3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1 90 1, I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to what appears to be an insidious attempt to introduce into Australia an undesirahle class of immigrants. The matter is explained by the following paragraph, which appeared in yesterday’s issue of the Melbourne Herald-
Mr. N. A. Klych, a Syrian resident of Melbourne, asked the Minister for Lands (Mr. McKenzie) to-day if he would set apart land in a temperate climate for from 30 to 50 families of Syrians whom he proposed to bring out. The land (about 100 acres a family) was desired for silk culture and other cultivation. Mr. McKenzie asked that the request, should be put in writing, when he would lay it before his colleagues. Subsequently Mr. McKenzie said that possible difficulties under the Federal Immigration Restriction Act would also have to be looked into.
Will the Minister inquire as to the nationality of the proposed immigrants, and give his most serious consideration to this matter ?
– I shall certainly inquire into the matter.
– Some time ago the Minister of Home Affairs stated that he intended to call for a weekly report as to the progress being made with the compilation of the electoral rolls. Can he now inform the House when the electoral rolls will be completed ?
– Since giving the promise referred to, I have had a weekly report as to the progress being made in the compilation of the rolls, and from an examination of the latest of these this morning, I am able to say that the promise I gave will be fulfilled. I may inform the House that the rolls for South Australia are ready, and that those for the other States are so well advanced that they will be ready before the end of the year.
– There is some difficulty in obtaining copies of the old rolls in the various electorates; and I ask the Minister of Home Affairs to give very emphatic orders that the new rolls, when ready, shall be readily obtainable at the various post-offices. I should like to know when the rolls for the Queensland electorates will be ready ?
– As I have already intimated, the rolls will be ready by the end of the year; and I shall see that instructions are given that they are made available to honorable members and the public generally.
Telephone Accounts Committee - Call of Steamer Oonah at Stanley - Wynyard Post Office - Wireless Telegraphy, Papua: King Island - Leigh Creek Post Office - Sydney -Brisbane Telegraph Line - Telephone Rates - Erection of Telegraph and Telephone Lines, New South Wales - Subscribers : Bendigo Telephone Exchange.
– I desire to put a ques- tion to the Postmaster-General, and in doing so I may, perhaps, be permitted to explain hat I fear that I did yesterday an injus tice to one of the members of the Telephone Accounts Committee. I had intended before speaking on the telephone rates question to ascertain the exact amount that the Commission had cost, and finding that I had made a mistake during the course of my speech, I proposed to correct it later on. In the rush of business, however, I neglected to doso. I therefore ask the Postmaster-General whether he will now in. form the House what amount has been paid to the Telephone Accounts Committee, and what proportion of that amount has been received by Mr. Holmes, the private member of the Committee?
– The expenses of the Committee are as follow : -
– I wish to know if the Committee has, directly or indirectly, reported on the toll system instituted by the Fisher Government, or whether its report deals absolutely and solely with the present system of rates?
– I know nothing more of the opinions of the accountants than is stated in the report which I presented yesterday, and which, apparently, deals with the existing system.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Union Company’s steam-ship Oonah is now calling at Stanley once a week in accordance with the terms of the new contract? Further, in view of a sum having been placed on the Estimates to provide for a new post-office at Wynyard, Tasmania, will the Postmaster-General issue specific instructions to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Tasmania that the work shall not be delayed. Thirdly-
– Order ! The honorable member is now asking more than one question at a time. He is not entitled to do so.
– The Union Steamship Company have contracted, as the result of an increased subsidy, to allow one of their steamers to call at Stanley once a week, but I cannot say whether a start has yet been made to carry out that part of the contract. As to the Wynyard Post Office-
– I ask the honorable gentleman not to refer to that matter now.
– How soon does the Postmaster-General expect to connect the mainland of Tasmania and King Island by wireless telegraphy? Further, will the Postmaster-General soon be able to arrange for the Union Company’s steam -ship operating between Melbourne and Tasmania to call at King Island once a week to deliver mails?
– It will not be possible to suggest or recommend any further extension of wireless telegraphy until we see the result at the proposed new station.
– I now desire to ask the Postmaster- General the second question about the Wynyard Post Office.
– Provision has been made for the erection of several post-offices, and instructions are given that they are to be proceeded with as soon as possible, including the office at Wynyard.
– It was understood for a considerable time that one of the first experiments made with wireless telegraphy would be undertaken between Cape York on the mainland and Port Moresby or some other point in Papua. Will the PostmasterGeneral state why that intention has been departed from?
– A Conference will be held on the 15th instant to consider the question of wireless telegraphy, including connexion with Papua, at which the suggestion of the honorable member will not be lost sight of.
– I desire to call the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the following paragraph in the Bailor at Star -
LEIGH CREEK POST OFFICE.
Proposal to Shiftit.
So much were the ratepayers against the change thatthey have sent on an extensively signed petition to the Postmaster-General protesting against the alteration. As indicative of the strange manner in which the matter has been conducted by the Department, it may be mentioned that Miss Duffy has received no notification of the change, and yet the mail contractor has been ordered to leave the mails at the Shire Hall, commencing from to-day.
About a month ago I. was informed by the Department that there was no complaint in regard to this post-office. Is it the practice of the Department to move a post-office from where it has stood for twenty-five years without any complaint against the postmaster, or any intimation to him ? I should like the Postmaster- General to give urgent attention to this matter, and see that nothing further is done without full investigation.
– I am not aware of the facts of this particular case, but will issue instructions that no further action be taken until there has been inquiry.
– I recently asked the Postmaster-General a question regarding the congestion of business on the telegraph line between Sydney and Brisbane, affecting, as it did, the northern districts of New South Wales. Is the honorable gentleman in a position to give an answer, or any assurance that the congestion is likely to be dealt with at an early date?
– I have caused inquiries to be made into the complaint referred to. The explanation given is that there has been a considerable amount of rough weather leading to the injury of the lines and necessitating repairs; also that it is necessary to strengthen and increase the line power. Action is being taken in that direction.
– In their interim report, the Committee of Investigation into the question of telephone rates state -
The work at the Exchanges of recording the calls registered by the attendants costs, in the aggregate, more than the revenue derived from the measured rate.
Will the Postmaster-General say whether that refers to the revenue received merely from the calls under the toll system, or whether it also includes the £5 paid for ground rent?
– I believe that the cost of recording the calls registered, and making up accounts of calls, exceeds the revenue received for calls over and above the free calls.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that there are in the Melbourne and metropolitan network11, 800 persons under the toll system, and that they are allowed 2,000 free ringseach ? In view of that fact, does the report mean that before any revenue can be received from calls, over 20,000,000 free calls have to be recorded?
– That is an arithmetical question which I am not prepared to answer. On Saturday last the honorable member for Bass, on behalf of the honorable member for Cowper, asked the following questions: -
I then promised to obtain the necessary information, and have now been furnished with the following replies: -
Yesterday, the honorable member for Barrier asked the following questions : -
I promised to obtain the information referred to by the honorable member, and am now furnished with the following particulars : -
Petition of Victorian Miners
– I wish to askthe
Attorney-General a question relating to the position at Newcastle, and also to a decision given yesterday by Mr. Justice Isaacs on a petition presented to him as President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. The petition read -
We, the undersigned coal miners of Victoria, hereby state that we are in dispute with our employers, and are also in sympathy with the Newcastle coal miners in their dispute with the New South Wales colliery proprietors, and are prepared to go out on strike unless our united grievances are at once submitted to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for settlement.
The petition was signed by some 300 miners in Victoria. Their organization is registered under the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act, is of a Federal character, and is affiliated with a body of unionists in New South Wales, who are also registered. I ask the Attorney-General does he place on the learned Judge’s decision, as reported in the press, the interpretation that it will be necessary, under the law as it stands, for miners to actually go on strike before they can have their case heard by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court?
– I fail to understand how such an inference could be drawn from anything that has been published. There is nothing in the newspaper reports to justify the assumption that any one has said that a strike is necessary to give jurisdiction to the Court. On the contrary, the object of the Act is to prevent strikes.
– But the petitioners expressly stated that they intended to go on strike unless their case was brought before the Court.
– I am anxious that jurisdiction should exist, but, with all due respect to the petitioners, I do not think that they adopted quite the right way of approaching the Court. The jurisdiction of the Court does not depend upon the threat of a strike. The Act, as I have said, is designed to prevent strikes.
– A few moments ago I asked the Attorney-General about a most important matter, and I think that he should have-
– The honorable member must not comment on answers to questions.
– I cannot ask a question relating to a previous question without, in a few words, explaining the position. I do not intend to debate the merits of the issue.
– The honorable member must not comment on answers to questions.
– I thought that the AttorneyGeneral, with his accepted intelligence, would have recognised that this was an effort-
– The honorable member is now proceeding to express an opinion.
– I have no desire to express an opinion, but I thought the AttorneyGeneral would have recognised-
– That is an .expression of opinion, as the honorable member will see.
– I shall get to the question in a moment, and I intend to get to it if it takes me two hours. Whether I have to fight interjections from the Prime Minister and the Speaker does not matter
– Order ! The honorable member must not say that. There is a well-known rule in regard to questions, especially questions without notice, that they must be put without expression of opinion or comment or any attempt at debate. All I am doing is to ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to observe that rule, and that he should describe that as interjecting on my part is scarcely orderly or reasonable. I am bound to exercise the power which is vested in me, and I ask the honorable member, if he has a question to put, not to show undue impatience if he is made subject to the same rule as is every other honorable member.
– With all due deference to your position, Mr. Speaker, I think you have been excessive in your desire to keep me on the strict path this morning.
– Order ! The honorable member must not say that.
– 1 desire to ask the Attorney-General whether we are to understand now that, in his view, although a strike has been threatened in Victoria, and a petition presented, and notwithstandingthat the unionists involved are affiliated with the unionists on strike in New SouthWales, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is of such a character that- men must actually go out on strike before the jurisdiction of the Federal Court can be recognised.
– I am sure that nothing I have said would justiFy such an inference, and I do not see the use of splitting; hairs, when our only desire is to get at the truth. The honorable member asked1 me a courteous question, and I endeavoured to reply in the same strain. As I said before, jurisdiction does not depend on the threat or the existence of a strike.
– That is a gratuitous insult to me, surely.
– I am now only amplifying what I said before. The threat or the existence of a strike may raise a presumption that there is some dispute at the bottom, because men do not wantonly go on strike unless they think there are some, grievances, which, being negatived by their employers, may amount to a dispute. As regards jurisdiction, the President of the Court has been carefully inquiring into the whole matter, and the Secretary of my Department had a telegram front the Registrar last night stating that, in the President’s view, nothing had arisen to justify his intervention. We had hoped that, perhaps, circumstances-.’ would have justified his intervention asmediator under section 16, and have brought about a cessation of the unfortunate trouble in New South Wales. I expect more ample information by letter to-day. I desire to say that we did everything in our power in connexion with the petition to bring it immediately under the notice of the President, in the hope that jurisdiction did exist to enable a Federal tribunal to determine the question. It may be that the association at Jumbunna became registered” under the Act in view of the possibility that has arisen, and may itself in the event find that it can give jurisdiction to theCourt by filing a petition.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that the coal miners of Victoria areaffiliated with the coal miners of New-‘
South Wales, and that, in regard to four of the principal complaints, the miners in Victoria have a common dispute? I do not desire to go into the question of jurisdiction, but, to assist in elucidating the point, I may as part of the question read the following provision from section 16 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904:-
The President shall be charged with the duty of endeavouring at all times by all lawful ways and means to reconcile the parties to industrial disputes, and to prevent and settle industrial disputes, whether or not the Court _ has cognizance of them, in all cases in which it appears to him that his mediation is desirable in the public interest.
I do not desire to express any opinion about the President’s view, but only to ask the Attorney-General whether he does not think the time has come when some action should be taken towards mediation.
– I wish there were jurisdiction for intervention by the President. The matter has been inquired into from the very beginning, in order to ascertain whether, at any point, mediation under section 16 could take place. As I have said, the President has decided that under ch; circumstances disclosed, the law does not, in his opinion, authorize or contemplate intervention. There are’ bigger considerations involved than honorable members seem to” think. Suppose mediation took place, and an effort were made under section 20 to stop the dispute in the State, that dispute now being before a State tribunal. There is power under section 20, which may 01 may not be incidental to section 16, to stop what has been done by the State tribunal ; but suppose it were afterwards found that we had no jurisdiction? The present attempt at settlement by the State would be stopped without anything being done under the Federal Act to lead to a cessation of the dispute. That shows the great responsibility on the judicial Department, and how we might defeat the end that we all have in view. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that there is not a branch of the subject that has not been gone into, or has not caused much anxiety to myself and those associated with me.
– I should like the AttorneyGeneral to say that a petition was the reasonable way to approach the matter.
– All I can say is that the petition, which may be a proper means of directing the President’s attention to a dispute, has been sent to him, and that I expect to-day to receive from him, or the Registrar, a letter on the subject.
– The petition was presented on the best advice available.
– The honorable member has asked my opinion as to whether a dispute has arisen owing to this Association in Victoria being now. registered and now affiliated with that in New South Wales. That may be so, but it is a matter on which their own lawyers can advise. I confess I thought, on reading certain statements regarding a common demand, that we were possibly close to having jurisdiction. But the intervention, except for the purposes of reconciliation under section 16, does not depend on the President. If jurisdiction exists any of the parties - employers or employes - can, by plaint, call for the intervention of the Court.
– If the miners at Jumbunna had laid down their tools and refused to work any further, instead of filing a petition, would that action on their part have constituted an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of a State?
– I do not think I should say anything more on this matter. Offering loose opinions on questions of law is very dangerous, and it w-as only because I thought it was due to the House, on account of the importance of the question, that I went as far as I did.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that the coal miners in Victoria have put their grievances before the local collieryowners, who have declined to recognise them?
– I have read what appears in the papers, from which it appears that the miners of Victoria- have formulated their grievances ; but I cannot answer the question by a direct “ Yes “ or “ No.”
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have considered, or whether he is favorable to, submitting to Parliament a short Bill for a referendum to omit from the Constitution the words that cause all the trouble, namely - “extending beyond the limits of a State “ ? Would he be favorable to pass- ing through an amending Bill now, so that a referendum could be taken on that question, in order to allow the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court to deal with all industrial disputes of the kind now existing, with a view to their prevention and settlement, whether they extend beyond the limits of a State or not?
– Hear ! hear ! We can guarantee that it would go through in ten minutes so far as this side is concerned.
– If the honorable member can guarantee the time that would be’ ta.ken opposite, I do not think he could guarantee the time that would be taken by the two Houses together in considering such a question, which goes far beyond the immediate obligations of the moment.
– Still it would only be asking the people for authority.
– But so serious a question ought not to be answered off-hand. There is, first of all, the fact that at any time an alteration of the Constitution of such magnitude would necessarily demand the fullest consideration both of the Government and of Parliament before it was undertaken. But there is another reason in the fact that what may or may not be dope in certain grave possible emergencies cannot how be discussed without misunderstanding or misapprehension. Therefore, this, or any other Government, in face of the very serious situation which at present exists, and which may become more serious, must- say nothing which would preclude it, if circumstances required, from taking Parliamentary or other action which it believed to be necessary in the public interest.
– Does the Prime Minister recognise the gravity of the present circumstances, and realize that if free labour is introduced to the mines in New South Wales, as, judging by this morning’s papers, is possible, it will cause a great deal more disturbance and, possibly, something approaching civil war, and that in that possibility the New South Wales Government may deem it necessary to call upon the Commonwealth Government for military assistance? In that event, will the Prime Minister give an equally guarded and careful reply to such a request as he did this morning to this side of the House: when it asked, in the quietest and most respectful way, for Federal intervention, in order to bring about an amicable settlement?
– If there were any reasonable possibility of successful intervention by this Government for an amicable settlement, it would have been undertaken long ago, or would be undertaken tomorrow. There would be no hesitation in that regard.
– Issue an ultimatum.
– The issue of ultimata which one has no legal power to enforce would only further embroil a most unhappy condition of affairs, which we desire to see prevented, and not accentuated in its bitterness. If ari application of any character is made by any State, it will necessarily receive the careful consideration of the Government, but, quite apart from that, as the Attorney-General has indicated, no step has been taken day by day during the whole operation of the strike which has not been watched both from the legal side and also in the light of the public necessities. That observation, instead of being relaxed, will be increased as the crisis increases in intensity. I assure the honorable member that there is no other motive for our desire in this matter than to refrain from action which would increase the evil, and to take the first occasion by which we can diminish it.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Darwin, in the course of a personal explanation in regard to the Fremantle municipal loan, mentioned my name, and made a statement that so surprised me that I sent the following telegram to the Mayor of Fremantle -
Some months ago King O’Malley made statement in this House that Fremantle loan was a failure, which statement I for the Fremantle Council contradicted. King O’Malley this morning read statement in this House to prove that loan was a failure as stated previously by him. Reply.
In reply, I have received the following telegram -
Cannot fathom O’Malley’s motive repeating untruthful statements.
– Order. The honor- . able member must withdraw that statement. He must not read any words that reflect upon an honorable member. I would point out to ‘him that it is even more objectionable to read in the House statements written by a person outside reflecting upon an honorable member than to make such statements in the House itself.
– I withdraw the words “ untruthful statements.”
– Some one ought to object to this telegram being read.
– The telegram continues -
Council offered three times face value loan, and accepted over two-thirds issue immediate requirements.
– I do not think this telegram ought to be read.
– Order. The honorable member must not interrupt.
– The telegram continues -
Balance satisfactory rates, available, any moment, and will be called up when required.
– It is not a question of interrupting when an outside person is deliberately insulting the House.
-I call upon the honorable member for Adelaide to observe the direction of the Chair, and not to interrupt the honorable member who is addressing the House.
– The telegram continues -
Council’s policy opposed accepting full issue, as bank interest on fixed deposit less than interest debentures. Of the thirty thousand pounds loan the remaining eight thousand will not be called up for some months; would be interesting know people making catspaw of O’Malley, and would again recommend that peculiar person mind his own business. .
– Order ! If the honorable member proposes to make any further quotation from the telegram, I think he should first submit it to the Chair.
– He ought not to have been allowed to read it.
– Order ! I do not think it is in order for an honorable member to read a statement of such a character as that which the honorable member for Fremantle has just quoted. If he hasa personal explanation to make, he ought to confine himself to it, and not, under cover of an explanation, read statements which reflect upon another honorable member.
– I apologize. I did not know that I should not be in order in reading that part of the telegram in which the honorable member for Darwin is asked to mind his own business. I presume that his business is quite legitimate, and that, therefore, no harm is done in suggesting that he should look after it.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. In view of the honorable member for Fremantle having withdrawn the words he quoted attributing to me untruthful statements, I object to their appearing in Hansard.
– I do not follow the exact: point raised by the honorable member. As soon as the words complained of were used, I called upon the honorable member for Fremantle to withdraw them. I understand that the rest of the explana tion made by the honorable member, so far as he is aware, is correct.
– But when, Mr. Speaker, you objected to the honorable member quoting the statement to which I refer, he admitted that it was untruthful by withdrawing it.
– I withdrew the untruthful part.
– I urge that there should not appear in Hansard a statement that is admitted to be untruthful. However, that is of no consequence. T only desire now to say that I took the statement from the Argus and the Age.
– And the honorable member is, no doubt, supported by the newspapers.
– The statement read is by the Mayor of East Fremantle, Mr. Thompson, so that there is simplv a contradiction.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss the matter.
– Is it the intention of the Minister of Defence to call all volunteers into camp during Lord Kitchener’s visit, and, if so, what provision will be made for their payment?
– There is no provision for the payment of volunteers, and, as for their going into camp, that is a matter which must, I take it, be left largely to themselves. We hope that the volunteers will go into camp, and we shall be very glad if they do.
– I do not think I made my question quite clear to the Minister of Defence. I wish to ask him whether any portions of the Defence Forces which receive no pay, and which are asked to go into an eight days’ camp for inspection by Lord Kitchener, will be allowed, or whether he has power to allow them, payment for being four days longer in camp than the present regulations require?
– We have no money voted for any such purpose, and I am afraid that if we began to pay all volunteers who go into camp for eight days, we should have to vote a large sum; To pay all the volunteers in Australia for that eight days’ camp would run into from £15,000 to £20,000. I have no authority at present to pay these men. They are volunteers and not militia.
– Seeing that the session is drawing to a close, I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has any information to convey respecting the appointment of a High Commissioner under the Act just, passed ?
– The Cabinet has had one meeting which was devoted to this important issue, but no decision was arrived at. There is, therefore, no warrant for any statement in regard to any person as having yet been selected by the Cabinet.
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to say now whether he will announce the name of the gentleman who is to be appointed High Commissioner within, say, two months?
– I have made arrangements for a Cabinet meeting or two this week, and I hope we may be able to take a decided step then. It is, however, a really serious matter, and the little consideration given to it for the half hour or so that has been available-
– I said within two months.
– I ‘think that is absolutely certain.
-Then the honorable genleman’s hope of being able to announce the appointment to Parliament this session has faded?
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House on what date the next general elections will be held ?
– It is not determined, but I glanced the other day through the requirements of the statute, and, speaking from memory, found that it allowed for a margin of something between a fortnight or three weeks after Easter. The probability is that they will take place within that period.
– I suppose the Prime Minister’s statement in that regard can be always taken for granted, but I would point out that the matter is very serious so far as South Australia is concerned, because the State general elections take place about March or April, and it would be unfortunate if the two conflicted. In the circumstances, can the Prime Minister say approximately at what date the Federal elections will be held ?
– The honorable member has touched upon the very reason why I was unable to give a more specific answer. It is not only certain that there will be elections in South Australia, but it is possible that there may be elections in at least one other State, falling due about the time referred to. It is because further inquiries were necessary in regard to the State arrangements and the probable State choice of dates that I was unable to do more than refer to the latest date before which the Commonwealth election must be held. Our object, of course, will be to avoid clashing with either State elections.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs to the position of affairs existing at Broome, WesternAustralia. No vegetables or fruit are grown locally ; yet a proclamation - which I admit was to some extent relaxed at my instigation - has been issued against the importation of potatoes and vegetables there. But the restrictions still being imposed are very vexatious to the residents of the district. Seeing that no vegetables are locally grown, and that, even if any disease existed in the imported vegetables, there would be no danger of its spreading, because the articles are consumed on the spot and not used for seed, cannot the Minister of Trade and Customs see his way to remove all restrictions now applying in that regard?
– The honorable member brought this matter under my notice before, and the Minister of Trade and Customs tried, to some extent, to meet his views.
– I have another wire from Broome to the effect that things are very unsatisfactory.
– If the honorable member will give me a copy of that wire, or any further information’ at his disposal, I shall make further representations to the Minister in order to ascertain to what extent the hon.orable member’s request can be met.
asked the Minister- representing the Minister of Trade and Cus- toms, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that the fishcanning industry has been established at several centres on the coast of Queensland, the Minister of Trade and Customs will arrange for the trawler Endeavour to make investigations in Queensland waters ?
– Arrangements will be made as soon as practicable for the testing of the Queensland fishing grounds by the Endeavour.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiry will be made, and the desired information furnished, as soon as possible. If the honorable member should not be in Melbourne when it is available, I shall be pleased to send it to him.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Governor-General - if not, what is the reason?
Major Carroll’s juniors been promoted over his head ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Captain is by selection, and it is also pointed out that no officer can claim promotion as a right.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Carrol was a member of the Queensland Per- manent Staff, and if not was it asked from any Australian Government in any case of promotion - if so, where and when?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Honorary Major Carroll was a member of a Queensland contingent.
Bill returned from Senate without request.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence Department -
Memorandum by the Minister of State for Defence on the Estimates of the Defence Department for the financial year
Memorandum on Australian Military Defence and its Progress since Federation. Ordered to be printed.
Audit Acts - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1908-9 (dated 7th December, 1909).
Old-age Pensions - Re Particulars required to be furnished by applicants for the Old-age Pensions - Replies received from Deputy Commissioners and Magistrates.
Public Service Act - Regulation No. 142 Amended - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 130.
Excise Act - Additional Regulation - No. 134a - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 132.
Lands Acquisition Act - Return showing land disposed of at Port Elliot, South Australia.
– I move -
That the consideration of Orders of the Day, Government Business Nos. 1 and 2, be postponed until after the consideration of Orders of the Day, Government Business Nos. 3 to 10.
I do this to give the House an opportunity to deal, if possible, with two or three short measures which have reached their last stages, and which the Senate is waiting to consider, should we amend them in any way. The two Bills for the amendment of the arbitration and conciliation law can be regarded as one, while but one clause of the Bills of Exchange Bill remains to be considered. In connexion with the Public Service Bill, we have only to deal with an amendment of the Senate. Then there is the Officers’ Compensation Bill, and the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, which will involve consideration. Finally, if honorable members feel disposed to pass it without delay, we can take the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill.
.- I feel that the agreement entered into between the Prime Minister and myself last night ought to be kept.
– We propose to go on with the financial statement later. The Senate is now waiting for business.
– I wish to meet the Prime Minister as far as possible, but I do not think that his proposals are fair, in view of the arrangement between us.
– Will the Prime Minister close up the discussion on the Supplementary Estimates?
– Certainly not.
.- I point out that the consideration of the Bills of Exchange Bill will take a long time, inasmuch as it is proposed to insert in it a provision absolutely altering the law. I do not think that the Bill can be got through to-day, except under pressure, unless the proposal to which I refer is abandoned.
– I agree with the honorable member for Corio that the new provision in the consolidating and federalizing measure relating to bills of exchange is most contentious, and will give rise to a considerable discussion. The honorable member for Balaclava is keenly interested in the matter. Such a proposal should not be brought forward at this stage of the session.
– We hope to deal with the matter in a way which will avoid lengthy debate.
– If the provision referred to were dropped, the measure would not take long to pass.
,- The Prime Minister is mistaken if he thinks that some of the Bills which he has mentioned will not excite discussion.
– If they do, we must drop them.
– If the honorable gentleman wishes to finish to-day, and to give that opportunity for the discussion of the financial statement which is promised, he will not let contentious legislation intervene. The Officers’ Compensation Bill is such a measure. We are entitled to know why compensation is to be paid. I think that it would be better to take some of the Bills which are not likely to be discussed, for instance, the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill.
– I understood that there would be opposition to it. If there is not, it will go through.
– There is likely to be more opposition to some of the other measures on the business-paper.
– I wish to give a chance to all.
– The Prime Minister is not taking the line of least resistance. If the Recording Machines Bill were taken before the Public Service Bill, there would be less trouble in getting it through.
.- We had a definite understanding with the Prime Minister last night that if the Appropriation Bill were allowed to pass through all its stages so that it could be sent to the Senate, we should have a full opportunity to consider the financial statement in connexion with the additional Estimates submitted by the Treasurer. The discussion was commenced last night, and two or three members took part in it, but now it is proposed, to intervene with a number of measures, all of them in some degree contentious, though perhaps not greatly so. It cannot be thought that we could pass them in ten minutes, particularly when one of them is the Bills of Exchange Bill.
– The Attorney-General has a proposal to make which we think will remove all objections to that measure.
– If the business which the Prime Minister wishes to bring on be discussed, what opportunity will there be for continuing the discussion of the financial statement? Will the honorable member agree to take two or three measures only?
– I ask only that the House, before continuing the financial discussion, should give a reasonable period to the consideration of the business to which I have referred.
– And will the Prime Minister name an hour for the resumption of the financial discussion?
– I hope that it may be resumed immediately after lunch, or within a few minutes of our re-assembling.
– That is something definite.
– We ask only for an hour for the discussion of the business which I have mentioned.
– I am agreeable to that, on the understanding that the afternoon will be devoted to the financial discussion.
.- I deprecate the rushing through of measures in the last moments of the session.
– Every one is agreed regarding the Conciliation and Arbitration proposal.
– Yes; but, in addition, there are the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, the Public Service Bill, the Officers’ Compensation Bill, the Bills of Exchange Bill, and other measures. Each member of the Opposition should put on record his protest against the rushing through of Bills which, though nominally of trifling importance, are really important. We had plenty of time to deal with them earlier in the session.
– The Prime Minister’s proposal is a breach of the arrangement made last night.
– Every one thought that the financial debate would close last night. I did not know that so many honorable members desired to take part in it. Of course, all who wish to do so are entitled to express their views on the situation.
– The Bills which I have named could have been dealt with early in the session, but then the Ministry was always ready to agree to adjournments. Now, in the last moments of the session, we are asked to rush through Bills which cannot be properly considered, so that the result of our efforts will probably be costly litigation, and amending Bills next session. Under these circumstances, the Prime Minister should not press his proposal. We have his promise that the discussion of the Treasurer’s statement will be resumed at a certain hour. That discussion is the most important that we can engage in, though it may be inconvenient to the Ministry. The Prime Minister knows that he can at any moment close the session now, and if he gets the Bills which he asked for, the discussion of the financial statement will probably be seriously shortened. Even last night the Treasurer was perturbed because he was not allowed to apply the. “gag” to the Opposition.
– Absurd. Mr. Speaker, I do not know that I am in order, but I wish to point out that the honorable member for Adelaide is making a statement that I desired last night to apply the “gag”-
– The right honorable member is not entitled to interrupt the honorable member who is addressing the Chair in order to make a personal explanation. He will have an opportunity to do so later on.
– It was an outrageous statement.
– An outrageous statement.
– When the Treasurer and his little assistant on my left have finished their disorderly interjections, I may he permitted to proceed. The Treasurer was considerably perturbed last evening, and openly suggested that the Leader of the Opposition ought to have been “gagged” when he was dealing with the financial statement-
– An absolutely incorrect statement.
– It is absolutely correct, and the right honorable member is awarethat it is.
– Although an interjection is disorderly, the honorable member addressing the Chair is bound to take notice of it, if it is an objection to or an explanation of some statement he has made. The honorable member for Adelaide, in accordance with custom, must accept the denial of the Treasurer that he said that the Leader of the Opposition ought to be “ gagged.”
– I do not know what the custom is, but I do know what was said, and I am at liberty to repeat that he publicly made the statement - I am not the only honorable member who heard him - that I have attributed to him. If he wishes to deny it, he is welcome to his denial.
– I do deny it.
– Withdraw! Withdraw !
– Keep quiet. You are interjecting like a little fool, although at times vou are very amusing.
- Mr. Speaker, will you keep this foolish little man in order?
– Order !
– You are calling me to order, sir, when I am certain that my language is quite in order.
– I have not called the honorable member to order except when he has used an expression that he ought not to have used, but I have called to order others who have been interrupting the honorable member.
– I thank you, sir. 1 thought that you were calling me to order, when, evidently, you were calling to order others who were interrupting. I desire to protest against the passing of these measures in the last few hours of the session, and to suggest that our time would be better occupied in dealing with the financial question. I hope that when we do reach the Supplementary Estimates, and proceed
Ito discuss the financial question, we shall not be “gagged” by the Ministry.
– I desired to make some observations when the Estimates were before us, but at the request of the Leader of the Opposition, I re- mained silent.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity this afternoon.
– But the Government, having succeeded in passing these Bills, will be independent as to the rest of the business.
– There will be no attempt to close the debate.
– The Government might close it by calling for a quorum.
– The call for a quorum will not come from this side.
– The Prime Minister has made many promises and has al- ways found some means of getting away from them. He made a promise in regard to the new Protection policy which has not been kept.
– The honorable member knows that the Senate is waiting for business. That is our only reason for urging that certain Bills should be dealt with without delay.
– Well, I shall see whether the Prime Minister is prepared on this occasion to keep his word.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Further ordered -
That Orders of the Day, Government Business, Nos. 3 to 8, he postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No.9.
CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION (PARTS II. and III.) BILL.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
When Senator Needham’s Bill was sent down from the Senate there was before thisHouse another Cocci liation and Arbitration Bill, the second reading of which I have already moved. To a certain point the two measures cover the same ground, but Senator Needham’s Bill required some amendment to bring it into line with sections 9 and 10 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I have so amended it, and the reprints circulated amongst honorable members show in black type the amendments I havemade to bring it into line with the original Act. In clause 1 there is merely an alteration of the title. Clause 2 in the Bill as intro duced by Senator Needham was designed to amend sections 9 and 10 of the principal Act, but as it is with these two sections that the Bill deals chiefly, I think it well to repeal them outright and to insert in lieu thereof two sections repeating them as amended. Senator Needham’s Bill omitted some essential words contained in the principal Act, such as those relating to the dismissal of an employe merely because he is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement. His Bill, as well as mine, contained a few additional words in that connexion which are not in the original Act of 1904. Clause 2 provides for a proposed new section “ 9A,” providing that no employer shall dismiss any employe from his employment or “ injure him in his employment.” Those are the new words inserted in the Senate, and we have adopted them. I come now to the new matter that I have added. Clause 3 did not appear in Senator Needham’s Bill, and, in fact, I may say that the remaining provisions to which I shall refer were not embodied in it. They have been taken from my own Bill. The first proposed new section for which clause 3 provides will enable costs to be given in respect of proceedings other than industrial disputes. There is power under the existing AGt to give costs in the case of industrial disputes, but sometimes important matters that are not, technically speaking, industrial disputes, such as an inquiry into registration, are brought before the Court, and it is found that the President has no power to award costs.
– Does the honorable member think that costs should be awarded in such a matter?
– Yes; both sides have had to resort to professional advice.
– If we agree to that provision as to costs, we shall destroy the whole system of registering.
– I have fairly good authority for the belief that we shall not do so. I think that the Court recognises that it is sometimes a bar to perfect justice that costs cannot be granted.
– No worse principle could be introduced. I say that as one who has been in a number of cases.
– I discussed the matter in moving the second reading of the other Bill to which I have referred. Clause 4 deals with the rules of Court. At present it is not clear whether the President can prescribe the duties of the Registrar.
We are proposing to give him that power. We declare in clause 4 that he shall have power to make rules for the procedure and practice of the Court, and also for prescribing the duties of the Industrial Registrar. The rest of the clause is purely formal. It provides merely for the publication of the rules in the Government Gazette. The Acts Interpretation Act deals with the publication of regulations, and as rules have to be framed in this case, I thought it well to repeat the provisions of that Act in this connexion. As to clause 5, I may point out that it is a technical amendment of the principal Act. At present the Act provides that the Registrar may refuse to register an association as an organization, if an organization to which the members of that association might belong has been registered in the State in which the application is made. Under this clause it is proposed to omit the words “ in the . State in which the application is made.”
– Section 59, as it stands, is absurd.
– I agree. with the honorable member. The last clause of the Bill is simply to make it clear that the President of the Court has power to commit for contempt. In the case of a Court of record there is power to commit for contempt. Under section 83 of the Act the President can keep order in his Court by filing an information, if he chooses, to recover a penalty, but that might take place two months after the offence. I wish to give the President beyond doubt the usual power of an ordinary Court of record which is under section 1.1. These are the amendments proposed, and I do not think they will call for any discussion, save in so far as they relate to the question of costs. I ask honorable members to assist me in passing the Bill without delay.
.- Some of the provisions of this Bill are acceptable to honorable members generally, but there is at least one provision that I must seriously oppose. I refer to clause 3.
– Let us. divide upon it.
– Not without a debate.
– I do not, for one moment, doubt the view held by the AttorneyGeneral. The Attorney-General, no doubt, desires to make the Act better than it is now ; but I venture to express the opinion that, in giving the matter so little consideration at this late hour of the session, we may defeat the very object we have in view. Those who seek registration, generally speaking, have very little funds, and, consequently, are unable to employ the best legal talent. When we were discussing the original measure, I pointed out that it was a question whether those who desired to be registered would be able to do so. Undoubtedly, in certain quarters, there is a prejudice against the Act, and powerful and wealthy associations can raise technical objections with utter indifference as to whether they have to pay costs or not ; while the employes are not able to follow them to the High Court. With the exception of the clause to which I have directed attention, I have no objection to the Bill. I take it that the object pf clause 5 is to limit the registration to one place in the Commonwealth.
.- 1 am very glad that the Government are piepared to drop the clause to which objection has been taken, and I have the further suggestion to make that section 59 of the original Act, which is amended by clause 5, should be further amended by the substitution of the word “ shall “ for the word “ may “ in the following provision -
The Registrar may refuse to register any association as an organization if an organization, to which the members of the association might conveniently belong, has already been registered in the State in which the application is made.
The onus ought to be placed on the Registrar of deciding that such members cannot conveniently belong to an organization already registered.
– That point may be considered when we are in Committee.
.- I do not desire to protract the discussion, but I suggest that in clause 3 an opportunity is presented to those who desire to prevent the adoption of legal methods in the industrial Arbitration Court by making the Act a little more stringent in this regard. When the original measure was before us, it was urged with remarkable unanimity and persistence that organizations not possessed of great means, might be represented by one of their own members, so that the questions at issue might be decided free from all legal- quibble. But what has actually happened since? In a large number of cases the representatives of the. industrial organizations have a certain amount of legal knowledge, and, in one or two instances’, have been called to the Bar, and have - I do not say intentionally - used the prejudice against the legal professions generally, in such a way as to make it almost a sine qua non that they shall represent their unions before the Court.
– Not unless they are officers of the union.
– They are officers of the union ; but that does not save any expense, because they draw their legal fees.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– The measure has been sprung on us so suddenly that I have not had time to devise a remedy, but all honorable members must have realized for some time the farce that is going on in this connexion. We have been told that it is not fair that an industrial organization should be compelled to pay for the best legal talent procurable; but I suppose that it has to pay for the legal assistance now rendered, what are regarded as legal union rates by those members of the organizations who happen to be lawyers. If the object is to prevent expensive litigation, we ought to prohibit lawyers, whether members of the organizations or not, from appearing before the Court.
– The issues are determined by the Court in equity and in good conscience, and not by legal quibble.
– Then what is the use of employing a lawyer unionist and paying him the legal union rates of pay ? Doubtless those men claim their £15 or £20 a day, according to the usage of the profession.
– The employers’ associations may employ lawyers ; one side cannot have legal assistance unless the other has it also.
– I am concerned that the unions should be freed from this extraordinary incubus. The honorable member for Cook, as a layman, represents his union in a number of cases, and does not charge the rates of the legal profession.
– I do not charge anything.
– But there are other members, who, because they happen to be lawyers, and cannot blackleg against the legal profession, feel impelled, in the public interest, to accept the customary legal equivalent for their services. The result is that some unions who started rich are now poor, while some of those Labour lawyers who started poor are now rich.
– Will the honorable member name them?
– I am willing to name one or two of them to the honorable member privately ; but I do not wish to introduce personalities.
– It does not matter what we do; the unions will be compelled to employ legal assistance, simply because the other side does so.
– The clause refers to pure questions of law, and not to an inquiry on the merits.
– In the case of a firm of employers, it is a thousand to one that there is not a legal gentleman in it, whereas amongst the employes there are numbers with the necessary knowledge to conduct cases; and we might aim at enabling the employes to have their cases heard before the Arbitration Court without having to pay any persons or set of persons.
– I do not find any reference in the Bill to the appearance of lawyers before the Court.
– Clause 3 provides -
The Court or the President may order any party to any proceeding, before it or him, not being an industrial dispute, to pay to any other party such costs and expenses, including the expenses of witnesses, as are specified in the order.
If the parties go into Court with a firm belief in the justice of their case, I think it would be a good thing for them to employ their own secretaries as representatives without special pay? I make this suggestion in the interests of the union themselves, and to prevent Labour lawyers charging expenses which were never anticipated.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth seizes every opportunity to insult honorable members on this side - members who are lawyers and happen to be associated with the Labour Party. If we were to resort to the same line of argument, we could show that fifty times as much is paid to lawyers by the other side out of their association funds. I regret the introduction of this question into the discussion of this Bill, with which I do not see that it has anything to do. I understand that the Government propose to drop the clause to which exception has been taken, but there is another matter which requires more attention than it is likely to get now. From the workers’ point of view, I do not see any advantage in this Bill, beyond the pious hope that an employer will not dismiss his employes in the event of their being parties to an industrial dispute. It is not fair that an employer should dismiss a man simply because he takes legal means to obtain better conditions.
– Employers do not do that. It might be done in a few cases, but I do not believe it has been frequently done.
– It is done in many cases. I know of a case in Western Australia where the whole of the employes in one establishment were dismissed, of course not because they had applied to the Court, but because they were incompetent - the incompetency being suddenly discovered afterwards. That happened in connexion with the hotel and restaurant employes’ case in Western Australia. I do not know that a great number of employers desire to do that sort of thing, but if they do want to dismiss a man they will find the means by saying that his service is unsatisfactory, without mentioning that he has been a party to an industrial dispute. Another provision is that no employe shall cease work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that the employer is an officer or member of an association that has applied for registration. That is rather drastic, and would be difficult to enforce. Men may want to leave a particular employment for some reason quite unconnected with the decision of the Court. Supposing a number of employes obtain an award in regard to an industrial dispute, after there has been a strike, and the Court orders them to return to work, will they be likely to submit cheerfully to work side by side with men who were “ black-legging” on them during the strike? To force them to do so, under pain of a fine of £10, would not be likely to conduce to industrial peace. I think the Bill could stand much greater consideration than it is likely to get to-day.
– We have gone through it with Senator Needham.
– I know that Senator Needham, in order to give effect to his desire to protect the employes, was induced in another place to accept the provision that no employe should leave his work, but, even if he did agree to that proposal, I do not think it will conduce to industrial peace.
– And all his associates agreed to it.
-Ithink. there is some doubt about that. However, there seems to be a general desire to rush measures through without giving them due consideration. I suppose two or three, amending
Bills will be necessary next session, but I do not feel disposed to talk all day to try to stop what is being done.
.- Only the clauses which give the President of the Court power to make rules and regulations for the procedure of the Court and the duties of the industrial Registrar appear to be of any use whatever. An indication that the measure was being rushed through was given by the frank admission of the honorable member for Wentworth, who is usually well prepared, that he was taken on the hop in this case, and did not understand its provisions. That is to be regretted, and other members may be in a similar position. If, however, the Bill is to pass as submitted by the AttorneyGeneral, what little good there may be in clauses 5 and 6 of the copy with which I have been supplied will be quite counteracted by the clause which proposes to give the President power to impose costs upon any person making application for registration. With regard to the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth, possibly he and others are consumed with envy because some members of the Labour party have been able to go to the Universities and qualify for the law - a course of conduct which is not generally followed by persons more favorably endowed with the world’s goods, although perhaps less favorably with brains. So far as the Federal Arbitration Court is concerned, Labour lawyers have not yet been employed to any extent worth mentioning, but unions are forced to employ lawyers, because, whenever there is a likelihood of a dispute going before the Court, the employers seem to avail themselves of the best legal minds obtainable for money. The employes must, consequently, in self-defence, obtain legal assistance, but if the other side would refrain from employing counsel, there is no doubt that the unions would gladly meet them. I believe all honorable members on this side are willing to have the clause relating to the costs and expenses of both parties struck out, because, if left in, it will mean the employment of lawyers, and heavy legal expenses, and prevent all but the most wealthy unions from seeking registration - a result which we ought to deprecate. If, as I now understand, the Government have agreed to the excision of that clause, I see no reason why the Bill should not be passed. The clauses forbidding an employer to dismiss an employe, or an employe to leave his employment on account of applications under the Act, seem to be farcical. I know that the idea is good, but no law that can be framed will prevent an employer from dismissing any man if he so desires, or will force an employe who is dissatisfied with his employer to stay at his work. It does not matter much whether those two clauses are left in or taken out.
.- It is asking a great deal of the House, at this late hour of the session, and with such a small attendance, to deal with questions of this kind, which are the most important now before the community. I do not pretend to be able to understand the provisions of the Bill.
– These are only machinery clauses.
– We have the honorable member’s assurance for that, but should like to be certain of it. I should have liked to see some of our legal talent present, in the persons of the honorable member for Flinders and the honorable member for West Sydney, because I do not know whether honorable members opposite are all equal to the task of interpreting these complicated measures. I am not. All industrial laws should be thoroughlyconsidered, and we ought not to be expected to deal with them without consideration in the dying hours of a Parliament. The number of amendments in the Victorian State law is extraordinary. Every fresh amendment means another hunting up of documents, and renders the law still more difficult for an ordinary man to understand. I think we ought to try to simplify this legislation, so as to minimize the cost. The cost of the machinery necessary now to settle a dispute is remarkable. Honorable members opposite regard it from their point of view, but I look at it from ours.
– This Bill does not increase the cost.
– I think clause 3 would greatly increase it.
– The Governmenthave agreed to drop that clause.
– If so, and if the Attorney-General will give me an assurance that the rest of the Bill contains nothing but machinery provisions, I shall not have the same objection to it.
Question resolved inthe affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
.- In view of the action of the High Court whereby the intention of this Parliament in passing the principal Act has not been carried out, is it not possible for the AttorneyGeneral to frame a clause for insertion in this Bill somewhat on the following lines-
Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act, whenever any Commonwealth Court gives a decision upon any part of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, providing either party to such case heard lodge anobjection to the verdict that it is not in accordance with the spirit and intention as shown by the speeches of a majority of members of Parliament who carried the Act into law, then such verdict shall be suspended until an amending Act be passed in the next following session.
The effect of such a provision would be that in a case like that in which the agricultural implement-makers’ employes were concerned, the decision of the High Court would be temporary, having effect only until we could pass amending legislation to compel those who were not giving effect to the intentions of Parliament to obey the law.
– The suggestion of the honorable member is a very good one.
– I move -
That the clause be amended to read as follows : -
.- The Bill being nothing but verbiage, it is, of course, abundantly necessary to state its provisions in the most lucid and concise language in which they can be couched. With the exception of clause 3, the measure is merely words. I would remind the Committee that we are dealing now with legislation after the Appropriation Bill has been passed by both Houses, so that our power to control the Government byour hold of the public purse has gone from us. This should be permitted only with great reluctance and extreme caution. No one appears desirous to have the Bill.
– The honorable member ought not to talk it out.
– I do notpropose to do so. In my opinion, we should deal with the Conciliation and Arbitration law as a whole. There are one or two weaknesses in the present legislation which all parties would like to amend.
– I went through this measure very carefully three months ago.
– No one anticipated that it would be brought forward again this morning. I came prepared to hear a discussion on the Supplementary Estimates.
– This is a measure to assist administration.
– I think that the AttorneyGeneral informed the Leader of the Opposition that a provision relating to costs is the vital part of the Bill. I see nothing in the measure to justify our rushing it through Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 2 (Employer not to dismiss employee, &c).
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the clause be amended to read as follows : -
Part II. of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sections nine and ten and inserting in lieu thereof the following sections : -
– (1.) No employer shall dismiss any employee from his employment or injure him in his employment by reason merely of the fact that the employee is an officer or member of an organization, or of an association that has applied to be registered as an organization, or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.
Penalty : Twenty pounds. (1a.) No proceeding for any contravention of this section shall be instituted without the leave of the President or the Registrar. (2.) In any proceeding for any contravention of this section, it shall lie upon the employer to show that any employee, proved to have been dismissed or injured in his employment whilst an officer or member of an organization or such an associafion, or whilst entitled as aforesaid, was dismissed or injured in his employment for some reason other than that mentioned in this section. 10. (1.) No employee shall cease work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that the employer is an officer or member of an organization, or of an association that has applied for registration as an organization, or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.
Penalty : Ten pounds.
No proceeding for any contravention of this section shall be instituted without the leave of the President or the Registrar.
In any proceeding for any contravention of this section, it shall lie upon the employee, proved to have ceased work in the service of an employer whilst the employer was an officer or member of an organization or such an association or was entitled as aforesaid, to show that he ceased so to work for some reason other than that mentioned in this section.
.- This clause is designed to protect employ6s who have joined organizations which have applied for registration, but it is necessary to also protect employes who desire to join organizations which are in process of being formed, and have not applied for registration. It will be remembered that recently the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company dismissed some of its employes because they were joining an organization.
– I doubt whether we have power to deal with a case of that kind.
– I saw the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, and had a clause drafted to put into the Bill which would not have infringed the provisions of the Constitution, but the measure has been brought forward so suddenly that I have not been able to put my hand on it. I ask the Attorney-General if the Government will, in the Senate, provide for the protection to whichIrefer?
– There is no publicity until an application is actually filed. It is then that protection is required.
– If employers can prevent things from getting to that stage the clause will be inoperative.
– I do not think that we can do what the honorable member suggests.
Mr.KELLY (Wentworth) [12.57]. - I should like to know what this provision means -
No employee shall cease work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that the employer is an officer, a member of an organization or of an association that has applied for registration as an organization, or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.
– It is intended to put both parties on the same footing.
– I do not see how that can be done.
– I do not say that it can. It is theoretical.
– The whole Bill is theoretical. Will the Attorney-General assure me that is so, and that no serious inroad is intended on the liberties of the working classes by this provision, which seems acceptable to the Labour party? If an employe were proceeded against under this provision, he would have to prove that he ceased work in the service of his employer for some reason other than those mentioned’ in the provision that I have read. How could he do that ?
– The employer would have to prove his case.
– No; the onus of proof is on the employe. The clause says -
In any proceeding for any contravention of this section, it shall lie upon the employee . . . to show that he ceased so to work for some reason other than that mentioned in this section.
My honorable friends are, I think, jeopardizing the liberty of the working classes.
– I ask the honorable member not to jeopardize the Bill. There are only a few minutes in which to deal with it.
– This is no light matter. The liberty of employes to sell their labour where they will is of more importance than the pressing forward of this measure.
– I suggest that the Attorney-General should re-draft the provision in the luncheon hour.
– The provision seems to me to be dangerous.
– I have made one convert, and am convinced that if the honorable member for Darling will speak he will make many more. We do not know where the provision will lead us. The. Minister should explain the effect of the clause.
.- I suggest that the Minister should consider the matter during the luncheon adjournment. An employe is compelled to work under an award which may not provide him with what he considers a living wage, but the employer is not compelled to continue his industry if he considers that an award will make it unprofitable.
– As a matter of fact, neither party can be compelled in this matter.
– That is what the Bill seeks to do.
– The Bill merely carries out the principle of the existing legislation, but it provides for associations.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
.- At a cursory glance the amendment appeared to me to be immaterial, so far as the employer is concerned, because, if he wishes to dismiss an employe, he can find one hundred and one reasons for doing so. On the other hand, the only reason which an employe could give if he wished to leave his employment would be that he was dissatis fied because the hours were too long or the wages were not high enough, and under the amendment the moment an award was made the employe, untilthe time of his death or until the employer desired to dismiss him, would be virtually the bond-slave of the employer.
– The words “or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award ‘ ‘ appear in the original Act. In error they were left out of the clause of Senator Needham’s Bill.
– If those words are in the original Act, I shall take up no more time in discussing the matter.
.- If an employe cannot leave the service of an employer by reason of the fact that the employer is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award, that will mean that he, cannot leave on the ground that his wages have been reduced by such an agreement or award. That does not appear to me to be fair, because a man engages to work for a certain rate of wages. If his wages are subsequently reduced he should have the right to leave his employment openly for that reason. If we take the case of the employer on the other side, he might be seriously affected by an award in the drapery business, for instance. It might involve such an increase of wages that to continue the employment of all his hands would mean insolvency to him.
– The rejection of the amendment would not make the slightest difference in the law in that particular.
– If under an industrial agreement or award the wages of an employe are reduced, he should be entitled to say, “ I cannot keep my wife and family upon the reduced wages,” and he should be allowed openly to give that as a reason for leaving his employment.
– He might, if he could, show that he did not act wantonly. If under the award he would only get, for example,1s. a day, the Court would never convict him.
– Does the Attorney General say that he would not be liable?
– No; the AttorneyGeneral says that he would be liable, but that no Court would convict him.
– The words to which the honorable member for Corio is taking exception are in the original Act.
– With that assurance from the Attorney-General, I shall not continue my objection.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– Owing to the desire which has been expressed by honorable members, I shall not submit the proposed new clause dealing with the costs of proceedings other than industrial disputes. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Section forty-three of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “43. - (1.) The President may, subject to the approval of the Governor-General, make rules not inconsistent with this Act or the Regulations -
for regulating the practice and procedure of the Court; and
for prescribing the duties of the Industrial Registrar, the Deputy Industrial Registrars, and any other officers of the Court. “(2.) Subject to this Act and to the rules, the practice and procedure of the Court and the duties of the Industrial Registrar, the Deputy Industrial Registrars, and other officers of the Court shall be as directed by the President. (3.) All such rules shall -
be notified in the Gazette.
take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the rules ; and
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament. “ (4.) If either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such rules have been laid before such House disallowing any rule, such rule shall thereupon cease to have effect.”
The object of the clause is merely to allow the President to have greater control over the duties to be performed by the Registrar.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Section fifty-nine of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the words “ in the State in which the application is made.”
.- I should like to hear from the AttorneyGeneral the reason for omitting the words “ in the State in which the application is made.” I have known instances of an organization being registered in the State and subsequently in the Commonwealth also. Under the Commonwealth law there is power to register a Federal organization by the combination of similar organizations in different States. But I have known an instance in which an organization has been registered in the State, and, without joining a federated body, has merged itself into a Commonwealth organization. The organization may be brought under the terms of a WagesBoard decision given in the State, and by reason of the fact that it is also registered under the Commonwealth Act, the arrangements made under the State industrial law might be subjected to question and revision - the action of the Commonwealth authority might supersede the action of the State authority. It seems to me that this practice is likely to be confusing and unsatisfactory.
– I should like to refer to another aspect of the matter. Quite recently the operation of section 59 of the Act came under my notice in a case in which the Amalgamated Society of Engineers was concerned. This society is a world-wide organization, which, under what appears to have been a mistake, has been registered under the Commonwealth Act, because only the Australasianbranch of the organization applied for registration. The control of the body is in the hands of a Central Council in London.
– The Act says any trade union “ or branch.”
– Just so, and it was the Australasian branch of the organization that should have been registered under our Act. The council of the Australasian branch of this organization has only a very limited control. The organization has branches in South Africa and in America, as well as in Australia. Then an occasion arose when a number of members of the Engineers’ Society thought that they were not getting the privileges which they should have. Consequently they instituted an Australianorganization called the Australian Engineers’ Association, which was registered in Sydney.
– Did they continue to be members of the general organization?
– Some were members of both. They desired to belong to a body under Australian control and conforming to Australian conditions. But some workmen who desired to leave the external body in order to join the internal one, met with a difficulty, as a consequence of which the external, or universal, society was able to retain a number of its members. I am afraid that this clause will defeat the desire of Australian unionists to keep a grip over their own organization.
– The clause does not affect that point at all.
– It does; because when there is an international organization registered in Australia it may be difficult for another organization in. the same trade to secure registration.
– There is power under this measure to move for the cancellation of registration of a union if it does not comply with our law.
– The only way in which the difficulty could be avoided would be that, if the international organization was registered in Melbourne, the Australian body would have to register in Adelaide, Sydney, or some other part of Australia. I think that the clause will operate against the interests of Australian unionists who desire to control their own organization. Suppose that there is an international society of carpenters.
– I have had communication with the solicitors of that body, and they are satisfied with this amendment.
– Suppose that the International Society ofCarpenters is registered in Melbourne. Suppose, also, some Australian, carpenters desire to have control overtheir own society.
– How would this clause prevent them ?
– Because the newlyformed society could not register. The external, or universal, society, having registered, the new internal, or Australian, body would be unable to do so. I am pointing out a difficulty which I think is likely to prevail.
– I may inform the honorable member for Corio that the very society which he has mentioned is, I think, satisfied with this amendment. As the Act stands at present, when application is made to register it may be found that there is an association already registered in the place of the application to which the members might conveniently belong. That might prevent registration. It may also be that an organisation of the same trade has been registered in another State. That fact would not prevent an application being entertained. We desire to meet that point. In forty-three out of forty-five cases the registration is now ofInter- State associations, the registration of which may be in a different State from that of the application. I understand that the honorable member for Cook desires to make it obligatory, under certain circumstances, for the Registrar to refuse to register an association. What he desires can, I think, be met by the following amendment, which I now move -
That the following words be inserted after the word “ amended “ : “(a) by omitting the word ‘ may,’ and inserting in lieu thereof the words ‘ shall unless in all the circumstances he thinks it undesirable so to do and (b).’ “
– I think we are all agreed that this measure should be made as complete as possible from all stand-points. I am not opposing it with any desire to block the Bill, but I wish to make it perfect. It is difficult for honorable members on either side of the Chamber, no matter what view they may take, to see how these provisions will operate. I have stated a case within my own knowledge of some people being registered twice. I think that the clause ought to remain as it is until we can deal with the whole question comprehensively, and have time to thresh it out. Suppose that certain employers wish to cancel the registration of an employes’ body. In such cases it is always said that the employers in question desire to attack the employes through their organization. Very often such is not the case. The employers may desire the cancellation, because it is inherently bad. But it is difficult for any one to move in that direction without bringing upon himself the stigma of trying to upset the whole organization of the employes. I have no such feeling. I simply want to make the Bill as perfect as possible. One great defect of our legislation on- this subject is this. I am a strong believer in the adoption of a sound system of profitsharing or industrial partnership. I believe’ that that is the true way of securing what is really wanted in our industrial life. That that is so is recognised by the most thoughtful of both employers and employes, who wish to do a fair thing by each other. I think that we should leave the clause as it stands until next session, when we can deal with this matter in the lightof experience, and without any heat or prejudice. I should prefer to do that than to adopt the proposal of the AttorneyGeneral, and leave the onus of refusing registration to the Registrar. I am glad that the Registrar is to , be put under some control, but I think it would be advisable to leave the existing law as it stands in this respect for the present. If I happen to be in Parliament next session, I shall consider it to be my duty, and it will be my endeavour, to promote a fair and reasonable arrangement as between employers and employed.
– I hope that we shall not debate this matter any further, because I frankly admit the force of what the honorable member for Mernda has said. I certainly hope that the matter will be brought up for consideration again. But, in the meantime, this is a useful amendment to make, so far as it goes. We do not pretend that it goes the whole way. But we are very anxious not to have an unnecessary amount of time occupied in debating it.
.- I think that the amendment of the AttorneyGeneral is good as far as it goes. We are quite aware that the Bill is not complete, and that there are limitations, Constitutional and otherwise, to be overcome. I cannot see the force of the point put by the honorable member for Mernda. If a State organization chooses to take steps to come under the Federal Act it can do so. The clause is elastic enough.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act to the contrary, whenever a Commonwealth or State Court gives a decision on this Act contrary to the spirit and intention of Parliament as disclosed in the Hansard reports, such verdict shall be suspended by a vote of either House of the Parliament for the purpose of amending the Act.
I do not desire to debate this proposal, but wish to take a division upon it.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Prime Minister [2.43]. - May I interrupt the honorable member for Melbourne to point out to him that the only effect of his proposal would be that a majority of members of either House of the Parliament would be able to pronounce an opinion beforehand, the effect of which would be to set aside a decision of the High Court. In other words, it would mean that either House could act, perhaps, as a judicial body, and that a decision of the High Court could be suspended until such time as Parliament had legislated afresh. Although the honorable member cannot mean this, his amendment would have that ‘suspensory power, perhaps, on a practical matter of great importance, and operating for months or even years. I think he must see that that is impossible.
– My honorable friend, the member for Melbourne, having announced the principle of his amendment, I hope that he will not press it.
– If there had been a provision of this kind in operation some time ago, Mr. McKay would never have done what he did.
– But the case in question would not have been settled yet by this means.
.- I would point out to the honorable member for Melbourne that a House of Parliament is constituted in such a fashion that it is not capable of deciding judicial questions. A House of Parliament is a deliberate, rather than a judicial, body. We have recently had an experience in connexion with the Western Australian electoral redistribution, which must have convinced many of us that a House of Legislature is not always disposed to decide a case on its merits. Whilst the object sought to be achieved by my honorable friend may be a most worthy one, I certainly cannot accept the responsibility of saying that either House of Parliament ought to have power to suspend a decision of the Arbitration or the High Court.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 39
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
Mr. SPEAKER presented the Treasurer’s statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1909, accompanied by the report of he AuditorGeneral.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 st December, vide page 6655) :
– When the Bill was last before us, two proposed new clauses were postponed for further consideration. One is purely formal, but the other, covering the duties of banker and customer in relation to the filling up of cheques, may give rise to a good deal of debate, and, in view of the limited time at our disposal, I shall not move for its insertion. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 79A. (1.) In the absence of any agreement between the banker and the drawer of the cheque or of any direction of the drawer of the cheque to the contrary, a banker may refuse payment of a stale cheque. (2.) A stale cheque is a cheque which appears on the face of it to have been in circulation for more than twelve months.”
This provision was inserted in the Bill by another place as sub-clause 2 of clause 79. We struck it out of that clause, to which it was incongruous, and I propose now that, redrafted, and in better form, it shall be inserted as a separate clause.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
.-I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “Any promissory note the consideration for which includes interest at a higher rate than 10 per cent, per annum shall be invalid and void.”
– Does the honorable member propose to fix the maximum at 7 per cent, or 10 per cent.
– At 10 per cent. I should prefer a lower rate to be fixed, but I recognise that trouble in connexion with small loans usually arises when the interest charge is much over 10 per cent. I do not think that any great trouble occurs where the interest does not exceed that rate. This Bill confers advantages upon financial institutions, and I think that there should be some corresponding advantage to the people who are the users of those institutions. It should not be a one-sided measure, offering advantages to the money lender and leaving the borrower open to be fleeced by him, without any limitation whatever. I desire to direct the attention of the Commitee to the case of McDonald v. Davidson. as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4th August last : - Mrs. Mary McDonald, of Mitchell-street, North Sydney, moved for a rule nisi calling upon Mr. Davidson, of Wentworth Court, Sydney, described as a financier, to show cause why the Court should not order the transaction to be re-opened, and an account taken, notwithstanding any statement of a settlemerit of account, or any agreement purporting to close the original account. Applicant asked that she might be relieved of the payment of any interest beyond that found by the Court to be fairly due. The facts were that in December, 1908, this woman borrowed £50 on her furniture. She signed a bill of sale for £65, and also a promissory note for . £65 as security. The sum of £65 was made up of £50 principal and£15 interest. She arranged to pay 25s. weekly over a period of twelve months, and she made weekly payments, up to 6th April, totalling£22 10os., leaving a balance of £42 10s. In the same month she raised a further loan of £30, and agreed to repay the unpaid balance of£4210s., at the rate of 30s. per week. Davidson drew a fresh bill for£94 1s., which combined the unpaid portion of the first loan of £42 10s., the second loan of . £30, and , £21 11s. interest. There was paid off the second bill £15 10s.
Then, owing to unforeseen circumstances, the woman fell into arrears to the amount of £810s. She told her husband, and he saw Davidson, and complained of the gross overcharge of interest, and asked that the account should be credited with at least £20. Davidson refused, and said they were lucky that he had not charged more. As she could not get any rebate, her husband arranged a fresh loan of £100 elsewhere to repay the existing loan, and then asked for a release of the security. He pointed out that they had only had a portion of the original loan of£50for eight months, and £30 for four months, and asked what the money lender would take in settlement. Davidson offered a reduction of £3 18s. The security that was given was worth £350to£400. These are the bare facts of the case, but I should like to read the comment of Mr. Justice Cohen, of the New South Wales Supreme Court -
It works out at about 70 per cent., supposing the original was not paid for twelve months. Applicant is paying interest and principal weekly. Looking at it in this way, that the original transaction is still open in April, and interest still payable, if applicant borrowedmother£30, and had paid already interest amounting to £21, she is being charged 70 per cent. on that £30. She borrowed £80, of which she paid off £38, leaving a balance of £43, while the sum still due to the money-lender was £7811s.
– What would be the position if the honorable member’s amendment had been law?
– The position would be that 60 per cent. of the interest would be invalid.
– But the money lender could still have proceeded oh the bill of sale if there had been no promissory note.
– If the honorable member thinks that another new clause can be. drafted to cover such cases as he thinks are not covered by my proposal, it is open for him to submit one. It is our duty in this Parliament to protect the borrowers of small amounts from those money-lending Jews, who simply rob right and left. We are conferring advantages on money lenders, and we ought to see that they are prevented from robbing the community with impunity. I could mention quite a number of cases of the kind which have been referred to in the Courts of the various States.
– Does the honorable member think that his proposal would be a remedy ?
– I think it would remedy a number of cases, most certainly those in which promissory notes are given.
– Then money lenders would not take promissory notes.
– The honorable member can assist in framing another clause to apply to bills of exchange. It is ackowledged on all sides that we are conferring great advantages on financial institutions.
– The honorable member has not been speaking of a financial institution, but of a money lender - a financier.
-The same sort of thing is done by financial institutions.
– Financial institutions are not always large corporations, and it may be that some of the larger banks are as unfair as the smaller ; in any case, we could define “ financial institution.” A number of the money-lending establishments in the cities of Australia are corporations of some kind, though, perhaps, not so large as the banking corporations. One would think that the principle I advocate had not been recognised previously, but, even if that were so, it is time that it was. I am informed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that there is a limitation of interest in Western Australia.
– In Victoria there is a limitation to 12 per cent.
– In South Australia a judge may review the whole case, and fix the interest at what he thinks proper.
– Cases have come under my notice in Victoria in which people were paying 100 per cent.
– The memorandum attached tothe Bill indicates that there is a limitation to 10 per cent. under some circumstances in South Australia. Be that as it may, we are told that the principle is in operation in three of the States ; and, if the State Acts are ineffective, we should pass legislation to meet the circumstances. This is a consolidating measure, and surely there is justification for an amendment of the kind?
– It is the practice of many money lenders to charge a moderate interest, but a big bonus. How would the honorable member get over that difficulty ?
– All the interjections are an admission that the public are being robbed by the money lenders, and yet gentlemen like the honorable member for
Parkes, who are well able to draft effective provisions, sit still and do nothing.
– It is of no use trying an impossibility.
– Does the honorable member say that it is impossible to protect the public against these sharks - these money-lending Jews?
– It is impossible if the public are left to the tender mercy of Parliament!
– It certainly is impossible if the public interests are left with those who are hand-in-glove with the Jew money lenders, but it ought not to be impossible ifthe public interests are properly represented. We can make the advantages to the financial institutions depend upon their treatment of their clients. I have no desire to delay the passage of the Bill, knowing that the Senate is waiting for business ; but a serious measure of this kind ought not to be rushed through in the last hours of the session, when it is impossible to give it that consideration it deserves. I sincerely hope the principle I propose will be accepted, and that we shall make a start, belated though it be, in protecting the public from the rapacity of those money-lending Jews, who have for so many yearsbeen robbing the public without let or hindrance.
– While sympathizing with the object in view, I hope that the honorable member will not press the amendment. I point out that the laws of the States can touch the usurer, and, thoughI do not say we have not the power, I think it is utterly useless for us to try to do so. The proposed amendment deals only with promissory notes, and the bulk of the transactions are on bills of exchange, so that what would be unlawful in the case of a promissory note would be lawful in the case of a bill of exchange. I further point out that innocent parties might suffer, and the guiltyparties escape. If the bill were given for £50, and 11 per cent. interest added, the whole transaction would appear as one of £61, and if the. document were transferred to an innocent person-
– Does the AttorneyGeneral admit that there is an evil ?
– Then why do not the Government do something?
– We cannot. The laws of the States touch the contract, whereas we. cannot touch the contract, but only the instrument or the bill of exchange. A contract may include in one sum both interest and principal, and one of the parties may transfer a promissory note in respect of it to an innocent person who is not aware of the inclusion of the interest. As. regards him, the instrument is void, whereas the original parties are saved by the independent contract, the remedy on which is only suspended during the currency of a bill or note. I may say that the South Australian. Act has in cases produced great hardship. The interest by that Act is fixed at 10 per cent., and the result is that that rate has to be awarded. Under this Bill as it stands there is power to reduce the interest, if it is interest by way of damages.
– They have to go to the. Court.
– The instrument must be, as a matter of practice, declared void by the Court. The proposal of the honorable member does not touch the independent contract which is not expressed in the bill of exchange.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to-
That the schedule be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following schedule : -
Second Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin)’ agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended toenable the remaining stages of the Bill to be passed without delay.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
.- Arewe to understand that the clause relating tothe drawing of cheques has been eliminated, and that the new provision inserted! in its place allows the decision in the caseof Marshall v. The Colonial Bank of Australasia, which throws the liability upon the bank in connexion with the payment of a cheque that has been fraudulently drawn,, to stand?
– That is so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 4 -
After section thirty-two of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ 32A. - (1.) Every person employed as a telegraph messenger shall, on attaining the age of eighteen years, cease to be employed in thePublic Service unless he has passed the prescribed examination before attaining that age. “ (2.) Every person employed as a telegraphmessenger who has passed the prescribed examination before attaining the age of eighteenyears may be allowed to continue in the Public Service as a telegraph messenger until he attains, the age of twenty years, but he shall cease to. be employed in the Public Service on attainingthat age unless he has been previously transferred or promoted to some other office or position in the Public Service. “ (3.) An examination of telegraph messengersunder this section shall be held annually. “ (4.) Section ten of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 is repealed. “ (5.) This section shall be deemed to havecommenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and nine.”
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out the clause-
– I move -
That the Senate’s amendment be disagreed’ with, and the following words be added to theproposed new sub-section : - “ (6) Sub-sections (2) and (3) of this section’ shall apply only to telegraph messengers who attain the age of eighteen years before the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred and.’ eleven.”
The clause originally provided for the extension of the age of telegraph messengers: from eighteen to twenty years, thus giving the Commissioner a greater opportunity of giving employment to them in other positions in the service. I regret that that has been struck out by the Senate. I propose, by my amendment, to give the Commissioner an opportunity of providing for those who reach eighteen next year. The Commissioner reckons that there would be from forty to fifty of them in Victoria, and varying numbers in other States.
.- Do I understand that the Senate objects to any one remaining in the service as a telegraph messenger beyond the age of eighteen?
.- Although I resent the fact that by this Bill the Public Service Commissioner is to receive an additional £500 per annum, I understand that, if the Bill is not passed, a number of low-paid .officers will suffer. Do the Government propose to reinsert clause 4?
– Yes; but limited in its operation to the begining of 1911, in order to give the next Parliament an opportunity to deal with the question.
– If it were not for this clause I should be glad to make one to knock the Bill out of existence, but my hands are tied, and the greased and fatted pig, must, I suppose, escape.
.- One reason why I strongly favoured the clause as it left this House was that it would give the Commissioner an opportunity, if he so desired, to raise the age at which boys could enter the service as telegraph messengers. At present they can enter as young as thirteen or fourteen. I was struck, in Sydney, by the large number of little boys who were engaged in delivering telegraph messages. I do not think I am breaking any confidence when I say that the Commissioner rather favours raising the age of entry, but that his difficulty was that, as the telegraph messenger had to leave the service at the age ‘of eighteen, the raising of the age of entry would mean that it would only be possible to have boys who were in any -way trained as telegraph messengers, available for about a couple of years in each case. If the age of entry is not to be raised above fourteen, I am not very keen about raising the age of exit to twenty. At present, we have in all our cities, delivering telegrams, >a. large number of young lads, who ought to be at school. I should be glad if the ,age of entry could be raised by two years, and the age of leaving the service also by two years. In that way we should have the same number of years to work upon in the case of each lad.
.- We do not get over the difficulty by extending the term for two years.
– But we save a certain number of young men going out in the next two years.
– Quite true; but no one has ever been able to solve the real difficulty, that more lads are taken on than can be permanently employed in the service. The whole question is whether a lad of eighteen has a better chance than a young man of twenty of getting’ other employment.
– He may be appointed as a letter-carrier afterwards.
– Quite true, but there is no greater chance in that regard for the man of twenty than for the lad of eighteen. The service can only absorb a certain number, and what we are really proposing to do is to throw young men of twenty, after they have served a number of years as telegraph messengers, on to the labour market with no occupation or trade, and too old to learn any. That is the proposal of the Government, who are simply temporizing with the question for a term of two years. A bad feature of the present system is that young men- are appointed to the service to whom permanent positions cannot be given.
– The Commissioner says that he has absorbed nearly all of them, and that if he is given this extension of time he will absorb them all.
– It may be all very well for those who are now approaching the age of eighteen, but woe betide those who follow them two years hence.-
– We shall have an opportunity to arrange for them.
– I hope so. The trouble is that we are really employing more apprentices than we can find work for as journeymen, and I cannot see any way out of the difficulty.
– I would point out to the Committee that an automatic increase of age from eighteen to twenty years is not provided for, but the right is given to hold an examination, and those who bv passing it prove they are specially qualified, may have their period of employment extended. The question raised by the honorable member for Barrier is a very important one, but it can, I think, be dealt with by regulation. At the present time if, on lads attaining the age of eighteen, there are no vacancies in which to put them, they must be dismissed, no matter how competent they may be. Thus the Department loses their services, and the training which they have received is wasted.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported and report adopted.
– I wish to protest against one portion of this Bill. If ever there was an instance of greasing the fatted pig we have it here. I resent strongly the raising of the salary of an officer who twists the provisions of the law as the Commissioner does. By the courtesy of the Treasurer and the Minister of Home Affairs, I have been permitted to see the papers in regard to a matter about which I asked the Treasurer yesterday, the employment of certain female assistants in the stamp printing office, Melbourne. The State of Victoria was mean enough to pay these officers, whose services ranged from twenty to twenty-two years, a salary of £72 per annum. This highly-paid Commissioner, who was appointed for a term of seven years, during a Parliamentary recess, and whose actions should be controlled by the people outside who pay him his salary, reported on this matter as follows : -
The salaries of the three permanent female assistants were fixed at £72, the salary they received for the same work while under the State. As officers transferred from a State to the Commonwealth, they are entitled to count their full service, and under ordinary conditions, seeing that they had served more than three years and were over 21 years of age, they would have been entitled to the minimum salary. In view, however, of the nature of the work performed, the Commissioner was of opinion that at the existing salary of £72 they were at least for the present adequately remunerated, and that there was no justification for immediately advancing them to £110 merely because they were performing duties for the Commonwealth instead of the State. Action was accordingly taken under section 20 of the Public Service Act to fix by order the rate of payment to be made to these officers. It may be mentioned that full power exists under the Act to vary the provisions of section 25 as to payment of the minimum wage where the circumstances would not warrant such payment.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a measure which makes provision for the widows of ten public servants, the orphans of one public servant, and for three public servants who are incapacitated. The granting of this compensation has been recommended as to seven cases by the Defence authorities, as to three by the Postmaster-General’s Department, as to three by the Customs Department, and as to one by the Audit Office, there being fourteen in all. I can give any particulars regarding them which honorable members desire. The recommendations have been carefully examined by the Treasury, the cases all being painful ones. It may be urged that there are other similar cases for which nothing is being done, but I am assured that the Departments know of none. If there should be any, they must be looked into, but we should not deny help in these instances because there may be other cases which have not been brought under notice.
– I should like to know why the widow of Captain Colquhoun is to get £600 and the widow of William Javes only£45?
– The reports which I have on these cases are as follow : -
Captain Colquhoun died while on duty on H.M.S. Gayundah, in Sydney Harbor, on 17th August, 1908. He served with distinction in South Africa, obtaining D.S.O. During that service he contracted disease. The medical director of the Royal Navy considers that from continued exposure to malaria in South Africa this officer’s system became poisoned, and this formed the primary cause of the affection of the heart which proved fatal. Also while in England in 1907, attending torpedo-boat destroyers manoeuvres, he had a fall, the effects of which are stated to have contributed to his death. Salary at time of death, £600 per annum. Total service 20 years 3 months 9 days. Captain Collins recommends three years’ pay,£1,800. Mr. Ewing, when Minister of Defence, and Mr. Fisher, when Prime Minister, approved of £600. Defence regulations permit of compensation up to three years’ pay if death caused by disease contracted on duty.
**Dr. Cooper** certified that William Javes' death was caused by cancer aggravated by overwork and lifting weights in the execution of his duty. Salary at time of death £126 per annum. Total service 17 years 7 months 19 Says. £50 paid on account, 28th January, 1909. Not able to take advantage of three months' sick leave granted to him. If retiring would have been entitled to five months' furlough -or nine months' sick leave. No leave of any kind taken. No regulations - recommend nine months' pay, in all £95.
.- When, a year or two ago, a similar measure was introduced, also at the close of the session,
I protested against what I considered an irregular procedure. No one desires to prevent the persons for whom grants are proposed from obtaining the assistance, but there must be a number of other cases which have been overlooked. A definite system should be adopted, so that we might rest assured that we were not doing an injustice to any one. Let us take the two cases to which the Treasurer has referred. The widow of Captain Colquhoun is to receive £600, while the widow of William Javes, formerly a storeman, is to receive £45, plus £50 already paid. Javes had received no furlough, and it is proposed to pay to his widow an amount equal to that which he would have received while on leave.
– In the case of the widow of Captain Colquhoun, only onethird of the amount to which he would have been entitled under the Defence regulations is to be paid.
– What is the position in regard to William Javes?
– He was a storeman, and the regulations did not apply to him.
– Because he happened to be in a lower grade, the Defence regulations in regard to the payment of pensions did not apply to him? Surely such regulations should apply equitably to all in the Department?
– Javes died from cancer.
– And Captain Colquhoun died from natural causes.
– Take the case of the widow of Sergeant-Major Fraser. He was not receiving a large salary, and had not been very long in the service, but his widow is to receive £510.
– He had been in the service for about twelve years. I contend that under the regulations there should be no differentiation. The Treasurer should inform us whether there are other cases for which this Bill should provide. The House is notbeing treated fairly in having this Bill sprung upon it in the last hours of the session, so that honorable members are not able to deal fully with the whole question, and must either vote for all or none of the amounts proposed to be paid. It is time the whole question was looked into and the system placed on an equitable basis.
– The matter rests with the Department. They say there are no other cases.
– Under this Bill it is proposed to pay compensation on the re- tirement, or on the decease of certain officers, amounting to about £1,588 in the case of officers of the Defence Department, and to only , £842 in the case of officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Every oneknows that for every officer an the Defence Department there are a dozen in the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– But the amount in the case of the Defence Department is to be distributed amongst more persons.
– That -fact in itself is significant. Are we to assume that officers of the Defence Department can bring to bear on the Minister . more influence than can officers in other Departments? I do not wish to say anything in opposition to these cases, because I am not acquainted with all the facts, but 1 do urgethat the whole system should be placed upon a proper basis, so that we may know that we are not dealing unjustly with any deserving person.
.- Even at the risk of being considered heartless, or of incurring some odium for raising objections, I do not hesitate to say that unless we can obtain from the Government a definite pronouncement as to their future intentions in regard to this matter, we ought to vote against this Bill.
– Do not punish these unfortunate widows.
– The Bill relates to very hard cases.
– That may be, but there are a number of even harder cases for which it does not provide.
– I do not know where they are.
– The Bill creates a precedent for dealing with them.
– The worst possible precedent for dealing with public funds.
– Do not look angry ; we are trying to do a good thing.
– If any one ought to be surprised at the present Government trying to do a good thing, I think that I should be. The Government may be trying to alleviate the necessities of some people, but they are proposing to do so in the worst possible manner. No system has been laid down.
– Does the honorable member know of any case that hasbeen overlooked ?
– When a Bill of this kind was before the House two years ago, I sought to have certain cases considered, and I understoodthen that we were not likely to have such a proposal brought before us again. Had I known that the Government intended to introduce this Bill I should have sought to have included in it certain deserving cases.
– It is not too late to have them dealt with, although they cannot be covered by this Bill.
– I object to this haphazard method of dealing with so important a matter.
– We intend to try during the recess to determine the basis upon which such cases shall be dealt with.
– I shall feel disposed to support the Bill, if we have from the Government a definite assurance that they intend toprepare a scheme for dealing with necessitous cases.
– We propose to do that.
– I think that the honorable gentleman was a member of the Deakin Ministry which two years ago made the same promise, but that promise has not yet been fulfilled. We are not justified in voting away so large a sum as this without careful consideration. Apparently, in the military branch of the service there is a set of regulations which provides for the most generous treatment of officers, whereas there are no such regulations in regard to the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– I do not know about that.
– The figures speak for themselves. As the honorable member for Yarra has said, there are twelve men in the Postmaster-General’s Department for every one in the Defence Department; yet this Bill provides for a much larger sum to be granted by way of compensation to officers in the Defence Department than to officers in the Postmaster-General’s Department. No one likes to criticise a measure of this kind,and it is only a stern sense of public duty that justifies one in discussing it. We find that £600 is to be set apart for the widow of an officer, while in another case £72 is to be paid to a trustee for the benefit of two children, who, I presume, are orphans.
– Yes; they are young children. Their father and mother have both died whilst this matter has been pend ing. We were going to grant this amount to the widow, but she died, and we propose now to give it to the children.
– They were in poor circumstances?
– And the Government propose to provide for them by making this grant of £72.
– That represents the amount to which the father would have been entitled in respect of holidays that he did not take.
– There seems to be no definite system in force, and the amount of compensation granted apparently depends largely upon the generosity of the Minister of the day. In the case of the widow of an officer, who held a responsible position, and, who, I believe, was a very good man, it is proposed to pay £600.
– The amount represents compensation in respect of furlough to which he was entitled.
– Under the regulations, he would have been entitled to £1,800.
– His widow would have been entitled to that amount had his death resulted from injuries received while in the discharge of his duty. As a. matter of fact, he died from natural causes, andwe find that Captain Collins recommended a payment of£1,800. Captain Collins was in London when this officer died, and he has been there ever since.
– But he acted on a medical report, which has been read to the House.
– I do not wish to discuss the question with the honorable member, for he is associated with the Department, and may be dragged further into the matter than he desires. Apparently, under the regulations, sums equal to three years’ salary may be paid by way of compensation to the widows of military officers, whose death results from injuries received while on service. What would be the position if we had a war in Australia, and a few thousand men were killed?
– The honorable member for Corio trembles at the thought of war.
– There is still Mount Buffalo left to him.
– Quite so; I have heard of that before.
– The honorable member knows that what is said is true. If we were called upon under the re- gulations to pay the widows or children of men killed in action a sum equal to three years’ salary, we should be paying pensions, so to speak, for the rest of our days. it would be necessary for the Government to bring in another Loan Bill. It is most important that some proper system should be inaugurated. As to the £72 proposed for the two unfortunate orphans, I think some extra consideration ought to be given to their case.
– I am in favour of this measure. Of some of the cases I have a knowledge; and I should like to emphasize what has been said regarding the importance of having this matter of compensation or superannuation administered by, say, a Board of independent and capable men. Accidents have occurred by which linemen have lost their lives; and I venture to say that, in some cases, had legal proceedings been taken, their dependents would have been able to recover damages. After all, what this Bill provides is only what the Commonwealth might be compelled to do by means of action at law. In one or two cases, my advice was sought, and, of course, I suggested that efforts should be made to come to an arrangement with the Department, with the result that, while in some instances there was a grant, in others the widow was perhaps given a position in a contract postoffice, or something of that kind. I mention this to show that every case has to be dealt with on its merits; but, at the same time, some system should be initiated. If the cases be left to the officers of the Departments, the treatment is bound to be haphazard, and must result in injustice. Had the honorable member for Calare and myself not taken action in some cases, I am sure that no compensation would be given at all; but, as I say, there ought to be some principle to guide the Department, or injustice must be done, while the claims will amount to a very large sum. We have also to take into account the case of men who lose their health while following their employment; and I hope that the promise of the Treasurer will be acted on, and that’ the whole question will be taken, into consideration by the Government. I do not suggest that the compensation should not vary according to circumstances, and that, perhaps, in some instances, ‘in addition to a small grant, those interested might be given employment. This, T know, lias afforded much more satisfaction than the granting of a considerable lump sum. While the cases embraced by the Bill :are deserving, a great number equally meritorious must be left out, owing possibly to the lack of some friend to represent them properly. Some of the members of the Public Service and their families do not realize that they can secure any grant, or are too timid to make application ; and they should not be permitted to suffer an injustice.
.- Those who have objected to the large amount devoted by this Bill to payments in connexion with the Defence Forces forget that, in carrying out their duties, the members of the forces suffer exposure.
– So do the linemen.
– Of course, it all depends on the branch in which the men are employed. If the Minister is able to carry out the promise he made when we were considering the Defence Bill, the sort of measure now under consideration will not come before us again, so far as the Defence Forces are concerned. The members of the forces have already applied to have deductions made from their pay in order, with some assistance from the Government, to provide compensation and pensions on a proper actuarial basis, so that each shall benefit according to service and the amount contributed. As to the fear expressed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that in case of a war, we should be asked to vote a large amount every year, I am of opinion that in the case of those who sacrifice their lives in the defence of their country, there should be some compensation. The honorable member was good enough to say that in case of war, I would be found at Mount Buffalo; and, if that be so, he may take it for granted! that there the fight would be thickest. At the present time the pensions list in the United States represents £32,000,000 per annum, or about ros. per head ; and, at the same rate, the amount in Australia would be about £2,000,000. Under the present system, or lack of system, the man who can bring the most pressure to bear gets the most money ; and I am sure that members of Parliament would be very glad to be freed from the trouble of representing such cases in the proper quarters. I hope that early in the next Parliament a measure in this connexion will be introduced, and I hope I may be here to assist in passing it.
– I trust that in the next Parliament a Bill will be introduced to deal in a systematic manner with allowances and pensions in the Public Service. I raise no objection to the measure now before us. The Treasurer said that so far as he knew there were no other cases beyond those dealt with in the Bill ; but I have in my mind a case which I must admit was brought under the notice of the Government too late for it to be dealt with on the present occasion. There is the case of a. lineman at Wentworth, named Frazer, who took dangerously ill while at work, and never recovered.
– Was it a case of accident ?
– I do not know that it was.
– Was his death the result of his employment?
– The man, I believe, was working alone, and took a fit, his death occurring within forty-eight hours. I am now merely asking that the Treasurer will bear this case in mind when he is introducing another Bill.
– I have some acquaintance with a number of the cases now before us; and I am, therefore, desirous to see this Bill pass. There is, however, much in the contention of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie and others, that there should be some principle guiding the Government in dealing with a matter of this kind. Certainly such cases’ should not be dealt with in a piecemeal way as at present. So far as I can judge, unless the unfortunate widows and families know how to present their cases to the Department with a considerable amount of force, they have no chance of receiving any consideration. Such a state of affairs is unfair to those unfortunate people, and unfair to the Department, which is placed in an unfavourable light. The only remedy is some comprehensive system covering the whole of the Public Service. The honorable member for West Sydney has interested himself in this question ; and he and I recently made representations to the Postmaster-General, selecting that Minister because most of the cases we had in our mind were within his Department. We suggested that the Government might introduce a system of insurance under which the officers could create a fund, supplemented by the Government to provide for their widows and families.
– Does the honorable member mean death by accident?
– Yes, or front any other ca.use. The salaries of working men are very small, but their responsibilities are large, seeing that most of them have families ; and we suggested that, in their case, the principle of the English Workmen’s Compensation Act, recently passed, should be adopted. To do this would be merely to put our law on a. level with that of what is regarded as the less progressive Motherland. One of the cases immediately under consideration now, is that of Sergeant-Major R. B. Frazer, which was first brought under my notice by the Rev. H. J. Buntine, of Armidale, New South Wales, who, with the honorable member for New England, had interested himself in this case. The honorable member for New England kept the matter constantly before the Department, but, if the difficulties he met with are to be encountered in all similar cases, the fact is not creditable to the Government. There are doubtless many deserving cases which ought to be embodied in this Bill, but are not. The honorable gentleman had this case in hand about two years ago, and the Department found they had to open up communications with the Old Country. This, and the unbusinesslike methods of the Department, led to a great deal more delay, and only by the persistent efforts of the honorable member for New England has the matter reached its present stage. From what the reverend gentleman who came to me told me of the case, it is one of the most deserving, and ought to have been dealt with much earlier instead of being left to the tail end of the Parliament. There are also the cases of the linemen, which are very deserving, and the case which the honorable member for Barrier mentioned just now, and which was brought under my notice by Mr. E. H. Burgess, the Secretary of the New South Wales Telegraph Construction Association. According to what he told me, the man was out at his work, and reached town in an unconscious condition in a sulky. He never regained consciousness.
– If the honorable member will give me details, I will submit the case to the Postmaster- General.
– It has been submitted to the Postmaster-General by the honorable member for Barrier. The man’s ladder and instruments were standing against the pole, and it is not clear whether the man’s death was caused by a fall from the pole, or by some other means. A widow and family are left only partially provided for, and some compensation of this kind is very necessary. I wish also to mention the case of the widow of the late Charles Frederick Wakely, late postmaster at Edgecliffe. He was in charge or that office for ten or twelve years, and his total service to the Department amounted to about forty years.- He was in indifferent health during the latter part of his term, and was desirous of retiring. The Department wished to retain his services as an assistant inspector, and the result was that he died in harness. He was entitled to retire at the time, and if he had retired could have drawn a gratuity of between £500 and £600. By his death that gratuity became forfeited. It is reasonable to ask that it should be paid to his widow. I have asked the PostmasterGeneral to see that payment is made, but I am now met with legal difficulties. The Postmaster-General, no matter how satisfied he may be with the justice of the claim, cannot make the payment, but is compelled to await a special enactment of this nature. Unfortunately, the investigations into the case were not completed when this Bill was drafted, and therefore it is not included. I hope, however, that the Postmaster-General will see his way to include the sum to which that man was entitled when he died in some future Bill,
And thus provide compensation for the unfortunate family. The present method of -dealing with these cases is most unsatisfactory and unbusiness-like, and some scheme on the lines I have indicated to deal with* all officers, both clerical and :general, on a fair and equitable basis, should be adopted by the Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas- Attorney-Gene-
Tal) [4.22]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I shall endeavour to consider the desire of honorable members that I should be as brief as the importance, of the matter justifies, but it will be impossible to move merely formally the second reading of a Bill of this class. In 1907 we amended the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906, to give us power to administer questions, without actually beginning legal proceedings, to persons who the Comptroller-General had cause to believe, or was informed, were engaged in breaking the provisions of the Act as regards attempts to interfere with the freedom of Inter- State trade to the detriment of- the public, or to acquire a monopoly of the whole or part of the Inter- State trade of the Commonwealth. Those sections are untouched by the High Court decision in the Huddart Parker case, delivered about six months ago, but some sections of the Act have been declared to be ultra vires as attempting to control the operations of corporations and persons not only in respect of Inter- State trade, as regards which our power is unquestioned, but also as regards internal trade. It was assumed by some when the Act was passed, that out power over corporations was so extensive that we could regulate their operations not only in regard to InterState, but in regard also to purely local trade. Sections 5 and 8 of the Act, with some incidental references to them in other parts, were declared by the High Court to be ultra vires, and in order to get them out of the Act this Bill provides for their repeal.
– It is just as well to get them out of our legislation, as they have been declared to be ultra vires. In addition we provide - and this is the main purport of the Bill - for a declaration of certain rebates, refunds, discounts, concessions, or rewards as being illegal. In other words, the giving of a particular class of rebate is declared by, clause 5, which will become section 7a of the Act, to be an offence punishable with a penalty of .£500. Those rebates are not in themselves declared to be offences, but the giving of rebates for a particular purpose, which, summed up, amounts to boycotting or attempting to acquire a monopoly, is declared to be an offence. By that new section we declare to be illegal all rebates given to a person for the reason, or upon the condition expressed or implied, that he deals or has dealt or will ideal or intends to deal exclusively with any person, or deals or has dealt or will deal or intends to deal exclusively with members of a commercial trust, or does not deal, or has not dealt, or does not intend to deal, with certain persons, or is, or becomes a member of a commercial trust. The Royal Commission which sat on the question of navigation three or four years ago, recommended this legislation, and a promise was made by the previous Deakin Government that it would be introduced. That promise is now being fulfilled by the introduction of this measure. New section 7.1: deals with persons who, in relation to trade and commerce between the States or with foreign countries, refuse to deal with other persons by supplying goods or services - which would include freights between the States - for reasons which are set out. Practically, they amount to this : that a refusal to deal with people because they do not belong to, say, a particular combine shall be an offence. I hope the House will enable us to pass that provision. Clause 6 and other clauses are merely amendments, of the Act consequential upon the objects which I have already stated, purging the Act of sections which have been declared to be ultra vires. The recommendation of a Commonwealth Royal Commission, and practically the affirmance of this policy by an English Commission, which, although it decided against immediate interference with rebates in England, declared them to be wrong and deserving of control, justifies, I think, the passing of this measure. In addition, I want honorable members to agree to amendments of the Act, to make it more efficacious for its objects. There is a provision - I think section 10 - in the Act, that an injunction may be applied for to restrain the committal or repetition of offences against that Act. There is po penalty attached to disobedience of that injunction, except the usual power of the Court to impose imprisonment, which is sometimes in the case of corporations difficult to apply, because often the wrong man is collared for the offence. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will agree to an amendment of the Act to enable disobedience of an injunction - which can only be obtained after a full inquiry into the merits, as the section does noi authorize the issue of preliminary or interlocutory injunctions - to be visited with, not merely imprisonment, but a sufficient fine to deter large corporations from repeating the offence. I shall, therefore, ask for a penalty of .£500 per day for continuing an offence after the High Court has declared it to be such, and an injunction has been issued. Amendments are also required in sections 13 and 14 of the Act. The language as regards the proceedings that ought to be instituted for offences is somewhat confusing. Sometimes they are referred to as offences, sometimes as indictable offences, and sometimes the word “criminal” is used. There is a slight doubt as to what class of proceedings should be taken in some cases - whether there. should be an action for damages, a civil proceeding before a Judge, or an indictment before a jury. The Law Department ought to know its position exactly by clear language before ,it commences prosecutions under the Act. I, therefore, propose to strike out section 13 as it stands, and more clearly to define the tribunal to which in each case an appeal is to go, while a consequential amendment will be made in section 14. I hope the Bill will recommend itself to honorable members. It has already passed the Senate, after a very ample discussion, and I appeal to honorable members, reiving upon their usual sense of what our policy in this regard should be, and devotion tobusiness, to place it upon the statute-book.
– I understand that this Bill was introduced to strengthen the Act already in force, by giving the Government powers which they had not previously. Whilst I am prepared to support it because it gives the existing, provisions added strength, I cannot help thinking of the speech delivered by the honorable member for South Sydney when the first Bill dealing with the subject wasintroduced. He said that, whilst he was prepared to support a measure dealing with trusts and monopolies, he was of the opinion, that, no matter how many Bills were passed with that object, the trusts and monopolies, would ride rough-shod over them. He stated that sixty or seventy State Acts in America had been passed, but that thosewho control trusts and monopolies have successfully evaded them, and he went on topoint out that the only way out of the difficulty was to nationalize the undertakings. As the Government say that they wish to> strengthen their position, I shall support the Bill, although, in my opinion, the difficulty will not end until all trusts and monopolies are under Government control. I’ fear that this Bill will be as harmless as the laws already on the statute-book, and, indeed, I cannot imagine that the Fusion* party would introduce a measure making a serious attempt to interfere with a mono- poly or a trust. I cannot imagine that the honorable members for Kooyong, Parkes, or Mernda would support an Administration which did such a thing. But, although the measure is likely to prove as inefficacious as its predecessors, the passing of it will strengthen our position, because we can tell the electors that, although from time to time we have given the Government whatever powers they have asked for to deal with trusts and monopolies, the latter have successfully, defied our attempts to control their proceedings.
.- I realize that at this period of the session there is not much that we can do to the Bill to make it more effective. I rise chiefly to direct the attention of the Attorney- General to a New South Wales combine which is affecting our meat export trade. I think it is called the Union Meat Company. One half per cent. of the price of every beast sold in Sydney goes to this monopoly. The Minister of External Affairs knows all about the case, because it was brought under his notice when he was AttorneyGeneral, and I also, when Minister of Trade and Customs, called the attention of his predecessor to it. Some of those who are operating in the other States are afraid that its operations may extend throughout Australia, and will, of course, increase the juice of meat. We should do all we can to control such combinations, but I fear that the Bill will not cause those connected with the Shipping Ring or the Coal Vend to lose half-an-hour’s sleep to-night. At present legislation has been found useless, and part of it has been held by the Court to be invalid.
– The validity of the principal Act has not been tested.
– The Australian Industries Preservation Act was declared to be ultra vires.
– Only where it affected Intra State operations. Its Inter- State scope has not yet come into play. We are continuing to submit questions under it, and the last of the answers must be sent in by the 17th of this month.
– I understand that the members of the Shipping Combine can snap their fingers at the Act. A Commission, of which the honorable member for Barrier was Chairman, showed that about 95 per cent. of the shipping trade of Australia is done by the combine. I should like to know from the Attorney-General whether anything in the Act, or in this Bill, could make it more difficult for the combine to levy its contributions on our producers and consumers. By its system of rebates, shippers are practically compelled to deal with the combine exclusively for yearly periods’. I am afraid that our legislation, like the Sherman Act on which, it is founded, will prove useless.
– The last American decision is said to be the most memorable yet delivered in the States, and seems to pretty well effect what we are aiming at.
– The Standard Oil Company has not paid one penny of the- $5,000,000 fine imposed on it by the American Court, and has been able to ignore judgment after judgment. I hopethat our legislation will be more useful thanthe American legislation.
– Any organization which to my honorable friendsopposite has the complexion of a combinearouses all the opposition of which they arecapable. No one is more desirous than I am to enable the Government to deal effectively with combinations against the public interest. The measure before us, however, is likely to have a disastrous effect on our trade, and it is regrettable that it is beingforced through during the last hours of thesession. There should be a full House toproperly consider its details.
– It has been before Parliament for four years.
– In another place.
– It has been before thisHouse for some time.
– The amendment to be proposed in Committee by the AttorneyGeneral, no doubt modifies some of the most drastic effects of the measure. It is not tobe thought that all combinations are against the public interest. Many of them have proved beneficial to the public. While I may make one or two observations in Committee, I think that I have done my duty at this stage in pointing out the need for seriously considering the whole situation. No doubt, had it not been for the amendment to which I have referred, many honorable members would have felt it incumbent upon them to do what they could to prevent the measure from becoming law.
.- I do not think that Bills of this character areever effective. Every law that the ingenuity of man can make, the ingenuity of trusts and combines can break.
– And sometimes their power enables them to smash the laws.
– That is so. A number of trusts and combines are operating in Australia in restraint of trade, and to the detriment of the public, but the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States seem unwilling or unable to interfere with them. These organizations can be properly controlled only by the State monopolization of the industries’ which they govern. However, anything that, will strengthen the present law and give the Government a better opportunity to test the power of the Commonwealth to regulate trusts, combines, and corporations, will receive my support. The Attorney-General tells us that if we grant this amendment of the law, he will be in a position to protect the public interest. If, despite this measure, combines still operate in restraint of trade and against the public interest, we shall then have, on the showing of the Government themselves, an admission that they are unable to deal effectively with them. This will be a step in the direction of indicating to the public the only means by which great financial corporations can be successfully dealt with. The Attorney-General has been making inquiries with regard to the operations of the Coal Vend. I hope that his investigations will be vigorously followed up, and that if he finds that the vend is operating in restraint of trade, and charging a higher price for its coal than is justified, he will take every step that the law will permit to vindicate the rights of the public. It has been said that there is an understanding between the Coal Vend and the Mine Employes Federation to increase the price of coal, and divide the proceeds by the miners receiving a higher wage and the owners receiving enhanced profits, and that, in such circumstances, the workers generally are not inclined to consider the public interest. It has been urged, indeed, that it might be to the interests of the workers as well as of the owners to. so inflate the price of public utilities as to infringe the rights of the public. I do not know that that contention is urged in respect of the Coal Vend ; but. I would as readily denounce- a combination of employers and employes against the public interest as I would a combination of employers or of particular employes1 against the interests of the public generally. A tacit agreement on the part of the employes that1 the public should be ex: ploited so that they might receive a little extra wages could not be justified. We should have on the statute-book laws which will provide for the employes in every industry receiving equitable remuneration for their labour. If. the employers in an industry cannot afford to carry on and pay a sufficient wage, they should close down their works. There is no justification for the existence of an industry that cannot pay an equitable wage.
– And give an equitable return to the employer?
– That would follow.
– An industry should also provide for. the brains and implements used therein.
– I think not.
– The first charge upon an industry must be equitable conditions for those employed in it. If employers cannot obtain a profit from an industry, they are not likely to carry it on. If they can only obtain a profit by sweating their employes, they should close up. We should have on the statute-book laws providing that employes shall obtain an equitable return for their labour. Such laws having been passed, there would be no justification for a combination of employers and employes in any industry to exploit the public. If it were possible that the coal miners and the Coal Vend might conspire to raise unduly the price of coal, there ought to be some means under the law of protecting the public from any such combination. It has been said that the Coal Vend, by arranging to limit competition and to fix the price of coal, has enabled the miners to secure a certain stipulated rate of wages* Had there been in operation a Commonwealth law to provide- for an equitable return to the labourer, it would have provided a good basis for the operation of the industry. I do not suggest that competition between colliery proprietors would not be in the public good. No competition is to the detriment of the public, provided, equitable payment of wages is the basis upon which the industry is operated, and, consequently, we ought to put down with a strong hand trusts and combines that prejudicially control the price of public utilities in Australia. If we, have reached the position where we, as a community, are unable to control these vends and combines, then the community itself must become the operator, as the only means of safeguard- ing the public good in respect of the production of commodities and utilities that are necessary for the conduct of the affairs of the nation.
– We must either control them, or they will control us.
– Exactly. I admit that we ought to do all we can to strengthen the law, so that the Government, and those who share their views, may have a chance of fighting out the question on the battleground of their own choice. We believe that in the end it will be found that this is a move in the right direction, because it will expose the weakness of their position. It will show that when there comes into existence a combine or a monopoly which stifles competition, a stage has been reached when the community ought to take control of the industry to which that monopoly relates, and work it for the benefit of the people. Whilst agreeing with those who urge that there does not appear to be much of a contentious character in this measure, I shall support the amendment proposed by the Attorney-General, and I hope that we shall have next year some evidence of the efficacy or otherwise of the amended law. We shall then know from the stand-point of the Government themselves whether their Actsfor the regulation of trusts and combines are justifiable, or whether they themselves will have to admit that the only means of dealing effectively with combinations in restraint of trade is to adopt a plank of the platform of the Labour party which provides for the nationalization of monopolies.
– I regret very much that a Bill of this importance should have been brought before us at this late period of the session. The question is one that ought to be well threshed out, especially having regard to the views just enunciated by the honorable member for Cook, and which are held by a good many honorable members of the Op- position. I have never been able to quite understand the attitude of those who think that combines of working men - trade unions - are perfectly legitimate and allowable, although they are distinctly in restraint of trade, and yet ignore the equal claims of those who use their brains invest their money, and spend their time in carrying on various industries. The Socialists say, of course, that there should be no payment for brains, no return from the use of capital, and, indeed, that capital ought not to be allowed to accumulate.
– That is a ridiculous statement.
– It is the logical outcome of the argument advanced by the honorable member. The original Act was aimed really at one great combination known as the Shipping and Coal Ring. I know of no other organization which could reasonably be described as a combine.
– The tobacco monopoly.
– That is not a combine, although it is certainly a huge concern. Unless we are to suppress all joint stock companies, I do not know how we are to prevent some business undertakings becoming very large enterprises. The tobacco companies may enjoy a practical monopoly. I do not know whether they do or do not. But it is not a sensible position to take up that joint stock enterprises, in a small way, are allowable, but that as soon as they become extensive they should be disallowed. The object of the original Act was to get at the so-called combine - and I do not pretend to say whether it is or is not a combine - that I have mentioned. The evil of legislation designed to meet individual cases is that it often fails to deal effectively with the object at which it is aimed, but hits many others at which it is not, and should not, be aimed. This Bill is designed to strengthen the principal Act, with a view to enabling the Government to deal with a so-called combine, but I honestly tell the House that I do not think it will be any more effective. It will introduce many other complications into avenues of trade where there is no need for them, and where its effect, if it has any at all, is more likely to be bad than otherwise. I do not quarrel with honorable members opposite who strongly uphold the right of labour to combine, because it is quite right that men, who have their work to sell, should be able to get the best terms. But while they regard that as legitimate combination, I may point out that however legitimate it may be, it is distinctly in restraint of trade. Because the coal owners will not come to terms, the miners declare that they will not work ; andthat, of course, is restraint of trade. I shall not argue whether that position is right or wrong, but we will suppose it to be quite right. That being so, I ask my honorable friends opposite on what principle they can refuse to allow a reasonable arrangement to be made so as to enable good wages to be paid ; because, ultimately, as we know, it is the public who pay.
– There is no objection to a reasonable arrangement.
– My friends opposite contend that there should be a combination to secure labour, and with that I quite agree; but, on the other hand, they say that, in order to protect the general public, who are generally the producers and the customers, they must prevent an employer, or a number of employers, who desire to pay good wages, from making such an arrangement as will secure a fair and reasonable return. To that end, restrictive legislation is adopted, and a reasonable arrangement is made penal. There is a fallacy in all this. It is agreed that the competition in business and production is just as keen as it was formerly between labourers competing with each other for billets. Between one firm and another, or one producer and’ another, there is very often ill-regulated and cut-throat competition, which kills the legitimate return from industries, and prevents development, to the detriment not only of those employed, but of those who have invested their money. This legislation is all calculated to prevent that reasonable arrangement which there must be to prevent this illegitimate competition.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member speaks on every subject. He is a perfect authority on all matters ; but I. venture to say that the two speeches he has made today show absolutely blank ignorance of the subjects with which he was dealing. The honorable member desires to keep down the rate of interest, and he tries to do that by means of a Bills of Exchange Bill, which has nothing whatever to do with interest.
– I am here to express my opinions irrespective of the honorable member’s insults !
– The honorable member is quite right in expressing his own opinion.
– The honorable member need not be insulting!
– I was accused of being insulting last night when I was not so, and I hope that I am not insulting now. I merely say that the honorable member in his remarks showed an absolute want of knowledge on the subject he was dealing : with.
– Did not the honorable member himself make idiotic statements on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to-day ?
– I shall not’ bandy words with the honorable member, who is talking nonsense.
– Do not sneer at other people !
– I am criticising what the honorable member said, as I think I am entitled to. I hope I am not making too much of the honorable member; and if he objects to my criticism, I had better leave him severely alone. The manner of dealing with these subjects altogether ignores certain principles, which are perfectly clear to those who understand them. It is quite true that our primary duty is to provide for the proper remuneration of those who are employed in our industries. It is equally right that those who invest their capital, brains, and time in organizing and carrying on those industries - and without the brains and capital the industries could not exist - should have reasonable protection so as to be enabled to make a fair return, and to meet illegitimate competition by legitimate means. In no other way is it possible to place business on a proper basis. On the one hand, it is sought to make a form of combination, or arrangement, penal, and, on the other hand, to demand that the greatest combination of all - the labour combination - should be unchecked; and the two positions are quite inconsistent. I do not propose to object to this Bill, though I think it will probably not make much difference to the position. I should have liked to see this matter threshed out at a time when we could discuss it reasonably and fairly. If honorable members on both sides had an opportunity to submit their views, it might be found that, after all, there was not very much between us. The fact is, as happens very often, it is not that which is required to be done that is in question, but it is the method or means of doing it ; and [ regret, therefore, that this question was lot brought up at an earlier period of the session. The Bill has been about four months in another place; and if it had only come to us early enough to enable us t o devote a night or two to its discussion, i t is quite possible that honorable members opposite, as well as honorable members on his side, might, by comparing views, be able to arrive at a fair and reasonable s ettlement. However, I do not desire to say more. I believe that an amendment is to be made which will, to some extent, render the law more workable.’ While the Bill carries out, as far as possible with such legislation, the views of the Government, I trust that it will not prove to be unduly harsh or unfavorable to the development of our industries.
– It is of very little use complaining that this measure was not submitted to us earlier ; but the responsibility for the delay will be placed on the right shoulders by the electors. Had this and other Bills been brought, forward earlier, honorable members on this side would have been found prepared to give fair consideration to them, with a view of making them as perfect as possible. However, the Government adopted other methods of conducting tl-e business, and they alone are responsible. We are now asked to deal with these largely non-contentious, but very important, measures under the stress of the closing hours of the session, when fair and legitimate criticism is almost impossible. The honorable member for Mernda suggests that if we were able to discuss this question., it would be found that the dividing line is, after all, not so very marked. If the honorable member is actuated by a desire to make ‘public interests rather than private interests the primary consideration, he will find on this side a general con,sensus of opinion favorable to him; and possibly the real line of division may be found to be on the question of method. The honorable member for Mernda took the honorable member for Cook to task, and intimated that the latter’ s proposal would mean no compensation or recognition ‘ for brains and intelligence.
– There is no provision to that end, anyhow !
– I think that, if the honorable member got in touch with the honorable member for Cook, he would find that the object of the latter was quite the contrary - that he was trying to widen the scope and increase the opportunities for brains and intelligence. Under present conditions, brains and intelligence have not the first consideration ; and if they will not consent to be bound to the conditions that wealth desires to impose, they are simply ignored or limited in their operation. After all, the history of the world shows that those who have done most for their fellow man, have possessed very little wealth, and, in their humanitarian efforts, have been placed at great disadvantage owing to the opposition of those who possess great stores of the world’s goods. Vast accumulations of capital, under the control of the few, who do not regard the needs and conditions of the many, are one of the great problems facing modern civilization. It is a problem which must be solved on pain of death or annihilation. In . New South Wales at the present time, we have, on the one hand, some thirty-six mine-owners in a combination or vend, who control, not merely the mines, but also, by reason of their combination, shipping and other interests, and, on the other hand, there are some 12,000 working people, who depend on labour in the coal mines for their living; and the fact is being brought home to the Commonwealth that the disagreement affects, not only the mine-owners and the miner, but every interest in the Commonwealth. Practically every individual in the Commonwealth is more or less affected. In the early stages of the present unfortunate industrial disturbance, of which the evil effects will become intensified if it continues for any length of time, the House is justified in the interests of the general community in passing any legislation which will curb the operations of combinations of that character. In America and Great Britain the whole tendency is for trading operations to be brought under the control of great trusts, and their management concentrated in the hands of a few, who, unfortunately, so far from representing the best, often represent the worst traits of humanity, being prepared to sacrifice the interests’ of myriads of their fellow beings to their insatiable desire to accumulate wealth. Only to-day we learn by cable that a bread trust has been formed in America with a capital df over £3,000,000, the immediate result of which has been the penalizing of the people to the extent of a half -penny per loaf. That trust is working in combination with the meat and milk trusts, the latter of which has caused an increase of 1 per cent, per quart in the price of the milk consumed by the people. Whilst the operations of these large combinations penalize the community generally, they affect the poor much more directly and vitally than they do the wealthy. An increase of a half-penny per loaf may not greatly concern the well-to-do, but there are millions of working people living on the verge of starvation, to whom it means a considerable reduction in the necessaries of life. Under those conditions it is impossible to produce that type of man and woman which should represent the achievements of our twentieth century. We must, therefore, take serious notice of the operations of great trusts, for we must either control them or be controlled by them, as the honorable member for Cook aptly put it. Pierpont Morgan controls three hundred and fifty millions of wealth. What an immense power that means, concentrated in the hands of one man ! We also read recently of the enormous control exercised by the late Charles Harriman over the railways of America, andto-day we learn that 100,000 railway employes in that country are on the verge of a strike for the purpose of increasing the small pittance which they earn. The effects of trusts and combines upon modern civilization are not limited to America or Great Britain, or Australia, but constitute one of the serious problems we have to face and solve, if we are to maintain the rate of progress achieved in years gone by. Their operations are controlled, not by men animated by the highest and noblest humanitarian sentiments, but by the lions and tigers amongst mankind, and. we cannot allow their existence to continue without applying some restrictive measures. They fear neither God nor man in the methods which they adopt to accomplish their purposes.
– Are there any here to whom that description will apply?
– I have said that they represent a development of our modern civilization, and, as such, affect the vital interests of the Commonwealth.
– I suppose the honorable member has been reading Frenzied Finance.
– I am not quoting from thatbook. The conditions that made frenzied finance possible in America might operate here, but fortunately some of our earlier reformers were not frightened by the bugbear of Socialism, with the result that our railways, tramways, postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services, instead of passing into the hands of comparatively few, are under the control of the people. That is one reason why the operations of trusts do not affect us to the extent to which the people in America, and, to a less degree, in Great Britain, are affected. One of the methods of these large combinations is to defy the law if it pays them to do so. They are prepared to expend money in law-breaking if by that means they can make more money, as is amply proved by the experience of America in the prosecution of trusts. It is proved to a less extent by the necessity for the introduction of this Bill, in view of the efforts made to circumvent the operations of our anti-trust legislation. There is not much in the Bill itself, and I fear that before these combinations and their nefarious methods can be coped with, much more drastic legislation than exists, or is proposed, will be necessary. In large matters of industry that affect the community as a whole, the only solution of the trouble is State control. Where any industry becomes a monopoly, and affects the great masses of the people, as the coal industry now does, what is needed to cope with injurious trusts or combinations is not so much restrictive legislation as Governmental control for the benefit, not of a few, but of the community generally.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee ;
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
After section seven of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “ 7A. - (1.) Any person who, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, either as principal’ or agent, in respect of dealings in any goods or services gives offers or promises to any other person any rebate, refund, discount, concession or reward, for the reason, or upon the condition express or implied, that the latter person -
deals, or has dealt, or will deal, or intends to deal, exclusively with any person, either in relation to any particular goods or services or generally ; or
deals, or has dealt, or will deal, or intends to deal, exclusively with members of a Commercial Trust, either in relation to any particular goods or services or generally ; or
does not deal, or has not dealt, or will not deal, or does not intend to deal, with certain persons, either in relation to any particular goods or services or generally ; or
is or becomes a member of a Com mercial Trust, is guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds. (2.) Every contract made or entered into in contravention of this section shall be absolutely illegal and void.” “7b. - Any person who, in relation to trade and commerce with other countries or among the States, either as principal or agent, refuses or fails to sell or supply to any other person, at the ordinary ruling prices, any goods or services for the reason that the latter person -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds.”
– I move -
That after the word “ who,” line 3, the words “to the detriment of the public” be inserted.
The clause provides that if any person allows a rebate or commission, he shall be liable to a serious penalty. A manufacturer might wish to push a new brand of tobacco, oatmeal, soap, condensed milk, &c, in the Inter-State markets. He would appoint an agent, saying, “ I will allow you an extra commission for yourself if you push the article,” and the agent would reply, “ That is all very well, but as soon as I get it established, you will start branches of your own, and take the business away from me. I want the sole distribution in the State of New South Wales,” for instance. It is very reasonable that he should say so. He may spend some years and a great deal of capital in pushing a particular brand.
– What about other individual rights?
– They will not be affected. There may be many brands of tobacco, oatmeal, soap, and other such articles on the market ; but to obtain a sale for a new brand where there are many established brands a manufacturer has to enlist pushing agents, and give extra commission. If this is prohibited, the existing monopolists are given an advantage. What Parliament desires is to protect the general body of the people. If a combination is not to the detriment of the public, it should not be interfered with.
– It might be to the detriment of individual rights.
– Apparently, the honorable member desires to assist monopolists by preventing fresh competitors from entering their markets.
– The honorable member’s amendment would not have the effect of breaking up monopolies.
– The Bill, as 1 propose to amend it, would have that effect. Another weak feature of the provisionas it stands is that it renders small shopkeepers liable to a fine of £500 merely for offering a discount of so much in the£1 to attract customers, a thing which is frequently done, especially 3t Christmas time. If my amendment is not carried, a notice should be posted in every street, informing tradespeople of the risk they are running. We do not wish to manufacture criminals. It has been suggested to me that the person proceeded against should be called upon to prove that what he was doing was not to the detriment of the public, and I see no objection to that. The Crown might find a difficulty in. proving the contrary.
– I cannot accept the amendment, because I know well the difficulty that has been caused by the use, in sections 4 and 7 of the Act, of words similar to those which the honorable member wishes to insert. Such words are not to be found in the American legislation.
– And yet they cannot catch the combines there.
– They catch a good many, but a good many others go free. There have been successful, as well as unsuccessful, prosecutions in connexion with the beef trade, for instance. It is easier to secure convictions under the American law than it is here. We are hampered at almost every step. But I do not wish, the clause to be wider than it should be. There may be doubts as to whether innocent contracts would not fall within it - contracts for the sale, for example, to a certain man of the vintage of a particular season - which are very common in Australia. I do not think that there is a doubt, but I am willing, if the honorable member will withdraw his amendment, to move another, which, I think, will set the matter at rest. In connexion with the McGregor cast in 1902, when the boycotting of certain vessels in the Eastern trade was under consideration, the Judges throughout, from Lord Coleridge on to the Justices of the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, spoke of the necessarily selfish character of trade; Lord Bramwell declaring that he was bv no means sure that the arrangement did not prevent a waste, and was not good for the public. How could the Attorney-General prove that a combination was to the detriment of the public when the facts which would establish that conclusion were known only to it? In my opinion, offenders should be called upon to show that their action was not to the detriment of the public. The Shipping Commission’s report, issued about six months’ ago, referred to the leniency with which the common law looks upon these combinations. I do not blame the Judges. They have to administer the law as they find it; it is for us to legislate in accordance with the principles of modern times. One of the main tendencies of our days is the great growth of combinations and trusts, with their consequent effect on wages and prices. In the report to which I have referred, this statement occurs -
First, our Courts are to a great’ extent bound by decisions pronounced in times when the commercial and economic systems of this and other countries were essentially different from those which now exist. Secondly, our Courts are not at liberty to invent or give effect to any new ground of public policy. Thirdly, our Courts would not be at liberty to admit any evidence> as to the effect which the rebate system produces or is calculated to produce on our shipping interests or on our vast and complicated International trade, whereas the very object and purpose of our Commission is to collect and consider all the evidence that can be procured on this important question.
That was from the majority report of the Commission, which did not even recommend legislation such as we are now considering.
– It was really in favour of combines. That is not my position.
– The majority report does not recommend, at this stage, at all events, legislation such as we are now considering. The honorable member spoke to me in private about this matter, and I acknowledged that there is force in what he said about the too great scope of the clause. Therefore, to meet his objections, if he will consent to withdraw his amendment, I will move the addition of a provision, making it a defence that the matter or thing alleged to have been done was not to the detriment of the public, and did not constitute competition which was unfair in the circumstances.
. I recognise the difficulty of the AttorneyGeneral, because I know how hard it is to prove a negative. My amendment would throw the onus of proof on the Crown, whereas he suggests that the Crown should be regarded as having a prima facie case, the onus being on the person prosecuted to show that the action complained of was not to the detriment of the public. I regard this legislation as rather drastic, but as I cannot force my views on the House, and the proposal of the Attorney-General will allow an innocent man to prove his innocence, I am willing to withdraw my amendment in favour of his. If the clause is passed as it stands, many innocent men will be punished without having an opportunity to prove their innocence.
.- The Attorney-General will be . well advised if he sticks to his Bill. How to deal with unlawful combinations is a subject which has taxed the best brains in the world, especially in the United States. The public feeling in favour of combinations is sometimes so strong that they get far more than reasonable protection. The Attorney-General has shown that the training of the Judges makes them favorable to combinations. While there is a- difference between the proposal of the honorable member for Balaclava and that of the Attorney-General, I think that the latter will weaken the Bill, whose merit, if it has any, is the drastic character of its provisions. Strongly as this measure appears to have been drafted, it will not effect the purpose which the Attorney-General seeks to achieve. One loophole is enough to protect the interests of any monopoly, trust, or combine. There are times when a trust or a combine has such far-reaching interests, and affects so many people, that it would be practically impossible to cope with the interested evidence which it could bring forward, and the tendency of a Court or of a jury would be to be lenient towards such trusts. I shall not discuss the question of how we ought to deal with monopolies, but I do believe that this is not an effective way, and I shall vote against the amendment. This Bill was introduced with the idea of remedying some defects in the principal Act. It is now proposed to convert it into a highly contentious measure, and to defeat really the purpose which I think the Government originally had in view. The amendment is also contrary to the arrangement that I made with the Government in regard to the business to be dealt with.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the following new sub-section be added to proposed new section 7A : - “ (3.) It shall be a defence to a prosecution under this section, and an answer to an allegation that a contract was made or entered into in contravention of this section, if the party alleged to have contravened this section proves that the matter or thing alleged to have been done in contravention of this section was not to the detriment of the public, and did not constitute competition which was unfair in the circumstances.”
.- An amendment of the character proposed by the Attorney-General is very necessary! The object of the Bill is to suppress combines and their injurious operations against the public interest; but, obviously, under the clause as it stands its operation would bc extended to those persons having merely legitimate business relations with each other. 1 am in accord with the view expressed by the honorable member for Balaclava, that there should be some means provided whereby individuals proceeded against under this clause will have an opportunity to prove that they are innocent of a desire to do business that would be in any way inimical to the interests of the community- I approve of the amendment proposed by the Attorney-General, and hope that the Committee will indorse- it.
.- I regret that the Attorney-General has gone back on his Bill. The Bill was drafted to meet difficulties that had arisen in prosecutions under the original Act. It was the result of careful consideration on the part not only of the Attorney-General, but of the officers of his Department, and all whom he had a right to consult. The honorable gentleman now proposes to accept a suggestion made by an honorable member, and to insert an amendment that will materially weaken the effect of this clause. He is prepared, without that due consideration which he gave to the drafting of the original Bill, to submit such a proposition to the Committee.
– Does the honorable gentleman wish to see an innocent man fined ?
– No; but I can see in the amendment now before us a loophole that will permit persons who may be prosecuted under this provision to escape. All that they will have to do is to prove that the contract objected to is not to the detriment of the public, or that they are not engaging in unfair competition. A person charged under the. clause, as amended, would be able to bring, perhaps, two or three witnesses to establish that contention, and the Crown will find it difficult to bring a rebutting case. The prosecution would bave no knowledge of the defence that was going to be raised, or of the number of witnesses to be called. It would have, consequently, to be prepared in every action with an overwhelmingly strong case to meet any defence that might be raised. The amendment will make a prosecution under this clause practically impossible.
– One of the principal objects of the amending Bill was probably to deal with the rebates given by the shipping ring. I amin accord with the desire of the Attorney-General that they shall be dealt with, for they have often an injurious effect upon the development of trade and industry in Australia and have certainly done injury to the commerce of Great Britain. Under this rebate system, goods may be shipped from the United States or the Continent to England, transhipped there, and then sent on to Australia at lower freights than are charged in respect of goods shipped direct from London. And so on our own coasts development can be retarded by the system. If, for instance, a firm, being anxious to establish an industry, use their own vessels, and, to cheapen the cost of production, wish to secure back freights, however small, they find that the rebate system makes such a thing impossible. Shippers will not risk the loss of rebate by shipping with vessels outside the ring; and, consequently, the profits of the industry are reduced, and in the end the industry itself disappears. As the result of the Shipping Ring tactics, heavy taxation is imposed on consumers in Australia. A rebate of 10 per cent, is given to shippers who can fulfil the conditions imposed as to shipping only by the vessels of the ring. That rebate does not go to the consignee. He pays the bill of lading rate, and the rebate goes into the pockets of the shipper who has done nothing to earn it, save to act in combination with the Shipping Ring. In the aggregate, the rebate amounts- to a very large sum per annum, and it is a tax on industry in Australia. As a member of the Navigation Commission, I approved of an endeavour being’ made by legislation to stop this rebate system; but the Bill now before us will go very much further. The AttorneyGeneral has admitted that, in the absence of such an amendment as that which is now proposed, it would make perfectly legitimate business an offence.
– The Court would not be moved in such cases.
– It is our duty to see that we do not make a legitimate transaction an offence at law. We could not trust a Government with so drastic a power - -a power which they might apply to perfectly honest traders doing legitimate business. We have seen too much of the misapplication of power on the part of Governments when it has suited their purpose to misapply the law. Let us take the case of an ordinary business arrangement. Take the case of a firm having certain goods in respect of which they have no monopoly save in so far as their own brand is concerned. They wish to build up a trade in a State in those goods, and they invite a suitable person to create that trade. They offer him a discount or, in other words, a rebate on the selling price, and he says at once. “Oh, yes; this is all very well; but if means years of hard work. The trade which you seek does not at present exist. I shall have to establish it, and I must make sure that, having established it, I shall be allowed to retain it. I want an undertaking that you will confine the trade in your goods to me.” The rejoinder of the firm is, “ Yes, we will do what you ask, but we require from you a similar undertaking that, having established a business with our aid and credit, you will not abandon our goods and try to continue that business with the goods of another firm. We wish to obtain from you a guarantee that vou will confine your business in these particular goods to us.” Is there anything illegitimate in such an arrangement? I do not think that any man will say that there is; yet it would come within the provisions of the clause as it stands. I was in doubt at the outset as to whether or not the amendment proposed by the Attorney-General would meet such a case; but I think now that it would. I think that, while the proposed sub-clause does not prevent punishment for evasions of the law, it allows an outlet for those who are conducting perfectly legitimate business.
– It is meant to be an outlet for an evasion of the section.
– The honorable member will recollect that I spoke of those who were conducting perfectly legitimate business.
– The trouble is that it gives both classes an outlet.
– If the honorable member is not satisfied, it is open to him to suggest an improvement; but he must see that it is not desirable to pass a law declaring honest, necessary business to be illegal.
– But the trouble is that we have always to frame our legislation to meet the worst cases.
– It might have been better to deal with our principal object separately, namely, the Shipping Ring and rebates ; but an attempt is made to deal with all classes of cases, and perfectly proper trading has been brought under the penal provision. However, the Attorney-General thinks that the proposed sub-clause is a perfect safeguard, and I am willing to accept it.
– I suggest that we delete the words, “ in relation to,” after the word “who,” with a view to inserting, “ with intent to restrain.” The clause would then read, “Any person who with intent to restrain trade or commerce, etc.” Perhaps the Attorney-General will accept that.
– It is almost impossible to succeed if we have to prove intent.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to-
That, the words “or fails,” line 3, of section 7b, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ either absolutely or except upon disadvantageous conditions “ ; and that the words, lines 4 and 5, “ at the ordinary ruling prices,” be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 9 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That the following new clauses be inserted : -
After clause 6 : - “ 6a. After section ten of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - 10a. - (1.) Any person who does any act or thing in disobedience of an injunction granted under this part of this Act shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : - Five hundred pounds for each day during which the offence continues. (2.) This section shall not be deemed to derogate from the power of the High Court, apart from this section, to enforce obedience to the injunction.’ “
After clause 7 : - “ 7A. Sub-section (1) of section thirteen of the
Principal Act is repealed and the following subsection substituted in lieu thereof : - (1.) Proceedings for the recovery of pecuniary penalties for offences against this Part of this Act (other than indictable offences or offences against section fifteen b, section fifteen c, or section fifteen e) shall be instituted in the High Court by way of civil action and shall be tried before a Justice of that Court without a jury.’ “ “ 7b. Section fourteen of the Principal Act is amended - “ (a) by omitting from sub-section (1) the words ‘ criminal proceeding ‘ and inserting in Heu thereof ‘ the words proceeding for an indictable offence or for the recovery of penalties ‘; and
by omitting from sub-section (2) the word ‘civil’ and inserting in lieu thereof the word ‘other.’”
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 11. Section18 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (1) thereof the following paragraph : -
The Attorney-General may not be aware that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and myself have waited on the Minister of Trade and Customs in reference to this matter, which affects about 7,000 women, who, in consequence of the present state of the law, are deprived of constant employment. Important deputations have waited on the Minister of Trade and Customs, one when the honorable member for Hume held office, another two when the honorable member for Yarra was Minister, one of the latter representing Sydney interests ; and only yesterday another was received within this building. The opinions expressed by those deputations have been indorsed by every manufacturer of women’s and children’s outer garments in the two States. Sympathetic replies were given by the Minister on each occasion ; and replies from every manufacturer in Australia, except one, have been received, showing that these goods cannot be manufactured in Australia, while the opinion of the Law Department is that section 18 of the Act is not strong enough. But for the fact that I had pledged myself to the Government of the day to support duties of 10 and 15 per cent., I should have voted with the honorable member for Barrier, when he moved that all goods which cannot be manufactured in Australia should be admitted free. Although the weight of the Government was against it, that motion was beaten by only two votes; and as honorable members will realize, if I had been able to give it my support, the voting would have been equal, and the casting vote of the Chairman would undoubtedly have been given in the affirmative. That motion represents the true Protectionist position, namely, that goods which are the raw material of another industry, and cannot, and probably will not, be manufactured here for another half century should be admitted free. Owing to misstatements made, a similar motion was defeated in the Senate by only one vote ; and it was decided to impose a revenue Tariff of 25 and30 per cent. Though I was ill at the time, I fought against the increased duties as well as I could. Only one manufacturer in the whole of Australia refused to send any reply to the question as to whether the goods could be manufactured here, and that was the company controlled by Mr. Harold Sparkes. He stood outside the door of the Senate and showed splendid articles, which he said were manufactured by his firm; but that was absolutely untrue. Mr. Sparkes, who is the secretary of the so-called Protectionist Society in Sydney, carried on his campaign on the plan he had learnt in Melbourne at the time of the boom, when he was then well known in connexion with a man named James. He entirely frightened senators who had not gone into the question, but Senator Mulcahy, to his honour, told him that he was telling an untruth when he said the goods were manufactured here. The one vote in the Senate was given by Senator Findley, who said he thought that Mr. Sparkes was telling the truth. Manufacturers promised to take all such goods if they could be produced in Australia, but Mr. Sparkes said that the letter from me on the subject was not received. However, I have it from three other manufacturers, who wrote on the same subject, that they also never received any replies. By the accident of circumstances, this section has resulted in what is really a serious tax, and close upon half-a-million of money is involved. Amongst all the ladies who came here on the deputation yesterday, not one was garbed with Australian tweed; and how is it possible for them to afford to buy that tweed when the wholesale price is close on 3s.11d. a yard, which, with the manufacturer’s profit, cannot possibly be sold retail under 7s. 6d. per yard. Why should the Government allow a sex tax of that nature to continue? Even if they find it impossible to introduce an amendment of the Tariff this session, they need surely not allow dumping. Mantles and other garments made cheaply in England, under conditions that no member of this House would willingly permit to exist in Australia, are sold at fair prices at the commencement of the season, but at the end of the season those unsold are sent out here invoiced at reductions of 50, 60, 70, and, in one case regarding which sworn declarations can be obtained, as much as 80 per cent. The following is from a splendid article published in the Age of last Wednesday -
It is not altogether surprising that successive Ministries have shown hesitancy in tackling the problem. It is admittedly a difficult one. But it has to be faced. The underselling of local manufacturers and the paralyzing of a large industry employing thousands of hands cannot be permitted, while, inasmuch as the Customs duty of 25 and 30 per cent, on the piece goods is a revenue one -
Fancy a revenue duty of 25 and 30 per cent, affecting one sex only 1 inasmuch as it falls on woollen and silk materials that are used for women’s costumes, but are not produced in Australia - it is manifestly unfair that the tax should fall on women’s garments only. If a class tax is objectionable a “ sex tax “ is even more so. There is no doubt that the great bulk of women’s dress goods are not made in Australia at the present time. Recent inquiries have shown that where expense is no object a certain very small percentage of Australian tweeds can be used for women’s coats and skirts, but the lowest-priced material of this kind is in the vicinity of 3s. 6d. per yard.
That is wholesale -
Except for winter wear tweed of this kind is impossible, and in the warmer States it could hardly be worn at all. Importers of women’s dress goods have the field virtually to themselves. It is said that 15,000 mantles were imported last year by one Australian firm alone. How much employment would this have given to the often out-of-work women of any of the larger cities of the Commonwealth?
The duty of every statesman is to find employment for the citizens, but the unfortunate workers in this trade, instead of getting continuous employment, are given what are humorously called holidays. What sort of holidays are they to those seven thousand workers in Melbourne alone ? They are holidays in which they go out of work and have to spend their little savings, not in enjoyment, but for subsistence, and all this is caused by the infamous system of dumping. One garment shown to the Minister of Customs yesterday was invoiced here at 4s. nd., which was increased by landing charges, freight, and the necessary percentage ad valor eni, to 7 s. 6d. The material of which it was made could not be bought in London for the money, and it could not be purchased and made up here, at manufacturer’s costs, under 21s. It seemed to me that section 18 of the Act was strong enough to prevent dumping of that kind, but the legal men say it cannot be done, and therefore I have tabled an amendment to make the intention of Parliament clear and distinct. I am simply asking the Government +0 agree that that type of goods -when sent out here must be accompanied by a statutory declaration as to the manufacturer’s cost of production. Is there anything very obscure in that? Is it unfair to ask this Parliament to protect those of our women folk who are being undermined by this unfair competition? This amendment, if carried, will not altogether remove the evil, but it will prevent it to a great extent. No honorable member will say that we have not in Australia women clever enough with brain and needle to cut out and make up a garment fit for any woman to wear, or that we have not men tailors able to make clothes to lit any man. If this is a Protective Government, and we are a Protective House, I ha.ve a right to claim for these 7,000 workers in Victoria a fair amount of Protection. What they get now is 10 per cent, at the utmost, and in many cases only 5 per cent. The finer materials are made on the Continent, and cannot be made in England, or even _ in the United States of America, which imposes a Protectve duty of 100 per cent. When sent out here as raw material in the piece they are charged a duty of 30 percent. If they ‘are sent to England, and made up into garments, those garments come out here at a duty qf 35 per cent.– the preferential rate allowed for British goods. That gives the workers in the industry only 5 per cent, protection. We cannot compete, with our Factories Acts, higher wages, and shorter hours, with the toofrequently sweated labour of the older land, on those terms. I should have been glad to see a Bill introduced to rectify Tariff anomalies, but how can we expect it when it is the case of one party in and the other party out? If we had had a system of elective Ministries, those anomalies would have been removed long ago. I shall read the different paragraphs of section 18, and appeal to every man of common sense whether there is no provision in it which the Government cannot accept and enforce. It begins -
For the purposes of this Part of this Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair, unless the contrary is proved, if -
under ordinary circumstances of trade, it would probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market or being sold at a loss unless produced at an inadequate remuneration for labour ; or
We can prove beyond the shadow of doubt that these garments are sold at less than the material will cost in the piece in England. How then can it be said that the workers obtain a proper remuneration for their labour ? Paragraph b does not apply. Paragraph c provides : -
The competition would probably or does in fact result in an inadequate remuneration for labour in the Australian industry ; or
The dumping cannot directly reduce the wages, because they are settled by the Factories Act, but it produces the same effect by removing the chance” of constant employment, and therefore that provision should cover it. Paragraph d is to this effect : -
The competition would probably or does in fact result in creating any substantial disorganization in Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment ; or
I can assure honorable members that the dumping in this case has that effect. Some branches for the making up of children’s garments have been absolutely abandoned by the manufacturers since the duty was imposed. On the other hand, to show the brighter side, let me quote one of the results of the Tariff to the white-workers. One firm in Gertrude-street, on the very day that Parliament decided to allow linen and cotton goods in the piece to come in free, and give 35 per cent. and 40 per cent. protection on the finished article, started their factory, which, to-day, employs a hundred people, and machinery is being laid down to make room for more. I understand that Welch Margetson, who used to hold the market here for shirts and other linen goods, are no longer exporting to us from England. The local firm more than hold their own, but if their goods were taxed even to the extent of10 or 15 per cent. they would have to close down. Under present conditions the number of hands previously engaged in that work have been more than doubled. Paragraph e pro-
Tides : -
The imported goods have been purchased abroad by or for the importer, ‘ from the manufacturer or some person acting for or in combination with him or accounting to him, at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced or market price where purchased ; or
The Attorney-General knows that those provisions are strong enough. I have always thought so, yet a sympathetic Minister of Trade and Customs, and a sympathetic Attorney-General, said they could not see their way to prosecute and stopthe present dumping. Finally, paragraphf says : -
The imported goods are imported by or for the manufacturer, or some person acting for or in combination with him or accounting to him, and are being sold in Australia at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their fair foreign market value, or their fair selling value if sold in the country of production, together with all charges after shipment from the place whence the goods are exported directly to Australia (including Customs duty).
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
– I understand that some arrangement has been made with reference to the course of business. I shall be pleased to bring my remarks to a conclusion as early as possible. To show that I have not been speaking without a basis for my statements, I desire to quote the following letter from a number of Sydney manufacturers : -
Sydney, March, 1909.
At a meeting of mantleand costume manufacturers, held at the Forbes’ Hotel on Friday, the 26th ult., it was unanimously agreed that the undermentioned petition should be signed and presented to the Minister for Customs : -
That the Mantle and Costume manufacturers of Sydney accord their hearty support to the manufacturers of Melbourne in their deputation to the Minister, calling attention to the dumping of women’s and cnildren’s outer garments into Australia, to the detriment of local workers, and requesting that the duty on dress materials be reduced from 25 and 30 per cent. to10 and 15 per cent., also that a duty of 60s. per dozen be levied on women’s and children’s outer garments, in addition to the present ad valorem duty of 35 and 40 per cent., also that the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act be enforced. (Signed)
E. Ward & Co. Ltd. (W. E. Ward, Director).
Snowball & Stone.
Alexander Brodziak & Co.
Cohen & Sons.
Len. W. Alexander.
Frederick A. Moss.
W.J. Wright & Fox. (W. J. Wright).
The American Manufacturing Co.
Cromer & Co.
C.Brees & Co.
Nathan Jacobs & Co.
Weingott & Sons.
The signatures appended to that letter will be familiar to the Minister of Defence,as nearly all the factories concerned are in his electorate. In the Argus of nth
November appears an advertisement from Messrs. Lincoln, Stuart, and Co., Melbourne, announcing the landing of 2,000 ladies costumes in wool and linen, all latest French styles, at from 30s. each. Mr. Britain states that to make these 2,000 garments would keep his factory in full swing at full time, employing about sixty girls, for two months. Another letter which I have received on the same subject is as follows -
Melbourne, 14th April, 1909.
Dr. Wm. Maloney, M.H.R.,
Federal Parliament House, Melbourne.
If, as we are informed is the case, a misapprehension has arisen regarding the selling price in London of the garments shown to the Hon. the Minister of Customs, at the recent deputation of local manufacturers introduced By you, we hope to remove it by submitting the following particulars : -
The cloth in the coats exhibited by you would have cost in London, at the least15½d. per yard. Invoices proving this are at your disposal.
Each coat would require four yards of material. Thus 5s.10d. out of the 5s.11d. charged for the garments is shown in the cost of the raw material. Cutting, making, buttons, interlining and pressing, besides manufacturer’s profit, are unaccounted for in the transaction.
Unbiased investigation will prove that there are thousands of garments in Australia to-day to which a similar description would accurately apply.
That the prices paid for these goods are normal London or continental rates, we utterly deny, and the analysis given of the cost of the garments shown by you will bear us out.
It is the surplus of the English and continental season, slaughtered at from 50 per cent. upwards, off manufacturers’ prices, which is paralyzing out industry.
Trusting you will bring these facts into prominence on our behalf,
We are, Dear Sir, yours faithfully,
Watkinson (H. L. Burrell, Watkinson, and Co.).
C. W. Forster, Managing Director, (for Forster & Co. Propy. Ltd.).
W. Jacobs; Director (Davey & Co. Propty. Ltd.).
C. Brufold (National Mfg. Co.).
Britain, Little Collins-street.
A statement was made to the Minister of Trade and Customs yesterday with reference to the value of the garments dumped in Australia. On that point Mr. J. C. Benfold writes as follows - 162 Lygon-street, Carlton,
Melbourne May 26th, 1909.
National Manufacturing Co., Manufacturers of Ladies’ Coats, Costumes, Skirts, Blouses, &c. To Dr. Wm. Maloney, M.H.R.,
Federal Parliament House, Melbourne. Dear . Sir,
I beg to indorse Mr. Forsters statement1c the cost of making a full-length coat such as produced at the deputation to the Hon. Minister of Customs.
To produce such a garment honestly and pay fair and reasonable wages to employes, and at the same time maintain a decent factory containing all the necessary requirements appertaining to health and cleanliness, so rightly insisted upon by our factory legislation, Six shillings (6s.), I am sure is a very fair estimate of the cost of production.
The following letter will also be interesting to honorable members -
Melbourne, 26th May, 1909.
To Dr. Wm. Maloney, M.H.E.,
Federal Parliament House, Melbourne.
We, the undersigned, manufacturers of women’s over-garments, desire respectfully to impress upon you a statement forthwith.
We entirely concur in the estimate given by Mr. W. C. D. Forster (of Messrs. Forster & Co., Propty. Ltd.), of the cost, in his factory, of making the long coat submitted to the Hon. the Minister for Customs. Mr. Forster, we understand, will willingly produce his books showing the invoice price in London of the cloth from which the garment was made, and the subsequent charges of duty, freight, and landing.
We take it, however, that the matter which principally concerns the Hon. the Minister in arriving at the facts in connexion with the statement made to him, is the absolute cost of labour in Australia. Subjoined are the items : -
We regard it as an absolute impossibility for any firm paying a living wage to turn out these garments at a cost below that specified by Mr. Forster, and herewith indorse in every particular his estimate.
We remain, Dear Sir, yours faithfully,
Davey & Co. Propty. Ltd.
I thank honorable members for listening” to my appeal, and now desire to bring my remarks to a conclusion. It is simply an infamy that, through an unfortunate anomaly in our Customs Tariff, a number of workers estimated at between 25,000 and 26,000 have not constant employment. I trust that in the next Parliament this subject will receive all the attention that it certainly deserves. Not one of the ladieswho came up to Parliament House upon this business yesterday, not one of themanufacturers concerned, not a single person at any of the dinner-hour meetings that have been addressed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and myself on this subject, would raise a little finger to injure any one engaged in the woollen industry of Australia. But, as citizens, they rightly claim that this Parliament should give them the same meed of protection as the woollen workers have. The persons concerned in this matter are three times as numerous as are those employed in the woollen industry of Australia and Tasmania together. I am sure that the members of the Government, in their hearts, sympathize with the object in view. They wish to give continuity of employment to our workers. To do so is to afford the necessary complement to our splendid factory legislation, and to make real and effective the policy of new Protection by means of which we desire, not only to assist the worker, but, ultimately, I hope, to produce a price list for the protection of the consumer. Having made this statement of my case, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
.- Before the report is adopted, I think it well to place on record a statement as to the somewhat exceptional circumstances under which the Bill has been accepted. It is almost universally recognised that in dealing with trusts we are contending with most powerful and comprehensive combinations. We are dealing with individuals united together for a certain purpose, and the most stringent provisions are required to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth against their possible machinations. The Attorney-General has secured the acceptance of the Bill on the lines that he has suggested. That indicates that the House trusts the honorable gentleman to enforce the law. We trust that the amendments thai have been made are such as will tighten the provisions of the original Anti-Trust Act, and allow the Government of the Commonwealth to deal effectively with those who are endeavouring to monopolize trade in various commodities, and some of the necessaries of life. It is to be hoped that the Government will make these people stand up to the extreme provisions contained either in the original or amending measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I understand that it has been arranged to proceed with Supply unless honorable members opposite desire that we should deal with the other Bill that remains to be dealt with. I am not clear about what was agreed upon. But we are entirely in the hands of the House. If honorable members opposite will express their wish, we are perfectly willing to accede to it.
.- An understanding was arrived at last night that when the Appropriation Bill had passed through all its stages, an opportunity would be afforded to discuss the financial situation of the country on a statement t< be made by the Treasurer, relative to the Supplementary Estimates. An opportunity was desired for honorable members to prepare the speeches which they desired to deliver on the financial situation. Thereupon the Prime Minister agreed to an adjournment, to permit of the debate taking place this morning. I took it that in accordance with that arrangement, Supply would be the first matter dealt with to-day. But when the House met this morning the Prime Minister made the request that certain other Bills should be taken first, in order to allow the Senate to deal with them. The Prime Minister then stated that he was willing to permit Supply to be dealt with at any time after one o’clock to-day.
– That is all right.
– I think we have arrived at a stage now when it is fair to ask that the financial discussion should be resumed. What I wish to ‘know is what the Government intend to proceed with.
– We are entirely in the hands of honorable members opposite.
– In accordance with the arrangement which was made last night, and which was altered this morning only at the request of the Government, and to meet the convenience of the Senate, the matter which we should at once discuss is the financial statement submitted by the Treasurer last night.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of a message from the Senate intimating th.it the Senate had agreed to the amendments of the House of Representatives in this Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to the amendments of the House of Representatives in this Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of a message from the Senate intimating that the Senate did not insist upon its amendment omitting clause 4, and agreed to the House of Representatives’ amendment in the clause.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That Orders of the Day, Government Business Nos. 7, 8, and 10 be postponed until after the consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 1 and 2.
.- I think the Government would be making a’ mistake in proposing to deal now with the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill. It is all very well to say that it might be quickly passed, but it deals with a very serious and important matter.
– It has been through the Senate.
– I am aware of that ; but T do not think it is a Bill that should be passed without the most mature con.sideration. I hope the Government will make no attempt to rush it through.
– I must adhere to my original motion. It is quite clear that honorable members opposite are unable to. make up their minds as to the business that should first be proceeded with. I am entirely in their hands, and unless they agree to consider the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill now, I have no option but to move the postponement of that Order of the Day, as well as Orders of the Day Numbers 7 and 8. I hope that after we have dealt with the first two Orders of the Day, an opportunity will still be afforded to consider the Bill referred to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Sup-ply (Consideration resumed from 7th December, vide page
Division 2 (House of Representatives’), £6i
.- I cannot understand why honorable members should be so anxious to engage in a financial discussion at this stage, seeing that nothing definite can come of it beyond, perhaps, the satisfaction of distributing our eloquence in Hansard shape amongst our long-suffering electors. In the circumstances, I think the debate might be curtailed as fat as possible. I should not have spoken at all but for a statement made by the Leader of the Labour party last night. The honorable gentleman said, in connexion with the coal strike at Newcastle, that for his part he would like to see the strike extended to the other States, in order that the Federal authorities might be compelled to step in and arbitrate upon it. That is an extraordinary thing for any member of any party in this House to say. I am innocent enough to believe that honorable members opposite are no more anxious to foment industrial strife, and so retard the peaceful progress of the country, than is the wildest revolutionary on this side. What, then, does the statement of the Leader of the Labour party mean? I hope it will be found that the honorable gentleman was speaking loosely.
– Is it not sometimes advisable to extend an evil in order to remedy its effects?
– My honorable friend will recognise that troubles of this kind are, to some extent, fomented by the selfish ambitions of various cliques and factions concerned in them. I have no doubt whatever, for instance, of the sincerity of the efforts of the honorable member for West Sydney at the present juncture to put, what the honorable member for Dalley would call, the “ kibosh “ on Mr. Bowling’s efforts to foment the strike. I can understand that honorable gentleman earnestly desiring peace, since peace would mean, incidentally, of course - and I do not say because it would mean - the smashing of a rival school of labour politics for the time being.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that he will assist in the settlement of the unfortunate dispute by speaking in that way ?
– f am referring to the matter incidentally, because I’ know that this final debate is not likely tobe reported, and that we are speaking practically amongst ourselves.
– Surely we are still responsible?
– I am responsible for all my utterances, but speak now with the greater freedom, because I feel sure that no improper use is likely to be made of anything I say upon an entirely unimportant debate such as that which is now exercising the Committee. We are now practically presenting P.P.C cards to each other. I stood fire last night from the honorable member for Yarra ; in the same way the Treasurer had, or thought he had, a P.P.C. card dropped on him by the honorable member for Mernda. I am now dropping mv little tribute of affection upon my honorable friends opposite. I hope they will not regard what T say too bitterly, as practically this is the last chance we shall have of meeting each other.
– Will we not meet the honorable member in the new Parliament?
– I am sure that I shall be here, but T am not sure how many of mv friends will be here with me. The Government have a substantial majority, and so we are a happy family, and I cherish no vindictive feelings towards any member of the Committee. I wish to “refer again to the statement made bv the Leader of the Labour party. Tt can only be explained away by attributing to the honorable gentleman the belief that if we can compel the Federal authority to sten in, in order to deal with these difficulties, we shall immensely enhance the dignity and prestige of Federal members of Parliament, and especially of those who will be approached by their own organizations to secure the settlement of these disputes. I sincerely hope, however, that even this most laudable ambition and altruistic desire will not lead us to make the mistake of seeking to foment industrial trouble in the Commonwealth. The dispute already existing is of a sufficiently serious character, and is holding up industry all over the Commonwealth. I hope that nothing will be done in this or in any other State which would extend the area of disturbance and make the ultimate settlement more difficult. I put this before honorable members with all earnestness. We are now only beating the wind by prolonging a debate that can have no actual effect, and it would be better if, with proper decorum, we dealt with the few Government measures that remain, and departed, some into oblivion, and others to return with the roars of wellsatisfied electors still ringing in our ears, chastened, and perhaps wiser men.
– I had not an opportunity to hear the Treasurer last night deliver his second financial statement; but having read it, I think that we have reached the parting of the ways, and that the administration of high public office requires both skill and honesty, as well as an aggressive intelligence if the Commonwealth is to be extricated from the terrible financial muddle into which its affairs have drifted. According to the Treasurer, oldage pensions next year will cost £1,700,000, and, in addition, there will be £250,000 for invalid pensions, or, altogether, £2,000,000, which means nearly 10s. per head of the population of the Commonwealth, or about 30s. per bread-winner. It is, therefore, my duty to try to persuade the Government before this Parliament is dissolved, that the time has come for the establishment of a great central bank. Are w.i going to wait until no one will lend us money before we take this step? The other day I endeavoured to assist the Treasurer in providing for the offering of 3$ per cent, for the first Commonwealth loan. The substitution of 3 per cent., as all financial men must know, will mean that the Commonwealth securities will be floated at a discount of 15, 16, or r7 per cent. I do not think it was the Treasurer’s fault that the amendment was carried. ‘ He has always been in favour of having
Commonwealth stock at a premium in the markets of the world. That is impossible with 3 per cent, stock. By issuing pur loan at 3 per cent., we shall lose the discount, so that the Treasurer will’ have less money than is needed for the construction of the proposed navy, and will have to pay interest on a large sum which he will not get. Bad as the financing of the Government is, this makes the case worse. 1 understand that Ministers gave way because some of their influential supporters declared for a rate of 3 per cent. Had honorable members on this side done so, they would have been told that they had not sufficient financial ability to know the difference between stock at a discount at 3 per cent., and stock at a premium at 3j per cent. Ministers will live to regret the issue of the fi-st Commonwealth loan at 3 per cent. 1 trust that the Treasurer will borrow this money, not in the markets of the world, but in the Australian market, by means of short-dated bonds. Even if he has to renew, he may thus help to reestablish the credit of the Commonwealth. After the manner in which I have urged the Government to found a national banking system, which, would take advantage of the Post Office organization, I hope ihat the Treasurer will not let us separate without giving me the promise that it will be done. Seven or eight years ago, on his return from England, he delivered a speech which showed him to be a strong believer in a central banking institution, something on the lines of the Bank of France, which would have all the statutory powers possessed by the Commonwealth High Court, and would rediscount the securities, of other financial institutions in Australia. I could find that speech in Hansard. But, even if we do not get. a regular Government banking institution, we should have a, semi- or quasi-Government banking institution, in which the whole of the Commonwealth banking corporations would be interested, and to which the Commonwealth note issue would be confined, and by which it would be managed. In it the Commonwealth and the States could keep their deposits. This would enable us to utilize the moneys which are now lent by trustees at 3 J per cent. The Postmaster-General would then no longer have to refuse applications for new postoffices, or the extension of telegraph or telephone lines. He has to do that now because there is no way of financing these necesssary progressive activities. I suggest that the Treasurer should turn up the speech to which I have referred, and read it again. He must not forget his principles merely because he is a member of a Fusion Government. I understood him to say that the best financiers that he met in England said that it would be a good thing for Australia to establish a national banking institution, especially as this is a debtor country. We cannot compete in the markets of the world with countries like France, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark, which have great institutions lending out the producers’ money at low rates of interest. When the Commonwealth does business, it has to pay cash ; it has to hand out the absolute tangible sovereigns. These other countries only lend credit ; not a penny ever leaves their institutions. The result is that, when a crisis occurs in France, they expand their note issue and money volume, and the small business people are thus saved from having to sacrifice their stocks in the open market to meet their obligations. They are not forced to glut the market with commodities which are not required. But when a small crisis occurs here, the bankers compel the small business people to reduce their overdrafts, and look for better security. Those who cannot do this have to go into the market and make terms with other business men, paying almost any rate of interest, so that they may liquidate their obligations. A small increase of currency would enable them to continue carrying on a sound legitimate business. It will be a long time before we reassemble. Life is very uncertain, and I may never have another chance to put this matter before honorable members. I wish to impress the ‘Treasurer that I am speaking for posterity, for the sons of the farmers and business men of the present generation.
– The millions yet unborn.
– For the countless multitudes of future generations.’ The Treasurer means well, and if he had me for a colleague would certainly start this bank. In a few days he will be going to private banking corporations, asking for a loan of .£3,500,000 with which to pay for a navy. As security he will pledge the revenues of the Commonwealth. _ Of course, if the Labour party comes back after next election with the numbers, it will establish a national bank, but you never can tell.
– In that case the honorable member will be Treasurer.
– You never can tell. “ Hope sees a star, and listening love hears the rustle of a wing.” Those things which we most desire are sometimes far from us. Although we pray for success, the intelligence of the people may not yet be high enough to lead them to place us in power. We hope that it is. If they do, we must certainly give them a National banking system. That system will not injure the present banking corporations. It will rather benefit them. When the State bank of South Australia was established, there was a great outcry on the part of certain people. I was not then in Parliament, but I pointed out at the time that every bank in America would welcome the establishment of such an institution there, since it would mean a greater circulating’ credit. As the result of that bank to-day, hundreds of the farmers of South Australia have been benefited, although it is after all only a pawnshop, as is every bank on which one cannot draw a cheque. The banking corporations in South Australia are paying bigger dividends than they have ever paid, and the State is more prosperous than it has ever been. A fiduciary institution which enables the producers and the business people to obtain money at a low rate of interest does not injure private financial institutions ; it rather benefits them. It creates mighty industrial and commercial progress, and every one is advantaged. As the boodle flies, some of it must stick to one, and why should honorable members opposite be afraid of my proposal? I desire to see established in the Commonwealth a National banking institution in which the people will have absolute confidence. If we had a National postal bank in operation, the Treasurer to-day would be able to obtain from it an overdraft in respect of the £3,500,000 that he requires for Naval purposes. He would not have to go into the money market, because thousands of the people in a small way of business would’be depositors with that institution. It is only the savings of the multitude which form the ready cash in the banking corporations. All else, except the surplus earnings of fiduciary institutions is merely an expansion of credit. That is why, although we have in’ the Commonwealth £163,000,000 on deposit in the banks, we have only £24,000,000 of real money. The balance °f £I 39’000,000 consists of credits. Why should the Government be afraid of my proposal ?
– I suppose they would say that it would interfere with private enterprise.
– It would not; on the contrary, it would encourage private enterprise. There are many producers and industrial firms to-day which, if it were possible to obtain an overdraft at 4 per cent., would increase their plant and give employment to hundreds and thousands of men. It is because the lowest rate of interest at which one can obtain an overdraft is about 6 per cent, that production and business is not much expanded. Then, again, a man who obtains an overdraft under the present system never knows when he may be called upon to reduce it. A man maymake such arrangements as, he believes, will lead to his becoming a millionaire six months hence ; but bad times set in, and he is soon notified that he is to reduce his overdraft. Such a notification usually reaches him at the very time that he is most in need of protection and help. I had such an experience, and, ever since, have been fighting for my National postal bank system. Ever since the banks knocked me out of my chance of being a millionaire, I have been after them.
– It is said that the honorable member is doing very well just now.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member is just able to keep out of the destitute asylum?
– Quite so. i’ have heard some criticism of the way in which the old-age pensions system is administered, but I must frankly state. that the Treasurer has always been very good to me.
– Like clings to like.
– That is not the explanation. I think we ought :>1ways to speak well of those who deserve it, and I repeat that in the matter of oldage pensions, the Treasurer has treated me well. Any request that I have made to him in regard to applications for pensions in Tasmania has been sympathetically received.
– Cannot the honorable member say a word for the Minister of Defence ?
– He has not treated me badly, save that he has not yet caused to be erected at Burnie the .drillhall for which I have asked. I come now to the financing of the Northern Territory, w”hich the Commonwealth ought certainly to take over. I regret that another place disagreed with the decision at which this House arrived. We ought to enter our solemn protest. A great fight is going on in England to-day between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I do .not think that Mr. LloydGeorge will have any trouble in smashing the Upper House in the Old Country. We ought to do the same with the Senate.
Colonel Foxton. - What ! A representative of Tasmania would say that?
– Well, the members of another place must be getting very “ cocky “ when they dare to interfere with any measure that we send up to them. Titles are becoming almost as common in the Senate as they are in the House of Lords. The time will come when we shall have to carry a resolution that any Bill passed by this House shall instantly become law. I would remind the Committee that another place knocked out the canteen provision that we inserted in the Defence. Bill. We are trying to inculcate the great principles of temperance and sobriety, whereas the Senate desires to make boozers of the people. They are interfering with the inalienable rights of this House. But to return to the Northern Territory. It is almost as large as Alaska, and about three times the size of the German Empire. If we had a national banking institution we could soon settle in the Northern Territory TOO,000 people. In other words, we should have there 100,000 farmers, and they would provide an adequate defence for it. With such a population there we should not have any one talking about the invasion of Australia. The money that it is proposed to borrow for the purposes of naval defence would be sufficient to place 35,000 men, each with a wife and child, on the lands of the Northern Territory. Why have honorable members gone mad on the military and naval business? The members of the Fusion party look intelligent, and the Labour party appear to be equally intelligent, yet, so far as the craze for fighting is concerned, the one party is as mad as the other. Surely the Government mean to take the Northern Territory over after the next general election, if they continue in power? I cannot believe that members of the Ministry, by implication or otherwise, inspired another place to throw out the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. But I must say that I expected that result, because that House does not represent the people. When I was a member of the South Australian Parliament, I know it would have been very easy to give a concession to a syndicate. I was giving some attention to the matter myself ; and an American from Chicago, who visited the State, told me that he regarded it as a great proposition, only his idea was to place 100,000 or 200,000 Chinamen there. South Australia has really preserved this part of the Commonwealth for the white man, and though this House has done justice to the State, the thirty-six members of another place seem to assume that, they have more brains than the seventy-five members here. The Treasurer has made the statement that, in spite of the unholy alliance with the States, there will this year be a deficit of at least £300,000 ; and I should like to know how he proposes to meet that shortage. Is he going to provide ways and means to liquidate the obligation, or is he going to allow the Commonwealth to follow the example of the States and drift into a policy, of indifference? Amongst the expenditure which lies in the near future is ,£5,000,000 for the development of the Northern Territory, and another ,£5,000,000 for a railway there ; ,£5,000,000 for the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway ; £1,000,000 for extensions in the Post and Telegraph Department; ^50,000 for an immigration policy ’) .£10,000 for a High Commissioner ; and an increase of ,£1,000,000 on account of old-age pensions ; or, in all, nearly ,£20,000,000. It is true that the Commonwealth has secured ,£600,000 from the States, but at what a price? It means the sacrifice of our nationality - as Sir Josiah Symon says, the denationalizing of our nationality - at the price of the emasculation of the Constitution ! It would have been far better to borrow the ,£600,000. Surely this cannot be called a financial scheme? Borrowing is never a financial scheme, but is the last hope of the spendthrift, and renders us liable to lose our all.
– It does not matter so long as we do not propose to pay the money back !
– But the Treasurer proposes to repay the money in fifteen and a half years, by means of a 5 per cent. sinking fund. The British Government never borrow for the army and navy, except in times of great stress when a war is on; and that is the case in America. It is true that in the United States of America the Government had to borrow when gold was taken out of the countryby the endless chain of paying in and paying out ; and the result was that, under the Cleveland Administration, the national debt was increased by several million pounds. But gold has flowed in so fast ever since, that in the last few years it has not been possible to steal it quick enough. We in Australia are not in that position. 1 believe that about£660,000,000 worth of gold has been taken out of the Australian soil, and it has all left the country except £24,000,000. I remember when the present Prime Minister made his great speeches here on the new Protection, which was part and parcel of the Government policy. I never should have voted for more Protection if we had not been assured by the Prime Minister that the workers, as well as the employers, would share the advantages. On the 5th September, 1906, as reported in Hansard,, the Prime Minister said - “ Failing such reduction, power will be taken to reduce the import duties by Proclamation or Resolution of the House to an amount to be determined by such Proclamation or Resolution not to be less than one-half of the new duties imposed.”
I have given honorable members the advantage of the information already prepared, and trust they will see that, under the conditions proposed to be enforced - cutting down of the prices of machines in this drastic fashion, and requiring fair wages to be paid within one year, or else the duty will be reduced by more than 50per cent. - we shall be afforded an ample guarantee that the manufacture of the Australian implements will be conducted on lines fair to all those engaged in the industry and to the purchasers.
Yet the working men have had to engage lawyers to represent them in the High Court in an endeavour to obtain a fair wage, and they are now being allowed to pay all the costs. The case was not brought on by the men, but by the opponents of progress - theboodleiers - who appealed to the High Court, and made it necessary for the employes to engage counsel at heavy expense to defend the Act passed by this Parliament. Now the Government refuse to liquidate the obligation created by our bad legislation. There ought to be an amount on the SupplementaryEstimates to recoup these men the money they have spent. It makes my heart bleed with sadness to see membersof the Fusion party, who have big banking accounts, supporting such a policy, just as. though the workmen were American Indians instead of being sons of Australia. If I were guilty of such conduct 1 could never hope to face St. Peter ! I confess that the Minister of Defence had nothing to dowith the legislation. He fought it and tried to keep it off the statute-book. This is the petition from the workers -
Melbourne, 15th September,1909
The humble petition of - the undersigned sheweth : -
Where is the new Protection now ?
Here is what Mr. Justice Isaacs, now on the High Court Bench, said when AttorneyGeneral, on the 21st September, 1906 - Hansard, page 5147 -
The Government have given very anxious consideration to this matter, and I take it that every member of this Committee acquiesces in the idea that we do not wish to impose duties merely to enrich manufacturers.
The right honorable member for East Sydney stated on the 15th November, 1907 - Hansard, page 6097 -
In view of the situation which has been indicated by the Prime Minister - that he with his colleagues may hare to submit some measure dealing with possible hardships - it would, I think, be only fair that those manufacturers of harvesters should in some way or other be made to know that it will be a substantial element in any possible consideration of their cases, that they should at once conform to the rates which have been decided by the Justice in the case of the Sunshine harvesters. Whatever we may do as to the past, the manufacturers have now a clear indication from the Court of what are considered fair and reasonable rates, and I think it would be only fair. … I think it is a matter worthy of the consideration of the Government, or, perhaps I should say, it is a matter worthy of consideration by the Prime Minister, that there should be some indication that if the manufacturers do not at once conform to the new standard their position may perhaps be prejudiced.
And this is what the present Prime Minister said -
The right honorable gentleman has, perhaps, not observed that my colleague, the Minister. of Trade and Customs, a few days ago, when receiving a deputation, said in so many words that the attitude which would be adopted towards the manufacturers would greatly depend on their immediate and frank acceptance of the rates of wages fixed by the. Court. I may add that yesterday, and again to-day, I saw the head of the Department, and authorized him to convey to manufacturers who were not present at the deputation, an exactly similar intimation, that from the date of the publication of the award, the scale of wages therein must be observed.
In face of those words, and the fact that these workmen put up their money to defend the law - the action being started by the Australian combination of boodleiers - it seems to me that the Government should have provided the money on the Supplementary Estimates. It would be only fair, honest, and just to do so, and let me tell them that they will be held responsible for refusing. The report continues -
On nth March, 1908, Hansard, page 8816, the Prime Minister further said -
No one would look forward with equanimity to once more considering the Tariff, but it was passed by this House with the publicly-announced intention of the Government to supplement it with what is popularly known as the New Protection, and whatever may be the result of present proceedings, the Government is absolutely bound by its undertaking.
If that is so - and the Government do not deny it - will they .’not propose the necessary vote, or repay these men, out of the Treasurer’s Advance, the money that they are out of pocket?
.- I should not have spoken but for a statement made yesterday in Committee by the honorable member for Mernda, and something that appeared in a leading article in today’s Arg7.es. The honorable member for Mernda said that the Telephone Committee had proved the utter absurdity of the toll system, while the Argus makes the following comment -
Never was a more crushing blow delivered at a pet idea of some officials which has been cherished and pushed forward for years - in season and out of season. We were deluged with statistics respecting the rates at various cities in the United States and elsewhere, where the charges were much higher than those in force in Victoria and where the toll rate was in existence; but the fact was never recognised that the rate was necessarily high because of the great cost of registering every call and charging accordingly. ,
The Committee has in no way condemned the toll system. It has very properly condemned the system at present in vogue in Australia as introduced by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro - a system which , I have condemned ever since it was introduced. As a very strong advocate of the toll system, I was very pleased to read the report of the Committee, because it only emphasized the ridiculousness and absurdity of the present system. The PostmasterGeneral in reply to a question put by me to-day stated that the Committee, iii reporting that the cost of recording the calls amounted to more than the revenue received from those calls, had not taken into consideration the ground rents. It should have been obvious to us all before, that, with our present system, the cost of recording calls must necessarily be more than the revenue received from those calls, and I am glad the Committee has pointed it out so strongly. I suppose it was not obvious to the Department or to the PostmasterGeneral, who instituted the system, and I admit that I did not reflect on that point before, although I have attacked the present system, which the Committee’s report furnishes another reason for knocking on the head. The following table gives the number of the measured-rate subscribers in the different States, and shows the number of free calls which they would be entitled to -
It will be seen that there are 40,775 measuredrate subscribers in the Commonwealth, and if every one exercised his right to 2,000 free calls, no less than 81,550,000 free calls would have to be recorded before the Commonwealth received a penny of revenue. In view of these facts, I trust that during the recess the PostmasterGeneral will give his attention to this very important question.- Whatever the result may be, it is clear that the present system must go’. Whether the system which I suggested is the right one to adopt or not is, of course, another matter. The report presented by the Committee so far has absolutely nothing’ whatever to do with the system which was brought into existence by the Fisher Government. Up to the present time the Committee have dealt with the rates when all were on the flat rate, and with the rates ‘under the partial toll system inaugurated by the honorable member for Eden-Mona.ro/but they have not dealt in any way with the rates suggested by the Fisher Government.
.- It is the right of honorable members to ventilate any grievances they may have against the Government when Supply is under consideration. I have many grievances against them, but I have a long-standing and very serious grievance which transcends all the rest. It is that they obtained votes from me on the Tariff by false pretences and by dishonorable means.
– Who are “ they “?
– The right honorable gentleman was a member of the Government who did so.
– The honorable member forgets that I was in Opposition before the Tariff was introduced.
– The right honorable gentleman was a member of the Government that met this House with the distinct understanding that they would deal with the Tariff and the new Protection together. It is true that he afterwards had some disagreement with other members of the Government and resigned, but he was responsible, with the present Prime Minister, in the beginning for the declaration that the Tariff and the new Protection wer-2 to be dealt with together. The Prime Minister pledged his word and honour as a public man, and as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, that if honorable members would support the Tariff certain other proposals would be linked with it to give effect to the principle of new Protection. One of the things which has most astounded me as a young man entering Parliament for the first time has been to find that gentlemen who, in ordinary business relations, would scorn the idea of breaking their word or acting in a dishonorable fashion, seem to think that in politics they are at liberty to be guilty of the basest dishonour.
The Temporary chairman (Mr.
Crouch). - If the honorable member refers to any member of the Committee as having been guilty of the basest dishonour, he must withdraw his statement.
– What I said was that it had astounded me, as a young man entering politics, to discover that politicians, who in private business relations would regard their word as pledging their honour, are guilty in public affairs of the basest dishonour without a blush. In fact, it only brings a laugh upon their faces when it is mentioned to them.
– That is a disgraceful thing to saw
– It is true. Statements may be true which are not Parliamentary.
– The statement does not affect me ; the cap does not fit.
– Honorable members opposite must know that I have mentioned this grievance time after time, but it has been only a source of merriment to them thai the Prime Minister, who now leads them should have made a distinct promise on the floor of this House, and should’ then have gone back upon it without a blush.
– The Prime Minister has not gone back upon it at all.
– The honorable gentleman has done so..
– If he were here the honorable member would not insult him.
– The honorable member for Cook a minute or so ago made his remarks so general that I could not direct him to withdraw them. As he has now applied his charge of acting with the basest dishonour to the Prime Minister, I must ask him to withdraw his remarks.
– If you, sir, rule that my remarks are unparliamentary as applied to the Prime Minister, I will withdraw them in accordance w;th the Standing Orders, but I can still think as I please of the conduct of the honorable gentleman. It will be found at page 1784 of Hansard that, on the 13th August, 1907, the honorable member tor Hume, who was at the time Treasurer of the Deakin Ministry, speaking on behalf of the Government, and with the concurrence of the Prime Minister, said -
But I wish honorable members clearly tounderstand that before the Bill dealing with the Tariff is completed, there will be either Excise duties or an improved provision under which there shall be protection insured to the employes, and if possible to the public, in order to prevent the reduction of wages, and the increase of prices unduly.
There is a statement made on behalf of the Government of the day that another measure would be brought forward which, linked with the Tariff, would afford the benefits of the ‘new Protection to the employes. We are now at the close of the Parliament, about two years and three months later, and not a single thing has been done by the Prime Minister to give effect to the promise made on his behalf by the Treasurer of his Government.
– Honorable members opposite turned them out.
– It is not a question of who turned the honorable gentleman out. It is a question of the Prime Minister giving his word that a certain course would be followed, and of the Parliament being brought to a close without his having attempted to do what he promised.
— That is not correct.
– Very well, I shall quote him further in proof of my statement. At page 3986 of Hansard, it will be found that, on the 8th October, 1907, Sir William Lyne, as Treasurer, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister and his Government, made this statement -
The method by which it is proposed to secure that manufacturers whose manufactures are protected by the new Tariff, shall only enjoy that advantage on condition that they pay a fair rate of wages is in outline as follows : -
An Excise duty at the rate of half the duty imposed by the Tariff on imported goods of the same class to be imposed on all goods manufactured in Australia.
An exemption to be made as to all goods which are manufactured under conditions as to remuneration of labour which are fair and reasonable. As this ‘scheme involves the imposition of taxation it can be more conveniently carried out by two Acts, one simply imposing the duties and giving effect to the exemptions, and the other providing the necessary machinery.
We have had one measure imposing the duties ; but the Government have not made any effort to carry the second .measure, which was to be the complement, of the first.
– What about the Inter-State Commission Bill ?
– It has no more relation to the first measure than I have to the moon. It is simply a red herring drawn across the trail. It proposes a further protection to the manufacturer against unfair competition, but does not guarantee any share of Tariff protection to the employes in industries. The Government have a majority in both Houses, and we know that they can whip their supporters into silence, and compel them to vote in direct opposition to the opinions they have expressed in this House. Yet they make no effort in this connexion. ‘
– What is the new Protection the honorable member wants?
– The new Protection I want is the new Protection which was promised by the Prime Minister when the Tariff was going through.
– And which the High Court said was unconstitutional.
– Bui the Prime Minister said that he would ask the people by a referendum to agree to an alteration of the Constitution to give effect to it.
– He did not go as far as that.
– The Prime Minister is pretty good at quibbling ; but the right honorable member for Swan cannot do it so successfully.
– Is not a Wages Board new Protection machinery?
– It is not. Honorable .members opposite know that Wages Boards are not what was promised bv the Government. If the Government had given effect to the proposal they put forward, employers who did .pot pay the stipulated rate of wages fixed by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court would have an Excise duty imposed on their manufactures. They would thus have been fined a certain amount for refusing to comply with the conditions of the new Protection policy.. The Government have made absolutely no attempt to carry that proposal.
– That was found to be ultra vires, and honorable members opposite turned out the Government that made that promise. The present Government never made any promise of the kind.
– This is another quibble. The honorable member for Maribyrnong knows that the present Prime Minister made that promise to this House.
– Not as head of the present Government.
– The present Prime Minister was the head -of the Government which made this promise.
– The honorable member’s party turned that Government out, and is responsible for there not being any new Protection.
– Had there been more Ministers in it like the honorable member, it would have been turned out long before. The fact that that Government was put out of office does not absolve the Prime Minister from the promise which he made on the floor of the chamber to the representatives of the people.
– The honorable member is responsible for its non-fulfilment.
– Did we not fulfil our promises in respect of the Tariff? Did not even Free Traders like myself give Protectionist votes because of the promise that we should have new Protection?
– During the .next few months, I shall travel over a good deal of country exposing the Prime Minister. The Committee hears the miserable quibbles to which gentlemen who have a reputation for veracity and straight dealing resort when faced with broken promises. Having secured the votes of other honorable members, practically under false pretences, what does the honorable member do? He quibbles, and invents excuses for the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member put the Prime Minister out of office, and prevented the bringing in of new Protection, merely to enable the Labour party to take office.
– The Prime Minister is in office again, but with a different set of colleagues. It is the influence of those colleagues that has caused him to -espouse different principles.
– The honorable member is responsible for the Prime Minister’s association with different colleagues.
– We waited for over twelve months, until our patience was exhausted. The Prime Minister did nothing to give effect to his promise.
– The Labour party allowed new Protection to go in order to get place and pav.
– The. honorable member had his head in the nosebag for a good while. He was kept in power for two years, although the Government party, all told, numbered only thirteen. Half of them were Ministers, with a supporter each. Because we did not allow them to remain in office for ever, they are now showing restiveness, which indicates the soreness of their feelings. On the 20th November, 1907, the honorable member for Hume, who was then Minister of Trade and Customs, and had charge . of the Tariff, made this statement en behalf of the Government - Hansard, volume xli.. page 6188 -
He need not be .it all afraid about the New Protection Bill. It will’ be submitted, and will be carried too, or else the Tariff will not be carried.
Is not that a plain statement?
– The Labour party turned the honorable member for Hume .out of office.
– Honorable gentle-, men cannot drown my voice with their continuous interruptions. I shall presently give the honorable member for Mernda some of the physic to which he objected this afternoon. It would appear that what should be an honorable promise is to be treated as a matter for laughter and jeering.
– How could the honorable member for Hume carry out his promise, seeing that he was turned out of office by the Labour party?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong would, as a business man, scorn to repudiate his promissory notes, but he goes back on promises made in Parliament. Such promises seem to be looked upon as means for manipulating votes, in order to secure office, with its consequent social standing and large salary. I would not so much object if I were “ taken down “ in a matter concerning myself alone. In this Chamber I am the representative of 30,000 electors, many of whom have little of this world’s goods, and live from hand to mouth. When T am trapped into giving votes which compro-. mise them, I have a right to resent it. I would rather be tricked of mv personal possessions than be decoyed into voting in a way which would tend to prevent a large number of persons outside from receiving the benefits promised.
– Does the honorable member suggest that that is the position?
– Certainly. The honorable member can make what use he pleases of the statement in my constituency.
– The honorable member is sorry that he voted for Protection.
– The honorable gentleman is putting into my mouth words which I have not uttered. He does not practise his Sunday-school methods in Parliament. He is a good Christian man outside, but inside he interprets . honorable members’ statements into something which they do not intend to say.
– Did not the honorable member say that he was sorry that he had voted for the Tariff?
– I did not make any such statement.
– Then the honorable member did not make himself intelligible.
– The honorable member desires to get me to say that which I have not said.
– The honorable member said that he was trapped into voting for the Tariff.
– The honorable member would not have voted for a number of the Tariff proposals had he not thought that they would be accompanied with new Protection, which would safeguard the interests of the workers.
– What would he have voted for?
– I am not here to answer the honorable member’s questions. I have no responsibility to him. I shall be happy to answer the questions of the people to whom I am responsible.
– Clearly and distinctly?
– That remark is in very bad taste.
– Then let the honorable member keep his interruptions to himself.
– The remark was not Christianlike.
– I have not posed, as the honorable member has done, on a thousand platforms. The right honorable member for East Sydney, on the 20th November,1907, asked the Prime Minister the following question - Hansard, vol. xli., page 6230 -
I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in considering the Tariff and the duties fixed from day to day, the House is to regard the system of New Protection as a part of the understanding upon which those duties are fixed? In other words, do the Government propose to stand by the duties irrespective of whether or not we adopt any system of New Protection? Will it make any difference to the rates of duty whether the system is applied or not, because circumstances may arise which may prevent its application.
To that the Prime Minister replied -
The Ministry put forward the matters referred to by the honorable member as a united proposal - the duties upon one side, and the New Protection upon the other. Of course if it is considered possible that the House may reject the New Protection proposals-
– It may be ruled that those proposals are unconstitutional.
– If I could conceive that it could be ruled that this House is not competent to make any provision in regard to rates of wages, then, of course, it would be within our power to make such amendments in the Tariff Schedule as we may think fit.
The Prime Minister clearly indicated that if effect were not given to the dual proposals, the House would have an opportunity to reconsider the Tariff votes. On the nth March, 1908, I asked the Prime Minister this question - Hansard, vol. xliv. page 8816 -
As anumber of members voted for certain Protectionist duties on the understanding that the prices of protected manufactures would be regulated, and employes in such industries would secure stipulated wages and conditions of service, will the Government give such members an opportunity of reconsidering their Tariff votes in the event of any circumstances beyond the Government’s control preventing the New Protection proposals from being introduced ?
This was the Prime Minister’s reply -
I should be very sorry to admit, even by inference, that we think the introduction of the New Protection scheme will be placed beyond Government control. If by any combination of circumstances it were so placed, I believe and hope that the obstacle would be temporary. Until such an emergency arises it would not be reasonable to make a statement as to what may be done, inasmuch as the particular cause of the difficulty would first have to be ascertained. No one would look forward with equanimity to once more considering the Tariff, but -
Note these emphatic words - it was passed by this House with the publiclyannounced intention of the Government to supplement it with what is popularly known as the- New Protection, and whatever may be the result of present proceedings, the Government is absolutely bound by its undertaking.
– On a point of order, I ask if the honorable member is justified’ in misrepresenting the position of this or any other Government? The whole tenor of his speech would seem to indicate-
– This is not a point of order. It is a trick. It is one of the honorable member’s Christian tricks.
– I ask for that remark to be withdrawn.
– I will first hear the honorable member’s point of order.
– The honorable member should state a point of order, and not make a speech in the middle of my speech.
– If the honorable member for Maribyrnong has a point of order to state, will he please submit it?
– My point of order is that the honorable member is misrepresenting the situation and misleading the Committee.
– That is untrue.
– I contend that the present Government made no such promise as he has attributed to them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That is not a point of order.
– My statement of a few moments ago that this is merely a trick on the part of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, is borne out by the ruling of the Chairman that there is no point of order involved.
– I rise to a point of order. 1 ask that the statement that this is merely a trick onmy part, be withdrawn.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That is not a point of order. The honorable member for Cook will proceed.
– This is merely a trick on the part of the honorable member for Maribyrnong to get a certain statement in the report of my speech. The honorable member has outside the reputation of being a Christian, yet when I show that promises made in this House have been ruthlessly broken, he makes a jesting matter of it.
– I am not jesting at all. The honorable member helped to turn out the Government who gave that promise.
– The honorable member is making” a jest of the whole matter. I hope that he will be able to explain to the workers of his electorate the attitude that he now takes up. He is acting as an apologist for the Prime Minister, who has gone back on promises that he made when the Tariff was before us.
– The Prime Minister is present now.
– He knows thatI have made these statements again and again to his face.
– But he does not worry much.
– No, because it seems that in the case of some honorable members whatever little conscience they may have had when they entered Parliament, is left on the shelf when they are truckling after office.
– The honorable member should look after himself.
– I am. Even if I were defeated at the next general electionI could find a good deal of consolation inthe fact, because I do not think that Parliamentary life improves any man.
– I thought that the honorable member had high ideals.
– I have, and I value my word, but the honorable member and some of those with whom he is associated, do not attach much value to their word of honour.
– If the honorable member were a bigger man we should ask to have that statement withdrawn.
– I am big enough for the honorable member either here or anywhere else. He may think that he is funny, but others regard him as being foolish. On the 28th March, 1908, the Prime Minister said -
The proposal is that the Excise Board, on the best evidence that is laid before us, shall allow any profit consistent with fair wages and prices. It will provide for the administration of just icein relation to industrial affairs, and that justicemust cover the necessary inducement to manufacturers to manufacture as well as to consumers to purchase.
In view of these promises repeatedly made on the floor of the House while the Tariff was under consideration, one would think it impossible for the Prime Minister to escape the responsibility of his word of honour. These promises were made not only by him, but by his colleague who had charge of the Tariff Bill in this House. It is one of the regrettable features of publiclife that some honorable gentlemen are prepared to pass their word of honour to get themselves out of a temporary difficulty, and if they succeed think no more about it-
– Never mind, the honorable member and I have gained a lot of experience.
– I have gained somuch experience that if the Prime Minister made a promise to me in this House, I should not take the slightest notice of it.
– It is very sad.
– It is too cruel.
– Of course, it is a jesting matter with those honorable members who have been associated with politics for some years. In connexion with business transactions, they would sign promissory notes and honour them, but the promissory notes of their public life give them not a moment’s concern.
– All this will read very well.
– The Minister of Defence has joined the Prime Minister, and apparently one of the conditions of. the Fusion was that the new Protection proposals of the late Deakin Government should be thrown overboard. When the Minister of Defence was Leader of the Opposition he ridiculed those proposals. We know that he is supported by the Employers’ Federation, and the great manufacturers of Australia to whose interest it is that there should be heavy Customs duties, giving them to a large extent a monopoly of the local market, but who desire to carry on their business without paying their employes the fair remuneration to which they are entitled.
– Oh !
-The -Minister of Defence has a reputation outside for probity and uprightness. Yet he delights in the fact that he has joined forces with the Prime Minister and has made it a condition of their coming . together that the Prime Minister should go back on his word of honour.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I have made the same remark many times.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member has done so I have not heard him, and I ask him now to withdraw it.
– I refuse to withdraw it. I made the statement before that the Prime Minister who gave these promises had broken his word of honour.
– I have to exercise my own judgment, and as in my opinion the words used bv the honorable member are offensive, I ask him to withdraw them.
– I fail to see that the statement T have made is in anv sense unparliamentary.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw it since I regard it as offensive, otherwise-
– If you, sir, so regard the remark I shall withdraw it as being unparliamentary.
– I do not think it is.
– Nor do I. The Chairman is unduly anxious, I think, to protect the Prime Minister. To emphasize the attitude of the late Deakin Government, I would point out that, not satisfied with the answers furnished to questions put to them from time to time, in regard to new Protection, on 13th December, 1907, they placed on the table of the House a Parliamentary paper entitled, “ New Protection - Explanatory memorandum in regard to.” That paper was made an official document of the House, and it indicated the matured decision of the Government. In one of its clauses we had the statement -
The aim of the proposals about to be outlined is more ambitious. The “ old “ Protection contented itself with making good wages possible. The “ new “ Protection seeks to make them actual. It aims at, according to the manufacturer, that degree of exemption from unfair outside competition which will enable him to pay fair and reasonable wages without impairing the maintenance and extension of his industry, or its capacity to supply the local market. It does not stop here. Having put the manufacturer in a position to pay good wages, it goes on to assure the public that he does pay them. This of course involves a careful adjustment of the duties to the double purpose they are intended to serve. For that reason the proposals for the “ new “ protection include the establishment of permanent machinery for investigating and ascertaining whether the duties are really effective for these purposes. If they are, fair and reasonab’e wages must be paid. Tf they are not, the alternative is to alter the duties.
Two years have passed since that memorandum was issued, yet although the Prime Minister of that day is the Prime Minister of to-day, no attempt has been made to give effect to the policy of the new Protection or to vary the Tariff. In another official paper presented by the late Deakin Government in October, 1908, we had the statement - .
When Parliament was considering the Tariff it was clearly understood that the benefits to the industries affected were to be fairly shared between the manufacturer and worker. . . .Inorderto carry out these objects, it is proposed to insert new paragraphs in section 51 of the Constitution, so as to enable the Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to - (xxxv.a ) the employment and remuneration of labour in any industry which, in the opinion of the Inter-State Commission, is protected by duties of Customs. (xxxv.b.) the grant to the Inter-State Commission and its members of such powers of regulation, adjudication, and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for giving effect to any laws made in pursuance of the last preceding paragraph, subject to such review, if any, as the Parliament prescribes.
In that paper was outlined a proposal to amend the Constitution, but up to the present time no Bill has been presented to the House to provide for a referendum to alter the Constitution in that direction. I hold, therefore, that the Prime Minister must be branded in this connexion as one who, having given his honest word to this House that effect should be given to the policy of the new Protection, has gone back upon it in order to meet party political exigencies and for his own personal political advantage. In order that he may continue in office and bow to the will of the still stronger Conservatives associated with him., he has gone back upon a promise repeatedly made to the House. We find now in the closing hours of the Parliament that no effort has been made to give effect to the promise as to the introduction of the policy of the new Protection, upon which a Government led by the Prime Minister were able to secure sufficient votes to pass the Tariff. I understand that there is a desire to transmit these Supplementary Estimates without delay to the Senate, which is waiting for them, but I have a few more remarks to make. If the Government will give me an opportunity to continue my remarks later on I shall be content.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 14 to 16 (External A fairs), ;£493 > divisions 17 to 20 (AttorneyGeneral), ;£6’53 ; divisions 23 to 29 (Home Affairs), -£2,660; divisions 32 and 33A (Treasury), ,£1,084; divisions 37 to 45 (Trade and Customs), ,£4,439 ; divisions 46 to 179 (Defence), .£2,853; and divisions 190 to 195 (Postmaster-General), £9>655> agreed to.
Divisions 3 to 7 (Additions, New Works, Buildings, &°c), ,£2,459, agreed to-
Standing Orders suspended, and resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, covering resolutions of Supply, adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Glynn do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and passed through all its stages.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Glynn do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and passed through all its stages.
– As honorable members are aware, a vacancy has occurred in the representation of the Electoral Division of Hindmarsh, through the death of the. Honorable James Hutchison. It is generally understood that this is the last sitting day of the session, and that it is not intended to hold any further session prior to the general election early next year. If an election were held, it could not take place until after the lapse of several weeks. The member returned would, therefore, have no opportunity of taking his seat in Parliament, and, after the expiry of a few weeks, would, on the dissolution of Parliament, cease to be a member. An election would, of course, cause considerable expense to the Commonwealth, and trouble to the electors of the division, without any appreciable advantage to either; therefore, my present intention’ is not to issue a writ, under the circumstances, for the vacant division.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives.
Bill returned from the Senate, without request.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until
Close of the Session - New Protection - Tariff Anomalies - Elective Ministries-Old-Age Pensions.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to take this opportunity to thank honorable members for the generosity and assiduity with which, during the closing days of this session, they have assisted us to dispose of a large amount of business, which could not have been attempted had there not been practical unanimity in this Chamber.
– That is an admission at last ! The Opposition are not all bad !
– Having regard to the stormy circumstances under which the session commenced, and the magnitude of the issues which have been dealt with, such a conclusion to our labours presents many gratifying features. I venture to believe that, even with an intensity of feeling which is sincere, and a conflict of principle which is actual, there is still, and I trust always will be, room for the mutual appreciation of men who regard public affairs from different stand-points, and have honestly arrived at different conclusions in regard to the best methods by which the interests of Australia can be served. We do not minimize our present differences, but, at the same time, realize that for the great majority pf honorable members there are high objects in view for which they are ready to sacrifice themselves, or to stake their political and public careers in their sincere belief in the doctrines they advocate. May I, Mr. Speaker, respectfully offer you my congratulations on the dignity and firmness with which you have discharged the duties of your position during the last months of this session, under novel circumstances often exceedingly trying though, perhaps, inevitable at the close of this Parliament?
And through you, sir, may I refer to the officers of the House, whose untiring labours, and whose frank and generous assistance to all members immensely facilitates the discharge of our duties ? The best testimony to the value of their services is the absolute reliance which members, as a whole, place in them at all times. I must not forget the very exhausting labours which have fallen on many of the officers and attendants during the prolonged sittings that havebeen frequent during the whole of the session, and especially towards its close. May I express the hope that you, sir, and the officers at the table and throughout the House, may enjoy that respite which the Christmas season brings, and which in your case and their case is more than justified by the work that has been accomplished? Once more expressing my best wishes to all honorable members for the enjoyment of the Christmas season, and of the pleasant period to follow, which I hope will be satisfactory to many, and fruitful of good to this country, let me congratulate honorable members on having taken part in a session which, having regard to the greatness of the subjects submitted, and the bold manner in which they have been dealt with, is, I venture to say, the most fruitful, and certainly the most impressive, that the Commonwealth has yet seen.
.- I had intended to take this opportunity to continue my remarks which I was making in Committee of Supply, but I understand that some of my colleagues desire to say a few words; and, as I have already occupied about half-an-hour this evening, I think it my duty to give way to them.
.- As this may be my “ dochandoris,” as it were, though I am far from prophesying that I shall not come here again, I desire to say a few words. The Prime Minister has said that, taking into consideration the great questions dealt with, and the outcome of the discussions, he is satisfied with the work of the session ; but I cannot say that I am. In my opinion, the only outcome which has proved satisfactory to myself during the three years I have been here - and I believe the only outcome that is really satisfactory to Australia - is the Old-age Pensions Act. But until its invalid provisions are carried out, even that Act will not be complete. I came here, not only as a Labour man, but as a staunch Protectionist, and, after listening to the Treasurer, I have grave doubts whether our Tariff is of an)’ use from a Protective stand-point. The right honorable gentleman says that, without any appreciable increase of population, he will receive this year from Customs duties ^300,000 more than he expected. A duty operating successfully from an industrial stand-point would keep out importations, but apparently they are larger than ever. If goods that can be manufactured here are coming in in larger quantities, no real Protectionist can be satisfied, and the Tariff can be regarded as little more than a revenue one. As to the question of how high it is necessary to go, it may be essential in the interests of our industries to adopt the Japanese system of continually raising the duties until we actually manufacture what we at present import. Many avowed Protectionists in the House are satisfied with the present Tariff, but I am not, and no true Protectionist’ can be. While commodities which ought to be manufactured here are coming in, many of our people must be out of work, and even now we have as many unemployed as Australia can afford to keep. I have also to express m> regret that the Government have not attempted to introduce the new Protection. I am in a somewhat different position from the honorable member for Cook. He, although not a Protectionist in the true sense of the word, assisted the then Government, with others, in imposing duties, in the hope that the same amount of Protection would be given to the employes as to the manufacturers. I can enumerate five representatives on thi:, side who, if they had followed their political convictions, would have voted to make almost every article free; but they were told that by voting for duties they would insure good conditions of employment to the worker, and that the consumer would also have his fair share of Protection. The honorable member for Maranoa is a striking instance. He said that i>o vote of his would be cast to throw any men out of work; and, although a staunch Free Trader, he assisted the Deakin Government, in 1907 and 1908, to aise duties, because he was told by the Prime Minister that the men would get their share under the new Protection system. Owing to the changes that have taken place among the parties in this House, the Prime Minister, with his great ability, will probably be able to prove that he had not an opportunity tq fulfil his promise, but I believe that if he had approached the question in the way that he made us believe he would, we might have been able in some measure to achieve what we desired. In future, although our import duties are not high enough in view of the increase of imports, and the manufacturers are crying out for greater Protection, I shall not fall into the same trap. Although I and others have helped the manufacturers to secure the Protection which they have obtained, I know that the greatest opposition which I shall have to meet in the coming fight willcome from them. When the manufacturers and their emissaries were working in the lobbies or elsewhere for assistance, they got it mostly from the Labour ranks, and from all, except perhaps two. of the immediate supporters of. the Deakin Government. Why was I at that time a hack of the Deakin Government? Why did I assist them in their policy of Protection? Because I was told at the time that by so doing I would assist the men who sent me here. The Labour party of twenty-six stood behind the Deakin party of fifteen on the question, because we were assured that we would get some benefits in return for our constituents, but our desires and hopes have not been consummated. The two-party system which we were looking for has, to a certain extent, been brought about in this Chamber, although there is more than one party at present in’ the Fusionist crowd, as has been made apparent in the discussion of several Bills recently brought forward. I am not satisfied with what I have received from the Prime- Minister in a political sense during mv term in this House from the new Protection stand-point, and in the approaching fight I shall emphasize that fact. Even under the small modicum of new Protection at: tempted in the harvester Excise legislation, the Government told us that they could not collect the Excise from the manufacturers until it was proved that they were not paying fair wages. The employes in the industry obtained a judgment from a High Court Judge that the en. plovers were not paying fair wages, and the employers concerned took the matter to a higher tribunal. The present Minister of External Affairs, who was at that time Attorney-General. led the case in the Court in support of the legislation of this Parliament, and at that stage the Government had to show some concern in the matter.
But the Prime Minister and his immediate supporters in the last Ministry are deserving of the strongest condemnation for not placing on the Estimates a sum to defray the law expenses of the employes. To a Labour union, which had only been formedfor a comparatively short space of time, the costs incurred were a most serious item. If the men in the industry had been getting fair wages, or if their appeal to the Court had been successful, there would not have been so much difficulty in meeting the expenses they incurred. I am satisfied that there is not an honorable member on the other side who would not be personally prepared to assist in defraying the expenses of those men. Seeing that they took action’ in order that effect might be given to an Act of this Parliament, the Government might, in all fairness, come to their assistance. T blame the Prime Minister, because he was the head of the Government who introduced the Act. Knowing that an alteration of the Constitution is necessary to give the effect to the new Protection principle, he is permitting this Parliament to close without giving the people an opportunity by a referendum to say whether in their opinion the Federal Parliament should have the power to enact industrial legislation. If the Government had not made arrangements for another referendum, they might be excused for saving that it would be inconvenient to conduct a referendum on this question during a general election. But they have done what is necessary to have a referendum taken for another purpose which was not thought of before the Fusion Government was formed. We cannot now secure an alteration of the Constitution to give effect to the principle of new Protection for at least another three years. We were promised the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. The Minister of Defence, when charged with inactivity in this matter, said that the State Premiers had agreed to hand over this class of legislation to the Commonwealth Parliament. I have been gulled in the past, but I am not likely to be so easily gulled in the future, and it is asking too much of me to ask me to believe that the State Premiers, speaking on behalf of Legislative Councils nominated or elected on a restrictive franchise, are prepared to hand over to this Parliament the powers which they have clung to so tenaciously since Federation was established. If they do agree to hand over industrial legislation to this Parliament, it will be accompanied by some check which will make it useless so far as the interests of the workers are concerned. In some of the States we have elective Upper Houses, the members of which are returned on a very much restricted franchise, and in others nominee chambers composed of Tories holding just as strongly Conservative opinions, and I cannot be induced to believe that the members of these Chambers will hand over to a Parliament elected on an adult suffrage . the powers which they have exercised in their own interests for ears. If the Government think they will, then they have learned nothing by experience. The Prime Minister has, on more than one occasion, told this Parliament that he has been unable to secure the co-operation of the State Parliaments in connexion with his proposals foi land settlement and immigration. If I am told that because of the financial agreement the State Parliaments will recede from the position they have previously taken up, I can only say that I do not believe it. I can quite understand that the Government would regard as unreasonable the introduction of a. new Tariff so soon after the passing of the last. But every member of this House is aware that there are certain Tariff anomalies which must be looked into. The honorable member for Melbourne endeavoured to deal with one of them in connexion with another measure to-day. We have manufacturers here whose raw materia] is the finished product of other industries, and they are not protected as they ought to be. The Government will find it difficult to make the people of Victoria believe that they are sincere in their professed desire to rectify Tariff anomalies. I express myself strongly on this question, not only because my constituents are deeply interested in it, but because I am a Protectionist from conviction. I have often said that I should be prepared to favour prohibition for the benefit of industries, not like the sugar industry, which’ controls a monopoly, but of industries in which there is free competition among local manufacturers, by which prices can be regulated to the public. I express the hope that the next Parliament will be able to do better work than this Parliament has done from the workers’ stand-point. If it does not, it will only be playing into the hands of the party I represent. I may be asked what more I can want. I am willing to ally myself with the most Conservative section in the House if they will carry legislation for the benefit of the people who sent me here. I trust that the Prime Minister who, I believe, is the real power in the present Government, should he come back from the country with a majority, will so mould his legislation that the workers, as well as the employers, will derive some benefit from it.
– I have a few words to say in the closing hours of this Parliament. It is possible that some honorable members would be justified in addressing the House at this stage, in the words used by the gladiators in the circus of old Rome, “ Those who are about to die, salute thee.” But there is no reason why, after a good fight, friendly feelings should not be expressed, and I was glad that our thanks were conveyed to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the officers of the House generally. I regret the absolute waste of this session, and if I were asked to indicate the cause’ of it, I should say that it is the cursed system of party government which has been tried and has failed. With all respect for the intelligence of the members of the present Government, it will be agreed that if the Government in this Parliament were elected it would not be constituted as it is at present. There are some members of the Government for whom I should vote, but there are others for whom I think I would not be prepared to vote. An elective Ministry would really represent the House, and their election would not be followed by the heartburnings which the Prime Minister must know have been occasioned amongst some of his own supporters. The members of the Labour party set an example in this matter, and after twenty years’ experience, I am able to say that I never knew a Ministry whose formation caused less heartburnings amongst the supporters of the party.
– The party having the majority would always elect their own Ministers.
– The answer to that is that no one party has ever been known to dominate the Ministry in the Republic of Switzerland. By the adoption of the elective system, we should eliminate the sense of party as it exists in this Parliament at present. In the Age of to-day, the writer of one of the best leading articles I have had the privilege of reading, says -
Sir William Lyne complained of the Prime Minister that he had got Labour votes for a protective Tariff on the pledge of the New Protection to the wage earner, and that having got those votes there was a failure to make good the promise upon which they were obtained. The Prime Minister, whatever he may say, has given up the referendum, which was the only effective means. He has done this in obedience to what Mr. Joseph Cook called the “ absurdity of the Referendum.” And those who are cheated out of their promised rights, and are now put off with some statement about getting the thing done in another way by means of the Inter-State Commission, will find little comfort in their defeat. Here we are, at the end of 1909, with Parliament going out of being, having done nothing to give us this New Protection. [ was led to believe that the Prime Minister had given up new Protection, and I was pleased to get the reply that he had not. Our weapons are down now, and we have ceased fighting. If the Prime Minister comes back from the country, let us have the real Protection, not the abortion that we have at present. Tonight, though, perhaps, with little avail, I tried to do away with the sex tax, the tax that is unjustly placed on the women folk of Australia, and is so vile in its incidence that over £500,000 is added to the revenue by means of it. We have old-age pensions, and thank God for them. The question has not been made a party one, and no member of any party would dare to raise a finger in support of doing away with these pensions. But there is in existence an infamous system of questions whose initiation was not the fault of the Treasurer. When the history of them comes to be written, it will be written as if drawn in blood. I believe that if a hand printed in red were stamped on the cover, it would be a fitting adornment to the schedule of questions with which 60,000 of our old people have been insulted. Persons who are Christ-like in their poverty, with the silver of years in their hair, have been made to answer questions which no one, speaking truthfully, would like his own mother or his own father to ask him. Under the Victorian administration, the magistrates desecrated the pensions system. Reform has been promised time and again, and yet, at the end of the last session of the Parliament, these questions, which are an insult to the intelligence of the community, are still in existence. But there is something even greater than the providing of pensions for old persons. In the majority of cases the potentialities of the aged, for the good of the community, have gone with their sixty-five years and more. What shall we say of the babe, of the child life that is so often sacrificed in our midst? What shall we say of a father and mother, who have the quiver more than full, and whose income is insufficient to provide food, shelter, and clothing for their offspring? I had a motion on the businesspaper, the kernel of which was this : When any reputable person says that there is not sufficient income to find food, shelter, and clothing for an Australian babe, he shall have the right to apply for a pension for it. But day has followed day, week has followed week, and month has followed month, and no opportunity has been given to take a vote on the proposal. I do not blame the Government for that. During the last few days they have kindly given me an opportunity to deal with a subject which is very near my heart. I thank the Prime Minister for his courtesy, which in its way is inimitable. There should be means whereby a private member may know how many will support the proposals which he brings forward. I have touched the new Protection question in all sincerity. The new Protection, when we have it, will declare that nothing that can be made by man or woman working in our community shall be imported free, but that everything that cannot be made in Australia, and is the raw product of a manufacturer, shall come in free. What care I if the Minister of Defence, or anv other Minister, is opposed to, or only half-heartedly in favour of, the referendum. When we have the referendum, the people of Australia will be dominant over Parliament over the Ministry, and even over the Governor-General, and then, and then only, shall we have a Democracy worthy of the name. When that time comes, questions about which private members may now wear out their hearts will be dealt with. An elective Ministry, child pensions, a. true new Protection, and a referendum, those four points being gained, our Australia will rise as a great example to the nations of the earth. This will give power and impetus to Democracv everywhere. It will raise the value of life higher even than the cursed value which is put upon property. Then will Australia be the vanguard of the Empire, and lead the way to a brighter future.
– In viewof the last motion which we carried this will probably be the final meeting of the session. It is an occasion when we might well review the work which we have done.
– Are we all to do that?
– Those who feel that they should do it may avail themselves of the opportunity. I shall not dwell upon details. There is at least one measure with which I am in hearty sympathy, and proud to have assisted in passing it. I am very proud to have assisted in passing that particular measure - I refer to the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. I think that New South Waleswas one of the first States in which such humanitarian legislation was enacted. I had the privilege of taking part in the enactment of that legislation. Tn this House I have been able to take a small share in. extending similar legislation to the whole of the Commonwealth. My only regret is that the measure does not yet extend to the invalid portion of our community. I hope that the Government will lose no time in making the Act applicable to the invalid, as well as the aged, section of our people. The Tariff is a matter which does not appeal to me. On the floor of this chamber I fought consistently to secure as low a Tariff as possible. If I failed, it is because the majority must rule. Some honorable members on this side of the House consider that they have a grievance in connexion with the Tariff, because the Prime Minister promised to extend the benefits which are alleged to flow from a Protective policv to the. worker and consumer, as well as to the manufacturer. I did not attach much importance to that promise, and consequentlv I am not disappointed. I think that the measure which was brought forward, and which was designed to give effect to the new Protection was well . worthy the earnest consideration of the House. I think the honorable member for Cook was scarcelv fair to the Prime Minister whenhe charged him with deliberately breaking his promise in this connexion.
– Did he not break it?
– I do not saythat he did not: But the Prime Minister has many worthy qualities which I admire, though, like every other man, he hashis failings. One of those failings is that he is too susceptible to the influences by which he is immediately surrounded. That is the outcome of his good nature and kindly disposition. When he made the promisein question, he was surrounded by the Labour party, who were strongly seized with the necessity which existed for that reform. Consequently he could see it in the rose- coloured light in which they viewed it.. But now that he is surrounded by other influences, he is not so much concerned with the interests of the working people.
– Do not say that. The working men send us here.
– Probably they do. If they knew what would best serve their own interests, probably they would send somebody else here to represent them. Nobody can serve two masters. That maxim applies to politics as much as to other occupations in life. A man can serve only the capitalistic class or the working class. I make no pretence in this respect. Whilst I strive to do justice all round, I am here to advance the interests of the working and producing classes, and to secure to them as great a measure of justice and fair treatment as is possible. I am not here specially to safeguard the interests of the capitalist. But I hope that I am able to do justice to the capitalist as well as to the workers. That, too, 1 think represents the attitude of the Prime Minister. Whatever may’ be the explanation of his failure to redeem his promise in regard to the new Protection, the fact remains that when he was surrounded byother influences ‘ he declared that the natural corollary of giving Protection to our manufacturers was to extend a similar benefit to the workers. Accordingly he introduced certain measures which were acceptable to honorable members on this side of the House, and the adoption of which, I believe, would go a long way towards solving the problem with which we are confronted. But he now proposes entirely different measures. He contemplates leaving the matter in the hands of the States, and utilizing the power of -the Commonwealth in that connexion only when the States agree to utilize it. Whilst members of the Opposition have reason to complain of his failure to keep his promise, i would not charge him with deliberate treachery in this matter. But I do think that he is disposed to unduly reflect the influences of his present environment. On the other hand, the Treasurer, who has pronounced convictions, and who possesses a strong personality, does not reflect the sentiments of those by whom he is surrounded. He is rather disposed to impress his individuality upon them. I very much regret that the conditions which governed the enactment of our present Tariff were not similar to those which governed the enactment of our first
Tariff. The Labour party really controlled the first Tariff in its revenue producing incidence. As a result of their determination, the purely revenue incidence of that Tariff was reduced by ^1,000,000. But it was not the Labour party which determined the character of the present Tariff ; it was the Conservative members of the AntiSocialist party who then occupied the Opposition corner. ‘ Whilst those honorable members were generally Protectionists, they were Revenue Tariffists first, and they took good care to see that thi Tariff was loaded with revenue duties. Hence the present Tariff, instead of being a reflex of the previous one, produces a very much larger revenue. These honorable members were not to blame. They had special interests to protect. If Protective duties were effective, a certain amount of revenue had to be raised to make good the loss of revenue :n that direction, and it had to come from indirect or direct taxes. Indirect taxation always falls upon the masses of the people, while direct taxation comes from the classes more generally. So, to preserve their particular interests, they combined for the purpose of getting as high duties as possible on Tariff items. That represents the present effect of it, and I disagree with it> because it puts burdens upon the shoulders of the masses, who can ill-afford to bear them. With respect to the financial arrangement, I am certainly in disagreement with it. The young Commonwealth was coming into its constitutional birthright, and, because the Premiers of the States thought that it was not fit to be intrusted with larger powers, and because the Fusionist party was prepared, for the sake of a .present convenience, and future political advantages, to sell the birthright of the Commonwealth for a mess of pottage; that agreement has been embodied in legislation which is to be submitted by a referendum to the country for final decision. It will be for the electors to decide whether this Parliament shall continue to be clothed with the large powers which it was granted in the Constitution, or whether it shall be permanently deprived of a very large measure of those powers. I am glad to know that a new direction has been given to Australian defence, and that, in addition to territorial defence,- we are to have a policy which will embrace a navy. But, in connexion with that, I regret that the Government, because of the financial arrangement with the States, are now going to the money-lender in the Old World for the capital necessary to start the naval scheme of defence. That does not appeal to me as a satisfactory arrangement. I would prefer to see Australia, even if she made a small start, begin with her own capital to provide a thoroughly Australian means of defence. I hope that whomsoever the constituents may return, a number of the mistakes which have been made in the present House will be remedied, and that the best interests of United Australia will be considered in the new Parliament.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, and speaking as the only ex-Minister present on this side, I join with the Prime Minister in the felicitations which he has expressed, not only at the season of the year, but also at the termination of the third Parliament. I realize that during the present session, as well as preceding sessions of this Parliament, we have had very heavy work to do. 1 suppose that my honorable friends on the opposite side will credit me with being sincere in the arguments which I advanced. I have not the slightest doubt that they will not spare me in the very near future ; and I do not suppose that I shall spare them. Before we part, I wish to pay my meed of praise to the officers of the House, from the Clerk down to the youngest messenger, for the courtesy and the consideration which they have always shown to every honorable member. I trust that all of us who are present, whether we are to come back or not, will enjoy the festive season which is approaching, and I hope that every officer of the House will do the same.
– Before putting the question, I desire to convey my appreciation of the very many kindnesses which I have received from honorable members all round the Chamber. I hope that whatever may be the result of the forthcoming appeal to the country, all will feel that the best which could be done was done in the circumstances with which we were faced. This Parliament has, I believe, a better body of officers than is to be found in any Parliament in the world. During the last few months, I have been brought into very close contact with all of the officers, and the appreciation which I had before for their high qualities has been considerably enhanced by the more perfect knowledge which I have been able to obtain of their loyalty, their ability, their industry, and their self-sacrifice. I wish honorable members all the compliments of the season.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11. 12 p.m.
Australia to wit.
By His Excellency the Right Honorable William Humble, Earl of Dudley, a member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Governor- General and Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 December 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091208_reps_3_54/>.