political Labour Council.
– But there is no reason why they should not. If there were a law in this State forbidding the unions as such from taking any political action, it would not prevent every member of those unions from walking out of one room into another, and constituting themselves another organization for political purposes. The amendment seeks to lay down that a trades union, whilst acting as such - acting under its own rules - ought not to be a political agent.
– How would the fact of men walking from one room into another provide them with funds? Are they to undertake another burden ?
– If, at the present time, members of trades unions contribute to those bodies for political purposes, surely they could send the same contributions to another organization for the same purpose.
– That would be making a sham of the whole thing.
– I do not wish to reply to sham interjections; but neither of those I have just answered appear to me to have the slightest relevance to the matter under consideration. It may be that, standing at the table in the heat of discussion, I have failed to grasp their real import, but, as far as I do understand them they are irrelevant. I was about to remark that last evening the Prime Minister opened up a more serious question. In one or two of his observations I do not think that he did justice to himself, . and. certainly he failed to do justice to me. I do not propose to repeat the history of this Bill. We all know the troubled circumstances under which it first came into my hands. After having had an opportunity of further considering it, I have expressed my doubts and reservations regarding it. I do not desire to reiterate them. If I had continued in charge of the Bill, sitting upon the other side of the table instead of upon this, I should have been obliged to receive and meet amendments from all quarters. I should have done so to the best of my ability. I should have carried the Bill with as little alteration as possible. I should have accepted amendments which I thought better expressed the objects of- the Bill, and should have resisted any proposal which was aimed at any. of the important purposes it was destined to achieve. I shall do so still. Last evening, the Prime Minister, speaking to me directly, in accents of some bitterness, referred to the manner in which I have dealt with this measure. Consequently, I have looked up the divisions which have taken place upon it since I introduced it. These divisions number . twelve. .Upon eleven occasions I find that I voted for the text of the measure, and on the other I supported an amendment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, which, in my view, expressed a reasonable interpretation of it. I have not once voted against a single line of the Bill.
– I was referring to another matter, as Hansard will show. I admit that I made a reference to other exMinisters.
– The Prime Minister spoke of me, and even did me the honour of pointing to me. However, I accept his assurance. I have not voted against a single line of this Bill, but I shall not hesitate to do so if necessary. Upon five divisions, however, the Government have voted against the Bill, and they have also laid upon the table four pages of amendments relating to it.
– It was not our Bill previously.
– Precisely. When honorable members opposite quote, as they, do continually - and sometimes certain honorable members on this side refer to it - the high authority of the right honorable member for Adelaide, who framed this Bill, and ask us why we dare by proposing amendments to lay sacrilegious hands on a measure finished by so high an authority, I feel constrained to ask the Prime Minister why he considered it necessary to introduce four pages of amendments in such a perfect work? With these amendments it would become the Minister’s Bill. It has already been made a Ministerial measure by the omission of some six or eight of the clauses that it contained when it left the hands of the right honorable member for Adelaide, by the omission of the provision for two permanent members of the Court, to whose appointment he attached great importance, by the proposal that disputes shall be dealt with when they are only likely to extend to another State, and by striking out the provision for the maximum penaltyhe intended. All these are important and vital alterations, and the Government are entitled to make them.
– But they are not alterations in our Bill.
– They are alterations in a Bill that we are told is the masterpiece of a draftsman who understands this subject better than any one else, and yet in the next moment we are invited to modify and amend it wholesale. The two views are inconsistent. I do not say that the Government are not justified in making these amendments, but in adopting that course of action they deprive themselves of the argument they are fond of using. I have not acted unjustly to the Government. There have been eleven divisions on the Bill since they took office, and I have voted with them on seven. They will not be surprised that I did not vote with them on the remaining divisions, when they are reminded of the subjects to which they related. The first of these was on the inclusion of the railway servants ; the next was the amendment to extend the Bill to all States and Commonwealth servants ; and the third was the proposal to include domestic servants, who were excluded by the Bill as brought in by me; all these were amendments of the Bill. That accounts for ten of the eleven divisions. Consequently, I have never voted against the Bill, and have only on one occasion voted against the Government.
– There have been twelve divisions on the Bill.
– That is so, if we include one that took place before the late Government left office. I cannot complain of their action when in Opposition.
– I hope that the honor able and learned member is going to keep vip his record.
– It should not be necessary to refer to the record.
– I do not complain of the honorable and learned member’s record.
– I accept that assurance ; but, although the honorable gentleman, in the course of his speech, may have been thinking of some one else, he was looking very hard at me, and pointing to me. That being so, I not unnaturally assumed that his remarks were addressed to myself.
– The honorable and learned member interjected.
– Quite so. Let me now deal with the proposal before us. So far I have forsaken neither the Bill nor the Government. In entering upon a consideration of arbitration possibilities, I may. certainly, without making any professions, assert emphatically, that I am not anti-unionist. Whether I can claim to be a non-unionist is doubtful. According to the criticism of honorable members opposite, I am a unionist in my profession, but at all events I am not in this connexion or in any other an antiunionist. What is more,’ so far as I had any voice in the framing of this measure, it went, and will continue to go, in support of what I believe to be its fundamental principle. The tribunal to be created under the Bill is intended to be based not simply on the ordinary foundation of a Court of Justice, but to be built on and of organizations. That appears on the veryface of the measure. It is plain both from the interpretation clause and other provisions that it is intended that trades unions shall be free to become organizations, to form part of those organizations, 01 to refrain from connexion with them, as they may think best. My hope is that unions will take full advantage of the Bill, and that they will become either organizations or parts of organizations. As the AttorneyGeneral practically admitted to-day. the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member, If or Angas! is in order, if introduced at the point proposed, and is not out of harmony with the rest of the Bill. He proposes that the organizations to be created under this measure shall be new bodies - as new, he put it, as is the Commonwealth Parliament when compared with the States Parliaments from which it sprang - and that those who desire to set the machinery of this Bill in motion to obtain its advantages, shall, whether unionists or nonunionists, form organizations, 01 become members of organizations when they are formed. It is his desire that unions shall remain as they are, created by or working under State laws, pursuing their own purposes in their own way ; but that for the purposes of this measure entirely new. trades organizations - organizations of employers on the one hand and of employes on the other - shall be established. That is a perfectly legitimate proposal, and the Bill would work under it. The suggestion has been made, however, that if the amendment were carried, there would not be sufficient motive to induce employes to form themselves into new organizations, and that, consequently, the Bill might remain to a large extent a dead letter. For my own part, I think the prospects of advantage, and the pressure upon the employes, would bring them into new organizations, with perhaps some little delay. Therefore, having fair regard to the amendment no one can say that it is aimed at the life of the Bill. I have admitted before, however, and am free to admit again, that I listen in this connexion with great consideration to the opinions of men more experienced in trades unionism than I am. When the Prime Minister put it, as the result of his experience, that the unions had a claim for first consideration, because of the sacrifices their members had made in the past, that they possessed a special competency, by reason of their acquaintance with joint industrial action; that they had gathered to themselves many of the most enthusiastic and able employes, and that, lacking them, the organizations under this Bill would lack a great force and a great mass of educated opinion, I felt that he had made out a good case. lt seems to me, therefore, that, although the proposition made by the honorable and learned member for Angas is permissible, it is highly desirable - hav-. ing in view the advantages to be gained by associating trades unions with this measure - not to exclude them, as would be the effect of his amendment, but to afford them every opportunity,, if they think fit, to come in and enjoy the benefits that this measure would confer, bringing with them the ‘men trained in industrial matters, who have been gathered in their ranks. In these circumstances, it is reasonable to request the honorable and learned member for Angas to reconsider his position in the light of these facts, and to ask himself whether it is not possible to accomplish the ends at which he aims - or the practical portion of them - without placing unions at the disadvantage of undertaking the formation of entirely new bodies. Speaking generally, but frankly, the whole of this Bill is based upon organizations - organizations of employers on the one side, and of employes on the other - for what honorable members prefer to refer to occasionally as collective bargaining. There is no doubt that the measure will depend largely for the extent of its operation and efficiency upon the character of the organizations on both sides that are established under it.
– The honorable and learned member is not overlooking the fact that single employers are recognised to the same extent as is a whole organization of employes.
– When they employ more than one hundred persons they are. That is inevitable. It is not unfair to either side, and although it leads to certain arithmetical puzzles, some of which the honorable and learned member for Indi favoured us with last night, the woes of the man who has ninety, and not 100 employes, and cannot become an “ organization,” or the woes of employes who are ninety, and not 100, in number, and therefore cannot constitute themselves an “organization,” are not material matters- that should affect, our view o’f the general scope and character of the Bill. Such apparent difficulties are inevitable in a measure of this kind, and, indeed, in most measures designed to deal with large bodies of men. .1 was pointing out, when the honorable and learned member interrupted me, that the whole Bill is ..based upon organizations, and that the object of those organizations is industrial. During the greater part of this debate one would have imagined that the industrial portion of the Bill was subordinate. We have heard a great deal as to how the unions are to be affected in one direction or another; but very little as to how they are to be affected industrially. This Bill does not relate to political disputes, much less to political party disputes. The word “matters,” which is perhaps *he widest in the legal vocabulary, is employed, but it is to “ industrial matters” alone that the Bill relates. It is an industrial Bill, to deal with industrial disputes and industrial matters in order to establish industrial peace. It seeks only to achieve that end. Well might it stop short of seeking to accomplish other objects, in view of the almost inconceivably vast area covered bv it. That area is enormous, not because the Bill will embrace the , whole Continent, but because it will extend to all the ramifications of industry, to all the industrial pursuits of men, constituting when taken together, a mass of material, to be handled judicially, that may well require the stoutest hearts and keenest brains to cope with it. As we have that gigantic task in hand, and are attempting it with great courage, should it not be the last desire of any friend of the measure to hamper it by the addition of more dead weight, by throwing in other problems, or by introducing other considerations ? Especially should they avoid plunging us into a new field of heated strife, when we are already engaged, by the very nature of the case, in putting limits to the most serious strife that can exist in the bosom of a pacific people. If this Bill gives nothing more, and is needed to give us nothing more, than industrial peace, by means of industrial organizations, what more could, or ought to be, asked of it? Benefit funds - sick funds if honorable members choose to speak of them in that way - are established in connexion with some unions, sometimes collected!, as in the case of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, and sometimes paid in advance, as in the Australian Natives’ Association.
– That would not be the case if we accepted the amendment.
– That matter is not touched by the amendment. .
– The amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas would go further than the honorable and learned member thinks.
– I do not think so; but perhaps the honorable and learned member would do well to substitute for his general proposal something aiming more specifically at that which he seeks to accomplish. If it be desired to associate with purely industrial propositions certain other propositions - that when men gather together for industrial ends, they may also jointly provide against accidents, or against sickness, which is another kind of accident, and for the heavy expenses which fall upon a poor family in the case of funerals - there can be no possible objection. These matters, if not directly industrial, are so intimately associated with industrial considerations, that it would be idle and a waste of time to sever them. But for all that, it has to be recognised that all these admirable additions are not essential for the purposes of this Bill. This Bill might be a conspicuous and bril liant success if no such provisions were made by any of the unions to meet industrial needs. Then I do not think the Prime Minister will question the accuracy of my memory, or of the brief reports published this morning, when I say that he favoured me last night with a taunt concerning my ignorance of the political character of trades unions.
– I said that it might have been appreciated’ earlier.
– It is never too late to learn. I have been learning lately. But in order to show the stand-point from which I have always approached this question of the character of the trades unions, when formed into organizations for the purposes of this Bill, and the part they were to play under it - to show what I have always thought on the point - may I quote a few sentences . from the speech that I made in July, 1903, when first introducing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. My observations are reported in Hansard on page. 2862. I will refer honorable members to the following passage.’ I said -
At the present time we have unions of employers upon the one side and of employes upon . the other. Up to ‘ this time they have practically been bodies whose purposes have been beneficial in regard to their several members, but belligerent and hostile to one another. This measure proposes to work an entire transformation in them, and to convert them from contesting parties ranged inbattle array into organized assistants, by which the principles embodied in it shall be brought into play. Thus the unions of employers will no longer exist to wage war with the unions of employes, but each will study and prepare its case just as a litigant does before a court of justice, Each will be responsible to its own members for its action, and also responsible for them - because the “ organizations,” as they are here termed, speaking of the unions both of employers and employes, are made agencies of the Court. We enlist in support of the principles of the Bill, not only the ordinary power of the State, but those unions created by the contesting parties, hitherto used only in their own selfish interests - taking the word “selfish” in its legitimate meaning. They are no longer to be employed merely in their own interest, but also in the public interest, as aids -to the Court, and as means for giving effect to this measure. That transformation is important enough in itself, but even with the’ assistance of these organizations the task which confronts this House in the creation of this tribunal is undoubtedly of a most momentous character - one which is not to be lightly undertaken, and one which, when it is undertaken, can never be relinquished. It marks the beginning of a new era in industrial matters.
What I then thought of the organizations under the -Bill, and what I thought of the trades unions as part of them, is there clearly explained. They were to be agencies, of the Court.- They were to be aids to the Court. There was no thought in my mind at that time, nor for long after, that it was possible for those bodies at the same time to be party-political agencies. Such a suspicion never crossed my mind. I looked at them purely as industrial bodies. ‘ I was charged with the introduction of a Bill for the settlement of industrial disputes, and political disputes were then farthest from my consideration. The only reference to the point which I can find in a hurried examination of my speech when I again introduced the measure in March this year - as reported on page 772 of Hansard - is as follows : -
When we have made all these provisions of machinery, we have not, by any means, concluded our task, because, under this Bill, as was explained last year, the organizations themselves, the unions of employers on one side, and the unions of employes on the other, for both are included, are sought to be made extensions of the machinery of this Court. The object is, by the organization of employers on the one side and of employes on the other, to enable findings to be binding; to allow the decisions to cover a large area ; to prevent isolated disputes, and to enable broad principles and practices to be definitely adopted in particular trades. This is done by organizations created under clause 62, and capable of being registered under that clause. They are the bodies which have the power of referring cases to the Court under clauses 31 and 72. They are entitled to be represented before the Court, at the argument, under clause 35; they are incorporated under clause 65 ; their rules require to be such as the registrar approves, according to the -schedule of this Bill - see also clause 63 - and they may have their registration refused or cancelled, as I have already pointed out. By all these ways and means they are, so to speak, constituted a part of the machinery of justice. They are required to administer it with their members, and are enabled to do so. They are required to assist the Court in carrying out its findings, and in working this measure. Because this Bill seeks, as its ultimate goal, the organization of industry on both sides.
There, again, without having the least idea that the question now under discussion would ever be raised, how did I speak of these bodies ? How were they in my mind ? As part of the machinery of justice created to assist the Court.
– Hear, hear; there is nothing inconsistent with that in the idea which we have in this respect
– That showed, and showed frankly, the only conception I had formed of these bodies; and my silence in regard to any further operation of theirs was the silence of innocence. But my honorable friend, the Prime Minister, and those who speak with him, discussed these proposals at length, and discussed them in detail. I have not been able to search their speeches. But certainly nothing which they said at any time suggested the idea that these organizations were ever to be capable of being political bodies; still more of being party-political bodies.
– That is a matter altogether apart from the object of this clause ; there was no necessity for that consideration to come up, in my view.
– It was referred to in the second reading debate by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– The honorable member for Wentworth may have given expression to some apprehensions to that effect, but I am not aware that the idea was ever expressed to us explicitly. I took his reference to be part of his opposition to the Bill, and not by any means as being his view of the explicit purpose of the Bill. That, at any rate, certainly was not my view.
– Did not the honorable and learned gentleman contemplate the existing organizations being utilized?
– Yes; but I never in any sense contemplated their being party - political bodies. I am told now that, as far as New South Wales is concerned, probably 90 per cent, of the unions have no political objects. So far as I knew, 100 per cent, of the unions in this State did not possess any political relation.
– In the State of Victoria, the honorable and learned member must have been aware that the unions have been charged with being political bodies.
– But they have always denied the ch’arge. They have never admitted it to be true. I do not know that they have connected themselves with political or party political questions as unions.
– That is another ques- tion ; there are some political questions that they must deal with as industrial unions.
– That depends upon the definition of the word “political.” As far as I am aware, whenever their members have dealt with party politics, they have done what every citizen has a right to do, and what no one is entitled to blame them for doing. They formed leagues or political councils or associations - whatever we choose to style them - for the promotion of the political opinions of those who belonged to them, to accomplish some common end. But I have never viewed trades unions as political bodies. I have always regarded any political colouring imparted to- them as diverting them from their right purpose, and as weakening their influence in the direction iri which it could be best employed. If the association connected with the profession to which I belong, and which has been termed a union, had ever even attempted to use political coercion on its members, I should have been one of the first to protest. I have now come to the crux of the argument, which I have been endeavouring to- lead up to - the view which I take of this Bill as one who, not only by his statements, but by the whole course and current of his political convictions and opinions, is entirely adherent to the principle of conciliation and arbitration. But I say emphatically that the bodies which we create by this Bill - these creatures of the law - which have been made part of the machinery of the Court, ought, like every Court, to be put far above partypolitics and their influence. I maintain most strongly that what I am expressing is a view, not only not antagonistic to the Bill - certainly not antagonistic in any sense to trades unions - but is in every essential in favour of the new organizations, whether formed of, from, with, or without trades unions. This is properly described as a question of principle, because a principle is involved. But it is not an industrial principle that is at stake; it is whether industrial agencies are to be made- political. It is not a question relating to industrial matters or disputes, or necessary in, any way to the attainment of industrial peace. Those are considerations outside, and belonging to another arena. Considerations of the convenience of the usefulness of political activity by the unions have been brought forward by honorable members, and many of them have a great deal of force. When you have a body of men collected together into a trades union by the fact of their pursuing kindred industrial pursuits, forming a compact body in association with other similar bodies, standing shoulder to shoulder for their own advantage, as they are entitled to do, what is more natural than for the politician to say - “ If I can obtain that united phalanx behind me ; if I can secure command of a portion of its funds; if I can get control of its paper, and if I can induce these unions to attack my adversaries, I shall obtain the command of one of the greatest potencies which I can enlist on my side.” There is nothing more natural than that politicians, under those circumstances, should set out to capture the unions. But that ought not to be our object. It is a purely industrial measure which we have before us, the object of which is to obtain industrial peace.
– That is the trouble.
– That is not the trouble, so far as I <am concerned. My political ideas are quite radical enough to secure me the support of .the members of these organizations. But what I say is that to give the organizations a political character would be subversive of the very purpose of their creation, and of their character and independence. This Bill is to settle industrial disputes, and bring about an era of industrial peace.
– The same consideration applies to the employers on the other side.
– The other side will be placed under the same limitations, so far as they are represented under this Bill. They will consist of much smaller numbers, and, therefore, can be much more easily brought into other communication with each other. Of course, the union of a few hundreds imposes nothing like the burden that is imposed in the uniting of thousands.
– They are more powerful in purse.
– That is inevitable. The difficulty arising out of the great disparity in numbers is obvious. It is not to be denied, but has to be confronted. But I do ‘ say - and I say it to the credit and praise of unionists - that, in my belief, there has been more public- spirit and genuine self-sacrifice exhibited among them than has been exhibited by their opponents. By that means the unions have made themselves more than the equals - they have made themselves the superiors - of the men against whom they have been, ranged. Small numbers and length of purse have not helped the employers when fighting against the self-sacrifice and loyalty of great bodies of men. But I hope honorable members will not lead me into an interesting but irrelevant discussion ; I have no desire to detain the Committee. If I see this matter as clearly as to myself I appear to see it, no friend of the Bill, or of industrial peace, will allow the means of obtaining industrial peace - the machinery of an Arbitration Court-to be used for party political warfare. Those two ends seem to me to be absolutely and inherently in contradiction.
– We are only asking for a provision similar to that which appears in every other Arbitration Bill.
– That may be.
– And the honorable and learned member must have known that.
– My knowledge of the working of Arbitration Courts has been derived from reading the New Zealand and New South Wales reports ; and, while I find the common rule and preference to unionists often granted or refused, I have not noted, except in the one case, that of the Australian Workers’ Union, any instance in which the political nature of an union arose.
– It is not proposed to alter the New South Wales Act because of that instance.
– So far as I know from my reading, that is the only case in which political questions came up. Judge Cohen held that:, under the New South Wales law, trades unions were not prohibited from entering upon the promotion of most of the political objects of the Australian Workers’ Union. But there were certain of the rules which he held went even beyond political liberty.
– There was one rule, I fancy.
– Three, I think.
– It was held that one rule was against the law.
– And then Judge Cohen required that those rules should be altered.
– Yes; he did not object to money being voted for political purposes.
– But so far as I remember, that is the only case in which the question arose. I assumed - and I have heard it stated - though perhaps it is erroneous - that the Australian Workers’ Union was the oniy union with rules of a political character. It was those rules which were challenged in this particular case, but I regarded it as the one “ swallow “. which did not “make a summer.” What I am now contending for is the view originally taken by me, namely, that these organizations are intended to be - and, to be effective, must be - practically an extension of the machinery of the Court. That view, which may be analyzed, is one which ought to have great weight with us in the consideration of this question. The formations of organizations is not only encouraged under this Bill, but, in addition, an organization is given power to enter the Court and be represented there; to obtain awards which shall be binding, not only on that organization, but, naturally, on the corresponding organization of employers, or, if the Court think fit, on employers not organized. There is not only this authority to claim awards, but the Court has power to extend an award, under a common rule, to those who have never been summoned before the Court, or who may never have been engaged in an industrial dispute. In addition, there is the right to ask and the right to obtain, if the Court is satisfied, preference to unionists - which we are still discussing - or rather, to be correct, preference to members of organizations, whether they be unionists’ or non-unionists. The unions, by becoming organizations, are thus placed in a position of higher standing. They are enabled to control and recover fees and dues from their members. In every way the unions will be strengthened for the great duties they are called on to perform. The unions become, therefore, creatures of the law, endowed by law. They are endowed with those exceptional authorities and powers; and for what purpose? F.or the purpose of securing industrial peace, and for no other purpose whatever. Consequently, it appears to me that, in the very nature of things, if these bodies are to work free from friction, from suspicion of bias in the exercise of their great powers, they must be kept free from party politics. I say frankly that I do not share the opinions of- many honorable members in this House on this matter. I look forward, under this Bill, to a steady and extensive growth of these, organizations. I believe that the impetus which the Bill gives to their formation will be such that wherever industrial grievances exist organizations will arise ; and that those organizations, with the powers intrusted to them, will be enabled to solve industrial disputes.
– Would the Seamen’s Union join under such circumstances?. Let the honorable and learned member come down to concrete fact. There are only two or three unions involved.
– I think there are a great many more unions involved, but I can see no reason why that union and others should not join.
– Why should they? Of what advantage would it be to them?
– Because if they are organized, they may obtain an award which . can be made the common rule all over Australia.
– But if they indulge in politics in the slightest degree they can get no award.
– That is only as a union. Outside its walls they may indulge in all the politics they please every day of the week, on every platform, and in any manner they like. Only when they go into the union room they must taboo politics ; and by that I mean party politics.
– Who is to decide when politics begin to be partv politics?
– Trust the Court.
– The amendment does not say “party politics.” We are willing to trust the Court absolutely, and have no amendment.
– Does the Prime Minister mean that we cannot trust the Court to interpret what are politics and what are party politics?
– All politics are excluded, and if the amendment be carried the Court will be constrained, so far as I can glean, to exclude any union the rules of which have any mention of politics.
– No ; there are only two limitations as to rules and fees.
– Are unions to take all the penalties and have none of the advantages ?
– That happens without this amendment; the danger of being subject to penalties without reaping any benefits was argued last night. Any body of men who do not become organized are capable of being brought under the Bill as regards penalties, though claiming none of its advantages. If that is an objection at all, it is an objection to the whole Bill.
– According to that there could be no trades unions outside; all existing union’s which have political objects could be immediately brought under the Bill-
– They could be.
– And the result would be that those unions would be’ practically illegal.
– They could be brought under the Bill, but it does not follow that they would be absolutely illegal, because the phrase is “ so far as may be applicable.” There is that latitude; but with that exception the honorable and learned member is quite right.
– They could not go into the Court
– Certainly, they could not; and that is so under the Bill as it is, quite irrespective of the proposed amendment.
– That is so, if the amendment is carried.
– It is so if the amendment is not carried. If the honorable and learned member looks at the interpretation clause he will see that without this amendment, exactly the same conditions obtain. That is to say, a body of men, if they do not choose to register as an organization, cannot claim any of the benefits of the Bill. If there is an association of employers, for. example, who do not register, and an association of employes in that trade do register themselves, and bring a case before the Court, the Court may give an award binding or penalizing the employers. That is provided in the Bill already, and must be provided. Let us take another case : Two associations of employers 01 employes do not register themselves - and a dispute arises between them which extends beyond the limits of any one State; if the Court thinks the dispute is of sufficient importance, it m’ay, on a certificate by the Registrar, bring both associations under the measure. In addition, there is a third reserved power by which the Court, of its own motion, may create an organization from any association anywhere. By these means the Court may subject to penalties those who, by their own will, remain outside the benefits which the measure offers. The Bill is perfectly fair, because it offers an open door.
– Is the honorable and learned member quite clear that a dispute, on a certificate from the Registrar, can be brought under this Bill?
– That is so, if the dispute extends beyond one State, and the Registrar thinks it is in the public interest to bring it under the Bill.
– I think that the honorable and learned member will see, on consideration, that he is not right. “ Industrial dispute “ is limited, and, as I understand the Bill, means a dispute between an organization of employers and an organization of employes.
– No; if the honorable and learned member for Indi will look at sub-clause b of the interpretation clause, he will see the words “ certified by the Registrar as proper in the public interest.”
– But it must be an industrial dispute within the meaning of the Bill.
– “ Industrial dispute” means a dispute in relation to industrial matters. Sub-clause b provides that “ industrial dispute “ means a dispute
– If the honorable and learned member refers to the interpretation clause, he will find that “ industrial dispute “ is limited to a dispute between an organization of employes and an organization of employers.
– I am quoting the interpretation clause.
– Will the honorable and learned member refer to sub-clause a?
– In addition there is sub-clause b, which I regard as most important. Sub-clause a relates to appeals which are brought by organizations of either employers or employes, while subclause b, without regard to whether the parties are organized, or not organized, gives the Court power to step in, so long as the dispute extends beyond the limits of one State. In my opinion, a Court, constituted in this fashion, will find that it is its duty to step in if the dispute is of the least magnitude. The intention of the Bill is not merely, as some honorable members seem to suppose, to arbitrate under a kind of voluntary registration, of which people may, or may not, avail themselves as they choose. The Bill, in its very nature, implies that any unregistered association of either the employers or employed in any industry, can, by the Court’s own act alone, be brought under the measure. The Court has power to step in of its own motion, without waiting for any organization to move, so long as the dispute extends beyond the limits of one State.
– That must be when the dispute is actually raging.
– I know that is the Minister’s point, but it is not material at this stage. It is quite true that the dispute must be in existence, or, if the Minister thinks the expression more picturesque, when it is “ raging.”
– I mean, there must be an actual dispute.
– I quite agree; but the power of the Court goes further if the dispute is legally in existence.
– I mean the Court would then, under the section, be justified in interfering.
– That is a matter for the discretion of the Court. If the Court saw that a dispute existed in more than one . State, or was about to become expressed in a strike or lock-out, it certainly would interfere. However, I am being led astray from my line of argument. Honorable members opposite, who are ardent advocates of anything that looks like an extension of power under this measure - whether it is so or not - may be asked whether they have considered how largely the whole of this Bill depends upon the operation of extra legal penalties and extra legal forces. This Court is endowed with authority to impose penalties of a very serious character, and it can deal with recalcitrants in that fashion if it thinks fit. But, as I have pointed out from the time when I first introduced this measure, this Court, in a sense that can hardly be postulated of any other Court, must be reinforced by public opinion. It is to the power of public opinion, more than to the penalties, that we must look for the success of this” measure. Public confidence is ever the key to the settlement of industrial disputes; it is our only means other than those of force. It is recognised that the forces of the community which we possess in times of peace - our police, our gaols, and so on - would be altogether inadequate to cope with a gigantic Federal strike. What we rely on is not these outward and visible signs of authority - very real within a certain narrow sphere - but upon the judgment and conscience of the community. It is to that judgment and conscience that the Arbitration Court will appeal, more than to the policeman or the gaoler. And how is public confidence in the Arbitration Court and in its assistant machinery capable of being sapped more disastrously than by blurring these industrial organizations with the colouring of party politics?
– The honorable and learned member did not think that when he was sending the soldiers out to shoot us down.
– Not being in Queensland I had not that opportunity ; but I should say that the honorable member for Maranoa would be about as good a mark as could be found in the chamber. I am not sure that I see the connexion between my references to public confidence and the sending out of the soldiers to shoot down unionists.
– The honorable and learned member said that public confidence would carry weight against the soldiers, policemen, and gaols. But the honorable and learned member did not think that when he was sending out soldiers to shoot down unionists.
– First of all, I did not send any soldiers out to shoot down unionists.
– I said that the honorable and learned member forgets it.
– But the fact that the honorable member for Maranoa, who was engaged in that struggle, and imprisoned for his part in it, sits where he is to-day, is the best demonstration of the truth of what I am saying. When those who were charged with the executive duty of maintaining order in Queensland thought fit to deal with that dispute, in a manner which I will not discuss now, because it is foreign to the subject, they dealt with the honorable member and others by means of the police and gaol, and with what result? The honorable member sits where he does as a representative of the district in which the dispute was waged, because the force of public opinion has supported him in the action he took. I do not say that police and gaols are not momentarily and temporarily effective, even in a struggle of that kind. They are; but what I do say is that public conscience is a greater power, and that it ultimately overrides the temporary use of policemen and gaols.
– They are not of immediate value without the latent authority behind.
– They are not of immediate value by themselves, but they are of permanent value. What we are looking for in this Bill is an endeavour so to shape or so to encourage the growth of public conscience and judgment in matters relating to industrial disputes, that we shall have their immeasurable forces behind us. and shall not require to rely merely upon barred windows, or blue-coated policemen. Can honorable members conceive of anything that would, to a greater extent, undermine public confidence in the proceedings of these organizations, which are, as I have said, part of the machinery of the Court, than that they should consist of, or be led by, pronounced political party men who might be influenced’ to lead them, in a party direction, or to direct them to take party action? Whatever justification there may be, or may not be, for it, the public will always, in these circumstances,, suspect political motives of influencing the action taken by these organizations.
– Many of these organizations do their business for themselves, and are not led. I should like to see the honorable and learned gentleman try to lead some of them that I know.
– Has not the honorable member for Darling done it very successfully ? I have no doubt the honorable member could give me many lessons. Can honorable members opposite not realize the part these organizations are to play, and must play, under this Bill, and that if the organizations do not succeed the Bill will be, to a large extent, inoperative ? Can they suggest a more fertile source of misrepresentation or of weakness than’ the suspicion that, instead of devoting themselves to bringing about industrial peace, and the settlement of industrial disputes, they may be employed by party political interests, necessitating action or inaction at a particular time ?
– We are quite willing to take the honorable and learned gentleman’s draft of the Bill.
– I am helping honorable members opposite all I can to draft it now.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is helping to put a draught through it.
– The alterations I desire do not constitute a tenth of those whichthe Government propose.
– But they are more farreaching.
– They are not nearly as far-reaching as are many of the proposals of honorable members opposite br the newproposals of the Ministry, which are quite as far-reaching as anything contained in the original Bill. With what is the whole of this great machinery intended to cope? It is intended to cope with sweating, unjust, or insanitary conditions of labour, and, in fact, with the whole of the circumstances surrounding the employment of the great body of the people.
– Is the fiscal question a party question ?
– Not always in the sense in which the term is sought to be used here. Instead of setting forth either the merits or the demerits of a proposal relating to the industry of which the members of an organization form a part, they, in addition to that, undertake the work of active political leagues outside, which put them into party grooves to oppose other parties and use their influence and force for these purposes.
– Is the fiscal question a party question ?
– It may be at any moment ; it usually is. I am afraid that it is not found’ in the union programmes today.
– It is. That shows how little the honorable and learned gentleman knows about it.
– The honorable member for Kennedy should not be dogmatic. I have been assured within the last week by one who is intimately acquainted with the subject that it is not so.
– Then they have altered their programme.
– They have altered their * programme within the last few weeks, I believe.
– The honorable member for Yarra knows whether it is so or not in Victoria.
– I think it is rather a pity that it should be- removed from any programme, but the baleful influence of the honorable member for the Barrier may.be partly responsible for it.
– Is it a party question or is it not? I suppose it all depends on the coalition ?
– The honorable member for Barrier must have his joke, and he is quite welcome to it. .
– We sympathize with the honorable and learned gentleman.
– I have not always had the honorable member’s sympathy. These organizations under the Bill are industrial bodies created for industrial purposes, and clothed with legal powers. My whole point is that being clothed with these legal powers, they should not use them, and should not use their institution or their organization for any but industrial ends and purposes, and certainly not for party political ends or purposes. The honorable and learned Attorney-General has said that Ministers have gone to the edge of the cliff in agreeing to accept an amendment which will require that unions or organizations asking for preference shall have separated themselves from politics as thoroughly as they would under the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, both from political expenditure and enforced political action upon their members. I recognise that this is a great step. In taking it, Ministers have certainly relieved me of the necessity of putting what I think would. have been an unanswerable case against its extension to that point. But if honorable members have followed the line of argument I have been pursuing, I think it will show how, from my point of view, an award, and a common rule, no less than a grant of preference to members of an organization, call as loudly for the removal of party political colouring.
– Who is injured by it at those stages?
– I say that the organizations themselves are injured.
– I do not think so.
– I say that they are injured in their power, influence, and independence as industrial organizations, and as agents of the Court.
– We may leave them in the enjoyment of their ignorance.
– The great bulk of the unions who are at present free from party colouring will not suffer. They can come in at once without the slightest difficulty, and none of them will lose a single political’ power or privilege. None of their members will be called upon to pay towards any purpose of which they do not approve a single farthing of their contributions. They will be left just as free as ever they were to adopt any political platform they please outside, to advocate it how and where they choose, to form associations to formulate their ideas in any manner they please, and to capture as large a proportion of Parliament as they can. No one will take the slightest exception to their action in this respect; no one can; but ‘ when we bring our unions into relation with this Court and make them practically a part of the Court - they are called “ industrial “ unions in a neighbouring State - when we attach them to an industrial Court for industrial purposes we are not asking from them any sacrifice of any real power or any political privilege, when we ask that in the interests of labour, in the interests of industrial peace, ‘ these bodies, as a part of the machinery of the Court, should be kept entirely free from party politics. Otherwise what are Ave contesting? Here we are obliged, in spite of ourselves and of this measure, to enter into the consideration of a matter which is .not industrial at all. Honorable members opposite will admit, because they must, that everything that an organization is required to do under this Bill can be done - and I say can be very much better done - as thoroughly and as well without any reference to politics at all. Every power which an organization has conferred upon it, either in the way of obtaining awards and giving them effect, securing in their interests common rules or securing preference for their members, can be gained without any infusion of politics into them as organizations. This being an industrial measure for the promotion of industrial peace, and it being granted by’ every member of the House that we can accomplish everything we have in view under this measure, and secure everything within the immense scope of this Bill, while leaving organizations free from party politics, why should we, because some few of the unions happen to be associated with political proposals, from which it would be inconvenient for them to dissociate themselves, imperil the whole of this measure for this small gain ? Why should we inject into this measure or its organizations a political colouring? It is a movement which is in this respect parallel with the religious movement, because it ought to be kept absolutely free from all taint of party politics? Our great social and religious organizations, if they are to be allowed free and full development, can only attain it in a community in which men shall be free to think and act as they believe right, entirely irrespective of party politics. It is just as wise, and just as sincere an aim to keep the industrial sphere free from their intrusion, as it is to keep the religious sphere free from it. If honorable members will look at the matter in this light, they will agree that this amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella does not affect anything in the Bill, or relating to the Bill, or affect the” efficient working of the measure. Ministers who resist it are seeking to retain some political power for a few unions, because in the past they have retained it. Even they have not found it useful as unions. The unions are never any stronger as such on account of this colouring, and are rather imperilled by it. The only possible gain from allowing organizations to continue political is a gain to the politician, and to no one else. The unions as unions in fulfilling their union work, or as organizations under this Bill in fulfilling 1 their part, will not be helped by political colouring being imparted to them.
– Are not the best judges of that the unions themselves?
– The honorable member and I are not the best judges, because we appeal to these organizations for their support, and get the advantage of their support if they share our views-
– I ask whether the unions are not the best judges’ of what is union work.
– Certainly, but this is not union work.
– The unions must decide that for themselves.
– Under this Bill we require the assistance of the unions. Without their assistance this Bill will be inoperative.
– No; I think it will be operative. I need not repeat my point, I think I have made it as plain as it is possible for me to do. If I have not succeeded, honorable members will at least understand that there is a great deal of substance from my point of view in the argument I have raised, which goes down to the very foundations of the measure. It is because I have great expectations of the Bill, because I have great hopes of the organizations which will be registered under it, and of the work in which they will engage, that I am anxious to keep them free from all political objects and duties. Members of unions, like other individuals, will be at all times free, as they are now, to take any .political action they choose, but not through the union organizations. The unions must devote themselves to union work, arid the political labour leagues to political work. This separation of the various branches of industry has been the very basis of the whole development of modern industrial enterprise. Honorable members should be prepared to follow the natural line of evolution, and accept the division of duties, whereby politicians act together for political ends only, unions for industrial ends only, and religious bodies for religious ends only. In this way we shall have the freedom of all maintained, and the interdependence of each preserved. By confusing the altogether separate sphere of technical industrial development or the relation of employers and employed with the burning issues of party politics we may benefit individual politicians, but we shall injure, possibly vitally, the operation of this Bill, so far as it appeals to public confidence. We foster the belief that men are not approaching the Court with real industrial grievances for which they seek industrial remedies, but are putting them forward for party political purposes. Nothing could damage its cause mote than the suspicion that an organization, instead of seeking to secure justice for its members, was only trving to compass political ends.
– Last night I asked the Prime Minister if at a later stage he would accept an amendment which I then outlined, but seeing that we are to have a vote to night in regard to the position of unions having political rules, I desire to move my amendment now.
– The case is urgent.
– At any rate, it is my desire that my proposal should be dealt with now.
– Have the Government accepted it?
– I do not know. The Prime Minister last night said that he was prepared to accept an amendment on the lines indicated, but would not bind himself to the wording I employed. I wish to move -
That the amendment of the amendment be amended by the insertion after the words “ entitled to,” line 4, of the words, “ any declaration of preference by.”
At a later stage, if my amendment be carried, I shall move the omission of the words “submit any industrial dispute to.” Honorable members have stated that they object to any compulsion whatever being put upon persons to join a union having political objects. I agree with them. The amendment of the honorable member for . Corinella provides in effect that no organization shall be allowed to submit a dispute to the Court if any of its rules have to do with a political object or purpose. My desire is not to refuse to any organization which has political objects the right to submit a dispute to the Court, but to prevent such an organization from obtaining a preference which will compel persons to join it. The difference between the amendments is one of substance.
– Under the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, the members of a political union could register under the Bill as -a separate organization.
– The members of such a union could not submit a dispute to the Court if the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella were carried. Under that amendment no trades union whose rules permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to take ..any action of a political character, could submit a case to the Court.
– Until it amended its rules.
– Until it abandoned its political objects altogether. My point is that the industrial matters over which the Court has jurisdiction are clearly defined by the Bill, and the Court will not be able to give decisions having a political character. It can deal only with matters of an industrial nature, and every organization should have a right to submit such matters to it. The honorable and learned member foi Ballarat referred to the fact that trades unions which are not registered can be brought before the Court on the . certificate of the Registrar, and the decisions given for or against them will be binding upon them. If the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella were passed, unions having political objects could not ask anything at the hands of the Court, but if there were a dispute, and the Registrar was satisfied that some such union should be brought before the Court, he could compel it to appear. That is a manifest inconsistency. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said that the unions- would be the creatures of the Court, and that having been endowed with great- powers and privileges, they should not use these advantages to gain political ends. But while, under the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, a union having a political object could not bring matters before the Court, it could, on the certificate of the Registrar1, be brought before the Court.
– Ninety per cent, of the present unions could come before the Court.
– The amendment of the honorable and learned member excludes unions with political objects from bringing’ matters before the Court.
– But under the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs a union having political purposes could not be brought before the Court.
– That is not so. Under my amendment no union having political objects could ask the Court for a preference. ‘
– Nor could it be brought before the Court.
– Yes, it could. Any union can be brought before the Court on the certificate of the Registrar. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat says, “ Keep all your unions in existence,” and the honorable and learned member for Angas says the same. “ Let them fight as much as they like for political objects, but do not let them be registered under the Bill, and obtain the advantages conferred by the measure while they are fighting for political objects.” The Bill already provides, however, that the Registrar may bring any body, whether registered or not, before the Court. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat laid great stress upon the fact that the object of the Bill is to create organizations which are to be the machinery of the Court, and upon which the Court is to rely in enforcing its awards. At the same time he said that he hoped that the existing unions will be the unions which will register.
– I still hope so.
– But the honorable and learned member thinks that unions which have political objects should not come under the Bill.
– Very few unions have political objects.
– There are very few that have not.
– Very few have party political objects.
– My experience qf the last twelve years has been that the unions always use their influence for party purposes. They have constantly taken part in agitations to secure measures which they believed would advantage the members of their particular class. As was pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Indi, if honorable members trace the history of unionism in other parts of the world, thev will find that there has been continual fighting on the part of the unions to obtain statutory recognition of their rights. However, the point I wish to emphasize is that the effect of the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella would be that, whilst a union with political objects could not go into the Court as a plaintiff, any one could move the Registrar, and have it brought under the operation of the Act. If a union were brought before the Court, the decision given in regard to the dispute in question would be binding upon the union, and, according to the honorable and learned mem ber for Ballarat, the Court would have to look to the leaders of the union to enforce the award. I submit that such a position would be intolerable. It does not matterwhat are the political objects of a union, so long as it does not ask for preference for its members. All the Court can do, in the event of a dispute in which a union with political objects is involved, is to decide the matter in dispute. Its award will then become binding upon unionists and nonunionists alike. Such a dispute could only involve industrial matters, because the Court could take cognisance only of matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights or duties, preferential employment, and so on. All these matters are industrial, and the Court could not go beyond its powers to the extent of conferring any political favour upon one side or the other. It would have to give its decisions fairly and impartially upon the industrial matters submitted to it. If an organization, which had political objects, asked the Court to give preference to -its members to the exclusion of others, and the Court granted such preference; it would practically put compulsion upon all non-unionists to join the union. The Prime Minister, however, promises to make a concession to the extent of excluding from preference all members of organizations having political objects. I submit my amendment with a view to affording the Committee an opportunity to deal with the matter on its merits.
– -On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I desire to say that when the honorable and learned member for Corinella moved his amendment, I took the objection that it was not relevant to the object of the clause’ or to my amendment. I now take similar exception to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, namely, because it confuses the issue raised by my amendment. If it is not relevant to the clause, it cannot be relevant to the amendment. I would again refer to May as to the relevancy of amendments. At page 278 it is laid down that -
It is an imperative rule that every amendment must be relevant to the question on which the amendment is proposed.
Again, at page 459, the law is stated with perfect clearness, and directly against the admission of the amendment -
No amendment can properly be proposed to a clause which is irrelevant to the subject-matter of such clause.
Now, I ask, is the question of preference relevant to the subject-matter of a clause dealing with the registration of organizations? I submit that it is not, and I would again point out that if the text of May is to be regarded as obligatory, the amendment cannot be entertained. It deals with a matter which properly belongs to clause 48.
– I submit that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs is quite relevant to the proposition of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. The’ latter amendment proposes to insist that no organization with political objects shall be allowed recognition at a particular stage in the course of a dispute, namely, upon the submission of a dispute to the Court for its award. There are’ three stages, first, registration; secondly, the submission of a dispute; and, thirdly, the stage at which preference may be asked for. There may be even a fourth stage, at which the application of the common rule may be sought. The amendment of the honorable and le’arned member for Darling Downs merely states that the prohibition against organizations which have political objects shall come into operation at a later stage than that suggested in the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I do not see anything irrelevant in that.
– A.s regards the relevancy of my amendment, I understand that the Chairman has already ruled that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is relevant.
– Does the honorable and learned member really think it is relevant?
– The Chairman has ruled that it is relevant. All that I propose is to make a limitation, which restricts to a certain extent the . effect of the amendment. The honorable and learned member for Corinella proposes that no union with political objects shall be entitled to submit any industrial dispute, whereas my amendment would permit such a union to submit a dispute, but not to obtain any preference for its members. I do not limit the scope of the amendment any further than that.
– I should like to knowwhether it is competent for me to move a further amendment on the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs? I have no objection to the prohibition of preference. I desire to know whether it is competent for me to add the words “ or to.”
– With regard to the point of order raised by the honorable and learned member for Angas, I have already ruled that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is in order, and I see no reason to alter my decision. I am also of opinion that the amendment proposed by the honorable andi learned member for Darling Downs is in order. I would repeat the statement I made previously, that it is not within my province to consider which is the most convenient, or, if I may use the term, the most proper, place to make an amendment. It is my duty to consider whether it is possible for an amendment to be moved at a certain stage, and I rule that it is not impossible to insert the amendment as proposed.
– I did not hear, the definite statement which I understand was made by the Prime Minister last evening, with regard to the attitude of the Government towards the amendments. I have read the reports published in the press, but I have not been able to derive any specific information. I should like the Prime Minister to now say whether, in the event of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella being carried, he proposes to abandon the Bill, and further - this is, of course, a secondary question - whether, in the event of the Bill not being proceeded with by the Ministry, they will resign. I only ask the question, because statements are being privately circulated which, if there is any truth in them, should be made publicly. I should be disposed to reconsider my vote if the Ministry regarded the amendments as so vital as to induce them to abandon the Bill. I do not wish to deliver the Bill into the hands of its enemies, or to allow its chance of being placed upon the statute-book in a satisfactory form to rest upon the good-will of the party which is mainly dependent for support upon the opponents of the measure. I am very sorry that the Prime Minister has considered it necessary to adopt an uncompromising attitude with regard to the amendment, because I consider that it is a very proper one. I believe that the clause without the amendment would be a blot upon the Bill ; although it is largely met by the further amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. I hope the Ministry will not persist in maintaining the attitude which has been attributed to them. I do not wish to see the
Bill abandoned by the Ministry simply because they , will not accept an amendment which seems to me to be a proper one, but for the reasons I have mentioned, if a public statement, without any equivocation, is made by the Prime Minister, that the adoption of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella will lead to the abandonment of the Bill, I shall vote with the Government.
– I thought I ‘had said sufficient on this head last evening to indicate to the Committee that I looked upon the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, and that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, as of very grave importance. I used the words that there must be a point at which drastic alterations in the Bill should stop, and that I should regard the carrying of either of the amendments as bringing us to that point. I do not wish to say anything more than that.
– Would the Government abandon the Bill.
– We shall not abandon the. Bill whilst the Government remain in office. We occupy our present position in consequence of this measure, and if it is not to be carried in the shape that we think satisfactory, we shall take the first opportunity that presents itself to go to the countrv. or leave these Benches.
- Mr. Chairman-
– Will the honorable member kindly give way to the honorable and learned member for East Sydnev ?
– Certainly. ‘
– The Prime Minister has made an announcement somewhat in the nature of a Ministerial’ statement, and since the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has not made any comment upon it, I wish to. do so. I wish to say that the question whether, or not, this Bill is to be abandoned, does not rest, with the present Ministry. To begin with, the Bill does not belong to them. Even if this Ministry had introduced the Bill, it would not belong to them; because the moment a Bill is adopted by the House on the second reading, or even from the point at which it is laid on the table-
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to ask whether the right honorable gentleman is in order in interposing himself before another honorable member, and in making a speech that is not relevant to the Bill, but which is simply a reply to an answer given by the Prime Minister to a question asked by another honorable and learned member.
– The honorable and learned member for East Sydney.
– I would ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether the honorable and learned member is in order. I am not. going to be treated with discourtesy.
– Order. In my opinion, the honorable and learned member for East Sydney has not transgressed the rules of debate.
– May I ask, Mr. Chairman, if the honorable member for Hindmarsh gave way to the right honorable member for East Sydney ?
– I understood him to do so.
– I think you misunderstood the honorable member, sir.
– A statement has been made by the honorable member for Melbourne which is not quite in accordance with fact. I understood the honorable member for Hindmarsh to give way. I ask him if he did not do so at my request..
– Yes, Mr. Chairman.
– The honorable member for Hume is evidently suffering from influenza, and therefore I do not attach any particular importance to his interruptions. What I wish to say is this : the moment a Bill is submitted to this House it ceases to be the property of the Ministry which introduces it, and becomes the property of the House. If that be so in the case of any Government which introduces a measure, it is doubly so in the case of a Ministry whichi takes up a Bill that belonged to the House before it came into existence. This Bill has been looked upon by all sides as a non-party measure in this sense-
– Oh !
– Surely the Prime Minister does not say that it is the exclusive property of the party which is now sitting upon the Ministerial benches?
– Its introduction was very largely due to our advocacy.
– Of course; everything has been due to that during the past twenty years. We have heard that statement often. So far as this Bill is concerned, I decline - as I stated the other night, without any reference to what has just transpired - to consider it as the property of any particular party in this House, irrespective of whether there be one, two, or three parties. I consider that any Ministry which comes into power must necessarily shoulder the responsibility of taking up this Bill. Had the present Government abandoned it, they would not have remained upon the Treasury benches for twentyfour hours.
– We should not have deserved to do so.
– The present Government came into office as the result of an amendment upon this Bill, which was carried against the Deakin Ministry. They so far recognised their duty to proceed with it that they did not even withdraw the Bill of the late Government, but took up that measure at the stage at which it had been dropped. So far as I am concerned, I desire to point out not only that this Bill is the property of the House, but that it is the bounden duty of any Ministry which happens to be in office, to see that it is carried into law.
– In what shape?
– That is a matter for the Committee to determine. May I also suggest to the honorable and learned member for Corio, that we are reaching a curious state of things if, in a matter affecting hundreds of thousands of- people, the vote of Parliament upon a question of principle is to depend upon whether John Smith or John Brown has the management of an Arbitration Bill.
– The right honorable member must not forget what he said on the first day that this Government met the House.
– I hope that I do’ not. I hope that nothing which I said on that occasion diminishes the effect of what I am saying now. I claim that this Bill is the property of the House, that it has the support of every party in the chamber, and that whenever any Ministry grows sick of it, it is the duty of any other Ministry which may be formed to take care of it.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).- The right honorable member for East Sydney has just informed the Committee that this Bill is the property of the House. But I would point out to him that when a measure was under consideration the other day, and certain amendments were moved which did not meet with the approval of the Barton Government, the Ministry instantly threw it under the table. That did not look as if it were the property of the House. At any rate, if it were, the Government reserved the right to do what they chose with it. It is within the power of the pre sent Ministry to adopt the same course if they feel so disposed. I trust that they will refuse to accept either the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, or that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, or that of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. If any one of these proposals be carried I maintain that the usefulness of the measure will be very largely destroyed. I listened attentively this afternoon to the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat,’ who claimed credit for having been a good friend to this Bill up to the present moment. I fear now that he is about to change his attitude. What is the position? The honorable member for Echuca has assured us that honorable members opposite are the friends of unionists. They have even applauded them for the good work which they have accomplished. Yet they are actually asking unionists to surrender the most powerful weapon which they possess, whilst the non-unionists are being called upon to sur-. render nothing.
– We have been told that we should “trust the Court.”
– That is an inane interjection at the present moment. I realize exactly what is the intention of honorable members opposite. They wish to destroy either the usefulness of the Bill or existing trades unions. It is immaterial to them which of these two objects they accomplish. In my judgment they would prefer to destroy the unions, because they conceive that by so doing they may save their own political skins. I ask honorable members for a moment to reflect upon the causes which originated a demand for this class of legislation. It was demanded, not because of any disputes between employers and nonunionists, but because of differences between employers and unionists. It was recognised on both sides, not only that the unionists and their employers suffered as the result of these industrial disturbances, but that the general public also sustained serious injury. Consequently, we do not desire to obtain an Arbitration Bil] in the interests of non-unionists in particular. The unionists have always fought for what they conceived to be their just claims, and they have never obtained any concession in which the non-unionists did not share. Precisely the same condition of affairs will continue to prevail if a preference be granted to unionists. Is it fair to ask them to sur- render their only weapon - the power to strike - without giving them something in the nature of a return? Decidedly not. What does the right honorable member for East Sydney propose? He proposes to assist the honorable and learned member for Angas to extract the oyster, and to fling the shell to the trades unions. Then, when these organizations exclaim, “ Our hunger is not appeased,” he will doubtless turn round and say, “ There is the industrial measure which the Labour Party gave you.” Rather than accept any of the amendments which have been outlined, I trust that the Government will abandon the Bill. During this debate a good deal has been heard about the political actions of trades unions. It is admitted that these organizations are legal, and that their work is legal. Indeed, we had a splendid eulogy of their work from the honorable member for Gippsland. If their work is good, would it not be well if all men belonged to them? As an employer, I may be permitted ‘ to instance a case in point. A non-unionist approached me some time ago, and offered to work for 30s. a week, although the standard wage was £2 15s. Had I been able to employ him, under the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, I should have been obliged to dismiss from employment a man with a family, who was in receipt of £2 15s. That is the kind of preference for which honorable members are arguing.
– In the case which I instanced the non-unionist was the man with the family, and the unionist was a single man.
– I ask honorable members to look not only at Australia, but at the whole of the civilized world. What do we find? That disorganized labour always receives the lowest payment, and works under the worst possible conditions.Can honorable members contend, with any semblance of accuracy, that non-unionists do not benefit equally with unionists by any reform ? Now, as to the question of political action. What has been the ‘ experience of the past ? In South Australia the trades unions are affiliated with a distinct organization, which is called the United Labour Party, and they contribute is. per member per annum for political purposes. The whole of the political work, however, is done outside their union rooms. All that they are called upon to contribute is is. per annum. Outside of the Australian Workers’ Union, no
unionist has ever been compelled to vote for a parliamentary labour candidate in preference to another candidate holding different views. No pressure is brought to bear upon their members.
– The honorable member for Wentworth received thousands of unionist votes at the last election.
– If the members of the trades organizations in South Australia do not choose to work for the labour candidates they are at perfect liberty to assist any other candidate. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat affirms that this measure is intended to deal with industrial disputes. I am quite certain that only industrial disputes will be submitted to the proposed Court. That tribunal will take no cognisance of the political work of the unions. Nobody has yet contended that the political work of these organizations is opposed to the best interests of the community. Indeed, my own experience is that the most intelligent workmen in the community belong to the trades unions. Both as a workman and an employer I have found it beneficial to belong to a union. It is very singular that, whilst similar legislation to that which is now proposed was being discussed in New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia, not a single word was uttered in regard to the political work of these unions. It was never suggested that they should be prohibited from engaging in such work. I invite honorable members to closely examine the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, and to see how it will operate. Let us assume that it is carried, and that organizations are established simply for the purpose of dealing with industrial disputes. What will be the position? Honorable members opposite affirm- that certain non-unionists cannot belong to the present unions on account of their political aims, but that they will be able to associate themselves with industrial organizations. How many unions are men to be asked to join? We are all aware that no individual employe in a factory dares to complain to his employer of the insanitary arrangements of the establishment in which he works. In South Australia there is a statute in operation known as the Workmen’s Compensation Act, which is being evaded by one of the largest employers in that State - I refer to the Moonta and Wallaroo Mining Company. Under that Act every miner who is injured is entitled to receive certain compensation.
No premium must be deducted from his wages.. But the fact remains that the men do not receive the compensation to which they are entitled. What hope would an individual member of a union have of complaining with good effect to his employer that his friend, or the widow of his friend, was entitled to compensation? If he made such a complaint, he would be at once discharged. If an organization of the kind suggested were to demand that compensation due to an injured workman be paid, the union would be immediately struck off the register. The more we examine the amendment the more clearly we must recognise that it is simply an attempt to destroy unions as (hey at present exist. I am astounded that men who shriek for liberty should wish to deny to unions the right to determine for themselves to what extent they should go. The law authorities will see that they do not exceed their legal powers. Have they not a right to do as they please with their own funds? Many of those who shriek for liberty would say to them - “ You shall spend your funds only as we think best.”
– The amendment now accepted by the Government prohibits the use of the funds of a union for political purposes.
– So far as I am aware, no amendment has been accepted by the Government.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has been openly accepted bv the Government.
– I am satisfied that no union will accept it. Even if the Government agree to it - : -
– Will the honorable member vote for it?
– Not as it has been proposed. Let me point out what the position would be. I know of several unions that would not register. Are we to allow industrial strife to prevail because of a desire on the part of some honorable members to do something of which the unions would not approve, although they are prepared to give them the right to register or to refuse to do so? Are we going to allow the industrial strife which at present obtains to continue? I hope not. Honorable members opposite do not care whether we have industrial strife or not. Take the position occupied by the honorable and learned member for Angas. Every one knows that he has never been the friend of industrial legislation. Every one who has sat with him in the State Parliament of South Australia knows that he has done all in his power to mutilate industrial measures. He has always evinced a peculiar genius for securing the insertion of abstract terms, requiring the interpretation of the Court, in industrial measures. I have the highest opinion of his ability; but it is that very ability that has enabled him to introduce provisions that have destroyed some of the most useful pieces of legislation in South Australia.
– The honorable member for Angas made the passing of the first Land Tax Bill n South Australia possible.
– The honorable and learned member is one of the bitterest opponents of land taxation.
– The honorable member does not know that he is.
– He was a supporter of the tax at one time.
– I fought under his leadership twenty-five years ago.
– A few months ago members of the late Government were favorable to a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Where are they to-day ? The honorable and learned member for Angas was once a very strong supporter of land taxation, and I would ask what position does he occupy to-day. I maintain that unions have a. right to spend their funds in any way they think best, provided that they keep within the law.
– As long as they are voluntary unions.
– As long as they keep within the law. Honorable members have no more right to attempt to dictate to them how they shall spend their funds than have unions the right to say how we shall spend our money.
– We think that they should be permitted to spend their funds as they please, but that they should not be allowed to force men to join their ranks.
– I belong to one of the strongest unions in Australia, and have had experience of many, but I have never known a union to force a man to join its ranks.
– The Bill would force nonunionists to become unionists.
– I do not wish to coerce any man to join a union. I should not care to see a man compelled’ against his will to join a union to which I belonged, because he would be only a source of discontent. I know many who are prepared to take all the advantages of trades unionism - to participate in benefits which but for trades unions they would not have secured - although they are not prepared to join them. These are the men for whom the honorable and learned member is fighting in the name of freedom. He would give them freedom to take advantage of all that other men have gained, very often as the result of enormous sacrifices. That is the freedom he commends. Would honorable members prevent a private individual who secured heavy damages in an ordinary law suit from devoting the money so obtained to political purposes, if he desired to do so ? A proposal to do so would be scouted as absurd, and surely what the individual may do, individuals should be able to do collectively? There is nothing in the argument that moneys obtained under an order of the Court might be devoted by a union to political purposes. How many verdicts are the unions likely to secure? Is it not reasonable to assume that in no case will the damages or penalty awarded recoup the union the expenses incurred by it in securing the decision of the Court? Even if unions secured verdicts ranging from ^150 to ^500 every day of the year, how far would that money go when applied to the whole Commonwealth’? The truth is that honorable members who oppose this provision are afraid of the unions, and they ought to admit it. They should honestly say, “We wish to make unions illegal, because they say that their whole salvation lies not only in unionism, but in political action.” Can ‘it be said that a union has ever done anything inimical to the interests of the country? Can it be said that unionists have returned men to Parliament to represent so narrow a class as that which some honorable members in this House represent ? Every honorable member who has been elected to this House by the votes of unionists and non-unionists has been returned not for the benefit of any narrow class, but in the interests of the* whole Commonwealth. I do not believe in making long speeches in Committee. This is not the stage at which to make secondreading speeches. We ought to deal with the points that have been raised, and to refrain from traversing, as some honorable members have done, practically every subject under the sun. What object have they had in view? Their ob- 5 l 2 ject has plainly been to harass the Government. Honorable members know that nothing has been gained from much of the discussion that has taken place, and that the debate has been prolonged simply for the purpose of irritating the Government, and in the hope of making political capital among the people outside who do not give that consideration to ‘ political questions which they ought to do.
– As the result of the discussion., we have secured this concession : that the Government will accept an amendment which practically prohibits unions from taking part in politics.
– Have not the Government accepted that amendment?
– We do not accept the right honorable member’s definition of it.
– -If the honorable gentleman carefully studies the amendment he will see that the effect of it will be what I have mentioned.
– If the Government accept the amendment, they will find themselves in a peculiar position.. They will not be backed up even by non-unionists. I am glad to say that the majority of honorable members on this side have been returned by the votes of non-unionists as well as of unionists. I am proud to know that we obtained as many votes from nonunionists as from unionists. I represent one of the principal industrial districts of South Australia, and I am satisfied that the nonunionists there have as much confidence in me as the unionists have. I am also satisfied that they would not accept the Bill as proposed to be amended.
– The amendment is simply designed to enable non-unionists to obtain work.
– The honorable and learned member does not seem to have sufficient intelligence to realize that whether this Bill be passed or not, the avenues of employment will remain as at present. Non-. unionists are at work to-day, and will be working after the Bill has been passed. If the non-unionists receive a preference, what will be the result? It will only mean a repetition of what occurred the other day at Maryborough. One worker informed me a few; days before the general election that as soon as the contest was over he would be sacked, because he had shown some sympathy for the labour candidate. His words proved to be true ; he was discharged a day or so after the election. I have handed to the honorable member for Yarra a letter showing that a large number of men were dismissed from one establishment because they evinced sympathy for the labour candidate. Would honorable members give a preference to the cringing, crawling men who take all the advantages of trades unionism, and are not prepared to stand up side by side with their fellows?
– Does the honorable member say that all non-unionists are crawlers?
– No ; but a very considerable proportion of them are. I have had some experience of them, and know what they are. Some of them have come toadying to me to obtain work for them, although they have been afraid to speak out for their own interests. The honorable and learned member would, of course, like to put the words he suggested into my mouth as he has striven to put words into the mouths of others. As I have already said, I do not believe in wasting the time of the Committee. This is the second occasion I have spoken on this question, and on the first I occupied the attention of the Committee for only a few minutes. I counsel the Government to stand by the Bill, and ask honorable members to assist them in passing it. I speak now to thosewho pose as the friends of compulsory arbitration, such as the honorable and learned member for Corinella, although unionists might well say, in some cases, “ Save us from our friends. “ If these honorable members believe in the principle, I appeal to them to assist the Government to pass the Bill, and if it inflicts the slightest injury on any section of the community I shall be quite prepared to join with them in helping to remedy the evil.
– Notwithstanding the time which has been occupied in this discussion, I realize that not a moment has been wasted. This is one of the most important clauses in the Bill. The question at issue is not, as some honorable members have reported, that of preference to unionists, but as to the constitution of organizations under the Bill. In view of the multiplicity of amendments before the Committee, and the fact that notice of other amendments has been given, it is necessary for us to look closely into the position. Some honorable members have stated that they will vote under duress to some extent. We have heard the crack of the whip, and we have been told that certain honorable members feel compelled, not to vote as they would vote if they had a free hand, but that in the peculiar circumstances with which they are confronted, they feel compelled to take another course. I am here to say that, notwithstanding the threats that have been made- .
– No threats have been made.
– The honorable member for Dalley said to-day that if this clause is not accepted in its entirety we shall have a repetition of that industrial strife that rent Australia thirteen years ago.
– I did not know that the honorable member was referring to that.
– Was there not also a threat when the Prime Minister said that if the amendments were carried he would take the matter to the country? I came into this House pledged to support compulsory conciliation and arbitration, but I do not intend, under cover of a measure for that purpose, to give any section of this community the legal power to construct a machine for party political purposes. That is practically what it resolves itself into. It is not often that we find the honorable member for Dalley placing himself in an illogical position, but if anything was wanting to confirm me in the opinion I have formed, it was the utterance of that honorable member. He told the Committee, in his concluding remarks, that no consideration of loyalty to his party or his leader would compel him to violate his political principles, but he is supporting ‘a proposal in this Bill which will compel an industrial worker before he can obtain any work to sacrifice his political principles. The honorable member proposes to give the unions that power. He also told us that some of the strongest unions in Australia have no rules in their code bearing on political issues. If that be so, what have those unions to fear? We have heard declarations from the other side of the Chamber that those who are opposing this clause are enemies to trades unionism. That is a mere assertion, without any proof whatever in support of it. The position of trades unions is not challenged in the slightest degree. All that is stipulated for in the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella - and I want to say right here, that this is a principle which the leader of the Government practically accepted last night - is that unions, when they are organizations under this Bill, must not include in their code of rules anything compelling an industrial worker who joins a union to subscribe to any . particular political creed. We were told by the leader of the Government last night that the Trades Hall Council of Victoria has completely severed its association with politics. Then where is the danger to trades unionism from’ the acceptance of the amendment ? Of the three amendments which have been proposed, that of the honorable and learned member for Angas, to my mind, goes too far, because it stipulates that no organization or union in existence to-day shall be registered as an organization under this Bill. That is altogether too far-reaching in its effects. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella stipulates that any labour organization in existence in Australia to-day can register under the Bill, but that it must not have embodied in its rules any provision compelling its members to subscribe to any fund for political purposes. That is fair and reasonable. But what do we find underlying the whole proposal of the Government ? Under cover of conciliation and arbitration they desire to create a political machine for their own purposes.
– Does the honorable member know, as a matter of fact, that this machine was created by the previous Government ?
– I am glad that my attention has been called to that fact. We have been reminded by the leader of the Government who was the author of this Bill. It is to be regretted that the right honorable member for Adelaide is not present to give us his assistance in dealing with it. The question under discussion was first alluded to iri our debates by the honorable member for Wentworth in his speech on the second reading. I will show what was the attitude of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was then Prime Minister, when the Bill was introduced. It has been asserted that he has shown a change of front. It has also been asserted that practically only one member of the late Government has consistently voted with the present Government in favour of the Bill. I would remind the Committee that the honorable member for Hume has shown in some of his canters a more complete reversal of form than any other member of the late Government. When the proposal was made for the exclusion of agricultural and horticultural labourers under the Bill, he was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of it. Honorable members opposite appear to have forgotten that. On the 13th April this year the honorable member for Wentworth, as reported in Hansard, on page 917, said, in speaking on the motion for the second reading of this Bill: -
An industrial union, on the other hand, is one which the State compels individuals to join at the peril of their livelihood ; consequently, an industrial union should be kept absolutely free from anything in the nature of political propaganda work, whether it be by way of levying subscriptions for a political fund or of running newspapers. If we are to have industrial unions, not only ought we to schedule the rules which they shall have, but also the rules which they shall not have. If we are to compel persons to join industrial unions, let us make perfectly sure that we do not sacrifice their political liberty, as well as their individual industrial freedom.
That is a sentiment that seemed to be appreciated all round the House. The honorable member for Wentworth said in conclusion -
I sincerely hope that some attention will be given to my suggestion regarding the constitution of industrial unions, and if I have directed the notice of abler men than myself to this very crucial point, I feel that I shall not have spoken in vain at such very short notice.
Then the honorable and learned member for Ballarat interjected -
I think I shall be able to satisfy the honorable member that the provisions which he desires are contained in the Bill.
That was a clear and distinct statement from the head of the late Government, who was in charge of the Bill. As to the evidence that the Government and their supporters want to create simply a machine for party political purposes, I refer the Committee to the statement of the honorable member for Barrier, who, in the course of his remarks, said that, representing an industrial district, and a large section of the industrial workers of Australia, who were banded together in unions for their own mutual advantage, he would throw this Bill to the winds as far as he was concerned, and as far as the workers were concerned, if trades unionists were denied their right to band together for political purposes.
– Those were not my exact words.
– The exact words .of the honorable member were -
I would rather have unions taking part in politics than have an Arbitration Act which prevented them from doing so.
So far as I am aware, there is no honorable member who wishes to interfere with trades unionists as trades unionists. But when they come into the Court seeking the protection and assistance of the Court under the provisions of this Bill, their rules should not contain anything that would debar any man from becoming a member. Why have epithets been hurled at a large number of Australian workers? Why have epithets been hurled against workers who are not members of the union presided over by the honorable member for Darling? In my time, in New South Wales, I was one of those who battled for their rights as members of a union. I was amongst those who were subscribers to and members of the union to which I have referred, when it ‘was first originated. What was the cause of the secession from its ranks? Was it not on account of the very rules which the Court in New South Wales has refused to sanction? Was it not because the union wanted to deprive men of their political rights and privileges? Hundreds of men would be willing to join that union to-day except for those objectionable rules.
– Which have been removed.
– The New South Wales Court did not debar them from coming to the Court or taking advantage of the Act unless those rules were cancelled.
– Thev did.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. If I am correctly informed, by their decision the Court refused to cancel the registration of another union. There was no refusal of the Court, so far as I am aware, to dealing with any industrial dispute submitted by the Australian Workers’ Union, but simply a refusal to cancel’ the registration of another union. That- is sufficient to cause the Committee to be most careful not to preclude unions from seeking the protection of this Court, but to deprive them of the right to pass rules which would be repugnant to every fair-minded individual. Last night the Prime Minister, when he took the Committee into his confidence, told us that he was prepared to accept the principle of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Darling Downs, but that he would not commit himself to the exact verbiage. What do we find to-day behind the Prime Minister?
– A revolt.
– A complete revolt. Where is the distinction between the two amendments? The verbiage is exactly the same, except that in the case of the amendment of the honorable member for Darling Downs, it is only when a union makes an application to have the preference extended to its members that the provision is to be of anv avail. But the principle of the amendment is accepted by the Prime Minister.
– Every word of it ; that . amendment only shifts the stage at which the provision shall, apply. .
– Why are honorable members on this side of the House regarded as outlaws, who are desirous of ruining trades unions? I venture to say that we are as keenly appreciative of the good which may result from compulsory arbitration as are honorable members on the other ‘ side. Why are we held up to the whole community as objectionable beings, when we desire nothing further than that the clause shall apply to all unions who desire the protection of the Court?
– One amendment takes away rights, while the other merely denies privileges.
– It may be my want of appreciation of the true merits of the position, but I do not see that distinction. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella simply proposes that a trade union which makes application to the Court must have eliminated from its rules any of a compulsory character affecting the rights or liberties of individual members. What objection can there be to such a proposal? The Trades Hall Council of Victoria, which represents trades unionism in this . State, has practically eliminated all political issues from its discussions, and has constituted a body, clearly and distinctly apart, known as the Political Labour Council, to deal with political issues. Yet the Prime Minister and his supporters express no regret for the epithets that have been hurled at honorable members on this side. Notwithstanding the threat held out - notwithstanding the fact that I am committed to my constituents to support compulsory conciliation and arbitration - I am going to accept the full responsibility of supporting the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, even if the Government are prepared to go to the country. I should wel- come the opportunity which an appeal to the country would afford, because we should then have a clear-cut issue.
– Rubbish ! The Government might as well go to the country on the alphabet.
– I may admit that I have no particular desire to go to the country. I do not appreciate so highly as some honorable members appear to do, the pleasures of contesting a large district, particularly in mid-winter. Nevertheless. I am not going to allow any objection of that kind to make me sacrifice any principle. I have no personal feeling in the matter. I realize- fully the difficulties with which the Government are confronted. I realize the difficulties which confronted the late Government when, in the first instance,they put the Bill, so to speak, under the table, because they could not have a general election just then. When, in compliance with the pledge given to the House, the Bill was introduced in the present Parliament, the Government made one of the proposals a vital question, and have taken the consequences. Their successors realize the difficulties of the situation. There are many pitfalls in the Bill; and many members are under the impression - even the honorable member for Dalley said to-night - that trades unions will refuse to register under the measure if the amendment be adopted. What is the opinion expressed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, confirmed by the honorable member for Darling Downs? Trades unions, whether they like it or not, may be compelled to come into Court ; they cannot take the law into their own hands, as they have done in the past, and unsettle the industrial life of Australia. This is a Bill to prevent that sort of thing, and, that being so, it behoves us to place nothing in the way of the measure being made as effective as possible. At a previous stage of this measure, I expressed the opinion that it “is absolutely necessary to get every worker in each industry into an organization. I fail to see how the community can reap the full benefit of the Bill, or how it can be made fully operative, unless the workers are dealt with through organizations. How would it be possible otherwise to enforce the award of the Court on hundreds, or it may be thousands of workers, as units scattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia? The more I think of the matter, the more I am convinced of the soundness of that view. Are we to allow rules to be adopted in organizations which would prevent men, from conscientious motives, becoming members? Are w.e to leave such men in the position of being described as “ blacklegs,” “ scabs,” and “ outcasts “ ? We have been told by some honorable members that those who are not unionists are “blacklegs” and “scabs.” Can such epithets be fairly applied to men who have conscientiously refused to join the Australian Workers’ Union? Those men, on joining, that union, are penalized by being called upon to subscribe to a particular political faith, and to contribute to the support of candidates to whom they may have decided objections. Are honorable members knowingly going to put the industrial workers of Australia in that position? If. we are to have organizations, make the conditions such that all workers can join. Objection is raised to outside workers coming in and taking advantage of the better conditions obtained by the unions ; and when I was in the ranks of the workers there was nothing more repugnant to my mind. In my early days in New South Wales, some twenty-five years ago, before there was any union, the shearers in the back country banded together in order to secure a rate per hundred which would be fair. There were practically no “scabs” or “blacklegs,” as they are termed, at that .time. What has caused the recent secession from the union ranks? In the short space of two years the ranks of the Australian Workers’ Union have been reduced by one-half, the membership having decreased from about 21,000 to about 11,000.
– That is owing to want of sheep, I suppose.
– It is not likely that men of this class, whom I know so well, would risk the existence of the union for the sake of one year’s subscription. Scores of men who have ceased to work with shears have, to my knowledge, continued to pay their contributions as members of the union. In my opinion, the chief cause of the secession is to be found in the rules; and numbers of men have told me that that is the reason. Unions are not omniscient ; and this union has been ruined by the causes I have indicated. Is it not worth while making an effort to get the workers of each industry into an organization, seeing that it is only by that means we can reap the full benefit of the measure? Are we going to risk the Bill because we differ on matters of detail? It is useless for the Prime Minister or his supporters to say that the principle of the amendment submitted by- the honorable and learned member for Corinella is repugnant to them, or is likely to wreck the Bill, seeing that the Prime Minister has accepted a proposal containing the same verbiage as applied to unions seeking for preference. Notwithstanding the threats that have been hurled at us, 1 am going to support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, believing that it will make for the well-being of the industrial classes and the efficient working of this measure.
– I do not expect, at this stage, to be able to add anything very new or interesting to the discussion. I should like, however, ‘to correct a few errors which have arisen during the debate, and to endeavour to give a little information which up to the present has not been forthcoming. The honorable member for Herbert, last night, expressed the opinion that the discussion had been unduly prolonged. But if honorable members will look at the daily newspapers) they will see that, as .the discussion has proceeded, especially in the committee stage, the public have been considerably enlightened, and opinion has changed in many respects. One of the leading newspapers of Melbourne was heart and soul for the whole of the measure, from title to schedule, when it was first submitted ; but in the course of the debate that newspaper has very wisely come to the conclusion that a certain amount of modification of the provisions is necessary. The Bill, as first introduced, was prepared by the right honorable member for Adelaide, whose absence we deeply regret ; and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has pointed out, from time to time, that his Government were not altogether responsible for the drafting. When the Bill got to a certain stage, and the late Government saw fit to hand, over the Treasury benches to the present Government, a great many members on this side of the House complained that the Bill, as then placed before us, contained a considerable number of amendments, and that no opportunity had been afforded to us to see those amendments side by side with the clauses, so that the purport of the measure might be understood.
– Are not the clauses which are causing the trouble in the same form as that in which they appeared when the present Government came into office?
– I shall leave that very important question to some other honorable member to answer. It is too deep for me. Perhaps the honorable member for Wentworth will deal with it. The object of the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella is to prevent the application of the funds of trades unions to political purposes, and to prevent the members of trades unions being compelled to do anything of a political character. I admit that there is some difficulty in discovering where we are with respect to the amendments, seeing that the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has proposed an amendment on that submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who intends to propose another on top of it. The amendment to which I desire to speak, and which I intend to support, is the original amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. During the debate, the honorable member for Grey has made several references to the British Medical Association. The honorable member is one of the most persistent interjectors in the Chamber. We continually hear his raven’s croak, but never from the front, where we’ might deal with the honorable member. Personally, I think all interjections are properly ruled to be disorderly; but one thing which one does like is that an interjector should sit opposite to him, so that he might be fairly dealt with if he has anything to say worth replying to. The honorable member for Grey has on more than one occasion, by way of a sneer, referred to the union or association which exists in the honorable profession to which I have the honour to belong. I refer to the British Medical Association, which is supposed by the honorable member to be a union of doctors for their own purposes.
– There is no supposition about it ; it is.
– And they know how to apply the boycott.
– The honorable member for Riverina tells us that it is a union of doctors for their own purposes, and I must presume that the honorable member is a greater authority on the Medical Association than am I.
– I know that they have boycotted doctors in Sydney.
– The honorable member is doubtless possessed of more information on the subject than am I, but I should like to inform the Committee of the real objects and the raison d’etre of the British Medical Association. For the information of honorable members generally, I may say that the medical profession is protected by certain laws in almost every civilized country in the world, and for a very definite purpose The object is absolutely and entirely for the benefit of the public. It is that only honorable and qualified men shall be registered and permitted to practice.
– They are .all honorable men.
– I might say as a compliment to my honorable and learned friend, the Minister of External Affairs, that the same provisions apply absolutely to the honorable profession to which he has the honour to belong. The object of the laws protecting the medical and legal professions is to protect the public, and they are passed for no other purpose.
– That is the very object of this Bill.
– The honorable and learned member for Wannon is well able to speak for the association which looks after the interests of the legal profession. I believe that the sole object of that association is to protect the public, by seeing that only honorable men are allowed within the ranks of the profession. With regard to the British Medical Association, any man who is an honorable man, and a legally qualified medical practitioner, may join its ranks.
– If he is not boycotted.
– He may join the ranks of the British Medical Association if he is an honorable man, and if he behaves himself in such a manner - that is to say, in such an honorable manner, for it is all a question of honour—
– Who is the judge of such a matter?
– In England, where the parent branch of the association exists, the judge is the Medical Council, which is composed of doctors, some of whom are nominated by the Government, and others elected by the profession. What they look to is to prevent any man being a member of the British Medical Association who is guilty of unprofessional practice. That is variously defined. One of the first matters to which exception is taken is advertising. Advertising is not allowed amongst members of the medical profession in England, whether they be members of the British Medical Association or not.
– There are various ways by which a man mav advertise himself.
– In the case of the medical profession it is not considered right for a man to advertise in the newspapers. Certain honorable members may endeavour to advertise themselves by speaking to the country press in this Chamber. That practice is followed by some honorable members, and not by others. At the same time, every honorable member has a right to say anything which lie thinks will add to the information of members generally. Although some honorable members may sit on the Treasury Bench, and form- an Executive Council of Parliament, it must not be forgotten- that we live in times of democracy, and all are equal who are sent here by the free-born electors of Australia. The British Medical Association in these States comprises but a few of the members of the medical profession. There are other associations existing in such large centres as Melbourne and Sydney, which members of the profession are free to join ; but every member of the profession joining any of these associations must behave himself in an honorable manner, or he may be dealt with as men are dealt with by trades unions, and may be put outside of the association.
– Under this Bill a man must be given three months’ notice before he can be dismissed from a union.
– The point is, that although the British Medical Association may be termed, as the honorable member for Dalley termed it, a labour union-
– Is there anything political in its rules ?
– They boycott members for political action.
– There is nothing political in its rules, and I should further like to point out that it is a voluntary association. There is no compulsion upon any man to join the British Medical Association, the Victorian or New South Wales Medical Societies, or the Clinical Society of Brisbane, or any other of these associations. A member of the profession may join them, or not, as he pleases.
– And if he slays out he starves.
– If he stays out, he does not starve.
– If he stays out, he is boycotted, and the members of the associations refuse to consult with him.
– I can point to members of the medical profession residing in Collins -street to-day, who are making large incomes, and who are outside of the British Medical Association. There is no compulsion in the matter, and a medical ‘man may please himself whether he consults with such men or not. There is no law on that subject. The only persons from whom legally qualified medical practitioners hold themselves aloof, are quacks, or men who have been guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.
– Take the case of Dr. Ramsay Smith, and Dr. Napier, in Adelaide.
– That is a different matter altogether. The difficulty which occurred amongst the medical profession in Adelaide, as the honorable gentleman must know, had nothing whatever to do with the British Medical Association.
– It was a purely political matter.
– It was the result of a quarrel between the medical men, who were running the Adelaide hospital, and the South Australian Government, and had nothing whatever to do with the British Medical Association.
– It was not for the benefit of the public.
– The Government interference, in the first instance, was not for the benefit of the public.
– That is another question.
– It is a question into which we need not enter now, because it has nothing to do with this Bill.-
– The honorable member must not forget that the members of the union struck and left the hospital.
– And the patients all recovered.
– That may, or may not be. I shall leave the honorable member for New England and the Minister of Home Affairs to settle that matter between themselves. We have had a great many taunts levelled at the British Medical Association.
– The honorable member is wrong; there was no taunt, but a mere statement made.
– The honorable member for Grey referred to the association several times, and I think it proper that the Committee, and the country generally, should understand the position.
– I have information that even in Melbourne to-day some of the doctors are not on speaking terms with others, because they have taken Australian Natives’ Association work at. a lower rate than some think proper.
– That has nothing to do with the . British Medical Association.
– They are considered non-unionists.
– I admit that one of the matters dealt with by the Council of the British Medical Association, in the interests of the medical profession, is that to which the honorable member for Grey has referred. It is frequently brought up, just as the question of wages is frequently dealt with by members of trades unions. No one can object to that. I have never, as an employer, objected to trades unions discussing the question of wages. In the medical profession, a great many men, unfortunately for themselves, have to earn their livelihood by taking large lodge practices. The question is one which has been discussed repeatedly in the public press, and it is one of very great importance to the medical profession. The great bulk of the lodge practice comes from working men.
– Does the honorable member desire to come under the Bill ?
– If the doctors will only give up politics, we will take them under the Bill.
– Dealing with the amendment, I am pointing out that over and over again during the course of the debate, the British Medical Association has been referred to as a union, and I have been endeavouring to inform honorable members as . to the way in which that union conducts its business. I have said that it ls a voluntary union, that no man is forced into it, and no man suffers any disability by remaining outside of it: We do not wish to be brought under this Act, nor do we desire to compel by law every medical man to join our union. The association has over and over again had to fight against the grinding down process iri respect to the fees offered to medical men for taking lodge practice. A” common and indeed the usual rate for attendance upon a family in a city like Melbourne is 12s: 6d. per annum.
– That is sweating.
– I agree with the honorable member, and I am glad that honorable members opposite are in favour of abolishing such sweating. I know from the honorable member that in Adelaide better conditions hold.
– What is the union or professional rate?
– There is no rate fixed. That shows how unlike a trades union the association is.
– Is’ there not a minimum rate?
– Then what is the honorable member growling about?
– The grievance is one which should be -remedied. I think honorable members will admit that. However, I do not wish to say more now in regard to the matter. The honorable member for Moira referred to the Australian Workers’ Union, and attention has also been drawn to the Machine Shearers’ and Shed Employes’ Union. Now, in 1902, the Australian Workers’ Union, whose constitution contained certain rules relating to politics which have since been struck out by order of the Court, numbered 20,891 members. In 1903 it had 13,141 members, and in 1904, 11,538 members; so that its numbers have been steadily decreasing during the past three years. Another union, which has been unfairly spoken of by honorable members as bogus-
– The . honorable member’s own leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney, called it a vile conspiracy.
– In this Chamber.
– I will deal with that later on.
Mr.Culpin. - It was a bogus union. What is the use of talking of it in any other way?
– I will come to that directly. I have heard honorable members opposite refer to it as a bogus union, but, although in . 1903 its members numbered only 523, they had increased in 1903 to 1,818, and in 1904 to 2,737. Those facts form a strong recommendation of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, because they show that unions progress by leaps and bounds when they, are non-political in character.
– It was the money of the employers that did it.
– Since the honorable member is a follower of the right honorable member for East Sydney on this particular point, I am surprised that he does not follow him on other points, and I hope that before he leaves this Parliament he may be reckoned among the right honorable gentleman’s followers. The right honorable member gave some offence to the union in question by terming it bogus, but I’ think that the following letter from its general secretary, Mr. John Leahy, addressed from Queen’s Chambers, Queen’s Place, Sydney, on the 1st July, will clear up the matter -
I wish to give unqualified denial to a statement made by Mr. G. H. Reid in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 29. Mr. Reid on that occasion stated that the Machine Shearers and Shed Employes’ Union was a conspiracy between pastoralists and workers to create a bogus union. I challenge Mr. Reid to make good his assertion, or even prove that any pastoralist had any hand whatsoever in the formation of this union.
– Why did they not show their books?
– If the honorable mem- ber will wait a ‘ few minutes I will refer to some books which it will be a good thing for the Committee to know about. The honorable member for Kennedy told us the other day that he has in his possession a balance-sheet of this supposed bogus union, in which it is shown that they paid the sum of£200 to a recalcitrant witness in order to induce him to give evidence. That was a serious statement to make in this chamber, as I interjected at the time. If the honorable member has that balancesheet in his possession, why does he not produce it, so that a thorough investigation may be made into his charge? I believe myself that the union is a genuine one, and supplies a long-felt want. Mr. Leahy continues -
I further challenge Mr. Reid to prove that this union is not a bonâ fide industrial organization of shearers and shed-workers. I say that it is the ‘only bonâ fide industrial organization of shearers and shed-workers in the Commonwealth.
He is not afraid to challenge even the great Australian Workers’ Union.
– He attacked the honorable member’s leader.
– I ask honorable members opposite, who say that the union is. a bogus one, to produce evidence in proof of that statement.
– The honorable gentleman’s own leader has made it.
– He said that he believed it to be bogus, but he had no proof of the fact ; neither have honorable gentlemen opposite any proof.
– The real question is, did the Australian Workers’ Union behave properly when before the New South Wales Arbitration Court?
– That is so. If I had been brought up as a bullock-driver, I might be able to assist honorable’ members to find language strong enough to express their sentiments in regard to non-unionists. No more disgraceful language has been heard in any Parliament than that used by them to describe those who do not belong to unions. The honorable member for Grey grew almost livid with rage when he spoke of them, and said that he could not find language within the Standing Orders which would allow him to describe them.
– Nothing of the kind. I said that the Standing Orders would not permit me to describe the average nonunionist as I should like to describe him.
– The honorable member for Kennedy and others have repeatedly applied such names as “scabs,” “blacklegs,” “parasites,” “outcasts,” and “men of a criminal type “ to non-unionists.
– He did not apply those terms to all non-unionists, because there are thousands of non-unionists in his electorate.
– He applied them in the first instance to all non-unionists.
– He did not mean them to be so applied.
– The honorable member cannot show that he meant anything but what he said. The right honorable member for East Sydney showed clearly that the honorable member had made use of those words to describe non-unionists generally. When there is a strike, and free labourers come in to take the place of unionists, they are obviously men who have previously been engaged in the occupation in which they seek employment. It would be absolutely impossible for any man unacquainted with shearing to go into a shed and shear a stud ram offhand. In the first place, if the man were a novice he would, instead of having the ram on the floor ready for shearing, probably find himself on the floor, or knocked out of the shed. Therefore, these men must have had previous experience, and yet they have been described as “scabs,” “blacklegs,” “parasites,” “outcasts,” and men of “a criminal type” - descriptions, which are disgraceful to the men who have applied them. These men are outside the unions, and why? I “ know of many men living in the country who are outside the pale of the Australian Workers’ Union to-day,, because when they were members of the union in times gone by, the union slipped them up and left them stranded. Instead of their being able to earn a good cheque on the shearing board, they were left stranded, and their wives and families were reduced to the verge of starvation. Now they will have nothing to do. with the union, and when questioned with regard to it, say that it exists for the benefit only of its secretary, its legal advisers, and the member or members of Parliament who happen to represent the particular political ideas of its members. The Prime Minister called this measure a permissive Bill. Some years ago a Bill was introduced into the House of Commons to deal with the liquor traffic, and that was called a permissive Bill. It was generally known as “ A Bill to permit me to prevent you from having a glass of grog.” According to the Prime Minister the measure now before u.s is a permissive Bill, and the object of bringing forward this particular clause is to force all men into particular- unions, the members of which are to have a preference, whilst all those outside the union are to be shut out from employment until the supply of union labour has been exhausted. In other words, this is a permissive Bill to permit me - a trades unionist - to prevent you - a. man outside the pale of the unions - from obtaining employment. The wives and children of such men are to be allowed to starve. They may be consigned to industrial perdition, so long as the unionists obtain the preference of employment. I know of many men outside the labour organizations who would rather cut off their right hands than subscribe to the platform put forward by the Labour Party. The Prime Minister’ last night stated that the Trades Hall Council was not a political organization. He represented that political matters were dealt with by the Political Labour Council. An honorable member interjected that the difference between the two bodies was that between tweedledum and ‘tweedledee. I presume that the way in which they work it is as follows: - A meeting of the Trades Hall Council is held, and when the business is gone through the meeting is closed, and after an interval for a “ smoke-ho “ a meeting of the Political Labour Council is held. Of course, this is imaginary, but the relationship which exists between the Trades Hall Council and the Political Labour Council in Melbourne suggests the idea. These two bodies have combined together to employ a propagandist. Perhaps that is the most polite way of speaking of the gentleman who has been engaged to preach Socialism throughout the State of Victoria. This gentleman is supposed to be under the control of the Trades Hall and the Political Labour Councils.
– He is an agitator.
– The honorable member for Herbert has the temerity to interject that Mr. Tom Mann is an agitator.
– That term is quite good enough ; he is quite satisfied with it.
– He is being employed to advocate Socialism. I think it is fair in dealing with the unions’, particularly in their political aspect, to inquire into everything relating to them - their finances, their constitution, and their relationship with the man whom they employ to preach their gospel throughout Victoria. I have a copy of a circular issued -by the “ Tom Mann control committee “ - appointed by the Trades Hall and Political Labour Councils. It is dated from Melbourne, Carlton, 1st February, 1904; the telephone number is given as 961, and Stephen Barker appears as the honorary secretary.
– Those are most interesting details.
– I desire to read them, because they are all pertinent. I intend to show the intimate connexion of the Trades Hall Council with politics. Upon this committee the Trades Hall is represented by Mr. R. H. Solly, who is one of the representatives of the railway servants in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, the treasurer is the honorable member for Yarra, and the third representative of the Trades. Hall Council is Mr. M. Hannah, also a representative of the railway servants in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. The Political Labour Council is represented by Mr. H. Beard, M.L.A. for Jika Jika, by Mr. J. Mathews, who opposed the honorable member for Melbourne Ports at the last Federal election, and by Mr. J. Phillips. This circular contains some very interesting information with reference to the propaganda work of Mr. Tom Mann. It reads as follows : -
The committee have much pleasure in announcing that Tom Mann has resumed the work of organizer at the earnest request of the council and committee in the interest of the movement,
I should like to direct attention to these words - putting aside his own strong personal desire to go upon the land. The committee need hardly remind unions and branches of the effective work accomplished by Tom Mann, which has been acknowledged on all hands, even by our enemies.
– I suppose that he has done as good work as has Mr. Walpole ?
– Possibly so, I am not discussing that point.
– The honorable member seems to be verv much afraid of him.
– Fearfully so. The circular proceeds -
The average cost of organizing has been £40 per month. To sustain this work funds are urgently needed. Unions are urged to complete their payments, and where possible to increase the amount promised.
This shows definitely that the unions, to the funds of which it is proposed that men shall be forced to contribute, are being asked to subscribe towards the work which has been entered upon by the Tom Mann control committee.
– Have they not the same right as has the Employers’ Union to engage in propaganda work?
– Yes; they have a perfect right to do so; but we are discussing the question whether men should be forced by a legal enactment into joining the unions whether they like it or not - whether it shall be a case of - “Gape, sinner, gape and swallow;
You lead, I follow.”
The circular concludes in the following, words -
Now that the work has been resumed by Tom Mann, the committee confidently appeal to all to help them to make the work of the organizer effective by supplying them with the means whereby they can sustain and equip him for the arduous work undertaken for the extension of the movement, by which all are benefited. - Fraternally yours, on behalf of the committee, Stephen Barker, Sec. T.H.C. and T.M.C.
This is a standing proof of the fact that the funds of the unions are applied to political purposes.
– That is, the funds of the political labour unions?
– The funds are applied to industrial purposes.
– No; these funds are being subscribed to the Tom Mann control committee by the trades unions. The committee consists of representatives of the Trades Hall and Political Labour Councils. The Trades Hall Council is not supposed to have any connexion with politics; but does any honorable member believe that the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne - I know nothing about the Sydney Council - is anything but a political organization, which exists for political purposes. The unions which go to make up the Trades Hall use the sixpences and shillings subscribed by their members for political purposes. I have not the slightest objection to voluntary unionism.
– I suppose that the honorable member believes in the principle of compelling unions to pay the sixpences subscribed weekly by their members to doctors ?
– Unfortunately for the doctor, either the subscriptions are not paid at the end of each week or they never reach him.
– Or else the natient dies.
– It is very often a godsend to the doctor that the patient does die, because the. unions provide for a funeral allowance of £20, and the medical man in attendance gets paid out of that. But I am digressing. I claim that this is a very important matter. We have here positive proof that the funds of trades unions are used for political purposes. If the Government and their supporters have their way, non-unionists will be compelled ‘to join these organizations, and to subscribe to their funds in order to gain a preference as regards employment, or face the alternative of starvation. I wish now to direct attention to another matter which has reference to the Trades Hall and the unions connected therewith. I refer to the Eight Hours Committee, which annually promotes the Eight Hours Demonstration ostensibly for charitable purposes. I propose to deal with the balancesheets issued by the committee for the years1900,1901, and 1902.
– Does the honorable member think that his remarks will come within the scope of the amendment ?
– I do. I intend to show how the Trades Hall Council, which is constituted of various unions, deals with the funds which are collected.
-I should not discuss the matter at any length, because, after all, the main point at issue relates to the political question.
– In 1900 the funds collected by this committee totalled over £5,000, and the balance to its credit in the bank, after paying all expenses, was £5. The donations amounted to£638.In that vear the members of the committee de corated themselves with medals, which cost £42 2s. 6d. In 1901, the money collected aggregated , £6,200, and the donations dwindled from £638 to £112, the balance in the bank being £954. That balance, I may remark, has never been publicly accounted for. It is not mentioned in the balance-sheet of the succeeding year. The cost of the medals with which the committee provided themselves in 1901 increased from £42 to £121. In 1902 the amount collected was £6,800, and the donations dropped to £27.
– Terrible !
– It is terrible, and the manner in which these funds have been disbursed requires investigation. In 1902 the balance in the bank, after all expenses had been paid, was . £919. Of that sum, nothing further has been heard. What has become of it ? From information received I believe that a large proportion of it has been absorbed in rent, which is charged by the Trades Hall Council. Consequently that money is being applied to political purposes. At one time it was customary for the committee to allocate a portion of its surplus to the Trades Hall building fund. That practice, however, was stopped by . the Victorian Government. Now the same thing is being done, presumably by mutual arrangement by way of rent. Last year, instead of the charities receiving any of the money collected from the public, £180 was expended for the purchase of gold decorations, which were distributed amongst the members of the committee. One of these decorations can be seen on the Ministerial benches. In contradistinction to this condition of affairs, I should like to point to another association which is not connected with the Trades Hall Council, and which is not in any sense a trades union. The Druids’ Association last . year collected £2,352, of which amount £1,017 was handed over to the charities. When I was asked for this information, I received a polite invitation to call and inspect the balancesheet of the association. In the case of the Eight Hours Committee, however, no balancesheet has been presented since 1902, and no information whatever as to the disposition of the moneys collected has been forthcoming.
– Did the honorable member make inquiries from the proper source?
– I did. I agree with the statement that the so-called Labour Party is becoming too conservative. The amend- ment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella is simply in the direction of liberalizing their unions. I trust that the Committee will agree that this Bill can be made satisfactory to the general body of workers throughout Australia by the acceptance of that amendment, coupled with the proposal submitted by the honorable and learned’ member for Angas.
– I desire to say a few words in regard to a question which was mooted by the honorable member for Corangamite. He spoke of a union to which I belong, and of which I understand he is also a member.
– That is so.
– There are other members of that association in this House. That being so, I have a right to put before the Committee certain facts connected with the organization in question which were not presented bv the honorable member. He stated that that union did not undertake any political work. In doing so, surely he was npt ignorant of the fact that it has what is called its “ Standing Parliamentary Committee.” I intend to show the Committee how the Brisbane branch of that association treated one of its members who did not agree with its actions.
– That association will come within the scope of this amendment.
– I trust that it will. The members of the Brisbane branch of the British Medical Association were so’ aggressively respectable that, when I talked with them in reference to my candidature, they said - “ We don’t know whether we ought to shake hands with you, doctor, seeing that you have announced yourself as a labour candidate.” However, I fought on, and I am bound to say that the Labour Party did their best to secure my return. At’ this stage I may be pardoned, perhaps, if I read the libel which was published concerning me by the Brisbane Dad v Telegraph. It has reference to certain action which was taken by the Brisbane branch of the British Medical Association, but does not relate to my connexion with that organization. I understand, however, that the members of that association were actually guilty of the conduct which was falsely imputed to me. This is the statement which appears in the Brisbane Daily Telegraph -
Workers of Brisbane who are being canvassed to cast their vote for the labour candidate, should put at least one very pertinent question to that candidate. It may be remembered that, a couple of years ago, an agitation was started amongst medical men respecting fees paid by friendly societies. Those societies, which embrace practically the whole of the labouring classes, represented that they could not afford to pay more than r 5s. per head of their membership. Some of the doctors demanded 25s. per head. One doctor- made the charitable proposal that, unless the societies paid 25s- per head, all doctors could boycott the societies. Electors, will you find out who was the proposer? Now, this is a very important question just at this particular juncture of affairs. If electors will busy themselves to find out, perhaps they may find that their panting patriot, whose heart now is said to be bleeding for the poor worker, was with those who proposed that they and their wives and bairns should be cut off from all medical attendance. This is typical of men of the class. How suddenly their hearts begin to bleed (to order, of course), When political fleshpots are abroad. But time carries a wallet on his back; and these little pussies have a habit of sneaking out at the proper moment. . . . The working masses will fully appreciate the worth of any individual who, only a couple of years back, could make the hideous suggestion that they should be left to die by the roadside, because their societies could not afford to pay more than a certain sum per head of the membership. At the time, a cry of shame went up, that so brutal a thing could even be conceived, much less suggested. Of all the splendid institutions in our midst, friendly societies stand foremost. The suggestion made to boycott them was as a deadly blow at their continuance as the helper of the poor working man.
These were the comments which were made upon the action taken by certain members of that association which was falsely attributed to me. It was palpably an attempt to damn my chances of election. What followed ? The next day the following letter was forwarded to Mr. James. Smith, the publishers of the Telegraph: -
Sir, - I have been instructed by Dr. Culpin, of this city, to. draw your attention to the first three paragraphs of your paper issued yesterday, the 26th inst., under the heading of “ Pointed pars.” The matter therein referred to can only be intended for my client, and as the subject-matter mentioned in the said paragraphs - namely, the proposal by Dr. Culpin that, “ unless the (friendly) societies paid 25s. per head all doctors would boycott the societies” - is an entire fabrication, and absolutely without foundation in fact, my client insists on its unqualified withdrawal, together with an apology for its insertion in as public a manner as such publication appears in your issue under reference.
Unless this course be adopted, and my client’s costs be paid, steps will be taken in the matter as my client may further advise. - Yours truly,
Certain explanations followed this letter, and they published what was called a correction and apology in the following terms : -
In reference to the paragraphs under heading “ Pointed Pars,” appearing in our issue of 26th ultimo, wherein reference was made to the action taken by Dr. Culpin. in respect of the medical friendly societies, we are informed by Dr. Culpin’s solicitor that Dr. Culpin did not move a resolution to the effect that “ unless the societies paid 25s. per head all doctors should boycott the officers of the societies.” We therefore accept Dr. Culpin’s statement that the amount mentioned - namely, 25s., is incorrect, and apologise for having published such statement in our said issue of the 26th ultimo.
– When was that proposal made?
– That statement appeared when I was at. sea: It was not a sufficient apology, and I therefore issued a writ against the newspaper proprietary. They subsequently published the following “ Pointed Paragraph “ : -
– Withdrawal and Apology.
In reference to the three paragraphs appearing in our issue of the 26th November last, we have ascertained that the resolution moved by Dr. Culpin was as follows : - “ That the Queensland Medical Society views with disfavour any of its members meeting the medical officers connected with the Brisbane Friendly Societies’ Medical Institute in consultation, in view of the degrading conditions imposed upon their medical officers of this body.” We, therefore, unreservedly withdraw the paragraphs under notice not in accord with this resolution, and apologize for having published same.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know, Mr. Chairman, whether these very interesting personal reminiscences are relevant to the clause under discussion ?
– I understand that the honorable member for Brisbane is addressing himself to the question of unionism, and intends to connect his quotations with that issue.
– That is so. That incident occurred in connexion with the British Medical Association. . The honorable member for Corangamite has sought to smooth the matter over, and would apparently have the Committee believe that there is nothing in the statement that this association takes any active part in politics. He says that it is a very respectable association, but having regard to the way in which it treated me it is, so to speak, almost too respectable. It should be clearly made known that this association has a political committee, and is, therefore, just as much a political society as is any other similar body. That is the point I wish to emphasize. It is very likely that the newspaper which published this “libel in reference to myself will urge that we ought not to allow unionists to become members of Parliament.
– Did the honorable member withdraw the case ?
– In view of the apology he certainly did not go on with it.
– The honorable member for Oxley is a shareholder in the Telegraph Newspaper Company, and was hit very hard. He ought, therefore, to hold his tongue.
– The honorable member for Brisbane paid the defendant’s company’s costs; he did not go oh with the case.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney denounced the action of the employers in forming the bogus Machine Shearers’ Union, and did good work in correcting the opinions expressed by the honorable member for Wentworth, who has not referred to the matter since. The money of employers was poured into that bogus union, and I think there should be a clause in this Bill to prevent the occurrence of such incidents. The right honorable member for East Sydney and others have said .that the passing of this provision would be a great violation of the liberty of the subject. Any Act of Parliament designed to restrain individuals must restrain the liberty of the subject. Until we passed our early closing laws in Queensland and other States, shopkeepers were allowed to keep their premises open as long as they pleased; but those measures restrained them, and so restrained their liberty. . The action taken was, however, perfectly right and legitimate. I should not have spoken but for the misstatement made by the honorable member for Corangamite. I intend to support the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.
– It was not my intention to take part in this debate; but I felt that I could not allow the remarks made by the honorable member for Corangamite, in reference to the British Medical Association, to’ pass without contrasting some of the actions of that body with those of the unions to which the honorable member is opposed. I shall speak only of the New South Wales branch of the association, because I am not familiar with the tactics adopted by branches in the other States.
– It is hardly necessary to remind the honorable member that this is a Federal Parliament.
– I have no desire to enter into a controversy with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I always like to deal with honest, truthful men. The
New South Wales branch of the British Medical Association is a close corporation, and has been guilty of acts that no union of workers would ever commit. I was one of the founders of the Australian Natives’ Association in New South Wales, and held office as its first president. When the association was established there, it made no attempt to sweat the members of the medical profession. . It offered them the highest rates paid by any friendly society in the State, but the edict went forth from the local branch of the British Medical Association that no member of it should take office in any branch of the Australian Natives’ Association unless he was prepared to run the risk of being ostracised. With a desire for peace, I, with other members of the committee of the Australian Natives’ Association, had two or three conferences with representatives of this socalled branch of the British Medical Association. We asked them whether they proposed to treat our society differently from other similar bodies, and without hesitation they replied that they intended to break up these benefit societies, which do so much good for the poorer classes. They recognised that they had the power in their own hands, and were going to exercise it. I inquired whether they would put it in operation against the M.U.I.O.O.F., the I.O.O.F., and other societies, and they replied. “ Yes, later on ; but we intend first of all to deal with your society.” In spite of the efforts of these men, the Australian Natives’ Association in New South Wales has rapidly expanded ; but on more than one occasion medical officers of its branches have been denied the right of consultation with members of the association, even when life has been at stake. I ask honorable members to contrast that action with anything that has ever been done by unions of workers. The honorable member for Corangamite asserted that the association did not have a political fund. That may be true of the Victorian branch, but it is well known that the Sydney branch has a political fund, and has had recourse to it often, and more particularly when the Amending Friendly Societies Bill was before the State Parliament. They wished to bring that Bill into conformity with their rules.
– No one is compelled to join that union.
– Medical men are practically compelled to join it. A. doctor who acts for any branch of the Australian Natives’ Association is not permitted to have a consultation with a member of the Sydney branch of the British Medical Association.
-There is no compulsion, only “ You must.”
– What greater measure of compulsion could there be? I have nevertheless known many members of the association to apply for positions as medical officers to our lodges. It is all very well for the honorable member for Corangamite to rail at the lodges; but would any fairminded medical man deny that they offer a doctor fresh from the university his first opportunity to secure a practice? Lodges give doctors opportunities to gain prominence in their profession, and they have no right when they have achieved success to cast aside the ladder on which they have risen.
– But members of the medical profession are not compelled by Act of Parliament to join this union.
– If a member of the Sydney branch of the British Medical Association acts as the medical officer of any branch of the Australian Natives’ Association the whole force of the medical society is brought to bear to crush him.
– He has to contend with the force of the union, but not against the force of a Court.
– The whole force of the union is brought to bear against him.’
– He would be called a “blackleg.”
– Quite so. As president of the Australian Natives’ Association, I had to deal with the British Medical Association, and on retiring from office left my successor to combat with them. The Australian Natives’ Association in New South Wales has been able, notwithstanding the efforts of this body, to secure medical attendance for its members, and is gradually, but”, surely, working in the direction of securing the passing of a State law that will compel even members of the British Medical Association to- consult with fellow members of their profession when life is in danger.
– All this proves that we ought to be careful in giving members of any of these bodies a preference by law over other men.
– I have no cause to find fault with that principle, but I object to a member of an association, which has been guilty of these practices, railing at the acts of other unions. The honorable member for Corangamite said that most unions compelled men to join their ranks or starve. So far as I am aware there is no compulsion. Men are not compelled to join workers’ unions, although members of the medical profession in New South Wales are compelled to conform to the rules of the local branch of the British Medical Association, or run the risk of being unable to secure a practice. When those who decline to join that association’ succeed in building up practices the association uses every means in its power - and has done so, not only in Sydney, but in Wagga, and in other districts- to damage them in the eyes of the public. I do not know that this is altogether pertinent to the issue before the Chair, but I felt constrained, in the interests of the Australian Natives’ Association to make some reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Corangamite. Coming down to the matter before the Chair, there are three amendments under consideration - one moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas, a second by the honorable and learned member for Corinella’, and a third by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. As I understand these proposals, the first would have this effect - that no union now in existence could register under this Bill, because it would not exist solely for the purposes of the Bill. That would put on one side the whole of the existing unions, which this Bill was designed to bring into harmony with the employers. It was in consequence of the trials and troubles that have happened in Australia in the past, with reference to trades unions, that the Bill was introduced. But the amendment of the honorable andlearned member for Angas boycotts every one of the unions. They are to have no position before the Court. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is certainly an improvement upon that. But it says practically that if the unions now in existence come before the Court, they can get no justice and no remedy if they have any funds which are applied to political purposes. What union in existence, whether it be a union of employers or of employes, has not some fund which it uses for political purposes? I have listened carefully to the debate, but I have heard no instance given of a union on one side or another that has not employed its funds, to some extent, to further its political aims.
Every union, of which I am aware, is in that position. If that be so - and I believe it to be so, from my own personal knowledge - the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella would put on one side the whole of the existing unions. It would put them all under a ban. The amendment which has been proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs practically says to all the existing unions, and to others that may be formed, “ Go on in your own path ; do what you like with your funds, so far as industrial purposes are concerned; utilize them as you think proper; but if you are brought to the Court, and ask for preference for your members, or for other persons, you must dissociate yourself from party politics.”
– It is only a question of degree, after all is said and done.
– No; it is a question of principle, not of degree. The principle of this Bill is to insure peace where previously there was strife. That peace is to be secured by means of the unions now in existence. The policy of the Bill is not to disband them or to put them on one side. Is there any old parliamentarian, present who does not understand the object of some of those honorable members who are supporting the first two amendments with which I have dealt ? I have no doubt that a number of their supporters honestly and conscientiously desire to improve the Bill. They believe in it. But there are others who are using the amendments not for the purpose of improving the Bill,’ but of removing the Government. What interest have they shown in the success of this measure hitherto? When the late Government was in existence; and this Bill was before the House, thirteen members of the Opposition supported an amendment, not because they believed in the principles of the Labour Party, but for the purpose of removing the Deakin Government. They succeeded in their object. Now history is repeating itself. Where was the conscientious adherence to principle of those thirteen members when they were called upon to stand by the Government whom they helped to place in office ?
– How many did not stand by them?
– All but eight or ten of the thirteen did not. When their votes were required in support of the principle which they had formerly supported, they were not here, but were to be found in Sydney, or on the South Coast, or- somewhere else. They were not to be found standing by their principles; and to stand by principle ought to be the first consideration of any member of Parliament. Far better would it be for the enemies of the Government to come fairly and squarely into the open, and attack them. Let them be attacked as a Labour Government. That would be far better than by means of little side winds to harass and irritate the Government. The people outside believed that honorable members generally were in favour of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and were going to do their best to pass it into law. But is that so? Does the debate which has taken place show that an attempt is being honestly made to pass a workable Bill ? Almost every honorable member pledged himself on the hustings to support this measure. Now a number are doing their best to destroy it, and to. crush out the unions. I take all the responsibility in connexion with my vote, I intend to .be true to my principles. I supported this Bill when it was introduced by. the previous Government, and I intend to give to -it an honest and conscientious support now. The people outside are not only thinking, but talking. They begin to see the meaning of the action of the Opposition. The people want this Bill. It is not a question of whether the Government want it or not. The people have had a bitter experience on many occasions of the ruinous -effect of strikes and lock-outs. They want to have passed a reasonable measure that will give them a guarantee of safety in the future. That remark is cheered, but the quarter from which the cheers come indicates that an attempt is being made to use the amendments under consideration as instruments for shifting the Government in order to put in another Administration.
– No one is doing that.
– I do not say that the honorable member is doing that, but I do say, from my knowledge of some honorable members, that the amendments are being used for that purpose.
– The Government have accepted the principle of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– It appears to me that the issue is clear and distinct.
– When they look for a preference.
– We are not now discussing ‘ the question of preference. The Committee has already decided that in certain circumstances preference may be given to unionists. It is left to the discretion of the Court.
– To organizations.
– Organizations are the very basis of the Bill.
– Not necessarily trades unions.
– We cannot deal with individuals ; there must be organizations. Will the honorable member for Wentworth tell me that the shearers, mechanics, and engineers form the only industrial organizations? There are other industrial unions in existence. What about the Pastoralists’ Union, and what about their funds? Do they not use their funds for political purposes, and do they not make special levies for political purposes?
– I never heard of it.
– The honorable member has never been a member for Riverina or he would have heard of it. If the honorable member has never heard that there is a fund in connexion with the Pastoralists’ Association which is used for political purposes, I can only wonder where he has been during the last ten years. I desire to point out that if these two amendments are carried, there is not one union now in existence, whether of employers or employes, that will be able to come under the Bill.
– They will be able to do so if they change their rules.
– Exactly.; if they change their rules and organization, and become altogether new bodies ; but will any one say that that was the intention in framing this Bill? Will any one say that the intention was not honestly to introduce a measure which would deal with the unions as they exist, whether of employers or employes, and which would secure to them the rights and privileges to which they could show they were entitled? Of the amendments which have been submitted, the one which appeals most to me, and which is most in keeping with the convictions I have always held upon this matter, and with the- honesty of principle I desire always to maintain, is that proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. All the references which have been made to men being obliged to starve if they do not become members of unions, I put on one side. They are not compelled to do this, that, or the other thing under this Bill, but if any body, whether of employers or of employes, requests the Court to compel any other person to do something there may then be need for Some safeguard, and I think all the safeguard necessary is properly provided for in the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.
– I desire to move a further amendment in order to clear the atmosphere.
– It will not clear the clause, will it?
– I do not know. I move -
That Mr. Groom’s amendment be amended by the insertion after the word “ by,” line 4, of the words “or to.”
My reason for proposing the amendment is that if the words proposed to be inserted by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs are inserted in my previous amendment, they will not make English of it. If the honorable and learned member had moved his amendment in the ordinary way, by proposing that certain words in my amendment should be left out, with a view to insert other words, there would have been no difficulty. The honorable member has proposed the insertion of certain words, leaving the words of my amendment as they are, though I understand he has in view, later on, the omission of certain words in my amendment. On that question views may differ, and it is better that we should provide for all contingencies. I therefore propose to add the words “ or to “ to the amendment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and if all these amendments are carried mv original amendment will then read -
No such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by, or to submit any industrial dispute to the Court, when and so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
That will cover the views of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs and those who agree with him, as well as my view and those of honorable members who agree with me.
– Hear hear; it will destroy the Bill.
– It is a mere verbal amendment ; there is no hidden idea in it ?
– No ; if the words “ or to “ were not added it would probably mean that the words which the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposes to omit would be omitted.
– This amendment will make no difference.
– If these two words are carried it will probably mean that the rest of my amendment will be carried.
– Oh, no.
– I say that it will probably mean it; I do not say that it will necessarily mean it. I venture to think that those who are prepared to vote for my amendment, as originally proposed, will be prepared to vote for the amendment I now propose. I think that the amendment I now propose has possibly this advantage : that there may be some little difficulty in moving a further amendment upon it.
– We see the honorable and learned member’s object, of course.
– I move the amendment because I think that the decision upon it will really decide my original amendment - that is to say, the substantial part of it, which has been challenged in so unusual a. way by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.
– I should like to say that there has been considerable latitude allowed in the interpretation of the standing order in regard to the relevancy of debate in connexion with this clause. I realize that in regard to the amendment now . submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, consisting of two words which convey no meaning by themselves, it would be impossible to ask honorable members to confine themselves strictly to it, but I must ask them to confine their remarks to the question raised by the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and the question of the submission of any dispute.
– Do I understand that we are asked to confine ourselves to the effect of the addition of these two words to an amendment that is not before the Committee in print?
– Any honorable member addressing himself to the amend ment will be entitled to go into the whole question of preference, and the submission of a dispute. I made the statement I did previously merely to conserve the time of the Committee.
– My only reason for asking the question was that I desired to keep within the strict bounds of debate. Whilst this clause has been under discussion, it has-been a most interesting spectacle to witness the various members of the legal profession in this Committee trying to amend a clause in a Bill which is not the Bill of the present Government, but of the Government whom they displaced, and of the Government who preceded them. It seems to me that, from the party of the late Government, we have had quite a number of amiably disposed legal gentlemen endeavouring to so amend the clause asto make it provide for one or other of the difficulties which, in their opinion, will arise when the Bill is being administered. When legal gentlemen get a clause of any Bill into the legal sausage-mill, no one can tell how it will come out. We are floundering among various amendments which have been submitted. One legal member of the Committee has moved an amendment, and before it has been printed and circulated, another has been moved upon it, and a further amendment has been moved upon that again.
– That is very clear.
– I notice that the honorable and learned gentleman is generally present only when things are not very clear. My exposition is, I think, at least as clear as the explanation which some honorable and learned members have given in proposing their amendments. I have listened attentively to the debate, and we have now three amendments before us. One is that we shall practically take away from unions the right of combination for industrial purposes if there is anything of a political character associated with their constitution or rules. In dealing with the subject honorable members opposite have confined themselves to a discussion of the monstrous injuries which the unions of employes will inflict upon society generally if they are given. the privileges provided for in the clause. They have carefully refrained from discussing what employers’ unions are going to do, though it is admitted that they are political organizations.
– I should treat both alike.
– We cannot treat both alike, because the men forming the employes’ unions have only their manhood and combination to dependi upon. They must combine. That is where their strength lies, and as unions registered under the Bill, we can draw the line in their case; but in the case of employers, whilst they may be members of an employers’ organization, they may still, as private individuals, expend money in the promotion of a political campaign, to the detriment of the party to which they are opposed. The right honorable member for East Sydney - I do not know if I should be light in describing him as the leader of the Opposition - told us last night that he had suddenly learned something new in connexion with conciliation and arbitration legislation. Notwithstanding that he was for so long a member of the New South Wales Parliament, and heard the subject discussed there so often, and that he is supposed to possess almost all knowledge, political and legal, he has admitted that he did not understand the effectof the clause upon the political rights and liberties of those who have bound themselves tpgether in unions to bring about the proper administration of the law. The whole Bill rests upon unionism. Without unionism its provisions could not be administered effectively. Consequently those who would strike at the existing unions, as the honorable and learned member for Angas is endeavouring to do, by reforming them out of existence, wish to defeat the Bill.
– I do not wish to do any-, thing of the sort.
– That is the effect of the amendment. The right honorable member for East Sydney has posed as the champion of unionists, and has denounced those who joined with the employers in a conspiracy to form the bogus Machine Shearers’ and Shed Employes’ Union. It is to men such as he condemns that he is’ going to give the opportunities which they obtained through the indiscretion of the Australian Workers’ Union. What will be the effect of the Bill if the amendments of the honorable and learned members for Angas and Corinella are carried? Existing trades unions will not be able to register under it. Then what will happen ? Just what has happened with the Australian Workers’ Union. The Machine Shearers’ and Shed Employes’ Union took advantage of certain rules in the constitution of the Australian Workers’ Union to obtain registration, and when the latter sought to have thatregistration cancelled, it found itself prevented from doing so by reason of the existence of those rules. The same thing will happen under the clause. Employers will combine with undesirable persons, such as those for. whom the right honorable member for East Sydney has professed contempt, and will register themselves as unions for the purpose of defeating legitimate unions. Where is the consistency of the right honorable member in condemning the members of the Machine Shearers’ Union, because he thinks it a popular thing to do at this juncture, and supporting amendments which will enable employers and non-unionists to register under the Bill, thus cutting out the true trades unions whose members have borne the heat and burden of the day? It is the unionists who have been fighting all along for the rights of the toilers, but the amendments will rob them of the fruits of their efforts, and will take away all incentives to join unions, by preventing preference from being given to unionists. The honorable and learned member for Indi wished to be extremely cautious in this matter, and proposed ‘ that preference shall not be given to unions which use their funds for political purposes, or lean towards any political party. But I do not know that that is a just proposal. It is the unionists who have made a Bill of this kind possible. They have nurtured the idea of arbitration, and by their agitation brought it into practical politics. They have forced upon the attention of Parliament the desirability of substituting legal tribunals for strikes in the settlement of disputes between masters and men. But the fact that the nonunionists have enjoyed the advantages gained by the’ unionists seems to be lost sight of. These benefits have been won at the cost of thousands of pounds, and at sacrifices which cannot be appraised in money. If the unionists are labouring under disadvantages which only an alteration of the law can remove, they will be prevented from taking united action to effect reform. They cannot exert a united influence in political matters unless they are prepared to sacrifice that preference of employment to which they are absolutely entitled. Under such circumstances the trades unions will not register as organizations under the Bill, and they cannot be blamed for taking up that attitude. If the amendments now before us were embodied in the Bill, not only would the unions be discouraged from registering, but they would, in effect, be told that if they did not hurry up other unions of a bogus character would be recognised in their stead. Why should not the unions exercise political power? Why should not the members of the trades unions be free to exercise their political rights? Why should we engage in a retrograde movement, which would deprive the manhood of Australia of a large measure of the liberty which has been achieved only after centuries of Struggle? The honorable member for Corangamite told us a good deal with regard to the political aims of the Melbourne Trades and Labour Council, but I would inform him that in New South Wales we have never been able to induce the unions to contribute to any appreciable extent towards the funds of the Political Labour League. I do not think there is any reason for the apprehension which some honorable members seem to feel with regard to the extent to which the union funds may be applied to political purposes. With honorable members opposite the question is not so much that of according preference to unionists or of preserving to the members of the unions their full political rights, as that of setting the Bill on one side altogether, and of gaining place and power by illegitimate means. The more closely we regard the attitude of the members of the Opposition the more clearly it becomes evident that they are not acting according to their conscientious convictions, but are being guided by considerations having relation to the personal advantages which may result from the accession of their party to power. We find honorable members who profess to be in favour of this class of legislation voting solidly against the Government. We are seeking to pass legislation in the interests of the community as a whole, and not for the purpose of benefiting trades unionists. We have been told that if we give preference to unionists we shall be placing upon our statute-book class legislation, which will have the most baneful effect upon the men outside the unions. I do not understand why the honorable and learned member for Ballarat should entertain such fears as he has expressed with regard to the probable effects of this measure, but I recognise that his attitude offers a very favorable contrast to that taken up by the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, who has endeavoured, whilst placating nonunionists, to pose as the greatest friend of the unionists. I warn honorable members of the Opposition - I do not 1 wish to use any threats - that their action in connexion with this Bill is being very closely watched. Many of them assisted in placing the present Ministry in power, ostensibly in order that this Bill might be placed on the statute-book in a satisfactory shape. But they are now adopting an attitude entirely inconsistent with that previously assumed by them. Many honorable members voted in favour of bringing the railway servants of the States within the scope of the Bill, and yet they are now prepared to support an amendment which would deprive these men of all the advantages of the unions which have been their -mainstay in the past. It is now proposed to take away all the rights which unionists have previously enjoyed, without giving them any adequate recompense. Honorable members may rest assured that their constituents will very closely watch them, and that every precaution will be taken against thedescent of our politics to the low levels which have been reached in some of the State Legislatures.
– I desire to remove some of the misapprehension which appears to exist among honorable members opposite with regard to the position of non-unionists. The term “ non-unionist “ is a misnomer as applied to all the workmen of Australia who are outside the unions. In my constituency there are 22,000 electors and only one registered union, namely, the Waterside Workers’ Union, comprising about 150 men. I am a member of that union, and, as I am also one of its trustees, 1 know that it has considerable funds. They did not, however, contribute a shilling towards my election expenses. That fact, I take it, sufficiently disproves the statement, which has been repeatedly made during this debate, that trades unions are political organizations which contribute towards the election expenses of parliamentary labour candidates. I venture to say that any honorable member upon the opposite side of the chamber who dared to visit Queensland, and to apply the term “ nonunionist “ to any worker there, would require to be very bulky to avoid rough treatment. The term “ non-unionist,” as it is understood in that State, has a verydifferent meaning from- that which is attached to a “ non-member “ of a union. For example, there are 2,000 or 3,000 miners employed at Mount Morgan, who are, perhaps, the finest body of workmen engaged in any enterprise in Australia. They do not belong to any organization, but they sympathize with the trades unions all over Australia. If they laboured under any grievances which required redress, they would immediately form themselves into a union. The same remark is applicable to’ every other mining centre. In that labour citadel, Claremont, it is impossible to find a man who would permit him self to be called a “ non-unionist,” although there is no union in existence there. If any honorable members opposite dared to visit Mount Morgan, and to brand men who do not belong to any trades organizations there as “ non-unionists,” they would either be in the hospital or missing next morning.
– Honorable members upon this side of the chamber have said nothing derogatory to men who are not members of trades union.
– I maintain that they have. Some- most mendacious assertions have been made concerning the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy. I am positive that there are thousands of men in the electorate of Kennedy who, according to honorable members of the Opposition, are “ non-unionists,” and who support their present representative in this House. Yet the contention of the other side is that nonunionists are not in sympathy with unionists.
– Our contention is that they do not join the unions.
– Whenever a strike takes place the employer who is particularly interested usually instructs his agents to engage men to take the places of the strikers. As a result, he secures the “scum of the earth.” These men are guaranteed a good wage, a good living, and the protection of the police. It is these individuals whom the ‘ honorable member for Kennedy designates “blacklegs” and “ scabs.” They seek to deprive the strikers and their dependents of food. I claim that the Government should stake their position upon these amendments. Ever since this Bill has been under discussion some honorable members, whilst posing as friends of the Bill, have been continually attempting to harass the Government. I say that t’hev are traitors to the measure, and I instance the action of the honorable and learned member for Corinella in this connexion. He has endeavoured to emasculate the Bill so as to render it useless to the very men to whom it is intended to apply.
– We do not wish it to apply to their organizations as political machines.
– It is not intended to be a political machine. I am sure that the majority of honorable members opposite know nothing whatever of the Workers or the conditions under which they labour.
– Some honorable members upon this side of the chamber have worked as hard as any Ministerial sup- porter, and know quite as much about the conditions which obtain.
– I admit that there are a few who have had experience, but I was speaking of the majority. We know from the utterances of the right honorable member for East Sydney at Kyneton that he intends to clip the claws of the Socialist tiger and to extract his teeth. I understand that the two hunters are now engaged in spreading their net, with a view to his capture. The right honorable member for East Sydney, I am informed, is to act as the chiropodist, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as the dentist. In my judgment, however, the tiger is not so weak as they imagine. I trust that the Government will take up a firm stand upon this ‘question, and refuse to allow the Bill to be emasculated in the way that is being attempted.
– (Bendigo).- I desire to make a few observations in vindicating the vote I propose to give. It is unnecessary at this stage to enter into any very lengthy discussion. I can understand the Government firmly resisting the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas, because, while arguments of a very reasonable character have been advanced in support of it, it involves the non-recognition of existing trades unions, or existing labour organizations. He proposes that, in order to give the Court possession of industrial disputes, only statutory organizations shall be recognised. That is the basis of his amendment, and I can therefore understand why the Prime Minister- and the Government refuse to accept it. But I cannot understand why they so strongly resist the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It is said that that amendment would have the effect of refusing recognition to trades unions. I deny that. I submit that, even if that amendment were carried, the great bulk of the labour organizations of Australia would still have a locus standi in the Arbitration Court.
– A locus standi to do what ?
– To submit a dispute to the Court.
– They would not be able to submit a dispute.
– I spoke of trades unions as distinguished from political bodies. A trades union, according to the terms of its registration,, is not a political organization.
– Not primarily
– It is an organization for the protection of its members in respect of their labour.
– By political enactment, or otherwise. ‘
– By its organization and co-operation, with reference only to their labour.
– By any means in its power.
– The addition of rules referring to political organization, or authorizing the appropriation of funds for electioneering purposes, is an extra addition which does not necessarily belong to a true trades union. It is open to argument whether a trades union, per se, having used or authorized the appropriation of its funds for electioneering purposes, would be entitled to registration. There are very few existing trades organizations in this State that would be placed under any disability by the honorable and learned member for Corinella’s amendment. Take, for example, the greatest trades union in Victoria. The Amalgamated Miners’ Association, including within its ranks many thousands of members, is the most powerful organization of its kind, not only in Victoria, but in Australia. It would be thoroughly qualified and would have a locus standi, notwithstanding the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, for the reason that it is not a political organization. It has no rule that would allow it to devote one penny of its funds to electioneering or political purposes. The association may spend its funds, according to its rules, only for the protection of its members, in reference to trades union matters pure and simple. ..
– Has it not, as one of its objects, the seeking of reforms by political measures?
– Reforms might be secured by legitimate outside action, but the association has no authority to spend its funds on electioneering purposes.
– It has done political work.
– It has not, as far a.s I know, carried out any party political work. What is the object? Are these bodies, which are to take part in the judicial proceedings of a Court of Justice, to be allowed to assist any outside party political organization for party political purposes ?
– The amendment would go further.
– No. It simply provides that none of these trade organizations shall be allowed to submit a dispute to the Court if it has rules authorizing the use of its funds for political purposes.
– Or does anything of a political character.
– No trade, organization is to be permitted to submit a dispute to the Court if its rules authorize the employment of its funds for political purposes, or coerce its members to take political action. I assert without the slightest fear of contradiction from the greatest trades union authority in this Committee that the main object of trades unionism is not necessarily of a party political character. Its chief object is to bind its members together for their mutual protection, and thereby avoid the old penalties in respect of combination and conspiracy in restraint of trade. For this purpose they are protected by the law.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella would deprive miners of the power to agitate for the proper ventilation of mines.
– Not at all. An agitation in that direction could not be said to be devoted to a political purpose. It would be a merely social agitation, in which any one might engage. At all events, it would not be a party political purpose. The object of those who wish these bodies to have political authority is, practically, to enable them to work in support of a certain political body. Let not that fact be disguised. If it is’ not so, why the tenacity of the cry in favour of giving trades unions, formed for the protection of their members in matters of labour, the right to apply their funds to party political purposes for the promotion in all probability of the interests of the Labour Party ? As the honorable member for Moira has said, the gist of the honorable and learned member for Corinella’s amendment is that trades unions that are to be conceded the important right of going into Court and representing their members before it, shall not be tinged with political bias, or devoted to political purposes. They should go into Court as trades unions pure and simple, and without any party or political bias. That is the only object sought to be achieved by the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I, therefore, fail to see why the Ministry should make this a vital matter.
– They have accepted the principle.
– - No. The other amendment is different.
– There is a difference in degree, but not in principle.
– There is a material difference.
– The Government have already intimated that they will accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, by which it is proposed that political trades unions shall be . penalized to the extent that their members shall not be allowed to share in any preference in the distribution of labour.
– That is not penalizing.
– It means the imposition of a disability upon them. The Government thus recognise that political unions ought to be deprived of the enjoyment of the full benefits of this measure. Having gone so far, I fail to see why they should not go a little further, and impose the full disability on such unions. I have not the slightest objection to a trades union pure and simple being recognised as the official mouthpiece of a labour organization, and allowed to go into the Court to conduct the hearing of a dispute from beginning to end, and to obtain an award. What I do object to is a trades union that may be a trades union merely in name, and in reality a huge political organization. That such unions exist may probably account for the tenacity and the earnestness with which the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella is resisted, and with which the argument is advanced that these trades unions ought to be allowed to flourish as political organizations. If it be true - and I believe it is - that the Bill could be made -a practicable working measure, fulfilling the desires and aspirations of the original as well as of its present sponsors, without the intervention of political purposes, why make this a vital question ? Why do the Ministry threaten to throw this Bill under the table merely because it is proposed to impose a legal disability upon those trades unions which add political objects to their organization ? I for my part do not desire to see the Bill abandoned. I desire to see the Government remain in possession of the measure, and. to have it passed. I believe that that is the desire of nearly every honorable member. We wish to see the Bill passed into law in a workable form. It will be deplorable and deeply to be regretted if, through any caprice on the part of this Ministry - through pique at the carriage of a mere amendment of detail - they throw up the measure and bring about a crisis. Considering the large amount of time that has been spent upon it the House ought to insist that the measure shall be passed and disposed of now and for all time, as far as that is possible. The Ministry are betraying their trust by threatening to abandon the Bill if a provision is inserted disabling certain semi-political trades unions. There has been no cry on the part of the unions to be allowed to cany on political campaigns. There is no attempt on the part of honorable members to cripple or disable political bodies pure and simple. Let them work together and meet together, as much as they like under their proper banners. There is plenty of scope for the political energies of the Labour Party in the organization known as the Political Labour League. But whydo the Government want these trades unions, which are to be equipped with very important powers and privileges under this measure, to be not only trades unions, but political organizations ? It is a mere piece of bunkum to say that the carriage of this amendment would cripple or inflict a blow upon trades unionism. It would merely keep organizations formed for the protection of trades interests within the sphere of their legitimate legislative functions as recognised by law.
– What does it matter to the law if they go in for politics, so long as thev carry out the obligations imposed upon them under this Bill?
– It is desirable that bodies that attain a status under this Bill should go into the Court free from political bias, and as pure labour bodies, not as political bodies. Under the status created by this Bill “they will be able to collect large sums of money from their members. It is also proposed to force non-unionists into the ranks of the unions. For the purpose of securing the benefit of preference, non-unionists will be forced into these bodies ; and it is nothing short of a political crime to force any workers into unions in which they find that they have to range themselves under a political banner, and to vote for men of a certain political type.
– How can any one force them to vote in a. certain direction?
– We all know that when men join a union they begin to act together - I do not say like a flock of sheep, but they act together.
– Did they act together at Bendigo at the last election?
– Those who stood out had a very warm time of it.
– They did indeed have a warm time of it. I know that from my own experience. But I do not wish to introduce my own election troubles into this discussion. I am merely pointing out that I desire that the bodies created under this Bill shall be pure labour unions, and not political organizations.
– In view of the speech which has just been delivered, I think that some reply is necessary with respect to the amendments. If I thought that the amendment immediately under discussion did not go further than has been pointed out by the last speaker, I should see no real harm in it. As one who represents, I suppose, one of the strongest, if not the strongest, trades union in Australia, which is not in any sense a political body, and which has not used any portion of its funds for political purposes, I think I can speak from a disinterested point of view.
– It does not pinch the honorable member at all ; he is outside the trouble.
– I am outside it altogether. But any one who reads the amendment must admit that if it were carried trades unions would be debarred from getting any of the privileges that this Bill is intended to confer upon them. It clearly indicates that they can do nothing of a political character. It does not only mean that they mustnot spend their money to support any political candidate for Parliament, or any political party, but they cannot use their funds to secure any amelioration of the laws of the country affecting their own interests. Take the coal-mining legislation in New South Wales. For twenty years the coal miners asked for legislation with regard to the ventilation of mines and the improvement of their working conditions. To secure reforms in that direction, though they did not spend their money upon elections, they did spend hundreds of pounds in other directions by way of helping forward this movement. I suppose that, according to the dictum laid down in this debate, that would be called taking part in party politics. According to the same dictum, if a trades union started a newspaper for the advocacy of the interests of its own particular trade or calling, or even held a meeting to discuss anything in connexion with it in order to bring about a reform, all the money they spent in that direction would be for a political purpose.
– Not necessarily.
– Indirectly or directly, it would be for a political purpose. How would it be possible to run a newspaper to secure just rights for any particular body of men without some time or other inserting a paragraph or a leading article connected with the Parliament of the country ? Even the publication of an advertisement affecting some politician or political situation would constitute an interference in politics. The whole position is boiled down in the fact that there are certain honorable members who are prepared to support a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill of a certain character, but who are trying to insert amendments in this Bill that would prevent it from having any good results. I do not propose to prolong the debate by going into the merits or demerits of unionists as against non-unionists. The rates of wages paid in Australia and in other parts of the world to-day are to a very large extent regulated by the standards fixed by trades unions, and whether men be members of trades unions or not they receive those rates of wages, owing to the efforts of the trades unions. . I venture to say that where trades unions have been strongest the level of wages has always been highest. Without applying terms which have been used in this debate and with which I have no sympathy in general, though ohe of a body of men who have, perhaps, suffered more through the insidious attacks of employers in bringing men into the industry in which they have been engaged to take their places in times of trouble, I say unhesitatingly that every man who works at a trade, and does not pay some contribution to a trade ‘union, reaps a reward for which he’ contributes nothing. In my experience in times of trouble employers have been prepared to pay such men double the rates they have objected, to pay men who have gone on strike, if they would only serve them while the trouble continued, and thus assist them to break up the organization of the other men. Just prior to the New South Wales Arbitration Act coming into force, an industrial trouble arose. and an effort was made to supplant unionist by non-union labour. It was, to a certain extent, successful, but the Arbitration Court having been established, the union men succeeded in getting their case heard before it, and one result was that the non-unionists had to go, and the unionists went back to the work at which they had been previously employed. All this Bill provides for is that in a case like that men who take a stand in a dispute and appeal to the Court are given their just rights, after the settlement of the dispute, to the extent to which they existed before. The Bill is not intended to debar any man who may not belong to a union from obtaining employment, but it is intended to provide that men shall not be sacrificed because of their adherence to some principle for which they have fought in connexion with a trade dispute. So far as its utility to the general body of workers throughout Australia, whether they be unionists or non-unionists, is concerned, this Bill must be dropped by the Government if the amendment is carried. Honorable members must be aware that where no trades union exists no trouble of the kind this Bill is intended to deal with can arise. There may be a body of men consisting of 100, 1,000, or 3,000, working for employers,’ but if they are working without organization they are dealt with individually, and not as a body, and no trouble is likely to arise. The whole of this legislation is based on the industrial organization of employes and employers as well.
– The Bill can never be effective without it.
– It will never be effective without it, and honorable members should therefore base it upon that principle, and consider that the organizations on both sides must be given a preference. Before any persons can seek to get a dispute settled by the peaceful means proposed by the Bill they must organize.
– The trouble is that they, may use their organizations for other purposes.
– I have referred to a union which has reached the level of a great organization, and if in the future it is simply to exist as an organization for the purposes of this Bill only - that is. in order to take a dispute into the Court from time to time - it will be prevented from continuing the good work it has been doing foi years past in looking after the sick and injured amongst its members. And further, are we to prevent this and other unions from spending their money, as they are doing to-day, in maintaining hundreds of men who are suffering through lack of employment ? That would be the effect of the amendment, and honorable members know it.
– No; the honorable member cannot have read the amendment.
– The proposal is to prevent them spending their money in any way other than for the purposes of this Bill. What does that mean? To-day the unions are spending hundreds of pounds in helping men who are out of employment through no fault of their own, but because of depression in trade.- Honorable members would prevent the unions doing that which stands to-day to their credit. That is the position, however much honorable members opposite may try to cloak it.
– They do not like it.
– It is not correct.
– It is literally true. The amendment provides that the funds of the unions shall not be applied to any purposes other than “ the purposes of this Act.” Is not that plain enough?
– Does the honorable member object to that?
– Undoubtedly ; and I ask in my turn whether the honorable and learned member for Werriwa objects to the unions spending their money -in relieving the suffering and the sick?
– They will still be able to do that.
– They will not if the amendment is carried.
– The honorable member is referring to an amendment which is not now before the Committee.
– There are many amendments before the Committee, and so many that perhaps some honorable members think they will blind members of the Committee, but if they do they make a mistake. Men have been told that they should no longer resort to brutal methods to secure reform. They have been advised to go to Parliament to secure by peaceful means that which they have tried to secure in the past by the only means in their power. Now, when they are endeavouring to secure by means of an Act of Parliament, not any direct gain to themselves, but .simply the constitution of a tribunal to which they may submit their case when they think they are unjustly treated, they are met with a pro posal which would deprive them of rights they have had hitherto. Personally, much as I believe in arbitration, I- should rather not have it at all than that it should be given on the condition that men should lose the rights they now have.
– They desire coercive powers’ over the political liberties’ of twothirds of the workers of Australia.
– The honorable member for Moira talks about coercive powers, but I can tell him that in my district we have for years and years known what coercion means. I have been practically reared in- a district where the workers know more about strikes and arbitration than do those in any other district in Australia. We have tried all forms of arbitration, and have had as frequent strikes as have occurred anywhere else. A district whose workers could send ,£19,000 or £20,000 to Victoria to assist a handful of men who were standing up for their rights here does not contain men of the calibre referred* to in this debate. They are not the kind of men who think of forming unions to support some particular parliamentary candidate. They are men who have been born and reared in trades unionism, who have never been afraid to strike if they thought a strike necessary ; but before taking that extreme step they have done all that was possible to obtain a peacef ul ‘ solution of their difficulties. There is nothing in the rules of the union in that district which is not of a voluntary nature ; but while everything is upon the voluntary basis, one of the objects of the union is, I think, that which obtains in the Miners’ Association of Australasia - the securing of reform by political enactment. Are we going to insert in the Bill a provision which would rob unionists of a right which they now possess ? To do so would be to pass a Bill which would be a shell without a kernel. The Ministry could in honour take no other course in regard to the amendments than that which they propose to take. For them to accept the amendment and proceed with the Bill would be to- disgrace the tradition of politics, and to destroy the high standard which we hope always to follow in this Parliament. Ministers came into office because they had a disagreement with the late Government in regard to a provision in this Bill, and if they were to accept it after it had been practically torn to shreds and tatters they would be doing something which I, as a supporter, would not like them to do.
– It is about time the Committee came to a division on the amendment before it. But before it does so, I wish to say a few words, not in regard to the motive of my amendment, but in explanation of its effect upon the Bill. My motive is purely to alter the machinery of’ the Bill, not to affect the interests of Ministers. My object is to work the ‘ Bill with organizations whose rules will be simple, and whose subscriptions will be small, so as to afford inducements to join to the greatest number of persons ; organizations into which every employe in an industry in a district can come without losing hSs position in respect to his friendly society. A man joining an organization provided for in the Bill as it stands must either drop out of his friendly society or pay two subscriptions. He might belong to a friendly society associated with a particular church or district, and under the Bill as it stands would either have to pay two subscriptions, or upon becoming a member of a registered organization, discontinue his membership of the friendly society. Under my proposal,, however, he could continue his membership of the friendly society, and would be called upon to pay only a farthing or a halfpenny per week as a member of a registered organization. I have not the slightest objection to unionism or organization. In the two speeches which I made on the Bill this year and last year, I recognised, taking a short retrospective view of unionism, the immense beneficent influence which it has exercised upon the progress of the nation.
– Then why destroy the unions ?
– I am not attempting to do so. But what we are dealing with in the Bill are Federal conditions. The organizations .which would be constituted , under the Bill must be beyond all question Inter-State organizations. It has been said by the honorable and learned member for Indi that if my amendment were carried it would be impossible to make use of the State organizations for the purposes of the Bill. But I do not think we can make use of State organizations under the Bill as it stands. We can use only Inter-State or Federal organizations, and I believe that, as a matter of fact, some of the trades are at the present time federating with a view to coming under the provisions of the Bill. I heard in Adelaide last week that even the rail way men are organizing on a Federal basis, so as to have a constitutional status when the Bill passes. It is not at all clear that, as a matter of constitutional law, we can make use, for the purposes of the Bill, of existing trades unions which are purelyState unions.
– An additional rule or two would meet the difficulty.
– What is required is not the change of a rule or two, but the federation of two or more unions in different States.
– Most of the unions are so federated.
– Then all they would have to do, to register under my amendment, would be to drop from the rules of their organization such as appertain purely to friendly societies or political objects.
– And destroy the whole framework of their organization.
– That is not necessary. When the States joined the Federal union, their constitutions, remained absolutely unimpaired, except in specific particulars. They retained their distinct legislative capacities, financial, and general, and can, if they choose, change their constitutions without affecting the Constitution of tha “Commonwealth. Similarly the existing trades unions pf the States could, by federation, form a new body, with one object and one set of rules, framed purely for the purpose of the Bill, continuing under their existing organizations their educational, social, friendly society, and political objects. The existence of a Federal Parliament and Executive does not abrogate the duties of the States Parliaments and Executives. So the federation of the trades unions of the States would not to any extent interfere with their utility as friendly societies or political organizations, or prevent the carrying out of any other of their professed objects. But it is extremely likely that the Court will hold that a purely State organization cannot take charge of an Inter-State dispute. How then can honorable members say that, if three or four unions in as many States federate with an object relating purely to this Bill, it will kill their utility as State unions?
– Why was not this arrangement advocated when the State measures were under consideration ?
– The Parliament of New Zealand controls, by its laws, the local trades unions, but we cannot control the trades unions of the States. If we use the existing State unions for the purposes of the Bill, we must prescribe that these unions or associations shall have a set of rules as organizations under the Bill. As a matter of fact, their status as unions is regulated not by a Federal law, because such a law cannot touch them, but by a State law. Unless Nye form associations purely’ for the purposes of the Bill, we cannot by a Federal law prescribe their rule’s, because, the basis of the unions will still be governed by the States laws. ‘ Unless the organizations are controlled by Federal laws solely one set of laws will be applicable to them, so far as they meet the requirements of the Bill, and another set of laws set up by the State authorities will govern them, so far as they fulfil the purposes of States organizations.
– The amendment would not meet the case of the union with which I am connected.
– Does not the honorable member see that a very slight reconstruction of the rules of his union would meet the requirements of the amendment. . In discussing my proposal the honorable member ignores the fact that there would be nothing to prevent a hundred members of any union from declaring themselves an organization for the purposes of the Bill, and adopting rules that would allow of every member of the union with which they are associated to apply to become enrolled in the organization formed for the purposes of the Bill.
– That operation would occupy two years.
– It would be quite competent for the executive committee of the union to form itself into an association without consulting the other members.
– We could not do that.
– There would be nothing to prevent them. Only 100 members would be required. The moment that an organization was registered, a rule could be adopted providing that a mere application on the part of any person would serve to secure his admission to the organization. I believe that in this way 20,000 or 30,000 men could, within a month, be admitted into an organization formed for the purposes of the Bill.
– Whilst that was being done, a bogus organization could be formed and registered under the Bill.
– There need be no fear of that. I have drafted amendments which would have the effect of preventing the registration of any organization until ample notice had been given. Notice would have to be published in the Gazette for, say one or two months, and only after the expiration of that period could any union be registered, lt would then be open for any organization to come in and claim preference over the first applicant for registration. I do not see why preference should not be given to an organization formed exclusively for the purposes of the Act.
– That is the difficulty.
– If organizations were formed with objects absolutely distinct from the general objects of- trades unionism, but not contradictory to them, the trades unions could be left free to carry out their objects, whether they were useful or otherwise, within the State sphere, leaving untouched the organizations formed for the purposes of the Bill. The subscriptions to the organizations formed under the Bill should be small, the rules should be simple; and they should be absolutely under the control of the Federal Act. So long as the associations were trades unions, that had been converted into organizations under the Bill, their rules would be governed by State laws, and it would therefore be within the power of the State Parliament to absolutely neutralize the effect of any rules we might prescribe. The Federation ought to be capable of altering the rules of organizations under the Bill at pleasure.
– The honorable and learned member is really declaring that what the unions are now doing is illegal.
– I say nothing of the sort.
– The honorable and learned member wishes to declare them so.
– No, I do not. I recognise the expediency of the trades unions continuing their political propagandism. I realize that they must be the watch-dogs in connexion with the various Factories Acts which have been passed as the result of their endeavours. I believe that one honorable member, who did me the honour to refer to. me to-night - I was not present to hear him - almost threw doubt upon my motives in moving this amendment. He alleged that there must have been some inconsistency in my radicalism in South Australia in connexion with the social movement in the early days. I would remind that honorable member that, so far from my feelings being antipathetic to trades unions, I accepted an invitation to lecture on behalf of the distressed people at Broken
Hill during the strike of 1893. At that time there was a very strong feeling in opposition to the trades unions; but, in the face of that, I took the platform at the Town Hall, with the object of assisting those who had been reduced to distress through the strike. Therefore no honorable member should impute to me any sinister motive. My sole object is to see that the organizations created for the purposes of the Bill are effective. I desire that their rules shall be simple, and that they shall embrace the whole of the employes in an industry, and thus attain to the highest degree of strength, and provide effective machinery for the working of the Act. I rose principally because, owing to the allegations which have been made that this amendment is really directed against . trades unionism, and that, if carried, it would deal a deathblow at the unions, I thought a few words from me were due to the Committee.
– I do not intend to delay the Committee to any great extent, but I desire to refer to two matters to which I think it is only proper to advert. In the first place, a statement has been circulated throughout the Commonwealth that only one of six or seven of the adult workers in New South Wales is a trades unionist. The right honorable member for East Sydney fathered that statement, but I forget who first put it forward.
– I did.
– I am not surprised to hear that the statement originated with the honorable and learned member, because it is just what we might have expected from him.
– It is correct.
– I know that it is absolutely incorrect, in the sense in which it has been used.
– There are only 66,000 unionists in New South Wales.
– That is not correct. That embraces only the numbers furnished to the Registrar of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, as representing the membership of the unions which had registered and sent in returns. A number of unions are not registered under the Arbitration Court, and some of the registered unions had not, sent in returns up- to the date at which those figures were compiled. The other day I gave, from the Statistical Register, a rough idea of the number of workers in New South Wales, and of the number which should be subtracted as belonging to trades, professions, and callings in which no unions are in existence. The people en gaged in these occupations are not eligible to join the existing unions, and the granting of any preference to the members of existing unions would not affect them one way or the other. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa was guilty of promulgating one of those halftruths which it is so difficult to pursue when it is desired to arrive at the actual condition of affairs.
– The Minister excludes a number of occupations from the calculation.
– Certainly, we exclude those persons who are engaged in occupations in which no unions exist, and who could not therefore be detrimentally affected by any proposal to grant a preference to unionists.
– The Prime Minister knows that the typewriters and shorthandwriters have lately formed a union.
– But their number does not materially affect the calculation.
– The life assurance agents are also forming a union.
– Their number, too, is so small that they do not materially- affect the issue. Moreover, the instances which have been cited would correspondingly increase the number of persons who are members of trades unions. Upon 5th April, Mr. A. B. Spence, secretary to the Breadcarters’ Union, in Sydney, wrote to the Daily Telegraph, amplifying the figures which I used here the other night. He states that at the end of December, 1903, there were 754,623 males in New South Wales.) Of that’, number 310,321 were under the age of 17½ years, and therefore cannot be classed as adult workers. He adds that there are 20,719 persons between the ages of 65 and 113 years, or over 65 years’ of age. Consequently, the. actual number of bonâ fide adults in the State is 423,592. Of that number 10,809areen- gaged in government, defence, law, and protection, not otherwise classed ; 16,044are persons ministering to religions, charity, health, education, science, and art; 20,128 are engaged in the supply of board and lodgings and the rendering of personal service; 8,985 find occupation in the exchange, valuation, insurance, lease, loan, or custody of money, house, land or property rights; 4,144 are engaged dealing in. art andmechanical productions; 16,689 are employed as general dealers, or in mercantile pursuits, not otherwise classed; and 424 are described as “ speculators on chance events.” These are bookmakers,
I presume. Then 4,961 persons are engaged in the postal, telegraph, and telephone services, and in the delivery of documents, parcels, and messages by hand ; 75.884 follow agricultural pursuits; 15,850 are employed in dairy farming; 949 in the capture and preservation of wild animals; 1,238 in fishery pursuits; 3,597 are persons of independent means, having no specific occupation; 128 are dependents performing domestic duty, without remuneration; 99,736 comprise relatives and others, not stated as domestics, and not classified otherwise; 10,000 are students and scholars over the age of 17½ years; 988 are persons engaged in- the disposal of refuse; and 10,805are individuals depending upon the State, or upon public and private support. These make a grand total of 301,660. If we subtract that number from 423,592, we find that there are 121,932 males engaged in callings or occupations in which unions exist. Of that number, 66,000 are accounted for in the returns furnished by societies which are registered under arbitration laws.
– Are there any women included in those returns?
– Allowance hasbeen made for them. It is unfair, therefore,to argue that, because there are 400,000 odd workers in New South Wales, of whom only 70,000 are registered under the Arbitration Act, a proposal to grant a preference to unions in any way implies the possibility of those organizations prejudicially operating against non-unionists.
– The unionists number, roughly, about one-half the adult workers ?
– A little more than onehalf.
– That result is arrived at by omitting all the able-bodied men.
– No ; by excluding only those individuals who are engaged in callings in which no unions exist. Honorable members opposite have made much of the possibility of men being called upon to subscribe to political doctrines and to benefit societies in order to secure the advantage of the preference which it is proposed to extend to unionists. I suppose that the Amalgamated Engineers’ Society is one of the most, conservative of existing trades unions. It confers very large benefits upon its members, and it has established a parliamentary propaganda fund; which for years has been used in England for political purposes. Two years ago that or ganization adopted special rules, which are applicable to any persons who care to join the organization under the arbitration laws operating elsewhere. These rules were adopted in Manchester in 1901, and are intended foruse in Australia and other parts of the world where arbitration laws are in force. Amongst other things it is laid down that -
Members admitted under these rules shall be known as “ members under the Arbitration Act.” They shall pay an entrance fee of 5s. (2s. 6d. to be paid when proposed, and 2s. 6d. on night of admission), and 4d. for a copy of rules, including the general rules of the society, and acontribution of 4d. per week. They shall not be entitled to anyof the pecuniary benefits of the society, except those conferred by the Arbitration Act aforesaid.
In other words,, they are not entitled to benefits in the shape of funeral allowances, or old-age pensions, or anything of that description. If they desire to participate in those privileges they can do so by paying an increased fee. The rules continue -
They shall, however, be entitled to participate in benevolent, contingent, and legal assistance funds, to which they shall pay levies the same as ordinary full members. They shall be admitted to all meetings, and be entitled to speak and vote upon all questions affecting themselves in any proceedings under the said Arbitration Act, and also to vote upon levies for the funds beforementioned, and at all elections for branch or general officers.
They are, however, specially exempted from any levy for political purposes. That, it seems to me, is the happy medium upon, which - if a preference be granted to any particular union - the Court should insist in the interests of the non-unionists. It isthat those individuals who join an organization under the preference clause, shall be exempted from any condition which may be sought to be imposed upon them in reference to politics or benefits. At the’ same time, the Court should not preclude the members of the organization from continuing in force their own regular rules for the purposes for which they were originally framed. The “ special “ members of these unions are able to become ordinary members, if they desire to do so, but if they do not, they have none of the concomitant provisions attaching toordinary membership thrust down their throat. I wish to say, in conclusion, that the Government cannot accept the additional suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. He seeks, by adding; the words “or to,” . to perpetuate the first amendment of which he gave notice.
– That is so.
– That being the case, I regard the amendment as being exactly on the same plane as the one of which he originally gave notice.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- The hour is very late, and I think that we should, as soon as possible, come to a division. I believe, however, that I shall be pardoned if I follow the example of the Prime Minister, and take the liberty of saying a few words before we arrive at a decision. I have no personal quarrel with the Government in respect of the extraordinary surrender they have made of principles for which they have fought for years past in their trades unions and their party. If any one had said a few weeks ago that the Labour Party, sitting in the Opposition corner, as the guardian of this measure, and not entangled by views of Ministerial self-interest-
– Is that a worthy suggestion to make?
– I shall presently give my reasons for making it. They sat in the Opposition corner, as we all admit, for a long time, as pure-minded patriots, fulfilling the loftiest ideals of public life, and it is, therefore, remarkable that when, as a Ministry, they arrive at a position which they themselves consider one of crisis, as affecting their Ministerial offices, they surrender principle in a way that, I believe - I may be wrong- - will excite the astonishment -of the trades unionist’s of Australia. When I interjected across the table that the Government, in accepting the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, would surrender the right of trades unionists to haVe a political soul within their organizations, the honorable member for Hindmarsh said he would take a certain course. I do not know whether he will act upon that statement. .
– He will.
– Is that the game? It is not a bad one.
– The Prime Minister is now beginning to use controversial language.
– I should think so.
– I am merely pointing my observation by the testimony of an honorable member, whose disinterestedness on this subject is well known. My view of it might be looked upon as that of a partisan, but the view of the honorable member for Hindmarsh is that of an honest trades unionist.
– Oh ; no fl attery !
– I hope that honorable members opposite are not going to laugh at that statement. The honorable member for Hindmarsh publicly stated that he would never vote for any amendment which would do that which the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposes. What is the history of this matter? For years past preference to unionists, whether in Arbitration Courts or out of them, has been the heart and soul of Labour agitations in connexion with industrial matters. The complaint of trades unions has always been that no honest worker who wishes to stand side by side with his fellow workers has any just reason for remaining outside a trades union. What have my honorable friends opposite said to-night? One after another they have said that trades unionists have won all the benefits and equities which to-day attend labour in Australia; that other men have stood by and enjoyed these privileges, and- have never consented to bind themselves as brothers with those who have fought their battles for them. We were told, before the little bridge was built for the Government by my honorable friends in the Opposition corner - and it seems very likely, from the smile that has suddenly overspread the face of the Prime Minister-
– I cannot help smiling at the right honorable member’s anxiety for our welfare.
– It seems probable, from my honorable, friend’s smoothed wrinkles, that some arrangement has been arrived at. It may be a very close thing, but still sufficient to save the Government. Before this little bridge was built to help, not the trades unions, but the Government, over a difficulty, we were told that if this effacement of the political side of trades unionism were effected, no trades union would touch the Bill. Can we be surprised at that, when we know what would be the effect of the amendment proposed bv the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs in the mother State, where there are more than . twice as many unionists as there are in Victoria, and where unionists have a preference in the State Court ? Under that amendment they would come under the Federal Court with that preference wiped out. That preference would be set aside, not only so far as New South Wales is concerned, but all over Australia, by one decision. The amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas was that, at the first stage, unions should be refused registration unless they put aside their political character. Then the honorable and learned member for Corinella said, “No; that is too extreme. We should not refuse them registration, but should not allow them to submit their disputes to an Arbitration Court unless at that stage their rules and their books were purged of political attributes.” The Government said, however, that with either of these two propositions embodied in the Bill, it would become a mockery, and would not be made use of by the trades unions of Australia. Suddenly, however, a friendly influence arises, and an amendment is foreshadowed which the Government are prepared to accept.
– I hope not.
– I do not think so.
– I am now beginning to understand the position. This is a little bit of strategy. The Government have informed the Committee that they are going to accept the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, in the hope of defeating this amendment, and every other proposal in the same direction.
– The Government have accepted it. ‘
– That is a straightforward statement.
– I said so last night.
– Quite . so ; and I repeat that that is a- straightforward statement. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, however, cannot believe it. I quite understand his difficulty, because, while the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable and learned member for Corinella are- before us saying to the unions, (1) “ no politics before you register,” and (2) “ no politics before you submit a dispute,” the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs comes along with a third proposal, and says “ No politics before you can get an award.” This latter provision, a Labour Government of Australia has accepted, and yet we have been told - “You will ruin the unions if you do not allow them to register.”
– The right honorable member is making a big admission in saying that it will ruin the unions.
– I was not saying that. My honorable and learned friend has had a mental lapse. I have been putting the views of my honorable friends opposite.
– We are extremelv grateful !
– My honorable friends opposite say that if you purge the unions ‘ from politics before they can submit a dispute, you ruin them, but if you purge them of politics before they get a preference - an award - you save the Government. The trades unionists of Australia - these fearless, pure-minded, straighttongued, reckless advocates of the rights of labour - will not understand the Government saying for two weeks, “ It will ruin unionism if preference is taken from the unions “ ; and all at once, when the numbers on the division list get so dangerously narrow, saying, “ Oh, these unions must be purged of their politics.” Let me read the words of the amendment, which the Government - representing the trades unions of Australia - have accepted. What is to happen to trades unions before they can get the preference which they have fought so valiantly, and so loyally for? Honorable members opposite laugh. Surely they can appreciate a good fighter, even if they differ from him. Surely my honorable friends know that over and over again I have recognised the valour, the honour, and the courage of the Labour Party.
– The right honorable member has been on both sides frequently.
– I recognise good qualities in my opponents, which is one of the rarest and best features in political life. I have always recognised that, whether right or wrong, the Labour Party were straight. I cannot recognise that in the Government now. Consider the words which the Government have accepted. ‘ There will be no mistake about them. They will appear in this Bill. We were urged to makeit permissive to the Judge to decide whether there should be- preference or not. But there is no permissiveness about this. ‘ The Judge is not to give preference to unionists,
So long as its rules - that is, the rules of the organization - or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do ‘ anything of a political character.
If that is honestly carried out - and the Court will see that it is carried out - will it not absolutely emasculate the trades unions of Australia? How can that champion of labour rights, Mr. Tom Mann, be continued in his mission by means of the funds subscribed by the trades unions of Victoria? He is a man of ability, a man who has been doing a great work for the trades unions and for democracy in this country, that is, according to the opinion of his friends. But the moment this amendment is carried, if a trades union in Victoria came before the Australian Arbitration Court, and it was shown that it had given a single sixpence out of its funds to help Mr. Tom Mann in his crusade, the bulwark of unionism would go. Unionists will be refused a preference, if sixpence has been subscribed from the union funds to Mr. Tom Mann’s political mission. That is a subject which will engage the attention of the trades unions of Australia. When they see the narrowness of the division list - when they see it can.e to a question of one vote - one vote either way-
– That is the trouble-that one vote !
– One vote- yes ! I often got a labour caucus by one vote myself ! In the hidden recesses of a caucus meeting, in the vaults, it does not matter how you come out, even if it is by one vote. But when you are standing before the people of Australia, and dealing with great laws, and with great bodies of men- of whose interests you are supposed to be the guardians, there is no .secret vault open to you. This sort of manipulation, if it ever occurs, is in the open light of day. And what do we find ? We find that this one thing which was the demand of trades unionism - the right to be political ; the right to agitate as men within their own organizations - has become such an illegal thing that if there is the slightest pretence of it, the whole bulwark of unionism goes, and there is no distinction between a trades unionist and a man who is not. Well, these are matters for which my honorable friends have not to answer to me. I admit that. But it is my duty from my point of view to let the public outside know what this amendment means. It is not a question of preference. It is not a question of unionism. There is a plain thing which is being done to-night. The Government have purchased their existence, for a week or two perhaps - in order to surrender the basic principle of the unions which have made them what they are.
– It does strike one as being exceedingly pathetic that the right honorable member, who was convinced until a few moments ago that the numbers were on his own side;-
– Hear, hear !
– And therefore was quite placid and agreeable all the time, has suddenly wakened to the fact that the numbers are not that way at all.
– Has the honorable gentleman found that out?
– I found it out long before the right honorable member did. And having awakened to that position, the right honorable member betrays a sudden anxiety for our welfare, but no anxiety whatever as to the public interest. What a contrast after the pleading of the right honorable member last week, when he asked the Government to accept some reasonable amendment-
– I asked them to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas.
– The amendment of the honorable- and learned member for Corinella was then before the Chair.
– I did not ask the Committee to accept that.
– No ; the right honorable member did not ask the Government to accept any amendment in particular, but he did ask that some concession should be made in favour of the non-unionists - those men who comprised five-sixths of the workmen of New South Wales. He asked that something should be done for these poor non-unionists. He said, “ Let the Government consider them.” How much is the right honorable gentleman considering them now ?
– Does the honorable gentleman admit that, he has done it ?
– The Government have never betrayed the slightest intention to do other than provide for the. non-unionist equally with the unionist. I say distinctly that this attempt on the part of the Opposition to pose as the special friends of the non-unionists is like a pricked bladder as soon as people understand the question. It is, as I said last night, a spurious effort to divert the attention of the people from the true issue before them. Non-unionists are protected under the measure, as to the conditions under which they are asked to join a union. They are protected under the conditions which the Government have previously accepted ; and in reply to the taunt of the right honorable member for East Sydney that we on this side have purchased a few weeks’ or a few days’ lease of the Government benches-
– And that was very generous.
– By our action in regard to this matter, I desire to say, in the first place, that I did not know last night how the vote was going when I made that declaration. I then said, as I say now, that I am prepared, as a mere matter of logic, and of what is the right thing to do, to accept the spirit of the suggestion put forward by the honorable and learned members for Darling Downs and Indi.
– And did not the honorable member for Hindmarsh say that he would not vote for it?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh is, in common with the honorable member for Lang, the judge of his own action in this matter. What I said last night, not as to the result of finding out how the division would go - because I did not find that out until late this afternoon, though I appear to have found out an hour or two before the right honorable member for East Sydney - was this -
I am prepared to consent to an amendment which will have the effect of preventing preference being given to unions, if they have in their rules anything in relation to politics which is likely to detrimentally affect any persons who may desire to join them.
– I say that is the most wonderful surrender ever known.
– Then the right honorable gentleman ought not to complain of it.
– I say that it is no surrender, so far as regards the principles upon which we have advocated this measure, and I say, further, that if it were a surrender and a concession made to nonunionists the right honorable gentleman, after his own pleading, should be the last person to complain.
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable gentleman should rather rejoice; but, apparently, now he is troubled only with the possibility of the Labour Party in Parliament being torn to pieces by those outside, and so anxious for their welfare is he that the right honorable gentleman beseeches honorable members behind the Government to repent before it is too late, and to leave the Government in the lurch in a matter of this description.
– It is the right honorable gentleman’s good heart that speaks.
– The Prime Minister will have to answer to them, not to me.
– The right honorable gentleman, in speaking last week, on the 29th June, said -
We have been fighting to secure political equality for every man ana woman in Australia. and when he has a prospect of getting what he is asking for, he is still dissatisfied.
– No ; I propose to vote for it.
– That certainly is marvellous ; but I am very glad to have the right honorable gentleman’s assurance immediately before the division.
– It will be carried without a division so far as I am concerned.
– What a surrender?
– The words “or to “ have to be submitted vet.
– The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
And our friends opposite have lent magnificent service, many of them having been honorable pioneers of the movement; but the moment we have got it we are asked to establish the most odious form of inequality, a form which penalizes a man who does not join a political union by taking from him the opportunity to earn his daily bread.
The Bill without the amendment would, in my opinion, have prevented the possibility of anything of that kind occurring; but, with the double safeguard agreed to by the Government some time ago, it is impossible that any such thing could occur. I have only this to say, that I am as fully sensible of the duty one owes to the trades unionists of Australia, as well as to the whole community, as any other honorable member can be.I have taken the step of consenting to the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs so far as the spirit is concerned. I said that I am not bound to the phraseology.
– But I understand that the honorable gentleman has now accepted it as it is proposed?
– I said that I accepted the spirit of it as suggested last evening, though I was not bound by the phraseology.
– I understand that the honorable gentleman has accepted it in the terms in which it is now expressed ?
– I shall not allow the right honorable gentleman to take me any further than my own words take me. I say that the proposal put forward by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and the spirit of which was accepted by me last evening, is quite in consonance with the views which I expressed in Sydney, I think, eighteen months ago, when a matter cropped up affecting this particular question, or affecting the aspect of it now under consideration.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean to accept the phraseology of the amendment as now submitted by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs ?
– I think it very likely that some improvement on it may be discovered.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean by improvement a modification ?
– Not a modification so far as the spirit of the amendment is concerned. I have definitely and distinctly accepted the. spirit of the amendment, and honorable members have not found me unfair in regard to a matter of that sort. I must again express my appreciation of the interest betrayed by the right honorable member for East Sydney on behalf of those with whom he has not been in sympathy for some time past.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh). - There must be no misunderstanding in regard to the position which I take up on this question. The right honorable member for East Sydney is remarkably clever, and finding that the numbers are so close he thinks to trap me on this occasion into voting against the Government.
– The honorable member must obey the caucus.
– I have let the Government know that I am not prepared to support the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. The right honorable member for East Sydney is aware that I spoke to that amendment immediately after it was moved by the honorable and learned member, and without knowing that the Prime Minister or the Government intended to accept it. Much as I dislike that amendment, I certainly dislike the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella a very great deal more. I propose, first of all, to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I shall then certainly exercise my right, whatever the opinion of the Prime Minister or the Government may be, to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, because I maintain that the unions to-day are doing nothing but what they are entitled to do, and what the law permits them to do, and nothing that the law will prevent them from doing in the future. I have, I think, made my attitude perfectly clear. I do not surrender the position I have taken that the unions are doing nothing illegal. The honorable member for Lang, who appears to take so great an interest in my remarks, has been urging for freedom to workers to do what they think is best. Surely the honorable member will be with me in that. He has been shrieking for freedom ever since he entered this Parliament, but he is now endeavouring to deprive the unions of the freedom for which he asks on behalf of others. The members of unions have never striven for anything which they were unwilling to share with non-unionists.
– Before the division is taken I should like the Prime Minister to state the precise form in which he is prepared to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.
– I have not any amendment in my mind at the present time, but I stated last night that I was prepared to accept an amendment which would have the effect of preventing preference being given to unions which had in their rules anything in relation to politics which was likely to affect detrimentally any persons who might desire to join them. I added that the form in which expression should be given to that idea was a matter for later consideration. I say definitely now that I am prepared to go so far, but I have no amendment in my mind at present.
– Has not the honorable gentleman seen the terms of the amendment?”
-I have. seen the terms of it.
– Does h approve of them?
– I have said all I intend to say about them.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- The amendment of the honorable member for Darling Downs is a simple amendment of an amendment which has been under the notice of the Ministry for some days past. . The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella has been on the printed documents of the House for nearly two weeks, so that the Ministry must be perfectly aware of its terms. All that the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposes to do is to substitute for the words “ submit any industrial dispute “ in that amendment the words “ any declaration of . preference by.” I ask the Prime Minister, since he knows the exact wording of the amendment, and has said that he will accept it in spirit, whether he has not weighed the wording of it. If he has done so, he must know whether there is a word in it to which he objects. It is not a matter of accepting in spirit now.
– There are several amendments now before the Committee, and I do not intend to say any more on the subject until we reach the proper stage.
– The Prime Minister will not tell us whether there is anything in an amendment which has been on the notice-paper for a fortnight, and of which it is proposed to alter only three words to enable three others to be substituted, to which he objects. If he says that there is not, and that it is a mere question of phraseology, that is a trivial matter, upon which we do not wish to waste time. But if he intends to ask the Committee to modify the amendment, we should know that before we divide. If the Prime Minister thinks it is a mere matter of wording - -
– Quite so. I have already said I will accept the spirit of it; What does that mean?
– I am satisfied, if it is understood that it is a mere matter of wording which the Prime Minister thinks may have to be altered.
Question - That after the words “ any declaration of preference by” the words “or to” be inserted (Mr. McCay’s amendment of Mr. Groom’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (of Mr. Groom’s amendment) negatived.
Mr. Groom’s amendment (of Mr. McCay’s amendment) agreed to.
Amendment of Mr. McCay’s amendment (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the words “ submit any industrial dispute to,” lines 4 and 5, be left out.
Question - That the words- proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … ..:1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. McCay’s amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I would remind the Prime Minister that, as the amendment has been carried-
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Glynn’s) be amended by the insertion after the words “Provided that” of the following words, “no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by the Court when, and so long as, its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds’ to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character” - resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment, as amended (by Mr. Watson), agreed to -
That the words “no association shall be registered . - (1) Unless it has been formed, and exists solely for the purposes of this Act, or” be left out.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to as follows: -
Provided that no such organization shall be entitled” to any declaration of preference by the Court when and so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
House adjourned at 12.10 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 July 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040706_reps_2_20/>.